INT. Cave cavern thing
For whatever reason, it is unclear if the cavern itself is natural or not, but it is old, full of stalactites and stalagmites and covered in various water deposits. In the far corner is a pool of water that continues to dribble upwards, creating a shelf-like rock formation of multiple edged pools raised out of the cavern floor.
In front of and above the formation is a point that is not quite right, positioned in space without any seeming support or interaction with the room itself. It flares for a moment with brilliant light as the party enters, then subsides, leaving the cavern almost completely dark.
Voices and other displaced sounds drift through the cavern, echoing off the many formations. Fragments, snippets, some on top of the other, others pushing their way into the foreground, chaotic and random. Normal conversations, the sound of waves crashing on a beach, crickets, yelling, a horse dying. There is a sort of magic to it, but only a sort.
The Gravedigger enters first, carrying his shovel like a warbanner... or at very least a marching baton. The others - Radek, Greibel, Amadi, George, and Rhu trailing a bit behind - follow shortly after when nothing bad happens.
Radek goes over to the point to inspect it, as it seems to be the source of the instabilities in the area. (rolled 23 arcana)
Rhu listens instead to the voices, and manages to make out a few as well. (rolled 27 perception) Someone shouting about a dog. Something that sounds like Hazz'ridan, but it's a language that makes his bones hurt, though he can instinctively understand the meaning. It's about time and rocks.
Is that it? Is the Hole in the water?
This is... highly unusual. Very unlike the ones before.
...If I must rely on metaphor to convey such a complex subject, imagine that the universe is a length of fabric.
Most of these disturbances manifest as tears. This is a hole. A single, clean point. And judging from these phenomena, a highly pressurized one.
Amadi, meanwhile, is just sort of standing vacantly in place, staring at the light.
To Amadi, the cavern is awash with light, all manner of colour streaming out of the pinpoint in the air. She can almost see shapes silhouetted against it, mirrors of the people in front of them... unless, of course, it is just seeing their silhouettes...
She looks closer. (rolled 20 arcana) They're reflections. Dangerous. But pretty.
Pressurised? So what happens if someone touches it?
Probably something absolutely terrible.
Well, in the past...
I doubt it's going to rain cake. More likely turn you inside out and leave you in a sun.
What was his name again, Azir...?
(he waves a hand dismissively)
Pah. In any case, he was never seen nor heard from again.
Well, assume a bunch of complete idiots came in here and found this. They probably touched it. But they came out again... Unless, of course, this wasn't what they found, and it only became this after whatever they did...
Hmm. What did the idiots consider themselves qualified for, exactly?
I don't know, the pool Aziraphale fell into did look a lot like this. And there were zombies near it. No giant protective tree thing, though. And this pool isn't messing with our minds like the other one did.
Are you sure?
There are some undeniable similarities. I regret knowing so little about the problem at the time, or I might have been able to make a more accurate comparison.
Greibel bemusedly pokes at the air.
Well, you all have your specializations.
The Gravedigger beams.
Get to work. And argue the theory before you actually do something risky, please.
Ganelon (Radek): It may be a little optimistic to expect this party to work intentionally towards a goal.
Um, does praying to Hazz'ridan count as "risky"?
Anything involving Hazz is risky.
...What possible benefit for us do you believe that would accomplish?
(he holds up a finger)
Spiritual enrichment does not qualify.
You never know. The last time that I prayed to Hazz' near a Hole-lake-thing, he stopped it from messing with our minds, gave us the power to understand the local speech, and I think refilled the pool. He has form with pools, is all I'm saying.
And Hazz is...?
George tries to give her a confused look, but it doesn't work on account of the goggles.
Radek actually looks just a little bit impressed.
...A compelling argument! Irrefutable, in fact. If you think you can convince your god to contradict its own nature for the sake of all of our long-term goals, you have my... approval.
Rhu gives Radek a nervous glance, then starts to pray for Hazz's guiding light to show everyone the way to all their dead ends. (rolled 22 religion)
Radek, meanwhile, sits down near, but not too near, the hole pinpoint and starts tinkering. It crystalises somehow and begins to glow again.
Ganelon (Radek): Uh oh. I've hardly even started and bad stuff is happening, isn't it? Haven't even started blasting dangerously unstable compounds into this hole!
The Gravedigger stands nearby, ready for zombies. George winds up standing with him, partly because Greibel smells so bad.
Amadi gives the silhouettes suspicious glares, and completely fails to notice anything in particular about the silhouettes. (rolled 8 perception (natural 1)) She is instead transfixed by the Gravedigger's manly posture.
Radek mumbles to himself while he works on modifying one of his clockwork bombs. (rolled 21 arcana)
...What I can be absolutely certain of is that there is something - or nothing, but that itself is something - disturbing the magic around these phenomena...
...Happens before the damage is visible. Need to be careful.
Much tinkering goes into the bomb, because this is a very important, and very strange, modification. It involves magicking up the nature of the reality with more reality. Paisley reality.
Meanwhile Amadi gets something to smoke off Greibel. He gives her something that might have been a fungus.
Amadi stuffs the fungus in her ear.
Ganelon (Radek): Has Greibel nothing to do here? We could use a weird tree.
Frezak (Gravy): I could stand and pretend to be a tree. Nature Check to pretend to be a tree?
The Gravedigger shrugs his shoulders, sinking a bit into the floor, then seeming almost to grow, pretending, very realistically, to be a tree. (rolled 30 nature (natural 20)) Nobody is really paying attention, so for all intents and purposes, there is simply a loud fwoomp the sound of a tree growing really, really fast. They look and there is suddenly a tree in their midst. And no Gravedigger.
Ganelon (Radek): Holy shit, man.
Frezak (Gravy): I AM THE ALL-TREE.
Greibel starts skipping in a circle around the tree.
Amadi, naturally, climbs the tree.
Radek stands up and does a double-take at the Gravedigger tree, but dismisses the thought that such a thing could possibly have once been his bodyguard.
(he heads to the cavern entrance, away from the pinpoint)
The first trial begins now.
...You may wish to distance yourselves.
Frezak (Gravy): I AM A TREE. I FEAR NOTHING. I AM NATURE.
The Gravedigger stays put. Amadi sits in his branches. Greibel stops dancing around and winds up behind his trunk. George joins the druid behind the Gravedigger tree.
Rhu backs away in a slightly different direction until he hits wall.
This is an explosive, after all, even though it should be producing... reality, rather than heat or concussive force. That is the theory, anyway.
Radek starts the bomb's timer and invokes the awesome power of his fancy gloves to float the bomb towards the pinpoint hole in space. It hovers on the point, covering it.
The Gravedigger cycles oxygen as the countdown counts down.
Amadi dangles her legs.
The Gravedigger shakes some leaves.
Then the bomb explodes with a weird floomp sound. There's a bit of horrible light. And a bunch of horrible silence. The silhouettes Amadi and Greibel could see before suddenly get a lot darker, and become visible to everyone else as well, dancing, flying out of the darkness, coming right at the party...
They seem to be outlines, or perhaps reflections, of the the party's own shapes.
The tree silhouette shakes some leaves of its own.