Exodus

Session 26: Happy Anniversary Hundreds
Hello, would you like to help me burn people?

CARDS:
Deja Vu: Semek
Zhuan Zhu — old empire plenipetentiary who we had tea with
Hundred of Dust

Khut comes riding back from leading the Void Sept on a merry chase…
With a void-sept Yaghuth in tow…
To find everyone else camped out mid-battle…
In a freak blizzard…
Some spirits from the verge inform us that there
is war in the verge, and the queen of the moon
is under attack…by three of her generals…
Apparently we have a forge-spirit named Cinderella…
with a mechanical teddy-bear…

Everyone seems a little put off by the mouth-sewn Yaghuth…
He brings word that the VOid Sept have fully thwaked Ahura Mazhda
And talks in riddlish…telepathically…nonsense…
Lots of talk of blood and “Oblivion” to come…
Some new septs involved…
East is Nihil, West is Lief…

We are standing around a forge…the world shifts…
From Verge to Fade…do not pass Present…do not collect $200
There are voices…weird things…sewn together from the deep fade…
And old-empire soldiers: a knight, a scholar…
There is a forge, licking with fire…surrounded by mud and snow…
Breaks like Wind conjures a wall of fire around us…
then Squee turns the knight bright pink…
We all start bleeding out of our eyes, nose, under the nails…
The knight flickers and thwaks the yaghuth with a sword…
Then gets his ass thrown back through the wall of fire…
Khadagan vaults wall and starts slashing away at the scholar…
Ithunn looks at the knight on the wrong side of the wall…
Looks at Khut…Khut whistles…
She leaps into the air…
then she and Littlewing tear the knight to shreds…
AND Khut drops the scholar with an arrow through the eye…
Some little guy that Khut doesn’t know puts two arrows in the fleshy orb..
And then his bones start warping and poking out of his body…
Apparently he made it mad…
Its friends also get mad…whispring horrible things in Khut’s mind…
Vadim, Breaks, and Ellen-Dear bring the lightning…
Except the fleshy things seem to be healing…and getting bigger…
Khadagan jams some cancerous spores into one of them…
It dies, flowers, and spews an abundance of spores…
Which Khadagan collects…yeah…
Sorq brings the PIXIES!
Then the Yaghuth hauls out a big sword…which rusts…and burns…
And its clear that he remembers…and that he knows the gods…
AND does an un-Godly amount of damage…
yet it lives…
Squee casts dissonant whispers…
and has a nice little chat…
with the crazy, gibbering mound of flesh…
and makes it her FRIEND
AND Ado banishes the big one…tentacles surround him, embrace him…
Vadim calls for Thumper and Littlefoot to haul the forge…
Putting it directly underneath of where the thing will reappear…
The fleshy blob drops into the forge…
AND Cinderella the forge spirit breaks free…and looks angry…
BUT it’s friends with Sorqutani…of course…
Sorq: “Hello, would you like to help me burn people?”
They ascend to the Verge…then Squee dumps them into the Cusp…
Where our troops are dug into the snow facing the old empire..
AND there is a wall of fire in front of them…
AND Squee drops a shatter-mortar in teh middle…
And things do not look well for the Old Empire zombies…
Ado invokes Ormazd Bay to oversee the forging of the pact…
AND Cinderella becomes Squee and Sorq’s special friend…
AND Ormazd passes a warning…
“It has already started, in HIM there is no darkness at all”
But, of course, the forge spirit is in the wrong world now…
Leaving us with the giant fleshy orb to kill…
Khut nails it with his bow and drives it through the wall of fire…
Ellen-Dear blows parts of its away with a barrage of force bolts…
Iron-Dear misty steps onto its head and starts stabbing…
The little Forest Troll fires a barrage of arrows through the Verge…
into the Fade with a flash of blinding light…
Then the fleshy ball tries to banish Ado into the Deep Fade…but fails…
And Khadagan tears at it…
The Yaguth polymorphs the fleshy-blob into an…APPLE TREE (oh shit)…
Then Breaks polymorphs into a bee and collects the pollen…
[28 doses of fleshy-blob apple tree pollen)
THEN the tree twists, animates and starts beating on Ado…
The bombardment from Ellen-Dear continues…
Meanwhile, in the Verge, Ithunn spin-kicks Ormazd Bay…
punting him through the fire…and kicking Ado’s crest off…
in the Cusp, the sky lights up from horizon to horizon…
Sorqutani’s pixies love that it turns out…
A zombie explodes…lighting up another…and another…and another…
Iron-Dear blasts the tree with a ray of frost…and freezes it to the roots…
AND, back in the Verge, there is a dead blackened tree…
AND we’re all there…

Meanwhile back at the war…
An Old Empire timelord shows up, backed by imperial dragoons with grapeshot
But our Malik cavalry get the drop on them and crush their infantry…
Then the Spire is hauled onto the field by Thumper and Littlefoot…
And the Malik cavalry crush the Timelord…
AND seeing the Spire…they flee…
Skyscraper-sized tentacles burst up from the salt flats…
Hauling their bodies down into the depths…
AND some Old Empire lizard riders turn and join our ranks…

Dawn happens for real finally…
Ado leads us off to find a cash of food that the Zhuan Zhu left for us…
But something else found it first…and bred in it…and its swarming…
BIG bugs…big, delicious-looking bugs…
The ground breaks in big chunks…breaking the party in two as well…
And the giant bugs pile on…
Sorq, Ellen, Iron, Ado, and Khut find themselves facing five…
Sorq leads off with a Fireball…
Ado plays dead…and they nose all over him, but can’t decide…
So they don’t bite him…then he rails one with some sacred flame…
Then Ellen-Dear leaps in and blows them off with a Thunderwave…
AND Sorq’a pixies show up…
AND Arandyr knifes and finishes off one…
They spew acid all over us…it kindof hurt…a little…
Sorq and Ellen retaliate with fire, making them quite toasty…
AND Iron-dear guts another one…
They spew more acid…and knock out Ado…
Khut skewers one with an arrow…
AND Ellen-Dear caremalizes them with a Thunderwave…
From the other side of the world, the Yaghuth informs us they have EGGS!
And he brings one of them back as a pet…
Khut leads out the Nohai, gathers the bones from the battle, and makes broth…
[ -1d4 on a single enemy mass combat check from fear of our cannibalism ]
Ellen-Dear has a vision…
Heads to Semek at the forge…
And tells him that he is going to make a Masterpiece…
A gorgon head-dress for Hundreds of Dust as a mark of prestige…
Which acts as a CRYSTAL BALL
Khut: “Happy aniversary honey!”
Sorqutani goes up to the Gray Lady and “heals” her…and wakes her up…
Khut brings her some “broth” and brandy…
Iron-Dear and Hundreds of Dust gather up the Blades of Earth Nohai…
And go out scouting to show Hundreds leadership capabilities…
And Iron-Dear plays secret police and ganks the disobedient…
Forestroll gives Semek a whole slither as a present…
Semek seems pretty interested in the bones and the chitin..
Vadim casts “Locate Queen Bee”…
“Tut-tut it looks like rain”
BIG bees show up…chasing Breaks…looking for the pollen…
Khut asks his wife to use her anniversary present to find Ma’chek…
Hundreds informs us that Ma’check is behind much of our current problems…
Ma’check and Gormak have “sided with the dark ones”…
They are deeply faded…
The Yaghuth, hereafter named “Rust”, starts proselytizing around the camp…
Telepathically projecting his ideas of creation’s need for a Creator…
He sews the seeds of doubt (and wrath) in Ellen-Dear’s mind…
Cinderella seems to really like what he’s preaching…
AND takes up residence in Rust’s sword…
Breaks Like Wind starts trying to get Rust involved in village life…
…trying hard to get him laid by some cowgirl…
And…something else enters the tribe…belief in something else…
And our tribe grows by 5%…
AND Breaks Like Wind is infected with the “Spirit of Life”
[ All breeding-related actions have a +1 bonus ]

The battlefield is empty…and snows begin to melt…we are in the salt-flats…
To the northwest we see the towers of a city where one should not be…
To the west, beyond the the ruined city, is a volcano…
To the northeast is The Hive…and there there are bees…
We decide to take the Spire to the volcano…via the ruined city…
The caravan at least…
Vadim and Khadagan lead a raiding part to go collect some bees…
The Yaghuth and the Gray Lady try to talk us out of going any further west…
Khut takes lead of the caravan…
and convinces the Yaguth that they heading due north…
while leading them towards the city…
The Gray Lady seems genuinely fearful of what might be in the Volcano…
And refers to the city as the “Cursed City”…
Khut, Ado, Iron-Dear, and Sorq out-vote them and we turn the caravan NW…

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The Splintered Reed

It was the pungent scent of burning herbs that Khadagan noticed first. Normally, he might be able to identify exactly what ingredients comprised such a concoction, but his thoughts were slippery and ephemeral, refusing to coalesce in a useful manner. He opened his eyes and found himself laying on his side in a yert not his own.

The barbarian was not in his own clothing, but instead wore a simple linen tunic that was clearly made for a smaller figure. His gear did not appear to be in the structure, which made him uncomfortable. Khadagan had gotten so used to wearing his claws and the Sabreclaw skin that he felt naked with out them.

Kill them bear-handed

Where was he? Judging by the lack of obscure and occultish knick-knacks, it didn’t appear to be his wife’s residence. Uh oh. Had he done something indiscreet? Worse, had he gotten caught? That didn’t seem right, but then again, Khadagan was no stranger to mind-altering substances. It was not outside the realm of possibility to try something that lead to poor decision-making.

What would Hundred say if she found him here like this? Not like he could tell, he thought wryly, though he was sure it would sound angry – like everything else she said in the guttural, growling tongue of the Nohai.

Khadagan started to sit up, only to find that his hands and feet had been bound – the former behind his body – with manacles of … wood? The barbarian flexed his muscles only to discover that the restraints were surprisingly strong. Ironwood. His ironwood … ? As far as he knew, his were the only specimens of the unusual plant, one of the prizes from his encounter with the golden khan.

Make them pay

Questions flooded the hermits groggy skull. Had he been taken prisoner? Khadagan tried to still his mind and experience his surroundings on a deeper, more intangible level. He was no shaman (though it never stopped him from trying to engage the spirits), but this didn’t feel like hostile place. It certainly didn’t look like the enemy encampment they had found themselves in after their journey into the deep fade, riding stolen bodies as easily as Khut and Vadim would ride a stolen mount … Vadim. A sudden thought bloomed amid the slowly dissipating fog in his mind.

Betrayal!

The barbarian pulled his knees in close to his chest and eased his wrists over his ankles. In the dim light of the small brazier next to him, he inspected the unusual restraints. The wood had not been worked – there were no cuts or scratches, seems or pins. This wood had been shaped.

Kill him

As if in answer to his question, the skins hanging across the opening of the yert were pulled back and several figures entered: Hundred of Dust stalked in, her glittering eyes inscrutable. She was followed by Vadim and Sorqutani – their presence eliciting a quiet sigh of relief. Finally Ithun took up position by the opening; the tusks she carried held in a stance she’d once described as ‘relaxed ready.’ Voices outside told him that Barruk, Adu and the twins were flanking the other side of the entrance. Were they standing there to keep people out of the yert … or to keep him in it?

Lure them in, tear out their throats

“Khadagan?” Vadim asked, he voice carefully even, “How do you feel?” Sorq began to translate for Hundred, though the barbarian knew there was another reason or two she was included in this conversation.

“Why am I bound?” Khadagan asked, “Am I a prisoner?”

“No! No, uh … that’s for protection.”

“Whose?”

“Everyone’s. Mine. Yours … The caravan’s.”

Smell the fear, the weakness

“What are you talking about? Why would I hurt the caravan?”

Vadim crouched down so that he was level with the large barbarian, but stayed carefully out of reach. “Khad, what’s the last thing you remember?”

“I …


Khadagan grunted as he pushed through the snow drift, clearing the road once more for the wagons. The last thing he had anticipated as the caravan marched north into the salt flats was a blizzard. It never occurred to him that the cooling weather was the coming low season – they had been so preoccupied with the their flight-turned-military campaign, first into the West, now to the North. And now winter was here and they were fighting to keep the garden and – by extension – themselves, alive.

Blight had wiped out a promising crop of oca despite the nearly four score gardeners they’d added to their number. Morale was in short supply and the barbarian sensed some animosity towards the new arrivals, despite their contributions to the garden’s upkeep. Some people would rather starve than eat something from the soil.

Let them, he thought in a moment of bitterness.

Khadagan stretched and looked out across the empty white void of the salt flats. After being attacked by the sand devils, he couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. Though, to be honest, lately it felt as though there were just as much scrutiny coming from within the caravan – possibly within the party – as without.

Khadagan turned and began to walk back along the line of dirt-bearing wagons. He passed the wagon on which was perched the glass-walled structure that they hoped would help keep them alive during the cold weather by protecting the edible plants from blight as well as allow some of his more fragile specimens to survive the cold. It was a marriage of artifice and nature that, in his mind, proved that the spirits could coexist in a mutually beneficial state.

A little further down the line, he came across a couple of the new Malik farmers having a discussion in front of a wagon. They were speaking in their local dialect, though the barbarian guessed from their gesturing that they were talking about the wagons’ slow progress through the powdery snow.

The wheels were sunk further into the snow than the other wagons. Looking at the payload, Khadagan saw that this particular wagon was carrying the precious few – and relatively heavy – ironwood trees. Interspersed between them were from Firestarter Bushes. It made sense to keep them together on the same wagon, since ironwood would not burn.
Khadagan looked back to the Malik just in time to see one of them attempt to light a small torch by the forward wheels. Even in the low season, a single spark was enough to set the bushes – and wagon – alight. While the ironwood might not burn, the caravan couldn’t afford to loose even a single wagon.

“No!” Khadagan cried out as he rushed forward, reaching for the flint.

Startled, the Malik began to stand and turn towards the incoming barbarian, one of his horns caught him across the cheek.

Red fog.

An eyeless face.

Darkness.


Khadagan’s large shoulders slumped. “Is … is he okay?”

Vadim shook his head, “You butchered him – were completely covered in his blood. Squee’s off cleaning your gear now. We buried what little was left according to their traditions,” Hundred stiffled a growl when Sorqutani translated this last part.

“Did anyone else get hurt? How did it end?”

Vadim sighed, “The other Malik tried to pull you off, one of them hit you with a hoe and caused you to turn on them. That’s when the kids arrived.”

Khadagan’s eyes opened wide in horror, “Oh no. Are they … ?”

“The young one, I forget her name, she called up the Gardner. It held you down until we arrived and, uh, calmed you down.”

The barbarian put his face in his hands.

“So … the Malik are pretty much terrified of you now, and the kids are … upset. Adu’s been trying to smooth things over, but this isn’t going away overnight. It’s probably best to keep you separated for a while.”

“What about you? What do you think?” Khadagan looked up, first at Vadim, then Sorqutani and Hundred. “She was right, you know,” he continued before they could respond, “The green woman? I thought she was talking about the spirits of life and artifice, but that’s not what she was talking about.”

Puzzled looks were his reply.

“I seek to foster life, to grow and sustain it. The plants, sure, but our people, as well. Ever since the deep fade, though, there’s something else. Inside. I hear it. Feel it.”

“What?”

Khadagan shook his head, “You’ll think I’m crazy.”

“I already think you’re crazy.”

“What’s the one thing that can’t reconcile with life? That ends growth – ends potential?”

“Death.” Sorqutani replied. Khadagan looked past Vadim at the sorceress.

One of her eyes was completely black.
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Session 25; How to make friends and influence people.....

Aaaaaa hunting we will go ahunting we will go, Semek’s wife steps up and gets boosted by the party like nobodies business.
Speaking of no bodies, we save 38 malik townsfolk from certain zombification by a very disturbing old empire patriarch. After being beaten, banished, reappearing, beaten and banished again, he just gives up and stays gone, likely to return and kick our butts at a later date.
Speaking of dates, we seem to have just had the best tea party ever thrown. A group of 7 emissaries from the old empire inquire as to our intentions. It would seem the tea leaves of the divining tea sorq and aran made for them actually gave him more info than even our words could. We seem to have made friends out of certain annihilation.
Speaking of annihilation, boy those purple worms get big, lighting, fire, claws, and mocking go round and round, worm turns from purple to pink and a whoopin commences, till squee gets eaten. But Khadagan saves the day in a maddened rage like I’ve never seen and squee is pulled out covered in goop. Off in the distance we all seem to hear dinner bells… and find eggs… Muahahhhahahhhahahahah

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Planting Seeds

Wood creaked as a handful of empty wagons were pulled into position behind the others. Khadagan inspected the empty beds, the pungent odor of Stinkcrow and Bull Nettle wafting up in his nostrils. The gaps had been filled with the fibrous, sticky paste as he had instructed; a few hours out in the sun and they would be ready.

The barbarian turned away to clear his nose and found himself staring across the expanse of their caravan – if such a word could still be used to describe the mass of people that now travelled with them. A city’s worth of refugees, freed slaves, and adopted men-at-arms surrounded his rolling garden. Many of those people, he knew, were looking to that garden for their next meal.

Making his way to the central part of this smaller, internal caravan, Khadagan inspected the dirt-filled beds containing the sourgrass, oca, and goodberry bushes. He couldn’t grow enough food fast enough to keep everyone fed. Everyone who wasn’t strictly carnivorous, he amended. He sighed heavily and looked at the two wagons that carried his most treasured specimens – would he have to give them up only to produce more food?

_ It’s not fair._

Khadagan wasn’t sure where the thought came from, but … it was right, wasn’t it? A handful of them were out there risking their lives – no giving – their lives and these vagrants, these …

_ … parasites …_

Yes, parasites, were expecting a handout on top of it all? Like a swarm of locusts, only they traveled with the swarm, and added to it every chance they got. So many mouths to feed. The problem wasn’t his garden, it wasn’t his ability to grow food, it was them, out there.

_ Fix it, make less to feed._

Something felt off, he wasn’t really thinking this was he?

_ So easy_ … the sensation of drawing a blade across a throat. The smell of blood …

“No!” Khadagan hissed, “Stop it.” He shook his head, as if the darkness within could be so easily cast out.

“We was just lookin’. Honest.” The hermit’s eyes snapped open to find a scrawny young man standing before him, flanked by a couple of girls.

“I … what?”

Kill!

It suddenly took a great deal of effort to stand perfectly still.

“My sister, Cirinia,” the boy indicated an equally scrawny girl to his left, “she likes your flowers.”

“The glowing ones,” Cirinia whispered, looking down.

“I like the purple ones,” said the other girl, “They’re the prettiest.”

“That’s Maa,” said the boy, rolling his eyes, “She’s always followin’ us around.”

“Am not, Jelme! I came by myself to see the colors. You just happened to be here.”

Khadagan felt the stirring within him subside, “Those?” He nodded to the lotuses, “They are pretty. And dangerous. Be careful around them.”

“How could a flower be dangerous?” said the boy – Jelme.

“You’d be surprised.” said the barbarian. “This one,” he pointed at a green lotus, “can paralyze. The purple one makes you sick.”

“What about the black one?” said Maa.

“That one kills,” whispered Cirinia.

“That’s right,” said Khadagan, “How’d you know that?”

Cirinia shrugged and looked at her feet, “Just seemed like it.”

“If those can kill, why raise any of the others?” asked Jelme, “Use ‘em on the beast men that run us off.”

“Eventually,” sighed Khadagan, “But right now, there are more important things to grow.”

“Like what?” said Maa.

“Like food.” said Cirinia.

“Well, sure, but food ain’t pretty.” was Maa’s reply.

“Pretty and important rarely ride together.” said Khadagan, weighing an idea. And for once it didn’t have to do with killing. “Have you seen the Gardner?”

“Uh, ain’t you the gardner?” asked Jelme.

Khadagan snorted. “Yes, but I meant the spirit that helps me tend this garden.”

“We heard about a rock monster that pops up from time to time, but we ain’t seen it.”

“Would you like to?”

“Uh, is it dangerous?” asked Jelme.

The barbarian rubbed the stubble on his large jaw, “I guess he could be, if someone tried to hurt our garden.” He looked at the kids.

“Oh, we wouldn’t do that. We love it here! It makes forget about being away from home.” said Maa.

“Okay, give me a moment.”

Khadagan closed his eyes and tried to still his mind. It was getting harder to contact the spirits ever since their trip into the deep fade. Something had descended upon him there in the deepest darkness and bored into his spirit. The last time he had spoken to the Gardner – the sentient embodiment of rock and soil that helped his garden produce far beyond what it might normally be capable of producing – it had been unexpectedly difficult to make contact. Not like it had been before. He briefly regretted not chewing on some yokeleaf first, just in case he needed a boost.

The hermit visualized his mind extending down, around the shadow in his heart, and down from the soles of his feet into the ground, seeking that spark of nature and life that made things grow. Slowly, distantly, he felt a reply – like the waking of a far off giant. A soft vibration become a moderate (albeit localize) tremor as an empty patch of ground between the wagons speared upwards and settled into the vague approximation of Steppefolk.

The kids gasped, caught somewhere between fear and delight, drawing the Gardener’s attention. Despite lacking any discernible facial features, Khadagan could almost feel the look of puzzlement as the spirit turned towards him. “This is Maa, Jelme, and Cirinia,” he said, indicating each in turn, “They were admiring your handiwork.”

The gardner turned back towards the trio.

“Oh, we love your flowers!” said Maa.

“Um, thanks for the food.” said Jelme.

Cirinia, who had hidden behind her brother initially, appeared to be enthralled with the entity looming over them. She took a hesitant step forward, then another, and raised a small hand. The Gardner regarded this curiously, then extended an appendage of rock and dirt. Green tendrils sprouted from the end, curling in like pliant fingers – all but one, which extended towards the youngest child. They touched.

Khadagan found himself holding his breath. Most of the party had encountered the spirits at some point since their long journey began, but this was the first time he’d witnessed an interaction like this.

Then, like a sprout breaking up through the soil, an idea presented itself.

“Would you kids be interested in helping us with the garden?” he looked at the Gardner, whose massive moss covered shoulders appeared to shrug in reply.

“Really?” Nervous excitement was written on their faces.

“I could teach you what you need to know, and you can take care of things when I’m away. The Gardner can help, too.” he turned to Cirinia, “It looks like you’ve got a … feeling for this.”

“Even the lotuses?” asked Jelme.

“Let’s start with food and ironwood, we’ll work up to the more delicate plants as you learn more.”

“When can we start?” asked Maa.

“Right now.”

