Amas & Oras

All the Montages.
ALL OF THEM.

Totally haven’t fixed or proofread this, fyi.

2/26
We discuss more what our plans will be. Z hopes to recruit some working under Horns so that she is not the only one who knows what to do, especially since at this point the people working on them have a more updated idea of how to use it. Hayden isn’t sure how he can help; it is suggested that he can help get things we’ll need, including a ship. Polena reminds Strelok of the people who had been trying to find their own route between continents. They are south {Cassianka? sp?}. Further, they owe the party a favor. It will also be easier than going through Ferrin.

PS, part of Strong’s plan to quarantine Oras includes a blockade to stop ships.

General call would bring people who aren’t necc useful, despite good intentions. Zephyr agrees with St’d idea of paladins and clerics; Sheila’s divine spell stopped the infection of a blight worm at its earliest stage. Zephyr also will use a sending spell to contact her school in Vuresca to try to recruit the strongest alchemists. Hayden and Strelok mention something about casing the “Stronghold”.

Hayden cases. Details are acquired. He and Strelok scheme how to steal things. After forming a rough plan, Strelok goes to talk to Polena. He asks how she’s doing. She says she’s expected this would eventually happen. He says we have the option to get back at them a bit, if she is interested. Polena doesn’t understand, and Strelok outlines all the wrongs they’ve done to her. She defends them somewhat, but not a lot. He asks for her opinion. She doesn’t know if she wants to help, but doesn’t mind if they do it. Strelok says they’d use it to help out Oras.

He then goes to Zephyr, who is a bit skeptical. Will be used for “mission”? Yes, Strelok reassures her. Zephyr says as long as they don’t get caught… Strelok says that may be a problem, as they may well notice, and would obviously suspect us. Zephyr points out that she’s already planning on stealing the weaponized crystals (even if she has Hornswaggle’s blessing, many people involved in cultivating and weaponizing crystals, some would notice…) and hoping to take some of his alchemists to aid us; even without that, she needs to linger with Hornswaggle for at least a few days, plenty of time for Strong to come after us. Strelok says they have other means of getting funds. Zephyr says she will leave it to his judgement. HIS… not Hayden, who she had to bribe to take a sobering potion so that they could discuss the fate of the world.

[Side: The bird that followed Hayden from the Forest is being more noticeable recently, interacting more. He takes crumbs from Hayden, splashes water when Hayden drinks from the well… and has even brought two gold pieces to Hayden (and some copper). Hayden raises an eyebrow and decides the bird has paid his rent. He shares his jerky with the bird. Hayden tells the bird that it is suddenly a lot less annoying. “Keep this up, and it might go somewhere.”]

Hayden asks Sheila if servants of Iomadae take certain vows. For example, is a vow of poverty part of the deal? Sheila gives away most of her earnings. Sheila says no, just a teaching that you should not take much for yourself. He continues to ask questions, wanting to leave something for Strong that may get Strong in trouble. He plans to take a medal prominent in Strong’s medal and leave something in its place. Hayden grabs parchment and quill and runs off on his own. That night, Hayden attempts to get into the building. He lurks until he sees people go in for nightly cleaning, then uses his hat of disguise along with stealth and bluff. He leaves a letter in Strong’s office, on the floor as if it had accidentally fallen and was unnoticed; people cleaning, however, will undoubtedly see it.

Meanwhile: Sheila cannot think of any paladins in particular to ask along. She plans to speak to people on the road to recruit them, either to fight for change here or go to Oras to help.

Early Morning Ceremony: Is cold. The ritual is observed by two council people, and Strong leads. Sheila is asked many questions, relating mainly to her path and its relation to Iomadae. They take her armor and give her another set: it is more muted, a dark blue-gray. The insignia is a bit different – it is simpler, and features a sword. As the ritual concludes, they wish her well. Strong looks sad. Sheila nods and takes her leave.

The party assembles and heads out. Sheila seems more terse than usual. Hayden looks up at the Stronghold and sees Strong watching them. Hayden uses his hat of disguise to take the appearance of an alter boy and winks back at Strong. Strong looks alarmed and confused.

We head towards Hornswaggle and Danuul. Zephyr uses a sending spell to contact her college. Hornswaggle’s colleagues are academic types; they offer aid in research, and similar, but they are not the sort who would come along. Zephyr asks for any adventuring types among recent graduates (or not necc recent) who she might be able to enlist. There is a montage. Polena and Zephyr go to Hornswaggle, Strelok and Hayden to Danuul. Zephyr asks Sheila to find any who might have divine magic and would come to help with healing. She suggests the church of Iomadae in Danuul; Sheila does not wish to deal with them, however; they may not look well upon her and her new path, and this path is brand new to her. Strelok says, well, she could introduce herself to some vice! Hayden adds that she might take the chance to loosen the ponytail a bit. No? Well, Strelok asks about affiliates; soldiers such as she met during her stint on the wall, for instance; healing clinics that are not religiously affiliated; etc.

