Session One Hundred and Fifty-Seven Summary (Graveyard of Empires: After the Fall)

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Session 157, October 25 2023



We continue at 2:00AM on the 14th of Anurilden ( on the Apocalypse Clock) with the party camping in the barn of an abandoned farm in the fields north of the Khelrun river. Assuming nothing kills them in the night, the party expects to arrive at the suspicious tunnel from which the river issues either towards the end of the next day of marching or earlier on the following morning. Having already encountered some of the twisted fauna that Glompus warned them about, the group is on guard but relieved that these creatures do not appear to be infected like the monstrosity at Feldmark. Will they cross paths with more of these abominations? Is there anything useful to be found upriver? Can they return to the river's mouth in time to rendevous with the Bronze Wizard? Will their mission in Feldmark succeed? Find out next time; or not.

Larry's Summary

Buzz is on the ship.

Glompus awakens early for his watch and hears the conversation between Velkin and the rat that Velkin fed a finger to, just as the rat disappears down a hole.

Glompus asks the mole what is going on. Glompus hears it muttering whether to itself or others. We need to prepare for the feast, the great jubilee. (It sounds made up to Glompus.)

Still muttering, it sounds like it's coming closer.

Glompus sees with infravision that it came around a corner. Saggy skin with huge teeth and beady eyes. It looks up and mutters, "More food for the feast?" It is hairless, giant buckteeth, and skin hanging from it weird. It is the ugliest mole he's ever seen.

What kind of feast, are we invited? All are invited as it clambers up and looks at Glompus.

Where is the feast? Where we are? When is the feast? Soon. More dead flesh for the feast?

There is a pile of grain and extra fingers and maybe the zombies the mole is refering too.

Glompus mentions to Velkin that we might be the feast instead of guests to the feast. We might want to move.

Lambertus scratches his stubble, and asks if it's threatening.

How many are coming to the feast? We feast wherever we are, brothers and sisters. How do you know them? We come from the same cradle. They will be where they are. We'll know when it's time.

More fingers? Dead flesh for the jubilee. This is a very not mole thing to say.

How often is the jubilee? It hasn't happened yet. Great, we're at the first jubilee. Is anyone besides your brothers and sisters coming to the jubilee?

All are welcome? Who told you about it? The knowing in our flesh told us, you must go upriver.

Hey guys, he just said up river.

There is a big pipe a smooth hole, yes, the hole to the jubilee. Yes, I was testing you.

The mole pulls its bulk out of the hole and has extra limbs to go after the fingers.

When you say cradle, have you been to the location of the jubilee before?

Lambertus asks if we should wake everyone. Glompus says yes.

There is a dull booming tremor like a small earthquake and dust shook loose from barn rafters, and Lambertus moves quicker to wake the party.

Prix sits up in the boat. Druul asks Thorfus what he ate.

As Glompus explains the situation there are a couple more tremors.

It is either deep in the earth or far away.

There are a couple more faint rumbles. Whatever it is is going further away, but feel it occasionally.

Druul suggests talking to the cows.

We decide to remain.

Thorfus moves to the hayloft to sleep.

Glompus does a more active watch, a surveying pattern around the barn. Walk around inside and outside.

As the sun peaks up and watch nears its end, there is another rumble, much closer and a cracking noise. Looking around the room, two of the zombies around the boat. They suddenly get shorter.

Glompus moves to investigate and they have fallen into holes almost to their waists. There are tearing and crunching sounds from underneath, then they fall over, but don't stop moving.

Glompus rushes to wake everyone, but the rumble and cracking sound easily wakes us.

Druul goes to grab the nearest zombie and pulls him up missing most of its legs.

Druul asks if you fed them dead flesh? Glompus, uh, yes we did.

Kauri orders the uninjured zombies to move the boat with Prix.

The other zombie in a hole grows shorter.

Velkin rolls over to Druul and says this is what I get for being nice. Druul rolls the body into the hole.

Thorfus starts looking for dry hay/straw. But decides against arson.

One of the moles climbs on top of a zombie torso and says, the jubilee, up river.

Thorfus uses animal telepathy of the exact location of the jubilee and what other creatures will be there. Images of farms and swimming river and a hold where water emerges and a broken door with a tentacle that moves and through the door, and iron ladder leading up out of the water.

The voice up river, join the jubilee. The brothers and sisters will feast where ever they are. Some live in the cradle others are far out. There are images of metal walkway/catwalks, blinking lights, door stuck halfway open that slides to the side, chairs of weird material, stone pedestal with a cube slotted into the top with a ghostly blue light hovering over it.

Is there any sense of timing when this will occur? Soon, not yet, things aren't ready. The Master of the Revels is wakening, the jubilee will begin. The master of revels is the one who will start the jubilee. No image when probed for an image. How will we know the jubilee is started? When you start to feast?

