Searching for Sanctuary

After a short rest Follows-Chalk and I resume our trek across Zion’s untamed wilderness.
When I set out on this adventure, I thought that I was average in all respects; however, it does occur to me now that anyone that can embark on a forced-march across inhospitable terrain, all day long, with a crippled leg is actually a bit of a trooper. I don’t feel too pleased about this revelation however, as if I’m a trooper, then any most other people I’ve ever met seem to be demi-gods – capable of jogging across the face of the world non-stop – hunger, dehydration or exhaustion be damned.

With the sweet sounds of smooth Jazz pouring from my Pip-boy, we make our way north. Or we try to head north… after following the twisting river a short while we run into a sheer cliff-face that seems to mark the borders of these lands.

Our path cut off by unfortunate happenstance, we are forced to veer to the left until we spot a break in the cliff-face that will let us sneak through. We eventually come upon an embankment that looks like we could scale it, providing a convenient ramp up higher into the hills.
As we progressed up the hill, we barely noticed the lurking green assassin until it was almost too late. With zero warning or fanfare, a vaguely humanoid shape detached itself from a nearby bush and then came charging down the hill at us with an ape-like gait.

It's not easy... being green

It’s not easy… being green

It’s clearly the same kind of creature that we encountered back in the caves, although it looks a damn sight uglier in the light of day. Follows-Chalk wastes little time running into battle – arms and axes flailing wildly… I have GOT to have a chat with that dude about finding some sort of sense of self preservation.

While F-C might be a fan of close-quarters melee, Joe is smart enough to rely on weapons that will allow him to vaporize foes from a safe distance away – and somewhat predictably, high-tech laser pistol beats silly savage axe.

What's better than a pile of ashes? Nothing! Nothing at all!

What’s better than a pile of ashes? Nothing! Nothing at all!

With the green creature safely dispatched I veto any further exploration of this particular area and we head back down to the river in the south – I just hope that the green men were here before we explored the cave, because I’d hate to think that we’d inadvertently opened some sort of leafy pandora’s box.

Given the continued existence of the giant cliff face to the north, F-C and I continue to the east – a task made more difficult by the fact that the pre-war tracks and roads had ceased to be part of the landscape some time ago, and instead we were left to wade our way through the river.
Arguably, we could have traveled along the river-bank, but the river helpfully cuts a path through the uneven terrain and ensures we don’t have to climb up, over or around any hill or outcrops. Plus, it’s useful defensively… assuming that the folk attacking us don’t have guns.

Now, it might not sound like floating in the middle of a river, unable to draw a weapon, is the ideal defensive position to take, and you’d be right if firearms are involved. If the other-side have guns they will rain fiery hot death down on you, and you’ll have very little you can do about it – but if they don’t have guns then you’re sitting pretty.
This stems from the fact that the animals in Zion aren’t particularly smart and the white-legs tribe seem (and there’s no nice way to say this) to suffer from a mild form of brain damage. Sure, they hate you, the White-legs and animals both, but once they chase you into deep water they have to focus on swimming so as to not drown, and so instead of attacking you they just float there looking a bit silly.

There was a great example of this someway up the river – on the bank we stumbled upon the body of some poor soul that Follows-Chalk informs me is a member of the Sorrows Tribe. He was clearly the victim of an ambush, but although Follows-Chalk tells me that Sorrows normally travel in pairs, I was unable to see even a trace of any survivor.
I pay my best wishes in the only way I know how – I take all of his stuff so that his memory can forever live on… in my heart… in my soul… in my back-pack… in my bank account. I’m, as ever, thrilled to be a little richer, but just around the bend in the river we find that the danger hasn’t yet passed and we spy the two White-leg ambushers that had offed our limbless friend.
The two would-be highway-robbers had chased the surviving Sorrow tribesman into the middle of the river – where the three of them had apparently been bobbing about for some time.

The arrival of Follows-Chalk and Joe didn’t seem to faze the swimmers any, and they probably would have continued to float there if F-C had not, in a somewhat unsportsmanlike manor, whipped out an axe and started slapping the nearest white-leg raider about the head from the safety of shallow water.
Given their general sogginess and lack of ability to fight back, Joe was quick to join in the fun – I’m not for pointless combat and I’m no commando, but I know a sure thing when I see it.

