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    Dwellers of the Forbidden City
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    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 21, 2013
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    Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:31 pm  
    Dwellers of the Forbidden City

    This adventure continues from "Into the Jungle". The group was brought together as slaves. The ship they were on sank and they found refuge in the Pelissio swamp.

    The group consists of four player characters and several NPCs. I am still trying to recruit a few more friends. Darn real life distractions.

    The players are (more complete history in previous post):

    Breymeer - h/m. Northern barbarian (NW area of my personal campaign, Suel blooded but not the NE Suel barbarians). He is a ranger. 2nd level.

    Southar - h/m. Gnarley forest ranger, 3rd level.

    Grimlock - 1/2e/m. Drifter from Celene and Wild Coast, F/M/T, levels 1,1,2.

    Cirdan Saralonde - e/m. Exiled offspring of Celene noble. Mage, 3rd level.

    NPCs (I had these folks around originally hoping more players would join; they haven't so far. Therefore, I am trying to develop personalities and classes as the adventure goes. I treated them as zero level and see how they develop.)

    Tanin - d/m. Merchant, learning fighting skills as they go.
    Berry Hairycheeks - halfing/m. Merchant, herbalist. No class yet.
    Cerdio - e/m. Learning fighting skills, also, close to the mages.
    Ide Otneaux - Huge muscled 1/2orc female bruiser from Pomarj, fighter.
    Alip - h/m. Merchant from Ket, learning fighting skills.

    Allies - Ledego (1/2e/m and father to Peylae), Peylae (1/2e/f) and the crew of the sunken ship, the Nir Nen.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 21, 2013
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    Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:00 pm  

    The boats slow and drift to within hailing distance. The savages sit with paddles in their hands. Their hair is unkept and wild with occasional decorations woven in. They are bare chested and have loin clothes on.
    The paler man wears a blue tunic and red pantaloons. He has a light brass breastplate on with a dolphin etched into it. He calls to you in a language you do not understand. Surprisingly, Paylae answers him in the same language, although not as polished sounding.
    They have a short discussion in which she points to your group a few times. Most obvious is her concern for her father.
    The man in the white tunic waves to you to follow. He leads you to the bay on the west side of the island.
    As you approach the island, you make several observations. The bay leads to a small harbor with a few small docks and nearly a dozen boats like the ones that came out to meet you. There is one that is slightly larger. Inland is a small valley between the hills to the north and the spires to the south. At the water’s edge there are several small wooden structures and tents. Near these, are small barges under construction. Farther into the valley, several hundred feet off shore, is a large pyramid shaped stone structure. It appears to be oriented to the compass directions. Off of each corner is a much smaller structure, each made of stone. Trails lead off into the jungle growth of the island from the cleared area around the small village. There is a large fountain on the west side of the pyramid. Several more wood structures are scattered around the pyramid and many tents have been erected deeper into the valley. These tents appear to be occupied by the savages. Of all the occupants, the vast majority are the tanned peoples, men, woman and a few children. Those with the pale skin, called Suel by Peylae, only number a few. Maybe a handful from what you can tell.
    Upon your arrival on the docks, the pale man sends a runner to shore. He then turns to you and says in the common tongue, “Greetings. I am Hashoven. By Osprem’s will, I help protect those who travel here. The lady calling herself Peylae said your group is in need of care. The black beast destroyed your vessel, the Nir Nen, I believe she pronounced it (Peylae nods in the affirmative). We shall help you. As a priest of Osprem, it is my pleasure to help sea voyagers in need. I have sent a runner to prepare tents and fresh food and water for you. But first, you need to be purified. The drinking of the swamp water is dangerous enough to kill you. Follow me.”
    Hashoven leads you off the docks given orders in his language as he moves. He takes you to an area south of the pyramid. A large tent is being erected and several wooden buckets are being brought over. A fire is being prepared. Your boats are secured to a dock. You note that Peylae has taken the backpack of newfound items with her.
    Hashoven returns to common, “We have developed a cure for the ills that drinking this water will give you. Flukes and parasites abound in untreated water. The cure will make you ill for a short time. Use the buckets for this matter. It will flush your system well.
    A detachment of the Suel savages arrives with a makeshift stretcher. They load Ledego onto it and move him to a nearby wood structure. Peylae follows. At the concern of Comus and the crew, Peylae calms there concerns by saying, “They are putting us in a shelter more befitting the ship captain is all. They said they have enough skill to heal him but it may take some time.” Peylae encourages you to take the medication they offer.
    “Please do take the medication,” begs Hashoven, “it will not harm you. If you refuse to take it, we will have to remove you from the camp and quarantine you until we are sufficiently convinced of your health.” With that, he leaves with Peylae and Ledego.
    Another Suel man appears, he is also pale but his hair is blond with reddish tones. He is dressed in a white vest and white pantaloons. The pantaloons have a strip of silver thread running down the outside of the leg at the seam. He carries a small gold harp with him. “I am Omerhry, I know this purification process is not enjoyable,” he says in common. “I will try and ease your suffering with song. You sir,” he looks to Alip,”your people are an ancient enemy of my people. We do not need to unearth that battle. Please, when I sing of the ancient history of the Suel, know that I am cherishing history and not trying to anger you. I would have to be understanding should I ever cross the Bramblewood forest and visit your homeland in the west.”
    “As you request,” answers Alip.
    He looks to Breymeer, “You of the north. A tale is told of the northmen from across the sea. If this tale be true, you and I came from the same peoples. This should comfort you for Suel bloodlines are strong when kept pure.”
    “A for the rest of you,” he continues, “I hope my voice can help pass the day. For tomorrow you shall begin to feel better.”
    With that, he begins to play the harp and sign tales of Suel history for the remainder of the day.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:01 pm  

    You are somewhat saddened at the final result of your tent as it only has a roof to shelter you from the sun. The fabric of the roof only tapers a little more than a foot below the edge leaving all four sides exposed. A fire is made nearby and a small cauldron of water set upon it. At least you are partially screened by jungle growth from much of the camp.
    A Suel woman appears, “Good evening Omerhry, you are kind to offer your entertainment. And good evening others. I am Noli.” She is tall, thin and pretty. Her skin is milky white. She has very fine facial features and very pale straight blond hair. She wears a light weight yellow robe chased with black treading. As she enters the tent, you realize the black threads create the image of small bees on her robe. She pulls a small pouch out from a pocket in her robe. “We have devised this cure for the jungle ills that have plagued us. It will make you ill until later tomorrow but will save you much suffering overall. We will check on you during the course of the medication to make sure all is well. We do have some healers among us so you will recover.”
    She says something to Omerhry in their language and walks to the fire. There she appears to pray and engage in a spiritual ritual. She eventually pours a brown powder from the small pouch in her hand into the boilding cauldron. After a few minutes of boiling, she has liquid poured into bowls for each of you. You see two are taken in the direction of Ledego and Peylae’s location.
    “Well boys, ain’t a chance it is worse than that mud tasting ale we drank in the Isle’s.” The crew gives a little laugh except the half-elves. “You drank it, not us!” replied Larrig.
    With that, the bowls are emptied. The bowels will soon follow.

    It doesn’t take long for the effects to kick in. Luckily, some of the Suel savages come and construct small cloth partition between each of your cots. You are brought comfortable looking tunics and pantaloons, each a very light red color. The cots themselves are simple wood frames stretched with some type of wicker fabric. Before long your buckets are put to use. The night passes with not much for sleep. Fresh water is brought to you to keep you from getting too dehydrated. As stated, you are ill but not dying. Omerhry moved to a chair that was placed outside of your tent; and upwind. He retired at some point during the evening.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:04 pm  

    Not long after first sun, Noli returns with a few savages carrying fresh fruit juices and some boiled eggs, “You will not be better until this evening. We shall inspect each of you to make sure all is well.” Omerhry also arrives and returns to playing music for you. Again, he plays of the great Suel culture and history. You note that your clothing and equipment has been removed and cleaned. The old tattered and soiled clothing is gone and fresh clothing has replaced it. The clothing is a simple tunic, white in color, with a light vest, also white. The pantaloons are a light red in color. Your arms and other equipment has been cleaned. Metal and leather has been oiled. You see nothing missing.
    She leaves you to your food with Omerhry playing softly from his chair.
    Shortly thereafter, Hashoven arrives. He pleasantly states, “I request each of you come with me in turn.”
    With that starts a routine that goes throughout the morning. Hashoven guides each of you to a small wood structure nearby. The order begins with Comus and then the crew, each in turn. Following them, Breymeer, Southar, Alip, Grimlock, Cerdio, Cirdan Saralonde, Ide Otneaux, Tanin and finally Berry Hairycheeks each take their turn.
    The wood structure is a simple building with a domed roof. They look you over checking for exterior parasites such as lice. Hashoven gives you a liquid to drink, “This will help you get rid of your need for the bucket.”

    “I want to make sure this medicine isn’t rejected by you. Some have vomited after taking it and it is important to keep it down to help, er, things get back to normal.” Hashoven then asks you, “So what brings you to the jungle?”

    A few of the characters divulge some information. Most importantly, Southar tells of his family being taken and his will to seek out the slave takers for revenge.

    As the rest of the day passes into late afternoon, and you have all returned to the tent and bathed, Peylae arrives. She has bathed and is dressed in a red top and light white pants. “I cannot stay long, as you all have discovered, the second regiment of medication will not completely right us until nightfall. I wanted to check on you and tell you what I know so far. As guessed, this group appears to be Suel explorers. The language they are speaking is Suel and I am somewhat fluent in it as is my father. They said they will be able to help him heal and will meet with us tomorrow morning to discuss things. For now, they said to rest and heal.” She lowers her voice and looks around, Omerhry does not appear to be listening, “I’ve learned the Suel are a complicated people. They fancy themselves better than others but that does not necessarily translate into danger. If this group is truly explorers, then we may have nothing to fear from them. I, however, have not heard what it is they will expect in return for healing my father. I will return in the morning for a meeting that has been set by Noli. Apparently, a man named Horan will be here in the morning to discuss options. It sounds to me that Horan is in command of this exploration.”
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:09 pm  

    After Peylae’s departure, the rest of the evening drifts by without incident. Omerhry continues to play Suel ballads for your entertainment. You are fed and your bodily systems seem to have returned to normal. You feel better somehow; a little weak but better. The buckets are removed and the air in the tent freshens a bit.
    Noli arrives at dusk and alerts you that Horan will be meeting with you all after breakfast.
    The morning comes with fresh rain. You are fed well. After breakfast Peylae arrives. She said Ledego is improving and would like to speak to all of you after this meeting. You wait, nervously, for Horan to arrive. You are curious what his offer for you may be.
    Horan arrives with a break in the rain about midday. He is a Suel man. He carries himself very proudly bordering on arrogant. He is dressed in red silk robe. You cannot help but feel he is mystic. He wears a trimmed mustache and goutee. His hair is a whitish blonde. He wears it shoulder length. You feel his eyes see all; very piercing. He has a white gold clasp of a skull holding his robe closed below his chin. Several skull shaped white gold buttons hold the rest closed. His voice is deep but calm and southing.
    He addresses you in common, “Please do not be alarmed by my adornments. I do not represent evil. I am a follower of Wee Jas whom only a few of you are familiar I am afraid. She is our matron of magic, but also death. She shepherds our departed from this world.”
    “Let me begin by telling you of my expeditions here. I am an explorer. An archeologist if you will. I am not an adventurer that seeks slaying of monsters and plundering of treasure. I seek knowledge and antiquities. I enjoy exploring these old Olman ruins. Often I find they belonged to other occupants even before the Olman. Some of these ruins date back thousands of years. Very intriguing.”
    “But all that does not matter to you right now. You are concerned about Ledego and getting out of this swamp. I believe we are in a position to help each other and have a mutually beneficial agreement; which is always a perfect agreement.”
    “I am currently exploring a ruin south of here in the Xaro Mountains. It is the range you can see on the horizon. The city was once called Xuxulieto. It once belonged to the Olman. They believe it is cursed now and call it the Forbidden City and they shun it. What remains is a ruin divided by many different factions and creatures. It is mainly occupied by the Yuan-ti. Snake-men you could call them. They were once men, cursed into their new forms. They are very formidable. Other groups occupy territory within the city also. You met one of them when he sank your ship. The great Gouthogg himself has made a lair in the city. Gouthogg is very sharp tongued but not beyond reason. In this mess, I have established a basecamp. I have been able to parlay with the stronger groups. I have convinced them I mean them no harm, only exploration. So far, I have been able to keep at peace with them. I am, mind you, not without my own powers. However, I do not wish to destroy the city in attempts to control it. Again, I am an explorer, not an adventurer.”
    “So why would I need you, you ask. There is currently a small Olman settlement near to Xuxulieto. They are suspicious of other peoples and have been reluctant to speak to me. I would like to establish a basecamp near their village to save me a lot or work. Unfortunately, I fear they may be violent if I am not able to establish a trusting relationship with them first. I recently discovered through a couple spies in Xuxulieto that the Olman chief’s son has been captured and will likely soon be sacrificed. The spies were able to steal his ornamental mask back from his captures, the Yuan-ti. Unfortunately, fate turned on me at this point. The spies betrayed me and fled with their treasure, stealing a boat from me in the process.”
    “Strangely, Gouthogg set into motion a series of events that gives me hope. For, you see, you stumbled across the dead thieves; in a spider’s lair I hear. You recovered my boat and the mask.”
    Seeing your confused looks about recovering his boat he clarifies, “Let me explain. The box you found is a magic boat. When you speak the proper words, you can change the box into a small boat like the ones you arrived in. Also, if you speak the correct words, it will change into a much larger boat. One that can handle somewhat larger waters.”
    “So this brings me to my offer. My assistants will heal Ledego with our deities blessings. I ask of you a short adventure. I ask you to sneak into Xuxulieto and rescue the Olman chief’s son. Although the fate of the Olman man does not concern me directly, his rescue could greatly help my cause. I do not wish ill upon the man, mind you. It is just the way of the jungle that he finds himself set to be sacrificed to the Yuan-ti gods. Before you feel too badly, understand the Olman also practice sacrificing to their gods. It is their ways.”
    “So, I request, with my aid, that you try and rescue the Olman man so that we may return him to the Olman people. I believe we can win over their support if we are successful. With the boat and mask, you recovered a bluish colored oil in a glass vial. I created this oil to communicate with the few tribes whose language I cannot speak. If you rescue the Olman man, you can use the oil to speak to him. One of you must rub the oil on your lips and ears and you will understand and speak his language for a short period of time. There are several applications within the vial so use it sparingly. Should you complete the mission, advise the Olman Chief that your ‘Chief’ would like to parlay with him and then introduce me to him. If you succeed, I will give Ledego my magical boat so that you may leave this swamp with him and his crew. If you fail, we can discuss other options.”
    “It is extremely important that you do not divulge my assistance in this matter. For if the Yuan-ti think I am aiding the Olman, they will turn on me and all I have worked for so far will be lost. The Yuan-ti and the Olman peoples have fought with each other since the beginning of time as they know it. If you knowingly divulge my involvement, I will consider you a traitor to my cause and you will have me and my assistants as enemies. Since we are your only friends in this swamp, your chances of surviving this wilderness are minimal.”
    “Should you chose to accept this mission, you must complete it by the full moons a few days from now. I believe that is the day the Yuan-ti will complete the sacrifice. I will aid you in your travels to the city. Once inside, try and keep your activities as hidden as possible and focused on the rescue mission to avoid a retaliation from the city occupants. They are all formidable in their own ways.”
    “I will wait your answer at the pyramid. Come to me one by one and give me your answer. Should the answer be ‘yes’ then you may request some armor and weaponry for the task. I will supply it as I can or feel necessary. I will also supply the normal gear I think you will need.”
    “You have until sundown to seek me. I believe Ledego wishes to speak to you now. I will retire and leave you to go to him. Thank you for returning my boat.”
    As Horan moves off to the area of the pyramid, you all move to Ledego and Peylae’s tent. Ledego is there, lying on a comfortable looking cot. His color is better and he asks to be propped up.
    “Thank you all for getting us this far,” he begins, “I know Horan has given you his offer. If you chose to complete this arrangement, I will hold your duty to me complete and release you all as free men. On top of that, I will bring you to a safe port at no cost.”
    He looks down somewhat defeated and then back at the group, “The only trouble I have is this. Gouthogg stole two chests from the ship that were very important. Thanks to Grimlock and Peylae, he did not get all three. The chest contains many important things to me. The missing chests also contain the vast majority of our monetary funds. Finally, they contain some spellbooks that are very important to us.”
    “So I ask of you this. Please accept Horan’s offer so we may get a seaworthy ship to sail out of here. Also, while in the city, see what you can learn about Gouthogg’s lair. We saw him flying one day across the lake while you were in the spider’s lair. He must leave for extended periods of time. If you could sneak into his lair and recover what is rightly ours, I would reward you to the greatest of my abilities.”
    “Each of you make your own decisions. I will not hold you a coward should you chose not to go. Horan appears likely to keep us around, and therefore, keep us alive, until he finds a use for us. I fear we will have to earn our way out and the longer we are here, they greater the cost will be. The Suel can be a very tough people; especially those with control of magical energies.”
    “My crew and I will remain here and prepare for our return to civilization. I know you will succeed.”
    “Each of you go now and give Horan your decision. Return to your tent and think on it a while if you must. Grimlock, Cirdan Saralonde and Cerdio, would you three elves please stay with us for a while and tell us about how things are going in the homelands.”
    Each of you takes a turn to answer Horan as the day passes.
    Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde and Cerdio, Ledego and Peylae offer you a gift. They offer to let you study their spellbooks for this adventure if you chose to go on it. If you complete the mission, they will teach you what they can and help you in creating a new spellbook of your own. Cerdio admits he does not have any magic powers but would be interested in assisting Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde where needed. Maybe he would be able to someday learn the arts.
    Also, Peylae cast the armor spell on both of you.

    In game terms, you will have your spell points to use on any spells from a list I give you. You can cast any of the spells at will as long as you have the spell points to do so. You will not be able to recover spell points without a spell book so once the spell points are used up, you are done casting. You would still be able to use spells from your scroll without burning spell points.
    You will have received from Ledego and Peylae components to cast each spell once. If they are really common (salt, chalk, powder, etc) you can repeatedly cast. If it is more uncommon (bless cured leather for armor spell) then it is a one shot wonder for you.

    <The characters are still really low level so I am trying to given them a little mojo. Besides, because of how I started the adventure the poor mages had to start the campaign without spell books or components. This gives them some more excitement.>
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:13 pm  

    The previous day passed with the curious mystery that surrounds Horan.
    After sunrise, Noli and Hashoven arrived with breakfast juices. They are followed by the Suel savages carrying baskets of food. For the humans, eggs, meat and bread. For the elves, a special treat of various tree nuts. For Hairycheeks, a pipe and smoking weeds. For Tanin, ale.
    “We will repeat the process again today,” says Noli. “You shall each visit with Horan near the pyramid to receive your gear. But first, please enjoy your breakfast.”
    Peylae and Omerhry come walking up while you eat. Peylae carries items wrapped in cloth. Omerhry is playing lightly while they walk and talk. It is obvious they are speaking Suloise. They appear to be jovial.
    Their conversation stops as they arrive. Omerhry says something and walks off, waving.
    Peylae smiles and then turns to your group and says, “Thank you. You have each offered to partake in this exploration. May blessing be upon you. May all nine of you come back in the same condition you leave us. Please be careful. The Yuan-ti are a dangerous breed. Do not underestimate them. Also, the jungle will hold as many dangers as this swamp, if not more. As for the Olman, they are primitive and secluded. Be patient and understanding of them and you may succeed. But be warned, they are a suspicious people. Most of them were driven from these lands to the Amedio Jungle to the west. They will not be trusting of strangers. As for Gouthogg, we have witnessed his power. Do not throw your lives away needlessly. Again, I cannot thank you enough. I will be waiting restlessly for your return.”
    Peylae throws Hairycheeks a pouch, “It contains medicines from the jungle. I learned of them from Omerhry. May they serve you well in times of need.”
    Peylae unwraps three torches that have their tops bound tight with a thick, dark fabric, “Alip, Breymeer and Southar, you may find yourself in need of these. These torches are enchanted and will not burn out. Keep them wrapped to hide their light when unneeded.”
    You each take your turn going to visit Horan and receive your equipment. From there, he tells you to gather at the docks.
    At the docks, your boat, the Amdir, has been prepared. You have better oars.

