Secrets of the Last Born

Trapped in a pocket dimension created by Hanos’s rod of security, Sophie endures questions about her elven heritage. In addition to her noble status and other personal facts, Sophie reveals that Rivershire is actually an elven world that withdrew itself from the material plane. Being Hanos, he knows the elf is just trying to save her skin. Also knowing that she cannot leave until he allows it, he decides to wander for a while to see if being alone to contemplate her fate will loosen her tongue.

Wanting to ensure Kreel is paid and informed of a few things, Mal goes to the galleria to pay him. As their business is concluded, another mining dwarf runs up to alert Kreel that there has been a collapse in the ore mine. Having finished discussing blame for Sophie’s fate with Zyn, Xax is summoned by Mal to where he and Kreel are investigating the cave in, one that should not have occurred. Only too happy to show off his newly-discovered psionic teleport, Xax appears to see Kreel scolding his architect.

Ever the ambassador, Mal separates the dwarves, pointing out evidence to Kreel that something acidic may have dissolved a key structural support, absolving the architect. He then sets them back to the task at hand: rescuing their brethren. Xax is able to slip through the cave in and determine that eight of the twelve are alive and well. Although it drains him, Xax manages to teleport all of the living dwarves to safety before almost collapsing himself. Mal stays with the architect while Kreel takes the other workers in another direction, leaving Xax to “be rewarded” at the inn’s taproom by the eight grateful dwarves. Hoping to shed some light on the reason for the tunnel collapse, Xax buys the first round and secretly interrogates them.

Mal lends a few suggestions to encourage the shaken architect to talk about what else could be down in the tunnels. The architect first mentions the Drow (dark elves of the deep and their spider queen), then hints at mind flayers, aboleth, gelatinous cubes, and worse things. With his imagination already brimming with possibilities, Mal then hears a voice in his head the way Xax would speak to him… except that it wasn’t Xax. Mal whispers to the architect to sneak down and grab Kreel and a few dwarves because they were no longer alone.

With the architect out of sight for only a moment, the voice in Mal’s head asks him to turn around. Mal complies, ready for anything but curious just the same. A dark-skinned, white-haired female elf is there waiting for him, looking very much like one of the Drow described by the architect. The only difference is her eyes, milky white orbs instead of fiery red ones the architect described.

Mal alerts Xax with his mind and describes what he sees. Having no power left to speak of, Xax does the only thing he can: he runs for the mine. Mind linking with Zyn on board the ship, he asks if Hanos has returned with Sophie, to which she gratefully answers yes (and Sophie is still in one piece.) Xax then tells Hanos what is happening in the mine as well, sending the gnome mystic running out the door and towards the mine shaft.

Inside the mine, the dark elf steps towards Mal, speaking to him without using her lips. She introduces herself as Celia a moment before Mal extends his hand for a firm hand shake and introduces himself as Malcolm. The moment their hands touch, the world around Mal darkens for an instant to reveal a completely different part of the underground, a cavern much deeper and further away.

Xax and Hanos both arrive at the bottom of the mine shaft to meet up with Kreel and the architect, but Mal has disappeared. Searching for Mal in the direction the architect was told by Mal he had first heard the voice, nothing is found before Xax hear Mal tell him what has happened. Mal also explains that Celia has a suggestion what the source of the acid was that caused the collapse, an acid-spewing millipede-like creature called a spitter. Xax decides that a door into the underground must be found and sends for Zyn to send the three recently-hired “thieves” (the new crewmen and Sophie) down to help with the search.

Back in the deeper caverns, Celia recovers a ceremonial-looking spear that was left there, then turns to face Mal, confessing she has waited a long time to meet a “storm walker.” A dialog begins with Celia asking for Mal’s help but reluctant to say more about what she wants him to do. If he would but follow her, he would understand by seeing what must be done.

The thieves arrive with the males singing and Sophie looking disturbed (at their singing.) Joining the dwarves already scouting the passages, Sophie finds a wall too thin to be naturally occurring, and something is moving behind it. Kreel takes a pick to the wall, exposing a hole with something slick and black wriggling and writhing behind it. Taking Celia’s description to heart, Hanos conjurers minute meteors to pelt whatever lies with the hole. A loud thump against the cavern wall is the only reply. Sophie also sends a volley of magic missiles into the hole as well.

With nothing much seeming to work, Hanos unleashes a bolt a lighting into the hole, but the shortened space causes the bolt to arc inside the nest and effectively kills off everything inside. Acid leaking from the creatures eventually wears a hole in the wall, but Hanos transmutes the acid into water as it gushes from the hole. The carcasses of eighteen “spitters” spill on the ground.

Continuing on below, Mal tells Celia about Sanguine while she tells him about her own provider. Having traveled with Celia for over three hours and still tired from the beer run, Mal asks Celia when they can stop. Celia presses the issue, that they must be someplace in the morning, a special gathering. It is then that Mal notices a curious thing: Celia is blind, yet somehow navigates the caverns and lava tubes by memory or other means. Mal agrees to press on, again apprising Xax of the situation.

