By the time Francis gets to his feet, the lizardfolk have fled, much to his chagrin. He roars in frustration and starts to charge after them but Chest Thumper catches his upper arm as he runs past and (though he is almost knocked off his feet by his brother's momentum) manages to halt him.
"Let them run," he says after regaining his balance from being shoved by the big ape.
He receives an indignant growl in return.
"Because we won and I don't want to try chasing them through the jungle when they can shoot us."
Francis looks at him dubiously then turns to where their enemies disappeared and rises on his hind legs, towering over Chest Thumper. He pounds his chest and roars his victory before turning and going to all fours to wander back to the rest of the group.
Chest Thumper is pleased to see that the rest of the Papaya Knights have dealt handily with the big lizard. Given its regenerative abilities, it might be able to grow back those limbs in a month or two. If it had the time. Much more likely is that it will be easy prey for some scavengers and will suffer the whole time.
He watches Pious end the creature's suffering in silent approval.
He gives Vedic's rant all the answer he thinks it deserves.
He squats near where Iradyiel is slaughtering the lizard and alternates between watching him work and the approaching halflings.
Francis watches the approaching halflings, rising up on his back legs again but Chest Thumper soothes and coaxes him into calm. Realizing that he wasn't going to get to fight again, the ape wanders a few yards away and flops down on his back, wiggling and rolling until he has made the grass under him nice and soft. He is snoring, pretty soon.
Chest Thumper looks at the arrow wound in his side. He decides it will be healed enough after a good night's sleep and saves his divine power in case it is needed later.
He plucks a piece of grass and uses it to pick at his teeth as he waits and watches.
Aza sits back, breathing heavily from the rough encounter and setting the wand back into her robes. It had been a fight with a lot of rough starts and close calls, but everyone had come out all right - she hadn't even been struck, somehow. But the field had proved to be a test of the Papaya Knight's tactical abilities that they had been less than prepared for. Even as Vedic spoke, however, she tried to shrink away, shaking her head - the oracle did not want to be a point of contention, here. While she did feel somewhat responsible for the assault on the elf, she didn't want anyone thinking they needed to protect her or that she was some kind of liability.
"I-I'm just glad we're all okay," she mutters. "I am s-s-s... apologize for your wounds, Vedic, I thought that my spell would've... " She shakes her head. "In any case, I don't th-think any of us have been in a combat scenario like this before." Sniffling, she looks up at the others - Iradyiel, Chest Thumper, Pious, Francis - and smiles slightly. "Just a short time ago, I do not think we would've had the capacity to defeat such a beast... I am pr-r-roud of us. And next time we will do even better!" Examining Vedic to make sure he carries no further wounds, she stands and brushes herself off to go look over the wounds of the others, making sure they are all healthy, she gives the slightly smoking corpse of the lizard a bit of a berth. Afterwards, she picks her staff up off the ground, and leans heavily on it, considering the halflings moving towards them. Hopefully this encounter would go better than their last one...
"My wounds are certainly not your fault, Aza. I am ultimately responsible for my own safety." Vedic was still looking at Pious, who seemed to be ignoring him. "I will be far more focused on that fact in the future."
It takes a while for the two Song’o halflings to approach, partly because of the distance they need to cover from the baobab tree, partly due to caution on their part as they near the Papaya Knights. Once they get within 50’ or so they stop and, sitting on their haunches, they observe the group warily. They watch Francis snoozing, or appearing to snooze, nestled against the rain in the long grass; they observe the tension between Pious and Vedic; they watch Iradyiel hard at work, arms deep in gore, skinning the giant frilled lizard.
One of the halflings speaks up, " Longflanks - sikubingelela ngesidumbu sesitha esivamile. Asihlose ukulimaza - ngempela, sibonga ngokufika kwakho. Leso silo " here he gestures at the lizard " besibe sesilandela kusukela ezinsukwini ezimbili, sigcine singabuyi kusuka emzaneni waseCashill. Silahlekile kakade iThai'o, futhi sesilimale ababili. Ubulale lesi silo - sinesikweletu sokubonga. " He looks at his fellow hunter, U-Er, wena longflanks ukhuluma uNgoma, yebo? ""
Iradyiel, give me a survival roll to see what kind of job you make of skinning the lizard. How much skin are you looking to tke? It’s a big animal and uncured hide is quite cumbersome, not to mention it attracts the flies. What do you have in mind?
Anyone watching the behaviour of the Song’o can give me a sense motive check. CT and Aza can roll at +2 given that they were giving the halflings their undivided attention.
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survival: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (16) + 7 = 23 rolled a 15 earlier, started skinning more to be doing something in game. Let’s assume he is skinning to get to the meat. He will offer the hide to the halflings. Probably will not keep much of it, enough for a belt or scabbard.
