Serpent's Skull in Eberron

The Spider's Lair

After wiping out the enemy at the raider base, we head back to camp for a debriefing. The humans talk a lot, but accomplish little. Our next step is obvious, it just takes them a while to work up their courage to take that step. We strike out into the unknown, destined to uncover the secrets of another vault.

When we arrive at the vault, the humans and orc are scared. They urge caution, so I stow my whistle, but march forward. They follow from a coward’s distance. I enter the vault with my new trainee in tow. We move into a large room in the vault and are immediately beset by a crocidilian creature (a 0ft encounter)! In the opening strike, the monster tears my trainee in half and then lashes out at me. I do my best to counter while my sheepish companions move into position. Thank Acavna that I was able to take a beating while they danced and dithered. Eventually, the monstrous crocodile is deflated, and my companions clamor for retreat. I offer to watch over them while they rest at the cave entrance. They are determined to flee toward camp, a sentiment that I rebuke. Bolstered by my courage, they sleep in the jungle that night.

The next day, an argument breaks out between the orc and the human about our equipment. They feel slighted by the quartermaster, but differ on how he should be approached. I ignore them, as they are like wind chimes; they flutter about and make a lot of noise, but accomplish little else. Once again, I’m proven right. Given the chance to disrupt the system and overthrow the free captains of the shackles, they cry and then demure. Nothing changes.

I continue to press my companions to return to the vault. They agree and we hike back to it. I enter the cavern and find the remains of my trainee and of the crocodile, exactly where we left them. I push forward. As we descend into the deeper darkness, I notice a gossamer web obstructing the path ahead. I advise my companions of this and suggest that the orc blast the cavern from afar. Soften up the big bad before I charge in. Alas, he is not keen to assist, so I head in with shield and mace in hand. Upon entering the cavern, I discover a tangled mass of spider webs. Iyum Kreshton notices something scurrying along the ceiling.

The battle begins. The spider sticks to the ceiling and sprays us with webs. It appears to be avoiding direct physical confrontation. After a brief stalemate, I-Da-Dak kicks in to action and uses his magic to set fire to the webs. This greatly agitates the spider, and melee combat ensues. During close quarters combat, we discover that our enemy is a phase spider. Whenever we hem it into a corner, it teleports away. Still, it decides not to abandon the vault, so the struggle is allowed to continue.

After a brief, but eventful bout (I-Da-Dak’s cat is knocked out), Iyum Kreshton speaks to the abomination and offers it clemency. I feel confident that the Gatekeeper Druid will not allow the abomination to leave with it’s life intact. I am disappointed. The Gatekeeper forsakes his vow and allows the spider to leave. It is an unsatisfactory conclusion.

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Assault on the Raider Base (pt 1)

We debate our best approach into the enemy encampment. We are poorly equipped for a sudden strike, but I think we might be able to pull something off anyway. Because the enemy camp is unfortified, the druid could probably destroy the whole place single-handedly with a few castings of lightning storm. However, we decide that a surprise attack from the lightly defended thicket on the camp’s flank will be our best option. We strike out in the hot, rainy afternoon to try our best.

Travel through the thicket proves to be more precarious than previously assumed. The area is filled with irregular terrain, caused by the collapse or partial collapse of several buildings. We are repeatedly injured by rockfalls and cave-ins. However, we persevere and gather at the base of the low wall protecting this flank of the enemy base. Iyum Kreshton offers me a potion of invisibility so that I may vault over the wall and into the marshaling yard unnoticed. To avoid anyone hearing me, he will also cast silence on me. It’s an especially useful boon for me since I don’t cast any spells and have little need to speak. He intends to also make himself invisible so that he might join me in the battle. I’m excited for the battle. The use of tactics buoys my hopes for a successful outcome, even against these overwhelming odds. I wait the prescribed length of time, then leap over the wall. I charge forth to my first target, but stay my hand. Rather than swing wildly from a charge, I steady myself and setup my swings. Once the enemy realizes that the world has become suddenly silent, I am ready to rain down some devastating blows. I take out two guards by myself. The rest of the party plus a dinosaur, takes down another pair of guards. The alarm has been sounded, but we are up 4-0 and the sap pulsating through my xylem compels me to rush forward. There is only victory or death, and I intend to live forever.

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Raiders!

