Nehwon

Horn Gate, session #2, 5th April 2013
Day of the Swan (22nd), Satyr's Moon, Year of the Titan

Horn Gate Revealed

Tech-na’s dream

As the waning moon rose over the oasis of Horn Gate, Tech-na dreamed. He dreamed of a little girl and a wizard of the blue-eyed folk. He dreamed that the mystery of Horn Gate might be revealed with persistence.

He awoke, and decided to stick around for a while. That meant getting rid of Duke Raus’ henchman Daine.

The bones don’t (always) lie

Yucta told his plan to the others, who agreed. Yucta, Blundar and Ockasiola disdained Duke Raus’ offer. Yucta prepared some hallucinogenic herbs to put in Daine’s food, but he couldn’t slip it past Daine’s mercenaries. Meanwhile, Tech-na put on a great performance of chanting in strange voices, smearing his face with ash and throwing the bones. He warned Daine about omens. Daine was unmoved, although his mercs were somewhat flustered. Daine departed Horn Gate, not to anyone’s great displeasure.

A day in the life at Horn Gate

Horn Gate was a bustling town of about a thousand. Ockasiola spent his day at the Bazaar, watching passerby. Yucta returned to the hill, where he questioned the Healers about the caves and the blue-eyed folk. Tech-na prepared himself for a night of dreaming, crafting effigies of reeds which he concealed that evening in the blue-eyed hetman’s hut.

Portentious dreams

That night, Tech-na directed his dream self first to Daine, camped out on the plain to the west. Tech-na mischievously filled Daine’s dreams with trouble and foreboding. Then he dreamed his way to the hetman’s hut. Once more He saw the little girl, the hetman’s daughter and the wizard. The wizard grinned at Tech-na: “Show me your power!” he said.

The messenger

The next morning, the little blue-eyed girl waited patiently at the tent flap. She was probably about seven. She motioned for Tech-na to follow. In the street, a couple of Sables swaggered past, kings of the oasis. They shoved the little girl aside so that she fell. Tech-na tripped one of the Sables, trying to make it look like an accident. The Sables stood up menacingly. Ockasiola sucker-punched one of the Sables and he fell in the dust. “Better take your friend and get out of here.” The Sable backed off, dragging his unconscious friend.

“They won’t like that,” whispered a passerby. Yucta ignored him and they continued out of the walls to the huts of the blue-eyed folk.

The wizard

The girl led Tech-na and the others to a decrepit hut on the edge of the village, she motioned to Tech-na and pointed inside. Curlicues of smoke drifted from the windows. Tech-na ducked under the partway collapsed door frame and entered. Inside was a crazy-looking and smelling old man smoking some kind of choking weed. It was the wizard. He offered some to Tech-na, who managed to take two lungfuls without collapsing into unconsciousness. Impressed, the wizard offered to take Tech-na (and reluctantly, Yucta and Ockasiola but not Blundar) to his secret family cave on the hillside.

The ascent

Nicubunu rpg map symbols cave entranceLeaving Blundar at the hut, the three ascended the rocky hill above the Horn Gate settlement. In spite or perhaps because of the powerful narcotic he had smoked, Tech-na bounded up the hill like a mountain goat, while Yucta and Ockasiola struggled up some way behind. In the late afternoon they reached a spot some way up the hillside. The wizard stopped, and communicated to Tech-na that this was the place. He pulled a chicken from beneath his robes and proceeded to slit its throat. Then he made a fire and sat gently rocking while he cooked it. Tech-na, Yucta and Ockasiola wandered away. Time passed and the sun sank lower across the river valley.

The cave

When night fell, the wizard was ready. He offered some cooked chicken to the three, then showed them a crack in the rock which none had seen before. They lowered themselves into the crack and found themselves in a low cave, dimly lit by the light of Yucta’s glowing globe. The wizard proudly showed them the various small statuettes in his family cave. Then he pointed to a hole at the back. “Not mine.”

The lost tunnel

Elder sign nubldoff 01rYucta peered through the hole and found himself looking down a pile of rubble into a larger tunnel, this time of worked stone very different to the cave above. The three scrambled down and found themselves in a wide tunnel, partly blocked with rubble on one side, leading into darkness on the other. On the ground was a loose greenish oval stone with a strange star-like design upon it.

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Interlude: Wandering in Prax, 8th March 2013
Day of the Skunk (16th), Satyr's Moon, Year of the Titan

Horn Gate Concealed

No such thing as a Free Lunch (in Nehwon)

Landen Donovan wasted no more time in Nehwon. He had the information he needed from Feroza, so Tech-na guided him to the riverbank beneath the full moon to return him to the Dreamlands with the black stone.

Tech-na returned to Duke Raus’ fort alone.

