Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"The Lost City" - Escape from the Hollow Earth, Chapter 2


Edith Odinsdottir was held captive on a German U-Boat. She wasn't sure exactly why they Germans captured her. The last thing she remembered was traveling to London at the request of the literary historian Cedric Justice. He was planning some kind of expedition and had invited her to participate. She was walking down the street when some men in suits grabbed her and threw a bag over her head. They must have injected her with something because she lost consciousness soon thereafter.

When she regained consciousness, she was sitting in a metal chair with her hands tied behind her back. She was gagged and the bag still covered her head.

The bag was removed to reveal a cramped compartment lined with pipes and knobs. She sat at a small metal table bolted to the floor. On the table was a strange shallow open-faced round box with a flat bottom. Within the box was a ball bearing made of yellowish metal about the the size of a large marble. The ball rolled around as the U-Boat rocked with the waves. A German officer pointed a pistol at her. The cramped compartment was dimly illuminated. Its corners were cloaked in darkness and shadow.

Another German officer entered the compartment. He wore a long black leather trenchcoat. Over his uniform he wore a metal breastplate covered with intricately carved symbols. His craggy face was a relief map of wrinkles and scars. Edith recognized him immediately.

"Doctor Vortex" she sneered.

Doctor Wolfgang Vortex was a high ranking member of the Thule Society who scoured the world searching for occult artifacts to further the Nazi cause. Odinsdottir had clashed with him on several occasions on her own quest to protect the world from those same artifacts.

Doctor Vortex smiled in response, ""Ja... und zhis time ze advantage is mine, fraulein Odinsdottir!"

"What do you want from me?"

"Vee are in need ov your special gifts, fraulein. If du cooperate vit us, no harm vill come zu you. All I ask ov du iz to concentrate on this little metal ball."

"What if I refuse?"

"Zen I must invorm do zat vee haff located your zeecret laboratory in zee hills northvest of Rekyavik. Mein agents haff procured its contents. All your precious artivacts and curios. All your books. All your notes. Cooperate and zhey vill be returned zum du. Du hast mein vord ov honor. Resist and du vill never see zhem again. Zhink of it. Years ov research. A lifetime ov vork. Gone. Vee do not vant zat, now do vee?"

Edith clenched her teeth, "You fiend!"

Her secret study represented her life work. More importantly, that was where she kept the Khohn Aan Artifact, a statue that greatly magnified the powers of a telepath. With it, a psychic could read the thoughts of anyone on Earth! No doubt Vortex was unaware of its power else he would have mentioned it. If the Nazis ever figured out how to use it, it would mean their domination of the world!

She knew she could never trust the word of Doctor Vortex but at the moment she had no choice but to play along.

She struggled to get out of her chair but strong hands forced her back down. The Luger was shoved firmly into her shoulder blade. She winced and glared at Doctor Vortex.

"Fine! Have it your way!"

Doctor Vortex smiled, "Gut, gut.  Now zimply stare at the ball before you und concentrate. Zhat iz all I ask."

Edith's lips contorted from frustration but she ultimately complied. She looked at the ball. She could feel it calling to her. Reaching out to her mind. She reached out to it and made a telepathic connection.

Despite the movement of the U-boat through the ocean, the metal ball slowly came to a stop. It then began to roll against the motion of the boat. It came to a stop as if indicating a direction.

Doctor Vortex stood and shouted orders in German. Finally, he addressed Odindottir, "Danke, Fraulein. Du hast shown us ze vay."

(cue theme music)


Cedric Justice, noted scholar and literary historian,
has embarked upon an expedition to
the North Pole to find the fabled island
known as Ultima Thule.

With him are three famous associates
of the world reknown Hyperion Society - 
Bodak Danger, the Welshman with fists of stone!
Jack Flash, myserious and ageless Englishman!
Hiroshima Overdrive, Japanese inventor and adventurer!

Racing against a Nazi U-Boat, the expedition
reached the North Pole, only to be transported
to a strange inside-out world of perpetual noontime
filled with deadly jungles, giant dinosaurs, and savage beast-men.

