If everyone is willing for Vedic to go alone to inspect the ‘treasures’ Guughwa is offering for trade, the creature retreats sideways back into the water and floating at the surface, offers to give Vedic a ride on its hardened carapace across the pond into the cave behind the waterfall. Or, Vedic could instead take the longer route round, clambering over the rocks and mini-waterfalls at the back of the pond to arrive at the same place. If he accepts the ride, he gets an opportunity (if he wants to take it) to try to prise more information out of Guughwa about its history and experiences in this area over the last 90 years. This will need a DC12 Diplomacy check to succeed, but can be aided (+2) by a DC15 Bluff or Knowledge Planes check to flatter / impress Guughwa.
On arriving in the cave Vedic finds a surprisingly clean and dry area set aside for the display of Guughwa’s ‘treasures’. Several items are set artfully around the cave, shining in the bright light shimmering through the curtain of water at the front of the cave. Most surprising is a gold-leaf covered ruby encrusted harp, which emanates low level enchantment magics and softly plays to itself. It has an estimated value of 2,000 gp, provides a +2 bonus to performance:harp, can play itself, and can be used to cast Alarm and Charm Person once each per day). Beside this is a small black cauldron of brewing clearly of ancient heritage and not of Song’o construction; a masterwork warhammer and a masterwork suit of banded mail armour, both decorated with unknown heraldic devices but non-magical; a silver scroll case containing a scroll of breath of life; and a pair of steel vials containing an oil of make whole and a potion of darkvision.
Once Vedic is satisfied with his examination of these items (and Guughwa is watching him very carefully from the waterfall entrance, whilst simultaneously watching the rest of the party on the far side of the pond), he can make his way back to the others to discuss what he has seen. So: pot; harp; armour and hammer; scroll case; potions; information. Pick three…
I'm fine with a ride.
Vedic cast Message to establish a connection with the party, then calmly stepped up onto the monster's shell. He sat down cross-legged. "I would love to hear about your experiences here regarding where your treasures came from and what you have seen in your travels," Vedic said to Guughwa as he settled in.
Knowledge Planes: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (2) + 9 = 11
Diplomacy DC 12: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (9) + 2 = 11
Vedic sat for a while looking at each piece, deciphering their magical auras and writing, appraising their value, and listening to Guughwa talk about where they came from.
As he looked at each piece he relayed what he was seeing back to the group.
I'm in favor of taking the cauldron, the breath of life scroll, and the information. The harp is fancy, but seems undervalued for what it is made out of and it's enchantments. I think we would end up selling it anyway.
'Well while Vedic is gone we may as well take a seat.' Iradyiel sits down and starts to play with a stag beetle that he finds in the tall grass.
'What? Who? What?' When he hears Vedic's whisper, he quickly looks around. 'Oh that's right, Vedic uses magic.' Placing his index fingers to his temples, he stares the direction that Vedic went and squints. Thinking real hard, but not actually saying the words. 'The hammer sounds nice, does it look like it will work better than the club my dad made me? Oh who am I kidding, even if it's nicer I would still use the club my dad made. I don't think I can read the scroll. Get the harp, we could let it sing to use while we walk through the woods."
When finished sending his telepathic thoughts to Vedic, he breaths a heavy sigh of relief and continues playing with the bug.
Chest Thumper watches Vedic and Guughwa depart with more than a little trepidation. Reasonable as the strange thing seems to be, he wonders if it wouldn't have been safer to just follow Pious' instincts and slaughter it. There was always the chance it was just luring them into a false sense of safety before springing some trap.
He is not quite ready to sit down, but squats on his haunches with his axe across his knees. Ready to spring into action, though likely not effective action, if necessary.
He is relieved when he hears Vedic's telepathic communication.
I think the cauldron and the information is a must. The harp seems interesting and might make it easier to camp since we won't have to set watches but I can see the benefits of the scroll, as well. None of the rest of the items are of any interest to me. I'll leave the decision between the two to the rest of you, he sends through the link.
Francis also finds a beetle while they wait. He watches Iradyiel curiously and mimics him for a time, but then gets bored and eats it.
Aza sits cross-legged on the ground as she watches the creature swim away with Vedic, nervous - but the unspoken communication hits, and she lets out a breath of relief, responding in king. Agreed, the only choice is between the harp and the scroll... the cauldron is our obligation and whatever information she has might be very useful. Both can be of use to us, but the scroll might be a better choice if one of us were to fall in battle... and I believe that I could utilize it if necessary.
Meta-wise, if we sold the harp we could probably actually buy almost two breath of life scrolls as-is.
Retrain into this archetype, boost int to above 3 so he can get skill focus (perform (strings)) as a feat, boosts charisma so he's even more charming, and pick up Eldritch Heritage (We've gotta get him a +cha headband, still) for the maestro bloodline. He's already got opposable thumbs... Bingo, Francis the bard <3
"Please try to keep within a hundred feet of me or we will risk losing communication." he said after he'd explained the whisper link. His voice seemed to come from just behind their ears.
OK, I forgot that Vedic explained the whisper link and was imagining that Iradyiel didn't know what it was, thus the 'mind reading/telepathy' thing. So as a player I was assuming that he was ignorant and no one heard him.
