Call to Arms, Chapter 4 - Revelations
From Goblin Group
Bringing out the Dead!
After discovering and exploring the ravaged human native hamlet, Platoon Orange spends its first night in the jungle bringing out the dead. Collecting the corpses and attempting to burn them on a pyre proves exceedingly difficult. The grotesque work is literally revolting, as the bodies have become infested with maggots, worms and creepy crawlies. Carrion eating birds hover about as well, tearing at the rotten flesh. Bite marks and rent flesh also suggest that much bigger animals have feasted on these cadavers recently. When you move the corpses, terrible, nauseous gasses belch into the night air, turning your stomachs more than once.
After several failed attempts to burn the bodies, you realize that a large and very hot fire is required. Where are Adbar’s forges when you need them? Even with a bonfire ablaze, the process is slow and almost as horrid as moving the bodies. First the fire dries the leather clothing, then the skin, the fat, the innards and finally the bones – each layer burning one at a time. Eyeballs not already plucked by the jungle’s creatures burst violently in the fire. And the stink is awful.
By dawn, the grizzly task is done, leaving the entire party completely exhausted! As the twin suns begin to rise, so too does the temperature. This plan of yours—to sleep during the day and explore at night—is starting to seem very clever indeed. Finding sustenance is not a problem in this village. You discover a village well nearby, which offers cool, fresh water. Many tasty domesticated animals—pigs, goats, chickens and dogs—still wander about the village gardens, which also offer an abundance of fruits and vegetables. One of the huts you found is full of dried fish and several huge jugs of banana wine.
With a little work, you manage to right and fix up one of the large, toppled huts lined with hammocks, set a watch and bunk down for the day – sleeping while the heat roasts this savage land.
As the suns begin to set, the party feasts on a pig and then ventures south, following the faithful trail for several leagues before discovering a second, much smaller, deserted sea-side settlement. Here you find little of interest save for signs of recent skirmishes and a small trail that leads you to an abandoned pier.
Here you discover a seaside hut filled with materials and primitive tools (hatchets, hammers, a two-man saw, smoothing stones and leather-making materials) for small boat-making. Nearby, steps lead you down to the water where you see a small rowboat rocking in the ocean; it hardly looks stout enough to endure the high waters of the sea.
Now late in the evening, the platoon pushes on eventually discovering another abandoned village several leagues further south along the meandering trail. This human settlement looks much like the last, though barely touched by conflict. Here you find one very notable hut, what appears to be a shamanic apothecary.
Carcasses and skulls dangle from the ceiling. Weird fetishes stand along one wall, staring vacantly upward. Bowls, shells, cups and vials rest helter skelter along tables and the floor. The room smells of witchcraft and is full of weird roots, strange powders and suspicious stews. Amid the many strange concoctions, you find a locked trunk, which Hákon dutifully unlocks, containing three potions.
Pushing on and convinced now that you will find human survivors, you follow the trail along the rugged coastline. As ferocious waves smash down on the rocks, you take in the seemingly endless expanse of uninterrupted ocean as you march.
At last, you arrive at the outcropping of the peninsula beyond the wall and what appears to be the last of these human villages. Preparing yourself for more of the same, you are not the least bit surprised to find another collection of now-familiar palm-thatched huts perched on the sea cliffs. Searching through the huts of this wind-swept settlement, you chance upon a large house of hammocks. Sure enough, the hunt is occupied by several native humans!
There are five very elderly tribesmen in this room and one young man, who is severely injured and unconscious. Several other bodies of wounded warriors appear to be rotting in hammocks in this room! The place reeks of death. One elderly woman, half bald, gap-toothed and hunch-backed, stands up feebly, her hands shaking with a severe palsy. It is clear that this old woman has never seen a dwarf. Her one good eye (the other dimmed by a thick cataract) widens with amazement. Her jaw drops. Then she speaks – her old voice craggled and hoarse from age.
Bottah, bottah, scurah ten!
The party swings into action, promptly laying down arms, healing the young warrior and tending to the elder humans. The platoon’s ministrations are welcome and a palaver ensues. After hours of often frustrating attempts at conversation, the heroes manage to unravel the mysterious tongue--a very primitive form of common, though barely distinguishable and morphed by age and isolation—and an even more remarkable story. The matriarch Mata and the warrior Trak share their story.
The Sad Story of the Henua
These humans call themselves the Henua. Their land – their world – is a giant island, surrounded by endless seas in all directions. It is full of jungles, swamps and mountains, including some volcanoes. They worship the spirits of the jungle, stone and sea.
According to their legends, their ancestors came here eons ago on giant boats that sank. It was these clever ancestors who built the great wall to protect them from peril, for many wicked beasts and great monsters live on their island and will gladly eat them. The Henua also believe these ancestors built another stone city in the north of the mountain, beyond the mountains.
Years ago, when Mata was just a small girl, cruel white men landed on their island. They came on a huge boat and were welcome as their ancestors. These wicked white men murdered, took their sacred black pearls and stole women before sailing off. They left only death and a terrible, incurable coughing pox. Many Henua died from that pox.
The Henua are now plagued by evil and cunning lizard folk. Until recent years, these lizard men lived in the north and always kept to themselves. First the hunting parties who went beyond the gate began to go missing. Then the lizard folk began raiding Tanaroa, the great village, stealing children in the night. The lizards can scale heights like the great wall very easily, quietly, without detection. They show no mercy and feast on man flesh.
The Henua were once a strong people – numbering in the many thousands. At last count, they were only 111 left. After a last great battle, J’kal, the great mother, split the survivors into small bands and told them to hide in areas around the island. They took what they could carry, left the old, sick and wounded behind, and vanished into the bush!
Now weeping as she finishes this terrible tale, the Matriarch Mata holds her hands up to you. With a plaintiff wail, she begs you to help her people. Please find her lost tribesmen. Please vanquish the evil lizard men. For too long have they suffered. She insists that you are agents of the great divine spirit, sent to this island to help the Henua!
You agree to help and Trak agrees to help guide you into the jungle.
All this talk bores Guroth the barbarian, who opts to patrol the area with his faithful pig. Unfortunately, during his pre-dawn stroll, he chances upon a ferocious tiger.
Appreciating a fragrant treat when she sees one, the tigress pounces on the hapless dwarf. In the short, brutal melee that follows, the Orange Platoon dispatches the large cat – but very nearly loses one or two of the fellowship in the fray. Dawn arrives. You have survived your second night on the island!
Party treasure (indicates who is currently in possession): Headband of Hardiness +1 AC (Brogar); Heirloom Native Spear +1 (Finonian); 1 Trident (Dredmor); 1 Potion of Healing (Borg); 2 Potions of Heroism (Borg); Crude tools (Guroth).
Encounter experience: 850 xp total per character (Tiger 250 + Discovery 300 + Diplomacy 250 + Lock picking 50 = 850 xp). NPC characters receive half-lots.
Borg: 1,400 + 850 xp = 2250 xp to date – Level Up!
Brodar: 1,400 + 850 xp = 2250 xp to date – Level Up!
Dredmor: 1050 + 425 xp = 1475 xp to date
Finonian: 1,400 + 850 xp = 2250 xp to date – Level Up!
Groinn: 1,400 + 850 xp = 2250 xp to date – Level Up!
Guroth: 1050 + 850 xp = 2000 xp to date – Level Up!
Hákon: 950 + 425 xp = 1375 xp to date
Trevin: 950 + 850 xp = 1800 xp to date
Xi: 1,400 + 850 xp = 2250 xp to date – Level Up!
Characters advance to level 2 at 2000 xp and level 3 at 5000 xp.
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