It takes Two: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 8

63 days to go, continued

We came into an new hall, with four animal head statues: a bison, a coyote, a bear, and an eagle. The eagle had something in its beak. We felt like we needed to sleep, so we went back to the room with the pool, but our sleep was interrupted by giant frogs that came out of the water. After dealing with them, we headed instead to the room with the oil vases and the trapped door to the tomb we never opened, and slept there.

62 days to go

We managed to get a full sleep thanks to Flask, who stayed up and watched, and fought off some fire beetles before they woke us. Heading back to where we left off, we found a trapped corridor, but we didn’t have Flask’s thieves’ tools anymore so we couldn’t comfortably get over and look at what was beyond (a small silver coffer).

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We kept going and found a huge hall full of life size clay warriors surrounding a dome. We cracked the dome open and found some skeletons amongst some treasure. We took some jade beads, a silver and turquoise amulet, and an antique lamp. When we touched that, it awoke a zombie warrior with another matching amulet. We beat him, and took his amulet too. They are both amulets of resisting turning. Could be useful once I start organising the dead to help us.

Going further down that corridor it was a dead end, so we backtracked to the four statue corridor, but found yet another dead end with gap we were too scared to jump. Coming back to the animal heads I decided to try and take the object out of the eagle’s beak. My hand got stuck as the eagle’s beak chomped down on it, but with some quick thinking, Hugo oiled the statue’s mechanism and pried it open. The object was a bracelet of rock magic. So I’m keeping that!

We went down the final branching corridor and ran into a lot of zombies, but we managed to fend them off pretty easily. Then we came to some bronze doors, and behind them were two ancient humans, but they hadn’t decayed at all. From the residue of a potion nearby we figured out they had drunk a sleeping potion, and given their clothing it seemed like they had slept for thousands of years. I touched the woman, and she and the man woke.

They spoke in an ancient language, but I cast a spell of language comprehension and bowed to them. They were saying they were the ‘Achieved Ones’, whatever that meant, and said we had to atone for waking them from their sacred sleep. They tried talking to us in what I thought was an old form of common, but even then they couldn’t understand my common, so I gave them my scroll of the comprehend languages spell. With that, they were able to understand when I apologised to them for waking them. But still, they were unhappy and demanding payment in the form of treasure. While I dug around in my pack I played for time by asking them about the temple around them, the fresco on the wall announcing some many-eyed god. But they were interested. And when Hugo tried compromising with them, they attacked.

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But they were not very hard for us to beat. We sat down and revived them, and tried to get the truth out of them. Their names are¬†Cipactonal and Oxomoco (the man and woman, respectively) and a very long time ago they cheated their way into the temple. It was said that two champions would sleep in the temple forever, and they wanted to always be together, so when the two champions were chosen, the two of them poisoned them and took their place. We explained our quest and they didn’t seem much interested, but we still tried to impress upon them that they should come with us and help. It wasn’t until Inete stroked their egos and said that they’d be famous back in Port Nyanzura that they decided to come with us.

I realise of course that they are completely selfish and may betray us at any time, but still, we need all the help we can get.

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Wet and Wild: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 7

63 days to go, continued

Once we gathered ourselves from the fall, we found ourselves in an ancient ruin with no way back out. There were dioramas on the wall. Inete identified them as belonging to the Olman people, who are long gone now. The murals showed the way they lived.

We made our way down the hall to find a door which I needed to snake a rope through with magic and pull it towards us. We continued down the corridor, with Hugo getting knocked forward by some cane logs. We were locked out from going backwards. So we went forward through a bronze door with seaweed motifs to find ourselves face to face with a giant crayfish.

Hugo spoke with it in the language of animals, and he was able to communicate. He managed to convince it that we were friends and we would try and find some better food for them, after feeding him some rations, and bring people back to worship at the temple. He had a friend there too, a giant crab. They both let us pass with the promise of food, and directed us to go east where there would be a way out.

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Unfortunately the eastern stairs had caved in, but we did find a secret door. We took our time opening it, using unseen servants to do it, as the walls were covered in an acidic sludge. There were six urns within the chamber filled with oil, and a door with something magic up against it. Flask used his thieves tools and managed to move it so that whatever it was – a trap, we assumed – wouldn’t fall when we opened the door. But by that time Inete had translated some words in the chamber and revealed it was a tomb for someone called Tloques Popolocas, Master of the Others. We decided it was wiser to leave that well alone.

