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jameson (ST)

[Numenera] The Nightmare Switch

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"Arisi," Raiche warned, "Those doodads'll still be here after we take care of business. Stopping to play now might mean we lose folks. That doesn't win us repeat business."

,,

Keeping half an eye on her charge, Raiche moves around the room, looking for an exit.

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"Loathe as I am to poop our party, she speaks truth. Expedience is necessary." Alice looked with some regret and much curiosity on a crate full of glittery unknowns, before turning her attentions to potential exits or secret doors.

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The stairs up to the top level were across the room forcing the three women to weave through the tables to make a direct path. Several experiments appear to have been abandoned in progress, and on station cluttered with chemicals and various beakers, flasks, and the like also had an open notebook, the pages partial covered in a tight neat scrawl.

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Moving up to the third level the three found themselves in the midst of the clave's living quarters. Three alcoves to one side had beds, chests, and drawers, clearly meant as the priests' personal spaces. An open book rests atop one of the beds. A table cluttered with a meal abandoned unfinished split this space from a kitchen area and a small library and lounge.

,,

What they didn't find were the Aeon priests. Alive or dead, awake or insensate, the tower was well and truly abandoned.

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"Now...correct me if I'm not seeing something here," Raiche said slowly, looking around. "But this tower's under constant guard, and everyone seems to think they never came out. So unless they flew out..."

,,

She went to the window and looked out it, just to make sure.

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"...then where in cog-addled world did they go?"

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Raiche went from the window to the meal and hunkered down to have a closer look. Were the utensils lying placidly down like they'd been set, or amidst splattered food like they'd been dropped? And more importantly, how bad did it smell? How long had it been lying here?

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Arisi let Raiche investigate the priests personal items. "Perhaps there's a clue in the workshop? Maybe they activated a powerful numenera and are trapped somewhere, somehow causing the nightmares?"

,,

It wasn't the best of theories, but they had little enough to go on.

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Raiche found that the meal appeared to have been abandoned a few days before. The view from the front window showed only the town and the canal beyond it. Across the tower another window looked out to the desert. Peering out at the wastelands beyond Raiche could see the road out of the town and to the quarry where the town's namesake red stone was harvested. It was clear that the priests had quit the tower at least three days before, possibly four, and that they had done so of their own accord. Looking around the room her eyes once more fell to the journal left behind on one of the beds.

,, ,,

Meanwhile Arisi and Alice had returned to the laboratory level below. Searching among the various experiments they once more came to the note book left lying open at one of the benches. Reading into it the notes detail the various attempts to cure the sleeping malady. The last entry was four days before. Scattered on the table are leftovers of these attempts that had been set aside as failures. With a little time Arisi thought that she might be able to make some useful chems from the results, but it would take time, at least an hour, if not more.

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"The work of an apothecary is not mine, but I shall stand on guard, should you need it during these experiments." Alice took stock of the room - defensible points, anything that could slow the advance of an enemy.

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Raiche looked at the others, then shrugged and scooped up the book there and opened it. After scanning through a couple of random entries, she flipped it to the last few and read them to see if there were any clues about what had been going on here.

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Raiche flipped to the final page and found it dated from three days before. She took a breath and read ...

,,
,,

We leave tonight. Brogun's theory that the Facted Dome may be the cause of the nightmares seems more valid than anything I or Grak have put forth. We have decided to leave under the cover of night and not tell the town. Better for them to think we are hard at work, than to fear that we will abandon them. The Dome is a full day's travel to the northwest through rough terrain, and I must admit that I worry about the trek as much as what it will mean if we fail to find the source of the plague.

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Reading back Raiche finds entries detailing various attempts to create cures. Further back there is entry that marks the first night with the nightmares, nearly two weeks prior.

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"You could say that."

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Raiche goes over to Alice and shows her the journal page.

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"They pretty much said straight out where they were going and how long ago. And...how to get there."

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She taps the page, then waves Arisi over.

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"Anyone up for a little trip?"

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"Well, this far we have come. Several dozen nautical miles is a trifle compared to a small trip across land. But perhaps discretion is the better part of valor, and mayhaps we should stock up on supplies first, and see what numenera comes of this room?"

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Raiche lifts an eyebrow, then thinks about the treasure trove downstairs.

,,

"I guess Arisi would never forgive me if I dragged her out of here without letting her see what those guys were fiddling with down there. Alright, I guess we can spare the time for that."

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Arisi gave Raiche a small smirk. "That and whatever they were working on might just be something we need to get to them or take care of whatever's going on once we get to where they are."