Back in the mine, the dwarves look on as Hanos gleefully dissects the acid spitters, discovering nineteen semiprecious stones worth fifty gold apiece in the stomach contents, highly polished from the acid. After Kreel gets his miners back to work, Sophie leaves the mine to talk to Tilto, finding him on Uriah’s vagabond. Sophie asks if he know that Lucas and the crew of the Ebon Falcon are actually dead, but Tilto doesn’t believe so. Titlo also warns “Lumi” that Aekblood is still looking for her, inviting her to come with Uriah and himself just to be safe, but Sophie refuses and head’s back to her new ship and crew.

Trying to gather his strength in case Mal needs him, Xax goes back to Nia to meditate. Moments later, Sophie arrives and knocks on Xax’s stateroom door to discusses her position on ship. As a show of trust, Sophie allows Xax to probe her mind and learn what he can about her. He learns about Calaboose, the elven prison planet on the edge of illithid space, then realizes that Sophie’s childhood was filled with tales of mind flayers portrayed as monsters to frighten elven children into behaving. Returning the trust shown him, Xax secures his warded stateroom to show himself as an unmasked illithid (not a mind flayer), illiciting a scream from Sophie. Following the encounter, Sophie leaves for the inn’s taproom and a well-deserved drink while Xax at last begins to recover from his meditation.

Running out of time because Mal simply cannot keep up with her pace, Celia takes Mal’s hand and shadow walks through multiple portals to her underground village. Her people, whom she calls the Bedim, sees that she has brought a “storm walker” down from above. The village wise woman, the sayer, confronts Celia. Mal isn’t privy to the mental conversation going on, but he can see the raw emotions on the faces of those involved. With the entire village looking on, Celia defiantly takes Mal into her dwelling.

Inside, Celia asks what Mal saw in the village. While there were plenty of adults and a few elderly but no children to speak of. Celia explains that she is the last born of her tribe and that no amount of procreation had resulted in offspring since her own birth. Mal suddenly realizes that her people are like his own and that Celia is trying to fix the problem with the hopes that the new blood of a “storm walker” will breathe renewed life into her people. Celia also confesses the act itself will be something that her provider, a deity called Hestyn who sometimes appears a great scavenger, would frown upon. But if successful, it would be worth the risk.

Mal recognizes the description of Hestyn’s avatar and reassuringly explains the issues at hand. He tells her that she is not alone and that he can help her, but nothing would result of their joining other than a pleasant encounter. Celia’s heart sinks at the revelation, knowing that either refusal or failure will result in her provider’s wrath and the eventual doom of her people. To console her, Mal describes his own lost family, including the origins of his surname “Stormbreaker” before Kaldera was destroyed. Celia marvels at Mal’s namesake; Mal not only walks in storms but can break storms as well!

With a better picture of what has been transpiring, Mal communicates his revelations to Xax. Gathering everyone on board that he can, Xax teleports to their location inside the dwelling to wait for morning and possibly take on a deity. Shortly afterward, the Bedim’s sayer, as if sensing her need, takes a seat at the mouth of the dwelling, blocking the exit while waiting for morning as well.

Just before daybreak, the sayer begins to speak with Hestyn’s voice. He is amused that the Last Born think they have any chance against him but also has softened his heart for Celia’s cause. The deity first stresses to Celia that the “storm walkers” are not the off-worlders as she believed but are instead “giants of the storm” that dwell on the surface. Hetyn also imparts to the group that the source of the childlessness in the universe is a wave originating from Imperium space where Rivershire was once thought have been. Celia asks her provider’s leave to join the Last Born as Mal offered, but Hestyn warns Celia that it would mean her exile, that she would never be allowed to return to discourage others from following. When she agrees, Hestyn banishes her and the rest of the Last Born back to Nia.

CONTINUE READING WITH “Just a Typical Day…”

Session XP: 5640 per player (before applicable 10% bonuses)

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About Kevin A. Ranson

Content Creator, Horror Writer, Film Critic. Heeding a macabre calling listening to "Mother Ghost Nursery Rhymes" in kindergarten, Kevin started writing in grade school and filled countless notebooks with story ideas while touring the Mediterranean in the US Navy. He is the author of The Spooky Chronicles and the vampire thriller series The Matriarch, creator/critic for MovieCrypt.com and "ghost writer" for horror host Grim D. Reaper. WEBFACEBOOKTWITTER
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One Response to Secrets of the Last Born

  1. KevinR says:

    I have to confess that I combined two of my favorite story lines from the original “Star Trek” series to shape this plot. One was “The Devil in the Dark,” where miners discover retribution for disturbing the a local critter’s natural habitat (and her whole family.)

    The other one was “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky.” While being infamous for its stock plot (ignorant natives, beautiful priestess, wrathful computer god), it also was the perfect vehicle for delivering a critical clue to the Last Born concerning the possible gravity of their quest.

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