Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Valley of Spirits - Epilogue

After their adventure in Philadelphia, our heroes learned that, behind the war between Crown and colonies, there is a secret conflict raging. The powers of darkness, led by a mysterious figure known simply as "the Master," are trying to gain control of the world. During the party's mission, the Wizard revealed that King George III was in thrall to the Master. The Master's grip seems to be steadily increasing, to the consternation of freedom-loving peoples across the globe.

All is not lost. Posing as a fraternal organization, the Freemasons actually front a super-secret society dedicated to the preservation of goodness in the world. They are highly skilled in both mystical and technological arts, which they employ in their struggle against the Master and his minions. The American Revolution has become a proxy war in this battle between good and evil. Many of the top patriot leaders, like Washington and Franklin, are operatives of the Freemasons. Only their efforts can stop the spread of the Master's influence on the American continent.

With their successes, our heroes have been made initiates into the Freemasons and are learning new skills. Dr. McCoy is being instructed in the art of alchemy while Snake is dabbling in magic. Rufus prefers to stay away from all this mumbo-jumbo. Instead, he is perfecting his skills in woodcraft. Nevertheless, all three are sharpening their abilities for their next encounter with the forces of evil.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Up and Away

The Thrilling Conclusion of the Valley of the Spirits

Last time, our heroes found Ben Franklin who is being held captive in a cabin in the woods. Snake and Rufus burst into the room, to be confronted by a werewolf!

As soon as the man transformed, Rufus leveled his rifle and fired. His shot struck the beast-man, knocking him back into the desk.

"Doctor. Get in here, we need you!" yelled Rufus. McCoy rushed in, just as the werewolf returned to his feet.

Rufus pulled out his pistol, The trio unleashed a devastating volley of close range pistol shots. Each struck the werewolf knocking it back down. Snake unloaded all 4 rounds of her revolving pistol into it then added another shot with her backup pistol.

Acrid smoke filled the room. Our heroes readied their melee weapons, expecting the beast to pounce on them, despite its wounds. However, as the smoke dissipated a bit, they could see it lying prone on the ground, blood spilling upon the floor. The trio breathed a sigh of relief.

Dr. McCoy rushed over to Franklin. Removing the gag and cutting his bindings, McCoy announced, "Doctor Franklin, we are here to rescue you."

"Thank you. Did you use silver bullets?"

"What? No."

"Then I do not believe that the beast over there is dead.

McCoy nodded with understanding. He glanced over, and could see that despite the blood loss, the beast still retained color in its face. Slowly, its hand began to move. Determinedly, McCoy strode over to the beast, unsheathed his sword, and struck off its head.

Franklin nodded. "Yes, I would say that that should do."

McCoy turned, and announced "Let's get you away from here."

Our trio helped Franklin walk to the door. Opening it, they were witness to a terrible sight.

A veritable army had entered the clearing and was heading to the cabin. There was a horde of zombie Indians, undead wolves ranged ahead of them with several werewolves leading the pack. Most terrifying of all, a familiar figure led the army. The Wizard!

The Wizard called out. "You three again?! You have interfered once too often. Now your doom is certain!"

"I thought he was dead." Rufus asked.

"He was," declared the doctor. "I pumped enough poison into him to kill a bear."

Franklin responded, "We are dealing with dark arts that transcend petty human understanding."

McCoy nodded in understanding but Rufus just began to reload his rifle.

"Looks like we make out last stand here," Rufus stated with determination.

"Quick!" Snake replied. "Out the back to the barn!"

The party rushed out the back entrance of the cabin, ran to the barn, and threw open the doors. They were greeted with a bewildering sight.

In the center of the room was what looked like a boat. However, this boat had a huge, floating sack tethered to it.

"Well, I'll be." stated Franklin. "A sky ark!"

"What?" asked a confused Rufus.

"Never mind! Just get in."

Franklin quickly gave instructions to the astonished party. They opened a set of sliding doors in the roof, un-tethered the balloon, and floated up and out of the barn. They began to pass over the heads of the evil army. The zombie Indians began to shoot at them with bows and muskets.

Rufus began firing back with his rifle but Franklin pointed to some filled bottles lying on the floor of their ark. He quickly explained what they were - grenades! McCoy and Snake began lighting them and throwing them at the foes below them. The ensuing explosions ripped apart the undead creatures and scattered the army.

However, the Wizard was not finished. They could see him waving his hands in intricate patterns.

"He's preparing some kind of spell!" shouted the doctor.

"Not for long," replied Snake, as she grabbed a grenade, took careful aim, and threw it at the Wizard.

The missile hurtled toward the foe as he continued his gesticulations. A sudden gust of wind caught the grenade and it veered off course.

"Noooo!" shouted Snake.

The gust blew the grenade aside. It landed a few feet from the Wizard. KABOOM. It exploded, sending flames gushing in all directions. The concussion knocked the Wizard to his feet.

