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With confidence born of their previous success the Hunting Party set out again to slay another of their eternal foes. Lorena lead the party ably into a sea of golden grass where the party was able to pick up the signs of not just one, but two creatures. One set of tracks though was much smaller than the others and after discussion they agreed it was likely a mother White Lion and her cub. The chance to reap such a bounty spurred the party and they stalked their prey with relish. It was only a little later that they came upon the Mother and her cub in a clearing. Without hesitation Thalia notched an arrow, drew her bow and loosed an arrow which tore through the cub's chest. The slain lion let out only a weak cry as its last breath escaped its lungs.The mother spun around quickly towards the survivors and in its rage let out a terrifying roar that sent a shiver of fear down the survivors spines.
In the next instant the White Lion closed the distance between her and Caleb and clawed out at him. The attack though was obvious to Caleb and he was able to nimbly avoid the strikes and get out of the way, leaving Thalia free to fire her best clawed arrow into the monster's neck. Lorena and Caleb then strike the beast. Lorena manages to lodge a dart in the monster's chest but Caleb only receives a raking of claws across his rawhide armour for his efforts. The lion quickly switches tactics and waits cautiously on the ground to savage anyone who comes near it. This creates a stand-off between the warring parties which only ends when Thalia lets loose an arrow which strikes its heel. Her victory though is short lived as the roar the creature unleashes in its pain is so intense that it knocks Thalia to the ground. The Lion is so focused on avenging itself and her cub against Thalia that she fails to notice Caleb moving to her flank. The lion does notice though when Caleb's Katar smashes into its temple and shatters its skull, leaving it dizzy and confused.
The Lion lashes out now in desperation and is able to fend of an attack by Icarus with powerful swipes of its strange and before trying to rip off Caleb's head with a ferocious Chomp. The instant before it can make its attack though Lorena warns Caleb and he is able to again roll out of the path of yet another potentially mortal strike. The Lion now is exhausted and confused and tries to buy time for itself by trying to fight the survivors on the ground where it has the advantage. It's of no use though as Thalia is able to let fly arrow after arrow into the beast and bring it near to the point of death. While the White Lion does manage to cleverly trick Lorena into exposing herself and inflicts a nasty wound to her head, it is not long before Caleb is able to finish the beast off by sliding his Katar between the beasts ribs.
The journey back to the settlement is longer than the hunt itself, especially as they are weighed down with the spoils of the slaughter of two White Lions. The survivors discuss how they are more experienced now; Lorena discovers a method for blocking blows with her forearms, Icarus masters a breathing technique which allows him to run faster than he had thought possible, and through great practice Caleb discovers that in the right circumstances he could chain his attacks together to do more damage to his foes. The journey went without incident until the survivors encountered a strange spot on the ground that seemed to emanate darkness and cause their lanterns to flicker uneasily. Caleb, the most courageous of the group moved to investigate it and was engulfed in darkness. Moments later Caleb emerged and to the surprise of the other survivors had been greatly changed. While moments ago Caleb had been a lean and wiry grizzled man, there was now before them a younger woman who was in the prime of her physical strength and powers. Caleb calmed the survivors down quickly though and though she couldn't explain what happened that all would be well. When Icarus asked her if she meant to take another name Caleb replied that she would not as she was essentially the same person.
Time passed once they arrived back at the settlement and the survivors worked industriously to create a leather shield, bandages, another set of bow and arrows as well as to concoct a drink from the genitals of the White Lion which would enable a survivor to fight with all the savagery of a monster. It was during this time that a Hooded Knight visited the settlement. The survivors could only look on speechlessly as it walked straight up to Thalia and left with her a tattered parcel containing a cloak and sword. The knight nodded to her with a wry smile as it left and she knew that he would be back to test her. The settlement was ecstatic as their numbers grew after Grace and Hiram gave birth to twins. Even this joyous event though was eclipsed by the miracle of Gerald and Freya having a second daughter in their new hovel. At the instant of birth their daughter, Gaea, disappeared for an instant and then returned fully grown. Gaea could not explain what had happened but that she knew her purpose was to protect the settlement and that to do so she had been given special powers. At that moment though the horror came.
A cry rang out from Icarus and the survivors rushed to him. He could only point in terror at a figure standing just outside the settlement. There was a man shaped creature, clad in armour and the flayed skin of humans, just waiting with two over sized butcher's cleavers hanging at its side. Not a word was spoken until Caleb cried out to the settlement with her new voice. She exclaimed that they must accept the darkness of the world around them no matter what it threw at them, and that by doing so they could conquer any foe who presented themselves, including the abomination that stalked them now. Inspired, the survivors roared their approval and set to preparing their most experienced warriors for the upcoming battle. All except for Icarus, the first to see the Butcher, for he was too terrified to face the creature. Caleb patted him on the shoulder and told Icarus he was not needed and that Gaea would be the saviour of the settlement. All she asked of him was that Icarus spend time with her so she could benefit from his experience.
The Butcher just waits menacingly. Let's hope this next fight doesn't hurt too bad.
Soon all that could be done was done. Caleb, Thalia, Lorena, and Gaea, the finest warriors the settlement could assemble, set out into the darkness to defend their home.
This is about as good as a year as I could ask for before fighting the butcher. I had a thankfully short hunt phase (which makes a good change) and an easy showdown where I was able to collect ~14 resources. The Settlement Event turned Caleb into a woman but also increased her strength, evasion and accuracy making her now quite a powerful survivor for LY3. I've also now got a Twilight Sword that I can start getting Thalia to work on, though she will continue to use a bow as well.
Innovating Hovel was a no brainer when I had the option this lantern year for two reasons. First it gives me access to Saviours which are incredibly powerful (especially Green ones) and it also allows me to get the Family innovation which is an important part of developing the weapon proficiencies of the settlement as a whole (and of keeping the twilight sword useful until the end of the game). I was instantly rewarded for having Hovels with a green saviour who I then used my last two innovations to get XP for (using the KD 1.4 Lantern Hoard location.) This will allow me to put her up against the Butcher with a good deal of Armour and evasion to hopefully get me through the fight without too much trouble.
I built another bow and claw head arrow as I had enough resources and this way all 4 survivors now have pretty decent weapons. 2 Claw head arrows also gives me the chance to really make it easy to hit monsters. I also built bandages as these are crucial to surviving a fight with the Butcher.
Thanks again for reading and hope you enjoy!