Numenera: Shadows of the Past

Aftermath Act IV

3 Billion's a Crowd

September 20: Morning

Guided by the Urgevek’s son, Bishen, the party journeyed east through the Cloudcrystal outskirts. As they travelled, the party observed large cavities and cracks in many of the land’s floating monolith crystals — a stigma caused by mining operations led by the Aeon Priests.

Bishen explained how the crystals were sacred to the Gaians, who believed the souls of the dead resided within them. Their ancient power, however, attracted the Aeon Priests and their misuse of the crystals ignited conflict between the Urgevek and the Amber Pope…

…Bishen was cut short as a black city appeared in the distance — the Crowd City. Unaware of any such settlement, Tranavaros asked the young Gaian about it.

According to Gaian beliefs, when the souls of the dead moved on, their corpses were taken by the death god, Amay, to build his eternal black city. Few Gaians had ever seen the dark place, as it was said to always move, sometimes remaining out of sight for centuries. The party discussed diverging around the city, though it would mean adding an extra week to their journey. Curious to find the truth behind the Crowd City legend, Tranavaros voted to enter the settlement. Jinx and Maxxos agreed, knowing rations would run low if they had to travel an extra week.

The party entered the city walls, taking notice of its roads and high towers, all made from preserved corpses. Hundreds of dead eyes watched as they passed on their aneen mounts. Stiff hands reached out, grabbing hold of one another and pulling bodies together to create new buildings and paths. At the centre of the city, thousands of bodies took the shape of a titan’s head. Curious, Tranavaros and Jinx led the party toward the monument, only to be halted by a tentacled monstrosity rising from the road — its yellow bulbous eyes glaring at the intruders.

Bishen identified the gruesome creature as a travonis ul, a servant of Amay. The ul wrapped its tentacles around fresh corpses, exposing its mouths on the appendages, which ate into the flesh and drained it of blood. After its feast, the creature’s many eyes gazed at the numenera held by the party members, taking an interest in the ancient devices.

Worried the ul would attack, En’ir and Theron threw glowglobes, hoping they would shatter against the creature and blind it with their light.

The ul caught two of the globes and devoured them with its tentacles. As it caught the third, Aegan fired an arrow, causing it to explode and blind the creature. The ul leapt forward, knocking Theron and capturing Maxxos with its tentacles — its mouths eating into his armour with each passing second.

Theron — thankful it was Maxxos and not him being eaten for once — charged the creature and broke its grip with his strength, freeing the captain-commander.

The party ultimately triumphed against the ul, with the final blow falling to Jinx. Cyphers and shins oozed out of the creature, along with organs and foul-smelling blackness. Before they had a chance to savour their victory, the ground beneath them rose with the city. Billions of corpses took the shape of the walking titan, Amay.

The party clung to the shoulder of the titan, standing thousands of feet above the ground. Amay turned north, each step nearly sending the party plummeting to their deaths. Realising the titan had to be stopped, Tranavaros, Theron, Ay’lin, and Jinx climbed into its ear and entered its head.

At the centre of the skull chamber, a bright crystal shimmered within a cage of petrified corpses. Theron attempted to punch through the cage, but failed. Tranavaros summoned a golem from the corpses nearby and watched as the fabricated minion took its turn to break the cage.

It was successful.

Ay’lin fired a bolt at the exposed crystal, cracking it.

Outside, the titan shook with pain, sending Maxxos, En’ir, and Aegan over the edge of its shoulder. The three managed to grab hold of corpses that made up the titan’s torso, avoiding instant death. Back inside the head, Ay’lin fired a second shot and destroyed the crystal.

Amay and the billions of corpses released a single, mind-shattering shout as they crumbled apart and fell in heaps across the barren ground. The party emerged from the mountain of bodies, relieved to be alive.

September 25: Evening

The party arrived at the Scorpion Crater, formerly the Scorpion Sanctum. Above, the sky grumbled and radiated heat and blood-red light.

They had made it to the Sky Tear.

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