Serpent's Skull

Days 9, 10, & 11
The Captured Cannibal

Day Nine
The party awoke and decided to head southward along the trail. As they hiked, Rena raised her concerns about the goat corpse which had fallen from the sky the night before, and worried that the goat was one of their own from the main campsite. Takara reminded her of the hut that they had found yesterday and journal mentioning the Thrunefangs, a gang of cannibals that he fears pose a danger to themselves and their former shipmates at the main camp. He argued that they needed to either find a way off the island or find the Thrunefangs’ camp, or they might end up ambushed.

Takara, then spied a giant creature, some kind of flying lizard with brownish-red wings and a dark grey body, heading south-easterly with something caught in its claws. It seemed strangely familiar to Takara, whose childhood on the Cinderlands of the Storval Plateau. The lizard reminded him of the chupacabra, a bipedial lizard-like predator which inhabits the desserts and fringes of civilization. However, to his knowledge chupacabra neither inhabit jungles nor have wings. He didn’t raise the sighting of the beast to any of his companions’ attention, and they continued along the path which wound closer to the shore.

At a fork in the road (Q29), Takara triggered yet another snare-spike trap. After receiving some healing from Rena, the party decided to take the west branch. After an hour of uneventful travel (save for mosquito bites), Takara fell into yet another trap, only this time, a swarm of spiders was crossing through the jungle, and thought he looked like tasty, bleeding prey. Rena and Mitabu let loose on the spiders with their magics (fire and force respectively) but they continued to advance. Bik, attempting to cut Takara down with a shiruken managed instead to deeply wound Takara in the stomach with a critical miss. No longer trusting his companions to aid him, Takara cut himself down and tumbled gracefully from the trees to the path. Mitabu blasted the last of the spiders. Rena broke out her healers kit to repair some of the damage done to Takara, she mentioned that she’s used about half of supplies since they’ve arrived on the island.

Continuing west, the party ran into another Y-intersection along the path (W29). After an hour of heading west, Takara heard the sounds of a guttural language and the sound of several folks traveling along the path up ahead around a curve in the path. He ordered everyone into the bushes as four darkly-tanned cannibals with wild eyes and scarred skin came around the bend. Unfortunately, the cannibals were better at searching the jungle then Mitabu, Rena, and Bik were at hiding, and the front two cannibals screamed and drew broken scimitars. As the melee began, Takara called out to leave one of the cannibals alive.

Takara, Rena, and Mitabu used their missile attacks while Bik lept into path of the oncoming cannibals to keep them from passing through to the others. They companions managed to swiftly dispatch one of the two cannibals who had hung back to toss javelins, and the other took off running. While Mitabu, Rena, and Bik dealt with the remaining two, Takara undertook a footrace with the fleeing cannibal, eventually managing to take it out with his longbow after a chase of almost a quarter-mile. When Takara returned to the battle, he found that Bik had pinned the one living cannibal. Bik knocked him unconscious, and the party lashed him to a wooden pole and carried him back to camp.

Upon returning to the camp, Takara revealed the prisoner and ordered Sasha to ready her knives to interrogate the captive. Jask and Gelik questioned Takara about his seeming willingness to torture the cannibal. Gelik finally confronted him openly, demanding that Takara do the interrogation so that the “blood would be on [his] hands.” Gelik followed Sasha to the captive, and everyone in the camp hear much screaming, but it turns out that neither one of them could communicate with the captive. His screams were not borne of torture, but were just plain ol’ nonresponsive screams. Takara and Mitabu went down to see whether the cannibal spoke polyglot (he did not). Takara spoke with Jask and found him willing to request comprehend languages spells from his deity in order to facilitate the interrogation. Jask confessed that, while generally opposed to torture, he was very worried about the dangers of bringing a captive (especially a screaming one) to their campsite. Moreover, he shared Takara’s utilitarianism and pragmatism, these are after all, cannibals, and set about to prepare the necessary spell.

Mitabu meanwhile, asked Jask to delay his preparation of spells for a brief game of chess and some conversation, where Mitabu asked Jask whether he would continue traveling with the party after they left the Shiv. Jask confessed that he first desired to clear his name, but that he would certainly consider continuing on Mitabu et al., he also won the chess match.