Like the world’s worst soup.

Like the world’s worst soup.

It doesn’t take long to murder the flummoxed, floating fugitives and once they were slain the surviving sorrow marched out of the water and off into the distance without a word of thanks. No matter, looting the white-leg’s stuff will be thanks enough!

Given the presence of a member of the Sorrows, it stands to reason that their camp won’t be too far away. Unlike the Dead Horse tribe, the Sorrows don’t have any hunters and they rarely wonder too far from their homes.
We continue east until we see another break in the northern cliff. Following the path we soon see the camp in the distance.

Not likely to appear in the next Home & Garden magazine, but it'll do.

Not likely to appear in the next Home & Garden magazine, but it’ll do.

I’m just happy to see a sanctuary. It’s been a long day, and I’m looking forward to a little rest.
Nevertheless, I must resist the siren call of sleep and greet our hosts – it’d be rude not to. Also, I don’t really have a choice – the moment I enter the camp I am accosted by a tribeswoman who seems oddly happy to meet my acquaintance – perhaps she’s related to the chap we saved from bobbing about in the river?
Her name is Waking Cloud and she insists on introducing us to Daniel, a man who is helping the Sorrows to prepare to evacuate in case of any White-legs invasion.

It turns out that Daniel is a Mormon missionary who, like Joshua Graham, lived in New Canaan before the White-legs destroyed it. When questioned as to why he and the Sorrows won’t consider staying and fighting the White-legs Tribe, Daniel points out that the same way of thinking led Joshua Graham to become the Malpais Legate, created men like Salt-Upon-Wounds (leader of the White-legs) and led the world to ruin in the great war that destroyed the old world.
Fair point, I guess… but those White-leg jerks really do have it coming.

Daniel seems a nice enough chap, even offering to help tend to our wounds, but he doesn’t have any desire to trade, which is something of a disappointment. What am I going to do with all the crap I looted from dead people if some shmuck valued customer isn’t willing to buy it all from me?
Well, if he isn’t willing to buy my crap prized possessions he’s no use to me. I need to find some place to rest.

 What do you mean you don’t want to buy this 2nd-hand armour? What are a few bullet holes between friends?


What do you mean you don’t want to buy this 2nd-hand armour? What are a few bullet holes between friends?

The Sorrow’s camp is a confusing maze of huts, caves and criss-crossing walkways, all hidden amongst the walls of a ravine. I appreciate the idea of living in concert in theory, but in reality the whole ‘avoid marking nature’ thing is pretty impractical for getting about.

It’s with some relief I spot a cave with familiar white patterns near the entrance – Another cave used by the survivalist!
And I have to say that this is the most impressive cave I’ve seen so far.

Behold! The mines of Moria!

Behold! The mines of Moria!

Despite my enthusiasm, I take my time navigating the cave – the last think I want is some trap-door to spring out and hit me like a brick. Three trip wires, two bear traps and a lot of sweat later I finally make it to the central chamber that the survivalist called home.
As always, the chamber included a bed, campfire, crafting tables and more than a few crates worth looting. And, as always, a PC powered by an old fusion battery.

I’m been looking forward to this for a while – and lucky me, the diary entries on this computer are fairly close to the last entries I’d read. In the last entries the survivalist had seen a small group of people, and while he hadn’t gone to meet them, he had been leaving them gifts. I could hardly wait to see what had happened to them…
As it turns out… nothing good…. But that story can wait for another day.

Depressing diary aside, there was only other thing of note here: The survivalist’s old Desert Ranger armour. I’m not much for the bulky, heavy armour I’ve seen some folk in the Mojave try to wear… but this Ranger Armour is light as leather armour, and it looks super bad-ass.

MWAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHA! HA!

MWAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHA! HA!

Unfortunately, the mask means I can’t wear my glasses, a fact that would negatively impact my perception by virtue of me not being able to see anything. The outfit kind loses something without the mask, but I guess I’ll have to settle for looking mildly bad-ass instead.

Awwwww.

Awwwww.

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