The villagers of Stiller’s Notch had every reason to be cautious; it seems that their erstwhile trading partner, the Turtle Tribe, had decided to get out of the windup toy business and into the slave trade. They were still keeping Stiller’s Notch as a source of trade goods, however…
After some tense negotiations, the sentries agreed to take the party to the hidden enclave and introduce them to their Mayor, Madame Crinkle. She and her husband Klaus had Hyperborea’s most recent bearings, and would be willing to share them if they weren’t so busy dealing with an ally turned enemy.
Well, needless to say, the party was all over that. They began helping out with the fortifications, they brought down some of the cannons from the Fortune Hunter, and then they did something I wasn’t expecting at all: they stopped thinking anywhere inside the box.
First, Randolph Ash, master of disguise and a NeoBedouin through and through, went out scouting and found the Turtles. He infiltrated their encampment under the guise of a traveling peddler, and soon learned what had happened to change their character so much.
It seems that, shortly after the death of the Turtle Tribe’s wise and aged shaman, their robust and powerful Chief had been thrown from his horse and hit his head on a rock. Against all tradition, his son Dov had jumped in and claimed the position, even though it was not hereditary in that tribe. Backed by his sister Dove, a highly skilled Beast Dancer (martial artist) and supported by some young turk warriors who had chafed under the old system, he’d seized control of the tribe and made the change to their ways.
Armed with this intelligence, the crew of the Fortune Hunter decided on a new tactic. Tiberious Thunder rigged up a shamanistic-looking staff into a lightning gun, though it drew on a huge bank of concealed batteries and was not portable. Armed with this, Dr. Blackpaw stood on a cliff overlooking the approach the Tribe would use and gave the performance of a lifetime, using the intel Randolph had brought back and pretending that the “spirits” had told him the story.
Punctuating his performance with a few well-placed zaps from his “storm staff,” Blackpaw accused Dov of murdering his father, shaking Dove’s confidence for the first time and leading her to demand the truth from her brother. He denied it, of course, but she always did know when he was lying…
So Dov wound up gutted like a roast goose, courtesy of Dove’s Beast Claw weapons, and she swore to the hermit that her people would now follow a leader chosen by the tribal elders, in keeping with the ancient ways, and the big pitched battle that I was expecting, using the crew rules and involving a lot of blood and terror, simply evaporated. I loved every second of it.
After that, the Mayor of Stiller’s Notch was more than willing to tell them how to find Hyperborea, but warned that they tended to stay very high, where the air was thin and deadly cold. They stayed the night, bought some provisions at a tremendous discount, and lifted keel the next day, headed for the mysterious and legendary Sky City of Hyperborea.