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Posted on December 9, 2013
Castaway Diary, day 24 continued even further.
Well, after last week’s carnage – having pulled what seems to have been the entire barbarian camp into one massive fucked-up melee – this week’s session was bound to be quieter. When you’ve ascended the top of the skull throne, there are no more heads to take. That doesn’t mean weapons weren’t drawn in anger, but it does mean there was a lot of Scooby-Doo investigation of the cannibal compound. Some questions were answered, but by the cries of protest when I called the session to an end, many remain. Maybe some new ones were added to the pot…
Percy gathered everyone together, although they had been fairly close to finish the fight with Klorak, and channeled some healing. Actually quite a lot of healing.
Uun, still with Darkvision active, sank back into the black dome of Nobody’s Darkness and went to check the buildings, entering the large well-built hut on the North side of the settlement. In it, he found a single room of what appeared to be crude sleeping quarters and by the stench of flatulence and scrotal musk, decided this was probably the male cannibals hut. Other than how much everything smelled like balls, the structure itself was in good condition. The room had only one feature, other than the piles of dried palm leaves and crude drawings of big-titted barbariettes on the wall; an oven of some sort was built into the walls. Sturdy stone with a metal door in the front, the inside had a very small area for actual baking, if that is even the kind of oven it was. Uun really didn’t care too much and so rushed to the next building to try to get in a fight with something.
Nobody, Orny and Aerys stuck around the mound of corpses they had created and Nobody used his Appraise skill to scan a pile of stuff and pick out the most valuable thing; which was pretty much everything on Klorak. Everything Klorak had on was of a better quality than any other cannibal’s stuff. Nobody picked out a heavy wooden shield and the mad blood-drinking bastard’s scimitar. Orny cast Identify to take a look at Klorak’s gear and the witch’s stuff he had taken from the corpse of the arrow peppered witch while Aerys kept another arrow nocked and kept her eye on the jungle’s edge and any potential hiding places (which was almost everywhere). The wand, Orny identified as one of Vampiric Touch, a handy spell to have although it had few charges left. But the scimitar and quarterstaff were just a scimitar and a quarterstaff although the scimitar was masterwork.
Percy, Victor and Malicia, meanwhile, decided to skirt Nobody’s Darkness area and head towards the lighthouse. They stopped to peer into the plank and bamboo covered pit – their non-human eyes seeing into the darkness a little better than dumb-old human eyes. In truth, the tengu could see little. The sky was dark because of the storm and the intermittent (although perhaps slightly more frequent) slashes of lightning across the sky were making it tough to see anything for a long time. Staring into pits is something Nobody is good at though and he could elaborate on what Malicia saw between the gaps of the planking: a circular shaft that descended 10′ and then opened out into what must be a larger cave. The floor was visible as it was only 20′ from the pit top and it was lightly littered with debris; some splinters of wood but unmistakeably bones and scraps of scalp too. Nobody squinted at the debris and noticed that the bones were scattered – random ribs here, jawbone there, limb bones over there. If bodies or body parts had been dumped down here, they had been moved by something else, they had not simply landed and stayed.
Percy progressed through the door into the lighthouse complex and found himself in a small room that seemed to link the squat lighthouse with the other building to the south. Doors led North and South and two stools sat here. Finding a few knucklebone dice, Percy surmised that this was a guardroom. Taking one of the dice, he cast Light on it and returned to the whole and cast the die into it. Illuminating what they had already glimpsed in darkness. Uun arrived and looked at the hole, silently swearing that he would slay those planks. They could all see that there was a thin coating of blood across the floor down there and I worried that they would decide to go down it, because I hadn’t drawn the map. As it was, they agreed that they should search the stuff up top, which was sensible and fortuitous for me. Malicia noted – because no-one else asked – but for a hole filled with gore and bone, it didn’t really smell too bad.
The lightning gathered pace and the rain worsened, so they were probably a little relieved to get into the guardroom Percy had opened up. Most of them piled in that way, but Uun and Percy decide to go through another door in the southern building, this one covered by tied canvas sheeting. Uun tried walking through it. That did not work. Victor slashed the canvas and Uun stumbled through into a covered balcony. Percy and Malicia arrived from the doorway that led to the guardroom and eventually they all came in to take a look. The room had one side open to the elements, although chest-high railings partially barred the view. Two sturdy and heavily used tables stood against the railings and over them could be seen a drop down into a walled in yard. A door on one side of this balcony/veranda arrangement led down into the yard via some stairs. In the yard, there were two features of note. Wooden posts, topped with an iron ring were studded into the earth of the yard at irregular, but roughly 5′, intervals. Those appeared to be more recent additions to the landscape, at least, not as old as the rest of the building. The second feature of note was a sinkhole that had opened up in one corner of the yard, destroying the wall and creating a 10′ deep pit. Uun, driven by his need to be surrounded by foes and hacked to pieces before his friends could arrive to aid him, went ahead, bypassing the door to the yard and vaulting over the railing onto the flight of steps. Victor did the same and they checked out the pit, a slippery sided sinkhole into which all manner of refuse had been tipped, not all of which was vegetable. Scraps of hair and chunks of rotting gristle lay among the slops. They spent a minute or two fannying around in this room trying to figure out what it was used for but either a) biffed their perception checks or b) made great perception checks from 30′ away from the object they were examining.
Uun had had enough of this and rushed through to the lighthouse, searching for something to get in a fight with. The others trailed along after the path he had blazed, Orny lighting the way with his Disco Dancing Lights spell. The first floor had three rooms two it, a wet and muddy floored entrance, from which two doors and an open stairway were visible. There was a large log against one wall and we spent an undue amount of time trying to discern whether or not this may have been a bench. Some seemed keen to confirm, beyond all doubt that it was a bench. The two rooms connected to this entryway contained two quite different things.
