Serpent's Skull

Settling In
There goes the neighborhood

Golarion date 5 Abadius 4711AR

There was much discussion about where to explore and where to pick for a campsite for the large expedition. Before going anywhere, they opened the coffer they had found in the stash next to the skeletal remains of the half-orc Pathfinder. In the box were 3 mithral spearheads, a handful of uncut zircons, a magical ring, and a bunch of old Azlanti coins. Eventually they wandered back to the trade district they had already visited and decided to clear out the Keches.

Joque snuck up to the large building surrounded by monkey men skulls on stakes and saw that the windows were blocked with branches behind which he spied a pair of glittering eyes watching. He returned to the group and they entered the building weapons at the ready. Zelshee, who was in the lead got ambushed by two Keches who were waiting for her in the dark. They tore at her silently with claws and teeth. As battle erupted inside, Mastuuk started casting summoning spells while flying just off the ground outside. He was surprised when Keches started jumping off the roof and mauling him. Flying up to get away, 3 more Keches leaped off the roof and grappled him pulling him to the ground (they were apparently very good jumpers!). He was pinned and mauled nearly to death, kept alive by channeling from Drasheen and eventually saved by Teyla and Joque. When the battle finished Mastuuk was a bloody mess, but the others weren’t too bad off. They explored the building and found some treasure the Keches had gathered, a potion of protection from arrows, a salve of slipperiness, a wand of charm animals, and some valuables and coin.

Exploring further, they spotted a muddy island in a teardrop shaped lake of murky waters in the northwest corner. The island was covered in cracked bones. Most of the buildings in the district were empty, but there were signs of animals: spoor, chewed bones, scratch marks. In one building they found 5 small dinosaurs scavenging for food, but a well placed spell that summoned a field of black tentacles from Mastuuk took care of them. Deciding they wanted to set up camp in this area, they returned to the Pathfinders.

Making their suggestion to Amivor Glaur, he was not thrilled with the idea of setting up camp a half mile into the city in a district overrun by monsters. He was especially worried about the bone covered island they wanted to camp next to. He pointed out they needed to establish a supply line to the outside world, and putting a half mile of haunted city between them and the only exit from the valley was not a great idea. Eventually they agreed on a spot just at the edge of the ruins and began to set up a long term camp.

Meanwhile, scouts reported that the Aspis expedition was entering the valley. Zelshee, Joque, and Teyla went to speak with them. They talked to Dargan Etters and Ishirou, and found Dargan intended to loot the city. Dargan made Zelshee uneasy, and when she checked she could detect the evil aura around him and his men. Ishirou warned them not to cause trouble because Dargan was a powerful sorceror.

Over the next few days the Pathfinders began surveying the city, and Drasheen enchanted some of their weapons with prayers to her god. Mastuuk studied the journal fragments they found near the ghost and determined the ghost was that of Nareem Daress, a survivor of the Pathfinders Alithorpe Expedition lost 200 years ago far to the west. Apparently Nareem had convinced some companions to flee when the expedtion was attacked and wiped out by an ambush of soldiers of the Gorilla King and lost their charau-ka pursuers when they stumbled into Savinth-Yhi. Wanting to claim the treasure and glory of finding Savinth-Yhi to himself, Nareem led his companions into a nest of monstrous fire ants killing them all. The last entry indicated Nareem was leaving the next day with his treasure and glory. Apparently his plans didn’t go so well considering his current ghostly condition…

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

Our encounter with the Keches was interesting. They are deadly silent killers with amazing powers. I think I was almost as amazed as Mastuuk to find him buried under a pile of them. He has been able to side step, slip away from and fly away from most of the things that have attacked us on our journey but he is really feeling the heat here in Savinth-Yhi. This is the second time in two days that he has found himself near death. What scares me is that he is the smartest guy in the team and maybe one of the most powerful.

That encounter with Ishirou and Dargan Etters was interesting too. I could tell from the way Zelshee reacted to Etters that he may be as deadly as some of the Mantis people and just as set on personal gain at the expense of everyone and everything around them. I guess I never realized the nature of the Aspis guys until now. We are going to have to really watch ourselves because if Savinth-Yhi doesn’t kill us first we may find ourselves up against two sophisticated teams of killers who will try to finish the job and leave our bodies in the ruins.

We told Ishirou that he has an “out” with us but he is probably afraid to take it at this point.

Our only hope is to find whatever it is we have to find to stop Ieana from doing whatever she is intending to do here and get away quickly. Then we can leave the killers to each other. I think I am going to have to watch Mastuuk and Teyla pretty closely. They are the most likely to get themselves enthralled with something here in the ruins that they will not drop and run when the time comes. I wish I was smarter and better. But even I know that gold and glory are not much good if you are dead. I can only hope the other guys see that as well. Things are getting really thick and sticky really quick.

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

After hours of paryer and meditation the images of Masuuk almost dying once again haunt my thougts, but the way Zelshee looked at Dargan Etters has me speachless. The evil from Dargan was unmistakeable, we will have to deal with him later.
To our surprise the Keches were not just quick, quiet and work in the dark very well but they can run and jump at an amazing speed. When Mastuuk started flying upward I thought how cleaver but then the keches jumped from the roof and attacked him and nearly ripped him apart.
I do feel a bit more secure now that our camp had been set. Being able to enhanse some of our weapons is giving me great pleasure, but not being able to seach with the party has me worried and at time distracted. Faith…more prayers…meditation.

Notes of Zelshee Venso

What an interesting place this is. Scary, yes! But so many things to discover. Just think of it – a city thousands of years old, just setting here, practically intact! Imagine the evil creatures that dwell here. Evil, undead minions of a long dead wizard or sorcerer. Or the worshipers of an evil god or goddess. It actually makes me Giddy thinking of all the evil that needs my axe! In Iomedae’s name I will seek out all the evil in this place. Let Mastuuk have his books and scrolls and wall paintings. Let the others have the gold and riches that they find. I want to find the dead and undead and living evil that abides here. I want to go into each building, each room, each bone covered island and bring justice with my axe.
I had a dream that Iomedae favored my axe for just that purpose!
It started with the sneaky Keches. There were so many of them. But we easily dispatched them.(Unless your name is Mastuuk). BY THE GODS!! He may be the smart one in the family – but he’s not the lucky one!!
I think we must all be very wary of Dargon Etters. He has me more scared than Ieanna, at this time. He’s here now! And he’s looking for things that will make him more powerful. I truly believe those things can be found here in this city. We must find them before he does. He is evil, that much is unmistakable! What if he does become more powerful, because of what he finds here, and then allies himself with HER!! And what deal has he struck with the Mantis? We must beat him to that end too.
I feel the gods have put us all in this place for a special reason. I know why Iomedae has sent me. To be her instrument of justice! Why are they others here? I think each must determine that for themselves. And then perhaps, we will have great success in our entire quest!

From the journal of Mastuuk Venso

5 Abadius 4711AR

Nareem Daress, so far from his appointed task yet willing to do anything to share his discovery with the world. He embodies the core of the Pathfinder, although slightly corrupted. It will be difficult to determine precisely how to get rid of his haunting spirit. He was killed trying to share the discovery of Savinth-Yhi with the world. Perhaps it’s as simple as acknowledging his part in the return of this lost treasure. But things are rarely as simple as they seem at first blush.

This city is dangerous and unforgiving. We were to charge ahead so as to most efficiently explore the ruins but Amivor sued for caution and we relented because he is experienced with large expedition groups. If it were just us, I would not worry so much about supply lines and such. I intend to carefully watch Amivor and follow his advice so that one day I can be the expedition lead on a great discovery!

The Expedition Arrives
Ants in my soul pants

The next morning Zelshee was the first one up, and opened the door to the cottage. She yelped as she saw the monkey head on the stake right in front of the door, slowly dripping ichor from it’s ragged stump. Most of the flesh had been chewed off of the grinning skull, and only one eye hung loosely staring up at her forlornly. She slammed the door and jumped back. Apparently Joque’s new friends from the city had visited them in the night. The group searched the area but found no sign of the Keches.

Teyla and Joque climbed the waterfall to look for the expedition, while Zelshee prayed for forgiveness from her goddess and Mastuuk studied his spellbooks while they waited. Joque and Teyla met up with the expedition a couple miles from the waterfall and guided them in. Gelik had quite a few questions about what they had found, and was very excited. Amivor was business like, but impressed with the trailblazers description of the lost city.

Amivor surveyed the overgrown switchback down the cliff by the waterfall and organized work crews to clear it. Drasheen helped with spells to destroy the larger plant life, and it took about two days to clear the way so the porters and mules could make the descent.

On the third day they discussed a location for the expedition camp. It would have to be a good spot, because they would be here for a while and it needed to house nearly a hundred people and the associated animals and stores. The group moved towards the ruins to try and pick a camp site while the expedition picked it’s way down the cliff.

Finding a bowl shaped valley a few hundred feet across with 3 cenotes and a handful of ruined buildings, they investigated. It was near the entrance, had water, and was protected on the north by the steep slopes of the valley. The small depression was quiet, too quiet as the sound of birds and insects from the jungle was gone. There was something odd about this small place…

As Mastuuk was standing near one of the buildings and casting a detect magic spell, ghostly fire ants boiled up from the walls and ground around him and began swarming all over him. He retched and stumbled away, and the group fled the depression. The bowl was quiet and the ants went away, so they returned. The ants came back, so they fled. Joque, determined to figure out where the ants were coming from returned to the depression. The ants returned. Joque started to flee. Then a ghostly figure rose from the ground blocking his path in the middle of the ant swarm, his ghastly voice screaming “It’s mine! It’s all mine!”

Nareem daress

Joque fled the other way, but the ghost flew after him and reached his ghostly hand into Joque’s back and ripped at his soul. The cloud of ghostly fire ants followed, surrounding the ghost. The rest of the group charged into the depression to save Joque as Joque fell screaming. The ghost spotted a pathfinder cloak pin on Mastuuk and became enraged. It charged through the others to attack Mastuuk wailing “I found it first! The city is mine!”

