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NUMENERA: A WORLD OUT OF TIME Part Two The Workshop Of The Telescopes

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As soon as Firanis calls her order to run everyone grabs what they can and the group heads in the indicated direction. The flying object it's light still shining on the ground continues its circle in towards the camp. The group runs Gord grumbling about running from a fight, and when Bloom begins huffing an puffing from running,  Firanis calls a halt. Bloom falls to the ground out of breath and Gord approaches Firanis fully intending to give her what for for ordering them to run when  she starts to climb the dry bank to get a better look at the Flying object when the ground before her cracks and crumbles and she falls tumbling into a hole suddenly appearing in the dry riverbed!

Spoiler

You had to leave everything when you ran into the dark including the mounts... all you have is what you are wearing and what  you could have grabbed at hand

 

 

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The shock of a hard landing after an unexpected fall vibrated all the way up Firanis' remarkably long legs. Unable to retain her footing, she tucked into a rough tumble, curling herself around Goutro protectively, her shoulder hitting the ground forcefully before she could regain her feet. The saddlebags she had been carrying rolled to a stop a few feet away. She shook her head to clear it and looked around.

She was in a tunnel, roughly cylindrical, perhaps four of her paces across. Firanis considered the direction the tunnel traveled and believed it followed the dry riverbed above. She crouched and picked up a handful of the loose dirt lining the bottom of the tunnel and let it run through her hands. There was a sour bite of acid in the air, but it didn't seem harmful. At the moment.

<Out of sight of our airborn pursuer at least> Firanis thought at Goutro. She lowered him to the ground, then retrieved a length of rope from the pack that had remained secured to her back and a grapnel. She positioned herself just slightly off from directly below the she had fallen through and raised her voice in a sharp whisper that she hoped wouldn't carry further than her companions above her.

"Watch out. I am tossing up a rope. Secure it several feet from the hole in case the edges crumble further. There is a tunnel down here that seems to travel roughly in the direction we wish to go. and it will keep us out of sight of our pursuer. Send Bloom down first if he doesn't know how to climb a rope and lower him."

<Cyrix, the fall is about, say twenty feet. If you can drop the distance without damage, you go last after unhooking my grapnel.>

"Don't activate any light sources until we have moved some distance from the hole, so we don't give the scout a beacon to latch on to."

 

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"Yes. Understood. Toss away. I'll secure it firmly. Move quickly. We all ran in fast - no - ran in haste, they may find our trail." Sparx immediately looks around for something firm to hook it onto, such as a large rock or an old tree.

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Into the hole the party drops and soon  they are on their way with Bloom complaining of the loss of our goods and animals.

"With out those mounts we will never make it to the tower before the moon turns" he whines.

<Silence! I detect a thought ahead, but I cant understand it...>

Goutro's thought cuts into very ones mind

at that moment ahead of them they hear a rumble and crunch of falling rock

Firanis scoots ahead a few paces and raises her light and peers into the shadowy darkness as the rest prepare themselves.

At first the light reveals nothing but then Firanis makes out what looks like movement at the edge of the shadow, she tries to make it out but unable to she steps forward and realizes that the shadow of the tunnel is no shadow but rather the mass of some large serpent like creature and that the movement she saw were the extremely long and dexterous tentacles surrounding the creatures maw!

Spoiler

SEE THE COMBAT THREAD

 

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Gasps of shock and fear, Bloom and the slave scurry back, Firanis slips her digging tool out of her Pouch while Gord sling a heavy bladed weapon off his back.

<I can hear it's thought but i cant understand them, which is impossible, thought transcends language>

The thing sort of coils several of the tentacles bring other numenera to bear when Sparx steps forward.

Sparx is uncertain if it can speak or is sapient, but seeing it holding a digging tool gives her pause.

"You speak?" she says. "You understand? Look." She holds her hands up, showing that they're empty. "Won't shoot first. Won't shoot you first. You understand?"

All of the numenera now point at Sparx and she prepares to defend herself flashes of electricity shooting between her fingers.

Then the voices come. Many, as if a half dozen speakers are all talking at once, the voices have a half dozen tonal ranges as if a choir.

"You...speak. I ...speak. We...speak. No one has spoke before. Why?"

The numenera drop. The tentacles focus on Sparx. Each one is about six to eight feet long and each one has a single eye and a mouth. The mouth has smaller thicker tentacles only a few inches long that operate like fingers. The voices issue from the mouths on the tentacles.

One of the numenera flares and the tunnels is filled with a soft light revealing the creatures bulk filling the space.

"Are you...Threat?"

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"Don't want to be. Rather run than fight. I'm not so good at speak though. Very good at running and fighting but not speaking." She looks to Firanis.

