For Glory, For Empire

Session 18, 3/12/2017

The party approaches the mysterious Journal in the hut of Mengzhi. The Journal’s emergence was accompanied by a blinding light. Outside, Arturian has just visited with Zim and Galen when the light bleeds forth from the hut of the Scholar. Inside, Ts’ao Hai and Rebecca are temporarily blinded and dazzled by the intense and sudden radiance.

Physically, the Journal looks like a winding scroll inside of a cubic, etched metal frame. The Journal identifies each member of the party, as well as the eavesdropping Artie, and invites him inside, where he is given a hug by his surprised cousin Ts’ao Hai. The Journal is questioned on various personal details, and is also asked about the stele. The Journal provides much information, telling them that the stele must be replaced as long as the Well is a threat, but it requires some quite exotic ingredients, including a rare basalt called “heart of the earth,” filings of precious metals, dust of the hardest elements, and blood of the most powerful extent race.

Turning to the party’s guiding Light, the Journal tells Talis that she is a Coronus of the Legion of Light, much to her surprise and confusion. It is explained that the Legion of Light is a minor cult in our day but seems widespread in the time the Journal comes from. The Journal invokes the name of Adapa and Ts’ao Hai has a little freakout. After some more questions, the Journal begins prophesying about troubles to come, including slavers arriving at the colony within two years. In addition, the party learns the Staakos will return soon, reforming on this Realm at the temple.

The Lantern informs the party that two of the outer stele are no longer functional. Seeking to question the Lantern about the Guardian of the Temple, Talis produces the summoning stone and is forced out of the hut by a sudden feeling of weakness. The Lantern informs the posse that Talis has found one of the markers, which summon the guardians. The new information is that there are 5 markers that can be reached within this realm, but they are all quite distant from the colony. During the conversation, Moccan allows the book to attempt to absorb the group’s knowledge, dropping Rebecca and Artie into unconsciousness for the next 6 hours. Mengzhi is tasked with getting certain information out of the book as everyone breaks for the day, troubled by these revelations.

The next day, the party begins to arrange for the transference of metal across the river. Once all the metal is delivered, Ts’ao Hai gets his new mithral chain shirt. After this is accomplished, another meeting of the colony is called to determine the colony’s attitude. The vote is decided in the favor of the good of the people, and only a modicum of restrictions. As the meeting breaks up, Arturian becomes familiar with the colony leaders and planners, while Talis orders the process of officially breaking the Steadfast up for parts. Also discussed is the eventual establishment of the ioun stone mine, and the exploration necessary to achieve its establishment. It is decided that Shopik and Xaxe will take masons to explore the quarry to the south. At the end of the discussion, the colony management is finalized for the month.

After the meeting breaks up, the watch horn sounds. The old monk, Tubayek, has returned to the settlement. As the party approaches him, Art notices that Tubayek looks worn and wearied from his travels. Tubayek holds up a book, says, “I think they are all dead,” and collapses on the shore. While Talis tends to the monk, experts in the Bea’txo language examine the text, which is written in a coded form of that tongue. They read the testament with growing alarm as it details the likely end of the Tumkayal Azkaderra on their journey to examine all the stele and approach the temple. The last entry details them entering the temple, expecting to never emerge again.

The party debates what to do with this information, and decides that it is well past time to talk to the Guardian with the Marker. The party asks the Lantern for various bits of information beforehand, including the fact that the Kambral we spoke to are coming to bring genocide to the Kambral near our colony. The Lantern now speaks like a particularly unpleasant longshoreman that Artie once had dealings with as a consequence of absorbing his memories.

The party crosses the river and speaks with the Kambral, warning them about the danger. They convince the Kambral that they can conceal their presence from their enemies, and begin planning a deception to protect them from their own kind.

The party approaches the stele, and talk with Selwinnian and Battuti from the Constant, now stewards left behind by the Tumkayal expedition. They discuss the journal and then explain that they are going to attempt to summon the guardian. The guardian turns out to be a Couatl, and asks what the party wants of him. The party fumbles through speaking with it, but eventually ask the Couatl to slow the Calling until they summon it for transport to the temple. The session ends with the Couatl departing, and the party uncertain of the future.

