Monday, December 21, 2009

Elephant's Graveyard: The Return

In the days that followed, the Armec people used building materials they had brought from their outside village to begin constructing a new village. The druid Kalphistane assisted their efforts to begin tilling the old fields with several spells that would make the plants grow faster and stronger. Cadelaine studied the spellbook taken from the temple to learn new spells. Endefal, Mongo and Nadal destroyed the stone golem guard in the upper temple to help clear it out, letting Brolo take it over as his own. The rest of the time was spent gathering ivory and getting it ready to transport via mule and water buffalo.
After several days, it was decided that after a week of gathering ivory, the party would make it’s way back to Port Maugre with as much tusks as they had, and let the next expedition gather the rest. They really only needed to prove the ivory was there, as well as supply a map, and their duty was done.

Part way through the week the party was joined by a young warrior lad of the Armecs, the chief’s son, who told them his name was Sholo and he was curious about the world outside the Armec village and valley. Although his father did not approve, Sholo had decided to follow the party to Port Maugre. His hero worship of the native warrior and elephant god worshipper Mongo was evident, and he appeared quite fit and athletic, so the party acquiesced to his entreaty and let him join up with them. The reasoned they would need all the help they could get on the way back, and Sholo looked competent with his weapons and eager to help.
One night while guarding the porters gathering the ivory, there was a disturbing encounter. As the party rested, a group of snakemen and their ophidian servants crept close enough to the group to attack, seeking to capture rather than kill party members. They were led by a spear wielding human looking snakemen with slitted eyes and forked tongue, and a halfbreed snakeman with a snake head and a deadly poisonous bite. Half the party was back at the new Armec village, but Cadelaine and Endefal managed to hold off the serpent men long enough for Mongo, Kalphistane and his ape to join the fray. The monsters were quickly killed, except for a couple that managed to escape into the night. Following him, they found a small group of guards at the valley entrance had been overcome and were tied there, awaiting the return of the snakefolk ( to be taken to some unknown fate, probably slavery). From that point forward the party made a point to watch the entrance, and trapped it with glyphs of warding and various traps set by Endefal and Cadelaine, respectively.
Soon, a week passed and 900 lbs of ivory were gathered. Goodbyes were made, including several Armec ladies who had enjoyed the favors of Mongo and were perhaps future mothers of Mongo’s brood. Traveling out of the valley, the party resent the traps to the entrance and the druid Kalphistane cast several spells to cause the vines growing over the outer entrance to extend and grow thicker, further concealing the valley. The party hoped their way back would be quicker and their journey to the valley, as they were worried about the length of time it might take them to arrive back at Port Maugre….perhaps House Tarn or another rival would ambush them along the way, and they were ready.

Several days passed with few incidents. Passing through the area where the cannibal tribe had been found earlier, the party was attacked by almost 50 of the savaged, and a pitched battle followed. Several cannibal leader types were among the attackers, and the battle was very deadly. Half a dozen native porters were killed and dragged off for food, and both Sholo and Kumar were knocked unconscious. The cannibal leader rode a tamed water buffalo, which Kal held, throwing the leader onto the ground and making him a quick kill for Endefal and Mongo. The rest of the cannibals were slowly brought down, until at the end only a half dozen lived to retreat back into the jungle. The battle however had taken it’s toll with several native porters and mules dead, and the party shook up by the violence of the attack. They quickly gathered their surviving animals and porters, as well as the ivory, and headed to the Kumar’s village which was nearby and a good place to rest and recuperate.
The next day they continued their trip, and on the way back to Port Maugre only ran into a few menaces, including a group of trolls, some jungle stirges, and finally a band of half-ogres who attempted to ambush the caravan. Another battle was fought, and a surviving half-ogre mercenary confessed his group had been hired by “someone” to make sure the caravan never reached Port Maugre. More evidence that someone knew much more than they should was evident, but the party could only concern themselves with reaching Port Maugre, as by this time they were only a day away.
Finally, after more than a month away from “home”, the party entered the gates of Port Maugre at the head of the merchant train, causing dozens of villagers and merchants to crowd around and comment on the size and amount of the ivory. A huge group gathered but let the party pass to the gates of the House Valaryan estate, where the tired group reported in to Gam and the priest Vespasian.
After a short rest, the ivory was unloaded, and Gam debriefed the successful group on their journey. His happiness at their quest was quite evident, and after their tale he immediately began making plans for a larger, better equipped group to travel back to the Elephant’s valley and begin the task of gathering all the ivory. The party was given leave to rest after their rough journey. Finally, a well cooked dinner, hot bath, and soft bed to sleep in were the only reward for the triumphant adventurers as they quickly took advantage of their return to indulge themselves.

