The next morning, the group set off towards the landmark Baph had spied. As they went deeper and deeper into the jungle, the going became more and more difficult. Even at night, they were beset by plagues of insects which made sleep a miserable experience for Tierel. Arsen shared as much of his knowledge as he could with everyone and kept a weather eye on their surroundings, which turned out to be fortunate when he spotted a patch of mold near their campsite that could have corrupted their rations and water.
After several more days of travel, the group came upon a House Tharashk mining camp, deep in the jungle. Approaching cautiously, they were greeted politely by the camp administrator, a large Half-Orc named Siron d’Tharashk who bore the Mark of Finding. While he did not have much in the way of supplies to offer them, he graciously allowed them to rest for a time in the shade of the camp, and the group relaxed while he brought them tea and water.
While they sat chatting, Arsen noticed a fire start on the thatched roof of one of the nearby huts. He gave a quick warning to Siron, who marshaled his men to combat the fire while Anton and Ral helped combat it with their magic. While the others were working to battle the fire, Baph noticed something odd – a strange hum and a burst of energy accompanied the starting of another fire on another roof, leading him to suspect that these fires were not happening by accident.
When the fires were finally put out, Siron wearily informed them that this was the third mysterious fire in a week, and Baph told him he suspected it might be caused magically. It seemed to Baph that the effect was coming from the general direction they were heading in, and they told him of their goal. Siron explained that they had prospected in that direction only to encounter a fierce band of lizardfolk who attacked them in the jungle. He had then shied away from that area, lacking the resources to combat lizardfolk and prospect for Dragonshards. It seemed likely that the lizardfolk were causing the fires, and Arsen offered to investigate the situation when they journeyed that way. Siron agreed, although he confessed he had little coin with which to pay them, but he could give them 800 gp worth of Syberis Dragonshards, which the group found entirely agreeable.
Setting off into the jungle, they traveled another day without incident, but on the second day out they were ambushed by lizardfolk bearing a strange holy symbol painted onto their skin. Anton identified it as the symbol of a minor sun god, worshiped by primitive tribes. Proceeding further through the jungle, it began to rain. As they traveled, the rain got steadily worse and worse and within an hour, they were moving through the middle of a downpour, barely able to see 5 feet ahead of themselves. It was only Baph’s keen eyesight that saw the bridge spanning the abyss to their left, and the towering ziggurats beyond.
Approaching the bridge, it was clear it was in a state of terrible disrepair. Spanning the 60 foot gap, it had broken boards, frayed ropes, and was treacherously slick with the rain. Tierel braved it first, taking a rope across the way with her and securing it on the other side with Cast’s help. Arsen helped Anton out of his armor while Baph and Ral made the trip, only barely getting across without falling into the river below. Finally, Storm began to make her way across as well, but only made it a few steps before the wooden planks gave way beneath her feet and she fell. Ral immediately dove into the gorge to save her, manifesting wings with his psionic powers in an attempt to catch her. As he fell, he caught sight of her in some strange form, a form he found it difficult to think about later on when remembering the incident. As soon as she spotted him coming towards her, however, she immediately appeared to be a wolf again, thrashing violently as she fell towards the river.
Ral managed to catch her before she hit the water, saving her from taking too much damage from the fall. Making his way back up, he found that the others had successfully made their way across, and the group rigged a rope harness to pull her up to the shore. They finally drug her, wet, smelly and bedraggled onto the other side of the gorge, and she stomped off into the rain to recover her dignity. Baph wandered idly behind her, and spotted the two ziggurats again through the rain, and a small structure between them. Making their way through the pouring rain towards the smaller structure, they found a plaza full of pillars and some small but roofless buildings as well. While the others tried to use a tarp to create some kind of shelter from the rain, Tierel went off exploring the pillars and found a pair of cages containing large, scary looking lizards. When she stopped to investigate, she found herself face to face with another lizardfolk. After a tense moment’s pause, the lizardfolk freed the two monitor lizards and attacked, bringing the rest of the party to Tierel’s aid.
After the battle, the group decided that it was not safe to rest here while the rain was coming down and other lizardfolk could be lurking in the area. They approached one of the two ziggurats, and found it defended by a shaman and a guard, who were performing a ritual before a large item, consisting of polished mirrors and shiny surfaces. As they approached, the lizardfolk turned and attack, while the shaman downed a potion of invisibility and vanished. Arsen made his way up to the top, driving back the warrior while Tierel snuck around to the side, spotting the invisible shaman as he drank another potion. While Baph dealt a mental blow to the warrior, Arsen moved in on the shaman’s position, who responded by casting a minor curse on him. Undaunted, Arsen continued moving in and was hit with another curse, but managed to kill the shaman anyway despite the crushing fear upon him.
After defeating the shaman, they examined the strange artifact while Tierel looked for hidden rooms. Baph determined that this artifact was what was focusing the sun onto the Tharashk huts, although it obviously wouldn’t work in this torrential downpour. Anton found some gold plaques that were obviously of giantish origin, mentioning several other landmarks in the area, and Tierel discovered a hidden room where the shaman kept a gold icon of the primitive god they worshiped.
Moving to the other ziggurat, they found it occupied by four more lizardfolk defending a second artifact, whom they dispatched after a heated battle. Searching some more, they found more giantish plaques detailing more landmarks in the area. Bpah wanted to smash the two artifacts and drag them back to Stormreach, but Anton insisted that they be kept intact, or they would lose their power. Finally, the group decided to offer the location of the items to House Tharashk, thinking that the ziggurats would be a much strong position to build base on than their current place.
Returning to the Tharashk camp, Siron paid them the agreed upon Dragonshards for their efforts, and they gave him their proposal regarding the ruins. He agreed to this as well, and the group led him and several prospectors to the ziggurats. Upon thier safe arrival, Siron gave them a voucher for 2000 gp worth of services from House Tharashk.
Examining the giantish plaques, Anton and Arsen determined that their next stop should be a place called the Temple of Clean Earth, far to the East. Shouldering their packs, they headed east towards their next landmark.