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.
Ajada (native Ashante warrior): An employee of House Valaryan, Ajada is a caravan leader. His job is to relay orders between the merchants sponsoring and travelling with the caravan and the native drovers, porters and bearers who take care of the animals, carry the supplies and guard the caravans that pass travel through the jungle. Ajada is typical of his profession, a no nonsense, mirthless man who has proven to be trustworthy in the past and very good at his job. Due to several odd pronouncements the party suspects he might have cannibal blood somewhere in his family tree...
Alando (human priest of Vistna): A tall gangly young man who is awkward in social situations, Alando came to the Temple of Vistna in Port Maurgre under circumstances he won't divulge (except to say he was being "punished" for some undeclared fault). As the newest and youngest priest at the temple he had been assigned to the high priest, Vespasian, and often runs errands for him. He has been assigned to travel with the party to the fabled "Elephant's Graveyard" deep in the jungles of Delos (and later the "Forbidden City" even deeper in the jungle's depths). Along the way he has become a bit more outgoing and has risked his life for the party, especially for Cadelaine who he has developed a bit of a crush on.
Ardu (native Delosian human Ranger): Ardu is the uncle of Mongo, and left his tribe long ago to work with House Valaryan. Over the years he has become a trusted and valuable guide for trading expeditions. As a youth Mongo and his brothers always looked up to Ardu, who has a blunt, black humorish style about him that endears him to most. He has taken Mongo under his wing since the destruction of his village, and has been assigned by Gam to look out for and educate the adventurers on the dangers of the jungle and how to survive them. Later developments find Ardu kidnapped by the evil serpent men and taken as a captifve to their stronghold, the Forbidden City (where Mongo and his friends have traveled to rescue him)
Ark (human ranger): A evil mercenary in the employ of House Tarn, he and his group were hired to steal a map of the Elephant's Graveyard that had come into the hands of the priesthood of Vistna. After stealing the map, Ark and his companions were then paid to find the Graveyard and secure the area so that House Tarn could exploit it (killing anyone who got in their way). Unfortunately, on the way to the Graveyard his party was attacked by cannibal headhunters, and then by the group of adventurers, and he and the other mecenaries were defeated. Captured for questioning, a Helm of Alignment Change was placed on his head, and now Ark loyally serves with the party due to his new LG nature. Ark perished in combat with the priest of the elephant god, Honapo, as he was stung to death by summoned wasps then crushed by a clay golem.
CADELAINE (silver half-elven mage/thief): Daughter of a silver elven ambassador to The League and the head of House Valaryan (making her Nadal's half-sister), Cadelaine stowed away on a merchant ship to Delos to save her adopted family from future problems. Her mother (a sorceress) having passed away, and her father refusing to acknowledge her, Cadelaine moved in with a local baker's family whose son idolized her. Learning the fine art of burglary with her friend to supplement her adopted family's income, she felt she had to leave as she became older and her resemblance to her father became more pronounced (perhaps causing trouble in the future as questions would be asked). Taking a ship to as far away a location as she could, she hopes to start a new life far from the sad reminders of her past. She has been employed by House Valaryan to obstensibly work off her debt for the ship ride to Delos.
Captain Bohema (Human corsair): The Captain of "The Morning Sun" is a large, bawdy man. His job seems to be a continuous circuit of trips, from Delos (where he picks up trade good such as mahogany, ivory and spices) back to the League several thousand miles away, where he unloads his booty to gather steel weapons, beads, and cheap gems, and then back to Delos. Not without compassion, he took Cadlaine under his wing when he found her stowed away aboard his ship bound for Delos, and rescued Endefal when he was found floating in the ocean. He recommended both to House Valaryan as employees on his judge of character.
Damu (wererat warrior): An inhabitant of the Forbidden City, he is one of the leaders of the wererat clan that has existed in the long abandoned sewer system for many centuries. Enemies of the serpentmen, they have quietly battled their reptilian foes from the shadows. Recently Damu and his ratkin have attempted to capture and turn the party to lycanthropy for the good of the wererat clan. His plan failed, and he managed to escape to perhaps again plot for the capture and corruption of the party.