    <The person running Grimlock's character is dead set on trying to get something going with Peylae (for better or worse). So, I rolled a few dice and added the following>

    Grimlock, after taking your turn gathering your equipment, you slip over to Ledego and Peylae’s tent. Ledego is resting peacefully when you enter. Peylae is carefully storing the spellbooks and components. She must sense your presence for she turns to greet you and rises from her kneeling position. Before she can speak, you grasp her about the shoulders and kiss her. The kiss is not returned but yet, she does not push you away. She looks you in the eye, “Dear Grimlock, I am flattered by your attraction. And I find you a handsome man. The trouble is, I do not run around with every adventurer that I happen across. If your heart is sincere, then return and let us get out of this swamp. Your patience will win me over faster than romantic goodbyes.” With that, she kisses your forehead and bids you strength and a speedy return. Believing you have gained ground, you bid her farewell and walk, possibly even skip, down to the docks wondering why you can’t get going sooner.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:15 pm  

    Each of you looks more prepared and equipped than since the day you all met on the docks of Highport so long ago. Alip and Grimlock wear leather armor/breastplates; both are dyed a dark shade. Ide Otneaux, Southar, Breymeer and Tanin all don studded leather. Cerdio, Cirdan Saralonde and Hairycheeks all travel without armor. Those will armor were advised to remove it as much as possible to keep from overheating. Grimlock and Tanin carry shields. Both of wood. Grimlocks painted black.
    For missile arms, Grimlock and Tanin have crossbows, Southar, Breymeer and Cerdio carry long bows, and Hairycheeks has the sling found in the spider lair.
    For melee arms, Breymeer, Grimlock, Southar, Cerdio and Hairycheeks wield various swords and daggers. Alip has a scimitar and spear. Ide Otneaux has a wickedly huge double handed axe and a spear. Tanin has a mace.
    You are feeling confident as Horan approaches with Hashoven and one savage looking fella. “This is Neras. He will be your guide to the Forbidden City of Xuxulieto.” Neras is not overly strong looking but his muscles are well defined. He is naked other than a loincloth. He has strips of fur attached to his ankles and leather sandal looking footwear. He had a leather band set with a jaguar skull on his head. He carries a wooden shield and a spear. Two leather strap are worn diagonally across his chest from his shoulders. The first strap holds a dagger in a sheath. The second strap secures a quiver of arrows. He has a short bow shouldered. His naked skins shows many scars of weapon, tooth and claw. If not for his eyes, he does not seem much. His eyes speak where his mouth does not. His eyes show a busy mind and a fearless soul.
    Horan continues, “He does not speak but will lead you flawlessly to your destination. You will take your boat across the lake to another basecamp. From there, Horan will lead you up a river. Once you near the Olman lands, you will depart the boats and travel on foot through the jungle and mountains. Neras will lead you over one low range and then up a valley of the higher peaks of the Xaros. From there, he will guide you to the hidden city. He will wait for you where he leaves you. He will wait until the sun rises the day after the double full moons. If you have not returned by then, he will assumed you casualties and return to camp without you.”
    “According to the Oeridian calendar you are familiar with, today is Wealsun the 22nd. Celene and Luna will both be full on Richfest the 4th. That gives you ten days to save the Olman man.”
    “Safe passage and speedy return. Breymeer, may your Suel blood make us proud!”
    Hashoven is dressed in blue ceremonial robes. Hashoven prays for safety on your voyage across the lake and up the river. He prays for your speedy and safe return.
    With that, you board the Amdir and set off. There are ten of you aboard. You hope there are ten that return. The entire day is spent crossing the lake. You stay close to the shoreline. You take frequent breaks to keep from overheating. The breaks are taken on the lakes shoreline. While you eat, Neras scouts the woodline. The water you have with his hints of salt added to offset sweat loss. A few hours from nightfall, Neras guides the boat to a nearby island and hastens you to drag it ashore. You take cover under the canopy of leaves. A short time later, you catch a glimpse of a black dragon in the western sky flying lazily north. Neras gives it much time to disappear before he urges you back out to the lake. Neras takes you around a small peninsula that juts into the lake from the SW corner. The ridge that follows the western shore continues to get higher; with two notable humps as it approaches the Xaro range which is beginning to take up a predominate place on the southern horizon. Once you round the peninsula, Neras guides you into a bay where you shelter for the night.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Apr 10, 2014 4:41 pm  

    Breymeer, who had been sitting quietly thinking, “Before getting comfortable for the night, I would feel better with a quick scout of the immediate area. I will return and take the first watch of lookout for the night.” Breymeer walks over to the pouch holding the mask and potion, “We are lost if Neras gets separated or dies. We need to learn how to get to this city and back. With that, he removes the potion and smears a small amount on his lips and ears.
    Breymeer walks to Neras and addresses him, “Neras.” The savage looks up at him with wonder in his eyes. He understands?! “Neras, will you tell us the route you plan to take so that we may continue even if you are lost or killed?”
    Neras does not speak but reaches into his quiver and pulls out a very narrow tube corked on both ends. From the tube he withdraws a piece of fine vellum. On it is a very artistic map showing the lake you are camped, the surrounding mountains, jungle and swamp. He allows the group to gather around him. From the lake, a river is shown extending to the south. The river forks east and west. To the west, south of the west fork of the river is a valley that extends west-southwest into the Xaro range. There on the map is marked the city and dragon’s lair.
    He traces the river with his finger but stops short of the fork. Just prior to the fork, the river semicircles west around a rise in the land and then angles to the southeast. At the point the river angles to the southeast, Neras traces a line southwest across the land until it meets the western fork of the river. From the west fork of the river, he moves his finger across the river and continues it south to a valley. He moves his finger westerly down the valley to where the city is marked on the map.
    He looks at Breymeer and when Breymeer nods understanding, Neras rolls up the map and tucks it back into the narrow tube. He gives the tube to Breymeer. Neras points and Breymeer’s heart and then back at his own heart. Neras draws his dagger and cuts his chest deep enough to draw forth a small amount of blood. Neras puts his finger in the blood, points again at himself and then at Breymeer’s heart. Neras next wipes the blood on Breymeer’s armor covering his heart and grunts something in the language of the savages. Breymeer seems to comprehend and nods to him.
    With the daylight fading fast, Breymeer tucks the map into his pouch as says, “I will return. I am going to scout out a little quick and see if there is any signs of danger nearby.” With that, he disappears into the jungle. Neras also goes into the jungle, but not as if to follow Breymeer.
    Breymeer returns and camp has been prepared by the rest of you. You begin your night watch.
    Breymer, What Neras said to you was, "Our blood is ancestral." He appears to be acknowledging you share the same ancestors.
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    Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:01 pm  

    The group travels for four uneventful days, moving from the lake to the swamp and then farther up river (southward as they travel).

    At daybreak (Wealsun 27th) the group meets their first encounter.


    Cirdan Saralonde and Cerdio are covering the last watch. It is about half way through their watch. They hear a sound from the boat. It sounded like and oar bumping the boat.
    Cerdio and Cirdan Saralonde are on opposite sides of the camp, one on the north and one on the south. They are each sitting a little outside of the torchlight so as to try and use their dark vision. The boat is at the edge of the light and dark. They cannot see what made the noise.

    It is still dark. The sun has only begun to hint of its arrival. The air has become heavy with misty drizzle. Cirdan Saralonde moves over and wakes Neras pointing towards the boats. Neras begins to move down to the boats, spear in hand. Cirdan Saralonde begins to wake the rest of you saying something about a noise by the boat when it happens.
    A cry of alarm comes from Cerdio to the north of the camp. Moments later he is running into the circle of light screaming something about being grabbed. A spear flies through the dark, striking Cerdio in the back and piercing through his chest. He drops face first into the soil, tries to push himself up and then collapses again; he remains motionless.

    Neras makes it down to the boat in several large leaps that remind you of a cat. There is a humanoid next to the boat trying to quietly slide it down into the water. It rises to meet Neras. It stands all of seven feet tall. It is hairy and muscular. It has pointed ears and its eyes reflect red in the light. It growls a challenge revealing sharp fangs. It underestimates Neras’ speed and Neras drives his spear through the creature’s neck severing the spine. It drops dead immediately.

    Cirdan Saralonde runs to catch up to Neras, drawing forth two daggers as he moves. “Flip the boat for cover!” he yells. “Put our backs to the river and fight in only one direction!”

    Southar grabs his bow and shouts, “Retreat to the boat!” and “Grab Cerdio!” He nocks an arrow and looks for a target.

    Breymeer stays low, nocking an arrow. He holds his bow parallel to the ground.

    Grimlock shouts, “Put out the torches!” and “Mend Cerdio!” before slipping northwest into the dark.

    Hairycheeks moves to Cerdio’s side and inspects his wounds. Tanin moves to them and helps covers them with his shield. He holds his mace sturdy in his hand.

    Alip moves to the torches and begins stuffing them into his blanket trying to snuff out the light.

    Ide Otneaux hoists her mighty axe, moves slightly north and then easterly to help cover your movements to the boat. She squats low trying to make herself a smaller target. “Come fight me you cowardly bastards!” she yells into the dark.

    Cerdio is showing no indication of life.

    During this action, three more spears fly into your ranks from the north. One goes past Grimlock as he is shouting orders. The second travels slightly over Ide Otneaux’s head. The third clears the group and lands in the jungle south of the group (nice fumble).

    The sound of pounding feet running away from you to the north is the next thing you hear.

    There is no immediate sign of threat. They appear to have retreated.
    Cirdan Saralonde checks on the security of the boat finding it still safely on shore. Neras is examining the dead humanoid. Cirdan Saralonde moves back and joins the group checking on Cerdio.

    Breymeer announces, “I am going to follow the tracks a short distance to make sure they are retreating and not going for reinforcements. Anyone that wishes to join me may do so. Otherwise, be prepared for defense and organize positions.”

    Hairycheeks looks up, “Cerdio is dead!” Tanin remains in a cover position. Alip finishes gathering the torches and crouches behind Tanin.
    Ide Otneaux keeps her axe ready, “I will remain here in case they come back.”

    If not already in armor, you make sure to be so now.

    Breymeer, as you move into the jungle, you quickly locate the evidence of their retreat. You can follow their trail relatively easily at this point. You also catch a glimpse of Grimlock to your left flank. He appears to be moving in the same direction the creatures fled but trying to flank them.
    Grimlock, you see Breymeer, and possibly others, move to the north and begin to trail the fleeing creatuers.

    There is no immediate sign of threat. They appear to have retreated.
    Cirdan Saralonde checks on the security of the boat finding it still safely on shore. Neras is examining the dead humanoid. Cirdan Saralonde moves back and joins the group checking on Cerdio.

    Alip gets up and grabs his spear and scimitar, “I will go with Breymeer and cover his back.”
    Cirdan Saralonde recites an elvish poem (in elvish) as he gives respect to his fallen countryman. He continues in common, “We should have a code word for danger or such. Something like ‘FIGHT’. Also, each human should sleep next to his torch and be responsible for its quick illumination or extinguishment.”
    Cidan, obviously saddened, says, “I will bury him. Tanin, will you check that dead thing for anything useful?”
    “I will help you Noble Saralonde,” says Hairycheeks.
    Tanin looks at the dead elf, bows his head and says something quickly in dwarvish. He then moves on to the dead humanoid. “Hey, were did Neras go?”
    It is then you notice Neras has gone off somewhere.
    “Neras went off past me into the jungle on Breymeer’s right flank,” says Ide Otneaux. She remains vigilant at her post.
    Breymeer, Alip comes up behind you. The fear you have seen in his eyes has faded. Now you can see a desire for revenge. Your countrymen have battled Baklunish peoples over contested lands between Ull and your homelands in the past. You know they are very capable fighters. Alip nods to you, “For a northerner, you are okay. I was a merchant by trade. I have not fought your people. You northerners and Ket have not spilled blood and therefore I have no blood vengeance with you. I will follow you here.”
    Sensing his honesty, you return to your track. You find they are indeed retreating quickly. There is no signs of others joining them. You are beginning to think this was either a scout party or a recon patrol.
    You are moving quietly and carefully. You rarely catch a glimpse of Grimlock still moving parallel to your left. He has his crossbow out. After about 200 yards, you come to an area where one of the four breaks off to the left.
    Grimlock, you are doing your best to remain quiet and concealed as you parallel Breymeer on the track. You see Alip quickly joins him and they move off together, Breymeer in the lead and Alip not far behind him. Alip has his spear in one hand and his scimitar in the other.
    After about 200 yards, you see a humanoid figure crouched low to their left flank, maybe 15 feet off the trail. Breymeer has paused and seems to be interpreting the tracks. He looks around like he suspects a trap. The humanoid is slowly rising and preparing to throw a spear.
    Southar enters the jungle few minutes behind Breymeer and catches up to him as he is studying the tracks about 200 yards into the forest. You are aware that Grimlock is paralleling Breymeer to his left. Alip is just behind Breymeer.
    Breymeer, Southar catches up to you and Alip while you are examining the split in the tracks.
    The sound of a bolt being released by a crossbow alerts the three humans to a clear and present danger. Wanting to remain hidden and sneaky, the humans have crept their way along in the low light. They did not see a shadowed figure hiding behind a nearby tree. Fortunately for them, Grimlock, who had been moving to the human’s left did see it.
    Grimlock’s quarrel pierces the creature’s armor and it lets out a howl of pain (7, 14/21). Immediately, there is several savage war cries to the human’s east (right) and several more of the humanoids charge forward out of the undergrowth, weapons raised. They must have circled back and set this ambush. The three (from north to south) have (1) a flail, (2) a mace and (3) twin warhammers. From north to south, the humans are in this order: Breymeer, Alip and Southar.
    The one hit by the bolt turns and charges over towards Grimlock, spear lowered for a killing strike.

    The creature lets out another war cry and it comes running at Grimlock. Hate fills its red pupil eyes. It charges at you and lowers it spear. You grip your shield and prepare for the attack. The tip of the spear pushes your shield aside and the creature drives the spear into your upper abdomen. The strength of the beast is overbearing (8, 1/9). Grimlock is knocked back a step but is still able to bring his long sword down slicing into the creature shoulder (9, 5/21). It howls with rage and pain.
    Alip kneels to the ground and sets his spear against the charge. It catches the mace wielder in the guts and runs clear through him (8, 2/10). The spear keeps the creature too far away and Alip is out of range as the creature swings it mace at Alip’s head.
    Southar fires arrows at his attacker. The first catches the massive humanoid square in the chest and buries itself there (8, 9/17). The second flies by harmlessly. The furry monster closes in on Southar and tries to hammers him with a warhammer in each hand. Southar is transitioning to his melee weapon(s) and shows stunning dexterity as he dodges the first blow and ducks the second.
    Breymeer fires an arrow at his adversary striking it in the head and tearing off one of its ears as it ricochets off its skull (7, 4/11). Breymeer quickly draws forth his broad sword instead of shooting again. Just as he clears the scabbard, his reflexes bring the sword up and deflect a blow from a heavy flail.

    <Back at camp> As you morn for the lost elf, a sudden burst of noise brings you to the defensive. From a short distance into the jungle to the north, maybe 1/8 mile, comes the sounds of combat. Shouts, yells and cries of pain mixed with the clang of steel on steel.

    Southar takes a quick half step forward and runs his sword into the creature’s abdomen and runs it clean up into his chest. The creature drops both hammers, goes limp and slides dead off the end of Southar’s sword.
    Breymeer slashes the creature across its weapon arm causing a light cut (3, 1/11).
    Alip misses with a wide chop.
    Grimlock, in a swift motion, removes his blade from the creatures shoulder and lops off its head with a backstroke.
    Neras materializes from the jungle growth behind the Breymeer’s opponent and runs his spear into the back of its head. It drops dead. With amazing speed, he pulls the weapon back and throws it into the final enemy, piercing it and killing it.
    Neras walks over and removes his spear, no emotion showing on his face as he wipes it clean on some greenery.
    <Back at camp> As quickly as the fighting started, the sound of battle ends.
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    Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:09 pm  

    The scout group returned to camp where Grimlock drank a potion of healing from Cerdio's equipment. There they split up the rest.

    Breymeer walks to the pile of Cerdio’s gear and looks to Cirdan Saralonde, “With you leave, many of these items are useful yet.”
    Cirdan Saralonde replies, “Indeed they are. And none so special to Cerdio that they must be left in honor. This body is just a shell now, Cerdio has been swept back up into the cycle of life. Take what you need.”
    Breymeer nods in the human way of acknowledgement and respect. He leans down and picks up Cirdeo’s quiver of arrows. Ide Otneaux walks over as he is doing so, “If you do not mind Breymeer, I will carry the bow and arrows. I may not find much need for them but if nothing else, I can lighten your load and carry them for you. Also, if you or Southar have a string break, this can be your replacement.”
    “I agree Ide Otneaux. It is wise for you to carry the extra bow and arrows and use them if needed. I would also ask that you carry the extra longsword from Cerdio. You are much stronger than I or Southar. It would be good to have an extra sword also. I did not enjoy defending myself with wooden sticks.”
    Ide Otneaux replies, “Indeed.”
    Breymeer also grabs the potion of healing and carries it to Hairycheeks. The halfling hands it to Grimlock who states before drinking it, “Thank you all. I got run through pretty good.” He consumes the potion and immediately the wound begins to heal and close up. It does not completely heal but only a small scab remains.
    Breymeer offers to Neras to take what he needs, “Neras, please, take what you wish of the treasure or gear.” Breymeer holds out a bag of coins and Cerdio’s long sword in gesture. Neras just looks at him and then points to the boat and then up river.
    With that, you dig Cerdio a grave, eat some rations and pack up the boat for some more lovely rowing.
    You only row about half of the day and Neras motions you to the western shore. Breymeer and Southar can see there is a trail here. You are at the point in the river where Neras is taking you across a ridge to the western fork. From here, you will be on foot.
    A thunderstorm rolls in as you reach the shoreline. Breymeer and Southar see no signs of danger and Neras seems unafraid. You stow the boat on shore and gear up for the hike. You can see already the first leg is going to be all uphill.
    The trek from here is no more fun that paddling. The trail is narrow, a blinding rain is falling, it is muddy and you are walking uphill.

    The party walks for two more days, crossing a ridge and a river in the valley beyond. They make the turn westward into the valley among the Xaro Mountains that will take them to the Forbidden City.

