16 Brownleaf 6934 EY: Our story has inauspicious beginnings. The four heroes of this tale found themselves, for one reason or another, as initiates of the Hunter's Take in Dunezar. This was a guild of monster hunters, assembled seekers of wealth and glory who took contracts to hunt and slay beasts and harvest from their bodies precious materials.
The group consisted of four individuals who were thrown together seemingly at random by the Huntmaster of the Hunter's Take, a dwarf named Leodolf Roltermann. These four were Ubah Memburu, a hylo warrior from the Olvani Islands; Tomren Hawich, a human justicar of the Towers of Ten; Taegon Brighteyes, a curious breed of elf the likes of which the world had never seen from a remote forest village on the continent of Utar, far to the south; and myself, Arnold Freuenberger, a humble dwarven bard from the lowlands of Batal.
Our rival team was led by a dwarf named Alberich Adelhard. He was accompanied by a thragg'ar, Bulxan of Clan Ghorumph; a human ranger named Finbar O'Lochlan; a corvo rogue named Asano Udo; and a human druid named Moras Graymoon. Alberich was quick to despise us and acted like a braggart and fool in general.
We were led by Manora Telgoran, a ranger from the Olvani Islands. Our quarry: an adult male couatl. We spent the first day within Dunezar, taking time to purchase provisions from Jungle Jym's Jungle Jymporium, as well as researching couatls in Dunezar University's library. Ubah chose to train in the Hunter's Take guild hall during this time, and Tomren sought out Manora in the Hunter's Mark Inn in Little Dunezar, where they drank and spoke of the Opha.
We left Dunezar around 11:30 in the morning. After around two hours' travel, we were ambushed by a band of vicious pyfron warriors. Although their poisons made the encounter difficult, we prevailed. We looted several wheels of cheese from these pyfron, traveled for a few more hours, and then camped for the evening.
17 Brownleaf 6934 EY: Travel westward continued. Around noon we were alerted to cries for help. Upon investigating, we discovered a kopa who had been accosted and injured by a half-ogre and orc pair who now stood over the wounded okapifolk and argued about what to do with him. With a precise surprise attack we were able to defeat the low creatures, but Taegon was brought down from a single mighty blow from the half-ogre. After healing our ally and the kopa, Arnold used a spell to comprehend languages to speak to the kopa. We learned that the kopa's name was Banda. Although we healed his broken leg, it was still unstable, and it was clear he would not survive the voyage home. Upon insisting we escort him, Banda eventually relented.
Upon arriving at Kumba, the kopa village, we were immediately accosted by kopa guards. After further discussion via the comprehend languages spell, as well as intervention by Mudo, the chieftan of Kumba, we were allowed to stay in the village for the night. During this time, Arnold learned the kopa trance style of music. The others asked Mudo about couatl, and he spoke about how the “winged serpents” lived further into the jungle, near the “forbidden lands” where the “scaled men” live. He warned against traveling into Opha lands, for surely it would spell our death.
We thanked Mudo and the kopa for their hospitality, but as we had daylight left, we decided to press on. After traveling for another four hours, we camped. During the night, we were surprised by the arrival of Alberich and his gang in our campsite. Alberich was furious, insisting that our contract was his by right, and that he would kill us and claim it for himself. Asano, Bulxan, and Finbar were still with him, although they had claimed to have killed Roy and Moras had ran away. After a brief skirmish, Bulxan and Alberich lay dead. Asano and Finbar surrendered, explaining that they had been strongarmed into helping out of a desperate need for coin. After much debating, we agreed to let them leave.
18 Brownleaf 6934 EY: We entered a rainforest wetland area this day and encountered an old hut late in the afternoon. Upon exploring, we discovered it belonged to a night hag named Lysane, who attacked us immediately. Arnold fell in battle, but Lysane quickly recognized our “unusual auras.” She invited us in, where we healed Arnold's wounds and spoke to the eccentric night hag. Ubah opted to remain outside and interacted with Lysane's pet alligators. Lysane read our fortunes: for Arnold, the Sign of the Fool; for Taegon, the Sign of the Horizon; for Tomren, the Sign of the Darkened Path.
19 Brownleaf 6934 EY: In the morning, we discovered a Sarenulian trader named Seto Zian who had taken a wrong turn and his wagon had ended up lost deep within the jungles of Molentius. After helping him dislodge his wayward caravan, Seto was thankful enough to feed us and offer us a discount on his wares.
In the afternoon of the 19th, we were apprehended by a band of rangers belonging to the Viridian Wardens, a secret sect of jungle elves and humans who guard civilized lands from the Opha threat. After meeting with their chief ranger, Eidarel, and their leader, Asteriel, we told them of our mission to hunt the couatl. Eidarel's son, Kellam, had seen a male couatl rampaging in the area and agreed to take us to find the beast in the morning.
During this evening, Eidarel took Ubah and Manora under his wing to teach them the ways of the ranger.
20 Brownleaf 6934 EY: The following day, Kellam led our group to a nearby cavern behind a waterfall. It was here we confronted the couatl in a long, grueling fight. After much bloodshed, we felled the beast and claimed our prize. Upon searching for the gem egg required by our contract, we discovered a dying female couatl in the back of the cave. There were no apparent injuries or illnesses to the creature. Tomren, who has much knowledge of the arcane arts, examined the creature and determined that it lacked any manner of arcane energies—a strange predicament for such inherently magical creatures. This lack of the Weave in the creature caused it to die, and so we put it out of its misery. Arnold collected its feathers as a remembrance, and Tomren harvested its brain for further study.
When we returned to the Viridian Warden's city of Ti'oakana, the Wardens were impressed with our victory. Asteriel discussed Taegon's origins with him, but sadly had no information to give, but impressed upon him the importance of who a person is, not what a person is. Kellam showed Arnold and Tomren a lookout post where they could see Opha'Seph, the Wailing Ziggurat and home of the opha, on the distant horizon.
21 Brownleaf 6934 EY: We were led to the outskirts of the Darkwald by Eidarel and his company of rangers. From here, we journeyed eastward toward Dunezar once more.
22 Brownleaf 6934 EY: We encountered an abandoned camp that seemed to belong to a group of Hunter's Mark guild members. After searching the area and discovering a palm-sized emerald scale, Manora deduced that these hunters had been the victims of an opha attack. The footprints indicated that one individual had been dragged away alive. We debated for a time searching for this soul, but ultimately decided against it when it was determined that this camp site had been laying in ruins for quite some time.
23 Brownleaf 6934 EY: We had a blessed day of quiet travel without interruption. We continued our march eastward, and home to Dunezar.
24 Brownleaf 6934 EY: What began as another quiet day of travel ended in disaster. Mid-afternoon, we were assaulted by a Brotherhood of Chains raiding party. We were overwhelmed by their brutish beaters, who rendered us unconscious. When we awoke, we were isolated and bound in chains. Taegon was in an individual cell opposite of Manora; Arnold and Tomren were locked in a communal cell with an unconscious druid that we identified as Moras Graymoon, the Hunter's Mark initiate who had disappeared; and Ubah was bound to a stretching rack and being interrogated by a spindly human man.