Mastuuk screamed and tried to get away, but the fury of the ghost was too much and he succumbed. Only Zelshee’s divine bond with her axe and calling down the righteous mite of her god allowed her to finally smite the undead spirit and it shredded with a final shriek of “I found it!” and melted back into the ground.

After catching their breath and healing Joque and Mastuuk, they searched the ruined buildings around the cenotes. In one building they found the skeletal remains of what appeared to have been a half-orc and a pile of rocks over a hidden stash next to the remains. Under the rocks was a mithral shield and under that a rotten satchel that contained a hard leather bound journal and a coffer intricately engraved with scenes of Azlanti warriors fighting serpent folk. Zelshee took both, Teyla switched her old shield for the light weight mithral one.

Leaving the bowl shaped valley in the north, they headed east, deeper into the ruins. They investigated a reflecting pool headed by a tall pillared platform overlooking it. Still functioning magic kept the pool clean and flowing, probably from the underground stream flowing to the lake. From here they had a decent view of the north eastern district of the city. They spotted a 500 foot long fortress atop a steep sided 100 foot tall bluff in the distance. Mastuuk, ever the military strategist, thought that looked like a great spot to set up the camp, isolated in the northeastern corner of the valley, cut off from the only known connection to the outside world by a mile of haunted city. So they set off to explore.

Notes of Zelshee Venso

I was just starting to relax a little after finding that staked monkey head when we ran across the ant ghost man. We need magical weapons and we need them right now. Once again, we weren’t thinking ahead. We’ve come into an evil ruined city. It’s been laying here thousands of years. Every kind of evil within a hundred miles have probably moved in here. And we stroll in lacking any weapons that can actually damage the enemy!!Stupid, Stupid, Stupid!! We really need to start being smart about this or we’ll be added to the dead creatures that haunt this place.
We need to go back to the beginning and think this trough.
1. We need magical weapons – each one of us
2. We need to deal with these monkey men.
3. We need a base camp that is easily accessible AND THAT’S SAFE. Not closer to the evil city
4. Joque needs to open that box and see what’s inside. There might be something in it that can help
I am still of the belief that we need to be going through the city and securing each section as we go. That just sounds like the most logical thing to do. Especially in a city this size. And let’s not forget the underground evil chambers that are bound to be here. I can just see it: after months of fighting and killing and smiting evil we emerge from the evil underground caverns, barely alive. All our energy spent. Every spell, gone. Our weapons dulled or broken. And we come across a lone monkey man out on an evening stroll – AND HE KILLS ALL OF US. That’s it, we’re dead. Pathfinder Gumbo for dinner.
Even though we’ve found a magical clean water source, I think we should avoid consuming it. We have the ability to create our own fresh water. And we know it’s safe to drink. But this might be a good place to observe the live inhabitants of the city. If there is fresh water and easily accessible, most likely the creatures that live here – drink here. We should be watching. We could probably learn a lot in just a day or 2.
But, least we forget. There are other teams that will be also be converging on this city. I think fairly soon, too.
During my prayers tonight I need to sharpen my blade.

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

Geeze! Yesterday I thought the Keches were bad. I have never felt the icy claws of death tearing at my living soul and I never want to feel that again. Zelshee is right. This place is more deadly than a serpents’ pit. I really really really need to stay in the back.

Mastuuk seems to want to use the fortress we have located as our base camp. I bet every evil thing in this place thought the same thing hundreds of hungry years ago. How safe can any place here be if ghosts can rise out of the ground under them? Maybe Zelshee or Drasheen can place blessings on the floors or something.

Repeat after me… stay in back…..stay in back…. stay in back…..

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

What a nightmare sight to see the Monkey head all dripping with the goo of its own brains and what ever else. But the frightning chill of reality hit me as I thought “they had been there in the middle of the night only afew feet from our own heads!” I’m getting Mad! real Mad!! Prayers and meditations and Ammunitions!!!! We need to set on a site for camp quickly and begin making magically weapons as soon as possible. I like the fort idea for a camp site that Mastuuk came up with. We will just have to clear it out first. Yes, when the other adventures groups come we will have to defend ourslves against them as well as the evil here. If its possible maybe we could lay low til we got some magically weapons made and then clear out a small but safe place for ourselves, or the other way around. The other groups will have the same difficlties as we have encountered while they are dealing with those problems we will be getting prepared, but for what? ghosts and undead and evil…Just last week I’d never be able to get to sleep…but tonght I will dream of cleaning out and destroying this evil place!

From the journal of Mastuuk Venso

01 Abadius 4711AR

Here written is my last will and testament. To Drasheen, I leave my quills and other writing equipment that she may further her understanding of the arcane. To Joque and Teyla I leave my coin that it may help in their further adventures. My notes on our expedition rightly belong to the Pathfinder Society for which I have devoted my life. And to my sister Zelshee, I leave my personal journal, my heart, and my apologies for leading her astray in this god forsaken wilderness.

Now that is complete, I can reflect on these last few days. My excitement is unimaginable, we have located the Lost City! This is tempered only by my fear for our short minded stumbling. At first I blamed Joque for charging back into the lair of that apparition but I can’t really blame him for showing the same curiosity as me. While he should have used more care, I have certainly been as blinded as he. We are not prepared for this and have rushed in without proper preparation. We have found the city, now is the time to gather our strength, lick our wounds, and most importantly, enchant our weapons. Of course a long dead city is filled with the undead and powerful creatures at that. I plan to work with Drasheen to enchant our weapons and arms, and perhaps create a few items for myself. This will at least give us a chance against what lies ahead. We can also plan an exploration strategy.

The others look to me for direction. They wonder, “where shall we go?” We are here! Exploration is our goal now and a methodical coverage of the city is important. We can’t leave powerful and unknown foes both behind us and in front. Therefore, we must most slowly and with purpose as we explore. They worry that we won’t find the evil priestess in time but I’m not worried about that. If we make ourselves known by destroying the dangerous creatures in the city, she will find us.

Now I must go rest, and perhaps study. I should have brought more books on ancient battles; tactics are not a strength and the others are little better.

The Lost City
Lost no more...

Leaving the ziggurat they found Gelik Aberwhinge and a few Pathfinder agents looking for them. Gelik told them Amivor wanted to see them immediately. Gelik informed them that a scouting party sent out to investigate the smoke from yesterday found that the Aspis Consortium expedition was very close. The scouting party had set some traps in the jungle and launched an ambush of their advance party, but a big Tian fellow with a large sword had charged through the creatures summoned for the ambush and nearly killed one of the Pathfinder agents before the scouting party could retreat. Amivor was very worried about being trapped in the ruins when the Aspis arrived and when he found out they had found the way to Saventh-Yhi he insisted on leaving immediately regardless of Joque’s protests.

So the Pathfinders packed up camp quickly and headed into the jungle midafternoon, with the trailblazing party pushing ahead.

They followed the nearby river upstream (north) for two days into the low mountains, sleeping in the glorious comfort of a cottage summoned by Mastuuk (a spell he had just fathomed how to work). On the third day they found a small tributary that forked off of the main river flowing east. They followed the stream because they had seen a small waterway flowing into the city in the image from the ziggurat and the main river was too large.

The next morning, as they followed the wide stream downwards, Joque was shocked to see Sasha Neva standing on the game trail in front of them with her pet dimorphodon Dondo lounging on a tree branch. Sasha greeted Joque and the others warmly, then warned them that they needed to turn back because her friends (the Red Mantis) had already found the lost city and would brook no interference in their mission. Joque looked around in the jungle for the inevitable assassins but saw nobody but Sasha. However, Joque knew that didn’t mean they weren’t there!

A few tense moments passed as Mastuuk tried to clumsily posture and threaten (something about a scrawny bookish half-orc makes that difficult), while Sasha made it clear she didn’t really want any trouble but knew how stubborn this particular group could be from her time with them on the Shiv. Eventually Joque suggested an agreement of some sort, he seemed to know what they Mantis wanted. Sasha mentioned something about how Joque had helped them before, drawing glares from the others. Joque told the others that the Red Mantis wanted to recover an ancient holy artifact of their Mantis god called The Mantis Blade. Sasha pointed out that the Mantis were not interested in wealth or glory, which is all the Pathfinders cared about. After much discussion, Sasha said she thought she could convince the assassins to accept the Pathfinders presence in the city if Zelshee swore a holy oath to her god that they would turn over the Mantis Blade should the Pathfinders find it. Zelshee considered carefully, and agreed to the pact with the evil league of assassins and Sasha allowed them to pass.

Continuing to follow the stream, they found it soon flowed over a waterfall into a serene mountain valley surrounded by cliffs on all sides. While the valley looked to be the size and shape of the one holding the city in the image, it was empty of any sign of ruins. However, they could just make out a jungle choked switch back that wound down the cliff near the falls and climbed down to investigate.

Following the stream at the base of the falls, they soon spotted paving stones that became an ancient vegetation choked road following the stream. After about a half mile the road crossed the a gorge cut by the stream over a rope bridge or a path leading down the gorge to a slick wooden walkway over the water. The road continued on the other side. They crossed below after dealing with some hungry wildlife at the crossing, and when they came up the other side the city of City of Seven Spears sprawled before them, the most obvious portions the seven huge ziggurats topped with towering obelisks.

Moving carefully into the city they found the buildings mostly intact though in ruins. It seemed abandoned as they walked the eerily empty ancient streets. They poked their head in a few buildings, but stuck to the streets as they made their way towards the monument on the northwest side. This district seemed to have once been focused on trade, probably a guild quarter. The pyramid was carved with scenes of trade and commerce and the obelisk had the Azlanti rune for wealth upon it. One building stood out because no vines grew on it like the others and the colors of it’s walls were strangely muted. It stood alone on a stone platform at the edge of the large lake the single access bridge long gone, it’s large double bronze doors standing open. Joque thought it must have been a bank or vault at one time, and he was drawn to it. He jumped across to the island, looked in the doorway, verified it indeed did look like what he thought from the entrance, then left….

