Serpent's Skull in Eberron

Monkey Business

The incessant howling abrades me day and night. I look forward to the day that their species goes extinct.


It has been a long time since I was last awake. My rest was disturbed by a pack of screaming simians. Once they realized I could move, they fled in panic and left me alone.

Wind on my Face; New Beginnings

Yes, yes… I feel the breeze. It is getting stronger! I can feel my body beginning to substantiate and the sound of the jungle is getting stronger.

There is a presence next to me. I can barely make out what it is, but it is getting stronger. Yes! I see my companion, Dadak, is with me. He raises his head and sniffs the air; he smiles his gruesome smile. He seems changed, somehow, but there is no problem recognizing my friend who slogged through the jungles of Xen’drick with me. At his side a furry shape stirs, Kailia.

The bright light of the morning sun rising over Tazion is getting stronger. In a short while we will be there once again.

Date: Unknown

I find myself in a strange limbo, as if I can’t move forward from where I am. It seems just a few short moments ago that the path to Saventh-Yi was displayed before me on the stone floor of this zigurrat, but now it seems but a dream. I am rudderless and only see the future before me in brief flashes as if some unknown entity has deigned to consider me. At times I feel like I am being reconstructed and my skills and abilities are being weighed between story and competence.

All I can do is hope that things will soon change… ah, I feel a slight breeze and it is getting stronger. I feel soon, very soon, I will be freed

Hidden City Found

Mol, the 9th of Vult

With the last gemstone in their possession, Kreshton and Dadak climb into the highest chamber of the ziggurat containing The Pillars Of Light. They place the gems in their respective column and wait for the sun to find the correct position in the sky. A beam of sunlight strikes the first gem and it emits three colored streams of light that strike the others. Where the beams meet, the image of a vine-choked city appears and its location becomes evident. Dadak’s skill in survival are all the party needs to find the hidden valley containing the hidden city of Saventh-Yi.

Pol stays behind to help recent prisoner Chydak to shed his bonds and to interrogate the other prisoners.

The Hidden City
Race To Ruin

Kreshton’s Epilogue for Racing To Ruin

Mol, the 9th of Vult

I headed towards the last pillar and placed the moonstone in the socket, just like the unspoken directions had shown me, and stepped back. The wonder on Dadak’s face, standing beside me, matched my own as we held our breath to what would come. We waited as the sun began to set over the jungle-claimed city of Tazion.

The sun shone through the southern opening and struck the first stone in the first column. Three beams of light projected by that first stone struck the other three columns in turn and were directed into the air in the center of the chamber. A large hazy image appeared showing an ancient city which in its prime may have been marvelous to see, but now, all it showed was crumbling ziggurats and vine-choked buildings around a central lake. The city lay in some hidden valley and I could not make heads or tails of where it may be. Fortunately, Dadak was busy making notes and committing to memory what we saw. I knew he would be much better than I at navigating this tangled jungle of Xen’Drik so I left him to his work as I began to look back at the short time since we escaped the isle of Smuggler’s Shiv and began his new journey.

Castaways no more, we sailed into the bustling port of Stormreach. Our first stop off the island was to clear the name of our fellow castaway, Jask. The papers we found on one of the poor wrecked ships around Smuggler’s Shiv took care of that easily and the group, minus a suddenly absent Joffa, found lodgings to rest. Soon enough, word of our adventures on that miserable isle brought the other former castaways to visit us, each on behalf of their perspective factions, with requests to see what notes we had found in the hidden Azlanti temple we had raided. In the end, we joined with the Lazar Shackle Princes’ faction to head their caravan into the jungles of Xen’Drik and the quest to find the lost city of Tazion. In need of a guide, we arranged the services of N’Ketchi, a priest of Gozrah, who led us under a wight filled mine, to a village in need of assistance to kill the creatures raiding them, then across a field with hidden dangers below and finally to the town of Kalabuto. After my poor showing, and near death, in Kalabuto, we canoed up a long river and encountered hostile natives, hippos in heat, a shadow demon which had killed those ahead of us, a monkey king on a jungle throne guarding an ancient tomb and the cold-blooded killing of a threat to our survival. More natives, including a group dominated by a succubus, awaited us even before we made it to the walls of Tazion. Tazion held its own challenges; a tribe of monkey men refused us entry, snakes filled an ancient building we discovered as we exited tunnels under Tazion, we encountered several giant bees and a Serpentfolk wizard bent on killing us, and finally we dealt with the threat imposed by the monkey tribe.

