Join Alex, Helen, Bryn, Lydia, and Ben as they navigate familiar tunnels and unfamiliar foes. This week Cel makes shocking traps, Hamid prepares a tip, Azu hopes to be mistaken for a stall, and Zolf would never freak out.
Hamid and Azu, hiding behind the overturned market stall, are watching as the blue-veined creature makes its way through the doorway. It looks like a corpse or skeleton that has been taken over by glowing blue plant matter. The creature is 'looking' at them, but has no eyes in its exposed skull. It clicks as it moves, echolocating, and small blue sparks are emitted from it to the metal grating. Where it goes, small blue clover-like plants grow. It is hunched, but looms over Azu and Hamid. Its arms appear elongated and are fully integrated with the plant matter. Hamid asks Azu in a whisper whether they should hide or flee.
The creature reacts to the sound of the whisper, clicking. It creeps towards them as they freeze and keep completely still. The creature grabs a rat, from which blue plant matter then grows. The rat runs away, trailing plant matter. The creature then slowly examines the market stall as Azu stays still. Hamid quietly takes a single coin from his bag of holding, and keeps it at the ready to throw far away from them to make a noise distraction. Hamid and Azu wait quietly, and a second clicking sounds from further away. The first creature reacts to the clicking and its head rotates 180 degrees and its joints invert themselves as it crawls away, clicking, from the market stall towards its... friend? back in the tunnel. Once the creature has gone, Azu very slowly steps away from the stall, and Hamid floats back down to the ground. Hand in hand, they creep away from the tunnel.
Zolf, heading down, can see that all the doorways into Other London are closed. Further down, there are signs of habitation- signs on walls and so on. He finds the doorway to the Other London market space, and hears a clicking sound reverberating around the space. He opens the doorway and can see abandoned market stalls in the dark cavern, recognising this place as where the party was accosted during their initial investigations into The Simulacrum. Zolf is aware of someone or something moving around in the market space; Azu and Hamid, who are in the market space, also get the feeling they are not alone. Azu readies her axe.
Cel ascertains that their new friend speaks English. The shadowy figure replies that they need to lose the light. Their face comes more into focus, and they appear to be a grizzled, older half-ogre, who is very large even for their ancestry. They have a messily shaved head and are wearing filthy but practical western European clothing. His coat is of tight-fitting leather and he is wearing leather gloves. He has a kindly face despite his rather looming appearance. Cel states that they have decided to trust him because he has nice eyes, and the figure, concerned, replies that it's happened again. He gets out a note and places it on the floor before backing away. Cel reads the note, recognising their own handwriting:
- 1. You have been exposed to a form of obliviate moss
- 2. You are experiencing severe but temporary memory loss
- 3. I know this is true; I'm the one that did the research
- 4. This is Gragg. Gragg's pretty cool
- 6. No sign of the others yet
- 7. If all of this is news to you, I'd listen to Gragg
Cel's signature is at the bottom.
[Editor's note: The non-sequitur in the numbering may have been a mistake from Alex or may have been to indicate Cel's memory starting to go.]
After reading the note, Cel says it's great to meet Gragg again, before dousing the torch. Gragg then passes Cel a hooded lantern, and pockets the letter again. Gragg says they should debrief at the inn, and Cel chats with Gragg. He tells them to not talk too loudly, and gives mostly short answers. He tells them to avoid loud noises and bright lights, that he's Gragg, that he'll tell them more at the inn (where there's food), and that they're in Other London. Cel asks how long they've been in other London, and Gragg replies that he found Cel three days ago, and that they seemed confused and were looking for their friends, but didn't seem malnourished. Cel remarks that Gragg seems very on it, and asks if they have any games they use to pass the time. Gragg replies that poetry is a common pastime. He takes a moment, closes his eyes, and recites as they walk along (clicking is heard in the distance):
So, we'll go no more a roving
So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
By the light of the moon.
[Lyd says here that Cel would have some experience of poetry and literature: they know a couple of Elvish poems their mother made them learn in attempt to connect with Elvish culture, and that they probably know some humorous and romantic poems that they shared with their fiancee and later their husband.]
Cel recognises the poem as coming from the western European tradition, and that the style is quite a new one; the poem probably comes from a living poet, although they're not sure which. They make their way back to the inn in this way.
Back in the marketplace, there is a particularly loud sinister clicking, and a creature emerges on a high walkway, bathing the space in dim blue light. It is just enough that Zolf, Azu and Hamid can all see each other; Zolf is at the other end of the cavern from Azu and Hamid. Zolf points confusedly at the creature, and Azu and Hamid gesture that he should stop moving. The creature, clicking, navigates the walkway then crawls down the high wall, then flexes its way through a bunch of pipes, leaving bent pipes behind it. Zolf, Hamid and Azu navigate to each other, and Zolf asks after Cel. They agree to go look for them, and Zolf asks which direction the other two have come from. Hamid points back towards the tunnel, and Zolf suggests they search for the others in a different direction.
At that point Hamid receives another Sending, again in that weird, hissing voice: "We'll convene your party soon. Avoid the lights. You have friends here."
