The party moved forward to engage the bullywugs, joined suddenly by a leather clad figure that dove into the fight. Advancing further into the room, they could now see that it was essentially a large pit surrounded by a catwalk. Standing around the catwalk were about a dozen bullywugs, most in the process of throwing things into the hissing pit. But now all drew spears and leapt into combat with the party. In the fight that followed, bullywugs tumbled into the pit one by one as they were slain, until just a pair remained. One, who had remained against the far wall, was moving to pull a lever when the mysterious stranger put an end to that with an arrow through its throat. The last creature then tried to leap away across the pit but was struck down by Darnorth. Foes defeated, the party now turned to the newcomer, a dark skinned lightly armed women by the name of Saaniya. She had come through one of the gates searching for treasure in the forbidden city, and about a day ago she met a strange companion. A spirit by the name Bjorn spoke to her out thin air trying to convince her to enter the temple pyramid. The spirit offered her great wealth if she aids in finding some other adventurers trapped by the snakes who walk like men. Knowing better than to argue with the spirit world, she had followed the party’s trail to this spot. [Meanwhile, Bjorn had whispered sotto voce to Darnorth explaining he was alive, invisible, and toying with their new companion. Which made Darnorth suddenly concerned about the effect of his wish.] Introductions complete, attention turned to the pit. Which was full of snakes, large and small. Gurruk stepped forward and in slithery voice convinced six of the more deadly looking serpents to join him as companions. Meanwhile, the others moved to the other side of the room to examine a door and the lever sticking out of the wall. Darnorth examined the edge of the catwalk and found one spot where it was hinged, apparently a way to drop a ramp into the pit. The guess was the lever operated that ramp. So to cover their backs, a few iron spikes were rammed in to jam it in place.
Heading through the door, the party travelled a lengthy corridor and emerged into a small trapezoidal room. Two opulent divans designed for some weird non-human form stood against the angled walls, and a complex mosaic pattern covered the floor. Vorn was at once attracted to the plain wall between the two divans, and a little searching revealed a secret door. But with no apparent way to open it. Pushing, pulling, sliding, etc didn’t seem to work, so the party searched the area for some sort of opening mechanism. Darnorth stood staring at the floor, and noticed that the tile was in a regular pattern, except in the centre where the pattern was mixed up. Carefully floating over the mosaic using his boots of levitation, the dwarf poked at the tiles and discovered they were loose. He proceeded to rearrange them into the same pattern as the rest of the floor, and as the last piece was placed, the secret door pivoted 90o, revealing a dust and cobweb filled room. Which also contained a series of seven mahogany chests, banded in bronze turned green with age. Saaniya immediately started searching the first for traps, and in a short while she opened it up to reveal a pile of silver and gold. Eager now to open the others, she moved to next one. However, there then came the sound of a commotion outside, where Gurruk and his new scaly friends were watching the corridor. “Snake man comes” grunted the beastmaster, and then directed his snakes to take out the intruder. The yg-ti, unconcerned by the snakes, instead asked in the serpent tongue why they were out and about . And was answered by an assault of snake flesh. The yg-ti fought back, charming most of the snakes into turning on the rest. Meanwhile, he also turned most of Gurruk’s arrows into snakes, so everyone was left fighting the blasted serpents while Saaniya continued to work over the second chest. In the end, the yg-ti fell to the fangs of the giant cobra, and the rest of the party mopped up the other snakes. In the secret room, Saaniya found a pile of silver and gems in the second chest, but the rest of the party decided it would be best to come back later to check out the rest. Pushing on to find Erijay and Kern was more important right now.
