After negotiating a truce between Conan and Mihrimah, the PCs start to head Ocean-ward, following the Trade Road towards the Center. The road remains straight as an arrow with Way Stations every half day’s travel or so. The land slowly slopes down and is mostly tall grass with scattered hills, streams, and small copses of trees. As mentioned before, Conan’s army travels on the sunset side of the rode, Mihrimah’s on the sunrise side. The PCs take the road, walking and riding in their cart (which has Marcus’s cold fusion reactor), occasionally accompanied by either Conan or Mihrimah.
The PCs have been on the road for around two weeks and have had the following experiences:
Billy Jo has spent a lot of time with Mihrimah. Unlike most of the rest of the party, he doesn’t find her annoying. In fact, away from Conan, she’s much more rational and reasonable. During post-sex pillow talk he finds out a bit about her former life: she was an academic, a professor of Irish/Celtic history, folklore, and myth. When she arrived in the Well, she was all alone (apparently she woke up strapped into a row of seats, and that was it), stood a foot shorter than she does now and weighed 60-70 pounds (or muscle) less. While wandering the Plains she was picked up by the Lerne, or Plains People, who adopted her into their tribe. In time, she grew in height, strength, and skill, until resembled (in her mind) a warrior maiden in the ancient Celtic traditions. She finds she prefers her new physique and prowess and seems to enjoy life here on the Plains. Billy Jo finds he likes the Lerne a lot, as they seem to share his “Hey, y’all, watch this!” attitude about life.
Calvin spends a lot of time in Conan’s camp. His initial foray resulted in his sneaking into Conan’s harem tent, and spending the night. He discovered Conan keeps eighteen slave girls, or all races and colors, in a state of perpetual nudity. They aren’t allowed out, have little to do, and are apparently perpetually bored (Calvin was the most interesting thing to happen in the tent in months.) Hatching a plan to rescue the girls, he eventually managed to beat Conan during a game of Texas Hold ‘Em, winning two slave girls of his very own (Conan calls them gifts.)
Cyan spends a lot of time with the cart, especially after she meets Ayna, a young Farming Person captured when her city was overrun. Cyan also ends up feeling frustrated as she slowly comes to realize her ability to heal injuries and wounds extends to everyone… but herself.
Donovan spends some time in Conan’s camp. Conan has nightly games, after his army beds down, and invites the PCs. Said games include poker (the aforementioned Texas Hold ‘Em), a variant of chess (and similar boardgames), as well as tactical training in the form of De Bellis Antiquitatis, an Earth miniatures game. Conan apparently had a set of rules in his carry one, and uses the game to teach tactics and experiment with new ideas. Games are played on a sand table using counters. Due to the fast play, it’s very popular among the commanders (poker, meanwhile, has taken off among the troops.)
Edward plays at games as well and finds that while he doesn’t like Conan, he can’t fault the man’s methods. Conan, as mentioned, runs things like he was playing a game of Starcraft or Warcraft. He tries to absorb more than destroy, rewards smart thinking and intelligence, and leads by example. On the other hand, Edward is also sure that Conan’s greatest strengths are also his greatest weaknesses. Since growing into his full size and strength, Conan has been totally unbeatable, and thus is extremely self-confident. His troops are much the same—they may not like him, but they respect him, as he brings them victories. Edward starts to realize that Conan’s sense of infallibility has become akin to Robert E Lee’s at Gettysburg, meaning it’s probably only a matter of time before Conan orders his own version of Pickett’s Charge (provided, of course, there’s someone akin to the Union Army to charge against.)
Marcus also ends up playing games in Conan’s camp. Vilgerthr joins him, as she likes chess (versions were popular back in Fyrkat.) However, his tactical skill collapses when he initially meets Kateena, Conan’s pet tactical genius. She’s exceedingly smart, at least when it comes to games of strategy, and regularly beats Conan’s most able commanders at DBA. After getting over his synapse failure due to Kateena’s looks, Marcus begins to wonder if her skill is akin to Vilgerthr’s knowledge of electronics and the like. Is she absorbing Conan’s own wargaming knowledge by some sort of mental osmosis?
After two weeks and 200+ miles the army finds its passage stopped by the appearance of a Lizard Trooper strike force dug in on a slope before them. To make matters worse, the Troopers are on the far size of a river, which is crossed by a single bridge. In addition, there are a half-dozen gunships hanging in the air, bristling with rapid-fire ion guns. Conan forms his army into a long line, infantry in front, archers behind. Mihrimah does the same, but spreads her troops out more, taking advantage of their quicker movement. Billy Jo joins Mihrimah, while the PCs group loosely around their cart. Donovan takes to the air, Edward starts bounding across the landscape, and Calvin simply walks off into the distance. The battle is joined.
What looked like sure slaughter ends up in a Lizard Trooper rout.
Donovan drops Billy Jo onto one gunship, who then single-handedly wipes out everyone on it. The pilot, panicking, blasts the control panel with his CREW/P sending the gunship spiraling down into the ground. Billy Jo jumps clear, the pilot doesn’t.
