Dec. 10 1888
Some snow on ground, cold.
Lt. Rip Hunter, West Point grad. 5 years now. Here for 1 year. Leading L Troop, 3rd Platoon.
Wants to be in Brittles’ K Troop, not here.
Big Valley in Idaho (?), leads through the Rockies.
Fort Defiance: Col. Thursday in charge; Major Dundee; Cpt. Zachary Beyers.
We’ve left Fort Defiance, crossing east to Indian village in Reservation. They have suffered deaths of their cattle recently, unexplained, and sent for assistance.
First cattle disappearences started a month ago, 1 cow. Week later, 2 nights in a row, 1 then 2. Then 4 days later. Since then every day or 2. Mutilations started partway through. Started on HIawatha’s side, then moved to Gray Eagle’s side. Wagon train massacred weeks ago, homestead burned out. Indians claimed ignorance. Drunks got back at them, woman and child killed. Indians mad but Chief Gray Eagle has not done anything, at least not yet.
Arrive and every brave is armed.
Rip meets with Gray Eagle after wild warning shot. Knows of me fairly well.
Humans were killed ovefnight in village across river, their women and kids were moved here.
Chief takes Lt and Scout to cattle site. Mangled up, scout says by a 4 legged animal. Footprint is as if a central pad, surrounded all the way around by smaller pads. Like nothing Jerimiah has ever seen before. Only about the size of maybe a cougar print. Track leads to river. Injuns says it appears there were 4 of these ‘horses’ as they call them.
Jeremiah comes over to Rip “These werent horses, spacing all wrong. Look here where one of them stopped”. There are 6 feet.
Gray Wolf “So, you will go hunt them with us.”
Rip convinces him after a good respectful argument, to give him until the sun crosses twice.
Jeremiah “If we’re not back in that time, send lots of men and lots of guns.”
We cross river into Pine forest. One of their braves meets us and motions us to follow trail to village. No tracks on this side to be found.
Chief Hiawatha greet us. He lost 3 dead and 7 missing.
Rip “Missing? That puts a new face on things.”
Shows us bodies of ripped apart woman and 2 kids.
Slashes just as on cow, as long as a foot or more. Now a brave is missing from this morning, Fighting Wolf is the husband of dead. Took off in a fit of rage. He cut his chest ceremoniously to fight his last fight well. Went off north east where bodies were found. They were out last evening gathering with others. The other 3 women and 4 kids are the missing.
1st Sgt rides up “I’ve been on the frontier until there was no frontier, and I ain’t seen nothing like this.” Recommends more help. Says something evil, he feels it. Rip doesn’t. Asks medicine man who says of legend of creature from far north, lives in the cold and feeds on the souls of the innocent.
Rip “And cows.”
“We call it Ithaqqua, the watcher of the waste.” He thinks it has come down do destroy our people. “We must have angered him.”
Rip “Or someone brought him, if you’re right.”
“The woods are evil now. Animals have run away, the birds no longer sing. The forest has become a dead thing.”
He’s freaking Rip out.
RIp asks the Chief is this Medicine Man is right about all this dead woods business.
Hiawatha went to real school, so he’s somewhat learned. The game always leaves during such a cold snap as we have had.
Rip “That’s what I thought.”
“It is colder than usual.”
RIp “But that happens too.”
Hiawtha says to MM he respects his beliefs, but they are just stories to tell kids. THere is no Ithaqqua.
Lighting crosses the sky, Thunder blares.
Hiawatha tells of a large family, 2 wagons, passed through about a week ago headed into high country. They did the indians no harm, asked for permission to hunt though Gray Eagle said they shouldn’t hunt int he high land this time of year cause of weather.
The white man said there was a pass in the high country that would lead through the mts. They had been turned back at the Fort by Major Dundee because snow had closed the pass so would have to wait until spring to move on.
Rip knows about all that. He was officer of the day when that wagon family arrived. He thought they were riding back to Scalp Lock to wait things out.
Hiawatha says they were warned, but not their problem to stop. Couldn’t use force obviously.
They were even invited to winter here by Hiawatha.
They are not going to go far per day with those wagons through that terrain.
Hiawatha and men are staying to guard village.
We will stay here tonight and head off into morning.
Rip to Hiawatha “Do you know anything about this pass they were talking about?”
He says they had a map, bought in Defiance. Probably sold to them by a con man taking advantage of travelers.
Into Pine Forest, riding for kill sight. Wind blowing a little. It’s a dense pine forest, dark, little undergrowth.
Blood splatter all over, and more of same tracks going NE dragging what is likely bodies.
Rip “Are the drag marks leaving blood trails?”
Jeremiah “Spots, here and there.”
Rip “So they might be alive.”
Jeremiah sees a different track he can;t ID. 2 of the strange feet came down right next to one another. Might be another track under it but can’t tell what it was. May be something else with them.
We follow his tracking.
An hour go by. Jeremiah off his horse looking at things “Lt. do you smell that?”
“I do smell that.”
Jeremiah “Burnt wood, from that direction.”
Rip takes 2nd squad and Jeremiah to investigate. A lone blackbird crows nearby. He orders the force to ready for any ambush.