Desteri (human mercenary fighter): A member of a ill-fated caravan raided by serpentmen, Desteri was captured, then escaped, from the reptilian clutches and eventually made his way to the mongrelmen's camp in the Forbidden City. Soon charmed by the elven mage Aratheas, he was her willing bodyguard and plaything until a Free Will spell cast by Endefal gave him his mind back. Escaping with the party after the death of Aratheas and confrontation with the mongrelmen, he was found to be a crude, rude and impetuous warrior with few redeeming qualities but his sword. Soon charmed again by Kal, he followed orders until once again being freed from the charm by a inadvertent Dispel Magic. Taking back up his impetuous ways, he was badly injured by a group of evil Kani dolls who he accidentally activated while adventuring underground. For now, he is still with the party until they tire of his nature, or charm him again. Finally, catching the figther in the act of searching Cadelaine's unconcious body, Alando attacked him and was seriously injured. Mongo at that point was fed up with the ill-mannered mercenary and chopped his head off, ending his brief association with the party.
ENDEFAL (gold half-elven priest of Attar): Little is known of Endefal's past, except that he was captured and held aboard a Taranthian slave vessel, where he learned the word of Attar from another priest posing as a simple slave. When that slave-priest was beaten to death, Endefal found his calling in the word of Attar, and attempted to destroy the ship many times until he finally escaped. Found floating in the ocean by Captain Bohema of House Valaryan, he is being employed by them to work off his debt for his rescue. Endefal is quiet, brooding, and has a hatred for slavers that perhaps encompases even Mongos.
Gam (human ?): Called "The Patriarch" by most members and employees of House Valaryan, Gam is a older, scarred, grizzled individual of a few years. How he came to Delos, and how he became the leader of House Valaryan on Delos is unknown. He is gruff and blunt, but not entirely cruel. Above all he seems to be motiviated by profit, for himself or his masters at House Valaryan no one knows.
Gra-Gra (Carnivorous ape companion of Kal): Charmed and befriended instead of killed, Gra-Gra has proven to be quite a beneficial addition to the adventurers. Fighting with the strength and ferocity of any warrior, he has proven himself time and again a valuable fighting force. His habit of stopping to take a bite of almost anything he kills in battle (usually by ripping it in half with his claws) is distasteful but .... Sadly, the ape was killed in battle, burnt to a crisp by a delayed blast fireball cast by The Immortal King in the caverns under Kitanga.
Horan (Black necromancer in the Forbidden City): A enigmatic force in the city, he controls many of the patrolling undead that walk the streets of the ruins. He says he is only there in search of ancient knowledge, whether foe or ally cannot be determined, although he seems to be bearing a grudge for injuries to his servant Kwano (a female necromancer apprentice of his) by the party, and is apparantly shadowing them through undead servants such as bonebats. To display his power he killed the priest Endefal with a Death Spell, and seems to have various unusual and deadly spells at his disposal (as well as the power to speak and act through undead). He resides in a large, well kept mansion in the city's SW area, behind a stone wall, guarded by various undead creations.
KALPHISTANE (gold elven druid): Kal (as he is known) was part of an ill-fated expedition to find some trace of an elven force that had landed on Delos over 500 years ago and then disappeared. With members of the Vistnan priesthood assisting, the expedition had not gone far into the jungle before being attacked by the dreaded Snake-men and their allies, killing his mentor and the other elves Kal traveled with. Returning to Port Mauge with the survivors, Kal stayed with the Vistnan priesthood awaiting further contact with the priesthood of Faerel. As the weeks wore on he realized that no further assistance would arrive, and is now working for House Valaryan to pay his way and hopefully use his time with them to become more attuned to the jungle so he can search for this lost elven city on his own.
Kumar (human native priest of Attar): Rescued by the party from slavers, this horribly scarred young man (a large ugly whip lash crosses his face) found Attar when he prayed the night he was captured. The god came to him and offered him help if he would assist others who also had been taken slaves, and thus Kumar became an acolyte. Seeking out Endefal when he had been rescued, Endefal realized the native boy had been touched by Attar, and took him on to guide him. Since then Kumar has participated in the group's adventures, often showing a reckless disregard for his safety when he rushes into combat unarmored screaming "Attar" and wielding a large war club.