Reluctantly she agreed, and the party moved on while Gurruk questioned the snakes. The reptiles could only tell the beastmaster that the captives were held deeper in the dungeon, and would eventually be transformed into yg-ti by combining them with snakes in some sort of foul ritual. By this time, the party had entered another room. A narrow bridge exited the far end, apparently to pass once more over the cylindrical abyss. In the room was a small mauve fount, filled with an oily green-yellow liquid. The snakes smelled it, and told Gurruk it smelled of serpents. Choosing not to mess with the oil, they instead moved quickly across the bridge. Entering the room at the other end, they encountered a massive throne carved in the shape of a snake’s skull. Each eye held a small oil lamp, and the lower fangs contained the stubs of oily green candles. Darnorth lit a candle for the ambience, but nothing seemed to happen. Moving into an adjacent chamber through a short corridor, they found an identical chamber with an identical skull throne. This one, however, did not have candles . While the rest of the party milled around examining the room, Darnorth yanked on the snake fangs, and was surprised to find the throne begin to pivot into the wall behind. Calling out “Follow me!” he leapt to the throne, joined quickly by Saaniya. The throne stopped on the other side, in a richly decorated room. Which was occupied by another yg-ti, dressed in rich vestments. “Who are you?” hissed the snake man, which Darnorth answered by jumping off the throne and swinging his sword. “I’ll go for help” yelled Saaniya, who then turned the throne back around and started ferrying more party members into the room to help Darnorth. Who was not doing too bad, having resisted the yg-ti attempt to charm and fear him. But everyone else soon had lots to do, as Darnorth found most of his crossbow bolts turned to more snakes. But in the end, all prevailed, and the snakes and snake man were felled rather quickly by the party.
The room itself contained another of the strange shaped couches, a series of lecterns with black and red tablets detailed rituals and chants of the cult of Yg, and a strange device in a niche in the south wall. It was a 2’ tall double helix made of two black and gold snakes, linked together by bands of glowing green light. Though wary of this at first, it was promptly snatched as treasure by Darnorth. A hallway leading west ended after 20’’ in a door. And along the walls of the hall were four chests; one cast iron, the second mahogany and iron, the third alabaster and the fourth of battered wood. Saaniya discovered traps on the last two, and was able to disarm one. The other was magical and required a dispel magic spell from Riley to defeat. The cast iron and alabaster chests were both locked; a key found on the fallen yg-ti opened the first, but neither the key nor Saaniya could open the second. In the three they could access, the party found another pile of coin and jewelry, the most portable bits of which were quickly pocketed. There was some discussion around smashing the last one, but the decision was to leave it for now to avoid alerting anyone/anything lurking behind the door. So to the door they went. Darnorth opened it and glanced in. It opened into a small caged area overlooking another catwalk/pit room. In this one, bugbears patrolled the catwalk and human prisoners were shackled to the walls of the pit. Including, to Darnorth’s relief, Kern and Erijay. The bugbears didn’t seem to notice the dwarf, so he shut the door so a plan of action could be made. In the meantime, Gurruk and snakes wandered down a corridor to another door into the prison room, guarded by a trio of bugbears. The party regrouped and hatched a plan. Gurruk would have the snakes take out the bugbears, and most of the rest of the party would back them up if needed. Saaniya would enter the cage to snipe at the bugbears inside, keeping them busy and protecting the prisoners from harm. And all went well. The bugbears, used to seeing snakes around, were surprised by the attack of Gurruk’s new pets, and didn’t stand long against their poison. Inside, Saaniya kept the bugbears busy, but they returned the favor and the thief soon had to retreat, badly wounded. By then, the rest of the party had burst into the prison and quickly slaughtered the remaining bugbears. While the battle raged, Vorn scrambled down into the pit to free Kern and Erijay. The others he left in chains for now, until the party was sure they were of no harm. The party retreated to the head yg-ti’s chamber for now to plan what to do next. Kern meanwhile borrowed some picks from Saaniya, and swiftly opened the lock on the alabaster chest that had defeated her abilities. With a smug look, he handed the picks back to her, and opened the chest. Inside were his and Erijay’s gear, with a few notable exceptions. Erijay sword was still missing, as were a couple of Kern’s valuable items. But the two donned their gear and prepared for whatever came next …