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Firanis glanced back, and after a moment, nodded. Having lived a mostly as a solitary wanderer since her mother died, Firanis didn't have a great way with words, but she didn't have Sparx's... eccentricities with speech either. Surreptitiously, she returned her Mining Beam cypher to her pouch and moved up to stand abreast with Sparx.

"We mean no threat or harm to you," Firanis reiterated, though she could see how that would be readily in the thoughts of many upon sighting the creature - it had been hers as well, initially. The creature was very large and its tentacles looked strong; it's pungent odor bit at the nose and it's multi-tonal, choral voice could have been disconcerting, though Firanis found it rather intriguing. "You are much larger than ourselves and your appearance startled us," Firanis explained. "We find ourselves in your demesne by accident."

Firanis withheld how that accident came about for now, less the creature use the reason to its own advantage. She made a show of looking around the tunnel than back at several of the creature's tentacle-eyes lurking above her. "You demesne seems well constructed and smoother than the land above. And since we find ourselves here, may we have leave to travel through your demesne that way," Firanis gestured beyond the creature, "until we come upon some other means to the surface? In return for a trade or favor for our trespass and the right of way, perhaps?"

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Unnervingly the tentacled eyes gaze at them all from all different directions. "I travel as well. I am Nox. You may accompany me or I can open the sky to let you return to the surface."  the eerie choir of voices sing to them.

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"Dangerous up there right now. Return possibly not a good idea. Hmmm. Though." She turned to the others, gesturing in the general direction of their goal. "Could return to the surface closer to where we need to be? Where they look not?"

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Firanis nodded back. "That is what I am hoping, Sparx," She inclined her head graciously to Nox. "We gladly accept your offer."

While the big creature shuffled around to continue its progress, Firanis stepped back to check on Bloom and Cyrinx, to make sure they were ready to continue their trek below the surface of the Ninth World. While taking an inventory of what supplies they had all managed to flee with, she asked the Mechanical Man if he was capable of accurately tracking their movement from here in relation to where the Workshop of Telescopes supposedly was, so they would be able to request Nox to help them return to the surface if their paths began to diverge significantly.

That done, Firanis moved back up to follow Nox just a step behind and to the side, her curiosity rising now that the encounter hadn't turned violent. She had never encountered a creature such as Nox before. "You have traveled far under the surface, Nox? You do so alone or are their others of your kind who aid you in your excavations, your digging?"

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Nox is silent for a time and simple turns and begins moving back down the tunnel. Some the party can hear the sound of the numenera cutting the rock and dirt ahead. movement slows to a slow walk. suddenly Nox's tail shudders and several of the tentacles with mouths and some with eyes sprout. the chorused voice echos in the tunnel. "I travel alone. the surface is unsafe for my kind. your kind usually seeks to exterminate us on sight. There are others but we do not travel together and rarely meet."

Goutro thinks on this for a while. "Do the surface dwellers attack you out of fear of the unknown or for some other reason?"

Nox pauses the eye stalks peering at the small alien. "My kind need others to procreate, this results in a painful gruesome demise of the others. but it is unavoidable we must survive and we must procreate."

Looks are exchanged.

"There is no need to worry I am not at the reproduction phase of my existence, none of you are in danger from me. There is a crystal formation ahead my tool will not carve it. We must deviate. Do you have a desired direction?

Firanis, after consulting with her fellows answers the friendly monstrosity. "North north west would be ideal for us if possible."

"All things are possible."

The strange troop travels for days. when the air gets stuffy Nox will drill small holes to the surface for ventilation. and several times he opens a way to the surface so food can be gathered by hunting. All in all it is a pleasant if uneventful journey. But eventually it ends.

Nox Stops. "There is a large conglomeration of men ahead many many men.I can feel the vibrations. I must Deviate."

Bloom steps up. "Is it a city? It could be the Workshops."

"I do not know but there are many many men."

 

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Firanis had heard of many different means of procreation, some exotic, some rather detrimental to a partner's well being. Though the being called Nox seemed to be accommodating for the moment and she was interested to learn more of his species, being confined in terrain that favoured it was beginning to make Firanis slightly uneasy.

So it was fortuitous when Nox made it's revelation and Sparx expressed her suggestion. Firanis glanced over at her companion and nodded in agreement. She considered, trying to estimate the distance and direction they had traveled underground, and believed they could be close to where they wanted to go.

"It seems like this could very well be where we want to be," she said. "Thank you for your aid, Nox, but we would not impose upon you any longer, nor risk you endangering yourself on our behalf. Could be travel with you for perhaps a hundred spans of distance after your deviation of course, before procuring for us egress to the surface? It would be preferred for us all that the men you sense do not see our return to the surface."

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