While the halflings drew near, Iradyiel nods his head in agreement with Aza and speaks to Vedic in elvish. ”एक बुद्धिमान व्यक्ति ने एक बार कहा। "हर कोई एक योजना है, जब तक वे हिट हो।" चीजें नियोजित नहीं हुईं हालांकि, हम बेहतर कर देंगे। मुझे लगता है कि भविष्य में, बेहतर संचार महत्वपूर्ण होगा।"
Then when the Halflings called out Iradyiel, waves to them, calling out. ”Siyajabula ngokuthi sikwazi ukusiza. Sikhathazekile ukuzwa ngokulahlekelwa kwakho. I abantu bahlasele nathi. Woza uhlanganyele nathi, kukhona inyama eningi, kanye nalesi sigqila esihle uma uthanda. Ngabe ufuna ukwazi uMuzuzuzi? Wahamba nathi okwesikhashana, kodwa washiya ngaphambi kwesiphepho esikhulu. Uke wambona? Ingabe ulungile?”
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
Pious steps towards the halflings, once more hands outstretched and sword sheathed. In a load, slow voice, as if that would aid understanding he begins
"I am a humble shepherd. Hand of my God who walks among us walk my path and know him. And as that hand I have delivered and shall again Doth not we bind together with darkness for we are all of the light."
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13
Chest Thumper squats on his haunches, his hands empty as he continues to watch the halflings approach. He lets Pious and Iradyiel talk, mostly the latter as he seems to be able to speak and understand their language.
He is glad to see them coming. The whole point of the last engagement, rather than just running from the lizardfolk was to gain these little people's trust.
Then again, if his time since coming here has taught him anything, it is that this jungle is dangerous and there's no telling who or what might want to kill you so he watches the Song'o carefully for any sign of duplicity.
Sense Motive plus Close Watching: 1d20 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (16) + 4 + 2 = 22
” Ah, ukhuluma uNgoma! Kakhulu kabi, kodwa ungathethelelwa lokho. Kusuka ku-accent yakho ngilindele ukuthi ufunde kwenye ye-Ekujae?
Like all of the Song’o, the speaker has nut-brown skin, minimal clothing, and several facial piercings. He appears to be in his mid thirties, with a developing paunch and an impressive scar up his right side. Once confident of an audience that can understand him he speaks quickly and in a lilting voice, but behind the sociable chatter it is clear he is nervous and wary of the party, or the ‘longshanks’ as he refers to you. ”Sikubukile esihlahleni. Walwa kahle, mhlawumbe ubuwula. Ube nesabelo somsebenzi wosuku, mhlawumbe. Sasicabanga ukuthi isilwane sasinakho ekugcineni. Futhi yimiphi imilingo! Isihlahla sagubha lapho amadwala ehla. Ngumuphi kini obangele lokho? Ngisho noZaahku, noma uyise wakhe ngaphambi kwakhe, angenza lokho. Kuhlaba umxhwele kakhulu. Igama lami nguMawibi. Kwangathi ubusuku bungangabi ubuhlobo bethu. Lapha nguJunubi”
The other Song’o accompanying Wa’wibi, a younger female clutching a shortbow and glowering with a mix of fear and suspicion, looks up at the mention of her name. She fingers the notched arrow nervously, her gaze flitting about the party but returning often to the figure of the big ape slumped in the grass.
It is at this point that Pious interrupts with his scriptures. There is a pause, with only the rain filling an embarrassed silence between the two groups. Wa’wibi stares at the big man with alarm, but recovers his composure, hesitantly bows, then continues talking to Iradyiel “Ukhuluma ngoMuzuzuzi - leli igama engaziwa kimi. Umzala womyeni wami wesibili - umzingeli osemncane e-Marimbe's troupe. Angikwazi ukucabanga ukuthi uzokwazi kanjani ngaye, futhi akuthole kungakacabangi ukucabanga ukuthi uzohamba nawe. Ingabe uqinisekile ukuthi yi-Song'o oyibhekisela kuyo? Sigwema inkampani yezivakashi. Ungumsindo kakhulu ehlathini ozibonayo. Uvame ukuletha inkathazo ezithendeni zakho, njengoba wenza namuhla.”
He gestures to the dead lizard, his eyes narrowing: ”Kungani ulandela iNgoma? Kungani uhola i-lizardfolk lapha? Futhi, kungani isikhwama salo singenawo? "
Whilst this is happening both Pious and CT watch carefully the body language of the two halflings. Both sense that they appear nervous and on edge, uncertain of the party and positioning themselves to flee if necessary. Pious’ senses tell him that whilst not immediately receptive to accept the teachings of Aroden, they would probably welcome His blessing in time; Chest Thumper senses that they appear tired and, in a stroke of inspiration, guesses that perhaps the Dika brandy might serve a purpose here to settle their nerves and make them more relaxed. If, that is, Francis can be persuaded to share.
Over by the big Baobab tree a couple more Song’o drop down from the huge trunk into the grasses below, and begin approaching cautiously over the open ground, shortbows readied.
Stepping away from the lizard, Iradyiel, answers the speaker. ” Ubaba uvela esizweni sase-Ekujae, wangifundisa ulimi lwabantu.” Nodding to Ma’wibi and Junubi, he smiles and returns the greeting. “Ngiyajabula ukuhlangana nawe Ma'wibi noJunubi. Kwangathi ubusuku bungangabi ubuhlobo bethu.”