    On Richfest 1st, they were ambushed by a score of Tasloi, 6 of them riding wasps. In an incredible show of bad dice (good for the party), every net and lasso I used against them missed. They quickly dispatched about 1/3 of the tasloi and the rest fled. During the fight, Alip, Berry Hairycheeks and Ide Otneaux all took hits. Otneaux drank her potion of healing (she took a critical that was leaking blood). After the battle, they regrouped and continued on.
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    Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:39 am  

    They travelled closer through the valley.
    On the 2nd, You wake to find the fog still settled in the valley. You eat and break camp. You continue your trek up the valley floor. The sky remains cloudy but only a few bouts of rain disturb the day. They are short and insignificant.
    About mid-day, your column stops. Crossing the valley, perpendicular to it, is a series of totum poles and rocks with carvings upon them. There does not seem to be a logical pattern to them. Some of the totems reach fifty feet tall. The rocks appear to be from the overshadowing hills around you. The symbols tend to be of jungle animals, bats, and similar (think Aztecish). They are spaced about 25 feet apart and continue the short distance you can see north and south.
    Neras spit on the ground and waved you forward. You found the whole thing a bit unnerving but you continued on following your guide, putting your trust in the people that hold your key out of this jungle.
    From the point of the totem poles, the hills to the north climb higher to become a broken mountain range. The range to the south bends to the southwest opening the valley wider. The valley itself becomes broken by isolated low peaks, hills, valleys and gourges. It will be more difficult to navigate. In the center of the valley, miles ahead, a rounded hill rises hundreds of feet higher than all others in the valley although the peak is lower than the sourrounding ranges. The rounded top appears to be covered with tree growth and jungle cover. The hill rises about 2000 feet from the valley floor and is several miles across at its base. The hilltop appears to be nearly a mile across. Neras points to the rounded hilltop. He then leads you forward.
    The day ends with the return of the fog. The night promises to be colder yet. Perimeter checks and night watch are uneventful. Hairycheeks adminitrations have slowly helped close wounds on himself, Alip and Ide Otneaux.
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    Sat Apr 19, 2014 7:52 am  

    On the 3rd, they met a surprise -

    The moons kept the night illuminated although the ground was covered in a heavy fog. The afternoon brings clouds and drizzle.
    The day in uneventful. You believe you will reach the base of the rounded hilltop by nightfall. And you would have if Neras didn’t stop you march by later afternoon. He signals to you to make camp several miles short of your destination, hidden behind a small hill next to shallow gorge. The gorge’s twisting form runs west towards the hill where it cuts into the hill in the form of a small valley, climbing about 1/3 the height of the hill. Neras immediately moves down into the gorge to scout.
    You move to the hillside and start clearing a small area for camp. Southar, Breymeer and Grimlock begin a perimeter check of the hill with the intent of climbing down in to the gorge next. Within about a half hour, the trio has completed its search around the perimeter of the hill. They rest and eat a bit before heading down into the gorge. Neras is assumed to still be out in the gorge himself.
    While eating and resting, the skies clear a bit and the wind shifts slightly; coming in from the northeast. A most wonderful flower fragrance comes wafting into the camp. You are growing accustom to the flora and fauna of the jungle, a mixture of smells and colors, but this, this is so wonderful.
    “That is the most pleasant smell!” Alip stands and breaths in deeply.
    “Yes,” agrees Hairycheeks, “it is certainly better than a jungle adventuring dwarf. Wouldn’t you agree Tanin?” Hairycheeks giggles about this. “I wonder if it has any medicinal value. I would like a look at it. Does anyone wish to join me?”
    “Indeed,” answers Alip, “I will go with you.”
    Tanin seems to be enjoying the change himself but only replies, “Hurmph. You are like a couple of young dolts chasing a pretty flower!”
    Ide Otneaux just looks at them, as if she has never had the intent to dress pretty or wear perfume.
    Cirdan Saralonde speaks, “Elves appreciate the finer things in life. I will join you and partake of this beautiful fragrance.”
    Breymeer says nothing, he just walks with the group, a smile of pleasure on his face. Southar on his heels, “Wow. That is pleasant.”
    Grimlock agrees it is a wonderful smell, “I will stay in camp, go and pick me a pretty flower.”
    The troupe ambles off to the northeast. Tanin, Ide Otneaux and Grimlock stay behind finding this a fool’s errand.
    Alip leads the group just a short distance through the thick growth to the edge of the gorge where a towering bush clings to the edge. The twists and climbs to the height of 20-25 feet. Along the towering stalks, purple blossoms sprout. They appear to be the source of the beautiful smell.
    Without a word, Alip walks near the bush, “This looks like a wonderful spot for a nap!” With that, he lays down within an open leaf. The leaf is bordered by small thin hairs. It suddenly snaps shut on Alip and springs erect, bringing Alip along with it. It swings upward and suspends him about 15 feet off the ground. He immediately begins screaming! It is not a scream of fear. It is a scream of pain and terror! (1, 5/10).
    There is one other leaf that is similar to the one that Alip goes to. Hairycheeks, Cirdan Saralonde, Southar and Breymeer all move towards the leaf fully intending to lay within its welcoming circumference.
    Grimlock moves through the growth not far behind the group. He is being very careful to avoid making noise or being seen. Grimlock bursts out of the undergrowth, a waterskin in hand. He hurls it at Cirdan Saralonde as he is about to lay himself down into the leaf. The waterskin hits Cirdan Saralonde in the back covering him in water.
    Cirdan, deep within your psyche, your elvish blood is trying to shake you awake. You feel you have wandered into a dream, entranced by the smell of this lovely flower. Just as you are about to give into the desire to lay down, the iron will of your elvish ancestory overcomes your desire and your head begins to clear. You natural resistance builds and you feel your head clearing. Just then, you are struck in the back by some force and you are covered in a warm liquid. Your brain fully comes back. You stand before the plant now aware of the dangers. Southar, next to you, says, “If you do not wish to lay down Cirdan Saralonde, please step aside for I wish to relax.” Breymeer is looking at Cirdan like he is standing in Breymeer’s way.
    Breymeer is Grimlock’s next victim as a waterskin hits him in the torso and splashes on him. There is no apparent affect. Meanwhile, Southar lays down into the leaf. It snaps shut and Southar begins to scream! (7, 23/30).
    Ide Otneaux rushes in with her massive axe and buries into the stem holding Southar (8, 13/21). The stem snaps into the air but the weight of Southar and the damage done to the stalk causes it to split and Southar, encased within the mantrap leaf, drops to the ground with a heavy thud (1, 22/30).
    Tanin rushes to the base and begins chopping at the leaf to try and free Southar. Cirdan Saralonde draws forth a dagger and assists Tanin.
    Meanwhile, Alip screaming trails off and then stops altogether.
    Ide Otneaux turns and charges into the plant hacking wildly at the main beam with her axe (13, 0/21). Grimlock joins her and hacks into the bush taking large chunks (critical hit but already dead). The main beam is severed and the entire top portion of the plant falls over the edge of the gorge.
    Tanin (1, 8/9) and Cirdan Saralonde (1, 16/17) are able to free Southar, who is still screaming from acid burns (7, 16/30), from the cusp of a leafy tomb. Both receive acid burns on their hands for their efforts. The head of Tanin’s axe breaks off due to damage from the acid.
    Breymeer continues to stand around looking blankly ahead. Hairycheeks says, “This is a fine mess. They have ruined the plant.”
    Southar looks the worse for wear but he is still alive.
    Alip’s demise is assumed as he went over the edge of the gourge still stuck in the plant.
    The party regrouped and moved the characters back to camp. Neras arrived and burned some plant material to end the "charm".
    The next day, the group set out to explore the hilltop and search for the forbidden city.
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    Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:15 pm  

    The party woke the next day. They cleaned and prepared equipment. To save room on the post, I will cut it short. Neras led them to the hill. There they climb up to various vantage points and got a good look at the city from above on the rift walls. Neras then led them to a little known entrance in the side of the hill. At this point, Neras left them. They are to rescue the tribal chief's son and meet Neras at the camp (next to the mantrap battle) within two days time or he would assume them dead and leave.

    The party entered the vines and creepers overhanging the cave entrance with much fear of another killer plant . . .

    Breymeer steps up and appears to give the final answer, “I am putting my trust in Neras. We need to search here for an entrance. You may follow me if you wish. We need to get in and get the hostage only. That is our goal right now. We can locate the stolen chests later. If we find them now, great.”
    Ide Otneaux just watches the group.
    Completing his statement, Breymeer walks to the heavy growth of flowing vines and lainas. He goes carefully, paying much attention to the ground and area around him.
    All fall into their marching orders excepting Grimlock. You are unsure if Grimlock is undecided or if he is going to fall into the rear of marching order
    Southar joins Breymeer up front, side by side going into the brush, prepared for combat.
    Tanin goes in next, “Only an elf could be happy with this.”
    Cirdan Saralonde and Hairycheeks are next. Cirdan quips, “So let me see if I have this right. We are standing at the top of a cliff. At the bottom is a big flat area with a city spreading out. In this city is the Chief's son, whom we are to rescue and get back to the spot where Neras is waiting (in two days), then back to the island with the Suel. All while avoiding coming across a Black Dragon or other things that would like to kill and eat us? I am not so certain it is comfortable to even an elf.”
    Ide Otneaux brings up the rear.
    You wade your way into the vines. Their structure is so that they are very thick but not deep. Almost immediately, you come upon a gaping hole in the side of the cliffwall. It is a broad opening, maybe 20 feet wide and 15’ or so high, shaped like a half circle. It extends back into the darkness.
    “This is a cut path,” says Tanin, “It is cut straight and level. This looks to be a road or a path to my dwarven eyes. The stones here have been worked and cut. I may like this yet Cirdan, my elf friend. This are looking better already.” Cirdan Saralonde does not look as pleased as the dwarf at the prospect of going underground.
    The path goes deeper into the hill, as far as you can see in the fading light of the evening.
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    Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:23 pm  

    Grimlock and Hairycheeks move forward into the darkness. As they slip out of sight, Grimlock says softly over his shoulder, “A hobgoblin is quieter than Tanin on a good day!”
    Southar uncovers one of the “magic” torches, illuminating an area 60 feet (radius). He then sets the torch so it sits at the top of one of his quivers.
    With Grimlock, the mysterious half-elf, and the halfling herbalist, Berry Hairycheeks, moving quietly ahead of the group in the darkness, the remaining members form a marching order. Southar and Breymeer lead the group. The two humans seem to be forming a good team. Their common interests and time together in the lead has caused them to anticipate each other a bit. Next, the noble, Cirdan Saralonde, takes the middle. The rear is covered by the uncommon associates, Tanin, the dwarf, and Ide Otneaux, the half-orc.
    Grimlock and Hairycheeks lead the group by 75 to 80 feet.
    The group moves forward cautiously into the ancient tunnel. The walls are damp with patches of moss, mold and fungus. Your footsteps echo softly as you go. Over the sound of your movements, you can hear the faint splash of water ahead in the darkness.
    Grimlock and Hairycheeks, you move forward through the tunnel approx. 200 feet. The tunnel turns about 45 degrees to your left. From beyond, a faint illumination can be seen. The light resembles that given off by glowing embers of a fire, it shimmers slightly on the walls ahead.

    The tunnel only extends another 20 or 30 feet and opens into a small chamber, maybe 20 to 30 feet across.
    This chamber is a large natural cavern, with a large pool filling most of it. Along the left wall is a five foot wide ledge running around the edge of the pool. The pool extends to your right into the darkness of a natural tunnel. The narrow ledge extends around the pool and ends in a small alcove on the far side, with the pool between the alcove and your position. The walls of the alcove are worked with carvings of snakes and men in a pastoral scene and at its back stands a large statue of a snake-bodies, six-armed woman. Flanking it are two charcoal braziers mounted on tripods. They cast a dim light throughout the room. Three canoes are beached in the alcove. The water appears calm and undisturbed.
    From the light of Southar's torch, you can see the pool leads into a natural tunnel that divides into several tunnels, all with water in them. The tunnel is either many separate tunnels or a honeycombed chamber. You cannot tell from here.
    Cirdan Saralonde questions, “I am concerned about something hiding here. Those canoes did not get here themselves. Either something is nearby, or gone off into the jungle. Should they return, and we have their canoes, it will certainly alert them to our presence here. If they return while we are in this chamber, we will shortly know if they are friend or foe.”
    Breymeer’s suspicion of this route is evident as he chimes in, “I think this is a path to failure and death and our chance of choosing the correct way is pretty low in here. I am more in my element outside looking for an alternative route in. However, if you wish to continue, I will do my best if someone has an educated guess as to which way to go in this environment. The odds of the exit to this thing being heavily monitored seems pretty high.”
    Tanin quickly adds, “I has been some time since I felt the closeness of rock. I will lead here, this is a dwarf’s domain. However, I do not love water and I fear we will have to cross it. I do not sense much for air flow here so I do not think it to be a large chamber. It seems closed off.”
    Grimlock wonders aloud, “How many of us would fit into those canoes? It looks to be only a few, maybe three. We would need all three. I think Hairycheeks and I should sneak up there and see what we can see and go from there.”
    “We will cover you as best we can,” adds Southar as he readies his bow.
    Grimlock and Hairycheeks move slowly around the left perimeter of the pool. Southar and Breymeer cover the movement with their bows. Tanin moves about ten feet into the chamber and points his crossbow out into the open chamber trying to study what he sees. Ide Otneaux watches the rear, oversized axe in hard.
    The pair makes it up to the area of the canoes and statue without incident.
    Grimlock and Hairycheeks make it to the area of the statue and canoes. Grimlock waves the rest of you forward, "There are paddles in the canoes. They look to be in decent shape. I say we jack the canoes and head into the cavern."

    "I agree," adds Cirdan Saralonde, "This is the way Neras sent us. Besides, the canoes may belong to the Suel."

    "I will rely on the fact that our guide brought us to this entrance. Lead us on Tanin," adds Breymeer.

    "There does not appear to be much for current in this pool. To me, it seems the sign point to it being relatively stable. I hear no sounds of moving water. I am not a boatsmen, but get me across this water, and I will lead on the dry good rock," encourages Tanin.

    Hairycheeks points out, "We should divide up by general weight."

    Hairycheeks and Ide Otneaux get into one canoe. Grimlock, Cirdan Saralonde and Tanin board a second. Southar and Breymeer take the third. Each has two paddles. You work your way into the caverns.

    Through trial and error you work your way back and forth through this flooded chamber (see map, send separately). During your paddling and exploring, a large crocodile was noticed floating near the surface. Once the canoes got near it dipped below and disappeared. After that, you could not help but feel it, or they, were nearby and watching you. You find yourself hoping you do not tip a canoe.
    Eventually, you discover the far end of the cavern, it not being very large (each square is 10 feet).

    The natural cavern ends in a small beach. Extending from the beach is a passage of worked stone. Two canoes have been pulled up onto the shore and the footprints of many creatures mar the smoothness of the sand. These prints are jumbled and old, making it impossible to identify the type of creatures that made them. It is obvious a crocodile has also surfaced here in the past.
    You can see the passage ends at a door.
    Grimlock offers, “Hairycheeks and I can sneak up to the door and see what we can hear from the other side.” He pulls his canoe onto shore.
    Breymeer adds, “I would like that. I do not want to get our asses handed to us when we blindly go through this door. I suggest if we come across someone or something we can communicate with, we make up some story about being lost and try and con or bribe them into giving up some information about what’s ahead. We have the language elixir if needed. That is, assuming it doesn’t want to kill us.”
    Ide Otneaux pulls a canoe farther onto the beach, “If it does, my axe can speak for us!”
    Tanin just watches the water for danger.
    Southar continues to examine the tracks, noting nothing additional.
    Cirdann Saralonde pulls a canoe ashore.
    Grimlock and Hairycheeks move quietly up the hallway to the door. The easily remain within sight of the group. The half-elf and the halfling move with grace and extreme quiet. They get to the door and pause. Each listens briefly.
    Southar, Breymeer and Tanin cover the hall with their bows.
    Cirdan Saralonde and Ide Otneaux watch the water.
    Grimlock & Hairycheeks, you can hear the room beyond is occupied. Several deep voices beyond are conversing but you cannot make out what is being said. There is the smell of wood smoke in the air.
    Grimlock and Hairycheeks return down the hallway. Grimlock reports, “I can hear voices on the other side of the door. They do not appear to be alerted and I think they are humanoids of some type, not tribesman.”
    Hairycheeks adds, “And they have a fire going. We could smell firewood.”

    Here a long debate about how to enter the room and what to do about the occupants carried on. They decided to go in loaded for bear but try and parlay.

    After some discussion, your plan is laid. Cirdan Saralonde will use the elixir on his ears and lips. He is to pause at the door and listen to the conversation for a while while Grimlock verifies the door is unlocked. When ready, Grimlock will step to the right and be ready with his crossbow. Meanwhile, Ide Otneaux will be on the left with her axe. Tanin will cover next to Grimlock, also with a crossbow. Southar and Breymeer will ready their bows behind Cirdan Saralonde. Hairycheeks will watch the rear for any danger.
    Grimlock checks the door. It is unlocked. Cirdan Saralonde is listening . . .
    Cirdan Saralonde, you can hear them speaking in general terms about nothing specific. They appear to be a small guard post. There is three or four different voices. It appears they may be bugbears.
    Cirdan Saralonde finishes listening at the door, “There are a handful of what I believe are bugbears in there. I am doubting they will be friendly. I have changed my mind. I think we should go in on the attack. Start with a volley of arrows. Then, when they come running out, we can chop them down one at a time.”
    Breymeer adds, “If this is a guard post, we cannot let them sound and alarm. After the volley, we need to charge in to prevent their flight. However, since Cirdan Saralonde can now speak to them, let’s do our best to take one prisoner if we can.”
    With that, and a nod to Grimlock, it begins.
    Grimlock throws open the door and steps to the right, grabbing his loaded crossbow.
    The room is carved stone, approx. 10 feet by 10 feet. There is a door straight across the room from you.
    There is a large pile of furs in the upper right corner of this room and the smoldering remains of a fire near the opposite door. Sitting near the fire are four large, big-headed, hairy creatures armed with throwing axes and fauchards. They are bugbears.
    You have not surprised them but have the initiative. They stand and prepare to throw axes at you. One of them moves towards the door opposite the door you just opened. One is shouting orders.
    “He said get the others!” translates Cirdan, “Kill the one going to the door!”
    Since the hallway is only about five feet wide, you are stacked tight. Tanin and Grimlock are low, shooting crossbows. Breymeer and Southar are high, shooting long bows.
    Behind them, Ide Otneaux waits to charge with her axe. Cirdan Saralonde and Hairycheeks make up the rear guard.
    The shooter let loose their arrows and bolts.
    Tanin sticks the bugbear moving to the door (6, 14/20) as does Grimlock (9, 5/20). The two bolts bury themselves deeply in its torso. It is obviously hurt but not down.
    Breymeer’s arrow deflects off its armor. Breymeer stows his bow, drawing his sword and dagger as he moves into the room for combat.
    Southar’s arrows fly off mark. The first sticks into the door behind the bugbear and the second flies wide right as he flinches away from an incoming axe that deflects off the door jamb ricocheting past his face.
    Ide Otneaux moves into the room to the right of the door, Breymeer to the left.
    The bugbears heave their hand axes at you. The velocity is astonishing. These creatures have great strength and power. Ide Otneaux is gashed on her left shoulder as the axe cuts through the armor and cuts her deep (8, 10/19). An axe directed at Grimlock strangely bounces aside just before striking him. One axe went past Southar as described above and the final axe hits the door just behind Tanin, sticking there.
    The bugbear going for the door reaches it; he is beginning to open it. The other three fan out and make a small pick line with their fauchards. The group starts to feed into the room. Breymeer on the left, Tanin secures his crossbow and advances up the middle with his mace and shield and Ide Otneaux is on the right flank with her axe. The look in her eyes is one of retribution.
    Cirdan Saralonde, you hear a command, “Take positions, fighting withdrawl.”
    From behind the group, Cirdan Saralonde shouts, “One of them ordered a fighting withdrawl. They are going for the other room!”
    Grimlock re-cocks his crossbow while Southar releases his first arrow. It misses the bugbear going through the door. It buries itself into the wooden door with a dull “thud”.
    Ide Otneaux wades into the fray. With a feint to the right and a spin to the left she avoids the pole arm. Continuing the energy of her spin, she swings her axe in a huge arc cutting through its right arm and burying the axe into its torso, splitting the ribs and hitting the spine. The energy pastes the bugbear against the wall and it slides down to the floor. Ide Otneaux wrestles her axe free and faces the next victim.
    Tanin, moving in parallel to his orcish companion, ducks under the polearm. He closes in and smashes his foe in the chest with his mace. The armor lightens the blow but the grimace of pain on the bugbears face is enough to show its effect (6, 16/22). The bugbear, raising his fauchard as Tanin ducked under it, brings the weapon down grazing Tanin’s abdomen lightly (3, 6/9). Tanin, off balance trying to avoid the blow, drops to his knees. The bugbear grins as it feels Tanin’s death is near at hand.
    Breymeer moves to the left flank and closes on the bugbear as it closes the pick line. Breymeer uses the heavy blade of his broadsword to knock the fauchard to the side. Breymeer steps forward and drives his dagger into its right thigh. The black glances off the armor without puncturing. The dagger attack does draw the bugbear’s attention off the broadsword. This Breymeer brings forward in a stabbing motion, driving the blade into its abdomen; this time cleaving into the armor and body (7, 9/16). The beast bellows in pain but remains standing. Its red pupils burning with hate within its pale green eyes. It pushes Breymeer backward with its left hand. Its seven foot tall frame displaying its flexed muscles and power. It brings its fauchard forward, spearlike, cutting Breymeer’s right arm lightly (3, 26/29).
    Grimlock takes careful aim and slowly pulls the trigger of his crossbow, aiming for the head of the bugbear at the door as it pushes the door open. The bolt strikes it in the head and ricochets off sticking a piece of hide to the door (5, 0/21). The bugbear falls forward face down; blocking the door open.
    Behind the door, you can see a larger chamber. It is approx. 20 feet by 20 feet (I will attach a map). There are two tables, each about 8 feet long and 4 feet wide, and eight chairs in the room. There are four more bugbears in view in the room. They are tipping the tables over creating a barricade near the center of the room. They are also armed with throwing axes and fauchards.
    Southar lets his second arrow fly at Tanin’s would be executioner. This arrow flies true over the head of Tanin through armor of the bugbear and into his left thigh (6, 10/22). The grin he bore on his face turns to scowl.
    The remaining bugbears in melee with you continue to withdraw towards the door.
    Hairycheeks updates from his rear guard position, “It is all clear behind us!”
    Grimlock reloads his crossbow; cranking the string back until it locks and placing a quarrel home.
    Tanin remains on his knees and uses his shield to cover himself the best he can. He swings his mace at the creatures exposed left foot. The mace impacts the foot and deflects to the side, bouncing up off the floor (2, 8/22). The bugbear begins to step back through the door, its fauchard still threatening Tanin.
    Ide Otneaux, pulling her axe free and seeing Tanin stay on his knees, spins to her right bring the axe level to the floor in a powerful arc rising up as she rotates. The axe clears Tanin’s head and catches his foe under the chin (18, -10/22). The bugbears body crumples and its head flies into the next chamber. The head rolls awkwardly up to the newly created barricades and comes to rest staring at the four bugbears behind the tables.
    One of the bugbears behind the tables grunts and snarls something that appears to be directed at you. The rest join in as all four stay low behind the tables.
    Meanwhile, Breymeer allowed the bugbear facing him to move to the door, breaking melee contact with it. Breymeer transitioned to his bow. His first arrow sinks into the bugbear’s left arm (4, 5/16).
    Southar also fires an arrow at it. His arrow flies by, slamming into the wall and shattering.
    Breymeer fires his second volley but in doing so, stumbles while back stepping. His bow angles up unintentionally as the arrow is released from the bow. The arrow ricochets off the ceiling, off the wall, off the floor past Tanin and out the door past Grimlock landing with a splash beyond. Breymeer, wide eyed, was able to retain his footing.
    Southar’s second volley finds its mark in the bugbear’s right arm as it withdrew from Breymeer (4, 1/16). It tries to jab Tanin on his way by but the arrow injuries to both arms prevent it from mounting an effective strike.
    Grimlock, with the whistling of Breymeer’s errant arrow in his ear, fires his crossbow at the multiply pierced bugbear making his way through the door. After both Southar and Breymeer perforated him, Grimlock’s slow bead on his head finds its mark. As with his previous shot, Grimlock the sniper, buts the bolt solid into the back of the bugbear’s head (5, 0/16). It falls dead onto the other three bodies that have stacked up in the doorway.
    All four bugbears in this room have perished.
    Over the din of battle, you hear Cirdan Saralonde’s voice shout, “The bugbears in the other room are asking for quarter! They wish to speak now!” he pauses to duck and incoming errant arrow, “They want us to hold our attack! They sound scared!”
    Hairycheeks cautiously steps to the side of the hallway. Not caring much for the incoming round from Breymeer.
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    Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:27 pm  

