Serpent’s Skull – Part 56

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The Thousand Fangs Below – Serpents and Wizards

Tabansi’s Journal, Part 56

Having been forced back every time we have tried to penetrate the Fortress of the Thousand Fangs, we decided to try a more subtle approach. Ek’Tura used his magic to scout alone into the Fortress to try and get a better idea of what could be found there.

He returned some time later, alive and unharmed, and provided us with a bit more information about the layout of the Fortress. There was still no sign of the pathfinder Eando Kline though, neither was there of the Urdefhan general Belkor. However, he located a temple to the serpent god Ydersius where the serpent folk priests still seemed to be actively worshipping. That god should have been killed many ages ago, so we hoped that the priests are simply deluded as to the power of their ancient god. Attempts at scrying the location of Eando Kline indicated that he might be up near the neck of the snake.

Derek was able to perform a Commune with her goddess Sarenrae, and determined that Eando is still alive and being held prisoner here, but his exact location was still unknown.

Now that Ek’Tura had a better understanding of the interior, he was able to dimension door us directly into a far more varied set of locations. The following day we moved close to the Fortress, prepared our spells expecting immediate combat, and teleported ourselves directly to the neck of the snake close to the upper temple.

Player’s Note: We went in with several spells pre-cast, including Haste, Air Walk, Wind Walk, Heroes Feast and Darkvision. Tabansi also had Greater Longstrider, Ironskin and Gravity Bow cast on himself.

We appeared outside a set of double doors which Ek’Tura believed to contain something of importance. Breaking through though, we discovered that it is simply a barracks of sorts, and is empty of any guards. Through the other side was a vestry that seemed to be a small place of worship – it contained religious scrolls, prayer matts and religious writings on the walls.

Ek’Tura was convinced that there had to be secret doors beyond these rooms, but a quick search found none. Whilst Ek’Tura continued to search using his magic, most of the rest of us, aware that our various spells had only a limited life, left the room and headed up the passage towards the main temple. I moved ahead and found the temple of Ydersius first. It was a massive room, with a dais and altar at the far end, flanked by double doors. Before the dais floated a huge three headed serpent with three tails. Upon walking into the room, I was immediately struck by the unholiness of the place, which sucked some life out of me and also drained one of the spells that was on me.

Player’s Note: There was probably a Forbiddance on the room, which causes harm to anyone who tries to enter not of the same alignment as the cleric that placed it there. An Unhallow effect would also allow a Dispel Magic to be placed on the room which affects anyone not of the same faith or alignment.

I mentally called out to the others, and shot three arrows into it, but it quickly moved up to me – striking with its tail and began crushing the life out of me whilst its three heads bit at me with fangs dripping with acid. If it hadn’t been for Derek being able to move close and lay a Heal upon me, I would have died.

Both Arkin and Athazog move up to attack the beast, but it grabs them as well in its coils, continuing to bite and crush me. Though Athazog is able to bite and claw at it, none of us are able to escape. Both Ek’Tura and Derek hit it with spells from a distance, but it continues to crush all three of us. Finally Derek speaks holy words of destructive power and utterly destroy it.

We quickly search the room, finding a secret cupboard behind the altar in which are some silver religious artefacts and candles.

Healing up and moving back down the passage, we came to a single door recessed into the wall. It appeared to be locked, and whilst Arkin tried to open it I moved quietly further down the passage to investigate the double doors that Ek’Tura had found in his scouting. The smaller door seemed to be locked with magic which Arkin could not get through, but the double doors were open and I could hear a number of creatures moving around beyond. Further down the passage it looked like what used to be a gate that barred the passage had collapsed, blocking off much of the passage but leaving a much narrower path through.

Player’s Note: The ranger ability Camouflage allowed Tabansi to hide himself even though there was no cover in the corridor.

