Thousand Dying Suns

Thorne's Log 1 - Recklessness and Variable Density
You are my density

fumbling, microphone whooshing noise

Uhhm, Star-date whatever the fuck, Thorne’s log number 1

This is my Kindlenomicon, it’s a fine thing, really. It probably needs a better name than that? Maybe not.

A certain healthy recklessness has always seen us through through difficult moments. Although, it must be said, we try not to harm our friends with our choices. They might tell you otherwise. There’s really two ways of looking at this recklessness. On the one hand, our choices move us forward, and frequently in directions that the others might not have chosen. We can’t or wont apologize for that. We would never stop apologizing, and for what? Forward momentum is all, the multiverse calls to us, it’s secret song guides us toward destiny or oblivion. On the other hand, we sometimes are impetuous in the moment and make choices that inadvertently harm our friends. For that, we are sorry.

We teleported onto Crucifix station because we’d just learned how and new toys! But we hadn’t quite gotten the hang of the magic and we drug Olis along with us. Lucky we didn’t explode him, or us, innit? Then there were metal space bugs coming out of Gigerian hive resin walls trying to murder us. Thankfully Carter and the others whooshed in with the venture and skidded it right in the middle of the hanger. Crazy battle ensued. Up was down, dog was cat, magic was muscles. Nothing worked right, very :( Very confusing. We pushed off the station wrong and ended up spinning through the void. That could have been the end without Teleport. This time we got it off right. So we bamf’d back onto the Venture and helped get rid of a few of the bugs. Then everyone was aboard and off into space again.

Something technical was intuited or scanned or both? Arden and Carter and Khiron, some combination thereof, sorted out that the more we riled up the bugs, the more energy they used. They have a finite amount, so if we keep strafing them, eventually they’ll run out and we can just pop them. So we did that for a tic with the ship and the rail gun. It worked pretty well. Kind of boring even, which is the hallmark of having the upper hand in a space battle type situation.

So, we made a drone and sent it into the ship’s bum. Things were discovered! Not sure what really, but we went inside and crawled forward until we got into the engine room. There was a big “bulb.” The bulb was wonky with density. It’s density kept changing, but not it’s mass. Pretty exciting stuff really. There was talk of prizing this device open, which we strongly argued against because there were loads of cables running from it everywhere, which says to us “POWER”. If a thing with variable density is or can power the entire ship, prying it open might equal EXPLOSION or DEATH. We followed one cable to a hull panel and pried it open. Inside were bits covered in runes like the ones on the “key”.

Then we opted to follow the biggest “trunk” of cables which ran forward up the middle of the ship, straight into bug country. We followed it and soon found the weird resin stuff that the bugs make. They consume and reform the ship walls (bulkheads?) into shapes that appear to help with heat dissipation and ease of traversal, for them. We ended up having to wormhole inside one of their tunnels because it completely blocked the way forward. Interestingly, the material of the cables wasn’t harmed by the bugs at all, so either they can’t or won’t re-purpose it into their resin.

Photo references of the bulb, cables and bug walls contained

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On military vessels, and the lack of bay windows

Automatons with business suits clinging black boxes,
Sequestering the blueprints of daily life
Contented, free of care, they rejoice in morning ritual
As they file like drone ant colonies to their office in the sky

So there we were, peering at the hangar bay of Crucible through all of the sensor suites we had at our disposal, when two startling things happened; first Thorne and Olis teleported (!) from the bridge to the hangar bay of the derelict. Then out broiled a hoard of… Space bugs.

I kid you not.

Giant mutant radioactive acid spitting space bugs.

I have no idea of they were from the 5th Dimension or the planet Zod, but at this point I couldn’t legitimately counter either assertion.

Regardless. Thorne and Olis found themselves in a bit of zero g bother I began to move the vessel away from the station so we could affect a rescue without putting our vessel at risk, but I then realized there simply wasn’t time. So with a bit of inspired piloting I flew the ship into a space which would have had me cashiered by the Admiralty on general principal if they were about to review the logs. (although the skip in the time log was really odd…)

Thus began a general scrum and montage of punting bugs, watching Thorne drift by, getting Gabriel medical attention from exposure to acid and vacuum followed by me and mostly Khiron patching the hull where necessary.