Waiting as Pious speaks Iradyeil explains a little more. ” Muhdzuzi, yisona sizathu esikulandela. Sahlangana naye e-Fort Breakthrough. Lezi zinambuzane zazimlandele kanye neqembu lakhe lokuzingela lapho. Nguye kuphela owasinda. Abanye baboshwa. Sasiya emigodini ye-tar ukuze senze impi kubantu besikhumba. Sibone amathrekhi akho futhi sanquma ukukulandela ukubuza ukuthi ngabe uMuhdzuzi ubuyele ngokuphepha.”
Stepping away from the carcass he points toward it. "Ngokuqondene nomuntu wesilwane angiyazi ukuthi basilandela, noma bakulandela. Kungakhathaliseki ukuthi akunandaba, bafile manje. Woza uthole inyama bese ufihla uma uyifuna. "
Smiling he nods toward Aza. ” Wathola itshe lomlingo elenza amanzi.” He then gestures back the way they came. "Sizobuya ngendlela esize ngayo futhi siqhubeke sibheka abantu abayisiguli."
As he moves away from the giant lizard he starts checking the lizard-folk corpses for anything of value. Calling to his associates. ”The leader, Ma’wibi is Muhdzuzi’s distant cousin. They haven’t seen him. There glad we killed the lizard folk and were impressed with your magics. They want to be friends. I told them we would be headed back toward the tarpits to look for the Lizard folk villiage.”
GM AbyssDancer do you want a perception roll for looting the bodies?
”A pleasure to meet you Ma’wibi and Junubi. May the night not fall on our friendship.”
Muhdzuzi, is the reason we were following you. We met him at Fort Breakthrough. These lizard people had followed him and his hunting party there. He was the only survivor. The others were taken prisoner. We were going to the tar-pits to make war on the lizard people. We saw your tracks and decided to follow you to ask if Muhdzuzi had returned safely.”
“As for the lizard folk I don’t know if they were following us, or following you. Either way it doesn’t matter, they are dead now. Come get some of the meat and hide if you want it.”
”She found a magic stone that makes water. “
”We will return the way we came and continue looking for the lizard folk.”
Aza stays back, letting Iradyiel take the main bulk of conversation with the Song'o - not knowing much about their culture herself, she is worried about saying the wrong thing and setting them off. Still, she bites her lip as Iradyiel summarizes the conversation. "Can you ask th-them about if they have any idea where the l-lizardfolk might keep prisoners?"
Chest Thumper has not been around civilization enough to properly appreciate the restorative properties of alcohol. He'd enjoyed their revelry at Jheri's plantation but was not tempted to make it a habit.
Still, the halflings looked like they could use a good drink. He would have hated to be chased by that big lizard for who knows how long, especially with a wounded comrade.
Francis proves to be not as asleep as he seems and gives an indignant growl as Chest Thumper scoops up the small keg from the ape's side. He even gets up on all fours. Before he can go farther, the half-orc pours some of the liquid into the ape's cupped hands, letting him drink it as he walks away.
By the time he gets near the halflings, Francis has settled back into his temporary nest. Chest Thumper does not get too close to the Song'o but leaves the keg between the two parties then goes back near the slain lizard, settling on his haunches again to watch the exchange.
"Are the lizardfolk attacking their people, too?" he asks.
Assuming Iradyiel translates for you, I’ll ditch the Zulu translation in this post…
”Marimbe’s troupe have been attacked as well? That is terrible news, and something we need to take back to Zaahku at Cashill village. My people have lived side-by-side with the Mireborn for hundreds of years – I cannot understand why they would act in this way. It is clear that Ma’wibi is deeply troubled by this, and he confers in a whispered voice with Junubi, before turning and waving back at the other members of his group. Turning back to Iradyiel he embraces his forearm. ”You have done us a great service today and we thank you, but we must head back to the village to share this news with the Elder, in case this Muhdzuzi has yet to return himself.”
Slowly the rest of the halflings make their way over to the party. One is limping with her left thigh bandaged with bloodstained wraps. All four of them look tired and travel worn, and it does not take them much encouragement to sit down and share in the keg of Diku brandy and take meat from the carcass of the dead lizard. Despite this, they keep themselves separate from the party, and are wary of sudden moves – the Song’o mistrust of their larger neighbors is deep-seated.
Ma’wibi quizzes Iradyiel for details of the massacre at Fort Breakthough. He seems particularly grateful for the respectful treatment of the Song’o dead in the pyre by the gate. When Aza’s question about where the lizardfolk might keep their prisoners is put to him, he snorts. ”You are newcomers to this jungle and ignorant of its ways. The lizard folk take prisoners for only two reasons – for their meat, and as trophies.” He gestures at the feathers and brightly coloured strips of animal hide attached to the lizard’s saddle; ”You mentioned six dead Song’o. Marimbe’s troupe was only seven strong. So no Song’o were taken alive. Any longshanks captured will certainly have been eaten, with their heads adorning the belts of the lizardfolk shamen, by now.” He sees this is not welcome news and adds ”I am sorry truly.”