Iradyiel thinks the harp would be 'neat.' But lets face it, the scroll would be more beneficial now. Also, unless GM AbyssDancer plans to extend the game significantly, I don't think we will get anywhere we can spend the kind of money to make it worth while to tote the harp around. Just a thought.
but I love the idea of Chest Thumper trying to teach Francis to play the harp :-)
unfortunately, I vote scroll, pot, information
Sounds like we have most of a consensus so I'm going to roll with it to keep us moving. I agree that the harp is worth almost two scrolls, but we'd need to lug it somewhere that we can sell it, and also hope they have Breath of Life scrolls on hand.
"The Cauldron, the scroll, and the information you offered are my choices," Vedic told Guughwa.
Guughwa sighs, a long clattering exhalation from between its mandibles, and rocks gently from side to side. ”This one must say it is releaved to retain the harp; its music has provided much pleasure over years.” Approaching the silver scroll case and the blackened cauldron, it spits out an initially small but rapidly growing sphere of clear water, which adheres to, then engulfs the two items from their rocky shelves. Retreating back to the cave entrance with these items clutched under its armoured chin, it sinks back into the water and offers Vedic a lift back to the rest of the party.
Once back on the opposite bank, Guughwa deposits the two items unharmed on the rocks by the pool, and retreats back to the waterline expectantly awaiting the silver platter. ”An exchange of gifts first, and only then Guughwa shares resplendent experiences.” it chitters, still keeping several eyes out for Pious. Assuming that there is no duplicity here and that the platter is passed over…”Ahh, my home, my home,” croons the beast as it lifts the dish high and allows the waters to cascade over its shell and limbs, ”Long have I waited for a sweet taste of the spawning grounds…” It takes some minutes of clattering and gurgling before any sense can be obtained from the delighted crustacean.
Eventually, it settles down and, with the platter clutched securely under its shell, it turns to the matter at hand. ”Much have I seen and witnessed; of what would you hear?” It looks at the party assessing them, blinking. ”Guughwa should start at the beginning, 90 years ago, when grazing peacefully on silken seagrasses on another plane… There ensures a long and tedious extoling of the beauty and culture of Gugghwa’s home on the elemental plane of water, culminating in a description of how the creature was plucked in an instant from that place and deposited in the jungles of Saargava, in a terrifying storm of towering intensity and power. ”Devastated was the jungle and death and destruction was scattered across the region, but after a time, the storm lost power, and dissipated, leaving Guughwa stranded on these strange shores, alone. Do you not grieve for the cruelty?”
After a few more red herrings and pointless diversions, Guughwa mentions a name the Papaya Knights have heard before: the Storm Kindlers ”It was all their doing. The storm, the devastation. Little do they care for those impacted by their meddling. A deranged cult of Gozreh, betrayed by one of their own to serve a new master, summoning elemental powers beyond their own control. They had fled from the far north to these shores, settled a colony then built a great pyramid temple in the jungle from where their rituals were conducted. All were killed many years ago, their temple ruined and overgrown, their magics dormant ever since. For 90 years Guughwa has not tasted their taint, their pollution, since. ” Looking up at the sky, Guughwa waves one claw at the huge storms brewing on the far eastern horizon, ”No longer. Malign elemental powers are in motion once more. Storms are gathering. Time to go. Time to seek new waters, new tales, new tastes for Guughwa, far away from here.”
Looking up at the party, Guughwa shifts on her flippers. ”Happy? Guughwa is pleased with trade. Is pleased to have met, but pleased to be leaving.”
Any questions for the beast before it leaves (with the rest of its belongings? Feel free to attempt a Sense Motive or perception check whilst listening to its tale. After, where do you want to head? Any questions for the Song'o guides who brought you here? Over to you…
I forgot that the Song'o were here with us. We should probably clue them in to what is going on.
Sense Motive: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (18) + 6 = 24
Vedic listened carefully, trying to get a measure of the truth, validity, and bias of the tale.
"Why wait until now to leave?"
'What an interesting story.' Iradyiel stops playing with the bug and listens intently to the story. as Guughwa gets ready to leave, Iradyiel stands to bid the creature goodbye. "It was a good story Guughwa, I'm glad we didn't have to kill each other. Could you tell us where the pyramid temple is?"
Chest Thumper grows somewhat bored during the lengthier parts of the story. The creature simply rambles on about some things that don't seem the least bit important to the narrative. But there are kernels of important information sprinkled in there as well. It was certainly worth the trade.
"You said the cult was betrayed by one of their own to serve a new master. Who was that new master?" Chest Thumper asks.
"Good luck and I hope you eventually find a way home," he says, once it answers their follow up questions.
He has a bone to pick with their guides and will pass over the cauldron, as requested. He is limited in his ability to communicate with them, since he doesn't speak polyglot.
[b]"Here is your cauldron and Guughwa is leaving. We cannot afford to alienate potential allies but I do not appreciate being a tool in a feud if you have tried to double cross someone," he says.
"Why wait until now to leave?"
Guughwa tilts its head at Vedic and pauses for a moment, clicking its pincers; ”Loss of pot caused much searching for thief. Then, selection of moment to seize it back. Finally, hope to restore Song’o respect. Now, new waters beckon” It clutches the platter lovingly.
"It was a good story Guughwa, I'm glad we didn't have to kill each other. Could you tell us where the pyramid temple is?"
