We had a session of Lazar's game last night, and that's far from the only way I messed up.
Following the caravan was harder than it looked, from the 20-foot-wide swath of forest it had demolished in passing. For one thing, the horse they needed in order to be safe from squirrels and the like stealing their things (which was also supposed to guide them on the safe path through the forbidden forest) refused to follow the trail, and when forced, panicked and bolted. Taking Alex and Grey with it. Just before the wolves closed in.
The others ran away from the wolves, losing track of Kerry in the process (although Jenna and Orson were pretty sure the wolves hadn't gotten him). After Den was bitten repeatedly while inadvertantly covering the others' retreat, Zedd teleported him to safety, while Belladonna used her plant communication to guide the others to the random location he'd teleported to.
After that, they made sure to avoid wolves and such, but their attempts to follow the horse were futile -- it was nowhere to be seen. Reasonably confident that Alex and Grey were, if anything, in less danger than the five of them remaining, they continued on along the path...
Eventually, the trail led to the Old Road, a wide paved highway that looked like the perfect route through the mountains. They followed it for a while, as wolves howled after them and scary looking border markers seemed to perhaps have a gap at the road itself...
Around dawn of the fourth day since they'd left Alma (that is, the middle of the day's travel, since their sleep schedules were screwed up) they spotted the cat... perching on top of a nearby mountain. It looked really, really freaking huge, much bigger than the stories had made it out. It seemed to be staring at them... and a little ways ahead on the road was the wreckage of one of the carnival's smaller vehicles, looking as if it'd been torn to peices by massive cat claws.
Zedd decided to blip over and check out the wreckage, which angered Kantrigarrr (as the giant cat was known in Alma), who attacked! Luckily for the people who weren't eaten, it didn't seem terribly interested in eating them all. At least not without reading their minds and intentions first.
Regardless, Belladonna, Den, and Zedd were sent fleeing from its territory in a panic. Orson was apparently eaten (swallowed whole), and Jenna... was faster, and ran out of sight, and was never seen again. Simply teleporting around or past it wasn't really an option, since (a) its territory was by all reports really really big and (b) it had lesser cats working with it that were able to trace Zedd's teleports. And chipmunks who could deal with Bella's plant control (since plant control was their thing).
So they decided to head in the other direction, to Spokane -- Den thought that the prophecy might have meant that the Sherriff (the spider) wanted to take them to Spokane (the center of his territory). They avoided Alma (where they were probably wanted) and Beantown, and... were pretty much naked by the time they arrived in the town after that, as they'd spent a total of like eight nights in the wilderness without anything to protect them from the squirrels.
The 'town after that' was Gateway, noticeable from a long way off by its extensive fields of corn and other grains (but mostly corn). Unlike most small towns, it looked like it was probably producing more than enough food to feed itself. It was able to maintain such wonderful farmlands by virtue of its many cows, who wandered around the village and were worshipped and stuff.
The party made their way through the fields approaching the village, and Belladonna decided to make a dramatic entrance by encouraging the corn she walked past to bloom and ripened in seconds.
The people of Gateway, of course, took her for a god, and were certain that she must have come to speak with the Lord Jesus Christ, who was of course present in the town at that time.
"And you have to come to the feast tonight! We'll all eat of his flesh and drink his blood, and be saved!" The party looked fairly aghast at that notion. "And afterwards, he'll give a speech, telling us about the crusade!"
"Wait a second," Zedd said, "Is Jesus Christ a rat?"
"How did you know?"
It was, of course, Seek, the regenerating rat who'd caused them so much trouble earlier. Or, perhaps, who'd set them on the way to the oracle, if you wanted to be generous about it.
While Den was being given a bath of 'healing milk' from the largest cow, and Bella was being doted on by awed villagers, Zedd snuck off to get a look at Seek. Seek was in bad shape, stabbing himself repeatedly with a large knife, seemingly as a nervous habit. Stabbing himself *deeply*, to the point where he'd occasionally cut off a bit of flesh, which he'd collect in a bowl. The blood, he was using to scrawl page after page of mad scribblings. Zedd snagged a loose sheet with his teleportation, and read a bit of psychotic rambling about the nature of the 'Puppetmaster' the oracle had sort of told Seek to find.
The feast was pretty creepy. Seek had himself crucified through most of the dinner, and while the actual food was normal corn-and-milk dishes, there was the icky bit of cannibalism (that the party decided to pass on) with the bits of flesh from his bowl, and a goblet of blood gathered from a fresh wound he had one of his worshippers ceremoniously make in his side.
The actual speech he gave about the crusade wasn't very much more coherent than his scribbling had been, but the villagers (or at least, the ones at the feast) seemed enthusiastic about the notion of a crusade.
After the feast, he asked to see the party in private, since he'd recognized Zedd. Once he was confident no one was listening in, he admitted that he was only pretending to be Jesus, but that he needed an army to fight the puppetmaster back in Portland, his home city, which was under seige. He wasn't sure exactly how to get back there, but he thought it was somewhere to the south.
Somehow, they got talking about teleport gates, and he mentioned that there was a teleport gate in Portland that was connected to 'the Web', a worldwide... er... web of teleport gates that connected the major cities, but weren't often used because of the expense. He didn't think Spokane had a gate...
He did recognize the number Den was able to hypnotize himself to repeat accurately (the written out copies of the Oracle's answers were presumably still on the horse, whereever it was) as a gate address, and although 'the leading 6 means it's probably a west-coast gate', it wasn't Portland or any other gate he recognized. Not that he was an expert on the gates or anything.
So, he offered to take the party along with him on his crusade. While it did sound like the Puppetmasters and the Carnival might be related, and the party's answer still seemed more likely to refer to Spokane than Portland, he wasn't about to go that far out of his way when for all he knew his people were in open warfare against the animals already. His plan was, basically, to move from village to village, working out a route as he went, converting everyone to 'christianity' and adding them to his crusade.
He also hit on Bella, and tried to seriously convince the party that he was literally immortal. "The gods tried to kill me and failed -- so I'm going to live forever."
He wasn't going to force the party to come with him, though, since Zedd at least was a friend (having dragged him back to the healer while he was sick).
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So, a lot of random wandering and crap... and who knows where they'll head next? And how in god's name am I going to get Grey back with the party?