Stuck between a rock and an hard place, the group decide to follow the lead momentarily and guide the caravan through the mountains and the desert towards Kled, passing by the old mine to have a look at the passage that was in Cor’s vision.
In order to accept the ‘detour’ some sleek negotiation from Therai part is required to convince Iuraks, but that is also accomplished.
After a good night of sleep everybody departs waving bye bye to the monastery and its group of cilops still on guards.
Leaving the monastery seems to be almost as difficult as getting there, with the ‘circle of confusion’ spinning in circle. However, a simple application of natural observation brings the whole group quickly out of the circle influence and in the open, then is a matter of orientation and getting the right direction.
However the ‘right’ direction goes through Hijkins infested territory. But the group is confident that they can manage Hijkins better than Cilops. The march towards the East goes smoothly, Iuraks doesn’t want to move too much to the south to avoid bumping into other caravans coming from Tyr.
Cor inquiry Iuraks about the plan in Kled, he responds that it depends how the talk goes in Kled itself, they have some plans but there is no point in going over these. Hardok is a bit surprised that Iuraks is going to do the talking for house Ianto, since he seems more interested on his own things and not so much for the house, but it seems that Iuraks has his own agenda, but he also has the house’s interest in mind.
The next day of travel, the caravan is more or less north of the active Iron Mines, and is in rough territory, but is a sort-of-known territory also for Iuraks, so it’s not that bad. Along the route the group keeps theirs eyes peeled for Hijkins traces, and they spot them! Distorsion on the rock surfaces where the Hijkins have “dived” in it.
Judging by the amount of traces it seems that the caravan is going to enter a very active territory, the alternatives are to detour south or north. North will take the caravan away from prying eyes, but it will also prolong the duration of the trip and they are a bit on the short side of provisions, Iuraks isn’t very happy about diverting south, but is known territory, it is certainly less Hijkins-infested and the caravan can proceed swiftly and to minimize the possiblity to be spotted Cor, Irann and one of the guard will preceed it and be on the lookout for other peoples.
Another quick negotiation from Therai and Iuraks is convinced, so the whole caravan turn in a circle around the Hijkins territory, nobody is spotted and everybody is happy.
Soon the caravan approaches the part of the path that lead to the old iron mines, the area is now outside Tyr climate zone, that seems to be reciding faster than expected. So now the environment is harsher than before and for sure some nasty critter is roaming around.
[This means also that the mines operation will became more dangerous and it will probably require more ‘security’, it could be a source of income if somebody could field a force there.]
Approaching the old iron mines, the group checks out for strange things, and they quickly notices that there are traces on the ground, like a lot of peoples (between 20 to 50 men) have trampled around and marched right into the mines… there are even traces of mounts (Crodlu), judging by the condition of the ground the traces are about a week or 2 old. The traces are coming from the north-east.
And the environment is suspiciously devoided of life. A veritable ‘dead’ zone.
After some more talking, Iuraks allow the group to get into the mine and investigate, but he doesn’t want to stick around for long, so an agreement is reached that he will continue with the caravan in direction of Kled and camp nearby, and if the group isn’t back in half a day they will be presumed dead. So they better get out quickly. And survive.
So into the mine they go.
The entrance and the beginning tunnels looks like the same, traces of the huge group of peoples are easy to spot, it seems that they went into the ‘poisonous’ tunnel. The group approaches carefully. The first thing that everybody notices is a sensible drop in temperature, it gets chill quite quickly, and the air smells sort of stale, not smelly, but not nice. There is also a weird sensation of the air is “flowing” around. And that they are being watched… The Fox mentions that “I don’t like it here…”
There is an undead “thing” around, and those things are usually not so good. The air is really stale now, and everybody is holding his breath and proceed.
The tunnel bend sharply to the right, passing the bend the group sees some wodden support along the path, with a crude sign hanging that read “Welcome” in letter that looks like they have been scrabbled with blood, and nearby hangs a gong, made of some sort of mix metal/rocks, with an hammer nearby whose head looks like is made with a skull.
The group stops a second looking around, but there is no visible trap. The gong looks quite mundane hanging in there.
So Cor grab the hammer and rang the gong. The ringing echoes into the darkness… then a strange deep voice is heard: “Oh, such manners…” and there is a rush of air, like some sort of huge animal just draw breath, driving fresh air from the outside, this make the air around breathable again and pushes the nasty stuff away.