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Session 17, 3/5/2017

The session opens with Ts’ao Hai lounging on the Chun Ye while everyone else is working; Liu Fan comes to deliver the deck of cards that were used to divine one of the pirate’s fortunes last night, as well as news of one of the crew, Tovena Ravoush, going missing: a gambler who was present at the card game last night. Ts’ao Hai begins to search for the crew member, eventually reaching Li and learning that someone was seen swimming from the ship to the far shore.

With the help of Rebecca, the river is crossed; with the help of Hirase, the trail is found. Rebecca doubles back to inform and recover Talis, while Bon takes over watching the still unconscious poisoner suspect Fu. The party decides to follow the trail up river, doing so for several hours with no end in sight. As dusk falls, the party debates traveling further or setting up camp. They follow the trail further, and eventually decide to set up camp.

On the second watch, Ts’ao Hai hears noises in the bush and tries to quietly wake Talis. Failing to do so, he wakes her more deliberately and creatures come charging at them. Taken by surprise, the party receives a severe walloping from the feathered assault. Rebecca strikes a mighty blow, skewering one of the attacking beasts, while Talis dispatches another with flair. The last one is dragged down over several rounds of combat. The carcasses are stripped, and the journey continues the next day. The party sets a hard pace to try and make up ground while Rebecca briefly returns to the colony to relay news of their progress to Viceroy Duellos. When Rebecca returns to the party, she notices the Harrow deck that Ts’ao Hai has recently acquired and asks him about it. Ts’ao Hai is rather clueless about the matter.

The party gets close to the Tengu village, and decides to visit the bird-people for possible news and safety for the night. As the party approaches, they suddenly hear noises around them. Unsettled by the recent ambush, the party prepares to receive an attack, and a small figure emerges from the brush and takes a swing at Mia, Rebecca’s winged mount. Ts’ao Hai pivots to catch the creature on his rapier, which unfortunately turns out to be a tengu adolescent. Kalum intervenes to save the child from the worst of the blade, successfully preventing the strike from killing him.

Ts’ao Hai, horrified at his mistake, loses control of his gullet while Tails and Kalum move to comfort and treat the tengu adolescent. After a few minutes, many Tengu, led by Greensheen come and collect the wounded, explaining that the stick he was holding is a part of a rite of manhood, and that the whole incident was a misunderstanding.

Having explained the “attack,” the Tengu inform them that they did see the missing crew member passing by, headed along the river. The Tengu explain that they have seen many heading from all directions towards the Confluence recently, including some of their own. The party debate this news and decide that they are not sufficiently equipped to pursue Tovena into the influence of the Temple, and begin to head back to New Salam. Talis catches Greensheen and asks if the Tengu would be interested in a trade deal: services of Tengu scouts and training in field craft in exchange for whatever the Tengu might desire.

The party returns to Westgate after two days of travel. Talis assembles the council in order to hear the report. After some debate, the council seems to agree to the Tengu proposal. The party reports that as they returned home, they saw a stela in the river. The stela appeared to be broken, which might explain the increase in strange Temple-related behavior. The party begins to debate what we are going to do about this situation, and decide to speak to the remaining members of the Azkaderra party and with Scholar Mengzhi in order to determine what to do next.

Warden Bon reports that Fu has managed to kill himself during transport back to the jail cell under the town hall, after stealing Li’s dagger and stabbing Shopik during his escape attempt. The party has thus lost any potential intelligence the poisoner had.

The council determines that the metal from the last supply ship needs to be properly allocated, and that the colony needs access to a forge. The party determines that they need to discuss an agreement with the Kambral for use of their forge. The council decides to focus on building a Garbage Pit next, to establish basic sanitation infrastructure.

