Saturday, March 27, 2010
The next day was beautiful, clear and warm, and no weather to speak of. There had been no attacks that night, and the party began to feel that they had finished off most of the organized opposition in this area of the swamp. Plans were made to head to the stockade of the frogmen that day and hopefully finish off the remainder of the tribe. As they had killed roughly 50 of the frogmen the night before, and the same number the day before that with Cadelaine’s fireball, they hoped not much more than token resistance awaited.
After curing and healing from the events of the day before, Kal once again gathered a large crop of Goodberries, and the party made their way into the swamp. The stockade of he frogmen loomed about 300 yards away atop a large raised mound in the swamp, and seemed to be surrounded by some sort of fence. On the way there, they stopped to rescue a small group of monkeys that had somehow been chased into the swamp and up a tree, one of them being attacked and killed by a swarm of leeches. Mongo accidentally stepped into this swarm, then spent time lighting a torch to pick off dozens of the creatures that had attached themselves to his legs and any exposed flesh. Endefal tricked the swam into following him with some dripped blood, and while the leech swarm slowly surged towards the priest of Attar, the monkeys were rescued by Kal and Mongo. Afterwards, the five monkeys talked some more about the city, giving general pieces of knowledge like the presence of undead, lots of serpent men and other dangers, and told Kal that a group of humans or those that looked like them dwelled in an enclosure on the far west side of the city.
This piqued the curiosity of the party and the resolved to check this out when they finally began exploring the city proper. First, however, they released the monkeys into the spur where the chittering furry creatures could begin a life without immediate predators, protected from most creatures by the nearby swamp. The party once again headed back towards the frogmen stockade. They got close and Cadelaine volunteered to invisibly recon, seeing if an entrance existed in the spiked bamboo wall surrounding the mount. While walking around Cadelaine came upon a wandering black pudding sliding through the tall grass that ignored her and she quickly put distance between the ooze and herself. Coming back around, she told the party that there were no entrances (the frogmen obviously just leapt over the fence when they wanted, as broken and crushed down foliage around the edges pointed out).
The party had also notice a large stockade type structure on top of the frogmen’s mound, that looked like something of a lookout spot. They decided to breach the wall and make for that area first. Using the spell Warp Wood Kal was able to take out a five foot section of the stockade fence and the party slipped inside…but were seen by a lookout at the tower, who began banging on a brass gong! Cadelaine quickly silenced him with a well placed arrow, but it was too late. Giant frogs began pouring out of several dark holes in the mound, and the party ran up the earthen mound to the small tower. Cadelaine climbed the wall to the top to find…nothing but a dead frogman. No escape or way into the interior of the mound! The party would have to battle the six foot long, 250 lb frog monstrosities after all. As the battle began, the giant frogs began shooting out their tongues to entrap the characters and pull them to their mouths, but in every case the party member was able to strike the tongue and free themselves. The only mishap in the battle was Cadelaine accidentally hitting Kal in the back of the head with an arrow as she fired into melee, but no permanent damage was done. Soon the nine giant frogs lay dead with no injuries to the adventurers. Picking one dark hole in the ground, they cautiously entered the mound.
As the party had battled the giant frogs Cadelaine stood as lookout, and noticed in the middle of the lake nearby a large, bubbling spot that filled her with anxiety. Something large below the surface of the scummy black waters had become aware of intruders and she hoped whatever it was would not show during the battle! She told the others after the giant frogs were finished, and they all agreed that they needed to be cautious upon exiting the mound after their business here was done.
Mongo should have know right at the start the mound was not going to be kind to him, he led the way into the mound and fell into a very shallow (2 foot) deep pit, catching some nasty pungi sticks smeared with a weird ichor that looked like excrement. After crawling out on the muddy floor the party began to be attacked by waves of spear wielding frogmen. Although the amphibious creatures were easily dispatched in most cases, they continued to attack after every few rounds. Cadelaine, searching invisibly, managed to find a strange room in the mound with several pits of bubbling goo, so she returned to the party just in time for an attack by a group of killer frogs. She thwarted the attack with a web spell, followed up by a burning hands spell which fried the vicious frogs.
Going ahead alone and eschewing a light source, Mongo thought that he would practice his blindfighting skills instead of relying on a light source…perhaps he felt the light would not allow him surprise further inhabitants in the mound. Maybe he was anxious to prove himself battling the frogmen on their home territory with no advantages. Whatever his motivations, he was set upon in a large dark and damp room and began to get the shit kicked out of him. Falling on his back on the muddy floor, he was stabbed again and again by the aggressive frogmen. The only thing saving Mongo from death was a fortuitous Protection From Enemies ’10 radius spell Endefal had cast on him upon entering the mound. While the party dealt with a few various frogmen Mongo found himself facing several tougher leader types, riding giant frogs, in the dark of a muddy room. Soon even the brave jungle ranger realized things were not going his way and began shouting for help!
Arriving to assist the foolhardy and now pin cushioned ranger, Nadal, Endefal, Kal, Gra Gra and Cadelaine (Kumar, Alando and Sholo took up the rear) brought both light sources and badly needed weaponry. With their arrival the tide began to turn, although fully half a dozen more giant frog riding frogmen appeared to do battle. The battle was a slippery, muddy, gooey mess with the fanatical frogmen fighting to the death to protect their home from the intruders. Soon the king of the frogmen emerged, riding the largest frog yet, croaking his anger and hatred. Several poisonous frogs hopped alongside of him, attempting to bite anyone who got close. Mongo used his Ring of Jumping to leap to the attack, and soon everyone was fighting in the large room inside the mound against the froggy menace. With the help of Nadal and Endefal, Mongo defeated the frog king and after a long battle the room was covered with dismembered frogs and frogmen. After healing their many wounds, the party examined the rest of the mound and found a small bit of treasure in the frog king’s lair, along with a tunnel leading somewhere beneath the swamp, and a room with pools of water containing smaller frogmen…tadpoles, really, the next generation of frogmen warriors.
