ZEITGEIST [ZEITGEIST] The Continuing Adventures of Korrigan & Co. - Page 103
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  1. #1021

    Lama (Lvl 13)

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    Session 213, Part Three - Who Is That Masked Man?

    By now they were in hot pursuit of the arresting officers and their captives. Despite a sanguine response from Agent Doran (who Korrigan could not help referring to as ‘Saladoor’) they decided not to leave him to his own devices, but to provide a distraction to better enable his escape. Hasty telepathic conversations ensued, as they worked to keep up and eventually overtake the troop on its way to the Cadagyr Estate. Lots of ideas were thrown around, but in the end they fell back on Korrigan’s first, with Brakken spooking some draft animals, in a market square halfway up the rise to the walled upper-class Northern District. (Salome knew the best spot to lay their ‘ambush’; Quratulain calculated the best moment; Korrigan kept ‘Saladoor’ telepathically informed.) When the oxen bolted, and the orcs were doing their best to avoid being trampled, ‘Torado’ sipped a hidden potion of invisibility and slipped away. It was some time before the orcs even noticed.

    But something else did notice, and as it lowered from its hidden vantage, the ‘paranoid’ Salome recognised its tell-tale hiss-groan. “There’s something up there!” she warned. “It can see you!” She ran after him, as he vanished round a bend in the sloping road, and the others followed.

    Warned in the nick of time, Doran was able to duck and dodge as invisible tendrils sought to coil around him. Guessing as to its location, somewhere in the air above Doran, Glaucia summoned a punishing pillar of fire, striking the creature and marking it out, until it moved out of the way. In that instant, Quratulain was able shoot it with her lantern blaster, set to ‘cold’. (Later she realised it would have been better left on ‘force’…) Glaucia then sprinted to cover the distance and help Doran fight the thing off.

    The others were stymied: huge, steaming rifts opened up in the pavement between them and Doran. From behind they heard shuffling sounds and turned to see three flesh-warped dire bears emerge from an alleyway close by. Salome struck one a heavy blow and it roared in anguish.

    Korrigan hoped the thing in the air was a thoughtform, and concentrated on thinking it solid. It worked! Sadly, it landed on Glaucia, pinning her and slowly squeezing the life out of her. It was still invisible, so her mushed-up face could be seen from the other side. Doran stabbed at it with his insightful blade, learning that it was immune to radiant energy. (Korrigan sheathed his holy avenger.) The creature thrashed at Doran again, but missed. Glaucia then brought down a second pillar of fire on both the creature and herself! Quratulain continued to shoot at it, creating layer after layer of ice.

    Back up the hill, Brakken urged Feroz to strike at one of the other bears. When he did so, he realised that all three were illusory! Salome broke away from them and fought her way athletically across the broken terrain (which would later be revealed as illusory too).

    Doran’s luck ran out. The thoughtform grabbed him, its tentacle pressed into his face and slurped out his sinus fluid and then his eye! Doran cried out in agony. Waves of pure thought rolled across the creature, which revealed itself in that instant: a bloated sac of gas from which hung a multitude of pulsing eyes. Brakken realised it was ‘reading’ everything that the stolen eye had recently seen! Though visible, the thing was now insubstantial again, and tried to lift off, but could not do so thanks to Quratulain’s layers of ice. Korrigan thought it solid again, and once more Glaucia was heavily pinned, while her summoned pillar blazed away.

    By now the orcish troops had become aware of what was happening and a small contingent started heading down the hill, firing poorly aimed shots as they ran. At the same moment, another figure appeared on a rooftop close by: a short, hooded orc wielding a rapier in one hand and some strange arcanoscientific device that crackled with electricity in the other. He fired this at the thoughtform and it swerved unerringly through the air, struck the creature and caused it to judder and coruscate. This delighted newcomer, who gave a cry of triumph, as a spool mechanism on the device began to rewind itself, and pulled back a chunk of matter, being constantly zapped and kept solid.

    Quratulain finished the thoughtform off with another shot from her lantern blaster. Glaucia crawled out from under it; Salome helped Doran to his feet; the illusory terrain disappeared.

    “This way! Quickly!” shouted the newcomer, before dashing off across the rooftops. They followed him at street level. Once out of sight of the main road, he leapt down into the alley and guided them further into the backstreets of the Troughs. Having thrown off pursuit, he turned and pulled off the mask he had made from the police officer’s face.

