The party: Lucia the Brave the Heir, Dryden of Conwall the Collector
Lucia’s friends from her homeland have linked up with her and htey are ready to adventure in these new lands, but where will they go? Dryden asks Lucia to choose their direction. He’s more formal than Gleador. The vibe is going to be different. They survey their surrounding. Upriver, the town of Sugar’s Crossing, which Lucia and Gleador have already explored and disrupted. Downriver, the swamp of the witch Samantha, and beyond that, the port that Dryden just came from. To the east, Fairmeadow, and other towns that Lucia has already explored. To the west, orchards, and a plume of white vapor.
They head for the white clouds, walking through neat rows of small fruit trees. The find the source of the white smoke: a steep sudden valley. A hole in the ground, full of geothermal activity. Pools of water, bubbling and colored by strange minerals. Boiling fumaroles, delicate travertine. Down near ht bottom of the pit are two humanoids, lounging in the pools and having a great time. One of the figures, a man named Shasta, sees the crew looking down and invites them to join him. He assures them that the hot springs are very refreshing. Great heat is wafting out of the pit, but Dryden decides to go down and meet Shasta. He climbs down the steep slope, but slips, and ends up next to Shasta’s pool covered in mud. Shasta laughs and splashes some scalding hot water at him to clean him off. Dryden tries to block the water with his cloak, but still gets burned. Helen, the other red-skinned person in the hot spring, admonishes Shasta. She doesn’t want to scare Dryden off, like the last fellow. She’s got the cheery over-familiarity of a Southern diner waitress, and points out the features of the natural spa. Wash in this pool, rinse under that waterfall. This pool is good for soaking. Wash your hair there. The minerals will make your hair soft and luscious like ours. (They do have very nice hair.) Stay out of that pool. it’s actually acid! All of these features are near boiling. Long exposure would be lethal to a human, but Shasta and Helen seem to enjoy it very much.
Dryden asks if he can collect some of the water from various pools, and his hosts allow it. He retrieves a long metal flask from his cloak, halfway between a canteen and a test tube, and holding it with metal chopsticks, he carefully fills it with water from the soaking pool. He collects water from the hair washing pool in a second flask, and reaches for the acid with a third. The acid pulls back away from the flask and and rises in a mound on the far side of the pool! This is no unliving pool of acid but a Rain, like Melvin, relaxing in the heat. Non-porous containers like metal flasks are the only way to capture a Rain, and the Rain don’t like being captured! Dryden has never met Rain before and wants to know all about them. the Acid Rain is willing to chat, if Dryden will provide snacks. Dryden has many snacks! He offers a branch of a tree from the island of Moldova. The acidic soil is drawn into the roots of the tree and a unique mushroom grows on those roots. The mushroom is an acquired taste for most people, but the Acid Rain loves it and tells Dryden a bit out The Rain. They arrived on a comet from another world. They are shapeless, able to slip through the smallest cracks. They are ruled by The Rain King.
It’s really hot down here. Even though Dryden avoids the scalding water, the air temperature is high enough to be unhealthy. He needs to leave. When he was a child, he played alone a lot, so it was hard to play catch. He tied a string to his ball and practiced throwing the ball across the yard and pulling it back with the string. This skill transfers over to his rope arrow, which he fires to the rim of the pit and starts to climb. Again, the steep, muddy slopes betray him. he loses his grip on the rope, tumbles down, and ends up balancing on a small, wet rock in the middle of a bubbling pool of boiling water! Shasta looks up and says, “Good choice! That one is particularly refreshing!” Lucia grabs the rope arrow, tosses the end down to Dryden, and pulls him out of the pit.
Lucia and Dryden look for a more survivable settlement. They are in orchards, so there must be one nearby. After following rows of trees to a path to a barn to a road, they do find a town. The humans in the town seem on edge. When they enter, the townsfolk ask if they’ve been attacked. Two nights ago, on night of the full moon, three people were wounded, and one person was killed!
GM Note: I paused at this point and said, “Oh right. People die in this game.” In all of Fairmeadow Fair, the closest the party got to killing was turning off robots and dispelling ghosts. Chasing The Sunset is more violent and dangerous.
