Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Sea of Spices - Chapter I, Part I

The Cast:

Amaranth, Kumarikantam Magic-User and Scholar

Doctor Kasem Somchai, Ankhor Cleric and Physician

Nushno, Sindhu Fighting-Man, Step-Brother to Zusander, and his henchmen:
- Sabmon (Cleric), Fulompha (Sorceress), Euvero (Fighting-Man) and Ulnoc (Fighting-Man)

Zusander the Tiger, Sindhu Fighting-Man, Step-Brother to Nushnos, and his henchmen:
- Clodius (Iskander Fighting-Man), Faruza (Sindhu Fighting-Woman), Hanamandu (Kumarikantam Fighting-Man) and Modibi (Sindhu Priestess)

&

The Salty Voyager, Sindhu Xebec

Nushno and Zusander, step-brothers that hated each other, shared an adventurer-uncle, Abheems, who told them tale, of a mist shrouded mountain, the middle of three, looming above Snake Island, west of Dread Island and north of the port-island of Amphorae in the Sea of Spices. This uncle spoke of tales and maps and of the treasure horde of an ancient lost empire sequestered within a hidden temple upon said mist-shrouded mountain before setting out on a expedition to recover these treasures.

Uncle Abheems was never heard from again.

The the intervening years the brother grew to despise each other further, while emulating their uncle by pursuing lives of wandering adventure. Nushno gained a second enemy to his step-brother when both he and a Kumarikantam Scholar-Sorcerer pursued the same woman, only for both to earn her scorn for their competitive efforts.

This Scholar was Amarath, an adventuring companion of the Ankhor Physician-Priest Kasem Somchai, the two of whom has been inseparable companions since they saved each others lives on a disastrous expedition where the rest of their companions expired.

Before the aforementioned expedition, Doctor Kasem Somchai has served a term of hard labour in the gaols of a cruel Vizir with Zusander the Tiger, where the two of them banded together for mutual advantage.

Years later the two rival step-brothers grudgingly decide to work together and go after their missing uncle and the treasure horde he was seeking. Zusander brings along past ally and cleric Kasem Somchai and the Sage-Sorcerer Amarath to bolster the party, and Nushno is dismayed to see that the "help" that his step-brother has obtained includes a former romantic rival.

The party pools their resources, the step-brother gather their henchmen, and they all commission an adventurer-captain and lease a xebec before thrusting out into the vast reaches of the Ouroboric Oceans into a harrowing journey to the Sea of Spices.

Much later the vessel floats alongside the western coast of a large jungle isle, according to their navigation Snake Island. Four mountains thrust out of the lush greenery, one to the north, and three closely clustered together to the south, the middle of which is shrouded with thick gray clouds. In the initial scout of the coast two hut-villages are spotted, one below each two mountainous regions, with a distance of 50 miles separating the villages along the coast.

The party sails into the harbor of the southern village; the villagers are friendly and their chief greets the xebec from a dugout catamaran, making welcomes and inquiries of cargo. Zusuander makes of gift of a vial of perfume which impresses the chieftan greatly, other sundries are gifted, and the party is feted with roast pig, fruit, arrack, and gracious hospitality. They notice that the boulders scattered about the village appear to be the remains of ancient architecture, and that the harbour, apparently natural, seems to be artificial albeit of extreme antiquity.

The next day the party speaks with the cheiftan and witch-doctor, and when inquiries are made of the mist-shrouded mountain they are informed that it is taboo and forbidden. The party sets sail for the northern village, consisting of grass huts on wooden platforms and barges of reed-bundles, and again gifts of "cargo" are made, this time a block of incense impressing the chieftan. The people of this village wear many pieces of rude gold jewelry, which piques the parties interest.

They inquire of the mountain looming above this village and learn that long ago a wicked tribe lived in a village inside the mountain and performed black magic upon and enslaved the people of the island. Eventually the mighty sons of gods saw fit to stop this tribe, and punished them for their wickedness and imprisoned them within their mountain.

Nowadays people stay away from that mountain, and those that hunt too close to it often disappear. The party agrees that is seems wise to stay away from the mountain and asks about the gold jewelry. They are told that the jungle is full of the weathered rubble of ancient ruins, and that sometimes hunters find trinkets or amphorae under rocks or within the burrows of capybaras; after many years the tribe has accumulated many trinkets. It is said this gold comes from when the wicked tribe of the mountain was struck down, the jewels of those that were slain in the jungles.

The next day the party sails north-east along the coastline for a few hours to a spot north of and close to the mountain and anchored in a sheltered harbour. The party decides to search the jungle for a few hours and seek out some of this gold. After an hour they stumble upon a small group of orangutans, who placidly munch on forage while watching the party. The party continues searching the jungle and in the darkness beneath the jungle canopy, among the singing, chattering and screeching of birds, monkeys and insects, sweltering in torrid humidity, they find a stagnant black pool with a tumbled pile of black rocks resembling the shattered stone ruins of a small step-pyramid squatting in the center of the pool amidst the poison-green floating vegetation, only a few shafts of sunlight piercing the canopy above to illuminate a few slime-encrusted boulders among the rotting edge of the islet.

The party discusses investigating this ruined pile for gold; the Sindhu step-brothers Zusander and Nushno are both trained and skilled swimmers and divers, and the two resolve to see if they can wade to the islet. The cautiously step into the waters, the much sucking at their feet; at about a third of the way to the black rocks, about thirty feet from the shore, the waters reach above their waist. There is a sudden explosion of white foaming water and blackened green scales; a massive crocodile lunges out from the deeper waters, grabs Nushno within its jaws, and disappears beneath the suddenly blood-slicked and still waters.

There is a shocked silence as the birds, monkeys and insects still their cacophony before Zusander begins slashing with his scimitar through the murky waters, but to no satisfaction.

He staggers out of the slimy pond to rejoin his stunned companions; Nushnos' former flunkies discuss their situation, and at the urgings of the Sorceress Fulompha, Ulnoc is nominated as the new leader of this particular knot of henchmen. Meanwhile the rest of the party speculate on how suspicious this tale will sound to the family of the rival step-brothers, "Nusho went on a sea voyage with a former romantic rival, his hated step-brother, and someone that his step-brother met in prison; they go into the jungle and than he gets killed by a crocodile that disappears with his body..."

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