Serpent's Skull

Temple of Zura

Hidden ruins and their dangerous denizens

Juan, Drasheen, Mastuuk, and Zelshee cautiously proceeded up the black stairs and found a grand entry chamber with vaulted ceilings defended by two animated skeletons of long dead serpent men. The skeletons were on an elevated bridge overlooking the room whose walls were decorated with unsettling carvings of bats, human sacrifice, and the walking dead, as well as four alcoves whose entrances were carved to resemble yawning fanged mouths. The skeletal serpent men threw javelins with great strength from the bridge at them, but were defeated when they ran out of ammo and jumped down to attack with claws and teeth.

Mastuuk identified the architecture as being Azlanti in origin, meaning it was thousands of years old. He also thought the imagery on the walls was indicative of Zura, a demon lord of vampirism. Mastuuk found a lever in one of the alcoves that shut the entry doors when pulled. Teyla saw the doors closing from the bluffs and decided to abandon Ludwig and go to the aid of the others who she thought might now be trapped behind the doors. When she banged on the doors, Mastuuk reversed the lever which opened the doors again accompanied by trembling throughout the chamber. Teyla showed them the contents of the quiver they had found in the Red Mountain Devil’s nest which was an extra dimensional quiver holding a finely crafted composite long bow and some magical and cold iron arrows. She said Ludwig had identified that some of the arrows were enchanted, one with a very strong enchantment he could not identify. Since Teyla already had a bow, Zelshee took the quiver and bow.

The five of them then explored the chamber, Juan climbing to the bridge. At the back of the entry chamber were doors of bronze crafted to appear as waves of dripping blood. Up some stairs they found the remains of a scriptorium and some priest chambers with some animated skeletons. There was also the remains of another of the snake men skeletons that appeared to have been recently destroyed. The walls were carved with hundreds of runes interspersed with the occasional image of a stylized rune that looked like a fanged skull. Mastuuk identified the fanged rune as a holy symbol of Zura cultists. Mastuuk spent a fair bit of time deciphering the runes on the wall, made difficult by the damage to them.

Exploring further, the group found a door protected by three pit traps in the passageways leading to it. Mastuuk fell down one but was pulled out, Drasheen fell down a second one while trying to climb across and was attacked by two tiny animated dolls who emerged from small tunnels connected to the pits, constructs powered by souls bound to their skeletal forms.

Juan opened the door to find a chamber with a pool of blood with tiny tunnels in the walls and crisscrossed grooves in the ceiling supported by four pillars. Juan entered the room briefly to get a running start to leap back across the pit in the passageway, just after doing so bronze plates slid down in the doorway and horrific grinding sounds could be heard in the room. Juan was happy he was not in the room as it became obvious it was a deadly trap. Experimenting with trapped room, Juan was in the passageway in front of the door with his back turned to the room (talking to the others) while his friends across the pit began yelling and pointing behind him excitedly. Juan turned just in time to see the hideous monstrosity that had slithered from one of the holes in the wall of the room and quickly rushed out to the passage way to attack him. It was a horrific pile of goo, mouths, and eyes, each of the mouths gibbering insanity as it attacked. Juan tried to leap across the pit to get away, but the thing grabbed him with one of it’s many mouths and engulfed him as the others watched in horror. In a flash of inspiration Zelshee pulled the bow and powerful magic arrow from the quiver she had just received praying that the arrow’s strong magic could help. The gods apparently answered her prayer as the arrow struck true and the gibbering mouther died instantly with all of it’s mouths screaming in unison. The goo creature puddled around Juan’s feet as he stood there shaking with his frightening encounter with the monster.

They decided to deal with the trapped room by rushing across it in pairs, waiting for the trap to reset. This worked and the group found themselves in a small room on the far side with another pair of double doors.

Opening the doors revealed a large cathedral like chamber that must have been a significant temple dedicated to Zura. A few steps led up to a shrine presided over by a ten foot tall statue of a beautiful fanged woman save that instead of arms she possessed two upraised bat like wings and instead of feet her legs ended in talons. She loomed over a glistening altar of blood red stone that seemed to weep blood into a trough below. The trough ran the length of the room before disappearing through a set of bars and flowing into a gaping chasm. Stone pillars supported the vaulted ceiling and two dry fountains sat opposite each other against the walls in the middle of the room. Three large alcoves contained complex wall carvings. The entire chamber felt unnaturally cold, and now and then strange disembodied whispers slithered through the air.

