Versus Aeons

versusAEONS Session I
Down Into The Deep

Intro

It’s cold, and the air is humid; the mist that surrounds you makes lazy grabs at your clothing and skin as you pass through it, resulting in patches of damp cloth cligning to your flesh. There is no sound here other than the occasional creak of wood coming from the boat you are in, the hesitant jostle of the lake surface as the tip cuts through the water, and the quiet breaths you make.

The area around you is nondescript – you see nothing but mist, and no sky above you. You remember that the sun was shining when you left the rickety wooden dock ten minutes… no, twenty.. was it an hour ago? Four hours? Fourteen? How many days have you been in this boat? The foggy perimeter of your vision reminds you of a dream; are you even sure you’re awake?

A deep cough comes from the man steering the boat – he is laden with pockets and pouches, and carries a hunting knife, a crossbow, a harpoon, a loop of rope… he seems to have no problem directing the boat where it has to go. Or perhaps he doesn’t know where he’s going at all – he’s done nothing but row the boat forward since you got here, and hasn’t once turned around to face the direction you’re going.

His expression is neutral purely because of the grimace he wears from directing the oars through the water – he wears dark goggles over his eyes. He hasn’t said a word since you stepped off the deck, back when the lake seemed less misty… come to think of it, you could see the other side of the lake from the dock… where is it now?

Your train of thought is disturbed by a looming shape that appears through the mist behind the man. He makes no mention of seeing it, but immediately ceases rowing, and allows the boat to float over to it – it appears to be a broad wooden platform, like a dock, but it is attached to no land. it simply sits in the middle of this misty, aquatic otherworld. Your boat trails towards it.

The man stands up, and ties a rope between the boat to one of the four poles at each corner of the standing dock, and jumps onto it, holding out a hand to help the first of you – the boat’s two other passengers, step onto the platform.

“We’re walking from here,” he says, arm outstretched towards Baha.

The Standing Dock

After boarding a boat and traversing part of the Sehen Lake with the ferryman Grzegorz, the pair find themselves on a wooden platform, surrounded on all sides by mist and water. Grzegorz asks for the first part of his toll, and takes ten gold each from the pair. He then asks Desmond to keep a watch on the lake’s surface for him, and to report any movement that he sees – and see something, he does. He reports a movement in the water far in front of him, along with the sound of a rush of water. Grzegorz takes note, and asks a request of Baha as well – she is to use her shortbow to fire chunks of meat in a particular direction from the platform (and, according to Grzegorz, must not accidentally drop the meat into the water immediately surrounding the platform). This she achieves with some ease, and Grzegorz makes the final preparation – a small ritual that involves rubbing strange herbs on the soles of the shoes of the party, as well as firing a crossbow bolt across the lake, with a leaking bag of herbs attached. This done, Grzegorz steps out onto the lake to demonstrate that it is now possible to walk on its surface. The group proceed to walk along the lake, Grzegorz leading the way with a map illuminated by Desmond’s floating lantern.

Crossing the Lake

While crossing the lake, both Baha and Desmond spot something under the water – a massive, dark shape that seemed to them to have a fin. Desmond especially was unnerved by this, and reported it to Grzegorz, who responded only with the advice “Don’t look down.” Before ten minutes were up, the group had crossed the lake.

The Sehen Lake Ruins

The party arrived on the opposite side of the lake before long, and were met by the Sehen Lake Ruins. They proceeded in before long, and were startled to find a man waiting for them. This man was Meinrad Steig, who seemed to know both Desmond’s and Baha’s names, and was considerably on-edge and unhinged. He delivered a poem to the pair addressing them both by name, before handing the poem to Desmond, and leaving – though not before Desmond noticed the Sign of Ta’lab embossed on one side of the parchment. Somewhat shaken, the group continued into the ruins proper.

The Deep Complex

When the party continued further into the ruins, they found themselves in a colossal “room”, consisting of a roughly spiral-shaped pathway extending counterclockwise downwards into the darkness, as well as an abyssal shaft in the middle that anyone careless enough could fall into. The group started down the path, occasionally exchanging words, before their path was halted by part of the walkway having collapsed. In an effort to bridge the gap, Grzegorz attempted a running jump to get to the other side, but failed, and ended up smashing his face and ribs against part of the broken stone, before falling ten feet onto his back, landing on the section of walkway that had fallen. The remaining two then jumped down the gap – Desmond landing surprisingly gracefully, and Baha being less fortunate and sustaining some damage. The group then began to take care of their injuries, in preparation for further descent into the depths of the complex.

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versusAEONS Session II
Down Into the Deep (Part 2)

Our intrepid heroes took a few minutes in the complex to rest after Baha and Grzegorz suffer a less-than-graceful fall. Grzegorz suffers a gash across the chest, and his goggles were bashed against his face, leaving two red, inflamed rings around his oddly luminous eyes. Before long, the party were back on their feet and walking down the spiral pathway once again.

And again, they are hindered by deteriorated pathway. This time, portions of the path had given way, though the gaps they left behind could be bridged with a simple jump. Desmond leapt across fine, but as Baha crossed, she looked down below her and saw a man, grinning up at her, with wide eyes bereft of irises. She is considerably distressed, although Desmond, and Grzegorz – falling through the gap to the lower level – assure her no-one is around.

The group continue a trek down the path that, in brief, requires them to traverse collapsed ledges, piles of rubble, and the occasional torrent of inflowing water. As the group proceed, Desmond becomes aware of a vague, nondescript twinkling coming from the bottom of the abyss in the centre of the complex that the pathway revolves around. When he asks Grzegorz about what’s at the bottom, Grzegorz replies with a confusing metaphor, stating that “speaking about the black can make it turn white”, and that the area is considered to be “black” by natives. Baha also brought up her concerns regarding the Grinning Man, worried that she might be losing her mind and seeing things. Baha asks if Desmond believes that she saw him – Desmond replies with the lie, “Yes.”

