Malatra Redux

The Search for Blue Heron

Year of Discovery #18

From the Memories of Terra Chaos
Big Chief Bagoomba
The Year of Discovery
“Sometimes the journey teaches us something about the destination.”
I had once again been called to the village of Big Chief Bagoomba. There I was asked to meet with Bengoukee, and to my surprise, The Crocoshaman and River were also there. There was also a walking conglomeration of vines which I recognized as one of the plantmen who had recently revealed themselves to the people of Malatra. His name was apparently Vinnie the vine, though since it couldn’t speak our language and no one could understand his odd hand gestures, Only Bengoukee could communicate with it.
Bengoukee told us that he had chosen us for a mission if we were willing to accept it. He told us that far to the west, across the forbidden Yaku Plains of ash were the Forbidden Mountains. He wanted us to head there and recover an artifact called Blue Heron, which he claimed was an ancient symbol of power. He told us that the item was in the keeping of the Bird Men of that region and procuring it might be an issue. Bengoukee then threw some dust over us and told us that the taboo upon the Yaku Plains was lifted upon us temporarily.
We set out immediately, and in a few days we were approaching the lands of the Huroola. Suddenly, a female shu came running from the underbrush. She told us she needed help quickly, and that we had to save someone, she then ran back into the underbrush. We followed and discovered a lizardman who was stuck in quicksand nearby. I used a spell to help rescue him, and everyone pulled upon the vine that was created.
The shu’s name was Aluka and she had gotten separated from her hunting party. She had fallen into the quicksand and the lizardman, called Sslick had rescued her. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving the shu alone with a horrible lizardman, so I insisted we escort them both back to the shu village. A day later we reached the Jengi, who happy to have Aluka returned to them, and told us that they had been on friendly terms with some lizardmen from the north for some time.
We returned to our quest, and soon had exited the dense jungle and entered the rolling hills to the west of the Huroola. We were in awe of the sheer amount of game that existed there. Herds of zebra, gazelles, antelope and other creatures roamed freely. As we watched, a nubari hunter ran out and attacked a duckbilled garuda, this caused the entire heard of duckbills to stampede in our direction. The lone hunter was able to outrun them by changing into ostrich and easily outrunning us all. We were able to dodge the stampede, but it did slow us down. The strange ostrich katanga was nowhere to be found afterward.
Later that day we encountered a trio of tantor. Tarmanganus, the eldest of them spoke with me. He told me that the Plains of Ash were taboo and those who crossed them were often afflicted by the Coughing Death. We told him Bengoukee had sent us, and that seemed to satisfy him. The tantor also told us that if we were allowed to the Forbidden Mountains, then perhaps could answer the riddle: “What is a man, but not a man, larger than a garuda, but not a garuda, more cunning than a black leopard and more dangerous as well.” We had no clue, and Tarmanganus told us that the answer could be found across the plains.
We soon arrived at the Yaku Plains, and discovered why they were sometime called the ‘Plains of Ash’. They were composed almost entirely of black ash. Our trip across the wasteland was not fun or fast, but a slow four-day trek. Thankfully, no one caught the Coughing Death.
We arrived at the mountains and soon caught our first sight of the ‘Bird Men’. One of them threw a spear at us before they circled around for a landing. The leader introduced himself as Fleetwing, and he had thought us something called ‘butu’ before he had gotten a look at us. We told him why we had come, and he told us that the Blue Heron was not for us, and he asked us to leave. Before we could respond, a group of raptor garuda leapt from the underbrush to attack us.
After defeating the creatures, Fleetwing seemed to change his mind about us. He told us to wait up the mountain while he told Sharpclaws his chieftain about us. The birdman, called an aarakocra by his people, soon left leaving us to find a way up the mountain on our own. River had no difficulties, both the Crocoshaman and I did fine, but Vinnie fell from the first leg of the climb, shredding the plantman upon the ledge. We did not have the skills to save him.
The next day Fleetwing arrived back with Sharpclaws. Sharpclaws spoke to us alone, and told us that the aarakocra did not have Blue Heron. It had been stolen by butu some years earlier and only the chief and shaman were aware of the theft. They had not tried to get it back, because they knew that it could lead to war with the butu. He told us if we could retrieve it we could borrow it for a single year. He then told us where the butu could be found, and we headed there.
We headed to the butu territory, where we discovered that the butu were small creatures with ram-like heads, and legs like goats, but bodies and minds like other nubari. They were friendly once I gave one a hug. One of them told us that the butu did not steal the Blue Heron, the creatures that were bigger than garuda, but not garuda did. The figured they could get it back with our help.
The next day we were in front of a massive cave, which was said to be home to the creatures. Our small army of butu waited outside while explored. We soon discovered that the cave was empty, but we did find some nice loot, including a maroon sculpture of a crow which could only have been Blue Heron. River told us it faintly radiated magic. As we left the cave, we encountered its normal occupants: three huge sized manscorpions awaited us. This was not a battle we could ordinarily win, but thankfully we had help in the form of our army of butu. Their arrows were able to bring one of the creatures down, while we tried to kill another. During the battle with the last one, Fleetwing showed up to help us.
When the battle was over, we assessed our losses. We had only lost three butu, but I had been poisoned and was about to die. Thankfully, Fleetwing had some balm that could neutralize the poison.
Sharp claws again told us that we could keep Blue Heron for a year, before they would want it back. Fleetwing said he would accompany us to our land, and several butu also wanted to come. So we soon found ourselves again crossing the Yaku Plains. When we arrived in Big Chief Bagoomba’s village, almost a month after we had departed and with new allies, we were treated as heroes.

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