Tarstar - h/m Thief, lv 4. Oridean/Suel blooded. Grew up pirating in the Lordship of the Isles. Hired on to explore the Forbidden City. Was captured. Was freed by this party as it explored the city. He promptly joined the group.
Grom - d/m F/P, lv 3/3. Priest of Dugmaren Brightmantle. Born in Glorioles Mountains, sought knowledge in the name of Brightmantle. Took employment in Lordship of the Isle to explore Forbidden City. Was captured and released with Tarstar.
NPCs (I had these folks around originally hoping more players would join; they haven't so far. Therefore, I am trying to develop personalities and classes as the adventure goes.)
Your party makes final preparations to set out. Gear is secured and weapons readied. Cirdan picks up Hairycheeks sets his body to his shoulder. “For an elf, your physical strength is admirable,” comments Ide Otneaux.
Breymeer and Southar have both offered to lead. Southar walks with his new shield and his long sword. Breymeer is just off his side with his bow ready.
The dwarves take up the second rank, using their dark vision as best as they can in the flashing lightning. Both dwarves have their crossbows ready.
Next is Cirdan Saralonde carrying Hairycheeks. Ide Otneaux walks next to Cirdan, “I will help cover you until you get a chance to set Hairy down and pull weapons should the need arise. And arise, I am sure it will.”
Behind Cirdan walks Zura, the Olman man. It is obvious he is uncomfortable. He watches the darkness carefully. His hand is pale as he grips Hairycheeks short sword tight. He seems to watch all of you as well.
Grimlock is next in line. He peers out into the night using the watch dark vision his half elf blood will give him. Tarstar walks with him. Each takes his turn watching the rear.
The group sets out through the double doors and into the storm. It immediately assaults you with rain and wind. Missile fire will be very difficult at close ranges and all but impossible at longer ranges in this wind.
You have decided to try your luck to the east as Cirdan said it was clear to the amphitheatre. You move to the forest path and work your way among the trees to the amphitheatre. You cross the amphitheare and reach the base of the stairs up to the cave entrance. The lower areas of the amphitheare are not draining fast enough and you splash through knee deep water.
At the base of the stairs you study the climb. The rain and wind will make the climb more difficult, dangerous even.
Cirdan Saralonde, I took an assumption that you are having the servant follow you. So, unless you commanded otherwise, I have it following near you.
Cirdan Saralonde pulls out a length of rope, "Everyone tie off in case one of us falls." Southar ties the rope to his belt and the rest of you feed it through your own belts. Grimlock is the last one in line and ties the rope off to his belt.
You begin the slow climb up the switchback staircase. The wind and rain make the narrow stairs truly difficult to navigate.
You take your time and move slowly. Although there are a few slips and nerves are on edge, you make it most of the way up. Nearing the 2/3 point, dark shapes come to the edge of the ledge above you. It is the small "monkey men" but they appear to have lost their helpfulness.
Each of the four peers down upon you and flings a small javelin at your group. The attack causes a chain reaction.
As the javelins begin to strike your ranks, Ide Otneaux loses her balance and falls over the edge (2, 17/35). Cirdan Saralonde is ahead of her in the line. The elf maintains his balance, and again showing his strength, is able to hold his position and stop Ide Otneaux from pulling any others down with her. Tarstar, just to the rear of Ide Otneaux also keeps his balance., showing the balance of a sailor. He is forced to step forward but maintains his feet.
The first two javelins drop down upon Grimlock. He has his crossbow out so does not have the protection of his shield. The first javelin he sidesteps but the second strikes the shoulder plate of his armor. It does not pierce the armor.
The third javelin finds its mark as it gashes Cirdan Saralonde across the upper right arm (3, 20/23). The forth javelin bounces off Cirdan Saralonde leaving him unharmed by it.
The little buggers retreat out of sight. You get the feeling they may return.
You are about 20 feet down from the top of the ledge. You must still traverse the stairs or climb the cliff to go up. You can either retreat down the stairs, climb down the wall or fall/jump to retreat.
Cirdan Saralonde gives a command to thin air, “Up servant! Distract them! Push, pull, whatever you can do!”
All others appear to be in agreement.
Tarstar and Cirdan Saralonde help Ide Otneaux back onto the stairs. She gets back up without further injury. You can see she scraped herself in the fall but nothing serious. Getting the half-orc back onto the stairs delays the movement of the party and you are still roped together so no one can move up or down.
Breymeer stows his bow as Grimlock does with his crossbow. Grimlock pulls his shield and uses it for limited cover.
Southar has a shield in the front. Tanin has one as does Grimlock. That gives the group a shield in the front, center and rear (more or less).
A second volley of javelins comes down from the ledge. Southar takes the brunt of it. One sails past his head, a second is blocked by his shield, cutting the blanket cover a bit and a third hits him in the chest but is deflected by his armor.
The fourth javelin hits Ide Otneaux in the chest as she was just beginning to stand and regain her feet. It is stopped by her armor but she loses her footing and plunges back off the edge of the steps (2, 15/35). She is stopped by the ropes and hangs tightly to the edge.
The little bastard green men disappear from view again. You anticipate another volley.
Cirdan Saralonde and Tarstar again help the half orc back onto the stairwell. She is looking very ashamed and grateful.
Cirdan Saralonde yells out two commands, “Untie yourselves from the rope and hold on tightly, that way when we reach the top, you will be able to fight freely. Everyone else be ready to unthread the rope!” To Southar, Cirdan yells, “Show them your shield!” To the little opponents Cirdan Saralonde commands, “Merrshaulk will have you as sacrifices if you do not stop!”
Breymeer, seeing Ide Otneaux pulled to safety, cuts the rope freeing himself from the group. He begins his ascent ahead of the group. The group prepares to continue its climb.
Southar, now free of the rope due to Breymeer’s actions, moves ahead of the group using his shield for cover. For a human, he shows amazing dexterity and balance.
Tanin, seeing the rope cut, grabs the loose end and ties it tight around his waist, “You can count on the sure footedness of a dwarf walking on stone!”
Grom also leaves the rope through his belt.
Cirdan Saralonde cuts himself free of the rope and continues the climb.
Ide Otneaux ties the rope to her belt, “I do not like my chances without it at this rate. I need to get to the top before I can fight.”
Zura took the chance to get free of the rope.
Tarstar and Grimlock remain tied with Ide Otneaux.
The group begins to inch its way forward a foot at a time.
The wind and water make visibility very difficult. As you climb up, the wash of water over the edge of the ledge becomes a constant stream cascading down upon you like a miniature waterfall. Each step is made with care as the wind threatens to blow you off balance and down to the stone floor of the amphitheatre below.
Breymeer nears the top and the group is only about 10 feet behind him when the next wave of danger strikes. This time, instead of javelins, the little buggers begin to roll boulders over the edge. The boulders are between 8 inches and one foot in diameter.
Southar’s shield saves him from a crushed head as the first boulder deflects off of it and to the stone floor below.
The second boulder is bearing down on Cirdan Saralonde when Ide Otneaux pushes him ahead. The elf kneels, dropping Hairycheeks onto the stairwell, and grabs onto the stairs. He keeps himself from falling over. The boulder hits Ide Otneaux on the upper back and drives her down as it glances off (2, 13/35). She is able to keep herself upright and on the stairway.
The third boulder bounces harmlessly off Tanin’s shield.
Tarstar is able to dance to the side of the fourth boulder as it bounces off the stairwell, down past Grimlock and out into the night. Somehow, one of the little green fellas lost his balance and is now struggling to pull himself back up onto the ledge. He is partially hanging off of it. His cohort is pulling on his arms trying to help.
With the new attack, the sure-footed dwarf, Grom, looks up and misses a step. He plunges over the edge. He grabs for the rope but he is unable to hold tight enough. He falls down to upon the next level of the switchback and bounces off of it into freefall repeating the process on the next switchback down. He lands on the stone floor below with a dull thud (16, 10/26).
Breymeer doesn’t see the dwarf go over behind him, in a series of quick strides, Breymeer nimbly leaps his way up the remaining few stairs. He reaches the top as the Grom is disappearing into the darkness. The group is almost to the top. Southar remains 5 feet down the stairs while Grimlock, at the far end, is nearing 20 feet yet from the ledge.
You see the monkey man helping his friend onto the ledge flee and leave his friend hanging.
Breymeer, you currently have no weapons in hand. The little green monkey men flee from the ledge to the cave opening. The one helping his friend up abandons him and runs for the opening. The last one, still struggling to get back upon the ledge, remains. The ledge is only about 10 feet wide and 15 feet deep.
Grimlock cuts his rope and retreats down the stairs, “I am going after Grom to see if he is still alive!” This leaves Tarstar and Ide Otneaux roped together with only Ide Otneaux’s side knotted to her and the rope loose after going through Tarstar’s belt.
Breymeer works his way across the ledge making sure the little buggers are fleeing into the cave hole. They appear to be running away. Breymeer grabs onto the one trying to pull itself up onto the ledge and picks it up, holding it precariously close to the edge of the ledge.
The group continues up. Southar makes it to the ledge and gets sure footing again. Next comes Tanin. Tanin removes his crossbow and keeps a visual on his fellow dwarf at the bottom of the stairs.
Cirdan Saralonde makes it to within a few feet of the ledge. His movement is slowed by the halfling’s weight; it makes him very top heavy.
Ide Otneaux, looking a bit nervous, moves slowly and is only about half the way up the final switchback. Tarstar, displaying more confidence in his balance than the half-orc, dances a little ditty behind Ide Otneaux as he climbs.
Grimlock reaches Grom as Grom rises to his feet, “By Dugmaren Brightmantle’s grace, I have survived the fall. I feel like I have been tossed about by charging horde of gnolls but nothing feels broken. I believe I shall survive. Dugmaren Brightmantle has smiled upon me this day.”
Grimlock is surprised but very pleased to see the dwarf alive.
Upon top the ledge, Tanin lets out a sigh of relieve, “We dwarves were forged on anvils and have the strength of steel and mithril in our bones. As you can surely see!”
Southar moves past Breymeer to assist with the defense of the ledge.
Zura stays on the stairs near the ledge. Cirdan Saralonde moves past him and steps upon the ledge.
Breymeer threatens his prisoner, “You coming with us and you either keep you clan from attacking or I break your neck and then kill your people. We get through unharmed and I set you free.”
Ide Otneaux continues to slowly climb the stairs. Tarstar wiggles his way up behind her.
From within the cave, you can hear some muffled commands too windblown to understand. You also hear the distinct sound of metal scraping on metal and stone.
Southar looks to the group for opinions, “What does everyone think of me taking the covering off the shield and bluffing or scaring our way through?”
Cirdan Saralonde answers, “Yes, you should!” and then continues, “My elf ears tell me they may have just released the lizards we slipped past on our way here.” The elf finishes his conversation as he sets Hairycheeks body down upon the ledge against the cliff face on the right side of the opening. Then he makes some simple gestures in front of himself and he mutters the word “shield”. Due to the effects of the potion, you hear his words in your native tongue.
Tanin looks to Breymeer, “Breymeer, brave northman, I know that little bugger can hear you for when you speak, I hear it in the dwarven tongue. Just like Cirdan. Ask him if they just released the lizards!”
As if on cue, the little green critter answers Breymeer. He appears to say several things to Breymeer.
Zura remains on the stairs. He looks very worried and mutters something to the group. Even those unable to understand him can tell it is some type of warning from his expressions.
Ide Otneaux stops on the stairs next to the Olman man. The ledge is plenty crowded and she does not appear comfortable enough to try and pass Zura by on the narrow stairs.
Tarstar stops dancing for the time being and begins to give the situation a tactical study.
Meanwhile, down at the base of the stairs, Grimlock and Grom begin the careful climb back up. Grom is obviously moving slowly but appears not much worse for wear.
From within the cave, the grinding metal on stone and metal sounds cease. A strange quiet follows.
The storm continues to increase in intensity. The rain comes down in torrents and the wind is blowing branches off the trees and small objects are being moved about. Even those with poor wisdom are starting to get the feeling that travel will become impossible if this continues.
Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde, you hear Zura mutter, “You have angered the yuan-ti god. You have stirred the evil of this city.”
Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde, you hear the Tasloi say, ““Tasloi think you killed masters. You freed man called Zura. Masters not want to let him go. Now, Tasloi make this home. You must keep out. Tasloi fight to keep it. Turn back now!”
Southar looks to the group for opinions, “What does everyone think of me taking the covering off the shield and bluffing or scaring our way through?”
Cirdan Saralonde answers, “Yes, you should!” and then continues, “My elf ears tell me they may have just released the lizards we slipped past on our way here.” The elf finishes his conversation as he sets Hairycheeks body down upon the ledge against the cliff face on the right side of the opening. Then he makes some simple gestures in front of himself and he mutters the word “shield”. Due to the effects of the potion, you hear his words in your native tongue. <Cirdan cast Shield upon himself>
Tanin looks to Breymeer, “Breymeer, brave northman, I know that little bugger can hear you for when you speak, I hear it in the dwarven tongue. Just like Cirdan. Ask him if they just released the lizards!”
As if on cue, the little green critter answers Breymeer. He appears to say several things to Breymeer.
Zura remains on the stairs. He looks very worried and mutters something to the group. Even those unable to understand him can tell it is some type of warning from his expressions.
Ide Otneaux stops on the stairs next to the Olman man. The ledge is plenty crowded and she does not appear comfortable enough to try and pass Zura by on the narrow stairs.
Tarstar stops dancing for the time being and begins to give the situation a tactical study.
Meanwhile, down at the base of the stairs, Grimlock and Grom begin the careful climb back up. Grom is obviously moving slowly but appears not much worse for wear.
From within the cave, the grinding metal on stone and metal sounds cease. A strange quiet follows.
The storm continues to increase in intensity. The rain comes down in torrents and the wind is blowing branches off the trees and small objects are being moved about. Even those with poor wisdom are starting to get the feeling that travel will become impossible if this continues.
Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde, you hear Zura mutter, “You have angered the yuan-ti god. You have stirred the evil of this city.”
Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde, you hear the Tasloi say, ““Tasloi think you killed masters. You freed man called Zura. Masters not want to let him go. Now, Tasloi make this home. You must keep out. Tasloi fight to keep it. Turn back now!”
On the narrow sloping stairs below, Grimlock pauses. He shouts something up to the group that is lost in the wind. He huddles up against the wall for a moment. He appears to be messing with his equipment. In the end, he comes out with his crossbow loaded and ready for a fight. He braces against the wind and continues the death daring climb. <Grimlock had cast Armor on himself>
Ahead of him, Grom stumbles along, stern faced even for a dwarf. He says many prayers to Brightmantle given that he has lived to grumble about the weather.
Upon the ledge, Cirdan Saralonde makes a command, “Servant, find me a javelin in the cave and disrupt the tasloi by pushing, tripping, and slapping them.”
Breymeer translates the captive’s words for those on the ledge, “They think we killed their ‘masters’. They have made the cave their home and will fight us to keep it. He tells us to turn back.” Breymeer secures his grip on the captive pinning him to the ground and says, “We should get away from this ledge and find a better spot to hold off any possible attacks until the rest of our group rejoins us.”
As Breymeer speaks, Cirdan Saralonde bends down and looks the tasloi in the eye, he speaks sternly to him, the venom in his voice unmistakable, "You are right, we have killed the snake-people. In the day light you can find and burn their bodies in the temple. They no longer enslave you and you can have this place as your home. We do not want it. But we can be your friends or your enemies. We are going this way (I will gesture to the tunnel). You can tell your people to let us pass, and you will all live, or you can try and stop us and then we will kill every one of you that gets in our way. It is your choice. We were able to able to kill the snake-people, so you know we are powerful. Peace or violence...what is your choice?"
Breymeer asks the tasloi, “Did they release the lizards?”
As usual, the effects of the potion causes you to hear Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde in your native languages.
Southar unties the blanket from his shield exposing the golden cobra design. “Throw me those rope chunks,” requests Breymeer, “I would like to tie this bugger up.”
The tasloi looks wide-eyed at the golden shield. The tasloi looks back at Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde. He says something to them again consisting of what you believe to be several sentences. You are no expert on tasloi, but you would be willing to bet he thinks he is about to die.
As Southar removes the rope, Tanin gathers them up and hands them to Breymeer. Between Tanin and Breymeer taking turns tying and holding, they get the captive hog-tied.
With a twist of fate or coincidence, the removal of the blanket from the shield occurs at nearly the same time as a sudden gust of wind from the storm buffets the cliff face. The sudden whipping of the wind throws Zura off balance and he falls off the edge. At the last moment, he reaches out catches himself. He hangs over the edge with very little strength left in his body.
Ide Otneaux, forgetting her close brushes with death, rushes over to help Zura back onto the stairs. Tarstar stands behind her.
From within the cave, nothing can be heard or seen. The quiet from the cave is as unnerving as the storm outside.
Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde, you hear the tasloi say, “They have released the lizards. Other ways out of city. I guide you. Tasloi not trust. They fight. No more slave. I lead you out, you let me live?”
Breymeer translates the tasloi’s statement, “The lizards have been released. It says there are other ways out of the city and he will guide us. They do not trust us. They will fight us. They do not wish to be slaves any longer. He is offering to lead us.”
Cirdan Saralonde concurs with the statement’s translation. Cirdan then tells it, “We did not attack you on our way here, we killed your captors and set you free, your people have every reason to trust us. All we want in return is safe passage to the caves and the boats. You will explain this to them! Can you stop the lizards? Will they attack us or just leave?” Cirdan keeps eyeing the tunnel for signs of the cave lizards.
Cirdan says to Breymeer, “Help me tie him so he can stand. We need to keep control of him but make it so he can walk.”
Breymeer complies with the retying of the knots. The tasloi now looks like a prisoner being brought into court.
Breymeer cautions the group, “Trusting my captive’s advice probably is not wise. I threatened his life to get it out of him. So, what are your opinions?”
The talsoi says something further to Breymeer.
Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde, the tasloi says, “Lizards eat tasloi. Me no go in cave now. Me lead out of city. Different way. You go in cave, tasloi cut bridge. You no go anyway.”
Breymeer again translates, “He said the lizards eat them. He refuses to go into cave. He is still offering to lead us out of the city a different way. If we go into the cave, they will cut the rope bridge and we will not get through anyway.” Breymeer pauses for a moment and then continues, “I change my mind, I think it is an okay idea to trust our captive.”
Grimlock tries to speak to the group from below but the wind carries it away.
Southar can be heard on the ledge, “I vote we go through the way we already know. If we get a fight, then we do more killing!”
Cirdan Saralonde, who has been watching the opening carefully since retying the captive, reports, “I smell smoke coming from the cave.”
Apparently the tasloi smells it too. He panics and bolts for the stairs off the landing. His feet are tied together with a short rope, his hands are tied together and a short rope leads from his hands to Cirdan Saralonde currently. He is on a short leash.
Tanin readies his crossbow and trains it on the dark opening of the tunnel.
Ide Otneaux is braving the last small switchback as the Olman man holds his ground. Tarstar is also holding his ground examining the situation.
Grimlock follows Grom up the narrow stairs at the slow, careful pace of the dwarf.
The tasloi bolts for the stairs but the strength of Cirdan Saralonde is too much. Cirdan Saralonde retains his grip on the rope. The tasloi hits the end of the rope and is yanked backward like a dog on a chain. He twists as the rope goes taut and retains his footing. He is a dexterous little bugger. The anger on his face needs no translation.
Cirdan Saralonde tries to calm the creature, “Why are you fighting to get away? Can’t you see I am your friends and trying to help you?” <Cirdan Saralonde casts charm person on the tasloi and it fails saving throw>
The tasloi says something in return to Cirdan Saralonde.
Southar and Breymeer hold their positions. Breymeer seems intent on the tasloi’s words while Southar appears to react to something he sees in the cave. Before he can say or do anything, Tanin’s voice rises above the wind.
Tanin, looking nervously at the hole, says, “I see lights!”
The Olman man tries to go back down the stairs but is held up as Grimlock and Grom reach the final switchback. Also in the congestion at the switchback is Tarstar.
Ide Otneaux pauses just short of the landing as there is no more room for her.
Cirdan Saralonde and Breymeer, you hear the tasloi say to Cirdan Saralonde, “You must follow me quickly. They will use fire to anger the lizards and drive them out.”
Cirdan Saralonde squats down to the level of the tasloi and unties him saying in a loud voice, as if he wants everyone to hear, "Lead the way my little green friend, but not so fast that we cannot keep up. Stay with me."
Cirdan Saralonde then shouts to the group, "Come on everyone, follow me!" He picks up Hairycheeks, "Lead the way out!" The little green creature begins to move towards the stairs, unbound, towards Ide Otneaux. His demeanor has softened and he appears to be happy to help.
Tanin holds his ground and keeps his crossbow trained on the opening, "Something is coming down the hall, hurry, hurry, hurry!"
Grimlock has ascended high enough to hear the others; and be heard. He agrees with the plan, "Regroup at the bottom!" He turns and is now in the lead of the column in decent of the stairs.
Breymeer reacts quickly and follows Cirdan Saralonde and the tasloi off the ledge and onto the stairs. He prepares his bow for danger. He keeps and arrow taut with one hand by keeping some pressure between the arrow and string. He holds the arrow in position against the frame of the bow. This keeps the other hand free for balance on the stairs.
Ide Otneaux turns and heads back down the stairs, "I will be happy to be rid of these stairs."
Southar holds his position, appearing to cover the withdrawal. There is no room on the stairs for either him or Tanin yet.
The Olman man appears to have understood enough to follow the group. Tarstar follows Grimlock just ahead of the Olman man.
The storm continues to increase in strength. The wind continues to gain velocity. It buffets the cliff face. The rain and water continues to pour on you. The decent will be tricky at best.
To make matters worse, the true purpose of the lights in the tunnel are confirmed. The tasloi have started a fire in the cave and are driving the lizards forward with torches and javelins. Both giant lizards scramble in your direction away from the fire. One walks upon the floor and the other is slightly behind it scrambling across the ceiling of the tunnel.
The first lizards bursts forth from the tunnel and out onto the landing . . . Tanin and Southar shout warnings.
The gigantic lizard storms out of the cave moving very quickly forward.
Breymeer holds his ground at the very edge of the ledge by the stairs, leaving open a path for his comrades to escape past him. Breymeer boldly tries to calm the animal. The lizards ignores Breymeer’s presence and charges out onto the ledge.
Southar, guarding the cave opening, is the first in its path. Southar slashes at it with his long sword. The blade cuts the tough hide, but not deeply.
Southar pulls his golden shield up just as the lizard runs him down.
Southar is slammed to the floor of the stone ledge and the 30 foot lizard storms over the top of him (8, 19/41).
Tanin is the next in line. Tanin forgoes firing his crossbow and dives past Breymeer for the stairway. He is able to avoid being overrun by the beast and slides feet first onto the stairs. With some type of dwarven magnetism, he stops his slide on the stairs, unhurt.
Breymeer avoids the main charge of the lizard. As the lizard goes by him, Breymeer leaps over Tanin’s back. Breymeer lands upon the stairs past Tanin as the lizard’s tail swishes harmlessly by over their heads.
The lizards crawls over the ledge and straight down the cliff face. It sticks to the wall like a fly. Once vertical, it slows its pace greatly and appears to be more cautious about its steps, likely due to the amount of rain and water coming off the rocks.
The second lizard is on the heels of the first. It twists down upon the ledge and over the sprawling Southar. Southar rolls to the side, remains at the edge of the ledge and protects himself with the shield. He is able to deflect off the second creature.
The second lizards crawls over the edge after the first. It missteps and loses its footing. It slips and scrambles to hold the wall but finally slips and drops onto the stairwell where Grimlock, Grom, Tarstar and Zura are moving past. All are able to avoid the falling lizard except Zura (9, -8/20). He is buried under the mass of the lizard and it crashes to the stairs and continues to fall down to the stone amphitheatre floor below. The lizard drags Zura’s body over the edge with its momentum. Zura’s body hits the stone floor with a dull thud (20, -28/20). Zura’s body does not withstand the fall and comes apart on impact. The lizard lands on its feet. It is stunned for the moment.
Cirdan Saralonde and his new green colored friend, safe on the stairwell, continue their decent behind Ide Otneaux. They make the first turn as the lizards go down the cliff face.
Southar moves to the edge of the ledge and shouts down to anyone who can yet hear him, “Let’s head back into the cave and find our original entrance!”
Southar’s voice stops Ide Otneaux, Cirdan Saralonde and his green companion. They wait to see what the others will do next.
Tanin holds his ground next to Breymeer, “Nice leap there Breymeer. You are nimble-footed for a human. Let me assist you with covering Southar. He is dead set on entering that cave. Might be some dwarven logic in him yet.” Tanin keeps his crossbow aimed at the cave.
Breymeer says, “The lizards are not attacking! They are only trying to flee!” Breymeer keeps his bow trained on the cave entrance.
Grimlock stops and puts his back against the wall. He is too far away to hear Southar or Breymeer. He looks down at the Olman’s shattered body as the second lizard recovers from its fall and gobbles down the remains of Zura. Grimlock looks unnerved saying, “We are now reserved to death by bunga!”
Tarstar moves to attack the lizard still climbing down the cliff wall with his cutlass but it is gone before he can reach it. The lizard reaches the bottom of the cliff and joins the second lizard. They both begin to move out across the amphitheatre into the darkness.
Grom stands between Grimlock and Tarstar awaiting the next move.
Southar watches the group for a reaction. Breymeer responds quickly, “Agreed. Let’s get the group together and get going.” Breymeer and Southar wave to the group to return to the ledge.
Tarstar gives a little wiggle, being mindful of the terrain, and heads back up the stairs. Grom moves along with him.
Cirdan bends low and speaks to his green companion who nods to him in return. They begin the ascent back up the stairs. Ide Otneaux follows them.
Tanin just shrugs and moves onto the ledge to help cover the cave opening.
Grimlock, appearing to have lost all patience, grumbles, “Son of an ogre’s mother! We just lost our main purpose for this **** backwards journey!!!!!” The wind covers some of his rant but it is obvious he hasn’t stopped for breath, “. . . What the . . . hell are you . . . doing up there . . . You are dumber than an ogre’s arse as you have no idea what we just LOST!!!!! Come on, man!!!!!” He flips the bird to the rain and wind and starts back up the staircase yet again.
The group gathers in the entrance to the cave. Everyone makes it up safely. The lizards have disappeared into the night. There are no signs of light from deeper within the tunnels. The wind still buffets in and out but to a lesser degree. The rain blows in but for the most part, you are out of the elements.
Cirdan outlines his plan as he removes his weapons and places them against the wall in tunnel near the entrance, “I will go with my new ‘friend’, the tasloi, and explain to the others we mean no ill. I will try and negotiate safe passage through. If they attack me, I will retreat back and report.”
The tasloi appears to look upon Cirdan with trust.
Tarstar blurps, “Sure, why not,” in response to Cirdan Saralonde’s plan.
Southar agrees, “Sounds good to me.” He sheaths his sword and begins to re-secure the cover onto his golden shield.
Grimlock is the first to oppose, “Hello! McFly! Why are we leaving? Do we have the Olman man? NOOOOOO! It is time for objective two. We need to bring back the chests! I sure as hell don’t want to show up empty handed and a gold shield just doesn’t cut it!”
Grom, as is his style, quietly listens to the group but keeps his thoughts to himself.
Tanin speaks, “If Cirdan Saralonde can win us passage through the tunnels, let us explore that option. But I, for one, would like to bar the doors in the bugbears guard room and rest. This storm is affright now, let alone out in the wild jungle. I say we wait it out in the strong security of stone walls.”
Ide Otneaux gives a second, “I do not so much care where, but shelter and security are a must for now. I agree with the dwarf.”
Breymeer keeps his bow at the ready and says to Cirdan Saralonde, “I will cover you as best I can should your retreat become necessary.” Breymeer appears to have developed a trust for the elf’s decisions and abilities; a trust that is not easily won from the northern barbarians from across the sea.
Cirdan Saralonde looks to Grimlock, “It appears you are the only in disagreement. I shall try my plan. Should it fail, come up with another.”
With that, Cirdan and his green companion walk deeper into the dark tunnel.
Both Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde are heard in each of your native languages yet. It appears the elixir is still working for each of them.
Cirdan Saralonde – You make your way into the tunnel next to the tasloi. It follows along next to you like a good hunting dog. The farther into the tunnel you go, the less the lightning effects your dark vision. Soon, you can see well enough. Also, the smell of smoke is obvious here. The tunnel goes in about 100 feet before reaching the open chasm. From about 50 feet away, you can begin to make finer details. The gate to the lizard’s chamber (south side) has been raised. The gate to the stairs up (north side) has been lowered. The tunnel passage is clear out onto the rope bridge. No tasloi or lizard are to be seen. It is quiet. Smoke wafts in the air, beaten about slightly by the varying air pressure from the store outside. What are your actions?
[/b]<At this point, the party took several weeks of real time to figure out between them how they were going to go about getting past the tasloi. They really wanted to get back to the bugbear guardrooms and barricade themselves in for rest and recovery but most didn't want to try and fight their way through.
Cirdan Saralonde came up with a plan to negotiate and went forward with his charmed tasloi. Grimlock went sneaking up the stairs to investigate the ledge on the east side of the bridge. Grimlock discovered a trip wire to a net trap about 2/3 the way up. He avoided it but failed to see the second trip line and was caught by the net after all. The tasloi from above came down to take him prisoner but he was able to cut himself free enough to cast a sleep spell on them. From there he retreated back down the stairs as Cirdan Saralonde had won them passage across the bridge.
The tasloi escorted them through their new stronghold to the bugbear guardrooms. Here, the story picks up again as Horan returns>[/b]
The group votes to stop and rest. Breymeer wanted to push on but after analyzing the group’s condition, he agreed that rest was in order. Ide Otneaux and Southar suffer from numerous injuries. Grom fell from the cliff and will likely stiffen up once the adrenaline push ends. Tanin and Grimlock also show a little sign of wear. Despite it all, no one in the group has a nasty wound.
