Our ship departs the harbor in the early morning heavy fog of February 27th 1603. The seas immediately prove to be challenging and only hours into the voyage we enter into a rain squall where we remain cloaked in a driving rain. Captain Gamma assigns the new crew members to jobs those new members being us. Being disguised but recognizing her nimbleness, Anna is assigned to rigging duties. Franz is appointed as the watchman in the crows nest mostly during the daylight hours. Fernando, Esteban and I were designated as boatswain crew a job often given to the less skilled sailors. However Fernando sent most days below deck because of his inebriated state. The more refined Sherwood was send to the galley most days to peel potatoes and sometimes carrots. As days turned into weeks I spent my free time observing the wide variety of marine life. I cataloged the sightings of some 27 whales, 80 dolphins, 34 birds, 23 green sea turtles, 51 seals, 5 large and 13 smaller sharks, 4 manatees, countless sea birds, 4 schools of sea robins and a colony of long-tailed cormorants. Because we encountered three hurricanes the journey became arduous causing much delay and sometimes throwing us off course. Ultimately we landed on April 1st nearly 5 weeks after leaving the Port of Lisbon. While we spent a few hours in the coastal town called Elmina I discovered that around 1598, the Dutch people had joined the Portuguese people in gold trading in this region of the dark continent. Franz will be able to communicate more easily since there must be Dutch traders in and around the seaside town. We must seek out a competent guide to help lead us through the unoccupied lands of the dark continent and in addition locating porters to assist in transporting our supplies. After only 30 minutes Fernando identifies an agreeable wilderness guide that first questions our reasoning behind our travel into the inhospitable interior of this dark continent. None of us pay any attention to his questions and Fernando asks for a place to sleep overnight. Before he responds to Fernando’s questions he then asks, “What are you willing to pay?” Franz then reminds Fernando of his need to consume alcoholic beverages. Fernando asks our newly hired guide, “We also need a place that will serve my friend liquid refreshment.” Franz begins to pound the ale and crossing paths with our guide they strike up a conversation. The guide asks simple question: Where are we planning to go? Franz just responds with “East”. Then Franz asks if he has heard of any rumors. The guide explains a situation around a town to the east called Negari. He acts nervous and states many believed the city was wiped out but it was discovered that Negari is now lead by a vampire queen and she demands tribute. After purchasing added supplies that include a two week’s supply of food we retire to our rooms. Leading our troop is our newly acquired guide and Franz as we set out just before sunrise. Fernando suggests we surround our porters with Crusaders so that we may protect both the porters as well as the supplies that they have strapped on their backs. Our convoy now numbers nine including some well travelled porters and a seasoned and tanned jungle guide. Early spring but the temperatures are even uncomfortable at noon on a daily basis with fatigue plaguing us on a nearly every day even when we remain shaded during the warmest part of the day. Sounds and smells permeate the air as our travel is slow but steady. Those sounds are of the vast numbers of wildlife even though we see very little of those beasts of this jungle country at least for the first 9 days. Lunchtime on the tenth day I discover a parrot feasting on a baobab fruit plucked from a nearby tree then I hear Franz yelling for help. By the time Fernando and I arrive to lend a hand he has fought off what he claims to have a “very large” cat. Our company returns to the trail and the days continue to drone on as I look about for any wildlife hourly. Crashing out of the jungle is a group large sized monkeys they begin to charge our group. Just as they reach an arms length I put two of them under a spell that causes them to collapse to the ground fast asleep. Fernando and Franz struggle to defend themselves against the powerfully built animals. Although fatigued I manage to put another two additional man sized monkeys to asleep. We gather ourselves after I heal the wounds of my companions and resume our grueling journey eastward. Returning to the trail days later we encounter our first of the Indigenous men of the region. They charge out of the underbrush spears at the ready wearing very little in the way of clothing. As the tribesmen engage us I transform into a large brown bear with the hope of contributing to our fighting ability. I look over to see Franz hack one of them in the upper arm and then follow up with a slice to the neck dropping him. I claw one multiple times which causes him to fall onto his back. Both Fernando and I are not fairing so well with the natives landing well placed thrusts of their spears. Both of us battle back against them and drop our foes to the jungle grass along the path. Franz doled out the punishment and readily handled his opponents. I heal our wounds and pay special attention to Fernando and myself. On the 29th day the group settles down to cool off and to eat lunch but our solitude is short lived. Fernando looks up to see a very large snake dangling from a tree branch ready it seems to drop upon the former sea dog. I begin to react when Fernando draws his pistol and fires but the bullet goes wide cutting into the dense underbrush. Fernando is now intertwined with this huge snake but he manages to stab it with a dagger. I jump to action and put the huge reptile to sleep allowing Fernando to wiggle free of the beast. Less than a day later during our march along the path we identify a plateau in a short distance ahead. Our guide says in a jaded voice that we must climb up to reach our destination and only a few miles further on we discover a weather worn rope bridge over a far reaching chasm. Oddly the vegetation is very sparse and the animals have all but disappeared this landscape has me concerned. We arrive within 500 yards of the bridge and there is one major obstacle…seven white war painted tribal warriors. Our guide believes them to be henchmen of the vampire queen. I prep my fellow allies using enhance to their fighting as well as the talent boost damage on their main weapons. Fernando is the first to wade into battle and charges one of the men stab him through his thigh causing a grievous wound while Franz wounds another just as severely. These warriors seem to be well trained and moreover they are armed with large barbed spears. I summon a spirit and arm him with the spear from the warrior just killed by Fernando. Franz follows his first attack with another powerful blow killing another tribesman. As usual Fernando has become very bloody from not just his own but that of his enemies. I successfully deflect three incoming thrusts of their lethal spears. Just after I deflect an attack I notice Fernando losing his balance and becoming weak. I call upon our mighty Lord and use my talent to heal all of Fernando’s wounds. Franz destroys another with a combination of impressive slashes to the head and chest. Fernando connects with his sword and draws the blood of this possible leader among them. Franz takes a few strides toward the embattled pair and strikes the leader from his blind side causing his demise. Franz and Fernando both wield their weapons skillfully and kill another of the men engaged in combat with Fernando. We turn our attention to the lone warrior sporting a troubled look and before anyone else moves to employ their weapons, Fernando swings bringing the full weight of the sword upon the wounded warrior finishing him. We clean ourselves up and loot the queen’s henchmen giving spears to our porters as well as arrows to our guide. All of the group commence sizing up this rope bridge that crosses the wide and deep chasm. My first thought is “It doesn’t look very sturdy or stable and it even appears neglected”.