Ki'vun

Salvo, Seasicknes, and a Lost City
an adventure begins

It had been five weeks since the ship left port in Ytobe, hometown of Jevel and favorite haunt of Haleth. Both men had earlier been nursing a heavy addiction to the drug known as Salvo and awoke three days from shore sloshing around with the bilge water in the bottom of a sailing vessel. Not the place two men scared to death of water would choose to be. Lykourgos, a noble thief, had, however, embarked on this journey with a purpose, duplicitous as it may have been, and when the ship hit land in Faranim he hit the nearest tavern—The Blind Gravedigger—to get a feel for the land and its peoples. Haleth and Jevel tucked into the strongest pints they could find, and Lykourgos sat in the corner, searching for pockets to pick and quarries to mark.

It was there in the Blind Gravedigger that Lykourgos came face to face with Salim, a grisly native of The Kingdom of the Sky with a peg leg and a habit of noticing details. Lykourgos traded blood for information about an alleged map that would lead to the legendary Lost City of Garu, home to the Pyramid of the Roc, said to be the center of an ancient kingdom. After securing registrations with the Antiquities Society to permit an archaeological expedition—a process that involved Jevel’s first "date"—the party camped outside the city wall before heading to the Forgotten Barrow in the morning.

There they descended into the bowels of the ruin, and—per Salim’s instruction—tore down the ceiling, revealing a map, and drawing the attention of a Faerie-folk named Lalae. She claims to be seeking fortune to buy medicine for her sick sister, and she seems to command powerful crystalogy…

AND THEN WE DESTROYED EVERYTHING

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Whips, Vines, and a Forest Fire
into the woods we go!

After destroying the map in the Forgotten Barrow, Jevel, Haleth, Lykourgos, and Lalae saddle up Ryros and head into the Great Cloud Forest.

Dense fog blankets the area every morning, and only occasionally does the sun burn through as the fog settles into the valleys over the course of the day. The forest is cool and damp, and the trees are draped with mosses and lichens. Hundreds of small brooks trickle through these woods, flowing into larger rivers, down steep hillsides, and into the sea—the constant sound of running water fills the air along with the calls of birds and beasts muffled by the fog.

The party heads for a large river leading into the heart of the forest, but they set out late and soon it is too dark to navigate through the fog. They make camp, Jevel kills and antelope. Haleth cooks the meat, and smokes some for jerky. Lalae finds leaves for Ryros…triggering a major withdrawal episode from Jevel.

First watch passes uneventfully, as Haleth tends the fire and listens to the sounds of the forest. Soon it comes time to wake Jevel for second watch. Unable—or simply unwilling—to climb Jevel’s tree to wake him, Haleth instead decides to wake Lalae and have her wake up the spacey Hen’yab.

Jevel’s watch is…a nightmare. Lalae agrees to watch the fire while Jevel goes out into the woods to find some…leaves…where he becomes hopelessly lost. Lalae can’t keep a fire burning because she can barely lift a twig, so the fire goes out, compounding Jevel’s problem. Lykourgos awakens to find Lalae sitting on the back of Ryros and the sounds of Jevel stumbling through the dark forest in the distance.

Lykourgos manages to get the fire going again, and eventually the firelight leads Jevel back to camp. As dawn breaks, Lykourgos, Jevel, and Lalae are wiped out and grouchy, and Haleth is left wondering what got them so upset as he packs up Ryros.

After breaking camp, the party continues heading northeast, towards a large river. After a couple of hours of walking, they are getting very close, when the forest grows quiet, punctuated by the creaking of the trees and the trembling of the leaves. From the north appears one of the forest’s guardians: the golem known as Arborus.

Arborus appears as a man, ten feet tall, made completely from vines, moss, and soil. In the soil of its you can see the faint sparkle of crystal. Arborus is clad in thick armor made from bark.

Thanks to some quick thinking and ingenuity, the party brings down the golem: Lykourgos and Ryros bring it to the ground, Jevel tears off its helmet, and Haleth delivers the fire arrow to ignite its viney body.

After the battle ends the air is split by the screech of a terrifying hawk, and wolves howl in the distance…

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Into the Metal Heart of the Forest
Walking, more walking, and automatons.

