Serpent's Skull

Stirring up the Hornet's Nest

I told you this was a bad idea!

Over the next several days they spent most of the time in archaeological studies of the trade district. Mastuuk studied the spell books he had found, but was surprised when he set off a magical trap on them that resulted in a violent blast of ultra freezing cold. They went down into the cave in the sinkhole that had collapsed the northwest corner of the ziggurat and disturbed the rest of a giant Mwangi Night Bat that had roosted in the convenient large cave exposed by the collapse. The bat carried off Mastuuk to the top of the obelisk for a quick meal, but Mastuuk was able to teleport to safety. The bat returned for Joque, but Joque dove back into the pit for cover. When Teyla climbed out of the pit, it carried her off back to the top of the obelisk, but it was killed before it could eat her.

They decided to activate the obelisk using the ritual methods Mastuuk had discovered. They crushed some zircons and sprinkled them on the stone. As they did, the large rune engraved on the city facing side of the stone glowed brightly and a ring of magical energy started at the bottom of the obelisk with a humming sound and rose quickly to the top from where it spread like a gentle explosion out across the ruins. Each person in view felt something happen to them, but they were unsure what.

Mastuuk was able to learn a few things from the clues left in the ruins: The spear (obelisk) on top of the central ziggurat exerted a magical influence that improved people’s negotiation skills (plus 2 diplomacy). He also later discovered that when the spear was activated, it’s magical effect gave everyone significant increases in their ability to appraise valuables, including magic items (plus 6 appraise skill and plus 6 spellcraft to identify magic items). In one area he was able to find references to an immortal being known as The Radiant Muse who resided in the city during its prime. The clues tied the Radiant Muse to the concepts of art and beauty, but were vague beyond that.

Feeling they may have begun to exhaust the information and relics available in the trade district, they decided to explore the currently unvisited northeast section of the city. As they moved into this district they noticed the buildings were decidely plainer and more sturdy and functional (the trade district buildings were more elegant and decorated). Joque also soon noticed that the signs of animal activity that were evident in the wild overrun trade district were missing here. Zelshee’s keen orc nose picked up a creatures scent that she found familiar, but couldn’t quite place. They thought a quick investigation of a building or two for possible inhabitants was prudent, and Teyla watched the street while the others investigated inside.

Soon they heard shouts from outside and found Teyla squared off against a pair of chauru-ka, one of which was leading a large ape on a leash. The monkey men were armed and were shouting at Teyla about intruding in the domain of “Olujimmi” in the local mwangi tongue, but she didn’t understand a word and things had gotten tense. Mastuuk and Joque tried to reason with them, but the monkey men were quite agitated at the appearance of 4 more intruders and insisted that the group talk to the great Olujimmi at the fortress that was visible on the hill to the north. They threatened to sick Bobo on them (the ape). Joque tried to cut a deal in eloquent style “Get out of our way or we will kill you”. Zelshee wasn’t sure what was being said, but when they ape charged she guessed at the gist of Joque’s last curt recitation…

They made short work of the monkey men and dire ape and dragged the bodies into the building. Being fixated on exploring the ziggurat and spear in this district they moved away from the fortress and at Joque’s insistence made their way to the plaza south of the ziggurat that they had spied from a distance earlier. Entering the plaza, it seemed to have once been a large market place or parade ground. It was surrounded by 3 story buildings and led from the lake to the ziggurat. The plaza had four towering columns from which they were surprised to spot the corpses of 4 snake people hanging by their neck with their hands tied behind their back. As the moved into the plaza two hulking 4 armed white gorillas stepped out from behind the columns and roared a challenge. Answering this was a cacophony of hoots and howls from the surrounding buildings as the faces of hundreds of monkey men appeared in the windows all around them, cheering on the dangerous looking girallons in the plaza. Everyone in the party glared at Joque as the girallons charged to the great delight of the monkey men onlookers.

From the Log of Jocque Tarr

I know it looks bad but I tried to reason with those chauru-ka things, didn’t I. And wasn’t it obvious to even the dumbass dire ape they had with them that there was simply no way in the seven heavens or hells that Draheen and Teyla were simply never – never, never, never ever – going to hand over their weapons and go to see another charu-ka “Great Leader” again? And I tried to warn them didn’t I, in language even the dumb little bastards could understand? I mean what part of “Get out of the way or we will kill you.” didn’t the little scumbags understand?

And when you think about it, my insistance on heading straight for the plaza in front of the next ziggurat cut out a lot of miscellaneous crap didn’t it? Looking at the crowd of chauru-ka gathering on all the balconies and in all the windows above us and smelling the dead snake men and girallon crap down here in the arena I just know. I know that any direction we took through this district was going to wind up here. I can almost envision us facing their great leader, Olujimmi I think they called him after being eventually hunted down, overcome by sheer numbers and having Olujimmi condemn us to this very plaza.

I feel the appreciative eyes of my crew on me as the crowd and girallons roar! What a leader!

Now, I must move to the back.

Notes from Zelshee Venso

I think I might have gotten a shot or two off before that Dire Bat bit the dust, but I’m not sure. Man, that thing was massive! Just like aalllll the other deadly creatures we keep encountering here. I wonder, could it have actually pick me up? Or might I have been too much for it? We’ll never know.

Chauru-ka. The worst of enemies! Not for their deadly ways. But, for the simple fact that Joque speaks the language and he is now our chief diplomat!! We are all truly doomed!!
He talked us right into a skirmish with a few of them and their pet ape. Now we stand in the center of a killing arena with a multitude of chauru-ka cheering, jeering and shouting at us.
And just where is Joque sneaking off to??
I mistakenly wasted a Bull strength that I cast on myself before we were attacked by the chauru-ka and their ape. And the effects are completely gone now. Damn. I’m going to need something if we’re going to get out of this alive! Maybe we can persuade them to let me do battle with one of their fighters. Just the 2 of us. And then I’m sure we’ll need to meet this great Olujimmi. But hopefully not before too many of us are struck down by the hoard! Damn. Damn. Damn.
Get back here Joque!!!

Mastuuk

I have just a few moments to scrawl this note before we leave and as I sit here my companions are dragging the bodies of a chauru-ka scout party into a building. This district is controlled by the beasts, lead by the imposing sounding Olujimmi. We continue to the next spear but something doesn’t seem quite right. I worry that this note might be all that is left if we aren’t careful.

We intend to enter the plaza to the west. I hope it is an abandoned market and not a horrible trap. If you have not heard from us and locate this note, do not enter the plaza.

Hastily yours,
Mastuuk Venso
Mastuuk sigil

From the Journal of Drasheen Rettig

We are in a bad place right now! I better get myself close to Teyla and Zelshee so I can help & cast a sheild and bull strength and then retreat as best I can. I do hope we all won’t have to fight a bunch of them at once. Or maybe I do. Prayer and meditation that’s what I need to do but its so hard to concentrate right now with all the cheering and yelling all around us. Hey where is Jaque going? I don’t know but he always coms back. I am speechless which is good because I should be praying. The longer I just stand here the more frightened I get. Think damnit. OK I feel better now.

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