Before leaving the Stupid Freaking Leaping Demons™ shrine to Demogorgon, the party resolved to examine what was in the room above the well. But not before Dacien had fireballed the room through the well grating twice just to be safe, after Antony had lured them into the path of the spell. It turned out to be a horde of angry, singed, purple-arsed baboons that flocked over the party as they opened the door but soon fell to Mendel’s arrows and Jardek’s axe. The chamber was large and vaulted, with a throne at the far end, but covered in grime from either end of the baboons’ digestive systems. Antony noticed grooves scraped in the floor in front of the throne as if it had been dragged out form the wall. This secret door led to a final alcove holding two chests, engraved with images of the righteous being burnt and tortured. Having neatly triggered/disarmed the fireball trap, the chests were opened to find a haul of coins, a spiked shield and a wand.
The fog had lifted as the party set out south. Urol was quiet and unenthusiastic about leading the party, and Tavey clung to Mendel’s side with the loss of Amella. A rumble was heard in the distance – and peering above the canopy two volcanoes could be seen to the west, dark smoke pluming above their peaks. The party continued south, navigating clear of the local fauna they encountered. Zhedd charmed a giant constrictor snake that snuck into their camp one night. A second night, the party’s rest was interrupted by 4 loud booming noises within the camp which jarred them to the bone. Four figures, dressed in red robes, surrounded the camp, and began throwing balls of fire into their midst. They proved to be adept martial artists when encountered, paralysing Krunk with a blow to the base of the spine, and almost killing Antony, but they were soon picked off by the rest of the party. One was kept alive for questioning – and through clever use of Detect Thoughts and Zone of Truth, revealed much about his intentions to the party. He stated that he was a Follower of Bozdogan, known to many of the others as Loki, sent from the nation of Hule to explore the Isle of Dread. He spoke little to avoid revealing too much information, but Dacien’s spell could interpret his surface thoughts. It appeared the Huleans had an encampment on a small island to the south of the archipelago and were exploring the island for sites where clay was abundant where they could seed their ores – the same ores the party had encountered near Sasserine in the pirate cove. When asked about working with the pirates, again the captive kept quiet, but his thoughts revealed a distant city that they seemed to operate from – although interestingly his thoughts indicated there had been some falling out between the Hulean agents and the pirates themselves. The agent affirmed that he would take no further action against the party and had no interest in Farshore, so was allowed to flee to the south.
The next day, the party finally came upon a large 50ft high wall of dark stone that spanned the jungle before them. Urol indicated that this was the Wall that kept the local village of Tanaroa safe from the perils in the jungles of the island. Following the wall, they came upon some large gates, guarded by some dark-skinned tribal natives. They gesticulated towards the party with their spears, and then at the volcanoes in the distance. Eventually they were calmed when the village leader, an aged woman named J’kal appeared. The party were ushered into the village at spear-point and cleansed by the shaman before being given hospitality. The party were housed in the Tiger clan, and there appeared to be 3 other clans in the village – the only others mentioned were the Boar clan and the Sea Turtle clan. The following day, J’kal met with the party and explained that she had dealt with Larissa (Lavinia’s mother, who had originally established the colony of Farshore) to try and establish trade from the isle of Dread to the Known World. However, she had not heard from any of the settlers in Farshore or Larissa in many moons. J’kal was very willing to trade with the party, who wanted most of their payment in pearls. In order to get to the colony of Farshore, J’kal explained, the party would have to head south to the coast to another of the ‘Seven Villages’, Mora. There, the Sea Turtle clan would be able to use canoes to take the party across the water to Farshore – they would also have a better supply of pearls. Two guides were offered – from the Tiger and Sea Turtle clans – to escort the party to Mora. The party used the rest of the time to relax and recover, although the sound of Jardek chewing leaving and spitting them into clay pots whilst panel beating copper coins into a crude, leaky, alcohol still did spoil the tropical island paradise somewhat. J’kal also explained the villagers fear of the volcanoes – which they named the Fangs of Zotzilra – that the previous spiritual leader was a faithful follower of Zotzilra (determined by the party to be Rathanos, an immortal of energy and fire). Since his death, none had made the pilgrimage to the volcanoes to offer worship, and this had displeased the god. J’kal dismissed this as superstition, but admitted several had claimed seeing visions in the flames of their hearth fires recently.
As the party set out to leave Tanaroa, dark clouds were visible gathering to the south, and a strong wind was whipping through the village. After a few hours on the trail, this turned into a full blown storm, with the rain coming down in sheets. Dodging through a nest of spiders, the party found some shelter, albeit damp. By the end of the next rain-soaked day, they came upon Mora. Looking down from atop a cliff above the village, it was clear that the weather had caused a mudslide, and as only 3 groups of huts were visible, it seemed as though it had buried one of the clans. Peering closer, the head of a totem pole bearing a Tiger was visible in the mud. Using their magic to descend the slope, Zhedd, Mendel and Antony made their way down the mudslide whilst the others followed the cliff top to find safer passage. Halfway down the slope, a large creature, composed of mud and bodies of those buried under the earth, rose up and attacked. It’s very touch drained the soul, and caused Antony great harm, but it was defeated by blasts of lightning called down by Zhedd. Eventually the party regrouped in the nearest encampment of huts – belonging to the Sea Turtle clan – and were greeted by Karta. He informed the party that the storm had started a few days ago, and only the Zombie Master, the spiritual leader of the village named Tilorak, had the power to stop it. The ‘Walking Ancestors’ had risen and stopped any attempt of the villagers to save those of the Tiger clan lost in the mudslide. The matriarch of the village had even been killed by her own son after he had gone out to find the Zombie Master – he returned and stabbed her, then dropped dead himself without a word. Karta feared these bad omens had doomed the village, but only the Zombie Master could interpret them.
The party set out for the central pyramid, where the matriarch’s son had last been seen heading in search of the Tilorak. There, they found a group of troglodytes guarding an entrance to some flooded tunnels hidden beneath the village. The party prepared to descend…
Spells cast since last rest: Jardek – Bless / Dacien – Fireball, Tongues / Stefanie – Hold Person, 1 Turn attempt / Zhedd – Spider Climb, Call Lightning, 2 x Acid dart
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