We then bodged up a drone to explore the aft of the derelict. This showed vast cargo spaces and a dead engineering section (probably because all of the nuclear piles were taken to the surface to warm bath tubs….). Eventually we took the drone too far forward where it was promptly eaten? Disassembled? No idea.

Hours later we played a bit of railgun tag with the bug swarm trying to thin the herd of space bugs.

All of this then begs the question; what next? We could probably clear the vessel of bugs. We would then have to figure out if it is possible to get the vessel up and running again (which may be possible due to the bugs hiding some sort of power source in the toroid). We would then have to find some way to evacuate the population of the planet below, or at least provide the medieval nutters with the way to get to and fro, provide piloting lessons – once we figure out how the monstrosity works…

I am still in favor of examining the rest of the vessel to see if we can recover any salvage, but I believe if the Hawkwood clan want to explore the galaxy they’ll need a commercial freighter instead of this thing.

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Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!
Olis recordings, fighting space bugs

So we are over at Crucifix when giant bugs swarm us. And by us, I mean just Thorne and me. They are the size of large dogs and they do not like us. As they come at us, I try kicking them but something weird happens. It’s like… I’m not kicking them with my muscles. It’s like I have to WILL my legs to kick them. It’s really tiring to think that hard. So I managed to kick two of them but they do not splatter. Unfortunate. I manage to dodge their attacks but there are so many of them. It’s not looking good.

Then suddenly the Venture is there. I thought they were going to crash into us. Carter sure knows how to pilot the ship, or is it the Ehi Eye who is doing the piloting? I jump onto the hull of the Venture, just like the bugs are doing. A hatch opens and there is Gabriel, Khiron and Arden. That’s when I notice another type of bug on the station. These bugs are much larger than the swarming bugs. They are like twice the size of a sturdy ox and shaped kind of like a river snail. They also kind of glow and the next thing I know, I hear screaming from the comm as Gabriel is hit by something that the cone bug spit out. His suit is melting and Khiron is scrambling to tape him up. I don’t see Carter but I hear him screaming to get the bugs off of his ship. Apparently Thorne has made it to where Carter is so he’s safe. I lost track of him when he went hurtling off the station. Anyway, I hop over and kick more bugs while the Venture starts to pull away.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, the bugs can swim through space. How? Don’t ask me. My comrades told me there was nothing in space, which is why we wear these ridiculous outfits. So how can bugs swim through nothing? Hmm… I guess Venture does sail through space so maybe space isn’t nothing. I remember something about magic and the ether. Maybe space is ether? Bah! Too much thinking, not enough action.

We get away from the bugs and Carter gets to fire his railgun. There is much glee. Once we are safe, there is a long, boring discussion about what to do next. I mean, we either go to the other place in space, or we clear out Crucifix of the bug problem. There is much talk about having all the people on Damaina come onto Crucifix so they can sail away from the apocalypse. They tell me Crucifix is actually a huge ship but centuries old. But maybe it can’t sail anymore. Well, then why are we bothering with it? Thorne insists we need to save the people on Damaina. Those people have lived on the planet for many centuries. They didn’t even know about this prophesy. It clearly hasn’t happened yet and who knows if it will actually happen. I stopped listening after awhile and took a nap.

When I awoke, Carter and Khiron had made a small robot so they could scout Crucifix. The bugs are on the side of Crucifix where the sun shines. So we go send in the scout from the dark side. Inside, It‘s all metal hallways. Carter thinks it looks bad. The “engine” is worthless, confirming that it can’t sail. Eventually, the scout robot gets eaten by bugs.

We should stop worrying about this derelict ship and go to the other place in space.
Plasma_Bug.jpg

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Khiron's Chronicles
Thorne wants windows!