Strolling around the district they found three other interesting structures. A broken bridge crossed the lake, but had gaps up to 30 feet long of missing bridge. A small castle or fort rose on an isolated island in the lake against the near cliff face. Lastly one of the vine choked buildings was surrounded by simian skulls on stakes, and monkey men skeletons hanging from poles on the roof. This last building naturally made them nervous, so Mastuuk cast an invisibility spell on Joque and he snuck in to take a look around. In a matter of moments Joque found his invisible self face to face with two deformed simian creatures lurking in ambush beside the first doorway and barely managed to not wet himself as he was close enough to smell their breath! These creatures looked quite dangerous with long sharp claws and teeth and they were obviously waiting for someone to come in! Joque carefully backed out, hoping the pounding of his heart didn’t give him away.

After a quick consultation, it was decided to retreat back towards the waterfall and set up their cottage for the night before meeting the expedition in the morning.

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

Will we be able to sleep that is the question? We are here. What have we gotten ourselves into. Zelshee had to make a promise to an evil god through his assasians…Never did I think I would see that day! This, although is something I can see the merit in…The Mantis Blade that they were looking for was a spiritual sword and it was an ancient artifact and therefore very important to the Red Mantis. With that promise we were able to pass without a fight and without fear of their presence. When this is over I would not ever want to touch the Blade ever again so it was a honorable promise. (I don’t think I will ever have to weild that Blade.)
Now, in the safety of the housing quarters Mastuuk has provided I can think of the telling of the invisible monkey men that Jocque almost ran into. I’m glad he could retreat safely. Prayers and Meditation…Prayers and Meditation…for all of us!

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

I am not sure but I think I saved us a lot of pain by introducing the group to the idea of promising the Mantis Blade to the boys in red. The problem comes later when we either don’t find the Blade or when one of the Goody Two Shoes types here decide they really can’t in all good conscience, hand the thing over to Chivane and her crew. Of course there is always strong possiblity that in the end Mantis decides to go ahead an kill us because that’s what they do…. like that story about the scorpion and the swan. At a minimum we put the fight off for awhile and there is always the slim possibility that we may have avoided a fight altogether ….. although I doubt it.

And there is a lot to be said for being invisible and really really sneaky. I am probably going to dream about claws and fangs waiting for me in the dark …. if not tonight, then some night.

I hope we wake up in the morning and find our friends at the top of the falls but even that is in doubt now. Savanth-Yhi is not going to give up its treasures and secrets without a blood price. Magic and, in my mind, the smell of death are in the air everywhere. We need to concentrate on finding what we came for and getting out of this place alive.

Maybe Mastuuk has some idea about what to look for. I wish somebody could tell us, up front, where not to look …. like in a house decorated with monkey skulls….. for instance…

Notes of Zelshee Venso

After sleeping for so long on rocks and roots, I now feel as if I’m a princess! This wonderful cabin that Mastuuk now makes for us each night is pure heaven!! Although, now I worry we’ll become to soft with all this pampering.

That oath that I swore to Sasha was probably the A: Hardest B: Stupidest C: Smartest thing I’ve done so far this trip!! We could not fight (or out smart or outrun) all the Mantis to Savinth-Ye. I saw no option. If they want it, and it’s of no use to us, and they’ll leave us alone, why not give it to them? OK, besides the fact that it’s an Evil blade dedicated to an Evil god! I’ll need to ask forgiveness and absolution and mercy, on top of doing years worth of penance!

This lost city is HUGE! And I am so overwhelmed! Where to start? Maybe the worship district. Or should we clear out as we go through the city? Leaving nothing behind us that can harm us. And then there’s the underground. From what I can tell from the little adventuring I’ve done – there’s always an underground and it’s going to be deadly!!!

How many more of those ‘monkey men’ are there lurking in the shadows? We need to deal with them! We can’t assume they will not come looking for us.

I’m really hoping Mastuuk has SOME idea of where to start looking for whatever it is we’re looking for. It might be in that vault thing that Joque went in……

The Way To Savinth-Yhi
Puzzles and Pillars

The Pathfinder expedition settled into Tazion and cleared out the giant wasps left in the ziggurat. The trailblazers continued searching the ruins for the 4th gem to no avail. Once they figured out the pillars near the entrance to the underground tunnels once supported an aqueduct that fed water to the tunnels, Mastuuk thought the gem might be hidden at the waters that fed the aqueduct, but nothing was found there (after a long trek through the jungle) other than a hungry dire tiger that nearly made a meal of Teyla while the others bathed in the river.

Amivor and a couple of his Pathfinders used spells to scour the ruins for secret doors. They were able to find the last gem (jet), in the old temple where the monkey man priest had set up shop. They began to experiment with the idols, placing gems in them. They obviously made several mistakes as the idols lashed out with magical attacks when a wrong gem was placed, and Joque was staggered. Fortunately Zelhee’s ability to heal merciful was able to help Joque. As each gem was successfully placed, the idol telepathically placed a phrase relating to the gem’s purpose in their minds. Once all four gems were in the correct idols lap’s a voice rang out in Azlanti “Thou are ready for the test. Take ye the stones and prepare well, warriors” and the sound of a thousand stones tumbling together could be heard from the next room.

Returning to the main room of the lower level of the ziggurat, they found the black door of the lower room gone and a shimmering magical portal in it’s place. After only a few moments hesitation they proceeded through the portal and found themselves standing at the top of a set of huge stairs (5 foot drop) that wound around 3 sides of a room that was about 150’ deep. The fourth side had a dias that raised about halfway up the pit where a majestic marble statue of Savinth, hero of the Azlanti, stood. At the base of the stairs was a bronze plaque on a marble pedestal. There was a pillar rising halfway up in the middle of the room whose flat top was level with the dias and the midpoint of the stairs (two five foot gaps separated the stair from the pillar and then the dias).

They made their way to the plaque and saw it was engraved wtih four symbols. Along the way, they could see there were four depressions at the foot of the statue. As Mastuuk reached the plague, the sound of rumbling stones could be heard again as the portal they entered disappeared and the black door reappeared, while at the same time the whole wall section at various points of the steps pushed out to sweep anyone off the steps into the depths of the pit. Behind the wall sections as they pushed out could be seen small alcoves with niches that help triangular bronze plaques engraved with symbols. The problem was the walls closed quickly, and to dart in and get them while avoiding being swept off the steps was difficult.

Rather predictably, Zelshee and Teyla soon were swept from the steps and trapped at the bottom of the pit and hurt. Mastuuk flew, and Drasheen air walked, while Joque nimbly darted from step to step. They were able to collect quite a few of the tokens from behind the sliding walls, when suddenly the floor of the pit began hissing with poison gas slowly filling the pit (much to Teyla and Zelshee’s dismay).

The others rushed to the statue with the tokens and saw that they would fit in the depressions, but the depressions held other symbols and they would have to figure out how the symbols int he depressions matched with the ones on the tokens! This involved some guessing and trial and error, unfortunately each error resulted in a scream from the statue that was a sonic blast that stunned all in the room.

As Zelshee and Teyla were slowly succumbing to the gas, and the gas neared the puzzlers on the dias, they finally placed the 4th token correctly. As they did the gas stopped and began receding as the statue rotated on it’s base and the back of the statue turned into another shimmering portal.

Stepping through the second portal (after recovering the coughing warriors from the bottom of the pit), they found themselves in a circular room with two small quartz windows on opposite sides. In the middle of the room was a large circle with a fine grid carved into the floor, and around the circle were arrayed 4 columns made of six circular rotating disks. Each disk was engraved with 6 symbols. The symbols had a theme on each pillar: Sun, stars, moon, and void. There was a depression at the top of each pillar and when they put the corresponding gem in the pillar beams of light came from each quartz to each pillar and a shimmering image of a jungle scene appeared above the circular grid in the middle of the room and a pinpoint of light appeared on the grid! Experimenting with the pillars showed that the scene on the floor changed as the disks in the pillars were rotated, and if all 6 symbols were lined up the scenes included some ruins. Mastuuk was able to use his knowledge of the geography of the Mwangi Expanse to realize the point of light on the floor showed the relative location of the scene displayed, and the grid represented a specific distance. After lining up the pillars such that the matched symbols were one’s holy to the Azlanti religion the image showed an ancient city of towering ziggurats and crumbling, vine-choked buildings around a central lake, filling a hidden valley. Looking closer they could see a river that fed the central lake. Mastuuk was quite sure the crumbling city was a modern view of Savinth-Yhi and analyzing the point on the grid he was able to pinpoint it’s location to only a few days travel from Tazion through a mountainous portion of the jungle. The way to Savinth-Yhi had been found at last!

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

Not a single tarr in any bar in the whole friggin’ world would believe what has just happened here. Esecially if I tried to tell them about it. Truth be told, I am not sure that I could even tell it right. One thing I have right is that it took every last one of this crew using all of his or her talents to get to Tazion and solve this puzzle. In fact, it actually took more than our team to do this. It also required the help of the expedition to find the last gem.

Speaking of gems, I noticed that once we left the “map room”, the gem stones disappeared. It would be the irony of ironies to have come this far and discovered this much, only to lock the keys in the treasure chest!

I did not know it until yesterday but “Savinth-Yhi” translates as “The burial place of Savinth”. I am not a fortune teller but it is starting to dawn on even this salt that that whore Ieana is trying to bring this snake god back to life and we may be on the way to bring Savinth back to life so he can lop the head off of the snake one more time. I think most of the people in our expedition and probably all of the people following us are here for the treasure they might get out of the deal. I am beginnng to think it will be a miracle if any of us live through what is about to happen in long lost Savinth-Yhi.

