Campaign of the Month: June 2012
Azlanti Dig Site
In the spring of 1332 YS, the Explorer’s Society made an impossible discovery in the Terwa Uplands of the Chuul Expanse. There, protruding from the earth, was an enormous half-sphere seemingly made of ivory. The expedition requested assistance, and in a matter of months the Azlant Ridge excavation site was born. The ivory sphere was not the last of the discoveries, either. Juliet Dias, the expedition leader, found a door beneath millennia-worth of earth and rock in the side of a nearby cliff face. Once she and her team cleared the door, they found an impressive structure, 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide, constructed of an unknown metal and carved with an intricate series of glyphs, pictures, and ornamentation. None of the Azlant scholars present had seen anything like it — but they knew for certain: the Society had discovered the first Azlanti site ever in the Chuul Expanse.
Just after Dias discovered the door, the attacks began. Screeching, vile ape-men, known as the charau-ka, erupted from the jungle and flooded the camp, killing dozens of Explorers and their workers. The camp fought off the assault, but they continued day after day. Dias ordered the construction of a palisade wall, desperately attempting to keep the charau-ka at bay. After weeks of alternating assaults and construction, the Azlant Ridge excavation found itself behind defensible walls, but cut off. Worse, every time the charau-ka drew near, the ivory sphere in the ground glowed uncomfortably bright, surrounding the entire camp in a nimbus of magical energy that prevented the use of any magical travel spells. And since the charau-ka attacked every day and were rarely far away, even between raids, the sphere glowed constantly, effectively trapping the Explorers in their camp.
After months of siege, Dias grew desperate. Even though work continued on the site, she needed to both re-supply her camp and solve the mystery of the door. Her camp workers were getting sick with various jungle maladies, her Explorers were hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, and the mercenaries they had brought with them for protection were nearly all dead — those who weren’t spent most days planning their escape from the Pathfinder excavation site.
Those plans gave Dias an idea. She gathered the two healthiest remaining Explorers and the mercenaries, and told them to take a rubbing of the door along with a message for Venture-Captain Drandle Dreng in Archemaine and make a break for Bloodeye under cover of darkness. That night, they rushed out of the excavation’s palisade gates and ran all night through the jungle with shrieking ape-men picking them off one by one.
Several days later, one of the Explorers made it to Bloodeye and stumbled into the Society’s tiny lodge there, run by Malika Fenn. He relayed Dias’s information and then collapsed from exhaustion. Fenn in turn hired a local wizard and magically contacted Dreng, explaining the desperate situation at Azlant Ridge.
Dreng took his council on the matter from the Pathfinder Society’s Master of Spells, Aram Zey. Aram recognized the rubbing of the door at once, explaining that he’d recently catalogued a mysterious golden key in the vaults with similar markings. It was possible, Zey surmised, that the Azlant Ridge expedition had found the door that the key opened. Zey gathered Explorers and teleported them to Bloodeye to gather supplies for Azlant Ridge. From there, the Explorers were to run their supplies to Azlant Ridge, resupply the camp, and deliver the golden key to Dias.
Little did the Pathfinder Society know that the charau-ka, in their failed assaults on the camp, had aroused the ire of their champion, a four-armed ape monstrosity known as an angazhani. As the Explorers drew closer to Azlant Ridge, hotly pursued by the Aspis Consortium, the next wave of charau-ka headed right for the camp, with their 2,000 pound champion leading the way.
A mighty battle ensued, with the provisions brought by the Explorers bolstering the resolve of the defenders. Caught between palisade walls and the horde of ape-men, the Aspis Consortium pleaded with the Explorers to let them inside, and with a hasty truce, Explorers and Aspis fought side by side against the common foe, while the group sent by Aram Zey delved inside the structure, using the key he had provided them.
Inside, they found monolithic statues and a series of chambers that held the remains of long-dead protectors. The spirits of the protectors, warped by eons of idleness and the ancient magics of the site, attacked the Explorers, not knowing them friend or foe. After a terrible battle, and suffering severe injury, the Explorers defeated the undead, and discovered the remains of their physical forms, mostly become dust. Six Azlanti swords remained, however, six of the most valuable ancient Azlanti relics discovered. These guardians were protecting an even greater power, a control for the magnificent monoliths.
Possession of the strange metal box enabled an unwilling transfer of the psyche of the holder from his own body to that of one of the great metal giants. Sensing the external threat from the ape-men and their champion, the giant four-armed angazhani, the monolithic golem strode from within, out past the great doors, and chased off the beast and his minions.
Many brave Explorers lost gifts that day, and to date, some of them have never turned up, their spirits believed lost in that terrible expanse of jungle. As for the dig site, once the threat had fled, the monolith returned to its position inside the structure and would not budge. The great sphere became dim and silent once more.
Juliet Dias honored her word and gave the surviving Aspis leave to return to Bloodeye. She ordered the sphere and the doorway sealed and reburied, took the key and the magic box and fled for the coast, where Aram Zey promised to have a ship waiting for the Explorers.
A petition is going around to reopen the Azlant dig site, as a base of operations for Explorers’ endeavors deeper into the Chuul Expanse. The project has not been officially taken up by a sponsor as of Maalbring 1333 YS.