The Ninth World

The Whispering Mountain - Part 1

Session 26

Elswyr, responding to a personal calling to discover more about her past, decides to strike out on her own.

From Dracogen, you received the following gifts:

  • Mesmer

    • Sleeping instrument (Oddity) - A stringed instrument that causes those aside from the player to feel weary and tired
    • Banishing nodule – For the next 28 hours, each time the weapon the nodule is attached to strikes a solid creature or object, it generates a burst of energy that teleports the creature or object struck an immediate distance in a random direction (not up or down). The difficulty of the teleported creature’s actions (including defense) is modified by one step to its detriment on its next turn.
    • Anti-fatigue pill – resist mental effects that cause fatigue or weariness
  • Cairn

    • Not enough space
  • Jesus

    • Water breather – a one-use cypher that allows you to breathe underwater for 10 minutes
    • Lubricating gel – single-use lube spray
  • Discarded

    • Firework made from old parts

You are returning from Legrash and passing through the Kingdom of Malevich. It lies in the central eastern region of the Steadfast with the Black Riage bordering it to the east. The party is approaching the southern end of the kingdom and expects to encounter the Voil Chasm, a vast, deep, and unexplored chasm.

You make camp for the night. You all awake in the middle of the night in a cold sweat from nightmares that seem to fade away from your memory as soon as you wake. You remember a feeling of fear as well as longing almost to the point of grief. All of your dreams were different, but you all felt like the object you were longing for was just out of reach. The dreams were full of teeth and in the dream, you were in the shadow of a black, twisted, two-tipped (horned) mountain. After a few minutes after waking, these feelings fade.

On breaking camp, Jesus shares that he had a strange dream. Mesmer admits to it as well. Cairn says nothing but tries to identify the mountain from his knowledge of natural history but cannot recall anything that matches its description.

The next night, you all have a similar dream. You take different routes, but the shadows are there. The longing is there. The mountain is there.

There were words in the dreams, but you can’t make them out.

After another night of dreams, you arrive in a small town that lies a few days away from the Voil Chasm. Harker’s Ferry is the town’s name despite the river having dried long ago. You can make out a few non-residential town buildings—a blue ferry building, some inns with swaying signs, and a general store. (The party would know the kingdom is poor and has been ravaged from war.). The town represents a modest refuge from the bleak and desolate poverty of the people and the land surrounding it.

C: Let’s go to the tavern since barkeepers have a universal ability to tell local stories.
J: That seems reasonable

You locate an inn that you originally thought was a tavern. There’s not much of a social scene there, but you see some people walking toward a building marked with a swinging fish sign, naming the tavern, The Spawning Trout. The tavern is filled with gritty hardworking folk. There are a few dozen people, there are a few pairs of people at various tables, there’s an older man by the fire sitting by himself, and there is a bear sitting in a corner munching on food. The bear is wearing a green cap and a simple cloth tunic. There is a walking stick and a traveler’s bag leaning against the wall behind him. He is not obviously armed. He is eating a fish.

M (upset at his lack of sleep): Barkeep, are there any mountains in the area that are black, twisted and horned?
Barkeep (with a dark, suspicious look): No I do not know of any such mountain. Are you gonna have something to drink?

Mesmer hands the barkeep a shin for a round of drinks. You sit down and another man orders a few drinks and gives one to the old man by the fireplace. The old man thanks him and begins telling the story of the town.

Old Man: The town got its name from Harker who set up his ferry here due to its strategic location for traversing the river. But one day, a filthy decrepit man asked for a ride across the river, but said he had no many. He was refused. He asked again, saying he was poor. He was refused again. Harker told the man “we don’t need your kind here”. The man revealed himself as a powerful nano. “I am Mortan, you must give me passage.”. Harker said “Come abroad, oh powerful one.”.

Mortan was outraged at Harker’s charity to only those more powerful than him. Mortan gathered his power and dried the river into the cracks of the mud below. Mortan left the now impoverished Harker, never to be seen again.

The old man takes a large drink and mutters something about the folly of young men. There is some nodding from the other patrons of the bar.

C: Do you want to see if we can ply the old man with more drinks to get more stories?
J: I would propose, let’s first ask him about the mountain and then see what he has to say.

You get another round of drinks plus one more for the old man. You give one to the old man who accepts it gratefully and squints at you as if to recognize you. Cairn hands the drink to the man who stares at him in awkward silence.

C (after a moment): Hey that was a fascinating story… Do you tell a lot of them?
OM: As many as the folk here have a mind to hear.
C: We’re looking for a story that you might want to tell about a mountain somewhere. A black mountain with tall… two tall peaks.

