Chest Thumper and even Francis listen closely to what Vedic says, perhaps because they feel the same sense of unexplained importance that the moment demands.
Francis is the first to react, grunting softly and looking chagrined, though he assuredly did not understand what was said.
Chest Thumper took some moments longer to respond. "I don't disagree. I don't think any of us will claim that we are not often driven by our emotions and irrational reactions." He looks to Pious who, ironically enough, might claim that he's got the most rational reasons for everything he does.
"And you're also right in that we need to be more careful. Clearly, you have a knack for the kind of care and planning that you're speaking of so I am willing to listen to your advice going forward."
He gives a toothy (and that's saying something for him) grin. "But I notice you did cross the bridge when you could have stayed on the other side and let your familiar handle things. Perhaps we're rubbing off on you."
"Well... yes." Vedic said. "I also followed when Pious charged the mounted lizardfolk. As did you. I certainly include myself in my criticisms."
"I suppose my primary question is, why, as a group, are we so opposed to letting our foes come to us? Why is an uncoordinated charge always the first choice?"
"In th-this... this was a special case, I feel," Aza says, stumbling over her words, recognizing her own rash actions in the fight and how they hurt the party. "It was important we help Achahut, and I do not believe we could have pulled the dinosaur's focus." She bites her lip. "But perhaps if we come up with a plan... s-something that we know ahead of time, that we are all aware of," she practically involuntarily flicks her eyes to Pious for a moment, "We can execute that without confusion, and so we don't have to try and make a plan in the m-middle of the chaos of combat..." She nods to Vedic. "I kn-know we can't plan for everything, but if we have a core idea, we could avoid being in... too much danger. So what do you think, Vedic? Do you have any thoughts on that?"
"Yes. They are a bit lengthy though. I haven't had much luck with tactical lectures in the past," Vedic said wryly. "Our issues seem to come almost entirely from poor positioning. We fight as a group of individuals instead of as a team."
"If I had to pick the shortest and easiest tactics to remember it would be to let them come to us. If we do that we get to set the terms and shape the battlefield. We don't need to bunch up and be bait for fireballs, but we also don't need to get so spread out that we can't effectively support each other."
"Next is, don't get mixed up with the enemy. Keep them all on one side of us. I understand that combat tutors teach students to move to flank the enemy, but when magic users are involved in the fight all that does is make our jobs harder and expose us to danger. A well placed spell can turn the tide of a conflict. Generally speaking, one of the goals of a martial combatants to help create the conditions where spells can do that. At the very least it is the goal of the martial combatant to try to not be in the way."
"Last, actively look for ways to use terrain to our advantage. Like the bridge, for instance. A good sword arm might win a fight, but good positioning wins battles."
Not sure how to respond to Vedic's observations, Iradyiel listened to the discussion, watching as his friends sort out how they want to approach different battle conditions. Walking over to where he dropped his bow, he picks up the weapon. When everyone stops for a moment he lifts it up, "I tried to use the bow, but the big lizard got too close so I used the club. My father says 'Everyone has a plan until they get hit.'"
He shakes his head, We have been together for a little while, but we are still individuals. It will take time and commitment to develop the trust you are talking about. Maybe we should be like the military, and have someone give orders. But, in a fight, if we delay too long, we will be dead."
He looks up at the sun, "Why don't we keep talking while we walk to the ruined tower." turning to the lizard, "Would you show us the way?"
[spoiler=GM rolls]test1: 1d100 ⇒ 891d100 ⇒ 861d100 ⇒ 33test2: 1d100 ⇒ 931d100 ⇒ 31d100 ⇒ 70
Studying their map of the jungles surrounding Pridon the party's best trackers decide that the trek to the tower is best achieved by following the northern coast of the peninsula westward then looping south around the marshes north of Jheri's plantation. Although a longer route than heading due west directly through the jungle and swamp, it carries a lower chance of getting lost and certainly a less exhausting journey. It is likely to be a full four- or five-day journey to the ruined tower on the far north west coast.