Duke Raus’ offer

The next day, Tech-na, Yucta, Ockasiola the Zebran and Blundar Oddly were granted an audience with Duke Raus. He was impressed with their efforts, and offered them his standard mercenary contract. Unfortunately for Raus, the adventurers refused his offer, as politely as they could. Nevertheless, the Duke invited them to tour his domain with his second-in-command Daine (perhaps so they might reconsider). This offer they accepted. Daine outlined their route. The first stop was the oasis of Horn Gate. Although a stranger to Prax, Tech-na had heard of this place, supposedly a holy place with ruins which extended deep into the mountain. It sounded interesting so the adventurers saddled up and rode out the next day, leaving Feroza to fend for himself.

The High Llama Riders

The trip across the dusty plains west of the River of Cradles took four days. On the way they met a group of High Llama Riders, searching for their lost kinsmen. Like Ockasiola they were followers of Storm Bull, so the tribesmen left in peace.

Horn Gate

Warszawianka date palmThe oasis was a bustling place with white walls. Inside the walls were many conical mud huts of a strange tribe of blue-eyed folk, farmers who produced food for their masters of the Sable Tribe. Daine went to deal with the Sables and was not back for most of the day. Yucta, Tech-na, Ockasiola and Blundar wandered up to the bone-bleached ruins on the hillside.

Healer in the ruins

In the ruins the four encountered a procession of white-robed women. Yucta recognised them as healers from the Chalana Arroy cult. The lead woman spoke to them. She said her cult had been exiled from Pavis for a disagreement with the Lunars, and had found peace here at this oasis. She offered healing for any who needed it. Yucta asked about the caves and the ruins; she replied that there were many caves, but few went far.

After the healers had departed, Yucta and the others searched the hillside for caves, entering a few. Inside they found mysterious bundles of flat stones wrapped with reeds, but no long tunnels or caverns.

Hetman of the blue-eyed folk

The blue-eyed folk seemed very servile. They fetched and carried for the Sables, who treated them with contempt. Ockasiola and Yucta tried to talk with a hetman about the caves. Language was a problem; the language of the blue-eyes was like no other, though the hetman showed some interest when Tech-na babbled in Mnarish. The hetman was evasive and claimed he did not understand, then brought some herbs and fruits for the group. Yucta sensed that the man knew more, but could see no way to glean more information.

The Sable feast

Daine returned and informed the adventurers that his business was complete and that there would be a feast that night. All attended. Wine flowed freely and Yucta wandered outside to the oasis, illuminated by the waning moon.

Sight be granted by Zola Fel,” he whispered, plunging his hands into the cool water. The moonlight filtered down through the clear water. He saw fish, lilies, but no underground water tunnels. Where were these caverns?

Next: Horn Gate Revealed

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Lord of Three Lands, tenth session, 30th November 2012
Day of the Dove (12th), Satyr's Moon, Year of the Titan

Riverside, Pavis

From the river bank came a snort. Tech-na-Chuk-Chuk-Wakae-Hazar sat up in the reeds. He showed no surprise at being transported through time and space and stranger dimensions to the River of Cradles — unlike Landen Donovan who stared glumly at Yucta Axotylata. Dawn was breaking, and Yucta immediately set out for the floating barge-shrine of Zola Fel, moored as usual near the Pavis city walls. By good fortune Grandpa Shing was there with his boat. He quickly agreed to transport Yucta and his friends downriver to Weis, where they could seek the cave where Feroza lay imprisoned.

Badside, Pavis

Ockasiola the Zebran stormed out of the Badside pub. His Chaos Hunters had point-blank refused to leave Pavis. They would be back, they would come crawling. But for now he was on his own. Well almost. A well-dressed warrior had come out with him. “Blundar Oddly, I told you the Chaos Hunters will never accept you, not after all those things you did with your sister,” Ockasiola said sternly. Blundar looked glum. “I’ve really got to get out of this place.” Ockasiola glanced over at the Zola Fel Temple barge in the middle of the river — and saw his old friend Yucta Axotylata. He waved. Minutes later he and Oddly had crossed the great water and they were boarding Grandpa Shing’s boat for the journey south.

Downstream with Grandpa Shing

BateauOf course, travel downriver was much smoother than the upstream journey. Grandpa Shing approved of Yucta’s improved sailing skills. They passed the town of Harpoon where Yucta had helped to defeat the colossal gorp, and he wondered what the Sun Domer Alalia was doing. That night they stayed with some river folk, and Yucta felt obliged (at Grandpa Shing’s prompting) to tell their eager hosts tales of the River Voices.

Raus Fort

On the following day (Falcon) the boat arrived at Raus Fort. Duke Raus granted them an audience. When he heard Yucta’s tale the Duke offered the services of a guide: a mercenary named Gregor the Just-in-time, who knew the way to Pola Stead.

Pola Stead

Pola Stead was located in Vulture Country, a dry plateau above the river. It was quite a climb and Ockasiola had to leave his zebra at Raus Fort. The stead looked innocuous enough: a few buildings surrounded by a stockade. Yucta pounded on the door. It was answered by a bemused-looking man in his fifties, the homesteader Nanni Pola. Two of his grown sons were nearby, along with several vacant-looking slaves. Yucta marched in and demanded the release of Feroza. The farmer denied all knowledge, but Yucta saw that he was lying.