Thorfus wonders if these mutated creatures are designed to feast on the disease based undead.

Thorfus shares this with the party.

We hear the squelch and smacking sounds of bodies being disassembled.

We head West to our destination.

Before we head out, Thorfus looks in the boat to check on Buzz and Buzz and he is not there?

Velkin says that Buzz is on the boat. It's not in the boat, not there the ship. What?

Prix is concerned about what she is hearing. Thorfus explains they are on Feldmark, giant abomination, evidence of a dwarven Khel, and she asks which one, Thorfus points on the map.

Oh yes, Gharaz'Khel. It was supposed to be destroyed when we took down the Silver Tower, sympathizers were supposed to sabotage this place. I don't know how it developed. It was like a power station with conduits to Lonely Island. One of the power generators for the tower.

There used to be an elevator on an island East of here, pointing at Lonely Island. There were several Khels that just existed to feed power to it. Those in the rebellion, had explosives to take down the elevator and others were to attack the power stations. Marital issues....

Prix says it would be transpatial energy and the power mechanism... Some sort of large generators.

Thorfus heads West in their direction of travel muttering and complaining loudly about not having Buzz when we have the hopes of finding a power source to charge him so we can use him.

We are fairly certain we will hit the tributary river about Noon and need to cross it.

Easier travel, making better time this time.

Velkin watches for birds and they are very skittish.

Pass a couple more farms. They seem well abandoned. Near the next farm a huge depression has crunched down the stalks of wheat. An imperfect oval. Glompus explains it if from the creature from Feldmark.

The oval is large enough for the entire party and longboat to fit within it.

It seems it wandered around a bit as it came up from the river.

Some of the crops might be salvageable if someone tended it.

About 10:30 AM come out of the fields and there is an open area sloping down. It is a dell between higher land, and two tributaries of the Khel Run come together.

It is only a few hundred yards across the South flowing branch with pretty open ground.

On the opposite shore is a small mill with its wheel spinning.

Thorfus scans the horizon and river with his spyglass and listens in preparation to cross. Under the clickety clack of the spinning mill there is sound of talking. It is random words and several voices. Only the word jubilee is clear. It seems to come from inside the mill.

Velkin also looks with his spyglass.

Glompus scouts down to the river and there is no sign of the creature, the tracks we saw were the furthest North the abomination has gotten.

Velkin asks for Thorfus' spyglass to see if he can make sense of the voices, Velkin hears some sort of conversation but can't make out any details.

Glompus thinks it's pretty clear here. No tracks of large animals.

Thorfus says Velkin, you might want to go check it out.

Glompus looks for tracks of smaller animals. Some are weird and might be creatures with too many limbs. Mostly small mammals and birds, maybe some medium sized. Nothing definitively monstrous.

Velkin shadow steps over and hears the voices speaking words, but not in sentences. He moves in towards a window and also starts speaking random words and shakes it off. Thorfus follows Velkin as Velkin speaks to inform where he is moving so Thorfus can listen in since Velkin is still invisible.

Velkin shadow steps back over.

Thorfus asks why he didn't stay? Velkin wanted a game plan.

Kauri looks for transpatial energy.

We move upstream to ensure some distance between us and the mill when we cross, just in case.

The zombies lower the boat into the water. Kauri gets in and Thorfus and Velkin row. We leave Kauri, Prix, and the zombies, then go back for the others. Just after Noon we are across the river.

Once across, Thorfus peers into the slightly open barn door and speaks random words, he shakes his head and resumes looking. Just a little bit inside. There is a shaft of light that illuminates a bit of the interior and no movement. It is 6 or 7 voices or more people having a completely nonsense conversation.

Velkin asks for the spyglass and Thorfus reluctantly agrees.

Glompus prepares a rope to retrieve anyone that might be affected by whatever this is.

Kauri gathers was from his never ending candle to plug his ears.

Velkin looks with Thorfus spyglass and stabs Thorfus with a poison short sword.

Glompus riding Snuffles goes behind Velkin and Glompus and Thorfus grapple him.

Velkin comes back to himself as he stops looking from the spyglass.

Velkin, Why am I visible?

We tie up Velkin then hold up the regular spyglass to his eye. Velkin sees the door on his hinges and can't hear the murmuring voices inside. He feels fine.

We put was in his ears, then hold up Thorfus' spyglass. Velkin doesn't hear anything and look the same as with the regular sight spyglass.

Thorfus gives the blood and Kauri casts Silence 15' Radius and then remove the plugs from Velkin's ears and hold up Thorfus' spyglass and he hears nothing and we untie him.

Kauri, Prix, Lambertus, and Felix stay back with the zombies. Renthark and Peronelle come with Thorfus, Glompus, and Velkin.

We put wax in our ears. Velkin asks Prix to make him invisible.

