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Fairies, Ch 3 - Hunting party

So, we were running low on chow, we had gotten no happy fun missions from the higher ups, and our area was fairly quiet. So, bring the worst troublemakers most subject to boredom individuals on the hunt.

Now, the flatlands are deadlands, for the most part. That's where the ancients lived, building their cities from madestone, pitch and steel. From the tops of the taller mountains you can see the crumbling ruins, some being choked by plants, others still sterile without growth. The new peoples and such live in the hills, valleys, gullies, bogs, mountains and other places where things grow but line of sight isn't far. Yes, we're starting to reclaim some of the flatlands at the foothills, but it's slow going.

Now, some of the areas below the foothills hills are pretty lush, and have a lot of wildlife, but not a lot of sentient life - not even new forms. Too close to the iron and rust of the ancients. If you can stand the magical damping, such areas make a pretty good hideout, and a fairly decent hunting ground. Most folk can't stay there for long, though. We only needed food.

I had Chaz, Shandi, Trello, Desin, Vanya and Kraff with me. Shandi is the troop who is apparently starting to differentiate. I wanted to get some last arrow work out of her before I had to ship her back rearward. That and getting her away from camp might slow it down. I know I needed the change of scenery.

Now, when we go hunting, we also forage for plant matter too. We're not trolls, who can't really get by on fruits, nuts and leaves in a pinch. However, if we are going to be doing a lot of magic? We need meats and fat. So we all had weapons, forage bags and game bags. Because we were headed downhill, we started finding some nice greens. Yes, we ate as much as we could, as well as stuff our bags. I even detailed Trello and Desin to store them high so we could grab them on the way back. But no good herbivores. We spotted a yote, but it's a carnivore, and most of us can't eat that. I do have one troop that I swear is half troll - he can eat nearly anything that was once alive.

So we ended up going farther than we had expected to, looking for a bambi or some peters. We finally spotted some signs of peters after noon. Since we'd been eating all along, we didn't stop, just went toward where they seemed to be.

Well, we found them, all right. A whole den of big, fat and happy ones. Problem was, they were living in a locked up madestome and iron shack - an Ancients cache. We shot the few we saw outside, but they had apparently learned the hard way that when there are predators around, you need to go through the small holes in the building for safety.

Now Chaz is big, strong, woodswise and a good hunter. But when it comes to ancient stuff and thinking things through? A dessicated treezan is probably smarter. So Chaz, before I could stop him, decided to break down the door of the shack. You know, the door that *hadn't* succumbed to the elements already? The one made of mostly iron?

Yeah, he tried to break down an Ancient iron door, with a wooden staff and his bulk.

Now, every one of us has some magic. Some have a lot less, others a lot more. Chaz has less, and what he has goes toward keeping his limbs all going in the same direction. Direct contact with ancient cold iron has a really funny effect on him - it drops him in a twitching tangle of limbs. He bounced off of the door and lay there twitching.

None of the others were thinking well enough to haul him away, so I did. Oh, hell, I felt like I had just run up a hill when I bumped into that door. Chaz was friggin heavy when I dragged him, too, but at least the twitching stopped.

Those damned peters would have been laughing at us if they were new forms or altered. As it was, they all scampered in and stayed.

While Chaz recovered his consciousness and coordination, we tried luring the damn peters out. Tasty vegetables? Nope. Fresh water? Nope. Vanya even tried reaching in through the small holes/slits in the sides of the shack for them, and just got drained, scraped, and a few peter bites for his trouble.

Now, it was getting late, but no one wanted to give up. We'd gotten a few peters, so the trip wasn't a total waste. Finally, I decided to mark the place, and come back when we figured out how to deal with the thing. The trip back was uneventful, and we arrived back at a little after sundown with full forage bags, a few peters, and a hell of a story.

What surprised me, though, was that I didn't get nearly as tapped out by the iron as the others. They told me in school that I had no talent as an artificer, so I don't really understand why I wasn't sapped too.

Even now, I can see in my minds eye the door, and the fact that there was so little energy in it, less than the rocks themselves. Everything else glows with manna, but the iron was darker than anything I've seen before, darker than a moonless night. Dark like the dead city just a way down the river, in the flat land, that I saw from my instructor's mountaintop. I always wondered why magic teachers like Mage Master Josmith wanted high mountains for their schola - besides to make students climb to get there.

But it wasn't *totally* dark. Which is not what I was told as a child - "Iron is dead. No manna can be read." goes the rhyme.

That I needed to ask Master Josmith.

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