A tremendous cheer erupts among the townsfolk as the eating contest closes and Hamfast is crowned champion! Afterward, the celebrations begin in earnest; these halffolk are only out done in hospitality by their avarice. They all seem good sports, however, and are happy to pal around with the centaur offering even more food and drink to ply his metabolism. Despite his victory, Hamfast is stuffed so at least Ajax has that over the stout little fellow.
The group is surprisingly enraptured by the story, and they even seem familiar with the characters. They “ooh” and “aww” at all the right moments, and give a cheer at the victory. It quickly becomes apparent to Mars that these half-folk know something of the Roman pantheon, and may even be devotees of some minor member. Their love of food and wine certainly gives a strong indication.
In the chapel William receives a vision of the “black skulls”, he immediately recognizes them as the Coalition from his limited intelligence briefings at Castle Refuge. More disturbing than the CS is a vision of a swarm of locusts designing upon the town and consuming everything, but they are not black skulls, they are golden, angelic locusts, and yet they are hungry and need to feed.
Trading with the half folk is easy, their need is so great that she is able to sell them on a number of things. The only thing they really lack that she cannot provide is weapons. If a battle does occur with the Coalition they will be woefully under prepared, even their magic would be heard pressed to compensate.
Having figured out their religious inclinations Tex has a whole new appreciation for the hamlet. He begins to recognize small religious icons in each home and place. However, it is understated. Unfortunately, the Coalition will have no trouble seeing their worship of alien gods and dependence on magic as reason to level the place, or at least disperse the citizens.
Outside of town Phoenix discovers this hamlet may be more strategically interesting than a single corrupt officer looting booze. The underground operation he knows to be nearby but can’t exactly relocate, indicates the Coalition has long term plans for the area. Long term plans that don’t include the hearty little half-folk. If the group engages the wayward brandy-swindling officer they may bite off more than they can chew.
The sensory experience of Tiny's dazzling show causes everyone to erupt in delight. After he returns to the group the dragon is met with much adulation. In fact, they seem to hold his type in particularly high esteem.
After learning one of his old officers is the lout involved in brandy swindling Caine quickly finds out that these little people have big passions. Embarrassingly he finds himself conflicted between his prejudices and his biology.
Revelry continues until the wee hours of the morning. Surprisingly the little folks seem to have no problem getting up early the next day, eating more, and going about their chores and routines. As the day passes slowly for the team an excited farmer comes rushing into the town, ”ZThey’re coming. Hundreds of them!”
Assuming he means the CS everyone arms themselves and preps for trouble as best they can. However, as the lead elements of the newcomers appears it is quickly apparent that they are a rag-tag bunch. Some mercenary types escort them but the group looks to be displaced people, mainly d-bees, most likely fleeing the Coalition in Minnesota.
The gaggle of refugees stops outside of town and a rider approaches on a motorcycle, her golden armor and bearing signalling her to be a Cyberknight.
Gozbert sighs, ”Those refugees are going to eat through our stores like a swarm of locusts.”
The motorcycle stops and the Cyberknight dismounts approaching the town, ”Greetings,”
she is affable and relaxed despite the huddled masses behind her. ”I am Lady Sarenna Alderbrant of the Tomorrow Legion. We are escorting these refugees to Castle Refuge and require what food and shelter you can bear for a few days before we move on.”
Gozbert is gracious but cautious, ”We will spare what we can but such a group is more people than our small town can support, are the Black Skulls on your heels?”
Lady Sarenna grimaces, ”We have encountered their patrols. To date they have let us be.”
Breathing heavily Gozbert orders the people to prepare meal packages but asks the refugees to stay outside of town. Looking at the heroes of Adventure Inc. the monk is obviously concerned.
”I fear we are on a collision course for disaster. Commander Thurston Gwent is usually appeased with brandy. But if he happens upon us while this lot is here violence may be unavoidable.”