Efreat: With your knowledge of the plane of fire and the denizens that reside there, you recognize the Efreeti commander as the efreeti warlord Jhavhul who, according to legend, was imprisoned centuries ago in a world beyond the world. The name rings a bell from your reading of the book Courts of Stone and Flame. It describes Jhavhul as a shamed member of the Efreet nobility of the City of Brass, a famed location on the Plane of Fire. It suggests that he ventured to the Material Plane in search of an army and a legacy to raise his standing, during which time he and his armies warred against the Templars of the Five Winds, but that he was never seen in the City of Brass again.
As Efreat calms himself, he turns to the others to advise them of whom the brute was that saluted them on the way in. "Jhavhul, it was Jhavhul..."
Bahir clenches his jaw at the mention of Jhavhul's name a second time. As he continues to follow Daumari, "It was against Jhavhul and his forces that Vardishal himself fell, outside of Kelmarane. This is not a good sign."
"I dearly hope such a being was not actually trapped in this place; if it were the case, and this Jhavhul could not engineer an escape of his own, our chances of escape would appear to be exceedingly small." The inquisitor continues to look toward the hut, though his stride seems to lengthen slightly as he speaks.
Fem Half-Elven Cleric L9+Bard L1 | HP 59/64 | AC 21 T16F17 CMD20 | Saves F8 R9 W13 | Percep +11 | Fire DR20, Haste | Status:1 Negative Level
"...Enjoy your planar wonderland, Priestess."
Mah'ysa was left astonished for long moments, missing the discussion about Vardishal altogether as she reacted to Daumari aparently blaming her for the situation the company found themselves in.
She racked her brains for the perfect comeback.
"Thank you! I will!" Is what she ended up saying.
She looked around for some place to stomp off to, but there was no other place but the hut. So she trailed the others as they made their way to the hut, still steaming.
As the tension rises between the Dawnflower's faithful, Daumari heads off towards the stone hut with everyone following. But before you reach the hut, yet another creature comes climbing out of the water to greet you. This time it is a large sea turtle. It slowly climbs up onto the beach as fast as its large flippers can carry it, landing about a dozen or so feet down the beach in the direction you are headed. It stops and stares at you as you approach.
Daumari halts in mid stride and returns the turtle's stare. After a few moments the inquisitor tilts his head to one side, a motion mirrored by the giant creature.
I sense a kindred spirit. Can we keep him, Hazreem? I'll take good care of him, I promise. I'll polish his shell once a week. I'll make sure he gets plenty of food. I'll tell him stories each night and take him for walks in the surf each morning. He'll be my BFF forever, or at least until the rations run out; I'll name him "Emergency Soup."
How many things are going to come out of the water at us? he thinks while giving the turtle a calm studying stare. Wait a second, a joke? Hmmm, must of missed it? Momentarily distracted from his turtle study he glances back at Mah'ysa, "Is everything alright Radiant One?"
LOL, turtle soup. Reminds me of a situation in the Kingmaker game I am currently running where a turtle named Crackjaw had grown to huge proportions by making its lair in the runoff from a star-shard that had fallen nearby. A little nod to our earlier Second Darkness campaign. They killed it, took it back to the city, made turtle soup out of it, and had a celebration. That is until everyone started falling ill from the infected meat and turning into void zombies...ahhh, the fond memories I have of their zombie infested brothel...
The giant turtle cocks its head at Daumari, then turns and looks at Hazreem as he approaches. The druid and the sea animal seem to have a long staring contest as Hazreem tries to make friendly contact with the turtle. After about a minute, the turtle turns and looks in turn at Bahir, Mah'ysa, and Efreat, then Pae sitting over by the hut. It then turns back to Hazreem and Daumari and starts heaving, it's body pulsing as it regurgitates a small cylinder onto the sand. Turning away, it starts to head back towards the water.
the fond memories I have of their zombie infested brothel...
I don't think I want to know. Keep your necrophiliac fantasies to yourself... :)
The contents of this tiny scroll appear to be under a spell to shrink them down to fit inside, such as Shrink Item.