"You did it!" shouted Rufus.

The sky ark soared above the trees and was soon out of range of the enemy, With Franklin's instruction, they maneuvered the ark and peacefully sailed through the skies toward home.

The End

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Cabin in the Woods

Episode 3 of the Valley of the Spirits

Last time, our heroes entered the Valley of the Spirits, where they were attacked by undead wolves. Snake was knocked unconscious and the last remaining wolf gathered itself for the deathblow.

The wolf leaped . A steel blade flashed out, skewering the beast from side to side. Its momentum carried it forward, ripping the sword from Dr. McCoy's hand. The wolf landing with a thud on Snake. But the deadly jaws did not clamp down. It was dead.

McCoy rushed over the Snake. She was unconscious and bleeding heavily from bite wounds across here body. Pulling out his medical kit, the doctor applied salves to her wounds and bandaged her up. He then waved some smelling salts below her nose. Snake awoke with a start.

"Is this heaven?" she asked, as if in a daze.

"No," chuckled the doctor as he breathed a sigh of relief. "This is Pennsylvania."

Snake nodded, her wits returning to her.

"Thank you for saving me, doctor." she replied.

"Think nothing of it." stated McCoy. "Now rest for a bit."

With Rufus standing guard over the group, McCoy continued his ministrations over Snake. After a short rest, she stood, a bit unsteadily.

"Let's go." she stated.

"Do you think that's wise?" McCoy queried.

"Aye," stated Rufus. "Stay here. McCoy and I can continue the mission while you rest."

"Oh no," Snake retorted. "I'll not leave you short-handed."

The doctor started to protest but Snake cut him off. "Besides, what would happen if something attacked me while you two went off? No, there is strength in numbers."

Rufus shrugged. "She's got us there." So the three of them set off again on their quest to rescue Franklin.

Shortly thereafter, they came to a large clearing in the woods. In the middle of the clearing stood a small log cabin. Behind it was a larger structure; apparently a barn.

Despite the protests of her compatriots, Snake decided the sneak to the cabin and peer into the window. She managed to make it to the building. Raising her head slightly, she glanced inside. There were two figures. One was a young, nicely dressed man, reading at a desk. His back was turned to the door. The other was an elderly man, bound and gagged and sitting on the floor. He was bald on top of his head but had long locks on the sides. Franklin!

Snake returned to her partners. "He's in there."

The heroes decided to rush into the cabin and free Franklin. They sneaked up to the cabin door. Snake and Rufus would enter while McCoy would guard the door. On the count of three, Rufus bashed open the door. He and Snake rushed in, weapons brandished.

"Don't move!" Rufus ordered the man at the desk, whose back was turned to them.

The man raised his hands and stood. He turned to greet them.

"Ah, you made it." he stated."I was wondering if you would get this far. Pity that your efforts will have been in vain. Dr. Franklin . . ." at this point, the man gestured with his head to the bound man on the floor. He continued "Dr. Franklin has been enjoying his sojourn in the woods and has no interest of returning to that petty rebellion."

"I do believe he'll be coming with us." Rufus declared. "Considering that it's 2 to 1, and you are unarmed."

The man laughed. "But the power of the Master is more than your petty weapons can handle."

He took off his coat and spread his arms wide. Rufus and Snake froze and stared in disbelief as he seemed to grow in stature. His clothes began ripping and fur sprouted all over. His jaw elongated, wicked fangs extended from his maw, and his fingers transformed into claws.

A werewolf!

Will our heroes defeat this hideous foe and rescue Franklin? Find out next time!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Valley Beckons

Episode 2 of the Valley of Spirits

Last time, our heroes set off into the wilderness to find the kidnapped Ben Franklin. They were attacked by and defeated zombie Indians. Later, they encountered more Indians, but these were quite alive, and friendly. They escorted the party to the entrance to the Valley of Spirits. To get to it, though, they had to cross a chasm spanned by a dead tree.

Rufus volunteered to cross first. He dropped his gear and, with a rope trailing behind him, slowly eased his way upon the log. He made it about halfway across when his foot slipped on a mossy patch, He fell, landed on the log, then began to slip off. Desperately, he clawed at the log. His fingers gripped the bark but his feet swung off the log. He hung suspended over the roaring waters in the chasm below.

Snake rushed to Rufus's rescue. Nimbly, she raced across the log to Rufus, grabbed one of his hands, and began to pull up. Unfortunately, Rufus's weight seemed to much for her. However, with her holding one hand, Rufus was able to swing one leg back up onto the log. With Snake's aid, he managed to crawl back up.

As Rufus clung to the log, Snake took the rope and dashed across the rest of the log. She tied the end to one tree and Dr. McCoy secured the other end to another tree. The rope now formed a handhold that made it easier to cross. With the rope secure, the party managed to get themselves and their gear across the chasm.

