Light PRIMAL

Chapter 4. The Hunt

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  • Last time, the party captured Ry-gad, one of Zin-Guna’s warriors. Ry-gad told them she could help them find Zin-Guna. The problem is, Zin-Guna wears a belt that makes her disappear into the brush as if invisible, but Ry-gad knew how to overcome it: they must hunt a cyborg megafauna called a “scannersaur.” Once killed, one may harvest a special unit from it that allows one to detect the heat signatures of living beings.
  • The scannersaur is not a particularly large megafauna, but it keeps company with enormous diplodoci, warning them of danger while relying on them for protection.
  • The party managed to locate a herd of diplodoci with a couple of scannersaurs, and captured one by using a Gridcast to open a pit beneath its feet. Meanwhile, they used the swooping pteranadons to herd the rest of the megafauna away from it. At that point, it was just a matter of hitting it with arrows till the unlucky scannersaur gave up the ghost. Ry-gad then harvested the unit and showed the others how to use it.
  • Once they’d gained this unit from Ry-gad, the Hominids turned on her and attempted to cut her hamstrings. Amblys came to her rescue, though, and she escaped in the volley of words launched between them.
  • Next, the party attempted to find Zin-Guna. Scraeeaczck was pretty sure he caught a likely trail, but Klag was dead certain she lied in a different direction. His evidence? An omen of flying creatures against the morning sun. Bolstered with profound faith in such portents, he and Klag sparred with the Saurians Amblys and Scraeeaczck about which way to go, ultimately invoking the Proving Rock. This was a jagged amethyst they traditionally use in their village to test the truth of claims by a kind of self-lacerating ordeal. Klag made a powerful display of self-harm, while no one else was touched in the head enough to even try. Finally, they all decided to go along in the direction indicated by Klag’s omen, if only to appease the hominids. Of course the trail went cold, which was summarily blamed on evil spirits obscuring the way.
  • However, by a stroke of luck, they ended up finding something else they had long been seeking: the megalith observatory of the Sky Gardens.
  • Making camp in the vicinity of the megaliths, they decided to try out the scannersaur unit, when lo and behold, it revealed a heat source in the brush – a red blotch in the shape of a Saurian figure.
  • At that point, the figure stepped forward into the clearing and de-cloaked, revealing herself to all.
  • “Zin-Guna!” the party members cried. She was a velociraptor, but strangely not the red-plumed species she was supposed to be. She wore a red-plumed headdress, but had gray feathers.
  • In their ensuing conversation, the encounter got stranger. She was supposed to be a skilled astronomer, but she revealed no such knowledge, and even seemed to be hiding her ignorance.
  • Nevertheless, the un-suspicious adventurers asked to join her, to which she readily agreed. “We can find a place for you,” she said with a cunning smile.
  • She led them to an encampment where Hominids were toiling at sharpening megafauna casings into blades, while Saurians loomed over them with whips. This gave the party members pause. This was her raiding party? It seemed more like a band of shanghaied slaves.
  • Amblys spoke with several of them and discovered considerable disloyalty in the band.
  • Finally, the adventurers decided to turn against this “Zin-Guna”, who certainly did not seem at all like the Zin-Guna they had heard of. Either she was nothing like the rumors, or this was not Zin-Guna at all but an imposter.
  • Finding Zin-Guna alone in her tent late at night, Amblys charmed her with flattery while Feather crept up from behind. When they were both in position, Amblys unleashed a rapid attack, and Feather did the same. Klag then joined the fray as well. Only Scraeeaczck dissented, trying to stop the fighting.
  • In the ensuing melee, Zin-Guna was badly wounded and Feather managed to get her belt off of her. But she managed to seriously injure Amblys as well. Amblys fell unconscious, bleeding out. She was saved only by the Gridcasts of Scraeeaczck.
  • Meanwhile, the Hominids raiding band revolted against their taskmasters and ran them off. They then began to encircle Zin-Guna. Seeing the tables turned against her, Zin-Guna bolted for the brush and managed to escape.
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Chapter 3. The Squeezer

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Summary:

