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Old Jun 13th, 2014, 09:19 PM
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Ch 1. ~ Under New Management



"And lastly, I bequeath equal ownership of the West Garund Expeditionary Company, and all of the contracts that it currently holds, to my brave partners and friends.

My oldest friend, Isaac. We laughed in the face of hell enough times, I hope I don't need the same courage for what awaits me. Diann're, I could never thank you enough for seeing me through my fledgling days in the career that would become my life's passion. Without you, I may never have realized my dreams. Kamakiri... we may not always have seen eye to eye, but you always did your best to keep the company safe. You are damned good at your job, and I hope you'll keep looking out for everyone I've left behind. Syritu, I'm sorry. I may not have known you long, but I truly wanted to see you back to your people. From the bottom of my heart, I hope that you'll find what you're looking for.

Please friends, no matter how dark or terrible things may seem, never give up. This jungle holds great danger, but also wonder, adventure, and dreams."

The jungle does not mourn for Rani, it does not even notice his passing. Only you and your few companions bare witness to his fate, to bury him and set him in his final rest. A wooden marker sticking up from a bed of freshly turned loam is all the evidence in the world that your friend lays interred there, and you know that in a bare few weeks even that will be completely overgrown again.

That the company's contracts have explicitly changed ownership has proved to be a godsend, as more than a few of the porters and guards have started murmuring of calling it quits and heading back. With their papers in hand though, they remain legally bound to the company's service and your collective decisions. Luckily enough both Nino and Akimem have made it clear that they mean to honor their word, and for all those working under them to do the same.

At any rate, Rani's sudden death has left the group tense. The company exists in a state of uneasy agreement for the meanwhile. Despite how some of the company may feel, the expedition is hardly over. You've yet to find anything worth the costs of this venture, and you know that if Rani were to have anything to say about it he'd press on. Still, Rani isn't in charge any longer, you are. A new day has dawned and the company needs a bearing. According to Rani's sources, a forgotten temple lies somewhere to the north of your camp, on the slopes of a sacred mountain. Between the cultural artifacts, material offerings, and magical fetishes rumored to be therein, it proves a tempting destination. On the other hand, what exactly lays between there and here is anyone's guess, and threats or greater riches may veer your course. Whatever your decision, dawn is breaking and the company's restless energy is palpable.

Last edited by Schniderman; Jul 1st, 2014 at 03:21 AM.
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Old Jul 1st, 2014, 04:44 AM
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Dian
Diann're L'keith

Dian gazes at the lonely marker that indicates the final resting place of her oldest and best friend. After a few seconds of reflection she looks up, the diminutive elf's usually cheery expression now wistful and sad. As she looks around her group she sees sorrow, worry and tension, as well as disinterest and boredom from some of the porters who did not know their leader well. She sees a group with potential and promise, but with much to do to fulfill that promise.
"Well, friends, today is a dark day for us - but a good day for our leader Rani. He never, in the time I knew him, shied away from an adventure or a challenge and what better challenge, what greater adventure is there than the journey through the Planes that he must be making now? Just think of the poor unfortunate Angels and Demons who he's out-bargaining, fleecing for all their worth and charming into his bed right now. Let us mourn for us, for the absence of our friend - but not for him, let's celebrate for him, for what he's done and for what he will always mean to us.
How can we honour his memory? I think we can do what he always loved the most - break new ground and make new money. We have talented and dedicated staff, the best trackers and scouts this side of Bloodcove, and traders who can bargain the hide from a Devil and the sell it back to him at a profit. The only thing we need to decide is how much to make and how fast. Rani was up for a trek to the temple deeper into the jungle - and he was rarely wrong about that kind of opportunity, so I say we press forward - tame the jungle as we go and then head back to civilization with a new trade route opened. What do you say?"


Her fierce gaze holds each of the group's eyes in turn, challenging them to match up to the little woman's courage. Who knows, maybe it'll work...

 
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Last edited by Caveman; Jul 1st, 2014 at 04:44 AM.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2014, 01:10 AM
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Kamakiri

Kamakiri stood silent and stoic, contemplating Rani's death and the effect it would have on her life. The half-elf had not mourned her employer's passing, instead focusing on the opportunity it presented. Kamakiri had never been in such a position of power before and she was quite excited at the prospect. She didn't appreciate the sappy analogies in Dian's speech, but did nod briefly to her suggested path to profit. Looking around at the group, the hunter tilted her head and smirked. Her companions were an interesting lot. Kamakiri didn't really know how to feel about them at this point and regretted not paying more attention to them in the past.

