When last we left off, the team was trudging through the jungle to the ruins. They arrived at the river bed where it led into the lake. In front of them was a 50 foot cliff. To the south you find a hardly noticeable, incredibly steep, staircase. The steps disappeared behind shrubs at some points.
Rexis climbed the staircase. As he passed behind the shrubbery, his hand inadvertently pulled on a cable crossing the track. Rexis swung to the side as a bunch of sharpened sticks sprung from the wall, stabbing into the section where Rexis should have been. A row of wooden stakes sprung out of wall, glancing off Rexis. He held on for a while, while he recovered from the shock. The rest of the team climbed up behind him without incident.
Stretching out before them was the ancient ruins. It was merely a field of boulders and smashed, carved stone. Nothing resembled a building. The jungle grew densely behind the ruins. The ruins are made from a strange, jade-like material. The team couldn’t tell if it was stone or metal. Rexis smashed rock into the material. It bounced off.
Rexis felt something weird on his back. Something was underneath his collar. Rexis grabbed it and pulled it off. It was a golf-ball sized machine. It looked modern in design, probably from the military. Fear took it from Rexis, and curiously examined it.
The device had a pressure sensitive plate that detected vibrations. The vibrations rubbed together a couple of stones. The stones were mana gems that created disruptions in electromagnetic fields. The gem was similar to that in Fear’s Flame Gun. It was probably a tracking device. The team checked each other. No one else was carrying such a device.
Rexis looked around for animals. Aside from general wildlife, Rexis and Fear spotted kobolds in the ruins, watching the team cautiously. Rexis fired an arrow at one of the kobolds, knocking it unconscious. The rest scuttered off, shrieking. Rexis placed the tracking device on the unconscious kobold. Without any avenue leading elsewhere into the ruins, Bruno tracked the rest of the kobolds.
Jungles and statues and archways give way to a clearing. The clearing has been carved out to make way for a camp. In the camp were a variety of creatures, standing on their hind legs, clad in mismatched clothing and rags. Joining the creatures were some humans clearly tattooed as convicts, Greenish skinned goblins, and 8-foot tall, wild-haired ogres. All in all, there was roughly 100 people in the camp. Rexis knew that it was odd for ogres to associate with humans or goblins. Rexis spotted, in the middle of the camp, a solid building, mostly still standing. As the team considered what to do next, goblins patrolling the perimeter spotted Rexis. The rest of the team receded into the jungle. The goblins questioned Rexis
“What are you doing there?”
“Hi ho, fellow beast-men! I’ve come to join your ranks.”
The goblins muttered amongst each other. They turned to Rexis and commanded “Come forth!”
Rexis approached, his hands ready on his pistols.
The goblins prodded Rexis with spears. One chortled “The beast-king wants to inspect all new recruits.”
“Alright, take me to him!” replied Rexis.
The beast-men were watching Rexis be escorted. The rest of the team used this distraction to sneak in to one of the tents. It was a barracks. No one else was present. After Ruck had a look around, a pair of dagger was also not present any more. Bruno quickly donned some ragged clothes. Ruck peered under the tent and saw Rexis being led towards the building. Bruno, Fear and Ruck exited the tent and joined the mob closing on the building.
Rexis was taken into the building. He was led down a corridor. Looking through the doorways, he saw various rooms. One room was a dorm. There were rows of beds, filled with goblins, including women and children. Many were being treated for various wounds. In another room, goblins were being trained to use rifles. The next room had a treated animal skin across the door as a curtain. Rexis was led into the room.
Bruno, Fear and Ruck walked into the building as though they belonged there.
In the corner of the room was a large boar-man, blood dripping from his mouth as it tucked into its meal. Everyone in the room went silent as Rexis entered. They first looked at Rexis, then the beast-king. The beast-king was an ogre. He had pronounced canine teeth. His thick greasy hair was pulled back in a warriors knot. He wears a crude brass band across his head as a crown. The crowd stood as the beast-king stood. Rather than standing haunched like most ogres, he stood tall and proud.
“Who are you that interrupts my wall?”
Rexis knelt down and removed his hood, lowering his head. “I am Rexis Graykin. I have heard many great things about your hall and wish to join you. You’ve probably heard of me.”
“Yes, I have heard of you. Will your friends bee joining us?”
“My friends will most likely be joining me shortly. They will most likely be here soon, my great king. We just came to help my friend.”
“You intrigue me, elf. Tell me of your friend’s troubles.”
“He hurt himself on his last mission. His leg is wounded, and in his line of work that’s not good.”
“Out here we leave the wounded behind. They slow the pack.”
“What of your women and children being treated.”
“I assume you seek… the gem.”
“Yes, we seek the gem.” In elven, Rexis called out to his friends “Come in, he’s compassionate and can help us. Don’t tell him about the military.”
Fear passed on the message to Bruno and Ruck. They entered the room. The beast-king led the team back out into the corridor and to a chamber. There was a large circle with a seven-pointed star etched into the floor. On each point was a goblin woman or child. Robed figures chanted above each goblin. In the centre of the circle stood a wretched creature, a dark humanoid dressed in greasy robes. On the dais before him lay a green shard.
The beast king motioned at the people laying in the circle. “This is what your incursions into our land has brought. What you see here is a-thousandd times worse out there. You build your cities of steal and stone on out villages and hunting grounds. Because of you, the life shard is our only hope.”
