Malatra Redux

The Sickness
The Year of Sorrow and Hope #40

From the Memories of Pure Chaos
Deep in the Southwestern Jungle
The Year of Sorrow and Hope
“The solution to pollution by dilution when it comes to radiation is fallacious.”
I was deep in the southwest jungle near the Dreaming River with a few other heroes including Triceracop, Ziss, Broke-Horn, Groot, and Booki the Chaotic. We were hunting for something that would make a suitable birthday present forBig Chief Bagoomba, but not having much luck of it.
Suddenly, we heard the cry for help from nearby, and raced to investigate. What we found surprised us. A plantman had used magic to call to us as she writhed in agony upon the ground. She said her name as Nari of the trees, and claimed that horrible creatures were crawling all over her body, rocks were crushing it, the sun was running, and the entire jungle was somehow moving. She wanted to be taken home.
Since she seemed insane, we obliged and traveled a day out of our way to take the plantman back to her village. When we arrived, we discovered the place seemed deserted. The plantman shaman of the village, named Staedt came to speak with us. He told us that the village was suffering a great plague and tried to get us to leave, unfortunately it was too late. It was likely one or all of us had already been affected, though we couldn’t tell. Staedt asked Nari if she had found a cure, and she claimed that there was something wrong with the water. Staedt grew concerned, he asked us to wait for him while he went into a hut to do some meditation and research. This took some time, so we helped out the best we could around the village, including protecting the village from the inevitable garuda attack.
When Staedt came and found us, he told us that in his vision he had seen a great beast sit in the water, breathing fire from its back. It had long spines like a garuda, but it was not a garuda. He believed it was the cause of the sickness, and asked us to investigate it. He also warned us of something else in his vision that seemed very powerful with magic. Unfortunately, helping the plantfolk meant giving up on ever reaching Bagoomba’s with a present in time for the party, but we decided it was worth it.
So we began following the river toward its source. After a few days we discovered several small piles of dead fish and other animals along the river bank. As we investigated, we were attacked by a gnasher garuda! Thankfully, I was quick and able to escape. Broke-horn was the true hero though, using his magic to distract the creature. We found some odd items in some of the piles of dead fish, which we kept as curiosities.
Soon we arrived at a small lake. Broke-horn used a spell to scout out the strange garuda-like thing from a distance. This worked for a bit, but when the tall figure which seemed to emerge from the thing in the lake noticed the spell, Broke-horns surprise was apparent to all of us. Broke-horn was able to tell us that the fire that came from its back was in fact a pair of flying lizards perched there which occasionally belched flame. This made us a little less apprehensive, so we approached cautiously.
The two lizards seemed to get spooked by us, and tried to attack us before the massively tall blue skinned thing, called them off. We immediately suspected that the tall creature was an ancient. With a wave of his hand he was able to speak to us in our own language.
He introduced himself as L’riyt, of the Gobi bank, and asked us who we were and which city we came from. This confused us for a bit, but after a while he asked us what had happened to the city of Donen. Much more confusion followed; all the while we were trying to convey that there was an illness which might somehow be caused by the ancient’s water garuda, which I now realized was of similar design to the ships the oscray had arrived upon. L’riyt confirmed my thoughts when he todl us that the craft had come from the stars. When Ziss asked "How?’ he explained that ‘using the Dermor principle, it takes magical energy and focuses it through the Duolateraiate Cantupal, then using the Moron ossilator, it contrives it the Fifth Level’…and that is about where I fell asleep.
We again tried to explain about the sickness, but he told us that he couldn’t move his craft until he found something he called a Trilateriate Knowledge Converter. When we stupidly asked what that was, he again put us to sleep by telling us that a Trilateriate Knowledge Converter was used in the Fernate Nublate for converting the sum of the quasi elemental fields that are produced from the axionating of the somniparticle matrix. It uses multifermile strands to pinpoint the fields of summit trancing that magnify the reverb of the zutrate maximum. Or more simply, it finds things. He assured us that only with it could he cure the sickness and stop it from spreading.
We asked what it looked like, and he told us it came in all shapes and sizes, but that he would know it when he saw it. He also knew that it had been in a great village which was not far, though it would take some time to walk there. He asked us to join him, as the garuda scared him.
The journey was long, it took several days in fact, and on the way the strange ancient scarcely spoke. When we came to a massive clearing, we were forced to confront a pair of adult nasher garuda. The creatures would have easily killed us all, if not for the strange magic sticks L’riyt pulled from his cloak. They didn’t make the combat easy, but it did make it survivable. After dealing with the creatures and passing through a powerful mirage, we arrived at a massive strange tree. L’riyt used his crystal upon the tree, and then covered first himself and then the rest of us with some glowing goo it produced.
The next morning, we came to the outskirts of a city of the ancients. We can only presume it was Donen. The area beyond was strewn with many stone statues of ancient nubari apparently wearing strange armor. L’riyt used his crystal and directed us to one of the huts. As we approached though, a strange voice spoke to us, out came a massive snake with strangely hypnotic eyes. Broke-horn’s spell allowed us to kill the creature quickly, which was good for I had no doubt that otherwise it would have killed us all.
L’riyt quickly found the thing he was looking for, and told us that was all he needed there, and we could return. Seconds later, we found ourselves again at his craft. He thanked us for our help, and poured something into the lake. He then gave us a little vial to use on the plantfolk with a large amount of water. He claimed that the sickness would never be a problem again. He entered his craft again, and as we watched, the strange craft rose into the sky like a misshapen bird and flew silently out of sight. We were left wonder if he was truly one of the ancients of legend.

