After resting the night and curing themselves, as well as stocking up on supplies, the adventuring group made ready to pursue the snakemen slavers deep into the jungle, perhaps into the Forbidden City itself. Traveling light, they would leave their beasts of burden behind, hoping to move fast enough through the jungle to overtake the caravan with Ardu and the others, even though the serpent people had a few days head start.
It was thus that Kalphistane, Cadelaine, Endefal, Mongo, Alando, Nadal, Kumar, Sholo and the loyal ape Gra-Gra made their way into the wilderness. Outside of the Valley of the Elephant, they back-tracked their way to the site of the ambush, and from there, began following the trail left behind by the serpent men.
The small group made good time through the jungle for the next three days…traveling quickly and quietly, they were able to avoid any dangerous encounters. Covering almost 30 miles in three days, they were able to eat up the distance between themselves and the captured slaves, but still the serpent men stayed maddeningly ahead of them. On the 4th day, resting inside a cavern, they were attacked by a large group of Carrion Crawlers who proved tough foes, having honeycombed the cave complex with many tunnels they used to attack by surprise. However, Cadelaine’s Web spell, as well as summoned and enlarged giant ants from Kal, turned the tide and allowed the party to kill all the crawlers and discover a small amount of treasure.
The next day the party traveled yet deeper into the jungle, and going began to get tough. It became obvious they were far, far off the beaten path, perhaps going where no outsiders had ever traveled before. Soon they began to see signs of the snake people, along with marks like beasts of burden and wagons. The next day, early on, they heard sounds of a large group heading through the jungle. Cadelaine and Mongo very stealthily scouted ahead and saw a small caravan of serpent people leading a group of slaves! Unfortunately, after following them for awhile they realized the slaves were not Ardu and the rest of the members of House Valaryan. Nevertheless, they hurried back to the group, where plans were made to rescue the slaves and kill the slavers.
Quietly and carefully scouting, the party numbered the enemy at around 20 tasloi, the same amount of ophidians, and nine pureblood serpentmen with three wagons and around a couple of dozen men in chains. Traveling ahead and setting up an ambush, the party hit the wagons with Entangle and Web as soon as they got near, and commenced with missile weapons on the serpentmen driving the wagons. The first two serpentmen drivers threw up darkness spells to shield them, but their allies the tasloi and ophidians were not as lucky and several were brought down with arrows and slings.
As Alando, Sholo, and Kumar stayed in cover of the jungle and used missile weapons, the rest of the party attacked. Cadelaine used several poisoned arrows and invisible attacks to confuse the enemies, while Endefal, Nadal and Mongo rushed in for hand to hand combat. Kal changed into leopard form to attack and destroy half a dozen tasloi, chasing them through the jungle and bringing them down. Mongo attacked his hated enemy with a fury, downing three ophidians and working towards the serpent men leaders themselves, as he and Endefal attacked their sworn nemesis. The druid Kal’s spells of summon insects and giant insects worked well as several giant wasps also aided the party members in stinging and killing serpent men, and Gra-Gra battled one serpent man to the death.
The battle was long and hard, and before it was over the middle wagon had been set afire by Endefal during the heat of battle, and the serpent and their allies were scattered. Mongo and Endefal managed to bring down three of the serpent men leaders each, and once the leaders were down their servants were no match. Several tasloi escaped into the jungle, but the ophidians and their masters were butchered to the last snake. Unfortunately in their anger the party had managed to destroy every reptile, with no one left to question! After the battle, as Endefal made his usual pyramid of heads, the enslaved merchants were released. Their leader, Marsh, was a fighter with House Tarn and thanked them profusely. He told the party members that they had been ambushed while trading with some of the more distant Ashante tribes, which was very lucrative since the attacks by serpent men had become worst in the last few months. Marsh mentioned the snake men, when attacking them, made sure not to try not to kill anyone and he had caught snatches of conversation that the party was destined to be sacrificed to some great evil! He affirmed their destination was a place called “The Forbidden City”, and from some notes and maps found among the serpent men’s supplies they soon pieced together where it was relative to the information they already had…not five miles distant, almost to the western edge of the Great Plateau itself!
Marsh stated that now rescued, he would take his decimated merchant train straight back to civilization, trying to avoid all conflict and ambushes, and let the leaders of House Mith and House Valaryan know of the dangers here. He rewarded the party members with a small bit of treasure and a small horde of potions he had kept hidden in a wagon, grateful as he was. He also gave them anything from the wagons they needed, and the party loaded up on flour, dried figs and dried pears as they might need the supplies in the future. Marsh also mentioned the village of his last trading partners, and drew the party a map to the heavily fortified location. He said the chief, Juma, had managed to hold out against many serpent men attacks and was now avoided by the scaly ones….the party would find a place to rest, recover and re-supply there if they wished. He gave them a note, written in Ashante, and told them to give it to Juma when they saw him so the native chief would recognize them as friends. At this, he and the survivors of his merchant train quickly began heading NW back to civilization. The party moved towards Juma’s village and camped for the night off the trail in case the escaped tasloi brought trouble. Another wave of Remove Curse and Cure Disease spells would follow the next day for the party members bitten by the ophidians, and after curing they slowly and carefully made their way through the jungle towards Juma’s village….