Knollmenera

The Secret Ingredient, Pt. 1

In which our heroes journey into the heart of a floating cybernetic interdimensional jungle.

Harlow informs the party that Dracogen may have an urgent job for them. They find that Dracogen is hosting a secret noble guest for a banquet featuring dishes from renowned chef Lindo Varga. However, the dish around which the event is centered requires a rare ingredient: the scarfruit, which grows only in the dangerous and hard-to-access Errant Jungle.

The party purchases grappling hooks from their favorite local merchant. On the way back to the inn, they encounter Brin, who offers to help them for a small fee. As they debate her offer, Brin disappears.

The party journeys overnight to the site where the Errant Jungle touches land and begins to strategize. As they do, Brin arrives with a hovering cargo platform. Driscoll, ARC, Zaphon, and Xan choose to jump from the platform to the jungle, while Finn and Jake elect to jump on from the ground.

After ascending through the canopy, the party encounters a zero-gravity zone through which they must pass. Once they successfully get through it, gravity pulls them toward the forest floor, to which they climb down.

The party makes its way though the thick foliage of the jungle, searching for fruit. About an hour into their journey they spot — just in time — a drill snake stalking them high above. After a tense battle, Jacob kills the snake with an expertly placed arrow, and the party collects some of the snake’s metal scales.

The Nanos of the party search for cyphers in the strange landscape, finding carnivorous plants that sprout a monofilament blades and exploding compounds, among other things.

During their search, Finn spots a foxweasel watching them. He remembers Chef Varga’s comment that one of his scarfruit was unusable because it had been pecked by birds, and notices the foxweasel eating a small bird. He attracts the foxweasel with a bit of trail rations, then slips a cypher onto its head that allows him to read its thoughts. The little creature’s memories flash through Finn’s mind, including the location of a small flock of birds feeding on a patch of scarfruit.

The gathers a respectable pile of scarfruit, then immediately makes plans to search for more. Driscoll and Xan stay behind to guard the fruit they have found, while the rest of the party follows the foxweasel in hopes that it will hunt more of the birds that feed on the fruit.

Finn, Jacob, Zaphon, and ARC march through the jungle and, in time, finds another patch of scarfruit. They load up and head back to their companions, who, in the meantime, haven’t been so lucky.

Both Xan and Driscoll had been knowingly carrying too many cyphers. All three of Driscoll’s had suddenly failed. Soon after the party splits, Xan’s cyphers have a dramatic and dangerous interaction, pulling in different directions in multiple dimensions. He is violently sickened as a result, and Driscoll — who had become mildly suspicious of Xan’s behavior — notices that one of Xan’s implants reacts much differently than the others during the ordeal.

Shortly afterward, a band of mercenaries steps out of the jungle and happens upon them. The two nanos discover that Dracogen had sent them in two days prior on the same errand, but they have had no luck in finding the scarfruit. Driscoll attempts to craft an illusion to make the party’s stack of fruit look rotten, but succeeds only in making a second pile of pristine fruit appear.

Thankfully for Driscoll and Xan, the rest of the party returns in time to hear the mercenaries from a distance. They plan their approach, using a cypher to create a short-lived clone of Finn. They step out to aid their friends, and when Dickie, the mercenary team’s leader, sees how badly outnumbered he is, he immediately stands down.

In a show of goodwill, ARC hastens to heal Bando, the injured mercenary. Any animosity between the two groups rapidly dissolves, and they discuss how and when to get off of the jungle. The mercenaries note that it gets cold at night in the jungle, but they have survived thus far.

Since the group is stranded on the jungle for the night, the mercenaries offer to show the party something they have found. The group retraces the mercenaries’ steps, following a stream to the jungle’s core. Peering through the transparent core, they see just how high they have come: the jungle is in space.

Zaphon is captivated by the numenera device. After a quick investigation, he discovers its controls and realizes how to manipulate them. With his friends’ help, he attempts to maneuver the jungle, only to have it threaten to shake apart and plummet to Earth.

Will Zaphon kill the party, the foxweasels, and whoever the jungle lands on? Find out in The Secret Ingredient, Part 2!

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