Serpent's Skull

Day Eight

A disconcerting discovery

Day Eight
Takara, Mitabu, Rena, and Bik left the others at the campsite (Takara ordered double-watches), while they continued exploring the game-trail. Continuing west, they found more snare-spike traps (Takara tripped more than a couple). Eventually the trail came to end at another abandoned campsite (R17), this one notably contained several broken sawtooth sabers along with the same burned timbers, bone fragments, and bloodstains discovered at the other campsites. Searching the campsite, Takara found a beautiful dagger etched with the sign of the Red Mantis. When he showed the weapon to Rena, she refused to believe that a Mantis assassin had been killed, and explained that no one on Ilizmagorti has even seen a mantis assassin, as they conduct all of their business through intermediaries.

Rena asked Takara about his own past, and he explained that he was captured by Chelish raiders and sold into slavery. Bik counseled Takara to let go of the past when Takara mentioned his desires for vengeance. Returning to the path, they began heading south. The path wound through a 10-foot wide gulch with 50 foot tall slopes. Takara suddenly tripped a snare, and was hauled half-way up the western slope. At the top of the ridge were two deeply tanned and scarred small humans with dark skin holding the snare’s other end who began pulling Takara (now bound in the snare) up the hill. Bik managed to rush forward and sever the vine with a sniper-shiruken strike and Mitabu caught Takara as he fell back to the floor of the gulch. Takara took his vengeance by using his longbow to explode one of the cannibals, but the other managed to escape after Rena was able to only land a glancing blow on him with her sling.

The party continued along the path, which led to a small clearing containing a partially collapsed hut on the banks of a stream. The hut itself seemed to have been made from a combination of driftwood and tree trunks, with a roof of wide leaves and strips of rotten canvas sail. Dozens of bones and skulls—quite obviously of human origin—decorated the hut and the surrounding area, each bearing numerous nicks and scratches. Moving in and searching the hut, Rena spied a thin leather-bound journal in a sheltered niche. Though mostly erased by the passage of time, the following fragments were legible:

…many survived, the Thrune’s Fang will never sail again. Sargava’s assimilation must proceed without…
…fine hunting on the Shiv, but the bugs are a constant distraction. Nylithati’s skills at healing help fight the sickness, but I fear she has…
…founded. Nylithati has seized control of my crew. They are hers now. And so I have abandoned…
…fine home. Fresh water nearby and I need not endure Nylithati’s ceaseless raving about…
…will not be returning to that gray, silent island again. There is nothing there but horror…
…crew lurking about the area. They seem strange, almost feral. It has been almost a decade since the wreck. I wonder what strange beliefs Nylithati has…
…changed. There was no sign of Nylithati in the camp, but the focus of their ceremony was a cauldron they must have salvaged from the Thrune’s Fang at the base of the ruined lighthouse. It was into this they threw the half-eaten body of the still screaming man…
…all around. I can hear them chanting in the green even now. They call Nylithati “Mother Thrunefang” now, and promise me immortality if I lay down my arms and submit. I know what their immortality consists of, and I’ll have no part of that corrupt life after…

Leaving the hut, the party camped at an intersection of the path. The night was not uneventful however, as the party was woken up by the screams of Rena, who gasped about big wings and something falling from the sky. What fell was the corpse of a goat, most of the blood plainly drained from its broken body, via a grisly wound in its neck. In the darkness, none of the companions could draw a bead on their flying harasser, and the rest of the night passed uneventfully.

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Apellon

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