Friday, April 30, 2010


Using Stone Shape, Endefal fashioned a proper door from the secret room to the outer room, making the area they would rest in more secure. After a few hours, the rain died down and finally stopped, and the group began taking guard shifts as the others rested. As the group fitfully tried to rest in their dirty but secure hideaway inside one of the ruins, Mongo heard sounds of furtive searching right outside the room. Peeking through the cracks in the wall, he spotted two natives talking in Delosian, surrounded by a dozen or so giant rats, which seemed to do the native’s bidding! He heard enough to realize the natives were looking for the party, as they had witnessed the destruction of the snakemen, and had even hunted down and killed the one escaping snakeman. They spoke vaguely of allying with the party, as apparently the snakemen were also enemies of their “group”. Walking out through the door weaponless, Mongo presented himself to the two startled natives, saying he would like to talk and parley with him. Several other party members also emerged, and the native types introduced themselves as Damu and Jamal, with Damu doing most of the talking.

Soon, gathered around a small fire in the main room, Damu explained the circumstances of who and what he was. Very quickly the group grasped the fact that Damu and Jamal were lycanthropes, obviously wererats. Damu did not deny this and explained it was the only reason they had survived so long in the city, as they used the underground sewers to travel across the ruined landscape. He said most were bit while they were enslaved, and the bites allowing the change to rat form allowed them to escape the clutches of the snakemen. However, he stated, snakes and rats are natural enemies, and they hunted each other through the jungle ruins of the Forbidden City. Damu stated that this was why the snakemen traveled in groups within the city, a snakeman traveling alone would be quickly ambushed and killed by many wererats and giant rats.

Mongo and the party members asked the duo many questions about the ruins, mostly if they knew where the “headquarters” of the serpentmen was, and if there was an underground way there. Damu stated that the sewers were very dangerous to travel unless one was in rat form, and that close to the western edge of the city the tunnels were guarded by weird fungoid ghouls that prevented most passage. He said he suspected the main lair of the serpent men was beyond these guards. When asked about the Necromancer Horan, Damu stated that he never bothered them, so the wererats left him alone. Asked about the swamp dragon, Damu said he rarely left the swamp, and he had personally never actually seen the giant reptile. Further conversation during the night (only interrupted by Damu pausing to go outside and kill several fire beetles for their light glands, which he said they could use for trade goods) let the party know the wererats worshiped at an old temple of the city dedicated to the bat cult (a bat, he said, is a rat with wings, so what is holier?). Also, he knew of the humans and “mongrelmen” camped at the far west side of the city, as he traded with them often, and said he would bring the party there on the morrow. For his efforts, the party gave Damu some odds and ends for trade, including a mace, some sling bullets, and some arrows with steel heads. They also asked him about ways out of the city, and he mentioned three: a switchback trail to the west always guarded by snakemen; a tall tree in the south of the city that was several hundred feet high and grew near the cliff wall; and a possible tunnel to the north in a lizardman’s cave that was rumored to lead further north and eventually emerge from the city somewhere in the jungle….

The only sinister feeling the party got from Damu was his continually asking the party members if they too wished to be turned into wererats, with Damu offering to do the deed himself, saying it would greatly help them traverse the city and avoid capture. He seemed a bit too eager to do this, and asked continually about Cadelaine (who stayed invisible all night) since he had seen her earlier when she was visible, telling her that she was very beautiful and lovely…coming from the native wererat these words did not fill her with joy.

The next morning, Damu offered to guide the party to the mongrelmen camp by the most secretive and expedient way. They took him up on his offer, as he also told them he could get them past the guards who didn’t let anyone else in due to fear of the serpentmen and others. When asked why the serpent men didn’t either attack and kill or enslave the mongrelmen, Damu said they were not “real” people and the serpentmen seemed to disdain sacrificing them. Apparently, an attack on them would result in too many losses (the mongrelmen were over 100 strong) and so they were ignored in their corner of the ruined city.

Damu led the party on a twisting, hidden path through the city, pausing at one point to show them the magnificent ruins of the Bat God temple, which still rose high in the sky with two giant stone bats on either side of the entrance, a large opening which seemed to go inside the earth. Finally, the party came upon a block long area with piled rubble, and ten horribly deformed guards came out, spears in hand , and asked what the business of Damu and this strange group was!

Damu vouched for the party, saying they were travelers to the city and wished to trade with the mongrelmen and their leader. An old, robe covered shaman came shuffling out of the rubble and cast two spells on the party; Alando identified them as Detect Evil and Know Alignment. Apparently the party passed, as she then motioned the guards to let the party through. The party was escorted inside a long tunnel of rubble, with various mongrelmen hiding in all corners waiting to ambush any intruders. They finally exited the tunnel to a large open area with many hovels built from rubble and wreckage. In the center of the area stood three stone buildings. Towards the edge of the camp was a cooking area with several cooking pits and many unidentifiable pieces of meat hanging from hooks. Nearby was a meager vegetable garden and several scraggly fruit trees. As the party entered and several of the curious creatures pointed, whispered and began following them around, they saw an area off to one end through an archway that looked cleaner and more “civilized”. Out of this area came, surprisingly, a female elf, a human fighter, and several other non-mongrelmen!