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Session 24: Would You Believe
We put a woman on the moon

Albino Manbeast approaches, wonders why we haven’t joined at the council. We join the council, and try to stir the pots between the Void and Oblivion sept. They have sensed a fulfillment of their plan, and want to know what we were doing right. They have asked us what were doing right to summon the gods. There are two groups in the tent, Steppefolk Voidsept with their eyes woven shut and some hat and haughty Manbeasts, headed by

“The fish sees the bait not the hook”

Vadim tells them that they cut down seven men, but the eighth lived and escaped before the ritual could be completed. Sorq notices whispers between Void and Oblivion. Void offers to take the city and convert it. Elondir whispers council to Vadim and he orders a charge south, after the eighth man. The host follows, and the party goes into the city.

The voidsept leader approaches them in the street and begins a conversation with Vadim, clearly seeing who he is. He tells them what septs face them if they head north.

Vadim tells him “The distance between heaven and earth is no greater than one thought” He weeps through the stitching.

Khut rides Arrow in the dark, and the entire Oblivion Sept follows after him.

They are greeted by clockwork sleep-army on their way into the city. Then Nohai scouts take them to Hundreds (or MY WIFE! depending on who you are)

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Session 23: The Answers to Your Prayers

Deck: Oblivion Sept…
Machek…
Disease…Krokodile…
But Ado puts the kibosh on the plague…

We are dead…
Looking at the spire, spinning above a pyramid…
Squee is here…faded…skin black…eyes deep purple…
Flickering in and out of existence like an old TV set…
Gray Lady is etching runes around the base of the pyramid…
The inner circle of rings are magical…but indecipherable…
The base of the pyramid starts dissolving away…
Accompanied by a gnawing noise…
As the dirt falls away, floats free, into the abyss…
She writes “do not bury us” in a circle around the monolith
Again and again…
Khadagan starts collecting samples of the cancerous growths…
He finds lots of interesting stuff growing at the boundary…
Tiny white pustules…
Scab-like lichen growing over everything else…
Tumor-like mushrooms the size of four men…
Large…mushroom cloud shaped…rippling surfaces…
They break open with large writhing tendrils…
Active feeders…like flytraps…

The big shrooms move…Khadagan shouts a warning…
Khut shoots one…shoots it again…Khadagan assassinates it…
And they keep coming…because NYAAAAAA!
Ithunn leaps in, kicking one into the air, and delivers some beatings…
It grows new tentacles and roots as it tries to reach the ground…
Lands hard…
And Khadagan leaps on it…claws rusting over…rusty scar burning…
AND there is much raging…and much assassination…
“If I can find an awkward place to pray, I’m going to do it…”
Sorqutani burns it with a dark, almost black flame…but not much…
The shroom vanishes…folding itself into the fade…
And appears next to Khut…it swings, misses…
And reality crumbles around Khut’s feet…
Ado leaps behind Khut and thorn-yanks it into the hole…
It goes screaming into the abyss…grabbing reality…
Which fractures around it…to more gnawing noises…
Khut shoots the next one…
Squee goes on a tirade about how she hasn’t washed her hair in ages…
And how the mushrooms are too bland…AND they all turn PINK!
AND two of them launch into the air and swarm Khadagan…
One engulfs him…
Vadim reaches out a hand…and burns it to dust and blows it away…
Khadagan: “You! Stay out of my garden!”
Vadim: “You have to learn how to make mulch!”
Another goes for Ado…beating him a bit…
A third swings at Ithunn…slips…and takes a twisted claw to the teeth…
Ithunn follows up and kicks it into the abyss…
To more creepy chewing noises as it exits reality…
Then she runs up and kicks the last one just for sport…
Sorqutani summons some pixies…flaming pixies of DOOM!
and the pixies start harvesting pieces of the thing…they swarm its orifices…
a pixie emerges clamering out of its mouth holding some strange organ…
The enraged mushroom engulfs ithunn…
AND there is some grease…and it starts sliding towards the abysss…
Squee and Ado viciously mock it…
Khadagan leaps in slashing wildly…becoming more frenzied by the moment…
Vadim lights some calming incense to try to bring him out of it…
Ithunn punches her way out just before it topples over the edge…
A fist comes out…with a victorious pixie standing atop it…
She kicks it into the abyss…pushing off to land barely on the edge…
Khut rushes in and immediately begins applying poultices…
Khadagan snaps out of his frenzy just in time…
He becomes focused on the fancy herbs that Vadim lit up…
They might help next time…
Pixies fly back bearing various lumpy things to present to Khadagan…
3 collections of Lifeline Cancer spores…
Can drain residual life energy from undead…
Heal/spawn by the spark of life that is lightning…
TIME TO MOVE!
Reality is crumbling and we’re trying to pull a skyscraper along with us…
We wrap a steel cable around the spire…
Khut and Khadagan dig in and start hauling…with Bull’s Strength!
The spire shifts…turns…begins to drift uphill…
Vadim summons an octet of hornbeasts and starts lashing them to the cable…
Khut…nat 20…Khadagan…nat 20…Vadim…nat 20…
Sorq calls in a phantom steed and ties it on…
Squee harnesses her imaginary unicorn-chinchilla-bunny-thing…
They pull together…and we loose one on reality…
Vadim dangles some cheese in front of the hornbeasts and they start straining…
Khut goads Khadagan who frenzies and starts reaching for Khut’s back…
Straining enough to make progress…
Ithunn leaps into the air and punches the spire to make it move…
AND it shifts…
Squee runs…grabs the cable…polymorphs herself into…
an enormous…Pink…charging…HOLY MOUNTAIN BEAST…with purple polka-dots…
accompanied by swirling rainbows and poofs of pink sparkly pixie dust…
AND PULLS
Khadagan’s claws dig into Khut’s back…
He sees an image of an eyeless, oblong face…
Vadim slaps him…Ado starts playing some muzak…
Khadagan claws Khut again…then snaps out of it…
with a feeling like a razor’s cut across his chest…
We haul it up to the rim…
The Gray Lady sits there with two pots…gleaming gold and black iron…
She says we have to lay down and die before we get out of here…
Sorqutani looks at the iron pot…she smells apples…
Ado: “How you like them apples?”
Sorq senses crushing depression…
but is not particularly bothered by it…
out of the blackness she sees the armies of the old empire…
preparing for battle…
Ado looks at the gold pot…
He transforms into a scaled golden-eyed thing…
“What am I doing here?” it asks…
It shifts tonality so that Ado’s voice can come through…
Party: "What am I called?
It: “Jean…” FUUUUUUUUUCK!
Ado: “When did we pray last?”
Ado realizes that its funnier to use him as an answer to prayer
than to destroy him utterly…
Vadim drinks from the golden pot…
We hear whispers…“Come to us…”
Khut, Ithunn, Khadagan, Squee, and Ado wake up…
Covered with bloody gashes across their chest…
In the body of steppefolk and warbler refugees…
Two empty circle priests stand over them…
…Sorqutani and Vadim…yep…PRIESTS

A warbler…her feathers black…her mouth sewn shut…says “I am pink!”
There is a spread of glorious rainbows…AND she’s a peacock…
Vadim: “Who’s Khut? Everyone who is not Khut raise their hand…”
Khut, looking at the wound “I’m Cut…”
Vadim, who is a centaur, looks out of the tent…and sees chaos…

Firemane has rallied our troops…
We (the party) are in the middle of an Oblivion Sept camp…
The Old Empire is trying to drive the caravan before them…
The dwarves and the Gond Salar are to the south in the city…
Hoargrim kisses the mammoth and tries to lead everyone into the city for a free-for-all…
AND crashes into the Dwarves…
Chinua’s scouts face off against a Bronze Dragoneer…
Then the Gray Lady enters the field, but is locked by the enemy sappers…
And gets mauled by the Dragoneers…
A brass behemoth shows up…and gets jumped by some Oblivion Sept outriders (the party)…

Meanwhile…back in the camp…the party jumps some Oblivion sept scouts…we need weapons…
We ride with them…slaves and whippers…ahead we see the behemoth break from the wall…
Ithunn, now a hot black-clad steppefolk…jumps one, fists flying…
Knocking him to the ground…where Khut grabs the bow off his back…
And Khut gets shot by two more of them…
More arrows rain down…missing Ithunn and Squee…
One pegs Ado…with a poof of feathers…who plays dead…
Squee turns the bad-guys pink…
Vadim (a centaur priest) tosses a sacrificial dagger to Khadagan…
Who rages…and finds himself holding a pair of rusting strait-razors…
And becomes the sexy, shoeless god of war…the wound re-opening on his chest…
AND assassinates and GUTS one of the pink centaurs who has not yet acted…
Vadim charges and skewers one with a pike…
Sorqutani (also a centaur) glares at them – “Idiots! Why are you shooting at me!”
AND unleashes a handful of fire at the lead one…torching him top to bottom…
AND she sucks the life out of everyone…killing two of them…
And there is the plague witch…deep in the Fade…kicking ass…
Ado drops a Hypnotic Pattern on a pair of them…
Ithunn continues beating the one she knocked down…and his little friend…
Squee and Khut hold back…doing respectable but not lethal damage…
There is another volley of arrows…tagging Ado…and Khut…
Then one charges Sorqutani, hitting her HARD…but she takes it…
A frenzied Khadagan charges the nearest pink one…
Lockjaw and Badpenny tear pinky open…but don’t get the job done…
Meanwhile the Brass Behemoth is wading through the lines, spewing steam, and laying waste…
Vadim hastes the railgun (i.e. Khut)…who wipes a scout and injures his friend…
Sorqutani blows another EC Scout into his component atoms…
Leaving only three…that are busy watching Ado’s light show…
One of which is viciously mocked by Squee…
And then jumped and shish-kababed by Khadagan…
And the Behemoth wanders close enough for us to smell the steam…
Vadim “Treat it like a beast, let’s corral this thing!”
He whips it, pulling it towards the empty circle lines…
Sorqutani rails the Behemoth with arcs of lightning…
Khut and Ithunn wipe out the second to last scout…
And Khut puts an extra arrow in the last one for good measure…
AND Khadagan eviscerates him…
Squee drops a shatter into the Oblivion Sept lines…stirring the pot…
Ado banishes the golem…the life-rune goes dark…giving us a second…
Vadim shouts to the slaves “It’s been deactivated…haul it back to camp!”
“In Exodus campaign the horses ride in the trojan human!”
Sorqutani and Ado chime in, rallying the workers…
with magical Suggestions on the Oblivion Sept commander…
but Ado stops concentrating on the banishment…
SO it wakes up…
Khut grabs Squee and disappears at full, hasted speed…Meep Meep!
Khadagan tries to sneak away…but is raging, frenzying, wrathful…
And leaps, frothing at Sorqutani…but whiffs…
Vadim pulls Ado up…trots by…shaking his tail at Khadagan…

Meanwhile…back at the fight…
The Bronze Dragoons fire on our infantry…with grapeshot…
But get railed by Chinua’s Scouts instead…
They maneuver…mountains…forests…deserts…grass…
And their gunners keep pelting Petrana’s infantry…who soak it up…
We maneuver towards the plateaus…the krokodile rain hell on the dragoons…
But the terra cotta infantry suck it up…
And things look very bad for our heros…
The Iron Rhinos charge…but…Hoargrim pulls a switcheroo…
And Chinua’s scouts wipe the floor with the terra cotta army…
Then the krokodile go for the dragoons…but the mechanicals hold firm…
The Iron Rhinos recharge…while the krokodile aim for the dwarven general…
And the Rhinos plow into the krokodile and our infantry at full steam…
Another volley from the krokodile finishes off the dragoons…
AND Hoargrim now has ranged superiority…
Their general withdraws…
The Rhinos charge…and get mowed down…
Their last ditch sappers come from below…and stab Chinua’s troops…
Then withdraw…

The Gray Lady is out for the next six fights…but alive…

View
Session 22: Take me out into the black...

We are in the badlands, having just smashed the Void Sept
We head into the city…
Heading strait for the spire…
Khut is in the lead…because everyone says he is…

We sneak in, Ado on my shoulder…
Ado makes a quiet whistle…we find and disable some deadfalls…
Then there is a loud rumble…cracking sounds…
And the roof collapses…
Smearing Vadim, Squee, and Breaks like Wind…
Apparenty there is a fight over out heads…
They peer down, but don’t see us…
We’re under the walls…
Looks like the Gonds are fighting House Surin
Surin and the Smiths are trying to breach the wall…
And let teh EC in…Fuck them…
Ithunn apparent brought some Pasht assassins with us…
She challenges to see who can kill the most people…

Vadim, still pinned under rubble, calls to Odqan Talaqan and drops a Wall of Fire…
On the north side of the hole…protecting the Gonds…
Khut and Ithunn jump in and start trying to dig the casters out of the rubble…
Khut pries squee out…Ithunn smashes through a beam over Breaks…
Ado ties a metal cable to the rubble…an arrow on the other end…
Fires the arrow…Khut whistles…
AND rubble goes flying into the air…
Lightning coruscates through the House Surin ranks…
And Vadim is free…and everyone goes WTF just happened?!
Four big, burly Malik Steers jump in the hole and go for Ithunn…
And another hammers into Sorqutani with a jagged chunk of rebar…
AND she bursts into fire…because her mother is displeased…
Accompanied by Sorq’s maniacal laughter…
Squee drops her Crown of Madness on the captain of the House Surin archers…
But only serves to piss him off…
He retaliates with great vigor…and great javalins…
But his archers just suck…seriously…
Breaks drops another Wall of Fire up topside, sandwiching the Surin troops…
Khadagan comes rushing out of nowhere…covered in limestone dust…
And tears into one of the malik steer…
AND Barruk knocks one of them out of the park…
Vadim yells…and a bunch of cackles dive from the rooftops at the archers…
One archer goes down devoured by cackles…two more fall down into the pit…
One of which finds the whole situation ridiculous thanks to Squee…
Khut runs up out of the pit…charging the archers…
dives into them, daggers flashing…and kicks two strait into the fire…
Ithunn clambers up, slipping on the rubble…
Ado hops up, climbing over Ithunn’s head…
And thorn-whips the remaining archer into the hole…
Where he lands with a snap of his neck…
Sorq calls up her flaming pixies…“Bring me their tongues!”
The Malik charge in…
only to have pixies tear all of thier piercings out…
Then they start beating on Sorq and Ithunn…poorly as usual…
The archer Captain goes for Khut with a big sword…which is laughable…
and Breaks tags him with a Ray of Sickness…and he pukes on Khuts shoes…
Khadagan guts a Malik…but apparently they don’t feel pain…
They’re doped up on something hard-core…Khad takes a sample…
Then Barruk brings the Thunder(ous smite)…
AND sends a steer flying, crushed and impaled on the rebar…
The last archer shoots ado…and kills him hard…or at least it looks that way…
Then he is eaten from the inside out by pixies…
And Ado stands up and dusts himself off…
Vadim climbs up, trying to help Khut…fails to whip the captain into the fire…
Then the cackles pile on the captain…and kick him into the wall of fire…
The Gonds have fallen back, taken up ranged positions…
And are wiping the floor with the House Surin troops…
Sorq and Ado bring more fire…incinerating another steer…
The remaining two charge Khadagan and Ado…to similarly little effect…
Except Ado plays dead again…
Squee summons up a cloud of daggers, shredding another Malik…
AND Khadagan rips the remaining one in half…
AND tears open his bowels to investigate the contents…

We head deeper into the tunnels…the sounds of battle raging overhead…
Khut takes point…everyone else follows…as stealthily as possible…
Khut draws things off, keeping the path clear…
We make it to the cavern of the Spire unseen…
And…of course…there is a big metal golem in the way…
A massive statue of a dwarven councilor with burning eyes…
Armed with hammer and shield…
On seeing the spire…the Gray Lady is very very pleased…
The golem sees us…ITS ON…
Ado curses it…
It responds by pulling out the burning brazier of its left eye…
And hurling it at Barruk, Vadim, and Khut…
Vadim and Khut are a little singed…
Barruk sidesteps…and retaliates with fire of his own…
Barruk misty steps to the top of its head…and brings the thunder again…
And nearly takes its head off with his opening salvo…
“For 105 points of Barruk to the head damage!”
Then Ithunn is flying in and punching it like crazy…
Knocks a leg to the side…lands on a knee…slams into its hip…
But it stays standing…
Break’s skeleton pulls a lever…
and a massive caulron of metal starts hurtling towards Khut…
Khut leaps, grabs the chains and rides along with the cauldron…
Squee whisper sweet damaging nothings in the golems ear (equivalents)…
Khadagan (moving very fast thanks to Vadim) body checks it…
Then Khut and Breaks slam the cauldron into the things head…
Spilling molten metal all over the thing…filling it…
We dip some weapons in the molten silver to coat them…

Ado…“That was THE guardian?”…looks around…
Vadim leads the way into the spire…
With Breaks scrying like crazy…
Then we start trying to figure out how to get this through the walls…
Khadagan pushes it…and sees (w/ See Invisibility)…
A pyramidal basalt base…
The Gray Lady suggests that we take the whole thing into the Deep Fade…
Khadagan and Vadim get the drugs ready…
Ado invokes Ormazd Bay…
There is a tiny glimmering of light…a tiny firefly…very faint…
Where we’re going is not Ormazd Bay’s country…
Khad and Khut lead them into the Spire…find the life rune they carved…
We sit down…light up…
Breaks looks awesome…starlight eyes…dark aura…
Squee is sick…pale…faded…
Gray Lady is beautiful…sharp teeth, sharp eyes, pure white…
A mass of twisting vines have grown over the throne room…
Among the vines is a faint, maggotfolk-like bird spirit…
Khut says “You are here” in the speech from last time…
It stands with a flex of its wings, “This is strange” it says…
Ado offers it his pants…
Vadim starts talking to it about love, lust, come with us…
Squee asks “What color is your castle?”
“Tell the little coureous one my castle is of silver and obsidian…”
It says, in no language spoken in this world…
Squee gives the strange being directions to her castle…
Khadagan listens for the voices…they are all wrong…
He is struck with overwhelming vertigo…a sense of falling…
Far away the sound of the world breaking…
Sorqutani: “Dear one, what can you tell us?”
Khut: “What’s your name?”
Being: “Anariel”
We chat for a bit, trying to get around lack of a shared framework…
Khut has to muzzle Vadim when he starts to wax mammoth-kissing…
Sorq: “Who do you serve?”
Anariel: “The King”
“What King”
“The King of Kings”
Khut: “Like this?” he says holding up the Solde of the Altan Ordu
Anariel: “Almost…almost…”
Vadim conjures Hallucinatory Terrain…a garden…
We walk into the garden…not away from the spire…
Around it…near it…deeper into the fade…
The roses growing darker…red…purple…black…withered…
The further we get from Anariel…he gets no smaller, no less bright…
We’ve gone no further than thirty feet from the spire…
Gray Lady says we have to make the world forget…
Before we can change our orientation in space…
Things get darker…paths twist…trees die…
Vadim says we should kill things…we’re all confused…
A black ripclaw with a pirate accent appears…
“Go no fartherrrrr…” it says perching on a withered tree…
There is a clicking sound…very far away…
Like insects discussing their doctoral disertations…
Khut, because it can’t get worse, smokes some more…
Vadim lays down some spike growth along the path…
A tall, elegant looking malik walks up…
His intricately carved horns glowing…
Carrying a black-polished staff with a skull up top…
Blue fire burns deep in the skull…
Beside him paces a strange, six-legged leopard-lizard…
Sorq makes some greetings…
“Anaros of the Dreamer’s Guild”…
He seems a little thrown off by us being there in flesh…
To say the least…
He’s a member of the necro guild…
not friends with Ormazd Bay fire magisters…
known for their poisons and narcotic dusts…
thought to be death-obsessed necrophiles…
really in love with memories of the Fade…
they readily interact with beings that are “dead now”.
He warns us that “they can smell you if you’re really here”
He’s looking for some shrooms that grow here…
Khut leaps into a tree and goes in search of shrooms…
Khut finds a long-forgotten dream of madness…
A pool of non-reflective still, black water…
Three perfect black mushrooms…
Growing through the eye sockets of skulls…
Whispering to each other in Old Imperial…
Something about warehouses and measures…
And a massive…40-ft figure…
Wading through the trees…
Reaching down to pluck and inspect trees…
White beard that glitters in starlight…
Blade edged with lightning…
Khut swings down, says hi to the skulls…
Plucks the shrooms…makes them happy…
They tell Khut he needs to clear a warehouse…
Prince Te’Wang would like it they say…
We can hear the sniffing of something hunting…
Khut swings back and hide everyone…like good…
A whole caravan of ghasts comes by…
Everyone but Khut is horribly ill…
From the stench of death…
Past the lifeline…
They walk past us…ignore us…
We march on…towards the life-line…
Khut takes point…tells Ithunn to stay put…
Squee falls asleep on her chinchilla…
The place is old…memories…temples…then gone…
The obsidian fulcrum for the spire is at the top of the hill…
At the bottom of the hill is an obsidian-marked road…
In the distance are differences of darkness…
Pitch black, dead black, but a deeper darkness…
The black on black silouette of a city in the distance…
A cave at the base…two statues stretched across the road…
Encrusting cancerous growths on everything…
The Gray Lady suggests we rock some rituals rather than just walking…
So we can cross briefly…we need blood…
She opens an eight-foot chinese scroll…
Khut puts a knife to his wrist and opens a vein…
she writes the death characters in blood on his chest…
We take one step forward…
AND
PLANE SHIFT
Squee, Ithunn, and Khadagan stay behind…holding a slack rope.

