Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Far Isles Session # 85 - Spire of Iron and Crystal

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

Before proceeding any further, the party had additional questions for Korun the Creekman. First of all, they had him sketch out a map of the Coral Cays.  The blue man complied, and was able to give a fairly detailed chart of the closest islands. The lair of his former wereshark employer was nearby, so Korun knew this area well. He pointed out Dusek's island, as well as the location of one of the Amazon tribes with whom they'd crossed spears. He was also able to point out in a more general sense the location of the Blue Amazons, a weird long persistent storm, a variety of ruins and a general sense of where to find other islands. He was oddly evasive about where to find the Creekmen, giving a general and vague location with no details. When asked where they might find more information on Empyrius, Korun suggested the Creekmen elders had a great store of old tales that might help. So in the end, the party headed up the island chain towards the purported location of the Creekman villages. 

Blue Amazon
Fighting contrary winds once again, they didn't make it too far before having to drop anchor for the night. Scanning the horizon in the failing light, Torak noted some activity several hundred yards off the bow. He first called up Awg for a look, then the rest of the party. Rodrigo scurried up to the crows nest with his spyglass, and spotted a trio of blue-skinned women, riding dolphins and driving a pack of sharks away at spear point. They moved off, not noticing or paying attention to the ship, until the sharks finally gave up and swam away. The dolphin riders then turned to the north-west, and likewise dove and disappeared. When this excitement was over, Kwinsea decided to summon an aquatic creature and then speak to it in an attempt to learn more about the isles. A large sea turtle responded to her summons, and ponderously answered her questions. The aqumancer learned the storm isle had been that way forever; there was a city of underwater humans or humanoids somewhere to their west; and that if they wanted 'shiny' things, they should seek out the stone ruins of the 'turtle-men' and collect the fragments of their shells. All of which was interesting, but not of immediate use for finding Empyrius. 

Next day opened with a pod of giant great white sharks approaching the ship. Rodrigo, on watch, had the musketeers roused and put to work driving them off. Amidst great grumbling and complaining, the ships' guards fired a volley, striking one of the beasts. That was enough to scare them off, the two non-wounded animals nipping at their bleeding colleague as they swam away. The musketeers went back to their hammocks, the sailors arose, and the "No Man's Sea" sailed forth again. The wind had shifted to the north-east so they made better time over the next few days. They sailed past a beach with stone turtle-man ruins, then past the scary elemental storm island, before cutting south-west around the Blue Amazon islands towards the Creekmen. Along the way, Chaff plied Korun with liquor to find out why he was so evasive about the Creekmen. In the end, there was nothing sinister to learn. With so many enemies in the Cays, the Creekmen were just very wary of giving away any information on their hidden villages or their way of life. Korun had no intention of showing the party the location of the villages; he expected them to drop him off-shore and he'd head home alone. And bring back an elder or two to talk later on.  When the vivimancer passed this along to the rest of the party, there was some conniving thought put to tracking their guide. But in the end, they decided to trust the blue man to return. So when they finally dropped anchor off the massive mangrove swamp of an island to which Korun had directed them, they let him take the ships boats into the creeks, hoping he'd return. And then they waited. In the meantime, Awg went looking for 'pretties' to bring back to H'sslik if they ever happened back that way again. The calmonari was rewarded with a pretty purple fish he'd never seen before, which went right into one of their holding tanks. Kwinsea also took the time to summon once more, this time getting a visit from a trio of swordfish.  She pumped them for information on the Creekmen, but the saltwater fish could tell her little about the land-dwellers. 

In the end, their trust in mankind was rewarded when Korun returned a couple days later with a boat-full of Creekmen. The party let them aboard the "No Man's Sea", and threw a great feast to impress their guests. And afterwards listened the the accompanying elder (Talos) spin tales of the past deeds of the Creekmen and their Terocolid forebearers.  It would seem the Terroclids were a very militaristic people, divided into many petty and warring island-states under the nominal rule of a High Tyrant. Each petty kingdom had it's own "God Who Walked Among Men", providing counsel and assiting those in power. And in return were worshiped and supported by their human followers. Empyrius was a"God" of a state at the northern edge of the island chain, but exactly where Talos couldn't say. The party asked Talos what had caused the fall of the Terocolids, and were told the women-folk (who it seemed had been treated as little better than chattel-slaves)  has risen up under a leader by the name of Damarius the Liberator and destroyed them all. The Amazons were the descendants of those women. Asked about other places they might learn more, Talos directed them to the fallen remnants of the Terocolids. In particular, there was a ruined temple ofrsomething on nearby high cliff. He also told them of a weird structure, consisting of four giant crystal eggs in an iron lattice. It had stood on a low limestone ridge on a nearby cay as long as anyone could remember. But none had ever gotten inside as there was no obvious entrance. 

The feast over and day getting short, the Creekmen prepared to leave. Chaff asked how they'd get back to their village, since they weren't keeping the ships boat. Korun grinned, then whistled loudly. Out of the nearby creeks came a small flotilla of Creekmen. It seems the Creekmen didn't fully trust the party and kept a ace up their sleeves. But they left without incident, leaving the party to decide what to do next. It came down to heading north to wander about looking for Empyrius. Or hitting one of the locations Talos reveled, looking for answers and maybe some loot. In the end, loot prevailed, and the party decided the eggs sounded like the most likely place to find cool stuff. As they headed there, they passed bu the other ruins as well. It was difficult to see as there was a heavy rain and mist, but they were surprised to see a beam of moving light on the headland near the ruins. 

Spire of Iron and Crystal
They pushed on however, reaching the eggs later in the day. Chaff summoned the fly and took off on patrol. From overhead there were a couple of possible entrances. At the topmost point of the topmost egg, there was a narrow opening apparently leading inside. On the second egg down was a small balcony, hidden from view below by the ironwork. There was no door to be seen, but maybe something could be discovered on closer inspection. Chaff buzzed down to pick up Kwinsea and dropped her on the balcony to search; but the aquamancer could find nothing. So through the hole it was. Chaff ferried everyone up to the top, one by one, then lowered them down the tube on a rope tied to one of the fly's legs. Torak went down first, squeezing down the steep, narrow passage.  As he did, the cleric was shocked to find the upper part of the egg filled with mist and lightning. Thankfully not hurting him. Below he could see  a maze of rooms, all of which appeared open at the top, but detail was sparse due to the obscuring light and cloud. He safely made it to the bottom, landing in an octagonal room. The walls were made of a smokey quartz-like substance, and in three walls were doors made of a similar but darker material. Overhead was nothing but mist and crashing lightning, and the air had a definite electrical smell. Underfoot was a small hole in the floor, covered by a grate and with a fan whirling inside. Close inspection revealed a series of small tubes which were collecting some sort of fluid from the air and draining it to parts unknown below.

The rest of the party joined Torak, leaving the fly hovering overhead. They then headed out to explore, starting with the northern door.  This room was essentially empty, except for a hidden pit trap (which Chaff fell into) and strange symbols carved into the quartz walls (which the mages identified as being elemental in nature). They pushed on to the next room, finding a large set of cranks and gears on the north wall. While there was some trepidation about messing with it, Awg boldly strode forward and  put the mechanism in motion. And found that as he/she worked it, the lighting overhead started to die down, until it stopped completely, plunging the party into darkness ...

TOTAL XP
850 (exploration XP)

GAINS
Some Knowledge

KILLS
None

LOSSES
None

Monday, April 30, 2018

Far Isles Session # 84 - Goodbye, Land of the Silver Lotus; Coral Cays, Ho!

