Jaroo asked Wolfbang and his friend Chrono, another initiate to take a trip to the southlands and to the Buiyab forest. This was a region known for enormous spiders, spiders that discouraged human settlement near the forest and thus allowed the wilderness to remain wild. Unfortunately (from a druidic perspective) there was a man who seemed likely to significantly alter the natural order. This man was attempting to domesticate the giant spiders, and had achieved considerable success in his unnatural endeavor, having quickly established a “farm.” Wolfgang and Chrono were to investigate and find a non-lethal way to encourage the spider farmer to find another way to make a living.
Traveling with their animal companions, Wolfgang and Chrono enjoyed their journey to the southlands and located the spider farm. They instructed the animals to remain in the woods while they approached the farm as labor-seeking travelers.
As they entered the compound, they saw other laborers struggling to drag a goat to what turned out to be the spider pen—a large trench in the ground covered with a thick lattice and with a gate at each end. The laborers were not welcoming to the newcomers, so Wolfbang and Chrono sought out the low building where they found the owner of the farm, a man named Ulayah. He was a confident and enthusiastic man, eager to dispel the arachnophobia he presumed in his visitors. Wolfbang and Chrono surprised him by asserting that they knew spiders to be as intelligent as humans, claiming to have come from another land across the sea where they had learned the spiders’ language. Ulayah was visibly torn by competing desires to dismiss and embrace these outlandish claims, but his daughter Heri, who seemed more enchanted by these men from “across the sea” than anything they knew about spiders, prevailed upon her father that they should be invited to stay for a meal and to demonstrate their abilities.
On their way to Ulayah’s living quarters, they passed the spiders’ trench where the laborers were still struggling with a goat. Wolfbang and Chrono, reluctant to use their druidic powers to befriend an animal they intended to feed to spiders, tried to wrestle the goat to the ground. While unsuccessful, their embarrassment seemed to give the laborers’ new zeal for the task. One seized the goat in both arms while the other flung open the gate. The goat was cast into the pit and the gate closed. The terrified bleating was soon silenced and all except Ulayah shivered at the successive clicking and sucking sounds of the feeding spiders. Wolfbang found that, with his druid magic, he could indeed talk to one of the spiders. It was still hungry and wanted more food. Ulayah looked particularly juicy, though the “fat sweet one” (presumably Heri) would also suit him. Chrono relayed this to Ulayah who shrugged cavalierly. “Of course, that’s why we keep them in the cages.”
Lunch, in a room festooned with all colors of silk, was agreeably bland and consisted mainly of fried vegetables. Ulayah quizzed the newcomers about their knowledge of spiders, and having satisfied himself that he knew more than them, offered them work. Wolfbang was eager to accept, but Chrono answered with cryptic insults that soon became not very cryptic. “Perhaps you’re tired,” Ulayah suggested, offering them his guest room. Wolfbang and Chrono slept until night. Wolfbang, thinking that his associate might forget the “non-lethal” part of Jaroo’s instructions, suggested that they slip away into the forest and return to Hommelet.
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Friday, June 23, 2017
Bewildered by the undead lizardwoman’s powers and concerned about what it had to tell them about Sakatha’s continued existence, Beatriss and Tetsukichi sought out a quiet place to discuss what they’d experienced, rest, and call on advice from a higher power. On their way back to the upper level of the pyramid, a swarm of bats swooped down on them screeching and scratching. The party followed the bats back to Sakatha’s throne room. Sakatha’s queen was there, but before Ju-Mei could raise his holy symbol, the bats descended on him a special vengeance. The lizardwoman charged at Naron, grabbed him with her claws and sunk her fangs deep into his neck. As Naron started to slip out of consciousness, his companions crowded around with their best weapons. They drove the blood-sucking fiend away from Naron, knocked her down and cut her to pieces. Again, she turned to a gas and the bats dispersed.
With the lizard queen(?) dead, the throne room itself became a seemingly quiet and safe enough place to rest. Ju-Mei and Erlo tended to the wounded. Naron had suffered a strange wound. She had taken something from him that he wouldn’t get back easily. Nevertheless, he was resolved to help Beatriss and the others to destroy Sakatha and his consort.
