Adventure 10: The Stone Apes of Knuum
"The final tomb can be entered with the aid of Knuum Gar, great spirit guardian of Knuum if he is summoned in the light of a full moon in a particular forest clearing in far off Alkebulan. I'm unsure of the details of this one."
With not much to go on our heroes headed south by owl to the dense rain forests of Alkebulan and their appointment with the last of the Izvoreni.
They arrived in a jungle glearing near a group of three monkey statues sitting around a pot. There were voices emanating from the pot.
Eager to hear three of the adventurers moved closer.
All they got for their troubles was a load of cryptic mumbo-jumbo.
Whispery voices rose from the pot.
"Tell us how old we are traveller, we have forgotten."
"The tablets of Knuum hold the answer."
"The temple of the tablets is guarded."
"Tell us how old we are traveller, we have forgotten."
"Only the pallid stranger can summon Knuum Gar."
"Knuum Gar is the gateway to Knuum."
"Tell us how old we are traveller, we have forgotten."
"We will tell you how to summon Knuum Gar."
"Strangely, the tablets of Knuum were created long after Knuum was lost."
Unperturbed the party set off to find the temple of the tablets.
It wasn't long before they came across a set of metal domes discharging energy into the sky. Observing that there were a few people in yellow robes wandering around the heroes approached.
They were greeted by a pair of monks belonging to the Church of the Three Moons. They seemed friendly.
Behind the monks, inside the dome, the adventurers could see lots of strange machinery, much of which seemed to be active.
The monks were happy to explain their religion and show the heroes around the domes. They were introduced to Iormun-Gar the High Priest who welcomed them and invited them to join in the Church's worship.
It transpired that the aim of the Church was to uncover the whereabouts of the hidden Tablets of the Moon which they believed would allow them to travel to Yarth's missing third moon and live there in harmony with its inhabitants.
The High Priest had a mask that allowed him to see the third moon in the sky, alive with the lights of cities, and so there was no doubt that they would achieve their goal- except they had no idea where the missing tablets were.
Late into the night when everyone else seemed asleep the heroes decided that their first priority was to get hold of the mysterious mask. It was an easy task to sneak into the ceremonial room and take it.
Donning the mask allowed the wearer to see hidden things. The third moon of Yarth was indeed up in the sky and alive with signs of civilisation. In addition the walls of the metal domes were covered in moving writing that scrolled around and around in a dizzying fashion.
in the midst of this writing Tonkatsu found she could read some of it, a message left by Princess Fetet centuries ago. The writing pointed out hidden controls in the domes which, when activated, caused the domes to rotate so that their antennae touched. In addition, this rotation revealed previously hidden access points to chambers below the domes which held the lost tablets of the moon.
Iormun-Gar and his amazed followers watched on in silence as the heroes read the tablets and used the information on them to work our the ages of the Oracles.
Returning to the Oracles with the information they required the party was told how to summon Knuum Gar who duly appeared.
Knuum Gar, the great ape spirit guardian of Knuum transported the heroes to his lost city where they were met by the terrible scenes of destruction that the Catastrophe had wrought there ages ago.
The amazing towers and machinery of Knuum lay in crumpled mounds overgrown with vegetation and amidst the rubble sat the stone apes, silent watchers over the devastation.
The only thing moving in the city apart from the keening wind was an old man, Yhtill, a scholar of prodigious Atlânaat who didn't know how he came to be here and was mostly mad.
Yhtill showed the party the massive pit of the Catastrophe that had destroyed Knuum. It was clear from examining the scene that something had burst out of the ground long ago. The shockwave and raining debris bringing doom to the city and its inhabitants.
The heroes descended the pit certain of what they would find at its bottom. Their fears were soon realised as the pit led into an Izvoreni tomb. The tomb was deserted, the Izvoreni awake and long gone.
The party had no option but to return to the surface where Knuum Gar awaited them and returned them to their own world. To the heroes' surprise a group of the stone apes came with them.
It took some working out but eventually, with Phordog Fal's telescope, they saw that the ship they'd spotted on one of the moons before (Adventure 5: The Amber Charm) wasn't a ship of the Other Men but was the escape pod of the Izvoreni. It had been up there a long time, who could guess what it had set in motion?
The stone apes manipulated the strange technology inside the metal domes and reactivated the teleporter. The way to the moon was open.
As they prepared to leave there was another flash of light and a familiar figure appeared next to them. Clank had returned in their hour of need. Looking shinier and better armed than before he was a welcome addition to the party.
There was some discussion about what dangers the heroes would face on the moon and preparations were made to offset the hazardous conditions they expected to meet. The wizards summoned air elementals to form a pocket of atmosphere and pressure around the whole party.
