60 Days to go, continued
As we went up the stairs we could smell something like ham and baking bread. It had no connection to what we actually found: a gang of mercs, a man and a lizardman tied up against a massive sarcophagus, and the dead body of a naga – presumably the oracle of Orolunga we had come all this way to find.
The leader of the mercs started talking some generic bad guy stuff. I wasn’t in the mood to listen, until he thanked Flask for leading them here. Turns out, Flask ratted us out to the Zhentarim before we leave Port Nyanzaru. They said they’d pay us to leave, but I stood my ground, so they went to attack us. But suddenly a huge spike of ice surrounded the sarcophagus and then shattered, and from within came an abysmal growl.
We used the opportunity to attack while they were distracted. We dropped our spells as quickly as we could to take down their mage before he got a turn, and focussed on getting them all down as soon as possible. Thankfully they were already hurt from the fight with the naga and these two tied up guys. Flask got conked on the head by Hugo, saw how badly the fight was going for his gang, and hid. While we took the gang out, the two guys tied up got free and found their weapons. Meanwhile, the demon within the sarcophagus rose up, screeching, and used illusions to turn the room into a swamp. Oxomoco and Cipactonal pushed the gang members towards the demon as they fought, trying to create a barrier.
We managed to get all the gang members down but one, but then the demon leaned forward and bit his head off. The man who had been tied up yelled that the demon was not a god, and it could die, so we all attacked. It was down without too much effort, and only Oxomoco fell, but Hugo was able to revive her.
Before the new pair started talking, I went to River and told her to go find her brother and sort out whatever she needed to between them. I told her he could come back, if he was sorry and if he was ready to do our mission and not screw us over for the Zhents again. While she went off, the man introduced himself. His name is Artus Cimber, and his friend, who only speaks through smells, was a Saurian called Dragonbait. I told Artus why we were here, and he was amazed. He had only come to ask the oracle how to get his wife back. She had been in Mezro, the so-called city of illusion, which vanished in the spell plague a hundred years ago (yes, he is over a hundred, but I could tell he was a pretty experienced adventurer with some serious magical gear). The oracle told him the fate of the world relied on him going to the city of Omu. He found that weird, but before he could ask for more, the Zhents attacked.
Since it’s the last thing the oracle ever said, I guess we have no choice but to go with Artus and Dragonbait. It seems like the fate of the world the oracle spoke of could be our quest. Artus is fairly sure the city is between the Valley of Lost Honour and the Peaks of Flame, far to the south, and that it is the city of the snakemen and his enemy Ras Nsi, a yuanti warlord. They fought over a century ago, and Artus thought he was dead. He was the reason so many undead were still to be found in the jungle of Chult. In order to find Omu, we’d need to be high up, so I suggested we see if we could find the ruins of a skyship we’d seen from Mezro, halfway between here and where Omu had to be.
River and Flask came back and said they’d help us, but Oxomoco and Cipactonal said their journey with us was over. I could see them eyeing up the huge piles of treasure the demon had around its sarcophagus, but since we have no way of taking that stuff, we might as well let them enjoy it. So we’re leaving this gods forsaken ziggurat finally, and I can’t say I’ll miss those two ancients much, especially compared to my new party members.
(Out of Character note: All the ice effect stuff is Artus’s Ring of Winter which he keeps secret from the characters, so I know about it but Priscilla doesn’t. He was the reason that tree in the jungle was frozen, back in Part 2)