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Wilhelm (Musketeer 2)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

Whether related to the power of the stone circle or not, Awg felt a sudden urge to begin the annual calmonari molting cycle. He/she begged Chaff for the use of the fly to get back to the sea for a few days to go through the process. The little vivmancer grudgingly let him borrow the magic item, which some time latter returned with Torak in tow. The cleric then joined his comrades in trying to decipher the riddle of the stones. The party pitched a variety of other flora and fauna into the bare patch of dirt; the flora withered and died, while the fauna fled. Chaff then dug around inside the patch, finding a variety of exceedingly old bone fragments. Torak, examining the dark stains on the rock, suddenly whipped out his dagger and sliced open his hand, dripping his blood over the tentacle stone. That provoked a response, as a mist started to rise from the ground, gradually coalescing into the faint image of tentacles. This didn't last, however, and the mirage faded as quickly as it appeared. The cleric tried the same with the circle and dagger stones, with similar tentacled results. Discussing it with his companions, the cleric figured a greater sacrifice was needed to unlock the power of the stones. No one seemed willing the volunteer, so the party decided to camp for the night (some distance away from the stones, of course). 

Next morning, they headed back to the ruined city to explore a few of the other more intact parts of the ruins. They bypassed the main gate with its vine-dangling skeletons, and headed for the curved wall of some decayed arena or amphitheater Chaff had seen in his earlier aerial reconnaissance. The wall looked to be barely standing, liable to fall over at any point. The party kept away from the base, at least until the sharp eyed Kwinsea spied a booted foot sticking out from behind a pile of stones. Approaching cautiously, the party found the remains of a campsite with seven bodies scattered about. They were all horribly mangled, in the advanced stages of decay, and obviously dead for months at least. They were not dressed as natives, and several had the weirdly blue-tinged skin of the abandoned swamp pygmy's prisoner.  Everyone started to root around, finding mainly a variety of rotting and rusted gear. They did luck out with a little treasure, all in unfamiliar coinage. There was also  an oilskin satchel, inside which they found a crude book. It looked to be stitched together from a variety of scraps of paper, pages from other volumes, and so on. By luck Chaff was able to read the writing, it being similar to a language he'd encountered in past days of researching forbidden ancient lore. It was a travel log of sorts, telling of a voyage from some land a week or so to the north. The dead party (presumably) had traveled here in a small sailing boat, but ended up wrecked on the reefs at the eastern edges of the Isles of the Silver Lotus. After a brief time at the village of Barana as guests of King Tiku, they'd heard stories of the lost city and the Forbidden Mountain, and had made their way there to find fame and fortune. At that point the narrative ended. 

Chaff then started flipping through the backs of the pages and found something of greater interest to the party; mention of Empyrius! A half page of text talked of Empyrius (and other 'Adonians') as gods who walked among men, who had taught men the arts and sciences to raise the great realm of the warrior Terocolids. And frustratingly, that was about it. However, the fact that it was written in the same language as the travel journal gave them a hint. Looks like the party was going to be heading north! Kwinsea, referring to her maps,  then noted that that direction and distance would put them to generally the same area as shown on the map taken from Ondry the wereshark. At least they knew one possible danger. 

Before heading out on the high seas again however, the party had a few other stops to make. First, Torak animated a half dozen of the fallen travelers as his new skeletal legion. Then, everyone trudged back to the mausoleum. After a little more fruitless poking about, they tried their nuclear option: summoning the instant fortress to crush the structure. To their surprise, the fortress simply toppled over, causing nary a scratch to the mausoleum. Frustrated with the lack of success, the party rested for the night in the ruin, then headed back to the waterfall and subsequently the "No Man's Sea". The crew of which were not happy to have Torak's new friends on board. It took some convincing, and a promise that the skeletons would take over scrubbing the deck, before the crew grudgingly accepted their new undead mates. Meanwhile, while the crew got the "No Man's Sea' ready to sail, Kwinsea and Torak (as a shark thanks to the shark spear) went searching for more treasure at the base of the waterfall. It was slim pickings, and nearly fatal for Kwinsea. The pair rather easily fought off a ghostly underwater apparition, but Kwinsea ended up disturbing a massive octopus that nearly flayed the skin from her bones. A well timed bite from Torak-shark scared the thing away, and Kwnisea decided she's had enough of diving for trinkets.   

At a council of war, the party decided their best bet going forward in search of Empyrius would be to have a guide. So plans were hatched to return to the swamp pygmy village and rescue Korun the blue-man, under the assumption he hailed from the same place as the ex-adventuring party who were now scrubbing the ship. And their plan was pretty much the same as before; Chaff and the fly would go in while invisible and snatch the captive. Now that they knew the village layout, the vivimancer hoped to avoid attack by dropping straight down on the prison island and getting out before anyone noticed anything. To help, Torak agreed to send his skeletal hoard to attack over land and draw the attention of the swamp pygmies. And the heist went off without a hitch. The skeletons pulled away any potential opposition, Chaff dropped down on the prison island, and Korun was overjoyed to actually be rescued this time as Chaff had promised weeks ago. With all due haste, Chaff, Korun and the fly returned to the "No Man's Sea".

After giving the near-skeletal Korun some time to eat and drink, the party got down to interrogating the agyria-tinged fellow. He confirmed the general story given in the journal. Korun referred to himself (and his companions) as 'Creekmen', which the party interpreted as some sort of buccaneer/maroon. They came from a group of isles known as the Coral Islands or Cays. Once home to the mighty militaristic kingdoms of the Terocolids, the Cays now contained nothing but remnants of empire and scattered warring communities.  The Creekmen were a brotherhood opposed the the Amazon tribes who held most of the power in the Cays. In fact, those Creekmen like Korun who exhibited blue skin  were male offspring of the amphibious Blue Amazons, held as slaves with their gills surgically removed to prevent escape.  There was at least one other Amazon tribe as well, but Korun couldn't provide much information on them. He also noted the Creekmen often served various weresharks as boat crew and hired muscle. He and his fellow travelers had been in the service of one wereshark named Dusek, but had decided to go AWOL on the mercurial creature and take their chances on the rumored new lands that appeared after the mist lifted. When asked about Empyrius and the Adonians, he admitted the names were familiar, but more as legendary figures rather than 'people he knew'. So the party had a better idea of where to search for Empyrius, but weren't yet home free.

With that information in hand, Lynessa raised sail on the "No Man's Sea" and headed to the north-east towards the Coral Cays. Sis days sail brought them within sight of a small island, notable for the huge statue of a man standing on a promontory at the southern end. And further in the distance were signs of more islands to explore ...

TOTAL XP
2700*

GAINS
800gp of exotic coins
100gp worth of various golden grave goods (rings, bangles, chains, etc)
Korun the Creekman

KILLS
1 Sea Wraith

LOSSES
None 

* 2xp/gp house rule in effect

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Far Isles Session #83 - Looking for a Way In

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Wilhelm (Musketeer 2)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

First of all, Kwinsea made ues of the stole of the sacred to cast a cure disease on Rodrigo, hoping that would bring the swashbuckler back from the beyond. Although it seemed to clear up the festering rot, it did not bring him back from the dead. So ignoring the dead for the moment, attention now turned to the sealed box recovered from the desk. To decipher the writing on the wax seals, Torak cast a read languages on the box. The strange glyphs referred to "forbidden materials, heretical and blasphemous to the god of the dead". Well, if the god of the dead didn't like, it must be good, right?  Just to be sure, Torak cast augury and learned that opening the box would bring good results. With that, Chaff grabbed the box, sat on the floor resting against Rodrigo's body, and cracked open seals. Inside the vivimancer found a scroll and four small flasks. He unrolled the scroll, but it was full of theological mumbo-jumbo that made no sense to him. He passed it over the Torak, who confirmed that it was a scroll of clerical spells; specifically, restoration, raise dead, and remove curse. The vials, thanks to a casting of kalandrian sight,   proved to be some sort of healing magic. Potions of healing, as Awg learned when he quaffed one to deal with some remaining hurt from the previous day.

