The team allies with Kwairno to infiltrate the lair of the Ophidian Yuan-Ti, fight the immortal naga Explictica Defilus, discover a secret Yuan-Ti fortress, and free an sylvan princess!
The Group (in order of seniority):
- Aline, a Thaumaturge of half-Human/half-Sylvan* parentage (Wizard 8)
- Gravy, Human Priest of Thumina (Cleric 8)
- Lodar, Prairiefolk** Barbarian (Barbarian 7)
- Randalf Azul, Human Abjurer (Wizard 8)
- Sorjin, Human Adventurer, Bounty Hunter, ...Ladies Man (Fighter 5/Warlock 2)
- Inza, aka "The Shadow", Human Shadow-Warrior (Monk 7/Sorcerer 1)
Last week, the party defeated the wizard Horan and captured his female protege, Kwairno.
An Unlikely Ally
Back at their hideout, the party struck a deal with Kwairno. She had no love for or loyalty to the Yuan-Ti. Horan was only working form them so he could get access to the Seed of Anuran. She told Aline everything she wanted to know.
Aline then offered to set Kwairno free on the condition that she promise not to betray the party. Kwairno admitted that she was angry that the party killed her mentor, but her poor position made revenge unlikely. Aline freed the witch. Rubbing her wrists, Kwairno sheepishly said that she didn't feel like she would safely make it out of the city without help, so she made the party an offer. Kwairno said she would help the party defeat the yuan-ti in exchange for her life, her freedom, the return of her wand, her magic ring, and the rest of her belongings, and an escort back to Thither. The party agreed.
A Clever Ruse
Kwairno led the party to the Yuan-ti base, a green ziggurat near a ravine. Aline cast an illusion spell over the party so that they appeared to be bound slaves. Sorjin was made to resemble a reptile-man warrior. They rode on the back of a cart drawn by a giant monitor lizard up the boulevard to the Yuan-ti base.
When they arrived, they found that the bronze doors at the base of the ziggurat were unguarded. Kwairno said the doors were always guarded and that his was most strange.
The party warily opened the bronze doors to reveal a wide deep hall descending into the earth beneath the ziggurat. The ceiling was supported by four massive columns. Two deep pits were located between the columns. In the back of the room was another bronze door. In each corner was a cage containing human slaves huddling in fear. Two giant snakes advanced on the slaves menacingly!
The party charged in and attacked the snakes. Suddenly, the human slaves threw off their illusions, revealing themselves to be yuan-ti disguised by an illusion! The yuan-ti attacked from range with bows!
Lodar and Randalf took the left flank while Gravy and Sorjin went up the center. Aline took to the sky and threw a fireball. Kwairno stayed on the stairs and used her firebolt cantrip
Gravy was constricted by a giant snake. Sorjin was momentarily mind-controlled but was soon released by Randalf's counter-magics. Aline, too, was subjected to mind-control but released by a wave of Randalf magic-nullifying hand.
Lodar threw himself into a battle-frenzy, attacking snake and yuan-ti and allowing Randalf to finish them off. After the battle, Lodar commented to Randalf that they made a good team, calling their strategy, "The Rage and the Mage!"
DM Note- This got a good laugh!
The snakes and the yuan-ti were soon dispatched. Their bodies hurled to the bottoms of the pits.
The party cautiously advanced. Kwairno indicated that the slaves were usually held in cages in the laboratory to the left. The party decided, however, to take the door to the right.
Behind the heavy bronze door was a massive coiled serpent with the face of a human! The serpent was flanked by two humanoid attendants with scaly skin.
The serpentine creature spoke in a shrill raspy voice, "Who dares disturb the abode of EXPLICTICA DEFILUS?!? You will die for your insolence!!"
Sorjin and Lodar rushed in, only to discover that the center of the room, an area marked by the symbol of Set, was cursed! They quickly adjusted their strategy and positioned themselves between the naga and one of its attendants.
Explictica Defilus opened its mouth and small glowing motes of electricity danced like fireflies in a tornado, suddenly a bolt of lightning shot out - only to be snuffed by a dismissive wave of Randalf's hand!
Explictica Defilus' rage did not last long as Sorjin spun around and cut the head off the coiled monstrosity in a single powerful stroke!
DM Note - Critical hit! Explictica Defilus did not last long!