The farmhouse

Tech-na and Landen went to search the farmhouse. Pola and his boys looked tense. Inside was Pola’s wife Aliuma; Tech-na convinced her to join her husband outside. In the cellar of the house was a low but wide crevice which led downwards into the earth. Tech-na investigated some distance with Landen’s flashlight. On the way back he spied a hidden larder, filled with human remains. They returned to the yard and confronted the Polas with their discovery. Instantly the farmsteaders drew knives and attacked the mercenaries.

Knife fight

Hand with knifeNanni Pola and his sons were surprisingly agile and skilled with their daggers. Aliuma also drew a knife and attempted to stab the shocked guide Gregor. Nanni Pola dodged Yucta’s mighty mace and plunged his dagger into Yucta’s stomach, staggering him. Nanni’s son Kennona slashed Ockasiola and he fell bleeding in the dirt. Tech-na slung sling pellets and Landen fired his stun pistol but to no avail. Blundar Oddly did not flinch. His rapier stabbed first one farmsteader, then another. He even managed to dodge his adversary and heal Yucta. But things looked bad for the mercenaries until Tech-na used some pyrotechnics to distract their opponents, and Landen conquered his fears of hand-to-hand combat and charged in with his vibro-knife. Soon the farmsteaders (or Ogres?) lay dead all around, though plenty of merc blood also stained the yard.

The black cave

They patched up their wounds, and then crawled into the crevice below the Pola’s farmstead. They wormed their way into the earth. The ceiling was no higher than forty centimetres, though the tunnel was quite wide. After about thirty metres they found themselves in a cave with a floor covered in bubbling muck. Ockasiola noticed submerged ledges. Yucta had just set foot on one when he saw the unmistakable signs of a submerged gorp approaching. However it was a fairly easy matter to evade the creature. Beyond the muck cave was another, where many candles burned and a great throne had been constructed among the stalagmites. Tech-na sensed that this cave was a nexus to the Dreamlands. Chained to a stone in front of the throne was a hunched form, bearded and dirty but unmistakeably Feroza. He grinned through cracked lips. “I knew you would come.”

The wounded mercenaries made their way slowly down the escarpment to the river. They boarded Grandpa Shing’s waiting boat and set sail for Raus Fort. The full moon rose and was reflected in the dark waters so that the little boat seemed to be travelling in space between two worlds.
Full moon luc viatour by merlin2525

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Lord of Three Lands, 9th session, 28th September 2012

The Four Who Returned

Partings at Dylath-Leen

The dreamers and the dreamed parted ways at Dylath-Leen. Captain Ow’ney and Jeth Sinterlaine happily took possession of the black cog. Sir Thrakus departed for Celephaïs to report of his adventure to King Kuranes. The four waking-worlders Yucta Axotylata, Landen Donovan, Tech-na Chuk Chuk Wakae Hazar and Feroza the Boatman took the north road along the River Skai. They passed pleasant fields and farmhouses on the way to Ulthar, city of cats. Tech-na wondered briefly if he should visit the House of the Blue Door to present the boatman to Grandfather Wai’ii, but decided against it. The man was a charlatan, not the true Watcher Between Worlds. They continued towards the Enchanted Wood.

Return to the Temple of Kiran

The four skirted the Enchanted Wood to return to the River God’s temple, there to return the pearl. The four watery priests appeared, as did an aspect of Zola Fel (?) Himself. He rebuked Feroza for stealing the pearl, punishing him with a mild curse. Then he disappeared. Yucta was nonplussed with the god’s behaviour.

The Fears of Feroza

The travellers re-entered the deep shade of the Enchanted Wood, where they had met for the first time seventy-four nights past. As they made their way towards the old hollow oak (Tech-na remembered a certain kind of luminous fungus which grew near) Feroza became more and more agitated. Finally, he bolted. Landen had been expecting something of the kind — he spun around and blasted the wayward Boatman with his stun pistol. There was an arc of energy. an ozone smell among the forest scents of moss and slowly rotting leaves, and Feroza fell rigidly to the ground. When he recovered he found himself pinned to the ground by Yucta. “You’re coming with us,” he said.

Feroza pleaded: “Please, I can’t go back. In the waking world I am imprisoned in a dark hole beneath the earth. You are the only ones who even know that I am there. It is Pola Stead, in the Grantlands, but a few miles from Weiss. Please, you must save me in the waking world as you have saved me here.”

“Must?” Yucta was unimpressed. “You have led us on a merry chase through this world and now you ask for more?”

“Please, I owe you my life, twice over.”

“Get moving.” Yucta grabbed Feroza and pulled him towards the door in the oak tree.

Departure Hall: The Cavern of Flame

The Cavern of Flame was as they had left it. The two priests Nasht and Kaman-Thah were clearly surprised at their return.

“You have the stone and the man. You have done well. You may now return to the waking world. But beware of the One who seeks the black stone.”

“He’ll have trouble,” said Landen. “I’m going to torpedo it into a sun when I get back.”

