The Journey of the Mound Lord's Heir

Entry #6
Flight by night

After binding the Prince firmly with a skein of Ranid‘s spider-silk rope, the players bandage his wounds and debate what is to be done with him, asking pointed questions of Lu, whom they feel (and rightly so) that he has been keeping information from them. Lu defends his and the Mound Lord’s decision to keep such a dangerous secret: they didn’t anticipate it would be an issue. They were supposed to meet Wades-In-The-Shallows, a famed medicine man when they arrived in Skannayutenate, who would then quickly and discreetly heal the prince’s condition. No one would need to know, no rumors might leak out which could damage the Prince’s political future, and no angry mobs would try to kill the Prince or his escort for intentionally bringing an infected person into a major Iroquois settlement (which might, from the wrong perspective, be seen as an act of war on Cahokia’s part). After all, as that Franklin fellow recently wrote in his famous book of maxims, “Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.”

They decide that since the Prince is going to remain in werewolf form until dawn, bringing him back to Skannayutenate, would be a bad idea. They elect to set up camp where they stand, wait for dawn, and then set off after this Wades-In-The-Shallows fellow. Hopefully, they’ll be able to catch up with him before he gets too far. Lu takes first watch, Ranid the second, but while handing off the Tanaraq, they hear a noise and notice that a dark figure is bent over the prince, sawing at his bonds with a large knife. The players cry out, and the interloper whirls to face them, glaring at them down a long, lupine snout. Another werewolf!

The thief shouts something at then in Iroquois, which they do not understand, then howls: a half-dozen howls answer back, from three directions. The players have only a single surprise round before the other lycanthropes arrive, and it quickly becomes clear that, although they were able to badly injure the thief, they will probably not be a match for the full pack. They start looking for an exit.

Takoda dashes towards the river and summons a temporary magical canoe, in which Lu places the Prince’s unconscious body. Takoda and Tanaraq jump with him, while Xiang and Chang mount Xiang’s pet bison, running alongside the canoe on the riverbank. Ranid throws a waterproof poncho over his guns and powder and simply leaps into the river, preferring to swim (given his waterborn heritage as one of the Touched). But there’s not enough room in the canoe or on the bison for Lu!

Thinking deeply for a moment, Lu says that there’s no way they’ll get away from that many werewolves, who likely know the lay of the land better than they do. He bravely offers to stay behind and hold them at the riverbank while the others make their escape. Bidding a teary-eyed goodbye to his young charge, the red-furred Sasquatch turns, sounds a barbaric yawp, he raises his dire staff and charges into the fray. The sounds of battle fade into the strangely-peaceful sounds of night-insects as the players round the next river-bend.

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Entry #5
A battle ensues, and the Prince is subdued

Chang leaps away from the newly-transformed Prince Cadogah’s initial bite, and the battle begins. Angered at being cheated of his mouthful of fox-flesh, but still possessing some of his human cunning, the beast pulls out a stone-headed war club and swings at Chang, barely missing. As the other party-members arrive, Chang flees into the woods (secretly returning to human form and bringing up the rear behind his comrades, as if he had followed them the entire way).

Lu recognizes the Prince by his clothing, and makes a hasty explanation to the other party-members that this is their charge, and not a mere mad beast. He attempts to reason with the Prince while fending off the boy’s attacks with his dire staff, but meets with no success. Ranid tries his best to recall if there’s anything that can be used to bring lycanthropes to their senses: he (incorrectly) remembers that singing is the surest way to calm the savage beast, and immediately launches into a round of Dutch folk-songs, to no effect.

Thanks to a lucky shot, the Prince somehow slips past Lu’s defenses and knocks the red-furred Sasquatch out cold, and immediately turns his attentions on the next biggest threats: the rest of the party members. Realizing that the prince’s magical armor (a gift from his father) combined with his lycanthropic damage resistance makes him very difficult to damage, the players scramble into the trees to avoid him (as Chang had already done when they weren’t looking).