    Cirdan Saralonde repeats, “I can understand them. They want to parlay!”
    Southar and Breymeer both notch and arrow but do not raise for a target; keeping the bow at the low ready position. They flank the doorway staying in the 10x10 room side of the door.
    Tanin gets to his feet saying, “Those tables are going to give them shelter from your arrows, gents!” as then he moves through the door and into the 20x20room. His mace and shield in hand but not raised too threateningly. He clears the room to the left.
    Ide Otneaux moves though the door also, blood dripping from the head of her axe, “Tell them if they make a hostile move, they die!” She clears the room to the right.
    Grimlock the Sniper calmly loads another bolt and takes a fine bead on the group of bugbears, “I’ve got cover for you-two-wrecking-crew.” He kneels behind the bodies he helped pile up.
    Cirdan Saralonde stands behind Grimlock pulling on his noble roots he stands tall and proud, “Drop your weapons and raise your hands up.”
    The 2nd from your left bugbear answers in grunts, snorts, sneers and gestures. The weapons clang to the ground at their feet, you can see their empty hands clearly.
    Hairycheeks has moved into the 10x10 room and shut the initial door down to a crack, looking through it for danger; ready to shut the door if need arises.
    “Your nobility reeks here ELF. The upper hand is yours. We need no longer fight,” is the bugbear’s retort.
    As Cirdan Saralonde starts to speak to the bugbears, Grimlock adds a suggestion, “Tell them we know they are working for the tribe holding the captive. Find out how many of them there are and what we should expect and where.”
    Cirdan Saralonde appears to have already thought of this himself, “You may not respect me as a creature of the realm, but respect us for our ability to fight and the fact that we gave you quarter when you asked. How many more of you are there? Help us get into the city and you will have no more issue with us.”
    Tanin moves farther into the room behind Breymeer to help give him cover as Breymeer moves to the opposite door. Once there, Breymeer tries the door. It opens. He peers quickly into the space beyond.
    Hairycheeks, while keeping an eye on the door to the flooded chamber, starts to plunder bodies (He recovered 50 gp total from the 4 dead bugbears).
    The speaker of the bugbears speaks further to Cirdan in his banterous grunting way. The stand their ground defiantly but do not show any sign or intent of going for their weapons.
    Cirdan Saralone, the bugbears stand where they are showing some defiance, “Our lives forfeit either way. Your offer fair. We need the word of all, not just your voice. If we get you into city, you will allow us leave unmolested. We will return here and re-arm prior to leaving into the jungle. Deal?”
    Breymeer, the hallway is five feet wide and of cut stone (send map to his phone). Your light source is still back at Southar so you can only see about 30 to 40 feet down the hall before it gets too dark to see details. You hear nothing down the hall.

    Here the party discussed the bugbears and interrogated them as to what lay ahead.
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    Thu May 08, 2014 6:08 pm  

    The group spends some time interrogating the bugbears. When sufficiently satisfied with their answers, they free them as promised. Cirdan Saralonde opens the locked door in arched chamber (using a knock spell) and they moved farther down the passageway.
    Behind the door, a five foot wide passage of cut stone continues straight away from the door. You can quickly see the end of the cut chamber has collapsed about 50 feet ahead. There is some natural passages in the rock. They vary from five to ten feet wide and vary in height from 8 to roughly 15 feet in height.
    Just behind the door, there is a spike driven into the passage wall. The spike has a single key hanging from it. A quick deduction reveals it is the key to the door you just passed through.
    You return to your tunnel exploration marching order. Grimlock and Hairycheeks in the advance ahead of the light. Breymeer and Southar lead the main group. Cirdan Saralonde next followed by Tanin and Ide Otneaux.
    You quickly note the air here has a fresher smell to it. It is still damp but there is a noticeable air circulation here. It becomes less so when the door is shut behind you. You also noted the presence of life. Small lizards, rats and bats occasion here and there; the short dead end to the right producing a small flight of bats that flip and flap around you for a short distance. They return to their perch as you clear the second dead end. Down the main hall you go.
    As you wind your way down the main chamber, Tanin quietly (for a dwarf) says, “We have move a little west but have now turned to the northwest. I can smell the armory ahead. Move with caution.”
    Grimlock and Hairycheeks move forward up the natural tunnel a couple of hundred feet. The passage turns a short corner and opens into a small chamber, a little over twenty feet wide and thirty feet deep. Grimlock holds his position with his crossbow out. Hairycheeks returns quietly to the group and reports on the room before the light of Southar’s magic torch can reach any occupants of the room giving away the party’s movement. The party is nearly ½ way up the 150 foot northwest section of passage when Hairycheeks returns to them. He reports the following as he and Grimlock observed it:
    This chamber is evidently a blacksmith’s workship. In the center of the room is a circular forge about three feet high. Connected to this is a large bellows apparatus. Stacked about the edges of the room are wooden shafts, crude iron bars, shorts swords, three tubs of liquids, a table of tools, a large stack of cordwood, a smaller mound of charcoal, and a large chest. Chained to the bellows, with their backs to you, are a dwarf and a human. The human has a tattoo on his head. Two black lines run from the back of his balding head toward the front. The two are listless and appear resting. They have obviously been mistreated. The ceiling is open to the sky, but is shrouded by many vines that form a network overhead. It is apparent that his chamber is actually some sort of shaft. The fresh air is apparent. A wind blows overhead; outside of the shaft. On the far end of the room, you can make out a vine that extends from the floor into the mass of vines ahead. It is the only vine that hangs to the floor.
    Breymeer & Southar - both examine the floor periodically while you travel in the tunnel. You can make out the above mentioned little critters but also booted feet, likely the bugbears judging from the size, but also human sized footprints and also small footprints; smaller than a hobbit. They would be similar to the creatures that attacked you in the jungle. The wasp riders.
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    Thu May 08, 2014 6:28 pm  

    “If the bugbears were honest,” begins Breymeer, “I believe if we continue up the shaft via the hanging vine, a pile of nasty little critters will be waiting to attack. I am hoping the two captives have information that will help us decide our next move. We should give them water and provisions if they are coherent. Cirdan, maybe you can talk to them and find out who and when they expect someone to show up, a schedule of comings and goings around here, and so on. If they are in fact being kept against their will and they’re cooperative and friendly to us, we can free them and take them with us.”
    “I agree on the prisoners. I have a great dislike for those who would hold others against their will. We need to free them and check to see if the human is the chief’s son. I realized he does not fit the look of the tribesman, but we should verify he is not who we seek. If it is him, we should grab him and the dwarf, lock the door and head back to camp. Also, if the monkey men are using the single vine to gain access to the vines above, we could cut it in the event of an attack. That way, if they drop to attack, their retreat would be prevented. It may keep them in the vines above where we can target them with their arrows.
    Cirdan Saralonde offers to go into the room and try and speak to the prisoners, “I say we sneak in to the prisoners quietly and try and free them. I request Hairycheeks and Grimlock enter with me to cover me and attempt to pick the locked shackles open.”
    “Your movement would be better covered in the dark,” adds Tanin, “Southar could cover the illumination of his torch. He, Breymeer and I could wait at the opening. I will watch for danger and alert the humans in the event of danger. At the alarm, Southar could uncover the torch and we could shoot arrows.”
    “We need to climb that vine to get into another tunnel if what the bugbears said is true. If a fight starts, I will battle my way across to the vine and hold that ground,” promises Ide Otneaux.
    Hairycheeks agrees to the plan, “I will sneak back up and fill in Grimlock. We will wait for you. Make sure you move up the hallway quietly and in the dark.”
    Southar wraps the torch almost completely. It gives just enough light for the humans to move down the hallway safely. Hairycheeks hurries ahead to Grimlock. As you near the room, the fading light of the day can be seen in the room. The vines shade the daylight most completely, yet you can see dusk has fallen and the sun is all but gone. The light is not enough for the humans to make out details. It is dark in the room.
    You have yet three hours or so before both moons cross midnight.
    Tanin, Southar and Breymeer take up cover positions at the opening to the room. Tanin watches the vines for danger.
    Hairycheeks has briefed Grimlock and he agrees with the plan.
    Hairycheeks, with his short sword in hand, walks just ahead of Cirdan Saralonde. Grimlock moves just behind them with his crossbow prepared for danger. The circle the room to the right, trying to take advantage of the rough walls for cover (100xp Hairycheeks, 200xp Grimlock).
    There is no movement in the vines above.
    The trio moves across the room from the wall to the bellows. There they see the prisoners are chained. Locked shackles hold their chains in place. The prisoners realize they are not alone and peer over at the trio as they approach. The do not speak or seem overly concerned. The human appears to struggle a bit trying to get his eyes to pierce the darkness.
    “We come as friends. We would like to free you. Do you understand me? What can you tell us about the dangers here?” Cirdan quickly asks a few questions.

    Enter two new players. Tarstar and Grom. Grom is a dwarf from the Glorioles Mountains. Grom's interest in exploring the vast continent to the south caused him to travel to the Duxchan. He took employment on an exploration ship. There he met Tarstar. Tarstar is of mix decent; Suel/Oridean. He took work on a ship in his youth. The ship was involved in trade and some pirating. Tarstar learned to sail and navigate. He also picked up some of the finer arts of rouge work. As the captain took on more and more legitimate work, Tarstar became bored. In his off time he studied charts and old maps. When the opportunity arose for him to join a sanctioned adventure from the Lordship (Lordship of the Isles), he quickly joined. Tarstar was captured with his dwarven companion, Grom. The two were held as slaves among the tasloi until rescued.
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    Thu May 08, 2014 6:32 pm  

    Grom, dwarven fighter/priest (Dugmaren Brightmantle), lv 2,2
    Tarstar, human (suel/oridean from Lordship of the Isles) rogue, lv 3

    The dwarf remains quiet, he continues to watch the three.
    The human answers, “I understand you. Please hurry and unlock me. Grom here,” he nods his head towards the dwarf, “is friendly also. There are about a score of little greenish humanoids living in the vines above you. I do not know why they have not yet attacked. They have javelins and nets. They are quick. I have seen them go through the hole in the wall up yonder,” he now nods towards the opening to a passageway into the wall about 30 feet off the floor; it has the vine hanging down from it. He continues, “Maybe they have gone through the tunnel. Normally, they stay up in the vines.”
    Grimlock begins to work on the locked shackles. The human cooperates. Grimlock struggles and then moves to the dwarf’s shackles. There too he is unable to open them. Hairycheeks tries both locks but he also fails to gain their freedom.
    While the half-elf and halfling work in vain at the locks, you learn the two prisoner’s names. They are Grom, the dwarf, and the human is Tarstar (yes, you read that right).
    Cirdan Saralonde, you continue to watch while your partners are trying the locks. You catch a movement towards the entrance to the passage in the shaft wall. Something small is trying to makes its way into the tunnel from the vines. It is moving slow as it is trying to remain unseen. It looks to be the same type of creature as the wasp riders.

    Last edited by Sheepdog on Tue Jun 03, 2014 10:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Thu May 08, 2014 6:37 pm  

    Grimlock, donning his shield, asks Tarstar, “Can you usually see the green men when they are around or do they come out of a hole when an alarm is sounded? Do they watch you and drive your work? Why are you here and where do you go at the end of your day? If you are blacksmiths, aren’t you able to break your chains when unsupervised?”
    Tarstar answers, “They are above us right now in the vines. They blend very well in their cover. They do drive our work during the day. This is where we sleep at night. I have not broken my chains because they are always around, watching. They are no doubt watching us right now. We must break my chains now while we can before they attack. Free us . . .”
    At this point, Cirdan Saralonde interrupts them, “I see one now, it is moving towards the opening in the wall! Do you see it Grimlock. Stick an arrow in its gob!” Cirdan is focusing your attention towards the opening in the wall above the floor. Grimlock and Tarstar do not see it.
    Cirdan moves towards the north end of the room, near where the vine reaches the ground from the opening above. Grimlock moves back to the uneven east wall. Hairycheeks gathers up a couple hammers.
    Hairycheeks hands a hammer to the dwarf, Grom, "Smash your way out Grom!" The halfling then hands one to Tarstar, "You will have to smash your way out! Trouble's a'brewing!"
    Whispery voices begin to float down from the vines above. One of the little creatures suddenly swings his way through the vines. It catches the vine that leads to the overhead passageway and drops directly in front of Cirdan Saralonde as he nears the north wall. It has lustrous green skin, thinly covered with black hair. Its head is flat. Its legs long. It is between two and three feet tall. Its eyes are gold in color and appear feline like. Cirdan clearly hears it speak (the rest of you hear it as broken speech in human common), “Did the masters send you? Did you lose da key? (whispery snickering above). You come for deese two? Snake-god be happy! Master happy! Me help!” With that he dangles a key and chain that he removes from his neck, “For da chaining lock.”
    There is much movement above as over a dozen more move about, swinging and jumping from vine to vine. It is a confusing mess above. You do, however, note that they are all armed with various nets, javelins and short swords.
    Tanin shouts from the south tunnel, “I watched one of them disappear into the tunnel yonder. The one bored into the wall of the shaft. ‘Bout 30 feet up it is.”
    The little creature responds, “Yes, yes. We tell master you bring da odder two sacrifices! Big news!”
    Cirdan and Grimlock speak at the same time.
    Cirdan Saralonde tells the little spokesman, “Give me the key to unlock the sacrifices and call your friend back. The master said he did not want to be disturbed until the sacrifice under pain of death! He wants to prepare in silence for such an important event.” Cirdan puts on an acting job of great concern over the master being disturbed. “You are to guide us, to the other prisoners, so you can go for aid in the event either of these two try to escape while we proceed.”
    Grimlock says, “Do not speak to the master as he said we are not to interrupt him. He gave strict instructions to bring the offerings inbound and cooperative so as to show they are willing. This appeases the gods greatly. If you insist on interrupting him, I can tell you what happened to the last foul who disobeyed him. You best be hot after your friend or his fate will be the same and you may suffer as well. We have drugged the prisoners to get their cooperation. Now we must unshackle them. Now, after your friend!”
    The little critter appears scared, “Yeek!” and then he speaks in a quick whispery high pitched voice.
    Cirdan Saralonde hears, “Yeek, go get my brother! They must be allies if they got past the nasty beargoblins. I will lead them to the snake masters!!! Do not attack them unless the snake masters attack them and drive them back! I do not know if they are friend or foe.”
    Two more little green men come from within the vines and chase into the elevated tunnel after the one Tanin saw leave.
    The little speaker gives Cirdan Saralonde the key and says in common, “I lead you. Me no make mad da snake masters.”
    Southar, Breymeer, Ide Otneaux and Tanin enter the room. Southar allows more light out of his torch so that the humans can see. It quickly becomes obvious, the human is not the chief’s son. The human is Oridean or Suel or both by appearance. The chief’s son would be Olman.
    As you are looking around the workshop, faces appear in the elevated passage opening. They are grinning proudly as if their task was accomplished. The three little green men rejoin the vine network.
    “It as you ask,” says the little speaker. “I lead now. You follow.” With that, he starts over to the vine that leads to the elevated passageway.
    Cirdan says something in orcish to Ide Otneaux. She just nods her head.
    Grimlock whispers to Grom and Tarstar, “Come along with us and follow our lead or the ruse will be fouled. If that happens, we cannot guarantee your safety. We will give you arms when the need arrises.”
    As if on cue, Hairycheeks moves close to the stack of short swords and tucks an extra one into his belt. If he was trying to do so surreptitiously, he failed.
    Ide Otneaux also grabs a sword and just scowls at anyone who may be watching.
    The group falls into line. The green guide in the lead. He is followed by Cirdan Saralonde. Directly behind Cirdan is Grimlock, crossbow ready, and Hairycheeks with his short sword out. Grom and Tarstar are next, neither appearing overly comfortable but happy to be unshackled. Next comes Breymeer, bow at the ready, and Southar, also with his bow in hand. Lastly, Tanin covers the rear with his crossbow and Ide Otneaux with her axe.
    Down the line comes word from Cirdan Saralonde. The green creature does not know if you are friend or foe. It thinks you are allies since you made it past the beargoblins. It ordered the others not to attack unless the snake people do.
    You take some time climbing the vine. It is not too challenging of a task but it does take some time. After about twenty minutes, you are all up in the elevated tunnel.
    The tunnel is of natural origin. It travels nearly 500 feet in what Tanin says is a general northeastern direction. You notice there are no vermin here to speak of. The air is fresh and there is noticeable air movement. In fact, the breeze gets rather stiff; blowing back and forth up the tunnel as if the deities of the air are tugging it to and fro.
    Your guide continues up the trail. It is a gangly thing to watch trying to walk. For how graceful it was in the vines, it is doubly awkward on the ground. Its knuckles drag at times and it walks in a crouched position. It is truly similar to a monkey but less graceful on the ground.
    Ahead, in the light of Southar’s uncovered torch, you see the tunnel open into a chasm. You move forward and give it a closer look. Neither side of the chasm has a ledge large enough to stand upon, but both openings are connected by a swinging bridge. This is fastened at both ends by large stone rings set into the cliff face. The west side (the side you are on) has no reportable features. On the east side, there is a ledge about 40 feet above the swinging bridge. The ledge has a rock wall on its perimeter. From behind the ledge, you can see several of the little green men peering out upon you from their makeshift battlements. The air circulation in this room is chaotic; being fed from the passage across the bridge. The bridge itself sways as a result.
    Tanin quickly does some thinking, “I would say, judging by its looks, that this bridge will hold all of our weight.”
    The green guide walks out onto the bridge, “Come, come, not far.”
    < I know you are starting to get real suspicious of the old dungeon master at this point >
    You cautiously move forward. The bridge teeters dangerously back and forth. The ropes groan under the weight. Your stomachs turn upside down. The space below the bridge disappears into blackness. Southar’s torch is not strong enough to illuminate the bottom.
    “Long drop. No fall. Bad juju falling is,” advises the guide.
    Surprisingly you clear the greater part of the bridge and begin arriving on the east ledge.
    On the left wall is a small opening, about 3 feet across and 6 feet tall. It is barred by a small portcullis. Just behind the portcullis, mounted on the east wall, is two cranks. Just beyond the cranks is a set of stairs that spiral slowly up towards the ledge overlooking the bridge.
    There is a second opening 5 feet to the east of the first. This opening is also barred by a portcullis, but of stronger bars. The opening is about 6 feet wide and 6 feet high. It opens into a small cavern about 25 feet in diameter with rough walls. Within the cavern is two very large lizards. Their bodies are 3 to 4 feet wide and nearing 20 feet long head to tail. One clings to the far wall and the other sits on the floor facing the portcullis. Beyond the second opening, the passageway bends lazily to the northeast. The breeze remains a constant here. It is strong enough now to put out a torch or lantern. You thank Peylae for her wonderful gift of light.
    The guide slows now, “Me no go past stairs. Master not let. You go. Short tunnel. Lead to master. He be happy.”
    When he sees your obvious concern about the lizard, he says, “No nice, eat Taslois, they do. Run past, gate strong but tongue long! Master just around corner.” With that, he turns to leave back across the bridge.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:18 pm  

    Breymeer boldly, yet apparently cautiously as he had his bow in hand at the low ready, moves in front of the gate and begins speaking to the lizards in his now familiar way. Southar moves near him give aid if needed.

    The little green guide retreats across the bridge.

    The lizards do not move but their eyes are watching you. Their tongues dart in and out.

    “I believe they are going to let us pass,” Southar speaks and Breymeer nods in the affirmative.

    Ide Otneaux readies her axe and moves across the front of the gate as far back as she can. Nothing happens. You take your turns quickly moving past the gate until the entire party is on the east side.