Day Ten – 1 a.m.
Jask cast the necessary spells to allow Sasha and the captive to communicate. Sasha began to interrogate the cannibal, although Gelik prevented her from drawing her daggers and torturing him. Apparently, while the cannibal did complement Sasha’s busom, he refused to answer her questions. Sasha commented that while not smart, he cannibal seemed well indoctrinated. Instead of capitulating the cannibal threatened that the Mother of the tribe would send a rescue for him, and that the tribe would “suck the marrow from your bones, render your fat, and feast on your flesh.” Having received nothing helpful, Takara (with Gelik’s assent) killed the captive.

The party spent the rest of the day relocating the camp (to R29.5). Takara gave the Red Mantis dagger that he found at the ruined campsite to Sasha as a one-week anniversary gift. He inquired whether the Mantis had sent any parties to the Shiv, but Sasha stated that she had no idea. She supposed that shipwreck seemed like the most likely way to get them to the island, but that often no one other than the assassins assigned to a case knew what or who the target was. Thus, she had no way of knowing. Meanwhile, Mitabu encouraged Aerys to finish the Cantos, and she confessed that their recent travels had provided her with much in the way of new inspiration.

Day Eleven
Takara and his companions set out along the east path from the new campsite, hoping to avoid the cannibal’s headquarters. After a two hour trip through the jungle, they arrived at a rickety rope-bridge (K32) which they crossed one after another. The trail ascended unrelentingly before reaching an intersection: north or west. Takara urged them north, and the path moved further up the rocky ground towards the summit of a low mountain, which turned out to be the highest point on the entire island. Although barren of vegetation and composed of strange rust-red stones, the peak provided a vertiginous view of the surrounding blue of the seemingly endless ocean. Also, the companions could see the entire island, most notably a lighthouse and some smaller buildings at the south-westerly most corner of the island (CC35) and a strangely drab and grey island to the northwest. Takara pointed out the buildings and surmised that they must contain the base of operations of the cannibals. Rena noted that the lighthouse could be their ticket out if they could use it to signal passing ships.

The companions decided to explore the western branch of the trail, which wound down to the seashore rather than up into the mountain. Along the shore they spied four stone monoliths appearing as jagged stalagmites of rock protruding from the grass at the edge of a bluff. Each had a snakelike rune carved into the inner face of the stones, all facing a three-foot-high pyramid-shaped block of stone in the center of the four spires. The vegetation and soil surrounding the pyramid had been trimmed back to fully expose the stone block into view. Additionally, the peak of the central basin of the pyramid has a cup-shaped indentation, with channels running down the four sides into empty basins at the bottom of the pyramid. Mitabu noted that this architecture was clearly beyond the capacity of the cannibals, but was unable to identify its origin or purpose. Puzzled, but with no idea of what the site was/is used for, the companions decided to return to camp.

The party decided to explore the western branch of the path

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.

Shipwrecked - Week One

Mitabu and Takara were on the Jenivere, a vessel captained by Alizandru Kovack, and headed for Sargava before the ship mysteriously changed course. Although the captain insisted this was a shortcut, the crew was suspicious. However, before these issues were resolved, everyone was poisoned and vessel was wrecked upon the notorious “Smuggler’s Shiv,” an island south of the Sargavan colonies.

Although most of the crew and passengers perished in the wreck, you survived along with 6 other passengers: the Tian sailor named Ishirou, the cleric Jack Derindi, the red-haired, seemingly bi-polar warrior(?) Sasha Nevah, gnome comedian Gelik Aberwhinge, the attractive and alcoholic half-elf Aerys Mavato, and your companions, Renaelde “Rena” Shazmne, a half-elven who you suspect is some kind of primitive cleric (witch), and Bik Unkgart, a beardless, heavily scarred and tattooed dwarven martial artist.

The party established a primitive base of operations on the beachhead after waking up on the shore and beset by sea scorpions. From the vomiting and the splitting headache you were able to determine that your last meal on board the ship was poisoned, although the motive remains unclear. Takara took control of the situation and directed the NPCs to construct a shelter and sent others in search of the Jenivere’s wreck, spotted to the West. Taking command of the situation, Takara alienated Sasha who stormed off into the wilderness. Prince Takara set out after her, and convinced her to return to camp.

