Malatra Redux

Masks of the Dohi-ri
The Year of Gathering Darkness #31

From the Memories of Percival
The Dohi-ri
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.

The Year of Gathering Darkness #30

From the Memories of Kahluhae
Deep in the Jungle
The Year of Gathering Darkness
“The more hidden the venom, the more dangerous it is.”
It was the middle of the night when some creature bit me while I slept. I could not find the beast, in spite of our best efforts. The bite was very bad, possibly due to venom. Jadescale, Ziss, Snarl, and I decided to head to the nearest shaman who was knowledgeable in the ways of snakes and venom. Matula, the saru shaman lived closest to where we were. He had told us that he could not provide the correct antivenom without knowing exactly which snake had bitten me. He asked that we travel along the Stream of Shadows until we found the Tree of Life, where we could find the woman called the Dark One, or the Ageless One, or the Ancient One, or the Serpent Charmer. He said that she knew about poisons, and could help. In order to assist in finding her tree, he gave us some fruit that allowed us to speak with animals and plants.
We set out immediately, and soon we came to the Stream of Shadows. We began to start speaking to the wildlife, and narrowing down our search for the Tree of Life, but it was slow going. I climbed a tree to get a good look around, but couldn’t spot it. Finally, we found a helpful pair of pangolins and a leopard. They directed us to the Tree of Life, which was old and very rotted. Haning from its limbs were small trinkets. We decided to gift the tree something before we entered the hole in the trunk.
Inside, we were confronted with a giant bushmaster, who we were able to speak with to avoid fighting. It told us that the she who was called the Earth Queen, the Black Mother, the Snake Charmer was deep within the tree. It allowed us to pass, as long as we agreed not to try to harm the tree or the Black Mother.
In the chamber below, we discovered the Black Mother. She was a giant black mamba of unusual size and intelligence. She was not unfriendly though, and told us that the venom in my blood could be counteracted by using an egg of the type of creature that produced it. We were looking for a certain type of reptile that could be found on a high ridge some distance from there. We thanked the strange creature and set out at once.
We had not traveled far before we were attacked by a group of bullywugs. Combat was horrible, but we managed to defeat them all in the end.
We soon reached the ridge where the reptiles liked to sun themselves, only to find that we were at the bottom of it. There was nothing else to do but climb. Jadescale fell once, but luckily we were close to the ground. After that, we were surprised that as we climbed hand and foot holds appeared for us—almost as if the ridge itself were helping us!
At the top, we discovered many different types of reptiles and amphibians, and had to use a bit of logic, and the information we were given by the Black Mother to figure out which one we wanted. It didn’t take long after that for us to follow the lizard back to its eggs. Retrieving one was a challenge, but we eventually were able to trick it with a rock duplicate.
We returned to Matula, but before we could reach him we were attacked by a hostile force of fire toads. Snarl nearly died in combat, but I was able to tend his wounds quickly.
When we reached Matula, he was able to make a brew to save me from the slowacting venom. As a reward for telling him all about our adventure and the Great Tree of Life, he gave us additional doses of the anti-toxin. Perhaps it will come in handy some day.

Trembling Village
The Year of Gathering Darkness #29

From the Memories of Kahluhae of the Windy Place
The Koshiva
The Year of Gathering Darkness
“We learn geology the morning after the earthquake.”
I was visiting the village of the Koshiva, and meeting some of the newer heroes of the jungle. A pair of lacerials—a bladeback called Jadescale, and a finhead called Snarl; as well as some other heroes such as Fierce Chaos a warrior from the distant aarakocra, and Ziss the lizardman. It is fortunate that we were there as tragedy soon struck the village. The earth itself moved beneath our feet. Many structures and even trees were toppled by the shaking, and we spent some time helping save some people and put out some fires. When everything had calmed down a bit, we received a summons to see Taronee.
Chief Rakil and Taronee told us that far to the south and west there was a village of the Kaltran people. The earth-shakes had been much worse there, and now their village was in ruins. They asked us to head there and help escort the refugees to the Koshiva. We accepted this mission and soon had set out to find the Kaltra.
The trip took several days, and almost every day of the trip there was another earth-shake. These got progressively worse as we traveled south of the River of Laughing Idols. Fierce Chaos did a good job of scouting ahead for us when he could, but we still had quite a few challenges to overcome on our trip.
Four days out, we met a saru named Yne who had broken her leg in the last tremor. I was able to patch the leg and we convinced her to come with us. On the fifth day, we encountered a spiketail garuda trapped under a toppled tree. We freed it and the beast fled from us without incident.
The sixth day proved the most interesting encounter. We met a group of shu, refugees from the Simbuki tribe who were relocating their entire tribe to the Rayanna Savannah in order to flee the earth-shakes. Fierce Chaos almost got us all killed when he took a joke a bit too far. It seems our aarakocra friend hasn’t quite figured out that not all races are appreciative of trickery as the korobokuru. At least we learned a quicker way to get to the Kaltra from them before they left, but I am not sure we made friends with them.
The next day we had to avoid a stampede of sailback garuda. This proved a small challenge for some of us, due to minor injuries we had sustained during some of the tremors. Jadescale proved very effective at climbing a tree, and was able to save a small korobokuru girl from being trampled in the process. The girl, called Waluki, was grateful enough to show us the path directly to her village.
Once we arrived at the Kaltran village, we were shocked to see how bad things looked. We spent most of the day repairing structures, tending to the wounded, and preparing provisions for the long trip back to the Koshiva. Of the sixty souls in the village, only seventeen had survived the recent tremors a scarcity of food.
On our journey to the village, we had discovered that one or more powerful sprits in Malatra were angered for some reason. We were not sure if this was due to the earth-shakes, or the cause of them; but all animals in the area had become skittish and more apprehensive than normal. Appeals to the spirits themselves proved unhelpful.
When we finally were prepared to start our trek, we passed out some basic weapons to the refugees in order for them to be able to defend themselves. They were worse using them than a drunken Saru. Along the trip back, we encountered garuda dogs, a constrictor snake, an angry sailback, and a group of raptors. Thankfully, we only lost one villager during all of these dangers, though a few others had minor injuries.
We at last made it back to the village of the Koshiva, where we were greeted as heroes. The remaining Kaltran’s joined with the Koshiva, and things began to calm down. But the earth-shakes did not stop.
That night Taronee told me what he had learned about the angry sprits. Apparently, the great spirit of the beast was so angered by the earth-shakes that it stopped acting as a patron to many in the jungle who called themselves beastmasters. It was a very dark day indeed.

