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