Serpent's Skull

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!

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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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Into the Wilds
Lost treasures and angry natives

Golarion date 18 Neth 4710AR

As they turned towards the saurian beast rising from the depths, it roared and lunged towards Mastuuk who was sitting in the back of the boat. Zelshee and Teyla pulled bows and started firing at the beast, Drasheen called lightning from the sky, and Mastuuk summoned creatures in the water to attack it. Meanwhile Joque started paddling madly to get away from the unexpected diner (they were obviously dinner).

The Spawn of Aomak was confused by the lightning and the creatures who simply disappeared when killed, when Mastuuk summoned a pack of celestial dolphins to distract it they were able to make it close to shore before the monster caught up to them again. This time Drasheen was ready for it, and a well timed inflict wounds spell convinced the beast to seek it’s meal elsewhere, but not before Teyla was incapacitated from her wounds.

After healing, they returned and found the sunken ship. Joque drank a potion of water breathing and swam down. In the wreck’s hold he found an old iron sea trunk that was permanently bolted to the ship. Picking the old lock, inside he found 10 gold ingots, 3 potions, and an adamantine machete. They took the treasure and returned to the native village where the natives marvelled at the tale of their encounter with the Spawn of the Great Aomak of the Depths.

The next morning they left the lake and followed the Korir river north towards the Screaming Jungle. A day later, as they passed the junction where the Pasuango River flowed into the Korir, they were ambushed by a patrol of Mzali Rangers. The Mzali warriors fired arrows at them from cover, including some very damaging magical arrows at the humans in the group. Appearing on a hill was a Mzali Sorcerer (in a terrifying wooden frog demon mask) who ordered his Troll JuJu Zombie to attack. Drasheen managed to turn the JuJu Zombie and make it flee after a battle of wills with the necromantic sorcerer. They were able to deal with the rangers well enough, though one kept peppering Mastuuk with arrows whenever he tried to cast a spell and the sorceror blinded Drasheen with his magic. The sorceror proved more difficult as he cast a spell and flew up into the trees for cover while pelting them with magical rays and nasty spells delivered by a spectral hand. Zelshee called on her god to smite the evil sorceror, Joque had a well placed arrow, and Drasheens blind healing combined with Mastuuks distractions combined to finally bring down the crazy flying necromancer. Shortly after the big zombie returned, but was easily cut down by Zelshee and Drasheen.

Searching the group, they found severed hands of colonials taken by the sorceror as prizes, a magical spear, an amulet, and his magic mask. They were all alive, but drained, and Drasheen was still blind. All this, and the had only just left the border of Sargava and entered the wilds of the Mwangi expanse… What other surprises awaited deep in the interior of this wild continent?

Notes from Zelshee Venso

I felt so useless waiting on the banks of the lake. But, better to be on the bank and breathing instead of on the bottom and drowning. I don’t swim – period! And I don’t like to swim. And i don’t want to swim – ever! They were able to handle it all themselves. They didn’t really need me.
Truthfully, I never thought Joque was going to find anything. And you know the old saying ‘Never pick up a jeweled box just laying in the road.’ Something that good can only bring bad luck! But i was wrong – happily! I’m a big enough half orc to admit it.
And then we barely get on our way and we’re ambushed by the same Mazali warriors that hung colonials from that tree outside of Kalabutu! Evil, that’s all I can say about them. They had magical arrows, a sorcerer, and a zombie troll! Growing up – WHO CAN TRAIN FOR THIS?? I had no idea people like this even existed. Zombie Trolls??? My nightmares seem to have taken form and now walk among us.
Yes, we prevailed. But at the expense of Drasheen eyesight and everyone was badly hurt. It was not an easy fight. But with each fight or skirmish, we seem to become a better fighting group. It’s good to know we can depend on each other when we really need to. How long has it been since Mastukk and I found these friends? Oh how our lives have changed. but I’m glad for the friendships that have come from all our misfortunes.
I buried the decomposing colonial hands we found. And now we rest here for the night. I think I’ll take first watch. I really don’t want to sleep.

From the Journal of Mastuuk Venso

18 Neth 4710AR

We were nearly put down in our first trek into The Expanse when we met a group of Mzali raiders and a rather powerful sorcerer. We proved stronger by are quite drained and Drasheen is permanently blinded by the encounter. I have recovered a spell book from the sorcerer and what a find it was! I do have some reservations however. The sorcerer was a necromancer and many of the spells are of questionable morality. I need to have a discussion with my sister and seek her guidance on this matter.

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

One thing about this trip, for sure, is that I am going to have bar tales that put others to shame. I remember listening to others’ stories with my mouth hanging open only to realize later that they had probably been making parts of it up. But I won’t have to make anything up! I don’t think I ever saw so many teeth and such big teeth in one mouth. That sea beast in the lake, Aomak, it would make a great white close it’s mouth out of embarassment! And then only to find that the villagers thought this one was not their Aomak but a BABY ONE!!!! Geeze!!!!

And the ‘treasure’, I think it was waiting there just for me. I am debt free for the first time in a long time and have a little gold in my pocket again but more importantly this weapon I found down there is simply amazing to me. Mastuuk says it can cut through about any material in the world and it’s weight and balance are excellent. I wish some of my old ship mates could see it. It is a work of art.

We no more than move a few more miles and bingo! We run right into the guys who left all those undead things in the tree the other side of Kalabuto. Only now, they want to gut us and hang us in a tree! And their leader was a real beaut he was. No wonder he wore a mask! He blinded our cleric, Drasheen, and even had Mastuuk on the run a couple of times. We finally brought him down but what a fight that turned out to be. If this is the edge of the jungle and the beginning of its terrors we are in for a rough time of it and that’s for sure. My mind is always turning back to those ahead of us though and I wouldn’t put it past a couple of the groups out there to have pointed this owl-face and his friends our way. The only thing that puzzled me on that count was that there seemed to be no specific effort to spare Mastuuk. Every one of the groups ahead of us must realize that he is the key that opens the door at the end of this trail unless somebody out there already has the key …. and that would be snake-girl, wouldn’t it???

It isn’t bad enough that we have to fight the jungle and the critters in it we are also fighting forces that are even more dangerous …. in the long run.

From the journal of Drasheen

Holy Sea Serpant…zombies…poison arrows. It has been a very difficult couple of days. I jumped in on the undead thinking this I know how to kill. But when I was blinded by evil flying magician I was stunned abd scared. I could only hear the screams and the fighting. I could only imagine the horrible things happeningto my friends. I need to pray and sleep. My mind is swimming and I don’t swim well.

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Daggers in the Dark
Who's been sleeping in my bed?

Golarion date 12 Neth 4710AR

Cheiton the dwarf had a snug little house just down the street from the Shrunken Head Tavern, still near the river. He only had 3 small guest bedrooms upstairs so the group fought over who gets a bed. In the end the three ladies, Teyla, Drasheen, and Zelshee ended up with the beds. Mastuuk thought to share one with Teyla, but a quickly brandished knife convinced him otherwise and by the time he got back downstairs Joque had claimed the only couch and Mastuuk was resigned to a restless night in a chair.

