Day 68 (89th Day of the Death Curse). Rains fell across Omu, pelting the flooded stream. Down at the bottom of the water, the party puzzled over an ancient obelisk…
Obelisk Puzzle & Blade of Omu. Whirling the obelisk about with the water she magically controlled, KOKO consulted with her companions, trying a few combinations but this only released more flashes of searing blinding light, likely visible from the surface. SCOMETT and RANDOLF suggested she try turning it so the darkened faces, lightened faces, and mixed faces matched. "Enduring service" surely meant throughout hours of both darkness and light. This caused the center of the obelisk to echo with an underwater mechanical sound, dropping the three tiers so that now they could only be turned as one massive unit. RANDOLF advised they turn it so the blade-wielding human faced the front as it had in the original position of the obelisk, and when KOKO did so, each stone tier separated as if repulsed by a powerful magnet, revealing a glowing longsword within!
Surfacing with the longsword, the party climbed ashore and RANDOLF proceeded to identify it as a ritual – it was a vorpal longsword known as the "blade of Omu" symbolizing the many conquests of the Omuan empire with skull motifs of enemy tribes engraved into the crossguard, and a thin red channel running the tang of the blade for channeling blood. When the shadow elf Xael touched the blade, her eyes flickered and the final moments of the baelnorn Alia teth Mihrael were revealed as the blade frosted over as if with breath, revealing an illusion along the surface of the blade…
…The baelnorn waited on the ruined spell-blasted walkway, whereupon Acererak emerged, cinders flaring from his black and purple robes, smoke spewing from his skeleton jaw, and a young half-elven woman in his clutches. "A foolish gambit, planeshifting me! Now I've found your last living descendant who is your phylactery," he cackled in a high-pitched voice. Thereupon, he unleashed a chain lightning on the baelnorn and three elves nearby her, killing the elves to a sizzling crisp, and when the baelnorn attempt to cast absorb elements to mitigate the damage, Acererak counterspelled it. In a last ditch attempt, the baelnorn began casting incendiary cloud just as Acererak retaliated with his own planeshift spell, waiting for her to return before finishing her off with power word kill. Thereupon he finished life draining the half-elf who served as the baelnorn's living phylactery, cackling all the while, "At last I've learned your secret!"…
This seemed to break the shadow elves' spirit and though SCOMETT made an argument that they should join the party against Acererak, Xael said the umbragen could not act against the night hags and that they needed to find any survivors and regroup. However, honoring their agreement, she gifted them a charm of shadow jaunting.
Charm of Shadow Jaunting. Once, as an action, you and up to 8 willing creatures within 30 feet can teleport from one area of dim light or darkness to another area of dim light or darkness within a half mile (2,640 feet) that you either can see or are familiar with.
Salida's Serpentine Message. Returning to where they left their pack dinosaurs, the party found Artus and Salida missing, and a venomous snake that Mau'o was playing with turned out to be bespelled as an animal messenger that spoke with Salida's voice: “I’ve done you a favor with Artus Cimber. Now, Ras Nsi will meet you peacefully. Come to northeastern palace ready to enter the Fane blindfolded."
Short Rest. Tending their wounds, the party took 1 hour to rest, discussing their plans – head toward Wongo's Shrine, go the long way around the Red Wizard's camp, then to Nangnang's Shrine, and ultimately the ruined circular palace to meet with the yuan-ti.
Kobolds in the Ruined Bazaar. SCOMETT scouted ahead, finding a ruined bazaar with a small group of kobolds scavenging through it. The younger kobolds were nervous about the possibility of encountering adventurers, but the older seasoned kobold assured them that adventurers had foibles – like always carrying torches – which could be used against them. Appearing above the kobolds, he spoke in smooth calm tones, immediately evoking worshipful praise from the younger kobolds who recognized SCOMETT's blackened scales as marking him as "dragon-touched." The elder kobold informed SCOMETT that they served Chief Kakarol who was planning his draconic ascension with the aid of the city's overlord. The kobolds' lair was below a souk in the ruined bazaar. Impressing the kobolds with acidic breath and an icy cool demeanor, SCOMETT crept back to his party, advising them to circle around the ruined bazaar to avoid the kobolds.