Awg's New Friends
After some discussion, the party decided to bring Rodrigo back from the grave, and then shuffle him and the treasures recovered thus far back to the "No Man's Sea" via the ebony fly. The party then used the fly to transship everyone back up to the top of the plateau to investigate the ruined city. This included the musketeer sergeant Wilhelm, who was enticed with a promise of a pay bonus and a crate of mustache wax, to come ashore and provide some muscle in place of the recovering Rodrigo. Meanwhile, the aquatic duo Kwinsea and Awg headed into the sea at the base of the falls, figuring there might be treasure there from a millennia of jewelry decorated dead. After much searching, they did recover some scattered gold; but also attracted the attention of a shiver of mako sharks. Kwinsea immediately headed for the fly, which Chaff had left hovering just overhead. Once there, she started to throw things in the water and shout to distract the sharks from Awg, who figured he/she could make it to a nearby rock and escape. She did draw away three of the creatures, but the other two chased the calmonari. Awg suffered a few massive bites before he was able to scramble up the slippery rock. From there the calmonari used  his/her sword to levitate  up to the plateau, pulled over to land thanks to a tow rope from the fly.  

Flying Guardian
Scouting ahead on the fly, Chaff buzzed along the edge of the ruins the party had spotted on their previous foray to the plateau. The ruins were roughly circular and about a half mile across. And ruined they were; there was little left standing except an occasional wall or pile of stones covered in vines and jungle growth. Except near the centre, where an immaculate dome-topped mausoleum lay. It had stood the test of time without a crack or blemish, and no vegetation covered it's walls. The mausoleum was most easily approached via  a large ruined plaza and pillared processional way. Chaff flew back and reported his findings, and the party hacked and slashed their way through the thick growth, headed for the building. They reached the ruins without incident, made their wall through gaps in the ruined city wall (the main city gate being on the opposite side). They threaded through the tumbled stone of the city to the plaza, and then started up the processional way.  Several pillars had fallen, but most still stood erect. And then they noticed atop one of the 30' high columns was a crouching figure. From this distance it looked like one of the faceless demons on the pillars in the cultist caves. This one, however, seemed alive! As the party got closer to the mausoleum, it lept off the pillar and spread wings, aiming towards the party. While Wilhelm braced his musket to line up a shot, Chaff and Kwinsea cast defensive magics, and Awg made a run for the mausoleum door. That attracted the attention of the flying guardian, which pivoted in mid flight and dropped on the calmonari in a flurry of claws and horns.  Awg suffered more grievous wounds before he and the party managed to defeat the monstrosity thanks to Chaff dropping a web on it (and incidentally, Wilhelm too). 

After cutting Wilhelm free, the party continued on to the mausoleum. It was a relatively plain, square building with a dome and low parapet on the top. The door was a solid stone slab with no apparent handle or keyhole. There were no distinguishing features apart from the eerily excellent condition. And a set of small holes above the door lintel, each about an inch across. Just about the size of a gem to be exact. To get the door open, the party tried inserting a variety of gems they had on hand, in various combinations of color and order. But nothing happened. Awg then tried the simple expedient of pushing on the door; it didn't budge. Wilhelm impatiently walked up to the door and shoved the blade of his pole-arm in between the door and frame to try prying it open. That finally got a response, but not the one they'd hoped. A prismatic wall suddenly appeared as Wilhelm stumbled back from the door. It enclosed the entire structure, and after a bit of experimentation with a thrown stone, seemed to block all access to the mausoleum. It remained for 10-15 minutes and then disappeared as suddenly as it came. 

Stymied by the door, the party decided to look elsewhere for a way into the building. Heading east, they came across a large well in the centre of another ruined plaza. It was overgrown with vines, but when the opening was cleared and the party peered inside, no water could be seen. Dropping a stone down the well indicated if there was water, it was way below. So Chaff hopped on the fly and volunteered to buzz down the wide well to see where it went.  The well opened into a cavern, at the narrow bottom of which was a rushing river. After about 50' it disappeared beneath a solid rock wall. Following it upstream led into a very familiar place; the wide cavern that opened onto the jungle from the death cult caves. Chaff flew back up to the party, and they decided to head back down into the caves. Perhaps they missed a secret door or other way up into the mausoleum from below? It was getting late, so the party bedded down in the high priests study again to rest for the night. Before they did that, Awg wanted to learn more about the things hanging from the large entrance cavern ceiling. As full darkness fell outside, he noted the things start to leave the ceiling and fly out of the entrance. They were some sort of monstrous bat creature. Several of them located the calmonari, and swooped down to attack. Awg received one bite, then fled deeper into the caves and back to the high priests' chamber with the rest of the crew. 

After a good nights sleep, the party awoke to search around some more. They focused their attention on the smooth wall in the adjacent chamber with the hologram-like image. They examined the pictured scene closely, figuring it might give them a clue as to how the bodies came down to the caverns from the city above. It looked like they were carried down the jungle trail that entered the cavern with the bat-creatures.  So much for a secret body-transfer path. They also poked and prodded at the image itself, hoping it was itself a secret or magical passage. But to no avail. Getting frustrated, the next course of action was the explore that jungle trail. The party followed it as it slowly descended the mountainside, passing another much fainter path on the right before coming to a stone archway across the trail. Ever paranoid, Kwinsea approached cautiously to examine it for traps. As she got closer though, the aquamancer noticed the archway was filled with near-invisible webs. And lurking in the shadows at the top she also observed a large spider. Not willing to take any chances, she quaffed a vial of anti-poison and then blasted the eight-legged monster into a smoking ruin with a lightning bolt. 

Standing Stone
Passing through the arch, they soon came to another branch in the trail. One led to the right, and following it for a while seemed to indicate it was headed south towards the village of  Barana. Backtracking, they headed up the other triail, and after a few hours slog found themselves back on the  top of the Forbidden Mountain, this time facing the cities' ruined gatehouse. Well, that left the faint side-trail. Backtracking again, they found this last trail led somewhere different. It opened into a small clearing, in the centre of which stood 3 tall, rust-red standing stones. Each stone had a symbol carved in it at about eye height; one was a dagger, the other a round circle, and the third a tentacle. Oddly enough, given the verdant planet-life everywhere else, nothing grew inside the triangle bounded by the stones. They also noted the complete lack of any jungle sounds; all the skittering, chirping and buzzing had stopped. Chaff plucked a branch off a nearby tree, and tossed it inside the stones. Nothing happened for a minute or two, but the leaves then started to wither and decay until very soon nothing was left by a dry brown husk. Awg cautiously inserted his/her hand over the 'dead zone', getting a weird feeling but otherwise not harmed. The calmonari then boldly stepped inside the stones. Once more there was that weird other worldly feeling, and he/she noted his companions had a slighly out of focus look to them. But otherwise there was no apparent effect. Chaff then stepped inside the circle to examine the inside face of the stones. They proved to be carved with the same symbols as the outside. Curious ... 