In the middle of the night the 3 ladies woke to cloaked strangers in their rooms shooting them with poisoned hand crossbows. Zelshee and Teyla succumbed to the paralysis poison, but Drasheen resisted. However, Drasheen was overcome by two of the invaders and all three were tied up and gagged. Mastuuk, tossing and turning in his chair heard a commotion upstairs, woke Joque and they investigated. There were four attackers, and they came after Mastuuk when they saw him, making it clear Mastuuk was their target. Mastuuk managed to flee back downstairs, and Joque used some fancy acrobatics to evade the attackers and free Zelshee from her bonds. Once Zelshee regained her big axe and got her big ass out of bed, things turned bad for the home invaders. Two of them fled, two died, but Zelshee got burned by a magical flaming ward on the front door when she tried to leave to chase one of them

Drasheen became very suspicious of their host, grabbed some rope and threw open the door to Cheiton’s room (he had not made an appearance during the scuffle). She found Cheiton asleep in his bed with a mask over his eyes, earplugs in his ears, and hugging a worn stuffed bear. Drasheen attacked Cheiton in his sleep and with Joque’s help got him tied up. Cheiton was furious and a great uproar brought Zelshee who tried to calm everyone down and she untied Cheiton. Cheiton claimed innocence, but was very angry with Drasheen. When Cheiton searched one of the dead assailants, he found a letter of credit for the Aspis Consortium stores in a hidden pocket in one of their boots. It seemed the Consortium was behind the attack, and Drasheen apologized to Cheiton. They found the leader of the group had a potion of invisibility and a wand of Glyph of Warding with 3 charges left. They dumped the bodies in the river.

Over the next couple of days they arranged the supplies that would be needed by their expedition when it arrived. The supplies were laid up in a rented warehouse, and the group busied themselves preparing for the second leg of their journey to the ruins of Tazion.

A couple of days later the Pathfinder expedition rolled into town. It seemed the expedition had had a rough time of it, and Amivor told them that they had been attacked by an entire tribe of Bandu tribesmen as they camped at the edge of the hills. There were 12 wounded, several dead, and three members of the expedition had been carried off along with some supplies stolen in the raid. Recovering from this attack would set them back a couple days, so the trailblazers pushed on to scout the route into the Screaming Jungle. Joque was anxious to see what might come of the treasure map they had been given claiming lost treasure in the Lake of Vanishing Armies…

Crossing to the north side of the rive at Kalabuto, the group traveled 60 miles east to the Lake of Vanishing Armies. They found the river and lake dotted with small native villages, most of them friendly. Talking with some of the natives about dangers of the lake they were told of the great beast that lurked in it’s depths and occasionally swallowed small fishing boats whole. The locals called the beast Aomak and described him as a titanic saurian monstrosity with an insatiable appetite. Joque tried to puzzle out the location marked on their treasure map, and determined it was on the far eastern shore. If the sunken ship indicated on the map was in the shallows of the east shore, it was likely Aomak would not bother them. They traded a lantern for use of a small rowboat from one of the locals and set out to investigate. After a half day searching using the map as a guide, they spotted what looked like might be a sunken ship in 40 foot deep water. As they peered into the depths a shadow crossed over them, and they turned to see a long necked sharp toothed monster looming over them. The beast was large enough to swallow a halfling whole, could this be Aomak? They pondered this question as the beast roared and attacked.

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

I was right. The Consortium laid a trap for Mastuuk the walking map to what we seek. I was also right about the group’s need for my skills. In the middle of the night I was able to move through them like a shadow, cause confusion and free our real fighters to drive them off. I was also smart enough to search the bodies of the swine who attacked us and left the letter of credit from the Consortium half pulled from the one bastard’s boot pocket so the dwarf could “find” it. It was all too convienent for him to be sleeping with plugs in his ears and a shade over his eyes wasn’t it. His feinged outrage over our accusations was pretty thin gruel if you ask me. Imagine a man with prior adventuring skills sleeping with a teddy bear, Bah, I say. More like a quick way to make a gold piece or two. I bet if I searched his place I’d find another letter of credit stuck away somewhere!

It was sad to hear that the baggage train took so many hits from the Bandu. We should have neve let those two escape to tell the tale. A lesson learned. Now we are back on the trail and have found the Lake of Vanishing Armies and I have talked the group into at least checking out the map the old shaman gave us and they have given me a day. My plan is to make a dive to see if there really is a treasure waiting in the depths. And if there is, to mark it for another dive on the way back. We have the equipment and the spells to give it a shot but what about this monster, Aomak?

Probably just another savage myth…………..what in the seven hells is that??!!!!

The Journal of Mastuuk Venso

12 Neth 4710AR

I was wondering when this would start. It seems the Aspis Consortium were the first to try and capture me. Until now, the others have tried to slow our progress or buy my assistance but now that game has changed and a potent game it is. Luckily I was not quite asleep and heard the commotion as three of our memebers were rendered immobile. Waking Joque, I went upstairs into the four rogues sent to capture me. I ran downstairs figuring I would become invisible before attempting to free my companions. I paused briefly by the door and in a moment of weakness, thought about running. Luckily I’m more loyal than that as the door was warded.

I blasted two of the rogues with a colorspray then made myself invisible and snuck back upstairs to release Teyla. Jogue was able to free my sister who removed a few heads; nearly that of our host as well, a fool but not a traitor.

I was able to obtain a few scrolls to expand my spellbook. I really should work on that backup book once I get some funds for materials. Speaking of which, we’re taking an afternoon to search for the treasure alluded to on that map we received. I plan on putting it to good use if we can manage to avoid the beast which lurks below.

From the Journal of DDrasheen Rettig

Once again I question my faith and my resolve. I did, I truely did want to hurt, I mean rally hurt Cheiton!! Who does he think we are that we should beleive that he was asleep. I’ve use earplugs before and they are not that great. Well Mastuuk has a way of making the best of bad situation. Can you imagine having Mastuuk and his sister mad at you…Cheiton will not give us anymore greif. And if he tries I will take pleasure in setting him straight. I have taken a breath and calmed down. Oh no our poor expedidtion really got beat up. We should never have let those 2 tribesmen get away. Now on to an adventure true and simple, good and evil. A seaserpant guarding a treasure…sounds good to me. Oh I do need prayer saving the world from evil getting to the ruins of Tazion must be my first priority before treasure hunting.

View
To Kalabuto
Dragons, vultures, and undead oh my!

Golarion Date 8 Neth 4710AR

Pressing on towards Kalabuto, the party dealt with a wandering dinosaur in the night (it passed them by) and a flock of hungry vultures (including two giant ones that didn’t have the patience to wait for them to die and tried to help them along).

As they approached Kalabuto, they came across a gallows tree left by some hostile Mzali raiders. The dead tree was filled with colonial corpses hanging by the neck with more fallen to the ground below. Zelshee was lured to the tree by a female voice calling for help that ended up being an undead beast called a Tuyewera that stalks the night and eats the tongues of it’s victims. The Tuyewera used the stolen voice of one of the victims on the gallows tree to lure Zelshee close where it tried to steal her breath, nearly suffocating her. Zelshee resisted, but a dangerous battle ensued as the corpses around the tree stirred to life and thousands of Mwangi Botflies swarmed from the mouths of the corpses and tried to devour the adventurers. By flame, hammer, axe, and sword they defeated the monsters at the gallows tree and survived to approach the city of Kalabuto.

