Runequest - Adventures in Prax

Nov 29
Episode 4: Escaping Tikkillittikkarri

Note: This episode was inspired by Nick Fortune's excellent The Tale of the Normal Newts, which can be found in the Background section.

As the three bondsmen pondered their next move, the door to the tavern opened to reveal a familiar face. Rile, his clothes and hair caked with dust from the storm outside, stumbled in and made his way over to where his comrades sat. He too had become separated from the duke’s retinue, and had stumbled across the city in the gorge. Just as in the case of the others, dragonewts guarding the gate had beckoned him enter, and a crested dragonewt then led him to the nearest tavern, where his friends sat trying to decide what to do.

After filling Rile in on their predicament, they tried questioning the locals in the tavern once again, but they clearly had no time for these strangers, and were of no further help, deliberately turning their backs on them and their questions. Rile also felt a terrible loneliness here, as though something very important had been taken from him, but could not immediately determine the reason for this disturbing phenomenon.

After a long discussion they decided that the two most likely scenarios were that either they had been transported back in time (and across a great distance) to the time of the Empire of the Wyrm’s Friends, or that the city had somehow been pulled forward to their current time and place. They would later discover both to be wrong, but they rightly figured that the best way to leave was to seek out someone in authority .

It was then that they noticed the huge tower standing in the centre of the city. How they had not noticed it up until now was quite baffling, as it dominated the entire city, rising hundreds of feet up into the air. It was shaped in the form of a huge dragon, and spiralling around it was what appeared to be a road, winding its way to the very top.

They set off toward it, but were quickly lost in the maze of streets that twisted and turned about the city. Roads that they thought would lead them to their destination would veer off in a completely different direction, and attempts to backtrack would often meet with confusion, with paths seeming to change or disappear behind them. During this time Karnak was separated from them, lost amidst the maze of backstreets, and they would not see him again during their time here.

As night approached the three remaining bondsmen decided to rest up for the day, the exertions of their time in the storm beginning to take its toll. They found a small house which was empty except for the small crested dragonewt that danced and weaved in one corner, seemingly oblivious to the presence. As these creatures had shown them nothing but hospitality, they chose to bed down here for the night.

They were awoken the next morning by a loud boom from somewhere out in the street. Gathering their gear together, they headed out and saw smoke billowing from a small shop across the street. As they watched, a small stout figure with a large beard came staggering out, coughing and spluttering, his face slightly blackened. Rushing over to help, they found themselves confronted by the rare sight of a Mostali, who had obviously been working on a contraption of one sort or another. Behind him was his store, a treasure trove of mechanical gadgets that gave out a constant stream of ticks, tocks, and hisses.

After making sure he wasn’t hurt, they helped him clear up a little of the mess. Rhodrin in particular was very excited at meeting a Mostali here, as he had spent many hours in study of this ancient race, and was considered one of the most knowledgeable men in northern Sartar on the subject. Likewise the Mostali, who’s named turned out to be Clayweaver, was delighted to find a human with such a broad knowledge of his people, and they sat and talked for some considerable time as Rhodrin tried to explain their predicament. Strangely, the Mostali seemed to have no real memory of his time in the city – he knew he traded with its occupants on a daily basis, he knew the goal of the people of the city, but he had no recollection of how long he’d been there or where he had come from before he arrived here. While he also found Rhodrin’s story very far fetched, he was nonetheless fascinated by it, and before they left he gifted Rhodrin with two items from the store, a small timepiece for which he had no need, and a tubular device that would “illuminate without light”, as he described it.

Leaving the Mostali, they eventually arrived at the central tower, and began the long climb up its winding road. The higher they climbed, the more spectacular the view became, and as the storm had cleared up some time during the night they could see beyond the city walls, where a long silvery road wound its way off into the distance. The city was much larger than they had first realised, and was filled with architectural wonders such as ornamental gardens and intricate buildings. It was only then that Rile discovered the reason for his terrible feeling of loss – there was no moon. Where his goddess should be was just empty sky.

The top of the tower was shaped like a dragon’s head, and around its neck was a ruff that formed a platform of sorts. As the three men arrived at the top, they were confronted by two dozen dragonewts conversing in their own tongue. Beyond these was a narrow path that led out to the dragon’s outstretched hands, and sitting on the hands was a large bell. The dragon appeared to be staring straight at the bell, as though it was an object of utmost beauty, worthy of great contemplation.

