Saga of the Serpent's Skull

Taizon the Terrible
Compressed because I'm seriously lazy

The adventuring party arrives at Taizon. Things happen.

1.) They are attacked by monkies, and are underwhelmed.
2.) They attack monkies, and mess up some freaky octopus hiding in a well of indeterminate size.
3.) They find a tower filled with snakes that only goes down, not up.
4.) The tunnel tower leads to the aqueducts, and a water elemental janitor. Shrug, leave.
5.) They attack monkies in a giant trapped temple, some of which fall into asphalt, some of which are guarding the Shedding Pit and some oppressed natives, some of which are end-bosses, all of which are small and easily sucked into aqueous orbs.

Days on the trail: 54

After resting and recuperating, things continue to happen.

6.) They make their way into an ancient Azlanti ziggurat, where they kill serpentfolk and explore.
7.) There are many, many rooms in here. Most of which are pointlessly empty, others having minute amounts of loot.
8.) There are some idols here, each suffering without their stones. One of them zaps the Oread into next week.
9.) A serpentfolk mage is killed. More stones are acquired.
10.) Oh, there’s also a death-pit with rolling block walls pushing people into said pit, which then fills with poison gas.
11.) The party is teleported into a small shrine room which reveals the location of Saventh-Yhi. They leave via another teleport.

Days on the trail: 55.6

After this hearty dose of adventuring, they return to their faction camp and report their findings to Kassata. While resting up and forging magic items, Akker has a vision granted by his Shoanti totem spirits: headless snakes burrowing from a dead tree standing atop a mound. The tree collapses into the Oread’s tent in Akker’s attempt to destroy them, which turn to roots in the thews of his mighty bear-paws. Surviving root-serpents slither off to meet another batch of headless snakes, dessicated and moldy. The sign is clear; he tells everyone to be on the lookout for snakes, and meets derision, scorn, and Lash.

Meanwhile, Aerys asks them to look into some missing pirate foragers. They do so, and are ambushed by a batch of serpentfolk warriors, who are hastily dispatched. Also, a fiendish Tyrannosaur, used as a simple mount by the serpent leader. A furious battle ensues wherein everyone involved learns something new about the fiendish template. Akker stands on it after dying in another life, Kahlua punches it ineffectually, the T-Rex flails around like an Oread being trod upon, and everyone else runs forth to attack the beast’s rider, who is preoccupied laughing hideously from the humor of Tasha.

A lucky blow from the Oread places the monster in a coma; Pezock discovers whether dinosaurs blend, and the partially digested corpses of three pirates are found within its stinking gullet. All in all, a good day; Kahlua’s earlier misfortune is (possibly) made up for, but it is unclear whether she wishes to become the Oread in the dead men’s tent. (Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!)

From here… Saventh-Yhi!

Days on the trail: 67.3

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On a Long and Lonesome Highway East of Eledar

After an uneventful night, our insipid heroes—-save Kahlua, who slept in a stable, with horse at her head and donkey at her knee, and Thorodd, who wandered the city in search of the fabled Cerberus (or at least his lesser-known cousin)—-awoke and trundled off towards the tavern for refreshment. An unexpected but impressive fireworks show greeted Aldis as he left Chiton’s abode; a pack of rabid thugs attacks, but are soundly thrashed, leaving behind Thief School 101 gear and glyphs of the Open Road.

Thorodd decides that the best use of the visions sent to him from beyond is to start an orphanarium, and thus stays behind. (At least until the venture goes belly-up, and he is run out of town resulting from a “buy one orphan, get one free” sale gone horribly, horribly wrong.)

Outfitted with a shiny rotten old raft, they set down the River of Lost Tears to the Lake of Vanished Armies, passing locales with similarly impressive sobriquets. Falling under a spell of gold-frenzy, they set out in search of a sunken Chelaxian treasure ship. Its guardian is a spawn of Aomak, the sea-serpent whose coils wrap ’round the Lake; it is driven off in disgrace. There is much looting and rejoicing.

Weeks pass, which include such inspiring events as an ambush from hostile natives and a hippo attack. Venturing forth into the screaming jungle, where day becomes as night, our heroes are waylaid by a ferocious dire ape, one which has slain the Pathfinder trailblazing party and claimed their Thief School 101 gear for their own. Upon Hauk splitting its body asunder with his mighty axe, a foul demon emerges, much to the detriment of the party. They are ravaged, and it dies.

