|Session 11: Diaries of the Dead|
|Real World Date||October 11th, 2014|
|Game Date||March 26 - April 4, Year 0|
|Location||a boat, Mist Hive|
|NPCs||Mist Hive denizens|
Session 10a: Forging Friendships?
Session 12: Magical Malpractice
The Party searches for clues about the nature of the anomaly in central Sangor. The ant-like people of Mist Hive point them in the right direction, but not before Emilie is revealed to have been undead this whole time.
The journey to Sangor passes with perhaps more action than desired. Upon reaching their destination, The Party meets a hospitable race of ant-like hominids that offer them room and board, as well as means of travel. When a beast of burden wounds Emilie, the party discovers from her slow-bleeding gash that she is actually undead. In the safety of their room, she summarizes how this came to pass, and expresses her fears that the others will not wish to travel with her anymore. Fortunately, the heroes show her kindness and understanding - at least as much as they can. That's why they're the heroes! Then in the middle of the vast desert, creepy sand people attack the party out of no where.
Day 2: People are showing around more poorly drawn posters of The Party, but no one gives them any trouble because the likenesses are so far off.
Day 3: A storm comes in. Namfoodle and Isaac are sickened and cannot do anything useful. The others watch the dolphins that play in the churning water.
Day 4: Kal and Vic are dining when they witness a kitchen fire start. Vic casts Create Water to quench the flames. A cook believes that the ship has sprung a leak, and flees the area. But the fire is defeated! And the grateful staff offers to cook whatever the heroes want for dinner. Vic chooses steak and eggs. Kal requests that it be served as dessert. The passengers on the ship are confused and unhappy that evening. Isaac finishes the shield for Emilie with her modest help. She gains a Heavy Wooden Shield of Blinding, emblazoned by the representation of a phoenix.
Day 5: The day passes without event, but that night Namfoodle wakes to find a shadow rummaging through the party’s belongings. He casts Ghost Sound to scare the would-be robber off. The robber panics and slams into the door, knocking himself unconscious. Emilie pretends to have woken up, and fetches the first mate while Namfoodle puts the gnomish robber in handcuffs. The disgruntled half-orc first mate comes to the party’s cabin and asks if Namfoodle and the robber are brothers. Namfoodle and Emilie call him racist. He takes the gnome away after Namfoodle takes his manacles back. Emilie compliments his creativity. Namfoodle says he was having fun because he doesn’t like gnomes. Emilie calls him racist, then bids him goodnight.
Day 6: The ship holds an international food festival that Kal and Isaac enjoy without being poisoned.
Day 7: There is an even larger storm. Vic and Emilie are the only ones unaffected. Emilie engages Vic in existentialist philosophy. They quickly drift off-topic.
Day 8: Sangor comes into view. The party can see a conical mountain on the horizon, and what might be a settlement of some sort at its base. As they get closer to the coast, the Tome of Time becomes warm in Isaac's bag. He can’t understand what this means, and Namfoodle offers to attempt to decipher it. This time, the magic does not overwhelm him. He is able to pick out a phrase here and there, but can’t make out any coherent ideas. It seems incomplete.
At last, the ship docks. Ant-like humanoids are trying to control an unruly crowd that is trying very hard to get onto the ship as the passengers disembark. Isaac approaches a guard to ask what is going on, but only gets evasive answers claiming that these desperate emigrants are just going on vacation because it’s that time of year. Namfoodle chastises Isaac for even trying to get useful information out of these people.
The mountainous structure reveals itself to be a giant literal anthill. Small adobe homes surround the base, but there are no clear places for visitors to stay. The party journeys toward the anthill in hopes of learning more about this region.
Isaac approaches a villager and asks how the party can find accommodations. He says the party can stay in the hive. Emilie shows hesitation. The ant assures her that the hive is safe and well-built. He explains that many people are leaving due to “visions that come from the west.” Emilie notes that the closest red circle on the anomaly map is due west of their location, but quite far away. He leads the party into the anthill, called “Mist Hive,” and shows them to a small room deep in the tunnels. He tells the adventurers that they do not need to give him pay, but perhaps they can "help" him later. There are translation difficulties occasionally. The ants' native tongue is a dialect of Ignan, and their Common lacks polish. However, they are able to be conversational, and their grasp of Common is way better than the party’s grasp of Ignan.
The ant leaves the guests to settle into their room. Emilie is very uncomfortable, and reminds the rest of the party what regular ants do to ants from other colonies. She fears that the "help" that the ants might request of them might take the form of becoming food for their queen. Also, she is concerned that such trickery may be the cause of the evacuation the party saw at the port. Isaac and Namfoodle attempt to dissuade Emilie's fears, telling her that the port would not have been built so close to hostile creatures, and that the calmly patrolled mob outside shows that the ants were not chasing anyone. Emilie is still wary, but agrees that the party is safe for the moment. Namfoodle calls her racist. She claims that it's not racist if it keeps you alive. Okay, Emilie.
Isaac, Vic, and Kal explore the hive in search of information, while the others stay in the room. Tahlarien is still feeling queasy, so she lays down to rest. Namfoodle gets back to work on the spellbook. Emilie journals, unwilling to risk leaving the closest thing to a secure place they have.