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The Sound of Silence
The Year of Sorrow and Hope #39

From the Memories of Booki the Chaotic
The Village of Lilac
The Year of Sorrow and Hope
“One vision can have many interpretations.”
I was in the jungle with my companions Broke-horn, Grootand Triceracop and an aarakocra that I hadn’t met before called Fierce Chaos, when we received word in the form of a small bird that village of the lacerials was in need of our aid to help stop the periodic earthshakes. So we began heading to the village of the lacerials, which lay some distance east of the Rudra on the River of Laughing idols.
We were a day away from the village and camped for the night, when we had a strange experience. We began to detect possible danger just outside our campsite. Fierce Chaos took to the skies to keep a watch out. After some investigation, we found that a group of Rudran warriors had approached us in the dark. They spoke mostly to me, as they seemed almost offended by the two lacerials, and didn’t seem to notice our plant friend. They told us that their shaman had a vision that what we were doing was going to bring destruction upon the Rudran people. They asked us to not travel to the lacerial village, or agree to help the “garuda people”. We thanked them for their concern, but since they were being civil, we were not at all worried that violence would erupt. They left without incident.
We entered the village called Lilac the next day and were welcomed by Trueblood the village’s hornhead witch doctor and chieftain. Through use of magic, for the benefit of those who didn’t understand Lacerial, he told us that we should speak with Starr, the bladeback shaman. Starr told us that he had a vision that the village would be destroyed unless we could somehow learn what sound silence makes and recover it. Retrieving it, would have the effect of protecting the area from the earthshakes that had devastated Malatra recently. For this to be accomplished, he would need to go with him to the Forbidden Mountains, on the far side of Malatra. Since he did not know the way, and feared the various dangers of the jungle, he needed our help.
Soon, suitable supplies had been provided, and we had set out on our quest. We hadn’t been out of the village of the lacerials for more than a day, when we again had an encounter with some Rudrans. Once again, hostilities were avoided, but this time their dire warnings were closer to outright threats.
A few days later we experienced an earthshake in the afternoon. By evening, we discovered an injured bladeback garuda. Thankfully, it responded well to our attempts to calm it, and we were able to administer some basic first aid. It left us without any hostility.
At the end of two weeks of travel, we reached the edge of the Yaku Plains. Of all of us, only Fierce Chaos had crossed the plains of ash before. On his advice, we spent some time making additional water skins and preparing for a tough journey.
It took nearly two hands of days to cross the waste, but we finally began to see the Forbidden Mountains on the far side. Entering an area of the jungle that was much less dense at the foot of the mountains, we soon discovered the body of a shu in some underbrush. To our surprise he was still alive enough to give us a message. “Help them.” he said “My friends have gone on… the prophet of the Huroola said… must destroy the sound of silence or tiger will return…help them…” Although we had treated his injuries, he died of poisoning immediately after that. Months ago, Triceracop had met the so-called prophet first hand, and he was revealed to have been a fraud. Apparently, this shu and his friends had not heard the news yet. It made us wonder what other mischief the prophet could have instigated before being destroyed.
Starr wasted no time as we began to climb the mountains. Fierce Chaos was able to fly most of the way up, and take me in monkey form as well. The rest had a bit of a slog. But at least no one died from the ordeal.
Once we crested the mountain, we discovered a hidden glade more beautiful than anything we had seen in Malatra. With Groot’s help, we were able to find the tracks of the shu’s friends. Coincidentally, they were headed in the direction that Starr wanted to go. When we found them, they were standing around a large floating white crystal. The saru of their group hit the crystal with a club and got knocked back into the nearby pond for the trouble. Meanwhile, the reverberation his blow caused mad all of us deaf. This was less of a problem for the lacerials or Groot, as they communicated so much with sign language already, but it really hampered communication with the opposing group which also included an oscray and lizard man. They eventually seemed to think we were ok, when we rescued their unconscious saru friend from drowning.
After a bit of a debate, we were allowed to take the crystal. For this Starr had us enter the Dreamland and perform a ritual. It was a surreal experience. When we were done, Starr took a portion of the crystal and left the rest for us. He told us that with it we would be able to protect a village from the earthshakes for a single year. We were grateful for the reprieve. This would not immediately solve the problem of the earthshakes, but it was a good start.

