Saturday, September 30, 2017

Far Isles Session #71 - H'sslik the Lizard Wizard from Beyond Time

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar Pretty Bird and Riding Dog Puppy Whuppy
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 5)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes 
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 5) 


As the party stood staring at the sphincter in the floor, Torak suddenly disappeared and was replaced by Rodrigo, thanks to some kind of weird space-time continuum hiccup. Nonplussed, the rest of the party turned back to the floor. Still nervous about jumping in the hole, they questioned their captive once more. The lizard man confirmed his master lay below, that there was an uncertain number of other lizard men around, and the lizard men had captured a number of sailors from the wreck of the "Star Runner" (two of which were still alive). When asked what happened to the other humans, the lizard man replied with a grin that they were 'used', whatever that was supposed to mean. Regardless, the party decided to checkout the other two membrane doors before trying to go below.

Beyond the first was a generally empty, fleshy space, but with four pools in the floor. One of which was surrounded by a dozen silver poles, 6' tall. Against the far wall was another of the egg-structures. The party cautiously checked the pools. They were filled with a thick yellow, microbiological smelling liquid. Lowering poles, ropes and sacks into the liquid caused no harm to the objects. Questioning their captive did not result in any useful information about the pools, but further prodding about the egg revealed he and his companions had 'slept in them until the world changed'. Humm, some sort of statis field or time machine it would seem.  Chaff went over to the  silver poles, and cautiously tried pulling one out of the floor. It came easily, the hole in the floor closing moments later. Not sure of it's purpose, the little vivmancer carried it away none the less. Moving next to the last membrane door, the party found that this opened into yet another similar looking room. This one was characterized by a line of six statis-eggs along the far wall, and another elevator platform like the one they used to enter the central dome. In addition, lashed to the walls and floor and ceiling by tendrils growing out of the dome was a large collection of objects. Close inspection showed these were mundane things such as ropes and tools and barrels, but of wholly alien manufacture.

Taking leave of this last room, the party returned to the odd passage in the floor. Many plans of how to get down the hole and into the area where 'the master' lurked hatched, but in the end Chaff volunteered to peak through. But only after tying a rope around his waist which Awg would hold just in case.  Chaff squeezed his head into the sphincter; Awg could feel the vivimancer being sucked away, but the calmonari was able to hold tight and pull him out. Once he popped out, Chaff reported that a long tube formed on the other side, leading down into the room below. He couldn't see much of the room itself, however, just that it was of similar structure as those above but larger in size. Well, just as well to go down, so with Chaff taking lead, the party slipped one by one through the sphincter.

H'sslik the Lizard Wizard
Chaff landed first, finding himself in a round chamber. There were four membrane doors leading out, three of which were on the other side of a large pool of water. In the centre was a series of tables or benches of organic origin, seemingly formed out of the fleshy floor of the room. Standing there was an old lizard man in robes, puttering away at something on the benches, while facing Chaff were two more of the Neanderthal-ish lizard men, clubs and nets raised. Chaff raised his hands to show he meant no harm, keeping his distance from the guards. As the others started to arrive, the two guards continued to hold back, while the old wizard turned to see what was going on with only mild interest. When the captive lizard man appeared out of the tube, the two guards hissed and growled in anger, and that was enough for Chaff. He dropped a web, catching two guards (including their first captive) and the lizard wizard in the sticky strands. The sole remaining guard stood it's ground warily, and the lizard wizard looked on the party with full interest now, mostly looking annoyed. Unable to move thanks to the web, he did make a few weird croaking sounds and then cocked his head to one side as if listening. Awg pulled out the Mother of Pearl Egg and addressed the lizard wizard. The calmonari assured him, as one aquatic creature to another, that the party meant no harm.  They were merely being cautious, and were curious about this place. Awg then passed the egg to the lizard wizard and told him it would allow him to speak with them, but they would have to pass it back and forth to have a conversation. Holing the egg in his clawed hand, the lizard wizard (H'sslik by name) hissed that he could understand the party and could converse without the egg if they would free him from the web. That wasn't about to happen right now, so the two sides talked through the egg and through the protection of the web.