In a small clearing, tent smashed to ground, blood all over, wagons burnt to ashes. Rip sends Jeremiah to check for tracks first. Sees child footprints all around, about half the size of an adult foot. Wearing nailed boots. Then he finds bodies. NOT cut to pieces, some with arrows in them. About 2/3 length of normal arrow; they have nasty barbed tips.
Rip “These are no native arrows. What’s the arrowhead made from?”
Jeremiah “I think iron….no, head feels too light.” Striking with flint causes no spark.
The smaller tracks lead away to NE as well.
Those men who survived the attack were tied spread eagle to ground and tortured to death. Kids all skinned alive. 2 adult women huddled nearby, both dislocated jaws and nether regions disgustingly gaped, essentially raped to death with something.
Rip starting to feel something truly terribly wrong here.
Any cavalrymen scared before are now just out to kill the problem.
Jeremiah hears a moan coming from nearby “I think someone is alive over here.”
Finds a teenage girl: terrified (sanity at about 35). Lying beside her is the most hideous thing Jeremiah has ever seen: a little man, dead, a gun on the ground. She got away at the beginning, a single thing chased her, she shot it dead and stayed put hidden. Been here a day and a night “I need blankets up her, start a fire!”
Rip has arrived by now.
It looks semi human, maybe 4’ tall. No hair on head, which comes to a point. Almost a vegatative look, jagged rip atop it almost like it was ripped off of a vine.
Rip “It’s like a stem at the top of hits head.”
Pointed ears, lizard like features, skin seems scaled at first, but a closer inspection it feels like leaves. Peeling that away, it has a hard Barklike skin underneath.
It wears a tunic that comes about half way down its thighs made of an unrecognizable hide. Plates of metal sown to it all over, like the arrowhead iron.
They do indeed have large manparts, but the scrotum is tiny and like filled with seeds.
Rip sends 3rd squad with runner to get to Hiawatha, tell him to bring braves to help, send rest of his men across river to Gray Eagle. Their attack radius is growing, probably clearing Hiawatha’s place to make safe zone. Will likely attack again if they are still there. Also send to Defiance for reinforcements.
Attacked by arrowfire, dozens. Jeremiah, by the tracks, thinks 20 to 40 total. She says they were not very strong individually at first, killed a bunch, but there were too many. Strong for their size though. Screamed hideous warcries in high pitched voices, clicky language. Some when charging out with nasty looking spears. The arrows they shit did little damage until Pa ripped one out of himself leaving a giant wound that just kept bleeding. Soon as they things saw the women, they’d flap up their tunics and became aroused all during the fight. Its like these creatures are a manpart surrounded by a means of getting around.
She heard lots of screaming. Fainted and woke she is not sure how many times until we found her.
After dark, starts to freezing sleet, thunder roaring. Scouts are out checking perimeter.
One group of 3 finds a cave, hears clicking sound. He checks it out. No light, so they light nothing. Sends one man back and the other 2 watch the cave.
He reports. Rip calls other scouts back. Takes Jeremiah, reporter, and 3 others with him to cave. He lights torch and goes in with Jeremiah.
He almost feels something beyond shadow staring at them.
Indian squaw leaps by, missing from Rip’s dodge. Cave is small, 3 small children and another squaw at the back. The click was them getting rocks together to throw.
The other squaw misses Jeremiah with a rock.
They finally see we are human beings, and they overwhelm us in joy!!
We get them back to camp fast.
Camp is on edge, nobody is willing to stay in the tents. Everyone has rifles out. Rip organizes so everyone is not exhausted later.
Rain turns to snow overnight. The runner and squad return. They are not happy, didn’t want to give up the village but reluctantly did. Late cause they wanted us to stay and talk to Gray Eagle. He will organize a warparty in morning and should be here by noon. Sent 2 of his fastest riders to fort. Pulled 3rd indian village into his as well.
Now told runner they found tracks of the little people, and horse that had been killed by the tiny arrows, but they didn’t connect things.
Camp now asleep but for last watch.
Jeremiah wakes up with one of his ‘bad feelings’. Tells the watch to be on guard, looking outward with rifles ready. It’s 2 Pvt1, a Cpl and the lead Sgt.
Goes and wakes Rip up. As he does, they hear a rifle fire outside.
Guard 3, pvt, heard something above him and saw a bird flying towards him in the dark. Then realizes it is a small humanoid creature, about 4’, with batlike wings, high pitched screeching.
It bites him 2. He yells out. Guard 2 sees one coming for him and fires 11 DEAD. Guard 1 misses with rifle butt swing. That bat man glows slightly for a second, doing 6 electrical damage to the man.
Rip getting up, sends Jeremiah to check on women and kids and yell a general alarm.
Cpl fires 10 DEAD.
Guard 1 is missed, he shoots 13 DEAD; Guard 2 hits DEAD. Sgt is attacked and missed, and his shot misses. It flies into the air.
Jeremiah is running for the innocents, 4 attack but miss him. HIts 9/10 on 2 separate.
More screeching and see others flying around above.
They attack in general now on our guards and Jeremiah.