Before they could talk with the human and elf, the leader of the mongrelmen emerged from one of the stone buildings. He was a massive specimen with many scars and wielding a large two handed sword. Speaking in a halting voice, he told them they would have to trade something of use before being allowed to enter the area. Endefal and Alando got down to haggling. For two blankets, a steel dagger, some sling bullets, and a few cowrie shells, the party was able to get a magic potion (Alando identified it as Water Breathing) and get into the chief’s good will. The chief told Mongo he wanted to wrestle him, and Damu whispered that wrestling the chief was the only way to earn his respect. However, he said the wrestling could wait until nightfall and the feast they would have in the party’s honor.

Leaving the mongrelmen portion of the camp, the party passed through the archway and entered a new world. Here, apparently, were many escaped slaves and members of ill-fated expeditions that had never been able to escape the valley. The elven female identified herself as Arathea, and said she was the leader of the group. She introduced the fighter at her side as Desteri, and said they were glad to see this party as they were anxious to leave this forsaken hell hole and get back to Port Maugre, where she had much gold and gems awaiting her return (and which she would gladly give to her rescuers). Soon, several other members of the small group came up and introduced themselves: Barren, a human mage who begged the party to take him with them; he said he would loyally serve whoever supplied him with a spellbook, as he had none and could only learn spells through Aratheas’ spell book; Gart, a priest of Vistna, who was ecstatic upon seeing Alando and bade him come talk to him privately, as he had several books and more he had located in the ruins during his many years here; Tulu and Ular, twin Ashante warriors who seemed happy and cheerful and strangely deferential to Aratheas; Lithy, a female halfling who seem rather wary of the party and stayed away from the group; Aster, a dwarven warrior missing a leg from the knee down, who seemed quite ill with some sort of coughing disease, and Desteri, who seemed to be Aratheas’ bodyguard and gave the party dirty looks, never leaving her side.

The party began mingling with the individuals and heard all their stories, as the lost explorers were quite eager to hear news from outside the city. Alando cast Detect Evil on the group, but got no strong detection of any type from any of the inhabitants. Alando got together with Gart, who told him he had been trapped here after an expedition of Vistnan priests was destroyed while exploring the city a couple of years earlier. They only survivor, and two powerless to escape alone, Gart had stumbled upon the mongrelmen encampment and showed them his healing powers, which gave them a reason to take him in. Gart had decided to stay as his healing powers, as well as a daily Create Water spell, helped the inhabitants survive. He also found many old books and such in the rubble, and read and translated them in his spare time. He was preparing a package for someone to deliver to the Vistnan temple in Port Maugre, and in answer to his prayers, another priest of Vistna had arrived! Alando offered to take the package back to civilization, and tell the priests at his temple that one of their own was still in the city.

As the priests talked, Endefal began talking to the dwarven warrior, who boasted that he by himself had killed a giant snaked the last week, even missing a leg! He seemed like he had once been a formidable warrior before the loss of his leg. He told Endefal and Kumar that he had been a mercenary guard of a merchant train that had gone too near the city and been attacked by serpentmen and their tasloi allies. In the battle his foot had been bitten by a snake, and the wound began to swell and fester. Delirious, he somehow found himself wandering in the Forbidden City days later, and was found by Mongrelmen and brought to the camp. The wound being beyond Gart’s ability to heal, he had to amputate instead, and now the dwarven fighter had to get around with a “peg leg” instead of a real one. Listening to Aster’s story, Endefal could hear a rasping far back in the dwarves’ throat. He asked him if the dwarf felt out of sorts, and Aster confirmed that he was often weak and had a bad cold. Casting cure disease on the dwarf, suddenly the warrior could breathe fine, and his sickness immediately disappeared! Extremely grateful, Aster thanked the priest of Attar, and said if only some way could be found of regenerating his leg, he would loyally follow and serve the priest. Endefal and Kumar however did not have this level of healing on a scroll, but they told the dwarven warrior they would return to heal him should they ever run across such healing.

Mongo was speaking with the native twins, who were eager to talk with a fellow Ashante warrior. They said they had been captured by slavers but escaped and came to the city, and helped out the group with their fishing and hunting skills. Mongo asked them if they wished to leave, but they said that they wished to do whatever Aratheas wanted them to. Suspicious, Mongo began questioning them further and soon decided that the female elf may have charmed the twins.

As for the elven mage, she greeted the party and asked them if there was any spot for herself and her bodyguard Desteri in the group, as they wished to escape this disgusting place and head back to civilization. Aratheas was beautiful and apparently a powerful mage, but something about her seem to grate on the party’s nerves. She seemed very imperious, and would only address the elven druid Kal and not the others of the party, assuming as an elf he was the leader. Barren, the human mage, whispered to the other party members that Aratheas was a egomaniacal bitch, and that she had tried to escape with other groups but had always been booted out of the group because of her imperious ways. He said she had charmed Desteri to serve and protect her, and lorded herself over the group because of her power. Incensed that beings were serving her against her will, Kumar and Endefal began casting Free Will spells on all the beings in the camp. Soon, Desteri and the twins had their own free will, and the human fighter Desteri was not happy! He yelled and insulted Aratheas because he now realized his feelings for her were a lie created by the charm. At the sudden loss of power, Aratheas sulked and pouted, upset at losing her charmed servants.

As this drama went on, Cadelaine decided to do a little sneaking about and searching. Still invisible (she had never appeared during the entire day to anyone), she snuck inside the largest area there in what was apparently Aratheas’ and Desteri’s quarters. Searching around, she managed to find a something buried beneath the ground under the blankets piled in the room, and inside found a container. Wary of runes written on the surface, Cadelaine used a long held scroll of Erase to destroy the runes, and then opened the box. Inside, she found three large diamonds, which she quickly pocketed, and a large spellbook…obviously Aratheas! Slipping the book into her backpack, Cadelaine covered the area best she could and snuck back out of the room.