Arrayed in front of the altar of blood were four human skeletons wielding weapons, and behind it a tall woman covered in green scales and with the head of a serpent. She smiled in welcome as her hands began to glow with the tell tale signs of gathering magic…

Notes By Zelshee

A MONKEY! I should have been a monkey!! All this jumping over pits! Climbing out of pits!(Because I can not jump over them!) Running through traps! I am Zelshee, Warrior of Justice – not a monkey!
This is a scarey place. What evil lurks in the minds of men that they can create such evil? The dead should rest in peace. Not attack the living. This is not island. This is a very real part of Hell and the Damned dwell here. My quest, from this day forward, is to give eternal Rest to the Damned on this island!
I see Ieana. I know it’s her. She is wicked to her very core. She will kill us and that will be the end. No one else knows what horrible evil that resides on this island. We must Finally stop her. But, I don’t even know what she has become!! I see her standing there and I am shaking. My heart is racing. The evil in this place is oppressive. I want to run out of here into the bright light of the sun. I want to wake from this nightmare!
Can my god help protect me in this place? Can she feel my fears and strengthen my soul? Is her holy justice strong enough to penetrate the evil that has lurked here for thousands and thousands of years?
I MUST believe that it can. That I Zelshee, Warrior of Justice for Iomadae, was put here for this very purpose! You shall die Ieana! And I shall NOT!! WE shall not!

The Journal of Mastuuk Venso

p.s.
We’re talking a short rest in this fascinating but deadly temple. It’s an ancient relic of the Azlanti people but there’s evidence that some is much older. I intend to write extensively on it when we finally have a few days rest. I’m surprised we’re still walking with skeletal warriors, animated dolls, and pits everywhere. Juan was nearly devoured by a horrid, gibbering beast but my sister was lucky with her arrow choice and true with its delivery. I suspect the door on the other side of this mostly heinous of traps will finally lead us to our quarry. I’m low on magical power, we’re short two of our party and I must admit (if only to myself) that I am terrified.

The Journal of Jocque Tarr

If I ever get to put another entry in my Journal it would be that I never want to do anything like this again in my whole life! I was wrong about wanting to get off of this rock. Now I want to live through being on it and then forget every horrible thing I have seen and felt here.

I am a craven and maybe becoming more craven with every step I make myself take down here. I should have gone ahead of these people in the passageways. I might have been able to save them from the pit traps and whatever those hideous dolls were. When I finally got up enough nerve to try, I wound up turning my back on a trap and was swollowed alive by whatever that thing was with all the mouths! The gods bless the half-orc Zelshee. I didn’t see it but she put an arrow into the gibbering monstrosity and it disolved around me leaving me alive but partially digested for gods’ sake!!!

I don’t know where I came up with the nerve to press on past that point except that the others would not give up and I owe them my live several times over at this point. And then there is Ieana. She must have come this way too. Maybe a little further….maybe a few more steps… and I might be able to bury my shiv in her black heart and avenge my Captain and the crew that befriended me.

But as we went into the temple of horrors at the end of the passage and I saw that thing behind the skeletons defending it I realized that this is what my Captain and my crew were really up against and my guts felt like they had turned to jelly. How can a man, much less this man, put a knife in something like that and live?

But, seeing her as she really is and thinking back on what she has done, I know I have to try even if it ends with me rejoining my mates on the other side. I feel like a cornered animal but cornered animals are dangerous simply because they are afraid and have no other options than to fight…. I move ………..

The Journal of Drasheen Rettig

More prayers and meditation is my only sanity. The evil in this place is so horrifying and such danger every where. The javelin throwing skeletons, the pit traps, the human sacrifice, the evil carvings are almost too much to look at. Everywhere we turn it is a struggle, its an eerie feeling to keep our courage up and not be totally consummed in insanity and fear.
I am almost out of healing. We go on, not knowing what horrible traps or monsters or mouthers or even worse and yet,down deep in all of us I feel a determination to end this evil or die.

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stryker99

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