We are in a crater…there is a mushroom cloud…
Wind howls up out of the crater…
Bits and pieces of burning white rock fall from the sky…
Khut checks his pulse…there is none…opens a vein…empty…
The runes burn on his chest…
A thing begins to uncurl itself from around the pyramidal meteor…
A massive world-serpenty winged lizard…breath death, all that jazz…
Wrapped around the pyramid…over itself, under itself…oroboros style…
One eye opens…a thin purple line of bright flame glowing under the lid…
Vadim starts to call lightning…Khut muffles him again…
Breaks has a chat with it…
Apparently it is paid to keep the story of this place from being remembered.
Vadim gets unmuzzled and drops a few more lightning bolts…why?!
Khut walks up to the spire…its shiny and new and covered with angel carvings
The bottom has broken off and its balanced on it…
The spirits of the dead hold it in the air and spin it…
Khut walks up to the spirits and says Hi…
Vadim drops some halucinatory terrain to make it look like the steppes…
The dragon seems a little grumpy…
its concerned that the memory grows in us…
“If it gets out they might begin to believe…”
Breaks: “Do you believe there is a god?”
Dragon: “Believe?”
Ado: “How would you hide it?”
Dragon: “Be refusing to answer prayers!”
Ado: “Spirits are doing the lords work”
DM to Breaks: “You don’t get Cosmic truth on an insight roll”
Breaks: “I get cosmic truth when we’re in the deep nasty”

Meanwhile back in the not-so-deep-fade…
Khadagan rages out and walks forward…
Barruk dives…grabs him…and they both join us past the life line…

AND the dragon exhales a cone of shadowy fire right at Vadim…
Khut returns fire…plowing all his rage into the shot…
The arrow glows cling through him…leaving a trace of crimson
But the dragon is clearly not entirely substantial…
Khadagan leaps in raging…and…praying?
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what I’m praying to…”
“…but I want to know!”
A jagged, rusty cut appears on his shoulder, tracing down his chest…
His claws are also covered with rust…
AND he leaps on it and aligator-wrestles its mouth closed…
Breaks like Wind points out exactly where NOT to hit the spire…
Because it would be so easy to drop it on the dragon…
But that would be bad…
AND drops protection from wiggins on Barruk…
Barruk, hasted by Vadim, starts wailing away with the hammer…
Sorq sends Alev to cast light on it…
It twists away as from the light as from death itself…
The dragon tries to bite, but can’t open its mouth…
But gets its claws into Barruk…Then gets grounded…
Khut puts another arrow clean through the thing…
Khadagan hangs on, stabbing away while holding its mouth closed…
AND he goes completely, murderously insane…possessed by WRATH
His claws leave deep smears of rust-red through its face…
Then Ado reams it with a Guiding Bolt…
Breaks drops some grease in its path…and Vadim knocks it right in…
Then Barruk is all over it again with his radiant, flaming, smiting hammer…
The light from the tip of the hammer spreads through its system…
It sighs “At least I got to see the sun again…”
AND IT EXPLODES
We cut it up…
LOOT FROM THE FADE:
* Left Eye: Cube of Force
* Right Eye: Ioun Stone (awareness)
* Carapace: +1 Chain Shirt

View
Session 21: The Adding of the Five-Thousand...
oops...I mean 7000...mouths to feed...

We gather in the Gray Lady’s tent for war council
She’s all gussied up for Ellen-Dear…
Blue-green hair, sea-green eyes…
Vadim suggests that we leave the Old Empire behind us
Like a landshark in the desert…
But instead they are baring our way…
Firemane barges in and says “we’re dead in the water”
with at least two armies out there…
We could probably break through the Old Empire…
IF we move now and head north…
We have an intelligence advantage…
They are still gathering their legions…
Gray Lady says we need to go south…
Can’t leave the spire in Empty Circle hands…
Vadim says South…and lead the Old Empire there…
Give the Old Empire control of the dwarven city…
Firemane points out that two Septs of the EC are in play
Oblivion (who were besieging the city)
Heavy horse archers from Vohu Mana…
Void (who chased us through landsharks…and hate us)
The creepy, cursed-arrow, mouth-sewing folks…
Vadim…then it sounds like running West is the Best…
Firemane: “Through Worm infested salt flats?”
Ithunn: “Are the worms edible?”
Khut: “Of course!”
Ithunn: “Then we’re fine…”
Khut (under breath): “And this is why I’m in love…”
Gray Lady: “If we leave the artifact behind us…”
Vadim: “Wait! Did you just say we, meaning you and me?!”
Ellen-Dear: “She still doesn’t want to breed with you…”
The Old Empire are the enemys of our enemy…
Therefore we want them to be our friends…
Ellen-Dear: “We want them to tolerate us”
Khut: “Tollerance is the core of friendship”
Ellen-Dear (looks at Sqee): “Yeah, you’re right…”
There are like 8 armies out there…
Us…
Old Empire…
Gonds…
Hellhorns…
Axeteeth…
Void…
Oblivion…
Dwarves and Golems…

We decide to gather some data before making a decision…
Ellen-Dear bribes Decoy with some booze to go scout…
Decoy says there is an armed encampment of
steppefolk on the edge of the salt-flats…
Presumably Hell-Horns?
Then sits down to chat about strategy with Firemane…
Iron-Deer escorts Firemane to go make nice with Hellhorns…
We ride in…mostly stealthed…
Vadim hears a clicking/popping noise…
Then a corrosive geyser goes off…
Which is apparently normal for the badlands…
Then we hear a black-44 shaman’s death curse…

AND its on…
Khut: “Haven’t you always wanted to fly?”
Ithunn: “Yeah, but…”
Khut whistles and Littlewing grabs them…
From above they see a 300-ft. long deathworm…
Mauling some Hellhorns Shai-Hulud style…
Ellen-Dear grabs Squee and charges his warbeast up the slope…
Squee tries to make the worm laugh hideously…
Hey…its intelligent…and might have a sense of humor
Vadim hastes Iron-Deer and she rushes in like lightning…
She shoots, but it bounces harmlessly off its body plates
The tail stinger bursts out and stabs at Vadim…
Splintering his shield…
Sorq and Khadagan charge!
A tail segment bursts out of the ground…
Sinking their beast, but they leap free…
Breaks Like Wind picks up Ado and runs!
The Worm rears and unleashes a spew of…
Salt…blood…stomach acid…half-digested bodies…
Littlewing drops Khut and Ithunn towards the worm’s head…
Khut nails it with an arrow mid-fall, right in the gullet…
Drawing its ire…and a tail shot…
Which sends him flying 80 feet through the air…
Ithunn lands right on its back…beating with her tusks…
Caving in its exoskeleton and driving it towards the ground
Ellen-Dear unleashes a lightning bolt…
arcing through the sand…scorching it like OW!
to shouts of “Lick it” from Squee…
Squee meanwhile tells some more jokes, which fall flat…
The worm tries to wipe Ithunn and Iron-Dear…but whiffs…
then twists and dives, sounding beneath the sand…
Clearly regrouping…not fleeing…
AND Sorqutani drops a flaming sphere right down the hole…
AND somehow Sorq gets…younger…
Khut leaps in the hole, spits on some dust…
AND smears the worm with some Green Lotus paste…
Breaks Like Wind runs and hurls Ado at the worm…
who claws up its back…
Then Breaks tags it with a ray of sickness
Barruk finally shows up…and beats the worm with his hammer…
The worm wraps itself in a knot and bursts from the sand…
Towering above everyone…very scary…
Then it vomits its filth down on everyone…
AND Barruk goes down…
Littlewing swoops down grabs Ithunn…
Khut plants an arrow in its face…it turns…
AND then Ithunn in 70 feet in the air with her tusks out…
Then head falls…collapsing segment by segment…
right at Khut’s feet with Ithunn standing on its head
There is a tick of a geyser about to go off…
And Khut leaps and yanks Ithunn out of the way…
And enjoys a brief cuddle…
and applies some healing…
We patch everyone up…

Then Firemane rides down the hill…
Hair flaming…ground shaking under his mounts hooves…
The hills light up in flames behind him…
Riding through an alley of exploding geysers…
Because we know how to make an entrance…
Breaks Like Wind slips off to check on his fellow shamans…
One is badly wounded…one dead…
Khut slips a potion to Sorq and she joins the chat…
They prepare a worm-pyre for the dead shaman…
Have a bit of an a-political guild-centric chat…
Apparently “Mutsatseg” is the Black-Hand powerbroker…
She has some history with Firemane…
Firemane rides in with Squee and Ado…
Nergui Axetooth seems surprised to see him…
Some intimidation happens…weapons come out…
Mutsatseg confirms that Hoargrim is no illusion…
We try to talk Hoargrim into taking command…
But he seems really hesitant to do it…
AND then he just takes Nergui’s head off…
Who was apparently his son by Musatseg…
AND then Hoargrim starts booming about how awesome he is…
And he implies that we alone could kill their camp…
AND he promises to find Musatseg some longevity…

Barruk wanders out into the desert and communes with the spirits…
Calling for a steed…
He comes back with an enormous Chinchilla…
…Bunny…unicorn…thing…
“Squeeeeeeeeeeee!”
He tries again…
And comes back with…Sparky the Gorgon…
Blue-steel…and burned with lightning in the womb…
Wafting with the smell of ozone…
The gorgon shows up and…
POOF! the chinchilla loses all its fur…
Vadim goes and digs up some land-shark eggs…
And uses them to accelerate the aging of some HMBs…
Khadagan calls up the gardener…with some Plant Growth from Vadim…
AND makes more Spuds…because…food…
Ado starts taking time to cleanse the 5000+ steppefolk coming in…
Curing diseases, patching wounds…
[+3 on next check to stave off the plague]
Khut and Ithunn start carving up the worm…
Semek churns out several suits of solid chitin armor…
Khut finds a half-formed child inside…
The skin perfect and pliable…
They make REALLY nice gloves…
Infused with the rage of the worm…
Sorqutani goes and prays to the fire mother some more…
And the fire mother’s love for Sorq burns hotter and hotter…

THEN we turn south…
We ride into a cluster-fuck…
Old Empire…Void…Oblivion…Gond…Dwarves…
Breaks scries them with Decoy…
We scream, leap, jump the Void with surprise…
They lead with fire arrows…lighting up the Steppes…
And our Malik Cavalry ride in from the flank and flatten them…
They march in endless lines of slaves from the East…
The party leap in on some Holy Mountain Beasts…
Aiming for the slave drivers…
Who are thirteen-foot tall bone beasts…
Breaks: “It’s a date night. We found a fight where
both Drowned River and Dust will be happy…”
We charge the Bone-Slavers…
Ithunn, Squee, and Iron-Deer lead…to no apparent effect…
Ellen-Dear barrages one with bolts of force…
Khadagan sneaks in, hidden among the refugees…
And leaps on one…climbing up its back with his claws…
The thing retaliates…but is distracted by Ado…
The other goes for Ithunn…but is distracted by Breaks…
Because…sucks to be them…
Sorq conjures up a cloud of swarming fire pixies…
Which seem to ignore both the party and the slaves…
Sorq: “Because clearly I am good and not evil…”
Khut: BURSTS OUT LAUGHING
She manages to reign the homicidal pixies in…
Then they swarm the bone-slavers burning them alive…
AND the pixies set the Holy Mountain Beast farts on fire…
Khut leaps from one HMB to another to line up his shot…
AND hammers one of the bone-slavers with an arrow…
Knocking it into the line of fart-fire…
Barruk charges in on Sparky…
who knocks a bone-slaver down…and stomps it…
Thus spake Ithunn…“I remember!”
And she slashes like crazy at the downed one…
but can’t finish the job…
And Breaks waves…and the one in the fire…
gets coated in unusually-liquid HMB shit…
causing it to slide and fall on its ass…
on fire…and covered in shit…
AND Ellen-Dear blasts it with some lightning…
AND Iron-Deer appears by its head…
and drives a sword right through its left eye…
AND Khadagan rips the lungs out of the second…
AND Yet…it tries to retaliate…
But there are Ado and Ellen-Dear…and it hits air…
Then Sorq’s black flaming unicorn reappears…
AND the bone-slaver is utterly annihilated by…
Unicorns and Pixies…

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The slaves join up with our Infantry…
And Hoargrim enters the field to take command…
AND walks over their Cavalry…
THEN their general comes out and savrifices their scouts…
to decimate our cavalry…
AND Hoarrim wipes the remainder out and captures their general…

SO…we rescue thousands of refugees…
AND decidedly CRUSH the void-sept…

View
Session 20: Do you breed?

Cards: Drowned River Thunderbird
Chaos
Plague among the Warblers

We surface out of a long-used-up mine shaft into the city
Followed by hordes of frightened dwarven women and children
Vadim flashes some House Surrin markers to some merchants
We head towards the north gate (out and west)
There is a Riot and a political gang-fight…
Reds (fight the EC) vs. Blacks (open the gates and surrender)
Breaks Like Wind scrys the Exarch’s discussions…
They realize they’d been conned hard-core…
They begin mobilizing the golems to pursue us…

Khadagan charges out of the caves into a pile of Reds…
Pitches them into a slimy beast-trough with a big timber…
Then whirlwinds as they close in…
Khut finds a granary and decides to loot it…
He swings up to the second floor…
From his vantage he spots some female Pasht assassins on the roof…
Ithunn starts giving him advice on how to hit on cats
“Be confident, chicks love that…”
But, with his deepest love talking to him he goes catatonic
Ellen-Dear runs in and starts leading the dwarf refugees into the granary
Squee organizes them to grab hay-bales…
Loading them onto wagons…
and the kids building forts out of the hay-bales…
Ithunn stealths up and leaps over to chat with Pasht…
Breaks Like Wind (still stoned) comes running in behind…
Is stuffed unceremoniously into a wagon…
THEN Sorqutani sets fire to the granary…
Ado illusions up a horde of EC troops in the city…
the riot stands in stunned silence…
AND we kick open the doors of the granary and roll out of there…

THEN

WE SPLIT THE PARTY
Ithun, Barruk, Ado, Ellen-Dear, and Khadagan lead the dworcs out of town

Khut, Sorq, Breaks, Vadim, Squee, and Iron-Dear head to the mercantile quarter
Squee chews out the guard lieutenant and demands they open the gates…
Khut makes the House Surrin markers appear in her back pocket…
AND she flashes them…
“What do we care what House Surrin says, the city is about to fall…”
“We’re going to run and save everyone we can…you should come along”
They double-march lead us to the warehouses…
We debate what to loot first…
THEN a big palanquin hauled by flesh golems shows up…
The Golems put the palanquin down and charge…
Khut shoots the curtains off the palanquin…
Sorq blasts flame at the golems…and lights them up…
One swings wildly at her, to no avail…
One starts sniffing around for Iron-Dear…but sucks…
the other two maul Vadim…
knock him through a window…into a burning building…
Iron-Dear lights another one up…
Khut rails the necromancer…
the palanquin goes up in a gout of shadow and flame…
Sorq and Iron-Dear light up the others…
Breaks spots the invisible necromancer…
and duels him mano-a-magical-mano…
countering his spells and blasting his ass…
Vadim pulls out his reflective shield and sword…
and stalks up to the necromancer…and misses…
the necromancer blasts him…
AND it bounces back and he kills himself…
Squee drops a cloud of daggers on one…
Khut blows the rune off and kills it very-very-dead…
Sorq burns one down to its component atoms…
Iron-Dear cuts the rune off the third burning golem…
Vadim thorn-whips the last one into a burning building…
Which collapses on him…
The golem stands up…
AND gets shot in the rune by Khut…
We steal the beasts…
Khut and Iron-Dear smash and grab the mages’ guild…
each comes out with two big bags of shinies…
Cloak of Elvenkind
Wand of the Warmage

We run for the gates…
with 10 Blood War-beasts, pulling wagons…full of food!
AND Khut is riding a ???
AND makes himself scarce…
We reach the north gate to kind Ithunn playing soccer with a golem’s head…
The rest of the golem hangs from the portculis, upside down, headless…
AND everyone else playing pinata with it…
AND Khadagan is now wielding a portculis…
Apparently they told the Northern Gond that they would hold the gate…
and sent the Northern Gond to the square to get reinforcements…
AND the gonds in the square take control of the city…

AND we head out, booking it for the salt flats…
Malik lead the way in the vanguard…
Nohai scouts circle us….
Blood warbeasts and holy mountain beasts in the center…
The Gray Lady and the maggot-folk follow near the center…
The core forming a tight academic community…
Trying to assemble a portable replica of the golemworks…
The warblers are sick…their eggs shells are brittle…
Khadagan moves in and starts nursing them back to health…with vigor…

AS WE TRAVEL
Breaks dedicates himself to the mirrors…
Watching for threats from the Fade…
Which are clearly bleeding into reality through a nasty hole…
Squee runs for Hulagu, finding supplies, apportioning rations…
Helping the refugees get acclimated to life in the Ordu…
Ithunn starts a witch-hunt for possible assassins…
Finds some funny-dressed steppefolk and joins them for dinner…
Vadim almost hits on them…
Apparently he bathes in mares-milk…
Iron-Dear points out their yellow eyes…totally NOT steppefolk…
AND Ithunn and the Pasht start some kung-fu cat-fighting…
Khut, lurking, is terribly turned-on…
The rest of the cats fall asleep by the fire…
The Catgirl leader introduces herself as Mrin of the Mountain…
AND Squee appears out of nowhere “It’s a kitty!”
Vadim works with Broketooth and Gormak to mount fireworks on spears…
Giving some anti-archer capability to our infantry…
We all go talk to the Gray Lady to tell her about the skystone…
Vadim tries to hook her up with Ellen-Dear…
Khut, scorched, offers to smuggle her in to see the skystone…
Vadim “Why are you on her side, she can’t even breed!”
Ellen-Dear “Oh, she can breed!”
Khut explains the encounter in the skystone…asks to see her library…
Also, he looks very very burned…
And his yurt starts skittering away…
He runs back to catch it…or what he his in there…
Ado asks about invoking Ohrmazd Bay…
She suggests talking to the Malik Magi…
Khadagan chats with her about herbalism…
He offers her some black lotus…she accelerates the potato harvest…
Ellen-Dear starts discussing golem-craft with the Dworcs…
Barruk and Gan’baatar starts breaking the Malik up into squads of 25…
Training them in group-combat (non-Champion) tactics…
With Gan’baatar training them to incorporate Holy Mountain Beasts…
Which makes Hoargrim Whiteman really happy…
He nicknames them “The Iron Gorgons”…
Because Malik on Blood Warbeasts charging as a unit is awesome…
Iron-Dear takes some time getting to know the caravan…
Then goes scouting with the Nohai…
Whoever is out there is exremely good…but she has their number…
As the rocks change to salt-flats…
There is something out there…
And its not just heat-shimmer…That ground is moving…
Ado removes all adornments…cakes himself in mud and dust…
Sits outside the camp with a broken warbler egg…
And entreats the Lord of Light and Life (Ohrmazd Bay)…
Going so far as to mortify himself with a cursed arrow…
“Against evil from outside and to secure victory in war”
The desert heat bakes down…
All he can see is the searing white light…
As he passes out…
He realizes he can see a patch of blackness against the sand…
Then realizes that he is looking at something pure white…
And the sand is made black…
He has caught the attention of a spirit of pure white light…

Iron-Dear comes back into the camp…
with a tattered bedraggled warbler…cradling a dead baby…
and they both say “LOOK UP!”
AND it’s the biggest thunderbird we’ve ever seen…
Khut quick-shoots it and pushes it away from the herds…
Sorqutani calls on the fire mother and blasts it with a witch bolt…
drawing its attention…
It dives and grabs Khut…
The thing…was clearly a thunderbird…at one point…
But has black feathers and stiched-shut eyes like an EC Warbler…
Khut stabs it in the foot…It drops him…
And he is snagged out of the air by a Juvenile Thunderbird…
HIS NEW FRIEND
Ithunn leaps 60 feet into the air…
grabs Khut’s ankles…gets flipped towards the bird…
grabs a wing and wrenches, causing it to lose serious altitude…
and proceeds to beat it out of the sky with her tusks…
WHERE Vadim ropes it with a steel cable…and lashes him to a wagon…
Barruk leaps on an exploding outhouse…
Onto the head of the blackcrow-thunderbird…
And SMITES it…and SMITES it again…with the sound of rolling thunder…
Ellen-Dear fires an acid arrow strait in its teeth…
Melting the bindings holding its mouth and eyes shut…
And its eyes are completely black lifeless pools…
Khadagan leaps in with the claws…and tears its lungs off…
And Squee viciously mocks it…
Breaks tells everyone not to kill it…
Then looks more carefully…
points out that it is not undead…just soul-less…
Decides that its not a thunderbird…
Touches its forehead…and kills it…

Khut flies back to his yurt and tucks in his little friend (Littlewing)…
Then walks back to the downed Fade-Bird, cuts off a chunk, and chows down…
Ellen-Dear starts researching turning it into a Golem…
Hundreds of Dust marks the bird as unclean to keep the nohai off…
AND she and Khadagan return to their tent to get it on…

We have a long chat about whether or not to head into the salt flats…

We head north into the salt-flats to meet the Fade-turned Old Empirers…
Everyone vanishes [Nat-20 Stealth plus Pass without Trade]…
Ripclaws (and Littlewing) circling silently overhead…
Except Barruk…who walks alone through the desert…
Bearing the standard of the West†
† golden pole topped with a double-headed ripclaw…
We come upon a crater…
In which there is a black Gith…with shining black teeth…
Emanating a miasma of darkness…bearing a sword of liquid starlight…
Barruk plants the standard and faces him…alone?
The Gith greets him in clipped, cultured, High Malik…
Barruk makes…confused…complicated introductions…
He introduces himself as “The Fifth Blade of Shan-yu”
Well known as the general who won the greatest, most mismatched battles of all of military history. Beating armies of 200K with an army of only 30K. Burried another alive. More than 2000 years ago.
Apparently he is digging up the burried army…
The ground around him is swarming with salt-zombies…
And there are a lot more just on the other side in the fade…
Vadim stands up out of the sand…covered in fur…and asks…
“Do you breed?”
Nope…they are “Faded”…they are gone…
But their memory can still impact this world…
Squee appears and asks “Can I have a tooth?!”
Khut presents the Sulde of the Altan Ordu…
Which apparently hurts his brain…an empty place in his mind…
We negotiate…and offer them the city of Ahura Mazda in exchange for their salt
The Gray Lady (who came with us)…switches to old imperial…
And asks for the opportunity to discuss philosophy with them…
Offering the knowledge of an ancient kingdom
To trade for knowledge “that your folk alone possessed”
Vadim – “I’m glad I hit the shit-house and not the library last night”
Squee, convinced the Gith cannot see or hear her, scrambled up him…
Trying to steal a tooth…
Iron-Dear tries to grab her…fails…
Breaks cuts a mirror off the top of his hat and presents it to her…
She refuses…
Iron-Dear tries to put her to sleep…fails…
She climbs him, trying as hard as she can to extract his teeth…
But it just doesn’t work…
She bangs on his head…and he doesn’t even notice…
THEN she steals his sword…or tries…
She touches it…grips it for a moment…
But knows that if she unsheathed it…she would have no future…
The sword apparently severs you from the Verge…
And she goes back to desperately trying to pry a tooth out…
AND We’ve offered them a city…

View
Session 19: Golems Golems Everywhere
JC's notes

We make our way into the dworc golem-works
Apparently there are lots of guilds who don’t get along

We are left in a room filled with the sound of hissing machinery
Khut leaps down the steam tunnels
Jalin’s creepy dream-ghost-elf-guy makes the rope tie itself
Khut narrowly avoids becoming a steamed flank
We end in a cavern with a giant steam engine
with some kind of massive rocking piston arm
and molten-iron being dumped into clay molds…
clearly making golems…