Grimlock quickly formulated a plan while Cirdan Saralonde addressed the group, “The voice that I negotiated with did not speak as the Tasloi do. It was more fluid and sounded more intelligent. It said we could barter passage back this way if we desired. Does anyone have any questions for this little guy before I release him back to his tribe?"
Grimlock announces his plan, “The closer to the water we camp, the better. The path to the locked door should be barred if possible or blocked with debris. The path to the water should also be set up in a fashion where we can see it clearly behind overturned bugbear table/bunks but the barricades offer concealment and hard cover from the water area.
We should also check for canoes to make sure we have enough to transport all of us back to entrance. If not we need to go get enough (actually all so we know no one will come across while we are sleeping). Then haul all the canoes and use then as barricades and concealment. I am planning on sleeping under one when not on guard duty.
The object here is to only have to worry about one direction, the water. I don't want to be between the locked door and another room because if the stack up on each side we have no escape path. We will hear ‘em coming if they attempt to smash through on locked side. We can pick ‘em off or drive ‘em into the water if they come at us from that direction. Plus they can BURN us out if we are not next to water and they trap is in between.
I know nothing will continue charging us after a volley of numerous crossbow bolts and arrows focused in a narrow section of tunnel or landing area.”
Tarstar quickly volunteers his services as one of the guards. Breymeer and Southar each offer first watch.
Tanin and Ide Otneaux both offer last watch to try and get some rest.
Grom, surprisingly, speaks, “I would like time to rest and meditate. Brightmantle has spared my life tonight. I want to have some time alone to thank him. I will help set the barricades first.”
At Grimlock’s suggestion, you move into the two bugbear guardrooms (rooms 5 and 4 on the map). There are several tables still there. You use them to barricade the door to the eastern hallway on room 5 and place a barricade on the western side of the door for room 4. The door between room 4 and 5 you prop open for now so you can camp in both rooms.
You find the bugbear bodies missing. You locate them down by the water in the flooded cavern when you go to retrieve the canoes. You are not happy to find all of the canoes have been burned on the shoreline. Breymeer and Southar locate many fresh tasloi tracks in the area.
You make do with what you have. A barricade and guardpost just west of the door to room 4. The door in room 5 to the eastern passage is barricaded shut.
Breymeer takes first watch on the waterfront post and Southar, since he is more wounded, takes up a position by the eastern door of room 5. They are relying mainly on their sense of hearing as the lighting is very low here. The rest of you fan out in rooms 4 and 5 for rest. There are several straw pallets for sleeping and you quickly make use of them. Before Southar’s torch completely burns out, you light small fires with what remains of the canoes and tables. You keep only a small fire, just enough for light in the room as you do not need the heat.
As you prepare for sleep, you note that the non-stop wetness has not been kind to your armor and weapons. The leather of your armor is softening and the metal of the armor and weapons has begun to rust. Nothing structurally important yet but noteworthy none the less.
It takes you about a half an hour to set your camp.
Cirdan Saralonde returns Tarstar one of his bags of silver. The other was given to the tasloi for passage as agreed upon in addition to Breymeer’s coins.
With the defense of the rooms arranged, Breymeer and Southar take up their posts.
Grimlock settles for the smaller room with a cautious eye towards the water.
Ide Otneaux puts her back up against the wall just into the larger room (#5) near the door between the rooms. She has removed her armor and dried it and her axe as best as possible. She uses her backpack as a pad behind her back.
Tanin and Grom camp near Southar and the door he guards.
Tarstar pulls his cutlass out and camps in the small room.
Cirdan Saralonde joins those in the larger room finding a straw mat for himself.
With the north door shut, the airflow from the storm through here is stifled. The room smells of bugbears and soot but it is dry enough. You find a small fire in the smaller room is enough to light up both rooms enough to see. It also gives Breymeer a fair look down the hall toward the edge of the water. It isn’t great visibility but it will do. It is, however, enough light to hamper the dark vision of the demi-humans.
You have not been asleep long. The guards have only passed about half of their two hour shift when someone says something from within the rooms and without warning your small campfire brightens immensely. Breymeer can now see well out into the tunnels as if it were noon day sun. There is not increased heat from the fire, just increased brightness. Both Breymeer and Southar go to full alert but before they can shout a warning, the voice continues.
“My dear friends,” sounds a loud voice as if it were meant to wake all of you. The voice comes from the area of the doorway between the two camp rooms.
Everyone bolts awake. Ide Otneaux jumps to her feet gripping her axe. Tanin grasps his crossbow while Grom holds his book shaped holy symbol. Breymeer spins on his heel with his bow ready and Southar prepares for combat. Tarstar and Grimlock both spin out of their beds.
“Pardon me for having awaken you. You do look like you need your rest,” continues the voice. You have all now placed it as that of Horan, the man who sent you on the mission from the Suel camp.
You are unable to see Horan but the voice is clear, “I am curious, where is the Olman man? Were you able to locate him? Please, take your time to clear your heads. I would like to hear of your evenings events.”
Breymeer looks towards Cirdan Saralonde to speak but instead Cirdan Saralonde rolls back onto his straw mat and attempts to return to sleep.
Southar begins speaking bow in hand, “Horan, how did you arrive here?” Southar then begins to give a detailing of the nights events until he is cut off sharply by Grimlock, “Your voice that sounds like that of Horan but I have no way of knowing whom you really are by this magic. I mean no disrespect but we would need to consult with our master, Ledego. If you can have him speak with us, we will inform him of the information you seek.”
Horan appears out of thin air in the threshold between the two rooms. He spins his red silk robe in dramatic fashion brining the smell of incense to the room. The white gold skull buttons shining in the bright campfire light. The air near him seems to shiver slightly for a moment similar to heat off of hot sand. A smile on his face drops to a stern look. His powerful eyes scan the group, “Grimlock, you are wise enough to question. So, now, see that it is I, Horan, savior of your band of misfit free-slaves. I do not see the Olman man. I too am wise. It is not too much to imagine he has been lost.”
Some of your expressions reveal the truth and Horan continues, “His death is very unfortunate for me. I would have preferred he lived. But, very well. This storm has brought us some good luck. Let me lay out before you the choices you now have. First off, I promised you a magical boat if you embarked on my quest. You have completed my request and I am a man of my word. The boat is yours. As soon as you get back to the basecamp, you may leave. As for Ledego, he gains in strength as we speak. He shall be ready to travel on upon your arrival. I, unfortunately, can no longer offer the services of Neras. I have not heard from him since the storm began. In the event that you find him, he will lead you to the basecamp.”
The thought of walking a week or so through the jungle without Neras is not appealing to anyone. Neras was going to wait for you at the rendezvous but this storm may have altered that plan. Neras location is not guaranteed anymore. You travel to basecamp without Neras would be a significant gamble.
After letting the severity of the travel set in, Horan continues, “I am willing to negotiate a new contract with you. I have the ability to transport you back to the basecamp with the snap of my fingers. However, I have a small task for you to complete first. You may choose either of two tasks. First, you did not defeat all of the yuan-ti within the city. There are a few bands that wander in and out of the city. You defeated the leadership but another powerful group remains. They guard a warehouse of goods the yuan-ti have stolen or taken as plunder in their slave-taking operations. The tasloi encampment that you just passed through will likely sell every detail about you to the remaining yuan-ti. The yuan-ti will likely believe you were allied with the Olman clans and increase their warring and slave-taking raids against the Olman clans in retribution. At the loss of the chief’s son, I do not think I will be able to convince the Olman clans I offer them aid and will therefore be powerless to aid them. If you are willing to raid the warehouse and eliminate the threat to the Olman clans, I will transport you home. You may keep whatever treasure the yuan-ti have plundered there with the exception of any Olman items. I wish to use the recovered Olman treasures as a peace offering to their chief and report to him the loss of his favored son. Just keep in mind, I have a limit of what I can transport.”
Horan pauses for a moment to let you consider his offer. He absent mindedly combs his hands through his shoulder length hair. He pulls the hair back from his face by moving his hand from his brow back across the top of his head. He lets the hair fall back upon his shoulders.
“The second task is a bit more complicated,” he finally continues, “Gouthogg has been making moves to increase his influence in the city. The lust for power in a dragon bests that of man. I fear that my exploration of this city will be greatly hampered by the presence of this menace. I know you have no love of Gouthogg and likely a healthy dose of respect. But let me share this with you. Agents within the city reported to me tonight that Gouthogg was last seen flying away from the city prior to the storm. He did not return. Ledego greatly wishes for his stolen chests back. This I know. I can assist you into Gouthogg’s empty lair for you to get Ledego’s items. All I ask is that you retrieve one very specific item for me that will assist me in future negotiations with Gouthogg. You only need flee the lair before the breaking of the storm.”
Horan again pauses. He looks long at each of you. Horan’s air of greatness still surrounds him but his eyes, while still piercing, show hints of stress. It appears your next decision may also effect his future choices.
“So, my honorable band of free-slaves. How do you wish to proceed? You may break company with me now and walk back to camp or go wherever it is you wish for that matter. I only need to return to let Ledego know he and his crew are free to leave upon your return, assuming he wishes to wait for you. Or, do you wish one more task, be it the yuan-ti warehouse or the dragon’s lair?”
Grimlock is the first to answer as if he longed for this chance, “I choose to give Gouthogg a visit like he gave us. That flying lizard has what’s coming to him. I will steal his treasure myself if I can get in there but I do have a private request of you honorable Horath.”
Cirdan Saralonde rolls over, stands and address Horan with a respectable bow, "Horan, we are sorry we could not save the Olman man and help you in your goals. The Tasloi spoke of Gouthogg, but also of a powerful wizard that works within the city. Were they speaking of you, or do we have another foe in our path if we continue choose to continue in your service?”
Cirdan Saralonde steps closer to hear Horan’s answer. While doing so, a breeze picks up and blows past. Cirdan Saralonde’s hair is picked up off his shoulders and his clothing rustles a bit. The breeze seems to encapsulate Cirdan Saralonde only. As it starts, Horan raises his hand up slightly about shoulder height and says, “Enough.” The breeze vanishes instantly.
Horan pauses to refocus the group, “I am the wizard the tasloi speak of. There are none other in the city that can content with me.”
Cirdan Saralonde stands his ground, speaking in the polished tone of a noble he continues, “Horan, when we last met I asked you if you could supply me with a spell book, as mine was taken when the slavers caught me. While I can feel in my very essence that my skills and ability to use and control magical forces have improved, I have no ability to study and meditate without a book. I can also feel that my ability to use magical forces is greatly diminished because of this and if we continue on your quest I will be of no use to the company other than my two daggers. I, for one, am willing to continue on this quest of yours, but wish to speak with Ledego and his daughter and seek their counsel as well. If you are willing, would you transport us back to camp so we can rest, heal, study and meditate. Then at the next opportune time, return us to the city fully armed and prepared to carry out your charge, and Ledago's. I speak only for myself, however."
Horan patiently listens to Cirdan Saralonde. Seeming to stall in order to further contemplate Cirdan’s statement, Horan addresses the others, “As for the rest of you, how do you say?”
“I am all for the dragon’s lair,” sounds Southar’s voice.
Tarstar stays neutral, “I will go with the group.”
Tanin looks to Grom. Grom remains quiet thumbing his holy symbol. Tanin looks to Ide Otneaux who says, “I would rather risk a fight in the city than get lost and die in the jungle. I will go with the group to either battle.”
Tanin just nods in agreement.
Breymeer boldly speaks next, “The yuan-ti warehouse to kill more slavers sounds great to Breymeer. I would, however, like to ask if you would have the ability to provide us with a couple days of safety for healing and repairing and possibly restore our food and water and any other items that may assist us should we find ourselves in dire injury or need.”
Horan makes the announcement, “It’s to the dragon’s lair then!” Seeing Breymeer’s disappointment with not going after the slave takers, Horan makes him an offer, “Brave Breymeer, if you yet wish to raid the warehouse, we certainly can strike up an additional contract once you complete this one.”
Horan looks to your defenses, “Rather secure. Nicely done. I must warn you however, the yuan-ti have many allies within and around this city. They come and go often. The tasloi will not bother you. I will see to that. But do not let your guard down, for the watery cavern may hide many dangers.”
Horan speaks to the air itself, “Air, you will do my bidding and protect this group. You will stand east of the barricade and let nothing living pass by you. Kill all who try until I speak to you again.” An air current moves across the room towards the water.
Horan warns, “Do not under any circumstance cross your barricade and move towards the water. Doing so will greatly jeopardize your life. This, brave Breymeer, I do out of respect for you for you are Suel blooded like I though you remember it not. Those of you that will be staying here will be safe enough as long as you defend against the water. My guardian will assist you. Eat what rations you have left. We shall return in just over a day’s time.”
Horan looks to Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde, “Elf-blooded, you will be joining me to assist and hold counsel with your kin, Ledego and Peylae. Stand before me and grasp each other’s hands.” He walks forward to the elf and the half-elf who now grasp each other. Horan places a hand on both of their shoulders and looks to the group, “Quickly, what items, within reason, would you wish upon our return?”
Tarstar does a jig in anticipation of the coming adventure.
Cirdan Saralonde warns, “Do not enter the water unless Horan says it is safe. The tasloi said large lizards live in the waters and eat the tasloi.”
Breymeer boldly addresses the group, “I unfortunately cannot pass up the opportunity to finish ridding the world of these evil slavers that have killed and tortured so many. My choice will be to eliminate the remaining yuan-ti. We have proven the yuan-ti are no match for us. I would welcome anyone to join me in this task that will bring peace and end suffering to the Olman Clans....and undoubtedly result in recovery of untold treasures. If I must do this alone then so be it...it is something I must do.....I hold nothing against those set on finding Gouthogg's treasures and wish you all the luck.....please be careful and I pray our group can reunite in the event these tasks are successful."
Then Breymeer addresses Horan directly, “I thank you Horan for your assistance with protection. I ask that food and water stores be replenished, repairs for my studded leather. And any aid in healing would be obliged.”
Horan releases his grasp of Cirdan Saralonde and Grimlock’s shoulders, “Breymeer the Brave! I accept your counter-offer. Your group can complete both tasks. And I have an idea who may help. The tattooed man and the dwarf,“ Horan points to Tarstar and Grom, “were separated from some companions. I heard a rumor that some of them may have found safety among some primitive man-types in the NW corner of the city. You may be able to recruit them for the raid on the warehouse. I can offer them freedom from the city if they wish to leave with you. Otherwise, you can offer them my friendship if they assist and decide to stay in the city. When I return, I will have more information for you. Rest up and decide who now among you will travel to the dragon’s lair and who will raid the warehouse with Breymeer!”
With that, Horan grasps Cirdan Saralonde and Grimlock again. With a few words, they disappear.
Horan verbalizes several incantations that you do not understand. In an instant, the room flashes away replaced darkness. You have solid ground underneath your feet and the smell of the jungle remains. The fetid smell of standing swamp water returns. The wind howls around you and rain drives into your face.
Before you completely get your bearings, Horan shouts to be heard in the storm, “Follow me!”
He leads you, with great difficulty against the wind, across a small opening towards a large stone building. You realize you are back at base camp but most of the light weight structures are gone. You are not sure if they were taken down or blown away. The wooden structures remains.
Horan enters the stone structure. You follow him in to discover the entire camp is here. The smell is no more pleasing than the swamp. The room is dimly lit by several torches in sconces. The torches themselves are obviously illuminated by magic as they give off no smoke.
“I will find you in the morning. We may meet in private then. Rest now and hold counsel with your friends.” Horan points to the eastern wall and there among the others is Ledego, Paylea and the crew. Horan mutters some more incantations and vaporizes into thin air.
As you make your way to Ledego and company, they, being seasoned traveling adventurers, awake at your approach. Ledego smiles at the sight of you, “Hail, Cirdan Saralonde and Grimlock! Please tell me, how fair the others?” Peylae is also pleased to see you. The relief is evident, especially as she looks to Grimlock.
Cavern Crew –
After Horan and the elves have vaporized, Southar turns to Breymeer specifically but addresses the group as a whole, “I cannot in good conscious NOT go after slavers. Sign me up for the warehouse instead. However, I do agree we need healing by potions or other means.”
The rest of the night passes without much interest. True to his prediction, the tasloi did not make any attempts to contact or molest your group. Nor did anything come out of the water. Each of you tried your best at rest. You kept a single guard rotation to keep an eye on the water’s edge even with the wizard’s guard.
You are unsure at what point night became morning or if morning has yet become afternoon. Time in the cave is hard to measure. During your idle time you clean equipment and practice your weapons and skills. The wounded take the time to tend to their wounds. <1 hp healed>.
Grom heals self <8, 25/26>.
Cirdan & Grimlock –
As Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde approach, Ledego and Peylae each rise. The crew, in turn, stands and assembles behind them. The others nearby are all the tribal helpers and remain asleep or uninterested in your business. Cirdan Saralonde addresses the Nir Nen survivors,"Master Ledego, Lady Paylae." He bows deeply to both. Grimlock, in his turn, bids notice to Ledego and takes Paylae’s hand and kisses it gently. This obviously amuses Peylae more than Ledego.
Cirdan Saralonde continues, “We lost two. The Baklunish Alip and the halfling Berry Hairycheeks. We were able to rescue the Olman man we were charged with rescuing, but he died in our escape.”
Grimlock adds, “The halfling was lost without need.” Grimlock’s anger at the halfling’s death still burning as he eyes Cirdan Saralonde.
Cirdan Saralonde, not wanting to ignite the argument again continues with his polished tone, “Master Ledego, how do you fare? Are you recovering? You are very brave standing toe to toe with a Black Dragon; and you live to tell the tale!"
“I am well enough to travel I believe. Thank you for asking. Please regale me with your tale and then we will have a moment of reflection upon those we lost. Then we can figure out what is next in store for us.” Ledego appears to making great strides in his recovery. He stands tall again but you can see he still wears wrappings around his chest. His color is good and he appears well.
Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde recount the travel to the city and the loss of Alip en route. They describe the passage and the fight with the bugbears there. They describe the tasloi and the prisoners the party freed. Finally, the battle with the yuan-ti is recounted. Grimlock will not let the tale be told without assigning blame to Ide Otneaux, Breymeer and Cirdan Saralonde for the halfling’s death. Cirdan Saralonde again stays polished and blames the mistake on the battle more than intentional actions.
After the tale is told, Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde greet the crew and share warm welcomes. Ledego holds a moment of silence for the lost and requests everyone to recall a story for each Alip and Hairycheeks. Once completed, Ledego allows the crew to return to sleep but requests Cirdan Saralonde to continue with his report. Ledego and Peylae sit and have Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde join them. All four now sit in a tight circle.
With a very hushed tone, Cirdan Saralonde continues, "We are to meet with Horan in the morning, please tell us what you know or feel about him. Can he be trusted? What is his business in the City? I conversed with a tasloi that said he was working with the Yuan Ti of the city, but the Yuan Ti are evil and deal in slaves. I am not sure if Horan is truly a good mage or neutral-minded adventurer that is exploiting a situation, both of those I am okay with and will work with. If he is evil, like the Yuan Ti, I want to be out of his employ. His words and actions, thus far indicate he is an honorable mage, what do you think?"
Grimlock chimes in, “Ledego, may I speak to you about something in private? It pertains to this matter.”
Ledego appears a bit surprised at the request but stands, “Yes, tell me what you must.” Ledego leads Grimlock just a short distance away where Grimlock whispers to him for several minutes. Grimlock removes something and shows it to Ledego. In the darkness, it cannot be made out well but appears to be a parchment or similar. Ledego nods and the item is returned to Grimlock. They return and sit. Ledego appears to be in thought but bids Cirdan Saralonde to continue.
"Horan has said that we have fulfilled our end of the bargain with him and the box/ship is yours as he promised. He has, however, propositioned us to raid a central warehouse in the city, where the Yuan Ti deal in slaves. Many in the party, Breymeer especially, are ready to carry out this latest quest, both to rid the area of slavers and for fortune and glory."
"Some of us wish to raid the lair of Gouthogg, the Terrible, to retrieve your chests and any loot we can carry. It seems that the party is to split and engage two separate adventures. If you are to leave here now in the ship that Horan has given you, I would like to accompany you. If you wish to continue here, I would gladly stay and test my fortune with Gouthogg."
"Tomorrow, I will ask Horan for a spellbook, at material to make a spellbook, so that I can once again feel like a complete mage. Whether he grants this or not, I ask to once again study your spellbooks so that I can either copy them to my own book, or so that I can go into the city as prepared as possible to do battle."
Grimlock makes his request also, “It would also greatly benefit me if you would allow me to study your book or gift me with scrolls. The task ahead of us will tax all of our abilities.”
Cirdan Saralonde ends the plea with, "Ledago, Paylae, I know your business is your own, but I feel we are all invested now, I beg you to explain your motives for coming here. What are our goals? Because I share them now too. What are we in for? What are we trying to accomplish? We look for your guidance and your, assistance, if you are so capable and willing."
Ledego answers, “First, Noble Cirdan Saralonde, my intention was not to come here. Our destination was much farther to the east. Gouthogg set this course when he sunk the Nir Nen. Horan has set our path now. I do not yet know his motivations but he has held true so far on his word. I wish we were in better position to bargain but he holds all the cards. As for goals, my goal is to get out of here. All of us. I will pass on the offer to leave at this time. You shall have my guidance, for I am going to return to the city with you. Peylae, the ship and crew are in your care. Luna and Celene, the two visible moons, are both full tonight. If we do not return by before Luna is full once again, consider us lost. In that event, take the ship and crew to my mentor. Await there until the spring festivals. If I have not found you by then, you will have to find a new path.” Paylae takes the order like a first mate but the concern in her eyes betrays her love of her father.
“My brave elven friends,” Ledego finishes, “you may study our books. I fear Horan will not allow you his nor is there proper time or material to make books or scrolls with this environment and weather. We must rest now. Return after your meeting tomorrow. We will find time to study when we can. Here and now is not the proper time and place.”
Cavern Crew –
The group continue its rotations throughout what now must be the daytime. As they have relaxed more, sleep has come better. With it, pain and stiffness has set into the injuries. Some are worse off than others. Southar, Breymeer, Ide Otneaux and Grom all took a beating yesterday. Berry Hairycheeks first aid skills are sorely missed.
Grom had been resting and praying for the vast majority of his time. His bruises and cuts from the fall are all but gone. He walks to the threshold between the rooms and uncharacteristically speaks, “By the blessings and wisdom of Dugmaren Brightmantle, I have been guided to extend his healing power to each of you for your kindness to his servant.” With that, he walks to each of the party members and places a hand upon their shoulder. A warm energy flows into each of them.
Here are the hit points returned to each character: Breymeer – (8, 40/40), Ide Otneaux – (2, 16/35), Southar – (4, 24/41), Tanin – (6, 22/24), Tarstar – (5, 25/25).
The group returns to their relaxing and Ide Otneaux goes out to the barricade overlooking the water for her shift as watch. She isn’t on post long when she returns and quietly reports, “I hear some splashing in the water!”
Cirdan & Grimlock
Ledego makes room for both elves to lay down next to his crew and then bids Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde goodnight. He and Peylae share long whispered conversations before returning to slumber. It appears obvious they are discussing their options and future decisions.
Cirdan Saralonde whispers over to Grimlock, “What is it that you hide from me? What is it about the scroll that you showed Ledego? If you have information that concerns us all, as this obviously does, you should be honor bound to make it available to all of us.”
Grimlock returns in a hushed voice, “I advise you this only because you are my companion by necessity. The scroll was recovered from the yuan-ti temple. It is written in a strange language that we are unable to read. Any other business was for Ledego’s ears. Also, if you believe I bare you ill will, you are incorrect. But I have seen your kind stick your nose up to those you think of as less than yourself. You do what you want with no consideration of the consequences. Hairy suffered the consequences of your actions and don’t believe I am fooled by the situation causing his death for you are hardly an unintelligent elf.”
It is roughly 30 feet from the edge of the room to the water’s edge. You have built your barricade in front of the west door to room #4. This leaves only 20 to 25 feet from water’s edge to the barricade where Horan has placed his guardian.
After the healing energies directed to the adventurers through Grom, all but Ide Otneaux and Southar look mainly refreshed. Southar and Ide both yet look cut, sore and bruised.
The splashing becomes louder as Breymeer begins to organize a defense, “Ide! Back away from the water!” Breymeer readies his bow.
Tanin grabs his crossbow and charges up to the barricade and readies to shoot, “Let them come! The dwarves do not give up the defense easily.”
Ide Otneaux grabs her axe and steps into the threshold of room #4. She positions herself just inside the west door, “I will let nothing but dwarf and man through this door on my life!”
Southar and Tanin appears to have been caught flat footed and fail to immediately react.
Grom also grabs his crossbow and moves up next to Tanin. He has a determined look about him but says nothing more than, “Brightmantle make my aim true.”
Cirdan & Grimlock -
Before setting his head down for rest, Grimlock fires one more bitter sentence, “And don’t talk to me of honor again. I do not answer to you.”
Cirdan Saralonde senses the human side of him has overtaken the more patient and calm elvish blood. Humans can be so passionate and hot tempered. He also wishes that Hairycheeks had not been lost. With time, the boiling human blood will cool and the farther thinking elvish mind shall return. For now, Cirdan Saralonde lets the heated words go without remark or retort. Besides, was it not Cirdan Saralonde that carried Hairycheeks body after death? And when he could take him no further, cut a finger from his hand in hopes of bringing life back to him yet. Grimlock will yet understand once he has had time. So, hopefully, that should be about all of the discussion of Hairycheek’s demise needed.
Both of them fall asleep quickly. But not for long.
The storm outside continues on as Ledego wakes Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde. It is still very early; they can tell because they feel they have hardly slept. Ledego himself looks tired but he has obviously been up for a while.
“Here are my daughter’s spellbook and my own. Each of you take your turn with them. I dare not take them with us. Should we not return, I need them to go with Peylae.”
Both spend the next hour or so in deep study.
Cavern Crew -
Tanin and Grom hold the barricade. Ide Otneaux waits, great axe in hand, just inside the door. Within the room, Southar, Breymeer and Tarstar ready their long bows and crossbow respectively. The group collectively holds their breath as Tanin reports back, “A large man with a large machete in one hand and a snake for the other just swam up to shore and climbed out of the water! Worse than that,” says the dwarf in a matter of fact voice, “he has some type of reinforcements swimming up behind him. Several of them.”
A voice booms down the hallway. It speaks in the common tongue, “Merrshaulk curse you stupid hairy beasts! What have you done with the canoes? Any why have you built a defensive structure? IS THIS MUTANY? If so, prepare to die!!! Bow to the servants of Merrshaulk of taste the wrath! Speak now or lose your tongue!”
Cirdan & Grimlock -
Cirdan Saralonde and Grimlock both drift back off to sleep for several hours. The camp does not seem intent on doing anything other than waiting out the storm.
By mid-day, Horan has not yet returned. Ledego gathers his crew near him. He grants Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde an audience also.
“I am going to accompany Noble Saralonde and the passionate Grimlock back to the jungle city with Horan if he will grant my request. What Gouthogg stole from me took years to acquire. I intend to try and get it back before I set sail. I hold no illusion that we will beat Gouthogg in direct combat. I am only hopeful that his arrogance will lead him to make mistakes. We must capitalize on them if we are to survive,” Ledego says in a matter of fact tone. He continues to the crew, “Peylae is in charge in my absence. She has been instructed what to do if I fail to return. Serve her as you would me.”
The creature seems to have now noticed the bugbear bodies stacked near the water’s edge. It shouts at you in common, “Merrshaulk shall eat your souls!” The creature switches to a language you have heard but do not understand. It appears to be making commands to creatures that are coming out of the water.
“We have some snake-men coming out of the water and they do not look like they are here to share a pint!” shouts Tanin back to the group. “Prepare for battle!”
“Arrows away as soon as possible!” shouts Southar in return.
Tarstar wiggles his trouser legs a bit in nervous anticipation. He looks to Southar and just grins. There is not time to question his mental stability.
It is too dark down the hallway to see what it is that comes for you. By the sounds of the splashing water, there appears to be many creatures coming from the water.
Cirdan & Grimlock -
Most of the day has passed before Horan returns to your company in the stone building. He looks well rested and bathed. He has white pantaloons and a red tunic. The tunic is stitched with a symbol of a red skull on a gold background. He carries a small wooden chest in his arms.
“The storm has not yet passed. We shall travel back to your companions now in hopes you can complete your mission,” states Horan, skipping all formalities.
Ledego is the first to respond as he stands and bows slightly, “Horan, you have been a life-saving and gracious host. As captain of this crew, I ask you to honor my request. One of the missions you speak of involves property that belongs to me. I ask you to allow me to accompany the elves back to the others. I wish to lead, under your direction, the excursion into the dragon’s lair.”
Horan, as if expecting this revolation, takes no time to answer, “You shall have your wish Captain Ledego. And I will take responsibility for your crew in your stead. As I have told your crew, I request only one item from the lair. I have left instructions in the chest. Do not open the chest until you have entered the dragon’s lair.”
“Understood,” replies Ledego.
“I have some items for you expedition. Please split them among your companions as you see fit,” Horan says and then claps his hands together. A native servant brings forth a second chest. He continues, “I will take the elves back with me first and then return for you Ledego. Cirdan Saralonde and Grimlock, approach me and told each other’s shoulders as before.”
"Welp, here goes nothin!" Tarstar exclaims as he hears the twang of crossbow strings from Tanin and Grom.
Tanin’s shot makes its mark as the leader gives a shout of pain (6, 28/34).
Grom’s bolt flies high into the watery cavern as, somehow, Grom lost his grip and nearly dropped his crossbow.
