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!
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.