Tomb of Annihilation

#44. Nightmares on the Storm

Day 62 (83rd Day of the Death Curse). Death to the Lizard King. As the rest of the party made a tactical withdrawal from the demoralized Akabkan war camp, KOKO transformed into a giant eagle enchanted with haste by RANDOLF, and SCOMETT swung up to cluch her neck feathers. SCOMETT cast invisibility on KOKO and then imbibed a potion of invisibility himself. Taking off into the night, mists and rains parted around the invisible duo, the only hint of their presence the streamers at the tips of KOKO's wings and rustling of her primary feathers. SCOMETT could hear the warning screech of the quetzalcoatlus ahead as they came up fast on the fleeing Lizard King, just above the 160-foot canopy. Two watchtowers came out of the heavy mists, a few of the nervous blowgunners getting lucky hits on the giant eagle's underbelly, but KOKO pressed on undeterred. As they came up behind the Lizard King, he abruptly teleported off the quetzalcoatlus back, attempting to grapple SCOMETT at high speeds and in mid-air. SCOMETT sinuously shook off the Lizard King who then fell into the canopy, casting out his cloak to slow his fall. Eyes narrowed, SCOMETT rode KOKO down through a narrow gap in the canopy, leaping off at the last moment to tackle the Lizard King and slit his throat. As the lifeblood ebbed from the tyrannical Lizard King, one of his claws on SCOMETT's chest in feeble attempt to ward off death, SCOMETT beheld a burned hand mark on the Lizard King's shoulder identical to his own. The sign of Acererak the Devourer. Mounting back up on giant eagle KOKO, who clutched the dead Lizard King in her claws, SCOMETT took off to return to the party.

Day 63 (84th Day of the Death Curse). Triumphant. The party trekked fast overland back to the Cave of the Six-Eyed Lizard, returning in the dead of night, where they were greeted as conquering heroes. Gathering around a campfire to tend their wounds and relish their triumphant victory – Baggy Nanna and the Lizard King were dead, and the Akabkan war camp was in disarray – the party looked over the treasure they'd taken off their foes, RANDOLF identifying the items: Baggy Nanna carried a heartstone, a soul bag, and a demonic amulet. On the Lizard King they found a javelin called Scalesplitter, a cloak of the lizardfolk, and a gem with a bound balor spirit. The Hooting Skull goblins celebrated the defeat of their nemesis with reckless abandon, indulging in excessive amounts of goldfish liquor.

SCOMETT was busy with various orgies and celebratory feasts. "Scomett is a sex god" was heard in rasping Draconic voices on more than one occasion. Songs would be sung of the many hatchlings he sired that night. Despite being in great demand, SCOMETT managed to make time to craft a gem-encrusted bowl from the Lizard King's skull (a material component for KOKO's heroes' feast).

KOKO spoke with the balor's spirit bound to the gem named Tarnhem, who was quite opaque about wanting to bring terror and suffering to the Material Plane. The party discovered that Tarnhem was Acererak's father, seemed to have violated his mother who was the servant of a powerful diviner, and (most critically) used to tease his son with the name "Ass-crack."

KOKO and RANDOLF also sampled some of the knowledge worms they found in the ziggurat of Kuluth-Mar. KOKO consumed the worm whose bottle was marked "Omu", and as she fought back the madness that threatened to overtake her, she was imbued with someone else' experiences and memories, learning Omu's location and ancient history, and gained proficiency in the Old Omuan language (which she already had). RANDOLF consumed the worm whose bottle was marked "Sewn Sisters", learning that Kyuss the Forsaken One (while still a living being) tracked back the nightmares of some of his followers to a night hag coven called the Sewn Sisters – Widow Groat, Peggy Deadbells, and Baggy Nanna. Kyuss met with the Sewn Sisters in the Gray Waste, and they gave him a riddling prophecy: “When the black star rises over Chult, you are found. When death blankets the land, you are lost. When nine gods are laid to rest, you are bound. When the Ringbearer comes, your freedom lies in frost.”

Salida, who the party rescued, shared that she was a sorceress and experienced guide who'd led two expeditions to Omu before and was slightly familiar with the ruined city. She explained that she was leading a party to the Chultengar in search of a legendary item called the Wormcrown, when the Akabkan lizardfolk took her captive. She also warned that Omu was hidden by a powerful magic spell that made the city invisible to outsiders unless a creature carried magical translucent green chrysoprase polyhedrons that were given to Omuan nobility and priesthood.