Outside, Endefal was lecturing Aratheas on the folly of charming people to serve against their will. Obviously upset, Aratheas stomped off to her quarters. After she left, Barren again begged the party for a chance to leave with them, saying if only someone gave him a spellbook, he would serve them loyally. He said he was here because of an ill fated expedition to the swamp dragon’s cave, where the rest of his party had died under the jaws of crocodiles, with himself the only survivor (but at the cost of his spellbook). Meanwhile, Mongo had managed to convince the now un-charmed Ashante brothers that they should leave when he left, and the cheerful duo agreed they would love to finally make their way back to their tribe now that they suddenly did not wish to stay with the pretty elven lady any longer! Gart turned down the party’s offer to leave, as he said he was needed to help the mongrelmen survive, and the halfling Lithy said she was too frightened of the creatures of the city to ever leave. Aster said he wished he could leave but without his leg he would only slow the party down. Desteri said that now that the elven bitch didn’t have a hold on him, he was free to go as he pleased. He said he was a mercenary fighter hired to guard a caravan that had been captured (and escaped) from the serpentmen, and since that was months ago he was free to go with the party for a share of treasure or a flat payment.

Suddenly, a screaming was heard from Aratheas’ cave! She came storming out, holding an old looking scepter in her hand, demanding that whoever had stolen her spellbook give it back. Barren began laughing at her and said now she would see what life was like without a spellbook! Nearly incoherent with rage, she stated Barren must have stolen it, and it must be returned or he would die. Endefal quickly pulled out his Wand of Negation and zapped her scepter, but Aratheas in her rage didn’t even notice. Screaming something in elven, she pointed at the still chuckling Barren, and a lightning bolt zapped forth to incinerate him on the spot! All around stared in horror as the charred body of the mage fell to the ground, and at that the invisible Cadelaine attempted to stab the enraged mage. Unfortunately, Cadelaine barely scraped Aratheas, who turned in her fury and pointed a finger at Cadelaine, with another bolt flying out to slam the half elf hard against the rubble, knocked her unconscious! At this, the party sprang into action, with both Endefal and Kumar hitting the out of control mage with Fists of Faith, killing her on the spot. Alando quickly rushed to Cadelaine’s side, as smoke rose from the unconscious body. The bolt had struck her at a length of no more than five feet, melting several of her magical items (including her charm against disease and stone of silence) that had hung around her neck, as well as snapping her bow in half with the force of the bolt. Alando ministered to her as Kal and the rest took her scepter and other items from her body. Of the unfortunate Barren, nothing could be done, as he had been killed instantly and was far beyond any help.

At this commotion, the mongrelman leader and four huge bodyguards pushed into the enclosure, demanding to know what had happened. Seeing the dead bodies, especially that of Aratheas, the mongrelman leader went berserk. Saying they would pay for killing the “pretty lady”, he and his cohorts began swinging at Mongo, who stood in their way. The twins Tulu and Ular said they knew of a back way out, one they took when they went hunting or fishing, and the party (grateful they wouldn’t have to hack their way past 100 attacking mongrelmen) began heading out through the opening, with Mongo taking several savage blows as he covered for them. The wererat Damu was nowhere to be seen, but there was no time to look for him as the party (along with Desteri and the twins) quickly made their way out of the back entrance and across the rubble to the north.

After several minutes of running, they noticed only lackluster pursuit (mostly rocks and such being thrown), and the twins said they knew of a safe place to rest. Heading north, the small group found themselves in an enclosure open to the sky that looked a hundred yards or so around that was thickly grown with vegetation. Wary of the growth, the party was assured by Tulu and Ular that the area was safe, as they came here often. Sure enough, slipping through the very thick foliage about 50 yards, they came upon a beautiful, placid pool of what looked like fresh water in a small clearing inside the trees and vines.

The brothers said they often came here to fish and hunt (they said several birds and small mammals were within the wooded areas, and fish in the pool) and that they had never had an encounter with a monster within the area. Suspecting some greater power held sway here. Kal examined the foliage and found nothing of a poisonous or deadly nature, and that the water was fresh and pure, and the fruit and berries that grew within the garden like area were good and tasty. Questioning the brothers further, they admitted that a “beautiful lady, covered with a feathered cloak” would sometimes emerge from the water when they slept to talk to them. They had dreams about her they said, and the dreams seemed to make them fully rested.

Kal knew of certain creatures of the wood that may be protecting a place like this, but whether evil or benign it was often hard to say. However, since the being had treated the twins well, Kal suspected the spirit of this jungle area meant them no harm. Wishing to avoid a possible conflict, he found Desteri peeing against a tree and quickly charmed him, telling him not to despoil the forest, and to keep quiet…while apparently an accomplished and skilled fighter, his conversation since he had been rescued was mostly profanity laced cursing along with lewd and disgusting comments about women, especially the unconscious Cadelaine who was being carried along by Alando. Kal began to feel just a bit more understanding as to why Aratheas had charmed the noisy, not so smart fighting man…..better to have him under control than running around upsetting whatever spirit of the jungled lived here.

