Reborn

Session 30

With Sae’alar’s contract accepted, you spend the next two weeks in Gael-amad on the Elderij estate. Lurien is contacted on the third day by a mysterious collector interested in purchasing the Diadem of the Summer Solstice. You quickly realize that anyone looking for magical items would easily discover one as powerful as the diadem. You agree to meet the collector in the Elderij common room, intrigued and hopeful to unload the crown on a worthy buyer.

The collector, an elf draped in beige silks, arrives with an unusual bodyguard: a treant, whose branches scrape against the ceiling of the common room. He introduces himself as Faeog and explains that he is a traveler from distant lands, most recently the wastes of Khaeridan and before that the far west. Lurien asks after the location, but no one recognizes the names he gives as his homeland: Thellinmar, that humans called Aenfar, east of the barbarian kingdoms of Nor. He explained that he is engaged in a life-long endeavor to collect objects that may help restore his blighted homeland to verdant beauty. He has waited decades for a chance encounter with an item of this power. He makes an opening offer of fifteen thousand platinum without asking after how you acquired the crown.

You retire briefly to discuss the offer and the elf’s motives.You agree that you could ask any amount from Faeog and he would endeavor to pay it. Rather than take advantage of the elf’s plight, you except the offer. Faeog leaves and returns with a large chest of platinum. He takes the offered diadem with an air of excitement and leaves.

At the end of two weeks, Captain Etteran of the Haystack is introduced to you by the Elderij staff. He explains that his ship will take you to Saltport and remain there until you have acquired Polonwe from the slave auction. You have a budget of fifty thousand platinum.

The Haystack approaches Salport from the north and heads toward a small bay. At its mouth, a Kingdoms-style clipper, Cat’s Cradle, is moored. You press on into the bay and dock among dozens of smaller Keshian-style ships.

Saltport is a bustling city, technically lawless; unruled by an injau. Stevedores bus crates from ship to shore, merchants hawk wares that range from fish to silks to slaves to fruit. Unlike the refined, clockwork precision of Gael-amad’s docks, Saltport reminds you of the smaller villages and towns of Kesh where everyone is busy and chaotic and yelling. Business is done in the street, you jostle your way through a throng of people chatting about the weather or the quality of fabric.

The group sans Kian goes looking for Polonwe. Later, you convene on the Haystack and they explain that most of the commoners have little love for slavery, but accept it as a necessary evil. Most of the slaves sold here become indentured servants, rowers, on Keshian ships. Nahar explains that Polonwe has been enchanted with a feeblemind spell, and will be unable to communicate or comprehend instruction.

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Session 27

With the demon Shurensha forced back to its shadowy home, you search the rest of the slums and pick over the creature’s belongings. The stacks of dessicated corpses in nearby houses nauseate you; so many souls were sacrificed to Shurensha. Eventually, you find a cache of gold, mithril, gems and other valuables in what you assume is the former Seravash leader’s shelter. The shaman’s desk contains a rare and dangerous volume: Light, Shadow, Chaos, Order: Treatise on the Outer Planes. The book details methods for contacting the outer planes and summoning its denizens through various means.

You gather at the well from whence you entered the slums and call down to the creature hiding below. After several assurances, a lizardfolk climbs into the plaza and cowers behind the well. Shy and obviously afraid, the adolescent Seravash named Lesh relays the story of Shurensha’s rise to power shortly after the tribe’s arrival at Kal-ninka. He also identifies the hammering from the upper city as the “angry fire dwarf” the tribe inherited from the southern kobolds. Lesh agrees to follow you south to the Atavash.

You head into the upper city, a tangled wreck of once-luxurious estates and temples. Along a row of crumbling facades that housed the city’s wealthiest business, you enter a smithy that whirs with activity. A bronze-skinned, fire-haired azer stands amidst magically animated tools; a bellow pumps without tiring, a poker stokes the fire and tongs prepare cherry-red steel for the smith’s hammer. Luar acknowledges your presence but continues his work. The product of his labor — shields, swords and axes — line the walls or are bundled neatly into barrels.

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Luar the azer is cantankerous and frustrated at the death of his employer. He wishes to leave Kal as he believes there is no coin left to be made here and considers the Parnish his best option. You learn that he was traded to the kobolds by the azer of Dragonmaw in exchange for Talebus. You try to convince him otherwise, but offer no solid alternatives. In the end, he agrees to take a part time commission from you to fashion a suit of mithril chain. You pay him and rest, recovering from the arduous combats of the day.

