For Glory, For Empire

Session 5, 10/23/16

The session resumed with the party setting up camp and tending to the wounded, while speculating on the value of monkey hides and hoping that the Pymlion, Friday, hadn’t damaged the alpha ape’s skin too much with his vengeful butchery. While unpacking, the group suddenly uncovers a bag that came from the ocher jelly and had been set aside until now. The bag contains about a pound of precious uncut stones. Xaxe noticed Yu-Chen examining the jewels, but was successfully diverted via some skillful bluffing and the welcome distraction of Talis.

The party sallied forth, traipsing out into the bush. Around them, the jungle stilled. The party noticed that all the tracks in the local area seemed to radiate out from a point ahead of them. Tails searched for the darkness, but the darkness was not there. The party advanced slowly, but was still ambushed by a massive great cat, the beast’s presence sending fear racing through everyone’s veins. Friday successfully identified it as a Smilodon, a mighty saber tooth tiger. The Smilodon mauled Talis dropping her in one mighty leap. Commander Duellos pulled the Paladin out of the beast’s grasp, falling back. Xaxe blinded the beast, and Yu-Chen attempted to distract it, but failed. Hirase’s musket roared, a powerful ricochet inflicting massive damage on the mighty beast. Shopik and the Pymlion fall before it. After a round of messing around, the group decided discretion is the better part of valor and started withdrawing as the tiger raged and slashed about, searching for more prey to slaughter. It eventually found Hirase and mauled her too, before blindly groping about. The beast was eventually destroyed by numerous attacks as it failed to find its harassers. Afterwards, the party enacted a ritual with its body, empowering themselves with its resilience. They also took a pair of days to rest, to recover from the deadly clash with the king of the jungle. Only after they were much recovered did they resume exploring. Jungle diseases took their toll on the party as they advanced.

As the party continued exploration, they discovered hills to the north, as well as medicinal and alchemical herbs. The Pymlion gathered some before the party moved on. As the party moved, they saw a disruption in the brush, which Friday realized must come from many numerous creatures moving about in the underbrush. The party’s advance brought them in contact with a stream of bugs, a veritable river of poisonous centipedes. They decided to follow the insects and make sure they were not a threat to the village, following them to the river bank. The party made the decision to engage the insects, a plan foiled by a lack of application of vermin repellent. The following battle consisted of the spell casters unleashing fiery hell and everyone else poking the swarm with torches. The centipedes perished in fiery flashes and bursting flasks, leaving the party stung but victorious. After resting, the party was beset by horror when Vakas first passed away because of the disease, and then animated as one of the undead, seizing the Pymlion and throttling him. The Paladin eventually pummeled the monster to death; it burst as she broke its body, infecting Commander Duellos.

The party set up triage at the stele, with Tanja tending to the plague victims. Everyone eventually recovered, while Yu-Chen performed administrative duties and informed Mengzhi.

Session 4, 10/16

After another day of travel in the jungle, the group set up camp and put Mengzhi on the first watch. Mengzhi heard strange hissing during the night and concluded that they were visited by snake people, displaying a very detailed set of notation on the sounds made by their visitors. The Pymlion, Friday, found tracks that could corroborate the theory, but the group decided not to follow the trail and instead to continue to explore the area.

As they moved down the trail, nearing Hiquts Rill, a giant frilled lizard emerged to challenge them. After a frantic battle, Talis chased down and slew the creature, her deed reminiscent of a similar triumph of her father.

Night fell, and the group set Hirase on watch. She saw cat eyes gleaming in the dark, looking at her.. The eyes get closer without seeming to move; She chose to open fire, awakening the camp with the deafening retort of her musket. A search found no body or sign of a hit, and tracks heading northeast. After debate, the group chose to leave the tracks alone and proceed onward, following the trail of the frilled lizard back to its nest.

A lone Dunyabetia cat person was at the nest when they arrived, scampering off rather than defending the prize. As Mengzhi and Hirase worked to pack up the eggs, another frilled lizard emerged to defend the nest, swimming across the river to the waiting spear of Talis. In the desperate struggle, Yu-Chen struck the killing blow by fusing the sand into glass shards,, blasting shrapnel into the creature’s face. After putting Talis together again, the group finished exploring the hex, finding a small grove of sickly trees that could be a sign of danger to future settlement.

