PRP: Search and Rescue
Rumor has reached House Proscipi that some survivors of the siege were not killed, but were taken into the lowland jungle by fleeing shavs. A mission is now being launched to head into the treacherous wilds of Dawnsend and rescue the captives, but both the wilderness and its occupants hold great hostility for all who trespass against them.
OOC: Open to all! I can take 5 people for this + anyone from Proscipi or Vaevici orgs (those are not counting against the 5). RSVP to me by @mail if you want to go so I can keep track! Normal risk. Combat and exploration.
June 24, 2021, 8:30 p.m.
Outside Arx - Saffron Chain near Tremorus - Dawnsend - The Apogee Wilds
Comments and Log
The city-state of Tremorus, on the island of Dawnsend, is the farthest Southern holding of the entire Compact. At the far southeastern edge of the exotic and foreign Saffron Chain, the prodigal citizens of this island were at great risk in the war against Skal'daja, and suffered greatly following a siege to their home. A mix of Eurusi invaders and hostile lowland jungle wild-men, long the enemies of Tremorus, devastated the city.
While repairs have been underway, word has reached the Arakkoans of Tremorus, and their Arvani allies, that captives have been taken by the savages of the lowland jungles -- victims of the siege who were not killed, but spirited away. The House of Proscipi has set forth a call in general to the people of Arx and Arvum, looking for volunteers to help Tremorus in many ways, and today the needed task is that brave adventurers have been called upon to help rescue the captives in the jungle.
It has been an arduous journey for everyone. Some more than others, but hours of trekking through the wilderness will surely bring them to their destination soon...
Giorgio checks wits and survival at normal. Giorgio marginally fails.
Zakhar checks wits and survival at normal. Zakhar is successful.
Ian checks wits and survival at normal. Ian marginally fails.
Veronica checks wits and survival at hard. Veronica fails.
Orland checks wits and survival at normal. Orland is successful.
Cerelia checks wits and survival at normal. Cerelia marginally fails.
Between the leather armor and the humidity, Ian looks a little bit unsavory in a distinctly sweaty way, but he doesn't show any signs of wilting in the heat. Initially he had his coat off, but after he had to reach up his sleeve and pull a leech off his arm, he decided that more sweaty is preferable to more leeches, and put it back on again. He's asking no questions about the jumping leeches. There are some things nobody wants to know about. Jumping leeches are one of those things.
Ian gets ugly, singed, stained, multicolor scarf from Oiled leather bag.
Generally speaking, Giorgio would not have gone on such a mission out into the wilds of Dawnsend. The lowland jungles are notoriously dangerous. All manner of hungry wildlife call the jungles in the shadow of the mountain home, and that doesn't speak anything of those wild barbarians that still run counter to the wishes of the ruling Proscipi family. But. Giorgio has become the Marquis of Tremorus and it's citizens need help... even if it is from Giorgio. He makes his way along stoically amidst the rest of the troops, but every now and then there is a yelp from the Marquis and the resounding sound of him slapping and swatting at himself. "Is no one else getting stung by these bees?! Did anyone see Savio spray me with something when we left!?" he asks of the group.
Did someone say hunting bandits?! Veronica may have volunteered a little bit too quickly at the chance to engage in one of her favorite hobbies (which to be clear is justice, not just hunting people down Most Dangerous Game style) and booked a trip back down to the Saffron chain. She's usually a pretty sturdy wilderness traveler...back in the Oathlands, where she's familiar with the environment, and the sun isn't ANGRY with EVERYONE and oh god she's so pale--or she was. She's kind of lobster-red now on the visible parts of her skin. She's wearing a light cloak at this point to shade as much of herself as she can, and varying between needing it for the cover and wincing as it hits her sunburned parts. She just gives Giorgio a slightly miserable shake of the head to both of his questions--bees would never sting a friend of Clement house right?
Orland has joined this adventure prepared with his adventuring PACK. Inside, were all the survival gear needed to survive and some of it even attached on the outside. A bedroll, ropes, a lantern, inside some dried foods, candles, flint and a striker, first aid kids... you know all the sort of gear that would be necessary. Along with that also, in his pockets, some trinkets from the last time they were rescuing captives, like crocodile trinks and a SILVER key. Of course, the MAP he found in the last adventure is held in his hands, which he refers too as they trudge through the humidity. "I'm pretty sure this is where the captives are," he indicates on the said map, which doesn't hold as many details as he'd like, "Though finding landmarks in here is going to be an issue." With a machete in the other hand, he hacks at some of the bigger more imposing obstacles. He looks back at Giorgio, "I just hope not to have an allergic reaction again. That was annoying. Watch where you step!" He suggests.
Cerelia is about as comfortable as she can be in her leather armor at least until she falls in some mud. While she's wiped what she could off of her face and palms of her hands most of her is covered in bits of the sticky mud. Still she doesn't seem too upset by it. It could be worse. She looks at Orland with a nod.
Trudging along behind Ian and making a couple of efforts to look at the local wildlife, some weird memory keeps popping up that they should, no...shouldn't be licked, or should they? Is the tall old man with snow-white locks, Zakhar has for the most part successfully failed at hitting anyone today with any of the cooking utensils, and might be a little grumpy about that lack. A glance is given to Orland as he looks at his map thingy again. Looking back to the Marquis, "I didn't see shit. What would that spray have been?" Then looking over to Orland as the lad looks back at the map yet again. "Are ye holding the pretty picture upside down?"
Ian takes a brief interest in the map Orland is looking at, but he's got almost no experience reading maps that aren't of a nautical nature, and on top of that, staying on his feet in this uneven terrain that he can't feel under his feet, even with his cane as a third point of balance, takes a not-insignificant amount of his attention. So the brief interest is just that, a glance, and then he's back to watching the ground again (and once checking his sleeves because the leech thing has made him paranoid).