    You move up the passageway very cautiously assuming your previous marching order. Hairycheeks and Ide Otneaux give the extra short swords to Tarstar and Grom. Southar dims his torch by wrapping is up a bit in cloth. Grimlock and Hairycheeks move ahead of the group to scout. The flash of lightning can be seen ahead. A distant roll of thunder follows. Clouds have blown in upon the strong wind.

    As you round the slight bend, moving generally northeast, you can see the tunnel opens to the exterior night air. You are about 60 feet from the exterior (area A9 on the city map). The group stops here and the proximity to the exterior prompts Southart to completely darken his torch to await the scouts report.

    A flash of lightning surprisingly does not show you the location of your scouts as they sneak their way up the tunnel. It does, however, highlight the form of a large man in scale mail armor standing at the front of the tunnel. He appears to be facing away from you, possibly watching the coming storm. He leans forward upon a great scimitar. He has a cutlass hanging off his belt. He appears to stand at the top of a stairway. The ground disappears quickly in front of him as it drops quickly in elevation. You cannot make out further details.

    Grimlock and Hairycheeks, you are about 45 feet from the entrance. Your infravision showing the man in armor. The group came up behind you and stopped. They are about 15 feet behind you.

    Grimlock, you send Hairycheeks back to the group to make sure they know of the person ahead. You move forward trying to keep the distance to a minimum and reduce the chance the rest of the group hears you speak. As you move forward, you feel a sense that the creature knows you are there. About 30 feet from him you cast your spell, “Kind sir, I seek your friendship and aid.”

    He turns and looks to you. You hear, “And what is it you are looking for that you sneak up behind me?” With that, he bends and gathers up some sticks that lay about his feet.

    Hairycheeks comes down the hallway, “There is a man in armor ahead. Grimlock is going to see if he is friendly. Come forward quietly.”

    Hairycheeks begins moving back towards Girmlock and the armored man.
    Tartstar begins to gyrate. You wonder if he is under some type of spell. Then he begins to hum a little ditty. He breaks into a short dance. “I am so happy to be free! I will go with you halfling.” He busts out a few more moves and then regains his composure.

    Cirdan Saralonde questions, “I saw him also, is it man or statue?”

    As Tarstar finishes his dance, and Cirdan Saralonde is questioning what he is, the armored man turns and looks up the passageway in your direction. He reaches down and picks up a small bundle of sticks that had lay at his feet but says nothing.

    Tanin readies his crossbow, training it in on the armored man.

    Ide Otneaux gives Tarstar the extra long bow and arrows, “You will use this before me I venture.” Then she readies her axe and prepares to charge if needed.

    Breymeer and Southar each prepare their bows.

    Grimlock moves forward until he about 20 feet from the man, “What is your name and purpose here? I seek your aid if you are willing to give it.”
    You hear the man in armor respond, “You have come here for the snakes. Your attraction to them is evident.”

    It is at this time that you realize he isn’t speaking to you. You only hear his voice in your mind. His mouth is not moving. You also find yourself strangely thinking of snakes and the desire to be near them. It doesn’t seem right to you. You will yourself to clear your mind. You fight off the attraction to the snakes but still feel the man inside your head.

    It is then that a lightning strike lights up the passageway. You are close enough to see his eyes. He has the eyes of a snake!

    Grimlock moves towards the man attempting to win over his friendship, if Breymeer and Southar can do it to an animal, certainly with Grimlock’s years of travel and experience he can gain the aid of an armored man. You hear Grimlock ask the man his name and purpose here. Grimlock asks him for his aid. <The humans are getting a slide show version of movements as the only time they can see well is during the flashes of lightning>

    A series of bright flashes fills the passageway briefly with light as a lightning bolt forks overhead. The thunderclap is deafening.

    As the lightning illuminated the passage, the armored man responds to Grimlock. He throws the sticks to the floor followed by items too small to see. He speaks something unknown. The sticks rattle to the floor and begin to whither. Before your eyes, the sticks transform into snakes. Nine cobras quickly slither down the hall towards Grimlock. Each is roughly 6 feet long.

    The armored man begins to back out of the passageway and into the night, it appears he intent is to disengage/retreat.

    Cirdan, seeing Breymeer about to fire his bow, suggests, “Rangers, can you talk to the snakes? This might be a test, maybe we should not attack the man.”

    Breymeer, through gritted teeth, retorts, “This looks to be the slave masters to me. For that, they must pay!” With that, Breymeer begins to let arrows fly. The first arrow finds its mark, piecing the armor of its left thigh (9, 35/44). Breymeer burns with a focus you have not yet seen in him.

    Southar’s face is red with rage, “He had his chance to surrender, the slave keeper will die!” His arrow also flies true, striking the man in the head taking flesh with it (8, 27/44).

    The string of Tanin’s crossbow sings as the bolt speeds down the hallway. It misses its mark and flies out into the stormy night.

    Hairycheeks hurries up the hallway, drawing his short sword. He moves to assist Grimlock with the incoming snakes. He encounters Grimlock withdrawing back down the hall towards the party.

    Grom looks to his short sword, “I sure wish I could hold an axe or broadsword instead. And a crossbow!” He stays with the group and readies himself for the snakes.

    Ide Otneaux charges up the hallway, “This spellweaver will not escape our grasp!” She is approaching the snakes when the next two arrows fly by her.
    Breymeer’s second arrow also hits home, it bores into the man’s left shin (8, 19/44).

    Southar’s second arrow strikes the man in left thigh (5, 14/44).

    Ide Otneaux tramples over the snakes, stepping on two of them as she goes by (4, 3/7) and (5, 2/7). Several of them attempt to bite her. Only one appears to get a grip of her leg but is quickly spun off as she charges down the hall (1, 18/28). <Made save, 19>. Ide Otneaux’s frame is closing in on the man as he raises his great scimitar into the air. In pain, he has hobbled his way out of the cave, having unlimited room to wield the weapon. He begins to swing it skillfully in arching sweeps, each from a new angle. Ide Otneaux’s timing, whether dumb luck or sheer skill, is perfect. She moves slightly left past the whirling scimitar and buries her huge axe into the man’s right arm. Pieces of the armor fly from the arm and blood pours out of the open wound (10, 4/44).

    The man somehow remains standing. His great scimitar he drops to the ground. He draws his cutlass from its sheath.

    The snakes continue up the hall. They will be upon the party very quickly.

    At the cave entrance, the battle between the armored man and Ide Otneaux continues. The man is trying to withdrawn from the axe wielding half-orc slayer. Ide Otneaux stays with him, pausing only for a moment.

    Tanin gives out a deep dwarven war cry and charges up the hall, stomping snakes as he goes, mace in one hand and crossbow in the other. He steps on two snakes (3, 6/9) and (1, 4/5). The second snake wraps around his right leg causing Tanin to lunge head first to the floor. The snake still wrapped around his leg as it bites him (2, 4/9). <Tanin made saving throw vs poison>

    Breymeer secures his bow. He draws forth his broadsword and dagger. Breymeer wades through the snakes following Tanin, stepping on one of the larger snakes as he goes (1, 10/11). He pauses at Tanin long enough to slice the head off the snake biting Tanin (4, 0/5). Tanin gives him an appreciative nod as Breymeer continues up the passageway and out into the night but not yet engaged with the armored man and Ide Otneaux.

    Hairycheecks moves up to try an assist Tanin. While moving up, his way is blocked by a cobra. The snake coils up to strike but a quick poke from Hairycheeks short sword kills it. The halfling continues on to assist Tanin but not in time to prevent one of the cobras from sliding up next to Tanin and nipping his arm as Tanin struggles to rise (1, 3/9). <Tanin made saving throw vs poison>

    Back in the huddle, Grimlock moves through the group. He takes up a position behind the group and begins to ready his crossbow, cranking back the string and adding a bolt. While doing so, a large cobra moves up to strike him. The bite is harmless but the snake grips into the leather boot of his left leg. Grimlock, not having time to switch weapons, places the crossbow to the head of the snake and touches the trigger. The bolt goes straight through its head. The snake hangs limp from his boot.

    Tarstar faces down two snakes as the move in on him. He slams his short sword down onto one of them (3, 0/7). It begins wriggling in a death spasm. The second snake bites into Tarstar’s stomach as he bent to kill the first (1, 20/21). Its fangs grip as the snake dangles and Tarstar yells out in pain and surprise. <Tarstar missed saving throw vs poison>

    Grom, unhappy with his short sword as a weapon, tries to smash the snake with it but misses. The snake dodges back, missing its chance to strike. Grom yells out, “An axe. I want an axe, not a toothpick!”

    Southar moves to the front of the group to give cover for the others. With the danger of hitting friendlies, he stows his bow and draws forth his long sword and spear. He pokes at the lead cobra coming at him, trying to keep its distance. It strikes home and skewers the snake (3, -1/7). He chops at the second threat but his sword strikes the floor and misses. The cobra reels back and darts for Southar’s leg, bouncing off the boot.

    Cirdan Saralonde draws forth daggers and steps back preparing to defend himself from the vermin.

    While the great snake fiasco rages in the passageway, Ide Otneaux brings her axe around willing for the death of the man in armor. Somehow, he steps back, just out of reach of the blade.

    Breymeer and Ide Otneaux, with the flashing of the lightning, see they have exited the cave onto an approx. 10 foot wide by 15 foot deep landing.
    The ground drops away quickly at the edges of the landing. A stairs leads down the cliff face.

    The man in armor puts forth his hand and orders Ide Otneaux loudly, “You cause is hopeless, leave in peace!”

    Ide Otneaux stops her attack and lowers her weapon to the ground.

    At that moment, Breymeer moves past her and drives his broadsword into the man’s right leg, severing it at the knee and collapsing him down. Breymeer tries to drive his dagger into the man’s neck but he parries it with the cutlass. Slowly, the man’s snake colored eyes roll back into his head and he falls supine, dead.

    Ide Otneaux appears confused for a moment. She shakes her head, “I was about to give up!” Her resolve returning, she lifts her axe and surveys the surroundings.

    The area is a large natural amphitheatre which slopes down from the cliff walls below you to a semi-circular stage. The far side of the amphitheatre appears to be solid trees and underbrush, except for a small path that winds between the massive trunks. A winding staircase leads from the landing at the cave mouth to the stage area is a series of switchbacks.

    In the cave, Tanin regains his feet while Hairycheeks jabs at the remaining cobra. The cobra spins and darts at Hairycheeks, striking him on the left forearm (1, 8/9). <Hairycheeks made save vs poison>. Tanin stands and takes a baseball swing at the cobra with his mace. The blow catches solid and sends it flying through the air (3, 7/10). It strikes the wall and drops to the floor. When it hits the floor, it comes to a rattling stop; transformed back into a stick.

    At the melee to the rear, Grimlock stows his crossbow and draws forth his shield and long sword. Grimlock moves up to help Tarstar in the moment Tarstar is stabbing hopelessly at the snake on his belly. Grimlock moves up and slashes at the snakes on Tarstar cutting it in half well away from Tarstar’s body (6, 0/9). Tarstar, now free, busts out a few dance moves in his joy!

    Cirdan Saralonde holds his ground, guarding.

    Southar jabs and pokes with his spear and slashes with his sword. He curses his poor accuracy and continues to clang his weapons on the stone floor. The cobra lashes Southar on his left leg, near the knee (1, 17/30). <Southar made save vs poison>.

    The rest of the snakes stiffen and clatter to a stop; returning to the sticks they sprang from.

    Grom just looks at them and spits, “Hermp.”
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 02, 2014 8:30 pm  

    The cave congregation begins to move forward to join Breymeer and Ide Otneaux outside. Tarstar begins to feel a little ill. You are met by Breymeer and Ide Otneaux about 20 feet from the exit on the inside of the passageway.

    Suddenly Tarstar doubles over, clutching his stomach as the cobra’s venom invades his systems (7, 13/21). Hairycheeks runs to him and tries to assist with what he can. “Give me light!” says Hairycheeks and Southar uncovers his torch and allows a little light to escape. Hairycheeks examines the wound for a short time (heals 1, 14/21).

    While first aid is being administered, Breymeer updates the group, “The thing in armor is dead. There is a trail outside, at the bottom landing of the amphitheatre, that I believe leads to the stone building. I say we leave some archers for cover, and Tarstar, if unable to move. The rest of us should haul **** down below to find slaves and kill slavers. We can take advantage of the stormy weather and hopefully move undetected into the amphitheatre area.”

    Hairycheeks reports, “He will live! It does not look as there was enough poison transfer to kill him. He will be a bit ill for a while but he will recover.” Tarstar, for his part, looks worried and uncomfortable but stable. Tarstar attempts a weak diddy at the news.

    No one else seems to have received any poison from the snake bites.
    A quick examination shows most of the party is relatively healthy. Tanin is in the worse shape, suffering for numerous small wounds and snake bites. Tanin is obviously weakened, but being a dwarf, he still has a stout resolution in his eyes. Southar looks the worse as his body is recovering yet from the acid bath in the man eating plant. Lastly, Ide Otneaux is still nursing her left shoulder where the bugbear’s hand axe cut her deeply.

    Southar and Ide Otneaux both appear to be managing well enough with their injuries.

    Breymeer leads the party to the opening and out onto the narrow landing (10 feet wide and 15 feet deep). There, you look out upon the ampitheatre. The wind is enough to worry you about blowing off the ledge. The rain has increased in intensity. Water rushes down the canyon wall, across the ledge and down the 50 or so feet to the amphitheatre stage. Lightning and thunder crack and boom in the very dark night sky. This storm appears it may grow to an early season typhoon.

    In the flashing lightning, you make out your surroundings. The area is a large natural amphitheatre which slopes down from the cliff walls below you to a semi-circular stage. The far side of the amphitheatre appears to be solid trees and underbrush, except for a small path that winds between the massive trunks. A winding staircase leads from the landing at the cave mouth to the stage area is a series of switchbacks. There are four switchbacks, each dropping about 12-15 feet in elevation. Beyond the trees, having seen the area from the canyon wall earlier in the day, you know the stone building awaits you.

    The dead man in armor appears human with two exceptions. His eyes, laid open in death, are that of a snake and his tongue hangs out of his mouth. His tongue is forked.

    After a quick discussion, the group decides not to cover movement from the ledge. The storm is too powerful to use missile weapons from such a distance. The group will return to its previous movement scheme. Grimlock and Hairycheeks will scout ahead in the dark. Breymeer and Southar will follow, watching for enemy. Tracking in this storm will become futile quickly. Cirdan Saralonde, Tarstar and Grom will travel in the middle of the group. The rear is guarded by Tanin and Ide Otneaux. In the event of melee, Ide Otneaux can move forward quickly if needed.

    Grimlock advises, “I think we should move together as usual with scouts ahead. All keep missile option in hand. Can always fire a volley if needed proved we have good scouting. Ide can be our fullback after the fire rounds of arrows.”

    Cirdan Saralonde agrees, “I'm for the bowmen coming along. If a fight breaks out, they can still use their bows until the melee starts, and then we have more people to defend ourselves with. If the bowmen need to cover 300 feet we may be waiting a bit for backup.”

    Grimlock adds to the discussion, “As much as we all hate slavers, we have a duty to our saviors, Ledego and Peylae. We can free the slaves we come across and bring their master’s to the sword as we seek the Olman man. But that is our mission. We can return later if needed to finish removing the slavers.”

    Southar points out, “Our advantage is in going together and overwhelming our opponents with speed. We can help Tarstar move if needed.”

    Tartstar picks up the cutlass the armored man had drawn, “This is mine.” He swings it several times quite convincingly, “They had taken it from me when I was captured. I did not think I should see it again.” His grimacing while swinging the sword is evidence of the pain his stomach injury has caused him.

    “But no axe for me . . .” mutters Grom.

    Tartstar looks to Grom, “I am hurt Grom, can you help me? The kind halfling has done what he can but I yet feel ill pains.”

    Grom may not have heard Tarstar over the storm as he did not respond.

    Cirdan Saralonde joins Tarstar at the body and begins searching, “He appeared to be a spellcaster.” <sent to Cirdan - You surprisingly do not find any components, books, etc on the armored man. For that matter, you find no treasure even.>

    You spend several minutes climbing down the switchbacks to the amphitheatre stage. The rain continues to increase in intensity. Water puddles and runs off the rocks. The darkness would be complete if not for the near continuous lightning. The wind and the thunder require you to speak loudly but covers all sounds of your movements.

    You move across the amphitheatre without incident. You step down off the amphitheatre stage and immediately begin to climb several levels of stone that have been cut out of the rift floor. They are semicircular in shape and obviously are used for seating as they wrap partially around the amphitheatre stage. Water is beginning to pool in the lowest level.

    You exit the amphitheatre into the trees beyond. They are blowing steadily in the shifting wind. Grimlock and Hairycheeks lead the way. You wind your way through the narrow forest path. The trees are old and strong. Their canopies broadly shelter some of the storm above. Any fell creature that lives among the trees must have sheltered for the storm. You meet nothing.

    The path leads to the large stone building. You move up to examine the building hoping all threats have sought shelter for the night. The stones are all crumbling and overgrown with vines. The main entrance consists of a large set of double doors covered with bronze plates. These plates depict scenes of snakes coiling about men in postures of great agony. A bas-relief of a large cobra-headed man overlooks all this. The main doors face north. As you approach, you see the west side wall has a small opening that a man might crawl through. The opening appears to have be created by a broken block of stone falling or crumbling away. It would be tight for a full grown man, especially on in armor. An elf or halfling would squeeze through easily. A dwarf may find some difficulty, especially if armored.
    The group moves up to the small hole. You quickly discover that neither dwarf nor Breymeer, Southar or Ide Otneaux will fit though the hole.
    Breymeer and Southar might if they took off their armor.

    It is too loud outside to hear anything inside. It is completely dark inside.
    Grimlock says, “I will go through the opening.”

    Cirdan also volunteers, “I will also go through the hole. I would like to check to see if the front door is locked first.” With that, Ide Otneaux moves to check the front door. “I also think we should use the language potion before going in.”

    Breymeer agrees, “I like the idea of those who can going into the hole. The rest of us can storm through the doors and hope for the element of surprise. Also, Cirdan Saralonde, I agree with you. A few of us should use the language comprehension potion in case talking is heard.”

    Southar adds, “I, or someone, can try and cover the small scouts from the hole.”

    “Aye, laddie, that will not work,” says Tanin, looking into the hole, “There is a collapsed column just beyond the hole blocking the view of the interior. I cannot make out any details even with my keen dwarven dark vision.”

    Ide Otneaux returns, “I make no promise, but the door does not look secured. Heavy, but not secured.”

    Tarstar dances a wiggle, “How about a little healing help there Grom old buddy? Would your deity be so kind on such a foul night?”

    “I will sneak in with the small scouts, assuming I fit through the hole,” volunteers Hairycheeks with a cheerful hobbit smile.

    Grom stays quiet. He has been grim, even for a dwarf.

    From the discussion, comes a rough plan. Grimlock, Hairycheeks, Cirdan Saralonde and Tarstar will sneak through the hole and recon the room. Cirdan Saralonde will use the elixir in case you need to speak to any occupants. Meanwhile, Breymeer, Southar, Ide Otneaux and the dwarves, Tanin and Grom, will go to the door and prepare a surprise charge in. Breymeer will also use the potion since the group know it has worked for him once already.

    Cirdan Saralonde looks to Grom, "Grom, you are quiet, do you have any thoughts on this situation that may help us?"

    Grom looks at the elf and walks over to Tarstar. Grom pulls a small carved stone from a fold in his clothing and begins to mutter something in dwarvish. Grom reaches out and touches Tarstar's abdomen (8, 21/21). The color returns to Tarstar's face and the wound on his abdomen disappears.

    Grom walks to Ide Otneaux and touches her shoulder. He again mutters a dwarven prayer and the wound heals on her shoulder (2, 20/28).

    Grom walks proudly over to Southar and places the small symbol against his chest and continues his dwarven prayer. Southar's body also mends (5, 22,30).

    Grom then looks to Tanin and says to Tanin, but in a voice meant for all to hear, "My dwarven companion, I am a servant of Dugmaren Brightmantle. The elves may say that we are touched with some of their spirit in questing for knowledge. I, however, refute that and tell you I am inherently dwarf. My scholarly pursuits are with the intent to build on the vast dwarven knowledge. We may seem treasure hungry mine diggers to the elves and humans, but this simply is a generalization. It is true we delve deep for gold and gem, but it is also true that servants, as myself, go forth and seek knowledge for the betterment of our kin. We may not seek the arcane, as the elves, but knowledge is power."

    "The wise Brightmantle has told me you are a worthy lot. Tanin, my kin, you shall be healed as well. But not now. Brightmantle knows your strength and will help keep you secure. You must carry your burden and pain a while longer."

    Grimlock lays out an idea, "I think Berry Hairycheeks, Cirdan Saralonde and I shall go through the hole and explore inside. Tarstar can wait for us to signal him for help and he can pass the word to the others to run the main door."