    It was none other than Wolfgang Von Recklinghausen!

    End of Session
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  2. #1022

    Lama (Lvl 13)

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    Session 214, Part One - The Good Doctor

    Wolfgang greeted Korrigan and looked around for other unit members. He could see none, which clearly disappointed him: He had heard talk of ‘capable foreigners’ and guessed they would be involved somehow. “I knew our paths would cross again.” Wolfgang told them he had heard reports of problems in Ursalina and came to see if he could help. Once here, he set about trying to find a way to defeat the invaders. He was very pleased to have finally managed to secure a sample from an oculus. Doran introduced himself and said that Wolfgang would have known him as Saladoor Saan, who had once helped rescue him from Reed Macbannin’s lab. The good doctor thanked him, and offered to take a look at his eye. So they found a place to hide, and he patched Doran up while they talked.

    They exchanged information, telling him everything they had learned, including the mystery of their missing team members. (Korrigan noticed a flush of concern when Gupta’s name was mentioned, although the doctor tried to disguise this.) In return, Wolfgang said that the creatures in control of the city were clearly psionic in nature and showed them the oculus prism that he had taken from an orcish police officer, and imbedded in the back of his own neck! This device rendered him invisible to the thoughtforms. (They showed him the prism they had retrieved from the vesicle, and he confirmed that it would work in the same way.)

    Glaucia objected to his murder and dismemberment of the orcs. Wolfgang said that he had acted in self-defence: The officers he killed had been victimising a one-legged half-orc girl and attacked him when he intervened. The autopsies he carried out were intended to establish the nature of their domination, and yielded the prism (and his very handy mask). As for the grave-robbing rumours, to help the poor girl out he needed a fresh leg. “It’s a little big for her now, but she’ll grow into it.”

    Quratulain examined the oculus prism, wondering if it could be replicated, but it had been grown, not made. Brakken double-checked that it was not dominating Wolfgang in any way, but it was not. Still, no one was brave enough to try using theirs, though Doran considered it. He didn’t fancy losing another eye! (He wondered aloud if the oculus might have been able to transmit the information it gleaned from him, and if so, what that might mean.)

    Korrigan asked if Wolfgang would like to join forces. He declined. “I do not wish to take undue risks, as my principal concern is to learn how to defeat these creatures and leave Ursalina to share that knowledge.” Von Recklinghausen may have been a deft swordsman, but he did not regard himself as a frontline fighter – his skills had been honed for the purposes of self-preservation only. Craftily, Korrigan mentioned Gupta again (inter alia) and reiterated his concern for her safety. He did not need Brakken to tell him that Wolfgang was struggling with competing exigencies (all from within, not without). In the end, the doctor gave an exasperated sigh and agreed to help them find her (“I mean ‘them’”…). But where should they look? Wolfgang said that gidim activity was focused on the Cadagyr Estate, the Jaula and the Triunfo Vida bardic college.

    After lengthy discussions they decided to explore the only place they hadn’t been to yet: the Triunfo Vida. They headed for the eastern district, where the college could be found, huddling up some distance away from the gate through the district wall, wondering how best to pass through it. (Without Leon, it would not be so easy.) While they exchanged ideas, they noticed a kobold approaching them. It was dressed in the garb of a Red Peacock staffer. The kobold did not appear to be thrown by their disguises, heading straight for them. Without preamble, it told them that police officers had come to arrest Dieter Cadagyr and a few of his closest hangers-on. They were charged with sedition – aiding ‘known enemies of the State of Ber’ – and frog-marched off to the Cadagyr Estate. So the gidim knew where they had been after all!

  3. #1023

    Lama (Lvl 13)

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    Session 214, Part Two - Bleak House

    Again, after much convoluted discussion, the group changed their plans and worked their way back to the Northern District to affect a rescue of the prisoners. Doran and Von Recklingausen posed as guards bringing Glaucia and Salome under arrest to the estate and in this manner they passed through the district gate, with Brakken and Feroz doing so invisibly, while Korrigan and Quratulain leaped straight over the wall.