It is only a handful of hours until the party reaches the coast north west of the tar pits; the northern shoreline of the peninsula is rocky and lined with twenty to one hundred foot tall limestone cliffs, far different from the swampy salt marsh mudflats of the southern coast. Seabirds wheel overhead, and strangle pink coral capuchins - small magical winged monkey-fish creatures - can be seen whirling and gamboling in the sea spray and gusty updrafts along the cliffs. It makes for a memorable and enjoyable day's walk; the sea air is less humid than the jungle they have left behind, and though still wet and windy, it is bracing and invigorating too.
On the second day the party follow the coast westward before heading inland south-west to curve around the dense swamp astride their route. Mention is made of the grey ooze which they encountered at the plantation, and the way it engulfed Iradyiel and would have seen to Jheri had they not intervened. To this Achahut cautiously volunteers some knowledge; the lizardfolk often travel through the swamp, she says, and have some experience in evading or discouraging the various slimes and oozes which make it their home. In fact, she offers to lead the party through the swamp if they wish, following a lizardfolk trail which would take a full day off their journey.
It is whilst the group are considering this offer, still two hours or so from where they would need to make a decision and three hours north of Jheri's plantation, that they sense that they are being followed. The terrain here is quite open; broad undulating meadows studded with the occasional baobab or Sagarvaan cedar akin to the meadows where they encountered the lizardfolk scouts with their giant frilled lizard mount. As they are crossing one of these meadows, Chest Thumper and Francis catch a familiar but out-of-place scent; horses.
The scent, carried downwind from the west, is elusive due to the strength of the wind; yet it is noticed several times over the next hour. Eventually on cresting a hillock the party catch sight of the scents' origin; three human or humanoid riders in dark leather riding gear and broad-rimed hats, watching them from maybe a quarter mile distant. Achahut turns to the others; "These humans - are they from your settlement? Why do they not approach?". She muses for a moment then observes, "They may not have counted on your perceptive sense of smell, friend Thumper, but they are incompetent trackers to have allowed their mounts to approach us from upwind."
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
"There is only one way Mr Vedic. God's way. Be true unto My wisdom and thy way will be true. We must trust God's will Mr Vedic, you think too much."
"And lo three riders did approach: the before, the now, and the future. And the lord went out to meet them..." We have the higher ground, Iradyiel has his bow, and I have the Lord. Tactical enough?"
This could easily have been a snipe at Vedicks earlier words but to all president Pious' tone and demeanor are genuine.
Pious takes a step toward the pursuers as if he is preparing to advance down the hill to meet them.
Vedic gave Pious a look that was full of cold, icy rage. The priest had crossed a line in Vedic's mind and the elf was suddenly beyond caring about keeping a civil tongue. "Mister Shepherd, I am utterly done endangering myself for your theocratic nonsense. If you charge ahead, spoil an ambush, unnecessarily mix with enemy lines, or repeat any of the other ways you have nearly gotten me killed so far, I will not help you. I will not come after you. I will not support you at all. I will let you live or die on your own merits. I will no longer risk my life in response to your stupid choices."
"Your god is not my god, and I am thankful for that. Nor is he here to tell anyone what may or may not be the right way. If your actions so far have been your god's way, then it is no wonder that he is dead."
Chest Thumper sighs as Pious snipes at Vedic and Vedic returns the favor. He will be amused by Vedic's ultimatum, later. Of all the threats to hurl at the man, telling him that you won't help him and leave him to the hands of his god is the least effective.
It is not strange to him that the newest, and, most would say, most primitive of their party is the one that is talking the most sense.
"Perhaps they don't understand how scent travels and are depending on their experience with sight to guide their approach to sneaking up on us. Not uncommon with the unskilled. Or perhaps they are not trying to hide their presence," Chest Thumper says.
"Master Vedic, you have proven to have a cool head in the worst of circumstances. Please keep it now. We are far from safety and running low on supplies. This is no time to let our emotions get the best of us."
"Master Pious, let us move to a more secure location. These may not be foes. They may simply be looking for us or fellow travelers with no relation to us at all. But if they are here for trouble, if we have more cover, they won't be able to properly use their mounts against us."
