Log 12: A Trial of Sand and Scorpions
Reaching the top of the stair, the party looked around, and decided to rest. Climbing stairs for an hour really takes a lot out of you. The small room they were resting in was mostly bare, aside from the checklist of supplies needed for heading into the desert, and a small metal chest in the corner of the room. The party ignored the chest, and opened the door, revealing the Village of Mold
Instantly they felt heat on their faces, and heard wind and sand blowing in the endless expanse of desert in front of them. Ryder and Lisk fell to their knees, overcome with ravenous thirst. Kir fell to his knees in sympathy. Opal and Naro similarly felt the thirst, but they weren't overpowered by it. It was the first time the party had felt a base bodily need other than the need for sleep, since they entered the tower. At the same time, every person felt an itch grow in the back of their mind; it was the kind of itch that one gets when a wound is healing. It was if a part of their mind, a part of their memories, was finally healing properly. "Y'all as parched as I am?" Asked Opal, fumbling through her bag. She scratched at the back of her head as well, without noticing what she was doing. Lisk, silently and frantically rummaged through his bag, and pulled out a potion of endure elements. Not even reading the label, he un-stoppered it, and chugged the entire thing. Ryder looked at him with panicked envy. "I think I might have a bit o water on me... though it must be as old as time its self, why I don't remember when I even filled th--" Opal started, but was cut off by Ryder snatching the water skin from her hands. He drained it, and let out a sigh of relief. Naro, covering his face from the heat and light, remarked about how he already hated this place. The party found themselves in a small ruined area, with old stone buildings filled with sand. There were tracks running back and forth between a few buildings, with some metal shelters assembled next to the buildings. When they looked to the north east, they could see what appeared to be the sun, a large white disk far off in the sky. There was a small circular shaft that appeared from beyond the horizon, stretching upwards and piercing the center of the white disk in the sky. First goal they had was to find more water, and find it soon. Opal immediately looked inside one of the old stone buildings. Finding nothing but sand, she strode purposefully to the next stone building, and looked inside. Again, nothing but sand. Lisk pointed towards the metal structures attached to the sides of some of the stone buildings. "Those look like they're more recent." Opal waved thanks, and once again made her way with intent in her steps. She found herself at a small metal shack, with a table inside it. On the table was 7 empty water skins, with 2 leather satchels on the floor. She picked up the satchels, and, finding them empty, tossed them on the floor. Walking outside of the shack showed well trodden ground next to a single barrel of water, with another barrel 15' to the left on untouched sand. She waved the rest of the party over. "Found some water here!" Naro, Lisk, and Ryder quickly made their way over. Opal had already grabbed 2 water skins and filled them up. She made her way south, spying another metal shed to check out. Lisk grabbed a water skin, filled it up, and followed. Ryder and Naro each filled a water skin. Ryder thought for a moment, and grabbed his Seeking Box . Dunking it into the water, he pulled out the magic item, and felt it immediately start vibrating in the presence of the water barrel. Opal and Lisk, now at the next metal shack, looked inside. They found tents, bedrolls, torches, flint, and steel. On closer inspection, the tents and bedrolls appeared properly suited for the harsh environments of the desert. Both of them grabbed a tent and bedroll. Lisk stayed behind to pocket some flint and steel, as well as 10 torches. Opal left to the north, on the way back to the water barrels, while Lisk went south, around the complex of stone buildings, to check out the final metal shack he had spied. Naro and Ryder were standing around the water barrel. There were 2 empty water skins left, but after all the previous filling, the water barrel next to them was empty. "Grab those other water skins, lets fill them up too" said Opal, as she strode to the second water barrel. She placed her hands on the lid, ready to open it up, but found her hands stuck fast to an incredibly sticky adhesive that was now oozing its way out of the wood. The Mimic , for that's what it was, unfurled from its barrel shape, and slammed its self into Opal. "AHHHH HELP" Opal screamed. Naro, standing near by, jumped in alarm at what just happened. He sprinted at the mimic, and slammed two of his fists into it. His fists too became immediately stuck. Naro panicked, as his remaining 4 arms flailed wildly about. "MARKUS CALM DOWN" he yelled. Ryder pat Kir on the back, and said "You got this". Kir charged forward, hefting his massive sword, and swung it down in a vertical arc. The sword made contact with the mimic, dealing a massive blow to it -- but Kir's sword joined Opal and Naro in being stuck to the beast. Meanwhile, Lisk had found himself in a metal shack stocked with slings, spears, and sling ammo. He took a sling, eyeing it appreciatively. Open his bag, he began counting sling ammo into it. "One.... Twoo.... Three...."... Opal, having enough of this mimic, yelled something obscene, and cast Dimensional Door. The mimic sensed it was about to be teleported against its will, and dissolved the adhesive on Opal's hands. She disappeared from the space next to the mimic, reappearing 50' away, safe. Naro blinked, and said "CALM DOWN MARKUS WE WILL BE FINE". He and Markus slammed their 4 arms down together, and decimated the mimic, which then crumbled to the ground, dead. The expressionless Kir hefted his sword out of the wreckage, while Naro vigorously shook his fists and attempted to wipe the mimic's adhesive off. Opal marched in from where she had teleported to, and began stomping on the sand where the mimic was moments before. Lisk finished counting sling ammo into his bag. "twenty nine.... thirty. Good." He headed north, and looked towards his three companions; seeing Opal and Naro obviously flustered, and Ryder dusting off Kir. "What happened here?" He asked. Opal whirled towards him, shook her head, and walked by him exasperatedly responding "NOTHING".