I think we have already secured the magical sword that Chivane is after here. She and her Red crew do not have to go any further or wait any longer. According to Mastuuk it is an ancient weapon that can shatter other weapons and probably some kinds of armor. I thought about taking that out of our bag of findings and trying to get it to Chivane but as this thing has unfolded it has become clearer and clearer to me that we are going to need every possible advantage in the battle to come — maybe including a weapon that can shatter other weapons. Shivane will have to wait for this to be over but by then she may be fleeing for her life from what may be unleashed here or looking for our small band when we are all dead.

There I go again, cheering myself up. I will talk to Zelshee about making sure this sundering weapon is readily available for use in the burial place of Savinth which appears to be just a short jungle walk from here. I bet the door to Savinth-Yhi is locked and guarded. Better sharpen my picks…..

Notes of Zelshee Venso

I don’t know how I survived that room with all the steps! I don’t know how any of us did. Being pushed off the ledge, the hideous laughter, and the choking gas. We were lucky (once again) to make it out alive! Well….thinking on it. We were actually lucky to even make it in. We kept putting the gems in the hands of the wrong idol. Divine intervention (feeling sorry for us) or just dumb luck (sorry Mastuuk). I did my best to help, what little I could. There was nothing for me to hit with my ax. And I really didn’t understand that last room with all the different views of the jungle. Gods know I’m not the brains of this operation!
But soon, very soon, my ax or bow will be needed again. That day, I am looking forward to. If this ziggurat is just the means to find the hidden city. Savinth-Yhi will be guarded by who knows what!? And how many?
Yes, tonight we sharpen our weapons for the justice that will be dealt from them. Then we can look forward to days marching in this evil jungle.

And this jungle is nothing but evil! A girl can’t even take a bath without being attacked by something right out of a scary bedtime tale. And once again, Teyla had to be saved. I think she has the worse luck out of all of us. At least I got all the tar off me before that dire tiger pounced on us!
Next town: – More soap.

From the Journal of Mastuuk Venso

30 Kuthona 4710AR

We have done it! We have found Saventh-Yhi! I’ll not say it’s been easy. Jocque was unable to find the final stone but luck was with us and the Pathfinders had a spell prepared to aid in locating the final piece to the puzzle which, when activate, yielded entry to that great room. Oh and what a puzzle it had for us. I will have to contact the creators and point out a few ambiguities and poor assumptions on their part. Perhaps there will be a second pressing.

I couple have spent a lifetime exploring the room of maps. The information there could launch and complete the careers of three Pathfinder greats. Alas, my fame lies elsewhere, in the great city itself, just days from us. I am a little worried that we have not seen much of our competitors or that Great Evil. Has she already found the city or just she follow us from the shadows, letting us do the difficult work while she waits to snatch the prize from my hands.

The image of the ruins indicates a vast, and likely dangerous, ruin. What unknown dangers await? More serpent men? Magical beasts? Great powers from beyond space and time? I do hope not, we’ve almost lost Teyla more times than I can count and I have become quite fond of her. I wonder if she feels the same? I digress. We must ready ourselves but I am unsure how. My initial feeling is to gather more magic. Perhaps the caravan has some useful spells in hidden books?

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

Today was the day to beat all days. I am so tired and yet I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep or meditate. Zelshee and Teyla almost died from the gas and shreekings of the statues while we fit the gems in their correct places. Every time I was sure I had a corrstponding riddle and puzzel piece figured out I was wrong and my friends got hurt and sicker and sicker. I was so afraid to do anything and yet we had to before they died. We have much to think about and figure out. I say that because we have not been right much. It seems we have to try everything first before we come up with the rigth answer. My friends almost dying in the bottom of the pit while we tried and tried to figure out the right configuration of the gems. When I close my eyes I see thier slumped bodies not knowing if they are alive of dead.
As I pray myself to sleep I pray for guiidance. This if only the beginning…

The mystery of the Ziggurat
Now where's that damn gem!

Golarion date 28 Kuthona, 4710AR

After catching their breath amidst the carnage of the battle of the ziggurat, the group entered the lower level. They found a standalone structure inside with a strange black door with no lock or handle that was festooned with arcane runes and radiated strong magics. They could find no way to open it.

Investigating two ornate doors on the north side of the chamber, they found curving stairs leading down to a temple like area that had four Azlanti idols floating above short pillars. Each statue had a flat area instead of a face that slightly glowed a different color (purple, white, silver, and yellow). In the lap of each idol was a small depression and the hands of the idol were palms up on either side of the depression. Joque was fascinated by the magical idols, but their purpose could not be fathomed.

Exploring another archway off the main chamber they found a shrine to a moon diety and another submerged shrine to some deity of the dark tapestry (the darkness between the stars inhabited by hideous tentacled abberations). Wandering outside to the ziggurat’s courtyard, a sharply dressed and handsome elf was spotted on the second level of the ziggurat. He launched a lightning bolt at Zelshee as she dived back into the door. After taking cover, Joque and Zelshee decided to charge up the stairs in the courtyard that led to the second level. By the time they got there, they spotted the dapper elf had fled the ziggurat and was heading for the brush by the north wall of the ruins. He launched another lightning bolt at them before ducking into the underbrush and escaping.

Upstairs they found a room that seemed to be a place where the Azlanti who built this ziggurat tracked migrations of their people in runes and pictograms. Mastuuk was able to puzzle out references to Savinth-Yhi, but no clue to it’s location. In this room they found scattered papers that appeared to be notes and research from the Serpent Folk Wizard they had fought:

The great coils of Ydersius stir in the darkness and our people answer his call. Above all who still dwell apart from our homeland, I, Isslar have been chosen to find and prepare the way by the Prophetess Yarzoth! I must not fail her or the great god; I must be ready when the Prophetess comes.
The route may have been lost, but our hated ancient enemy left clues so that we might find Savinth-Yhi, the grave of the hated for, and thus our home! Long have I studied the puzzle Savith left, and yet its meaning still eludes me! A small band of my degenerate kin have already come to the Ziggurat and I sense that more of our kind draw near, answering our master’s call. Yet my progress on finding the way for them has been maddeningly slow!
I must decipher the mystery of the idols and the doors, and thus open the way! The idols all glow the same and I cannot tell them apart. I have the ape men enthralled to my wishes and they search for answers in these accursed ruins, but I put little faith that their primitive mammalian brains are up to the task. Still they are effective deterrents to other creatures so I may perform my research undisturbed.
The enemy is on to us, I must redouble my efforts and decipher the secret of the idols. I have orchestrated our defenses, but I worry that these primitive ape men will not be enough to hold off the smooth skins when they inevitably come tomorrow.

Exploring the third level, they found it’s roof had collapsed and it was overgrown with brush and vines. It appeared some ape men and the six armed girallon had been living up here. They also puzzled out that a large portion of the second level was inaccessible but had quartz crystals about a foot in diameter high on the wall, and the wasp nest hole was the only apparent entrance to that portion of the second level.

Returning downstairs they forced open a door to the eastern portion of the ground level that had incredibly rusty hinges and the bottoms of the door was buried in about a foot of mud and dirt. Inside there was a foyer that led to two more shrines, one dedicated to some sort of sun god but grown over with dangerous mold, and the other dedicated to Desna but guarded by ancient metal snake statues that attacked them.

Zelshee realized the pattern of the shrines and suggested a careful search. Sure enough in the moon, sun, and star shrines Joque was able to find three gems in hidden compartments (a moonstone, a star sapphire, and a piece of amber). They thought it likely these gems were the keys to the magical idols, but needed the fourth. Determined it must be in the submerged shrine to the dark tapestry, Joque went wading in the slimy stagnant waters. Finding no secret compartments, it wasn’t long before he found the three foot hole in the floor. Gloop!

Swimming down the tunnel he came out through a shimmering magical field that held back the water in a narrow arched brick tunnel. Exploring the tunnels they found there were four of them leading off in each of the cardinal directions from a central round domed chamber. The north one led to the ziggurat where Joque entered, the south to a well occupied by a tentacled monster, the east to the ruined snake tower, and the west to a ramp up to the outside near the western gate (near some ruined columns that once held… something?).

Killing the monster in the well and searching the snake tower turned up nothing. They returned to the ziggurat, passing the old temple where the monkey men were found and started searching the ziggurat with a fine tooth comb for the suspected fourth gem. Growing frustrated with their failure to find anything further in the ziggurat, the Pathfinder expedition finally showed up and began filing into a camp in the ruins. Amivor tasked the adventurers with solving the secret of the ziggurat and finding the way to Savinth-Yhi.

From the Journal of Mastuuk Venso

29 Kuthona 4710AR

I have been studying the notes of our adversary for clues to the location of the final gem but have made only marginal progress. As it stands, we have the star sapphire (purple), amber (yellow), and moonstone (silver) but have yet to locate the white gem. The three productive shrines seemed logical matches for their gems but the remaining shrine, dedicated to the dark tapestry, seems the opposite of the final stone. The fact that Joque was unable to locate a hidden compartment suggests that it is the exception.

Isslar’s notes provide little assistance. He was unable to discern the colors and was thus lost. I suspect that the monkeys found nothing that they revealed to him or there would be mention of it in his notes. I’m not quite ready to dismiss this possibility however and feel we should search their sleeping quarters again for signs of a gem.

The tunnels under the city lead to the four edges of the city and were likely there so the priests could rapidly reach key points. It may be worthwhile searching the western tower more thoroughly but I believe this will be a red herring as well.

There is another possibility: there may not be a forth gem. The white light may suggest an opposition force to the dark tapestry. Perhaps we need to banish the darkness from that temple or perform some similar ritual to banish the light from the statue. Maybe we should begin by placing the existing gems in their assigned statues and see if any changes occur?

My mind keeps returning to the dark temple. Only a mad fool worships the beings of the dark tapestry and I find it difficult to believe that either the ancient denizens of Tazion or the evil worshipers of Ydersius would be interested in these beings; provoking their interest would likely destroy life on our planet and destroy the gods. This must be a sort of anti-shrine to remind us of the darkness and how we must fight to banish it. If only we can figure out how, we might be able to continue in our quest.

