Mapping the Swamp: The SET takes a few days to explore the area around the clearing, and you get a good idea of the general makeup of the swamp. With a combination of fliers, vehicle scanners, and good old-fashioned scouting, you are able to produce fairly detailed maps of the area. On the third day, you discover a trail wide enough that it could have once passed for a road before it became overgrown.
Kuikku's team (Kuikku, Conrad and Toshiro) scouts the trail on day four, and finds signs that the it has been used by vehicles recently, with the tracks becoming clearer the farther from the clearing they got. As they stop to remove some debris blocking the road, Toshiro gets sidetracked scouting down a trail looking for a way around when he discovers a raptor nest, with brutal results. He returns to the group just as Conrad finishes hauling the last of the major debris out if the way, when the rumble of an ATV can be heard from up ahead.
A moment later, an oversized Big Boss ATV comes roaring around the bend and comes to a hasty stop no more than fifty feet away, its tires kicking up mud as it skids to a halt. A tense moment passes before you hear the driver curse, loudly, and then pop open the door.
A massive Grackle Tooth emerges from the vehicle, nonchalantly carrying a plasma ejector as if it weighed nothing. She’s wearing some of the most elaborate body armor you have ever seen; it is beautiful, but its plates are placed at odd angles and it seems to shift color subtly as the light hits it, forcing you to focus or risk your eyes sliding right past her. She is not wearing a helmet, and her eyes don’t stray from Kuikku as she stands in the road looking somehow poised for action and simultaneously unconcerned.
”I was starting to think they weren’t gonna send anyone else after Wright went back. Sorry, you’d know him as Sir Wright, wouldn’t you? Thought maybe Coake forgot about us down here in the muck when Peter didn’t come back. Folks around here have been real worried, and it’s been getting worse…” she trails off. ”You were sent out here to finish what Peter started, weren’t you? Wait, why wasn’t he sent back with you?”
After a lengthy (and initially confusing) conversation, you learn several things:
- Her name is Ma’arlys and she is a local trapper and hunter.
- There is a town about ten miles up the road.
- Many of the locals are sick with an odd disease that leaves them with painful sores and at least two people have died. The cause of the disease is unknown.
- Peter of Wright, a Cyber-Knight of some renown (according to Ma’arlys), had visited their town on his way through the swamp. He employed Ma’arlys as a guide, and the two of them discovered that a certain plant could help lessen the effects of the disease. She explains that the plant has been picked clean around the town, but can still be found farther out.
- While investigating, Peter and she got into a scrape with a local tribe of eco-wizards and barbarians who were chanting over the corpses of several dead animals and at least one townsperson (almost like some weird cult). The fight was fierce, and the barbarians fell back to the wild. She and Peter tracked the tribe back to the Jungle Castle, but even Peter did not want to go there unless in force. Disturbed by what he had seen, Peter determined he would head north, report back to Lord Coake via one of his connections, and return with help. That was over a month ago.
- She likes to call Conrad “little brother.”
Note: Feel free to role play this and ask any additional questions you may have in your posts.
After their conversation with Ma’arlys, Kuikku and his team head back to the clearing. Ma’arlys has told them to come find her in town, and left an address of where to ask after her. She has a load of the curative plant to return to the townsfolk, but hopes the team can do something more to help.
As they enter the clearing, the now-familiar protective energy washes over them. When it reaches Toshiro who is sitting in the back of the Mountaineer, there is an audible “pop!” and the pressure in the clearing seems to change. The air becomes more muggy and the temperature begins to rise to the level of the rest of the swamp, and the faint cries of dying raptor hatchlings can be heard echoing through the clearing.
A simple success with Knowledge (Arcana) will tell you that the protective spell around the clearing has fallen! Furthermore, Kuikku may make a common knowledge roll with no modifier to recognize the name of Sir Peter. Anyone else who has significant experience with cyber-knights in their backstory may make a roll at -2 (if you were involved in the war at Tolkeen, for example). Finally, anyone who has experience with the swamp in their backstory may make a Common Knowledge roll to know about the Jungle Castle at -2. Anyone with Knowledge History (or something similar) may make a roll with no modifier.
What will you do with your newfound knowledge?
Note that the party begins this next portion of the adventure with all Fatigue recovered and at full ISP/PPE.