The party visits Mengzhi and informs him about the recent events. He examines the petroglyph and discovers some writing on the back in Bea’txo, visible through the Read Magic spell. Mengzhi also takes a look at Ts’ao Hai and notes that his magical aura has shifted and that the Harrow deck is related to the change. After examining the deck, the Scholar determines that one of the card is missing: “the Void.” Ts’ao Hai reclaims the potentially cursed deck as Talis asks to see one of the ratfolk brains. After the examination, the brain is fed to the Grondoks, along with Mengzhi’s favorite specimen bowl.

The next morning, the party crosses the river and goes to meet the remaining members of the Azkaderra party. After apologizing for waking them up at an ungodly hour in the morning, the party informs them that a damaged stela has been discovered. They react quite severely and with considerable distress. The party learns that the two left with the tent are not going to be capable of being helpful in repairing the stela, and bid them adieu.

The party heads to Anjis to talk business. They arrange for the colony’s smiths to share the forge space with the Kambral in exchange for their labor and some non-metal goods from the colony. The party agrees and heads back over to the colony to make the proper arrangements. After these are made, the party goes over to Zim and Galen’s hut to see about getting the items from Staakos repaired and researched. Afterwards, the party meets with the colony smiths and seals the deal for them to use space at the Kambral forge. Ts’ao Hai and Duellos put their heads together and come up with a plan for moving all the smithing materials across the river utilizing the ships that they have.

The party returns to Mengzhi and asks him about the message that Commander Duellos received from the Azkaderra. After he explains the likely providence of the mentioned ritual, Ts’ao Hai manages to ask him about the journal that Hirase and Bon brought back from the shrine. Mengzhi is somewhat reticent to talk about the journal, which he refers to as an entity made out of knowledge. The session ends as the party prepares to meet with the mysterious “journal.”

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Session 16, 2/27/2017
Dr. Moccan to the Poison Ward, please. Dr...

The session starts with the party entering Westgate and into a scene of commotion, with the ship Chun Ye joined by many fishing boats in the river. No sign of the smaller Liu Zhi and the Zhu Di. The colonists appear to be shouting at one another, with some sort of argument underway.

Hirase greets the group and explains that there was a disagreement amongst the colony as to the likely providence of the Great Expedition, with not all certain that the party would turn alive. General Lucat is also present at the center of the commotion, and has ahold of a stranger dressed entirely in black. The General welcomes Talis back with unaffected warmth and is surprised to see the group’s newly acquired livestock, and is flabbergasted to hear that there were other traders from Delim at the Gathering.

The stranger is accused of poisoning a member of the colony, as well as being suspected of other crimes. A lot has happened in the month that the Grand Expedition has been gone: Marcus has been murdered, Gael has been poisoned, and there has been an attack of ratfolk on the colony. Springing into action, Moccan performs a ritual and manages to help stabilize Gael, helping the scribe survive the night. The party learns more of the events that have unfolded since their departure from the colony, such as the hatching of the new grondoki and the subsequent terror caused by the “problem child” of the clutch.

The party decides to split up; Talis and Ts’ao Hai will go to see the prisoner and see what he has to say in his defense, while Moccan and Rebecca visit the Kambral across the river with the mithral and steel ingots. Tails and Ts’ao Hai arrive just in time to prevent the prisoner from escaping the not so secure custody of Li. The prisoner, Fu, is despondent and bitter about his treatment and professes a desire to leave the colony. He can’t provide a solid alibi for either Gael’s poisoning or the murder of Marcus, and is rather hostile to the colony and in particular to the General. He claims that Lucat is unfair and is running a military dictatorship. He also states that Marcus died in the battle, which it turns out contradicts accounts of the battle gathered afterward by the party. The party decides that there is a need to reinforce the jail with additional guards and reinforced security in the form of Shopik and Xaxe.

Across the river, Rebecca and Moccan present the metal ingots to Anjis. She is pleased with the mithral and has some interesting reactions to the steel that the group presents. When told about the Gathering, she claims that there should not be other Kambral on the continent, and blanches when the names of the “fake” Kambral are recited. Anjis argues that these Kambral must be shapeshifters or monsters of some kind, not what they seem. Rebecca is shown the stela, and its purposes are explained to her.