 


Last edited by 2nd Chance; Jul 2nd, 2014 at 01:27 AM.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2014, 12:46 PM
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Syritu Talec

The dark-skinned woman in revealing leather wiped her eyes, a movement that was done consistently and with the assurance that it was just the moisture of the Mwangi getting to her. Occasionally she sniffled, but she also attributed it to the Mwangi. "Yes, it is very sad. But as we of the tribe say, the jungle will care for Rani now." Syritu opened her mouth as if to say more, but instead she went back to wiping her eyes incessantly. She nods to the little elf woman after her speech, "I will follow... I must still find my tribe after all."

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Old Jul 7th, 2014, 06:04 PM
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NarrativeA general murmur of assent passes through the company's ranks in response to Diann're's speech, and the few dissenting voices quiet themselves in the face of the majority. Stepping forward, Rahdma nods resolutely. Clearing his throat with a cough that is half sob, he speaks with careful composure. "Yes, I think that would be for the best. We should keep going for as long as we are able to." His words are followed with nodding heads throughout the company, and the tone of the gathering is shifting more and more towards the positive.

After a moment Lomi, the Company's hired guide asks, "Alright, so we go North." As she said so, she turned to face northward. "From what I have seen, that way" she pointed to the North-East, "has grass that grows two men high and so thick that you can barely see what's in front of you. The ground is even and dry though. That way," she said, pointing to the North-West "has big trees with big roots that run across the forest floor. Lots of climbing up and down; harder to make our way through, but less underbrush."

Last edited by Schniderman; Jul 10th, 2014 at 02:59 PM.
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Old Jul 19th, 2014, 10:39 PM
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Syritu Talec

"My friends, I think we should go through the grass. We can take it slow. All of us can chop through grass, but not everyone can climb so easily. If archers ambushed us in the trees, we would be in trouble." She nods to no one in particular, and habitually rubs her thumb back and forth against the coarse rope that was reinforcing the spear blade and shaft together.
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Old Jul 20th, 2014, 03:48 PM
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Dian
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Dian nods as her companions murmur their agreement and opinions.
"I agree, the grasslands sound more sensible. I can send my familiar above us to gain some sense of the area, though anything hidden in the grass will likely escape his notice. Does anyone know anything at all about the area we are entering? Any old stories or tales? Or did Rani mention anything more about the temple to you?"

As Dian speaks she tries to recall all she knows about the grasslands, the threats they may face, and what the general lay of the land around here is. She also strives to recall anything about the religions in the area that might gaive the party some clue as to what they are approaching.

 
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Old Jul 20th, 2014, 09:23 PM
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Sir Issac Bancroft

Issac observed the progression of the events following the death of his friend. It was no way for an old warhorse like Rani to go. Secretly, Issac knew that he and Rani both came here to meet their end in a glorious manner to avoid the death in suffocating stagnation of civilization. To met their end fighting, not infirm and unable defend themselves from the loving care of doctors. Now the old bastard had gone on without him, taken in a most inglorious manner by the sickness of the jungle. Taking the goblet of aged Taldan whiskey he brought from his homeland, Issac slowly poured a glass in respect that he raised to Rani during Diann's speech before pouring it out ceremoniously to their camaraderie. Now what... he left the fate of the company to him and three women. The sly fox... who knew that he had the time to woo three lovely women. Issac chuckled to himself.

Then came the talk of which path to pursue... it seemed that the consensus was to go through the grasslands as they convince themselves that it would be the most sensible path. Well one person had to disagree. He thought of the guerrilla war that the Taldan had fought with The Cong. Sly lot. What they lacked in strength, they made up in sheer resolve and being attuned to their native land. Most of it was jungle and grasslands such as the ones that everyone seemed so eager to drive head long into... and they made most of this advantage to decimate the better equipped and trained Taldan regulars. Then there were "other" things that lurked in the well hidden embrace of these thick grasslands.

"If I may offer a differing opinion, while the grasslands seem tempting and easier, they hide, literally and figuratively, dangers... dangers that we will not see until they are upon us... and perhaps maybe not even then." Issac interjected politely and calmly, though he inwardly shuddered at the thoughts of the other things that lurked in the dense, impenetrable underbrush of the grasslands. "Cutting through the grasslands or climbing over the tall roots will both be equally slow and require equally the same amount of effort and strength to move through."

