Legends of the Three Pillars
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.
- excerpt from previous entry.
After patching up Kalib’s bruised ribs and securing the camp, the group lit torches and headed south on the Cree’s trail. Even in the darkness of the jungle, Watcher’s elven eyes easily picked out the signs of the creatures’ passing. The trail took them along the course of a rocky gully that was rapidly filling with water from he rains.
Despite losing the scent periodically, the hunters persisted south for several hours. It was around midnight that the rain stopped, fortuitously just before the group came to an unusually silent part of the jungle. The river, now a swollen torrent, was the only sound as they crept cautiously towards the suspected Cree nest.
By this point the party realised they had been traipsing through the treacherous terrain for almost eighteen hours. They were wet and hungry, and the exhaustion was taking its toll. Just an hour earlier Kraag had nearly fallen into the river, saved only by honed reflexes and the efforts of nearby party members. A camp was called for and the group cautiously settled in between the roots of a giant jungle tree.
It was during this brief respite that things took a turn for the strange. While most of the party were able to gather themselves for the task ahead or snatch an hour or two of sleep, Cassandra was beset by a dire portent. A voice, one she remembered and trusted although she knew not why, spoke in her mind, “You must flee, child. You are in grave danger!”. The hunters dismissed the warning as the delusions of a tired teenage girl, with Azo and Watcher setting out to scout the area.
The eery warnings continued and Cassandra tried desperately to convince the party to leave, despite Kraag, Templar and Jullians’ attempts to placate her. Stranger still were the events at the Cree nest. A large mound of earth marked the above ground entrance to the nest and two of the creatures stood vigil outside. As the dwarf and elf stealthily circled the clearing, Azo’s footing failed him and the sentries were alerted to their presence. Instead of attacking, however, the Cree turned and fled into the nest.
While Azo and Watcher completed their scout, things were coming to a head at the camp. Cassandra, frightened by the warnings and unable to convince the men of the danger, cloaked herself in illusion and crept away. At the same time another pair of Cree moved past the camp towards the nest and hid themselves. Jullian and the others were convinced that these creatures were setting an ambush for the scouts and lit out after them.
Confusion reigned briefly as the party attempted to save each other from the suspected ambush. The Cree, however, did not offer battle and fled into the nest at the first sign of danger. Determining that Cassandra was not the only one hearing strange voices, the party realised that they were being lured into a trap. Steeling themselves for whatever perils lay ahead, they enetered the nest. Only Jullian and Watcher remained outside, volunteering to guard a secondary entrance.
A high, round tunnel of earth packed hard from the passage of the Cree descended into the ground. Serpent-men hissed from side passages but retreated into the shadows at the party’s approach. Despite certain knowledge that they were now surrounded, the hunters pushed on until they came to the queen’s nesting chamber.
The Cree queen was not what anyone expected. The party were greeted by a statuesque beauty, clothed with only the barest nod to modesty. Flanked by her monstrous offspring, with more closing in behind, the queen offered parlay. The ensuing negotiation was short-lived however. While Azo and the queen attempted to find some common ground, Cassandra took the initiative. Either sensing an imminent attack, or through nerves, the girl unleashed an illusionary assault on the Cree to the rear.
‘Treachery’, hissed the queen, revealing her true form. The seductive image she had presented vanished, replaced by a nine meter snake coiled around a clutch of eggs. As the Cree in the tunnel recoil from Cassandra’s glamour, the group prepares for battle.