Session 57: Peril at the Gorge [Mar 30th, 2023]
The heroes and the travelling caravan of the Historical Society push through the jungles northeast of Viana, following Catamark’s sketched map towards the lost city of Sava-Xi. Based on the map, they decide to approach the city from the northwest, where they can follow a stream the flows down from the valley’s basin walls. After a few days of travel, they reach a small waterfall that signals they have arrived.
Lox and Ash’ryx scout the area and Lox is able to determine that there is an ancient path up the side of the hill into the basin valley beyond, however, it is overgrown and choked with vegetation. The caravan will have to spend some time, probably days, clearing the path so that the carts and pack animals can bring their supplies up into over the basin ridge into the valley.
Amivor asks Catamark to lead an expedition into the valley and scout out the area, with the hope of finding a good place for a basecamp. So, Catamark, Lox, Ash’ryx, Thruk, Fergus, and Dodak are sent up through the dangerous path to scout there way into the ancient city. They all manage to make it through the heavy vegetation. On the high side of the cliff, they find an ancient rope bridge spanning over a gorge where the stream flows to the waterfall. At the bottom, there is a series of connected bridges providing an alternate route, with trails leading down and back up the other side.
The adventurers decide to take the upper route, with Catamark leading the way across the bridge after he determines that it is structurally sound. However, as they clamor out across the bridge, the sound of loud squawks fill the air as three large pteranodons fly down to hunt them. Catamark pulls back after being bitten and Thurk and Kalinda charge in to fight them. However, Lox the throws an explosive fireball that harms the pteranodons, but also burns the bridge. It collapses as the middle is scorched out.
Thurk manages to hold the bridge as he slams into the side of the cliff. Kalinda, however, falls down to the river below, but thankfully manages to dive into the water without harm. As she climbs up out of the river, four large crocodiles appear to snap at her. Thurk manages to climb up to the others as the pteranodons peck and bite at the adventurers. Lox goes down from a nasty bite as the others blast the pteranodons. Thurk finishes off the remaining two pteranodons, but the third grabs Lox and flies away to its nest.
Fergus summons a dagger of Weeja to strike the fleeing pteranodon as Catamark fires at it with his bow. The creature reaches its nearby nest and begins to tear Lox apart to feed to its young. Meanwhile, Kalinda gets away from the crocodiles, who all drop into the water, finding the ghostly Kalinda did not taste well. Ash’ryx charges down the gorge, leaping from bridge to bridge, and begins to come up the other side. Catamark lands a deadly shot on the pteranodon, felling it as Ash’ryx reaches the nest and is able to kill the young pteranodons that want to eat Lox. The others quickly cross the gorge and they are able to revive Lox and tend all their wounds.
The adventurers continue through the hills coming down into the massive basin valley where they get a true glimpse of the majesty that is Sava-Xi. The city sprawls before them with its seven ziggurats and the seven spear-like spires rising from them. The grand lake sits at the center of the valley with numerous bridges connecting parts of the city.
They head down the valley’s sides towards three crystal blue pools and some ruined buildings, looking for a place to rest for the night. Ash’ryx creates a comfortable camp in one of the buildings and they rest. In the middle of the night, Kalinda and Fergus hear the sound of undead bodies shuffling towards them…
Session 58: The Ghostly Half-Orc [Apr 13th, 2023]
Kalinda and Fergus try to defend themselves as the walking dead shuffle towards them, blocking their escape. Meanwhile, a ghostly form of a half-orc, gnarled by some foul death, floats into the ruin and summons forth hordes of ghostly ants to bite at the sleeping heroes. They all awake with a start, but Dodak and Ash’ryx are able to avoid injury.
Ash’ryx and Catamark try to deal with the ghost while Thurk pushes and shoves his way outside to help Fergus escape the onslaught of the dead. Thurk holds the door as Fergus and Kalinda shuffle past him. Lox then joins to help, summon an explosion of coral to cut and stab into the shuffling zombies. The ghost nearly kills Catamark, sucking his life force away. Ash’ryx responds with blast of searing cold, but it has little effect on the ghost. Dodak moves in, stealing healing elixirs from an enraged Ash’ryx’s belt to revive Catamark.