There are lots of workmen…they spot us…
Khut shoots a technician…
then leaps grabs a crane…
and swing out over a vat of molten metal…
Vadim calls in some mining machines that belong to our friends
Two of them rail into the guy who Khut shot…
and he goes flying into a vat…
Four more rush a second tech…
One falls off the gantry…
the other three knock him down…
And then the dude bursts into flames…
fragging all the mining machines
Then Vadim leaps out and goes swinging too…
Ithunn runs across the piston-arm…
and wails on the flaming guy…
but he barely avoids falling off the walkway…
Squee drops a stinking cloud…
Breaks Like Wind lays down some grease around the levers…
a third guy runs for the levers…
and goes sliding onto his ass…
and shoot Squee from his back…
and sends her flying off the gantry…
where she catches Vadim’s feet and they go swinging…
Jalin’s Dream-Ghost-Elf-Guy lightning-bolts the piston…
Ithunn leaps so that she is not in contact
with the gantry when it eletrifies…
There is a hissing gout of steam…
Another guy logs a molten steel ingot at Khut…
He misses…then hits the cable on the backswing…
Khut leaps and grabs the cable above the break-point…
But gets clipped by the searing-hot metal…
Squee points out that the levers will RELEASE THE GOLEMS!
Khadagan jumps, grabs a cable, and…
swings just short of his target on the gantry…
Ado grabs the controls of a crane…
picks up a molten golem in its mold…
and lobs it at the guy attacking Khut…
wrecking the opposing crane
and covering the guy in cooling molten iron…
AND Sorqutani drops a sleet storm over the entire room…
all the badguys fall on their asses…
and one falls into a flywheel…
Barruk leaps onto the piston arm…
and hammer-horns a technician off the arm…
but duder manages to grab the side of the arm…
He turns a valve and unleashes a gout of flame…
Vadim sicks his remaining mining machines on them…
then swings in
and tries to wrap up lever-guy with a cable…
and they BOTH go off the gantry…
hanging over the churning pistons…
and Squee is still hanging from the other end…
and she manages to tie the cable off…
Then lever-guy off-gasses at Vadim…
lighting him up…
Ithunn’s enemy breaths fire at her…
Then gets spin-kicked off the ledge in return…
Landing on the drive-wheel and spinning around…
and around…and around…
Breaks like wind throws a grappling hook…
Into a piston…
Jalin’s Dream-Ghost-Elf-Guy chucks another lightning bolt…
Strait down the line of the vats…
Dream-Ghost-Elf-Guy’s Dream-Ghost-Elf-Sister…
Leaps through the air…over the exploding vats…
Vanishes…and stabs molten-arm in the pants…
Who promptly blasts her with his welder…
Khadagan shoves a dworc into a piston…
Ado viciously mocks lever-guy…
Sorq unleashes a wold color spray…
blinding the guy hanging on the bridge…
and rendering both him and Barruk invisible…
then blind dude spews flames at Barruk…
which Barruk really doesn’t seem to care about…
AND Khut shoots Vadim…by accident of course…
knocking him out, but pushing him away from the machinery…
luckily Squee brings him back up…
Vadim blows some dust and reveals a golem…
Active, but still molten and in its Mold…
Which is cracking…
It takes a step forward, the mold breaking away…
Apparently the foreman is down activating them manually
Lever-guy laboriously climbs up…
But slips in the grease again…
Dream-Ghost-Elf-Girl ganks lever-boy…
Khadagan swings down and razor-claws the foreman…
invoking the blessings of the spirits to rip his lungs out
Ado swings in, thorn-whips, and taunts the golem…
Sorq blasts a flywheel…
AND some machinery EXPLODES
sending shrapnel in the air…
Barruk leaps in and smacks the golem…
Which turns, lurches at Ado…
Who takes the blow on his shield…
and dodges the second…
AND Khut pegs the Golem with a humming arrow…
Hurling it backwards into a vat of molten iron…
Which explodes…everything explodes…
Vadim carves a ‘Life’ rune in a dworc’s forehead…
and Breaks translates as they begin negotiating…
Apparently their Exarch is a nut-job…
Who wants to bargain with the Empty Circle…
Hangs out in the Skystone Spire…
a.k.a. the Soul-Forge…
Ithunn leaps and and begins wailing on the Golem…
Smashing, not the body, but the runes…
Squee tries to grab the golem with a crane…but misses…
The Golem charges, grabs Khut’s crane…
Tears it out of the ground…
and starts slamming it into walls and machinery…
Khut takes a beating, leaps…
And lands standing on its head…
Dream-Ghost-Elf-Guy (Ellen Dear?) magic missiles the golem…
Khad slashes at the Rune on its forehead…
Claws digging in and dripping molten iron like blood…
But maybe not harming it? #Confusing
Sorq blasts it with frost…
Barruk swings for the fences and misses…
Khut drives an arrow strait into the life rune on its head…
And rides the crumbling golem to the ground…

Ado sends a message in Barruk’s voice calling out the Exarch…
Breaks Like Wind animates the burned corpse of the
dworc who fell in the molten iron…
Calls it an “ironbone golem”…
Commands it to defend the frightened dworcs…
Promises to do everything to get the techs
families out of town to safety…
Breaks, Ado, and Vadim begin chatting with the Dworcs…
their interlocutor is a technician names Istvaan…
Trying to figure out if or how the Exarch may be deposed…
Apparently their Skystone Spire floats, spinning, in midair…
Unmovably…emiting strange glowing lights…
Lets them grant intelligence to their constructs…
And apparently is filled with voices…
Which enter the constructs…
Khadagan decides they need to talk to the spirits…
We head for the spire and break out the drugs…
Sorq turns Dream-Ghost-Elf-Girl into an Empty Circle centaur…
Apparently with some plan to impersonate the ambassador…
And go talk to the Exarch…
We sashay down the hallway to a barricade…
Manned by a Dworc in power-armor…
Who is scared off by Squee looking creepy…
And they agree to escort us inside…
We’re leg into a big underground town…
All the women and children are holed up in the caverns
surrounding the Skystone Spire…
Guarded by “forge-born” (Golems)…quite a few…
Who move up and line our pathway…
And fast-march us to the Skystone Spire…
Floating in the center of the cavern, is a giant chunk of marble…
Carved in the shape of skeletons reaching for the sky…
Rotating on a single point, not quite touching the floor…
Immense…almost as big as the Thunderbird nest…
Guarding it were dwarves in steam-punk mech golems…
Dream-Ghost-Elf-Girl-Centaur starts spouting out ultimatums…
Dream-Ghost-Elf-Guy creates illusions of the Skystone cracking
And a door opens letting us in the Spire…
One person per rotation…
With Centaur, fearlessly in the lead…
Inside is a large, long hallway lit with drifting lights…
Strange architecture…not even maggotfolk architecture…
Breaks Like Wind points out that it was once bone…
Bones of many thousands of humanoids…
The internal dimensions do not match the external…
And there are conveniently located braziers…
Twelve master smiths and technicians have gathered
One enormous, fat, ancient dworc sits on the throne
The Faux-Centaur starts uttering more ultimatums…
In the most chipper, young-female voice possible…
It becomes clear that they already have a deal…
with both the Empty Circle and House Surin…
They make lame threats about golems…
Khut passes Faux-Centaur the head of the slagged golem…
And we lay on the threats even more heavily…
We put a piton in the center of a wheel…
And demand they send everyone shorter with us…
“For their protection”
And that they double the promised number of Golems…
They agree to move up the timeline…
The golems will open the gates in 18 hours…
Then we burn one down in the Skystone Spire…
The world becomes hazy and blue, infused with golden light…
There is a strange stirring…the walls are restless…
Restless like the sound of a house where people are living…
The mist forms faces…briefly…
Khadagan entreats them…
A face half-forms and circles him…
There is a whisper from far away…
Speaking no language we’ve ever encountered…
“You are hear, you have answered our prayers”

View
Session 17: Ahura Mazda

Seven dark riders arrive at the city gates, and Marzpan Da’lil sends us out to treat with them. The Empty Circle outriders come from Oblivion with a message; Duk Hund delivers their accords of peace: become the vanguard of the empty circle or be utterly destroyed. They give 3 days to decide. Baruch gives them a highlanders welcome and Breaks mutters, “can I kill them now, pleease!”. Adu convinces Hund to accept emissary status and accompany us for the 3 days, and we deliver the treaty offer to Da’lil. He agrees that we should use the 3 days to deliberate and tells us he will use the time to strengthen the defenses of the city.

We enter the city, and meet Altan and Hundreds in the market. We dump off some of the gold and silver metals with them, and they come back with all sorts of wonderful things: wagon parts, provisions, an adamantine chain shirt and a javaline of lightening. Our caravan is greatly strengthened.

Sorquitanni leads us though the markets to the university of the Maegi. On the way, Duk Hund is recongized, and a riot begins to foment. A balista from the walls fires on him, but Ithun catches the bolt and sends it spinning into a winemerchant’s stall. We ask Modun, the fire-maegi, to give us shelter and he begins a spell, we step behind him into a room of stone and lush carpets.

Vadim begins to interrogate Modun on the defenses and disposition of the Maegi in the city. Modun refuses to talk while there is any Empty Circle spy in the room. Vadim offers to kill the emissary, but Sorquitanni steps in and orders a cart and puts the man-beast to sleep. Modun sends for a representative of the Sudun family to pick up the downed man-beast. He arrives and it is Vizir Maadi.

The Vizir quickly puts himself at our service. He indicates that the controlling family would be more than happy to send out the gonds, or other slave armies they could form, to be the vanguard for the Empty Circle, but that they would always keep the Empire’s best interests at heart. Vadim requests for letters of requisition of wagons and letters of introduction sufficient to allow the horde to take control of and return goods from the salt mines. The Vizir grants all these with a smile and asks what more he can do.

Modun now steps in and ask what service he might provide. Sorquitaani asks to trade spells for spells, but he wants fire-birds. So we tell him how to make them and he gives us some scrolls. We say goodbye to our lovely friends and head to the ghetto.

Squee chums up to the guardian and the gates and then doubles back and lets us in through a trick door. Once inside, Vadim stumbles through the streets as an avuncular fool, gathering the children around him and feeding them berries that sprout from their ears, but the kids don’t want for nutrition and jump him. A deadly tickle-battle ensues.

Meanwhile, Breaks meets with his cousins, Seline and Reuvin the Weaver, and they tell him of their worries about the Empty Circle. But, they indicate that as long as the Smiths remain in control of their people, they will not be able to forge a retreat.

A pile of empty armor charges down the street and tries to kill everybody. Vadim makes the flowers in the street spikey and Baruk brings down the roof, and Adu and Vadim play numbly-peg with the last armored assassin. With spikes.

Well, those Smiths seem like bad people.

So we decide to go at it quietly, we rub ourselves down with coal, we have a guide, Gideon sneak us into the Forge in a coal cart…

And that’s when everything goes really well.

View
Session 16: The Golden Horde

More disorganized JC notes, read at your own risk

The mongolian death worm is seriously dead…
And the battle is on…
Our cavalry crush their archers
The enemy cataphracts charge, but are routed by burning piles of cursed khort
The Titan Mushrooms confuse the cataphracts causing them to attack the enemy scouts
A group of enemies break off and charge the Titans
We jump in to intercept them…

The cataphracts are being PWNd by the nohai archers and their cloth-yard arrows
Myconid titan spores confuse everyone on the field…
Then a single old-empire cataphract on a blood warbeast breaks through…
AND gets blown off his beast by a point-blank shot from Khut…
AND it becomes clear that he is not at all alive…
Massive amounts of friendly fire occur…no one else actually aims for the bad guy…
Except Sorq who fireballs the bastard…
Khut puts another arrow right through its sturnum…
Khad jumps in and begins handing out the beatings…
Followed by Ithunn who tears him a new one…
AND then it retailiates and chops Ithunn and Khad up a bit…
He launches Ithunn into the air, then teleports up and whacks her…
AND one of Ja’lin’s flunkies tags him with a lightning bolt…
Ado heat-metals his armor…melting it all over him…making him REALLY dead…

Meanwhile, Baijou’s infantry attempt draw our archers out…
Who are more than happy to rain arrows down and wipe them out to a man…
Then follow up and wipe the floor with the cataphracts…
Then Baijou’s camp followers try to poison our archers…
But poison the infantry instead…
Then get driven mad by some spores…
AND GENERAL SQUEE WINS THE DAY!

There is an announcement from the Heralds, each carry a Sulde from the various Ordus…
“All armies must withdraw from the sacred space…no weapons, no armor during the Khurutai…”

A blood warbeast is missing…
Vadim follows it into the dispersing armies…
Vadim makes friends with the Warbeast…
Ja’Lin’s diviner points out the food wagons looking “off”…
Khut sneaks in and notices that the wagons “klink”…apparently smuggling weapons…
Ja’Lin’s diviners notice that the drivers are from the far west (Subotai’s district)…
Barruk punts the driver and stears the wagon out of the way…
Ado wanders over and has some tea with Baijou…implying that “his brother does not take a loss well”…
Baijou warns us of more violence yet to come…
The fortresses of the hidden ones in the west still stand…why are they still alive…
Khut sets fire to another wagon that looks…too different…
Ithunn spots a Pasht assassin roll off the wagon and vanish into the crowd…

When they choose a king, they take him, and seat him on white felt and raise him three times…
Then they lift him, carry him around the tent, and set a golden sword on his lap…
The assassin comes out of the crowd, poisoned blade in hand…
He launches…and is tackled mid-air by Khadagan…
Khad pins the assassin and holds his own dagger at his throat…
Ithunn strikes some pressure points…
AND Squee turns an assassination into a Joke…
But he thinks its not very funny…
The assassin’s eyes flash with insane purpose…
He pops his shoulder out of socket trying to break Khad’s grip…
AND is stopped cold…
Vadim pats Khut on the shoulder and says “Show Subotai our clemency…”
The corronation proceeds…
The party (or Vadim, Ado, Sorq, and Khut at least) swear oaths of fealty to the Jalin’s Golden Horde…
From the side, the Malik, led by Barruk charge Subotai’s contingent and level their horns…
Jalin rises from his throne and speechifies…
And gives us the Sulde of the Altan Ordu…
to carry forth the vision of unity, tolerance, and empire…
“I place my troops and my people at your disposal my generals…”
“We may not hear…call us through boldness, random chance, the unexpected…”
AND Khut drops a poisoned arrow right between Subotai’s clavicles…

AND they all fade…
AND we’re all bat-shit crazy…
AND Jalin’s gardener opens the door to let us out…
There are some things on the floor…
10 Champion (L6) Warbeasts
Tea prepared by the Khagan’s own hand (potion of mind reading)
A scroll of Rary’s Telepathic Bond (puffing myconid spores as a component)
2 Potions of Invisibility (composed by the Khagan’s hand)
Writings — The Secret History of the Altan Ordu
Prayers/Scriptures of the Altan Ordu:
Incendiary Cloud
Regenerate
Commune with Nature
The golden sulde
Spear with a disk around it with long golden hairs from a creature never encountered
Khad comes back with some plants:
Black Lotus
Green Lotus
Purple Lotus
Ironwood
Good Berries
Spuds

Outside there are two encamped armies…one of ours…and nearly twice as many Malik and Naiman…
Khad communes with the Gardener and sets him to work planting his new stock…
We ride in…chat with Ganbaatar…the head over to parley…
Barruk points out that some of the Gond troops are steppes Malik…
Everyone makes with the thunder, lightning, fire, ice, water, and dust as we ride in…
They say “Join up or die”…Ado says “That was our idea…”
Barruk introduces himself as being of “The People of the Fallen Star”…
Who are apparently loyal soldiers of the Gond…
Their captain asks Barruk to swear to the Shashahar he’ll call off the fight
and take us on as “irregulars” in defense of Gond Shahar…
Barruk swears as Irregulars to fight the Empty Circle…
but not “under the yoke” of the Shashahar.

We return to our camp to prepare the troops to head south…
Vadim makes nice with the Gray Lady (who has finally joined us)…
AND gets her to quicken 60 landshark eggs…which we plant behind us…
Barruk heads off into the Gond to seek out the other People of the Fallen Star…
All of whom are integrated into the 3 Gonds of the Eastern Marches…
Champions are good in a battle, poor in a siege…
He starts trying to assemble “a herd” among the Malik instead of the Champion mentality…
Ado marries some warblers as a way of entreating Drowned River…
Sorq encourages the nohai to breed…and we’ve got 40 more puppies…
Khut
goes in search of the Black Crows…kisses the mammoth and runs south…
And rides like the wind with another army on his heels…
Ithunn starts a military/survival academy for the kids and teens…
Squee makes up some flyers to advertise for the school…

A week later, we approach Vohu Mana…
An Empty Circle column is coming in from the east (sans scouts who we PWN’d previously)…
Barruk convinces the Gond leader to seed all 60 landshark eggs in front of them…
AND the entire northern column is DEVOURED by landsharks
We arrive at Vohu Mana a day late…
It is burning…top to bottom…
Very few (~1800) refugees fleeing to the west…
A huge array of slow, fortified seige engines…
Sorq drops an Incendiary Cloud on the seige weaponry…
Ado drops Commune with Nature…
The Empty Circle seeks that which is not at all natural…
They try to drive despair before them to find whether or not there are gods…
There is a large, living, pulsing body of water under the enemy forces…
The most valuable thing in the city = The blessing of Qormusta Tngri…
Khut rides in at breakneck speed…
To a dais, upon which the Empty Circle are holding a feast…atop a deck of those who groan and die…
The defenders of Vohu Mana are stacked beneath the dais…being crushed…
Khadagan prays to Odqan Talaqan and she takes the city in her warm embrace…
Squee sneaks in, dumps food, and steals all their plates…
AND their commanders rise up and look menacing…

NEXT TIME:
A battle on a pile of people…
Every time Josh says “Seige Engine” — Sorq says “I set that crap on fire!”

View
Session 15: Maybe We Should Win a Little Less

Apologies for formatting weirdness with these.

At the gathering for Genghis to pick his successor
Subotai – The Slaying of Bektor, the story of the assassination of the Great Khan’s older brother…
Cemented the Khan’s commitment to never again fight brother against brother
Ithunn suggests that this is a thinly-veiled threat…
AND he BOMBS it…
The great khan, angered by Subotai’s speech, declares that its time to go out to the Arena…
On the way out Squee and Khut throw together a Sulde made from Squee’s hair…
PINK, maggotfolk hair…
Vadim and Breaks lay some undetectable buffs on Barruk
We walk out to see tents as far as the eyes can see, huge herds of Holy Mountain Beasts…
Jhamoushka — A gargantuan, enormously fat steppefolk with an enormous, bloody spiked club stands at the other end of the ring…he slams his club into the ground and roars…
Baijou — A Malik champion in a meditative pose…
AND…for Subotai…Chinua?!
Chinua makes the happy pant of a dog greeting his pack-mate…
They declaim the rules: No outside interference, battle to the death, order of death determines precedence
We confer…Khut moons Subotai to keep his sharp-eyed helpers from reading us…
The four champions charge!
Barruk OWNS the battle-field…
He commands Chinua to attack Jhamouka’s ogre…and Chin does exactly as told…
He commands the Malik to “Stand down”…and the target is left shaking in his boots…
Then he joins Chinua in charging the ogre…
Barruk brands him, and Chinua mauls him…
the Ogre is left lying on the ground, grasping at clods of earth trying to stand…
Khut and Ithunn sneak around into position to beat the crap out of any cheaters (other than us)…
One of Baijou’s guys tries to snap the Malik out of it…
And gets silently cold-clocked by Ithunn…
Subotai has the other nohai bagged and tagged…
Khut trips the guy who was standing ready to give the kill order…
One of Subotai’s dudes tries to cast an augury…and gets public;y foomed by Breaks Like Wind
Who joins the judges in the judge’s stand…
The fight rages on…
One of Baijou’s dudes tries to toss a potion into the ring…and Ithunn snags it out of the air…
And the two of them get into an all-out drunken brawl…
Squee and Ado start the crowd chanting “Thunder” to cheer Barruk on…
Then ado jumps into the air and sends Subotai’s caller into roars of laughter…
AND Sorq quietly Hold Persons two of the guards on the bagged nohai…
Khut punches the third, sending him flying, and cuts the Nohai loose…
AND Vadim puts bags over the guards heads and lets the nohai finish them…
Then, look three things with bags over their heads, with a couple steppefolk sitting watch…
Subotai’s cheater gets up, tries to grab a scroll…
And finds that Khut had already snagged it…and replaced it with a packet of Deathroot…
Another of Subotai’s bards tries to cast a spell on the Malik…
AND gets called out by Breaks throwing a fireball right above his head…
Jhanoushka’s cheater is so dumb he’s just randomly throwing things in the ring…
AND Khadagan wanders over and throws him…
Drunkenly: “I like to throw things too!”
and throws him again…
Drunkenly: “Are we still throwing things?!”
Vadim takes the Nohai and circles around to provide some backup…
Barruk swings at Chinua with orders to “play dead”…
Barruk blows a blood bag…gore goes everywhere…
AND Sorq hits Chinua with a Feign Death…
The ogre stands and swings at Barruk…but Ado shits in his eye…
Barruk flattens the Ogre…
then Misty-Steps into the Malik’s face and lays a flaming hammer upside his head…
and Ado viciously mocks the Malik…
Who swings and misses…
Barruk keeps beating…the Malik retaliates…and bursts into Flame…
Subotai starts cheering on the Malik…
Ithunn stumbles in and spills a tray of drinks on him…
AND Vadim unscrews the wheels from Subotai’s wheel-barow-chair…
AND Breaks drops Grease on the judge’s stand…
AND the legit judges go stumbling…
AND Barruk knocks the Malik’s head clean off…
Which lands in Subotai’s lap…sending him tumbling down the hill…

Then there is a mounted archery contest…Khut grabs the fastest hornbeast…
but shoots unusually poorly…
but scrapes a win anyways…
thanks to Ado lacing the coarse with ballbearings behind him…
Ghengis calls a rest and says that the next morning will be a mass-combat between Baijou and Jalin’s troops…
but, of course, Jalin doesn’t have an army…
We spend the night recruiting troops…
Nohai archers…Malik cavalry…
AND Myconids from the caves below Xanadu…
Some of which are HUGE!

