Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Long Game: The Iron Tower Part 3

Deep within the bowels of the Iron Tower, Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar continue their ascent, searching for the Iron Dragon and discovering its motives. 

The next room was designed completely differently than the last. Stairs led up to the next level. What little the party could see of the next room consisted of iron walls forming cells of some kind.

Kalgar moved to one of the cells and opened the door. Inside he noticed a work table, some tools and other equipment, some restraints and dried blood.

Gesturing the others over, Alvyn checked out another cell while Tong moved stealthily off to the side. Inside, Alvyn noted that the cells seemed to be set up to experiment on two subjects at once. There also appeared to be some vials of a weird chemical, perhaps a bonding agent. Alvyn took some.

Tong stealthily examined another room, this one was very clean, apart from the rust on the tools. Alvyn applied some of the chemical to the hinges of the door, but it seemed to have no effect. Alvyn thought it may be made for use on organic tissue. He continued to collect supplies including 4 vials of bonding agent, 2 syringes of sedative, and a full set of surgical tools.

Peering into the next room, Kalgar noticed a horrible looking creature! It was basically a pile of mouths, limbs, and eyes, and as he looked at it, it started gibbering, making noises and growing agitated. Kalgar immediately closed the door.

"So, uh, there's a pile of gibbering mouths in the next room, still alive." Kalgar said.
"That's horrifying." chimed in Alvyn.
"Yeah, I closed the door." Kalgar responded coolly.
"The door locks right?" 

But before the gnome's question could be answered, gibbering was heard from several other cells, growing louder and yet still indistinct. 

"Well, you wanted a fight."

Tong was halfway through looking into the next room when he saw another mouther! This one right in front of the door!

Alvyn looked toward Tong and said, "Punch it in the eye!"
Noticing that the mouther had as many eyes as it had mouths, Tong said, "Not going to be a problem."
With Alvyn's directed strike, Tong's hands opened, fingers toward his foe and landed fast and furious successive jabs on the mouther.

Not resting on his laurels, Tong noticed that the floor seemed to feel less solid beneath his feet. Consulting his inner eye, he realized that the mouther was so aberrant, so unnatural, that it was distorting reality around it.

Kalgar stepped up and shouted, "Strike no one else foul creature!" And threw his javelin. Missing its target, the javelin returned to the dragonborn's hand.

Tong flipped the Codex Caduceus, planting it on to the floor. It began to glow and spout holographic stairs. Tong flipped up these, kicking the mouther in the face, and closing the door with his toes as he landed.

The mouthers became louder and louder. The discordant sounds, white noise, began making the three adventurers lose their focus. A low headache began in each of them, and they started to have problems keeping their balance, and knowing where the mouthers are; they seemed to be everywhere. Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar became dazed.

"Kalgar! Hit it in the face!" Alvyn shouted.
A swing, and a miss, with Kalgar's katana.
"I know a general goes to war with the army he's got, but I want a new one!"
"Hey, it's worked pretty well so far!" Kalgar retorted.

Kalgar extended his wings to their full span, and roared, "Fear me!" His voice momentarily overshadowing that of the mouthers and they stopped, looking worried.

Tong drew a single finger over his forehead as a thousand shards of negative psionic glass erupted from the Codex Caduceus providing a mirror for the monsters, reflecting their monstrosity back at them.

Recoiling in horror and anger, the mouthers gibbered once more. Alvyn flipped up his bolt rifle, fired a freezing arrow at the nearest mouther and started issuing strategy to his comrades. The room erupted into a full-fledged back and forth fight; the mouthers attacked chaotically while Tong and Kalgar's actions were spurred on by Alvyn's battle acumen. 

In a rare moment of coordination, the mouthers erupt acid on Alvyn, Tong, and Kalgar. This acid mutated their flesh, creating boils of gibbering mouths on their arms and hands. Alvyn plugged his ears to avoid the monstrous gibbering.

Kalgar closed his eyes in a prayer to Kord, granting Tong the strength to overcome the mouther's shouts. Tong smiled and said, "Ioun granted me the strength to see through!" Kalgar sighed. Tong laughed and flipped, landing on one finger, his body swirling around faster and faster. Reality warped, bubbled, and shattered around him as shards of psionic energy whipped his enemies into a frenzy, severely damaging one mouther and knocking the other down the pipe in the centre of the room.

Alvyn, eyes glaring at the last mouther, walked up to it, slipped under one of its many reaching mouths, used his weapon to flip himself on top of it and kick it in one of its many eyes. The creature recoiled in pain and as it did so, Alvyn gained insight into the creature's habits and defenses. Alvyn is reluctant to get into any fight but when he does, he likes to strip down his enemy one piece of insight at a time, until his enemy becomes harmless to him or anyone else.

With all of its attention focused on Alvyn and Tong, the mouther somehow failed to notice the 6' 4" winged dragonborn placing its katana on its longest side, resting a clawed foot upon its body and pulling its weapon slowly along the creature, killing it.

The fight was over. The room, quiet. The three looked around the room for anything of interest. Finding nothing, they moved up the next set of stairs to a door. Kalgar checked the door, and finding it locked, waved Alvyn over. The gnome had some experience with thievery and examined it closely. Without warning, Tong brought his leg above his head and down in a massive ax-kick. Nothing was accomplished here except for Tong's foot reverberating off of it in pain.

"Move aside." Alvyn cracked his knuckles.
Scratching his chin, pulled out his little rust monster and applied it to the lock. Unfortunately, it progressed as slowly on the lock as it had on the tower earlier. As they stood there waiting, Tong heard doors they had closed earlier beginning to open. Thankfully, as the monster had eaten at half the lock, Alvyn was able to lock-pick the rest. The three moved to the other side and leaned against it.