Entering Kalabuto the group was approached by a 10 year old native girl named Kibi. Kibi offered her services as a guide in the city and sold them some small carved wooden charms to ward off evil spirits. They asked Kibi to take them to the Shrunken Head Tavern. On the way along the boardwalk by the river Joque spotted a large boat flying the colors of Kassata Lewynn tied up to a pier. It appeared the boat was tied up for a long stay, and was mostly empty. Apparently at least the pirate faction was ahead of them!

Making it to the Shrunken Head tavern, they found their contact Cheiton, but Kibi disappeared before they could introduce her. They chatted about their journey while Cheiton bought them food and drinks, then Cheiton suggested they retire to his home to discuss detailed planning “away from prying ears.” Cheiton led them to his small 4 bedroom house not far from the tavern where they began discussing what they needed to resupply in town…

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

I’ve seen my share of sea monsters and heard of many another encounter with them but there was always that separation between sea and air. They might try to crawl aboard but they were always going to finally have to return to the deep. When I finally realized that I had walked to within a few feet of a 40 foot long lizard in the brush I think the thing that got me the most was the realization that there was nothing between us but dirt! I almost backed up into the camp fire. I guess it was afraid of the light or something. It prowed around the camp a little then went off in the night. Teyla said it was a dinosaur. I sure hope we don’t run into any more of those things. I think I will try to get the others to buy some alchemist’s fire to take along after we leave Kalabuto.

Kalabuto, what a place! Everything seems to be built on the ruins of some ancient city below the current Kalabuto. The upper edges and infrastructure of the ruins are everywhere to be seen. And the whole town is like a shoreside tavern. Everywhere you look there are strange kinds of men and animals. Everyone, including this Cheiton and even the little ones like this Kibi girl are working the fringes. Best keep your purses tight in a place like this. I wonder what traps Kasatta and the Mantis have laid for us here. Kibi might be one of them, come to think of it, and I bet there are others. As soon as we get a place to stay we had better be on our toes. If I was Kassata I’d make sure that an outraged parent would show up in the next day or so telling everyone that one of us has raped their daughter or stolen their pet pig….or some other crap to tie us up or get us killed. And the Mantis…I wouldn’t put it past them to introduce a snake or scorpion or spider into a room or two….probably Teyla’s to cripple us or Drasheen’s to weaken our defenses or both.

Geeze! I knew there was a good reason not to keep a log of my thoughts. All I do is creep myself out and ruin my sleep. I need a drink! But I better not have a second! Geeze!!! I was looking forward to sleeping in a bed again and getting out of the jungle for a while now I feel less safe than when we were sleeping around a camp fire together. I really need that drink and some bug repellant!!!!!

The Journal of Mastuuk Venso

8 Neth 4710AR

We have arrived at Kalabuto and located our Dwarf contact whose has put us up for the night. It seems the Mzali have been busy in the area defiling the locals and the region. This could be a bit of a problem, hopefully we won’t run into them again but I suspect we likely will. I’ll need to prepare some necromatic spells just in case. I wonder if there are any proper wizards in this city?

In addition to Cheiton, we’ve also employed a local girl, Kibi. My plan is to send her on errands to distract any onlookers from our real activities in the city. We’re relaxing a bit after the long journey but soon we will talk with Cheiton about the next stage of our journey.

The pirate faction has been through the city as well, and quite some time ago based on the condition of their ship. I’m unsure if other factions have moved through town but we should gather some intelligence while we are here. I’m also debating our departure date; should we wait for our caravan so we can speak with them or should we start moving out as soon as possible. Perhaps the Dwarf will have some advice.

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

We finally met our contact in Kalabutu. He is dwarf named Cheiton. We are actually going to sleep in a bed tonight and I am looking forward to it. As I pray tonight I thanks the stars for our survival one more time. I never saw a gallows tree! And it was turely a tree of death. Seeing all those dead corps coming to life to try and kill us was soooo creepy. The night mares I will have forever over this journey…! I must trry to sleep and pray and pray.

Notes by Zelshee Venso

Hideous-er and Hideous-er!! Is that even a word? I don’t care! It describes, perfectly, the monsters we’ve encountered on this journey! I always thought dinosaurs were just a myth. Just something to tell the young ones when they needed a good scare. But no, one was stalking us. And normal vultures circling overhead is bad enough – BUT GIANT ONES?! And giant ones that decided to help speed up our demise?! Just wrong.
But the worse thing of all – an undead creature with a tongue 2 feet long! It almost had me. So close to death yet again. But, we prevailed.
On to Kalabutu….

View
Stalking the Savannah
Lions, and roosters, and bear-apes, oh my!

Golarion date: 27 Lamashan 4710AR

Continuing their journey the group followed the old caravan routes east across the wide open savannah skirting the northern edge of the Laughing Jungle. They were attacked by four lionesses and nearly became feline lunch. Spotting a huge male watching them from the distance, they decided to skip out of the hunting grounds as quickly as possible.

That night they came upon a merchant caravan that was traveling the opposite direction. It was run by a slimy Garundi man named Rickets. Zelshee and Drasheen participated in some cock fighting that night, and wagered a few coins, while Jocque was extremely paranoid and missed out on all the fun.

A couple days later they came upon a friendly Zenj village. The locals invited the strangers into their village and threw a feast with festivities while trading with the newcomers. The tribe’s shaman came to them that night, startling Mastuuk when she suddenly appeared and asked them if they could lift the curse that was plaguing the village. The shaman told them how a demonic ape had been raiding the village over the last couple weeks and carrying off villagers. She asked if they could help deal with this beast, as all the shaman’s attempts had failed. They agreed and the shaman smeared their hut with blood and left. That night a vicious half bear half ape burst into the hut and attacked them, it’s mate waiting outside. When Jocque fled outside the mate grabbed him and tried to flee into the jungle with it’s prize, but a timely glitterdust spell by Mastuuk blinded it, slowing it enough to be brought down before Jocque could be carried off to a grisly fate. The shaman gave them a shrunken monkey head she said was a spirit fetish and a treasure map showing the location of a sunken ship supposedly carrying gold bars as reward.

Leaving the friendly Zenj village they continued east towards Kalbuto. In one area of the savannah they came across a wide area of ground marred by dug up mounds and ridges of dirt. Mastuuk identified the mounds and ridges as the work of Anhkegs, giant burrowing predatory insect like creatures. It would take quite some time to detour around the Ankheg hunting grounds, so the conjurer Mastuuk summoned a horse and sent it off into the area to draw the Ankheg’s out. The plan worked well and they were able to clear the monsters from the path of the Pathfdinder expedition and proceed towards Kalabuto and their ultimate goal of the lost city of Savinth-Yhi.

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

I was feeling so confident that I overplayed things. I am not a figher! I should spend a little more time behind them! What was I thinking?! Giant apes! Giant bugs! Sheesh!