Talis and Ts’ao Hai go to investigate the scene of the crime upstairs in the town hall. They discover that the ink Gael was writing with seems to have been tampered with. Ts’ao Hai guards the door while Talis fetches Galen Brewerhorn to examine the evidence. After the poison is examined, a vial of tainted ink is recovered and the scene is decontaminated. Ts’ao Hai and Talis put their heads together and realize that there are plenty of motives someone could have for harming Gael: the matter of the Zalimiri Succession, personal rivalries, rivalries within the colony, and his role as an official in the colony. The party meets back up and swaps tales of woe and warning, and convenes to decide what to do. It is decided that further investigation is necessary.

The party interviews Brewerhorn about the Battle of Last Ueno, and learns that Marcus was found dead after the main clash with two clean incisions in his kidneys, having been sighted alive and well shortly before hand. The party learns that the ink vial contains the unknown poison in Gael’s body; the source of the scorpion poison is unknown. The party decides to interview General Lucat about his account of what happened at the Battle of Last Ueno. The party does not learn much of interest from the General, but do find out that Fu appears to have been checking the colony out and had been asking questions about Carmen Duellos and Gael. A few more facts are established: no one knows where Fu lives or sleeps, and Fu came in on the Fatima’s Mercy.

The party thank the General for his time, and then goes to interview the High Priest Bon. Bon doesn’t have anything to add to the story of the Battle of Last Ueno, but does receive a private lecture in the importance of hygiene. The party goes to interrogate Zim about Fu’s behavior on the boat; it turns out that Fu was skulking about the boat as well, asking many questions while being cagey about his own history.

The party goes to the prison to interrogate the prisoner once more, and discover that Fu is comatose in his cell, paralyzed. The group determines that he is likely poisoned. Ts’ao Hai, under the supervision of Friday, begins to search Fu, and discovers that there are numerous poisons on his person, as well as all sorts of concealed assassination equipment and clever devices. Unfortunately, some of the delicate containers are damaged in the search, and Fu begins to convulse from the leaked substances. Ts’ao Hai sacrifices his magic white pearl to delay the poison and allow Galen Brewerhorn to arrive and attempt to save Fu’s life.

In the medical ward, Gael is purged of poison and after some drama Fu is saved from the worst of the poison and left to rest uncomfortably. Carbatkin comes into the medical ward and inquires about Gael under insincere pretenses, and the party asks him about Fu and his interactions with Carbatkin and his underlings. They part after much sneering and exchanging of veiled threats.

The party moves to the beach to have a conversation while Moccan stands watches over Fu. During the conversation, Commander Duellos comes up to talk with the party about current events and the meeting of the Colony council. Various matters are discussed, including Bon, the investigation, the functioning of the colony in the absence of the expedition, and the jealousy of the smiths.

The Chun Ye is given permission to search the seas for… interesting things to find, whose providence will not be closely questioned. It is decided that Bon shall now be the Warden, and Moccan will become the colony’s High Priest. Late in the day, the Palah’s Respite arrives with new colonists and new supplies. The session ends with the conclusion of the meeting, a tallying of the new arrivals, and much talk of crafting.

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Session 15, 2/19/2017
A Night Hunter at the Roxbury

The session kicks off with our heroes suddenly beset by Sta’akos, the fearsome Night Hunter of legend. Janco the master smith of the Kambral hurled himself at the fiend, causing the blackguard to send deadly beams though the crowd at the Grugan fight, in turn prompting our heroes to face the Night Hunter in battle. Sta’akos is on the opposite side of the field from our heroes standing with his two strange servants. Sta’akos generates a great flaming sword and seems to wait for something while his ape beasts descend upon the Kambral. Talis takes out her starbow, launching a mighty arrow that strikes true upon the terror. Sta’akos turns and uses telekinetic force to drag Talis closer, while the rest of the party rushes to close the distance, Ts’ao Hai leading the way. The crowd erupts into robbery and murder as the whole scene becomes mad melee, with several opportunists taking advantage of the disarray.

