I’m in the process of adapting Guns of Telluria from Into the Odd over to adapting Maze Rats. This was the first test.
Three veterans from the war met in the Battle of Topeka, and now traveled as guns for hire.
- Irene Morgan (Iris) and her talking crow named Edgar.
- Nettie Blair (Kristy) and her faithful horse Maximus.
- Rhineholdt “Holt” Stoker (Bryan) and his faithful horse Ulysses.
All of them got an honorable discharge and had some medals, real war heroes. But they couldn’t go back to their lives before the Great War.
They were riding through the beautiful autumnal countryside towards the town of Johnsonville, where they saw smoke coming up and smelled delicious barbecue going on. They quickened their pace, because a public party was just the thing after some time on the road.
Over the banks of wildflowers, the column of huge butterflies (each wing the size of a hand) with impossibly iridescent colors twisted towards the party. The townsfolk cried out in dismay as it approached, and they scattered. A butterfly landed on the face of a fellow next to Holt, and it had a carapace and multiple wavy heads, and suckers so it stuck to the panicking man’s face. Holt tried to remove it with a pocket knife, and it exploded, flinging him back.
Another butterfly latched onto Irene’s head, but she was wearing her glamor goggles (which cut out the butterfly color) and managed to pry the suckers loose so the butterfly didn’t blow her head off. They retreated into the barn, where a butterfly on the wall outside blew a head-sized hole in the boards.
They encountered a young man hiding in the barn. He told them the butterflies had come twice before, this was the third attack in two weeks. They came in broad daylight, blowing up heads and doorways, then they were gone. They came from the east, and the only things over there were the Jenkins farms (the Jenkins clan had quite a bit of interconnected territory and bloodlines) and Crawdad Hollow.
With the explosive assault seemingly over, they went out to help. Holt wanted medical attention, but saw the disaster’s scope, and instead helped with triage (and caught the eye of a pretty nurse, who he studiously ignored.) He helped bring order while the doctor used a hot frypan to cauterize the stumps of struggling and screaming survivors of butterfly bombs.
Meanwhile Irene and Nettie went to the dry goods store which was mostly caved in by explosives, and helped get people out before it collapsed.
Reluctant to talk to authority figures any further, they mounted up and headed east, following the path of the bomber butterflies.
Jenkins Folk Ain’t Friendly
As they rode onto Jenkins land, a line of grubby farmers threatened them, telling them to turn back. Two had shotguns. Nettie, who had been granted a horrible power by the fey so she could open starving pits to swallow foes, unleashed that power and devoured one of the farmers. The others lost their nerve and sloped off, so the veterans rode on.
They found a Jenkins settlement, and a lean pack of hounds raced towards them bawling, but the horses kept their cool and Nettie fed them a sausage from the festival, getting a bunch of tail wagging best friends. A shabby farmer came out and told them to git, and abruptly turned his back when they talked about butterflies.
But one of his kids told them more (in exchange for a sausage.) There was the Stinky Man at Crawdad Hollow, and no one could see him, but he was the big boss. Before he could say more, his dad chased him off, and the veterans withdrew.
They saw a fey glyph of some kind on the Jenkins fencepost, and the boy told them they could follow the scarecrows to the Hollow. They saw the scarecrows also had a fey glyph stitched into the fabric of their faces, and were in a visible line, so they followed them.
They reached the Hollow, and saw a crumbling old pedastal at the “mouth” of a swampy mangrove area. There were butterflies at rest in the trees of the swamp, and the old stonework maybe was here, or maybe shifted in from contact with a fey realm. They approached, and whiffed the terrible stink of trench foot.
Irene tried to get a fix on the Stinky Man, who was hidden in a glamer. Holt got tossed off the pedastal with a telekinetic shove, and the others readied handfuls of iron filings and machetes or other weapons.
Holt readied his elephant gun for when he had a shot. The Stinky Man gloated he was going to use his summoning powers to take over Johnsonville, and then the world! (He was clearly a bit fuzzy on scale.) He telekinetically hurled Nettie from the platform, and she broke her neck on impact.
Irene caught a glimmer of the thing and threw her iron filing so they sparkled against the hidden hide; it was a man-sized lobster thing, invisible and gruesome, but Holt fired his cannon and destroyed it. Many pieces of the horrible thing plopped down in the swamp, and the crawdads gleefully went to work eating it.
The saddened veterans withdrew and immolated Nettie on a pyre in proper fashion, then moved on.