Now, a new facet to this adventure waits ahead of us. Now we must enter Saventh-Yi and find the secrets that Yarzoth, the vile Serpentfolk priestess, coveted and make sure whatever nefarious plans she has are thwarted. My companions, Pol, Dadak, and I, along with the help of a reunited Chydak , are up to the task.

From the log of Kreshton Rel’Astra

Final Blows

Sul, the 8th of Vult

While recuperating from the fight against the serpentfolk wizard, the group makes plans for what to do next. They are interrupted by several monkey-men who stealthily arrive to take away the body. Hidden, and in silence, the group watches them slink off with the corpse towards the center of Tazion and possibly their lair. Now certain that the monkey-men and their leader were in cahoots with the serpentfolk wizard and that they most likely hold the last clues to making the Pillars of Light function, the group decides to move and confront them on the new day.

The group finds a large derelict stone building, almost a castle, partially, consumed by the jungle. They find a broken wall to climb and Kreshton leads the way. Kreshton waits for everyone to climb over safely before continuing on into the ruins. Barely twenty feet away from the group, everyone hears the sounds of movement and they hide. A couple monkey-men come into sight and Kreshton, disregarding any plans the group made, charges forward. One monkey-man tries to climb some rubble while another climbs a tree to begin lobbing rocks at the invaders. Pol is the only one who, above the sounds of battle, hears the voice of several people calling for help and he relays that information to Kreshton.

Kreshton moves forward and leaps across a tar pit onto a small island that is connected to a crumbled building by ramshackle wooden bridges. He confronts a monkey-man at the threshold and is assisted in defeating it by a well-timed spell cast by Dadak. Meanwhile, the rest of the group does short work of the remaining monkey-men; Dadak and Kailia fighting the monkey-man in the tree while Pol and N’Ketchi take on the one in the rubble. The group forces their way into the building to find three people, covered in tar, hanging from the ceiling. After dealing with the last two foes, the group lowers the bodies to the ground and does their best to revive and clean them without further harming them. Pol recognizes one of the prisoners as a Pathfinder that kept company with Gelik in Stormreach and Eleder. The second small prisoner looks remarkably like the lost Chydak. Dadak is let down that the third prisoner looks nothing like Joffa, even in its tarred state. Attempts at getting them to talk are unsuccessful.

Eager to be off, Kreshton, N’Ketchi and Dadak reconnoiter the southern part of the ruins but find nothing but more tar pits and crumbling ruins. They double back and continue northward and skirt around some more rubble. While ducking under the trunk of a huge elephant statue, Kreshton encounters two new monkey-men in front of him. A third, larger, monkey-man steps out of a building above them joined by a large snake. The leader speaks and yells, “Attack!” Kreshton takes on the two monkey-men in the choke point of rubble and statue, but is badly beaten; he feels the lead monkey-man’s will trying to overcome his, but surprisingly fends off the magical attack, and retreats. N’Ketchi, drawing on the awesome power of Gozrah, summons a spiritual trident to attack the huge snake. Dadak launches a lance of ice at the leader but misses; he summons a wolf to get the attention of the snake. Kreshton vanishes from sight, but can be heard healing himself with his wand as Pol arrives in the battle. The lead monkey appears on the back of the elephant statue and darkness surrounds everyone as he channels negative energy. Kreshton reappears to chase the monkey leader into the tree and is joined by Dadak; they do battle within the branches and Dadak is rendered unconscious from a particularly strong blow. N’Ketchi races forward and channels positive energy to revive everyone. The monkey leader climbs higher into the tree to escape his foes, but is finally overcome and dies, falling down to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs. Pol deals the killing blow to the snake. The battle is over.