More Discoveries. As the party followed the ancient stone walkway that once served as a thoroughfare, RANDOLF found a labyrinthine holy symbol of Ubtao enchanted with magic mouth speaking in Old Omuan: “The Devourer has killed our gods and outlawed worship. No amount of divination pierces the unhallowed Tomb where my kinsmen toil. Ubtao preserve us." RANDOLF also found a royal edict on clay tablet proclaiming that the Devourer sought Omu’s five best gamblers to challenge him to a game of dice and the winner would earn his freedom (five worn names were surrounded by polyhedral silhouettes: triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, octagon).
Wongo's Shrine (with Red Wizards' note). The party beheld a shrine decorated with monkey motifs and five entryways – four covered in cobwebs with portcullises lifted up in the lintels, and one central passage more regularly traversed without any portcullis. Above the central passage was Old Omuan cuneiform: "Better to be Wongo's friend than his enemy." RANDOLF conjectured that the creature represented by Wongo's animal was actually a su-monster, a form of monkey altered ages ago by a mad mage imbuing them with evil intellect and psionic powers. He also hammered a piton beneath the leftmost portcullis; in case the portcullises dropped, they'd at least have a way out. SCOMETT went first, treading cautiously as he came to a central chamber with rafters carved like monkey paws and a monkey statue with each hand and foot opened in a cupped gesture. Surrounding it were four stone "masks" built into the walls representing (from left to right) a lion, a boar, a zebra, and a vulture – each with holes in the eyes. SCOMETT sensed conjuration and abjuration magic upon the statue, though they were distinctly two magical effects, and the masks radiated divination magic. At the base of the statue were Old Omuan cuneiform engravings: "Wongo's friend knows where to pour the water."
Resting in the monkey statue's lap was a note with Common written in delicate cursive: "The puzzle is elementary. Come discuss an alliance and I'll be happy to show you the answer. It's in all our best interests to avoid another gated fireball incident, isn't it? –Zagmira"
Wall reliefs depicted a battle between the trickster god Wongo fighting his hated enemy Moa the jaculi.
KOKO traversed one of the other entryways, finding it led to the lion mask. Old Omuan was written above: "I ate one of the boar's friends." Peering through, she saw a thin ray of magical blue light connecting to the monkey statue's right hand.
RANDOLF gazed through the boar mask next. "The vulture is lucky to be alive." A thin ray of magical blue light connected to the statue's left foot.
SCOMETT gazed through the zebra mask next. "My only friend starved to death." A thin ray of magical blue light connected to the statue's right foot.
KOKO then moved and gazed through the vulture mask last. "One of the others has no friends." A thin ray of magical blue light connected to the statue's left hand.
After a bit of deliberation, the party decided the answer to the logic puzzle was to pour water into the monkey's left hand representing the vulture. SCOMETT directed his companions to stand outside of the shrine as he advanced within 30 feet of the statue and used mage hand to lift a waterskin and empty it on the statue's left hand. A hissing sound emanated from the hand and the puzzle cube of Wongo appeared as if being poured into existence from a pitcher of water. A snarling disembodied voice spoke: "Take the prize and curse your friends , or fight my children to claim it. What is your choice?"
Calling back to his companions to get ready for a fight against su-monster, SCOMETT used mage hand to pull the cube to himself, but as soon as it dropped into his hand a symbol of insanity triggered, causing a 60-foot sphere of glistening dim light reflecting the rain to surround the shrine and envelop the party. At the same time 4 su monsters teleported into the rafters. A fight ensued, with KOKO using flaming sphere to block the passage before retreating outside of the insanity sphere. SCOMETT retreated as well, launching eldritch bolts at the su-monsters. RANDOLF launched fire bolts but eventually succumbed to momentary insanity along with his dinosaur Sir Stampington. YARGLE retreated, using Channel Divinity to reassert control over the "Duke of Chomp" which momentarily suffered insanity, withdrawing a safe distance away. KOKO cast plant growth to slow the su-monsters which soon fell to the party's onslaught. Waiting out the insanity sphere for 10 minutes, the party reconnected with the recovering RANDOLF and YARGLE picked up Wongo's puzzle cube, placing it in his bag of infinite manure.
