Dark Sun Sandbox

Crouching Tiger, hidden Monster

Session 2013/09/14 – Everybody present

..after the scruff with the Giths, the group (joined by the caravan) set up camp and spend a sleepy (but not completely relaxing) night nearby the water. The environment is alien to almost everybody, animals are prowling around making strange, unknown, noises, it’s humid, the mosquitos are buzzing around, every now and then the Crodlu and Erdlu are restless and they have to be cared for. At one point during the night somebody spots the big cat that attacked before so it has to be shoed away…

Before dawn everybody is basically on their feet and ready to move.

They follows the stream, in direction of Jaded Tiger, the stream is now just a trickle, a bit muddy but doable, everybody keeps their ears and eyes open for troubles and try to keep up the pace to cover ground before the rain.
After a couple of hours, the group spot an actual trail, going parallel to the stream, that is obviously maintained by somebody, so everybody moves to the real trail and the trip goes better.

Just before the rain, the group reaches a large clearings, where the trees have been removed and there are cultivation, it is obvious that the place is maintained (the bushes are trimmed and the trees have been removed). There are also clusters of trees, isolated in the clearings and about a dozen large jade tigers’ statues in the clearing. In the distance the group notices some structures on stilts, and other structures on, in and around the trees, with passageways dangling between trees or moving up and down.

Hardok notices that the fields are cultivated with some sort of root that can be used for consumption if prepared correctly, but it is also poisonous, so it can be used as a weapons or medicine also.

And just at the edge of the forest, nearby the trail, there are the remaining of two small humanoids, probably halflings, dead, bloody and mangled.

A quick glance is enough to reveal that the two are dead (organs are missing), they seems to have been killed recently, but the bodies are already beginning to rot (necrotic effect). Judging from the signs on the bodies it looks like a large predator, but it is obviously not a “normal” predator.

At this point a bunch of halflings rushes from the other side of the clearing with weapons at ready, they notices the group standing by the bloody remaining and there are shouts of “Giths!” and “Enemies!”. Despite the strange accent the shouting is very clear. Some of the halfling is armed with battle-axes while a couple are armed with bows. They are quick, with weaving movements, sort of a strange dance instead of a straight run… Irann decides to hold on and simply wait to see what’s happening, everybody else basically attempt to shout their innocence, the Halfling have closed the distance and the archers let go a couple of arrows, but these are going nowhere, Hardok yells in protest that he ain’t a Gith either, the halflings are a bit surprised at hearing the language (Giths don’t speak common), however, the 4 spears-armed reaches Hardok and hit his shield, then moves flawlessly past him in the midst of the group and then stop there, realizing that they are not Giths, only one of the spear hits Hardok in the leg.

The halflings realizes at this point the mistake and stops to question the newcomers, some quick explanations follows at which the halfling decides to escort the whole caravan to the village’s chief.

The whole group follows the path that move into the clearing, they have a good chance at observing the Jaded tigers’ statues, that are massive, blue-green and black-striped and appears to be guarding the clearing. Everybody has the impression that the statues are actually watching them. The statues are shiny, obviously kept clean and free of molds and other things by the halflings. Cor, Irann and Hardok have a strong sense that the status are connected, somehow, with the forest in a “spiritual” way. The path snakes through the fields, past a huge warehouse and other constructions on the floor, most of the constructions are on stilts, high enough for the Halflings to walk underneath, the halfling’s village is built on trees, but without real ‘structures’, mostly just with roofs and some sort of flooring, but really open. The path climbs to the hillsides, towards the mountains, where the Jade mines are located.

So the group goes into “negotiation” with the Chief… and the rest of the village apparently. It seems that the halfling are used to talk straight with each other, possibly even when somebody else is talking to them, causing some confusion for the group but apparently not for themselves.

The Chief knows about the monster but he is also quite disturbed by it, since it’s new, it has never been seen before and never attacked before.

The Chief asks if the group is “Wavir’s group”, he remember the trading with Wavir in the years past, but is a bit hesitant in going back to trading with some unknown party and he doesn’t understand very well the concept of “trading” and is uninterested in Therai’s complicated explanation of the relations between Ianto and Wavir… in any event Therai manages to wiggle through and establish some sort of relations that means nobody will eat anybody else… for now. It seems that the group will have to win part of the trust back. And failing a winning that thrust could mean trouble.

