Earlier this year, I started a new roleplaying game. But this time, it wasn’t D&D…

Instead, Andi Watson took me to the world of 1879 from FASA games (the same company that brought us Earthdawn). A combination of fantasy and historical fiction, 1879 takes the world we know on a different course. For my party, that meant travelling from London to the jungles of South America, in search of a steppe pyramid… and maybe something more.

My character in all of this is Dr. Ferris McFly, a Weird Scientist from Limerick, Ireland who was run out of town after another one of his failed experiments. He holed up in London in a place that barely qualified as housing, with little money and a handful of his tools and inventions to his name. But then, an opportunity arose and that is where our story starts…

Along with playing the game, we were asked to keep character journals, which would net us extra Adventure Points (AP) for the game. But you don’t need to understand the mechanics of the game to enjoy reading about the adventure, which I will try to keep updated here. We are now trying to stream our games over on Andi’s Twitch channel, but you can always catch up to the story thus far right here!

NOTE: Yes, my character is a walking ’80s reference. No, I do not apologize for it.

 

Dr. Ferris McFly’s Fantastic Beasts and How to Avoid Them

I received a letter from a Rupert Hastings asking me to dinner. Probably trying to get investors for a soap franchise. Still, very hungry, so worth pursuing.

Hastings implored me to join an expedition to the Americas, landing someplace named Flow Rider. While I have many irons in the fire, most have likely melted while I was away. Therefore, an all-expenses paid vacation sounds like a worthwhile venture. Dinner was a bit bland, made significantly better due to being free. This airship I’m boarding will surely have better meals that are also free. I did question the word “treason”, but everything should be fine. I signed his contract.

I have boarded the HMS Elizabeth Crown Jewel, an airship that flies on… wishes? Not sure yet. Aerodynamics is not my specialty. Accommodations are outstanding, except that I share them with other members of my party. This may be a sort of psychological experiment by the Crown. Perhaps the real expedition is in the mind? This is why I rarely trust government types. Luckily, I found a secluded room where I can be as antisocial as I care.

The ship has been attacked by giant bats. This brings back some troublesome memories of falling into a cave when I was but a boy, only to be surrounded by bats. They swore to help avenge my parents murder, but broke that promise when they realized my parents were still alive. I will never trust bats again. Seeing one shot down gave me a certain level of catharsis. This particular bat had a very long, hard nose. Reminds me of an ornithopter I was building back in Ireland. Notably this is much uglier.

A late night scavenging run has proved fruitful. It is amazing the perfectly good components that are simply lying around behind barred doors and guarded rooms. I shall begin work on new projects when we reach this My Hammy, Flow Rider.

My Hammy has a surprising lack of pork. However, the temperature is so high, I may be smoked and barbecued myself by the time we leave.

I tried to rent a bicycle shop from a very irate shopkeep. Surprisingly, he had no interest in renting his shop out for free. So, I did the logical thing of breaking in at night. Work on the “Honeycomb” prototype deployable shield went well enough, but field testing is necessary. Unsuspecting volunteers may need to be procured.

A far cry from the airship, we boarded a flightless ship called the Nuestra Senora de la Santisima Trinidad. We now head to an even hotter and more uncomfortable area of the world below the Equator. Perhaps I will succumb to heat exhaustion before we arrive. How fortuitous that would be!

Arrived in Carapace. Regretfully, I remain conscious. The party wanted to make sure we had rations and supplies. I left them to all that technical tripe. Meanwhile, I found myself busy scrounging through the back alleys of the town and looking for useful books in the library. There was a children’s book about death and dinosaurs. I checked it out permanently.

Now deep in the jungle, we secured a boat to travel down river. The mosquitos have been brutal, but my team has proven surprisingly useful. The handsy lady tried to rub weeds on me. I declined. Instead, I fashioned another lovely device to stun flying insects. Attached to the front of the boat, I believe it should be sufficient for a few days of round-the-clock use. I have dubbed this new invention “Goldblum’s Revenge” after an old colleague we lost to electrocution when he tried to swat a fly near a transformer. Justice has now been served.

The trip down river has become a bit tedious. Several days have passed now and my hair has started to mold in odd ways. It now stands straight up on the top and drapes down the back. No amount of coaxing can force it back to it’s original shape. However, the time has allowed me to improve upon my Goldblum’s Revenge model so it can be a portable staff. This should prove useful in my war on small flying insects.

Crocodile mating rituals are proving quite dangerous when in the proximity of our boat. Keeping the scaly critters from our very vulnerable position has proven difficult. Luckily, the naked lady has been working on stunning them and the hunter is making bright flashes with gunpowder. I also have an electrified staff now, so that helps.

