- 21ST SEPT (147 days until global destruction)
Joc, a wetlands guide
Asher, an eight-year-old with a blunderbus
Heft, a trustworthy looking fella, honest
The Gully-Toads’ mercurial portal opened up to a drab looking grass plain with some thatched huts perhaps half a mile off, and a good few miles beyond that a stark basalt cliff topped by a strange castle jutting out of the cliff, almost like a tooth.
Joc scoped out the village, spotted a half dozen huts with some human inhabitants, and a hell of a lot of pigs. He let the others know and the three openly approached the village. They were met by three identical women, bearing the gift of a pork pie. The gully-toads spoke with these women and learned a little about the town, though the women themselves seemed forgetful and a bit distant. Heft asked for an introduction to the town elder, a woman named Lotte, and the girls were happy to oblige.
Lotte welcomed her guests kindly, and asked if they had come to rid the town of the dire influence of the Castle. She seemed to be the only person whose energy and memories were not being suppressed by the Castle, which had grown like a mushroom from a ruined keep that had been there millennia. Five years ago, two men from the village went to explore the Castle, but neither returned. Lotte didn’t want to risk more, and noone had come from Drinburg when requested. But her flock seem happy enough, so she looks after them as best she could.
The gully-toads asked for a few supplies, and Asher was particularly excited to pick up a powerful blunderbuss.
They climbed the switchback path to the clifftop and approached the Castle proper. There was no gatehouse, no moat - in fact the Castle appeared to have grown out of the very rock itself. Two vast iron doors seemed their only entry point. Joc took a close look and spotted a lock that could be picked if he had better tools…
Instead, Heft knocked heavily on the door, and his summons was soon met by a swingeing butler of a man, who invited them in, led them to a strange study and said he’d be back when he’d spoken with the Lord and Lady.
They weren’t alone in the study. A few other men, dressed in fashionable Edwardian finery, top hats and powdered wigs, stood closely looking at a vast bookshelf. After speaking with the men, the toads learned that these men had been waiting a good long time here, and that the butler had never come back to fetch them. They convinced one of the men to head home, watched to see that he made it out safely, then explored deeper into the Castle.
The corridors did not behave normally. Though they could perceive no twist or turn in the path ahead, eventually the walls soon reached a vanishing point. Sometimes corridors would be in different orientations when the same door was reopened.
The gully-toads followed someone (probably the butler?) into a door off a new corridor and found a vast ballroom whose orchestra pit was full of shattered instruments. They found a trail the butler(?) had left and followed it through a door from the room, which led into a tiny room with nothing but a porcelain bath stained with blood. Experimenting with the bath, they were able to rip through the fabric of its base, opening up a tight spiral staircase in utter darkness.
They headed down these stairs, guided by the weak light of the lantern they had taken from Nusplinger. Eventually the stairs levelled out and they found themselves in a tiled room full of drug-taking devices and also three merry monks. The monks were dosed up after having lost a brother to a horrid hunting thing, and when Joc opened the door to see if it was still there, he was surprised as the door was thrust full back by an enormous porcelain lance.
Beyond the open door, a woman wearing silver and burnished copper plate armour, which had fused to a strong horse whose legs instead were the arms and tentacles of a squid. She smashed the lance into Joc, tearing a huge chunk from his shoulder
Giving him a 16 point wound. You roll D6+ biggest wound on the death and dismemberment table when you drop. 18+ is death.
Joc struggled to thrust his spear into the horse’s underbelly, but Asher and Heft were able to hurt the lance itself (a twisting living thing, with boarlike bristles edging through cracks in its surface). The woman stretched her arm further than it should go, tearing a chunk from Heft’s gut, but the lance was then shattered by careful buckshot from Asher’s blunderbuss. The woman called out in rage and anguish, slammed the door shut, and galloped away down a corridor.
The Gully-Toads caught their breath and asked the monks help tend their wounds, but the harm was beyond these holy men. And so, the Gully-Toads decided to retreat the Castle, rest up and reconsider, before heading deeper in in a fortnight’s time.