Farewells were spoken. “See you in the Dreamlands again, perhaps!” chirped Landen. He made his way to the exit, soon losing sight of the others. He climbed a few steps and saw the base of an access ladder, and the green indicator lights of air pressure. But — strange — there was another tunnel, this one filled with swirling coloured mist. Landen’s curiosity got the better of him. He entered the misty tunnel.

Nehwon

Yucta awoke in the misty dawn to the chirping of frogs in the reeds of the wide Zola Fel River, just out of Pavis town. To his surprise, Landen Donovan was nearby. Landen looked around. “This is not the Free Lunch!” The black stone — it must have mis-translated him to the wrong dimension. Feroza had used it to lure sorcerers from many places. Perhaps he would know how to get Landen home — but he was trapped in a cave. Landen and Yucta looked at each other, and sighed.

I think that the river
Is a strong brown god — sullen, untamed and
intractable

- T.S. Eliot, ‘The Dry Salvages’, pt.1

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The Man in the Moon
31st August 2012

Attack of the Lunar Knights

The black vapours emitted from the alien thing swirled around in the entry hall of the Mansion of the Moon. Somewhere inside the cloud clanked two of the dark-armoured Lunar knights; their sounds were muted.

NosferatuYucta Axotylata pulled Landen Donovan to his feet in the library doorway. Sir Thrakus stood warily nearby. The gaunt figure who had attacked them lay broken and smashed at the foot of the stairs.

WHO DARES DISTURB MY HOUSE?” came a loud voice from the top of the stairs. It came from a very tall pale man in a dark cloak. Next to him was a little girl in a pink dress with an evil expression. Surrounding them were four more of the animated armoured suits. “Get them!” roared the man in black. The suits clanked down the stairs, brandishing their spears. “Yes, get them, Vredni!” grinned the girl.

Yucta and Sir Thrakus leapt to defend the bottom of the stairs, hoping to constrain the lunar knights. They were big and tough, but slow. Sir Thrakus bashed them with his shield while Yucta laid about him with his double-handed mace. Landen readied his stun pistol, aimed and — click — out of power.

From the kitchen came a yell. Captain Own’ey and his hulking first mate Jeth Sinterlaine, recently prisoners, came running. Own’ey was brandishing a metal meat-hook. The wizard Inuridiss came running too — straight into the open door of the library. He drooled at the sight of three stories of bookshelves.

One of the Lunar knights went down, collapsing into shards of black metal and oozing black sludge. The tall man at the back furrowed his eyebrows and began chanting a spell. Tech-na began flinging his ‘lucky’ sling stones wildly at the Man in the Moon. Landen changed the power pack on his stunner and blasted the tall man, but to no avail. Sir Thrakus tried to bowl the black knights over with his shield; they were hard to budge but eventually the front knight fell over backwards, slipped on the ooze of its predecessor, and crashed into the knight behind, also knocking it over. The battle began to go the adventurers’ way. The Man in the Moon and his child protege started casting more spells. These were distracted by a flock of chickens which Techna had dreamed into existence. The chickens clucked and flew from the balustrade. Landen blasted the girl with his stun gun, knocking her backwards. The Man in the Moon gave Landen a look of pure rage. He prepared a special spell. Landen ducked into the library (ignoring Inuridiss who was squatting in a pile of books nearby), and began to climb the tall rickety ladder to the top shelves, where a ledge doorway was just visible.

The Man in the Moon had lost sight of Donovan, so he unleashed his curse on Sir Thrakus, who was climbing the stairs to fight the armoured knights. Sir Thrakus writhed with agony and fell back as the marrow of his bones turned to molten lead. Vredni Vorastor, the Man in the Moon, laughed to see it. Sir Thrakus collapsed, but with a superhuman effort he pulled himself to his feet, grabbed a spear from one of the fallen knights, and threw it straight at the Man in the Moon. The spear
impaled him and he died gurgling. Immediately, the remaining armoured knights fell to pieces.

Escape from the Moon

Landen soon found his way from the third floor back down, to find the enemies defeated. Yucta, Tech-na and Landen searched the mansion for Feroza the Boatman, calling his name. They heard an answering cry and found him in a locked room on the third floor. Feroza was very grateful to be rescued, but Tech-na did not trust him; he demanded he hand over the river god’s pearl and the mysterious flat black stone he carried. Tech-na had heard that the Man in the Moon could not be permanently killed there, so he told Jeth Sinterlaine to bring Vorastor’s body along.

The group left the mansion — all except one. Inuridiss informed them he would be staying, risking moonbeasts and whatever else; he would make his own way from here. The rest shrugged and departed, not particularly tearfully. Wizards after all, are wizards.

They bounced across the dark lunar plain back to the scraggly fungus forest where they had left their ship (Tech-na dreamed a giant and familiar-looking pot into existence for his trip). Fortunately the crew had been too witless and fearful to sail away. They boarded the black cog and tied the corpse of Vredni Vorastor to the bow, with the corpses from the space-wreck Turquoise. Yucta steered the ship to edge of the great Lunar Cataract to the south. Dark water thundered into the depths of the Moon below as the ship launched from the rim into interplanetary space. Landen took the helm and, after traversing the dark mountains of the moon, aimed the ship for the blue marble of Earth.

