Monday, February 8, 2010
The next morning the party takes leave of the dome ruins and Cactoids, traveling first north to Adomaz on the edge of the Red Sands and then up a canyon through the escarpment of the Iridium Plateau up to Fortress Scarlet.
Buzz presents the red metal ring in the form of a nude female shape given to him by the Scarlet Lady and explains that he has intelligence for the Scarlet Lady. The party is told to wait in an unoccupied barrack, aside from Mookla who is sequestered in a giant slug stable. The stable is dark and moist and the mutant of the Slime Lands is enthused as he admires the giant slug.
The rest of the party finds themselves in servicable quarters but find that their door is locked or barred. After much knocking a guard opens a small grate and glares at them. Buzz demands an explanation and is told that the Scarlet Lady is unavailable but that a slave is coming to take the Earth Man's report.
Shortly the door opens revealing a pale, nude Nire Witch clad only in a slave collar. She explains that she will be taking Buzz for a debriefing and leads him away. While the door is open the party sizes up their guards. Two of the perfumed fancy guards of Fortress Scarlet clad in rich silks and ornamental armor are glaring at the party...and one of them is the crested green Vlesh Man that the Earth youth Radar O'Reiley had beat up in a fistfight during the party's previous stay at Fortress Scarlet.
Radar blushes furiously and attempts to nonchalantly hide his face and appear inconspicuous. The door is shut and barred while Buzz is lead away. Once he and the slave are around a corner and away from the guards in a deserted red stone corridor the Nire Witch slave burst into tears and throws her slender ivory arms around his neck.
"Oh please help me! Take me away from this horrible place! I have fallen in love with you! They are so cruel here I need to escape!" she sobs into his chest. Buzz consoles her and, finding her compliant, takes full advantage of the unexpected situation. Afterwards she regains her composure, instructs Buzz that they must behave as if nothing has occured, and takes him to an office with a few bureaucrat slaves and a bored looking fancily garbed guard who begins glaring at Buzz.
The two sit at a desk and the slave readies a pen and wax tablet before questioning Buzz about his intelligence for the Scarlet Lady. Buzz questions the slave, why is he not giving his report directly to the Scarlet Lady as she gave him her token? The slave replies that the Scarlet Lady is currently away from Foretress Scarley on affairs of state. Buzz notices the glaring Vlesh Man guard from their room enter the room and talk to the already present guard, before the two of them leave, both glaring at Buzz. The slave seems unimpressed with the completed report, and she takes him back to his quarters.
On the way, while they are alone, the slave embraces Buzz briefly before asking him what his plan is for her escape. Buzz replies that he considers the Scarlet Lady to be his friends and that he would certainly not betray her by helping one of her slaves escape. The slave seems dejected and Buzz is reunited with his companions in the barrack.
The party is provided with drink and fare and have a restful night on their bunks. Meanwhile Mookla the Reeking Mutant is enjoying the companionship of the giant slug in the stable. The next morning all are roused by the guards and led to the fortress' western exit. On the way Buzz takes an officer aside and explains how the Nire Witch slave was trying to get him tohelp her escape. The guard raises his manicured eyebrows in surprise before thanking Buzz and informing him that the disloyal slave will be impaled.
One out of the fortress and on their Ornith steeds in the dunes of the Rust Desert the adventurers discuss where to next proceed and a decision is made to try and find the abandoned monastery with the treasure in the basement.
The party travels northward into the southern face of the Bornite Mountain range and does indeed find a ruined monastery where they make camp. The next morning they find a narrow staircase descending into a massive underground vault, one side buried in tons of rubble, filled with pallets of corroded, collapsed, decayed matter.
The party wanders the huge underground chamber, prodding at the piles of ancient garbage, for around an hour before one spots an intact metal barrel which is quickly pulled out of the palled of worthless decay.
The barrel seems somewhat heavy and makes jingling sounds when shaken. It is sealed with a gummy black substance. Jedediah pulls out his bowie knife but Rodan shots for him to stops, visions of toxic substances in his mind, but Jedediah pays no heed and begins hacking away at the gummy matter before pulling off the lid revealing a small fortune in gold and silver coins as well as both a shield and a suit of armor composed of an unknown light, tough, opalescent, chitinous material, which both detect as magic when one of the Sorcerers utters the appropriate rune.
The party harvests their loot and makes their way south to the road to Jakay. When they are but a few miles away from Jakay they see a band of fourteen grinning Gnoles waiting alongside the road ahead. Dickie Dee immediately takes one of the robotic calcium bombs out of his pouch, instructs it in computer, and the tiny silver sphere disappears...