The crab directed us west next. Everything was slimy and wet. The tabaxi were not happy. We saw a pedestal with a small metal pyramid, which I pocketed just in case it was relevant. It didn’t seem to have anything to do with the star motif in the ceiling in that section. Next we found a massive statue, and Oz scampered up it any brought us back a magical longsword, which Flask now wears on his back.

Through the next set of double doors we ran into a pool of water with something moving within. It spoke, and I used magic to understand it – it was a giant slug, Tecuziztecatl! He spat horrible acid at us, but we soon beat him into submission. We let him slink away to lick his wounds once he started talking of surrender. Then we encountered a swollen door, and we opened it with Flask’s thieves tools, but the wave that swept through as we opened it made us lose his tools!

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We found a crawlspace after that which lead to the back of the statue where the sword was, and unfortunately we pushed it over and it smashed. We headed back, and now found a room with a much nicer pool of water. As we entered we swore we heard a woman’s voice, so Hugo had a look around, and got in the pool. He was attacked by a nereid who stole all his breath! She and her electric eel attacked us, and it was close, with Hugo nearly drowning, but we managed to vanquish them both.

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We went through the next doors and got out of the water and slime, finding a trick corridor that had to be a trap. It had a motif showing yuan-ti conquering the Olman people. We rested a while, then searched for another way out, and Flash found that a certain sun on the fresco was a button which revealed a new area.

Eye of the Tiger: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 6

65 days to go

Headed due west.

64 days to go

Slow progress. Inete however was able to figure out that Eeyal is on the brink of slipping away even further somehow, like her soul will depart, even though we have cast a spell of gentle repose on her. So Inete puts purpose in to her divination in the morning, trying to help Eeyal stay with us.

Today we heard the yowl of what I knew at once was some form of large cat. Hugo could tell it was in distress, and Flask was able to lead us to it. It was a kamadan, and it was trapped in huge webs, unable to get out. We were just in time to see the giant spiders and their brood heading for it, so we fought them and tried to free the beast.

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We learnt some new things about using our powers appropriately. Inete and I were better at dealing with large groups of small targets with our spells, while the others were better off hitting the larger targets. Hugo healed the kamadan who was taking many bites from the spiders big and small. I foolishly set the forest on fire with my spells, but when we managed to get the kamadan free, a chwingas appeared and brought with it rain to kill the flames. We killed the spiders and the beast was free and gone. In the burning of the webs, an adventurer’s skeleton had fallen close beside me. He looked to be the sole member of his party, perhaps having absconded with all the loot we found in his backpack: 180 gold worth of coins, gemstones of obsidian, malachite, banded agate translucent and brown, and rhodochrosite, a vial of oil of etherealness, and a bag of mysterious beans.

We set up camp soon after, and Inete started teaching me the spell to summon the very useful hovering disc we use to transport Inete.

63 days to go

After packing up camp and moving further west, we ran into the kamadan again. It seemed to want to lead us, so we followed it, and it left us at a statue of Ubtao. Beneath the statue was another dead adventurer, this one a pirate and probably of the same party as the skeleton yesterday. All was rotted away but a waterproofed map which pointed to not only Orolunga, but a pirate hideout at some place called Jahaka Anchorage.

But we didn’t need a map to Orolunga. It lay before us down a widened path in the jungle. We walked towards the large ziggurat. As we reached its base, behind us we could see people. Before we could hail them, we were swallowed by the ground!

Turtle Soup: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 5

66 days to go, continued

Mbala was a wreck inside. Inete and I sent our familiars out to scout. River wanted to leave, but that was when I noticed Oz wasn’t coming back. I looked through his eyes. He was being held by the witch we’d heard rumours about. She spoke to me through him, bidding us to come.

We found her outside her awful hut made of huge bones and hides. Her name was Nanny Pu-pu, and though Inete was very spooked, we took her offer to come inside. She spoke of old times and offered us a gumbo which we only pretended to eat, since she was blind. We told her about our quest, and she told us that she had a way around the broken resurrection magic – but it came with a price. We told her we didn’t need it right now, but maybe in the future we could make a deal.