He looks for the nearest tree or stand of trees to move to.
"Does anyone else think they are garbed like Hamza Gadd?"
Happily following Achahut through the jungle to the coast and back into the swamp. Iradyiel pays close attention as she explains how to avoid the oozes. When she asks about guiding them through the swamp, he responds, "That would be great! I would like the opportunity to learn how to navigate the swamps from an expert."
'Here we go again. Trying not to roll his eyes as Master Shepard begins to quote the dead gods words, Iradyiel looks across the savanna, "Um, Master Shepard, I don't think my bow will shoot that far. Besides, we've tried talking to others all the time. Why wouldn't we talk to them before we tried to kill them."
After a few moments of observing the three riders, the Papaya Knights move to one side, towards a the gently rotting remains of a fallen baobab tree, felled by lightning many years past. The tree is split in two, half jutting broken into the air, half fallen on one side. Around it, clumps of saplings are rising from the ground; it makes as good a defensible position as is immediately available.
From their position a quarter of a mile away, two of the three riders peel away and begin to canter in an unhurried manner towards them. One of these lifts his hat and waves it high, hailing the party. There is no sense of hostility here and any weapons they might carry remain undrawn.
The third rider, the one left behind, turns and walks his horse back over the rise, passing out of sight.
You have a minute or two before the two riders reach you – any preparations or reactions?
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
Pious nods at what he perceives as Vedic's correct summary of the situation, oblivious to his rage, but shakes his head sorrow clearly written on his face as the elf denounced his Lord.
"That is not dead that can eternal lie though you know not, the Lord is God of all who are worthy, you need not walk with me always but turn not a seventh time for the seventh is your last I will pray for you Mr Vedic."
As the riders approach Pious will wait, in cover if that is where the others chose but not hiding. His sword is drawn in one hand and his book open in the other. Arms spread wide he looks like the figure of justice, ready to weigh, faint golden light eminsates from the scripture covering his flesh...
Casting sanctuary as the riders reach us
perception: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (10) + 9 = 19
'Well, this fallen baobab tree is as good as cover as anywhere.' Following Chest Thumper behind the tree, Iradyiel looks around nodding his head in agreement. He places himself near the trunk, drawing out his glaive he rests it against the Tree. Unsheathing his longbow, he tests the string grunting in satisfaction that it isn't overly wet. He then plants three arrows in the rotting trunk and knocks a fourth. Shrugging his shoulders at Aza, "Just in case right?"
Chest Thumper does not make as many outward signs of preparation for trouble as they reach their makeshift fort. He places the skull he's been carrying ever since the tar pits on the ground and checks to make sure his axe is easily accessible.
Then, he draws in the power of nature necessary to enhance Francis' fur and flesh to harden it, patting the ape on the shoulder.
Then, he calms Francis, since his brother knows the sensation and knows what usually comes after it.
Francis watches the approaching riders suspiciously, as does Chest Thumper, though the latter does it while squatting casually on is heels.
Barkskin on Francis.
The two riders slow from a canter to a trot, then pull their mounts to a halt 50 feet from the fallen baobab tree. ”Ho there! Well met!” cries the nearest of the riders, waving his broad-rimmed hat in one hand. ”M’name’s Rogar. Don’t mean no trouble - may I approach?” He slips down from his sweating horse; these animals are ill-suited to these jungles, being not native to the terrain, the local diseases, nor the heat. Neither is Rogar; the man is bright pink in the face. He may be a recent arrival to the colony; certainly his voice betrays the recognisable twang of the lower-class back alleys of Eleder, capital of Sargava.
Rogar takes a few steps closer, holding the reins and his hat whilst wiping the sweat from his face. His companion remains mounted. ”’Tis Desna’s shining luck for us to meet; this land’s hard work for a city boy to travel. You’ve come far?” He reaches for his belt, but notes the party’s wary reaction and with exaggerated caution slowly pulls out a waterskin; ”Ye look jumpy, pals, have y’met trouble hereabouts? I’d be glad of hearin’ of any risks we should be wary for? ‘Tis a dangerous time to be out here prospectin’, for sure.”