I have been thrown into the water twice by crocodiles. The first time, they grabbed my staff and tossed me like a rag into the drink. For some reason they had an aversion to being stunned. I scrambled back onto the boat, but they knocked me back in while I was catching my breath. Luckily my troll compatriot was able to fish me out. I attempted revenge by shooting my energy gun (known in certain circles as The Fires of St. Elmo, or FOSE for short), but it is quite hot now, likely due to the water logging. Maybe it’s a water gun now. Unfortunately, my staff now lies at the bottom of the river. I will rebuild it, better than before. Of this I swear upon the memory of Goldblum himself!

Once the beasts were thwarted and my clothes were dry, we took a group photograph with one of the defeated beasts, before turning it into dinner. I then set about repairing and rebuilding my poor inventions. Apparently, FOSE had undergone a heating malfunction after being submerged in water. I was able to fix that problem for the future. Additionally, I realized I could improve it’s intensity by smoothing out the focusing crystal. Now if I could only shoot my way out of a paper bag, this could prove quite lethal indeed.

Then I turned my attention to yet another stun staff. Having lost the component to build a pole, I opted to make a stunning device that could affix to any long cylinder available. This new mobile shock device (coined Goldblum’s Legacy) should prove useful against insects and possibly large insectoid species bent on world domination. Although I have never seen such things, this is the first time I have been to South America, so I am keeping an open mind.

Finally, I started work on a portable smoker, useful for long-term food preservation. This was suggested by the rest of the expedition and I felt it was the least I could do as they have basically saved my life continuously since our arrival. It also seems practical for survival, which I am partial to doing. Work has now begun on The 16th Candle.

We finally arrived in a rural town, presumably free of crocodiles. I set about getting more information on other creatures that might try to eat me. The locals told me of large cats, venomous snakes and some strange upright lizards. I feel like I should have been crafting more armor and less earthenware cooking devices on my voyage. Oh well.

Further into the day, I set about finding a pole for my stunning staff. The locals directed me to a darkened room that smelled of grain alcohol and sadness. In the middle of the room, under dim red lights, there was a woman dancing with the aforementioned pole, although I could not tell which one was more satisfied with their life up to that point. She was surrounded by men staring awkwardly at the pole, affirming it’s desirability. I was able to trade the lady my original Goldblum’s Revenge bug stunner for her pole. I feel that this trade was mutually beneficial. She seemed far happier with the idea of avoiding tropical diseases than dancing with an inanimate object. I, however, prize my inanimate objects, as they do not require socialization. This pole shall be my new best friend. I quickly affixed Goldblum’s Legacy to the top.

Later that night, I attempted to memorize our map. However, thoughts of my earlier encounter in the dark corners of this sin-laden town distracted me. I came back to it in the morning and, with the help of our mud-covered exhibitionist, was able to turn the map right-side up. This helped immensely.

To my dismay, we set out to the jungle yet again. Our nights were relatively uneventful, until I awoke one morning to the knowledge that one of those bipedal lizards had been sniffing my tent. I am now down one pair of pants, which were unsalvageable and have likely been reclaimed by the jungle itself. All my pants are brown, which was unintentional but strangely fortuitous. I shall try to craft my own clothes in the future, so I can assure they are stain-resistant and hand-washable. Microbial protection will also be a priority.

One of these days I should really learn the names of my fellow party members. Up to this point, I have been referring to them as “god enthusiast,” “machete troll,” “naked spell lady” and “photograph hunter.” Scratch that, their real names could not be better than those descriptions. Still wondering if I should bother with our guide’s name, although he may literally be called “Guide”. As in, “It was Guide’s fault we were thrown into the water.” I certainly hope Guide can’t understand Irish.

I have been warned not to lick trees. Surprisingly, this information is quite useful. I was planning on examining the trees for resin I could use to coat future shields. The knowledge passed on by the other expedition members (who’s names I have purposely chosen to ignore) has proven invaluable to avoiding death in this pursuit. The lady of mud asked me if I was sure the locals said anything about lizards that walk on all fours. I assured her they only warned me of the bipedal variety we had encountered earlier. Of course, now I am equally scared of the prospect there are even more dangerous reptilian creatures about and I am starting to wonder how much I truly risked to get a free meal so very long ago.

We have stumbled upon a French expedition, or at least their lifeless bodies. At first, I suspected they were mimes engaging in a sort of interpretive art installation, but it turns out they were simply dead. Some artists are apparently more committed than others. While the naked spell lady stared at a ring, I endeavored to pry a satchel from beneath one of the bodies. The brief smell of elderberries distracted me, but I was able to utilize a branch to pull the strap without having to touch anything French. The satchel contained various papers with many unnecessarily French words, full of pretentious apostrophes and far too many “E”s. Most concerning was the content of the papers, which described a mission very similar to our own. It appears this was another group hired by a lord to research a mystery in the jungle. If only they had not suffered the disadvantage of being French, they might have made it too. Luckily, they did have a useful map that will shorten our travel time significantly. I committed it to memory. We considered burying the three unfortunate adventurers, but lacked the required trebuchet and 21 baguette salute. It was probably for the best, as they can now continue the impromptu art piece, which I shall refer to as The Body Exhibit from this point onward. On the bright side, I salvaged a “lovingly used” pair of pants. I fear I will need many of these as we explore deeper into the jungle.

