Only one incident occurred during the evening, where footsteps were heard in the outside corridor, and the next morning the room that held the bonesnapper at the end of the hallway found opened. Venturing near to once again shut it, the twins Ular and Tula were surprised by the reptilian creature, yet they managed to kill it with the help of Cadelaine’s magic missiles. The bonesnapper’s lair was searched, and nothing of value was discovered except for filth from the creature.
The party continued on to the stone bridge leading from the chapel over the dark crevice. The bridge led to a dark tunnel, so Cadelaine turned invisible and crossed the unlit stone bridge (which was slick and had no handholds) in total darkness so as not to upset the bats. Carefully investigating the hallway, she came to a t-section that was lit by torches and contained four of the guards with the usual greasepaint and bronzed plate armor. Sneaking back to the group, as they discussed what to do, the lizardman prisoner took that moment to jump off the bridge into the darkness! A splash was heard far below, and it was decided that he wasn’t worth pursuing (and may have been killed by the great fall into the underground river). At any length, he was now gone and they wouldn’t have to spend time taking care of him.
Still in darkness, the party slowly made it’s way across the 50 foot stone bridge. At a halfway point, a trap was triggered by Mongo’s weight, and he fell threw a pit in the bridge to freefall until he triggered his sword Sentinel to fly him back to the bridge. Now carefully avoiding the open section of the bridge, the party slowly made it to the tunnel where Cadelaine and Mongo quietly moved within….just as three of the guards came around the corner, curious to the small noises they had been hearing! Endefal hit the area with a Silence /15, as Kumar used Hold Person on the three guards. They were quickly disposed of, however, not before the 4th guard rushed to the west end of the corridor and shouted for help! Mongo and Kal used their Rings of Jumping to leap into the room for combat. They killed the three guards within, but not before one of the guards pulled down a lever that opened a barred entrance in the rear of the room. Immediately, a gigantic roar was heard, and an albino lion came bounding out of the darkness! Kal immediately threw a Hold Animal, and after securing the great cat, a Charm Mammal was used to entice the lion to follow it’s new master….Kal.
Meanwhile, at the east end of the hall a door had been thrown open, and hordes of white painted warriors began pouring out of the entrance into the hallway. Nadal, Gra-Gra and Sholo began battling the warriors, with Mongo and Endefal leaping into the fray to help. Using his innate Sanctuary power, Endefal pushed past the dozens of warriors around the corner to see the extent of the horde. However, once discerning that the opponents were coming out of two rooms of barracks and numbered nearly 30, he was set on by a quartet that had noticed him, and driven to the ground.
Meanwhile, Mongo, Nadal and Sholo began making slow and steady progress through the warriors, and soon the hallway was full of dead bodies, blood, brains, gore and literally painted floor to ceiling with body tissues. At one point Gra Gra, heavily injured was forced to leap out of the fray and to his master Kal for healing, bleeding from almost a dozen spear thrusts. Seeing Endefal brought down, Mongo again leaped forward using his ring to land atop the foes, striking out with both swords to clear a path for the priest. Fighting from the rear, with Sholo and Nadal from the front, they caught the screaming warriors in a vise and slowly tightened it. Almost 20 minutes later, the four party members stared at each other as the last opponent fell. The hallway had become a butcher’s shop as 27 dead warriors lay strewn in pieces across the 60 or so feet of the corridor. In the frenzy of battle the companions had neglected to keep anyone alive for questioning, but at least at this point the way was clear to explore further on down the passageway.
First, however, the room they had found guarded by the warriors had to be searched, as the party had located two locked chests within. Cadelaine examined them carefully and noted glyphs on each chest, looking menacing. The chest being made of heavy stone, Endefal used his Stone Shape spell to refashion on opening in the front, avoiding the glyphs’ and avoiding actually opening the lids of both chests. It seemed to be the right move since neither glyph was set off. Several items were pulled from inside both chests, including a sack of ancient gold and platinum pieces; a sack of 50 low quality gems; a jeweled ceremonial mace; a ruby encrusted, skull shaped goblet; and most interestingly of all a platinum box that contained two glass eyes that Alando detected as radiating magic.
After searching the room thoroughly, Kal introduced the newest member of the group: the albino lion Simba, who came from a long line of lions bred by the underground warriors as protectors and guardians. Simba was the last of his kind, and while suspicious of the party (he had been trained to attack and kill anyone not wearing the ceremonial greasepaint or bronze armor) he has placated by the charm and the thought of exploring outside his long lived in lair. Kal made a mental note to use Animal Friendship on the great cat before the charm wore off, so as to totally befriend the beast.
Investigating past the mass slaughter of the native warriors (where Endefal, following his custom, had created a gigantic pyramid of heads from the downed warriors), the party found two large, dirty barracks type rooms, as well as a set of stairs leading down. The stairs eventually led to a gigantic room, with several intriguing features. First, the large room (over 140 ft long and 60 ft wide) appeared to be some sort of temple, and was rent in the center by a large, 25 ft wide crack that like the other crevices found so far led into darkness. On the far side of the caverns sat a massive altar, while in the near side there lay hundreds and hundreds of bodies in various states of decay, putting off a charnel odor of awful proportions. The bodies were piled sometimes as much as 10 feet high on this side of the crevice, although the party could discern a pathway leading out and to the left among the piles of dead.
Alando stated that this was a tenet of the religion of Ert, to let bodies decay naturally and not cremate or bury them, and judging from the amount of bodies (about 400, it was reckoned) this must be the burial area of Ertian worshippers for quite awhile. As the party stepped into the chamber, the symbols of Ert on the back of their hands began to lightly glow.
Wary of battling undead, Endefal led the small group of Cadelaine, Mongo and Nadal down the pathway to end near the crevice and a large stone box. Using her abilities Cadelaine was able to pick the lock and remove several items: a wooden box containing two diamonds, a jeweled statuette of a woman; and a giant sheaf of old papers with ancient writing upon them. During this endeavor, carrion crawlers began crawling over the edge from the crevice to do battle with the explorers; luckily, no one was struck down by the tentacles of the creatures, and seven of the giant bugs were killed.
