4/12/2021 IRL. November 1,1921 IG.
- John Stickman. Rugged and tough veteran of the Tellurian War, armed and armored.
- Dorothy Gale. Former prisoner of war, weirded with a metal arm and occasional manifestation of animalistic teeth while under stress. Accompanied by her faithful German shepherd Toto, a well-trained glamour sniffer.
They crackle out of the gate in the Between, a strange ruined area between realms. Looking around, they met Caretaker Bickle, a deep gnome. When Prince Gatlas was killed by the Tellurians (including Stickman and Gale), Bickle failed to protect his prince, so he was bound to the curse and must meet them in this space when they go between worlds. He cannot kill them, and they cannot kill him.
The adventurers scouted the dim ruinfinding a statue of Gatlas and checking out the greenery overgrowing it. They used Toto’s sniffer to their advantage, and eventually found the gateway in the fountain that would provide an exit–just not an exit to Telluria.
The Traveler’s Gate
The adventurers emerged through a blaze of light in the setting sun, through a cleft in a mountaintop. A faun, Glaman, was waiting there for insight as he often did, and got them instead. Cheerful, he invited them to join him in his boat and cross the water to Shellville. The disoriented adventurers agreed, following him down the treacherous stairs to where his boat was moored. Along the way, Glaman pointed out weird spider-centaur creatures that watched them, calling them skittern and observing that they keep the peace.
The voyage across the waters was brief, and Glaman could not take them directly into Shellville as only the followers of Ostrum the Traveler could overnight in town. They could be identified by blue paint on their faces, stripes under their eyes. Instead, Glaman took them to nearby caves where visitors could stay under the observation of the lurking skittern.
Entering the spacious and echoing cave, Gale and Stickman met a fellow Tellurian traveler. Nulin was in Shellville looking for a curse-breaker. A harpy cursed him so he could not experience pleasure from beauty or art, and he felt barely alive. He was following up on leads that a Tuatha De Danaan, an elven princess named Nykla, sometimes visited Shellville. Nulin offered to show them around Shellville in the morning, and the adventurers looked forward to it.
His assistant Naria was a mixed blood, Tuatha de Danaan and Tellurian, and she was making his travel easier. She was studying magic, and impatient to move on, but Nulin was sure there was a clue here in Shellville to break his curse.
Nulin’s other assistant was Yinger, a creepy fey woman who fed on curses and bonded to him somehow. She was sometimes helpful with the locals or providing lore. She offered to taste their blood and bond with their curse, but the adventurers declined.
Looking around the cavern, the adventurers also spotted three redcaps keeping an uncomfortably close watch over them. Another camp was Lord Bloss, a wealthy and massive goblin who was a leader during the war and was now looking to enjoy art and travel, trying to put the war in the past.
Setting up their fancy gnome hammocks, the adventurers passed a fairly comfortable night.
Nulin used his experience from visiting the town for a couple weeks to show them around, and they met many notables. The townsfolk didn’t expect money, they shared food and services and art out of their extra.
The adventurers met the fey and Tellurian proprietors of the shell-sculpted theater, discovering their guide Glaman from the previous day was also a costumer and set decorator. He was happy to make them some new clothes. Stickman offered some art direction on a Tellurian backdrop for a play, helping the fey get a better grasp on things like cars and skyscrapers. Gale also offered her singing talent, which was certainly not what the Ostramites were used to.
After a refreshing lunch at the Seatable, eating all manner of delicious sea food in a building fashioned out of giant shells, Biggans (an Ostramite who ran the restaurant) told them there was a carriage-sized crab nearby that they could hunt for food if they wanted to assist. The adventurers agreed, going out on a brief expedition. The Ostramites flushed the crab, and the Tellurians gunned it down.
A fey scout, Panek, reported that Princess Nykla had been spotted in the area and might stop by Shellville. Yinger was confident that the much larger curse burdening Gale and Stickman would draw her in.
The Elf Princess
After a feast showcasing the carriage crab, feeding the whole community, the adventurers were allowed to stay in town pending the elf princess’s visit. Sure enough, Princess Nykla’s boat gleamed in the moonlight, drifting to a halt on the shore. She tucked the boat into her shadow, then visited the Traveler’s Temple.
While she was inside, Noblet the ogre said if the adventurers could persuade or provoke the princess to sing, he would go along personally to assure a safe trip to their next destination; otherwise, he would send Panek along on their trip, on behalf of the Starshell Guild of local explorers. The adventurers didn’t like that risk, and instead waited for the princess to focus on them. Their curse was sure to draw her attention.
Sure enough, she approached Stickman, Gale, and Nulin. First she focused on Nulin, and told Yinger to seek out Melleyard. Then she turned to the adventurers, concentrating. Their curse was too dire for Melleyard to resolve, but if they assisted Nulin, they could get a step closer to breaking it.
Having discharged that task, she retrieved her boat from the shadows, and continued her voyage. The Tellurians returned to the cave for the night.
4/19/2021 IRL. November 3, 1921 IG.
Stickman and Gale agreed to go with Nulin to find Melleyard. Yinger needed to concentrate overnight to figure out Melleyard’s location; apparently she was a harpy with a nasty little flock (a “screech” of harpies) that frequented the Traveler’s Lands. The Tellurians were unsettled by the intense scrutiny of the redcaps.
