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.

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