With Cadelaine barely conscious after the electrocution, Alando volunteered to take care of here while the others patrolled the area looking to see if there was anything they needed to guard against. Kal commanded the charmed Desteri to also stay, and the rest of the party went through the area to the other side and searched the rubble there. They found a building with trees and plants growing out through the center, complete with a skeletal body hanging from a limb. The party was suddenly attacked by deathfangs, undead flying snakes, but they were quickly disposed of with Endefal’s turning ability and Kal’s entangle spell. Nadal took possession of the dead warrior’s sword, which gleamed like it was new, indicated it was magic (a fact Alando verified when they brought it back to the hidden pool).

Returning to the pool as evening fell, the party soon fell into a deep, restful sleep. After awhile Kal awakened to find everyone around him overcome by sleep. He looked out in the moonlight and saw a beautiful maiden, clad in a white feathered cloak, emerge from the water and walk towards him. She smiled and introduced herself as Safania, and told Kal that she was the guardian of the pool and this area of the city. She said she was a swanmay, a magical creature that had lived for centuries here in the city, ever since it’s “fall”. She wouldn’t elaborate much, except for telling Kal that the once great city fell due to worship of “devils”, which could have been literal or figurative, and the machinations of the serpent men. She said her only purpose was to guard this area, and she had done so successfully for hundreds of years, destroying all invaders. Now inhabitants of the city knew better than to enter her grove, and this was one place in the city where beings could rest without fear of harm. She told Kal she only asked that the adventurers respect the woods and pond, and not to defile or desecrate the area in any way, and they would be free to drink the water, eat the fruit, and hunt some of the animals within. Kal asked her if any other beings like her inhabited the city, and Safania said she only knew of one, a water naga that once inhabited the lake on the east side of the city before it became the large swamp it was now. Safania said she had no contact with the naga in many, many years, and did not know if she still lived within the swamp. However, if she did, Safania told Kal she would also be an ally if approached with friendship.

Kal vouched for the behavior of the party, and told Safania he would make sure the adventurers obeyed her rules while in the sacred area. He noticed the holy symbol of Sybaris, god of lakes and streams (a servant of Kal’s god Faerel, but he did not mention that fact) hung around her neck and suspected she was a high level priest of that god, long forgotten here in the jungle city. After speaking with her, Kal went and laid down with his fellows and also fell into a deep sleep, after watching the woman change into a large swan and swim off across the pond….

The next morning, which was clear and warm, saw the party well rested and healed up after the most restful and deep sleep that had experienced since entering the city over two weeks earlier. Kal told the party what he had experienced that evening, and the group agreed this “safe place” must be protected at all costs. It would be a perfect base for rest and replenishment while exploring the rest of the city.

The little group had grown with the addition of the warriors Desteri, Tulu and Ular, and along with Kal, Endefal, Mongo, Cadelaine, Alando, Kumar, Sholo, Nadal and Gra-Gra, they were now a formidable fighting force. However, they faced even more enemies as they had angered the swamp dragon and his minions, the Necromancer Horan and his undead, the mongrelmen, and of course the evil serpent men. Perhaps only the wererats, along with the swanmay, had become allies of the group. They seemed to be no closer to rescuing their friend Ardu and time could be running out.
Alando faced the party and stated “We can’t keep running around with no goal or purpose. Today I have prayed for spells of guidance and divination, and we need to ask the right questions to find out what our next steps are here….”

Saturday, April 17, 2010


That night, again the party heard footsteps walking around above them. Endefal had used his spells to stone shape a proper trapdoor at the top of the stairs, so the party no longer worried about a monster “just dropping in” through the piled up rubble, but there still were chinks, cracks and holes in the above ceiling where light and small creatures could enter and exit…both a feature and a detriment to the hideout. However, no attacks followed the sounds of something traveling around outside. Gra-Gra was agitated by the sounds, and speaking to him Kal (who along with Alando had recovered from his sickness of the day before) found that he smelled undead, decaying flesh….meaning perhaps that undead creatures were outside.

At dawn, Cadelaine once again exited invisibly to check out the area. Soon Mongo followed, and he was surprised by the appearance of a short, pretty young woman in a long robe with an exotic look who stepped out of the rubble surrounding the basement to face him. She hailed Mongo and the party, said her name was Kwano, and that she was a servant of the necromancer Horan come to parley with the party. From the bushes emerged eight Ju-Ju zombies, who appeared to be controlled or following her orders, and nine more regular zombies trudged from the rubble to surround her.

The party emerged from the basement and began to talk with her, as she spoke of “her master” who she said was the rightful ruler of the Forbidden City. She said he was only a seeker of knowledge, did not like the serpentmen, and wished to meet with the party to discuss things of importance having to do with the city. Kwano suggested she stay with the party while the party leaders accompanied the undead guides back to Horan’s mansion to discuss these matters. The party leaders asked her a few questions about the city, but she was very guarded with her information. When asked about the humanoid settlement seen on the west side of the city, Kwano was dismissive, saying the beasts there were not human and beneath the interest of Horan. They asked her why the undead were attacking them if the necromancer was “neutral” as she said, and Kwano stated that the Ju-Ju zombies were created by the snakemen, the ones that served Horan were usurped with his magic from the snakemen’s control. She hinted at an alliance between Horan and the party, one for mutual benefit, if they would only listen to her master.