NOTE: Physical confrontation DOES work against these things; just difficult. So trained soldiers WOULD be a benefit. Zephyr points out that if we are planning to send soldiers onto the battlefield, really need to get clerics, people who know divine healing. Some soldiers would know those spells. Further, the soldiers who worked with the church will know people. Zephyr gives her share of the money from Strong to Hayden and request that they buy as many divine spell wands, scrolls, etc. as they can find. Additional 10k for bag of holding… but is told they will be fine for money. Instead use for things needed for crystal cultivation. In that case, Zephyr says, just get as many bags of holding as you can.

MONTAGE
As Zephyr expected, Hornswaggle not happy about fact that all his work will be held in reserve. Agrees they should go to Oras. Gives Zephyr half a dozen prototypes. Two alchemists who work under him are willing to come. They know all about the crystals. Zephyr learns from Hornswaggle; in spare time, Polena bombards her with questions, wanting to learn. Best intentions, but stretches Zephyr’s time thin. Zephyr at times puts her with one of Hornswaggle’s underlings to learn, so that Zephyr herself can best maximize her own learning. College responds, sending a list of names of people interested in helping out. Setting up a research committee. Half a dozen willing to come with us. Zephyr requests they be sent to Hornswaggles lab immediately. They should be there within 5 days.

MOAR MONTAGE
Strelok works on getting bounties in Danuul; Hayden has scrolls of “sculpt corpse” to make it appear that certain people have been caught, and collect rewards. Danuul still up and running, but much tension and suspicion, fewer nomadic tradesmen coming through. More quiet at night, more security at the city gates. Hayden works on stealing from merchant vaults, wealthy townspeople, and other places with decent amounts of coin.

Hayden’s loot:
1,665 gold
800 gold
600 gold, ~800gold worth of jewelry

During day: shopping! And when that is not happening, Hayden tries to figure out the bird. It has taken to alighting on his shoulder. It chirps and warbles at him occasionally. It seems to pay attention to Hayden when he speaks, and may make response sounds. Hayden is able to get general feelings from the bird…. which can be irritating, because often when Hayden yells at it, it becomes gleeful. Hayden has discovered it is very fond of leftover toast crusts, and is happy for meat scraps. Berries and other fruits also are good, but are often a bit large; an apple slice proves troublesome. Hayden recommends an opposable thumb. The bird pecks him a bit, then nibbles his thumbnail. When Hayden is stealthing, it can be shooed away, but often will take it on itself to roost nearby and watch. Once during a heist, it coos softly to alert Hayden to a guard nearby.

HOORAY IT’S A MONTAGE

3/19 – I was pretty much dead after finals and cake D:
So during montages, Sheila talked with army buddies about helping.

Hayden decides to stop by his old home.

Hornswaggle has no interest in coming along.

~
Hayden and Strelok are in Danuul. VERY crowded; a tent city has been erected.

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[5/14 rough]

Recap: boat, sheila develops, planar travel disc.

Hayden and St talk about plans after this is over, if we survive. They settle on pirate kings, and then ponder how they wound up in this position. Z and Sheila wanders up from below deck, from making bombs and drinking in the galley *resp). There is small talk about boats; Hayden has been picking up some of the terminology. Sheila is surprised he is planning for after the fight, as he expressed doubt that we’d succeed; he points out that he isn’t sure we’ll succeed, but that he has a vensted interest in his own survival. Asked what she will do after, Sheila says something vague about people needing leadership. St and H suggest starting her opwn church. She could even be the new goddess, since she’ll be saving the world. Hayden [pomts out that [easants are easil;y duped; Strelok: didn’t you used to be a peasant? H: ….do I look like a peasant? They move on to the benefits of tithing, which Sh says she isn’t interested in. Sheila says she will continue to do what is right, and will continue on that path for the rest of her life. H asks what determines “right” after all this. She points out that there will always be people who need help. Hayden still is mystified by the idea of helping people selflessly. Nor does he understand he not wanting money.

Z wants to continue studying; places yet to explore, creatures yet to discover… H: things that haven’t tried to eat us yet? Haven’t tried to blow us up yet? Z points out the latter has not happened, with the exception of the thing Hayden poked with a sword. There is a disagreement on whether it was gentle nudging or stabbing.