TOTAL XP
1380*

GAINS
200gp worth of various golden grave goods (rings, bangles, chains, etc)
Clerical Scroll - Raise Dead, Remove Curse, Restoration 
Potion of Healing x4

KILLS
1 Winged Guardian
1 Black Widow Spider

LOSSES
None 

* 2xp/gp house rule in effect

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Far Isles Session #82 - Rot and Ruin

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

After first searching once more (with no avail)  through the room guarded by the skeletal snake-thing, the party turned about and headed north through the only unexplored passage. Rodrigo, walking point, took the ring of invisibility from Torak and scouted ahead. He found the winding passage entered a large cavern. The space had been partly worked, with one smooth wall off to the side and a series of pillars running down the centre. Squatting atop the pillars were some sort of humanoid shapes, but Rodrigo could not see details. On the far side of those pillars, lit by the faint glow of a pair of braziers, was a table surrounded by a dozen hooded figures. They all stood facing the table, generally motionless. Rodrigo could not see what if anything was on the table, so he retreated back to the party and passed the ring to Awg. The calmonari then headed for the cavern, levitated, and hand-walked the ceiling over to the table. The figures on the pillars proved to be faceless, twisted, and demonic looking. But they did not interfere with Awg as he passed. As for the table, there was nothing of note, but there were a couple of baskets full of gold jewelry sitting on the floor behind the table. He/she returned to the party with that information, and was then sent back to act as bait. Everyone was pretty sure these were some sort of undead, so the plan was to lure them into the narrow passage where a combination of magic and tight melee quarters could take them down with a minimum of risk. Awg took off the ring and headed back to the room, making enough noise to attract the attention of the robed figures. They all turned and started towards the calmonari, but  not before several reached into the baskets to scoop up some jewelry.  The jewelry bearers walked forward, holding out the treasure as if in offering or something. Awg didn't stick around to find out what was going on, but retreated to join Rodrigo to block the tunnel in front of the magic-slingers. Kwinsea fired off a lighting bolt which took out about half of the undead, while Torak and Chaff added their defensive spell support. That left Rodrigo and Awg to slash away. Oddly enough, the jewelry bearing creatures didn't make any moves to attack, but instead tried to clasp chains and bangles on the two. Their touch alone, however, was deadly and both the melee fighters found themselves cursed with some sort of scabrous rotting disease before they manged to finished off all the attackers.

Torak took a sniff and declared both Rodrigo and Awg were badly infected but not infectious; but alas there was nothing he could do right now to help.  So the party pushed forward into the now deserted chamber to look and loot. Awg went over to grab the jewelry baskets, while Torak cast detect magic to see if anything in the room was of interest or concern. The cleric found neither,  and joined the rest of the party who were staring at an image seemingly in 3D and behind that smoothly polished wall. It showed  robed priests preparing the dead for funeral rights, decorating the bodies with jewelry, and then carrying them down the stairs and casting them into the river. Well that probably explained what was going on earlier.

Having finished with this room, the party moved on and out a passage in the eastern wall. It lead to a long tunnel with a set of descending stairs, which gradually curved towards the south. Rodrigo once more scouted forward invisibly, and found that the stair ended in a small chamber, out of which a second passage continued east. Facing the east passage was another of the robed figures. Once more the swashbuckler retreated, and once more another party member was sent ahead to deal with the room. This time it was Chaff, who shuffled down the stairs with his wheel-lock at the ready. Alas his shot went wild, and the little vivimancer scuttled back up the stairs as the figure turned to face him. There was no pursuit, so once more the whole party surged forward to deal with the obstacle.  As the party entered the room, the figure raised it's hands and motioned for them to go back. It also started nattering in some weird language, which the party interpreted as 'go back'. In fact, the creature reached out, grabbed Awg by the shoulder, and tried to turn him back into the passage,  causing a second outbreak of the skin rotting disease on the calmonari.  No one was going anywhere though, and Kwinsea, Rodrigo and Torak dog-piled the thing and soon had it chopped to pieces.

The party then pushed on through the eastern passage, emerging into a large cavern, well lit as it opened onto sunlight. There was a small pond; into it flowed one river, while two rivers flowed out. One of those rivers was the one the party had been following since leaving the waterfall. The pool could be crossed by stepping stones, leading beneath an overhung ledge that looked down onto the hills and jungle below. A trail led down into the jungle, and based on their height above the tree-tops, the party estimated they were only a few hundred feet below the top of the Forbidden Mountain.

But they didn't head into the daylight just yet, instead backtracking to check out one exit they'd bypassed in the pillared room. This led to another chamber, this one furnished as an office or study. Seated at the desk was another robed figure, which rose and advanced with seemingly hostile intent right away. Torak tried to turn the foul abomination, but the figure laughed off the power of the Drowned God. It reached out and struck Kwinsea, who immediately felt the grip of the rotting disease. Which made her mad, and the aquamancer surged forward to stab repeatedly at the thing with her trident. She was joined by the rest of the party, and the creature soon fell to their blades. Chaff plucked a snake-skull headed ebony staff from the remains, while the rest of the party fanned out to search the room. There was little of interest except for the desk. And of the desk, it was the locked drawer that stood out. The party went back to riffle  the body on the floor for a key, which they were able to find. It fit the lock, and with two clicks, the drawer popped open.  Inside was an ebony box, sealed shut with crimson wax inscribed with indecipherable writing. Awg picked it up and shook it, noting there was nothing that sounded like gems rattling around inside. It was actually quite light, indicating the box was empty, or at best contained paper or belly button lint. 

No one felt like taking a chance and opening it right away. With three infected (and increasing putrid) party members, they decided to bed down in this chamber for the night so Torak could call on Brall in the morning to cure at least two of his companions. Alas, in the morning there were only two to treat, as Rodrigo had succumbed to the infection in his sleep.

TOTAL XP
3685*

GAINS
1200gp worth of various golden grave goods (rings, bangles, chains, etc)
Skull staff

KILLS
13 Undead Cultists (Huecuva)
1 Undead Cultist High-priest

LOSSES
Rodrigo 

* 2xp/gp house rule in effect

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Far Isles Session # 81 - How Do You Solve a Problem Like Awg Wahmn?**

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes

The party had Lynessa pull the "No Man's Sea" offshore, and then held a council of war to decide their next course of action. Although the chances of learning anything about their ultimate goal (the location of Empyrius) seemed slim, the elected to head for the Forbidden Mountain anyway. They might learn something of interest, or at least gather some loot. And, with Awg out of earshot, they laid plans to deal with the newly megalomaniacal calmonari before they stumbled upon more of the rainbow gems and things got worst. As it was, Awg under the control of the gems was already nearly insufferable. And no one wanted to risk a fight if someone caught a glimpse of the cursed things. 