As they approached the path, two large beaked dragonewts stepped in front of them, blocking their way. “I’m sorry”, the first said, “you can’t go up there. Ringing that bell would spell the end of the world, and we wouldn’t want the world to end before its time now would we.” Still unaware of the nature of this strange place, the three men did not argue, and instead decided to attempt to retrace their steps back to the main gate of the city.

After another long trip back down the tower, they were surprised to spot a Sun Dome templar walking across the plaza. Unlike the other occupants of the city, this one did not appear to be wearing clothes of a bygone age, and instead seemed to in a hurry to get somewhere. As they hailed him however, he stopped, then quickly approached them, a combination of surprise and relief on his face.

Surik Brighthelm claimed to have been in the city for around five years, but upon further questioning they discovered that he had entered the city in the year 1535 ST, over eighty years previously. However, he was aged no more than thirty five years old, so something was very wrong with time in this place. They then had the idea of asking if he had kept any sort of journal when he arrived, and while Surik couldn’t remember doing so he led them to the house he occupied to see if clues could be gathered. Just like the mostali they had met earlier, Surik’s memories of his time in the city seemed to be fading, although they were not yet completely gone.

By good fortune Surik had indeed kept a record of his findings when he first arrived, and in them he had written of his desire to ring the bell at the top of the tower in order to end the dream. At this point the bondsmen realised that the entire city was the product of a dragon’s dream, and everything began to make sense. They resolved to ring the bell as Surik had suggested, certain that this was likely the only way to escape this strange place.

Back at the top of the tower, only a handful of dragonewts remained. Before they arrived the bondsmen prepared themselves for a fight, certain that the dragonewts would try to prevent them from ringing the bell, which of course turned out to be true. It was at this point that they noticed that Surik had become almost ethereal this close to the head of the dragon, having spent too long within the dream environment, and so would be of no help in the ensuing melee.

Once again two beaked dragonewts blocked their path, but this time Strum drew his axe and severely wounded the first. Rhodrin attempted to duck past the other, but was way too slow and found himself facing an enraged dragonewt warrior. Rile was more skilled in these ways though, and after tumbling smoothly past a third warrior he sprinted for the path. A tailed priest began summoning powerful draconic magic, but Rhodrin managed to counterspell it before it could take effect. His attention distracted, he was not quick enough to avoid the huge klanth thrust towards him, and took a vicious wound to the gut, the pain almost overwhelming. Strum’s axe swung again, and the tailed priest fell to the ground, shrieking in pain at the terrible wound in its leg. Meanwhile Rile reached the path and dashed across, at one point stumbling and almost falling to certain death. Incredibly he managed to catch himself just in time, and with a smooth leap made it to the bell.

Fortune indeed favoured the bondsmen that day, for one of the beaked dragonewts facing the others had almost put out its own eye with its klanth, before dropping the fearsome weapon in pain. Before they could deal with the last one, Rile rang the bell and everything disappeared.

Rile found himself standing alone, in front of the most terrifying creature he had ever seen, a dragon so vast he could scarcely conceive it. The dragon spoke. “Little human, you dare to awaken me from my slumber. I admire your courage, and so shall answer three questions truthfully. However, for your impertinence you must be punished and so after I answer your questions I will devour you. Be swift with your questions, for already I lose patience.”

Rile’s first question, “How can I prevent you from devouring me?” , was of little help, as the dragon simply replied “Do not awaken a sleeping dragon” However, his next question was far more effective. “How can I put you back to sleep?”

At this the dragon looked perplexed, as it began to realise that it was actually still asleep and had not yet woken up as it first thought. As it did so, it began to fade from Rile’s view, and he shortly found himself lying face up in the sands of Prax, the hot sun beating down on him. Next to him lay his companions, along with Surik who had also been freed from the dream. In the distance he could hear the sounds of people calling for them, and recognised the voices of the duke’s nomad riders.

Upon questioning by the duke they eventually told him of the city, but while an exploratory party was put together, no trace of it was found. Eventually the duke gave up, and they left this strange place and headed for the final oasis in their journey, that of Horn Gate. Beyond Horn Gate lay the duke's domain, and the final destination of their long journey, his home.

gamesmeister • Campaign SessionsPermalink

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