The Hollow Earth

Chapter 1, Part 4 - The Mining Guild HQ in Old Copper

HONEYDEW

Met at the cathedral in Flint, and Bellatrix told everyone what she had dealt with. The others filled her in on what they had done at Farnsworth’s.

From there, they were invited by Commander Claudot’s house for dinner. Mung decided to wait outside while the others went inside. The house was made of tall rooms decorated with pieces of art all the way up the walls. The images there are of the city of Flint over time. It would be possible to put all the art in an order and visually see the history of the city.

After being presented by Arthur, the commander’s butler, the team ate a great dinner after having moved some of his pictures looking for safes behind them. In one corner of the room stood a tall glass jar with an old military uniform inside. Navki was able to identify it as one of the original uniforms worn by the city guard back in the day.

After patrolling around the grounds and eating outside, Mung joined the others.

They talked about the history of the city and the commander told them that the symbol of the Branch was actually one that once represented the city of Copper (the old name for Flint) and its mining guild.

Armed with this knowledge, the PCs made their way to old Copper, an area of the city that was blocked off after Deepwater Day. After making their way to the gate, guards from a nearby tower stopped them but after seeing the medals each was wearing that deputized them for city service, they allowed them passage through the gate.

When the PCs arrived at the mining guild hall it began to rain lightly. The team was able to make out fresh tracks in the grass that lead into the main doors.

As they approached the abandoned building, the weather began to grow more troublesome and some pigeons flew out from under some rafters in the front.

The front lobby is fairly well lit from the sunshine outside but as the clouds quickly gather above, the room grows dark. In the time when the PCs can see with natural light you notice that the floor here has been decorated with a now chipping away mosaic of small white stones and in the middle of that oval, small black stones make up the symbol you know to represent The Branch. Amongst some of the mailboxes that lined the back of an area behind a long counter was some gold and the team smelled chicken crap.

They opted to make their way through an old museum dedicated to the mining prowess of the guild. Old pickaxes with crumbling handles lined the wall with little placards reading things like "First copper strike names city” and “We grow together in all kinds of weather”. The room was intended to show people how great the guild was.

The PCs opened the next room which was completely black. After arguing about who would go in first, an arrow shot out the door and hit Ezren. The team heard some snickering in the dark beyond and charged in. They discovered that the centre of the room had fallen away and they had to deal with goblin archers.

One group consisting of Navki, Bellatrix, and Raru decided to head back into the foyer and go down the hallway they had missed earlier. Opening the door, they smelled more chicken crap, could hear chickens clucking slightly, and saw a figure sitting on the floor at the far end of the room. The figure wouldn’t answer them. On one wall were three large holes cut into the wall. Raru poked his head up to see what was in the holes. The first one had nothing but the second one housed a cockatrice (as did the 3rd one). The bird jumped out and bit him on the nose dealing Dexterity damage to him and causing him to have a stiff nose from that point on. #noseBoner

After killing the cockatrices, they found that the figure in the hall had been turned to stone. Beyond there was a door. Opening that, they found a large, ruined office with some old maps of mines on the walls, one of which read: “Addermire: Inoperative copper mine. Caved-in due to the misuse of explosives.”

Back in the pit room, one of the goblins plummeted into a pit after another goblin hit him with a stray arrow and screamed “HONEYDEEEWWWW!” as he watched his friend fall. The team quickly finished the rest of that fight and moved to the next room.

The next room had a goblin sitting in front of a fire eating what looked like a chicken leg. On closer inspection, the goblin had been turned to stone and was eating a cockatrice leg instead. The walls of this room were decorated with strange marks, painted by hand in strange oil that had spilled onto the floor in some places. Gunnar recognized the symbols immediately as those from left behind in his monestery.

After a quick scan, the group discovered a secret passageway that lead into the basement. Down there was a simple table with a teapot on it and four empty tea cups. As soon as Ezren and Merisiel sat down, a figured materialized and poured himself some tea. The other cups filled up with tea as well. As he drank, so did Ezren. When he did, the figure recounted what seemed like field notes from a failed expedition near Jarek involving a brave guide named “Kapora”. After the encounter, Ezren took and kept the teapot.

The team returned and made their way into a large hall, presumably where the miners met and discussed news and information pertinent to the guild. The room was dark except for the far end where there was a large slab table covered in strange runes and a large red blanked that hid shapes beneath it on the altar. The blanket had the strange symbol from the goblin’s room on it as well. At the head of the table were 4 glass jars. Three of them contained frogs and copper coins and the 3rd was empty.

The PCs pulled the blankets back to see what was under them. They saw:

  • The largest of the bodies was an expertly butchered ogre whose arms and legs have been removed. Its face skin was shrunken and twisted, covered with blisters and boils.
  • The second body is a smaller man who was completely intact. Like the ogre, his skin was shrunken but he beared no obvious blemishes aside from a few bruises.
  • The third body was what looks like a man dressed in tattered monk’s robes. He was missing his jawbone and one of his arms had been removed. His eyes were missing and the sockets are filled with squirming bugs.
  • The fourth body was a woman who appeared to be the best preserved of all of the experiments. The body had evidence of about three or four weeks of decay. At first glance she looked fine but a more careful inspection revealed black stains on her funerary wrap. Removing the wrap revealed that her heart had been removed. She had matted and long, wavy brown hair and pale skin that looked like it would bruise very easily if touched. The skin around her eyes looked to be matted with black tears that appeared to have run down the sides of her head, past her ears, and onto the altar. Without a doubt this woman was Shae, Furio’s wife.

