Session Summary #1 -- "The Eye of Ra"

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The Skull of Xilirilichtli
Dead Lands Session Summary #2 (Group B): The Skull of Xilirilichtli

Our intrepid heroes are hired by the Mexican Department of Antiquities to travel to the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula to investigate a recently discovered Mayan ruin. It is believed that the fabled Crystal Skull of Xilirilichtli is to be found here, and that it is guarded by numerous deviously crafted traps, so the way will be hazardous. The group consists of Dash Stone, all-American pilot and general hero ... Eddie, his faithful sidekick ... Lucas Faust, ex-German officer with extensive skills in jungle survival ... Kintaro Suzuki, master of the martial arts ... and Thomas Windwalker, a guide and expert tracker from the Sioux Nation.

Our heroes boat their way up to the canyon where the ruins are to be found, and make it to shore, setting up camp under the shadow of a large jaguar statue and a steep cliff, near rapidly moving water, minimizing the chance that they'll be disturbed by alligators, wildcats, and the like. Faust examines the statue there, and finds that it is covered in plates of polished malachite, though it has become covered by moss and vines over time. Since it's about nightfall, the group decides to camp rather than to start exploring the tunnel opening up right off where they've camped, and they set up their tents. The martial artist, Kintaro, takes first watch ... but uncharacteristically falls asleep. Alas, several huge bats swarm out of the cave after nightfall, and though some of them simply fly off, and they don't bother those inside the tent, they fall upon the prone Kintaro, wounding him severely enough that he hasn't a chance to defend himself before lapsing into unconsciousness again.

The others stir into action, though the usually heroic Dash Stone is overwhelmed by the shock of waking up to such horror, and is momentarily stunned in fear. Faust is the first to spring into action, using a machete to hack at the bats that are preying on the martial artist, while Windwalker tries shooting at the bats, but is unable to peg them while they're in the air - Still, the sound of the gunshot startles one of the bats, prompting it to fly off. Eddie and Dash Stone at last get out of the tent and contribute to the effort, while Windwalker at last succumbs to his wounds and falls unconscious. By that time, however, Faust and Dash manage to finish off the last of the bats (Faust taking the time to methodically go around and finish off the wounded bats on the ground).

Wounds are bandaged, and once Windwalker recovers consciousness, he calls to his guardian spirit for aid, and succeeds in helping along the healing process of himself and his wounded comrades. The group sets up camp - and watch - again. Dash Stone's watch is uneventful, though for a moment it sounds like there might be some screams out in the woods ... which he reasons to be some monkeys. During Faust's watch, however, as it draws closer to morning, he spies some of the bats coming back. He calls out to the others to wake up ... but then proceeds to pick each of the bats out of the air with his rifle before they can even reach the camp (and the cave opening) again.

In the morning, everyone gets up and it turns out that no one has anything more than the most superficial of wounds. They head into the cave, and find - aside from a lot of bat guano, puddles of stagnant water, and hanging vines - a vine-covered passage leading further in, less eroded by the water. Windwalker detects a pit trap, and the group works together to safely bypass it.

Past the trap is a door with a stone jaguar's head, and pictures that show a slave sticking his hand in and being bitten by the head, bleeding into a receptacle. Windwalker figures out a way of "tricking" the puzzle by pouring water into the receptacle. It turns out to be sufficient, and the door opens up, allowing entry into the next passage.

They then enter a chamber with several sunken tiles and water filling the depressed areas. The area smacks of "trap", and Dash has Eddie go stand on one of the submerged spaces. Nothing happens - at first - and Eddie breathes a sigh of relief ... but then, the tile drops, and through several holes in the tile (obscured by a layer of moss and grit), spikes are revealed, impaling the hapless Eddie. Our heroes manage to fish Eddie (and his pack of supplies) out, and leave him behind, for burial later.

They manage to bypass the trap by quickly leaping over the tiles, or running across them faster than the tiles can drop. They find a door off to the side which they open up ... revealing a torrent of water that floods the chamber! They quickly grab for some of the vines hanging from the ceiling, or holes in the walls, securing themselves until the rush of water subsides. They then go in and find some human remains, a golden jaguar's head amulet, and some beads, while digging around through some muck.

They then move on, trying another door. This time, they're ready for the minor flood that poors through, though it's nothing compared to the previous door. Inside is another chamber with a jaguar's head framing a gateway on the opposite side, and a small alcove. As they test the floor in the chamber, sections of the walls start moving, closing inward. Without further ado, everyone makes a mad dash across the room, with the wall sections closing behind them at their heels, and they try to cram themselves into the alcove ... though it's not quite large enough for the entire group. Faust finds images on the walls that depict a slave bowing and sticking his head into the stone jaguar's head there and having it bitten off. They hastily use a helmet and a full canteen of water as a weight to stick into the stone jaguar's mouth, then trigger the biting jaws with a pole. Meanwhile, Windwalker calls upon the spirits again, trying to buy some time by making the mechanism causing the blocks to move break down. He succeeds in stopping one of the blocks ... but its opposite number is not halted, and it keeps moving, beyond its normal stopping point ... causing water to spill out from behind, flooding the alcove! The jaguar-door opens in the nick of time, as our heroes and a torrent of water spill out into another chamber.

