Nerd Dice: Chapter 3: Rot, Bones and Dust
Campaign: Changeling: Bellingham Chronicle Date: 26 May 2004
Baron Vortex drives to a quiet, unremarkable holiday house outside of East Sound to make a secret rendezvous. Inside, he meets Elyra, a very slinky snaky pooka. He knows her to be an agent for the Shadow Court, investigating the goings on at the Trod to see how the shadowy ones can turn the situation to their advantage.
The Baron makes it clear he's interested in the Trod as well, and that he doesn't mind working with the Shadow Court for a piece of the action. Elyra seems to play hard to get. She demands that the Baron give her information on how to destroy the monster haunting the Trod before she will agree to assist him.
After the meeting, the Baron returns to East Sound to meet up with the rest of the Motley. They gather in a fish & chips restaurant and go over the information they've uncovered so far-- except the Baron keeps his meeting with Elyra secret. The reports they've heard of the monster is that it's an enormous spider, covered in rotting flesh and made of human-looking bones, as if it was a zombie in spider form. This sparks in Glorin a dim recollection of a Native American myth. Tribes in the Pacific Northwest had a story about spirit creatures called Pu'gwis that looked like rotting corpses. They were supposed to be capable of singing so beautifully they can be alluring and cause forgetfulness.
The Motley decide to see if they can do any more research into this myth and leave the restaurant to try and do more research. As they leave, Glayven digs through a dumpster behind the restaurant and begins making a fish paste out of discarded scraps he finds there. Glorin soon finds the tiny local library branch and goes in with the Baron to do some research. He uses the library's computer terminal to search for more about the Pu'gwis on the web.
They print out some copies of information they find: several myths involving the corpselike creatures. However, they still have a little time before they were due to meet back up with Ji-Sun the nocker, so Timor joins Glorin and tells him a bit about how much he'd like to have a warhammer, and the two youngsters begin to research that as well.
Finally, the group decide that it's time to meet back up with the pernickety Nocker woman, and they all pile back into the Baron's car. Glorin is told to behave this time and they drive back toward Moran State Park and Ji-Sun's house. The surly mechanic hikes the group down to the beach, while Baron Vortex drives Seealla into the park. Ji-Sun tells the group a bit more about the Trod and points out the precise location where it opens, a few yards off shore.
Ji-Sun departs soon after, and the Motley meet up with the two sluagh at the campground. They begin to settle in at their campsite when they notice an all-too-familiar gang of Redcaps walking by. Abdul approaches them and the encounter turns to threats from both sides when Baron Vortex joins in soon after. The Baron, using his otherworldly skills, notices the wraith of a man hit by a car and tries to give the Redcap leader, Smash, the heebie jeebies. He fails utterly when they don't seem at all bothered, and the gang moves on, full of bravado, toward the beach.
After his apparent lost battle of words, the Baron begins to converse with the ghostly man, called Chad. Chad seems like a bit of a hippy, and is desperately afraid of cars. Mostly he's pleased to have someone to talk to, since most people can't see him or speak with him.
The late afternoon seems to stretch out a while, and evening approaches after nine. To kill time Glayven goes hunting for "special mushrooms" in the woods and then decides to share some with some cute college girls camping nearby. Baron Vortex decides he needs a quick glamour fix and begins telling depressing horror stories to some of the other college students to ravage them. Meanwhile Glayven seems to be making quite a bit of noise with the college girls. Seealla stays in the boot of the Baron's car, happily whispering to Clicks. Glorin, meanwhile, uses some chimera he's gathered to attempt to build his own gun, based on some information he tried to get about the Baron's pistol.
While the other Motley members seem to be preoccupied with their own amusements, Abdul decides to try to find the zombie spider that is scaring folks away from the trod. Timor, always ready for adventure, sets out as well. They scout around the beach near the Trod, but as the minutes tick by they tire of waiting and head into the woods. They travel along through the trees as the night gets darker. Soon they can overhear faint shouts and laughs from the Redcaps, who must be wandering the woods in search of the chimerical monster as well.
After Baron Vortex has had his fill of college students, he decides to strike out as well, knowing the giant spider is never seen until after dark. He cuts straight through the woods, with Chad the Wraith trailing along.
Just as Abdul and Timor come within range of the Redcaps, they hear an odd creaking noise, like the sound of a large piece of rope stretching. The creaking grows louder, and soon they see a huge shape looming through the trees. Not long after, the Baron, who had been following the creaking noise, intersects them in the woods, and the Redcaps are clearly nearby as well. The spider seems to ignore the Changelings, moving slowly and creakily toward the beach. The Baron approaches the spider and begins to follow the creature, but it still pays him no attention.
The unusual group walks back through the dark trees out to the beach. As the spider reaches the point on the shore nearest the Trod, it turns and suddenly becomes aggressive, attacking anything and everything near it. As it swoops down to grab the Baron in its mandibles, Timor sweeps up a piece of driftwood and knocks the monster away. The Baron and Abdul retreat, leaving Timor and the Redcaps to try and beat some dents into the giant pile of bones and rotting flesh.
The Baron backs up to a ridge overlooking the beach, and sees the oddly shaped dome rock above him. It reminds him of the message Dark Dahlia gave him a few days ago: "Ring the Bell." He climbs up the ridge and examines the rock as the Redcaps and Timor ineffectually battle below. He doesn't recognise the strange engravings around the stone, so he casts Willow Whisper on the rock. The stone begins to vibrate, sending out a huge deep toll that all Changelings on the island can hear.
At first, no one notices anything significant, but soon after the Baron spots something in the water approaching the shore. He can see a man out in the water raise a huge conch shell to his lips. The blast is so powerful it knocks the Baron unconscious and the giant spider is reduced to dust.
After hearing the immense blast from the Merrow's conch shell, Glorin (who had recently taken one of his special white pills) grew so frightened that he bolted from the Baron's car and began running around the woods in a panic. Glayven, finishing up with the last college girl, left for the beach to discover what was causing such a ruckus. The Baron revived himself and walked down to the beach where three fishy-looking people stood.
The Merrows thank the Baron for using their alarm bell to alert them of trouble at the Trod. They explain that they have been fighting with an aquatic family of Nunnehi in the Sound, and were unable to spare someone to attend to the Trod. The conch shell was a special weapon they possessed which could eliminate any enemy immediately threatening the Trod.
The Baron collects several small pieces of bone from the pile of dust that was Gore, the giant zombie spider chimera. The Redcaps leave, angry that they hadn't gotten to beat up the giant spider and unable to put up with the Baron's insufferable smugness. Timor, Abdul, Glayven, and the Baron head back to the camp site, where they find Glorin running around like a headless chicken. When they finally calm him down they all settle in and sleep for the night.