Quest for the Snake Mother
The Year of Gathering Darkness #28

From the Memories of Gerk
Tribe of Big Chief Bagoomba
The Year of Gathering Darkness
“No treaty is an impediment to the dishonest.”
My companions Anar’ketecht, Blacquesmith, Content Not Found: null, Katan, Ssscathah and I had been called to see Bengoukee from our various tribes. It was obvious the old korobukuru had a soft spot for us. I am sure that we are his first choice for cronies when the Jungle needed saving. Ever since that incident earlier in the year at the Council of Tribes where we had to prevent a war between the butu and the Huroola by finding the legendary chili-pepper of fire, he seemed to think us the greatest heroes in Malatra.
We arrived in the village of Big Chief Bagoomba and were taken directly to Bengoukee’s hut. We were surprised to find Chief Bagoomba himself waiting for us there in addition to Bengoukee. The old korobokuru told us he had had a vision. In the vision some great danger would destroy all life within Malatra. Unfortunately, the vision was obscured but he knew one thing: ‘The answer lies with the Snake Mother, and only those with the Curse of the Snake Mother can truly understand. For without the snake people the Jungle will be ground to dust.’
Bengoukee then told us that the snake-people, called yaun-ti, had increased attacks on the people of Malatra. Now Chief Bagoomba was considering sending his own raids against the yaun-ti, an act that could surely lead to all out war. Bagoomba for his part, did not want war but knew it was inevitable if yaun-ti raids did not stop. To that end, Bengoukee wanted us to make a treaty with the yaun-ti. Bagoomba was so desperate he told us we were authorized to give them virtually anything, but would prefer to at least keep all lands south of the village of the Kuamu.
We were given some supplies and a guide to the Swamp of the Snake Men. Imsh was given a magical amulet that had been created after studying Blue Heron which had been recovered a year earlier. This allowed him to transform into a heron twice before being destroyed.
Our guide, a nubari named Bayi, soon led us down the River of Laughing Idols. As an oscray, Imsh was new to traveling the river, but the rest of us had done so many times in the past. On our way down river, we told him the story of when we defeated the attack on the village of the Kaltra by the frog people a few seasons back.
On our second day out, we had started north and soon came to the Rayanna Savannah. There we encountered some hunters from the tribe of the Wise Ones. They were hunting a pair of spiketail garuda, and we were asked to assist. We turned them down, but Ssscathah and Katan couldn’t resist getting involved. Unfortunately, Sscathah was hit with the creature’s tail and changed into his snake form to try to get away. This made it easy for the other gauda to trample him to death. Katan killed one and scared away the remaining one, but our group was already one man down before we had even reached snake country. After dining on garuda meat that night, we continued on in the morning.
The next day, after defeating a giant burrowing worm on the savanah, we were confronted with a group of snakemen. Anar’ketecht, Blacquesmith tried to flee; Katan gave chase after them allegedly to get them back. This left Bayi, Imsh, and I to try to reason with the yaun-ti. It didn’t go well. After binding, and blindfolding us, they captured our fleeing friends as well. We were taken to the main village of the yaun-ti, where we were left in a cage for some time, before the yaun-ti Snake Mother deemed to speak with us.
In her temple, she listened to our proposal of a treaty and alliance with interest. She then told us that she would accept nothing less than everything to the north of the village of the Kuamu as a trade for such an alliance. We were more than willing to agree to that, since it was what Bagoomba had told us was the most that we could reasonably offer in trade. Unfortunately, one of her servants objected to the idea of a treaty. He didn’t trust us.
She immediately agreed that we needed to do something in order to prove our good intentions, and worthiness of an alliance. She proposed a game, wherein we would be allowed to compete against some of her yaun-ti in recovering an artifact of the ancients. We were to race to the Cave of Power to retrieve the Stone of Seeing which lay beyond the Cavern of Silence, through the Tunnel that Stops a Nubari’s Heart, and past the Unsleeping Statue. None of this sounded appealing, but we agreed, as we felt we had no choice. She told us if we won, then the terms we had arrived at would be acceptable to her and her people. In the meantime, she kept Bayi as collateral that we would return even if we failed.