Notes from Zelshee Venso

What rotten timing! I had hoped to have ALL 4 stones by the time the caravan arrived. Now we’ll look incompetent at best. How hard can it be? It has to be right under our noses. We have searched everywhere, we think. So 2 other possibilities: 1. It’s already been found. Or 2. It’s not needed. Or perhaps 3 – it’s not a stone at all that is needed but….maybe blood or an eyeball or some other demented object that these lunatics have come up with. So, in other words….who knows where or what it could be. And we wind up looking like armatures. Really hoping Mastuuk can pull this one out of his ear!
This place is not so scary as it first was. I can see the beauty in the design, as it once must have been. How the original builders laid out the complex with thought. How the sunrise captures the side of a long ago building and makes the shadows dance. It is sadness to think of the evil, once again, that has brought us to this place. But with each passing day, SHE grows closer to her end!

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

I can hardly take in all that has happened to us in this castle like place. When the Elf on the roof area started shooting at Zelshee I felt like it was a trap for us to come follow, and I was glad we didn’t. But the thought lingers what was that all about. Some how it must be tied into the answer. Maybe it wasn’t intended for us to follow the well dressed dressed(and quite out of place) Elf but to stop us from going in that direction. All of us feel the urgency to find the gems and its mnaking me a little crazy, second guessing everything. The caravan has arrived maybe some new eyes on the situation will help or will it just make things worse? Pray and meditate. In all honesty I have been quite impressed with everyone. Joque who swore not to lead and be in front has really come thru when it counted. And Mastuuk has out done himself with answers just when we needed them and Zelshee is the bravest and strongest of us all and she isn’t shy or hesitant…
I am so tired I must study and pray for guidence.

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

Repeat after me…… Okay, okay, so I did it again….. seemed like the thing to do….. just like the times before this. Gotta knock this stuff off. Gotta concentrate on thinks I do best like searching for traps and secret pannels. At least I was able to help with those skills but just couldn’t pull off the finale’.

My fears about the main party being ambushed outside the walls failed to materialize but I think we might use some of Amivor’s trackers to check out the direction that fag elf disappeared. I will try to get an audience with his highness and talk to him about what may be waiting in the underbrush around us. Knowing his kind, he will likely blow me off but if he does I hope he lives long enough for me to tell him I told him so.

I have been thinking about what Mastuuk read to us when we found the snake wizard’s notes. He said something about “doors” — not one door, but doors. I am going to talk to Mastuuk about this. Maybe there are four doors to be opened here. One door for each stone. I don’t know much about deep magic but it would not surprise this salt if the big magical door we found on the lower level of the ziggurat actually opened up to four separate pathways. Maybe the wandering gliths in the wizard’s room tell of four wanderings of long ago…. hmmmmmm.

One other thought comes to me. An old sea dog I once heard talking in a bar up north told a real corker about how these odd birds they ran into on a far away island kept stealing the cook’s cup. It was some kind of baked clay that had been painted white. The birds kept stealing it. Each time they had to go out an lift up every nesting bird on the island before they found the cup. The dumb birds thought it was an egg and they kept stealing it and trying to get it to hatch…..harr, harr, ha. I wonder if the last stone looks like an egg. If it does maybe the wasps have been trying to hatch it for the past several hundred years or so. One thing about that is that if it was laying around loose it was not in a lead-lined box like the other stones. Maybe a good way to check this egg idea is to have Zelshee use her powers to locate magical items. If the stone is in the nest. She should be able to sense it.

After I talk to Amivor I think I will try to get some of my friends to try the four door idea and maybe after that to find out what lays in and behind the wasps’ stinking nest.

And speaking of stinking, I and my armor need a bath really, really bad.

Storming the Castle
It would take a miracle

Golarion date 29 Kuthona 4710AR

Retreating quickly from the ruins of Tazaion, the adventurers picked their way north through the Mwangi jungle taking pains to try and hide their trail. They found a defensible spot in the jungle and set up camp to recuperate. Everyone was on edge as they expected the canopy to explode in screaming monkey men and magic flinging snake men at any moment, but the night passed peacefully.

The next morning they picked their way carefully back to the ruins and the hole in the outer wall near the ziggurat. Joque checked the net trap he disabled yesterday, finding it still disabled but fortunately noticing that they had cleverly set ANOTHER trap underneath and left the disabled one as a distraction! Joque carefully cut the trip vines for the new trap and they sneaked into the underbrush north of the ziggurat where they spotted monkey men guards on the terrace of the second level. Debating what to do they retreated back outside the ruins and went in through another hole in the wall to the west.

Approaching from the west of the ziggurat they spotted a large hole on the side of the second level, but no guards there. There were guards on the south side, so the west seemed like a safe approach. After a quick recon of the west side by Joque and Teyla, Joque heard some scratching sounds from the vicinity of the hole. Retreating to the group a discussion ensued in which the plan formulated was for Zelshee to charge the front distracting the guards on the upper level with arrows from her bow while the others climbed the west side and Mastuuk webbed the hole to block whatever might be inside.

Charging forward, Zelshee drew a rain of thrown rocks from the monkey guards, whose numbers swelled as monkey men came streaming out to respond to the alert. Mastuuk and Drasheen had trouble climbing the walls, but Joque and Teyla made the terrace of the second level only to draw the attention of the giant wasps (horse sized) who had made a nest in the hole! Teyla charged the monkey men on the south side of the terrace while Zelshee continued firing her bow. Joque tried to take refuge from the wasps in the hole where he discovered their mud nest and his next words were “this was a bad idea!” as the wasps swarmed to defend their nest. Joque barely escaped (he’s a slippery one) and Drasheen was tied down calling bolts of lightning down on the wasps. Mastuuk went invisible to escape the wasps and discovered more monkey men guarding the north.

A giant constrictor snake came out from the lower level of the ziggurat prodded by a monkey man with a pole, but Zelshee made quick work of it with her axe. Teyla was a killing machine on the second level wading through the monkey men with hammer and shield until a huge six armed gorilla (a “Girallon” Mastuuk called it) with a fire spitting monkey man on it’s back and three other monkey men came through the arch on the top level and attacked Teyla, taking her out of the fight.

The Girallon turned it’s attention on Zelshee as the snake man wizard made his appearance again on the second tier with more monkey men reinforcements. Zelshee was hasted and enlarged by her invisible brother and battled the fierce multi-armed gorilla as the snake wizard rained spells down on them, taking out Joque with his magic missiles. Drasheen, having finally gotten away from the wasps appeared around the corner of the ziggurat just in time to save Zelshee with some healing and Zelshee was able to take down the big beast, cut through the monkey men and threaten the wizard. Zelshee was very fortunate to have resisted the Wizards enchantments, and with one last spell that she again resisted he fled over the top of the pyramid climbing it as easily as a spider and escaped.

They paused to catch their breath amongst the carnage of the assault. It was indeed a miracle none of them had died as the ruins fell silent…

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

Repeat after me:

  • Resist all frontal assaults. Frontal assaults are dumb.
  • Stop being in front. Being in front is dumb.
  • Don’t be the first over the wall. Being the first over the wall is dumb.
  • Don’t count on wizards. Counting on wizards is dumb.
  • Stay away from giant wasps. Being close to giant wasps is dumb (and to their babies, dummer)
  • Watch out for bad wizards. Going after them one-on-one is just stupid.
  • You are not a fighter.
  • You are not a fighter.
  • You are not a fighter!

I cannot believe what just happened. My breath is coming in ragged gasps. My friends are all standing but wounded and on wattery legs. There are dead animals and creatures everywhere and we haven’t even opened the door and said hello yet!!!!

Chivane and Kassata and the other crews that left town ahead of us never got this far. There is no sign of them and I am certain that this hoard would have left a few of their bodies or body parts scattered around if they had gotten here already. I am getting a creepier and creepier notion that our expedition and its baggage train are not going to get here tomorrow and, if they do, there will be a lot fewer of them than there should be, and they will be captives doing a new master’s bidding.

My mother would beat the crap out of me if she found out I got killed out here all alone in the Mawangi Expanse because no son of hers would be so dumb as to have gotten himself in such a postion in the first place. And yet, my mind wanders back to the dream Nkechi pulled us into. A great horror awaits all our mothers and friends if we don’t press on and even if we do and fail to stop that whore Ieana.

I want to stop here. Rest and get well. Wait for the expedition to show up. But maybe now is the time to press on into this ziggurat and find out what these scum have been trying to defend. I will tell Zelshee and the others about my fear for the expedition and see what they think we should do because I don’t really know.

Whatever the decide, I have to get my act together. Repeat after me……..

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

May the Master of Wind come quickly to this place! The stench of burned flesh and spilled innards mix with the smells of rotten vegitation, tar and pools of blood to assault me with an almost solid blade! As a hush comes over the glade I see my companions, one by one, stand erect and look about them. To an individual, I believe we are all surprised to be alive.

I guess there was no better way to do this. We tried to draw them out in several ways but they were sticking to their walls. It had to be this way but what a sorry mess.
Am I dreamming or in shock…? the thoughts of 6 armmed monkey men and huge wasps is swrilling in my mindnot to mention the smells of death and evil.
We must re-group and spell up and get strong quickly. We haven’t even gotten inside yet and we have barely managaed to stay alive at each atempt. My companions have never been braver but can we survive this???
We must…we must pray…we must meditate…we must pray…FIGHT AND NEVER STOP.

From the Journal of Mastuuk Venso

29 Kuthona 4710AR

Jocque is angry at me because he thinks I left him to die. He doesn’t realize that our plan fell apart the minute he ran up that wall and I was stuck at the bottom…had he just waited a few more seconds.

At least we all survived this time with energy and magic still left in our bones. I hope this was the wizard’s last stand and we’ve exhausted his minions. Not that I look forward to finishing him off but if it’s just him we at least stand a chance. He’s thrown all sorts of awful at us and we’ve thrown it right back. He’s defeated..perhaps he’ll realize this and sue for peace.

