Episode Ten - Train to Forteth
Episode 10: Train to Forteth (Level 7)
Several times now, Tobias has seen Dythan Mathis. The spirit seems to be growing in power, feeding on residual psionic energy from the monks in the temple and, before they were shrunken and contained, the meteors. As Tobias is falling asleep, Mathis manifests to the psion, offering him power, riches, a healthy body, all that his heart could desire, in return for sharing his body with the spiritual entity. He seems to be interested in Tobias over any other body he could share, because of his unique talent, and the aberrant taint in his blood. Tobias refuses, sensing that this tempting offer may be a preface to a losing himself entirely.
The Nortlythin convoy arrives in Midwell Bridges, and the ambassadorial party is thrown into a flurry of introductions and preparations for the final leg of the journey. The party includes several people of great interest to Ichtaca.
Ambassador Tlánquale Chor is an older man with intricate facial tattoos and a melodic voice. He walks with the help of a cane or on the arm of his hot-headed young charge, Quotal Bolaq.
Quotal Bolaq is the second eldest son of Emperor Icarasl, and a skilled warrior of note. He is prideful, arrogant, impatient, and rash, and immediately scorns Ichtaca for willingly associating with “lesser men”.
Cátzin is a mysterious figure, keeping to the shadows, quiet, business-like, and reserved. Dressed in black hide, with pale skin, dark eyes, and glossy black hair. Ichtaca finds her to be exotic, mysterious, and beautiful. He tries to speak with her, but she seems occupied with other thoughts and isn’t easily impressed.
Spirit Elder Malua Ylote is elderly and wise, with long white hair and a lion cloak with a head, tail, and claws attached. He takes an immediate liking to Ichtaca, and offers him advice on his strange dreams.
Nuslec, the spirit elder’s new apprentice, is an old friend of Ichtaca’s. He was once the Maquetl tribe’s apprentice shaman, and he and Ichtaca grew up together. He later left the tribe to worship duhulatt. He claims the orcs were not what he expected, and has returned to his people, if not his tribe. He and Ichtaca reminisce, but Nuslec seems on edge, guilty about something he isn’t sharing.
The entire party boards the train, where they are met by Duke-Regent Alben Bergeth, the Regent of Trentsmund himself. He is tall and imposing, but his manners are immaculate. He travels with a full complement of Trensmunder soldiers, for the safety of the trip. Duke-regent Bergeth greets them warmly on behalf of the king, and ushers them into a series of spacious train cars, sumptuously furnished for the ambassadorial party and their men. The train ride will take three days. The regent and the ambassadors spend time getting to know each other. Magistrate Viln and Anotros Ciprano seek to establish themselves as religious authorities among the colonial guards. Vash, Tobias, Ichtaca, and Lyda are warily on guard, as the train passes into Wyrgoth, known territory of various tribes of orcs and goblins, who resent colonial incursions in their land. Orc tribes have reportedly attacked or sabotaged the railroad in the last few years.
On the morning of the second day, orc raiders attack the train! Nuslec reveals his true colors, as their ally, when he detonates a series of charges, disabling the braking mechanisms on each car. The train is gaining speed on a long downhill grade, heading towards a curve of track beside a deep ravine. If the adventurers can’t slow the train before it hits that curve, it will derail and plummet into the gorge. They leap into action, clambering onto the roof as orcs ride up alongside the train and fire rifles or climb aboard. Ichtaca immediately recognizes the fraudulent nature of their attackers. A mixture of orcs, half-orcs, and disguised humans, the attackers are no wilderness men, but city-bred mercenaries masquerading as members of the orcish Mohul tribe. He roars in fury, and charges from foe to foe with his axe swinging, trying to reach the trator Nuslec.