Hayden questions having enough manpower and materials; Zephyr goes over the plan again, and Sheila reassures that Hayden may be surprised by what people can do. But then she starts talking about the light or something. While he has valid concerns, Zephyr feels many of the points have been explained before; Strelok points out to her that they have been drinking an awful lot, but she decides to go back below deck and leave people more attention worthy to explain. Sheila adds that she knows that there were a few hundred paladins who decided to stay in Oras rather than go back to Amas.

Polena meanwhile is practicing her sorcery. There are some minor explosions. Her eyebrows get considerably singed. Sheila inquires about her progress. Polena says she mostly has control, but sometimes the explosions are a bit bigger than she expected them to be. She had found a book on board that has been helpful. Sheila tells her to stay comfortable with it, and Polena says it comes naturally to her; she will try to keep it in check. Sheila reiterates that this is important. Polena cites Strelok and Zephyr’s assistance and says it will be fine.

Later, Z approaches Sheila and asks her to be the figurehead of this expedition, as she feels Sheila is already being seen in that role; more importantly, she doesn’t believe people will listen to her. Sheila agrees, and they discuss details about communications between builders, healers, fighters, and alchemists. Zephyr and the alchemists she brought will be doing the teaching of weapon launcher building, bomb creation, and crystal cultivation, but Zephyr plans to mainly fight on the wall once she has things generally set up. She explains she’d like to have all healers ready, and have the wands and scrolls she bought in Amas on hand to use. The warriors should be able to use the bombs as long-range weapons from the wall.

Later when the group convenes, more detail is arranged: Strelok will find a metalworks and people with guns or the knowledge to make them; he himself can make basic hand cannons. Hayden will aid in coordinating people, as he is chasmatic ; he comments that he is a glorified clerk, but Zephyr again says he is more a war general. Hayden is also interested in helping use hand cannons made by Strelok. Sheila will be the general leader, but will especially direct the paladins and healers.
Zephyr knows that Olavand has been completely devestated, and can assume Ardova likely is as well. The last remaining country with respectable technology/resources would likely be Erag, but they are rather focused on the furtherment of their own people. The wall should be between ardova and molavan, which are near erag.

Hayden asks if there is a military that isn’t wearing clanking armor, for stealth purposes. Sheila says there isn’t a set uniform; some will have armor, some will wear leather, etc. Hayden clarifies that he wants to know what they look like, but Zephyr inquring as to why does not bring forth an answer. Sheila says the flaming sword and a burning sun are common to most warriors. Cut and color scheme? Based more on rank; a simple, low ranking — Hayden interrupts and asks specifically about officers… he wants “to look the part”. Zephyr doesn’t quite understand this, but gives up trying quite quickly.
Strelok asks about Polena; she is currently on deck, and has been rather moody. Z says that since she learned about the weapons with Hornswaggle, she can act with the Alchemists in teaching, cultivating, developing. Strelok and Sheila are concerned about Polena (a well-timed explosion rocks the boat a bit). Strelok goes up to talk with her.

It is night, but the moon and nebula are bright enough to see by. St asks her what she is practicing. Polena says she found a book about magic, and the sailor said she could borrow it; it belongs to his daughter who goes to school in Vuresca. St offers help and his own spell book if they’d be helpful. Polena asks for his opinion on a spell she hasn’t quite mastered. She steps back a ball of light, akain to a sun, forms between her hands; she releases it and it shoots forth across the sea. Kamehameha! She says she hasn’t been able “to do it less than that…”; the ball is seen far out on the horizon. She is concerned that if she uses it as is, she will hurt someone. Showing Strelok the book, he recognizes the spell as a cold blast… but Polena’s casting did not resemble a cold blast… except that he suddenly notices a trail of ice in the wake of the energy. He tries to replicate what she did. He easily forms a small ball of the cold energy. he concentrates on making it larger; he is able to make it brighter and larger, but only to the size of a grapefruit, as opposed to Polena’s beach ball. His peters out about 200 yards away. “…That’s the smallest you can make it?” Polena gestures with her hands to show a slightly smaller one she made… He says he wasn’t holding back, and feels he couldn’t make one a third the size of hers. She repeats that she fears she’ll hurt someone. She says that when she used the water spell against the Charybdi, it was simply supposed to move the boat… but its effect was far greater. She asks Strelok to help her tone it down. He says he’ll try, but most people try to do the opposite. He has a few ideas. Polena says she feels different these days… like something inside her is different. Because using magic, or because sad losing the church family… she isn’t sure. Strelok says people can come into their power in different ways, so that may be it. She says she hopes she can be helpful, since the beasties don’t respond much to magic. St says there is more that can be done than balls of fire or ice; she asks him to teach her some of those things. Strelok agrees, suggesting, among other things, entaglement spells and divine magic. Polena decides to practice a bit more, and Strelok tells her to come find him if she needs anything.