The next morning…the ground is muddy…
Baijou’s troops poison our meat…
Then our cataphracts crush their archers…
Baijou sends out a Mongolian Deathworm…the king of all deathworms…Dune style…
And the party crashes into it…

Khadagan rages and leaps into the worm’s craw…
Ado rocks the hypnotic pattern…but only manages to stun Barruk and Breaks…
Vadim grabs a loose beast and tramples Barruk and Breaks awake…
AND Breaks drops a fireball on it…
AND it paralyzes squee…and swallows Sorqutani…
AND Sorq summons a unicorn…inside it…
AND Khadagan poisons it with some Cacklebane…
And he, Sorq, and the unicorn ride a wave of barf out of its mouth…
Vadim lays down some spikes…
AND Khut spikes it with arrow…sending it rolling into the spikes…
Barruk drops some darkness on its head…
AND Squee makes it giggle histariously…
AND Sorq throws a fireball strait down its gullet, followed by a swarm of fire spirits…
AND we’re all covered in glop…

Rankings:
Ja’Lin Khan: 7
Baijou Khan: 13
Jhamouka Khan: 14
Subotai Khan: 15

View
Session 14: My Dinner with Ghengis

We’re in Xanadu
Ja’Lin’s malik seneschal explains that Ja’lin’s dad is trying to decide which of his four sons should bear the banners of empire throughout the world
He wants our help to let Ja’Lin (the youngest, least experienced, most academic son) get the one-up on his brothers

We head to the baths to get ready (except Khut who hides because why would anyone want to be wet all over) Giant roman-style baths with the Mother of Fire spirit and an Ice spirit bound to make the cauldarium and frigidarium Six evil mer-monsters (water spirits) with big harpoons burst out of the pools just as everyone is getting naked Ado stuns them all with some pretty feathers floating in the air… We kick their ass… Mostly by lots of Khut, Khad, Ithunn, and Barruk knocking, throwing, kicking, bull-rushing them into the hot/cold pools and Squee driving them insane… and Ithunn grabbing one by the head and giving it an ice-pool swirly… and Vadim and Khad playing tug of war to tear one in half… and free Updon Telegon (the mother of fire)… and accidently drop her into a pool of freezing water…banishing her… And then we get all gussied up to go hob-nobbing… While everyone else is dressing, Khut has some sushi… We are led off to dinner by some steppefolk women with dark-dark skin and red-tinged tusks… Prince Jamushka and lots of big heavy-set brutal killer, no intelligence, no imagination… Prince Baijou, emaciated with a big scary staff…with tons of paper-pushers, number-crunchers behind him… Prince Subotai, old, fat, carried in an ornately-carved wheelbarrow, with nondescript attendants… We bust in and make a big entrance… Barruk…big Malik champion…definitely gets their attention…in a shrinking back kind of way… Khadagan walks in also looking big and bad…with a big-teeted malik serving-lady on his arm… Prince Subotai is very pleased, and clearly not as drunk or incompetent as he looks… Squee rocks in, wearing a big feather headdress, and makes friends with Gen-shahar Khagan… Who reaches down, draws Squee up into his lap, and proceeds to hold court… And she starts braiding his beard… Ado fluffs up and wheedles over to General Baijou…and invites him to tea… And suggests “Perhaps you and I can discuss some ‘weighty affairs’”… And Baijou calls for some very weak, almost clear, tea… Breaks Like Wind slides in obsequiously and starts collecting people’s shoes and passing out silk slippers… Subotai’s are certainly not in need of changing, but he is there right as some wine is spilled on the shoes… And he reads the lines on the bottom of Subotai’s foot-palm…his lifeline is extraordinarily long, continuous, and strong… Khut rolls under Jamushka’s table…they are wasted, distracted by the ladies, and stink of fresh blood… As Ja’lin walks in, there is not a place set for him… but Vadim controls the plants and causes a table and mushroom-cushions to appear… Then…there is food… Whole roast warbler with all feathers replaced… Whole roast hellpig braised only in sea-grass… A thunderbird crafted out of ice, each feather dyed a different color, infused with sugar… Landshark egg-drop soup…which Breaks and Barruk get the recipe for… Whole roast thunderbird, each scale and feather replaced in place… Baijou appears to eat…but doesn’t touch anything… And several people start looking severly ill… Haunch of gorgon…whole roast gorgon legs… AND Khut laces Jamushka’s food with badberry… [2d4 penlty on his avoid puke check] AND Vadim (legit poisoned) projectile vomits on Baijou… AND Jamushka ends up down on hands and knees emptying his guts in a corner… Then the Storytelling… Vadim stands up, and tells the story of battling the Malik sorcerer atop the Thunderbird nest… While brandishing the horns of the Malik and the thunderbird scale shield… One of Jamushka’s goons starts to heckle…then REALLY needs to go to the restroom (thanks to Khut)… Ithunn tells the story of the burning of the Remembrance of Yaguth…with a performer’s flair… Everyone laughs at the ridiculousness…except Gen-shahir Khaghan… Barruk stands up, taking the Malik sorcerer’s horns…and laying down a Zone of Truth… And tells the tale of the assault on the Malik sorcerer’s camp…with Gorgons… And his acting as the bait to draw the stampede to the camp… Breaks Like Wind…appears out of no where…and tells them that he’s looko THROUGH the mirror… AND the whole room is silenced… Khadagan laces a brazier with mad-cackle weed…and “Let me tell you about how I met my wife…” AND even the worst hecklers are spell-bound… Squee, still in the Khan’s lap…speaks up saying “I’m fun-sized”…and tells the story of coming from a pink castle on a purple moon… and how the king and queen sent her on a mission to “collect grass and shiny things”… IN A ZONE OF TRUTH… And the party is completely baffled, amazed, dumbfounded… Khadagan: This is madness! Squee: This is squee! AND Ado is up…he thanks Baijou for the tea, warns Ja’Lin that he may need to render Ado unconscious at the end… And tells the story of his encounter with the undead warblers…and his trip to the fade…" Baijou looks horrified/guilty…Subotai looks cool…The Khagan looks shaken… AND stabs himself in the left-eye with a cursed arrow… AND hands the cursed arrow to Ja’Lin’s second-ranked Malik seneschal… AND the room goes deathly quiet…then erupts into booing and hissing, except the Khagan… AND Sorqutani tells the story of the spirit, the Mother of Fire…with lots of special effects… AND turns into a potted plant?! Quothe Khadagan: “Next time Sorqutani turns into a plant, I am going to deflower her.” AND a voice echos out from under the tables… “Once, I walked into the feast of the great khan himself, and poisoned his sons, and stood before him…and left…” AND KHUT stands up, the unwashed masses, and meeps out the door… THEN Baijou tells the story of “The Cattle-Raid of Oolan Baatar”… Subject to a whole lot of heckling from the professional cattle rustlers… But he carries it on with his expert oratory… Jhamoushka tells of the taking of Val-Ashem, riding on the backs of thunderbirds, burning the city with lightning…bloody massive piles of skulls… Which is actually kindof cool… Squee realizes that the Khagan is trying to decide which two brothers (and entourages) to fight it out…

Current Standing:
Subotai Khan: 2
Ja’Lin Khan: 4 [6 dice to distribute from the story-telling round]
Baijou Khan: 5
Jhamouka Khan: 7

Next Time: The final story of Jhamoushka Khan…

View
Session 13: How to win friends and influence battles.

CARDS: Dolmens, Hulagu, Giggles, Ma’chek, Chinua & The Dust

We strike out after the other missing cows…
Find a pack of 150 Hellhorns…with our beasts…and they’re girls…
Flying the standard of Horgrim Whitemane (old, worn-out general)
The men are all either old or children…
The old general is no idiot…they are digging in…
Circling birds show that there is a second group…
Khut speeds off to check…
200-man Empty Circle scouts…shooting down the birds…

Squee and Ithunn casually saunter down towards the Hellhorn camp…
They are acosted by a big, competent looking Hellhorn lady (Batbyar)…
They are told the camp is on the eve of battle…
They wander in and chat with Horgrim Whitemane…
Who is Squee’s best friend…
Apparently they are ready to “sing their deaths”
They are so ready to die that…Squee REALLY is their best friend…

Khut kisses the mammoth with a Looooooooooong shot…trying to snipe the EC leader…
Which gets shot out of the air by a massive volley…
And KHUT RUNS….

Leading the Centaur army into a valley…
Where the Krokodile decimate their archers with cursed arrows…
The Cavalry crash…

AND the party charges the leader (a massive, blackskinned centaur with a huge axe)…
Khut takes the general’s shield with an arrow…
And Sorq wrecks their lives with a Fireball…
And Squee, Ithunn, and Ado pile on to save her from an incoming volley…
Khut drops one with another shot…also heavily aided by the bardic dynamic duo…
And more Fireballs start flying…
AND Ithunn moving like Hasted lightning…appears out of nowhere…
and spinkicks the general in the face…Five. Times.
And knocks him to the ground…and beats him like a bad dobby…
AND he stands up and beats her with a huge axe…
Khadagan leaps in and slashes at him…narrowly avoiding a back-kick…
Ithunn kicks him down again and the beatings commence…
And chops his head off…
More arrows rain down…finally dropping Sorq…
Khut nails three more…
AND one is turned crispy by a Fireball…
AND Vadim smears one with a Rhino…

Meanwhile the Krokodile keep shooting and the cavalry continue to wheel…
Their cavalry get in among the Krokodile…who are saved by the Hellhorn infantry sacrifice…
AND the cavalry get torn apart by the Krokodile archers…
AND the Empty Circle scouts jump General Whitemane…
but Whitemane and Bayar survive…
AND Khut collects A LOT of horsemeat…
AND Ithunn has a group of fanatical amazon fan-girls…
She gets a lot of “Sign my horn!”
AND Horgrim is deliriously happy for the victory…
He tells us they bought OUR beasts from the Bent Blades…
Over the Hill…
We go pay them a visit…

Scroll of Unseen Servant
Potion of Climbing
4374gp worth of plunder (spent)
15 days of Fodder
32 days of meat rations for the Hellhorns
120 surviving Hellhorns…

We roll in to the Bent Blade camp…
To find out outrider (Squee) has them wrapped around her VERY little finger…
Vadim talks up Nergui’s, the Bent Blade, cow-snatching skills…
We caught them cold and dead to rights…
AND with some smooth talking from Ado…
230 Bent Blade scouts (Horse thief) join our little band…
AND we get all 24 beasts back…
PLUS the 36 they brought with them…
We sent couriers back to the Gray Lady telling her that we found some skystones…
and food, and she should come join us…

We book it North and catch up with the caravan…
During a Lightning Storm…
There is a stampede…while rounding them up we find…
5 fine-blood (L4) Hornbeasts show up…with Malik brands…
Apparently belonged to the Cataphracts of the Malik empire…

We start trying to integrate our new, mismatched Tribe…
Sorq goes to talk with Hundreds…who is up to her ears in refugees…
Ado and Squee jump in with some work songs to get everyone packing stores for the road…
Ithunn takes her Amazons and begins training them in a very erotic combat-dance…
Khadagan loads up a pair of wagons with a mobile herb-garden…
He plants Cackleaway, Sourgrass, and a couple Firestarter Bushes…
Vadim chats with Hulagu…
Learn the Chinua ran off to the Boneyards with a pacel of outriders…
Hulagu asks for help collecting salt from the salt flats…

Vadim and Khut round everyone up and ride off after Chinua…
We follow them to the khurgan burial mounds of the “Bone Yards”…
We follow the tracks towards the oldest dolmens…
Sorq deciphers the moss-covered ancient ruins…
The final resting place of Khan Gen’Shihir, his mount, and his wind beast…
There is a giant stone blocking the passage…the block is brand new…
and the tracks go STRAIT IN…
We tie a rhino too it…then Sorq explodes it as we goose the Rhino…
AND we’re in…
AND another big rock closes us in…

We enter a big antechamber with bass-relief depictions of steppefolk at war…
The story of the betrayal of Gen’Shahir Khan to the Shahanshar of Malik Gond Shahar
Sorq creates some flaming cat lights…
Khut finds tracks going left…into a workers chamber…
Big boulders fallen in from the roof…remnants of a recent camp…
4 days of rations are there (they took a week)…
Strange pinging and clicking noises…
A rock moves…It surprises people…Khut hits it, and hits it again, and hits it again…
It swings back and whiffs…
Khadagan crams some firestarter bush wood-chips in the crack left by Khut’s axe…
AND Sorq blows it up with fire…
AND Squee blows it up with Shatter…
AND Ithunn leaps in, kicks it down, and starts beating…
But it stands up and punches her into a wall…and vanishes…

Khadagan points out that the rock-monster is a spirit…
We all light up a bowl of Yokeleaf and start tripping…
We appear to be in a smooth hall of solid-gold (on-reflective) walls…
Sounds of tinkling fountains…
A tall, square-chinned steppefolk in heavy armor with a long forward curved sword…
We chat it up with Ja’Lin (he’s gellin like a felon)…
He leads us into a gorgeous pleasure dome with a crystal domed ceiling…
With an unbelievable greenhouse/garden of unrecognizable plants…
Sorq busts out a gilded, landshark-bone flute and tries to propitiate the spirits with song…
Ja’Lin offers us baths and summons two malik servants to assist us…
Khut looks at everyone like they are insane when they start bathing…

NEXT TIME: Ado pees in the pool in Xanadu

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Session 12: Horray for Omelettes!

Deck of Fate Draws: Swampy, Gabaatar, Altan, ???

Vadim is wandering through the mist…
He smells the boiled-cabage scent of a gorgon…
He goes kackle-mode and follows the scent…
He finds a gorgon, stuck in the mud, bellowing…
He freezes the ground and tries to free the creature…
Swarms of landsharks are around…

We all awake to Vadim bellowing (waking from a dream)…
There is white dust on Vadim…
We are in the mudflats left behind after the monsoon tarns…
Burning cursed Khort keeps the Holy Mountain Beasts coralled…
We see Altan running for the herds…
Vadim bolts out the door…
“I guess this is a no pants day”

Wettooth peas growing around the corrals…
The big bull HMB rears and stomps…
The mamas stand guard over the calves…
Except in the HMB corral, where they appear dry…
Like something feeding on their roots…
Khut rushes in, sight obscured by the smoke…
Lights a torch and shoves it in a crack in the mud looking around…
Squee rushes in and finds a blood-trail leading to one of the calves…
Heals him quick-like…

The mudflasts buckle in a line heading for the HMB calf…
Barruk rushes in and stands right in the path…
A fully grown, emaciated landshark breaks the surface…
Barruk lands a solid swing on it…
Then it crashes into the baby…
Only to anger the mama who starts stomping…
Knocking everyone flat…
It hurls past Barruk, and Ithunn who tries to look scary…
And CHOMPS the calf…

Khut instinctively runs for high ground…
The highest ground is obviously the Bull…
He tries to climb it…
and narrowly avoids getting stomped…
but the big feet open up the tunnels below…
Khadagan leaps at the landshark and, Raging, tries to hold its jaws shut…
Barruk leaps onto its back, and hacks at its neck…
Squee does a hilarious hippo impression…viciously mocking the landshark…
Ado leaps into the Landshark’s mouth…and sings a lullaby to the calf…
Who shall henceforth be known as “THUMPER”…
Ithunn leaps in and kicks the landshark backward away from the calf…
Right under the feet of the stomping Bull…

Khadagan leaps in after it…and stabs it in the pants…
Its viscera spill out into the muck…but it keeps coming…
Barruk tries to leap out…and falls on its head, decapitating it…

Khut runs and knocks over the nearest bundle of khort…
Choking and hacking as he does it…
Vadim makes friends with the mama and rides the HMBs off to get some fodder…

Sorq and Ithunn collect a lot of landshark eggs from the holes and make lots of omelets…
Khut cuts up the adult and makes a really, really nice cloak…

Ado takes Thumper to meet Ganbaatar…suggesting that Thumper could be trained for war…

We go talk to Altan…round up his herd and the second brood HMB
We head south to seek out the Gray Lady…
AND a sleeping landshark that Vadim detected…

Khut rides off to try to wake up and draw the shark’s attention…
Then Ado drops a Thunderwave to draw it in on himself…
The Shark bursts up, swallows Ado whole, and dives…
Khut and Ithunn dive down the hole after it…
Ithunn lights up a huge chamber…
The back wall glistens with hundreds of eggs…
The big, mama landshark digs its claws in…
AND Ithunn grabs its tail and chases it up out of the whole…
Barruk and Khad swing for it, and create a mighty breeze of whiffing…
AND Vadim rushes in on his Rhino…knocking it down and stomping it…
Vadim leaps in the hole as the Rhino goes over…
AND belly-flops in the mud…
AND Squee jumps down and lands on him…
Ado gets up and uses them as a human ladder to climb out…
and narrowly avoids getting eaten again…

Sorq’s cat, Alev, leaps into the launches some flames at the eggs…
Khut runs over and shoots up out of the hole…
Tagging its tail as it swings past over the hole…
AND Khadagan slides in and opens its belly…

We climb down and collect the eggs…put them on ice…
With the intent of leaving them as traps (17 live eggs)…
Khut cuts up mama for food…
AND discovers that Landshark eggs are THE MOST DELICIOUS THING EVER!

We catch the Gray Lady a half-day’s journey outside of Vohu Mana
Ado leads the way in…and runs into Krokodile outriders…
Who inform him that they are STARVING
They’ve lost several people…
We roll in and cook up some Landshark soup…
Vadim brings a hardboiled Landshark egg to the Gray Lady…
Turns out they’ve been living on Krokodile eggs for a few days…
The Gray Lady is pissed off…
We negotiate food & transport to Vohu Mana & 2 mating HMBs…
The Gray Lady quickens “Little Foot”…
Lots of bad smells, sacrificed eggs, and she’s nearly unconcious after…

We hear a ruckus from the Krokodile…
Find out that 24 of their hornbeasts have been stolen…
Khut looks for tracks…
finds that the Warbler curse markers have been bypassed…
Blob of reddish paint…
Clear tracks hornbeast tracks…and one stepfolk mocassin print…
Khut hits the ground running…and chases down a small Malik caravan…
2 wagons…6 Malik guards…2 massive 10-ft. tall lumbering Malik…
AND the carve-horned, giant malik are clearly not alive…
AND they have way more hornbeasts than they should…
Definitely the stolen ones, but only 6 of them

Barruk and Squee ride in and greet them…
The black-robed leader-malik refers to things in the East as “deeply untroubled”
Says he bought the hornbeasts for “a song” from…
Red-skinned, horned steppefolk…who lit out north…
Barruk mentions “Brands”…
AND Khut rolls at full speed and smears a guard with a Rhino…
AND Barruk clocks the Malik-sorcerer with a branding smite…
The sorcerer disappears…reappearing and blasting Khut off his beast…
AND then Ado silences him…

Sorqutani vanishes, reappears right beside the sorcerer…
AND he goes rigid…and Alev climbs into his robe and starts biting…
AND Khadagan leaps into the silence and guts him…

Barruk is surrounded by five dudes and two zombies…
AND wrecks a zombie with his flaming hammer…
A guard retaliates…and Barruk turns to water for a second…
AND the axe splashes through him harmlessly…
BECAUSE the spirit of Drowned River loves us…
Vadim rushes in and smears a zombie with a Rhino…
Squee calls up clouds of swirling daggers around Barruk…
Ado thorn-whips a zombie through the blade barriers…
AND then Vadim crushes it with his Rhino…

Ado, who has been being beaten on by two of the guards…
RUNS and hides under a wagon…but still gets a javelin in the ass…
He tries a shot at one of the guards…and knocks out Barruk instead…

NEXT TIME:
Interrogate 2 captured Malik guards – from Vahu Mana
Chase down Hellhorns…

Loot:
32 Boiled Landshark eggs (heal 1d4 hit points when you eat it)
16 Live (chilled) Landshark eggs
500 copper disks, 8000 silver disks, 2600 gold disks, 130 platinum disks
1 Potion of Healing
2 wagons…with wheels…

View
Session 11: How much can we piss them off?

Deck of Fate Draw: Feud, Semek’s Wife, Naquim Black-Hand;

Draw Second Session: Sparky, Holy Mountain Beast

We dress out the dead razorclaw…
Find its stomach filled with meat contaminated by massive amount of Cursed Khort
Clearly deliberately poisoned…

We entreat the Drowned River spirit to help us find a monsoon tarn where Cursed Khort grows
Khut spots Watery Horntail spores on the wind and we follow them northwest…

Notched curl on a wind-beast (standard) and a big group of steppefolk
Hellhorns…with a triple-curl of Orbghuz IronCrown…who hates us…
Also standard of Brackith Axetooth (another vanguard clan)
Also black-hand-on-white-field of the Black Hands
Lots of Black Crow hunting ripclaws circling around

We crouch discussing whether there is any hope for peace…
Khad spots an albino ripclaw flying in from the West making a bee-line for the camp
Khut shoots it down, the bird vanishes, and drops something
Khut stealth-sprints and grabs a bamboo thing that the bird dropped
Warbeasts thunder out of the camp…
Ado creates an alarm cascade in the local fauna distracting them
Two peal off…two head strait for Khut
Khut goes flat and hides…
AND escapes by the skin of his teeth
Sorq sends Alev, her miacid familiar to retrieve the arrow…

Khut hands over the bamboo thing to Sorq to figure out what it is…
It is wrapped in a strip of paper with black-shaman runes on it…
Wrapped around a stick of specific length, then re-wrapped to make it incomprehensible…
Sorq interprets the markings…
“Beast herd west, bring everyone, the hunt begins”

Ado decides to entreat the Dust spirit for aid against the Hellhorns…
Khut gopher-snares a licken…and hands it over to Ado…
Ado rips out the lickens throat and makes a circle of blood around himself…
His attention is drawn to the Hellhorns, who are breaking camp…slowly…
Khadagan entreats Drowned River to mire their wagons…

We send Semek’s wife back to Drowned River to rouse the hunting parties…

Seeing the Hellhorn hunting parties saddling up, we decide to cause trouble…
Sorq sends Alev in to set fire to the camp…drawing off one of the parties…
2 Blackhand, 2 Axetooth, and 3 Hellhorn parties left…

We run down the southernmost Black Hand hunting party…
Chase them for 20 minutes…Sorq shrinks and rides Khut’s shoulder…

Khut leaps onto the rear-most warbeast…
Sorq color-sprays the driver…
Knut body checks the rider and spearman off…takes control of the animal…
And Charges his Rhino into a headlong rush against one of their Rhinos…
And Sorq paralyzes their driver…
And Vadim comes up and blows the spearman off with a gust…

Ripper runs off after a licken, taking Ado into the thorns with him…
And Ado gets shot a lot…

Khad charges down a ridge and tackles a rhino, grabbing its head and bringing it to a halt…
Sending its rider and spearman flying…

The lead rider releases a Ripclaw to warn the others…
Which is promptly shot out of the air by Khut…

A spearman climbs up on Vadim’s Rhino and is promptly thorn-whipped off…
Then the Driver is gusted off…
And Vadim has his own rhino…

We run arround and pound them with Warbeasts…and grind them into the dust…

We take their pikes, a case of 8 healing potions, and 4 warbeasts
We toss down healing potions…and ride hell for leather to the west…

We catch up and see a lantern-flash signal from another Hellhorn hunting party…
Telling us to circle with our pikes…
AND we see that it is a herd of Holy Mountain Beasts…
Apparently they are trying to drive them off a cliff…
We jump a ravine and circle to the west to try to cut off the herd and drive them south instead of NW to the ravine…

Vadim lays down some thorns in front of the next closest hunting party…
Then he and Sorq rush headlong into a forest of Holy Mountain Beast legs…
And Vadim makes “Friends” with a HMB bull calf…and makes a friend for life…
AND gets STOMPED by the angry mother HMB
And Sorq sends her cat in…which claws its way up on one and vanishes in a flash of fire…
Causing six HMBs to charge, panicked back to the east…strait at the Black Hands…
And Vadim gooses it and bursts out ahead of the HMB herd…

Meanwhile, Khut slides his beast into a ravine for cover…
AND does a looooooong, arcing shot in the dark and tags an Axetooth standard bearer…
WITH a Black Hand arrow….hilarity ensues…

AND…we run into some Quicksand…and Khut barely rears and pivots his beast before it goes in…

Two Black Hand hunters peel off and chase to Khadagan…
And Khad shoves a bag of poisoned thermopsis powder in a spearman’s face…
And then the Driver vanishes, shot off the beast by Khut…
And the second driver gets Ripper-poo flung in his face by Ado…
Who swings down under his warbeast to dodge their counter-attacks…
AND jabs his spurs into his own beast, unleashing a Thunder Wave…
Blowing them away…
One more beast comes up behind him…
And the third driver vanishes just like the first…

Suddenly, out of nowhere…there are swarming clouds of Ripclaws…
Which tear into everyone…
Khad spots a flickering crow…a shaman in spirit form…
AND cleaves it with his axes, dissipating the swarm…

And Sorq, now out it front, bursts into flame, spewing fire everywhere…
AND TURNS THE HERD
Everything in the north turns into a royal cluster-fuck melee Hellhorns vs. HMBs…
AND Khut does some surgery to a warbler arrow…and launches it…
With a long, shrill cry of “FUCK YOU ORBGHUZ IRONCROWN!”