This Is Not Yarzoth

Sar, the 7th of Vult

A serpentfolk lies dead at our feet, but he is not Yarzoth the priestess we fought on Smuggler’s Shiv six months ago. This disturbs me. I felt sure that we would encounter her here in Tazion. Perhaps she has the fourth stone we need to operate this magical device which will show us where Saventh-Yi is. This guy doesn’t look like he had any luck. Maybe we need to search his belongings more. I was looking forward to defeating Yarzoth’s plans, whatever they were.

This guy was tough to kill and I enjoyed trading blows with him in our contest of arms. Yarzoth was just as tough, although she was able to get away and we didn’t end up killing her. He was quite a strong mage and the spells he flung about were deadly. It looked like he singled me out for a while there and really wanted to kill just me, and no one else. His slitted eyes had an aura of madness and anger. I wonder what he was doing here? Did Yarzoth leave him here to lay in wait for anyone following her? Was he trying to find Saventh-Yi himself? What is his relationship with the apemen infesting Tazion? Hey, nice cloak, I wonder if it will fit me?

Even before the battle, most of us were battered and drained. That floral-plant-creature we fought earlier, not to mention those damn leeches, took quite a bit out of my constitution, leaving me weak and compromising my breathing. Dadak was affected some, as well. And now, after the fight against this latest serpentfolk, even Pol is poisoned. Still, we’re better off than Ja’Redd. N’Ketchi says he will be able to do something for us in the morning once he communes with Gozrah, but even then there is nothing he can do for him. Because of the doubts I have about Ja’Redd, I hesitate to remind Dadak of the resurrection scroll we found as treasure on Smuggler’s Shiv that he keeps in his haversack. Since Ja’Redd joined us in Kalabuto I’ve noticed some things he’s tried hard to keep hidden. He’s tried to keep hidden his use of poison on his crossbow bolts a time or two and their effects match the poison used by those assassins in Kalabuto; the assassins that almost killed me! Although it was dark when I fell, I recall them using punching daggers like the one Ja’Redd used. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so. Also, I worry that he is a spy for another faction.

Be as it may, Saventh-Yi must be close. We need to recover the last stone and make this damn contraption work. There are still battles in front of me, I am ready!

—From the log of Kreshton Rel’Astra

Six Months Ago

Zol the 3th of Nymm

Place: Trolanport, Zilargo. Ambassador’s Residence

Good, good. I think tonight will be the night. Months of waiting has finally paid off. It looks like my parents will be engrossed with their new elven court bard for the rest of the evening and I can make my getaway. My brother Boliiar and my sister Aluthiel are out at the ball for the new Mror Holds ambassador to Zilargo and they won’t be returning until late. The court wizard has returned briefly to Sharn and is attending some gathering to discuss the expanding Mournland, so I need not fear any arcane searches for a while yet, at least not untile my parents have realized that I have left. I had the servants bring a cask of wine to my rooms and I’ve made it clear to them that I plan to drink it all myself – again. They have been instructed that I am not to be disturbed until early in the afternoon tomorrow. I am saddened at the good wine I’ve been throwing out in my ruse these last few weeks, but I am tired of living my life at the commands of others. Subterfuge is required if I am to make my way out of these walls and become my own man. It is the perfect time to go.

Down the wall, using the vine creepers growing upon them to keep me up, I climb to the gardens (a skill probably not too different than climbing the rigging on a ship at sea). I wrap my dark cloak around myself and the long bundle I carry and move away. Stealthily, I creep through the mansion grounds to the western corner where the mausoleums and tombs that hold my forebearers sit and I stop to pull open the door guarding my uncle’s final resting place. The door opens with barely a squeal and I give a quick smile; it seems that my previous covert trips to lubricate the doors have been fruitful. The lantern I left several months back takes long moments to finally light; the oil seems to have been sitting too long. The alcove where my uncle Salreon lay, clutching his scabbarded blade, materializes as the lantern thrusts the darkness away and I stop to look at his shrouded form.