We set out on our quest at the same time as the yaun-ti group, but theirs had quite an advantage in knowledge of the terrain heading toward the cave. Anar’ketecht and I were constantly trying to find the correct path, and by luck of circumstance we eventually found the entrance to the Cave of Power. Unfortunately, the yaun-ti group had gotten there first.
We fought off some firetoads, and noted that at least on yaun-ti had died doing the same. Then we came to a cave where any noise louder than a whisper set off a partial cave-in. Another dead yaun-ti showed us that they opposing group had learned this lesson the hard way. We did our best to get across the room quietly. Thankfully, Anar’ketecht and I were able to get past with no problems. Imsh simply hovered and we pulled him on a rope. Katan changed into his tiger form and plodded through quietly enough, but we nearly lost Blaquesmith due to the nubari warrior’s clanking reed armor.
Beyond the Cavern of Silence was a weird tunnel which seemed to know when we were trying to cross it. A bolt of lightning shot from one end to the other every time we tried. Two dead yaun-ti made us suspect that their leader had been using them as shields to get through the tunnel. Eventually, we learned that if we crawled through the tunnel we would not get hit by the lightning.
On the other side we discovered a beautiful massive stone statue in front of an entrance to a chamber with a massive green emerald sitting on a dais. The emerald could only be the Stone of Seeing, and the sole remaining yaun-ti was already retrieving it! He tried to taunt us as he ran toward the exit, when suddenly the statue seemed to come alive and struck him a fatal blow. The gem hit the ground nearby.
Since the statue wasn’t outwardly hostile to us unless we tried to approach the gem, Imsh decided to complete the mission as best he could. He used his ability to move things with his mind to bring the gem to him, and then used the Amulet of the Heron to change into a heron and fly back to the Snake Mother. His abandonment of us, caused us to have to flee from a very motivated statue. The lighting in the Tunnel that Stops a Nubari’s Heart nearly killed Blaquesmith, but Katan carried him in his jaws as I held on to him for dear life. Anar’ketecht stopped the statue by screaming into the Cavern of Silence after we had made it through.
We soon arrived back at the yaun-ti village, just as Imsh who had gotten very lost as a bird, arrived as well. The Snake Mother took the news of the other yaun-ti’s deaths in stride, and she said that the alliance with the peoples of Malatra was now in effect. As a show of good will she gave us the Stone of Seeing to give to Bengoukee, but first she had Imsh use it. As he stared into it, she lightly bit his arm, leaving a small mark.
As Imsh looked into the stone, his vision was amplified to many others across Malatra. Those with the minds trained to understand the vision, such as the mystics, lost much of their ability due to the strain. Many others saw the vision as well, including us.
The ash covered Yaku Plains loomed large in this vision, but then we realized that the plains were not where they should be as we were standing on the Rayanna Savannah. The Yaku Plains were growing as we watched a figure clothed in black light walk slowly toward us. Plants around this figure died as he walked. Bengoukee, Taronee, The Snake Mother, Black Chaos, and many other powerful people or heroes of the jungle stood in opposition to this figure, but there was a great carnage which the figure was seemingly unaffected by. At last the lone surviving opponent to the figure, the chief of the Simbara stood against him. And then we realized, the black figure was Tiger. Tiger was coming.
Our return to Bengoukee was uneventful, but we learned upon our arrival that news of our treaty had preceded us. The details were muddled, but one group had gotten the entire story, and they had not been happy about the arrangement. The jungle druids had expressed their opposition by leaving the known parts of the jungle en masse. Where they went, or if they will ever return was not something they seemingly shared with anyone.
In spite of the controversy, and the death of our friend Ssscathah, we knew we had likely struck the first blow in a great war. We hoped that it was a war that we could win.