After a few hours sail, the "No Man's Sea" set anchor at the base of the 1000' waterfall that thundered off the mountain and into the sea.  Hampered by the reef which prevented close approach, the party decided the easiest way up would be to ride the ebony fly. Rodrigo borrowed the ring if invisibility from Torak and the instant fortress from Chaff and volunteered to be the first man on the beach. Once at the top, the swashbuckler summoned the instant fortress, set up camp on the roof and sent the fly back for the rest of the party. One interesting point everyone noted during their ascent; the waterfall did not come off the top of the plateau, but emerged from a pair of cave mouths a few hundred feet below the summit. Once everyone made it to the top, the gathered on the roof of the fortress and passed around the spyglass to size up the lay of the land. The plateau was covered in vegetation, but more short trees, low bushes, creepers and vines than the towering jungle below. They also noted some ruins to the east; on a low rise stood a largely intact building, square with a domed roof. Scattered around it were pillars, tumbled walls and other remnants of what appeared to be a long ruined city of significant size. 

Cave of Bones
While the ruins were tempting, they party decided to take the fly back down to the cave mouth and see if they could follow the river. They deduced that it might lead them to a point somewhere below the ruins. Once more, the party flew, one by one, down and into the cave mouth, led by Rodrigo still wearing the ring of invisibility. Inside the entrance was a cave, filled mostly with the cold and rushing waters of the river. There were two patches of dry floor, one on either side of the river, each covered in human bones. There was also a narrow path that followed along the river and deeper into the mountain. When Awg arrived, there seemed to be a disturbance of some sort in the cave. A mist or cloud arose from the scattered bones, which dissipated in a few seconds. Nonplussed, the calmonari then spent time examining the bones. Looking closer, he/she discovered no signs of violent death among the remains. But did discover a scattering of gold jewelry among the detritus of death. As the rest of the party gathered in the cave, Awg focused on picking through the bones and collecting the treasure.  

Which let the rest of the party put their dastardly plan in place. While Awg was distracted, Torak cast a hold person on the calmonari and Rodrigo tried to prick him/her with a dagger covered in paralysis poison. Alas, neither made their mark, and Awg used the power of his sword to  levitate to the roof 20' above. The calmonari also hauled out a laser pistol and shot Torak square in the face in retaliation.  The party then opened up with more attacks, hoping to subdue or if necessary kill their companion. The calmonari seemed protected from magic though, as nearly every arcane attack (including some that should have been unstoppable) was blocked. Only Kwinsea was able to get through the barriers with a tidal force, using it to push Awg into the stream; there being hope among the party that the water might have some effect on their en-scrolled friend. There seemed to be none, so the aquamancer changed the direction of the force to pin Awg against the cave wall. Another barrage of spells followed, which once more the calmoanri avoided. In desperation, Rodrigo decided to take a chance and grab for the rainbow gems, which Awg carried in a belt pouch. The swashbuckler successfully grabbed the pouch, and ripped it free. As Awg screamed in rage, Rodrigo cast the pouch into the rushing stream, thankfully feeling no effects himself from the gems. The pouch flew out over the waterfalls edge, and everyone rushed over the see what happened next. A few seconds later, a partial rainbow in blue, indigo and violet appeared in the mist at the base of the falls, where no rainbow had been before.  There was also a palpable mental disturbance in the cave, a feeling of anger and rage, that again dissipated in  a few seconds. 

But at this point, Awg seemed back to his/her old self. After a few mumbled apologies and mending fences, the party prepared to move on. Starting out in single file with the now trustworthy calmonari in front, they followed the narrow path along the river. They did not go far before Awg spied something washed up on the path; a raft or barge. He moved a little closer, and observed a body in the vessel. It was quite tall, had coal black skin, and appeared relatively fresh; probably no more than a few weeks dead. That suggested the presence of someone still alive upstream. Rather than push on, however, the party backtracked to the cave to rest for the night and regain spells. In particular, Torak wanted to speak with dead on the corpse before they pushed on further. After an uneventful night, the party once more pushed up the path to the barge. Torak was at the end of the marching order, so Awg had to walk past the barge to make room. As he/she did, the corpse sprung into undeath and reached out to wrap its hands around the calmonari's neck. Luckily Awg ducked, and Torak tried to call down the power of Brall to turn the foul foe. Alas the drowned god did not answer the call, so Rodrigo had to step forward and slice the creature in twain with his swords. As the two halves flopped into the water, Torak shed a tear at the loss of a potential animated servant. 

The party now reformed and proceeded further along the path. After a short time, they reached a point where the path ended at the base of  stairway carved out of the living rock. This led away from the river, but there was no other way to follow it without getting wet and potentially being swept away. So they headed up the stairs instead. At the top it opened into a cave, and there they encountered a pair of human figures. Dark skinned and tall  like the corpse in the barge, they were dressed in equally black robes. The two approached the party with arms outstretched and did not respond to any of Kwinsea's linguistic skills. Remembering their encounter with the corpse in the raft, Torak once more tried to  turn ,and Kwinsea read off the scroll of undead protection. Brall listened to his servant this time, and the pair of foes turned face and retreated through a passage to the north.

Necrophilius
There was another passage to the east, so the party headed that way rather than chase the fleeing undead. This passage curved around and led to another set of stairs leading back down to the river. They did not go that way however, being distracted by a cave opening passed along the way. In the opening lay the skeletal remains of some huge snake, but the head had been replaced with a human skull. Strategically placing Kwinsea to take advantage of the protection if needed, but ensuring they didn't unwittingly break the spell, the party poked at the bones. Nothing happened, so they passed by it to explore the cave. Finding nothing there, they went back to the bones and tired to pull them apart. That got a respire; the skeleton animated and the skull rose to tower over the party. It began to sway back and forth, causing both Rodrigo and Torak to fall into a hypnotic trance. Before any great damage could be caused however, Kwinsea loosed a lightning bolt at the thing, causing it to shatter into an explosion of bone and breaking the trance...

TOTAL XP
9688* treasure and monster experience
14400 goal experience for breaking Awg's curse (for Torak, Kwinsea, Rodrigo, Chaff only)

GAINS
4670gp worth of various golden grave goods (rings, bangles, chains, etc)

KILLS
1 Coffer Corpse
1 Large Necrophilius

LOSSES
3 rainbow gems
Some party cohesion  

* 2xp/gp house rule in effect

** Sung to the tune of "How do you Solve a Problem Like Maria"

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Far Isles Session #80 - All the Wiggly Things

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6) 
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 5)
Zombie Jaz (Zombie)
with a late appearance by:
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes
  
But I Thought We Were Friends?
The party paused to take stock and pick up the pieces. With two members down for the count, there really was no choice but to return to the "No Man's Sea" and regroup there. They made it back to the ship late in the day and without any trouble. Rodrigo joined them from the galley to discuss what to do next. The swashbuckler was determined to get something out of this venture; revenge if nothing else. While Torak stayed behind aboard ship to tend to the fallen (and Kwinsea stayed with him to make sure they didn't come back to find a new zombie-Chaff), Rodrigo strong-armed Awg into making another delve into the temple caves. They took zombie-Jaz with them, several doses of dinosaur sleep poison, and as many flasks of oil and supersaturated brine as they could carry. One they reached the dry hilly centre of the island, Rodrigo used his simian sword to summon a small band of monkeys. His plan was to quietly take one aside and kill it, stuffing the body with sleep poison to use as giant slug bait. Unfortunately the monkey was too wily for him, and in the ensuing monkey-hooting struggle, the rest of the band fled and Rodrigo gained a new monkey-bite scar across the neck before killing the simian. 

