This island was truly a confounding place to the adventurers. By sunrise, Harv, Dinah, and Mal awoke to find that both Ryan and Crazy Eye had reappeared, but now the others were grievously ill. It appeared to be some form of blood fever. Of the new hires, only the cleric, Gabe, appeared not to be affected. None of them were healers or nursemaids. Waiting for the others to get better…or die…did not seem a prudent use of time. Also, the ruler of the witch apes was due to present his answer in just a short while, so those who were not ill left the sick ones to continue their search for the God of the Mountain. The sooner they found it, the sooner they could leave the damnable island.
Shortly after breakfast, the emissary of the witch apes finally approached. He relayed that his master had accepted their offer. In exchange for helping the witch apes rid themselves of the terror hawks, the massive primate would aid them in reaching the top of the central tomb and keep his minions from hassling them any further. For good measure, Mal decided to charm the emissary to enlist any further aid he could provide. It immediately paid off, as he knew of a nearby cache of bloodmoss. After a little more conversation, they agreed to launch their assault on the terror hawk’s stronghold at dusk, and the emissary departed.
That left the party with several hours to kill, so they agreed to explore the southern-most tomb. They found a little additional loot, but ran into a new obstacle when they attempted to pull an enticing-looking sword from a stone in one of the side chambers. Luckily, the party convinced Crazy Eye to loan one of his zombie slaves to make the attempt. It was lucky, because as soon as the sword was pulled upon, it triggered a massive cave-in of the entire western side of the upper tomb. Had any of the party been the one to make the pull, they would have been crushed under the rubble. As it stood, Crazy Eye lost one of his undead minions, but no one else was harmed. In the process of looting the upper level, they also disturbed a few snakes. Mal, however, was the only one bitten. Fortunately, the bite wasn’t venomous. Unfortunately, the wound forced her to shift, and she was unable to shift herself back. She was annoyed at her lack of ability to control her beast, but then, the Brothers had told her she would get better at it in time.
After that excitement, the party was weary of attempting to venture into the inner chamber, but Ryan volunteered to go it alone. He’d seemed a little off to Harv and Mal since he reappeared—refusing to discuss where he’d disappeared to or why. They figured this might help him acclimate to the job, so let him wander down into the inner tomb alone. Before he could reach the inner chamber, however, Ryan disturbed a swarm of blood flies which chased him out of the tomb, the others hot on his tail. Saphron dropped a twig of black acifacita down the tomb to prevent the swarm from following them. Gabe was extremely helpful in making sure everyone was bandaged up and ready to fight. Harv, Mal, and Ryan briefly discussed their good fortune in finding him. He would make an excellent addition to the guild. They spent the rest of the afternoon tending to their wounds and resting up before the big assault.
As dusk neared, Mal, Fenris, Saphron, Argyle, Harv, Dinah, Ryan, Gabe, and Crazy Eye and his remaining minions made their way to the southern base of the central tomb. As they neared, they could see that—true to his word—there was a newly formed “stairway” of stones and boulders that had been thrown against the side of the tomb’s outer rings. It would not be an easy climb, but at least it was now possible to actually reach the top of the tomb to enter it. When dusk hit, they could hear the assault begin. The witch apes began their battle of distraction on the northern side of the tomb while the adventurers began their ascent on the southern side.
Mal ordered Argyle to stay back with Dinah and Crazy Eye as she began to climb the stones. Fenris carried Gabe, Harv grew himself, and Ryan traded out his bow for a battle ax and shield for this fight. They made it to the top of the first ring before some of the terror hawks spotted them. There were only 4 hawks, and the first 3 were put down without much trouble. The fourth, however, managed to call for back-up. And a big back-up it was.
A gods-awful cacophony erupted from inside the tomb, and after a few moments a massive hawk emerged from the top. It was devilishly fast for something so huge. Before they could adjust their tactics, the hawk queen swooped on Gabe and Fenris. She tore poor Gabe in half, her claws mauling Fenris in the process. Mal was furious, but powerless against the flying beast in her wolf form. Harv, equally as ineffective as long as the beast remained airborn, however, had an idea.
He pulled a rope from the pack on his back and quickly tied one end around a harpoon, the other around Mal. Meanwhile, Ryan began banging his new shield with his ax to attempt to keep the hawk distracted while Crazy Eye and Dinah took turns peppering the queen with crossbow bolts from the cover of the forest below. As the the queen made another pass at those on the “stairway”, Harv launched the harpoon. It it its mark true, and caused the queen to drop lower in her flight than she’d intended. The loss of altitude was enough allow Mal to fling herself onto the queen’s back. Enraged, Mal began to maliciously tear into the beast’s neck with her claws. Bolts continued to find her marks in the creature’s hide as well, and, after a few more moments, the queen was driven to the ground. In a final fit of rage, Mal sank her vicious teeth into the queens neck as she twisted and pulled on her greatly damaged head. It had the desired effect of severing the beast’s head from her body and covering Mal in a thick shower of blood and gore.
Finally, the battle was over. The queen was dead, and the witch apes made quick work of the few remaining terror hawks. They’d done it. The treasure hunters had managed to fulfill their promise to the Ghost Ape, and had done it with no real injury, save for Fenris and Gabe. Fenris, while deeply wounded, would live to fight another day. Gabe, on the other hand, was not so lucky. No amount of healing—magical or otherwise—would put him back together. It was a shame. He would have made a great addition to the guild. But his valor would not be completely in vain. Mal honored him in the way the Brotherhood had taught her, by consuming his flesh, while Argyle burned the remainder of his body to honor him in the more traditional fashion.
The rest of the crew went about patching themselves up and began to strip the queen of her plumage. Such an exotic creature’s feather might catch a good price back on the continent, and Harv and Mal wanted the thing’s skull to add to the guild’s trophy wall. As darkness fell, the remaining party prepared to ascend to the top of the tomb and breach the resting place of the God of the Mountain…