We start driving six HMBs south…Vadim’s baby, the mama, and four others…
Sorq drives them with firebolts…Ado mimics the cries of a calf to draw the mothers on…
AND then the Nohai come running on…
We send them circling out to the edge of the fight to pick of straggler warbeasts…
And they come hauling back enough meet for 13 days…

We get back to Drowned River…
With six Holy Mountain Beasts…
Meat to feed the tribe for 13 days…
Khad takes a fresh HMB Steak to Semek…and asks him to step up the manufaccture of his Razorclaw claw weapons…

View
Session 10: Time to go Hunting

JC’s notes

By the body of a dead Holy Mountain Beast
Vadim is wrapped up, in the mud, by two giant acid-spitting snakes
Ithunn, Pinky, and Khut quickly kick its ass
Then, of course, there was a giant fresh Holy Mountain Beast…WOO MEAT!
Ferrik, a very short member of the Dust, shows up and helps himself to a snack
says he knows where the stuck Tradestoners were

We find the Tradestoners…circled up with torches…
being circled by two full-grown, voracious landsharks
one tackles Petrana (tradestone general) and starts rolling her in the mud…
AND it is night…and overcast…so Vadim and Khut can’t see…
We shoot into the darkness…hit some Tradestoners…
THEN
Sorq wild-casts some fire to make a light…and Confuses everyone
THEN
Vadim feels some eggs hatching…under his hands…
AND lots and lots of baby landsharks start crawling out of the ground…
Ithunn leaps in and stabbity-stabbity the one on Petrana…
Squee sings and sends pointy thorns impaling the other one…
Vadim wades towards the Bull Landshark, grunting like a Landshark in heat…
and tags it with ANIMAL FRIENDSHIP
Khut shoots right through a gout of swamp gas…
AND hits a wagon lightning it on fire… to cries of “NOT THAT WAGON!”

The Landsharks charge…one eats Ithunn…the other leaps and crushes & knocksout Squee and Ado…
Barruk tries to leap up on a Hillock…but goes unintentionally swimming instead…
Ado and Ithunn leap up on the back of an attacking Landshark…
Khadagan rushes in and tips the burning wagon…dousing the fire…
but finding a man with a tube full of imperial fireworks pointed at him…

Vadim rides off with “Swampy” the Bull Landshark to go eat the holy mountain beast…
Swampy snacks on the landshark-fry as he swims by…
Khut grabs Squee and books it out of there in Swampy’s wake…

The Landshark lady rolls and crushes Ado…
And the swarm of fry roil over Ferrik…
Barruk shoves it up out of the water, half onto a hillock with his horns…
Where sorq blasts it with fire and Ithunn proceeds to stabity-stabity

Squee, riding on Khut, drops a thundering depth charge into the middle of the baby-landshark swarm…
Swampy swims through and eats them all…

Mama landshark leaps and pins Barruk three-feet under the water…
But gets an arrow from Ferrik strait into the brainpan…and then gets skeletonized by the fries…

And…froth of hatching baby landsharks spread like froth on the water, thousands of them in every direction…
Vadim rushes by on Swampy and tosses two 200-ft. lengths of heavy hempen rope…
Petrana grabs one and anchors it to a wagon…
Khut rush swims for another wagon…barely grabs on to the wagon…
with the rope tangled around his ankle…AND hangs on for dear life…

Khadagan rights the fireworks wagon and throws a keg of gunpowder into the midst of the fry…
Ferrik pegs it…
AND there is a BIG BOOM

Everyone books it for the wagons…accompanied by Squee’s depth charges and Sorq’s icy flashes…
hooking the other wagons onto the train…
Which are classic Tradestoner praerie-schooners, barges with wheels…
With desperate hornbeasts trying to swim along as Swampy drags them…
Barruk makes a flying leap into the last (rootabega-filled) wagon…
Ferrik grabs Ado and leaps on behind him…
Sorq, standing on a tumbling, floating hillock, pulls out her thunderbird-feather…
and electrifies the fry-filled water, vaporizing much of it, creating a huge bank of fog…
AND falls off her hillock…vanishing in a flash of flame just before she hits the water…
only to reappear, precariously balanced, on yet another hillock…
And Khad lights up another keg and chucks it into the water…BOOM!

We get free, cut up the holy mountain beast (and feed the rest to Swampy who promptly goes to sleep…
Petrana introduces us to Broken Tusk…the lazy do-nothing boom-powder maker…

We push hard through the night until Vadim is almost dying from exhaustion…
But finally get out of the mud…
Khut tries to ask Petrana whether she’d like to go with Gray Lady or Drowned River…
But finds her truly dying from exhaustion…
And everyone piles on and manage to bring her back from the brink…
There is some argument with Vadim…but finally we strike W by NW around the fens to catch Drowned River…

We find a cairn with 4 dead Drowned River outriders (sans beasts)…shot to death…
We catch up with the caravan…
Khut and Vadim do some breeding…Blacky gets Rosebud pregnant with triplets…
Ferrik makes some challenges within the pack…
Barruk chats with Ganbaatar, finds out that they lost a patrol…
and that something has been running ahead of the Clan…and flushing out/burning out all the food…

TIME TO GO HUNTING
Khadagan sends up a ripclaw (somehow seeing through its eyes)…and it gets taken down from above and behind…
We find a dead, long-rotting hornbeast calf…and some signs of it being dragged/dropped off a cliff…
And then we get pounced by a “Sabreclaw”…big slothlike thing…looking sick and enraged…
Quothe Sorq “It must be saved…with fire”
Vadim turns the ground to spikes…and Khut pushes it back to keep the distance…
Barruk charges and cleans its clock with a two-handed strike from his axe…
Ado drags it through the spikes with a thornwhip…
Khadagan runs up and gets in its grill…
And gets shot onto the spikes by Khut…
AND then it slams Barruk into the spiked cliff-face…impaling him and knocking him out cold…
Ferrik shoots but it goes wide as the rock he’s standing on collapses…
Sorq summons up some weird black tentacle arm things…and slams Barruk and the beasty…
Then Khadagan takes its head…
AND its rage floods into Khad making him even ragier…
AND takes its claws as a trophy…to be converted into weapons…

View
Session 8: We Didn't Even Have to Set Fire to It

Caravan moving determinedly to the west — well supplied with bolts and wood, Altan pacified
Hundreds of Dust plies us with fermented diabetic warbeast blood and asks about integrating the tribes (Dust & Drowned River)
Clearly she thinks helping each other (cross-race) is a “filthy” practice
Hors’deouvre (chatty gnome working for Gray Lady) buts in confusingly
“Warren” — racist gnome who can’t discarn ‘big-folk’ genders, kicked out by the Gray Lady for not being able to use the right gendered pronoun
There is a long, convoluted discussing about “trade” (sex), how to strengthen the pack, and the proper place of the nohai in the pack
We dispatch three nohai hunting parties one “howl” to the east, one to the west, and one to the northwest
Giggles takes the East
Hundreds says she will “make herself useful”, by which we think she will try to supplant a member of the heirarchy
She heads out and jumps Ma’Chek…Khut flags to Ma’Chek that she should bare the throat…
Ado hits the crowd with Calm Emotions…
Sorq stuns Ganbaatar before he interferes…
Hundreds of Dust becomes our new mayor (very charismatic, chaos-inducing mayor)…
She warns Khadagan that he should be careful of her mate…Khut and Khad follow up to learn that Chinua is now her mate…
Warren the gnome hits the downed Ma’Chek with a Charm Person…and get hauled off to a tent…
Ado goes out and tries to get the drowned river folk to calm down about the change in leadership…
Kicks Ma’Chek’s power base out from under her…

We wake up to the sound of Hundreds howling…to a strange crystalline awareness…the world in phosphorescent
Hundreds of Dust is seated in the very center of the camp, in the middle of an ornate sand drawing…
The Moon splits, divides in three (silver, rose, dark)…clearly we have touched the ‘Spirit Realm’…three separate distinct worlds…
Figures moving around cast three different shadows…one real, one faint, one disintegrating…portraying three different actions…
“The Verge” — the moment in the split second before the ‘world comes into being’ before a thing happens…before reality crystalizes…
The “Near Verge” — where you can slip between the Verge, the moment that will be, and “the Cusp”, the moment that is…
Part of “The Fade” is infringing…part of what happens after we are done with the present moment…
The symbol on the ground glows the same rose colour as the third moon…
Squee suddenly screams “ITS THE MOON PEOPLE”…
Ado steps out and echos the sound of an angry, imminent thunderbird…
Khut reaches into his pants and pulls out his second-most prized possession…his third knife…the cold-forged iron one…the kind that you stick between the shoulder-blades of spellcasters because they deserve it…
A spiked, brutal THING appears…woven from the fear of the future…fears of starvation, fear of being driven out, fear of oppression, fear of the journey…
Ithunn bears her broken tusks (which are surrounded by burning black flames), says “I Remember”, and jumps the thing…almost as if it weren’t there…
Khad swings at it…and somehow only the trailing edge of the blade contacts it, the for-edge passing right through…
Khut jams his blackened blade between the thing’s shoulder blades and rakes it…getting its attention…and gets clawed a bunch for his efforts…
he didn’t need that kidney anyways…
Ado takes the distraction and puts the arrow strait into its rib-cage…
Warren lets his batshit crazy mind race…and all of his crazy postulations somehow appear and attack the thing…making it jump strait into Khad’s axe…
AND…the thing suddenly bursts out laughing as an illusory Warren hits it with a pie…
Sorq paralyzes it and bends it into a pretzel staring at its own ass…
And Ithunn, Khut, and Khad tear his lungs out…
AND Ado jumps up and plants his iron foot-spurs strait into both of his eyes…and sorq roasts them in a fire…

Shadow_Brute.jpg

And then, we appear to be sitting around a campfire with the strange pungent smell of something burning in the fire…
Ado sticks his hand in the fire and is not burned…pulling forth five fire opals (which are continuously warm to the touch)…
Hundreds of Dust is there, with an elaborate sand-painting around the fire and a lot of psychotropic shrooms burning in it…
Dawn breaks so we get to sleep…

Late in the day, Khad wakes up and goes to bug Semek for some armor, and to ask what he thinks about the events of yesterday…
Everyone else jumps in with orders: armor for Ado, Yaghuth-tusk holder belt thing for Ithunn, and razorclaw spine-mounted bracers for Sorqutani…

We get moving…moving west with Shield Breakers as vanguard and Dust hunting-parties running watch as described…
The krockodile split up…ripclaw breeders stay with the caravan…fletchers join the Gray Lady’s caravan…
Maggotfolk wagons are brightly-painted gypsy caravans covered with Maggot warding-sigils warding against “The Fade”…
Accompanied by about a hundred hired mercenaries and Tradestone refugees…
We meet the Gray Lady and her sister (who has bright green hair)…
Khut stares and gets a three-section-staff to the head from Ithunn…who is apparently a little annoyed with his wanna-be philandering…
We debate their caravan’s needs for food vs. the Warblers/Drowned River’s ability to provide…and the opportunity to travel together…
She tells us about the Empty Circle worshipping some “monstrous power from beyond space who is immensely strong and powerful and somehow allows evil to exist”
She informs us that the Yaghuth follows in our wake…and are probably too scared to approach…
We ask about news from the west, she replies saying that there is little news from the West (emphazised capital, more like ‘Sunset’)…
“The far west I would not worry about too deeply…there are few who reach ‘The Land Beyond the Sun’”…

Ado talks Gray Lady into letting us into her rolling library and asks her to read selected passages…
Ado gets hold of an atlas…Steppes lead to Deserts, Deserts lead to the ziggurats of a decadent Malik empire…circumventing the Desert would take us off the map…
Khadagan gets some education in western medicine and herbalism…
Khut watches over her shoulder — the “Old Imperial” language — cased, gendered, stratified, honorific, and extremely complex…and translated from a deeply individualist, unstratified language with ~18 different temporal mode…

View
Session 6: Two Battles of Five Armies
...each!

Vadim convinces us to head north to round up the Black Crows before they get eaten by Nohai
Khut notices black birds circling in the distance
We book it full speed, running strait like an arrow to the circling battle-to-be
We arrive, cresting a hill just in time to see the Dust sneaking up on the Black Crows
And a cloud of small, black spikebeaks (“ripclaws”) (trained as hunting birds by the Black Feather warblers)
And a crew of emaciated, Empty-Circle nohai charging after the Dust, running on all fours
… Because FREE FOR ALL
The birds dive after Ithunn, and she punches them out of the sky
Sorquitani fires some fire over their heads…
Ado fires a screamer arrow at them as well, scattering half the flock
Squee jumps between the Dust and Black Crows and screams (magically loud) for “Everyone stop!”
Vadim runs for the Black Crows and tries to steal the best-looking beast
Barruk charges the Empty Circle nohai and swings for the fences…lightning falls from the sky, strikes his axe, and roasts a nohai
… One of the Empty Circles glares at Barruk, Sorq, and Khut causing us to briefly snap into the Shadow Lands from which they come…
Another leaps at Barruk, and lands, hanging on his shield…
The Dust turn and open fire on the empty circle…impaling the shield-hanger…
The Black Crows riding two-to-a-beast stare at squee but stay out of the fight…

Khut keeps and eye on Ithunn, just to make sure she’s alright, then scalps one of the Empty Circles with an arrow
Ado pegs it clean through the heart…dropping it…
Squee waxes cute, pouts at the Black Crows, and points at the Empty Circle nohai…and the Black Crows charge into the battle…
They crash in and send a EC Nohai flying…
Vadim vaults onto a loose, ranpaging warbeast and turns it towards the Empty Circle…
They scatter…
Barruk rears up and pile drives the one on his shield flat into the ground…
The others stare at Barruk with empty-black eyes and he falls asleep…and it goes for his throat…
Another howls and the spikebeaks turn and swoop after Barruk…and bounce off his shield with the sound of metal on metal…
The Dust circle up, back to back, and train arrows on everyone…

Ithunn spike-kicks the last bird on her…
Which is apparently hilarious…one of the ECs starts laughing hollowly and uproariously…runs out of the dust…
…and gets railed with an arrow from Khut hurling it back to land at Barruk’s feet…
Barruk kicks him up into the air and impales him on his horns…which is still hilarious…
Ithunn leaps and and brings her staff down on the nohai driving it down on the horns to the base…
Vadim’s warbeast rears up and crushes another EC Nohai…then the dust parts as Vadim lights up the ECs and birds…
One of the birds diving for Barruk dies with one of Ado’s arrows through its throat…
The other runs and Khut shoots it out of the sky…
Sorq keeps talking and bowing, trying to pacify the Dust…
Then gets hit in the face with a small sack of gray dust…

We make friends with the Black Crows and head to their tribe, which is on the move…fast…
Running in a staggered V formation, superior warbeasts plowing a big path for the herdbeasts…
The biggest strongest leaders (with awesome warbeasts) running in front…
Khut (or mostly Ado perched on his shoulder) try to talk to the clan-father (“Khaza Shield-Breaker”)…
Fractured leadership…families come and go from the tribe regularly…
Heavily Black-Shaman…stay out of politics
The war-leaders of the vanguard, the three largest clans try lead by consensus…
We convince the “Shield Breakers” to go south with us…scouts/cadet vanguards…
Major branch are the “Axe-Teeth” (one of vanguards)…
Hellhorns (also a vanguard clan) are most ferocious…

Vadim, Ithunn, and Sorq run off to steal some cows…
…ends up in “Hellhorn” territory (massive, ebony-skinned, take very good care of their tusks), small horns…
Find sticks woven with tufts of grass…obvious shamanic magic of some kind…
Rich and well appointed with felt yurts and beautiful drowned-river rugs…
Beasts several cuts above what we have in our herd…
Vadim finds the Rosebud of breeding stock…a beautiful young cow with turgid udders, rosey hide, and the lineage of kings…
and … pisses off a Shaman…
Vadim grabs “Rosebud” and RUNSJUMPS…and barely avoids a lightning bolt as he books it away with the cow…
Sorq and Ithunn slink away…

Khut, Ado, Squee, and Barruk chat with the Shield Breaker leaders talking about how they might gain glory but crushing the Dust…
Ithunn runs into the tent and warbles to Khut and Ado about Vadim’s escapades…
Khut yells that Nohai have stolen Hellhorn beasts and are rushing to steal the glory…

We run out at full speed…followed by three young upstart scout clans…
“Shield Breakers” “Bentblades” and “Sureshafts” — ride hornbeasts/scoutbeasts and are horse archers with longbows
Khut picks an intercept path…Squee and Barruk give rousing speeches as we run to boost their morale
Ithunn calls in the warbler cavalry…
Vadim rides at full speed, then Semek’s wife shows up and peels off…he follows…
Sorq runs back to our nohai and paints them with the symbol of her tribe (“Lust” — “The ones that breed cattle”) to differentiate them from the Dust…

A weird black bird (Decoy) shows up…chats with Ado, and demands booze…
Ado tells him to inform Ganbaatar (via Breaks) that we are attacking the Dust…
Ado threatens him and he staggers off into the wind (utterly drunk)…

Still running…Khut notices a woman among the Shield Breakers…slows…runs along side staring up longingly…and stammers out “Can I ride with you”…
She scoops him up…obviously she is from the “Sureshaft” clan…
Ado, impatient with Ripper not running fast enough, leaps on a warbeast and yells “Can I take over”…
Barruk acrobatically leaps up, grabs Ado, and manages to
Squee…shouts directions from her perch on Khaza’a head, and somehow manages to point him in the right way…
Ithunn squeels out on her flute, waking up all the birds behind us and sending them screaching up into their air…
Vadim, riding like hell…fumbles out a potion and quaffs it…or was it poison…nope its a potion…whew!
HEALING POTIONS SMELL LIKE MINT or CUT GRASS

Vadim leads the Hellhorns through a ravine and they burst out, full speed, strait into the Dust camp surprising both sides…
Lightning streaks toward the Nohai…Fireeyes comes out hammer blazing and launching fireballs into the Hellhorns…
Dead hornbeasts choke the opening of the ravine, Hellhorns storm through the fire, nohai climb over nohai to tear at the wounded…

We arrive at the top of the hill, Shield Breakers and Bentblades charge down…
Khut pegs Fire-Eyes with a shrieker arrow…he takes it on the shield and is forced to cast the shield aside…
Barruk charges in on a hornbeast, eyes glowing, and leaps towards Fire-Eyes bellowing a Challenge…
Squee whips out some bundles of grass and starts cheering Barruk on…
Ado heaps insults on Fire-Eyes head…
Nohai fire a volley then charge up the hill towards the Sureshafts…
Ithunn leaps down the hill and starts beating nohai with her three-section staff…
A massive Hellhorn in black armor goes berserk charges Fire Eyes…
Vadim casts a vine around his leg, but he pulls it loose without blinking…but wiffs on his swing at Fire Eyes…
Khut pegs him with an arc’d shot from the midst of a pack of nohai…

Fire Eyes swings his hammer at Barruk…missing by a mile…but then grabs him with a claw and savages with his teeth…
Barruk declares a Vow of Enmity…and tags him with a great axe…
Squee continues cheering and waving her pom-poms…
Ado drops a heal on Barruk and illusions up the sound of a thunderbird…which lasts a little longer than he thought…
Ithunn unleashes a flurry of blows and launches two gnolls off the cliff…
Khut pulls out his knives and slashes, boots, and sends the other two tumbling down to join them…

Vadim runs to the culvert and finds one hellhorn warbeast not-quite-dead from the initial blasts…
He heals it up and hides the warbeast and Rosebud…
Squee smiles at the big hellhorn…whispers that the other Hellhorns are stealing his beasts…
and sends him raging into his own clan…smashing knees into the other Hellhorn’s faces…
and gets burried under his own bodyguards (trying to hold him down)…and the nohei taking advantage of the distraction…

Ithunn runs into a pack of Nohei, drawing them towards the Hellhorns…
but gets torn up…
Vadim rides in, grabs Ithunn and books it for where Ganbaatar is riding in from the South…
Ado leaps into the fray near Ganbaatar and unleashes a thunderwave blasting the pressing pack away…
Khut scrambles up the hill and fires at the back of the pack pressing Ganbaatar crying “Drowned River is with us” to focus the Sure Shafts

Sorq and her pack of Nohai sneak into the fray and hunt out the tent of “Hundreds of Dust” (the Dust shamaness)
She finds a tent with heavy runic beadwork…with no fire or fighting near it…
She tries to set fire to it…then realizes there are books inside…and…“decides not to”

Vadim, still riding away with Ithunn, gets shot and slumps in the saddle…
Ado runs after and heals Vadim…

Barruk and Fire Eyes keep circling and striking…the hammer misses, the axe hits…and again…
AND…Barruk brings the axe up and under and Fire Eye’s head goes flying…
The battlefield freezes…and a howl erupts from the Nohai…
Barruk raises Fire Eye’s head and shouts for everyone to stand down…

