The jungle of Tiquanda is a hazardous place, filled with all kinds of vicious plant and animal life. Flesh eating Carniphilas, venomous Spit Nettles, surely no one is safe for the many dangers that hide between the trees and the bushes. One brave explorer has felt this first hand and was able to write down his experiences. This man is Ploch Pridestride. One day, he ventured on a risky expedition with a group of fellow explorers. Their plan was to follow the coastline from Port Hope, all the way to the undead city Drefia. Along the way, the encountered many hostile creatures and dangers they hadn't expected. But before Ploch and his men even reached Drefia, they uncovered a fascinating mystery. In honor of this great explorer, your dedicated reporter decided to reconstruct the travel route, using only Ploch Pridestride's expedition journal.
This is where Ploch's journal can be found. The library is located above the church.
'After stocking up supplies in Port Hope we immediately focused on the next step in our plans. It was our goal to reach the haunted ruins of Drefia using small boats that would allow us to stay close to the beach which had some major advantages: while exploring the coastline we could gather food and water in the jungle and avoid the dangers of the treacherous reefs of the northern coast at the same time. Of course this would still be a dangerous and daring enterprise - else it would have been done before -, but we were sure that it could be done.'
'Indeed the voyage started smoothly. We grew accustomed to the difficulties of the coastline quite fast and none of the giant sea creatures that were rumoured to plague the reefs were sighted. The first actual threats we faced were quite ordinary beasts of the jungle which - although dangerous - did not turn out to be of greater danger than the animals we had encountered during other travels. However we did not expect at all the very jungle to turn against us.'
'We were setting up camp on a clearing that seemed peaceful, even idyllic. With hindsight this fact should have alerted us, but we were exhausted from a lengthy trip and relieved to get some rest without having to drive some beasts away first. All of a sudden, thorns shot all over the clearing and the previously calm jungle ground came to violent life. Plants we had never seen before were biting our feet with the ferocious greed of a rabid hyaena. Complete disorientation and panic took over and there was yelling and running everywhere. When we finally made it back to the boats, most of the equipment we had carried with us was lost and there was no one among us who was not injured, some were even poisoned. We spent a hard night directly on the beach and woke up drenched, covered with sand and salt all over, our wounds burning like fire. Yet we decided to continue our expedition.'
'Bandaged as good as it was possible under the prevailing circumstances we continued to follow the coastline. We reached an area where the reefs made it almost impossible to stay close to the shore and thus forced us to make a decision. We could either try to continue our voyage through the treacherous reefs by boat, or head for deeper water and travel across the dangerous ocean for an indefinite time or, as third alternative, continue by foot along the beach with the boats on our backs until it seemed safe enough to use the boats again. Under normal circumstances I would have opted for the latter, but me and my men were wounded and tired and the jungle had already shown us its ugly face in a way which made none of us want to see more of it. Heading for the ocean was no real option either. Not only that our small boats were not built for that kind of travel - reaching Drefia via the high seas had already been accomplished before and doing so would contradict the intention of the whole expedition. Thus we dared to stick to our original plan as closely as possibly and to try finding a path through the reefs.'
'Shortly after we were rewarded for our bravery with a breathtaking sight. Unexpectedly, pyramid-like ruins appeared at the horizon breaking the eternal green of the jungle. Already half taken over by the all-devouring jungle vegetation but still clearly recognisable there was an actual city - ancient, but obviously populated. Having heard about the pyramids of the southern desert we instinctively related the jungle monuments to the same culture and to the people settling in the city of Ankrahmun. While we cautiously steered our boats closer to the beach and wondered about the mysterious origins of this jungle city, more and more apes showed up on the beach, yelling at us in threatening poses. Strangely enough, they were wearing various kinds of equipment - actually wearing it, not randomly strapped to the body like some mindless beast might have done. Due to the obvious hostility we stayed far enough from them to avoid the coconuts and stones they hurled in our direction.'