Ship from the Sky
Year of New Peoples #26

From the Memories of Yamboya Mosswalker
Tribe of the Katimaya
The Year of New Peoples
“There are big ships and small ships but the best ship of all is friendship.”
The annual Council of Tribes had just ended, and I was traveling from Big Chief Bagoomba’s to our various destinations. Pure Chaos, Harambe, and I had been saddled with one of the lucky winners of the Council of Tribes tournaments, a lizardman named Ziss. We were approaching the village of the Katimaya when we spotted by gnasher garuda. The creature was chasing a pair of korobokuru children. We showed our new young hero Ziss exactly how fast we could take down a gnassher when we were motivated.
The two children were named Kailen and T’risk, and were members of the local village. They took us there, where we met with Chief Yrbom and the village shaman Nibloc. Apparently, the Katimayan witch doctor, Kural was away on some errand. After a night of feasting, carousing, and boasting we slept for the night.
We were awakened suddenly when screams echoed through the village. Investigating, we discovered they came from shocked korobokuru all pointing at the sky. Hovering high above was a giant canoe! As we watched, a second canoe appeared and began chasing it through the air. Then suddenly the first canoe was falling, soon it had crashed into the jungle to the north of us.
We set out to find it immediately, and after only a short search we found the crash site. Dozens of snout-nosed people were poking around it. We approached with trepidation, they responded in kind. Soon the leader of the group came and spoke to us. His name was Bentfang, and his people were called the oscray. They had fled from their kin who were a more war-like people and they had been pursued through the empty skies until they reached us. They were tired, hungry and were still being pursued. Since they were friendly, we decided to help them. It was then that Chief Yrboom and his men arrived. Soon the two groups were fast friends. But before more than some good natured joking and drinking could be accomplished, the second flying canoe appeared in the air.
One of the oscray screamed that it was Backbiter, and soon Bentfang had given the order for his canoe, which he called a “spelljammming ship” to take to the sky. The four of us plus Yrbom were allowed to join the oscray in their flight. I sent my hawk friend, Chaosbane to rip at the riggings of the opposing boat. Meanwhile, we helped them shoot their giant sideways bow at the opposing ship, and we did damage them, but our ship was worse off. The fire caused us to crash, and this time the boat and its magical seat which was used to fly it were both destroyed. Thankfully, we survived without much more than a few scratches.
When things had calmed down, Bentfang spoke with us. He told us Backbiter would not leave Malatra until he had killed him. He asked us to help defeat his evil brother. A call immediately went out to Big Chief Bagoomba and the Koshiva for assistance. It was nearly two weeks later when we heard the news that Backbiters ship had stopped at the Rudra and captured the chieftain, and then moved on to the Koshiva, where they were now. We set out to assault the oscray, with an army of the best warriors of Big Chief Bagoomba along with Bentfang’s Oscray following us as well. Bentfang and one of his warriors accompanied us.
We arrived at the Koshiva village early the next day. We were easily able to sneak on board the ship, and we killed their witch doctor as soon as fighting broke out. Or more precisely, a confluence of bad luck got the witch doctor killed. We held off the evil oscray, while Bentfang and his brother Backbiter squared off in single combat. Meanwhile, the ship which we had cut from its anchor lines began to drift down the River of Laughing Idols. When it hit one of the Koshiva’s magnificent rope bridges it snapped it in half, but not before lilting.
The fire which had killed the evil witch doctor and the flooding and pounding the sideways ship took in the River of Laughing Idols was finally enough to destroy the ship. Backbiter was slain, though we lost Harambe to the evil oscray and tides as well. It was a fierce battle, but our forces proved victorious, and Bentfang was able to assume control over all the remaining oscray.
Bentfang and his people were now stranded in the jungle, though he vowed that he would not forget the friendship and help that we had provided. He and his people set out to found a village elsewhere within the jungle near the edge of the Rayanna Savannah. We had made some good friends, but couldn’t help wonder what else lay out there among the stars…

