Diary Entry 2: Day 1 in the jungle:
Our first day out was relatively uneventful. The grassland gave way to a sparse jungle, and we made camp beneath a large tree. The night went by without occurrence. In the morning, Rava was kind enough to find some fruit for our breakfast, thus saving our provisions. Though we have a week’s worth thanks to the kindness of the innkeeper’s wife, it is always good to err on the side of caution in unfamiliar territory. Better yet, Rava and Zumak seem to have set aside their quarrel now that we are finally underway.
As we left town, there was a slight altercation with the gatekeeper. I hope it will not come back to haunt us. The less memorable we are the better, I think. Unfortunately the man was quite touchy to begin with. Zumak’s poor choice of words were an insult he did not seem ready to let go. I had already planned to give the man 5 gold in addition to however much Sgt Stryker gave him for his information. If anything, he might have been inclined to hold his tongue if any shady individuals came asking after us, but when Zumak referred to the coins the Sgt was offering as a bribe (and with Karth none too quietly asking about prostitution!), I was forced to give Zumak a mild dressing down to cool the guard’s ire. I hope I have not offended Zumak in the process. I still passed the guard 5 gold, but now he will associate it more with unpleasantness and thus be more inclined to betray us out of spite despite my gift.
Diary Entry 3: Day 2 in the Jungle: Water, water, everywhere, but mostly in Rava! It was not until the second day out that Karth told us he felt some presence behind us. It was about this time that we came to a wide and fast moving river. Not knowing what might be following, animal or otherwise, we moved down river to a fallen tree which jutted from the bank. Zumak chose to go off a ways among the trees to lie in wait for whatever, or whoever, was on our trail. Little did he know that his ambush would be ambushed.
While we were gathered by the river, trying to decide how best to get across, a strange reptile bird tried to make a meal of Zumak. We beat the thing, but it was hard work. In the end, we collected a few pretty feathers and talons for our efforts, and some meat for our supplies and then went back to the river.
Tying my giant rope (haha) around his waist, Rava took a running leap from the fallen tree. Sadly, he fell quite short and nearly drowned before we could pull him back in. Fortunately, he happened to spy a bridge farther down stream, which made our crossing much easier. Arriving at the bridge however, we were dismayed at its poor condition. I had serious misgivings about crossing, but once again my “giant” rope came in handy.
Tying the rope to one side of the shore, the lightest member of our party went across and tied the other end to a tree, giving added stability to the woebegone bridge. I, as the heaviest, went last, tying the rope to my waist just in case the bridge would not take the weight of my armor.
The bridge did not fail, but therein lay the issue. Karth informed us that he still had a feeling that there was someone or something behind us. We argued over what to do about the bridge. Some of my fellow adventures were set to sabotage it so that the next person to cross would fall into the river and drown. I argued that anyone might cross the bridge next, including some innocent person from the town. It was better to leave the bridge as it was or cut it completely. I was sure I would be voted down, but Sgt Stryker agreed with me and in the end, we destroyed the bridge behind us.
Of course, not much later we came upon another one. If I read the terrain right, we had simply cut a bridge to a loop of the river, in effect a short cut. We left the second bridge intact, though we again used my rope to safeguard our crossing. It seemed a waste of time to take down the second bridge behind us when anyone following could simply go around.
Diary entry 4: Day 3 in the jungle: Our rest was once again uneventful. Though Sgt Stryker’s strange little pet disappeared in the night, he was back by morning with fruit. It seems likely he was only foraging, but where magic is concerned, one can never be too careful. Rava foraged for our meal once more, and I added to it the meat from the reptile bird we killed yesterday.
The tree canopy is now thick enough for Rava to make his way and keep an eye out for any monsters in our path. The soil had deteriorated into deep pools of water and mud which suck at every step. Even so, our journey continued to be uneventful up until we discovered an obelisk embedded in the swampy land. It was written in many scripts, but thankfully one was in Quori, and I was able to translate a riddle of sorts. Cyton puzzled it out readily enough, and we settled in to wait for “the moon to reveal what the sun obscured.”
Entry 5: Day 3, the evening: It was a marvel to behold the ancient ruins materialize out of air. We easily discerned that we were to use the runes we were shown at the outset of our mission to gain entry. As Cyton pressed them, the door was unlocked, and we entered the eons dead city of the giants. Within, all was silent. In the second room, we encountered two giant statues with strange, tentacled heads, studded with many jewels instead of eyes. Though I counseled against it, Zumak pried the jewels from the stone. Whether or not the statues were spellbound guardians or religious relics, I did not feel it was worth the risk to desecrate them. We explored the rest of the level but found little else. Cyton took a cup containing the dried remains of some liquid. Wine? Poison? It remains to be seen.
With little to peak our interest on the first floor, we slowly descended the stairs leading down. This was due more to their size than any caution on our part. In fact, if there had been anything lying in wait for us, the mad gonging of my armor as I dropped from one step to the next was sure to have alerted it to our arrival. At this point, Sgt Stryker’s monkey companion fled in terror, while the rest of us felt varying levels of unease the further we descended.
At the bottom of the stairs, we finally beheld our goal… little good it did us. In the middle of the room was a mirror and reflected in the mirror was the Dragon shard. Zumak immediately took the potion of levitation and floated up to grab it. But the shard was an illusion! It seemed the mirror was the key. It allowed Rava and Sgt Stryker to put a hand through, but rejected Cyton, Zumak, and myself. I even attempted to break it. Broken, the shard would either be ours or lost for all time. In all honesty, I would have preferred the latter. There would be no need to guard it if it was beyond all reach. Alas, the mirror was indifferent to my fist.
Thus it was time to get crafty. Sgt Stryker entered the mirror in an attempt to retrieve the shard but whatever was on the other side scrambled his brains. I hope it is not permanent! Next Zumak attempted to swing Rava into the mirror. This was more successful, though Rava was also affected by his time on the other side. As he exited with the shard however, the entire phantom structure began to crumble.
Using my rope and grappling hook, we made faster progress than we might have otherwise, but still we were quite shaken up when we reached the entry way and found our way blocked by strange cadaverous tentacled creatures. At first I thought they might be some emissary of the statues Zumak had effaced, but no, that would have been too simple. Instead, our foe had finally showed his hand, the missing professor and his students in tow.
As the villain threatened his prisoners, seeming to kill the two students when we refused to hand over the shard, I ask Sgt Stryker for the crystal. For the second time, I attempted to destroy the thing, this time by smashing it under my heel. When this did not work however, I shoved it down the front of my armor. Not our enemies wouldn’t search us if we fell, but the delay might offer a chance to win free even at the end.
It was surprisingly easy to take down the tentacled monstrosities, though I feel we were simply lucky. In so far as our unknown enemy got the drop on us, our magic users leveled the playing field a bit, summoning an obscuring fog and putting most of the soldiers to sleep. Before the battle was done, our mysterious foe disappeared, leaving his incapacitated guards and prisoners where they lay. The coward.
Unfortunately, we do not know what has been done to the professor and his students. All are alive, but as Rava attempted to heal the professor, it only seemed to make his condition worse! Of the remaining guards, one is dead, and the others unconscious. Considering the danger they have placed the entire world in, they are too dangerous to live. Killing them in their sleep is the more compassionate act if we intend to execute them however. I will not argue with Cyton over dispatching them, though I think we should keep one alive for questioning. We’ll be encumbered enough by the professor and his students without worrying about marching prisoners three days back to Stormreach. Considering the condition of the professor and his students, we face a five day journey at the very least.