Departing on a world voyage from Vladivostok, Hugo‘s freighter runs into some rocks while attempting to avoid a rapidly approaching ley line storm, running ashore on a nearby island where he encounters Sue ’Gunner’ Jones. Together, the two unlikely heroes must make sense of their peculiar predicament and find a way off the island.
6th of August, 95 P.A.
In an effort to avoid a ley line storm, the crew of the S.S. Batros run ashore and become stranded on a mysterious island. While examining the damage to their vessel, Hugo determines it will take a minimum of a month of hard labor before the freighter is sea worthy again. Realizing they lack the the necessary materials to make the repairs, Captain Anton Petrov shares his concerns with Hugo who explains he intends to explore after he is finished taking into account the severity of the damage. Breaking away from the captain, Hugo makes his way to the beach where he is momentarily dazzled by a stray bolt of ley line energy in the upper atmosphere and the sudden unexplained appearance of a heavily armored jeep in the sky above him. Unable to move away quickly enough, the airborne vehicle careened headlong into the mystic smith, knocking him off. Expertly backing the vehicle off Hugo, Sue apologized and emerged from the Death-rattle, dumbfounded by the tropical landscape and clean air, all things completely alien to him.
After an awkward introduction, Sue thought he spotted a humanoid shadow in the jungle out of the corner of his eye and the two agreed to explore the island together in search of locals; with the hopes that they would be friendly and might be able to assist them find a way off the island. Unwilling to risk his jeep in the dense thicket, Sue drove it up off the beach but before he turned off the engine he thought he caught a glimpse of a man in black in his rear-view mirror. Looking again, he dismissed it as a momentary fantasy and began camouflaging the vehicle with the local greenery.
Prepped and ready to go, the two adventurers charted a course for the dormant volcano near the center of the island and began cutting their way through the jungle. Although they happened upon evidence of a couple of large unknown snakes, they were easily avoided and their journey went relatively peaceful until they were ambushed by Khun Chih, a miscreant Naga Magician who attacked from the treetops, entangled Hugo in a writhing net of mystic serpents then bought Sue to knees with a occult invocation that wracked his body with indescribable agony.
With his prey captured, Khun began the interrogation but a language barrier prevented him from gathering information from Hugo until Sue had recovered from his excruciating ordeal. Drilling the two on Hugo’s golden relics, it quickly became apparent that the Serpentine Sorcerer was in search of a mythic place known as Merro-Tah and believed that the Mystic Smith knew its location. Things looked grim for the heroes, until Hugo distracted him, catching him by surprise and delivering a crushing blow with his tremendous maul. Rearing from the blow, the Naga sprang back at the smith and attempting to seize the relic (Hammer), although unsuccessfully. Prepping his flamethrower Sue raised it and took aim, but realized just in time that if he targeted Khun within such close proximity to Hugo he ran a risk of catching them both in the blast and held his fire. Retaliating with another fierce blow, Hugo found himself outclassed and outmaneuvered. Greedy ripping the hammer from the Smith’s hands, Khun sent the golden maul skittering across the battlefield and into a nearby tree. However, before he could recover it Sue slid in out of nowhere and in a show of near-superhuman strength lifted the hammer above his head, catching upon its gleaming golden head the piece of radiant sunlight slipping through the canopy. Hissing in rage, the serpentine sorcerer lunged for the hammer but was struck in the back of the head by the smith and landed at Sue’s feet. Hammer already raised high above his head, Sue stepped into the swing and bought it down on Khun, crushing his ribs and leaving him broken and defeated.
Pleading for his life and throwing himself at their mercies, Khun promised to do anything he could for the heroes. Although angry and disgusted by his earlier attack and cowardice, the heroes choose to take him up on his offer. Promising to spare him if he assists them getting off the island. Following which, the defeated Naga explained that he lacked the materials to assist them but his people could. Further explaining that he had been exiled from his people for seeking knowledge not intended for him, and once again throwing himself at their feet and pleading forgiveness. Cautiously accepting his words as truth, the heroes made Khun promise to take them to his village where they could negotiate aid from his former queen.
After some hours travel the two heroes arrived at a small lush green canyon with a river flowing into it, at first they saw no signs of life but Khun explained that his people live in specially concealed tunnels whose mouths can only be seen from a certain angle due to carefully placed optical illusions. Leading them to the top of the canyon, the heroes confirmed this for themselves then released the sorcerer from his pact and sent him slithering back into the shadow of the jungle. Heading back and into the mouth of the canyon, the heroes made their way into the village where they were ambushed by a small Naga girl on a rocky outcrop who was frightened by them and threw a stone. However, while tossing the stone at Hugo she slipped and began falling to the ground, moving with incredible speed and grace for a man his size, Hugo managed to catch the girl before she struck the ground. Although in her panicked state she attempted to bite and poison him, fortunately her underdeveloped fangs could not pierce his shimming golden chain-mail and he placed her down without harm before she could any inflict further damage.
Surprised by the bipeds kindness, the concealed Naga allowed the heroes to approach nearer before revealing themselves and stopping their advance. Negotiations were strained as the heroes learned that they were the first humanoids the Naga had encountered and their appearance was considered strange and unusual to the serpents. However, after once again showing diligence and patience they the head of the guard revealed herself and came before them. She explained that they should dismiss the words of her insubordinate and advance through a hidden passage at the base of the waterfall so they could meet the queen and her entourage. Thanking them, Sue and Hugo made their way to the water’s edge and then Hugo told the hell-born to take hold of his shoulders so he could swim them to their destination.