As Nadal, Mongo and Endefal battled the crawlers, Sholo entered the room to assist, but as he passed between two pillars the light of the room dimmed and a rustling was heard. Suddenly, the dead began rising from where they lay! 40 skeletons rose from the ground and began attacking. Endefal managed to destroy seven of them, while Kumar and Alando turned another 14, but that still left 19 to fight. The party ran with all haste out of the room, just as another 40 skeletons rose from the ground! This was beginning to have the looks of something very deadly, so Cadelaine pulled her Wand of Fire out and sent a fireball into the room (as the party ran down the hall). The explosion destroyed over 40 of the skeletons, and the others did not give chase. Alando theorized the fact that Sholo did not have a mark to Ert on his hand must have somehow activated the undead.
During the excitement, suddenly Tulu spoke up that his brother Ular was nowhere to be found! Frantically, he ran back down the hallway to locate him, but nothing was seen….except for a large rat in the hallway that scampered away. Ular wasn’t found, and it looked like perhaps he had contacted lycanthropy from the wererats that had bitten him earlier….and the stress of the undead attacking had caused him to change. Tulu was understandable upset and inconsolable, as he had never known a time without his twin brother by his side.
Venturing back down the passageway, the party saw that there were now no skeletons standing in the room as the stench of burning flesh filled their nostrils. Wanting to avoid the undead and search the opposite side of the room, Mongo and Kal (in giant bat form) flew the party over the crevice one by one until everyone stood on the north side of the chasm staring at the odd altar.
Investigating around the alter, several small holes were found in the floor surrounding the area, Flying to the altar, Mongo set off some sort of trap….suddenly, a demonic, laughing figure rose from flames at the altar, as more jets of flame shot up through the small holes surrounding it! Throwing holy water on the demonic face, the vial broke and splashed water…on what Mongo then saw was a stone statue! Very realistic, it was undoubtedly placed as some sort of fake guardian of the area…..soon it began to lower into the ground inside a circular tube.
Deciding to investigate further, Endefal stone shaped the opening to give them access below. Flying down, Mongo found a long disused room with the idol statue sitting on a pillar of stone. Nothing else was in the room except for a tunnel that led to a dead end…and a secret door, as Cadelaine discovered.
Soon, a rope was tied at the top and the entire party was lowered or climbed down the shaft, with Kal having to carefully take Simba (who did not want to enter the deep dark hole) until all stood in the dusty circular room below the earth. Trying the secret door, Cadelaine opened it to see a giant cavern filled with a large pedestal about 50x40 filled with pillars…and troglodytes! 14 of the monstrosities guarded the pedestal with their large javelins. The entire chamber was huge and she could not see the back of it in the dim light. Thinking this would be a good situation to thin out the monstrous ranks without being seen, Cadelaine used her Wand of Fire to shoot a fireball into the midst of the trogs! The fireball exploded, almost killing all the amphibious beings. As they lay groaning in pain and screaming out into the dark, Cadelaine hit them with another fireball, killing all of them!
Unfortunately, an alarm had gone up and obviously a trog guard from another part of the cavern had seen the flash, for as Cadelaine leaned out to fire her wand again, a shower of javelins flew at her from the darkness! Two struck her solidly, knocking her unconscious and causing her to collapse, dropping the wand! Cadelaine was quickly dragged inside as Alando pulled her down the corridor to stabilize her, and as Endefal opened the secret door to grab the wand, troglodytes lay in wait to attack! Mongo and Kal (who had shape changed into a crocodile) joined the battle, pushing the trogs outside the tunnel and into the cavern. Soon, Nadal, Sholo, Gra Gra and Simba joined in as almost 20 trogs went to the attack, the amphibious monstrosities clawing and biting at the party members. Two large subterranean lizards were sent into combat by the trogs, but were killed by Mongo with help from Kal and Endefal. Meanwhile, the stench of the trogs at separate times caused Kumar and Endefal to fall on all fours to vomit themselves empty, as the rest of the party managed to avoid their fate.
The combat was ongoing when shouts were heard back in the cavern…Alando and Desteri were battling each other! Kumar rushed back to pull his friend Alando away, but not before Desteri had struck him a nasty blow. It seemed that Alando had caught the fighter searching the body of the unconscious Cadelaine, ostensibly to search for healing potions or magic items he could use in the fight. Meanwhile, outside the cavern the battled raged and the party began to despair they would be intact at the end of the combat as the enraged trogs proved dangerous foes. Finally, though, the group had hacked through 18 of the creatures, and the entire chamber was once again quiet and deathly still. Wanting to leave before more reinforcements came, the party quickly hustled down the tunnel to the idol chamber, Kal sealing the secret door behind them using Stone Shape. When the bloodied party reached the idol chamber, Alando tattled on Desteri’s actions, and as Desteri tried to defend himself, Mongo decided he had heard and seen enough from the mercenary fighter over the last few days…a few quick strokes, and the headless body of Desteri, slowly toppled to the ground, blood spilling from his neck stump onto the dusty floor. Alando and Kumar paused to take anything of value off the mercenary fighter’s body, and Nadal spit on the corpse and said good riddance. Cadelaine was flown up the shaft to the altar room, and one by one (nervously watching the tunnel for signs of pursuit) the rest of the party followed, most climbing the rope or being hauled upwards. Once safe, the party pulled up the rope itself…unless the trogs or their allies could fly, their escape seemed to have been effected without pursuit.
Resting in the large altar room and avoiding the holes the flame jets shot through, the party made plans to spend the night…..a few of the party were heavily injured, and the priests were entirely out of healing magic. With the shaft below being nearly impassible, and the crevice to the south being a good buffer from what might come there, this seemed to be the best place to make rest and discuss the plans for the morrow. Cadelaine was tended to, with Alando taking care of her by bandaging and dressing her terrible wounds at the tips of the javelins, but he soon noticed that the javelins must have been dipped in something….the half elven mage/thief had developed a fever, and already looked quite ill.
