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 PuppyWhuppyAug Wahmn (Calmonari 3)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Abdul el Abdul (Fighter 4)
Before making a decision on future plans, the first order of business for the party was to sort through the treasure and split up the 'kool loot'. In particular, the pirate cutlass was revealed as magic by Chaff's Kalandrian sight. After some discussion, it was decided that Awg should have the weapon, since his/her only enchanted weapon was the cursed scimitar. The calmonari was surprised, however, when he/she picked up the cutlass and immediately found himself/herself struggling mentally for control of the weapon. It was a sentient sword, inhabited by some gruff buccaneer's spirit. It did grace Awg with the ability to detect metals and levitate, but the calmonari could feel he/she was just barely holding its' will under his/her control.
Raising sail on both the "Purple Haze" and "Loreman's Passage" (with Corvus and Rodrigo aboard) they headed out to sea. They were still within sight of the island when the dragon's head broke the surface alongside them. Awg, using aquatic telepathy, sensed the greed in the beast once more. The dragon brought it's head down to deck level, and started to sniff the piles of treasure there. It then proceeded to sniff out the rest of the ship, and the "Loreman's Passage". When done, it returned to the "Purple Haze"; Kwinsea cast speak with aquatic animals and started to negotiate. On behalf of the party, she offered half the treasure. The dragon, after a moment of indecision, accepted, and gestured that it should simply be dumped overboard. As the rest of the party took care of the coinage, Awg decided to rid himself of the cursed scimitar and tossed it into the sea as well. With the transfer complete, Kwinsea asked if there were any other land-treasures they could help it recover. The dragon indicated no, so they prepared to depart. Before doing so, Kwinsea told the dragon about the pirate captain's escape. Awg immediately got a sense of rage, and when pointed in he right direction, the dragon immediately dove and swam off in search of it's foe, leaving the two ships in it's wake.
It took only a day to get back to the Isle of Dread, and to the main village of Tanaroa. It lay on an isthmus, separating the inhabited lower peninsula from the monster infested bulk of the island. A massive stone wall, 50' high, stretched across the isthmus. The village itself lay south of the wall, and consisted of four sets of huts, fields and graveyards, surrounding an earth mound topped by a truncated pyramid. The party, let by the freed captives, was meet by wary crowds. On top of the pyramid stood the village chief (a wizened old woman by the name of J'kai) and the war chief (a massive, scarred warrior named Bakora). In halting Common, J'kai thanked the party and offered the hospitality of the village in payment. The party, however, was more interested in information on the Isle of Dread. J'kai noted the villagers rarely went north of the wall, and then only a few days journey to the tar pits, to gather material for waterproofing and to fill the defensive pits of burning pitch behind the wall. The wall itself was obviously well beyond the technological ability of the natives to build (as were the numerous statues scattered about the village). J'kai stated it has been built by the gods, who once dwelt in a magnificent city on the plateau in the centre of the isle. Now the village relied on it to defend them from the terrible creatures (flying lizards, dinosaurs, cat people, etc) and cannibals north of the wall. She could tell them little about the rest of the island, and when asked, indicated the coast was much like the party had already seen; mountain, swamp and jungle with few good landing places. She did tell them of a great river that flowed out of the centre of the isle, and the party latched onto that as better way to access the interior than slogging through impassible terrain on foot. It also seemed to be a more direct way to the fabled city, so they put dinosaur hunting aside for the moment to search for another ruined city to loot.
The first day passed uneventfully, at least until the sun began to dip below the western peaks. The river passed close to a talus slope on one of the mountain flanks, at the top of which were a number of cave openings. From which could be heard the sound of bestial roaring. The party decided to stop and explore, spreading out along the slope and climbing up to the caves. They reached to top of the talus, and then had to proceed single file along the edge to approach the caves. As they did so, a smallish cave bear emerged from behind a pile of boulders. It fell upon Abdul el Abdul at the head of the line, slashing with claws and snapping with it's powerful jaws. The crossbowman just behind the fighter spread out down the slope to get in position to engage, while Jaz noted two more bears ambling out of the darkness of the cave, towards the rest of the party. While Abdul and the crossbowman dealt with the first bear, the other two were assailed by a sleep spell from Jaz (no effect), insect swarm from Chaff (which summoned a swarm of biting insects to harass one bear) and tidal force from Kwinsea (which pushed both back into the cave). By this time Abdul and the crossbowman had taken down the first bear, and now joined by Rodrigo and Corvus, turned their blades on the other two bruins, These two were likewise quickly slaughtered, and the party proceeded to explore the caves. These were empty except for bones and scat, and the party decided it would be better to spend the night on the raft.
Next morning after a breakfast of bear bacon, the party headed upriver again. Again it was uneventful until evening, when they reached the point where the river was too rapid and shallow to continue on the raft. They pulled their transportation up on an ash covered bank, said ash field stretching right up onto the mountain slope above them. And in a hanging valley on that slope was a group of ash covered people, sitting in a circle. That made everyone nervous, so Abdul el Abdul ordered the crossbowmen to fire a volley. Several bolts hit, raising a cloud of dust from the figures. And caused the figures to now rise themselves and start shambling down the slope. The party formed a firing line, and started laying down a barrage of arrows, bolts, sling stones, pistol shots and laser beams. The figures just kept coming, but some just started to fall to the missile swarm just as they reached the party. Who them proceeded to slash them down, while Chaff entangled some in a gooey mass of web and Rodrigo used his simian sword to summon a trio of baboons out of the hills to tear into the rear of the ash zombies. One of their crossbowman fell, but before too much longer all of the ashy attackers were down. Examining the bodies, they found they were natives of some sort, wearing tall black wooden masks. And obviously now undead, although it was not clear what if any role the ash played in that circumstances. But all the same, the party once more decided to anchor the raft in midstream to spend the night before proceeding on foot in the morning.
3 cave bears
17 ash zombies
17 ash zombies
1 mercenary crossbowman