Sanctum of the Serpent God – The Doors to Hunter’s Maze
Tabansi’s Journal, Part 58
We had finally succeeded in rescuing the Pathfinder Eando Kline from the clutches of the serpentfolk, and now both he and us needed a bit of a rest. Eando himself was in a pretty poor state, even after Derek had been able to use his healing magic on him. He was very happy to see his companion Juliva though, and was eager to tell us of the dangers that the serpentfolk represented, for he believed that they were working to bring their dead god Ydersius back, and in doing so they would claim back their territories on the land above.
First though, Eando needed some rest, and we took him up to the surface to visit the city of Saventh-Yhi which he had never seen before, and was keen to spend some time exploring. On arrival back at our camp, we find it in a poor state, on the verge of collapse. On the nights prior to our return, bands of Charau-ka had attacked the camp and come close to overrunning it. Fortunately the guards had managed to repel the attacks, but at considerable cost. We decide that some of us should spend a few days at the camp to ensure that they don’t return.
Whilst we were in Saventh-Yhi, I took Eando around some of the safer parts of the city, where he helped decipher some of the writings we had found. He confirmed that the city of Saventh-Yhi is directly about the serpent city of Ilmurea, as well as some of the stories we had heard about the slaying of Ydersius by decapitation.
Player’s Note: Whilst we had been exploring the subterranean city of Ilmurea, events on the surface had continued, with our camp investigating the parts of the city that we had made safe, and fighting off the occasional attack.
Whilst I was helping Eando Kline, our wizardly diviner Ek’Tura tries to locate the Urdefhan general Belkor, who we had previously offered to find and slay. Apparently he had betrayed the rest of the Urdefhan by siding with the serpentfolk, and they had promised us an alliance if we found Belkor and brought back his head.
It was noticed that the fortress of the Thousand Fangs seemed to being abandoned, with the serpentfolk packing up and teleporting away. Where to wasn’t known, but it suggests that we may have stirred things up and put something in motion. Ek’Tura was able to scry on Belkor though, and saw him talking to another Urdefhan who seemed to be a priest of Trelmarixian, the Horseman of Famine.
The priest seemed to distrust Belkor, and even threatens to lock him up, but the actual nature of their disagreement isn’t determined.
Ek’Tura flew to visit the Urdefhan leader Izon, to report on what he’d seen. Izon was disappointed that Ek’Tura had not brought the general’s head as promised, but was possibly interested to hear the intelligence. After making Ek’Tura wait for a long time, he finally says to him “Tell Valgaunt to return to me”, and sends Ek’Tura away. Further scrying on Belkor shows that he now appears to be sitting silently with a number of dishevelled looking Morlocks. I wonder whether the priest made good on his promise and locked the general up somewhere. In any case, we still have no idea where he actually is.
We also used the opportunity to visit the city of Absalom and perform a bit of shopping. I saw a shiny ring that I really liked the look of, and managed to pool together pretty much my entire savings in order to purchase it.
Player’s Note: Tabansi picked up a Ring of Protection +5, for the eye-watering cost of 50,000gp. This turned out to have been a good choice almost immediately. There had also been a set of bracers of armour +7, which were very slightly cheaper. However, though I liked the idea of not having to wear armour, the ring gave better protection overall.
Once we had completed our shopping, and Eando had had time to recover, we sat down for a discussion on what our next plan was. Eando filled us in on what he knew.
Amongst the serpentfolk has arisen a purecaste called Vyr-Azul, who is a priest of their god Ydersius. He believes that their god is not truly dead, for when the human Savith cut off the serpent god’s head, she merely tossed it into a pool of lava. The body itself was not destroyed, and is said to be somewhere in the Darklands.
Vyr-Azul has raised an army of serpentfolk, and there are many more purecaste like himself still in hibernation, and they are ready to invade the surface world once a ritual has been performed to bring Ydersius back from the dead. Humanity struggled to fight back the serpentfolk when they were at the height of their power, so if Ydersius returns it could mean disaster.
Not only will we need a way to disrupt the ritual, but we will probably need an army of our own to fight against the serpents. Where we will get that army from, we don’t yet know.
Vyr-Azul himself is in a place called the Sanctum of Ydersius, which is probably the most well-guarded place in Ilmurea. It’s a fortress-temple built into the cavern walls outside the city. Eando has never been there, but he knows that the serpent armies are there, and that is is protected by near-impenetrable serpentfolk magic.
