Saturday, September 5, 2009

1st Patrol on Delos

Week Two:

During their first week at House Valaryan, the adventurers acclimated themselves to the tropical weather (hot, wet and muggy) and their new circumstances. Endefal took the time to visit the Attarian temple in Port Maugre, and met the high priest there, one Jerrod. Jerrod filled the young half elf in on doings around the Port Maugre area, telling him it was mostly cleared of slavers and their ilk. Far to the south, and to the east, however, Tzulan warriors took slaves for their Taranthian masters, and the Snakemen and their loathsome allies were rumored to be taking entire caravans of merchants and their followers captive. Many merchant trains had disappeared entirely, leaving nothing behind, not even bodies. What the Snakemen wanted with the humans, no one knew.

After getting a small gift of a Healing potion and some holy water from Jerrod, Endefal left to join with his new mates as they were also exploring the small town. That afternoon, Mongo’s uncle Ardu told them that the next morning they would go on patrol outside of the village’s walls for the first time, and they would have to get rest…

Early the next day, with the ground wet from an evening rainfall, the small group (Ardu, Cadelaine, Endefal, Mongo, Kalphistane and Nadal) left through the large wooden doors of Port Maugre to their first patrol. Skirting the edges of the temple to Akadi, the market, and Swinetown, they entered the foliage of the jungle proper. Although it had been cleared for several hundred yards, Ardu told them that there were workers constantly tearing up new growth as the jungle continually threatened to take back it’s own. Up to the edge of the jungle, several plots of land grew crops for the village, and several groups of cows, goats and water buffalos sat in wooden pens, guarded by vigilant city guards and tribesmen.

Right at the edge of the small farms, the jungle quickly overtook them. Suddenly, all sunlight disappeared as the heavy vines and growth blocked out the light. Many noises assaulted them, from birds, insects and small mammals, to the sounds of the jungle itself. Ardu led them on patrol, right on the edge of the jungle, for about a mile or so south of Port Maugre. He continually shared knowledge of the dangers in the jungle, chuckling at mention of this or that former mercenary for House Valaryan that had died instantly from a snake bite. His refrain of “It was so funny!” when referring to particularly gruesome deaths due to poisonous reptiles, jungle stirges, or other creatures of the jungle did little to reassure the nervous group, who besides Mongo had little (in Kalphistane’s case) or no experience in such territory. Former trails cut through the undergrowth were barely visible as they followed Ardu, looking for any signs of enemy warriors, slavers, or creatures that should not be there.

Suddenly, Ardu held them up with a lip to his fingers and pointed up towards
the jungle canopy. The party heard a strange whirring and flapping, and from above several bat-winged forms descended down on them. “Flying snakes”! shouted Ardu “Very bad, they spit acid!” Luckily, the party dealt with the flying reptiles quickly, with virtually no injuries. Ardu proceeded to cut off the wings and heads and throw the snake bodies in a sack. “Good eating!” he exclaimed happily, as he led the now-blooded party along.

Heading back towards the village, a child’s scream caught their ears. Ardu ran ahead full speed, with the others following. They burst out on a small clearing next to a stream, to see several small, evil monkey-like men encircling two native children who were huddled near the bodies of a man and woman pierced with small javelins. The monkey-men, known as tasloi, were scourges of the jungle as they attacked in large groups to use humans for food or worse. They were trying to tie up the children when the party burst through the foliage, and immediately attacked!
Ardu and Nadal quickly split a couple of the creatures in half, as Kalphistane cast an Entangle spell which held tight six of the tasloi. As the battle was joined, Cadelaine also used her spell abilities to good effect to put down another six with a Sleep spell, evening the odds considerably. After a short combat, the tasloi were killed (including the slept or held ones), with only two wounded creatures escaping deeper into the forest. Speaking to the children, Ardu discovered they and their parents were attacked on their way back from gathering fish and water from the stream. Ardu then questioned one terribly wounded tasloi before wringing his neck, finding out the location of a small cave nearby wear the creatures laired. He told Mongo that he must use his skills to track the wounded ones back to their cave, and eliminated them. This, he said, would be a good test of their abilities of planning and executing an attack, and he reasoned the tasloi would not be too tough of a foe for the fledgling adventurers. Saying he would stay with the children to guard them, he bade them hurry and track down the tasloi!