All that done, the three headed back into the caverns and straight (but carefully) towards the slug slime filled cavern. A little scouting about made them believe there was another giant slug at the end of the slime trail leading north, so the party set up an ambush. In the narrow passage, they poured out all their oil, then topped it off with a sleep poison stuffed monkey corpse. Extinguishing their lights (except for Rodrigo's lit cigar), they pulled back against the cave wall and waited. After about  a half hour, they heard a squishing sound, followed by slurping. Figuring their foe had come, Rodrigo stepped forward and flicked his cigar into the oil pool, which lit up into a wall of flame. Reveled in the light was another giant slug, in the process of turning around after eating the monkey, but now trapped, roasting in the fire. Awg tried shooting it with his/her laser pistol, and zombie-Jaz tossed a brine bomb, but both missed. The slug now turned enough to loose a steam of acid spittle at the calmonari and zombie, both of whom were lucky to survive. The slug by now was in bad shape from the dying fire, and a few good hits from the laser pistol, Rodrigo's wheel lock and swings from the zombie-wielded Terminaxe ended the gastropodic threat. 


Eww, Leeches.
The great corpse blocked most of the tunnel, so they had to climb over the body to access the cavern beyond. This one proved to be of huge scale, the ceiling disappearing into the darkness above. In the centre was a mound, shaped almost like a step pyramid but apparently a natural formation. From the top of the pyramid emanated an eerie blue-purple glow. Worried about getting trapped in the chamber if there was a third giant slug, Rodrigo and Awg sent zombie-Jaz to investigate. She crossed the chamber no problem, and then had to climb the 50' tall pyramid, using some convenient hand holds to help her get there. Once at the top, the two adventurers saw the zombie bend down to pick up a large handful of gems, several of which were glowing with that eerie light. But before zombie Jaz could return with the haul, the holes she used to climb to the top started to disgorge vast swarms of what looked like leeches, their black slimy bodies shimming in the strange light. These thousands of creatures slithered up the sides of the pyramid, intercepting the descending zombie Jaz. In moments they had covered her body, and she/it fell into death a second time. After a minute or two the leeches moved away, leaving a now completely fluid drained husk behind. They then proceeded to collectively push the gems back up the pyramid, until they were once more collected in a neat pile at the top; the creatures then returned to their holes.

Determined to get the gems, another cunning plan was hatched. Gathering all their rope, a lifeline was looped around Awg, who then used his sword to levitate to the ceiling and hand-walk across the cavern until he/she was above the pyramid. Lowering down, the calmonari hauled out a small sack and used his cutlass to scoop the gems into the bag. At that moment, the leeches once more swarmed out of the holes. As Awg levitated away and hand-crawled back to Rodrigo, the leech swarm turned to cross the cavern to follow him and the gems. That got Rodrigo and Awg moving fast, to get ahead of the swarm and back to the ship's boat. As they pulled hard on the oars, the swarm burst out of the cave entrance and into the water, continuing to mindlessly chase the boat until they made it to salt water which stopped the swarm cold . 

Rainbow Gems
Back on the "No Man's Sea" with their bounty, the party now decided to head back to the Anchorage to have Chaff raised before he got too ripe and rotten. Eight day's uneventful sailing found them back at their home away from home. For the first time in a long time there were ships at anchor; the trader Dravos in the "Barbaric Wind" and the three masted "Imperious". But the party was uninterested in any chit chat. They shipped over to the beach and off to Bellephrone right away. Swapping her the bulls-eye shield in return for her services, they stuffed Chaff in the cauldron to let her do her work. Returning a few days later, they found a fresh pink Chaff awaiting them. Except his left hand had been replaced by his intestines; the hand could be seen occasionally pressing against his belly from the inside. Chaff was fine with this, but everyone else was a bit grossed out. 

Now back to full strength, the party sailed back towards the Land of the Silver Lotus and tired to figure out what to do next. They decided to go back to Barana village and try to talk privately with the witch-doctor Batutu. He seemed to know things he was unwilling to say in front of King Tiku, and the party hoped he might help them decided what to do with the gems and maybe he could point them in the direction of Empyrius as well. Speaking of the gems, no one had actually seen them since the cavern. Awg protectively and snarlingly kept them to himself, and was occasionally seen sitting alone on deck and staring wide eyed and dazed into the open bag. There was definitely something not right about those gems. 

With the "No Man's Sea" anchored off the village once more  Chaff cast his transparency spell on Kwinsea. The aquamancer, being the only one who understood the pygmy language, would swim ashore and accost the witch-doctor for questioning. Reaching land, she waited awhile before she noted two guards emerge from King Tiku's chambers below the eastern headland. They marched through the village to a door in the western hill, and after talking to the guards there, the witch-doctor Batutu emerged and accompanied the original guards back to King Tiku. He was gone about an hour, and when Batutu emerged, he slowly walked across the village, this time unaccompanied. Kwinsea saw her chance, and intercepted the old witch-doctor along the way. Once the old man got over the shock and figured out to whom he was talking, he led the unseen Kwinsea out into the yam fields beyond the village palisade so they could talk without being overheard.

Batutu
Kwinsea asked him about the gems and the Forbidden Mountain. Batutu told her the story of a race of Ancients that once lived on the Forbidden Mountain. They were ruled by a great sorcerer named Kwalu the Rainbow Stealer.  It was he who made the rainbow gems, objects of great power, but which also spread greed, discord and treachery. Eventually, two pygmy brothers made their way onto the mountain and stole three of the gems. The two brothers fell to fighting over the gems,and one killed the other, splitting the pygmy tribe. Losing three gems also lessened the power of Kwalu, who was overthrown by four kings of the Ancients. After that, the Ancients become addicted to silver lotus and eventually died away. Batutu did not want Tiku to get any of the gems; the witch-doctor feared the power mad pygmy king would destroy the tribe if he got his hands on the powerful artifacts. Tiku's obsession was also fairly recent; he'd been fed the idea by a tall stranger named Ugar who'd arrived in the village a few months ago from some far off land.  Batutu once more implored Kwinsea to not go to the Forbidden Mountain to get he gems for Tiku. If anything, they should take the gems and destroy them. The gems had been enchanted from the rainbow that once graced the thousand foot waterfall which disgorged  from the mountain, and could only be destroyed by throwing them off the waterfall precipice and into the mist. 

Kwinsea finished up by asking again about Empyrius. Batutu knew nothing, and suspected that Tiku didn't either. Most likely the pygmy king faked knowledge of Empyrius to fool the party into gathering them gems for him.  Asked of his opinion of King Tiku the crafty witch-doctor said only the village was not getting all it was due from the King's trading with foreigners; perhaps it would be good if that changed. 

TOTAL XP
11540*

GAINS

3 rainbow gems [blue, indigo, violet]
10 other gems (100gp x2, 25gp, 250gp, 50gpx2, 10gp, 750gp x2, 1000gp)

KILLS
1 Giant Slug

LOSSES
Fishguts (for good)
Jaz (again)  

* 2xp/gp house rule in effect

Monday, February 5, 2018

Far Isles Session #79 - Swamp Pygmies and Slug Gods

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy 
Torak (Cleric 6) 
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 3)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 5)


Leaving the village of Barana (and their cook) behind, the party ordered Lynessa to sail the "No Man's Sea" east towards the swampy end of the main island where the swamp pygmy village was purported to be located. The reef prevented close approach in the ship, so the party (less Rodrigo, who was now on galley duty) lowered their fancy shore boat into the water and rowed towards shore. The shore was anything but solid; a thick mangrove swamp pieced by numerous creek openings and little more than patches of mud masquerading as dry land. They spent a few hours rowing past the shore, looking for signs of a village. There was nothing to be found; even sending Pretty Bird aloft didn't work as the jungle canopy was nigh on solid. The familiar couldn't even see signs of smoke from campfires; any such would have been swallowed by the thick layer of mist that cloaked the swamp. Unable to see where to go themselves, the party decided to draw the swamp dwellers to them. They started to make a racket, clashing weapons together and yelling "We come in peace" in every language they knew. Jaz, watching the tree line through her spyglass, soon spotted signs of movement. There was obviously someone or something watching them from the shore. Further exhortations of peace didn't draw a response, so the party put a small gift of trinkets and treasure into the boats bailing bucket, and propelled it towards shore. It was just starting the drift into the shadows and mist under the trees when the sound of multiple bow 'twangs' were heard and the bucket, now peppered with arrows, rolled over and sank to the bottom. 

