The party: Buckle the Beast/Heart of Earth, Stella the Halfling/Hunter
Last time, the Fellowship acquired part of an instruction manual for a teleporter, and discovered a plot by Vampires to blow up the Moon! now they follow the Vampire that got away, hoping to find more answers.
As they sail the Miranda around Doctor’s MacLeod’s Anti-Moon Weapon and on to the north-west, they reach a branch in the river. Stella pauses to investigate their options. The water from the west branch is slow and covered with moss and gunk. It’s draining a forest that was flooded and drowned. All the trees are dead and covered with dark, creeping moss. An awful place, but the silence and lack of foilage would any ambush easy to spot.
While Stella peers into the distance, some moss from that forest drifts near the Miranda. It grab the side of he hull and starts climbing. It’s not just a film of moss on the surface, but a moss-covered Blighted Ghoul! It’s very touch corrodes the hull! Stella calls to buckle, who comes running over holding the flaming leg of deck chair!
Buckle: Stella, keep them busy!
Stella: Gus, throw me the sour!
Gus the Halfling cook throws Stella a jar, and she pours a semi-circle of vinegar around the ghoul as it climbs through the railing at the edge of the ship’s deck. Vinegar will kill the moss and hopefully contain the creature. Buckle brings the flaming stick down on the ghoul’s head! The ghoul is smashed prone and slides off the deck in to the river. A bit of mossy goop sticks to Buckle’s weapon and crawls towards his hand. He drops the flaming stick into the river.
Buckle: What if we go to the live forest?
Buckle looks closely at the other branch of the river. This channel runs swift and clear from the north-west through a dense and vibrant forest. The big trees in the canopy don’t starve smaller plants beneath them. There are dense leaves from 200 feet up to the ground. The only clear path is the river, which is plenty wide enough for boat traffic. Any number of creatures could be watching from the branches of the forest. Something extends over the river, but it’s too far away to make out from here.
Buckle: Spooky, but less spooky than the other way. Let’s go before anything else shows up.
The Miranda goes up the north-west branch into the dense forest. The thing over the river turns out to be a dragon skull suspended on ropes over the middle of the river. The skull is huge, ten feet long and six feet tall! Its jaw is full of flat, triangular, shark-like teeth. Two wooden spikes have been lashed to the jaws like fangs. Above the skull, in runsted metal letters, is a sign reading “SO MUCH FOR THE POWER OF DRAGONS”
INSERT DRAWING HERE
Buckle worries about Fafnir, the Dragon he hatched from an egg, but this skull is far too large to be Fafnir’s. There’s a small dock at the river’s edge near the skull. They dock the Miranda there and set off to search for Marigold, the teleporter, and maybe some news about Dragons, which have been extinct for a century. Hamfast and Ugg stay with the boat. Buckle, Stella, Silk, Gus, and Rose take the trail into the dense forest. It’s very easy to get lost here. The trail often takes blind corners, and around one of the turns the Fellowship almost collides with a strange creature. at six feet tall it towers over everyone in the Fellowship. It looks like a sculptor hastily made a human out of clay. head, arms, legs, but all indistinct, all the same brown color. Even the face only has suggestions of eyes and mouth. The figure moves and speaks!
Seeker: I am Seeker. Who are you?
Stella: We are travalers. We just got here. What are you?
Seeker: That’s what I’m trying to figure out. I was only recently given a name and told to make my own decisions, but I don’t know what that means.
Buckle: A name is what you call yourself. A decision is what you do with yourself.
Seeker turns to Buckle.
Seeker: What is your name? I have met Travelers.
Buckle: I am Buckle and this is Stella. Travelers is our decision.
Seeker looks at Stella and repeats her name. As he does, he gets a bit shorter. He looks at Buckle and repeats his name, extending his face into a bill like Buckle’s. Seeker is a shapeshifter! They ask him about other creatures in the forest. He explains that the main hazards are troublesome fairies.
Seeker: They used to tell me what to do. Now they call my name and try to lead me astray from the path.
Stella: Could you lead us to where the fairies live? As you make decisions, one decision will lead do another. You could decide to have adventures like us!
Stella’s appeal to Seeker’s desires backfires.
Seeker: No! I don’t want to. I don’t have to.
Seeker wants to get out of the forest. Buckle asks if he has a plan. Making plans is hard, especially for Seeker, who only learned about making decisions recently. He walks to the river and the Fellowship follows. He sees the water flowing downstream.
Seeker: Even the river has a way it wants me to go.
Stella: You don’t have to follow the river. Some decisions are easy and some are hard. Help us and choose the hard way. Don’t go with the flow like the river wants you to.
Seeker: Choose the hard way to prove that I made a choice. Yes! I’ll do it.
Seeker agrees to lead them to the fairies. He shapeshifts to mimic Rose in order to confuse the fairies, which he is sure are already watching them. As they go deeper into the forest, carefully keeping to the trail, they hear voices calling out from the trees, offering shortcuts or food. Buckle can’t resist and runs into the underbrush, instantly setting it alight with his super-heated body.
Fairies: No, no! Please go back!
Buckle: I was promised food. Give me food!
The fairies emerge with fruit and lead Buckle back to the trail. He gobbles up the treats while Stella asks the fairies what’s going on. They say the were trying to lead the Fellowship out of the forest because there’s a Water Elemental up-river that’s causing destruction. Stella asks about Marigold and the fairies’ demeanor changes.
Fairies: They know! They can’t leave.
Stella demands an answer, or she’ll send Buckle into the forest again. The fairies have disappeared into the forest and don’t respond.
Stella: Buckle, did they answer our question? Go take a walk.
Buckle goes into the brush again, starting another fire, when he’s confronted by a Tyrannosaur! It’s controlled by a fairy sitting on a tiny saddle on the creature’s nose.