A new day dawns and we strike out, into enemy territory. We encounter some inhabitants and they tell us a raiding party commonly passes near their area. I advise that we should setup an ambush to reduce the overall strength of enemy force. Everyone is agreed, and the plans are made. I-Da-Dak scouts the nearby area for enemy troop movement and returns with news of their home base. He also alerts us to smoke in the distance. Assuming that the smoke indicates the site of today’s raid, we position ourselves between that location and the raider base. Iyum Kreshton and I take up positions inside a building, adjacent to a road that leads to a bridge. It is the only river crossing in the area, so we feel confident the raiders intend to return this way. We lie in wait and hear the raiders approaching. Iyum Kreshton casts spells to improve his combat prowess. I-Da-Dak assists with additional spells to improve our martial abilities. The raiding party is just outside the building. We are ready to spring our trap. Iyum Kreshton is the first to act. He steps out in near silence, then flourishes his brilliantly coloured cape at the enemy, before skipping towards them. If I didn’t know him better, I would be shocked by his tactics. Alas, the ambush is a bust, so an ugly slog is all we have left. I wade forward into melee combat and hack down the enemy as fast as I can. They have a mage amongst them and Iyum Kreshton is committed to preventing his escape. His determination pays off. We cut down the enemy to a man.

Amongst their possessions are a quartet of slaves they captured from the Pathfinders Guild. We set them free, but offer them the opportunity to join us in our fight. One of them takes us up on that offer. The others flee, presumably returning to their camp.

Once again, we debate our next move. I suggest that we set up a second ambush since the enemy base will almost certainly send out a search party if their raiders are overdue. This will give us another opportunity to thin their ranks. The party agrees to my plan and we prepare. I-Da-Dak returns to the skies to scout for enemy movement. The Pathfinder practices his martial skills, repeating the combat maneuvers that I showed him. Iyum Kreshton loots the bodies of the fallen raiders. I hack those bodies into pieces and spread those pieces around to lure our future victims to their deaths.

After a few hours of preparation, I-Da-Dak returns to warn us of an advancing patrol. It is the search party I was hoping for. We stand ready. I-Da-Dak and the Pathfinder are stationed atop a building, while Iyum Kreshton and I are down on the ground, hidden amongst the detritus.

The battle gets off to a premature start when the Pathfinder fires a crossbow bolt wide of the targets. It has no effect, other than to alert them to our presence. Once again, the surprise is ruined and the battle devolves into another slog. One of the rescuers turns tail and runs. I don’t want us to expend a lot of resources to chase him because I am hopeful that I can convince the party to assault the enemy base next. Therefore, I leave the fleeing man’s fate in the hands of our Pathfinder. He takes a couple of potshots at him, but fails to land a killing blow. The man escapes and will certainly raise the alarm, but the enemy base would be equally alerted if the rescuers never returned. At least now, he might panic some of the enemy soldiers.

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The Lost Tribe

The humans are restless. They gossip amongst themselves about a fallen tribe. They whisper about brutalities and horrors committed. But, they do nothing to stop it. We receive word, contact with an expedition has been lost. The scholars were digging and struck disaster. We are dispatched to perform search and rescue.

The rising smoke is our best lead to follow. We find the encampment. They’ve all been killed. What’s more, they’ve been butchered like chickens. Capped, plucked, and quartered. My travel mates seem to change colours at the sight. A noise is heard. A survivor is discovered. We ask for details of the attack, but few are supplied. We are out in the open. The air is restless. We are not safe here.

We send the survivor back to camp with the witch. The rest of us spread out to survey the battleground. I-Da-Dak’s cat wanders off toward the jungle. Suddenly, there is a big commotion as two large jungle cats spring out from the bushes. This cat fight is one-sided and I-Da-Dak’s cat will lose. I rush forward to engage and distract the big, jungle cat. My presence spares I-Da-Dak’s cat from a messy end. However, without rhyme or reason, I-Da-Dak casts a spell which sets his cat on fire. The inferno bursts forth, scorching the jungle cat and me. I-Da-Dak seems unconcerned by the damage he has caused me. His cat also seems remarkably unconcerned with the fact that it is engulfed in explosive flame. I move away from the fire and kill the jungle cat.

Meanwhile, I-Da-Dak and Iyum Kreshton are fighting a losing battle against the remaining jungle cat. In fact, I-Da-Dak turns tail and hides as a tree. I rush forward once again to provide assistance in defeating the second jungle cat. Once more, I am inexplicably burned by I-Da-Dak’s reckless magic. This repeated poor treatment has continued for days. With no repercussions for his dishonourable actions, I-Da-Dak believes he can act with impunity. A stiff whack with my morningstar should set him right. Since these are not Azlanti soldiers, one lash should do it. I don’t think they’re weak backs could survive two strikes.