Aza takes a brief, but wary step forward, leaning into her staff - just a moment ago she had asked the winds to surround her with protection, but perhaps she would not need them? "Greetings, R-Rogar, replies the oracle with a small bow and a tip of her wide-brimmed hat. "I am Aza, and we are the Papaya Kn-Knights, of Pridon's Hearth." she winces somewhat at tripping over the word. "You will have to forgive our caution, but we have experienced a good deal of hardsh-ship and danger. There are a number of tribes and peoples that scatter this area, and they can be very territorial." She sighs and shakes her head, recalling all of the tense encounters they have had thus far. "We could perhaps point out terr-r-ritories for you to avoid, if you wish? Are you new arrivals to the Hearth? How did you come to be so far out here? You said you were prospectors?" She is a bit curious, considering their own difficulty even with experienced trackers in the group.
Diplomacy: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (13) + 10 = 23
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
Pious narrows his eyes as the lone rider remains mounted.
(standard alignment sweep please GM)
But for all his misgivings he steps forward.
Aroden is no warmonger as has others have Him accused. I am His hand until he returns, I will show them.
"Well meet indeed... men. I am Pious, a humble shepherd, come to these lands to spread His word. Is it not said Let not the heathen hide behind ignorance, but bring forth His light let His burning truth enlighten his soul. You are followers of the whimsical song? It's not her luck though. You have been following us."
Diplomacy (Aid): 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (15) - 1 = 14
'Prospectors?' Letting the others start the conversations, Iradyeil, holding the knocked arrow with his finger of his bow hand, he waves back the way they came with his draw hand, "You right, it is dangerous out here. So why did the third rider that was with you, turn back alone when you folks saw us?"
aid:diplomacy?: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (8) - 1 = 7
sense motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (8) + 1 = 9
'Prospectors?' Letting the others start the conversations, Iradyeil, holding the knocked arrow with his finger of his bow hand, he waves back the way they came with his draw hand, "Your right, it is dangerous out here. So why did the third rider that was with you, turn back alone when you folks saw us?"
aid:diplomacy?: 1d20 - 1 ⇒ (4) - 1 = 3
sense motive: 1d20 + 1 ⇒ (11) + 1 = 12
(standard alignment sweep please GM)
Pious does not detect any aligned aura from either of these two fellows ie not >4 HD, or cleric/paladin, undead or outsider
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
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"You should be wary of small dinosaurs, little frog men, haunted rooms, giant spiders, trolls, storms, living water, humans, lizardfolk," he casts an apologetic look at Pious and Achahut before continuing, "waterlogged undead, oozes, giant lizards, faeries, you should probably be a little nervous around halflings, and big dinosaurs." He counts the dangers off on his fingers until he runs out of fingers.
Francis grumbled and hooted as Chest Thumper wound down.
"Oh...right...I almost forgot. And leeches."
As Chest Thumper runs through his list, Rogar begins to laugh, then trails off as he realises that it's no joke. His face runs through disbelief then genuine horror, and he takes an involuntary step backwards in reaction to this litany of foes. ”By Norg...I mean Desna, what have you been doing? That sounds horrendous!”
He recovers his nerve and looks up to respond to Pious and to Iradyiel; ”Er yes, I follow Desna. I’m not a religious man though sir, unlike yourself it seems. I just do what I need to get by – every man for himself, you know? And as for followin’ you, well, we had to be sure you wos friendly-like. You gotta understand, if wot your green friend says is true? That’s why Nisha, he’s waitin’ just over the hill-line, like, in case you was hostile.”
To Aza’s more gentle words he smiles, a little more relaxed; ”Sure, we’re new arrivals, lady – perhaps you don’t recall us. We arrived on the same ship – the Kaava Cutter. We was up the workin’ class end of that tub, not like you folk wif your picnics and fine clothes at the stern!” He smiles disarmingly - he appears to mean no offense; ”It’s been hard work and hot too, prospectin’ the area ever since for Count Narsus. But I appreciate your warnings, I do. Pray tell, are you heading back to Pridon now, or elsewhere? What brings you out this far from the town?”