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On the Lookout
Year of Gathering Darkness #36

From the Memories of Ziss
The Deep Jungle
The Year of Gathering Darkness
“The fiercest serpent can be overcome by a swarm of ants.”
I was traveling through the jungle with some friends including Pure Chaos, Triceracop, Broke-Horn, Content Not Found: null, and Booki the Chaotic. Suddenly, we heard a loud scream and we went to investigate. We soon discovered a group of Jungle Tam’hi trying to keep a pair of extremely young Saru calm. They introduced themselves as members of the nearby Jungle Tam’hi Tribe of Bright Orchid.
The chief o f the tribe called Araka, said that the children had recently been visiting their tribe with their mother, while his wife Lianna had visited a Saru village. He explained that at some point during the night the mother of the two Saru had been killed, and that the sound was just the two children discovering it. They took us to the body upon request, and we learned that she had all flesh removed from her bones. It was as if she had been dead for some time instead of just the night.
The Tam’hi were understandably worried that whatever had done this could attack their village next, so they asked us to take the two children back to their father and retrieve the chief’s wife. We agreed.
The children were named Bam-nut and her brother Choc-choc. Ban-nut took an instant liking to Groot, while Choc-choc tried followed me with fascination. Broke-horn was worried they would run off, so he fashioned a leash out of some vines for each of them, and we had them ride Groot and myself for god measure. Since the Saru village was more than five days away, Araka provided us with enough provisions for ten days. They also gave us gifts to give to the chief of the village in recompense for the death of his wife. We set out immediately.
The first two days of our travel were uneventful, and then as we were passing through some particularly dense undergrowth, we were attacked by leopard. Thankfully, Broke-Horn was able to disable it pretty quickly, and we were soon able to dispatch it. That night we discovered a dead bird, who looked plucked and stripped of flesh much like the Mother Saru had been. We opted to travel through the night, rather than rest as to make it to the Saru village that much sooner.
The next morning, we discovered a large spiketail garuda in our path that had seemingly gone insane. It was attacking something that we couldn’t see. Groot attempted to shoot the invisible enemy, and we eventually cast a web spell on the area. The web immobilized the gardua just as it was turning its attention to us, but it didn’t catch the invisible enemy. As we got close to it, the garuda abruptly died in front of us. Triceracop investigated the area, and we soon learned that several ants had been on the creature. We surmised that the creature or as it were creatures that had been killing things in the jungle had been a swarm of fire ants, much like the luroki swarms had nearly done a few years earlier.
We finally arrived at the Saru village at dusk the next day. Unfortunately, the ants had already made it there, as a massive column of ants was approaching the village. We made liberal use of several small fires to try to slow the creatures down, while Groot, Booki, and Triceracop all tried their best to get the less defensible Saru to the relative safety across the nearby river. I worked as hard as I could to keep the ants from somehow fording the river using their own bodies.
We had some luck in our endeavor when the ants began eating each other, but it was still a losing battle. Pure Chaos used some fire magic to great effect but also destroyed a few buildings of the Saru in the process and freaked out all of the Saru in the village. Broke-Horn and Triceracop helped calm them, and prevented the chief called Mokka from going on a crusade to kill all the ants when he learned about his wife’s death. As Triceracop saved the Tam’hi woman called Lianna from the ants, Broke-Horn made sure to try to save the food stores as well.
In the end, the village was mostly saved, with only a few buildings damaged by fire or ants that were beyond repair. Since Mokka hadn’t named the village, he gave the right to us, and Pure Chaos declared it Chaoshome. After giving Mokka the gifts from the Tam’hi and his children, we took Lianna and returned to Bright Orchid.