Guughwa’s eyes flicker at this question. ”North of here, lost in deepest jungle. Ask Song’o chief. Or Mireborn lizardfolk. Guughwa keeps to the waters, travel through jungle is difficult when tojanida-shaped”
"You said the cult was betrayed by one of their own to serve a new master. Who was that new master?"
Guughwa shakes his head, ”Strom Kindlers worshipped Gozreh. Yet this storm, and that storm of 90 years ago, both grossly unnatural. A malign presence which angers Gozreh; stings of poisoned waters. Dark elemental powers are here.”
After, back with Mudhzuzi and the Song’o guides
"Here is your cauldron and Guughwa is leaving. We cannot afford to alienate potential allies but I do not appreciate being a tool in a feud if you have tried to double cross someone,"
Returning to the rafts you arrived in, you meet Mudhzuzi halfway. He has clearly been observing the Papaya Knights from a distance. It does not take a sense motive check to sense him looking sheepish at CT’s tone, but it is not clear whether this is because his spying has been detected, or if he is wary of what Guughwa might have told of the pot’s true history. On receiving the pot, he clasps the cauldron with both hands, a look of avarice in his eyes. In polyglot: “Thank you, thank you - ahh once again you have proved you are a friend indeed to the people of Cashill. You have no idea how valuable this pot has been for the Song’o people – in the months before it was stolen from us, we were able to mix such antivenoms, healing medicines, and the fabulous dreaming draughts which give such visions – we have been lost without it. We should have hidden it more carefully from the monster. It now is ours again! and the beast it is moving away too? I regret you did not kill it - it had… er I suppose it had ... such treasures in its possession! Erm…still… You are heroes indeed ! The village and Zaakhu will want to sing your praises! You must come back to Cashill and accept our thanks !” He returns to the other Song’o, hooting and cheering with the cauldron held high above his head like a trophy.
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
As Guughwa returns with Vedic, Pious looks around incredulously, it is clear the situation is hopeless. Stepping forward he points his sword at the creature, but there is no threat there anymore.
"I am no fool, abhorrent. But know this, a man is only as strong as the ground he stands upon"
He looks pointedly around at the other papaya knights
"I am the Lord's servant in all things. I am your doom freak, but not this day. Should our paths cross once more you will not leave with your spirit in this plane. Guunghwa I name the thrice damned, you are damned by your nature, damned by your actions, and damned by the word of Aroden's mortal sword. I shall not hear your words nor partake of your 'gifts,' they are tainted with the blood of the innocent. Never again shall my hand be stayed to inaction by the cowardice of others."
With that the filthy lunatic storms off into the jungle, slashing at vines and crashing through the undergrowth. As the group head back to the Song's and the raft they soon find Pious sulking on a fallen tree just out of earshot of the pool.
Apologies for my inactivity, I have been following but in all honesty have been a little at a loss as to what to do. Hopefully this is an acceptable compromise for all.
Vedic passed the scroll case to Aza, sharing a subtle eye-roll at Pious' condemnation of Guughwa.
Back at the Song'o camp he said little, becoming a wizardly introvert again.
Not sure how long we will be with the Song'o. I'll be using as much of that time as possible to scribe more spells from the spellbook we found.
sense motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (6) + 1 = 7
’Oh no!’ Stepping forward as Pious starts to speak, Iradyiel breaths a sigh of relief when the mad swordsman storms off. ’At least I didn’t have to tackle him.’
Nodding his head as Guughwa explains about the pot and the location of the pyramid, He waives as they leave. Iradyiel follows Chest Thumper, back to the guides. Looking at his friends a little surprised, first at Chest Thumper, then at the Song’o’s, he tells Mudhzuzi In Polyglot ”The creature’s name was Guughwa. He said the Song’o’s gave him the pot many years ago, then took it when he was asleep. That is why he took it back. I don’t know if that is true or not, but why would he lie? Why would you want him dead if he is leaving? It doesn’t matter now, we traded him a very valuable item, so you could have your pot back. He is happy, you are happy. Now we need to find the Lizards and the cause of the storms. so let us return. One question though, Guughwa said there was a pyramid north of here, can you show us or tell us where it is?”
As he moves toward the raft, seeing Pious sulking on the fallen tree, Iradyiel frustrated, calls out pointing his club at the man. ”Master Shepard, do not mistake kindness, compassion or compromise for cowardice. I thought you of all people would desire truth more than anything else.”
Mudhzuzi appears to absorbed by his impromptu celebrations of the cauldron’s return to address Iradyiel’s questions about the Song’o tribe’s relationship with Guughwa a better sense motive roll might conclude he was being evasive. On the question of the pyramid, Mudhzuzi and the others appear more genuinely confused. They don’t admit to any direct knowledge of a lost pyramid in the jungle, nor of any other lost structures; Mudhzuzi simply repeated that ”Elder Zaakhu will know”
The halflings gleefully escort the party back to Cashill village – their last view of Guughwa is of the crustacean crooning and chattering to itself, heading back to its cave, the platter held high above its head. After a frustratingly long time poling through fetid bog water, the Papaya Knights return to Cashill and are welcomed as heroes once more. From the triumphant attitude of villagers, and the whoops of joy from those emerging from the village longhouses, anyone would expect that the halflings had themselves recovered the cauldron by force from a fierce foe. In truth, the party feel somewhat excluded from the celebrations – certainly Cashill is less welcoming than Pridon and more parochial and native in its practices.
