We kick off in media res …
Roused by Stump's alarm, the Mobos stand in the doorway of the bunker at Ancestors' Post as the Kyuss warband known as "the Brood" streams over the walls and through the gates. Javelins and short blades glitter in the guttering flame of their torches, illuminating the single eye they have tattooed on their foreheads. In a blink the gates of Ancestors' Post erupt in flames. In the courtyard before them the troopers mill about in confusion, unsure of what to do – but there is a palpable sense of fear as a massive Son of Kyuss strides through the gate carrying a long raygun, his purple skin alternating hue in the firelight. Before him he drives 3 albino Kyuss on chains – with a snap of his wrist they are freed, and two of them grip odd metal staves in their hands that suddenly erupt in blue fire, like blowtorches. A scream rises from the host – “BROOOOOOOODDDD!!!” – and Warden Black blanches and flees the battlefield.
Flicking a white cloak from his shoulders, the purple Kyuss drops to one knee and aims his raygun at the party in the doorway. And there, near the gate, the Mobos catch sight of Trooper Bronz, staring wide-eyed at the party, mumbling and gesticulating. Magnuss is the first to break the horror, leaping from the doorway with a rallying cry that screws the Troopers' courage to their sticking place, so that they might not die in vain – in the first sortie, 8 Sons fall to his spear, darting like a serpent's tongue. The purple Kyuss fires two shots at Braennan but both break wide, and Braennan summons his powers to protect his comrades from evil before jumping himself into the fray. Tom too wades into the fight just in time to save Magnuss from almost being brought low by a lucky strike from a handful of Kyuss, and even Stump grips Gunnar's Raygun and leaps into battle, slaying 3 more Kyuss using the weapon as a spear. Meanwhile, Balthazar casts spell after spell into the melee, blinding some with color spray and creating a protective barrier for the warriors to dodge behind.
Kredique keeps her eye on Trooper Bronz and ducks quietly into the shadows, slipping unseen through the combat as the bodies begin to pile high. The first attack of the Sons of Kyuss on the Troopers does not go well for the Iron Maiden, and more than half of their number fall to tooth, claw, and iron in the first moments – were it not for Magnuss's rallying cry, they would surely have broken and fled. Braennan attempts to Banish Trooper Bronz, who turns on his heel and attempts to flee the scene, but Kredique silently steps behind him, knocks him unconscious, and drags him into the darkness. Meanwhile, the party continues to whittle down the warband, even as the last of the Troopers falls defending this outpost in the lonely wastes of the Upper Plateau.
After a time, and a showdown mano e mano with the purple Kyuss that costs Braennan his left hand (temporarily), it is over. 50 or more Sons of Kyuss lay dead, as well as all of the Troopers of the Iron Maiden, some score in number. A handful of Kyuss and a single albino champion managed to escape into the wastes, blinded and desperate. Trooper Bronz is dragged from the shadows for questioning – despite the proximity to Braennan causing him physical damage, Braennan pushes next to him, questioning him as he writhes in agony. Bronz confesses he is a priest of Judas before ultimately succumbing to the wounds opening across his body, his blood soaking into the muddy sands of the slaughter at Ancestors' Post.
The party finds Warden Black hiding and mewling in his barracks, desperate to save his own hide. Though disgusted with his actions, they hope he might make an adequate guide to the Fort Vengeance, where they hope to speak to Captain Ozzy who may know the way to the place called Epsilon City; as such, the Mobos clamp one of the chains that held the albinos around his neck, hoping to have Black lead them like the dog he is.
We learn something of Stump too – that in his apprenticeship as a haberdasher his master did some work making clothes out of flesh, and that another of the apprentices – Jean de Georday – was taken away for questioning when Stump was very young, never to be seen again. Stump thought nothing of it at the time, but the fact that the Sons of Kyuss drape themselves in the skins of their enemies has brought back unpleasant memories. Stump grabs the rayrifle used by the purple Kyuss, with human (and otherwise) teeth hanging from sinews along the barrel like clattering windchimes, and gives Gunnar's rayrifle to Braennan. He also takes the white cloak worn by the purple Kyuss and, after some investigation into its properties, gives it over to Balthazar for safekeeping. The party also finds a stash of greenstone shards as well as a Low amount of supplies, hopefully enough to help them make it to the Fort.
There is some discussion to spend the night and heal, but the circling vulture-like gribb and the burned gates drive the party forward, west toward a mushroom forest where, on the other side, Warden Black insists that Fort Vengeance lies. 2 leagues west of Ancestors' Post the party comes across a gruesome sight – a pile of Kyuss corpses with the Yellow Sign carved on their foreheads. In the middle of the bodies is a crucifix in the shape of an X … a corpse, standing upright and tied by thick ropes, its face contorted in final agony – the face of Trooper Bronz. The abdomen looks like it burst from the inside, and a strange yellow ichor clings to the inside of the cavity. A long drag of gore stretches across the ground east, back towards Ancestors' Post, and disappears. Warden Black identifies the warband as "the Fleshbiters" – it would appear you've had some help whittling down the warbands of House Cocyst.
A few more leagues west the Mobos come across 6 gigantic broken ribs jutting from the ground, the skeleton of some great beast, with a black object in the middle, sticking out of the sand. Creeping closer they feel uneasy, and there are numerous humanoid skeletons around the ribcage. Looking closer they see that the black object is a large casket draped with sand-blasted iron chains, but it is too much for Braennan, who orders the party to continue west. Magnuss speaks now of his desire to get home, away from this primitive planet and back to the lush forests and hills favored by Ildavir. He aches for life, and for living things, and has a promise he has sworn to keep – to level Portsmouth to the ground and leave it a smoking ruin, the repayment of an old debt.
Finally, just before entering the mushroom forest, Stump bids the party to stop. He hears quietly beneath the sands the words "failure … failure … failure …" repeated over and over. With help and some searching, the party uncovers what appears to be a crashed airship, its sides scoured from the sand. Cracking open the cockpit they find a silvery body suit with an attachable fishbowl-shaped glass helmet; inside the suit, a bleached skeleton. It appears that the ship was transporting a crate of some sort, and Magnuss opens it to find 12 bottles, neatly lined up, with wax caps. Their labels are worn away and illegible. Not wanting to leave this treasure behind, Magnuss divvies the bottles up among the party, ultimately taking 4 for himself, before leaving the ship – and it's repeating message – behind in the sands.
The canopy of the mushroom forest looms large, and Warden Black seems anxious to enter into it, out of the glaring sun. He steps into the shadows and turns to beckon to the party. "We have made it! Almost there! Come, come!"
The party steps carefully into the loamy gloom, eyes alert and weapons at the ready. The back of your neck itches, and you could swear you see Warden Black smiling …