Undeterred, our brave heroes continue forth, and kill a necromancer and his graverisen troll some days later. But things progress badly once more two nights later, when Vanua, Erethemos, even brave Bellow the bear are ensnarled in the web of ill-sorcery. The oread affirms that yes, it is a sentient being which can be affected by mind-affecting spells and spell-like abilities, in the worst possible way. The offenders turn out to be a peculiar race of shape-changing jungle spriggan gnome things; they are slain, their luring bell is taken a prize, and much speculation of its future uses is had by all.

Closing on their goal, our addled adventurers stumble upon a quartet of alluring sirens doing their laundry down by the river, who invite these mighty adventurers into their hut down by the river, to partake of a feast of fruit, fish, and frog-legs. Woe! Tragedy spills forth as the ill-tempered harlot leading this hut of lustful harpies is revealed to be a demon put on this mortal plane for purposes of corrupting the souls of men. Men such as Hauk, who leaps to her aid, and Aldis, who leaps outside to count all the grains of sand on the beach. Between the aqueous sorcery of Akker and the fists of Kahlua, Hauk is freed, the succubus slain, and revels are had on behalf of the joyously freed trio of spirit dancers. Painful tattoos and more frog-legs are provided, as well as hints to the fate of the ruins which they seek.

The next morning, everyone is woken by the sounds of splashing, the howling of dog and the blaring of trumpet. It is one of their rivals, the Pathfinders, having surmounted the Korir River as well. After a minor scuffle born of envy and lies, the party makes haste into the M’neri Plains.

Where they stumble across a dinosaur, trekking across the flowing field of grass and flower. Abandoning this peaceful herbivore, they are later attacked by a clever pair of juvenile Allosaurs, which are slain at much cost of sweat, blood, and scorching rays.

Days on the Trail: 46.3

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To Kalabuto

After the marvelous cockfight, Aldis hung around for a while to discuss magic monkey heads with some withered crone while Akker taught his new chicken friend to carry messages for him. Eventually it was time to leave the clump of pitiful dirt farmers behind and make haste to Kalabuto. Along the road the party met a trade caravan and bartered for supplies and then came upon a village full of effusively friendly natives who gave them food and did not murder or poison them for some reason. Late at night, the village elder appeared and revealed the truth: the village was plagued by the murderous gorilla-bear beasts known as Chemosits and needed aid. The pale/rock-skinned foreigners would have most certainly already been forced into the stewpot if not for this great need!

The old woman sat on a rock by the campfire and spoke to a rock near the campfire. She told Vanua and Hauk how the chemosit would steal into the village and abduct the unwary. It would drag them off into the brush where it would split their heads open like a melon to get at the delicious brains. The old woman promised a reward if the adventurers could slay the chemosits, or at least drive them away to split other people’s skulls like a melon.

At dawn the party conferred and tracked the vicious monsters to their lair in the woods. A pair of them dropped from the trees and very nearly split Vanua’s stony skull open like a rock melon. Bellow the Bear sprang into action alongside Hauk’s axe and Thorodd tended to the monk’s extensive wounds. With a mighty blow, one of the chemosits split Lash’s head open like a melon and sent him back to Parts Unknown. Erethemos summoned a celestial dog to protect the party just as a third chemosit thundered out of the trees intent on splitting Akker’s head like a melon. Through careful application of battle tactics and fire, the group slew the chemosits and were rewarded back in the village with a magic monkey head and a treasure map showing the location of lost underwater gold. Soon!

The party soldiered on towards Kalabuto, past creepy-ass undead and giant vultures to find another merchant caravan. They agreed to travel together but this, in retrospect, was a mistake. The “merchants” ambushed with poison in the night and Vanua’s Parade of Misadventures continues when her neck is very nearly slashed open by a Red Mantis Assassin. Upon further investigation the caravan is revealed as a sham, provided with not even the most basic of rape whistles and silk rope for trade. It all had to burn.

