Reborn

Session 8

You depart from A-ka on your skiff’s maiden voyage under clear skies and favorable winds from the south. The journey to the northwest barrier island is smooth save for a small patch of rough water in the early afternoon. Wota’s catamaran was faster, but you still land well before sundown. Your rest is interrupted only by distant calls of girallon echoing through the jungle in the false dawn.

Another day of favorable winds sees your skiff skipping swiftly east along Kal’s northern coast. A patrol of grindylows assaults the skiff in the late afternoon and a second soon after. The wretched half-octopus, half-humanoid creatures are more a distraction than a danger and are quickly sent to a watery grave.

A skirmish between a third, larger patrol of grindylow and locathah can be seen to starboard. Your skiff darts into the shallow waters of the reef and you leap to the aid of the locathah. Though one of the fishmen is strangled to death by an octopus, the grindylow and companion pets are dispatched. The locathah are grateful as their quest is pressing: Drowned Durna has captured some of their young. The sea hag lairs on the eastern shore of the lighthouse’s island. The locathah also speak of a highborn woman who lives upon the island, who speaks with the voice of the waves and does not age. You bid farewell to the locathah.

You arrive at the hamlet on the southern end of the lighthouse’s island. Despite the obvious care taken to preserve the small cluster of cottages, all but one is abandoned and its owner obliviously continues her chanting through a series of vigorous knocks on the door. After the initial investigation you decide to leave the cottages undisturbed and make camp.

Sasha, as you come to know her moments after she opens the door, interrupts your camp shortly after sundown. Seemingly human, save for skin the color of a summer sky and hair the color of clouds, Sasha is a marid, a genie native to the elemental planes of water. Her story is a sad one:

“I am exiled from my home, tricked by the efreet Ikari into relinquishing my marriage knife to the daemon prince of Kal. Against my elders’ wishes, I traveled this plane as a performer; the mysteries and chaos of mortal courts inspired me. Ikari, who then served the daemon prince as advisor, recognized me for what I was and used his influence and guile to bind me here.

“I hoped for the death of the daemon prince, but when that came — with the machinations of Ikari and the eruption of Dragonmaw — I was not released. I am bound to the knife and the knife is still here. Ikari believes me dead and I dare not tread on Kal lest he be alerted to my presence. Hopefully, the knife will leave the island one day and we will be reunited. With my power returned, I will be able to go home once more.”

Sasha speaks of an orb often carried by the daemon prince of Kal, whose surface appears as swirling, molten gold and upon which the serpentine slit of an eye is occasionally formed. She believes the daemon prince’s end is linked to the orb and that it may have caused the mountain’s eruption.

You tell Sasha that you have seen her marriage knife in the hands of the Seravash. She is overjoyed that it is found and dismayed in turn that it remains out of her reach. You vow to help Sasha regain her marriage knife and head uphill to the lighthouse, where a pair of merrow wait, to win some goods for barter with the Seravash.

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Session 7

Jurim is difficult to understand, his ignan accent is thick, and the heat he emanates makes his presence uncomfortable. The azer is reluctant to talk of his origins, yet you learn he is an immortal denizen of the Plane of Fire, a servant to the current master of Dragonmaw and prideful of his role as merchant. Jurim alludes to a strict caste system, but further attempts to converse about topics other than his wares only frustrate him.

The goods in Jurim’s metal cart are exceptional, some magical. You have never seen full plate armor of its like, nor prices so steep! Here a magical shield, there a magical sword! However, your esteem for the azer lessens when he offers to trade a masterwork warhammer for Olen, who he assumes is your slave. You politely defer, but remember that Talebus was sold to Dragonmaw.

You barter a battered chain shirt to Jurim, who wrinkles his nose at its craft, in exchange for information about the barbarian. Jurim knows only that Dragonmaw’s master was delighted with the slave and spends hours at a time in his company. Talebus is routinely, “tortured, killed and born again from the fire.” The fellow Reborn’s fate and the azer’s indifference infuriates you! You storm back to your camp. Jurim’s persistent, unnerving glow serves as a reminder of Talebus’s cruel fate and sleep is difficult to find.