As night started to fall, I aided the lethal lensman in setting up a photo trap to catch one of these bipedal lizards on camera. As legend has it, the lizards believe taking their photo will steal their soul, so this plan is sound. I also worked with the troll to clean weapons found at The Body Exhibit. While I may be skilled at building modern marvels of technology, basic maintenance and cleaning was never my strong suit. However, this troll has military experience. Despite his best efforts, though, my ability to fix a basic firearm or sharpen a machete remains substandard. I shall put it on my bucket list. For those not aware, a “bucket list” is a list of things to accomplish before you inevitably get your head stuck in a water bucket and die of asphyxiation.

The hunter and I took first watch that night, at which point we were greeted by four scaly friends. They stayed in the shadows, but had a hunger in their eyes that made them both terrifying and relatable. It was not long after being relieved from watch that our compatriots told us we would need to address our unwanted guests sooner rather than later. I tossed out the Honeycomb, threw Goldblum’s Legacy in the ground behind me and unholstered the FOSE. We stood in a circle as the monsters befell us. However, these lizards had never encountered the power of exhibitionism and our scantily clad companion had half of them down before they could even move. The troll downed another and the hunter seriously annoyed the last. Finally, this was my time to shine. Perhaps I would finally shoot something with success. And lo, on this night, I would finally hit something with a projectile weapon. A searing bolt cut through the air and dropped the last one instantaneously. As the rest of the party went about dealing with the other three unconscious lizards, I stood above my scaly victim. Flashbacks of all the leathery evil that had befallen me up to this point came rushing back at that moment. I thought of the winged demons that ruined my afternoon nap upon the airship. I mourned the loss of my stun staff at the hands of the water monsters known as “crocodiles”. I lamented the loss of a perfectly good pair of pants to one of these overly-curious reptilians. And then, with fury in my eyes, I began shooting the lizard repeatedly.

I am become death, destroyer of lizards. I am the 1.0 and the 2.0. They may take my life, but they shall never take my pants again. I’m just a boy, standing in front of a burning lizard, asking it to fear me. I’m here to kick arse and chew bubblegum and I haven’t invented bubblegum. Nobody puts Ferris in a corner!

Suddenly, I snapped out of my fugue state, as my party rushed to pull me from my conquest. What strange feeling has befallen me? Is this what it feels like to be useful in a combat situation? Such a feeling is new and strange, but I enjoy it with pulsating excitement.

In the interest of not getting bitten or clawed to death, my newest project would be a shield. Not a shield like my deployable Honeycomb, but a physical shield I could strap to my forearm. Since the photographically-inclined hunter had set aside a number of crocodile skins for such a thing, I began working with the leather to build something equally light and strong. My efforts seemed to pay off with the added benefit of being quite stylish. I imagine these shields would be quite the rage in Paris, although I have not encountered a living Frenchman on this expedition to test that hypothesis. Once the shield looked hard and round, I used my advanced scientific mind to enhance it even further. My great innovation? Smear some resin on it. I must credit naked spell lady for pointing out the useful ingredients in this resin. It will only harden for limited periods when I activate it’s tower shield mode, making it much larger and harder, perfect for hiding under when attacked by lizards. This was done by design. Now that I have a working model, I can attempt to recreate it with the other crocodile skins for the rest of the expedition. One day soon, a hope to equip us all with the “Rock of Crocodiles”.

After a long journey and multiple pairs of pants, we have arrived at the steppe pyramid. The entrance was obvious enough to locate, but it’s dark, foreboding nature mixed with the lateness of our arrival prompt the party to set up camp before venturing deeper. By my suggestion, we made sure to set up camp on a level above the entrance as I hear the higher ground is indicative of success in combat. Who knows what evil lives in this place? And we all know that evil is much weaker during the day. That’s just science.

Something odd has happened. Correction, many odd things have happened. The first occurred when spell lady used astral sight to see the unseen. What she witnessed seemed shocking. Curious to be apprised of such shocking things, I begged the troll soldier to grab one of the large glass-wing butterflies for me, which he snatched out of the air with ease. Using a basic chemical compound derived from local flora, I approximated my formula for astral sight screen. It’s a lotion of sorts I was toying with back in my Limerick workshop that can be applied to clear surfaces to peer into the astral plane. You can also use it on your skin for a healthy glow and sun protection, assuming you are fine with being blue for 8-12 hours afterwards. Anyway, I did the obvious thing of spreading this lotion on the butterfly’s wings and placing the very-confused insect on the bridge of my nose. You know, typical science stuff. As it flapped it’s wings, I saw brief glimpses into the astral, with bright lights of indescribable colors, but mostly purple. It was at this point that spell lady had a better idea and produced her goggles for lotion application. After placing a small leash on my new butterfly companion, I set it down and put on the goggles. This proved more effective and caused a revelation: it wasn’t so much purple as magenta. Also, there appears to be a sizable doorway to another world that resembles the Rabbit Hole. That was also important. Note that I had little understanding of the Rabbit Hole up to this point, especially compared to my fellow travelers who were more personally affected by it’s presence. To me, it seemed like another annoyance in an already annoying world and I accurately predicted it would raise property values in my area. Tourism has been a nightmare ever since.