Fully supplied, and ready to head out, the 4 of them walked towards the outskirts of the ruins, planning their heading and pace. General agreement was to head towards the middle of the floor, where they'd find the stairs up to the next floor. Opal relied on her university knowledge about deserts, letting the party know the benefits and drawbacks of a quick or slow pace -- they ended up choosing a double time pace. As they made that decision, from out of the sand seeped a noxious purple cloud of gas. Opal, wearing her Poison Resistant Mask , looked in alarm to the other 3, who were not wearing any masks. Lisk had worn his Curse Resistant Amulet, but had no mask. Lisk, Naro, and Ryder all coughed as the cloud surrounded them. Naro fell to his knees, suddenly overcome with nausea -- he began dry heaving, and fumbling in his bag for his mask, screaming "DON'T LOOK AT ME" Ryder, Opal, and Lisk turned around. While Ryder opened his pack and took his mask out, equipping it, Opal looked at Lisk. Lisk shrugged, and said "Don't got a mask." Opal's hands glowed, and she pat Lisk on the shoulder -- placing a magic spell on him, giving him immunity to poison for the day. Lisk nodded appreciatively. The purple gas cloud dissipated, and the three of them turned around to find Naro with his body suit peeled off his face, and the Poison Resistant Mask attached instead. Strangely, Naro found the mask to fit his face perfectly, as if someone had custom made it especially for him. Unsettled, but feeling protected, Naro shrugged. The party made their way off into the desert. In front of them was a massive sand dune, which appeared too steep to climb, forcing them to go around. Choosing to head left, north, around the dune, they began trudging their way across the sand. The path they chose was mostly loose sand, held together by the tufts of short, tough grass. At the pace they chose, they figured they could cover about 1 mile per hour. Ryder hopped on Kir's back, and as the party gave him a weird look, they headed off on their chosen path.
It wasn't long before the four of them were starting to feel the heat and exhaustion from the journey. Naro in particular was becoming rapidly tired. They had drained about 1/4 of their water skins already. They were passing between two massive sand dunes, when they started to hear a rushing, scraping noise, rapidly heading south, on the other side of the dune to their West. Opal used her witchcraft to give herself the power of flight, and floated up into the sky to get a better look. What she saw was a rapidly approaching dust cloud, too far away to get a good look at. The scraping sounds got closer and closer, and she thought she spied black and crimson scales within the dust. She descended, relaying the information to her grounded companions. "Guess the dragons on the map isnt just for show" The party thought.
As they took sips from their water, and struggled on through the heat, they began to worry about how long the precious liquid would last them. They made their way along between the two massive dunes, along the lifeless valley. During the long stretches of silence on their journey, each member slowly realized the itching in the back of their minds had stopped. Slowly, quietly, they poked and prodded their memories, re-discovering what they had forgotten. Only bits were coming back to them; the few meager moments before they passed on, along with their greatest regrets and triumphs. They didn't speak about this to each other, instead choosing to hold these private moments to themselves. They rounded a bend in the valley, and spotted a rare bit of green, different from the sparse grass they had been walking by before. In front of them was a small wide, flat area, with a small amount of different forms of cacti growing. Lisk decided to sneak forward, in case of ambush. To his left, he saw a few tall cacti, with many bulbous extensions on them. There was a small desert fox ravenously tearing into one of them, ripping chunks off, and lapping up liquid out of it.
Walking beyond that, he made his way towards the larger amount of cacti. Here was mostly small, round cacti, which appeared to be about a foot and a half across, and covered with large needles. Lisk thought about the fox, and their dwindling water supplies, and cut into the cacti in front of him.