Arborus let out a cry of defeat that echoed through the woods, rousing distant wolves and frightening great birds in the skies overhead. The fog retreated, wiped away as if by a great, unseen hand.

To the northwest, the receding fog reveals a deep ravine, cut into the floor of the forest, running north into the highlands. Faced with a decision—continue following the river as many other adventurers had done, or descend into the ravine in the hopes that it remains unexplored—the party opts to scramble down into the narrow gorge.

The ravine winds northward and upward into the heart of the Great Cloud Forest, carved over aeons by the stream at the bottom. There is enough space to walk next to the river, and so this is what the party does.

They follow the ravine north for two and a half days, and it grows ever deeper and darker. Nights pass uneventfully. Fish are caught and smoked. Lalae makes a tea for Jevel, which he seems to like, until it makes him fall asleep during his watch. And eventually the reach the end of the ravine. The stream that makes the bottom of the gorge flows out from a large cave.

Without a moment’s hesitation, the party lights a torch and enters the dark. The cave winds on for what seems another eternity. And when the party finds a side tunnel branching off of their main route, they veer down it for a quick look. At the end of a short tunnel, an iron automaton stands. It wakes when Jevel throws a rock at it. After a short battle, the automaton is defeated, after Lykourgos ravages the gears in its back. He removes its heart—an egg-shaped stone inlaid with crystal traces—and the crew continues on.

At the end of the second day underground (but who’s counting anyways?) the winding limestone tunnel opens into a vast cavern, lit by glittering crystal. At the heart of it rises a great pyramid, surrounded by an abandoned city. Some buildings are half swallowed by huge stalagmites, others are crumbling from thousands of years of water and mold, but that hardly diminishes the scope and magnificence of the place.

But there’s no time to marvel at it. Another automaton comes lumbering out of the nearest building. Over three meters tall, with wicked swords on its arms, and dart guns at its elbows, walking on four spidery legs, the guardian zeroes in on the party. Lykourgos, Jevel, and Lalae launch an assault on the automaton’s drive mechanism, revealed when Jevel tears off the back plate, while Haleth and Ryros charge the machine’s underbelly. The party emerges victorious—if a little battered—and they turn their attention to the lost city…

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City of Mysteries
what secrets hide in this lost world?

The spiderlike automaton collapses in a screech of metal and stone, and the party finds themselves alone, in the shadow of the great Lost City of Garu. Crumbled stone buildings and huge pyramids thousands of years old stretch out before them.

Lykourgos, Jevel, Haleth, and Lalae set off exploring, walking across the wide plaza that makes up the western half of the city to reach the smaller of the two main pyramids. On the pyramid’s northeastern corner, they encounter another automaton. The battle goes smoothly, but in a stroke of tremendous bad luck, Jevel is crushed by the collapsing creature. Deep underground, the party relies on their own skills to restore Jevel’s health, camped in the entrance to the small pyramid.

Once they are prepared, they light torches and descend into the pyramid, down a steep stair and a sloping hallway. They encounter a winding pit in the corner of the first large chamber, and drop a rock to see how far it goes. The splash at the end sets Jevel on edge. He really hates water…a lot.

But the party continues on down the main corridor. The descend another steep stair, and come to a corridor lined with doors covered in elaborate hieroglyphs. Lykourgos carefully checks for traps, setting them off without injury one by one, and they are able to enter three of the four rooms. Their findings only lend to the mystery.

Each room contains an elaborate sarcophagus, engraved with dramatic scenes and surrounded by funerary urns. The party finds a silver sarcophagus with a picture of human sacrifice on its lid: a man is having his heart removed. The skeleton inside has striking crystal teeth. In another room, a heavy turquoise sarcophagus, sealed with a sophisticated lock, shows a scene of a woman wearing a long robe and an intricate crown, and the skeleton inside is encrusted with turquoise.

The final sarcophagus is gold, showing an image of a warrior pointing a golden spear at a swarm of spiders. After a tense moment as Lykourgos disarms the trap, he and Jevel lift the lid, to find it filled with thousands of spiders. It turns out the spiders are gold, covered in a lifelike black lacquer. The skeleton inside is plain, unadorned, aside from being buried in thousands of spiders.