Sailing from the moon

Papapishu galleon.pngShortly after takeoff, Vredni Vorastor’s corpse stirred and twitched. Sir Thrakus was watching and ready; he killed the Man in the Moon immediately for the second and final time. Three days passed in the cold darkness of space. Captain Own’ey advised Landen that returning via the Basalt Pillars of the West would be safest. Nevertheless, Landen made a bad job of it when they approached, sending Own’ey tumbling and cursing around the wheelhouse as the ship splashed and crashed between the great Pillars. The sea beyond was exceptionally calm, and they had good winds all the way to Dylath-Leen.

The Boatman’s tale

During the voyage through space and sea, Feroza the Boatman told his tale:

I was a fisherman on the Zola Fel River, but I dreamed of having great adventures. One day, this man [Yucta] and a dark robed one boarded my boat to cross the river, not far from Pavis. Half way across, a huge gorp loomed out of the river, overturned the boat and I lost consciousness in the water. When I awoke I was on a mud bank. I saw my passengers sprawled unconscious nearby. When I went to wipe my face I saw these runes [shows the blue runes on his hands]. I knew what those runes meant — after all, I was once an initiate of Zola Fel. He had cursed me to give my life for the river. I did not want to die. I did not want to be cursed in that way. I fled. And because I knew that the runes would be recognised wherever I went on the river, I fled there too.

I feared the nomads to the west so I travelled east to Vulture Country. There I had the misfortune to be captured by Ogres and imprisoned in a lightless cave below their stead. I despaired. I prayed to every god except Zola Fel for release. And one heard me, a dark god. He showed me how to reach this marvellous Dreamlands, but there was a price. I had to use a black stone He gave me to lure sorcerers into the Dreamlands. So I did it. I don’t know what happened to the ones I lured, though now I fear the worst. When I saw Yucta again I knew the game was up. I ran away. For a little while I was free. But then His servants came for me, the Moonbeasts. They captured me and took me to the Man in the Moon, another servant of Him. Now you have rescued me, I am in your debt. I am sorry now for the trouble I’ve caused.

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Lord of Three Lands, 7th session, 27th July 2012

The Mansion on the Moon

Giant steps are what you take

Amid the strange shadows of the scraggly fungus forest, the adventurers prepared for their walk across the lunar plain to the Mansion of the Moon. Sir Thrakus bounded ahead, followed by Landen Donovan, Yucta Axotylata, and Inuridiss. Tech-na-Chuk-Chuk-Wakae-Hazar paused then followed after, taking giant strides in the weak gravity.

The trip across the plain was uneventful, though the companions wondered if they had been observed from the high tower of the mansion. As they climbed the bluff they spotted a number of strange crystal monoliths, arranged regularly in a semicircle. Inuridiss recognised them as some kind of alarm system. Using all of his power he vanished one of the stones. Inuridiss collapsed unconscious and the party proceeded — undetected — through the gap in the stones

The house of fungus and bone

Beyond was the Mansion of the Moon, a sinister looking residence constructed of the bones of various real and unreal creatures. The house had many windows. Landen crept around to peer into some while the others hid in the dark shadow of the northwest wall. In one window was a large indoor garden of succulent plants, dotted with disturbingly lifelike statues. The main windows looked into a grand entry hall, flanked by giant dark suits of armour. At one point Landen spied a motionless figure on the grand staircase. In another window were some sleeping Men of Leng. In the courtyard was a stairs leading down to a locked door. The sound of screaming could be heard beyond.

The torture chamber

Moon beastThe lunar explorers descended the stairs. “Is this any use?” asked Techna, flourishing an antique key he had dreamed into existence. Sir Thrakus turned the key and opened the lock.

They found themselves on a balcony overlooking a dim smoky chamber lined with cells. In the centre of the room a huge toadlike Moonbeast was torturing someone, assisted by a couple of Men of Leng. Yucta and Sir Thrakus leapt to attack, while Landen readied his stun pistol. Tech-na danced back and forth on the balcony throwing sling pellets wildly. Yucta and Sir Thrakus made short work of the Men of Leng, but the Moonbeast was tougher. A blast from Donovan’s stun pistol finished it, but Yucta noticed with horror a couple of cell doors below the balcony from which more Moonbeasts were emerging. Yucta and Sir Thrakus sprinted to deefend themselves against the new threat. Tech-na, deep in concentration, gave a sudden shout and the balcony collapsed in front of the Moonbeasts door, sealing the things in at least for a while.

There were three somewhat able-bodied prisoners in the cells: smuggler Captain Owne’y and his silent first mate Jeth Sinterlaine; and a strange gas-bag xenomorph with vanes, tendrils and bulbous eye-like appendages. There was also an internal stairway to the main house. The rag-tag group ascended carefully.

