First, they spent another day identifying various items. The magic club that they'd found in the bug-filled basement had an accuracy bonues and cast a mental stun spell whenever it hit someone -- it was meant for use on maenads, who were vulnerable to mental stun. There was also a nigh-useless ring of 'turn blade'. They also identified a couple of artifacts stolen from the lord's vault where they'd found the dragon -- there was a Scepter of Command (that let you hypnotize everyone who could see it) and a Vortex Shield (that protected you from a wide variety of attacks by sucking everything in front of you into another dimension). Neither of them was working (they'd been caught in the magic-draining event), and they both would take a LOT of work to re-empower.
Or maybe a Reversed Dispel powerup, although they decided not to do that just yet.
When it was time to go, Carnelian discovered that most of their horses were missing. She tracked them down and found them hunting and murdering maenads in the city... and that they could *talk* now. They'd been converted from offworld animal horses into (very very stupid) woodlanders by abusing the energy release from slain satyrs.
One of them had a fiery mane, and looked like a nightmare, but Serene had studied nightmares and it wasn't very likely that this was an actual nightmare (since, among other things, nightmares looked like ordinary horses unless you were already in one of the dreams they could force on people) (also, they were all on the moon of Morpheus -- they were 'Lords' in roughly the same fashion as the satyrs were the lords of Pan, only there were fewer of them and they were more powerful).
The horses agreed to continue to let the party ride them, however, as long as they promised to ride them into battle! Because they were warriors! And fighting strong enemies would make them stronger! They'd given themselves names like Bloodhoof, Redmane, and Rainbow Sparkle.
Then the party left Kitkat behind and headed for the City of Darkness, to see if it was still there. On the way, after a couple days, they saw the fiery glow of Maenad swarms on the horizon, but managed to convince their horses not to go attack by convincing them that those were wildfires instead.
As they approached the city, they saw something very odd -- the Skyplant over the four farms surrounding the City of Darkness seemed to be thinning, with rays of light beaming down onto the farms. The farms still had 'something that you don't want to look at' in the middle of them, but Serene managed to force herself to look anyway, and saw that reality seemed to be unravelling, there... and that someone had placed a perception field nearby to keep anyone else from noticing, although by this point it was blatant enough that you could tell *something* was going on even if you didn't want to see what.
They gave the field a wide berth, and continued on towards the city, until they saw bright bright flashes of light nearby from what looked like two warring bands -- six Invaders were holding off a force of three dozen Templars, who'd been heading towards the farm, with their laser rifles. The Invaders were keeping the Templars pinned in a gully from 200 yards off, far outside the range of the Templars' swords and bows, but some Templar aerial units were harassing them, in particular an unknown number of Templar Owl Mages were using low-power sunbeams to try to zap the Invaders' night-vision goggles, with a limited amount of success.
They decided to approach the invaders and offer their help. When they got within easy laser range, two Templar Raven Scouts flew towards them to warn them off so that they wouldn't get hurt. Serene and the squirrel mage managed to stun them both, and then the horses trampled them nearly to death (only not actually to death because they were blessed, although the party didn't figure that out until later). Then Serene aimed carefully at one of the owls -- using a See Invisible spell to be able to see the owls -- and... her gun spontaneously went into an irreversible self-destruct mode. She tried to keep it from exploding by ejecting the power source, and DID manage to keep it from killing everyone. Instead, it spewed out a fierce fire in a 3-yard radius, burning all their horses and forcing the riders to abandon horse to keep from being burned as well!
It took them a while to drag the horses out of the fire and heal them, while one of the Invaders, not knowing what was going on, started shooting at them (but never actually hit anyone).
At that point, Carnelian stole some of the other squirrel's shotguns and used a 'Speed' powerup which made her very, very, very fast. Serene also let her see invisible. She zipped back and forth, making it impossible for the owls to keep sight of her, and took potshots at them until one was dead and the other also lost its bless (exploding her shotgun in the process, but that wasn't as deadly as the laser rifle detonation had been). Once Serene was informed of the missing bless, she shot the other owl down with a laser as it tried to flee.
Then they tried to talk to the Invaders, who recognized them as the escapees. "We weren't given orders to arrest you, our mission was to protect the farms. If you want to help us, can you flush those Templars out of cover?" Carnelian took a couple tear gas grenades and zipped past the Templar lines at 1kps, somehow managing to drop the grenades so that they didn't bounce too far to be effective [1 kps was a -16 penalty on the throwing roll, but also on the Templars' attacks, which of course all missed].
The Templars were routed, and mostly shot in the back, leaving scattered dead satyrs stretched across the dark fields. This, of course, meant that they had to go search their pockets for loose change.
Unfortunately for them, some of the Templars were only playing dead, and tried to kill the party when they tried to come close and loot. Carnelian was badly wounded, but between Gambles' sword, Serene's new spell, and some more stun spells, they managed to make them actually be dead after all.
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