I’m sorry. The things we saw that day… they come back to me in my dreams. Dreams that sometimes overtake my waking mind. Like that poor, tortured creature that we… we just…
Like I was saying, we reached the bottom of the ladder and found ourselves in a chamber that was emanating a vacillating, greenish purple light. It was hard to think, and at the edges of my vision I thought I could see… things… but when I tried to look at them directly, there was nothing there. The light seemed to come from strange writings that covered the entirety of the domed vestibule. Leve tried to read the words written in those horrific hieroglyphs, and threw up. He said he couldn’t understand the writing quite yet, but he was on the verge. There was something terrible, yet beautiful… enticing… and very, very wrong about them.
Leve failed to read the writing, rolling against a Difficulty 5 (Challenging) intellect check, even after spending 2 intellect points to reduce the difficulty to 4 (Difficult).
Whether that awful skittering sound was in our imagination or not, we decided to keep moving, quickly delving further into the ancient complex to get further away from the ladder room. We went on, minute after minute, trying to keep our minds focused. The psychological muck that this place seemed to be giving off, made wading through your own thoughts and perceptions difficult… exhausting… like carrying a heavy pack through a bog. Occasionally, our thought processes would speed up jarringly, and our senses would perceive the cavern around us in startling detail and deafening volume. We heard a noise that was something between growl and scraping sound, coming from down a darkened side passage. Drawing our weapons, we went to investigate.
As we walked, we began to see something moving in the dark. We stopped when we saw, in terrible detail, an intelligent abhuman called a murden, caught in glistening, wormlike tendrils. They appeared to have the murden restrained, with their ends penetrating the murden’s body, pumping fluid in, and taking fluid out. Its eyes… I’ll see its eyes in my dreams for the rest of my life. And the thing is… the AWFUL thing is… murden are psychic, leaking their thoughts out around them. When we got close, we were given flashes of sensory input. Terrible images. Feelings. Pain. Terror. It was screaming. Screaming into our minds the taste of a madness born of a terror unthinkable.
Murden are villainous, deceitful, opportunistic creatures topside, but the creature we found here was no villain anymore. It was just a tortured sentient screaming to be saved, released from the hell of its current existence in that nest of horror, wormy tendrils reaching down its throat… its nose… ear holes… everywhere. This is where I lost my soul. Where we all lost our souls. We didn’t know how far out the tendrils could reach. We didn’t know if the tendrils felt our presence yet. We were scared. Terrified.
We left that poor thing there in the web of glistening tendrils. We left it there screaming, alone in the dark.
There was no roll involved here, ladies and gents. The decision to leave the creature in the clutches of the awful tendrils, alive, was one made unanimously by the players, in character, through role-playing. The bystanders watching us play appeared to both agree with, and loathe the decision. The players spent minutes trying to justify the decision, more to themselves than anyone else, methinks. The decision to explore the dark side-passage to see what was there, even though it was obvious that the way forward was the way onward, earned them XPs for discovery. When you’re playing Numenera, your GM will throw you little hints and clues that something is there to discover. Keep your wits about you while you’re playing or you could miss an opportunity like this.
Unexpectedly, it looks like there’s going to be more than four parts to this, based on how the scenes in the adventure played out. So…
…To be continued….
Numenera Story Style Review: Part 4