Unwelcome visitors

They emerged in a kitchen pantry, amid hanging cuts of horrifically dubious meat. Inuridiss groaned and stirred, clutching his head. Landen headed out to scout the interior, while Yucta and Sir Thrakus crept out to silence the sleeping Men of Leng whom Landen had spotted earlier through the window. They crossed the great hall with its black-armoured sentinels and killed the Men of Leng in their bunks. On the way back however, a fiery light appeared behind the visors of the black suits of armour; they clanked ominously toward Thrakus and Yucta. Inuridiss grabbed the alien prisoner with a bony arm and threw it out of the kitchen door towards the armour suits. The alien emitted a black cloud of inky smoke which obscured all vision and enveloped the automatons. Landen, observing all this from the library door, suddenly saw the tall figure he’d seen earlier coming down the stairs. He readied his stun gun for a point-blank blast and pressed the trigger as the figure walked past — to absolutely no effect! The gaunt figure turned — Landen looked into its dead eyes — and it smashed him to the ground with its mighty fists. Yucta and Sir Thrakus ran to assist their friend. Yucta’s mace smashed the creature into pieces. Landen clambered breathlessly to his feet.

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Lord of Three Lands, 6th session, 6th July 2012

The icy void

The cold silence of outer space enveloped the black cog as the Moon grew ever larger in Landen Donovan’s viewport (well, porthole). Yucta Axotylata stood at the prow near — but not too near — the shaman Techna and the brooding sorcerer Inuridiss. Yucta scanned the moon with his spyglass and saw an approaching vessel, a black cog like their own. Landen Donovan veered the ship ever so slightly away and those on deck wrapped their heads with turban-like wrappings, like those of the men of Leng. The other ship seemed to be fooled by this ruse but at the last minute Landen remembered the fluttering flag of the Free Human Confederacy which he had bought on the Isle of Oriab. No one was quick enough to pull the flag down, but Inuridiss shot out a skinny arm and chanted some words. A white strand shot from his hand and enveloped the flag. The strand constricted the flag into nothingness, to Landen’s dismay. The other black cog sailed by silently.

A day passed in the eerie, dispiriting quiet. The crew had been released and Tech-na had even managed to cheer them up a little. Still they stayed grumbling belowdecks.

Wreck of the Turquoise

On the third day in space, Tech-na spotted a derelict vessel, which he estimated to be about two hundred years old by its style. Its masts were snapped and its hull was pitted with meteor holes. Landen expertly guided the ship alongside, and Yucta made an expert grappling hook throw. Yucta, Tech-na and Inuridiss watched carefully as Landen tied himself to a rope and hurled himself into zero gravity between the ships. Then they followed him. The ship was mostly empty except for a few weapons and a couple of corpses. From the ships’ log (which Inuridiss studied avidly) it seemed that the ship was named the Turquoise, and it had been battered and smashed in its journey beyond the Basalt Pillars of the West, and that the crew had succumbed to the dangers of space. The log also described a magical shield called Shinjurak. Landen found the shield and discovered that saying that word would make it flash with bright light. Sir Thrakus showed him the rudiments of shield fighting, although Landen complained that the shield was heavy and hurt his arm.

Dark side of the moon

Papapishu galleon.pngLanden piloted the cog past the light side of the moon and beyond tall jagged lunar mountains. The light became muted. Everything appeared as shades of grey tinged with sinister colours almost beyond human perception. Small stone huts appeared below and Yucta identified them as villages of the men of Leng. Ahead was a great black ocean on the surface of the Moon. “Brace yourselves!” shouted Donovan. He took the ship down with a mighty splash into that dark oily sea. No one was hurt.

Yucta took over the helm now that the ship was on water again. Another black galley approached from the north and once again passed by with no hint that anything was out of the ordinary. Beyond it was a city of grey cylindrical buildings. A horde of toadlike Moonbeasts was at the busy docks, loading and unloading crates of human and less-than-human slaves into crates in the black galleys. The foul stench of this place wafted across the water. Even Inuridiss had no desire to visit this loathsome city. Yucta turned aside.

The Mansion of the Moon

Presently a great roaring was heard and the current picked up. Landen realised there was a large cataract nearby, maybe similar to the Basalt Pillars of the West, and possibly a way to escape the Moon. Yucta steered the ship away and presently a tall crag came into view, topped by a dark mansion. Below was a wharf, with a black cog docked there.

“The Mansion of the Moon” breathed Inuridiss, “where dwells the Man in the Moon. His…library is said to be…extensive.” The old sorcerer was visibly excited by the idea.

It seemed a better destination than the city of the Moonbeasts, though whether they would find the Boatman Feroza there, Yucta could not guess. He looked up at the crag and realised the Mansion had a very good view of any approaching ships. He steered north, and Tech-na, Landen, Yucta and Inuridiss put ashore in the small boat in a cove near a scraggly fungus forest. Sir Thrakus joined them. “I did not journey to the Moon to nursemaid a cowardly crew.”

