When we last left our heroes they had scuttled back to Grafton after being attacked by some random a-holes. Thanks to some swift medical attention from Doc Greenwood, Martin has avoided any permanent injury from the nasty beating he took.
Some time has passed as everyone recovers and continues to work for subsistence. A few new faces emerge from the crowd in Grafton, and with a bit of convincing from Nameless, another expedition into the wastelands is arranged. Nameless is interested in exploring the tribal territories to the north – he wants to show us how people can live piously in ignorance of technology. The group grudgingly accepts this to Nameless, but secretly most of them figure that if the tribals are ignorant of technology, there might be some good salvage opportunities that are just waiting to be had.
Either way, the group sets out on foot. After some time they spy an old cell phone tower, which they arrive at and scav for parts after taking a very roundabout route getting there (Martin’s navigation skills improve after this debaucle as one of his companions provides him with a compass).
From the location of the tower the group is better able to get a lay of the valleys below. They notice a river that branches two ways off in the distance, and a bridge. They decide to go investigate.
Eventually they arrive at an old campground. They find a map of the national park they’re currently in in one of the remaining buildings and decide that it may be useful to investigate the two ranger stations in the park. As they are setting up camp for the night, they encounter a group of the tribal people.
Hostilities are avoided as the group explains themselves, and how they don’t want to encroach on the hunting grounds of the Anaheim Tribe. From this exchange, the leader, head tracker Komana Hobar, concludes that our heroes are warriors. He asks if they would come see the chief of his tribe to aid in a dispute that the Anaheim tribe has with that Chino tribe that lives to the north. Anxious to prove their friendly intent, the group agrees to at least see the chief, if for no other reason than to establish friendly relations.
The following day they arrive at Anaheim Tribe’s village. They speak with Chief Craggon about the situation. Apparently the Chino tribe has used black magic to destroy Anaheim’s wards, and now the village is having some trouble with wolves attacking their people. Some of the party members are interested in these supposed wards, and their inquiries are directed toward the village’s head Mystic, Bellara the Wise…
...But Bellara is very reluctant to tell the heroes anything about the wards. She says that that information is only for those initiated as mystics of the tribe. In order to gain access to this information, they would have to undergo a ritual in which they must face their greatest fear in order to cleanse their spirits. Nameless, Martin, and Garth all agree to attempt the ritual in order to satisfy their curiosity, but of the 3 only Martin manages to remain in a hut with his drug-induced fears all night, the other two abandoning the ritual under mental duress.
Martin is shown the wards the following day. Most of it looks fairly mundane, except for a small metal box that the tribals call a “relic”. It is some sort of EM generator that kept the wolves away (I guess it’s some kind of high-frequency noise generator?). The power source appears to be depleted – so the failure of the wards was no black magic after all, but a simple failure of the device. Martin, in his excitement, tried to relay this information to Bellara, asking her to warn the chief not to initiate attacks on the Chino tribe, but he was a bit too overzealous with his techno-babble about the device. Bellara just patted him on the head and suggested that perhaps he needed to undergo additional spiritual cleansing.
Martin returns to the group and explains that they could stop a war if they could find a power cell for their “protective relic”.
Meanwhile, Doc Greenwood manages to convince Bellara that he too is a mystic of sorts, and after aiding her in alleviating one of the villagers’ arthritis symptoms, he acquires a small quantity of her herbs to supplement his medical supplies.
Later in the day the village is attacked by a massive wolf, which out heroes manage to defeat before it does any serious harm to any of the villagers. After seeing this massive beast, it is clear that Anaheim needs their “ward” restored quickly.
Martin vows to Bellara that he will return with a way of fixing Anaheim’s ward. She dismisses him saying that if he feels a quest will help, he can go ahead. She is not at all convinced that Martin can repair the ward.
The group returns to Grafton for now to plan their next actions.