Khiron’s Chronicles: Everything went to Hell in a Handbasket
So much has happened since I last sat down to write I barely know where to start, at the beginning I guess. We, Mr. Dwight and I, the newcomers Olis, Thorne, Marcell and Gabriel, travelled up the Tennessee, recovered the materials we needed to create the Gate and were on our way back to Gateway City when the unexpected happened. We had recovered a blue wedge from agents sent by Cavile. I am not certain how but something Thorne, it is always Thorne, caused us to be transported to a spaceship in orbit around the 8th planet, Uranus. We managed to jump the ship back to Earth orbit but in overcoming the demon who had taken it over somehow triggered the ship’s Skip Drive to activate again. Being improperly calibrated the thing jumped to another universe far removed from my own or to the far future, or past, I am not certain which.
In this new Universe Man had made the jump to the stars but had become complacent and indolent. They lost the knowledge of the technology they had made and started treating it as religious icons with the resultant inevitable effects. Ignorance, stupidity, confusion, idolatry, everything those of us in New Manhattan had sought to avoid. Somewhere along the line Marcell became an alternate version of himself named Arden, Mr. Dwight managed to avoid the transfer to a ship called the Venture and Olis lost his spear and magic helmet and starting kicking people. Oh, and we picked up a new companion, Carter, who was once female but isn’t now, or it was his sister and her ship or something, and he can walk through walls. Between that and Thorne’s constant gender switching and histrionics I sort of lost track of most things in any regards for a while. There was a lot of teleporting, random teleporting, three maybe four times, and Universe hopping, or time switching or whatever, lost track, do not care anymore.
Anyway the “new” “Universe” we found ourselves was in orbit around a planet named Daneana or something, it was such a miserable pit that the locals actually bathed in nuclear radiation of the “Star Hearths” AKA barely controlled nuclear fission piles of Uranium and Plutonium, as Holy Light to cleanse themselves. They used these things to power 3-D printers as well as warm their bath water and wondered why they were mutating, going sterile and dying off. Oh, and they had enslaved sentient trees called the “Woose” and sought to exterminate beastmen who they called the Couj. Oh, and there was lots of sex, they liked having sex, except with Thorne, which was amusing. And murder, of teenage girls, about inappropriate child rearing practices and Olis, and orphans and creepy stuff involving candy.
I sort of just let most of this stuff slide off until I found the warm shower locked inside the High Priestess’s painting, just before the zombie hordes attacked and we escaped using the mostly broken shuttlecraft with a demonic curse on it. This all sounds nuts, because it is. Nothing makes sense anymore from the football shaped transport ship that Carter hates to the genetically doomed Hawkwoods who believe themselves the surviving royal family of the Phoenix Empire of Man and their sacred pornographic woodcuts, while we are the Offworlders who will lead them to Ascension! Really, I cannot make shit like this up.
We finally find a clue, something involving a “Woodhenge” and magical brouhaha that seems mostly delusional chemical inspired nonsense but we made it off the planet and back to the Venture, hot meals, hot showers, decent food and beds not filled with lice. We has some bee line to a Portal/Gate something 3 AY out and have the key for it, I think, when we get there but along the way we need to stop at a some ship in orbit at the L-1 point of the planet and the sun because Olis or the new Marcell, err Arden, sure, what-the-ever, says that dead people wanted to get the Key we have, a cylinder with Runes! RUNES! TM! to Crucifix Station, or something, or some such for reasons. REASONS! He travels in time, and dimensions, which all suck and were destroyed so he ought to know! Yes! Do that! So we pilot a course near it to check it out before headed out to the way off the elliptical Portal/Gate 3 AU out.
While Carter and I and trying to rig a way to get over to the rather derelict looking Crucifix Station, which, it turns out is a torus with a central spine tidally locked so that one side always faces the sun, Thorne teleports him/her/zer/they/I-do-not-care-what-the-f***-pronoun-it-is-using-anymore self and Olis over to the ruined docking bay on the station itself. Did I mention the station is miles long and millions of times our volume in size? Opps.
Anyway… as soon as they do so bugs, lots of bugs, pill bugs with twelve legs and nuclear powered heinies, hereafter known as “space-bugs” come swarming out of the darned thing. The “space-bugs” try and hump Olis’ legs… and either mate with Gabriel or try to clean his spacesuit with ionic acid goo, not sure which, while somehow Carter, who was trying to pull the Venture, away only managed to nearly instantaneously dock with the station instead. Opps?
Bugs, here, bugs there, bugs everywhere. Carter and I manage to push the things off the ship while Olis avoids mating and I duct tape Gabriel up so he doesn’t die from the ionic bug sperm. Carter manages to order the Venture out to a safe distance and somewhere somehow Thorne managed to get insert-pronoun-of-choice-self back to the ship while complaining about many, many things.
At this point some wisdom is used and we use the three dimensional printers on the ship and my skills to make a reconnaissance drone to explore Crucifix Station. We discovered that the ship was centuries old, or older, it had been retrofitted eons ago by people who did not know how it worked to work using the Star Hearth technology that the locals used to stay warm and ruin their sperm, which had been stripped from it along with nearly anything else useful (to build what the locals called their society) that the ship was a hulk in space, would never move again, and was missing nearly all its cargo pods, supplies and materials and, oh, yes, somewhere along the line became a home for “space-bugs.”
I tried to convince my companions to leave the darned thing alone and that we should go off to the Portal/Gate whatever but they decided that genocide against the “space-bugs” was not morally repugnant because “CHOGMA” and “space-bugs!” made sense somehow. I have tried to dissuade them of their folly and that we should leave the nice explodie space-bugs to the derelict ruin of a spaceship and live and let live but no… Carter seems to delight in using his ship’s rail gun, the science truck’s only real weapon to kill “space-bugs” while Thorne is somehow convinced this is the ship that will save the people of what-the-fuck ever. I have tried to reason with them but reason has failed. I will just go an make myself a sandwich. Seesh. “SPACE-BUGS!” Oh, and Thorne REALLY, REALLY want windows on spacecraft. Really, it’s a thing!