Aza fights back a frown as she looks over Rogar and his equipment, his horse... this seemed strange. She looked towards Pious, Chest Thumper, Iradyiel, Francis... even Vedic - if this was to be a hostile encounter, they could all certainly handle it. She was glad to be traveling with such intimidating friends, more than usual. If these riders meant them ill will, then the knights could handle them. But first, if there was a danger of a ranged assault... thinking of what Vedic had gone over, she decided to speak tactically - "You are just prospectors, then? Apologies f-for forgetting you. N-nisha can come down and we can break bread together, your horses seem tired, and we could continue this discussion, and possibly talk about wh-where you are going? If we head back to the Hearth before you, we could deliver a message to the Count..." Let them come to us, Vedic had said. So, she would. She gives a meaningful look to her companions, hoping that she wasn't the only one who picked up that something was wrong with these folks - and to wait to try to get them all within range in case a fight broke out - though hopefully this was just a misunderstanding.
Bluff: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (15) + 4 = 19
Didn't realize I double posted last time.
'That sounds about right./ Nodding his head as Chest Thumper went through the litany of things they had dealt with, he agrees, "yep and leaches."
Watching and listening as the others talk to 'prospector' he adds, "Well, now that you know were safe why don't you signal your friend to join us?"
Chest Thumper begins answering the man's question. "Fighting small dinosaurs, little frog men, haunted rooms, giant spiders, trolls...," a growl and shove from Francis causes him to break off.
"How is the prospecting going? Have you found anything interesting?" he asks, more out of politeness than true curiosity. While he understands that people value gold, he doesn't really understand why and cannot imagine spending hours a day sifting through rock, dirt and mud in the hopes of finding a few little flecks. Not that he minds sifting through rock, dirt and mud, just not for a soft, shiny metal.
|'Pious' Janus Shepherd|
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"As the others have said, call your companion, no support needed. You have been long on the road to misspeak the name of your God. Dismount, let us be open now."
Pious approaches the still mounted man, no threat but sword still drawn. The horse will most probably not react well to his stench as he approaches.
From up close (Rogar is standing maybe 10' from the party, with his companion 10 foot behind him), you are able to get a better view of these two individuals. Both are wearing studded leather armour, accompanied by a short sword at their belts. Neither the prospectors nor their mounts appear to be carrying much in the way of engineering kit, nor do they appear to be armed with any ranged weapons. Rogar himself is a short and wiry man of Chelish ancestry in his mid-thirties, with a deep scar running across his forehead and a pock-marked face from some childhood affliction.
Opening his mouth to respond to Chest Thumper's question about prospecting, Rogar pauses. His smile fades and is replaced with a look of cool appraisal at the Papaya Knights' concealed suspicion. He appears to reach a decision, and his early gentle bonhomie is replaced with submissive disengagement.
"Apologies - it's clear I've found you unsettled by your time in these wilds. I see now that I'm less than welcome. That's fine - I've no desire to intrude." His homely Sargavan street-accent seems to have faded slightly. Holding his empty hands in the air, he backs cautiously to his horse, and steps up into the stirrup. His fellow rider turns his reins and sidesteps their horses backwards as they nicker and one tosses its head, perhaps at Pious' pungent approach. "As I said, I wish you no ill, and I'll trust ye'll show the same courtesy to me and mine. We'll be on our road and we'll leave you to yours, where ever that may lead you. Desna's luck on the street ahead, travellers." At this he remounts his horse, and slowly, keeping his hands visible and empty, goes to turn his mount away from the fallen baobab and back the way he came.
Rogar intends to peaceably depart, and is actively seeking to retreat from the hillock you have taken a stand on. Do you let him do so, or act? Over to you.
Chest Thumper rises as the man backs away. He does nothing to try to stop him or make any aggressive moves toward him, though he readies himself because of how close Pious is to the potential enemies. He doesn't know much about prospecting, but even he can see that they don't have enough equipment to be serious about it.
