A small white light pierced the dark of night one evening outside of the skymetal smithing town of Torch. Rhythmic and regular, it could not have been magical or even supernatural, and in Numeria, It could only be that which this nation alone offers: mysteries from beyond the stars.
Four fated adventurers, drawn to Torch and each other for their own reasons, investigated this strange and eerie light just outside of town. Matthias was a local of Torch, serving Brigh in her large temple in town. Baqir was a traveler from Osirion, interested in Torch’s iconic Black Hill, the purple flames that burst from it, and the skymetals that could be smelted within the flame. Aysel, a fugitive from the White Scar tribe (and by extension the Technic League), fled with her companion Momig, whom the League would be very interested in acquiring and “studying”. Alabaster, who fled his Shoanti clan to escape his immediate death, now delves the lost ruins of Numeria in search of secrets from the heavens. Coming together for companionship, safety, or business, they became allies.
The light originated from a spherical orb that stood on a metal rod jutting from the displaced earth beneath it. The adventurers decided to uproot it like a weed. Baqir took hold and unearthed two feet of the rod before uncovering a larger sphere; it was worn and old, but still bore a glowing hand symbol on its face. Cautiously, Matthias pressed his open palm to match the symbol; wth a loud and long grind, the sphere’s casing slid open to reveal a case inside. Upon removing the case, the locks on the case broke open and four metal rods sat in a padded mold, holding them in place. On closer examination, the rods were almost prismatic in color, changing their hue as they rotated. Strange gold filaments spread up and down the rods like blood veins with regular shapes and angles.
Before the group could take the rods back to town for study, they began to shake, shine, and then melt in their hands. They slowly took the form of plated gauntlets covered in runes representing numbers, and tiny needles bored into the flesh of the left arm and melded with the nervous system of each hero. They became a part of them.
With their new treasures concealed from the townsfolk, the heroes returned to Torch. Two days passed, and the town’s namesake suddenly went out. The violet flames that spewed from atop Black Hill had ceased, and after 8 days, five expeditions had explored the recently discovered caverns beneath Black Hill. Two of those expeditions included Khonnir Baine, a locally loved wizard and councilman of Torch. He never returned from his second visit, and two days later, the town council offered a 4,000 gp reward to any group who could recover his body, even promising to throw in a scroll of resurrection if they could bring him in alive.
The fledgling adventurers decided to investigate the missing council member’s home for clues as to what they may fight. Upon arriving at his home, which stood close to his foundry and tavern, the heroes heard a scream. They rushed to the rescue of Khonnir’s adopted daughter, Val Baine. The culprit of the attack was a broken-down drone built for repairs that had been reactivated somehow and begun to “repair” the surrounding building, threatening to bring it down on top of Val and everyone else. The robot was destroyed quickly, and Val was unharmed. As thanks, she offered them the tavern to sleep in and its food to eat for free while they searched the Black Hill for her father.
Her father’s note confirmed most of what Dolga told the heroes about Khonnir’s report, and added details about a dark metal wall in the caves that seemed to lead somewhere.
The first foray by the heroes into the caverns beneath Black Hill had them face giant beetles, a blindheim, and a dangerous patch of brown mold. During their exploration, they found the bodies of two Torch locals and had their bodies returned above ground, much to their respective families’ happiness. During this first delve, the heroes found seven silverdisks among some tech rubble. Curious that they seemed large enough to fit snugly into a round slot on the bracers that had been clasped onto them a week before, Baqir decided to try placing one into his own device.
The device finally sprung to life as it drained the silverdisk of power, causing one of the numbers on the hexagonal plate to light up. Six disks later, seven numbers were lit up in sequential order. The mystery deepened.
A second delve introduced the heroes to a small community of skulks who had ventured to the caves from a large pit that lead to the Darklands, their original home. They parlayed with the heroes, demanding that they drop their weapons and speak to their current chief. The heroes agreed to have half of their number drop their weapons, and they all agreed to speak to the chief.
The current chief was a skulk named Sef. She explained that they could pass by unmolested and with a reward if they promised two things: they would not hurt the remaining skulks (who would have been perfectly happy to gut the heroes but valued their lives more than a few baubles), and the heroes would clear out the jinkin gremlins in the nearby caves. The heroes cautiously agreed, but Baqir assured the chief that their actions would speak for them more than words; Sef agreed.
Sef shared that she had been visited by a woman with purple hair and several human, orc, and ratfolk allies of the strange woman. They offered large payment in return for the skulks attacking everyone who came in after them. The heroes had heard of a woman with purple hair in town who disappeared near the time the Torch went out. The skulks served well as the guards of the caves, but their reduced numbers were indication enough that their loyalties had been exhausted. She handed the heroes silverdisks and strange brown-stripped card-like objects. She remarked that the strange woman wanted any cards that they had, which originally convinced her they were valuable. She had not had her convictions confirmed thus far, however.
Stepping out of sight of the skulks and not too far into jinkin territory, the heroes resolved that they would try to fully charge Baqir’s bracer. When all ten numbers lit up, Baqir attempted to activate them. He could feel as though he was reaching out to someone, but nothing came back. Inquisitive Alabaster then placed ten silverdisks into his bracer, and they began to experiment. When the two spoke into the plate, they could hear the words their comrade spoke in their heads. When two or more of them pressed the same button, they felt a strange sense of unity, and could anticipate each other’s action to a degree. The buttons each seemed to be a single use before they required more power.
With this in mind, Aysel and Matthias powered their own bracers to full charge. The heroes now felt they had a strange new weapon on their hands.
While the jinkins gave the heroes a bit of trouble and several headaches, they were eventually put down, leader and all. As thanks, Sef granted the heroes the loot from previous expeditions that they had fought.
At the end of the caverns stood a large, dark metal wall with a single open door that led into a corridor of shattered steel, broken ancient bones, lost technology, and darkness. A single, fully functioning, repair drone stood between the heroes and other doors in the corridor. The drone fought fiercely, droning in a deep monotone that the heroes needed “repairs”. The drone was put down after some hero blood was lost.
A few more deserted rooms and strange devices later, the heroes halted at a sight they would not soon forget: an entire, starless, dark desert yawning before them, hundreds of feet under the earth.
As they stepped onto the sand, skeletons clicked to life, and red eyes watched them from the cliffs…