Sahauviia the Green (Kathy) - Atlantean Sorceress
Koomara Hadansi (Angela) - Galacean Scavenger
Orgaskemisqak (David) - Lemurian Craftsman
Melucene Palleremos (Ellie) - Hesperian Priestess-in-Training
Vaino the One-Eyed (Mark) - Cimmerian Adventurer
15th Abu, Year 506 Meta Kataklysmos (M.K.)
It has been close to six weeks since the player Heroes last engaged in activity. Sadikar al Tarnufeh (Tom) has gone off in pursuit of the girl he now claims to love, Serria. Mahoo of Aquaga (Nick) has decided to return to his homeland of Aquaga in Eria, as he tired of the presence of humans. And Calfuray (Joanne) decided to accompany the Ulukan scout on his journey home. Sahauviia the Green, Koomara Hadansi, Orgaskemisqak the Metalworker, and Melucene Palleremos booked passage from Klymeus in southern Mestea, and travelled to the land of Atlantis, making their way to Kabir in Gadirea. With winter ending and spring well under way, the temperature in Kabir has risen. However, outside the city, on the mountain peaks above and in some of the valleys below, there are still thick falls of snow. Within the city, however, the Pyramid of Kabir keeps many of the buildings warm and the ley-line roads are always clear.
In the Eagle's Casque alehouse, the tavern is buzzing. However, all is not bright this evening, as the player Heroes overhear rumours that the town of Iceford has not sent a recent and expected shipment of wine and cheese from the south. As a result, prices on these items are soaring in Kabir. In the small set of rooms the player Heroes are sharing, Koomara and Sahauviia lament the cost of good wine, but Orgaskemisqak tells them that such is not a worry for Lemurians. There are other, less potent and less costly, beverages to drink at the tavern below. That evening, the Heroes learn that a Balam, one Khemiras, arrived bearing news. The southern city of Iceford, thought in many rumours to have been destroyed, is now described as decimated, but slowly returning to life. There are some scandalous rumors about a foreign goddess now being worshipped there instead of the Orixa, and several of the local priests are clearly disturbed by this strange heresy on civilized shores.
The next morning, the three Heroes decide that it is time they took matters into their own hands. And so, two days later, the Heroes have headed higher into the mountains from Kabir, following the rivers, the trails of miners, loggers, and woodsmen. In the higher reaches of the Atlas Mountains, they encounter a tall but lanky Cimmerian with a discoloured right eye that is tattooed, who wields a large axe and spear, whom they take for a local, until he tells them that his name is Vaino the One-Eyed, and that he is a traveller in these parts. Vaino agrees to accompany the others, being somewhat awestruck by the Atlantean sorceress, Sahauviia, and he tries to ingratiate himself to her as they travel.
Eventually, the Heroes reach a small logging encampment. The Heroes are taken aback to see little activity here, and Sahauviia is disturbed to see that the several large wooden longhouses here are centred around what appears to be a circle of huge, thick tree trunks, many several metres high, carved to resemble a vril stone circle. She points this out to the others, and tells them there may be something unusual afoot here. Melucene points out that only one of the longhouses seems to have inhabitants. There is a curl of smoke from its chimneys on the roof, and lights shine forth from its windows.
Seeing a stable, but no one about (there are horses and other pack animals of various types within), Sahauviia and Orga settle the player Heroes' horses, and then walk with Koomara, Melucene and Vaino towards the inhabited longhouse. Pausing only for a moment, the Heroes rap sharply at the longhouse central entrance. The Heroes hear muffled voices, and then the door opens slightly. A voice quavers when they ask for shelter, inquiring as to whether they have medicines or any skills in the healing arts. However, another deeper voice with a hint of a foreign accent, shouts over the first, demanding to know if they have any weapons to help them defend themselves. Sahauviia replies that they are travellers from Kabir, seeking shelter for the night, but will give aid and coin in return.
Once the door is opened, the Heroes can see a pair of men standing in the lit hallway beyond. One is an older Human, the other a young Netherman who towers above his companion. Upon seeing the Heroes, the Netherman grunts, and then turns and departs through another door out of which heat and light seems to pour. Once into the other room, it suddenly seems oppressive, sweltering, and overly hot to the Heroes. A fire roars within the central fireplace, and Sahauviia senses that either the fire, or the fireplace itself, have been treated with some sort of perhaps alchemical, perhaps magical substance. She is not comfortable with this, and comments on it to the other Heroes. Koomara is concerned about the fact that on at least two of the walls are a number of beds that have been pushed together in place of furniture, on which a number of men and women (primarily Nethermen, Taurans, and Humans) lie. Melucene comments that many of them are either ill or injured, but she's not sure which.
