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Navior's Serpent's Skull

Game Master Navior


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Mahjik grins, too, Douena's ideas sometimes appeared apparently out of nowhere, but they had a habit of nipping at your brain until you entertained them for a while.

"How much further til we break for the night?"


Mahjik the Flink wrote:

Mahjik grins, too, Douena's ideas sometimes appeared apparently out of nowhere, but they had a habit of nipping at your brain until you entertained them for a while.

"How much further til we break for the night?"

Sasha looks towards the sun, still low in the eastern sky. "At a rough guess, I'd say all day," she says with a smirk.

Sorry, GM couldn't resist. It's still first thing in the morning. :)

You set out once more across the plains. According to Shokambe, Kalabuto should be less than two days journey away, so he fully expects to reach there sometime tomorrow afternoon. Pezock seems quite pleased by this until Jask reminds him that Kalabuto is not your final destination. He spends the next hour or so after that in a rather grumpy mood.

The day otherwise passes by quietly and uneventfully, and when night approaches again, you settle down for another peaceful night (interrupted by only occasional bird cries).

22 ARODUS, 4710 (14th day of journey)

You're greeted by rain in the morning as you set out again. Shortly before noon, you spot a strange object in the distance, rising above the grass. As you get closer, you see that it is a tall and leafless boab tree standing alone in the grasses, its wood burnt black. A circle of tiny bones surrounds the tree. Over a dozen human bodies hang from the branches, making grisly silhouettes against the blue sky. More bodies lie on the ground at the base of the tree, frayed ropes still around their necks. A circle of tiny bones surrounds the tree.

Shokambe holds up his hand to call for a halt. "This is a bad sign," he says. "I know this tree, but it's..." He hesitates a moment, searching for the right words. "...it's decorations are new. This is a Mzali warning to instil terror in their enemies. It is undoubtedly for travellers to and from Kalabuto. We are only a few hours away."


"Wise man heeds the omens, divine or man-made. Perhaps we should make a big circle around Kalabuto? We don't need to resupply that desperately, I think."


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2

"That's not an omen," Douena scoffs, frowning at the gore. "An omen is a dream or a butterfly or a broken bootlace. That's just being a bully." She looks up at Shokambe. "Who are their enemies? Are we?"


Sorcerer (Draconic) 6; AC 14 (18), FF 12 (16) T 12; HP 47/47;Perception +6; Spells Lvl 3: 2/4; Lvl 2: 5/6; Lvl 1: 3/7; Cantrip: at will

"If they seek me as an enemy, Douena, they will find just how hot the dragon's flame burns."


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

Lorenz wrinkles his nose with distaste. "Nasty. We're supposed to stop in Kalabuto, for news as well as supplies. Whoever left these...decorations...they can't be allowed to stop us from our task."

He looks doubtfully at the tree. "Perhaps we can avoid that, however."


Douena Trestleben wrote:
"That's not an omen," Douena scoffs, frowning at the gore. "An omen is a dream or a butterfly or a broken bootlace. That's just being a bully." She looks up at Shokambe. "Who are their enemies? Are we?"

"Chelaxians, mainly," Shokambe says with a frown. "But they will view anyone going into Kalabuto as either being Chelaxians or being collaborators. Still, it is doubtful that they are watching us right at this moment. This display is just intended to create fear, to show that they overcame and killed a bunch of their enemies. They know that if they were to keep killing too many, they know that the Chelaxians would come in greater numbers and hunt them all down. We should still be careful though."


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2

"Oh," Douena sighs wearily, "they're not friends with those awful people in the city who kidnapped Jask, are they? Because they were very unreasonable."


Shokambe shrugs. "Similar ideals maybe, but probably operating independently."


"Wise man ponders that in a place of little reason, those who dwell in it are not burdened by it."


"We were supposed to contact someone in Kalabuto, weren't we?" Sasha asks as she grimaces at the sight ahead.

Jask nods. "Yes, a dwarf named Cheiton. Although it was just a recommended contact, someone who can provide us with safe lodgings. The Pathfinders seemed to feel that staying in an inn would be dangerous for us. I don't think it would be a problem if we went around Kalabuto, although we would miss out on an opportunity to restock supplies."


