Chapter 1 - Heroes With A Half Shell

As their ship docked at Farshore, their trophy in tow attracted a great deal of attention. First one, then two, then ten, then a flood of people - word got around the small port town very quickly: The Glutton was dead, and the Heroes of Farshore had returned.

"That's right. We're bad," Saris said as he strutted down the gangplank, "And we don't want any scite ."

He was followed closely behind by Duxsil. While the mage didn't speak, he attracted as much attention as his haughty predicessor because, hovering along behind him was the giant turtle's severed head.

Viselys stood on deck, allowing each of his companions to precede him down the gangplank. While he waited, he looked out over the growing crowd and smiled. He begrudgingly gave in to a bit of pride as he waved to that crowd. As he surveyed, looking for familiar faces, he caught sight of Avner and Mathalay Meravanchi standing near the church. Unlike the rest of the crowd, they were not excited or apparently happy. The two noblemen exchanged some course words - at least that's how it appeared to Viselys - and Avner stormed away. Then Lavinia appeared; she nodded a greeting to Mathalay, who stepped abruptly into her path to have a brusk word with her. Viselys suddenly felt a need to go to her and began down the gangplank with determination.

By the time Viselys reached Lavinia, Mathalay had already said his peace and stormed off. "What was that all about?" he asked her.

She shook her head, exasperated, "Oh, he's just upset because, of course, your victory reflects well on me and hurts him politically. At least that's how he sees it. He even tried to argue that the Glutton was a good thing as long as we had an agreement with it - that it served as protection against the Crimson Fleet and gave us a de facto monopoly on trade between the Isle and Sasserine."

Viselys nodded grimly, "What did you say?"

Lavinia grinned a half smile, "I told him that as long as you were around, I didn't have to pay protection money to anyone," and she winked at him. By this time, the others had arrived, and she addressed them all as a group, "Welcome back, my friends. I'm very eager to hear the tales of your adventures, but that will have to wait. There have been some new developments here while you were gone. If you'll join us…?" she indicated the entrance of the church.

Inside, on the dais, as expected was Vesserin Catherly, the Chaplain. With him was another familiar face - Jakara, the painted Olman warrior that the heroes had freed from the troglodyte prison in Laogroat. Vesserin had Jakara seated in a large chair, apparently to recover from his ordeals. In his hands, he was clutching an ivory scroll-tube; one which the party had not previously seen. As soon as he saw the familiar faces, he stood and called out to them in Olman.

As they had done previously, Urol and Duxsil translated for native speaker, "Ah, my saviors! Thank you again for delivering me from that cursed cavern. As I promised you then, t have a tale to tell you."

"Alright," Viselys said, holding up his hands in a 'slow down' motion, "But I'm sure you can do that from a seated position."

"Yes, I am also want you sit. Rest. No active lot," Vesserin said in very stunted Olman. Urol stepped in and restated it more correctly.

Reluctantly, Jakara sat back down, but continued on, "I have spoken with your resident priest here and with your lovely patron as well, and they have highly recommended you
for the task my master has set me upon."

Lavinia smiled very graciously, "Thank you, Jakara, but before we jump into this, perhaps some introductions? We seem to have a newcomer among us," she indicated Roark.

"Uh, yeah. I'm Roark," he half-grinned at Lavinia, then waved to Jakara. "I, uh, guess we have something in common. I was held prisoner under the island, too."

"Yeah, but at least you had the decency to stay and help us out," Saris added, though nobody opted to translate that.

"My name is Jakara. I am of the Tiger Clan, yet my people are not those of the Seven Villages." He began speaking to Roark, but then opened his address to all of them, "My tribe dwelt in a narrow valley in the mountains west of the central plateau - at least, until recently. We have long known that there was a darkness atop that taboo place, that our ancestors once dwelt there, and that they angered the gods and made this place what it is today. We do not go there. It is not safe. And for some time, what dwelt there remained there as well.

"Yet of late, things have changed. The demons who dwelt in the City of Broken Idols have turned their attentions outward, and earlier this year, my tribe was slaughtered by men wearing the skins of demon tigers. I alone survived, and long were the nights I contemplated a suicide trek to the taboo heights to avenge my kin. Yet before I fell to such a lure, I met a man from your world. This was Noltus Innersol."

At this point, Viselys held up his hand to interject for Roark's sake, "Noltus lnnersol is a missionary who visited Farshore several months before Lavinia and the rest of us arrived and who's been missing ever since he left to bring the word of Ator to the secluded tribes dwelling deep in the isle's interior."

After listening to the translation, Jakara nodded in agreement and continued, "He had already gathered a flock from the island's other tribes; lizardfolk and
phanaton and Olman alike followed him, and his words were captivating. I found much wisdom in his words, for he too had long fought against the demon host. He seemed particularly taken with my totems," he indicated his tattoos, "and my focus in opposing the demons. For a time, I traveled with him, and helped him to gather more followers. Noltus had learned of the lost village of Mantru, and his goal was to travel there, atop the central
plateau, and rescue the villagers from whatever peril kept them isolated from their kin.

