27th of Gorim, Cinten 608 AR
…By Markus, Pin is dead. The cephalyx overlord’s magic dropped him to the ground and then that explosive shell landed directly on him. Right in front of me. I watched his organs take flight and soar to the walls and floor, splattering them with red… I put them back but by Solovin he’s still dead…
9th of Malleus, Rowen 608 AR
I think I’ve had time now to collect my senses. Pin’s demise was a sad happening, but now his family’s well off on his share of the treasure. Where to start…
We set out to investigate the ruin indicated by the Gyles’ Orgoth map. It took us seven days to reach it by foot and along the way casual conversation revealed some things about our normally tightlipped elf. It seems to be the case that she’s a bit dragonblighted, but fights that influence with blind hatred. Also, she really does not like to talk about elven religion.
Additionally, we encountered a caravan of Nyss, with which Syra had a long conversation that only the elves understood, as it was spoken entirely in an elven tongue. What their topic was, I know not, but they all seemed satisfied by whatever it was, though Syra was also a bit nervous.
The ruin was right where the map indicated it should be, in the Gnarls, but unexpectedly it was underground, and all that was to be seen on the surface was a small entranceway. From that entry, we followed down a corridor three fathoms wide descending into the darkness. The floor was covered in black-enameled tiles with dark gray mortar and the walls were paved in a dark, large-crystal stone. The Orgoth display a remarkable consistency in color preference. We came down to a portion of the passageway that had caved-in, but had been recently cleared. Someone else had been here in the near past. An examination of the rubble revealed that the cave-in was old. Very old and intentional. It was probably done by the Orgoth themselves during the Scourge, since they could not have burned this place as was their usual protocol.
We came into some kind of annex chamber. Our alchemical torchlights revealed that it was decorated with cast iron statues of stripped, beaten, screaming Thurian slaves, the metal unnaturally uncorroded. When we Immorese humans put up statues, they’re normally of kings, nobles, gods or ascendants. The Orgoth sculpt screaming slaves. Also revealed by our light, a mechanized undead fusion of horse and man of Cryxian make and several twisted beings of bulging muscle, implanted machinery, and bolted-on helms of brass and glass. Cephalyx drudges. The soulhunter charged towards us and combat commenced.
We slew them all without lasting injury, for Brogg can heal with amazing speed, and we sorted out the bodies of our enemies to ascertain the nature of our foes. What we had defeated was upon examination a thrall, a soulhunter, five drudges, and one of the foul cephalyx. Cephalyx and Cryxian undead are terrible individually, and them together is worse. At least now we knew what cleared the cave-in. At least we did some good for the drudges, for I expect death is the only release for those unfortunates. To be captured, surgically altered, experimented upon, and mentally enslaved by the Cephalyx assuredly must be a worse fate.
We continued further into the complex, following the main passageway through the annex. We explored into what seemed to be a residential wing, wandering first into a communal sleeping area. We found a passage leading south from it, and found a room which was both a forge and armory, filled with the unliving, drudges, and another cephalyx. We had quite a surprise while fighting what seemed to be the chamber’s greatest threat, a mechanithrall with steam-piston driven fists when an explosive shell roared out of the room’s darkest extent. As we forced our way inside and our light revealed a bloated undead torso mounted on top of a spider-like mechanikal chassis, a bloat thrall. It and its cephalyx alike fell to our weapons. In our surveying of the room, Brogg had to be sternly reminded to not play with the Orgoth weapons, as though he couldn’t remember what had happened in Khador. Perhaps he got psi-blasted by the cephalyx a few too many times.
We headed back to the communal sleeping quarters and traveled a passage westward, which connected to a long corridor with three black-iron plated double-doors. Brogg smashed down the central pair, unveiling with our alchemical torchlights a room filled with long tables, drudges, and another bloat thrall. Brogg charged in, and another fight began. From adjacent chambers through side passages, more enemies surged, risen thralls, drudges, and a mechanithrall, a cephalyx leader lurked in the room’s recesses, and a lesser cephalyx flanked us from behind, but they all died to our grenades, firearms, and weapons regardless.
We then explored the room to the north, a large empty chamber devoid of furniture. From a door to the west Brogg and I heard female shouting or screaming, it was hard to make out, and our group went that way with haste. Again, Brogg threw down the doors, and we found a room filled with slave cages, drudges, a soulhunter, a bloat thrall, and a cephalyx leader. In the back of the chamber, stuffed into a cage, was a satyxis in warcaster armor. While Brogg, Syra, and Pin preoccupied the drudges and soulhunter, I dashed to the satyxis’s cage, effortlessly evading the enemies’ attempts to stop me, and set her free. The warcaster, glad to be out of the cage, joined the fray on our side. With the added assistance of her war magic, we brought down our foes. Then we turned to her, for she had many questions to answer.
We thought the Cephalyx were working with Cryx, and this turned out to be partially correct, as Anaxi, the satyxis revealed. These cephalyx had had many past dealings with Cryx, but this had recently changed. Anaxi had been sent to the mainland with two missions, first to trade with this group of cephalyx, and then to head to this ruin, and retrieve a vial of dragonblood that was believed to be here. Unfortunately for Anaxi, the cephalyx had known about the dragonblood for some time, had coveted it for their experiments, and had somehow known that she had information on its whereabouts. So they had captured her, made drudges of her escorts, dragged her here this ruin and tried compelling her to reveal the vial’s location. But she did not tell, despite their interrogations.