  • After returning home to find Klag and Feather’s village burned to the ground, the party has just learned from the dying headman Grawr that the one responsible was none other than Zin-Guna, a velociraptor Saurian with scarlet plumage. The two Hominids seethe with lust for revenge. Meanwhile, the Saurians Amblys and Scraeeaczck are eager to find Zin-Guna for their own reasons.
  • But before they could do that, they heard clanking in the brush around their smoldering village. Suddenly, they found themselves surrounded by warriors of the Flat People, a rival village of Sky People who wear flattened plates of metal on their heads and bodies.
  • The leader of the Flat People, Gigi, stepped forward. It seemed the Flat People’s village too had been burned down. They both accused each other of being responsible. After a period of mutual mistrust and accusations, urged on by a particularly runty Flat Person named Bugu, who kept crying for Gigi to feed the others to “the Squeezer”, they finally overcame their differences and resolved to wreak vengeance upon Zin-Guna. First, however, they must honor the dead.
  • The party followed Gigi and her warriors back to her village deep within a recessed cliff face. It too was burned down, just as she said. Meanwhile, beyond was a dark facility of some kind. Therein lied the Squeezer.
  • Little Bugu, who was like a hobbit among hobbits, and was actually part of a breed of dwarf slaves bred for sex, chortled with glee as he orchestrated the funeral game: a singing competition to honor the dead, but with a twist – the competitors are held aloft above a pit by two large mechanical pincers. The loser is dropped… into the Squeezer.
  • “Who will compete?” cried Bugu. Klag answered the call, as did Amblys.
  • They both sang well, but it was Klag’s song that moved them all to tears.
  • As for Amblys, down she plunged into the pit. Then Bugu threw a large switch, and the walls began to close in on her.
  • Fortunately, Amblys managed to find a large metal rod with which to jam them open, causing the Squeezer’s gears to grind and burn, finally destroying the machine.
  • “Nooo!” cried Bugu, and he threw himself into the pit to try and unjam it. Meanwhile, the others threw Amblys a rope and pulled her out.
  • Finally, Bugu succeeded at unjamming the machine. No sooner did he cry “I got it!” than the Squeezer’s walls slammed shut permanently, making a permanent pancake of little Bugu.
  • After that, it was time for Klag and Feather to honor the dead in their own village’s traditional way: they were to suspend their headman’s corpse between them as their rode pteranodons in tandem through three complete loop-de-loops. The more loops they completed successfully, the greater would be the headman’s place in the afterlife.
  • After a very long debate about the best way to do it, Klag and Feather made the attempt. Unfortunately, on the beginning of their first loop, the corpse, fried to a crisp from the fire, snapped in half and plummeted in ashen pieces to the ground. Oh well, so much for Grawr ruling the afterlife.
  • Next, it was time to go after Zin-Guna. For that, the party would need more pteranodons to carry them all, so they paid a visit to a certain peak which was home to villagers called the Cave People. Feather and Klag gave them two sacks full of cyborg megafauna parts harvested earlier from the graveyard, but the Cave People were not won over till Feather offered his mechanical locust from the great swarm. With that, the Cave People gave them two more ptera and bid them good luck on their mission.
  • Finally, the party took to the skies: Klag, Feather, Amblys, and Scraeeaczck. From this vantage, they a plume of smoke off in the distance. Taking this to be evidence of yet another burned village, they banked in that direction.
  • As they neared, they could see a mixed group of Sky People and Saurians in the brush below.
  • Just then, Amblys noticed they had company: four ptera riders coming up on their tail. Klag recognized the pteras: they had been stolen from his own village.
  • What ensued was a death-defying dogfight in the sky. Klag managed to order his pursuers’ ptera, which he himself had trained, to dive. This gave them the advantage. He managed to shoot one with his arrow. Two others evaded them. As for the last one, which was flying just below treetop level, Scraeeaczck used a Gridcast to cause the branches of a tree to knock him off his mount. The rider tumbled to the ground, and Feather cast a net over him.
  • He turned out to be a she. She was none other than Ry-gad, an outcast from their village who had left last year after humiliating embarrassment at a moon ritual. Ry-gad divulged that she had been recruited by Zin-Guna and forced to burn villages.
  • “Did she have a red feathers like this one?” asked Amblys, pointing to Scraeeaczck’s crimson plumage.
  • “Yes, but as a headdress,” said Ry-gad. “She was not like that one. She was different.”
  • It seemed this “Zin-Guna” might not be Zin-Guna at all, but possibly an imposter, wearing the red headdress to impersonate her plumage.
  • Last, the prisoner Ry-gad revealed that she could help them find Zin-Guna, but it would be difficult, because she was a special belt that is a “wayfinder” helping her navigate by the four corners and enabling her to disappear into the brush as if invisible.
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Chapter 2. The Ledge