After finding the wreck of the Jenivere, and fending off more sea scorpions, it became clear that you were all rescued by the first mate, Alton, who perished at the hands of either someone’s rapier or wounds from a sea scorpion on board the wreck. You have also discovered in the Captain’s log that something was going on between him and Ieana, a bookish Varisan scholar who was traveling to Sargava to explore ancient runes there. The captain’s log, at first containing only poorly written love songs to Ileana turned sinister towards the end, as he complained about how the crew was eyeing “his Ieana” and wrote several times about how he wished that the first mate, Alton would “have an accident.” In the final entry, the Captain wrote that he’d changed course for Smuggler’s Shiv at Ieana’s request, in spite of the crew’s agitation, and hopes that the two of them can make a home on the remote island. The final line muses that “something may need to be done about the crew” if their suspicions get any worse.

Also on the wreck of the Jenivere you discovered that the cook had been killed by a bite from a vicious snake and stuffed into a cabinet on board the vessel. This led to Rena accusing Mitabu of being in league with the captain, as he had displayed that he possesses similar abilities earlier that day when he grew fangs and killed a sea scorpion with a nearly identical wound. Although she remains suspicious, Mitabu was able to make a colorable claim of innocence by noting that he too was present during dinner and was poisoned.

Returning to camp, you learned from Ishirou that you were on Smuggler’s Shiv, a notorious island north of Eleder. The island is named not only for the knife-like shape of its coastline, but for its uncanny habit of wrecking ships that draw too near—mostly smugglers eager to avoid detection by Sargava’s navy. He has heard the place is haunted by ghosts, and indeed, during the night you believe you may have seen a ghost in the glowing waves, but were attacked by a shark and forced to withdraw from the heaving seas.

The wreck also contained several keys, one of which you used to free Jask, a cleric of Nethys, who claims that he used to work for the Sargavan government and discovered proof of corruption involving illicit deals with the Free Captains of the Shackles. When he confronted his superior he was betrayed and framed with the same crimes. He fled, but was arrested in Corentyn and placed with the Captain to be sent to Sargava. He has asked you to look for the wreck of the Brine Demon, which he has heard was wrecked on the island, for perhaps that vessel, captained by Avret Kinkarian one of the Free Captains allegedly involved in the deals in his investigation, will have proof of his innocence.

Takara was able to win over the trust of Aerys, who had bitterly disliked him for his refusal to hand her over some booze, and the fact that she is distrustful of those who she thinks are flirting with her (and the fact that he dangled a potion of cure disease in front of her and refused to give it to her). She has confessed that she wishes to be cured of alcoholism and asked the party to find her some viper nettle berries which are supposed to make the symptoms of withdrawal easier to bear.

Takara has also learned that the vulgar gnome, Gelik, is a Pathfinder, although he’s in “somewhat of a difficult time with them right now,” because he sold off a Thassilonian relic in Magnimar that did not turn out to be Thassilonian. The merchant called the guards and he fled town.
We left off in the morning, the first full day after the wreck…

Day 2
Your party awoke early on the second day after the shipwreck that brought them to the Smuggler’s Shiv. Takara tasked Jask and Gelik with fortifying the campsite by the beach, and sent Aerys and Sasha on guard duty. He offered the (deceased) first Mate’s masterwork leather armor to Sasha who accepted (without thanks). Ishirou accompanied the party as they went exploring/hunting into the hills north of the shore (K4 & K5).

Ishirou spoke more of what he knows about the island. When Sargava was as first settled, Chelish engineers erected a lighthouse on the Shiv’s southwest shore. The light was intended to warn approaching ships of the dangerous waters and, eventually, was to have been the first building in a small colony. The light and all plans for colonization were abandoned just before completion amid rumors of curses, haunts, and cannibalism.

Ishirou also revealed his backstory: he spent many years working for a syndicate called the Aspis Consortium (basically the Dutch East India company of the Mwangi Expanse). Takara wondered why such a “noble Tian” was working as a common thug, but this conversation was cut short when the party stumbled upon a trio of goats. Takara and Mitabu managed to calm and charm the goats and sent Ishirou back to camp with them.

The party headed back towards the shore, marching through the jungle heat nearly felled Mitabu from heat stroke. Moving along the cliffs you spied a small island to the East (F2/G2.5). The party continued scouting through the jungle and ran into four poisonous snakes, which they dispatched with ease and brought back to the campsite for dinner.

