After grabbing their enchanted shields from Wakanga, The Fellowship of the Forge left Port Nyanzaru via the Old City gate. Skopti had recovered sufficiently to join them, he had spent the last day of his recovery purchasing leather armour and was now sporting a bandana.
Under the guidance of Musharib, the albino dwarf spirit warrior, the party marched with their canoes and equipment to the mouth of the River Soshenstar. They organised themselves and began their very first jungle expedition, their destination; Orolunga and the wise guardian who calls it home.
The River was sluggish and wide and ran fairly straight South at first. Mountains to the west and deeper, darker jungle to the east were spotted through breaks in the jungle canopy. All around was the sound of rustling, flapping, whooping and buzzing of the many creatures that call the jungle their home. Musharib constantly scanned the jungle, but was not overly concerned and good progress is made throughout the morning. Xandala scanned the jungles vigilantly looking for her father Artus Cimber as she paddled and Undril talked of her weeks long journey over the sea to Port Nyanzaru, including her brush with Aremeg the Dragon Turtle. Cole helpfully recited facts he had only just learned the day before whilst Valdimir and Shadows kept a vigilant watch on the route ahead. Nundro, Grom and Skopti used their considerable strength to power the canoes through the water.
A pack of Dimetrodon’s basking in the sun on the far bank is spotted in the mid afternoon, the large lizards eye the canoes suspiciously but do not make a move. Soon after a break was called, an opportunity to hunt was seized upon by Skopti and Grom. Using longbow and javelin, the fighter and the barbarian didn’t find much game, but brought back some lizards and snakes. Musharib kicked a large rock and then satisfied with the result, lifted up the rock and scooped out a handful of bugs and grubs. He slurped them down and smacked his lips, delicious!
By the end of the day’s travel the explorers came on a 40ft high waterfall which needed to be scaled. Valdimir, suspicious as ever, warned of an ambush and sent his invisible scout familiar whizzing off. Cole magically imbued himself with the ability to climb like a spider and scaled the waterfall easily, attaching a rope at the top. Working as a team, the Fellowship along with their companions hoisted the canoes up the cliff face beside the rushing, falling water. Nundro called on the stonecunning that came naturally to him and advised on how best to set up the hoist with the ropes available to avoid damaging their transport.
At the end of the day the the canoes were dragged to shore and camp was forged not too far from the river’s edge. Rain catchers and tents were set up and incense burned to repel the swarms of biting insects. Not too soon after the daily downpour started and the rain catchers started filling up with drinkable water – essential for staving off dehydration and avoiding throat leeches. Watching over the camp was, of course, Shadows but also an owl familiar perched on the branch of a tree scanning the area with it’s great eyes and ears. Musharib and Grom slept outside and Skopti sat down with his back to a tree trunk and closed his eyes. Undril and Xandala shared one tent whilst Cole and Valdimir shared the other. Everyone took their turn watching the camp site. Night time in the jungle is noisy but nothing that went bump in the night bumped too close and everyone awoke refreshed in the morning.
Dawn came and the sun began to break through the jungle canopy. There was not a breath of wind to be felt as everyone packed up camp and dragged the canoes into the water. The river was starting to meander round corner after corner. By mid-morning it had gotten hotter and hotter. Musharib looked up at the sun and cursed in Chultan. “It’s gonna be a hot one!” he said earnestly. He wasn’t joking as it became scorching hot. Musharib and Undril were the worst affected, mainly because Undril refused to take off her chain shirt. Everyone else was glad when a halt was called and they were able to cool off and drink some of their foraged water. Nundro heard a babbling brook that sounded cool and inviting but he heeded the advice he had heard from everyone; do not drink the water! Instead he found some cool citrus fruit and used his divine powers to “make it rain.”. Later on it did rain, hard, as a tropical storm hit the camp as another night was spent in the jungle without any major incident.
In the morning, Valdimir found a bush growing plump dark brown berries. Knowing Cole to be the party expert on the rare plants found in the jungle, Valdimir went to fetch him. The pair almost didn’t spot the swarm of giant centipedes at the bushes base. A fire bolt from Cole was enough to scare them off and he harvested 17 Sinda Berries which are good for the immune system and fighting the effects of poison and disease, they might come in handy later! A few hours later the party were once again in their canoes making good progress when they spotted another canoe run aground on the west bank. They decided to stop and investigate, using their magical scouting team of Imp and Owl. The canoe was abandoned and had holes knocked in it, but there was 2 lanterns and lamp oil still left in there. Nundro’s divine powers again came in useful as he magically mended the canoe which would be used to carry the parties gear. Valdimir sent Shadows off to follow some tracks which led from the canoe to a grisly sight – A skeleton which had been picked clean of flesh was lashed crudely to a tree, broken pots around it. Closer inspection showed that the pots once contained honey. Musharib traced a sigil in the air and spoke to a nearby tree who informed him of what had happened – Goblins had lashed this man to a tree and then covered him in honey which attracted all manner of insects who feasted on the screaming man’s flesh, gruesome! Underneath the skeleton was found a map crudely drawn on a flap of dinosaur hide showing a route from Port Nyanzaru to a place called Dungrunglung – apparently home to nasty frog people known as Grungs. During the evening, instead of camping on the ground, the explorers had spotted a hidden treehouse far above the ground which they stayed in instead. In the morning, a herd of grazing Brontosauruses were munching leaves close by *cue Jurassic Park music*.
