Tera 10, 1333
It was bound to happen, and it did.
I swore I would never reconcile with the Explorers Society, yet here I am. Here I sit, on my furry rat ass, in the ramshackle lodge up on the hill in Porto Mavros, wearing my shiny and oh-so-official Venture Captain’s pin. I guess I could not pass up the offer the Society made me after that fiasco at Azlant Ridge.
The group of adventurers had rescued me from that vile witch, and together we plodded on through the jungles of Chuul, until we finally made it to the ridge dig site. Chaos greeted us, in the form of starving Explorers. But they had also discovered a fascinating remnant of the long past. What the Azlanti used that site for will, I am as sure as my tail is long, be debated for decades to come.
There was a great protective sphere half-buried nearby. That magical sphere, in my humble opinion, was the only reason the archaeologists hadn’t long ago been converted to monkey poop. With its protective field, they were able to fend off the siege by hordes of those monkey-men, who had kept them pinned them down inside their compound for nearly a year. Luckily, our little group arrived during a break in the apish attacks, and we slipped into the fortified camp with relative ease.
The Aspis army that had been pursuing us (or so it seemed like an army at the time) arrived just in time to be sandwiched between the sturdy fortified palisades of the camp and another wave of snarling, rampaging monkeys. Aww damn the bad luck! Given the option of helping us or being left to fend for themselves, the Aspis foes became temporary allies. It was not a decision I would have made, but in the end, they proved useful enough. Most of them died as fodder to the breach, for when the battle was over, only a few stragglers of the evil merchant’s guild remained inside the walls. My guess is, those others who survived had sneaked out when they spotted an opening in the enemy lines. I hope they were all hunted down like the snakes they are, and devoured by the monkey-men. Maybe the apes are wearing their skulls as I write this. One can hope.
And oh, what a battle it was…
As the first wave of crazed monkeys came pounding at the walls, screaming and chittering, the leader of the expedition commanded our group to probe the ruin. The key to the door was given to us by Aram Zey, wizard to the explorers. Where he got it from, who knows, and who cares. It opened the doors easily enough. The ancient magics left by the lost elven race were potent still, for the doors glowed with shiny runes as they parted.
Inside were discovered four massive monolith statues, both terrible and fantastic. It would be one of these metal giants that would beat back the demon leader of the apes… But I am getting ahead of my vermani self…
The magic which had for so long preserved the ancient site, also perverted its protectors. The noble elven warriors set in their timeless enchantment had long lost their stasis security. Their withered remains long ago turned into dust, but their spirits, now devoid of all sense or reason, remained true to their purpose. I shiver as I pen this, even now a month removed from the event. Become wights, the Azlanti guardians attacked us with all the passion that ten thousand years of duty had ingrained within them. Luckily, between Kumori’s sacred sword, and my own mystic flames, the wretched spirits were at last banished.
What those lost souls protected was unusual indeed, and almost a disappointment to us all. It turned out that the small, rune-inscribed box we found in that ancient chamber was in fact a sort of key. It was a key that we later discovered unlocked the power of the mighty megalithic guardians I mentioned earlier. For, when we emerged from the underground chamber, and the hulking, gigantic demon-ape (and I mean really really big… huge and ugly); when it breached the palisade walls of the encampment, the bearer of this strange key (who happened to be Dorak) suddenly found himself inside one of the monolithic constructs, controlling it.
The battle was gruesome indeed. Many friends, allies, enemies and monkey-men died that day. That little fanatical dwarf priest, Starig, was crushed to death, then burned up by a druidic ape-woman, a minion of the demon ape. I got lucky when facing off against her, for my spell pierced her most critically, and glowed around her, just as she was sliding into invisibility. This effect thankfully allowed my companions to make easy work of that creature.
The battle between the colossal creatures continued until finally the great infernal ape-beast was beaten back, and fled into the jungle. With their leader gone, the wind was driven out of the lesser beasts, who turned pink butts and ran as well. Seizing the first opportunity in a year to escape the confines of the dig site, the project leader promptly ordered the place sealed, and the whole site was reburied, lest the villain apes, or the Aspis goons for that matter, made off with the powerful statues buried within, as well as whatever other magic might have remained undiscovered inside.
The only treasure garnered from the dig site was that strange box, and six ancient Azlanti swords, of which I kept three… I eventually returned even those magnificent treasures, in exchange for my being assigned the badge of Venture Captain in Porto Mavros. It was a worthy exchange, I reckon. As VC, I get my pick of any number of trinkets and baubles that pass through my town now. Porto Mavros is, after all, the gateway to all points south, and business has been growing steadily.
On our return trip from the dig site, the strange little shaman with the snake, Coatl… he came down with some nasty bug. He suffered terrible before we finally put him out of his misery. Haha, no, the snake-loving bugger survived, but barely, and only with a lot of coaxing from the salves in the healers kit poor crispy Starig had left, after he passed.
Snakes and spiders and boars… they all thought we’d be tasty treats as we made our way back to Bloodeye. But truth be told, the boar was what turned out to be the tastiest of the lot (we didn’t try the spiders). It was a crappy trek, and I sure hope I never see another jungle again.
When the party was accosted by the Aspis authorities back at good old Bloodeye (and when I say ‘good old’ I mean ‘rotten, stinking, and foul’), that was when I finally decided I’d had enough of the adventuring group. They had been annoying me for a long time, and what with their incapability of keeping a low profile, I figured that my health would be better if I disassociated myself from them.
It was easy as sniffing out pork pie, slipping invisible and parting ways. I had originally intended to keep them Elfish swords, a parting dig to the group. They sure didn’t deserve them. And, they would probably have been robbed off of them. I have no doubt they’d have flashed the swords they did keep, out in public. At least it would not surprise me if they did. They would not know savvy if it swallowed them up like quicksand. Fools.
It took me a few weeks to return to the abandoned lodge in Porto Mavros, and when I got here, I found out it wasn’t exactly abandoned anymore. Seems the ExpS decided to reopen it. One of the bosses and a few lesser folk had taken all the boards off the windows and door, and repainted the sign outside the building. They even cleaned it out some inside. How nice of them.
They told me of the fate of the other adventurers, now they were transported via magic back to Archemaine (goody for them), and they were all safe. I guess that is good news. I am at least glad they didn’t go toes up in Bloodeye. I wouldn’t wish that on my most vile enemy.
Then the old ExpS offered to take me on, encouragingly suggesting that if I gave up the remaining three Azlanti swords, handing them over would clinch the deal… Well, this rat’s nose can sniff out sweet cookies any day of the week. I took the job and pinned on my shiny badge nearly on the spot.
Business is picking up now, and by my sleek and sultry pelt, I sure enjoy it. The contacts I’d previously made in Porto Mavros have turned out to work with graceful synergy for this office, and despite the rough clientele, things are swimmingly prosperous.
Now that I am done with this report, I plan on putting that vile jungle nation behind me, never to visit Chuul or Bloodeye again. We’re I only so lucky that the Aspis Consortium were not active in Porto Mavros as well. But alas, they have a significant foothold herein. I am truly hoping that the agents here don’t discover that this furry one is the very same vermani who thwarted their agents down in Bloodeye.
Yours in exploration, adventure, and capitol gains,
Venture Captain Zomos Vistis