In the morning, I went to fetch my butterfly friend I now called The Stranger. Alas, my lotion had hardened it’s wings and it expired in the night, yet it lived more in one day than most butterflies live in a lifetime… which is usually a month. Soon a realized I could fashion a frame around Stranger and place a small stick handle near it’s side to make a very regal pair of astral spectacles. I shall name it “Stranger Wings” in it’s honor. This shall also be all the rage in Paris. Perhaps I should talk to the hunter about a small measure of taxidermy… I wish Stranger to be preserved for all of time as long as it’s wings are intact. As an added benefit, the wings can still fold up so long as rigor mortis has not set in.

Regretfully, we started our decent into the pyramid. Whoever built this was either particularly short or exceptional at limbo. The stairs wound their way downward, as my party crawled through each descent. I, however, had a much better idea and rode my new Rock of Crocodiles down the staircase like a slide. In addition to being faster and less work overall, it was the most enjoyable part of this expedition since I had that free dinner back in London.

We came across some strange glyphs on the wall. The spell lady has been trying her many magical tricks to decipher them, but to no avail. However, I think they make perfect sense. As I read it: snake, cat, bird, monkey, water, bigger snake, watersnake, wind, snake and bird armwrestling, cat on a hot pitch roof, my mother, tree, monkey protesting deforestation, three snakes in the wind, a tree caught in a cat, magenta monkey washing dishes, cat scratch fever, catbird versus monkeysnake, my father’s disapproval and double rainbow. But what does it all mean?

As we approached the next doorway full of unknown dangers, we encountered a new problem. Some discourteous animal had decided to die right next to the door on the opposite side, blocking our passage. While we could get it slightly ajar, enough for three of us to squeeze through, our resident troll was not able to do so. After constructing an elaborate pulley system with the spell lady’s climbing gear, we were able to dislodge this bad omen to proceed further. It wasn’t much longer before we encountered a pressure plate and slits in the wall. Yes, even more bad omens. Using my Honeycomb and Rock of Crocodiles, we blocked the slits while spell lady disarmed the trap. Fortunately, she found some bits and bobs that proved educational. Specifically a piece of fiber rope strengthened with a resin similar to the one I used previously. Instead of making objects rock hard, this resin kept the rope pliable. I feel like I could have used this to keep Stranger alive or make some sturdier pants. Either way, I shall remember this in the future.

After coming to another junction, we stupidly decided to take the route where beasts have obviously tread before. I suppose I could list this under hazard pay for my expense report. As I feared, we ran across a hole that was definitely not part of the original pyramid design. Likely it was blasted to create a new route through this place. These people were obviously fans of being eaten. I again blame the French. Worse yet, we found another blasted hole in the main chamber and a large bi-horned creature eating weeds. Luckily, this “bihornizard” was so mesmerized by this plant it was munching on to worry about munching on me. The photo hunter took it upon himself to try climbing through this large hole that appeared to lead outside. Troll and spell lady looked through boxes in search of new treasures, of which they discovered a lovely golden jaguar statue. In my opinion, this is the only acceptable type of jaguar: immobile and made of precious metals. I spent my time admiring the architecture of this place, especially it’s unstable nature. I thought it a good idea to alert the hunter to this information, right around the time he tripped and fell down. Perhaps I was a tad late on that warning. Worse yet, it appears that whatever force created said hole has destabilized this new Rabbit Hole. As always, we quickly blamed the French. This is definitely above my pay-grade, or at least that will be the case I make to Lord Hastings upon our return. If he decides to increase my pay-grade, I suppose that is simply a compromise I will reluctantly accept before heading off on a therapeutic shopping spree.

The most capable melee fighter among us, a troll with military experience, decided to take a personal day while the rest of us checked the boxes and sarcophagi in this room. This could have been quite beneficial. Ancient ruins often contain valuable treasures that could be sold for useful materials. Unfortunately, the two-horned beast I have now dubbed “Rhinocer-Dos”, decided to stop chewing it’s party weeds and turned it’s ire toward us. Since the troll was apparently taking a sunbath, this was going to be a 3-on-1 fight. I found this quite unfair. Still, I deployed the Honeycomb as usual. The Rhinocer-Dos tried to ram through it and failed, although it’s attempt was admirable. I would need to do some repairs on the Honeycomb after two sharp horns had passed through it. I hit it with the FOSE, which it did not appreciate. While the spell lady kept it busy, the photo hunter had a clever idea and stood in front of the magic doorway. And with the agility of a bull fighter, he led the Rhinocer-Dos halfway into a different plane of existence. It did not appreciate this either, or at least I imagine that would be it’s reaction were it responsive at all. A good piece of news, however, we have even better leather for shields now.

