Play tonight was truncated by scheduling issues, and one of the players was out for this week (and next, as will another of the players.) This necessitated some tap dancing on my account to keep us moving for the weeks folks were away.

After having gone through the Eye of Shambala, the characters found themselves in a strange jungled valley, surround by craggy high mountains, a small, bright sun overhead, and a large — seemingly abandoned — ancient city in front of them. maxresdefaultImage cribbed from one of the Uncharted games…

The night’s adventure revolved around trying to figure out where they were and exploring the city in front of them. The height of the sun, the hot and humid aid, the Aian architecture (complete with monkey god statues and the pagoda-like stylings on the bridges, led them to believe they were somewhere near Borneo.

There was some character bits — Olga, the Russian girl they’d picked up — clues them in on the Russians that attacked them in Lhasa: members of the Bekhterev Brain Institute, the girl was a powerful telepath; the man had the ability to use his will to bend people’s perceptions. “Just like the Shadow!” enthused Zara. They also learned that Olga was a focus for magical energy, a sort of battery. There was a bit between her and Hunter, the Terra Arcanum overseer, whom she nearly killed while under the telepath’s spell. He also had been nearly taken over by the woman and confirmed her story.

Armed with a few handguns and almost no ammunition, they set out to search the city before risking returning to Tibet…they don’t know what has happened with the GPU and Nazi agents. Hunter’s assumption is the Tibetans have “handled” them by now.

The city is obviously old, possibly even older than the pyramids! and the stonework is unbelievably advanced. There are indications of combat — with fire damage, artillery (Hunter thinks) strikes, and the occasional bleached skeleton. Eventually, they make their way to the temple complex in the center of town where Hunter accidentally reveals that he can read the ancient language, Atlantean. This is “The Center of the World, where the Gods reside.”

Inide, they find skeletons piled on each other of massive beings — 8 feet tall, at a glance — and while investigating, they disturb a section of dirt and plant material, only to have a half dozen giant centipedes — 6 feet long, fast — suddenly lunge out at them. (This was an especially pleasant bit of creepy horror, as one of the players is seriously creeped out by the bastards.) In the ensuing firefight with the creatures, Gus Hassenfedlt shows his use with judiciously careful shots with Zara’s little .32 Astra, managing to kill two of the creatures, injuring one. Gould similarly injures one with the Tokarev he took off of a Russian. They drive off the creatures, but not before Hunter stps on a weakened section of floor and disappears into darkness below (that player was not present.)

The characters got after him, only to find the section below that had also collapsed, spilling him into the waters below the island the temple complex sits in. Gus rappels using a vine and discovers a crypt filled with these creatures, including one with four arms! Gould chases along the bridges and waterfronts trying to catch Hunter, only to hit a section of balcony over the water that breaks off, dumping him into the rushing waters, only to be taken over a series of waterfalls (guess who’s not here next week!)

This leaves Zara and Gus, with Olga and Dr. Heiser, the German philologist and historian (and Thule Society member) to be captured by the secret inhabitants of the city — giant apemen, similar to the creatures they encountered in Africa. they are taken to one of the sections of the city in better repair, where they see females and children apemen. One of the creatures addresses them in Chinese, then decent French. He is Kordas, their “natural philosopher”, who learned the language from the traders in San Antonio.

They learn that they are in “Argatha” — the city of the Gods. This is the birthplace of the asuras and devas, those beings that (the apes assume) created the World. The unmoving sun overhead is the greatest of them. They’ve been in Agatha for hours, yet the sun hasn’t moved. Where are they? “The world” is the only response Kordas has, but he tells them that there are people who are drawn into the world from strange realms outside the world. They don’t have much more knowledge of the outside world (if it is outside…) The apes also recount that another race destroyed the asuras and devas, or they did it to themselves, but it’s been so long, there’s no record of what happened.

This is all terribly interesting to Heiser — who thinks the Argatha, Ultima Thule, and other lost cities might be one and the same place. (He’s wrong, of course!) And who are these other people that might have destroyed the asuras and devas?

When they learn that there was a member of their group that could open the Eye of Shambala, they are stunned — the ancients have long been dead. There are descendants, but most of them cannot operate the old artifacts. They ask for descriptions and are pleased that the man does not appear to be “Vril.” (I’ve decided the Vril-ya of the setting need to be pumped up a bit…)

After collapsing from fatigue in the never-ending day, the characters are setting off to locate their missing friends.

So — to compensate for folks being out for a week or two, we’ve split the party, so the one set of players will be able to continue without much issue for the next session. It also keeps them stuck in this strange place they’ve find themselves in — they can’t use the Eye without Gould — and badly prepared and armed (they’ve each got a handful of ammunition left), the environment will be much more of a challenge for them.