There is a short silence as this news sinks in. He confers with Junubi briefly, then turns back to Iradyiel, ”I cannot tell you of whether the Mireborn have made other attacks on Cashill – but you are welcome to see for yourself. Visit us there and consult with Elder Zaahku – she is wise and can offer you knowledge of the Mireborn tribe.” He describes the location of Cashill detail added to the map and says, pointing at Chest Thumper and Francis, ”Have your two pet apes hoot three times at the edge of the village clearing and they will know you as friends. As for the tar pits, I know of the place. We call it the lizard boneyard. Large beasts from across the jungle go there at the end of their days to die. It is a spiritual site for the Mireborn, where they have gathered for many generations to venerate their ancestors. I don’t know whether they stay there all year.”
After an hour’s rest, the Song’o gather themselves to head back east to Cashill. Unless there is anything else you wish to ask them? Before they go, Ma’wibi pushes a small item wrapped in leather into the hand of Iradyiel as a token of thanks.
Aside from this, the party gathers little from their fallen foes. Aside from a few weapons and trinkets, the only notable items are a masterwork spear, a set of ebony and garnet dice, a spyglass, and 212 gp. On examination, the token from Ma’wibi is a tree feather token
Actions / reactions? Iradyiel there’s no need for a perception check for looting the dead.
No further questions, your Honor. Not for the halflings, at least. But for the party - where do we want to go? Continue to the tar pits or head to the halfling village? Or are we going to discuss in character?
None from me. IC Aza is still interested in learning about the lizardfolk, so the halfling village will be top of her list, but OOC I think either one will be productive.
The Song'o hunters cross the meadow and re-enter the tree line heading east back to Cashill village. Behind them the party discuss their options. It is late afternoon, and there is a good half a day's travel left before they should break camp, or they could rest up here under the Baobab for the night.
It's still bloody raining, btw.
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
After the conversation with the Song'o's finishes, and they are preparing to leave. Iradyiel, stops looting the bodies and approaches Ma’wibi Accepting the leather wrapped token. in polyglot "Thank you my friend, I will ask the others if we can follow you to speak to your Elder to learn more."
Waiving goodbye to their new friends, Iradyiel dumps the spear, dice and telescope near the half-skinned carcass. "The Song'o leader didn't know much about the lizard tribe called 'Mireborn' other than they would have eaten any prisoners. But he invited us to visit them and ask their elder for more information. I assume we can just follow them."
He then unwraps the leather gift, revealing some kind of feather. "Can anyone tell what the gift is?"
He nods at the gear that he found and then the carcass. "Does anyone want the spear or dice or telescope. They all seem in good repair. I will take some of the meat and wrap it in a little hide. We should cook it tonight so it doesn't spoil, hopefully we can get a good fire in all this rain."
Iradiel cuts a large chunk from a flank and wrapping it in a piece of hide, he hefts it onto his shoulder and when the others are ready, begins to follow the Song'o's back toward Cashill.
with your permission, the piece of hid would be about 3 ft square. enough for a belt, or strap or a pouch. Not a lot, just a momento. After all, he did roll a 23 :-)
"I think talking to the Song'o Elder is a good idea. It does not seem like they know much about what is happening but maybe they noticed a change in their neighbors recently or some past event that might explain what is going on," Chest Thumper chimes in.
He hefts the spear. "I'll take this until we get some place to sell it," he says. "It may come in handy if we run into something else that wants to keep its distance."
He falls in line with Iradyiel when the half-elf moves out of the clearing. Francis remains for a bit, lazing about after his victory but not letting them get out of the clearing before getting up and catching up.
Chest Thumper will look for herbs and vegetables along the way to cook with the meat, dumping leaves and bark in with it each time they stop to form a sort of dry marinade.
Knowledge(Nature) Wild Chefing: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (3) + 9 = 12
The party gather their equipment, clean their weapons, and head off after the Song’o towards Cashill village. The route they have been told to take involves tracking back to the river by the first colony where they picked up the halfling’s trail, then following the river upstream for twenty miles into the foothills. Nestled in the centre of the foothills, they were told by Ma’wibi, is a marshy wetland from which several of the jungle’s rivers flow. In the centre of this marsh is the stilt-village of the Song’o.
The Papaya Knights make good time back to the river despite the fading light, re-cross it with minimal slipping or drama, and decide for to camp once more in the rock cleft near the site of the first colony. This means a short climb up the hillside for tired legs, but the advantages of a high and secluded camp against a rock face, away from the biting insects by the river, make the effort worthwhile. After an evening meal of well-cooked lizard steak and some discussion as to what use Iradyiel's skinned lizard-hide could be put to (Pious' suggestion of turning it into holy manuscript is not universally backed) a peaceful night passes without interruption from either mischievous fey spirits or stealthy Mireborn scouts.
In the morning, bellies full with a second helping of cold meats, the party once again sets off into the teeth of a buffeting wind, down the hillside to the river. There are a few game trails to follow running alongside river, which at this point is calf-deep, turgid and slow-moving, brown with leaf-litter and drifting branches dislodged by the storm. By the time the group stops to take a rest at lunch they have covered only 6 miles – it’s hard going through the jungle, and hard physical work hacking through undergrowth and backtracking around obstacles. All the time they are accompanied by the roaring of the wind above in the canopy, the unsettling creaks and groans of trees flexing in the storm, and the occasional rearing crash of tree limbs losing their fight with the storm.