The final corridor, stretching deeper into the earth, is painted a bright crimson, but quickly fades when it is exposed to the outside air. A small antechamber contains dozens of urns filled with crystal dust and ancient wine. Jevel takes one of the wine bottles, saving it for later, against the admonitions of the rest of the crew. The largest urn is filled with hundreds of squirming, crystal-encrusted spiders. Lykourgos scrapes some crystal off of one, and finds that it stops moving. The party collects some of these spiders and moves on.

At the end of the corridor there is a mural, fading into dust as the outside air wreaks havoc. But it is still clear enough to make out the scene: An egg sits atop a large mountain, and from this egg walks a precession of men, as well as large spiders. They cross a deep forest, and reach a city with two pyramids. The mural raises more questions than answers:

  • What is the mountain in the picture?
  • Who were these people, and how were they connected to the spiders?
  • If the city in the painting is, in fact, Garu, how did it come to be underground?
  • Does the mural show a ritual? Or is it an event? Or maybe even a myth.

Tired, with a lot to think on, the explorers turn to leave the pyramid.

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The Girl in the Egg
a mini session

The entrance to the great central pyramid is blocked by a set of massive stone doors, painted crimson. Lalae easily moves the stone with a flick of her wings, to reveal an iron portcullis beyond. Haleth and Jevel lift it, Lalae zips through, and she is crushed to death by the following trap.

The party takes little time to mourn her pulverized remains, but Lykourgos does stop and swear to find a way to help Lalae’s ill sister.

Their journey leads them deep into the heart of the pyramid. They come to a room, filled with hieroglyphic inscriptions, which they later learn tell the legend of how human sacrifice originated in this city. In a cubby in the wall they find a mummified soldier, with an ornamental spear. Haleth wonders if maybe he is some form of guardian.

More doors seal the way as the party delves deeper into the ruin. As the last door opens, they enter a room lined with columns. At the end of the room, on a raised platform sits a glass egg. An Aphoran woman sleeps, imprisoned within the egg, and as the group approaches she snaps awake in wide-eyed terror, screaming and pounding the glass desperately trying to escape. Unwilling to leave a lady in trouble, the guys break the glass and she comes tumbling out.

The girl from the egg is naked when she falls into Lykougos’ arms, and she has long black hair and piercing red eyes. As the party interrogates her, it quickly becomes apparent that she has been trapped in this egg for a very long time… When she was imprisoned, Garu was a thriving city and the Urnan Steppe was populated by Aphorans. A very different world, indeed.

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Charge!

After whining about being unarmed, the girl from the egg gets the party to return to the heart of the pyramid to retrieve her equipment: a black robe adorned with bony plates and a sword made of a pale, crystalline material. As the party continues to explore the pyramid, they find a collection of urns filled with dead spiders, as well as ancient bundles of spider silk. Lykourgos collects the silk and moves on to the next door.

As the door opens, the pyramid shakes and stones begin falling from the ceiling. In the doorway stands a mummy, its mouth wide and its hollow eyes squinting. Jevel tackles it while the rest of the party runs for the exit. They escape just as the structure collapses into ruins.

Outside the pyramid, the girl from the egg mentions that when she came to the city of Garu, it was not underground, somehow it came to be within this cavern. She also explains that the obsession with spiders seems to have started sometime after her imprisonment. Without spending too much time dwelling on these ideas, the party decides to leave the city through a northern tunnel, opposite where they came in. As they cross a large field on the edge of the city, three large automatons converge on them.

Ryros and Haleth lead the charge, knocking over the mechanical beast standing in their path, exposing its underside for Lykougos and Jevel to ravage. They decide not to try their luck with the two automatons crossing the field behind them, and flee into the tunnel.

That night, Lykourgos has a terrifying dream: the wound on his hand, where the peg-leg from Faranim cut him, splits open and spiders pour out. When he wakes, his hand is oozing a black sludge. The girl from the egg, whose name is Yuma, says that he seems to be cursed, and explains that the only one who can break the curse is the one who made it…

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The Flayed One, or, Jevel Finally Loses it Completely

After Lykourgos begins secreting sludge from his hand wound, the party undertakes a swift two-day journey south to the town of Faranim, looking for Salim, the cracked-out old man with a peg leg to whom Lykourgos voluntarily gave blood. Yuma says Lykourgos is cursed, and only Salim can lift the curse.

