Light PRIMAL

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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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 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 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 5. The Sinkhole

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  • The scene opens upon the adventurers roaring in argument. After frequently finding themselves at cross-purposes, the situation has finally come to a head. Saurians are suspicious of Hominids, and Hominids of Saurians.
  • Then another magenta light flashed across the sky, much as before. It sent the Gridcasters Feather and Scraeeaczck into tremors of pain, temporarily knocking out their Deep Devices.
  • A short while later, the earth below their feet, apparently made unstable by a pit-digging Gridcast during the fight, trembles and collapses. They are swallowed up by the earth.
  • They awake with dirt in their mouths and darkness all about them. They had apparently fallen into an underground cavern.
  • The party manages to light some tinder and a pole-torch, and finds there was a tunnel leading out of the chamber they were in, but they are not alone…
  • As Feather peaks into the tunnel opening, a hard-carapiced pincer clamps down on his nose. They manage to break him free, only to find themselves facing a cohort of strange crustaceans. One of them has geometric shapes scored into its carapice.
  • The one with the scorings ambles into the chamber, walking sideways in what was apparently its normal mode of locomotion. Two others follow it.
  • The scored crustacean draws a three-sided shape on the ground.
  • Scraeeaczck responds by a drawing a four-sided shape on the ground.
  • The scored crustacean, apparently their leader, then inscribes four dots on the ground and points to the party members, then three dots and points to itself and its two allies, and draws a circle around all of them.
  • Taking this as a communication of peace, the party responds by pointing to themselves and pronouncing their names.
  • The crustacean leader then begins to make a series of clicks () and pauses (-). It points to itself and pronounces, "." It points to its ally on the right and pronounces: "--" and the one on the left: ""*——*."
  • The party attempts to imitate these sounds, much to the crustaceans’ glee.
  • In this bizarre conversation, the party manages to ask the crustaceans to help them return to the surface. They are led through a series of tunnels.
  • As they spelunk through the tunnels, the party notices a strange device, square and flat, set into a wall. Scraeeaczck recognizes just enough of the markings on it to activate it.
  • What they behold next amazes them: a series of silent moving images. It looks to them as though they could crawl through the device and enter into another world. The scenes depict a thriving Saurian society with great, gleaming towers. Saurians in strange clothing bustle about. Then it shows what looks like some kind of gathering of important people, all seated in a circle in dialogue. To the shock of the party, the circle includes both Saurian and Hominid. They were apparently living together in peace and cooperation.
  • This strange scene is interrupted, however, by scraping noises deeper down the tunnel. Amblys also detected more scraping approaching from the other direction.
  • The crustaceans lock their legs together in formation as the party peers into the darkness.
  • Then the glint of a tooth appears out of the darkness, and a gaping maw strikes into their midst. Klag narrowly avoids getting gobbled up by it.
  • Feather activates the device in the wall again in order to cast light upon their foes. The creatures look like enormous earthworms with triple-rows of teeth.
  • Amblys uses her voice-amplifying conch in an attempt to frighten the creatures away. Scraeeaczck recognizes just enough of its alien anatomy to guess it has a sense of smell, and Gridcasts to misdirect its olfactory sensations. Klag attempts to summersault on top of one of them, but it is too quick. Feather fires arrows at one but also fails.
  • The party is saved when Amblys tries her conch again, but this time placing it against the wall so that the vibrations ripple through the earth. This seems to terrify the creatures, who retreat post haste.
  • At last, the crustaceans lead the party to the surface, then scuttle back into their subterranean home.
  • A short while later, the adventurers are spotted by a very unsteady pteranadon rider. It is one the Hominids left from the false Zin-Guna’s raiding party. He says the other former raiders are arguing about whether to try to find the adventurers, who saved them from their former master, or to flee.
  • The adventurers return to the raiding party camp and each give rousing speeches of brotherhood and sisterhood. They manage to win them over, especially with the story of the strange device that showed scenes of Saurians and Hominids working together.
  • They establish a new tribe of Saurians and Hominids united.
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Chapter 6. The Swamps

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Emboldened by forming a new mixed-race tribe of Hominids and Saurians, the adventurers set off with a mission: kill the false Zin-Guna.

After picking up her trail, a weeks-long chase ensued in which Zin-Guna fled into the swampy, polluted region known as The Sink. The adventurers followed her in, and stalked her like a wild animal. When they closed in on her, though, she was not easy prey.

First, she caught Sckraeeaczck in a net trap. Then she impaled Amblys with a sharpened stick-javelin. She also managed to hit Feather with a javelin, and nearly evaded capture by swimming under the brackish swamp waters, breathing through a reed.

However, at long last, the elements themselves came to the adventurer’s aid. Feather raised his hands and prayed to the ancestors for aid. It’s not entirely clear whether it was merely a coincidence or not, but a strange rain began to fall. It left inky violet clouds in the waters where it fell. And where it struck the adventurer’s skin, it caused sizzling pain. It seemed to be some kind of acid.

