21st November (contd.)
After their battle with the girallon, the PCs continue their hot, tiring trek through the jungle. Hrothgar spots some of the yellow jungle geraniums said to help cure jungle fever growing in a tall tree; Balachandra scampers up to get them. The PCs stop for the night and are perplexed by strange glowing lights bobbing around and tinkling near their campfire. No harm comes to them though.
Jenma feels better: eating the jungle geraniums has brought her jungle fever down to stage 1, but Gil is still at stage 2. During the day’s travel, Juma climbs a “ladder” of large, flat, woody mushrooms spiralling up a large tree. At the top he finds a skeleton overgrown with plants and manages to pocket a pair of tiger agate gems without the rest of the party noticing. That night, Ulthar and Gil are disturbed when a huge swarm of bats flies though the camp. Hrothgar spots three large pairs of eyes watching the party but when he goes to investigate, they’ve gone. Balachandra can’t explain the bats’ strange behaviour but suggests that the eyes might belong to man-eating tigers, and points out the party are now in jungle giant territory.
It turns out Balachandra is right: as the PCs strike camp, they are approached by an 18’ tall female giant accompanied by three giant tigers. Jenma talks to her, using her helm of languages to translate what the giant is saying. She introduces herself as Kadufi, and explains that she and her two sisters are overjoyed at the PCs’ arrival. She offers the party ten valuable tusks of ivory if they will pose as models for the sisters – they love creating topiary and think the Juma Associates would make great subjects.
Kadufi is joined by Wadufi and Padufi, her two sisters – the youngest, Padufi, is particularly taken with Ulthar, bending and twisting his limbs painfully into suitable poses until he shoves her off. Willing to go along with the giants’ suggestion for a while, the party follow the sisters to their nearby stockade, a large wooden structure with 50’ high walls surrounded by the topiary the giants have created. Kadufi’s sculptures are terrible but the giant is oblivious to this. Reluctant to offend her, the PCs compliment her creativity. Wadufi’s sculptures are just as bad, but Padufi’s are the work of a real talent. After showing off the topiary, the giants head into their stockade to prepare lunch. The Juma Associates aren’t keen on following them inside so Jenma tells Padufi they would like to get started on the modelling straight away. At this time, they notice that Balachandra seems to have disappeared.
Padufi jerks and twists the PCs around into the poses she wants and starts clipping away at some nearby bushes. By this time, the PCs patience has run out and Gil summons a stormstone fury to attack the giant. Her sisters and their tigers soon arrive on the scene and a big battle ensues. The PCs dispose of the three giant tigers swiftly but the giants are tougher opponents, capable of inflicting grievous wounds with their khandas and arrows. To make matters worse, the giant wasps nesting in the stockade fly in to defend their mistresses – their poison first slows, then immobilises PCs who are stung. Wadufi is killed first, then Jenma slays Kadufi with azure talons, and finally Ulthar (who has blasted the pesky wasps with his conch) knocks out young Padufi. They tie her down to the ground with ropes and stakes and loot the stockade, finding a +4 stone of good luck and the ten ivory tusks (which weigh 200 lbs each!). Balachandra returns and the party decide to leave; Ulthar loosens Padufi’s bonds so she can escape when she wakes up.
After two days of hot, sweaty trekking through the jungle, the PCs arrive at a waterfall flowing into a lake through a ruined wall flanked by two ancient giant stone statues, one with the head of a hippopotamus; the other with its head missing. Large boulders form stepping stones going part way across the water. Before the PCs can slake their thirsts, a voluptuous dark-skinned female figure (a yaksha) emerges from the water of the lake and speaks to the party, explaining that the forbidden waters will kill anyone who doesn’t first answer a riddle. The yaksha’s “riddles” are more like philosophical questions designed to test if the answerer is enlightened or not which annoys Ulthar who was expecting a traditional Urskovian riddling contest. Nonetheless, Jenma is able to figure out a satisfactory answer to Ulthar’s riddle and Hrothgar answers his own; both can drink and bathe in the waters, while the others go thirsty.
Towards the end of the day, the party at last arrive at their destination: a cave entrance leading down to to the vanaran city of Kishkindha. Hrothgar climbs down the thick vine into the vast cavern where the city is located, followed by the others. At the bottom, the PCs are greeted warmly by the guards who direct them to the comfortable Heron and Lotus Inn. Here, the PCs are welcomed by Mathur, the inn’s vanaran owner who serves them vegetable curry accompanied by Lotus Heron, an exotic intoxicating drink made from mangoes and jungle spices. Mathur recounts that an evil sorceress has taken up residence in some nearby ancient geomancer ruins and this is making it impossible for his sons to harvest the spices they need to make the drink.
After the PCs have rested and eaten, they are escorted to see King Narinda, the ruler of Kishkindha, who asks if the party will get rid of the sorceress in exchange for a large emerald. When they ask about the Arrows of Hanuman, the king tells them they are a priceless holy relic of the vanaran people. The Juma Associates decide not to push the point, although Juma offers to slay the sorceress in exchange for a glimpse at the arrows before the others hastily shut him up. After some deliberation, the PCs agree to the mission. King Narinda promises to send Zakti, the only survivor of the patrol that went after the sorceress, to the Heron and Lotus to tell the PCs what he knows.