The Azlanti Ziggurat of Tazion

Golarion date 27 Kuthona, 4710AR

They explored the ruins where they encountered the monkey men. Mastuuk thought the architecture was Azlanti, but the area was so crumbling it was hard to be sure. The whole area was filled with tar pits and overrun with Boab trees. In the crumbling remains of one tower they found 4 monkey men waiting for them in what must have bee the “Shedding Pit” because they had 3 Zenj tribesmen tarred and tied by their feet over red hot coals. When the intruders refused to surrender, the monkey men lit the captives on fire. The savage monkey men were dealt with easy enough, but the unfortunate captives died.

In the largest tower remains they found where the monkey priest had made his temple. Thousands of bones were plastered to the round walls to make a statue of a headless serpent. A quick search of the “temple” found nothing more than the belongings of the priest and his giant snake.

Leaving that building they approached the ziggurat which rose up out of the jungle in the northern section of the ruins. The ziggurat was partially sunken in the soil and was overgrown with jungle vines. Sunken in the southern face Joque spied massive double doors that were obscured by hanging vines but standing open. A quick reconnoiter showed no other entrances but there appeared to be an open courtyard in the east with a crumbling stone staircase rising up to the middle level of the ziggurat. With all the vines the ziggurat appeared easily climbable, but they decided for the easy route of the doors after having a loud conversation about it just in front of them.

Inside on the lower level they found a large room filled with mud, water, and other runoff from the jungle. Waiting in ambush were three snake men warriors weilding great swords. These three proved quite capable and dangerous and beat they adventurers to within an inch of their life before going down. Congratulating themselves on their narrow victory, healing their wounds, and conjecturing about the presence of the snake people a door from the room to the courtyard opened and another snake person appeared. However, this one was a powerful wizard and he spoke in their minds telepathically that they would pay for their intrusion with their pathetic lives as he let loose a lightning bolt into their midst as he spider climbed to the ceiling.

They fled for the outdoors to get away from the angry snake wizard, but Drasheen slipped int he mud and was stuck in the room. Fortunately she resisted the hideous laughter spell and slipped out with the snake wizard on her heels. A ranged battle ensued with the snake wizard casting spells from the top of the ziggurat and the adventurers answering with arrows and magic of their own. Teyla was enchanted and taken out of the battle, and Joque nearly paid for a brave climbing approach with his life when he was briefly paralyzed by a spell and nearly had his throat cut. But eventually they were able to wear the wizard down and he fled for the top of the ziggurat and disappeared.

They adventurers licked their wounds and fled for the deep jungle to recuperate.

From the Journal of Mastuuk Venso

27 Kuthona 4710AR

This has been perhaps the most trying day in our little adventure. I am completely drained; magically, physically, and emotionally. What fools were we to think that the snake worshipers would only infiltrate the upper city buildings? Snake men are resilient and trying and we narrowly escaped with our lives only to be attacked by their powerful head priest! At least I hope he is the head priest and not merely another minion. He has run off to recover as we were about to do but I have no doubt he will be back. We all need rest and rejuvenation but we must post a vigilant guard. I’m not sure how to resolve this matter. I supose we could try to travel outside the city and meet up with the caravan as they will be here tomorrow anyway, but that could still take many hours. I think we’ll just need to find an isolated area and setup a perimeter then hope for some luck.

I’m quite curious why the lizard men were in the ziggurat. The information we are seeking must be here since it is nowhere else in the city. Perhaps they have come to the same conclusion? But why would they care? The Azlanti are long gone and the Snake has prevailed so why would they care about the ruins?

Notes from Zelshee Venso

We’ve been beaten at every turn. And just when it looks like we’ve lost for sure, the tide of the battle turns. But, I fear the night. We’re all so spent. And I’m sure the snake priest will be hunting us before we are ready for him. And how many minions will he have with him? It’s a terrifying thought – having come so far only to be sacrificed to the evil snake god we’d hope to destroy! We must prevail. And if we do, what have we learned? Those evil snake worshiping monkey men almost captured us. And evil snake worshiping minions almost bested us. And an evil snake worshiping priest came so very close to killing ALL of us.

But what, pray tell, will happen if we don’t? Justice must be done! It must prevail! We must carry on and fight the good fight till we all are no more.

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

Almost got myself and my friends killed again! That loud conversation we had just outside the doors of the ziggurat was just dumb. We had just come from two encouners with those ugly snake worshiping monkey men. What posessed us to assume we were now safe enough to throw stealth to the wind? If we live through this night, I am going to try, once again, to get these friends of mine use a little more midnight walking and talking when we are near a nest of bad guys. I don’t think it will take much convincing on my part. As I look around at them I can see their eyes have the look of men and women who know they have just escaped with their lives.

One thing botters me a lot about what we are doing right now. I don’t think any of us, including Mastuuk, knows what we are looking for in this crumbled and dangerous ruin of a city. I suspect that Ieana may have already found it and moved on because it is highly unlikely in my mind that these snake men and their priest have been here for long. What could possibly draw them here and keep them here for any appreciable period of time? No. They have been called here and left here to stop anyone following that bitch.

One bright spot in all that we have encountered so far… no sign of Captain Luwynn, Chivane and Sasha or any of the others that were on their way ahead of us. I wonder if they lay in the Screaming Jungle or on the plains behind us. On the other hand, they could be just outside the ruins waiting for our main body… waiting for our team to do all the dirty work and all the dying. Maybe, if we live through this night, we will find out. I will talk to Mastuuk about this in the morning. If we see the morning.

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

If cleanliness is next to godliness we are far, far away from all that is good. The tar pits, the swampiness the deadth in the air it is all bad and scarey…
Now is not the time to weaken it is time to stand fast and do what is right. I vote not to talk to anyone but read the walls of the ruins. To study what we already know and let the gods lead us. Why does anyone think these evil, and or dead creatures are going to tell us anything useful. Study them against what we know but don’t think they are going to help us in any way. Never did I think I would ever say shoot first, talk later, but that’s exactly what we have to do while backed into a corner, to stay alive and fight Ileana and her snakes. I know
everyone knows this down deep in their souls. Guide us all.

Entering Tazion
Of crazed monkey men

Golarion date 18 Kuthona 4710AR

Leaving behind the grieving spirit dancers, the trailblazers continued north along the river at the edge of the laughing jungle. Soon the river cut due east along the northern edge of the jungle. This was the point at which the plan was to cut due west across the savannah, which they did.

They traveled for 8 days across the open plains of the Mwangi expanse with the northern foothills of the Bandus visible to the south. Joque slowly recovered from his experience with the succubus, but it became evident Teyla was not. She was listless and weak. As they neared the Mwangi jungle, it was decided to take Teyla back to the main body of the expedition and see if they could get any help for her. Mastuuk summoned magical mounts for the Mastuuk and Teyla and they rode had back east catching up to the pack train by late afternoon while the others pressed on and awaited their return before entering the jungle proper. Fortunately the pathfinders had a scroll and the shaman Nkechi read it for them and Teyla instantly recovered. Mastuuk and Teyla, on more summoned mounts, caught back up to the others the next day.

The following morning they entered the jungle and searched for the ruins of what they hoped was Tazion. By evening they spotted crumbling towers through the trees, and Mastuuk took to the air in bird form to verify the presence of a sizeable ruins to the northwest. They camped in the jungle some distance from the ruins and approached the next morning.

They found the ruins were encircled by a crumbling wall and had been mostly overtaken by the encroaching jungle. The wall had completely crumbled in spots, and there was a large tar pit on it’s eastern side. Joque spotted a barbed net trap in the first wall opening they approached and disabled it. Creeping cautiously into the ruins they began to explore. On the eastern side they explored a wide ruined tower that they discovered was full of snakes. Why the crumbling tower was filled with snakes was a mystery, but they left it be and headed towards another structure to the west.

They approached the remains of a large building that appeared to once have had three slender towers rising from it. The courtyard entrance was overgrown with a large Boab tree and other trees could be seen growing out of other parts of the ruined builing. All of the towers had crumbled and the the remains of the walls were overgrown with jungle growth. There were large pools of water scattered about that turned out to be tar pits.

Joque tried climbing a wall to the north of the courtyard to see what was on the northern portion of the ruin near one of the towers. He was looking over another courtyard when he spied something watching him from the bushes. He dropped back down and started making plans to get the others over the wall, ignoring the open pathways through the ruin to the southwest. Soon the heads of two monkey men wearing rough hides appeared over the top of the wall and they threw rocks at Joque. The two small monkey men hopped up on the wall and began yelling at them in a guttural polyglot and shrieking calling for their surrender or they would die while threatening them with more rocks. They kept saying that the trespassers were invading the “temple” and that they couldn’t see the priest unless they surrendered their weapons. Soon 4 more of the monkey men appeared in the southern opening of the courtyard and started surrounding them.

A tense standoff proceeded where they monkey men demanded their surrender but the explorers were reluctant to give up their weapons. The monkey men started working up into a frenzy of frustration and started throwing rocks. The group tried to calm them, but the monkey men were soon joined by what appeared to be their leader, Roagru and his giant snake Chuk-To. Roagru entranced Teyla with his gaze while Chuk-To threatened to eat Mastuuk. Roagru called for their surrender or Chuk-To would eat Mastuuk. The group then surrendered their weapons, Mastuuk tried to talk to the priest but Roagru was only interested in capturing them so they could be judge by his god at the “Shedding Pit”. The monkey men then started trying to tie them up, which they resisted. As Drasheen began casting a spell at Roagru, Mastuuk spotted the holy symbol of Ydersius around Roagru’s neck. Drasheens spell started a wild melee in the courtyard which started with the explorers being weaponless! Mastuuk tried to fly away but was caught and crushed to within an inch of his life by the snake. Joque and Zelshee managed to recover some weapons and the monkey men were put down, though it was a close thing and Roagru proved very tough. Teyla and Drasheen were barely able to save Mastuuk from the snake and everyone survived though seriously hurt.