Velkin goes ahead to peep in the door. It is a mill. There are stone wheels turning silently. There are some bins for storage. Some have stuff in them, some milled grain. There is a lot of muck on the floor from not being cleaned.

Velkin goes over to Thorfus and yells loudly that it seems empty with a muddy floor. we move up.

Thorfus moves up to the door and looks in. Velkin looks for signs of runes or sigils.

Thorfus tosses a pebble at the muck and it shivers. It looks like a whole village cleaned their boots right inside the doorway.

Glompus taps the muck with his handaxe and and eyeball on it opens up and looks at him.

It is a big eye. A whole bunch of eyes open up and several mouths and it lunges forward.

Some goo runs up the handaxe and over his arm there is a stinging sensation and his forearm is burning.

Thorfus blasts it with Psionic Blast and stuns it. It loosens it's grip on Glompus and we hack away at it.

Velkin attacks and we continue to attack, hacking it to bits.

Velkin scrapes some stuff into a jar.

Thorfus sweeps it outside.

Glompus has seen other things like this from up river. This is about the furthest that he's ever seen one come. Never seen one play possum like this.

Velkin goes in to look around, Thorfus goes with him.

We signal Kauri to come take a look. No transpatial energy is seen.

Following Velkin around to the back, there are bodies piled up behind the mill wheel. The one on top has empty eye sockets and tongue and teeth removed, rotting a while.

There is a small gnome body missing eyes, tongue, and teeth. He is pretty sure it is Emory from his village.

Emory was kind of an odd fellow. Glompus thought he had gone towards Dun Khel, but obviously didn't make it.

Velkin finds they have nothing of value.

There is a ring of keys in the pocket of some woman. Velkin grabs the keys and looks around for a lock. Nothing here.

Thorfus disengages the gears so the stones stop spinning, while the wheel keeps turning.

Thorfus drags the bodies outside.

Velkin pokes Kauri while motioning to the bodies. 7 total 6 humans and the gnome.

We roll the bodies into the river for "burial at sea." We roll them into the river all at once.

We fill 5 empty 1 pound sacks that are in the mill and put them in the boat. Prix arranges them as pillows for more comfort.

We cross the rest of the farm land. We seek another farm for the night. All farms are deserted. The first farm we find the keys work on the locks. Velkin looks for other locks, but nothing interesting here. We gather enough food from the cellar for today.

Before sunset we see we are coming to the ends of the fields and the last farmstead and the river heads into the hills and will be in the jungle, about an hour before sunset.

We see a couple of birds fly away with extra legs. This farm is not as nice as the other farm. The land is not as fertile here. Probably only recently reclaimed from the jungle. It is pretty ramshackle. It doesn't look like it would keep us dry if it rained.

It is a bit more crowded and draftier than the barn of the previous night.

We set watches. Thorfus gives the blood for Glompus and Felix to get healing and for Velkin to be invisible. Thorfus then uses the scepter to heal up.

When Thorfus steps out Velkin asks Druul to compose a song about how Velkin beat him up and convinced him to bleed himself.

Velkin asks Druul to teach him the sign language he used with Grizl. We all join in to learn for the benefit when silenced.

First watch is quiet. Second watch with Thorfus and Renthark, he wants to practice his sign language. Renthark keeps saying monster behind you, and there is not actually a monster over his shoulder.

Third watch with Velkin and Peronelle. Peronelle asks if Velkin thinks there is power at this Khel? Velkin says maybe. There could be others in stasis like me.

Fourth watch with Glompus and Lambertus. Lambertus pulls out a bottle of wine from the ship and Glompus joins in for some, but Lambertus polishes it off. Glompus asks if he's OK. Yes, I found something to fill the emptiness. Wine? Yes!

Lambertus goes into hyperbole that the DVLs will kill everyone and I'll still hang on somehow.

Morning arrives.

Glompus's Letter

Hey there Spud,

Last letter I wrote we had bunked down at a farm for the night. Now, usually your grandpappy takes the last watch, you know I'm always up early anyway, and I like to do my stretches. So I woke up in the morning to see Velkin feeding what he said was a mole some more of those dead fingers. I really gotta teach that guy what proper animal treats were (though it didn't help this time he was right).

We got down to talking to the mole. It told us about a feast with its brothers and sisters, called it the "jubilee". Now, you've talked to as many forest creatures as I have, so you'll know that's not exactly usual mole-like behavior. We tried to get a bit of info about this feast out of it. It told us the feast would be soon, and there would be more dead flesh for the feast. Which, again, very un-mole like thing to say. We did figure out that the place for the jubilee was in that pipe we were already heading to, and then it took a whole bunch of fingers and scurried back down the hole. Two things alarming about that. First, it actually liked the fingers (which, to be fair, Snuffles did too, but I won't be telling Velkin about that). Second, it was the size of a puppy with saggy skin and too many legs. Of the mutated animals we've seen, it was actually kind of cute. I might try to see if I can coax one to come with us at this jubilee as a new playmate for Snuffles, he's been real lonely since we lost you. Assuming they don't breed by injecting parasites like the birds I told you about last letter do. I think that might be a bit of a dealbreaker for Snuffles.