Greenhouse. A greenhouse with a shattered glass dome lay beyond Wongo's shrine. RANDOLF sent Hootsworthy and SCOMETT sent Maka to scout out the interior which was full of strange plants no one recognized, as well as vines slowly actively moving through a pair of half-submerged skeletons. KOKO hoped inside to explore, finding a leather satchel looped around one of the overgrown skeletons. Singing to the vines in Druidic, she approached carefully, unhooking the satchel so that SCOMETT could mage hand it out before gingerly stepping back and bidding the transfixed vines farewell. Within the satchel, the party found # (can't remember)
Floor Tile Puzzle & Slave Pits of the Undercity. The party discovered ruined tenement housing that once held Omuan poor. Within were colored mosaic floor tiles with cuneiform letters arranged in a strange pattern: The Tomb is Gone Neared End / Evil Breath Whenever Guilt / A Foul Eye Inherits Thy Tumor. It seemed like the floor tiles could be lifted out and rearranged. RANDOLF quickly recognized it as an anagram puzzle, and set to work taking an etching. Puzzling over his etching of this anagram would occupy RANDOLF's downtime moments as they explored the ruined city. Tattered carpets and faded wall carvings depicted the patchwork god Meriadar that YARGLE worshipped. Finding a pit descending into a lower level, KOKO transformed into a lizard and entered what turned out to be old slave fighting pits. It seemed like the slaves who died were entombed within the walls of the pits themselves, but these crypts had been exhumed and there were no corpses remaining. Dozens upon dozens of Old Omuan names were written by the empty crypts, though KOKO discovered some warning messages designed to appear as cuneiform names:
- "Something is behind the obelisk"
- "Magnetite serves to test the worthy"
- "Trust not wizards bearing gifts"
KOKO found a ramp exiting the slave pits of the undercity, but soon returned to the party.
Gargoyle Attack. SCOMETT, pathfinding ahead along the base of the cliff, noticed a quintet of gargoyles behaving ominously on the cliffs 120 feet above, one of them holding a net. Despite SCOMETT's warning that "Asscrack" shouldn't mess with them, the gargoyles swooped down to attack, focusing on the injured RANDOLF. The fighting was over as soon as it started, however, with the party and the "Duke of Chomp" laying waste to the gargoyles, leaving shattered steaming stones littering the ruins around the party.
Scomett's Vision by the Waterfall. KOKO cast water walk upon the party so they could cross the deep waters at the base of the waterfall. As they crossed, SCOMETT received a vision… A city of magnificent, whitewashed buildings stood around him, sunlight sparkling off of glass domes and windows. Omu in its former glory. However, black smoke coiled from fires across the city, corpses floated in the river, and wraiths circled the rooftops like vultures. A sphere of utter darkness descended into the heart of the city, blotting out the light as it grew and grew.
Underwater Shrine of Ubtao & Even More Discoveries. Trailing along the base of the cliffs, the party found a sunken shrine to Ubtao. SCOMETT and KOKO dove underwater, discovering a flooded maze, but opted not to explore further and returned to the party who'd discovered a small wooden cache of supplies: jars of leeches in brine, a potion of healing, and a glass jar containing a gray ooze.
Nang'nang's Shrine (with Red Wizards' enchantment). The party came to a shrine shaped like a crenallated arrowhead rising from the muck. Obelisks engraved with cavorting grung framed the entryway and grung song echoed from around the shrine…
"Be a grung. Give giant snakes indigestion… Be a grung. Poison your companions when you try to heal them… Be a grung. Advance through cruel bureaucratic process… Be a grung. Mysterious as the dark side of the lake!"