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Summary:

  • The party has just survived an attack by a cyborg allosaur, only to see an enormous swarm of mechanical locusts pass overhead. Scraeeaczck believes this to be a terrible omen signaling an impending comet strike.
  • The Hominid Sky Riders Klag and Feather want to earn prestige by capturing the Reptilians Amblys and Scraeeaczck and returning home with them.
  • Meanwhile, the Reptilian cultists Amblys and Scraeeaczck are searching for a hermit and former master ptera trainer named Zin-Guna who lives somewhere in the Sky Gardens. They believe she can shed light on the foreboding omen of the locusts, but they don’t know where to find her. They’re hoping that if they play their cards right, their Hominid “captors” will lead them to her.
  • The Hominids convince the Reptilians to allow them to bind their claws.
  • They can’t all ride home on the pteranadons, so they must return on foot. Unfortunately, the path home is fraught with predatory megafauna.
  • Klag proposes to make their way to the Narrows, which is usually free of the biggest megafauna, but there’s one problem: part of the path to the Narrows is a six-inch ledge along a cliff face, with a plunge below.
  • Using Gridcasts to aid them, the party attempts to navigate the ledge. Almost all of them make it, but at the last moment Amblys begins to slip.
  • Klag attempts to signal his ptera to swoop down and catch her, but fails. Amblys plunges downward.
  • Feather quickly Gridcasts, warping reality so that a handhold appears in the rock face below Amblys. She reaches for salvation but fails to grasp the handhold.
  • Finally, the other ptera swoops down, catches her on its back, and carries her to safety on the other side. Unfortunately, the impact appears to have severely injured its spine, and it is no longer ridable.
  • During her brush with death, Amblys noticed something glinting below. It looked like bones and metal plates.
  • The party investigates and finds a megafauna graveyard.
  • A red light hidden beneath a metal plate appears to be flashing. Feather also hears scratching and warns the others.
  • They take up positions around the metal plate, then Feather shoots an arrow into it. Something slithers off into the distance, leaving the light flashing in silence.
  • Klag musters the courage to lift up the plate. Below is a strange device, about the size and shape of an avacado, with a flashing red light on top.
  • Scraeeaczck notices some kind of inscription on the bottom and attempts to read it, but can’t. He is certain, however, that it belongs to the old technology of the Ancestors.
  • Feather examines the device, recognizes some of its wiring, and determines that it is used against venoms and poisons.
  • Klag pockets the device, and the party continues to the Narrows without encountering any large megafauna, and then on to the village from which he and Feather hail.
  • Nothing could have prepared them for the sight, however: the village had been burned to the ground.
  • They find their headman, Grawr, blackened and blistered in the ashes, wheezing his last few breaths.
  • “A traitor,” Grawr gurgles. “A traitor attacked the village… The ptera trainer… Zin-Guna.”
  • It appeared the breath was about to go out of him. Scraeeaczck tried to save him with a Gridcast, but he was too far gone. They heard the death rattle, and then he was gone.
  • Feather beat his head and heaped ashes on himself in mourning.
  • Meanwhile, overcome with frustration, Scraeeaczck slashes into the gut of the deceased headman.
  • Seeing this desecration, Klag brandishes his cybertooth tiger-claw at Scraeeaczck and unleashes a terrifying barrage of slashes in the air, which sends Scraeeaczck hopping about the smoldering village in fear.
  • It appears the party must now track down this Zin-Guna, not only for her knowledge of omens, but also to halt the danger she now represents. And last but certainly not last, for the Klag and Feather, whose village she apparently just put to the torch, they must track her down to exact vengeance.
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Chapter 1. The Omen

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The rocky peaks of the Sky-Gardens of Nosrac… a quiet place, usually.

“No, no, no!” she ejected, waving her three-inch claws wildly. “You’re not coming with me!”