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Terror from Below
The Year of Gathering Darkness #35

From the Memories of Pure Chaos
The Tribe of The Wise Ones
The Year of Gathering Darkness
“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this dist—”
Many had come to the village of the Wise Ones for the Birthday Party of Amanaki, the baby tontor. In a place of special honor, were the heroes Black Chaos, Kahluae of the Windy Place , and Shere Khan who were the survivors of the expedition which saved the tontor’s life in its infancy.
As the festivities began, Arkari the tribal chieftain and powerful head shaman of the Wise Ones asked for me to join her in her hut. To my surprise, several others were there as well. I recognized Triceracop, Ziss, and Kalameet from various heroic deeds told around the campfires, but I had never adventured with any of them. There was also tow I did not know: a plantman ranger called Content Not Found: null, and monkey katanga savage wizard called Booki the Chaotic. I was really curious why they had been asked to join the meeting.
Arkari told us that she had been resting when she had a vision. Now she needed help, and that it might put our lives in danger if we agreed to help her. We all agreed to help her, and she told us of seeing a great evil within the ancient, mysterious, and sacred tontor graveyard. She said that we must leave as soon as we could in order to reach the tontor graveyard and stop the evil there. She gave us directions there, which shall not be repeated. She also told us that there were guardians of the graveyard, but she did not know much about them.
We set out the next morning across the savannah. After a minor quake, we discovered a baby talking bird which had been knocked and blown form its tree. Ziss recognized the species as one he had encountered before and the bird who called himself Aboo confirmed that his father was Yato whom Ziss had even met once. We helped the bird back to its tree and continued on our quest.
The next night we found some shelter from the torrential rain in a copse of cypress trees. In the middle of the night we were awakened as the trees themselves attacked us! My quick thinking with a utility spell had temporarily incapacitated one of the trees, but the other was still a real problem. Working with Booki, who I had taken under my wing, we used several spells to enlarge Triceracop to several times his original size. With him as our ally, we quickly defeated the wicked trees.
The next day after a particularly nastly little earthshake, we discovered yet another displaced creature. A baby bladeback garuda had gotten stuck in a pit. Once again utilizing my enlarge spell on Triceracop, and Kalameet’s quick use of a rope we were able to free the beast which ran away happily.
The next night’s rain was even worse than the previous few days, and we were desperate for shelter. Luckily, Groot was able to find us some shelter in the form of a cave. We had just begun to settle down in the cave, when three giant beetles with massive horns on their fronts came to inspect us. Ziss was able to keep them calm enough for us to realize that they weren’t aggressive, just curious. I suspect that he tried to keep them as friends even after we had left.
On the fifth day of our travels, we must have been nearing the graveyard, as a flying creature with the head of a nubari and the body of a simba approached us. It spoke to us in nubari when it landed. It told us that it was the outer guardian of tontor graveyard. We would not be allowed to proceed unless we proved ourselves worthy. To that end it told us that it would ask us up to three riddles. Iif we as a group got any of the riddles correct then we would be judged worthy.
Its first riddle was more of a general knowledge test. It asked us who the revered voice for all the peoples of the jungle was. We debated for some time, before answering we thought it to be the spirits. The creature told us we were incorrect.
Its second question was a more traditional riddle. “I may get older and my body gets weaker, but every day my mind grows stronger. I am not a nubari or any other humanoid race. What am I?” Kalameet was quick with the answer when he said a tontor. The creature smiled and said that we had proven ourselves worthy.
We entered into the tontor graveyard, and we soon began to notice signs of a battle. We discovered we had two paths that we could follow, and we opted to follow the one which seemed to lead to the more wounded opponent. It was lucky we did so, as the trail led us to a small cottage. As we entered we found a dying man on the floor. We soon learned that he was a tontor katanga, and his name was Nauleo. He was the current internal guardian of the tontor graveyard. He explained that he was attacked by a former prisoner of the ancients a deformed two-legged tontor man. The prisoner must have escaped due to the earthshakes. He gave us each some weapons made of ivory, which he said could hurt the creature. We then all set out to kill it!
It didn’t take us long to find it, and the creature was as horrific as Nauleo had described. I tried my trick with Triceracop again, but Booki was unable to replicate it for some reason. It was no real problem though. With the weapons that had been given to us, we were welll equipped enough to destroy the creature….though Tricercop almost died in the process.
With the evil destroyed, Nauleo thanked us and allowed us to leave with the weapons. He also told us not to tell any of the location of the tontor graveyard-an easy matter since the knowledge seemed to seep from our minds over the course of the journey back to The Wise Ones.
When we arrived we were greeted with a joyous celebration. Amanaki had briefly fallen ill before we left, and his birthday party had to have been postponed. But he had made a great recovery the day we had defeated the demon. Arkari gifted us with some finely woven backpacks and we celebrated like the heroes we were.
As we were feasting, Kalameet was asked by the hedgehog katanga trader called Abu to pay for something he had traded for earlier, and to his surprise, Abu had him pay a debt to another person. That person was Kural, the witch doctor of the Katimaya. We did not see Kalameet again after that.

