Eternal Ambitions

Gulaol and his priests

24 Eleint 1384 D.R.
Year of Three Streams Blooded

Moving beyond the curtain, the party faced a massive temple chamber extending some 70 or 80 feet before them, and opening to a width of nearly fifty feet. Immense columns, intricately carved into the likenesses of all manner of serpents, rose to meet the vaulted ceiling high above, with vast braziers hanging from chains between them.

The light from the braziers cast living shadows across the walls, which were carved into bas relief depictions of serpents and lizards of all shapes. At far end of the chamber stood a twelve foot statue of a coiled snake, rearing its head back as if to strike. An eerie light glinted from its jeweled eyes, and a white, viscous liquid dripped slowly from its exposed fangs. Huge curtains hung to either side of the serpent statue, presumably concealing other passageways.

The noise of a rushing river, however, drew the party’s attention away from the carvings and glittering gems. Stretching from north to south, a great chasm bisected the chamber, and the floor and ceiling were blackened as if by some powerful explosion. The chasm dropped some forty feet to a pile of crushed pillars and stone being churned by a surging river. Spanning the chasm stood a wooden foot bridge, suspended by corded ropes.

The party cautiously crossed the bridge, careful to keep a wary eye on the statue and upon the door they had entered through, lest they find themselves beset from behind.

As they reached the other side, Rummy went directly to the statue and climbed its scaled back to rest upon its head. Setting to work with a dagger, he pried the eyes free from their mountings, and quickly pocketed the fist-sized gems.

Just as Rummy pried free the second eye, however, the curtain on the southern side of the statue parted and two massive snake-men came surging into the room, weapons held in their humanoid hands, and forked tongues flicking from their fang-studded mouths. Behind them came a truly terrifying specimen, though. Coming forward on his great belly, Gulaol himself slithered forth, waving a long, curved blade studded with heavy rings along its rear edge.

The party thought to rush back across the bridge to relative safety, but when they turned to do so, they saw the far curtain shoved aside by a mass of cultists pouring toward them. Their retreat was cut off, it would seem.

Badrick acted quickly, hacking the ropes of the bridge and watching it fall into the chasm, cutting off the cultists. However, this left the party stranded with the snake-men, who seemed less-than-inclined to chat.

Melee was joined immediately, and the fighting was fierce. The snake-men swung their whips and viciously curved daggers while striking with their great maws, inflicting painful wounds upon the party, but the companions stood their ground and refused to submit.

Summoning an orb of pure darkness, Gulaol disappeared inside it and the already chaotic scene became even more terrifying for the party. Now, they couldn’t even see the enemy, and the mob of cultists were bringing in tables from the mess hall to try to span the chasm.

Over the next several minutes the battle raged, with Anders, Rummy and Badrick finally dropping the two smaller snake men, and leaving only Gulaol to deal with. Somehow, Tonan had been knocked unconscious inside the darkness, and his fate was unknown. Gulaol cast a nasty Polymorph spell on Mesmer, changing her into a small snake, and she returned the favor by biting him repeatedly.

In the end, with Badrick near death, Anders struggling to fend off Gulaol’s attacks, and Rummy struggling to maintain his grip on his dagger, Tonan came to and stumbled out of the darkness. At the last minute, he sent up a prayer to his Goddess, and brought down her healing powers to save Anders. Moments later, Gulaol slumped under the onslaught rained upon him by Anders and Badrick, and Mesmer was able to slither out from under Gulaol’s immense bulk.

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AriochJD

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