We wake up in the ship in the jungle on a strange planet. Largram, Athelstan, Inara, and Samsara decide to adventure out into this world while the others remain on the ship and inspect it more closely. The jungle is dense trees and vines, so Inara climbs up to the top to look around and try to get our bearings. There are mountains off in the distance, but jungle as far as she can see with no sign of civilization.
She climbs down, and then out from the underbrush pop three bionic compys! They are the sizes of large chickens, and they have strangely shaped metal armor around their heads, necks, and chests. Their front arms are short, and they walk on two muscular legs. Their muzzles are elongated, with rows of sharp teeth. We have never seen anything like these creatures before. Inara charged, tripped, and fell face down in the dirt, which sent the compys squawking and then they attacked.
Largram wounds one as Athelstan kills the first one by practically slicing its head off. Samsara stays back as much as possible, calling upon the god of war to aid his teammates in this fight against these hairless, featherless chickens.
Inara gets up and kills the second compy while Athelstan grapples the third compy and traps it. As it struggles, its foot gets caught in its bionic armor and it entangles itself. They have the bionic armor with a sphere on the front, which is an eye that is looking around, focusing and refocusing, until Inara stabs it (the eye) and the compy dies. She got an electrical jolt (like lightning!) but she went ahead and destroyed the other two eyes from the other two compys.
We head in the direction the compys came from, with Athelstan in the lead, Inara behind him, Samsara behind her, and Largram protecting us from the rear.
In front of us out of the jungle appears a much larger, more dangerous lizard with wicked horns along its nose and up its forehead. Its jaws are twice as big as Inara, with teeth as long as our hands. We have never seen such a terrifying beast, and then we notice there is a rider.
Samsara uses Comprehend Languages to learn that his name is Edin, he is a trader, and he is riding a thornmule. He tells us about the trouble in Dalruan, the town he just left, and that one of the packs are messing with nature, altering the ‘chickens’ and the ‘wingless dragons’ (aka dinosaurs!)
We continue heading to Dalruan. The sun rises and sets at random, so no two days or nights are ever the same length. (The first day was about 5 hours long, then the night was 15 hours, then the next day was 5 hours, the next night 2.5, then day 7.5…) As we come to the edge of town, we run into the town guards riding bionic velociraptors who escort us into town. Samsara casts Comprehend Languages again and then performs an interpretive oratory to try to answer the guard’s questions about who we are and what our business is. His name was Lull, and he was very helpful in pointing us towards a tavern.
As we walk through Dalruan, we see dinosaurs of all shapes, sizes, and colors being ridden by bionic and metal clad riders. There are also dinosaurs being used as pack animals, with their owners walking alongside through the market streets. Inara orders a drink, downs it, and then downs Athelstan’s as well. Largram tries his, and Samsara takes a couple of sips and feels poisoned.
Samsara casts Purify on our mugs to better enjoy it and pulls out his inkpen and parchment to begin drawing a crude map of where we are, where we landed, and what we’ve learned so far. A male half elf at another table motions for us to join us. His name is Finway, and Samsara attempts more half-hatched hieroglyphic sign language. We find out that “shabba” means dinosaur—we think—and he is from the Sha-Linn pack. Largram takes the lead in talking to him (after he casts a communication spell) and we confirm what we previously learned about Juster Larker, the leader of the Ewick pack who is messing with nature and using black magic. There are 5 packs of Dalruan, and each pack has its own language, so information brokers are a commodity here.
They used to have dragons on this planet, until the world was ravaged, the dragons were taken, and the lizard kings (dinosaurs) remained with the population. Juster Larker is trying to bring back the old ways by using metal to create the armor on the dinosaurs. When we tell him we came here on a ship, he freaks out and tries to run away.
We follow him, and Athelstan pins him to the wall in the alley while we keep questioning him. Finway thinks we are the “Purifiers” in a prophecy that would return (aka what happened when the world was ravaged the first time.) He tells us how to find Larker, and we let him go, even though both Largram and Inara wanted to stab him at one time or another.
