Grey and three of the children were in the 'computer' room of the extended world of the future exhibit. The kids were engrossed by what amounted to slightly educational video games, but Grey wanted to find Den and the other two kids, so he started wandering out. Two of the kids were in the chemistry room, trying to make things react explosively, but where was Den? Wait, the door at the end of the hall was open a crack, and there were sounds of a commotion outside...
Peeking out, Grey saw a small group of people rushing off to the left, agitated about something. One of them, a sloth, spotted him and wordlessly headed back to check it out, while the others continued on. Grey retreated into the chemistry chamber and waited in ambush.
"Hello, is anyone there?" *leap* *strangle* "Grrk... please, there's no need for violence..." *thud*
Once she was unconscious, Grey told the kids that they'd all been kidnapped, and they hid under a sink. Spotting a strange device in the woman's hand, he took it over to the computer kids and asked them if they could figure it out. One of them managed to figure out how to play games on it, but Grey suspected that wasn't its only purpose.
Still, he had to go find Den. He managed to sneak over northwards and hide while listening to a stripey doctor talk to a feathery mouse about Den, who was unconscious on a gurney. Basically, they didn't know what was wrong with him. "He collapsed as soon as he touched the director! But I don't see anything wrong with him..." The doctor's snake was similarly confused.
Of course, the room had other stuff in it -- for instance, what was obviously a portal, inactive, at the southern end of the room, and assorted equipment on racks. Spotting the portal, Grey returned to get the kids and get out of there.
Unfortunately, a cat had found the unconscious sloth and was waiting for some interloper to return to the scene of the crime! Grey and the cat both had poison-scratch claws, but the cat was a lot smaller, and passed out first. Grey gathered up the kids, and they headed to the portal room. Another cat followed them, but didn't immediately attack...
Examining the portal revealed that it was apparently portal number 'two', judging by the writing on the circular column it was set into, that looked like it could be rotated by some mechanism somewhere. There wasn't any obvious way to activate it, though -- until they turned around from their futile investigation of it to see the apparently unoccupied control room overlooking the portal room, up on the second floor. Grey took the kid who'd seemed best with computers, and they ran upstairs to the control room.
"It says portal three is active," the kid said. "And that it's been active for a long time now. I bet that's the one we came in through." Grey asked him to activate portal two instead, or rotate the column, but the kid wasn't sure how to do either of those. He messed around with the menus a bit, getting lots of error messages but failing to really screw things up, until Grey decided they'd just have to go find portal three.
As they were leaving the control room, they saw through the window that a bright pink security guard was holding the other three kids at gunpoint. So they headed downstairs *quickly*.
The security guard tried to place Grey under arrest, for causing a disturbance. Grey counter-accused her of being a kidnapper. She argued that they were rescuing the kids from a pathetic, hopeless existance as barbaric animal-worshippers, and that they'd be given a real education and placed with foster families. "Besides, since you're not their parent or guardian, you have no say in this matter."
So of course it came to a fight. Grey got shot, but the security guard didn't have a *real* weapon, just stun-needlers that didn't stun him enough to keep him from injecting her with hallucinogens. As she started firing on the cats who'd come to help her, Grey grabbed the kids and ran off back to the slide they'd originally gone down. They climbed back up and piled through the portal, returning to...
Well, not to the village, exactly. They were in a room. Grey, coming through last carrying Den, found himself held at gunpoint by the panda-guy from the carnival, while two of the silent black cat-folk held a drugged-out Zedd, and the kids scattered and hid and eventually got clean away. In cages along one wall were the elder gods from the freak show, and Gower.
The panda was really angry, at Grey and Zedd both, for ruining his plans -- Grey by saving the children, Zedd by causing enough trouble that he'd had to take too many of his people to capture him and the other drugged-out villagers had gotten free and started burning down the village. So he forced Grey to lock himself in a cage, had his minions lock Zedd and Den in another cage, and then left to go to the front of the vehicle and start it moving.
Grey decided to see if he could use his god-hacking to convince the obviously already mind-controlled Gower to leave his cage and escape. It took a few tries, but eventually Gower got out of the cage (somehow) and started wandering around the room, towards the door. The two silent guards who'd been left in the room tried to restrain him, but Grey ordered Gower to stop them...
Gower was a very *big* dog. Not an elder god, but not your run of the mill dog-god either. He made short work of the two guards, killing them both before Grey could order him to leave them alive (since it took Grey a lot of tries -- Gower was a tad out of his league). At which point Zedd (who'd recovered from the drugs by this point) teleported out of his cage to search them for keys. He didn't find keys, but did find the devices (little black ovoids) that made them silent. Using those, they pried open some of the cages, freeing Den and Grey (actually, Gower freed Grey, but only when no one was looking) and the elder rat-god, who started eating the dead guards.
Then, taking the silence thingies and a couple other trinkets from the boxes of trinkets hidden behind the now-deactivated portal, they followed the kids out of the slowly moving vehicle, and headed back to the village, following the large trail the giant 'wagon' had made through the forbidden forest.
The village was in disarray, but they weren't the only two villagers with their heads about them -- not *everyone* had gone to the show. They managed to put out of the fires, and keep the crazies from hurting each other, and by morning most everything was under control. The people who'd been drugged were still out of it (hung over instead of hallucinating, at least), and only a few buildings were destroyed -- burned down or crushed by the tank as the panda drove it out of the village in as much of a hurry as it could manage.