The leader shouts a command and the snake men charge up the hallway. The first charges Tanin with his spear. Just before reaching the barricade, a sudden vortex of wind forms and smashes into the creature (13, -5/8). The creature is catapulted into the ceiling and drops to the floor broken and unmoving.
A second creature arrives and swings its axe at the sudden appearance of the vortex. The axe cuts through the vortex and is accompanied but the sound of a sudden downdraft of wind (10, 13/23).
A third creature jumps over his fallen comrade and jabs his spear at Tanin cutting open his left arm (4, 18/24). As Tanin steps back from the blow, the creature slithers atop the barricade and bites Tanin on the right shoulder with its snake mouth (1, 17/24 *** Ophidean Lycanthropy – onset 3 days (Reaping 1st), lasts 13 days (Reaping 11th))
Now that the creatures have reached the edge of the firelight’s illumination at the barricade, you can make out more of their detail. They are short tailed, thick bodied snakes. They have arms that protrude out about two feet below their neck. They stand roughly five to six feet tall but are longer from head to tail. Their arms end in human like hands with four fingers. Their scales are a brownish-green color with some iridescent pale blue/greens.
Ide Otneaux shouts to the dwarves, "Fall back to the room! Fall back before you are overrun!"
Breymeer lets two arrows fly as Tanin and Grom begin to back into the room. The arrows fly over the heads of the dwarves. Both arrows strike home against the snake man that bit Tanin. The first arrow buries into its abdomen (4, 8/12) while the second one pierces its mouth through the top of its jaw down into the lower jaw and continues into its neck, sticking the head to the body (12, -4/12). The creature collapses onto the barricade.
Southar holds his shot for a moment and calms himself to take a fine sight on what he sees as more slave taking enemies. He lets his first arrow fly as Breymeer topples the spear wielding foe. The shot goes over its head as its body crumbles onto the barricade. Without missing a beat, Southar, with the speed of an elf, draws forth his second arrow. Again he takes a breath and lets it out. He fires his second shot over the barricade at the axe wielding snake man. The arrow just clears the barricade and bites into the snake man’s abdomen (4, 13/17).
Tarstar, not having much of a clear shot, repositions to the doorway and draws forth his cutlass and dagger.
Tanin reloads his crossbow directly in the face of the snake-men’s charge. As the axe wielding foe crests the barricade, Tanin lets his quarrel loose on the leader, “Unless my eyes deceive me, that leader is a yuan-ti!!!” The bolt misses its mark and dips into the watery cavern beyond.
The snake man cresting the barricade must have mistakenly thought he had slain the wind-guardian. For the second time, a sudden vortex of wind materializes. The howling mini-gale strikes the snake man across the back and propels him into the cavern wall near the door. He slams into the wall and drops motionless to the floor, its body severely broken (15, -2/17).
This action buys Grom time to toss his crossbow aside and draw forth his battle-axe as another snake-man comes to the barricade. Grom swings at it but only buries his axe into the pile of wooden furniture that makes up the barricade. The snake man wields a broad sword and carries a shield. It swings at Grom as it comes over the pile. Grom withdraws his battle-axe to defend himself.
Breymeer’s first arrow strikes the snake man with the broad sword as he climbs. The arrow strikes it in the abdomen (9, 3/12). The snake man loses his balance and begins to fall sideways as Southar’s first arrow also bites into its abdomen (7, -4/12). It falls to the cavern floor on the water side of the barricade and does not move again. This slows the advance of the creatures temporarily.
Breymeer’s second shot clears the barricade and strikes the next snake man in the chest (8, 5/13). This creature wields a spear and a shield. It attempts to bring its shield forward in defense but Southar’s second shot catches it just above the shield in the neck (5, 0/13). It drops dead.
Both guard rooms suddenly go black as pitch. All light has been completely removed. Ide Otneaux, Breymeer, Southar and Tarstar cannot see anything.
The snake men appear to be stalling. They have stopped their advance on the barricade but appear very fearful to retreat toward the yuan ti.
The twang of Tanin’s crossbow is followed by his exclamation, “I got the yuan-ti again.” The bolt found its mark (1, 27/34).
Through the dark, an overwhelming sound of something very large rushing out of the water commands your attention. Tanin shouts a report, “A large crocodile has come out of the water and has the yuan-ti! It has him by the arm and is dragging in towards the water!” (4, 23/34)
Breymeer stows his bow and feels his way to the small fire burning in the small room. There, he draws forth a torch and lights it. He can tell it is lit because he can feel the heat from it. However, it offers no illumination.
The room remains pitch black.
Tarstar remains in place, listening intently in the darkness.
Southar whispers to Tarstar, “Should we charge into melee or retreat for arrow coverage to a location where we can get sight?”
Ide Otneaux states the obvious, “I can’t see a thing!”
Breymeer carefully moves back to the south wall and then moves forward towards the doorway. He throws the torch ahead of him down the hallway. It does nothing to illuminate the room. He re-arms himself with his bow and waits for his vision to return.
Tarstar creeps up next to Breymeer and moves through the doorway. His vision returns to find both dwarves manning the barricade. Grom is just ahead of Tanin. Tanin is sending bolts from his crossbow down range while Grom holds his ground with his battle axe out.
The hallway is now better lit from the torch Breymeer threw. The torch lies about 10 feet from the water’s edge among the remaining snake-men. They moved several feet up the tunnel away from it. Only about 10+ feet from the barricade. They are showing no aggression at this time. They have fear in their eyes.
The crocodile chomps down on the yuan-ti a second time. This time it bites up to his shoulder (6, 17/34). Just before the crocodile drags it into the water, the yuan-ti slashes the crocodile across the brow with his machete (3, 18/21).
Tanin takes a fine bead on the yuan-ti and lets another bolt go down range. It surprisingly finds its mark, settling into the yuan-ti’s back (5, 12/34) just as a second, smaller, crocodile erupts out of the water and latches onto the yuan-ti’s other arm (7, 5/34). The machete falls with a clank onto the stone floor. The yuan-ti is screaming in terror.
Grom points out the obvious, “That yuan-ti looks done for. What should we do about the other two creatures? I do not dare go out after them for fear of that wind-devil.”
A familiar voice utters a magical incantation and the rooms regain the illumination of the fire pits.
Southar, now suddenly able to see, charges forward with his sword and dagger, “Die Slavers!” He gets up to the traffic jam at the barricade, but must yet stand in the doorway between the rooms.
Grom, seeing the intense mood of Breymeer and Southar, slips back in the ranks; squeezing his way past the humans into room 4.
Tanin stays at the barricade and reloads his crossbow. He holds his fire for now.
Breymeer moves up next to Tanin and sends two arrows down range. The first strikes the closest snake man center mass (5, 7,12). The second flies clear into the dark cavern beyond.
The crocodiles finish their tug of war with the yuan-ti and pull him apart. Each reptile then retreats back into the water and disappears.
In the larger room that Southar just moved out of, three shapes now stand. Horan, Grimlock and Cirdan Saralonde have returned.
Ide Otneaux, standing to the side of the western door of the smaller room spots them, “Horan and the elves have returned!”
Tarstar gives a little welcoming dance.
The narrow hallway between the small room and the water filled cavern is littered with the five dead snake men. The surviving two, not seeing much option but a tooth filled death in the water or death in battle, flee for the water’s edge in hopes the crocodiles are busy eating. They jump in and begin a rapid swim towards freedom.
Horan yells and order, “Do not let them live! They will sound an alarm amongst the yuan-ti!”
Southar transitions to his bow and fires two arrows at the retreating snake men. Both fly harmlessly by.
Breymeer also lets two arrows go. The first sticks in the back of the unharmed snake man’s head. It drops dead on the spot. The second flies clear.
Tanin, having his crossbow loaded and ready, fires his bolt at the snake man that was previously wounded. The bolt strikes it in the center of its back. It drops dead into the water.
Horan congratulates your accuracy, “Well done all! Air, you are released from my service. I thank you. Return to your home in peace. Now then, I shall return momentarily.” With that, he utters a few words and disappears.
Tarstar continues to dance, “All of this killing makes me feel like partying.”
Grimlock, having loaded and aimed his crossbow, holds his fire as he could not find a clear shot past his companions.
Ide Otneaux and Grom move into the larger room to create some space.
In short order, Horan reappears in the larger room. This time he has
Ledego with him. Each carries a chest, one medium sized (Horan) and one small (Ledego). Both made of wood.
Ledego greats you, “Hello, my friends. I have come to assist in completing one of the missions. I will lead the raid into the dragon’s lair.”
Horan checks the group’s intent, “As I see it, and please correct me if I am in error, the Dragon Raiders will be led by Ledego and include Grimlock, Cirdan Saralonde, Ide Otneaux, Tanin and Grom. The Slave Slayers will be led by Breymeer and include Southar and Tarstar. They will need to look for the rest of Tarstar and Grom’s associates in the NW corner of the city. I know not how many of them yet live nor where for certain they stay. Rumor indicates they live with the wildmen. I wish not to send Grom with the Slave Slayers for two reasons. One, I wish not to split the dwarves. Second, if the group is lost, Grom may yet live to recruit the lost companions.”
Horan sets down the medium chest and opens it. He reaches in and withdraws two golden tablets.
He hands one to Breymeer and one to Ledego, “These plates will allow you passage when encountering some of the occupants of the city. Those that cooperate with me will honor the plates. Unfortunately, allegiance comes and goes in this city, so I make no guarantees. The plates are very old and depict the some of the written Olman language. They shall be returned to me.”
“Both groups shall travel into the city following the eastern wall as it extends in the northeasterly direction. Where the wall drops back to a southeasterly direction, the groups shall split. There will be a long narrow building to your north.”
He pauses and looks to Breymeer, “The Slaver Slayers shall move to the west side of the building to a main north/south roadway. Take the roadway north three blocks. There is a bugbear colony living at the intersection two blocks north. If you fail to sneak by them, then show them the tablet. It may prevent them from attacking you. They owe me no allegiance but are no threat at this time. When you have travelled the three blocks north you will come to a ‘T’ intersection. Go west and begin looking for the wildmen. I have had no dealings with the wildmen and so the tablet will not help you there.”
Horan now instructs Ledego, “The Dragon Raiders shall move to the east side of the building and go north to the main east/west roadway. Go east to the columns that line the eastern section of the roadway. That way leads to the main exit from the city. The exit will be guarded even in the face of the storm. Approach the guards and show them the tablet. There will be several yuan-ti there. It is unlikely they are aware of your attack on the temple. They will honor the tablet assuming you wish to leave the city. Use surprise and eliminate them quietly and quickly. Do not go into the passage from the city. There will be no need to eliminate any further guards. Instead, go north into the swamp. The swamp in Gouthogg’s territory and it is guarded by his allies. Be careful and follow the trail to the north until you reach the south shore of the lake. Once at the lake, leave the trail and follow the lakeshore east to where it meets the cliffs. The entrance to Gouthogg’s lair is below the water. The lair is built into the cliff face. You will have to travel a short distance underwater but it will come back up into dry ground and breathable air. Ledego may have to assist with this transition. As a final note, hide the golden tablet behind the south-eastern column at the exit to the city.”
Horan reaches into the chest and removes four vials, “I offer each group two vials. I have purchased them for your use. They have healing powers.” He gives two vials to Ledego and two to Breymeer.
“You may keep the chest. There are several wet stones and two flasks of weaponsmith’s oil for your armor and weapons. Also, there are two score of sheaf arrows and one score of quarrels. I noticed several of you were low.” Horan takes a breath and continues, “Once you have completed your mission, meet back at the stone yuan-ti temple you cleared. It is defensible. I will look for you there each day. I wish you all good luck and should you fail, know that Wee Jas will take you as you expire, should you let him. Any last questions before I depart?”
Tanin, Grom and Grimlock fill their bolt cases giving them 20, 19 and 20 bolts respectively.
Ide Otneaux takes the chest and stows it among her gear, “I will carry this until someone needs it.” She gives one wetstone and one vial of weapon oil to Breymeer.
Breymeer takes 14 sheaf arrows, filling his quiver.
Southar takes 21 sheaf arrows, filling his quivers.
The remaining 5 sheaf arrows are left in the chest.
Cirdan Saralonde speaks, “Horan, you have been here for some time. Could you tell us of the routine of Gouthogg? When does he come and go and for how long? And what is the one item you want from his lair? We must know what it is in order to retrieve it for you.”
Horan responds, “Gouthogg, as with all dragons, keeps his routine anything but. He was seen leaving the city prior to the tropical storm coming in. Where he went and the time of his return are known only to Gouthogg. As for the item in the lair, the answer is within the chest Ledego carries. Once in the lair, open the chest and follow the instructions you find there.”
“The storm is will likely wane overnight. I assure you the tasloi will aloow you passage. Move your camp to the cave entrance overlooking the ampitheatre. In order to move through the city undetected, break camp and travel a few hours before dawn. Good luck. May you soon find yourself sailing in the salty air of the seas.”
With that, Horan utters a few words and disappears.
You do as instructed and move back through the tasloi lair without incident. Surprisingly, the tasloi remain hidden and do not molest you. You traverse the bridge and camp within the cave waiting for night to pass. The storm continues overnight but appears to be lessoning. The wind, although strong, is no longer raging as it was. The rain continues to come down in abundance.
A few hours before dawn, you prepare your weapons and gear. You spread your well wishes and hope this is not the last you see of each other. Soon, with luck, you will all safely be back at the stone yuan-ti temple.
The group leaves the cave a few hours before dawn’s light. It is Richfest the 7th. The last day of the festival week that celebrates mid-summer.
The city is quiet other than the significant wind and rain. It is obvious the storm is beginning to break.
The decent from the ledge much easier. The characters make their way across the amphitheare, down the trail through the trees and past the stone yuan-ti temple. Past the temple, the group moves closer to the rift wall. Vision is restricted in the dark hour and the humans cause the group to move about half speed.
The group moves through the narrow channel away from the temple.
Buildings begin to appear as the rift opens ahead of you. A large statue stands in the opening atop a stone building. The image is too obscured in the dark to make out more than a human shaped figure. To the right of the statue is a large tree. As you move past it, you note the presence of an abnormal amount of spider webs in the boughs. Not wanting to re-experience contacts with large arachnids, you continue along the wall until you enter a small passageway between the wall and a long low building.
The building is made of stone and is in a state of ruin. The cracks in the wall show areas the roof has collapsed. It appears vacant.
The passage between the rift wall and the various buildings continues for over 1/10 mile. You come to an area where the rift wall turns in a southerly direction. This is where Horan told you to split.
The group gives each other a final good luck and goodbye. Each, in turn, does a final equipment check and prepares themselves in their own way.
Before the groups split, Tarstar gives a brief overview, “As Horan mentioned, we may come across survivors of our previous group. Grom and I travelled here with a large adventure group assembled and paid by the Lordship of the Isles. We were sent to locate the city and complete a brief exploration. We were instructed to return, mapping the way so as a larger group could return and complete the exploration of the city. We entered the city from the north, climbing down the vines. Once down, we were ambushed by the amphibian like men that had turtle shells growing out of their backs. Many of our group perished or were captured. The group was defeated and separated. Prior to the defeat, we had consisted of many races. Grom was our dwarf. There were several elves; one female. Two humans, with a strange dialect, from the eastern seas. I have been at sea for long years and heard tale of the Moonshae and that is what they appeared to be. One of them was female. There was a halfling. In addition, there was a man; a sellsword he was. Our wizard I saw fall in the ambush along with many of the Lordship’s hirlings. Some surely escaped. Grom and I did not. There may have been others I have forgotten. For a time, I was drugged repeatedly and much of my time here has been blurred.”
Grom listens to Tarstar and only nods a slight agreement.
Breymeer, bow in hand, leads the warehouse raiding crew west along the narrow alley between the buildings towards a main street. Southar follows suit also carrying his bow. Tarstar gives a little exit dance and follows along.
Ledego gives a bow in their direction, “Fair thee well.” He sets off easterly and cautiously rounds the building to the main street. Grimlock travels next to him. Cirdan Saralonde takes up the next rank. He keeps his hands free. The dwarves, Tanin and Grom, take up the rear. Each has a crossbow out.
It is quickly obvious that Breymeer, Southar and Tarstar are all adept at moving quickly and quietly. Nary a sound is heard as they move up the shadowed edge of the street to the north.
Immediately across the block from their starting point is a copse of trees in an area that appears to have once been a parkland. The branches are very thick with growth and the base of the trees is thick with underbrush.
The group is able to move by without incident. They reach the end of the first block. This area appears to have once been the wealthier area of the city. The buildings are mainly of stone and still, more or less, intact. As you continue north, the buildings become of less quality and more decrepit. Occasionally there appears buildings that hint of once being temples. In addition, stone spires are not so uncommon to see scattered among the ruins.
You continue north a second block. The buildings on the southwestern area of the intersection are in ruins. You cannot help but feel your presence here is being watched but nothing stops your movement north. The smell of bugbear is unmistakable as you pass by the ruins. Breymeer and Southar can not help but notice the increased amount of traffic in and out of the ruins. Heavy booted feet.
The group makes it to the third intersection, nearly ¼ mile from where you started. Here the roadway tees. It is obvious, to the west was once the poor area of the city. The three adventurers carefully move west as directed. About 2/3 the way down the block, a distance of almost 500 feet, the buildings are nearly completely fallen to ruin. The first sounds of dawn can be heard over the slowly taming wind. A jungle bird greets the day.
Ledego moves the group down the street keeping as much as possible in the shadows of the buildings. It is evident that you are leaving what was once the wealthier area of the city and moving more towards a commercial area and the obvious main entrance.
The group moves rather quietly. Ledego moves with the stealth of an elf. Grimlock, being half elven, is also blessed with silent movements. Cirdan Saralonde, also of elvish stock, makes no noise. Then comes the dwarves, who only think they are being quiet. Finally, Ide Otneaux makes up the rear guard. She is no rouge but her movements are certainly less than that of the dwarves. To the elves, the dwarves sound like the charge of mounted knights.
Despite the noise, the group makes it about 1/10 mile to the east. They stand just short of 200 feet from the first of the columns that line the roadway.
About 750 feet ahead lies the main entrance to the city and the path north into the swamp.
Ledego stops and checks with the group, “Do you wish to bypass the yuan-ti or slay them? I wish your input before I make my decision.”
Grimlock answers, “I will follow you Ledego, although I still question Horan’s agenda.”
Cirdan Saralonde agrees, “I, too, will take my lead from you Ledego. I have no problems killing the yuan-ti as they are evil. But we must do it by surprise as I fear they have formidable psychic powers.”
Ide Otneaux gives a cold response, “I wish to be out of here. I will kill whatever I must to achieve this goal. But, I agree, the yuan-ti are formidable foes. I would also like to surprise them.”
Tanin speaks for the dwarves, “This is no place for a dwarf. Let us do what we must.”
“Very well,” says Ledego, “Horan’s motives are questionable but I feel we are on the cusp of setting sail out of here. The yuan-ti shall be dealt with quickly. We will walk up and present the tablet as if we wish passage. Once they close on us, we will attack. Grimlock and Grom, use missiles, Cirdan and I will use spells and Tanin and Ide can charge into melee.”
You move quietly as you can towards the city entrance, taking your time. The area around the passageway is mostly in ruins. The area is overgrown with weeds and vines. They trail over the toppled columns and fallen buildings. The vines climb up the rift walls around the passageway opening.
You move to the front of the opening on the main street. Grimlock has ducked off out of sight. You may not have noticed his departure if it had not been for the sound of tumbling rubble to your right (the west side of the approach to the passageway). You are about 50 feet from the entrance to the underground passageway. It is too dark within to see well. Darkvision reveals nothing. No one hails you or challenges you. You finally move the last 50 feet forward until you stand at the opening.
Cirdan Saralonde looks cautious, “My understanding is that we are to turn north here. I say we move past as quietly as we can and continue on to the swamp.”
“Noble Saralonde, I couldn’t agree with you more. Something here does not seem right.”
The dwarves just shrug.
Ide Otneaux moves over to the approximate area that Grimlock was last seen.
Ledego makes the decision and waves all of you to follow him north towards the swamp.
Four massive columns mark the corners of the main intersection in front of the passageway. The group moves north between them and begins to move north. The buildings here are in ruins. You can see a heavy amount of vegetation ahead. It already smells of fetid waters. The swamp lays only 150 feet to your north.
Grimlock knocks down a rock as he climbs to higher ground making a noticeable amount of noise. He takes a look around and sees Cirdan Saralonde and Ledego talking. Next, Ledego waves the group to follow and he heads north towards the swamp. Ide Otneaux has moved to where you entered the rubble and appears to be waiting on you. Unfortunately, you see a large snake working its way around the rubble towards your direction from the direction of the passageway. It is yet 15 feet from you.
Grimlock moves away from the snake but it does not appear to follow. Grimlock stops and fires a poison bolt at it before it disappears into the rubble. The bolt misses. Things happen quickly after that. A movement nearby draws your attention. You see a yuan-ti materialize out of the rubble about 25 feet to your southeast. It is man-like except that it has cobra snakes for arms. The snakes are moving about and the creature is speaking in a strange tongue. Too late, you realize it was casting a spell. The effects quickly affect you. You feel yourself shrinking and changing form. Hairy sprouts from your skin and your face narrows as your nose grows. You drop to all fours and realize you have become an 18 inch long rat. At the same time, a second yuan-ti appears in the rubble where the normal snake was just slithered. It stands only 15 feet from you. This creature is man-like except it has a snake head and its body is covered in green scales with scattered whorls of red. It smiles cruely.
Grimlock’s mind and body survived the transformation. He yet lives and knows he is Grimlock the half-elven in the shape of a rat. Grimlock assesses the situation very quickly and flees away from the yuan-ti. The rubble presents many places to dodge and hide as Grimlock makes his way to the street.
Ide Otneaux shouts ahead stopping the group, “Hey, Grimlock is missing! I heard a crossbow fire over to the west side of the passageway.
Ide Otneaux is still at the western edge of the intersection, standing on the south side of the street. She is pointing to the south.
Warehouse Wrecking Crew
Ahead of you the roadway turns south at a 90 degree curve. The building around the curve are all ruinous and rubble piles. The street is relatively clear.
Prior to the 90 degree curve, about 50 feet in front of you and 200 feet to the curve (marked J8 on the map) are three large poles erected on the north side of the roadway. The poles dug into the ground. Each one is about ten feet tall and has a large metal ring set into it about seven feet off the ground. The middle pole has the rotting body of what appears to have once been a bugbear. The body has obviously met a violent end as given by the cuts and damage to it. It is chained to the pole. Around the area are various bits of bone. None of them appear to belong to a complete skeleton.
Cirdan Saralonde looks to Ledego, “We have to find him. Please bring the tablet, it might provide us with a way to stop any bloodshed.” Cirdan Saralonde turns back in search of the half-elf.
Cirdan Saralonde reaches Ide Otneaux and confers with her, “Where did you last see or hear him?”
Ide Otneaux points to the south, “I did not see where he left the roadway but I heard the shot over there.”
Cirdan Saralonde speaks, “Ledego, please will you accompany me in search for him. We can move quieter than the rest. The others can all hide themselves and wait for us.”
Before Ledego can begin to move to Cirdan and Ide Otneaux’s position, a large rat comes running out of the rubble into the roadway. It is about 18 inches long and looks frightened.
Cirdan Saralonde and Ide Otneaux are about 10 feet from the rat. They are near the western corner of the intersection. The rat is just west of them. Ledego, Tanin and Grom are all at the northern part of the intersection, nearly 30-40 feet away.
Ide Otneaux moves towards the rat, raising her axe as she states matter of factly, “This place is looking more and more like the Pomarj every day.”
The dwarves take a position of cover behind the large NW column and have their crossbows loaded and ready for action.
Cirdan Saralonde prepares for attack but can hear nothing imminent.
The rat, very strangely, gets up on its hind feet, like a bear, and starts doing some type of jig. It is wiggling to and fro and waving its arms in the air.
Ide Otneaux pulls up short, “What the hell is wrong with the rat! Ledego! Cirdan! Should I kill it?”
Cirdan Saralonde replies to Ide Otneaux, “Ide, remember when the yuan-ti priest was turned into a rat?”
Cirdan Saralonde then speaks to the rat, “If you are Grimlock, stop dancing and put your hands down.”
The rat obeys.
Cirdan Saralonde continues, “Looks like we found out where Grimlock went. Serves him right for going off alone. I suggest we find the yuan-ti that changed him and use the tablet to show our affiliation. Then we can ask it to change our companion back.”
Just as Cidran Saralonde finishes speaking, Ledego points to the rubble along the south side of the road. Directly where the rat just came out, “Look out!”
The group all look to see about a dozen snakes come slithering out of the rocks and rubble. From the experience they have had with snakes, they can tell it is a mixed lot of poisonous and constrictor snakes. All about five to eight feet long. The snakes are closing in on Ide Otneaux, Cirdan Saralonde and the rat. Ide Otneaux looks flat footed and appears caught off guard.
Cirdan Saralonde grabs Ide Otneaux, “We’re in for a fight now! The stupid half-elf shot a crossbow at them. I doubt diplomacy is going to work.”
Cirdan pulls something from his clothing, utters something and spreads his fingers out towards the snakes. A stream of webs shoot forth encompassing the incoming snakes. The webs bond to the roadway and rubble beyond. Lacking sufficient support, the webs collapse downward but seem to have the desired effect. The snakes are now a wriggling mass under the webs.
The rat moves off towards Ledego.
A yuan-ti materializes out of the rubble and utters something in an arcane language. It is man-like but has snakes for arms. It wears a simple light robe. Tanin and Grom both fire their crossbow at him trying to thwart his spell. Grom’s bolt misses. Tanin, in a hurry to get the shot off, fumbles the bolt and gets his hand caught on the string trying to reset the bolt. The crossbow discharged and the string mangled his hand (8, 11/24). The yuan-ti finishes his spell.
A second yuan-ti appear up out of the rubble. This one has a snake’s head and a human body covered in scales of a ruddy brown color. It wears no armor or clothing. It wields a halberd. With its appearance, a wave of fear rolls across Ide Otneaux, Ledego, Cirdan Saralone and the rat. All but Ledego turn and flee for their lives. They are heading across the intersection towards the dwarves.
Ide Otneaux’s slow reaction allows the yuan-ti to close on her. As she turns to flee, the halberd wielding yuan-ti charges her. Ledego pulls a glass tube from his clothing and rubs a bit of fur on it. He utters a few words and a brilliant flash of light fills the air. A forked lightning bolt appears before him and instantly streaks forward striking both yuan-ti; each receiving one part of the fork. The yuan-ti with the halberd appears unaffected while the one with the snake arms is obviously electrocuted severely (31, 15/46). The thunderclap is deafening but blends with the environment produced by the wind and rain. The yuan-ti with the pole arm reaches Ide Otneaux and gashes her across her back opening a bloody wound (8, 9/35).
Tanin grimaces through the pain and reloads his crossbow with his bleeding hand. He takes a bead on the yuan-ti with the snake arms. The bolt flies true but only grazes the creature’s abdomen (2, 13/46).
Grom pulls his holy symbol and points it to Cirdan Saralonde and then at Ide Otneaux. Each time he repeats, “May Brightmantle give you courage in the face of fear!”
Ledego repeats his previous spell. He pulls a second glass rod from his possessions and rubs fur upon it. A second thunderbolt accompanies the forked lightning bolt that streaks towards both yuan-ti. The yuan-ti with snake arms dives behind the rubble, able to avoid the full impact (16, -3/46). The yuan-ti with the halberd attempts to dodge the bolt but still takes some of the blow to its chest and this time is obviously electrified (16, 24/40).
The yuan-ti charges Ledego and slashes him across the left shoulder (2, 22/24) knocking him supine.
The yuan-ti with snake arms remains hidden behind the rubble.
Tarstar moves carefully up to the carcass of the bugbear and begins inspecting the area. Southar and Breymeer stand nearby with their bows ready.
Tarstar notices a smell, similar to the heavy smell of decay that permeates the area around the bugbear carcass, but somehow, different . . . more fecal. Tarstar begins to look around for the source when it comes into view.
From the rubble behind the middle pole rises a large creature, having features similar to a centipede or caterpillar and a cephalopod. It towers over Tarstar, more than twice his height. It is green in color. From its body are many small legs. Around its mouth is a ring of eight tenticles. Each tentacle appears to be secreting a sticky looking ooze.
It moves in towards Tarstar. It’s tenticles a circular writhing threat.
Ide Otneuax, courage restored, turns and charges back towards the yuan-ti standing over Ledego.
Before Ide Otneaux can reach the yuan-ti towering over Ledego, several things happen. The yuan-ti raises its polearm above its head intending a coup de grace. Before the blow is struck, Ledego flashes into four images of himself. At the same time, Cirdan Saralonde lets fly a lightning bolt, cauing it to appear in front of Ide Otneaux and traveling over Ledego and into the yuan-ti (18, 6/40). The blow from the lightning bolt knocks the yuan-ti backwards several feet. It lands in a heap as Ide Otneaux moves up to finish it off. Fighting through the pain of her bleeding back wound, she drops her axe into the creature’s chest, splitting it wide open (16, -10/40).
Grom turns to his dwarven companion, “Brightmantle can help with your pain.” Grom touches Tanin’s hand and heals it (7, 18/24).
The rat continues to flee towards the swamp.
Ledego rises from the ground and runs towards the rubble saying over his shoulder, “Thank you Noble Saralonde! And thank you also Ide Otneaux. The strength behind your axe is amazing!”
He reaches the area the other yuan-ti went down and reports, “This one is dead also!” He allows the mirror images of himself to vanish.
Cirdan Saralonde takes the dead yuan-ti’s halberd and hacks at the snakes that are caught in the web. In a short matter of time, all that is left is a pile of broken sticks. No snakes or snake parts remain.
Next, Cirdan Saralonde joins Ide Otneaux at the body of the pole-arm wielding yuan-ti. She points to a strange ring on its finger. The ring appears to be made of brass, is shaped like a snake with two small ruby eyes. Its design has the snake wrapped several times around the finger.