Back at camp, Carmen made the acquaintance of a unique young woman who punches trees rather than using axes. Although wary of answering personal questions, Carmen eventually learned that she is Vakas Saad, hailing from Khora. Carmen also became acquainted with her friend Xaxe, who was far more eager to engage in discussion. The third companion of the ne’er do wells was Shopik, at the time engaged in fishing.

Returning to the settlement, the party made a last ditch attempt to save the Captain of the Steadfast with the Pymlion leading the medical effort. As much as they raged, raged against the dying of the light, they could not prevent him from going beyond the veil.

The Pymlion became determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, undertaking another search of the ship, discovering the fatal wound on the captain’s stomach, and finding the murder weapon in the bilge, coated with a deadly biological agent. A crooked dagger with a wavy shape, Friday realized that it looked like one owned by Fadlan, the deceased bosun. The coating appears to be growing on the blade, a bacterial or mold-like substance. The Pymlion decided to commit war crimes and develop biological weapons from the sample on the dagger, a decision that could bode only well for the budding colony.

A council was held to try and determine what should be done with this new information. Afterwards, Duellos made the visit to the captain’s daughter and informed her, reflecting the consensus of the meeting.

The party made preparations to explore farther upriver, taking Xaxe, Vakas, and Shopik with them to provide additional muscle. Yu-Chen and Xaxe immediately begin squabbling, Yu-Chen being shocked to discover someone she disliked more than Friday. Their first day saw them uncovering on the southern bank a beaten down path with broad naked footprints; examination yielded the conclusion that they belonged to some sort of ape-man. Hirase suddenly realized that Bon, the shaman and high priest of the colony, was also a Dunyabetia monkey man. The party decided to land on the shore and investigate. They found a large pack of gorillas guarding their young in their den set amidst a great grove of trees. The exploration party bypassed the apes without conflict, pressing onward, with Talis and Xaxe exchanging pleasantries.

The next day, the party came onto a similar, larger trail along the northern shore. Very well cleared and easy to travel, this trail was the result of larger tracks, but similar to what was seen before. The party heard an animal scream as they pulled up to the bank, and the brush moved with the bulk of large creatures. Proceeding down the trail, the party encountered five even larger, very angry primates.

A battle erupted as the apes of wrath descend upon them! After a prolonged combat that saw Yu-Chen doing very little, the Pymlion tossed like so much discarded scrap, Vakas brought down, Shopik claiming two monkey heads despite his questionable courage, and Talis once more being the saving grace of the party, the session ended as the group started contemplating monkey steaks.

Session 3, 10/9

The colony’s first government began to take shape. After christening the overall colony as “New Salam” and the town as “Westgate,” the various luminaries of this fledgling community were elected to suitable offices (or in Yu-Chen’s case, unsuitable ones.)

The party met with the Kambral craftsmen from across the river as they set about liberating the secure crate from the boat in the river. They were able to identify the metal as “titanium,” a legendary substance associated, as the name would indicate, with Titans, legendary giant humanoids.

Hirase apologized to the bird people, who accepted her apology and took their leave of the colony.

The Kambral craftswoman, Anjis, also informed the group that they had discovered a stela across the river. After Talis helped them unload the reinforced crate and Yu-Chen nearly undid that help, they resolved to investigate the strange stone. A boat ride later, and they were attempting to puzzle out the glyphs on the stela and the pedestal under it. A combination of magic and linguistics allowed them to deduce that the letters were a simplified version of Bea’txo. Each of the seven sides of the stela bore words of protection, and the pedestal held a common text warding against the restless dead and the desecration of graves.

Yu-Chen thus argued that these were grave markers, and there was probably a tomb or burial mound under it. She was able to infer that the stela and pedestal would be part of a set bounding an area, and that there would likely be more. Talis asked the Kambral if they would like to move across the river, but the pair preferred their distance and privacy from the main colony.

