- Shining Star, mandragora sorcerer-priestess of Nyahré.
- Father James, human disciple of the pidgit-folk.
- Willow, human treesinger raised in Taira.
- Amos Burnham, a human from Earth.
- Elaphe, a chuzan junior member of the Black Rose.
Bonnie left soon after the snow fell, deciding after discussion with her father that she would return to Chai to continue her orator studies. She rode out with a caravan bound for Chai early in the Month of Frost after bidding farewell to the others, and then set her face to the east. The Green Knight also left a week later, his disciple Drifting Snow in tow, saying that it was the will of the forest spirits that called him elsewhere.
Some time later, Amos was walking through the new-fallen snow in the square outside the temple of the goddesses when he saw another human! A man dressed like a vagabond, playing a shell game for a trio of amanita who clearly did not understand the rapidly-spoken Muscalan that the human was giving his pitch in. Amos watched to see if the amanita would get swindled, but while one wandered away, the others actually won a small amount of money and the other human packed up his gear and left. Amos stood in the square for a while until he felt a tap on his shoulder. It was the human, who spoke in a British accent and introduced himself as Father James, a priest of Mark Twain, a god unfamiliar to Amos. They chatted for a short time until Shining Star stepped out of the temple and saw them, and she stopped to see who Amos was talking to. Moments later, another human stepped out of the tea house on the other side of the square and stopped in shock at the sight of two
others from his own world of birth.
After an excited discussion in English between Willow, Father James, and Amos that Shining Star waited out politely, the four of them, along with a limping Elaphe, retreated into the tea house to drink rice wine and mushroom beer and swap stories. Over the next week and a half they got to know each other better and decided to go treasure-hunting. Shining Star and Amos were pushing for a strike against the Dragon Emperor, and while they knew they weren't powerful enough to do so now, they thought that finding more ancient artifacts and then performing a decapitation strike on the Dragon Empire and letting the Dragon Emperor's eight children fight a civil war in the ruins might be their best bet. With winter in effect and snow a yard high, they left on the 17th of the Month of Frost for the pipe that would take them through B'rabt to Rockfort and on to that pipe that led to the jungle.
On the way out of the city, they noticed people staring upward at the sky and turned to see that the Silent Ones were casting off the lines on the floating ship they were building over the Scarlet City. As the party watched, the propellers on one end began to turn and the ship began to move, accelerating forward and then turning in a wide arc toward the north, where it passed out of sight.
The trip to the jungle ziggurat ruins was uneventful. With Bonnie gone, there was no one who could speak B'rabti in the group, and while Shining Star could use the Royal Speech to make herself understood, they found no one who could or would speak back until they arrived at the tea house in the B'rabti town with the pipe to Rockfort. Willow attempted to use his charm and good looks to win them a better price on the room, but the mycon proprieter just glared at him and raised the price. They paid for a few extra days to stable their mounts and in the morning, went through the pipe and out of Rockfort into the wild. As they passed the farms that had been abandoned, they noticed that now they were inhabited, but the inhabitants ran inside and locked the doors at the sight of a group of heavily-armed individuals walking toward them.
The other side of the pipe was a steaming jungle, with a broken plaza leading to a ruined ziggurat mostly obscured by overgrowth, and after removing their heavy winter clothing, the group advanced across the square. While Elaphe and Father James could hear a loud buzzing audible even over the sounds of the jungle coming from somewhere in the canopy, but they didn't see anything and nothing came to attack them, so they climbed the ziggurat steps and entered the top. Amos summoned up a witchlight, revealing a small room maybe twenty-five feet square with a stone bowl in the center, anything in it long since gone, and four statues in the four cardinal directions. One was a turtle, one was some sort of bird, and the other two weren't identifiable. There were stairs leading up and down, and the party took the stairs up first. The room was empty, with a bit of light coming from windows in the crown of the dome, and an obsidian knife in the dust on the floor. Elaphe carefully picked it up and handed it over to Shining Star, who didn't sense anything actively malicious from it. She gave it to Amos, who wrapped it up and put it away. The party went down two levels to a room with four pillars, a pit in the center of the room below the basin in the room above, and no other exits, though they found a half-mask on the floor made of gold and severely tarnished silver. They considered descending through the pit until Elaphe decided to look for any secret doors, and he and Father James's ravens found separate hinged section of stone walls that opened, revealing stairways down.
They descended down a level and began to explore, finding only kong bones mixed with other bones they couldn't identify. The humans heard a low murmuring, like rock rubbing against rock, echoing through the ziggurat, and Elaphe heard a sound of something clicking on stone, but the buzzing they had heard earlier was gone. Then, as they went down a corridor toward another room, Father James heard a message from his raven spirit, Hundred Wings, asking him where he had gone. Turning, he found a rock wall behind them with a corridor curving around to the left. After a hurried discussion, they found the lower end of the pit that led from the room above, and some of the ravens flew door from above, and then flew a rope back up and secured it to a statue. Elaphe held onto one end of the rope and kept an eye on the pit while Amos, Willow, and Father James looked down the corridor. They found a room that might have been a guard room, with some rust on the walls and spearpoints carved like snakeheads on the floor, though the spear shafts had long since rotted away. Amos could see a door at the far end, made of metal and still intact, and with the others' help he forced it open. Inside was a small room with a figure seated on an ivory stool in front of a low table. It was a kong wearing elaborate robes and a headdress, somehow in good condition despite the jungle humidity and with its flesh withered as though mummified. Amos entered the room with his musket ready and saw several items of jewelry on the table just as Elaphe heard the sound of claws on stone behind him, turned, and found nothing there.
He called out to the others and they hurried back to the rope. Father James told Hundred Wings to fetch the treasure, and the ravens brought back two rings, a kong-sized half-mask made of silver and gold like the one they found above, and a gold pendant with a banana tree surrounded by kong glyphs. As the rumble came again, they began to climb the rope back toward the top. They had almost made it when Amos felt the rope shiver, and then it snapped.
This is two sessions together because session twenty-eight was mostly character creation and getting the new characters together.
Elaphe pushed for leaving because while if it bleeds, he can kill it, he's much less confident about spirits or ghosts. And that is a weak spot of this party. Shining Star can fight demonic spirits with her sorcery, but if the spirit is just annoyed that its home has been disturbed, there's not much she can do, and they don't have any other way to affect the immaterial. Shining Star and Amos are pretty keen to keep exploring, though, since they haven't looked around the entire complex and there are still the insects that were making that buzzing sound. Elaphe was pretty excited about the idea of poisoning his weapons.
Next time is in three weeks, when we'll see what happens as the party falls down and the deal with whatever is trying to keep them in the ziggurat!