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

Lorenz nods. "I'd kind of like to get the news, if there are any," he says. "Maybe this dwarf will have some information that will be of use to us."


"So we go into a dangerous place to find a dwarf that can maybe find us safe lodgings in a dangerous place? I rather go around, or failing that wait a safe distance, and let Shokambe who won't draw violent attention go and investigate and bring Chaiton to us."


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2

"If Kalabuto is anything like Eleder, I'd rather not go anywhere near it," Douena scowls. "And if the dwarf is friends with the Pathfinders, I'd rather not go anywhere near him, either. Just think how much better off we'd have been if we'd camped outside Eleder like I wanted to instead of staying there where Jask could get kidnapped and everyone kept offering us anything we wanted to work with them after Gelik had already given us over to the Pathfinder Society for free. Oh!" she seems suddenly to remember something. "I was going to tell you back in Eleder, only then Jask got kidnapped and I forgot all about it until now. There was some sort of sailor woman who offered Pezock and me a reward if we'd send her information about what we found without mentioning it to the rest of you. I don't remember her name. Do you, Pezock? It was pretty. I would have liked to work with her, if Gelik had given any of us a choice."


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

Lorenz looks at Mahjik. "What are you afraid of? We've been in dangerous places before. I'd appreciate a chance to sleep in a real bed and have a real meal, and maybe a real drink as well, before we go out into the wilderness again. It's not like it'd be for long."

He frowns at Douena's comments but bites his lip to keep from responding to her disparaging words about Gelik and the Pathfinders. At the news of the sailor woman, however, he forgets prudence.

"Wait, someone wanted information from you that you were supposed to hide from us? Have you been giving her information somehow?"


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2

"Of course not!" Douena answers angrily. "If I was keeping secrets from you, would I be telling you about it? I don't even know how she expected us to get a message back to her. I told her that I, unlike some people we know, would never go spilling secrets that belong to all of us for my own personal gain. And I was going to tell you all right away, but it was when we were on our way to meet Shokambe and then as soon as we left was when we found out Jask had been kidnapped and I forgot all about it."


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

Lorenz holds up his hands, palms out in a placating gesture. "Okay, okay...I was just checking. Does anyone have any ideas about what this might mean? Why would a sailor lady want information about...the city?"


Sorcerer (Draconic) 6; AC 14 (18), FF 12 (16) T 12; HP 47/47;Perception +6; Spells Lvl 3: 2/4; Lvl 2: 5/6; Lvl 1: 3/7; Cantrip: at will

"For the same reason we all want to know: fame, plunder, knowledge, power. Choose any or all of them. Douena, we're going into town. We're going to resupply. We're going to rest for the night in the same room. We're going to be ready for ambush and betrayal. Lorenz will take first watch for that stupid question. Then in the morning, we'll leave."


Pezock scowls slightly at the mention of the sailor woman in Eleder. "The woman is unimportant," he declares. "We told her no. She went away. End of story." He takes a deep breath and looks east in the direction you were headed. "Well, if we're going to this boring city to meet this boring dwarf, let's get going before I get bored."


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

Lorenz stiffens. "You'd find it a lot more effective to issue commands, Urza, if you weren't so insulting at the same time."

He turns to the others. "So are we going? Let's keep our distance from the tree, hmm?"


"I feel bad about leaving all those bodies just hanging there," Sasha comments as Shokambe begins to lead you around the tree.

The guide nods sadly. "If we remove them, they will likely just replace them with more bodies." He takes you south of the tree a hundred yards or so. "We're going to Kalabuto then?" he asks as he turns back to the east. "If so, we keep going east. If not, we'll need to swing farther to the south to avoid it. Either that or go straight north and cross the river before reaching the city."

There's a pretty clear consensus about going around the tree, but it's not so clear yet what you want to do regarding the city. Urza clearly wants to go to Kalabuto and expects to be obeyed. :) Lorenz also indicated some desire to go to the city. Douena and Mahjik want to skip the city (although Mahjik did offer a compromise option). Makoa seems to be still out of action for the moment.


