The explorers head back into the jungle in search of the “girl in the tree,” suspected to be a dryad. Meeting little resistance, they arrive at the base of a large banyan tree, surrounded by others as if the smaller trees were supplicants of the large one. Aycenia, a dryad, approaches the party and thanks them for ending the blight of the Silent Isle. Her reward is the offer of healing and knowledge whenever the party needs it.
They learn from her that there is a ruined lighthouse to the south, inhabited by the cannibal tribe they have already encountered. They also learn that the cannibals have been on the island for nearly three-quarters of a century. She also knows of the Red Mountain Devil to the east, a bloodthirsty winged hunter on the Shiv. She also tells them that there is a sense of pervasive evil in the very soil of Smuggler’s Shiv. The party rests in her grove, deciding to approach the cannibal camp the next day.
Embarking at dawn, the explorers decide to search the wreck in the harbor, from which only a mast protrudes. Quaffing a potion of water breathing, the group finds a ship stripped to the tacks under the ocean, but identify it as the Thrune’s Fang, one of the lost ships from the Chelish armada that tried to retake Sargava nearly 75 years ago. Deciding to recon the lighthouse base from across the bay, it is difficult to see any activity through the foliage, and the group decides to cautiously approach the camp.
“Klorak, there is one to see you now.”
“Who be him?”
“Tatum, returned from the hunt.”
“Show him in.” Sheyla drew the curtain aside, and the strong warrior bowed low before his chieftain. The regent waved his hand, dismissing his consorts from the room.
“It is as Darusk predicted, Klorak. Ten survivors have moved to the old assassin camp, and half make their way here.”
Klorak swirled the potable in his goblet. “You have seen them?”
“Yes, Klorak, and they bear weapons, and a strange beast. They can breathe like fish, as they explored the Tomb. Perhaps they are a gift from the Mother.”
“If they are the ones that killed Darusk’s hunters, they are not a gift but a curse. Prepare the camp, and send me the hag.”
“Yes, Chief.” Tatum bowed low, loathe to summon the tired old woman, but he knew his place. For now.
He trotted past the campfire towards the old woman’s warren. As he approached the gate, the eerie skeletons rattled their broken scimitars against the wood in warning. Tatum bellowed into the air, “His Mightiness Klorak the Red seeks the counsel of Malikadna, Dame of the Mother and Keeper of our Salvation!” A few moments passed before the old woman appeared. Her vile, chattering companion sat upon her shoulder, munching on berries, the blood-red juice staining his white maw. The monkey grinned wickedly at Tatum, baring his crimson-stained teeth.
“What does that inbred fool need now?” she asked.
“His Mightiness seeks your counsel, Dame. The slayers of Darusk’s hunters approach.”
The old woman raised a crusty eyebrow, and smiled a wicked, broken smile. “Mother will have her dinner tonight then, won’t she?”
Max sneaks down the path into the camp, followed by Kay’es, who inadvertently snaps a twig, farts, and sneezes at the same time. Alerted to the intruders, a hectic melee ensues. The camp is sprawling and well-defended. Javelins hurtle down from the treetops as the explorers scramble for positions; blood-smeared warriors erupt from every door and path. Max, Arendel, and Taraz find themselves besieged by a few cannibals at the skeleton cage, which is opened by a foul old woman who tries to spook Max, who barely escaped the powerful gaze of her evil eye. He goes toe-to-toe with the crone, but she makes quick work of him with a draining wand. Arendel’s timely use of scorching ray and the oracle’s powerful healing keep the burly Varisian on his feet. The witch is knocked down and kept down by the wizard and oracle.
Meanwhile, Chumba, Kay’es and Ace wade neck-deep in crazed cannibals, as more seem to pour from every building. Ace uses the grease spell to keep the crazed natives confined, and Chumba makes quick work of them. The chief emerges from a door near the lighthouse, and his consorts enter the fray. Klorak announces himself, and declares the intruders sacrifices to the Mother. By now, Max has made his way towards this portion of the fracas, and Ace’s grease spells literally bottleneck the cannibals, who fall quickly to the Varisian and the Shoanti.
The sun begins to fade on day 18, 8 Arodus 4711 AE, stranded on Smuggler’s Shiv. Even the canopy is silent as the bruised warriors gather together, bracing themselves in the quiet of the cannibal camp.