For Glory, For Empire

Session 12, 1/29/2017
The Tyrant of the South

The adventure resumed with our heroes in the shadowy interior of the shrine in the heart of Nagaji village. As their eyes adjusted to the tenebrous conditions of the interior, they saw that the massive serpentine body hinted at was connected to a white haired humanoid torso. The strange being was surprised by their appearance, and offered them services in exchange for the offering of the magical precious stones the party had collected earlier. She inquired as to whether we are here for the injured person under her care, who turned out to be Rebecca Skyes, a Dunyabetia Cavalier, who had been traveling on a mission to map the continent. After Talis gave her medical care via a big profusion of the Light, she woke up and thanked the intrepid explorers for their assistance.

In a free ranging, expansive conversation the party applied many inquiries to both the holy being of the shrine and to the villages holding her prisoner. The villagers are forbidden from approaching the temple, known as the Hole in the World, and the delicious Grippli babies found around it by the edict of the Enslaved, who called it a place of “bent perspective.” The Enslaved expressed a desire to leave the village shrine, offering a reward of rings in exchange for securing her release. After much debate in and out of character, the party convinced the Enslaved to try creating a clergy, delegating her authority and holiness to a villager temporarily. The Enslaved enacted the suggestion with a great theatrical flourish, putting on a display she called “The Rising,” which impressed nearly everyone very greatly. The event was followed by a feast, and far too many tall tales from the voice of Ts’ao Hai, who enjoyed the rice wine with his trademark liberality.

The group left the temple before remembering to look for their reward, returning and talking their way back into the temple. They discovered a small treasure trove of magical items: a jewelry box with 5 magical rings, each bearing a different stone (jade, sapphire, ruby, yellow diamond, and amethyst), a satchel containing 8 magical scrolls, and a bandoleer with 3 wands. Moccan learned of the wonders of Detect Magic that day, as well as the identity of two of the wands: minor image (8 charges) and shield (21 charges).

Having been rewarded for their sage counsel, the group returned to the crystalline deposits around the fissure, utilizing Rebecca and her Pegasus mount Mia for a bird’s eye view of the situation. Moccan used Detect Magic to learn more about the stones and identify more samples for collection. His research led him to conclude that concentrating Detect Magic on them for about 3 rounds was extremely hazardous to one’s health. The group collected 10 stones, with Ts’ao Hai collecting 2 near the edge of the fissure with both great and not so great grace.

Resuming their travels southward towards the Gathering, the group encountered herds of larger ground birds (christened the Greater Southern Ground Bird) and a cool, refreshing spring. While camping, the party was assaulted by a pair of dark feline shapes. After a fierce battle, in which Rebecca bore much of the anger of their enemies, the group identified them as were-panthers. Knowing Rebecca’s peril, Moccan administered an herb to counteract the lycanthropy. The poison in the herbs nearly killed her, and the group had to spend several days allowing her to recover.

Further scouting uncovered a nest of large constrictor snakes, who will not be appearing further in this adventure log. After marking another stand of valuable hardwoods, the party was ambushed by another pack of Deinonychus, who fell to the combined might of the motley crew of conquistadors. The path southward led them to a rich mile of green herbs, whose culinary and alchemical value would surely please Friday. The jungle is as deadly as it is beautiful, however, and their pleasant find was disturbed by the arrival of a tyrant lizard king, a massive theropod who descended upon them with bestial wrath and primal hunger. The party fled through the jungle, coming to a cliff with the Mesozoic monster right on their heels. Some flung themselves down the cliff, trusting on their agility and acrobatic prowess to save them. Others climbed down with more caution, looking to cover the retreat of their fellows. Ts’ao Hai in particular displayed a daredevil’s derring-do, descending the cliff with the Elder race’s legendary grace (if after an initial tumble.)

After the Cretaceous horror left in frustrated rage, the group reconvened and proceeded down the canyon, discovering a badger dam and the tasty badgers that were making it. After a meal, the group crossed the swift canyon river and made camp on the other side, closing the session between the two ramparts of the canyon walls.

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Session 11, 1/8/17
Blind Hope

In the nymph’s grove, all but Tabitha, Talis and Kalem were blind. The plan was to head back to the Tengu village north of Hiqut’s Rill to see if they could help us, by either curing our blindness, or sending news to Westgate to send help.