Vash fights nearby, keeping the shaman tied down and battering him with his maul. Tobias finds himself separated from his allies, and takes the brunt of a brutal round of enemy fire. Reeling, he sinks to his knees, but Lyda reaches him in time to lay down some covering fire and heal him with psionic magic. The battle is heated, and the warriors struggle both to fend off attackers, but to reach key positions on each car as they fight, trying to repair brakes, at least enough to slow the train, which is gathering speed. Other warriors from the ambassadorial party join in the fight, including dozens of guards, Cátzin, the Eitharmos hunter, and the Silphenites of the Bithrodori caravan. Tobias triggers several of the brakes and rips attackers from the train, flinging them to their deaths with his mind, but things look grim as an attacker knocks him from the train. Lyda screams out as she sees Tobias collide at high speed with a tree and fall into a broken tangle of limbs. She shoots an orc rider out of his saddle and leaps off the train and onto the horse, racing to reach the man she loves. Vash, struggling with Nuslec, is for a moment stunned by a powerful charm, unable to attack. Nuslec leaps onto the drow, sinking greedy fangs into his throat. Seeing his friend assaulted, Ichtaca realizes to his horror that Nuslec is not only a traitor, but a vampire. He flings off a crowding knot of orc attackers, and rushes to Vash’s aid. Together, they take Nuslec down, careful not to kill him. Vash races to repair and engage two of the brakes, and Ichtaca carves up another group of orcs.
New screams rise from the rear of the train, and an inexorable pulling sensation draws Vash’s eyes to the tracks behind them. To his horror, the crystal golem pounds along the track, huger than ever, finally having caught up to them for the third time. The massive construct leaps onto the caboose, crushing it, and begins a steady progression of death as it works its way up the train towards the drow. It crushes car after car as it approaches him, crushing and tossing away the guards and silphenites in its path. Anotros Ciprano turns and runs before it, pelting along the top of the train just before the golem’s charge. Leaving Ichtaca to handle the rest of the orcish mob, Vash whips out the gemstone spear and runs towards the golem, using the angle of the train’s descent to leap high in the air and crash down onto the creature’s head. In a stunning display of deadly accuracy and grace, and a blaze of light and color, Vash drives the spear down through the golem’s face and into its heart. Both it and the spear explode, piercing Vash with shards of jagged crystal and nearly killing him. He manages to catch hold of a railing on the side of the train, clinging to consciousness, and barely avoiding being flung into a tree. The crystal golem and the gems are permanently destroyed.
Lyda, meanwhile, has reached Tobias and revived him. His bones are shattered in multiple places, muscles torn, his body a torturous haze of agony. He reaches out with his mind and guides her healing efforts, augmenting her power as she stops the massive internal bleeding and tries to put his broken bones back in the right places. She cannot heal him all at once, but she can help him hold himself together long enough to stop the train. His bones literally held together by a psionic field, he ignores the pain, levitates onto the horse, and pulls Lyda down in front of him. They race along the tracks, Tobias speeding the horse into near-flight with an impressive display of psionic might to close the gap. He slams brake after brake into place with his mind, slowing the train, but it is not enough.
As Ichtaca tosses the last screaming orc from the train, he notices the beautiful Cátzin’s eyes lingering on him. He leaps onto a crushed car, tearing a steel bar from the wreckage and wedging it into the wheels. Bathed in a screeching shower of sparks, his muscles straining and his hair whipping around him in the wind, he puts on a glistening display of manly might for his audience. To Cátzin’s eyes, he appears to stop the train single-handedly. From the look on her lovely face, the strange warrior is finally impressed with him.
Nuslec isn’t dead, and Cátzin has grudgingly waited to kill him for now, at Ichtaca’s request. The party grimly revives him and interrogates him. He reveals that he became infected with vampirism during an outbreak of the Némelethe in Maricualatan. He was bitten in an alley by a stranger, and left for dead. As the bloodlust rose in him, he sought out his old connections among the orcs, specifically a group of mercenaries who saw his changed nature as a sign of strength. He and the mercenary band were paid by an unknown Trentsmunder to impersonate the Mohul tribe, and to attack the train and the diplomatic convoy. He calls Ichtaca a fool, and a traitor to his own people. Ichtaca beheads his former friend, and Cátzin instructs them to burn the body and spread the ashes in a sunny place.
Repairs to the train begin, and the party will soon be on it’s way again to Forteth.
Rejecting the offer of Chorrom Dythan Mathis: 50 xp
Off the Rails on a Crazy Train Skill Challenge: 1500 xp
Saving Anotros Bartoli Ciprano: 50 xp
Impressing Spirit Elder Malua Ylote: 50 xp
Interrogating Nuslec: 50 xp
Impressing Cátzin: 50 xp
Cinematic storytelling awesomeness: 100 xp
Roleplay with multiple NPC’s: 100 xp
Total XP: 1950, divided by 3 PC’s, is 650 each. Previous cumulative individual total was 10,920, current is 11,570.
Action points are coming for the participants in this week’s epic email!