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Of course it has facehuggers
at least we're off the damned planet

First and foremost, we got off of the damnedable planet! Well, other things happened first which I should cover.

While we are back on planet Khiron and Thorne showed a rare burst of teamwork, codging together a useful aluminum hat that allowed Thorne to see the magical signature of the Carver (you know, the mage responsible for all of the wood carvings and other productive things, as opposed to the shite who thought a fuel bunker of zombies would be a useful bit). Given this knowledge Thorne was able to replicate the ‘magical biometrics’ of the Carver to crack the Kindlenomicon. This revealed a vast tome of ‘spells’ and other instructions on how to hack reality as far as I can tell. None of this still makes any sense. I still have yet to find any correlation in genetics or electromagnetics that explains this. This simply tells be I do not have the technology to measure whatever it is they are doing. Perhaps an interaction between gravometics and the weak force…..

I digress.

More importantly, the kindlenomicon had files warning about ‘The Advesary’ warning any mage who could access the information to leave the planet as soon as possible before attracting the attention of ‘The Adversary’. This sounds like the ‘noplace’ entities described by the other they encountered during Skip Drive Transition. Apparently The Adversary is a pseudonym as well.

Lovely.

Next we opened the Thumb-drive which contained the spells “Find the Gate” and “Open The Way”. I’ll have Venture analyze the underlying parameters of these spells now that we are back onboard. Perhaps she’ll understand how to utilize them so we won’t be reliant on Thorne and stonehenges to use these devices.

Which reminds me, we built a wooden Henge based on ‘Find The Way’ which allowed Thorne to provide the three-dimensional coordinates of the Star Gate in orbit.

After all of this removing the ward from the shuttle was easy (apparently).

So the group and some representatives of Hawkwoods (all 4 of them. I really need to write down their names) flew back to the lovely converted science frigate. I’ve been working with the Operations Subroutines to give me and the rest of the party access as appropriate (Olis seems solid, (for example) but I really don’t want him to have command authority over the rail gun – today anyway).

We decided to investigate the Crucifix vessel first (not a bad idea, given the warnings about the Adversary – we really may need to come up with a way to perform a general planetary evacuation (population 10k or so), and some way to escort the population away from here!). I started to maneuver the vessel into a synchronized position so we could attach emergency cables and a gantry, when apparently Thorne became bored and bloody teleported to the other vessel. Judging from the screams they’ve run into trouble.

It should be a given that I’ve halted docking maneuvers and I’m now training the rest of the group on the use of exo assist suits and mag boots – since, well, firing DPU-tungsten rail gun rounds into the Crucifix probably won’t help given that it is a 10,000-year-old derelict.