After lunch the party discuss how to proceed through the forest ahead. The density of the foliage around the river banks is a problem: at the current rate the party will make slow progress and maybe not reach Cashill for another two days, and the heat and exertion of the trip are beginning to take a toll on everyone. There are two options; leave the river and circle round the more exposed higher ground to the north, or, given that the river here is broader and shallower, try to wade up the shallows mid-river avoiding the undergrowth. The former will be slower but more exposed, the later faster but wetter.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the non-stop rain is the fact that Chest Thumper has not had a dry meal in days. Although the meat is kept dry in its pouch, it is soaked almost as soon as it is taken out and definitely by the time he gets it to his mouth. Still, the lizard is surprisingly good. It might make a nice regular part of his diet were it not for the fact that he would be as likely to be a part of its diet.
He does not mention his dream to the others, assuming he was the only one who had it. When there is time, he is definitely going to return to this place to investigate further.
"We should move to the river. It will take us forever if we remain on the bank and we're all soaked through, anyway," he says when it becomes apparent to everyone of the difficulties of their trek and the potential solutions.
Aza: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (17) + 4 = 21
Iradyiel: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (3) + 4 = 7
ChestThumper: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
Francis: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (17) + 3 = 20
Vedic: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
Pious: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (13) + 3 = 16
Swarm!: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12
It’s a relief to get out of the undergrowth, with the exertion of cutting through vines and thick ferns and the constant caution that is needed to avoid disturbing the various (and often venomous) smaller beasts which make the foliage their home. Wading upstream through the shallows of the river is cooler, faster and takes less energy; before long the party’s mood has lifted considerably and conversation picks up.
That’s not to say that the river is free of peril; several of the group experience exploratory nips from unseen aquatic attackers during the afternoon, but without real consequence. Once Aza steps on something substantial underwater which then swims off from underneath her at lightning speed; no harm done bar a light soaking. And during a short stop to clamber around a fallen tree Vedic sights a six-foot long caiman with an armoured snout and lazy, sleepy but unblinking eyes shadowing the party nonchalantly from downstream; but this incident too resolves itself harmlessly. Vedic: what would have been your solution to the caiman?
It is much later, with maybe an hour before the day’s light will fade from the sky, as the party is beginning to think about making camp for the night, that the Papaya Knights are once more stopping to clear away a blockage mid-stream. A pair of slender palm trees have fallen across the river and over time an accumulation of leaves and other jungle detritus (including a sloth carcass, they are disgusted to see) have built up around. Using Pious’ and Francis’ combined strength one of the smaller branches is lifted to one side, and standing thigh-deep in the river, a flurry of floating leaves washes past the group as the barrier is cleared.
It is when Francis steps round the branch to allow the others past, that Chest Thumper and Iradyiel register red stains in the water, and looking up, see with horror that Francis’ black fur appears to be pitted, studded with wiggling black worms, hundreds of them – and dripping red with his running blood!
You are all standing thigh deep amid a twenty-foot wide river, and all within say 10 foot of Francis. The boughs of the jungle canopy hang low above you; those who are unarmoured might be able to climb out of the river with a DC20 acrobatics or climb check. Otherwise it’ll be a double move action to exit the river or a single move with a DC10 Strength check (DC12 if in medium armour) to exit without losing your footing and fall in.
Francis is covered in a leech swarm from the waist down – all of which is currently underwater. He has suffered 9 HP damage already, has lost 1 STR and 1 CON from blood loss, needs to take pass a DC15 FOR check or be nauseated, and a DC15 FOR check vs poison or lose 1d4 DEX.
Round 1 Initiative:
Francis, Aza, Pious may act, then the enemy, then everyone else. The swarm on Francis will be sticking to him whatever (they’re leeches) so don’t hold off your posts waiting for their action.
Due to the nature of leeches, there is no pain so Francis' first indication that something is wrong is that he feels a subtle but distinct weakness. He gives a confused, annoyed grunt and shakes his head to try to clear the feeling.
It isn't until someone notices the cause that he looks down at himself. It is then that the other Papaya Knights will be reminded that Francis, though wearing armor, is a beast.
Unlike each other threat that he has faced, Francis does not fly into a rage and start flailing around. Instead, he gives a pathetic hoot and looks at the others he's traveling with helplessly and pleadingly.
He then climbs out of the water to get away from the little creatures that are draining the life from him.
Fort Save vs. Nausea: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (19) + 2 = 21
Fort Save vs. Dex Loss: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (3) + 2 = 5
Vedic idly ran through strategies while they trudged along through the river. Were he alone that Caiman might have been an issue if it were hungry.
A tanglefoot bag, I think. Then, while it was slowed down, finding terrain it could not reach. Any nearby tree would suffice. At that point it would simply be a matter of letting Array pepper it with frost rays until it died or left.
Conserving spell power is the important thing. As much as I might like to overwhelm every obstacle with sheer firepower, that may leave me unprepared for a later encounter.