Ledego returns from the body of the other yuan-ti with a platinum necklace
in his hand. It is simple platinum chain with a multi-coiled snake on a hoop.
Grom walks up to Ide Otneaux and touches her back, “Brightmantle honors your courage and takes away your pain.” He heals her (8, 17/35). The seeping wound on her back completely disappears.
Grimlock, in rat form, flees north along the roadway past the dwarves. After about 150 feet, the roadway gives way to a swamp that has overtaken the northeast corner of the city. There is much vegetation and the ground is very wet after the rain. He runs through a few wild boars that are rooting around near the edge of the swamp. He flees through them down an obvious trail in the thickness of the swamp vegetation. He flees about 200 feet down the trail before it bends to the left. Having to swim at this point, the rat continues on nearly 400 more feet before the trail splits. Here, the rat tires greatly as the fear is wearing off him. The rat climbs upon some matted vegetation screened from the trail and rests.
Southar, very quick to react, aims his bow until Breymeer, also with catlike reflexes, puts his hand on Southar’s shoulder, “Hold off shooting my friend, until I can have a chance to get this creature to move about its business.”
Tarstar, meanwhile, is caught off guard and does not even see the creature beginning to tower over him. Tarstar is too busy checking the bugbear’s body and the area around it.
Breymeer shoulders his bow and moves up bravely in front of the creature. He speaks in a smooth, calm voice, “We mean you no harm. Take your meal and be off. We will not harm you.” He continues speaking in such a manner.
The large green monster pauses. It had been eyeing up Tarstar.
Southar shouts to Tarstar, “Back out of there sailor. Come out slow and show no threats.” Tarstar’s eyes go wide and his jaw drops when he sees the giant creature towering over him. He remains cool and collected, however, and backs away slowly as Southar commanded.
The creature leans forwards, not towards Tarstar, but for the body of the bugbear. It latches onto the body and easily pulls it free from the chains, leaving a few parts that were bound to the chains as they rip free from the body.
It becomes clear, given the creatures size and the various skeletal parts laying around, this creature feeds off whatever is chained to the poles.
The creature takes its meals and disappears backwards into the rubble once again. Breymeer lets out a sigh of relief and re-arms himself with his bow. Tarstar dances a little nervous jig. Southar just nods to his companions.
The passing of the creature is met by several bird calls from around the area. It is yet dark out as the sky is clouded over and rain yet falls. The wind continues to slowly let up.
Grimlock, in rat form, you climb off the matted vegetation and begin swimming back down the trail. Animal instincts begin to tell the rat something is wrong. Now that it is not in a panic, it smells something that is unfamiliar. While analyzing the smell, the matted vegetation rises behind the rat and takes the form of a twisted looking human, very genetically damaged and ugly. It holds a reed tube and shoots a dart into the rat.
<Grimlock made saving throw vs paralysis with a 13>
Cirdan Saralonde removes the brass ring from the yuan-ti and shows it to Ledego, “How do you want to divvy up the loot?”
Ledego responds to him, “Feel free to hold onto the items for now. Just be cautious as not everything you may find in this world is for good.
Especially when dealing with such evil creatures. Besides,” Ledego lowers his voice so that only Cirdan Saralonde can hear him, “I trust an elf with precious metals more than a dwarf.”
Ide Otneaux looks at the two elves, “I carry much of our treasure already dear elves, feel free to carry those items for now. Should we ever get free of this aweful swamp, we can debate about treasure.”
Cirdan Saralonde pockets both the necklace and the ring. He continues, “We should find a way to hide the bodies of the snake people. If they are found, it will probably raise an alarm. I say we carry them to the swamp and hide them in a convenient place.”
Ide Otneaux goes over to the rubble and starts dragging one yuan-ti towards the swamp, “Dwarves, would you mind grabbing the other?” The dwarves quickly see the wisdom in the action and begin dragging the second yuan-ti.
Cirdan Saralonde addresses Grom, “Many thanks to you Grom and the power of Brightmantle for quick thinking and healing aid.” To the group he continues, “I say we continue to the swamp, keeping an eye out for the rat-faced half-elf on our way. We can deposit the bodies quickly as we go. Be alert and ready. The tasloi that I was able to speak with said the turtle-men that do the bidding of Gouthogg are very formidable.”
Cirdan Saralonde and Ledego take the lead towards the swamp. Ide Otneaux and the dwarves follow dragging bodies.
The street quickly gives way to the swamp. There is heavy vegetation and a foul swamp smell. An obvious trail winds its way north into the swamp.
The rain has raised the water level significantly and there is water extending a bit past the vegetation. The sound of wild boars can be hear in the grass. They are routing around making splashing sounds within about 30 feet from the trail. To go down the trail, the group will have to get their feet wet.
The rain continues but the wind is beginning to lessen. There is no rat in sight.
Breymeer speaks aloud his thoughts..."Hear those bird calls? Am guessing that's our wildmen watching the beast take their offering. Horan's advice was to recruit these warriors and continue on to finish off the slavers."
Breymeer begins looking in the area for tracks and quickly finds what he is looking for. He continues, “I believe all these tracks here belong to them. I suggest we call out to the wildmen and see if they'll listen to our proposal. First let’s find the best defensive position we can.” He lowers his bow and begins to look around.
The rat, fearing impending doom, dives below the water. Too late as the wild looking man creature bounds out reaching for the rat with its free hand, a canvas type sack in the other.
The man creature grabs the rat by the tail and plucks it from the water.
Cirdan Saralonde suggests, “We should dispose the bodies between us and the boars in hopes they will go for the easy food.” He pulls daggers out just in case.
Cirdan Saralonde begins looking around, “If we can trudge through the swamp towards the east wall of the city, we can just follow that north to the lake.”
Ledego counters, “Noble Saralonde, I have learned to listen to your wisdom. But, in this case, I worry about two things. One, the boars are between us and the east wall. More importantly, Horan said nothing about going off trail. I do not know what type of horrors could be hiding within those swamp grasses. I think I would prefer to stick to the trail for now. I do agree we should dump the bodies here between us and the boars.”
Ide Otneaux and the dwarves react to the conversation and dump the bodies about 8 feet off trail to the east.
Tanin comments upon his return, “It would be very slow going. We will have to hack our way.”
Ide Otneaux offers her services, “If we are to hack a trail, I will go first. I have this extra sword I can use.”
The group agrees to take the trail. You move in a north-northeastern direction. The water level varies between ankle to knee deep most of the way. After about two hundred feet, you encounter what can only be the lake. A vast expanse ahead of you in the darkness with waves kicked up from the remaining wind. Here, the trail bends around the western edge of the lake. Horan’s advice was to follow the south shore of the lake to the east.
“Damn this water!” Cirdan Saralonde is disgusted with the lack of available tracks in the flooded swamp. “What do you wish to do?”
“Move out,” says Tanin in life-is-full-of-pain tone. “We have a mission.
Grimlock will find his way to safety. He is a rat and they are at home in this environment.”
“While I cherish the half-elf’s fighting ability, I have grown tired of his lack of concern for others. I do not wish him ill, but I do not want to risk all our necks to try and find him in such a hostile area.” Cirdan continues, “I vote we continue with the mission and hope he can catch up or find his way back to the temple where Horan will meet us...if we survive the dragon's lair.”
Ledego gives the order, “I do not wish to lose him but the mission first. We shall seek for him on our return. If we fail, losing him may have well saved his life.”
Ledego looks to the shoreline, which is flooded. He sighs, “It looks as if we will be trudging blindly through the swamp anyway.”
Breymeer gathers Southar to him and they take shelter among the three poles with the rubble to their back. Tarstar continues to dig around the bones and rubble near the poles, staying close enough to seek cover if needed.
Tarstar begins examining what appears to be a bone handle from a small weapons such as a dagger or knife.
Breymeer calls out to the early dawn, “We mean you no harm and may be able to help you. We only wish to find and kill these same slave takers and beasts that threaten your people. We can free you from this evil that holds the city. We come with the support of Horan. Come out to speak with us in peace and we will not raise a weapon.”
A quiet falls around you but you feel there are numerous eyes upon you.
Breymeer checks his pack and pouches, “I do not think I have the language potion.” He keeps looking but does not find it, remembering Cirdan Saralonde was the last one to have it.
Southar keeps an eye out to the surrounding rubble piles, “We are not alone here. I can feel there is something more out there other than that great caterpillar beast.”
Tarstar continues to examine the bone handle he found.
The bird chirps, squawks and other new animal yips increase in frequency and volume. You can hear them all around you. They seem to be within a few hundred feet of you now.
Tarstar suddenly gives a little dance. Somehow he has triggered something on the bone handle and a blade shoots forth from the end of the handle and latches into place. The blade curves like the handle itself, almost appearing like a cross between a dagger and a sickle. The blade is made of metal, yet it is not rusted and appears very sharp.
Grimlock the rat bites into the twisted man’s hand. He grimaces with pain and grunts to the rat as he stuffs it into the sack and ties it closed. To Grimlock’s horror, the beastman shoves the sack under the water grunting to the rat in a chastising way.
The distorted man suddenly stops, his attention drawn elsewhere. Grimlock begin to try and chew on the sack but quickly realize this may take too long. As he starts to black out, the man withdraws the bag slowly from the water. Before Grimlock completely comes around, he feels another needle like poke into his back.
The rat recoils quickly from the injection. It begins to feel foreign. Its limbs begin to tingle. It chews frantically at the bag but only receives a rough shake of the bag. The tingle chases into its body. The rat fights off the feeling drawing on its inner strength. Somehow, the rat, feeling ill, is able to overcome the paralysis. Realizing the intent of the disfigured man, the rat goes limp pretending it is paralyzed and at the whim of the disfigured man.
Cirdan looks to Ide Otneaux, “Ide, would you kindly lead us through the swamp? Keep the shoreline close on your left side.”
Ide Otneaux puts her spear in her right hand and takes out the long sword in her left hand. She begins to weasel her way through the swamp growth, hacking only when she must to keep the noise down.
Ledego falls in second, no weapon in hand.
Cirdan Saralonde comes in third, still holding both his daggers.
Grom comes next with his battleaxe out.
Tanin is the last one, holding his loaded crossbow.
Ide Otneaux leads the group carefully through the swamp grass. She keeps within fifty feet of the lake where the vegetation stops and open water continues.
The group has moved about 300 or so feet east of the trail when Ide Otneaux suddenly stops moving and tightens her grip on her weapons.
Ide Otneuax whispers over her shoulder, “Something is not right. I cannot place it but I thought I caught a smell. We are not alone! Be ready to defend yourselves.”
Breymeer makes sure the golden tablet is easily accessible and says, “Get ready my friends. If whatever is out there doesn’t like us, then they’re helping the slave taking bastards and it’s our lucky day. We get to slaughter ‘em.”
Southar nocks and arrow but keeps his bow low and unthreatening.
Tarstar is able to retract the blade of the bone handled dagger. He stows the new weapon and draws out his cutlass.
The trio waits quietly as daylight slowly fights with the clouds. It is the dull great of daybreak.
They begin to see movement. Over many tense minutes they can see, first a few, then a dozen, and then a score of twisted, distorted looking man-creatures moving in around the adventurers from both sides of the street.
They have no doubt they are surrounded.
Most appear armed with clubs and cudgels. Some have rusty swords. A few are seen taking up positions nearby in elevated positions. Those have ominous looking blowguns. The animal cries continue. The sounds are being made by these wild men with grotesque features, appendages of differing lengths, bulbous eyes, etc.
They move in slowly and cautiously. They move with surprising agility considering their appearance.
The wild man moves slowly through the swamp. Grimlock is guessing he is sneaking along.
Within a few minutes, the sounds of the water turn to sloshing wet ground. Quickly it becomes solid ground and the rat deciphers he is moving west along a city street. By the way the creature is moving, it appears it is dodging in and out of buildings and moving from positions of cover.
At one point, it grunts excitedly and drops the sack. The rat quickly figures out the top is bound so it goes about trying to continue to chew a hole.
The rat has made a weak spot in the sack. Through the tiny hole, the rat can see dawn is upon them.
The hunter picks up the sack again, unbinds it, and drops in a very dead giant centipede. It is nearly two feet long.
The hunter continues moving. Nearly ten to fifteen minutes have passed since the rat’s capture.
Cirdan whispers. “Anyone have any suggestions. I think we should all be very quiet and wait for several minutes to see if they attackers grow bored or concerned and spring their trap early, or give themselves away.” Cirdan strains his elf ears to hear.
A sudden rush of water and movement in the reeds gives you fair warning of the incoming attack. Many in the group have seen it before. A frogman’s hopping charge.
Several of the frogmen with turtle shells growing out of their backs come hop charging into the group. The moving reeds give away the movement of others trying to flank you on the right side (the side away from the lake, in other words, trapping you between them and the lake).
Southar looks to his companions, “With this many around us it looks like we should try parlay. Hopefully these are the allies we will have versus the slavers.”
Breymeer rises up and raises his hand in peace and steps forward, "We wish not to harm you and are here to help and bring message from Horan." Breymeer then utters under his breath, “I sure hope someone understands.”
Very much a surprise, a voice returns to you in a broken form of your common language, “You talk (pause) (unknown word). Come. Talk . . . chief. No hurt sticks.”
Grimlock the rat analyzes his situation. He is unable to reach through the sack to pick up dust for a sleep spell. He cannot reach the ground. Not wanting to make a noise, the rat does not attempt to speak. Its mind is processing like normal but speech appears unlikely. At least human speech. Things are not looking good. Grimlock focuses back to the task as hand. He begins slowly nibbling on the small hole he has created in the sack.
The creature has continued to bob and weave its way through the city.
The rat can tell the storm is nearly passed and dawn is coming. He can see dull grey light through the hole in the sack. The man appears to be moving in and out of buildings. It moves along the edge of the street for short distances. As a thief, you admire its skill at hiding and sneaking.
<Additional players prepare to add their characters to the adventure>
The characters are dropped in as part of the storyline. They belonged to a previous adventuring party that entered the city. That group had also included Tarstar and Grom. Also included in this group is Aratheas, as described in the module. Note: I stolen the Moonshae Isles from Forgotten Realms as have placed them in the eastern oceans beyond the Spindrift Isles a ways.
The new characters are:
Aratheas, elf female, mage, Lv 6 (NPC)
Ewan McDermott, human (Ffolk, Moonshae Isles) male, druid, Lv 3
Siobhon, human female (Ffolk), thief, Lv 3, (NPC, associate of Ewan)
Tathar Surion, elf male, Priest of Sehanine, Lv 3
Kuba Cyvlorandau, human male (Dullstrand), Fighter, Lv3
Mandellay Muffintops "Speck", Halfling male, Thief, Lv 3, Associate of Kuba
The sounds of animal cries breaks the quiet dawn. The wild men are becoming very active in the common tent area. Several dozen of them arm themselves and move out of the entrance into the greater city.
Those characters living among the wild men awake. This type of behavior seems to occur when the compound may be threatened.
Tathar Surion, a male elf, suits up in armor and grabs his weapons. He appears to be some type of mystic. He is very pale but has the habit of rubbing ash on his face to darken it. He leaves the area around his eyes and they stand out like two moons. He is very quiet. It takes him a few moments to gather his gear and the group gets out a little ahead of him. No one is really too sure where this elf came from other than he joined the adventure back at Duxchan.
Kuba Cyvlorandau, a male human sellsword type, follows the wild men out of the compound. He is a little ahead of the elf Tathar Surion in his exit.
‘Speck’ as the male halfling is called, remains at the camp. He and Kuba Cyvlorandau arrived to the group together at Duschan and stayed together since. It is obvious they are friends. They came from the Dullstrand Coast across the small sea from Hepmonoland. Just the other side of the Lordship of the Isles.
Ewan McDermott, a human male (Celtic type), and his companion, a female human (Celtic type) named Shiobvon (‘Shivon’), hail from the Mooshae Isles. The isles are far to the east across leagues and leagues of ocean. They appear close to nature. What brought them to the area is unknown but they joined the expedition at Duxchan. Their kind are known as the Ffolk by the elves of the Moonshae Isles. Shiobvon shares a shelter with Ewan McDermott.
Aratheas, the female elf mage, too, had joined the expedition at Duxchan. She has been trying to organize an expedition out of the city but so far no serious attempts have been made. She has made it clear she does not wish to stay here any longer than necessary. The wild men fear Aratheas magic and it has been in large part why they have allowed you to stay unmolested. Aratheas tends to put blame on others and not take responsibility for her mistakes. She is, however, a very capable mage. Besides, all elves can be hard for others to understand. She just seems to have more of a chip on her shoulder than most elves.
Neither of the females come out of their respective areas.
Ewan McDermott remains near the expedition’s camp but is watching as the commotion exits camp.
The first wave of frog men comes streaking into the ranks of orc, elf and dwarf.
The first enters the front of the group, airborne and dropping in on Ide Otneaux. She braces her spear into the ground in defense. The creature points its spear at her at it tucks into an attack, spear forward and shield ahead of it. Ide’s spear find a hole and the frogman impales itself upon her spear. It croaks (sorry, couldn’t resist).
The second, third and fourth frogmen leaps in similar to the first. Their targets are the elves. Cirdan Saralonde touches his thumbs together and spreads his fingers apart while chanting an incantation. Flames shoot forth from his hands in a large arc ahead of him engulfing all three frogmen. All are burned critically, dying as they land. Unfortunately, Ledego is forced to take an evasive step to avoid being hit by one of the burned corpses. Ledego is able to avoid the first corpse but the second one slams him in the chest. Ledego is knocked over into the nearly two foot deep water. He resurfaces unharmed but loses whatever action he intended to take. The swamp grass near Cirdan Saralonde was still very wet from all the recent rain. It hisses and steams but does not catch fire.
The final hop charging frogman attempts to impale one of the dwarves. It misses and lands among them. Grom swings his battleaxe at it cutting off its left arm at the shoulder. The axe buries itself in its chest. The creature is knocked into the swamp water in a bloody heap. Tanin takes aim at the movement in the swamp grass and fires his crossbow gut shooting one of them. It drops into the swamp water in a painful death spasm.
A second volley of hop charging frogmen flies in towards the group. These are also armed with spear and shield.
Breymeer, a large Suel looking man, looks to Tarstar and Southar, “I think we can recruit these warriors by offering freedom from the city or Horan’s friendship and removal of the yuan-ti if they chose to stay. Horan said they should know about Tarstar’s associates.”
Breymeer steps from your defensive position. Southar, another human male appearing Oridean, and Tarstar cautiously follow.
The group is quickly surrounded by over two dozen wild men. They keep their arms but do not displace hostility. They begin walking you west down the avenue away from the three poles and towards the 90 degree curve to the south.
At the curve, you pass by a human male. He appears to be Oridean with possible some mixed racial traits. Tarstar speaks, “That is Kuba Cyvlorandau. He was in the group I travelled with.”
Kuba Cyvlorandau watches the group of wild men push you past his location. He too appears to recognize Tarstar. How could he not with Tarstar’s odd tattoos upon his head; two parallel lines moving from the back of his head to his forehead where they turn outward and angle down towards the outside corner of his eyebrows.
The wild men move you into a section of rubble to the south of the 90 degree curve on the west side of the road. You would have guess the area was just another section of ruined buildings until you entered the area. It is a cleverly disguised compound.
At the entrance of the compound, you pass by a very strange looking elf. The elf is dressed in splint mail armor and carries a quarter staff in his hand and a long bow on its shoulder. Strangely, it’s pale face is darkened with ash save its eyes which glow like two moons.
Tarstar points him out, “And that is Tathar Surion. He is some type of elvish mystic. He doesn’t speak much. He also was in our expedition.” Tathar watches Tarstar pass without a word or much of a facial expression at all.
They move you along the north end of the compound to a large area that can only be described as a poverty ridden tent city. Now, scores of wild men and equally ugly wild woman and children, all genetically mutated from being crossbred and inbred too many times, surround you and begin to chant.
One of them looks to you and says in your common language, “We call Chief!”
The rat can hear a commotion ahead and the wild man picks up his pace; heading towards the noise.
Nervous, the rat risks a bit more aggressive chewing. The small hole has grown large enough for the rat to get peaks out of the sack. As the commotion rises to the sound of a large crowd, the rat steals a look.
Outside, the rat sees the wild man move from the street into a compound of some type.
Panic sets in as the rat realizes he has been brought back to the wild man’s camp. There are dozens upon dozens of weird twisted wild men and woman moving about. There appears to be some type of focus in the middle of the group among some type of tent city inside the compound. The rat’s capture brings the rat into the middle of the throng. The rat, seeing death closing in, risks all and chews frantically at the hole. No one seems to notice.
The wild man appears to be very interested in the activity and moves deep into the chaos. It does not seem to notice a hole has been chewed in the sack.
The wild men continue to move you to the far west side of the compound. While doing so, you realize that several of them appear to have picked items off of your persons. A dagger here, a pouch there, most of the items have been fleeced without your witness or knowledge. You are unable to take inventory as you are pushed along. You do, however, keep a tighter grip on your belongings.
The rain has stopped. The clouds are starting to thin and the wind continues to wane. Dawn is well on its way and visibility is normal.
There is an area built into the western wall (#3 on camp map) where the wild men appear to do their cooking. There are hanging carcasses of snakes, rats, turtles, etc. along with some dried fruits. There are numerous kettles, pots as so forth on a couple different fire pits. Low fires are burning in the pits. The smell from this area is less than desirable although the whole of the camp generally stinks.
The crowd at the tent city has circled the group completely. They are not threatening harm and have given the trio about five feet of space around them. Breymeer, Southar and Tarstar each take inventory of their missing items. Breymeer is missing a dagger and scabbard and the sap he had found. He is also missing the small pouch that contained a few gems recovered from a previous encounter with the frogmen. Southar is missing the pouch of coins he received as his share of the treasure from the encounter with the bugbears in the jungle on the way to the city. Southar is also missing is small sack of gems. While going through the crowd, Tarstar was sad to note the lack of weight on his belt. The large sack of silver pieces has disappeared.
You are somewhat unsettled by the appearance of four large poles nearby. They are very similar to the poles you saw the bugbear corpse tied to outside the compound. For now, the wildmen do not seem intent on tying you up.
The crowd is obviously excited but are not speaking your common language. The human identified as Kuba has moved up and taken a position nearby. He watches quietly. He appears to have been joined by a halfling. For a moment, it appears as if Berry Hairycheeks has returned. Then, upon closer inspection, hope fades and it becomes obvious this is not Hairycheeks.
Southar points the halfling out to Tarstar who replies, “That is Kuba’s companion. He went by the name Speck.”
The odd looking elf appears to have blended into the crowd.
The commotion continues for many long minutes. It is finally broken as a cheer goes up towards the center of camp near where a couple stone buildings are located. There, the crowd is parting and several people are coming towards you.
The leader is one ugly creature. He stands nearly seven feet tall and is very stout, being built like an ogre. He must be pushing 300 pounds. He is covered in scars and only patches of hair dot his head. He has a very flat nose. His ears are somewhat dog shaped and appear pinned back to his head. A wispy beard and mustache cover some of his hideous face.
In his hand, the leader has an enormous hammer. Moradin, the dwarven deity, would be impressed with this hammer. The hammer is made of a large stone wedged tightly on the end of a large branch.
Walking around the leader are four guards. Each is of impressive size, equally ugly and distorted. They also carry weapons. They have a great flail, a two handed sword, a great axe and the last one has a shield and a morning star.
All five of them wear mismatched armor consisting mainly of scale or splint mail. The armor, although unappealing, appears to offer significant protection.
As all five approach, the crowd continues to part ahead of them until they stand about ten to fifteen feet from you. The four guards take positions between you and the leader.
Finally, a small man appears from the five. He was obviously following them but was too small to see. He is smaller than the average wild man. He wears rags and has a wild look in his good eye. He appears mainly human but very old. He has a long wrinkled face and a large forehead.
One of his eyes appears dead.
The mystic man stops alongside the leader and says nothing.
The leader looks the trio of adventurers over.
The rat is bounced and jammed as its captor moves quickly through the crowd. Without warning, the sack containing the rat is tossed roughly on the ground. The rat can smell death. Looking carefully out the hole, the rat can see it has been tossed on the ground close to a fire pit that yet smolders.
Not waiting to see if it is next on the menu, the rat makes a dash out of the hole in the sack. The sack tears as the rat gains its freedom. Not pausing to look, the rat runs forward and dives behind some rubble.
The rat finds itself in an area maybe 30 feet by 20 feet (#3). It is obviously an area where food is stored and cooked for the camp. It is on the west side of the camp. There is an area, about 10 feet wide, leading from here towards all of the chaos in the main tent area (#2). Whatever is happening in the tent area has drawn all of the wildmen away from here.
The second attack wave focuses mainly at the rear of the group. The dwarves take the brunt of the incoming charge.
The first attacker misses Tanin, landing next to him as Tanin is putting away his crossbow and pulling out his mace. The second attacker is able to pierce Tanin’s armor with its spear, hitting him near the groin (10, 8/24).
The third attacker misses Grom but the fourth stabs him in the left thigh (6, 20/26).
Tanin swings his mace wildly at one of the frog beasts. He misses and gets his mace tangled in the swamp grass.
Grom tries to cover for the other dwarf. Grom swings his axe overhead downward into one’s shoulder, cutting deep into its chest. I collapses under the blow as its life fades away.
The final attack comes to the front of the line directly at Ide Otneaux. The bipedal frog hop charges towards her but she is able to sidestep it. She swings her axe cutting through the heavy grasses. The axe deflects off the creature’s shield.
Cirdan Saralonde, seeing an opportunity, attacks to the rear. He buries his first dagger deep into the back of the creature’s neck. The powerful elf’s blow crumples the creature just as Cirdan’s second dagger bounces harmlessly off the creatures shell.
Ledego maintains his position in the middle of the group and monitors the situation. He appears to have dug out a few spell components.
Cirdan Saralonde daggers his second victim. He buries the dagger into its leg catching the major artery. The frogman tries to get an attack in but Cirdan skillfully parries the blows. The frog drops from loss of blood and dies.
Tanin rips his mace free. His swing is swiftly ducked. Fortunately for Tanin, the creatures spear deflects off his armor.
Grom pulls his axe out of the frog corpse in time to block an incoming spear point. He swings back but misses.
Up front, Ide Otneaux and her attacker go after each other with no effective blows; churning up mud and grass in the melee.
A third wave of frog men hop charge into the scene. Two of them are going after the elves but Ledego’s prepared spell catches them in mid-flight. A string of webs shoots forth from his hands entangling them both. They crash down into the swamp, bound tight.
Ide Otneaux now has a second attacker. She seems to still be holding her own well enough.
At the rear, the dwarves and Cirdan Saralonde are joined by another attacker. This one is able to strike Tanin in the lower back, piercing his armor and striking flesh (8, 0/24). Tanin gives out a cry and falls limp face down into the water his armor pulling him down.
At the rear of the group, Cirdan Saralonde sheaths one of his daggers and rushes over to Tanin and hoists his body out of the water. While doing so, one of the creatures takes a poke at Cirdan Saralonde with its spear. The spear seems to deflect away as if it had struck armor instead of clothing.
The creature stares wide eyed in shock. With a quick hop, it exits the battle into the tall swamp grass still steaming from the previous fire attack.
Grom raises his axe to the remaining frog creature. It pokes Grom in the head first cutting a gash on his cheek (5, 15/26). The blow causes Grom to flinch badly and his swing comes down off the mark. The creature easily blocks it with its shield.
At the front of the battle, Ide Otneuax also takes a cut to the face (1, 16/35) and a deeper injury to her left leg (5, 11/35). Her return attack flies wide of the mark and slashes down into the water.
Ledego begins to dig in his pack for something as the creatures begin to croak with renewed vigor.
Ledego shouts, “We mustn’t lose now! Fight my friends. Defeat the bullywugs!”
<Tanin continues to bleed out (1, -1/24)>
Cirdan Saralonde looks for somewhere to safely rest Tanin somewhere near
Grom, “Please ask Brightmantle if he will help him.”
Ledego moves over and supports Tanin for Cirdan Saralonde. Ledego has a vial in his hand. He tries to get some of the potion down Tanin’s throat.
Cirdan Saralonde covers the action the best he can by daggering the bullywug next to him as he draws out his second dagger and begins slicing with it as well. His first dagger cuts a bullywug deeply across the abdomen spilling its entrails and dumping it dead into the swamp water.
The remaining bullywug at the rear of the group hops off into the safety of the swamp grass.
At the front of the column, Ide Otneaux’s woes continues as she tries in vain to get a good swing in with her axe. Her vertical swing is once again adeptly ducked. The bullywug facing her takes advantage of the situation and attempts to spring up and hop into the grass. It misjudges the speed at which she can recover her axe. She allows the momentum of the axe to continue behind her and then changes the swing to an overhead downward chop. It catches the bullywug as it hops up to retreat. The blow from the great axe severs the creature in half down the middle.
Ledego gets the entire contents of the potion into Tanin. He immediately opens his eyes and the majority of his injuries start to heal, fade or disappear altogether (18, 17/24). Tanin is disoriented but alive.
Ledego gives the second vial to Ide Otneaux, “Without you, I am afraid we will be at a great disadvantage. Please, I would be greatly relieved if you will take and drink this.”
Ide Otneaux, obviously in pain and nearing exhaustion, takes the vial, gives a thank you nod to the group and quaffs the contents entirely (17, 28/35). Like Tanin, her injuries fade to minor scratches if not healed completely.
Ledego looks to Cirdan Saralonde, "What are the odds the escaped bullywugs are going to stay quiet about us being here in the swamp."
Speck, seeing items taken from the newcomers, moves into the crowd in order to try and track the offenders or at least see where the items have been taken.
Breymeer and Southar both address the leader.