As Ts’ao Hai gets close, two Vishkanya take offense at his interference and surround him. He teaches one a lesson in keeping its tongue in its mouth, before turning to face the other. The Grugan fight sees an ankheg burst out of the ground to attack the chief of the Grugan to the south, damaging his armor with acid. Rebecca charges towards the melee, and one of the ape beasts creates a cloud of flying metal, preventing the Cavalier’s lance from striking true. Ts’ao Hai continues to duel the Vishkanya as one of the ape beasts comes to his fight, dumping hot coals all over him. Moccan casts Entangling Roots, catching one of the ape beasts in the winding vines. Unfortunately, several Pymlion rush forward and try to eat the pegasus Mia, much to the displeasure of the winged horse and her rider. Chaos continues in the crowd, featuring a backhand from the giant and a panicked dog bite on a Pymlion. Darkness engulfs the area as Sta’akos lives up to his name as the Night Hunter, generating a sphere of deeper darkness. Rebecca spurs her mount and takes to the skies, trying to get out of the difficult situation of being surrounded by tiny anthrophages.

Ts’ao Hai continues his duel with the strange metal ape beast, having dispatched the Vishkanya with some assistance from Moccan and Tabitha, who pile on to his wing of the fight. The Pymlion, frustrated by the horse’s escape, tear apart a dog. Some of them also dare to strike the mighty Sta’akos. The fight between the Grugan continues without much progress while all this is going on. Sta’akos generates another beam and scythes down more Pymlion. Talis drops the starbow and draws her greatsword as she closes in to the main fight, seeking out the Night Hunter.

Ts’ao Hai dispatches the fiery ape beast with a flourish, but his rapier is damaged in the deed. Wounded and bereft of a working weapon, the pirate edges around the main fight, wary of plunging in due to his weakened state. Sta’akos gives fearful orders, sparking a chain of memory in Ts’ao Hai that leaves him further shaken and doubting on the edge of the melee. The various battles around the Sta’akos fight continue and resolve, the crowd going thinner due to casualties and flight. Talis plunges into the darkness and strikes down Sta’akos with a single great blow, the clothes of the Night Hunter dropping to the ground as the sword he wielded flamed out. Suddenly, the pot of metal filings in the hands of the metal ape beast sends its payload flying in all directions, gravely wounding much of the party, along with other surrounding combatants. The giant then clobbers the metal beast, bending one of its horns.

Kalum tends to Moccan, who was nearly slain by the metal shards. Talis strikes the final blow against the metal ape beast, creating another little maelstrom of metal that slays Janco, the Kambral that started the fight. More injuries occur as the various proxy fights continue around them; the chieftain of the North wins in the center, as the tengu shivs the bookie that holds Ts’ao Hai’s winnings. The assistant smith slays the last Pymlion with a mighty blow, and Talis moves to heal the wounded on the field, saving some of the Grugan lieutenants from expiring.

Ts’ao Hai finds some rough stones among the Vishkanyas’ possessions, as Talis attempts to recover her starbow from the Grugan Chieftain of the South. They decide to go to The Oracle to decide what penalty the party should pay for violating the boundaries of the field of honor in their haste to engage Sta’akos. Meanwhile, Ts’ao Hai asks Moccan to examine the gear of the fallen Night Hunter. All of it is magical, but Moccan can’t determine anything useful about the boots, the cloak, and the hilt. He does identify the pantherskin armor as being an “Armor of the Shadow Lord,” an evil intelligent item. The hilt also detects as evil. The armor and the cloak are both broken from the fight and the explosion.

The party attempts to negotiate with the Grugan chief, hoping to resolve the issue of the starbow’s return without resorting to the Oracle. First the party offers the dinosaur hides, which isn’t enough. Then they add the masterwork longspear that Talis wields to the pile, which is still not enough due to the influence of the Grugan bride. Apparently, the Grugan wants Talis to join the tribe as payment for the return of the bow, or perhaps even to have Westgate confederated with the Grugan tribe. Talis is very confused, and attempts to figure out how to respond, but is relieved of the burden due to not being the “chief” of the village, and thus not having the rank to authorize such a course of action. Eventually the party adds some of their potions (barkskin, cure light wounds) and the deal is finally sealed. In the morning, Ts’ao Hai’s weapon is repaired due to the magical prowess of Moccan, much to the relief of the pirate.