The trip is nearly one-third complete.

St goes to talk with Z, says they may have a bigger problem. Z asks bigger than what. St says P’s power growing faster than anyone he’s ever seen; he is concerned, but trying not to let her know. Z says she can be helped at the schools after all this, but for now… damage spells won’t help much now anyway. St suggests metamagic, and asks for Z’s aid. Sheila overhears, and says we should direct her toward non-attack spells, as it would not be good to fall back on those against creatures that may actually become stronger from such attacks. Z agrees, but says Polena knows her shit. Soon they all go to bed.

The next day, Zephyr went to have her own chat. She asks Polena how she is doing. Although not used to being supportive on an emotional level, she tries her best, and her awkwardness doesn’t get in the way overly much. Polena talks about it being hard not being part of the church; also, working on magic that has in the past always been something “bad”. She also regrets not having proper teaching in the area. She feels lonely. Z tries a half hug, and Polena breaks down. Zephyr pats her continuously, trying different shoulders, the top of the head, both shoulders… but she is attentive to Polena’s sobbing the entire time, and doesn’t even mind the emotional clinging all that much. After a few minutes, Polena settles down, and apologizes. Z tells her not to; she reminds her she has friens, offers to help, offers to get her into a magic school, etc. Polena is grateful. Z says she can come talk to her anytime, and they can… just… uh… she’d not sure what people do… Polena says she knows a fun peg game; Z says that as soon as this is all over, P should teach her. P gladly agrees.

Four days pass; it is now day 10. One sailor has been lost in a storm. Polena has made a bit of progress in reining in her power; concentrating a little less hard, and being more thoughtful of time she allows it to charge, she replicates Strelok’s smaller cold blast. Hayden walks up to Polena and makes the motions as if doing the spell himself: it poofs out. “Eh, I got nothing.” Polena said she almost thought he’d do it. Like, maybe he was a secret wizard…

Hayden uses presti. to change outfits. Cleric officer….? Pirate king…? Cleric officer? Pirate king…. Zephyr wonders a bit at this bizarre behavior, but decides to ignore it.

4 more days pass; day 15. We’re down to jerky, fruit, water. People are getting restless and irritable. Strelok contemplates fishing, snd finds some fishing gear.

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A sad, lonely fish
[not cleaned up or edited yet]

We are on boat. Mother fuckers. We’ve been at sea for three weeks. The wine is getting watered down. Hayden wakes to a warm tingly sensation around his mouth… he awakes to see Strelok pumping something into his mouth from a small barrel. It is sweet. “The fuck?” Strelok giggles.
He then takes the keg hose for himself and pumps the top of the keg wildly. He reveals that he took the stuff they found in the Forest and mixed it with booze. He is wearing only his belt, cloak, and sword. He cackles and runs out of the cabin. Hayden sighs. Strelok may have been at sea too long.

Hayden goes up to the deck, where he meets Sheila. It is very early, and few ship hands are on deck. There is loud snoring from below. Sheila begins doing bare-hand forms. Strelok is trying to get to the crows’ nest. He has only made it about three feet up. Sheila asks if he’s slept; Strelok apparently doesn’t need sleep, and recommends “the stuff!” (blue goo + strong booze from abandoned village) Hayden says it is quite strong, and asks if anyone else hears humming. Strelok asks why he was climbing… there was something important, but he forgot… Sheila suggests he come back down, and he does somewhat reluctantly. He goes over to Sheila and slings an arm around her. He still is wearing little other than munitions. Upon Sheila’s inquiry, he says he has never been better.

Hayden decides to go up to the crow’s nest. He sees no land. He sighs and remarks that it is taking far too long, and that this is a tiny boat. Bored….

The days are long and stressful, and all are relieved to finally see land. We ’d expected to see the port city. Instead, there is lots of debris in the water; entire docks ripped from their places, skeletal remains of great trading ships. We wonder if the lumber was needed to burn bodies. Suddenly there is a thundering screech echoing – Strelok drops to the deck and screams. Zephyr has read about the larger beasts roaring to warn off potential rivals; how large, the book did not say. As she finishes telling everyone this, two answering screeches are heard. Hayden: “Well, sounds like something that needs us to go kill it.”