As you break camp in the morning more visitors arrive. Five lizardfolk enter from the direction of A-ka and you recognize them immediately as members of the Seravash tribe. Four of the lizardfolk are heavily armed, the last bears a heavy pack that jangles with each step. The Atavashi guards snap to attention and Fisk nervously eyes the new arrivals. Jurim seems pleased.

The Seravash move directly towards Jurim and begin haggling over weapons. Two of the Seravashi take tactical positions between you and the merchants, but you still manage to spy the objects being traded. The first is a beautifully curved short sword with a an opalescent hilt, its magical power evident by the soft white glow shed by the blade. The azer visibly flinches as it is displayed and, much to the Seravash merchant’s frustration, refuses to appraise it or consider it for trade. The pair move on to the next item, you decide to move on from the Waystone Market. You say farewell to Fisk under the watchful gaze of the Seravash and retreat towards A-ka.

The jungle is quiet in the wake of the Seravash. As you trudge uphill in the early afternoon, just past the halfway point in your journey, you hear a twig snap nearby. Ambush! The kobolds burst forth from either side of the trail, arrows, bullets and spells flying. Rusty blades and wooden spike protrude from a log that swings down from the canopy, forcing you to the ground. The angry yips of a dozen kobolds fill the air as you fight desperately for survival.

There are two leaders among the kobolds, one stuns you with a blast of colorful lights and the other blasts you with fire. You recover and split your efforts between the magic users, hacking at the guards and pushing forward through the dense underbrush. Bloodied, you cut down the first leader and the remaining kobolds flee. You manage to bring them down in flight.

You pause to bind the worst of the cuts and loot the dead kobolds. The first leader bears a scrap of parchment you translate from draconic:

Spotted at Strong Stone by scouts. Talked with coward brothers. Left south. Set up trap for return. Return when done, you will have caves as leader.

The cryptic message reveals that the kobolds set the trap explicitly for you. More pressing matters are at hand: you realize now that Olen is missing, the sailor must have slunk away during the onslaught. You easily find his trail and follow, but the hunt is not long. A few hundred feet down the trail you find Olen’s motionless body, his expression a rictus of panic and fear, slain by a pair kobolds as he sought freedom. The tracks of his small, reptilian killers head east into the jungle.

You worry that the kobolds will bring reinforcements from Kal-ereska. The kobolds move quickly and take no precautions, signs of their passage are plentiful in the soft earth. As the sun heads towards the western horizon, though, you have not gained on your prey and there are signs that more dangerous game is afoot. Large, day-old prints of an allosaurus cross your path. Perhaps these kobolds are not worth pursuing further…

You stop at a small pond visited by the kobolds and see two large dimetrodon on the far side. Curious, you summon the power of nature to converse with them. You learn the kobolds are long gone, that the allosaurus is not near, and that dimetrodon enjoy sunning. Your slow-witted friends convince you that you should turn around and hope to make A-ka by nightfall.

You reach the village an hour after dark. Your consolation for failing to find Raifa and the death of Olen is only Wota’s warm welcome. He informs you that the skiff will be ready in three days.

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Session 6

The Parnish bireme moors in the southern bay of Kal. You worry that Parn-injau comes to reclaim what she lost in the stormy shipwreck: you. A full crew of 120 rowers would not be fast enough to carry the bireme here from Parn-tora in a week, but you suspect that, regardless of the original Parnish mission, they will be informed of your presence. Missing Reborn are valuable enough to track down with magic.

The bireme sends two longboats to shore and you decide to investigate the camp. The Atavash warn you against returning to the outpost if the Parnish are in pursuit. The lizardfolk have taken great pains to keep their settlements secret and do not wish to confront the humans now.