Saying that everyone was thinking the same thing, Nadal was soon relieving himself in the tadpole pool, joined by Endefal and Mongo, hoping the potent brew might kill the future frogmen. Meanwhile, in a nearby room Kal managed to disturb one of the bubbling pools (which after examination appeared to contain some sort of fungus food for the frogmen) and let loose a deadly ochre jelly! The jelly lashed out at Kal but appeared to only want to leave the complex. As it rolled past the surprised Mongo, Nadal and Endefal, they struck at it and chopped it to pieces.
Soon the mound had no more secrets and it appeared that every frogmen had been totally wiped out. The party had ended any menace the frogmen might have been to the swamp and environs. Investigating the tunnel, Cadelaine (and Kal in crocodile form) found it traveled about 300 yards in five feet of water until it ended in the basement of a building in the Forbidden City itself! Having found a secret way to the city, the party decided to take the way in rather than exit the stockade more visibly and perhaps get into another combat with creatures they could easily avoid.
The trip in the dark, wet, slimy tunnel was not easy (especially for Cadelaine who was the shortest of the group and had to hang on to others to stay above water) but soon they emerged in the basement of a ruined building in at the edge of the swamp. Climbing a set of stone stairs led to a completely collapsed building, right next door to an old ruined church with one standing bell tower. Looking out over the swamp, Cadelaine saw a blood chilling sight: a gigantic, black and yellow toad thing (fully 65 feet long) with wings emerged from the black water of the lake, followed by dozens of crocodiles of every size, The frog-dragon flew to the top of the frogmen’s mound, landed on the top and crushing the tower, as the crocodiles swarmed the mound and entered the black holes. As they went inside the frog-dragon screamed its anger to the heavens and that chilled the adventurer’s souls, for if they had decided to not take the secret tunnel they might even now be facing the dozens of deadly crocs plus the dragon!!! Cadelaine, remembering there was no way to close up the tunnel, began yelling down into the basement what she had seen.
Thinking quickly, the party moved several large broken pieces of stone to cover the opening in the basement, which Endefal used stone shape on to quickly form into a large trapdoor that could not be opened from inside….not a moment too soon, as he finished he could hear noises in the water filled tunnel and see shining eyes in the darkness! Shutting the stone cover the party was well protected from any thing attempting to enter the basement from the tunnel end. Up top, Cadelaine saw the huge toad dragon rise on wings and splash into the waters of the lake, followed by his crocodile entourage. Apparently the party had gotten quite lucky this day not to face the further reptilian horrors of the swamp.
As dusk began to fall the party decided that although damp and not ideal, the basement was the best place to spend the night since it was easily defendable now that the tunnel entrance had been blocked (the only other way in being the stairway that led outside). Using flint and tinder and some wood they had found, a fire was started inside to dry off everyone’s soaked clothing, and guards were put on the stone stairway leading up. Alando cast Detect Magic on the items found in the frogmen's stockade, as well as Identify on the one magical item (the frog-king's weapon), which turned out to be an Ashante made spear of +2 power. As the party prepared for rest they uneasily noticed the abandoned church next door did not seem to be totally empty…as two bright lights went on at the top of the one standing bell tower!
Sunday, March 21, 2010
With their injuries healed and stomachs filled, the party set watches and got ready for possible interruptions of their evening since they had made waves with both the lizard men and frog men in the swamp that day. Trouble was not long in coming. During first watch Kal and Mongo sat quietly inside the thick plant curtain in front of the cave entrance, listening for unusual sounds.
Soon, froglike croaks and grunts filled the night. They heard the screams of what was left of the boar herd as they were obviously killed, which alerted them to possible intruders. Soon sounds of the frogmen filled the area outside the cave (as the totem only protected against reptiles, amphibious beings were free to come within it’s influence), and several normal frogs began hopping into the cave, obviously frightened. Not long behind them several large frogs with sharp teeth and claws followed….killer frogs! Kal and Mongo, as well as Kal’s ape and boar, began battling the amphibious menace as the guards shouted for help. Soon, a pure wave of killer frogs seemed to hop over the two like a deluge! Fully thirty of the monstrosities were attacking the pair, and the two each used his ring of jumping to leap back from the entrance and temporarily out of reach of the killer frogs. As they left the front of the cave, Cadelaine quickly cast Web at the entrance, trapping all but a handful of the frogs (the four not trapped were stomped and stabbed to death). The frogs were hung in the web with no way to get out, and nothing could enter the cave, so for the time being the adventurers were safe. Endefal quickly cast a Protection from Enemies ’10 on Mongo, and the group readied themselves for battle. Soon, the sounds of dozens of croaking beings filled their ears from outside the cavern, and the group heard the decidedly unpleasant sound of sharp objects striking the magic totem!
Not wanting their barrier vs reptiles to be destroyed, the party quickly made a plan. Using her Wand of Fire, Cadelaine shot burning hands at a trio of frogs caught in the net (frying them) and set the web afire, doing damage to the couple dozen frogs trapped within. Endefal, Kal and Mongo quickly ran to the front of the cave and attacked several frogmen trying to hack at the totem pole with their crude spears. The battle was on! Endefal activated his innate Sanctuary power, and the frogmen ignored him as he strode past them to find the leaders. Kal quickly threw up an Entangle spell that caught many of the frogmen in it’s grip; Mongo began laying about the creatures with his twin swords. The numbers were overwhelming as almost 50 of the frogmen hopped forward with spears to attack, but Kal and Mongo held them off with flaming spear and swords, respectively. Inside, Nadal, Sholo, Cadelaine, Kumar, Gra Gra and even Alando began smashing the surviving killer frogs against the rock floor. Unfortunately, the charmed wild boar fell under the frog’s assault and was bitten to death by several (causing Nadal to remark that wild boar would again be on the menu that evening!) The other deadly frogs were slowly crushed one by one, even as Kumar and Alando took ferocious bites about their body and had to retire from combat to bandage their wounds. At that point, frogmen began hopping inside the cavern from the outside, and Sholo and Nadal went forward to join combat as Cadelaine provided missile cover and fortuitous Sleep spells to stop the invasion into the cave. Gra Gra was badly speared by a frogmen and fell unconscious, requiring bandaging from Kumar to heal the nasty wound.