“On the contrary!” he protested. “You’re not coming with me!

The two Reptilians bickered as they picked their way up the mountain ridge.

The first, a lumbering, feathered segnosaur-like creature named Amblys, towered over the other. He was a light, swift velociraptor called Sckraeeaczck. He stood about half her height, but could outrun her in any race.

They were both end-time cultists exiled and/or escaping from The City for their heretical beliefs. There was a lot of that these days. The City had become a haven of fanaticism. Once it was the old high capital of the Ancestors, whose lightning-lit towers soared. Then the comet struck. In an instant, their civilization was brought low. Now, it is a rusting testament to a bygone age. The City is still inhabited, but only by small clans who have long since forgotten how to read or build the great devices of old. The Reptilians’ zeal was now spent instead on homilies about the coming of the Final Destruction.

Amblys and Scraaeeaczck were two such end-timers, but they were from rival cults. Amblys’ pouch was fat with a codex she couldn’t read but believed held sacred knowledge, while Scraaeeaczck’s bundle held a map of the stars that he was certain could tell the future. These beliefs were mutually incompatible, of course.

The two Reptilians had run into each other along the path… unfortunately.

But it seemed they had bigger problems.

“Wait, what’s that?” Amblys pointed to the sun.

Out of the corona came two dark silhouettes.

“Sky Riders!” Scraeeaczck exclaimed.

Their beaks drooped in fear.


Soaring high above, two patrolling Sky Riders gazed downward. From the backs of pteranadons, the brown-skinned, hobbit-sized Hominids spotted Reptilians in their territory. Never a good sign.

But why just the two of them?, thought Klag, an experienced ptera trainer. He fidgeted atop his mount. They must be part of a raiding party, he thought, but then where is the rest of the warband? Strange.

He signaled to his compatriot, Feather, to scan around for the warband. As he did so, the sun glinted off the strange mechanical device implanted into Feather’s skin, which always unnerved Klag. It marked Feather as a Grid – one of those uncanny individuals able to bend reality with the device’s aid.

Klag was wary of Feather. Though a far less experienced rider, he bore that unnatural device. What awful curses could he heap on me with it?, he thought. Can I trust him?

Suddenly, Feather pointed vigorously to the trees just beyond the Reptilians.

Then Klag saw it too. There was something in the trees moving toward the Reptilians. Something big. Very big. And it looked hungry.

This put Klag in a quandrary. His people couldn’t allow Reptilians in their territory, and letting them get eaten by cyborg megafauna would solve that problem nicely. But then there would be no one to question about the location of the Reptilian warband that surely must be on its way. So, he resolved to intervene.

Klag signaled to Feather, and they began their dive to “rescue” the two Reptilians from the maw of death.


Amblys’ feathers stood on end as she saw the Sky Riders diving toward them.

Then they felt it. The earth tremored, but it was no earthquake.

The two Reptilians turned around to see it emerge from the trees: a towering beast of scales and metal plates. One arm ended in a meat hook and the other in a buzz saw, while its left eye was a camera lens zooming in on its prey.

The creature planted its feet and let out a piercing robotic roar:

GRRREEEEAAAAAAACK!!!

Just at that moment, the Sky Riders swooped in. Klag leaped from his mount and tumbled deftly onto the scene, ready to defend the Reptilians.

Meanwhile, Feather knocked his bow. Aiming unsteadily atop the flaring ptera, he just prayed it would hit something… anything. But the shot amazed everyone – even Feather. The arrow loosed and screamed right into the beast’s mechanical eye, sending shards of lens in all directions.

The creature roared in anger and made ready to devour them all, but hesitated. Then it turned tail and ran in fear.

The Reptilians and Hominids realized it had become dark, like the sun had died.

They looked up to see the sun blotted out by a black cloud – no, a swarm. Locusts.

The swarm took nearly thirty seconds to pass overhead. As it did so, low-flying locusts buzzed and knocked into the Reptilians and Hominids. Feather caught one in his hands, and saw it was mechanical.

Meanwhile, Sckraeeaczck shook his velociraptor head in dismay. This is bad, he thought. As a stargazer, he was no stranger to omens. And this one was not good. Not good at all.

The words fell from his beak:

“Another comet is coming.”

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