MONGO (native Delosian ranger): Mongo watched his entire family except for an older brother taken captive and sold off into slavery by Tzulan warriors working for the Taranthian priesthood. They were not the first or the last Ashante tribe to be treated thus, so he swore sword vengeance against the Tzulans and their Taranthian masters and vowed to slay them and rescue his family. His older brother left him in the care of his uncle Ardu (who is employed at House Valaryan as a ranger scout) while he tries to track down their family and get word back to Mongo to join him. By then it is hoped that with the teachings of his Uncle Ardu, Mongo will have become an experienced and deadly warrior. Now that Mongo has taken up worship of the Elephant God and wields the sword Sentinel, he has also become the protector of the Armec tribe in their secret valley. Mongo's chosen enemy is the serpent men and any reptilian monster, due to some unspecified event that happened early in his life.
Roho (Human native fighter): Roho was an Ashante tribesman who was assigned to guard Kalphistane during a battle against Tzulan warriors. Kalphistane was the first elf Roho had ever seen, coupled with the elven druid's flaming spear, spell use, and generaly inability to fight well, Roho had assigned himself to guarding the druid and protecting him in battle. Kal's exoticness and spell use made him (in Roho's mind) an emissary of the Forest Gods so he must be protected. After several adventures with the party, Roho was killed with a poisoned blade while battling the evil mercenary thief Jakk
Sholo (native fighting man): Sholo was part of the Armec tribe, a "lost' tribe that had for centuries lived in the valley of the elephant and then guarded the entrance to the valley (after being chased out by the evil priest Honapo). Sholo was the chief's son, fully ready to take over the dying tribe for his father when the burden of leadership was passed on. The arrival of a group of adventurers, who destroyed Honapo and made the valley once again safe for habitation, was a turning point in the young man's life. Inspired by these heroes, especially their leader Mongo, he vowed to follow them to learn more about the outside world and experience adventure. Perhaps he could also spread word of the Elephant God, and someday come back to lead his people with the experience and wisdom of having traveled the jungles of Delos. Sholo is quite young and raw but quite strong and fast, and after being given a magical short sword by Mongo, has proven quite skilled in it's use.
SIR NADAL KINSWORTH VALARYAN (human fighter): 5th son of the present head of House Valaryan, Nadal has been sent to far-off Delos to get him out of the way so he won't muddy the waters of succession. Thinking he was beng sent to Delos in order to take command of an army of men, Nadal quickly had his hopes dashed as he given the the lowest position (mercenary) upon reaching the House Valaryan outpost in Port Maugre. However, despite some initial disappointment and prissiness, Nadal has seemed to adapt well to the vagaries of life in the jungle and is looking at the experience as a "toughening up" period that will make him even more suitable to one day lead House Valaryan
Talith (human fighter): Talith is head warrior of House Valaryan. Although not a native Delosian, he has come to know the jungle well after many years serving the merchant house there. All preparations for trade expeditions are nominally under his control. Right now he is stationed in the Valley of the Elephant supervising the gathering and shipment of hundreds of pounds of valuable ivory
Tula and Ular (native Ashante warriors): Twin brothers of a young age, the two cheerful warriors were captured by serpentmen to be used as sacrifces. Escaping their clutches, they joined the mongrelmen area of the Forbidden City and were well liked by their fellow "lost explorers". Escaping with the party after the mongrelmen attacked following a mishap, they loyally follow the party in their quest. They are especially impressed by Mongo, who they hero worship from afar. Unfortunately, Ular had been bitten by a wererat while in the undertemple below the city, and after showing signs of being ill, changed into a giant rat and disappeared into the darkness.
Vespasian (human priest of Vistna): The head of the temple of Vistna in Port Maugre, the old gray haired scholar has spent many years in the jungle port. He seems to be driven (like many other Vistnan priests) by a thirst for knowledge about the jungle continent, it's legends, history and people. He is known for sponsoring expeditions into the jungle interior to aquire ancient or forbidden knowledge.