<end>

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Zero Gee and Ehi-Eye
Olis recordings, in space

Floating in space is a strange feeling. There is not up or down. Carter calls is Zero Gee. I asked why Gee? He said the Gee stood for Gravity. Then why not call is Zero Gravity? Anyway, at first I did not feel good. But I remembered this old sailor trick, to look beyond what’s near you. Well, that did not work since beyond is nothing and I could taste the bile rising. Then as I looked down at my feet, I thought to myself, my feet are the ground. Then things got better. I tried moving around and it’s hard. You move one part of the body and the rest of the body follows. It does not stay put. You need to move really slow. Or you need to have something to push off of. I’m not even sure how I would fight. We are in the dock area of the station so I can push off of walls to move around. That is neat. You can sail across from floor to ceiling. The problem is when you get to the other side. I almost smashed my head into the ceiling. Thankfully the helmet of the “suit” protected my head. Although, this “suit” is uncomfortable in places. It’s too tight. It feels like I’m not wearing things. It feels too open. It feels vulnerable. According to Thorne, I would blow up without it. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but without the “suit” we cannot be in space. So I wear this ridiculous outfit. Anyway, I’m getting the hang of moving in Zero Gee (Ping! Olis gains two point skill, 0-G Maneuvering).

Right, so we are up in space. We managed to get off the earth in the flying craft. Much repairs were needed, which mainly involved Khiron cursing a lot, but it can now fly into space. So we were able to get to Carter’s ship. Well, he says it’s his ship but who really knows. Thorne was upset that E.L.I.S. seems to not be there anymore. Something about being taken in or becoming part of Ehi-Eye. The ship talks so that must be her name. But I thought she already had a name, Venture. Maybe Carter’s world’s ships have two names?

We could have gone to two places. The location on the map we found, which is further away, or to Crucifix Station. It’s closer so we went to the station. It is huge! The place seems abandoned but Carter asked Ehi-Eye and she said that there is movement on board the station. So there are things hiding in the abandoned station. Carter starts talking about docking the ship or taking the small craft out or putting up a line. At which point Thorne got bored and decided to portal himself over. I felt a sudden pull. I tried resisting but it felt like it was going to tear my arm off so I went with it. And that’s how Thorne and I got over to the station’s empty docking bay.
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Leftenant Bad-Touch and musings on the nature of things
Fortuitous time to level up

We spent a great deal of time hunting down some anomaly man. Must, at some point, get to the bottom of why people turn up like this. Usually more innocuous, but this one’s arrival registered for the others too. Something about a galaxy where they shout at their spaceships and everything is covered in words? He could understand us only when he rubbed our skin? Who designed that?

Imagine if we had to communicate in this way:

“Excuse me, I need to touch your bare flesh in order to have a conversation. Oh, what’s that, you have no idea what I’m saying?” – Rub rub rub – “Oh, now I understand you, why are you screaming ’don’t touch me, don’t touch me?’”

Anyway, Arden’s radio was squelching wrong, we flew the shuttle to a hill in a lightning storm, shit! Carter complained about not being able to see stuff, about everything not being British enough, about climbing the hill in the lightning storm. We did that, found Leftenant bad-touch and then went back to the church. Oh, also fought Bandersnatchers and dodged wild wooz with amazing wormholes. We wasted the better part of a day sorting out his arrival so not much time was left to crack any of the mysteries that will get us going.

Going to try and collect our thoughts on the next phase:

We discovered loads of interesting things hidden within the Basilica. Many of which are unresolved. Here:

1. Thumb-drive of Thesme – contains information, hopefully. No devices we currently have possess the requisite port save the Kindlenomicon, which is still locked to us. We need to either unlock said device or build an interface for another one of our devices.

2. Virus in the woodcarvings – This string of characters starts to try to overwrite any device it is scanned with. Frustratingly, our techno-mates are loathe to let it do that on their precious floating robot whatevers. This “virus” could be the key to many things. Maybe we should let it take over the robot part of our brain? Don’t think it would work though. If it did we might become a demon and kill everyone. Hardly ideal, so for sake of argument, we’ve got more to lose from it.

3. Kindlenomicon(the woodcarver) – A wizard’s e-reader. Filled with useful, forbidden lore, almost certainly. Magically locked and, we believe, keyed to said Wizard’s essence.