Spell lady and I cautiously opened the boxes in the room. However, we were not cautious enough and were hit with a dart trap. I felt wibbly, wobbly, but also timey and whimy. After finding a comfortable spot to fall down, I threw on my Stranger Wings and witnessed a spectrum of colors previously beyond comprehension. The troll had returned from picking flowers or something (I did not ask nor care) and I regaled him with tales of the expansive nature of the Universe. He was unimpressed. I threw up in his general direction. He remained unimpressed.

In the morning, I woke to a terrible migraine and the realization that the Universe is probably quite boring. Most of it is just a vacuum and I can build a vacuum. Stupid Universe! The troll was already missing, probably to wash his armor in a stream or something. With luck, the night’s vomit incident would not affect our non-existent relationship. I try not to judge others, but anyone who holds a grudge after getting covered in bile by a relative stranger would not survive a day in Ireland.

For some unknown reason, the others insisted on opening more of the boxes. This time, we were smarter, as if the last round of poison darts had opened our third eye. We devised a box-opening claw device, which worked exactly once. Luckily, that was the last of these boxes. It held no notable items, except archeological pieces someone back in London might appreciate. I, however, did not see the magical beans I needed. How would I get my golden goose back from that giant now? Correction, how would I steal the golden goose a second time now? Perhaps I was still feeling the effects of that dart.

And so, we pressed on to the sarcophagi. I cautioned my team against this, as I had heard tales of these burial chambers containing mummies. They assured me mummies were only native to Egypt and no known species existed in South America. They opened the first sarcophagus while I pushed on it, unemphatically, with my staff.

The troll was taking an awfully long time washing up. I started to wonder if he got smart and simply left for Flow Rider again. Perhaps I would have joined him if we were on speaking terms.

Right around the time of my pondering, the lid slid over to reveal a golden staff. This would be cause for celebration, were the staff not held by a mummy. If this mummy were not as active as my imagination, I would have used this opportunity to berate my comrades for believing the Mayans were not as obsessed with the undead as the Egyptians. However, more fighting was underway. Strange how the troll has missed all the fighting. Perhaps he has a monster-smacking quota that shall not be exceeded. It immediately attacked the hunter, as it did not want it’s picture taken. The undead are notably camera shy, as documented in the novel “Post-Life Etiquette for the Pre-Dead Explorer”. I should really lend him a copy upon our return. Spell lady was able to immobilize it with vines, giving the hunter time enough to aerate a portion of it’s head.

Something in this pyramid must have a memory-wiping effect as the team immediately sought to open another sarcophagus. Before they could go kicking another can of hornets (reminder to start plans for Can of Hornets), I suggested working on an improved opening system. Specifically, I wanted to rig a pulley system that lifted the lid straight up. If we encountered another mummy, letting go of the rope would slam the lid back down on it’s head. This would prove quite detrimental to it’s health, were it not already dead. Perhaps the troll will return from his extended bath by then. He did smell horrible at last I saw him. That might have been partially my fault.

With the party back in full force, we attempted to open the next sarcophagus. I failed to convince my party that I could build a suitable lid-lifting system and they impulsively went with the troll lifting it by hand. This did not end well. The lady mummy that inevitably resided in the sarcophagus assisted the troll in lifting the lid and proceeded to smack a golden staff over his head. The troll then became infatuated with the mummy, which I can understand. I had a May-December romance once upon a time, but never engaged in a Bronze Age-Steel Age romance.  But how would I explain it to my parents or those bats? Perhaps the civilized world is not so civilized after all.

For a moment, I thought I might have to fight the troll for her attention, but what luck, another female mummy burst forth from the remaining sarcophagus. She likes long walks on the beach, ruling over the proletariat and archery. Unfortunately, the archery part was most relevant here and she began turning our hunter into a pincushion. But the hunter can give as good as he gets and shot quite a few holes in our hopeless undead romantics. The troll’s infatuation was cut short after his crush was killed off and he took out his frustrations on the archer. By this point, I had dove headfirst into an open sarcophagus and deployed the Honeycomb a second time. My first attempt left much to be desired as did throwing my hide shield which now sat sadly on the ground.

With the mummies dispatched, we took a better look at the shiny weapons they held. Worth note was the bowstring. It appeared to have a similar effect as my FOSE, although this string appears stronger than my gun. That makes me envious and also angry and also sad. I shall call this feeling “sangrious”. Spell lady recovered my hide shield, which she refers to as the “Croc of Aegis”. I hate that this is far catchier than “Rock of Crocodiles” and cannot get it out of my head now. I must rename it for future iterations, while taking all the credit in the process. Putting it on the list. For now, I’ll refer to it as the “ROC” for brand recognition.