Later that day, a sailor calls to say he’s spotted actual land… which is about 30 miles out from shore. We discuss our plans – land somewhere open where there are not hiding places where things can jump us as we disembark. We’ll land as close to the wall as possible. We will, if need be, fight our way to the wall. We are overheard by a shiphand, and told we aren’t landing anywhere near here… we’re going are the wall. This is not the safe side. Reports say the wall does indeed stretch to the coast. Hayden is pleased by this news, and asks how long. He is displeased when told it will be another 4-5 days. He hopes we will not encounter what we heard before; we know the small ones seem not to like water, but we don’t know about the larger ones.

The next morning, we wake to cries and exclamations from above deck. We go up and see a gathering of shipmates on the port side of the ship. Then we hear another screech… much closer and louder. Zephyr pushes her way through and sees one of the plague beasts in the water. It looks like [insert description here. Include: very tall; almost like combining an Alien™ with a baboon. kinda insectoid, kinda armor plated, but shorter rear legs and longer arms. As they grow out of the human host, the human skin sometimes doesn’t fall off all the way, giving the appearance of being worn as a loin cloth.] It is 35 feet tall, perhaps half as long. This one is walking through the shallows, towards the port city – not towards us. The possibility of testing the weapons comes up, but it is likely too far away (about half a mile). We hear another roar, and see a smaller movement before it; borrowing a sailor’s spy glass, we see it is chasing a smaller one. It will absorb it and get bigger. Strelok says he can kill it. He still seems a bit unstable… perhaps not just from the drinking, but also a seeming change in his mood over the past few weeks. We decide not to break our course, and as we sail off, we watch the larger crush the smaller before gathering it to its mouth. Strelok asks if under the arm might be a good place to attack, a weak spot; Zephyr is unsure, as there was no information about the creature anatomy at this late a stage that would reveal weak points. Hayden looks down at his sword, then at the giant creature, and sighs. “This isn’t going to end well.” Strelok reminds him that he has offered before to teach him about firearms. Hayden agrees. Strelok hands him a gun. Hayden looks at it a bit, “Sooo…” Strelok says, “point it at things you don’t like and pull the trigger! Preferably not things that are the hull of the ship.” Hayden tries shooting it at the water, and is a bit surprised by the recoil. A sad, lonely fish floats to the surface. Hayden’s ears hurt. He tries again… and kills another poor fish. Strelok adjusts his aim a bit. He leaves Hayden to practice. Many seabirds die that day. The TerrorBird down in the hold begins to get restless from the sounds of bird death.

Later, Hayden asks how the bullets so small are supposed to hurt something so big. Strelok advises him to “fire enough of them”.

A few days later, we pass the wall. By then we have seen more of the creatures, at least three of which were larger than the first we saw; one perhaps 50ft, another about 60. Some have swollen abdomens. Finally we see the wall, which does indeed extend out into the sea. The wall here is unmanned. There is no evidence that the creatures have gone far out enough to sea to get around the wall. We go to shore in a small dinghy, and need a few trips to get all the equipment. Hayden strikes a dramatic pose in the bow of the dinghy. Suddenly, in a spire in the wall, a man appears. He asks what our business is. Strelok waxes eloquent about bringing hope… and deat— Zephyr pushes him into the water. We tell him we have brought weapons, despite there not being many of us. He tells us to go see Niam, and gives us directions. Zephyr fishes a struggling Strelok out of the water. He complains about the taste of salt water. Between our wagon and dozens of bags of holding that Zephyr purchased, we can get everything along.

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Business idea: slime mold condems: can shape to your specifications and vibrate for your pleasure!
[not cleaned up or edited yet]

So, we landed. We are traveling to the “headquarters” farther inland, accompanied by the sentry we met (Bobriguez). His compatriat, a large beared man named Jennifer, stays behind to man their post. The wall is largely unmanned. We walk for about 2 hours without seeing a soul. The wall is intact, despite the lack of guards. Z theorizes that they large worms, the ones capable of breaching the wall on their own, would be concerned at this point with consuming other worms, smaller one. Hayden remarks on the lameness of this apocolypse. As if in response, a large worm in the distance turns in our direction. Bobriguez (giggle giggle giggle) sees it and turns pale. He runs, wordless, to the nearest of the guard towers that are present her and there along the wall. He leaps out the window. We stare for a moment. He reappears atop the guard house and strikes a flint, sparking a fire. It is a signal, and soon we. see a single fire spring up in the distance. He calls to us: we must hurry. Z gets out the catapult. Strelok takes out 50 gold and bets he kills the thing. Zephyr takes the gold immediately and lifts up a hand-held catapult.

