Bothess accepts Gimyip's suggestion, and she and Gimyip head into Jaftgong to resupply the party. The rest of you watch their receding backs for a moment, visions of fresh food and cool ale going through your minds perhaps, and the group sets off to the appointed meeting place south of town. You encounter various merchant trains and travelers, but the trip is relatively trouble free.
You make camp south of town and, as of evening time, Bothess and Gimyip have yet to return. Casal mentions that evening is probably the best time to recruit mercs, and you shouldn't expect them before morning. You man the pickets, though you expect little trouble this close to Jaftgong, and turn in for the night.
Prigruin's Tor is of little note to most folks. More than a few recall a huge battle fought there a few years back. This is, of course, of little help to your party since Bothess knows more of this battle than your average man (or woman) on the streets.
One green fellow opines, "None of us chaps goes there after sundown." When pressed, he merely repeats the above and hurries off.
Another townie, this one a green woman, states that Lont the witch was in town asking about your expedition to the monastery. She doesn't know why.
A short while after sunrise, Bothess returns with a troop of 8 blue men. All have (apparently) painstakingly removed all body hair, and all look as if they have seen more than one battle. Besides well-used leather battle harnesses, all carry swords and energy pistols ... three have grenades on their battle harnesses and one sports a nasty looking sniper rifle. At a word from Gimyip, the blue man group splits in half; four take positions at the head of the column, four at the back.
And with that, the final (?) leg of your quest begins. You're on your way to Prigruin's Tor and the liberation of Obregon's soul ...
Casal overhears Gimyip talking about Lont the witch. She grunts, spits, then growls, "She's harmless, guv'nuh. Won't even swat a mosquito." You do believe that is the most words you've ever heard her utter at one time.
I use the Carcosan witch NPC, she basically an herbalist and alchemist. She brews some things that are similar to low powered D&D magic potions, but they are entirely "natural" and non-magical in nature.
Casal's has become the informal leader of the men-at-arms. As she leads your group over a low rise she raises a hand in an unmistakable command to "stop".
You crane your necks to see what she sees, and see a line of giant jungle ants, several hundred of them. These monstrosities have all come a halt and are looking in your direction, the nears of them are about 80 yards away.
As you take all this in, the jungle ants turn as one and charge you! At the same time, the blue men instantly draw and bring their energy pistols to bear. Casals looks to you, "Orders?" she asks.
Post by waysoftheearth on Dec 31, 2009 17:32:51 GMT -6
Gimyip surveys the scene quickly. Hundreds of giant ants at 80 yards, and closing fast.
OOC:: How many hundreds? How big is "giant"? How many rounds before they are all over us? This looks like it will cost a lot of ammunition even if we can win... are there any realistic retreat options?
Giant ants are 2' long and aggressive, these particular ants are a dark reddish-brown. While they aren't slow, they are slower than your party. This coupled with the distance between you, should allow a strategic withdrawal.
As far as the number, you're (understandably) in a bit of hurry and aren't sure; but it seems there are more than 200 but less than 500. If the hive is nearby (you see no sign of it), there are potentially a thousand or more.
Your group of doughty adventurers falls back, weapons bearing on the advancing enemy. The hordes of chittering ants follow you, but you manage to slowly increase the distance between you.
After about 10 minutes of retreat, the pursuing ants stop in place and look around, antennae "sniffing" the air in confusion. After a moment, a wave of similarly size amber colored ants come pouring over a low hill to the right and attack the red ants. The battle is on! You're aghast at the savagery of the battle but you don't hang around to watch too long, you take advantage of the interruption of your pursuit and quickly move out of the area.
The day is getting on. Bothess has been increasingly agitated as the day progresses, asking several times to see the Lotus and looking at the sky in great concern.
As twilight deepens, she states the Tor is about an hour away. Since the ritual must take place at night, she suggests pushing onward. Casal's counters that the mercs are complaining about being tired and hungry, she wants to make camp for the night.
Gimyip quickly locates a relatively clear, and easily defensible, spot. The mercs quickly fan out and assume guard positions around the clearing (more of a flat, rockless spot than a "clearing") and keep a watchful eye while you cook your dinner.
Bothess is obviously nervous and wanting to continue onward with all due dispatch, but soon relaxes and joins the banter around the cooking fire.
As you prepare to eat, Casals comes over to your gathering. Taking out her wineskin, she pours a generous serving onto the ground. "To Sergeant Kelz. He was a mean old bastard, and he died game." Without another word, she returns to her post ... was that a tear she flicked out of her eye?
No way, you decide, that red woman was carved from stone. It must have a trick of the imagination.
The meal is eaten, the pack animals fed, the guards similarly fed and rested.
((this is your last chance before the ritual ... any special precautions or preparations?))
Gimyip gives his armor and equipment a quick check with the ease of an old campaigner. Stepping away from the campfire for a quick look at the lay of the land, he sees Bothess standing, looking out over the landscape. Without looking at him, she speaks,
"It's over that way. If it were daylight you could make it right over there." She points, but though the moonlit night affords reasonable visibility, you see nothing.
Bothess shrugs this revelation, "There isn't much to see. Not from this distance, anyway."
Casals reports to you and informs you the rest of the group is ready and, with no further delay, you set out for Prigruin's Tor. It is a low, rocky hill, with a large flat area at the top. There is a lot of evidence of the battle fought here a few years back. Shell craters and destroyed equipment litter the battlefield, while up ahead there is a ring of worn, weathered rock. In the center of the ring is flat rock about the size of a dinner table ... you've arrived at the site of the ritual.