Everyone at the tables around you look away and shift uncomfortably

OM (with a serious expression, nodding slowly): Now I’m no wise man, I’m just an old fool. But it’s clear that something has come to our small part of the world. Now what it is, I don’t right know what plagues us so, but it ain’t natural and it reminds me of an old tale I’ve heard.

Some people listen back in while the others lean away in feigned disinterest

OM: Before the beginning of history, in a place far from here, … now mind you, I heard this from a passing traveler… in a place of danger, a mighty creature whose name was so powerful its name could be said. It had a lair atop a mountain of untold treasure. For a generation, it was left untouched and unmolested by common man, but one day, a visitor from another world appeared atop the mountain. On its peak the battle was fought, with both killed and the fortune unclaimed.

Finding the mountain is nigh unto impossible as it only appears in any given place for a short time. My traveling friend said he saw it once but was too terrified to pursue it. When he went again, it was gone, but he had heard 20 years later a similar story in a faraway land. The rumor is that this mountain moves about every 20 years, gone some of the time, back some of the while, never in the same way.

Always in desolate places, always casting its dark shadows on those who cannot resist it. I haven’t thought of that in a while, but it just came to mind. I don’t know if it’s a good story of fortune and adventure or a bad one of fear and greed, but lately, I’ve been thinking of it often

He settles into silence

J: Where was the last sighting?

OM: My friend never said, so it’s hard to say if it’s myth or truth, but it had a measure of truth to it. My friend may still know.

M: Who is this friend?

OM: Lothar the Shiv. I haven’t seen him in a couple of decades, but he lives in Twin Forks, a village not far from here.

M: Well, we may end up seeking this friend of yours out.

OM: Remember the lesson about greed.

J: How long ago has the river been dried up?

OM: In my parents’ time, before I was born.

M: What’s your name?

OM: Fedrick. Old Fedrick, they call me.

The bear picks up his things and lumbers over to the party. The bear asks to share a room to split the cost of the inn.

J: As the poorest member of the party, I will share a room with you.

M: Might you introduce yourself, sir?

Xiong: My name is Xiong. I’ve been traveling around these parts. I like fish. I grew up in a large town many miles away, but wanted to travel and explore the world.

After another night of restless sleep:

X: Guys, I had the weirdest dream last night.

J: Tell us about it.

X: I had this really strange dream. (describes dream)

M: We’ve been having similar dreams. That’s why were asking Fedrick about the mountain. We plan on seeking out more information about it. Would you like to join us?

X: Sure, it’s disrupting my sleep.

The party begins the 2-day walk toward Twin Forks. Cairn searches for sustenance in the vegetation and provides food. Jesus offers his “wine”. At the end of the first day, we approach a bend in the road with a stand of trees. Xiong smells other people up ahead.

X: I smell people up ahead, we should be prepared to meet them.

The party readies for battle. After several snapping sounds, a volley of arrows flies out of the thicket towards the party. (Each arrow does 4 damage before armor). Xiong and Mesmer are both struck by arrows while the rest of the party is able to dodge away. In dodging the first arrow, the second arrow furrows into the wood of Mesmer’s crossbow.

Mesmer squints at the trees but can’t make out the attackers. Mesmer runs forward and begins throwing up the illusion of a large wall with small windows. He looks around and places a large wall directly between the attackers and the party.

Jesus pokes his head out from behind the wall, but doesn’t see anything and so runs up to Mesmer’s wall.

Xiong sniffs the air, but can only tell that there are many people in the forest.

Cairn runs up quickly and Jesus tosses Cairn his crossbow. Cairn sees glints of metal in the forest, but can’t make out the individual figures. He shoots an arrow into the trees and is rewarded by a yelp of surprise.

You hear mutters and low shouts, “What should we do, boss?” “Well, somebody shoot!” Another volley is released. One arrow strikes Cairn.

Mesmer bursts forward from the illusion and stabs at two of the archers, injuring one but missing the second.

Jesus sees 8 archers and fetches a bow from one of the archers’ hands. It appears in his hands.

Xiong barrels towards the forest. He sees 3 archers—1 injured, 1 recoiling, and 1 undeterred.

Cairn shoots at the archer he shot before. The archer is injured but not down.

Everybody but Xiong hears footsteps behind them. More bandits have climbed out of pits in the ground and charge at the flank i.e. just Jesus. 2 of them close the distance in time to take a swipe at Jesus, the other 2 are still climbing out. 1 misses but the other strikes true.

The startled archer pulls his injured friend back. The one Cairn injured pulls back. The undeterred one shoots Mesmer successfully. The rest unsuccessfully attempt to shoot Cairn through the illusory wall.

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