Everybody have the distinct sensation that the voice they heard sounds a lot like the voice of the “Arena Master” (1) they already met in UnderTyr, but is obviously not the same.
The disembodied voice exclaims “I have some visitors… you’ve been here before… most of you…” The voice seems to came from all around, like it’s moving and coming from everywhere at the same time.
Cor does the talking: “Yes, we were here before, I am searching for Rikus, are you the owner of this place?”
Voice – “So you came fro Rikus he? And why did you came here for that?”
Cor – “Because we had a vision in time, and we saw that Rikus was in this place”
Voice – “A vision! How interesting… why do you care?”
Cor – “Because Rikus is an hero to us, and we want to talk with him”
Voice – “An hero? Rikus. Hero of the revolution. Is that all?”
Cor – “Well, also hero of mankind…”
Voice – “How odd.”
In the meantime, everyone is looking around in the dark and the eyes are adapting to the place, it looks like the air is sort of “solid” like there is a bubble of clean/clear air around them that keep the nasty stuff away, but is not that far away. And there is a sharp transition between the two. And every now and then, glimpes of skeletons and skulls can be seen floating around, and disappearing. It looks like the thing that is talking is the air itself.
Cor – “Well, who are you anyway?”
Voice – “I am known as the Lord Under the Mountain”
Therai knows from his time in House Vordon rumours and stories about the “lord under the mountain” that are mostly dismissed as bullshist. It is something like the old crazied miners can believe. The idea is that is a capricious spirit, not a beneficial or evil one, but it is better to leave it alone and if met try to appeas it and move away quickly.
Therai uses his thelepaty to communicate the infos to everyone.
LUtM – “And this is of cources my domain and you are now in it. And I shouldn’t do this but…. if you can entertain me, I could grant you one wish”.
Cor – “If you are the lord UNDER the mountain, how much you know of things that are going on on the surfice? We could tell you about our adventure!”
LUtM – “I have no interest in such trivialities. Why do you search Rikus? Being a fanboy is not enough.”
Cor – “I am concerned…”
LUtM – “Pathetic. Rikus the hero of the people in Tyr. Rikus that killed King Kalak. Rikus that become general of the army. Rikus that unfortunately died in patrol. This should be enough for a fanboy and this is where you should stop. Now, which part you don’t believe and why are you here?”
Cor – “I fear that everything is just a rumour and maybe he never killed Kalak.”
LUtM – “That is a good question. And certainly I am not going to answer that question. Pheraps Rikus himself should answer that, we should ask.”
Cor – “If we can… if we have the power to do it…”
LUtM – “Of course I have. I’ll grant an audience… if you are entertaining enough…”
The air bubble moves forward and the group moves with it (of course). Down the tunnel it branches around but the air is cleaner only on one path, that soon opens into some sort of a large natural cavern, that bear the sign of caving (it is a mix of natural cave and digging), with rock formations sticking out here and there.
All around the place there are lots of figures standing around. They are not pristine but not skeleton either. And they are for sure undead. Hardok looks around and, considering the light, he assume more than an hundreds undead are standing there, for sure more than just Rikus patrol. There is also a collection of races, humans, half-giants, mules and also someone on mounts. With a collection of clothes, military and not. It looks like the Lord has been collecting them for quite a while…
Cor – “But where is Rikus?”
LUtM – “That is a good question! I am not entirely sure! I suppose that you’ll have to find him.”
The group have reached more or less in the center of the cave, surrounded by a ring of zombies.
LUtM – “Here is what we do: I’ll send some of my doll in, some that may be Rikus, and it is up to you to identify, and when you do, then you just say so. And if you are wrong… I will have to add you to my collection.”
- Everyone has seen Rikus in his zombie state in Cor’s vision, and Cor has seen Rikus several time, so everybody should be able to recognize him -
Cor – “Let’s the game begin!”
A group of zombies moves out of the line and enters the circle, one moves closer and immediately attacks Cor, trying to grab him. Cor take a look at the zombie and quickly decide that the zombie certainly is NOT Rikus, so he immediately try to smash his sword in his face but it misses, he decide to shift away from the zombie. Next a zombie Crodlu enters the circle (no doubt that it can’t be Rikus) and headbutt Irann that falls down, another zombie moves forward and grabs Hardok and another one attacks Iranns on the ground, another one grabs Varnag’s Trikal.
Therai take a look at one of the attacking zombie and recognize that the zombie is a human, so he can’t be Rikus, so he blast a few of the attacking zombies with his psionic power but it doesn’t seems to have much effect. Another zombie attacks Therai and grab him.