But then, people lie about their intentions all the time and not always with hostile intent, so he doesn't read too much into that.
"Was it something we said?" he asks his companions as Rogar mounts.
He also looks around, turning in a slow circle to look for the third member of their band.
Perception: 1d20 + 12 ⇒ (17) + 12 = 29
Chest Thumper doesn't bother watching Rogar once he spots the figure in the ridgeline. The rest of his party is watching him, after all and he has little doubt that they can handle him and his companion, if necessary.
He doesn't bother hiding the fact that he's watching the figure, either, though he doesn't point it out until Rogar is far enough away to not overhear.
"Someone is watching us," he says, directing the rest of the group's attention to the figure when Rogar is far enough away to not be an immediate threat.
"Let them watch." Vedic said. "If they follow us we will set camp and let them think they can catch us unaware. Counter ambushes are very effective."
Vedic looked down at his amulet and his familiar flitted low and doused it's glimmer, going into stealth mode to sweep wide and head to keep an eye on the person watching the group.
|Little Glowy Ball Of Light|
Rogar and his companion mount up and canter away from the party, cautiously at first but then at pace. As they go they share an exchange, and the sound of rough laughter rings out behind them. They head back in the direction of the ridgeline where CT caught sight of movement; they reach this point, then halt to look back at the party from a quarter mile away, watching and waiting.
Achahut clears her throat. Throughout this exchange she stood aside from the party, wary and watchful. ”I do not understand this. I sensed hostility and suspicion in that meeting. Were they not from your tribe? Are they outcasts? And why are they watching us still?” She considers the situation more carefully; ”Or…are you outcasts from the human town?”
Rogar and his ‘prospectors’ will wait on the ridgeline, watching to see where the party are heading next. Previously I understood you were heading for the abandoned tower taking a circuitous route round the marshland. You could continue with this route, or travel more directly through the marsh via the lizardfolk trails with Achahut as your guide. This would have the advantage of being a route the horsemen could not follow. Or, you could make another choice. What do you reckon?
Chest Thumper makes a point of not looking toward where their pursuers disappeared and, fortunately, Francis has not been told. As far as anyone looking might think, neither of them even know they are being followed.
"I agree with Iradyiel, Achahut. I think our best path is through the swamps, now. It will be faster and they won't be able to bring their horses if they want to follow us. Or if they do, we'll be able to ambush them while they're stuck in the muck."
This reminds me of what happened to Cabeza de Vaca's expedition when it first got to Florida. The natives waited until the armored and mounted Spaniards were bogged down in a swamp and massacred 90% of them.
He walks on for a time before trying to answer her other questions. "Our culture is different from yours. Neither we, nor they are outcasts but we are from different tribes. This is our tribe, along with a few people back in town, some of whom are also members of other tribes because we can be part of many tribes," he gestures to take in his companions, including her.
"Those people are from another tribe that we are...unfriendly with. But we share the town and there are many other tribes as well that also share the town. We all have a sort of truce that usually stands that means that we don't attack each other outright and we stand together against outside threats, but sometimes we do things to harm tribes who are our enemies."
Even as he says it, Chest Thumper can see all the flaws in the method and can think of no way to defend them, especially since he is not a big proponent of cities, himself.
"I do not trust them," Aza declares, as they move forward. "If they mean to bring harm to the Hearth... Well, w-we should simply be cautious of them. I bel-lieve everyone should be heard out, if they are willing to speak, but they were c-certainly lying to us about something. And if th-they had something worth lying about, well... I have my doubts that their lying was noble." Aza sighs softly, her hair shifting with the wind. "But we have bigger problems to deal with. Wh-when we return to Pridon's Hearth, we can discuss this with local government, but if they try to ambush us, we will be ready for them." She nods solemnly towards Achahut - "I thank you for your assistance in guiding through the swamp."
"There are countless tribes. There can be many even among the same settlement. Outside your own lands it is a mistake to think that anyone you meet if part of the same tribe. For instance, none of us here are part of the same tribe. We are allies and working together, but we all come from very different backgrounds and families." Vedic said as they went about their business as though they were not being watched.