Bothess tells you she must enter the circle with the Lotus, and requests it be returned to her at this time. You have about 5 minutes to position yourselves before she beings the ritual.
Lay of the land: you are on weathered hilltop. With the exception of the rock formation, the hill is clear and covered with low grass. The surrounding terrain is dotted with scrub vegetation and moderately rocky. To the north about half mile or so is a copse of trees.
Post by waysoftheearth on Jan 7, 2010 23:32:39 GMT -6
Gimyip orders the mercs to each find themselves a nice piece of cover within 20 yards or so of the ritual circle, but spaced out from one another so that the whole party fans out in a semi-circle on one side of the Tor (i.e, we won't be shooting each other in any crossfire).
Then he finds himself a similar nest (a depression behind an outcrop of stone if there is such a thing -- otherwise, a thicket of nearby shrub will have to do) and positions himself as much out of view as he can. He pulls down his blast-visor and waits for the show to start...
The moon has climbed high in the night sky as you and your troops array themselves around the tor. Bothess tries to tell you there is no danger, but none of you can shake the feeling of trouble.
Gimyip finds a low rock south of the tor, providing decent cover. Following his orders, Casals deploys the mercenaries in wide arcs to the east and west. Casals herself takes a position to Gimyip's right, an insolent grin on her face indicating insouciance.
Yashub-Yahad drinks a sip of cool water, feeling a mild surge of adrenaline at some portent of evil. "Sorcerers!" he mutters to himself. "Even when the don't mean to be trouble, they are." He hawks and spits, then checks the energy charge on his rifle. Their will be wet-work tonight, of that he is sure.
The rest of the party ranges in an arc behind the mercs, and hunkers down as Bothess approaches the central rock in the tor atop the hill. Sounds goes kind of "flat" (that's the only way you can think to describe it) and an eerie and rather sickly jale glow fills the air.
The jale light flares brightly, revealing a profound absence of ... well, of anything ... at the core of the light.
"It's working!" Bothess shouts. "Obregon's soul is being released from torture! He will finally be at peace! He will finally ..."
Her voice cuts off as a tall red man steps through the eldritch gate. His expression is not one of gratitude and his demeanor is most assuredly not friendly.
"Obregon? What ... why ... how?" Bothess is clearly taken aback by this turn of events.
Obregon is clad in ornate plate mail, covered with various eldritch and occult symbols. A decorative bastard sword with a dull black anti-glow around is clutched in his right hand, and a snub-nosed blaster pistol is in his left hand. He indicates, with a sweeping motion of the blaster, you and your party.
"Who are they?" he demands. "And what are they doing here?"
"They are friends, Obregon. Allies. It is they who made your release possible. How are you here? When your shade appeared to me you told me you were dead."
"You always were a lackwit, Bothess. Kill them all, then take your place at my side as I use the rituals I learned during my otherworld imprisonment to release the elder ones and rule this world!"
"No!" she replies with no hesitation.
Obregon looks back over his shoulder, at someone or something you cannot see from your position, and issues an order to "destroy them all, starting with her" as he points at Bothess. Then he leaps into the air and flies away to the north!
You open fire, but none of the shots appear to hit their target. You Bothess' shout of warning and something big and ugly begins to exit the eldritch gate.
Bothess retreats to your position. " An elder being is coming through the gate," she tells you as tears run down from her human eye. "He betrayed me!" she says in wonder. "He used me." Anger begins to replace hurt. "We need to chase him down and destroy him like bronar he is!"
At that moment a huge creature steps out of the gate and advances toward you. It is an 8' tall deformed humanoid composed of swamp muck and rotting weeds.
Berist will fire his laser pistol at the shambler as he runs: his goal is to circle around and see what Obregon was pointing at. He's also intensely curious about whether the gate will stay open, and wants to approach near enough to dash through it if it seems about to close (but not so close that he'll be torn apart).
OOC: work pressure bad as always until the 12th but this is exciting enough to draw me back in, dammit!
I blog at The Mule Abides, always welcome new players in NYC at New York Red Box, and am one of the designers of Adventurer Conqueror King -
Yashub-Yahad throws a sticky bomb at the monster, successfully hitting it. Unfortunately, the creature rips the webs asides without slowing.
Gozer brings his rifle to bear and fires, hitting the beast. That, at least, seems to have had the desired effect. The creature roars in pain but continues advancing.
Gimyip also gets a shot off at the beast, hitting it cleanly between the eyes. That magnificent shot actually staggers the creature, but it shakes the blow off and continues its charge.
Berist squeezes off a shot with his laser pistol as he circles around behind the gate. He hits the monster in the right shoulder, but the bolt of energy doesn't seem to do much damage. Berist quickly determines the opening in the gate is shrinking. Nothing else seems to be coming through, he has 1 (perhaps 2) combat rounds to dash through the gate if he wishes.
E'ssej Iu draws his electro-mace and prepares to meet the beast's charge. His expression is grim and determined.
Mickeck draws both his vibro-blade and pistol, firing the latter. He hits the beast square in the chest.
The mercs waver a bit when this hellish creature appeared, but stalwart Casals rallies them with a barrage of curses and orders, and they get off a round of shots with their energy pistols. Three strike their target. Casals, who has appropriated one of the x-ray laser rifles the party found in the monastery, squeezes off a shot; hitting the monster in the leg.
Then, the horrible creature is among you! It attacks Gimyip, seeing him as the biggest threat. Gimyip is prepared for the creature's rush and deftly avoids the swing of its stinking claws.
Your party has again won initiative. The monster is in melee with all of you except Berist, who is on the other side of the eldritch gate from the rest of you.