Outside, Mongo proved just as effective vs the amphibious beings as he usually did vs reptilian creatures, cutting a huge swath through the creatures with Kal aiding him. Endefal had made his way to the leader types, but he was spotted and a couple resisted his innate Sanctuary power enough to attack. The leader of the frogmen sat on the back of a giant frog with dozens of other frogs hopping all around him, and he finally stirred his mount to action as they hopped forward, croaking orders. After battling the frogmen for awhile, the entangle spell fell and even more of the frogmen tried to pour onto Mongo and Kal, who fought their way to the leader. In their minds the destruction of the leader frog might turn the tide, as the frogs now attacked with fanatical fervor. With Nadal and Sholo guarding the cave entrance, the druid and ranger slowly worked their way towards the leader, killing frogmen all the way. At the same time, Endefal had managed to finish off the two frogmen attacking him, and came at the leader from the rear.
The frogmen leader and his giant frog mount hopped into combat, and the giant frog’s tongue wrapped around Mongo and dragged him to it’s maw. However, with two swift strokes Mongo cut the frog in half, and then knocked the leader to the ground, where Endefal crushed the skull of the startled amphibian. Suddenly, panic set in among the still living frogmen and they began croaking in panic and hopping off into the darkness.
With the siege broken, the party members dragged the sliced up bodies of the frogmen far away from the encampment, then went back to the cave to rest up. Sholo, Kumar, Alando, Nadal and Gra Gra were heavily injured and required rest. Frog blood and guts covered the floor of the cavern and had to be cleaned and the dead boar was sadly (or hungrily, as Gra Gra and some of the party members salivated thinking of the cooked meat) skinned and butchered for food.
The next morning, an uneasy night’s sleep bore little rest for the exhausted party members. However, they did re-learn their spells, and Kal used the opportunity to cast multiple Goodberry spells on the surrounding foliage. The tasty berries could be used to bring many of the party members up to speed, as did the healing spells of Kumar, Alando, and Endefal. While walking through the spur, Kal noticed the dearth of any life, including the rest of the wild boars (who had been slain by the frogmen). Dragging a couple of boar corpses to the cave, these too were butchered and the meat added to the party’s dwindling stores of fresh food.
After spending the early part of the day healing, cleaning, and once again fortifying their cavern base (Kal assisted this by re-casting a Plant Growth on the entrance to again block it from sight; the attack of the night before had torn down most of the vine and ivy curtain shielding the opening), the parry discussed their next move. Two items of interest were on the table: the frogmen and the lizard men. The frogmen, losing fully 50 of their number the night before (as well as a large number to Cadelaine’s fireball the day before) might be ripe for a final attack. Their stockade, surrounded by a bamboo fence, could be seen several hundred yards away from the edge of the spur on a raised hillock in the swamp. However, Mongo’s hatred of all things reptilian soon convinced the party that the now-depleted ranks of the lizardmen were ripe for conquest also. As over 30 of the beings had been killed the day previously, perhaps their cavern would be lightly guarded and ready for conquest.
Finally, the party decided that they would deal with the depleted lizard men and their cave first, saving the frogmen’s enclosure for a future date. Unfortunately, this would mean another trek through the swampy mess that had bothered them so much the previous day. Resigning themselves to the muddy travel, they first had a flying Mongo check out the cave entrance, but he saw nothing. The group, traveling along the cliff wall, did not encounter anything but found their battlefield the day before. Surprisingly, except for churned up mud and broken plants, little evidence existed of the battle…crocs and other predators may have carried off lizard man bodies and parts, and the grass and plants seem to already be growing back into place….in a week there would be no evidence at all anything unusual had ever happened here.
When the party reached the large cave mouth, Cadelaine volunteered to invisibly scout ahead and see where the lizardmen were. She quietly swam up the wide corridor, as it came to a division into three directions, each guarded by a lizard man. There was, however, no further sign of lizard men, and the caverns were quiet. Going back to tell the party, before a plan of action could be decided on, Mongo flew ahead to confront his foes. He immediately came into battle with the three lizardmen, and with Nadal and Kumar backing him up, slew the trio. Investigation of two of the corridors found large rooms that looked hastily abandoned, with no eggs or belongings of the lizardmen. Apparently a quick desertion of the area had occurred with the slaughter of most of the warriors of the tribe. Kal, in crocodile form, floated up the third corridor and found one leader-type lizard man guarding a chest of treasure. Thinking Kal was a “friend”, the lizard man spoke to him and told him to help him in his ambush he was going to spring on the humans…when battle was joined, he would ring a large gong, causing a group of lizardmen in the swamp to rush in behind the humans. Playing along, Kal spoke with him awhile in croc form, finding out the tribe had left after the disastrous attack the day before to join another tribe further to the west. All indications were that the force left behind was not extensive. Going back to tell the party, Cadelaine snuck up and using her Stone of Silence, stood invisibly near the gong as Mongo, Endefal, and Kal attacked the lizardman, killing him. They in turn set their own ambush for the lizardmen, getting in place and then ringing the gong themselves. Over twenty lizardmen rushed into the chamber and immediately entered pitched combat. The joke however was on the party as these lizardmen (soon joined by another 7 leader types) fought with a desperation and ferocity that threatened to overwhelm the adventurers. Even after two Sleep spells by Cadelaine and two Hold person spells cast by Endefal it was still a tough battle. Again and again the lizardmen scratched and bit the adventurers, until finally, slowly, the battle turned and after many rounds of combat all the lizardmen lay dead.