However, after leaving the grove, the blind characters began to see the world in outlines the color of the light of Bensily, though it had slight variations from the visible world. Without any knowledge of the Realms, it took encounters with an Ogre-faced spider and its minions; a huge, mystical waterfall; a cave with a huge claw print of the dragon-esque Dondepac; a run-in with a pack of pouncing veliceraptors; and sheltering for recovery on a cliff face where no cliff existed, to send the group back to the grove for help from the nymph.

The nymph ended up curing the blind characters and then made a suggestion for us to move on carefully because it was not safe for us to stay in or near the grove. The group carefully made it’s way onward south-by-west from the grove, continuing with the plan to explore the area in the direction of the Gathering.

The group came across several resources over the next several days, one such being a small rift with several colors of crystal formed around it.

On day 4 of exploration, the group came to a village of Nagaji. The village met us armed with farm implements, but we were able to show them we meant no harm. We asked them if they would like to trade with us and showed them the crystals that were found. These were met with awe and reverence, and we were shown to the village’s temple.

The group was shown into the small temple, the doorways out blocked. A sinister, sibilant voice from above greets the group while a snake-like figure unwinds from the rafters…

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Session 10, 11/27/16

The session pre-began with the party attending a meeting hosted by the Tumkayal. After seating and serving their guests, the Azkaderra explained the legend of Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken (Adapa), and how he incurred the wrath of Aitzurra the Father and was Sundered for his crimes. The least of his pieces dwells within the temple at the Confluence, and exerts an evil influence on the surrounding lands. It is the duty of the Tumkayal to secure the temple and the standing stones about it, and for this purpose they have come to the continent. Various party members asked questions (or made fools of themselves) and the Azkaderra answered them, mostly.

The session began with the Azkaderra offering gifts as a parting gesture, before they ventured into the jungle on their perilous mission. After the Azkaderra had given their gifts and made their farewells, the party turned its attention to potion brewing and administration. Once that was done, the Grand Expedition was launched, taking a boat upriver to find the village of the birdpeople. While the Tengu were understandably not pleased to see Moccan, no violence erupted, and Greensheen welcomed the party to a dinner of spicy, stir-fried bugs. Talis worked her diplomatic wiles, finding Greensheen skeptical of cooperation with other tribes like the Jaguar, but willing to offer lore and information about the surrounding area.

The party headed for the Confluence, briefly encountering some Cranefolk along its edges. A parlay was had, but Talis was not very successful in engaging them. They paid the most attention to Moccan, who they mistook for the master of the group. He didn’t learn much of value, except that the Crane prey on the Grippli, finding their young delectable. The party improvised a river crossing with a felled tree and pushed onward.

The party then arrived at the Confluence, marveling at the meeting of so many waters and the engineering mystery of its many canals. After taking a dip or two, the party encountered the Grippli. The frogmen were wary of the party, and initially wanted nothing to do with them, urging them to leave and disengaging from conversation. Talis won their respect through her oratory and a demonstration of her nimbus, which the Grippli appeared to revere.

The party was led to the nomadic Grippli village, witnessing a people under great duress. Talis attempted to convince one of the Grippli to come with them, to try and drum up support for the Grippli’s holy mission with the other tribes, but no Grippli was willing to abandon their sacred duty of protecting the temple. They parted amicably, with promises to try and win support for the Grippli, and with Ts’ao Hai accidentally spooking them by revealing that he was Bea’txo, an ancient enemy of their people. To be fair, it might not be the first time that a whole society has uprooted and fled for the hills after meeting Ts’ao Hai, so he can’t blame them. On the way back across the river, hippopotamuses tried to bite us and drag our corpses to the bottomauses of the river, but were slain for their trouble.

The party passed by the Tengu village again, speaking with Greensheen about their meeting with the Grippli. Greensheen was adamant that the Tengu would not enter the Confluence, and so immediate aid for the Grippli does not seem likely.

The time now came for the party to turn south towards the Gathering. The group decided to explore hexes along the way, finding mulberry bushes and silk moths, and also a small group of eight legged freaks.

After giving up on building a press to print newspapers with which to squash the bugs, and just using cold steel and water to do it, the group pressed southward, finding an area of great natural beauty. Within was the even greater beauty of a nymph, a beauty so potent that over half the party went blind. The group managed to prove their honorable intentions, swearing to respect the nymph’s territory and to leave her alone, but were still left with most of their members down to blindness and no easy cure in sight.

