Ront and Gray carried the others out into the storm drains and waited an hour or two for them to wake up. It was about 3:00am when they clambered out (Gray now has a key to the grate padlocks). They decided to return to Tre’Max, the blacksmith.
[GM: Gray’s player couldn’t make it, so Gray (the ranger) went off on a private mission, arranging to meet them at Juma’s place the following evening.]
Tre’Max answered his door, pale and afraid. He told them he had had more visitors less than an hour before – two men, burly sailors who work for M’Bolla (a smuggler captain – known to be pretty tough). They were asking questions about an Elf called Ariel and a couple of Northerners!
It seems M’Bolla wants something back that has been stolen from him – and also wants some revenge for a couple of his men who were killed. He’s offered a reward of 20gp for information about these people.
An hour later, while Juma is meditating to attune himself to the magic staff, there is knocking at the door. It turns out to be Illidrian (another Elf, a friend of Ariel – they share an apartment in the City). Ariel had told his friend where they were, yesterday afternoon. Half an hour ago, Illidrian had been forced to escape through his bedroom window, when three “pirates” smashed in his front door shouting for Ariel to surrender. As they are both elves, it seemed unwise to reason with them that it was a case of mistaken identity, so Illidrian fled and came to find Ariel.
[GM: Illidrian is the character of a new player – a rogue with the entertainer background]
When Juma finishes his attunement with the Staff, he has some vivid visions. In the dream, he is a woman, leading a group of frantically-dancing native warriors -,fire-light, sweat and thumping drums. It is some kind of fertility dance, maybe a prelude to an orgy!
He learns that the Staff (when it is whole) can store spells. There is one spell still stored in this broken version (he hasn’t told the other players yet). He also learns that the Staff must be pretty ancient and powerful as it seems to be able to become a Warlock Patron (that means it is potentially mega-powerful when it is made whole)! It is clearly an artefact of ancient Kesh heritage, just the type of artefact that Wakanga Otamu (Merchant Prince of Antiquities) would want to remain in Kesh, and not allowed to be “culturally-appropriated” by the white devils of the north.
He also senses that the staff is “pointing” to something west of the City. There is only about 2 miles of jungle between the western gate (and Malar’s Throat – the shanty town where Juma lives) and the western shore of the peninsula.
They decide to sneak out to the west and take a look. Have to pass close to the wharf of the Anchorage and they see there are lanterns and much activity around M’Bolla’s ship – The Breath of the Wild.
Out in the jungle, past the shanty town, Juma realises they are heading for Monkey Bridge – a ruined bridge over a deep gully, close to the shore. He’s been there before, years ago and there is nothing of significance as far as he knows.
The road goes nowhere, the bridge is half-blocked by a statue of a stone baboon. The statue and the bridge itself are crude and rotten. The statue’s face has been eroded by centuries of rain.
Unusually – there appears to be a troupe of baboons, living under the bridge in a mass of twisted vines. They scream at the intruders and a couple climb to the bridge and throw a few stones.
Illidrian hurls a stone back at them and Ront rushes at them, hoping to scare them off, but the creatures are unusually brave. More scamper up and surround the half-orc, snapping at him. He backhands one of them off the bridge and then grabs another and uses it as a club to batter a third.
Ariel attempts to cast animal friendship on one of them but the baboon resists.
Juma tries to communicate with the Staff, but it seems to be exhausted. He asks it what they are supposed to do – it is pointing towards the stone baboon on the bridge, but apparently too weak to speak.
Ront (enraged) finishes off the baboons on the bridge – only one manages to flee back into the vines below. There are more baboons screeching below (these turn out to be the females of the troupe).
Ront is raging and charges at the stone statue, smacking it hard with his hammer.
Juma hears the whisper in his head from the Staff “Now he’ll show his face!”.
A carved wooden mask of a snarling baboon appears instantly, covering the eroded blank face of the statue. The statue shakes free of the plinth and seems to be in a furious frenzy. From the mask comes a thunderous scream and the creature spins round like a whirling dervish, its scream damaging Ront and hurling Ariel off the bridge!
Before he falls 100ft (likely to kill him), Juma casts featherfall to save him. The druid’s fall slows and he is able to grab at the vines below the bridge and wildshape into the form of a blonde baboon. While his friends fight the animated statue above, he engages the remaining baboons in the vines. He and the remaining male have a screaming contest, but baboon-Ariel grows bored with intimidation and knocks his rival off the bridge. He is left with the cowering females….
On the bridge, Juma is still trying to speak to the staff but all he can get from it is a whisper “the face…”. The baboon – clearly a representation of Wongo the Monkey God – is in a berserk fury, but so is Ront. He head-butts the baboon and knocks off the mask. While Ront and Illidrian fight the thing, Juma rushes in and grabs the mask.
It is a close run thing, but finally Juma finishes the creature off with a magic missile.
By the time Juma has finished examining the mask, Ariel returns from the vines below the bridge where the screeching continues even louder than before.
The Mask makes the wearer angry. Once per day it can cast thunderwave (either as a blast or by spinning round as a burst – victims who are pushed, can be directed). Once per day it can grant the wearer the RAGE of a battlerager – similar to barbarian rage, but even more mindless! If Ront puts it on, his normal barbarian rage will become “battlerager” rage. The thunderwave can be cast even by a rager. Ront takes the mask but has not yet attuned to it (will take an hour of sitting with it on).
The Staff seems pleased and now the tugging sensation points south into the jungle.
They decide to go back to Juma’s hovel, in the Malar’s Throat shanty town. They had agreed to meet Gray there.
They haven’t quite decided whether to follow the directions of the Staff (the Jungle is a dangerous place and they can’t tell how far they will have to go) or head back into town to deal with M’Bolla and his smuggling gang or whether to hand the staff over to Ambassador Vernicus.