Serpent's Skull

Showdown on the Shiv

Of curses and ancient legacies

Golarion date: 28 Arodus, 4710 AR

“So I see that fool Klorak and his savages failed me. No matter, my theories were true and I have found what I came here for…” The snake woman gestured to the alcoves in the ancient temple. Glancing in the alcoves the heroes could see the floor was scattered with scribbled notes on parchments, and the walls were filled with runes and pictograms.

“How did you survive the wreck of the Jenivere? You should have drowned with the others… Did you enjoy the final meal I prepared for you?” The snake woman hissed as she chuckled. “You think to stop me, but you are too late, and you smooth skins are no match for me. I, Yarzoth, shall twist your pathetic little minds into doing my bidding, and you will make a fitting sacrifice here in a temple built by the ancient enemy, the first of many.”

Zelshee had enough of talking and reached for an arrow as she approached the altar and a battle ensued. Yarzoth cast mirror image and blur on herself, as she sent her skeletons to slow down the heroes, she tried to dominate Teyla’s mind, but Teyla resisted. However Teyla did not resist the suggestion to leave the temple and ended up falling into one of the pits as the magic forced her to try and leave.

The skeletons fell easily enough, but Yarzoth proved tough. Backed into the corner of the altar area, she fought with her poisonous bite and spells. Somehow the heroes managed to resist the poison and wounded Yarzoth enough that she fled by wiping a bloody hand to the lips of the statue and turning to mist and flying up through a small hole in the ceiling. After much discussion the heroes rescued Teyla from the pit then eventually gathered the courage to wipe their own blood on the statue’s lips and turn to mist and follow Yarzoth.

In gaseous form they followed a tiny tube to another room, one with no other exits. Mastuuk arrived just in time to see Yarzoth stuffing the last of her belongings into a pack, then reached for a scroll and read it, turning into a smoky headless snake which was sucked through a pinhole portal behind her which disappeared with a popping sound. Mastuuk wasn’t sure what the spell was, though he surmised she had teleported somewhere with powerful divine magic from the scroll.

The small room had a bas relief carving of the demon lord Zura and other evil religious carvings on the wall. Just below the carving of Zura they found a hidden panel, which Juan opened after finding no traps. Juan set off an ancient curse on the hidden drawer which turned him into a twisted bat like parody of himself. Juan slumped against the wall in pain while the others watched in horror. Mastuuk examined the contents of the drawer, and found two scrolls, a playing card with a picture of a monstrous bird like creature on it, a black candle, and a block of incense. Gathering up the items in the drawer they smeared blood on the lips of the carving and turned back to mist and left the temple complex. They rested atop the bluff for a bit where Ludwig was waiting for them. Ludwig could not look them in the eyes, but he did stare in horror at Juan’s twisted form.

Returning to the lighthouse, they found two of the captive cannibals had rebelled and had to be killed. Sasha was hurt, but apparently Aerys had come to her rescue and with her bare fists beat back the attackers who Ishirou helped to put down. The other castaways asked what had happened, and the heroes told them everything that had happened.

Mastuuk went over Yarzoth’s notes recovered from the temple, and found them very difficult to decipher. He would need an extensive library and possibly the help of some other scholars to piece together what she was looking for, but he was able to gather some clues from the cryptic notes. There were references to an Azlanti city, a banished cult, and some mentions of the cult returning to the city to conquer their old foes. He figured the cult must have been the cult of Zura that built the Azlanti temple they had just found, but the details of the rest were impossible to fathom without aid.

The castaways turned their attention to fixing the lighthouse. They decided to go visit Pezock the crazed Tengu hermit to see if he wanted to leave with them. He was very excited and ran around in circles for a while, calling them “heroes!” and giving hugs all around as they told him all they had accomplished. When asked if he knew of any way to help Juan with his twisted curse, he said maybe the green lady on the hill that lived in the tree might be able to help. Pezock pointed out the way and they found a friendly dryad named Aycenia living in an area avoided by the cannibals. Aycenia asked about what had happened to the gray island that was a blight on her domain, and was very grateful when she found out they were the ones who had cleared the fungal blight. Aycenia told them much about the island they already knew, it seemed she had been here for at least a hundred years. They asked about the temple at Red Mountain and she said she new nothing of a temple, but she could tell that the foul presence she had always felt there still existed.

