Monday, September 30, 2013

Savage Hyboria Forgotten Islands: Episode 4 "The Tomb of Voltannox" Part 2

 It was around mid day the day after they arrived on this strange island when the party decided to set off to explore the ruins shown on their map and find out what they could about the Tomb of Voltannox.  Dalla and Ahmed had elected to stay behind and guard the camp and the raft while the others trekked through the jungle.  Though they planned to be back by the next day they took extra provisions along in case they were delayed.
 As they were about to set out a lone Argossean warrior stumbled into the village.  Fearing he might be a scout for a larger force they party formed up and drew their weapons.  The Argossean  threw down his weapons and surrendered.  The man was so exhausted he nearly collapsed.  Alenna broke ranks and rushed to his side.  "Quickly!" she said "If we don't help this man he may die soon!".  They made a place for the man to rest inside their shelter and brought him food and fresh water.  Alenna tended to the man using her healing skills to aid him.  The rest of the party help Alenna fetch things to make the man more comfortable or to help her tend to him.  Heimdall even cleaned and repaired the mans clothing and equipment.  The Argossean slept for several hours until it was almost dark.  When he awoke he told the party that he was a member of Captain Melampos's expedition.  "I hoped to find Captain Melampos here with our ship or at least some friendly villagers who might be able to aid me.  We were lucky when we landed here that these natives were friendly and open to trade.  They did however warn us that we should not go into the ruins.  If only we had heeded their words we might have..." He trailed off.  "What are you called man?" asked Heimdall.  "They call me Racket.  Or at least that is what they call me here."  the man answered.  The man then related a tale very similar to the account written by Captain Melampos.  He also mentioned that he was the one who picked the locks that allowed them to enter the tomb.  "We seek this tomb as well and we could use someone who knows how to get in.  Will you help us?" asked Heimdall.  "I would not wish to go back to that place for all the crowns of the world" the man answered "But I doubt that is going to dissuade you from going and seeing as how you and your friends are likely my only way off this island I will help you.  However I must tell you.  I have been wandering around the jungle for weeks trying to find my way back here and I have completely forgotten where the tomb lies.  We will have to travel to those accursed ruins again and that will not be easy".  "Very well we will leave in the morning" said Heimdall.  
 They followed a clearly marked trail out of the village into the jungle and in no time came across a river.  It was clear that there had been a bridge at this point at one time but it was long gone.  "I think there was a ford a bit further north" Racket said.  A large crocodile sunned itself on the opposite bank.  Rozlynn looked into the murky river water.  "It's so dark" she said "Almost like a mirror".  Heimdall saw movement in the water just in front of them.  Instinctively he pulled his fellow AEsir back from the shore just as a massive crocodile burst from the water and snapped at her.  At the same moment the crocodile on the opposite bank slid it's massive bulk into the water.  Rozlynn regained her composure and brought her massive blade down in a sweeping arc.  It connected but could not penetrate the creatures armored hide.  Still the creature was dazed for a moment but only a moment.  With another lung it clamped it's powerful jaws onto the AEsir woman's leg.  Blood gushed from the wound and Roxlynn almost fainted from the pain and blood loss but with supreme effort she stayed on her feet.  Mon Tau raised his bow and aimed at the swimming beast.  He knew it would be a tough shot since the creature was mostly submerged and swimming quickly.  His first shot struck the creatures left foreleg and although it slowed the animal it did not stop it.  His next shot however stopped the beast cold.  The arrow entered the creatures right eye socket and continued into it's brain pan.  The massive beast rolled on it's back as it floated down the river.  Heimdall brought his blade down on the one still clamped to Rozlynn's leg.  Again his blow could not penetrate the creatures hide but it was hard enough to stun the beast which released it's vice like grip on the woman's leg.  The beast opened it's mouth again to snap at Heimdall but Racket stepped beside the northman and dispatched it with a quick spear thrust.
Alenna tended to Rozlynn's wounds and after they rested for a while they continued north along the bank.      
 When they reached the ford they noticed the tracks of several creatures along the bank.  Again they saw crocodiles on the opposite shore but they were prepared for the ones lurking below the surface.  These beast were much more aggressive however and the three on the opposite bank immediately jumped into the water and began swimming towards them.  Proving his Hyrkanian skill Mon Tau killed one of the beast before it made it across.  Four of the creatures remained and they attacked the party.  Although the powerful creatures attacked relentlessly they were all dispatched in short order with no further injury.
The ford would allow them to cross most of the river but they would have to swim a little to reach the opposite bank.  As none of them were good at swimming Heimdall took out his rope With the rest of the party holding the other end he was able to make it to shore and tie the rope off on some heavy brush.  Aziz tied the other end about his waist and the party used the rope to get through the swift current.  Alenna was the last to attempt to cross before Aziz but as she was making her way her hands slipped and she immediately went under in the deepest part of the current.  "My lady!" Aziz screamed as he jumped into the water after her.  Aziz managed to grab Alenna and the rest of the party pulled them to safety.    
 Again they headed down they path which was now becoming more and more overgrown.  They had not gone far when when Roxlynn said "Something is comming!".  A dozen large rodents and two giant rats charged at them through the brush.  The giant rats had strangely glowing green eyes.  Surrounded the party pulled itself into a defensive circle as the animals charged them.
 For the most part the rats were easily dispatched by the party although it took some time to kill all the creatures.  Some of the party received minor injuries for being knocked over by the swarm of rats. One of the giants however put up a hard fight.  Again Rozlynn was wounded by the creature but finally four of the party were able to bring it down.

