Switch Case Chronicles

The Letter
I wonder what the boys have to say today...

Dear Councilman Emeryn.

I hope you get this. I write this in a small village named Whitespell, and hope it gets to you safe. You told me to write regularly and to tell of our adventures, but in truth i write this letter not with tales of grand adventure, but because i fear the worst. Rendeith is growing beyond my control. He keeps doing things im unaware of and acting out. I fear what will happen should he be left alone with one of The Missing and considering how this trip is going, that is becoming more and more likely. I will do all i can to contain him, but i think you should send someone to come and collect us sooner rather than later. He is unpredictable at best, and downright dangerous when provoked and i am very worried.

best wishes, Rondeith

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Darkness tinged with Death
Every gaping maw comes with tinge of foreboding...

Rondeith approached the hovel with caution. It wasn’t that the place looked especially scary, it just reminded him of something he’d seen when he was little. It happened in one of the tunnels just beyond The Community, during one of those games that kids play. He saw a random automoton of Somewhere Else latch onto another. It just sorted of crouched over it for a moment. The one below didn’t react. It didn’t beep or whirr or move in anyway. It just remained still, crouched to the ground with the large four legged creature squatted over it. An then, almost imperceptibly, the little device moved. Barely, an BAM the four legged automaton above it had snatched it up and scurried off down the hall. It wasn’t a particularly sinister scene, but to Rondeith it looked as if the little one hadn’t moved because it already knew what was coming. Like it had stepped in the wrong spot, and thought if it stayed still it might put off the inevitable for just a moment longer. When Rondeith looked at the hovel, he felt the same way. There was nothing truly ominous about this broken down old house. At least, No more ominous than anywhere else in Sparrowtown. An yet, when he looked at it, he felt the same way he imagined that little squat automaton felt. He wanted to be still. To hold onto this moment a bit longer.

As quick as the impulse came on, it was gone. Hermione moved ahead, looked through the window of the hovel, and moved inside. Harrien beckoned Rondeith forward, and the pair followed Hermione into the dark old house. Even as the light dimmed, their own companion lights switched on, throwing illumination about the room in thick bright beams. Every step in that place sent clouds of dust billowing into the air, as if the moisture of the forest just couldn’t penetrate the ages of desiccation this home had gone through. In truth, the hovel had help up relatively well. The walls were built of synth and some form of stone and had held their shape well considering the environment. Inside, the hovel was a mess. The remains of furniture littered the room, and at least two armed men had died here in times past. There skeletons still collapsed onto the floor where they’d fallen in their final moments.

“Gees, I didn’t know folk for Sparrowtown were so into biomedical augmentation. Look at this guy’s skeleton, he has muscle mods, and bone density mods. An here in his skull, these look like nanite pods… why would they put them in the skull??” Hermione couldn’t keep her voice from rising in a question to the others. A medical apprentice to Councilman Jaime, Rondeith knew she was really into biomods. He was pretty sure at least some of that muscle of hers came from modification, but for the life of him he couldn’t work out why she thought she needed it.

“Stop playing with the corpses Hermione, were here to look for supplies an then get home. That was literally what you just said to us outside. Plus, it’s unfathomably creepy when you get excited by bones and dead people”, Harrien looked more unnerved inside the hovel than he had outside. His hands were shaking, and his eyes were wild. Rondeith honestly thought if he touched the guy, he’d smack him in the head.

“You need to relax Harry, it’s just a house. There’s no one here. Nothing that can hurt you”, Rondieth wasn’t sure he’d managed to hide his own misgivings, but he wasn’t about to let the guy run off into the forest without saying something first. “Don’t call me Harry. How many times do I have to tell people that. Gah!”, With that outburst, Harrien kicked a rotting stool. It flew across the room and burst into pieces against the wall. “frick, sorry. This place just has me on edge. Can we just do this an go”, he looked a little calmer now at least.