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Lord of Three Lands, 5th session, 1st June 2012

The edge of the world

The sailor of Dylath-Leen

The sorcerer Inuridiss was no stranger to the sinister alleys of Dylath-Leen. He knew of a sailor who had been to the Moon and back, and he led Landen Donovan and Yucta Axotylata to his house. The ragged sailor invited them into his hovel and told his tales (in exchange for some Sarrub wine). He talked of the cataract beyond the Basalt Pillars of the West and the coldness of the space journey. Landen decided to buy some furs and cloaks from the market.

At the Great Library of the Dreamlands (Dylath-Leen branch), Inuridiss found references to ‘space-mead’, a potion which allowed survival in space. It could be brewed from a herb called Yath from the Enchanted Forest. Yucta located some and brewed some of this mead for their journey.

Council of Baharna

Tech-na knew enough Dreamlands lore to know that the coasts of the Fantastic Realms were very dangerous. Accordingly, Landen steered a course for the trading port of Baharna on the Isle of Oriab in the Southern Sea. It was to be the last stopping point before the Basalt Pillars of the West.

The black cog was viewed with suspicion in Baharna, so Landen bought a fine flag (the colours of his own Free Human Confederacy) to hang on the yardarm. He was curious about document he had found in Zakarion, so he petitioned the Council for a hearing. He learned of how Griflet and his otherworldly followers had taken condemned criminal Brazzibar the Unmerciful to be sacrificed in the Accursed Valley to oracular stones. After the meeting, Landen was offered another condemned criminal by corrupt councilor Murkus, who was greedy for rubies.

The Basalt Pillars of the West

Mutiny on the Mxplates

After two weeks in the southern seas, the crew members spotted the Basalt Pillars of the West rising from the cloudy horizon. They were dismayed to realise their true destination. Landen tried to bribe and cajole them but failed miserably. Sir Thrakus and Yucta were also ineffectual. The crew got agitated. Inuridiss mesmerized the bosun with a spell, leaving them leaderless. Then the old wizard levitated into the air. Pulsing lights emanated from his head and his voice boomed unnaturally. He demanded that the ship continue. Panicked sailors ran for the side but Yucta used a Glue spell to stop them from escaping. Sir Thrakus tied them up below decks.

Over the edge

Full moon luc viatour by merlin2525The black pillars were a mile apart and between them the waters of the Southern Ocean spilled downwards into nothingness. The current picked up and Yucta needed all of his shiphandling skills (with no help from the crew, now) to steer the cog over the cataract at the edge of the world. The ship rocked tremendously and launched into space. Landen was slightly injured by a loose crate in the tumult.

The temperature dropped away. Out in the blackness swarmed bizarre phoshorescent shapes pulsing with ghostlike feelers and tentacles – the Larvae of the Outer Gods. They surrounded the ship. “Az, Az, Az!” shouted Landen to no avail. Inuridiss rolled his eyes and spoke the dread last name of Azathoth, dismissing the things. One stupid thirty foot larva remained. Although initially puzzled by the primitive controls, Landen managed to steer the ship away from the slow-moving larva and towards the Moon.

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Lord of Three Lands, 4th session, 24th February 2012

Beyond the Cerenarian Sea

Landen Donovan examined the black cog from fore to stern but could find no obvious astrogation equipment. This ship was to travel to the moon — exactly how? Nevertheless it was loaded with supplies and rubies and would definitely travel the shimmering seas of the Dreamlands. There were charts on board and with the help of the bright stars above he plotted a course which would take them from the black tower of the Moonbeasts to the nearby town of Lhosk.

Lhosk

Lhosk was a trading town on the Cerenarian Sea. There, Yucta, Landen and Tekna sought supplies, information and sailors to take them to the moon. The latter were hard to find until Tekna changed the advertised destination from the Moon to the “Island of Delights” — whereupon eight crewmembers immediately signed up. A mysterious wizard called Inuridiss also joined them. He professed an interest in visiting the moon for his own researches.

An audience with King Kuranes

From Lhosk it was two days to Celephaïs. There they were given an audience by King Kuranes himself, that city’s wise ruler.
“We know of this ‘Boatman’, this Watcher of the worlds. He brings trouble to our lands. It is appropriate that a representative of each of the worlds goes to find him: the land of Dream (King Kuranes nodded at Tekna) and the waking world (Yucta), and the land of Death."

“Why Death?” Landen asked.

“Do you not travel in a cannister loaded with weapons of destruction, filled with soldiers intent on dealing same to their targets, sailing through a void of lifelessness?”

“Well, when you put it like that…” said Landen.

Sir Thrakus, a noble knight of King Kuranes, offered to accompany them to the moon, to bring glory to himself and the King. King Kuranes gave his blessing and suggested more information might be found from the sages of Zakarion, four days sail from Celephaïs.

The sages of Zakarion

Two days from Zakarion, Tech-na spotted a monstrous Sea Elephant cavorting in the waters to starboard. They decided to leave it alone. Zakarion was an ancient city where sages recorded events on timeless scrolls. With some persuasion, the three were able to consult the sages’ records. They learned that the way to space was through the Basalt Pillars of the West, at the edge of the Southern Sea.