The morning dawns bright and clear. Mist still clings to the jungle floor as you leave through Kal-ninka’s front gate towards its forest drake guardians. You approach the pair tentatively, declaring peace. Despite the keys you carry, the drakes are not happy because you never returned with game you promised to hunt. You withdraw and argue on the merits of releasing the drakes, and whether or not a combat will ensue. In the end, you release the drakes one at a time. After stretching, the first drake takes off flying east without a word. The second follows the first.

You put the drakes out of mind and follow the broken road south along Kal’s western cliffs. The arduous climb down to the beach is no easier going down than it was going up, and when you reach the trees where you stashed your boat you get a nasty shock: it’s gone! The tracks on the beach indicate that the nearby brine dragons probably stole it. You head southwest along the breach, the slippery tidepools exposed during low tide make travel difficult.

After twenty minutes you round a short promontory and look into the brine dragons’ cove. A deep cave and a trio of sahuagin guards are lit up by the setting sun. Unaware of your passage, the sahuagin pace before the lair as you creep into firing range. As you draw near, you spot your boat high on the beach! In your excitement you slip on the rocks and the sound of your armor carries over the surf. The sahuagin turn and fire heavy crossbows, one bolt finds its mark. You rush across the incoming tide and split your forces: two rush to man the ballista on the back of the skiff, two rush into melee with the sahuagin.

Despite being outnumbered, the sahuagin maintain morale — until the heavy thunk of the ballista sends a bolt deep into one sahuagin, staggering it. The guardians fall back but are surrounded and cut down before the lair’s inhabitants can be alerted. Lesh clambers across the rocks to hide in the skiff.

Without waiting, you charge into the brine dragons’ cave and are met with immediate and fierce resistance. A saltwater merrow, stooped to the cave’s height of eighteen feet, lashes out with wicked claves. The cave’s apparent owner, a dragon with scales the color of kelp but no bigger than a horse, commands you to flee before summoning a cloud of mist around itself. You dissent and lash out at the merrow, scoring deep gashes in its lanky arms and legs. Sahuagin guards enter the chamber from a shadowed entrance near the back and rain bolts into the melee.

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The combat appears to be going your way until the dragon reappears from the dissipating mist with a powerful breath attack. A line of acid cuts through your ranks, nearly sending some to the nearest lifepool. The dragon, surrounded now by summoned creatures, lashes out with teeth, claws and wings, cutting through even the heaviest armor. The dragon allows you to retreat.

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Session 26

Wary of another set of encounters similar to your previous incursions into the warrens of Kal-ninka, you slip as quietly as you can from hiding and continue your search for Shurensha. The courtyard from which you entered the slums is empty. There are no signs of the Seravash, the bodies of the dead remain where they fell hours ago in combat. A rhythmic hammering can be heard in the distance, drifting down from the upper city, but you ignore it.

At the northeast exit of the courtyard you spy a Seravash sentry. Hoping to provide a distraction and a vantage for scouting, one of you uses the feathered cloak to transform into a raven. In raven form you land on the ledge near the sentry, startling it. As the lizardfolk recovers its composure, you count six guards standing before the magnificent facade of a buried temple. You allow the butt of the guard’s short spear to shoo you away.

The raven provides ample distraction for you to move into position for an ambush. With a countdown, you wield new magics to tear down the stone wall near the sentry, molding the wall into an earthen ramp that affords easy access to the plaza in front of the temple. You begin combat with a surprise attack, a bomb of fire and smoke! As some lizardfolk writhe on the ground, engulfed in flame, you charge through the smoke into melee.

Thunderous magic and a few distracting sneak attacks keep the lead guard busy while you whittle away its minions. When the leader is able to join combat, it unleashes a flurry of deadly arrows from a large bow that find their mark despite the smoke and cover of the multi-level plaza. It is finally brought down after a volley of bombs and spells that would have cut down ten lesser foes. A triangle pendant flashes on its chest as it collapses.

The steps of the underground temple are slippery with blood when the combat ends and an eerie, stifling silence settles. Tendrils of black energy drift aimlessly from the temple, whose interior is shrouded in an impenetrable darkness.