There, they regain their bearings, finding several doors and a pool in the center, as well as an opening that leads out to a more natural-looking cave. Windwalker spies through the doorway leading to the cave, and can tell that there's sunlight filtering in - the heroes have gone far enough up and around that it looks like the cave opening peers out of a cliff above a temple ruin, where a human sacrifice is being prepared. In the well in the center of the room, there are remains of previous sacrifices - including a fairly recent body of a murdered woman, which has been drained of blood.

One of the doors leads to a descending staircase, which has some deadly smashing stone traps - one of which is set off, hitting Kintaro. Amazingly, he is only stunned, not seriously harmed, but the group is especially careful to avoid the trapped steps. Nonetheless, the stairs lead right out to the sacrificial area, and they opt not to head back out there just yet.

Back up in the well chamber, they find that the other door is trapped, but also that the golden jaguar amulet works as a sort of key. They succeed in opening it, revealing three hysterical women behind it, tied up and in a pit. They get them out, and try to keep them quiet, and in the ensuing chaos of alternately trying to calm them or scare them into submission, the exhausted women end up passing out.

Meanwhile, they discover that the Crystal Skull of Xilirilichtli is indeed in the cavern room overlooking the temple facade, shielded from view outside by a curtain of water pouring down from the cliff. It's pretty obvious, however, that a trap is involved. Faust surmises that, considering that most of the traps so far have been powered by water, and that they are basically right under a waterfall, that the nature of this trap might be just to flood the chamber, since they are unable to find any sort of "smasher" traps in the chamber. Further investigation supports this theory. They opt to try a desperate gambit, anchoring themselves to pillars with ropes, and sending Kintaro out to grab the skull. They go for it, and water bursts up from the well, flooding the chamber and spewing out of the cavern opening - and the temple facade entrance below. Outside, the cultists are thrown into chaos, as water comes rushing out. When the flow subsides somewhat, our heroes carefully rig up ropes to lower themselves out of the temple facade and onto stable ground below. In all the chaos, the cultists have been washed into the river, or fled on their own, and our heroes - at first - manage to make it across the river without incident.

Their apparent easy escape, however, is cut short with the appearance of ... the stone jaguar statue! It is up at the top of the cliff, and some of the heroes hear the sounds of echoing laughter of the evil priest who was about to perform a sacrifice at the top of the temple steps. The jaguar statue leaps from the clifftop, and our heroes scatter to avoid its impact point - Windwalker just narrowly being missed. Dash Stone runs like crazy, while Faust desperately seeks out the location of the priest, figuring him to be the statue's controller, and thus a better target to focus on. Windwalker tries to evade the statue and ends up getting the crystal skull from Dash, and tries to use it - unsuccessfully - to take control of the statue, while Kintaro heroically buys time for his friends by distracting the statue long enough for Windwalker to get away, by using his nunchuks - and actually managing to cause some superficial damage on it. Anytime the statue is damaged, the priest lets out a cry of pain ... and this is what allows Faust to zero in on his location, atop the cliffs.

While Kintaro engages in an epic sparring match with the jaguar statue, barely evading great sweeps of its stone paws, Faust doggedly climbs up the cliff. Alas, one of the jaguar's swipes finds its mark ... and knocks Kintaro's head clean off in a single blow! Windwalker, aghast at this, desperately tries to use the skull again ... and manages to momentarily break the priest's control of the jaguar statue, though it still grabs up the shaman/guide in its maw. Faust, however, has the priest distracted as he reaches the top of the cliffs. Before he can ready his gun to finish off the foe, the priest pulls out an obsidian dagger and charges him ... however, Faust's ability in hand to hand combat is far superior than the wounded cultist's, and he blocks the dagger and uses the momentum of the attack to send the priest plummeting off the cliff ... to hit the ground far, far below. The statue immediately stops moving, and Windwalker manages to work his way out of the statue's jaws. The rest of the cult is scattered with the death of their leader, and our heroes manage to make off with the Crystal Skull of Xilirilichtli, three rescued peasants, and what's left of their camp supplies, to civilization, paying their respects to their fallen comrades: loyal Eddie and the brave and daring Kintaro Suzuki.

Where will our intrepid heroes find themselves on their next adventure? What new heroes will join their team as they take on the dangers of trap-filled ruins and the forces of darkness? Only time will tell, so be sure not to miss a single thrilling episode of Deadlands 1936!

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