    Tanin adds in, "I will wait at the corner of the building to relay Tarstar's message to them. I will then follow them in. I can keep look to make sure nothing surprises us from the outside."

    With that, the plan is approved. Ide Otneaux, Southar, Breymeer and Grom take up position at the front door. Tanin awaits at the NW corner. Grimlock, Cirdan Saralonde and Hairycheeks crawl through the opening. Tarstar crawl just to the interior side and waits.

    I should have given this to you. The stone building is about 30 feet square and roughly 20 feet or so high at the roof edge and 35 feet high at the center. The ceiling pyramids to a central peak.

    The front doors are each 5 feet wide and 10 feet high creating a 10 foot x 10 foot opening if both were opened.
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    Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:26 pm  

    Grimlock, Hairycheeks, Cirdan Saralonde and Tarstar quietly fit their way through the hole. Tarstar stays just inside the building, hiding behind the downed column.

    The room is very dark and Tarstar can see no further.

    Using their dark vision, the other three peer over the column and around the room. The inside of the chamber is a large damp space, cluttered with tumbled columns and beams.

    It is 25 to 30 feet square. You can see the double doors on the north wall. They do not appear to be secured.

    The room has 4 support columns from floor to ceiling spaced evenly from front to back. Each pillar is about two feet in diameter. The south pillar on the west side of the room collapse and appears to be what knocked the hole in the wall. The debris from the pillar is scattered around the area in about a 15' radius from the hole. Movement rates would be restricted due to the debris and unsure footing. The debris does, however, also allow for some cover.

    The ceiling consists of interlaced wooded beams forming a support structure between the pillars and the stone ceiling. You cannot be certain of the structural integrity of the ceiling but it is intact and withstanding the pounding wind outside.

    Over the noise of the storm, you make out a quiet chanting coming from south end of the building. There is a small stone alter placed in front of two wooden pillars near the center of the south wall. A large gold disc is mounted on the wall above the alter. The disc shows the head of a cobra. Tied spread-eagle between the two pillars is a humanoid shaped figure. The figure is bound and gagged. In front of the alter is a snake shaped creature with human arms. Flanking the alter are two more forms. The one on the east side has the torso of a human and the tail of a snake. The one on the west side is a human with a snake's tail growing from the area of his tailbone. They appear to be engaged in some type of ritual. There are unlit braziers next to the wooden pillars.

    <To Cirdan Saralonde> You had noted earlier that the previous use of the potion had wore off when Grom was speaking in dwarvish. You re-applied the elixir. The snake creatures are making prayers to a being called Merrshaulk. It appears they will be making a human sacrifice of an Olman man.
    Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde have a conversation about how to proceed. Grimlock wishes to have the group charge in while covering their movement. Cirdan Saralonde wants to hold off on the charge and try a trick first. Grimlock concedes on the charge and will cover Cirdan from his position by the hole in the wall.
    Grimlock tells Hairycheeks, “Sneak over to the door and prepare to advise the group to charge.”
    Grimlock looks to Tarstar, “Go back out of the hole and gather the group at the front door. Hairycheeks will advised you when to charge. Watch the debris. Split in two and charge up the side walls.
    Grimlock readies his crossbow while Hairycheeks moves away in the darkness. Tarstar exits through the hole.
    Cirdan Saralonde removes a small scroll and quietly reads its arcane words. The moment he finishes his reading, he simply disappears. Grimlock awaits what may happen next.
    Unsure of where Cirdan Saralonde truly is, a loud voice behind the alter suddenly proclaims, “I am Merrshaulk! Cease this sacrifice and let the Olman man go!”
    The three snake creatures stop chanting and stand dumbfounded.

    Grimlock, while Cirdan was moving, you take out the small vial and dip four bolts into the liquid.
    Hairycheeks moves quietly up to the door.
    Tarstar, you move back out of the hole. Tanin stands on the corner and looks nervous to see you come out. You approach him and tell him to join you with the group at the door.

    The entry group moves towards the front of the building. Tanin stays at the NW corner to relay messages.
    You see Tarstar join Tanin at the corner of the building and they approach over to you. Ide Otneaux stands ready with her axe. Breymeer and Southar each hold their bow, scanning the area for danger. Tanin readies his crossbow. Grom looks sadly at the sword he has been giving, “A broadsword, or better yet, an axe. Something Brightmantle can smile upon.”
    Tarstar reports, “They are sending Hairycheeks to the interior side of the door to let us know when to charge in. When we do, we are to split into two groups and attack up the sides of the room. Be careful, there is rubble strewn all over. There are three snake creatures in there near an altar. There is a prisoner tied to a couple pillars. All this I was told for it is completely dark in there. Us humans will need torches to see. What do we have for torches?”
    The storm continues to grow in intensity. A bolt of lightning crashes into a tree north of you along the canyon wall. The tree splinters and crashes to the ground. The resulting thunderclap is deafening and knocks you back a step.
    "Why do you sacrifice sons of other chiefs to me? If you love me and serve me, why do you not find loving subjects that want to be sacrificed from your own ranks?" "I ORDER YOU! Cease keeping slaves, and the monkey-men in your employ. I ORDER YOU! In 7 days time a group of adventurers will appear to you, seeking the black dragon Gouthogg. You are to aid them in all ways you can! I am angry with Gouthogg!
    A bolt of lightning strikes very near the stone building to the north. The thunderclap is deafening and reverberates inside the building. At the same time, the rope holding the left arm of the sacrifice is suddenly cut apart. The sacrifice looks around near him but remains calm.”
    The voice continues, "Now my children, with the rising of the sun, find me a warm place to relax. I will speak no further!"
    The snake creatures remained still for the display. As the rope on the sacrifice’s right arm is cut free, the large snake with arms turns from the altar towards the sacrifice. He says something to the other two and begins some type of prayer. The other snake creatures appear to return to meditation or deep thought.
    Cirdan Saralonde, the snake with arms says, “Be alert!” and then prays, “Merrshaulk, give me the vision to see if this is truly your voice or an imposter.”

    Breymeer uses Tanin’s shield to attempt to get cover from the rain. He applies a layer of liquid from the elixir to his lips and ears and resecures the vial.
    Meanwhile, Southar has been watching the area of the lightning strike. A faint red glow has blossomed in the area of the strike.
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    Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:31 pm  

    The sacrifice seems to be guided as he walks from the pillars along the west side of the room past the altar. He is only about 10 feet from the hole in the wall.
    The snake with arms rises up slightly, easily ten feet long, it now is a full head higher than the other two. It looks toward the sacrifice and says something in a foreign tongue that lasts for several sentences, “Merrshaulk, you have blessed me with the protection of your temple. Therefore, do not punish me for questioning the presence of one proclaiming to be you. For you have made it now plain to me that it has taken a man-form. I fear this imposter has desecrated your temple! Snakes! Stop this blasphemer! Merrshaulk, the sacrifice shall be yours!”
    The man with the snake tail growing from his back moves to the brazier on the east side of the altar and lights it. It quickly sparks to life and begins illuminating the room. The other creature, man torso and snake tail, says something quickly as it picks up a crossbow from near the altar, “I have sensed the threat comes from behind the doors my priestess.”
    Behind the altar, a gigantic snake begins to lower itself down from the rafters encircling the west pillar and scenting the area the tribesman just vacated. The snake is a thirty foot long boa-type.
    Southar takes his magical torch in hand, keeping it covered for the time being.
    Breymeer removes his torch also, “I will throw this into the room as we enter. With any luck we can surprise them a little. If nothing else, at least we can see what we are shooting at.”
    As the brazier sparks to life, events are unfolding quickly in the stone building.

    The gigantic snake has coiled around the pillar and now moves out across the floor towards the newly freed man. He is dark skinned and obviously an Olman man. Could it be the chief's son?

    The man with a snake tail moves over and lights the second brazier. It quickly sparks to life. The room is now sufficiently lit for normal vision.

    The large snake with arms remains behind the altar.

    As the man torso/snake picks up a crossbow, he is struck in the chest by a bolt fired by Grimlock (4, 46/50 + poison; missed save, onset 7 minutes (round 8)). Grimlock remains behind cover by the opening.

    Just as the man torso/snake creature recovers from the bolt, it sheiks in pain. Becoming suddenly visible behind it is Cirdan Saralonde. He has buried two daggers into its back (6, 40/50) and (5, 35/50).

    At the double doors, Hairycheeks begins to bang frantically on the west door panel with his short sword screaming, "Attack, attack, attack! (Tora, Tora, Tora!)"

    With that, Ide Otneaux throws her weight into the east door panel and it bursts open. Ide Otneaux charges in with her axe ready.

    Breymeer is just behind her. He steps to the side and throws his magic torch into the room. He has his bow in hand.

    Southar is next, bow in hand and his magical torch glowing in his quiver on his back.

    Tanin moves inside with his crossbow out.

    Grom and Tarstar step in as well.

    Inside the room, Hairycheeks steps aside and lets you all in.

    The room is lit now. On the far end of the room, 30 feet away, is a stone altar set in front of two pillars. Each pillar has the remnants of rope tied to it. Behind the pillars is a large gold disc on the wall engraved with the head of a cobra. Set just behind and to each side of the alter is a brazier that is burning bright. There is a gigantic boa-type snake wrapped around the west pillar and moving across the ground towards an Olman man. The Olman man is west of the altar and moving towards the hole. He has the remnants of rope tied to his wrists. He is about 10 feet from Grimlock and the hole.

    There is a large, 10 foot long, snake creature with arms standing behind the altar. A second creature, having a human body with a snake tail extending from the area of its tailbone, has just finished lighting the west brazier. The final snake creature, a snake with the torso of a man, stands to the west of the altar. He has a crossbow in hand. He also has a crossbow bolt in his chest. Also, Cirdan Saralonde stands directly behind the man torso/snake, having just buried two daggers in its back.

    There are four stone columns that hold the ceiling up. They are spaced evenly from front to back. Each column is about two feet in diameter
    The south pillar on the west side of the room collapse and appears to be what knocked the hole in the wall. The debris from the pillar is scattered around the area in about a 15' radius from the hole. Movement rates would be restricted due to the debris and unsure footing. The debris does, however, also allow for some cover.

    The ceiling consists of interlaced wooded beams forming a support structure between the pillars and the stone ceiling. You cannot be certain of the structural integrity of the ceiling but it is intact and withstanding the pounding wind outside.

    Grimlock has taken cover among the column debris near the hole. He is firing bolts from his crossbow towards the snake creatures at the altar.
    Immediately reacting to the scene, Breymeer and Southar begin firing arrows towards the altar. The heavy sheaf arrow dart across the room. Breymeer’s first striking the front of the altar and his second smashing against the back wall. Southar’s first deflects off the scaly body of the two armed snake and his final arrow gets caught up in his quiver and he struggles a bit but finally removes it.
    Ide Otneaux, seeing nothing to swing her axe at, removes the extra long bow and quiver and hands them to Tarstar, “I ain’t much for bows. Maybe you can use this.”
    Tarstar accepts the bow readily. He pulls an arrow from the quiver, leaving the quiver laying at his feet. His draw on the bow gives away his inexperience with it. He lets loose and arrow, “I prefer a crossbow,” he says while surveying the arrow’s flight. The arrow cuts a slight gash across the right arm of the man torso’d snake (2, 33/50) missing Cirdan Saralonde by about two feet.
    Tanin’s crossbow releases its bolt. He fired wide left of the snake with arms.
    Grom analysis the situation and looks sadly at his short sword, “Toothpick!”
    Berry Hairycheeks begins to circle to the west side of the room, towards Grimlock. Hairycheeks suddenly shouts, “More snakes!”
    From the debris, not far from Grimlock, slithers two giant cobras, each about 12 feet long. They look big enough to swallow a halfling. One moves towards Hairycheeks who is now close to the NW corner. The other slithers towards the group at the double doors.
    The man torso’d snake begins to wrap its tail around Cirdan Saralonde’s legs, “We are the Yuan-ti,” it says in the common language that you all can understand, “You shall all be our slaves!” Cirdan is able to pull free of the tail’s grasp in the moment Tarstar’s arrow cut a shallow groove in its side.
    The man with a snake’s tail moves back to the altar. He wears no clothing. The torso of a man blends to scales in the pelvic region. The pelvic transitions to the tail. His two human legs start with scales but return to skin about mid-thigh. There is no human reproductive parts. He says in common, “You shall all flee or die!” (Innate cause fear).
    The snake with arms looks to the Olman man and says something to him in a tribal language. <Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde heard - (because of the potion), "Zura, by Merrshaulk's power, I command you to stop!"> The man stops in his tracks and stands like a statue.
    The gigantic constrictor snake closes in on him in preparation of its meal.
    Grimlock remains hidden behind his column. He has swept up a pile of dust from the column in front of him. He grabs the dust and blows it towards the altar in a sweeping motion.
    Cirdan Saralonde moves to the Olman man, doing his best to avoid the gigantic snake. While doing so, he yells, “Ide! Chop the head off this snake!” When he gets to the Olman man he yells, “Zura, by Merrshaulk’s power, I command you to RUN!” Cirdan tries to get the man moving but he does not budge. He goes so far to hold the dagger to his buttocks but there is no reaction from the Olman man.
    The gigantic boa arrives at the helpless Olman man. It ignores Cirdan Saralonde, but begins to wrap itself around the Olman man (3, 17/20).
    The voice of the man with the snake’s tail from his pelvis sets deep into the minds of Ide Otneaux, Breymeer, Southar, Grom, Tanin and Tarstar. Fear and doubt begin to fill their minds. Their purpose seems futile and their drive weakens. The room closes in and the enemy’s strength becomes overwhelming. Southar gives in to his fear and cries out. He turns and flees to the door. The others steel their resolve and fight off the sudden foreign feeling. Quickly they are able to get back on task.
    Breymeer is the first to compose, “Death to the slavers!” He charges between the cobras dodging a quick strike from the one on his left. He leaps upon the altar and swings with great passion at the Yuan-ti snake with arms. His dagger is errant but his broadsword cuts a gash across its chest (7, 57/64).
    Near the altar, Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde start to feel sluggish and slow. The both will themselves to remain conscious and fighting and the feeling quickly passes.
    Tarstar moves to defend Hairycheeks. While doing so, he stows his bow and draws forth his cutlass. This he appears to handle with more confidence. However, his blow fails to strike the cobra.
    The snake nips back at Tarstar. Tarstar dodges to the side in time to avoid the impact. Hairycheeks jumps forward and jabs his short sword into the cobra (4, 19/23).
    Ide Otneaux moves ahead to help Cirdan Saralonde but pauses to strike the other cobra. She puts a huge gash in its body a few feet behind its head (9, 16/25).
    The snake with arms had begun another prayer but it was disrupted by a bolt shot from Tanin’s crossbow. The bolt pierced its left hand and remained stuck so (10, 47/64).
    Grom attempts to calm Southar down, “May Brightmantle give you peace Southar.” Grom holds his symbol and prays.
    The Yuan-ti man with a snake’s tail commands, “Darkness shall have you!” The magic torches from Peylae blink out and an inky blackness covers the area near the door. Ide Otneaux, Southar, Grom and Tanin are plunged into darkness. The cobra next to Ide Otneaux is also in the darkness. Hairycheeks, Tarstar and the cobra in the NW corner are just out of the darkness.
    The Yuan-ti snake with arms pulls Tanin’s bolt from its hand and curses, “I will torture you all!”
    The Yuan-ti man torso’d snake picks up a battle axe that lay next to the altar and moves forward towards Grimlock’s position (only 15 to 20 feet away).
    As the man torso’d snake moved past Cirdan Saralonde, it said, “You are nothing but a rodent! You shall become a rat!” Cirdan feels a magic tingle that quickly fades without effect as he wills resistance to it.
    Facing down impending doom, Grimlock steps back from his position and points towards the Yuan-ti with the snake tail projecting from its tailbone, “Help me my friend!”
    Cirdan Saralonde, nearby, pulls a small chunk of wood on a string and bobs it up and down quickly saying something in elvish. Because of the potion he used, you all hear it in your native language, “Dear servant, irritate the snake creature by slapping it continuously.” The brazier to the west of the altar flares a bit as a small wind moves past it.
    The Yuan-ti snake with arms order Breymeer, “Stop! Merrshaulk commands you!” To its obvious surprise, Breymeer slashes it again across its right arm with his broadsword (4, 43/64) and gashes its torso with his dagger, drawing blood and sending scales aloft (4, 39/64).
    The man torso’d Yuan-ti moves stealthily among the debris and swings its battles axe at Grimlock catching him in the chest (7, 8/15). Somehow, he was able to avoid a nasty wound. The creature’s tail begins to wrap around Grimlock’s right leg. Grimlock rips his leg free.
    Seeing Grimlock being attacked, the Yuan-ti with snake tail projection speaks to the torso’d man Yuan-ti, “You shall be the rodent and a rat you shall be!” The man torso’d Yuan-ti begins to melt and grow hair before your very eyes. In a blur of change, the Yuan-ti withers down to a large hairy rat at Grimlock’s feet.
    The gigantic boa continues to tighten its grip on the Olman man. The snake has bound him up to his thigh. His face is become flush with the blood pressure increase (4, 13/20).
    Cirdan Saralonde continues to hack away at the snake’s head and neck striking it once (4, 36/40).
    In the NW corner, Hairycheeks and Tarstar hack away for their lives. Tarstar puts his blade into the snake (6, 13/23). Hairycheeks also sinks his blade deep (6, 7/23). The snake returns vengeance on Hairycheeks, biting him square in the chest (3, 9/13). Hairycheeks squeels, “He’s gotten me! Cover me Tarstar!” Hairycheeks twists out of the bite, drops his sword and starts digging frantically for his cure bag.
    In the darkness, Grom’s blessings from Brightmantle do nothing for Southar. Fortunately for Southar, in the dark, he loses track of the door and flees to the wall. Finding an impenetrable barrier, he drops to his knees and sobs, “Sylor, my mentor, I have failed you!”
    Grom holds his position at the door. For now, Southar has been kept contained.
    Ide Otneaux gropes her way forward out of the darkness. She hears the hiss of the cobra and feels the strike but not the pain in the bite. She clears the darkness and plunges forward to help Cirdan Saralonde. She brings her axe around in her now deadly arc and strikes the snake solid just below where it is constricting the Olman man (12, 24/40). The blow cripples the snake enough that it uncoils slightly, buying the Olman man some time.
    Tanin, hearing Hairycheeks scream, uses his voice as a guide and stumbles clear of the dark. Having dropped his crossbow in the dark, he pulls his mace and swings for the fences. The blade catches the cobra on the back of its hood. Tanin knocks the snake straight, spinning it away from Hairycheeks (7, 0/23). The head caved in and the snake coils upon itself in death spasms.
    The remaining cobra slithers in the dark somewhere near Grom and Southar.
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    Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:34 pm  