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The Dreaming Lake
The Year of Gathering Darkness #34

Form the Memories ofShere Kahn
The Tribe of The Dreamers
The Year of Gathering Darkness
“If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time.”
I had been having a strange dream for the past several nights, and it had been leading me through the jungle. When I arrived at the location the dream was leading me, I found that others had answered a similar dream. Broke-Horn the Masked One was there, as was another lacerial called Triceracop. Lastly Ziss, the lizard man had also come. Though I had not met any of them before, it seemed that the spirits were calling us together for some reason.
That night we all had a dream where a voice of a small girl or female shu asked us for help from across a wide lake. The dream told us to follow the nearby stream, so we set out immediately. A few hours of traveling the stream, we encountered a very scared young panther. I tried unsuccessfully to convey that we were not a threat, but Triceracop tried to scare it by attacking, when it made no further response after attacking him back once, we just avoided it and continued on our way.
Soon we came to a cliff face, where we had to fight a small group of flying snakes before we could ascend. Past the cliff was a massive lake, we could see an island on the other side, but we weren’t sure how to reach it. We began to wade into the water, but before we had gone far we discovered the floating body of an unconscious female shu. While Triceracop attended to her we were attacked by a group of lizard men who were obviously trying to kill her more than us.
We awakened the young shu and she said her name was Tara; she was the shaman of her tribe called the Dreamers, who lived on the nearby island. She told us that a wicked snake katanga called Sseneck had cast a spell on the entire village making them into sleepwalking slaves. Sssneck wanted to use the magical pool under the island for his experiments. She had entered our dreams using that pool and asked for help, but she had not been able to stay hidden for long and was nearly killed getting here. I decided we would have to help them, and Triceracop apparently agreed.
Triceracop and Broke-Horn were able to wade across the water, but both Ziss and I had to swim it. This turned out to be a mistake; though we were lucky not to encounter the lake garuda Tara had warned us about. Once we got to the other side, both Ziss and I felt a bit queasy, not ill just a little disoriented. The water was obviously affected by Sseneck’s magic somehow. The people in the village were a mix of nubari and shu, with a few river tam’hi as well. Those we could see were all wandering about in a trance-like state. They were performing their normal duties, such as eating, but there was always something wrong, such as not having any food in their hands to eat.
Exploring around, we found an entrance into the caverns below the island and followed that. Upon entering the caverns, although we didn’t know it immediate, we also entered some sort of dream state. Our only guide was the parting words Tara had given us telling us to be brave and not let fear lead us astray.
We found ourselves in the jungle again, with a massive pile of snakes blocked our path. Broke-Horn tried to create a bridge over them by knocking over a tree but found that the fallen tree was quickly covered with even more snakes. Tricercop started moving forward, but quickly returned to the group. It was only when we marched straight through them that we were able to proceed.
Next we found ourselves elsewhere in the jungle surrounded by piles of carrion, which caused us to be a bit nauseous. We once again moved forward without hesitation and continued on our quest.
The next area seemed to be in the savannah, and all around us was a blazing torrent of fire. As we watched, some antelope came running past us and lept over the fire and escaped. We figured we wouldn’t need to be as deft on our feet and again tried walking straight through it, receiving some burns for our trouble.
We then found ourselves in a beautiful chamber where a glowing nubari-like being spoke to us. He said he was an Ancient called Sirus, and that he had saved us from the nightmare, but Sseneck’s magic was too powerful, Triceracop would not be able to defeat him and would die if he tried. The rest of us could proceed onward. Triceracop automatically suspected something was up, and soon realized that we were seeing an illusion. With that, the illusion shattered and “Sirus” became Sseneck. We fought him and his henchmen, making good use of Broke-Horn’s sleep and laughter spells.
When combat was over, Tara appeared in the chamber. The spell upon the village had been broken, and we were all hailed as heroes!

