The thought of assaulting the heavily armed village of peaceful scholars with Grey still out of commission was not very appealing, especially when the only point would be to rescue someone they didn't really like who might not even have been taken captive and probably wouldn't be that badly treated even if he had been (since he wasn't the chosen one they so feared).
So before committing to that course of action, they decided to follow the tracks of the chase to see if Nicholai had actually been taken. It turned out that he'd escaped from the mob by falling off a cliff. A pretty high cliff. Zedd bamfed down, searched around and found him, alive but badly hurt. He brought the crazy weasel back up, and they tied him to the horse (which was still dragging the conscious but mostly out-of-it [at -4s] Grey on a travois).
Then they heard the wolves. The first pack was far in the distance, but a second pack answered, from much closer. So they ran away! They were able to keep ahead of the wolves, just barely... or perhaps the wolves were simply pacing them, waiting for them to tire...
Eventually, Alex was the weak link. The others were either riding the horse or teleporting, but he was running under his own power and around dawn just couldn't keep going. He collapsed, leaving Zedd and Bella to wonder why the horse-group wasn't catching up to their latest teleport.
While they waited, they noticed a blue ribbon tied to a hollow tree. Zedd saw a raccoon wearing robes like the ones from the village in the tree tying the ribbon briefly before it vanished, and figured it was the villagers marking their location for the wolves -- so he took the ribbon and tied it to a different tree. Then they teleported back to see what was holding up the horse group.
About that time, the wolves appeared right behind them, and started charging. Zedd and then (after he proved completely imcompetent with it) Den used the shoulder-mounted bomb-pumped super-laser (xaser, maser, whatever) to spook a couple of wolves off the chase, while Belladonna impeded their movement with entangling underbrush and Grey tried to hack them into breaking off the assault when they got close enough. Two of the wolves were scared off, one incinerated, and two convinced to leave, but that left two to maul Bella, including the gigantic pack leader. She was badly hurt, and fell unconscious.
To save her, Zedd ran over and teleported off with her -- and the remaining wolves chased after them, somehow knowing exactly where their prey (Bella) was despite the sudden distance. Zedd had no trouble keeping that distance, and even widening it, though, and eventually he teleported all the way back to Alma, a little magically sore but unharmed. He dropped Bella off at the healers', where they were both immediately arrested for horse theft.
Den, Grey, Nicholai, and Alex, with the horse, were left alone in the middle of the woods. Circling around the mountain was kind of the long way around, but it was preferable to the alternative of going right past the now-hostile village. Den spotted a raccoon in a tree, much like Zedd had, but he also noticed a slight draft coming from the hollow tree that the raccoon had vanished into, and decided to jump inside after it. It proved to be a teleport gate to a spot near the mine, as he discovered after following the trail of blue ribbons that led off the from the tunnel the gate opened into. From the mine, it was a day's run home, so off he went.
Den wasn't arrested right away. He pawned a pistol he'd stolen from the creepy village, and used the money to buy all sorts of new clothing and jewelry, and a custom shell-job from a visiting artist... while he was being painted, the Sherriff walked right in, but didn't recognize him. Den tried to embarass the arrogant porcupine by tying his shoelaces together, but the sherriff managed to untie them without looking foolish.
At the end of the day, he discovered Zedd and Belladonna's fate -- locked up in a cage in the middle of town with the 'heroes' from Beantown -- and knew that the ancient penalty for horse theft was death. It was pretty obvious that they weren't planning to execute them any time soon, at least.
There were three dogs guarding the cage, including Gower, all projecting anti-teleport fields. Of course, the combined field still wasn't strong enough to stop Zedd from teleporting out if he really wanted to, but he didn't really care. He was tired and needed rest anyway...
They got a lot of rest over the next two days, while they waited for Grey and the others to slowly make it back to town at normal speed. Den had a run in with a friend of his who'd gone through the portal with him, and currently had possession of the cell phone one of the other kids had brought back. She was playing a 'video game' on it that Den recognized as someone on the other end sending back text messages and pretending to be a robot.
