Serpent's Skull in Eberron

A good deed
Dadak's Tales

“Daddy, Daddy is that him? Is that him?”
As in answer the father takes his boy and puts him high on his shoulders.
Now that he can see better the boy waves his arms about and points…
“It is him daddy, it is. Look at how green Dadak is. He’s so tall and strong.”

The orc walks past the small ragged crowd, brooding and purposeful. His manner confident and sure. He walks with a small group of wiry and determined men who hang on his every word. The boy doesn’t know what the men are talking about, but it is obviously important.

“I want to be just like him daddy. I wish I could do what he does.”
“Only the holy Radiant Muse can do the things he does, son. She protects us all. She protected your grandfather and his father before him. But she can’t do everything. Sometimes she needs help, and so she summoned the divine orc and his companions to help. But Dadak-god-slayer is truly a hero son. He saved us all.”
“Tell me again what he did daddy.”.
“Well son, they slew the feral vampire ape who was killing our kin. They also slew the vampire who was destroying our village. That was mostly Dadak-god-slayer’s doing I hear.”
“He’s my hero daddy”
“Yes son, best of all, Dadak-god-slayer single-handedly rid us of the frog-god who the Radiant Muse could not kill. For that we will forever be in his debt, and for that we are building him a statue. To honor him forever.”
“Who is the man walking nearby Daddy? The one with the feather in his hat and the pointy sword on his belt.”
“I don’t remember his name, son.”

The thin men and Dadak-god slayer strode purposefully to the nearest field where tired and thin men were tending and working the soil. The orc was displeased at the crude destruction and manipulation of nature. His gruff demeanor kept the local adoring children from getting too close. But he was working with the farmers on a purpose. He was showing them how to handle the delicate plants, he was instructing them how to care and water the greenery which was to be their next crop. He was teaching them how to survive. The men were truly thankful.

And after a short time, the miracle happened.

The plants started to grow. And not just a little. The plants grew quickly, tall and strong; and they started to bear vegetables and fruit. All within just a few moments. Dadak-god-slayer finished his spell and picked some ripened fruit. He gave it to the emaciated children to eat… and a cheer rose from the crowd.
“Look there’s some food daddy! Can we have some? I am so hungry.”
“Yes, by the Radiant Muse, he made some food for us from thin air. The gods bless you Dadak-god-slayer! The gods bless you.”

The rebirth of Leif
Dadak's Tales

With a heavy heart Dadak removed the seed of life from Leif’s broken body. The turnip sized seed was small and fragile, but it would eventually grow into a stout and strong plant humanoid. Perhaps bereft of memories of its former life, it would nonetheless be filled with vigor and natural wonders. Dadak wished for it the best of luck in its life to come. He also wished it would find more of its own kind. He would make sure it had every opportunity, at least to the best of his ability.

Leif’s body was broken, but he had fought and died with honor and dignity. To the last he had struggled against the evil intellect devourer, like a true orcish spirit. Dadak admired and respected such determination and sacrifice. He would do what he could. The turnip was carefully removed from the chest cavity, and the armor and weapons were saved, cleaned, and repaired by Kreshton. The two adventurers treated the body and the remains with reverence and care. Kailia paced the area, keeping a sharp lookout. Few words were spoken. Indeed, there was little to say.

Later the next day Kreshton and Dadak were at a hidden location on a hillside, overlooking the city. A place full of vegetation, trees, and ready water. A place Leif would have liked. It was time. Time for the awakening. Kreshton took Kailia and waited and watched.

Dadak stood before a large banyan tree and spoke the words. At first softly and quietly. Over and over he repeated the magic words, again and again…. Louder and louder. Tiny animals began to stir and watch, transfixed by the magic of fey. The leaves and bushes seemed to be still and listen too. Kreshton stood and was amazed. Even Kailia seemed to understand what was happening. Many hours passed and finally the incantation ceased. The large tree moved. Dadak spoke to it, and asked it to rise. It made a deep groaning sound, and slowly uprooted its enormous roots. It hobbled nearby to Dadak and rested branches upon him. Then it spoke to him. The two spoke quietly for some time, as student and master.

Dadak took the little Leif turnip and carefully buried it in the ground, in a place with just the right amount of seasonal sunlight and just the right amount of water and nutrients. For Leif’s armor Dadak had different plans. He found a strong tree, melded with it, and left the armor and weapons inside. All activity under the watchful eye of Leif’s new guardian banyan tree.