2 of the privates are badly attacked. One is killed, his head bitten off through the neck. The Squad 2 Cpl kills it immediately.
By the end, one dead, one at 8 wound damage. First aid heals 3.
Sq1 Cpl reports to Rip “Lost a man sir, young David.”
Rip “Well, we gave them a whooping. They fought to the death though, none fled. That’s scary in and of itself.”
A black man if buckskins walks into camp during clean up.
Marcy, the girl from the wagontrain “He’s one of them!! He was with them!!”
Immediately many of the men cover him.
Rip “Care to explain that accusation sir?”
Marcy insists we kill him, like they killed his Pa. She speaks like a racist.
He says he heard the gunfire. His name is Simon, he’s a trapper, mountain men. He names several others that Rip recognizes as acquaintances of his.
He has seen these little men. Opening his pack, he dumps it out. Out roll 3 manparts of the little men.
He came across the kill sight yesterday, stayed away until he was sure it was safe. He followed the attacking group and killed 3 of them.
Says the things have a camp less than 5 miles from here, right up in the hills. Have these flying things keeping watch. He heard there wings and screeching heading for us.
“They ain’t going to rest until you’re all dead.”
Rip “We aren’t going to rest until they are.”
36 minus the 3 he killed, were alive from the attack party.
Marcy insists he is leading us into a trap.
Jeremiah has heard of a black trapper up here named Simon, and that all 3 of the other major mountain men have mentioned him as a good man to have around, but not very tough.
Simon shows us, about a mile away, the bodies of the 3 he killed. Rip leads Jeremiah and 3rd Squad with him.
Forest becomes more and more ominous as we go. We think we hear a click sound, then an Indian warcry. A brave runs at us from up the trail, chest of dried blood, its Fighting Wolf “Look out, its an ambush! They’re all around you!”
Behind us this hideous, medium sized, 6 legged beetle like creature blocks us.
Another one leaps upon Fighting Wolf. The clicks become more general.
They attack from all around, about 20 of them.
Horses start to want to panic at the smell of these weird creatures. We can control them with a little difficulty.
We fire as they charge.
When they are shot, bolts of electricity lash out at the shooter!!
The first shot from one of the Pvt kills the one on Fighting Wolf, and it blows up hurting the Indian.
Simon did not lead us into a trap, he fights with us! We kill a few in the first volley, then they go after our horses!
Fighting Wolf then charges the monsters at our front.
Our men hit accurately, but damage is rarely better than average for the first couple rounds before 6 more join the fight.
We fight on, killing a few more as the horses fight back as well. Several more keep rushing us from the woods, only enough to replace the dead. At least some of them are a bit larger than the originals. Still, they attack the horses.
FInally, they are all out, at which point it is us vs 17. One is obviously the leader, they have some intelligence. It seems to be clicking orders to the others.
First horse to drop is Pvt4. He lands standing.
Right after, we finally outnumber them after a good round.
Horse for Pvt. 5 goes down as well. Then Cpl 1. He stands from prone and crits one dead, followed by a natural 20 to save vs elect.
With only a few left, Fighting Wolf slays one saving the Cpl 1, but the electricity explosion kills him.
Then Pvt 4 is dropped but stabalizes at neg9; Pvt 5 is dropped and stabalizes at neg6.
The Sgt horse is killed.
At 1 left, it misses the Sgt.
Finally, we are victorious. First aids on our pass. We flee with 2 men KO’d and out 4 horses. We get Fighting Wolf’s body as well.
Rip orders the wounded Pvt’s to double up on the Cpl. horses, the Pvt’s doing the riding in case we are attacked so that the healthier Cpl’s can shoot. The KO’d 2 are dragged on stretchers behind 2 other privates.
Almost back to camp, we hear a flutter of batdemon wings!! Quick count by Jeremiah sees 15.
Rip gets us into a circle around the stretchers, the 2 privates pulling them dismount and ready sabers
Our opening volley drops 5.
That leaves 1 attacking each of us to start.
Finally we arrive back at camp and get defenses ready. We hear gunfire in the distance toward the reservation. Gray Eagle must be under attack! Rip orders redistribution of ammunition.
About 15 to 20 minutes later, the first of them walks out of the treeline and flaps his privates at us.
Jeremiah hits him in the dong 8, shooting it off. It bleeds to death in moments.
Rip “That ought to send them a message.”
Orders are given to not pull any arrows out.
About 60 arrows come in at us.
The volleying starts. After 1 exchange, they charge. The battle is chaotic, little nasty creatures swarming and moving all over the field.
We get them down to 5, Jeremiah having slain the leader with his bowie knife, and they all jump Simon but miss.
We cut them down quickly.
Jeremiah “What if they don’t…care…about gender. I don’t think any of us should be taken prisoner by them.”
Minutes later, the Cpt rides into view with the rest of the Company!
“Here in time, Hunter? These little devils attacked us. We drove them off with a few shots.”
They brought a wagon full of supplies and ammo, as well a bunch of horses.
Rip reports quickly but in detail. They also found a corpse of a huge bug. Gray Wolf was told by the Cpt to stay back. This is a Company matter. Not for civilians.