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The Soulless Shu
The Year of Gathering Darkness #33

Form the Memories of Ziss
The Tribe of the Simbuki
The Year of Gathering Darkness
“Fortune can, for her pleasure, fools advance, And toss them on the wheels of Chance.”
I had come to the village of the Simbuki on order to witness their induction of a new chief. Apparently, the old chief Wutuka had somehow foreseen his own death, so a new chief had to be chosen. The winner of the honor was an outsider shu called Booda. This was something of a controversial choice for several Simbuki, as proud Shimok or brave Mantikqua were the favored choices for the roll. Still, the shu were an honorable people, and none would speak a word of disrespect against their new chief.
After a night of revelry, in which I met other heroes of the Jungle including The Masked called Broke-Horn, as well as my old comrades Jadescale and Kahulae of the Windy Place. We spoke with several other luminaries of the jungle including Gwalk’maur. The oscray warrior Trunk, and his nubari companion Runk, as well as the impala katanga Yvehc all had come to the tribe as well.Grey Shadow, nubari warrior of the Rudra and honorary member of the Simbuki tribe had brought congratulations from Com’lak chief of the tribe of the Rudra. Sssarita, the conniving snake katanga had come with him.
Several contests were held in order to determine the best eater, the best with the blowgun, bow, and the best at tossing gourds of water. It was rather fun to participate in the celebration. After the festival a great party was held, in which the only thing that seemed to be contested was who could party harder. During the party, we were able to witness little Cenari, and the outsider shu Tweek share a passionate kiss. It was clear that at least one member of Booda’s group would be welcome in the tribe.
In the morning, as visitors left one by one, Tweek spoke with Broke-Horn and expressed concern over a bad dream she had during the night. Broke-Horn wisely told us all about it, but we were unable to figure out the meaning of the dream which featured the village being destoryed in some way. We also found that we couldn’t get in to see the new chief but Urg, his saru friend, wouldn’t let us in to see him.
A few hours later, we watched as chief Wutuka official made Booda the new chief. Before the celebrations could recommence, a massive storm with high winds and lightning suddenly struck the village. Great damage occurred, including the complete destruction of the food storage hut, with all the food inside having been ruined by a flash flood. Worse yet; in spite of the best efforts of Broke-Horn, Jadescale, and I to hold up the stage, or Kahulae’s attempt to get those on it to safety, Wutuka was injured. The old shu’s heart soon gave out.
Booda wasted no time in trying to rally his new people. He sent a group including Kaulae to fish the River of Laughing Idols, a group including Broke-Horn and myself to hunt for game, and a group including Jadescale to remain and help repair the village. Over the next few days each group had its own adventure.
The hunters had to deal with a nasty pair of horn nosed garuda, which they were able to kill and bring back as food. The fishermen had to contend with a water garuda that looked similar to a snake headed thing. Kahulae also killed his. Jadescale was forced to defend the remaining villagers by himself from a small group of dog garuda that attacked the village, which was unusual behavior for the creatures.