“Strongroot shall be your name, my new friend. That shall be your name until you find your true name.”
“I make you the guardian of the young Leif sapling. Your life is many times longer than mine. As I will become dust, you will still be towering and strong. Live your life, but be a careful warden of Lief the young. When he is old enough to understand the ways of plants and men, give him the weapons and armor inside this tree. You will see that he will become powerful indeed, a valiant protector of nature and the city. He must also find his own name.”

“Kreshton and I will engrave a message upon this stone tablet, so that he can see who his friends and companions were. Remember.”

The joy of a friend returned
Dadak's Tales

“Jask, what do you need from me to make this work? You know I will do anything for you.”
“Don’t you worry Dadak, I’ll have everything ready for this raise animal companion spell. You’ll see. Kailia will be just fine.”

Dadak nervously licked his scarred lips like orcs are prone to do. He felt alone without Kailia. Her feline presence comforted him, gave his orcish rage some peace. Without her he felt unbalanced, nervous, fearful, and unsteady. He really needed her back. Killing the intellect devourer with Skullcrusher was small consolation. It did make him feel a little bit better at least, but it wasn’t enough. The crazy dark dreams about his father. The epic evil flowing through this unnatural city. All these things made him feel out of control, like when he was a young orcling.
“Come back Kailia, I need you”, he whispered.
Kreshton’s neaby ears heard the plea, and he gave an encouraging orcish lear.

Jask busied himself around the tent, pouring oils onto Kailia’s skin, sewing together some of her wounds, and generally trying to clean her up. She was a mess. She had been partially eviscerated, her bones had been broken, she had been thrown from a ledge, and her brains had been destroyed. Her broken pitiful body lay on the table in a ragged heap. Her fur was matted and caked with entrails and blood. She didn’t look anything like the graceful great cat of the wild.

Dadak had watched her die not once, but twice. First by the crazed flesh golem and then again when her body was inhabited by the intellect devourer. The memory of her dying will be a curse to bear. Only her restoration will be able to heal my pain, he thought. Kreshton, who had grown quite close to Kailia, was quiet as well. They were both hopeful.

Jask gave Dadak a few helpful tips are bringing back the dead, and then they started on the task together. Jask gave Dadak the diamond, who held it above Kailia’s head and started the incantation. Kreshton heard the words, but he did not understand them. They were quiet at first, and gradually became louder and louder. A light began to form inside the diamond. The light grew stronger and brighter. As Dadak continued to speak the light began to flow, like water, from the diamond into Kailia. Her body slowly began to mend, her entrails healed or grew anew. Faint at first, the light grew very bright, and the last of it settled into Kailia. The diamond fractured and burst into powder.

Kailia opened her eyes and Dadak went with wild with joy. Kreshton did a dance and all was right with the world.

“Dadak, I do have one request. Save me from Joffa. I think he is going to kill me.”

Skullcrusher, and new orders
Dadak's Tales

The orc clan was in deep mourning, their ancient guardian Trond the Protector had finally succumbed to extreme age. No one knew what this meant, but a foreboding an dread filled the air. For thousands of years the great oak held sway here, yet now the ground under the tree had quickly turned a sickly dark green and purple, and the water of the swamp, normally delightfully tasteful, had turned brackish. Something was amiss, even if no one knew what it was. Only one sensed what was truly happening, and he was filled with more dread than the others combined. He was filled with fear of the future, but first he had a task to do, before the blood of the Guardian dried.

Hadak the elder, druid of the clan, began the dour task at the tree. Many orcs watched, but most soon became bored and tired with his grim task of removing layer upon layer of dead dried wood. Hadak remembered the lessons the tree gave him, the lessons of patience and care, the lessons of strength and determination, but most of all, the lessons of protection and stewardship. Hadak knew what the Guardian’s task had been all these eons. He also knew he was not capable of doing those tasks. Though old, he was far too short-lived to have any hope of keeping the Seal closed. But he did know others, and those other knew others, and they might know what to do. But first, this task…

Sprites and pixies flited about as Hadak toiled at the tree. Some sat on his brow or shoulders, others whispered into his ears looking for hope and encouragement. The orcs all stayed away, suspicious of the fey, yet respectful of their elder and the power of nature. Days later, after many layers of withered bark had been removed, Hadak finally found his prize. With reverence he lifted the heart of the tree from his benefactor’s core, and laid it at his feet. It was as tall as an orc, and nearly as thick, and he smiled for the first time in days. The heart gave him hope. He named it Skullcrusher and imbibed it with fierce magic.

