In which our heroes descend through the Abyss itself into the Lands of Death on their journey back to the center of the Worlds…..
Having defeated the neogi spawn and their guardians, and their prey, the party moves downwards towards the bole of Yggdrasil. Before they can reach the next fork in the branch they are stopped as they descend towards a “wooded” (think bromeliads, moss, lianas, and ferns) “plain” (think “a wide and flat-topped section of the branch”).
The group spends some tense moments negotiating with a patrol of ratatosk which are holding this position against the neogi who live further out the branch. Kik’churakk, the patrol leader, eventually agrees they aren’t spies for the neogi and negotiates with them. He will agree to let them past his position on two conditions, first they must wait until his relief patrol arrives and secondly Pieter must aid his tribe with some healing. (as Pieter had offered)
Approaching the C’churakk tribe’s main camp the group splits up to deal more quickly with things. Sioned and Aeran ask around, looking for a route to Hestavar (or back to known lands). Pieter and Alruna go to help the healer M’rristakka, who tests their skills. Rook tries to stay out of trouble…..
Aided by Alruna Pieter succeeds in saving a badly injured hunter that M’rristakka had been sure would lose his leg, which went gangrenous after a fall. Alruna befriends the old healer, and gets her to reveal that while she knows the tree itself well she rarely leaves it’s domain and so has little to offer a planeswalker, the grey-haired ratatosk says she expects most of the tribe will be the same for the ratatosk are a people more “of” the tree than just living on it.
Rook sits himself down, trying to stay out of trouble, but finds that the young ratatosk kits find him irresistible prey for pranks and generally childish antics. He responds, to everyone else’s sighs of relief, with stories of the things he has fought and defeated. Rook embellishes the stories, much to the kit’s delight, but their elders are not so impressed with Rook’s (to their eyes) false bragging.
Sioned and Aeran are ushered into a “hut” in which three aged ratatosk sit, they are passing a pipe around while discussing tribal business. The two outsiders speak to the elders, relaying their needs and asking if the tribe can help them get to Hestavar. The elders agree that the group’s help, especially in light of Pieter’s efforts, merit some reward. But they regret that the C’churakk tribe rarely leaves the World’s Tree and so can not point them towards Hestavar.
They do offer that there is a member of the tribe, recently returned for a short time, who might be able to help. They say he’s a plane’s-walker like themselves, but warn Sioned that he’s crazy. Aeran says that dealing with crazy people is pretty normal for them, thinking of Crazy Horse. He and Sioned gather the rest of the group and leave the main camp for an outlying temporary camp where the “crazy” ratatosk is staying.
The “crazy” ratatosk proves to be a canny rogue by the name of Tiki. Tiki wears silks and velvets, his hose and beplumed hat are impeccable, and the cut of his half-cape is exactly above where the jeweled handle of his rapier hangs at his waist, only the lack of shoes says anything other than “rich, influential, Renaissance Man”. Tiki is a hard bargainer, nearly as hard a bargainer as he is a sharp dresser. He’s also a bit hard to understand initially for his speech is filled to the brim with the plane-walking slang that dominates conversation in The Cage. (the city of Sigil) But he agrees to lead the party back to Sigil for the price of 5,000 gold and a reference to the PTC for future business opportunities. He also demands, and gets, the promise that he won’t have to raise a finger in his own defence. (Tiki has a hot date planned in The Cage and doesn’t want to rumple his silk cape or dirty his clothes)
After agreeing to terms Tiki puts on a seriously fierce pair of boots and leads the party off. They pass from the World’s Tree to the Abyssal plane of Twelve Trees. While there they rescue Lysistrata (a princess from “Dirt”) from gnolls who were planning to sacrifice her. Another branch of Yggdrasil then leads them into the Shadowfell.
In the Shadowfell they approach a ruined city. Dodging hordes of zombies they reach the city’s center where they find a decrepit, but still standing, archway. Tiki offers dead-flesh (some dried meat) to the Raven Queen, which is the key to activate the portal. Passing through the arch the group emerges into a blazingly hot world.
Beneath a dim, huge, red sun, (let’s agree to call it a “Dark Sun”, shall we) the party bakes. Around them are ruins of an ancient civilization. In the distance they can see a dirty-brown “ocean” of silt. Around it lies a hostile badlands with little beyond sand, rocks, and the occasional patch of tumble-weed. Tiki says, “Well, drink up and then we’d best move out quickly, this isn’t a very friendly place.”
Passing as fast as they can, but still suffering from exposure to the brutal heat, after a few hours travel the party of planar travelers finally approach the pyramidal obelisk Tiki calls the “Pyramid of the Lost Sea”, and which he claims is the portal out of here. As they draw near they see insectile forms around the pyramid. Soon combat ensues as the hunting party of Thri Kreen are not about to let several day’s meat escape them if they can help it.
The game pauses as a Mantis Warrior harrasses Pieter and Sioned while Alruna and Rook get swarmed by hunters and Aeran skirmishes around everyone dodging hunters, the Warrior, and a pair of marauders.