At first glance the first room seemed to be a nest – a mostly empty room with a large circular arrangement of driftwood branches, filled with feathers and dried palm leaves. On further inspection by Malicia, she confirmed that -as a tengu – she found this bed/nest most un-tengulike. More over, there was a musky smell to it and raw meat had obviously been consumed in it, two habits she has a hard time reconciling with tengu behaviour. So yes, kind of a nest; no, not a tengu one.
The other room gave everyone varying degrees of the willies. The room was lit by low, poor-quality candles which loaned a suitably sinister lighting effect to the great wooden devil that loomed out of the darkness at them. A carving of Asmodeus, Percy recognised, presumably from the prow of a ship. Around the figurehead’s feet, all manner of objects were piled. Not particularly valuable ones and a few that were good quality; goblets, sextants, candlesticks, ewers, things like that. Malicia became concerned that the figurehead was about to catch fire and tried to drag it out. She was persuaded to leave it alone.
Everyone progressed to the second level, where Uun had opened a door on a single room with one other exit out onto the rickety balcony from which Klorak had appeared. In this room they found a mound of soft luxurious but badly maintained pillows and furs piled in the middle of the room. The only other interesting feature in there was a small lockbox, which they examined when were done poking the pillows with their toes. Uun couldn’t open it with brute strength, Nobody couldn’t open it with a pistol and Malicia couldn’t open it with lockpicks. Everyone else drifted upwards after Uun while Malicia stayed to try to pick the lock. Aerys was keen to stay at the rear, guarding the approach as the party did its searching, but Orny was keen to have his meat shield follow him more closely, so he pressured her into abandoning her guard on Malicia and she followed him, one good eye rolling.
Up top, Uun had discovered a puzzle. You can’t fight puzzles with your arms, so he wasn’t interested. Percy, Victor and Orny were interested though. The stairs terminated leading to a flat roof. On top of the roof was a wire framework supporting a shelter that shaded a bronze elliptical cabinet. Beside the cabinet lay three sealed jars and a now sodden shred of yellow silk. They examined the cabinet and eventually found a way to open it. Only the lower front (sea facing) stayed in place, the back swung open and the top of the front also opened. It was a well constructed device, which had fared well over the years. The hinges and parts all seemed to be in good condition. The front had several slats, cut seemingly at random and shielded by a shutter on the inside. The top hatch on the front gave access to two holes, permitting two long and cylindrical things to be placed behind the slat openings. On the back half, there was a tiny forge-like compartment, with a built-in bellows and a long handles so that the oven could be fanned even when the cabinet was closed. A metal pipe led from the oven to the bottom of a metal dish, about which were several supports with screw fastenings. Something was evidently intended to be pinned in place above the oven vent, in front of the polished inside of the cabinet door and behind the slats and their rods. Which was all well and good, this was obviously a lighthouse light, albeit of ridiculous complexity when a fire would surely do.
But both of them were funky!
They did a little monkeying around with it: they placed the red rod that they had found inside the satchel given to them by Aycenia in one of the holes. In fact, they found that it wouldn’t fit into the other hole and could only ever be inserted in the right direction, due to the faceted shape of the rod. They also found that a Light spell cast to produce light where the dish was would indeed beam light through the red glass rod and out of the slats, creating a reasonably strong thin beam of light out towards the water, although it wasn’t visible through the rain. Finally getting around to examining the other parts of the tableau, Victor opened a jar and pulled out an oil soaked cylinder of some whitish-grey material, which Orny – with alarming condescension – identified as Calcium Oxide, burnt lime or quick lime. Percy checked the other jars while Orny told them all about it in words their tiny minds could understand and found that the other jars contained the same thing. Orny now understood what was supposed to be held in place over a very hot flame – a block of limelight which would certainly produce enough light to project the narrow red beams. As for the scrap of yellow silk. It was singed, with the pattern of the burn suggesting it had been used to protect the wielder from something hot. The party (dimly) remembered that Ileana, the seasick Varisian scholar who had accompanied them on their journey south. They were not sure what that meant in terms of Ileana’s fate, but doubted that it was a positive sign.
Meanwhile, Uun had left the top of the lighthouse to go fight those planks. Chopping them apart with his sword proved to be tougher than just picking up one end and moving it, but the barbarian was undeterred. Clearing enough space to slither through the other planks that he seemed congenitally unwilling to bother just pushing to one side, Uun lowered a rope into the dark shaft.
In the base of the lighthouse Malicia had given up trying to pick the lockbox and instead went down to the makeshift Asmodean shrine to look for a key amongst the random objects. Almost instantly, she found one and had just opened the box when Nobody joined her down there. So there were only two witnesses to the heap of coin bags inside the lockbox. By its durable construction, Malicia guessed that this was a payroll box, with each heap of gold and silver packed in now rotting leather bags. The two were of like mind and quickly decided not to share this bounty with their party mates who had, after all left them to do the hard work of opening the box. Quickly searching around for something to put it all in, Nobody retrieved one of the pillowcases from upstairs and they transferred the coins to the pillowcase as quietly as they could.
So it was that Percy and Victor were walking down the stairs and Malicia and Nobody conspired in the shrineroom, as a series of massive strokes of lightning to the east turned the sky brighter than day. The image of the jagged lines etched themselves into the exposed Orny and Uun’s vision, temporarily blinding them. The rain stopped suddenly and all heard a momentous, thunderous low grinding noise.