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Session 9, 11/20/16
Fight Over Love; The Colony Works; Orders are Made; Allies in Light

With the recovery of the Constant and the arrival of Fatima’s Mercy, a celebration of reunion, hope, and joy opens the session, with introductions of new travelers including Jewel Raven the sailor and fisherwoman, Mr. Ti Bon Fu dressed all in black, Kalum Duskai the Master of Water, Galen Brewerhorn the Brewer, and Zim Ommeera the silent.

The celebration was broken by a fight over love. Two of the colonists decided to fight over Dorotea. One brings his mighty fists, the smaller one brings an axe. The fists win. Dorotea is missing; a search is had, and she is found “picking breadfruit” which now means having sex with her fiance, a third farmer. The winning colonist is banished and taken by Markus the Warden, who escorts him to the Mercy to take him back to Zalamir.

The work on the pier continues, and plans for a lumber mill are begun.

Talis approached the Kambral smiths about a suit of armor and a bow, and Stokil takes measurements and asks what the motif should be. Talis asks for rays of light and he suggests a sunrise. Kalem requests armor as well.

Talis and Kalem then visit the Azkaderra at their camp atop the hill with the stela. All are busy doing various things, but Tobriska is being put through a withering training as punishment for some transgression. She is working a kata between two foes, one Gronk holding a shield, and Lantish with a flail of light that Tobriska has to beat back, all set to the rhythm of a song.

Ezpantu asks Talis about needing a bow, and he offers Tobriska’s for her to try. This really pisses off the barbarian whirler. Ezpantu points to a butt to try out the bow, and says that if Talis can use it better than Tobriska, the bow is hers to keep. She looks around and asks for arrows, but Ezpantu says if one is worthy to use the bow, arrows will not be needed. Talis notices an inscription on the bow that is almost exactly like the inscription on the pillars outside the Temple of Light in Flen.

She takes a deep breath, remembers it is about Light prevailing over darkness, activates her nimbus, pulls back on the bow, and an arrow of light blazes ready for action. She lets loose and it hits the butt target dead center. Tobriska, in a fit of pique, flung one of her swords at the butt as well. It was buried next to the arrow of light, vibrating angrily, just off-center. Tobriska turned from her defeat, throwing down her other sword in anger and stormed out of camp.

Talis thanks Ezpantu for the gift, and pressed for details of the Azkaderra mission there, as it seems that Legion of Light and the Azkaderra might have parallel goals. Ezpantu invites all interested parties back at midnight that night to hear their tale.

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Session 8, 11/14/16

The Chun Ye bore our intrepid explorers and their wise cat-folk guide north northwest across the sea, towards the island of Baiyan (as Ts’ao Hai insisted on calling it.) Along the way, another island was sighted to the west, craggy and mountainous, a great castle of unshaped stone erupting out of the sea foam. Giant flying reptiles soared in the air currents cast about by the island. A short debate on naming erupted, ending with the island being christened Moccan Island in honor of the catfolk.

The Chun Ye arrived at Baiyan, sending a party to search the wreck of the Constant while Ts’ao Hai led another group toward where he thought survivors were likely to have taken shelter. As they approached the lagoon, the party heard splashing and voices speaking in Bea’txo. What they unfortunately did not notice was the large sentinel watching over the bathers, and Hirase’s decision to load her musket in caution provoked him into attacking.

A short battle erupted, with Ts’ao Hai taking quite the thrashing even as the party gave as good as it got. They felled Gronk just in time for two Azkaderra to arrive on the scene: Pantxike and Tobriska. Pantxike cast a spell to protect Gronk’s life, while Tobriska moved to aid and control the volatile Gronk. Unfortunately Moccan reacted poorly to her presence, attempted to intimidate her into cowering away, and another short tussle ensued, with Ts’ao Hai tackling the catfolk and enduring the ire of Tabitha. Eventually, everyone got calmed down and apologies were exchanged. Pantxike and Tobriska escorted them to the survivors of the Constant, with Moccan and Tabitha following behind.

The captain of the Constant greeted them warmly, and told them how the ship came to be there and their struggles since. Roughly half of the ship’s original compliment had survived, largely thanks to the skills of the Azkaderra, who remained somewhat apart as they spoke. Arrangements were made for the survivors to be transported to the Chun Ye and delivered to the colony.

Afterwards, the party dispersed and began a series of conversations: Ezpantu Dotriv of the Azkaderra attempted to build rapport with Moccan to poor effect, and Hirase approached Ezpantu in turn and attempted to smooth things over with more success. Ezpantu mentioned that the Azkaderra were not interested in being colonists, saying “You do not know much about the land you have chosen to live in. We have come here to deal with an ancient darkness.”