After their airship, the Hyperion, crashed they
followed a trail to a native village where they met
famous Norweigian explorer Roald Amundsen.
They were soon interrupted by the arrival 
of a fellow Hyperion associate -
Edith Odinsdottir, beautiful Icelandic psychic and occultist!

Days later, Edith Odinsdottir was standing inside a hut situated in the treetops of a gigantic jungle filled with prehistoric beasts. She was recounting to her fellow associates from the Hyperion Society how the U-Boat on which she was held captive passed through some kind of strange anomaly. Soon afterwards the U-boat stopped and much of its complement of German soldiers disembarked. She had learned that they were looking for something called an Atlantean Crystal of Power and that she had led them right to it. She also overhead Doctor Vortex giving the order to kill her as soon they left. Edith turned the tables and managed to escape the skeleton crew. She was able to make her way into the jungle but she became lost. She was eventually found by these native scouts and brought here.

Edith was surprised and grateful that she had encountered associates of the Hyperion Society in this strange world. She beseeched their help in stopping Doctor Vortex from taking whatever artifact he was looking for.

Roald looked confused, "Who are these... 'Nazis'? I recall reading some news about a small organization in Germany, but surely they can pose no threat."

Hiroshima Overdrive quickly explained the current nature of the Nazi party in 1936. Roald was appalled. He replied, "Then they msut be stopped! The Crystal of Power should never fall into the hands of such madmen!"

Cedric looked pensive. He considered this a distraction from his own expedition. After a moment of thought he stood and proclaimed, "Yes! We should stop them at once!"

Bodak Danger and Hiroshima Overdrive likewise stood and pledged their support. The rest of the expedition, including Jack Flash, Captain Bennet, and Reginald the co-pilot, were exhausted and sleeping in another hut. Attempts to rouse them proved fruitless and it was decided that they would be left behind on this venture.

Roald Amundsen told the others that the "City of Smooth Stone" lay about six leagues from the village. He explained that the natives would not go near the city for it was forbidden. They would travel alone. The small expedition soon set out through the jungle led by Roald.

It was difficult to tell time in this world. The sun shone a constant noon. No watches worked. After what felt like an eternity of hiking they crossed a ridge. Below them they could see a wide flat valley. Ancient stone towers and structures rose above the jungle canopy of the valley. The extent of the structures indicated a city at least a league across. In the distance one could see the ocean curving up and disappearing into the hazy sky.

Roald was silent throughout most of the journey. His responses to questions about the Crystal of Power and its capabilities were noncomittal. He would provide a vague answer then change the subject. Roald made it clear that he withheld many secrets and preferred to keep his knowledge to himself.

The party descended into the valley and soon found themselves walking among cyclopean ruins. The architecture of the structures were a strange amalgam of many cultures - Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Mesoamerican, Asian. It was as if this architectural style was the inspiration for them all.

As they traveled through the ruins Jack Flash noticed the movment of many oberservers. Some were in the shadows of windows. Some were on the rooftops. Some lurking behind columns. He told his companions but they could not see their followers.

Roald instructed them to ignore the followers. They were the ape-men who lived in the ruins of the city. They would do no the party no harm.

Shortly thereafter they were surrounded by dozens of brutish ape-men. Each carried clubs and rocks. They hooted and grunted in a display of defensive bravado.

Roald stepped forward and held his palm up. He said, "UNGAWA! TAND KREGA!"

The words seemed to resonate with power and authority. Even the members of the expedition could feel it.

The ape-men stopped and slowly backed away. They allowed Roald and the others to pass but followed a short distance behind.

Roald said that he has learned some of the language of the ancients who lived in the city. He explained that it was a magic language that could control lesser minds. He dismissed any other questions about the language, the ape-men, or the city. "There is no time. We must continue with stealth."

A tall tower stood at the center of the ruined city. The tower was covered with a yellowish metal that no one could identify. Roald called it "Orichalcum". He said it was the ancient mystical metal of the Atlanteans. A wide plaza surrounded the tower. Roads radiated out from the plaza like the spokes of a wheel. Bodak could glimpse human activity and hear German voices in the plaza. The party stealthily made their way from ruin to ruin in their approach.