Wearing the Prince down from both above and below (with Mr. Bear’s help and a few well-placed silver bullets, and later on, with the help of a reawakened Lu), the players eventually do enough damage to render the Prince unconscious (though it remains to be seen whether they can stabilize him and prevent his death from blood loss).

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Entry #4
In which two journeys occur

Satisfied with the party’s performance in the arena, Lord Many-Earrings congratulates them on their victory, and ushers them towards the Link site. Their last chance to catch a connection to Skannayutenate, the Iroquois capitol, will occur in a matter of minutes. As they walk, the Mound Lord explains a bit of the itinerary for the summit, has his healers attend to their bruises, gives them a little wampum to pay their way on their return journey, and gives each of them a small amulet: a white disc of mother-of-pearl on a string of beads, which he says will protect them from the curse of lycanthropy. When the party expresses surprise, he mentions casually that werewolves are somewhat common where they’re going. There’s been an outbreak recently, but it shouldn’t cause them too much trouble.

The party passes through the Link, and arrives in Skannayutenate, the capitol (though not the largest city) of the Iroquois League. Prince Cadogah retired to his chambers at the local inn to practice his speech, while Content Not Found: null stands guard over him, and the other party members make preparations, purchasing silver weapons to fend off lycanthropes, scanning the perimeter to ensure security, and gathering information. In doing so, Xiang learns two interesting things: that several Europeans have shown up to observe the conference on behalf of foreign kings with an interest in trade with and between Native nations; and also that a pack of werewolves has moved into the area, and has been attacking stragglers after dark (this may or may not be connected to an outbreak of lycanthropy in Montreál, Quebec.

Returning to the inn, the players find Lu in a state of agitation, flipping over tables and demanding to know who last saw the Prince. The youth has vanished, just hours before the conference was set to begin, leaving only a note which read “I will return. Do not follow me.” A watchman says that he saw a foreign-looking youth walk hurriedly into the woods after using the latrines, but thought nothing of it at the time.

Despie the approach of dusk, the party sets out to follow the Prince’s trail, heading north. Tanaraq sends Nukka, her golden eagle companion, to scout ahead before the light fails. They learn the boy is barely a mile ahead of them, but running like a deer from dogs. Chang intentionally falls behind and takes fox-form, unbeknownst to the other party members (who aren’t even aware that he’s anything but human), and races ahead to intercept the Prince on his own.

Chang cuts the boy off and begins to speak to him, urging the boy to stop running. Surprised, Prince Cadogah tells the strange fox to run, and get away from him as quickly as he can.

“Why?”, asks Chang.

That’s why,” says the Prince, pointing to the full moon which has just emerged from behind a bank of clouds. Snarling and spasming, the boy begins to shift, before Chang’s shocked eyes, into a full-grown werewolf.

A quarter-mile behind, the other party members hear the silence rent by an unearthly howl.

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Entry #3
The exhibition match

Taking place on a Mesovespuccian-stlye I-shaped ball court, the match commences: the party squares off against Lu (armed with a dire staff, a massive two-handed rod the size of a small tree) and three Cahokian footsoldiers (armed with ironwood muskets and hunting knives).

The field of play is enchanted for the duration of the match, so that all damage dealt within its boundaries is converted to nonlethal.

Although Takoda suffers a fairly close call, the party emerges victorious over Lu and the soldiers, earning the Mound Lord’s respect.

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Entry #2
The heads are defeted, and an offer of employment is made

With the chon-chons soundly defeated (and an exploding keg of black powder narrowly avoided), Lu the Sasquatch compliments the players on their skill in battle, and suggests that, if they have no other constraints on their time, that his employer (a major Mound Lord) is looking for some hired muscle, and is willing to pay quite handsomely for it. The players agree to hear the man out, and follow Lu to the top of one of the larger mound-complexes.

After a short time (and some more in-depth introductions), Lord Many-Earrings appears. He says that he needs a band of adventurers to provides security for his son, Prince Caddogah, who will shortly be attending a major trade conference on his father’s behalf, acting ad his proxy.

