Need to catch up on what happened before? The last installment can be found here.
After their negotiations with Devola, Caracol Vus, Grayden, Fisher, and Caedmyn went to a storehouse in the complex where the strange serpentine creature had stored some supplies. They not only found food, water, and other necessities for their journey, but some useful artifacts.
The first was a metallic rod that could be used to very temporarily negate gravity’s pull on a creature or object. Basically, whatever it affected would float up into the air and then come crashing down again. The second was a small device that, when properly activated, brought a sort of wall into existence. (In truth, it was more like a large portion of some far larger device that could be used effectively as a barrier. What’s more, what it really did was teleport the barrier, so if it was “created” in one spot, it disappeared from the place it previously rested. Third was a headband that emitted a blast of powerful energy. Lastly, there was a transparent synth shield that, gave a sort of readout when the wearer looked through it at a creature, detailing the best place to strike. Grayden took the gravity wand, Caedmyn took the barrier, Fisher put on the headband, and Caracol Vus decided to wield the shield.
Fully rested and equipped, the four left the subterranean complex and struck out overland to the location that Devola had provided. Her instructions said that they needed to find a stronghold of The Enemy and destroy a machine there. This device, she explained, allowed The Enemy to “communicate with itself.”
The journey took them through a blasted wasteland of strangely regular valleys. Eventually, they walked through series of huge, upright, metallic rings that dominated one of the valleys. The rings were clearly the remnants of some collapsed structure. As they walked, they saw two humans crouched behind one of the rings where the valley abruptly opened into a wide plain. They looked as though they might be hiding, but not from the approaching travelers–something from outside the vale.
Grayden called out to the figures, who made motions with their hands for him to be silent. Grayden and the others joined the two, a man and a woman, where they hid.
“Cragworm,” the woman said.
“I don’t hear or see anything,” Fisher said.
“There’s a hunting cragworm out there,” she said again, with a frustration borne by urgency.
Caracol Vus peered around the ring structure and saw nothing. “I don’t see anything either.”
“What’s a cragworm?” Grayden asked.
The woman furrowed her brow in contempt. “You must all be silent!”
“Well, if you don’t tell us, we won’t know what to look for,” Grayden replied, quietly.
“Maybe it’s gone,” Fisher said.
“Let’s wait for a bit and see what happens,” Caedmyn whispered.
So they waited. And nothing happened. Finally, deeply suspicious of the woman, Grayden said, I’m just going to go around and take a look.” To Fisher, telepathically, Grayden said, “Watch these two. I think they’re lying. I think this is a trick of some kind.” Then he carefully stepped around the side of the metal ring and took a few paces forward. Looking around, he still saw nothing. He began to turn back to his companions when suddenly, a portion of the rocky ground ahead of him moved. It rose up into the air. It opened an enormous maw.
Grayden then knew what a cragworm was. The thing was like a serpent, the exact color of the local stone and earth, at least eighty feet long and larger in circumference than a human by at least double. It has a great number of eyes and a toothy, multi-hinged mouth that opened in four directions. Before he knew what had happened the thing reared up and bit him, swallowing him so that his upper half was now in the creature’s gullet.
The others cried out and leapt into action. Caracol Vus attacked it with is blade, and Caedmyn with an esotery. Their new male companion also charged into the fray with a sword of his own. Fisher created an illusion of other figures to harass it. It was a titanic struggle. Caedmyn eventually got the cragworm to let Grayden go with a well-placed that lash of raw force to its jaws. But then it turned and bit the man with the sword.
“Nim!” the woman cried out as it tore him in half.
With a powerful blow, Grayden finished the creature, which collapsed in a heap.
They learned that the woman’s name was Laris. Distraught and angry over the death of her companion, she would tell them little of her purpose there. This made the group, Grayden in particular, more suspicious, and thus they were perhaps more gruff with her than was appropriate for someone who just lost a friend. She would not agree to help them or accompany them, although she confirmed that in the plains beyond, there were a number of ancient towers and strange, greenish creatures dwelled in and around them.
The foursome pushed onward, into a jumbled ruin of metal and stone that stretched as far as they could see. Here and there stood metal towers with their tops torn away. They looked more like support structures than dwellings–like the many legs of an enormous table. One of the towers, although still damaged at its very top, was more complete and taller than the rest. As they drew closer, Fisher spotted huge, bulbous insectoid things crawling on the outside.
Further, as they approached, they saw more and more patrols of emerald skinned, nearly featureless humanoids. While they were reminiscent of the creatures they had encountered on the floating vehicle the day prior, they were clearly different. Fisher used his power to craft illusions to attempt to make the entire group appear to be these green mannequin-like creatures and they pressed on toward the tower.
The disguise did not seem to fool many of the humanoids, however, who began to rush toward the four infiltrators. When Caracol Vus attacked the first that came too near, he discovered with surprise that they were as featureless on the inside as they were on the outside. That is to say, his blade cut one in half and it was simply solid all the way through, with the consistency of a thick sponge. Greenish water splashed out of the dark sponge as it struck the ground.
Fisher urged them all to get into the tower, the doorway to which was both close and just a simple, wide archway. Slicing through a few more of the spongy guardians, they reached their goal and went inside. Again, they remarked upon the fact that the “tower” seemed more like a support structure than a dwelling. It certainly wasn’t defensible, with wide gaps in the outer casing in many places. Most of the interior was open, although a metallic grid ceiling was approximately 70 feet above them, with a spiral ramp following the interior wall, winding up to it. From there, they could see this walkway continued, but on the outside of the tower.
Caedmyn used her new device to create a barrier that blocked off the ground floor entrance. Grayden looked up and noted that the inside of the tower was alive with more creatures. Getting to the top would be an arduous task.
Caracol Vus tightened the grip on his sword and with a nod, led the way. “Let’s go!”
The others followed, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
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