Shurensha must be inside. You gird yourself with spells and ready your weapons. With a deep breath to steel your nerves, you press into the temple and a behold a wondrous ritual in progress. The same purple energy that infused the eyes and dying breath of the shadow demon’s lieutenants paints the floor in a strange sigil. A trio of similarly colored orbs of energy slowly revolve around a blurry figure in the ritual’s center: Shurensha. Protected by some form of displacement magic, Shurensha is invulnerable.

As you close the distance for inspection, the orbiting magical energy crackles to life and spits lightning, though it burns with intense cold. Acting on a hunch and with precious little time between dangerous blasts, you pass one of the triangle pendants through an orb and both are consumed. A shade of the first lieutenant springs into existence and combat begins. You dance around the ritual, avoiding the shade’s heavy blows while cutting it to ribbons.

It falls quickly and you pass a second pendant through the second orb. The hunter from moments ago returns, featureless in death. Its arrows are only loosed once before it is slain again and the final pendant is activated. However, this time Shurensha materializes along with the shaman from the previous day!

The shadow demon is tall and thin, with a horned skull for a head. Its ceremonial robe is blood red, interrupted only by an ornate necklace dripping with jewels, and it bears a three-headed flail that wheezes as it passes through the air. A blast of shadow lightning from the shaman leaves you reeling and Shurensha’s flail bites deep and cold when it hits.

You are hard pressed to defend yourself at the onset. The shadow demon’s power is immense and you are pressed back from the ritual circle, spells and weapons simply fail to find purchase against its defenses. The shaman’s shade eventually falls under the hammering stone fists of summoned earth elementals, but the distraction is enough to allow Shurensha to badly wound you.

It is here that one of Sasha’s gifts and the fervor of its wielder serve you in dire need. Unhindered by the shadow demon’s protective magic, the unnamed warhammer strikes with deadly precision, each blow blasting fragments of Shurensha’s being across the temple floor. Surrounded and outnumbered, Shurensha is pressed back. “You have ruined my plans,” it croaks as it is essence is sundered and a strange wind picks up in the room, “but I will have my revenge.”

With a shriek, Shurensha shatters! The wind rises to a gale force and howls, drawing those nearest towards a spinning maelstrom of dark energy at the ritual’s center. You hold on to each other and the columns of the temple desperately, then collapse to the floor as the sudden vortex vanishes as quickly as it appeared. All that remains of Shurensha is its flail, robes and necklace. The shadow demon is banished.

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Session 25

You creep out of the hidden room into the dim storage cellar. The carnage of the battle — broken crates, the spilled contents of barrels, blood stains — was removed by the lizardfolk during your rest. Creaking leather and shifting chain betray a lone sentinel in the next room. You creep up behind him and make quick work of the Seravash guard before it can raise an alarm.

Sonorous chanting still echoes from the stairs leading deeper into the slums. You move down cautiously into a room cluttered with debris, the chanting grows louder. Two large, rusted cages fill the north wall and a narrow corridor leads west. You peer down the passage and can just make out a robed Seravashi shaman, arms raised in prayer. The hallway is about thirty feet long with a cell door in its south wall, it opens into the larger room with the chanting shaman. More lizardfolk can be heard moving in the far room.

You move into position and let loose with spell and spear! The shaman stumbles deeper into the room and his guards flood the corridor. You hold the entrance to the passage, but from deep within the next room the shaman summons shadows unhindered. First, a devastating bolt of crackling black energy strikes you, then several projectiles of clinging, burning shadow. Though they are illusions, the shadows still affect the material world.

You cut through several of the shaman’s defenders, but more rush in to plug the corridor. As its guards die, the shaman summons giant, demonic bats to replace them. You are superior warriors to the remaining Seravash and push them back into the open room. It has four more large cages and a sprawling nest, clay jars leak shadowy tendrils that embrace nearby lizardfolk eggs. Finally, you kill the shaman, who dies with a terrible screech and a burst of purple light, similar to the guard captain you previously encountered. A triangular pendant is also found on the corpse, as well as a magical rod.

One of you is possessed by dark energy from a clay jar! You race upstairs following the possessed party member as he attempts to raise an alarm. You encounter two more Seravash guards at the top of the stairs and fend them off while wreathing your friend in protective magic. He shakes off the enchantment after delivering a few painful strikes, but together you kill the lizardfolk. There is no sign that the clamour of battle is noticed by the rest of the tribe. You retreat back to Kal-injau’s secret study to recover your strength.