Extensive healing was in order, and the party would have to rest after the day’s events back at the cave, due to the damage the lizardmen had done to them. Taking the chest with them (which had obviously been left as some sort of lure), they found it contained 700 old silver pieces, one gem, and a scroll tube with a single mage spell within. Nothing of note happened on the way back except for Kumar being attacked by a swimming giant bloodworm, which luckily was killed after only doing a small amount of damage to the priest. Back at the cave, they roasted the wild boar, and again several party members began stiffening up and running fevers due to something they had caught while traversing the swamp. There were enough Cure Disease spells for all except Endefal, who after being diagnosed by Mongo as having a sickness known as “Stiff Neck”, learned it often faded away after a day causing no more than stiff muscles and neck joints. Determined to fight his way through (and, since he possessed potions vs disease he could cure himself if it progressed any further), Endefal resigned himself to having the disease and becoming immune to it in the future. As the night before, the party set up watch hoping for no repeat of the last evening’s festivities, but prepared in case the frogmen or something worse made an appearance.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The next morning, many tracks were found outside the cavern, giving a wide berth to the protective totem…Mongo identified them as lizard man tracks, and it was obvious the scaly folk had come from the swamp that night to scout out the smells, light and noises they must have heard the night before. However, the magical totem pole had done its duty and kept the reptilian beings far away from the entrance, as there was no evidence any of them had gotten within 10 feet of the totem (and thus, the entrance behind it). Although the magical totem had accomplished its purpose, the party was now extremely wary as it was obvious the lizard men had discovered their hideout…
Keeping a watchful eye out, the party made plans to investigate the other two cave entrances, and then perhaps a bit of the swamp, during the daylight hours at least.
The first cavern was nothing but a crack in the cliffside, only three feet wide. Questioning the wild boar, Kal found that the boar had seen snakes emerging from the crack, and the group reasoned it must be a snake lair. A vial of lit oil was tossed within, and the party sat and awaited anything retreating from the smoke and flames. Soon, several poisonous bushmasters emerged, discomfited by the smoke. They were hacked to pieces and killed, and when the smoke cleared out, Cadelaine (the smallest member of the party) managed to slip inside invisibly, and found nothing but a stinky cavern with many nests and hidey holes for snakes. Satisfied none were inside, and even if they were they would be of no danger, Cadelaine left (without treasure also, for the half elf did search for that in case something of value lay around….)
The last cave had a very large entrance, and the boar told Kal that large scorpions and spiders laired within. Sure enough, as the party approached, three giant scorpions skittered forth to attack, clearly protecting their territory. Kal used a Shrink Insects spell to take care of one of the abominations, zapping it down to a size where the stomping foot of the druid killed it. Mongo easily handled another one, while the last was battled by Endefal, Kumar, and Nadal, Cadelaine providing missile fire. Cadelaine was even able to milk a bit of scorpion venom for herself….to later brew into a sludge she could coat her weapons with to poison a foe. Finally the last was destroyed, leaving the mouth of the cavern only. Cadelaine entered invisibly, to see a large chamber (obviously the lair of the scorpions) and two branches from this chamber, each leading off into darkness. Silently she slid along the wall into the eastern passage, and soon came upon webbing filling the rest of the corridor top to bottom….and spotted several large spiders crawling in the mess. Not wish to go any further, Cadelaine crept back outside to the light of day and told of her findings. So now who would be brave (or foolhardy) enough to slash through the webs and spiders for any sort of treasure? Where was Mongo?
Mongo, finally seeing a concrete use for his Ring of Fire Resistance, volunteered to investigate the caves. First pouring a vial of oil upon himself, he then lit himself on fire, and using the sword Sentinel he flew ahead into the darkness! Burning a path through the webs (and sending the large spiders scurrying), he blazed a trail to a large chamber at the end of the corridor…and was promptly struck by a pair of magic missiles! In the chamber, he saw a man sized shape, an unholy amalgamation between man and spider, and it appeared to lair here (and was casting spells). Soon a stinking cloud formed in front of Mongo, but he flew around it and struck the spider-creature, killing it in two blows. As it flew in pieces to the ground, many large spiders scurried away from both the flames flickering off Mongo and his furious sword. As Mongo began flying among the webs, burning them, and cutting up spiders, Kal, Gra Gra, Kumar, Cadelaine and Endefal (following the burnt trail Mongo had blazed) took up the rear and began picking off other spiders in the webs, or ones that dropped down on top or beside the group. No one suffered damage, and soon a full dozen of the loathsome arachnids were dead. In the chamber many copper, silver and gold pieces were found scattered on the ground among bones and other filthy goo, and these were gathered.
Since the plan had worked so well, it was repeated on the other side, with the same results (down to the appearance of a spider-man who cast spells). As ineffective as the other spiders had been, once again a flying, flaming Mongo cut the spider creature in half and began hacking at the large spiders crawling in the webbing. After the slaughter, more coins were found, gathered and cleaned off, but nothing of note was otherwise found in the caves.
