The Drylands (Pathfinder)
Plotline Roundup Fire and Lightning Edition
Rock Mound Undercity
Sweet Gravel tore down the poster. The Dromite subversive crumpled it up, threw it on the floor, and lit it on fire with a gesture.
The recruitment posters were all over the Undercity. Not just to get the underclasses to join the militia, but to leave the city and fight undead in the mountains. The Mice weren’t good enough to patrol the streets, but to die miles from home? Of course, sign ‘em up!
Gravel’s immediate instinct was to suspect a trick. But why? Population purge, maybe? The pressures weren’t that bad right now. To get rid of subversives? No, they wouldn’t sign up. So why?
It wasn’t hard to uncover the warnings of the plague. Many of the guards were worried about it, and Gravel was able to trace it back to the gate guard who first heard about it.
“So a crazy shapeshifting Entobian waved an undead scorpion in your face?” asked Gravel.
“Sure did.” Said the guard, “Then it made sense, the wild birds we had at the beginning of the week, how the bugglies got fighty afterwards, and how the animals got all out of sorts.”
“Yeah, the livestock must have got spooked by the undead critters crawling around. Woulda noticed if any of them died and started walking about zombie-like.”
“But… Wait. I heard the undead outbreak was a threat because it was spreading like a disease that eventually led to zombification.”
“And how many of those livestock have been slaughtered for the upper-class restaurants?”
Temple of Urgathoa, Outside Rock Mound
Kiriss waited as the attendant told the guards he was allowed inside. The great beetle-shaped portal swung open, allowing Kiriss into the inner chambers of the temple, where the High Priestess and the Council of Daughters lived and worked.
Like most temples this one was staffed primarily with undead servitors. The skeletons practically gleaming white, the zombies continually restored to near-life condition, and all costumed as valets and soldiers, depending on their function.
One of the Daughters of the Temple came to greet Kiriss and took him into a chamber furnished as a war room.
“We have decided that your services are too valuable to waste on returning this thief for payment. You will be paid the full bounty out of Temple funds and placed on a new assignment. When we are finished questioning him, we will send him to his enemies and recoup our loss, but he may possess the secret of dispelling the mist.
“You will join the crusade against the undead in the Rainwall Mountains. We will send clerics with you to control as many as possible and return them to the temple. Our arbiters are even now researching to see if bestial undead would break the Covenant. Regardless, we want them to study.
“When we have discerned the secret to disrupting the Fey influence over the forest, you will travel here [pointing to a spot on the map] and recover what has been lost to us. Take the clerics and whatever convenient servants are available. The mission for Rock Mound will be a good excuse to move without attracting notice.
“Do this and you will be rewarded. Do you have any questions?”
Kiriss thought for a moment and asked, “The Fey have only been here for a generation. Why hasn’t the temple attempted recovery earlier?”
The Daughter gave a grim smile, “We have.”
Office of Bouncing Circles, Rock Mound
The rich Dromite alchemist was frustrated. His idiot apprentice had never come back. The airship experiments were ongoing, but he had no data regarding the performance of the previous engines. No one had responded to his requests for help through the Guard and the diviners he had paid to locate Crackle told him the apprentice was either dead or shielded.
If he waited much longer, the promised cruise to Humanity for the Great Games would never materialize. He’d just have to finish construction of the larger vessel with the data on hand and hope for the best.
Corpse Vats, Rock Mound
The two Dromite corpse-handlers, one old and one young, push the corpse of the Beetle-like Entobian into the burial vats
“Wouldn’t talk huh? Must have been a real tough guy to stand through the magic and the needles.”
“Nah, not tough. Just fast. I was talking with some of the guys who brought him in. He killed himself in the cell before they could ask him any questions. Too bad. I hear he was some big shot bandit.”
“Oh yeah? Why haven’t I heard of him?”
“You’re too young. Your hatching was still in the nursery when this guy was operating. Started off as a big hero. Had a crew that patrolled up and down the Rainwall and the monsters just melted away. But I guess he got bored, cause he started snatching people. Raiding homesteads. Never knew why. Then he disappeared. Guess he went down to hide in the swamp with the barbs.”
“So why’d he come back?”
“Don’t know. I guess he was with some Bonepickers, but he tripped an old alarm spell keyed just for him still running at the gate and they sold him out quick as anything. Said he was just a merc they picked up in the swamp. Maybe he thought since he was a larvite when he left, coming back like this would work. Who knows. I hear his last words were something about ‘a fate worse than death.’ ”
“Dead now, though.”
“Yeah. Guess he won that one at least.”