The creatures is rather far away. It is about the size of the one we saw in the shallow waters. Since it is so far away, we keep moving, although Z is disappointed at the delay in testing the weaponized crystals. We “scuttle”. We arrive at what counts as a “headquarters” in about 30 minutes. It is a shanty town. There is a post about three times the width and twice the height of the guard posts we have seen thus far. STheila asks who is in charge; Bobriguez says it is Niam. Niam Leeson. Zephyr grabs her alchemists, Polena, and a few of the mercenaries she taught on the voyage, and heads towards the highest point in the tower. Sheila meanwhile sets out to find the defensive details. Z is lead to the guard house and pointed out the window; there are rungs leading up higher. It is a long way down. Z levitates the weaponry and climbs up.

Niam assembles the defenders, who are a ragtag bunch. He himself is scruffy, mid 30s, wearing pieced together armor from military and paladin sources, plus some obviously home-made. He looks tired. Niam asks who we are; Bob tells him we’re reinforcements from Amas. Booms are heard from up top as Zephyr tests out the weapons. The giant creature was distracted by a smaller worm, and then wandered off; however, there are smaller worms to test weapons on. Niam asks Bob if he saw what made the Monster stop, as it had been on a collision course, and Strelok explains. Niam is introduced briefly to the main party. (Kaboom!) Niam is glad to see us; we double their numbers. However, Niam advices we go home… it is only a matter of time before a large one simply steps over. Screeches interrupt the conversation— Zephyr is having some success on the roof. Some happy cackling trickles down from above.

Outside, small ones have also gathered. Hayden tests out the fire-arm he got from Strelok. He manages to drop a small one (about 12 feet). Niam remarks that it is a better weapon than any they have; Strelok says, “What until you meet Betty!” He goes into Jake’s saddle bag and pulls out a case. He begins assembling a long rifle.

Hayden asks about the supply situation. He is told there is a nearby village in Molavum that gives some support. Strelok reassures Niam that he’ll like us (arrogantly, and calling him “Gene”. Niam thanks him in a flat tone, calling him “Frank”. Strelok doesn’t notice.) Niam says their plan is to lure as many of them into a trap as possible, and take them out. Sheila asks what kind of trap. Niam says that the ones 12-ft high or so seem intent on infecting other people still; once they get 18 or so feet, they start being more interested in eating other worms. So they were going to lure small ones, and use those to lure large ones. Strelok offers to be bait. Niam thanks him. “You’re a good man, Frank.” Niam also approves of Zephyr, who has dropped 5 or 6 at this point. Niam asks Strelok to explain “firearms”, which Niam has heard of but never seen in person. Strelok demonstrates; he has brought many extra weapons to pass out to anyone able and willing. He demosntrates using an elephant gun, and drops another worm, in a squishy and bloody manner. The weapons Strelok brought are all magically reloading. St warns they won’t do jack shit against the big ones; Niam says there isn’t jack shit to be done. Sheila points up, and says that’s why we brought “this one”. Introductions continue.

So, this is the stronghold remaining — about fifteen men. Maybe some paladins. Zephyr’s concept of refugees/survivors against the safe side of the wall that can be recruited was way off, as was the idea of a force (weak, but quite a bit larger) fighting off a near continuous wave of plague worms.

TIMELINE, lifecycle
>tiny worm
>infects human host
>"percolate" for a month or so
>burst forth; approx human size for a week or two
>grow beyond their human-body shell
>Focus on infection of humans for a time; midstage; reproduction
>Grow to about 15 feet through growth cycle and by feeding on humans, any other living thing
>Appetites change, begin to eat one another; compelled to consume one another, grow larger

Zephyr eventually comes looking for the rest of the group and is told of the plan to lure and attack. She has no immediate input, since her information and the planning based on such was off. She says she’ll need to rethink the plan; for the first time, Hayden seems to think that there IS a plan. Rather discouraged, she retires to go over the information she has and contemplate what would be most useful at this point. Sheila has the urge to rally those who deserted, but it is likely they are long, long gone. Even those in the nearby town fled, leaving some supplies for the soldiers that stayed. She tries to improve morale for those who stayed; Strelok goes to the rough to do some shooting; Hayden socializes, brags about his exploits, and talks with Niam about the plan. The plan Niam had culminated in pummeling the largest ones with big rocks; with the new weapons, it has been upgraded somewhat.

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The End
Not edited or fixed up.

Strelok volunteers as bait. Bombs are put on hold because dying to friendly fire sucks. He goes into the cage built outside the wall. All the small ones are already dead, and the big ones aren’t interested.

Meanwhile, Hayden notices that Polena has been strangely silent. She looks a bit pale and dizzy. He asks her how she is, and she says she doesn’t feel well; she hasn’t eaten since the ship, and doesn’t have an appetite. She feels like there are too many things in her head. Hayden calls over Sheila, who determines Polena is a bit feverish, but finds nothing else wrong. Healing helps a little. Polena says she is fine; Sheila orders P to let her know if she feels worse again.