The party begins making arrangements to transmit their goods back to the colony. The party also seeks out the Azkaderra who sold the goods in order to identify some of the items taken from the Night Hunter. The boots of Sta’akos are Tremor-sense Boots, while the cloak of Sta’akos is a Cloak of Fiery Vanishing. The party goes in search of someone who can guide them back to the village without braving T-Rex Cliff. They are eventually successful, and settle in to wait for the gem-cutters to finish their work. Ts’ao Hai has some weird feelings of being watched during this time, but chalks it up to being out of rice wine. While the party waits, Moccan plays around with the fabric of the planes yet again, winning three berries the color of arterial blood. Ts’ao Hai foolishly tries one, finding they taste of blood. The berries don’t seem poisonous, much to the displeasure of Moccan.

Eventually, the party sets out for the old homestead. First heading east down a long gentle slope, then turning north toward a previously unknown tributary of Hiquts Rill. After traveling for several days following the river, the party comes to realize they are approaching the Temple from the south. The rainy season begins, clouds bursting overhead in torrents of rain, thinning out the provisions to be gained from foraging and slowing the trip back home. The party decides to double back and follow a trail to get away from the Confluence and head toward New Salam, slowly traveling past the nymph’s glen towards home. The party returns to Westgate safely after two weeks of travel, if a little wet and low on provisions, but with two donkeys, two aurochs, and plenty of smelted metal.

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Session 14, 2/12/2017
The Gathering Part II: Electric Boogaloo

The adventure renews as the party faces the wonders and delights of the Gathering, a festival of indigenous cultures and art mashed together with outbursts of wholesome, old-fashioned violence. Moccan returns from his vision quest and rejoins the group; the group has him examine the objects acquired from the Pymlion. Moccan determines that the winged serpent stone is magical, and has communication magic imbued into it. Its full purpose will be revealed later.

Dusk settles over the Gathering; both violence and commerce are now fair game. A conflict is brought before the Oracle between some Ratfolk and a Strix at the painted wagon. Rebecca sets about looking for some weaponsmiths, noticing the Kambral and the Grugan as possible options.

While she looks, the albino Pymlion Oracle on the wagon’s roof seems to decide in favor of the Ratfolk and the Strix is tossed into the pit of boars guarded by Jaguarfolk. The Strix makes good its escape with some swift gliding and flees the scene to the amusement of most.

Moccan, meanwhile, looks for other Tigerfolk Dunyabetia and is disappointed in his search. He also keeps an eye out for insider market information, noting that the weapons and armor are the best selling items, although the metal armor on offer is not too popular. The giant also receives numerous visitors, interested in his working with wood.

Among the other merchants is an Azkaderra who seems to be selling scrolls that aren’t getting much attention from the assembled natives. This Azkaderra seems to be of a different ethnicity than those the party met on the ship. After a short conversation, the party barter out a trade to try to identify the rings and the carving in their possession. The carving is a powerful magic item that can summon help from one of the seven “Sentinels” to keep the temple from unleashing “evil and death.” The shrine rings also hold potent magic, with the blue ring protecting against cold, the green against acid and poison, the red against fire, the yellow against lightning, and the purple against sonic attacks.

The party divvies up the rings among themselves, now appreciating their value. The Azkaderra learns of the new colony and asks about the two brothers who lived in the dugout. The party explains that they haven’t been seen and ask about their whereabouts. The Azkaderra merchant can offer no insights, but agrees to visit the colony. The party offers more items for identification: the sash that Ts’ao Hai has as a gift from the Azkaderra is a Fruitful Sash, and the small box he has is a Noble’s Vigilant Pillbox. Both items are wonderfully suited to the pirate’s life and his ostentatious taste in fashion. The last wand from the shrine is a Wand of Remove Sickness with 31 charges. The 7 scrolls in the satchel from the shrine are parchments of Invisibility, Scorching Ray, Ray of Enfeeblement, Detect Magic, Open/Close, Lesser Restoration, and Plane Shift. Talis’s bow is also identified as a Starbow. When the party shows the magical stones collected from the chasm, the Azkaderra identifies them as iounite stones. The Azkaderra points the party to the Vishkanya gem cutters for assistance with the gems.

