Skulls and Shackles - PFO

Drums In The Jungle Night

To establish civilization with naught but sand and jungle wood is a tall order. None should say La’Luka is not up to the task, though. He has labored ceaselessly since our landing to create a smelting kiln and forge, and he is remarkably capable at working the native obsidian stone into effective weaponry. It took days to pile the stones together and stoke the fires hot enough to smelt the hematite sands of the beach. I admit to no small measure of amazement on my part at such feats. It is little more than rocks and fire, after all! Ingenuity and sheer persistence are the engines of industry.

While he set about with the ambition of recreating the world, Sava and myself were occupied with reaping the sea’s bounty. She for food and I for pearls, though with rather different scales of success. The little bay does not seem too rife with mollusk, as steep as the drop is into deeper waters. I do feel safer having her around.

The wreck of the Black Orchid looms large and foreboding in view.

Stehlen has been quite eager to explore the little island, leading Owlbear and Waku in all-day forays into the dense jungle. They followed the stream to a small waterfall, and of course there is a cave there where the waters have exerted their own industries against the rocks.

The exploring party also sighted, in the distance, small figures cavorting around a fire at the foot of the mountain, casting lurid shapes and shadows that flicker and draw the eye even from a distance.

La’Luka took a break from his forgework to explore the cave with Sava, Stehlen and myself while Waku and Owlbear minded the camp at the beach. There was quite a large anaconda lazily digesting what we morbidly discovered was a twisted pygmy wretch. The claws and horns betray a fiendish association beyond simple indigenous decorations. I dread to discover how a tribe of such peoples feeds itself, given the limited scale of the island. What good can come from the hells?

Further into the cave was a truly impressive specimen of spider, fully filling the alcove where it had set up an abode. It was troublesome, but Ebony’s talons found its brain with a vengeance. A disgusting pile remained of yet another pygmy fiend, cocooned and wrapped with a small obsidian weapon. Curiously, the weapon bears a minor enchantment upon it! Perhaps the tribe is more capable in the Ways of the Craft than I would like to discover? I still feel a horrid dread of meeting any of the wretched spawn alive.

We found rooms beyond which seemed to have been used for sleeping and cartography. There was a sextant made of brass and one, more rough, of wood. The survivors of the Black Orchid were generous enough to plot our general position on the badly decayed maps they left. The sextants alone are a marvelous fortune to have found, and certainly vindicated the danger of exploring the poisonous cave.

There was a room barricaded in front of the cave. It had the bony remains of what I think was a gnome and a human or half-elf, and they were more than a mere few years old. The vipers which had found their way into the chamber were weak and easily frightened away, but what drew my attention was the ventilation hole they used for their escape. It is not a naturally occurring crevice, and seemed to have been burrowed by something with claws that is very small. It leads outside, naturally, but — why? It could not be a mole’s burrow. Nor do I suspect the pygmy people are small enough to fit, despite their mutated physiology. It just does not seem to fit logically in any case.

Why create a hole for ventilation in the forward room instead of the rear? We found sconces for torches all throughout the cave, which indicates to me that there was no need for extra ventilation. Why would the barricade have been from the outside of the front room? The serpents we found within were certainly not old enough to have been the cause of death for the two poor souls we found there. And they had shelves in the room for the remains of the food which we found as well. How did they die?

If I were the sort to bet on the draw of a card, I would wager all I have that it has something to do with whatever made that hole…

And the drums we hear in the distant jungle.

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