At the gathering Hadak announced the terrible news. As he paced the elder orcs listened. Despite their small size they all radiated immense power and authority.
“Mighty Elders…. The Guardian of the Seal of Dak has died, and the Great Seal is failing there. The land is in agony, I pain to meld with it. The evil’s return is sensed by all who live there. Horrible and terrible creatures begin to lurk and kill my clansmen. And nature has begun to twist and warp in agony. We orcs are strong, but the creatures are strong too, and they are many. We will be lost if nothing is done.”

Days later a decision was made…
“Hadak, you have headed Vvaraak’s teachings well. But you are too old, you must train your son to join the order and carry the name and deed of your clan. To save your people you must give him your knowledge and send him where the evil is strongest. We have spoken and it must be done. Our strength is needed to keep the other seals. Train him well, for if he fails a time of great trouble may return. There are not enough of us to stop the evil that is rising.”

With new instructions and no words to spare, Hadak left the gathering. He absently swung Skullcrusher about and began his task.

There’s Gotta Be More
Not Done

That was anticlimactic. We found an obvious laboratory with an obvious magical device that contains green goo of the exact same color of what we found in several monsters in Saventh-Yhi. Not to mention, we just found brains in green goo in the magical device. It is obvious someone has made some evil experiment and removed the brains and put them in the device. For what reason, who knows. One thing I do know is: there is no way that the stupid derhi could have been the mastermind behind all this! Sure, we found him alone in the laboratory, but derhi are shock troops belonging to the Monkey King’s army, not brainiacs! Certainly, of everything we know about derhi, they are certainly NOT magic users or capable of creating Black Tentacles.

Maybe the Monkey King is behind all this? No, that can’t be it. We found Ivohagen, the leader of the Aspis Camp, had this green goo in his head long before the Monkey King and his troops arrived in Saventh-Yhi. If I recall correctly, one of those bogards also had a missing brain. That Bush-Devil wasn’t very smart, I don’t expect that it could be the instigator. There was a chaaru-ki with the green goo, but it was protecting the vault like a good minion would by following orders. That means that there is still someone giving out the orders, but where is he?!

We’ve seen a lot of strange stuff since we entered Saventh-Yhi. Hell, our companion is literally a walking, talking tree for Olladra’s sake! There is no doubt that the Monkey King is very intelligent. Serpent folk have been drawn here and we’ve chased some of them off. I think that this is a whole new thing. Something is going far beyond normal means to control Saventh-Yhi.

But, right now, I think it would be best if we took this contraption apart. Some of it looks quite valuable! If we break it, maybe any other creature who’s brain has been removed will just die and save me the trouble of. Not to mention, we’ve searched the rest of the vault and still haven’t found the crystals we need to open the portal. Maybe in these rags… hmmm. Wha? I just noticed something strange out of the corner of my eye but when I look directly, it was gone. Ollandra! Some force of will just tried to overcome mine! Good thing I drank that protection from evil potion a bit ago, although, I think the potion’s effects will be running out in a few seconds and I don’t have another potion! Crap! Dadak and I need to get out of here!

I'm watching you!

Risk is part of the game. And risk is definitely part of adventuring, but also part of life! I took a big risk leaving my comfortable living behind and jumping onto the Jenivere to see the world. I took a risk in confronting that serpentfolk priestess in the underground temple deep below Smuggler’s Shiv. I took a risk deciding to be the discoverer of Saventh-Yhi (or die trying). I took a risk exploring the lost city, both above and below ground.
Now, I am fully committed to discovering the secrets of Saventh-Yhi. Whatever is to be found on the other side of that portal – most likely more serpentfolk enemies – must be exposed. I will not shirk that risk, but lately, it seems that my party members have been conspiring behind my back.

