The gang started cleaning the Under Nomads water source, found a more
permanent home for the Golmen with the Scrappers.
They returned to the surface world and claimed the reward for the
factory job, got scolded for not killing the Golmen, but were let off
the hook on condition they never resurfaced.
Returning to the university looking for help translating the book
written in Infernal, Cora and Arnauld (accompanied somewhat
unhelpfully by the unworldly dwarves and a more helpful tree), got the
runaround from the department heads, including:
- Prof Livianus, head of history (the Dwarfiest Eladrin we’d ever seen!)
- Prof Galacius, university head
- Prof Halvana, head of natural sciences
Eventually they gained an hearing to attempt to gain access to the
archives, with the three professors and one new addition, Francois.
Arnauld, in typically eloquent fashion, managed to talk the professors
into granting access, at which point the professors examined the book,
with varying opinions as to its nature, including an encoded text and
writings in an outer planar language.
However, access to the archives was suddenly and almost violently
denied by the Inquisitor (of indeterminate sex and race, hidden in a
suit of armor with no apparent personality, with a magical mask
matching lip movement and an asexual voice).
Francois seemed particularly outraged at Greyhawk Investigations being
denied access to knowledge, and nodded assent when Eigil asked him to
meet the group later that night.
Later, at the Coal Heap, Francois showed up, and complained at length
about the Inquisition. Later, surprisingly, the rest of the professors
joined him, and Livianus gave back the book.
Becoming more secretive, the professors asked Francois to leave, and
offered to give over more information if the group was ok with their
memories being wiped afterwards.
Information the group gained, but then forgot:
- the book is in Old Infernal
- just by reading, a person can become susceptible to control by the book
- the book can’t really be translated, the text is imbued with the
intent of the creator, which doesn’t translate
- the Inquisition cannot stop what’s coming
All that remained was a name, Howard Carter, a famous author of pulp
adventure novels, and an item to give him, a pipe.
Turning up at Carter’s door, they were greeted by Burroughs,
apparently his dwarf Golman sidekick, and were led to Carter.
Carter had a very strong reaction to being shown the text, and
immediately thought of someone who could help with the translation.
We caught a train from Vectis Grand Central to an archaeological dig
in an ancient, buried city unearthed by the Rift, to visit a “sage” of
Carter’s acquaintance, Hordair.
On arriving, we switched to a horse and cart and made the rest of the
trip to the dig. Before entering, Carter cautioned us: If anyone asks
I technically own Burroughs (Golmen not being permitted to be free).
The ruined city is carved deep into the living granite, and is
totallly dark. Horned figures are engraved on the walls, in disturbing
poses, culminating in a scene with a familiar figure seated on a
throne before a blasted landscape, kneeling at his feet is Alexandra,
current queen of Hell.
We know Alexandra killed her father, Asmodeus, so these carvings and
the city are incredibly old.
Carter intoned: Oh wise sage, please grant us access to your wisdom.
An old man in a carving opened his eyes, cursed Carter out, but seemed
amiable and asked to look at the text.
Hordair explained that in order to understand the text, we would have
to experience it. Cora and Eigil volunteered, Draecena holding the
text (a tree won’t get tired standing in one position for hours),
while Carter showed Argol and Arnauld the rest of the ruins.
Cora and Eigil saw a place of black rock, hearing millions of
creatures outside, man screams.
Overriding all else, a feeling of loss, abandonment.
More images, blue, insectlike imps, lightning, shadows, a woman of
The ravings of an angry devil.
Runes in the language of the gods.
Devils awaiting figures cloaked in all black.
Impressions of a black ice blade killing.
Hordair stopped here, clearly scared, demanding a price for completing
the learning process and revealing the nature of the coming doom: his
Stepping aside, Cora and Eigil grilled Carter on Hordair’s nature -
Carter thought he was a construct or a spirit, but clearly he is
unspeakably ancient and powerful, to survive imprisonment like this.
Regardless, the coming doom seemed more threatening than Hordair, so
they agreed, and began following the instructions for freeing him.
The group descended deep into the ruins, and found the doors Hordair
spoke of, 30 feet wide, locks filled with flame, and magical, 200lb
The fiendish locks meant both keys had to be turned at once, but using
one key (found embedded in the nearby rock and freed by Burroughs’
jackhammer hand) to turn the other (burning hot) key in its lock and
simultaneously jamming the mechanism to stop it slamming, the dwarves
(with some assistance, and by amplifying their strength with the
ancient dwarf ritual of fistbumping), managed to get the locks working
in unison, opening into a vast room lined with cages, chains running
into each one.
One of the chains began to rustle.