Walking across the water, KOKO greeted the numerous green and orange grung who assumed an aggressive "water scorpion" stance, but soon were put at ease when the boisterous golden grung Chief Yorb told his forces to stand down. After exchanging words with KOKO about the current state of politics in Dungrunglung and her recent ascension to queen-hood, Chief Yorb cautiously welcomed the group. Unlike dead King Groak (who'd been content to summon the goddess Nangnang to come to him), Chief Yorb set forth on a quest to find the dwelling place of Nangnang and learn her mysteries. As Chief Yorb had the shrine doors opened, he often berated a young male red grung named Kro'can'otep who served as his meek advisor and shaman. Kro'can'otep seemed unusually on edge as the party entered with their escort.
Torches shed light over rooms filled of treasure: chests heaped with coins, polished amphorae, strings of pearls, and ornate pieces of armor. Set into the floor in front of another set of double doors was a mosaic depicting a grung beating a kamadan (a leopard with snakes emerging from its shoulders): A brave kamadan saw the evil in the Omuans' hearts and decided to lance it like a troublesome boil. The kamadan fashioned a holy spear, but she left it by the riverbank and a crafty gruog stole it. In her rage, Shagambi the kamadan forgot all about the Omuans and chased Nangnang the grung forever across the sky. A cuneiform Old Omuan inscription read: "Nangnang teaches us to serve only ourselves."
The inner set of double doors had another Old Omuan inscription above them: "Whoever among you is the richest, bring me your gifts."
Chief Yorb explained how he'd ordered countless treasures brought for Nangnang by the bucket loads, but the doors – which lacked hinges, keyhole, and handle – refused to budge. When SCOMETT peered through the green chrysoprase dice, all the treasure appeared worthless. However, there were a few exceptions: Some of the small imperfect pearls were genuinely valuable (250 gp worth). An urn of sweet oil was genuinely valuable and rare – and KOKO soon learned that it was a gift from the Red Wizards in exchange for the grung not interfering with the Red Wizards. And a geometric dwarven ink roller with a fine cursive note attached: "This is the fate of the uncivilized. You need not share their fate. When you're ready to negotiate, we're willing to forgive Dyrax's murder. –The Red Wizards P.S. Don't bother with Unkh's shrine." When RANDOLF applied ink to the roller and rolled it across a sheet of paper, he found a hidden message lamenting vast amounts of diamond dust used in creating the Tomb of the Nine Gods that depleted Chult’s diamond mines. RANDOLF conjectured this was a bad sign, as that much diamond dust could fuel potent magic.
As SCOMETT cast detect magic, illusion magic covered the treasures, divination was upon the inner doors, and strangely Chief Yorb and two of his orange warriors emitted enchantment magic. After several private conversations in languages unknown to Chief Yorb, the party pieced together that the Red Wizards cast some form of enchantment spell on Chief Yorb and several of his warband. KOKO used a scroll of identify, claiming it would help access the innermost part of the shrine, cleverly convincing Chief Yorb to speak the words along with her, touching his back all the while. Chief Yorb and eleven of his followers were enchanted by mass suggestion, though the red grung Kro'can'otep was not affected. Getting the full story from Kro'can'otep, KOKO explained what was happening and RANDOLF managed to successfully dispel the enchantment upon Chief Yorb.
Into the Fane. Traveling to the northeastern entrance into the circular ruined palace, the party found five humanoids in purple and green hooded cloaks led by a pair of snake-headed men – one a bare-chested warrior, the other dressed in ornate white, gold, and blood red robes. Introducing himself as Nazegeth, the robed yuan-ti explained that Ras Nsi was given information by Salida that changed his views of the adventurers, and he wished an audience with them.