The three began rummaging through the remains of the house. They opted to split up, and yell if they saw anything. The adventurer’s had been very specific. In their words, “I’m serious, if you see anything even the remotest bit worrying, you run back here as fast as you can”. Honestly, Rondeith figured if they were that worried about the forest they probably shouldn’t have sent three inexperienced and kind of hapless folk off into the forest on their own. Hell, even the adventurer’s had taken four of the Expedition with them. Well, in retrospect it was kind of complimentary. Obviously the Old Man, Esther and Dave thought they could do it. Well, Fletcher probably did too, but how could you tell with them, they were always covered in damnable shadows like a badly fitting cloak.

Rondeith opted to move upstairs while Harrien and Hermione searched downstairs. Truth be told, Rondeith was happy to get away from them for a moment. They stressed him out with all their bickering. He’d been upstairs for about ten minutes before he noticed something odd. The bickering had stopped. It had been going on for ages, so it took him a moment to realise it had stopped. In that time, he noticed something else strange. He was in a bedroom. From the painting on the walls, he thought that maybe it was once a kids room. Now, it was home to a very big, very gross body. It looked like a man but with too much muscle. An it stank. Like a bad cross of rotten eggs and old motor oil. It smelt so bad he’d just tossed a cloth over it an ignored it. An that’s when he realised what was different. Apart from the lack of bickering, the cloth was now in the air. Still wrapped around the corpse, it seemed to have stood up. As Rondeith realised this, he started to back slowly out of the room, his yes locked on the moving body. Standing up with a cloth over it, some other oddities started to rear up out of the dark. It didn’t have hands, but big grasping claws. They were splayed out and grasping slowly. The body wasn’t breathing, but twitching. Slowly, it turned towards Rondeith. He backed up so quick he hit the barrister with an audible bump, and looked down. In the room below the two skeletons that had interested Hermione had also stood up. Harrien was standing in front of one with a look of abject horror. His eyes wide and staring, his mouth opened in a silent scream. Rondeith noticed at that point that Harrien had a sword rammed through his chest. As he watched, Hermione howled from the other room. A bloody, guttural noise. As she howled another skeleton was thrown bodily into the room downstairs. The noise it made as it thunked against the wall snapped Rondeith out of his shock just in time, and he ducked out of the doorway as the horror launched itself at him. He heard it scrabbling about, and then the crash as it fell over the banister to the floor below. Rondeith didn’t have time to think, he just ran. As he left the Hovel he saw Hermione ducking out the back door, Limping with a sword stuck in her leg. The skull of one of these skeletal monstrosities rolled out of the kitchen. Rondeith ran.

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Loss in the face of survival
Death does not stalk you. It lies in wait for you...

Rondeith stared at the massive tree before them. It was the size of a house, and it had fallen across the road some time in ages past and now it was an obstacle between him, his fellows and whatever it was that the adventurers wanted on the other side. A tall, thin fellow, Rondeith tried to hide his lack of muscle in clothes too big for him. His jumper hung off him as if he’d lost huge amounts of weight, and his jeans were scuffed and frayed at the end because they were too long for him. Mixed with his long shaggy hair, he looked like a misbegotten and unkempt child wandering through the shadows of the forest.

“It was barricade supplies wasn’t it guys? That the Old Man wanted?” Rondeith speaks low, trying to remember what it was they were looking for.

“Yeah, that’s what the he kept asking about anyway. Seems he’s worried something will attack us tonight.” That was Hermione. Generally quiet, it seemed she got more talkative the longer the shadows got. Her broad shoulders hunched as she looked about, and though normally 6 feet tall, she seemed dwarfed by the forest around her. Her normally bright blonde hair seemed somehow duller and less full of life the further into the forest they went. Rondeith wasn’t sure how long it would take for her to break, but he was certain he didn’t want to be around when she did.

“Will you two be quiet, Im trying to see if theres any of those gigantic spider things under this log. Ya know, the ones Fletcher told us to be careful of.” That was Harrien. Tall, thin and easily unnerved, he looked nervous as he peered into the shadows under the log. To be honest, the more that Rondeith thought about it, the more he thought they might be the scrawniest most easily terrified folks in this forest.