After a period Elder Zaakhu requests the party join her in her longhouse. She thanks the party profusely for their assistance in returning the cauldron, which she assures them was definitely a Song’o heirloom unjustly stolen by Guughwa. Asked about whether it had ever been given to the creature, or stolen back, she also seems evasive or disdainful of any direct answer, and instead breaks into a longwinded speech praising the party to her tribe, and naming them friends of Cashill, ”An honour few longshanks have ever been granted,” she claims. She hails the generosity of Cashill to its allies, and in appreciation of their help overcoming ‘the terrible beast’, presents them with a gift: a single scroll of mirror image, plus an ebony wand of cat’s grace (8 charges) in gratitude. She finishes her speech with an overly-obvious, ”And when will you be leaving – tonight or first thing tomorrow?” It is clear that Elder Zaakhu would rather the Papaya Knights moved on, and the village returned to its peaceful isolation.
Reminded that she had promised to share what information she had on the Mireborn, she somewhat reluctantly calls over one of her more experienced scouts, and shares what she knows of lizardfolk in general, and the Mireborn in particular.
Lizardfolk are proud and powerful reptilian predators that make their communal homes in scattered villages deep within swamps and marshes. Uninterested in colonization of the dry lands and content with the simple weapons and rituals that have served them well for millennia, lizardfolk are viewed by many other races as backwater savages, but within their isolated communities lizardfolk are actually a vibrant people filled with tradition and an oral history stretching back to before humans walked upright.
Most lizardfolk stand 6 to 7 feet tall and weigh 200 to 250 pounds, their powerful muscles covered in scales of gray, green, or brown. Some breeds have short dorsal spikes or brightly coloured frills, and all swim well by moving with flicks of their powerful 4-foot-long tails. While completely at home in the water, they breathe air and return to their clustered mound-dwellings to breed and sleep. As their reptilian blood makes them sluggish in the cold, most lizardfolk hunt and work during the day and retreat to their homes at night to curl up with other tribesmen in the shared warmth of large peat fires.
Though generally isolationist in approach, lizardfolks’ standoffish demeanor, staunch rejection of civilization’s “gifts,” and legendary ferocity in battle cause them to be viewed negatively by most humanoids. These traits stem from good reasons, however, as their own slow rate of reproduction is no match for warm-blooded humanoids, and those tribes who don’t defend their wetland territories to the last breath quickly find themselves overwhelmed by the mammalian hordes. As for their tendency to consume the bodies of dead friends and enemies alike, the practical lizardfolk are quick to point out that life is hard in the swamp, and nothing should go to waste.
As regards the Mireborn specifically, she says that “The lizardfolk are our closest neighbours in the area. They come to the region now and then to fish and bury their dead, but haven’t journeyed this far south in quite some time. They’re territorial and stubborn, but until recently were always willing to trade. My scouts say they recently lost their territory to a boggard tribe north of the river, and were licking their wounds... probably why they so angrily attacked the camp of that Longshank woman from Pridon’s Heath last year, killing her guards and scattering their equipment when the group neared one of their old winter sites.”
Asked about the Storm Kindler temple that Guughwa referred to, Elder Zaakhu dismisses her hunters and addresses the party alone. Dropping her voice, she says that; ” My grandfather used to tell scary stories of the Storm Kindlers who arrived in the delta when he was still a child—some sort of Gozreh cult as he recalled, but selfish and rude and arrogant. He claims they bred storms like other tallfolk breed dogs. They built a small village nearby, and later constructed a temple in the Jungle of Hungry Trees. The entire cult vanished in an enormous storm before my grandfather had grown his first whisker, though, and I have upheld his order to let the ruin rest in peace, wherever it may be...” Elder Zaakhu tells you that though the Song’o worship Gozreh, they consider the Storm Kindlers heretical and dangerous. She claims not to know the location of the Sky Tempest Temple, and to have taken great pains to keep the rest of her people from seeking it out or recording its location if they stumble across it. “If anyone knows of the Temple’s location, it would be the Mireborn themselves. You could seek out their old and injured at their old burial ground north of here. They may have information for you.” An idea occurs to her, ”Would you like to leave now, tonight? We would be sad to see you leave, of course, but there’s no need to delay!” Outside the noise of rejoicing halflings has escalated – from the smell and the crowds high-pitched laughter, the first use of the reclaimed cauldron seems to have been to brew some variety of herbal intoxicant…
I’ve hand-waved the return to Cashill, but don’t let me skim past anything you still want to do in the village. Do you have any other questions for Elder Zaakhu? Anything else you want to achieve? Once you are done here, you will need to come to a decision as where next head next.
Should you wish to cash in your treasures and re-equip, don’t feel averse to returning to Pridon. There’s something to be said for scaling up equipment and stocking up on consumables. If necessary the Song’o would be prepared to escort you most of the way down the coast in canoes.
"We must have some sympathy and gratitude toward Pious, Iradyiel. He has shown a great deal of restraint. He has dedicated his life to protecting humans from creatures just like Guughwa. It would be as though she had insisted that we trade your father's knobkerrie to her in return for leaving and providing the cauldron," Chest Thumper says to his half-elf friend.
He then speaks to Pious when he is able to.
