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.
>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.