“Why’d we even go through the portal,” he mutters. Each of the three scavengers is dressed all in white, with weapons they barely know how to use strapped to their backs, and a pack with a days’ worth of food in it. They are only out for a quick trip to a hovel, and they don’t expect to be long. Eventually, Hermione gets sick of standing around waiting for Harrien. Impatient with dread, she shoves past and scrambles over the tree, whispering as she goes “If you’re so worried, go over the damn log. Fletcher didn’t say the critters hung out on top of trees”.

“That’s cause they said that the damn things were everywhere. Honestly, I thought they were joking at first, the way they smirked, but this damn forest is starting to worry me. Every time I see one of those dead folk just lying on the street, I swear it shifts about. Or the air about it shimmers and buzzes or something. I cant really be sure.” As Harrien says this, he looks about nervously.

“why don’t you go check one out then if they’re making you nervous”, Rondeith couldn’t quite keep the snark out of his voice. “Why don’t you” Harrien snarls in reply.

“Enough, I can see the hovel. Lets get in and out quick, I’m sick of this forest already and it seems like it’s getting dark”, Hermione can’t make it through the whole sentence without losing the bravado she started with.

The hovel in question is a squat, two storey yurt like structure. Once it would have been a proud little house, but now the walls sag, the door hangs off its hinges and the whole places reeks of decay. The walls are overgrown with vines, the floor littered with random pieces of broken furniture and the windows are covered in dust. The place looks as if no one has moved within for an age. An in truth, no one has. Part of the devastated village of Le’Hasherabe, the hovel hasn’t been lived in for hundreds of years. It’s a miracle it stands at all. The village itself is sequestered within the Ba’Adenu forest, and over the years has become an overgrown, swampy mess. In the dry season it’s not so bad, but during the wet months the streets run with streams and the ground becomes a muddy mess. The passing ages have wiped away the terrors of the past so thoroughly that not even the cowards of the world would fear Le’Hasherabe. Which is a pity, because fear it they should. Unlike the evidence, the terrors of the past are still very real, and these hapless three have just stumbled blindly into one of their snares. They will not make it through the day…

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Betwixt the Labyrinth and the Gathering, Part One: The Lattice
A Fletcher, A Grove, A Reaper, A Discovery...

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Transcript
(1) We start of in a trash room, and roll poorly searching through it…
(2) Esther and Knoxx have an argument over one of them almost crushing us with trash, the Old Man watches
(3) We turn a corner and then we find a laser lattice blocking the way.
(4) They’re deadly, too. We shoot an arrow and see it get split in two!
(5) Knoxx steps up to try and dodge past the lasers…
(6) And succeeds! Knoxx gracefully dodges past the lasers…
(7) And smashes the console, turning them off.
(8) After a bit more walking, we find the Grove…
(9) and there are doors just everywhere! We search around the door filled corridor…
(10) And eventually find the right door by following a horde of robotic spiders…
(11) The Old_Man opens it.
(12) The Grove is a room filled with metal wires and tubes, centering on a glass contraption housing the lattice. Wires everywhere!
(13) Knoxx rolls well and figures out what we have to do…

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Transcript
(14) Knoxx figures out we have to make four different checks, the first two are intellect based while the third and fourth are physical checks. The party rests for an hour to prepare…
(15) If we make an error, it can be catastrophic, either killing us instantly or slowly, so bad all around…
(16) The Old Man gets through the 1st check, disabling the computer safe-guards…
(17) As well as the 2nd, which is a puzzle he solves handily
(18) Esther uses her superior dexterity to yank the correct wires out, disabling the 3rd safe-guard…
(19) & (20) And finally, the last check, which requires one person to open the casing, and another to grab the Lattice…
(21) Knoxx rolls a 1! She drops the lattice! But Esther dives for it, just barely catching it!
(22) Knoxx gets a vision! A Pod opens up , and a machine of bone and blades steps out, addressing her as marked for termination! And then the doors to the chambers start to close!
(23) Sirens blaring, we decide to bail out!
(24) Everyone fucking bails…
(25) At this point we took a break and made Clary a character…
(26) Fletcher! Pros: Glaive, Graceful, Walks in Shadow…