At this point the entire spur had been investigated, and all it’s caves cleared of potential hazards. Becoming curious about the lizard men in the swamp that had scouted out the spur the night before, Mongo stayed in the air and checked the swamp from on high. The swamp consisting of many clumps of ragged trees and bushes, surrounded by fields and fields of 6-7 foot high swamp grass, cat tails, rushes, bushes and other foliage. This made visual examination difficult as anything inside the area would be hidden from view if it was traveling low to the ground (or under the water, as may be). Besides the tall grasses, several hundred yards away stood a large mound with a stockade surrounding, and frog like figures hopped to and fro around it…..it looked like home to many of the amphibious frogmen. Flying low along the north cliff wall of the swamp, Mongo did find what appeared to be a cave mouth, and a couple of lizard men entering and leaving. Seeing the lair of his hated foe, Mongo returned to the group (as the last of Sentinel’s flying power wore off) and told them he was off to confront the hated reptiles in the cave, and they were welcome to follow! With that, Mongo and an invisible Cadelaine began forcing their way thorough the head high marsh grass, knee high stagnant water, and clutching mud….perhaps not the most well thought out plan, nor the safest, but the flying power of Sentinel was used up for the day and it was the only method of reaching the cave. Sticking along the cliff wall to prevent getting lost, Mongo moved off into the muck. Most of the party reluctantly followed…except for Alando, who gave excuses to as why he did not want to slosh around in the swamp (they might need him for healing later!). The priest of Vistna, and the charmed wild boar, both stayed at the swamp’s edge to await the group’s return. Kal, Endefal, Nadal, Kumar, and Sholo could only gripe and complain as they slogged after the quickly advancing Mongo in the knee-high water. It did not help that almost immediately upon entering the swamp they were set upon by clouds of stinging mosquitoes and swarms of hungry leeches (which covered their legs and any bare flesh upon entering their domain).
As the party determinedly followed Mongo’s path, they heard yells, struggling and fighting ahead! Mongo, upon getting within a hundred yards or so of the lizard man lair, had been set upon by over two dozen of the scaly foes! With claws and bites they attempted to bring the ranger down, but Mongo quickly began weaving a web of death with his swords as the creatures hissed and clawed at him. Coming upon the battle, Kal quickly hit the area with Entangle, taking care of many of the creatures, and the battle was joined. Nadal, Sholo, Kumar, Cadelaine and Endefal soon found the environment was not ideal for fighting, as several times the mucky area played havoc with their footing, sending them sprawling wildly. Soon, more lizard man reinforcements met the party, including leader types. Mongo inexplicably once again left the group to go towards the entrance, and was set upon by three leaders near the entrance to the cave. Meanwhile Kal turned into a crocodile to facilitate travel in the swampy environs and headed, with Cadelaine, farther towards the frogmen encampment in case those creatures wished to join in…which appeared imminent, as they could see several hopping shapes coming towards the battle. The fighters and priests appeared to have the situation with the lizard men in hand, although the battle was far from elegant.
Distressed by the sight of several dozen hopping forms getting closer, Cadelaine used her fireball spell, sending the ball of flame directly where the mass of the froggy foes seemed collected. A gigantic explosion, a geyser of mud, burnt plants, and frog parts exploded out of the swamp, and in the aftermath the adventurers noticed the entire swamp had gone completely silent. They could hear the sounds of yelling and voices as far away as the city itself, as their presence had undoubtedly been noted by anyone with ears or eyes who was watching the swamp! Investigating the crater her fireball had caused, Kal and Cadelaine noticed no survivors from the fireball, but saw far away in the city several figures riding giant spiders buzzing the edges of the swamp trying to find the source of the noise and flames. They advanced no further, however, so Cadelaine was able to keep her wands in reserve just in case…
Deciding that enough attention had been drawn, the party made to head back. Mongo returned just in time as another wave of lizard men attacked, this group including a scaly shaman that cast entangle on the party. Cadelaine returned in time to kill the shaman with well placed arrows (assisted by a Fist of Faith by Endefal), and then cast web on the mass of lizard men to restrict their movement. When the few loose foes had been dealt with and healing had taken place, the web surrounding the remaining lizard men was torched, and the burnt reptiles (those that didn’t escape) were soon dealt with. Fully 30 of the lizard men had been killed in the carnage, and the area was churned up with blood, lizard man parts, and broken grasses all around the battle site.
Finally the party (quite beat up) headed back to the swamp’s edge, dirty, smelly, bloody, muddy, leech covered and soaked with disgusting swamp water. Immediately upon reaching the cave, they had to disrobe to clean their almost ruined clothing, and clean their weapons of the muck coating them. Very quickly several party members began feeling hot and faint, and were running fevers….exposure to the swamp waters (including swallowing same) and open wounds in the filthy area had already caused the beginnings of some sort of swamp fever. Quickly, Kal and Endefal cast Cure Disease on the four members showing the worst symptoms, and all the wounds were expertly cleaned and dressed by the priests to hopefully prevent any further disease. Clearly walking through the swamp pell-mell was not the best method, but what other choice had they to get to the city itself (or the lake where the dragon lurked)? Better plans would have to be made, now that the group had brought attention to themselves through the battle royale with the lizardmen and the fireball thrown by Cadelaine. After cleaning, healing and eating, the party set up watch for what might prove an uneasy evening now that the swamp creatures knew something new and powerful had invaded their territory…
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
The next morning, the party got up bright and early and formed a plan: they would first investigate the caves in their small spur, making sure nothing inside any of them would either do them harm, try to invade their cave, or contained a lot of treasure or magic. They marched to the east and came upon the first cave, with seemed to smell of dampness and wet. Cadelaine invisibly looked inside, and saw a very low ceilinged natural chamber that was filled with croaking frogs, some very large. Due to low visibility she couldn’t see anything much, and exited to tell the party what she had seen.
As the adventurers stood around trying to decide on a plan of action, a handful of the large frogs hopped out, and immediately began jumping on the adventurers and biting them! After the surprise of the attack, the frogs were killed, and found to have large sharp teeth and claws! Obviously they were going to be a big tougher to destroy than your average amphibian. Sticking his head in, Kal was rewarded by another wave of the deadly frogs. Nadal, Sholo, Alando, Kumar, and even the giant ape Gra Gra wanted nothing to do with crawling in the muddy, dark cave to battle biting frogs! Finally, Cadelaine cast Web inside, trapping most of the frogs, and the web was lit up with fire that burned many of the frogs away. Still, Mongo, Kal, Endefal and Cadelaine ended up having to stab quite a few of the frogs to death as the survivors swarmed in the mouth of the cave to be eventually cut down.