Death from the Mists
Year of New Peoples 25

From the Memories of Terra Chaos
Tribe of the Rudra
The Year of New Peoples
“You’re not allowed to call them dinosaurs any more ~ It’s speciesist. You have to call them pre-petroleum persons.”
I was traveling down the River of Laughing Idols on a much-needed rest. With me were some other heroes who also had the same idea: ”/characters/yamboya-mosswalker" class=“wiki-content-link”>Yamboya Mosswalker, The Crocoshaman, Kalameet, and Alyssa of the Huroola. We had been intending to stay clear of the xenophobic Rudra people, but when the Jungle Drums began to sound the alarm and request for assistance from the Rudra, we headed there immediately.
When we arrived, we discovered their village in complete disarray. A fire was destroying several homes and watchtowers, many boats were destroyed or being carried away by the river current, there were wounded everywhere, and several Rudran’s about to drown in the river. We got right to work trying to save them all. Alyssa was very effective in helping those in the burning buildings, while I concentrated on the boats. The others mostly dealt with the wounded.
When things had settled down, and the immediate danger to the Rudrans was dealt with, their tribal shaman called Com’lak, asked to speak with us. We were told that a group of monsters that looked like garuda-men had attacked them. Chief M’t’lak had been poisoned by one of the weapons of the garuda-men, and he would soon die unless a cure could be found. What was worse was that the garuda-men had kidnapped many women and children including the chief’s own daughter. Com’lak had divined that the creatures had come from and returned to the Valley of the Spirits. He wanted us to go there to retrieve the kidnapped tribesmen.
We set out immediately, and traveled by boat downriver. This required some finesse, as Kalameet was pretty adamant about not getting into the boat. We convinced him and by getting him very drunk putting him in the boat once he passed out. We hadn’t traveled far downriver before we were almost attacked by a giant crocodile. Yamboya and the Crocoshaman convinced it not to attack us, and I fed it some food to get it to go away. It seemed rather content, but also a bit irritated that it didn’t get to kill for its meal.
We continued on our way, and eventually came to the taboo lands bordering the Valley of the Spirits. The trail was fresh there, and we knew we were only a few hours behind our quarry. Our first problem was that we had to climb down a set of large vines which led down into the valley. When we arrived almost a hundred feet below on a narrow ledge, we discovered a trail we had to follow. Soon we came to a rope bridge, which looked horribly unstable. Poor Garudabait gave his life to make sure we were able to cross.
On the other side we found a tunnel, which we were able to travel through. There was a fork about half way through it, which led into deeper darkness with strange sounds coming from it. We avoided that path. When we exited the other side of the tunnel we encountered the largest long-neck garuda we had ever seen. It stood on the valley floor looking up at us over thirty nubari heights above us, but its body and neck was so big its face was only inches from our feet. Kalameet was the most daring of us and jumped on the creature’s neck and slid to the bottom. The rest of us took the cliff path to the ground, which took us almost an hour.
We had just reunited with Kalameet when the massive garuda began to run from a huge gnasher garuda. We fled as well, and thankfully the beast wasn’t interested in us. The prevalence of garuda in the valley surprised us. Within an hour of stalking our quarry we had seen more garuda and garuda types than most of us had ever seen. We occasionally had to scare some of the more predatory ones away from us, but overall it was pretty peaceful. There was also a lot of ruins of the ancients. Many of which would likely have been worth exploring if we had the time.
Soon we came across a group of the same garuda people we had seen corpses of in the Rudra village. They were fighting a battle with other garuda people. The only difference between the two groups was one group had tattoos on their forearms of black flame. We opted to help the ones without the tattoos.
When combat had ended, we discovered the strange garuda people couldn’t speak, but they seemed friendly. We followed them for some time, and soon came to another group of garuda people. One large three-horned one used a magical pendent to speak with us. He said his name was Whiteheart. His people were called Lacerials, and they had arrived on this world on accident after escaping some powerful evil spirit. Whiteheart explained that both he and another powerful witch doctor called Blackflame had tried to find a way to return their people to their world, but had given up recently. Blackflame had decided to search the ruins and had awakened an ancient unliving creature who he had allied with. Now Blackflame had taken control of most of the Lacerials. The unliving creature had Blackflame abduct nubari from the jungle, and bring them to him. So it appeared that our causes were aligned.
Whiteheart assigned a bladeback lacerial to lead us to the Blackflames, and their open air temple. When we arrived, we saw the captured Rudran in cages. We attacked immediately, and were able to take the enemy captain out quickly. His men proved more of a challenge, but after recovering the antidote to the poison M’t’lak was suffering from, and freeing the captured Rudrans, Blackflame himself showed up. Thankfully, so did Whiteheart with all of his remaining forces. Whiteheart and Blackflame entered into a magical duel, though Whiteheart ordered us to leave the valley with the remaining lacerials of both groups, as the creature allied with Blackflame would arrive soon.
We were halfway up the cliffside when a magical stick Whiteheart had created to keep the garuda at bay failed, indicating his death. We did our best to seal the entrance into the Valley of the Spirits behind us, as we exited. The remaining lacerials went off to found a new village of their own, though we were declared their friends. The Rudrans returned to their village, and M’t’lak was saved. The Rudrans though, did not forget what had happened at the hands of the horrible garuda-people.

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.