What unforgiving fun the jungle is. Everyone is having a fantastic time. Trees after trees after trees, with scarcely more than a game trail to follow, and the paths that are cleared by their tired arms and swinging machetes. Mud, insects... jumping leeches... the worst part is that it feels like this is just a relatively nice day out here. No one's been eaten by a crocodile yet.
Wayfinding seemed fairly easy at first given the map and a proximity to a river clearly pictured, but then the path veers away from there, and the document seems to be assuming a familiarity with this area that the Arvani, and the Arakkoans (which is what people from Tremorus call themselves) for that matter, simply don't have.
As the group proceeds, an uneasy silence fills the jungle. It's too quiet.
Orland checks intellect and survival at easy. Orland is successful.
Giorgio checks perception at hard. Giorgio is successful.
Ian checks perception and survival at hard. Critical Success! Ian is spectacularly successful.
Cerelia checks perception and survival at hard. Cerelia is successful.
Zakhar checks perception and survival at hard. Zakhar fails.
Orland is still sporting bruises around his eyes and a puffy nose, recently acquired no doubt, which he gives Zakhar a bit of a hard glance, but probably for the indication he's hold the MAP wrong, "Are you doubting me, Zak? I know how to read a map..." Though he might be turning it about a little bit, second guessing himself. SQUINT. His eyes searching around their current location, considering the path and the directions on the map. "I'm certain I have the map right. We should be following... yes, this way." He gestures.
"Anything!" Giorgio says warily to Zakhar. "You always have to keep an eye on Savio. When we were children the little bastard sprayed me with monkey piss and told me it was an expensive cologne that he had managed to talk a merchant out of. Male monkeys followed me around all afternoon trying to... procreate," he reveals, grumbling at the memory. "I should have known he was lying. Savio has always been terrible with merchants!" There is another slap at his neck before he heaves a sigh and puts his hands on his hips, looking around the jungle for some sign of what they might be looking for.
Orland quips, "This trail should lead us straight toward a structure. See," he tap taps with the end of his machete on the map for people nearby to see, "Maybe like, I don't know, a shrine or something."
Zakhar gives Orland a gruff laugh, then shakes his head some, pulling the cloth of his weathered face covering up and over his neck as he slaps at another bug trying to eat him alive. "fucking bugs..." Then looking back to Giorgio with a quirk of a smile, "Sounds like it worked, might not have been the attention you were seeking..." Zakhar is more interested in the direction than what might be at the end of the path, and thus when Orland points things out on his map he waves the thought away, then turns to Veronica instead. "You said you were one of them bee fanatics when we were on the boat here?"
Cerelia walks along with the group and looks around at the different things pointed out. She notices some vines and shows them to the others. "These have been cut. People use these to drink water from. Others must have passed this way."
Something seems to have caught Ian's interest, a shadow glimpsed on the forest floor, perhaps (because he was mostly looking at the ground), or something that he heard. He looks up for a moment, and then falls in next to Orland and Zakhar, and speaks in a low tone that'd require being close to him to overhear, especially over the general sounds of insects and other jungle things. "We're not alone out here. At least four, know their way around, faded off at about your two o' clock. We'll be expected."
Orland flicks a smile to Zakhar, something that doesn't seem possible from the Amadeo lord, all toothy and not at all rising to his eyes. It falls afterward though, as he watches Giorgio fighting the bugs and putting his brother under the cart, "They probably don't like your smell. When's the last time you had a bath? Or it could be the foods you're eating, I know if you eat the wrong things it makes your odor pungent." He looks toward Cerelia, lifting his brow up at her, noting the way things have been cut because of her recommendation, "Good eye Cerelia." Then Ian's warning has him draw tension in his form, "I guess there goes our element of surprise."
It's ominous news -- Cerelia's information backs up Ian's. Someone has been here before, and based on what the Kennex lord has spotted, people who are completely, thoroughly at home here. They have the advantage by far; this is their home turf. Even Cerelia and Giorgio, locals to Tremorus, are not from the jungles in the same way the barbarians are.
You couldn't call what they're traveling on a PATH exactly, but it opens out into a space wherein the inhabited nature of this jungle becomes more clear: There is a bridge here, cunningly made out of living vines. ( https://i.imgur.com/AGwqxRR.jpg )
The bridge looks poorly maintained, as though no one has used it for a long, long time. It is crossing a river, swiftly moving. Further down, there might be another way to cross, but the only other way in evidence is a couple of fallen branches and slippery stones that might be tricky.
Giorgio checks dexterity and athletics at hard. Giorgio fails.
Cerelia checks dexterity and athletics at hard. Cerelia is successful.
"What?" Giorgio asks of Orland, his brows lifting high on his forehead as he looks at the Amadeo Lord with as close to betrayal as he has ever looked at anyone. Orland is about to have his dual citizenship with Tremorus revoked! "I have never been called 'pungent' a day in my life, thank you very much. How dare you?" he huffs, as if Orland had gravely insulted his honor. "I can't deal with you right now. I need some space." And so, as Orland heads toward the bridge, Giorgio moves for the slippery rocks and branches. He makes it about two steps before slipping and splashing down into the water. "Ahh! They're biting me! Something is biting me!" he yells out. Is it an alligator? No, just tiny fish, but it still makes Giorgio hustle his ass back to dry land.
Orland laughs at Giogio's response, he cannot help but laugh. It's not often that he gets to laugh but certainly when Giorgio slips on the rocks and goes down, he starts to HOWL a little more, "The bugs shouldn't bother you now Gio!" He cackles... and steps toward the bridge.