Upon arriving in the city, Jevel lies to the cute antiquities clerk and tells her they didn’t find anything on their trek into the Plynan interior. Meanwhile Lykourgos avoids a surprise inspection of Ryros’ packs by shoving his oozing hand into the officer’s face. Without further challenge, they all make their way to the Blind Gravedigger to find Salim.

According to the bartender, the peggy old man haunts the inn every couple of weeks, always trying to scam some green adventurers, and the last time he saw the guy was about a week ago. When pressed, the bartender says Salim’s hovel is a short walk west of town, right by the ocean. The party’s suspicion is greeted by a simple response: “I’m a bartender. Why would I lie to you?”

Salim’s hovel is nothing special, and when the party arrives atop the outcrop overlooking his home, the old man is out back tanning sealskins. The party discusses sneaking up on him, but Yuma says they are cowardly, that he’s just an old cripple and they might as well just march up to his door—which she does as Lykourgos attempts (and fails) to grapple Salim’s leg.

Salim calls Yuma his queen, and she reveals that she is—in fact—a powerful demon called Ryumaru, born 20,000 years ago in the Cataclysm. As he applies a wrap to Lykourgos’ hand in order to remove the curse, the old man explains that Ryumaru was sealed in the egg and buried with her city millennia ago when an alliance of Ithrians and Aphorans conquered her glorious kingdom.

Meanwhile, Jevel sneaks off. More about that later.

A misguided Salim says that Ryumaru will rebuild Garu with him at her side. She laughs and drives her sword through his chest. She reminds him that she has no equal, as his corpse slumps to the floor. The question of a proper burial is decided when Yuma dissolves into a swarm of spiders and devours him.

As night falls, Jevel arrives in the town of Faranim. He wants to confess to the antiquities clerk that he lied about not finding anything. He tells her the party actually found the lost city of Garu. She’s not too happy that he ran off after their last date and came back and lied to her, and she thinks that now he is lying to her again. Jevel counters by telling the clerk about Yuma…which just makes her angry. As he’s begging her to believe him, she shouts out to a passing guard, “Help! Help! This man is harassing me!”

The guard approaches Jevel. “Is there a problem here?” Jevel tells the guard about the lost city and Yuma and everything, and the guard suggests locking Jevel up in an asylum. When he grabs Jevel by the arm, Jevel lashes out with his claws, tearing the guard’s face off.

The girl screams and runs, as the guard’s body lands hard on the cobblestones. Jevel is a terrible sight, standing with the bloody face skin in his hand. He grabs a lantern from the side of the road and begins raging through the streets of Faranim, wearing the deceased guard’s face as a mask. After bashing down the door to the local garrison, the madman is tranquilized and dragged off.

In the morning, the rest of the party approaches the gatekeeper to the town. Realizing that Jevel had all of their papers, they explain the situation to the guards. They describe the murder from last night and say that Jevel is where he belongs.

Lykourgos does some rooftop jumping and gets to the jail. There he finds their papers…but no sign of Jevel. The unfortunate murderer is waking up in a featureless cell, chained in a heavy straightjacket…

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The Puppet Master

After flirting with a nurse, Jevel gets a guard to unlock his chains. He begs to be allowed to use his hands to eat like a normal person. True to form, he tears out the guard’s spine and uses it to beat the nurse to death. In a blood-soaked rampage, Jevel tears through the halls releasing dozens of criminally insane prisoners.

On the street, Lykourgos and Haleth search for clues as to where Jevel has gone while Yuma enjoys the most brutal local ale she can find.

A clue finds them before too long, as Jevel stalks the alleyways of Faranim. The first—and last—thing Haleth feels is the searing pain of claws piercing the back of his skull. As Haleth’s body convulses in the throes of death, Jevel looks over his shoulder and smiles at Lykourgos, laughing as he wiggles his fingers, manipulating the corpse like a puppet.

Lykourgos, too horrified to intervene, runs to the Blind Gravedigger to get Yuma to help. She raises an eyebrow and downs the rest of her drink. “Guess it’s time for us to get going then?”

Screams echo through the streets as Jevel assaults police and civilians alike using his Haleth puppet both as an intimidation aid and as a weapon. Lykourgos and Yuma make a swift and subtle exit.

Monkey paw.

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