All were harrassed by this putrid violet precipitation, but none more so than the false Zin-Guna. Perhaps a droplet had fallen directly into her reed breathing tube and burned her lungs? It was not quite clear, but she surfaced, writhing in agony. The adventurers quickly took her captive, and now have her at their mercy at last.

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Chapter 7. The Rain

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Last time, the adventurers had just subdued the false Zin-Guna in the wake of a strange violet-colored acidic rain. Now, it continued to rain… and rain… and rain.

In the rain, they saw the shadowy forms of Klag and one of the Zin-Guna’s former raiders, a raptor called Gritsle. They explained that their camp was pinned down by a strange foe: a gaggle of laser-firing cyborg pelicans.

The adventurers were desperate to rescue their fellows in the camp, but they were stymied by the acid rain, so they devised a plan to construct umbrellas out of layers of ferns. Those who braved the rain to collect the ferns felt it sizzle and burn their skin. Once the umbrellas were constructed, they trudged back toward their camp.

On the way, the acid rain burned through their fern umbrellas, and they were searched around for cover. They discovered a strange group of metallic outcroppings that seemed to line either side of a walkway, providing temporary shelter from the rain. Within the shade created by these outcroppings, a flickering image of a weeping woman beckoned. She led the party underground into a large atrium full of similar flickering images all going about their business – some of them eating, others shopping at phantom vendors, or relaxing on benches. Both Hominids and Saurians were among them.

The weeping woman, a Hominid named Caen-gul, explained the source of her sorrow: her beloved Bellingus had put her away, explaining that the impending comet strike made their relationship too much to bear. Apparently he couldn’t stand the thought of her being snuffed out like that, or perhaps the thought of her seeing him snuffed out, and considered it best to separate. Suffice to say this left Caen-gul deeply bereft.

Amblys asked where Bellingus was now, and Caen-gul led the adventurers to a lower level where he sat at a restaurant table. Amblys then spoke to Caen-gul, cleverly leading him to believe that Caen-gul had taken up with another man. This roused Bellingus and he ran off to renew his love for her.

Just then, there was a flash of light and then a deafening shatter. Then all the flickering images disappeared, and the adventurers were left in a chamber that appeared to be the ruins of what they had seen among the flickering images. It seemed as though they’d seen a vision of what the place had been like just before the great comet strike that destroyed the civilization of the Saurians.

Next, the adventurers hastened back to camp. There, they found eight cyborg pelicans firing lasers over the heads of their tribesmen, who were trapped in a muddy depression gradually filling with puddles of acid rain. Springing to action, the adventurers braved the burning rain, and took down the pelicans in pitched battle.

Finally, the rain abated. With the tribe rescued and the rain resolved, the last order of business was to deal with the false Zin-Guna. All militated for her execution, but they stayed their hand long enough to interrogate her about the real Zin-Guna. Then they discovered that this false Zin-Guna, whose real name was Kretch, had been forced into service by a certain Rha-Tusha, who had captured her eggs and threatened to destroy them if she did not do his bidding. This Rha-Tusha was a Saurian rival of Zin-Guna, and the leader of a heresy believing Saurians can only survive the coming apocalypse by evolving into serpents. The real Zin-Guna fled the City when he rose to power, taking refuge in the Sky-Gardens. In order to flush out his rival, Rha-Tusha pressed Kretch into taking on Zin-Guna’s identity and raiding Hominid villages in order to destroy the real Zin-Guna’s reputation among the Hominids. Kretch only went along with it in order to protect her eggs.

Hearing this, the adventurers tempered their bloodlust somewhat. They put her fate to a tribal vote, deciding between execution and maiming (cutting off her tail). In the end, the tribe was merciful and voted to only maim Kretch. Her cries echoed through the swamp as her tail was sliced off.

Goals Achieved

  • Rescue tribe
  • Find leads on tech (get from Zin-Guna)
  • Serve justice

Twist

  • The false Zin-Guna, Kretch, who’d burned Klag and Feather’s village and many others, was acting not out of ambition but out of maternal instinct: to save her eggs, she had to obey the orders of the one who’d captured them, a Saurian cult-leader called Rha-Tusha.
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Chapter 8. Sea Scorpions Attack!

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Last time, the adventurers found the ruins of an underground complex that could serve as their new base of operations.

This time, they explored those ruins and discovered, among other things, a large, lightning-fast serpent hiding out in one of the chambers. They managed to slay the creature, mainly via Klag’s deft badger-style combo attack. Then they discovered it was actually a mechanical creature. It was not a cyborg, like the megafauna, but an entirely artificial construction. It must have been a left-over feature of whatever the complex was in its heyday.

After that, they explored the rest of the complex, and found metal crates, “sun wheels” (gears), and dolls decked out in bizarre metallic jewelry. The sun wheels and jewelry quickly became symbols of their new tribe.

Last, scouts returned from the surface with urgent news of an attack by a horde of intelligent sea scorpions. The adventurers quickly devised a strategy: they lit a fire at the entrance to the complex’s atrium to obscure it from the approaching creatures. Then they stationed themselves on a level above and waited. As the sea scorpions advanced through the smoke and into the atrium, they launched their javelins while the adventurers rained hell down in the form of arrows and sun wheels. In particular, they lobbed the largest, heaviest sun wheels onto the weakest part of the only stairwell leading up to their position. Eventually this weakened the stairs until they collapsed, killing many sea scorpions in the falling rubble.