Everyone entered the teleporter and instantly they found themselves on the moon. Even with their precautions the cold started taking its toll on the heroes' bodies immediately.
Next to them was the Izvoreni pod. The thieves set to work opening one of the many hatches on its surface and the party were soon inside.
The pod was empty, stripped of its furnishings long ago. There was a tunnel and an air lock leading below the surface and the adventurers pushed on.
Once through the airlock they found a light atmosphere and some warmth. Vast tunnels and caverns had been carved from the rock. The sound of distant machinery reverberated around them but there was no sign of life. They set off in a random direction.
It wasn't long before they heard something coming towards them. A horde of small robots swarmed along the floor, walls and ceiling and engulfed them like a metal wave. The robots set about dismantling the heroes one tiny piece at a time.
There were too many of the creatures to fight physically and the party was in danger of being overwhelmed until the wizards opened the tunnel to space and the explosive decompression carried most of the swarm and some of the heroes out into the vacuum.
It didn't take long to rescue the drifting party members and finish off the remains of the robot swarm. The heroes continues to explore.
The next things they encountered were a pair of large robots installing a strange piece of technology into the floor of a passage. These robots also reacted unfavourably to the party's presence.
One robot was immediately teleported into space and the stone apes held the second immobile whilst Lee climbed on its back and deactivated it.
With the immediate threats neutralised the heroes could take a better look at their surroundings and Lee spotted a device with some buttons on it in a corner.
Some of the adventurers couldn't resist the lure of the buttons and they found themselves teleported to a room full of strange machinery and even stranger creatures.
Before they were noticed the explorers pushed more buttons and appeared in another room. This one was occupied by similar creatures and an even stranger set of machines.
Once again they managed to leave before being seen.
A few more teleports saw them reunited with the rest of the party.
Everyone decided to set off together this time and they arrived as a group in the second room the scouts had found.
This time they couldn't help but be noticed and battle was joined.
The stone apes went after the smaller creatures and the heroes concentrated on the leader.
The creatures fought back with searing psychic brain blasts and entangling tentacles.
The leader was soon killed but the smaller aliens grabbed most of the stone apes in their tentacles and disappeared with them. By the end of the fight only one stone ape remained.
The heroes with the aid of Clank's familiarity with technology realised that they were in the teleportation hub. They found a map of the complex with several important locations marked on it and worked out a plan of attack.
The Izvoreni was using the moon to collect the Sun's energy and convert it into a beam that was summoning its slave worlds from the future. There was a viewing room in the complex from which the heroes could see the planets forming on the outer edges of the Yarth system. They could also see the fearsome Golems of Meaning entering the system. Time was short, the heroes needed to shut down the beam, find the Izvoreni- and kill it.
Their first stop was the life support centre.
Realising how dangerous it was to be grabbed by the aliens the wizards fireballed the smaller ones from a distance and the fighters killed the leader as before.
Once they had gained control of the room the heroes set about shutting down the life support throughout the complex.
Then they headed for the solar collectors control room.
It took them a while but eventually the heroes managed to shut down the collecting array.
As the room grew quiet and the sounds of the machinery that filled the moon died away the heroes became aware that something was approaching.
Suddenly a cacophony of wails, shrieks and howls filled the room and the Izvoreni was upon them!
It was invisible. Only Tonkatsu could see it using the pallid mask. There was a swirl of captured demons held together by the will of the Izvoeni in the centre. It was their voices that was causing the damage to the party.
The fighters struck out blindly with their magic weapons and caused some damage but wasn't nearly enough enough. Things were looking bleak.
However, each flurry of blows by the fighters was allowing demons to escape their captivity and the mass was getting smaller.
Tonkatsu persuaded one of the fleeing demons to stay and help and with its magical knowledge and her skill they forced the Izvoreni to materialise.
As the Izvoreni's form filled the room a wave of terror spread from it and the heroes recoiled in fear. Gathering themselves some returned to the fight but others needed strengthening by the priests' spells before they could summon enough courage to attack the thing.
The battle was difficult and the result hung on a knife's edge for some time before the Izvoreni was eventually killed.
The party paused to rest and heal and survey the situation.
Returning to the viewing room they saw that the summoned planets were fading and returning to their proper time.
To their consternation however they also saw that the Golems of Meaning were still coming, killing the Izvoreni hadn't stopped them.
The Princess’ lament, written on the walls of the domes:
Along the shore the cloud waves break,
The dim sun sinks behind the lake,
The shadows lengthen
In Lost Knuum.
Strange is the night where black stars rise,
And strange moons circle through the skies,
But stranger still is
Songs that the Stone Apes sing,
Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Song of my soul, my voice is dead,
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
A Jack Kirby Celestial doing a very passable impersonation of a Golem of Meaning.