After some time, a new sight arrested Desmond and Baha’s attention – a door, set in the wall of the complex, seemingly slightly ajar. Grzegorz walked straight past it, paying no heed, and both Desmond and Baha brought it to one another’s attention. Grzegorz stipulated that there is “a world behind that door, in a sense”, and states that he will lead the pair through the city of the dead, if they wish. Both Desmond and Baha decided to forgo the door, which seemed to creak forlornly in response to them leaving. Before long, the group began to see other doors in the wall, all shut tight.

The group’s descent was hindered again minutes, or hours, later, this time by a man-made contrivance. The pathway ended in a low wall, beyond which were mechanical fittings fastened to the wall, such as pistons, cogs, and gears. Beyond this machinery was the continuing path, but there seemed to be no way across to that part of the path. Before long, Desmond found a hatch in the ground and opened it, allowing Baha to proceed down the chute found underneath, using the ladder attached to the wall. She reached the bottom, and noticed a locked door in the wall, another hatch set in the floor, and wide open. She started down the hatch, but Desmond swung the door open after it seemed to unlock itself, revealing the continuing path, which led through another chute similar to the one they had descended. Baha felt something brushing against her shoulder, but again, Grzegorz and Desmond see nothing there. Baha’s state of mind seemed to begin to waver as she was accosted by these events, and she revealed that Meinrad whispered something to her as he left – “Don’t let ‘Him’ see you are afraid.” She pondered whether Meinrad meant the Grinning Man from earlier. The group came to no conclusions about the event, and they continued through the door, which leads along the path, through a chute.

Eventually, the group came to a complete impasse – the pathway beyond had crumbled away into nothingness. Instead, a colossal hole in the wall led into a pale and sickly looking wood. Grzegorz took a few moments to brief the pair, stating that this was the last leg of their journey together. They proceeded into the pale-green forest, seemingly growing inside a cavernous zone, in order to reach their destination.

Baha led the group through along a thin trail before coming to a crossroads, which, she surmised, was made up of three paths. One path, to their left, seemed to have been somewhat recently used. Earlier, the group noticed that the plants in the area seem to sway with an imperceptible breeze – Baha identified another path going in the direction in which the flowers bend towards. Lastly, she identified a thin, rarely used path to the right, leading deeper into the wood – and, at the end, what she thinks might be a man standing far off in the distance, looking at her. She tells the group to go left, and neglects to mention, when asked to explain her reasoning, that she saw a man in the forest. The group go left.

They came to an area where the earth was replaced by stone, and they walked into a street that looked identical to one that would appear in the cities far above them. And, at the end, they saw a cavernous hole, leading out into the spiral pathway – and a figure standing to greet them. Grzegorz walked towards it, and it welcomed him – as Desmond and Baha approached, they saw that it was some kind of reptilian creature, grinning at them. The thing wore odd robes seemingly fashioned out of layered chips of wood, and greeted them in a broken dialect. Before long, they were following the lizard creature through the cavernous hole, and onto the pathway.

The spiral pathway was different, in as much as a community had sprung up around it. Huts and houses had been built into the wall of the complex, alongside tunnels which presumably led to more homes. And walking around, between and inside this small ersatz village, were more of the reptilian creatures. The one leading the group walks into a medium-sized house along the path.

The group were led through a series of rooms, before coming to one final room. The reptilian creature sat down, as did the group, and they began talking. Desmond, at this point, suddenly realises that the creature is a Sahuagin, also known as a Sea Devil, notorious for being murderous pirates. Grzegorz and the Sahuagin – who introduces himself as Vryher – mention the Darkening Pool, which they assume Desmond and Baha have come to use. After a conversation which involved a very broken dialect, some grevious misunderstandings and a lot of odd laughter, Grzegorz asks Baha and Desmond to allow the two to talk.

The pair walk out of the room, and immediately begin listening in on their hosts conversation. It transpires that Vryher wants to sacrifice Desmond or Baha for some end, while Grezegorz steadfastly refuses to meet such demands. In the end, Vryher bans Grzegorz and his charges from the pool, to which Grzegorz replies by bursting out of the room, yelling at Desmond and Baha to run, and dashing towards the Darkening Pool.

The group run back out to the pathway, and the centre of the sahuagin settlement, as Vryher screams for guards to close the door to the Darkening Pool. Grzegorz directs the group to a door at the very bottom of the tower, and, slashing their way through many sahuagin guards, they eventually reach the door. They face off against Vryher and Desmond utilises one of his powers to murder him – unfortunately, during the battle, one of Baha’s spells goes wrong and she is knocked unconscious and sustains serious injuries. The group nonetheless run through the doors into the room where the Darkening Pool lies.

Grzegorz bars the doors, and begins a ritual. Desmond sees that room consists of a pool of water, and is surrounded by eight torches – only one remains lit. Grzegorz instructs Desmond to have faith in him, and he drops Baha into the pool. Desmond jumps in as well just as more sahuagin guards begin attempting to ram the door down, and the pair float in the pool for a few seconds, before the water seemingly falls away beneath them, and they plummet into a larger, cavernous underground lake.

Desmond finds himself floating above a vast castle, kept perfectly intact despite looking ancient and being entirely underwater, and also notices a colossal shadowy figure in the water before him. The shape begins to swim towards himself and Baha, before everything goes black.

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