Veronica looks at the choices: A nice looking, if old, bridge, or natural obstacles that are not a bridge and in fact might be opposed to human transportation in deceptive ways. She takes the bridge. It's an easy crossing, though she does at least have the grace to look concerned as Giorgio falls into the water and complains of river bites. Once to the other side she'll wait politely for any others to finish crossing--or just watch Cerelia caper over the watery obstacles to the shore.
Cerelia looks to the bridge with some hesitation. She decides to keep Giorgio company on the rocks, not in the river. She has little trouble keeping her balance and she makes it across. "Are you all right Giorgio?"
Ian falls back to take a moment bringing other people up to speed on the situation re: at least four people who noticed the group and then headed off to parts unknown, letting the others take the bridge before he crosses. Giorgio going into the drink makes him start to loose his scarf from where he's looped at his belt like the world's ugliest, smelliest whip, but when it becomes clear that the only thing he's injured is his pride, he checks the instinct.
Who wouldn't want to cross the bridge? It looks really cool, and someone obviously spent lots of time training the roots and vines to grow that way. It seems sturdy, it doesn't even wobble as Orland, Ian, and Veronica easily cross. Totally easy crossing. It's a little upstream of the slippery branches and what we'll now refer to as Giorgio Crossing, separated by boulders that steer the tree-branch-crossers away from the bridge crossers, though they are in easy sight and sound of each other. They'll reconvene easily right after the clearing on the other side of the bridge.
But oh, about that clearing. It is totally empty, and there are large purple flowers almost the size of a person's head in this clearing. They are lazily releasing some kind of golden pollen into the air, and it feels heady and warm here. There is a faint buzzing, audible to those who crossed at the branches too. The flowers are so beautiful. Soooooo beautiful. They're just begging to be touched.
Orland checks willpower at hard. Orland marginally fails.
Ian checks willpower at hard. Ian is successful.
Veronica checks willpower at hard. Veronica fails.
A faint buzzing. It's like bees. Bees are comforting right? Good things...make more flowers. Like those awesome purple ones over there. Veronica will pause from determined marching and rubbing at her sunburned spots to make a slight turn towards the floral treasure presented, approaching the blossoms swiftly. "Arent't they beautiful?" She asks of the others, even as her focus has...shifted from obvious wilderness survival.
Zakhar checks willpower at hard. Zakhar fails.
Orland steps foot off the rather passable bridge, not quite sure why people haven't used that before. Really, it's a beautiful looking bridge, so natural and non-invasive to the jungle at large. Orland spots the flowers and the way that they're so freaking huge. Why are the so huge?! Ahhh but things are getting heady and warm, like sex on the beach really. His expression sort of falls to a relaxed state and he's starting to head toward one of those flowers, like in a little bit of a trance. The desire to touch is there.
*** Ian has called for an opposing check with Orland. ***
Ian checks strength and brawl at easy. Ian is successful.
Orland checks strength and brawl at easy. Orland is successful.
*** The rolls are tied. ***
*** Ian has called for an opposing check with Orland. ***
Ian checks strength and brawl at easy. Ian is successful.
Orland checks strength and brawl at easy. Botch! Orland fails completely.
*** Ian is the winner. ***
Zakhar's addled mind screams, TOUCH THAT FLOWER. And with very little resistance to do otherwise, finds himself leaning closer to the flower, muttering slightly.
Zakhar mutters, "... hello ... my ... little pet, you just ... to ... snuggled doncha? Yes you ... this ... ... the best ... come'ere ... snuggle."
Giorgio climbs from the water and says, "Yeah, I'm okay, Cerelia. Thank you for asking." He shakes himself as if to rid himself of the water, though he is totally unsuccessful, and then checks to make sure his bow and arrows are still where they should be. "We better get caught up," he says to Cerelia before hustling along, trying to get to the point where their path will intersect the rest of the group's.
Ian blinks a couple of times as he comes into the clearing. He squints a little bit, and belatedly realizes Orland, right beside him, is walking towards a flower. It takes a moment for the pieces to connect in his mind, subtly clouded as it is by the pollen in the air, but when he does, he makes a clumsy grab for Orland's belt to try and haul him back. "Lord Orland, no. Those --" When Orland evades that initial grab, the gloves come off. He grabs the other man by the shoulder and, with a complicated shifting of weight and help from his cane to sweep the other man's feet out from under him, puts him on the ground hard and immediately shoves his scarf over Orland's nose and mouth. The smell on that scarf is eye-wateringly potent enough, especially in this humidity, to overpower a lot of stuff.
Cerelia nods to Giorgio as he seems to be fine. She runs just behind him while trying to catch up with the others at the safe end of the clearing.
Seeing Ian take down Orland from the distance separating them, Giorgio mutters something as he walks.
As the group crossing the lovely, well-made bridge arrives in the clearing... perhaps it becomes clear as to why it's fallen out of favor for river crossings. This clearing is a hazard all on its own, and the rocky outcroppings that funnel the travelers forth prevent easy avoidance of the wonderful/evil purple flowers. Buzzing, buzzing, a faint buzzing.... what could that be?
Ian manages to save Orland from his own self and Cerelia and Giorgio are safe from their choice of crossing (if a bit fish-gnawed on Giorgio's part), but Veronica and Zakhar are drawn in so close to their lovely flowers. Lovely, lovely flowers --
They're not bees. Bees are nice, and helpful. These are knife-wasps almost as big as a hand, flying up out of the flowers to punch a painful sting into the person that has touched the enchanting lotus! It hurts like hell! WHY? You mean-ass bugs! But it does a good job shattering the spell, and it seems like a good idea to run.
Giorgio mutters, "... what he gets. Calling me pungent."
Ian checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Ian is successful.
Veronica checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Veronica is successful.
Zakhar checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Zakhar marginally fails.
Orland checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Orland is successful.
Giorgio checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Giorgio fails.
Cerelia checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Cerelia marginally fails.