    The battle at the altar rages on. Breymeer slashes away at the Yuan-ti snake with arms, missing with the broadsword and failing to pierce the scales with the dagger. The Yuan-ti speaks to Breymeer, “I am a Priestess of Merrshaulk! I shall not harm you, lower your weapons!” Breymeer, hot in his rage, looks blankly at the Yuan-ti priestess. He lowers his weapons and begins looking around. The Yuan-ti priestess smiles.
    Cirdan Saralonde buries his dagger into the snake again (4, 20/40). Ide Otneaux steps forward and drives her great axe into the creature’s head cutting a large gash in the scales (16, 4/40). The great snake is looking rough.
    As Breymeer is still swinging away, Grimlock shouts, “Do not harm my companions. Help me by defending them! No one attack the Yuan-ti with the tail!!! He is helping me!” Grimlock swings his long sword at the boa but misses.
    The Yuan-ti man with a tail begins to speak in a language foreign to you, “Oh great snake, your power is divinely given. Your strength immense. Calm yourself now. Easy divine being.” He moves his arms slowly back and forth. Strangely, the snake begins to match the movement of the arms. It releases from the Olman man and begins to sway back and forth, rising erect approx. 12 feet high. He says in common, “Please do not have this creature. Back away from it and it will not harm you.”
    Near the double doors, Grom begins poking his short sword ahead of him trying to keep the cobra at bay, wherever it may have slithered to. Grom keeps attempting to sooth Southar’s fear. Southar, oblivious to the cobra, continues to weep and goes into the fetal position. He does not even feel the blow from the cobra strike against his armor. The cobra continues to slither near him seeking exposed skin.
    Hairycheeks works desperately to counter the poison he assumes is coursing into his system.
    Moving carefully and keeping low, Tarstar quickly moves near the edge of the darkness surrounding Grom and Southar. Tarstar melds into the shadows moving along the east wall only to be seen emerging behind the altar. Just as Breymeer lowers his weapons and the priestess smiles, Tarstar moves up from behind the pillars and drives his cutlass into the back of the Yuan-ti priestess. The smile disappears immediately and is replaced with pain and surprise (6, 33/64).
    Tanin, seeing he can do nothing more for the halfling, moves south along the wall. At the hole in the wall, Tanin sees the Yuan-ti rodent attempting to escape out the hole. Tanin blocks its path and attempts to flatten it with his mace. The blow misses and strikes the stone floor hard, stinging Tanin’s hands. The rat strikes back at Tanin. It slips up the right leg of his trouser to mid-thigh and sinks its teeth into flesh. Tanin howls with fear and pain (2, 1/9).
    The Yuan-ti priestess turns to face Tarstar. The priestess begins to chant a foulness upon Tarstar. Knowing he must act quickly, and showing his talent with the cutlass, Tarstar drives the blade into the torso of the snake priest (6, 27/64). The Yuan-ti’s wound continues to drip blood once the blade is removed. It puts one arm out to steady itself as it tries to recover from the puncture. There is fear in its eyes, “Aid me!” it shouts to Breymeer.
    Breymeer, finds his mind in chaos. His hatred for the Yuan-ti slavetakers has diminished. So much so that he finds anger growing. This anger is focused on Tarstar for injuring the priestess. Breymeer fights the urge to strike out at Tarstar. Is this new human friend or foe. All Breymeer’s friends are attacking the Yuan-ti. And yet, one Yuan-ti is helping. Are they all friends? The priestess seems so kind. Breymeer stands on the altar, weapons completely down at his sides. He is beyond perplexed. Who does he attack? Who does he defend?
    The great boa continues its dance with the snake tailed Yuan-ti.
    Cirdan Saralonde wades into the coils of the gigantic snakes and pulls the Olman man free. The elf noble has incredible strength. He drags him a few feet away from the coils. The Olman man yet lives but remains catatonic.
    Grimlock also backs away from the boa yelling, “Do not have the Yuan-ti man!” He removes a scroll and reads from it in some arcane language. The face of the Yuan-ti priestess becomes aglow with light. It screams in horror and attempts to protect its eyes and face with its free hand. The room becomes brighter and the magical darkness at the back of the room is pushed back some. Southar and Grom are at the shadowy edge of the light.
    Ide Otneaux, seeing the Yuan-ti priestess vulnerable, charges the short distance from the battle with the boa constrictor to behind the altar. Ide Otneaux brings her axe over her head and swings it will all her might down upon the snake priestess. The blow misses the priestess’s head and body but slams down into its tail causing much damage as the axe buries itself (20, 7/64). The blow knocks the already off balance priestess prone to the floor.
    The attack on the Yuan-ti priestess from Ide Otneaux is all Breymeer can handle. His mind snaps and he gives into the strange urge to defend the snake creature. Breymeer leaps off the altar and drives his dagger into Tarstar’s left leg (5, 16/21). He spins around the Yuan-ti and slashes Ide Otneaux across the left leg with his broadsword. Her armor helps reduce the cut to her flesh but the blow nearly drops the giant half orc (16, 2/28). She yells out, “She has a spell on him! Kill the snake bitch! Breymeer, snap out of it!” Ide Otneaux brings her axe out of the creature’s tail. She uses the weapon’s weight to build momentum as she bring it around in an overhead arc and drives it down into the Yuan-ti’s belly vastly exposing its entrails and severing its spine (21, -14/64). It dies outright.
    Elsewhere, Tanin struggles with the rat in his pants. He grips it with both hands, trying to keep it from biting him again, “I have this rat up me knickers! Oh, help me!” He seems to have it safely trapped at the moment but he is surely near panic.
    Hairycheeks, in the NW corner by himself, is beginning to look bad. His stomach is swelling and he is beginning to breathe in gasps. He continues to try and find a remedy.
    Southar, still oblivious to the cobra hunting him, continues to murmur and whine. He remains fetal.
    Grom, hoping to save Southar, had begun poking in the dark, trying to not stab Southar. The magical light that illuminated the Yuan-ti at the front of the room gave Grom’s his opportunity. The cobra came into view. It coiled back and snapped forward at Southar’s exposed neck. Grom jabs his “toothpick” forward and pierces the snake several feet behind the head (8, 8/25). It coils and slides away slightly, ignoring its attack on Southar.
    Cirdan Saralonde moves carefully over to behind the altar next to Ide Otneaux. She is leaning against it trying to keep her weight off her leg. She is in obvious pain. Cirdan Saralonde pulls a potion from his equipment and gives it to her. Ide Otneaux recognizes the healing potion and quickly imbibes it (6, 8/28). Her pain eases but she is still injured. Next to her, Tarstar breaks into a party dance. From there, Cirdan Saralonde move towards Tanin.
    Breymeer moves back from Ide Otneaux with a look of horror on his face. He looks to his friends and down at the dead Yuan-ti priestess. The snake priestess lays dead upon the floor. He looks back to Ide Otneaux and Tarstar and shouts over the battle and storm, “Thanks for not killing me. My head is clear again and I will not let these slavers kill my friends. Breymeer re-crosses the room and comes up behind the cobra attacking Southar and Grom. He hits the stone floor with his broadsword but gashes the snake’s hide with his dagger (5, 3/25).
    Grimlock moves up to the remaining Yuan-ti (with the tail growing out of it) and says something to it. He responds to Grimlock and then moves to the NW corner by Hairycheeks. Grimlock accompanies him.
    The Olman man appears to be coming out of his stupor. He looks around and, as gains control of his body, moves to a position of cover from the boa. He ducks behind one of the tumbled columns.
    Tanin continues his wrestling match with the rat in his pants, “Someone get me a dagger and cut away my trousers! I have a grip of the little rodent but can’t get it out.”
    Hairycheeks has collapse onto the floor, his breath becoming shallow. He no longer tries to help himself and is falling unconscious.
    Southar remains fetal, “I have failed you all! Now we must all die!”
    Grom, trying his best to keep the snake at a distance, continues to poke away at it. The snake slithers out of reach of Grom’s short sword and moves towards the double doors disappearing into the darkness that yet hangs there.
    Outside the rain is continuous and the wind howls.
    Grimlock says, “Do not harm the boa or we will not be able to aid Hairycheeks. Finish off the rat and search the room. It is time for us to fall back.”
    “We haven’t much time. This one has almost expired. The snake has poisoned him. If I help him, you must leave the temple immediately. The temple and the remaining Yuan-ti shall not be harmed or desecrated,” says the Yuan-ti as it kneels next to Hairycheeks. It places a palm on his wound, “By Merrshaulk, may the poison leave your body little man-child.”
    Hairycheeks color begins to come back and his breathing starts to regulate. He opens his eyes with much surprise to see the Yuan-ti kneeling over him. He is only slightly calmed by the presence of Grimlock.
    “I have helped your little friend. Now, collect your things and be gone. You shall not return here. Flee far and do not return. Expect to be followed,” warns the Yuan-ti as it rises back to its feet.
    Breymeer had started towards Hairycheeks having withdrawn his healing potion. Seeing Hairycheeks coming to life, he diverts over to Ide Otneaux, “Ide Otneaux and Cirdan Saralonde, your honor and bravery are second to none and I’m honored to stand with you.” With that, Breymeer readies his broadsword and dagger and guards against any actions from the Yuan-ti or the gigantic boa constrictor.
    Cirdan Saralonde moves over to Tanin with his dagger out. He carefully cuts the fabric away exposing the wriggling rat. There is blood on Tanin’s thigh where the creature’s teeth had originally dug a hole. Cirdan Saralonde says, “I feel these creatures are evil and a scourge on the world. We should destroy them, and then make haste to leave this place.” Cirdan Saralonde scans the area around him.
    The Yuan-ti, having just healed Hairycheeks, hears Cirdan Saralonde speak. It replies, “You have killed our priestess and stolen our sacrifice. I have healed you comrade and saved you from mine. Leave now or death shall befall you. I shall not stand idly by for a moment longer!”
    Tanin, still gripping the rat, pulls it away from his body and tosses away. It scurries behind some column debris. “I have very little fight left in me Noble Saralonde, “ says the dwarf, “but I am willing to fight to my last as your side.” He struggles to get up.
    Tarstar continues to gyrate to an unheard rhythm by the altar.
    Ide Otneaux receives Breymeer’s potion and drinks it down, “You almost killed me with that broadsword of yours you dumb oaf. But I thank you for the gift.” (6, 14/28). Although still a little rough looking, Ide Otneaux appears to be putting full weight on her injured leg again. She grips her axe, “So, are we out of here or finishing this fight. I do not trust the snake people.”
    Grom stays near Southar but the cobra seems to have slithered off. Or it hides nearby in the dark. Either way, Grom cannot hear it anymore. Especially over the whimpering of Southar.
    Grimlock begins to speak to the Yuan-ti, assuring him we mean him no harm, “Please, follow me. Let us speak privately outside.”
    The other party members begin advancing on him with contempt in their eyes. As they advance, it begins undoing spells, “Oh great snake, be free of your dance!” and “My friend, return from your rat form!”
    Cirdan Saralonde says to Ide Otneaux, “Follow me,” and to Breymeer, “Find the rat!” Next, Cirdan says, “Servant, find the rat and hold it aloft!”
    Breymeer, focused on the slavers, does not respond to Cirdan Saralonde.
    Ide Otneaux readies her axe and follows Cirdan Saralonde towards the Yuan-ti standing over Hairycheeks. She says, “Stop it from putting spells on us!”
    While they advance, Cirdan Saralonde speaks, “You are in no position to dictate to us what we will do. You healed our friend as you should, it is because of you he was poisoned. His healing does not even start to atone for the atrocities you have committed on the world. You behave now only because you fear for your own life, but you have not ever considered the pain and suffering you have caused others through slavery or sacrifice. One of us dies here!"
    Breymeer rushes by Cirdan and Ide with vengeance in his eyes. All three charge into the Yuan-ti over Hairycheeks.
    The Yuan-ti grabs Hairycheeks short sword, “May Merrshaulk curse you all!” The Yuan-ti’s tail presses Hairycheeks to the ground and the halfling struggles to free itself (3, 6/13). The Yuan-ti drives the shortsword upwards into Hairycheeks chin clean to the hilt (6, 0/13). All signs of life leave the halfling as the onslaught drives into the Yuan-ti.
    Seeing the life leave his friend, Grimlock grips his longsword and drives the blade into the back of the Yuan-ti (10, 45/55) screaming “NNNooooo!”
    Breymeer arrives first, "These slave takers and killers of innocent people must die!!!!!" Breymeer slashes it across the right thigh with his broadsword (6, 39/55) and cuts its abdomen with his dagger (3, 36/55).
    Ide Otneaux, having followed Breymeer in, slashes the creature across the right knee (7, 29/55) knocking the leg out from underneath it. Even with a tail, it is unable to keep from falling prone.
    Immediately, Cirdan Saralonde drops upon it and buries one of his two daggers into it (6, 23/55).
    “This is for the halfling!” is heard from Ide Otneaux as she drops the axe upon the Yuan-ti’s chest (12, 11/55). What should have been the killing blow is swiftly avoided by the Yuan-ti. Although gashed, it twists enough to keep from being crushed under the axe.
    Nearby, Southar begins repeating, “Sylor, I need the strength to overcome! I am greatly afraid.”
    Grom remains near Southar, “toothpick” in hand, watching the events unfold.
    Meanwhile, as the spells were released, the gigantic snake moves forward and strikes out at the Olman man, renewing its attack. The Olman man, seeing the danger, sprints for the hole in the wall but the gigantic snake drops upon him and begins to re-twist around him (4, 9/20). He shreaks with fear but cannot break the grasp of the boa.
    Also, the “rat” retransforms into the other Yuan-ti, “Merrshaulk, you have blessed me, I beg you, cleans my body and renew my strength!” <Neutralizes the poison from Grimlock’s bolt>. Seeing the snake attacking the Olman man says, “You shall have your sacrifice!”
    At the altar, Tarstar stops dancing and begins to survey the surroundings nearby.
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    Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:37 pm  

    Tarstar steps up to the pillars behind the altar, first the east and then the west. He is examining some sacks laying on the floor there.
    The boa continues to wrap around the Olman man as he struggles to free himself (6, 3/20). The Olman man is obviously becoming very weak. The gigantic snake begins to position its head to devour the man.
    The yuan-ti, previously the rat, turns to the group and begins to speak but Cirdan Saralonde speaks over him as he backs away from the prone yuan-ti, “Why try and harm us, we can assist you with the sacrifice, but it is too early yet. Please stop the snake!”
    The yuan-ti appears to be contemplating what Cirdan Saralonde said <failed magic resistance and saving throw>.
    Tanin, having watched Hairycheeks die, recovers his senses, “Ide, the boa is about to eat the Olman man! Help me save him!” Tanin grips his shield and hoists his mace into the air. Tanin is very pale and in obvious pain. Tanin gives a dwarven war cry, “May my clan live on after me!” Tanin charges the great boa with all the energy he can muster. His swing goes wide and misses its mark.
    Ide Otneaux, seeing the danger, withdraws from Hairycheek’s nemesis, and charges across the room and the other yuan-ti, “We are so close to going home, we can’t lose him now!” Ide Otneaux raises her great axe and closes in on the snake. She buries the axe blade into the head of the boa as it lowers down to engulf the Olman man (12, -8/40). The gigantic snake drops to the stone floor, dead. The Olman man is partially trapped under the weight of the great snake (2, 1/20). He is near unconsciousness.
    Something strange is happening near the debris of the fallen columns. Small rocks are lifting off the ground and being set back down as if something is looking behind them.
    The yuan-ti, human body with snake tail, remains prone on the ground. It begins to speak but Breymeer kneels down and drives his dagger into it (2, 9/55). Standing, he slashes it with his broadsword (6, 3/55).
    Grimlock has a very disgusted look on his face. It seems to be directed at the three that charged over precipitating the death of the halfling. Grimlock steps to the side of the yuan-ti and brings his longsword down upon its neck severing the head from the body (9, -6/55).
    Grom remains vigilant near Southar. Southar continues to try and will himself back into the fight, “Sylor, I will not to fail you. Yet, I fear to rise!”

    The yuan-ti smiles, “You thought you had me, didn’t you! By the power of Merrshaulk, you must leave this temple or you will die a slow tortured death!” A sense of foreboding and fear sweeps across the group. While speaking, he steps over and picks up the battle axe that it dropped when changed to a rat.
    “That’s my axe!” yells Grom, recognizing the dwarven battle axe seemingly unaffected by the aura of dread.
    Ide Otneaux looks to her injured dwarven friend Tanin, “You are hurt Tanin, free the Olman man, I will take out this mold smelling snake man!” Oblivious to the fear, she charges through the debris at the yuan-ti.
    The yuan-ti swings at the charging half-orc. Ide Otneaux parries the blow with her great axe but fails to strike a telling blow. Her axe bounces off the scales of the yuan-ti’s tail near it’s would be thigh.
    The wave of fear ripples through the ranks along the west wall.

    Tanin, showing the bravery of the dwarven kind, begins to try and pull and pry the Olman man from underneath the gigantic snake. He accomplishes getting the Olman man free to his feet. He has survived but is still trapped.
    Cirdan Saralonde’s jaw drops, for him the room seems to darken and the shadows spell death. The elf turns to flee.
    Breymeer despite his overwhelming hatred of the slave takers also succumbs to the wave of panic. He turns and scrambles to run away.

    Grimlock, still angered at the death of Hairycheeks, brushes off the fear and charges the remaining yuan-ti yelling, "HAIRY!" Grimlock bashes the yuan-ti with his shield slashes with his sword. The sword bounces off the scaled tail but the shield bash catches the yuan-ti square in the chest and knocks it over backwards (5, 28/50). The yuan-ti flails out with its tail attempting to drag Grimlock down with it but fails to catch a hold.

    Ide Otneaux moves up and attempts to finish off the snake creature but the yuan-ti rolls to the side avoiding the deadly blow. The axe strikes the ground with a clang.

    Tarstar moves up from the altar attempting to gain an attack from behind the yuan-ti. He stalls when the yuan-ti is knocked prone.

    Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde, not daring approach the yuan-ti to crawl out the hole in the west wall, scramble to the NW corner of the room. The darkness covering the north doors prevents their continued flight. They crouch in the NW corner and huddle together now understanding Southar's fear. The hold each other and prepare for the death that surely awaits them.

    Grom, seeing the elf and human flee the battle, shakes his head. He kicks Southar in the rear, "Southar, I fear you must help. We can not tarry here any longer."
    The yuan-ti does not rise. It swings its axe in desperation from its supine position at Grimlock as the half elf moves in to strike with shield and sword, leaving himself partially exposed. The blow strikes Grimlcok lightly across the abdomen cutting his armor and drawing blood from a scratch across his belly (1, 7/15).
    Grimlock recovers in an instant. The yuan-ti blocks Grimlock’s long sword with the back swing of its axe but extends itself out too far and Grimlock smashes the edge of his shield down onto the creature’s tail (8, 20/50). The blow causes the creature to cry out in pain.
    Ide Otneaux attempts to take advantage of its lack of defenses but its tail twists around her legs. He swing goes wide and she falls to the ground next to the yuan-ti, her legs wrapped together (2, 12/28).
    Tarstar, unable to surprise the creature from the rear as he intended, moves in and pierces the yuan-ti. The cutlass bites deep into its left shoulder (7, 13/50).
    Breymeer and Cirdan remain huddled in the corner, covering their heads with their arms and wimpering.
    Southar, however, gets to his feet. The fear in his eyes has been replaced with burning anger. He charges through the debris at the remaining yuan-ti and attacks with his long sword and spear. He shouts, “Die you filthy scum. You shall not harm anyone else ever again!” He is enraged! Unfortunately, his swing of the long sword strikes the ground next to the yuan-ti’s twisted tail and his spear deflects off the scaled skin of the tail without piercing it.
    At the double doors on the north wall, two beetles venture into the room. They are nearly 2 ½ feet long and stand just above knee high on a man. They have very powerful looking mandibles. There is a luminous red glow above its eyes from what you can only guess are internal glands. The area around them is cast in an eerie red glow out to a distance of about 10 feet. The glow is similar if not the same as the reddish glow that was seen in the treeline after the lightning strike prior to entering the stone building. Only then, the glow spread apart indicating many more than two beetles; if that is what the glow was.
    Grom, now alone along the north wall, turns to face the beetles alone. Each of them nearly half as tall as the dwarf. To Grom’s astonishment, both beetles turn and move to the NW corner where Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde are huddled. The red glow illuminates them and they scream as if hell itself has enveloped them. They are ashen white with and froze with fear.
    The first of the beetles bites Breymeer on the chest but his armor protects him from the pinching mandibles. The second beetle attempts to grasp onto Cirdan Saralonde but some unseen force field deflects the blow away.
    The beetles continue to try and maul Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde. Breymeer’s armor continues to keep him safe as does the unseen force around Cirdan Saralonde. Although both continue to cover up as scream and hide in the corner.
    The yuan-ti strikes first. It brings its axe down upon Ide Otneaux who is partialled coiled in its tail. Her brute strength saves her from the blow. Seeing the yuan-ti’s intent, Ide Otneaux breaks free of the creature’s tail and gets to her knees. She swings a desperation blow towards the snake-man. Their axes meet in the air with a loud report. Neither blow reaching its target.
    Tarstar puts the tip of his cutlass into the floor next to the creatures head at it moved to attack Ide Otneaux. The blow missed its mark by inches. Tarstar steps back and again makes an assessment of the room.
    Grimlock, seeing an opportunity, moves in for the kill. Using his shield, Grimlock knocks the now loose tail clear of Ide Otneaux and slashes downward upon the snake-man with his longsword. He cleaves into the transition area from man to snake nearly cutting the yuan-ti in two (18, -5/50).
    Southar moves in and pierces the yuan-ti’s right shoulder with his spear (7, -12/50) and slashes it’s neck with his long sword (4, -16/50).
    The yuan-ti drops to the stone floor and blood quickly pools around it as all signs of life leave it.