The Golden Child
The Year of Discovery #13

From the memories of Yamboya Mosswalker
The Simbara
The Year of Discovery
“Disobedience is a demand for change.”
We had come to the village of the Simbara when the call had gone out. A new Golden Child had been born. The heir to power, wisdom, and appearance of the Ancients who ruled Malatra many generations past was the first one in more than one-hundred cycles. One was born every five generations, and when they came of age they were the herald of great peace and prosperity in the land. The Golden Child was meant to unite the people of Malatra like never before.
And so the call had gone out. Warriors and heroes from all over Malatra, as well as representatives from all tribes that could be notified had descended on the main village of the Simbara to get a glance of the Golden Child.
The Simbara had been busy preparing as hosts, huge trays of foods were set out for those who arrived. Mowgli had come to the event, as had some heroes I knew only by reputation: some of the heroes of Fire Mountain called The Crocoshaman, and Alyssa of the Huroola; as well as one hero who was well known to have violated taboo by braving a structure of the ancients called Pure Chaos.
We arrived early enough that we were able to eat and rest before the traditional viewing of the child which was scheduled for morning. That night there was some revelry and a lot of discussion from the various guests. The renowned hero Ook, who had recently become chief of his own tribe was there, and several of my companions spoke with him. The warriors of the tribe of Big Chief Rasta Nifari and his younger brother Reesta were both three. The Kuamu warrior Banteau Shesketch, whom everyone called Fatman due to his impressive bulk and skills at wrestling had come; As had the diminutive shu shaman Daplane of the Jengi.
Noticeably absent, were any Huroola, other than Alyssa who had been traveling with The Crocoshaman by all accounts. When I spoke to the korobokuru warrior The Mighty Duba, I learned why. Apparently, the entire delegation of the Huroola had left with their gifts after discovering that the child was a male. This was an interesting enough tidbit that the other heroes in my area all wished to follow up on it. We spoke with Prince Umbaak, the son of Spirit of Lion, the chief of the Simbara. He told us that the Golden Child was indeed male, and that he was born to his sister Tani’i and his best friend Joaarn. He also suspected that his father may end up going to war with the Huroola for their insult.
We then spoke to Bengoukee, as the wise old korobukuru had made the trip here as well. He seemed distressed, and when we pressed him on it, he admitted that he was troubled by the birth of the Golden Child. This child will be the first to give guidance to the jungle in over three-hundred cycles, but in that time the people of the jungle had learned to stand on their own without help. Already people were proclaiming this child the ‘Future King of Malatra’, a title that not all would respect…certainly not the misandristic Huroola. But when the last Golden Child, Noh of the Huroola, had vanished at a young age one-hundred cycles ago, the entire jungle nearly went to war with the Huroola. He worried about a similar circumstance for this child.
The next morning, we were permitted to see the Golden Child—after first presenting our gifts. We were not disappointed in its appearance, it truly resembled the Ancients. As we finished, Spirit of Lion stepped forward and proclaimed that the child needed to rest for a bit. As we were waiting, a scream of alarm. The village was on fire! Mowgli, Pure Chaos, and I went to help, while The Crocoshaman and Alyssa went to check on the child. They were politely refused entrance by Syanya the tribal shaman, and Fenzzica U’Bandalli the tribal witch doctor. It was only on their way to help us that the cry of alarm came from inside the child’s hut.
We all came to investigate, and discovered that the child was missing, along with part of the back wall of the hut. Fenzzica mistook Alyssa and the Crocoshaman for having taken part in a conspiracy to steal the child, but the arrival of Bengoukee cleared that up.
Soon we found the dead bodies of the Huroola behind the hut, though it looked like they had been killed by some giant cat. It was clear that the Golden Child had been abducted by someone or something. Spirit of Lion soon had gathered all the onlookers, and with Bengoukee’s urging, he chose us to go retrieve the Golden Child from the taboo lands. Prince Umbaak would got, to assist us.
Soon, preparations had been made and we set out. We had not traveled far though when a female leopard katanga intercepted us. Her name was Jyhinn, and although cold and aloof, she said she was there to help us track the assailants. After a very short debate, we accepted her offered aid.
Over the next day we tracked the abductor clear across the savannah. Eventually we were attacked by a large force of hyena katanga. Pure chaos used a fire spell on them causing Prince Umbaak to overreact a bit. We would have been overwhelmed if Mowgli hadn’t used a spell to entangle the creatures in the weeds.
After dealing with the creatures we continued on our way. We had only traveled a few hours when we came to a massive chasm blocking our path, the trail we had been following seemed to cross over it directly. Pure Chaos got us across the canyon with a spell, but no sooner had we reached the other side then we were confronted with a large number of tontor.
I spoke with one of the creatures and it told us that the sacred one was brought through this land by the Simba. With the help of the tontor, we found the nearest watering hole, and were pointed to the Simba lands beyond.
As we entered the Simba lands, we discovered what appeared to be a massive pride of lions. As we approached, two of the great cats stood and moved away, revealing the Golden Child still sleeping in his basket. A voice from nearby asked us why we had come. Turning, we saw what appeared to be an Ancient. He introduced himself as Noh, the last Golden Child, and revealed that he had left the Huroola because the people of the jungle were venerating him and treating him like a god. He had stolen the child, to protect him from the Huroola assassins and to save him from a similar life as the one he had lived.
Noh concluded that he didn’t want to choose the fate of the child, as that was the duty of the people of Malatra. So he gave us a challenge. If any of us could wrestle a lion to the ground, then we could choose the fate of the child. If we couldn’t the lion would kill us. Alyssa volunteered, and soon she was engaged in wrestling a lion. She had some luck at first, but that quickly turned, and the lion outlasted her. It was a bloody death.
Noh then asked if anyone else wished to try. No one was willing, so Prince Umbaak stepped forward. His death was quick and equally bloody.
With no other volunteers. Noh said that the child would be safe with him for the time being, but that one day he may return. With that both Noh and the entire pride of lions left. As the rest of us turned to leave, we saw that both Alyssa and Prince Umbaak were alive and with us. Their deaths had merely been an elaborate illusion created by Noh.
Jythinn left us at that point, to reveal to her tribe what had occurred with the Golden Child. The rest of us returned to the Simbara where we had a lot of explaining to do.