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Session 24

You squeeze through the drainage tunnel and emerge in a small chamber filled with a cold pool. A narrow ledge along the east wall appears to be the home of a small creature and a rusty, iron grate in the north wall leads to a similar chamber. A faint, reflected light from above limns the water and rock in the next room. The grate is locked and, despite its condition, has been recently used. Movement and a splash in the next chamber leads you to believe that whatever lives on the ledge is hiding ahead.

After a few minutes of frustrated attempts, a loud metallic click signals that the grate is unlocked. You apply some grease to its hinges and silently open it. There is a gasp and a splash, but no other sign of the creature. Cautiously, you step through the grate into the next room. You see the sky through a tall chute in the ceiling, obscured only by a bucket and an arm. You are at the bottom of a well! As you gather on what scant dry land is available and form a plan to exit through the well, you hear several more splashes and deep breaths; whatever creature calls these caves home seems determined to avoid a meeting.

An air elemental is called to your aid and it pulls down the bucket and rope. You secure it and shimmy up to survey the scene. The well sits near the center of an open-air plaza in Kal-ninka’s slums. There are five exists to the plaza that, regardless of direction, lead into tunnels that echo with lizardfolk activity. You quickly duck back into the well as a pair of unarmed Seravash move across the plaza from the east, thankfully ignoring your position, and disappear up the stairs to the north. A few minutes later, the same pair crosses back across the plaza, each carrying a hatching egg. Shadowy tendrils escape from both of the eggs.

You start moving up into the plaza. The climb is difficult and one of you falls into the well’s waters! Disoriented and cold, you struggle to swim before you are fished out. Once out of the water, you are certain that the creature, probably a juvenile lizardfolk, living in the well helped you in the water; it remains hidden. You finish your ascent.

You decide to investigate the area producing shadowy eggs and head up the stairs into the northern tunnel. A short, broad hallway leads into a cluster of shanties and turns west along the cliff, winding stairs provide passage out of the slums. You hear the the sounds of armored lizardfolk escape one of the structures nearby and move to investigate. Unfortunately, you are heard as you approach the door and a vicious combat ensues.

Two well-trained Seravash confront you. They hold a position at the door for a handful of desperate seconds before a retreat. After one calls for the other to flee and fetch the captain, you bowl your way into the room and cut off their escape. Cornered, the lizardfolk fight with determination, and give ground only with a tax of blood. The fight leaves you tired and wounded, and magical means are needed to restore your vigor before searching the stairs in the back room.

The stairs lead to a basement and deeper. The sounds of Seravash moving crates can be heard from down the hallway on the first basement and chanting drifts up from the lower floors. Better to not leave enemies at your back, you decide, and prepare for a fight. You sneak down the hallway and surprise the lizardfolk, caught packing supplies and weapons for transport. You land some early hits and drive the Seravash into a defensive cluster, but the tide turns when reinforcements arrive from the side room.

Dark magic manifests as a writhing mass of cold shadows that cripples and wounds; even the undisciplined workers are armed with razor sharp claws. Each lizardfolk that falls exacts a price. The captain, a powerful half-fiend with eyes of infernal flame, is stupefied by your own magic and unable to command his kin, but his brute strength is impressive. He forces you to fall back and use healing magic to continue the fight. Finally, he falls and the demoralized lizardfolk are put down.

The floor is slick with blood. You are exhausted, but sure that you must press on. The adjoining room is more organized, crates and barrels are stacked ceiling high. During inspection of the room, you notice that one set of barrels is part of a false wall. You destroy it, revealing a hidden parlor. Bookshelves filled with neatly organized volumes and scrolls line the south wall, an ornate stone hearth dominates the west wall and a richly-upholstered armchair sits next to a stone grate in the center of the room. You hear the sound of some powerful snuffling as the door swings open.

Convinced that you heard an invisible attacker, you dash into the room to grab some scrolls and dash out, but as you cross near the grate a human voice calls out in common, “Who’s there?” After a few false starts at greetings, you meet Aum, a creature capable of taking human form, trapped as a pet by Kal-injau’s magic for as long as the daemon prince lives. He seems to know a bit about the island’s history, including the orb that Kal-injau sought and Ikari’s meddling, but is reluctant to part with his secrets. He admits that he is from the island of Zosa, or Kal-zosa, just north of the mainland and that his parents live at a temple there.

