Continuing from our previous session of Strange Aeons, we seek the city of Neruzavin. We chance upon some giants out in the desert, and after our attempts to be diplomatic with the Gnolls a few weeks back, we decide that a full frontal attack is the best form of diplomacy. Possibly we aren’t so good at telling friend from foe as we’d like to think we are.
We wake in the morning well rested and well fed. After putting up our daily spells of flying and protection, we head off across the desert in formation. After a few hours of flight, we spot a cluster of large tents up against a set of desert hills. Deciding to check out what is there, we land so that the others can change from cloud form to solid, and Ray goes invisible and flies on ahead to investigate.
The tents are populated by ash giants, a couple of them talking out in the open. She could be their head priestess, Mother Grim Moon, follower of the dour god Groetus. As well as her, there are three other giants, and seemingly locked into a gully behind a crude wall of mud bricks is the largest scorpion any of us have ever seen. Indeed, it’s probably the largest creature any of us have seen.
After Ray returns and we are able to discuss what we want to do, we decide to attack. What we know at this point is that the ash giants are dangerous and unfriendly, so we decide that talking to them probably isn’t a good idea (we learned that lesson with the Gnolls). We could avoid them, but that leaves a potential threat behind us, and we’re probably getting close to where the city is, and therefore where we need to find a safe base camp.
We find a way around the side and come back up over the hills south of their encampment. It’s just above where the scorpion is (it really is colossal), with some cover from the giants. The plan is for me to lay down some ethereal shards near the scorpion to stop it getting out, and then try and possess the priestess before anyone else attacks. I’ll get her to drop her mace if I succeed.
The shards are easy, but when I try to possess her it fails. Even though she’s a giant, she’s quite strong willed. What is worse, she seems to be able to connect back to me and I hear her voice in my head:
At long last, the dreamers arrive. Survivors of Sarnath, delvers of darkness, seekers of the oasis, they who walked the sleeping forest and spoke to the Yellow King. You have walked upon the moon with footsteps that echo of the end times. Yes, yes, I have awaited you. Tell me of what you would do before the world dies.Mother Grim Moon
This leaves me somewhat shaken, and by the time I recover Ray has started dropping fireballs down on the camp, and the scorpion has decided to climb up the wall of the gully rather than going through the shards, and is almost on top of us. It grabs Erasmus, and Catiana steps in to try and help defend him.
One of the giants begins to dance, and giant scorpions start burrowing up out of the sand near to where Sheena has leapt down and run across to attack the cleric. Ray is casting spells at her, and Gregor uses his magic to rescue Erasmus from the massive scorpion. With it towering not far from me, I try shooting it with a crossbow, but the bolt simply bounces off its carapace.
You are the dream-walkers, the city seekers, the end stoppers.Mother Grim Moon
The cleric summons up a wall of burning sand between herself and Sheena and Ray, whilst Catiana continues to try to hold off the biggest scorpion with help from Gregor. I cast a spell to inflict harm on the creature, casting it through Catiana who lays her hand on the creature and it dies.
With that out of the way, I try to figure out who to warn that the cleric might not be entirely an enemy. Or at least, she may not have been before we decided to try and kill her. By this point though the cleric has used the wall of sand to hide her escape, and we spot her fleeing off into the desert. Ray and Sheena fly after her, and I send a message to Ray to let him know that we don’t need to kill her.
You are strong enough to enter the city. You have the blessing of GroetusMother Grim Moon
With those final words to me, she burrows into the sand and out of sight. The thing is, I get the impression that she wasn’t even that upset that we tried to kill her. Followers of Groetus are strange like that.
We gather together to make sure that we’re all okay, and I relay most of what she said to the others. It appears that we made the wrong call when deciding to label these giants as enemies and a potential threat – but everything we’d heard about them had given us the idea that they weren’t going to be friendly.
We head onwards, following the directions of our two guides, and after some time towers appear out of the desert haze – we have located the city of Neruzavin. The towers of the city are mind bending in their appearance. They are tall – taller than anything I’ve ever seen, the tallest stretching to possible a mile in height, most of the rest being a ‘mere’ thousand feet or so tall. Despite their height, they are incredibly thin, and some of the angles they twist and bend at don’t look like they should be possible. Even the desert winds seem to want to avoid the place, for though it stands in the middle of the desert, no sand has been blown between the buildings.
There are no streets here – it was built by the flying polyps who don’t walk. Just gaps between the strangely angled needle buildings and surfaces to land on at great heights. Part of the city has collapsed on the shore of a lake, a region which Tezcatili tells us was known as the Snarl. Presumably the lake was created by the meteorite which fell here, and the snarl is what is left of the buildings that fell into the crater. Strange plants and weird growths cover the Snarl, giving it a most unfriendly appearance.
We decide to back off for the night, and Erasmus creates a faerie ring which provides a gateway into another dimension which is hopefully safer than the desert outside the city.