    The face of the yuan-ti priestess continues to glow with bright light illuminating the room. The braiziers burn behind the altar. The beetles cast a faint glow. The two torches from Peylae have gone dark, one in the rubble near the north double doors and the other in Southar’s quiver.
    The darkness at the north double doors begins to fade and lightning is once again seen outside. The open doors come back into view and Grom turns to face any new threats. There are a few more beetles roaming around but only one is near the door, about 25 feet north of the building ambling about seemingly aimlessly.
    Tarstar shouts, “I will distract them!” and he breaks into dance, “Here beetle, beetle, beetle! Look at me beetle!”
    The beetles appear to ignore Tarstar. Both attempt to chew up Breymeer in their mandibles. Both of them pincer him in the chest. The first can not defeat his studded leather armor. The second pierces the armor and gouges his flesh (6, 20/29).
    Cirdan Saralonde can not take it any longer. He screams and flees for the open double doors. He streaks past both beetles avoiding being caught in their mandibles. He darts past Grom at the door. Grom reaches out and catches ahold of the elf in attempts to keep him in the building. Grom catches him by the right arm. The elf, displaying his uncommon strength for an elf, rips his arm out of the stout dwarves grip. Cirdan Saralonde exits the building into the severe storm. He darts off into the darkness to the east.
    Southar jumps over a fallen column and moves in to attack a beetle. He arrives too late to stop the elf from fleeing. Southar stabs his spear into the beetle near where the front leg meets the shell (7, 0/7). The spear dives into the beetle and rolls it onto its back. Southar follows up the blow with a slash from his long sword (16, -16/7). The blow from the sword opens the beetle abdomen up splitting it in two peices. The beetle twitches and dies.
    Grimlock follows Southar’s lead and moves in on the beetles. Seeing Southar kill the first, he moves to the second. He attempts to bash the beetle with his shield but it holds its ground. His long sword deflects off the beetle’s shell.
    Breymeer appears to have recovered from his panic. He collects himself, picks up his weapons and regains his feet.
    Tanin assists the Olman man from under the gigantic snake and helps him to one of the broken columns where he guides him to sit and rest.
    Ide Otneaux moves to the hole in the west wall and looks out, “Saralonde is fleeing east into the trees. It looks like he is heading for the trail back to the amphitheatre!”
    The remaining beetle decides there is a better meal elsewhere and turns, heading out the door. As it goes, it runs the gauntlet. Southar’s long sword deflects off the hard outer shell and the spear pokes low, missing the beetle completely. Breymeer, having regained his composure and weapons, fails to land a blow with either his broadsword or dagger. Tarstar completes his dance and charges over catching up to the beetle as it heads out the double doors. He also fails to pierce the natural armor of the beetle. Grimlock just watches it leave. Grom, at the door, also steps aside and allows it back out into the night.
    Somewhere in the night, Cirdan Saralonde runs.
    “I lost sight of the elf as he entered the wooded path. He was still heading east at a good clip,” advises Ide Otneaux.
    Tanin and the Olman man continue to catch their breath. “Elves are fleet of foot, I’ll give you that,” says Tanin, “I suppose we ought to go look for him before trouble finds him.”
    Breymeer looks down at his feet, resting there is an antenna they he cut off the last beetle with his dagger, "I thought I hit that little bugger! Tough shell."
    Cirdan Saralonde, you have made it to the path through the woods and are navigating your way through, still full of fear. You think you can hear the footsteps following you. The sounds push you forward.
    Cirdan Saralonde, you have fled through the woods and across the amphitheatre. You find yourself staring up the winding switchbacks that lead back to the cave you travelled throught to get to this mysterious city. Fear has faded and you find yourself curiously wondering what had caused you to flee in the first place. Never before had you felt such fear and failure. At least, for now, your mind appears to be your own again. What a torture for an elf to lose control of his feelings.
    The storm is still increasing in intensity. The rain is coming down in sheets and the wind blows it sideways. The climb looks dangerous but possible. You are unsure how long you ran but it feals, at least to you, to have only been about five minutes.

    Grimlock can not hold in his anger any longer and spittle flies as he speaks, “Hairycheeks death lies just as much with Cirdan Saralonde, and you Breymeer and you Ide Otneaux, “ pointing to the northman and the half orc, “as it does with that snake man. I am aware it was Saralonde’s charge but you, Breymeer, put your hate first. Without Hairycheeks, you have lost your scouts. I shall do it no longer.” With that, Grimlock begins to poke around the rubble and the altar.
    Breymeer counters, “We all knew there were risks coming here. I am also sad at the death of Hairycheeks. We should give him a proper ceremony and make haste leaving here. We need to find Cirdan Saralonde and return to the meeting with our guide, Neras.” He looks everyone over quickly, “Is everyone well enough to travel? Also, we need to confirm this is the Olman chief’s son.” Breymeer retrieves his torch and stows his sword and dagger. Pulling his bow from his shoulder he continues, “I am not interested in treasure, but if there are additional weapons or armor, we should pick them up.”
    “Aye!” says Grom. “This is surely my battle axe and crossbow that snake creature had.” He walks over and retrieves them, giving his axe a few trial swings. Nodding towards you all, he appears content with the find. An axe, a crossbow and a quiver with a dozen bolts left.
    Southar agrees with Breymeer, “We do need to get the Olman man back to our guide. We can look for Cirdan Saralonde along the way. But first, let’s loot this place for what we can use. Even the treasure may be useful in dealing with Horan.” Southar begins kicking around the rubble also.
    Tarstar, not one for tack, says, “I would also like to say a few words about Hairycheeks. He was a good man, with a terrible smell. May his smell improve in his next life.” Tarstar moves behind the altar and searches around. He carries two sacks draped from his belt. They jingle with the sound of coins.
    Tanin, in response to Breymeers comment about being well to travel, “Us dwarves are a hearty breed, but I am afraid that I am a bit wore down. And, by the looks of it, I am feeling better than this jungle man here. I will travel if I must but maybe we could camp here until the storm dies down a bit anyway. It is dry and looks to be defendable.”
    The Olman man looks ragged. He is scared, you can tell, but he hides it well. His eyes are intelligent as he looks the group over. He is, no doubt, in much pain.
    Ide Otneaux, giving up watching Cirdan through the hole, turns and defends herself from Grimlock, stating, “I helped slay many foe. If not for me, many of you would be dead. I take no blame for the halfling’s misfortune. Sad, it is. But not my fault. The little fella was very brave and likable. His little medicine pouch will be sorely missed.”
    As you look around the rest of the room, you find it to be an old temple. Very old. It is not well kept. Other than the fallen column, it is sturdy enough yet. The floor is covered in layers of dirt and dust. The area around the altar, however, is better kept. The only remaining item of value seems to be the disc of gold that hangs behind the altar and pillars on the south wall. The braziers are made of bronze, covered in black soot, unmarked by etchings or carvings. They are tall and thin like overgrown candle holders.
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    Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:43 pm  

    Southar counters Tanin, “Instead of rest, we need to find the elf and get back to Neras. Escaping before the storm breaks would help the stealth. Are there any among us that can yet heal?”

    Grimlock looks among the fallen Yuan-ti and then moves to Hairycheeks while speaking towards Breymeer and Ide Otneaux, “If you two would have listened as the others did, Hairy would still be alive. The others managed to listen. You were told not to attack the last snake man. He was helping us not by his choice but of mine. Ide, as powerful your axe is against the enemy, it has proven to cut both ways because you simply did not listen. Hairy is dead because three failed to listen. THAT'S IT!!!! Accept your part in this to assure us it will not happen again!” Grimlock removes Hairycheeks pounch of herbs and healing ointments, “We may yet find a way to use this.”

    Ide Otneux defends herself, “Tell me this elf. Your tongue is sharp as your sword. But were you not with Hairycheeks when he died. If you had such control over that snake-man, how did it run a sword through the halflings head? I may not be wise the the mind tricks of an elf, but I can tell you my axe helped bring down that foe. We have all become fond of the little halfling. Maybe you should let your anger rest and thoughts clear before assigning blame and taking none.”

    Breymeer watches as events unfold. He moves towards the Olman man and Tanin. “I still feel we should get moving. We need to track the elf and head back to meet with Neras. If you decide to stay and rest, I am going after Cirdan Saralonde before he is lost to us. When you are ready, I will lead us out of here. The wounded can travel protected in the middle of the group,” Breymeer advises, “That is my counsel.”

    Tanin looks at Breymeer as he approaches the dwarf and the Olman man, “Breymeer, can you speak to this man? Explain to him our need to travel and our will to return him to his father’s people?”

    Grom, not knowing the group and seeing the dissent, watches quietly.

    Tarstar continues to move about the room inspecting and examining.

    Grimlock and Ide Otneaux continue their verbal sparring as Grimlock states, “I hold you the least at fault of the three; as your axe thinks for you but you can't be so naive to believe the snake man cured Hairy only to slay him moments later. My elf mind control was broken because YOU THREE ATTACKED IT! Not to mention I was attempting to gather information about this place, the inhabitance and any other items. All of this is because you three all of a sudden failed to listen. You listened during the battle but then took it upon yourself to no longer heed my words. Why? Yes, you are responsible for Hairy. And to the contrary, I saved Hairys life until you three ended it.”

    Ide Otneaux returns, “In the Pomarj, you either kill or die in moments like that. But, if what you say is true about controlling the snake man and causing it to cure the halfling, then maybe I acted too swifly in killing the last foe. I will try and give your elf skills more latitude, but I trust in my axe more than your elf tricks. As for blaming me for the halfling’s death, you may assign me blame if you wish, elf, but I shall take no more than you. As for helping defeat the enemy and keeping the rest of us alive, I will share in that glory with you. Now, I will argue no further with you, elf, for there appears to be no solution. Here in this jungle, we make stronger allies than enemies. And the law of the jungle appears the same as in Highport where I met you, when your time’s up, it’s up.”

    Breymeer appears to be ignoring the debate. When he gets a moment to speak, he says, “If we miss our deadline to meet Neras our odds for survival are grim and Cirdan’s tracks are likely fading fast.” With that, he turns to face the Olman man and speaks to him. You all continue to hear what Breymeer says in your native tongue, “We were sent here to rescue you and bring you back to your father and your people. If you are able to travel, we need to get going to meet our guide, Neras. I have some water and rations if you need. Also, if you have any knowledge of how we can avoid dangers on our way out of here, please enlighten me. Finally, if you can use a weapon, please arm yourself.”

    The man hesitates but replies, “I am Zuras. What I know of this devil city is ancient legend. Our people lived here long ago but were driven out and the inhabitants turned to devilry and false gods. The yuan-ti, men twisted in evil, praying to their snake god and enslaving and killing all others,” an anger is easily read on his face. He continues, “I find surprise in understanding you for you do not appear as one who should speak as me. I do, however, believe you are here to help me, for you have lost one of your own. The strange hairyfaced child there. If it is not against your ways, I would use his sword to continue punishing those who defile this city in his honor.” He makes some gestures that appear to be honoring of the halfling. He then continues, “My people are aware of a hidden tunnel on the southwestern edge of the city; just beyond this temple,” he points in the direction you entered the city, “Other than that, there is the main gate on the eastern side,” he points to the east, “I know not what we may find guarding the gate or wondering the city. As for my health, the great snake has crushed me but I am strong of will. I will go as I am able.” He walks to the halfling, repeats the gestures and takes the short sword if no one objects or stops him.

    Tanin joins the Zuras at Hairycheeks body, “I leave you your pipe my friend. Your pipeweed I take so that the smoke may be a memory of you. As soon as I can whittle me a new pipe that is.”

    Southar brings everyone back to task, “Alright then, let’s organize our exit out of here, find the elf and get back to safety.”

    Tarstar must think this is a fine idea as he begins to wave his hands in the air and move his feet to some sailor’s dance.

    Grom, as seems normal for him, sits quiet and watches the events unfold.
    The search of the room reveals no other weapons from the yuan-ti other than the battle axe and crossbow that Grom claimed were his. His ownership was not questioned.

    The yuan-ti appeared to have no items of value on them. Tarstar has two sacks hanging from his belt. He did not appear to hide them when he found them and does not appear to be trying to hide them now.

    The discussion among the group reaches the consensus of leaving. You prepare to move back out into the storm.

    Cirdan Saralonde, you are alone in the wilderness yet brother. I will let you know if/when something else comes up. You are currently in the ampitheatre negotiating your way back across the steps and towards the path in the trees that leads back to the temple.

    Tarstar continues his one man jam as the storm flashes outside giving him some type of disco action.

    Southar begins to walk behind the altar and inspect the gold disc mounted on the back wall. “We do not have time for burial. I will take the scouting duties. If the elf went east, we should make for the main gates to get out. It is probably faster and the storm should give cover,” he says over his shoulder to whoever is listening.

    Breymeer still presses burning Hairycheeks, “Let’s gather anything that will burn and send Hairy’s body and spirit to his gods and be off to find Cirdan.” Breymeer starts to gather up fallen wooden beams, etc. while waiting for the group to move out.

    Grimlock begins to walk towards Southar as Southar looks around the gold disc, examining it closer. Southar then reaches out and removes the item from the wall, “It is a shield.” He turns it back and reveals the strapping. It appears to be a gold plated shield. The assumption, judging by the weight, is it is some type of steel plated in gold.

    Grimlock shouts a warning to Southar as the shield is taken away from the wall, “Watch it Southar, there is a hole in the wall behind the shield!” As Southar takes a reflexive step backwards, a hole is revealed in the back wall. The hole has been carved into the block of the back wall. It is approx. 12 inches wide and 9 inches high. The hollow goes back about 18 inches. The hollow does not appear to have a bottom after the first 6 inches.

    Tanin begins to pick up chunks of wood with Breymeer while keeping an eye on Southar and Grimlock’s new find, “Bring wood and oil Grom.”

    Grom, without a word, begins to help. “What did you locate there keen eyed Southar?” finishes Tanin’s statement.

    Ide Otneaux walks to the north double doors, “You won’t have to look for the elf any longer. Look what the cat dragged in!” A very wet Cirdan Saralonde walks back into the stone building.

    Cirdan Saralonde sees the funeral pyre being built and says, “All is clear to the trail with the switch backs. I would like to carry Cheeks back with the hopes that we can find a cleric to resurrect him. If you don't want to deal with the smell, we can bury him and return him to the jungle. Either way, I think we need to get moving. We are more apt to run into trouble here.”
    Zuras looks to Southar with the cobra head shield and says something to him. Even without speaking his language, you get the impression it was a warning of some kind.

    Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde – The Olman man, Zuras, warns Southar that the cobra head on the shield is a symbol of the evil yuan-ti. He fears keeping it will bring curses upon the group.

    Breymeer welcomes Cirdan Saralonde back, “Glad to have you back. If u choose to carry Harry out of here, load him up and lets get going. Zuras said earlier that the way we came in is likely the safest way out to his knowledge.” To Southar, Breymeer says, “"That shield is bad juju Southar and reeks of evil."

    Grimlock’s welcome to Cirdan Saralonde is not as warm, “You can carry Harry as it’s the least you can do since you all but drove the sword into him yourself. Either way, carrying him out is better than burning him in place. The smoke could alert inhabitants of the city to our presence.”

    Southar prepares to stick his spear into the hole as Grimlock moves up, “Let me have a look around quick.” Grimlock examines the hole and the area around the altar. Southar requests, “Get some serious light up here. Can either of you dwarves look and see how hard it would be to loosen some stones?”

    Tanin and Grom both move into look. Ide Otneaux takes the glowing head from the yuan-ti priestess and brings it over for light, “Gross, I know, but it is the best I could do on short notice.”

    Tanin, Grom and Grimlock all take turns examining the hole. The dwarves agree the stone would have to be broken out as it appears secure. Getting the nod to continue from Grimlock, Southar sticks his spear point in as Grimlock tosses in a small piece of debris. You discover the hole is only about two feet down to the bottom.

    Cirdan speaks to the Olman man briefly upon his return.

    Cirdan Saralonde, the Olman man says his tribe does have healers but is unsure if they will be able or willing to bring back the hairy faced child.
    Tarstar awaits the party’s organization and exit of the building.

    Breymeer gathers next to him, “The way we came is Breymeer’s vote.”

    The Olman man joins Breymeer and Tarstar.

    Cirdan Saralonde encourages Southar, “I vote we take the shield, even if we have to cover it up. It may help ward off the monkey men or other yuan-ti we run into. It can be destroyed back at camp. I also vote we return the way we came. We know the area and it is the quickest way back to the meeting place. It also affords us defensible terrain if needed.” Cirdan Saralonde gathers up Berry Hairycheeks and prepares his body for travel.

    Grimlock pipes up, “Anyone willing to reach into the hole and see if the can reach bottome? I say you get the first pick of what is in there if you do! Otherwise, Tanin or Grom, do you think we can break it out in a timely manner?”

    Before the dwarves can analyze the question, Southar pulls his spear from the hole, “Too much time.” He darts his hand into the hole and begins to feels around. With a quick shout, he quickly retracts his hand. He is holding a coil of rope but an adder snake has gripped onto his armor. He scuffs his hand pulling it out so quickly (1, 27/41). The snake appears to have only bit his armor and it is flung into the room and begins to scurry away near the west side of the altar.

    Southar reaches back in and starts pulling out other items while Ide Otneaux walks over to the snake and puts her battle axe down upon it, pinning it to the floor. The snake attempts to bite her but she draws the extra long sword she carries and slices the head off it. She looks back at those by the hole in the wall, “Can’t hurt to have extra meat.”

    Southar pulls out the following items: The rope (60 feet of thin, light weight hemp rope), a bone scroll case corked on each end, and an ivory statuette, about one foot tall, of a creature similar to the yuan-ti priestess with short stubby arms and small ruby eyes.

    Southar said the hole is otherwise empty.

    Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde both move up and examine the scroll case. Cirdan picks up the bone case and removes one of the stoppers. He removes a single piece of paper. Both he and Grimlock examine it in the light cast off by the yuan-ti priestess’s head.

    Southar picks up the rope and asks, “Does anyone have any cloth to cover this shield?”

    Ide Otneaux opens her backpack and removes Alip’s backpack from her own. From that, she removes his blanket and gives it to Southar, “This should work.”

    Southar begins fitting the blanket to the shield.

    Ide Otneaux repacks her pack.

    Tanin, Grom, Breymeer, and Tarstar ready weapons and gather by the door. They await the party to exit.

    The Olman man looks at Southar and those behind the altar with a look of concern in his eyes. It is somewhere between pity and fear.
    Grimlock & Cirdan Saralone, You can not read the scroll. It appears to be something written in a strange language. If it is a spell, it is not written in a way you are familiar with.

    Ide Otneaux stows the snake in her backpack and rescures that packs on her back. “If no one wants to lug that statuette, I will stow that as well. Just so you do not think I am trying to hide it,” she says as she stows the ivory statuette in her pack. She grips her axe and walks to the door and looks out into the dark stormy night next to Breymeer who is standing with bow in hand watching for danger.

    The dwarves share conversation about all things dwarven while they secure their weapons and check their crossbows.

    Tarstar wiggles a silent dance.

    Cirdan Saralonde hands Grimlock the scroll and joins the others near the door. He has Hairycheeks body ready for travel.

    Southar finishes securing the blanket as a cover over the shield and secures the shield to his arm. He stows the rope he found and walks over and joins the group. The Olman man distances himself from Southar. “I will take lead when we go,” he says, seemingly unconcerned about the Olman man’s superstitions.

    Grimlock walks near to the hole you climbed in and sits to read the scroll. She shuffles papers about for a while and talks to himself. The scene would be almost humerous if he wasn’t using the severed head of the yuan ti as a light source.

    Grimlock, you read the comprehend languages from the scroll. The writing on the scroll is looks similar to a pictograph. Your thoughts swirl in your mind as the writing on the page slowly begins to make sense. The attachment is not a direct translation word for word. It is what you perceive as the meaning of the letter. It is signed with a symbol. You know you have seen it before but where is slipping your mind right now. The symbol does not match the writing on the letter as if it were a stand alone symbol and not one of the pictographs.

    Last edited by Sheepdog on Sat Jun 28, 2014 8:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Adept Greytalker

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    Posts: 335
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    Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:44 pm  

    <Letter to Yuan-ti>

    I am displeased with your choice of sacrificing Zuras. Wisdom should tell you he is worth much to the Olman people. We could secure much from them as opposed to using him as a sacrifice to Merrshaulk. We could trade him for many healthy tribesman or gold.
    I have located a statuette you may be interested in and my runner should have given it to you. I believe it is a representation of your god. Please keep it as a token of my sincerity and reconsider the sacrifice. I will be able to give you an endless supply of Olman sacrifices if you would turn Zuras over to me. I have a better use for him.
    We have accomplished much together. You should consider my wisdom. Our strengths shall both be needed to face the dragon.
    Gouthogg is becoming more brazen. He has not yet began threatening our operations, but I feel he will begin to test us soon. We must find a way to counter him before he attempts to drive us from the city. My lords will not be pleased with a disruption in their merchandise.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Fri Jun 27, 2014 7:46 pm  

    Grimlock (OOC) - That little bastard! He's playing both sides of the court. <What does grimlock wish to do now?> Gonna keep it to myself. My employer will be advised on what next to do. Lets catch up to the group and get the flock out of here. I will be working on a plan to to figure out what to do with the statue. As to tip off the dude who sent us on this mission that we know he f**kin with peeps.

    As Grimlock studies the scroll, the light on the yuan-ti’s face disapates and then completely blinks out. The room is still dimly lit by the braziers by the altar and in the NW corner is the soft red glow from the glowing red portion of the dead beetle’s head.
    Grimlock shrugs and rolls up the scroll and tucks the papers back into tubes. He places them in his pack and readies his crossbow, checking the string. He returns to the group, “I will have to look more at it later. Let’s get out of here.”

    Thus ends part one. Part two will be posted as it develops.
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