"I want to thank you for your patience in this situation, Master Pious. I know how difficult it was for you not to act when we were talking to Guughwa. I think that we have done the right thing, though I don't think anyone was innocent in this situation. And should she prove to be a problem again, I will gladly help you hunt her down after we deal with our current problems," he says to the man.
For once, Chest Thumper is notably more taciturn and irritated than his ape brother. And grows ever more so as the Song'O continue their celebration, essentially without the men and woman who should be their guests of honor.
"We will leave tomorrow. When we feel like it. Anyone who would like us to leave earlier is free to tell Francis," Chest Thumper tells the rude Elder when she tries to rush them off.
"But know that we will not be eager to return. Though you have provided us valuable information, I, for one, do not like being used as a pawn for your underhanded dealings. The next time you double cross someone, we will not be here to save you."
"Where is this longshanks camp that was attacked?"
There's nothing else Chest Thumper wants to do and he's happy to leave, though he'll linger a bit just to be annoying. And he'll eat as much as he can get his hands on.
I'm fine with returning to Pridon's Hearth if anyone wants to restock and resupply. If not, my vote is to head to the camp, if the information is provided or to the burial ground to the north (which I think may be the tar pits?)
Aza tucks the scroll case into her bag, trying to keep it in a location where she can easily grab it if the worst were to come to pass. She hoped that it would not be necessary to use. The lack of any bloodshed left Aza with a small lift in her heart, however, a flutter of the winds of hope. With the information and treasures they had gained, the assistance they had wrought for the Song'o, it had been marvelously successful. Between the three tinderboxes of Guughwa, the Song'o, and Pious, the oracle had not been sure if they would have been able to exit so gracefully. Those thoughts wandered about her head as the Knights returned to the village, and for the first time in quite some time, Aza felt, albeit briefly, at peace.
Even Zaakhu's evasive nature couldn't put a damper on Aza's spirits back in the village, and she keeps mostly silent for the proceedings, wanting to enjoy their peaceful success for just a few moments longer... but she would have to re-engage with the idea of confronting the lizardfolk eventually. Guughwa, the Song'o, even the undead... Aza felt little regrets about how she handled these situations, but the thought of lizardfolk, dedicated and bound to a cult. Creatures like Pious. Driven and loyal to a cause of destruction. It was becoming clear that they would likely be unable to talk to these lizardfolk, unable to truly parley with them, and that death or destruction might be their only option. However, the information that they had been willing to trade until recently still sparked some hope in Aza, and she clung to that throughout the proceedings.
"W-we appreciate your hospitality, Elder Zaakhu," Aza says, trying to cover for Chest Thumper's curtness. She was certainly not a fan of how they were being treated, but she knew better than to force some sort of confrontation about it. "I am glad for your assistance and th-that we were able to come to an amicable solution to deliver your cauldron back to you - it was a misunderstanding, and I am glad that we found a comprim-mise."
I don't believe there's anything left for Aza here except to meditate and regain her emotional strength. She is ready to leave at any time, either for the hearth or the burial ground. She continues to not have much need for new equipment, though I suppose a change of clothes wouldn't go awry...
ninja'd by Aza!
at the Song'o camp.'
Confused as the elder tell her story, Iradyiel shakes his head, "My father says that history goes to the victors, but this business with the creature still feels ... wrong. I don't like being made to look like a liar. Thank you for the information about the lizard folk and for naming us friends. I wanted to be friends with the Song'o. I aggree with Master Thumper, we should spend the night and leave in the morning. Also, any knowledge about the attack on the 'human' camp that you have would be helpful."
Before they go to sleep, Iradyiel tells Chest Thumper "Asking for the location of the attack was smart, Master Thumper. I think we should go there and also to the Lizard burial grounds and ask about this 'pyramid' the creature spoke of. Then we should probably go there as well."
As Iradyiel is laying in his bedroll he sits up, there in the dark and asks. "If the Lizard folk consume the bodies of dead friends and enemies alike, what do they need a burial ground for?"
I'm happy with moving on. Is there any restocking or resupplying that we can't do here? Is any one keeping track of provisions? If so, can we get those here? I don't know how many days weve been out or how many days food the giant Lizard meat would provide.
I'd definitely prefer to leave in the morning. Another night of crafting and scribing would be nice.
Vedic apologized to the Song'o leader for keeping his nose buried in his books during most of the discussion, explaining that Wizards on time limits did not always have the luxury of conversation. The rest of the group was doing a good job articulating how Vedic felt about the whole affair with the Song'o and thier missing cauldron. When Chest Thumper admonished the Song'o for their deceptiveness, Vedic gave him a small, approving nod of thanks.
It looks like I'll have part of the afternoon and evening to scribe and cook. I'll have a breakdown of how I spend my time shortly.
Did we get any kind of actual reward from the Song'o? I missed it if we did.
With Elder Zaakhu
"Where is this longshanks camp that was attacked?"
Elder Zaakhu indicates a place on the map, by now quite worn and heavily notated, that they obtained only two weeks ago from the ill-fated explorer Umuzu on the Cobalt Eye. The location is on the south coast of the peninsula, 12 miles through thick jungle to the south east of Cashill. Elder Zaakhu carefully describes the location, a small hillock within sight of the shore, so it should be straightforward to find.She also indicates on the map the location of what she understands as the lizardfolk burial grounds Guughwa referred to – this appears to be the ‘tar pits.