The group made preparations to explore the surrounding area, in preparation for further settlement inland. Traveling up river, they encountered crumbling river banks, tasty flightless birds, and stalking jaguars. Friday and Hirase set snares, just barely missing out on capturing the jaguar and instead performing an act of animal cruelty. On the second day, Yu-Chen proved that survival is easy by making a contribution of roasted tasty flightless bird to their supplies. Traveling onward, Talis found quicksand in the marshy terrain by walking into it. After helping Talis brush herself off, the group found a grove of breadfruit trees, greatly pleasing the Pymlion, who apparently fancies himself an arborist.

The next day of travel saw the group encountering an asp, which failed to kill any of them before being burned by a particularly impressive word of power from Yu-Chen. Further scouting uncovered a likely nest of asps in the cleft of a boulder, which Yu-Chen dealt with via repeated fire spells. The rest of the group hunted asps in the surrounding woods, Friday gaining many samples of venom and more grilled snake. On the last day, the group encountered nothing of note, but managed to determine that the lights and drums they saw were at a higher elevation than one would expect given the terrain, adding a further air of mystery to those events.

The party returned to the settlement triumphant, bearing breadfruit, extra food, a single male flightless bird, and knowledge of the surrounding terrain. While they were gone, a few more injured colonists succumbed to infection and the Captain of the Steadfast remained comatose, and withering away to nothing.

During a discussion with Carmen about how she was communicating her reports back to Salamport, Talis and Yu-Chen noted that the scribe Gael had an interesting sigil on his pack and deduced that he was from the house of Tovash, a royal bloodline separate from the Zalamir.

Meanwhile, the Pymlion engaged with his native culture, pursuing some sort of rite to less than stellar results, judging by the sulking Pymlion. Yu-Chen took the opportunity to be smug all week in his presence as they tended to the tasks of their governmental positions. While performing his role as spymaster, Friday figured out that the sailor turned priest Bon was actually a monkey-form Dunyabetia, as Mengzhi calls them. The Reliant finally departed, with a mixture of original crew and some from the Steadfast who did not want to stay in the colony, nor with their cursed ship.

After a week in the office, the party continued their scouting expedition into the marsh south along the coast. A large area of valuable herbs was discovered; Friday helped Mengzhi collect sufficient samples without over-thinning the area before the group moved on. The marsh took its toll on the travelers by infecting Hirase and Yu-Chen with a disease. The wetlands further afflicted the party with a giant crocodile attack, nearly claiming the life of Mengzhi. After using the divine power of light, focused through Talis to put the scholar back together again, they continued onward, with Yu-Chen and Mengzhi discovering that Hirase can speak Bea’txo, and with a different accent than most Meseidiarens. The next day, Yu-Chen’s fever broke while Hirase continued to suffer. The misery was compounded by the discovery of a giant slime, which gave the party much grief before it finally fell to the fists of Talis and the bullets of Hirase.

The party decided to press onward from the marsh rather than returning to the settlement. Their first venture into the adjacent jungle helped them discover a grove of hardwood trees. Such an environment turned out to be a great habitat for leopards, one of which ambushed Hirase and brought her down. Mengzhi grabbed his walking stick and nearly killed the thing with a mighty blow to the head before being brought down himself. After Talis finished the great cat, the party decided to rest for the day.

Session 2, 10/2

On day 73, the Steadfast headed north, keeping the coast in sight as it headed towards the colony site. With her captain still locked in a toxic trance, Commander Duellos still held command over the limping vessel. After a day and a half of travel, the ship came to a line of breakers. Duellos ordered the ship out towards the sea to avoid the numerous sand bars, small islands, and beach spots. As they passed by the treacherous waters, the saw numerous wrecks, the skeletons of past ships and their crews strewn across the perilous strand. Duellos made sure to note the location for future exploration. Moving past an L-shaped island on day 74, the lookouts spotted some flotsam, and then torchlight on the mainland yet again. Duellos decided against further investigation at this point, mindful of the responsibility she had for the crew’s safety.

The next day, movement was spotted in the jungle. The ship tacked closer to shore to try to get a better view, but nothing conclusive was learned. Friday recalled legends of birdmen and other unique peoples told by the Pymlions, which Scholar Mengzhi scoffed at.