Revenge of the Exile
Year of Discovery #12

From the memories of Mowgli
The Ratikiya
The Year of Discovery
“The popular belief isn’t always the correct one.”
I had been minding my own business; traveling through the jungle from the Simbara to Big Chief Bagoomba’s. Then suddenly I wasn’t. I was trapped in a net and being carried through the jungle on a stick by some nubari. I was not alone, there were several others also being carried. I must have been caught unaware and imprisoned somehow. It was almost a day later before I got a look at my fellow prisoners. One of them was Kalameet, whom I had traveled with to fight the last headshrinker. The others were known to me, but only by reputation. They were some of the Heroes of Fire Mountain; River,The Crocoshaman, and Ook. We all were unceremoniously tossed into a deep pit, and left there for two days.
There we got to know each other a bit, and I found that their stories were all similar to mine. We waited for an explanation as to why we had all been kidnapped. When we were removed from the pit one by one, and again bound in nets, a nubari who spoke our language did tell us that his cousin, the chief of a tribe would tell us why we had been captured.
We passed through a small village, of a tribe I couldn’t recognize. All the villagers came out and soon we were at the head of a procession. At the top of a hill, my heart fell and some idea of why I had been captured came to me when I saw Rakid, the Koshiva traitor who. Apparently, he was looking to get revenge upon me for getting him temporarily exiled.
The chief of the strange tribe, along with a shaman came and pronounced sentence on us and Rakid even made a point of gloating to me. We were then individually pushed into a hole in the ground. When we hit bottom, it was squishy and smelled like rotten fruit. We were in total darkness. Before we could even move, horrible smelling creatures which made strange guttural sounds grabbed us and dragged us to deeper into the darkness. We were left in a different dark room, where we heard the sound of stone sliding upon stone.
Kalameet and I could see somewhat, but after some protestations from River, we were forced to light a torch to help the others see. The room we were in had one exit; a massive stone slab was blocking the way. Ook alone couldn’t move it, so The Crocoshaman and I both helped. When it did start to move, it moved easily, as if it were on guided tracks.
In the room beyond, six of the strange creatures attacked us. Now that we could get a look at them we were repulsed by their appearance as much as their smell. They were hunched and scaly, lizard-like in appearance with fins upon their heads and long tails. They bore spears, and were very proficient, but otherwise only seemed to have loincloths.
After a bit of combat, we killed one of them, and River who nearly had died panicked enough to grab the torch from The Crocoshaman and used a spell to make the creatures flee. We then began to explore, all the while realizing that more of those creatures could come back at any moment. Passed the original chamber where we had fallen into, we found a passageway and what appeared to be a shut door. We entered the room beyond and did our best to secure the door, as we had started to hear them behind us.
The room seemed to be a storage room of some sort, within we found several wondrous devices of the ancients including and most importantly some sort of small flat object that was tied to the wall. It had symbols upon it and when Kalameet touched one he caused the nearby wall to seemingly eat itself. There was a different chamber beyond, in which several blue lit panels covered the walls and a chair regal enough to be a throne sat in the middle of the floor. Ook unwisely decided to sit upon it, and suddenly restraining straps held his arms down and some sort of crown lowered onto his head.
Ook discovered that he had more finger sized indentations with symbols covering them on his near his fingers and began to experiment, hoping to be let loose. One of these caused the blue panels on the wall to be replaced with several pictures of the jungle outside, pressing it again caused to pictures to change, a third time changed them back to blue panels. A different symbol caused a loud blaring noise to sound everywhere nearby. This at least caused the creatures at the outer door to flee and try to find their courage again. The most useful one Ook found seemed to open a door in the hallway past the storage room to the outside. We found a hidden switch on the back of the throne which released Ook from the seat, and we all headed toward the new exit.
Once outside, we were surprised to discover that we were right in the middle of the strange village we had encountered. The people were called the Ratikiya, and they were not so bad. They immediately thought that we were returned from the dead, and that “the spirits in the darkness” had returned us. They were so convinced of our special blessing, that soon we were blessing their weapons, healing sick babies, and performing marriages.
We kept insisting on seeing the chief though, and soon Chief Karatila was before us. Soon we were convincing the chief that Rakid was not his friend, and sending 10 of his best warriors after him. The chief gave a long speech, in which he apologized to us for his tribes’ part in Rakid’s scheme and asked us—the blessed of the spirits—to share our blessing with his tribe. At the end of which, he offered the mightiest warrior amongst us…Ook, the position of tribal chief in his stead. Ook accepted.
Before we could do much more, we realized that the entrance to the underground was still wide open, and that the creatures within would likely come out at nightfall. Kalameet shot one who went so far as to look down the tunnel at us, but we figured that something more must be done to deal with the threat. We had limited time before nightfall, and decided our best bet might be to go back in via the pit we had entered originally.
We had one warrior lead us to the pit entrance, and we were eventually able to get down into the underground again. The whole excursion was a mistake. We were soon confronted with a horde of the creatures in darkness. We fled of course, but River fell underneath their relentless attacks. Making our way to the top of the pit, the four of us who remained returned with our guide to the Ratikiya and prepared for a battle.
When night came, although woefully unprepared, we made good use of my entanglement spell and the town’s warriors used bows to kill the creatures as they tried to exit the tunnel. When day came, after some debate, we decided to attempt to clear the rest of the complex. We used the warriors and took things slow. Eventually we were able to kill the last few warriors the creatures had as well as their women and hatchlings. The biggest surprise of the excursion was finding River alive somehow. She truly must be blessed by the spirits.
The warriors we sent after Rakid, returned soon afterward. He had made good his escape, along with some followers, but we had no doubt he would show up again. Ook retired from adventuring to concentrate on being a good chief to the Ratikiya.