Meanwhile, she asked us to go and deal with some flappy things that were troubling her, with their nest in the cliff just below the plateau we were on. So we went there, lead by River and Eeyal’s tracking, saw that there was a cave mouth in the cliff which we couldn’t reach, and found a chute leading down. All of us could fit except Eeyal, so Inete and her stayed up top and we warned them to look out and use the rope they were holding for signalling. Meanwhile we climbed down the rope…

… only to find ourselves faced by ten big winged lizard folk. These were the terrorfolk described in rumour. But luckily for us the cave was narrow at the back, so we slayed seven of them in the close quarters. Inete slid down the chute to help us. The other three flew off after the seven were dead. The others scrambled through the debris looking for treasure while I went back up to check on Eeyal. They found a silver dagger, some money, and a healing potion.

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And I found that Eeyal was gone. I called the others up quickly, and we ran to confront the witch, only to find a terribly familiar savoury smell wafting from her kitchen. She came out of invisibility and attacked us. Enraged by the loss of our friend, we managed to finish the hag off, which seemed a surprise to her as we dealt the final blows.

It was too late. Eeyal was beyond helping. Hugo has insisted we carry her behind us, and Inete gave in, creating a floating disk which trails behind her. Meanwhile, he has gone to sleep, having in his evening prayers asked the Chwingas for a spell of gentle repose so she may remain fresh and some magic may be able to bring her back. Maybe, in time, if we fix resurrection magic, and if we ever get magic powerful enough to do it, we can bring her back properly.

Later that night, while the rest of us morosely rested in the now complete quiet and safety of Mbala, River and Flask uncovered the hag’s treasure trove in a cistern. There were six onyx gemstones, a scroll of language comprehension, and ten dwarven adamantium ingots. Inete recognised the symbol on them; it was that of Hrakamar, the albino dwarf kingdom on the southern side of the peninsula. Perhaps if we go there ever we can return them.

Bingo Bango Bongo: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 4

69 days to go, Continued

We quickly hit a rainstorm. We made up camp, and Inete told us more things she knew through rumour or had seen in visions, such as someone called Grandfather Zitembe in a jungle city full of snakes somewhere in the south, enclosed by cliffs; a black obelisk draped in vines; how she had come south with a guide who had been killed when they had been mobbed by some undead, and he subsequent rescue or capture by the Order of the Gauntlet. She really seems to enjoy gossip. We don’t have much in common.

We stopped for the night and noticed that the grass was very green and there was a sweet breeze where we were. Then we saw some of those nature spirits we’d heard of. They didn’t want to eat River’s goodberries, or listen to her play the flute, and they just ran away. But later I noticed a little gold monocle frame I had in my pocket for a long time past vanished into the ether during that time. We stayed there and tied ourselves up in trees to sleep. Inete summoned her familiar, an almiraj called Bongo, and they set up the alarm spell around our camp.

Lucky we did that, as those sea hags from before came back for revenge. They had brought a whole host of zombies to aid them, but this turned out to be their downfall. The nature spirits had left a little yellow gemstone in Hugo’s pocket, and it glowed very bright as he chanted the ceremony to repel the undead. As they tried to shamble away, the hags were trapped in a ring of dead flesh they themselves had created in their folly. So with this watching crowd of zombies pressing in around, they tried to climb the trees we were in. Thankfully this gave us a decent amount of time to snipe at them from our height. But it was a very close thing. Flask hit the ground hard at one point, but was revived. Bongo charged one, and it fell off the tree and broke its neck. We managed to finish the last one off before it could escape. So we won’t be chased by them anymore. Their undead dispersed, no longer controlled.

68 days to go

We reached deeper into the Aldani valley, and the swampy terrain held us up. We saw nothing much other than lizards and insects. We found an ideal tree to camp under. No disturbances.

67 days to go

We turned our course west and reached what could be plains in this humid country. We ran into a party of lizardmen and were not able to reach an agreement with them. They had a prisoner tied up on their beast, and they seemed to want to add us to their ration store. So we took them out. It was tough, especially when the shaman summoned a huge lizard beast to their aid, but we managed, with all our healing magic.

