The Serpents Skull

2 Weeks Later

(Initial apologies to everyone for rushing the end on game night, I missed some things in the process which I hope to remedy with this conclusion.)

With the whole gang present Sendan, the party rogue, moved through the next set of double doors.
He paused and looked around for possible traps.
He didn’t find one, but it instead found him as the room with the pool of blood in the middle of the room dropped two heavy metal walls over the doors. Sendan was quick though, and lept back out of the way.

Zoltar and Mad Harriette, with her magically strong hair, managed to lift the metal wall to get back to the room but were unable to keep it held as the cleric, Innovo, tried to hammer spikes into the trap wall to keep it lifted. After it dropped they could hear mechanical noises inside the room which was a warning of other issues beyond.
After that fall they tried again, lifting it half way this time and using Sendan’s keen eye for putting a stop to devices, to lock it in place.

Impatient with the party’s debate on how to approach the room next room the cleric, Innovo, went in and began carefully making his way through when heavy swinging pendulum axes dropped from the ceiling and managed swing by and cut the cleric who promptly dropped to the floor to crawl around. Long story short, some detect magic and official rogue snooping, the party managed to find the hidden buttons that stopped the traps in the room.

They spent some time playing with the bloody pool, only to ask the water memphit, Captain Ekubus, to see if he knew anything about the strange pool of blood.

The deranged Captain decided to ‘parley’ with the pool to ask it a question and as he leaned over the pool to listen for a reply, Mad Harriette thought it would be funny to use her hair to knock the little guy into the pool they had determined was only two feet deep (by prodding with a javelin).

He fell in with a squeal but didn’t return to the surface.
After a brief wait, Mad Harriette began to dig around in the pool with her hair. Zoltar jumped in and tried to search for Ekubus as well and they found that there was a small foot wide hole in the bottom of the pool with some suction in it. They then realized he had been sucked away. Mad Harriette tried to lower a rope with a rock into the hole and let it go as far as it could to maybe find the Captain but it was to no avail, he was gone. Zoltar was feeling strange from his dip in the pool and Innovo consecrated the blood, which made him feel better.

With no other choice than to move on the group found themselves in a large alter room where a lizard-humanoid ordered some skeletons with her to attack the group, declaring them unfit lesser races that were interrupting an important discovery. Innovo managed to make quick work of the skeletons and the barbarian Zoltar was dominated into protecting the lizard woman only to be put to sleep by Mad Harriette’s rare successful curses. The battle continued with her being pushed back further into the room…

    The lizard lady, her mirror images dissipated by a well-placed magic missile barrage from the Magus, Fafnir, was running out of tricks and used the rooms magical features to turn into a gaseous form to escape out a tube in the ceiling. After some debate, in which Innovo promptly started summoning water into a nearby dry fountain that started springing back to life, spewing water into the air, the group took up after her, using their blood on the statue to turn gaseous as well. One by one each of them followed into the small gas tunnel and ended up in another small X shaped room with a similar statue.

On the floor lay the lizard woman, dead. Her throat cut but a human female in rags that was holding a dagger. She was very glad to see the party materializing before her and explained how she was captured after her ship wrecked and tricked into thinking the lizard lady was her friend until she found out she was really there to be a meal for her.

Suspicious, Mad Harriette, and particularly Innovo, could see something was amiss with the human so Mad Harriet used her hair to pin the human captive against the wall for some intimidating questioning. The group had also noticed some strangely familiar clothes piled in the corner of the room, that of Iena, the woman who led the original ship’s captain astray to crash on this island that had them suspicious. After enough threats and intimidation, the human snapped, cutting Mad Harriette’s hair and lunging towards her with unexpected deftness. Instead of trying to stab Mad Harriette, the woman BIT her, but the pain and effects of the pain didn’t line up with what one could expect from a human and Mad Harriette found herself poised and weakening fast.

((OOC: Note, if not for Mad Harriette’s outrageous plan to use her own pet lizard’s poison to use as a type of anti-venom, and if she kept failing those saves, yes, she would have died and no amount of cleric healing would have fixed that.))

The battle commenced and the human woman soon lost her concentration on the illusory form she had and turned back into the lizard woman. The fake image of the dead lizard lady disappeared and the group realized all at once that the lizard woman was in fact Iena, a master of illusory arts and the reason for their being stranded on this island.

The battle continued some more and Iena, who was actually called Yarzoth, managed to touch the statue’s lips again to go gaseous and move to escape out another small air tunnel. A gaseous form was slow to move however, and the group had one last chance to stop her.
Sendan leapt up on the statue and tried to stuff the deer skin pelt into the hold but the gaseous Yarzoth started seeping up into it. Weapons were of no use on the gas, but Innovo soon found that magic was.

Using a spell that was contrary to his faith, Innovo used a ‘Cause Moderate Wounds’ spell, (And also using up the special ‘crit-mas’ card ability I gave the players in December), to swipe a magic filled hand through the air and into the gaseous form of Yarzoth.

The magic sealed Yarzoth’s fate as with a crunch, the last of her life force was depleted and her form turned back solid, with her head stuck in the hole in the ceiling, her body hanging out like from a hangmans noose. Zoltar hanked it free with a sickening ‘slurch’ sound. Yarzoth was defeated.