The Haunting Begins. Armed with this knowledge, the party bedded down to rest. YARGLE animated the Lizard King's beheaded body as a zombie, affixed a lantern to its head, and sent it to patrol the basking stone outside the cave. His gigantosaurus zombie also lurked outside the cave at the lake's edge. RANDOLF cast alarm and Mordenkainen's private sanctum around the party's sleeping quarters. However, despite these precautions, RANDOLF had awful nightmares of a thumping leg and cackling in the mists; he did not rest well and was weakened in the morning.

Day 64 (85th) Day of the Death Curse). Great Feast of Etiriss & Expedition Preparations. The following day, while the party looked over their maps, charted their course, and planned to defend themselves against the wrath of the Sewn Sisters, SCOMETT was immersed in affairs of the Zopchik tribe. He flayed the Lizard King's skin to add to the cloak of the lizardfolk and participated in the "great feast" for the dead Herb Speaker Etiriss. After this ritual cannibalism, he gained enhanced healing and other powers. Entrusting gecko-fied Semuanya to the priest Ichax, SCOMETT and him butted heads over ideology, but Ichax ultimately swore to keep the sacred gecko safe.

The Hooting Skull goblins lay strewn about in drunken stupors from last night's revelries.

The party planned for YARGLE to perform multiple castings (4+1d4=5) of protection from evil throughout the night if RANDOLF's magical defenses did not protect against the night hags. This is precisely what came to pass, as neither the effects of SCOMETT's amulet of nondetection, the anti-divination aura of Artus' Ring of Winter, nor RANDOLF's sundry magical defenses offered any protection. 

Day 64 (85th) Day of the Death Curse). Wind Walking. Bidding farewell to their lizardfolk allies and the Hooting Skulls, the party – along with the deinonychus Maka, the ankylosaurus Sir Stampington, Gowl, Artus Cimber, Salida, and the controlled gigantosaurus zombie – gathered around KOKO who enacted the wind walk spell. Lifted up above the jungles, the party rushed across the Valley of Dread, over Kuluth-Mar and the Chultengar, over herds of brontosaurs, past the wyvern spires, and landed at an old camp, just northeast of the Peaks of Flame. To the south, a storm was brewing. KOKO confirmed there were no major threats nearby with commune with nature and spun webs in giant spider form, while the party created berms, and RANDOLF enacted a tiny hut and Mordenkainen's private sanctum.

More Haunting. This time, however, KOKO was haunted at night, suffering a nightmare of Widow Groat – the night hag with coins over her eyes and ants crawling from the side of her head (see Session #21) – surgically removing something from KOKO's side, inserting a worm instead, and then sewing her back up.

Day 65 (86th) Day of the Death Curse). Ride the Storm. The storm winds were whipping up from the south. Concerned about the nightmarish onslaught of the Sewn Sisters, the party gathered in the morning and made a radical decision. While using the fractal crystal ball, RANDOLF had scried upon Widow Groat, seeing a bizarre vision of Widow Groat, Peggy Deadbells (who appeared as a peg-legged hag who emitted sickly green gas when she laughed), and a ghoulish Xandala gathered around a cauldron in a treehouse in the branches of a dying banyan tree, as if performing a ritual. The hags cackled that "Someone watches, sisters! Tis nothing, for the Devourer's magics will show them what we want them to see, nothing more." The party recognized this tree as the banyan that SCOMETT conjured in the Nsi Wastes using a magical tyrannosaurus tooth (see Session #20). They made a radical decision: They would kill the remaining Sewn Sisters tonight, before a third member could be initiated and the coven restored. Casting wind walk, KOKO risked "riding the storm" with RANDOLF contributing his extensive knowledge of natural phenomenon, cartography, and magic to helping minimize the dangers. Though the journey was tumultuous and exhausting, they only landed some 40 miles off course due east of the tree in the Nsi Wastes, on a beach overlooking Refuge Bay.

Even More Haunting. Settling in for the night to prepare, RANDOLF was once again nightmare haunted, though this time after the peg-legged thumping approached, he felt himself paralyzed and something opened his skull to extract his arcane secrets before sewing his scalp back up.