I hesitate to continue. To bolster my courage I quietly recite to myself all the reasons why I am here; the dead have always given me nightmares, plus, this is my uncle’s body I dare to disturb. I remove a sharp knife from my belt and begin to cut the burial shroud from his hands – I cannot bear to look at his wrapped face for fear of a silent reproach for the deed I am committing. Grave robbing, there is no other word for it. My hands shake. No one will believe my tales of my uncle’s wishes when he died earlier this year; my mother went even as far as to burn the document penned with his own hand stating them, so there is no proof. I must do this alone. The hands clasping the bound blade and scabbard are grey with age, but the cold has made them strong and I am forced to break a finger or two to finally release it from my uncle’s grasp. I dare not look back up at him as I bend down to replace the sword with a wooden replica and try to cover any traces of disturbance. I am the first to come here since he was laid down to his rest and, barring some sudden tragedy to my family, I doubt any others will have reason to come down here as well. The dust of almost a year will accumulate again, so long as no one comes to look closely.

One last look and I quietly make my way to the walls and deftly climb out of the mansion grounds. Heart thumping so that it can almost be heard from out of my chest, I rush my way down into Trolanport to get lost in the crowds, every step I fear to hear my name being called out or to run into someone who knows my face. Citizens of Zilargo are a nosy sort. But, to my relief, that does not happen. A few short minutes and I am standing inside a wine merchant’s shop as he searches in the back of his store for the supplies I’ve stored here. I can tell his business has seen the sudden uptick in clientele because of the nobles, or actually, their servants, I have been directing here. The moneys he has gained from my subtle glowing reviews of his wares will more than offset the small amount of space unused for this trade to hide the items that I have quietly gathered over the last few months and stashed here.

I duck into the back and spend long minutes climbing into the unfamiliar leather armor I purchased months ago and I strap on my gear for my final trip to the docks. My precious map of Xen’Drik goes into my pack along with rope, flint, and the sleeping blanket with my identification papers rolled within them at the bottom. Other odds and ins, the list I gleaned from the stories and books I’ve read that are indispensable to adventurers, goes on top. I buckle a couple of matching throwing axes to my legs (matching because there are appearances that must be kept!). I leave the sword, still wrapped in my cloak, to be donned later when I am away from the shop; the sight of the flashy, expensive sword may make the wine merchant greedy to supplement his income with the news of my presence if they come searching for me. Last, a hat, feather and all, completes my outfit. I look like a dapper young swashbuckler to the hilt.

As I continue onwards towards the docks I am surrounded by the bustling port of Trolanport, Zilargo. Gnomes are everywhere, their dark little eyes watching everyone and everything. Gossip and knowledge are ambrosia to their people and I am sure my presence has been noted by several passerbys. Even the humans, and the fewer dwarves, that make up this country may have noticed me for this society’s foundation is the gathering of knowledge, the making of deals and the ferreting of little webs of deceit. There is nothing to do for that but to continue on through the evening’s cool air towards the smell of salt and the waiting sea.

I stop at the first sight of the bustling port below me. A myriad of ships are docked there and I search for the location where the Jenivere has tied up. Then I see her! My heart races! Although she is just a merchant ship, a Wyvern-class one at that, she is the most beautiful thing I have seen. Ships like her have made claims to have sailed around the southern tip of Argonessen. Although she is not a warship like my uncle described to me, her lines show her seaworthiness; plus, I could never deal with the order and discipline that a military ship would make me fit into. I am to be a passenger aboard her, for when I last spoke to her captain, a man called Kovach, he would not hire me on as crew. That will not stop me from learning every inch of her, of course; my last few coins handed to right crewmen should get me some action pulling ropes, swabbing the decks, and a bit of steering, maybe. Anyways, who has ever heard of a sailor who would not prefer to shirk some of his duties? I am not afraid of getting my hands dirty with their rough sort, though my clothes will be a bit tougher to keep clean.