Strelok ventured from the cage a bit and is drawing some attraction; about half a dozen smaller creatures have begun to advance in a slow, plodding manner. He hobbles a few with bullets to knees. He returns to the wall at a reasonable pace. As he approaches, Polena suddenly worsens. “I feel so many things in my head… I feel like I’m possessed!” Sheila searches for such, and finds some evil power has taken hold of her. Hayden asks if she had contact with any of them; she had never even seen them before, being below deck when we saw one from the ship. She’s been with us the entire time. When Sheila tries to infuse some holy energy into her, her eyes roll back into her head; Sheila releases her.

Strelock, about 1/4 mile out now… and those of us on the wall see that rather than chasing him, the small ones approaching are moving WITH him, towards the wall. Hayden points and asks Sheila “what did you do?” Sheila asks Z about book mentions of airborne or posession… no. Hayden asks if there are any other catalysts for the Monster forming; no, just eat each other, like Russian nesting dolls. Strelok is maybe 1000ft from the wall, creatures a bit behind. Sheila tries another Lay On Hands. No seizure things this time, and after, she looks almost normal. When positive energy is channeled, however, her eyes are open, and are solid white. “I can feel them coming.” Sheila asks if the creatures are attracted to Polena; Polena isn’t sure. “It’s like they’re in my head.” When the channel is over, her eyes go back to normal, and the creatures begin to move faster. Sheila asks how many Polena feels… hundreds. We turn to the horizon, and see at least two dozen more coming… much larger. Hayden yells for Strelok to get back, and he books it. Hayden asks P what they want; they have no desire. What’s calling them towards us? “It might be me.” She closes her eyes and furrows her brow. She says “stop”… and they all freeze. Hayden stares. “Next try ‘explode’… no? Just a thought. Zephyr, catapaults??” P sinks down the wall as if greatly fatigued. Sheila takes care of her as best she can, Zephyr readies the alchemists and others capable of firing the catapaults, Strelok barely makes it back before four of the six (2 dead from bullets and Z) near Strelok crash into the wall below Polena’s feet. They try to scale the wall. Zephyr ponders the affect upon Polena… “son of a bitch. It might be Faramil.” Polena says they will destroy everything. They want to destroy everything. They have intent now. P still doesn’t know why they are drawn to her. Meanwhile, another creature has dropped thanks to the bombs.

We carry Polena along the wall towards the cage. Bird-friend dive bombs the creatures a few times, making scolding noises. It is sometimes distracted by the flying empty catriges, which it gleefully tries to catch. Polena insists on walking herself. She slowly sits when they reach the part of the wall with the cage. She closes her eyes, concentrating; slowly the creatures begin to calm. Not stopping, but more calm. We decide to keep them as per the original plan, to be bait for the larger ones, rather than pick them off. After a few moments, Polena whispers, “go”. As if on puppet strings, the creatures turn and start to plod away. Now that she has time to concentrate on the matter, Zephyr ponders. She concludes that Faramil in his physical form was destroyed, but it is possible a metaphysical form was spread across the lands in the explosion. It was diluted. Perhaps no one with the proper blood or powers was ever close enough to bring the power to bear. But Polena can control the creatures, which only Faramil has been able to do. Not even the cultists were able. Hayden asks about how we can use this, and Z points out that P’s abilities seem limited and she is obviously struggling and suffering. P asks Sheila for more healing, which she is given. Polena is getting a handle on directing the healing energy, so that it heals her and harms only the alien entity. Sheila says she will stay with Polena to keep her stabilized; Hayden offers her his stock of potions that have the same effect as Lay On Hands.

Strelok says he thinks this is a potentially terrible idea. Using these powers could make things worse. He suggests getting her as far away from them as possible. Hayden asks what that would gain us; Strelok is thinking more of Polena than the group and humanity in general. Strelok orders people to help her as they can and storms off.

The night passes. Polena has kept the small creatures subdued and a short distance off, but is obviously exhausted by dawn. The larger creatures are only 2 miles out at this point, and we can see them fairly clearly through spyglass or whatnot. They are not converging independently, but fighting amongst themselves. Just after dawn there is a massive clash between two kaijuu sized ones. Niam and Hayden bet on the winner. Polena whispers, “yes”, and seems to visibly relax. “I have figured out how to do it.” Sheila asks, figure out what? “How to make them do what I want.” She told them to fight, to destroy each other rather than everything else. She redirected their overwhelming need to destroy. Sheila tells her to rest, and Polena quickly falls asleep. Looking over, Sheila sees that they are continuing to fight. One soon tears the others leg off. Niam turns to Hayden. “Sure you don’t want to make that a gold?”