Day 66 (87th Day of the Death Curse). The Night Hags' Trap. By morning the storm was subsiding, heavy rains descending from grey clouds and booms of thunder out in Refuge Bay. YARGLE was still recovering from exhaustion and RANDOLF was looking haggard. Preparing themselves for a fight, the party honed their weapons and studied/prayed for spells before KOKO cast transport via plants, the party vanishing into a nearby banyan to emerge from the treehouse banyan in the horrid muck of the Nsi Wastes. KOKO called lightning, empowered by the stormy conditions, blowing open a hole in the roof of the treehouse. YARGLE steered the gigantosaurus zombie through a wall, zombies spewing forth from its mouth. Within was a cauldron bubbling with green vapors, multiple magical lanterns glowing amber and purple, and three beings gathered around – Widow Groat, Peggy Deadbells, and a ghoulish Xandala. YARGLE leaping in to smite his wife Widow Groat. Strangely, Widow Groat dissolved into poisonous vapors sprinkled with spores and vanished, whereupon YARGLE turned his spear upon the ghoulish Xandala, who was struck down as she uttered: "Sister, the cauldron must be protected!" Again, the ghoulish Xandala dissolved into poisonous vapors and vanished. SCOMETT followed behind YARGLE, climbing up the gigantosaurus to launch attacks at the cauldron's legs. As soon as the cauldron tipped, a glyph of warding released a blast of thunder, destroying the zombies, destroying Peggy Deadbells who dissolved into poisonous vapors, blowing out the walls of the treehouse, dropping YARGLE 40 feet, and causing the treehouse and banyan to collapse upon him, burying him under 5 feet of debris. Streams of amber and purple flames erupted from the lanterns, cascading outwards as if following a gasoline trail, wracking the party on the ground with fire and necrotic energy. Gowl was drained of life by the purple necrotic flames, collapsing dead. With Artus, Salida, and SCOMETT digging, and RANDOLF casting Otiluke's resilient sphere, the party was able to haul the suffocating YARGLE out in time. KOKO's locate creature confirmed there were no night hags within 1,000 feet. RANDOLF recognized the spore-filled poison gas as coming from a gas spore – a type of fungal creature that usually resembled a beholder to the untrained eye. It had all been a trap.

Defense Against the Dark Arts. Flying just outside of the Nsi Wastes with the Dance of the Seven Winds, the wounded party settled in for a long rest and burial of Gowl. Wracking his brain, RANDOLF realized a magic circle against fiends might protect them from the Sewn Sisters' nightmare haunting. YARGLE was able to make enough holy water to cast multiple magic circles to protect the party through the night. For the first time in days, they were able to rest peacefully.

Day 67 (88th Day of the Death Curse). Arriving at the Forbidden City. After wind walking across 200 miles of undead-infested jungles, the party arrived where Omu the Forbidden City should be located. However, while they found outlying ruins of Omuan craftsmanship there was no sign of a city. Fortunately, their old ally Salleek along with 3 fellow aarakocra archers descended from the trees, praising KOKO's wisdom in removing the Hand of Vecna. He explained he'd come to meet the party, either to aid them or force KOKO's hand to severe the evil artifact. Salleek bestowed them with the Blessing of Aerdrie Faenya (Inspiration) and gave them a set of magical chrysoprase dice so the party could see the city. Omu was sunk in a steaming 150' deep basin, with a flooded river flowing through it from north to south, before plummeting off cliffs into lava, causing hissing steam and vapors to rise over the city. There were two signs of habitation: to the southwest was a long stair down into the city and a small camp amid ruined buildings, while to the east in the ruined circular palace were multiple small campfires. Intermittent bursts of magical light flickered along the river and near the northwestern amphitheater.

Seeing that Salleek's wing was broken from a fight with gargoyles, YARGLE lay his hands to heal the aarakocra. Salleek then shared the following information:

Gargoyles (their faces looking like the screaming devil face) are spaced every 100 feet on the cliffs and attack aarakocra, flying creatures, and creatures climbing the cliffs. Other creatures he'd spotted in Omu from afar include grungs, Red Wizards, tabaxi, vegepygmies, yuan-ti, zombie Batiri, and a feathered tyrannosaur.

He also reported that in his quest to learn how to safely remove the Hand, he received a vision which revealed that the Eye of Vecna was somewhere in Omu, warning the party to maintain their moral compass and not give into Vecna's temptations, or else Salleek would be forced to take action. He did not relish the thought of facing his mighty former companions in combat.

Camping for the night, RANDOLF cast 8 rope tricks for the party to rest within, the extradimensional space providing an effective countermeasure to the Sewn Sisters' haunting.