Heading back to camp, Rena spoke of her home city Ilizmagorti. Mitabu noted that the mythical Red Mantis assassins are from there. Rena confirmed that they run the town, but Mitabu denied that such an organization existed. Rena told of how she made it on the Jenivere: the shop she was working in as an alchemists apprentice was robbed, she blacked out, and when she woke up the robbers were dead and her fox, Ithys, was licking her awake. She fled Ilizmagorti and booked passage on the Jenivere.

Back at camp, Mitabu and Aerys spoke about the cure disease potion that Mitabu possesses. Mitabu gave Aerys a chance to argue for it, but she declined arguing that tropical diseases were more deadly than alcoholism, and she would continue to struggle onward while waiting for the party to find the viper nettle berries.

That night, Mitabu had a strange dream regarding his last meal on the Jenivere. He dreamed that as he drank the cook’s soup, a snake bite him on the tongue, chewing furiously.

Day 3

The party struck out towards the small island they had spotted earlier. Along the way they spotted a beautiful small pterosaur. Although the seas between the islands are extremely rough (10 foot waves, yo) Mitabu tied everyone to him and used his manly superpowers to help his occasionally drowning companions across the channel to the island. The shipwreck they had spotted earlier turned out to be the “Tears of Grog.” Within the broken wreck the dead walked! The four undead sailors passed out quite a lot of damage (due to their awesome DR) and nearly killed Mitabu (and just after he had done such a nice job of critt’ing one to death) and Takara. In the battle Takara revealed that he apparently doesn’t believe in using a weapon more than once in a battle (he cycled through like 4 weapons). The vessel contained some loot, including rope, fishing tackle, and a barrel.

They returned to camp with their spoils. Takara and Ishirou spoke about their pasts, and Ishirou revealed that he stole treasure maps from the Apsis when he left, and that one of them is of the Shiv, where a treasure is allegedly buried (near F20/21) he would like to go with the party and check it out.

Mitabu spoke to Gelik with an idea about how Gelik could get back in the Pathfinders good graces. Gelik revealed that he too had a plan, as a Pathfinder vessel, the Nightvoice went missing near these waters and it is widely believed that it sunk on or near the Shiv. He asked the party to look into it, as if he could determine what happened to the vessel he would be able to return to the Pathfinder Society.

Sasha ran to camp ecstatic at having seen a pterosaur. She begged Takara to bring her a live, baby dimophodon (the baby pterosaur). When Takara asked Sasha about Ilizmagorti, the Red Mantises, and why Rena was terrified of them, Sasha stated that she had never heard of the Mantises.

We ended before nightfall, Day 3.
Day 3 (Evening)
As the sun fades and thunder rumbles in the distance the companions return to camp. Although Aerys wonders about the whether the primitive shelter that they have constructed can withstand the gale, Takara assures her that it will and that the storm will blow itself out over the night. As lightning strikes nearby Bik confides in the crowd that he is afraid of lightning, having not experienced it while growing up underground. Sasha also claims to be afraid of lightning, although everyone else rolls their eyes at her transparent attempt to get into Takara’s bunk.
During the night Mitabu awoke due to a leak in the roof and heard the sound of very large wings flapping overhead the campsite. Although he stumbled out of the shelter and looked about, he couldn’t see anything as the sound of the wings faded into the distance.

Day 4
The next morning at breakfast he brought up his observation to the group. When questioned by Rena and Bik about what the creature could possibly be Mitabu concluded that it could be anything from a dinosaur to a dragon or a wyvern. This unnerved everyone, and Takara concluded that they should camouflage the campsite with palm leaves. Sasha brought up the fact that she still desperately wanted a baby pterosaur. Aerys and Sasha started to fight, and Takara separated them. The PCs struck off to the East along the coast.

As they trudged along the beach they discovered a nest of baby dimorphodons (small pterodons) and three adults. Mitabu decided to charm one of the adults in the hopes of getting the creature to take the other adults away from the nest so that they could capture a baby for Sasha. Mitabu tried the influence of his charm spell but was unable to overcome the creature’s primal protective instinct towards its young, and the adult broke free of the spell. After a brief battle in which it was revealed that pterodons are startling hard to grapple, the PCs managed to kill the adults. They were then faced with the prospect of climbing up a 100 foot cliff to reach the baby ‘dactyls. Takara slipped and fell about a quarter of the way up, nearly killing himself in the fall, and the party decided to send Bik up the cliffs instead. Bik anchored a rope, and then Takara scaled it and used his ranger skills to calm the dimorphodons, which he stuck in his pouch.