They also brought a medical orderly, who will stay here with the wagon and wounded.
All of 3rd squadron will stay behind, with much of 1st platoon as guard.
A scout rides in, says half dozen men approach from the SSE. Look like some of those outlaw ranger fellas.
Barrett’s Rangers rode into the valley couple months ago, chasing a wagon train came through a month ealrier.
Told wild stories of demons, devils, monsters coming into this world, no one believes them.
They’re lives have all been touched by such things in one way or another. Led by Philander Barrett. Has 1 Lt. and The Preacher, a Dr. of divinity named Alphonse Lamb.\
Rip had an encounter with them once, almost came to shooting. Marshal tried to get them out, backed by this Company. Almost came to shooting again, they would not leave.
Cpt. asks Rip’s advice as he is closest to this situration.
Rip “Seems those wild stories they brought into the valley may not be so mad.”
We let them approach. They are a group led by Lamb, Barrett’s not here.
A squad will be sent to take the civilians we found safely back. Simon is staying
The Cpt. has had a somewhat troubled career, knows he is going no higher. Was guarding Injuns in Idaho. Village was attacked by white men, many indian women and kids killed. He holds himself responsible for this. He cares most about making sure that no one dies under his watch. Especially civilians, including natives.
Cpt Beyers and Rip speak with Lamb.
Lamb (he has lost some sanity for sure, from reading Forbidden Tomes): At their camp, the patrol stumbled upon a large insect they proceeded to kill. Lamb has a book “The Death of Worlds” written by a pre human.
We say what is a pre human?
Races of thinking people older than us, long long ago. One of them had a device allowing them to see other worlds.
The Cpt. is ready to dump him.
Lamb insists the info is good. Found only one reference in all my material, in this book. It’s about how worlds die. They move from planet to planet. WHen they arrive, they install queens who lay eggs. If you don’t stop them right at the beginning they overwhelm the world. Their growth rate is exponential. Do you know what that means?
Yes we do.
Cpt is very suspicious of this, unbelieving.
Lamb “30 years mankind will be extinct. THey then go to war with each other, cataclysmic, leaving a dead world. By then many have left via portal to infest a new one.”
Rip “A what?”
He explains a portal as a door to another place in space.
Cpt “You’re talking like Revelations man, the end of the world. You expect me to believe this?”
Lamb says these little goblins are not what we have to worry about. It’s the insects.
Rip “Are they all over the world?”
Rip says we have to take his word seriously. Humans are on Mars, Mars itself had ancient races now gone. We know life is in the stars."
They are not demons, but they do not want to see the earth destroyed of course. Barrett is willing to help. If we find the center of this contagion, Barrett will be there to assist.
Lamb has no idea what the little goblin men are. They look like nothing he has ever seen or heard of.
Rip asks if this could be linked to what Gray Wolf’s Medicine Man said about a monster called Ithaqua?
Lamb “Let me consult my material.”
He sits at the Cpt. chair without a second thought. Beyers is a little put out but Rip keeps him silent.
This thing is listed in his demonology book as one of his great demons ruling in a frozen hell.
Rip “What would that have to do with those beetle like things?”
Lamb “I don;’t know. Maybe he opened the Gate that brought them here. As a demon he thrives on pain and suffering. A terrible demon once said that ’he would never destroy humanity. He wants humanity to feed on and play with.” So the link is mysterious, unknown.
Rip thinks maybe the little guys are Ithaqua’s, speaking of pain and suffering. But the coincidence of Ithaqua and the beetles during the same winter is too much.
Lamb offers to stay with his guard to help us
Rip mentions the flying humanoids. Lamb has no idea what Rip speaks of, so Rip takes him to show him the bodies “We haven’t burned them yet, luckily. you can see for youself.”
Lamb immediately makes the sign of the cross “Demon! Demon! Demon!”
He drops holy water on one and it burns like acid. The whole body desolves. Looks like a little of that goes a long way.
He knows of no connection to them either. They are demons from hell, and not the freezing hell but the great demon Diablo or Mephisto.
Rip “This is all too much in one winter, again.”
Lamb “Maybe its Mr. Black”: had a travelling carnival, anywhere he went evil and death followed. Barrett’s wife and kids torn up by an unholy monster. Met me, I told him it was a demon, and he formed the Rangers. He searches for Mr. Black. Then we heard he came into the valley but the army wouldn’t tell us anything.
Cpt "I met this Black fella. They were at fort defiance but we turned them away, told them they’d never make it. There was the disappearance of a rancher in the area. Black had left and went through anyway. WE followed their trail in case he had something to do with it. Scouts followed the trail not far north of the Fort, then cut far east and ended. That place is to the north of here.
Rip “The exact direction I have been suspecting since the beginning.”
Lamb “If there are demons here, I’ve got to go and tell Barrett. We can have the Rangers here tomorrow.”
The Cpt protests having them join (civilians after all), but Rip convinces him otherwise.
He also sends a rider back to the Fort for another Company.
Lamb takes 6 bullets. He blesses them, cuts a cross into their tip, and dowses them with holy water. He says they will help greatly against the demons. Does the same to a handful of his men’t revolver rounds.