While this was happening, a small group of four wild boars found the party, and attacked in a rage. They were all killed except for one which was charmed and befriended by Kal, and while Gra Gra feasted on one, the other two were butchered and the meat brought back to the Base Cave to be eaten later that night….the fresh meat was great needed now that they were down to dried fruit and flour.
To the adventurer’s disappointment, after the killer frog cave was cleaned out, nothing except for one small gemstone was found inside the muddy cavern. The party wondered if all the caverns would be this much of a waste of time and resources, but still each had to be searched so nothing useful (or deadly to the party) might be left behind.
The second cave looked long abandoned and there were no tracks of anything in front of the overgrown entrance. Throwing a Continual Light rock inside, the light just dimly illuminated a cavern corridor. Suspicious of the feeling they were getting (cold inside with darkness that made even continual light dim), sure enough, reading some of the runes engraved on the walls told them what they feared: this cavern was a area consecrated to the God of Shadow! Much as the Temple of Shadow they had discovered many weeks earlier, this was another outpost to the ancient, evil religion. At this discovery the priests took the lead, and Endefal cautiously made his way forward to a fork in the corridor. Taking the right most passageway, it soon led into a large chamber with a large, shadowy looking being floating in it. At the sight of the party and their continual light rock, it began gliding towards them! Endefal’s turning was completely unsuccessful, and Kal’s magic spear shouted in joy at a chance to take down a shadow, particularly a “shadow wraith” (as the spear called the creature). Talon-Bar struck again and again, even after Kal was struck by the Shadow Wraith and drained of a point of strength. Finally, Kal’s spear seemed to suck up the essence of the shadow, and with a wail it disappeared.
Stopping to rest a minute, the party turned around and went down the other branch, which led to a larger cave. At the other end stood an alcove with what looked like an altar, and two statue to either side. Several flitting shapes were in the room, which the party immediately recognized as shadows. Endefal turned six of the creatures, and the party did battle with the four left, quickly destroying them. The six that were turned had floated to the altar, between the angry looking stone statues (which resembled aspects of Shadow). The room was searched, and a long dead, desiccated body was found (at the body’s disturbance one of the shadows seem much agitated, so the party assumed it might be the form of the dead body).
Determined to get at the treasure on the altar (which contained some swords, a set of bracers, and ivory tusks), yet equally sure the stone statues would come to life, Endefal and Kal came up with a plan: they carefully approached the statues, then suddenly each darted at a statue’s feet, and stone shaped them to the floor! Each was struck by the suddenly animated statue, but in both cases the stone statues were welded to the floor, unable to move! Now with their way clear, the party investigated the treasure (Endefal turning the shadows again, and they flew to the shadowrath’s old lair). Using Detect Magic and Detect Evil, they found the weapons, a golden container, and the bracer detected as magic….but one of the weapons (a longsword) detected as evil! Carefully handling the longsword, they dumped it into a sack with plans to dispose of it later. The other weapon (a morning star) might have been more useful, but a decision was made to hold on to it for awhile. The container held two potions, after testing were found to be useful, so they were put aside. Some gold and gems were also gathered, after which Endefal poured holy water on the altar and desecrated it. With a wail, the party heard the shadows from the other room disappear, and they made certain to take the bones within the chamber for a proper burial. Deciding to destroy the trapped statues, they struck from behind where the statue’s reach was difficult, and soon both guardians lay on the ground in stony pieces.
After desecrating the altar, the room seemed less cold and dark, and the party left satisfied they had ruined one more stronghold of the god of Shadow.
Another cave, this time against the south cliffside wall of the spur, showed only a small open area, then a pool of fresh water. Kal asked the Boar about the cave, and the wild boar told him that something nasty waited inside the pool, to leap out and grab anyone who drank at the water. Deciding to lure the creature out of the water, some wild boar guts (from the animals gutted earlier) were thrown in the water, attracting a large, clawed, slimy creature…a freshwater troll! Endefal, Mongo and Cadelaine quickly cut him down, as well as another that followed behind him, and dragged their bodies to be burnt. Conferring among themselves, the party decided that an underwater lair must be here, so Water Breathing was cast on Endefal, Kumar, Cadelaine and Mongo, and they swam in the dark depths to find the lair.
In the twisting, dark underwater passageways (lit by the continual light torch) they fought and killed another two scrags, and found a large heavy rusted chest covered in chains. Bringing it back to the surface (along with the bodies of the scrags, which were also burnt) they broke open the chains holding the swollen chest closed and found some gems and rusted silver within.
Calling it a day (as most if not all the spells of the mages and priests were gone), the party headed back in the growing darkness to their base cave. A giant meal of roast boar was prepared, a good change from the recent fare, and the party made plans to search the last two caves the next day, and then investigate further into the swamp to see what lay within. While resting that night, Endefal disposed of the evil longsword by stone shaping an opening in the rock wall of the cavern, dumping the sword inside, then closing the opening back up my sealing the stone wall...making recovery of the sword by any malign beings very difficult if not impossible.
Using his innate priestly power of identification, Alando handled the bracers and declared them Bracers of Regeneration....a highly valuable prize! After discussing it, the group decided they should go to Mongo....being in combat the most often he would benefit the most from the healing jewelry. The morning star, while apparently of good alignment and having powers, was put aside (as none of the party members had proficiency in it's use, and all had weapons they were comfortable with). After the meal and discussion, the party set watch so they could arise on the next day and finish exploration of the small spur valley, after which the swamp itself awaited.