Cel has made it back to the inn. Gragg has made more perimeter traps, then locks up, and gestures for Cel to take a seat. Cel asks what they're been doing for the past three days. They are a little worried that they didn't make the traps themself, despite that being their area of expertise. Gragg asks them to help him with the cooking, and lights up the stove. Gragg explains that he found Cel in a large patch of 'memory moss', incapacitated. He dragged Cel from the moss and in the two days since that, Gragg has been helping Cel to cast wider and wider search patterns to find the others, with no luck. The traps are because the inn is one of the few bolt-holes that Gragg has. Cel and Gragg compliment each other's traps, then Gragg tells Cel he has some news. Something appears to be happening- the monsters are active, so somebody's down here. Cel says they intend to go and investigate, and try to find their friends. Gragg tells Cel that he's due a briefing today anyway, and that 'they'll' know more. Cel is still worried about their friends and wonders whether action or inaction is the best choice here. They ask Gragg if they're underwater and Gragg explains Other London.
Hamid responds to the sending, asking where they should convened and who the Sender is. He then explains to Zolf that he's been receiving these messages in a mysterious voice, with advice to avoid the light. Zolf suggests they stay put and hope to be found by people other than the monsters, and Hamid wonders if the Sender(s) have Skraak, Wilde (and Sumutnyerl). Zolf thinks this means they have infrastructure and are probably worth being found by. Zolf and Hamid bicker, and Azu remarks that Zolf is rather wet. Zolf, after a pause, merely agrees. He sits down.
After about an hour, Gragg packs up to go to the briefing, and suggests Cel does the same. He says 'they' wouldn't call for one unless something had happened, and that it might mean Cel's friends are here. Cel packs up and heads to the briefing with Gragg whom they trust.
Zolf notices that there's a distant tapping coming from a pipe. It doesn't sound like the sinister clicking, instead it is rhythmic. A well-constructed paper aeroplane suddenly appears at their feet, apparently thrown from over 60 ft away (the range of Zolf's darkvision, ~18 m). Zolf creeps over and carefully unfolds it. Zolf recognises Wilde's handwriting. It reads:
- "So good you could join us. (Zolf: So he's alright then)
- We're waiting at Barret's if you remember the way. (Zolf: The answer is no)
- Got some unusual friends. DON'T FREAK OUT!" (Zolf (mumbling): When was I going to freak out?)
Zolf crawls back and shows the note to Azu, and tells Hamid that it's from Wilde and that he doesn't know the way to Barret's. As Hamid tries to work out how to get there, they hear further rhythmic tapping on the nearby pipework, from the direction the paper aeroplane was thrown. As Zolf and Hamid bicker, Azu suggests they head towards the tapping sounds and they agree. They party heads towards the tapping, and it leads a route for them to the edge of the market then through a large thoroughfare downwards. They arrive at what's left of Barret's compound. The gate is closed but unlocked, and they hear tapping from within the perimeter. Something large is moving closer towards them from outside the perimeter. It's not clicking. The party heads into the perimeter.
Cel and Gragg make their way easily through Other London, taking some strange turnings to avoid 'beasties'. They arrive at a large, defensible compound. In the compound is a fortress-manor, and some very familiar silhouettes. Cel is reunited with Zolf, Hamid and Azu, and they all greet each other. Zolf and Hamid greet Gragg, saying they're friends of Sasha's and remind him of when they invented Keeesh together. Gragg says he's pretty certain he invented keeesh himself.
- Cel: "You know what, I'm going to make a decision, I'm going to make a decision to trust you, because I like your eyes." (The new friend looks concerned) "But, er, yeah"
- Gragg: "It happened again, didn't it, Cel"
- Cel: "Oh, OK, I'm gonna call that a sinking feeling"
- ―Cel meets Gragg.
- Cel: "So I, so I made some traps elsewhere, I didn't just leave you to make all the traps, because that seems a little..."
- Gragg: "Oh no, yeah, you're way better at traps than me, but-"
- Cel: (overlapping) "Oh- no- no, that's not what I was trying to say, it's just, y'know-"
- Gragg: (overlapping) "This- this is the first time we've slept here, which makes sense, why your memory might- might reset"
- Cel: (overlapping) "Right, right, OK, that makes some sense. I, I ju-... it wasn't that I think I'm, I'm better, it's just that I... you know, usually I would help, and so if I- if I didn't, you know (mumbles)-"
- Gragg: (overlapping) "No, you are, you're... much- my traps are shocking"
- Cel: ""Hah- well, you know, mine are often as well, but literally""
- Gragg: (overlapping) "Yeah but- yeah but yours are shocking in a good way..."
- Cel: (overlapping) "...Yes, literally shocking"
- ―Cel and Gragg discuss trapmaking back at the inn.
- Azu: "You're very wet, Zolf"
- Zolf: "..........................................................................Yeah."
- Hamid: "-oh"
- Azu: "...uhhhhhhhhhh..."
- Zolf: "....................Don't worry about it."
- ―Zolf refrains from explaining to Azu and Hamid how he got wet.
Dice rolls & mechanics
- Hamid's mage armor is likely still active.
- Hamid makes a successful Stealth check to take a coin from the bag of holding: 25
- Zolf makes a Perception check for the Other London market: 13
- Perception checks to detect other beings in the market space: Zolf (21), Hamid (29), Azu (22)
- Cel makes a Knowledge (history) check to recognise Gragg's poem: 27
- Hamid receives a Sending
- Perception check to notice distant tapping: Zolf (28, success), Hamid (20), Azu (16)
- Perception check for Barret's compound: Zolf (21), Azu (23), Hamid (17)
- The poem that Gragg recites is "So We'll Go No More A Roving" by Lord Byron (George Gordon), published in 1817.
- Alex recites the entire poem as Gragg, in an exceptionally deep, gravelly voice. The voice is all Alex and is not edited.