Rexis replied, “Beast-king, I am not from civilization. I too have felt the effect. However, we cannot get rid of them. The only way to survive this day and age is negotiation. As representitives, we are happy to talk on your behalf, in exchange for your healing powers.”
“That is where you are out of luck. The mystics tell me the shard is unstable. After one use it will likely be destroyed.”
Bruno interjected “We have a contact in Arktooth who has been studying these shards. He can be able to use it without destroying it.”
The beast-king questioned “You expect us to trust you with the shard?”
Rexis said “As you can see, we have not warriors. Loyalty is our strength.”
Fear had an idea. “Where did you find the shard? Maybe there’s more.”
The beast-king replied “We found it in the ruins. We have scoured the area, looking for another, possibly more stable shard. We have found nothing.”
“I have a theory. May I examine the shard? I have used a similar substance before.”
“You’re among my people. If you try anything, they’ll kill you, and if they don’t, I will.”
Fear examined the shard, taking care to keep it undamaged. He compared it to an inert stone taken from the ruins outside. In the mean time Bruno made friends with the only Aquilion speaking person in the room. Fear noticed that something didn’t quite add up with his knowledge of gems, and how it was being used in this ritual. He did agree that the shard was ready to shatter.
Fear turned to the beast-king “Are you sure this is doing what you say it’s doing? I think your ritual isn’t a healing ritual.”
The beast-king turned to the robed figure and asked “Does this man speak the truth?”
The figure snapped back “You would trust this interloper over your trusted advisor?”
Rexis added “Are your people actually being healed? Where did he come from?”
The beast-king replied “His dark magics are renowned, and he is widely feared.”
The ground, walls and roof shake. There is a distant “Boom!” The king turns to the robed figure “This isn’t over.” Turning to the team he told them “Follow me.” He proceeded to the surface. There was panic in the camp. Looking up, the team saw small airships and darting gyros filling the sky. Bombs dropped from the airships. Some beast-men aimed guns at the airships, futilely. Rexis told the beast-king “Get your people inside!” The beast-king ordered everyone inside. As a goat-man came past, the beast-king told him “Zolgoth, to the armoury, immediately!”
An airship, larger than any other the team had seen, comes into view. Rexis found a grappling hook and rope and ran for a tree. The airship fires several large cannonballs into the jungle. The cannonballs sprouted legs and arms, turning into large metal-men. The other airships lowered troops into the camp. Bruno tore off his ragged clothing, exposing his usual neat clothing underneath. Fear asked the beast-king whether there was another way out of the building. The beast-king nodded. “They are long narrow pathways, but it will take a long time to get everyone out.” Fear told beast-men to move flammable material to the perimeter of the camp. Bruno kept people motivated. Rexis fired the grappling hook (piggybacking on an arrow) at an airship. The grappling hook became tangled in the ship’s rotor and brought it crashing into the jungle. As more soldiers landed, Fear told the beast-king to recall the kobolds moving the flammable materials. The beast-king whistled to the kobolds and they scurried back.
Three soldiers and a metal-man approached. Fear took cover behind a chunk of ruined wall and fires a bolt of fire a direct hit at one of the metal men. The fire dispersed evenly over the machine’s armour, causing it to glow briefly. The metal-man was unharmed. A soldier took cover behind other ruins and fired a pistol shot that went wild. Rexis, from his tree-top advantage, fired an arrow at one of the soldiers, piercing his chest. Another soldier ran towards the team and fired at Fear. The bullet hit him, but Fear shook off the pain. Bruno ran forward and slew the nearest soldier. Ruck followed, throwing a knife at the face of the last remaining soldier. It passed near his cheek, leaving a bloody gash. The metal-man approached. Its chest opened revealing a cannon. It fired at the tree Rexis was in, knocking him to the ground.
Bruno moved forward and finished off the last soldier. He stayed behind the wall in case the metal-man made a move at him. Ruck jumped on the metal-man and tried to pry off one of the panels. The knife slid along the smooth surface. Ruck saw a hole through which he saw a man’s face. He pointed at it, shouting out to the rest of the team. The beast-king ran, shouting, to the metal-man and beat at it furiously. A three-fingered metallic fist fixed onto Ruck and threw him away, towards Fear. Fear fired at the metal-man, but was distracted by Ruck’s flying body. Rexis noticed gears behind a gap in the metal-man’s armour. He fired an arrow directly into the gap, jamming the gears. As the metal-man fell to the ground, the sky filled with blinding hot, orange light. Rocks of the jade-green stone begin to rise and the city starts to reform. Soon, you are standing in the pristine street of the jade city. At the end of the street is a high wall, behind which is a domed palace. From the highest of the towers is a strange flickering of orange light, which vanished soon after. Dead soldiers and goblins lined the street.
The great gates of the jade palace swing open. A 30-foot man, made of the same green stone, stands with an army of green-stone elves. It booms “I am Ruin-Khel. When your races were but infants, great armies stormed the lands, claiming all in the name of Ruin-Khel. Now that I have awakened from my millennia long slumber, that conquest shall continue. Submit to your new ruler, your true ruler, and your lives shall be spared. Resist and you shall be wiped from the earth like the insignificant mud things you are. None shall lament you. None shall recall you.”