I again took the opportunity to reiterate how much better this unboxing would have gone were I given the opportunity to build my lid-lifter. No one cared.

We attempted to patch up the hunter, but those nasty arrows had done a number on him. Despite all logic and reason, we resigned to split the party, with spell lady, guide and myself heading into the jungle to look for medicinal plants. We found her magical root thing quickly and rapidly moved back to the temple. I fell climbing down the hole and now know how the hunter felt. The falling part, not the arrows part, obviously. “Walk it off!” they say. I sprained an ankle, I can’t walk it off. That actually makes it worse. It’s times like these I wish someone in our party had proper medical training. I would build a doctor, but lack the necessary experience, skills and facilities to do so… yet.

Upon further inspection of this room, spell lady alerted us to the possibility we may soon be glowing and grow a tail. Well, technically, she said that there is an energy in this room that may be responsible for the angry mummies and magical items, but that is all the same to me.

After a long debate over whether to build a litter or papoose to carry the hunter to a higher level, we dragged him back to the level above. While we were waiting for him to recover over the next several days, I proceeded to build him a shield, which might help if he encounters any more undead archers. It’s not as nice as my own and much less resplendent with science, but it will do.

Once the hunter was back on his feet, we discussed how to proceed. He was intent on playing with the big energy portal thing, because poking the other side of reality with a stick is essentially our career now. Ironically, he suggested literally poking a long stick through the doorway. I asked the troll if we would get his commission if he were to meet an unfortunate end. His response was a mild affirmative, which I took as a sign the hunter should absolutely go through with his plans. Suddenly I felt compelled to help him build the necessary equipment needed to do his experiment.

For a moment, a notion passed my mind. Perhaps one of the hunter’s camera lenses could be augmented with astral sight, but whether our current film development technology would register such a thing. Might just keep that in my metaphorical hat for now.

I supervised an experiment where the hunter put a stick through a magical hole. There are absolutely no double entendres that can be made from this scenario. He felt a tingling sensation when he stuck it in. When he pulled the stick out, it had miraculously grown in size. Spell lady explained that the stick now had some magical glowing goo on it. The hunter then planted the stick so he could admire it later. He then tried quickly shoving another stick into the hole and pulling it out immediately. He was disappointed with the results as he was blasted backwards. The stick was also placed aside for further study. Then he held another stick over his head and inserted it into the hole in a vertical fashion while positioned in a defensive stance. Using a swirling method inside the hole, he did not seem to hit anything. Now three sticks stood erect in the ground, of various sizes and girths. The next stick he inserted became ice cold, frigid even. I warned him to treat the hole with the respect it deserved, but my advice fell on deaf ears and frozen hands. Spell lady tried to push two of the sticks together to no avail. The hunter was back at it, trying to place yet another stick into the hole from the top down. He came away wounded from this experiment. It was around this time I started to wonder if he had ever seen a hole before. I have never witnessed a man end up so irrevocably injured by wielding a stick, including myself in my salad days. Deciding that this hole was exit only, we started packing up to leave. However, the first stick, which was still growing in size and width, was particularly interesting to the spell lady. She tried to dispel it’s magic, but this veritable tree trunk was having none of it. In fact, having the lady work her magic on the stick appeared to excite it even further. After focusing on it for a great while, she discovered the power within to release all the stick’s power in a burst of energy, that was palpable to even a casual voyeur such as myself. She was now able to touch the stick without issue and decided it was pleasant enough to keep with her. This new ten-foot long friend would serve her well for all her days. She has not given it a name, but I am calling it Morning Wood for now. Finally, we could work our way back out of the ruins.

I just realized that a stick looks an awful lot like a dingwallace, doesn’t it? Wonder if anyone else noticed that.

Exploring the remainder of the steppe pyramid proved troublesome. I tripped and felt a shower of soft rocks hit me on the head. At first, this seemed like a simple inconvenience. Unfortunately, these rocks had legs and were really large spiders the whole time. This was a series of unfortunate events that left me quite vulnerable. The arocknids charged at me, fangs extended and bit me many times. Attempts at stunning it with Goldblum’s Legacy failed (impressively), but I had forgotten that we already had a one woman stun brigade. Before my very eyes, the arocknids now resembled an Irish pub after two in the morning: twitching, incoherent and full of poor life choices. We squished them immediately. There was no way I would be reliving this experience in the future.

I just realized that arocknids look an awful lot like nardledanglers, don’t they? Wonder if anyone else noticed that.

