Note: If you haven't read Ultraviolet Grasslands, most of this writeup will seem like psychedelic heavy metal Mad Libs. Even if you have ready UVG it's going to be a mess.The members of the Cat's Meow Trading Company are:
Cogflower necromancer lawyer. A mutant human thief/necromancer and warlock of Kon-Fabulate. Equipped with starscape skin, a vibrating thumb, a telephone that talks to dead people, and a surprising number of explosives.
Bluelander engineer. A human hunter on the run. Member of the Bluelander Liberation Front.
Gormog the Builder
Safarian merchant adventurer. A half-orc barbarian/fighter and warlock of Kon-Fabulate.
Exiled pirate liberal. A half-elf barbarian chased out of the Red Lands for their radical views, Clovis has a chainsword and a tattooed map to an aerolith fortress.
Wine vampire priest. A dwarf forcebender wizard and warlock of Deel, Orbital Wargoddess. Full of a strange blend of bloodlust and diplomacy.
A dwarf demon hunter from the Red Lands secretly fighting the most perfidious demon of all: capitalism.
Degenerate quarter-ling Docteure Massese, the faceless Oblong Dusk provides healing and sensual massage... for a fee. A fleshbender and warlock of Deel, Oblong has a free-spirited approach to teamwork, fees, and property.
Transport: 2 mules, 2 carts, 1 looted one-person porcelain walker, 4 zombie porters.
Hirelings: 4 Bluelander Revolutionaries, 1 Orangelander Pirate Liberal.
Side Note: the rest of this post contains minor spoilers for the adventure "Glass House of a Dead Prince", UVG pp. 30-31.
Frieda had just regained control of her mule when a massive explosion lit up the sky. Black smoke and shards of dryland coral drifted on the air.
"That's not good," she said, watching a thick block tumble end over end before vanishing behind a hill. She started to urge her mule into a trot (its fastest speed), then let the reins slacken. If the explosion had killed her friends, rushing wouldn't help. If they were injured, she wasn't a doctor. And if their enemies - the hairy devils that had chased her and the Bluelanders away from the house - were the cause, rushing towards danger was unwise.
At a gentle walk, with her weapons at the ready, Frieda cautiously followed the track back to the house. Along the way, she spotted a strange trail through the ash and scrub. It looked as though a huge wheel or sphere had been pushed off the trail and into the wilderness. Some sort of autogolem? Frieda couldn't say. Perhaps her friends knew.
Her friends had indeed survived the explosion. After dragging the Good Docteure away from the makeshift morgue-abbatoir in the partially demolished kitchek, the party returned to the ruined front of the house to plain their next move. Frieda's return to shouts of "You lived!" and "I am a real doctor!".
"What did you do to the house?" Frieda asked. "Are there any hairy devils left?"
"None. Say, what were those things?" Gormog asked the demon hunter.
Frieda explained that hairy devils were summoned from the sixth of eight hells. Binding them requires a circle of ancient power. They can only be summoned once per time period; month, week, or, in the case of dread daemonologists, day. In all probability the party was safe for at least a week.
"Excellent," Granville said. "Let's get looting."
Large cracks in the dryland coral and concrete raised many concerns, especially among the two devotees of Kon-Fabulate. The front few rooms on the house (7-11) were buried under rubble. The second floor contained a third "polybody" corpse arranged in a deeply unconvincing suicide.
"So they got into the bath, filled it, turned off the taps, used this electric drill on both wrists, then neatly placed the drill next to the bath?" Clovis said.
"No. Someone did a suicide to them," Oblong said sagely.
"I think that's called a murder."
"Yes. Murder by suicide by drill and bathtub. Has anyone checked the medicine cabinet? Oooh, look, drugs!"
The tearway roll of drugs was labelled "DRUGS" and contained individual serving-sized pill packets. Oblong, Frieda, and Clovis downed one packet each. Over the next half hour, textures and colours became very interesting. While Frieda and Clovis took turns petting a looted fur rug, Oblong wandered downstairs to disembowel the three polybody corpses and impale their remains on pikes in the garden. To each their own.
Karl, to conform to the commands of his patron Deel, secretly blasted a support pillar with a force bolt. The resulting collapse demolished part of the upper floor and the unlooted library (12). The loss of magic books was lamented by the other wizards, but Karl, and Deel, were secretly pleased.
A continual loop of hirelings and zombie porters hauled all valuable items onto the front lawn for sorting and distribution. The party discovered the pantry under a slab of dryland coral; the well-stocked room prompted a proper feast. Vampire wine, candied fruit, and preserved meats were freely distributed.
