Alethea (Tammy) - Saturnian Mercenary
Dubaku of Ophir (NPC) - Ophirite Sorcerer
Orabela the Silent (NPC) - Balam Tharshi Thief
Gunnarr of Haloga (Dan) - Halogan Scout
Koralo Keen-Eye (SteveR) - Tharshi Scavenger
2nd Abu, Year 506 Meta Kataklysmos (M.K.)
Koralo Keen-Eye shouts to the others that they're under attack. The other player Heroes prepare to defend themselves, but no attack is forthcoming. When Alethea asks him what's going on, Koralo can find no trace of the arrow that struck him. The Heroes become somewhat nervous about what is going on. Orabela the Silent warns the Heroes that things in this area are not what they seem. Scanning the area where Koralo claimed the arrow came from, Alethea spots what are two animal prints. They are large cat prints, Orabela believing they are puma footprints. Alethea looks up to see a large puma with green eyes in the tree above her, but it takes no aggressive action. The others notice that there is a pride of nine cats in the trees surrounding them, and Orabela is convinced by Dubaku of Ophir to talk to the cats. Speaking to the puma in its tongue, Orabela learns that humans attacked the pride, and that they are defending their young. She also learns, after Koralo asks her to find out, that the cats know nothing of an Atlantean. The pumas agree to allow the characters to depart in peace to the northeast. The player Heroes move off at a slow, relaxed pace.
The player Heroes travel onwards, and the forest gives way to meadows with copses of woods and shrubs scattered about. Dubaku spots something in the distance, and looking in that direction, Koralo spots what appears to be a human being hanging from an oak tree at the edge of a copse. Dubaku worries that it is an Arac marker of territory, but then he and the other Heroes head for the tree regardless, despite Alethea's misgivings. As the Heroes arrive on the scene, they see that the marker is actually a human effigy with a spider mask. Tired, Orabela leans against the tree, while the rest of the Heroes discuss what they should do. Alethea spots the abandoned fire pit some 10 metres into the copse, and she checks it out. The fire pit is old, at least a week old, but has remains of ash and there is some old blood on the stones surrounding the pit. Meanwhile, Orabela decides to go in search of wood for the fire, but she rebuffs Koralo's offer of assistance, the scavenger not getting the message that she doesn't trust him. She gets out of him that he's a scavenger, and asks him why he hasn't tried to convince the others to go to one of the ruins and try their luck. Koralo tells her that he doesn't know how to broach the subject. Meanwhile, Alethea and Dubaku talk. He tells her that there is no way to skirt around the Arac territory; they claim all of Galacea, and the Heroes would have to have chosen to sail from Tharshesh. They talk about the fact that she has the orichalcum rod, and Dubaku tells her he's known about it for some time, but he doesn't want it.
Orabela tells the others at Alethea's prodding that she has figured out the safest, most defensible way of going through the Arac territory, but there are no guarantees. Koralo discusses returning to the site of the giant spider attack to search for his Atlantean employer, Parissma, and while Orabela is inclined to go along for the adventure of it all, Alethea is suspicious. Dubaku confirms Alethea's suspicions that the Atlantean sorceress is nearby, and sure enough one of the nearby trees morphs into the beautiful Atlantean. She treats the Heroes in a disdainful manner, as they mean nothing to her, including Koralo, whom she dismisses outright, and refuses to pay him. With a warning to Alethea not to rely on the scavenger, the sorceress moves off and disappears through a gateway she seemingly conjures from nothing.
Koralo attempts to convince the Heroes to let him accompany them, and tells them he's a scavenger and tries to entice them into going with him to a set of the Arac ruins. Orabela is more interested in their own quest, and refuses, and Alethea and Dubaku are inclined to agree. The Heroes set off on the northward course that Orabela had harlier mapped out for herself in the Arac terrain, and the group sets off.
They arrive near a set of cairns, and spot what appears to be a large, 15 cms. long, 12-legged mottled blue spider [a corpse spider] emerging from the cairn. Avoiding it, the Heroes come upon a set of ruins, the low grasses containing serpentine trails that Orabela carefully avoids, using the long stick she's been carrying for this purpose. Consulting on the matter, the Heroes decide to go around the ruins, Orabela leading the way. The player Heroes are ambushed by the Arac, who emerge from the ruins with a blood-curdling cry, and Alethea, Dubaku, and Koralo are caught in the sticky nets of spider webbing thrown by the Arac, only Orabela avoiding them due to her agility. She vanishes into the grass.
Koralo talks with the Arac in the Alban tongue, who ask the Hero questions and assess the characters. Koralo's attempts to talk with them falls short, as they know who and what he is, and Alethea changes things up addressing them in Tharshi. She tells them that they are trying to pass through the Arac territory and mean them and the ruins they are pledged to protect no harm. The Arac leader declares that if they offer a gift to their god, Anansi (the Trickster), they will be allowed to pass. [All the while, the nets tighten on the Heroes, inflicting 2 points of damage.] Alethea offers them the rod of orichalcum that she possesses [the remains of the Talisman of Koracq] in exchange for their safe passage, asking in return they do not allow it to fall into the hands of others. However, there are trust issues, but eventually a deal is struck. Orabela emerges from the vegetation as part of the deal, reluctantly. As she hands over the orichalcum rod, Alethea notices that it has grown somewhat; the Arac explain that the rod is becoming "what it is" again. All the more reason to dispose of it properly, Alethea says. The Arac warn the Heroes that while they are granting them safe passage, other Arac may not be so obliging. They tell the Heroes that there is a human village, Byrkas, some 2 days to the northwest. The Heroes are warned that if they reveal the truths they've learned of the Arac to others, "Anansi will play a final trick" upon them. Bidding them farewell, the Arac disappear back into the ruins.
As the player Heroes are freed, Alethea shoves Koralo hard up against a tree. She reinforces the threat made by the Arac that if he ever returns to try and obtain the Talisman of Koracq or if he ever reveals the secret of the Arac, she'll kill him herself. She doesn't want to die because of Koralo's big mouth, and doesn't want anyone to harness the Talisman's power after the price that has already been paid for it.
Sunday afternoon's session of Atlantis: The Second Age was one that I certainly enjoyed, and the players seemed to have a decent time of it as well. With Dan's characters not present again, as the player couldn't make it for personal reasons, Tammy and spross were left to their own devices with the two NPCs to do stuff, but this game session was more about character conflicts and choices to be made, as well as integrating spross's new character into the mix after his introduction in the previous session. I thought the game session went well enough, and I can now start to focus the player characters on what their quest is and to get back on that. If I have one problem with the game at this point, it's the coming and going of Dan's character, Gunnarr, as the group dynamic changes when he's playing, and so far the character's not getting a chance to gel with the other players and their characters because he's not be able to make it out.
In any event, I'm looking forward to next week's game session. :)