The party was highly suspicious and was having none of it. Huddling together, they determined that it would be better to take the female necromancer hostage and use her as a bargaining chip against the necromancer who might mean them ill despite Kwano’s talk of alliance. They made a few demands of Kwano, and she took her leave to “speak to her master”, through some device or ability unseen by the party. They used this period to plan an attack. As she returned, Endefal cast a dimensional anchor on the mage, making it impossible to teleport out or use any sort of spell that would let her leave. Cadelaine snuck into the bushes invisibly, and as Kwano continued to discuss terms of the meeting, Kal hit the area with a entangle spell, trapping her and half the zombies, as Endefal turned half the Ju-Ju zombies, leaving only four to deal with. Kwano shouted something and the zombies lurched to the attack, as she hissed that her master would be very, very displeased. At that, Cadelaine hit the trapped mage with two magic missile spells, causing her to go limp.

At that, a misty, insubstantial creature rose up through holes in the ground, and used many misty tentacles to latch onto Endefal. Blood began to drain from Endefal’s body, and the creatures (which appeared to be some sort of ghostly, vampiric undead) began feeding while whispering vile things. Several party members swung at it without effect, and it continued to drain Endefal as the zombies attacked. As Gra-Gra, Nadal, Alando and Kal fought off the zombies, Mongo leapt to Endefal’s aid with his Ring of Jumping and smashed a vial of holy water on the enveloped Endefal, causing the mist to let him go and rear back. Endefal quickly hit the creature with a Fist of Suffering, causing his own drained blood to splatter everywhere as the creature took damage.

While Cadelaine held off the normal zombies with arrows, the rest of the party battled the Ju-Ju zombies as Kumar and Endefal smashed the misty undead creature with Fists of Faith, causing it to wail and sink into the ground. Almost fainting due to blood loss, Endefal was assisted by Kumar, and Mongo helped with the zombies. Several minutes later after a hard fought battle the zombies lay in pieces (with the turned zombies having retreated into the city), and Endefal destroyed the rest of the zombies using his turning power. The unconscious Kwano was taken and bandaged, and tied up securely so the party could question her more closely about her “master”.

Dragging her down into the basement, the party tied her to a support beam as they stripped her of all magic items (found by Alando through a Detect Magic). She had on her a gold coin with writing on it, a ring and wand, Alando identifying the latter as a Wand of Negation the party took control of the items. Soon Kwano awakened, and immediately told the party they were all dead as her master would not allow such an affront to one of his servants. They began questioning her but instead of answers she merely told them that her master would come for her, sending waves of undead if he had to, and that everyone would die. Then she lapsed into a meditative state and refused to react.

An hour had passed since the battle, and the party then heard a booming voice from outside summoning them to meet Horan! Mongo and Endefal emerged, to see a desiccated mummy like creature standing defiantly in front of the basement opening. Treating Mongo as if he was the leader, the mummy identified himself as Horan, and stated he was extremely angry as he didn’t have time for this nonsense. He had sent his servant Kwano to negotiate on his behalf, and the time he had to spend here dealing with the party was time he didn’t have to spend on research. It soon became obvious that Horan was merely using the mummy-like undead to speak through, and was still at his mansion fortress in another part of the city.

With Endefal and Gra-Gra by his side (and Endefal continually insulting and baiting the necromancer with threats to his servant), Mongo attempted to question the necromancer. At first Horan was angry and threatening, telling them to release his servant with her items or he would send armies of undead to destroy them all. He would tell them nothing, he said, until his servant was released, and saying that if she was killed he would merely raise her in undead form to serve him still. As the discussion continued, Horan told Mongo a few things, including something about a master plan the serpentmen had that Horan was opposed to, and his part in trying to stop this plan. He told them he was but a simple seeker of knowledge who did not traffic in slaves, and that perhaps he would be better off as an ally than an enemy. Impressed by Mongo he invited him for a further parley at his mansion, telling him he could use the coin as a “pass” to avoid the serpentmen’s scrutiny. As the discussion wore on, however, Horan began to grow more and more upset at Endefal’s jibes and taunts, calling him Mongo’s “pet monkey” and other insults, until finally his patience seemed to reach his limit.

As Endefal continued to insult him, Horan pointed a finger at the cleric and said one word: “Die!”. At that, Endefal fell stone dead at his feet, and Horan smugly told the startled Mongo that this was but a small portion of his massive powers. Gra-Gra, frightened by the act, dragged the dead Endefal into the basement as Mongo continued to parley with the deadly necromancer.
Shocked by the turn of events, the party huddled within the basement, and finally decided that releasing the captured Kwano was the best way to get the necromancer out of their business and back to his mansion. Kwano was released, and Horan raged that the party would not return her items, but Kwano dismissed this and said she only wanted to go home. Again repeating his offer to Mongo, and telling him his time in the mummy’s body was now brief, he and Kwano took their leave of the party’s hideaway.

Digging through Endefal’s belongings, Alando pulled out a scroll of Raise Dead kept for emergencies, and handing it to Kumar told him that he must cast the spell and complete the ceremony to bring the dead priest back to life. Gathering the materials necessary, Kumar cast the spell from the scroll, and the tiniest spark of life re-entered Endefal’s body. Still defiant, he was nevertheless weak and unable to do anything after his death experience, and he would have to have bed rest for the duration of the day.