Furio lost his shit and set the table on fire, starting with the blanket and the bodies. As the room began to burn around the team, he noticed that time had stopped (it didn’t change for any other of the players – all of this happened in what seemed like normal time for them). Gunnar did notice that his Detect Evil power was suddenly registering an 11/10.

From behind him, he saw a large humanoid step out of the flames.

This fellow had a strong jawline dotted with small black horns and callouses. Because he had no lips, behind rows of jagged teeth he appeared to always be smiling. His skin was bright red/orange and he had a shock of black dreadlocks running down his back. Looking more closely, the hair appeared to be tendrils and they swayed and moved slightly of their own accord. His eyes glowed intensely and rarely blinked. His exact form was hard to make out due to all of the black and deep purple pieces of fabric that hung off of his shoulders to the floor.

His voice was like gravel. He turns to Shae’s burned body:

“The world as of late is an interesting place, eh Furio?
Seeds of chaos are being sown by monsters born of ancient nightmares.
We all feel it.
Innocents are being corrupted by awful magic and terrible relics dug from deep vaults.
My servants hear her whispers in their ragged ears and gnash their teeth against their brothers.
Nations become guarded, rush to war, and conspire to conquer.
Few will be able to stand once her black tide washes over everything.
And as you know: if you hide and watch, things will only get worse.
More ancient nightmares will crawl from their holes and fill the skies to carry out her will.
Your allies will grow terrible and your sweet Myrcella will be lost forever.
I sense you’re seething with anger and confusion about this disgusting warping of your beloved.
To help, I’m giving you a small gift – something to help expunge her minions and get revenge on those who did this to Shae.
Even if decide not to help me, the wonders you’ll be able to do with my gift will serve me greatly.
Now, rejoin your friends and stop Chelyx’s minions from sowing ruin in Flint.
We’ll be in touch, Furio.
Oh, and don’t worry – my gift allows my servants to find you wherever you go."

The room began to heat up exponentially and the figure explodes with a blinding light and concussive force. The blast is enough to knock Furio back 4 spaces and knock him prone. He is unconscious as time catches up with him. The rest of the team helps him up but have no idea what was said or anything else about what happened.

When he regained consciousness, Furio discovered that both of his arms, from elbow to fingertip, are charred black. Even though they don’t deteriorate, a tiny amount of ash can flake off of them if they’re rubbed together but it immediately dissipates. The scorching is not removable via magic or physical means. It is a permanent side-effect from the traveller’s gift. When Furio is using any fire-based ability, his hands glow bright red as though they are hot coals while the pentagram remains black. When he stops using fire attacks or effects, his hands return to their charred state. His hands must be exposed to use fire abilities or they burn through any gloves he is wearing. They decided to leave the hall.

When they returned back outside a low fog had whipped up and hung in the air but through it, they could make out a group of people standing around near the main gates. As they approached, whispers could be heard and a voice called out as one of figures approached the group. They saw an elf, dressed in the same armour as Warren’s character. The difference between this elf and Mung and Merisiel is that his eyes are solid black with no whites.

As Mung recognized him, he said: “Brother Khee! It is me – Brother Locke! Funny that we should meet again under these questionable circumstances. I was just returning to check on our lady’s experiments – what a small, sad world. I guess I don’t need to go in there anymore as I’m sure you’ve defiled the altar and upset the dark magics. Not to worry, the frogs have been woken up and are carrying out our lady’s work now. You’ll excuse me if I can’t stay – I really should get back to the cathedral so we can complete this first step of her great awakening. In my stead, I leave you to deal with my friends. We’ll meet again, Brother.”

He gripped a talisman around his neck and vanished into the fog. From the fog stepped a number of short men dressed in black. As the party sized them up, a roar his heard behind them and from around the side of the broken room of the guild hall came a massive ogre with two normal arms and one human arm. In its chest is a glass window chained in place. Inside the window is a heart floating in black blood.

After a bit of a struggle (during which Furio had burned Bellatrix by accident) they managed to defeat the monsters and smashed the heart in the ogre’s chest, which they believed to be the one removed from Shae. The ogre fell over backwards and pinned Mung who had been flanking it.

The end of the session left the group wondering a bunch of things:

  • Who was the traveller that Furio had encountered? What did he want with him?
  • Who was Brother Locke and how did he know Brother Khee? And what was their brotherhood all about?
  • What was the mysterious symbol on the walls of the guild and what did it have to do with Chelyx?
  • What’s happening back at the cathedral? Who – or what – is the Shae clone back there?

Being the first night of Deepwater Day, the chance for chaos is great. Based on the great evil they had just encountered and struggled with, the PCs have a strong feeling of dread and worry about the safety of the monks and people back at the church. Without a chance to relax or recover from the struggles around the guild hall, the team took off towards the main gate, out of Old Copper and back to Flint…

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