Lox then summons a wall of fire to immolate the zombies and burn them away as Thurk holds them back. The heroes then focus on the ghost, who has now downed Dodak. Catamark blasts it repeatedly with his magical decanter, but it only returns angrier and nearly kills him again. Fergus revives Catamark as Thurk tries to communicate with the ghost and only learns that is enraged about its name. It’s mangled clothing suggest it was a member of a Historical Society expedition at one time.
A few more well-placed attacks by Ash’ryx and Thurk weaken it for Lox to blast it back into the ethereal plane. The heroes treat their wounds and try to get some sleep before morning, eager to leave this haunted section of Sava-Xi.
Session 59: The Charau-ka Warband [Apr 13th, 2023]
The adventurers begin to pack up their belongings and search around the ruined buildings. Ashr’yx finds an old haversack with a ruined journal inside. It confirms that the half-orc ghost was a member of the previous Historical Society expedition, though they must have found him along the way. It seems that the dwarf Bracken, Flax’s brother, was among them. But it is likely that they met an ill fate and became the zombies they had defeated that night.
The adventurers set out to explore the glistening city before the afternoon rains begin. They head east and climb up a beautiful set of marble stairs that lead to a circular plaza ringed with tall ornate columns depicting spears and helmets. AS they reach the top of the plaza, they hear a group of humanoids marching towards them. They rush to hide behind the wide columns, but they are spotted. Lox steps out to find eight very-disciplined charau-ka warriors marching towards him in perfect formation. Lox tries to speak with them to make peace, but they all growl at him in unison and charge to attack.
Kalinda and Catamark rush out to help Lox. The charau-ka charge in slicing at Lox. The sorcerer simply summons a great wall of fire between himself and the apemen, but also separating Kalinda from the others. Thurk and Catamark attack the charau-ka, trying to keep them from coming through the flaming wall. Ashr’yx, Kalinda, and Fergus hold off the northern end of the wall. Soon the heroes are able to take out the charau-ka, although one of them manages to flee down the road, deeper into the city ruins.
The adventurers examine the dead charau-kas’ gear and find it of finer quality than the apemen of Tazion. They also depict a white ape symbol. Realzing that they might have accidentily made a new enemy, the heroes decide to be more cautious. Catamark and Dodak examine the plaza for any archeological discoveries, as Ashr’yx scouts ahead on her own. She finds a great charau-ka fortress on a tall hill to the northeast and a great ziggurat on the island at the center of the lake to the southeast. A few crumbled bridges seem to connect to the center island.
The heroes move out together after finding no major discoveries. They head south and west into the mercantile district of the ancient city. They pass some ancient fisheries and then come across some defensible sections higher on the western hill. They then enter the merchant district where they pass an old warehouse that has numerous simian (likely charau-ka) skeletons and skulls around it. Whatever lives there might be at war with the charau-ka.
The heroes then head towards the massive ziggurat, seeing its golden top to depict piles of golden treasures surrounded by murals and carvings of merchants and trade. The afternoon rains begin to pour upon them, concealing their view with rainy fog. As they approach the steps of the ziggurat, a couple large bear-like creatures step out of the shadows. They have the heads of eagles and begin to scream a deadly warcry.
Session 60: The Mercantile Ziggurat [May 25th, 2023]
The adventurers prepare themselves as the viscous pack of eagle-bears attack. Thurk charges in to hold the line as the others prepare to follow. However, one of the eaglebears charges at Thurk, screaming a deafening screech that sends chills and fear into the heroes. Ash’ryx is overcome by this fear and flees down the street. Fergus summons a zombie eaglebear to fight for him as Catamark and Thurk make deadly strikes.
Lox then moves in and summons a great wall of fire that scorches the creatures and sends them scurrying away. They seem to have come around the side of the flaming wall, up the ziggurat. Fergus sends in his zombie eaglebear and has it explode with magical fire. This sends the remaining eaglebear running away.