Their first attempt having failed, the party returned to the "No Man's Sea" for the night. Next morning they hatched a new plan. First, they summoned the ebony fly and jammed the ring of invisibility on one of it's feelers. They then once more rowed towards shore, and once more they were watched. Chaff then ducked into the bottom of the boat, stripped down and cast transparency on himself. Then the little vivimancer leaped aboard the ebony fly and the invisible duo buzzed off into the swamp to search for the pygmy village, Meanwhile, the rest of the party lingered offshore as a distraction to the watchers. Chaff weaved through the swampy maze for about a half hour before seeing a large pool or pond ahead. He climbed higher, and could now see signs of habitation. There were about a dozen reed huts in the middle of the swamp, all raised above the water on stilts.  One hut was much larger than the others, while there was also a smaller hut sitting on the one patch of dryi-ish land. There were lots of signs of people, both on the balconies and rope bridges that surrounded and connected the huts, as well in dugout canoes moving to and fro. 

Swamp Pygmy Village
There seemed to be no one around the small island hut, so Chaff decided to land there and investigate. This hut was quite dilapidated, and had no windows or other opening except for a door covered by the hide of some large creature. Listening carefully, he could hear the sound of what he thought was a girl crying. Still transparent, he whipped open the door flap and looked inside. Once his eyes adjusted to the light, he could see a man and a woman, their hands bound and tied to a beam in the ceiling, cowering in the corner. They were very dirty and disheveled, and the stench in the hut was overpowering. The two were terrified, whimpering and crying, and starting to raise a racket. Chaff barked at them to be silent before they drew any attention, explained he was magically invisible and was there to rescue them. The vivimancer examined and questioned the two more closely. Thankfully the young woman spoke Common. Her name was Izana, and had come from the city of Visryi to the island with her merchant father Irrihim. They had come to trade with the pygmies of Barana village, but her father had tried to swindle the natives. The two of them were tossed into King Tiku's dungeon, but she escaped into the jungle. Only to be captured by the swamp pygmies. The man, who spoke only a bit of broken Common, called himself Korun. Izana said he'd been here when she was brought in, and she'd been teaching him Common so she would have someone to talk to. He was from a group of islands called the Coral Cays quite a few days to the north. Korun called himself a Creekman, which seemed to be some sort of pirate or brigand. Interestingly, he also had a noticeable blue coloration to his skin. 

While Chaff was very much interested in questioning the two further, he was more interested in escaping the pygmy village alive. Telling the two prisoners that he could only take one at a time, he untied Izana and shuffled her out the door before Korun could protest too much. The girl and the vivimancer mounted the fly and took off. The big problem was Izana was still visible, but it took a few moments before anyone in the village noticed the girl floating is mid-air. By that time, the fly was buzzing past the edge of the village. Unfortunately, they flew right over a hidden pygmy watch-post, and a cloud of poison blow-darts arched towards them. Luckily all missed, and Chaff answered with a leech blast that kept the guards from firing another volley. The fly and passengers flew back to the boat where the rest of the party was waiting. They pumped the much relived Izana for information to help them decide their next course of action. First of all, she didn’t know anything about ‘rainbow gems’. The swamp pygmy tribe was about 300 strong, and both the men and women were capable warriors. The tribe was led by an individual called Y’xatu, and Izana got the impression from her captors that this leader was not altogether human. Y’xatu was also relatively new to the leadership of the tribe, having come on the scene just a few years ago and driven out the priests of the insect(?) gods who’d previously run the tribe. The temple of these gods was on the smaller swampy island opposite the swamp pygmy village. As for the Forbidden Mountain, Izana related the story told to her by the Creekman Korun; he and his companions had followed tales of a lost city on the plateau, but Korun had turned back before they reached the mountain. Presumably all his companions had been lost as he never saw them again.

The party was disappointed to learn the gems were not at hand, although Kwinsea rightly pointed out that recovering them from a hostile village of poison-armed pygmies was not going to be a cakewalk. So there was the inevitable discussion of what to do next. There was talk of going back to the village of Barana to speak with the witchdoctor Batutu; he seemed to know things he wouldn’t say in front of the pygmy king. Maybe they should just head for the Forbidden Mountain and find the lost city themselves? Or perhaps the swamp pygmy temple would be a worthy destination; maybe the gems were there, or maybe the ‘gods’ of the temple could help them? In the end they decided to head for the swamp temple, in the process deciding to forget their deal with King Tiku and abandoning Fishguts the chef to his fate. They rowed back to the “No Man’s Sea” to drop off the merchants daughter, and then headed for the swamp temple. As the still invisible ebony fly flew top cover, the party rowed and poled their way through mud shoals, crocodiles and huge buzzing insects. But none of this interfered with their search, and a few hours later they found themselves approaching the hilly centre of the island and a large cave opening. A narrow muddy beach lay below the opening, and to either side was a roughhewn set of stone stairs. The party pulled the boat onto the beach, noting signs that someone else had landed here recently. They then ascended the left hand set of stairs and entered the cave.

Inside they found a cavernous, high roof chamber, at the centre of which was a low stone table supported on stone pillars. Behind the table were a row of five statues resembling oversized pygmy warriors with their mouths agape. Before anyone approached, Torak cast an augury to ask the Drowned God if approaching the statues would be bad. Having been told ‘no’, the cleric walked over behind the stone slab and in front of one statue. Unfortunately, it seemed that Brall was testing his servant. A gout of acidic black fluid erupted from the statues mouth, splattering all over Torak and burning him hideously. Seeing this, the rest of the party studiously avoided the statues and focused on the stone slab. Scattered on it were what seemed to be crude offerings; necklaces of bones and teeth, feathers, and so on. Finding nothing of interest, the party formed up and marched through the narrow exit to the north. They soon came to another chamber, this one filled with a pool of scummy water. Awg did a taste test and discovered it was fresh rather than salt. He/she then dove in, and discovered it was only a couple feet deep. The somewhat bruised calmonari them stood up and led the party across the pool. There were three possible exits on the opposite side, and the party choose the one to the left. This led into another vaulting chamber, this one with a thick trail of something translucent leading from a passage to the north and out of one to the west. Kwinsea examined the material closer, and it proved to be a very thick and viscous slime. This reminded everyone that this was a temple to some amoebic or insect god; so of course they needed to investigate. The full width of the northern passage was covered by slime, so they headed to the west instead where there was a narrow path along one side of the passage.