Anyway, a little bit after the mole disappeared, we felt the earth start to shake a whole bunch. Turns out it did have a lot of brothers and sisters, and they were all fans of dead flesh, because a bunch of puppy sized moles came up and ate two of our zombies while we high-tailed it out of there. Before we left though, Thorfus read one the mole's minds. He got visions of something called the cradle, which seemed to be some sort of high tech facility with a cube on a pedestal, with a ghostly blue light hovering over it. Which is I guess what's up that weird pipe we're heading too. The mole also told him that the "Master of the Revels" will awaken and the music will begin, and that we would learn where the jubilee was when we began to feast. Which again, were very un-mole like thoughts. It's starting to be a real uncomfortable pattern with the non-mole thoughts. Though not enough to make me reconsider the pet plan, I gotta admit.

After we got out of there, the apparently-a-dragon lady Prix told us a story about a space elevator that used to be powered by a power station here. I'm kind of starting to believe the dragon thing, she seemed like she knows a lot about stuff that happened a real long time ago to real important people. This power station was called Gharaz'Khel, and she said it was likely the same as the place we're heading. It was supposed to be destroyed by some sort of a rebellion or another that she was in, but she doesn't know if it ever happened because she was betrayed by her husband and locked away. Which sure makes all the times your grandmammy got mad at me for tracking mud into the cottage look like small potatoes. I hope wherever you are, you two are together again. That'd make me feel better at least. Anyway, she said this power station place was probably powered off transpatial energy, which is apparently how magic used to work? I guess I'll believe the probably-a-dragon lady, all the magic I've seen was either powered off pirates or birds but she probably knows better.

The next morning was hard. We found the trail of the big creature that took you, further north than I think I've ever seen it. I got a bit distracted and didn't find any veggies or grubs or anything for my new friends, which is a bit of an embarassment being their new scout and everything.

Later on we came across this mill where the river splits. Thorfus heard voices in the mill talking about the jubilee, same as the moles were talking about, but when Velkin got closer, all the words were jibberish. When he got a bit closer, he said there was some weird feeling he had to shake off, but was able to move away from the mill. The rest of us headed over to investigate.Thorfus looked into the mill through this listening spyglass he has and did seem like he got his mind a bit noodled, started saying gibberish too. Velkin looked through after that, then stabbed Thorfus with a poisoned dagger. Now, they were a bit crotchety with each other all morning because Velkin left this mechanical bee they have on the boat, but I didn't think it had quite gotten to a stabbing level, so I had Snuffles help Thorfus tackle him, and then he snapped out of it. We did a bit more investigating to see if it was hearing or seeing inside the mill that makes you stab your friends, and figured out it was hearing, so we plugged up our ears and Kauri cast a spell to make everything all quiet so we could go in to investigate. I poked at this bit of goop with the flat of my axe and it turned into a real big goop monster, like something out of the stories I used to read you. This one had stolen people's tongues, eyes, and teeth though, so maybe not exactly like those stories. Anyway, Thorfus hit it with what he said was some big blast of psychic energy (grandpappy's friends have a lot of neat tricks), and then the rest of us wailed on it until it just turned into normal goop again.

After the fight, we found some bodies in the mill. One was Emery. I don't know if you'd remember him, we didn't know him that well, but he was a gentle fellow. Had a little crafts shop where he made toys and home goods for trade with Feldmark. I'd thought he'd gotten away to Dun'Khel with the others. Even though we didn't know him so well, it still made me sad to think a lot of our village may not have made it. We gave the bodies to the river, figuring they'd make their way to the sea eventually. I know they could have been useful zombies and all, but it just didn't seem right with innocent people like it did with the pirates.

I'm writing tonight at the end of mine and Lambertus's watch at one of the last farms to the north. I'm thinking we'll get to this Gharaz'Khel place tomorrow. Had another conversation with Lambertus. I really don't think the poor guy is doing well. I should talk to Thorfus about it tomorrow, I think they've known each other the longest. He did mention that when they were in Dun'Khel he didn't see any other gnomes. Which, he likes to hit the sauce about has hard as your Great-Auntie Morel did, so that might not be saying a lot, but after Emery it's still got them worried. What if no one from our village made it? Or maybe worse, what if more families got torn apart like ours did? I'll have to ask the others tomorrow. I miss you Spud. Hopefully wherever you are you've got some way of looking down over my shoulder watching me write these.

Love, Grandpappy Glompus 14th of Anurilden