Lantern Year Four

The Hunt had become a routine, a way of life for Survivors of the Solterra Settlement. In the fourth year, three of the founders volunteered to hunt again. This time, they had their sights set on much larger prey, the greater White Lion {Level 2}. Aurelia, daughter of the young victor Cyrus and deceased founder Dawn, also volunteered to embark upon the hunt. She felt inspired and burdened by the feats of her father. His image cast a long shadow, and she wished to step out of it and into the rays of The Sun.

From DakkaDakka
Together the four trekked through the darkness. On the first day of their hunt, they could hear the beast yowling and caterwauling in the darkness. They grew crazed with the sound, though they could not decipher what it meant. The more the creature yowled, the harder it became to move onward.

On the next day, they came upon a dying prospector. His gut was riddled with arrows. With a shaking hand, he forced a key into Aurelia's hand.

"To the portcullis gate," he gurgled, before wheezing his last breath.

Not much later, they found a human skeleton. Beside it lay a tablet covered with mysterious markings, but not even the founders could decipher it. They debated taking the tablet with them, but Cyrus urged the hunting party onward, speaking in great detail of the bounty they would haul back from their fight with the White Lion. They would not be able to spare any room in their packs.

From DakkaDakka
Suddenly, Sun halted. The other founders, drawing up beside him, grew quiet as well. They had found the scene of their very first battle with a White Lion, much like the one they were hunting now. The grasses were dried and brittle now. The carcass was long gone. But still they recognized the gaps of stone where they had pried their Founding Stones from the ground to defend themselves against the great cat with human hands and insatiable hunger. Electrified by the victory that had initiated their civilization, they continued searching the darkness for their prey.

They Survivors did not realize how close to their prey they were. They could smell the stench of his hunting grounds, but they were baffled by it. Blindly they hunted. They came upon another dying prospector in the dark. He was dressed like his brother. He fumbled for something in his pocket, but it was clear he was closer to death than the other had been. Cyrus knelt down beside him and plucked the key from his pocket.

"The portcullis gate?" he asked. The prospector's eyes grew bright for a brief moment in earnest agreement before they dulled forever.

The hunting party grew more weary as they walked. They made camp, determined to rest and prepare themselves for the coming fight. When they awoke, however, what they had hoped would be glimpses of light was nothing but Overwhelming Darkness. Cyrus felt disoriented, but still he urged the party to strike ahead. Sun, driven mad by the promise of more combat, lashed out at Cyrus and the others in rage. While the others attempted to subdue Sun, Aurora was attacked in the darkness by an unseen monster. The others quickly rallied around her to scare the monster away, but Aurora was heavily wounded. Aurora waved away their ministrations, bidding the party to continue on and the rest agreed, though they watched Aurora closely thereon after.

Image from Spiraling Cadaver
At last they came upon the White Lion in Tall Grass as he grazed languidly upon a Monster Corpse. Sun used the cover of the grass to shoot an arrow into the White Lion's flank. The beast labored to turn around, and as he did so, Aurora darted behind him and swung her weapon as hard as she could between his massive thighs, sheering off his testicles. The lion raged and roared, spinning around until his eyes were fixed on her. Aurora knew she was now destined to die unless they defeated the lion, so she struck out again, and this time she hit him in the flank punctured by the arrow, driving it in further. The lion roared and fell to the ground.

The neophyte spotted an opportunity to stab the lion with her stone shard, but the lion quickly rose to its feet. A trap! His clawed hands swiped at Aurelia, catching her hands and feet as she tried to defend herself. She screamed and scrabbled backward, her blood-slick hands slipping on the cold stone faces beneath her. She scrabbled to hide in the remains of the dead monster.

Though she would have been an easy target, the lion could smell his target and he swung around and swiped at Aurora, but her instincts told her to dodge. She swung her Counterweighted Axe again in response, successfully hitting him in the neck and then again in the femur. Cyrus rushed in and bashed the lion from behind with his own skullcap hammer, landing wounds on his heel and paw.

Jeff uses the Rogue Male Great Game Hunter as a stand-in for Sun. 
But still the lion could not be deterred from his mark, and he roared at Aurora, bearing down on her. Aurora's fear was so profound that she fell to her knees, certain she was about to die. Aurelia, seeing the woman who had become a mother to her-to the whole settlement-rushed forward from her grotesque hiding place and tried to attack the lion from behind. But the spiteful lion grabbed Aurora and Cyrus, dragging them far away from Sun and Aurelia. Cyrus swung out with his hammer, hitting the lion in the ear, but still this made the lion ever more cunning. Cyrus shouted at Aurora to get back, fearful that the lion would grab her and run away again.

Aurora nodded to Cyrus and made a run for the tall grass, but not before she swung her mighty weapon at the beast's brow. As she ducked and dodged the lion's treacherous claws, Sun raised his bow again and again, wounding the lion in chest and back. Cyrus charged forward again, swinging his hammer at the beast's Shimmering Mane. Though he missed, his Skullcap Hammer smashed into the lion's elbow with a sickening crunch. The lion screeched, and all of the survivors quaked in horror. The enraged lion roared with purpose again, and all of the Survivors dropped their weapons and covered their ears.

As the lion advanced upon her again, Aurora took up her axe and struck the lion in its maw. Aurelia tried again to stab the lion in its soft belly while it shook its great mane and pawed at its wounded face, but she failed. Apollo ran in next to her and swung his hammer as hard as he could into the beast's gut. Seeing the battle turn in their favor, Sun fired another arrow, but missed.

The beast still could not be distracted from its deadly purpose, and it limped toward Aurora. It growled, unwilling to recognize its own defeat. Enraged by her weakness, Aurelia threw her Founding Stone with all her might. The Survivors watched in surprise as the White Lion stopped its pursuit, took a heavy breath, and then fell to the ground with the Founding Stone jutting from between its giant ribs. Finally, the beast was dead.

I use the Pinup version of the female Warrior of the Sun for Aurora. 
The Survivors returned to a settlement still besieged by storms, but it could not dampen their spirits. Upon their arrival, they were also greeted by the arrival of the Dark Dentist. Drunk with victory, Cyrus volunteered himself for a procedure that would give him monster tooth dentures. The surgery was successful, though his countenance was forever marred by its unnatural and toothsome appearance. Not long after the dentist departed, the Bone Witch visited the settlement to invite the returning Survivors to her Witch Camp. With each new visitor, the settlement grew more productive and eventually they innovated ammonia. Their ability to work as a team was so strengthened, that when the settlement went Sun Dipping, they learned they would only be bettered through Partnerships. They even attempted to complete a Sun Ritual, but realized that their bodies were too impure for the Sacred Pool, and they vowed to purify themselves before attempting the ritual again.

To read what happened in Lantern Year Five, click here!

Want more info about the lore behind the Sunstalker People of the Sun campaign? Check out Vibrant Lantern!