"I think we should continue to the city as planned," Jask says. "As Shokambe said before, they are unlikely to be watching everyone who goes in or out. The tree is meant to scare. We shouldn't let it."


Sorcerer (Draconic) 6; AC 14 (18), FF 12 (16) T 12; HP 47/47;Perception +6; Spells Lvl 3: 2/4; Lvl 2: 5/6; Lvl 1: 3/7; Cantrip: at will

Urza keeps walking to the city.
"I have spent plenty of time without certain comforts that I have become accustomed to. Once we leave here, I will again be without those comforts. I intend to take advantage now while I still can. And, Lorenz, I'd sooner believe that Alton is a spy than Douena. She is the least likely of any of us to be duplicitous."


"Alton, a spy?" Sasha says with a chuckle. "How could you say such a thing?" She calls out to Alton flying in the sky above. "Alton, run! They're on to you!" The flappybite does not respond.


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

Lorenz feels mildly guilty at Sasha's comments about removing the bodies. He'd been too disgusted by the bodies to give any thought to seeing that they received a proper burial.

He looks askance at Urza. "Not on purpose, anyway," he mutters.

Lorenz is still in favor of going to Kalabuto, though Urza almost had him changing his mind on general principal.


While the consensus isn't clear, it looks like there's a slight leaning towards going to Kalabuto since Mahjik seems flexible and Urza looks as though he'll go there without you if he has to. :) As such, I'll assume you head to Kalabuto.

Not long after passing the disturbing tree, you see fields up ahead and orchards just off to the side. As you get closer, you can see that they are fields of pineapple plants and the orchards are date palm trees. Beyond the pineapple fields, a small hill rises up just before the river. Trees and vines cover the hillside like a small bit of jungle to mark the end of the plains.

"Kalabuto," Shokambe announces, pointing to the hill. Peering closer, you realize that a lot of this "jungle" is actually vine-covered buildings surrounded by a few trees. Separating the buildings from the trees becomes easier as you get closer.

As you reach the city and begin climbing the slope of the hill, you see that most of the buildings are very old and in poor repair. The vines grow right through cracks in the walls in many places. Some people peer out from windows as you pass, but you see very few people out in the "streets" (really just paths where the weeds and vines are well-trampled). As you near the top of the hill though, the buildings start to look in better condition (although they're all still very old) and you begin to see more people out and about. At the very top, many of the buildings have been augmented with more recent additions, turning them almost into palaces with a weird mix of ancient native and modern Chelish architecture.

Rounding the crest of the hill, you see the heart of the city is on the other side, facing the river. Here a couple of the streets are even lined with cobblestones, all of them leading down to the river's edge, where a boardwalk connects an elaborate tangle of docks. Numerous warehouses stand along the opposite side of the boardwalk.

"Do you know where you need to look for this dwarf?" Shokambe asks.

"Some place called the Shrunken Head, I believe was the name," Jask answers.

Shokambe nods. "I know it. It's down by the docks."


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2

"Oh, 'the docks,'" Douena says archly. "There's a classy part of town." She was partially mollified by Urza's taking her side but is still determined not to be impressed by anything related to the Pathfinder Society.


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

"The Shrunken Head," Lorenz says, "sounds kind of forbidding. I like it. I bet they have really interesting mugs and tankards. And it's been a long time since I've met a dwarf. I imagine his ale tankard isn't very shrunken at all."


You proceed down the side of the hill, away from the richer biuldings. Dozens of small kiosks line the riverside boardwalk, while eager-eyed youths scamper about peddling wares. Most sell local products or services, while others ply the hospitality trade, entreating visitors to stay in their homes for only a few coppers, rather than in more expensive lodgings. The majority of the kiosks belong to native Kalabuta catering to incoming vessels. A few trading companies own kiosks as well, though theirs tend to be larger, permanent structures in locations near their warehouses.