Orland manages to hand wave aside the initial reach of Ian, but he is not expecting at all, to fight of the full strength of Ian Kennex! The move takes him to the ground with a resounding thud of him hitting it hard, knocking the righteous sense into him... but it's the scarf that gets wrapped around his nose and mouth that really triggers Orland - maybe this has happened to him before? MAYBE. The fact that the scarf is awful in odor has him wretching against it, but also squirming to get away. He'll be wretching and gagging even as he's watching the other's run and deciding he should too as well, upon seeing those murder hornets!
"Hello bees, come on out, I just want to touch your--oh gods oh no OW F--" Veronica's reaction moves very quickly from fascination with the purple flowers to vengeful fiery hate for all things flying and insectoid...well, maybe not all things, but normal bees are on notice. She swats a few away from her face but still endures some painful stings to her arms as she retreats from teh territorial wasps and then turns to run along with the others, away from all of...all of this. But there is no escaping the jungle entire (at least not without several hours of marching back)
Ian rolls away from the wasps as they start to swarm around everyone. It might be the reek of the scarf that protects Ian from further damage as he scrambles gracelessly to his feet, stumbles, catches himself with his cane, and gets away. There was certainly no actual running involved on his part.
"What the?!" Giorgio yelps as the knife wasps fly out of those flowers to sting Zakhar and Veronica. "NO!" he protests at the prospect of more bugs. He takes off running, focusing solely on getting away from the bugs and missing the tree root that hooks his foot and drops him face first into a puddle of sticky sap.. tar.. mud... gorilla shit... He flails, face down in the muck for a little while before he scrabbles to his feet and tries to keep running once more.
Cerelia runs as fast as she can with some mud flying off. She keeps running even after hitting her head on a branch. It does slow her down a little, but she keeps running until she feels safe from the wasps.
Zakhar mutters, "FUCKING ... PRETTY ... THING... OH HELLO THERE ... FLOWERS... Fire. ... FIRE EVERYWHERE. Going to cook ... up ... destroy everything. ... ... ... there. What?"
Pretty flowers, beautiful colors call to Zakhar and just as he's getting closer he takes a stumble and lands face first into something sticky.
It's a slightly inelegant dash through the jungle away from the lotus clearing and the knife-wasps. Highly disconcerting, the way they come up from the flowers like that -- as the group runs or evades out of the clearing, they can see bones under their feet, hidden in the grasses near the base of the flowers. Simian type creatures, maybe... and some larger bones that look disconcertingly like they could be human. More and more wasps swarm out of their host flowers, spurred to action by their brethren, ready to strike... one or two stings isn't so bad. Twenty stings almost certainly would be. The flowers lure in prey, the wasps strike... for what purpose? Maybe better not to think about it?... the fallen creature provides nutrients for the flowers... it's the circle of life, guys.
They have, at the least, managed to flee in the proper direction per their map. After another short hike and reassurance that everyone is alive if not smelling great, the jungle opens up again.
At first they just see moss covered stone blocks, the remnants of walls long fallen. But as they proceed, more and more of those blocks take shape into ruins, recognizable as something that was once a city or a complex of some sort. Once upon a time, this was a grand civilization -- now lost to even the histories kept by the Arakkoans. Looming up above it all is the ruin of a grand temple, draped now in vines and flowering plants as a woman drapes herself in jewels. Hideous carvings, weathered by time and erosion, hint at screaming victims being fed to hungry crocodiles, or pierced with spears.
All is silent. But according to the map, this is the place. The captives are here somewhere, and their captors.
Stairs lead straight up and in, or perhaps another route could be found along the sides or back.
Orland doesn't care about the great cycle of life right now, thank you very much, because he doesn't want to be involved in becoming part of it! He does at least look to see if Ian is capable of keeping up, ready to wrench him along if he has too or carry him on his back. Whatever happens, when they get out of the damnable area of wasps that want to sting them to death, protecting their flower hives, he takes a minute to collect his breath.
"Hey... this is the place..." he pants as he regards the map, that got crumpled in the tackle and run show. Putting his hands on his knees as he stoops over himself, probably having given Ian his scarf back in a great hurry at some point, he notes to the structure, "I'm going to go look around for back ways in or side ways in... Taking the obvious route last time .." Does anyone need to be reminded of what they just went through?! Probably not.
Ian narrows his eyes and looks up the stairway. "There's no way that's not trapped. I think I can go up the side." He'll take care to secure some rope in case he has to drop down a significant distance, and loop it at his belt along with the scarf.
Ian checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Ian is successful.
Giorgio seems doubtful that they're alone... and quite sure that he doesn't want to be caught by himself in this place. He glances around and then eventually walks along after Ian. "Shit..." he mutters when Ian starts trying to climb the side of the temple, then heaves a sigh and tries to do the same.
Veronica studies the ruins as they approach them, biting her lip a bit at some of the imagery they seem to depict. She eyes the stairs speculatively, furrowing her brow. They're broad and open...but a frontal assault on an unknown seems unwise. She'll nod to Orland then at the thought of searching around for an alternate route. "If we have to assault the stairs, it could be messy...maybe there's a better way."
Zakhar eyes the bones in the thick covered ground, something in the man just won't let him leave them alone. Even as he tries to reach to them, the damn bugs... Shaking his head, "Fuck it." He then looks over to where Ian and Orland are giving a look, he nods to veronica. "RIGHT! Up the Stairs!" He then against all sanity... Runs up the stairs.
Orland checks perception and survival at normal. Orland is successful.
Zakhar checks perception and survival at normal. Zakhar is successful.
Veronica checks perception and survival at normal. Veronica is successful.
Cerelia decides to go along with the group searching for another route. She follows alone with Orland and Veronica. "I'll come along too."
Giorgio checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Giorgio is successful.
Cerelia checks perception and survival at normal. Cerelia is successful.