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Transcript
(27) We run into a room, and find a glowing spike glove. We give it to Esther.
(28) Then Fletcher shows up! We’re all a little suspicious. Chair, at this point, is freaking out pretty hard.
(29) Turns out Fletcher had been sent by Emmeryn as well but had been separated from their party during a skirmish with some Decanters. We’re a little wary, and hide the lattice.
(30) We decide to all get out of here together…
(31) We find a weird room with a mural on the floor. It has what looks like a “sun” in the centre, and to Fletcher it looks like a map with lattices spreading from the centre. The Sun also has a hatch.
(32) We tool around with the hatch, which might blow up and kill us, but the Old Man really wants to know what’s inside so…
(33) &(34) We attach a dagger to a rope and make a pulley. We insert the dagger into the gap in the hatch and get to a safe distance. We pull on the rope, which pops the hatch. A gout of fire shoots from the hatch and then dissipates…
(35) Inside is a weird pendant, which the Old Man claims.
(36) Suddenly, Esther perceives an omen and gets clammy, quiet…
(37) We hear a low hum as we progress…
(38) We come across a room with a huge tree, which blankets the floor with roots and the ceiling with a canopy. It is bio-mechanical.
(39-41) The Tree is partially metallic, and pulsing. From the branches hang pods with people, which pulse and vibrate, sucking the life out of the it’s hostages. The roof is completely covered with green canopy, and we all feel ill at ease…

(From here there is no comic… sorry…)

Chair, the Old Man and Esther try and cross the room but the roots whip to life and try to attack us. Knoxx and Fletcher start climbing up the walls to mess with the canopy. We fail at trying to cross the room and instead retreat to safety. Knoxx decides to burn the moss on the ceiling with her blow-torch. The moss recoils, and quickly catches alight. The canopy burns! Bright light shoots through the space where the canopy once was, and it’s revealed it was covering a glass ceiling. The tree returns to life, the pods stop vibrating and the tree stops pulsing. The light above is blinding as we cross the floor of the room. We travel a bit longer and eventually come across a strange room…

The wall and ceiling is glass, and we realize where the community is. We exist in a void, with a white-dwarf at the centre. We can see forever into infinite blackness. The community is a series of chambers floating in nothing, and we look out and see a bunch of different things…

Knoxx glances across the void and locks eyes with the Reaper, and feels thoroughly unsettled.

We see a horde of spiders repairing holes in the glass, and dragging away unfortunate corpses.

We see a group of travellers, haggard and weary, led by a man on a cart.

We continue on, and by some happenstance, end up at the edge of the Community…

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A Gathering is called
And there was much rejoicing.

A Gathering is called. Emeryn Idryonson stands before not only The Community, but every individual that could be found from the outliers. She stands before people that have known a life without true hope, she stands before people who have starved before and fear it now, she stands before her people, her family. As she stands there, she spreads her arms and the crowds hush. She speaks Truth to them all.

It is a great day for this Community. It is a day we shall all remember, for it is a day of true hope. A day where we can all move forward, knowing that our way of life will continue into the unforeseeable. This day, is the day that we reconnect with the 9th World. The young souls that fixed the portal, along with myself, councilman Jaime and a group of brave volunteers are to go forth on an expedition through the portal. On the other side, we will discover why it stopped working so many generations ago, and we will fix it. Today is a day of Hope, and it is a day for each of you to think on what you will do to live, and what we as a Community can do to Thrive!

On that last word the crowd erupts into cheers, laughter and happiness. For many, it is the first truly joyous occasion they have seen. For many, it may be the first occasion in their memory where they had hope of a future beyond themselves.

That is for many. There is however one who is not there that has no such hope. One of those who had set forth for the Lattice. One of those brave souls that struggled in the places beyond safety. She sits in her home, alone on her bed, rocking. “Red Eyes” she whispers. “Steel, cold, hard”, as the words escape her she rocks back and forth, her eyes staring forward, unseeing.

