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Lhynard
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 2 — Stampede!
~ third-day, 27th of the sixth season, shrinking halflight
Chi-wee-wee-seh-kaw


Belvin, in the lead, saw a clearing up ahead through the thick trees. They seemed to be walking parallel now to an embankment or short earthen cliff about ten feet high. Leokas estimated that they have come about four and a half miles since landing.

   They cautiously approached the clearing. There had been clearings here and there on the last island, but this one was particularly wide, about 30 feet across. Leokas knelt down and looked at the ground. It was covered in leaves, broken branches, and dried mud. "There are countless animal tracks here," said Leokas, "going in all directions, ground birds and lizards of course, but many of them are very large, dinosaurs perhaps, like in Chult. The leaves and sticks have been ground down, trampled under heavy weight."

   Kytharrah sniffed some of the tracks. "New," he said.

   Leokas agreed. "Yes, there are no puddles in them, so these here are from this morning, unlike those there."

   Szordrin looked around the area for traps and was convinced that the area was clear. Belvin believed that the clearing was the meeting place of animals. It seemed like a wide natural "highway" led down over the embankment coming from the south to end here in the clearing.

   "The trail is leading perpendicular to the way we want to go," said Leokas. "Let us just cross and continue on."

   Kytharrah began to move over to the embankment to take a peek over it.

   Just then, everyone heard the sound of crunching leaves and branches approaching rapidly from the south. Leokas, with his elvish hearing, noticed the sound first and quickly darted out of the clearing back into the cover of the trees. "Incoming!" he shouted in warning, as he unslung his magic bow.

   With a cloud of feathers and dust, a small flock of very large and tall birds rushed over the embankment. They looked something like the running birds that some of them had seen in Chult called ostriches. These birds had similar long legs for high-speed running and small vestigial wings, but they had bulkier legs and bodies and shorter necks than ostriches. Even so, they were still taller than Kytharrah. The birds' beaks were large and thick and curved to two sharp points at the top and the bottom, looking almost like a hatchet or throwing axe in shape.

   These "axebeaks" ran off the embankment at a speed of close to perhaps 40 miles per hour. Six of the seven birds landed on the ground in the clearing with a flutter of their small wings and kept right on running. The sixth stumbled and fell flat with a squawk.

   Belvin had barely spun around to the sound of the approaching birds just in time to see one of them coming straight at him. He sprung out of the way just in time, as the terrified bird charged past.

   Likewise, another of the birds nearly missed crashing into Kytharrah as it darted by. The same bird slowed down at bit as it saw its path was blocked by Kamil. It squawked loudly, and the camel turned and bolted, and the bird followed right after him. Kamil veered into the trees out of the path of the charging bird, which kept on running.

   "Kamil! Wait!" shouted Belvin.

   Kytharrah reached the embankment and stepped up enough to peek up over the edge for a one-second glance, as the fallen bird got back up on its feet and began to run after its flockmates. The minotaur saw two gigantic animals running full speed down the wide path towards them. They were only 50 to 100 feet away and rapidly approaching. He could feel the rumble of their footfalls shaking the ground. He had never seen creatures anything like them before. They ran on four thick legs, which looked somewhat like the legs of the magic elephant that Hakam sometimes summoned from the marble figurine, but their heads were completely different. They had three massive horns. Two long and twisted horns jutted from the back of their heads, and another grew from their beaked snouts. The skulls were shaped something like a shield, or like the dragon Sseth's head, with a thick bony ridge extending in the back. Also, instead of wrinkly gray skin like the elephant, these two creatures seemed to have dusky scales.

   The two animals were also charging. Though not as fast as the running birds, they were sure to reach the embankment in seconds.

   Kytharrah spun around with a snort, swung out his long arm and grabbed Belvin and yanked him back into the woods with him out of the clearing.

   Szordrin also moved into the shelter of the trees, nearly tripping on all the roots and vines now present, since Belvin was no longer in front of him. With a wave of a wand, multiple copies of his form appeared. Deeper in the woods, numerous Solisars also materialized.

   Belvin sprung from root to root toward his camel, who had obeyed him and stopped, and mounted his animal companion.

   Hakam, seeing their minotaur peek over the embankment and respond by moving deeper into the trees, raised his holy symbol toward the earthen slope and waited. Leokas, ten yards north of him, nocked three arrows simultaneous, an arrow between each of his fingers, and also waited a brief moment to see what was coming over the ridge. "Heel!" he commanded Sif, and she obeyed.