They now spied a narrow path through the woods the sloped downward, between two steep peaks. The entrance to the Valley.

As they marched down the path, the surrounding forest was unnaturally quiet. That is, until they heard the howling. It came from in front of them, down the path a ways. It was answered by another howl forward and to their left, followed by one to their right. Undaunted, our heroes continued on. They turned a corner and could see down the path for a distance. Suddenly, three wolves bounded out of the trees. But these were not ordinary wolves. Their flesh was putrid and their eyes glowed a malevolent red. 

"First zombie Indians and now zombie wolves!" exclaimed the doctor. "What evil is going on here?"

The middle wolf howled, then they bound up the path toward them. Rufus leveled his rifle and fired. It struck one of beasts but it continued its forward rush. Rufus tried to reload but the beasts were too fast. He dropped his rifle. All three heroes pulled out their pistols and fired. The shots struck home, but again the beasts would not fall. The leaped upon their victims and a heated melee ensued.

One wolf clamped its jaws upon Rufus's arm. With his tomahawk in his free hand, Rufus struck the creature, cracking its skull. It fell, leaving Rufus's arm a bloody mess. Meanwhile, the doctor managed to dodge the attacks of the second wolf. He unsheathed his sword and stabbed at his foe. The blade sunk deep into the beast's flesh, and it too fell to the ground.

Snake was having considerably more trouble. The wolf jumped upon her and knocked her to the ground. It then lunged at her throat. She block its powerful bite with her arm, but it clamped on and began to shake her. She began to scream in pain and stabbed at it with here knife. Her blow was erratic and the wolf was unharmed. It released her arm and went for her throat, Snake managed to fend it off, curling into a ball to protect her vitals. Still, it chomped down on any area of exposed flesh. Blood flowed freely onto the ground. Snake fell into unconsciousness. As she lay prone, the wolf readied itself, then lunged for the death blow!

What happened to Snake? Stay tuned for the next episode to find out!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Zombius Native Americanus.

Episode 1 of the Valley of Spirits

In our heroes' last adventure, they defeated a mysterious enemy known as the Wizard and recovered documents that pointed the way to kidnapped Benjamin Franklin. They returned to Continental headquarters and handed the documents over to Ben Tallmadge's agents, who set to work deciphering the information.

The documents were a secret map to Franklin's location, in a hidden valley deep in the Alleghenies. Our heroes geared up for a long trek (Rufus added a long rifle to his equipment) and set out to rescue Franklin. They began marching into the wilderness. Occasionally, they caught glimpses of a creature in the woods, but could not discern what is was. Rufus dismissed it as a bear.

After several days of travel, they noticed that there was no sign of wildlife. Game was non-existent and no birds were singing. Disturbed by the unnatural feeling, the party was particularly vigilant. That night, while Snake was on guard, she heard shuffling in the woods. Quietly, she sneaked into the trees and came up behind it. She could see a figure of a native, armed with a tomahawk. Coming up behind him, she put her knife to his throat. He turned, swinging his arm at arm. Snake jumped back and called a warning to her comrades.

Rufus and Dr. McCoy stirred but two more natives leaped into their camp. McCoy rolled away just in time, but a native tomahawk sliced into Rufus's shoulder. He countered, and smashed the native in the face. McCoy unsheathed his sword, and with a deft slice, he decapitated it. Then Rufus dispatched his opponent. Meanwhile, Snake was caught in a brutal struggle. The enemy grasped her by throat and was squeezing the life out of her. Rufus grabbed his rifle, aimed, and fire. His shot was true, and the native fell.

After the battle, McCoy inspected the enemy. Startled, he turned to his comrades.

"They were dead." he announced.

"Of course," Rufus said, "we killed them."

"No, you don't understand," McCoy stated. "They were dead when they attacked us."

Rufus's eyes widened, "Zombie Indians?"

"Indeed. Zombius Native Americanus."

Alarmed by the attack, the party immediately broke camp. They traveled in the dark for a few hours, rested, and then pressed on. That night, they made camp and set guards again, Once more, during Snake's shift, she heard a faint rustling in the woods. Quietly, she alerted her comrades. A stealthily as possible, they readied there weapons. But then, the doctor heard something on the wind. A voice. But zombies don't talk.

"Wait," the doctor whispered. "I don't think they are zombies. Let me talk to them."

McCoy called out a greeting. One of the group surrounding them called back. He stepped into their camp and offered a pow-wow. The party realized that they were friendly natives. They were hunting the unnatural, undead creatures that were haunting their hunting grounds. Our heroes learned that the source of these undead was a hidden valley that the natives called the Valley of the Spirits. Their description matched the details that the heroes gleaned from the map.

"Friends," McCoy stated, "It looks like we are headed for the Valley of the Spirits."

Stay tuned for episode 2.