Leif hasn’t been the problem, he hasn’t really changed since the first time we met him rooted to the ground near an ancient crumbling Azlanti outpost. His skill set is extremely focused on the one thing he does best – bash in heads; his hate of the Chaaru-ka and Ketch is formidable. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I would have said that he will never change, but lately I’ve seen someone’s influence slowly waxing over Leif’s actions. That influence – Dadak.

I don’t want to think ill of Dadak, we’ve been adventurers for a long time, and we’ve saved each other’s lives on several occasions since we were shipwrecked together on Smuggler’s Shiv. While party members have fallen to the side – Pol, Chydak, Joffa, Goland, whatever that witch’s name was – Dadak has been a strong defender and rock at my side. He is quite formidable, as witnessed by his single-handed defeat of the Monkey King! Wow, that was some battle and I know I could not have fared as well as he did. That is one tough orc! I’ve also relied on his healing in the past. What was I thinking!?

But finally, I am realizing that Dadak’s true colors are starting to show. Sure, he directed me to Jask to cure me of the influence of the dark mold spores that seem to inhabit every square inch of each vault we go into, but it was Jask that cured me. Thanks to him, I am no longer under the influence of the paranoia caused by the spores. Physically, I know that I am not currently at the top of my game right now, a previous injury is definitely hampering me, but I’m not sure I should get healed by him again. He knows this, common courtesy compelled me to ask him not to cast anything on me before getting my ok, but yesterday, in a moment of weakness I permitted him to heal my wounds and he deliberately cast a different spell! I was watching him closely. I have some skill in reading a spell as it is being cast and the spell he tried was NOT a healing spell.

What? Did he think I would meekly stand by and let him have his way with me (I know how that sounds!). No! Even his companion, Kaylia is standoffish. That cat is quite intelligent and it also knows that Dadak is sketchy and shies away from him. Plain as day! And Leif just stands there, if he had a jaw, I’m sure it is just hanging there, slack. Warrior to warrior, there is some respect there, but I wouldn’t go so far as say “friendship” or remove him from my people to wary of. At this point, the only thing keeping me going back to the Free Captains of the Shackles camp is duty. Plus, of course, Kasada Lewyn is very mighty amongst the leadership.

So, I’m going to have to keep an eye on him, on all of them. Maybe after we clear this last vault and then return to Khalid-Sha’s domain to get the last crystals we need to open that portal, I might have to go on my own. I also have to keep a look out on whatever it is that is eating creature’s brains and replacing them with green goo. But for now, I will look over my shoulder, I will cautiously examine anything cast on me. Risk is part of the game.

—From the log of Kreshton Rel’Astra

The Tale of I-Da-Dak, Slayer of the Green God

During the night, the humans sleep and I grow restless. In the past, I would visit the island of the Pathfinders and kill serpents for them. However, the serpents have ceased to surface lately. So, with another day of nothing to do, I invited I-Da-Dak to join me on patrol. I would have invited Iyum-Kreshton, but he wasn’t in the mood to do anything but talk. Still, I-Da-Dak was enough of a boon that I could patrol further afield, into the dangerous quarters of the city. Therefore, I took him with me to the wild, unpacified farming district. We encountered an abandoned campsite, but I-Da-Dak was itching for a fight and wanted to skip any investigation. I appreciated the emergence of his warrior spirit and suggested we ascend the ziggurat to get our bearings.

As we approached the pyramid, we heard a chorus of croaks being emitted from the top. I advised I-Da-Dak to take flight and blast any hostiles with lightning bolts. However, his warrior spirit remained strong, and he opted to stay of foot to meet any enemies in melee. I was both surprised and impressed. Trying to take advantage of his newfound bravery, I rushed up the steps of the spire mound. As I neared the top, a frog man gestured sternly at us. I attempted to establish communications, but he wasn’t interested. With little hope of dialogue, I slowly ascended the last few steps, I-Da-Dak by my side.

Reaching the top, we saw a familiar view. A large, rectangular plaza with a tall spire projecting from the middle. The unusual additions were a dozen or so frog men, croaking a chorus at the behest of their leader. Still hoping to establish positive intent, we moved in closer to mingle our personal space. To our horror, a monstrous beast leapt upon the far side of the plaza. It appeared like a common toad, but larger than a treant and with tentacles spawning from its’ back. Certainly nothing the commander ever told me about could prepare me for this terrible sight. The great beast moved forward and immediately swallowed an unlucky frog man that had stumbled in its’ path. Seeing that it could swallow a man whole, I knew I was ill-prepared to win this fight. But, thanks to the beasts indiscriminate tastes, I figured I could use the remaining frog men to my advantage. I told I-Da-Dak to fly away and blast the creature from the air. Meanwhile, I mixed in with the frog men to use them as shields against their gods’ voracious appetite.