Monday, December 14, 2009


The Elephant’s Graveyard: Conclusion.

After the epic battle against Honapo and the golem, the party spent the next day in the relative safety of the priest’s tomb, healing and resting. Soon, they begin to finish their explorations of the temple, as there were several locked rooms they had not visited. One in the main hallway had a symbol on the door that Alando had identified as a Symbol of Death, so they avoided it. They went into the room next to it (which appeared to be a priest’s room and tomb) and stone shaped a door out of the wall, entering the large room. It was a mage’s tomb, with only a dozen or so skulls there, and a large book resting on a pedestal in the center. Once again, using the powers of a priest of Vistna, Alando was able to see another symbol upon the pedestal. Not wanting to disturb it, they brainstormed various methods of retrieving the book, and finally stone shaped the floor under the pedestal, causing the book to drop, which Cadelaine expertly caught before it hit the ground. Checking out the book, it appeared to be a large ancient spellbook with dozens of spells, all written in ancient Armec.

Also in the tomb was found a long stone rod. Alando examined it and noticed the runes along the sides were a history of sorts…the history of the Armec people! This would prove invaluable to the priests of Vistna. The top unscrewed, and within the hollow center were five potions. All were tasted and found to be potions of longevity…Alando said this fit the history of the Armecs, which stated mages were rare and might live 100’s of years.
With the spellbook and rod, the group made to exit the tomb. Mongo went back to the resting place of Armec to retrieve the sword. The sword, Sentinel, stated it was a Defender blade that could give other powers (flight and Detect Magic). All it asked is that it’s bearer be the protector of the Armec people, who were in perilous danger of becoming extinct since there were so few of them left. The blade also noted that Armec’s skeleton was wearing powerful studded leather armor, and Mongo should also wear that in his quest against evil. Mongo assented to the terms of the sword, a small price to pay for such a powerful weapon.
Leaving the lower level, the party made their way back up, and brainstormed a way to get the elephant god icon out of the room with the statues. Working a method where Mongo flew in and attached a line to the icon, it was yanked out, and Mongo narrowly avoided one of the stone statues that came to life and tried to crush him (but did not follow him out of the room). The party then decided to leave the building, and begin the long task of summoning their bearers, and gathering the ivory, and telling the Armecs the valley was again clear.
However, danger still awaited them. Upon exiting the temple, a hideous site reached their eyes…as they passed through the gate (noticing the elephant that had earlier attacked the temple peacefully grazing outside), the 20 stone statues surrounding the temple suddenly moved, and came to life! As one, they began striding after the party, death in their eyes. The party scattered, trying to separate the statues, but they kept heading after Endefal…who was carrying the elephant god icon! Endefal immediately went into the lake, and although it slowed the statues down, they doggedly followed Endefal across the lake. Getting an idea, Endefal yelled to Mongo to fly over, take the icon, and throw it in the lake. Doing so, Mongo dropped the jeweled icon in the center part of the small lake. The statues followed, to eventually come to a halt surrounding the sunken icon. Standing thus, the party decided they were no longer a menace and made quite a good monument up to their rocky waists in the lake. Whatever the icon was worth, it was not worth battling the stone guardians over

Again resting and preparing to travel back to the entrance to retrieve their porters, mules and water buffalo, the adventurers were surprised to see a long caravan of people and belongings headed their way, followed by their own merchant train. Soon, the Armecs reached the area by the lake. Brolo the shaman commended the party on task fulfilled, saying he saw their victory in his dreams, as well as the death of Ark and the destruction of Honapo. Saying that now that the valley was cleansed, the Armec people would resettle the valley, and stop the decline of their race. Having spoken thus, Brolo collapsed, as his 90 years appeared to be finally catching up with him. He whispered that he only wished he had been able to train another elephant shaman, as he was the last of his kind. Quickly, Endefal grabbed the rod and poured the contents down the throat of the dying shaman. Immediately, Brolo grew younger, and soon was a heartier 80 years of age, and not in danger of dying! The slightly rejuvenated Brolo thanked them, saying they had given him the gift of another decade to train another Elephant God shaman to protect the tribe. The now victorious group gathered their men, and the Armecs, and had a huge celebratory feast where for the first time in several weeks they allowed themselves to enjoy themselves (and Mongo seeded himself liberally among willing Armec women).