Despite the faint tugging sensation from Juma’s Staff, urging him to go south into the Jungle, they decided to return to Malar’s Throat and spend a night in Juma’s hovel.
Grey, the northerner was still missing – in the City on some business of his own – but had visited The Throat while they were away and told Juma’s neighbour that they should leave a message for him if they had to go anywhere.
That night Juma had dreams about the priestess with the Staff – more visions of the fertility dance.
Ront’s dreams were troubled too – since he attuned himself to the Mask of the Monkey God, his temper had grown shorter and his lust for violence and blood simmered just below the surface.
The two elves, Illidrian and Ariel, passed the night in meditation, exchanging worried looks as their companions tossed and turned. Early next morning there was a commotion, shouting voices outside but the weary adventurers stayed in bed until the cries became more urgent and a large winged beast swooped just over the thatched roof. They finally left the hut in time to see a Pterafolk (a large humanoid flying reptile) swoop over the tree-line heading south. It was ridden by a yellow and black grung (small humanoid frog).
One of the two unofficial leaders of the Malar’s Throat community was Flask of Wine (a Tabaxi Guide). He was running after the creature, trying to reload his crossbow.
The Tabaxi had been woken by stones flung at his window and then the Grung had shouted at him from a nearby tree, “if you want to see River Mist again, give me the stick”
River Mist was his wife’s name. She was out hunting in the forest and hadn’t yet returned.
The “stick” was a magic item that another grung (a young green one called Flerrk) had sold him yesterday in exchange for whiskey.
Flask had shot at the grung, wounding him and then leapt into the trees to try and catch him. Unfortunately the Pterafolk swooped down and carried the yellow grung away. Ariel recognises the Grung Shaman, Blipblop and knows that Flerrk is his son. They realised that the Pterafolk looked ver badly wounded, maybe even already dead. UNDEAD!
They worked out that Juma’s 3ft Staff was pointing at the short 1ft section (but it was the base of a staff and a 2ft section was still missing from the middle. Juma attuned to the short section, discovering it contained a spell of Hold Person and then realised that both bits were pointing South, after the Grung Shaman and the Zombie Pterafolk.
They told Flask and he accompanied them into the jungle.
It only took a couple of hours to reach a clearing where Illidrian tried to scout ahead, nut was spotted and shot by a grung warrior hidden in a tree. The bolt was poisoned.
There was a tough fight in which Ront went berserk, finding that the mask turned his usual Rage into a mindless frenzy “Battlerager!”. This even made him lash out at an ally (Flask) as the cat man tried to walk past him. He nearly killed the cat-man in one blow, but Flask survived and tried to take the grung shaman alive for questioning. Ront used the Mask to cast thunderblast and killed the unconscious shaman. They finished the battle but Ront had gone insane and started chasing and smashing his companions. Eventually he snapped out of it.
They found River Mist tied up in the bushes and the two Tabaxi ran off into the forest, telling Juma he could keep the Staff (the shaman had the third and final piece). They also said that Ront was too dangerous to be welcomed in Malar’s Throat.
They returned to Juma’s hut but Flask asked him to leave. He suggested they go to the Library in the City, but this would risk Wakanga Otamu learning of the Staff and the Mask and confiscating them. Instead Flask suggested they go to the Monastery of Harmonious Order where there was another library with info about the Nine Gods. It was 4-6 days march through the jungle.