Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Aephyus Lantern Year 11 (Part 1)

         Another hunting party set forth with the intent of tracking down yet another Antelope to render for resources in order to create great new weapons and armour at the Blacksmith which had been erected in Aephyus. Thalia declined to go along, stating that she would remain behind and meditate on how she would train the future Twilight Knights of Aephyus so that they may take up her blade when she inevitably had to depart the settlement. Gaea and Caleb thus set out with Diana and Lorena on what they hoped would be a fairly routine hunt...

It was soon apparent though that the good hunting times may well be over as they stalked onwards with little in the way of sign of their intended prey. Eventually though they picked up what they believed to be the track of a mature Screaming Antelope when they came across a massive pile of vomit. The survivors dug through the vomit eagerly and found many partially digested Acanthus leaves which they ate eagerly to renew the energy they had spent whilst on their hunt. There was little else of value though and Gaea with her greater understanding began to suspect that they were not the first to come upon the Antelope's tracks. As they carried on the trail became clearer and soon they were guided by the stench of rotting meet towards a large clearing. There before them stood the greatest White Lion they had ever seen, greedily feasting on the corpse of an antelope. The beast looked up at them and let out a roar that shook the survivors to their core. In terror Lorena and Diana made to run, but Gaea, fortified by her sense of destiny, and Caleb, propelled by his madness, yelled at them to take up positions on top a nearby stone face and ready their bows. Gaea readied her shield and the battle began.
So the odds of fighting a Level 3 White Lion in any given hunt are high enough that this was bound to happen eventually. I was just thankful it happened prior to Overwhelming Darkness as I would need all the survival I could muster to make it through.

They had fought the Butcher, defeated the King's Man and laid waste to countless lesser White Lion's and Screaming Antelopes, but nothing had prepared them for the wrath of an elder lion. It rushed into Gaea and unleashed a savage flurry of blows; some she could dodge, others she batted away desperately with her shield, but yet more fell on her armour, leaving her fighting just to stay on her feet. She managed it though, giving an opening for her companions to unleash arrow and axe upon the Lion. From the relative safety of a stone face Lorena and Diana let a volley of clawed arrows off and pierced the beast's side. Caleb though was less fortunate and after planting the Butcher's Cleaver into the beast's flank received crushing blows to the chest and arms. He shouted to Gaea to hold the beast's attention for as long as she could and fled to the relative safety of the stone face.

Valiantly Gaea blocked and dodged the White Lion's attacks while the archers let loose on it, all while Caleb cried out orders and encouragement. It was a losing battle though, and twice she lost her footing, only managing to get back up at the lost moment the first time thanks to Caleb's manic commands. The second time she lacked the strength to get back up and could only gasp for air and try to avoid choking on teeth which had been knocked loose by the Lion's blows. Tired of her, the Lion rushed at Lorena and Diana and mauled both savagely, injuring Lorena severely and leaving Diana's armour in tatters. The Lion too though was greatly injured and bled from over a dozen wounds inflicted by the brave survivors. It was confused and had slowed, but still had within it the strength to kill any of the weakened survivors with ease. The battle would be decided soon one way or another.

With a supreme effort of will Gaea righted herself, came back to her feet and lifted her shield. In that moment she and Caleb locked eyes. He nodded at her and with that she pulled from her belt one of the sacred founder's stones, the one which had been used by Rhea so many years ago to defeat the first White Lion. With all her strength she hurled it at the White Lion and was satisfied to see it rend it's flesh asunder and send a spray of dark crimson blood into the air. Enraged the Lion charged her. Time seemed to slow as the beast covered the ground to assault her. Gaea did not know if she could see off the monster again, but knew that she would try. On the abomination came until it crashed to the ground at her feet. As it's head lolled over she could see a second founding stone, hurled by Caleb, buried deep in the skull of the beast. Exhausted, she collapsed to the ground.

The moment of victory and not a moment too soon.


The others limped and scurried to Gaea to check her. They were elated to find that she was breathing and that for the most part her bleeding had stopped. She would live to fight again. Caleb moved to wake her so she could help butcher the kill, but Lorena (Gaea's sister) and Diana pleaded with him to let her rest. The mercurial Caleb agreed that Gaea had already done her part and the trio slowly began their tiring work of rendering the bounty they had received from such a powerful monster and bringing it back to the settlement. Gaea was dragged back on a litter, her wounds continuing to heal, in turns by the survivors. A rivalry almost developed between Diana and Lorena over who could carry their fallen comrade further, but quickly they realised how petty they were being and halted their bickering.

It was well enough that they made their peace and that the survivors had let Gaea rest, for when they returned to the settlement they found that yet another armoured figure had encroached on their homes. Icarus ran out to meet the party and declared that the arrogant entity had gathered up all of the settlement's hard won resources, including their precious iron, and was about to destroy it all.  The party was unsure what to do, and panic threatened to unhinge the survivors. Gaea's voice then cut through the discussion like a thunderbolt, "Over my dead body will we give up what we have earned." Miraculously her wounds had healed quickly on the trip home and she stood ready to battle once more...

The Hand resplendent in all his finery!


*****************************COMMENT**************************************

Woah, I knew there was a significant risk to hunting L2 Screaming Antelopes but my heart still skipped a beat when I saw that I was going to have to fight a L3 White Lion. The fight itself was beyond brutal. It consisted largely of letting the Lion beat on Gaea, while the two archers used the range of the Vespertine Bows in order to be out of range of monster reactions. This drastically slowed down the rate at which I could do damage to the White Lion and in turn put even more pressure on Gaea. Ultimately, Diana and her high +Luck was the deciding factor as this allowed me to put up some persistent injuries on the lion which ultimately made him manageable. Ultimately I made the choice to use two founding stones to finish the fight as otherwise I was soon going to be facing either death or severe injuries which would have made 3 of my star fighters useless. As it was I was lucky to get out of the fight with some broken teeth, a few skip the next hunt effects and nothing that will prevent Diana, Caleb or Gaea from being useful in the future. Lorena was worse effected and now no longer will have a shot at the first team.

I got home to find the Hand going through my stuff and rolled up that if I let him he would destroy all my resources. I have 4 iron plus a bunch of other stuff in there, so I'll be damned if I'm letting him have it.


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