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Savage Al's El Doradoby Terry Bigrigg
The morning is crisp and quiet as the adventurers depart Torre de Manzanas. Some pockets of mist can still be seen in the low-lying pockets of the rolling prairie hills. As the red hued sun rises over the horizon, warmth falls on the skins of the travellers. The tall grass blow slightly in a gently breeze and it is easy for a moment to forget that this great open prairie is rich with perils and dangers.
The majority of the morning passes uneventfully, that is until Nigel's steed, Tempest, manages to stumble into one of the many prairie dog holes that dot the landscape. "Whoa!! Easy big fella." Nigel says to Tempest while patting his neck and reigning him to a stop when the horse stumbles. He dismounts to check the horse's leg and when he finds no damage and notices he isn't limping Nigel looks up and around to the party "It's all right, Tempest here found a prairie dog hole. We're all right." Wesh, having a vast knowledge about horses stops by to offer help, but he too sees that all is well.
The Journey continues with Joben talking Miguel's ear off, wanting to know any and everything about Don Luis that the Dwarf can relate. "Well, we did have an interesting event recently," Miguel begins, "You see, it was on the occasion of the castle's repairs being completed. See, goblinoids had attacked recently and caused much damage to Torre de Manzanas. After the damage was repaired, Don Luis decided it was time to throw a ball in celebration. All the best people in Saragón society were there....myself included of course. I was just listening to a story from a fellow swashbuckler, describing a daring escape....What was it he said...'Discretion is the better part of valour'? I heartily disagree...I can't afford to be discreet...especially about how valiant I am. Anyhow, there came a stranger to the ball, not on the guest list, so I had to stop him before he could enter the great hall. He said his name was Balazar, and that he was an Inheritor and demanded to see Don Luis. Well, I don't like much like getting involved in "Inheritor Business", so I told the man to wait and I would ask if Senor Manzanas would see him. Well, I return to the ball and inform my Lord that there is an Inheritor, who carries the Flame, and he was waiting at the door to see him. No sooner did the words escape my lips than the rude party-crasher had let himself into the ball! Then the fool insults me by calling me 'small one'. Anyhow, he comes in, uninvited and demands that Don Luis give him some Cinnabryl, even suggests that Don Luis can keep his, but should turn over the portions that he hands out to the people of Aranjuez region. Of course Don Luis refused. Then things got really tense. This Balazar chap issued an official challenge. Well, Inheritors have to accept challenges from fellow Inheritors, so my Lord had no choice. Senor Manzanas suggested meeting in the morning to settle things, but Balazar would not wait that long. The party-crasher activated a Legacy and attacked my Lord! Right in his own home, in front of his guests! I could not let this injustice go unchecked, and I am Senior Manzanas' "protection", so I drew my pistol and fired! Well, apparently the Inheritors have problems with pistols, as Balazar, right in front of our eyes, began to twist and deform. He was truly hideous! The thing then proclaimed his hatred for Don Luis and swore vengeance before running like a coward. I don't think that Inheritor will be crashing any more parties."
Just before stopping for lunch, the group stops and looks on in awe as a mighty heard of buffalo moves across the prairie. Seeing the bison Nigel slows up until the wagon pulls alongside "You ever seen so many beasts?" he asks of Señors Joban, Rawdon, and Caesar. "They are like a sea, and one I'd not like to see get angry." Nigel adds the awe evident in his voice. "What a sight! I've seen bison before but not this many at one time." Wesh adds, "Indeed, if they stampede, its bad news for everything breathing in a two mile area. They go absolutely berserk." After letting the ocean of bison pass by, the group selects a place to stop, rest the horses and ponies, and have lunch.
When the party pulls together for its respite, Nigel asks "Wesh have you seen any sign of trouble or watchers? Andre, what's your nose tellin' us?" Wesh shakes his head, "I haven't seen anything to get flustered up about yet," he answers, looking to Andre. "I can smell nothing out of the ordinary, but the scent of that buffalo herd is still heavy in the air. A Yazi could be seated next to me and I might have trouble sniffing him, " Andre jokes. During the small talk over lunch Nigel inquires "Senior Miguel, what can you tell us of these ruins we are heading to or of the Gosluk camp? The more we can prepare for the easier it will be for us to recover the Don' s bracers." Miguel ponders a moment and then answers, "Well, you remember seeing that mask in Senior Manzanas study? That was the Barrier Mask. Its magical properties allowed us to escape the last goblinoid raid with only damage to the castle. Should they return they will surely be in greater numbers. Legends say that these bracers we are to find will increase the masks power ten fold. You see, we are using these artifacts to protect Saragón, and indeed all the Baronies. If the Yazi overrun Saragón, nothing can stop them from raiding the rest of the Baronies after all. Anyhow, these ruins, actually two sets of ruins, is where the bracers are said to be; deep underground in a special chamber surrounded by traps of deadly cunning. Getting to the ruins may be the easy part."
