Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Saga of Majenko Part Five: Brother to The Shoanti

Before we get started with the latest installment, I'd like to remind readers that if you're not caught up yet, you should check out the rest of the Saga of Majenko before reading further. Technically you don't need to, but it will eliminate confusion if you follow the story from level one.
All caught up? Great. So, when last we left our intrepid adventurers...

Part Five: Brother to The Shoan-Ti

So, last time we met, our party had met up with a peppy priestess of Zon-Kuthon, become the undisputed champions of the new game Blood Pig, and stealthily smuggled out an artist being held captive by a madman who had dubbed himself the Emperor of Old Korvosa. Said artist, out of gratitude, tells us that the city's seneschal, Neolandis Kalapopolis, was being kept safe in the basement of the Arkona estate. The Arkonas, of course, are a major crime family that more or less runs this part of the city. So we hot foot it over there, only to find out that, while the family has indeed been keeping him down there, they don't actually know where he is. It's a labyrinth, and they sure as hell aren't going to tell a party of elite city watch the combination to their personal dungeon. If we want him back, we'll have to find him ourselves.

The screams stopped two weeks ago. He's probably fine.
With no time to lose, we head on down for the dungeon crawl. There's an angry elephant statue, a shambling plant monster, a couple of bizarre Vudran demons, a few magic symbols, and a rahshasa whose shit we have no time for. All in all, your average dungeon crawl. We find the seneschal, along with Vencarlo Oricini, the guy who is totally not Blackjack, who finally admits his secret identity to us. Once we rescue the two of them, we hop into a boat, and sail out of the Arkona's secret smuggling tunnel.

That's when Neolandis drops some solid street exposition on us. According to him, the queen is no longer the queen. The pretty young girl who slept her way to the highest position of the city was poking around in the chambers beneath the castle, and while she was there she found something she didn't understand. They were the fangs of Kasavon, and ancient servant of Zon-Kuthon. A dracolich of extreme power, his form and essence were cut into pieces and spread halfway across the globe to prevent him from returning to power. Now his soul has possessed part of the queen, and the only people who know more than that are the secretive Shoanti.

Fortunately for us, we did a favor for one of their elders a couple of levels ago. So we blow out of town to go collect.

Brotherhood and Blood

We stop at Kaer Maga to re-load, re-fuel. Our gnomish evoker decides to bugger off once he's clear of Korvosa, and we continue on with the cleric, the fighter, the duelist, and the magus all in the retinue of the great and powerful Majenko as they head off to save the world.

They're around here... somewhere...
We set off into the Cinderlands, looking for the Shoanti. We wander, and we wander, and then just for variety we wander some more. Due to great fortune, some eyes in the sky, and some pretty great survival checks, we find our way to the tribe of Thousand Bones, the elder whom we helped out when his grandson's body was stolen by a necromancer. We tell him our tale, and he agrees that the threat we face is grave. It could mean the rise of an ancient evil, a new age of darkness, and the deaths of untold thousands.

If only he could help.

I Smell A Fetch Quest!

Due to the complicated and distrusting nature of the Shoanti, us being outsiders to their tribe means that they won't share their knowledge with us. While they agree that the rise of Kasavon would be a terrible thing, if he is forcing his way back into the world it is the Shoanti's prerogative to fight him, not that of chamak (a Shoanti word for outsider that usually means those with shit for honor). So, we have a few options. We can throw up deuces, and go off to save the city our own way. We can kick down the doors, brutalize an already hunted and poorly treated native people until they give us the answers we demand, or we can start jumping through hoops to prove to them that we are serious about helping, and that we should be trusted as part of the tribe.

Being a good-aligned party with the capability of perceiving the writing on the wall, we opt for the third choice.

