Having been traveling east through the Tidym jungle for a few days, away from Franzis’ monastery, the party found themselves setting out in the morning from a stone ruin. An unrelenting downpour had been rolling over the jungle, and spirits were not high as the four slogged on through the undergrowth and the mud. Not long into that days travels the four travelers came across another stone ruin, though this one clearly inhabited recently. They investigated it, and found it to be in considerably better shape than the ruin they had taken shelter in, with poorly made additions like doors and window shutters. Within they were quickly set upon by two guards, clearly from some local village, but once they had explained themselves they were given directions to the village of Zikert, apparently nearby. The guards exhibited some signs of strange, local customs, but no more than was to be expected.
Upon arriving at Zikert, the party found themselves answering to a guard behind a rather crude palisade wall, who immediately called for the villages chief, Swama. The party was let in, and found the village somewhat less impressive than any of their own homes. The streets were noticeably empty, many of the homes, save those built into stone ruins, were little more than wood and mud huts, and the forest canopy above the village was thick to the point of darkness. The chief spoke to them about local customs, and how their had been no visitors to the village in some time. After brief formalities, the chief offered the party a hut in which to take shelter during their stay, and the party split to go about their own business.
Soon after the streets became busier, sometime around 6 PM, and the party attended to their individual interests. El-Kuhl took council with the chief, and was asked if he and his friends would be willing to undertake a mission for the village. As their customs prevented the chief or any of the other villagers from leaving the jungle during daylight, he needed to contract another party to recover some form of artifact from what he only described as ‘creatures’ in the South. Apparently these creatures had come from the hills in the South-East, burnt down much of the jungle, and forced refugees to Zikert from its sister city of Capyd. The artifact, which was left incredibly vague by Chief Swama, would apparently be used to awaken some ancient guardians that had protected the people of the jungle in the past. Simultaneously, Gromnyr was being told by a local smith that Chief Swama’s over-zealous religious beliefs were preventing him from doing anything about a Goblin problem, the creatures spoken of by Chief Swama, and that for this reason the village was likely doomed. Tobias sought out the local children, trying to get a feeling for what it was people his age were doing, and found that many of them had been put to work in the strengthening of the fortifications, a clear indication of the fear and urgency within the village.
As the travelers found themselves settling in for the night the village became ever more active, and a large gathering formed near the Chief’s residence. Upon a balcony the Chief sat next to the Shaman, Zengi, who preached a sermon to a mixed crowd regarding the need to stay inside jungle, and how the sins of the Ancients had made the world outside a wretched and dangerous place. Franzis wandered about the crowd before retiring, uttering retorts to the sermon.