Friday, November 30, 2012

Westmist Session #26 - Snakes and Treasures

With Kern and Riley now recovered from their demises, the party turned their attention to hunting down the treasure of the Cult of Yg.  Asking around town and temple, they didn’t learn much more about the Cult or the “Breeding Pits of Yg” mentioned in the book. They did locate a pair of good ole boy giant toad hunters, Seth and Jongo, who knew where to find the hidden fane. They agreed to lead the party there for a suitable fee.  So Kern (with henchmen Norm and Cal, and Sweet Jenny the mule), Erijay (with dog Foxy), Riley, and Darnoth headed out to grub for treasure once more.

After an uneventful trip downriver in Kern’s folding boat, and a short march overland, Seth and Jongo dumped the party on a low hill and pointed them towards the small mist shrouded valley below. “Ya’ll find what you’re looking for down there. We ain’t going no further”. And at that they headed back to their own boat and left the party thankful that Riley had thought to mark their trail on the way in. So into the valley they descended, soon coming to a worn path of hexagonal snake inscribed tiles, which ended at a squat structure of cyclopean blocks with a pair of massive stone doors. The lintel over the door, supported by two columns carved as giant snakes, was inscribed “for he who slithers”. Carved on each door was a coiled snake. It would seem this was the right place.

Opening the massive portals, the party passed into the nave, stopping briefly to examine an old fountain before pressing forward through the pews and into the crossing. Here they found a cobra statue with mouth open wide. When Darnorth looked inside, he spied to gilt of gold. Suspecting a trap, Riley’s solution was to bash off the head of the statue to access to treasure inside. A good idea, as the mouth was found to be spring loaded and razor sharp when examined by Kern. Once the party had scooped up the gold and platinum coins, they entered the nave and found a well, behind which stood an altar. Beyond in the semidarkness could be seen a statue.  From the well came reptilian odors of rot and decay, as well as a cacophony of hissing. By probing with rope and poles, the party found the well was at least 50’ deep and was wet at the bottom. On the altar was a silver cloth, embroidered with coiled snakes. Carved on front of the altar was a triptych of three different snake creatures. These were a great snake like creature with catfish-like tentacles around its face; another snake with the head of a man, and the third a humanoid with the head of a cobra and tentacles or snakes tails in place of the lower body. Moving deeper into the nave, they found a massive 20’ tall statue of the man-serpent seen on the altar. Darnorth, using his boots of levitation, floated up to examine the statue and discovered two dark gems for eyes. Pausing briefly to consider the wisdom of removing them, greed soon overcame caution and he plucked them from the statues head with no apparent ill effect.

Having examined the fane from north to south, the party next moved east to examine one of the transepts. Here in the unnatural cold and darkness, they found a stone alter, on which sat a small statue of the great snake creature. This creature was crushing bodies in its coils and others hung from its maw. Checking the west transept, a similar alter was found, this one with a statue of the snake-humanoid. In front stood a stone stand and bowl, filled with a viscous black liquid. Erijay cautiously prodded this with her 10’ pole, at which point the liquid rose from the bowl and lashed out at the elf with a pseudopod-like limb. The rest of the party rushed in with weapons swinging to help the elf, only to find their blows did nothing more then split the creature into smaller versions that continued to attack. Kern and his henchmen started running back and forth to pull more flasks off Sweet Jenny, which were then rushed them forward to the front line to hurl at the creatures. These were eventually defeated by this judicious use of oil and torches. 

After briefly checking around the altar for secret doors and compartments, the party opened a door passed earlier in the nave and found a set of stairs heading down. The odor of rot, decay and reptile was getting stronger here. Exploring the first few rooms, they found robes woven in a snake scale pattern similar to that found on the prayer mats in Stonehell. In the same rooms were some boxes of sickly looking green incense, oddly shaped musical horns, and a shelf of decaying books detailing the rituals of the Cult of Yg.  In one book, Erijay found reference to an item called the Cobra Codex. This tome gave the wielder power over serpents, and it seemed to be located somewhere in the old temples of Yg in Stonehell. Likewise, Darnorth recovered a small ebony tablet, inscribed in red with a series of short prayers of epitaphs to Yg.   

Moving on, the party explored a few monastic cells before entering a room that showed frescos of strange half man – half snake creatures wrapping bodies in linens, and then carrying them through a door. Looking around the room, they realized the door pictured in the frescos was on the opposite wall, bared shut on their side by a massive wooden beam. With great boldness, Kern had his henchmen lift the bar out of the brackets, and the door was opened. Inside, the smell of decay was mixed with that of spice. Along all the walls were small fired clay plaques, carved with an ouroboros. They did not have long to look, however, as two of the plaques were pushed to the floor and a pair of frightful mummies emerged to attack the party.  In the fight than ensued, the party dealt quickly with the undead, but both Erijay and Riley felt the chilling touch of the creatures from beyond the grave. Riley in fact found himself with some horrid rotting disease which resisted all his clerical skill at healing. None the less, he bravely chose to push on with the exploration. First order was to search the rest of the niches, but no undead or treasures were uncovered. After next examining some sort of ruined lounge, the party found themselves in front of a pair of massive locked bronze doors covered in verdigris. Listening carefully, Kern could hear hissing on the other side.  Hoping to avoid further poisonings, Erijay suggested a course of flaming oil under the door, a plan quickly endorsed and put into action. Once the flames had died down and doors cooled, Kern tried his luck at the lock. Alas, it was beyond his skill, and instead Erijay used here newly learned knock spell to open the portal.

On the other side, the short (and now fire blackened) corridor ended in a portcullis. Beyond could be seen a large cavern. Most of the cavern was filled with a pool of water, with a rocky islet in the middle. All of it was covered in snakes, hundreds of them, including at least two giant marsh snakes. Overhead could be seen the opening of the well in the nave. Not keen on crossing through the slithering masses before the, they party first tried a combination of an unholy symbol of Yg, prayers and incense to control the serpents. When this proved futile, Darnorth instead used his boots to levitate to the top of the cavern. Pulling himself along the roof, the dwarf found several side caverns.  These contained more snakes, and one had an odd statue of a rat. One side exit, the largest, was unusual in that the filth and debris found everywhere else appeared to be missing from here. The dwarf entered here carefully, slowly proceeding deeper until forced to pass through a relatively narrow opening. On the other side, he was confronted by a creature that looked like the great statue in the nave above; a huge serpent with the head of a man, sitting on a mound of bone, filt and glittering treasure. The creature uncoiled and rose up so its unblinking gaze met that of the dwarf. Darnorth, shaking off a powerful urge to stay, turned and fled back to meet the rest of the group as fast as his arms could drag him. But not before the abomination took a bite out of the dwarfs behind.

Nervous about confronting all these scaly foes at this point, the party elected to return to Westmist to rest, refit and plan. And to have the rot on Riley’s arm looked after.  After quickly dealing with a wandering band of lizardfolk, they unfolded the boat and embarked to head back to town. There, Riley had the mummy’s curse removed at the temple while everyone else started to prepare for their return to the Breeding Pits of Yg.

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