As they returned to exploring the island, Mitabu remarked that the baby dino was sure to get Sasha in Takara’s bedroll, but warned him that she was hiding something about her past with the Red Mantises. Rena confirmed that despite whatever Sasha says, the Red Mantis are real and run Ilizmagorti. However, Rena had no idea how to actually identify a Red Mantis. The party tabled the discussion, reasoning that they could probably overpower and kill her if necessary.
Moving further to the East, they spotted a small shipwreck on a barrier island offshore. This time no one nearly died crossing the rough seas, and they discovered a wrecked Elven vessel, the Golden Bow. Despite hearing the moans of the dead sailors within, three zombies got the jump on the party. Takara remembers that the best way to deal with these unnatural creatures is not to bludgeon, shoot, or poke them, but to slash them to bits. Despite the fact that only Rena and Takara have slashing weapons, they manage to finish off the zombies and find an astrolabe, functioning compass, and a pair of dice. Although Takara wanted to ditch the astrolabe, Bik indicated that he had seen sea captains use it many times when he was a galley slave, and that the party might need it to get off the island.

Everyone swam back to the Shiv and proceeded along the coast (which began turning South instead of East). After an hour or so they discovered the remnants of a quickly rigged shelter and evidence of a small campfire well above the high-tide line. A search of the area revealed Captain Kovack’s tricorn hat and several scarves that Rena identified as having belonged to Ieana. Takara scoured the area for tracks, which had been mostly worn away by the previous night’s storm. Despite the difficulty of the task he persevered and found enough signs of their passage (slashed and broken tree limbs, bent weeds, and the like) to locate their path into the jungle. They followed the tracks for a short while through the jungle and discovered a river that Capt. Kovack and Ieana must have crossed. As it was getting dark, they decided to set up camp for the night back along the cliffs rather than along the river, for fear of predators.
From their cliff-side camp the party spied another shipwreck offshore, and decided to investigate it in the morning. The party spent the evening discussing their betrayal by the Captain and Ieana and wondering about the wounds that they found on bodies at the Jenivere, which looked as though they had been caused by a large snake. Upon waking, Rena discovers that she has contracted a jungle fungus on her foot, Boot Soup, which gradually paralyzes its victim. The party uses its cure disease potion to heal her.

Everyone crawls down the cliffs to the shipwreck and carefully walks across a reef to where the Bloody Doll has run aground. Inside, Takara spots a humanoid creature with glowing eyes, long, sharp teeth, and pallid flesh stretched tightly over a starved frame. Although the creature was coiled to strike, Takara spots it first, and his dagger plus Mitabu’s magic quickly finishes off the creature before it could get in a single strike. Inside the wreck they find a chain shirt, 58 gold pieces, and a small bronze token with an anchor painted on it.

Returning back to their camp atop the cliffs they resumed their tracking of Capt. Kovack and Ieana through the jungle. Crossing the river, they noticed a large grove of thorny vines with walls seven feet high and thorns six-inches long. Deep within the 60 foot briar they spotted several splashes of red berries. Not wanting to stomp through the thorns, Takara tried to induce Ithys, Rena’s fox, to retrieve the berries, in exchange for first crack at rations. Ithys relayed (through Rena) that he would prefer one of the dimorphodons, and (with reluctance) a trade was made. Ithys devoured the dimorphodon that Takara planned to raise and brought them the berries that Aerys had sought to help her through her addiction.

The trail goes south along the river, until it reaches the shore, where the party spots another wrecked vessel. They approach the wreck, a ninety-foot-long vessel encrusted with salt and moss and leaning against the cliffs. At the bow they spot a leering demonic figurehead green-caked brass and, painted in chipped and fading white paint, the words Brine Demon. Although most of the vessel had rotted away they managed to find an unopened darkwood coffer sitting in an opened secret compartment of a rotting desk in the Captain’s quarters. Forcing it open, they find a gold locket containing a tiny, incredibly detailed portrait of a beautiful, red-haired half-elf woman, identified along the bottom edge of the portrait as “Aeshamara,” a well preserved and quite sharp dagger (+1), and several fat ledgers and journals which contain irrefutable proof of collusion between Captain Kinkarian and half a dozen Sargavan and Bloodcove government officials, who were skimming off the tithes and taxes offered to the Free Captains of the Shackles – the evidence Jask was looking for.