Applying some minor healing, the party quickly followed the ranger Mongo through the twisting vines and growth of the jungle a short way until they came to a small hill. Sure enough, a trail of blood led into a dark cave entrance in front of them. Some confusion then resulted, as Mongo and Cadelaine tried to sneak ahead, only to be quickly discovered by guards at the entrance, who attacked. Nadal ran forth to protect Cadelaine, cutting down a few, and Kalphistane and Endefal were left on the edge of the jungle to ponder how quickly their “plan” had become no plan at all! Battling at the entrance, soon Mongo and Nadal had taken very nasty blows from the tasloi’s javelins and clubs, and glances inside showed more than a dozen of the creatures still ready to fight! A retreat was called for, and Kalphistane saved the day with a Puffball spell as he threw a magical mushroom into the entrance, causing a huge stinging cloud to appear which caused any tasloi passing through to fall to the ground gasping and choking. The party healed the injured and quickly dispatched several of the incapacitated tasloi, only to enter into a grim standoff at the entrance. Sneaking in was now out of the question; frontal assault would be suicide, and the tasloi refused to come out and engage the party outside the cave.

Other means of entrance to the complex were then sought for along the cliff base. Finding none there, Cadelaine climbed the small bluff (perhaps 20 feet high) to search along the top. As she wandered around, a whirring sound gave her pause and she jumped behind a tree trunk, only to see a giant spider with dragonfly-like wings emerge from a hole beside a dead tree trunk, fly around for awhile, and then re-enter the hold. Very carefully creeping forward, she saw the hole led downward…..perhaps a hidden or back entrance to the caves? Summoning the others, they decided on a plan: Nadal would stay and watch the front entrance, while Endefal, Mongo, Cadelaine and Kalphistane would attempt entrance through the spider-hole entrance on top the cliff. A shout from Nadal would let the party know that the tasloi were attempting to exit; if so, the he would retreat and the party would attempt to meet up with him.

Soon, the four found themselves staring down a dark, slimy, web covered hole leading down into the ground. A very faint light came from down below, but the party was loathe to enter. As they stood pondering, the giant flying spider stuck his head out of the hole! Taking them by surprise, Endefal dropped a vial of oil he held onto himself, preventing any firing of the hole or spider, and the party began swinging their weapons, but couldn’t strike the arachnid nightmare. The spider flew out of the hole and began buzzing around their heads, trying to bite and poison the adventurers! A blow by Endefal almost brought the spider down, and wounds by Mongo and Cadelaine almost tore his wings off….as he attempted to fly away, Kalphistane finished him off with a well placed sling bullet. Soon, as their hearts beating slowed down to normal, a plan was made to tie a rope to the tree and lower themselves down. One by one, all four entered the hold to a small, disgusting room that must have been the spider’s lair. Webbing, pieces of bodies and equipment, and other nasty bits of effluent were scattered in the 5 foot tall chamber. The party soon found a tight passageway of 2 feet leading onward, but searching the webbed bodies produced some treasure, including a continual light torch, potions, and some gold!

While the elf and half elves were able to slide themselves down the narrow passageway, Mongo found himself too large and bulky to do so, and had to remove his armor. As Mongo and Cadelaine reached the exit, they found themselves in a chamber filled with stained cushions, pillows and blankets, along with sacks filled with items. On the opposite side of the room stood an ancient looking iron door with a new lock, and a corridor leading onward. With only a minute to investigate their surroundings, they were surprised as a tall, strong looking tasloi strode into the chamber, glowing short sword in hand…they had come upon the tasloi leader’s room! Combat was joined as the leader, one Urglat, screamed for help!