    When they reached the estate itself Doran stole onto the grounds, keeping to the bushes, as he could hear a loud voice in the garden as soon as he cleared the wall: Lord Cadagyr stood on the steps of the estate, loudly admonishing a motley bunch of captives who squatted and slumped dejectedly on the lawn, surrounded by a squad of elite police and lawmages. One of them protested that Cadagyr had already repeated himself several times, at which Cadagyr screamed for silence, before resuming his lecture. From this distance, Doran could make out Dieter, three of his hangers-on, Flida, Sergio Flores, Trevio Addaz, and several sailors who they had talked to earlier that day.

    Concerned that this could be a trap, the others nevertheless scrambled over the wall too and headed for the main house. As they made their way through the garden, Salome registered the tell-tale hiss-groan of an oculus hovering above Lord Cadagyr and his captives. Invisible, Brakken crept close enough to read Cadagyr’s mind: His surface thoughts were non-existent. The only explanation is that he was being mind-controlled. Frustrated by his strange behaviour, Dieter shouted abuse at his father and was pistol-whipped by an officer for his pains. The captives became even more subdued. Brakken withdrew, joining the others as they gained access to the mansion via a window, through which they could see a disused library.

    The library gave on to the large, tiled entrance hall, where Trugido the butler stood in the doorway to the garden, apparently listening to Cadagyr’s cyclical speech. Staircases swept upwards, and behind them, doors and corridors led to other ground floor rooms. Leaving the less stealthy group members in the library, Doran went off to explore, with Brakken following behind him, trying to maintain a telepathic link with Korrigan. The main house had not been properly maintained. Dust had settled everywhere and the silverware was tarnished. Doran set about trying to find a cellar, or some underground area where prisoners might be kept. He found himself in an interconnected suite of rooms, just out of range of telepathy. Unbeknownst to him, he had reached the same lounge area where Leon had gone to meet Cadagyr. Brakken was just one room away. Doran paused. The room was empty, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that it had been occupied just moments earlier.

    Out of nowhere, a very reasonable voice began talking to him, asking him questions about what he was doing here, and what he was up to. Alarmed, Doran tried to resist the charm that accompanied this voice – encouraging him to remain calm and answer the questions – only for a second voice to join in and redouble the power of the effect. If he had been alone he might have succumbed at this point; fortunately, Brakken was close enough to sense what was going on and shared with Doran his ability to shrug off domination. Then he gave a yell of alarm to the others.

    With that a pair of gidim emerged from the walls and ceiling and lashed at Doran with spiked chains that whirled around their bodies – formed from that strange greenish metal the group had discovered earlier. Doran ducked and dodged wildly, whereupon a third gidim grabbed him telekinetically and threw him around bodily. A fourth gidim appeared from the ceiling near Brakken and caught him with a spiked chain. He was pinned and the spikes began to bore painfully into his flesh.

    Quratulain responded to Brakken’s cry by dashing towards them as fast as she could. When they realised there were reinforcements nearby, the gidim caused walls of cerebral mesh to appear – one cutting Doran, Brakken and Quratulain off from the rest of the group; another isolating Doran.

    Now that he was pinned, Doran was hit by a chain too. The spikes bit deep. In desperation, Doran threw down a smoke bomb and disappeared within the cloud, struggling to free himself.

    An even more menacing gidim appeared close to Quratulain. The mental powers possessed by this creature were palpable and seemed almost to distort the air around it. It reached out with claw and touched Quratulain gently. Nothing happened, to the gidim’s evident bemusement. She looked quizzically at him and then opened fire…
    Last edited by gideonpepys; Saturday, 16th February, 2019 at 08:42 AM.

  4. #1024

    Lama (Lvl 13)

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    Session 214, Part Three - Gidim Ambush (the Unfair Version)

    Meanwhile, Korrigan strode through the entrance hall, brushed the butler aside and appeared on the steps alongside Lord Cadagyr. He put his arm around the orcish noble and announced that the estate was now under new management. Lord Cadagyr had retired, he said, and would be stepping down forthwith. The cops all stood blinking in foolish confusion. Then one of the law mages snapped out of it and made a counter-threat: They had prisoners, and would shoot them if Korrigan did not surrender.

    Back in the mansion, when Quratulain stopped firing, there was a terrible mess where the lead gidim’s head had once been. Those attuned to such things (such as Brakken and Korrigan) could sense a mental yell of alarm from the remaining gidim. Overseer Lilore was dead! The other gidim swarmed Quratulain to avenge their leader.