The party finally reaches Kalabuto and does a bit of shopping. An unctuous urchin girl attaches herself to Thorrod and they spend much of the day looking for a rumored two-headed dog (what a sight!) before everyone is reminded of the mission. The party reconvenes on the waterfront at the Shrunken Head Tavern where they make rendezvous with the dwarf Chiton, who holds the key to the next leg of the journey. He is a dwarf of broad experience and awesome goggles and leads the group in a night of heavy drinking and boasting before offering everyone a place to crash (except Vanua, who he worries will put a divot in the couch.)

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Into the Expanse

Having found a patron and a guide, the party set out from the colonial city of Eleder in search of storied Saventh-Yi, golden city of fallen Azlant. While the Free Captains of the Shackles prepared their caravan, Aerys Mavato passed down the orders: the party was to serve as scouts ahead of the main expedition and blaze a path through the plains of Sargava to the interior city of Kalabuto. In Kalabuto, they were to meet with a dwarven explorer and provisioner by the name of Chiton who would further outfit them for the next leg of the journey, to the ruins of Taizon and thence to Saventh-Yi.

And so the whole adventuring group, Pezock in tow, set out on the dusty trail westward. At the feet of the Bandu hills the party saw the opportunity to take a shortcut through an abandoned salt mine. A wild woman with a dinosaur companion confronted them near the gate. This was the daughter of the mine’s owner, orphaned and abandoned in the wilderness in her youth by the arrival of ravening undead in the mine. She offered her services as a guide if the party would enter the tunnels and retrieve a last memento of her slain family. Akker led the way and nearly stumbled into an acidic crystal ooze; nearly. Deeper in the caves were salt-encrusted ghouls whom the party burnt and beat into true death, despite their attempts to salt-cure the group in falling rocks. On the corpses and in a lockbox the group found the deed to the mine, and the family heirloom they sought. The ghouls guarded not only treasure, but a huge crystal orb pulsing with blue light an malevolence. Turnabout is fair play, and the druid magically coaxed the ceiling to collapse onto the orb, shattering it and snuffing out its dread light. The group gave the locket and the deed to the mine’s rightful owner and she led the party by secret paths back to the trail to Kalabuto.

Continuing, the scouts happened on an exciting cockfight about to run in a corral on the edge of a small village along the road. The reigning champion, Cornugon, was set to fight a fiery young upstart grandly titled “Muddy Liza”. Any qualms about the ethics of cockfighting were swept aside by building excitement for the main event as the party made their bets. Great competition can be had even in a dusty nameless town in the Mwangi Expanse. Cornugon had an august record and was favored to win 2:1 and Vanua, Erethemos, Hauk and Aldis set their token on him, while Akker and Thorrod (rugged northerners who knew the value of grit and determination) rooted for the underdog. Most of the spectators took up viewing positions around the edge of the fence, but before the fight began both sides wove upon their champions intricate layers of eldritch power, raising the already magnificent stakes even higher.

All around the center of the arena, a choir of thirteen virgin priestesses of the gods of good sang a hymn to the spirit of victory. The High Magistrate gave his wordless sign and court eunuchs clad all in silver and chalcedony raised their mallets and struck the ancient starmetal gong atop the ziggurat. The pure, clear tone thundered for miles as the fight began. Cornugon struck first.

Cornugon the Great. Conugon the Prideful.

Cornugon whose mind is pure machinery!
Cornugon whose blood is running money!
Cornugon whose fingers are ten armies!
Cornugon whose breast is a cannibal dynamo!
Cornugon whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Cornugon! Cornugon!
Nightmare of Cornugon!
Cornugon the loveless!
Mental Cornugon!
Cornugon the heavy judger of men!

In his haste to dispatch such a meager opponent, the once-champion became entangled in his own sable finery. Mudy Liza struck at once, with all the fury of a people long oppressed. He wore the humble brown and noble mien of one who knows that the greatest power is mastery over one’s self. Cornugon was rent and torn asunder that day on the field of strife. The sky darkened and Lash, called then the World-Serpent, emerged from a tear in the clouds and reached his maw towards the shattered Cornugon. Before the fallen champion could be consumed by divine judgement, The Oracle spoke for the first time in more than a century. His voice, rough with long disuse, entreated the Powers for mercy. Cornugon had once been great, he said, and deserved reprieve from consumption in the fires of the All-Furnace. The Beast in the sky signaled his assent and retreated from whence he came. Cornugon would not die today, but his power was forever broken.