Having looted the vessel and with the sun beginning to fall towards the horizon, Takara and the others decide to head back to base camp.

Evening of Day 4
Having looted the Brine Demon, and weighed down with supplies, the PCs (who need a team name) headed back to base camp. Mitabu presented the nettleberries to Aerys, and Takara presented a dimorphodon baby to Sasha and the documents that they liberated from the Brine Demon to Jask. Takara then gathered everyone around the fire and reported that their ranging had discovered the tracks of Captain Kovack and Ieana. As a result of picking up their trail along the Eastern coast of the island, Takara suggested moving their campsite more towards the island’s interior (F12.5).

Sasha and Jack were not pleased with the suggestion of moving into the forest – Sasha because the beach had been so good for her tan, and Jask because he feared whatever beasts are within the jungle. Takara countered by noting that Ieana must have some way off the island and that it would be best to be following her, and that in any event the river itself would provide a barrier protecting the campsite. Their objections countered, the NPCs agreed to move the campsite and everyone settled down for the night.

Day 5
Mitabu’s midnight watch was interrupted by a ghost – presumably the captain of the Brine Demon – who accused Mitabu and his companions of thievery, betrayal, usurpation, and generally being scoundrels – all while menacingly waving his hooked hand at them. Eventually, Takara was able to reason that the ghost sought the locket that they had looted from the ship, and to look once more upon the face of the woman within the locket. Takara boldly presented the opened locket to the captain, who disappeared rapidly into fog upon touching it.

In the morning, Aerys took Mitabu aside while they trudged the disassembled campsite to its new location. She revealed that the berries were helping her, and that she appreciated the assistance, and that she would like to share her true passion – poetry – with Mitabu. Aerys presented Mitabu with her opus, the Aendego Cantos, an epic containing themes of overcoming terrible adversity with strength of will (which provided Mitabu with a bonus to his concentration in battle).

As they continued to move across the beach, they encountered a strange swarm of several thousand crabs along the beached, devouring goats and everything else along the shore. Takara wisely decided to move around the swarm, and led the party through the jungle to the new campsite location.

After reaching the new campsite, Takara noticed something strange dangling from a tree nearby. Upon investigation it turned out to be a giant rat, entangled in some vines and completely drained of blood. The PCs agreed to keep this a secret from the others.
Mitabu decided to stay back and set up camp, and then read Aerys’s poems, while Takara, Bik, and Rena went to continue tracking Ieana and Captain Kovack. After trailing the two of them south-easterly along the bluffs, Takara realized that they were very near where Ishirou’s treasure map indicated treasure was buried so they decided to break off from the search for Ieana and go treasure hunting. After reaching the top of a high hill set above the bluffs (F20.5), Takara re-read the treasure map and realized that they would have to wait there until dawn, when the position of the sun between two rocks would show them where to dig.

Meanwhile, back at the campsite, Ishirou led the NPCs in constructing a lean-to which promptly collapsed. This led to much arguing between the NPCs in which Mitabu diplomatically defused a fight between Sasha and Gelik. Meanwhile, mosquitos harassed them all, and Mitabu contracted dysentery. When Mitabu asked Jask for aid with his special digestive problem, Jask confessed that there was little that he could do besides offer a blessing. However, he also taught Mitabu several mantras from the church of Nethys to focus his mind and continue through the discomfort. Jask and Mitabu had a brief theological discussion but Mitabu preferred to stick with Shimye-Magalla for the time being. Jask senses a potential convert though!

Mitabu read through Aerys’s Abendego Cantos, discovering them to be shockingly well-written tales of the strength of personality overcoming adversity. He counseled Aerys to nurture her poetry more than her thirst for booze, and then took up his watch over the camp.

Meanwhile, at dawn, Bik awoke his companions and plotted the location for digging out Ishirou’s treasure. After an hour’s hard work of shoveling they discovered a large wooden cylindrical plug blocking their progress downward and the skeleton of a dwarf, stabbed in the back. Takara encouraged his companions to try and break through the plug, and after much smashing and cutting the plug gave way with a sudden crack. Unfortunately, the plug was atop a long shaft, and Takara fell down 40 feet into water-filled chamber and was beaned on the head by bits and pieces of the plug on the way down. Trying to get his bearings, Takara heard howling and hissing from some other creatures, water ghouls, who had been trapped in the chamber for many years. Bik lowered a rope down, but due to the fact that nothing was available to secure the rope with, Bik could only lower Rena down to assist Takara.