Deciding to try and rescue whoever was unfortunate enough to be sacrificed under the knives of the priests of Ert, the party left the unconscious Desteri, the twins Ular and Tula, and the still-tied up lizardman behind in the chapel as they forged ahead. Crossing the two rope bridges in utter darkness so as to prevent agitating the bats (and giving away their position), the party used directions from the charmed warrior to move ahead. Coming to a t-section on the swaying rope bridge, the charmed warrior told the party that to the south lay a hidden guard, while to the north was the worship area where the sacrifices were to be made. Not wanting to leave anything behind them unguarded, Kal sent the warrior to the south to talk to the guard and perhaps lure him out so the party could deal with him.
Several minutes passed, Cadelaine had heard whispered conversation from the south but now nothing. Fearing something had happened, Cadelaine snuck invisibly to the end of the rope bridge where it led into a dark, dank cavern. Using her infravision she could barely make out the outlines of a tunnel that ended in a crude set of stairs which seemed to be blocked off by piles of boulders and rubble. On the floor in front of the rubble lay the now dead body of the warrior. Quickly examining the body she found he had a stab wound in the back and a slashed throat. Not wanting to hang around in the dark much more, she snuck back to the group and whispered what she had found.
Leaving Nadal, Sholo, Alando and Kumar behind at the rope bridge to watch, Endefal, Kal, Gra Gra, Mongo and Cadelaine went forward into the tunnel. Using a continual light wand, they searched the area and while they saw lots of rat tracks, they didn’t see anything else. Cadelaine soon found a loose stone that seemed to lead to a secret area. She carefully opened the entrance and it led to a stench filled small stone cave filled with waste. Suddenly, a giant rat tried to run past Cadelaine and through the tunnel to the piled rubble up the staircase! Taking swings a the rat, he was struck by Mongo and Endefal before being snatched up and crushed by Gra-Gra. At this, the rat changed form and became a dead human in a loincloth….obviously a wererat! The only thing of value upon him was a potion bottle, which Endefal determined held a potion of invisibility.
Inside the hidden cave the party found rat holes and an old short sword. They reasoned the charmed warrior much have been killed by the wererat guard, but nothing else of value was located in the chamber. Returning to the others on the rope bridge, they were dismayed to hear loud chanting coming from the north, indicating the ceremony the charmed warrior had spoken of was soon to begin. Mongo sipped the invisibility potion, and long with an invisible Cadelaine they moved quietly ahead and soon faced two white painted guards in a hallway lit by torches. Quickly, Mongo disposed of both guards using the element of surprise, and they faced a door in front of them and some kind of religious ceremony down the hallway to the west.
Just as the rest of the party arrived, the door in front of them was flung open to reveal a group of four guards and two priests! Battled was joined as Endefal and Mongo were held by priest spells. Pushing into the room before them, which was some kind of priest and guard barracks, Kal summoned insects on one priest and attacked the other. The one priest fell to the ground and although he tried to get the insects off he was soon consumed by them; the other priest was run through by Kal’s spear. As the fighters began stabbing the held figures of Endefal and Mongo they were attacked by Nadal, Gra Gra and Cadelaine. A Charm Person by Kal took out one of the guards, and soon the other three lay dead. Dragging the bodies indoors, the group questioned the charmed warrior underneath a large black marble statue of Ert. All the warrior could give the party was that the high priest Tavos had three other priests, six guards and a group of worshippers at the temple to watch the sacrifice of three slaves.
Quickly going into action, Cadelaine cast Fly on Mongo, who flew down the hall. Flying into the temple area, he saw that it was simply part of an other temple overlooking another giant crevice that led down to the lower level. The roughly 60x60 area had a large bloodstained stone surrounded by six pillars, dangerously overlooking the dark blackness of the depths. Mongo immediately focused on the high priest and his upraised dagger, poised to plunge into a sacrifice! He swung a mighty blow that injured the priest, stopping the sacrifice. At that, the rest of the party burst into the area and the battle was joined!
Immediately, Cadelaine cast Web on half the area, capturing six worshippers and a guard, while the rest of the party laid into the nearby worshippers. Suddenly, all the remaining ten worshippers changed shape into ratmen form, as they revealed they were lycanthropes. The high priest yelled with a strange language into the darkness, and a second later Endefal’s mace slammed into him. Dying, the priest toppled over the edge into the darkness below. Endefal and Mongo were then hit by Faerie Fire, and the guards rushed up to engage them only to be met by Kumar and his warclub. Meanwhile, Kal (in crocodile form), Gra Gra, Nadal, and Sholo began hacking through nearly a dozen of the foaming mad ratmen.
As the battled continued, the high priest’s entreaty to the dark was answered, as five giant bats flew to the attack. Mongo, Endefal and Kumar were all snatched into the air and flown over the blackness, where Mongo and Kumar were dropped! Endefal managed to swing up upon his bat and bashed him into flying back over the ledge, bashing against the wall and dropping the priest. Mongo, after being dropped by the bat, flew underneath Kumar and grabbed him and flew him back to the ledge and the continuing battle. Other bats flew low and began slashing at party members. Cadelaine pulled her wand of lightning and blasted one with a bolt, and as the bat fluttered around she blasted it again and it dropped, on fire, into the darkness of the crevice.
Seeing a move to be made, Kal changed into a giant bat and flew among the creatures, using their language to tell them to retreat back to their stalactite homes since the high priest was dead. They flew confused, Kal’s entreaties in their language causing them to be uncertain. Meanwhile, Mongo managed to hack through the remaining two priests, ending their threat, while Endefal and Kumar fought against the guards back to back, managing to kill two.
The battle against the wererats slowly turned the party’s way, as Nadal, Sholo, Gra Gra, and even Alando (who swung the Rod of Smiting better and more tellingly than any weapon he had yet wielded) cutting a swatch through the lycanthropes. After a bit more fighting, all opponents lay dead, the last one beheaded by Cadelaine as she backstabbed the last guard. After seeing this, the remaining giant bats, some wounded by Mongo and missile fire, flew back to their homes in the darkness. With only the creatures in the web left, it was lit afire, and the burned lycanthropes were quickly dealt with, leaving bodies all around. The three sacrificial slaves were rescued, and Mongo flew into the crevice to retrieve the body of the high priest. Finding him floating in an underground stream, he grabbed him and flew him back to the ledge to be searched. Unfortunately, nothing of value was found on any of the priests, guards or worshippers, and the party went back down the hall where they could cure themselves.