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She trooped back downstairs ahead of the others and methodically went through the workroom, looking for generally useful numernera and hoped for a few that might be actually directly related to the issue at hand. As flighty as she could be at times, she was serious and focused during her walk-through. The prospect of getting out of the city - and thus maybe a good night's sleep - was appealing, but she wondered what could have happened here to have started the whole problem to begin with.

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Arisi's careful examination of the experiments yielded some return. Amid the experiments were three compounds that the priests had created and abandoned. Using the laboratory's journal it was quick work to identify the effects and the intended purpose.

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The first was a powder, greenish-grey in color, that the priests had hoped would restore alertness and mitigate the effects of the lack of sleep on the citizenry. The second was a clear yellow liquid in an injector device. The notes stated that the priests had compounded it early on when they had believed the condition to be a disease; a theory which they later disproved. The last was a vial of purple liquid that the priests had hoped would create a deep slumber beyond the reach of the nightmares. While it had worked in the first regard, it had failed in the latter.

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The remainder of the experiments were not far enough along to yield useful compounds, and the notes suggested that when the priests had chosen to leave to follow up on Brogun's theory about the Faceted Dome they had also ceased any work in progress at that time. Armed with their findings the three now faced the decision on how to proceed.

,,
stuff
The first powder is a level 4 restorative cypher that when consumed will restore 1d6+2 points to the users Speed pool.

The injector contains a level 3 poison serum that will make it easier to resist disease by two levels of difficulty.

The liquid is a level 5 poison that will put the imbiber to sleep for 1 hour. ,,

Please let me know if anybody goes over their Cypher carry limit so I can determine if there are any untoward consequences.

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I haven't had occasion to use any of my cyphers yet, so taking on another will put me over limit. Mine include an injector and a crystal headband, the former protecting me from cold and the latter acting as a universal translator.

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Raiche doesn't seem terribly interested in the chemical goo that Arisi finds, but offers to carry something. Since she used her numenera up getting through that door, she's pretty sure she can safely stash something in her bag without it reacting with anything else and sucking them into a vortex or turning them all magenta or something.

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"Hmmm." Alice eyes the speed-enhancing powder. "It's dangerous to carry too many. I bear upon myself a translator crystal that opens one's mind to the breadth of all language, and a pill that protects oneself from the touch of Mother Winter herself. Would anyone be interested in these?"

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"I'll take the translator!" Arisi piped up immediately, looking so much like a child in a sweets shop. She traded with the others and filled her own bags up with new little friends, being careful not to overcrowd them. "Off to find the priests now?"

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Numenera
Arisi will happily trade either of the numenera on her (the beam one and the mind scrambler), if either of you wants those, and will most definitely want the translator. She'll also take the poison from the workshop, so that leaves her with one open slot. If people don't want either of her original ones, she'll keep the beam. Sorry for the long delay. Things are starting to settle down and should be back to something resembling sanity soon!

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Alice places the translator carefully on the table and takes the speed booster. "Cyphers. You have none right up until you do, and then you've too many to carry in good safety. Ah, is that not the way of the world, though? Feast and then famine."

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Raiche chuckles at that, and takes the restorative cypher.

,,

"Lets go find these priests. With any luck, they'll have figured something out about the nightmares by now."

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The three swiftly exited the tower and informed Deymish if the situation. He agreed to stay pat, convinced by Korch's continued condition as by the dire news about the clave's inability to find a solution on their own. "I do be hoping you find them and a solution to this mess. Going without sleep is something I do as a captain, but even my endurance has its limits."

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Moving to the other side of the enclosed tower a path, narrow and winding, but well maintained and not overgrown, led to the far wall of the enclosure and there they found a rope ladder up and over the wall and beyond the town limits. The desert here was stony and scattered with stunted plants that clung to the shadow of the wall. Though several days old some faint tracks could be located in the crushed vegetation and shallow dirt.

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Several hours later and fifteen miles into the desert the evening's cool air was fighting a losing war to exhaustion as they plodded toward the northwest. During what remained of the day the Faceted Dome mentioned in the journal had been visible in the distance after only an hour of travel. Sparkling on the horizon like a distant gem the three had abandoned looking for tracks and simply made a line for that distant signpost. With nightfall they had been forced to navigate by the stars, relying on Alice's experience on seas of water to make their course on this sea of sand.

,, ,,
soo very tired
Intellect defense check level 3 (TN 9)

to avoid falling asleep

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In the morning Raiche packed up her things quickly, then took a moment to climb up a rise and get a look at the distant, but approaching, monument.

 

"It's...kind of pretty," she remarked, shading her eyes. "I wasn't expecting it to be so pretty. Strange to think it could be causing all this trouble."

