After spending a year recuperating in the ex-slaver compound with Richard and the freed slaves who decided to stay and make it their home the party decided to act on some of the information Lantus had acquired over the course of the year.
During the year each member of the group focused on advancing their skill in a particular area. Red focused on physical and dexterous exercises, Plato spent the year working out and Malar, who had a fair amount of recovery time, spent the year honing his willpower in daily meditations. Sal disappeared for most of the year, presumably conducting business for Ann, and Lantus spent the year polishing her social skills.
During this time, Lantus learned of two locations worth checking out. One is an old military warehousing facility on the edge of the Cascade Mountains and the other is an abandoned Tolaris Tech vault. Because of the impending emergency of Red’s family and friends in the vault he left behind, the group decided to investigate the Tolaris vault in the hopes of finding a working, or at least repairable, water chip to take back to his vault. The vault itself was also located in the Cascade mountain range, about 3 and a half days south east on foot.
Along the way the group encountered a pack of mutated coyotes with spectacular leaping abilities which, thanks to Malar’s watchfulness, were little threat to the group and yielded some valuable crystal and furs for trading. Then, about a day out from the small town of Burntleaf, the party encountered their first human mutation. The man was clearly deranged and feral, he snuck into the camp while the party slept that night and struck at Lantus. His aim was poor and hurried, however, and while he managed to wound her, it wasn’t lethal and the party made short work of him once the alarm was raised. Afterwards, they had time to examine his oddly chitinous flesh and gigantic, five or six foot scorpion stinger.
It quickly became apparent that while the wound dealt to Lantus was non-lethal, the venom from the mutant was rapidly spreading through her system. After gathering a sample of venom from the tail the group took to the road, now in a hurry to reach Burntleaf before Lantus’ symptoms grew worse. They arrived by mid-morning and while Lantus spent the day being tended and awaiting an anti-venom from the local doctor the rest of the group spoke with the locals, purchased supplies and made a few “friends”.
After a day in Burntleaf Lantus was doing much better and Red was anxious to be on their way to the vault so the party headed out early the next morning, arriving in late afternoon at the entrance to the cave whose dimly lit interior offered cool shade and a possible entrance to the much sought Tolaris vault.