Arriving off the coast of the big island late in the morning, it was decided that Bob, Urol, Ro’ak, and the rest of the sailors would remain behind on the Dawn’s Fury while everyone else, including Logan and Tavey ventured inland to the village of Tanaroa.
Upon arriving in Tanaroa, Mal spent some time checking in with various individuals, making sure that the Vanderborens had not passed southward through the gate, which they hadn’t.
Additionally, attempts were made by Bargathungar to trade parrot feathers for expensive items, but the people of the village did not understand him, and his waving around and bizarre, potentially-threatening manner made them reluctant to approach him.
Moving northward through the gate, the party moved westward along the coastline, searching for signs of tracks or anything else that might lead them towards their quarry. Since the last they’d heard from Drevoraz was that they were in the mountains off to the west, finding tracks wasn’t the highest priority… yet.
So, on the first night out, during the first watch, an unusually large number of bats were observed circling over the camp. Nothing was done, though this was pointed out to the second watch. Over the next few hours, the number of bats seemed to increase, and there seemed to be a pattern of sorts emerging from their flying. Certain bats seemed to be flying in regular, rhythmic patterns.
And then a large flying fox was noted “standing” at attention outside the camp. While considering what to do, another was noted… and then another. While waking the rest of the group up, after looking around, they realized that they had been surrounded by approximately 12 of the creatures.
Aldrick moved to investigate one of the nearer ones as the other members of the party moved to stay close.
As he did so, the bats above tightened their flying pattern into a vortex of swirling bats, which tornado-like, touched down where the group had slept not a minute before. Standing, hunched over, where a hundreds of smaller bats had just been flying, was a single humanoid creature with a bat-like head and black, leathery wings. It sniffed the air for a moment and called the group “Defilers” in Olmecan, which only Mal understood.
The group tried to address it, but it didn’t seem to understand. It said something, which Mal immediately understood to be a command in Olmecan, demanding that the creature be given back something that had been stolen from him. Mal translated. Then he tried to explain that they hadn’t stolen anything from him. The creature approached.
Aldrick and the others suggested possible things that they had acquired during their time on the island as things that might have been “stolen” by this creature. Item after item was rejected as not being the sought after item.
The creature, hunched over, with its breathy voice rasping out kept insisting it knew it was among the group.
Then Aldrick allowed the creature to see Tavey’s dagger, which elicited a “Yes!” from the creature as it moved towards them. Tavey, panicking, turned and attempted to run, but not before Barga could trip him up and Aldrick could take the dagger from his hands. As he did so, Tavey began crying hysterically “You don’t know what you’re doing!” and “I need it!” and “Don’t give it to him!”.
Aldrick gave the dagger to the creature. As he did so, the creature caressed it like a long-lost heirloom and moved back a few steps. Soon afterwards, the bat-man had turned back into a cloud of bats and disappeared into the night sky. The flying foxes snapped out of their stupor and flew away. The only change was now a hysterical Tavey who, over the span of a few minutes, curled himself into a ball of catatonic misery.
The rest of the night passed uneventfully, leaving them well rested for the following day’s journey into the mountains on the southwestern edge of the island.
During the late morning hours, still following the coast, the group found one of the long-abandoned cities of the Olmecan people who had once spread across this island. Many of the stone buildings remained, but most had been damaged by the unforgiving climate and unpredictable weather.
Following tracks, the group carefully approached a large partially-ruined building that, from the outside, had the appearance of a temple or other cultural building. Moving around the perimeter, one could see through the holes in the walls and the gaps in the columns and eventually a single death-ravaged zombie was seen sitting on an elevated stage.
Bargathungar, not wishing to allow such a creature to live, launched an attack. A woman’s cry of “Defilers” in Olmecan came from within.
As the battle began, two other zombies were noticed, but as they moved closer, it became obvious that they were not zombies, but rather animated statues. And then they noticed the “woman”, a medusa with bat wings, as she leaped across the temple and into battle.
The battle raged, and the statues were little more than annoyances, though there were several close calls as the group did their best to avoid meeting the medusa’s deadly gaze, even as she grappled with Sahrthin and eventually flew up into the air with him… only to be slain shortly afterwards, dropping both of them to the ground.