The group decided to return to the temple of Zura and try and destroy the altar. They explored the wreck of the Salty Strumpet and found a crazed water mephit who called himself Captain Ekubus who demanded to know what was the cause of this “Damnable low tide, for the third damned time!” They were able to verify from Ekubus that a snake woman had caused the first receding of the waters and entered the temple. Ekubus was not much more help, exploring the hold of the Strumpet they found it guarded by a very large sea urchin and left it be (including leaving the magic item they detected in the hold).

Entering the temple again, Drasheen cast a consecration spell on the altar which caused the blood to harden and the altar to crack, then she pumped positive energy into it until it split apart and gouts of blood burst forth with a rolling wave of powerful energy that staggered all of them as the whispers floating in the room escalated to screams and howls. Then the blood and the screams stopped, and the room went still and silent as the blood stream trickled to a halt.

Returning to the lighthouse they found that the energy wave had reached all the way to that part of the island and the other castaways told them how the energy wave caused all the ghosts in the surf to rise into the air simultaneously and dissipate into nothingness. It seemed they had lifted the ancient curse of Smuggler’s Shiv!

Finishing the light on the light house they were able to attract the attention of a passing ship, the Red Gull. Captain Tengerten exchanged signals with the island where Juan knew the appropriate pattern to signal distress. Tengerten anchored the Gull and approached with his longboat where he agreed to rescue the castaways who rewarded him with the large pearl taken from Klorak the Red. The castaways boarded the Red Gull, leaving the remaining cannibals behind and watched as the Shiv disappeared across the waves as they sailed for Eleder.

As they approached Eleder, Gelik Aberwhinge came to Zelshee with some concerns about Teyla’s box. Gelik admitted to having peeked into the box while they were away at the temple, and was shocked to find it filled with Feyleaf and Feyleaf berries. Feyleaf was an illegal drug whose leaves could be smoked, and whose berries were a hallucinogenic. He was concerned about getting caught with it in customs at the Eleder docks and that he would be implicated in it’s transport because he had watched the box for Teyla. Gelik hoped that the paladin of justice could help keep him in the clear. Zelshee was shocked and went to talk to the others as the city of Eleder appeared on the horizon.

The Journal of Mastuuk Venso

28 Arodus, 4710 AR

We have finally reached our quarry. She had taken on a decidedly different look and goes by the name Yarzoth. She had been hard at work translating more carvings but I was unable to understand much of what they said, more research will be required. I was able to determine that the Azlanti who built this temple and the underground caverns were worshipers of Zura who were banished from an ancient city. They intended to build their strength on the Shiv and eventually return to their former home to seek vengeance. Yarzoth alluded to this when she mentioned the ancient enemy who built this temple. Perhaps we would have extracted more information if my dear sister had not charged in to attack but then again, it may have all been lies.

Yarzoth proved a most difficult foe with some powerful magics both learned and from scrolls. Her blurred form was difficult enough if it hadn’t been for the mirror images. I raised my own and began attacking he with bolts to try and dismiss the images so my companions could strike her. I removed most of them myself but not before Teyla ran off, apparently somewhat weak minded. I brought an image of her back both to bolster my companions’ morale and to distract Yarzoth.

After the coward ran off, we followed her into a hidden room where she was preparing to leave in a hurry. We did scare her off before she could take all her toys so we ended up with a few new items and a deformed sailor. We later returned to destroy the horrible altar and release the souls trapped around the Shiv which makes me happy but not nearly as ecstatic as Zelshee.

That fool Ludwig did manage to do one more useful thing when he completed the signal light. A ship has found us and we’re negotiating travel off the Shiv. I’ve enjoyed the time off as it has allowed me to collect the information I found on the Azlanti ruins. I intend to have it sent to the Society once we reach a city which should be in a few days assuming we can convince the captain to take us with him.

This diversion has been dangerous but useful as I may now be one of the foremost authorities on the Azlanti Zura cult. I’ve got quite a bit of research to do in Eleder in order to put things in order but I plan on writing at least one volume on the subject. If the rest of the Expanse is half as fruitful as the Shiv, I’ll be quite famous!