And so, the fight began. The leader of the frog men seemed capable of communicating with his god and they both seemed intent on harming us. I-Da-Dak ordered his cat to run away and he transformed himself into an air elemental. Following my instruction, he fired a lightning bolt at the green god, but it appeared to have no effect. Dismayed, I-Da-Dak opted to summon creatures to aid in the fight. A menagerie of beings assembled over the next few minutes and harried our enemy. It seemed like they might turn the battle in our favour, but I sensed victory could break our grasp. I recollected the story of the commander and the cyclops. Her desperate charge against a superior enemy did little damage, but upset the balance, and sealed the giants fate. With her memory firmly rooted in my mind, I moved to flank the great beast. Swinging the commanders’ morningstar wildly, I managed to make contact but did little damage. However, just as in the story, this was a pivotal moment that sealed the green gods’ fate. Surrounded and beaten down by I-Da-Dak’s minions, the green god could take no more abuse, and croaked. The frog men looked on in stunned horror. When we turned our attention to them, they fled into the lake below and were not seen again. I-Da-Dak Orc, had become I-Da-Dak Godslayer.

After the spider...
...the snakes!

Alone in the dark

I-Da-Dak transforms into a flying beast and leaves with his cat. He says nothing to us. Iyum Kreshton wants to head back to camp, but I’m tired of the constant back and forth. I decide to stay and hold down the fort.

In the night, I stand watch at the caves’ mouth. I look up at the stars and wonder at the change in their alignment. The constellations have changed slightly since my time with the Azlanti army. The commander was a great admirer of the heavens and watched them closely for omens. As I gaze in wonder, I am beset by a quartet of Serpentfolk. Their ambush is well-timed, happening upon me while alone. I wonder if I should lead them into the cave where I can fight them in close quarters. However, blood lust gets the better of me and I charge headlong into battle with them. Two of them move into flanking positions while the third stays in the second ranks to support. The fourth remains hidden in the brush, and fires at me from the darkness. I dispatch two of them in a stand-up fight. I run down and kill the third in the undergrowth. The fourth serpent flees, but its’ escape is planned. While I was fighting the first three, I was attempting to exercise enough restraint to take one captive. I need to know where they are coming from. It turns out my restraint was not well matched against my vengeance. I massacred the first three and decide to avoid engaging the fourth unless it engages me first. With the fourth serpent opting to flat out run, it is careless and does not hide its’ tracks well. Vengeance will be coming for him.

My flighty companions return

As promised, I remain at the caves’ entrance until Iyum Kreshton returns. He has I-Da-Dak with him and they seem to have regained their courage. I relate my story of the serpentfolk ambush, but they seem unconvinced. I produce the evidence; three fresh bodies for them to examine. They rifle through the possessions of the deceased serpentfolk and find some interesting treasures, but nothing that reveals their point of origin. I tell them of the fourth that escaped and suggest we track its’ hasty path through the damp undergrowth. My companions agree and we set off in slow pursuit.

Serpent’s Grotto

We venture for half a day through the jungle until we stumble upon a clearing. There is a cliff face with a door inset and a seemingly abandoned campground near its’ entrance. My keen senses alert me to the serpentfolk therein. I spring forward to attack. The battle is fierce and confused. I am immediately set upon by a cadre of serpentfolk. There casters sling curses at me, but I brush them aside with the war cry of the Azlanti. My frail companions are slow to engage and seem to be rebuffed quite easily. I-Da-Dak calls a great beast to fight for him, but quickly loses control of it. It swings wildly into the milieu and nearly hits me several times. Iyum Kreshton calls for the gatekeeper to restrain the beast, but does not wait for the result. Afraid of the great clash of battle, Iyum Kreshton flees at top speed into the jungle. I-Da-Dak dithers, but this is what I live for. Trained by the very best, I once again gain the upper hand over the Great Enemy and slaughter them. I hope the spirit of the Commander smiles this day.

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.

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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