Rip passes him a note to send for Gray Wolf if he can, have him follow with his best braves. And alert the Marshal as well.
Lamb’s men leave south. Not long out, they spot 9 flying demons overhead. Lamb orders to get under the best cover from above, and load the blessed rounds.
Lamb says wait until they dive to fire.
They immediately kill one man on their first attack, our shots miss.
Next dive we kill and wound 1, they both miss.
Lamb grabs the dead man’s gun, still with 1 blessed round. Kills one. 2 attack him 4/miss.
Next attack, we kill 1. They badly wound 2 of us.
Now out of blessed rounds.
They continue, we drop 4 in one round to finish them off.
1 man dead, 2 wounded.
The make it the rest of the way.
Rip volunteers to be the advance force. The Cpt. lets Rip take 4 privates from 1st Platoon to fill for the dead/wounded. We’ll leave in the morning.
L Troop 3rd Platoon will lead by a mile to 2.
He just barely finds trails early afternoon.
Pygmies went one way, bugs the other. Rip stops to snack, sends Jeremiah to follow goblins, Simon to follows bugs, for half an hour then report back.
Simon finds the tracks intentionally diluted, and soon hears their chitinous noises. He gets downwind and moves closer.
He sees a group of 32 and several animal carcasses which they are dragging into a hole in the ground.
Suddenly a click sound behind him, the pincers just missing as he ducks his head.
It fights rather than alerts the others. The electricity gets him good but he kills it with a great critical, avoiding the discharge.
The others have disappeared into the hole, so he makes his way back to the platoon.
Jeremiah’s trail is easy to follow. He hears screaming so moves forward. About 50 of them, none guarding, most with weapons on the ground.
10 are crowded around a native maiden, tearing her clothes off and preparing to violate her to death. The others are spread around the clearing. The others are having relations with each other!!! Aghast!! It seems some are subservient to others.
He charges into their midst, counting on the attention of most who are sexually involved to be too single minded to pay attention fast enough.
Trampling one on his way to the center. The one who just tore the squaw’s shirt open reacts immediately. Jeremiah puts a rifle bullet crit in his head DEAD.
Jeremiah almost misses her but she is so frantic her assist gets her on. The rest of her clothes are torn off as she does, draping herself in front of him.
One of them still clings to her foot, tunic and huge erect tool flapping grotesquely around.
As he had hoped, many are in their throws too much to have reacted. A bunch of arrows still fly at him. Only one hits however and its full speed away.
Out of sight of them, the horse hits a hole and breaks its leg, sending the 2 tumbling down. They are following wildly, we run for cover to hide in the roughest terrain in reach. 4 get really close, but pass them by hiding in a thicket.
He gives her his jacket to put on.
Hearing the shot, Rip rides out with 1st Squadron, telling the others to be on alert. Rip charges like lightning with saber crit DEAD beheading it.
Screams all around as about 30 run out from all sides, trying to pull his horse down.
The other of the troop fire a round first as Rip attacks w/ saber still. They kill 3.
Rip’s horse is stabbed by 9 spears. Bowfire at the horse as well hits 3 of their own and do a few to the horse. Rip is fired upon by many but only grazed once.
Another volley kills several then they charge in.
They continue at both Rip and his horse.
They take Rip’s horse down in the end, but we come out well off.
Gray Wolf’s Indians are here already! They must have been coming up themselves.
We take the west, Gray Wolf east as a split advanced force.
No sign of the light, but we head for its direction. Getting close.
Bear returns, says huge ambush of the little goblins ahead; at least a couple hundred. Another 50 yards and we are into the ambush.
Jeremiah returns as well: they are on both sides as well but back far enough we can get out of it if we ride fast.
About half a mile away is Bare Hill, which is just as it sounds. A bare topped hill high enough to negate their small bows. We make for the hill, hoping our main force can then hit them from behind if we draw them away.
Rip sends Bear to inform the Cpt. He gets away safely.
The hill is between us and Gray Wolf, so hopefully if there are enough to ambush him as well he will sniff it out and make the same tactical move.
We hear the yelling of the goblins, then Injun as we get close to the hill.
2 jump in front of Rip, in the lead. He tramples one but the other dodges. It grapples onto Rip’s leg and holds on, but Rip runs him through.
We meet GW at the top of the hill. They spotted their ambush sooner. We form a circle, carbines out.
We hear a scream of fear and pain from down below. One of our men is missing, and his horse. Pvt1 from 1st squad. They have him spread eagle to a cart top. It’s about a 200’ range.
They poke and prod w/ sticks. One wags at us. They turn to him and Jeremiah barely misses one of them by inches. Then hits 10 DEAD.
Noe 10 of them begin climbing all over the Pvt but before they can penetrate him Jeremiag mercifully kills him.
At least 600 it seems come out now and are readying to charge, then the bugle behind them from the company sounds! They make one rush up the the hill. We fire volleys as the Cpt hits their rear.
All in all, a good 200 are killed. The Cpt. lost 3 men dead; 12 wounded. They then route!
We move forward again, but now as a single group. Night time, the glow returns only a couple miles away.
Cpt asks for volunteer group to investigate tonight.
