The Hollow Earth

Chapter 1, Part 8 - Xiff's house

A real fixer upper!

The team met up in the middle of town but not before Navki and Raru decided to help Fish with the warehouse. After a while, Navki returned to the Falcon to relax and tend to the boat.

While that happened, the rest of the went to the mayor and gave him Bert and Ernie’s sword and pendant so he could tell their families what happened.

Ezren got his bow restrung by a netter in town and the group made their way to a local eccentric’s hut to buy spell components and a 4-pack of healing potions that are guaranteed to put hair on your back and a spring in your step.

From there, the team decided to spend the night at Fish’s and headed up to Xiff’s house first thing in the morning.

After Ezren secured the perimeter, Merisiel and Mung took to picking the locks on the front door of the house. It was a complex series of locks and needed both of them working together to open it up.

The lobby (at the base of its main tower structure) of the house looked like it had been abandoned for a long time. In the middle of the room was a large, faded crystal covered in a thick sheen of dust. It’s connected to a series of pipes that run along the floor through the doors to the east and north. In one corner of the room was a large stuffed Wendigo overlooking the crystal. Worried it was connected to it in some way, the game rotated it out of view of the crystal after Ezren checked its line of sight for a possible security connection.

Merisiel found small, light footprints in the dust in the lobby and figured out that kobolds had been in the house recently.

There was a waist-high book shelf that ran around the room. On the shelves were wooden cups and plates and serving trays. There were also a series of thin books (about 30 pages each) that contained short stories about supernatural monsters and myths that didn’t really seem to be tied to anything real.

Some of them had “summoning symbols” but they’re drawn as if the author was a sort of armchair occultist. The symbols said you can summon things like The Fourth Whale, Guntarra, Wexelblue, The Hogba, and The Great Bobbin. Neither Ezren nor Furio had absolutely no idea what those were.

In addition to the “occult” books, there were others that were satires about corrupt government officials, church officials, highway bandits, and multiple references to “sinking all of them in The Talegarsh.”

Ezren examined them and realized that they were all written in familiar handwriting. When he spent time with it and picked up another book, the inside cover said, “To Ez, Trust only yourself.” All of the books were by the same author, and Ezren realized that it was his father.

In total, there were about 60 of these 30 page pocket-journals and adventure guides. Some were full of content, some half full. Some had artwork only in them, some were biology studies of impossible creatures, and some had summoning symbols.

The team wasn’t sure what all was real and what wasn’t in the books, but Ezren did know what the Talegarsh was.

The next room had a few more masks on the walls as well as a large slab that had been toppled. There was a shiny silver serving tray (worth about 50gp) on the floor in the room half buried under rubble. One side of the tray had been polished and was very reflective.

Next up was a room akin to a study or office. Covered with papers, notes, maps, charts, graphs, and more, they found rough sketches of the shadow monsters on pages. Spending a bit more time with the papers all over the floor netted the following information:

  • a schematic describing a series of tubes that appears to be planning how to channel mystical energy. The image has a “NO!” scribbled in a bottom corner.
  • a document that described different types of energy occurring in nature (gravity, lightning, etc.). Lightning seemed to have notes in the margin with lots of calculations. The numbers 1.21 and 55 were in a different colour and were circled.
  • the team noticed small footprints that had been left in the room and identified them as kobold tracks
  • there was a small diagram of a rotating platform designed to turn heavy objects with ease

Storage room – this room had a small window on the east and west walls. Both looked like they’d been roughly hewed from the stone of the walls. The window to the east bore scorch marks around its edges. The floor of the room was packed with twisted scrap metal. In the back corner is a closed closet door which contained a grandfather clock, a candelabra, and some dinnerware on a small cart. All were covered with dust and looked like they hadn’t seen service in a long time.

This room also contained kobolds rummaging around. After some positioning to avoid the metal barriers around the room, they were easily dispatched.

The Lab was next, split in half by a heavy leather curtain (one uninterrupted piece of 10′×10′ leather) covered with scorch marks. To the south of the room was a large machine pointing on a curious angle towards the northwest to the curtain.