When we all reunited, we were told of another disturbing dream from Tweek. The next morning, when we awoke we discovered that the body of Chief Wutuka, which had been awaiting funeral rites, had been stolen in the middle of the night! Booda asked for volunteers to find it, but before we could speak up a few of the shu expressed concern over the spirits seeming disfavor of Booda as the chief. When Mantikqua spoke in favor of Booda, things calmed down. We were given the job to find the body, and went to speak with Booda and the witch doctor Melox.
Melox informed us that he had had a vision of a great enemy behind the recent troubles. He had searched near the village and found evidence of leopard katanga as well as something else that resembled a leopard. His communing with the spirits had told him that the enemy that resembled a leopard could only be hurt by weapons that were blessed. Melox also told us that Chief Wutuka’s soul was missing, and that killing the creature which was the cause of the villiage’s problems was the only way to get it back. He then gave us several blowgun darts, some utilizing shu sleeping potion, others which had been blessed.
We set out immediately, and it wasn’t long before we had the trail of the leopard katanga. Soon we began to hear sounds of singing. As we approached we saw a massive bird the size of a full grown shu sitting in a tree. Both the bird and the tree were singing. We spoke to the odd pair and learned that they had seen the wicked leopard katanga and their ‘not-leopard’ leader earlier. They said that the leader intended to eat Chief Wutuka’s heart in order to gain some sort of power. They also told us the location of the wicked katanga. Kahulae asked if they were some sort of spirit, to which the pair replied with laughter before both flying away.
We soon found the cave where the katanga had been hiding, and dealt with their sentries. Broke-Horn’s sleep spell proved invaluable. In the cave itself, we witnessed a leopard katanga shaman and some strange cat-headed humanoid preparing a ritual to cut open the body of Chief Wutuka. Two leopard katanga guards stood nearby. Once again, Broke-Horn’s sleep spell proved useful. With two of the leopard katanga asleep, the leopard-headed creature swiftly fell to the shu sleeping potion from a blowgun dart. After killing the remaining guard, and dispatching the sleeping guard and shaman, we tried to kill the leopard headed thing in its sleep. It didn’t work. We then remembered that it could only be hurt by blessed weapons, and Jadescale was able to kill it.
When the body was examined, Kahulae found an emerald necklace, which housed the soul of Wutuka. He broke it, freeing the soul. We then gathered the body and headed back to the shu village.
When we returned, we were treated as heroes. Tweek also informed us that she was to marry Cenari, and we were invited to the wedding. Broke-Horn was asked to be the best man, and Jadescale fulfilled maid of honor role in spite of his gender. A slight tremor in the earth during the ceremony was interpreted by Melox as the Spirit of the Earth being pleased. Happy days were in store for the Simbuki!

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Huroola Prophet
The Year of Gathering Darkness #32