Despite the short distance to the camp, the trail leading down from the southern promontory is treacherous. You close on its position as the sun sets behind the mountains to the east, over the bay. The smell of meat roasting over the Parnish campfire is heavy in the air. You creep through the undergrowth past one distracted sentry. Ten tents, eight men visible; the other group must have made camp deeper into the jungle.

One of the sentries moves into the jungle to relieve himself and you follow. You ready your weapons and creep towards him. He notices you! Luckily, his first instinct is to draw his blade and not to yell. You knock him unconscious and drag him away from the camp, taking some care to cover your trail.

It is a long night spent carefully moving your charge and hiding from the Parnish. Near dawn, your prisoner wakes. You learn his name is Olen and that he already knows who you are; your fears are confirmed. The expedition’s mission is to gather red dawn blossom and other indigenous flora and fauna, and any information about the missing Reborn. You decide to play it safe and head back to A-ka. If the Parnish head too far west, you reason, the Atavash will deal with them. Unwilling to murder Olen — he was very cooperative — you agree to bring him with you.

The Atavash are incensed by Olen’s presence and you leave before outstaying your welcome. With the spur of the Parnish behind you, a full day’s travel brings you back to the Waystone Market. Fisk is still here and a new wagon has arrived, its owner a bronze-skinned dwarf whose hair and beard are living flame. The azer merchant Jurim watches as you set up camp.

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Session 5

The skiff will be finished in a matter of days, but rather than rest, you decide to explore the island and look for more signs of Raifa. You exit through A-ka’s mystically shrouded gate and climb through the steamy, jungled ridges of southwestern Kal. You pick up Raifa’s trail just east of the Kal-toka mines, now quiet after your last adventure.

You hike for a full day in Raifa’s footsteps, along a game trail that first switches back and forth across the face of a long ridge and then straightens as it heads east. Despite the heat, the canopy’s shade and the sounds of the forest are quite pleasant, there are ample spots to stop and rest and refill your water.

In the late afternoon you enter a large clearing. An ogre-sized stone obelisk stands in its center and you see a small hand-pushed cart brimming with goods on its far side. A trio of green-scaled lizardfolk lounge in the shade near the cart. Two are dressed in leathers and bearing spears, the third is in homespun robes. A trickle of blue-gray smoke escapes from their firepit.

Uncertain if these are members of the Atavash or Seravash tribe, you approach with caution. The pair of armed lizardfolk rise languidly to survey your approach. The robed lizardfolk jumps to his feet and rubs his hands, excitedly introducing himself in a lisping common tongue as Fisk, a merchant with exceptional wares.

Set at ease by the lizardfolk’s demeanor, you inspect his wares. The cart is filled with crates and sacks, buckets of ammunition and filled waterskins hang from the sides. A colorful cloak of feathers drapes from a pole near the front and one crate contains carefully prepared magical potions. As you browse, you chat about the island, the clearing’s obelisk — which Fisk calls a waystone — and the Atavash. Fisk proudly boasts about his tribe’s ‘Great One’, a philosopher king born to the Atavash as a gift from the gods. He grudgingly admits that other merchants, from the Seravash and Dragonmaw, can occasionally be found here.

Short on coin and goods, you barter for a single healing potion and set up your own camp. You inspect the obelisk and make out the word ‘Kaa’ on its weathered surface. Fisk tells you that this place once belonged to the dragons, that the island hides a great city. You listen in interest to his tales long after the sky grows dark.

In the morning, you say your goodbyes and leave the market to continue pursuit of Raifa. Fisk assures you that an Atavashi outpost is only a few hours down the trail and that the watchers there will surely know more.

You arrive at the outpost as the sun beats down from its zenith. The Atavash warriors of the outpost are armed with spears and large shields, some ride long-necked dinosaurs. Tiny compsognathus scuttle away from you as you enter the wooden palisade. After introductions and mention of Fisk, the guards speak of Raifa in mixed draconic and common:

“The human female you seek has come here twice. The human female was very injured and died, but came back again two days later from the west. We thought from A-ka, there is a lifepool there and the human female is certainly Reborn. We warned her not to travel north or east. There is a lifepool in the city of the snakes, which humans call Kal-yunka, and a lifepool in the city of the fire dwarves. If the human female were to revive there it would be bad for her.