Back in the corridor, they noticed that the heavily barred door at the east end had been opened, and a large bonesnapper was dining on the guard Kal had charmed, who had obviously panicked and tried to release the creature only to fall it’s victim. As the creature fed on the guard, the door was once again quickly locked and barred to prevent the creature from leaving.
Since the party was at this point heavily injured and nearly without spells, the decided to stay in the priest/guard barracks for the night, but not before Endefal and Kumar destroyed the statue to Ert and defiled the sacred altar with holy water. Tulu, Ular, Desteri and the lizardman were gathered from the far chapel to join the party as they made ready to spend the night in the chamber. Making camp and setting guards, wounds were bandaged, and the party made ready to rest another night in the underground chambers of the worshippers of Ert.
The party spent an uncomfortable yet relatively safe night in the chapel of Ert in the depths of the Forbidden City underground. Awakening the next morning, the party talked amongst themselves until finally choosing the secret passage in one corner of the chapel as their way further into the dungeon. There were three other ways to go (North, South, or outside the chapel a hallway to the north and west) but upon examining the hallway within the secret passage, Cadelaine and Mongo noted that the dust was thick and nothing had passed this way for many years, if not decades (if not centuries!). Perhaps some long forgotten wealth was at the end of this forgotten hallway…..? Forming up, the party began heading cautiously down the hall, with continual light devices lighting the way, and Cadelaine checking for any traps. The hallway ended about 50 feet in at the appearance of a large room, but the first thing to be seen was eight walking undead, eyes blazing with evil intelligence, surrounding a withered priest like zombie in the middle of the room. The priest began speaking in Ancient Delosian, which only Alando and Kal could understand. In a hollow and cracked voice, the zombie stated that his name was Macreus, high priest of Ert, and what was the year? Barely understanding him, Kal told him the year, which seemed to agitate the undead priest. He then asked the party if they served the serpentmen. After a bit of awkward back and forth, it seemed that Macreus had sealed himself within this passage several hundred years ago, awaiting an attack by serpentmen that had apparently never reached his secluded corner. His mutterings spoke of insanity, and Mongo, Nadal and Endefal moved up in anticipation of combat. Kal then preemptively cast a Faerie Fire on the first few zombies, and trying to turn the zombies, both Endefal and Alando failed, Then a spoken spell by Macreus caused Nadal, Endefal and Kal to freeze as they were Held! Immediately, the first line of ju-ju zombies moved forward for combat with the helpless group. Cadelaine fired a Magic Missile at one to find the spell had absolutely no effect. With only seconds to think, Cadelaine pulled forth her Wand of Fire and commanded it to form a Wall of Fire right in front of the advancing zombies! With his ring of fire resistance, Mongo leapt through the wall with minimal damage and began fighting. Alando cast a Dispel Magic, which dissolved the hold spell but did not bring down the Wall of Fire. The first two zombies passed through the wall and were quickly taken care of by Kal, Endefal and Nadal. Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall Mongo began chopping through the zombies by himself, as no one was willing to pass through the Wall of Fire to assist him. Finally, Nadal subjected himself to the flames as he passed through to help the ranger. He took some damage, but was soon also in combat, making his way to the zombie priest Macreus. With use of Fist of Faith, Endefal cleared a path, and was able to battle Macreus. A blow to the zombie caused a huge puff of a horrible looking dust to fly out of his body, and coming into contact with the pestilent substance caused Mongo to go to the floor, retching. By this time, Nadal and Kal had entered the room as the Wall of Fire had gone out, and they were able to lend their weapons to the fight. Attempting to sneak forward invisibly, Cadelaine found herself suddenly visible and quickly retreated before being struck by the zombie priest. Quicker than he hoped, Endefal brought down Macreus, and the priest dissolved into dust. The rest of the ju-ju zombies were brought down soon after. As Mongo began to feel funny and blood began to run out of his nose, Endefal quickly cast a Cure Disease on the ranger, which seemed to arrest the awful illness the dust had given him. Searching the room, the party found nothing of interest except for a passage that went further south. Going south aways, Cadelaine found an unusual pit trap that the party was able to bypass on their way down the corridor. After almost 100 feet, they reached the end of the passageway….which ended in a dark, gaping crevice! On the small ledge, the party was just able to make out a rope bridge far to the southwest, as well as a ceiling of stalactites, and to the east, another small ledge that seemed to lead to another dark passageway. As the party debated their actions, the now un-charmed Desteri (Alando’s Dispel Magic earlier had taken the charm off the mercenary fighter) began throwing torches into the darkness, discovering the level below was about 50 feet or so….then, hearing noises in the dark, he launched a flaming vial of oil into the darkness. Suddenly, a large mass that was unidentifiably in the darkness responded with a thrown boulder, which caught Desteri in the chest and threw him back. Several other throws followed, but none were close. After this, Mongo took the continual light wand from Endefal and using the power of his sword Sentinel, began flying around the darkness to discover the area of the chasm. He managed to check out the rope bridge, which connected two corridors farther to the SW, and landed on the other ledge nearby. Unfortunately, the light buzzing about attracted the attention of almost a dozen giant bats, which attack Mongo as he flew about. Mongo was bit a couple of times, but managed to fly back to the ledge where the party waited. As the bats followed, They were peppered with missile fire from Desteri, And Cadelaine, and Kal quickly threw a Hold Animals spell that caught four of the animals, sending them to their doom as they suddenly stopped moving and dropped like rocks to crash on the floor of the level below. More missile fire deterred the other bats, who quickly flew up among the stalactites to hide Discussion of a way to go followed, with the party eventually decided on checking out the ledge and passageway to the immediate west. Using her ring of feather falling to prevent trouble, Cadelaine used a rope tied by a flying Mongo to easily traverse the short distance. Shining her torch inside, Cadelaine saw the edge of a room which was covered by yellow mold! The mold also seemed to cover several skeletons and a large chest-like object. Kal used his shape changing ability to fly over, and with his extensive knowledge of fungi pronounced it as yellow mold, very deadly, but susceptible to fire. Without much hesitation, Cadelaine threw a vial of oil