   The ground rumbled loudly enough for everyone to hear and feel now. The birds continued fleeing, and most of them had made it across the clearing and into the trees at the other end. A second later, the two bulky, three-horned, quadrupedal dinosaurs came into view at the top of the embankment.

   "Be calm!" Hakam shouted.

   The nearest of the triceratops continued running at full gallop and came crashing down the embankment. It landed on its four massive, multihooved feet and kept on running. Its companion, however, suddenly stopped its gallop, but its forward momentum caused it to skid through the soil and off the edge. It slid down the steep slope and thudded on its stomach.

   Leokas recognized the beasts as ytepka in Chultan and knew them to be herbivores — Yashiera had kept a miniaturized one as a pet — but acting on reflex, he released the bowstring but managed to hold on to two of the arrows between his fingers. The stray missile struck the charging dinosaur and glanced of its head armor harmlessly.

   Solisar, suspecting that there was a still-larger dinosaur coming, cast a spell to boost his speed.

   Kytharrah hustled over to the embankment again and took a second peek, as the still-rampaging triceratops entered the trees at the end of the clearing, followed by squawking from the axebeaks at the rear of the retreating flock. The minotaur saw yet another creature running down the wide path, this one even bigger than the previous two but running on two powerful hind legs. It was sort of like a bird in shape to Kytharrah, and even had some patches of green feathers on its upper torso among its gray, scaled skin, but it had two short arms with long claws instead of wings. Its head and long jaw reminded him of the crocodile that Belvin could transform into with his magic trick. On the creature's back was something that reminded him of the sail of some of the spelljammers that he saw while working at the Rock of Bral.

   As intrigued as he was by this half-second view over the edge, the monster was enormous, three times his own height, definitely large enough to swallow even a big minotaur like him, and it was running even faster than the other two beasts. He sprung back away from the embankment and began to back away again into the tree cover, grunting and gesturing to the others to move deeper into the woods.

   Clutching a tiny feather from his pouch, Szordrin and his duplicate figments magically rose into the air several yards up to get a better view. To the right, he saw Belvin struggling to guide Kamil over thick roots and vines, and to the left, he saw the other triceratops standing back up. Then he saw the bigger dinosaur come into view, sprinting along the path above the embankment. It was bigger even than the ceratosaur that had nearly killed Belvin a year ago.

   "A tyrannosaur with a sail on its back is coming!" he yelled down.

   Belvin reared Kamil and turned back on his mount, prepared to cast a druidic spell. Leokas heard Szordrin's warning and retreated farther west with Sif struggling to keep up with her master. Solisar, and his many copies, all magically sped up, likewise moved quickly through the bushes away from the clearing.

   The remaining triceratops, oblivious to the threat only seconds away from coming over the embankment, trotted calmly over to Kytharrah at the edge of the clearing and sniffed deeply through the two giant nostrils on the side of its beaked snout just under its central horn.

   Kytharrah waved his arms frantically at the friendly beast, trying to get it to follow after its mate. "Go! Go!"

   It turned away from the minotaur, and immediately the pursuing dinosaur came over the embankment in a single long step.

   Belvin screamed out something in Druidic, but it was not clear what magic, if any, had occurred. Szordrin rose higher into the air at an angle, while clutching a tiny glass rod and a bit of fur. Kytharrah backed into the woods even further, dragging Hakam along with him and then shoving the cleric ahead so that he was between the human and the new big monster.

   The dinosaur turned toward the meal that it had been pursuing, which strangely had no fear and simply strolled along. Before it could swing its thick neck down for a bite, there was a blinding flash, followed by a thunder clap, as a bolt of lightning shot forth from Szordrin's fingertips. The dinosaur convulsed from the electrical shock but then shook its head, as if shaking off some minor nuisance.

   Lowering itself onto all fours, it arched its back like a cat trying to look intimidating. Doing so caused its feathers to jut out and the fin of skin on its back to tighten and expand as the spines supporting it stood rigid.

   The gargantuan predator brought its long head close to the ground, almost touching it, and opened its tooth-filled mouth wide to emit a deep and deafening bellow....
Session: 112th Game Session - Monday, Jun 22 2020 from 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM
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