May 15 2019
In the "morning", the group notices that a pyramid, central to the city structures is a hub of much activity. Curiosity plagues the party, as they wonder what mysteries this undiscovered place may hold.
The cleric Caller of Path speaks to his god in early prayer, asking for the clarity to find way unto these many secrets. His words are seemingly unheard by the divine, but in his lament a previously unseen staircase suspiciously finds its way into his view. Taking his prayer candle in-hand, the humble cleric sets the party downward into the depths of the cavern and to the outskirts of this unexplored city.
Led by the halfling Sava Smallman, they follow in darkness as to avoid drawing attention to themselves as they carry forward. This proves problematic as tiny winged dragonlings besiege the group, pestering them with little bites and scratches. Realizing that a little blood loss to these flying vermin would be less trouble than the cost of a larger altercation, the gang allows the baby dragons to peck at them with no greater mind than one would pay mosquitoes in a swamp.
Upon reaching landfall, the halfling races ahead to scout the surrounding area. She finds a stream that leads passed several ruined buildings, now home to none but rats, and unfrequented roads in poor repair that lead inward to the city proper. With no sign of the apelike beings or other intelligent life, she returns to the group and suggests its safety. They light torches and proceed, in kind.
Together, the band carries along the stream towards a broken tower that they spot in the distance. It seems uninhabited, and a safe place to park themselves for the moment. Yet, as they march, a group of well-armed apefolk turns corner some hundred feet ahead of them. Carrying large spears and leashes, this group of about one dozen patrols with a small pack of dog-sized lizard creatures. It seems unlikely that the adventurers will find adequate cover to hide before they are in eyesight.
Stepping forward to intercept them, Orla the Snake-Witch speaks some arcane words and aims to set a magical charm unto the soldiers. Caller of Path prays for his god to sanctify the ground beneath them as a holy and protected space.
Meanwhile, Theiline the young squire calls upon his own deity to know the hearts of these apefolk, praying to find goodness within; It is a naive gesture.
The ape-men begin firing crossbow bolts about the party, striking none but startling all. They shout forth for surrender, prepared to strike again lest their warning shots be ignored. Outnumbered, the adventurers desist until they are surrounded on all sides by the troop. Two of the largest apefolk, bearing the standards of their clan, step forward to question their captives.
Caller of Path does his best to eloquently explain the group's meager desire to find their way home, and the soldiers agree not to kill them presently. The party's fate would best be decided by the apefolk's elder leaders, and thus the entire party is taken prisoner as Sava, Orla, and Grog the Strong are led by escort to the tower they had once thought abandoned. All others are kept under close watch by the soldiers, while their fate is decided.
In a room at the top of the tower, above a long and winding staircase, the leaders of the apefolk reveal themselves in fancy robes, decorated with astrological symbols. They offer their charges fruit and tea, but only the halfling is spirited enough to eat. The elder apes listen, as Orla explains her mission and in turn, the apes question the group's motives.
Through their conversations with Orla, the elders reveal that the city of apes is far from a unified state. Several differing tribes live in conflict with one another, and that valuing wisdom and enlightenment the group that these elder apes represent House Zamoush, the sole tribe of civility. Respecting these values, Sava offers them a parchment covered in runes that she had pilfered from her dead boyfriend's body. They take it, barely offering thanks.
Orla probes for more information, learning of the other tribes; the militant House Virdius, and rebellious House Tarex. The elder apes ask Orla what she hopes to accomplish, and she reveals her desire for ultimate magical power. Although it is a startling revelation to hear from such an outsider, the leader-apes come to respect the earnestness of her expression and offer a small building for the party to reside while their fates are deliberated upon.
Within this building they are well cared for, though kept under strict guard. The party is given food, and all the accommodation that they need, as they are made to wait three days while the leaders of House Zamoush come to their decision.
During this time, the group learns of the dragon Servok and the faith that House Virdius has placed in him, believing him to be the living avatar of a powerful god named Baphotek-Core. There are many within House Zamoush who carry doubts on this truth.
After the days of waiting, the group is brought back to the tower to speak with the elders who now have a purpose in mind for the adventurers. They seek to smuggle the party near the avatar Servok, and create a clever ambush wherein they will slay the dragon and reveal the falseness of his divinity; setting balance and truth unto the ape city once more. In exchange, House Zamoush will provide permanent sanctuary once the deed is complete.
Without much option, the party accepts the task.
Later in the day, the adventuring group is accompanied by a troop of ten soldiers and five heralds who lead them through the city. On their tour, the group plays witness to the reality of the society and they realize how unsafe it is. Fights and brutalities are common, and they witness several harsh acts that would leave creatures of their stature permanently maimed.