into the mass of the mold and followed it with her lit torch. In the conflagration that followed, the skeletons tried to rise but were destroyed, and the fire burned out every scrap of the mold, revealing a large stone chest. Soon, the rest of the party used the attached rope to hug the side of the chasm and cross over to the new area. Searching the room, nothing except for the stone chest was found, and it was opened by Cadelaine revealing a mace, rod and a gem. Desteri stepped up and greedily grabbed the rod, which had a skull-head on one end. Nothing happened to him, and Alando cast Detect Magic which showed the rod as magical (but none of the other items). Taking the items, the party vowed to watch Desteri and his new “prize” closely to see if any bad effects overtook him. At the other end of the room was a large stone door with a heavy stone bar on this side to prevent entry. As the bar was easily lifted, the door opened and the party continued down the corridor north. They soon came upon another set of doors in the east side of the corridor. Not wanting to open the doors, Endefal used Stone Shape to fashion a hole inside one of the doors so they could look within, then shaped it to make it large enough to possibly enter. Inside was quite a sight. In the large round room was a red tile hexagon, in the middle was a floating, flaming skull that intently watched them! Cadelaine looked inside and noticed a trap attacked to the door, a wire that ran to the ceiling and triggered a ballista bolt if the door had been opened. Entering instead through the hold in the door, Cadelaine was able to disarm the trap, and the party then concentrated on finding out the purpose of the floating skull. Soon after the party entered the room (everyone but Desteri, Kumar, the twins Ular and Tula, who refused to enter the cursed area, along with their prisoner the still tied up lizard man), the skull spoke to them saying he would answer a single “yea” or “nay” question if asked. Several half assed and useless questions were spoken, none answered with any significance. Finally, Alando asked if Ardu was still alive somewhere within the city and the answer was “Yes”. Then, he was asked if Ardu was under ground and the answer was again “Yes”. Not much info to go on, but it was more than they had up until that time. As the questions wound down, the skull spoke and said that for the price of a question, their souls were now Ert’s own!!! Suddenly, a small skull appeared on the back of each character’s left hand, much to the consternation of everyone (especially the priests, who were worried this would put them in bad with their own gods). Continuing to travel north in the corridor, they found the passageway led back to the Chapel of Ert through the south door. Again talking about their choice of direction (either through the north door or back down the passageway to the chasm and the rope bridge), it was decided that they brave the chasm and see where the rope bridge Mongo had seen would lead. When they reached the ledge, they worked out a system where party members armed with missile weapons would watch for the giant bats, while one by one Mongo would ferry party members across using his fly ability. After a few nervous minutes where a few giant bats flew around but did not attack, the party was flown across to the rope bridge. The bridge seemed new and very solidly constructed, 40 feet long with new strong hemp and closely set wooden boards, and including a “handrail”. One end (to the west) led to another cavern, and beyond that, another rope bridge. To the west, the rope bridge led to another ledge and a passageway lit by torches. Choosing the west, Cadelaine invisibly snuck forward and rounded a corner, seeing a small chapel with a statue, basin, and several hanging draperies. Also within were six warrior types armed with spears and knives. They were painted on their entire bodies with black and white paint, resembling living skeletons. They seemed to be guarding the chamber, and Cadelaine notice that a doorway to the west was set with strong iron bars that were set into the stone. Sneaking back, she told the party of what they had seen. Throwing caution to the wind, the party rushed the six guards, counting on their excessive numbers to help them triumph. In quick order the guardians were killed, except for one charmed by Kal and commanded to join him. Questioning of the guard told the party this was a worship area to Ert, and to the east there existed a larger chapel where a large ceremony was going to take place later, which included sacrifice and summoning some kind of creature. Resolving to check that out, the party began searching the area, Desteri, ignoring any warning, went to the statue of Ert and removed two gems that were the eyes of the statue. Removing the gems, the statue exploded in fire, and not only flames but some sort of curse from beyond hit Desteri at the same time. As Desteri stumbled about, the black tapestries were removed, and behind them were found a dozen one foot tall, ugly and evil looking wooden dolls that resembled some sort of fetishes. Asking Mongo about the dolls, Mongo revealed they were known as Kani Dolls, and were often animated with evil spirits to guard areas or stalk individuals. The charmed guardian was filled with fear as he saw the dolls, going to the corner and quivering in fear at the “devil dolls”. Ignoring more entreaties, Desteri grabbed one of the dolls to place it within his pack, pricking his finger on something sharp upon the doll. Immediately the dozen dolls came to life and began swarming the mercenary fighter! The evil little dolls began biting and biting the fighter, and several were destroyed by Endefal, Mongo and Kal as they tried to kill Desteri. Finally, one doll jumped to Desteri’s throat, ripping it out and causing the fighter to fall unconscious as the doll continued to chew! Mongo took the fighter by his legs, and by swinging him around, caused the dolls attached to Desteri to fly off across the room, where they were quickly crushed or destroyed by party members. After the battle, Endefal bandaged Desteri’s throat, and Nadal (who had not helped the beleaguered fighter) said that the greedy bastard had gotten what he deserved… As Desteri lay unconscious, Alando used that time to take the Rod that Desteri for himself. Using his ability to identify magic items, Alando announced it was a Rod of Smiting, and keeping it as his own he gave his own magical mace to Kumar so the priest of Attar would finally have a magical weapon to use. The gem eyes of the statue were also removed from Desteri, and the party vowed to curb the excesses of the grabby fighter from here on out. After the party searched the room and rested, Kal questioned the charmed guardian about what lay beyond the barred chamber to the west. The frightened native said that a “giant demon” dwelled at the bottom of a set of stairs through the other chamber. The bars had been placed to not only prevent anyone from entering the lair of the “demon” but to prevent the demon from attacking anyone within. Examining the room revealed nothing else, and with only one way to go (back west to the rope bridge and the Chapel of Ert beyond) the now even larger group prepared to do battle if the priesthood was indeed going to sacrifice innocents to their god….