The fighting between the two seems markedly different from the eating behavior seen before; there is ripping without chomping. Hayden soon forfeits a silver piece. The victor suddenly starts gnawing on itself. It screeches loudly. It then severs the tendons on one of its arms. Shiela tells the group that Polena is to thank for that, and everyone is duly impressed. The others in the two dozen, however, do feed on the remains.

Strelok is awake and drinking. “Of course, my girlfriend is a scion of some great evil.”

The larger creatures seem to have forgotten about the little guys. There are a few more clashes, which attracts more of them. It is early afternoon when Zephyr finally throws a bomb at one of the little ones, causing it to shriek. The sound gets the attention of the larger creatures in the distance; easy prey has been spotted! In half an hour, the larger creatures are less than a mile away… and we see that they dwarf the wall. Shit. 15 minutes and they are about a half mile away. Sheila tries to gently wake Polena… we need all the help we can get. Polena’s eyes open white, and she gasps. Her irises soon reappear. “I don’t know if I have enough time.” She concentrates. After a few minutes, the creatures begin to slow down one by one, some coming to a halt. Suddenly, one spins, and screeches at its… companions? frenemies? fellow creatures… and it heads towards the stopped creatures. There is a clash between the creatures, and the explosive crystals continue to be fired.

The battle rages for several hours, as more and more of the several dozen seen converge on the clash. Some clashes have erupted further along the wall, and at times creatures smashed through the wall while wrestling. Zephyr is running low on crystals. Several have been taken down, and Polena has kept them from eating each other or the bodies; but Polena and Sheila have almost been swept from the wall several times. We need to move. But as Sheila tries to move Polena, she lifts her hand, saying she is so close… the last six or so converge, about a half mile from the wall. Polena opens her eyes, stands up, and says that it is more difficult the farther away they are… but she thinks she has figured out how to do it. She has to go to Ardova, call them all to her, and will them all to destroy themselves… because she can’t reach them all from here. Hayden asks what happens to her… “I save the world”. Sheila says she is going, to keep her stable. Zephyr is going to incinerate bodies so that if Polena loses control, there isn’t a feast that gives easy access to Monsterhood. Hayden asks his Bird Friend if he thinks it is worth it. Bird gives him a FUCK NO squawk. Hayden points out that if it works, they will have saved the world… think of all the shineys! The bird cocks his head, and alights on Hayden’s shoulder. Strelok once again suggests leaving.
H: Did your father run from the greatest hunt in history?
S: yes.
H: And you want to be like him?
S: …this is was going to end badly for me either way, wasn’t it?
Strelok says he will stick with us for as long as he can.

Polena suggest we leave at daybreak. Z starts burning. Niam and two other guardsmen are coming with us, as are two of the alchemists. Strelok uses dimension door to get the carriage down from the wall, so that the alchemists can be preparing more weaponized crystals as we travel. We have the two birds and some warhorses. We travel for several days and encounter many creatures. Polena gains more strength daily; Z and the alchemists have perfected the crystal assembly lines, smooth flowing, and have identified weak spots on the creatures; Sheila has needed to use fewer and fewer spells and potions to stabilize Polena; Strelok is having a grand old time fucking shit up, killing stuff, and bitching. Strelok’s also been collecting teeth. They are large, chitinous, and yadda yadda. Hayden has been improving his firearm abilities, and is delighted that he can kill things from a distance with no bloodstains on his clothes. We travel for six weeks. We lose one alchemist and the two guardsmen along the way. At the end of the six weeks, Polena says she can’t feel it anymore… her aura has extinguished the evil one, and the creatures are no more.

We return triumphant. Sheila is accepted back into the order, but “fuck that”. She shoves the victory in Strong’s face a bit.

Strelok returns to his cabin to find his brother there waited. And he makes a HILARIOUS FACE OMG. He shoots his brother in the shoulder. There is also some kicking. It is a wonderful family reunion.

Hayden goes to Danuul and sees Marcus. He greats Hayden, says he went back to where they grew up; “he’s not there anymore. Did you have something to do with that?” Hayden is vague, then offers him a partnership conning banks. Hayden also gives his thrush a nest of gold and jewels. The bird finds a lady thrush. They have cute thrush babies.

Polena is welcomed to the most prestigious academy in Vuresca. Zephyr is offered a teaching job, but she rejects it… hey, how about field research? (Zephyr runs off into the wilderness, funded by the college).

Deep in Olvan, someone is plotting, but what the fuck ever. Later.

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