With my new allies, my strategy must change. They would likely not want to retreat to safety like I would. I have a feeling they would be far too brazen for such a tactic. My most powerful spells endanger them as well, so I may be reduced to rays of frost while Francis and Pious keep it busy.
He was still lost in thought when Francis' call alerted him to the leeches. The elf's eyes went flinty. He was unexpectedly angry at the disgusting creatures. Francis did not deserve this.
"Stand back. I'll clear the water"
Then he dipped his hands below the surface and unleashed a blast of frozen energy that supercooled the water in front of him. The abrupt change in temperature was like a bomb going off in the river.
Burning Hands altered to Cold damage, energy boost, rime spell: 6d4 + 1 ⇒ (4, 4, 1, 4, 2, 1) + 1 = 17
DC 17 reflex for 1/2. If the leeches take damage they are Entangled for 1 round.
As the spray of water was settling he backed up toward Francis, hoping the cold would slow the swarm enough that it could not move quickly.
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
"the devil's beasts live on the flesh of the devout, fire yourself lest you be taken.
Pious is visibly disturbed by the writhing mass attaching itself to Francis and scrambles to extricate himself from the water.
STR: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
In his haste to make his way out of the water he grabs a vine that turns out to be not quite so attached as he thought. The river water closes over his head as he falls backward and momentarily submerges.
As everyone turns to see the leeches covering Francis’ lower half and the many more swimming like black fingers just under the surface around him, their eyes instinctively sweep further down to the turgid muddy water at their own feet. As Francis wades downcast to the bank, Pious and Iradyiel lurch backwards and in their haste trip over hidden underwater roots and fall into the water. [occ]they are not prone, just still in the water[/ooc]
As Francis reaches the shallows the leeches on him and around him continue to feed, staining the water red with rivulets of his blood.
Francis suffers a further 9 HP damage, and losses another 2 STR and 2 CON from blood loss. He lost 2 DEX from the previous rounds poison effect and needs to take pass another DC15 FOR check or be nauseated, and another DC15 FOR check vs poison or lose 4 DEX.
With a terrific splintering and cracking sound, Vedic’ spell chills the river water, and frosts then partially freezes the surface. Scores of leeches are carried away by the river’s flow, embedded within frosted sheets of ice, and those that remain swim sluggishly deeper to escape the cold. As he edges forward towards the edge of the swarm and where Francis is climbing the bank, he partially lifts his spell’s focus to the water dripping off the ape’s thick fur and the hundreds of fat suckling creatures feeding there. Many drop off; others freeze solid, entombed within clumps of icy frozen fur.
The swarm takes 12 damage, with the bulk of its number remaining in the river ‘entangled’ ie half speed. I’m interpreting that as not being able to continue to attack Francis now he’s out of the water.
It is a relief that so far the blood in the water does not seem to have attracted other predators to the party. This may be because the presence of a leech swarm keeps them away…
Francis is on the nearest bank; Pious and Iradyiel are floundering in the water; everyone else is thigh-deep mid-stream.
Aza, CT have actions remaining.
Aza, Francis, Pious then the enemy
Chest Thumper moves to follow his brother once he sees what is happening. Even from here, he can see that Francis is in bad shape, the ape swaying on all fours and in obvious distress.
Fortunately, it seems the leeches have been deterred from him and he is safe from those that remain. Still, he needs help.
The half-orc rushes toward him.
Strength Check to hurry out of the water: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (6) + 2 = 8
Like the other Papaya Knights, he has just as much trouble, getting tangled up in underwater weeds and roots. He looks apologetically at Francis.
Francis does little but try to recover from the assault from the mass of tiny creatures.
Fort Save vs. Nausea: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (10) + 1 = 11
Fort Save vs. Poison: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (19) + 1 = 20
Sorry for the delay, responding to this got away from me...
Aza struggles to contain something between a gasp and a whimper as she sees the sudden appearance of the swarm of parasites in the lake - she was no stranger to crawling things at this point, and hacking it across the river delta had taught her that she would have to deal with stuff like this at some point. However, the sudden appearance and number of them was shocking, and she felt herself freeze for just a moment. The cracking of ice on the lake pulls her out of her stupor quickly, however, and she knows she needs to act fast. With Francis temporarily out of danger, she takes a cue from Vedic and delivers a blast of fire (which is much less impressive than Vedic's freezing hands) towards the leeches sifting through the water.
Burning Hands, DC15 Ref: 3d4 ⇒ (3, 3, 1) = 7
Aza, now on the backfoot, leaves the leaches to the stronger mage and attempts to scramble out of the water to try and deliver some comfort to Francis, but after seeing so many attempts and failures from her party members, decides to take her time. She still clambers out swiftly after closely looking for hand and footholds that wouldn't immediately give out, and she rolls onto the shore, preparing her nearly depleted wand. "I'm sorry, I'm s-s-sorry..." she mutters.
Double move to get out of the water.
All of a sudden the big ape’s eyes roll up and he collapses, rolling round the tree trunk he was leaning on and slumping over backwards into the undergrowth. Aza is nearby and reaches out for him; he’s barely conscious and bleeding heavily, his fur encrusted with clumps of frozen reddened ice and leeches.