Aum reveals that the lizardfolk don’t know of the room and you decide to rest there. You clean up what you can and disguise the secret entrance before retreating into the parlor for a long rest.

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Session 23

You make camp in a small clearing. Despite being only thirty feet from the brick road, it is indiscernible through the jungle. The calls of unfamiliar creatures and thick roots make for a fitful rest. In the wan light of dawn you hear large creatures moving slowly through the underbrush to the northeast; it sounds as if the creatures are pulling at the upper branches of the trees near the road.

You creep up and see two grazing parasaurolophus. Undisturbed by your presence, the dinosaurs continue to eat as you skirt the road around them to the east. Just as you pass the pair, an allosaurus charges into view with a powerful roar! The beast knocks the furthest parasaurolophus off balance and bites it deeply near the shoulder, its jaws locking around the terrified creature’s spine.

You layer enchantments on the three dinosaurs in an attempt to quell the carnage and pass undisturbed, but the allosaurus resists and charges you in anger. The wounded parasaurolophus slumps and the second one bolts away. The allosaurus deadly bite misses you, but the claws find some purchase, nearly killing you outright. Rather than fight, you withdraw, hoping the allosaurus will close on the larger, wounded prey. It does. You beat a hasty retreat through the jungle and opt to avoid the road for a while.

The walls of Kal-ninka rise above the canopy and your path returns to the neglected mountain road. Among the ruins of a vista along the road you see a green, scaly creature hiding. You sneak up and spy two forest drakes leashed to the road, the carcass of a large deer rotting in a pile between them. They notice you and call out in the tongue of dragons, “What business do you have?” After a brief conversations you are convinced the drakes are evil and intend to eat you should you get too close. They agree to let you pass on the road if you bring an offering of food, but you are not so certain they would keep their end of the bargain.

You decide to find an alternate path into the city and head east towards the ruin’s other entrance. A small, cold stream leads you to a grate in the cliff below the walls of the city and you decide to enter here. The grate’s bars are obstinate, but using magic you are able to pry your way inside.

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Session 22

Sasha disappears with a pop and a gust of wind, her soft farewell eases into the sounds of the ocean behind you. You spend the evening in the abandoned village, enjoy a warm bed and a cooked meal. The night spent at ease is an unspoken and welcome addition to her magical gifts to you. You find a few odds and ends (an ivory pipe, an old cutlass, a pair of small boots) during a cursory inspection of the cottages. In the morning you leave Kal-mata behind and head east to conquer Kal-ninka.

The rocky northern and western coasts of Kal are difficult to navigate. It takes several hours to find a suitable landing. You drag the skiff into a small stand of trees above the waterline and prepare a camp nestled against the imposing cliffs. In the early morning, a strange series of barks leads you to believe that brine dragons may have a nearby lair. You put aside your disquiet and resolve to conquer the half-mile-high cliffs.

The climb is grueling. Even with kits and ropes, the ascent is a day-long affair that leaves you fatigued at its completion. The top of the jungled ridge is bathed in the golden light of sunset as you survey your new surroundings: a wide, flagstone road stretches to the north and south following the ridge; Dragonmaw looms much larger in the east; columns toppled by vines, weeds and encroaching undergrowth clog the road. It must have been a beautiful journey from Kal-nin to Kal-to before the eruption.

You pick your way along the road, headed north, hoping to make some progress towards Kal-ninka before dark. A mass of animated leaves and vines concealed among the undergrowth springs to life! You wrestle with its grasping, wringing vines while hacking it to bits. Armor squeals in its vice-like grip. The shambling mounds vines lash out with increasing agitation as your cuts and slashes reveal more of its arboreal body. Eventually it collapses, its limbs twitching but lacking the vigor that nearly crushed the life from you. Several of the Seravash seem to have fallen victim to the creature; a few pieces of masterwork equipment and ingots of an exotic metal are found amidst its sap-sticky roots.

A mile further down the road, a rock outcropping topped with a large nest is guarded by a pair of circling pteranodons. You negotiate your way past the nest and its defensive owners without incident, keeping a wary eye on the sky for another two miles until it begins to grow dark. Perhaps it is the gloaming or your attention to the skies, but you are surprised by a patrol of southbound Seravash! They are similarly surprised.