Searching for a Flower
The Year of Discovery #11

From the Memories of Malinsar
The Tenanga
The Year of Discovery
“I have the true feeling of myself only when I am unbearably unhappy.”
I was visiting the small tribe called the Tenanga. Several other heroes were about as well. Kahulae of the Windy Place, Alyssa of the Huroola, The Crocoshaman, Pure Chaos, and Kalameet were all there, along with the Mighty Duba, Tal, Boo Deux, and Fatman. We had all been helping with the recent harvest and the tribe was going to throw a feast in our honor. Suddenly, Chief Watowa’s wife began to scream that her daughter Lotus Blossom was missing. Soon enough the whole village was looking for her.
When we discovered evidence nearby that she had been abducted; The Crocoshaman, Pure Chaos, Alyssa, Kahulae, Kalameet and I headed down the trail in pursuit. We hadn’t traveled far when we encountered a strange snake-man blocking our way. He obviously wasn’t going to let us pass, so Alyssa attacked him. He was quite a handful to defeat, but we eventually succeeded. When it was over, Po the shaman of the Tenanga came and spoke with us. He told us that the snake-people came in 3 varieties, and had likely taken Lotus Blossom either for food or for a sacrifice. He didn’t know where they came from, but said that the trail further was not well known to his people. He asked if we would retrieve Lotus Blossom and of course we agreed.
For a few days we followed the trail, with no real luck. One morning as we were breaking camp, we encountered a hungry flesh ripper Garuda! Through our valiant efforts to hide and attack it while it was preoccupied trying to eat Kahulae in a tree, we were able to kill it. Unfortunately, what we didn’t know at the time was that this garuda was merely a baby; soon its full grown and very angry mother came after us. What followed was a chase scene that could have been considered comical if it wasn’t life threatening. After making to safety across a rope bridge, we hid and rested for a bit.
A few more days of travel got us to a small bog that we hadn’t known was there. Thankfully The Crocoshaman was wise to the ways of swamps and helped us avoid a patch of quicksand. Proceeding into the swamp, we found what appeared to be a village of strange stone domes. They all faced the center of the village however, and so we surmised that was where we needed to go.
While most of us debated, Pure Chaos charged inside. We followed as soon as we could, but by then he was already in a pitched battle against two nubari-looking snake people, a snake-looking snake person and five nubari who seemed to worship the snake people. Combat was straight forward until one of them created darkness in the hut. This was complicated by Pure Chaos’s liberal use of his fire spells. I did the smart thing and rescued Lotus Blossom from the pile of sticks that one of the snake people had transformed into snakes.
Once I was safely outside the hut the chaos inside it eventually followed me. I was able to help to kill the last snake man. Then we began to deal with our injuries. The biggest surprise to us was Kalameet, who at first we couldn’t locate. Eventually, we found him, at least from what we could tell. It appeared that one of the snake people had changed him into a mouse. We collected him and set off back to the Tenanga. We hadn’t even traveled a day before we ran into another snake person and his three nubari companions.
Pure Chaos was able to capture the nubari in a magical created web spell. We all attacked the snake man, and took him down, but not before he had transformed both Pure Chaos and Kahulae into mice. We likewise collected them and continued on our way.
When we arrived at the Tenanga, Po was able to restore our friends with some spells over the next few days. We all were given a feast in our honor for saving Lotus Blossom.


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