From behind a ruined wall they saw a wide ring of twelve German soldiers at the base of the tower. They were watching the surrounding ruins for signs of attack. Doctor Vortex was closely inspecting the work of four soldiers as they carried a large crystal out of the entrance at the base of the tower. The crystal was at least three meters tall and a meter across. It glowed with a strange energy and emitted a slowly pulsating electric hum that caused mild pain in the teeth. The bearers carried the crystal slowly and deliberately as Doctor Vortext berated them.

Roald told the others he had a plan and to make ready to attack at his signal. They nodded and he left. He quickly disappeared amid the ruins.

A few moments later came Roald's mighty war cry, "MANGANI! BAR! BUNDOLO!"

The hooting and howling ape-men were swarming over the roof-tops and into the plaza. The German guards immediately opened fire at the onrushing attack.

Edith took cover on the roof of one of the nearby buildings and began firing a rifle at the German soldiers.

Hiroshima Overdrive lit the fuse of a stick of dynamite and threw it into the midst of some nearby soldiers. It exploded into a crater that littered the plaza with falling dirt and debris.

Bodak taunted the Germans before taking cover behind a partially collapsed wall.

Cedric was not accustomed to fighting so he and Panda hid behind some rubble.

Doctor Vortex saw Edith and shouted, "Du!" He pulled out his Luger and shot the psychic through the arm.

Most of the Germans were occupied fighting the ape-men but a few broke off to charge the party behind their cover. Bodak unleashed some devastating punches as the Germans moved into the ruined building.

GM Note - Too Many NPCs
Honestly, I completely forgot about Cedric, Panda, and Roald during the fight. I preferred to concentrate on the player characters, so the three NPCs got zero "screen time" during this fight. 

As for the twelve Germans plus Doctor Vortex, I had three of the Germans plus Doctor Vortex fight the three player characters at a time. The rest were "occupied" fighting ape-men. When one German would die, I would replace him with one of the "ape-men" Germans. 

Hiroshima Overdrive charged up his capacitor and fired his electric rifle at the remaining Germans.

Edith clambered down from the roof and grabbed one of the unconscious Germans' submachine gun. She sprayed several of the Germans down in a rain of gunfire.

Doctor Vortex was unable to get a shot off against any of the party. He saw many of his guards being killed by the combination of ape-men and gunfire so he changed strategy. He stood up straight and shouted in the same powerful language Roald had used, "UNGAWA!"

The ape-men suddenly froze. They were held transfixed by his words of power. Doctor Vortex pointed at the members of the expedition and shouted, "BUNDOLO TARMANGANI TAND-YO!"

At his command the ape-men charged Bodak Danger, Hiroshima Overdrive, and Edith Odinsdottir. The trio did their best to fight off the onslaught of both Germans and ape-men but soon both Bodak and Edith had fallen! Only Hiroshima Overdrive remained.

Roald rushed forth and shouted, "UNGAWA! TAND BUNDOLO YO! YUTO LITO DAN!"

The ape-men once more halted their attack before turning towards the German soldiers carrying the Crystal of Power. The four German soldiers quailed under the assault. They quickly dropped the crystal and ran. The ape-men surrounded the crystal. They began beating it with heavy rocks and chunks of masonry.

Vortex shouted in frustration, "Nein!" and once more attempted to use his commanding voice, "UNGAWA! UNGAWA!" But it was too late. The crystal had been cracked!

Vortex shouted, "Du vools! Du hast doomed us all!

Roald smiled at the Nazi officer.

Vortex ran after the four fleeing bearers. He quickly disappeared into the ruins. 

The crystal continued to crack as fractures multiplied and spread across its surface. The pulsating thrum began to grow louder and louder until it was nearly unbearable. Light began to shine brightly from the cracks.

Overdrive immediately saw to the needs of his injured and fallen comrades. Roald shouted orders to the ape-men who scattered into the city. He then shouted at Overdrive, "Leave them! There's no time! When that crystal breaks it will destroy this entire city! 

Cedric and Panda ran up to join Overdrive. He shouted back, "I'm not leaving them!"

Roald joined him, "So be it!"

Hiroshima Overdrive looked around desperately. He said, "Wait, I might have a plan!"

Moments later, the ruins of the ancient Atlantean city was devastated by a sudden explosion of reddish-purple light and energy and lightning!