I misread Francis’ HP before – he drops after reaching the bank after the second round of swarm damage. He started on 17 HP, suffered -9 and -9 damage, and -6 damage from going from CON 10 to CON 7 x 3HD. Right now he’s on -7 HP and 7 CON. Technically he should be dead. Seeing as how I failed to flag this I’ll give one more round to get aid to him before he bleeds out.
In the water the rest of the party flounder, trying to reach the bank whilst the leech swarm recovers from Vedic’s icy blast. CT, Iradyiel and Pious are all in the shallows where they fell, Vedic a little further mid-stream. Despite Aza and Vedic’s twin attacks, there are still many hundreds of leeches active and hungry beneath the water, and it is Iradyiel who next suffers their bloodlust. As he stumbles up from his slip one arm comes up alive with the thick black parasites and dripping red – others have fastened onto his calves and back, and he can feel them wriggling inside his armour.
Iradyiel suffers 8HP damage and -2 STR -2 CON (causing a further -3 HP for a total of -11 damage), and needs to make a DC15 FOR check or be nauseated and a DC15 FOR check vs poison or lose 1d4 DEX.
Guys I’m interpreting the impact of the ‘entangled’ condition on the swarm like this: whilst entangled by the rime effect the leeches are sluggish and less mobile. They can move at half speed to attack in the water, but won’t stick i.e. follow anyone out of the water.
Pious, Iradyiel, Vedic, CT may act.
Aza and Pious may act but then Francis may die… The swarm then acts if anyone is still in the water.
It is fortunate for Chest Thumper that Iradyiel was closer to the blood sucking vermin than he was. Seeing Francis collapse absorbed the entirety of his attention and he wouldn't have even known he was being attacked until it was too late.
"No, no. NO!" he calls out, his voice growing ever louder with his denial.
He isn't even thinking as he tries to rush out of the water now. It's pure instinct that drives him to scramble up the bank and to his brother's side.
Strength Check to quickly get out of the water: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (4) + 2 = 6
His ardor works against him and he does not see a rock that twists under his foot. Though no one will be able to tell, when his face comes to the surface again, some of the water on it is not from the river but rather tears of frustration and despair.
Vedic was not a healer. He wished he was, but his strengths lay elsewhere. He unleashed another blast of frozen energy and then scrambled towards the edge of the water.
Rime Burning Hands, energy boost: 6d4 + 1 ⇒ (4, 1, 4, 2, 2, 2) + 1 = 16
Same as last time. DC 17 reflex for 1/2. Any damage means entangled for one round. (The swarm should still be entangled from last round, so that's a penalty to it's dex, and it's saves (which stack)
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
Pious sees Francis fall but is powerless to help the ape.
"That is not dead that can eternal lie."
None the less he scrambles up the bank to reach the ape's side.
Strength: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7 FFS!
And once again...
Strength: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
I genuinely think I feel worse about Francis being in this position than if it were Pious!
Aza spins the wand with little ceremony, speaking the activation word shakily to activate the healing within. "It's okay," she mutters, resting it gently on the unconscious ape's fur. "Not this year. N-not yet." The holy magic seeps out of the wand and into the beast's wounds, and though she could do nothing for his blood loss, she could hopefully stabilize him until they could get him some more powerful assistance.
Cure Moderate Wounds: 2d8 + 3 ⇒ (7, 2) + 3 = 12
round 2: -8/-11HP,-2 STR -2 CON -2 dex
fort: nausea: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (11) + 4 = 15
fort: poison: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 4 = 11
dex loss: 1d4 ⇒ 2
'Blast I can't believe I tripped over those branch... Attempting to stand from the shallow water, Iradyiel is attacked by the leeches.
"Ow!" He realizes the creatures have now began to feast on him instead of the poor ape. He feels not only weakened and drained but his coordination has been affected by some sort of poison. He again attempts to rush out of the water and trips again on a root, back into the leech infested water..
move action: stand up, Move action: attempt to get out, str. Check
str: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (7) + 3 = 10
The party pull themselves out of the water and regroup on the bank. Vedic is the last one out of the water, his legs caked in ice and his clothes frosted and stiff. Everyone has a few of the leeches embedded in their legs or arms, but initially at least their immediate attention focuses on the big ape. It is with huge relief that moments after the initial glow from Aza’s wand fades, a soft shudder shakes his frame and he begins breathing steadily once more. He’s still a mess – his fur is drenched in his own blood, and twists as if alive in places where leeches are still actively feasting within. His bulky frame remains spread-eagled over the tree roots by the bank as he recovers his senses. The Papaya Knight’s healing magics have once again saved the day – without it, it is not easy to imagine how one could have attempted cardiac massage on his broad barrel chest. This is the closest so far any one of them has been from the very grasp of Pharasma, and it is a sobering event.
Stripping off cold wet outer layers, the party seek out and carefully remove the remaining parasites from their bodies. Due to the anti-coagulant effect of each tiny bite, the party’s many wounds will seep blood for some time yet if not magically healed, soaking their clothes – something which is quite serious in a jungle full of hungry and alert predators both large and small.