'I was left solely with the option to examine the strange apes and the ruins through my spyglass and was able to spot different kinds of apes which wore sparse clothing and equipment such as weapons in a way that made clear they knew what they were doing. However some - if not most - equipment looked odd on them, as if made for creatures of a completely different build. A closer look at the ruins revealed that they were not as ruined as I had thought at first, in fact most were only overgrown by the jungle. The visible remains displayed impressive work and art. Oddly, most patterns on the walls showed serpents and lizards of some kind which for sure did not fit the hairy humanoids inhabiting the city. Then I saw the first statues. Although obviously damaged on purpose and turned into almost unrecognisable heaps of stone, some of them showed features of two legged, upright walking lizards complete with weaponry and other equipment. Instantly I remembered the stories of intelligent, yet savage lizard men which were rumoured to live somewhere in the deepest jungle. I recognise a mystery when I encounter one, and this was a mystery for sure. Although a good mystery can fascinate me a lot more than most women I met in my life, I was responsible for this expedition and for my men which stopped me from changing our plans right there and then. Instead I started to make up a plan for a later expedition which would lead me to the area where the lizard people possibly could be found in order to learn more about them.'
'Thus we left the strange pyramid city behind us for now and continued our passage through the reefs. Shortly after, we eventually made it and the shoreline became safe once again. We decided to take a break and set up camp, even more careful than usual, securing it with everything we had at our disposal since we needed some time to repair our boats and equipment as well as to heal our wounds. We camped there for two days and - thanks to the gods - had to face only minor nuisances. During the night the same jungle which could turn dangerously silent in the daytime became a symphony of screams, screeches and howls of creatures no one of us could even imagine. When the sun set, the sky seemed to explode with massive rain as if the gods were pouring down a whole ocean on us. Even with our full equipment we would have had a hard time to keep ourselves comfortable and with a significant amount of our stuff lost to the jungle, it was almost impossible to actually recover. As we took off for the sea again we were all glad to escape this green hell once more. We followed the shoreline to the next impassable reef formation, however, this time the reefs were close to the beach, so it was easy enough to find a way around while keeping the land in sight as well as avoiding the depths of the sea. Using my spyglass, a wooden structure blending almost perfectly with the jungle caught my attention. It reminded me of an enormous fortification of some sort, yet there seemed to be no defenders, just thickest jungle surrounding it. Since there was no reasonable possibility to reach this structure at this time or even just the shore, we continued our voyage through the night.'
Since your reporter was going by foot over land, and had no boat with him, he was forced to abandon the original travelling route taken by Ploch Pridestride. While they had kept following the coast line to the north and later to the south-east, I had to travel south alongside the wooden fortification. Luckily, that did lead me to a discovery that is most likely linked to the next piece of the traveling journal.
'It was about midnight when a roar of some sort interrupted the cacophony of the jungle, and then silence remained. The waves of the sea and their gentle lapping against our wooden boats were the only sounds still audible. From what I can tell, the cause of this roar must have been something we had never encountered before. We had seen and heard dragons, even the majestic dragon lords, but this had to be something which would dwarf even them. I am not ashamed to admit that my hands were trembling when I took my spyglass and searched the night for any sight of the creature we had just heard. Of course I did not really hope to actually spot something in this darkness, so again I was more than surprised when I indeed detected a shadow moving through the jungle. I hardly could have overlooked it since it towered even above the giant trees of the jungle. I was not able to see anything more of it than its rough shape, but for all that I saw I swear to the gods it was the shape of some brutish humanoid. No one of us felt prepared to investigate this mystery in that night, and as the sun rose once again we had already left the sandy part of the coastline and followed the jagged mountain range which seperated Drefia from the rest of the continent. Our destination was near.'
Due to practical limitations (the lack of a boat), your reporter was unable to reconstruct the final part of the route along the Mountains. However, after consulting several maps of the location, I was able to mark the most probably route Ploch had taken.
This concludes the reconstruction of the expedition once organized by the explorer Ploch Pridestride and his men. Whether he has ventured on a new journey to find the lizard civilization is unknown, as no notes about it have been found so far.