Having survived an attempted assassination from an unknown adversary (who seems to know a lot about Leo), our Heroes (capital H) head out into the Grasslands with the dwarves of Hog Enterprises, only to find that it is no safer than the city (and probably much worse).
The sun has barely started to colour the sky to the east of the Violet City on the second day of Redmonth, when our Heroes (capital H) gather at the industrial unit rented by the dwarves of Hog Enterprises. They met Nezod Smeltgut and Alfobeth Hardbrew a few days earlier when they were hired, but now meet the rest of the company:
Nez, Alf and Dak will be going along with our heroes to Potsherd Crater in the Grasslands, but having hired them as caravan guard, accountant and… what was it you do again Leo?
Anyways, having hired our heroes it means that Grostus, Sivvy and Wez can remain in the Violet City and get the factory ready for the first batch of Oldtech when the caravan returns.
With supplies loaded, the two wagons and three mules - riders aboard - head out on the Slightly Banana Coloured Brick Road to swear on the contract (all 12 pages of it) at the Marut and seal their bargains before hitting the Grasslands. Official process duly followed, the party leaves by the Ignominious Gate and, clearing the many shanty towns around the city walls, starts into the Grasslands proper.
Last Chance at the Last Chair
Everyone heading west into the Grasslands from the Violet City stops at the Last Chair Salon, even if it’s only form quick drink of Yellow Beer. As the brochure says:
A day’s journey west of the Violet City the coffee plantations give way to scrubby uplands. The city claims them, but it is the coin-shamans of the Aqua and Cerulean semi-nomadic clans who are paid to defend them from vomes. The Last Chair mesa stands at the crossroads of the Low Road and the High. Its flanks, deeply grooved with the visages of scaled kings from a neo-ophidian age, divide the southern way of shattered viaducts to the Porcelain Citadel from the leisurely beast trails wending north into the vast grasslands of the Lime Nomads.
Atop the robin egg blue walls of some Long Ago fort or tower rises the Last Chair Salon, operated by Marsa Vinoble, scion of a long line of seditious Yellowlander exiles. The Last Chair is the last place to stock up on yellow beer (€200/keg), felix whizz and cat coffee and the first place to hear new rumors from the Rainbowlands. The local rancher-riders pay decent prices, tourists pay double. The pastorales hate the tough business-heroine who sells Violet City drugs to their children. She claims it is her free market right.
Our heroes decide that giving the mules time to graze means they can partake of one last proper meal and more than one mug of Yellow Beer, then spend the night in a decent bed before they commit to the hardships of the road. A good time is had by all.
A Wet and Windy Night
Faced with the perils of the Low Road or the High, the party decides that having mules and wagons means the low road, even with it’s potential for nastier wildlife encounters, is probably a better choice. The first real decision, and how wrong it would prove to be.
A few days of mindless, uncomfortable journeying does not find our heroes in a good mood, and this does not improve when they make camp in blowing wind and driving rain. Gathered around the campfire, they take solace in it’s light and warmth, until Pascale sparks an interesting conversation with “Did anyone else see that?”
“Over there.” as Pascale points off into the darkness beyond the firelight.
“Something red and glowing. Errr, actually, lots of things red and glowing.”
“And there,” says Leo, “and there.”
“Awww maaan.” from Aberama.
Approaching the party from all directions comes a chittering and slightly mechanical chirping, and lots of small red glowing eyes. As they come closer, our heroes see they are packs of prairie dogs, but for some reason these have glowing red eyes and the glint of metal from their fur in odd places.
“VOMES!” cries Nez, “TO THE wagons!”
Is that a gopher in your pants, or are you… AAAARGH!
As the dwarves race for the safety of the wagons, Leo and Pascale beat a fighting retreat using their Onslaught abilities while Aberama stands his ground, halberd swinging.
Squeals and squeaks and chittering rise to a crescendo as the vome-infested prairie dogs swarm by their dozens at the feet of heroes, nipping, biting, jumping, scratching. A few die, cut in half by Aberama’s halberd or blown to pink mist and spare parts by Leo’s Onslaught, but many, many more keep on coming.
In the middle of the chaos, Aberama’s halberd swings back and forth, but he fails to notice that one of the vome-dogs has managed to make its way through a tear inside his pants.1 He doesn’t stay oblivious to its presence for long.
“AHHH! SHIT! SHIT! OH CRAP!” and he starts smacking his groin as hard as he can.
Caught unawares as he fights the pants-invading biomechanical menace, Aberama backs away from the rest of the pack… straight into the fire, and falls into the flames.2 He rolls around on the ground trying desperately to put out the flames and smash the pants-invader.
Pascale see this from her position on one of the wagons and pulls a Choking Gas Bomb from her supplies, throwing it at the nearest pack of prairie dogs between her and Aberama. Holding her breath, she jumps from the walker and rushes to grab Aberama. At the same time, Alf and Leo start fighting their way back through the vome packs towards Aberama as well.
With Pascale and Leo’s Onslaughts blazing away, Leo eventually makes it to Aberama and he and Alf drag him back to the safety of the wagons. Pascale jumps back aboard as well. The prairie dogs are too small to climb up into the wagons, and any that do make it are quickly dealt with.
The rest of the night is spent playing whack-a-vome from the back-deck of each walker. By the time the sun crawls up above the faintly purple haze of the sky, there’s nothing left of the previous night except a dying fire and a lot of small patches of vome blood scattered around the area
Also, no mules. You know, the ones carrying all their food and water.
A day of foraging and healing later, the caravan moves on and arrives at the Ruin Camps at the end of the Low Road in another day’s time. We close the session as the party finds food and shelter for the night before taking stock of their position the next morning.