This was enough to route the attackers, but who knows for how long?

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Chapter 9. The Siege

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Last time, the adventurers barely fought off an attack by a horde of sea-scorpions. They temporarily routed them, but didn’t defeat them. The horde camped just outside the entrance to their complex, preparing for a second assault.

Besieged thus, the adventurers connived a plan to break out. The scorpions had suspended vine-nets over the entrance to prevent pteranadons from flying out. Scraeeeaczck used a Gridcast to dessicate the vines, then they sent forward a force to torch the vine-nets. Then Klag burst through the still-flaming vines on a pteranadon. He dodged two further nets launched by catapults and broke out into the open air where he could attack from above with arrows.

Meanwhile, the others attacked the horde. Feather took aim at the leader on a palanquin, presumably the tyrannical !Glah, and hit him several times. In response, !Glah used a gridcast to create a strange, shimmering barrier in front of his troops and around himself. Any projectiles fired into the wall lost all their kinetic energy upon striking it.

This posed a formidable defense, but Gritsle snuck into stealth position and fired his laser obtained from the pelicans, which passed right through the kinetic wall. It was a crack shot, and fried !Glah to a crisp.

Upon seeing their leader killed, the horde of sea-scorpions panicked and routed.

The adventurers obtained some mechanical items from the corpse of !Glah, and captured a retreating scorpion, then chased the routing horde by air back toward their home.

Finally, as they pursued the horde, they saw in the distance an apparent sign of !Glah’s home base, a geyser of sewage spewing up out of the mangrove swamp.

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Chapter 10. The Geyser

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Last time, the adventurers repelled the besieging sea-scorpions, captured one of them (who has since been named !Buddy), and chased them nearly back to their home base, where they saw off in the distance a disgusting brown geyser spewing above the treetops.

Investigating closer, they discovered the home of the sea-scorpions: a wooden-palisaded complex of huts with a large smooth dome in the center, out of which spewed a geyser of rusty-brown water at regular intervals. At appeared to be a fountain of raw sewage with bits of corn.

The adventurers needed to find out about this, and figured !Buddy would now, but they could not communicate with him. So, they tried putting the deep device into !Buddy’s throat and discovered it could function as an electrolarynx.

!Buddy then revealed that the late Lord !Gal of the sea-scorpions had been the keeper of this strange geyser phenomenon. It is the way the sea-scorpions reach their blessed afterlife. They want to get to the Undersea, and must enter through an underwater gate below the mound. Those who are rejected are spewed out the geyser and suffer eternal damnation in Heaven (the sky realm above), whereas those who are accepted enjoy eternal bliss below in the Undersea.

The adventurers figured this underwater area beneath the geyser mound must be where !Gal hid his horde of devices (assuming he had any that he had not yet destroyed by the time of his untimely demise). So, they devised a plan to worm their way into it.

First, they flew in on their pteranadons with !Buddy at the lead, as if he were returning some great victor, and then they dropped him into the middle of the complex, with the deep device still in his throat. When the other scorpions saw he had !Gal’s deep device, they were over-awed and considered him !Gal’s rightful successor. The adventurers were then able to land and explore the complex unimpeded by the remaining army of sea-scorpions.

They needed to get under the geyser mound, but the problem was that it was underwater. Gritsle scouted it out, with his ability to hold his breath extended by a gridcast from Scraeeeaczck, and he reported back a dark realm with a strange mechanical plant and shadowy figures swimming in the water.

Then the team devised a plan to use their kinetic wall device as a diving bell. Only three could fit within it, so Klag, Amblys, and Scraeeackz went down to explore further. They found something like a giant mechanical venus fly trap underwater. The opening and closing of its maw pumped the water to create a whirlpool-like current drawing anything and everything into its metallic mouth.

Amblys managed to dig her claws into the side of the underwater chamber enough to stop them getting sucked directly into the Venus fly trap, but then a trio of shadowy underwater panthers with teeth like deep sea carrion-feeders attacked. It was difficult to fend them off in the water, and the battle was starting to look grim.

Finally, the adventurers decided to intentionally let themselves get sucked into the venus fly trap’s opening and closing mouth, gambling that the kinetic wall/diving bell would stop it from closing on them.

Their gamble paid off. The venus fly trap ground against the force of the kinetic wall. Then there was an enormous fla-woosh! and the adventurers found themselves sucked down a gullet-like tube.

They washed up inside a new dark chamber full of refuse. It was crawling with rats of bizarre, mutated proportions: tiny legs and huge heads, hulking left legs and mini right legs, and so on. And among them was another figure: a Saurian who called out “Scraeeaczck? Is that you?”

Stepping into what little light entered from a crack the ceiling above, it turned out to be none other than Scraeeaczck’s old heresiarch mentor (whose name is also Scraeeeaczck – how confusing!).

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