The battle is complicated by the problem of recognizing whose of the zombie is Rikus (if he is in the middle), Cor is attacked multiple time and ends up on the ground a few times, until a crodlu-riding zombie enters the frai and the rider is recognized as Rikus, the others zombies are then smashed to bits (not that it makes any difference for them) until only Rikus remains. Cor (even if he is lying on the ground) calls the Lord on the fact that Rikus has been identified.
Cor – “And now I have my question…”
Rikus (or what is left of him) is just standing there…
LUtM – “Oh by the way… that is just a zombie. Rikus is dead. How can you ask a question to a dead guy?”
Cor – “Well, I can ask the question, but somebody has to answer…”
LUtM – “I had some fun, so I’ll make you witness of a glorious event! The birth of a Lucid Undead! Because that is just a stupid animated corpse. A toy to play with. But just for this time, just for you, I’ll make him a fully sentient member of the undead society”
The air bubble shimmers, and then caves in, like a needle piearcing in. The point flows into the zombie and seems to be absorbed, the zombie recoil, shrink, shakes and let go a terrible shreak, then it seems to recompose itself, standing taller, and it looks a lot more animated, looking around. He is still a zombie, but it has a weird darkness in his eyes like they are absorbing the light from the surrounding.
Then a voice cames from the zombie, a voice that sounds a lot like Rikus but is obviously not produced by living matter.
Rikus – “Who am I?”
LUtM – “Whatever you wish to be! But these folks, have a preference for that. I believe they have a question that you need to answer, but it is totally up to you because you’re no longer my pawn now”
Cor – “You are Rikus and we need to know if you killed Kalak the sorcerer king or is he still alive and if you remember how you died!”
Rikus stands a bit confused, like he is looking inside itself.
Rikus – “Rikus… I know the name. Why the hell not? I remember he, must be a fool.”
Cor – “Well… in our eyes he was an hero that wanted to change the world in a better place”
Rikus – “Ah! Of course. Right! Anyway, did he killed Kalak? Yes, it seems he did, or at least this is what he believes”
Cor – “And how did you died? Do you remember that?”
Rikus – “Oh yes, I remember that. Such ironic betrial, I feel like I need to pay somebody a visit. Should be interesting.”
Cor – “Maybe we could give you an hand in that… Who do you want to visit?”
Rikus – “It was a backstabbing indeed, but why should I tell you?”
Cor – “Maybe because you can get peace…”
Rikus – “Peace? I’m just curious, that’s all, I’m peaceful enough, I need to pay a visit to King Tithian”
LOtM – “King Tithian! That’s quite a visit to pay, well, you’re free to do that, as long as you don’t mention where you came from…”
[Tithian – The current ruler of the free city of Tyr, Tithian was a high ranking templar under Kalak who threw his lot in with other conspirators such as Sadira. When the dust settled from Kalak’s supposed death, Tithian was seen as the most logical… if not popular…choice to run the city and consolidate it’s power against the threat of war with the city of Urik]
LOtM – “Anyway, I’m not interested in visiting anyone, you had your fun, now you better go”.
Cor – “Maybe we can take Rikus with us…”
Rikus – “And why should I came with you? I do recognize your face, but who are you? I know how to get to my destination, there are tunnels I can use, no need to travel on the surface”
LOtM – “And I advise you to leave, and not to speak of this.”
Rikus – “Maybe, I’ll met you in Tyr, someday. It could be fun. This rebel thing… is such a piece of bullshit…”
Then everyone realizes that the fresh air bubble is quickly dissipating, so the group simply runs through the tunnel towards the entrance before the airs runs out.
Out of the mine, everybody is recovering a bit and thinking what exactly happened. Now Rikus is some sort of undead but cognizant creature, that is on his way to Tyr to do… something. And some question about Kalak are still unclear. It looks clear that that thing has the body and the memory of Rikus but doesn’t have any of the feeling and emotion of Rikus whatsoever.
The group rejoins the caravan, Iuraks comments that “someone had a rough trip” but doesn’t ask too many questions.
After some rest, the caravan proceed towards Kled, trying to avoid the most travelled path into the rocky badlands, this means away from Hijkins territory, that are relatively safe because the zone is patrolled every now and then, there have been reports of raiders, so it is better not to linger too much.
The badlands are quite flat, but there are canyons and other obstacles to traverse, there is however more vegetation.
XP: +360 Total: 6910