Ian is a little awkward walking around, especially in the jungle where the ground is uneven and not always visible, but the moment he switches to climbing, where he can bring his upper body strength to bear, he starts moving with real confidence. He starts by sliding his cane into a loop in his belt clearly intended for that purpose, and then just starts going up the side of the ruined temple, pausing every now and again to offer his hand to Giorgio to help him him to follow. The sight of Zakhar bolting up the stairs with bones in his hands does give him a moment of pause.
Zakhar checks perception and survival at hard. Zakhar marginally fails.
Zakhar checks dexterity and athletics at hard. Zakhar fails.
Giorgio isn't too proud to reach out and accept the offered hand from Ian. There's a reason he chose to stick near the Kennex Lord, after all. Once he gets a look at the roof, Giorgio lets out an uneasy breath before he points up toward what looks like a better vantage point to inside of the temple, but then points toward the vines and limbs they stand upon and makes a questioning gesture at Ian, the message clear... will this hold our asses up?
Picking their way along the base of the ruins, there are many openings and cracks in what were once-great walls. Veronica moves along carefully with Orland and Cerelia until they reach a breaching point in the wall. Looking within, the blonde woman is pensive, but she glances at the other two: "This looks like a possibility--but we need to find the others perhaps." And see if Zakhar is still alive somehow.
Cerelia looks around as best she can. She stays close to Orland and Vernonica. She nods to what Veronica says. "It does." She looks to Orland to see what he thinks.
Orland hears that Veronica and Cerelia are coming with him so he waits for them before setting off, looking back at Zakhar running the actual gauntlet of stairs and Ian and Giorgio climbing up the wall. It may not have been good to split up their team but that's what happens. He looks to Veronica, "It's good having you along. I'm not sure we formally met back there but I'm Orland Amadeo." He tucks the map away, offering a weak smile to Cerelia too, "We'll probably have to cut our away around the outside of the temple, but let's give it our best shot. Worst case scenario we head back." He suggests.
Lighting a lantern and jamming in into the breech in the wall, what they come across has him pause and look to both women, "I'm not sure I like the size of those plants..." he gestures toward them both, "I'd get your weapons out if you have any... but at least there's no risk of falling into them from this level, since they look to be growing from down here. I can't say what'll happen above.. if there is an above." He looks back to Veronica, "I think Ian and Giorgio were set on climbing the wall. We can go back for them, or we could see if we could nagivate the dark and meet them somewhere in the temple." He wonders thoughtfully at the plants, "One of us can go back to warn them..." he looks curious enough to proceed, snuffing the lantern out again.
The crew sneaking around the base of the temple finds that this ruin might have been once but it definitely is not now. It isn't comfortable to travel along the base of the structure, but as they do, they find that they are able to enter through a collapsed part of the wall. This brings them into a dark place like a basement -- there are some stairs to go up, though they are crumbling. Growing down here in the darkness are huge, strange pitcher plants, their roots at floor level where the team entered, and their tops reaching upward almost to the level above. Weird.
Ian and Giorgio find their way to unsteady, crumbling portions of roof -- below them, shadows and quiet. But they did manage to avoid the stairs, they probably managed to avoid traps, who would trap a crumbling roof! It seems like a good spot to descend again into the interior of the temple, if they choose to.
Zak charges pell mell up the stairs and!! The stairs were fine. The hall just above them is not fine. Failing to spot a trap, the floor falls out from underneath him, and he clings for a moment at the edge..! but can't hang on. Down he falls.
Into a giant man-eating pitcher plant.
It burns and stings, OW. The downstairs sneak crew of Orland, Veronica, and Cerelia now have company, although he's inside a plant.
Orland swears at the sound of the obvious thud that's liable to take place from a trap door opening above, "Fuck!" And then he charges into the breech, looking for the sound, knife out.
Ian gives a subtle shrug to Giorgio, and unclips the looped rope from his belt. If there's one thing a lifelong sailor knows how to do, it's tie knots, and he finds a good anchoring point, clearly preparing to rappel inside from above. He motions towards the general direction that Orland, Cerelia, and Veronica might be, and whisper to Giorgio: "Did they find a way in?"
"Veronica Keaton." The blonde Inquisitor offers to Orland briefly, though she remains focused on the task at hand. "We should go back to warn them or try to coordina--oh dear." That's a bit of an understatement as Zakhar comes barrelling in by the front way and...straight into the maw of one of the giant plants. This is a hazard Veronica hasn't faced before personally but she is fairly sure she can win a fight with a plant that isn't guarded by hell wasps. She'll do a quick wasp check before following after Orland, drawing her sword and aiming to get Zakhar out of the...how are these things staying fed normally anyway? That is a thought for much later.
A bit of a grasp... nope. Zakhar mutters to himself as his grip upon the edge is becoming less and less. "Shit..." Then falling. "Oooh squishy. Wait. Nope. no. no. no. ... fuck." Zakhar tries to kick at the plant, "I'm not dinner!"
Giorgio tries to keep an eye on the rest of their group sneaking around the temple, thought Zakhar seems to catch him off guard. "He... I think he just ran inside," he whispers back to Ian, and then there is the sound of the crash as he falls. "That didn't sound good!" he whispers in addition. "Do we need to try and get inside?" he asks, watching closely at what Ian is about to do, clearly uneasy with the prospect.
Orland finds the wiggling wobbly plant that is taking Zakhar's beating from the inside and gestures to the two women with him, "This one! This one!" He even reignites the lantern and puts it at their feet so they have light to work by, "Just don't pierce him! Please!"
Ian nods when Giorgio confirms that they've gone in. "Alright," he whispers. "I'm going to go down first. If it's too dangerous to follow, I'll give the rope two tugs. One will clear you to follow." He's not going to rush down, so it's a good thing there was someone else to get Zakhar out.