    Salome had joined Korrigan outside and blocked the doorway in case it was charged. The mental alarm caused all the officers to open fire. Bullets bounced off Korrigan, who shoved Cadagyr behind a pillar and stepped in Salome’s way. She was, however, pinned in place by the lawmages. One or two of the officers shot at the hostages, killing Sergio Flores and one of the sailors. Two huge gidim-like monstrosities appeared on either side of Korrigan. They were twice his size, and had immense sharp, shovel-like blades for hands. Korrigan did not believe they were real, and pierced the oculus’ illusion. Then invisible tentacles descended from above. Korrigan might have fought them off, but he was concerned to protect the paralysed Salome and so he was grabbed.

    Glaucia burned through the wall of mesh with a pillar of fire, and she and Wolfgang joined the fight against the chain-wielding gidim. Glaucia protected everyone from the gidim’s mental powers; Wolfgang ‘tazed’ one of them. Feroz brought up the rear, and attacked the gidim vengefully. Doran struggled free of the chain that had pinned him and fell to his knees, exhausted, before he picked himself up, drew his insightful blade and fought on. Quratulain used the gidim’s own attacks against them, and responded to each opening with a bullet or a blade. The scrap became increasingly frenzied – another gidim fell, then another, and the remaining two vanished.

    Even as he struggled in the grasp of the oculus, Korrigan declaimed, “This tyranny is ending now! We who retain free will are above the thoughtforms of the gidim!” In so doing, he issued a proud challenge to the orcish police. They surged towards him, and he used his earthquake stomp to send them reeling. Then he shouted an order to the captives: “Run!” They did as they were told. Many dashed straight out of the estate. Dieter ran towards his father, huddled behind a pillar. Flida was too frightened to move.

    Though physically restrained, Salome used a mental technique the others had taught her, and thought herself invisible to the oculus. Then the two gidim appeared beside her and attacked. She could not defend herself, and found herself wrapped in two vicious living chains. Quratulain came to her aid, with the others close behind. Together they dispatched the gidim, and Doran pulled the chains off Salome. She was in a bad way – even worse than him!

    Movement in the air above the garden presaged the arrival of more invisible thoughtforms – seemingly even larger than the oculus. These newcomers bore strange reinforcements: humanoid creatures covered in writhing, bright-blue fur that crackled with aelectricity. They leapt off their invisible mounts and charged forward.

    Realising that things had become desperate, Korrigan won free of the oculus, called on the Coaltongue to provide air support and ordered the others to withdraw into the mansion. At his command, Flida was able to get to her feet and run inside too. Dieter followed, dragging his father. Just moments after Korrigan’s message to Admiral Smith, Leon appeared - not yet fully recovered, but well enough to rescue his friends. He had brought Amielle along for back-up, and she provided covering fire for Korrigan’s retreat. In an instant – just as the shock troopers crashed against the mansion door – Leon had spirited them all away from the Estate.

    So as not to tip their hand, Korrigan called off the Coaltongue.

    End of Session
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  5. #1025

    Lama (Lvl 13)

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    Session 214, Part One - Inside Lord Cadagyr's Head

    Unable to return to the Coaltongue, Leon took them all to the junkyard. They could not linger there as Doran had been here before he lost his eye, but they spared a few moments for Wolfgang to remove Lord Cadagyr’s oculus prism. This did not ‘cure’ him, though. Glaucia tried to suppress his domination, but all that revealed was a state of near catatonia. Brakken said that a remove affliction ritual would be needed, but they could not perform that here. Did Dieter know anywhere they could run to? Dieter shook his head. He didn’t know who he could trust.

    Salome suggested the alchemical market, and they went there without further ado, hidden under Leon’s illusions. They needed a large, secluded space, and asked around for any empty properties, but only those belonging to arrested merchants (who had defied the ordnances) stood vacant, and most were mere shop fronts. So they took over a warehouse, subdued the workers and foreman, and placed a sign, 'Closed by order of Lord Cadagyr' on the door. Glaucia was not happy about all of this, and nor was Korrigan – but they could not afford to be squeamish. Amielle flew up the roof and stood watch while the others healed one another and took a much needed rest. (Doran and Salome in particular were flagging.) They were undisturbed (although Amielle detected the occasional pass by an oculus).