After the battle is over and the site is secured, I-Da-Dak emerges from his shell then flies away. I propose to Iyum Kreshton that we move forward, but he advocates returning to camp to await further orders. So, we return to camp with the cat in tow.

Once at camp, we meet with the Captain. She is not pleased with this recent setback and seems particularly miffed by Iyum Kreshton’s request for instructions. She sternly reminds him that he was hired to secure the exposition and ensure their safety. So, it is decided that we will push forward into their territory the following morning. More wasted time.

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Deep vaults and even deeper holes

My reputation as the Last Defender has grown. The humanoids that have flooded into Saventh-Yhi fear me. Most avoid me when they can, the rest tolerate me when they have to. I’m not sure of my traveling companions intentions, but I’m even less certain of everyone elses’. Therefore, I was thoroughly surprised when one of the tribes approached me about my shield. They asked me to accompany them deep in to the vault where I found it. They seemed very interested in my tales of the Azlanti empire’s time in this area. I was happy to share my many memories of those long gone days. They had me speak to someone named Chronicler and he wrote down everything I had to say. He seemed particularly interested in my listing of the emperors. I didn’t have the dates of rulership that he wanted, but he recorded the names all the same.

When we arrived in the Vault, the humanoids showed me a vast mural depicting the original Shield Bearers. They were using their Last Defenders to generate a magical barrier to protect the rest of the Azlanti army. It was an impressive display. I asked my shield what I should do, and it said “Protect them! Protect them all!” I was expecting it to say something else. This profoundly changed my attitude towards this tribe.

Returning to camp, I met up with my traveling companions. They had varied accounts of what they had been up to in my absence, but I’ve grown somewhat accustomed to their erratic behaviour. I pressed them to uphold their pledge to help me find the serpentfolk lair. They agreed and we left for the Government district to search for the second vault.

Upon arriving, we quickly determined that there was too much ground to cover, and no obvious sign of entry. I-Da-Dak transformed in to a Earth elemental and searched underground for the vault. He was able to find it, but was spooked by a monster and could not determine the entrance. He did however find an unlooted basement. Anxious to find relics of the past, I began to dig out the stairwell that led below. I-Da-Dak returned some hours later to assist me. Iyum Kreshton took the rest of the party to walk along the lakeshore.

After hours of digging, we were making some decent progress. However, Iyum Kreshton disrupted our efforts when he returned with news that he found a sewer. I didn’t find the presence of a sewer drain more interesting that an undisturbed cellar, so I continued digging. However, the rest of my travelmates countered that the serpentfolk could be in the sewer, so I relented, and left my digging for another day.

We entered the sewer pipe and found nothing out of the usual. It was muddy and overgrown with vines. There was a huge flytrap hidden(?) amongst the vines. It was an obvious ambush, but there might be undissolved metal bits that could be of interest to us. So, I strolled in, knowing that flytraps do not eat other plants and that the humanoids were too afraid. To my surprise, the flytrap lurched towards me and took a bite. Caught offguard, I thickened my bark to resist further damage. I looked to my allies for help, but they mostly moved away to keep themselves out of reach. To my surprise, Iyum Kreshton took this opportunity to pollinate me. He vigourously stroked his tool until a gooey liquid spurted out all over me. At first, I was confused, then I was flattered, but ultimately I was appreciative. It turns out, Iyum Kreshton’s pollen provided enough lubrication for me to slip out of the tight place I currently found myself in. This gave me all the edge I needed to bash the flytrap to pieces. Now, we must plumb the stinky depths of this exit only hole.
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The Death of Trond the Protector
Dadak's Tales

The shadows grow longer as the sun slowly descends upon the western horizon, gradually melting into the ground as it descends. It grows colder as the sun’s warmth fades. The elder orc, oblivious to the increasing cold, heaves a deep sigh into the breeze. With increasing agitation the pixies and sprites flit about, buzzing in annoying and unintelligible agitation. One more brown leaf falls from the ancient oak tree, gnarled beyond belief in patterns unfathomable and deep. The brown and last leaf gradually descends and gently settles upon the earthy soil. The old orc utters, with tears in his eyes and deep sorrow, “ I release you from your burden. I release you from your burden. May you rest knowing that we will carry the burden forever more. Rest now. With deepest humility and deepest gratitude we thank you for your patron and protection. We thank you. We thank you. Rest now and slumber.”