”Do you have any more information about this attack on the 'human' camp? "
The Elder leans back and thinks for a while; ”It happened late last year, just after the Mireborn had moved south from their old range, after being evicted by the boggards. The longshanks appeared to be exploring upriver; an small band, well prepared and well-armed. Three of my hunters shadowed their boat up the river until they made land – we were worried by what such a rough-looking crew intended – they appeared to be more soldiers than colonists. Our hunters were by chance watching when the longshank camp was caught in a Mireborn ambush – the lizardfolk fell upon your kind without mercy. Our hunters looked on, but did not intervene. They reported that one human, an athletic, brown-haired woman bearing a small shield, hamstrung one of her own group to slow down her pursuers and make good her escape. Another human, a handsome younger male, was seen parlaying with the Mireborn’s shaman, and left together with the lizardfolk. I don’t know if either made it back to your town, but it is this sort of longshank behaviour which makes us Song'o so wary of your kind. ”
Later that night
"If the Lizard folk consume the bodies of dead friends and enemies alike, what do they need a burial ground for?"
Did we get any kind of actual reward from the Song'o? I missed it if we did.
She hails the generosity of Cashill to its allies, and … presents them with a gift: a single scroll of mirror image, plus an ebony wand of cat’s grace (8 charges).
In the morningLadies and gents, the map has been updated, as has the loot list. Poreing over your maps and discussing options, it appears you have three obvious choices – the tar pits 12 miles to the north, the ruined camp 12 miles to the south east, or a return to Pridon. For the latter, you could either hand overland 24 miles, two day’s travel, or head south and accept the offer of a Song’o–accompanied canoe trip back to town – also two days, but possibly safer. What’s your call?
...or head south and accept the offer of a Song’o–accompanied canoe trip back to town...
Before they go to bed, Iradyiel scratches his head and asks the elder. "We had planned to go to the 'tar pits.' The map you gave us shows rivers going that way, could your canoes take us that direction?"
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
Pious is noticeably quieter on their return to the Song'o gone is the proselytizing and zealous preaching, he is a man rocked.
I have failed my Lord with the weakness of my flesh, I have allowed the blasphemous to live and prosper. How can I be Aroden's hand if I have not the strength to strike... Carry not the burden you desire for it is too light, carry the burden you are given, let your body be crushed beneath it's soul lightening weight, for the soul is the vessel...
When CT speaks to him directly he nods and grunts his appreciation for the words. But it does little to lighten his mood.
Despite retiring early, the Papaya Knights spend a fitful final night’s rest in Cashill village. Only peripherally involved in the celebrations for the returned cauldron, once the villagers start partaking in a freshly-brewed batch of recreational hallucinogens, they soon feel left out. Even their sleep is interrupted by noises of whooping, giggling and incoherent muttering. Even a heavy downpour at midnight fails to suppress their celebrations; at one point a pair of intoxicated Song’o seek shelter to against the wall of the longhouse the party are sleeping in, to engage in an enthusiastic and noisy amorous embrace; Francis’ furious roar soon puts an end to that. The party wakes glad to be leaving the village behind.
In the pallid light of the next day, Cashill is like a ghost town. Only a few figures are seen about the stilt buildings. Most are still abed; those that are not appear to be tending furious hangovers. After eating and packing their belongings, the group are approached by a clear-headed Mudhzuzi who together with one other Song’o scout has prepared two long canoes to take the party downriver north towards the tar pits. Before retiring the night before, Elder Zaakhu had appeared non-committal if not unwilling to provide transport north, but on hearing this Mudhzuzi saw the chance to repay a personal debt to the group. In heavily-accented Common, words he must have memorised from someone last night, he mumbles ”A pleasure, a pleasure”.
Slipping away in the boats, the stilt buildings of Cashill fade out of view into the rain and marsh mists. Only after an hour or so do they realise that Francis’ barrel of dika rum, plus certain other personal items of inconsequential value only have gone missing overnight.
Part 1: Feel free to RP the morning’s travel, and any last thoughts on the Song’o.
The rest of the day passes without incident as the canoes traverse the quiet meres of the Song’o marshes. They reach a different river heading north to the one they arrived at, and after portaging the boats for a while, re-board the boats and head downriver again. Several times they have to stop to bale out the boats – steady rain makes the trip only slightly less damp than would swimming. At least it is safer; Aza at one point catches herself trailing a hand idly in the river, only to retract it swiftly on recalling the leaches they encountered on the way to Cashill.
During the day, Mudhzuzi confides in polyglot that the dinosaurs of the delta have long used this area as a graveyard, journeying to the area as they grow old or sick. Many scavengers dwell near or visit the macabre piles, including the Mireborn lizardfolk, who visit the tar pits annually to inter their criminals or outcasts in the black lake and forage dinosaur bones, teeth, and claws.
After most of a day, the party spend one night camped in a location revealed by the Song’o – a yawning part-concealed cave-mouth by the edge of the river. They are able to somewhat dry out and have the luxury of a campfire and a full night’s sleep, before taking their leave of Mudhzuzi and his friend in the morning to strike out across open scrubland in the direction of the tar pits.
