Recovering from their exhaustion and pondering the mystical lady, the party finds shelter not too far away. Though evening is still some hours away, the days events have taken their toll. Was it random chance that the lady came through the ravine just then? Was she a more premeditated savior? Was their any connection between her appearance and the vision Bex had the day before? As a journey intent upon exploration and discovery, they so far seem to be getting farther and farther away from answers.
The next day comes and goes without incident, no one complains for that. Jeck is more quiet than usual, but otherwise the group is in passing spirits. The encounter with the Kesh and the Calyptor seems to have subdued the group, set their minds to their own personal thoughts and battles.
The group passes into a small valley with sheer walls, about half a mile wide and 100 feet tall. Being wary at this point of ambush, Jace levitates to the sides and quickly checks any obvious ambush points along the ridge. The cliffs on either side look clear and shear, nothing should be able to ambush them from the ridgeline. As they travel down the center of the ravine, being really the only clear and clean path through this stretch of hillside, Jace notices out of the corner of his eye movement on the eastern cliffside. He snaps his head to see a caped figure running, full pelt down the side of the deadly edge. He alerts his companions to the scene and soon enough the full group is aware of the chase. A group of Kesh, probably 4-5 strong, is chasing and gaining on what they believe to be a woman is flight. The group starts to run themselves, seeing danger in the proximity of the Kesh, but also wanting to see if it’s possible to help the woman. Even though they are running at full pelt, the woman looks to be gaining ground on them, she is moving faster than she rightly should, hounded by Kesh or not. Despite the speed, the Kesh continue to gain.
As the group nears the wall, not more than 50 feet from the side, the scene above reaches its confrontation point. The Kesh are feet away and looking up, it seems only a matter of seconds before one of the Kesh pounce. Abruptly the woman takes a single step towards the cliff edge and launches herself, directly parallel with the group below. Stunned by the dramatic leap, the group looks up in awe and dread. She flies out easily 25 feet before she starts to plummet. Facing head first, she hurdles toward the earth, only to flip her body around and land feet first just before hitting the ground. There is a tremendous smash and more noise and force than a woman so slight should rightly make. Dust flies into the air obscuring the vision of the entire group. Everything is quiet for the span of five to six seconds, then the wailing and howling starts from the clifftop. Clearly the Kesh are not happy with the result. At the ready and waiting, the group is intent to behold the scene as the dust clears.
In the fading dust they first see a silhouette, then the image becomes more clear. The woman is casually, almost saucily, sauntering their direction…
The first thing they notice is the legs, a slight pink glow in the joints of her clearly numenera bound feet and calves. As she comes more clearly out of the dust the light fades, leaving only the mechanical movement that somehow seems to have some swagger to it. Next they notice the arm, fully metallic and mechanical from the elbow down. The caped figure has a synth mask on, but the eyes reek of humanity. This person has entwined themselves with the numenera, but she remains clearly human.
She continues to saunter up to the group, sheathing her modified crossbow into a holster on her back. As the group watches on she unhitches the mask around her mouth and unleashes a devilish grin. Jeck goes to half mast immediately, though no one but the oncoming woman notices, paying the slightest and coyest of looks before returning her gaze to the group as a whole. She is beautiful and not a single person fails to acknowledge it in their own way. Adric hails her, but does so initially without tact, still taken aback by the situation. She quickly turns defensive, reaching for her crossbow. Being the master of social interaction he is, Adric quickly diffuses the tension and makes introductions. The woman acknowledges in time, but never slows her stride, continuing to move towards and through the group.
The wailing, barking and howling continues for a while longer, then abruptly stops as the Kesh run forward along the ravine, in the direction the group is and previously intended to move. They start to worry and talk about picking up the pace, for fear the Kesh might enter the ravine and cut off their escape. The woman, casual as ever, explains that the cliffside peels off to the east and does not intersect with this valley anywhere or anytime soon. She explains she’s run this path many times and knows from experience the lay of the land. When questioned how many times, she simply smiles and says, “many times.”
In continued conversation with the casual yet friendly woman, they learn her name is Jahira. She explains little, though from a bag hanging at her hip, they realize she must also be crystal hunting. There is bittersweet frustration as she seems to simply ignore questions of a personal nature. Why are you here? Where are you going? How long have you been here? All of these questions are either ignored completely or deflected with other conversation. She does not seem intent to learn anything from the group, but rather simply seems to enjoy the banter of human interaction and flirtation. Before long she addresses the group with five words that carry with them a finality to the interaction, “Good luck and good hunting.”
With that she runs west toward the far cliff face. As she nears the wall she pulls out a small cypher that launches a grappling hook near the top of the cliff. It connects with the cliff wall and she flies up towards the top as the device retracts on itself. In a manner of seconds she is gone, hoisting herself up onto the upper lip of the cliff, looking back for a couple seconds, cape flapping in the wind, and taking off westward. Dumbfounded by the days events but knowing this position is also known by the Kesh, the group moves forward with renewed intention.