Rip does so, taking Bear, Jeremiah, Gray Wolf plus 2 of his Extra 5’s.
As we move in, there are no noises. Not bird nor cricket nor owl.
As Rip and Bear thought, the light comes from a cave. Inside, however, is a glowing spot suspended in mid air only about 20’ in.
In the darkness outside of the cave, several figures move about. It’s not the goblins, but man sized.
One of them walks into the light. It looks like a molten mass of oozing flesh below a partial torso and head. Face has the drooling candor of an idiot.
Now that we see it, that looks like what the other figures are as well.
Rip would rather not attack what he knows nothing about, preferring if the priest and Barrett were here.
Then something steps out of the cave, like a tall insectoid man with razor covered tail. Over 10’ tall, walks on 2 legs. Once outside, he immediately looks right at us and points! The head of the bloblike things begin squimelling towards us!!
We take off!
We are split in the dark into 2 groups.
Gray Wolf lags somewhat behind, and 1 catches up to him but he dodges the attack. It stays with him though, but misses! He pulls away finally. Whew.
The left group is only Rip and Bear, they stay together maintaining each other’s pace. They have to fight one of them, Rip stabs 8 as Bear misses. It definitely has DR. We move again, pulling further away.
Bear almost falls! Rip stops to helps him up. Same one reaches us, 2 others right behind those. It attacks with claws 4, Rip replies 10.
Bear is knocked down by a branch, Rip stops to block again as the same one is upon us as is a new one. Rip hits the same one again 6. The first misses Rip but Bear is hit 6.
We tear away this time, pulling away. Only the original stays with us as we turn to fight. It hits Rip 3, and RIp kills it. It pops open disgustingly and within moments it has rotted to nothing.
Report all that happened to the Cpt. He wants to withdraw, but Rip suggests digging in. We need the priest and Barrett, but we can’t let their army block the cave. That is surely where this whole thing is originating from. The Cpt takes Rip’s suggestion.
After a couple days, the rangers and other regiment arrive, but more of the enemy has come from the cave and joined the others. The Col. plans a 2 pronged attack. He wants to send a small group to blow the cave with a load of dynamite to cut them off from more reinforcements. Another group will dynamite the insect holes to close them. He feels confident that once they can get no more to add to their number, we can destroy them in a full campaign if it takes all spring.
Brittles will lead the force to the bugs.
Rip volunteers for the cave. Bear immediately says he’s in with Rip, as does Kincaid. Darby sends 10 of his rangers as a suicide squad to attack the demon, cause they hate them, to give us the opening we need to get in. 2 men from the ranks who are specialists in demolitions. The main Sgt2 Rip chooses from 1st squad; plus 4 super sneaky braves and Running Bear himself.
We ride a wide sweep before sneaking past the guards to come down from above and behind the cave.
On the way, something swings through the trees above. We stop silently. Something sniffs and then moves away not so quietly in the direction it was heading, not the cave. So far so good, it seems.
Mid afternoon, up and over the ridge where it is wide open for about 100 yards. So we either go quickly but more loudly, or quieter but more time in the open. Rip chooses quietly.
Almost into the woods on the other side, a bunch of the devil bats are swooping atop us. We have to melee so as not to make loud noise. Rip orders the specs to get in the middle and low. They swoop down and up, down and up. We handle them over a couple minutes with only fatigue loss.
We continue on. We drag the bodies into the woods so the are not spotted and hide them in some thick brush.
First, we evade about 100 of the little over groined goblins, hearing them coming a ways off. Kincaid saves us, for as we are ready to move on, he stops us and a squad of them being much more quiet skulks by. It would have been a set up.
Then a strong putrid smell. The lead group was marking the trail for those behind. Bear “I’m not going to tell you what they were using.”
Rip “I don’t want to know.”
Then, a tribe of baboons swinging through the trees, demonic. Bear hears them coming and we get low as they pass nearby.
Finally, we hear the last coming long off. A group of the blob demons, like the fight at the cave entrance, and a giant demon spider patrol by. It causes a sanity check for Running Bear, Bear and Kincaid. Running Bear loses 8 from the demon spider.
Bear recognizes the other thing with them, the big demon from the cave a few nights ago!! We may not have to deal wit him at all!
Now approaching the caves. As we get closer, see another demon only slightly smaller, but different sort.
Lots of the goblin things are around the entrance.
3 of our men go insane suddenly. 1 ranger feints. Another begins praying and checking to see if his gun is loaded compulsively. Bear suddenly does not realize what’s going on. HE turns from the demon and has amnesia as to what is happening. Rip is able to convince him as to what is going on. He will continue with us though his brain as far as knowledge is useless, and the feinter wakes up while we are talking. He’s otherwise fine.
Rip tells Compulsive to guard our rear and make sure his gun is loaded, and pray for our success.
We can see the goblins shiver any time they near the demon, and waves of cold emanate from him.
The rangers move down the treeline to their front of the cave and attack. Running Bear and the braves hit them from one flank and get between the demon and the goblins, drawing their attention.
The demon sends grunts at best, ordering them to attack. They do, and he advances to the braves.