The party elected to spend the night in the two cottages (1, 2). A vomish devourer-wurm attacked in the night and devoured two Bluelanders before Lapis and Frieda smashed it into fragments. The point-singularity engine at the heart of the wurm was destroyed but Gormog, the only one able to "safely" dig through the wurm's guts, pulled out 200 cash worth of dubious oldtech.
This isn't exactly what the vehicle looked like, but it's close enough. I'm amazed that art of a scarab-propelled house exists at all, to be honest.
An imperious holographic face appeared on the front of the sphere. It roared,
"MERCENARIES OF SATRASCO 3-BODY. I am Bestiana Air-Weaver. You have fought bravely. You may leave in safety. If you insist on defending this place, you will die. I will call up more hairy devils and worse things besides. THUS SPAKE BESTIANA."
"Err," Frieda said, boldly walking towards the sphere with her hands in the air. "I think there's been some mistake. We don't work for Satrasco. They're dead. Or maybe they faked their death?"
"LIES," the sphere intoned. "Where is Satrasco? They owe me a FUCKING LOT OF MONEY."
"Look, we don't know! Feel free to search the place. We'll put down our weapons," the dwarf said, frantically gesturing at the rest of the party, "but the polybody isn't here. We found this house abandoned! And we've been, err, examining it."
"For clues!" Lapis added, nodding enthusiastically and trying to step between the sphere and the heap of loot on the lawn.
"AH! So you are THIEVES. Splendid."
"Can you send out someone we can talk to or show around? My throat is getting sore."
A few minutes later, a hatch opened in the side of the sphere. Three golems descended. All seemed to be crafted from clay-like flesh and chrome. One, the largest and clearly the leader, had a vid-screen head. The other two creations were child-sized, had amber rotating beacons for heads, and shrunken arms clutched close to their chests. They moved like little raptors.
"I would die for them," Frieda whispered, enraptured by the adorable little golems.
"We can show you the bodies of the fake polybodies," Gormog said to the golems. "If you'll just come this way..."
At the rear of the house, just outside the kitchen, the three impaled bodies glistened in the early morning sun."I just want to make it clear that the state of these bodies, with regards to impalement and disembowelment, was an individual effort, and should not reflect on the group as a whole." Frieda and the rest of the group stared at Oblong Dusk with increasing disdain.
The golems examined the bodies, assisted by the Docteure's commentary, and concluded that they were not true polybodies. Further evidence, in the form of the missing autogolem, sabotage in the garage, and the unconvincing staged suicides, convinced Bestiana Air-Weaver of the truth of the party's claims.
"I must seek Satrasco," the lead golem said. "Have you damaged the brass defense constructs?"
"Nope, didn't touch them," Lapis said truthfully.
"We will collect them," the golem replied.
"Out of curiosity, how much does Satrasco owe you? If we paid you, could we own the constructs instead?" Gormog asked.
"Satrasco 3-body owes 60,000 cash for the term of their lease, plus additional penalty fees."
"Yeah, we don't have that kind of money. Do you need help loading the constructs? Also, we have this cryo-casket and for sale..."
The barbarian king in the casket provided very little useful information. He knew he was King Elre the Dreaming, and that he'd been sent forward in time to warn his descendants of something, but his memories were scrambled. "A memory-eater may have found his cryo-casket or original resting place. It happens," Bestiana helpfully added. "Unless you can find the original memory-eater and squeeze the memories out, I doubt he'll be much use."
The only thing that seemed to trigger a memory was the double pyramid tattoo on Clovis' arm. The double pyramid, the animated tetralogy, the floating aerolith fortress, the poem scratched into the wall of the Last Serai, and now a brain-fried barbarian prince... was it all connected?
The party didn't know. Oblong helpfully spent the rest of the day secretly swapping facial features with the barbarian until the Good Docteur had an new and improved face and the cryo-traveller had a miscellaneous collection of features. To celebrate a successful day of
Docteuring, Oblong also cast mutate on themself, dropping their voice 3 octaves and getting slightly more dexterous.
As Bestiana's spherical golem-house flew into the dusk, the party planned their next move. They spent the next four days packing their carts, burying excess loot, and trying to repair one of the autogolems. Lapis' mechanical knowledge and some bio-printed components provided by Oblong got the vehicle running.
At dawn, a full week after they'd left the Porcelain Citadel, they set off into the ash wastes, heading south to the Potsherd Crater. No trade routes or patrols crossed these wastes. They were heading into unknown territory, a blank spot on the map.
Would the party survive their treacherous trek through the blasted and desolate lands between the Porcelain Citadel and the Potsherd Crater? What ancient prophecy swirls around the mysterious aerolith? Would they ever make enough money to throw a really good party?
Find out next time.