Hirase made an offer to work out an exchange for the Azkaderras’ knowledge of this “evil”, to which Ezpantu seemed amenable to. Gronk eventually worked up the courage to bellow an apology to Moccan, and that particular hatchet was buried. Talis tried to get Tobriska to apologize for her lack of tact in the tense conflict earlier, and sort of succeeded. Hai chatted Ixaka and Pantxike up, sampling some of their coconut liquor and holding his own, at least for the first two drinks. Hirase and Gronk patched things up, with Hirase apologizing for alarming Gronk with her musket.

Hai woke up the next day with his head completely numb. He was tempted to think it was still totally worth it. The Constant survivors were loaded onto the Chen Yu safely, and the ship made for Westgate, encountering the Fatima’s Mercy on the way back.

Following the integration of the survivors to the colony and the reception of the resupply vessel, the ruling council gathered and decided to undertake a grand expedition with numerous goals: contacting native villages, discovering the Confluence, scouting hexes in order to secure a new territory for the colony, and attending a Gathering.

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Session 7, 11/6/16

Talis, Moccan, and a concussed Hirase awake the next morning and begin to make their way towards the Jaguar village. A group of Jaguar-folk meet them along the trail. Talis makes nice; Moccan translates. The group escorts them to the village.

Talis makes a grand entrance unknowingly using her Nimbus of Light, which makes quite the impression. An older Jaguar-man greets them in peace.

Talis presents a hand-made gift she brought for the occasion. The old one is less than impressed but is diplomatic and invites the group to have dinner with the village. Talis also presents directions on how to approach Westgate for safety and/or trade.

Moccan spends the evening learning alchemical formulas from the old one. Talis finds out more information about a Temple that is nearby that is hiding quite the mystery. Evidently, several local tribes have begun visiting the deserted temple. There’s a place within that no one has returned from. The old one says that is a great source of Evil and Talis vows to find a way to “make the ‘Well of Evil’ run dry.”

Talis, Moccan, and Hirase return to Westgate and tell their tale. The Major/General Lucat has misgivings about making friends with “the natives,” but mostly keeps them to himself.

A few days later, a group of cat-folk are spotted approaching. A greeting party is rounded up by Carmen and goes to greet the visitors after they cross the river. The visitors turn out to be cheetah-men passing through on their way to the Gathering under the full moon Karos. No hostilities, but also long term diplomacy was accomplished.

Later that same day, four ships are seen approaching the mouth of the Hiquts Rill. One Maglioshi merchant ship, Darabon’s Fortune, is clearly being chased by three others of a radically different design. The village offers the merchantman to anchor in the river, and when one of the three others moves to prevent that, fire and blood is loosed upon it. That ship breaks off its maneuver, and after some tense discussions, a parlay is called.

The Darabon’s Fortune was a Maglioshi colony ship on it’s way to colonizing somewhere south of “The Rill”. They were not pleased the Empire had beat them to this spot. The three others were Bea’txo designed multi-hull ships made from specific tropical trees, all loyal to Ts’ao Hai, exiled Bea’txo freebooter.

That night, everyone played nice and feasted well together. Midday the next day, the Darabon’s Fortune headed south for a pristine space of their own.

Ts’ao Hai and Carmen were exchanging news about the circumstances of the colony, when Hai delivered the news that he knew where the shipwreck of the “Constant” was, and quickly a rescue mission was put together using Hai’s primary ship.

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Session 6, 10/30/16
Meet Moccan and New Salam's First Delegation

The group made rolls for New Salam’s stability and economy, and approved the building of a watchtower.

Hirase, Talis, Xaxe, and Shopik finished clearing the final Hex. After being ambushed by three 15-foot snakes, the group meets Moccan and his little kitty Tabitha (a 100 lb. Tiger cub).

Moccan joins the group and they head back to Westgate were Moccan raises a stir among the village because he’s a Catfolk.

After a couple of days of downtime, a delegation is sent to a village of Jaguar-folk up North. The group takes the time to clear the hex along the way when they were set upon by a group of Nagaji. Talis’ senses evil, then gets knocked to her butt by a gigantic bull rush. Arrows rain down among the party causing bleed damage, which eventually causes Strength damage. Tabitha and Moccan take down two, while the rest of the group whittles down the other three.

The group decides to make camp and heal and begin again the next day.

Evidently, the group has stumbled upon a conflict between the cat and lizard folk. Hmm… politics.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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