Meanwhile, Akker jumped over the fence, grabbed Muddy Liza and ran off towards the Bandu Hills to await the other adventurers. Everyone decided not to eat the remaining chicken. The man taking the bets claimed they cheated (which is clearly false) and wouldn’t give Thorrod his winnings. After some persuasion and intimidation, he forked over the cash and slunk off to his hovel.

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The Race Is On!

Meanwhile, in another part of town…

Hauk and Aldis, out searching for supplies, are waylaid by some rebels. A hypnotism spell deflates their exuberance, and Hauk makes quick work of the remainder. After stopping at the inn and picking up Pezock (plus disguise), the two catch up on the recent-goings on with the rest of the party.

Given the situation, Aerys asks if they can seek out a guide to lead the caravan through the wilderness, and sends them after a nearby cleric of Gozreh, Nkechi, an experienced guide. After killing his crabs and surmounting a cliff to his dwelling, Nkechi requires the party to pass two tests in order to prove their worth: the test of water and the test of air.

The test of water involves finding a black pearl; Akker manages this, in the form of a squid, having fought off a kelpie in the process. The test of air, on the other hand, is different: march south to Gozreh’s crest, and pluck a feather from a large tropical bird. Arriving, the group climbed up the cliff, plucked a feather from the empty nest, and descended to find a group of natives waiting nearby. As the bird is considered sacred to Gozreh, the natives demanded a wrestling match for the party to retain their prize;n Akker proceeded to have a mano-a-mano wrestling match, and though the struggle went back and forth, he was in the end victorious.

Returning to Nkechi, the wizened old cleric took everyone into the dream realm, reforming in the guise of jungle animals (for the most part), wherein the group saw the rise and fall of an ancient Azlanti city carved out of the jungle. Suddenly, they were attacked by a dark serpentine form with the voice of Yarzoth, but gradually beat it into submission. Awaking, Nkechi agreed to act as a guide; returning to the city, Aerys told the group to rest well, for the caravan left on the morrow, and save for some lingering dream-poison (and Hauk’s sound sleeping) the group left without incident as scheduled.

Days on the trail: 3.25

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Session Seven
Because nobody cares about session six

The party managed to slay a gibbering mouther and escape the hidden temple of the Cult of Zura. Returning to the lighthouse, the signal for help was lit, the NPCs having fixed the lighthouse. After catching the attention of the schooner Red Gull, and working out a deal with captain Aulek Tegerten, noted scimitar enthusiast, the survivors of the Jenivere set sail for Sargava once more.

Finally arriving at the port city of Eleder, the party went their separate ways. Korgoth continued on his quest to bring the Gorumskagat to Sargava and convert its inhabitants. Aldis and Hauk went off to acquire spells and supplies for the party. The NPCs wandered off to tend to their duties: Jask cleared his name, Aerys published her epic poem, and Gelik took credit for everything the PCs had performed on Smuggler’s Shiv, retelling the epic Pathfinder Chronicle of his bear-riding adventures without bothering to mention either Jask or Vanua (yet spending an entire chapter on Pezock, and concocting a sordid affair between Sasha and Korgoth).

After hiring a translator and spending the better half of a week translating Yarzoth’s notes from Aklo into common, the group caught up on the discoveries. The notes revealed the history of the Cult of Zura and its flight to Smuggler’s Shiv from Saventh-Yhi. While the notes did not provide the direct location of the lost city of Saventh-Yhi, they did reveal the location of the ruins of Taizon, a trade waystation which linked Saventh-Yhi and the Azlanti Empire.

With the loss of Korgoth, the group decided to pick up another member to bolster their ranks: the mercenary oracle Joe, hailing from the Land of the Linnorm Kings. With Joe and Pezock in tow, the group bartered for some items deemed most necessary—-a druid’s vestment, temple swords, and a wand of metamagic extend—-as Hauk and Aldis had yet to return from their lengthy tour of shopping and resupplying.

