After an uneventful elemental galleon journey from Sharn to Stormreach, the Wrenchwright Expedition arrives at last on the shores of Xen’drik. They are greeted there by their lizardman guide, Ssaross, and an oppressive heat and humidity that bears down on them like a sweaty Orc. Their porters, Alek and Drew, unload the expedition gear onto mules, as the party spends their last night in civilization. They set off early next morning deep into the jungles of the Mystery Continent.
Along the way, Ssaross informs the party that he feels Grundark Grundarkson, the Dwarven Chief of Site Security, is making a mistake in his choice of base camp location. The native lizardman has been unable to convince the stubborn Dwarf to see his point of view, but lizardfolk are not known for their diplomacy skills. Alvyn continues studying and translating the map and lore surrounding the Kor’rash Ruins as the party painstakingly makes its way through dense undergrowth upstream along the multiple creeks and streams flowing from the heart of the jungle.
Our heroes engage the first hostile flora and fauna of the continent approximately one day away from base camp, four days into their trek. The expedition scout and naturalist, Kormar, detects the carnivorous plants before they can get the jump on the group, but he underestimates the speed at which bloodthorn vines can slither through the jungle, and is caught in a flurry of thorns and a surprise clutch of stirges that burst from a nearby tree. The team is able to handily defeat the creatures with eldritch and radiant blasts, clearing the way to base camp.
Base camp is located at the fork of the river on a bluff approximately five feet above the riverbank. The junior expedition members are busily clearing the tree line to improve sightlines and using the lumber to erect a hasty palisade. Kormar makes an inspection of the site, and determines that it will stay above the waterline when monsoon season arrives, but it will be surrounded by swamp—ideal terrain for the bullywugs should they start raiding the camp. The rest of the party introduce themselves to the rest of the expedition staff and laborers. Jordell Dash, the Karrnathi Second-in-Command of Site Security, is excited that the entire expedition has arrived, and looks forward to exploring in earnest. Smilla gets to know Grundark better, and tries to get a read on him in the event he needs to be convinced to move base camp.
After inspecting the camp, the party consults Ssaross to see if there is a better site. He recommends an ancient Giant ruin 3 hours to the west—deeper in bullywug territory, but drier and much more defensible. Our heroes decide to follow up on the lead to see if they should move headquarters before the rains come in three or four days. Alvyn defers to the expertise of his seasoned field team, but Grundark grumbles that he could use their help building up more defenses. The party ignores his complaints, sure that the calculated risk of scouting the site will be more fruitful than their physical labor on a camp they may abandon.
Ssaross leads them to an old, overgrown Giant bridge that the expedition will need to use to cross the river when it swells from the rains. Instead of taking a safe ford, they decide to clear the bridge. Kormar detects more bloodthorn vines, which Two-ton baits into the waiting magic and claws of the rest of the party. Two-ton pushes ahead to try and lure out more hidden enemies, and is swarmed by thousands of poisonous centipedes that erupt from underneath the bridge. Smilla keeps the warforged on his feet with judicious healing, while Kormar’s Faerie Fire burns the vermin away. Two-ton’s clever tactical use of Tide of Iron sweeps hundreds of the insects into the river below, clearing the bridge for future use.
The party climbs up a steep rise onto a low plateau into old-growth jungle, eventually coming into a clearing with the Giant ruin Ssaross spoke about. The ruin is mostly intact, and rests upon a ten-foot high stone foundation. A twenty-foot high, five-foot thick stone wall surrounds the compound; except for some collapsed sections, it looks in very good shape. Quinn, the team’s history and arcana expert, identifies the statue in the courtyard as an eldritch giant, the former rulers of Xen’drik. A worn plaque at the base of the statue in Ancient Giantish identifies the building as an inn or tavern. The well in the courtyard maintains the same water-purification enchantment it has for millennia.
Kormar spots motion within the completely overgrown main two-story structure and transforms into a small spider to scout it out. He identifies about half a dozen enormous roaches, and the party decides it would be best to clear out the structure for future use. Following standard operating procedure, Two-ton advances to lure out the enemies, and the roaches swarm him the moment he steps into the dank building. The adult roaches pin him into place with sticky spittle, while the younger roaches spit sheets of acid at the expedition members unlucky enough to be standing in the doorway. Smilla summons her Beacon of Hope, soothing the acid burns, and the expedition focuses its fire on the tough-to-kill Xen’drik roaches. Unable to bring their superior numbers to bear, the mindless, disgusting vermin are crushed by the party’s superior tactics.
After a short breather, the party turns to search the structure. What treasure may the roaches have scavenged? Will Grundark be convinced to move base camp to the Giant tavern ruins? How many bullywugs were drawn to the signal fires Quinn lit in his attempts to clear the foliage from the bridge? This, and more, next time on Eberron Adventures: The Ruins of Kor’rash.