Notes from Zelshee

We have lost her and I am to blame! I thought for sure her ramblings were a trap. I felt she wanted to perhaps be-friend us (again). She wanted us to let our guard down. And then she would deliver the killing blow. Thinking back now, I realize the treacherous fool wanted to tell us all her plans. Damn, I should have listened!! Maybe it might have helped in defeating her. Alas, no. She is gone. and I’m quite certain gone OFF the island! Escaped by her evil magic. If it takes the rest of my life, I will find her and I WILL destroy her!
Thank the gods for Drasheen! She was able to use the goodness from her god to forever destroy the evil altar in this dark place. The evil that has cursed this island for so long has been banished! My hope is that it will weaken Yarzoth.
We have all worked together for weeks – and it has finally paid off. We have been rescued! We are off that retched island!! The sting of losing Yarzoth has diminished slightly. We must make use of the notes Mastuuk gathered to find her again.
But first we must make it off the ship and onto dry land. We sail for Eleder. After what we just went through - this will be a cake walk! Right?

The Journal of Jocque Tarr

I finally have time to get my prior notes into this journal but I am having a hell of a time because my “hands” will not cooperate and I keep finding myself hanging around the galley trying to rid myself of this gnawing hunger. The cook has threatened to bury a meat cleaver in my head if I keep that up and I find myself mostly hiding away. I am a sailor and I know how sailors think. No matter what my companions have told them they still see me as an evil deamon or something that is sure to bring the ship to no good end. If I was one of them I would find a way to rid myself and my crew of this threat. So, I stay below decks at night and above decks in the daytime but hidden, as best I can, from their eyes.

My own mother wouldn’t recognize me. I finally got a glimpse of myself in the mirror they were using as part of the light and even I was horrified at what I saw. The cleric says I am cursed by some magic that was on that drawer I found in the temple. But cursed or not I am grateful to the dieties that I am off the Shiv!

I don’t know what is going to happen when we get to the city of Eleder. I know one thing. That box of drugs has to go to the bottom before we reach port and the others of our party have to be sworn to secrecy about it being sent there. They owe us their lives to some extent and we need them to agree that the box was lost when we were wrecked or that the last time they saw it was before we went on the rocks.

I hope to get to the keeper of ships’ registries in Eleder and give them the names of the ships and captains I have made up. The ones lost on the Shiv. And let them know somehow about the way the cleric Drasheen freed the souls trapped there. I don’t know if they will believe me but I just need to tell somebody. And I will turn over the log books I have and the notes we found from the Captain of the Thrune’s Fang – about what happened to him and his crew. I will not be able to turn over all of the pages. The ones detailing the smuggling ring activities in Eleder will need to be given to Teyla’s father or someone that might shield her father from what may come next.

I have to be really careful about whatever the clerics want from me to remove this curse. If it can be removed. I must stick with the name Jaun Sevette if I can and melt into the local scenery quickly in case the Mantis is still looking for me. I think I will keep a close eye on where Sasha goes and who she talks to but from a safe distance if I can.

I would never believe the story I have to tell about being invisible for a while, about being turned into a mist by a bloody snake’s mouth and then being twisted into whatever I have become. My best bet is to keep my mouth shut and my head down until I can get back to sea or away from the city. How does a simple street urchin wind up like this? One thing about it though, I have found that I can be terrified and still move if I have to and I have someone I need to kill if I ever get a chance…..Ieana or Yarzoth or whatever she is calling herself these days. If I can, my captain and my crewmates will be avenged.

The Journal of Drasheen Rettig

So much has happened in the last few weeks and yet all I can think about is what am I to do about Jask. After being trapped on this frightning Island with him I do not think of him as a criminal but a friend. One who has shared the much of same horrors as we all have this past month. When we get to Eleder and talk to my father I think I shall keep his arrival a secret til I have a talk with Dad. Then present the evidence and see what comes of it all.

As I look back never in any of my Clerical training did I think repeating the actions of such evil, like rubbing my own blood on my lips to purposely turn into vapor to follow such evil and then again to return to solid ground to escape is almost too much for me to take in. And yet its not the actionitself that is evil but the one preforming such deeds. When Zelshee pulled her bow, it wss on, but we all stood strong. As I pray tonight I know I will sleep well with fridends such as these at my side.

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