I still say we could take 'em.
It's at this point we find out about the legend of a man who was dead, and reborn. What happened was that he was so determined to leave behind the person he was, that he allowed himself to be eaten by a created called Cindermaw. When he emerged from inside the beast his past self was declared dead, and his new self was accepted as an official member of the Shoanti. So all we have to do is find a Truth Speaker (a position in Shoanti society whose word is accepted as fact), persuade said individual to walk out into the heart of the badlands, get eaten by a massive (and apparently immortal) creature, and then somehow survive the experience, before returning back to the Shoanti. If you're wondering what we're looking at, it's what's happening on page 84 and 85 of the Core Rulebook.

Piece of cake, right?

The Long Sleep of Cindermaw

So, after lifting a siege, defeating entirely too many monsters, an encounter with a tentacle beast in a forgotten crypt, and an ambush by four more red mantis assassins (two of which are handily dispatched by the pseudodragon's poisonous sneak attack), we manage to procure a truth speaker who agrees to watch us do something monumentally and suicidally stupid. So we truck out into the desert, until we manage to find the colossal, multi-mawed beast that may very well be the same Cindermaw from the original myth. It roars at us, and without any further discussion, we all run right into its jaws.

It's a party in your mouth!
So, we dive in, get swallowed, and are about halfway down the beast's gullet when we decide that's far enough for naturalization purposes. We start cutting a hole, trying to dig out way out like some terrible, internal Cesarean birth. The fighter is gouging with her dagger, the rogue/magus is cutting with his kukri, and Majenko is stabbing wildly with his tail. Cindermaw is not immune to poison, but its fortitude save is so ridiculous that there's only one way it will make any difference.

Hey look, foreshadowing!
Despite Majenko's intense potency, and Cindermaw's natural one, we cut out way out first. Covered in gore and ichor, the party stands triumphant. Egil promptly pours an alchemist fire over his own head to burn away the remnants of the creature, since if you're going to have fire resistance 5 you may as well use it. Cindermaw, deciding it had enough of over-eager food, sandwormed off into the distance. Once it was off camera it dug a pit, and went to sleep. For a while.

And Now We Set The Hoops On Fire!

So, we return to the tribe. The Truth Speaker tells the Shoanti what he saw, and we are inducted into the ranks. We are no longer Chamak; instead, we are members of the tribe!

But they still can't tell us what we need to know.

Are you fucking with me?
In order to get the rest of the legend, we have to become specific members of the Sun tribe, whose shaman is the one with the information we require. Exasperated, but not wanting to damage the good will we've already earned through displays of intense testicular fortitude, we ask what we have to do. Nothing big, really... just drag these three pillars up a steep slope to the top of a mountain, and put them in some rounded depressions. Then hold them up for three days and three nights.

No problem. Or, at least, there isn't a problem until we're attacked by three bullettes.

Majenko To The Rescue!

At first it seems as if we're going to do just fine, sleep-deprived as we are. Barriers hold them back for a little bit, and magic is flying from the cleric and the magus. The land sharks make it up the mountain, though, and that's when shit gets real. They're dealing on the cleric, and the tiefling goes down. In fact, if not for the troll styptic he slapped on himself, and the fast healing it gave him, he'd have been no more.

That's enough of that.
The cleric manages to charm one of the monsters, and the big gray beast now affectionately dubbed Shep starts savaging one of his previous brethren. The fighter is slashing and smashing, and Majenko curves around for a flank, stabbing it right between its plates. The beast not only fails its saving throw against his sleep venom, but falls off the top of the mountain and dies from the damage. The last remaining bullette succumbs to the assault of the rest of the party, and wonder of wonders we managed to keep the pillars relatively vertical.

So, we're alive, we have a (temporary) pet land shark, and we are now members of the tribe of the sun. Did they share the rest of the myth with us, and present the party with the next part of the journey? Find out next time on The Saga of Majenko: A Slog Through Scarwall!

If you have a gaming story of your own, whether it's an official adventure path or just something from a friend's homebrew, I'd love to put it up on Table Talk! Just send an email, and let me know. Also, don't forget to follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter to keep up on my latest posts, and if you'd like to throw a little support behind Improved Initiative then stop by my Patreon page to toss a little bread in my jar!

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