He also regularly went to visit the prisoners to talk to them and ask Belladonna if she'd sensed Grey and the horse getting close yet. He checked often enough that he would have had time to go warn them about the situation in the village, if they hadn't happened to arrive in the middle of the night.
Luckily, it was the middle of the night, and basically no one was awake. The cats were keeping a lookout, but they were just ordinary village housecats, and Grey was able to jedi mind trick them. 'These are not the horse thieves you're looking for.' He took Nicholai to the healer, who was aghast at Grey for coming back with such serious charges pending. He told Grey that he wouldn't volunteer any information, but that if anyone asked him whether he'd seen Grey and the others he'd feel honor bound to tell the truth.
So, they decided that it was important to make a break for it that night. Grey slept the two lesser guard dogs, while Alex threw a bag of hot pepper in Gower's face, blinding and nose-blinding him. With the field down, Zedd teleported the padlock holding the gate shut away, and the lot of them ran off to... well, to Den's house first of all, to retrieve him.
That done, they decided to go get the horse back -- doing that would strand the sherriff in the town, and let them travel relatively unharmed through the wilderness. Den had a better idea, though -- if they 'took out' the sherriff, there'd be nobody to impose the new village order, and things could return to normal with them being heroes instead of fugitives. "After all, the oracle said he had no *real* authority..."
Jenna, one of the 'heroes' of Beantown, was eager to get revenge for the thumping she'd taken at the Sherrif's hands -- apparently, she'd lost an eye in the fight. Orson and Kerry went along with her, along with four random goers they'd recruited for the militia before the Sherriff had had them all arrested.
So the huge mob charged the makeshift fort the Sherriff had built against the back wall of the town hall, and quickly overwhelmed the poorly-trained defenders. The guards did manage to alert the sherriff himself, though, and soon he was out there, firing taser bolts willy-nilly into the melee.
For a while he actually looked like he might manage to hold off the lot of them, dodging all attacks without a scratch while taking down Grey (Grey just had no luck). But then Jenna finished off the guard she'd been working on and joined the attack, and in seconds [thanks to a critical hit] it was over. And in a few more seconds she'd ripped out the sherriff's throat and disembowelled him. It took her most of a minute to finish disassembling him to her satisfaction, by which time Grey was back up, Den had finished looting the sherriff's bedroom, and the others had broken down the door to the armory and retrieved their weapons.
But where to now? The whole village was waking up, thanks to Gower's woofs of alarm, so they had to leave quickly. Grey reassigned the horse's loyalties to himself, and led the others off into the forbidden forest, following the Carnival's trail.
The oracle's answer to 'how do we get ahead of the carnival?' had been something like:
"The spider seeks to take you back to its web,
From the center the path will be clear, although perhaps not the key.
So remember, 625431."
and Grey decided chasing after the carnival was the best way to follow those instructions.
Most of the mob decided to stay behind, as did their pursuers, but Alex, Jenna, Orson and Kerry followed the party into the darkest wilderness.
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At the end I gave out potential, and noticed that Keith was using the sheet wrong in a way that pretty much everyone (including me) did the first time they saw it -- he was adding gained potential to the 'potential left' cell, wiping out the automatic calculation, instead of to the 'total potential' cell. This isn't a problem unless you then expect it to automatically update later on... which, again, happens to almost everyone who uses the sheet, including me.
When I pointed out his mistake he started going into an angry, mostly non-sequiter argument about how if you ever planned to release the game it had to be understandable by humans without using any automatic calculation.
Well, it's not that hard. We played a lot of games with it without using the automatic sheets, and the mechanics have only gotten simpler since then. These sheets are not part of the game as Lazar is planning to distribute it... they're just something he (or was it Snowwy?) knocked off in their spare time. We started using automatic sheets because of GURPS, which IS that hard. Urgh. x.x
He was invited to use a normal printout with pencil and paper if he wanted, since the feasibility of that would be a reasonable thing to doublecheck, but didn't seem to realize that we weren't arguing against his point (or vice versa). Even when Lazar finally blurted out, 'I'm agreeing with you!'