It was then that a serpentfolk guard came out. Hugging the wall, it didn’t see me but turned up the passage towards us and started walking up. I mentally signalled to the others that combat was about to ensue, and shot it in the face. It didn’t go down, but before I could finish it Ek’Tura summoned a Tyrannosaurus Rex which appeared right next to me and bit it in half.

A second serpentfolk came out, sees the dinosaur and ran back inside. His friends were less concerned though, and started rushing out of the room. The rest of the party move up to form a line, and there is a quick battle with half a dozen or so of the creatures. The T-Rex ate several, though was sometimes too preoccupied with the eating to prevent them moving past it and onto us. Soon they were all slain though.

A quick look into the room beyond the double doors showed that it was just an empty barracks. As the sound of more booted feet could be heard coming up from further down the passage, a blue scaled serpentfolk came out of the magically locked door behind us and tried to lay an enchantment on me, but I resisted it.

Serpentfolk Wizard

The wizard’s form was masked by multiple copies of herself, and even those were indistinct and hazy.

Derek healed the now heavily wounded Tyrannosaur and stood with it against the guards coming from below, whilst the rest of us turned to face the wizard. I placed a few arrows through the false images, taking them out, whilst Athazog ran up to her and started hacking at the illusions. Ek’Tura outlined her form in glittering dust to prevent her from turning herself invisible. She tries another spell, and both Athazog and myself found ourselves magically paralysed for a short time. She then quickly cast several rays of scorching fire at Ek’Tura, burning him badly.

As both Athazog and myself break out of the paralysis, the new set of guards succeeded in slaying the Tyrannosaur. Derek quickly sealed off the passage with a wall of Ice and Ek’Tura begins summoning another creature.

The serpentine wizard opened a pit beneath Athazog’s feet, but he was able to instinctively quickly jump back, realising only afterwards that he had no need to due to being floating just above the ground on an air walk.

As I took down more of her images, Ek’Tura finished summoning a Brachiosaur. The wizard moved back into her room, Athazog following. However she put up an invisible cage of force around him, which he again dodged with his finely honed barbarian instincts. Now though she was inside her room, the force cage blocking the door.

As the guards started breaking through the ice wall, Ek’Tura took himself, Arkin and myself through a dimension door into the room with the wizard, leaving Derek and Athazog to defend the main passage.

She was heavily protected, and even after her false images have been taken down, she was still not only cloaked in illusions that masked her position, but also greatly protected from physical attack. Arkin was unable to do much to her, and Ek’Tura took sonic form to try to strike her.

Player’s Note: At this point, finding it incredibly difficult to hit her even with his favoured enemy bonuses (and not using Deadly Aim), Tabansi spends a Hero Point to gain an extra action, which he uses to mark her as a Quarry. Not only does this make her slightly easier to hit, but also automatically confirms any critical hits.

Our assumptions are that at the very least she had Mirror Image, Displacement and Stoneskin protecting her.

We gradually wore her down until she realised she needed to escape. Her first attempt is blocked though by Ek’Tura, who sensed her trans-dimensional escape attempt and was able to block it. She tried again, and this time succeeded, vanishing from the room.

A quick search found a large number of scrolls, as well as a hidden door. Hoping to find Eando Kline somewhere here, I ran through the door to another room which seemed to be an arcane laboratory. Inside was a cage in which was a very dead and dissected Urdefhan. At the other end of the room was a door, from behind which I could hear the movement of several creatures – probably more serpentfolk.

At this point we decided that further engagement with foot soldiers isn’t of much use, so finished raiding the laboratory and sanctum of anything valuable. Once the pit closed and forcecage went down, we were able to join Derek and Athazog outside in the passage.

In the meantime, the guards had broken through the wall of ice and slain the summoned creatures, but Derek had resealed the passage with a wall of fire which had succeeded in keeping them back. We gather together, and Ek’Tura used his Getaway spell to take us back to our camp. We still hadn’t located our targets, but at least we feel that we had dealt a solid blow against the serpentfolk.

Samuel Penn