The ants seem to be mildly entranced by Vic’s awesome suit, as they should. Isaac learns that the closest hive, Song Hive, is ten days' travel through the desert, or two if riding “dogs.” He decides that Song Hive is a good destination, since it is in the direction of the red circle. Tunnels connecting the hives have been collapsed to prevent the spread of mysterious “visions,” so the party will have to cross on the hot surface.
Nam uses an ant’s laments for his ailing family as evidence to convince Emilie that they are people. At last, Emilie agrees to join everyone (sans Tahlarien) in seeing the dogs. Emilie thinks the dogs are probably large crabs, or something else with a hard outer shell. Namfoodle calls her racist.
A guard invites them to the Queen’s feast. Isaac declines, and asks to see the dogs. The guard says “Not now. Later. Right now is the Queen’s feast.” Emilie gives the others meaningful glances. The party ignores Emilie, but still chooses to forgo the feast, and they attempt to find the dogs by themselves. At the western entrance to the city limits, above-ground, the party finds a riding arena and long line of stables. An older-looking ant says we can rent the dogs indefinitely for 50 gold, and directs us toward a stable door.
The dogs turn out to be horse-sized lizards with long necks. Isaac asks if he may pet them. "You can try!" says the caretaker. This response deters Isaac, but Namfoodle is game to give it a shot. The "dog" reacts affectionately to Nam, who invites Emilie to greet it to get over her fear. She reluctantly agrees, concluding that she'll have to be pretty cuddly with the animals if the party is to ride them.
However, as Emilie approaches the dog, it smells something it doesn't like and viciously bites deep into her outstretched forearm, puncturing her armor and striking bone. Emilie reacts more in surprise than in pain. She leaps back as soon as the caretaker convinces the dog to release its grip. Isaac offers to check the wound, but Emilie resists, saying that she's fine, even though there's no way she could be. Isaac sees that blood is slowly oozing out of her wound, rather than flowing freely. Vic offers to heal her, but she shoves him off in a panic. Isaac has figured something out about Emilie, and Namfoodle's divination spell confirms it - Emilie is undead.
Emilie is very shaken by the whole scene and becomes passive and reticent. The caretaker apologizes profusely, and invites the party to partake in the Queen's feast. Emilie agrees, saying that the bite doesn't bother her. In favor of avoiding any additional commotion, Isaac concedes, on the condition that they discuss Emilie's "quirk" shortly. The feast is much less sinister than Emilie has feared. A line of ants and guests just take turns feeding the queen food from their hands. After participating in their ceremony, the party is gratefully invited by the ants to return to their room and make themselves comfortable. Throughout all of this, Namfoodle pesters Emilie with unending tactless questions, all of which she does her best to ignore.
Back in their room, Emilie agrees to answer any and all questions. Isaac leads the discussion, and Nam interjects occasionally. It comes to light that Emilie was sentenced to death by the Enderland government for an act of treason that her father committed, but one that she herself was only linked to in error. As part of a literal life insurance policy that had been modified beforehand by Emilie's father, Emilie was resurrected by Southpaw. However, due to a shortage of the material component needed for the spell (a LOT of diamonds), Emilie was only partially raised, and now her intact soul roams the world, using her own dead body as a vehicle. Emilie is understandably keen on hiding these truths from all but her most trusted acquaintances, and she expresses gratitude for the empathy and relative acceptance of her companions, who all agree to allow her to continue adventuring with them. She seems hugely relieved to get all of this information off of her chest. Isaac calls off the questioning session, to Namfoodle's frustration, and says that he will be interested to learn more when Emilie is ready. She thanks Isaac for his compassion.
As the tension clears and the party settles down for the night, Emilie volunteers to keep watch each night for the rest of the foreseeable future, since she has no choice but to be eternally awake anyway, and has been this whole time. "You have no idea how boring and exhausting it is to pretend to be asleep for eight hours straight." The party accepts her offer.
In the morning, the heroes rent dogs and leave the city. Tahlarien is still feeling sick or something, so the party decides they'll check on her when they come back to return the dogs. Almost immediately after setting out, ghosts from the party’s past manifest solely to those who will recognize them, causing each character considerable guilt and distress. Isaac’s pack begins to warm as the Tome of Time reacts to this images. The visions periodically fade away and come back, without really changing their content. This continues all day long, until the sun goes down and the party stops to make camp. Emilie keeps watch through the still night.
Early the following day, the dogs reach deep sand dunes, and they proceed to slide on their bellies through the sand at remarkable speed. As the wind passes over the rolling hills, an eerie humming can be heard that makes clear how Song Hive received its name.
All of a sudden, two figures jut out of the sand, spooking the dogs, who snap their harnesses and slither away. The two strangers are humanoid but have sand-papery skin. They just stand there, unarmed. Isaac attempts to hail them. Sand slithers down their arms from their bodies and materializes as twin daggers in their hands. They attack.
- Tahlarien's player was not present, which is why Tahla suddenly became such a weenie.
- Emilie's player was very excited to finally have Emilie's biggest secret become publicly known! This discovery rides on a lengthy meta-game speculation project led by Isaac's player.
- It's true -Isaac's Player