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…..

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