Calvin uses his temporal powers to shift himself across the battlefield, finding three huge transports sitting behind the dug in troops. He manages to knife the pilot, but the Lizard Trooper tumbles over the rail and slams into the deck. This alerts the three gunners, who draw their blades and try and eliminate this unexpected threat. But the time the PCs arrive, an exhausted Calvin is sitting in possession of a transport, while three battered (and wounded) Lizard Troopers limp off into the distance.
Cyan stats near the cart, Marcus, and Vilgerthr. She manages to shoot a gunner out of one vessel, kill a pilot, and put an arrow nearly through a second gunship.
Donovan harasses several gunships, at one point yanking a pilot off of the bridge of his vessel and dropping him 20+ meters to the ground. He’s fired upon, but his air-borne agility is such he dodges their shots with ease.
Edward tackles his down gunship, kicking it with such force he manages to knock two gunner off of their vessel. He then lands on it, eliminates the rest of the crew, and blasts the deck apart with his energy rifle.
Marcus remains with his fusion reactor and keeps his weapons trained on any gunships that come near, but doesn’t fire.
Mihrimah leaps onto a gunship as well, and starts to eliminate the crew. It veers back towards the Lizard Trooper lines and is shot out of the sky by concentrated fire. Mihrimah drops into the river, but easily swims/climbs out, none the worse for wear.
Conan remains with his troops, directing fire. The volume of arrows his archers can release actually feathers one gunship, killing several crew and causing it to flee.
When all is said and done, four (or five) gunships are destroyed, two transports escape (carrying all of the ground forces), and the allied army has taken several hundred casualties. Conan, while impressed with the advanced weapons, is amazed at the tactics displayed (or lack there of.) It is explained that the Snakemen have never had anyone threaten them before. They are used to striking swift at small, isolated villages, overwhelming all resistance with their high technology, and then leaving. They don’t have the drive to stand and fight, and tend to withdraw if they take losses. The PCs also consider that people like themselves are wanted because of their powers—thus the Snakemen try to capture outsiders quickly, before their powers manifest This doesn’t explain why Captain Jianee is still around… although its possible she never has exhibited any real ‘powers’ (aside from her height and age) and thus may never have registered on the Snakemen’s ‘radar.’
After the battle, camp is made and the PCs stay for 3-4 days. Macrus effects repairs on the transport (using parts collected from the wrecked gunships.) Conan, for his part, has no interest in the transport. While a huge vessel (it’s 20 meters long) and well-armed, it won’t let him feed, equip, or move his army faster, and thus is little more than a target (one gets the impression he’d like it more if he was still conquering cities.) The PCs quickly adopt it as their new personal vehicle. Calvin names it Winnebago (at least at first) while Edward looks to get a flag made for it.
Conan sends his troops out to scour the battlefield for fallen Troopers and their gear. As he rewards anyone who brings back something, the troops are very through. Conan takes a Lizard Trooper fighting blade as a short sword, while Marcus starts to rework several suits of armor into single cuirass for him. After all repairs are made, the allies get ready to move out. The next stop? The coast and the ocean.
Before the PCs leave, Donovan makes a high-speed flight to Virava, returning with Captain Jiranee and her war gear. Conan is almost instantly smitten with the 6’6” elf, but is utterly confused when she ignores his (somewhat ham-handed) advances and shows a great deal of affection for Calvin (as well as the rest of the PCs.)
1) As mentioned, the allies took around 300-400 casualties from Lizard Trooper strafing runs and scattered shots from the entrenched troopers. Deaths are perhaps 75-125 men, with the rest wounded.
2) Conan has sent his cavalry home, as well as his skirmishers. He’s replaced those numbers with more infantry. He’s also mentioned he’s sent for ships to meet then at the port city of Merikano (this is where the Trade Road ends.) As he currently has around 6-7,000 people in his camp, this will be a series fleet of vessels.
3) The Lizard Trooper transport is 20 meters long, with three rapid-fire ion guns (mounted in the nose and the waist.) It can hold the PCs, their gear, and the reactor with ease. Lockers along the hull and in the deck contain storage space, supplies, and tools.
You’ve met the following people:
Ayna: A violet-skinned Farming Person with lavender hair, she’s quite young (maybe 60 seasons.) A calligrapher and scribe, she’s happy to teach Calvin and Marcus how to write in her language as well as learn how to write in Vilgerthr’s runic script. She’s jittery for a few days as she adjusts to A) life outside, B) clothes, and C) freedom.
Cenanna: A green-skinned Farming Person, she was one of Conan’s slave girls before Calvin won her freedom. A harpist by trade, she’s only around for a few days after being freed. Calvin uses his gambling winnings to purchase her a horse and manages to acquire her a passport that will allow her to travel through checkpoints so she can return home.
Kateena: A red-skinned Farming Person with knee-length reddish-black hair. As mentioned, she’s very, very smart, and an apparent master of games of strategy. Observant PCs will note that she plays Conan the same way she plays games, maneuvering him into granting her (and the rest of the harem) special favors and benefits.
Unnamed Serpent Person: When communication was established with the Center, this individual came on screen and angrily announced “You are failing!” Once he realized how bad his troops had failed, he broke the connection.
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