As they paused to catch their breath they began to wonder why a cult of crazed monkey men worshipping the beheaded god of the snake people would be here in Tazion

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

I was able to use my increasing skills to find and disable a pretty dangerous net trap and finally convinced Zellshee to let me use my skills further to help get us into the ruins. One trap, I have found, probably means there are others and I think I helped us stay away from a couple of bad encounters this time. But I felt like an idiot when we got to the entrance to the tower building wall where I started climbing without looking beyond the roots of the Boab tree there. If I had taken a couple of more minutes to scout better we might have been able to meet Roagru, Chuk-To and their monkey men on flat ground. Instead I wound up putting the whole team at a tactical disadvantage from the get go.

I don’t know a whole lot about Ydersius but I am learning to hate him (it?) more every time we make any kind of contact with his minions. I’d bet my gold ear ring (if I still had one) that Chuk-To was left here by Ieana or that she at least spent some time here. I want to check out the “temple” inside the walls we just fought under to see if there is any indication that that scurvy bitch was here before us. So far, I haven’t a particular diety to pray to but if I did I would be praying that before this is all over I can put a blade through her scaly back and into her dark heart for what she did to the captain and crew of the Guenevere, not to mention leaving us on the Shiv as walking meat for the canibals there.

I am still chewing on myself for killing that spirit dancer. I mean, in the fray things like that can happen, but they might have been able to help us with the spirit part of that strange dream Nkechi conjured up. It may have been the key to helping us and me end this with Ieana’s black blood dripping from our blades. I have to be more in control of what I am doing and how much thought I put into it. I almost got killed up on that wall. What was I thinking when I cambered up there? Then again, if Teyla had not had her shield strapped on so she could not get up the wall fast enought we would have had that ugly shaman pinned between two fast blades. Sometimes it just comes down to timing, doesn’t it? Got to slow down a tad, maybe. Then again if I double guess every move I might find myself in the wrong place at the wrong time anyway. Cripes!

Notes from Zelshee Venso

I truly believe I am cursed. The gods have cursed my brain to not think!! Or to think the very opposite of what I should be thinking. I’ve racked my brain trying to come up with when I first noticed this phenomenon. And I believe it must have started when we encountered the evil one. So is my god punishing me for having failed to slay her the first time? Am I cursed with stupidity until I make right that mistake?

I now second and third guess myself. Never really knowing what the right course of action is. If the gods have cursed me themselves, there is no magic available to us that can overcome that. I am screwed!

I shall talk of this to Drasheen. Maybe she can help. Until then, I must pray, A lot!!

From the Journal of Mastuuk Venso

18 Kuthona 4710AR

We have finally reached Tazion but I am somewhat unsure of what is here. We encountered a group of snake worshiping monkeys with a pit of snakes and bad tempers. My capable companions came to my aid as I was the one brought to within an inch of death on this occasion. I should be rattled but I am not and that disturbs me. the question is, why are worshipers of Ydersius so entrenched in Tazion? I suspect Yarzoth has already been here but these clerics have setup an altar and have been around for some time. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence? I do recall legends that Ydersius’ head might be buried in the Expanse…perhaps this group is just searching for that lost relic?

I am excited to be in this ancient place, as dangerous as it is. This is my calling and this will be my great achievement! I hope there are no more of these snake worshipers about…I’d really like to work studying the ruins for some information on our final goal.

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

I am numb, speechless and confused. The more I pray and meditate and try to make sense of all of this and my companions the more confussed I get. Zelshee, Teyla, Joque and Mastuuk are the bravest people I have ever met and feel so close and loyal to all of them, but confussed. I have felt that nothing we could possiblly encounter on the way to Tazion would be even one tenth, no, make that one hundredth of the danger we would face once we got to the ruins. I feel we are all second guessing every move we each make. I feel the evil all around us, al- most like a curse, we have to be careful. Less talk and more action! This place is evil, people! We knew this from the start. We hope to distroy the evil that distroyed so much good and distupted the laws of nature. We are trying to do good! We can’t hold back! Pray…and go on…forget the past…Pray. When evil takes over innocense it then is controlled by evil and we have no choice but to fight back and stop the evil. The innocense has already been lost we are now faced with the evil and it must be stopped. Prayer isthe answer.

Jungle Babes
Joque gets unlucky

Golarion date 28 Neth, 4710 AR

Leaving the area haunted by the shadow demon, the trailblazers proceeded north along the Korir River through the screaming jungle. As winter approached, so did the rains. It rained every day and the mists clung to the trees like spider webs.

They traveled for several days not encountering anything more dangerous than a predatory cat and some giant spiders. They came across an old native tomb that appeared to have been robbed by grave robbers. The gravesite had been looted, but there was a carving of a frog demons face above the burial cairn in the cave. Something large had rolled a massive boulder out of the way, and the remains of a boar whose intestines had appeared to be used for divination was nearby. There was nothing to be found at the robbed tomb.

In a swamp like portion of the jungle they were attacked at night by a swarm of blood haze mosquitos. There were tens of thousands of the blood sucking insects, and they did a lot of damage before Drasheen was able to hold them off with a spell of wind from Gozreh.

One night Joque was lured away from camp while on guard duty by a ringing bell. The bell entranced him and led him into an ambush set by Eloko warriors, small fey like creatures with dark skin, spiked hair and bears, faces painted like leering skulls and with sharpened teeth. The Eloko (or spriggans as Mastuuk knew them) grew to 7 feet tall and attacked. However, Zelshee and Teyla made short work of them after Joque barely escaped their ambush.

As they neared the edge of the forest they came to a bend in the river where they found four naked Mwangi women bathing in the river. Though the women were startled, they were able to befriend them and found out the girls were Zenj Spirit Dancers, women who channeled totem animal spirits through dance. The Spirit Dancers were out here in the jungle communing with nature, and invited the group back to their hut. Their names were Alala, Masozi, Osumare, and Zakiyya. Joque started getting friendly with Zakiyya and she seemed interested. It had been a long time for Joque, so he grew anxious with excitement.

Their hut was a small round one room affair, with a fire pit and table outside. The girls threw a feast of fish, frog legs, and wild rice under the stars. It was a beautiful night with the burbling river nearby and was a very pleasant interlude. Mastuuk and Drasheen noticed that Alala, Masozi, and Osumare seemed distracted and out of it, and Mastuuk even went so far as to cast a discreet detect magic on the three and noticed an enchantment spell on them.

As the evening progressed, the girls explained that they could try to awaken the totem animal spirit of each of the explorers. The ritual would involve tatooing an animal tatoo and performing ritual rites. The group agreed and laid down for their tatooes. The inks of the tatoos made them sick, and Teyla passed out but the rest didn’t and the girls told them they would have to wait till morning to see if the spirit had awakened. The friendly natives took the unconscious Teyla inside to rest it off while they poured wine and danced for the visitors. The dance was entrancing, but Mastuuk and Drasheen noticed Zakiyya slipping into the hut during the dance.

After a relaxing evening, they all retired to sleep in the hut. Zakiyya invited Joque to sleep with her, and he readily agreed. Soon Joque found Zakiyya responded to his overtures and as they embraced and their lips met Joque started feeling drained and compelled to continue the act of love. However, with an extreme force of will Joque managed to resist the temptation and escaped Zakiyya’s grasp, the girl tried to hold him in an iron grip. Joque lurched to his feet and yelled for help as Zakiyya and the others attacked with spells. A mad battle erupted in the hut and Zakiyya seemed impervious to blade and spell until Zelshee called on the might of Irori to smite the evil woman who had tried to drain Joques soul and smote her. As Zakiyya was destroyed she disappeared with a hideous scream into a puff of sulphur and brimstone, at the last showing that she was a demonic succubus in disguise. During the battle Drasheen had tried to awaken Teyla, to no avail, it seemed Teyla had already been completely drained and likely dead. After Zakiyya was destroyed, Masozi was gravely wounded and Joque, in a fit of rage, slit her throat. The other two girls collapsed crying and begged for mercy. Joque moved in for more throat cutting, but was stopped by Drasheen.

The girls explained they were ensorcelled by Zakiyya and could not control their actions. The girls were in fact spirit dancers who had fallen prey to the succubus. They had foolishly accepted Zakiyyas profane gift of increased beauty and charm and were slowly being swayed to worship Zakiyya’s demon lord patron Sifkesh. So far they had resisted totally abandoning their native faith in favor of demon worship. While they were thankful to be freed from the demon’s grasp, they were very upset at their sister Masozi’s murder in a fit of rage by Joque and asked the explorers to leave them at first light.

The ritual the girls had performed earlier had only been to try and poison them with the tatoo ink (only Teyla succumbed). Teyla was found to have been drained to within and inch of her life and only barely survived (Zakiyya had plenty of time to drain the unconscious merc while the others were watching the dance outside). The girls explained that the awakening of the totem spirits was possible, but they were in no mood to reward their saviors with such a gift after the unnecessary death of Masozi.

The group left the grieving natives and continued on.

From the Journal of Mastuuk Venso

28 Neth 4710AR

I knew something was wrong. I knew they were enspelled. I thought it was more of a drug or some spell of communion with their god. And it killed Teyla. The gods above or the world around us must have taken pity because we were able to revive her. I fear this will be our last break and our next casualty will be the last breath for one of us. That doubt is back…that awful twitch in the back of my mind…the invader of dreams..the sanity thief. I shall have to step up my meditation to try and drive away this cloud.

My sister continues to grow in power. Not only did she dispatch the spriggans with ease but smote the foul beast who drained poor Teyla. While her physical prowess increases, I worry that her emotions are as troubled as mine. She seems blinded by a furious white light, determined to rid the world of all that is not good. I wonder what will happen if one of us makes a decision that does not fit her view or perhaps casts a spell of questionable origin. I shudder to think of the repercussions for that person and for Zelshee.