The next morning, the party was somewhat at a loss for any further action. They had been in the Forbidden City over a week and all that they had accomplished was to set almost every group in the city against them! At this point there didn’t seem to be a lot to go on….the group had managed to alienate every group they had come upon, that or make them dire enemies. Not having a lot of direction, Alando cast an Augury that seemed to say their destiny lay to the “south”. With nothing more to go on, the party began heading that way in hope of enlightenment. As the party very carefully and quietly crossed a large avenue, They were suddenly set upon by a gigantic Rhinoceros beetle that happened to be lumbering down the street! The large creature attacked hungrily, as Nadal and Mongo stood to protect the rest of the party with Cadelaine hitting the giant beetle with magic missiles. As the group battled the insect, soon several giant wasps began also attacking, attracted by the movement. Everyone at that point was engaged in the battle, either hand to hand or missile weapons. Soon, five giant wasps lay dead and after a long battle the rhino beetle finally was chopped to pieces despite heavy injuries to Endefal, Nadal and Mongo. The party quickly moved to the south after the long and noisy battle, and found a quiet set of ruins to heal up and prepare. Suddenly, the lycanthrope warriors from the day before, Damu and Jamal, appeared before them! They said that they had spoken with the rest of their group, and decided that it was imperative that they show the party the trail through the sewer system that led to the serpentmen’s lair. Agreeing to follow them, the wererats led the party to the large temple of the bat the party had passed the day before, and through a long, dank stairway that led down. The smell of bat guano and decay was strong, and several rats scurried around in the darkness as Damu and Jamal led them to a large entry chamber. Saying this was part of a larger temple, the wererats led the party down a large corridor to the west, saying that it eventually led to a sewer line that led to the serpentmen’s camp. As the party pulled out their continual light objects and followed the guides into the gloom of the corridor, they were surprised after fifty feet to come to a solid stone wall! Ominously, at this they heard a loud sliding noise and a boom, and saw the eastern entrance had been shut off by a stone wall. With a bad feeling, the party turned to Damu. Apologetically, Damu explained that a meeting of the wererats had concluded the party could better serve their needs as lycanthropes themselves….their power added to the existing rats could swing the battle between the serpentmen and wererats towards the rats! At that, several rats in the chamber changed formed into ratmen, and these (along with a horde of giant rats) began to attack! Quickly, Cadelaine used her Web spell to entangle almost all the giant rats at the end of the corridor. A desperate battle followed with the ratmen (Damu and Jamal themselves turning into rat form and escaping) attacking and attempting to bite the party members to infect them with lycanthropy. Through the battle, only Ular and Cadelaine were bit, and several of the ratmen were killed, Finally, the battle turned in the party’s favor and the surviving ratmen turned into rats and escaped into holes in the walls. Five ratmen lay dead in the chamber, and searching by Cadelaine revealed a hidden catch that raised the stone wall at the east end. Attempting to retrace their steps, to their dismay the party found their exit was blocked by a huge iron wall that had apparently been triggered to fall by the wererats. Attempting to use Stone Shape to go around the iron wall was ineffective as the stone walls themselves were constructed of some sort of unique material that resisted the spell. After a quick conference, the party resigned themselves to further exploration into the underworld to find another way out of this trap that they had walked into. Exploring the nearby chambers, it was discovered that the temple was one to Ert, the Delosian God of the Dead, and it looked to be long abandoned. One chamber held a stone statue to Ert that was left alone, while another contained a quartet of lizardmen who were apparently capturing giant centipedes for food. The lizardmen were quickly killed, except for one that was Held by Alando and then tied up by the party for questioning. Dragging the captive lizardman behind them, the party went through a secret door in one of the tombs and came upon a group of underground froglike beings…known as troglodytes….who attempted to spring a ambush on the characters. Kal, Endefal, Mongo and Nadal entered combat with the primitive beings, their stench sometimes driving them back. A judicious use of another Web spell by Cadelaine that captured three of the amphibious creatures and led to a easy end to the battle. All the trogs lay dead, and another secret passage lay exposed in a hallway the trogs had sprung their ambush in. Carefully investigating the passageway, the party saw no evidence anyone or anything had passed this way in a long, long time. At the end of a corridor, a large ancient iron door led into a large room that looked like some sort of worship area to Ert. There were several pillars, pews, a large altar at the front, several slumped figures in the pews and four large urns from which some sort of odd smoke oozed forth from! The chamber was lit by a continual light spell in the center, and it was quite an eerie and spooky looking scene. Slowly, several members of the party came into the room to examine the figures. Unfortunately, at this, several of the figures sprung up and began to attack….they were undead wights, hungry for life energy! Endefal and Alando attempted to turn them to no avail, and the party found themselves facing eight of the beasts. Unfortunately, to make matters worse, the greenish smoke began causing party members to fall unconscious one by one! This made the battle even more desperate. Alando was struck a couple of times, which caused him to lose some of his health and energy, but after a long battle that involved collapsed characters being dragged out of the room by non-combatants until they awoke, only to re-enter and then sometimes fall back asleep, Alando found out pouring holy water in the urns caused the smoke to stop rising. After the smoke was stopped, the battle was fought on more equal terms, and Nadal, Endefal, Mongo, Kal, and Cadelaine soon had destroyed all the undead. Afterwards, the party decided to search the room, and discovered two large doors to the north and south, and a secret passage in the SE corner that led to a long deserted passageway. Binding their wounds and curing themselves, the group decided the hidden chapel would be a good place to rest and recover, hidden as it was, as long as no more undead came within. Posting guards, the party uneasily set up camp for the night. As they rested Alando examined a pendent taken from all eight of the destroyed wights, a skull shaped ceramic piece of jewelry on a chain that was a holy symbol of Ert, God of the Dead. Thinking they might come in handy, he placed all eight of the symbols within a pouch for perhaps further use….