In another part of The Community, others miss Emeryn’s speech. They stand together in a room amongst twenty others. The Old One, the Explorer of Darkness, and the Shifted one. As they watch, the others of the room rush about packing wagons and checking equipment. The room is abuzz with whispers and rumours, and all are excited for what will come next. That is the question on everyone’s minds. What will come next?

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The Switch_Case Chronicles Part One: Labyrinths, Beginnings, Chairs
In which we meet our heroes, a piece of furniture, and fight orbs

In the Community, we are introduced to two thirds of our principal cast: Knoxx Yuaut, a rugged Glaive with a Greatsword and some kind of mechanical enhancement, and Esther Bauer, a pragmatic Jack with a knack for machines and a penchant for shifting slightly to the left of phase. The two women are on their way to meet with Emeryn Idryonson, one of the community Elders, and her nephew, Chair (a petulant, weedly teenage scribe). In short order it is revealed that the three of them are required to venture outside of the Community. An old man, who often guides travelers through the Wilds and flits in and out of the Community, has gone missing on a mission to bring back a part that will re-open the portal to the Ninth World.This mission is made more urgent when Emeryn reveals that the fabled food stocks keeping the Community alive are running fatally low. The unlikely party are thrust out into the wilds in search of the old man and the key for their salvation.

The party wanders through the labyrinthinian wilds in their search. They are hounded by strange orbs shooting red beams of energy at the party, which in small groups the can easily dispatch. They also manage to get lost a few times. Eventually, after some wandering, the manage to find a strange chamber with the old man inside. However, on the way, they activate an alarm that sends a horde of the orbs chasing them. As the team race to open the door, the orbs begin to form together to shoot more powerful beams at the party. Knoxx manages to throw up a barrier just in time to stop the beam cutting them in two, giving the party enough time to get through the door. Inside, “Old_Man”, or “The Old Man”, or “Hermit” is waiting. He wandered in here about three days ago, and got trapped. Inside, there is a door opposite the door they entered and a much larger, sealed door. The Old Man, in conference with spirits, infers two things. One: Whatever is behind that door is big, old and not to be messed with. Two: Opening the door opposite the one the party just piled through activates the big door. After some brief and awkward introductions, the party decides to press on to what the Old Man calls “the Grove”, where the artifact that opens the portal resides. It serves as the heart of the Wilds, and a place where few have tread and the Old Man has only skirted.

As the party leaves the chamber, the large door activates. The Old Man warns the others against viewing what was inside, but they ignore him. (At this point, SOMETHING comes out, but in the interest of not meta-gaming I have no idea WHAT).

With the Old Man leading the way, following the weird symbols only he recognises on the walls, the party presses on. By accident or providence, the Old Man leads the group to a room with high ceilings, where mysterious shining material is attached from floor to the ceiling. Knoxx manages to discover a strange artifact, a lose piece of this cloth, that when draped over the shoulders produces and effect not unlike invisibility. Pressing on the group get lost _again___ and end up in a similar room. During their traversal of the wilds, the party felt like they were being watched. Arriving in this last room, the party was attacked by “decanters”, strange automatons with humanoid heads in their chests. With a disastrous first few frantic seconds of combat, Esther and Chair were being dragged off and Knoxx was engaged in deadly combat. However the party managed to turn it around. Knoxx severed one of the things arms, the Old Man blasted a number of the decanters and Esther managed to get free of it’s grip. Towards the end, the Old Man suceeded in shaking the confidence of the surviving decanters, who were either easily dispatched shortly after or fled.

After the draining combat, the group settled in for a rest, to lick their wounds and prepare for the next leg.

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The Adventure Begins
Are we there yet?

The Community is a place of peace. Nothing has disturbed it for an age. Generations have come and gone without ever laying eyes on the 9th World. An yet, in all that peace, something has remained constant. In its seperation, The Community is doomed. There is no fresh food or water from which to replenish their supplies. If there is no water, there is no future. The Community is dying.

It is in this time that our adventure begins…

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