Preparing to Go
The next day they returned to Shellville. Yinger explained that to find Melleyard, they would need to travel to the Dronechambers, crystalline caves up in the mountains with peculiar resonant properties as well as natural beauty.
The Tellurians decided to spend another day getting ready so they could leave on the following dawn. They got sturdy boots made by the costumers, to replace their somewhat dilapidated military issue. Panek arranged for them to borrow a couple small riverboats, and she agreed to guide the expedition. They chatted with the friendly Ostramites, exchanging art and chores. After a long and pleasant day in town, they returned to the caves for the night. The redcaps were nowhere to be seen.
After a short hike to the river bank, they loaded the boats and traveled along the river, fortunately going with the current. Panek told them stories of the many hazards along the way; the buzzfeeders that pounced on unwary travelers in the badlands, the Moonsheperd who tended the ripples of light on the river, and the Riverfin, a giant river monster that was riled up recently and might feel aggressive if it noticed them.
They were warned, but that didn’t provide comfort when they saw the lazy fin breach the surface. The river monster noticed them, and charged the boat, capsizing Gale and Stickman. While Stickman desperately tried to right the boat and save as many supplies as possible, Gale was torn from the hull and dragged through the river.
Desperate, Gale opened up her fey-twisted metal arm, tearing at the Riverfin’s flank and gills as she kept a tight grip on her rifle. The supernatural drain of the arm, combined with its blade-sharp claws, mauled the river monster; it shook her off and escaped, having lost its belligerence and appetite. Battered by the parting tail swipe, Gale struggled back towards the boat, and was pulled to safety by Stickman.
The Badlands Crossing
Regrouping, the expedition continued up the river to the badlands. They managed to avoid the buzzfeeders, and they finally closed in on the road marker: this way to the Dronechambers.
5/3/2021 IRL. November 4, 1921 IG.
As Gale and Stickman protected the expedition, following Panek along the path to the Dronechambers, they were intercepted by one of the Kellsek harpies. They explained they had come to see Melleyard. The harpy insisted the screech controlled the Dronechambers for a month, they had skittern permission! Grudgingly, the harpy went to check with Melleyard, to see if the harpy leader would meet with the Tellurians.
The Curse-Breaking Harpy
The harpy soon returned, and led them into the Dronechambers. The dark and echoing chambers were crusted with crystalline growths. Melleyard was perched on a giant crystal. She agreed to break Nulin’s curse–if Stickman and Gale would assist in her effort to form the Chime Guardian, a resonant beast said to be dissipated in the ambient energy of the Dronechambers.
Melleyard would need the mapsense that Stickman had mixed into him, grounding him in the Traveler’s Lands. She would also need to use the fey limb on Gale, as a catalyst for the frequency and energy she was using to resonate with the crystals. How would that help Gale and Stickman with their curse? Melleyard said the Chime Guardian could create a resonance to open a gate to the next stage of their journey, a step closer to breaking the curse. Reluctantly, the Tellurians agreed.
Nulin offered them whatever he could as a reward for their assistance with breaking his curse, and they appreciated that but did not have an immediate price in mind. Nulin positioned himself, and Melleyard used complex resonances and harmonies, boosted by her screech. The crystals lit up with a strange glow, and the curse on Nulin was dissipated, leaving him a weeping wreck suffused with relief.
The Chime Guardian
Melleyard repositioned her screech, instructing the Tellurians to place their hands on the crystal beneath her claws. She connected the three of them, and the crystal, with subtle tones from her throbbing throat.
In that interconnected consciousness, Stickman got a strange insight into a moment that was branded into Gale’s heart; the sensation of smoke, flames, a plane crash: Gale’s fiancee, Hank, was a barnstormer. His plane crashed, she cradled his dying body–
The eldritch cast of the tones resonated from Gale’s fey limb, thoroughly grounded with the authority of Stickman’s mapsense. Mellyard was able to focus through those filters to condense an ambient presence. The Chime Guardian took form, a dragon-sized scaled creature, iridescent and beautiful yet alien and terrifying. The song shared by the trio through the crystal bound the Chime Guardian to the harpy’s will, at least temporarily.
Shaking with exhaustion, Melleyard made good on her promise. The Chime Guardian was capable of vibing with the curse energies on Stickman and Gale. The Chime Guardian concentrated, ringing a strange tone, and the lake formed a glassy portal.
Nala balked at going through, as she sensed profound darkness on the other side. Yinger would only go if bonded, and the adventurers declined to participate in that kind of weirdness. It was time to part ways.
Breaking the Seal
After brief goodbyes, Gale and Stickman leaped into the portal. They bounced out in the Between, where Bickle was alarmed by the seismic trembling through the world. A tree cranked back, with a portal gaping below its torn roots.
Steeling themselves, the adventurers leaped in.
They burst out the other side of the portal in a spray of dust and gravel, obscuring their surroundings. The heat and humidity were suffocating, and they could not see through the fog of dust. Staggering out of a narrow room, they found themselves atop a step pyramid, surrounded by thick jungle, as the sun sank…