The conversation was long and winding and difficult to follow at times, but the party learned quite a
Basil the Talking Fish
bit. First of all, H'sslik and his guards hailed from a time long past when the master races ruled these isles and men were no more than 'ape-slaves'. Just how long ago that was the party couldn't tell for sure as H'sslik kept referring to an untranslatable period of time called a 'saros'; but it was certainly in the range of thousands of years. When the ape-slaves rose in revolt, H'sslik chose to escape by hiding his dome in the jungle  and going into statis (i.e the eggs); unfortunately, he miscalculated the statis field and they ended up staying under much longer than planned. The party also gradually came to learn the H'sslik was not quite right in the head; it seems that when he finally came out of statis, the long duration had fried more than a few neurons. The first thing he observed when he emerged was the tropical fish swimming in the lagoon, and he has been obsessed with 'his pretties' ever since. He was the one creating the weird hybrids the party encountered in the bay, and they could see more mutant fish swimming about in the pool of water. Some of the fish were raw material, and some hybrids. Including a talking fish by the name of Basil, who now had the brain and voice box of a sailor from the "Star Runner". They learned many of the crew survived the wreck, but were captured on shore by the lizard men. They were then put in tanks full of water or fluid, given sustenance and air by tubes. The crew were removed one by one and disappeared, and when it was Basil's turn, he ended by on a dissecting table in the middle of the room. Next thing he knew his consciousness was in the body of a fish; where he was now quite happy.  Basil also pointed out a few of the other mutant fish, including one covered in pearls.

While the conversation was going on, Chaff checked out the membrane doors. Each led into a narrow curved room with tanks formed into the walls. Each room held a different type of creature; the first held two humans from the "Star Runner", floating in fluid and sustained by tubes growing from the walls. The other three contained tropical fish, amphibians (frogs, salamanders, turtles, etc), and mollusks (clams, scallops, oysters, etc) respectively. When he returned and asked H'sslik about them, the lizard wizard confirmed they were raw materials for his experiments. Chaff questioned him about that, all the while poking around at the work benches. The vivmancer learned that H'sslik seemed to be practicing some combination of ur-vivimancy combined with surgery and some kind of innate mental abilities to make his creatures. He also learned that the dome was somehow an extension of H'sslik, and provided sustenance, power and life force to him. It also acted as a recorder or memory, and H'sslik could see what had happened throughout his long statis, as least what happened in the general vicinity of the dome and island. He told the party about the mists, how they would come and go, and each time they lifted different creatures would appear to explore. It seemed the mists somehow moved the Far Isles from place to place or from time to time, and would lift to allow those on the periphery to enter the isles. When queried about the time frame, H'sslik was a bit vague, but each lifting of the mist was relatively short, just a few years at most before they closed in again for a very long time, isolating the isles mostly from each other and whatever was in the outside world for 'many saros'.

By this time the party had decided H'sslik was basically harmless, and decided to cut he and his henchmen loose. They talked to him about the pools in the room above, and he told them they were for healing and rejuvenation. When asked if the party could use them, he seemed OK with the idea, but warned they were not tuned to 'ape-slave' physiology. Still worth trying, so Kwinsea headed back to the "Purple Haze" to bribe Jaz into taking a dip.  The elf was strong-armed into resting in the pool overnight, and when pulled out the next morning was fulling healed and functional. Unfortunately, her tongue had grown to enormous size and strength. knocking her front teeth out when she tried to talk. And of course, she was now unable to cast spells until that little problem could be solved. While Kwinsea gathered Jaz's teeth, the rest of the party negotiated with  H'sslik. They agreed to bring him back example of new pretty fish found in their exploration; in return, they could make use of the pools for healing. The lizard wizard agreed; he also provided some info about the surrounding islands. In particular, that the other island labeled on Ondry's map has a 'ape-slave' city on it; or at least did about 20-30 years ago, which was the time limit of the dome's monitoring ability. With that information, Kwinsea finally deciphered the writing on the map; it was 'smoking ruin'. Well, didn't look like there was a city there now.

Isle of the Smoking Ruins
With that, the party took their leave of H'sslik and returned to the "Purple Haze". They directed Lynessa to set sail to the east, and after a half day fair sailing arrived off the smoking island. It consisted of a volcanic peak, long dormant based on the amount of jungle grown right to the top. They anchored off a shallow bay where there were signs of civilization; a few wooden docks with boats tied up. They were in poor repair, and several boasts had slipped their lines and either run aground or sunk. If didn't look like anyone had been here for weeks or months. There was also sign of a road or path leading up the mountain to a plateau or hanging valley, where a thin wisp of smoke rose into the air. The party opted to not go ashore right away, but had Lynessa sail around the island first. They found nothing else of interest, and anchored once more off the shallow bay for the night. The night passed without incident, at least until Chaff came on watch just as dawn was breaking. He spied a sail, glowing warmly in the light of the rising sun, bearing down on them from then northwest. He raised the alarm, and the party and crew rushed on deck to prepare for what may come ...

TOTAL XP
4080

GAINS
1 six foot silver pole

KILLS
2 Neanderthal-ish Lizardman (Captured)
H'sslik the Lizard Wizard from Beyond Time (Captured)

LOSSES
None

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