Day four was largely uneventful, Grom had found nothing whilst foraging except for some bananas that tasted of black liquorice. As he looked around though, he spotted 5 cute little bunnies with unicorn horns. Not overcome with the cuteness, he slayed them and made a fine lunch. Camp was forged and watches set that evening and Musharib set up his perimeter tripwire with hollow dino bones. However, despite their careful planning it was Undril on watch when a band of Batiri Goblins attacked from the nighttime jungle. They must have evaded all the defenses because Undril was surprised and almost killed when five Goblins wearing wooden masks carved to look like biting ants and insects attacked. She screamed, the alarm was sounded and everyone sprung to action. Grom rushed in to save his fellow half-orc from almost certain death, whilst Skopti and Nundro waded into the rest of the intruders. Soon after more Goblins appeared, this time riding on each others shoulders in what is known as a Batiri Battle Stack, a strange but also effective tactic unique to these jungle dwellers. Cole’s magic sleet storm slowed half of them down and a front line of Grom, Skopti and Nundro with fire support from Xandala, Cole and Valdimir was too much and the attack was thwarted with the Goblin Boss dieing last.
The next day was another hot one but most of the explorers were able to deal with the extreme heat, only Undril – recovering from her injuries the night before and still refusing to remove her chain shirt – was badly affected. More Goblins appeared in the afternoon to pepper the canoes with arrows before disappearing into the jungle to the west again. During the afternoon the canoes pulled up to a large but wrecked campsite built around an 80ft tall statue depicting a man with a crocodile on his back, a dark tunnel was glimpsed between the statues feet. A search of the camp, which Undril identified as the Order of the Gauntlet’s first jungle camp called Camp Righteous, found little except a silver holy symbol of Torm which Grom gave to Undril who he had started to become infatuated with. Musharib was able to calm an infant axe beak trapped in a swine pen, the normally aggressive flightless bird with an axe-like beak was lost and made a good meal when roasted on a spit. The explorers were then resolved to explore the tunnel in the statue.
Shadows moved invisibly across the first part of the tunnel, which was strewn with mud and creeping vines and was almost cut in half by a swinging blade trap. Skopti moved forward and jammed 4 pitons into the shallow depressions where the blades swung out, disabling the trap. Nundro’s divine powers were once again invoked and he was able to spot the pit trap Skopte had miraculously traversed. Using heavy rocks the trap door was opened to prevent anyone falling in, instead they could move around the outside edge and explore deeper into the tunnel. Past the blade trap was a ledge 7ft high. Shadows was sent ahead and described to his master a pattern of four by four tiles on the floor before another 7ft ledge. The pattern on the tiles was mirrored on the door found atop that ledge and the Fellowship set about solving the puzzle. One of the tiles on the door was glowing faintly and when someone stepped on the corresponding floor tile, Shadows saw that a new tile was lit on the door. Always being careful to step on the corresponding floor tiles they were able to progress to the door atop the ledge but the door had no obvious handle or latch. Skopti boldly walked up and tried to push the door open, but a magic glyph flashed bright and a wave of thunder blasted the fighter off the ledge onto the puzzle floor below which then lit up with magic fire blasts. Obviously there was a way to deal with this. Musharib had earlier told the legend of the Man and the Crocodile, in which man had been tricked by the crocodile to carry him on his shoulders across the land of men. Deciding to emulate this, Valdimir climbed on Grom’s shoulders and placed themselves in front of the tile door with the lit up tiles glowing faintly. Valdimir reminded Grom “I’m the Crocodile! You’re the Man!” and they pressed the lit up tiles in unison. The door swung silently inwards leading to a spiral staircase and the pair pressed on. Atop the spiral staircase which was littered with bones, was sat a fine looking ceramic jug. The Man and Crocodile almost slipped and fell, but Valdimir held on using his whip and the jug was retrieved. It was, it turned out, an Alchemy Jug – a powerful magic item that could produce a number of different liquids on command. Surely this would come in handy in the days to come. The action was not over though as when the Fellowship exited the strange tunnel, an agitated Allosarus pounced on Skopti and attacked. It took a fair few hits to bring the large reptilian predator down and the explorers decided to make their camp here for the night as it was still 2 days before they would reach their next goal, Camp Vengeance.