Dylath Leen

Dylath leenSeven days’ sail from Celephaïs, the black cog approached Dylath-Leen, the dark city of sharp-angled towers and black basalt streets, mysterious ships from all ports and shuffling, unfriendly folk. There were more black ships in port resembling their own, but neither Tech-na, Landen nor Yucta particularly cared to bother their occupants.

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Lord of Three Lands, 3rd session, 2nd September 2011

The Forbidden Lands

Before dawn an odd party left the north gate of Celephaïs. On the lead dromedary was a sour-faced Yangeer, followed by Yucta, Tech-na and Landen, each on his own beast (paid for with Yangeer’s rubies). Their destination was the Forbidden Lands, though Yangeer urged them to claim to be mere ice-gatherers if they were accosted. They were not.

After a day in the rugged Tanarian Hills the landscape hardened: a dreary desert with high rock ridges, sickly light. That night as they camped around a low fire a small hairy figure with claws and fangs launched itself from the darkness and hurled itself at Yangeer. Yucta knocked it unconscious with his mace and a fist-sized beetle emerged from its buttock. It fled into the blackness leaving a trail of chewed paper. Yucta and Tech-na assembled the paper shards into what Landen called a Driver’s Licence for a being named Stephen Moulton.

On the second day in the Forbidden Lands they saw an oasis in the distance (but Tech-na perceived instead a rotting fungus forest). Yucta gathered some spores and they moved on. On the third day a ridge opened a ‘mouth’ of blackened rock-teeth and howled in a booming voice. Tech-na howled back. They rode on.

On the fourth day they investigated a green flash to the south. They topped a rise and saw a small robed figure coming towards them. Tech-na thought he could see glistening tentacles in the dark cowl of the creature’s robe.
“Where is the man in black?” asked Yucta.
A gleaming black tentacle emerged from the hood and pointed straight up at the moon. Then the creature turned and shuffled on its way.

The black tower

Moon beastThe next day they awoke to find Yangeer and his camel gone. Yucta found his tracks. They led to a hidden inlet of the Cerenarian Sea. There was a huge blackened tower next to a dock with a black cog at anchor. A couple of half-naked humanoids were lounging around a fire pit outside the tower. Tech-na recognised them as Men from Leng, a sinister and unfriendly race.

They decided to charge for the boat. The Men from Leng saw them, and one ran inside the tower. Yucta beat the other with his mace as he rode his camel by. The camels thundered down the narrow dock. Two more Men from Leng popped their heads up from the gunwales, brandishing weapons — one with a spear. Tech-na and Yucta spurred their camels and jumped them on board. Tech-na thumped one of the Lengites with his staff as he jumped, sending the creature overboard. Landen was no camel jumper; he left his camel and climbed the gangplank. But then from the tower emerged three more Lengites, and behind them a vile grey eyeless toad beast with pinkish tentacles and a strange bejeweled vaguely cat-like thing. This shining thing swiftly closed the distance to Landen, raking him with several flashing claw limbs. The cat-thing jumped on board, still savaging Landen, as Yucta fought the nearby Lengite and Tech-na severed the mooring rope.

A swift battle ensued. Yucta’s mace smashed the Cat from Saturn into gleaming shards and the wounded Landen severed the Man from Leng’s leg with his vibroknife. The shore-bound Lengites threw their spears and entered the water but could not get on board. Tech-na saw the toad-like thing engaged in what looked like powerful sorcery. He flung one of his ‘lucky’ sling stones and hit the thing right on the snout, disrupting its spell. An electric blast from Landen Donovan’s stun ray finished it off. The other Men from Leng fled, and Yucta guided the ship back to the dock.

The moon quest begins

A quick search of the boat revealed a couple of spyglasses, some Lengite weapons and a small fortune of rubies.

The tower was hollow all the way to the top. On the ground floor was what looked like a torture rack, with several bones scattered around. A long stairway twisted around the inside of the tower. It led to a prison room. Hidden in a bottle was this message:


I write these words convinced that I am soon to die. My captors will not speak of my ultimate fate but I fear it will not be a pleasant one.

To whomever may find this, you will have my eternal gratitude if you would tell my wife Selene and my daughter Luna that my last thoughts were of them.

Feroza, of Zola Fel

Above the prison chamber was an observation deck where the light of the moon shone in.

Tech-na emptied his mind and tried to visualise the prisoner, as he had done back in Celephaïs. Sure enough he saw the Boatman being taken from the room by Lengites. This time when Tech-na described the man, Yucta recognised him at last. He — this Feroza — was the ferryman who had first taken Yucta and Davros Thanatos across the Zola Fel, when they were engulfed by the giant gorp. But there had been no sign of him when they awoke in the mud near Corflu. Now this Boatman had led them all on a merry chase into the land of dream. But was he alive or dead?

Tech-na glanced up at the yellow moon above the observation deck. He thought he saw a dark speck there. He lifted the spyglass to his eye and saw — a black cog drifting slowly across the face. He moved the spyglass downwards and saw a similar black cog at the dock near the tower. He put away the spyglass and glanced at Landen Donovan, the space ship pilot. A crooked smile crept over his lips.

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