Breymeer speaks first, "We come in peace and wish only to talk. Our group came here to kill Yuan-Ti and seek your council as to where the worthless scum can be found. We had gifts to offer you, meager though they were, that have been taken."
Southar speaks next, “I look to enlist help in killing slavers. I have a great hatred for all slavers . . . “
The leaders interrupts Southar as he clears his throat loudly to speak.
Breymeer says quietly over his shoulder to his companions, “If they're pro Yuan-Ti then we're f**ked and the only positive is we get to take a bunch of them out before we die. I knew I should have gotten some whiskey.”
The leader addresses you in a relatively fluent form of your common language, “You shall hear the great history of our people before you address me.”
The mystic looking Wildman approaches and speaks to you. He speaks sing-song in broken common, animal cries and other vocalizations. The crowd becomes very somber (think of a crowded NFL stadium during the Pledge of Allegiance) and quiet. The area becomes still other than the dying wind. The clouds are thinking and it almost appears the light of day is trying to break through to shine upon this mystic.
His tale is one of ridiculously heroic actions of his people and the development of their compound. It continues on and on and on . . .
Speck is able to trail one of the thieves through the crowd despite being at a height disadvantage. His low stature gives him quicker movements through the crowd but his visibility is very limited. Speck realizes the thief is making a wide arc towards the stone building that serves as the chief’s shelter.
Kuba Cyvlorandau slowly shifts his way through the crowd. During the tale, Kuba arrives at the front row of the wildmen where he stops and patiently waits for the tale to end.
The mystic continues his sing song tale for nearly a half an hour. Sensing the importance of this tale to this people, you all patiently and respectfully wait for the mystic to stop speaking.
When he finally finishes, you have learned of the history of this people. They were originally slaves of the long forgotten occupants of the city. The slaves banded together and survived as they city decayed and was inhabited by numerous races and monsters. The tale speaks of great battles with these other races and monsters. It speaks of the occupation and defense of the NW corner of the city and the collection of the wildmen under their great leaders. The tale speaks of more recent battles with bugbears, bullywugs and yuan-ti. Those they capture they sacrifice to their “gods” by tying them to the posts outside the city.
At the end of the tale, the chieftain speaks to the group, “You must be worthy of aid before I give any. One of you will fight me. There are rules. No witchcraft, no aid, no rest, no armor, no weapons. If you win, we talk. If I win, you will be sacrificed to our gods. If you refuse to fight, you will be sacrificed to our gods. Which one will fight?”
Grimlock spies a good observation point. A column appears to have broken off nearly 10 feet from its base. The remains of the column marks the southern edge of the entrance to this cooking area. A low wall rises out of the rubble and butts up to the broken column.
The rat, using his natural stealth and learned elusiveness, moves quickly into the rubble and invisibly up onto the low wall and out to the column. It is able to sneak to the edge of the column and overlook the scene before it.
Grimlock eyes the sky keeping a keen look out for birds of prey and other such nastiness. Below him, the events continue to play out.
Cirdan Saralonde answers Ledego, “I suppose there is no help for it. We are close to the entrance of the lair, and if we survive in there, we will probably face an ambush when we return. We either continue, trusting our gods and maybe a little luck, or we retreat and save our necks.”
Tanin remains groggy but is quickly regaining his strength. Ledego looks relieved Tanin is recovering.
Ledego looks very serious as he addresses the group, “My friends, with the exception of Ide Otneaux, and myself to some degree, you are all long lived. You have many years ahead of you. Ide Otneaux and I will have long passed before any of you reach old age. Therefore, I question the wisdom in continuing our saga.”
Ledego pauses and continues, “Gouthogg stole two chests off the Nir Nen before sinking it. Grimlock and Peylae recovered the third. They contained some valuables. Most importantly, they contained our spellbooks. My abilities have been greatly weakened at their loss. I deeply wish to get them back but they are not irreplaceable. I have an associate that may help me recover my losses. He lives on the Spindrift Isles; sometimes called The Lendore Isles.”
“According to Horan,” Ledego appears to be thinking outloud now, “if we complete either task, he will transport us to the basecamp and we are free to sail out of the Pelissio Swamp. From there we can quickly get to Restenford on the southern Spindrift Isles.”
Ledego finishes his thoughts, “So, my friends, I wish not to lead you unto your death for such material things as I have lost when we have other options. Noble Saralonde is correct in saying that even if we survive the lair, we will have likely have an ambush awaiting our exit. What is your vote? Should we continue on to Gouthogg’s lair or try to reaquire the other group and assist in clearing the warehouse?”
Cirdan Saralonde, who Ledego has grown to trust, speaks first, “I must confess that the vast majority of me wants to enter the lair and come out again with treasure and the tale of the adventure! But the state we are in tells me that discretion is the better part of valor. It is near madness to tempt fate in the face of a Black Dragon with the best of plans, and we are poorly prepared indeed. While I do not fear death and understand that another adventure awaits me when I depart this plane, I am not ready to move on. Ledego, will you return here with me? Ide? Tanin? Grom?” he addresses each in turn, “I wish to enter, but not today. Let us depart, plan, prepare and return.”
Ide Otneaux answers, “I fear not death but do not wish to give up to it today. I would like to leave this swamp. We can discuss a return over some strong ale in a more confortable place. Let us leave.”
Tanin is still a big groggy but answers, “Seeing what the dragon did to the Nir Nen, I would rather come back more prepared.”
Grom, being Grom, just listens and only nods in response.
Ledego gives the command, “Very well, let us backtrack to the main road. While doing so, keep your eyes out for the rat we know as Grimlock. Once to the main road, double back to where we split from the others. We will have to try and trace their steps to the north.”
Dawn has arrived and visibility has increased. The sun is yet behind the clouds and it is windy but visibility in the swamp has increased.
The group sloshes and mucks its way back along the shoreline to the trail. There, they turn south until they stand on dry ground among the massive columns that mark the entrance and exit to the city. The group has not seen any sign of Grimlock, or any rat for that matter.
The group begins to head back west.
Speck moves with a halfling’s stealth among the ruins and positions himself. The thieves are making their way from the tent area (#2) to the opening that leads to the leader’s compound (area #5). When the leader appears, they stop and stand with respect. Speck sees his chance and moves in on the thief he had been tailing. With all attention on the leaders, Speck’s movements are unseen. Speck slips in next to the thief and sees he has a crocodile skinned pouch with small lumps inside. He quietly but quickly slices a small hole in the pouch allowing two gems to fall into his hand. One, an amber (500 gp +/-) and the other a turquiose (10 gp +/-).
He skillfully palms them and begins his return to the group apparently undetected as the mystic begins his tale.
During the epic tale, Ewan McDermott, the human male from the Moonshae isles, stops attending to his bugs and other various animals he has been caring for within his small enclosure. Shiobhon, his pretty human female travelling companion, comes out of the hole in the rubble that has served her as home for the last year. She helps Ewan up as he has trouble doing so on his own; being over six feet tall and an obese 400 pounds. Ewan has helped Kuba, Speck, the moon faced elf and the elf witch maintain relations with the wild men. For as much as the wild men fear the elf witch, they cherish Ewan’s healing abilities. Ewan and Shiobhon move counterclockwise around the chief’s compound and stand on the north end of the large circle of wild men that encompass Breymeer, Southar and Tarstar. They say nothing but monitor the activity.
The location of the moon faced elf is unknown. Barely speaking to anyone, he may have gone back to the small section of rubble just south of where the Moonshae humans, or Ffolk as they call themselves, stay (far SE corner of map J). There, the elf, Kuba and Speck have their respective shelters. The elf witch, Aratheas, needed her solitude and a dry space for her spell-work, demanded and received the enclosed building (area #4).
Aratheas, the elf witch, also comes out during the ceremony and stands just to the south of the chieftan’s hut. There, while the mystic is speaking, she slowly rises into the air, stopping about 20 feet above the ground. Aratheas wears brown pantaloons and an ivory, tight fitting shirt. Both have multiple pockets and folds upon them. A light brown cloak drapes off her back. She has a leather belt that holds a dagger in a sheath and a two foot rod made of hickory and having a small bulb shaped metal tip. Upon her head is a golden headpiece that holds a ruby centered upon her forehead.
Towards the end of the epic tale, Speck re-appears next to Kuba. Kuba has been watching the newcomings. He appears to be trying to size them up; maybe hoping they can win this fight.
Tarstar looks to Southar and Breymeer, “I think either of you are more suited for this little scrum.”
Southar pulls the cover off of his golden shield with the cobra head design. Southar boldly says to the chieftan, “We are proven slayers of the slave taking yuan-ti. This shield used to adorn their temple. We sacked the temple, slaying all of the vile creatures inside. If fight we must, so be it, but we came here to seek your aid not to fight with you.”
Breymeer volunteers himself for the battle, “Bring it on if we must!”
“Maybe you lie about temple. We fight. No lie in fight. You then,” the chieftan points at Breymeer, “You fight me.”
As the chieftan and Breymeer begin to strip themselves of weapons and armor, the chieftan flexes his great muscles and jeers at Breymeer. The chieftan appears he will easily destroy this smaller bearded human from the north country.
After the armor and weapons are removed, Southar and Tarstar are pulled back from the ring. An area of about twenty feet is cleared and the combatants face each other. Breymeer, strangely unafraid and confident, faces down the gorilla of a man-creature.
Tensions rise and the wild men begin making all kinds of nose. The fight is on the cust of breaking out when Aratheas can be seen moving and speaking in arcane ways. She obviously cast another spell. Her height and the sound of the crowd of wildmen prevents most from even noticing. There is no obvious fireworks or similar wizardly works. However, the chieftain’s shoulder suddenly slump, his posturing becomes fluid and his eyes have a flash of panic.
Breymeer reacts to the sudden fear in the wildman’s eyes. Like a wild animal, Breymeer gives a blood curtling war cry, spit flying from his mouth, as he charges the orge of a man. Without slowing, the bearded berserker swings his fist into the chieftain’s face. Slow to react, the blow draws blood from the chieftain’s nose and lips as the chieftan drops to his knees. Lethargic, the chieftan didn’t even get his fists up.
As the chieftain’s knees hit the ground, Breymeer is around him like a cat. He pounches upon him and wraps the chieftain up in a choking headlock. Breymeer is barely able to get his arms around its thick neck but he holds on for dear life.
The chieftan reaches his hands up in a desparate attempt to get air. He leans forward and tries to stand bringing Breymeer to his tiptoes. Not wanting to lose his advantage, Breymeer squeezes for all he is worth; a wild look in his eyes. For several tense moments, the two teeter back and forth each trying to break the other. Finally, the cheiftain’s brain runs out of oxygen and he collapses face down onto the wet, muddy soil.
The four body guards of the chieftain run out and turn him over, trying to wake him. Breymeer tells Southar and Tarstar, “Ger the tablet for me! And watch that passed out giant in case he wakes up angry and unwilling to honor his agreement.”
Tarstar quickly relays the tablet to Breymeer who holds it up and says to the mob, “Enough of this fighting amongst us! I’ve come with the help of Horan and wish to help you rid the city of slavers. What say you?”
Overhead, Aratheas continues her arcane dialog and movements.
As Breymeer raises the tablet, the four body guards begin to tremble and cower in fear. The front ranks of wild men behind them fall back or drop to their knees quaking.
Grimlock, the rat quickly surveys the top of the column, finding nothing reflective. The elf witch appears busy anyway. Spellcraft tells Grimlock she has now cast some type of scare or fear spell.
Hidden away from the others, Tathar begins to meditate seeking knowledge as to how these newcomers will affect future events. Tathar receives a vision. Moonbeams pierce a clouded sky and darkness is pushed back and held at bay. The very next moment, out of Tathar Surion’s sight, the giant leader of the wild men falls face first down into the mud.
Ide Otneaux moves the group west along the north side of the road. She keeps to the buildings, moving slow and cautiously. The light of dawn has fallen upon the city though the clouds keep a hold on the sky. The storm has broke and the cloud cover is weakening. The wind yet blows but moderately. A few birds even dare flight now.
The group is able to make several blocks and arrives back to where the other group travelled north. Ide guides the group up the eastern side of the street in similar fashion.
Ide Otneaux moves up the first block. There is nothing outstanding of notice on this block. It is obvious the group is moving towards a poorer section of the city.
The group crosses the intersection and begins to move up the next block. Of note at the end of this block, is a destroyed section of building. The entire SW corner of the intersection, now about 400 feet ahead of you, has collapsed. Approximately 100 square feet of the building is in ruins.
The group moves up the roadway. As they are passing by the ruins, they perceive movement. The group is not alone. Something appears to be sneaking up to the perimeter of the ruins (now just to your left or west).
The group is on the eastern side of the roadway, moving alongside the building there.
Breymeer extends a hand to the chieftan as he comes to. The fear that had befallen the chief and his crew suddenly disapates. The chieftan, still groggy and confused, shows the north man a sign of respect, accepts his hand and is assisted up. His henchmen attend to him. Breymeer returns to Tarstar and Southar, giving Tarstar the tablet to hold. He begins to rearm as does the chief.
The crowd of wild men stands silent, stunned at the outcome of the fight. They wait silently for what will happen next.
Then, several things happen.
First, as Tarstar stows the tablet and begins a very energetic and enthusiastic gyrating dance, Kuba and Speck, step up to the trio. Kuba speaks to Tarstar, “Tarstar, we desire to leave this dump for more ‘fertile fields’ of action with potential glory and wealth. May we join you in your quest?”
As Kuba speaks to the dancing Tarstar, a rat, nearly two feet long, comes tumbling, hopping and running into the circle. It stands upright on its hind legs and mimics Tarstar’s dance. It stops dancing and it would appear it is waving and trying to get the group’s attention. Finally, it gives a wave and a wink at the elf witch. It is a peculiar sight indeed!
Maybe it because the place is in ruins, maybe it is because of the nearby stock of half rotten foot, or maybe it is due to the genetically mutated wild men living here. For whatever reason, the dancing two foot rat is all but ignored. It stops dancing and simple sits upright on its hind legs waiting for something. The wild men nearby appear to have noticed the strange rat and have slowly distanced themselves from such witchcraft.
The moon-faced elf approaches the group. His gait is incredibly smooth and fluid, even for an elf. He is now dressed in a black-loose fitting pull-over shirt and black pants and boots. He wears a black leather belt with silver moons and moonbows as a pattern all the way around. He carries a long composite bow and sheaf arrows on his shoulder and is walking with a quarter-staff.
Having overheard Kuba and Speck he says in a quiet, matter-of-fact voice, "I will come too. Sahanine will aid me in delivering you to the next plane if you die, or, if it pleases her, she will allow me to keep you on this plane for a bit longer. Here." He places a suit of splint mail armor at the feet of the group. "May it aid whomever needs it, when death comes calling."
He then simply stops talking and stands there, his eyes looking at the ground.
The obese Moonshae man and his female companion wait and watch quietly.
Breymeer gives a nearly imperceptible nod towards the elf witch. The witch winks in return as she decends back to the ground and walks towards the group; whether the wink was to Breymeer or the rat is unknown but both are convinced it was to them alone.
Breymeer appears pleased with the addition of Kuba, Speck and Tathar Surion to the group. With confidence, he addresses the chieftan, “We are here to free this city from the slave taking Yuan-Ti. You are a great and powerful warrior and I am confident that, with your help, we can free this city and your people can live free of tyranny. Finally, I ask that the items that were taken be returned to me and my comrades."
The chieftan appears to have recovered his strength after Breymeer’s attack, “You no get back gifts you gave to talk. I lost fight. Will fight with you to kill snake and bear men. I bring them to help.” The chieftan points towards the group of humans, elves and the halfling that have gathered to the trio of Breymeer, Southar and Tarstar. “When we go? I ready!”
A large bugbear walks from the rubble on the west side of the road. He appears unafraid. He comes out empty handed but does have a large flail and a throwing axe on his belt. For a bugbear, his armor appears in a bit better condition than others, consisting mainly of scale and splint mail pieces. The armor shows signs of previous combat. He has a necklace of what appears to be severed ears hanging from his neck. He starts across the street towards you. You can see no others in the rubble behind him but your experience with bugbears tells you there is likely others.
Cirdan whispers to Ledego, “See how the bugbear reacts to the tablets.”
To the dwarves he says, “Take a few steps back and be ready with your crossbows.”
Ledego removes the tablets and speaks boldly to the bugbear, “We are travel with the consent of Horan!”
The bugbear speaks back to you in common, “What brings elves, orcs and dwarves together, I must ask. What urgency brings this lot together?”
Cirdan Saralonde parlays, “We are here seeking companions who were last seen heading north on this street.”
The bugbear responds, “I have not heard of your group in this city. What brings you here? What are you doing now? Answer me and I may be able to help you.”
Ledego remains quiet but places a hand in his pocket.
Tanin and Grom take a few cautious steps backwards and eye the rubble for trouble.
Ide Otneaux wrings the handle of her axe with both hands.
The conversation continues with Cirdan Saralonde speaking, "Very well. We will parlay with you on the honor of your word. If you betray your word, one of us will die. We came to this city to aid the Suel you know as Horan. Our party was divided because of the evil Yuan Ti. Because they are slavers and evil, we intend to rid the city of their presence. Any information you have of other elves and humans in the city would be helpful. More help would be if you join us in our cause and help defeat the Yuan Ti."
Ledego is stowing the golden tablets when the bugbears begins to laugh a deep and cynical laugh, “You aid Horan to rid the city of yuan-ti? Horan leads the yuan-ti! What trickery do you bring upon me?”
The dwarves tighten their grip, never being a race that trusts bugbears. Ide Otneaux continues to measure him hands still wringing her axe.
Warehouse Crew -
Tarstar sits and waits for the group to organize, “All this dancing has me tired.”
Breymeer starts collecting up the armor Tathar placed on the ground, “"I believe this armor will protect me and if no one objects, I'll don it and lead our group into this battle.” As he is gathering up the pieces he continues, "What knowledge does anyone have about best time and location to strike against the evil yuan-ti?"
While kneeling down, Breymeer looks to the rat, “You are sure a strange little fella.”
As the elf witch, as the wild men call her, arrives at your location, the rat looks to her. The rat points at itself and then towards Breymeer and Southar. It then starts drawing strange symbols and runes into the muddy soil.
The chieftan answers Breymeer’s question, “Day is best to attack. Most are night movers. I ready.”
Breymeer looks at the rat, “This rat was once one of our group, no?”
The rat looks Breymeer in the eye and nods its head up and down as if saying ‘yes’. It pulls its arms up to its chest and crouches forward, moving slowly as if exaggerating being sneaky.
Breymeer questions the elf witch about the yuan-ti warehouse but she knows very little. Breymeer looks for the mystic but he is no longer within sight.
Breymeer speaks to the chief, “May I talk to the mystic. I would like to see if he could help on turning out rat friend back to normal.” The concept fails to be understood by the chieftan. He just looks at Breymeer confused. The chieftan points at the rat, “Food.”
Aratheas, the elf witch, understands Breymeers request and says to him, “His condition is beyond my help without research. From what I can tell of this mystic, you are probably wasting your time. They are a superstitious folk but I do not think the mystic has much magical abilities. As far as the warehouse, these people do not travel into that area of the city. There is too much activity for them from what I can tell.”
The chieftan points to the sky, “Cloud go. Get bright. We go then.” He and his bodyguards head back to his shelter. The rest of the crowd begins to go back about their business.
Aratheas begins to walk off towards her area, “The city sleeps during the day. The chieftan is correct about attacking with the sun out. It will give you the best advantage possible. Until you get inside the dark warehouse that it. I will join you only if it means a way out of the city once the warehouse has been cleared.” She doesn’t wait for a response, simply walking off.
The others head back to their respective shelters to prepare for the mission.
Cirdan Saralonde replies, "Horan leads the Yuan Ti because they are the most powerful group in the city. However, he loathes them. When we arrived on his shores, having escaped slavers onboard ship, he saw an opportunity. He does not intervene, but does not stop our crusade. Look at this tablet. Who do you think gave it to us to speak of our affiliation?" Cirdan Saralonde looks to Ledago to reproduce the tablet.
Ledego replies to Cirdan Saralonde in elvish, “Grimlock told me the letter you found in the yuan-ti temple was a correspondence between Horan and the yuan-ti reguarding the use of the Olman people as sacrafices. Horan is at least an accomplice at minimum. I know not his intentions as of yet.”
The bugbear growls at the use of elvish and then hisses, “You are being used!” The bugbear softens his tone, “Not unlike the rest of us.” It takes a slow breath, “Besides, the yuan-ti are not the most powerful group in the city. Gouthogg is!”
The bugbear studies each of you carefully, “Would you continue to serve Horan if there were a better way?”
Cirdan Saralonde questions, “We do not serve Horan, we are only biding our time until we can escape these jungles, and Horan has provided us with aid. We are agreed that Gouthogg is indeed the most powerful, but if there is a better way, we are willing to listen to all who speak honestly and without secrets."
Cirdan Saralonde continues, "I will start, to show our sincerity. We do not yet trust Horan, and have questioned his motives, but he is powerful and has shown us hospitality. We aid him now out of necessity and because he has, thus far been true to his word."
“What do you have to offer us on a better way?” Cirdan Saralonde concludes.
“Careful to trust him M’lad,” Tanin warns, “’tis folley to trust ‘em.”
Ledego eases Tanin, “Let us hear him out with some patience. But do not fear Tanin, my friend. Dwarves and elves alike mistrust such cunning speakers.”
“The wisdom of the elves. You are wise to mistrust him. And, dwarf, I do not doubt you mistrust me,” the bugbear smiles as he speaks. “We have been slaying each other’s kin since Moradin loosed you from the mountain forges.” You are gathering this bugbear is of greater intelligence than most you have encountered.
He continues with a very serious tone, “A battle for control of the city is boiling and my chief has continued to oath our tribe on the side of Horan. I do not believe our tribe is safe in that position. Horan will use us for shock troops and care not of our losses. Although trusting a dragon is a fool’s errand, I feel there is a better outlook for our tribe should the dragon prevail.”
The bugbear continues, “If you are truly out to stop the slaving of the yuan-ti, you must be against Horan. He has been using us and the yuan-ti for slaving raids against the Olman; taking prisoners and plundering them. Many are sacrificed. I am not sure where the others are taken.”
“What I say to you is true,” the bugbear appears honest in his tale.
“What is your name?” Cirdan Saralonde questions.
“Shruzgrap, they call me,” answers the bugbear.
“I am Cirdan,” replies Cirdan Saralonde, “Help us to understand. Horan himself has given us his blessing on a raid of the warehouse where the yuan-ti deal their slaves. He has given us provisions and has rather welcomed the attack. I have heard this with my own ears from Horan’s mouth. What has he to gain if what you say is true? I am not doubting you. I am suggesting that his plans may be more cunning.”
“Horan’s mind is unknown to me. I do not trust him. I do know if he is willing to eliminate the yuan-ti then he is willing to eliminate the bugbear. The power balance of the city is being tested. Without the yuan-ti around, Gouthogg appears to be Horan’s greatest and sole remaining threat.”
“Is Horan planning to attack Gouthogg?” asks Cirdan Saralonde.
The bugbear, Shruzgrap, looks at your group carefully for a while. He then answers, “I do not think he would confront the dragon directly. He would likely send others first to prevent a direct confrontation. Horan is very powerful but also very smart.”
Cirdan Saralonde questions Shruzgrap further, "Our party picked up some members of another party that may still be in the city. Do you know of them, their location or what may have happened to them?"
“There are a couple of elves and humans living among the freaks,” he points to the west-north-west. “The do not venture out often but it is rumored they are still there. The freaks keep trying to come into our territory. We fight them often,” he points to the necklace of fingers to accentuate his statement.
“You could weaken Horan’s influence in the city. I will not have the support of my tribe with our current leader, but, maybe you will be the ones to do this. Horan’s weak without his spellcraft. I will assist you in entering his compound and destroying or stealing his spellbooks, he will be at Gouthogg’s mercy. He will be forced to retreat from the city.”
Ledego looks to Cirdan Saralonde and speaks elvish, “If we do this, Peylae will be in danger when Horan finds out it is us. I am not sure how we could possibly warn them in time. Unless Horan was destroyed or we could get back to camp somehow. If I was able to get his spellbook, I could likely learn his teleporting spell; given enough time. If we do this, we need a backup plan on how to save Peylae. Unless we wait long enough and hope that she sets sail as I told her to do in the event I do not return. What is your input Noble Saralonde?”
Cirdan Saralonde responds, in elvish, to Ledego, “How long did you tell Peylae to wait before setting sail?” Ledego looks deflated and responds, still speaking elvish, “The next time Luna is full; nearly a month away.”
“Shruzgrap, in a moment, I will tell you of my Elvish conversation with my companion,” starts Cirdan Saralonde, “First, is there a more secluded place nearby that we may continue our conversation without being so conspicuous?”
Shruzgrap points to the northeast. There, a narrow alleyway leads off between some buildings. “There is a good area up here.”
He leads you up the alleyway alongside the triangle shaped building to your north. The end of the building is bisected by a walkway. He enters the walkway between the two triangle shaped buildings and turns to continue the conversation.
You follow the bugbear to the location and there Cirdan Saralonde says, “You make us an interesting proposal. One we cannot take lightly or pass on easily. Am I right in understanding that Horan has a compound within the city?”
“Yes, indeed he does. It is nearby, just two blocks to the south,” answers Shruzgrap.
“Then how do we know his spellbooks are there? And how are they guarded? And, finally, how would we know when Horan is absent from the compound?” continues Cirdan Saralonde.
“Where else would he keep them? As for the guards, he has several creatures within his gated compound; jungle animals and such. Once past them, it should be easy to enter the building. He has it designed of light materials. As for his absence, my reconnaissance tells me he is up to something. He has been coming and going often. I do not guarantee his location; he is a wizard afterall,” calculates the bugbear.
Cirdan Saralonde finishes with, “Why should we trust you?”
Shruzgrap grins a very toothy, and unnervingly evil, grin, “You shouldn’t. You are elvish and I am a selfish bugbear. But you can trust me as far as I will be entering with you and my fate will be shared with you. Now is your time to choose, will you stay sided with the wizard you do not trust and face the wrath of Gouthogg, or shall you defeat the wizard and gain the dragon’s favor?”
“Shruzgrap, for a bugbear, I like you. I do not trust you, as I am sure you do not trust us, but desperate times make for strange bedfellows. I do not believe that anything can win the favor of a Black Dragon.” Cirdan Saralonde looks over his companions trying to judge their impression of Shruzgrap. “My conversation with my companion discussed others of our party. Are you aware that Horan has another compound outside the city, nearly ten days travel through the jungle? It is quite possible his spellbooks are there, or that he has copies there. Members of our party are currently there, and if we fail or are caught by Horan, their lives are forfeit along with ours. I think it would be folly to believe that his compound is guarded by only jungle creatures. He is a wizard, and I would expect magical protections as well.”
Cirdan Saralonde looks to his companions, “What say you all?”
Ledego begins to speak in elvish, “Noble Saralonde, I have a nervous fear now. I have left the crew in Peylae’s care at the basecamp. They would in no way be able to defend themselves from Horan if he is indeed evil and using us. I must pray our deities will protect them and show her the way to safety. I am guessing they are in more danger now than I anticipated. We must find a way to get back as soon as possible. I fear we are being used by all.” Ledego switches to the common language, “If indeed Horan has protected himself by magic, I will test myself in the defeat of the defenses.” Ledego returns to elvish, “It concerns me why Horan would send us to Gouthogg’s lair and certain death unless he was trying to eliminate us or Gouthogg.”
Ide Otneaux says, “I have met others of your kind Shruzgrap. I know not what you are set to gain but I will slay all those who oppose our safe exit from this city.”
Grom appears to be praying.
Tanin chimes in, “It is early in the day yet. Maybe we can find our companions before nightfall and discuss with them.”
Shruzgrap offers, “Camp here if you wish. If you show no hostilities, I will ensure your safety. If you are deceitful, I will call you my enemy and set loose the hordes upon you. If you wish, send a runner to the freak camp to find you friends. Gain their confidence and bring them back to complete this task. You have until nightfall. I will return at dusk and tell you what I know. And Cirdan, you are right not to trust me for if you cross me, I will surely wear your ear as a trophy. Once this is done, I will hold no hostility towards you and you will be free to leave the city for this will be Gouthogg’s realm. If you do not wish to assist me, I suggest you leave the city immediately, for Gouthogg will know you as his enemies as will I.”
He turns to leave saying over his shoulder, “I know nor care not of Horan’s other compounds for Gouthogg certainly does. Gouthogg shall reign!”
Dragon crew –
Cirdan Saralonde says quickly to Ledego in Elvish, “You are tempted by the spellbooks aren’t you?” Ledego nods affirmation as Cirdan Saralonde continues, “I know I am.”
Cirdan Saralonde switches to common speech and says to the group in a quiet voice so that the bugbear does not hear, “I think the most prudent path is to find the other group, raid the warehouse if they haven’t already, explain to Horan why we did not raid the dragon’s lair and hope he is true to his word. Once transported back to his other compound, let us sail on. It is the safest path for your daughter and the rest of the group.”
To the departing bugbear, Cirdan Saralonde says, “We will all go to the compound of the freaks. There is safety in numbers. If we are going to raid Horan’s compound with you, we will return by dusk. If not, will not reveal you or your allegiance with Gouthogg to Horan. We will not betray you, even if we choose not to join you. We all must do what we can to survive.”
“Indeed we must,” is the bugbears reply.
He re-enters the ruins on the far side of the street as the group moves down the narrow street westward back to the main north/south street you were previously on. The party moves about 200 feet north to the intersection and heads west along the main road towards where the wild man compound is reportedly located.
The group returns to its careful movements along the north side of the street. It is obvious the father west you go, the poorer the quality of the construction becomes. Much of it is in ruin.
