After dispatching the Tal Viol cultists and freeing the captive children, we continued to explore the underground passages. The children and our captives were to be cared for and guarded, respectively, by Tannis, as the rest of the group proceeded.
We hadn’t turned but one corner in the narrow corridor before guards were spotted up ahead, guns at their side. They did not notice us immediately. 0rca boldly took the lead and stepped out of the shadows to engage the guards. When asked if they could answer for the slaughter of human children, the guards took a defensive stand and tossed a smoke grenade into the narrow hallway. Mr. Clay attempted to clear the smoke by some magic. 0rca dutifully charged into the room beyond, and Skoll courageously followed suit. It was an ambush but no matter. 10 guards were slain with no casualties on our side. Not even Walder, a poor Macier who is curiously fragile.
The room in which we found ourselves could best be described as an underground canyon. We were on the topmost plateau. Below us was a market of sorts, with 50 or more people of mixed races— human, tal viol, and macier. They were worried by our presence, but made no immediate attempt to confront us or sound an alarm. Below the market, at the bottom of the canyon, were 4 (quite dated) armored vehicles. Seeking to commandeer a vehicle or two for our quest, we proceeded to the far end of the canyon.
As we neared a stairwell that would have provided us access to lower levels, a mechanic of the foremost vehicle sounded an alarm. Paul adeptly heard and later saw the marching of soldiers, well over 50 in number, moving in our direction. After some deliberation we made a dash for the first vehicle, hoping it was operational. Alas, it was not. Walder discerned that it had no fuel. Subsequent vehicles had mechanical issues.
Trapped in a canyon with an insurmountable army closing in, Mr. Clay levitated to the top level with a rope, offering down a rope to provide us with an escape. 0rca dismantled a vehicle’s mounted gun in a last-ditch act of sabotage, and we successfully made it out of the canyon. Tannis and our dependents were rounded up as we quickly made our way to the village north. We hoped to liberate them from their captors, warn them of the army, and encourage their immediate emigration.
Skoll had been carrying the human girl who was nearly sacrificed. She woke up from her deep slumber on our trek north. But something was wrong. She would not respond to anyone, and seemed genuinely fascinated with the most mundane things, such as rocks, and Skoll. We hoped it would pass.
Our insurrection in the north village was flawlessly executed. Two drunk guards had their throats slit by Mr. Clay, and we entered the town undetected. The group split in two— one group working the perimeter, and one heading toward the village center. A-squad visited the hut of one of the children, but it was not long before guards took notice. The 4 of them were dispatched in the streets, causing villagers nearby to come out and join our cause. It was now an armed revolt.
During the scuffle our would-be human sacrifice disappeared, seemingly into thin air. Skoll panicked and ran off after her. B-squad reunited with the rest of the group, and Mr. Clay interrogated a dying guard. He informed us of a barracks housing 30 or more guards, sending waves of insecurity through the party. But with our secret weapon, an angry mob, we marched toward the barracks.
We found them deserted, save for two familiar faces. Skoll was standing in the compound hand-in-hand with our young magician. In his other hand was the sacrificial knife, which would later be identified as the Herald of Nod. Skoll explained that he had brutally slaughtered everyone in the barracks with this dagger. The blood splatter and stray organs seemed to corroborate his story. Light on the details, it seemed that even Skoll was unsure what happened or how he came to wield the dagger. Mr. Clay keenly suggested that it may not be a purely benevolent artifact, and indeed we later come to understand that it is “intelligent” which cannot bode well for us.
Skoll continued his attempts to mind link with the girl, and upon success, he collapsed onto the floor. 0rca revived him with the potent smell of some alcoholic drink that Paul had found in the barracks. Skoll vaguely described seeing strange imagery, but was unsuccessful in speaking with the girl. Paul was vocally opposed to keeping the girl alive.
After some amount of celebration, we departed the village. They disregarded our advice and decided to remain and fight for their town. We reembarked on our journey to Alldan.
Near the two dead cerebelle Gosh notices the tracks of black lions, the dangerous, sentient, and sexy feline rulers of the wilds. It is probably not a sign of things to come, and we expect to reach Alldan without further incident.