Several hours passed as the party cut it's way through the dense jungle.  The AEsir led the way cutting a path for the rest of the party to follow.  Twice they had to stop and rest when Aziz and Racket became fatigued.  It was late afternoon when they could eventually make out some of the taller towers which stuck up higher than the rest of the ruins.  "With any luck we will be there before dark" Heimdall explained.  
 Suddenly Rozlynn saw movement from the corner of her eye.  She looked to see a large black cat stalking them just a few yards away.  Then she saw another approaching them.  "Panthers!" she cried.  At that moment two hidden creatures pounced from the bushes.  Raka was knocked off her feet by a charging cat but her quick reflexes saved her as she was able to put her shield up just in time.  Another cat had pounced at Racket but he managed to step deftly aside to avoid it's charge.  From behind them they heard an unnaturally loud growl.  Charging out of the brush was a panther as large as a lion with oddly glowing green eyes that reminded them of the giant rats they had encountered earlier.
 Mon Tau killed one of the beast with an well placed arrow.  Rozlynn dispatched another with a devastating blow from her great scimitar that cut the animal in half.  Heimdall killed one of the cats with a mighty buffed from the pommel of his blade and then stepped to intercept the giant.  One of the cats knocked Aziz to the ground but Alenna ran the creature through saving the man who had saved her from drowning earlier that day.  The massive cat was all that remained.  Even surrounded by the whole party the beast was difficult to slay.  It dodged blow after blow and countered with vicious attacks of it's own.  Eventually the beast was brought down after a hard fight.  Fortunately no one in the party was seriously hurt during the attack.  
 The party pressed on and reached the edge of the ruins just before dark.  The ground was paved with large flagstones littered with dead fall.  Many of the dark stone buildings were crumbling and most were being overtaken slowly by jungle growth.  The party had only just entered the ruins when they saw a large group of ghouls charging them.
"Shieldwall!" Heimdall cried.  As the party drew itself into a fighting formation Rozlynn and Racket killed shot two of the creatures down.  Mon Tau killed another two with his accurate fire.  Heimdall hurled one of his belt axes into the crowd and felled another but still they came.  
 A moment later the rest of the foul creatures slammed against the party's shields.  Mon Tau continued to rain death on the undead beast who fought with an insane fury.  One of the creatures lashed out with it's clawed hand and slashed Racket in his upper arm.  Though the blow was not lethal the Argossean fell to the pavement paralyzed.  Rozlynn was stunned by a nasty backhand from one of the beast.  
 Despite their ferocious attacks the party began to beat the twisted fiends back.  Several more were killed by blade and arrow but this did nothing to abate their unnatural blood lust.
Rozlynn regained her sense and rejoined the fighting but one of the creatures slashed at Raka slicing the Vendhyan woman across her mid section with an apparently mortal wound.  Raka's eyes rolled back in her head and she fell to the ground bleeding profusely.  Alenna rushed to her comrades side even as the battle continued around them.  The rest of the ghouls will killed quickly as Alenna worked to save Raka's life.  With her skill she was able to save the woman but it was clear that Raka was still badly injured.
Heimdall found a small building that still had an intact roof.  "We should take shelter here and wait till day to continue" he said.  
With a solid roof over their heads the party settled in for the night.  Alenna continued to attend to Raka until she could do no more to help her.  At the moment they felt secure in the small stone building but they could hear strange cries as night fell.  They had survived the jungle but would they survive the ruins?

To be continued......

Notes:  Well no matter how hard you try or how well you plan you just can't do much when the party had a run of good luck.  The players scored many critical hits and frequently did massive amounts of damage even sometimes killing my wild cards with a single blow.  Still they did not come through completely unscathed.  Raka and Rozlynn both suffered some serious wounds throughout the journey and the entire party got to see how nasty the ghouls could be.  All in all I think they are in a good position but they still have quite a few dangers to face before they even reach the tomb.     

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