4. Summoning circle in the Shuttle (the Necromancer) – Summons a demon into the shuttle, effectively preventing us from leaving the planet. Meddling wizards!

5. Cryo-Coffin – Determine what is being held inside by the warding. See if there are ports for the Thumb-drive?

First thing should be unlocking the Kindlenomicon. It’s the safest(?) of the magical locks taunting us. It’s shrouded in the best sort of eldritch mystery: It’s locked and we had a wiggy dream about a shadow coming from it to molest us, like all the best grimoires do.

One hopes that, once unlocked, it may reveal secrets about the nature of the other magical traps and problems that we find ourselves faced with. To do this, we might somehow extrapolate a magical “profile” from what remnants we have of the magus, largely his artistry and spellcraft evidenced in the woodcarvings. One envisions an image of the caster left in the negative space of his works. Every spell, even seemingly identical, must be somehow unique to the caster, and given that we have multiple examples of his magic, that should be enough to form a simplistic mystical effigy or to imbue another being or item with a false magical “signature” – enough to fool the book. We might even be able to summon his spirit from wherever it’s gone. (Tier 5 ability, Call Otherworldly Spirit)

Along all of these lines, we have been pondering the metaphysical underpinnings of things. It remains our theory that the multiverse is organized in some fashion, that it has a collective structure or will or both. That existence is supposed to function in certain ways and when it doesn’t, beings and the like are utilized to correct these errors. It is our hope to function as an agent for this multiversal will and spend many long years traversing the furthest reaches of causality. We have been attempting to find the voice of this will – the resonance binding all this crazy shit together.

We believe we are hearing it, now. We are hearing something… (Tier 5 ability, Knowing the Unknown)

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Lightning - might sting a bit
We didn't die again.

Hiking in a lightning storm is good for the constitution. And the sinuses. And proving conductivity. And sterility. Among other things.

So there we were, staring at the deck of the improbably named Nox Nox pondering the meaning of ritualistic magical summoning circles when Arden quipped that his radio was squawking with some sort of non-random pattern. Thusly we stopped our debate about the nature magical machinations and Important Things I Can’t Perceive and peered out of our communal gathering hole to examine the horizon. There, off in the distance was a mountain range. As we watched clouds appeared to be gathering with the occasional strobe effect of lightning. The coincidence of a freak storm and notable patterns across the radio spectrum proved too strong a lure.

This is how we found ourselves in the EoMSS (Empire of Man Star Ship) ‘Deathtrap Vomit Bucket’ flying in the midst of a thunderstorm looking for a mountain clearing. Well, “flying” to a certain definition of the word. More like failing to fall apart and crash at the moment as we move in a particular direction generally whilst praying not to die.

About what you would expect riding in a 1000-year-old craft.

Luckily, we survived this harrowing peril by landing in an oddly perfectly shaped clearing near the tree line free of boulders. After a few moments of investigation, we discovered that the clearing was caused by a fungal growth. He mentioned something odd about spirits here, but since none of the rest of us can see his visions we moved on (in spite of my concerns about hiking during a lightning storm).

We managed to survive that as well, but it was a far closer thing than the shuttle ride. Most of the party nearly took lightning strikes. But that wasn’t the climax. Oh no. We achieved the summit whereupon a Heisenbug-Singularity spontaneously formed allowing some sort of exo-fighter craft to slam into the summit. Luckily the pilot had enough time to activate his crash gel, resulting in his survival in spite of the total loss of his craft.

I was able to survive this by an interesting reflex which I wasn’t aware of while the rest of the team dove for cover. There followed yet another oddity; as Gabriel was fishing out Commander Spaceman, four ‘Bandersnatch’s’ (tigers with odd properties) felt the need to attack us.

This resulted in a general melee, with the oddity of fungal spores being exuded by said tigers whenever they were hit (this bit will be important later). Short of the long, I nearly lost my leg to Bandersnatch toxin and we learned a few things about Spaceman Tom, namely that he could understand us although we couldn’t understand him. Eventually Gabriel was able to start up a conversation due to his invaluable gift with tongues. This was how we found out that he was from something called the Runic Empire – apparently a High Technology space faring society that has learned to leverage magic by voice. I Really need to understand how this whole magic thing works.