The Jenivere’s first mate, a man by the name of Alton Devers is waiting to take my coin and move me aboard. I have a few good stories to tell the man in the hopes of getting on his good side. I’m off to live the adventures that my uncle described – adventures that await any brave soul – and I hope to live up to the expectations he would presume of me. On the evening tide, the Jenivere will depart this place. Sharn, then Xen’Drik are ahead of me; my old life of idleness and indolent duties as a third born child will be behind me.

Finally, I buckle my uncle’s sword, no – my, rapier – to my side. I start my walk down to the docks and the Jenivere. I am ready to meet my fate.

Kreshton Rel’Astra’s first log

A Song of Women
Dadak's Tales

The darkness and stillness is welcome for a change. I sit guard at this slightly ajar door listening, looking, and waiting for trouble in the corridor outside – none is forthcoming. My companions sit about a darkened room and a small campfire, waiting for fatigue to ease them from this world for a few hours. I don’t need much sleep to recover my wits and spells, thank goodness, and my dark vision suits me for this monotonous task. I don’t mind the sentinel’s task, and I don’t mind sitting here alone with Kailia. It is peaceful.

DadaK (gruniting): Yes… it can become boring though, can’t it Kailia.
Kailia: Puuuuurrrrrrr…….

This task does gets the mind to drifting. Hmmmm…. <smile> How did that song go….?

DadaK: “Hhhmmmm Hmmmm Hmmmm Hmmmmmm….” “Hhhmmmm Hmmmm Hmmmm Hmmmmmm….”

Kreshton (quietly): Dadak, what are you humming up there?
Dadak (not so quietly): Just a nonsense song, popular in my tribe.
Kreshton (quietly): Oh, a song? What is it about?
Dadak: It’s a nonsense song used to irritate and attract females.
Kreshton (not so quietly): Reeeeaaally? How does it go?

Kreshton, always interested in relations to women, sits upright to listen better.

Dadak: I need a moment…. It is a chant, to a double beat. Boom, Boom.. Pause.. Boom , boom.. Let me see….

Look here (boom, boom), look here, graaah! (pause.. boom, boom),
Arms strong (boom boom), Legs strong, graaah! (pause.. boom, boom),
I am Dadak (boom boom), See me.. Come! Ha! (pause.. boom, boom)…

Kreshton (not so quietly): Hahaha… that is great! It has a catchy beat.
Dadak (smiling): Ha, we sing it to entice our women. Usually they mock us with playful spite. But when they run they don’t get far.. haha.
Kreshton (not so quietly): Do you know more to this tune?
Dadak: Yes, some. And usually we do a warrior dance to the song.
Kreshton (not so quietly): Reeeeaaally? Show me.
Pol raises an eyebrow.

Dadak performs a quick thumping, stomping, jig, which Kreshton, with his seamen’s skills, quickly jumps up and masters.

Kreshton: Sing more!

Dadak (a powerful orc performing chest thumping, leg slapping, stomping, and jumping in rhythm):

Look here (boom, boom), look here, graaah! (pause.. boom, boom),
Arms strong (boom boom), Legs strong, graaah! (pause.. boom, boom),
I am Kreshton (boom boom), See me.. Come! Ha! (pause.. boom, boom)…

Kreshton joins the dance. Pol sits up.

Look here (boom, boom), look here, graaah! (pause.. boom, boom),
Tusks large (boom boom), hair long, graaah! (pause.. boom, boom),
I am Kreshton (boom boom), I see you.. I come! Ha! (pause.. boom, boom)…

Kreshton dances vigorously. N’ Ketchi and Ja’Redd clap in unison. Even Pol, ever ready and focused, taps his foot to the song.

Look here (boom, boom), look here, graaah! (pause.. boom, boom),
Power (boom boom), I take you, with power, graaah! (pause.. boom, boom),
I am Kreshton (boom boom), Join me in fire.. We come! Ha! (pause.. boom, boom)…

Kreshton and Dadak stop and laugh together, along with Pol, N’Ketchi , and Ja’Redd. Five grown men forget their worries and troubles for a short while, happily telling stories of love conquests and heartbreaks through the night until fatigue finally overcomes. Tomorrow soon to come is another of trials to be borne.


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