The Hellhorns withdraw…heavily weakened…
The Shield Breakers are super happy…and one of the strongest cadet clans…
The Nohai gather around Barruk and Hundreds of Dust comes out of her tent to find Sorquitani standing there…

Hellhorns — 15 out of 70 live
Shield Breakers — All in good shape, friendly with us, trying to edge out Hellhorns as Vanguard
Bent Blades -
Sure Shafts -
“Misty/Bambi/Candy Sureshaft”
Drowned River — 7 out of 12 live
Nohai — 100 + Hundreds of Dust

Increase the party herd by Rosebud + 21 beasts given to Ganbaatar/Altan

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Session 5: Bright Colors Means It's Poisonous

Just the notes
Peter — please add to this

Altan is raging, Ganbaataar is taking all the beasts
Vadim hooks up with some maggotfolk merchants to
make some nails/bolts to fix the wagons
Breaks Like Wind calls some unseen servants to lash
the wagons together
Khut and another of the maggotfolk go hunting
Bring down a wild hornbeast
Notice strange weather — heat waves in the air
Find Semek’s wife in the bushes…
Follow her…staring happens…
She runs for me…I panic…
She vaults over me and runs for camp…
We get back to camp, things are chaotic…
Breaks Like Wind summons “Decoy 9” a thoroughly
disreputable bird
Ithunn “handles” Decoy and gets seriously cussed
out, until she chokes him
Breaks sends Decoy to scout out the Black Crow
tribe and tell them “with only 1 insult”
that firebirds are coming at the head of
an army of beastmen
Breaks includes a note to be given to the Shaman
telling them drowned river is pulling up and
moving out

Decoy narrowly missing a “flying hornbeast”
part of the herd that is forming up outside the camp
floating 30 feet over the ground
everyone runs like crazy to catch it
Ithunn runs realy-realy fast
Khut decides that Semek’s wife has nothing on her
Breaks like wind stares at it through a shard of a
magic mirror, reflects himself and the world around
him, but over his shoulder at the distance, things grow very very dim, his reflection
mouths the words “They are coming”, he shouts it
Khut chases the flying hornbeast on a warbeast
and lassos it, snagging a leg
Ithunn leaps, grabs the rope, and climbs up
Khut goes up the rope after her
Up close we can see that it looks lacerated,
along its size with “ropes” wrapped around it
suckling at the wounds
Vadim ties the rope off to the horn of his saddle
tries to drag the flying hornbeast down, but
gets dragged along instead
Squee climbs up (or rides her imaginary pink dragon)
whatever
she gets up and screams something about
“IT’S GOT TENTACLES
Breaks casts Grease on the Flying Hornbeast
The hornbeast swings dangerously loose in the air
Then we see 3 massive, bloated, floating spore-like
things with nests of tentacles and horned beaks
like flying man-o-wars
They have wrapped all of their tentacles around the beast, desperately trying to keep it from slipping away
Ithunn gets snagged by a sharp-spined tentacle
It bites Khut, who just laughs it off
Breaks tags it with a firebolt, lightning it up
and it is covered in grease, so its on FIRE
Ithunn whips out a three-section staff, wraps
it through the tentacles, and then kicks
the thing — grabbing it and kicking the crap
out of it, rather like a warbler
Khut wraps his legs around the rope, swings down
and shoots it, blowing it sideways away
Vadim blows a horn to alert Ganbaatar and co.
Squee whispers “you are not my friend” to one of the
tentacle-things holding the hornbeast, which
releases its prey and runs like hell
The other begins to sink under the weight of
the hornbeast
It drifts closer to Squee who (pointing at her
pink hair, informs it “You know bright colors
means its poisonous”
The one holding Ithunn clenches with its tentacles,
then gets a beakful of staff
Breaks burns it again, and it finally begins
to drift downward…badly wounded
Ithunn wriggles free, leaps for the rope, misses
and gets her ankle snagged in its tentacle again
Khut kicks the rope swinging, still upside down,
swings over, severs the tentacle with a knife
and grabs Ithunn trapeze-style
Vadim does a sperm-whale call with the horn,
spooking the other two and turning them bright pink
Chinua barks orders and a nohai arrow burries
itself in one of them
Squee viciously mocks the one she’d previously
whispered, and it rushes her
and bites, and get stabbed, and bites some more
Khut slides down deposits Ithunn on the ground
The nohai continue to hammer them with arrows
Ithunn tosses a torch at the one eating Squee
Khut has no sympathy for the small pink thing that
insists on calling him “cutie” and shoots the other one
The Nohai bring the one eating Squee down with
arrows anyways
The other one comes down like a jelly-fish
in a barrel
Khut runs over and bandages up the gnome
Vadim saves the hornbeast, with a healing potion,
which apparently belonged to Hulagu
who is incredibly greatful
250gp worth of supplies release to our use
Contract for 1000 warbler-fletched arrows
4 Healing Potions
Vadim extracts the venom and puts it in
a sheath for Ithunn
Breaks makes a couple of whips from the tentacles

Ma’Chek and Ganbaatar congratulate us, ask where to go
We aim for Tradestone, but discuss the best way to
get them to move…
Squee goes to talk to Altan, proposing that
Ganbaatar might give him back the herd, and that
if they can get to Tradestone they will be rich
beyond the dreams of avarice thanks to the Panic
“4-legs are assets, 2-legs are liabilities”
We book it at nightfall heading west by southwest
100 steppefolk and 40 Krokodil warblers

Outriding, Khut spots campfires due west
We flow like the night over the steppes
find a Nohai camp, proper nohai, minimal teepees
tribe at least as big as the drowned-river clan
…it’s Dust
Khut lays a false nohai scent trail as they come in
then circles and lays a herdbeast scent trail due west
Vadim and Breaks ride back to convince Ganbaatar to
avoid them, Ganbaatar decides that we should
strike Dust when they are engaged with the
Black Crows…

We travel through the night and sleep
Khut sleeps in the saddle
Ithunn rides with the young Warblers, talks about
coming from the Akilabator nest, who live
down near the jungle and nest in the trees
there is much insulting of steppefolk speech
they discuss potentially heading South
for safety instead of West
but wanting to stay ahead of the “badly hatched”
or “rehatched” (warblers who do not sing and
attack singlemindedly like crows)
Vadim sleeps in his delapidated yurt, which is stuffed
with straw, tunneled out, and filled with
warblers, and snores LOUDLY
Squee sleeps curled up on a warbeast’s nose like a cat
Breaks Like Wind is one of the few mortals able to
withstand Vadim’s snoring, and finds the Vadim
is smuggling someone who also snores and farts
a lot in their sleep

We get some sleep and head into tradestone
“Raggar One-eye” — beast-trader in tradestone, primary contact with the great trade road caravans, cosmopolitan
Tradestone has a well-armed, armored, and drilled militia
We talk anout what to steal, who to make friends with

An elf and a pink-haired gnome walk into an Orc bar…
A hefty, jowly orc with horns refers to the
drowned river clan as “thieving bastards”
Gormak — bartender
Rumors of war to the east, a shattered caravan in town
Road closed, Yaghuth confiscating everything,
Squee slaps Gormak and hugs him, for no reason
The bar gathers around as Breaks casts some illusions
and tells the tale of the army, the beast-man,
the walking dead nohai

Thin, scarred steppefolk slides in across from Ithunn
asks about “demon hunters”, Squee appears in his
lap (for no reason),
“Guun” — hunter, saw some things in the Yaghuth
rememberance, doesn’t know what a demon is, but the
thing he saw “comes pretty close” — gets real dark,
screams from far away, things reaching for you from out of the ground…yaghuth are scared…down south
yaghuth not trading, closed the gates, land is shuddering,

We find the maggotfolk outside of town to the west,
just north of the great trade road, set up bazaar
offloading exotic goods
Khut spots an old lady who is clearly the caravan master, Ithunn passes her a bag of shiny things that Squee had previously lifted from her possession

“Gray Lady”
We chat — they’ve seen a lot, Khut tells the truth, trades stories, they agree to travel “close to us” but not trust the safety of her 12 remaining kinfolk to “scruffy horsethieves”
Breaks asks if they have books…
She leads them to a fancy wagon, all the dirt falls
off of them, Breaks touches the book and finds it to be an advanced medical treatise written in
cuneiform
Breaks offers to trade “the book that matters”, she says he can “come visit” but she can’t trade the books

Breaks seizes, passes out, and when he wakes up suggests that we light a back-fire

Enormous woman, 7+ tall, head-to-toe armor, gorgon steel
blade — “Petrona” — head of the militia/army

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Session 4: Give Him the Bird

Having devastated the Empty Circle camp, we backed off and got some rest while waiting for the gorgons to get bored and either leave, or go to sleep. After about eight hours, we crept back to the camp with the hope of catching the malik necromancer alone, or at least with fewer troops to back him up.

Vadim went in first, making himself very tiny, Inside the camp he found piles of corpses—nohai, zombie, and gorgon—but nothing moving. He crept in, heading for the malik’s tent, but had to climb over a one of the corpse piles to get to it. While climbing he stepped on a dead gorgon, which exploded, shrouding the area in a mix of petrifying gorgon breath and swamp gas from the decomposition.

The rest of us followed, at which point another of the big gorgon corpses stood up, because zombie nohai were not bad enough. I quickly shot the thing, and the rapid expulsion of noxious gasses blew it backwards nearly three paces. The familiar boiled-cabbage smell of the calcifying gorgon breath hung in the air, and I determined to keep my distance.

The zomborgon charged Khadagan, but somehow managed to encircle the hermit with its great horns, rather than goring him. What followed can be boiled down to lots and lots of bashing, every hack of an axe or poke of an arrow creating another expulsion of the poisonous gas. I climbed to the top of a tent pole to get above the vapors, everyone else just coughed and pressed on.

The undead bull kept trying, and failing, to gore Khadagan. Eventually, after much hacking, Barruk took the things right, front leg clean off. As his skin started to harden from the gasses, Khadagan went berserk, grabbed the thing’s horns, and twisted it’s head free from its neck, nearly decapitating it with his bare hands. Barruk, with a swing of his axe, finished the job of taking it’s head off, cauterizing the wound in a flash of power… then froze, his victory forever captured in stone.

We looked around to make sure there were no more undead surprises, then looted the camp. I found LOTS of rope.

The malik was long gone, but his tent was there to be looted, complete with the frozen corpse of the zombie-nohai that had terrorized Sorqutani the day before. Vadim smelled fresh dirt, and found a strongbox buried in one corner. It had a surprisingly sophisticated lock, but nothing that a little prodding with an arrowhead couldn’t fix. Inside we found a stash of gold, silver, and copper horn rings, commonly worn as a status symbol (and occasionally used in trade) by malik, a pair of gems, a delicately-woven and strangely-scented silk scarf, a trio of small containers made of clear blown glass, a gold spider-web head covering, like those worn by the Yaghüth, and a blank book with the first quire torn out.

Ado dove into the collected oddities, took one whiff of the scarf, and passed out. Vadim carefully stashed the cursed piece of silk in one of the bottles (the other two being full — one with a strange, viscous liquid, the other with something that smelled like cut grass). I took the horn rings and went out and used them to decorate our statue of Barruk.

Sorq, meanwhile, looked at the book. While the first third or so of the pages had been ripped out, the first remaining page showed indentation from the author writing very heavily on the previous page. A little charcoal revealed the following (so much as I can remember from Sorq reading it aloud to us), “As with certain reptiles, external heat on the unhatched eggs of the thunderbird can produce dramatic changes … hard-boiled warbler eggs are delicious”.

Chinua pointed out to us that the Malik had shown considerable interest in the thunderbird and finding it’s nest, even going so far as to order the nohai to search for recently dead and eaten gorgons. It then became clear as mud what the malik’s plan was…something vaguely involving finding the thunderbird eggs and setting them on fire. And we had just given him a whole bunch of gorgons to use as thunderbird bait.

I did a scan of the perimeter of the camp and, sure enough, found the tracks of the malik and a quintet of nohai leading a gorgon cow and calf away in the general direction of the thunderbird nesting spire. We quickly built a travois to haul Barruk’s stoned ass with us, and let the nohai give their slain fellows in the camp a “proper burial” (they apparently like that I remembered the necessary niceties, but really it saved us from having to feed them for now).

The malik and his group had several hours on us, and we were under-supplied. We pushed as fast as we could. Along the way Sorq and I rustled up a covey of Lickens (sort of your bog-standard chicken-lizard things, kindof like warblers but less smart) for lunch. We force-marching late into the night, past the point of exhaustion, then kept going another four hours. It didn’t help that we were also hauling our petrified friend.

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As dawn was breaking, the tracks split. The malik making a bee-line for the nest, with the nohai and the gorgons peeling off to the right, presumably to draw away the mama-bird. Figuring that stopping the malik from getting the eggs was the bigger concern, we rushed after him, running as fast as we could.

Vadim ran like a wolf (as a wolf?) and booked it to the nest. The nest itself was a huge bowl made of gorgon scales, sitting at the top of a plinth made of five white-marble megaliths leaning together to form a menhir. Our malik antagonist could be seen climbing up the side of one of the pillars, his hands splayed strangely, sticking to the side of the rock with only his fingertips.

With the rest of us still a ways off, Vadim lit up the malik with faerie fire, making him glow with a greenish miasma very similar to gorgon’s breath, and painting a nice target. I drew my bow and pegged him from nearly a hundred paces away, hitting him in the arm and causing him to loose his grip on the wall. Unfortunately, the jerk called forth some dark arts to grab back onto the cliff-face with a lash of dark energy.

Vadim followed up by plastering the malik with some cabbage-smelling gorgon goop. Clearly the fake miasma and the smell had gotten mama’s attention, because then, there was lightning. Lots of it. Coming our way.

The Malik vanished in a roiling cloud of darkness that hurled up the pillar to the nest. Vadim followed, hauling himself up the side and finding that what we thought were weathered hand-holds were, in fact, bas-reliefs of some kind of winged humanoid creatures, carved into and projecting from the rock, as if this were once some kind of structure.

The rest of us ran. Trying to get there to help Vadim and stop the Malik from getting the egg as quickly as possible. And we kept running.

Using the carvings’ predictability, Vadim was able to rocket up the wall to the nest. Vadim crested the lip of the nest, with a lightning storm brewing overhead, to find the roiling black cloud in the center of the nest, a stream of smoke rising from the center of it.

Vadim rushed in, following the scent of the smoke, and tried to tackle the malik full-speed, almost running headlong into the fire. He missed the malik and jumped at the last minute, hurtling over the unseen flames. He landed hard, knocked a scale loose, and went right through the nest, just barely catching himself to hang beneath it.

The storm picked up in intensity. Then we heard, from the center of the cloud of darkness, the sound of a flute. The flute somehow mimicked what Ado informed us was a mating call—the sound of a male thunderbird threatening to smash the eggs in the nest to make room for his own brood. The bloody malik was full of all kinds of tricks.

Barruk reached the base of the menhir and struck it a thunderous blow, opening a wide crack in the pillar, while shouting disparaging epithets at the malik. Vadim, meanwhile continued to hang precariously beneath the nest, lashing at the enemy with his thorn whip while dodging the sorcerer’s blasts of eldritch power, which tore even more holes in the nest.

And then, the lightning struck. A deafening clap of thunder. A crackling vibration through the metallic nest. The smell of frying feathers and smoking fur. When our eyes re-focused after the flash, we could see the angry, mother thunderbird hovering over the nest, electricity sparkling over her wings as she recharged for another strike.

Headless of the risks, I ran up the nearest pillar following Vadim’s path up the carvings and tying off a rope for the others. Khadagan followed me up and charged into the darkness, body-checking the malik into the bonfire. Ado, riding on Khad’s shoulder, unleashed a thunder-wave, knocking over something unseen in the darkness with a metallic ringing sound, pushing the malik towards the edge of the nest, and blowing out even more of the scales.

With the malik near the edge, Vadim anchored a rope to himself, and jumped. As he cleared the edge of the nest, he thorn-whipped the malik, pulling him off the lip, and sending the necromancer plummeting a hundred chǐ to his death.

The darkness dissipated, revealing six eggs, and a roaring bonfire. One egg lay apart from the others, apparently having fallen out of a heavily carved ceremonial iron pot which was suspended over the fire by a tripod. Most of the eggs were a mottled, metallic green, but the heated egg was a perfect azure-blue in color. The mother bird landed, snuffing out the fire with her bulk, and gathered the eggs under her wings.

Barruk quickly bowed and did some amazing pantomime, clearly trying to convey that we were not the ones who made the fire and that we meant no harm to the thunderbird or her eggs. Apparently understanding his interpretive dance, the thunderbird pulled a single, shield-sized, super-bright (but non-reflective) scale from over her heart and gave it to Vadim. She then gathered up the eggs in her claws and flew off to the west.

With the bird gone, we swapped places a bit. I swung down to make sure the malik was dead, while Sorq climbed up and snagged the carved iron pot, which was obviously witchy, and its tripod.

The malik was, in fact, very dead, but Khad came down and took his head off just in case. Then Barruk cut off his intricately carved horns as a keepsake. The rest of his heavily pierced body was dismembered and fed to our nohai. On his body we found a silver bracelet, silver pitcher, and several pages that were clearly torn from the book we’d found earlier.

Vadim, who had by this time climbed back up on the top of the nest, pointed to the east and shouted something. We scrambled up to see what the fuss was about and saw fire in the distance. Fire … in the sky. Not on the ground. Not the grasslands burning. No, the motherfucking sky was on fire. Beneath them the ground seemed to move and shimmer, like heat rising off a hot rock. After a while, we realized that this was an army, more men than one could ever hope to count, wearing METAL armor. Then, breaking the clouds over the army, came one, two, three massive birds, like thunderbirds, but blazing with fire. Fire-birds. They lit up the plains, burning a path in advance of the army.

We scurried down, then noticed through the crack that Barruk had made in the pillar that it was at least partially hollow. Not wanting to leave anything unknown behind us, we widened the crack and crawled inside. From the inside it was clear that the pillars really had been structures in the past. A staircase ran up the center of the pillar, at a slant now. I went up, but was blocked by rubble after traveling about forty-feet on the slant.

Everyone else went down. At the bottom, they found a large room, filled with maggot-folk bones stacked to the ceiling. The bones were clearly ancient, moldering away into dust at the slightest breeze or touch (though that did not stop Ado from collecting the ancient dust for use as bone-meal). The bones showed no sign of intentional wounds, no cuts, gouges, or scratches, nor any signs of the corpses having been diseased. They were, however, stacked haphazardly and, in some-cases, irregularly broken, as if they had been thrown down into the room from above.

The walls showed the remains of ancient murals, faded to nothing more than outlines and vague suggestion of color. Exits leading off from the room suggested that the other four towers might connect to this one, as part of a larger structure, but were choked with rubble. Everywhere was the same winged-humanoid iconography, clearly some kind of ancient theistic witchery—the kind of things the shamans would probably smash on sight.

Unable to proceed further, we crawled out of the crack, and piled rubble around it, attempting to hide it from the prying eyes of any who might come here later. Then, completely exhausted, we slept — some on the ground, some in the hollow under the menhir, and I hanging in a hammock from the underside of the nest.

I woke near dusk to see the light of the fires in the east to be much closer. We quickly broke camp, gathering up as many loose gorgon scales as we could manage for their metal in the process. As we did this, Ado’s warbler scouts reported in, saying that they’d encountered probing parties of some kind of strange, four-legged, half-man/half-warbeast monsters, about a day’s run to the east.

Obviously, we ran west.

We booked it for the Drowned River camp. As usual I took point, picking our trail through the hills and ravines of the steppes, and picking off whatever game I could find. And find game I did. I left a bloodbath in our wake, finding food for our whole party, nohai, warblers, and all, and then some. Finally, I spotted a nice, fat pteranadon, and brought it down with a single well-placed shot.

Unfortunately, a Spikebeak saw the pteranadon as it fell and dived, hoping to steal my kill. Ado, quick to the punch as usual, did some kind of warbler mating dance, and Vadim made some calming gestures, which at least served to make the bird more interested in eating the prey than us. The vicious bird tore the heart out of the pteranadon with its long, pointed beak, then turned, bloody heart still in its mouth, and purred at Vadim. I at once named the beast “Cid”.

Ado, not wanting to lose our food to the spikebeak, cocked his head, puffed up, and darted in circles around the bird bird, demanding that it could have the organs but must give us the rest of the meat. It just took off, clutching the pteranadon in its talons. I didn’t hesitate to shoot it.

Everyone else followed suit, hurling arrows, fire, and vicious mockery the bird’s way. It dropped the carcass and dove at me. I sidestepped, then, as it passed over, shot a warbler curse arrow strait up in front of its face. It’s eyes, then head, turned upwards, tracing the path of the warbler death-cry, then overbalanced, turning it into an unintentional back-flip and nose-diving into the ground, breaking its neck.

What’s tastier than a really big bird? An even bigger bird! We grabbed the spikebeak carcass, and what was left of the pteranadon, and booked it back to camp with our piles of fresh meat.

Well stocked, and moving as fast as we could, we gained a solid day on the following army of man-beast-things. We reached Drowned River and tried to persuade the Caravan that they needed to run like hell. We split up. Vadim easily convinced Ma’Chek of the seriousness of the situation. I managed to piss of Semek (again). Ado got price-gouged on supplies by Altan. Sorq bought a non-conductive bone hilt to affix to a steel thunderbird feather from Hulagu to turn it into a dagger. Barruk made friends with Ganbaatar. Khadagan just walked into the middle of the square and roared, spouting crazy hermetic prophecies about “A tide of iron and fire” while holding aloft the thunderbird-scale shield and the head of a decapitated gorgon.

Between Khadagan’s theatrics, and Ma’Chek’s and Ganbaatar’s leadership, we soon had everyone packed up and ready to leave…more or less.

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Session 3: Pack Tactics

As told by a boy named Khut

Vadim was out rustling more cattle, presumably, the rest of us were the Tengri knows where, climbing an escarpment. At the top, of course, was a pack of Nohai, five of them, with bows trained on us. More specifically, they had their bows trained on Barruk’s left eye (he being the most obvious threat, since I was hiding in a ditch, sneaking around them, as usual, and Khadagan was…well he was there, but somehow looks less menacing than the massive malik champion).

As we approached, carefully, one of the nohai snuck up behind the one that was obviously the leader, only to get his throat grabbed in the leader’s jaws. There was some whimpering and some baring of the neck as he backed down.

Sorq, the only one of us who spoke nohai, lead the approach and bowed to them. The chief (pack-leader, whatever) bowed back, perfectly mimicing her stance and motions, clearly trying to be polite despite not understanding the greeting, and introduced himself as Chinua, formerly of Dust

Now, that last part matters, so let me explain a few things about Nohai. First off, pack membership is super important to them. Secondly, there is no such thing as a “former pack”. The pack is the pack. You belong to the pack you are in. Claiming identity with a previous pack is sacrilege, blasphemy.

