Serpent's Skull

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.

View
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.

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The Azlanti Ziggurat of Tazion
Ouch...

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.
OH GREAT GODS……HOW WILL WE EVER SMITE DOWN THE EVILEST OF THEM ALL? Ieana herself??

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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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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