The Men of Real Talent knew they had to find Sayani if they had any chance of achieving their goals: finding out more about the mine, getting the shiftgate projector to get back home, or getting Toulouse a new body to sexually experiment with. With this in mind, Mili picked up a few items of Sayani’s from his hut and used them to get a Farsharing link on him, a compass point in her head that would ensure they could find him no matter what. They followed a small trail cut through the jungle wilderness for several hours, tracking Sayani through both physical and Farsharing means, before the trail petered out while Mili’s compass still said they had a ways to go. She carefully headed in front of her compatriots, counting on her decades of experience in the jungle to keep both herself and her team safe. She shortly saw a trio of Antupa birds, four-winged predators that had little fear of people and a tendency to attack in flocks. Thinking back to her old hunting trips, Mili remembered that the Antupa bird’s favorite meal is the flesh of its own kind, and decided to take one out and sneak past the others while they were distracted by eating their brethren.
Mili drew the bow she had grown up using, a short bow specially designed for the close distances in the Munti Manchay jungle, and fired a shot, unfortunately failing to kill her target. The Antupa birds, alerted to the presence of prey, launched themselves into the air and began attacking the various Men of Real Talent. Eustice valiantly assaulted one of the birds, only to have his arms torn up with a vicious attack. Gruda came up behind him and punched the bird out of the air, killing it instantly. The other birds rushed towards the carrion, though Eustice and Toulouse continued to try and kill the birds for a time—and Iolanthe used her Soulsharing to encourage Eustice’s tarts towards suicidal “valiance,” which miraculously did not result in their deaths.
Heading towards Sayani, the Men encountered a small creek. They considered swinging or climbing across on the vines that crossed the creek, but Mili remembered the water snakes known as “living vines” that often camouflaged themselves. Instead, Gruda used her Forceshifting to knock a tree over and form an impromptu bridge. Mili crossed first, only to be assaulted by a living vine—a large constrictor over a foot wide and a dozen feet long—and fled, positioning herself on the shore ready to snipe. Eustice followed behind, and was immediately grabbed by the snake. Toulouse tried his hand at Waveshaping, but failed to free Eustice, so Gruda rushed onto the bridge and brought her fist down on the snake’s head, cracking its skull and making it flee.
Another living vine attacked Eustice, and nobody could get to the log to help him. He attacked it, but it stole his sword, and then Toulouse used his Waveshaping to raise the blade from the waters like Excalibur. Iolanthe used her Soulsharing to calm the snake, and it fell into the water, passive. She then presented herself as a helpless woman and asked Eustice to help her out of the dangerous situation (in fact aiming to get him out of danger). He fell for it to an alarming degree [9 of them], and snatched her up in a princess carry. Unfortunately, one last snake rose from the water and attacked Eustice, yanking him and Iolanthe into the water. His legs bound, Eustice couldn’t swim, so Gruda Forceshifted him and Iolanthe out of the water, and the dangling snake was the perfect target for Mili, who drove an arrow into its throat. They all rushed across the log before the blissed-out snake recovered, but Mili stayed behind and killed it, harvesting some snake meat for steaks.
Heading further into the woods, the Men were approached by a Qiri ape. These strange creatures are mysterious even in Munti Manchay, and Mili struggled [using “Stranger in a Strange City”] to remember the details of its ecology, eventually remembering that the apes were never aggressive, but could utterly destroy anyone who threatened their territory. Iolanthe used her knowledge of Cultures to determine that the Qiri ape was at least semi-sapient, with beads braided into its hair, and that it seemed curious, not trying to threaten the Men of Real Talent. Mili, paranoid as always, decided not to try and negotiate with the creature, and instead led the Men away as quietly and non-confrontationally as possible. It watched for a while, then lumbered off.
A few yards away, the jungle broke off into a sizeable path, where Mili spotted a Chinkasqa scout. She decided not to give away her position by warning her friends, so sneaked up on the scout, who had meanwhile spotted Gruda and thrown a spear her way. The spear caromed off Gruda’s armor, and Mili put her bow to the scout’s head and asked who she was (using her take on Iolanthe’s diplomacy lessons). The scout defiantly said only “Chuscu.”
Realizing that the tyrant who had ruined her childhood was back for more, Mili considered what she could possibly do next…