I told the Sandworm that I would save the babies, and ran like the wind to try and draw them away from the caravan. I had powerful numenera on me, and four of them followed me hungrily. I tossed my last remaining cypher and one paused to consume it, momentarily sated.
I spied a beast of burden and thought if I could jump atop its back I could attract the remaining spawn before they were killed. Unfortunately, the ground shifted below me as I jumped and fell. I landed on the soft sand and a mound of sand above me shifted and suddenly I was buried alive.
Holding my breath I struggled to the surface, clawing for light and air. I emerged and gasping for air, I surveyed the scene. Several of the spawn were devouring the archaic floaters and the others were either dead or sated. Satisfied, I turned to address the Mother.
I will transcribe our full conversation later, but in short I learned that the Sandworms come from another world and communicate through song. The song is not audible to humans, but there exist numenera that could allow me to speak to them. They find our world rich in numenera, and that the greatest treasures lie buried in the earth. She explained that the children would begin burrowing and if I followed them they would likely lead me to numenera of great potency. I bid the Mother peace and assured her we would speak again one day.
Triumphant, I returned to our caravan and told Tyran that if we hurried we could follow the spawn to numenera and perhaps even artifacts. With a bit of luck we could recoup easily recoup our losses.
Two stragglers from the other caravan overheard our conversation and expressed interest. Given the possibility of danger, it seemed prudent to accept their offer. One of them I knew, some charlatan whose master had earned some powerful enemies. The other was a stranger, but appeared to be a nano.
By this time, the surging worms had already begun burrowing leaving behind tunnels that easily could accommodate us. We quickly provisioned ourselves and set off. Shortly after entering the cave, I lost my footing and fell onto some crystal. Upon closer examination, it was apparent that it was drowse crystal. When powdered, it could easily render a man unconscious. Unfortunately, I as I sustained a posterior intrusion it was likely that I was poisoned.
I told Tyran that if I passed out to drag me onward. The charlatan scoffed, and I looked at him incredulously, “Haven’t you ever been poisoned in the Beyond before, boy?” I asked. “Ain’t nothing to cry about.” Tyran kindly offered to carry me if I passed out. I lasted about an hour, and then came to as we were deep in the tunnel. The sandworm passage had now merged with other natural caverns and the trail became harder to follow.
We walked for 3 days, exhausting all of our provisions. At this point, we would likely die if we turned around. At this point, we stumbled across an underground river. There was no food or sign of life, but we were able to refill our water skins. Pressing onward with renewed vigor, the air began to hum with the sound of wormlings feasting. A glasssteel hull stood before us breached by the brood and they were inside no doubt devouring our artifact. I turned to my companions, “We have to kill them.”