As Ju-Mei prepared to meditate, Beatriss and Tetsukich discussed what exactly they wanted to know. Was Sakatha gone? Would Sakatha return? Would the Sansar clan now have peace? The answer came from a lower power. A section of the wall slid open and Sakatha himself stepped out. Beatriss ordered the weaker member of the party to the back of the room, but Sakatha summoned a huge billowing cloud of noxious green smoke, cutting off the exits, and forcing the entire party to within striking distance. “Where is my crown?” he demanded, looking them over. Beatriss stepped in front of him, drawing her sword. He seized her and bit her, just as the queen had done to Naron. But even as he began to suck out her blood, Beatriss, drove her sword into his gut, holding him fast. Tetsukichi, Al-Fitar, and Naron surrounded him, stabbing and slashing him on all sides. Raking his claws down Beatriss’s arm, he forced her to drop her sword and turned to face a new opponent. He leapt on Al-Fitar, knocking the powerful warrior to the ground, but didn’t manage to find his way past his sword. Al-Fitar held the blade in front of his neck and forced it lengthwise across the lizard king’s mouth. Betriss and Tetsukichi attacked from the other sides and with a rain of blows, forced the monster back into gaseous form. They entered the secret room and found another coffin. Opening it, they watched Saktha’s wounded body reforming on the fetid mud inside
Suddenly, Ju-Mei knew exactly what to do, and Beatriss followed his instructions. On an ordinary sword, Ju-Mei wrote Sakatha’s name using ink made from dragon’s blood. With this sword, Beatriss cut off the lizard king’s head. Into his mouth she poured holy water and specially-blessed cake. The flesh rotted and shrunk from Sakatha’s skull and then the skull split in two. Likewise, his body disintegrated.
Using a similar procedure, the party went to the queen’s burial chamber and permanently destroyed her. They returned to the throne room once more and discussed whether there was anything else left to do. Bangqiu and Kafka returned to report that, upstairs, water was seeping in under the door. Beatriss wanted to leave, but Bangqiu remember something in a song about Sakatha’s ring and wanted to find it. He asked Naron and Beatriss and some others to take any rings belonging to party members and guard them in another room. With a series of spells, he determined that there was another closer ring behind the throne. Summoning once again the party’s strongest warrirors, Bangqiu asked for the throne to be moved. Still his magic told him that the ring was very close and not in the the throne but in the wall behind. Erlo used his own powers to locate and open the magically-hidden door, and behind it the party found Saktha’s secret treasury: a pile of ancient coins, each much larger and heavier than an imperial tael, and made of gold instead of silver. There was a box filled silk packets containing silvery dust. There was a book of spells. And there was a ring. Bangqiu claimed the book and the ring, while the others filled their backpacks with gold coins.
By the time the party was ready to leave the pyramid, water was flowing down the stairs. Upstairs, the food in the feasting room was rotten and the magical servants were nowhere to be seen. Erlo opened the bronze doors and a small wave of swamp water rushed in , splashing them up to the waist. Outside the pyramid, it was muddy, and the water was ankle-deep. There was a crack in the roof of the cavern; lizardmen were happily cavorting in the water and sunshine. The undead mob were nowhere to be seen. The dry streambed was filling with real water. The acid pools were still there. Ow! The party made their way up the stairs, avoiding the fifth step from the top.
On their way through the former lair of the brigands, there was a surprising and surprisingly cordial reunion between Won Ton and his old friends Shu and Ta-Mi! Visibly relieved about the death of Feng-Bi and sobered by the death of Sick Boy, Won Ton started to apologize about “you know, the silver chi’en” until he noticed the gold bulging from the others’ backpacks. And there is no need to tell anything else about this adventure except that the heroes returned to the main camp of the Sansar clan for feasting and celebration!
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
The throne room was large and nearly empty, with frescoes in the familiar, violent style and at the far end of the hall, a massive throne and a stone table. On the table was an oblong box of reeds and pitch, about nine feet long. Inside the box was Sakatha, an eight-foot tall, massively-built lizardman with long fangs, wearing a crown and gripping a trident. The heroes took a moment to plan their attack—Beatriss, Tetsukichi, Al-Fitar, Naron, Kafka, and the two sohei all surrounded the box, holding the weapons specially-prepared by Kafka. Ju-Mei said a brief chant and at one moment, all the warriors struck their target. The blessed weapons cut Sakatha’s body and it immediately transformed into a green gas that rose into the gloom of the top of the hall and then vanished.
Bangqiu discussed with Kafka who should claim the trident and who should claim the crown while Beatriss and Tetsukichi discussed whether Sakatha was really gone.
Beatriss and Tetsukichi, together with their henchpeople, decided to explore elsewhere, while Bangqiu and co. went to guard against any attack from the temple area or the “feast hall” above.
Immediately off the throne room, Beatriss and Tetsukichi discovered a library filled with sinister-looking books. They were glad that Bangqiu was not with them to be tempted.
Next, they found a circular burial chamber, smelling of swamp rot and death, containing five of the reed-and-pitch coffins—noticeably smaller than the one in the throne room. As Ju-Mei began to chant a prayer of protection, one of the coffins opened and a lizardwoman sprang out, leaping onto Naron with her fangs bared. Ju-Mei sprang forward with his holy symbol and the foul monster turned into a gas. Beatriss was able to track the cloud as it flowed out of the burial chamber and toward the throne room. By the time the party reached the throne room, they found the lizardwoman again in corporeal form, wailing over Sakatha’s empty coffin. “What have you done to my king?” Ju-Mei answered with his holy symbol and again she turned into gas and vanished.