As the party discussed their recent experience with the Necromancer, they realized they might have to find another place to stay, one Horan was not aware of. Invisibly, Cadelaine went exploring to the south to attempt to find another hidey hole. She came upon a short tower with several fresh dead bodies in front of it (two of ophidians, two of natives), but passed on as that area appeared to be the site of a recent battle. In a room of another building to the south, hidden by rubble, she found a set of stairs leading to another basement, but looking within she found many giant rats within and decided it was not ideal. Most uncomfortably, all during her search, several bonebats (skeletal undead bats) seemed to fly around and shadow her, and she began to get the uneasy feeling that even invisible the bats could detect her presence.

Making her way back to the party’s basement, she told of what she had seen. Kal then said he would do a more thorough recon of the city, heading to the west in bird form. Kal noticed as he flew that the weather indicated a huge tropical storm brewing, one that would probably hit on the morrow. Flying just above the ruins, Kal also noticed one or two bonebats shadowing him as he darted here and there through the trees and columns. Kal flew over the spot the day before where the party had killed and buried the trio of snakemen, and saw other snakemen there investigating the scene. He flew farther and farther west until he had reached the western cliff wall.

There, Kal saw a several block area that had been walled off with rubble to protect some sort of compound. Inside, several bestial humanoid creatures seemed to live within, and many were guarding the gate and walls of the crude complex. Kal also saw a few humans, a halfling, and a dwarf within the walls of the area. Curious about the group, nevertheless Kal continued flying to find out more about the city.

Kal went south along the cliffside, finding a dangerous looking switchback trail that led from the valley floor to the top of the cliff. He also saw a small group of serpentmen leading slaves through a large boulevard, and they disappeared within a temple like building near the west cliffside. Continuing to head south, he espied a spur leading to the Southwest right south of an area with several impressive towers and buildings. As Kal flew towards the spur, suddenly several bonebats rose from previously hidden spots in the rafters of nearby ruins, and began attacking! Several times Kal was struck in bird form, and he was paralyzed by the bone chilling claws of the bonebats and dropped 30 feet to land upon the pavement of a nearby street. The bonebats immediately lost interest in him and flew back to their perches, as Kal lay paralyzed for many minutes. After finally regaining control of his body, he looked around to see many dead and broken bird bodies laying around the street…evidence that the bonebats had not singled him out, but instead apparently attacked anything flying in that area, which had included himself.

Heading to the NE, Kal avoided the bonebats, and soon passed over what appeared to be the lavish estate of the necromancer Horan. Just NE of there was a large wooded area with a pond, apparently inhabited by a large tribe of Tasloi and their flying spider steeds. Continuing on, Kal finally arrived back at the camp, exhausted but in more complete information about the layout of the Forbidden City and the different areas thereof.

Sharing his information with the party, they agreed that they had to leave their basement “home”, and west to the area of the mongrelmen and humans seemed to be the best choice. Alando meanwhile had identified the ring that Kwano had worn as some sort of undead control ring, and everyone was reluctant to have anything to do with it...everyone but Kal! He slipped the ring on, only to have the unfortunate occurrence of Horan taking over his mind as the ring allowed direct contact with the necromancer! Now controlled by Horan, Kal pretended to act normal but soon everyone in the party was whispering about his odd behavior. He went outside to attempt to command two undead bonebats sitting on a nearby tree, and they seemed to obey him, lending credence to his lie. Several members of the party, particularly Endefal and Mongo, began paying attention to Kal as he seemed to be acting quite unusual…at one point sticking his spear Talon-Bar into the ground, declaring it interfered with the powers of his new ring (in actuality, the personality of the spear was fighting the power of the ring for control of Kal’s body). Alando surreptitiously did a Detect Evil on Kal, finding that the ring radiated a dim evil intelligence, of which he appraised Endefal and Mongo.

That night everyone but Kal was on edge, but nothing untoward happened, with no attacks or visitations from undead or other creatures. That morning, Kal as engaged in conversation, until suddenly Mongo grabbed him in a bear hug from behind and Endefal attempted to cast Remove Curse on him! Kal quickly changed to a snake and began crawling up the stairs, but Alando hit him with Dispel Magic, changing him back to human form, and Endefal was allowed to touch the ring with remove curse….which stopped the effect on Kal’s mind, and he was able to remove the ring. After his mind was once again his own, the party agreed the ring had to be disposed of, so it was dropped into the dark waters of the tunnel that led into the basement through the stone shaped door.

The storm that had been building the last few days had struck, and it was raining heavily as the adventurers emerged outside. The party made ready to leave and left the basement, taking all their belongings, and noticed that some large snake-like being had circled the basement that night by the tracks in the mud….undoubtedly the naga from the nearby abbey. Leaving their encampment behind, the party started marching west through the pouring rain, led by Kal, Cadelaine and Mongo. Sticking to the back alleys and rubble of the ruins instead of the main streets, they quickly began moving west across the Forbidden City. Luckily, due to the rain, it seemed most inhabitants were not about, and they ran into no obstacles for quite a ways. They passed ruined and crumbling buildings of stone that at one time were great edifices, now crumbled and overgrown with vines and trees. Several pyramidal buildings denoted once lavish structures, but there was no time to search or explore as the party only wanted to quickly make their way across the city under the cover of the storm.

The journey was over halfway done when the party came to a narrow diagonal street with buildings on both sides. As Cadelaine scouted ahead, she saw the flickering of a lighted fire, and shadows of moving figures in one window. Peeking inside, she saw a room with nine snakelike beings surrounding a fire, led by a snakeman with cobras for arms. The creatures resembled some sort of proto-snakeman, with narrow heads, vestigial tails, claws, slitted eyes and forked tongues. To make it worse the creatures looked oddly subhuman, as if they had once been fully human, but had devolved. Not wishing a confrontation at this point, she motioned to the party to sneak past the window without looking inside.