Your call - you don’t have to heal up here, but unless the two who were leeched are fully healed and everyone else receives at least one heal spell, I will apply a phased modifier to your next random encounter roll. Of course that could leave you low on healing resources…
Peering back at the river, it appears that the breaking up of the fallen tree blocking the river, the river’s flow, and the repeated blasting with fire and cold has dispersed the swarm for now at least. Several dozen persistent black leeches have emerged from the river and sensing the noise and warmth nearby, inch their way along tree-roots towards the party. A few well aimed boots dispatch these. Shockingly, as the blockage breaks up you notice amid the fallen debris mid river is caught a shrunken and largely desiccated carcass of an eight-foot long oran-utan – either the cause of, or the first victim of, the leech swarm. It could easily have been you.
Looking at each other, none of the party feel quite happy to venture back into the river, and weariness takes its toll. One more night’s camping, and you should reach the location where you were promised Carshill village could be found. You hope for a warm welcome and good food but realistically a decent sized bed is too much to ask.
Give me your plans for one night’s camping out (watches etc) and any preparatory actions ahead of the next day.
Ability damage is slow to heal. You might want to consider a return to Pridon sometime soon to heal up and rest up. You recall Heri does a good line of restoration potions...
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Vedic shivered as he watched Aza and Chest Thumper take care of Francis. "He'll be alright?" was all he could think to say.
When it was clear Francis would live, Vedic turned his back on the group and shucked off his half-frozen clothing. Then he cracked open a flask of alchemist fire, slathered himself in it and lit himself on fire.
Fire Damage round 1: 1d6 ⇒ 6
Fire damage round 2: 1d6 ⇒ 4
Fire Resist 5 reduces the damage to 1. Any leaches on me are definitely dead.
After the initial rush of flame it was clear that Vedic was barely being singed. The flames faded after ten seconds or so. He seemed to take grim satisfaction with every sizzling pop that dropped a burning leech off of him.
While he burned he focused his will toward the pile of clothing and it began to steam, warming and slowly drying. Then he did the same to himself, his nude form streaked in black ash being washed away by the rain.
It was like a wave passed over him from head to toe, the ashes and grime simply dissolving into steam and fine dust carried away on the wind.
By the time he pulled his trousers, tunic and cloak back on he was still damp, but not dirty, soaked through or frozen any longer.
He turned back around, his hand glowing with faint energy. "Who's next?"
fort: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
dex loss: 1d4 ⇒ 1
'I don't feel very well.' Pulling himself from the leech infested water, Iradyiel plops down beside the party as they minister to Francis' needs. Stripping to his loincloth Iradyiel continues pulling leaches off of his legs and arms, shivering in the rain.
When Vedic asks 'who's next' Iradyiel raises his hand, "Master Vedic, I would appreciate some assistance, I don't feel very well at all."
"Don't move." Vedic said. His familiar began hovering about Iradyiel surgically removing leeches with short burst of icy energy.
While Array removed leeches, Vedic handled Iradyiel's clothing. By the time he was free of leeches his clothes were clean and mostly dry.
"I'm afraid I cannot do anything for your blood loss. All can do is make you reasonably comfortable."
He looked over to where Chest Thumper was grimly pulling leeches off of Francis. "May I help?" he asked.
Aza winces and a shiver runs up her spine as Vedic unexpectedly sets himself on fire - not that she would really blame him, especially after seeing what the leeches did to Francis (She had half a mind to scorch her own skin), but the image of her own father, engulfed in flames as the house was burning down around him... she simply turned away after it was clear that Vedic wasn't in any danger. Her own attitude to her leeches was to remain calm, feeling that if she panicked, she would be less effective. She sat a few steps away from the rest of them, trying to examine herself for any excess leeches without exposing herself too much - not that she cared too much, but even out here in the wild, a modicum of politeness and modesty went a long way (and moving away from the others gave them some privacy from her as well). It was a sickening process, but it seemed as though she hadn't gotten the worst of it, especially compared to those who had trouble struggling to get out of the river. Looking at the magical fountain they had procured, she wondered if perhaps they should return to Pridon after such an encounter... it might be prudent to give Francis and Iradyiel some extra attention. More than she could give.
Chest Thumper literally falls on Francis when the big ape starts breathing again. He wraps his arms around his brother's neck, hugging him tight and hiding his tears of relief by tucking his face into his fur, heedless of the dirt and stink and muck in it.
Eventually, Francis recovers enough to push him away, giving him a disapproving growl. The two of them start grooming each other, picking the leeches off each other. There is a vaguely comedic period when the two of them wrestle the ape out of his chain shirt to get at the ones under there, too. It's even harder because Francis has lost both vigor and agility.
"Any help would be appreciated. I don't think either of us want to be set on fire, though," he answers Vedic, stripping off his own garments.
Francis flops back down on the ground when he is not being directly addressed.
Chest Thumper touches him and channels the healing power of nature into his ape brother.
CLW: 1d8 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
"Master Iradyiel, can I help you with your wounds, as well?"