Emerging from the water into an ornate underground place chamber, the two heroes were greeted by the Daalthi the Naga Queen, who explained that she had expected them and subtlety challenged them with a number of moral and philosophical tests, before accepting that their arrival had indeed been ordained by their prophecy and revealing the greatest secret of their people to them in exchange for their assistance. Agreeing to aid them in exchange for food for the crew of the S.S. Batros and materials for repairing the ship, Daalthi’s entourage came forward and wove images in illusion before them with their magics as Daalthi explained that they have long sort the ancient treasure of their people, but it is hidden in the enigmatic Merro-Tah and can only be recovered by the golden warrior. Promising to recover this treasure and return it to the Nagas, Daalthi’s entourage implanted knowledge of the location into their minds with their magic and then created a great rift that would transport them there. However, the heroes turned down the opportunity, feeling they would be unprepared were they to head there directly. Respecting the heroes wishes, Daalthi bid them farewell on their journey and the heroes left the chamber to recover their weapons, which they had left outside of the queens chamber under the protection of the guard as a gesture of good faith.
Departing from the Naga village Swoah, the heroes made their way across the island on foot until they came across the mythical overgrown palace of Merro-tah in a large glass bio-dome that had long since been overgrown and hidden by the jungle. Curious, the two heroes gathered their courage and advanced towards the central structure. However much to their surprise, when they were within 40 feet (12.1 m) large polished black laser cannons emerged from the walls and began scanning the environment. For reasons unknown, the laser cannons did not target Hugo but Sue wasn’t so lucky and was caught in a devastating blast that blew him off his feet and almost killed him. His heart racing, Sue rushed for cover behind a tree where he remained beyond the range of the sensors. There he watched as Hugo strolled unharmed into the facility, through several advanced sensor sweeps until he found himself inside the dilapidated remains of the palace, where before him stood a large Pre-Rifts bank vault. Using his knowledge of metallurgy and immense supernatural strength, Hugo disassembled the hinges and then ripped the vault door out of the wall and tossed it to one side. Blinded momentarily by a brilliant golden light that soon subsided, Hugo looked in the vault unsure exactly what he would find but expecting much more than what he did. There, on a pedestal at the center of the room as a small gemstone sitting on a stand. Approaching it and examining it, even Hugo’s rudimentary knowledge of gemology was enough to recognize this was no normal gemstone, it was clearly artificial in nature. Reaching out and taking the gemstone, the dull crystal gained illumination and sprang to life projecting a beam of solid energy into the crown of Hugo’s helmet, but to no effect. After a moment, the gem deactivated once again and Hugo carefully placed it in his toolbox before making his way back out of the facility, once again easily bypassing its defenses.
However, moments after emerging, Hugo was ambushed by Khun who had followed them from the village. Although in his haste for the perfect ambush location, Khun had not taken into account the laser defenses and was caught off guard by them, knocked to the ground once again, winded and and severely injured by the first blast. Looking back up at the lasers as they burned massive holes in his reptilian hide like the light of a magnifier glass through rice paper, the last thing the serpentine sorcerer heard was Hugo remarking that his fate was decided the moment he became consumed by his own evil desires.
Walking back to his friend, Hugo explained what he had uncovered and commented on the ironic death of Khun before making their way back to Swoah and Queen Daalthi.
Eagerly, welcomed by the queen Hugo opened his toolbox to show her the gemstone but had not taken into account his close proximity to Sue who was suddenly struck in the forehead with the enigmatic beam of light and entered a trance-like state for a moment, before shaking his head and regaining his clarity. Confused, Sue opted to remain silent rather than explain the experience to Hugo, who then passed the gemstone on to the Queen who too found herself struck in the forehead, although her response was significantly different. Rather than entering a trance-like state, the queen writhed in near-orgasmic ecstasy. Seeing her response, her entourage moved nearer and they too were struck in the brow by the light and responded the same. Thanking them for their assistance and feeling incredibly awkward as the writhing mass of female Naga vied for their moment in the light of the crystal, the two heroes left the chamber.
Leaving Swoah with the promise of the aid, the two heroes made their way back to the beach. Pausing only briefly to discuss Sue’s experience. Sue explained that since the light had struck him he felt information being fed into his mind in a manner very similar to as they had experienced when Daalthi’s entourage has mystically bestowed them with knowledge. However, now he had a map of the Earth in his mind that allowed him to approximate his distance from practically any location and a pre-set number of coordinates to a location he could not yet disclose. Although further questioning ensued, Sue found it difficult to explain.
A few days later they received their first shipment from Swoah and they continued for some weeks. However, after the third week the heroes noticed that the men delivering the metal and food were down in spirits and returned with them to Swoah to further investigate. Upon their arrival they learned that no one had any contact with Daalthi since they had left and the men were now raising the children and performing the task of many of the woman (running society), something they were not particularly adept at. Investigating further, they learned that the crystal had an adverse effect on Naga physiology, being highly addictive and placing them into a euphoric state. After fighting off Daalthi’s entourage with the assistance of some of the men and the captain of the guard, the two heroes were eventually able to reclaim the crystal and contain it, promising the menfolk that they would take it far from the island so it could not enslave their Queen again.