You continue in this fashion as you approach a turn in the street. Ahead of you, the roadway turns southward at a 90 turn. Prior to the turn, three poles are erected about 150 feet east of where the street turns to the south (marked J8 on the map). The poles dug into the ground. Each one is about ten feet tall and has a large metal ring set into it about seven feet off the ground. Around the area are various bits of bone. None of them appear to belong to a complete skeleton.
The clouds yet cover the sun; it will be a few hours before the sky clears. The wind continues to weaken and is nothing more than blowing moderately now. The rain has stopped. It is humid and once the sun comes out, it looks to get miserably hot.
As you approach the three posts, a monkey cry is heard nearby. It startles several birds as they call out in return.
Warehouse crew –
The clouds yet cover the sun; it will be a few hours before the sky clears. The wind continues to weaken and is nothing more than blowing moderately now. The rain has stopped. It is humid and once the sun comes out, it looks to get miserably hot.
After about 15 minutes after returning to your respective shelters, a series of animal cries raise the alarm for the compound. Again there is much commotion as wild men run to and fro.
Tathar Surion goes into a deep meditation seeking divine guidance for the upcoming mission.
Breymeer grabs his bow and sneaks to the opening of the wild man compound. Several wild men are sneaking and moving about taking covering and concealing themselves for possible ambush.
From his vantage point, Breymeer spies a small group moving along the street near the three sacrificial poles. Two elves, two dwarves and a half-orc. Had Breymeer not recognized them right away, he would have thought them an odd mix.
“Cirdan Saralonde, it is good to see all of you! But what has become of Grimlock?” Breymeer hails the group.
As if on cue, a rat scurries down the rubble from atop a nearby wall and comes scurrying up to Breymeer and the others. “I see you have survived Grimlock, assuming that is you!” Ledego smiles. The rat nods happily.
Breymeer kneels next to the rat, “Grimlock, I believe you could be a most wonderful scout if we can just figure out how to communicate with you. Stay near me and I will protect you as best I can.”
They move into the compound and gather the in the little corner. Introductions are made between Ledego’s crew and the members of the adventuring party that entered the city with Tarstar and Grom.
Cirdan Saralonde and Ledego share some gathered information with the combined adventuring parites. They tell the group of a bugbear named Shruzgrap that parlayed with them. Shruzgrap suggested the group join ranks with Gouthogg and raid Horan’s compound to steal his spellbooks. Horan’s whereabouts are unknown and it is uncertain if he would be at the compound during any potential raid. The bugbear would join the raid. If the raid is to be undertaken, the bugbear expects to meet at nightfall tonight and a location to the east. Cirdan or any member of that exploration group could lead the group to the meeting location.
Ledego spells out the problems with a raid on Horan’s compound, “First off, if we lose Horan as an ally, it is expected that he would repay our treachery by eliminating my daughter and the remaining crew of the Nir Nen. I find that unacceptable. Secondly, if we were to turn on Horan, his offer to transport us back to the lake compound would be no longer viable. Therefore, our ability to get back to the lake compound, find the Nir Nen crew and sail off on Horan’s magical ship would be lost.”
“Cirdan Saralonde, as well as I and the others in our group, have calculated the costs of a raid on Horan’s compound and vote to pass on the offer.”
Legedo advises, “We must raid the yuan-ti warehouse, eliminate the slaving threat and hope that Horan will uphold his end of the deal.”
Breymeer chimes in, as northlanders are not afraid to voice their opinions, “The slave takers must pay for their crimes. I shall be the deliverer of that punishment. We will complete this mission. If at that time, Horan does not uphold his end of the bargain, then we shall indeed explore the option of raiding his compound.”
Southar enthusiastically agrees with Breymeer, “I know not how Horan fits into this puzzle, but we should keep to our path. If he turns out to be a slaver, he shall also pay.”
Ledego begins to speak and then pauses. “My friends, I fear Horan is more than just a wizard intent on exploring this city. I do not know the depth of his involvement in this slaving but I do know that he has taken an active role in assisting us in the slaying of the yuan-ti slave masters. I do not think we have the ability to make an ethical investigation here and now. We can only hope Horan is honorable and not a slave taker. The yuan-ti we know were sacrificing the Olman man. It is within our power to slay the yuan-ti slave masters and that is what we shall do. Should Horan be evil and turn on us, I will presume my daughter and crew dead. In that event, we shall raid Horan’s compound and treat him as our enemy!”
Aratheas looks to Ledego, “Half-elf, you are a confident man but do not let your human blood rush you to your death. Let us indeed raid the warehouse if that gives us an exit out of this dreadful city. If success does not give us the reward we seek, then we shall discuss our options further.”
Ide Otneaux repeats her previous statement, “I shall cut down all who stand in our way!”
Tarstar questions, “What is for dinner?”
Kuba Cyvlorandau agrees, “I seek to leave this city. I will assist in the raid with the agreement I can accompany you from this jungle to wherever it is you go. Myself and Speck too.”
The ffolk, Ewan McDermott and Siobhon, agree to join the adventure with the same terms as Kuba Cyvlorandau.
The moon faced elf, Tathar Surion, does not speak but it is assumed to concur.
The rat, Grimlock, nibbles on some rations Breymeer has offered him.
Tanin taps his mace into his free hand. “I say we go now. Enough with this waiting. If the warehouse is anything like the temple, it will be dark as a drow’s heart inside. The sun that you elves cherish will not shine upon our battle.
The next few hours are spent packing gear and preparing to set out in your various camps all the while watching the skies slowly clear. Once clear, the beast that is the wild man leader appears before the adventurers camps, “It is time. No clouds. Wind done.”
The ogre sized brute is wearing his mixed scale/splint armor and carrying his massive hammer.
The group collects their belongings, hoping never to return to the compound. All gather outside and immediately are wet with sweat as the heat and humidity grow in the now bright sun.
Breymeer, tightly packed into Tathar Surion’s splint mail armor, stands beside the wild man leader with his bow in hand. The leader speaks to Breymeer, “My people think you leader now. I win back pride with yuan-ti head. You come back, you must be the leader until death or defeat.”
The group leaves the compound with fanfare from the wild men. The highest praise appears to be addressed towards Breymeer although there does not appear to be disrespect for the ogre-man.
Out in the street, one quickly realizes the safety the walls of the compound gave even if only psychologically.
The group turns south towards the warehouse. The sun is up being about mid-morning. The air is hot and humid. Those wearing armor can feel the weight of it; sucking at their strength. The wind has died down to near nothing.
Ahead of the group is Breymeer, Southar and the wild man leader. The rat assumed to be Grimlock follows near Breymeer.
Next in line walks Ide Otneaux and the dwarves, Tanin and Grom.
Ledego, Cirdan Saralonde are next followed closely by the other two elves; Aratheas and the moon faced Tathar Surion.
The fflok from the Moonshae Isles, Ewan McDermott and Shiobhan walk next. The obese Ewan McDermott size forces the group to go slowly or he will quickly fall behind.
Cuba Cyvlorandau and Speck take up the final rank.
The group moves south towards what will hopefully be their final quest within the city. All are weary of potential dangers nearby.
The group has not made it more than a couple hundred feet down the road when Tarstar comes running up from behind and re-joins the group. He looks a bit disheveled and sleepy. It is obvious he just woke up from sleeping and realized the group had set off without him. Tarstar falls into ranks walking next to the dancing rat. Maybe the two have something in common.
Tathar Surion suddenly speaks to the group in a voice that is loud for him but not a shout. It is loud enough to be heard by the group, “Sahanine has spoken!" He pauses for a few seconds as his words register to all listeners, “Our enemy's strength has increased. How, I do not know, but I know that because of it, not all of us will remain on this plane by the end of the day. May Sahanine guide our souls to Arvanaith.” The last blessing is obviously directed at the elves. Tathar returns to his quiet self.
Cuba Cyvlorandau, seemingly excited, states, “Thanks to the wild men for our safety in their compound but there is more to life than safety. Since death is the safest place to be, let’s go make these slavers as safe as possible.”
Speck grins and nods, equally excited to be back on the road.
The group moves south along the broad avenue. The first 300 feet along consists of ruined buildings and rubble. The buildings on the west a little more intact that the east. The avenue crosses the first major intersection and continues south.
Several intersections are passed as the group continues south. The ogre sized leader of the wild men occasionally makes some type of animal noise ranging from a bird call to other stranger sounds. His ability to mimic the surrounding creatures amazes you. You cannot tell if he is answered because of the continues jungle sounds you hear in the background. Another 300 feet pass along the second block.
The group arrives at a four way intersection. The main avenue runs east west here. There is a smaller alley running straight south. Even though it looks to be a perfect ambush area, the leader of the wild men walks that way.
The small alley is still nearly 20 to 25 feet wide. It runs about 300 feet between two low flat buildings. Twice, once on the north and once on the south, small courtyards appear on both the east and west sides of the alley.
As the group nears the southern courtyards, a large bugbear steps out into the alley from the western courtyard. He wears his battle armor (splint and scale mixed) and has a large flail in his left hand and a throwing axe in his right hand. He has a necklace of what appears to be severed ears hanging from his neck.
“Shruzgrap.” Ledego informs the group, “That is Shruzgrap, the bugbear we spoke with earlier.”
“You die now!” The wild man leader threatens as he raises his huge hammer and approaches the bugbear.
“You would be wise to hear me out Ghrrrrr, great leader!” The bugbear replies seemingly naming the leader. The name sounds like that of a great cat’s low growl with rolling R’s. “For I shall soon lead all bugbears. A truce could be held between our peoples.”
Cirdan Saralonde says, “Breymeer, keep the chief in check. Don't let him attack. I believe this Bugbear is honorable, and we should hear what he says."
Breymeer addresses Ghrrrrr, “You are a great warrior and I have no doubt you can kill him with one swing. I ask that you hold your weapon and spare Shruzgrap and his warriors right now." Next, Breymeer stands on his tip toes and grabs Ghrrrrr by the shoulders, putting his head as close to Ghrrrrr’s as he can. He says something to the giant warped man. Ghrrrrr just nods his head in affirmation.
<Breymeer told Ghrrrrr, “These foes or yours will help us save the lives of your people, I promise you. I’m asking you to let us use them to help koll slavers. When our task is done, you can have at them later if you still wish.”>
Once Shruzgrap sees Ghrrrrr has been held in check he continues, “You are wise Ghrrrrrr. I thank you for your restraint. I have spoken to my people that currently guard the warehouse exterior. They wait for a sign from me to know you are our ally. Upon my signal, they will allow you to walk unopposed into the complex. Without my signal, they will set the alarm and warn the yuan-ti of your approach. They have already been watching you but have not yet raised the alarm.”
Shruzgrap looks to Ledego, “If you hand me the golden tablet you carry, the one from Horan, I will show it to my companions and they will allow you to pass without conflict.”
Ledego, with encouragement from Cirdan Saralonde and Breymeer, gives the tablets to the bugbear. The bugbear turns and holds the tablet high into the air, tilting it in the bright sun. Shruzgrap then returns the tablet to Ledego who stores it safely again.
“You have chosen wisely. Now you may approach without fear of bugbear attack. They will remain at their posts but you will pass as if invisible to them. The windows of the building have all been blocked by stone. There are two holes on the southern face of the building, one on the east and one on the west, but both of these holes have been repaired with stonework. The main entrance is in the center of the southern exposure. We have carved steps into the pyramid from the 2nd level to the 5th. The interior of the pyramid area has collapsed but the exterior is intact. One can climb to the top once upon the roof of the first level. The stairs are also on the southern exposure. This will not gain you access to the building. There may be a subterranean entrance but this knowledge is beyond me.” The bugbear begins to talk back into the courtyard, “I have business to attend to. If you yet wish to entertain our previous discussion, you know where to find me at dark. Otherwise, may you find your way out of the city with all speed.”
Shruzgrap turns and walks across the courtyard and into the ruins, disappearing from view.
The top floors of the pyramid that sits upon the warehouse is visible to you from where you stand. The sharp eyes of the elves confirm there are bugbears upon the roof armed with bows and other various missile weapons. They do not appear alarmed or angered.
A low building lies between the group and the warehouse. Breymeer lays out a skeletal plan, “There are 16 of us. We should split into three groups and approach from separate directions to avoid being a mass of humanity just waiting to be attacked.”
Breymeer lays out his idea for the attack, “I am willing to enter the main entrance and would like Ghrrrrr and any other heavy hitters that are willing to go with. First, let’s have the rat run the perimeter and see if he can find additional entrances. I would like to see us send at least one other group, of our more stealth skilled, to enter at a different entrance with the thought the main group would draw most attention and allow the second group a chance at surprise attacks.”
Ghrrrrr nods and Ide Otneaux volunteers, “I will join you at the main entrance.”
Tathar Surion stows his quarter staff and arms himself with his bow, saying nothing.
The rat quickly scurries off down the street while the group continues to discuss the attack plan.
Breymeer requests, “Let’s give the rat about twenty minutes and then we head out.”
After only ten minutes or so, the rat returns. The group gathers around. The rat smooths out some dirt and begins to draw. It draws the perimeter of the building. On the south side it makes squiggles and places over a dozen pebbles. On the north end it draws squares on the eastern edge of the north and squares with parallel lines in them on the western edge. On the northeastern corner it draws a line in the wall. Outside the wall next to the line it draws several stick figures. The rat makes a key that shows the squiggly lines are yuan-ti. The pebbles are other unknown creatures. The squares are boxes. The squares with parallel lines are cages, some with prisoners in them. The line in the wall is a narrow crack. The figures outside the crack are elves. Next to elves it writes, “Crack too small to fit armor, elves or smaller fit.”
With the new found information, the pre attack discussion continues.
The rat, assumed to be Grimlock, runs a couple circles around Ledego and Cirdan Saralonde and then begins to scratch another note in the dirt. The note says, “Please charm a yuan-ti and get them to change me back so I can help.”
Speck volunteers to go in with the elves, “I am only slightly less stealthy than the rat. I will enter with the elves.”
Tathar Surion notches an arrow to his string, saying nothing.
Cirdan Saralonde tells the rat, “Grimlock, you should come with us. You can fit through the crack, and your claws and bite would do damage, indeed! I will go with the elves through the crack as well.” He draws both of his daggers.
“I have only just met half of you but should you let me, I will lead the elves into the crack.” Ledego looks to the elf wizard, Aratheas, “Please come with use and give us some backup with your magical powers.” She nods.
Kuba Cyvlorandau steps up with Ide Otneaux, Breymeer and Ghrrrrrr, “I think I am capable to enter the front with the likes of you.”
Southar also steps up, “I will not fit through the crack, I will enter the front.”
Tarstar will also go through the front door, “Nor will I fit in the crack.”
The dwarves, Tanin and Grom, along with the ffolk, Ewan McDermott and Siobhon, join the front door crew.
The plan is finalized, those at the front door will enter and engage whatever they meet in combat while the elves sneak in the rear for the surprise attack into the back of the slaver’s ranks.
Assuming the bugbear has been true to its word, the group moves carefully forward. No one sees any movement on the roof or perimeter. If the bugbears are around, they are not showing themselves. The group is able to safely move up on the building unchallenged.
The elves take up their position at the crack and await the signal to enter. They line up to enter in this order: Ledego, the rat (Grimlock), Cirdan Saralonde, Tathar Surion, Speck and Aratheas.
The front door crew moves around to the south end of the building and sets up at the front door. Tarstar stands at the southeast corner to signal the elves as soon as the front door is breached. The entry team is consists of: Ghrrrrrr, who will kick in the door if it is not open, Breymeer and Southar will enter shooting bows, Ide Otneaux and Ghrrrrrr will attempt to engage anyone close in melee, Kuba Cyvlorandau will react to what he sees, the dwarves will shoot their crossbows afterwhich Tanin will enter melee and Grom will continue with his crossbow and react as needed, the Ffolk will react as needed as will Tarstar when he gets into the building.
Ghrrrrrr takes a few deep breaths, Tarstar raises his hand and the elves and halfling quietly hold their breath.
Ghrrrrrr puts his full weight into the door and to his surprise, it opens inward. Tarstar drops his arm signaling Ledego who leads the elves into the building as quickly as the small crack allows. Ledego, having entered into the building, whispers back, “All clear so far!”
The light of day streams into the building through the large open door. Several braizers also burn brightly with flame. There is one on each side of the door.
In the center of the room are four huge columns, one positioned under each of the four corners of the pyramid shaped upper levels. Each column has a burning brazier on the interior side of the column.
To the west of the columns is a strange throne or altar that sits upon a raised dais. It is a massive object made of stone. Behind the chair or flat stone altar is a series of snakes. The center snake is the tallest with the side snakes smaller in descending order. The snakes seem to climb into the air behind the altar throne and arc forward over it with their mouths open.
In front of the throne, there is a snake shaped yuan-ti standing upon the dais. It has a snake head and human arms. Flanking the dais are two more yuan-ti. They are half-snake with human heads. There is a mass of creatures among the columns, possible up to two dozen. They mainly appear to be the snake creatures that had attacked the group while camped in the bugbear guardrooms, coming from the flooded cavern. Among them appears to be two humans.
Across the room, past the support columns to the north, are rows of crates, some facing east/west and some north/south. The room is unlit among the crates.
To the west of the crates are cages that hold some type of human or human like prisoners. A brazier burns in the far NW corner illuminating the cage area.
Ledego, once through the crack, meets no immediate opposition. He steps to the side, down the southern walkway between the wall and the first line of crates. He keeps an elf’s eye out for danger as the others make their way into the room past him. As each enters, the smell of rotting flesh is quickly detected hanging in the air.
The rat scurries up the first row of boxes and is followed by Tathar Surion. Both ascend to the top of the boxes finding about four to five feet of clearance at the top. Perfect for an elf and a rat.
Tathar Surion and Grimlock, once upon the crates, you see a long snake atop the third north/south row of crates (about 20 feet to your west). The creature is hard to see as it is shielded from the light of the braziers. It is stretched out from north to south. In the darkness, you can make out that it has black and crimson banded scales and strangely, a human head with stringy hair and deep dark eyes. It looks directly at Tathar Surion saying in elvish, “Do not be alarmed, I am here to help you. Horan has sent me.”
Cirdan Saralonde makes his way along the northern wall, heading in the direction of the crates. Aratheas follows quietly behind him. They both hear a quiet voice say in elvish, “Do not be alarmed, I am here to help you. Horan has sent me.”
Once all the elves and Speck are in the building, Ledego moves quietly south.
Speck hesitates momentarily, wearing watching out the hole to protect the rear of the group and waiting for events to unfold that may require his attention.
The main charge enters the southern doors and quickly realizes they have the enemy surprised. The yuan-ti on the dais appear to be directing or watching the others before them. The ones in the center of the chamber are engaged in various activities and appear to be caught flat footed.
Ghrrrrrr moves straight into the room raising him hammer above his head. His jaw clenched and his eyes bulging, he charges ahead towards one of the human looking creatures. The human appears to be female wearing a robe over chain mail. She recoils at the charge and grimaces revealing fanged teeth. Ghrrrrrr drops his great hammer down on the female yuan-ti but her reflex is to step aside and the hammer hits the floor with a tremendous thud.
Breymeer moves to his left and takes protection behind a column as he fires two arrows at the yuan-ti standing before the altar/throne. This creature has a snake body and snake head, covered in green scales tipped with brown. From its body extends two human arms. In its right hand is a wooden staff carved into the shape of a cobra with the top of the staff being a large flared cobra head. At its hip, it wears a huge scimitar. The creature is nearly 10 feet long, rising to the height of the tallest of men. Breymeer’s first arrow deflects off the scaled abdomen but the second arrow pierces its chest slightly before falling back out revealing a small wound (3, 39/42).
Tanin moves up along Breymeer’s left on the opposite side of the column and fires his crossbow at the yuan-ti to the left of Breymeer’s target. Tanin’s foe has a snake tail and human upper body. The scales are a dull blue with red blotches. The creature appears to have a more snake like head. A bow is upon its shoulder and a scimitar upon its hip. Tanin’s bolt flies wide, missing its mark and striking the altar/throne behind. The bolt shatters upon impact.
Southar breaks to the right and pauses to shoot his bow. His first arrow flies high but he steadies himself on the second shot. The snake man behind the SE column is hit in the head and crumbles to the stone floor (6, 0/6).
Grom shoot from behind the brazier just right of the door taking the snake man just left of Southar’s target in the chest. It also drops stone cold dead upon the floor (7, 0/7).
Ewan McDermott moves to the side so as not to block the door. He analyzes the situation from there, huffing a puffing a little from the quick movement into the building. The cooler air of the stone interior seems like a relief to the heavily sweating man.
Siobhon moves crouched to behind the southwestern pillar between Tanin and Breymeer. Tarstar runs up to the doorway and then slows, moving in behind Siobhon.
Ide Otneaux and Kuba Cyvlorandau move up in tandem and engage two of the snake men. The duo is maneuvering to plow a path through the right flank of the snake men to secure a path to the elves if needed. Kuba Cyvlorandau’s blow is dodged but Ide Otneaux drops her axe onto her target (10, 4/14). With great surprise, it stands its ground.
The creatures are scrambling to comprehend the sudden attack while the yuan-ti begin to shout orders and take action.
The yuan-ti are shouting orders and reacting to your sudden attack. The snake men begin to organize themselves and prepare a defense. While doing so, three snake men stand out as leaders. They are shouting orders in attempts to organize the defense.
Tarstar slips away from the support column and slowly tries to work his way along the southern wall to the alcove on the SW corner. The yuan-ti on the south side of the altar sees Tarstar, draws forth a bow and begins firing arrows. Two arrows take flight and both strike Tarstar in the torso (6, 25/31 and 3, 22/31) as he moves across the southern wall. He makes it to the shelter of the alcove where he is out of sight from his nemesis.
Siobhon holds her ground as does Ewan McDermott.
Breymeer fires two more arrows at the yuan-ti with the staff. The first darts through the air and sticks into the yuan-ti’s tail (4, 35/42). The second darts past its left arm and breaks upon the stone idol.
Tathar begins sending arrows inbound towards the presumed yuan-ti leader from atop the crates. His elven dexterity and bowmanship is impressive. Both arrows find their mark. The first deflects off its left arm without appearing to harm it. The second cuts the scales alongside its chest (4, 31/42).
Tanin fires a bolt at the dull blue yuan-ti left of the yuan-ti leader. It bends its body to an extreme backwards at the waist as the bolt flies by, missing it.
Grom fires a bolt that somehow makes it all the way through the crowd of targets and sticks into the crates on the far side of the room.
Southar dumps two arrows into the snake man to Ide Otneaux’s left flank. It drops dead face first onto the floor (7 and 5, -1/11).
Ghrrrrrr lifts his hammer off the ground and tries to jab it forward at his opponent to knock it off balance. The fanged yaun-ti side steps it, producing two daggers in the flash of an eye. It moves past Ghrrrrrr with a grin on its face. Ghrrrrrr gets wide eyed and looks down, a strap on his armor was cut revealing his abdomen. The second dagger dove deep into his skin (5, 28/33, missed save vs type E poison = death). Ghrrrrrr grimaces, drops his hammer and grasps at the wound then bellows before falling face down onto the floor unmoving.
Kuba slashes his bastard sword across the face of the snake man (2, 8/10) causing it to drop its weapon and grab its face.
Ide Otneaux swings her massive axe lopping the head off her adversary and then driving her axehead through the guts of Kuba’s wounded foe. They both fall dead.
Seeing Ide Otneaux and Kuba moving into their ranks, the final human among the snake men moves forward to block them; calling for the snake men to assist. It has a tan robe over chain mail and carries a shield and spear. It lowers the spear and charges Ide Otneaux’s left flank, avoiding Kuba, as the two snake men are falling dead. It drives its spear deep into Ide Otneaux’s left leg striking the artery; blood sprays forth and her leg continues to bleed profusely (12, 16/35; major bleed).
Ledego steps to the very edge of his crates and manipulates a few components then points at the yuan-ti to the right of the leader. A lightning bolt streaks forth, travelling through two snake men before reaching the altar area. The yuan-ti on the left dives to avoid being hit by the bolt. The lightning bolt deflects off of the stone altar blowing bits of stone from it. The deflecting bolt travels through the yuan-ti leader and onto a final snake man just short of the yuan-ti with the dual daggers. <29 damage bolt, kills all 3 snake men, first yuan-ti missed magic resistance but made save for 14 damage (14, 10/24), the yuan-ti leader made magic resistance for no damage>.
Aratheas follows Ledego’s lead. She moves up to the corner of the crates and sends a bolt towards the altar striking the yuan-ti leader (10, 21/42) and the yuan-ti on its left as it dives to avoid Ledego’s bolt (10, 0/24). The diving yuan-ti, having its light blue scales blackened, takes the bolt full on and remains down, quivering. The bolt ends as it impacts into the altar.
Cirdan Saralonde makes it to the cages finding them made of bamboo and only tied with hemp rope securing the doors closed.
Speck remains at the opening being vigilant to possible sneak attacks.
Grimlock remains on top of the crates, eyeing something to the west.
The snake men form up and being to take offensive positions preparing to strike.
The yuan-ti leader charges from the altar. As it does so, the cobra headed staff begins to move and the head of the cobra comes to life. The yuan-ti leader closes in on Tanin and drives the staff towards his face striking him across the nose drawing forth blood (4, 22/26). Tanin recoils and a venom can be seen dripping from the open wound on his face. Tanin gasps and grabs his chest. He takes two steps backwards and drops back supine onto the ground unmoving (dead, failed save vs type E poison).
Tathar shouts to the snake creature, “Then help!” before shooting his arrows. The snake creature appears to be examining the battle but does nothing obvious so far.
Southar turns his bow towards the dagger wielding assassin, firing two arrows into its chest. The first strikes homes (5, 19/24) but the second deflects off the chainmail armor.
Grom also takes aim at the dual dagger danger. However, the bolt flies across the room and sticks into the last row of crates near the two snake men moving towards Cirdan Saralonde.
Ewan McDermitt looks about nervously, examining the movements of the enemy, breathing heavily.
Tarstar makes sure the arrows are clear his body and bleeds the wounds as best he can to avoid poisoning. He then carefully sneaks up to the edge of the wall and peers out for a possible sneak attack target; trying to avoid again becoming a target for the bow wielding yuan-ti.
Breymeer stows his bow and shouts, “If you are able, fire at the leader!” He draws his broadsword and dagger and charges the leader by rounding the south side of the support column shouting, “Die slaver scum!”
Siobhon sees the dagger wielding yuan-ti closing on Breymeer as he stows his bow and begins his charge. She fires as quickly as she can string arrows. Her dexterity is amazing and her accuracy is true. Both arrows strike the fanged foe in the chest, penetrating its chain armor (5, 14/24) (5, 9/24).
Tathar continues his elven archery on the leader striking it in the back with both arrows. The first sticks (5, 8/42) but the second bounces off the scales.
The leader fights through the pain of Tathar’s arrows and prepares for Breymeer’s charge. As Breymeer closes on it, the yuan-ti jabs the cobra headed staff at him. The attack bounces harmlessly off the odd fitting splint armor.
Breymeer, still screaming his great barbarian war cry, feigns with his dagger as he drags his broadsword across the leaders neck opening a wide wound (8, 0/42). Blood rushes forth as the leader drops to its knees, staff clattering to the ground. The staff’s cobra head returns to its inanimate form as the leader drops forward in death.
The yuan-ti upon the dais sees its companion go down and fires its bow at Breymeer. The first arrow bounces off his armor but the second strikes home (5, 35/40). The snake man standing behind the fallen leader hurls a javelin at Breymeer but it too deflects off his armor harmlessly.
The yuan-ti dagger assassin charges Siobhon with an angry fanged hiss dipping the dagger it stabbed Ghrrrrrr with into its scabbard. As it pulls the dagger back out a sick looking liquid drips from the blade. Siobhon is forced to defend herself with her bow. She clubs it in the side as it closes in on her for the kill (2, 7/24). The assassin drives on dagger into her leg (6, 20/26), spins and sinks the other into Siobhon’s chest (5, 15/26). Siobhon gasps for air, and struggles to stand. Her eyes roll back and she drops to the stone floor (dead, failed save on both).
The snake man behind the assassin throws a javelin at Southar cutting him along his cheek (4, 21/41).
The other humanish looking yuan-ti, wearing the robe over chain, exchanges blows with Ide Otneaux and Kuba. The yuan-ti has much skill with its spear and shield combination. It targets Ide Otneaux’s wounded left leg, again driving the spear into her bleeding wound (3+1 blood loss, 12/35). Ide Otneaux screams in pain while Kuba slashes forward with his sword, cutting into its left leg (6, 10/24) while Ide Otneaux manages to bring her axe around in a deadly arc. It also cuts into the snake-eyed foe’s left leg severing it from its body (19, -9/24). It drops to the floor, dead. Ide Otneaux spits upon it.
One of the snake men leaders moves in on the duo slashing with its sword ineffectively. A second snake man leader moves in from the north attacking Kuba. Kuba is able to turn and parry the blow with his sword.
The remaining snake man leader charges towards Ledego with one of his cohorts in tow throwing a javelin as it runs, missing Ledego. Ledego makes some quick gestures and verbalizations using a bird feather he picked up while walking in the city. Prior to the attack reaching him, Ledego lifts into the air and begins flying around the room.
The snake men look up at him dumbfounded.
The remaining snake man in the NW corner throw its javelin at Tathar. The javelin strikes him square in the chest. It falls free, failing to penetrate, but Tathar looks as if the blow knocked the wind from him momentarily (4, 12/16) but he recovers quickly.
Speck, believing the hole to be secure from intrusion, moves into the darkness on the north wall.
Cirdan Saralodne begins to cut open the cages, starting on the north end, “Fight for your lives!” Aratheas sees the final two snake men moving in behind Cirdan Saralonde throwing javelins. She quickly casts a spell and the brazier next to the snake men begins to belch thick black smoke obscuring the snake men’s vision and causing them to choke. They throw their javelins as they try to close on Cirdan to get out of the smoke. The first javelin flies wildly to the right but the second one strikes Cirdan Saralonde in the lower back as he cuts the binding clear and opens the door (6, 17/23). The prisoners do not try and move out.