“The human female was stubborn. The human female left our care despite our warnings and headed to the city of the snakes to find a boat. The human female will die there and be reborn as a slave to the snakes, they care only for magic and power.”

Your conversation is interrupted by calls of alarm from the other guards. A large bireme is sighted on the ocean to the south, headed directly for Kal’s large, crescent bay. As it approaches, you see it flies the emerald manticore of Parn.

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Session 4

You descend deeper into the Kal-toka mines, more aware now of dangerous kobold pit traps and swinging axes. You shoulder down a sturdy door and burst into a kobold ambush. The kobold firebelchers and warriors hold their ground for only a few moments before fleeing deeper into the tunnels. You wisely pursue with caution, avoiding several new traps.

Excited and fearful yipping is the only sign of the kobolds as they retreat before you in the warren. You enter a long gallery with several branching passages and no sign of the pathetic creatures. A burning barrel of oil suddenly bounds towards you! The kobolds snicker as you dive for cover and you realize — too late — the barrel is an illusion, a delay tactic. Arrows rain down on your position and warriors charge in, the trap is sprung.

Surrounded, you swing wildly and push your way through jabs and cuts towards the kobold leader, a magic user of some skill. The creature’s spells dazzle and disorient you. As your vision returns, you catch a pare of firebelchers drinking their foul creations. As the first firebelcher’s belly distends with flame you pierce its hide and it explodes, creating a chain reaction that staggers you, chars the kobold leader and blasts the melee apart. The remaining kobolds are cut down in flight.

A few magical trinkets and singed leathers are gathered before the search begins for the prisoners. You find a large cell with three malnourished A-kans inside, one an elder that is too weak to stand and must be carried to the surface. The A-kans are grateful for the rescue and seem in high spirits as you wind your way back to the hidden village.

As you walk, the elder speaks of the horrors he endured and of Talebus:

“When Talebus came, the kobolds were like bees in a kicked hive. Each time he came alone and each time more traps waited. He could take an ax or spear, Talebus could, but when the kobolds began to trap the zombies, the dead left walking after he was Reborn… It drove him mad. You could hear it in the screams, you could.

“They finally trapped him, the kobolds did. Talebus killed near thirty of them in the end. But they got him in a net and sluggish with some poison from Kal-ereska, to the east. Traded him that day at the Waystone Market to some fiery dwarf for another fiery dwarf and a few carts of iron. Haven’t seen him since, but I bet he’s raving.

“The kobolds didn’t know what to do with the new slave, he didn’t stick around long. Refused to mine and the kobolds couldn’t go near him without burning themselves. Luar was his name, didn’t speak much common. He was a blacksmith, I gather, and likely strong enough to snap his irons if he’d had a mind to; seemed defeated somehow. The kobolds sold him to the Seravashi after he’d made them all the pretty iron daggers you’re carrying now!”

You are hailed a hero of A-ka! The next three days are dedicated to feast, music and dance. You are formally invited to join the village and accept. Wota gladly leads you to the hidden entrance to A-ka and reveals its secret: an illusory wall of impeccable skill. He says it is a gift from a friend of the village. It is impressive, regardless of its origin. As you rejoin the celebration, you ask Wota what payment would suffice for a new skiff, that you might better explore the island. He smiles broadly and asks only for your help minding his fishing nets.

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Session 3

Wota leads you blindfolded from the sheltered cove of A-ka early in the morning of your fourth day on Kal. Since your arrival, the days have been easy and the nights full of song and feast. Anxious to find Raifa, you decided to leave the idyllic village. You are left at a waterfall, the same whose roar you heard during your approach, and instructed to return at dusk if you wished passage to A-ka.