Upon examining the temple proper, a lightning bolt from Carric had blasted away some vines from a back wall, revealing a mosaic tile image of Camazotz, the bat-god of the Olmecan people. This was behind an interesting altar with metallic bat-wings attached to the side.
Examining the altar, it was noted that it seemed to be able to be tipped backwards towards the wall. As they did so, a trap was revealed as the two wings snapped forward, slicing into those who had pushed the altar back. However, what was under the altar was a collection of old Olmecan coins, portable art objects, and a number of gemstones. All of these were thrown into the bag of holding.
As they did so, however, an ominous reddish-black darkness spread across the gaps in the temple walls and between the columns that had just a moment ago been clear. Touching one, it was discovered to have a somewhat resilient quality about it, though it did push into the space between the walls.
Aldrick decided to experiment and push into the darkness, which he was able to do for several feet. After he was not able to make any more progress, he decided to attack the darkness. Upon doing so, though, he howled in pain and fell backwards and was pushed out of the darkness, with a gaping wound in his side. Apparently the darkness had turned his blade against him. The darkness seemed impassible.
Meanwhile, others had noticed that there seemed to be a hidden door in the mosaic wall, and through some judicious breaking of tile, they were able to uncover a narrow staircase leading downward into darkness that was illuminated by their light from above.
Moving down the stairs, they arrived at a landing where there was a single portcullis/gate to the right and a brass wheel set into the wall straight ahead. Sahrthin decided to start bending the bars, which wasn’t terribly difficult to do, as Aldrick decided to turn the wheel, which also wasn’t terribly difficult to do. As he did so, the portcullis raised to the point where it couldn’t go up any higher due to the damage metal. The wheel was jammed in place and the group moved on.
The next space was an open room with another brass wheel set into the wall on the opposite side of the room. Checking around, a hidden door was found near the wheel. Aldrick began to turn the wheel, which immediately dropped the floor out of the room, causing Sahrthin to fall into a pit. Getting back out wasn’t difficult, and maneuvering everyone through the now-opened hidden door was easy.
Continuing down the corridor, the group was met by a brass trap-door set into the ceiling and several brass handholds along the walls leading up to it. Suspecting a trap, Aldrick examined the surrounding area for trap doors, which revealed a hidden door that led into a dark room parallel to the room with the trap-door in the ceiling.
Some of the group decided to examine ahead to make sure there were no traps, while others remained in the trap-door room, and still others moved into the recently discovered room. Another door was found in the latter, which prompted everyone to convene in the discovered room.
Opening the door revealed a dark room with a tiled floor. The tiled depicted many creatures and people, though on closer examination it was learned that many of the creatures were in fact Olmecan gods. The group tried to damage the tiles, with no effect.
Deciding the room to be safe, they moved in, and discovered a curtain wall made of blue and white seashells along the far wall. It was not flammable.
Sahrthin noted that there was a statue (perhaps an ossified corpse?) seated in a throne with a metal rod held in its lap. Aldrick moved into the room as Sahrthin held the curtains open with his javelins. Aldrick flicked the rod off the statue, but when he picked it up off the floor, his mind became flooded with images of Olmecan glory and culture and a near-overwhelming desire to be Olmecan, which he realized was a rather stupid thing for him to want to be, so he dropped the rod.
Mal, standing nearby, picked up the rod over the objections of Aldrick, and he, too, came to understand the majesty of the Olmecan way of life and a soul-crushing realization that his not being Olmecan was a devastating loss that he might never recover from. The rod was knocked out of his hands, but it took quite a few minutes for this feeling and the beliefs to pass.
Deciding that the rod was best left untouched for now, it was thrown into the bag of holding and the group moved back into the trap-door room.
Thinking that the trap-door was indeed a trapped door, they opted to investigate the other corridor leading away from the room. They followed it until they entered a small chamber with a single slab of green jade forming a section of wall. As Sahrthin examined it, he realized that it was on a rounded base and had a rounded top, so it could rock back and forth inside its frame.
They decided to begin rocking it back and forth and then when it was far enough, to grab it from the sides and pull it into the room.
It would have been a good plan had it not been for the mummified centaur that kicked the door to the ground from the other side as they had their plan underway.
Next week: Tamoachan