With the beasts defeated, the heroes climb to the top of the ziggurat and tend their wounds. They look out and see the glory of the mercantile district around them and parts of the other districts in the distance. They decide to explore the area around the ziggurat. While exploring, they get a glimpse of a man running, soon followed by two eaglebears. After some debate, Ash’ryx, Lox, and Catamark sneak ahead through the streets to follow the action. They find the man has successfully felled the beasts, although he has taken some wounds.
The man appears to be a Selicean pirate. He spots Ash’ryx and eventually introduces himself as Sarjo Kendeh, a member of the Fire Island pirates. He eventually tells them that he and his mates followed the Historical Societies caravan and snuck into the city early today. Two friends were killed by the eaglebears, but he says the other pirates are creating a basecamp. The heroes suggest a truce for trade between their two factions and Sarjo agrees to pass the message on to his superiors.
Sarjo takes off and the heroes continue to explore the mercantile district. At one point, Dodak nearly falls into a sinkhole, but catches himself. Evening then falls upon the heroes and the decide to get some rest at the top of the ziggurat. The night passes uneventful, but just before dawn, during Lox’s watch, he spots something. It appears like a shadow darker than the night and it is suddenly upon him, a massive black bat that grabs him.
Session 61: Night Bats! [Jun 8th, 2023]
Lox desperately tries to free himself from the grasp of the demonic night bat. He then manages to release a powerful spell that summons forth sharp and deadly coral to strike up into the bats nearby. His loud screams of help awaken his companions, but they cannot get to Lox before the demonic bat flies high into the dark sky with Lox clutched in his grasp. The creature then flings Lox out into the night air.
Lox falls through the sky and slams into one of the broken Xaya buildings. Thankfully, the ceiling and floors of the dilapidated structure absorb his fall and the weakened Lox survives as he crashed to the bottom floor of the building. Meanwhile, Thurk swings his hammer at the bats as Catamark makes a few slices with his rapier. He holds aloft his lantern to guide his allies. Ash’ryx and Kalinda fights the demonic bat, but soon decide they must flee if they want to survive. Kalinda is struck by the bat’s fangs and is infected with a virulent venom.
The heroes flee down the side of the ziggurat as the bat’s fly around and stalk them. Thurk stays behind to fight them off as his allies escape. He hits one of the bat’s so hard, it chooses to flee the scene. When Fergus reaches the bottom of the stairs, Kalinda is struck again by a deadly blow and she vaporizes into a cloud of mist. Fergus winces in pain as their shared, soul-bound energy causes him to collapse as blood oozes from his nose. Ash’ryx picks Fergus up and with Dodak’s help, rushes into a nearby building for safety. Catamark follows soon after, then Thurk shortly after that.
Meanwhile, Lox, finding himself in complete darkness in a broken building, decides to turn himself into a small lizard. He then scurries around the base of the ziggurat, following his friends and joining them in the safety of the broken building before returning to his true form.
The heroes spend some time to treat their wounds and wait an hour before venturing out, finding that the bat’s have left. They find that their equipment at the top of the ziggurat has been rummaged through and a few items are missing. They suspect that the demonic bat took the items to its lair in the nearby sinkhole cavern.
They heroes find another building to rest in until morning. They then return to the ziggurat and are deciding whether to march down into the bat cave to confront the demon bat and recover their gear. They might even find stolen Xaya artifacts in the beast’s nest.
Session 62: Basecamp Established [Jun 22nd, 2023]
The heroes look down upon the sinkhole, 30 feet deep into the earth where the cavern of the night bats connects. After much debate, they decide to head down and check it out. Catamark sets up his climbing equipment and everyone is able to slide there way down into the hole. They then prepare their weapons to move forward. Catamark summons the light of his magical lantern as Lox lights up a torch.
They begin to head into the lightless caverns, hearing the dripping water from above falling into the cavern. It seems quite deep and Thurk finds evidence that the night bats have certainly come through the tight corridors. After some more debate, the others are able to convince Thurk to leave his sacred war drum behind for the moment, promising to return at a later time. The heroes return to the surface and begin exploring the region.
