((We picked up this session directly where we left off last time, but missing two players – the minotaur barbarian and the minotaur bard – who had family responsibilities, so a new player joined in to fill in the spot.))
As the trio of Tibalt, Gaotl and Fu stood at the foot of the limestone mountain, scanning the horizon, Uz and Leo walked back into view with their hands full of healing herbs meant for old lady Gana.
Soon after meeting up again, the two minotaurs Fu and Leo remembered that since today was a festival day in King’s River, they had to go back to town to participate in the Minotaur games, an important part of their culture. And so they promptly left.
The Ranger Uz soon wondered who was the stranger standing next to Gaotl, only to be told Tibalt was simply wearing a disguise. After a brief argument whether the party should press on towards the bamboo forest or return to the hut and tend to the injured (Tibalt nervously hiding the fact from Uz that he had made matters worse) the trio decided to go back – just before making a new acquaintance! Ulrich, a Dwarf Monk, asked if he could be their road companion, as he was bored of walking alone.
Back at the hut, Uz tended to both injured people as best he could while Gaotl took for himself a piece of Anaconda meat, and was thanked for “killing the demon” that had threatened them all by one of the local farmers. Ulrich also prayed for the injured, then the adventurers promptly set off to reach the Green Coconut tavern before sundown.
As they walked the Royal Road headed northwest, they crossed people walking and rushing from the fields to get back to the safety of King’s River before the night settled, some on foot, some on ox-back or triceratops-back.
Before the edge of the bamboo forest sits a tavern called The Green Coconut. Large, elven-grown bamboo holds the structure together. A 10-foot tall bamboo wall is the first line of defense. Judging by the scratches and lacerations covering the wall, these were dangerous parts of the land. The tavern looked more like a fort than an inn, with few windows.
Walking in the establishment, Uz was greeted warmly by Liks, the current tavern owner. An old Dwarf with an eye patch and a jolly smile who can throw coconuts like no other (which he did, to each tenant, as it’s the most popular drink served here).
The place was crowded and full of tired travelers and as such, there were no beds available. Since the night in these parts is perilous however, Liks offered that the party stays in the horse stables for the night.
Before resting for the night however, the group decided to enjoy their “special coconut” and walked through the mess hall to an empty table.
Dwarf and Human nobility were having a quiet drink together, a drunken and rambling elf sat alone in a corner (which Uz tried his best to avoid) while 2 half-orcs not too far off were engaged in arm-wrestling. A Tortle and a Loxodon priest sat together, invested in a quiet theological discussion.
Upon seeing the half-orcs, Gaotl excitedly walked over to them, to be greeted by a loud Dwarf taking bets on the physical competition taking place. When this duo’s duel was over, Gaotl half-asked, half-demanded that he be next. He sat down at the table and bets were placed. His surprise adversary: the quiet Loxodon priest, who calmly walked to the table and readied himself.
The duel was close. At first, the Loxodon seemed to effortlessly achieve a quick and clean victory, but Gaotl was no such puny benty city boy and fought back, to the point where he had the Loxodon all but beaten.
Until the Loxodon priest, losing his characteristic cool, suddenly stood up laughing and overturned the table (where all the coins for betting were lying).
Chaos ensued, of course, as everyone scrambled to grab the copper, silver and gold pieces. Ulrich the monk was, however, able to recover his purse and took a jab at the Loxodon with his bo staff, to which the elephantine individual simply ignored. Ulrich then decided that the bet-holder was cheating and demanded payment for his friend’s heroic deeds, menacing him with his weapon.
Four guardsmen sprung up to defend their boss, and everyone disengaged when Liks, the tavern owner, showed up with Gaotl’s prepared snake meat and Uz’s cooked rabbit.
After filling their bellies and feeling the effect of the alcoholized coconuts, the party decided to finally head for the stables. Outside, under the starlight and amidst the sounds of the crickets, Ulrich and Uz talked about the black scale that was found in Ulrich’s monastery, the morning following the sneak attack, when his monastery’s statues were defaced… effectively humiliating and angering him enough to have him step out of the monastery to seek the wrong-doers.
The next morning, they reached the edge of the thick bamboo forest. The first rays of the sun pierced through the plants, illuminated dust and the wings of butterflies. In the distance, The sound of monkeys in the canopy resonated. Some of these bamboo shoots were massive, having been influenced by magic and tended by Elves for centuries.
Effective tracking by the Elven Ranger Uz helped the adventurers find the trail that would eventually lead them to a clearing where – they thought – a dinosaur nest full of eggs awaited them.
Finding the clearing, they felt that something was wrong. Setting up their party carefully, Gaotl stepped out of the cover of the vegetation, covered from a distance by the rest of the party. It became rapidly apparent that Gaotl was weilding his bone axe in vain though, as the scene that unfolded in front of him sickened him. Five Stegosaurus lay dead. Two adults and three cubs, riddled with crude arrows and javelins. Two eggs, now smashed on the clearing’s ground, added to the weight of the events. The rest of the group stepped out of the woods and started investigating. Who got there first? Who killed the beasts?
After a quick search, they spotted a black, scaly arm, poking out from underneath the male Stegausaurs. While the most physically adept of the group lifted the side of the great beast, the rest pulled the arm – and the rest of the body – from under the dinosaur. What they saw repulsed some of them and sent a great shock through Uz: a Lizardman, black as obsidian lay crushed. Repulsion at the feeling that this scale color, which seemed to absorb the very light, felt so unnatural. Sure, there were lizardmen, but usually they were green, brown, blue, or even white-colored. Never black.
Ulrich quickly realized that the black scale he had been carried belonged to this kind. Uz explained that these beasts had not been seen since the great Black Dragon war, 500 years ago, which ended in a curse for his kind to decline and for the Desert orcs to eternal savagery.
The remaining Elves thought they had hunted the black lizardmen to extinction.
On its body, the group found a medallion with a strange inscription written in Draconian. Kokusho.
Quickly, the party set off to chase the Lizardmen in the hopes of catching up to them – to reclaim the eggs and avenge the quiet herbivores. They were able to find the enemy’s tracks, who seemed to be dragging something along with them.
After a chase that lasted a few hours, our heroes found the remaining baby stegosaurus, dead in the middle of the bamboo forest. It had been doing its best to not be dragged by the villains, until they grew tired of its fighting spirit and skewered it, there and then.
With renewed energy, the group pressed on. A moment later, the scout of the group Uz spotted what looked like one of the Lizardmen, slumped forward in the middle of the forest. He dashed forward, taking his chances. If this was a trap, his companions were not too far behind, ready to help him. More importantly, he wanted to interrogate him.
After a nervous stalk, it became apparent that the lizardman had been abandoned by his peers, for he was dying of his wounds and slowing them down. An interrogation revealed nothing and the villain soon perished.
The quartet continued to track the egg-stealers until they reached a part of the forest that showed strong activity. Bamboo trees were cut down and all attempts at sneaking were abandoned. More alarming was the fact that goblin tracks were now mixed in with lizardmen tracks, and no traces of fighting could be detected.
Suddenly feeling vulnerable, the group decided to retreat to the edge of the forest. Aware of the presence of pairs of eyes watching them, they nervously meandered through the woods. Distracted by the threat at their back, the heroes soon got lost in the woodlands, and at sunset decided to erect a camp, set up traps, and get ready for a long night.