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.
The first couple of days trek passed easily, then they noticed tracks of a small herd of huge dinosaurs (brontosaurus) who seemed to be heading in roughly the same direction. The Brontos were eating bushes of Heart’s Ease berries – very rare plants, from which a herbalist can brew potions of healing.
The two elves decided, as they only need half as much sleep as the rest, and can see in the dark, they would go ahead and try to overtake the Brontos before they reached the next patch of berries.
They managed to find the herd – 5 huge monsters – and Illidrian bravely sneaked between them to pluck the berries. They escaped with enough to attempt to brew 3 potions.
Ariel ran into a velociraptor (a turkey-sized dinosaur predator) and used his Animal Friendship spell to tame it. It is now friendly to him (for 24 hours) but not to the other members of the party – however, it is a pack hunter and will take “orders” from the druid.
Juma suddenly noticed the Staff was tugging to the south, when they passed a narrow cleft in the rocks. The hidden trail led down a ravine with a lot of week-old old goblin tracks.
The clearing at the end of the ravine contained a big hill, overgrown with ivy. The ivy had been recently cut back, revealing that the central stone hill was carved into a statue of a man carrying a Froghemoth (a bloated tentacled frog-like monster) on his back.
The white ends of the trimmed ivy reveal it has been cut back in the last few weeks. The chopped Ivy has been piled into huge mounds behind the hill. The man’s legs form huge columns and between the feet is a 10ft wide and 20ft high tunnel, mostly blocked by wispy, dry cobwebs.
Scattered about and mostly torn to shreds were a dozen goblin tents and lots of fly-buzzing corpses of goblins with their bodies ripped open and guts spilled out. Most had their brains, livers and hearts missing.
From a wooden stockade with 7 ft fence came a squawk from a peculiar flightless bird – almost man-sized, like an ostrich but with a heavy-looking axe-like beak. The locals had seen these before and knew this was a fledgling – the full-size birds are more like the size of a cart-horse.
Ariel again used an Animal Friendship spell. Ront was becoming annoyed (partly due to the magical effect of the Mask of Wongo) as these animal friends, didn’t become friendly to him, despite attempts to offer them food.
Then the fledgling axe-beak leapt over the walls and pecked at Ront, screeching and warbling. Answering squawks came from the huge mound of vines and soon they were being attacked by full-sized axe-beaks. Ront let the Rage of Wongo overwhelm him and began hacking the huge birds down.
Grey hid behind one of the tents and shot deadly arrows at them. Illidrian stepped into the tunnel to avoid the birds and “discovered” a pit trap (20ft down onto poisoned spikes). With great effort he managed to balance on a thin ledge around the edge and reached the far side, where a wall rose about 7ft to the next section of tunnel.
He tried to climb the wall and “discovered” the scything blades trap that cut him down. Fortunately, lying flat on the upper section meant the blades just skimmed overhead so he was only bleeding out, not dead.
Ariel ducked inside too, as did Juma, trying to get far enough away from the enraged Ront that he wouldn’t accidentally attack them too when he ran out of birds.
Grey got worried when there was only him, a couple of birds (about to flee) and the savage half-orc. So he sprinted inside, leaping the pit and parkour-ing up to the higher level where he managed to dodge the blades and stabilise Illidrian.
Perhaps beginning to realise that the Mask (although powerful) might actually be cursed, Ront saw the movement in the tunnel and when the last of the birds fled out of sight, couldn’t manage to stop raging and followed them in. He hacked down Ariel, knocking him into the pit where he fell unconscious. Then Juma managed to wake Ariel by using his Mage Hand to cram the healing berries into his mouth (wasting the whole batch to give Ariel a single hp).
Juma then bravely grabbed the unconscious (but stable) Illidrian and tried to drag them both into the pit, intending to rely on his Featherfall spell. Unfortunately running away from Ront when he is berserk is not safe and the half-orc blindly struck Juma down. The two unconscious companions fell hard. Ariel was able to stabilise Juma, but brave Illidrian was really unlucky and bled out before he could be helped (must have landed on a spike). [GM:Really sorry, but for a Rogue, the words “I check for traps” are really important and should become second nature in future]
Grey feared for his own life, especially when the half-orc managed to rip the scything blades out of their mechanism, but Ront managed to snap out of his rage just in time.
They dragged Ariel and Juma out of the pit and rested in the 10ft by 10ft section where the blades used to be.
They hadn’t considered that this entire dungeon area re-sets at nightfall. The Pit Trap re-sets. The Blades re-set and are triggered by weight on the floor (exactly where they are resting). !!!
[GM:Next session will start with saving throws against the scything blades! A new replacement character will be found outside – maybe a captive of the goblins in a pit under a grate, unnoticed under one of the fallen tents – the exhausted captive will have been woken-up by the noise of the fight and has spent the night trying to decide whether to draw attention to themselves or not]