Campaign of the Month: July 2008

Beyond the Mountains of Madness

Chapter 11: To the Dark Tower, Part 1

Driven by haste and fear for the safety of their comrades, the Investigators, along with head pilot Doug Halperin, took the Weddell and flew in pursuit of Captain Starkweather’s abductors. Along their flight, they met with a surprise…the Belle joined them in flight and followed.

They soon caught sight of the flying Elder Things carrying their burden. Every once in a while, Starkweather seemed to move or struggle, so they held out hope for rescuing him alive. The Elder Things descended into a valley, into which they were able to peer. There, they spotted a tall, dark tower of stone, surmounted by a bluish light. Before they could land, a strange pulse seemed to emenate from the tower, causing them to seemingly hallucinate a time when the land was warm and tropical, covered in ferns, with a thriving metropolis covering it. This caused them some horror, but they managed to get the plane down without incident, joining the Belle on the ground.

They were greeted by Acacia Lexington, Albert Priestley, Dr. Johann Meyer, Herman Baumann, and Dr. Maxwell Rucker. Initial suspicion was soon at least partially allayed, when the Germans and Acacia seemed quite pleased to see the Starkweather-Moore group alive. They had spotted the Elder Things flying with their burden and flown to investigate. An alliance was soon cemented, and Dr. Meyer led the group, seeming excited and almost seeming to recognize where they were. Buffington Meyer, Halperin, Baumann, and Rucker remained with the planes.

The group descended into the valley and made their way to the tower. Along the way, Valentine’s stone heated up and seemed to lead to a small hole in the snow. A quick dig turned up a black, smooth stone, which they kept for now.

Inside the tower, they were stunned to find it quite warm. They removed their parkas, carrying them with them. A plethora of Elder Thing carvings covered the interior, seeming to tell a story of some importance. They revealed that the EldeR things had warred with creatures from the stars in the past and had often lost the battles. Eventually, however, they’d found a way to capture some sort of entity or energy and use it to defeat their foes. The Investigators puzzled over this but decided they must go on to have any chance of saving Captain Starkweather.

As they ascended, they frequently located sections of a crystalline matrix. At one point, Valentine touched it, and it seemed to cause him to convulse in a seizure. The tremors eventually passed, but Valentine seemed extremely confused, making inarticulate noises and seeming almost not in control of his body. He was led around by the others, because they feared to leave him.

As they continued up the structure, they found odd plants growing in places. Roylott seemed to have an affinity for them, stroking them and seeming pleased to be with them. They discovered an odd workroom, as well as a laboratory which Dr. Meyer believed he recognized from the expanded section of the Arthur Gordon Pym manuscript. As he was going to take a sample of fluid from a black vat, Allan Q. Morgan agreed to get it for him. When his hand came close, a small creature, similar to the shoggoth they had encounter in the tunnels under the city, shot up at his hand. When he retreated, it returned to quiescence. This profoundly shook Dr. Meyer, who lost his excitement for exploration thereafter.

They ascended a final area to find a place where the dome of the tower was cracked, letting snow and ice in. Here, a veritable jungle was growing and dying, along with the crystals they’d seen elsewhere, but many of these were broken. Roylott, seeming agonized, tried to reassemble the pieces, but he didn’t seem able to put it back together.

Exploring into the “jungle”, the adventurers found a hideous sight…a construct made of vegetation, interwoven with disembodied, but horribly alive, heads. Some were of walrus and penguin, but many, many others were human, including the heads of Dr. Richard Greene and Captain Starkweather. Overcome with revulsion, Tanj Dezense and Morgan wanted to burn it. Dr. Carrington and Prof. Nordhagen were more circumspect, and Roylott actively began to interfere with any attempt to harm or even approach the construct. Finally, Carrington drugged Roylott, and then, at Acacia’s request, helped her remove Starkweather’s head from the matrix.

All at once, a shudder rocked the tower. A panicked piping sound began, and something huge crashed through the undergrowth towards them…

To be continued…

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aethan

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