All was pandemonium in the small chamber. Mongo and Cadelaine blocked the leader at the entrance, preventing any further tasloi from entering, as Kalphistane and Endefal quickly entered behind the battle. They were unable to join the combat, so tried to help with spells of healing as Mongo and Cadelaine were injured during combat with the head tasloi. Soon, Urglat lay dead at their feet, but swarms of tasloi began to pour into the room. Combat got deadly, as injuries resulted that led the party members to rotate themselves in combat as tasloi were downed and party members injured. Finally, Endefal threw a container of lamp oil down the corridor, and followed up by throwing a lit candle. Immediately, the oil caught flame and in the confined space caused masses of black smoke and flames to fill the corridor and small room. Mongo was overcome by the smoke, and had to be dragged back down the narrow corridor back to the spider’s lair. Unfortunately, the companions forgot to remove his armor, and he became stuck! This left only Cadelaine and Endefal in the chief’s chamber, with Cadelaine’s curiosity getting the better of her as she examined the large locked iron door. Her thief skills could not get her inside, so she and Endefal instead collected several sacks of booty lying around, consisting of books, coins, weapons (including the tasloi chief’s glowing sword) and more. As the stinging smoke died down, Cadelaine found a key in the chief’s belongings that seem to fit the newer lock on the iron door. Opening it, she and Endefal found a dark, gloomy chamber with a human figure rising to meet them….an undead zombie! Presenting his holy symbol, Endefal turned the creature to the back of the small tomb. The tomb, obviously older than the caverns dug around it, seemed to have been untouched for many centuries. As the pair entered, the tasloi again began to attack from the open corridor! At this point, Nadal had joined the party…having seen the dark smoke pouring out of the cave entrance, along with several retreating tasloi, he had climbed up the rope and then entered the spider hole himself. Pulling his chainmail off, he had managed to squeeze down the narrow corridor just in time to take the brunt of the tasloi’s attacks. Nadal and Mongo met the newest tasloi attack, as the other three quickly investigated the small tomb and it’s inhabitant.

Inside, the undead introduced himself as Gruumstead, and said he was a worshipper of Shadow, the ancient god of darkness. He hinted cryptically at several things, including a return of darkness and shadow to the continent of Delos, but was unable to attack the party due to Endefal’s steadfast faith and holy symbol. Noticing several rolled up scrolls in an alcove in the tomb, Cadelaine gathered them up and the tomb was exited and locked upon leaving. As the tasloi again pressed their attack and injuries mounted, again oil was tossed down the corridor, and again lighted. However, this time a burning tasloi ran into the room screaming, and began rolling amongst the furnishings, setting the entire room alight! It was time to leave, and the party, dragging their booty, hurried through the narrow corridor to the spider’s lair, and from there, up to the hole in the hilltop. After leaving, covered with soot, blood, grime and gore, the weary adventurers made their way back to Ardu, who was anxiously awaiting their return with the still frightened children.

Telling Ardu all that had transpired, he said on the morrow he would lead a group of soldiers to finish cleaning out the tasloi lair, and praised them on a job well done by killing the tasloi leader and wreaking havoc on their lair. They returned to Port Maugre with the children in tow, weary but triumphant on their first foray into the jungle.

Upon their return, the scrolls were found to be written in ancient Delosian and contained much information on the history of the Shadow worshippers and their reign many hundreds of years earlier….they were sold to the Vistnan church for a tidy sum, along with some older mold covered books found in another sack. Kalphistane, to his wonder, found one of the books to be a huge tome, rune covered leather with gold hinges, and written in high elvish! The book was a true treasure, a history of the elven House S’thelian, the elven house who had attempted an ill-fated conquest of Delos several hundred years before. It seemed to be a journal and history written by one of the survivors. The priests of Vistna were very interested and offered the elven druid 750 GP for the tome, but something inside told Kalphistane that this tome might hold the knowledge he and his mentor had been seeking, the location of the lost elven city and temple. He resolved to study it on his own and see what knowledge he could find…

Among the other treasures, Mongo was allowed to have the magical short sword, while a magic scroll went to the mage/thief Cadelaine, and various potions and coins were divided up among the rest. A substantial donation was made by Endefal to the Attarian church, and a grateful Jerrod rewarded his faithful worshipper with potions and holy water. Ardu had been pleased by their quick thinking and battle prowess, and mentioned to the house Patriarch, Gam, that perhaps it was time to let the adventurers join in a short trip to the interior of Delos on one of the trade routes to an Ashante tribe…

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