He had hardly any time to react before the cacti violently released all of its needles, peppering the ground in a 10' radius. Miraculously, Lisk had managed to dodge every needle. Opal approached Lisk, calling out to him "Y'all okay? what just happened?" Naro and Ryder decided now was the time to look around, while Opal and Lisk dealt with the cacti. Ryder opened his eyes wide, too wide, and a small gust of wind filled his eyes with sand. Scratching at his eyes and muttering in annoyance, Ryder missed seeing the needles fire out of the cacti. Naro, however, did notice it, and he remained beside his companion, attempting to help wash his eyes out. Meanwhile Opal and Lisk began studying the cacti. Pooling their collective knowledge, but coming up short, they were pretty sure there should be water in these plants. Opal took a step back, as Lisk moved forward to the next round cacti, and cut into it again. This time he noticed how the cacti began to shake rapidly -- just like the other one did before expelling all of its needles. Lisk jumped back to Opal's location, just in time to see the cacti fire out all of its like before. The needles fired out in a 10' radius, striking any nearby cacti. The closest round cacti faced the most damage from the needles, and they too began to vigorously shake, until they too expelled all of their needles. This propagated down the entire line of cacti, until the entire clearing was littered with loose needles and naked cacti. Lisk approached the small, needless plants, and cut one in half. Inside he found a dry, porous, wood-like material, with no liquid to be found. "Hmm." He said "wrong plant." He turned to the cacti he saw the fox eating before, and cut an arm off it. He was immediately rewarded with liquid dripping out of the plant. Opal came over to him, and let him know it was likely safe to drink. Naro and Ryder got the sand out of Ryder's eyes, and turned to look at Lisk and Opal. "What the hell happened here?" asked Ryder. "Plants." Responded Lisk. "Thirsty?" Asked Opal, as she held out an arm from the cacti. The party all took bites and sips from the cacti, marveling in its fresh taste. They squeezed it into their water skins, topping up. Making their way gingerly across the field of loose needles, they made their way back onto the sand, and resumed their journey.
Another couple hours of travel, through sweltering heat and endless sand, before the party began to notice a change in terrain. The loose sand beneath their feet began to give way to more hard packed ground. Lisk, in the front of the group, look forward, noticing how the ground transitioned into what appeared to be a dry, cracked expanse. Two small objects glittered among the cracks. Looking closer, they appeared to be scorpions -- Clockwork Scorpion . He strung his bow, and grabbed an arrow, turning around to look at the other 3 with a question in his eyes saying "should I?"
Naro quickly jogged up, responding "hang on hang on wait wait don't kill them! We might piss them off, there could be more?" Lisk shrugged, and returned to the back of the group, muttering to himself. "Dwarves, kill, scorpions, no kill? Hmm." Naro looked at the metal insects, and cast a detection spell, attempting to perceive if the two scorpions in front of him had friends or not. He felt about with his mind, but with the limited range, he could only detect a few more scorpions, nearby, and underground. He was apprehensive about the area. "I think there's a few more scorpions in the cracked earth..." He said. Lisk put an arrow to his bow, and Opal took out her crossbow. Ryder hopped off Kir's back, and dusted Kir's shoulders. Naro took another step forward, and the clockwork scorpions immediately focused their attention on him, charging towards him. Naro reacted by taking a step backwards. Two arrows coated in acid flew over his left shoulder, smashing into the leftmost scorpion, melting it into a puddle of metal. A crossbow bolt flew to his right, and pinned the other scorpion to the dirt. Naro bent at the waist and slammed his fists down onto the contraption, and it exploded in a shower of metal. Ryder pat Kir on the back. Ryder, Opal, and Lisk moved up beside Naro. "Well, killed them anyways" said Lisk. "You want to keep leading?" Naro gave Lisk a look, and purposefully strode forward, into the cracked terrain. About a minute into traveling across the broken terrain, scorpions began swarming out of the cracks by the handful.