At first quiet. But then slowly, from the deep, an earthy shudder begins. Softly, full of melancholy, a deep woodsy crackling and rumbling occurs. The very sun halts in its descent. The sprites and pixies intuitively know the occurence, they settle and cry on the branches of the old magnificent tree. Some settle upon the Orc for reassurance. The Great Oak is dying. The Great Oak who has protected them all for millennia beyond fathoming is gone. The Great Oak taught by Vvaraak herself, is no more. The Orc sits with heaving shoulders upon the roots of the great tree. He grasps the little brown leaf which fell to the earth and ponders the significance of the failing of this Great Seal.

The marsh nearby continues to pulse its unearthly sickly purple and green glowe. Unholy aura manifests as it always has.

Yet, hope is not lost. The great orc, with effort and creaking bones slowly stands. He holds the leaf to his chest and begins to hum. With closed eyes and bulging muscles he calls forth the ancient powers of nature. Powers so ancient beyond measure of chaos and Law, beyond good and evil, beyond even the will of the Titans. Dark clouds begin to form as the old Orc hums and chants incantations to protect this Earth from evil. Howling echoes from nearby woods in response to the summons, and slithering gasps come from the nearby swamps. The old Orc, respected and beloved by all of the world’s creatures, asks for help. Mighty creatures come. Some crawling, some emerge from the marsh, some glide from the depths. Some come from without, burning with a fury of vengeance. But none come too soon.

Fore as the sickly purple already pulses with deep malevolence, already challenging the living of this world.

The pixies fly. The orcs eyes’ burn red and wild. The time is now, yet again.

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The Black Pit

I have convinced the native human to seal us in. I piled the charred bodies against the doors. For better or worse, the conspirators are trapped in here with me. I am the Last Defender, and I intend to destroy the serpentfolk menace or perish in the attempt. If I fail, I hope at least to contain this pestilence beneath the ground.

They don’t realize how much I know. They are too strong to defeat outright. If I lead them quickly into the deep, perhaps I can put them on the back foot. There are malevolent forces ahead of us and behind. I can feel them losing focus on their scheme. Disarray is setting in as I march them with a quickened pace.

We cannot get out. A shadow moves in the dark. We cannot get out…. They are coming.

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Stranger Days

The humans that travel with me are acting particularly unusual lately. They indicate that they are willing to pursue the serpentfolk underground, but they intend to hide their endeavors from their leaders. I’m not sure what to make of it.

The witch decides to visit the spired monument in town that Iyum-Kreshton and I-Da-Dak had previously been avoiding. He flies over the walls and disappears from view. A short time later, he flies down and informs us that the walls surround a large tomb, presumably of Saventh. As fascinating as this discovery is, the others seem thoroughly unimpressed. What’s more, the witch tells them that they are under the effect of a powerful mind altering spell that is changing their perception of the world. Again, they seem unconcerned. I take note of this, but don’t act on it.

We continue to the village of the Radiant Muse and meetup with our guide. He takes us to the location where he saw the dumb human running. We projected her path and followed it back to a cliff. Up on the face, Iyum Kreshton spots an opening. Hopeful that this will lead us to Ilmuriya, we enter.

Upon entering, we find signs of habitation. Before we can even investigate, a clutch of Ketches attack us from the shadows. Their efforts are weak and ineffective. It looks like it’s going to be an easy battle of little consequence. Then, with riotous laughter, I-Da-Dak wades into the mix with Iyum Kreshton and myself, then spouts flame all around us and onto us. I am surprised by his sudden but inevitable betrayal. I should have known better; the clues were there all along. I wonder now just how deep I am in this conspiracy. And to think, I pollinated Iyum Kreshton!

c4fc71c3fdd0b01c82f9281eafe30575.jpgWith enemies all around, I whisper to the Last Defender. It responds: “Kill them. Kill them all!”

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New District, New Problems
What is that smell?

We seem to be getting nowhere in this new district of Saventh-Yi. All we have found are violent troglodytes roaming the city. There does seem to be some method to their actions; they are definitely separated into patrols or groups. Once we made it to their plaza, and fended off some very large mantis creatures (that kinda looked like giant spiders), we were surrounded by even more troglodytes. These kept their distance, or threw a javelin or two in our direction, and avoided challenging us further. Good for them, Leif had a look in his “eye” of disgust and Dadak looked at them in distain even more so. I can barely stand their smell and have gagged a few times I’ve been downwind from the troglodytes. I thought they smelled bad on the outside, but once we killed one, and their entrails spilled onto the ground, it was worse!

The large, tall columns were certainly carved up with pictograms and strange writing, but nothing seemed familiar. If Goland weren’t back at base camp recovering, I would expect that he would be excited at what we found. I could just image him forgetting the pains of his old bones in a rush to decipher everything. But, alas, we three ended up scratching our heads and decided to move on.