As we travel out of town to go find Larker, we see strange men in dark hoods in a clearing who wave at us, riding red wingless dragons. We camp in the second clearing, Athelstan, Largram, and Inara go compy-hunting and bring one back for Samsara to Purify, and then we eat and rest.
We continue on the road to the Temple of Goldenway, which appears from the outside to be a magnificent, abandoned structure. The outside looks to be made of gold columns surrounded by the skeleton of a very large, menacing dinosaur. As we approach, we see a tiefling cavalier riding a bipedal, horned dinosaur with wicked teeth. Her helmet reflects her mount’s horns, and she carries a bionic trident. Inara on her wolf charges the tiefling cavalier. It attacks back and does some heavy damage to Inara.
Samsara casts Bless from a safe distance back, and Largram and Athelsan attack as well, forcing the tiefling to retreat. Samsara heals Inara, and then we venture inside. There is a large cavern, which we expected, with a great opening in the middle, which we did not. We stick to the edges, seeing catwalk pathways that lead to columns in the middle of the cavern which hold glass tubes. Inside the glass tubes are dead dragons.
Inara and Athelstan are in the lead. Samsara walks cautiously and Largram realizes someone is following us. We turn collectively and gasp in horror. It’s Juster Larker, the “Scholar of the Old Ways”. He tells us he was born human and turned into this. He is a humanoid triceratops dinosaur. His scaly blue skin is rough and mostly covered in armor. Though he has the typical dinosaur snout and razor sharp teeth, he is able to communicate clearly with us. He tells us about the experiments and the dragon tubes used to enhance the Gatherers for the harvest. He takes us down the catwalks to a chamber with Power tubes that distribute energy back to the Collectors.
He tells us he has a special Gathering of Dalruan just for us, the “Purifiers” (he, too, believes our coming was foretold by the prophecy) and he pulls up screens of the town and the surrounding jungle to show us. We see the most fearsome sight yet: the king of the thunder lizards, a Tyrannosaurus Rex, wearing a weaponized bionic helmet with cylinders that spit fire (machine guns) strapped to its shoulders and either side of its jaws.
We ask, then command, him to prove to us the creature is under his command by shutting it down and calling it back, and he pauses the dinosaur’s attack, suspicious of us. The machine gives him a riddle to commence shut down:
Bury deep, pile on stones
My mind will always dig up the bones.
Samsara responds in kind, attempting to reverse the machine’s orders:
Stop the harvest, this is not the Gather.
Ponder through, we would rather.
Larker begins to question whether we really are the Purifiers or not. Largram uses his falchion and Athelstan uses his longsword to convince him otherwise, and he goes down, bleeding. Menawhile, Inara tries to abort the dinosaur, and the machine asks us for the password.
We try and fail several times, and the Gatling-gun T-Rex is JUST about to lay waste to Dalruan when Athelstan solves the riddle! “THOUGHTS” is the correct password, and the creature stops just short of the town.
Then we hear Star-Blind‘s voice communicating with us through the crystals we took from the ship. He has figured out they are communication devices as well as power sources for the ship. Largram figures out where to put the crystals in Larker’s control panel to charge them, so we take his crystals as well as our own.
The T-Rex is still lost in the jungle, so Samsara attempts to command the machine to bring it back:
Return to us, monster large.
We are now the ones in charge.
It roars and we see on the screen that it comes charging full speed for the temple, leaving streaks of fire trails behind it…
…and because it is running straight for our location, we run a safe distance away and watch as the T-Rex crashes into the temple. One of the Gatling guns slices the tiefling cavalier in half, and as we double-time it back to the ship, we hear and feel explosions in the temple behind us.
We can see a smoke plume above the tree line as we get back to the ship, shove the crystals into their power sockets, and tell Star-Blind to beam us out of here. There is a volcano-type explosion from the temple, and the earth cracks as Star-Blind shakily lifts the ship off, veering in different directions, while Inara and Samsara freak out a little bit at what’s happening out the window.
Inara: Get us UP!
Samsara: Yes, yes, without the oops…
He safely pulls us up and away from Dugnai II just as the ground opens up beneath us, billowing steam and lava, and says, “Where to?”