Special Rule: Inspiration for Clues. You can spend Inspiration to gain a clue on a puzzle, either asking the DM a specific question or just getting general help.
If you also cast sending to contact Drake (or use the scroll of sending to contact him) – in addition to spending Inspiration – Drake can work out the answer to a puzzle that you're particularly stumped on, and communicate that to you in 25 words or less.


Day 68 (89th Day of the Death Curse). Entering Omu. Waking relatively rested, the party enjoyed a sumptuous heroes' feast prepared by KOKO using the lizard king skull-bowl crafted by SCOMETT. They were rested and full of vigor as they descended the stairs into Omu. They found a gated guardhouse, with the gate long since broken, and graffiti etched into the soft stone in Common:

  • "Fear the fangs of Ras Nsi!"
  • "The vorpal blade of Omu is out there."
  • "The puzzle cubes are the key."
  • "Beware the frog monster!"
  • "Who is Unkh?"
  • "All hail the King of Feathers!"
  • "The snakes are not what they seem."
  • "Kubazan =bravery. Shagambi = wisdom. Moa = ?"

Adventurer's Base Camp. Gargoyles looked down from above, seeming to subtly shift position of their heads from the corner of your eye. Entering a base camp used by past adventurers, the party found more graffiti listing names of those who'd braved Omu in the past:

  • "Force Grey: Arkhan the Cruel, Calliope, Clarapin, Hitch, Jamilah, Tyril Tallguy"
  • "Company of the Yellow Banner: Lord Brixton, Bravus Boulderborn, Devlin Bashir, Sephirius, Seward, Biff Longsteel"
  • "(the names of all your backup PCs"

KOKO made a point of adding her name and full queenly title to the graffit-covered rocks.

While it seemed like there was bedding for more people, the base camp was currently occupied by two tabaxi merchants/scavengers (Hooded Lantern and Copper Bell) and their old companion E'kama!

Greeting his old companions KOKO and SCOMETT was bittersweet for E'kama, who'd suffered being cursed, nightmare haunted, life drained by a wraith, and driven mad since they'd last seen each other. Exchanging introductions with RANDOLF, he introduced himself as E'kama of the Natombe tribe who'd come to Omu seeking to reclaim his family's old lands from undead. However, he was no longer in any condition to adventure, so he guarded the base camp for other adventurers. E'kama gave the party a scroll of sending from their old companion Drake, as well as a strange cube bearing the image of a displacer beast or kamadan (jaguar with snake heads), sharing the following information:

1) Cubes – like this one I took from the shrine of Shagambi – somehow open the Tomb. They’re in shrines to the Nine Trickster Gods scattered throughout the city. Besides this one, others have already raided the shrines of Obo'laka the Zorbo and Papazotl the Eblis. Red Wizards are in Omu and know the Tomb's location.

Shagambi was regarded by the Omuans as a paragon of valor and patron of paladins. The Shrine of Shagambi was an ordeal, but thankfully I had Dragonbait with me, at least before the yuan-ti captured him. Old Omuan was inscribed “Shagambi teaches us to fight evil with honor.” It was trapped with purple gas that was not resisted by holding our breath. We fought 4 animated terracotta warriors. Reaching the cube required taking the 4 bronze spears from the terracotta warriors and placing them in the hands of jaguar-masked statues to open a hatch on a stone pedestal. 

I’ve found the nine shrines of the Trickster Gods, and can point them out on your map, but I don’t know where the Tomb lies. Besides Shagambi’s Shrine, I know that Obo’laka’s Shrine in the east is empty, as is Papazotl’s Shrine to the north. I don't know who raided those shrines, but there are Red Wizards in Omu hunting for the cubes as well. It seems that the Red Wizards know the Tomb’s location.

2) A night hag with a peg leg hunts adventurers in Omu by night.

You’ll know her by the thumping of her peg leg, and if you hear her, run. You remember my brother-in-law Enoch Zefiri at the temple where we found the Zombie Killer? (see Session #13 & Session #14) He has fallen under her sway. She has others that do her bidding as well. I cast nondetection on myself nightly and never sleep in the same place twice, but even that doesn't always protect me.

3) The yuan-ti live mostly across the water where the palace is. They took Dragonbait captive and take other prisoners.

There's a lot of them. Most of them cavort with undead and engage in grisly rituals. The yuan-ti seem to know the Tomb’s location. Dragonbait was taken captive by the yuan-ti on Day 57 (Death Curse Day 78) after he and I teamed up to retrieve the cube of Shagambi.


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