We’ve realized a while back that the ziggurats are the most important edifice of each district, so we made our way there. Sure enough, several larger troglodytes had stationed themselves there. These seemed even more hostile than the others, and it would take little to prompt me to challenge them. But, when we discovered that they held a prisoner, a young female human at that, I knew that there was no way I would not pull out my shining blade and rise to meet them in battle.

The battle was fierce. They rained down javelins upon us from their greater heights atop the ziggurats. They cast spells in our direction as well, in-between what I expect were spells to buff their martial prowess. In the confusion that we created, the bound woman was able to slip her bonds and make her way to cower behind Dadak’s massive frame. All I could see was a bruised and battered form wrapped in rags as she pitifully moaned and averted her eyes from the battle. Wrapped in several magical images of myself, I waded into the battle looking for the biggest threats and a way to flank their position. Leif seemed indecisive between his whistle (to draw even more foes onto us) or bashing his way against the line of troglodytes; once he put away his whistle, he was the wrecking machine he normally is. Dadak and Kylia did their best to protect the young ex-prisoner using spells and teeth.

I must admit, it was a tough battle, but, of course, we were triumphant. The troglodytes and the troglodyte clerics (my brief training in spellcraft came in handy identifying some of their spells) lay at our feet. But we found a new secret of Saventh-Yi in the person of the battered woman. The poor thing continued to cower as we tried to succor her and deal with the many wounds she had. Gallantly, I whisked off my Sleeves of Many Garments, reverting to my regular jeweled doublet from the glamored plum I had been wearing, and clothed her in flowing yellow robes. She stepped back with fear in her eyes, but accepted a bit of healing from a wand. The whole ordeal must have been quite traumatic; she would not answer questions and only responded with whimpers and a blank look.

Mayhap, some time surrounded by a bit of civilization will help begin some healing. We all decided, even though it was somewhat early in the day, to return back to our camp with her. Goland was still recovering, so Captain Lewin tasked another camp member to the woman’s care. This “person”, a teifling male, seemed competent and friendly but had little news about his brief examination of the addled woman. She seemed to have lost her mind, and a lesser restoration spell seemed to do no good in changing her state; some spell more powerful may do the trick. He did notice that the woman had a tattoo on her which looked like a Pathfinder symbol. I suspect that since we are in good standing with the Pathfinders after I returned the journal we found when we first entered Saventh-Yi, that if we returned to their camp, with this woman in tow, it could solidify an alliance between us. They may have some spell services that we lack and be able to release the woman from whatever has bound her mind in its endless circle of fear.

I need a bath to get this troglodyte smell off me. Probably several.

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Tree Herder

Dadak was glad to have his fathers armor back. The camp armorer had done a good job of repairing the leather bindings on the armor, but as always it is the Oak Heart’s wood that was the true beauty and power of the armor. This morning, Dadk decided that rather than reflect upon the chaotic order of the natural world around him, he would instead spend his meditation on remembering the story of Oak Heart and the sacrifice he made to save his forest.

Dadak sat with Oak Heart’s chest piece in his lap. Imagining the great Treant in all his glory ushering the trees of his forest away from the flames. As Dadak stared into the fine grain he could almost see the flames reaching up around oak heart. He could almost feel the urging of Oak Heart willing his trees towards the river that meant safety from the fire. The grain on the wood before a writhing fire, now seemed the the flowing water of a river. The waters of the river swollen by the storm began to flow faster and grow wider, grow hungry. It began eating it’s way through its old banks devouring its way to the village.

Dadak realized that he was no longer remembering the great fire, but another incident. One of which Dadak had been told stories as a child, though he had been but an infant at the time. The rains had been relentless that season. The waters of the swamp had already been higher than ever, the waters already running too swiftly. On this fateful night though, a dam had broken somewhere upriver. Now the great river that had always given life to the swamp had decided to try to eat its way through the swamp and drain the life away from it, and the orc village was right in its path.

As Dadak watched, he once again could see Oak Heart commanding the trees to move, but this time toward the danger instead of away from it. At Oak Heart’s, urging, great banyans uprooted themselves and waded out into the center of the torrent trying to split the flow of the river. Mighty oaks moved to the river bank before the village securing the soil of the shoreline to prevnt further erosion. Many trees were sadly lost in this epic battle, but in the end as the waters slowed and lowered back down, the village was still standing, and the waters of the great river still flowed throguh all of the many arteries of the swamp. Dadak realized then that it had not been Oak Heart but Dadak’s father that had been commanding the trees. Wearing this armor, he had somehow learned to command the tree’s themselves as Oak Heart had.

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