Some people suggested chasing down the carnival to pay them back for all they'd done to the village, but no one really wanted to risk going into the forbidden forest, especially when some of the animals in it were likely very angry about their homes being crushed. "Leave them to the giant cat of the mountains."
So the next major thing that happened was when Zedd and Grey, as the 'heroes who'd rescued the children' (ignoring Zedd's protests that he'd had nothing to do with that, since he was the 'god child' and obviously responsible for everything good), were selected for the vital mission of escorting the blacksmith and his family out to the old mine, that needed to be reopened to keep the village in good repair, since they apparently wouldn't be visited by the normal trader this year.
The blacksmith insisted on taking his son (Den) with them, since the healer insisted he could wake up at any moment, and they'd probably be gone for a month or more if things went well. Mining and smelting wasn't exactly a fast process, and everything would probably have to be repaired after so many years -- the only person in the village who'd even been to the mine before was the blacksmith, as a kid, when his father had taken him there to show him how everything worked. He thought he remembered how to do it...
Since Den was going, one of the village healers went with them just in case. So the six of them set out, with the healer's snake and one of the village's less respected dogs, to mark the mine as human territory when they got there.
The mine was supposed to be easy to find -- just follow the river upstream, using the nearby cave to get to the top of the cliff when they hit the waterfall. Simple! And it started out well, with nice enough weather and no interference from dangerous animals, until they suddenly ran out of river.
But Zedd and Grey had enough woodcraft to keep following the now-dry riverbed, and to recognize the place that would have been a waterfall, and to find the cave, and to spot the signs of the bear inside before waking it up. Zedd teleported to the top of the cliff and (after far too many tries) dropped a rope, for the rest to climb or be hauled up. From there, it wasn't long to the mine itself.
The mine wasn't in that bad shape, considering. Everything that wasn't nailed down had been stolen by rats and squirrels, but the watermill-run generator was still in one piece, as was the smelter, and the mine hadn't collapsed or anything. Of course, the mine's lift and the smelter weren't about to work without power, and the watermill wasn't going to provide any power without, you know, water. And, after Grey decided to try turning the wheel by hand, without replacing some rusted out gears. Not a problem for the blacksmith, since there was a forge in the smelter building. All he needed was to bake some wood into charcoal [I think what you actually use in a forge is 'coke' though, but it's a similar idea].
So, water and wood. There *used* to be a forest surrounding the mine, and a river running past it, but right now both were sort of mysteriously missing. Mysterious mostly because the village was downstream, and still had water.
It was getting dark, so they decided to spend the night in the watermill. Until they discovered the wolverine nesting inside -- then they decided to spend the night in the smelter.
The next morning, Zedd, Grey, and the blacksmith headed upstream to see what had happened to the water. There was another waterfall, but this one had a switchback path up the cliff next to it, so it wasn't a real barrier. A bit past that they found where the riverbed ended in a massive dam, with four otters -- the gods responsible for 'managing lakes and streams' -- playing around atop it.
One of the otters came down to play with them, and Grey hacked it and told it to tear down the damn. Unfortunately, the other otters repaired all the damage it did, and eventually distracted it into playing (he hadn't gotten it very thoroughly controlled, so it was easy to distract).
"Just get all the otters," Zedd suggested. So Grey climbed up to do that, crawling out onto the top of the dam to get close enough...
Wow, there were a lot of animals doing all sorts of weird things up there -- the lake stretched back inside the mountain, where the gods had hollowed out some sort of chamber, with glowy things inside... but Grey was focused on his task, and ignored the other animals as he went out on the dam, after the otters.
Oops! It was a beaver-dam, of course, made of sticks and mud, and most definately not designed to support Grey's weight in addition to the whole lake behind it. It collapsed, washing him downstream, towards the waterfall... Grey was bashed and bruised by the sticks and logs, but Zedd managed to teleport ahead of him and throw him a rope, pulling him to shore.
Of course, ruining the dam pissed off the nearby cougar who'd already been watching them as soon as Grey showed his head above the level of the dam. As they ran back towards the mine, the cougar jumped on Grey's back, pinning him down and mauling him. Zedd threw rocks at the big cat, whacking it in the head and forcing it to jump off Grey, at which point it decided to chase after Zedd instead.
At which point he teleported 'away', ending up some distance behind it and to the side. The cat didn't know where he'd gone, and instead chased down the blacksmith, who was still running straight away from it... but the blacksmith had his sledgehammer with him (he'd intended to use it to clear away whatever was blocking the river) and knew how to fight with it, and the two of them traded blows until the still-very-wounded Grey managed to catch up and scratch the cat, which in its weakened state was knocked unconscious.
Then they all ran back to the mine, where the healer and his snake tended to the deep slashes the cougar had given them. At least the cougar wasn't poisonous.
The river was flowing again, now, although it was sort of clogged up with sticks and logs -- which had done some damage to the waterwheel, although it would probably still work, and might be repairable. One of the otters was already at work pulling the logs out of the stream, which was convienient since they needed the wood. Zedd and the blacksmith started a large bonfire to make fuel for the forge.
And then a hawk flew overhead, and it started raining. A LOT. Everyone went inside, and spent a miserable day huddled in the smelter, dodging centipedes and watching their fire eventually die out.
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Murdock took Snowwy home... and both of them forgot to take their leftovers from dinner with them. I'm not sure what to do with them... there isn't much left, so it hardly seems worth going to any trouble to retrieve it, but we all paid for our own meal so I can't just claim them and eat them myself. Even if I warned people I'd do that if they forgot to take it with them. }:)
Maybe I can freeze the stuff? Then it might still be good next week...