The prisoner was a turtle person (!) called Eeyal. She is going to travel with us, now that we have told her our tale. On her journeys from Port Ahoyhoy, the home of her people, she has seen many things: Lake Luo, and on its shores the ruined palace of Nangalore; the gorge of Ataz Muhahah and the ruins of Mezro; nearby, the ruin of a flying ship with a crazy man living inside; King Toba, the king of the snapping turtles, with his gemstone shell; the dragon turtle Aremag in the Bay of Chult, who demands specific treasures from passing ships. Also she knew a specific rumour we desperately needed to hear: that up the River Tath, past the Ataz Kahakla, is a ruined city where a naga guardian lives… and that city is Orolunga! So we redoubled our efforts westward, hoping we’d gain a vantage point to see south and west to look for the ruins.

350 (350√ó418)

Eeyal is a tinkerer, and Hugo handed over the mysterious gemstone for her to examine. She knew what it was immediately: a stone of the Chwinga, those nature spirits, which will help defend people against undead. So Hugo held onto it, and that night by the time we had camped, he had yet again switched his religious allegiance, as he did only a few months ago by choosing Jergal, to the Chwingas. Oh well. I think it will be a better fit for him than Jergal, to be fair.

66 days to go

We finally reached M’bala, and it was a giant prominence sticking out of the earth, so we had to climb. River sensed something nearby, but she could not pinpoint it. As we climbed, we could see ‘The Heart of Ubtao’ to the south east, a giant heart-shaped piece of earth floating in the sky. We also saw a flying shipwreck to the south. And as we finally neared the entrance to the ruins of the once great city of M’bala, we saw in the west the distant ziggurat of Orolunga. We will go there next, but first we will see if the rumours of a witch in M’bala are true.

 

G.I. Blues: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 3

71 days to go, continued

Inside Fort Vengeance, everyone looked tired and many of them sick. Still, it was hard to feel sorry for our captors. We were escorted to the tent of Lord Breakbone, who was a twat and wouldn’t listen to us. He said we were being press-ganged because he needed more men. Then he threw us into the guard room for the night, which meant we did nothing for the rest of the day.

One of his lieutenants called Perne brought us dinner. We tried to warn her about the coming devastation should they not allow us to continue. Even she wouldn’t listen, though she seemed to understand more than Lord Idiot. In the end we compromised, saying we’d heal some of the sick tomorrow.

70 days to go

Met Ord Firebeard, a dwarf, a lieutenant of Lord Idiot. He took us to the latrines, where Flask pointed out to him that the set up was all wrong and probably contributing to people being sick. This seemed to impress him.

We went to the first aid tents and met Sister Syas, their healer. She was busy, so Hugo and River set to healing as quickly as they could to help. This impressed her enough that we were allowed a break.

On that break we met another person who was press-ganged, a local priestess of Savras, called Inete. She told us of some red-robed wizards in the Aldani Basin, nature spirits that wear masks, a legend about green dragon bones pointing to treasure between Mezro and Kir Sabal, and of a wrecked Halruaan airship called the Star Goddess. We told her what was up with us, and she asked to come and help if we could secure her release too.

So we finally were able to face ‘trial’ in front of Lord Idiot. Thankfully Perne, Ord and Syas all took our side and convinced him to let us go, so long as we helped out a day or so more.

So we set to working furiously to be able to leave as soon as we could. Hugo, River and Inete healed until they were exhausted. Flask helped redesign the layout of the latrines. I helped the Quartermaster look over his records and figure out where to best use their supplies.

69 days to go

They asked us for another morning’s effort, and promised to let us go after helping a bit more. So Hugo and the others went back into the first aid tent, and Flask and I considered the set up the camp had to prevent insects attacking the sleeping. After a hard morning’s work, we were released.

As we went down the river once more, Oz shrieked and pointed down the river. Just as we went by a corner of a bend, I caught a glimpse of someone who looked like Undril arriving at the fort. Thank Jergal we left when we did.

Rolling on the River: Priscilla and the Tomb of Annihilation, Part 2

77 days to go, continued

As we started to leave the city, Undril told us that the former Order of the Gauntlet camp, Camp Righteous, had been destroyed by undead. When I then mentioned our religious order, she left us in a rage.