In the back of his mind he could feel Array watching their watcher.
Under a storm-wracked sky, the Papaya Knights make a sharp change in direction and head east towards the sunken fens and mires between them and the north-western edge of the peninsula. As they do so the riders in black at their rear track them from a safe distance for a while, but as the trails become narrower and the footing less steady, they stop, and recede from view. The last sight the party has of them they have begun to move south, towards the Jhere’s plantation and Pridon. Then the rain closes in and the outside world shrinks from view.
Achahut is good to her word; the trails they follow whilst winding, are steady under foot and reliable. The heavy drumming of the rain, the lack of visible reference points due to the weather, and the monotonously terrain, combine to make the marsh pass as if in a trance-like dream state. Even the resident flies are kept to a minimum by the heavy rain. On only two occasions are they troubled by local wildlife: once, the whole party freezes as some large but unseen creature crashes into a creek of stagnant water nearby and swims away, leaving only expanding circles of water behind. On another, Achahut points out a small ooze lurking almost hidden by the path: patiently awaiting a victim. Both incidents pass without harm.
A day later the party emerge from the flat marshland behind them onto higher ground, and make camp for the night. The next morning they make fast time through light woodland on hilly terrain peppered with rocky outcrops. Several times they come across evidence of worked rock; ruined steps leading nowhere; timeworn unidentifiable carved stones, and in one case a subsided statue, eroded and overgrown. Clearing the statue reveals little more than two facts; firstly, this is ancient – crude and of a style alien to any you have seen before; second, the statue is of a sharply angled humanoid head with but one eye.
In the afternoon of the second day the party sights the tower – or what remains of it. It is somewhat of a disappointment. Preceded by the noise of crashing waves and swooping sea gulls, the party emerges from the forest to find the ruins of a tower’s walls perched atop a huge granite sea cliff. The outcrop which the tower’s foundations sit leans forward overhanging the sea below, as though some secret of the tower’s construction has protected it from the sea’s assault over centuries. The tower’s walls however have not fared as well. The ground around the clifftop is littered with giant fallen masonry; today the shattered walls vary from rubble to stubby remains only twenty feet tall, all surrounding a central grassy clearing.
”My tribe typically only use this as a hunting lodge during the months of the bull-shark runs. Two months ago we sheltered here after fleeing the Boggarts. Daruchek consulted the old trails recorded in the cave below, then moved the tribe east, on to the Sky Temple.” Achahut rubs her chin with one clawed hand; ”I should be able to help you follow them from. Come.” She sets off up the cliffside towards the ruined tower.
"W-wow," Aza mutters under her breath, looking at the tower - despite her disappointment, what little remained of it still signaled something more impressive to her. "This must've been something incredible, once..." She will attempt to keep pace with Achahut, but is distracted by the intensity of the crumbling structure. She will take a moment to pick through some rubble if anything interesting catches her eye, but is a bit more interested in the caves Achahut has mentioned.
What was this place? she asks herself, looking around on the off-chance that any sort of identifying mark hadn't been washed away by time.
Perception: 1d20 + 3 ⇒ (11) + 3 = 14
Kn. History: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (16) + 6 = 22
Chest Thumper is in as much awe as the rest as they approach and enter the ruins of the tower, not least of which because it is a stark reminder of the fate of all man's endeavors. This place was once obviously glorious and must have taken a great deal of work or magic to erect. Now, it was nothing more than a tumble of stones. Even those were doomed to slide into the ocean or be overrun by the implacable vegetation of the jungle, perhaps within Vedic's lifetime.
He knows little of history or culture but knows much of getting by in the wild and how others do so. He approaches the fire pits, checking to see how long it has been since they have been used.
Survival: 1d20 + 15 ⇒ (17) + 15 = 32
He also approaches the edge of the cliff...carefully, attempting to determine how likely it is this place will tumble out from under their feet and leave them buried in rock and underwater.
Knowledge (Geography): 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (8) + 6 = 14