It takes a few more hours before they clear the valley and the near distance they can see the river-forest glade and the river that feeds it coming from the western mountainside. They meet up with the river and its clarity gives them no misgivings that it is fresh. They take their fill from the slight though steadily moving river and refill their supply. As they move down the eastern bank towards the lightly forested area Jace first notices movement in the trees. He again alerts his companions. Adric tries to hail the creatures, for anymore than that can’t be determined from this distance.
The sound of a carrying voice rouses the creatures out of their reverie and they quickly move into formation and close on the group. They are a plant-like creatures, moving with human grace and yet being made fully from what looks to be plant matter, besides the eye, which looks like an oversized sentient eye on the end of a massive flower stalk. As the group closes and looks on to the potential threat Jace notices eyes on him. All at once, each of the seven eyes is on him, and more specifically on his decant satchel. The leader’s eye bugs out and then makes contact with each of the other eyes. This entire time Adric is trying to communicate, in every possible way he can with these creatures, to no avail. As soon as he spotted the creatures Jace began manipulating the gravitational pulls on his body, moving himself into a defensive position 15 feet above the ground and 10 feet over the river’s edge.
Despite Adric’s efforts, the plant creatures, called Golthiar, attack. They move quickly and in coordination, trying to flank and separate their foes. What they didn’t realize what that their only chance was to try and overwhelm one of these heroes each in it’s own time. A pair attack Bex, a pair to Jeck and the two remaining, plus the leader, attack Adric. Adric comes into the battle as if possessed, flowing with the combat as if he’d never lived a different life. As the first, and leader, comes in to attack him he nearly bursts into laughter as he predicts and guides the movements of the leader so perfectly that it nearly breaks its own arm against itself.
Bex arms her energy blade cypher and goes into a maddening rage, unleashing devastating and mortal blows with each swing her dagger-like cypher arm attachment. Systematically Jace unleashes blow after blow in the form of concentrated onslaught blasts from his hand. As both Adric and Bex dance around their foes Jeck seems to be missing a step. He take jab after jab, not seeming to be able to even defend himself, let alone go on the offensive. Seeing his plight first, Jace begins to target the foes surrounding Jeck from his elevated position. It isn’t long before Bex also notices the plight of Jeck and moves in to intercept. Jeck drops to his knees from the focused attacks but Jace and Bex are able to lay low his attackers, preventing further harm.
Adric moves like a bipolar combatant, moving from effortless dodges to fumbling attacks from round to round. Every perfect movement seems to be countered by a bone-head overconfidence that turns into a near defeat. This culminates in a perfect feint, leaving a wide open target, and in turn a foolish blind attack that leads to nasty counter attack that puts the thorny arm blade of the Golthiar in between his ribs. The blade twist and turns, releasing tiny spores that continue to attack from the inside after the blade has left the wound.
Over the course of the battle the wounded pile up more heavily on the Golthiar’s side. Bex systematically is ripping the creatures apart while Jace pummels them from afar. Adric holds the majority in limbo and while not being a overly effective combatant, his capture of the enemies attention provides distinct advantage to his more offensively minded companions.
During the battle Jace unleashes a particularly devastating blast that drops the lead Golthiar to his knees. The attack takes it from behind and drops it to it’s knees, but in the action its head rotates around to face Jace. The eye is completely bloodshot and locks eyes with Jace. Over the next few rounds Jace watches as what looked like blood veins slowly turn from red to green, starting from the outside and working their way in.
When the veins turns completely green Jace feels a penetration of his mind, a probing, a searching for something. As his mind is tortured by the intrusion he begins to feel the presence within him, a searching, a frantic searching for something. Jace splinters his mind and concentrates on the here and now while also trying to maintain the connection with this creature, to learn its intent. As the Golthiar sifts through memories at a breakneck pace, it settles longer on the memory of Jace in the Filo forest, receiving the bag he uses to hold decants, from the old hermit in the woods. Once this memory fades he feels the release and starts to see new images. He can only assume they are being implanted by the creature making eye contact with him. At this point the penetration in his mind is too complete and Jace loses his contact with reality, dropping the gravity field around him and sending him plummeting into the water. Bex and Adric notice Jace plummet and at the same time see the eye drop lifeless from leader, who slumps over on the ground.
As he drops he sees an image of himself and his companions digging a hole and burying the lead Golthiar in the soil and watering the ground afterward. In seeing the image, subconsciously Jace decides he will follow through with this action. In creating that thought more thoughts are projected into his mind. To remove and use the shield and dagger like natural weapons to further his own agenda. Never one to deny an opportunity, Jace works on collecting this weapon and shield after digging burying the lead Golthiar. The other Golthiar that have passed seem to be degrading at an incredible rate, but they are able to capture a single eye stalk because of a well timed slash from Bex earlier that severed the head from the body. No one knows for sure, but the eye may be worth a pretty penny on the black market to the right buyer. They also are able fill a bloodthorn vial with living sap from one of the Golthiar before it completely hardens and goes inert.
Having looted what they could, the group agrees to camp out at the river and decide on a course of action in the morning…