Word of their discovery on the Shiv had spread far and wide, between the gaggle of loose-lipped characters and the rampant speculation in Gelik’s Chronicle. By the time the notes themselves had been translated, a number of factions vied for the party’s favor, hoping they would lead the way to Saventh-Yhi. The group almost instantly turned down Ishirou and the Aspis Consortium, along with Sasha and the Red Mantis. On the fence about being tied to the annoying Pathfinder Gelik Aberwhinge, and uninterested in shouldering the burden alone, they debated between Jask and the Sargavan Government and Aerys and the Free Captains of the Shackles Pirates. Ultimately they chose the Free Captains because they offered the most money.

Spending a week to outfit themselves with the funds provided by the pirates, the group was beset upon by wild dogs unleashed by a Sargavan native liberation movement, the Freemen’s Brotherhood. These insurgents set fire to the warehouse used by the Free Captains to store the expedition’s supplies and pack animals. Having dispatched the rabid dogs and some of the insurgents, the party moved on to combat the body of the Brotherhood, who had occupied the South Arcadian Whaling Company compound and take a hostage: Sasha. In the ensuing carnage, Sasha would be mortally wounded, the insurgents put to the sword, and part of the compound destroyed by fire. The leader of the rebels had on his person documents stamped with the seal of the Red Mantis

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Session Five Alive

Days Thirty through Thirty-Two

The party continues to explore the Shiv’s peninsula, leaving the chupacabra nest and juicer behind as they climb a winding trail up the low mountain. At the top they discover strange crimson rocks and materials for ritual sacrifice; they also see a number of shipwrecks and the abandoned stone lighthouse, with a group of small huts at its base. Setting out for the shipwrecks, the group fights a few cave fishers and descends the perilous cliffs; the oread once again reaffirms the awesome power of gravity. The party swims out to the ships, and over the course of several days, cleans out the infesting undead and sea scorpions, finds the missing Pathfinder ship Gelik was looking for, and learn the art of stand-up comedy from Gelik.

Days Thirty-Three and Thirty-four

Having explored the peninsula, and leaving some of the “endangered” cave fishers behind to repopulate, the party advances on the stone lighthouse. After a day’s journey the arrive and prepare their assault. Akker’s attempts at reconnaissance alerts a small band of cannibals, who charge off into the jungle after him. Having diverted attention away from the group, the party advances into the camp, cutting down cannibals left and right and freeing a captive, with the aid of the NPCs.

In the middle of the battle, the tide turns when the cannibals inside the huts emerge and attack, bringing forth a giant rock lobster they kept penned up in a sewage pit. The cannibal leader, along with a nefarious witch, begin to make trouble for the party. Many are wounded; Sasha is grappled by the lobster and driven off; Jask (and Gelik) manage to keep the party alive to survive the onslaught. In the end, the cannibals are annihilated, and the party begins to inspect the cannibal village for loot and clues before heading for the lighthouse…

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The Fourth Session

Days Twelve-Twenty Nine

After clearing out another shipwreck, the group decided to follow the trail by the goat patch inland. After quite a bit of travel and dodging/avoiding/disabling some snare traps, the druid was successfully caught in one. The ensuing ambush of cannibals was quickly dealt with, Bellow made gratuitous use of his Embarrass Monk ability and Akker was rescued, nothing of value was lost.

At this point, the group decided to ask Ishirou and Gelik how they can help them, since they were helping everyone else anyways. Ishirou gave the group a map that led to a treasure pit and Gelik expressed interest in a shipwreck, because the group certainly hadn’t had their fill of them yet.

In the travel over to the treasure pit, the group stumbled upon an old abandoned hut with a rotted journal inside. The rotted journal gave clues as to who was the prior leaser of the hut before his timeshare ran out and Pezock had him evicted: The captain of the to-be cannibals. With the new information in hand, the group boldly strode forth in the opposite direction of the cannibals. They soon ran across another abandoned camp. Abandoned camp is abandoned.

Eventually, they reached the treasure pit and spent the entire day opening the top of the pit. The Oread reaffirms gravity. Inside, they find a treasure chest filled with much money and a star knife, which Ishirou claimed, quite pleased. Heading back inland, the group combs the shore for more shipwrecks with much enthusiasm, which payed off this time. The group found the shipwreck Jask was looking for, and the documents inside which prove his innocence. Much rejoicing was had.