We slip down around the corner of the cave and quickly in, killing 3 goblins just inside. We rush to the back and the glow. Several dead of the globlinoids lie there, ritually killed and guts spewing out. 10 others stand around regular ones. 3 dressed in ceremonial garb standing at the altar ready to slit another open. The one they just killed has a mist/fog emanating and sucked into the uprights flanking the gate. As it does, they glow more. We need to kill this guy, he’s the last so something bad may be about to happen if they succeed.
The high priest orders them to attack us, obviously. Then guts the last and the mist rises. Luckily,not quite enough it seems!!
A few rush us, the others fire arrows as combat begins.
Then they all charge as the specs, Kincaid and Sgt engage the archers, the high priest engaging Rip and getting crit’d DEAD immediately. W/in a few rounds they are all dead and the specs get to work with the charges as we guard.
They set the charges, and we make our way out
Meanwhile, the rangers engage the goblinoids in melee. The braves and Running Bear turn to the demon. Tomohak throws miss but for 1, which shatters upon him. He moves to them with his spear and hits 8lvlbrave 13. It also slows him. Running Bear fights with the axe of his forefathers, which sinks right in while the others have a difficult time.
Next round he wallops him to 10 wnd points.
The braves fight back fiercely against such a foe regardless.
The 8lvlBrave is killed, staying up into neg’s to absorb an extra attack!!
Couple rounds later, the demon drops another brave. Then a third while still fighting at -13 a couple rounds after that!
The last brave still fighting at -4!! as we rush out of the cave seconds after the TNT blows behind us. The rangers are firing a volley at the demon, having finished off the goblins but hit only once 7.
It gives a roar of rage. It holds its hands out toward the rangers and a blue rayish form bursts from his hand into the rangers, catching 6 of them. Ice forms on them in an instant, and frost as the power sucks all heat from the area for an instant 54. 5 die, the last has 1 would pt left.
The dying indian crits 14 with his last gasp.
RB hits twice 9/8. We volley again hitting multiple times.
Demon blood flows off of him, bubbling on the ground and sizzling.
He stops, arms up “Wait, wait, let’s make a deal.” It insists it will go back home, find a gate somewhere and he’ll tell us what is really going on.
We open fire, seeing his wounds healing.
The shots are crushing, all 11 or above and the last injun BRINGS HIM DOWN!!! and passes out at -6.
In the cave rubble, find a small iron chest; big old padlock of odd design. We take it with us. The occult guy says he feels great evil from it. Does not think there is a living force w/in, but an artifact of great power.
He and a couple of shamans perform an arcane ritual that takes all night. Rip is nervous of anything arcane at this point.
In morning, opening of box is very anticlimatic. Sound of a vaccum, and inside are thin metal sheets wired together to form a tablet/bood. Quite heavy for its size. The metal looks gold.
They set it on a table; has an eerie nasty symbol of a beastial face on the cover but no words. He has no idea what it is.
He opens the cover.
Pages have markings on them, perhaps a language as well as diagrams. 6 pages worth in all. He can’t read any of it.
We pack it back up.
Back to the fort, winter passes. The occult ranger guys leave for Tx. The priest stays behind, wanting to be near the book. Turns out he is a former vatican priest who took off from there, kind of a renegade, stole something.
Now and again, a random settler or passerby goes missing or is torn apart. We figure its leftover creature here and there. So, regular hunting patrols are sent and we have found and killed one of the insects or a goblin; also a force of several dozen of the manly hung devils we slaughtered easily; many are joint cavalry/brave.
On a Rip scouting foray:
Bear is in the lead, spots something: a thin rope or wire stretched across the path, set to fire a primitive xbow. He smashes the weapon. Then, he hears something, soft repetitive whisper. He returns to Rip to warn.
“Its evil, I can feel it.”
The braves are uneasy, “great cruelty in the woods”.
We look out warily. The braves spot a figure on each side, Rip spots the left so he rides for it with Bear. At the spot, nothing but tracks. Probably small, and oddly 3 legs or was dragging something.
One of those little devils with the huge parts.
We all feel uncomfortable, and hear the whisper. die die die die/kill kill kill kill.
Then we see smoke in the direction of the Blain place. They are massacred. Women raped to death; a hired hand crucified to the burning barn door; others via arrows.
Arrow misses a pvt!!
All of us but the pvt’s see the shooter.
We return fire, but it is hard to make out in the foliage of a tree. He is killed, and swings by security rope he had on him.
It looks like a Hung Devil, but slightly larger and muscular, but slightly smaller ‘equipment’. Also, no stem atop his head and his xbow has a clip holding 6 arrows at a time. Our first thought is a halfbreed, but what could survive the act of conception?
We search for the tracks of the attacking party.
Bear estimates 5 of them, leading to a road where there was no dirt road before. About 8’ wide; trees are knocked over but underbrush remains, though partially trampled. Not a road, the pathway of something big. Its easy to tell which way it went by the direction of the breakage. Tracks are circular, almost 3’ diameter prints. Listening, we can hear trees braking off in the distance.
The little bastards definately followed this thing.
We follow, trying to get at least a glimpse of what it may be.