The Prince cannot afford to miss the Link, even if his hired escorts have not arrived yet. They need someone to escort him, and Lu says that the players fight well together. The Mound Lord believes him, but asks for a small “exhibition match” against Lu and a few of his soldiers, so that he may see their prowess with his own eyes. The players consent, and the match begins immediately.

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Lu (Thaddeus)
Smash

Smash head things with staff. Strange people kill them too. One kill real good with kicks and spins. Tiny one have bear. Want to smash bear too, but bear not bad, but good. Another shot with gun, and head thing explode real good. Saw magic light. Don’t know what was that.

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Takoda (Tim)

Finally arrived at the big big city. So many people all running around, I need to be careful or I’ll get squashed like a tiny tiny bug. I put Mr. Bear away for a while because people were kinda scared of him, even though he’s a nice nice spirit. But now that I’m here, there are so many other strange creatures, that I think he’d be ok, and he can carry me around so I don’t get smushy wushied.

Just heard some scary wary screaming by the docks. Somone yelling for help help, so maybe me and Mr. Bear can do something. Just need to make sure I don’t get trampled wampled.

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Tǔyào

Well. This is going to be an interesting experience.

Flying heads. Frogmen. Screaming little men.

I trust the Empress will enjoy the change in my reports from ‘saw a field, it had natives and animals in it’.

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Cahokia, the City of the Sun
The players arrive, and an adventure begins.

The sun is high and hot in a cloudless, brilliantly-blue sky. Rowed by six stout men, your canoe skims across the surface of the river like an enormous, many-legged dragonfly. The pace of their rowing-song is quickening, for they know that their long and arduous journey is almost at an end. You saw the first smoke from the city’s cookfires about midday yesterday, and beached your craft last night by the furthest of the maize fields which surround Cahokia, the City of the Sun. Only now, after several hours of paddling, do the red-tiled roofs of her highest palaces come into view.

Behind the fence of an ironwood palisade more than 40 feet tall rise a succession of earthen mounds: man-made mountains rising as high as a hundred-and fifty feet above the vast immensity of the Great Plains.

Even from here, at the edge of the city proper, the sounds of humanity are surprisingly loud. Today, like every day in Cahokia, is a market-day. Traders arrive from all across Turtle Island to hawk their wares here in the shadow of the Great Mounds, bringing seashells from the Gulf of Aztatlan; copper and strings of delicate purple wampum from the Great Lakes; porcelain and jade figurines from Fusang; obsidian daggers and featherwork shields from Aztatlan and Mayalatolli; indigo dye and masterwork rifles from Columbia; sugar and rum from Nueva Espana and the Caribbean; mother-of-pearl earrings and bentwood boxes from the Pacific Coast; ivory carvings and scrimshaw from the land of the northern giants; quillwork robes and beaded moccasins; and horses from the broker-tribes of the Great Plains.

Darting like dragonflies between each other and the larger river-barges , your canoe makes its way to the wharfs along the riverfront, in the shadow of the granaries and the warehouses. Above the crowd, merchants sway in the seats of their sedan-chairs, carried by strong young men in rich liveries. Here and there, you catch glimpses of especially fine sedans with glass windows and silken curtains, emblazoned with the Seal of the Great Sun: a Mound Lord checking on his investments!

The players arrive in Cahokia, City of the Sun, via their separate routes along the Missouri, Illinois, and Mississippi rivers. Disembarking from their respective crafts as they dock along the wharves, they each take a moment to stretch their legs, pay their fares, and take in the sights and sounds (and smells) of the greatest city in the continent of Vespuccia.

Nearby someone shouts a warning, and a porter stumbles to his knees. His comrades lose their grip on the ventilated wooden crate they were carrying, and it smashes open on the docks, spilling what appear to be half a dozen flying human heads onto the crowded wharves. Women scream, and men scramble to get away from the monstrosities, while others call for help.

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