Monday, March 1, 2010
After a day’s journey and a short tropical rain, the party came to the spot marked on Marsh’s map where the trail to Juma’s village would begin. Carefully walking the trail, they soon came to an unusual sight: a network of large (20-50 feet high) totem poles, each within about 100 feet of the other, stretching to either side of them in the jungle. Very carefully they made their way past the poles, which were decorated with religious symbols (the priests could detect many images of the native Delosian god Umgawa in the imagery), feeling a slight tingling as they did so. The druid soon noticed that on this side of the totems, no reptiles of any sort (snakes, lizards, turtles, etc) could be seen. He told the others of this unnatural phenomenon, and the group speculated that this powerful magic is probably what let the tribe survive so close to the Yuan-ti stronghold and the
After walking awhile, the party noticed several shapes in the trees, and soon they were surrounded by almost 100 native warriors. A jovial, fat native and what looked like a phalanx of bodyguards and shamans came out of the trees, approaching them while shouting in Ashante. Mongo and Alando both spoke the tongue and came forward to parley. The large man turned out to be the chief they sought, Juma, and he questioned them carefully as his shamans cast spells on the pair. After showing him the note written by Marsh, and assuring him the party did not have evil intent (backed up by the results of the scrying spells cast by the shamans), Juma happily invited them to the village for a feast.
As they reached the village, the party could see it was very isolated, not used to outsiders or visitors (particularly any with white skin except for Marsh and his associates). The elf drew particular attention, with Kal and the ape Gra-Gra coming in for many looks of fear and astonishment (apparently a full-blooded elf had never made it this far into the interior of
A feast and entertainment (music with drums and dancing) was soon begun, with Mongo and Alando acting as translators for Juma’s questions. As they had guessed, Juma told them that the network of totem poles that surrounded the several square miles of jungle the village was set on kept out all reptiles, including the deadly serpent men (who could not come within 10 feet of a pole, and when passing through them suffered great pain, forced them into their true serpentish form, and incapacitated them until they could be killed). He said the poles were centuries old, a gift from the god Umgawa, who placed them around the village one day after sending the secret of their creation to the village shaman in his dreams. Over the years more poles were made and the originals and the new ones were slowly moved outward, expanding the village’s area of protection from a few hundred yards to a few miles. More and bigger poles were continually being made and enchanted by the tribe’s shamans, and these were used to expand the ring of protection still more, and some were even used to form “rest stations” here and there in the jungle where no reptiles could enter. Juma indicated that the first shamans that created totems were guided by dreams of Umgawa, who told them their village would be needed close to the
Juma told them that often the serpentmen’s allies and servants (particularly the hated tasloi) would attempt to destroy poles, so much time and effort was spent building protecting the old ones and constructing new ones. In fact, one of the main trade items the tribe sought were long smooth tree trunks. Marsh’s group (from House Mith) were the only “outsiders” the tribe did any commerce with, giving them dates, exotic fruits and animal hides in exchange for beads, cowrie shells, tools and steel weapons (with which to hunt and combat snakemen)
After a few amusing interludes (one where Juma attempted to marry off Mongo to one of his fat daughters, and another where he tried to purchase the “exotic” looking Cadelaine until Mongo made clear that Cadelaine was “his” and not to be bartered away), the darkness came and fires were lit, and Juma got down to business. After hearing the adventurer’s stories about the yuan ti slavers and the search for House Valaryan’s men, he told the party that the serpent men slavers were getting bolder in recent years, seeking more humanoid victims for sacrifice, food, or to be changed into histaachi or ophidian servants. He admitted that he recently had lost one of his many sons (a young man named Zura) to the claws of the serpent men, and would pay dearly to get him back. He had many tales to tell about the
Even in the relative safety of the village, the party set out a watch, so it was that after midnight strange noises were heard by Mongo and Sholo when on duty. Sounds of cries cut off, as well as rustling in the bushes, caused them to summon the rest of the sleeping party. Suddenly, half a dozen shapes came towards them in the darkness, with eyes lit by a red glow, obviously undead zombie men! The battle was joined, and the walking zombies proved to be terrible foes. The rest of the party joined the battle, and were dismayed to find the zombies had many powers including resistance to non-magical weapons, and the ability to ignore illusions (even Cadelaine’s invisibility, as she found after one chased her around and around the battle area). Endefal was able to turn five more that showed up through the bushes, but the ones remaining were tough and deadly foes. Village members that showed up to battle them were quickly killed as most of their weapons were non-magical and ineffective, so the party took the lead in battling the undead horrors. Soon, all the zombies lay chopped into pieces as the chief and his bodyguards arrived, solemnly telling the party that the patrolling guards had all been killed stealthily by the “ju ju zombies”. Juma told them that this appearance of the undead was unprecedented, which got the party to wondering if someone was keeping their eye on or following them…and had sent the zombies hoping to catch them unawares.
The next morning, the party got ready to leave, and Juma gave them gifts….magical arrows effective against serpentmen, many sacks of supplies consisting of dried fruit and water (to be stored in Endefal’s bag of holding), a Ring of Jumping, a magic stick that fired lightning bolts (happily taken by Cadelaine, who was slowly getting quite a collection of magical wands!) and one rather large gift: a 50 foot totem pole to act as a ward against reptiles! Although the gift was large, bulky and impractical, the party realized that the protection it offered was worth the trouble of hauling it through the jungle. Bidding Juma and the village farewell, the party started off the five miles or so to the only known entrance into the
After a few hours, the party found many signs of the serpent men’s spoor and tracks. They stealthily crept to the entrance marked on the map, which stood inside a giant, mountainous cliffside covered with lianas, vines and bushes. The forbidding entrance was sure to be guarded, so while the party rested, Mongo decided to use the flying power of the sword Sentinel to fly up the cliffside and look at what lay at the top.
Borrowing Cadelaine’s invisibility ring, the flying fighter was astonished at what lay in front of him as he flew above the tall trees (some more than 100 feet tall) and cleared the cliff walls. On the other side of the large hill was an entire city in a huge rift there in the jungle! Perhaps a couple of square miles in circumference, from his vantage point 400 feet above Mongo could make out many buildings, towers, pyramids, pillars, and streets…all strewn with rubble and overgrown by foliage. The entire eastern end of the city was a gigantic swamp and lake, and looked quite formidable. The cliffs looked almost vertical and practically unclimbable…it would take quite an effort to enter the City not using the main entrance.