"However, I much prefer to be able to see what is trying to kill me... and while the tall tree may afford archers a position of advantage, the tall roots offset that by providing pretty good cover." Issac concluded as he motioned in the opposite direction to the west to the guide. "My two bits of experience..."
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Old Jul 21st, 2014, 11:38 PM
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NarrativeThe call for folklore and rumors went unanswered, though that was hardly surprising. The Mwangi Jungle is immense, and the part the company found itself in now was rarely traveled. Dian did recall hearing some things before the expedition had departed, but much was still unknown to her. Even the temple they found themselves destined for was a mystery, and how Rani knew of such a place was equally unclear.

Alkhet Eheka, another of the company's specialists, stepped out from under a canvas shade. "Rani spoke with me about the temple, or at least the stories he'd heard of it. He wouldn't divulge his source though, no matter how I wheedled him." He smiled and chuckled throatily. Alkhet has been a fixture in the company since near its start, and Rani often relied on him when matters came to crypts, tombs, ruins, and other old structures. Hailing from Osirion, he has plenty of experience in those fields. "Supposedly, it is a temple in honor of some long dead or forgotten bat god. One with a penchant for blood and gold sacrifices. When I think 'temple' and 'blood sacrifice', I also think 'undead'. Just my scholarly opinion."

At this, Nino grimaced and turned towards Dian. "About our route..." He glanced towards Isaac before going back to his conversation with the elven woman. "We will go wherever our boss tells us to, of course, but in my 'scholarly opinion'" he said making air quotes with his fingers and smirking at Alkhet, "I'd go with the roots. Even if we do cut our way through the grass like you're saying, it's real easy for a man to get grabbed and dragged in before anyone knows what happened. You're the head honchos, but for what it's worth I don't like it."
 
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Old Jul 22nd, 2014, 01:06 AM
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Sir Issac Bancroft

"Aye, the bloody grass is full of things that could drag a man away and it is easy to lose your bearings in them should there arise some circumstance that we become separated." Issac nodded to Nimo as he spoke up in opposition to the party line. His kind of fellow he thought with a laugh before downing the whiskey and then pouring some into a flask for the trip. "Undead? Bat God...? Great sounds like a Bram Stoker novel... where is a bloody cleric when you need one...?"
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Old Jul 25th, 2014, 05:15 AM
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Dian
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Dian listens respectfully to Isaac and then Alkhet and Nino, before nodding.
"That sounds fair to me - your reasons to avoid the grasslands are stronger than mine for going through them. We will need to be wary in the Kapoks; if we are attacked we may need a way to get up into the trees to effectively defend ourselves, but that should be a tractable problem. As for clerics, well, when were you ever scared enough of a few skeletons to go hiding behind a priest's robes Isaac? Don't worry, you can hide behind me if things get too frightening for you" An impish smile follows the last remark, softening the barb to playful banter between long-time travelling companions.

"So, if there are no objections, shell we depart?"

 

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Last edited by Caveman; Jul 25th, 2014 at 05:16 AM.
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Old Jul 27th, 2014, 04:22 AM
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Rani's Rest
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Nino seemed eminently pleased that the company's leadership had changed tack to the grass-free route. With their course decided, the porters began disassembling the camp and bundling it into man-portable packs; folding canvas and wooden poles to their smallest configurations. Nino's boys spread out at equal intervals around the porters, weapons still sheathed but eyes peeled. Lomi disappeared ahead of the company while things were still being taken down, as was her job and habit. All in all, an hour of preparation passed before the bulk of the company departed. Behind you, the company leaves little more than disturbed underbrush, boot-churned dirt, and the grave of an old friend.

Progress through the jungle is made fairly swiftly, and the foliage at ground level is not terribly dense. The thick canopy overhead blocks out much of the sun, leaving the trek in a perpetual mid-day twilight. Here and there shafts of golden light pierce through and illuminate columns, motes of pollen and dust swirling in them.


~~||~~

The Kapok Grove
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As you press on further, broad roots occasionally crisscross the forest floor. At first they are manageable enough that only Honali and Barwick are seriously inconvenienced by them, but they soon become so thickly carpeted that progress is slowed to a plodding pace. Eventually the source of these roots comes into sight, the ancient kapok trees Dian had read about. The roots start from the base of the trees fifteen feet up, traveling down to the forest floor at about 30 degrees. At ground level the roots sprawl out for at least a kilometer, as you saw making your way here. The height at the tree's bases makes the company's route somewhat meandering.