The water ghouls ripped a chunk out of Takara’s arm, both paralyzing him and knocking him unconscious. Rena managed to grab onto him and the rope and Bik miraculously managed to bring the two of them up the shaft and back on top of the hill. Rena revived Takara, who took swift revenge on the ghouls with his longbow. Believing Bik to be the strongest swimmer, they lowered him down into the pool of water, where he discovered an underwater passage leading to a treasure chest. Hauling the loot back to camp they opened it in front of Ishirou revealing thousands of coins, many gems, a starknife and buckler, and scroll of raise dead. Mitabu stated that the treasure should be split evenly among the companions, but Ishirou argued that Aerys, Sasha, Gelik and Jask shouldn’t be entitled to any of the treasure. He agreed to table the issue until they get off the island.

That evening, Takara confessed his fascination with outsiders to Ishirou, and asked for more information on the Tian. Embarrassed, Ishirou confessed that he knew little of his people, as he had been raised on his father’s junk – his sword is the only link to his people that he has left. However, Ishirou showed that he knows quite a bit of Tianese swordsmanship, and taught Takara the styles and tricks of his sword-style. Sasha came over to hit on Takara after the lesson, and Takara confronted her about lying to him earlier about her knowledge of the Red Mantis. Sasha revealed that her mother is a high-ranking Mantis, and that Sasha had been in Mantis training but didn’t make the cut. Her mother chopped off Sasha’s left pinkie finger before sending her to Sargava to “mind the interests of the Mantis,” making clear that she was not to return to Ilizmagorti. Sasha tried to get Takara to make love to her down by the river, but he rebuffed her, and she settled for teaching him the tricks the Red Mantis use to get a jump on their enemies.

Day 6
The companions set out again in search of the Captain’s tracks. They headed out southwest, along the river, before heading into the jungle. Eventually they stumbled across a game-trail of some kind. This path was too well-traveled for Takara to isolate the Captain and Ieana’s tracks. They began by heading south along the trail, before running into some kind of clever vine trap. A well-disguised trip wire triggers a snare which drags the victim into the air and against sharpened wooden sticks attacked to a tree. Although probably not the work of Kovack and Ieana, it is clear proof that there are others on the island. Based on Ishirou’s stories, Mitabu and Bik concluded that the trap was most likely the work of cannibals of some kind.

The southern trail terminated (at I21) at what was once clearly a campsite containing a partially completed wooden shack, firepit, and benches. They were surprised to find a large pentagram carved into one wall of the shack. A closer inspection of the pentagram revealed several human teeth hammered into its center. Takara determined that the campsite was at least a year old, but couldn’t draw an exact age, and also spotted several bloodstains. Finding nothing else, they began to head back along the jungle path when they encountered a man-sized spider, which they quickly dismembered.

Following the path, Takara tripped what would be the first of several of the previously mentioned triplines. Eventually the path forked (at M17), and the party chose to go east, eventually discovering that the trail terminated along the cliffs. They found a single creature at the campsite, human in form though sprouting green vines. Takara identified it as a yellow musk zombie, a “natural” zombie caused when the yellow musk creeper slays a human (or finds a corpse). They then infest them with seeds and pollen and send them off to serve the plant (either bringing new victims or sprouting new plants). No sign of a yellow musk creeper itself was found. Takara turned it into a pincushion with his longbow, to little effect. Eventually they beat it to a pulp and discovered that this campsite, like the other, contained fragments of bone, bloodstains, and clear signs of struggle, but no survivors.

As it began to get late, the party returned to base-camp and Takara called a meeting of the survivors to discuss their discovery of abandoned campsites and the signs of cannibalism. Takara took Ishirou aside to ask him more about the history of magic on the island, and the sign of a pentagram, but Ishirou had little information. Meanwhile, Jask and Mitabu continued their theological discussion on the virtues of Nethys versus Shimye-Magalla.

Day Seven
Most of the companions spent the day moving the campsite to a new location (L16.5), Jask and Rena on the other hand hunted for herbs and brewed healing potions.


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