Due to a slight scheduling conflict, events were altered retroactively.
The trade road leading away from the cliff base is roughly 20 feet wide and made from blocks of cut and shaped stone. It is old, very, very old, with obvious depressions worn in the blocks from wagon wheels, as well as tufts of growth between the blocks. There is a ‘curb’ of sorts on the edges of the road, and regularly spaced pillars, columns, and stone faces.
The way-station is walled and divided into an open section and one with a roofed barn-like structure. The plaza appears to have been built by the same people, as the stones are the same as well as some of the general architecture. Marcus figures the road is at least as old as Virava but probably wasn’t built by the same people (it’s possible Virava is built on top of an older city.)
While Billy Jo remains behind to take care of the animals, the rest of the PCs investigate the plaza and the strange bio-mechanical lifeforms to be found there. Edward chops open the moth-like corpse of one gunship, while Marcus watches. Vilgerther examines the dead gunship in the corner of the plaza, Cyan sight-sees, Calvin gets bored and takes a nap, and Donovan stands atop the carapace of the crab-like Strider and looks down on the proceedings.
This peaceful scene is interrupted by Vilgerther’s sudden scream and her concerned statement of “Marcus!” As people look up, they see a huge spider crawling menacingly over the gunship corpse! The PCs leap to battle, with Edward leaping from the center of the plaza to land in the middle of the spider, killing it in a spray of goo. However, additional spiders appear and the fight is on! Cyan kills one with a single arrow shot, Edward is bitten (but saved by his armor), and Calvin and Donovan manage to help kill two more. Afterwards, Marcus goes back to his investigations and is firmly told “no” when he asks to either A) take the gunship’s 30mm cannon with him, or B) have Donovan topple a Strider so he can take a closer look at its energy weapon.
After resting at the way-station, the PCs start out down the road the next morning. The trip is mostly uneventful, but it soon becomes apparent that the Jungle layer is very hot and very humid. It rains often, the woolen clothes given to the PCs in Virava are not suitable for the Jungle and there are lots, and lots, and lots of bugs. Rover proudly brings several centipedes back to camp, which wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t 24-36” long. The trees are full of birds and monkeys, while the ground level is inhabited by numerous large animals (all of which are heard by never seen.) The only relief from the heat the the breeze that constantly blows up the road towards Virava. Marcus explains this is due to temperature inversion layers.
One morning, about half-way through their trip (presuming the Jungle level is 500 miles across), a Serpent Person appears in the way-station across the road. He has a woven basket on his back and starts to layout trade goods. His products include masses of colorful feathers, brightly patterned wing cases from beetles, lizard skins, and the like. Watch catches Edward’s attention, however, is the smooth metal case labeled UAC with Union Aerospace written underneath it. A bit of haggling and one Swissgear backpack later and the prize belongs to the PCs. Opening it reveals a .40 caliber pistol, two extra magazines, a small container of medical supplies, some scientific instruments (apparently for measuring air quality, pressure, and temperature), and a personal data assistant.
Cyan took the medical supplies (they include salves for burns, antiseptics, and assorted injectable painkillers), Edward the pistol (which is too rusted to work properly), while Marcus ended up with the instruments and the PDA. After a little work, it came to life, but was so damaged he could only get a little data out of it. He found two emails and two voice mails. They revealed that the owner was one Simon R. Garlick, resident of Mars in the year 2145. He was apparently going to use some sort of portal/teleportation device to travel to some sort of hellish dimension (mention was made of ‘Hell-Knights’ and ‘Imps.’) However, he ended up here instead.
Roughly a week or so later, the PCs arrive at a long bridge spanning a wide, sluggish river. As they approach Edward remakes on it would be a good location for a bandit ambush. No sooner than he makes this comments than a huge 20’+ crocodilian-like reptile bursts out of the undergrowth and grabs one of the pack donkeys in its jaws. As the donkey dies the PCs quickly dispatch the huge creature. Billy Jo spots another and tears off after it. As t he PCs catch their breath, a third reptile explodes out of the jungle, snatching up Edward. Arrows fly, swords swing, spears stab... and the creature... will... not... die. Edward is nearly crushed by the thing’s massive jaws (only his armor saves him) and as the lizard raises its head to gulp him down, Marcus shoots it in the throat with an over-loaded CREW blast.
Afterwards, the PCs manage to skin the two ‘grue’ (the name Edward and Marcus end up giving it), while Billy Jo returns and announces “Didja know them’s good eatin’?” As distasteful as it seems, a quantity of much-need meat is carved from the corpses and the PCs leave before any scavengers arrive.
Finally, after roughly 4 weeks of travel the PCs come to the edge of the Jungle. Donovan can see the lower level from the air (if but dimly) and the air is a bit less humid. The party is greeted by a female Forest Person, who swings down out of the trees on a vine and begs the PCs to come with her to her village. They fertility/harvest festival will be in a day or so, and guests are needed so the village can show off its bounty from the last season. As the Forest Person is dressed only in a scant loincloth and some bits of ornamentation, Calvin is all for it. Marcus is hesitant, until it becomes clear the PCs will be guests and not the menu.
Kaboyo (the Forest Person) also explains that the festival is when the consorts of gods will be chosen. Four men and four women will be selected to travel to ‘heaven’ to live among the gods as their consorts. ‘Heaven’ is apparently at the bottom of a deep crevice in the cliff wall. The PCs are dubious of this claim and ask if any consorts have ever come back, Kaboyo replies “no” with a tone of voice indicate she can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to do such a thing.
1) The spiders were reminiscent of huntsman or wolf spider, albeit with bodies 4-6 long and leg spans of 12-20.’
2) UAC apparently stands for Union Aerospace Corporation.
3) Edward states the huge reptiles that tried to eat him can’t be grues because it’s daylight out. Marcus’s reply is direct and to the point: “Did you see it?”
You’ve met the following people:
Kaboyo the Forest Person: She looks like a green-skinned Farming Person, although her hair is more feathery, her ears are pointed, and her fingers and toes are quite long (the latter are nearly prehensile.) She seems young (60 seasons or so), attractive, and is dressed in just a worked leather loincloth.
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