But my time will come. The crew I have fallen in with are a strange lot….that’s for sure…two halforcs, a cleric, and a mercenary…but they are resourceful, tough and flexible. And, maybe more importantly, ready to trust each other and respect each other’s talents. I’ve always been kind of on the outside, always having to watch my back and always the brunt of some trash talk or predjudice but not here. They’ve come to accept me and to rely on me and what I can do, and they tried their best to help me when I was twisted and maimed by that curse. More often than I can count already, one or more of them have come to my aid when I was in dire trouble or hurt badly. As I look around the camp at them or listen to them joking or poking fun at each other I get a strange feeling in my throat. They are the closest I have ever come to a having a family or real friends. My time will come and they will be proud of me and glad that they have me with them.

As I record these thoughts I am suprised by them. I am also suprised at what we have accomplished with regard to the baggage train following us. We have not only cleared their path of threats like the lionesses and the Anhkegs but steered them away from some dangers like that beconning mine shaft and we have left at least one village of people behind who will welcome those following us as friends of ours when they arrive.

One last thought….if the old woman’s map is correct….a ship full of gold waits at the bottom of a lake up ahead of us. Kassata Lewynn and “the boys” would have an orgasm or two if they knew about that…….Haaarr…Ha…Ha…Haaarrrr!

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

As I pray tonight I am surprised by all that has happened to us and how we keep going…

We came upon a caravan, while very distrusting at the moment we arrived, no one else seemed to be that worried and Mastuuk asked if we could camp with them and we did willingly and seemingly with no fear. I put up a good front and acted as if everything was just fine with me. But that evening when we heard all the noise of groans and laughter, Mastuuk and I went to check it out. Jocque showed his first signs of mistrust he didn’t want to have anything to do with going thru and in the back of the camp, thinking trap I’m sure! So was I but Mastuuk seems to always want to find out what’s going on. The more I thought of it, I was thinking we could scout them out and see what strong holds they may have and where the young strong fighting types may be gathered. When it turned out to be a cock fight I thought I might join in just to see what’s really going on but it seemed to me just a cock fight. We said good night and all was well.

When we came upon a Zenj village and they asked us to help them. An evil Ape had been raiding their village and killing them. Everyone in “My” group stepped up and eagerly said yes!!!
My prayer for the conversion of their souls is working. I will end here in hopes I will not have nightmares of being dragged off and eaten by huge, hungry, vicious lions. No I will pray and be grateful til I wake tomorrow.

The Journal of Mastuuk Venso

27 Lamashan 4710AR

We are finally working together as a team. These last days have brightened my outlook on this whole expedition. While those lions gave us some trouble, we survived and prospered. A mostly friendly expedition should meet up with our main force in a couple of days; hopefully they will be able to trade some more information about the road ahead. And the village…they were friendly enough but after we saved them from an awful fate I feel we will always be welcomed as friends. During the battle with the apes I was again forced to cast on a companion but this time they all seemed to understand the reason. Jocque was not angry and the others jumped on the opportunity I gave them. Only a day later, we successfully cleared out another threat with ease! There is hope for us still!

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First Steps
Thru the Bandu Hills

Golarion date 19 Lamashan 4710AR

The group returned to Eleder with Nkechi. Nkechi was recognized by the local natives and several took to following them through the streets, apparently he had a good reputation with the locals.

Returning to the warehouse, expedition leader Amivor Glaur was very happy to see Nkechi. The group proceeded to help with finalizing preparations, except for Mastuuk who scribed scrolls.

Pathfinder Delve Captain Finze Bellaugh challenged the Sargavan government’s lockdown of the gates to caravans under the South Arcadian Charter, a series of laws that protect mercantile interests in Sargava. The governments maneuver caused delays but eventually they had to give in to the letter of the law and allow the expedition to proceed. However, the delays had set back the Pathfinders as the other expeditions all seemed to have gotten underway first. The race for Tazion was on, and the Pathfinders were off to a slow start.

The group brought along a pack mule named Betsy. Juan took a liking to Betsy, perhaps she reminded him of his mother?

The party set out a couple days ahead of the main expedition and made their way to the foothills of the Bandu Hills. One night Juan saw what looked like a rooster wandering into camp, but Mastuuk realized it was a cockatrice (perhaps the vicious chicken of Bristol)! Mastuuk was viciously attacked by the petrifying monster, but Zelshee put it down with her big axe. Perhaps Zelshee should take a chicken as heraldry?

While studying the maps of the area where they were trailblazing, Teyla noticed a mine marked nearby with a line connecting it to the plains on the other side of the hill. She speculated that if there was passage through the mine to the far side of the hills it might be a shortcut that would save the expedition a day. After much deliberation it was decided to not risk the mines. Zelshee was rather insistent that the mines were likely too dangerous. Perhaps the chicken heraldry was appropriate? The Tale of Sir Zelshee

Skipping the mine and pressing ahead, Teyla missed the turnoff from the trail north that would lead them to the pass out of the hills and to the plains. Doubling back, they found it, but lost some time. In the pass they were attacked by green painted fierce Bandu tribesman who rolled boulders down on them for an adventurer pancake lunch (they were apparently cannibals!). Four of the tribesmen were killed but the other two ran off.

The group pressed on and came out of the hills onto the savannah beyond.

Form the Journal of Jocque Tarr

I never told anyone about my father and the fact that he may have come from the Ekujae people of the Expanse. It was a long shot asking the half-wild Nkechi if he could release me from my curse but it worked! Maybe there is more of my father in me than I thought. What a blessed feeling to be able to handle things the way I used to and to walk without the gnawing hunger in my guts! I tried to thank the shayman, even asked if there were some way to show thanks to his dieties but all he did was abuse me. He says I am not of his people and that I will never be accepted by him or by the natives because I am not one of them but I think it may have been my blood that made the cure work. And maybe it is my blood that is calling me to keep on with my efforts to find a way to voice my thanks to the powers that worked for me. I WILL find a way.

As my strength and agility set back in I sensed a change in me. Before, I was loath to go into the Expanse. Now I feel drawn to it. What else will I find here? Who else?

And another thing. I guess it was pressing on despite my twisted hands and feet. As the cure took root, I found that I could do all the things I was able to do before the curse….but just a little better. It’s as if the curse forced me to try just a little harder and with its effects gone it is as if chains and weights have falled off of my arms and legs! I have taken a couple of practice tumbles and amazed even myself. Same is true with my other abilties. I got my card deck out again and have been practicing for the first time in years. I think I might play Mastuuk or Drasheen for some of the gold I owe them….. Well maybe not. That would be wrong…..Fun, but wrong.

I haven’t been this happy in …. well, forever!

The Journal of Mastuuk Venso

19 Lamashan 4710AR

We’ve finally gotten underway and none too soon; it seems we’re the last group to leave. Our first days have not been uneventfull either. My sister saved me from the dreaded cockatrice of Bristol which could have easily petrified me. We also encountered some natives who rather insisted that we cross over to the afterlife. Luckily, we didn’t speak their language and were unable to comply. After personally wetting herself at the battle of the Bandu Hills, Zelshee decided we shouldn’t take a shortcut through the hills which Teyla suggested and I fully supported…fireballs are much more effective in close quarters than they are in the open. I do hope things quiet down before we reach our next destination. Unfortunately, I don’t think they will as the savannah has a reputation for brutality.