Diann're and Isaac notice that the shriek and caw of animals here has subsided somewhat, though not abated entirely. Moreover, a feeling of wrongness hangs in the air, though no one else in the company seems to have noticed this. As the head of the group rounds a bend though, a creature comes into sight that resonates strongly with that feeling of unease. Wrongness is certainly the word for it: It looks like a large ape, musclebound and hunchbacked; though it walks on two legs like a man. Each of its arms ends in a hand like a gorilla's except that its fingers bear vicious looking claws several inches long. Its fur is an orange-brown, but most disconcerting of all is its head; it has a head just like a tiger's.

While you have seen it, it has also certainly seen you, and for a moment your eyes lock with its. Puffing up its chest as it sucks in a huge breath, it bares its fangs and bellows a cry that echoes out into the surrounding jungle.

OOC
BattlemapClick image for larger version

Name:	KapokGrove2.png
Views:	29
Size:	1.44 MB
ID:	61061

PCs have the initiative, so decide on your starting coordinates and first round actions.
Starting longitudinal coordinates can be between 1 and 15, starting latitudinal coordinates must be between T and W.
The orange circle at I,J-8,9 is the ape-tiger beast.
Squares x'd off with red are impassible (though you could conceivable roll climb checks to scale them if you'd like).
Squares surrounded in yellow are difficult terrain.

Knowledge Checks have been rolled secretly. No one knows anything about this creature.
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Old Jul 27th, 2014, 07:15 AM
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Already wary of danger in the oddly quiet jungle, Dian is quick to act when the ape-like aberration appears before the group. Sighing, she looks behind her at the caravan and dips her finger into the pouch that rests, as always, at her belt. drawing a tiny blob of butter wrapped in waxed paper from it she speaks twelve sharp syllables, the intonation rising as each is uttered. The ball in her hand flashes and then crackles, corruscating colour leaping from her hand to strike at the feet of the beast they face. As it does so a sheen of oily grease instantly spreads beneath it, rendering the ground infinitely slippery.
As the last syllable fades into silence, Dian is already on the move, stepping sideways a little and then vanishing completely, only to reappear an instant later up in the canopy above, standing ten feet off the ground in the dense branches of the great kapok she was under. Calling down to her companions, Dian sounds calm and focused.

"Keep the beast at distance if you can, I see no clear way it can attack at range. The grease at its feet should slow it down, but keep out of the circle of it if you can. If we can circle the creature and attack from one side and then another, retreating as it attacks and striking its flanks and rear we should overwhelm this enemy. We must be like the packs of wolves in Ustalav. Hey, Isaac, do you remember that winter wolf we took down in the Valuev hills? What was the village called again - I can't remember."

 

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Old Jul 27th, 2014, 08:34 PM
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Syritu Talec

"Stay back from the beast..." The amazonian has little else to say other than the obvious, and so she closes the distance with the ape creature and braces herself for a charge, hoping that bestial instinct will take over the ape and expose itself to her spear in its charge.


 


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Old Jul 29th, 2014, 12:37 AM
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Sir Issac Bancroft

"Dian, you and I seem to recall very different things in Ustalav... I seem to prefer to recall the wine and the wonderful cheese from the inn." Issac replied with abit of humor. "Well, it does not seem very friendly... or natural, does it?"

"Time to earn your living my good friend... " Issac laughed as he pointed in the direction of the creature to his eidolon, Winston. "Do try to come back in one piece... I hate to go through the bother of summoning you gain if I do not have to."

"Always have to do the dirty work... I think that I may be due a raise after all of this is said and done..." Came the semi-Taldan accented reply of the sleek panther like eidolon. "At least a better dental plan..."

"Quit your belly aching and go... I'll send you some help." Issac said as he gathered the energies made the mark in the air of summoning and brought into being four majestic eagles that shimmered with celestial energy. "Seek."

"What shall I do?" Munin, Issac's Raven familiar asked in a all too human voice.

"Go help, Winston and harry the beast so that he'll stop complaining for once." Issac pointed in the direction of the beast. "Start yelling at it, too it might distract him for Winston to attack."

"I am on the way..." Came Munin reply as he flew off of Issac's shoulder and shot like a dart past the charging eidolon panther and cawing and flapping to distract the creature. However, leading the way were the flight of four Celestial Eagles that beat their wings and surrounded the poor beast, glowing as the called forthSmite Evil - Swift Action power from the depths of their souls.

"Let the games begin!" Issac said as he prepared his next hex to help out his squadron of "help" and as Winston reached his target.



 
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Last edited by Xian; Jul 29th, 2014 at 01:09 AM.
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