Ajada (native Ashante warrior): An employee of House Valaryan, Ajada is a caravan leader. His job is to relay orders between the merchants sponsoring and travelling with the caravan and the native drovers, porters and bearers who take care of the animals, carry the supplies and guard the caravans that pass travel through the jungle. Ajada is typical of his profession, a no nonsense, mirthless man who has proven to be trustworthy in the past and very good at his job. Due to several odd pronouncements the party suspects he might have cannibal blood somewhere in his family tree...
Alando (human priest of Vistna): A tall gangly young man who is awkward in social situations, Alando came to the Temple of Vistna in Port Maurgre under circumstances he won't divulge (except to say he was being "punished" for some undeclared fault). As the newest and youngest priest at the temple he had been assigned to the high priest, Vespasian, and often runs errands for him. He has been assigned to travel with the party to the fabled "Elephant's Graveyard" deep in the jungles of Delos (and later the "Forbidden City" even deeper in the jungle's depths). Along the way he has become a bit more outgoing and has risked his life for the party, especially for Cadelaine who he has developed a bit of a crush on.
Ardu (native Delosian human Ranger): Ardu is the uncle of Mongo, and left his tribe long ago to work with House Valaryan. Over the years he has become a trusted and valuable guide for trading expeditions. As a youth Mongo and his brothers always looked up to Ardu, who has a blunt, black humorish style about him that endears him to most. He has taken Mongo under his wing since the destruction of his village, and has been assigned by Gam to look out for and educate the adventurers on the dangers of the jungle and how to survive them. Later developments find Ardu kidnapped by the evil serpent men and taken as a captifve to their stronghold, the Forbidden City (where Mongo and his friends have traveled to rescue him)
Ark (human ranger): A evil mercenary in the employ of House Tarn, he and his group were hired to steal a map of the Elephant's Graveyard that had come into the hands of the priesthood of Vistna. After stealing the map, Ark and his companions were then paid to find the Graveyard and secure the area so that House Tarn could exploit it (killing anyone who got in their way). Unfortunately, on the way to the Graveyard his party was attacked by cannibal headhunters, and then by the group of adventurers, and he and the other mecenaries were defeated. Captured for questioning, a Helm of Alignment Change was placed on his head, and now Ark loyally serves with the party due to his new LG nature. Ark perished in combat with the priest of the elephant god, Honapo, as he was stung to death by summoned wasps then crushed by a clay golem.
CADELAINE (silver half-elven mage/thief): Daughter of a silver elven ambassador to The League and the head of House Valaryan (making her Nadal's half-sister), Cadelaine stowed away on a merchant ship to Delos to save her adopted family from future problems. Her mother (a sorceress) having passed away, and her father refusing to acknowledge her, Cadelaine moved in with a local baker's family whose son idolized her. Learning the fine art of burglary with her friend to supplement her adopted family's income, she felt she had to leave as she became older and her resemblance to her father became more pronounced (perhaps causing trouble in the future as questions would be asked). Taking a ship to as far away a location as she could, she hopes to start a new life far from the sad reminders of her past. She has been employed by House Valaryan to obstensibly work off her debt for the ship ride to Delos.
Captain Bohema (Human corsair): The Captain of "The Morning Sun" is a large, bawdy man. His job seems to be a continuous circuit of trips, from Delos (where he picks up trade good such as mahogany, ivory and spices) back to the League several thousand miles away, where he unloads his booty to gather steel weapons, beads, and cheap gems, and then back to Delos. Not without compassion, he took Cadlaine under his wing when he found her stowed away aboard his ship bound for Delos, and rescued Endefal when he was found floating in the ocean. He recommended both to House Valaryan as employees on his judge of character.
Damu (wererat warrior): An inhabitant of the Forbidden City, he is one of the leaders of the wererat clan that has existed in the long abandoned sewer system for many centuries. Enemies of the serpentmen, they have quietly battled their reptilian foes from the shadows. Recently Damu and his ratkin have attempted to capture and turn the party to lycanthropy for the good of the wererat clan. His plan failed, and he managed to escape to perhaps again plot for the capture and corruption of the party.
Desteri (human mercenary fighter): A member of a ill-fated caravan raided by serpentmen, Desteri was captured, then escaped, from the reptilian clutches and eventually made his way to the mongrelmen's camp in the Forbidden City. Soon charmed by the elven mage Aratheas, he was her willing bodyguard and plaything until a Free Will spell cast by Endefal gave him his mind back. Escaping with the party after the death of Aratheas and confrontation with the mongrelmen, he was found to be a crude, rude and impetuous warrior with few redeeming qualities but his sword. Soon charmed again by Kal, he followed orders until once again being freed from the charm by a inadvertent Dispel Magic. Taking back up his impetuous ways, he was badly injured by a group of evil Kani dolls who he accidentally activated while adventuring underground. For now, he is still with the party until they tire of his nature, or charm him again. Finally, catching the figther in the act of searching Cadelaine's unconcious body, Alando attacked him and was seriously injured. Mongo at that point was fed up with the ill-mannered mercenary and chopped his head off, ending his brief association with the party.
ENDEFAL (gold half-elven priest of Attar): Little is known of Endefal's past, except that he was captured and held aboard a Taranthian slave vessel, where he learned the word of Attar from another priest posing as a simple slave. When that slave-priest was beaten to death, Endefal found his calling in the word of Attar, and attempted to destroy the ship many times until he finally escaped. Found floating in the ocean by Captain Bohema of House Valaryan, he is being employed by them to work off his debt for his rescue. Endefal is quiet, brooding, and has a hatred for slavers that perhaps encompases even Mongos.
Gam (human ?): Called "The Patriarch" by most members and employees of House Valaryan, Gam is a older, scarred, grizzled individual of a few years. How he came to Delos, and how he became the leader of House Valaryan on Delos is unknown. He is gruff and blunt, but not entirely cruel. Above all he seems to be motiviated by profit, for himself or his masters at House Valaryan no one knows.