The Chief shows the group the “Wavir’s place”, that is a wooden structure that was used in the past to house Wavir’s good in transit and accommodate the peoples and the animals during their stay at the village. It is a bit let down now, but still functional and only needs to be put back into service.

The group decides to split and look around to try to get more information.

Irann and Hardok goes back to the “crime scene” at the edge of the clearing, and notices a few things: there are a few imprint in the ground, suggesting a very heavy creature, with 4 fingers per paw and very long, sharp claws, no trace of fur but the creature doesn’t seems to be a lizard. Hardok uses his “spirit connection” and discern a nasty lingering sensation in the place: the creature is an unnatural one, probably magical.

While they are discussing the findings and thinking the next move, the rain starts to fall.
They are surprised to notice that many halflings are out in the fields, performing some sort of a dance under the rain.

Irann and Hardok goes back to the HQ and relay the information, Cor and Irann are interested in the “dance”, so they decide to go check the Arena, nearby the HQ where they seems to be training. Hardok seems interested in the temple.

Therai decides to try to woo the halfling telling stories about how they killed the giths and stuff..

The temple is still a wooden structure, but a lot more solid and inside there is a really huge Jaded Tiger statue, sitting and gazing. And there is a lot of stuff around too. Wandering around the temple, Hardok notices a broadsword “on display”, the sword is way too big to be used by an halfling, but is the right size for a human, it is made of polished Jade (of course), with blue and black striping. And Hardok can feel a strong connection with the sword, that has a very strong “spirit” feeling. It is also supported by the horns of a Thunder Ram. Asking the Shaman, he hear that it’s a Thunder Ram Blade, that was wielded by a Thunder Ram Warrior, that were warriors of the ancient time but there are very few of them now. Sometimes some of the halfling tries to use it, but it doesn’t manage to do a lot. Sooner or later some of the Thunder Warrior will came around and pick it up.

Irann is looking at the Arena, where the halfling are moving around like a dance, but very serious and with a concentrated face. It is certainly a real training. But the details of the moves are a bit fuzzy… after trying to follows the moves, she has some troubles, so she decide to ask some of the veterans what’s going on. Their answer is that she has to ‘follow the tiger’. Irann ponder a bit on the answer, then she tries to just concentrate and, after a bit of quasi-meditation, she actually can see the ‘tiger’… every dancer has his own and they are all moving in concert as a result. And Irann also realize that there is one tiger waiting for her. She concentrates… looks the tiger in the eyes and… manages to follow it! She realize she can sync with the halfling and join in their movements!
After the “training” the halfling are basically acting like Irann is another halfling, so that’s a good improvement in relationships.
Irann asks a few questions about the Tiger, and is told to go talk with the Shaman

Cor decides to go and experience what the rain means, so he asks about it to a few halflings, and is told that the best place is to go to the temple and ask the shaman… so a lot of peoples ends up in the Temple…

Well, the whole point is this ‘tiger spirit’ that apparently ‘drive’ and guide all the thing around the halfling, but at the same time doesn’t control anything.

Varnag and Hardok decides that going to catch some game is a good ‘offering’ for the spirit, so they depart for a quick trip in the forest, during which they are exchanging quip with a couple of halfling warriors that show the location of the first monster attack. They recount that the victim was mauled by the monster and they could ear a lot of screaming, like the monster actually enjoy the pain of the victim. Varnag and Hardok begins to think that maybe the monster isn’t simply an animal but it could also be intelligent.

Therai goes to the Plaza and looks around to see if somebody could be interested in some stories about his trips. However the idea of giving out “gifts” is quickly discarded since he has nothing that could be used by them and obviously he can’t simply give out the trading goods.

Anyhow, while everybody is going around, an halfling scout runs in with the report that a Gith group has been spotted on the path coming from the Water Pool directed towards the village. The halflings begins to mobilize to ambush the Gith, the group decide that a good point for friendship would be to handle the Giths, so everybody grab their weapons and begins to move towards the jungle.

Good thing about the Gith, is that they are really linear-thinking. If they are on a trail, they will probably stick on that trail, so an ambush seems very possible at this point.



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