    Korrigan performed a remove affliction ritual on Lord Cadagyr. When he recovered, he began to sob uncontrollably. Dieter consoled him and his anguish turned to fear. Still, they were able to coax everything he knew out of him. Most of it they knew themselves, but the most important part was that the gidim base of operations was the Triunfo Vida. Did he know where their kidnapped friends were? Yes – the Triunfo. Could he persuade the Commodore to support an assault? She answered to the Bruse and Cadagyr had no firm relationship with her. At the thought he began to panic: what use would common soldiers be against these mind-controlling aliens? Glaucia reassured him that Ber had a long history of overthrowing unwanted tyrants. Still, he had a point. They decided to head straight to the Triunfo. Could he tell them anything about its layout? Cadagyr squinted. It was unclear. What he did know was that there was a large natural cavern beneath the college that had been discovered as part of an ongoing archaeological dig.

    They left Dieter, Flida and Lord Cadagyr to hide out in the warehouse and look after the captive staff.
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  6. #1026

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    Session 215, Part Two - Employees Only

    With Leon’s help they passed easily through the gate to the eastern district.

    The Triunfo sat at the highest tier of its hill, and a path weaved through broad gardens around the campus walls. The flowers were all withered, but the cloying scent of the cerebral mesh, which covered the area in profision, created an oddly floral tone. Several archways led through this wall to the inner garden, though wooden barricades blocked off all of them.

    Amielle passed invisibly though the wall. Beyond, a simple farming garden took up a large swath of the campus, with limestone walkways and the occasional tasteful topiary. The college hall sat in the centre of the campus, a two-story building with a pair of single-story wings. There were no lights on in the building. The whisper of silken banners fluttering lightly in the breeze disturbed the stillness.

    Leon opened a dimension door next to the main entrance and they all stepped through. Orchestral string music was faintly audible coming from the second story window. Doors entered from multiple directions, but the most obvious approach was the front door, flanked by statues of bears playing a cello and a tuba. Strange sights beset them while they stood in the grounds: creaking trees coming from thin air, angry figures with bloody blades just barely visible at the edge of their vision, and false archways in the wall that shuddered with morbid moans if anyone came close, then faded away. Like the barricades, these were clearly intended to deter casual intrusion.

    Korrigan flew up to look in through a window, but could see no sign of occupancy – only the upper foyer and tiered seating of a performance area . They entered through the main door. Inside, doors led to the north and south wings, and back to the headmaster’s salon. Stairs led up to the second floor foyer outside the theatre. The music was louder, and affected some of the party with a creeping sense of dread. Korrigan used his crown to relieve Quratulain.

    In the foyer, a section of wooden floor has been and was now covered with a tarp. Korrigan used his clairvoyant eye to look beneath this and saw that it was the entrance to the Ancient archaeological site they had been told about. Beneath the tarp (which Wolfgang tried to remove with his sampler before they resorted to using their hands) a thirty-foot wide stone shaft descended, painted with ornate orcish figures. Forty feet down they could see a metallic floor. Korrigan flew down there. Leon opened a wormhole and he and Quratulain stepped through. The floor undulated like a muscle- formed from the same living steel as the tools the gidim used. It was centred on a sphincter-like aperture. Quratulain analysed it from a distance and declared it to be a sort of door.

    From up top, Wolfgang wondered if they could think it open. Sceptically, Korrigan tried, extending his thoughts out as he had recently learned to do, and found to his surprise that he formed some sort of connection – albeit an alien, incomprehensible one. He focused and realised that the sphincter demanded a specific thought in order to open it: a mental image of some kind. Brakken scanned it from above but could not tell exactly what image was needed. So he focused a moment, before he unleashed an overwhelming barrage of mental images, in a stream of subconsciousness.

    After a moment’s pause, the sphincter opened!

    At once, Korrigan flew through it. The chamber beneath was organic and repulsive, as if formed from some behemoth’s innards. An overwhelming floral scent failed to obscure the lingering odor of rot and blood within this circular chamber. Spherical niches along the floors, walls, and ceiling held ragged bits of flesh. Grotesque remnants of humanoid bodies were fused to the walls, and an inch-deep layer of unknown effluvia swirled in slow eddies along the floor. Directly beneath Korrigan lay a deep acid bath that stung his eyes with acrid fumes. Then he saw movement: crouched in the recesses and responding to his presence were more than a dozen blue-furred shock troopers.
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