By way of quick reminder, our heroes:
- Junior, playing an Intelligent Jack who Carries a Quiver (Programming Note – prior to this session, Junior elected to change his focus to Controls Gravity.)
- The Princess, playing a Strong Glaive who Employs Magnetism
When last we left our heroes, they’d tracked the ring thief to a floating house northeast of Fasten. A small, unassuming brick building, the interior is substantially larger than the house itself appeared to be from the outside. In the foyer, a welcoming party emerges to engage the heroes. The PCs easily dispatch the threat and take a short rest. This is where we finished the 2nd session.
Junior and the Princess take turns listening at both doors leading from the foyer. From the west, where the robots had originated, they can hear a faint moaning noise. The eastern door is silent. Being the brave adventurers that they are, they elect to head East.
They walk for what seems like an hour. The corridor is impossibly long, the end never coming within sight. Junior turns and looks back over his shoulder. The doorway to the foyer is just a few feet behind, as though they’d just stepped into the corridor. Confused looks pass between Junior and the Princess. Eventually they realize that they need to walk backwards. The foyer recedes and their backs find the corridor’s end – a small, rounded door of oak.
The door opens onto a lush, sun-dappled forest. A wide path leads to an enormous marble fountain sitting in a clearing. Crystal-clear waters bubble and flow. It is a place of peace and serenity.
The Princess drinks. Junior, being suspicious of fountains by nature, abstains. In her backpack, Flip the cat starts getting restless, so the Princess pulls her out and lets her lap at the water too.
Junior wanders and notices that this is no ordinary forest. The trees, flowers, even the grass – everything is some kind of candy. He shares this observation with The Princess. When she tries to respond, she finds that her voice is gone. Instead she chirps like a bird. She tries again, and this time her words come out as a lion’s roar.
Sitting on the fountain’s edge, cleaning her face, Flip meows. Or tries to. Instead, a woman’s voice issues from her mouth. Flip startles, her hackles raised. Pandemonium ensues as the cat starts running laps around the fountain, cursing (in a PG way), while The Princess chases, trying to console her, instead making random animal sounds.
When nerves settle, the PCs realize that they can still communicate through the cat’s collar – The Princess sends her thoughts to Flip, who then voices them to Junior. The Princess can still understand Junior just fine.
They agree to continue down the path. Along the way, the Princess stops to sample a licorice flower. Junior shakes his head. The Princess shares with Flip. “Please, no,” the cat protests. The Princess forces candy into Flip’s mouth. “I shall poop on your pillow this night,” the cat promises. The Princess doesn’t take kindly to this. Making monkey sounds, the Princess puts Flip in her backpack and zips it shut.
Eventually they come to a small cabin. It, too, is constructed of candy. “Looks like Hanzel and Gretel,” Junior says. “Don’t touch anything.”
Minding her brother, The Princess breaks a piece off the candy cane mailbox and eats it. She gives some to Flip, too, who protests only a little this time. Mostly, Flip is grateful to get out of the stuffy confines of the backpack.
A stooped, elderly old man answers the door. The Princess trumpets like an elephant by way of greeting.
The old man smiles gently. “She drank from the fountain? Her voice should return in a day. As long as she didn’t eat from the candy forest.”
“Have no fear – in that case, it will be a week, but nothing permanent. That is, unless, she sampled my house.” The old man squints at the Princess. She smiles broadly.
Sighing heavily, the old man invites them inside. The only way she can recover her voice is by retrieving the pedals of a rare blue flower that grows in an oasis on the desert plains not far from the cabin. None that have gone in search of the flower have ever returned, he warns them, for its guardian is fierce.
They follow a bubbling chocolate river to a two-hundred foot cliff. The climb is arduous and the going slow, but with Junior’s new levitating abilities, they eventually crest the top. The desert stretches to the horizon, stark and bleak. Not far away they see gently swaying treetops.
The oasis is situated in a valley. A ring of tall, thick trees encircle a clearing at the bottom. And there, in the center, is the blue flower. There is no sign of the guardian. Junior floats, cross-legged, over the treetops and down into the clearing. Still no sign of the guardian. He drops rocks randomly into the forest. Nothing moves.
The flower stands over five-feet tall, with a stem as thick as Junior’s wrist. He grasps the flower and pulls but it scarcely budges. An ear-piercing roar shatters the tranquility of the valley. The treetops start to bend and sway as though some massive creature is approaching. Junior pulls harder but the flower still isn’t budging.
Spindly tree roots pluck free from the earth and stamp the ground like giant webbed feet. Hundreds of feet churn dirt as the circle of trees unfurls. It is like a giant centipede made of bark and branch and leaf. The face of the largest tree orients itself to the valley’s center. Bark shifts as black eyes open, and a great, toothy maw appears. It roars again, blowing Junior’s hair back. And then the guardian comes for him, claw-like branches bent forward, reaching.
Panicking, Junior strains and pulls. The flower rips free, roots and all. Junior zooms into the sky. Or tries to – the flower is heavy, dragging him within reach of the guardian. He dodges half-a-dozen swipes and crests the valley. The Princess is gone, sprinting, already halfway back to the cliff. Junior flies after her. The ground shakes and sand explodes into the sky as the guardian pulls itself out of the valley.
The guardian is big and slow to reorient, but when moving in a straight line its speed is terrible. It is nearly on top of Junior by the time he reaches the cliff.
The Princess has already started her descent. She slips. Hands blindly grasping, she starts to slid down the face of the cliff. Junior tosses the flower over the side and flies to her aid. He reaches her in time and supports her weight as she continues to climb down.
A great cloud passes before the sun, raining dirt and debris upon them. The guardian seems poised over thin air for the briefest of moments, its many legs flailing at nothing. And then, as the hind quarters push it ever forward, the tree-monster falls. Junior grabs the Princess and pulls her sideways. The guardian reaches for them as it passes. And then it’s gone. Branches and limbs shatter upon impact. The guardian stirs, but is unable to rise from the river’s shallows.
Reaching the ground, Junior heroically finishes the guardian off with a trio of arrows from a safe distance. They recover the flower and return to the old man’s candy hut. The old man heard the commotion and is frankly surprised to see them alive. He is delighted when he sees they brought not just a single pedal, but the entire plant, and quickly brews a potion to restore The Princesses’ voice. Flip pleads when it is her turn, wanting to keep her voice, but the Princess is firm. “A cat should talk like a cat. Besides,” she adds by way of consolation, “we can still talk with your magic collar.” She forces the potion down the cat’s throat and all is restored to how it had been.
They thank the old man for his help and return to the round door by the fountain, and from there, back to the foyer. Howls emanate from the western door, and they are loath to see what makes that horrible sound, but there is no where else to go.
This session was from about 2 months ago, so some of the finer details are a bit fuzzy at this point. The kids had a great time and have been clamoring for more Numenera.
This was entirely ad lib, I had no plans thought up for what was inside the house. I wanted to show some weirdness, hence the disparity between the size of the house inside versus out. And then the dimension door to the candy forest. I kinda wanted to take something fairy-tale like and flip it around a bit. The kids got a kick out of it.
The tree monster was something I just came up with. I pegged it as a difficulty 9. It was well outside of their weight class and they were never meant to fight it, just run. Good thing that handy cliff was there (again, unplanned). It was pretty close, mostly because Junior kept rolling horribly to get that plant out of there. Even using effort, he kept rolling really poorly.
We played a few weeks after this session, so I’ll be posting that one soon!