You recover quickly, taking up arms and preparing for the Seravash charge, but the patrol leader shrouds the area in magical darkness, allowing the Seravash to momentarily separate you. The sounds of melee allow you to regroup with only minor wounds, despite the patrol leader’s best efforts to keep you stumbling blindly through the jungle. The Seravash are well trained warriors and expertly maneuver to gain advantage in combat, but their tactics are unable to overcome your might. The brief combat is taxing, but a success. None of the Seravash, including the half-demon leader, survive.

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Session 21

Wielding Sasha’s Marriage Knife reminds you of the pact you swore with the marid. You return to A-ka, board your skiff and head north along the coast. As the sun sets in the west, you pull the skiff up onto the beach of Kal-lotho and make camp.

As with previous visits, the jungle echoes with the calls of girallon in the island’s interior. However, the girallon are aware of your presence this evening and test the boundaries of your watch. Rocks are thrown at you in an exploratory attack. Suddenly, a large four-armed beast charges into the center of camp. You join combat with half-donned armor and hastily drawn weapons.

Your attacks bite deep into the hide of the creature and it responds with bruising attacks that land on unprotected shoulders. The darkness obscures the movement of a second girallon as it assists the first. You press the pair back into the jungle. After numerous strikes, the first falls and the second one retreats.

You give chase and drop the second girallon with spells and sling bullets. In the dim light of false dawn, a circle of stone monoliths can be seen in the undergrowth. You creep up and investigate. The circle is only twenty feet across, but cast in deeper shadow by the tall stones that ring it. In its center is a rudely crafted wooden bowl filled with black liquid. Urged forward by curiosity, you pick up the small wooden bowl and a strange voice enters your mind, “Aid me. Submit to my will.”

You resist the powerful compulsion and recognize your attacker: Shurensha, a being of shadows. You start to walk back to the camp and the demon discerns your intent, “Leave me here, mortal. You only strengthen me by destroying this vessel.” Despite its claims you proceed with your plan and return to your tents as the first rays of the morning sun hit the sand. As you hold the bowl up to the sky its contents smoke, there is an audible hiss from the demon, and the liquid disappears.

Finished with Kal-lotho, you climb aboard your skiff and make your way across the choppy, windblown sea to Kal-mata. Sasha greets you as you dock, her excitement palpable. When you produce the dagger she squeals with delight and accepts it with glee. Surprisingly, her human form shifts and grows until before you stands a sixteen-foot tall beauty wreathed in an aura of power. She explains that her power is returned and that she can grant a single wish to the group as a reward.

After some deliberation, you settle on a pair of weapons to help fight Ikari and Shurensha. Sasha thanks you and hopes that you one day visit her on the elemental plane of water.

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Session 20

The villagers of A-ka are gathered on the beach when you return several hours later. Injured A-kans are tended to under the palms while the able-bodied help search for those missing, including Mela and Sim. Wota is organizing efforts to dig out those lost in the landslide and guard a newly revealed cave system. He explains that the villagers are eager to leave Kal aboard the Parnish ships docked in the southern bay and admits that the villagers have discussed turning you in for the bounty, but were convinced not to by the elders. Mela’s body is found in the late afternoon, leaving everyone accounted for except Sim.

You offer to watch the new caves through the night. A few whispers, scrapes and hushed footsteps raise your guard, but the evening passes without incident. In the morning, you confer with Wota and agree to collapse the tunnel entrance after troglodyte tracks are found near the entrance. A large bomb is concocted with components from the town’s stores and the cave is sealed with a roar.

The A-kans have elected to sail south, around the rocky horn of the mainland, and join the Parnish in the southern bay. There is a grudging consensus that information concerning your whereabouts will remain secret. You help the villagers prepare for departure and watch as the overcrowded vessels disappear from the mouth of the cove.

With A-ka empty, you hide some of your more valuable belongings and secure the skiff. You decide to try and find Sim. The familiar climb to the top of the ridge leaves you at the top by noon. From tracks at the crossroads you can tell that Sim is near, you follow and find Sim hobbling, wounded. He seems distant, certain of the villagers’ deaths. He watched the retreat from the lifepool and does not agree with the elders’ decision; refuses to call Parn home. He is certain your information will be extracted from the villagers by torture if not greed. The rest of the conversation is muted, rushed. He is in a hurry to join the Atavash and disappears into the underbrush after goodbyes.