All went fine until Gra-Gra, curious about the musty snake odor, rose and peered into the room and immediately let loose a roar of anger! The giant ape jumped into the room to do combat, and the battle was on. Mongo and Endefal followed him through the window before he became overwhelmed by the snake creatures, while Nadal ran down the street in search of a doorway.

Suddenly, at the end of the street there appeared three halfbreeds, one a female, and they moved to the attack. The female, who looked completely human except for weirdly slitted eyes, began firing arrows at Cadelaine as she countered with Magic Missile spells. Kumar battled a scaly humanoid snakeman who swung a scimitar, while Sholo fought with a snake armed, snake tailed monstrosity. Within the stone building, Mongo, Gra-Gra, and Endefal battled the snake creatures, which immediately went into a frenzy and began scratching and biting the adventurers. Endefal fought the snake handed leader and Mongo soon joined him via a giant leap from his Ring of Jumping. Soon the leader was dead, but at that moment a large, snake bodied serpent man burst through a concealed entrance into the room. Endefal hit him with a Fist of Faith, but a gaze attack charmed the priest who stood there transfixed as Mongo battled him.

Outside, the serpent woman rushed forward, and also used a gaze attack to bring Cadelaine under a charm. Alando rushed in to hit the creature with a mace, but was soon also under her spell, as was Nadal when he tried to intervene. Seeing this happen, Kal quickly cast a Summon Insects spell and a horde or stinging and biting ants covered the snake woman, who screamed and began retreating down the street. Sholo at this point, despite many bites from the snake armed monstrosity battling him, struck the death blow against the serpent man fighting him, and the one fighting Kumar broke off combat to join the serpent woman in retreat. Kal quickly cast Giant Insects on the ants, creating three giant ants that swiftly chased the two retreating serpent people. They caught the female one and did battle, chewing off her leg and killing her, which negated the charm holding Cadelaine, Nadal and Alando. The other serpentman escaped into the darkness and rain.

Inside the structure, the serpent creatures and the snake bodied leader had been finished off by Mongo. There were numerous injuries, so the decision was made to spend the night inside the secret room on the other side of the concealed door. The snake bodies were dragged into a nearby building to conceal them, and the party posted a guard at the door to watch in case the snakeman that escaped returned with reinforcements. Just big enough for everyone, but unfortunately smelling of reptiles and worse, the party hunkered down in the gloom and stench for a fitful rest. Surely the most wretched they had been since the crawl down the water filled tunnel in the swamp, they reluctantly made camp, and were somewhat cheered by the small amount of gold, platinum and gems found within the room. As well as the wealth they discovered a basket of bird eggs, which added a bit of happiness to the situation as they boiled them up for a well-deserved change of diet after weeks of dried fruit and boar’s meat…..


Seeing two lights on in the bell tower, the party thought to investigate, but serious problems were developing. Endefal, Sholo and Nadal began feeling ill, and soon were vomiting up their meals in the basement area. Both Kal and Alando, noticing large insect bites inside their shirts underneath their armor, began falling asleep, and soon both of them fell into something resembling a coma. Kumar began exhibiting signs of dry and flaky skin, large bulging eyes, and running nose. Mongo and Cadelaine (who had the token that prevented disease) were the two lucky ones and seemed to avoid catching anything. It looked as thought time in the swamp water had no done well for the adventurers as nearly all of them had come down sick!

Endefal quickly cast Cure Disease on Kal and Alando, hoping that curing the two priests from the sleeping sickness would allow them to cast curing spells. Alas, the Cure Disease spells merely allowed them to awaken from the coma, but they were still tired and tended to drop off to sleep unless shaken or nudged. Alando handed Endefal a scroll he carried of Cure Disease and asked him to use it on himself, as at least one priest should be able to cast cure spells. Endefal did, and quickly the vomiting disease disappeared. Nadal and Sholo were still sick, however, and would stay that way the rest of the night. Along with Kal and Alando, the four were virtually useless in a fight, so it was up to Mongo, Cadelaine, Endefal, Kumar (who, despite his symptoms, didn’t feel that awful) and the ape Gra-Gra to guard the basement. At that, they saw a giant constrictor snake over 30 ft long begin to slide down the stone steps into the room! Mongo, Kumar and Cadelaine quickly dealt with the reptile, and they realized they had to find a cover for the portion of the basement the stairs went out of or perhaps suffer monster attacks all night! However, one good thing is that they now had food to eat, as the snake was cut up and cooked over the fire, making a delicious soup for the group.

While Mongo, Endefal and Kumar dealt with gathering wood and such to pile over the opening, Cadelaine, curious about the lights in the tower, snuck out invisibly to climb the ivy covered walls to the top of the tower where she could glance in the window. Quietly scaling the walls, Cadelaine looked inside the window openings at the top of the tower and saw, to here horror, two floating balls of light hovering in the rafters! Although never seeing one, the magess/thief had heard tales of “Will o Wisps”, balls of floating energy with evil intelligence who were quite deadly. The fact that not one but two of the deadly creatures appeared to be inhabiting the top of the bell tower chilled her.