After a brief examination, Hazreem opens up the scroll case and empties the contents into his open hand. First to roll out is a small blue egg with brown spots on one egg. You immediately realize that the egg is bigger than the scroll case it just came out of, having no way without breaking the egg to put it back in. Looking inside the case, you see a small rolled parchment which you easily pull out with a finger.
Unrolling the parchment, you notice that it feels weirdly cool to the touch. Once unrolled, the parchment seems rather large for the scroll case it just came out of. Written on the parchment in common are the following words:
Long ago, visitors to these islands received a greeting from the Imprisoner. You shall receive the same.
"Greetings and welcome, brave hunters, to the Serpent Isles. Here you will find a hunt to satisfy your thirst for challenge, danger, and adventure, a tale to be told as you relax at the Pleasure Palace. Your task is simple: you must hunt down the Golden Ram and take its horn. There are many challenges to be faced on these islands, but only by sounding the ram's horn can you call back the ship that will bear thee hence. Do not think to cheat the hunt, as the Golden Ram is under my protection; this is a test of skill and skill alone, of courage and cunning, not raw power. One ram's horn you must sound and present to the boatman to gain passage. The other horn is yours to keep, as a trophy and reward for your daring. May Fate smile upon you and guide your aim."
The Imprisoner is gone now, but his world remains. A world we created. You have only just arrived but we must know if you are ally or enemy, capable or inept, complete the Imprisoner's task and we shall have a greater one for you, one to help fulfill your heart's desire. Give this egg to the boatman, and he will bring you directly to us. We have much to discuss.
Hazreem grunts, "Nice trick." Turning to the priestess, he adds "Good question, Mah'ysa. This note doesn't have much in the way of instructions. We don't even know what sort of creature this Golden Ram is. Still...it's either that or spend the rest of our lives here eating turtle soup."
I was hoping to get a turtle soup reference in, he he.
As you ponder the received message, you make your way to the stone hut. This small domed building looks to be crafted of polished yellow marble and alabaster. The wide arched entrance seems to welcome you inside the building that is big enough for all six of you to easily fit inside with plenty of room to spare. The marble trim is exquisitely carved with almost a noble feel to it. Inside are several benches on either side of a large basin against the far wall. Near the open archway, you notice several pegs mounted into the wall as if something might hang from them. But currently, the pegs are empty.
Outside, a short stone pier heads out over the water. But the last several feet of the pier is crumbling, blackened, and ruined as if the end of the pier had been burned away by an impossibly hot fire.
Bahir, Efreat: This whole strange place gives you an uneasy feeling, as if there is something rather chaotic about it. You both receive a -2 penalty on all Charisma-based checks while in this world. This is an alignment based effect.
Hazreem: You don't find anything else of interest while looking around the structure, but the architecture of this place seems very Nexian in origin. The place doesn't look like it has been used in a very long time as numerous small and harmless spiders and other insects have populated every corner and edge within this place. It could use a good cleaning. There is only entrance to the place and walking around the outside doesn't give any indication that there is anything hidden. The only other openings are smoke holes near the top of the dome.
Bahir looks at the pegs and then out along the pier, "Maybe this was a place they went swimming." He raises an eyebrow at the druid, "I am surprised you are so ready to go hunt anything as magnificent as a golden ram. Of course, it may be our only was out of here but I am not sure I am willing to take a turtle's word for it." He gets a big grin and continues in an over dramatic serious tone,"This doesn't have anything to do with the great turtle and ram conflict does it? I'd hate to take sides in that." His attempt at levity doesn't quite cover the fact that this place greatly troubles him.
"Aye Bahir..the king of the Rams and the Queen of the Turtles have obviously been at war for centuries..but as I see it we have two choices..stay here till we die of old age or do what this message says."
"I dislike being led by the nose like some beast of burden, but I believe Paellat speaks the truth. I have no desire to remain here, no matter how, pleasant a place this may seem, which leaves only this Rsm." Daumari straightens up and walks to the pier outside, kneeleing down to thoroughly examine the structure.
Fem Half-Elven Cleric L9+Bard L1 | HP 59/64 | AC 21 T16F17 CMD20 | Saves F8 R9 W13 | Percep +11 | Fire DR20, Haste | Status:1 Negative Level
"Well if what I remember of that map was any indication, we are on an island. Let's find out how big it is and what else may be present; hopefully no more hydras."