Grimlock sees the snake creature moves down the box and slithers out behind Speck and heads east towards the hole in the wall.
Speck sees a snake-like creature, nearly fifteen feet long and having a human head with stringy hair, appears from the rows of crates behind him and slithers east towards the hole. It is ten feet from him; moving away.
Tarstar removes the long bow from his shoulder. More of a crossbow fan, he does his best to send arrows downrange at the snake man between the altar and Breymeer. Both shots fail to hit their mark.
The snake man returns fire with a javelin striking Tarstar in the left leg causing a large gash (6, 16/31).
Breymeer pulls the arrow from his armor, grimacing at the pain while eyeing up the yuan-ti upon the dais. The yuan-ti removes a handful of arrows from its quiver and throws them to the ground before it. The arrows immediately begin to wiggle and move changing over to normal sized poisonous snakes and immediately begin to head towards Tarstar, Breymeer and Ewan. Breymeer lops the head off the first one in range with his broadsword (8, -4/4) but misses with his dagger.
Ewan McDermott moves up to Siohbon and prepares to defend himself with his staff.
Southar secures his bow and draws forth his sword and golden shield. The yuan-ti assassin sees the shield, quickly dips and removes its daggers into their sheaths and charges him immediately. Southar jabs his sword forward as the yuan-ti closes in striking a wounding blow to its head (6, 3/24). The yuan-ti’s first dagger is easily blocked by Southar’s golden shield but the second dagger catches Southar across the neck, luckily only grazing him (2, 19/41) but the poison quickly sets in (20, -1/41, saved taking 20 damage instead of death) and Southar drops to his knees and then forward staying on his knees leaning forward in the fetal position.
Seeing an opportunity, McDermott begins checking the downed allies for signs of life.
Grom, seeing Southar go down, draws a careful bead on the yuan-ti’s head and lets fly with his crossbow. The bolt travels straight through the yuan-ti’s mouth severing the spine as it exits the other side (8, -5/24). The yuan-ti drops dead in front of Southar. Grom moves up to Southar to check to see if he is still alive. The snake man to his north throws a javelin at Grom but it flies errant striking the wall behind Grom.
Nearby, Kuba strikes out with his sword putting a slice into the snake man leader’s face (5, 19/24). Its return attack is parried by Kuba.
Ide Otneaux’s axe cuts the air back and forth towards the snake man leader that faces her. It deftly avoids the blows. Thinking it has Ide Otneaux beat, it moves in for the kill but Ide Otneaux knocks its weapon from its hand. The weapon clatters across the floor.
Ledego flies to the SW column and takes some shelter there at floor height. There, Ledego begins a now familiar spell. Pointing, he sends a forked lightning bolt streaking towards the yuan-ti upon the dais. The flash is blinding and the thunderclap deafening inside the stone building. Ears ring from the third such massive audio assault. The bolt cuts through the snake man throwing javelins at Grom and Southar causing him to explode, the next in line is the snake man just north of Breymeer, it too is split into pieces, two of the newly formed snakes simply disappear. Finally, the bolt impacts the altar as the yuan-ti dives to the side, narrowly avoiding the main shock of the bolts (18, 11/29). An entire snake head is blown off the south side of the altar.
The snake man south of Tathar continues to throw javelins at him without scoring a hit. Tathar’s ability to dodge incoming missiles is simply amazing, even for an elf.
Tathar elegantly sticks two arrows in the snake man throwing javelins at him, killing him where he stood. Seeing two more snake men below him, he begins to gracefully hop west along the top of the rows of crates.
Cirdan Saralonde moves into the cage he just opened. He tries in vain to get the people to exit the cage but notices there is something wrong with them. They appear diseased, possibly with leprosy or similar. Their skin is dry and scaling. Seeing the two snake men outside the cage recovering from the smoke inhalation and moving his way, he exits the cage before they can block him in. They are upon him immediately but before they can grab onto him or attack in any fashion, they both fall to his feet, fast asleep. Aratheas just nods to Cirdan Saralonde as she recovers from casting her spell.
Speck notices a large snake creature with a human head moving down from atop the crates behind him and then along the north wall. It moves east towards the hole. Speck secures his sword and draws back his bowstring firing arrows at it. Both arrows hit but only one penetrates the snake creature’s scales (8, 34/42). The creature looks over its shoulder and says something in halfling to Speck. The rat named Grimlock quietly watches from above.
Speck, the snake creature looks to you and says soothingly in the halfling language, “I am a friend of Horan’s and therefore a friend of yours. Do not harm me further.” You find horror in your error and sorrow that you have hurt friend. You find the snake creature truthful and suddenly no threat at all. <failed save vs charm>.
Grimlock, after the snake speaks to Speck in halfling, Speck appears to be sorry and the attacks stop.
Tarstar, seeing the snakes about to pin him into the alcove, flees along the south wall around them until he comes to the mass of humanity that is Ewan McDermott. Here Tarstar is forced to slow and slip between Ewan and the brazier. Tarstar then scans the battle.
Breymeer hacks away at the newly formed snakes trying to fight his way to the yuan-ti upon the dais. He is yelling threats towards it as he hacks at the reptiles slashing one in half with his broadsword and sticking his dagger down the mouth of another; killing both.
Two of the remaining snakes are able to connect with Breymeer’s flesh but he quickly knocks them clear (3, 32/40, makes both saves).
Ewan McDermott kneels down next to each Siohbon and Tanin then reports, “Alas, they are both dead!” A snake moves in on him while he is attempting to tend to Tanin. A quick swat with his oaken staff smashes its head and ends its assault.
The final snake slithers up to Ewan McDermott but he is able to deflect its bite with his staff, avoiding harm.
The yuan-ti upon the altar fires its bow towards Ledego striking him while Ledego was preparing a spell ruining it (8, 14/24 – missed save; paralyzed in 12 minutes). Ledego is able to dodge the incoming second round.
Grom finds Southar still breathing but nearing death (1, -2/41). Grom quickly removes some garlic from a pouch and crushes it, smothering it into the neck wound, “Brightmantle, if this man has been poisoned, please delay his death until he may be healed.”
The snake man on Kuba swings its sword bouncing it off Kuba’s armor. With a sudden quickness, it darts its head in and bits Kuba through a joint in the armor above Kuba’s right shoulder (2, 15/27, failed save).
Ide Otneaux, still bleeding from her leg (1, 7/35) takes a stab from the snake man, having armed himself with a javelin. It again targets her left leg (5, 2/35). She swings wildly in defense, an uncommon fear in her eye. The creature blocks the blow with its shield and bites at Ide Otneaux’s neck tearing at her flesh (2, 0/35, failed save). Ide Otneaux drops under its weight and does nothing to recover or defend herself; she is limp in a pile on the ground under the snake creature.
Tathar, seeing the danger to Ide Otneaux, takes very careful aim and fires arrows into the back of the snake man leader that is chewing on her neck. One arrow strikes home (3, 27/30) but the other sails harmlessly by. Tathar curses his rare miss.
The two snake men that were below Tathar run towards Ledego throwing javelins as they move. One misses completely and the other mystically bounces off of him without any apparent harm. It does, however, draw his attention to them.
Cirdan Saralonde nods in return to Aratheas and then bows low in a most graceful manner. He then crouches down and slits the throats of the two sleeping snake men. Aratheas moves up next to him.
Speck speaks to the snake creature, "What have I done??? I'm so sorry.... Forgive me... I'm so sorry....Is there is anything he can do to help it or to protect it from further harm.
Grimlock and Speck hear the snake creature speak to Speck, speaking in the halfling tongue, “Tell anyone who asks about me that I went for help for you.” It then slithers through the crack in the wall and disappears outside.
Strangely, Cirdan Saralonde finds nothing of value on the bodies of the snake men.
Grimlock, Grimlock takes advantage of being a rat and moves down the box and into the shadows without sound. He moves east along the north wall to the crack in the exterior wall where the snake creature slithered through. Here, without peeking out, Grimlock hears voices; bugbear voices and another voice. Grimlock can only guess it is the snake creature now speaking bugbear.
Speck nocks and arrow and sneaks along the crates, moving south. He gets about half way down the row of crates and takes a shooting position. Speck takes a sniper’s aim at one of the snake men fighting with Kuba. Speck lets the arrow fly striking his target in the neck (8, 11/24).
Cirdan Saralonde stands and faces the yuan-ti on the dais in front of the altar, “Hey! Yuan-ti! Why are you attacking us? Can you not see that I am your friend?” <Casting charm person spell, blocked by magic resistance>
Aratheas shouts a warning to Cirdan Saralonde. The prisoners in the cell he had opened had become angry and were moving towards the duo with malice in their eyes. Aratheas quickly secures the door shut but before she can get it bound, she is grabbed through the bamboo bars by two of them. She struggles but is pulled up against the bars. Upon closer inspection of these prisoners, you can see their teeth have become sharp and their eyes are snake eyed. Their skin dry and scaly.
Tathar takes aim at the snake leader chewing on Ide and misses again. Anger now showing on his face for missing a second time, he nocks another arrow and focuses. His arrow flies true and cuts across the side of its chest (8, 19/30).
Ledego, under the charge of the two snake men, quickly casts a spell and multiple images of Ledego appear. The charging snake men quickly take out two of the duplicates with their charge; six remain.
The snake man upon Ide Otneaux rises, having re-armed himself with a sword, and moves around Kuba’s eastern side putting the support column between it and Tathar, eliminating it as a target to him. The other leader also moves east keeping Kuba between the two snake men leaders. Kuba takes a vicious onslaught of blows from them as they move. Using shield and sword, he blocks as many blows as able. What he is unable to block fails to penetrate his armor. Finally, his defenses fail as the snake leader flanking his north side lunges forward and bites his cheek (2, 23/27).
Blood continues to pump out of Ide Otneaux’s wounded left leg (3, -3/35).
Kuba lets out a yell of pain and anger. Throwing his weight into the creature biting him, he knocks it off its feet onto its back. Kuba drives his sword into his guts, slicing him open (6, 5/24).
Grom can see Kuba Cyvlorandau has his hands full so he shouts to Ewan, “Help Southar, I have no time!” Not taking time to bandage Southar yet hoping he can return to him in time, Grom leaves his crossbow next to Southar, pulls his battleaxe and charges to assist Kuba with a battle cry, “With dwarven steel, I will destroy you!” His axe blow deflects harmlessly off the scaled hide of the snake man.
Southar, unconscious with shallow, gasping breaths, keeps twitching and clutching his neck as he continues to fade away (1, -3/41).
Breymeer yells, “I’m coming for you!” while slashing the head off another snake while moving towards the yuan-ti. The remaining snake bites him on his right leg (2, 30/40, missed save, onset 4 rnds and incapacitated 3 days). Breymeer swipes his dagger at the snake attempting to knock it off his leg. Instead, he cuts the dagger into his own flesh (4, 26/40).
The yuan-ti draws its bowstring and fires arrows at Breymeer. The first strikes him across the left cheek (6, 20/40) and the second takes him across the other cheek cutting him to the bone (6, 14/40).
Ewan tempts the snake facing him into striking. Surprisingly, for his size, he is quick. He dodges the strike and flattens the snake’s head with his staff. Killing the snakes appears bring sadness to Ewan, “Glad they are not real snakes.”
Tarstar takes cover behind the support pillar and continues to examine the battlefield for opportunities.
Ewan McDermott, after triaging Siohbon and Tanin, moves to Southar to try and save him. Southar goes into seizures (1, -4/41).
Tarstar fires his bow at the yuan-ti upon the dais. One arrow flies clear and the other deflects off its scales.
The snake on Breymeer’s leg continues to painfully hang on his leg (2, 12/40) until Breymeer slashes the head off it with his broadsword. He shealths his dagger and begins digging in his pouch, removing a vial given to him by Horan only to watch it shatter as an arrow from the yuan-ti destroys the container. The liquid spills out in his hand. Breymeer looks to the yuan-ti and it sneers evilly as its second arrow punctures Breymeer’s armor just below his left shoulder sticking there (7, 5/40).
Ledego continues his deception with the two snake men. Hoping he bought himself time, he begins to dig out spell components. Directing his attention to Breymeer’s struggle, Ledego begins casting a spell. The deception works as the snake men only strike down two more mirror images; four remain. Strands of web shoot forth from Ledego’s fingers covering the dais with thick sticky webs. The webs stretch from the southern brazier diagonally to the NW support pillar and then back to the northern edge of the dais by the brazier there. The webs stretch upward into the pyramid shaped ceiling securing to the western wall there completely sealing the altar area in. The webs end just ahead of Breymeer. The yuan-ti has disappeared into the sticky structure.
Meanwhile, Tathar Surion, unable to fire upon Kuba battle, directs his fire towards the yuan-ti on the dias. The first arrow strikes it in the side, sticking into its ribs (7, 4/29) and the final arrow sticks into its head (5, -1/29). Just before the webs bury the creature, you watch it tumble dead upon the dais.
Kuba, in a fit of rage, slashes the snake man upon the ground with his bastard sword, “I’ve had enough of you!” The blow opens up the snake man’s chest, killing it (6, -1/24). Kuba turns on the final opponent, “You are next!”
The snake man has turned its back on Kuba to face the axe wielding dwarf. It jabs its sword across Grom’s face, lighting cutting it and shaving off some of his beard (1, 14/26).
“My beard! With Brightmantle’s strength, I shall repay you!” Grom swings his axe with all his power cutting deep into the creature’s hip (15, 4/30). It yet stands to fight but is obviously beaten down.
During the melee between Grom, Kuba and the snake men, an arrow from Speck zips through the mass without finding its target.
Cirdan Saralonde attempts to pull Aratheas free from the demented prisoner’s grasp. The tug of war ends in a draw. Aratheas remains in their grasp but Cirdan Saralonde has managed to keep the door shut.
A rat comes running out from the crates, across the multiple battles in the room and gets to Ide Otneaux. The rat begins to tug at material in attempts to staunch her wound while she continues to bleed (2, -5/35).
Kuba, seeing his opponent turn its back on him, takes a massive swing at the creature cleaving it in two (5, -1/30).
The remaining two snake men make a break for the door as Speck sends an arrow harmlessly by them. Breymeer kneels, pain shooting through his body. He stows his sword and removes his bow; shooting two arrows at the fleeing snake men. He strikes the smaller of the two, felling it (6, 0/6).
Ewan begins a chant and lays his hands upon Southar who stops convulsing but does not wake (+1, -4/41).
The rat continues to try and stop Ide Otneaux’s bleeding (-2, -7/35). Tathar dives forward, hand before himself, off of the crates. He lands on the ground in a somersault. In a flash he is back on his feet, moving to Ide Otneaux’s side to help the rat stop her bleeding.
Cirdan Saralonde pulls a dagger. Either through the elves’ combined strength, or the threat of the weapon, the prisoner’s hold on Aratheas is broken. The prisoner’s step back as Aratheas secures the gate.
Tarstar, standing by the door, begins to hear bugbear voices outside the main door just south of him.
In a flash of light, the webbing that Ledego shot onto the altar catches fire from the braziers on both sides. It burns quickly and with no small heat. Within a short time, the webbing is burned away and the now charred remains of the yuan-ti remain on the dais, confirming they are dead.
In the flash of light, the final snake man reaches the door and exits outside into the daylight.
Ewan McDermott moves next to Ide Otneaux and lays hands on her, praying. The bleeding wound on her left (-2, -9/35) leg appears to be slowed (+2, -7/35). She looks to be in dire condition.
Breymeer, while still standing, is looking a bit pale. His leg near the snake bite is starting to blacken and is significantly swollen. He yanks the arrow out of his lower shoulder with a wince. He removes another vial from his pack and drinks the contents quickly (+17, 22/40). Instantly, his color comes back some and his wounds appear in much better condition. He does, however, appear to be suffering some lasting ill effects. His snake bites do not look fully healed.
Kuba moves over to Ghrrrrrr to check on him. He finds him stone cold dead.
Grimlock, seeing Ide Otneaux being care for, runs to Breymeer’s side and begins to look him over.
Speck moves to the group near Ide Otneaux and announces, “I saw a snake. He says he is a friend if Horan's and he will send help soon."
Tarstar moves cautiously to the door they snake man just exited, peering around the portal carefully.
Tathar, seeing the living being cared for, begins to pray over the dead. He reaches Ghrrrrrr first and joins Kuba there.
Cirdan Saralonde heads for the altar area and begins to inspect the yuan-ti dead there. “We may want to inspect those enclosed crates, but be very cautious when we do.” He pauses near the edge of the dais for things to cool down a bit.
Aratheas eyes the prisoners in the cage. The prisoners in the northern cage show no intent to escape. They appear to have some traits of the snake men. The prisoners in the southern cage, all of them wildmen, appear normal and scared. They may even be lamenting over Ghrrrrrr.
Kuba lays the great hammer of Ghrrrrrr next to its fallen owner, “Big, ugly and now dead.” Kuba appeared to be giving respect to the fallen giant. Kuba looks around for a scrap of cloth. He takes a scrap from Ghrrrrrr and cleans himself off and then wipes down his weapon.
Speck moves among the snake men checking out the bodies. Speck seems a little bothered by all the carnage around him but keeps a brave face, “I really wish I could have a whiff of ‘Old Toby’ right now.”
Tathar moves to Ide Otneaux’s side and prays over her for healing (3, -4/35). She remains unresponsive but still has signs of life.
Grimlock runs to Ledego’s side and appears to be trying to communicate something to him.
Cirdan Saralonde walks to wear the yuan-ti leader was slain and bends over its staff, visually inspecting it. “What do we do about the wildmen and other creatures in the cages? I say we free the wild men but we should let Breymeer do it.”
Ewan returns to Southar and again prays over him (1, -3/41). He too remains unconscious, flirting with death.
Breymeer, sweating now with a swelling leg, appeals to Speck, “So you came across a slave taking snake? Same bastards that just almost killed out group? Had a conversation with it and just let it go? Please tell me more.”
Tarstar steps back into the room and almost interrupts Breymeer, “Hey, Shruzgrap is outside and there are numerous bugbears with him!”
Breymeer and Tarstar’s statements bring Speck out of some private thoughts, sadness expressed on his face. He replies to Breymeer, “No... No.... Not that at all... I stuck it well with an arrow and was getting ready to chop it to pieces when it spoke to me, in my own tongue, saying that it was a friend of Horan's and thus a friend of mine. It told me to tell you Horan would send help soon." Speck steps back from the bodies and readies himself for possible battle.
Tarstar seems to agree on battle preparations as he draws his blade and does a little dance, “Let’s get ready to rumble!”
Ewan takes a softer approach. “Screwed, blued and tattooed. We need to appoint someone to speak to them.”
Tathar goes into a trance (+7, 16/16).
Kuba also catches ear of Tarstar's warning of bugbears. He turns his attention away from inspecting the crates and makes his way towards Breymeer with Speck tailing him. Kuba tosses the soiled rag, sheathes his sword and checks his armor saying, "I will help in any way I can."
Grimlock, scribbles on the ground, unable to leave a mark, then mimes at the air frantically in front of Ledego pointing towards the door. As best as can be deciphered, the rat thinks the door should be shut. When Ledego doesn’t respond quick enough, the rat, as fast as a rat can scurry, runs for the door.
Cirdan Saralonde and Breymeer each begin to move towards the door. Breymeer speaks as he moves, “I believe Shruzgrap and his people will help us and guard us now that we’ve cleared out the snake men. Unless someone disagrees, I will ask Shruzgrap if they can stand guard while we take care of our dead and wounded and get our group in order and then help us carry our dead and injured out of this crap hole. Maybe they can carry out the crates and valuables for us.”
He looks to the healers, “Is there anyone that could look at my snake bites? I’m feeling a bit woozy.”
At that moment, Shruzgrap and two other large bugbears enter through the door; not waiting for you to exit. Shruzgrap drops the head of the escaped snake man on the floor. “One got out.” Through the open door, nearly a dozen, or more, bugbears have collected near the door.
Grimlock does not make it to the door and dives behind the brazier on the right side of the door.
Breymeer addresses Shruzgrap, “Are you aware of any other threats nearby? Do your people have healers that could help us? We have cleared the area of slavers but have taken great losses. Will you and your people help us get our dead and wounded to a safe place for healing? We also need help carrying out some crates and items we found. Finally, can you send a runner to get the wildmen shaman/elder to come check out the captive’s condition and bring some of his people to retrieve their people?”
Shruzgrap looks around for a moment while Breymeer speaks. Seeing the wild man leader dead he nudges the bugbear on his right and nods towards the body. They both grin.
After Breymeer finishes, Shruzgrap answers in the common language. “There are no threats. We have this secured. Horan wants us to hold the building and wait for his next command. Where can we help you get to for rest and healing? We care nothing for the wildmen. Those in the cages have had their fate sealed. There is no help for them now. They are cursed and will become snake people soon.”
Neltaca had inhabited the vast complex of tunnels and holes that occurred naturally, or otherwise, underneath the city for countless years.
Neltaca was content to avoid the yuan-ti that inhabited the surface area; not being able to confront them directly.
Then, Neltaca began to hear of disruptions in the yuan-ti structure. First, a white skinned wizard arrived and began to steal power from the yuan-ti.
Sneaking into the vacant buildings and ruins of the city, Neltaca fed upon the multitude of creatures and animals that wandered nearby. One such creature was a bugbear that came across the naga. Using her charming abilities, Neltaca was able to charm this bugbear. She learned his name was Shruzgrap. Using her magical skills, she conversed with the bugbear and over a short time learned of the political maneuvers between the yuan-ti and the wizard. Neltaca also learned the bullywugs of the swamp worshipped a dragon creature living near the lake. She finally made a sub-lair in the ruined building just east of the warehouse.
Neltaca, being of high intelligence, felt she had the abilities to make a power grab. All she needed was the proper time. And she had the time to wait. While waiting, she groomed the young bugbear gaining his allegiance and that of several of his clan through use of her charms. The jungle raids that the bugbears went on for Horan and other routines were not interrupted.
Then, a black scaled dragon arrived and took control of the lake and the bullywugs, killing their dragon leader.
Neltaca continued to slowly bring the bugbears into her fold, charming them all and killing those she failed to charm. By design, the bugbear were to try to spread dissension among Horan supporters and Gouthogg supporters. In this way, she intended to hide in the chaos and slowly increase her power.
During the recent tropical storm, Neltaca’s underground areas, being flood prone, forced her to the surface. She hid out in her sub-lair.
While in the sub-lair, Neltaca learned from Shruzgrap that a Horan has the aid of a group of humans, elves, dwarves and others. Horan was using this group to overthrow the yuan-ti. Neltaca learns the group is about the raid the warehouse used as the base of operations for the slave raids. The yuan-ti had secured the building but failed to close a large crack on the northeast corner.
Knowing the bugbears that guarded the outside perimeter of the building were on her side, she snuck across the avenue and into the warehouse, hiding among the crates for Horan’s raiders to arrive. Her plan was to wait out the battle and then overtake the survivors.
Once the warehouse was hers, Shruzgrap would take control of the bugbear clan by challenging and killing its current leader. If they couldn’t turn Horan’s raiders against him, they would attempt to convince Gouthogg to destroy Horan’s compound. Finally, if all else failed, they would dig in and see what happened next.
As the bugbears continue to move their way into the room, the rat flees from the doorway like a cat with its tail aflame. It sprints at full speed to the row of crates along the east wall and scurries up atop them.
Breymeer responds to Shruzgrap, “That is good news indeed. Did Horan say when he will be arriving? He will be able to help our injured and tell us if the wildmen captives can be saved.” Breymeer seems to be studying the bugbear closely as he speaks to it. His hands are free of items and placed close to his weapons. “I plan to send a runner to the wildmen camp to tell them the good news of our battle.”
Tarstar has lowered his sword but keeps it in hand. He moves slowly towards the column nearby.
Tathar kneels next to Southar and appears to be working on his injury to his neck where there is signs of poisioning.
Ewan, concerned for the welfare of the wounded and the prisoners expresses concerns, “Do you have any stock of anti-venom. It would be useful at this point. Are all of the caged wildmen doomed to become snakemen or only those currently turning? I say we rest here while we wait for Horan. We send a runner to the wildmen camp for healing help and a burial detail.”
Cirdan moves close to Shruzgrap and speaks in a quiet voice after a slight bow. “Shruzgrap, earlier you asked us to raid a specific compound with you. What has changed? You now say we should wait for Horan. I inform you now that we, or at least I, for I do not claim to speak for the group, will not be able to help you raid the compound if that is still your intent. We are too injured from our battle to be of any use, and I would not anyway. I have no quarrel with the target of your proposed raid. I will not speak of your plans to anyone, your business is your own. You have been an honorable ally and I hope to keep you as such. I also hope that what we have accomplished here helps you and your people in some way.”
Cirdan Saralonde makes a few final requests, “Can you or your people do anything for our injured, especially Southar? I believe he may have poison in him. That rat over there is one of our group, transformed by yuan-ti magic.”
Cirdan Saralonde questions the group, “We were supposed to meet Horan at the first temple, or so I thought.”
Shruzgrap continues to walk forward as he speaks. “I care not for the wildmen. We need them not and do not welcome them. The ones in cages shall be put out of their misery.”
“You are indeed wounded. Rest here if you wish but you will fight in defense if we are attacked here.”
The bugbears outside the door appear to be moving towards the door as if they expect to enter.
Breymeer refuses to give ground and stands steady. Ewan, taking the cue from Breymeer, uses his immense body to block forward movement of the bugbears.
Cirdan Saralonde, being ignored by the bugbear, moves towards where the dagger wielding yuan-ti fell. He kneels and picks up one of the yuan-ti’s daggers.
Kuba takes a step back to allow Cirdan to walk past him and takes a defensive stance, hand near his weapon.
The bugbear pause in their advance.
Tathar and Speck both retreat ground. Speck gives himself a little distance and Tathar follows after the rat heading towards the crates; making it about half the distance.
Tarstar remains behind the southwest pillar.
Ledego also remains by the southeast pillar.
Aratheas walks to the gate of the normal looking wildman prisoners. She unties and opens the door. Very surprisingly, she speaks to them in their language <She had cast tongues (wildmen, bugbear) the previous round>. They react positively to her and begin to exit the cage.
Breymeer speaks, “Mighty Shruzgrap, you have proven you are a great leader and I believe you are right. We can work together and accomplish great things. Please come in and assist me in ending the pathetic lives of these caged wildmen. We can then move on to greater conquests. All I ask is that your mighty warriors wait outside the entrance. It would allow us some form of privacy to mourn our dead and also it would do my heart good to know we have the building protected." Breymeer gives those close by a nearly unperceivable wink.
Shruzgrap eyes the group. He does not seem overly willing to start hostilities. “You are brave and it appears you fought well. Go now, leave here and rest. You may take the prisoners with you. But mark my words, the cursed should quickly be given the knife.”
Aratheas continues to talk to the wildmen. Two of them arm themselves with the swords from the dead snake men at the cages and the other two arm themselves with javelins. It is obvious, by the look in their eye, that there is a great hatred for the bugbears.
Tathar climbs the crates to speak to Grimlock only to see him scurrying across the floor towards Ledego. He tugs at Ledego’s leg and is pulling him back towards the crates. Ledego grabs him and flies up into the air.
Ewan and Kuba stand their ground, ready to defend themselves at a moment’s notice.
Cirdan Saralonde, using a silver-laced tongue, speaks to Shruzgrap, “Shruzgrap, don’t you see we should be friends and help each other?” <Cirdan charms Shruzgrap>.
While Cirdan is speaking, Breymeer looks to the group and mouths, “The prisoners and those of us bit by snakes are likely to turn to snakes soon. We need help. Let’s make for the wildmen camp.”
Shruzgrap answers Cirdan, “What is it you feel we can help you with?”
Just when Shruzgrap’s tone seems to be changing for the better, a large black and red snake creature, nearly fifteen feet long, with the head of a human slithers out of the dark between the rows of east/west stacked crates and the north/south stacked crates. “Yes, how is it you feel we can help you?”
Tathar smells decayed meat over by the crates.
<Speck, Kuba, Breymeer, Tarstar and Grom are charmed by the Naga.>
Speck moves over by Kuba, and in a hushed but excited tone points at the snake and says... "That's him, err, it. The snake I shot with an arrow. It said it was a friend of Horan's and a friend of ours." Kuba looks and mutters, "It doesn’t look very friendly but I have had uglier friends. Your help is welcome, friend."
Breymeer takes a step back and takes a position slightly behind the pillar as protection. He joins Tarstar there.
Aratheas continues to speak to the prisoners she just freed. They form a small wedge with the sword wielders on the inside and those with javelins on the outside. She takes up a position behind them.
Cirdan Saralonde looks to Shruzgrap, “Is it friend or foe? Do we take its help or destroy it?”
Tathar, reaching the top of the crates, arms himself with his bow and notches an arrow.
Ewan continues to stand his ground. The bugbear in front of him does not seem too keen on trying to move the large human.
Ledego puts Grimlock into one of his many pockets and begins chanting a spell <Friends>.
The snake creature looks the standoff over with calm and patience. It speaks in common, “My friends, are you not all here for the support of Horan? Let us not quarrel. Shruzgrap and his bugbear companions shall secure the building. The rest of you, my brave companions, are free to leave in peace. Go now and rest.”
Shruzgrab answers Cirdan Saralonde, “He is a friend.”
Speck seems content, “Rest sounds good . . . and food too.”
“Yes it does my little friend,” answers Kuba, “But all this fighting and loss of blood should have more reward than a nap.” Kuba asks the snake, “May we look for something in here that will make our rest even more pleasant?”