Really Giant Slug

 Creeping forward, Awg entered the next chamber first, followed by Chaff holding the light coin. This was another large, roughly circular space. As the two entered, the noticed right away something else in the room with them. At the end of the trail of slime sat a monstrously huge slug. It sensed their light and turned towards them. Awg and Chaff moved to allow the rest of the party to fan out inside the chamber, and combat then ensued. The party started with a volley of lasers and pistol and crossbow, while Torak cast a spiritual weapon. Most of these attacks made contact, but seemed to do little harm to the slug. Which then had its revenge: it opened its maw and spat a stream of black acidic bile at Chaff, Jaz and Kwinsea. The aquamancer managed to roll away and avoid the worst of it, but Jaz and Chaff both fell dead, their skin dissolved away from their bodies. The slug then oozed over to Awg and started to chomp on the calmonari. Meanwhile, the remaining party members struck back. Torak used his animate dead to bring Jaz back as a Terrminaxe wielding zombie, who then proceeded to chop away at the slug. Kwinsea fired a lightning bolt, then filled the beasts lung with salt water using a timely application of ocean’s embrace. Torak supplemented this salt attack with a few salt holy water of Brall grenades. But it was Awg, blasteing away once more with the laser pistol, athat delivered the fatal blow: well-aimed shot that blasted the creatures head into a spray of gastropod goo …

TOTAL XP
2000

GAINS
none

KILLS
1 Giant Slug

LOSSES
Chaff
Jaz

Monday, January 22, 2018

Far Isles Session #78 - Land of the Silver Lotus

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6) 
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy 
Torak (Cleric 6) 
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes and henchman Jaz (Elf 3)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 5)

With business in Xin complete, and feeling a need to put some sea room between them and the rather dramatic demise of Calcidius, the party had Lynessa get the "No Man' Sea" under sail without further delay. The delay came once they were at sea, for they made slow progress. Trying to make their way into a headwind (when there was any wind at all) resulted in a rather slow passage, but the ship did make landfall on the Isle of Dread after a long but uneventful two weeks sail. Once there, they decided to make a quick stop at the village of Tanaroa. Thinking they might need a friendly place to refit and resupply at some point, they wanted to ensure they would still be welcome in the village by the wall. A strong storm drove them with hair-raising speed  along the rock and reef fringed coast, and they arrived off the village in a half day. It being much to stormy to bring the ship close to land, or to launch one of the ship's boats, Kwinsea, Awg and Rodrigo (using the shark spear) opted to swim ashore. Ominously, they all observed signs of fire scorched trees between the beach and the village. There was also a noted absence of activity on the shore, in stark contrast to their previous visit. But the three elected to push on towards the village. The jungle thinned as they approached the village, and they could now see more troubling sights. First of all, the step pyramid in the centre of the village was surrounded by the village warriors. They guarded the non-combatants who clustered about the lower steps of the pyramid, while at the top stood the village matriarch J'kal and the war chief Bakora. The trio also noted signs of destruction; burned crops and huts in addition to the scorched trees.  Kwinsea stepped forward to speak on behalf of the party, reminding the chiefs of their last friendly visit. J'kal cut her off, and demanded the party leave. After their last visit, a 'fire wizard' had arrived looking for them, and and caused mass death and destruction in the village before being driven off. Helping the party had obviously been bad taboo, and the matriarch insisted once more that they leave and not return again. Even offers of help from Kwinsea couldn't change her mind, and with the warriors  starting to get antsy, the three returned to the beach and the "No Mans' Sea". After discussion with the rest of the party, they decided to just head east in search of Empyrius. 


Forbidden Mountain
With the still strong wind at their back, they didn't sail far beyond the Isle of Dread (just a half day) before making landfall again. Once more they faced a jungle coast, running roughly north-south. Roughly in the centre rose a tall, flat-top mountain with straight cliffs that ran right into the sea. Rather than land right away, the party decided to circumnavigate the island. On the southern tip they observed a village surrounded by a log palisade. Further east the land turned swampy, and there were two other islands close to the main one. Off in the distance to the north-east were signs of additional lands. The three islands were surrounded by a rocky reef which would prevent the "No Man's Sea" from approaching, but it looked like the ships boat could pass at high tide in some places without too much trouble. Having spent several days sailing around and charting the island, the "No Man's Sea" ended up back off the village. They weren't there long when they observed a half dozen dugout canoes being pushed off the beach to come out and meet them. When the dugouts got closer, the party could see the people in them were pygmies. Kwinsea, once more using her skill with languages, was able to have a stilted conversation with the apparent leader using the native pidgin she'd picked-up on the Isle of Dread. She asked the name of the islands: 'Land of the Silver Lotus' was the reply. She asked about Empyrius; the little man didn't know what she was talking about, but suggested King Tiku or the witch-doctor Batutu might be able to answer her questions. He directed the party to enter the canoes and come ashore with them. After a short debate about who should go,  in the end they all decided to go.  Torak, however, s;lipped on the ring of invisibility and brought up the rear of the party. Just in case there was trouble. 


King Tiku
They arrived ashore safely, and were led into the palisade. But their guides did not bring them to any of the huts; they were instead taken toward the hill flanking the east side of the village. At the base of the hill was a low opening flanked by pygmy warriors. The party was guided through the opening and into a pygmy height tunnel. Led this way and that, they were thoroughly confused by the time they were brought into a larger, higher ceiling (i.e. 6' high) chamber. This was the throne room of King Tiku. The king was sitting on a throne caved of some giant monster skull, surrounded by his royal guards and a half dozen slave girls. The slaves were not pygmy's, but of regular stature. The throne and the floor was covered with rugs of monkey fur. Tiku ignore them at first, and sat there devouring dishes of monkey meat and fried lizards, guzzled down with great tumblers of something. Tossing away the last monkey bone and wiping the grease off his face with a slave-held monkey fur, King Tiku demanded to know what the party wanted. Again, talking in the native pidgin, Kwinsea offered a small coffer of coins and a bottle of fine wine (which Tiku uncorked and guzzled as she spoke).She made small talk at first, and learned that ships from Visryi, the City of Glass,  had been visiting the island for some time to trade for monkey skins, exotic feathers and silver lotus. She then asked to speak specifically to Batutu as the party were seeking tales and lost legends, and hoped the witch-doctor could help. King Tiku send several guards to fetch the witch-doctor, and after some time they returned leading a wizened little man, wrinkled as a raisin. Kwinsea first tried all her languages on the witch-doctor, discovering he spoke some common and dwarven. Hoping to keep King Tiku from overhearing, she switched to common and asked the witch-doctor about Empyrius and legends of long ago. Batutu knew nothing of Empyrius, and his legends told mostly of local issues, especially the evils of the Forbidden Mountain which the party had observed from the ship. As he spoke of the Forbidden Mountain, the witch-doctor glanced sideways at King Tiku, who watched the proceedings impassively.

Suddenly the king spoke, telling the guards to take Batutu away. He then addressed the party in broken common, saying if they wished to learn anything more of the Forbidden Mountain and legends of Empyrius, they must do something for him first. He would tell them all he knew if they would recover for him the three rainbow gems from the swamp pygmies to the east. He was coy about the gems, saying only they were glowing jewels of blue, indigo and violet. Bring them to him, and King Tiku would tell them all they needed to know. But they would need to leave an 'honored guest' to ensure they did return with the gems. The lecherous little king eyed Jaz at first, but in the end the party convinced him to accept the ship's cook, Fishguts, who could cook monkey and lizard like the glutenous king had never seen. The deal made, the party transferred the nervous Fishguts to the care of the pygmies and then started to make their plans to recovered the rainbow gems ...

TOTAL XP
250

GAINS
none

KILLS
none

LOSSES
Fishguts (for now ...)