Leaving town, more rumours from our guides. There is a ghost village above the Aldani Basin. Also we have to watch out for a blue mist in the jungle whick causes Mad Monkey fever. Also there were nature spirits to look out for, but they would be unlikely to attack unless we did.

We had to row from the port to the mouth of the Riven Shoshenstar before stopping. It was hours of exhausting rowing in stinking rain. We made it by night, and set up camp. I cast the spell Syndra had been disapproving of in the temple of Jergal. Find Familiar. A monkey with wings hurtled my way and is now pulling my hair. I see why she was not keen on that spell. I have named him Oz.

76 days to go

Last night we were woken by two big water lizards with long necks fighting and screaming in the river. But we managed to mostly sleep through. On the river, Hugo put out the fishing line and caught a few. Flask spotted the blue mist at one point. We had to get out of the river and wait a couple of hours for it to pass. He mentioned that there is a beetle which is said to cure the fever of the mist. Later, we had to go up a few portage paths to get around waterfalls. Right now as we camp, there are 9 flying lizards circling above our heads. Pterosaurs, our guides call them. They don’t seem interested in us.

75 days to go

Awful rain held us up for a while, and when we finally got going it was slow because someone had to always be bailing. Only interesting thing today was a flock of flying snakes, but they didn’t attack us. River and Flask have a fiddle and flute out. The music is strange and I think I hate it.

74 days to go

The rain eased up. We saw old ruins of Ubtao across the river. We had three waterfall portages today. At one, Flask spotted a frozen tree. Must have been a wizard. Thinking about it later, the guides seemed interested, but not surprised to see it, weirdly.

73 days to go

Today on the river a giant snake attacked me and pulled me into the river. I boiled it alive a moment later, but not before breathing in throat leeches. Short of breath, lots of coughing. Also our fishing line got eaten by quippers. Going to sleep now, hopefully Hugo can get a restoring spell from Jergal overnight.

72 days to go

Woke up feeling much better. Reached Camp Righteous to find burning buildings, two rowboats, and a huge shrine. 80 foot statue of a man carrying a crocodile. We hid our supplies and boats under a rotting tent. Freed a baby axebeak that was trapped in some of the camp wreckage. River remembered a story about the man carrying the crocodile. It was a folk tale about how a crocodile carried a man across a river, and now the man has to carry a crocodile across the land.

It was really big inside so I had Oz fly ahead and spy out. We had to climb levels that were 7 feet high, though there were cracks in the levels so it was easy. Then we had to skirt around traps in the floor. Flask fell into one, even after spotting it. Then he and Hugo got swiped by blades out of the wall.

We saw 16 floor panels at one point, and Oz could see that 16 panels on the door ahead of us matched them, but one was glowing. So we stepped on the counterpart on the floor, and nothing bad happened to us. The glow on the door changed, so we stepped to the one matching that, and so on, until we were across the floor. Then we had to touch those same door panels, so River on Flask’s shoulders touched the top two and Flask touched the bottom two, in the order that we crossed the floor on. The door opened.

Inside was a pile of bones and webs everywhere, and a pillar with stairs, at the top of which was a ceramic jug. Beginning to climb, we got struck by lightning. But then we thought, what if the thing we did before – putting River on Flask’s shoulders – was the point? What if all the motifs on the wall of the man carrying the crocodile were the answer. So they climbed up like that and no traps went off. They got the jug and brought it down. Nothing happened. I checked, and it seemed to be magical and different stoppers corked up different liquids, like oil and water.

We went out, Hugo carrying me on his shoulders, and the guides still like that, and none of the traps triggered. Outside we were attacked by goblins, but we held them off. Their leader ran away. We ate lunch in the doorway of the temple. When we came out the two rowboats had their bottoms knocked out. Must have been the goblin leader. But he hadn’t found our actual boats. After one further portage, we camped for the night.

71 days to go

Slept in later today because we were attacked last night by three sea hags. We were lucky to be able to scare them off with our desperate defence and moved inland. But then things got even more unlucky.

After sundown we passed Camp Vengeance. From the river, I hailed them and asked if Undril had made it to them yet. They told us to stop, but we kept going. They chased and caught us. Apparently the commander thinks she can commission any passerby!