Gra-Gra (Carnivorous ape companion of Kal): Charmed and befriended instead of killed, Gra-Gra has proven to be quite a beneficial addition to the adventurers. Fighting with the strength and ferocity of any warrior, he has proven himself time and again a valuable fighting force. His habit of stopping to take a bite of almost anything he kills in battle (usually by ripping it in half with his claws) is distasteful but .... Sadly, the ape was killed in battle, burnt to a crisp by a delayed blast fireball cast by The Immortal King in the caverns under Kitanga.
Horan (Black necromancer in the Forbidden City): A enigmatic force in the city, he controls many of the patrolling undead that walk the streets of the ruins. He says he is only there in search of ancient knowledge, whether foe or ally cannot be determined, although he seems to be bearing a grudge for injuries to his servant Kwano (a female necromancer apprentice of his) by the party, and is apparantly shadowing them through undead servants such as bonebats. To display his power he killed the priest Endefal with a Death Spell, and seems to have various unusual and deadly spells at his disposal (as well as the power to speak and act through undead). He resides in a large, well kept mansion in the city's SW area, behind a stone wall, guarded by various undead creations.
KALPHISTANE (gold elven druid): Kal (as he is known) was part of an ill-fated expedition to find some trace of an elven force that had landed on Delos over 500 years ago and then disappeared. With members of the Vistnan priesthood assisting, the expedition had not gone far into the jungle before being attacked by the dreaded Snake-men and their allies, killing his mentor and the other elves Kal traveled with. Returning to Port Mauge with the survivors, Kal stayed with the Vistnan priesthood awaiting further contact with the priesthood of Faerel. As the weeks wore on he realized that no further assistance would arrive, and is now working for House Valaryan to pay his way and hopefully use his time with them to become more attuned to the jungle so he can search for this lost elven city on his own.
Kumar (human native priest of Attar): Rescued by the party from slavers, this horribly scarred young man (a large ugly whip lash crosses his face) found Attar when he prayed the night he was captured. The god came to him and offered him help if he would assist others who also had been taken slaves, and thus Kumar became an acolyte. Seeking out Endefal when he had been rescued, Endefal realized the native boy had been touched by Attar, and took him on to guide him. Since then Kumar has participated in the group's adventures, often showing a reckless disregard for his safety when he rushes into combat unarmored screaming "Attar" and wielding a large war club.
MONGO (native Delosian ranger): Mongo watched his entire family except for an older brother taken captive and sold off into slavery by Tzulan warriors working for the Taranthian priesthood. They were not the first or the last Ashante tribe to be treated thus, so he swore sword vengeance against the Tzulans and their Taranthian masters and vowed to slay them and rescue his family. His older brother left him in the care of his uncle Ardu (who is employed at House Valaryan as a ranger scout) while he tries to track down their family and get word back to Mongo to join him. By then it is hoped that with the teachings of his Uncle Ardu, Mongo will have become an experienced and deadly warrior. Now that Mongo has taken up worship of the Elephant God and wields the sword Sentinel, he has also become the protector of the Armec tribe in their secret valley. Mongo's chosen enemy is the serpent men and any reptilian monster, due to some unspecified event that happened early in his life.
Roho (Human native fighter): Roho was an Ashante tribesman who was assigned to guard Kalphistane during a battle against Tzulan warriors. Kalphistane was the first elf Roho had ever seen, coupled with the elven druid's flaming spear, spell use, and generaly inability to fight well, Roho had assigned himself to guarding the druid and protecting him in battle. Kal's exoticness and spell use made him (in Roho's mind) an emissary of the Forest Gods so he must be protected. After several adventures with the party, Roho was killed with a poisoned blade while battling the evil mercenary thief Jakk
Sholo (native fighting man): Sholo was part of the Armec tribe, a "lost' tribe that had for centuries lived in the valley of the elephant and then guarded the entrance to the valley (after being chased out by the evil priest Honapo). Sholo was the chief's son, fully ready to take over the dying tribe for his father when the burden of leadership was passed on. The arrival of a group of adventurers, who destroyed Honapo and made the valley once again safe for habitation, was a turning point in the young man's life. Inspired by these heroes, especially their leader Mongo, he vowed to follow them to learn more about the outside world and experience adventure. Perhaps he could also spread word of the Elephant God, and someday come back to lead his people with the experience and wisdom of having traveled the jungles of Delos. Sholo is quite young and raw but quite strong and fast, and after being given a magical short sword by Mongo, has proven quite skilled in it's use.
SIR NADAL KINSWORTH VALARYAN (human fighter): 5th son of the present head of House Valaryan, Nadal has been sent to far-off Delos to get him out of the way so he won't muddy the waters of succession. Thinking he was beng sent to Delos in order to take command of an army of men, Nadal quickly had his hopes dashed as he given the the lowest position (mercenary) upon reaching the House Valaryan outpost in Port Maugre. However, despite some initial disappointment and prissiness, Nadal has seemed to adapt well to the vagaries of life in the jungle and is looking at the experience as a "toughening up" period that will make him even more suitable to one day lead House Valaryan
Talith (human fighter): Talith is head warrior of House Valaryan. Although not a native Delosian, he has come to know the jungle well after many years serving the merchant house there. All preparations for trade expeditions are nominally under his control. Right now he is stationed in the Valley of the Elephant supervising the gathering and shipment of hundreds of pounds of valuable ivory
Tula and Ular (native Ashante warriors): Twin brothers of a young age, the two cheerful warriors were captured by serpentmen to be used as sacrifces. Escaping their clutches, they joined the mongrelmen area of the Forbidden City and were well liked by their fellow "lost explorers". Escaping with the party after the mongrelmen attacked following a mishap, they loyally follow the party in their quest. They are especially impressed by Mongo, who they hero worship from afar. Unfortunately, Ular had been bitten by a wererat while in the undertemple below the city, and after showing signs of being ill, changed into a giant rat and disappeared into the darkness.
Vespasian (human priest of Vistna): The head of the temple of Vistna in Port Maugre, the old gray haired scholar has spent many years in the jungle port. He seems to be driven (like many other Vistnan priests) by a thirst for knowledge about the jungle continent, it's legends, history and people. He is known for sponsoring expeditions into the jungle interior to aquire ancient or forbidden knowledge.