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

My past betrays me. I want to be needed and respected by this strange group of people but I am constantly causing them grief. First, my curiousity led them into a dangerous encounter with those spriggands, then my lust betrayed us all to a she-demond and finally my hot temper led to the death of that poor Masozi girl.

Damn it! I have to get control over these emotions of mine. Thinking back on skippers I have admired I realize that if they had tried to run a crew from their gut instead of from their heads they would have faced mutiny or a quiet trip to the deep. I know that I have it in me to be more rational. My elven father would be ashamed of me and my mother would be aghast at some of the things I have done and let myself get pulled into. I have to find some way to put more thought into things as they are unfolding. I’ve got to think on this and put my thoughts into some kind of new way of acting. Rats!!!!

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

More prayers and more meditation… I almost died, Teyla was dead for several hours and Jocque is slitting throats of young girls and losing all control. Mastuuk is the only one who seems to have everything under control. And yet I am seldom right. I trust him though. Zelshee is getting bolder and stronger and has saved the day on many occasions. I need to sleep and pray that is my job to be ready to help. Its hard not to let the rain and the bad weather not get us down, so I need to step up and try harder. That beautiful wind that Gozreh aided us when I was almost down and out. The erie tricks, spells and demons faces are getting scarrier and it is taking a toll on us. In my last meditation I had I kept feeling “that which is so draining and tougher to fight makes us all stronger”. My prayers and meditations will center on that. And how I can do a better job of helping and being alert.

Notes from Zelshee Venso

What is wrong with me!!? All I had to do was ask my god for a simple favor! Are these beautiful women evil? Simple, I do it all the time. Why didn’t I think to do it this time? She was a DEMON. I should have been able to feel the evil radiating off her. But I didn’t. I feel unworthy to call myself a Paladin. I was so happy to stumble upon goodness and kindness in this terrible place that I let my guard down. How will I ever redeem myself with my adventuring brothers and sisters? Somehow, I must.
I must be diligent. I must be focused. I must be deadly. Evil shall not prevail if I am near.
I feel so very bad for the Masozi girl that Jocque killed. But i do understand why he did it. His killing passion had gone aery, and wasn’t able to stop. I’m so glad he did before all three of the girls died. They will recover from their loss. I’m not so sure we will. Yes, Teyla will be fine eventually, thank the gods. But I’m not so sure we will. This little adventure is truly taking it’s toll on each one of us. I believe it’s the evil that is so prevalent in the area. And that evil will only get worse the closer we get to the witch. And then, it will be better. Because I, with my blade, will deal justice to the evil that surrounds us!

Welcome to the Jungle
Hippos, and Apes, and Demons, oh my!

Golarion date 20 Neth 4710AR

Mastuuk summoned a mount for the blind cleric and they pressed on from the site of the Mzali ambush. The next morning Drasheen prayed for her sight to be returned to her and Gozreh answered, she was no longer blind.

Travelling northeast along the Korir river they caught sight of the jungle on the horizon the next evening. By the following morning they entered the Screaming Jungle, following the course of the river. The monkey inhabitants in the canopy providing a constant chatter (thus the “screaming” part of the jungles name) while the river became more treacherous making it obvious why Amivor insisted that boats were not an option. After a few miles the jungle became dense and travel slowed, though following the river helped to keep them on track and somewhat eased their passage. Late that afternoon they came to a wide and shallow spot in the river where a small herd of Hippopotami were enjoying an afternoon bath. One large bull watched them carefully as they skirted the pool, but the Hippos otherwise took no notice.

A short way past the hippo’s Teyla spotted a three toed and taloned print in the mud by the riverbank. She thought it might be lizard men, but a short search of the area turned up nothing.

While camping that night, Zelshee was on watch and heard something big crashing through the jungle. She woke Mastuuk as the crashing got closer, and woke Drasheen just as she spotted a large bull hippo charging through the brush directly for their camp! Zelshee retreated out of the way of the hippo, Mastuuk cast a spell to let him fly up into the trees, but Drasheen was slow and was trampled by the hippo as it’s maddened charge took it straight through their camp. It even ran through the small fire spraying burning debris everywhere, and Drasheen’s cloadk caught on fire!

On the heels of the hippos came six lizard men who attacked with javelins then their nasty studded clubs. Drasheen was rolling on the ground trying to put out the fire as she was attacked by the lizard folk and gravely wounded, taken out of the fight. Joque tumbled in behind the lizard folk attacking Drasheen and distracted them away from the cleric, saving her. The hippo disappeared up river as battle raged in the jungle and river. Teyla had jumped in the river to put out a fire on her tabard, but was ambushed by a lizard man in the water. Soon four of the lizard men lay dying while two swam off down river to save their lives. Zelshee used her healing power to save Drasheen and they picked up the pieces of their shattered camp.

Over the next five days they progressed slowly along the river through the dense jungle. The only real danger they faced was a group of Gorilla’s watering themselves by the river, but by carefully detouring around them they avoided any trouble, though at the cost of about a half day’s travel.

Towards the end of the fifth day Joque spotted some flashes of color through the brush that seemed to not belong. Investigating they found two dead Red Mantis agents who had been savagely clawed and left rotting near the banks of the river. Looking around they found bark torn from trees, a discarded blade under a bush, and evidence of blood sprayed into the trees. Something quite nasty had savaged these two. Zelshee insisted on burying them in a shallow grave and by the time they continued the day was growing long. As darkness approached they realized the jungle had grown too quiet and there was not a monkey in sight. The evening mists seemed to cling to the jungle as it clawed it’s way towards them and the surrounding jungle took on an ominous tone.

Pressing on as far as possible, suddenly a bestial dire ape leapt from the trees ahead of them and roared a challenge. It charged forward and cast a spell of fear at them! That was not expected… The crazed ape was soon put down, and soon afterwards a horrific shadowy demon like creature made of mist and malice rose from the corpse of the ape. The shadow demon attacked in all it’s fury, casting spells and tearing at them with tooth and claw. It proved immune to most of their attacks and things looked grim. Mastuuk cast a fly spell on Zelshee who pulled the Zenj Spirit Fetish from her pouch and used it on the demon. The power of the fetish sent the shadow demon howling back to they abyss and the jungle grew quiet once again. The group sat down to rest, counting their blessings after such a horrifying encounter with a creature from beyond this world.

From the Journal of Mastuuk Venso

20 Neth 4710AR

We have lost another day and nearly at high cost. Drasheen was put day and nearly did not return. The hippo and lizard men responsible escaped beyond our reach. My hope is that the are weakened enough not to pose further risk to our caravan.

Far more disturbing was the inhabited ape. A powerful spirit controlled him and had it not been for the fetish we were gifted I fear we would not have prevailed. The necromatic power in this place is strong and I’m not sure if it’s due to the Mzali or if their use of death magic is due to am older and more powerful evil inhabiting the screaming jungle. I’ve shied from most necromancy because of the potential for evil; the lure of such power can be difficult to resist. I believe I may need to spend more time flirting with the arts so as to understand them or we may not survive the weeks ahead.

From the Journal of Jocque Tarr

I’d be laughed out of any bar I happened to be in back on the coasts if I took to telling about what has been happening to us this past few weeks, or for that matter, in the past few hours! Worse! I’d be called a liar to my face and wind up having to defend myself for simply telling the truth! Charged by maddened hippos and lizard men in the night! Finding Mantis Reds torn to shreds as if they were rag dolls instead of the legends they are! Being attacked not only by the most hideous ape-like thing I have ever seen but then finding out it was just an overcoat for something even more hideous! Friends flying through the sky or stumbling around with empty eyes! No wonders we heard so many tell us that no one ever found some of the places in this wasteland. If they came in here alone or unprepared they never came back, and that’s a fact Jack! I wonder if I will ever see Kassata Lewynn or any of our old mates again. I would not be suprised at this point to find the elven beauty Chivane, herself, dead among the roots of this place

But how prepared are WE for any of this?!! The more I think about it the more my mind keeps going back to that cave and that strange dream time with the old shayman. We must be under some kind of protection or we would all be dead by now. I remember stories I heard in town … you know, the ones the storytellers tell … the kind were the good guy was meant to confront the bad guy at the end … no matter how many things tried to stop him. I feel like we are in one of those stories now … we are meant to be there to stop the snake woman and whatever she is trying to call from the ruins of this Saventh-Yi. I was the great ape in that dream. I listen closer to the little apes above and around us now. I was the one that noticed their warning … their silence….

I am giving myself the creeps now. I think I will quit this thinking and writing and sharpen this new sword of mine or do anything that will get my mind off of this strangeness…..

Notes of Zelshee Venso

Today I feel invincible! We banished a wicked demon back to the abyss. And I got to fly. Oh – how I envy Mastuuk at times! I think the gods took pity on us this time and showed me the way to enact justice on an a purely evil creature. My prayers are that the same thing will happen when we meet up with snake woman. But, right now, my heart soars! We have banished an evil from this place that has corrupted, haunted and hunted all the goodness out of the land. We have served justice right where justice was needed! All the jungle will be singing again in a few short days. I will sleep well tonight. All is right with the world as we know it – in this time and place.

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

The screaming jungle has been a blessing in one way. The noise has been so deafening I haven’t been able to hear myself think of all the hurt and pain of being blinded then trampled by a hippo and then catching on fire and fighting til all of sudden nothing but silence and darkness. Joque spotted some strange colors in the trees. It turned out to be 2 dead red Mantis agents hanging in the tree. They had been clawed and skinned and left for dead. We buried them and as we were leaving the jungle got quiet and a strange mist came over all of us. We knew this was bad…very bad. The mist suddenly became a huge demon dire ape who couldn’t be hurt and it was using spells. It was horrible but the Gods were with us and Zelshee remembered she had a Zenji Spirit Fedish.
Mastuuk put a fly spell on his sister and she did the demon in. She was great.


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