36 days to go, continued
In the twilight, we headed for the ruined palace, our enemy archer now a member of our ranks as my enthralled skeleton. Just outside the circular wall we hid Theeka’s body in a high up place, covering her with loose bricks. Using the spell Pass without Trace, we slipped past a number of yuan-ti guards and got into the secret tunnel.
Just by the lake at the end of the tunnel, there were some strange mutated yuan-ti. We managed to surprise them and kill them before they could sound the alarm. I used their bodies as zombies to protect us through the rest of the palace. We went straight to the slave chambers from there, and surprised more of the strange mutants, resuing the slaves there.
Hugo was amongst them. They were all fairly drug-addled. There were two young boys, Khoti and Tavo, a woman called Oloma Authdamar who survived the wreck of the Star Goddess, and a goblin called Mung. They were determined to come with us, but we made sure to keep them towards the back. They explained what the strange mutants were: they were ex-human slaves who had been converted into yuan-ti abominations call broodguards. The drums pounding from the religious ceremony were growing louder, so I said we had to leave, but the other slaves begged us to try and save the old and infirm ones who had been taken to the ceremony. Hugo said he had a friend that could help, so we set off deeper into the complex.
We bashed through the storeroom door adjacent and were sneaking through when a giant python slipped down and began squeezing Mung. Just as we readied to attack, it spoke to us. His name was Azi Mas, and he had been awakened by a druid a long time ago. He was intelligent enough to realise he only had the one hostage as a bargaining chip and that we would kill him if him killed Mung, so we stood at a stalemate and just talked for a while. I tried to figure out a way to get him to release Mung and let us go. He told us he was bored and wanted a bride. I said his chances would be much better if he came with us and looked for a druid or bard who knew the right magic. But we weren’t convincing enough. He started to leave with Mung in his tight embrace, but Hugo managed to use the power of the chwingas to charm him. He left without Mung, going to seek his bride. We all breathed a heavy sigh of relief. In the storeroom we managed to gather many supplies, and found a case of some gross incense which we figured might make a good smoke bomb at some future point.
We headed to the broad promenade on which I first saw Hugo in ethereal form. Down that way were more broodguards, two basilisks, and Hugo’s friend, Spike, a massive lizard mount. We striked with the element of surprise, and cut down the mutants quickly. A basilisk nearly turned Flask to stone, but our chwinga who had been helping us this whole time revealed itself and did something that somehow saved Flask from the horrible fate.
Hugo freed Spike, and we moved on to secure the gates before going to the main cathedral, so that our escape route would be clear. We fought more broodguards here, and then since we were not all in a good way, I got Flask and Copper Bell to try some of the mysterious fruits from the magic bean tree. Copper ate an awful amount, and then Flask ate a few and managed to choose a poison one! He fell unconscious a number of times while we tried to get the poison out of his body. We managed, but he was not happy afterwards.
Copper Bell meanwhile was lucky enough to become invisible and start flying! With this amazing power, she went off and scouted the main hall. When she came back, the news was not good. There were more than thirty yuan-ti – not broodguard, but proper, full-power yuan-ti – and even with our dinosaur and smoke bombs, she was sure it was a suicide mission.
I had to make the call. We fled out the main entrance and fought some yuan-ti guards. We were all momentarily distracted by a flurry of lightning on the opposite city of the city. ‘The Red Wizards!’ Orvex exclaimed. Once the guards were dispatched, with River’s Pass without Trace spell we managed to get back to Theeka’s body without incident. Hugo cast Gentle Repose. Her body will not rot now, so long as he keeps the spell up every ten days. I don’t know how much it will help, but we can only try.
Now to hit those three shrines we saw on the way here! I wonder what those yuan-ti will think happened, with no witnesses left…