As you push your way through the crowds on the boardwalk, one of those peddling youths approaches you. She is a young Zenj girl, maybe ten or eleven years old. She hold up a pole with numerous wooden fetishes hanging from it and shakes it in front of you. "Please," she says in Common, "I need food. These are good luck charms--the tribes in the jungle will see them and know you as friends. Only two coppers each. It's a very good deal!" The fetishes are all vaguely animal-shaped, although don't have the skill of the carvings Shokambe routinely makes.

Sense Motive DC 13:
Although the girl's words are well practised and sound truthful, she doesn't look all that ill-fed. She certainly hasn't been living it up in riches, but she's not suffering from malnutrition.


Sorcerer (Draconic) 6; AC 14 (18), FF 12 (16) T 12; HP 47/47;Perception +6; Spells Lvl 3: 2/4; Lvl 2: 5/6; Lvl 1: 3/7; Cantrip: at will

Urza will purchase a 'good luck charm' from the child.


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

Fully expecting a mob of children to surface at any instant due to Urza's compassion, Lorenz readies a handful of small coin with one hand and tightens his fist on his coin purse with the other.


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2

Sense Motive 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 2 = 18


The girl happily takes Urza's money and holds out the pole of charms to him, allowing him to unhook one of his choice. She then smiles and looks expectantly to everyone else.

Sasha sighs and pulls out a couple coppers of her own, hands them to the girl and selects a monkey fetish from the pole.

Much to Lorenz's fears, he can already see numerous other young pedlars looking in the group's direction.


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2

"I have better ones," Douena tells her kindly. "Plus, Desna likes me."


The girl frowns at Douena's response, but nods. She smiles happily at anyone else who happens to give her anything. Jask looks as though he considers it, but stops short of doing so. Once you've all indicated one way or the other whether you will buy anything from her, she moves aside, wishing all who bought something well.

You are soon set upon by others in the street wishing to sell all kinds of items, some similar to the girl's, others selling sea shells or jewellery, others offering fishing gear. Most are only asking a few coppers for their wares.

The Shrunken Head tavern lies on a stretch of the boardwalk wedged between an exotic hardwoods warehouse and a small copper foundry. Clearly a former warehouse itself, the tavern’s ground floor sits upon old stone ruins, while the remainder of the structure has a wood frame and plank walls. Inside, customers crowd the dimly lit hall. A haze of smoke from guttering tallow candles fills the room, and on every table, dark-skinned dancing girls dressed in brightly coloured veils work the house. Shokambe shakes his head unhappily at the sight and mutters something in Polyglot.

Polyglot:
"Disgusting," he says.

One mention of Cheiton's name has you directed to a table with a single dwarf sitting at it. He's digging into a bowl of stew, an empty mug sitting beside the bowl. He's a muscular dwarf with a tattoo of a pick on his left arm. His dark brown hair is long and tied in multiple braids, as is his beard. He looks up as you approach and shoos away the young woman dancing on the table by tossing her a silver coin. She deftly catches it and slips away.

"Well, well," he says, "a group as diverse as you can only be one thing. I've been expecting you. Have a seat."

There are only four other chairs at the table, so most of you will have to stand.


Sorcerer (Draconic) 6; AC 14 (18), FF 12 (16) T 12; HP 47/47;Perception +6; Spells Lvl 3: 2/4; Lvl 2: 5/6; Lvl 1: 3/7; Cantrip: at will

Urza will spend as much as 2 gold on the urchin.


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

Lorenz occasionally hands out a couple of copper to the children thronging him but he takes nothing in return.

At the tavern, he holds a seat out for Sasha and stands behind it. "Greetings! I'm Lorenz. How's the stew here?"


Sasha takes the proffered seat with a smile at Lorenz. Cheiton smiles broadly as she sits near him. "Welcome!" he says to her, taking her hand (which she never actually offered him) and giving it a kiss. "I'm Cheiton, and you are?" He completely ignores Lorenz's question.


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2

Douena climbs up on the chair on the other side of Sasha and wrinkles her nose at her in sympathy as the dwarf kisses her hand. "Ew! Think of where that's been," she murmurs without making much effort to go unheard. She keeps her eyes on Lorenz to see how many hoops he'll jump through to rationalize the Pathfinder's contact as a Great Guy.