Even with an army though to hold off the bulk of the serpents, we will probably need a weapon to use against Vyr-Azul. The morlocks told of a great weapon used in the past against the serpents, which the ancestor gods hid in a place called the Hunter’s Maze. Eando recommends trying to find the weapon whilst he does some research.
He believes that there could be more information in the city of Saventh-Yhi, maybe even something on how to defeat Ydersius if he should rise again.
Eando had previously tried to raise his concerns with the Pathfinder Society, but they had rebuffed him, so he considered himself no longer to be part of that group, and as far as he was concerned, we were on our own for now.
Player’s Note: The story of Eando Kline’s original discovery of the Serpentfolk, and his betrayal by another Pathfinder, is detailed in the tales in the Second Darkness adventure path, which I came across whilst prepping for my Rise of the Runelords campaign (there was a possibility of some crossover with Second Darkness depending on what the player’s ended up doing).
We decided that the Hunter’s Maze sounded like a good place to start, and managed to find a Morlock that could take us there – though the Morlocks were too afraid of the place to enter it themselves.
The Maze was at the far north end of the city of Ilmurea, behind a region of ruined buildings and collapsed rubble. Several ramps led up to barricades and a set of caves set into the cavern walls, as well as a couple of larger entrances one of which was blocked by an impressive set of double doors.
I scout ahead, moving through the rubble below to see if there is any sign of habitation. Encountering some tracks, they lead me to a ruined building where inside is an Urdefhan archer apparently on the look out from threats from the south. Deciding to leave him alone, I made my way further round to find a second Urdefhan.
Making use of our telepathic communication, I requested for Arkin to scout the southern side of the ruins for any sign of what the Urdefhan might be guarding against, but he found nothing. Now that we were closer to the back wall though, we notice that there are guards behind the barricades, a jackal headed outside of some kind, as well as a handful of Urdefhan.
We both made our way back to the rest of the party, and Ek’Tura identified the creature as a Meladaemon that represented Famine. This suddenly all made sense, given that the Horsemen are all powerful Daemons. It strongly suggested that the Urdefhan here were allied with the priest of Trelmarixian, and maybe also Belkor.
In any rate, we expected that a Daemon such as this might be a tough opponent, but with a bit of preparation we shouldn’t have too much difficulty in taking one down, along with the Urdefhan, and quickly making our way into the Hunter’s Maze. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be that easy.
We spent some time preparing ourselves with protective magics, notably Ek’Tura summoned a Movanic Deva that was able to protect us with a Holy Aura.
We flew quickly up onto the ledge at the top of the ramps, and immediately launched an assault on the guards. Athazog charged the Daemon, but was hit a solid blow as he moved in, immediately being beset by sharp hunger pangs. I tried to provide long range support, aiming to take down some of the Urdefhan – but though a few of my arrows stick into their armour, none suffered a fatal shot. Derek moved in and tried to bind the Daemon with a Chains of Light, but it deftly dodged that and hit us with a Horrid Wilting. Fortunately the angelic aura that protected us shielded us from this.
As the fight continued, we noticed that the Daemon and Urdefhan from the other barricade had noticed the fight and were moving towards us. We were also being shot by arrows from the ruins below, so we moved back against the wall to gain cover. Eventually I took down an Urdefhan with a volley of arrows, and the Deva managed to take down another. These were not the easy targets we were hoping for, and though we had now taken a couple down, we hadn’t been able to concentrate our attacks on the daemon as quickly as we’d hoped. As more arrow shots begin to come in against us from the second group of Urdefhan, Derek took a break from keeping us alive with his healing magic to put up a wall of fire to shield us from the arrows.
This didn’t prevent the second Daemon from flying over the wall and joining the fight. It dropped a lightning bolt at Athazog an Ek’Tura, hitting them both – mostly to the concern of Ek’Tura who wasn’t used to being on the front line. It then charged down at me, and I’m also not used to being on the front line. In an attempt to free up the others so they could come to my aid, I shot another volley at the first daemon, whilst trying to keep out of reach of the one biting and clawing at me.
Ek’Tura detected that something was trying to teleport, and managed to block it – either a daemon was trying to escape, or was trying to summon things in. The daemon surrounded by the Deva and Athazog then flew up into the air out of our reach, freeing them to come to my aid against the one trying to eat me. Ek’Tura dropped a Glitterdust on it, and it immediately teleported out which Ek’Tura is unable to block.
We were left wounded but still alive, having failed to take down the two daemons. However, their flight gave us time to catch our breath and consider what to do next.