Their escort leads them to the city core, and the steps of a pyramid where two well decorated ape-men guard an entrance. With no brighter plan, the party seizes their concealed weapons and blitzes forward in an incredibly obvious assault. Seeing the oncoming non-apes, the guards sound horns that draw the attention of surrounding hordes who rush to the city center.
Now surrounded by enclosing walls of ape-soldiers in all directions, the group has but one option to survive; enter the pyramid and close the gates behind them. Above them now flaps the wings of a massive green dragon that roars and swoops toward the band. Javelins fly toward them from all directions, striking Orla and the farmgirl Luxia as they scramble up the large staircase to the pyramid entrance. Treiline prays again to his god, this time asking for safety, but the only response is another javelin to strike him down and unconscious.
Luxia grips her trusted pitchfork and grits teeth as she skewers one of the two standing guards, pushing her way inside. Grog and the cleric known as Magic the Dwarf finish the second and follow suit. Soon all are inside, and Sava trips the portcullis to close the gate as she watches Treiline's still wheezing body overrun by the trampling feet of House Virdius' soldiers as they stampede toward her.
With the gate tricked shut, the party has a moment of calm and reflection for the dead whom they barely knew. Their gaze panning around to view tapestries which depict vivid artworks highlighting the god Baphotek-Core's greatest cruelties. Two staircases at the end of the entrance hall lead upward to the left and the right, a silvery pool between them. As the group cautiously marches forward, large swinging blades let loose across the path, barely missing their heads.
Deftly avoiding the booby traps, each member makes their way through the bladed hall to the pool before ascending the rightmost stairs. It leads them to a dark throne room with a black chair and a statue of the dragon they had previously witnessed. A woman with a sword gestures to the group from a shade of comfortable looking pillows. She beckons them to join her and relax while pouring wine.
Caller begins to protest her seductions, but before words can escape his lips, two hidden assassins jump to murder Groote the Soft-Spoken. His comrade Bagel the Healer rushes to arms, but cannot save his best friend. Luxia joins the skirmish late, but skewers one of the killers with her pitchfork as Grog clears the other's head off in response.
In the chaos, Sava is mobbed by the concubine woman and knocked out cold. Caller of Path rushes to her rescue, calling upon the divine power of his god to heal the little one.
Grog steadies his weapon and attacks the woman, knocking her sword to the ground. Luxia follows with her pitchfork, upending the woman and tossing her to the floor also. From below, the concubine shouts a foreign word, and the dais in the center of the room begins to rise. From an opening in the ceiling, the green dragon Servok enters, perching himself atop it.
Terrified of the beast, and grateful for her life, Sava dives among the concubine's pillows to hide. In the process, she kicks up a cloud of poisonous dust that slows her body and dulls her mind.
Caller of Path speaks word from his deity and commands the woman to surrender, while Orla attempts to conjure magical ropes to bind the dragon. Both are failed in their attempts as the dragon descends into the room.
From its great mouth, the dragon speaks and the concubine bolts to his dais, escaping as it rises back upward to the hole in the ceiling. She scrambles out the top, leaving none but the party and this avatar of a god within the throne room.
Orla summons a ball of magical energy and whips it at the dragon's snout, enraging it. In return, Servok opens its maw and breaths fire all over Merelyn the Maiden and Grog. It then swoops forward and bites Orla, nearly ripping her in two. She falls to the ground, unconscious.
Quickly, Bagel the Healer rushes to save Grog from his burns. Caller does likewise for Orla, rescuing her life from the clutches of death.
Furiously, Orla rises and summons her greatest magics. Sacrificing her strength for ability, she attempts to summon magical ropework again while Servok volleys a counterspell. As if dueling in some realm outside their own, the dragon and witch lock gaze as their powers clash. Intense power can be felt by all near, as their conflict rages inside them.
Then, a string appears; It grows into a yarn, twists into a rope, and extends to wrap itself around the mouth and body of the dragon. The rope tightens at Orla's command, compressing Servok's wings and flattening him to the ground. With a gesture, it drags him forward, helpless and bound before her. For the first time, mortal fear seeps into the mind of the once proud beast.
With no hesitation, the others jump to stab the dragon a thousand times over with their blades. In glee they rip through his flesh and ravish Servok's helpless body, ultimately beheading him in triumph.
From above, the concubine watches in horror and calls to them when they are done bathing in dragon blood. Considering her harmless, and in their delight, the group awaits her descent. She chastises them as fools, and warns of the trouble they unwittingly have set upon her and themselves.
Revealing a gem from her pocket she urges the party to follow her, lest they face the furious soldiers of House Viridus. She then uses the gem to create a portal away from the pyramid, and into some world unknown. With only moments to choose, the group rushes into the portal and unto their next adventure.
-- As scribed by one of the participants of these events.