A swarm of scorpions to Naro's left charged him, and overran him -- they began clawing and stinging him, as he swung wildly with all his fists, destroying as many as he could reach. Ryder gave Kir a nod, and Kir ran up to Naro's right, swinging his sword and decimating as many scorpions as he could. Lisk and Opal both lifted their bows, and began loosing shots against their foes. Lisk melting scorpions left and right with his acid arrows, and Opal pinning them to the ground with her crossbow. Naro and Kir were being overwhelmed at the front lines, as each second they spent there resulted in yet more scorpions swarming out of the cracks. Ryder saw that they were in trouble, so he ran up behind them to do whatever he could. Ryder swung his foot in an attempt to kick some scorpions away, but missed entirely. He bent over to punch one near him on the ground, but found the hard metal body of the scorpion too much for his meager fleshy fist. A swarm of scorpions crawled out of the ground near Opal, and rushed her, snipping at her and trying to sting her. She batted at them as they tried to overwhelm her, before using more of her flight ability, leaping off the ground and out of the swarm, scattering scorpions below her. Naro was being overwhelmed by scorpions, and he was becoming tired. "I'm... getting... hurt... here!" he yelled, between wild haymakers directed at tiny clockwork beings. Opal tried to alleviate some pain through her Hex Scar , but it was not enough to offset the damage the scorpions were doing. Fearing for his companions life, Ryder instructed Kir to assist. Kir abandoned the scorpions in front of him, instead turning to face Naro. The big eidolon hefted Naro into the air, and threw him out of the fray. Naro collided with the ground, and coughed as his breath left him. He lay winded in a cloud of dust. Lisk watched this from the secrecy of his cloak. He had been peppering any scorpion nearby with acid arrows, while remaining hidden in plain sight. As swarms of scorpions emerged all around him, he crept forward to get closer to his hurt companions. As he moved, a sudden strong urge in his body caused him to violently hiccup, so much so that his hood fell off his head, revealing his location. A swarm of scorpions to his right noticed, and homed in on his location. Soon the grizzled ranger was also being swarmed by little mechanical feet, pincers, and stingers. "WE HAVE GOT TO LEAVE" yelled Naro. He had stood up, using his magic to heal himself and Markus. He stepped back a bit, as another two swarms of scorpions threatened to overwhelm him. Opal, flying 10' above, called down "JUST RUN! The cracked ground ends farther ahead! Get out of here!" A swarm of scorpions followed her shadow below. Ryder took her advice, as he and Kir began running as fast as they could out of that area. They passed by Naro, covered in scorpions. Naro shook them off, and ran after them as well. Lisk followed suit, sprinting away from the hordes of mechanical scorpions. As he ran more scorpions emerged from the cracks in the ground behind him, attempting to follow. Naro, Ryder, Kir, and Lisk sprinted for their life, following the floating Opal as she led them out of the scorpion land. Before long the clockwork scorpions fell behind, not interested in chasing their quarry out of their home turf. The party reached soft sand again, and collapsed to their knees, hurt and out of breath. "Well, I told you there were more" said Naro, after a few moments of hard breathing.
Leaving behind the legion of metal scorpions, the party trudged on. It was nearing mid-day, and they were about 1/3 of the way through their water skins. The heat was relentless, and Naro again was feeling the burn, becoming exhausted from it. Lisk looked ahead, and spotted a small disturbance in the endless expanse of sand. He pointed it out, and the party angled towards it. As they approached, it became clear that they had found a small rocky outcropping, with a burrow, or a cave, dug into its side. They approached from the top/rear of it. Looking at the mouth of the cave, they could see a variety of hard, shiny objects deposited outside the cave. They began to file down around the side of the slight hill. Lisk donned his hood, and blended in with the surroundings. He stepped down in front of the cave, hardly visible at all. Each step he took set small tremors through the ground. As he made his way to the dead center of the mouth of the cave, whatever was inside pin-pointed his exact location. The monster within the cave charged from it's hiding spot with lightning speed.
The Giant Emperor Scorpion crashed out of its cave, sending sand spraying everywhere. It pounced on its prey, on Lisk, slamming him with it's two pincers, and stabbing downward with its stinger, intending to paralyze its foe. Lisk was grabbed by the beast, and slammed around, taking massive damage in mere seconds. The stinger left a large puncture wound in his side, but the poison had no effect thanks to the mask. "HOLY FUCK" Lisk yelled. Opal screamed, and scrambled backwards. She pointed her now glowing hands at the scorpion, and dropped a thundercloud on it, but the scorpion managed to evade damage. It was still focusing on its hopeful meal in its pincer. Naro closed the 10' gap between himself and the scorpion, and attempted to hit it, but his fist bounced off the scorpions hard shell. He looked over at Ryder just in time to see his companion finish casting a spell on Kir. Kir doubled in size, and immediately swung his sword down onto the giant scorpion, splitting the chitin near him, and hitting scorpion flesh. "I'M GONNA NEED HELP" yelled Lisk. He had taken out his acid knife, and was furiously stabbing at the pincer that held him. The scorpion lifted Lisk up, and began slamming him into the ground. However its attention was divided now, as it noticed the pain inflicted on it by the large metal being to its left. With insane speed, it jabbed its stinger down into Kir. The eidolon stumbled back as the stinger left a large hole in his chest, and he began to feel poison course through his veins. His strength and dexterity began seeping out of him as the poison took its effect. Naro slammed all of his fists into the side of the scorpion as it was distracted, causing small cracks to form in its armor. Opal strengthened her thundercloud, sending electricity through the massive beast. The scorpion, feeling panic, felt as if it had bit off more than it could chew. It threw Lisk down, and almost as fast as it appeared, it retreated into the depths of its burrow. Lisk lay on his back among the leftovers in front of the cave. Kir was on one knee, struggling against the poison, with Ryder looking at his summon with concern. Naro breathed heavily, and Opal stared blankly at the scene before her eyes. Time paused.