After further travel, the Steadfast finally arrived at the colony site on day 76. Greeted by lights on the shore and in the bay, the ship approached cautiously. Everyone was overjoyed to discover that some of the lights belonged to the missing Reliant. After anchoring close by, the party learns that the Reliant arrived two weeks ago. Having long unloaded its charges, the Reliant is simple waiting for several crew members, including their captain, to recover from a fever common to the new colonists after they arrived. The captain of the Reliant keeps mumbling about some sort of temple in his sleep, but those afflicted recover after the fever breaks.

After a humorous incident involving a drunken ship’s carpenter giving his valuable second opinion on the case of Rehan Beiruni, the Steadfast made ready to unload its burden. The Steadfast, along with the other ships, are owned by the house of Poughash, a Zalamiri trading house with an infamous reputation. Their representative, Carbatkin the Golden, demanded that the “special cargo” be unloaded before anything else. Commander Duellos managed to get him to agree to a compromise in which the sick were delivered to the colony first, and then the “special cargo.”

Unloading takes most of day 77. Yu-chen receives a courtesy from the surveyors, and Commander Duellos assumes stewardship over the colony from Major Lucat, a retired Zalamiri cavalryman who had organized the Reliant’s colonists. Friday entered the jungle, finding a good place to establish himself while also procuring important reagents for the treatment of burns, as well as some painkillers. Duellos meets with Carbatkin after the unloading is completed to discuss the fate of the Steadfast. The ship will remain nearby the shore for now, but future use of it may be subject to negotiations. It is apparent that Carbatkin is interested in doing business, not in providing charity or favors.

Scholar Mengzhi and Yu-chen set up their tent with the aid of Talis, after a prolonged comedy of errors which surely brought mirth to all who viewed it. Talis and Yu-Chen then find the empty dugout that was used by the two brothers who originally found the site. While Talis decides to move in, Yu-Chen tries to ask Major Lucat about the fate of the brothers. After offending him by misidentifying him as a sergeant, the Major tells her that when the colonists arrived, the brothers were nowhere to be seen. Only a cheap tin belt buckle was left in the dugout. After being dismissed, rather than getting to dismiss the Major, Yu-Chen returns to Mengzhi in a huff.

Duellos calls for a council, inviting most of the major figures of the colony (aside from Friday, who has retired to his chateau). Everyone has a different first priority, but can agree that securing a source of ready food is a key secondary priority. The meeting is interrupted by the beat of drums, and the sighting of distant lights south by southeast. As the irrepressible Mengzhi sets about recording the phenomena, Commander Duellos organizes a search party. Friday begins to stalk towards the origin of the drums, while Hirase plunges recklessly into the jungle, musket at the ready. They eventually determined that the source of the disturbance was too far to reach in a single day, and decided that they would mount an expedition in the morning.

That intention was spoiled by the sudden arrival of a pair of birdmen into their encampment. Hirase snatched up her firelock and gave chase, while the rest of the camp rallied itself to go after her. Friday, whose dwelling is apart from the main colony, intercepted the birdmen and managed to parlay with them. After convincing Hirase to stand down, the Pymlion learned that the birdmen had been seeking their allies the missing tradepost brothers, for aid in fleeing from their enemies. Said enemies soon appeared in the form of a squad of catfolk, just as Commander Duellos arrived with her party.

The catfolk leader demanded that the party turn over the birdfolk to them, calling them cowards and saying they must face “cleansing” because of “the ritual.” Duellos stepped forward and challenged the catfolk leader to a duel. The struggle was terrible, and both Duellos and the catfolk leader drew blood, but the naval officer emerged triumphant. Some of the catfolk distinguished by strange ritual scarring, suddenly betrayed their felled spokesperson, leaping to the attack. In the ensuing combat, Friday fell defending the left flank, Talis destroyed the betrayer catfolk with a sweep of her greatsword and a fantastic display of holy power, and Yu-Chen demonstrated the power of her Word Magic. The birdfolk also cut into their foes with obsidian edges. The surviving catfolk tended to their leader and agreed to withdraw without further conflict.

