Soanso's Serpent's Skull Campaign

Session 10: Souls for Smuggler's Shiv

blurring the line between verb tenses

I have finally thrown off the skin of humanity to bask in the radiance of history buried in this wretched isle. My theory holds true, that there is a route to Saventh-Yhi, the resting place of Our Lord, Ydersius. Soon His legend will be known, and I will awaken the Sleeping to rally them to Victory!
- from the Journals of Yarzoth

After the fracas involving stone bridge scaling and pit trap tripping, the party decides to investigate a poorly hidden hole in the floor of one of the alcoves in the temple proper. It leads to a rough-hewn cavern, a pile of calcified bones lies beneath the entrance. Max leads the way into darkness, followed by KS and Arendel. Two small dolls are found, crafted from what appears to be bird, vermin, and even humanoid child bones, hair, and teeth. As the explorers deem the small enclave unfit for camp due to the stagnant, ankle-deep water, the dolls rise to life and attack, wielding poison-slicked daggers. The dolls are defeated, and each contains a fine ruby gem encased in the ribcage. Though found to be magical, no further information is gleaned from studying the stones.

The explorers take to the complex behind the doors of what was once the scriptorium. A series of alcoves leads to a small gathering place, where 4 humanoid skeletons are gathered. Once dispatched, the group decides to hole up in the old priest cells for the night.

In the morning, Arendel casts comprehend languages to further study the thousands of runes and writings on the walls of the scriptorium, learning that the stylized fanged symbols belong to Zura, an ancient Azlanti demon lord worshipped by cannibals and vampires. The runes and prayers are of Azlant origin, and four major pieces of information are found in the hodgepodge of prayers, limericks, insults, and unintelligible gibberish:

- this room was the scriptorium for the cult
- The temple to Zura was built over an older temple, dedicated to a deity referred to as the “Beheaded One,” an enemy of the Zura cultists
- Several prayers suggest that the cult used undead slaves culled from both humans and “slaves of the Beheaded One.”
- The cultists apparently had as much vitriol for the serpentfolk as they did for their own kind, the Azlant, whom they refer to as the “misbegotten of Saventh-Yhi.”

Arendel recognizes the name “Saventh-Yhi” as being that of a legendary lost city purported to lie hidden in the Mwangi Expanse. Knowledge of Saventh-Yhi is rare.

They exit the gaping doors of the temple, and seek a quick audience with Ekubus, the water mephit. He tells them that the doors last closed after 6 hours of inactivity, then excuses himself in order to deal with a spear urchin refusing duties in the galley. The explorers return to the temple, not worrying themselves with searching for a switch or other such device to let them out of the temple.

The explorers enter a room supported by 4 columns, with a pool of blood in the center. Small, chest-high holes stud the walls. After a brief search of the holes and the pool, bronze sheets drop over the doors, trapping Kay Es and Chumba inside. A deadly swinging axe blade drops from the ceiling, scything randomly across the room. Though panic besets the group, the horror is over nearly as quickly as it began, and the weird bronze barricades retract into the ceiling.

As they move to exit the room, a foul creature oozes from one of the holes. The gibbering mouther’s cacophonic blast confuses Max, who dropped his meteor hammer on his toe. It engaged and then engulfed Chumba, but was eventually destroyed. The macabre trap went off once more, again trapping the barbarian and the eidolon; escaping this nightmare brought the group to a set of double doors in a small hallway.

Opening the doors, the group peered into the dimly lit room. The air was oddly chilly. A river of blood ran from a stone altar at one end, exiting through a hole in the wall barred with brass, um, bars. Three alcoves sat recessed from the temple proper; near the altar, a gaggle of skeletons- some human, some serpentine- glittered in the low light. A robed figure, humanoid in appearance but bearing the head of a snake, studied the intricate carvings in the grotto where the altar stood, blood unnaturally weeping from the stone. The soft whispering of a thousand lost voices weaved through the air, a maddening dirge barely audible but fully witnessed in the mind’s eye.

“Ieana is dead,” the voice hissed. “As is the captain. I can only assume you are more foolish than I first thought. It is no matter, my work here is nearly complete.” She waved her hand and the skeletons advanced, forming a ragged wall between the chanting serpentfolk and the explorers. As Max, Arendel, Taraz, and Chumba advanced, Ace went invisible to gain a more strategic vantage point, and Kay Es stayed close to the Summoner. Max became immediately concerned for the protection of the priestess, and turned his deadly hammer towards the explorers. A great battle ensued, and the tide turned when the skeletal minions were vanquished and Arendel was able to deliver a protection spell to Max, who first attacked Kay Es as it tried to pass him.

Arendel’s spell was able to free Max from the serpentfolk’s control, and she was defeated. Taraz was compelled to smash the evil altar, and with help from Max and Chumba the stone altar was destroyed, spewing blood and the shrieks of the unseen voices in the temple. An intangible wave of force knocked the explorers back, but none seemed to suffer ill effects. A statue of the demon Zura was also smashed to bits for good measure. Among the gear they confiscate is a journal written in Aklo belonging to “Yarzoth”, presumably the serpentfolk priestess who used Ieana’s identity as a disguise.

Weary yet elated, the group exits the temple, finding a switch hidden near the entrance. They make haste to the lighthouse camp, hoping that rescue is on the horizon.

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