They head north and slightly east through the edge of the Mercantile District where they spot a small herd of small brocket deer get attacked by a massive crocodile that eats two of them on one swift chomp. The creature returns to the depths of the swampy waters. The heroes then head to the top of a hill, where they spot the Pirates of the Fire Islands making a basecamp near the old fisheries.
The heroes slink off to the northeast to avoid them and come across a very defensible old fortress on a hill over a small ruined village. They search along the river for signs of the Historical Society expedition, but there are none. They spend the rest of the day exploring the fortress and learning about it.
They learn that the fortress was once an abbey of sorts with warrior rain priests dedicated to the Skyfather, Abalassi. The deity of sky and rain is still a major deity of the Selicean tribes today. They also find a strange mural that is far more recent that depicts a beautiful woman with the tail of snake instead of legs and large feather wings. She seems almost angelic in the depiction. As they explore parts of the village, they find another angelic depiction of this strange woman creature.
The heroes then rest for the night in their new fortress basecamp. The next morning, they spot the Historical Society expedition arriving to the valley. They greet Amivor and update him on their progress. They spend the rest of the day helping the others make basecamp in the old fortress. The next morning, the heroes decide to set out and explore the building with the simian skulls out front. Dodak stays with the others at basecamp.
On their way out, they run into Aerys Mavato, the half-elven pirate. She is sad to hear about the death of the others from Smuggler’s Shiv, but promises Lox she will arrange a meeting with her leader, Captain Lewynn. She doesn’t know if their two groups will be allies, but they certainly won’t be enemies.
The heroes continue to the ancient warehouse surrounded by skulls. Ash’ryx listens at the darkened door and hears someone or something inside. Thurk, Kalinda, and Lox use indivisibility magic to sneak inside, where they find numerous strange humanoids with bows drawn. They regroup outside and Lox identifies them as the Kech, dangerous and vile ambush hunters known to slaughter Selicean tribespeople in their sleep. They decide to charge in with Lox launching a fireball at them. Battle breaks out as the heroes prepare to charge in.
Session 63: The Raid on the Kech Camp [Jul 6th, 2023]
The heroes stand outside the ruined building, standing near the simian skulls on pikes as they prepare to charge into the kech camp. They know that the kech are ambush hunters that show no quarter to their enemies. However, as they prepare to rush in, three kech archers appear in the broken windows across the street and begin to fire down at them. Lox and Ash’ryx are pelted by the projectiles.
Catamark and Thurk rush into the building as Fergus summons a flaming corpse to assist them inside. However, inside the building the kech are ready on high platforms and fire down at the heroes as they enter, landing arrows in them. Some of the kech then climb down, slicing away at them with their crude blades. Ash’ryx rushes inside to help. Meanwhile, Lox summons a wall of fire upon the kech up in the building above them and Kalinda rushes to the building’s doorway.
Some of the kech are taken out, but they keep pushing their attack. Lox goes down from too many arrows and soon Ash’ryx goes down from enemy attacks inside the building. Catamark is forced to flee, but is taken out by an arrow. Thurk is nearly taken out by the remaining kech, but his orcish instincts keep him standing.
Fergus then rushes in the building, and begins reviving Catamark and Ash’ryx. Kalinda continues to hold the doorway on the other side of the street, keeping the kech on her. The others manage to take out the remaining kech and help Kalinda hunt down the final three.
After the deadly battle, the heroes treat their wounds and explore the kech’s den. They only find a few golden idols in the kech’s camp, but otherwise mostly primitive tools. They return to the Historical Society camp and rest of for the night.
Session 64: Allies and the Skeletal Crocodiles [Aug 17th, 2023]
The heroes charge out into the bright day of Sava-Xi, eager to set their mark upon the ancient city. After some discussion, they speak with Amivor about a possible alliance with the Pirates of the Fire Islands. He agrees on a non-aggression and mutual defense pact, but assumes they will not be willing to share any artifacts or valuable treasures. The heroes then head over to speak with the pirates, where they meet their captain, Kassata Lewynn.