 

She hopped down again...as spry as she had been the day before. The lack of sleep didn't seem to be troubling her, despite this being her second missed night in a row.

 

"Do you think it's an attack, or some kind of accident?"

 

The question wasn't directed at anyone in particular, though Raiche did try to catch Arisi's eye after asking it. She -was- the resident expert on numenera after all.

 

(OOC - [salmonMax] 5:57 pm: And while I'm at it, a die roll for Numenera.
[salmonMax] 5:58 pm: Burning a point of effort with intellect pool...
[salmonMax] 5:58 pm: So the TN is 6...
SalmonMax *rolls* 1d20: 15: 15
[salmonMax] 5:58 pm: Well poot. Oh well. )

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"The most delicate of blossoms often hides the most insidious of poisons," remarks Alice, stopping in her tracks for a moment. "Goodness, but it's dry. I'll just need a - give me a - " She trailed off, as she faceplanted.

 

OOC

1d20=5

That's a flub!

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A pause in their travel was all it took. Raiche, being part machine, had stamina to spare, but Alice and Arisi were only human. One moment wakefulness was held in a tentative grip, the next it fled taking consciousness with it.  The nightmare began almost immediately, a torture of sights, sounds, and sensations that the human mind could not process, let alone comprehend.  After moments in the real world, which seemed like ages in the dream, things changed however, Arisi was still in the grip of the nightmares, her struggling, whimpering, and the sweating made it clear.  Alice however calmed, still she seemed in distress, but it was no longer the same, no longer the thrashing and crying out of a true nightmare.

 

So I'm just stating that Arisi passes out as well.



Both Alice and Arisi lose 3 intellect points from the nightmares.

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Alice staggers to her feet, looking irritated. "I look forward greatly to being able to catch winks and enjoy them without that damned drumbeat of nightmares." She readjusted her hat. "But they were useful ones."

 

"A machine, I did spy, and in this machine there was a space, empty as a beggar's pocket. And a cylinder, glowing from deep within, laced with couplings and the like. This may be fever dreams or may be something more, I know not which."

 

She attempted to rouse Arisi from her nightmares.

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It took a few minutes, but Alice was able to coax the slight woman from her nightmares. She sat on the ground, shivering and wiping the tears from her face, breathing deeply. After calming herself a little more, she set about making a meal for the three of them - anything to distract herself. She eyed the signpost they'd been headed towards. "Hopefully we can get this done today. I don't know how much longer I'll be useful at all. My head feels like it's stuffed with rotten cotton already."

 

Her small numenera that mended her clothes and did other small tasks for her creeped out of her pack and climbed onto her shoulder, making worried little clacking noises at its owner. It reached up a curved talon-limb and rubbed Arisi's cheek, trying to chirp soothingly. Arisi leaned her head towards it absently and it climbed into her hair, settling itself in a makeshift hammock of hair just behind her ear. 

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Whatever had been changed in Raiche's body, her appetite wasn't diminished for it. She helped herself to Arisi's cooking appreciatively, but gave the nano a worried look as she finished.

 

"Normally I'd say get some rest, but...yeah. Lets get this done."

 

She looked over at the distant crystal dome.

 

"Any ideas about what's in there? Maybe the nightmares are a clue or something?"

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A few minutes rest, eyes closed, but making no attempt to sleep, and Alice was feeling more hale by far.  The cobwebs clouding her mind cleared and she felt ready to push on through dusk and into the night to get to the dome.  Several hours later, nearing midnight, they arrived at the Faceted Dome.  

 

The dome was huge, nearly twenty feet to the top and over a hundred feet across, there was little wonder how it could be seen so easily from so far off in the flat wastelands.  Walking around the dome the three were confronted with an odd site; the dome had no obvious entrance.  Made up of triangular sections of white crystal the dome was otherwise uniform from the outside.  Searching via moonlight and the light of torches and glowglobes the group eventually found signs of a fight; churned dirt, dried blood, a few pieces of broken weapons and torn clothing, and many tracks.

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"Pfah. No fortress is impenetrable! We need only to find a crack, or a key, or a clue." Alice knelt next to the signs of a fight, examining the evidence. "Fighting each other would have gained them no access, so why did they turn on each other... hmmm."

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"Might not have been fighting each other," Raiche muses. "Maybe something came out after them."

 

She puts a hand on the smooth crystal surface of the dome.

 

"Too bad I used that numenera wall-eater stuff. I mean, I don't regret it, but it'd sure come in handy now."

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OOC
Rolling against TN 9. (1d20=4)
That's a fail.
 