The machine looked like it had been worked over by physical attacks. The floor around the machine looked charred as through it had been burned repeatedly by intense blasts of something.

The team took down the curtain revealing a bugbear ranger and 4 kobold teammates. The battle was fierce and rather than turning on the machine to blast the monsters with what they later found out was lightning, they took to blade and bow to try to fell them. Equipped with elfbane arrows, the ranger almost flatlined both rogues during the battle until Furio put him to sleep. When he woke up, his first target was Ezren who got a face full of masterwork composite longbow and was knocked unconscious. More fighting continued until they heroes were victorious!

When the red lever was pulled on the machine, the sound of whirring and gears could be heard and finally a silver tube appeared from the top of the machine. Then it discharged a burst of red lightning across the room and posed a puzzle. The team rotated the pillars and reflected the beam through the house to the white crystal in the lobby, opening a portal to another place. All but Mung were sucked in and whisked away!

They came to in a very strange place. It was an almost exact copy of Xiff’s house except it was very dark and mysterious. The books in the lobby that had contained text were now empty.

Suddenly a figure emerged from the darkness and crossed to the centre of the room, as if searching for something. When he couldn’t find it, he hit the ground, causing the floorboards to split apart momentarily and display the inky space beyond. He then stopped as if hearing a sound and ran into the shadows of the room and vanished. The group heard “Help meee” whisper through the air and they were again alone.

The team made their way to a room with masks hanging on the wall, Ezren removed one and it revealed the space beyond. Tossing a crossbow bolt out into the void, it returned a few seconds later, looking tarnished. While that was happening the removal of the mask opened a hidden room filled with coins bearing strange symbols from the lobby of Xiff’s house and markings from the nation of Arroes. Gunnar took a handful of them in his pockets, revealing space beyond. Ezen also took a coin.

While the others were checking out the coins, Furio opened the front door and revealed a vast expanse of space filled with purple nebulae, dotted with stars.

In the next room was a simple looking hallway and Bellatrix took the first step down it. As she walked, the hallway grew longer and longer yet stayed eerily the same size. At the end of the hallway, she and the rest of the team found another platform, positioned about 10’ from the current one. On one side of the platform was a small stone bench where Xiff sat silently. On the other side was a large white tangled mass of flesh and goo.

First into the fray was Merisiel who leapt flawlessly onto the platform and crossed to Xiff. Xiff looked up at her with great excitement in his eyes and then suddenly great fear. The white mass evolved into a horrible creature like a lion with tentacles for a mane and appeared right behind Merisiel. She tossed a dagger at it, which dropped out of the air before her informing the others that ranged attacks didn’t work while they were on the platform. Additionally, they couldn’t hear any sound coming from the platform which told the magic users that their spells might be rendered useless.

It was then that Merisiel was knocked out by the monster and Bellatrix attempted to leap across the gap to help. She just missed her roll and tumbled into the void, appearing back at the end of the hallway with the others.

Gunnar was next and leapt across the gap and took on the monster headfirst.

Fearing for Merisiel’s life, Xiff rolled up his sleeves and reached off his platform to grab her. As his small arms pierced the invisible barrier surrounding his bench, he was covered in scars, scrapes, and burns. He managed to grab her unconscious body and pull her close to him on the platform to keep her safe.

With the others pinning down the monster with magic and arrows (and eagles!) from the end of the hallway, Gunnar discovered what was up when Xiff noiselessly told him to smash the bench. After two powerful strikes, the bench smashed into hundreds of pieces and Xiff exclaimed “FINALLY! NOW FINISH IT SO WE CAN GET OUT OF HERE!”

With one last arrow, Bellatrix pierced its side and felled the beast and the team made their way to the lobby of Xiff’s house. There a portal had reopened and transported them all back to the material plane where Mung was waiting (semi) anxiously.

After being thanked by the town, the crew got geared up and made their way dockside. While they loaded the ship Furio saw a figure on the dock, a short gnome with bandages on his arms. Xiff looked up and said, “Permission to come aboard, captain!” and Furio welcomed him.

Later that day, The Falcon set sail for Ayfa, looking for the City of Hux – Golden Gateway to the Swirling Sands.

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