Even in the early morning, the hike up to the jungled ridge and the Kal-toka lifepool is brutal. You scour the ruins for signs of Raifa’s passage and discern she likely made her way towards the crescent bay visible on the southeastern shore of the island. Following a game trail down the eastern face of the ridge, you spy a footprint or two of her making; she does not leave many signs of passage.

About an hour along the trail you hear the unmistakable bark of kobolds laughing. A group of kobolds guards a mine entrance; likely the mines told of by Sim, Noji and the others from A-ka. The kobolds sling stones at a gourd in target practice as a companion compsognathus scampers nearby. Rushing them, you make quick and bloody work of the kobolds and their pet, but during cleanup a spider springs its trap! It must also be killed before it spins you into its web.

Torn between following Raifa, who continued on down the trail, and inspecting the mines to which many A-kans have been brought as slaves, you choose the latter. Cunning traps spring while sling bullets fly from the mine’s defenders; obsidian spears and axes, tripping ropes and trap doors. Bloodied, you fight the zombies of Talebus and the maggots that subsist on what was once his flesh. You are pushed to the limits of your abilities before returning to the first gallery of the mine, up through the garbage chute that nearly sent you to the lifepool.

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Session 2

The steep, downhill journey through the jungle is treacherous and slow while blindfolded. The sounds of the ocean crashing against nearby cliffs and strange bird calls are eventually drowned out by the roar of a waterfall. A cool mist relieves the heat as you pass near or behind it. A few minutes after passing the waterfall, Sim halts you and removes your blindfold.

The cove is ringed by cliffs and filled with brilliant turquoise waters. A dock with three working villagers juts out from a small, crescent-shaped beach. The jungle, creeping down the cliffs at the back of the cove, starts less than a hundred feet from its white sands. Dark cave entrances can be seen in the cliffs and thatch huts among the trees. The only exit appears to be through a natural arch that lets the cove waters in from the ocean.

Sim leads you along a sandy path through the trees and up the cliffs at the back of the cove. You’re introduced to the village elders Mela and Noji, who welcome you to stay in A-ka. You learn of Talebus, a Reborn warrior from the Dream Kingdoms, who disappeared in the the nearby Kal-toka mines and of the dangers of the island.

You return to the beach to find Noji’s son, Wota, preparing to investigate the wreck of your ship; he agrees to take you out. As you approach the barrier island upon which the remainder of your bireme is now scattered, you spy your shambling corpses on the beach. After a bloody battle, your zombies are returned in pieces to the sea.

The damaged hull of the bireme rocks against the shore in the rising tide. Inside, a sahuagin feasts on the inanimate corpses of the unfortunate crew. You dispatch the creature and the shark it summoned, claim your belongings from the strongboxes you brought on board, and head back to A-ka with the spoils of the voyage; rope, canvas, wood, oars and oil.

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Session 1

A violent storm destroys the Tak-toran bireme bound for Parn-tora, the crew drowned and you, its cargo, are reborn in the ruins of Kal-tora. The ruins sit atop a jungled island, abandoned by civilization twenty five years ago when a volcano in the center of the island, now called Dragonmaw, erupted. There is no sign of Raifa, a fellow Reborn also bound for Parn-tora despite her favored status with Tak-injau.

You explore the ruins of the compound surrounding the lifepool. A kobold that managed to escape the wrath of Raifa is captured and interrogated, revealing that other humans, Reborn and other beings live on the island: bronze-fleshed, fiery dwarves; kobolds; various tribes of lizardfolk; troglodytes.

Only spiders and rats are encountered during the search of the ruins. However, as you prepare to leave the compound, a human steps from his concealment in the jungle undergrowth.

Armored in leather and cloaked in green, the ranger Sim introduces himself and reveals the existence of a nearby settlement, A-ka. He seems wary, but assures you that his people have no hatred for the Reborn. After some discussion, he offers to lead you to his village provided you accept a blindfold.

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