Thereby we decided sitting on a crater on a mountaintop seemed unproductive so we headed back to the ‘Impending Death By Gravity’ shuttle.

We made it back to the clearing only to discover that the fungus was rapidly trying to eat our un-space worthy spacecraft. It also was commanding Wooz… Woozes? Woozi? Gerwozenshaftenkampf? (whatever you call a herd of animated tree monsters) to smash everything. Thus began an Italian Job of hijinks and panic as we played dodge limb distract while Thorne worm-holed me into the shuttle (how! Damnit, how?!) in order to kick start the damned POS with a hand-crank and a prayer.

Needless to say we survived assault by sentient fungus and fled back to the Basicilla.

We spent the rest of the evening drinking tea from hopefully potable water, talking with whatshisname from the Runic Empire, and trying to come up with a plan around what to do next. Two things; one we have to remove this curse from the non-space worthy EoMSS ‘Ohmygodweregonnadie!’ and what can be done with this usb keystick we found in the statue.

Also! I’m going to ask Khiron if he can cobble together a working computer out of spare shuttle bits to see what happens if we let the ‘virus’ take over a stand-alone system. What’s the worse that could happen? Never mind. Thorne can make wormholes with magic and I can stand in the middle of a shuttle crash. I probably shouldn’t tempt the Demon Murphy with such musings.

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The Vat of Zombies and the Curse of Unintended Consequences
objects not appearing whatsoever may eat your face

Short of the long, we found a secret door within the Canonesses’ chambers because of ‘Magic’. This is becoming a recurring theme; we cast about, looking for clues and then Thorn points and unobservable woojum frolicking in the woodwork that only he can see which “Unlocks The Answer”! I swear I am putting him in the portable fMRI unit in med bay when we get back to the ship with instructions to magic like a madman, until we can discern the fundamental underlying principles such that some of the rest of us will have a chance with all of this. The fact that only Thorne can see some of these things will bite us in the arse.

I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Back to the open door. We climbed up and about, into an attic studio apartment – bed, shower and knick-knacks included. Thorne apparently saved us from some sort of magical curse then the group started tossing the place for clues while I BLOODY WELL SHOWERED!

Ah brief bliss, free of grime and nits and gnats and everything else one would imagine from a planet of permanent medieval camping trips. Suffice it to say the others found the magic kindle of we can’t open, a collapsible camelback, a towel (probably not peril resistant), some reading spectacles, and a carving knife.

And buttons on the bed.

Which revealed another ladder leading down.

So down we went! Only to discover that zombies lived somewhere within the structure. Here begins a lovely slow motion chase scene involving us climbing for our lives away from the undead, punctuated but horrible noises and odors from below.

We made It to a hangar deck somewhere above Basicilla Hamlet which held a shuttlecraft, which proved workable – although it needed fuel and many good thoughts and wishes. Kiron and I went about putting the ship in order as the rest of the group engaged in climbing zombie murder Olympics. We added fuel, read through the pictures in what looked to be the ubiquitous flight manual written in hieroglyphics – the usual panicked procedure.

The flight went without a hitch once the Murder Olympics came to a lull. After a short debate we flew the craft down to the hamlet instead of the Venture (this turned out to be a wise decision, again revisiting Things Only Thorne Can See in the future) where the natives Oohed and Awwed over the holy chariot of St. Timmons. Whatever strikes their fancy.

From there we made short work of the rest of the zombies, sealed the entrance and rested. Causing nightmares because evidently there is some sort of summoning circle tied to the deck of the shuttle leading to a black hangry pit of unpleasantness (what lovely dreams THAT caused). This was only revealed because Thorne used is special vision on the ship. Which he neglected to do before we flew to the ground. It was also determined that had we taken the vessel out of atmo it would have triggered the circle to summon and unspeakable bloody tentacle thing to eat our (or in this case my) faces.