Notes from Zelshee Venso

It didn’t take long for the dangers of the trip to present themselves! A petrifying chicken attacked the group. Then a tribe of Bandu hillsman thought they could send us running. But we stuck together and together we defeated them. With only a few bumps and bruises that are easily mended. What might take more time to mend is the consequences of the inconsistencies of the group.
Great care in planning was taken for the trek of this journey. And it seems more than a little reckless to change course at the last minute because Teyla (who has never been in this part of the world) sees an underground mine tunnel and wants to follow it!! Call me ‘yellow’. Call me a ‘chicken’. But we have a plan, shouldn’t we stick to it. Haven’t we gotten ourselves in more trouble when we just ‘wing it’? Amivor gave us a map, told us which way to go. Trailing us is the caravan. Wouldn’t it make sense that if Amivor, the professional, wanted us to go through a tunnel that was labeled on a map that he gave us – HE WOULD HAVE TOLD US ABOUT IT!!!???__
Is Teyla here to help us or hinder us? She pointed out the tunnel. Got my gullible, obviously easily manipulated, brother to side with her. Time to keep an eye on her again. Her loyalties might be split right now.

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

I’m pretty sure the entire city of Eleder has gotton a several day head start over us.
I loved the three challanges of Nkechi. In my mind it was reinforcement that the gods favor us. I was so encourged by this that when the petrifying chichen attacked us, I knew we would over come. And when the cannibals rolled those huge boulders down on us and threw their lances on us I knew we would survive. The gods have protected us at every turn all we have to do is fight with all our hearts and beleive, to be worthy.
I thought the gods were guiding us when Teyla found the hidden tunnel and that we should take it. I will pray for the conversion of Zelshee to put her mind at ease. I will pray for all of us. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

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Tests of Wind and Wave
Oyster beds and storm wracked spires

Golarion date 14 Lamashan 4710 AR

Leaving the city the group passed through the Zenj slums outside the city walls where the locals lived in poverty, then through the pineapple fields to the expanse beyond. Traveling two days north they saw the beauty of the Mwangi wilderness.

On the morning of the third day at low tide they waded through the rocks in ankle deep water washing up against the sea cliffs. The crashing waves knocked Teyla off her feet and she nearly washed out to sea as they were attacked by two giant crabs looking for breakfast. They killed the crabs and drug one up to the cliff face dotted with sea caves up ahead. Finding a conch shell on a chain, they blew it and a very old Mwangi man with only one good eye and wearing nothing but a loincloth appeared on a ledge 200 feet above them. Nkechi berated them and yelled at them to leave. Zelshee offered him the dead crab and Nkechi was outraged that they had killed Togo and demanded to know where Pogo was! Oops.

It took some convincing but eventually Nkechi agreed to have them come up to his cave and hear them out. The climb was arduous and the route was sprinkled with traps that Nkechi pointed out. They explained their purpose to the old shaman, and he pondered their request. He said he would only consider helping them if Shimye-Magalla approved. They would have to pass two simple tests, the test of water and the test of wind.

They chose the test of water first. Nkechi told them they had to retrieve a black pearl from the oyster beds near the crags to the north. They traveled half a day to the location and found a native village. The natives pointed out the way to the oyster beds and gave some tips. Juan took some rope and went oyster diving with the help of Drasheen’s ring of swimming. Finding a black pearl was difficult, but he found one. He also found a Kelpy living in the coral reef, and managed to resist her captivating song which would have charmed him to a watery death. Fleeing the Kelpy she chased him but failed to grab him. As they raced for the beach, a spell from Mastuuk that blinded the Kelpy convinced her to retreat. They had the pearl and returned to Nkechi.

Now was time for the test of wind. Nkechi told them they needed to recover a complete feather from a stormbird. One named Chirok lived atop a towering granite spire at the tip of the peninsula a days walk to the northeast. As they set out the weather worsened and it was storming by the time they reached the spire. Waiting till morning, the storm showed no sign of abating and time was running out because Nkechi had given them only two days. Juan and Teyla climbed the spire in the howling storm and found an 8 foot nest with four eggs. Seeing the eggs panicked them and the quickly searched the nest and found a feather. However, as they started back down Chirok returned, her feathers and eyes glowing in the storm and she fell into a rage as she saw her eggs threatened. Juan and Teyla tried to climb down as the storm bird attacked, but Juan fell. Mastuuk caught him with a feather fall spell. Teyla was attacked by the bird and fell a few moments later. Mastuuk also caught her with a feather fall spell. As they left the spire they were confronted by a war party of Ijo tribesmen who were unhappy someone had bothered the holy bird. The tribesmen sent a scout to verify Chirok had not been harmed, but they challenged the group to a trial of combat to punish them for violating their holy site. Zelshee was chosen as the champion and wrestled their leader. The match was spectacular, but eventually Zelshee managed to pin the Ijo warrior and win. The Ijo gave them gifts of their native jewelry in honor of their victory and allowed them to leave and return to Nkechi.

Nkechi was surprised they had succeeded again and had them come up to his cave again. Here he prepared a bowl of burning herbs and made them all sit cross legged around it. He then took some red substance and drew mystic symbols on their faces while chanting. Finally he gave them a piece of root to chew on and told them to close their eyes as his chanting continued.

Soon they found themselves leaving their bodies and floating through the heavens in various animal forms. Nkechi, as a giant crab, led them on a trippy flight miles above the Mwangi expanse as they floated along amongst the stars. Below they saw five masses crawling along the ground towards the Mwangi interior. Occasionally the masses seemed to meet and fight each other. Flying over a dense jungle they saw the trees part to reveal a sprawling city of white spires and neatly laid out concentric streets. However, an inky darkness appeared in the middle of the city and spread out flowing along the streets as storm clouds gathered on the horizon. As they examined the city far below the lights of the stars coalesced into a large serpent with green scales. On the throat of the serpent the scales formed a pattern that resembled the pattern seen on the holy symbol Yarzoth wore in the Temple of Zura on the Shiv. The serpent attacked but was detroyed. When killed the serpent was decapitated and the headless body thrashed about violently. All went black and they all woke up back in Nkechi’s cave, exhausted.

Nkechi said he now insisted he accompany the expedition, the gods had spoken and Shimye-Magalla had indicated that something bad was going to happen in the Mwangi jungles and he needed to be there to oppose it.

The next day they set out for Eleder with the old Mwangi shaman in tow.

Note from Zelshee Venso

What I thought to be a waste of time traveling to meet with Nkechi, turned out to be very enlightening! He’s much what I expected – old, a little crazy on the surface but, there seems to be a great power behind the crusty exterior. And we’re going to need that!
The two tests he sent us on were very telling. The first, the water test. Nkechi had to know that there was a kelpy living there. And I’m certain he sized us up and knew just which one of us was going for the swim. And I’m certain he knew that the swimmer alone would not be a match for the kelpy. Yes, a test for all of us.
The second test, the test of air. I don’t think any of us knew what a Stormbird was ORRR that it was a scared bird to the local tribesmen. Nkechi knew this. Again, I’m certain of it. Each one a test of courage, stealth, cunning, quick thinking and it the case of the tribesman – tongue holding! I’m relieved we pasted them all. So the last test – luck. Passed that too.
I have great faith that our vision we all experienced in his cave, will be fulfilled! I look forward to the day when Ieana’s head is separated from the rest of her body! That day will come.
I am fearful that our next great test will be political with the government of Sargava. And just getting our little troop out of town is not going to be easy.