Mahjik avoids the urchins and street peddlers as far as possible, which isn't so hard, given that Lorenz and especially Urza draw a lot of attention to themselves. Still, he grins happily to himself.

Entering the Shrunken Head, he nods to himself, a bit like he expected it to roughly look like this. "Wise man," he half-mumbles under his breath. "Hallo Cheiton - I'm glad to see that this part of the journey is working out exactly as planned. ...touch wood."


Sasha pulls her hand back from the dwarf. "Sasha. Charmed, I'm sure." She speaks quite drolly, and doesn't appear charmed at all.


Douena Trestleben wrote:
Douena climbs up on the chair on the other side of Sasha and wrinkles her nose at her in sympathy as the dwarf kisses her hand. "Ew! Think of where that's been," she murmurs without making much effort to go unheard.

Cheiton chuckles. "Don't worry, I wash it frequently," he says. He takes another spoonful of stew, then says, "So how was your trip? Made it pretty unscathed, I see. That's good."

Taking one of the remaining chairs, Jask says, "It wasn't bad. We need to talk to you about--"

The dwarf interrupts him before he can finish. "No business in a public place like this," he says, holding up his hand. "For the moment, just relax, have some food and drink, and enjoy yourselves. The dancers here are pretty fine, and for a small fee, you can get a little extra, if you know what I mean." Cheiton chuckles.

Jask curls his lip in distaste.


Sorcerer (Draconic) 6; AC 14 (18), FF 12 (16) T 12; HP 47/47;Perception +6; Spells Lvl 3: 2/4; Lvl 2: 5/6; Lvl 1: 3/7; Cantrip: at will

Urza enjoys the food, the drink, and watching the girls dancing.


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2

"What do you mean exactly?" Douena pipes up.


Cheiton's eyes widen and he laughs. "I mean you can get extra...you know...favours. For just a bit of coin."

Jask sighs. "He means that you can pay these women to perform sexual acts for you."

Cheiton nods. "Yeah, what he said."


Male Half-Orc Barbarian(Totem Warrior/Invulnerable Rager) : 2 Druid(Wolf Shaman) : 4

"Not the sort of place business should be made." Makoa grumbles as he tries the stew. He doesn't eat another bite, to set off by the taste and the people around him and his friends.


Female Gnome Cleric 4/ Rogue (burglar) 2
Navior wrote:

Cheiton's eyes widen and he laughs. "I mean you can get extra...you know...favours. For just a bit of coin."

Jask sighs. "He means that you can pay these women to perform sexual acts for you."

Cheiton nods. "Yeah, what he said."

"Right here where people eat?" Douena replies with revulsion. She glares at Urza and his unkillable appetite for a while, trying to shame him out of his enjoyment of the less-than-savory ambiance.

Intimidate to demoralize Urza 1d20 + 3 - 4 ⇒ (11) + 3 - 4 = 10


Mahjik disagrees with Douena, "Why not? This is a den where all manner of needs are met. Presumably they got a room or something for the more involved favors."


Male Human (Andoran) Fighter Lvl 5

Lorenz's friendliness toward Cheiton cools after the dwarf's attention to Sasha but he enjoys the stew nonetheless and especially appreciates a tankard of the ale. At the talk of the "extra services" his face reddens and he spends most of the time either looking at his ale or the dwarf's homely face, doing his best not to notice the dancers.

"It is nice to drink something that doesn't taste like leather," he says.


Cheiton laughs heartily, nods at Mahjik, then turns to Douena. "Like he said. They don't do out here!" After a pause, he adds, "Although maybe if you paid them enough... Nah!" He laughs some more.

A few minutes later, once the dwarf has finished eating, he says, "So where would you folks like to stay. I have three guest rooms at my place you're welcome to, but you're a big group. I'm not sure there's enough room for you all. It'll be tight at best. You could get yourselves room here, if you want. They probably have more space than I do, although it's potentially more dangerous. This place isn't known for its security."

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