The party returned with the birdfolk to their camp. Friday and Duellos began recovering from their wounds, and the rest of the party set about learning what they could from the birdpeople, and from the tokens taken from the fallen catfolk. The birdpeople gave them directions to possible catfolk and birdfolk villages, while also warning them of a fearsome predator called a Grondok. When asked about the brothers, the birdpeople told the party that the missing Mesiderians had not been seen for 2 and a half passes of Karos, and that the brothers had a way of crossing the river swiftly.

Yu-Chen and Talis went to the Major and then to Carbatkin to examine the belongings of the fallen catfolk. They determined that most of the ornaments are soft gold, indicating a further pure vein of gold in the region. They also found a curious file made of an unknown metal. The session ended with Yu-Chen and Talis planning to ask the smiths that set up across the rill to try and determine the nature of their new find.

Session 1, 9/25

The session began in Salamport, with the disgraced Bea’txo courtier Yu-Chen receiving orders to return home in shame after making one last great offense. When she examined the papers, she found she had accidentally received an additional set of papers, authorizing a Bea’txo scholar named Mengzhi to travel with an expedition aimed at colonizing Areiyistis. Yu-Chen decides to join the expedition rather than face possible decades of genuflecting back home, followed by ritual suicide.

Down at Pier 13, Commander Carmen Duellos arrived with her command, quickly settling in to the Steadfast and witnessing the first of many panic attacks by the Pymlion Friday, onboard to finally return home after years abroad. The gun-wielding soldier Hirase Aika boards, followed by Yu-Chen, who recklessly smarms her way onboard with little thought for consequences.

The rest of the goods are loaded, and a strange contingent of Azkaderra which board the Constant, a smaller ship in the flotilla. The ships set sail, with Friday squabbling with a strange woman in the hold for prime nesting ground. Yu-chen bunks with the Scholar Mengzhi after convincing him that she is an expert in the Arcane Mysteries.

After a brief encounter with a Maglion frigate in Maglion waters on day 10, with Duellos convincing them that their convoy was formed for convenience and protection. They arrive in Flenouwaye on day 22. Friday procures elements he requires for poisons, while Yu-Chen and Mengzhi dine at an exclusive restaurant, overhearing an interesting and ominous conversation between an old mendicant and a strange female warrior. This woman, Talis, joins the expedition to hunt the Darkness in the unexplored wilds around the colony.

On day 23 depart from Flen, and 10 days later, they see in the distance cyclonic storms which gives the sea its name. On day 37, as they hew towards the continent, the Constant catches fire in the hold. The Reliant “accidentally” presses onward while the Steadfast moves to aid the Constant. With difficulty the fire is put out, and the origin discovered: a piece of luggage that then disappears. The largest of the Azkaderra is horribly injured in the fire. Talis practices her swan dive while transferring between the two ships. Back on the Steadfast, further suspicious behavior keeps the fear of sabotage high.

A Maglion sail appears on the horizon on day 59, headed to intercept the Steadfast and the Constant. Fearing either suspicious authorities or Flenish pirates, Commander Duellos orders her ships into a nearby storm. The enfeebled Constant was forced to break away from the storm’s fury, but the pirates flounder in the massive waves as the Steadfast breaks through.

The Steadfast emerges from the wind and waves damaged but afloat on day 63. Spotting an pair of barrier islands, and beyond a great expanse of land, Duellos makes the decision to thread in between the islands rather than risking surge waves or the reefs in these unknown waters. The water is too shallow, and an error in seamanship runs the Steadfast aground.

Some supplies are lost, many are wounded, and several die in the wreck. In the bilge, the boatswain and the first mate are discovered dead, locked in a mortal combat that claimed both of them. The Captain is found comatose and is determined to have been drugged. Duellos assumes full command and orders the assembled craftsmen to plot out repairs, assisted by the engineering of Hirase. The night watch sees what looks like two torch lights on the shore, and the next day, a party lands on the mainland to determine the bearings of the expedition. It turns out they have drifted south of their goal, and will need to sail north.

At least a week is spent on resting, repairing, and then freeing the ship from the embrace of the sands. The Steadfast sails north on day 72, not knowing the fate of the _Reliant_or the Constant, and not knowing what else awaits them in this wild land.

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