The terrain soon opens out, and through heavy wind and light rain, the party perceive a large flat area ahead, with patches of black tar puddling and pooling either side of weaving tracks through the mire. Mounds of enormous bones litter the ground surrounding bubbling tar seeps. Ahead, the glow of a campfire can just about be made out through the drizzle, and well beyond that, a terrifying bass beloow is heard – a saurus of some kind in terrible pain…
As you might expect, the tar pools count as difficult terrain (dammit I said I would have fewer of these…) and could well serve to ‘entangle’ should you fall in or attempt to cross them.
Part 2: actions, preparations as you approach the tar pits?
Francis is all but inconsolable when he realizes his keg is gone. He almost tears the canoe apart looking for it and it takes Chest Thumper a great deal of effort to prevent him from actually tearing the canoe apart and throwing everything overboard looking for it.
The half-orc realizes some of his minor personal belongings are also missing. His opinion of the Song'o is not improving and he will be happy enough if he never sees them again after this is all over. The lizardfolk are bad enough, though its now seeming as though their aggression stems from being pushed out of their own territory and running in front of these storms. The halflings have a relatively easy life and what they need and seem to be intent on even greater ease and simple pleasure seeking.
Mudhzuzi seems to be a notable and pleasant exception, however and Chest Thumper hopes only the best for him. He says as much and thanks the young halfling, though in his own language, so it likely passes over his head, when the halflings depart.
He is pleased that they've provided him a dry space for the night. That is more hospitality than the rest of their tribe provided.
The upside of visiting a dinosaur graveyard is that the dinosaurs who will be there will be old and injured. They will hopefully be easier to deal with than fully healthy examples of the beasts.
The downside is that even the normally docile ones will likely be in a foul mood and eager for a fight if they are approached too closely.
As the campfire becomes evident ahead, Chest Thumper and Francis stop by unspoken agreement.
"Can your little friend move ahead and scout for us, Vedic?" the former asks the elf.
He is already preparing to bolster Francis' natural toughness, fully expecting trouble.
Knowledge (Nature): 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
After a fitful nights sleep Iradyiel is ready to move on. Shouldering his pack and resting his fathers club on his shoulder, he moves out of the longhouse, surprised to see his friend Mudhzuzi. He smiles and tells the Song'o, In Polyglot"It will be good to travel again with you my friend."
Enduring the rain, he offers to paddle for a while, wanting to do more than just sit in the canoe. When Mudhzuzi tells about the lizard graveyard, Iradyiel translates as best as he can.
Spending a pleasantly dry and peaceful night in the cave, he feels refreshed and ready to move on. Before they head out onto the savanna, he asks Mudhzuzi. in polyglot "Will you stay here and wait for us? Or will you need to leave?"
As they approach the boneyard, Iradyiel keeps a keen eye out. Seeing the fire in the distance he smiles to himself, 'well, at least there cold and miserable too.' Nodding his head in agreement, when Chest Thumper asks Vedic to send the flying glowing ball to scout out the grounds.
"Of course." Vedic replied, tossing his "little friend" into the air.
Vedic tried not to resent the loss of their possessions. The Song'o were not a wealthy people and their ideas of possession and ownership might be culturally different. Still, he could not shake the feeling that they had been taken advantage of, and then robbed. They would not receive help from him in the future without advance payment.
He stared at the tar pits with concern, putting the Song'o behind him and focusing on the present. "We need poles to test the depth of the pits before we attempt crossing."
|Little Glowy Ball Of Light|
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
As the knights prepare to take their leave from the Song'o canoes Pious finds Mudhzuzi in the throng. Crouching before the halfling he grips the little man by both biceps.
"Iradyiel, will you translate for me? Though of course the words of God speak to the soul."
Whether Iradyiel agrees or not, pious continues
"Mud-suzy you have acted with honour though your society are without. You have wisdom though you know not His way. Would you know Him little man? Do you walk the worthwhile path or the easy one? Do you choose hardship over damnation?"
It is clear by the pregnant pause that this ladt is not a rhetorical question.
"Mud-suzy has chosen our way. Let our strength be with him lord! The righteous bear the mark, lest they be lost."
At that moment a pain shoots down Mudhzuzi's arm where Pious still grips it, not lingering but sharp. All can see that a lightning bolt has burnt itself along the halflings arm. (Brand, 1hp damage.)
"See how Aroden blesses you. Know his love and spread his word. You are with us now. Aroden walks beside you. Know Him."
As if that was the matter settled Pious turns and walks away.
"Then be damned. The ignorant who shall not learn cannot be taught, those who refuse to be found shall remain lost. Their way is not our way."
With that he turns and heads into the tar pitted marsh.
Earlier, when they were leaving the cave and the Song'o's
'Oh dear gods, I know everyone likes Mudhzuzi, but can't we leave the poor Halfling alone?' Turning as Pious grabs his little friend, Iradyiel stammers. "I will try master Pious."
Hearing the statement, Iradyiel looks from 'the Shepard' to the Halfling, cringing. In Polyglot "Um, Mudhzuzi, I'm sorry! The crazy human wants to know if you want to become a worshiper of his dead human god or not. He was named Aroden, but everyone says he's dead now."
