DRAMATIS PERSONAE:Rodrigo (Swashbuckler 6)
Awg Wahmn (Calmonari 6)
Torak (Cleric 6)
Chaff (Vivimancer 6), with familiar Pretty Bird and riding dog Puppy Whuppy
Kwinsea (Aquamancer 6), with familiar Hermes
After first searching once more (with no avail) through the room guarded by the skeletal snake-thing, the party turned about and headed north through the only unexplored passage. Rodrigo, walking point, took the ring of invisibility from Torak and scouted ahead. He found the winding passage entered a large cavern. The space had been partly worked, with one smooth wall off to the side and a series of pillars running down the centre. Squatting atop the pillars were some sort of humanoid shapes, but Rodrigo could not see details. On the far side of those pillars, lit by the faint glow of a pair of braziers, was a table surrounded by a dozen hooded figures. They all stood facing the table, generally motionless. Rodrigo could not see what if anything was on the table, so he retreated back to the party and passed the ring to Awg. The calmonari then headed for the cavern, levitated, and hand-walked the ceiling over to the table. The figures on the pillars proved to be faceless, twisted, and demonic looking. But they did not interfere with Awg as he passed. As for the table, there was nothing of note, but there were a couple of baskets full of gold jewelry sitting on the floor behind the table. He/she returned to the party with that information, and was then sent back to act as bait. Everyone was pretty sure these were some sort of undead, so the plan was to lure them into the narrow passage where a combination of magic and tight melee quarters could take them down with a minimum of risk. Awg took off the ring and headed back to the room, making enough noise to attract the attention of the robed figures. They all turned and started towards the calmonari, but not before several reached into the baskets to scoop up some jewelry. The jewelry bearers walked forward, holding out the treasure as if in offering or something. Awg didn't stick around to find out what was going on, but retreated to join Rodrigo to block the tunnel in front of the magic-slingers. Kwinsea fired off a lighting bolt which took out about half of the undead, while Torak and Chaff added their defensive spell support. That left Rodrigo and Awg to slash away. Oddly enough, the jewelry bearing creatures didn't make any moves to attack, but instead tried to clasp chains and bangles on the two. Their touch alone, however, was deadly and both the melee fighters found themselves cursed with some sort of scabrous rotting disease before they manged to finished off all the attackers.
Torak took a sniff and declared both Rodrigo and Awg were badly infected but not infectious; but alas there was nothing he could do right now to help. So the party pushed forward into the now deserted chamber to look and loot. Awg went over to grab the jewelry baskets, while Torak cast detect magic to see if anything in the room was of interest or concern. The cleric found neither, and joined the rest of the party who were staring at an image seemingly in 3D and behind that smoothly polished wall. It showed robed priests preparing the dead for funeral rights, decorating the bodies with jewelry, and then carrying them down the stairs and casting them into the river. Well that probably explained what was going on earlier.
Having finished with this room, the party moved on and out a passage in the eastern wall. It lead to a long tunnel with a set of descending stairs, which gradually curved towards the south. Rodrigo once more scouted forward invisibly, and found that the stair ended in a small chamber, out of which a second passage continued east. Facing the east passage was another of the robed figures. Once more the swashbuckler retreated, and once more another party member was sent ahead to deal with the room. This time it was Chaff, who shuffled down the stairs with his wheel-lock at the ready. Alas his shot went wild, and the little vivimancer scuttled back up the stairs as the figure turned to face him. There was no pursuit, so once more the whole party surged forward to deal with the obstacle. As the party entered the room, the figure raised it's hands and motioned for them to go back. It also started nattering in some weird language, which the party interpreted as 'go back'. In fact, the creature reached out, grabbed Awg by the shoulder, and tried to turn him back into the passage, causing a second outbreak of the skin rotting disease on the calmonari. No one was going anywhere though, and Kwinsea, Rodrigo and Torak dog-piled the thing and soon had it chopped to pieces.
The party then pushed on through the eastern passage, emerging into a large cavern, well lit as it opened onto sunlight. There was a small pond; into it flowed one river, while two rivers flowed out. One of those rivers was the one the party had been following since leaving the waterfall. The pool could be crossed by stepping stones, leading beneath an overhung ledge that looked down onto the hills and jungle below. A trail led down into the jungle, and based on their height above the tree-tops, the party estimated they were only a few hundred feet below the top of the Forbidden Mountain.
But they didn't head into the daylight just yet, instead backtracking to check out one exit they'd bypassed in the pillared room. This led to another chamber, this one furnished as an office or study. Seated at the desk was another robed figure, which rose and advanced with seemingly hostile intent right away. Torak tried to turn the foul abomination, but the figure laughed off the power of the Drowned God. It reached out and struck Kwinsea, who immediately felt the grip of the rotting disease. Which made her mad, and the aquamancer surged forward to stab repeatedly at the thing with her trident. She was joined by the rest of the party, and the creature soon fell to their blades. Chaff plucked a snake-skull headed ebony staff from the remains, while the rest of the party fanned out to search the room. There was little of interest except for the desk. And of the desk, it was the locked drawer that stood out. The party went back to riffle the body on the floor for a key, which they were able to find. It fit the lock, and with two clicks, the drawer popped open. Inside was an ebony box, sealed shut with crimson wax inscribed with indecipherable writing. Awg picked it up and shook it, noting there was nothing that sounded like gems rattling around inside. It was actually quite light, indicating the box was empty, or at best contained paper or belly button lint.
No one felt like taking a chance and opening it right away. With three infected (and increasing putrid) party members, they decided to bed down in this chamber for the night so Torak could call on Brall in the morning to cure at least two of his companions. Alas, in the morning there were only two to treat, as Rodrigo had succumbed to the infection in his sleep.
GAINS1200gp worth of various golden grave goods (rings, bangles, chains, etc)
13 Undead Cultists (Huecuva)
1 Undead Cultist High-priest
1 Undead Cultist High-priest
* 2xp/gp house rule in effect