Ian checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Ian marginally fails.
"Two for follow, one for run away... got it," Giorgio whispers back to Ian, wiping sweaty hands on mud(?) covered pants.
Cerelia takes her sword and chops and cuts through the plant Orland gestures to as best she can without hurting Zakhar. "We'll get you out of there."
It's not the climbing part that's rough on Ian, it's the part where his legs are suddenly expected to take over again. He crumples under his own weight, but seems none the worse for wear, and gives the rope a single tug to clear the way for Giorgio to follow. Then he moves out of the way while he struggles back to his feet, because he doesn't want to break any falls.
Zakhar mutters, "Of ... the different ways ... tried to take ... ... going to have a laugh at this one... fuck you ... going to fry you ... with some ... when ... get out ... here."
Giorgio checks dexterity and athletics at normal. Giorgio is successful.
Giorgio wasn't expecting Ian to fall, even if it was from such a short distance as once his feet are already on the ground. If Ian were to look up, he would see the silhouette of Giorgio in the hole above looking down at him with obvious concern. Then there is the tug on the rope and the Marquis of Tremorus is confused. "Ahhh... shit... what was the code? Is one run away or come inside..." he mutters to himself. He looks back inside and down at Ian, and /almost/ yells in to ask, but then just decides to go for it. His descent is not graceful, but he does manage to slide down the rope and remain on his feet once inside. He slips his bow from his shoulder and offers a nod toward Ian, trying not to look too impressed with himself.
Giorgio wields cupridium longbow.
Zakhar wields braided handle spoon from flatware set.
It seems strange that there is no one in evidence, no one to 'welcome' them with spears or arrows after that glimpse of strangers in the wild. Maybe it wasn't the right jungle barbarians. But how many groups could there be out here...? Aren't they all the same? An interesting question, but perhaps one for another day...
Ian and Giorgio manage to make a descent through their crumbling roof, and though the angle of the sun casts dark shadows in the interior here, they manage safely and are perhaps beyond the traps that poor Zakhar fell into. Zak himself got to experience the ingenuity of the lowland jungle tribes, having fallen not upon spikes or snakes, but a giant carnivorous plant. It'd be a difficult, slippery situation to get out of, so much like a trapped beetle in that situation, if not for the work of his friends. Cerelia, Veronica, and Orland manage to hack a hole in the pitcher plant with their blades, and Zakhar is freed, in a wash of clean-smelling but burning acidic liquid from within the plant. The digestive juices!
As the downstairs crew manages to make their way back up their crumbling stairs, they find themselves nearby Ian and Giorgio, and soon reunited. From this place within the temple, they can begin to hear it... drums, faintly, and perhaps chanting?
There is only one path forward from here but as they creep forth through the temple a fair distance, they come to a high point overlooking... well. They've found the captives.
A long line of captives is being held by the jungle barbarians, who are drumming and chanting, armed and armored. One by one, they are cutting the throats of the Arakkoan prisoners, and toppling them into a pit, where something unseen makes rumbling, unholy noises. Spotting invaders, the ceremony is disrupted, they begin to shout and point!
The ritualists don't seem surprised to see their guests so much as annoyed. The drums beat faster, and they attempt to quicken their pace of sacrifices. The captives, however, spotting hope, begin to resist more strongly!
Orland helps to hack and saw the plant that houses Zakhar and it's going to be like a birthing moment when Zakhar comes out to be sure! As well as all the burning liquid that gets on them. Orland helps to wrestle Zakhar out of the plants, "Don't scare me like that old man..." Orland grunts. Then Ian and Giorgio are there and they're reunited, yay! "Looks like there was one way in afterall..." He eyes the tunnel through and hears the drumming, lifting the lantern up to light the way.
The enemies are as follows: A warrior leader we will call Jawbone, since he is wearing a human lower jaw as part of a necklace. Three warriors called Red (he has red war paint), Black-glass (she has an obsidian spear), and Smoky Eye (for his dramatic black eye paint). There are also three acolyte types who don't look very tough.
"Oooh. Hallo light." Zakhar slides out of the plant, slimy, pissed, holding his spoon and swinging it at the liquid as he just sits there looking up at Orland. A faint grin under his beard, then washed away as Orland is yelling at him. He looks back at the plant then to the lordling. "I... Um... Okay." Zakhar takes a moment to push his now very slimy hair back and looks over to Cerelia and Veronica, quietly and with some humility, "thank you pretty ladies." The drumming pulls him out of the trance he's in, a new grin on his face. "time for dinner?"
Zakhar wields eyeball and headache remover.
Orland checks command and performance at easy. Orland is marginally successful.
Orland huffs at Zakhar then makes his way behind the rest of the group edging toward the outcrop that exposes the captives and their barbarian holders. He thinks about it and shifts off his pack, setting it to the side as he digs through his pockets and then steps up on a rock. He pulls out a stone amulet that he found in the last jungle experience and thrusts it out, the stone crocodile swinging in his hand, and he tries to use his BARITONE to reach down to the slayers of the captives, speaking first in Arakkoan and then in Arvani, "LEAVE! OR DIE!" It's simple Arakkoan and he tries to be very threatening! He's a bard. He's in a play soon. He's dramatic! He flourishes!!
Giorgio checks dexterity and archery at easy. Giorgio marginally fails.
Veronica checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Critical Success! Veronica is spectacularly successful.
Zakhar checks strength and archery at hard. Zakhar marginally fails.
Ian hangs from the edge of the cliff/wall/embankment from one arm and drops down, and by this device manages to avoid a repeat performance of having his legs fold under him when he lands. That having been said, he's a sweaty, dirt-smudged man with a cane who wasn't able to just jump down like a goddamned action hero, so he doesn't exactly look impressive, and takes a lot of power from what he says next to the jungle shavs: "Run. This will be your only chance." Then he closes, and draws an alaricite sword from within his cane at the last moment, to strike.