The party then goes to parlay with the Kambral, wherein Rebecca insults the work of their assistant Janco. The Kambral negotiator, Ruan, states that they can barter weapons/armor, raw ingots, favors, and useful items. The Kambral are interested in establishing a supply line to the colony for metal ingots, but want the party to kill Staakos the Night Hunter as payment, a being which they call “blackness personified” that can kill with blasts controlled by his mind.

The description given of this being is quite fearsome; he is 7 and a half feet tall, wearing animal-folk skins. There are many rumors about this being, including that he is not from the continent, and is a “kutsa.” He is rumored to come from the Confluence of the Great Rivers, from the Well there, but other rumors claim that he does not come from the Confluence at all, and in fact avoids the area. He travels alone most often, but sometimes is accompanied by great beasts.

The party talk about their colony, mentioning the Kambral that have settled there. These Kambral are quite interested when they hear about the other Kambral at our village. Their reaction to the names of the Westgate Kambral contain quite a bit of greed, which Ts’ao Hai notices. They promise to come two Gatherings from now, to travel with the Westgate delegation to the colony proper. The Kambral are not eager to discuss their settlement, but do give away that they live in mountains to the south. The party gets a list from the Kambral of the materials they have available. Hot bartering action ensues between Kambral and Westgaters. The party turns to the iounite stones as their chief trade good. The party has in their possession the following raw stones: a dusty rose, pale ruby, pink and green, scarlet and blue, dark green, mulberry, onyx, silver, and a gold. The Kambral merchant, Ruan, directs us to Jiao the Vishkanya to get them properly appraised.

The party majority heads over to the Vishkanya while Rebecca heads over to the giant to place an order for javelins and lances. They settle on a deal and Rebecca pays up front, which results in a horrific death for a goat. Back at the Vishkanya stall, we present the stones to the Snakefolk. The valuation of the stones is as follows: the onyx is worth 6,000 and will make one healthier, while the silver is dependent on the cut but is probably worth 1,600 and makes one better at maneuvers in combat. The gold has to do with language and is worth 1,000, the dusty rose is worth 2,000 and makes one harder to be hit. The pale ruby is worth 1,600 and makes one harder to be found, with the pink and green being worth 3,000 and makes one more likable. The scarlet and blue is worth 3,000, making one smarter, the dark green is worth 2,000 (but quite a bit more worked, up to 4x) and keeps one safe from poisons. Finally, the mulberry is worth 4,000 and it makes it easier to talk to people.

The party agrees to trade the silver and the pale ruby to Jiao in exchange for having the others cut, and the jade in our possession also being improved. What follows is the result of Jiao’s work: the finished gold ioun stone grants the wearer a language. The dusty rose ioun stone is a +1 insight bonus on AC. The onyx ioun stone gives a +2 stackable enhancement bonus to CON. The pink and green ioun stone gives a +2 enhancement bonus on CHA. The scarlet and blue gives a +2 enhancement bonus to INT. The dark green ioun stone gives Detect Poison within 5 ft. The mulberry ioun stone gives a +5 competence bonus on Bluff and Diplomacy. The party trades the mulberry to the Kambral for a steel and a mithral ingot.

Ts’ao Hai goes drinking and finds out that the Staakos is a name that ends parties real fast. Staakos is thought legendary by some, but others claim to have seen him at gatherings slaying people. Talis hears the legend of the Night Hunters, servants of the darkness in the temple, of whom the current title holder is our familiar friend Staakos. While Ts’ao Hai is out schmoozing and Talis is playing chaperon, Moccan buys a pair of mules for the colony.

