Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 4), with henchman Corvus (Fighter 2)
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 5), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 1)
Chaff (Vivimancer 5), with familiar PrettyBird and riding dog PuppyWhuppyAwg Wahmn (Calmonari 3)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 5)
The next morning, the party took a few moments to bury the dead crossbowman before walking through the ash to the shallow valley the zombies had started from. There they found the remains of a campsite buried under the same grey ash. There was some suspicion that the campfire could have been responsible for the ash, but closer investigation confirmed it emanated from a smoking cinder cone on the other side looming peaks. Since no one wanted to wait around to see if the volcano erupted again, Chaff sent Pretty Bird aloft to scout the way. The parrot came back to report the river split into three streams ahead; a small fordable stream to the north-west, and a pair of roaring torrents to the north-east and east, both of which emerged from deep canyons. It looked possible to follow both larger streams by climbing the ridges above, so the party elected to cross to the right bank of the river, ford the small stream and head north-east towards the purported position of the plateau.
As the parted started to climb up the side of the gorge, Awg spied possible danger to the east. There,
coming down the ridge above the second canyon, was a covered palanquin carried by 8 human or humanoid figures. Of more interest, however, was the giant dinosaur stalking behind it. As the party watched, the great saurian beast grabbed one the figures in it's maw, and after a moment of two of gnawing, flicked the now partly dismembered body away. It repeated this three more times, while the rest of the bearers continued on, unaware and unconcerned. The dinosaur, apparently not impressed with the potential meal, stomped past the palanquin and proceeded ahead of it down the main river valley, towards the ships and the sea. There was some debate within the party whether they should try capturing this impressive dinosaur, but in the end the logistics of hauling it back to the "Purple Haze" convinced them to wait for easier/more accessible prey. There was also some discussion of going after the palanquin, but the risk of running into the massive dinosaur nixed that idea.
After an uneventful night perched above the canyon, the party continued to climb. When they crested the highest point of the ridge, they could see their goal ahead. A cliff wall, rising high into the concealing clouds, lay ahead of them. Crashing down the side was a waterfall, which appeared to be the source of the river they followed. A lightly wooded meadow slopped up to the base of the cliff. As the party headed across the valley, they passed a copse of trees on their left, between them and the river. Stumbling out of the treeline came a smaller, yet still vicious-looking dinosaur. It noticed the party, and headed away from them, limping along. The party, worried about what might follow it, ducked into the trees. As they did, however, there came crashing through the undergrowth towards them three more of the nasty creatures. The party reacted quickly, with a cloud of bolts and arrows all concentrated on one creature. Kwinsea used tidal force to push two back, and Chaff dropped a spore cloud on one, which unfortunately did not seem to have an effect. The third slashed out at Corvus with tooth and wicked hind claws, doing grievous damage to the henchman. The crossbowmen then shot down one of the tidal forced dinos, while an insect swarm from Chaff allowed the swords of Awg, Abdul, Rodrigo and Corvus to cut down the individual that chomped on Corvus before it could do further harm. At this point, the fourth 'injured' beast crashed towards them, but a last flight of arrows and bolts convinced the two survivors to turn and run.
The party let them go, then proceeded to butcher the fallen to retrieve an impressive collection of teeth and claws. They then continued up the meadow until they reached the base of the waterfall. It ended in a deep pool of water, from which the river emerged. A quick scout around the base of the waterfall revealed no obvious way up, so Awg dove into the pool to look for a passage behind the falls (but to no avail). With the sun dipping low, they set up camp for the night. Next morning, the scouting continued. Chaff sent Pretty Bird up the cliff to scout again. The familiar returned a few hours later to report no signs of a way up the wall. At the top was a grassy plateau, cooler than it was down below. A web of streams crossed the flat surface of the plateau, and in the centre rose a volcanic cone; quite tall with snow and ice at the top. Hoping to find a way up, the party broke camp and marched east around the base of the plateau. There was a short fight with some tiny carnivorous dinosaurs chasing rats, which ended much as the previous days' fight; skillful use of tidal force and two dead dinos. These didn't provide nearly as many interesting trophies though.
Shortly after mid-day, they spied ahead of them a rope bridge. It started on the opposite side of the raging river, and arched overhead before disappearing into the thin cloud that surrounded the top of the plateau. So the party had to get across the river somehow, unless they wanted to backtrack a few days march to the raft. In the end, they used Corvus' ring of water walking, ferried back and forth by Pretty Bird, to get everyone to the other side. While waiting for everyone to cross, Abdul took the time to look around. There was a faint path running along the edge of the river to the east and west of the bridge, obviously man-made but not heavily traveled. He did see faint signs of recent travel; perhaps the palanquin?
After another night in camp, the party arose and tackled the bridge. It was in remarkably good shape considering it was apparently little used. They crossed without incident, and found themselves on the plateau. It was cooler, just as Pretty Bird described. Moving towards the volcanic cone, the party crossed several streams that seemed to merge before tumbling over the edge as the waterfall. Reaching the base of the vlocano, they once more encountered a jagged cliff wall with no obvious way over it. Grumbling, the party spent the day circumnavigating the cone, looking for a way up. By the time they got back to the start, they'd found nothing of interest except for a pair of mastodons in the distance. Chaff then summoned the ebony fly, and Rodrigo volunteered to fly into the volcano to see what there was to see. After a chilly flight, the swashbuckler descended into the unknown. There he found a lake filling most of the crater. On the near edge was a small village of thatched huts, while in the lake itself there was an island covered in ruins. Most of it was just tumbled stone, but on the side facing the village was a temple or similar structure carved into a rock face, with a wide series of steps leading into the side of the hill. There were several canoes at the base of the steps, and more on the beach by the village itself. Rodrigo then buzzed the village, sending women and children running for cover, while the warriors formed up between the huts and hurled spears at him and the fly (all of which fell short). The warriors then proceeded to shout and jump and wave their arms at Rodrigo as he banked away and flew back over the ridge to return to the rest of the party ...
2 raptor-like dinosaurs
2 small carnivorous dinosaurs
2 small carnivorous dinosaurs