The cold, destructive winds and pelting rain ravaged El Dorado. Old Route 66 became a slippery, treacherous many-headed serpent that took its toll on many a caravan traveling through the Wastes of the Broken Coast. Few DJs stopped at the Wall, choosing to keep the pedals to the metal and roar past the local stop. The Saltwise in Low Town retreated deeper into the marsh, avoiding conflict with the Gator-kin Raiders and their gator god. Within the town, both Hellions and zed alike slogged through the mud. The slow-moving shamblers were an almost welcome sight to the townsfolk, the sounds of the gorehounds slowly fading from memory as the days passed from the Trade Weekend. Despite the deluge, many Travelers had made the trek to El Dorado, braving the maze of roads, ramshackle bridges, and snaking waterways that made up the journey. Farmers, Cooks, and Brewers still plied their trade, the ringing blows of Tinkers repairing armor almost as fast as it was rent asunder by the ever-present Zed and Raiders.The fog was still thick on Coffin Creek, during the earliest hours of the morning. The Raiders, far more clever than any zed, would use the white rolling mist to mask their presence. Scroungers and Fishmongers were often victims of their murderous rage, not looking up until it was too late, braving the fog to ply their skills, the red tell-tale lights giving away their location to the bloodthirsty Raiders. In the time since the last Trade Weekend, at least two homesteads had gone dark, nothing left of their inhabitants other than the blood splattered on the walls and floors of their smashed-in hovels. The ground inside the homes were disturbed greatly, swaths of dirt upturned, with bits of clothing and other possessions half buried, seemingly pulled into the earth itself. The now-abundant water made the Swamp off-limits, most of the pathways clogged with zed stuck in the mire. The shambling Kudzuana were more abundant, the adolescent stage of the creatures far less lethal than the more potent adults. The stinging nettles exploded in wakes of green everywhere, the spiky growths foreshadowing their maturation into their deadly form, released when the Devil’s Wind pulled them loose from their moorings during the hot summer months.Attempting to shake off the lethargy that overwhelmed him, Jack stumbled across the wet slope, falling down a dozen times just to move over the rise. The Raiders had kept him and others alive, and with each day he could see in the others what exactly was happening to him. All of them soon were going to be indistinguishable from their captors. The past two months had shown the patterns that these Raiders had adopted. It was eerily similar to what some of the militant groups he had seen organize themselves in El Dorado. The same, but different. Instead of drilling, they would bring in captives, arm them, and fight them until all that remained was a bloody mess, the tendrils of the Gravemind pulling the still-warm corpses into the earth as they screamed in barbaric glee in their blood-lust. Some of the captives were thrown in the cage with Jack, for no rhyme or reason.. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the smell of living flesh brought in the attention of the undead. It was over faster than he could blink. In the midst of his blink, the earth exploded, and the Darkness rose up itself, tearing his cage apart like a straw. He remembered the many faces that covered it’s dark form, and the screams of those that had shared his cage. The dying screams. He stumbled on, his ears focusing on finding the sounds of running water, and away from the rumbling earth.Hephaestus was making his own way, Eliza thought to herself. She had gathered information about attacks that the their base had launched against the town of El Dorado. While the tactics were sound, and loss of life kept to a minimum, they were a brand of retribution that just didn’t sit right with her. The other officers looked frazzled, but everything was kept in order. Organized chaos, just waiting to erupt. She understood, things had gotten personal. Even under threat, the Hellions had proven a hard nut to crack. Between the increased Raider threat, and the recent attacks from Raiders that rode an impossibly huge alligator from the swamps of Low Town, they had kept to the base for the most part, drilling and preparing for the base for the long-promised reinforcements. The outer walls needed some work, the zed had torn through some of the fencing. They kept a watch on the militia group hired by El Dorado, but they seemed very busy at the moment, as they took the brunt of dealing with the zed pouring out of the Cloverfield. The Drive Thru, the locals called it. Every damn time she had to resort to torture someone to get information out of them, they invariably all started talking about it towards the end, their fear breaking loose and causing them to pass out, or wet themselves. Such a fucking mess, and what a hellish place. She would be glad when the next phase was well underway, after which she could move on to greener pastures. If she performed well, she might even get a command of her own. There were more Settlements getting off the ground, and most were not so hell bent against slavery. Dedstop seemed to be a interesting place to visit. The sudden backfire of the caravan that arrived reminded her of the delivery. She made a few more notes about the new artillery, and then went outside to take stock of the inventory being unloaded. The small squirrel wove its lithe body around the trunk of the dead tree. It had avoided the area for sometime, but the greenish glow had faded, and none of its kind had yet claimed the area. It chittered, and pawed at the bark that was starting to peel off. The green leaves belied the tree's true status. The wind had kicked up again. The squirrel stopped and cocked it’s head. The wind rustled through the dying leaves, and a soft sound wove itself into words, as if whispered by the wind itself. “With a new day’s light, I will take the next stage of existence”. The wind died down, the squirrel gone. The setting sun shone briefly on the still moving branches, and then faded away. Night crept upon El Dorado, as the moon cast its light over the Broken Coast once again.