She looks around for the highest point she can see within a mile.
"Up there. Let's go see!"
She will wheedle someone to go with her.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (11) + 8 = 19
Looking inward towards the jungle, Mah'ysa decides to go for a hike with Hazreem and Bahir tagging along. (I'm assuming the party is not splitting up and everyone is going.)
Leaving the beach behind, you enter the thick foliage of the jungle. Plants and flora of all kinds surround you as various kinds of snakes and other serpent like creatures scurry out of your way or watch you from tree branches above. It is difficult to see anything above as the trees provide a thick canopy blocking the sky above. Thick mist seems to form in the air with water droplets forming on all the leaves near the ground and there is a general dampness in the air. You don't seem to be gaining much in the way of altitude as you spend over an hour rising up and down low hills.
Soon the sound of water is heard ahead. And as you find yourself approaching the bottom of a cliff. As you part through a grouping of trees you see long waterfall before you. A narrow path of water drops hundreds of feet onto a pile of rocks before flowing away in a small stream that heads back the way you came. A barely visible rainbow shimmers in the mist. The land around you is strikingly beautiful.
Off to the side, you are able to find a not-so-difficult way to work your way up towards the top of the waterfall, moving more inland and away from it as you do so. You travel for another hour or two over rolling hills filled with large tree roots and fallen moss-covered trees, damp leaf-covered soil, and various flowering ground-cover plants.
After about 3 hours since you left the pier, you find yourself at high rocky clearing, looking out over the vast jungle before you. It looks like the jungle continues in this direction for at least another 10 miles before an expansive sea of water continues to the horizon. The jungle landscape continues as far as you can see to your left and right, and actually appears to curve around on both sides, almost meeting at the horizon. It is as if the sea before you is a giant circle almost completely surrounded by land. On the right side of the horizon, over the crescent land that meets it there, it appears as if the sky is darker in an otherwise clear blue sky. It doesn't appear to be dark clouds but more like black smoke way off in the distance.
Behind you the other edge of the island is visible, also about 10 miles or so away. A relatively narrow channel of water cuts in from the shoreline, but you cannot see how far it goes as the tree tops before you block your view.
Hazreem is silent all during the hike, although judging by the look on his face he is clearly enjoying this part of the island. Once the group has reached the top of the clearing, Hazreem points out the smoke off in the distance. "That is the only signs of...civilization we have seen, other than the hut. We should check it out. Maybe we can get some clues as to what this Golden Ram looks like."
Daumari maintains his usual composure, but beads of sweat running down his face betray his exertion over the past three hours. "When walking through the wilderness in this way, following the direction of one attuned to its whims is often the best course of action." He nods to Hazreem in agreement, though the inquisitor's voice wavers slightly at the thought of extending their trek.
As Hazreem begins to move off to look for a good spot to camp, his attention is immediately drawn to the four large beasts off in the distance to the west, flying on a collision course with your position. They look like strange beasts with a vaguely humanoid head, the body of a lion, and with wings of a dragon. Swinging behind them as they flap their large wings are long tails that end in long, sharp spikes. They don't appear to be friendly as they close to about 225 feet.
Knowledge(Nature) or Knowledge(Arcana) DC15:
These are Manticores, fierce predators that like fresh meat, any meat, though they prefer human flesh! They have powerful claws and teeth. Once a creature of magical origin, they have since established themselves as a natively occurring species.
Knowledge(Nature) or Knowledge(Arcana) DC20:
Beware their tail spikes! They can launch a volley of spikes from their tails from long distance.
You find yourself somewhat exposed up here on the rocky top of the island mountain ridge. The nature of the ground is not the best for combat as you could easily twist and ankle in all the holes, cracks, and gaps. Treat everything here as difficult terrain.
"Manticores. More of Nex's long-forgotten pets, I imagine." Daumari quickly strings his bow, draws an arrow, takes aim at the approaching creatures, and releases the bowstring.
MW Composite Longbow1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19; Damage1d8 + 2 ⇒ (5) + 2 = 7 I'll fire at the rightmost manticore. A -4 penalty due to the increased range (3 range increments distance) has already been factored into the above attack roll.