It is a huge elephant thing, covered in shaggy hair; trumpet like roar; 4 tusks. Atop if is a houda with 6 or 8 hung devils in it.
A bit after mid afternoon we come to the camp. An area cleared by the trampling of the wooly beast; about 25 of the hung devils; a shaman hung devil is dancing around 2 stone pillars they have erected. THey start to glow as we continue to watch; air tween them flickers and cracks electricity. IT becomes like a window into another place; on the other side another wooly beast.
We are about 40’ away at woods edge and fire. We shoot him to pieces. The shimmering window shatters!! The huge beasts head and back to its front legs fall forward, severed, with the arms of the driver.
Rip orders a volley before the hung devils know what hit them.
13 of them have their missile weapons and return fire as the other grab their x bows.
Back and forth firefight as several board the elephant and another cuts it free.
We are dropping them good. By the time they have 9 left after several vollies, the beast is beginning to move.
The ldr on the beast at Rip “I want him!!!”
We finish all the infantry off as the elephant archers are firing.
The beast charges and reaches us, trampling one of the privates DEAD!!
We retreat to the horses as it starts breaking through and mount up.
After a couple rounds, only the driver remains as we fire on the run.
Rip asks if there is a good cliff near, Bear starts to lead us to a dropoff.
We finish off the driver as we start hitting the beast, it follows blindly!!!
We are lucky, after not even half a minute the cliff approaches.
It catches the mount of one of the braves, taking it own. The brave falls but rolls to safety.
Bear “Almost there!”
The privates peel off, as does the other brave to his friend. We weave in front to attract its attention so they can get away and fire away.
It drops the mount but the Sgt lands w/o injury.
We ride fast as possible for the cliff, w/o firing. Just at the cliff all but Rip veers off, Bear almost going over!!! Rip turns and waits until its almost on him then rushes cuts away and slashes its leg. It stumbles turning to swipe and tumbles off the ledge 100’ to its death!!
We fetch our poor privates body and head back to Fort Defiance to report.
We can handle the hung devils but if they start bringing worse through, ugh.
A cardinal from Italy is here!!! Cardinal Vaselino. Our defrocked priest sent for him. A master of lost languages.
Col. Thursday has given him the bood, he will start to work on it.
He says these monsters come from another world, but like a hell. There are people there, drawn through gates from our world.
He can’t translate all; part has been scratched away; part he can’t make out. Seems to be the writing of a crazy priest worshipping a demon worse than Satan himself.
“The thing is called Tharizdan “a dark thaought of the demon sultan azathoth made real”. He has no idea what that means. ‘It is the moment of chaos….." A lot of bad stuff that he has no clue of the real meaning. Tharidzun seems to not think like mortal, but manifests thougths all the same; its ultumate aim is the end of all existence including itself. This end will be achieved when Tharizdun is freed from its prison and awakened to full awareness. All will be unmade, as if never existed.
Bear "I don’t think I wanted to know this."
Only the insane and fooled worship him. Myriad organizations would work to stop him if they knew of him. He is not known, so few try to stop him. It is chained on the dark world, a thousand years or more ago humans crossed the gulf tween earth and there. Even some here on earth worship him, for he sends dark dreams and they become insane. Those things who opened that gate worship him and long for death and are insane. A priest seems to have written this in moments of sanity to warn mankind. Tharizduns works are only just starting. The invasion speaks of another demon, the Elder Elemental Eye. It is just an aspect though, acccording to the writer, of Tharizdun. All it says is a lie, those who worship are actually and unknowingly working to release Tharizdun. Likewise many of his agents who do not have clarity like the writer have infiltrated the cults of 3 other demon princes: Vaporous Potestatum the 5th lord of hell, aka Domini Ex Machinachunabus the steamlord; and Vaterum Saquamor Chamberlain of Hell, Dominus Mendicium Dominus Militarium, the cunning old one; Lilith mater Demonarium, consort of the Morning Star, the great theif, primo mulier."
Then a page about the ‘egg of coot’. Indecipherable via damage.
Then a page referring to the 5 races, presumably on the dark world, not counting humans.
Final page is the The Spell of Return: how to open a portal to this world. Cardinal is not sure if this means back and forth, one way, or what.
He says “No one can do this but me.” He insists on going, and trying to return to report to the Pope. “We may need a crusade. Time is of the essence.”
He wants to leave now!!
He asks Col. Thursday for an escort to be sent, a patrol. He hopes it won’t be a one way trip.
He agrees to copy the spell to use it to return, leaving the book in case others need to follow in our footsteps.
The Col. will only allow volunteers.
Rip insists on giving everyone a couple days to think things through, this is such an important decision.
Rip will visit the Tribe, seeking volunteers.
Couple days later
Rip; Bear; Running Bear, Kincaid, Father Vaselino, the occuld priest, 4 braves (2 x lvl7, 2x lvl 8), Sgt Tyree; blacksmith 2; lvl 8 specialist (demolitions and engineering).
We take pack mules rather than a wagon.
The spell is cast outside of the fort, in the woods. Tyree steals a gattling gun and ammo. He knows how to run one, as does the blacksmith.