Heading to the southeastern part of island, the group passes over a rickety rope bridge which was far more sturdy than was let on. On the other side, the group finds to be what looked to be a stone ritual juicer, presumably a blood juicer. Shortly beyond that, they fight the dreaded Chupacabra, which may or may not have ruined a few party members day, before it ran off (giggling) into the (night/day/circle one).

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The Third Session

Day Seven

After waking up on the beach, Akker gets the brilliant idea to scout around for Jask’s shipwreck using his eagle-eye vision. He doesn’t see a ship; he does, however, see a GIANT CRAB. After much debate, the party decides to head off, kill it, and eat it. Upon arriving, it begins to gyrate wildly and emit a horrible moaning sound. Korgoth charges and attempts to eat it. The rest of the group walk into its faceless head and encounter a deranged tengu, armed with a sawtooth saber and an intricate series of pulleys and levers.

This tengu, named Pezock, relates his tale, of shipwreck, and cannibals, and woe, and crab house realty; failing to convince him to come with them, the characters tell him that they will create a signal fire when it’s time for him to leave the island and be rescued. Korgoth falls unconcious. Jask performs medicine; Korgoth wakes up. The party rests for an indeterminate period of time. Vanua has a strange dream.

Days Eight-Nine

The group sets off to head after a strange mushroom isle Akker saw with his eagle-eye vision; it takes a long and perilous route, plus some waiting for the tides to recede, before they arrive. They soon stumble upon a trio of mated Vegepygmies, which are dispatched. The group heads towards a large stone pillar, which contains a violet fungus with a skeleton embedded in it. Attacking it draws the wrath of the remaining Vegepygmies. A fight breaks out, resulting in many dead Vegepygmies.

The characters wander the island, finding incidental loot, before arriving at the fungoid ship slash Vegepygmy lair. After looting the place, they bed down for the day as a storm is rolling in; they are attacked in the night by a lone sea urchin. Little did it know that sea urchins are Aldis’ favored prey. It is slain, after menacing Hauk. The party wakes up later, burns the boat, suffers noxious gases, and returns to the main island, only to find that Korgoth has wandered off, and Pezock has arrived upon seeing the rescue signal. Aldis has a strange dream.

Days Ten-Eleven

The characters continue along a craggy cliff overlooking the ocean, finding a strangely calm part of the bay. They investigate; Akker attempts to calm some nearby jungle goats, and instead incites them. The Oread and Lash climb down and go pearl diving (unsuccessfully). The party wishes to fight something; Pezock leads them to his ship Crow’s Tooth, which is full of monsters and no loot; Pezock points out that people wished to fight, not loot. The group sees a bunch more shipwrecks, and investigate. They contain more pitiful undead, and some Squid Goblins. The question of how many hit points an Oread has is answered. One brutal fight later, the ships have been pacified.

The group debates about following a trail leading into the jungle; deciding to rest a bit first, Akker reconnoiters the area, with everybody else in tow. He finds some lizards in a tree. The group moves in to attack. The shocker lizards, upon having their home invaded, fry everyone and nearly kill a bunch of people. They are brought down in the end. After this, the party decides (wisely) to rest for a bit and meditate upon what they’ve learned (probably nothing).

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Second Session

Day the Fourth (Continued)

Everybody sets out on the quest for the rare herbs that will cure Alcoholism (“drunk plants”), somewhere off over the nearby cliff. Barring some spiders, and annoying, itchy vines, this is uneventful. The group turns back towards the coast and makes camp at the cliff’s end before setting out again.

Day the Fifth

The characters continue advancing along the shore. GIANT CRABS! Jask needs to find a shipwreck, of which there are many. Korgoth has mindfire; Vanua is recovering from dysentery. (Nobody notices anything out of the ordinary.) They find an abandoned camp which has several Yellow Musk Creeper Zombies nearby. These are quickly and heartily dispatched. While resting, another large group of musk creeper zombies attack. They are also made re-dead. Day falls, dusk follows, a new night.

Day the Sixth

Having had enough of with the Yellow Musk Zombies, the party sets out to find and slay the Yellow Musk Creeper. They find it; Korgoth realizes it is a cookie, upon which he kills and eats it. The other characters scratch their heads and return to the beach. Another largely uneventful night and the characters tuck in for the day.

Wow, I hadn’t realized just how little was accomplished this session.

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