From his vantage point high above, Mongo could make out creatures moving on the thoroughfares….serpentmen, leading slave trains! He also made out several hopping figures near the swamp and the areas near there, obviously the horrible frogmen. As his power of flight only lasted an hour, he quickly looked around for any suitable area that the adventurers might enter the valley, and make camp. Seeing a likely spur of the valley a mile or so north, he quickly flew back down to the party and told them they were in for a long hike….
Talking together, the party discussed their next move, and decided entering through the main entrance would be foolhardy as it was likely to be well-guarded. Instead, they would climb the hill, and head around the cliff tops until they reached the small wooded area Mongo had glimpsed, which was separated from the
The rest of the day was hard going. The party hiked their way up the very steep mountainside perhaps 300 ft, then stood at the rim of the cliffs over the valley to take in what Mongo has described. Several features jumped out at them…the massive swamp, a large fortification of frogmen in the swamp, serpentmen walking the streets (the sight of them driving slaves in chains before them burned at Endefal’s very being, but patience was called for so he stood there fuming), the obviously ancient structures....here lay an entire "lost" city awaiting discovery!
Walking the precarious ledge of the cliffs, the adventurers made their way around the edge of the cliffside towards the spot Mongo had found from the air. Luckily they had no encounters, but did notice a lot of giant wasps flying to and fro in the air above the city, and uncomfortably close to the cliff tops. It was 400 feet at least from the clifftops to the city below, and it was very steep in many spots. They passed most of the swamp, and observed a lake there that seemed to go into the very cliff itself, with a waterfall coming from some underground river falling into it. Although numerous crocs were seen sunning themselves and swimming in the waters, no sign of a dragon-like being was witnessed.
Finally they made their way around the valley, and saw the area Mongo had spotted...it looked perfect, with a profusion of giant vines extended all along the cliff face the entire 350-400 feet of the cliff side. Only one problem: the nests of the giant wasps they had seen seemed to be congregated in the very spot! Careful observation showed the wasps nested in holes and caves on the side of the cliff obscured by vines….which was the only safe way down! Putting their heads together, a complicated but sure plan was developed. Making use of Cadelaine’s ring of invisibility and the ring of feather falling, each person in turn would put them on, jump off the cliff, and invisibly float to the ground. Mongo would then fly down, collect the rings, fly them back up, and the ritual would begin again. The totem pole, still under influence of one of Cadelaine’s levitation spells, could be levitated down also. As long as they were careful and Mongo did not attact any attention, they would be protected from wasp attacks (they hoped!)
The party decided on this course of action, and one by one the party went down into the valley spur, into the tall green trees and foliage. (Even the ape Gra-Gra, after much prompting by Kal, wore the rings and floated down, seemingly much amused by the procedure). They attracted a small bit of attention from the wasps when the totem pole was lowered, but the curious insects quickly buzzed away after finding it of no interest. Finally on the floor of the valley, the party almost immediately came upon perhaps a half dozen caves in the walls of the cliffs there. Inspecting one of the larger opening, they found they cave inside cool and dry, with a sandy floor, and nothing inside except for various bugs and bats. The interior was large (40x30) and contained a spur that lead to a freshwater pool fed by an underground stream! Surely the blessings of their various gods were upon them, and they claimed the cave as their “base” for further exploration. The totem pole was erected at the entrance of the cavern, after the fighter’s dug a deep pit to place it securely. It’s position would allow it to ward against any reptiles entering the cavern as it was placed within 10 feet of the opening. Kal and Endefal used the spell Stone Shape to mold and transform the entrance of the cavern….soon, they had the very wide opening down to a manageable 10x10 by shaping the stone, adding boulders, and sculpting the rocks down to a smaller entrance (to prevent any larger creatures from inspecting the opening or coming inside). The rest of the party was kept busy clearing out the cave, where they found large, gnawed bones indicating the presence at one time of a large predator….but the tracks and spoor were very old, and the cave apparently had not been used as a lair for some time.
A cursory look around the outside area (which was perhaps 100 yards wide and 500 yards long) showed signs of some creatures, as Mongo found tracks of wild boar, hyenas and lizardmen….but exploration would have to be put off until the next day as night was quickly falling, and in the valley with the steep cliffs, large vines and tall trees (some growing over 100 feet to reach the sunlight) it was soon pitch black as even the stars could not be seen! Setting their watch, and starting a small cook fire, the party indulged after their strenuous and difficult day with the last remaining fresh meat and cheese on hand…unless they found fresh meat they would be stuck eating dried fruit or biscuits from the flour they had been given by Marsh. Even a rare chance to bathe and wash the dirt and grime from their bodies was possible by hauling water from the freshwater pool into one of the smaller spurs, a luxury they had not had in the last week (the stench from Kumar was particularly awful; for some reason, the native priest seemed not to notice the eye-watering effect it had on nearby people and was encouraged to bathe by Endefal and the others).
Endefal cast a divination spell that evening; out of curiosity he asked “Where is the dragon?” and his deity showed him an image of the swamp, and especially the lake portion, and a voice said to him “Underneath the water”…which prompted Endefal to think perhaps the dragon had a lair behind the waterfall or in a underwater cave there. Although not talking of it much, the idea of a dragon being so close both intrigued and perhaps frightened the party of adventurers, as they felt it’s might would perhaps have to be dealt with if any exploration of the swamp was to take place. For this evening, however, they had a protected area for the first time in many days, and took advantage of it…tomorrow they would inspect the rest of the valley spur, checking the other caves to make sure no threats existed in their immediate vicinity, before crossing the swamp to investigate the city.