The next floor looked similar to the one below, but with more modern equipment. Shackled to the walls, there were several creatures, some had tubes connected to them, and while some appeared as normal creatures (elves, human, dwarves, etc.), others appeared mutated. There were vials covered in half-erased, incomplete labels, Alvyn took a few which just said, "Extract..."

Kalgar pulled out a javelin and points it at the creatures. The first few he poked remained motionless, one crumbled into dust.

"This cruelty is unimaginable! Who would design such a cavalcade of horrors? I will find him and teach him the pain he has inflicted on these creatures." Tong was visible shaken by this place.

Alvyn approacheed the only living prisoner, an ancient elf. She did not seem to notice his presence. Examining her body, Alvyn noticed that she had various tubes and wires connected to her wrists and that these were the only thing keeping her alive. Tong searched her psyche and realized that while she was in pain, she did not seem consciously aware of it.

In the rolling lilt of the elves, Alvyn spoke to her. No response. As he shook his head, Tong threw a fist past him and killed her instantly, ending her suffering. Pulling out his recently obtained surgical kit, Alvyn deduced that someone had recently been experimenting on the elf, but for what purpose he could not gather. "You people wonder why I want to kill all the dragons..." Alvyn mumbled while walking toward the next set of stairs.

Stopping at their base, the three adventurers took a short rest. Tong, kneeling in the corner where stairs met floor, attempted to contact his master, Ting Tang Wong Gong, to ask him about the reason for such violence.

"Do you understand the concept of a mirror?" the wizened man asked.
"You mean, this is mirroring the spiritual elements of-"
"No, look at yourself, did you see how many people you killed before you take off the sword? This is nothing, compared to the horror you created. People can change!" And with a snap, Tong was back in this reality.

Kalgar cleaned his katana, removing the blood and viscera, and dousing it in salt water, muttering a prayer to Melora.

The next floor up appeared to be an even more sophisticated experimentation chamber. There were many creatures shackled to the walls, many alive, with many tubes working to pump fluids in and out of them. The creatures looked as if they were more recently experimented upon, several of them were screaming in pain and among the races, the three noticed humans, elves, and dragonborn mostly.

Kalgar approached the nearest dragonborn. "Shut up!" he commands. The prisoner did not react. Examining the tubes, Kalgar cut the red tube pumping into the back of its neck. He immediately recognized the smell of blood. Kalgar tied it off, wondering why blood was being pumped into the prisoner. The creature seemed slightly better but not by much. Kalgar next cut the green tube.

As the liquid oozed out, viscous and sticky, Kalgar guessed it may be similar to the bonding agent the three had found earlier. Cutting the last tube, blue, the fluid had a sour smell, sharp, but was not known to him. Kalgar shielded himself with a wing as the fluid poured over the prisoner. Through all of this, it did not change, did not seem to get much better or worse.

Meanwhile, Tong was examining the horrors of the room. As Kalgar cut the blue tube, Tong shouted, "I've had enough!" and he kicked out the Codex Caduceus, slammed it on the ground, and projected the reality of his top disciples into the room.

"Look at this! Gaze upon this and see! This is why you need to train. The message of Ioun says to collect knowledge. But this, this is a bastardization. You have the scrolls. You've been training under me. I am not your prophet and I cannot tell you much, but war must begin. I am tired of running, tired of fleeing my destiny and tired of weeping over the corpse of my temple. Gaze upon this and know that one day you will stand beside me as soldiers." He clenched his fist as the mist-disciples vanished. "I'm sick of this, let's go!"

Kalgar could see no way to communicate with the dragonborn. Looking around, he could not find Alvyn, and Tong was already heading toward the stairs. Slipping out of the shadows, Alvyn handed his weapon to Kalgar. "Make sure he doesn't move too much." He pulled out his surgical kit and cut it from neck to navel. The dragonborn screamed, but was too restrained to move.

Kalgar looked away and then down to Alvyn. The gnome noticed his friend's hesitation, which is odd since Kalgar is never hesitant. Rolling his eyes, Alvyn applied one of his found sedatives to the area he was cutting. As he pulled the rib cage apart, intestines spilled out, and it appeared that the creature was growing extra lungs and hearts.

"Dragonborn don't have that many lungs." Kalgar said.
"Well, I'm glad I wasted my sedative on this." Alvyn wiped off his surgical kit.
The restrained dragonborn looked down, not feeling any pain but what little of its mind was left was reeling at the sight.

As Alvyn walked away, Kalgar knew what had to be done. Staring the dragonborn in the eyes, he wrapped his three-fingered hand around his kinsman's neck, squeezing, until he completely crushed its neck and killed it. Not all dragonborn are from Aes, but the people of Aes, especially the dragonborn believe in fighting to the last breath. Situations are rarely hopeless because an Aesian dragonborn will fight even when he's quitting, even when he's retreating. Every Aesian has been trained to value action, so the fact that this dragonborn had no recourse of its own, seriously disturbed Kalgar.

Pulling out a dagger, Kalgar inspects the next creature. Finding no change, reaction, or new information, Kalgar repeated a sad pattern of futile interrogation and hopeless euthanasia. Reaching the far end of the room, Kalgar knelt before the set of stairs. Tong suddenly wondered why he felt like sleeping when he realized, his habits were being cued by Kalgar's normal nighttime ritual as the dragonborn pulled out vials of water and salt, mixed them while praying in Draconic. "Melora, may your grace wash away my sins."

Alvyn collected samples of the liquids. Closer examination yielded it to be growth serum, heated blood, and some bonding agent.

Let's move on to the next room." Alvyn said, "and find out what is really going on."

And on that somber note, the human, dragonborn, and gnome climbed the next set of stairs, but what they found there is a story for another time.

No comments:

Post a Comment