After a testing battle, the huge Carrion Crawler (no doubt enraged by Tol’s new hat) is slain and the adventurers make their way back to the rendezvous with the Graakhali.
Keeping their end of the bargain, the troglodytes lead the party onwards through their network of underground tunnels and caverns. During this time, rumours are heard of a Red Dragon to the South, Memnon seems to gain a follower of Halav in the form of an interested Gnoll, Switch discovers a crumbly fungus that can be smoked and Kathra receives notice from Duvenstahl: A group of clerics of Vanya, Heldanic missionaries in the Ethengar Khanates, are slain. The Ethengarians deny any knowledge of the event, though rumour has it that the Heldanners bodies were riddled with Ethengarian arrows and lances. Heldann demands an apology and recompense.
After a week of travel, the time comes for the Graakhali to turn back. The Heroes of Dymrak promise to keep Graakhalia a secret and to return to deal with the Beholder’s portal. The two groups part ways.
Enduring the elements thanks to Ozzy’s magicks, the party makes its way across the desert. Some time later, the party encounters fortifications blocking the way ahead, through a cleft in the ridge. The outpost appears to be manned and approaching, is identified by its guards as Fort Wyvernkill.
Superb diplomacy from Memnon (Natural 20!) sees the party ushered through the Fort for a toll of 10gp each. The human inhabitants are not in the least friendly and Ozzy notes a residual arcane energy. Kathra maps the area as they pass through. Exiting, Ozzy conducts a ritual to find his father and discovers he is located somewhere in the Fort.
Carrying on for a while, the heroes then double back, approaching from on high via goat trails. Switch sneaks into the Fort, almost immediately encountering guard and knocking him out – he turns into a Snakeman! Tol takes up a vantage point elsewhere and the remaining members find themselves under bowfire from nomads on a plateau, who look a little… odd from the waist down.
These Serpent Folk differ from the others met before – they have no legs, only arms. Tol encounters a nest of four of them and proceeds to wipe them out, as Ozzy blinds the ones on the plateau long enough for Memnon and Kathra to take out some before a winged horde finishes the rest.
Switch encounters more foe and engages in full battle. With covering fire from Tol, the rest of the party advances on the Fort and gains access, seeking their hairy-footed companion. The sounds of battle guide them to him and soon the party is pursuing their foe into darkened chambers and a statue to some unknown deity.
By the light of Memnon’s flaming mace and Ozzy’s light spell, combat is joined with a robed Serpent Man priest and his minions. The priest summons lashing purple tentacles, but Kathra’s cleaving (age?), Ozzy’s Hammerfall Step and Memnon’s Divine powers wreak havoc amongst the foe.
The Priest dominates Switch, who attacks Tol before breaking free of his control. Memnon and Kathra bloody the priest enough for Ozzy to try and intimidate him. The Priest refuses to co-operate in any way and Kathra cuts him down. Her sword, Moonclaw, hums with satisfaction and the Dwarf feels she has a better understanding of its powers. Fire rubies are prised from the statue’s eyes (5,200GP in total). An inscription on the statue is to some unknown deity from the Beyond.
Continuing with haste to try and locate Ozzy’s father and any other prisoners before they can be harmed, the heroes moves forwards, the tunnels leading slowly downwards and the air becoming moist. A sharp smell hangs on the air as a guard post is encountered, consisting of bowmen and large snakes. The guard post is soon eliminated, but more guards emerge from other tunnels.
Memnon dashes in pursuit of one, entering a chamber containing several large eggs, held up by metallic frames. He slips, falls (Natural1!) and is immersed by writhing snakes. As Switch and Tol scout in the opposite direction, they encounter more foe.
Ozzy and Kathra come to the Cleric’s aid, a winged horde first ripping into the snakes before Kathra pours oil over the Tiefling, (which is ignited by his flaming mace) and Ozzy’s magic backfire (Natural 1!) blowing the wizard back and onto his ass. With Memnon unharmed by the flames, the snakes begin to burn away and Memnon rises to his feet unleashing a mighty Divine Glow (Natural 20!) that fries most of the snakes and smashes one of the eggs. A naked human form slumps free of the shell and is set upon by the swarm.
Kathra uses her shield to squash the rest of the snakes as Memnon rushes to the human male’s side, finding him greatly aged, pale skinned and quite dead. He wears a ring bearing a heraldic device.
Tol and Switch finish off the Serpent Folk in the immediate vicinity and the party regroups at the egg chamber (Milestone achieved!). Memnon provides some dignity and prayers for the dead human. Ozzy examines the eggs and the sigils on them, understanding them to be some form of shapeshifting ritual. The egg stands are made of platinum, so Switch hacks up he broken one and adds it to party treasure (3000gp).
The device on the dead man’s ring is that of a minor military order from Thyatis – The Sons of the Lion. Memnon identifies the symbol as being replicated on the broken egg shell and determines that each egg also bears a unique symbol. The party hypothesis that each egg contains a different individual from a different organisation and that the eggs are a part of the process of Serpent Folk taking on the form of others and infiltrating organisations. Maybe one of these eggs contains Ozzy’s father..?
If so, he is safe for now, but if not, he may be in danger. Intending to return here, the adventurers set off again. They advance, spiralling slowly downwards, for several hours. The air becomes damper and warmer. No more enemy are encountered, but tracks (some footprints and others; snake trails) are discovered. Firestones light the walls at regular intervals.
Acknowledging they need to rest, the heroes hole up in a dead ended tunnel, setting caltrops and a watch and settle down for an extended rest, so they may be at full power for whatever comes next…