GM note: The players ask if the Tyrannosaur is a Beast. Buckle can talk to Beasts, and Stella’s Hunter Destiny lets her control Beasts. It sort of is, because it’s a non-magical, non-intelligent animal, but also it’s not, because it’s listed under Titans in the book. I said yes, and it’s funny that the Fairies brought exactly the wrong weapon to the fight and had it turn on them instantly.
Buckle speaks to the T-rex in its own language and asks about the Water Elemental. The T-Rex hasn’t heard about any Water Elemental. The Fairy pilot kicks and snaps her reins and yells at the T-Rex to eat them, but the T-Rex won’t attack Stella or her friends. Buckle asks if it knows where Marigold is, and the T-Rex is willing to lead him. Stella asks for a ride for the rest of the Fellowship, and the T-Rex crouches so they can climb aboard. The fairy pilot gives up and flies away. The T-Rex sets off through the forest. Buckle follows through the path it clears.
Seeker: This creature is making confusing decisions.
The fairies pelt the T-Rex and its riders with stones from the trees. Buckle catches a rock and throws it back, then sprints ahead to get away. He bursts into at a clearing in the forest. There’s a large rock at one side of the clearing with a tree’s roots growing over it. The roots have been chopped away on one side, revealing a passage under the rock into some underground chamber. A camp has been set up here. Marigold the Vampire Fairy is here, as well as two small reptilian humanoids called Kobolds. Marigold sees Buckle (he’s hard to miss, constantly glowing) and attacks with lightning speed! He’s hit before he can react.
Back to Stella and the others in the forest, getting pelted with rocks. Stella stands up and wields her longsword like a bat to hit rocks back at her attackers. She over-commits to a mighty swing, loses her balance, and falls from the T-Rex’s back all the way to the ground. Ouch! A fairy swoops in to steal her gear, but she sees it coming and interposes her fist. The fairy can’t dodge and bonks her nose real good! She retreats. Stella sprints down the burning path that Buckle left when he escaped. She enters the clearing, leaps over a Kobold that tries to intercept her, and vaults into the roots of the great tree on the rock, vanishing from view.
Buckle tries to placate Marigold and says that he has brought the manual back to her. She’s not buying it. The T-Rex and the rest of the companions burst into the clearing, ready to fight. Buckle wants to prevent a brawl.
Buckle: Everything’s fine! Maybe I can figure out the teleporter by looking at it. If I figure out the teleporter, you tell me what’s us with the Moon.
Marigold likes this deal. She won’t have to report her failure to “him” if Buckle gets the teleporter working. She takes Buckle down to the underground passage. Inside in a large cavern and inside that is a pyramid made of red stone, which Buckle recognizes from the schematics. This is the teleporter terminal! Buckle asks what Marigold has tried already. She turned a couple of the Kobolds into Vampire Thralls to force them to help her, but they are uncreative and don’t know anything that’s not written in the manual. Buckle walks around and examines the teleporter. It has four big terminals which should probably hold batteries, but are empty. It needs power. A lot of power. A level of power equivalent to Buckle’s Heart of Earth, or some other Artifact of Power.
Marigold explains that the Moon is weapon built by the Vampires’ ancient enemy, the Dragons. It sought to deny the Vampires the safety of the night by bringing the Sun’s light to the other side fo the planet. It didn’t work, but these Kobolds, servants of the enemy, just came through the teleporter, so the weapon is still active and may yet become a threat. Buckle asks why the Dragons hated the Vampires so.
Marigold: They are glory. We are shadow. We competed for control of this world, but, as you can see by my trophy over the river, we won.
Buckle says he saw a Dragon the other day, and Marigold is worried until he says it was at the Fight Club. The Vampires know about that one and have plans to deal with it. Buckle says the teleporter doesn’t have enough oomph to operate. Perhaps a nuclear reactor is necessary. He’s stalling and doesn’t actually want to help Marigold get the teleporter working.
Outside in the clearing, Stella tells the T-Rex to stop anyone who tries to hurt her friends. The T-Rex snaps its mighty jaws in acknowledgement. Stella shrinks to the size of an apple and sneaks down into the chamber. She’s so inconspicious that Marigold drops the heavy manual right on top of her as she tries to sneak closer.
Seeker: Mr Buckle Travelers, you seem to be avoiding making a decision.
Buckle: I’ve made my decision. I’m choosing when to act.
A power terminal on the far side of the teleporter explodes! Buckle hid explosives there while inspecting the machine! Fire starts spreading through the chamber. The teleporter malfunctions and teleports every particle in the chambe by one foot, but not all in the same direction. The smooth rocky surface is how warped and spiky. Seeker is just gone!
Marigold: You! Somehow!
Buckle: I’ve been accused before. This is the first time it’s true!
Marigold swoops at him, but he evades her attack. Stella yells for Gus to pelt Marigold with garlic, distracting her. Stella has to get through spikes and flames to reach Marigold, so she smears a helaing poultice on her face and charges, growing suddenly to her maximum size right in Marigold’s face! Marigold is terrified and flees.
Buckle: C’mon, let’s get out of here.
Together, the Fellowship escapes the spreading flames and spiky rocks. As they emerge from the mouth of the cave, more explosions shake the ground. The teleporter is destroyed, the Kobolds from the Moon are dead, and Marigold has fled into the forest.
Stella: For Fafnir?
Buckle: For Fafnir.
Stella calls for Seeker, but there is no answer. She calls out some final advice, just in case.
Stella: Seeker, remember that you always have choices!
The T-Rex carries the Fellowship back through the scorched path that Buckle burned through the forest to the Miranda.
END OF SESSION MOVE
Three boons: heal, restore gear, level up.