As the body of the naga shriveled up, turned to dust, and evaporated before everyone's eyes, the sound of ethereal laughter echoed through the halls. "You can never defeat me! EXPLICTICA DEFILUS SHALL RETURN! HA HA HA!"
With the death of their master, the attendants were soon defeated.
A Secret Portal
Inside the room, the party found a small box of platinum taels a length of rope within which was woven strands of silvery material. On a hunch, Lodar played a tune on his piccolo and the rope magically reached into the air of its own accord! What's more, the rope passed through the ceiling!
Sorjin climbed the rope to scout around. He poked his head into the ceiling and discovered that it emerged on a desolate plain of broken shale under a massive black cliff. Built into the cliff was a dark fortress with two towers suspended beneath the massive overhang, like to great serpent fangs. The fortress was no doubt the home of the yuan-ti and this portal was how they entered into the forbidden city!
DM Note- The portal leads to the 3rd edition module The Fortress of the Yuan-Ti.
Lodar, hearing Sorjin's reports from atop the rope, stopped playing his piccolo and said, "I want to see!" and moved to climb the rope behind Sorjin, but as the music stopped the rope suddenly collapsed and Sorjin fell to the floor with a painful thud!
Sorjin got up and rubbed his sore butt as he looked menacingly at Lodar. Lodar sheepishly responded, "Sorry!"
With the rope safely in their possession, Randalf figured that the yuan-ti would be unable to enter or exit the forbidden city. They popped in to Horan's laboratory to check on the captives then made sure the rest of the base was clear.
After ensuring the ruins were secure, they freed the captives. Among them were several human villagers captured by coastal slavers, a few feral bullywugs which were promptly put down, some strange humanoids that appeared to be patchwork amalgamations of various races, and a female sylvan.
Sorjin asked the sylvan several identifying questions and was eventually satisfied that this was the sylvan princess he was sent to rescue! Her name was Aratheas. She was travelling when her ship was attacked by pirates. She was captured and sold into slavery. She managed to escape and had been hiding with the mongrel-men for many weeks. She had even become their leader, in spite of her disgust for the wretched creatures. Then, last week, she was re-captured by the reptile-men and brought here. She said that if the party helped her escape Sinopia, she would reward them with one of her magical treasures that she kept hidden in ruins of the mongrel-men. The party agreed.
Before they freed the prisoners, the party checked on the rest of the underground ruins and passages beneath the ziggurat. It seemed that the Yuan-ti had abandoned this base, perhaps retreating to the fortress through the portal. The hoard of platinum they were expecting to find was probably taken back to the fortress. But that would be a quest for another day.
Escape From Sinopia
After freeing the slaves, the party, including Kwairno and Aratheas, made their way out of the city the way they came in. They faced no opposition and were soon back in the Crying Swamp. The guardians of the forbidden city, sensing that the Yuan-Ti had abandoned Sinopia with their naga god-king, were satisfied and allowed safe passage through the wall of thickets.
After several hours of slow travel through the swamps, often utilizing Aline's magical flying broom to cross river channels one passenger at a time, they arrived at the far bank of the Xanthus river, the city of Thither lay on the other shore. It was late afternoon and smoke arose from various buildings across the city, the sound of battle drifted across the muddy yellow water of the river.
Aline took Sorjin across the river and the pair observed the state of affairs from behind the screen of an illusion spell.
The city was in chaos. Battle clogged the streets as a slave revolt unfolded. Hundreds of free slaves ran wild in a riot of destruction and bloodshed. The city guard had abandoned their posts, leaving the protection of the aristocracy to the household guards of each wealthy family and foreign mercenaries. Many wealthy merchants and patricians were hung from towers and wall or impaled on spikes.
A woman was seen shouting orders, a woman seemed to be leading the revolt. In the chaos of battle, a man ran up to fight alongside her, side-by-side. The pair looked at each other and smiled, kissed passionately, and returned to fighting. The woman was Feisty of Flinch. The man was Bo-Mont Oacha, wealthy philanthropist of Thither.
TO BE CONTINUED...
DM Note- I'm taking a break from running D&D for a few months. One of the other players will be running his new campaign world. After that, I'll run a few weeks of Exiled in Eris. I may return to this campaign and these characters, I may return to D&D with a different, more deliberate, campaign. Heck, I have an idea for an all-arcane 4th Edition campaign! We'll see.