Afterward, the party kicks back and watches all the skirmishes that break out, blood and coin flowing in equal measure. Meanwhile, Rebecca seeks out fellow cartographers and is disappointed on this night, finding no knights of the compass and sextant present.

The next day, Moccan practices his new art and shifts into the nature realm, seeing that the plateau is occupied by several animals in the parallel plane. Before he can shift back, the animals flee and the water begins to broil. Moccan hides in the brush and watches. A great long neck erupts from the lake, a giant aquatic dinosaur taking an antelope. When he returns, he is surrounded by nagaji, who admire his feat and tells him that he has entered the “World of Nature and Beasts.” They invite him to come swimming in the holy lake with them and want him to meet their shaman. Ts’ao Hai puts on a juggling act while Moccan is messing around with the fabric of the planes.

The party completes the trade with Ruan, the Kambral merchant, acquiring two ingots to deliver to the Kambral back at the colony. The party again promises to meet the Kambral two gatherings from now, explaining how to find Westgate. As dusk settles, the Grugan gather for their conflict. Ts’ao Hai wagers 20 gold on the north group as the two companies square off. The fight begins with a flurry of arrows and the striking of spears! The south holds the advantage as the two chiefs square off in the center. As the fight intensifies, it is suddenly interrupted by an attack on the crowd far to the south. Blood flows and limbs fly as one name fills the air: Staakos! The night hunts!

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Session 13, 2/5/17
A Gathering of Peers

The group awoke on the southern bank of a rapid, canyon river. The group headed south toward the steep, mist-haloed hill where The Gathering takes place, Rebecca scouting ahead on her pegasus and the group did their best to keep up while exploring and hunting along the way.

During the afternoon of the first day, the group heard a massive beast some distance off in the bush, that was later described by Rebecca as a huge sloth, and they chose to skirt around before returning to the trail.

On the second morning, at a confluence of trails below the steep climb up to the Gathering, the group came together with a half-dozen Pymlion coming from the other trail. Trinkets and cultural understanding were traded; no murdering or inappropriate meals were had. A small, soft, stone carving of a winged serpent that glowed and rang for Talis.

Half a day was spent on the warning-laden, switch-back trail to the top of the plateau. Near the top, a group of purple-skinned humanoid warriors, led by a chief riding a large creature of unknown origin, came up the trail behind the group aggressively, but slowed themselves, and there was no conflict with the group. They turned out to be Grugan from the far north, and they were at The Gathering selling weapons and armor not of their manufacture, and expecting trouble.

The massive plateau of the Gathering was mostly a crystal-clear lake spotted with many very small islands that seemed to hold special significance to several of the groups gathered there, with the traders and merchants on the northeast shore, and and a cleared area on the north shore for the airing of grievances.

The merchants in the most prestigious spot was an entire camp with two tents and a painted wagon of Delim manufacture. There was a Baerish man and his son, an aloof young woman, an old wise crone, and an albino, narcoleptic Pymlion chained atop the wagon. Talis and Kalum were surprised to see a Baerish trader here. Kalum made a mistake of etiquette, and tried to make a transaction before sundown and was backhanded for his trouble, though he responded in kind with a watery bludgeoning that shook the Baerish merchant. The conflict was quickly quelled by the strange albino Pymlion who laid out the rules.

Groups arrived throughout the afternoon and dusk. Other groups of Pymlion were also in attendance, besides the previously mentioned group. Black panther catfolk and tengu both brought prisoners of the other race. Leopard catfolk guarded a pit full of wild boar. Vishkanya displayed their wares of jewelry and gemstones. A group of ratfolk had many cages of animals and magical beasts. A lumbering, woodsy giant arrived late. A reinforced wagon guarded by Kambral arrived from the south just as the sun set.

Each group arrived and made camp and stayed to themselves. Kalum went from group to group sharing his gift of water, doing his best to show his positive intentions even when language was of the utmost barrier. Not everyone spoke Pymlion, and Talis made note that her original intentions of imploring to those of like mind to help her with supplying the Grippli and creating a group to oversee the security of the Temple was even more daunting than she’d had thought.

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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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