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As the sun dips towards the horizon, armed men and women head out from Garra’s Village. They carry baskets of wood – fuel for the fires that will ward off the perils of the jungle. As the watchfires spring up in the distance, a fire for a different purpose is built in the center of the village.

Drums pound out a primal rhythm, accompanied by skirling pipes and the stamp of dancing feet, as the bonfire casts a ruddy glow over the assembled villagers. Crude alcohol loosens tongues and, as the night grows long, the tales get taller. The castaways mingle with the villagers, enjoying the opportunity to impress or ingratiate. Kraag takes the time to talk to Garra and one of the village hunters – gathering tips on how to hunt Cree – while Jullian fends off the advances of Beeleni.

The following day is spent provisioning for their task – although some are a little worse for wear. Bentil’s request is simple, although it will be far from easy. They must trek into the highlands, through thick and deadly jungle, to find the “Lady Luck” and recover the vessel’s fire cask. The magical device would then be taken to a lava flow to collect elemental fire. Lastly, Bentil required that the Cree that had moved into the area be cleared out – a matter of finding the creatures’ lair and killing the queen.

The party resolved to hunt the Cree first, spending nearly the last of their coin acquiring some bait – a scraggly goat later known as Alastair – and set forth on the morning of the third day. Travelling for a day along the river known as Chander’s Run, they set up camp in a suitable ambush site. Jullian summoned the spirits of Chaos and commanded them to reveal the night’s events. The foretelling was ominous – something bad would happen in the middle of the night, and their hapless goat would be the first victim.

Demons may be fickle, but they do not lie when compulsion is upon them, and the truth of their warning is borne out – although not in the fashion the group expects. They have made camp near the host tree of a Stranglethorn – an omnivorous plant that extends feeder vines through the jungle to ensnare prey and drag it back to be slowly digested. The first sign that something is amiss is the goat’s bleated alarm as it is yanked off its feet and dragged out of the camp.
Quick action saves Alastair and the party manages to fight off the vines. Cassandra’s illusions prove particularly useful.

In the morning it is decided that they will travel further inland, away from the Stranglethorn and hopefully closer to wherever the Cree make their nest. A second camp is made and an ambush laid a half-day’s travel up river. This time the danger presents itself before nightfall. As the rain starts to patter through the jungle canopy, the four Cree that had been tracking the party make themselves known.

Dark green scales, patterned with dull yellow diamond markings, cover the creatures. They are four meters long – a serpent’s body with the torso, arms and head of a heavily muscled humanoid – immensely strong and dangerously fast. They swarmed across the clearing, attempting to snatch up anyone in their path and crush them in the coils of their tails.

Despite the ferocity of the attack, the creatures were outnumbered and outfought. The party killed one and drove off the other three, suffering only minor injuries in return. Now, however, they must gather their courage for the daunting task ahead: tracking these wounded monsters through the deadliest terrain in the world…at night.

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Legends of the Three Pillars occam99