The older Human, who followed the Heroes from the hallway, wrings his hands, and then apologises to them for the fact that they have little comfort to offer. He tells them that his name is Jacobin and that his Netherman friend is Halfast. He fears they are all under some form of curse. He starts to say that these are all the souls that currently remain, but then breaks down sobbing. Halfast curses, and then tells them that he means since their foreman, Janos, went missing. The foreman took a group of men up the mountain. Then, the week before, perhaps a tenday ago, the earth shook. Sometimes, after Aganju [the Orixa who presides over volcanoes and the like] shakes the earth, they can find new seams of metal in the hills above. If they report them, they all get a pay bonus from Kabir. So, Janos took a group up into the mountains to see if Aganju blessed them with wealth - but he hasn't returned. Jacobin regains his voice and says that since then, the men having been falling ill at a rapid rate, many have died. Since they can't bury them properly, Halfast finishes, Jacobin claims to have seen the dead walking through the trees at night. While he's not seen anything, there's definitely something out there - that tears bark from the trunks, uproots poles, and claws at their doors. After the night it stole someone from a bed, they all lock up and keep watches.
The player characters ask some questions, Sahauviia taking the lead. To Sahauviia's question, Halfast says there's nothing in the fire but some of the scraps and shavings from the last loads of northern pine that they brought in, though he acknowledges that it does burn hot, indeed. Sahauviia asks if they have any of the wood that has not been placed in the fire, and Halfast grunts and walks over to a large bin near the door. Flinging back the lid, he points inside, tells her about half of that lot, and reaches inside. He pulls out a small branch, about as big around as his forearm. The wood seems to have a slight reddish hue. Sahauviia shakes her head, and pockets the piece of wood in a voluminous pocket (presumably to examine later).
Meanwhile, Orga asks Jacobin what he believes is happening to his friends and allies, but before he can reply, a crashing sound can be heard through the window as something moves about in the trees beyond the camp, breaking limbs and moving through the underbrush. With a quick glimpse at the others, Koomara quietly moves out into the night, heading for the stables. Back inside, Sahauviia casts a perception spell to see what is going on, and is surprised when she learns of the presence of undead outside the longhouse. However, many of the sick and injured on the beds start to babble in an unknown language. Jacobin says that they do this most nights, and that no one knows what it means nor why they do this.
Peering cautiously around the corner of one of the outlying buildings, Koomara sees what appear to be six men in the central courtyard. She makes out their undead status in the dim light, and decides that she's no match for half a dozen of them. Stealthily, she returns to the longhouse and tells the others what she's found. She says that she noticed one of the cadavers was robed, and asks if their supervisor, Janos, had such a fine garb for expeditions. Jacobin doesn't know, but Halfast says that he did have an old robe for when he went to town to meet buyers. Still hanging in his office, as far as he knows.
Melucene meanwhile works her way through the ranks of the ill, doing what she can for them, Vaino accompanying her as he is concerned for the safety of the young woman. Melucene has a constant look of concern on her face. Orga asks Jacobin and Halfast if they're the ones who made the vril circle outside, and the Netherman says that it was something that was put up during the last season. It was supposed to remind them of home and be an adequate place of worship or some such, but he says that while it's nice carving and all, it's just a bunch of wood. He adds that Janos started working on it, and then he and the others chipped in. Adding the rocks to it seemed to make a nice touch, but he reckons that it's only about half-way done. Sahauviia gives Orga a look, and the Lemurian is certain that there's more the Atlantean wants to tell him, but not in the presence of the others.
This game session of Atlantis: The Second Age was the first that I'd run in months, and went pretty well all things considering. With the departure of Nick, Tom, and Joanne from the gaming group, the group of player characters suffered a big shake-up, and introducing Mark's new character, Vaino (a lovely pun, to be honest) took up some of the time, as well as having to deal with the new group dynamics. This session was somewhat slow, due to several factors (none of which I'm going into), but the players told me that they had a good time of it, and that the laying down of the groundwork for what is to come seemed to be fine.
Overall, I had a good evening running this session of Atlantis: The Second Age, and am looking forward to the continuation of the adventure with the Friday gaming group.