She gives an A for effort, but Alice seems no closer to deciphering the events that occurred here than before.

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"They might also have been hallucinating or gone crazy from the nightmares," Arisi said quietly. "I don't suggest we sleep near here unless we just fall over." She rubbed at her temples, her head still aching from her own ill dreams, and studied the patterns on the ground. Whatever had happened, knowing might give them the advantage they needed to survive this place and resolve whatever was causing the dream terrors. 

 

Roll
[Malachite] 2:18 pm: Hey.
Malachite *rolls* 1d20: 15: 15

Success!

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While Arisi and Alice examined the signs of battle, Raiche focused on the dome's substance. She tapped it with a finger, then the butt of her spear to see how hard it seemed. She looked for any signs of cracks or crevices or other indications that one piece of it might be able to slide or move.

 

Perception.

 

[salmonMax] 5:03 pm: Hello all
[Jeremy] 5:04 pm: Hey Max
SalmonMax *rolls* 1d20: 20: 20
[salmonMax] 5:04 pm: Bwah

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Alice and Arisi studied the ground, the tracks, and remains that had been left behind.  Alice, so far from her usual haunts in the western ocean, was at a loss, but Arisi began to gather small items, a scrap of torn clothing here, a tuft of white hair here, a small stone dotted with blood, a broken spear haft.  Each of these built a story in her mind that led to  singular conclusion.  The aeon priests had indeed come here, and in the middle of their work they had been ambushed by margr.  Margr were abhumans that were native to this region, twisted mixtures of man and some old world creature that some called a "grote".  The savage Margr appeared to have slain at least one of the priests and captured the others, for use as slaves or for later use in their cookpots.  

 

Meanwhile Raiche paced the dome, inspecting the triangular sections, looking for sign of entry.  There were no obvious controls. Nothing that was clearly a door.  Aside from the angle changes at each edge of the trianglar facets there was no seam, no joint, no sign that the dome was anything but a single solid piece of whatever material it was formed from.  The material itself resisted Raiche's attempts to produce a scratch or gouge.  Dejectedly she leaned against the dome, watching Arisi and Alice pace out the scene and thinking, "How do we get inside?"  Without preamble or warning the panel she rested against became intangible and she fell backwards through the section and into the dome.  

 

Inside the dome was cool, but also humid and damp, in stark opposition to the dry outsides.  Plants of seemingly endless variety, in pots and planters of varying sizes, filled the dome keeping the air fresh.  Machinery rose from the artificial jungle; spinning turbines, rotating hemispheres, control banks and panels.  The floor under her feet was some kind of ceramic tile in a wide variety of hues.  

 

Turning to tall Arisi and Alice Raiche found the panel solid once more; an opaque white crystal just as it was outside.

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"I suppose we're overthinking it," said Alice as she sighed, taking her hat off to wipe her brow. "It's probably something blessedly simple." If she noticed the missing Raiche, she didn't say anything.

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Meanwhile, inside the thing, Raiche nearly went sprawling over the floor when the resistance she was expecting wasn't there. She caught herself and for a minute she was just lost, staring around in rapt wonder. She'd seen ruins of the old Ages of course, but this was the first time she'd had a glimpse of what they might have been like when they were still in their prime...maintained and functioning.

 

"Arisi, you HAVE to see this," she said. And that's when it hit her that she hadn't heard the others since the 'door' had opened.

 

Raiche looked around and immediately saw the problem. No door. The surface of the dome was still smooth and unbroken where she'd gone through.

 

She quickly hurried back to that spot and ran her hands over the inside curve of it. On finding it solid, she thumped her fist against it a couple of times. "Arisi?" she called. "Alice? Can you hear me?"

 

There was no response, or at least none she could hear.

 

Raiche poked at the inside of her cheek with her tongue. Well, that was a pickle. She turned to take in the inside of the dome again. Lots of plants. Some might be edible. The air was thick with water, so there was probably a cistern or reservoir around somewhere. Didn't seem to be any immediate danger.

 

She was mostly concerned that Arisi and Alice would wander off without her, or get into trouble while she wasn't there to help them.

 

With that in mind Raiche went back to the wall where she'd passed through and put her hands against the glassy surface there. Maybe it wasn't random, what happened? What had she been doing? Leaning against it...and thinking...

 

How do I get inside?

 

Nothing happened, until Raiche realized she WAS inside.She closed her eyes.

 

How do I get through?

 

The perfectly smooth surface melted away under her fingertips, and she stepped back out of the dome to look around.

 

Not far off were Arisi and Alice, still poking around looking for clues.

 

Raiche waved at them and called, "Hey! I found a way in!"

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