“This creature is obviously our ally. Let’s get our dead and wounded out of here. Someone help me with Ide.” Breymeer’s opinion is given as he begins to sweat even though his skin is pale and becoming cool.
Cirdan Saralonde, standing next to Kuba, shares his request and asks Shruzgrap, “What is in this place that is of value? Why are you and this snakeman so eager to have us out of this building? We will get to the bottom of this building and its contents before we leave and rest.”
Ewan McDermott does not wish to leave either. “What do you guys think? Everyone seems to want us out of here. I am guessing treasure of some type is the reason. I want a few hours here to rest and search for whatever everyone is so eager to claim once we leave.”
Ewan McDermott addresses the snake creature, “Are you able to heal our companions?”
Aratheas begins to move to the front door behind her wall of wildmen.
Ledego streaks three marks upon his forehead, one white, one black and one red. He flies over to Shruzgrap and as he lowers to the ground he speaks, “Shruzgrap and fellow bugbears. Your offer is kind and your friendship is true. I do wish to leave as you requested. Please part and allow me through.”
Shruzgrap steps aside and says something in his language causing the other bugbears to part allowing Ledego to land upon the ground and walk out the front door. As he exits the door, he pauses and addresses the group, “Do not let greed lead you to die a rich man today. Many of us have needs that cannot be found here. With elvish blessings, may we meet again at the rally point.”
Aratheas is heading for the door, “I will accompany you Ledego,” to which Ledego announces, “Shruzgrap, all I wish to claim is these prisoners as my reward.” To this, Shruzgrap only nods in the affirmative and says something again in his language to the other bugbears.
Grom, who has remained quiet until now, grabs Ide Otneaux under her shoulders and begins to drag her backwards towards the door, “Bugbear are a horrible bedfellow.”
Seeing the events play out, the snake creature speaks, “Very good, very good. Let those leave that wish to leave. Those that wish to stay and rest may stay. Certainly, such an effort on your part deserves what rest and reward you can find here.”
The snake creature then says something that appeared to be a few sentences in bugbear and Shruzgrab answers with a short answer.
As Aratheas gets to the group at the door, she speaks in elvish something about one sentence long.
Ledego, Grimlock, Tathar and Cirdan Saralonde understand Aratheas and hear, “No time to speak. Leave with us. I fear betrayal if you stay.”
Shruzgrap tells Cidan Saralonde, “Everything of value gets removed from this building. I want this building for my clan.”
Kuba asks the snake creature, “Slender friend, are we safe to search for supplies over here?” He is pointing towards the crates.
Tarstar sits down and stretches his arms, “The last few days have been a whirlwind, I am going to rest.”
Tathar does a flip off the crates and crosses the room in front of the snake creature wearily. He gets to the group and circles the southwest pillar near Tarstar. Bending, he picks up the cobra shaped staff.
The wildmen each take an arm or leg of Ghrrrrrr and begin to drag him out as Aratheas eyes the bugbears for trouble.
Ewan makes his request, “Please do not leave any of the dead or wounded for the bugbears. Elves, please help us.” Ewan picks up Southar’s body gently.
Seeing everyone else getting ready to leave, Speck looks to Kuba, “It looks like everyone is leaving, maybe we should too.”
Kuba nods and says, “Yes, you are right. I’m not the brightest man, but I can see when it’s time to cut our losses and go.” Kuba bends and picks up Siobhon’s body.
Tarstar rises back to his feet and does a little jig, “On the other hand.” He joins the group’s exit.
Breymeer takes Ide Otneaux from the struggling dwarf. Grom, in turn, moves to Tanin’s body and carries him.
Shruzgrap tells Aratheas, “Tell the mongrels this is bugbear territory. I thank the elves and their friends for the help. But, you can see, they mongrels are weak and their kind will not survive.” He nods towards Ghrrrrrr and the wildmen moving his body.
The snake creature bids you farewell, “Tell Horan the yuan-ti are defeated and the bugbear are his friend.”
As they step out into the sunlight, squinting at the brightness, the group reorganizes and discusses their next options. The sense of loss appears to weigh heavy on the party. To some it is the loss of companions, in addition, to others the lack of the chance to search the warehouse for plunder or artifacts causes sadness.
Upon your exit, the assembly of bugbears outside the door move inside the building. Another squad, moments later, rounds the eastern side of the building and marches to the front door. They number six. Shruzgrap gives and order and two take position by the yet open door and the other four round the building on the west side and disappear from view.
On the way out, Tathar says softly to McDermott as he passes, "Let's go big guy, something smells rotten in here."
Cirdan Saralonde and Tathar each assist with removing the dead and wounded as well. Tathar has a blank look upon his face; which seems normal for him.
As Cirdan Saralonde passes out the door, he addresses Shruzgrap one last time. “Shruzgrap, do you have any aid or advice for our company that has been poisoned? How can we heal them? Can you help?”
Shruzgrap replies, in a surprisingly helpful tone, “We have no aid for such. The yuan-ti poison will soon cause long paralysis if it does not kill immediately. Those bitten by the snake creatures are cursed with a dreaded disease and soon shall become one. If no healing is to be found, slay them before they change.”
“And do not despair the loss of plunder. It is removed from this warehouse quickly. What the yuan-ti do not claim, Horan shipped out of the city. I know not where. Now, it is wise you leave, Neltaca should not be disobeyed or angered.” With than Shruzgrap begins to shut the door behind your group.
Cirdan Saralonde asks, “Do we head to the wildman camp or to locate Horan at the other temple?”
While you are contemplating where to go next, the four surviving wildman prisoners are making animal calls into the air and dragging their chief to the west. In the mix of jungle sounds, you are not certain if they were answered. You have come to assume there are wildmen near when they start calling to each other.
Breymeer is not encouraged by Shurzgrap’s diagnosis. “Anyone have any ideas on how to get this poison out? I am afraid I may not be with you for much longer. At least not in my present form. Although, I was not bitten by the snake creatuers, I was bitten by a conjured snake.”
Grom answers, “Ide Otneaux, if she survives, and Kuba are both injured from bites from the snake people. Tanin had been previously but has perished. May the dwaven gods have mercy on him.”
Grom continues, “I may be able to help with the poison, at least delay it until we can think of something else.” With than, Grom removes several garlic buds and his makeshift holy symbol and begins to pray and crush the garlic; pressing it into first Breymeer’s snake bites and arrow wounds and then into Ledego’s arrow wounds.”
Breymeer has some color return to him. He is still sweating and pale but remains conscious. Ledego, who, out in the sun, you notice is also becoming more pale (harder to tell on an elf). He, too, appears to be suffering ill effects from something. Both appear to be stable enough to move for now.
Ledego thanks him, “Dwarves, my dear Grom, make solid companions when they warm up to you.”
“Indeed,” adds Grom. “Trust, once gained, is not soon forgotten.”
Grom looks tired, “I am afraid Ide Otneaux and Kuba are being my aid at this time. And not for the lack of my wanting to help them.”
Ledego casts his vote, “Let us go to the stone temple. I do not know what the wildmen will do now that Ghrrrrrr is dead. They appear to honor Breymeer but if he goes down, we may be in trouble surrounded in their compound.”
Grom also votes for the temple, “Horan may have some medicines at his basecamp that could help us.”
The rat, still assumed to be Grimlock, leaps down from folds of Ledego’s robes. It dashes off in the direction of the original yuan-ti stone temple near the tasloi cliff home. It pauses and looks over its shoulder as if to say, “Follow me!”
Breymeer, after doing and internal systems check, appears to believe he is strong enough to make it to the temple.
“Horan and the temple it is!” Ewan McDermott takes the body of Southar. Ewan obviously cares greatly for the wounded. “Please, someone, carry my friend Siobhon.”
The quiet dark faced elf, Tathar, solemnly carries Siobhon’s body. He chants or prays softly as he does. He appears to have great respect and honor for the slain and dead.
Cirdan Saralonde takes care of Ide Otneaux from Breymeer. You can almost imagine Ide commenting on the elf’s amazing strength as Cirdan Saralonde hoists her onto his shoulder. The massive body of the half orc drapes over the elf like an oversized cloak. Ide Otneaux somehow still clings to life.
Grom continues to take Tanin. The look on his face tells all that he will bear the burden of his fellow dwarf.
Ledego flies up to about twenty feet off the ground to help the rat with reconnaissance.
Tarstar and Aratheas take up the rear guard.
Kuba and Speck take up front watch.
The door to the warehouse is shut and secured behind the group as it sets out for the warehouse. The group moves slowly down the street towards the temple. The path is known. The distance is only about 1/6 of a mile. The heat and humidity is aweful and those in the heavier armors can feel its weight. Sweat drenches one and all. Water is being consumed heavily. The cooler stone temple will be a welcome sight.
The jungle and animal sounds around you continue to make one ponder if the wildmen are nearby or if it’s just the natural sounds of the environment.
The group reaches the temple after nearly fifteen minutes of walking in the miserable heat.
The east door of the temple remains unsecured, having been previously knocked open by Ide Otneaux. The rat enters the temple through the small hole in the wall and finds it empty. The rat exits the east door and Kuba enters to confirm no threat exits inside. He finds the room safe.
All enter and the slightly cooler air welcome them. Ide Otneaux and Southar have survived the movement; they are laid gently on the cloaks on the stone floor.
By the location of the sun, it appears to be not yet noon.
Once safe inside the building, the group takes stock of its condition. Tathar appears to be healthy, Cirdan Saralonde has a slight injury, Breymeer is pale and suffering from several injuries, Ledego is also pale and moderately injured, Southar is unconscious, Grimlock the rat appears to have some minor injuries, Tarstar is moderately injured from multiple hits, Ide Otneaux is unconscious, Grom is moderately injured, Ewan is healthy, Kuba has a slight injury and Speck is healthy. Tanin and Siobhon are dead.
Grimlock tucks several stones into a small pouch he has created. It hangs loosely around his neck. He climbs up into the rafters and takes an observation post.
Tarstar asks for help, “Anyone able to assist me with my wounds?”
Kuba, appearing to have little concern for his immediate wounds, says, "I received a bite from one of the foul snake men. If it is true that it causes a persons to become one like them I hope that one of you could offer a cure. As of now I feel fine and those of our group gravely wounded need your help now. I can take first watch with my little companion here." Motioning to Speck.
Speck shrugs, “Ok, but I am hungry.”
Breymeer walks to the front door, “I am going to tell the wildmen we have defeated the slave taking snake people and seek assistance from them. Maybe they have some remedy for the poison.”
Ewan McDermott approaches the departing Breymeer, “Hold my friend, let me first be assistance to you.” Ewan lays his hands upon Breymeer and lessons his wounds (+11, 33/40).
Ewan McDermott then heals Tarstar (+7, 23/31), Southar (+1, -2/41) and Ide Otneaux (+5, 1/35). Tarstar remains wounded but less so, Southar remains unconscious but Ide Otneaux comes around to a semi-conscious state.
Ewan then looks for a place to rest; attempting to meditate and sleep.
Tathar attempts to help Ledego with his wounds <casts slow poison>, rubbing garlic into his wounds and praying for his recovery. Tathar then roams around the room examining the previous dead and searching the room for anything of value.
Breymeer approaches Cirdan Saralonde and requests a dose of the elixir than helps to understand foreign languages. Breymeer dips in his finder and smears the liquid on his mouth and ears. There appears to be a couple of doses left of the elixir.
Breymeer drops out of the misfit armor and replaces it with his original studded leather armor from his pack. He leaves the other armor in the temple as he walks out the door into the daylight. “I go to the wildmen. I shall return soon.”
Ewan McDermott tends to Southar (+6) and Ide Otneaux (+6). Both of them are now conscious.
Everyone else gets comfortable. Tathar having searched the room, climbs up into the rafters and removes his bow. The room is dark, lit only by the sun coming through the hole in the wall and the eastern door hanging ajar.
Breymeer, Breymeer moves out into the street and creeps stealthily up the street. He gets to the intersection for the warehouse. Here he pauses. Two bugbears guard the front door and several appear on the roof watching the compass points. Breymeer stands tall and walks past the warehouse. The bugbears sneer at him but show no other hostilities.
As Breymeer reaches the NE corner of the building, he hears voices from the east. The conversation is too far away to make out the words but there appears to be a human female is berating Shruzgrap. She wears light weight clothing colored a light shade of red over her pale skin. She is not a pretty woman, bordering on homely with long, pale strawberry blonde hair. Her hair is braided in three braids, one to each side and one down the back. It appears Shruzgrap is taking the verbal abuse and attempting to explain himself.
The bugbear on the north side of the building grunts to Breymeer. Having used the elixir, he understands it, “Move along human. If you stick around, we might have to have you for supper.”
The streets around here are more clear of debris. The buildings are in better general condition. Especially if one to move east towards the duo. This appears to have been the wealthier section of town. In fact the house/compound they are out in front of is in a state of good repair. The streets are completely cleaned of debris out front. He can not see very clearly the building on the north side of the duo because it is part of a walled compound.
Breymeer starts to move east but find very little in the way of cover or concealment. Sneaking down the street will not likely work. The building to his east does have a hole he can enter to try and get closer but he knows the bugbears on the warehouse to his west will see him.
They are watching him now and still sneering at him. Seeing his apprehension to cross the street the bugbear on the north end of the building says to the bugbear on the eastern section of roof "Look. The man is too scared to cross the street. Horan's bitch has him shaking in his boots. " Because of the potion Breymeer hears it in your own northern language. "Run away little man. Go crawl in a hole."
Breymeer crosses the street. The human looking female points at him as he crosses and seems to address Shruzgrap who responds to her. She then hails to Breymeer, “Human, I am Horan’s associate. Come hither if you are his friend. The wildmen cannot help what ails you.”
Breymeer approaches the woman and Shruzgrap. Breymeer has his broadsword out but lowered. He covers the 250 feet from the corner to the compound. The wall around the compound is 15 feet high. The wall is made of large blocks of unmortared stone. The walls are partially covered with vines. The vines are trimmed 3 feet short of the top of the wall. Atop the wall is a small walkway, large enough for a single person to stand and move around on. Occasionally, the call of a large cat is heard on the inside of the wall.
The female greets Breymeer, “I am Kwairno. I am an associate of Horan’s. I help him here within the city. Shruzgrap tells me you have defeated the yuan-ti of the warehouse.” The bugbear looks to you and nods. Kwairno appears to be fully human. In fact, she appears to be Suel. Her pale skins and red tinted hair gives away her ethnicity.
“Shruzgrap, you are free to go. I wish you success.” Kwarino watches as Shruzgrap bows slightly to her and walks back towards the warehouse. “I understand several of you have been struck by the yuan-ti’s poison. Fear not, if you are still alive, you shall not perish from these wounds. I will attempt to contact Horan and let him know your mission is complete. Then, I will find you at the temple and bring what I can to help you. Horan shall return as soon as he can. Go now, return to the temple, set defenses and wait for my arrival. There are yet dangers in this city. Unforeseen problems continue to arise. Be quick and be safe.”
“Finally,” she adds, “do not seek the wild men for your sorrows. They are a superstitious, uncivilized tribe. They have no means to help you. Trust in the bugbears, for now anyway. They are yet under Horan’s thumb. You appear to be of Suel blood. We will not turn our back on you. Go now.”
Kuba removes his armor and begins cleaning and repairing it. He also applies cleaner wraps to his remaining injuries.
Tathar and Grimlock remain in the ceiling rafters watching and listening.
Speck finds a comfy spot to rest, inventories his gear and eats some rations. He takes the time to check on the injured and makes sure they are getting enough water and aid. Ewan joins Speck as them move from person to person. Ewan lays hands upon Ide Otneaux and Southar again. Now, both have regained consciousness but are extremely weak and defenseless.
Aratheas walks the temple interior examining it. Ledego rests near the front door, watching through the opening.
Tarstar does a little happy dance and settles in for some rest.
Grom plops down near the hole in the wall. He curses forgetting his crossbow at the warehouse.
Cirdan Saralonde seems to be in thought.
After twenty minutes or so, Ledego alerts everyone to Breymeer’s approach. Breymeer appears to be watching over his shoulder and tries to slip into the damaged door of the temple quickly and without notice to prying eyes outside.
Breymeer gather’s everyone’s attention and tells of his attempt to reach the wildmen compound. He relays the following information:
1. The bugbears are upon the roof of the warehouse, one at each compass point.
2. The bugbears did not attack him but sneered at him.
3. He saw Shruzgrap arguing with a human looking (likely a Suel) female named Kwairno. They were standing in front of a well-kept walled compound about 250-300 feet east of the warehouse.
4. Kwairno saw Breymeer attempting to move across the street towards the wildman compound.
5. She hailed Breymeer and he went to her and spoke to her.
6. She dismissed Shruzgrap and the bugbear returned to the warehouse. She wishes him good luck at his departure.
7. Kwairno told Breymeer she was an associate of Horan’s.
8. Kwairno told Breymeer the bugbears were yet allies.
9. Kwairno told Breymeer to return to the temple and she would arrive shortly with what medication and help she could get. She would let Horan know the mission is complete.
10. Kwarino advised Breymeer there were yet dangers in the city for allies of Horan.
Breymeer warns the group, “I fear we will yet be killed by this Kwairno and her bugbear allies. I do not trust her and think we need to seek the wild men’s assistance. As I was coming through the wooded area between here and the warehouse, I detected I was being stalked. I know not by what. We need to prepare to defend ourselves.”
With that, Breymeer polls the group as to whether we should wait here for Kwairno/Horan or head north to the wild man compound.
“If it is necessary to attack, I am ready!” Tarstar draws forth his cutlass. “My blade is sharp and so is my outfit!”
Cirdan Saralonde speaks, “I think that preparing a defense of the building is prudent, but am willing to wait for Horan or his henchmen. He has kept his word thus far, and if we have to fight our way out, we are no longer in very good shape for success.”
Kuba seems to agree, “You are my allies, and the only ones I trust totally. I will defend myself and you from whatever common enemy we have. I do not know who this Horan is, but, so far, he, nor his messengers, have harmed us. I promise my loyalty to this group, and I expect fair compensation for my efforts. I am not afraid of what 'may' come but I will be prepared to meet it. My vote is to stay here and wait for this Kwaino. I have spent enough time with the wildmen already and do not wish to return there." He then begins to put his armor back on.
“I must warn you,” Ledego chimes in, “I am running low on my essential components for some of my spells. I may not be able give much in the way of help as I have done in the past.”
“I too am out of the conducting glass dear Ledego,” reports Aratheas. “I will not be able to summon lightning until we find more glass.”
From the sound of the little claws in the rafters, you assume the rat is busy running to and fro above you.
Neither Grom nor Tathar voices an opinion. Grom remains by the hole in the wall and Tathar goes unseen in the rafters above.
Ewan continues to tend the wounded.
Breymeer concludes the poll, “I have stated my opinion but will go with the majority decision.” Breymeer appears very restless but manages to sit down to eat some rations. He then begins to check his armor and tend to his remaining injuries.
With another twenty minutes of rest the party is beginning to realize how tired they are. Most are taking the cat naps of a front line fighter; aware but resting.
The party actual reaches a state of relaxation for the first time since entering the city, and yet, they remain in dire circumstances. This fact is brought back to consciousness as Grom gives a gruff, albeit quiet, call from the hole in the wall, “A human woman approaches. She has long red hair. Is this Kwairno?”
Breymeer moves to the broken door and looks out, “Yes, that is the woman I met.”
Kwairno approaches the temple with confidence, walking straight down the path. She requests and is granted admittance into the temple.
Kwairno is a human female of what appears to be Suel decent. She has strawberry blonde hair and pale skin that seems strange in such a sun filled environment. She appears to be in her late twenties and is of average build and average height. Her hair flows freely well past her shoulders. She wears a very light weight, short sleeved shirt that is nearly transparent. The material is strangely less transparent across her chest in a teasing fashion. She wears white pantaloons and sandles. She has a belt across her waist with several light pouches.
She gives the group and inviting smile but her serious nature does not disappear from her face. She speaks in the common language, “Hello friends of Horan. I am Kwairno, his assistant. Time has become essential so I will speak directly to the point. Shruzgrap has told me about a creature that appeared in the warehouse. It called itself a friend of Horan. This creature had a snake body and the head of a human female. Shruzgrap calls herself Neltaca. From the description, she is a naga. Naga are dangerous and powerful creatures. I fear she is trying stake a claim to the warehouse and the bugbear tribe. She is no friend of Horans. She is an enemy and a dangerous one at that. She will attempt to charm her way into ruling over first the bugbear and then the mongrels. She will eventually enslave both tribes. She will feed on them and use them until none remain.”
Kwairno pauses and evaluates your expressions in the low light that creeps into the dark temple from the broken door and the hole in the wall.
“Neltaca appears to have charmed Shruzgrap and likely the other bugbears at the temple. Why she did not turn them against us, I do not know. Shruzgrap intends to make a challenge for leadership of the entire city tribe. Horan has not interfered with Shruzgrap’s plan as this is the bugbear way and Shruzgrap appears to remain cooperative with Horan. Shruzgrap has taken his chief lieutenants and others from the warehouse crew and gone off to the bugbear compound to make his challenge. I do not yet know the outcome and he has not yet returned. I do not know if the bugbear will remain in our hand.”
Kwairno again pauses to allow you to digest the information before continuing, “We sit on the cusp of a choice. Neltaca remains in the warehouse seeking the yuan-ti treasure. I have discovered the yuan-ti do indeed have hidden treasure. They keep it hidden upon the dais before the stone altar. I do not know all of the details of its location.”
“This is where I offer you a choice. Your group consists of several elves. The elves are naturally resistant to Neltaca’s charms. I propose you accompany me to the warehouse. I wish to drive off the naga without harming her or the bugbears to whatever extent that is possible. The elves will be tasked with assisting me in negotiating with the naga while the non-elves prevent the bugbears from interfering. Your success wins you the yuan-ti treasures.”
“The second option is to remain here for Horan. He is only a few hours from coming here and evacuating your group. However, there appears to be several more of you than he originally contracted with. You will have to discuss the evacuation details upon his arrival. I dare say, your negotiation would be greatly enhanced with pockets full of gold.”
“I must warn you,” she finishes, “I encounters a small scout party of bullywugs sneaking back east. They were coming from the area of the warehouse. It appears they had tracked your group to the warehouse. They fled back towards their swamp upon seeing me. The bullywugs are allied to Gouthogg and do not venture forth to this side of the city without cause. I am sure they will report back to the dragon. What actions the dragon will take are unknown. However, this temple should remain a solid defensive position should he attack.”
Cirdan Saralonde bows and addresses Kwairno, “"Kwairno, I am Cirdan Saralonde. Before we decide how to proceed, can you tell us if you can help our wounded? They have fought bravely thus far, but were bitten by snake-men. Can they be healed? Shruzgrap said they would turn into snake-men. Is this true? What help can you provide? I would gladly help with the naga if my friends could be healed."
“I can help you somewhat. For those that have been struck by poisoned weapons, I have brought what I believe will be the antidote.” Kwairno removes thin vials of liquid and passes them out to Breymeer, Ledego and give one to Ewan to administer to Southar.
“As for those that have been bitten by the ophidians, or snake-men as you called them, I have no help for you right now. It will take many days for the curse to overcome you. We shall be to the basecamp before then where our priests should be able to help.”
Ewan takes the vial and brings it to Southar saying, “We are only liabilities right now. I do not think we should attempt any actions other than waiting for Horan.”
Breymeer agrees, “I don’t think our group is healthy enough for battle and it makes more sense to wait for Horan and work on getting our injured heathly and cured of poison.” He takes the vial from Kwairno.
Ledego takes the final vial, “Kwairno,” he bows, “I, in my heart, do not seek to trade death for plunder. This is one of the most interesting places I have left my footprints and would cherish some of the antiquities that undoutably could be found in this city. However, I have promised to get my crew and companions out of this city and Horan, if true to his word, has promised to fulfill this request. I, for one, shall await Horan.” Ledego quaffs the vial of liquid with blind faith.
“Death does not make the dwarf any the richer. I shall stay!” Grom, although the stout dwarf would not likely admit it, appears tired and weary. “Though, I must say, I certainly will miss my crossbow.”
A rat comes running down from the rafters. The pouch under his chin tells you it is Grimlock. It dances and jigs in front of the fair skinned Suel woman. Ledego, guessing his request, translates, “This is our companion Grimlock. A yuan-ti has transformed him into this rat. I believe he is asking if you can transform him back.”
“Indeed . . .” Kwairno begins but hesitates. The elves heard it first followed shortly by Speck. Finally the dwarf and humans all pause and strain to hear to increasing whirlwind. A sound reminiscent of the tropical storm winds is growing outside the temple. The party comes to a realization, remembering the attack on the Nir Nen, just as the creature’s roar is heard upon the wind. Gouthogg has returned!
A shadow darkens the temple as the creature sails overhead, coming into the city from the west and dropping into the rift over the amphitheatre and temple. A rush of wind blows past as the shadow moves northeasterly over the city.
A look comes across Kwairno’s face. “Time is now against us. Our window to drive off Neltaca is gone. Fate and the balance of power rests on the point of a pin. I must take care of a few things immediately. Set your defenses and block of that hole in the wall. I will lock the door behind me. Grimlock, we shall eventually help you. I have no time now. It is only a matter of time before the bullywugs give a report to Gouthogg. How he responds, only a dragon knows.”
With that, Kwairno directs Kuba to place the broken eastern door into place after she exits. Darkness fills the interior of the temple. Only a slight illumination comes from the hole in the wall. Before leaving, she turns and casts some magic upon the door, sealing it shut.
Grimlock digs into Ide Otneuax pack and comes out unsatisfied. Next, he digs into Southar’s pack. This time he comes out dragging a flint and steel. Still not seeming to be satisfied, he scurries around the group sniffing. He apparently doesn’t find what he is looking for. He climbs back up into the rafters.
Breymeer, after a few minutes pacing around the room, strips out of his armor and begins to shove it though the hole in the wall. “So, the critters following me earlier are the dragon’s scouts. Which, in my opinion, means we’re now waiting for the scouts to get word to Gouthogg that we’re here, locked up in a 30 by 30 tomb.”
He forces himself throught the hole and begins getting his armor on again, “I do not like being locked up inside. I will get an idea of what’s going on outside.” Breymeer moves to the shelter of some trees to the north of the temple.
An hour passes, yet no dragon arrives. Soon after, Kwairno returns to the temple. Seeing the hole in the wall still open, she announces herself and enters through it.
Breymeer remains outside while she briefs the party. “Horan will be here soon. It appears Gouthogg may be taking counsel in his lair. We do not know for certain. Prepare yourself for evacuation. To expedite the transfer process, please dump unnecessary equipment.”
“Horan will take you in groups of three to five persons when he arrives. Be prepared to go soon.”
Tension remains high for another hour. Every sound and movement is watched by Breymeer. Tathar and the Rat watch the door from the rafters and others watch the access points from the floor.
Breymeer consumes his poison antidote and Ewan feeds Southar the remaining vial. The liquid is successful in eradicating the poison from their bodies.
Horan finally appears within the temple.
“It is time. I will remove you back to basecamp. It is my understanding that all of you entered the warehouse and helped clear out the yuan-ti. For that, I will transport you all to the basecamp even if my contract was only with a few of you.”
He looks the group over, “I understand many of you have been poisoned by the yuan-ti or cursed by the ophideans. You will be quarantined again upon return to basecamp.”
“Form groups of three humans or dwarves or groups of four elves,” requests Horan. “The half-man may join the elves.
Breymeer is hailed and re-enters the temple. To save weight, Horan requires he leave the heavier splint/scale armor behind. Breymeer is allowed to keep his studded leather.
Horan does a quick equipment check, telling you it is for safety. Once done, he begins the process of transporting the group to the basecamp in the swamp. In small groups, the teleporting is slowly completed.
Each return, Horan repeats the process and teleports the next group until the process is complete.
Upon arrival at the basecamp, each adventurer rubs their eyes as if coming out of a dream. The sudden change from the dark, damp temple to the airy, sun-filled island basecamp, causes them to cover their eyes.
The elation felt to escape the city is quickly derailed as the freckled jungle Suel separate you and move you a large white tent. The tent is in the same location as your previous stay. Each of you is given a cot and a privacy screens of wood and white fabric. Horan was last seen heading back into the basecamp interior.
A fire is made outside the tent and the Suel savages mix up some of the parasite and fluke medication. As before, you are brought a bucket for the nausea it will soon cause. The medication, once complete, is dispensed to the group.
Hashoven, the priest, is the first Suel representative to arrive. He is pale skinned and wears a light weight blue robe. The robe has light blue barracuda embroidered upon it.
Hashoven approaches the rat first. “So, little friend, you have been changed by a yuan-ti, have you? Let us see if Osprem is willing to help you.” Hashoven prays for the return of Grimlock’s original form as he waves a dolphin shaped symbol made of coral over the rat. In a moment, the rat grows and changes form back to that of a half-elf. The change to his body obviously shakes Grimlock momentarily but his body survives the drastic metamorphosis. “Osprem blesses you. Do not forget what Osprem has done for you.”
Hashoven next moves to Ide Otneaux, “This one is in poor shape. Let Osprem do what she wishes. Let the ophidian curse be removed with Osprem’s will.” Hashoven places the coral dolphin upon Ide’s head and orders the ophidian curse out of her body.
Hashoven repeats the process over Kuba Cyvlorandau.
“I will be back to check on you in the morning. I ask that you return Opsrem’s kindness and please prepare a donation in the morning. I shall return tomorrow.” With that, Hashoven leaves the tent.
The remainder of the day is spent in misery as the medication does its job. Ide Otneaux and Southar survive the day. The Suel tribesman come and go changing bandages and providing clean water. Near sundown, a sparse meal is fed. It is mainly juices and jungle fruits and plant bulbs.
Tanin and Siobhon’s bodies were not transported back the basecamp. They were buries with what ceremony could be supplied outside of the yuan-ti temple. They were buried in the soil among a corpse of trees.
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