From the Memories of Ziss
The Tribe of Big Chief Bagoomba
The Year of Gathering Darkness
“Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.”
Once again, I had been called to see Bengoukee. With me were my hornhead lacerial friend Triceracop, and perhaps the last jungle druid a tam’hi named Sunshiro. We were ushered right into see Bengoukee when we arrived at the village of Big Chief Bagoomba. Bengoukee didn’t waste any time either. He told us that he needed us to investigate the reports that males of the xenophobic Huroola had discovered a powerful seer or prophet. He hoped this could be a new ally for the good people of Malatra in the coming war against Tiger.
He gave us little to go on, but did provide us with some supplies for the trip. Soon we found ourselves heading toward Fire Mountain. While we traveled, another of the frequent earthshakes occurred, and Tricercop sustained a minor injury.
We pressed on, and soon discovered a group of korobokuru who had left the tunnels under Fire Mountain. Sunshiro realized that they must be from the Cantombi tribe, or the Lost Tribe of Fire Mountain as some called it. We helped rescue some of them from the cave in, and tried to convince them it wouldn’t be a good idea to return underground with the earthshakes that occurred every few days. They were adamant about returning to their home though, so we wished them well.
The next day we had a run in with a pair of bigbeak garuda. Thankfully, Sunshiro and I had arrows, and Tricercop’s attacks on the ground were devastating. After defeating them, we began to move into the territory of the Huroola, after first stashing Sunshiro and Triceracop’s weapons.
It didn’t take long before we were surrounded by Huroolan warriors. When we called out to them I saw our ally Alyssa amongst them, as well as the renown hero Freya. Sunshiro also recognized his companion from the Festival of Masks called Face Bones. Their leader was called Sitka, and she questioned us as to why we had entered their territory. She didn’t much like any of us, especially me as they was animosity between lizardfolk and her people; but she at least respected that I was the female and therefore leader of the group. After some discussion, Sitka agreed to have a guide take us (blindfolded) to the village of Taupassin where the oracle was said to reside. Before we left, they warned us that the village was afflicted with some sort of plague.
Along the way we earned a mark of respect when a giant constrictor snake tried to eat one of our guides and Sunshiro stopped it by casting a spell to be its friend. They were not happy about us removing the blindfolds to deal with it though.
In the village of Taupassin, we were able to speak to the village speaker, Kimachi. She was amenable to us helping them find the cause of the mysterious plague, and even showed us one of her kind who had been badly afflicted. Janra, the chief hunter of the village, looked as if all of her muscles had somehow been removed from her body. We also heard from the male speaker, named Sartok, who said that only the powers provided by the prophet could save those infected. When asked, he told us that he would introduce us to the prophet, though it had to be at night. Sunshiro tried to heal the infected people, but to no avail. Meanwhile, I somehow contracted the plague as well.
That night, Sartok led us deep into the jungle. He explained that Tiger was a creature of the daytime, so it will only come out at night in order to hide form Tiger’s allies. When we arrived in a clearing, he told us that the prophet would meet us all individually and alone, since it would not appear to groups. First Triceracop, then Sunshiro, then I ventured forth. It was a mistake in all respects.
The prophet turned out to have taken the form of an old tree, and it tried to kill us. I used fire to try to destroy it. When Sunshiro had recovered from his shock, he used a light spell, which caused the creature some pain. Soon, a spirit seemed to leave the tree and tried to take refuge in a nearby tree. Sartok found us then, and began attacking the evil tree with magic.
Soon the immediate forest was ablaze. This brought several men from the nearby village to investigate. Seeing the fire, and Sartok casting spells, they reached the conclusion that he was burning the forest. One of them used a meat knife to stab him. Sunshiro saved his life, but the damage was done, as Kimichi arrived soon afterward and witnessed the man holding the bloody knife. A few more lucky hits from us, and the evil spirit had been destroyed.
When we all returned to the Huroolan village, we witnessed the man who stabbed Sartok be exiled from the tribe. Bengoukee soon arrived in the form of a large heron. He told us that the creature we had fought was called an Akathasa, it was a servant of Tiger. He acknowledged that we had saved the Huroola, and perhaps all of the jungle from a plot by Tiger, but the cost was deep. In the battle, a member of the tribe had broken their most sacred taboo, and the pact the tribe held with the Jungle was lost. Though there was hope if the Huroola continued to follow their tradition of not letting men wield weapons that the pact could return in a few generations. Bengoukee then performed an ancient ritual for us, one that gave me the Wisdom of the Elephant, gave Triceracop the Heart of the Lion, and Sunshiro the Luck of the Monkey.
We returned to Big Chief Bagoomba’s village, though Sunshiro heard a voice along the way and soon had journeyed into the Jungle alone. He did not return. We hope he has at last found his own people.

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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.

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Venom
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.

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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.

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