Ian checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Ian marginally fails.
Cerelia checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Cerelia is successful.
Veronica steps back a bit as Zakhar slides out of the plant, largely intact. At least the plant doesn't smell like a corpse or something, also she would like to register an objection, this jungle has too many kinds of plants. Once they've re-assembled as a group she'll follow down the tunnel with the others, expression going determined as she hears the drums beating. That determination turns to anger as she sees the captives being sacrificed to something--something evil.
She already had her sword drawn to fight the giant pitcher plant, so now it's just a matter of leaping down to the sacrificial area and lunging in at a dead run. She's aims for Red, as he's the nearest of the throat-cutters in action. The suddenness and fury of her assault catches him off-guard and she cleanly slices his throat in return for all his acts against others. "For the Compact! For the Gods! This heresy ends!"
Giorgio doesn't leap down like a hero. His bow is already in hand, so he simply pulls an arrow from his quiver and fits it to the string. Looking down at the targets, he eyes Jawbone... and then shifts to a wimpier looking target. One that looks slow. Pulling the string, he lets the arrow fly but it goes slightly wide, clattering lamely against the floor.
Zakhar doesn't even bother with giving these fools a warning. He simply starts to pull back on the string and setting the latch to the crossbow. Arrow in the channel, leaning over the ledge and finding a target. And... A lovely shot directly to the ground. The old man looks at he channel, where he aimed then shakes his head. "Fuck this shit. Should have stuck with what I know." He's mumbling to himself again. The cross bow is swung back to its position upon his back, and the frying pan is brought out. A little spin of the handle. And he pops down with the others that are screaming warnings to start serving dinner.
Zakhar wields small frying pan with sharpened rim and leather grip.
Cerelia decides to fight Black-glass. She gets her cutlass ready and does her best to avoid her spear while fighting her. As she wounds Black-glass she stays on guard.
Orland seems to have in his possession a pair of strange amulets -- one wood and one stone with beads, in the shape of crocodiles, recovered from the bodies of other jungle barbarians on a previous trip. His command is met with distress by two of the acolytes -- they drop their weapons and run, frightened by whatever they have seen. Engaged in fighting, the other enemies are undeterred.
Ian doesn't /look/ like a terrifying foe. Those of us who know Ian are well aware he is a terrifying foe... but this warrior leader, the man with the jaw-bone necklace, does not know him. He is not impressed. "I tell you to run." His Arvani is very bad, his tone mocking, as he hefts a war club. "Do not think you can." He will probably pay for that comment... in blood, but he seems very cocky now.
If these people have a goddess of death, perhaps they might feel that Veronica embodies it as ehe flies towards them and strikes, cutting the throat of the Red-painted man as surely as he cut his victims! He only has a chance to gurgle and fall into his own pit. Seizing opportunities, the Arakkoan captives run from the edge of the pit, trying to free one another from their bindings.
While Giorgio and Zak don't have a lot of luck, Cerelia does better by wounding the woman with the obsidian spear! The drummers have stopped, trying to restrain captives again, and pandemonium is afoot!
Ian checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Ian is successful.
Zakhar checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Zakhar fails.
Veronica checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Critical Success! Veronica is spectacularly successful.
Ian closes with Jawbone and draws the blade from within his cane, cutting with the same motion in a strike telegraphed enough that the chief is able to step out of the way. Ian's expression has settled from it's usual flat calm to a more profound, more relaxed calm, his expression serene while his electric blue eyes sharpen. He's got the 'sheathe' part of his cane sword, the other part of the cane, in his off hand as a sort of parrying dagger, and he uses this to turn aside the strike aimed at him in return.
Cerelia checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Cerelia is successful.
Orland checks dexterity and small wpn at hard. Orland is successful.
Ian checks dexterity and medium wpn at hard. Ian is successful.
Veronica checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Veronica is successful.
Cerelia checks dexterity and medium wpn at normal. Cerelia marginally fails.
Giorgio checks charm and propaganda at normal. Giorgio is successful.
Orland realizes his preformance wasn't as great as it should be and quickly descends down to get into the thick of fighting. He tries to WAGGLE WAVE the amulets at the drummers to chase them off too, but the captives have to really fend for themselves as he's coming into swinging range of the club holding Jawbone. Maybe Jawbone doesn't see him coming but the knife scores a very deep hit behind Jawbone, somewhere near a kidney shot. He likes those. He bounces back in time to allow Ian to take advantage of the needling distraction he's caused!
Giorgio growls as his arrow goes awry. Stepping forward Giorgio steps to the edge of the platform and looks down on his people. "Arakkoans!" Giorgio calls out in Arakkoan. "Fight for your lives! Fight to overthrow the ones who destroyed our home! The ones that killed our Marquessa! Fight for your freedom and future!" His voice rings out loud and commanding, proud of his people... even though he may be covered in gorilla shit.
Having jumped into the fray and slain one target, Veronica now looks about for another--she's aiming for the cultists who seem to be responsible for most of the direct killing. The one with the obsidian spear takes a lunge at her, but it was like trying to stab at smoke as the Inquisitor parried the blow and stepped inside her reach, skewering the woman neatly on the counterstroke. That's two of the main murderers down, while the others duel the leader behind her. She whirls to face Smoky-Eye, her expression full of threat.
Ian falls into a flanking position with Orland, trying to keep Jawbone focused on him rather than the Amadeo lord, and delivers the chief a nasty slice across a bicep. "I don't generally have to do a lot of running." His level voice is conversational, if serious.
Ian checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Ian is successful.
Orland checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Orland fails.
Zakhar checks strength and small wpn at hard. Zakhar marginally fails.