"Yet he was also taken with my skills. He decided he would lead his followers to bring the word of his god to the heights, yet asked me to carry a message to your tribe of Farshore. He also asked me to spread the lore of totems to the people of the Seven Villages - it has been the wisdom of my tribe to keep such knowledge to ourselves, but I see now that it can serve no purpose if I am the last.

"Before I made it to Farshore, alas, my trail was discovered by the skin-wearing fiends. I hid Noltus's message," he held up the scroll he had been holding, "in the stump of a tree and turned to face my tormentors, but they proved too much even for me. I defeated them, but not before they stole my mind. It was not long until the troglodytes captured me, and thus my state when you discovered me wretched in their cage. After you freed me, I returned to the site of my failure to find Noltus's message safe. I have brought it here. and your priest and patron have read its contents. They wish you to read as well."

Jakata handed them the scroll tube. Crafted of ivory and inlaid with gold depicting holy symbols of Ator, the tube was probably worth about 200 gp The letter within was far more valuable.


“So, tell me again about this Noltus?” Roark requested.

“Noltus Innersol is an Atorian cleric from Sasserine,” Vesserin spoke up, “He is charged by Kern Gosalar of that city's temple of Ator to bring the word of the Sun Father to the far corners of Corwyn. Noltus eventually came to the Isle of Dread. He visited Farshore several times, and we shared several engaging debates, but his true calling lay in bringing the word of Ator to the remote tribes of the Isle of Dread – tribes even more remote than the Olmans themselves. He left on his mission, hoping to contact lizard folk, phanatons, and certain reclusive Olman tribes, several months before Lavinia and the rest arrived in Farshore, and has not been heard of until now.”

“Very thorough answer,” Roark replied.

“No problem,” Vesserin said, completely unaware of Roark’s sarcasm.

Viselys looked up from the letter, “And this ‘Bulgan’?”

“That this is Noltus' loyal pet dog, “ The priest replied. He then brought out a stone disc to sho Viselys, “This stone was recovered by Noltus from a ruined shrine several years ago and was the genesis of his interest in the Isle of Dread.”


Urol intervened and took the disc to inspect, “The particular style of carvings matches the style of carvings found on the Olman ruins here on the isle, so it stands to reason it originated here.:

“That’s what I thought, too,” Vesserin agreed. “How it came to be located in the jungle ruin Noltus found it in remains a mystery, but with the use of magical divination, the missionary bad been able to determine two points of interest about it that be shared with me on his last visit to Farshore. First, the disc originated in the ruins of Thanaclan, as evidenced by the distinctive representation of Quetzalcoatl, god of the air, as a serpent coiled through the firmament. Second, the three humanoid figures depicted represent Tezcatlipoca (the god of the moon), Tonaliuh (the god of the sun) and Quetzalcoatl in human form holding court over the others.”

“The fact that the three deities are depicted as working together is strange, since Tezcatlipoca and Quetzalcoatl are enemies,” Urol noted,

“Their attentions appear to be focused on what looks to be a bow.”

Vesserin, nodded in agreement, “That had long vexed Noltus. He eventually Came to believe that the disc was in fact an illustration of a weapon the three deities came together to create, yet he had been unable to discover any legends of such a bow. He suspected that the carving was somehow a map to the location of this ancient weapon.”

At this point, Lavinia inserted herself into the conversation, “Vesserin and I have been talking about this while waiting for you to return. We both would very much like you to travel to the central plateau.”

“It is my hope that you can find Noltus and perhaps aid him in his quest,” Vesserin chimed in.

Lavinia continued, “And I suspect that whatever has laid claim to the City of Broken Idols is at the hem of the matter, and that whatever dwells there is the source of the raw materials the koprus were using to create the shadow pearls. In any event, if a new source of evil is spreading from the central plateau, it's only a matter of time before these fiend-wearing monsters turn their eyes south.”

Urol turned to Jakara and, as he spoke in Olman, Duxsil translated for the rest, “Jakara, will you join us? Your demon fighting abilities would be quite helpful. Many of your people have speculated that Viselys might be the tepozihiyotl of your folklore. If that’s true, wouldn’t it be incredible to fight by his side? “

Jakara seemed to consider for a bit, but then declined, “I cannot shake the taboo in my heart and mind regarding that place. I am not supposed to go there. However, if he is the tepozihiyotl, then only he can put an end to the evil that lives there. No, I would rather remain in the vicinity of the Seven Villages to spread the teachings of my tribe, for I am the last who knows the secrets of the totemic markings; if I die, their secrets die with me. Better that I spread the knowledge to all the Seven Villages. If you should fail, then perhaps one day I will lead an army of Olman Totemic Deamonslayers against the forces that inhabit the plateau.”

“Who knows,” Urol grinned, “perhaps you are the tepozihiyotl.”

Continue to Chapter 2...

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