So, Chinua introduces himself in a way that makes his packmates cringe, then Sorq introduced herself as “Sorqutani of No Pack” (which of course, was just as blasphemous as the chief’s statement). Sorq then asked about his ‘current pack’ (as opposed to the former, Dust), and he was of “not no pack”, “nothing”, “the empty circle”, the “void fillers” — all of which sounded disturbingly like some kind of theism. Now, the fact that these two statements didn’t cause them to throw down immediately is something of a miracle and an oddity, but nothing like what followed next.

You see, Chinua then challenged Barruk to a one-on-one match for “leadership of the pack” (the pack being us). Now, let me reiterate, it was pretty clear, even if I was only hearing things at a distance and translated second-hand by Sorq, that something really screwy was going. As Chin pulled out his spear and made his challenge, it was pretty clear that he was putting on some kind of show for his pack as much as for us. And, of course, funny thing about Malik champions…they live for single combat.

Barruk accepted, of course. He rose up from behind a big rock where he had been trying, quite unsuccessfully, to take cover. His eyes were blazing with light, his horns shone like gold, and the ground shook with every step of his big hooves. Clearly Chin thought this was just as creepy as I did, for he nearly peed himself. But, he kept a kind of fanatical gleam in his eye, snarled and charged.

Chin slammed into Barruk, but the malik held his ground, his hooves digging deep into the shale of the escarpment. The two wrestled, spear to axe, for a while, horns stabbing and jaws snapping. Finally Chin cast his spear aside, lunged, and caught Barruk’s axe handle in his jaws. The two of them went down, with Barruk hanging half-way off the cliff.

Meanwhile up on the hill-top, the surly nohai lieutenant tried to make his move, drawing a knife and indicating to the others that they should attack us. Ado, who had been rocking out on an odd little flute, tossed his instrument across the nose of the rogue nohai, producing a shrill and weird whistling noise. The lieutenant apparently thought that this was the most hilarious thing ever, as he immediately fell to the ground laughing like the cackle-beast that he so resembled.

Khadagan then stepped in and tore out the lieutenant’s throat with his tusks. The lieutenant just kept laughing and laughing through the whole thing, and, having somehow survived to bare his throat apologetically to Khadagan, shall forever after be known as “Giggles”.

I pulled out a rope, maneuvered around closer to them, and tied it off, ready to jump and grab Barruk should he fall. Instead. Chinua released the axe and snapped at Barruk again, his jaws crushing the chainlink shirt that Barruk wore and ‘accidentally’ flipped Barruk over, away from the cliff. I say ‘accidentally’ because it was a very well conceived bluff. From my close vantage it was clear that Chinua had deliberately saved the life of our curly-horned friend. Barruk then repaid the nohai’s kindness by slamming the flat of his axe-blade into his opponent’s face, dislocating Chin’s jaw with a horrendous cracking sound and knocking the nohai out.

Barruk hauled the unconscious Chinua up the hill, where the other nohai immediately recognized him as their new pack leader (with Khadagan as the obvious lieutenant pack leader, having taken out their lieutenant’s throat). So, after applying some healing, we new had five nohai in our “pack”.

While everyone else was making nice with our new pack-mates, I spotted a couple of rustles in the grass in the ravine below. Two “somethings” were coming from the general direction of the fire-starters encampment. I fired off one of the black-fletched warbler arrows, which let out a hideous death-shriek as it flew through the air, bringing everyone else running down to look. I pointed out the waves in the grass and Sorq lit it up, setting the grass on fire and revealing a quartet of nohai, looking far too wounded to be coming at us so fast (almost to the point of being dead).

Well, dead, or undead, or whatever, we had the high ground, and bows. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. Fish that got back up and kept walking whenever you shot them that is. Still, I’m a fairly good shot sometimes: nailed three of them to the ground, and nailed the hand of the last one to its forehead. This last one charged Barruk, only to lose that last hand, and its head, in the offing.

With the nohai zombies dealt with, we decided to make a strategic withdrawal, putting a few more miles of distance between ourselves and the fire camp. So we hoofed it, and I doubled back a few times to cover our tracks and spread some false ones, a right merry chase should any more zomb-nohai try to follow.

Once we were a safe distance, we pitched camp and settled in. Our new nohai packmates had taken the dead nohai with them, and, once settled, made a great feast of their slain fellows. They had some tradition about eating the dead as a show of respect and to take on their strength and speed. As a show of solidarity with our “pack”, I helped myself to some rotten nohai spleen, and suffered some horrible cramps as my reward.

The nohai were still in a pretty bad state. Ado used his magic to wake Chinua up. Then Khad made a paste from poppy pods, which he rubbed on the ex-chief’s gums to dull the pain as I popped his jawbone back into its socket. Barruk then finished by laying on hands to make the jaw set, leaving Chin’s chin looking much better. (Ha!) Sorq then took one of the beads out of her hair and wove it into Chin’s mane (which is apparently some kind of sign of victory or strength or the like among nohai…or maybe a courtship ritual, it’s hard to say).

Once we had settled in, the nohai told us about the “Void Fillers” — the mix-matched clan of nohai, zombies, and nohai zombies down in the valley. Apparently the fires were part of some grand scheme on the part of the Void Fillers, which basically amounted to ‘KILL EVERYTHING’. They start fires, then go around collecting the various refugees who may have survived the fire but were separated from their own clans. These refugees got conscripted into ‘fire camps’, like the one nearby, given the choice to either join up willingly, or get killed and turned into a zombie (and thus forced to join that way). Most of the nohai in the camp were formerly from the “Blades of Earth” pack, but Chinua and his crew were a small hunting party that got separated from their larger pack (Dust) by the fires are recruited in the manner described.

After a bit of a chat, Chinua implied that he had other things to share with his “pack leader”, Taking the hint, Khad, Ado, and I took the remaining nohai (Giggles, Fletcher, Kitty, and Hooch) and went out to see if any game had survived the fires. Barruk (as leader) and Sorq (as translator) stayed behind and discussed with Chin how we might go about divesting the nearby fire-camp of some of the other broken and conscripted packs to add to our own.

First point of business for the hunting party was to get me back on my feet, as I was still feeling very ill from eating uncooked, rotten nohai meat (note to self for the future — fuck pack solidarity). Khad found a weird-looking root that he called badberry (because it is what you should eat when you’ve had a bad berry). He cut it into small strips and said I should chew and swallow them. Which I did. After which it felt like I was dying. My throat burned, my stomach heaved, and everything I had eaten for the last three days came spewing out with the force of a geyser. Afterwards, though, I felt much better.

While I might have hoped for something easier to kill, the only meat we found was a herd of gorgons, maybe thirteen of them, including a pair of bulls. Now, hunting gorgons just because you are hungry might seem like a bad idea, but I was still a little light-headed from puking my guts out, and I there was one cow who was partly burned and half-lame who looked like she might be easy enough to pick off. That is, of course, if Khad hadn’t stumbled around making as much noise as a drunken hornbeast, and I hadn’t, in trying to coax the wounded cow away from the herd, gotten the attention of the largest of the two bulls.

Ado used his magic to mimic the cry of a thunderbird, which are known to prey on gorgons, hoping to scare the bull off. Instead of becoming frightened, though, the bull took the cry as a challenge and came running towards the sound (which is probably why there are as few gorgons as there are). Well, as I learned from cattle-rustling with Vadim, if a plan goes sour, just make up a new one. Oh, and run, definitely also run.

So, we ran, but, seeing the light of the fire-camp not more than a mile away, we decided we’d run for the camp, figuring that an angry gorgon bull would work wonders for disorienting, demoralizing, destabilizing, and decimating the camp of our enemies. Ado, Khad, and I booked it for the camp, heading down the steep shale slopes into the ravine, shouting, waving torches, and firing arrows all the way to the cliff to urge the gorgon to keep after us.

Meanwhile, Ado sent up the alarm through his warbler buddies, alerting Barruk and Sorq to the situation. Quick thinkers that they were, they figured that a herd of gorgons was better than one, and immediately ran out to where we’d been hunting and started lighting fires to frighten the rest of the herd towards the fire-camp. If there is one thing that a band of rustlers knows how to do, it is start a stampede.

So, with much running and screaming, we hit the scree. Khad went sliding down first, hitting the grasslands below running flat-out. Ado did less well with it, losing his perch on the cackle he was riding and tumbling down the slope. With the bull just on my heels, I ran out wide, tied a knot in the end of my last rope, hooked it on a jagged outcropping, and leaped. I swung across the gorgon’s path and, sure enough, he got his feet tangled on the rope and went barreling head-first down the slope (that out to make him mad). To add insult to injury, when he landed, Ado hit him with some vicious mockery.

Even the best plans have their consequences, and tripping a gorgon down a cliff was not one of my best plans. Short version, I got a good whiff of its breath on the way down. On the plus side, my hands half-froze holding onto the rope, so I didn’t follow it down.

Of course, then Sorq and Barruk came running, just ahead of a wall of fire and a herd of stampeding gorgons. Despite the limited mobility provided by my calcifying limbs, I managed to avoid getting trampled as the beasts came down the slope. The same cannot be said of Ado, still dismounted at the bottom of the slope, who was beaten to a fine bloody pulp by the gorgons’ hooves.

But, I didn’t really have time to worry about Ado, as my limbs started returning to normal just in time for the fire to hit the crest of the scree … and set fire to the rope I was hanging from. I let go the rope, pulled out my knives, and jammed them into cracks in the slate, holding on for dear life. There was fire above, and more fire and a herd crazed iron-hided cattle below. So I clung to the cliff and waited for the fires to burn out.

While I clung to the hillside, everyone else ran headlong towards the camp, gorgons on their heels. Khad, who had been in the lead the whole time, screamed and leaped, hitting the wooden fence around the camp at a full run and launching himself over the heads of the defenders, just moments before near two dozen tons of iron-scaled oxen smashed into the camp.

The gorgons raged through the camp, statues spreading like wildfire from their breath, and the actual wildfire spreading in an identical manner behind them. Khad raced through the camp, not even pausing as he passed the malik sorcerer who was standing in the center of the camp with blood-soaked horns, a bloody snout, an evil altar, and the rest of the whole evil necromancer schtik. Nor did Khad stop when that same malik nailed him with a clearly quite painful curse. He took the blast and kept running, hurling himself out the far side of the encampment, then circling around to meet up with our nohai, who were laughing uproariously as they fired arrows at stragglers trying to escape the gorgon-wrought carnage within.

Sorq, meanwhile, spotting the malik sorcerer, decided that it was a good idea to sneak into the camp, apparently with the goal of robbing his tent in the chaos. She somehow managed to make it to the tent without getting stabbed, trampled, or petrified, only to find the tent occupied by an undead nohai. She dodged the zombie’s strike, letting it knock out the tent poles instead, grabbed the nearest loose object, cut a hole in the collapsed tent, and ran for it holding … an iron teakettle (a tremendous waste of metal if ever I’d seen one).

With the fires finally moved on, I dislodged my knives and surfed down the slope, landing on my feet, and ran flat out to where I’d last seen Ado go down under the gorgon stampede. Barruk was already there, trying, unsuccessfully, to bandage the warbler’s wounds. Rather than waste any more time, I bundled Ado up tight in a sheet to at least staunch the bleeding a little, and Barruk and I ran to meet up with Khad, Chinua, and the rest of our pack.

Sorq caught up to us shortly thereafter and we all booked it. Behind us, the grass was a smoking black wasteland and the camp was a full of statues, burned and trampled tents, greenish fog, and the gorgons grazing on their food stores. Undercutting the noises of lowing gorgons and crackling fires were the enraged screams of the malik necromancer who’s day we had just ruined.

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Session 2: We Didn't Start the Fire
Bad Bull

When group of deputies and dignitaries from Black Crows showed up, Ma’chek was gearing herself up to throw the Hustler Rustlers under the Housebeast. Not for the gamete-hustlin’ and well poisoning. They were accused of rampant fire-startin’. Vadim and Sorqutani were able to convince her that there was some reasonable doubt they hadn’t started the fire that had spread and ravaged, and continued to spread. The Rustlers beat a dirty exit as Ma’chek set her dogs on them to save Drowned River’s face in front of the Black Crows. They turn out of be four cuppies that Vadim has raised by hand: Murderer, Killer, Ripper and Render.

Sorqutani guides the Rustlers directly up the wake of the burning fire. They enter a canyon, and come upon a wounded pregnant Gorgon, damaged by lightening. They heal her and Ado keeps Vadim from turning to stone while he helps her deliver a blue-green bull. Soon after leaving Sparky and his mom to bed down in the cover of the steep rock walls, the Rustlers find a herd of Gorgons, smashed on the floor of the canyon. Adu has retainer Yam send a whistle-arrow to inform the warblers in the area of the cache of metal.

The Rustlers meet a Quixotic Malik bull named Barruk, who is also investigating the fire. They continue up the plume and quickly discover that the massive fire was set in many places, graduating north.

The Rustlers encounter 5 spires of pearly rock, rising from the plane. While they are investigating it, a continent-sized Thunderbird roosts on it, feasting on Gorgon. Sorqutani finds a feather of solid steel, vibrating with static. Vadim covers the party in male Cackle gland juice and they walk out, unobserved.

They find an abandoned camp of Nohai/Malik mix tracks, and three Snakefolk try to kill them. Barruk and Sorqutani destroy them while Vadim and Adu collapse into seizures and try to make friends, respectively. Murderer is killed. Rearmed with snake poison, they follow the encampment northward, stealing a march through the night.

Adu and Vadim investigate the camp and find a witchy-looking bull Malik in charge of several Nohai zombies and many soon-to-be Nohai zombies, and return the Rustlers with intel.

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Session 1: Horndogging Hornbeasts

Dramatis Personae:

  • Vadim — Druidic Cattle-Rustler Extraordinaire
  • Khut — Vadim’s trusty Ranger sidekick
  • Ado — A warbler who warbles too much
  • Khadagan — A hermit with bigger tusks than the rest of us
  • Sorqutani — A crazy steppes-witch

Buttercup was in heat, the Black Crow tribe had the studliest bulls, the answer was simple, steal a bull. But no, Vadim had an even cleverer and sneakier answer, why steal the bull when all you need is the semen. So Vadim and Khut headed to the nearest Black Crow camp to scope out the available stock.

They arrived in early morning, set up Vadim’s cheap, ugly, worn-out tent, and started making the rounds. Then, of course, Semek’s wife, an unfortunately thin woman, came storming out of a tent, spitting, cursing, and kicking things over. Khut fell immediately in love. He, of course, added killing the woman’s husband to his mental to-do list.

Just as Khut was daydreaming about the bloody slaughter of a man he didn’t know in order to win the hand of a woman he had only seen once (which may or may not be reflective of his own mode of conception), there was a sudden ruckus in the grasses. A tribe of warblers was running through the grass, making quite the racket.

Khut saw a warbler Housebeast running around crazily, and he and Vadim slowly approached to see what was up. Vadim quickly made friends with the thing, but then all hell broke loose. Black-fletched arrows started flying out of the grass and the warblers started jumping and yammering like crazy. Then a flock of black-feathered, glassy-eyed warblers with metal claws and their beaks tied shut burst from the grass and attacked the first band. Vadim charged in with his sabre, quickly joined by a big-toothed hermit and a crazy steppes-witch who were also visiting the Black Crows. Khut, not really seeing the gravity of the situation, kept his distance, but did, slowly, ready his bow.

The black warblers swarmed over the defenders. There was much hacking and bashing from Vadim and the hermit, and blasts of fire from the witch, and the occasional, lazy arrow from Khut, but the little black bird-goblins kept coming. At some point Adu, the lead friendly-warbler, vanished, only to reappear moments later with a shriek and a blast of concussive force that flattened the prairie grasses around him.

Finally, as nearly a dozen of the creatures climbed over the hermit’s body, the witch let loose a blast of…something. Whatever it was, it was neither right nor pleasant, as the black-warblers eyes suddenly crusted up with filth, blinding them. The hermit roared and raged, shaking one creature that was clinging to his axe off, splitting it in twain, then charged and leaped headlong into a nearby cookfire. The air was filled with the horrendous smell of burned hair, burned feathers, and burned hornbeast droppings. But the battle was over.

Friendships forged in the heat of battle are the only true kind, and our heroes were no different. Once the black warblers were dispatched introductions were made, wounds were patched up, and our five disparate heroes became a party.

The black warbler bodies were looted and burned. Khut, by virtue of discretion the only one uninjured from the ordeal, offered the warbler tribe the use of his, or rather Vadim’s, tent to build their nests in for the day. The warblers and the injured laid down to rest until nightfall.

Khut, meanwhile, went off after the tentmaker’s wife. Not that he really expected to confront her, or make a pass at her, or even approach her (women were scary after all), but he was in love, so he followed her. Her trail was strewn with beautiful, perfect white feathers, which he collected, intending to use them as fletching. Then her trail just ended. Khut scanned the skies and spotted a beautiful white bird flying off towards a distant thunderstorm. He breathed the deep sigh of young unrequited love (is their any other kind) and headed back to the Black Crow camp.

When night fell, Vadim called together Khut and their new friends, Adu, Khadagon, and Surqutani, and explained their deep and desperate need for the semen of the Black Crow’s prized bulls. While Vadim and Khut, expert cattle rustlers that they were, said they would do the actual collection, the others agreed to help.

Surqutani used her chilling touch to frost over the bone flasks that would hold the collected semen, in order to keep it fresh for the journey back to Drowned Rivers. Adu and his warblers spread out, making a general ruckuss to cover the sounds of the rustlers creeping through the grass, and using their illusions to increase the general gloaming over the ground. And Khadagan walked up and started a conversation to distract the man on watch over the herd. Vadim doused Khut and himself with hornbeast urine to mask their smell.

Crawling stealthily through the grass, Vadim and Khut noticed that the guard was mounted on a truly impressive Warbeast stallion and made a bee-line for his fine stock. As they approached, another large, fine hornbeast bull, already in rut, caught their scent and started to hone in on them. Khut broke off towards the bull, while Vadim moved up to the stallion. Soon they were both crouching carefully between the legs of their quarry and started their milking.

All went well, until the warbeast shifted and stepped on Vadim’s foot. Vadim stiffled a scream, and then began working harder, quickly bringing the warbeast to climax. The hornbeast that Khut was jacking, meanwhile, spotted one of the warblers and went trotting after it. Unable to keep up with the excited beast, Khut grabbed onto its member and hung their, allowing himself to be dragged along. Soon his weight hanging their, combined with the jostling stride of the hornbeast got the job done.

Then, of course, the excited warbeast bucked, throwing the rider, who spotted Vadim. Apparently the sight of the notorious cattle rustler jerking off his mount was (with a little help from one of Adu’s spells) the funniest thing the guard had ever seen, as he burst into unstoppable paroxysms of laughter, allowing our heroes to escape.

The five of them sprinted away into the darkness, running east. They finally stopped by a spring about six miles away from the Black Crow camp, where Khut, who had not gotten a nap during the day with the others, fell down and was almost immediately asleep. Everyone else soon followed, though not without posting a watch.

During her watch, Surqutani apparently went insane and blasted her sleeping companions with the same spell that had rendered the black-warblers blind. Khadagon woke up and retaliated, but was quickly kicked down the nearby well and splashed with acid by the witch.

Just then, the thundering of horn-beast hooves could be heard, as a quartet of Black Crow thieftakers came riding after Vadim and company. Adu jumped on the still-sleeping Khut and hid them with the illusion of a bramble ticket. Vadim quickly burried his flasks of semen, figuring that he’d be less likely to be staked out to die if they did not find evidence of the crime on him.

The first thief-taker attempted to lasso Vadim and failed. The second clubbed him. The third simply grabbed him by his shirt-collar and dragged him along beside his warbeast, grinding Vadim against the walls of the canyon they rode through. All the while, Vadim yelled at them, trying to point out that the witch was their real enemy, pointing out that she was poisoning the well. Surqutani, in response, blasted Vadim with a bolt of fire, silencing him. The thief-takers rode off with their unconscious prize, not wanting to tangle with the witch and not seeing the rest of the group.

Still lying within the cover of the illusory brambles, Khut threw a dagger into Surqutani’s back. By that point Khadagon had managed to climb up the well. He grabbed the witch’s ankle and pulled her into the well with him, where he incapacitated her with a few quick punches. Once he was sure that the thief-takers were long gone, Khut tossed a rope down and hauled the hermit and the witch out of the spring.

Adu said that the witch had clearly been under the effects of the evil magic of the black warblers and said he wanted to heal her. Khut, ever cautious, held a blade to her neck as the warbler cast his spell, waiting to see if her eyes were still the strange milky-white they had been while she was attacking. When she awoke, he saw, reflected in her eyes, a scene of the steppes burning, a wall of fire sweeping from the east, and everything across the steppes lying dead.

Obviously he suggested that they should head west, which, conveniently, was the direction the thief-takers had ridden off with Vadim. He dug up Vadim’s semen flask, then said they should set off to rescue their friend…in the morning. First, he was still exhausted, so he lay back down to sleep.

The party was awakened by a horrible roaring noise. They woke up to see a wall of fire sweeping across the prairie, right towards them. They leaped to safety in the well, then, after the fire had passed, followed in its wake chasing the blaze across the blackened grasslands (because the alternative was going in the direction of whatever had caused it, which seemed like a patently bad idea).

They followed the fire and the thief-taker’s warbeast’s tracks to the west, eventually spotting a large marble bluff. Figuring that the thief-takers would have sought shelter from the fire there, Khut called a halt and waited until nightfall. The party then spread out, circling the bluff stealthily, hoping to get close enough to snatch Vadim and then get away.

The thief-takers spotted Surqutani, but not wanting to mess with the witch, simply warned her off with their bows, keeping their eyes fixed on her for signs of treachery or magic. Khut climbed up the far side of the bluff and made his way over to where he could look down on them. He saw no sign of Vadim, but did see the big warbeast stallion from the night before, with no rider this time. Unable to resist a rustler’s instincts, he grinned and leaped from the rock right onto the beast’s back and kicked it into a trot.

Vadim, meanwhile, had awoken and managed to cut through his bonds. Seeing Khut, he ran out of the cave in which he was being kept, and double-hopped up onto the warbeast’s rump, slapping it with a longstrider spell. The two thieves sped away on the fine warbeast, then circled back to pick up their three companions (not without being grazed by a couple of arrows).

Once clear of the thief-takers, and well out of arrow range, they turned the beast south, away from the fire and the thief-takers, and back towards Drowned Rivers and Buttercup, who was still waiting for her semen.

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