From the Memories of Percival
The Year of Gathering Darkness
“You think you are better then me because you have two faces!”
We had come to the annual Festival of the Masks at the village of the Dohi-ri. Dozens of heroes, old and new, had come. We spotted Anar’ketecht, teamed with Mighty Duba, Fern Gully, andDaplane. We caught sight of the great Black Chaos working with Mali, Grey Shadow, and Reesta Nifari. More heroes had come then we could name or remember.
Since I was rather inexperienced, I was paired with a large group of other less experienced heroes, let by the chief of the Ratikiya, a saru named Ook. With us was a caiman katanga called Snapjaw, a hedgehog katanga called Spike, a lizardman called Scy, an impala katanga named Vor, a shu called Taru, a jungle tam’hi called Sunshiro, a saru called Slasher, a lacerial flyer called Squanchy, a hornhead lacerial called Broke-Horn, and a Huroolan nubari warrior woman called Face Bones. Obviously, a group of twelve inexperienced heroes should be the equivalent of the groups with only a few of the well known ones.
We waited for some time for the Festival of the Mask to begin. When it did, a nubari woman wearing a beautifully exquisite mask that looked like a tiger spoke to our group. She introduced herself as the Masked One; the winner of the previous year’s Festival of the Mask. She then explained the symbolism of her mask, and the three features it displayed. She told us that over the course of the next few days, we would all have to make our own masks with three features upon them.
Our group set out the next day. We soon began to see evidence of some other heroes somewhere ahead of us. They had been careless and left one of their weapons behind. We decided to take it so that we could try to find the owner. After a few hours, we came to a field of flowers. There were several different colors. Without giving it too much thought, our impala friend decided to start eating them. Before we knew it, Face Bones’ investigation of a fallen tree awakened a spirit called Ta’Chuma. She claimed that we had defiled the glade and was very angry with us.
Ta’Chuma told us that the glade was sacred to a being called Rehanna, who may have been a Great Spirit but was apparently gone now. She insulted us a bit, while those closest to the rotted tree were attacked by giant termites. In a bit of petulance, she vanished once we had destroyed the termites. They tasted funny. Slasher was mortified at our behavior.
That night we sighted bats, and heard owls. It was a very active night for the fauna. In the morning once we started traveling again, we found a broken spear, though we again found no owner to the weapon. We navigated past a series of pit traps, which Broke-horn obligingly found for us, and soon came to the next area we were to visit on our journey. It was a big statue covered in vines. Before we could get too close, a group of grippli attacked us.
Spike and Taru were able to net one of the creatures, while Broke-horn used magic to put some to sleep. After killing the sleepers, Face Bones decided to investigate the statue. Unfortunately, the vines on the statue were more aggressive than normal plants. Sunshiro tried to talk to the vine with a spell, but it seemed only interested in killing its victim. We were forced to destroy it with ranged weapons. When it was cleared away, we saw that the statue was of a froglike creature. Scy touched the statue and realized that the area was sacred to the grippli. We had inadvertently invaded another sacred space.
The next day, after rescuing Ook from some quicksand, we scared away a giant toad that sat in our path. We eventually arrived at the Ruins of the Ancients that had been depicted on our map. It was a massive dome, like what is sometimes described by the heroes who went to the end of the world! Several statue-like columns stood outside the dome. Several of us went to explore the dome, while a few were interested in the nearby pond. This was a tactical mistake as our party was effectively split when we were attacked on both fronts. The columns seemed to come alive and attack my group, while a water spirit appeared and began devastating those at the pond.
The display of magic was enough to cause Ook and Slasher to flee, and only after Facebones had destroyed the evil water spirit was that group able to escape. My group was forced to flee, as the walking statues were too powerful. Thankfully, they did not follow us far from the dome.
We continued on our trip, and had to make a net rope to reach the other side of an impossible quagmire. When we reached a river, a different water spirit arrived. Her name was Neyanla. The spirit who looked like a snake asked us if we wished to drink from the water and thus gain the water boon. In exchange, she wanted a bit of the drinker’s spirit. Only Slasher agreed. We crossed without problems, and continued on our way.
Late in our last day, we were approaching the Dohi-ri again, when we encountered another group of walkers. They were seemingly friendly, and very inquisitive. When they learned that we had defeated two spirits they seemed wary of us, but when they heard we had run from statues they got a bit cocky. Cleverly Broke-horn and Facebones were able to figure out that they were not really nubari, and soon we were in conflict with a group of jaguar-men! Broke-horn’s sleep spell knocked them all out, but not before frightening away Ook and Slasher.
We tied the sleeping tabaxi and brought them with us to the village. There we were able to report that they had attacked us, and learn that they had succeeded in capturing others. A group was sent to retrieve the prisoners, and the tabaxi were let loose after promising not to try to kidnap people again.
When the Masked One came to us, we each explained our masks. Some of our masks were better than others. In the end Broke-horn was declared the winner not just of our groups’ masks, but of all the participants! We were truly thankful to have been able to participate in the contest.