The remainder of the day passes uneventfully and peaceful. The sun begins its descent, causing the sky to turn a pinkish colour. Rolling clouds fly overhead as day turns to dusk. That is when the group of hungry Juhrion lope onto the scene, looking for a meal and not caring who they have to maim to get it. Nigel shouts out a warning while drawing his matara "Hoi! Lookout we got company and they look none to friendly!" he wheels Tempest around to the side of the threat while giving a shrill whistle to attract Wesh's attention, if he hasn't noticed already, but Wesh is riding point a good distance ahead of the wagon and the rest of the group. Nigel closes his hand about his Honourbound medallion and mutters a prayer. Coming around to the wagon Nigel looks at Caesar and Miguel and says, "Look to Senior Rawdon and Joben. André, Arturo work together and see to the other beast I'll take the one on the right. I'll be with you as soon as I can. Be careful people these things look dangerous!" Sliding from his saddle Nigel holds his matara with both hands standing sideways to the beast, with his muzzle pulled back baring his teeth. The beasts look unimpressed as they press forward. The remainder of the party readies themselves for the attack. Wesh rides fast, back towards the area with pistol drawn. Joben, Red Steel mace in hand makes ready to defend the wagon. Caesar, ducking down in the wagon, readies a harpoon and keeps out of sight. André draws his machete and dagger and advances on the beasts. Rawdon begins to dance and chant, readying a spell. The battle begins with Nigel landing a devastating blow on one of the creatures, but the favour is quickly returned with a claw swipe. Nigel leaps back from the beast's attack, but not in time. "Arrghh!!! Foul beast!" grunts Nigel as the thing claws him. He circles warily probing for a weakness, and finding an opening he takes advantage of it to launch another devastating attack. A fan of flames shoot from Rawdon's hands, singing the beast as André too lands strikes on the creature, which, though wounded, looks more determined than ever. Wesh too arrives on the scene adding a pistol shot to the first creature's wounds. It then begins to angrily charge at Nigel. Caesar, being vigilant to what is going on sees the beast charge and decides, "Now or never" as he hurls the harpoon at the beast, killing it just at Nigel's feet. One of the beasts decided this meal is not worth the fight and retreats into the plains. Miguel, having reloaded fires his pistol at the fleeing creature, just to make sure it intends to continue fleeing. The other beast, however, is even more enraged and actually charges the wagon, knocking it, the pony and Caesar over backwards. Joben, in an attempt to loosen the pony from its reins, activates a Duplicate legacy in order to confuse the creature, but to no avail as it viciously bites the halfling before his power can begin. The rest of the party presses their attacks, all unsuccessfully, but for Rawdon. Having activated his Strength legacy, the Tortle landed a mighty wallop on the creature with his quarterstaff. The beast is still coming on strong as Nigel raises his weapon to slash once more, but he loses his grip and the sword flies off to his left.
Joben, having now activated his Duplicate legacy, becomes a real pain for the creature. One halfling, along with Rawdon, move to loosen the pony from the toppled wagon, while the other taunts the bear-like monster. The bear lashes out at Joben, but its claws pass right through .. further enraging the beast. Just then Caesar finds his mark with another hurled harpoon an Miguel stabs the beast with his rapier. Nigel, having drawn his backup weapon presses on with is attack, as does the bear .. clawing Nigel just before he can draw his weapon. Once his weapon is drawn however, Nigel strikes the beast back. The entire group continues the fight until the beast lies dead before them.
The adventurers then begin the process of making sure injuries are bandaged and all is well. The wagon sustained some damage from the bear creatures charge, but apart from the claw marks and bites, the party is no worse for wear. They decide to leave the site of the carnage and camp further away, less some scavenger wanders into their campsite and cause trouble in the night. Once camp is set and watcher are arranged, out band of travellers settles down for their first nights rest in the great wide open space of the prairie.