Dark Sun: Grave Burden

E10: Plasmic Choke

Oozing inside of the Fort's cistern is a massive aberration.

...In between the ridges in the floor and walls is a dried paste, appearing to be a very pale cyan film. The air is just as hot as the air outside some 100+ feet above. A quiet, near-subsonic drone resounds through the chamber that siphons off of the surrounding aquifer.

6th of Mist, Year of Priest’s Defiance

The party awakens for another day. Nataku, Hanibaal, Kathaalis, and Asis emerge from the lodge at Fort Glamis at different times. Dalamar, who was kicked out of the mealhall, was forced to sleep beside the lodge in his personal tent. The group eats a meal and carries on with the morning.

Nataku speaks with Dalamar about his curse, and the elf explains the story of how he and his companions came to be cursed several weeks ago, and what the curse is and what it will do if they do not remove it in time. Hanibaal Demontes — who is active in the conversation — is also interested in the curse. The water cleric’s knowledge of the undead prompts him to suggest that he has access to spells that could rid the party of the Curse of Undeath. Dalamar tells Nataku of Veloc’s attempt at removing the curse, and how it failed to do anything but temporarily alleviate it and buy them an estimated few week’s time. The mul ponders a bit, and then remembers that holy water would be a beneficiary factor for their strange ailment. Nataku says he needs 5 lbs. of powdered silver for each vial of holy water he must create. Silver is a rare and precious metal, but Dalamar knows that House Wavir controls a mine about 8 miles south of the fort. The mine’s primary export is silver. Nataku decides that he will ask the fortmaster for a reward of silver if he and the rest can somehow end the water shortage in the well.

Nataku decides that it’s time to speak with the fortmaster, Bryphero. He approaches the main operations hall and talks to the guards there. He tells them of his scheduled meeting with the fortmaster, and they send Bryphero a notification that Nataku is present to speak with him. Nataku is eventually let inside and before him is a room furnished with fine wooden chairs and a table. Paintings of fertile and green landscapes adorn the walls.

A man is standing at the head of the table, his hand resting on an arm piece of the nearest chair. He is a human —likely to have a Balician bloodline, as his skin is light tan. His long thin hair is swept back behind a receded hairline, and an obvious paste-dyed color covers the grey. Nataku speaks first, explaining his concerns over the water-shortage and his willingness to help. Bryphero speaks of Captain Gorda and her mercenaries who have yet to brave being lowered into the well, so Nataku’s willingness brings him good news. Bryphero is willing to pay Nataku 3,000 cp if he and the rest of the party can investigate the well and fix the shortage if possible. Nataku requests 15 lbs. of silver, and Bryphero initially denies this request, as any significant amount of silver lost is money lost. Nataku speaks of what will happen to the fort and its mining operation if the well runs dry, which would potentially shut down the fort until another source of water was found. This is entirely logical and thus Nataku persuades Bryphero to grant him the silver he requests once their job is done.

Bryphero and Nataku settle on a payment of 3,000 cp and 15 pounds of silver. Nataku would later return to Bryphero for a written contract after he spoke to Captain Gorda, the mul mercenary captain. Captain Gorda grants Nataku some of her climbing gear to descend into the well.

Nataku rounds up the group after his agreement with the fortmaster, and they begin to set up their climbing equipment to lower themselves into the well. Kathaalis goes down first, igniting a recently purchased sunrod for light while exploring the chamber in the well. Nataku casts light on his finely crafted wooden staff for additional light. The well’s depth continues further down in a smaller waterhole that is still filled with water. The well’s rope is treading the waterline, suggesting that the fort only has perhaps a week of water left (unless they can procure a longer pulley system). The chamber looks considerably old, and smells of earth minerals and stagnant water. Eight corridors extend outwardly in opposing directions from the well.

Once the party reaches the bottom, Hanibaal immediately notices a film of lightly tinted substance all over the dried up flagstones. He identifies the film as dried up cytoplasm, probably the product of a waterskin ooze. When Kathaalis leads the group down the north-most chamber, he enters a large winding and round room (that appears to go all the way around and connects all of the corridors). The wall features a large inward emboss that seems to lead to many small holes/tubes further away. The emboss is filled with a transparent and morphic thing, which appears to be a cytoplasmic ooze. The ooze is immense in size, and fills the entire aquifer emboss all the way around. Hanibaal suggests that the creature holds water to grow and if it is destroyed it may pop, flooding the chamber quickly. The party must remove the blockage, however. After prodding the ooze a bit, it releases a sudden and deep auditory sound, and its insides warp for a brief moment.

Nataku pries at the waterskin ooze with his staff, but even with his considerable strength, it does not budge. Strangely, Nataku feels an equal pressure on his own body when he applies it to the creature. Dalamar grows impatient and fires a frost arrow at the thing. The arrow penetrates the wall of the ooze and freezes the cytoplasm inside momentarily. But Dalamar feels a sharp icy pain in his body as soon as the arrow sinks into the mindless creature. Kathaalis suddenly wishes to leave the well, and doesn’t explain his departure to the rest. He and Asis simply climb up their grappling hooks and exit the 100+ ft. well. Kathaalis then leaves the fort.

Nataku decides to fetch Paalthas, the afidae seer he met the day prior. The mul thinks that the psion may be able to help identify the creature’s power and help find a way to remove it. He locates Paalthas in the lodge and speaks briefly with him. Paalthas wishes to be paid an equal share for his efforts and Nataku finds this agreeable (as Kathaalis and Asis have left them, he figures Paalthas can have their share of the money). Once back beneath the fort in the well, Paalthas examines the creature. He uses some sort of power, and his eyes glow faintly and a distinctive psionic moan emanates from his mind. He tells the party that the ooze has an empathic feedback active, and any damage the party does to the creature, some of that damage will reflect back unto them.

Hanibaal summons an invisible servant with his sorcerous magic, and uses it to enable him to push a vial of Jankx poison into the ooze without harming himself. The ooze seems to lose all momentum, its dexterity brutally robbed by the posion. The ooze begins to seep out of the emboss, as it can no longer control its morphic mass. The emboss begins to siphon water through its aquifer tubes, slowly returning some amount of fluid into the chamber. Nataku decides to summon the most powerful water elemental he can conjure. The elemental summoned is bolstered by his adeptness with the conjuration domain. The water elemental begins to lay waste to the disabled cytoplasmic giant, poking many holes in its outer wall. The party rushes for the climbing ropes, and ascend quickly. Nataku stays, as he is able to breathe underwater if need be. The ooze seeps toward the central waterhole, and its wall can no longer hold all of the collected water. It bursts, sending waves of pouring water all around. Nataku dismisses the wounded elemental and he returns to the surface.

The fort’s citizens and soldiers are enamored by the party. The well is now full of water again and within a short time the water will be re-purified. Nataku immediately avoids the gathering crowd and heads to the main operations hall. He hears the captivating sounds of Hanibaal’s cello, but it only irritates him as he looks back to see the bard hoarding the glory. Nataku receives payment from the grateful fortmaster, but the silver he requested is in the form of three ingots. He is informed that he can go to the silver mine and use the refinery equipment there to create the powder he needs.

As the bard Hanibaal and the rogue merchant Dalamar soak up the praise from the crowd, Nataku plans on leaving the next day for the mine. Where did Kathaalis and Asis go? Will the holy water be created? And if so, will it have any success in treating the curse?



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