Cadelaine swiftly descended the ivy and hurried back to the basement as Kumar and Mongo were putting finishing touches on the crude wooden covering with Endefal caring for the sick. After telling the party members about the wisps, they agreed that this was not the time to investigate the ruined church further. Setting the makeshift barrier atop the opening, Endefal then cast Wyvern Watch upon the top of the stairway to attack anything trying to get inside. The night passed relatively uneventfully, as the only item of interest was the sound of walking feet around the basement roof during the early morning hours. The footsteps seemed to be that of many humanoid creatures, but whoever it was, they never attempted to come down the stairs and the sounds soon disappeared.

The next morning, the party felt better as the wyvern watch cast by Endefal had not been triggered, and nothing else had bothered them. Endefal was able to cast Cure Disease on Sholo and Nadal and cure their vomiting, but Kal and Alando, even cured, still had a tendency to lapse into sleep at odd moments. It was decided they would have to stay behind (guarded by Gra-Gra) while the rest of the group scouted out the area.

Cadelaine exited the basement invisibly, but immediately upon the other adventurers coming up the stairs, they were set upon by five Juju zombies that had been hidden around the area! Obviously the footsteps they had heard that night had been the walking undead, who had waited patiently during the night for the party to emerge. Battle was joined, with Mongo hacking three of the walking dead to pieces and the others taking care of the remaining duo (as turning from Endefal and Kumar failed to work). After the short battle, the explorers realized they needed to find the source of the undead they were facing.

Cadelaine, looking out into the swamp, noticed an unusually large amount of crocodile activity all through the waters and grass. Obviously the dragon of the swamp had sent out his reptilian servants to scour the area after the frogmen massacre. As the party made to leave, several of the reptilian beasts began sliding up the hill and (attracted by the character movement) moved to attack. The party then faced off against nine of the crocs, assisted by Cadelaine’s web spell which captured almost half of them until the others could be dealt with. After dealing with them and not being very injured in the doing, they dragged the reptile’s bodies far away from their camp, hoping to avoid other predators finding the basement.

Finally satisfying themselves that Kal, Alando and Gra-Gra were ok, Cadelaine, Endefal, Mongo, Nadal, Sholo, and Kumar set out to scout the immediate area. They headed west past the ruined abbey and into some broken ruins, with an invisible Cadelaine taking the lead. She made her way carefully through some rubble of long-crumbled edifices, noting only insects, snakes, lizards and spiders scurrying in the rocks and scrub. She did make one fine, a shiny ring on the finger of a skeleton buried in rubble, which she removed from it’s bony finger and put in her pouch, for Alando to later identify.

Finally, making here way through a building, she came out on a boulevard that went north/south. The north end led into the swamp after a hundred yards or so, while the south end continued on to an intersection and more of the city. Noises from across the street catching her attention, the invisible Cadelaine crept across the street to look over a low stone wall. She triggered her Silence Stone when she saw what had attracted her…..serpent men! Three of the reptilian beasts, along with two flying snakes that hovered overhead, were in a small courtyard digging at a large hole in the ground. One serpent man, with a snake head and two arms that ended in cobra heads, was watching as two others (both with snake heads, one with a tail, both wielding scimitars) try to dig up a buried chest hip deep in the ground. They hissed to each other in a language Cadelaine could not understand, and she quickly scurried back across the street to present this information to the hidden party members.

Making plans, the party decided to sneak up on the group and attack, with Cadelaine invisibly leading the way with a backstab or two. Things didn’t go as planned. as the group was spotted crossing the street and two flying fangs attacked the party. The battle was joined as Mongo jumped over the wall and attacked one snakeman (who spit poison all over him, catching the ranger unaware as the fluid burned his skin), Nadal took on another with swords, and the last ran to hide. Cadelaine and Sholo quickly dealt with the flying snakes, with Endefal assisting Mongo using Fist of Faith to dispatch another, Mongo took chase after the serpentman with snakes for arms, eventually getting ambushed by the hidden snakeman but fighting back to eventually kill him. Meanwhile, Nadal battled the scimitar wielding snakeman and eventually maneuvered the snakeman into being backstabbed by an invisible Cadelaine, finishing him also.

The party searched the area including the hole the snakemen had dug, which contained a chest. Examination of the dead snakemen found that one had a map of the site, which indicated that many centuries earlier works of art had been buried by the church of Umgawa. The chest revealed several golden and ivory statues, some gem studded, but all worth quite a bit. The snakemen were dumped in the hole, the hold filled in with earth, and the chest hauled back by the adventurers to their hideout. However, on a brief foray by Cadelaine of the area she came across a building that seemed to house a certain foreboding, feeling extremely uneasy as she scouted out what appeared to be some place of ancient knowledge. Marking it on their map, they returned to Kal, Alando and Gra Gra and left the treasure there.

Cadelaine and Endefal both decided it was past time to investigate the abandoned abbey near their basement home, so along with Mongo they scouted it out. Muddy footprints of some kind were found in the foyer and seemed to lead deeper into the abbey, but they were not followed. Several round, dark, muddy sinkholes dotted the area, and Mongo found evidence of a large snake like body having traveled through these sinkholes. Investigating one broken tower, the group was started by the sudden appearance of a large, snake like figure with a human head that briefly slid from a room and disappeared down a sinkhole….a naga! Not wanting to mix it up with the reptilian creature (and uneasy about what spells the creature might have, and his ability to travel swiftly through the sinkholes dotting the area), the group beat a hasty retreat back to their basement lair rather than deal with the deadly reptilian being at this time….