Agreeing to enter the Fane of the Night Serpent blindfolded and without their animal companions, the party was emphatic they'd remain armed. Nazegeth agreed to their terms, directing the cloaked yuan-ti to secure thick black blindfolds around KOKO, RANDOLF, SCOMETT, and YARGLE. Sir Stampington was left secured to the "Duke of Chomp's" ankle. Maka perched on the back of Mau'o. Warning the party that not all the yuan-ti agreed with Ras Nsi's decision to parlay with them, he advised them to pull the hoods on their cloaks up. Anyone in the party who lacked a cloak was given one. Guided through the ruins blindfolded, the party headed right and then walked in a leftward spiraling direction about 1,000 feet (10 minutes), with the flooded river to their right. Hissing echoed throughout the ruins.
Along the way, Nazegeth heaped praises upon "Lord" Nsi. SCOMETT incredulously asked why Nazegeth so admired Ras Nsi. Nazegeth replied that Ras Nsi's handling of the Eshowe (who Ras Nsi committed genocide against long ago) showed true leadership, pragmatically claiming it was best to take an enemy as slaves, but where that was not possible annihilating them assured they and their children would no longer be a threat.
The serpent-headed Nazegeth explained it was fortunate the party was not found by Fenthaza, a nightmare speaker of Dendar with mastery over dreaming and nightmare magic. Fenthaza held Ras Nsi in contempt and she sent forays into Omu to capture slaves led by her "left hand", a warrioress named Anáferti.
KOKO idly inquired about Soakosh, a yuan-ti the party previously met (see Session #14) and who perished in the Nsi Wastes (see Session #21), and Nazegeth explained that Soakosh was Anáferti's lover and a follower of Fenthaza.
KOKO inquired why Fenthaza was so opposed to Ras Nsi, and Nazegeth whispered that Ras Nsi was suffering a strange illness which Fenthaza believe betrayed Ras Nsi's clinging to his humanity. KOKO shrewdly asked how long ago this ailment afflicted Ras Nsi, and Nazegeth answered about 2 and a half months – roughly when the Death Curse began. KOKO asked whether Ras Nsi had ever been raised from the dead, and Nazegeth answered he didn't know, but that Ras Nsi was once the most powerful necromancer in Chult. Leaning into the rest of her blindfolded party, KOKO whispered there might be a shared goal between them and Ras Nsi.
Descending a ramp, the blindfolded party heard the grinding of stone sliding against stone, as they were led into the Fane of the Night Serpent…
Last Session, Time Tracking: 150 minutes (2 hours 30 minutes) = 60 minutes (trading & arcane eye) + 2 * 2.5 minutes (three hexes, normal travel) + 10 minutes (Kubazan's Shrine, ritual identify) + 5 minutes (House of Vines) + 2 * 2.5 minutes (two hexes, normal travel) + 30 minutes (Yellow Banner camp & Finde's Potions) + 5 minutes (Red Wizard and I'jin's Shrine) + 30 minutes so far (Obelisk Puzzle, x3 water breathing rituals)
This Session, Time Tracking: 165 minutes (2 hrs 45 minutes) 10 more minutes (Obelisk Puzzle, identify ritual) + 2.5 minutes (charm from shadow elves & return to pack dinosaurs) + 1 hour (short rest) + 2.5 minutes (one hex, normal travel) + 2.5 minutes (Ruined Bazaar with kobolds) + 2.5 minutes (one hex, normal travel) + 10 minutes (Wongo's Shrine, symbol of insanity) + 5 minutes (Greenhouse) + 2.5 minutes (one hex, normal travel) + 10 minutes (Slave Pits of the Undercity) + 2.5 minutes (one hex, normal travel, gargoyle fight) + 2.5 minutes (one hex, normal travel) + 2.5 minutes (water walking waterfall one hex, normal travel) + 5 minutes (underwater shrine of Ubtao) + 30 minutes (Nangnang's Shrine) + 5 minutes (meeting with Nazegeth of the yuan-ti) + 10 minutes (led through the ruined palace down into the Fane)
Time 1:15 pm