The townspeople suspect the burning deceivers in the horrible Fire Pit out there in the orchards. They’re always trying to lure people in to their death! Devon, the designated cautionary tale, is brought forward, and he pulls up his pant legs, again, to show the burn scars he got when he trusted the “burning deceivers” and went into the Fire Pit. Dryden and Lucia want to see the victims to figure out what happened. The local healer is named Liv. She has the three wounded victims resting in beds. The dead body is behind a divider in another area of the healing house. The three victims give their testimony.
- Tanner has bandages on his feet and legs. The foot of his bed is next to the window, and something reached through and tried to drag him out. The assailant failed, but Kenney’s legs were cut up.
- Molly’s left arm is bandaged and in a sling. She was out late on her farm, when a strange furry figure came out of the trees and grabbed her arm. She pulled free and ran, but her arm was injured.
- Kenney doesn’t have a shirt on, instead his chest is wrapped in bandages. He doesn’t remember the attack at all. He went to sleep early, before the sky got dark, and woke up outside bleeding. He figures it must have been the Burning Deceivers, because who else would threaten this small town?
Lucia and Dryden notice that all the wounds are lacerations, not burns. The evidence doesn’t point towards Shasta and Helen, who don’t seem like the types to sneak and attack anyways. Lucia wants to ask Liv a question, but she’s not around. Lucia peeks behind the divider and sees that the dead body is also missing. Suspicious, but before she can investigate further, there’s a commotion outside.
Angered by the attacks, and encouraged by the arrival of powerful-looking travelers who are concerned for their plight, the people of the village have formed and angry mob, with pitchforks, torches, and everything! They won’t tolerate the presence of the Burning Deceivers anymore! They are going to defeat them! Somehow! No one has a plan for fighting them at close range without being horribly burned. There’s a particularly charismatic villager who even convinces Dryden that fighting right now is the best thing to do, so he and the mob set off. Lucia is faster on her mighty steed than the mob on foot, so she picks up Dryden and rides ahead to to Fire Pit. Out of earshot of that very convincing villager, Dryden realizes that fighting would be foolish. he considers putting a trap in the mob’s path to stop them, but doesn’t want to injure them.
Shasta hails them from down in the pit. They explain that an angry mob is on the way, and it will turn out badly for everyone, but mostly the villagers. The villagers blame Shasta and Helen for attacking people on the night of the full moon. Lucia and Dryden explain the attacks. Of course Shasta and Helen didn’t do that. They stay here in the lovely sauna. But two nights ago? They did see a weird hairy guy up at the rim? They hailed him, but he didn’t come down.
GM note: I said “full moon” “hairy person” and “slashing wounds” enough for the players to say, “Oh, it’s a werewolf!” at this point.
Lucia asks if Helen & Shasta can retreat elsewhere to avoid the mob. The Fire Pits opened up recently, when geothermal energy broke through from some underground system, and Helen & Shasta also came from underground. There is a path back under the earth, but they aren’t willing to abandon their lovely spa.
The mob arrives. Dryden tries to redirect their anger with a passionate speech about the danger of werewolves, but this turns the mob against itself! Villagers realize that any of their neighbors could be the deadly beast. Tensions are high, and weapons are at hand! Lucia can’t get their attention. She asks Dryden if he has anything that explodes. He has lots of things that explode! He selects fireworks that explode with a loud bang, and shatter into mosaics of nature scenes, trees and hills and the like. Those are things farmers like, right? The villagers stop and look towards Lucia, who commands them to stop. They are insulted that this outsider thinks she can order them around. Dryden and Lucia won’t be welcome in the town after this, but they do seem less violent. Shasta climbs up to the surface and tells the people to get lost. He’s trying to have a nice time and all the noise is really harshing his vibe. Lucia recommends discussing the werewolf problem back in the safety oft he village. The villagers still think the Burning Deceivers are a problem, so they want Lucia to beat up Shasta first. “Beat him up?” says Dryden mischieveously. He brings out his flying stone and offers it to Shasta. “To activate this, you tap out a beat on the stone, then you’re rise into the air, so I’ll beat you up!”
GM note: That’s such a horrible pun is just has to work! Roll for it.
Shasta taps on the flying stone, which activates and sends him up and out of sight through the vapor that constantly rises from the pit. Shasta lands safely o nthe other side, pleased by the adventure. The villagers see Dryden fling a Burning Deceiver right out of the scene and are very impressed! they head back towards the village, and a terrible brawl has been averted.