The Journal of Mastuuk Venso

14 Lamashan, 4710 AR

This week has aroused my adventuring spirit and calmned my nerves. I’ve realized that our previous difficulties, while salient, are not indicative of a lack of ability. Working together we have shown ourselves to be a power force capable of defending ourselves. While I still don’t have complete faith in some of our party’s abilities and drive, particularly Teyla, I’m somewhat less concerned for our ultimate survival. More importantly, I’ve seen the real rewards of adventure and realize I can’t hope to make my mark on this world without spending time in the wilderness.

We’ve received a great boon this week. A powerful Mwangi mystic has agreed to accompany us and how shown us a glimpse our our future travels. This should take care of our porters’ concerns and provide our main expedition force with additional protections. Also, having another god on your side can’t be a bad thing.

My attentions turn back to preparations for our journey. While we’ll be a couple of days away from the main expedition and their ample food supplies I realize how long we’ll be out of contact with civilization. Much like the Shiv, we’ll need to be completely self sufficient but this time we can choose what to take. I plan to increase my redundant magic sources so that we are not caught with only swords to defend us. I must create some scrolls for use on the trip and I would like to create a backup spellbook but I’m unsure if we have the resources for that right now. Perhaps a partial backup lock, warded, and stored with the main expedition would be prudent. I will have to look into this.

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Freeman Brotherhood
The Peasants are Revolting

Golarion date: 4 Lamashan, 4710AR

Over the next several days the heroes helped organize the expedition. The Pathfinders had rented a warehouse in Portside which acted as the central HQ for the expedition preparations. Drasheen helped Gelik and Amivor with hiring personnel. Zelshee and Teyla provided manual labor, moving supplies and organizing them. Juan was hidden in a back room (because of his cursed condition) and did inventories of supplies, while Mastuuk handled manifests and accounting.

One morning, while heading towards the warehouse for the days work, they heard shouts in the streets followed by a panicked mob running past them shouting something about “freeman”. On the heels of the fleeing mob came a pack of rabid dogs that had been let loose into the streets by a terrorist organization of local Mwangi natives who called themselves the Freemans Brotherhood. The Freeman resented the colonial occupation and slavery and plotted the overthrow of the government of Sargava and murder of all foreigners in order to reclaim what they felt rightfully belonged to the Mwangi natives.

After putting down the rabid dogs, the heroes spotted smoke coming from the direction of their warehouse. Rushing to the site, they found two Mwangi’s trying to torch the front of the warehouse, part of which was already in flames. Zelshee yelled for them to stop, but they turned and attacked with club and alchemist fire. Mastuuk caught Juan and Teyla in a rain of stone during the battle, and Teyla had sharp words for him afterwards.

After defeating the terrorists they did what they could to put out the fire at the warehouse, saving some of it, but there was significant damage. Several of the native Zenj tribesmen who had been hired for the expedition had been killed during the attack. Searching the attackers, they found a medallion in a pocket of one bearing an image of a snake. Teyla identified it as a symbol of the Aspis Consortium.

After the fire was under control, one of the native workers that survived the warehouse attack rushed up to Zelshee and started babbling in polyglot. Mastuuk translated that she was saying some of the attackers had taken Gelik captive. Soon afterwards the heroes heard that the Freeman had taken over the South Arcadian Whaling Company compound in New Haliad and that their leader Umargo was issuing his demands for the overthrow of the government to all that would listen.

Rushing to the Whaling Company site, they found a crowd gathered in the streets listening to the demands being shouted by Umargo, an ex gladiator, from the rooftop of the flensing house 30 feet above. He held a beaten and tied up Gelik with a knife to the throat while riling up the crowd of natives in the streets below with inflammatory rhetoric about rising up against the oppressors and tyrants who had enslaved their people.

Mastuuk made Juan invisible and provided a distraction with illusions of a squad of soldiers in the street on the opposite side of the crowd. Zelshee tried to push her way through the agitated mob, but was dragged down by 3 beefy locals and began to get pummeled by them. Mastuuk cast a color spray on the crowd, which stunned Zelshee too. It seemed Mastuuk was going to make a habit of affecting his comrades with his spells. Mastuuk was then grappled by a few of the crowd who had evaded his spell, Drasheen and Teyla came to his rescue. Teyla then intimidated the crowd with threats of bloody violence which gave them a few precious moments of respite.

Meanwhile Juan invisibly made his way to the flensing house and climbed up a corner of the building. As he tried to sneak up on Umargo, Umargo noticed something amiss and swiveled towards Juan. Juan growled “release the gnome”, perhaps trying to intimidate Umargo. Umargo respnded by cutting Gelik’s throat, dropping him and sending him rolling down the slope of the roof with a push from his foot. Juan then tried to sneak attack Umargo, but Umargo’s barbarian sixth sense allowed him to avoid the critical damage as Juan appeared in front him. Umargo then put on a demonstration of prowess as he whipped his dual kukri’s around in a dazzling display, riling up some of the crowd and intimidating Juan and Mastuuk (who had approached the building).

As Gelik rolled off the edge of the building, Mastuuk cast a feather fall spell to save him from the fall. Juan was mercilessly attacked by Umargo and had to flee by leaping off the building. Umargo didn’t hesitate as he also lept off the building on top of Juan and cut him down in the street below. In the fight that followed, Umargo proved himself to be a dangerous opponent as he slew Zelshee with a couple of well placed blows with his flashing blades. Umargo also cut down Teyla before being finally defeated with only Mastuuk and Drasheen standing.

Searching Umargo, they found another snake medallion in his pocket and took his amulet and weapons. Retreating from the scene with the slain half orc paladin in tow, they raised Zelshee from the dead with the scroll of raise dead found on the Shiv. They also used the scroll of restoration found in the stash in the Temple of Zura to help restore her from the ordeal of death. Zelshee was alive, but not feeling terribly well. Returning later to the Whaling Company, they found it surrounded by guards who told them the remaining terrorists were holed up inside. They heroes decided to leave the last terrorists for the guardsmen to deal with.

Zelshee had a restoration cast on he by the high priest at Aroden’s temple, selling Umargo’s magic kukri to pay for it. Picking up the pieces from the attack, Amivor told them the damage done had set them back at least a week in preparations. Also, the native tribesmen who had been hired for the expedition had taken the attack as a bad omen and a sign that the expedition was cursed. Amivor was worried they would defect and suggested a plan to deal with the issue. He knew of a local shaman, Nkechi, who worshiped Shimye-Magalla (a local Amalgam of Desna and Gozreh worshiped by the natives as a god of the sea). Amivor thought if they could get the holy man to act as a guide for the main expedition and spiritual adviser for the natives, his participation would show the natives that the expedition was blessed by the gods and calm their fears. He told them that Nkechi lived in a cave high up on some sea cliffs north of town a few days away.