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
The walk from the riverside cave where the party, Mudhzuzi and his friend spent the night is to take most of the next morning. Mudhzuzi apologises that he cannot wait with the canoes for the party in this dangerous part of the jungle - he needs to leave. To each of the group he bids a serious but sincere goodbye, clasping forearms arms and wishing them in polyglot ”Good hunting” With Francis he hesitates, then decides to offer a nervous wave instead. With Pious, he starts to clasp forearms but is alarmed when he is himself grasped and subjected to a direct inquisition. Mudhzuzi stares nervously until Pious translates, however this entirely fails to calm the young Song’o. in polyglot ”Your madman wishes to recruit me to worship his un-dead God?” he moans in horror, ”No way!” Even to Pious, his reaction cannot be mistaken.
At the tar pits:
The range and size of the saurus bones visible at the tar pits, piled at the sides and emerging from the pits themselves, is daunting. These giant animals must have been coming here to die over many generations. And they are not alone; the bone stacks show that others have organised and sorted the debris; gnawing and cracking of the bones shows that other jungle animals, large and small, find meals in the passing of these great beasts.
The bass rumble of the saurus sounds like nothing the party have ever heard before; even Chest Thumper’s knowledge of the jungle falls short. Pious however feels confident that this is the call of a female beast, and moreover of a herbivore; it lacks the power of a carnivore’s challenge, and is more the anguished moan of an animal in deep pain.
As the party crouch behind a pile of bones, Array returns from his reconnaissance with (to Vedic) a detectably smug air of satisfaction. It dips itself in the tar and, on a giant lizard femur, draws icons which convey meaning to its master: fire, danger, 3 lizardfolk, 1 lizard. Then: bridge.
As the party move forward towards the campfire they see for themselves a bedraggled group of three rain-sodden lizardfolk hunched miserably together round a firehearth and a stack of javelins. Tall six-foot torches surround the campfire; each are presumably fuelled with tar given they are unaffected by the strong wind and waves of rain, and are giving off columns of thick black smoke. On a large saurus skull at the edge of the hearth sits a perfectly still six-foot long monitor lizard, a long red tongue licking the air. To the north, a bone-and-rope bridge stands, spanning the tar across to a large island, festooned with lizard skulls.
A map is up guys; actions? plans? You reckon that with stealth, it could be possible to use the bone stacks as cover if you wanted to reach the bridge undetected.
Vedic did not like the idea of leaving enemies behind them. He was clearly ready to engage.
Vedic would prefer to fight. Any objections? I have the perfect spell to kick this off with.
"Does your plan require the element of surprise?" Chest Thumper follows up on Iradyiel's question to Vedic.
"We had a fair amount of success with talking to Guughwa and these guys don't look particularly threatening. In fact, they seem a little pathetic. Would you be able to strike them down if things go wrong while we're talking to them?"
He eyes both the full blooded elf and Master Pious. They have both proven to have a proficiency and predilection for decisive, violent action and he's not at all sure that either of them will be willing to take the chance of negotiations breaking down before striking.
"I w-would like to talk to them if possible," whispers Aza in a raspy voice. She has been very quiet recently, deep in some sort of contemplation as the Papaya Knights travelled. "If others would lie in w-wait I could venture down again... or perhaps, we could try to n-not outright kill them and talk to them afterwards." . She nods to the rest of the group, ready to fight if need be even as it's clear she is conflicted about it, and speaks a word to the winds, activating her invisible armor - she might need it soon.
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
Seeing Pious move forward to attack the people they came to talk to.'This is stupid we can't let this madman run everything.' Iradyiel shakes his head, "Pious I disagree, we came to talk, Aza is right." Iradiel stands up and moves out from behind the cover and yells out In Polyglot "Hey Lizard folk, can we talk to you?"
It is Iradyiel's intention to move toward M9, if I remember correct the bones are rough terrain, so even if we are in combat rounds he should be able to do that in two moves.
init: if needed: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 = 12
DC17 reflex saves: 1d20 ⇒ 141d20 ⇒ 51d20 ⇒ 31d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
falling + fire damage: 2d6 ⇒ (5, 3) = 81d6 ⇒ 6
Aza: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 4 = 13
Iradyiel = 12
ChestThumper: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (2) + 1 = 3
Francis: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (8) + 3 = 11
Vedic: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (13) + 1 = 14
Pious: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (1) + 3 = 4
Monitor lizard: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (11) + 2 = 13
So, a coupla things happen in quick succession.
As Pious attempts to sneak forward and Iradyiel moves out of cover to hail the lizardfolk in polyglot, the monitor lizard sitting atop the saurus skull turns, and hearing movement, screeches a loud warning cry. At this, two of the three lizardfolk react, snatching at weapons as they turn and rise to face the new arrivals.
At this point, Vedic’s prepared action kicks in: the campfire vanishes in an instant together with all three lizardfolk. There is the briefest of surprised cries followed by a heavy crash two seconds later; a puff of black oily smoke gusts upward from the pit before dispersing in the wind.
Reacting with a speed belying its cold-blooded nature, the monitor lizard leaps off its perch before the skull topples into the pit. It lands nimbly to one side of the newly formed pit and pauses, confused, at the lip.
Vedic, Aza, then the lizard, then everyone else and the lizardfolk.
I have updated the map for the pit and everyone’s movement so far…over to you !
I'm guessing this is a Surprise round.
Vedic couldn't help but smirk as the lizards tumbled into the pit and got dumped into their own campfire. Whoever was on the bottom of that pile was not having a fun time.
He walked forward out from his cover. "That will last another ten seconds," he told the others.
Moveing, and drawing a vial of alchemist fire during move action