She’s a foreboding leader with an intense demeanor and doesn’t seem to have the patience for flattery or charm. Lox and Catamark discuss the possible mutual defense pact, and she eventually agrees. If either group sees the other in trouble, they will come to their defense. Lox also makes some suggestions that they could smooth out their relationship with the Viana government, but she is skeptical, as they are clear enemies.
The heroes then decide to head east towards the old fishery. They explore the vegetation-covered canals and ruined buildings. They find quite a number of animal corpses littering the area, some are relatively fresh. Whatever killed the animals did not eat them. Lox determines that it was something with very large teeth.
The heroes are then assaulted by a giant skeletal crocodile. It leaps at them to strike. Two more join the first and the heroes find themselves surrounded. Thurk and Catamark bravely leap into action to fight. Lox summons a wall of flames to engulf two of the beasts, to little effect. Ashr’yx volleys a javelin at one before charging in. Fergus blast a beast as Kalinda charges in to fight.
The skeletal crocodiles, however, prove to be deadly foes, chomping at them with deadly bites. Kalinda is nearly torn apart and dissipates into vapor, leaving Fergus unconscious upon the ground as their soul-connection is damaged. Thurk finds himself trapped in the jaws of one of them, urging his allies to flee to safety. Lox rushes in to restore Fergus to his feet before fleeing with Catamark. Fergus and Ash’ryx join them, follow Dodak to safety. Thurk manages to break free and magically propels himself away from the monsters. The heroes eventually escape.
The heroes treat their wounds and stop by the pirate camp to inform them of the danger. They then return to the Historical Society camp to rest for an hour and get treated by the camp’s healers. They then head out again, deciding to seek out the shadowed manor on a small island near the Merchant Ziggurat. As they arrive, they find the building hauntingly muted in color and absent of the viral vegetation that covers the other ruins. What could they find inside?
Session 65: The Tower of Shadows [Sep 14th, 2023]
The heroes spend much time deciding on a way to reach the tower, without swimming in the questionable waters. Catamark then pulls out his grappling hook and has Ash’ryx expertly throw it to the tower’s balcony. It catches perfectly, even looping upon itself. With the taut rope set, Lox transforms into a cricket and scrambles to the other side of the rope. Kalinda climbs along it, following him. Next Ash’ryx attempts to cross, but then a giant shark leaps out of the water and grazes her with its sharp teeth.
Ash’ryx reflexively retaliates and slashes the head of the shark as others blast it with spells, felling it. However, another shark appears snapping at the dangling Ash’ryx. She climbs to the tower balcony as the others scare off the shark. Eventually, everyone is able to cross the rope to the balcony of the tower. Ash’ryx attempts to save the carcass of the dead shark, but finds its meat could likely be poisonous.
The heroes then enter the foreboding tower, finding it dark and filled with shadows from Catamark’s glowing lantern. Catamark suspects, based on the architecture, that this place might have been a vault or bank of some kind. They head deep inside where they find a large centerpiece fountain or statue, long dry and covered in dust. They uncover a story within the statue’s mural, showing the coming of the Xaya to the area, defeating the serpentfolk, and the great Sava, founder of the city, standing high over many decapitated serpentfolk heads. They also find statues depicting animalistic forms of Hatsi-Enib the Earthmother and Abalassi the Skyfather, the primary deities of the ancient Xaya.
In one room, they find a smooth and clean basin, that was once used for counting coin. An ancient inscription mentions the blessings of the gods for fairness and truth. The heroes then head to the adjourning room, which seems to be an office of some kind. Catamark then detects a faint magical presence in the stone desk nearby. However, as she reaches for it, Fergus gives a yelp as a shadowy hand reaches into him with a cold, dark energy. It then rips away at his shadow, trying to tear it away from him.
The others scramble to fight, looking for the shadowy form. Soon the creature emerges from the floor as an incorporeal being of pure shadow and darkness. It slashes at the heroes, attempting to rip their own shadows from their bodies. They are able to eventually defeat the shadow, but soon find many more floating into the room with a hungry thirst in their cold glowing eyes. Lox blasts one with an explosion of light, but it doesn’t slow their arrival.
A battle ensues as the heroes realize they are surrounded by the shadowy forms…