Zakhar heads into the thick of it all, a small grin as he looks over to those fighting and then points the frying pan at the tallest, largest in the group.
Ian and Orland are teaching punishing manners lessons to Jawbone, who has stopped his shit-talking because it's hard to do that in a foreign language, and especially hard when you're getting your ass beat. He moves in a fevered way, harder and faster than a person normally would, striking quickly and seeking punishing blows against his enemies. His eyes are dilated as if on some kind of drug...
Giorgio's efforts to encourage the captives are successful as they take hope, and begin to fight back against the cultist drummers trying to restrain them! They've been hurt, and no doubt watched terrible things happen to their fellows, but they are regaining their hope...
Zakhar isn't quite quick enough to stab Jawbone, while Veronica with her usual ferocious grace dispatches the wielder of the black glass tipped spear. Cerelia makes a narrow miss, and the fight continues...
Zakhar checks dexterity and dodge at hard. Zakhar is successful.
Cerelia checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Botch! Cerelia fails completely.
Veronica checks dexterity and dodge at normal. Veronica is successful.
Zakhar checks strength and small wpn at hard. Zakhar is successful.
Cerelia checks 'permanent wound save' at hard. Cerelia fails.
Cerelia has suffered a serious wound!
Cerelia checks 'unconsciousness save' at normal. Cerelia is successful.
Cerelia remains capable of fighting.
Giorgio checks command and propaganda at hard. Giorgio is successful.
Orland checks dexterity and small wpn at normal. Orland is successful.
Ian checks dexterity and medium wpn at easy. Ian is successful.
Cerelia checks dexterity and medium wpn at easy. Cerelia is successful.
Veronica checks dexterity and medium wpn at easy. Veronica is successful.
Zakhar looks back to Jawbone and is just done. Bugs, plants, this guy... He swings with the frying pan all of his might behind it.
Ian wasn't even watching what happened to Cerelia, or so it seemed; he seemed pretty focused on Jawbone. But suddenly, unexpectedly, he whirls and delivers smoky eye a vicious gash across his face with a full strength swing of his sword, cutting around and down, so something must have registered at the edge of his consciousness, enough that he knew exactly how to move to give smoky eye, now one-eye, a new nickname. Not that he's going to live to use it.
Orland takes a pretty massive hit from Jawbone's club, not able to dodge as quickly as needed after giving him a kidney shot. That's the trouble with smaller weapons, they risk the opposition being able to counter quicker than he's physically able to. Seeing Ian break off but Zakhar step in with that frying pan, Orland spots the opportunity to leap at Jawbone and stab his alaricite blade into the back of the other's neck. It's not a pretty death and is probably quite painful to suddenly lose all control of his lower body as spine is severed... but it's also fatal as with a hacking wrench, he jars back against the spine and severes it.
The fighting is fierce, but tilting steadily in favor of the Arvani and Arrakoans. After dispatching Black-glass, Veronica circled around to try and and get a shot in at Smoky-Eye, but the acolyte and the pit left her out of position to strike at him, even as he struck Cerelia a terrible blow. "No!" She'll shout in dismay, but Ian is there soon enough--and Giorgio is calling out encouragement and it seems to be enough to keep them all on their feet. Almost as an afterthought she twitches her blade out once more and skewers the last remaining acolyte neatly, trying not to see the fear in the young man's eyes--he made the choice to serve the Abyss.
Cerelia is hurt but she manages to stay on her feet. She gives Ian an appreciative look. She uses what strength she has left takes her cutlass and swings it right at Smoky Eye. With Ian's gash possibly distracting him she manages to get her revenge.
Giorgio watches as the fight unfolds, calling out encouragement to the Arakkoan and Arvani alike. The battle seems to be going largely in their favor when Cerelia takes such a rough hit and he winces. As soon as the last man falls, Giorgio starts in Cerelia's direction, seeking to make sure that his cousin is alright.
The fighting is bloody as Orland and Cerelia take painful wounds off their enemies, a reminder that fighting the barbarians of the lowland jungles, on their home turf, is a dangerous proposition. But both of them strike their vengeance back tenfold, as encouraged by the leadership of this island's leader -- Marquis Giorgio, of the House of Proscipi!
Although Cerelia in particular is badly hurt... she is an Arakkoan. This island is her home, and the fire of the mountain runs through her veins! These are the jungle barbarians who allied with Eurus, who have killed her family, destroyed her city, and now imprisoned her countrymen as captives. She will not have it, and her strike against Smokey-eye is sure and brutal, adding to Lord Ian's skillful, precise damage to send this cultist to whatever gods await him.
Veronica would have been shown no mercy by this acolyte, and she rightfully shows none to him -- he was shoving bound captives into a pit. He gets what's coming to him. Meanwhile, Jawbone finds himself clobbered in THE most unlikely fashion... by a pan... to the serious damage of his face. Orland probably knows that feel, and yet, he is merciless as he cuts the man down the rest of the way.
After the fighting has stilled, it becomes clear that the cultist drummers -- they are no warriors -- have just fled the premises entirely, and the captives are quickly freed. Finally alive with desperate hope, they lead their rescuers to other parts of the temple, where cell after cell, other prisoners taken at the Siege of Tremorus are finally restored to freedom. There are supplies to be recovered as well, and a little chest of silver that perfectly fits a key Orland found some time back, but the true joy here is the look of the captives as they are victims no longer, as the aid of their allies has brought them back into their identities as a fierce, proud people. But should anyone look into The Pit... there is nothing there. Nothing at all. No monsters, no bones. How mysterious.
The trek back through the jungle seems shorter, easier, brighter on the way home. Lives have been saved, so many of them, and there is brightness in this world. Even if there are also a lot of evil plants in this world.
For what has been done here, Tremorus heals, and prospers.
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