[LMB] TSK - They Can Fly!!!

Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 7 10:01:22 BST 2019

After finding some sad skeletons in a well - at least as nasty as the
sights the malice-lair team found, and a reminder that horrors come
in so many shapes and sizes, they decide to get a move on. Get away
from all the bad stuff and get back on track. Yes.

Dag and Sumac intend to send a report to the nearest camp. Odd that
they haven't seen a patrol from there.....

Dag starts to get an idea of what might be going on... just a little bit too
late. Because that's when they see the giant bats eating a mule.

And then it all starts to get exciting. For a given value of 'exciting' that
includes terror, horror, deadly threats, mind control...and giant bats.

The first idea is to run, but Fawn (who's good in a crisis, she's able to
step back and see the big picture) points out that they're safer under the

The bats don't take off well, they like to find a higher point for takeoff,
but they're pretty efficient in the air.  GIANT VAMPIRE BATS!!! What
sort of twisted mind would think of that????

It all goes horribly badly very fast. Dag, Tavia and the baby are taken.
Dag tosses his knife to Fawn, the only protection he can give her. And that
shows a massive level of trust, too.

Dag manages to disrupt the bats with pinpoint attacks to weaken them,
you want a slow decline, not a splat. But there's a mountain in the way,
so it does get a bit splatty.

Dag has managed to break his ankle, so he'll do sprogminding while Tavia
does the serious stuff. Including helping Dag share, if necessary. Irony - all
those empty years he wouldn't have cared, now that he's facing it he
so desperately doesn't want to. Life's funny like that.

Meanwhile fun is being had on the ground. Barr's leg is in several pieces,
Arkady is learning all the fun of being a medic in the field, Sumac and Neeta
are trying to be a whole patrol. Remo is an assistant medic, and wishes he
wasn't. The rest of them are scattered around, checking injuries and
not feeling too happy. At least Fawn's wedding cord shows that Dag's still
alive - those things are useful.

Fawn's trying to think and plan; the mules weren't unharnessed, so they
didn't die along the trail. That means the tea-caravan has probably been
taken by the malice. Oh good, we needed something to make things worse.

They can't go forward, they can't go back. They can't stay where they are.
Best option - hide the wounded, then take the rest West, to the nearest
Lakewalker camp. It's not a great plan, but Plan B is to sit there until they
get batted. Sumac is doing her best to get her less-than-optimum patrol
armed and moving.

Fawn notices that Sumac makes sure that no unshielded farmers know where
Arkady, Barr and Rase are hidden.

Meanwhile Dag is collecting people again. The man is the patroller equivalent
of a crazy cat lady; everywhere he goes he adds more to the group. He finds
a half-dead patroller (which describes most of them by now). There was a
patrol from that other camp. It found the bats. Things went downhill after
that, literally for the poor sod dropped on the mountain with a broken back.

Important lesson: Dag doesn't want to sort out a baby and an injured patroller.
That's not where he wants to be or what he wants to do right now. But that's
the job he's got. And it's his job because he's there. You do what you can,
where you are, with what you have. Good life lesson. He sends Tavia to find
the others, while he stays with Owlet and Pakko. At least they're near water -
see? Look on the bright side, even if it's pretty dim.

Sumac manages to get her motley bunch moving.

Bats. Darn things fly at night. The party rushes for cover. And... oh goodie.
The malice has come to play. A beautiful giant bat, super-giant, and
unmistakeably a malice. Because they needed a bit more excitement. A
flying malice - again, what kind of twisted mind....

Speaking of twisted, the farmers are mind-enslaved, and turn on the
Lakewalkers. Who can't fight back against their own party.
Sumac tries to get the malice, misses, but Fawn saves the knife.
The mudbats drive the Lakewalkers away, the farmers trot along
obediently; that leaves Berry, Whit and Fawn, the walnut crew.

Dag can see distant bat-activity, no idea what's happening. Torment,
not knowing, not able to be there. Basically, just about everyone in the
party right now is doing what they don't want to; the Lakewalkers have
to run and avoid the fight, Dag is stuck away from protecting
everyone; farmers are enslaved, nobody knows who's still alive, what's
happened to them. And the only ones with a knife are three farmers.
It's all twisted around and wrong.

But again, the lesson is, you do what you can, and if you're the one on
the spot, it's your job.

Fawn is still thinking, planning. It's her strength - all those years of asking
questions, she's trained to collect information, analyse, and make decisions.
She knows enough about malices to guess that this one has just moulted,
just started flying, so it'll save the farmers for when it needs more fuel.
It has to stay near them to keep control, and they can't move far or fast
in this country.

Fawn does something no Lakewalker would even consider; she makes a
knife into a crossbow bolt.

All that time we've chortled about how Dag's unusual background gave
him an edge, no healer or groundsetter has his knowledge of life in the field.
But it works for Fawn, too - she's collected a huge amount of data that no
farmer before her has probably had, and she can see it in ways that
Lakewalkers wouldn't consider.

So, after that long leisurely buildup and the slow movement of the trip,
everything suddenly goes down the gurgler.

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