As the brushfire approached the second city on the list, they had to wonder, 'where was the city?'. The floating island looked more like a proper floating island, almost a hemisphere beneath the upper surface, but instead of a city it was covered with a dense jungle. The party decided that they'd go down as an away team, using one of the small boats, since Nico and Cane were still Feriphal and Takara could still turn into a cat.
There were the recognizable outlines of buildings in the jungle, and no clearings at all, anywhere, so they picked a large building and landed on the roof. Even on the relatively clear rooftop, Cane had to cut his way past the plants to move around, since they were higher than his (feriphal) head. He hacked his way to a skylight, which Takara opened by cutting a hole in the glass.
There was movement inside. "Is anybody there?" The movement scuttled off.
So they dropped down to search in person. The interior was mostly plant-free -- a museum full of priceless artifacts, that didn't look like it had been abandoned for long. And *did* look like they were from a Midas colony. The footprints from the creature they'd seen moving lead downstairs, so they headed down... and were surrounded by pus zombies.
Cane and Kyngeah immediately activated their anti-disease measures -- the cleansing incense and a cure-disease radiant light that seemed to injure the zombies. The sanctuary held them out, but there was an apparent ally on the outside fighting the zombies when he saw them engaging the party, so they broke the sanctuary to smash them up with flame and electricity and crystal shards. And random magical arrows, from Takara.
Most of the random arrows were pretty effective, but the last one shot against the last infected myriander pus zombie (who'd started to absorb the bodies of his slain comrades in the myriander fashion -- myriander were amorphous crystalline entities) somehow made it immune to both the incense and the cure disease radiance, so when it exploded the party had to dodge out of the way to avoid being splashed and infected. Nico tried to dodge by flying up into the air, but had no wings, and ended up getting soaked in pus. But Kyngeah was able to cure the disease if she caught it in time, and kept him from turning.
"You're not insane, right?" Cane asked the crystal-coated komodo dragon that had fought on their side.
"No, I'm -- why aren't you all dead?"
"We've faced these things before, and we had countermeasures."
The took them through underground tunnels to his safe hideout inside the police station, where he told them about the situation, which was pretty hopeless -- the infection had started suddenly and infected almost everyone, except for a few people that he was able to contact by magic mirror -- most in groups of one or two, but there was one group of thirty children hiding in the school. Strangely, most of the zombies had vanished after the first couple days, replaced instead by the jungle of strange plants. Obviously, the zombies eventually turned into the plants.
It seemed like the Brushfire should be able to rescue all the survivors, so they looted the police station and headed back through the museum to the small ship, which had already been trapped by vines growing up and over it. Cane cut them loose, since he'd already been exposed to the possibly-diseased plant sap, and they returned to the ship to plan the rescue. It turned out when they got there that Cane *had* been infected, but the plant's infection spread much more slowly than the pus infection, and Kyngeah had time to save him.
The kids were the first target to rescue, since there were 30 of them and they had an 'injured' teacher that the party was worried would turn into a zombie eventually. They didn't want to risk the small ship again (since they only had two) so they sent down one of their Glazend (crystalline moth) crewmembers to tell the survivors in the school to gather on the roof. The zombies were following the Brushfire around as it flew over the jungle, so they had it hovering a ways off, and planned to zoom it into place at the last second once the survivors were ready.
Unfortunately, things didn't go exactly as planned. The kids did come up onto the roof, but screaming and running around in a panic -- followed by two zombies, the injured teacher and the glazend they'd sent. At least the glazend still had the incense of cleansing stuck in his hat, so he wasn't infecting other people as easily as he probably expected to.
The ship flew into place and lowered the boarding net for the kids. Cane threw down a bunch more incense to keep the whole area purified, and Takara shot the glazend with a random magic arrow -- which turned into a giant flying wyrm, which wrapped itself around the non-zombie teacher to rescue him and the glazend to imprison him. This was a bad idea, because the pus immediately started infecting the wyrm. Kyngeah poured holy energy at the wyrm to beat back the infection, and while Cane made a futile attempt to calm the kids down and get them to actually climb onto the ship, Nico and Takara killed the zombie Glazend, amputating the back (infected) half of the wyrm in the process. The crew exploded the other zombie with a hail of bullets (Some of the guns exploding, again! Ack!), and the rescued teacher was able to calm down the children and get them onto the ship.
Obviously, they needed a better plan. Cane decided to ask Teatime if he could contact the other survivors telepathically, so that they wouldn't have to risk sending any more crewmembers down. He thought he'd be able to, but when he gave it a try, he told them that he didn't dare broadcast anything, or he'd be noticed by the powerful mind controlling all the zombies, from over *there* on the edge of the island.
So they took the ship *there* to take a look. There was a missile embedded in the ground, there, with an open and now-empty compartment and a disembodied brain floating in the nose cone. Kyngeah checked astrally, and the brain wasn't as powerful as they'd expect a lord of Ix to be (they were worried, since the lords of Ix were floating brains) but it was in a position where it was hard to attack. They could theoretically take it out with a cannon, but a miss would collapse the ground and keep them from trying a second time, easily.
So they tried grappling the missile and hauling it back out of the ground to expose the brain, but the plants and vines writhed around and started crawling up the grapple line, threatening to take over the Brushfire, and they were forced to cut it loose. It wasn't going to be that easy!
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