As the spell lady smashed Morning Wood down on the last arocknid, it became aroused and attacked. Of course, it decided to attack me. As it lunged on top of me, I dropped to the floor and fell unconscious. Passing out on the floor seems to be a common occurrence on this trip. I awoke to find Morning Wood in my face. It will take many months of therapy to get over this moment. However, the giant stick had apparently healed some of my wounds, so I would say I had mixed emotions. The arocknid that lunged at me lay motionless and I insisted that we keep it as a trophy… or body pillow. Perhaps it contains a geode, but I suppose that is future planning.  We shall bring it back to a science museum or something. However, my main priority was to not die, so it was back to camp for me.

The next day, we continued our march of self-destruction. Stumbling upon a field of sarcophagi and chests, the team insisted on opening everything, despite the unfortunate circumstances we encountered previously. Before they began randomly popping off lids, I volunteered to build a rudimentary crane that would act as my aforementioned lid lifter. They consented and I began collecting rocks and boards. Well, I directed the troll to collect rocks and boards, but supervising is important. My lid lifter successfully did it’s job on all the chests and a few of the sarcophagi. It would have continued working were it not for spell lady alerting us to a magic fog rolling in. The sarcophagi then proceeded to move of their own accord and we set up a defensive position in the hallway. This march of self-destruction was living up to it’s name. By the time the new mummies on the block besieged us, I could just throw out the Honeycomb in front of one attacking the troll. It slowed the other mummies’ progress, but it did not improve their attitudes. Despite biting my ankles and generally lacking the manners of a proper undead society, we were able to thwart all eight. My ankle is slightly annoyed that we did not thwart them sooner, but things could have been much worse and likely will be before we leave this jungle.

A few more doors were still closed. While the hunter was strong-willed to open everything, the rest of the crew felt less excited. I, for one, was getting tired of almost dying horribly in a hidden temple. However, I was inclined to try one more door, as long as it was the nicest one. If nothing good lay behind that, it was time for me to pack up my brilliant inventions and return to civilization. Well, technically I suppose we are in the remnants of a civilization, but I mean one that currently boasts a theater district.

Luckily, our last expedition through a large stone door was less dire. We uncovered the art gallery, or possibly the gift shop. The photo hunter did what he did best and took pictures of the ancient writings on the wall and pillar. Spell lady and I memorized a couple of the pillars. I still have no idea why these ancient people sided with my father and his rampant disapproval of my chosen profession. Obviously they did not understand genius either. No, YOU are a purple monkey washing dishes!

Outside the temple, spell lady warned us of a giant yellow eye staring at us through the woods. We decided to wait at the temple long enough to track this monster’s path, as dealing with giant beasts was neither covered in my contract nor beneficial to my survival. This day would be spent watching a dinosaur meander around a jungle. Suddenly, I had a very interesting idea for a theme park. Come to think of it, the gift shop was already in place, so monetization was not an issue. And we already had the camera for guest portraits. Making a mental note here to return with electrical fencing so we can build “Triassic Town”. Oh, yes, this shall be a surefire means of building my fortune.

Once the morning came, I was told to lay beside a giant footprint for a photo. I was starting to wonder why we could not simply enjoy the experience of living in constant danger instead of simply recording it. This did not matter much, as the giant monster who appeared to be missing in action was actually just throwing a surprise party for us. A mad dash to a higher elevation was in order to outrun the colossal beast. I was in good company for this, as the rest of the party cared less about self-preservation than I. They were more than willing to attack and run, while I took the strategic action of run and run. Before we knew it, we were out of reach of the giant lizard’s tiny hands. Obviously this aggressive behavior was him compensating for such things. The hunter took another picture, spell lady threw another spell at it and somehow we had become the distilled essence of ourselves through the process.

Perhaps I would need to rethink Triassic Town. Who knew dinosaurs were so dangerous? Paleontologists in my social circle were always so entertaining and they deal with these creatures on a daily basis. I shall require a word with some people if they ever let me back into Ireland.

Finally, we could make the long, arduous trek back to London, by way of Carapace and My Hammy. I began work on another armor project, this time for the spell lady, who insisted I make the smallest piece of clothing known to mankind. I suggested a tasteful pair of leather bracers, made to be as fashionable with clothes as without, because we all know that will happen. Once I have a better facility, I plan on outfitting these bracers with shielding technology when pressed together. She tried to explain something about my whole process being magic, but everyone knows magic is just science you have yet to understand. Apparently, though, not everyone did know that, so here we are. So, while around the campfire, she asked me to imbue a wreath of flowers with astral sight, so I can now confirm that she did not attend Oxford. I mean, neither did I, but let’s not make this about me. The hunter gave me one of his prized photo slides, which made a much better canvas for crafting and I set to work building a new resin for this glass. She watched intensely, as if this were the first time she had seen glass. Perhaps these spirit threads she mentioned were affecting her eyesight. Perhaps it was the intoxicating fumes coming off my resin mixture. Either is a valid explanation.