The heroes agreed to try and recruit Nkechi to their cause. Amivor supplied them with some material to be used as possible bribes (money, beads, blankets, whiskey, etc). The group set out on foot towards the sea caves. As they left the city they found the Sargavan government had set some new policies regarding usage of the city gates for commercial purposes which required complicated paperwork to be approved prior to passage from the city. It seemed that the Aspis Consortium was not the only faction who was scheming to delay their competitors…

Journal of Jocque Tarr

Ah, taking inventories in the darkest corner of a stinking wharehouse that’s the life for me!!!

But then, a bit of excitement….well, maybe a bit more than I would have hoped for. I figured we were going to lose a lot of gear and maybe some mates in the jungle. How was I to know we would lose all of that before we could get out of town?!!! Geeze!!!! And now we are stuck here for another week or more while the others move out ahead of us. When we finally get where we are going the Mantis and my old crew and probably the corporation guys will have already set up a new boom town for us!!!!

I think this curse is even worse than I thought it was. I should have been able to sneak up behind that stinking barbarian picked his pockets, slit his boot straps and given him a little kiss on the cheek before he knew I was there…but, oh no, he noticed me when I was still 20 feet away from him. Then he cuts the gnome’s throat and drops him over the side without a single thought. It would have been his last thought if I could have buried my short sword in his back but he even evaded that!! Then he had to do some kind of sword dance just to make me feel a little worse. You’d think he would have either been terrified by what I looked like when I became visible or burst into laughter but oh no he had do do his little dance and then stick me with those curved steak knives of his. I’m glad he is dead but I wish it could have been me that killed his arse. He took Zelshee with him too.

I didn’t know you could raise a dead person back to life but they read that scroll they found on the Shiv and Zelshee’s corpse arched its back and sucked in a lot of air and there she was again! It gives me hope that I can be cured but it also shook this sailor’s timbers to actually be there when it happened. What are we messing with here? What strange ports we have washed up in.

I wish this pain and hunger would leave me. I dream of being well again and back above deck with the wind in my face and clear skies and warm seas. I also dream of burying my blade in the back of that murderous snake bitch Ieana but half the time she turns her snake face toward me and laughs before she strikes back at me. My dreams are telling me to return to the sea and life but they are also telling me that I cannot do that until I at least try to pay that evil sorceress back for what she did to my crew and my captain……………….

Notes from Zelshee Venso

I survived being shipwrecked on the Shiv and ALL that entailed just be sliced down by some sword dancing Mwangi terrorist that we don’t even have a beef with! All we were trying to do was to stop them from burning our supplies and killing a friend. Why is the world so full of hate and evil? I really need to ponder this and what I can do to change things. We gave this Umargo a chance to walk away. Instead he was give the ultimate in justice – but not by me. He seemed to be goading us into killing him. I don’t see how that helps his cause or his people. Maybe the Mwangi natives have a legitimate reason to revolt. But this just isn’t the way to go about it. We’ve been sent out of town for close to a week. I will not be able to look into this concern until I return. Perhaps not even then. What if the Colonials are the true unjust ones? They seem to take full advantage of the natives. There was nothing but corruption when it came to framing Jask. And they are now changing laws to benefit them when it come to this expedition. What other evils lurk in this government?

DEATH – I have come close other times. But this time I truly died. I think back to other times and I realize I am over confident in my abilities. I an use to fighting my own battles – although back home they were not life or death. And now it seems they are! I think I can just waltz in with my Great Ax and slice everything down. NOT SO! We are going about things the wrong way. We should not be just charging ahead with out careful thought of the outcome. We stormed right into the cannibals’ camp and that didn’t go so well. We charged right into this mob of rioting Mwangi – really bad idea! Were never going to make to this Savinth-Yhi and back again without a serious conversation about tactics!
Thing to discuss with group
– Working together in a fight (communication)
– Mastuuk’s desire to deplete our health himself
– In regard to this Shaman – We should have a plan not just the usual (blunder in and hope for the best).

The Journal of Mastuuk Venso

3 Lamashan, 4710 AR

Now I’m really unsure if this was the right decision. I knew this adventure could be dangerous for me but now my sister has died. Lucky we had access to some powerfull spells or I don’t know what I would do. As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t continue on this path without her. It seems she has always been there to pull me out of a tough situation but who will save her when the time finally comes? My other companions have proven to be mostly capable but can I really expect them to give up everything to save us? Of course not, as always, it will be the Venso twins alone.

I suppose I should have spent more time studying in the battles sections of all those history books, maybe I’d have a better grasp for tactics. It will continue to be my job after all. Juan is no leader and neither is Drasheen so they will not fill the role. Teyla still cares more for herself than the rest, which is fine if all she’s doing is watching a flank, but I can’t trust her to fill another roll. And Zelshee is a good fighter but she flys off the handle too easily. I was hoping to learn more from our Pathfinder companions but since we’ll be ahead of them I suspect that life will continue to be my teacher. I do need to get the others to understand that if they would just hold back for a few seconds I can give them easier tagets or soften up groups of enemies. If they insist on charging straight in every time they will continue to get smacked by my spells or I’ll stop casting and they’ll get smacked by the enemies.

I suppose our next task should be a bit easier. I don’t think Nkechi will attack us even if he’s not keen on helping us. We just need to convince him but that may be easier said than done. And I’m also not quite sure how we’ll deal with the government. I’m really hoping Drasheen has a solution to that. While the five of us can sneak away in the night, we can’t exactly more a whole expedition train through the gates without anyone noticing.

Journal of Drasheen Rettig

Now when I close my eyes to meditate and pray thoughts of Mastuuk hailing down rocks on us or poor Gelik’s throat being slit and his body thrown off the roof top. It is a difficult time when all thats safe turns on us and that which is evil is still evil. Seeing my friend Zelshee died was hard on my heart. But prayers and blessings from our Gods brought her back to us. Zelshee is fearless and upright we could not get very far without her. Jaun fighting on a roof top with the sword swinging Umargo then jumping on juan after pushing him off thge roof. All my friend are getting so hurt and near death its all so difficult. And I thought bugs bad…

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Competing Factions
Choices made

Word of the possible discovery of the lost Azlanti city of Savinth-Yhi spread throughout the city of Eleder like wildfire. The group was approached by 5 competing factions who wanted to be the first to discover the lost city:

  • The Pathfinder Society wanted the glory and lost relics of discovery. The local Delve Captain, Finze Bellaugh, brought in an experienced expedition leader, Amivor Glaur, to lead their expedition. The Pathfinders promised the group two magical wayfinders in exchange for signing on with their expedition, but when it became clear that Juan’s curse was a higher priority, Amivor offered to attempt to steal a scroll from the Aspis Consortium that was hoped could fix Juan. The plan was to wait until just before the expedition was to leave the city so they could avoid retribution from the Consortium who would most likely immediately blame Juan and his associates for the theft.
  • The Aspis Consortium wanted the profits from looting the lost city. Ishirou introduced the group to the Apsis agent Dargan Etters, a smooth talking and well dressed merchant who offered them a scroll of remove curse that was crafted by a high level caster. This scroll was very valuable and very tempting, but Zelshee had detected evil on Dargan, and when told of the corrupt methods preferred by the consortium, the group refused to work with them (even though Teyla wanted to because she saw the biggest profit potential with the consortium). This greatly saddened Ishirou who told the group that they would now have to be enemies…
  • The Red Mantis assasins wanted to find a relic rumored to be in a lost temple to their mantis god, Achaekek. The relic was supposed to be a sword holy to worshippers of Achaekek. The group was deathly afraid of the assasins and clearly turned down their overtures which were made by Sasha Neva. However, Juan had a private meeting with the leader of the Mantis faction, Chivane, where he made a secret deal with them to smooth things over and hopefully avoid raising the ire of the deadly assasins.
  • The Free Captains of the Shackles wanted to loot the lost city, the captain of the Last Hurrah, Kassata Lewynn. Kassata had been first mate on a pirate ship upon which Juan had served, and expected to use that connection as leverage to get the group to work with her. She offered a large bag of cold hard cash, and her straight forward offer and jovial nature made that offer attractive, but they could not bring themselves to fully trust a group known to be cutthroats and thieves.
  • The government of Sargava saw it as their manifest destiny to expand their influence and claim the lost city, whose wealth could help them maintain their protection payments to the Hurricane King (Shackles Pirates). Through Drasheen’s father, Cayler Rettig, Baron Utilinus had offered land and noble titles after a successful expedition. Cayler had assumed his daughter would be loyal to her family and country, and was outraged when Drahseen informed him that they would not be accepting the government’s offer. There was much yelling, and tears from her mother as Drasheen committed what her father deemed to be a personal betrayal. Things had gotten quite ugly in the Rettig household, but Cayler informed Drasheen that the government was proceeding with an expedition under the command of General Rotilius Havelar and the Sargavan military.

In the end the group sided with the Pathfinders and signed a contract with the Society. The deal was that the group could keep any treasure they earned through risking of life and limb, but the Pathfinders would get all relics recovered from the ruins and the group would get 25% of the proceeds of sale of those relics. In exchange the Pathfinders would fund and organize the expedition under the leadership of Amivor Glaur.

After signing withe the Pathfinders and informing the other factions of their choice, the group began helping with preparations for the expedition. The Pathfinders had rented a warehouse portside and began procuring supplies and hiring porters, drovers, scribes, delvers, cooks, guards, laborers, and various other personnel required for a major expedition 1000 miles into the interior of the Mwangi Expanse. The group contributed aid with labor and hiring where they could.

A few days after signing, Amivor held a meeting with himself, Finze Bellaugh, and the group to detail his plan. Amivor’s plan was for the expedition to follow the old caravan routes overland to Kalubuto, the largest city of the colony, where they could resupply. The route to Kalabuto led through the southern spur of the Bandu Hills where he warned of the native Bandu tribe, a tribe of slavers and demon worshippers known for wearing gruesome green face paint during raids. After resting and resupplying in Kalabuto, the expedetion would follow the River of Lost Tears eastwards to the edge of the Sargavan lands and into the wilds of the Mwangi Expanse At the conjunction of rivers, the would then follow the Korir River through the Screaming Jungle which would take them around the Bandu Hills to the north. Following the river would make for the easiest passage through the jungle, and when the river left the jungle proper they could cut westwards across the plains north of the Bandu Hills to the southern Mwangi Jungle and the location of the ruins of Tazion.

Amivor suggested that the group of adventurers who had shown themselves to be so resourceful on the Shiv act as trailblazers for the main expedition. The trailblazers would range a day or two ahead of the main expedition and scout the best path as well as clear out any dangers that would threaten the non combatants of the large expeditionary group. When asked about how he planned on protecting the expedition from the other dangerous groups who were also forming their own expeditions to Savinth-Yhi, Amivor assured them that he was taking a group of trusted pathfinder agents and guards with the main expedition. For some reason, Zelshee had taken a disliking to Amivor (calling him “pretty boy” and making her feelings clear), which led to some tense moments, but the plan was laid and preparations continued for the expedition to the lost city of Savinth-Yhi.

The Journal of Mastuuk Venso

14 Rova, 4710 AR

The decision has been made to ally with the Pathfinders and I believe it was the correct decision. It only took a little work to convince most of the group that the Aspis Consortium was bad news, although their intentions are plain. We may have found a way to acquire the scroll from them as well, although it will take some skill and a little luck. We leave town in a few days and we’ll be acquiring the spell at the last minute. I just hope it’s not a waste of time and effort as Juan seems to believe this will work but spells can always fail.

I’m quite glad to have met Amivor Glaur, such a skilled and experienced expedition leader will be a great asset. He has asked our group to scout ahead a few days and plot a trail through the jungle. I’ve grown accustomed to having more people around in the city and don’t look forward to the loneliness we experienced on the Shiv but I suppose this is what I signed up for when we left home. At least help and supplies won’t be far behind.

From the Journal of Jocque Tarr

Cursed, tormented with pain and an ever present hunger, I find myself trapped into a trip into the steaming and screaming jungles of the Mwangi Expanse. I know little about the Expanse beyond sailor’s tales and the possibility that my father might be there. I do know that going into the jungle in the shape I am in is next to a death sentence and not only for me but for whoever I might help or defend along the way. The jungle is no place for a cripple. The Pathfinders have promised to try to do something for me but the local holy man tried three times and failed. It might be best to slip away and return to Eleder the first night we are out on the trail if the Society fails to cure me. The only trouble with that is that I still will not be able to ship out (since no crew I ever heard of would willingly take a cursed man to sea with them) and I will be too easily identified to whoever wants to look me up in Eleder later — including Kassata and the Mantis. I am particularly afraid of what will happen to me in the city or on the trail if I do not succeed in providing Chivane the leg up she wants. By the Gods of Sea and Sky, even the worst day in the rigging beats where I find myself today.

It would be bad enough if I were just tagging along with a group that knows what it is getting into. This Pretty-Boy, Amivor, wants me and my fellow castaways to take the point! I don’t know how scrabbling through the trees on the Shiv, trying to find a way to survive off of rations and materials we had salvaged from our lost Jenivere has suddenly qualified this rag tag bunch into jungle explorers. On top of that, we now have a baggage train that must cover a quarter of a nautical mile following us. I know damned little about land tactics but it strikes me that we are exposing two huge flanks to attacks by everything from jungle animals and plants to half-crazed cannibals and that we apparently intend to keep it up for the leagues and leagues that separate us from Eleder and this place called Kalabuto. And then this Amivor wants to do it again to travel from Kalabuto to this mythical place Mastuuk Venso thinks exists even deeper into the Expanse! The whole idea of an “expedition” seems like a bad one to this salt but it looks like I am along for the ride.

Note By Zelshee

Secretly, I am so excited to be adventuring through the Mwangi Expanse! Being wrecked on that dreadful island changed me. I have the taste for adventure. It courses through my every vein now. But we must wait for the preparations to be finalized.
Amivor has decided that our small group should take point. I’m not real sure just how smart this guys is. There are only 6 of us. We’re not really trained in exploration and tactical maneuvering. But, if that’s Pretty Boy’s plan, and I hear he’s in charge, then so be it. He just better not get in my way. He might think he knows what he’s doing, but he’s going to have to prove himself to me. Just as I’m sure he wants us to prove ourselves to him!
What I see as our biggest obstacle right now is the unknown. None of us have any idea what dangers are ahead of us. And I’m certain, we’ll have a few dangers on our heels as well. Should make for a very interesting trip.

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