After her explanation, she then asked for our help in retrieving the vial. It was a hard sell on her part, but she was able to make a convincing case. Apparently, due to his animosity with his offspring, Toruk does not want other dragon’s blight corrupting people into their influence, as that would make his aims more difficult. Finding that it too was our opinion that dragonblight is not best out in the world corrupting people, and finding an extra hand helpful in clearing this complex, we agreed to help her deliver the dragonblood to someone who had no interest in it blighting anyone.
Then Anaxi tried to flirt with me, her “brave rescuing hero.” I flatly turned away that damned satyxis, for I am not interested in other women, much less blighted monsters. Then Brogg started to court her, and I wisely stopped paying attention.
After that uncomfortable conversation, we explored the rest of the residential wing, discovering a communal bathing room, filled with a drudge, three lesser cephalyx, and a larger mechanithrall, a kitchen, and a food storage room, occupied by a half dozen drudges and a risen thrall. That one thrall was almost frighteningly amusing, for Brogg had to beat it down four times with his axe before it stayed dead.
Being done with this section of the complex, we returned to the main corridor and discovered a wing that we believe was devoted to alchemical research. In various rooms we found healing balms, and grenades both corrosive and explosive. We also stumbled into a chamber that was a combination library, store room, and alchemical workshop, inhabited by another one of those larger mechanithralls, a thrall warrior, two lesser cephalyx, and four drudges, but like all that we had encountered before, these too quickly fell before us. Once we got to search the room, Pin was in a state of quivering excitement, looting all the alchemical supplies he could lay his small gobber fingers on. The books of the library were mostly outdated Immorese alchemical texts from the Orgoth Occupation, but some were apparently Orgoth alchemical treatises.
Exploring further down the main corridor of the complex, we discovered that it ended in a set of heavy doors, and Anaxi became excited by a section of the corridor’s wall with strange Orgoth markings. She fiddled with the wall, and it slid away revealing a hidden passageway. Gesturing towards it, she explained that by the information she had, the dragonblood waited for us down it. We debated retrieving the dragonblood now or exploring what lay beyond the main corridor’s end, and in the end decided to clear out whatever was behind those heavy doors lest whatever may be lurking there ambush us from behind. And in those chambers Pin perished.
Brogg beat down the doors and charged in, unveiling a four way intersection and a dark Orgoth chapel, in which we could see the overlord of this group of cephalyx, guarded by a line of drudges that Brogg met with the force of a charging trollkin. While Brogg was tied down by the four drudges, thrall warriors, more drudges, and a lesser cephalyx emerged from the intersection’s shadowed side passages and completely enveloped Pin, Syra, Anaxi and I. And Bloat thrall took its position next to the overlord. The fighting was fierce, and many undead and drudges fell to our weapons while the bloat thrall bombarded us and its allies indiscriminately with explosive shells and the overlord unleashed psi-blast after psi-blast onto Pin and Brogg, an Orgoth occult circle beneath its floating form flaring with light each time, somehow amplifying its power. Then Pin collapsed, and his form was scattered by an explosive shell’s direct hit. Furious, Brogg broke through the drudge line and we in the back carved a path forward, and we surrounded the cephalyx overlord. Syra immobilized it with her ice sorcery, freezing it solid, and Brogg cleaved it twain with his ax. After that, Anaxi destroyed the bloat thrall, for it was the only enemy left, and I uselessly tried to put Pin back together.
After I performed last rites for Pin, we went to retrieve the dragonblood. Walking down the long hidden corridor, we came to a bridge over a deep chasm, shrouded in corrosive mist and too large for us to see the far side shrouded in the oppressive darkness. We tossed Pin’s alchemical torchlight was far as we could, and with its far-flung illumination we could discern the bridge’s end. If Pin were still living the alchemist could surely have devised a means to counteract the corrosive mist, but he was dead. Instead, Brogg ran across the bridge, suffering harm as his skin was dissolved by the mist but he made it across alive, and found a control that did away with the mist.
Now that it was safe, we crossed. On the other side we found a room full of alchemical equipment and another chamber which held the dragonblood. Anaxi snatched it up, and then opened the container and tried to splash some of the foul liquid onto me. She missed, for I was able to dodge out of the way, and Brogg took the vial from her. In the face of our outrage, she explained that as she had approached the dragonblood she could sense that it was of the dragon Shazkz, the dragon whose blight had twisted human women into the first satyxis, and that she was trying to show her gratitude to me by “elevating me to a superior form.” I emphatically told her I wished to remain human, but this was evidently not persuasive for after being released she swiped up some of the spilt fluid and tried to wipe it on me, again failing. She said that while I was angry with her now, I would thank her later if I let her transform me into a satyxis. I again refused, and had Brogg take her away, and told her we would give her the dragonblood in the morning when she left. And to make sure she couldn’t use it, I cleaned up the spilt dragonblood with Pin’s alchemical tools, Syra didn’t want to be anywhere near it, and stuffed the soaked rags into one of Pin’s alchemical containers. The next morning we sent her off with the dragonblood, an event at which I was purposefully not present.
After that, we travelled to a nearby village a day and a half away, gathered some wagons, and looted everything valuable from the ruin, and made the week long trek back to Ceryl. I gave the dragonblood soaked rag to the Order of the Golden Crucible, because those alchemical experts will know what to do with it.