As the group caught its breath Innovo found a chalice stuck in the wall, it had been unearthed but stuck nonetheless. It had symbolism of his diety on it and he managed to yank it free but it had magical properties in it that caused a strange chain reaction within the cleric. Up until this point, Mad Harriette had caught glimpses of a red glint in Innovo’s eyes and felt something strange about the cleric. All that came to fruition now as unexplained energies painfully ripped Innovo into two beings magically before the party’s eyes. The Innovo clone had a dark, red, powerful glow about him and a presence that had everyone off guard.

The new being walked over to Innovo and somehow reached a translucent arm through Innovo’s own arm and yanked the magical gauntlet flail the cleric was so fond of off his hand. The weapon, now in the hands of a being that was in touch with other planes of existence, lit on fire as more of its power was brought to bear. This being, this alter ego, this dark side of Innovo, seemed very satisfied with it’s new toy.

Not one to stand by, Zoltar threw a battleaxe straight for the beings head with a great throw but IT caught the axe in midair and threw it back, where it promptly flew by the barbarian into the wall. The group had a better grasp of the trouble they were in at that moment, but had nowhere to run.

Innovo made a move and was promptly throat grabbed and pinned against a wall. Mad Harriette may or may not have done something to get its attention but felt the full slam of the magical flail that sent her into the -2 HP realm, sprawled on the floor. Fafnir, with a shocking grasp stored up in his sword for the ENTIRE battle, managed to score a hit on the being, which cause his muscles to spasm enough that Innovo was dropped to the ground.

“Enough of this, I have what I wanted.”, it said with a grin. It promptly summoned a dimension door, a black portal appeared beside it and it stepped through and was gone.
Unbeknownst to the group, it didn’t leave because of just that or because it had just got shocked, something else had caught it’s attention. Up in the ceiling of the room, a bloody Captain Ekubus had come crawling through the hold in the ceiling, sporting an angry scowl. The being, a creature that was born of an alternate plane and the essence of Innovo’s dark side, saw a blood demon entering the room and knew it would have been much more trouble that it was worth to deal with the creature and that the blood demon, a likely first of many to pour through that hole, would wipe out the weakling humanoids in the room anyway, so it left. It had the artifact weapon, Phoenix, after all, and it knew how to unlock its true potential.

Back in the room, Captain Ekubus had felt the strange other worldly presence that was the Innovo twin being, and promptly made the same move that it did, and crawled back up in the hole it came through to go back and take a dip in that nice pool of water in the next room. He was confused about having fallen into the pool of magic red water he was trying to talk to and after a long swim through a happy sucky tunnel, he was spewed out into another large cavernous area with no orientation to find his way around until he saw Innovo turn into a green fart and fly up into a hole in the ceiling, so he decided to investigate. The water outside was back to normal so he was satisfied Princess Mad Harriette had kept her bargain and he went about finding his way back to his sunken ship that he was the captain of and have a stern talking to with his first mate, Crabby, about the dangers of strangers in these dark times.

The group got out of the X shaped room by going gaseous again, filtering out the other small hole which led outside the temple dungeon shortly after the rogue managed to narrowly avoid being cursed by a magic ward on yet ANOTHER something he didn’t bother checking for traps on. (Spending 2 hero points in the process to avoid the horrible effects that tried to take hold on him.)
Outside, the group caught their breath again and before heading back to find the other survivors, waited patiently as Innovo, with a determined look, swam back underwater to the open gate they two merfolk that were guarding the entry way had left open and made his way all the way back to the alter room alone. He needed the time for self-reflection and to finish a job he had not completed but had already made his mind up to take care of. He consecrated the altar and watched as it crunched and broke under the holy spell, he kicked and bashed it into a pulp then and felt a weight lift off his shoulders. In fact , a weight had lifted off of the entire island then. The powerful magic altar had been poisoning the island with its dark magic (which he had felt earlier but was rushed out to go help his friends with the lizard lady). The curse on the island was lifted, all the undead that inhabited the island re-died in that very moment.
They spent the next couple of days making their way back north to reconnect with the rest of the survivors who were actually coming down the path to meet them with the other three merfolk from Kerlarns troop that were escorting them back.

They were saddened to find out the Ishirou had perished a few days prior, along with the druid, fending off a horde of monstrous giant lizards, but the rest had recovered and were thrilled to get news about the scouting party that had been gone for a week!

Mad Harriette and Sergeant Kelarn had a discussion off to the side then after which the Sergeant nodded to her solemnly, gave her a salute and took his surviving merfolk back into the water. She didn’t explain to the group what was said, at least not yet.

With everyone in tow, the group made their way back to the southwest side of the island, repaired the lighthouse and after a few days of running the new light, managed to cheer as a merchant ship ‘Red Gull’ anchored off shore and sent long boats up to rescue the group. Captain Euluk Tegerten of the Red Gull welcomed their stories and provided safe passage back to their original destination, Eleder where he suggested they take their recovered scrolls and wall rubbings to some sages for further research and felt they were on to something big.

It was a quick trip back to Eleder too, come to find out, the Serpents Skull island was a mere 50 miles off shore. Making land, the group agreed to take refuge at the Harbor Inn, and take a few days to recuperate , split the spoils from the island and decide on what was to be done with the vast amount of information they had gathered from Yarzoth’s writings.




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