Back in the village, I checked with the nice lady who gave me my pole. She assured me the original Goldblum’s Revenge was doing quite well and kept the mosquitos at bay, by which she meant the male patrons. I assured her that the pole had served me well as Goldblum’s Legacy, but that I had found a shinier staff made of gold I planned on using now, renaming it Goldbling’s Legacy, because I’m clever. Of course, she asked if she could have her pole back and, of course, I said no. While I may not be using it currently, there are always useful applications for long metal rods. Spell lady told me as much.

Back in Carapace, we endeavored to get out of Carapace as quickly as possible. Luckily we could catch the boat back to My Hammy if we hurried. Goodbye sweet continent of untold danger and disease! You shall not be missed.

Back in My Hammy, I again asked the terse fellow at the bicycle shop if I could utilize the facilities for a shiny pound. He consented under the condition they continue working in my vicinity. And so, I rolled up my sleeves and threw in the blue collar workers of Flow Rider. Well, technically, I never roll up my sleeves because I suffer sunburns standing in the shade. Also, I do not remember any of them wearing a sleeved shirt, but it’s a metaphor. Metaphors are like analogies: It’s better not to think too much about them.

At last I could finish these bracers, but creating a honeycomb shield effect would take far longer than the day I had. Still, I must say, they proved to be both functional and fashionable. Perfect for the type of person who may wear clothing or go au naturale, which I hate to say since it sounds so very French. Come to think of it, crocodile bracers would go over quite well in Paris. I could probably charge them an ungodly sum as well, assuming I say the crocodiles surrendered and were later decapitated with a guillotine. Oh yes, the Parisian mimes will give me all their baguette money for these!

Back on the airship, I sequestered myself in my cabin. Unburdened with the threat of impending doom, I could tinker with the parts I acquired on my journey. A thought passed through my brain that I could use stun technology far more effectively than I had. Perhaps I could make a sort of stunning grenade? This thought permeated in a new device I was quite pleased with, which I call the “Electric Bugaboo”. I can barely hold back my excitement at throwing this at a bipedal lizard, or whatever reptile happens to be wandering around the London Zoo.

Finally, we were back in London. It was a wonderful sight, in no small part to the complete lack of predatory monsters. Spell lady and photo hunter decided to try finding Lord Hastings at the restaurant he frequents. I, for one, thought that was a terrible idea and the odds of him being there were not in our favor. The troll soldier… trolldier?… wanted to report in to his commanding officer, so I had the notion to join him. Perhaps one of these military types would be interested in my tandoori smoker. Yes, that would definitely be the invention they would find most appealing.

At the military building, the trolldier was invited to speak to a “General,” which is apparently not as important as a “Specific.” I, on the other hand, would settle for nothing less and therefore went on the hunt for a person covered in medals, very specific medals, like the ones with stars and shields and very tiny writing. However, the one I found directed me back to the General, so I dutifully returned to my seat in the waiting room. Eventually, I was called in to give my report, although I would have much preferred to tell him about my offensive and defensive technology. He was not interested, which I suppose is the reason he has not risen to the rank of Specific. Oh well, his loss. I just gave him my journal to copy, filled with all my heroic exploits. He said none of it would be considered “publishable,” which feels like a waste of good prose. At least he could direct be to the loo, so he was not completely useless.

Trolldier informed me we would have a meeting with Lord Hastings in a few hours. I spent the time wisely by looking at prospective workshops in the area. Not much in my limited price range, but I am not fancy. As long as I have a fully-staffed, state-of-the-art facility with enough space for mass production, I can make it work.

When we reconvened before the meeting, it turned out Hastings was indeed at the restaurant after all. What impossible odds! He asked for all our records and artifacts. Unfortunately, I suppose that means I must say goodbye to my golden staff. Good thing I kept that lady’s pole. Goldblum rides again! I also assured him that I could give a full written account of my exploits if he gave me a few days to collect them. Only now did I realize I should have asked the General person to make two copies of my journal. Reminder to outfit my future workshop with a printing press. It would make things so much easier to do them myself.

Now flush with my reimbursement and hazard pay of 25 pounds, I could afford a machine shop in a nicer area of the city. “Fully-staffed” would constitute a few basic laborers, “state-of-the-art” would include the machining equipment already installed and “mass production” would basically entail whatever we could produce quickly by hand. Still, this signaled a new era of McFly-style capitalism. This facility and staff would cost me 4 pounds a month, but the possibilities were endless. Portable tandoori smokers for everyone! And I could also spend time on my previous inventions, including the one I did not build myself, The Fires of St. Elmo. After studying the finer points of it’s design for these past few long months, I can almost understand the technology enough to utilize it myself. However, I needed to send word to the original creator, Professor Rachel Tyrell, asking her to make the trek from Limerick for some advice on the FOSE. And if I happened to write in excess of my newfound success and fancy workshop, I assure you it was completely intentional.