I am very grateful I didn’t give in to impulse to kip off to the Venture to pick up supplies. I imagine a scenario of leaping through the shuttles walls and hoping to land on the Venture while phased. Seems like a fun adventure to read about – not to experience. Which brings me back to the need to figure out HOW TO SEE AND MEASURE THIS MAGIC CRAP. I’m putting Thorne in the fMRI scanner on the ship once we get back for a month if I must! Because this ‘almost dying to things you know nothing about and have no way to observe’ is becoming… tiresome.

Enough kvetching. After a not so sound rest we explored the rest of the tunnel network where we found the one time zombie filled fuel tank designed to unleash death upon anyone who opened the studio.

To sum up; one upon a time an old gaffer who liked to carve in wood lived in a studio apartment behind a magic door in the middle of Medieval Theme Park Land. He had some magical widgets and he may have been responsible for carving the Woodcuts which would excite some future travelers from Aldemere. Someone else, who may have killed said gaffer, decided to booby-trap the shuttle and the rest of the hidden bits with zombie traps and curses. And there is an actual dwarf in what appears to be a cyrostasis pod in the vestibule of the church below all of this.

I am forced to conclude that someone REALLY doesn’t want travelers to crucifix station and was willing to go to excessive lengths to prevent said visits.

Let’s go there. It’ll be a holiday complete with amusement rides and carnies! I love this plan!

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The Basilica of St Timon
Arden, Carter, Gabriel, Khiron, Olis, Thorne

Leaving the events and outcomes of Swingford behind, the company set off for the final leg of the journey to the Basilica of St Timon. Lord Hawkwood and his companions were all eager to compete the journey as it was a pilgrimage among their people. The site was in the keeping of the Order of St. Sylvester, devout archivists which we hoped would provide more insight into the world of Damaina and the strange connections to the world of Aldamere.

After a week’s travel by foot, and many discussions around the campfire with Lord Hawkwood and his cadre, the company arrived at the Basilica. It was an enormous structure which provided shelter to a small community catering to the modest needs of pilgrims. It was clear that the outer artifice of the Basilica was some artifact of a bygone age, which appeared to the technologically inclined to be the intact wreck of a space ship.

Within were a number of wooden buildings housing the priests, the tomb of St. Timon himself, and a number of wooden carvings portraying the Saint. Below was a crypt with the ashes of many of the Hawkwood family. We were greeted by Deacon Ramon, and viewed the displays with due awe and reverence at least from the Hawkwood contingent. Thorne was fascinated with everything, and the images proved quite unsettling for Gabriel. Within the tomb was purported to be the remains of the Saint, but to Aldameri eyes the Saint was not a Man but a Dwarf. The religious images appeared to be straight out of Aldamere history or at least Themse Apocrypha. The locals all insisted it was stories of Saint Timon, but it was clearly images of Saint Latimer. Where they saw Lady Elinor Hawkwook, it was really Thesme (in her mortal guise). Even the dread Lich King of Aldamere made an appearance. Thorne and Khiron were able to see that a few of these images were magically hiding further information.

The company was keen to see the archives as well. Our request was granted on the condition we took part in a Mass of Cleansing and Blessing. Thorne was resigned, Gabriel was keen, and Carter was appalled at what he termed “a blatant disregard for nuclear safety protocol!” as the ritual involves being bathed in the light of the Star Hearth. The archives proved to be a collection of ‘post-rain’ tomes, a couple of “thin-client tablets”, and a few ancient “newsreel” recordings which Khiron was able with some effort to get to partially replay. Studying the tomes took some time and perseverance, telling stories of the Knights of White Fire, stories of the Knights of White Flame, a Damiana bestiary, and the Life of the Saint of Damiana.

After some rest, the company was invited to dine with Canoness Wineford. In the discussion, Thorne relayed the many interesting hints of secrets within the Basilica, and the company beseeched the Canoness for permission to explore them further. After much discussion, it was agreed as long as we shared the learnings and took pains to protect the integrity of the artifacts.

The first stop was the crypts and a strange wooden statue of Lady Elinor Hawkwook. Within one of the eyes was a “puzzlebox” which Khiron was able to open to retrieve some small device. It’s use was unclear, but was clearly of some import. The next stop was investigating the magically concealed images, beginning with the carving in the Canoness’ dining room. After some study, Thorne depressed a series of specific places on the image, and was rewarded with the opening of a secret door revealing a ladder leading up…

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