You lunch near the base of the newly risen dragon statue and decide to see what damage the earthquake may have caused to the lifepool. Several of the buildings have collapsed and a large portion of the climb has tumbled into the sea below. The once-beautiful veranda is now a ragged, unsafe mass of tile and roots. The lifepool is still filled and its chamber intact, though it can only be reached by a short climb over the marble balustrade.

From the lifepool, you see the cluster of A-kan ships headed south and east along the coast. You also spot what looks like lit torches being carried through the nearby jungle, along the switchbacks on the eastern face of the ridge. The group traveling the Waystone Market path is making good progress and will arrive at the nearby crossing within the hour. You opt to stay and see who it is.

Is it the Atavash? The Seravash? You are surprised to see eight azer warriors in full battle raiment enter the clearing at the feet of the dragon statue. The azer claim the statue as their own, in the name of Ikari, Lord of the Mountain, and order you to retreat. You resist and combat ensues. The disciplined azer close ranks, but the magic of Sasha’s Marriage Knife is summoned and, perhaps in response to the presence of the fiery, extraplanar beings, shatters the line. You easily defeat the remaining azer and acquire some fine weapons and armor, along with a new enemy.

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Session 19

The jungle quiets as the magical storm disperses. You search the bodies of the Seravash and the bounty hunters, and firmly secure your prisoner. The silence is interrupted by a violent trembling of the earth! To the northeast clouds billow from Dragonmaw and rivulets of orange and red run down its south face. Within the hour a dusting of ash blankets the jungle. The sounds of wildlife remain stifled through an uneasy night.

In the morning, you march your dazed prisoner to the Atavash encampment and turn him over without ceremony. Mild aftershocks occasionally halt your journey; Dragonmaw still smokes, though lava no longer issues from its summit. It is evident on the return voyage that the ranger shadows you, though she takes great care to remain hidden and stays at a safe distance. Attempts to catch her are met with frustration and you arrive back at the Waystone without incident. The ash is deeper now
You search the surrounding area for signs of the ranger. You find three freshly prepared graves for her mercenary companions and a small camp to the northwest of the clearing. As you inspect the abandoned camp, an arrow hits the dirt. A message is attached to the shaft, it invites you to meet — peacefully — at the Waystone.

You agree. Wary, you and the elf approach the Waystone and exchange names. Ona explains that she is a bounty hunter from Parn, interested in the money only to help her village, in particular the temple of Seref. She offers to trade her silence for one thousand gold pieces; she will return to Parn and never mention you again if you pay this sum. With some reservations, you agree, and Ona retreats along the jungle path headed south. You tiredly head back towards A-ka.

Once back in the village you learn that Dragonmaw’s eruption caused a rockslide that exposed a small cave. Sim reports that some worked stone can be seen from the entrance, but he has not yet investigated; you offer to in his stead.

After a night’s rest, you squeeze into the narrow confines of an unnatural cave. Torchlight reveals expertly worked stone and a brazier on the ground. Dust fills the air as you move deeper into the tunnels. You find a shaft leading deeper into the complex and another brazier in a nearby room, this one has the words, “THE LEFT EYE OF KAA WATCHES THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE” etched into its rim. You double back and find similar text on the first brazier, “THE RIGHT EYE OF KAA DISCERNS ALL TRUTHS”. Curious, you light the braziers.

You are suddenly knocked off of your feet! Your stomach lurches as the ground begins to shake violently. For nearly a full minute the ground quakes. Daylight streams into the brazier rooms as rock and earth falls away. You recover your feet and look out of the new openings to see that you are several hundred feet above A-ka!

Stuck high above the ground, you climb down the shaft. About thirty feet down you find an entrance to a small room, though the shaft continues downward. Another, larger brazier can be found here with the etching, “THE BREATH OF KAA FORGIVES ALL SINNERS.” You do not attempt to light it, assuming it will trigger some weapon that is currently pointed at A-ka. The shaft ends three hundred foot below the Eyes of Kaa.

Light streams in through an open door. You exit and find yourself adjacent to the compound surrounding the Kal-toka lifepool, on the cliffs above A-ka.

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