The party followed the banks of the massive river north to the camp they spied earlier. By the time they were near to the camp it was late afternoon and they could already hear the distant sounds of drum music from within the tents. Stopped at the perimeter by two lightly armed guards, they explained that they were simple travelers in this land. After some brief confusion over exactly what constituted tribute and leadership, they were granted admittance to the camp.
A large central tent contained most of the nomads, and a celebration appeared to be well underway. Their surprise arrival only briefly pausing the festivities. The camp’s leader made his way to them and introduced himself as Malhari Banjarra, nomad extraordinaire. As he explained to the adventurers that the celebration was the cryptic finding of the challenge, they surmised that this camp had found the very place they were searching for. Doing their best not to reveal too much of their motive they negotiated to join Malhari on what he had planned to attempt alone. Several of them were suspicious of the nomad’s openness, but it was decided that whatever he might be hiding was at least not as dangerous as anything else they had already overcome.
The night passed from the agreement in a blur. Powerful honeyed drinks were downed, and the newcomers drew attention all night from the travelers. Some of them found this attention more welcome than others. Woomera finally managing to convince their hosts she was not a captive of the colonists, but giving up on dispelling many of their even more erroneous assumptions regarding her people. Maarus impressed the server, holding his own against the nomads who were far more used to the powerful drinks. Calder enjoyed spending time and sharing stories with the people who more or less wandered around from story to story their whole lives. And Waeslyn immersed himself in a community where his name simply meant nothing of significance, although the prominent rifle on his back was clearly less than appreciated.
Rising somewhat later than they might otherwise have as a result of the merrymaking, they found Malhari on the shore readying a pair of canoes to cross further into the river.
Squeezing into the small boats, they rowed out to a small island in the middle of the placid waters. Arranged in a strangely even pattern on the island were regular boulders. After puzzling as to their location for a bit, a combined push from everyone was enough to barely dislodge the central boulder, revealing a passage down into the cavern below.
Winding their way through the entrance corridor they spied dilapidated masonry with messages written in draconic. Woomera translated it roughly to the party, explaining there was some kind of warning about greed within this place, and that it advised them to take but one thing. A hidden gallery’s facade had crumbled to reveal exquisite paintings of impossible lands to tempt the curious. Around the corner. coins and gems could be seen glistening in torchline in piles about the room. Unfortunately, the light also glistened on the carapace of a gigantic scorpion guarding the valuables. By luring it into a trap and lodging it in the doorway however, the adventurers easily defeated the behemoth. Calder set about peeking into the stacked chests in the room and found valuable weapons, whilst Waeslyn seemed to be avoiding even looking at the massive amethyst in a marble statue’s hand.
Leaving that room to continue exploring, that band came into some sort of regal room, with canine statues lining the wall, maws open in unison. At the opposite end of the hall was the unfinished statue of a brass dragon, hewn by claw from a single massive piece of marble. The corner of this room contained a barrier that numbed any who approached it’s entry covered as it was in mystical runes. They agreed that something about this room might deactivate the barrier, but resolved to return later after further exploration.
Leaving that chamber, they came into another extravagant storage room littered with treasure. But rather than a scorpion, two husks shambled toward them, hives of terrible wasps made into the cavity that had once been the corpses’ chests. Fighting through the poisonous stings, they eventually managed to dispell the necromantic energies that sustained the bodies, and the swarms fell to the ground. As they took time to heal their wounds and recover from the strange fight, the stunning ruby in the statue’s grip was seen reflected in Woomera’s eyes.