Serpent's Skull

New Blood
The survivors emerge from the cavern, to be greeted by an incoming vessel

Weary and brokenhearted, Sorsha and Ninti returned through the caves and back to the surface to deliver the bad news about their friends. They began to retrace their steps through the cavern to return to the lighthouse and try again to signal a way off of this cursed island.

One Week Prior in the Sargavan Capital of Eleder:
An unlikely trio was planning a trip to seek out the infamous island of Smuggler’s Shiv. A tengu and two humans were busy making attempts to entice any ship they could find to take them to Smuggler’s Shiv or its vicinity. After a long search and a great deal of coin, the trio found a ship that would drop them with a row boat in the channel nearest to the Shiv.

After a week’s passage on the ship, they were left, as promised, in a tiny row boat. The group began to navigate the waters and head east. Zayde, the largest of the humans, did most of the rowing, seemingly content in his task. The waters were in their favor, and Sir Fowlwin, the other human, attempted to make small talk to get to know his new companions. Texkyn, the tengu, was not much for conversation, as he was lost in thought, distracted and worried.

The current was with them and they made good time. They barely noticed the time passing before the speck of what they hoped was Smuggler’s Shiv appeared on the horizon. The noon-day sun beat down on them when they noticed that the current appeared to be picking up in intensity. Waves began to buffet the tiny boat. They soon realized there was no need to row, since the current was carrying them swiftly toward the island. It wasn’t long before the boat was hurtling toward the island, and all they could do was hang on for their lives.

Meanwhile on shore, the pair of somber castaways emerged from the caves. Sorsha scanned the ocean for any sign of a ship. Far out on the waters approaching the island, she noticed a small vessel, and stopped Ninti so she could take another look. Ever careful, Sorsha strode quietly through the brush at the edge of the cliff, heading down toward the beach, after telling Ninti to remain behind. Moments later, she heard the clang of armored plates as Ninti barreled through the bushes. Ninti, having just lost 3 of her dearest companions, was not about to let the other one go off by herself.

The companions in the row boat were, by that time, traveling so swiftly, that any wave was a likelihood of falling overboard. Sir Fowlwin clung to the barrels of goods he had been careful to include on the boat. Clinging so fiercely to his barrels, he was unable to hold on to the ship, even though the shore was now in site. He was thrown from the boat, with an oar in one hand and his other hand looped through the rope tied to his barrels.

The remaining pair in the boat attempted to catch their friend but were unable to get him in time. They looked back at him in dismay. Turning to look forward, they realized they were hurtling toward the shore, and right for a shipwreck already perched in their path. Zayde managed to use the other oar to turn a hard left to avoid the wreck, but moments later, they were both bounced violently from the boat and toward the approaching beach.

Sir Fowlwin managed to drape himself over his barrels. He had anticipated this event, and
prepared two barrels, sealed air tight, to carry his weight to shore. He used the oar to right himself and then turned to see which way the current was tossing him. He could see the row boat ahead of him, and the rapidly approaching beach beyond them. Suddenly, they veered hard to port, and left him staring at the advancing hull of a shipwreck.

Having realized the approaching craft had people, and seeing their rapid approach to shore, Ninti & Sorsha headed down the path to the beach to intercept these strangers.
Zayde and Texkyn swam sputtering to shore, and turned to look for their companion that had fallen. Sir Fowlwin, with nowhere to go, slammed straight through the rotted wood of the ship and into her lower deck, skidding to a stop, with his precious goods in tow. After a moment to acclimate himself, he could see the bones of 3 fallen sailors littered the cabin, but they were not done with living for the moment. They dragged their bones to standing, and turned to face the paladin.

Texkyn and Zayde watched as Sir Fowlwin exploded through the ship. They carefully approached the ship, entering through holes in the rotted wood. They saw the skeletal sailors had surrounded and were clawing at their friend. Sir Fowlwin, looking longingly at his barrel of equipment, summoned the healing of Ragathiel to smite the undead fiends.
Sorsha and Ninti arrived just as the three newcomers were finishing off the skeletons. Ninti was mistrustful, but still asked Pharasma to seal their wounds. After a moment, the two stared amazed at Texkyn, who looked exactly like the tengu they had just burned in the caves under their feet. Shektyn, it would appear, had a twin brother, who had been worried and searching for his kin.

After a brief discussion, the five of them turned their rage on Marrok, the blind cannibal who they believed had lead the party into a trap.
Marrok sensed their arrival, and threats from an enraged Ninti quickly turned to blows when Sir Fowlwin entered the room and beheld the evil cleric before him. Marrok quickly succumbed to their righteous rage, finally losing his head to the paladin’s sword. All the while, the cannibals’ children howled and screamed. Some attempted to beat at Marrok’s attackers, the others hid wherever they could seek refuge.

Sir Fowlwin recognized the symbol on the dead man’s chest as the mark of Urgathoa, an evil goddess of disease and cannibalism. Marrok had indicated they were doing the work of his goddess, but what that could mean had not been made clear yet. Either way, Marrok would not be giving them any more information, as his head now rested in the refuse heap outside.

Finally, the new castaways and the old had a chance to rest and recover from a long journey and a hard loss.

Death in the Dark
Our heroes venture down into the Caves of the Mother, where a grisly fate awaits.

While the 4 curious adventurers plan their attack below in the caves, Sorsha realizes it’s been quiet for longer than she is comfortable with. Leaving Ishirou to continue his labors on repairing the lighthouse, she proceeds downstairs. All appears to be fine with the cannibal’s children and Marrok. Ever mistrustful of Marrok and the children, she sends Billy, the rescued cabin boy, upstairs to keep watch for Ishirou. She then begins her descent into the caves below and a careful trek through the caverns, following the tracks of her allies.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party argues about the best course of action to get into the lair of the undead creatures they have been hunting. The creatures have continued to retreat towards that cavern, and must now have fortified their position. The only problems: a short swim through the waters of the cave, followed by a 20 foot climb through a darkened shaft.

Narissa had already dealt with part of the issue, having attached a grappling hook to the top of the shaft in her former scouting attempts. However, that still left them with a swim. The two armored in plate looked warily at the water. Sven began a laborous removal of armor, while commanding the others to stay on the shore until he’d climbed above. “Except for you” he ordered, pointing to Ninti, “You stay here, I’ll come running if I need you, don’t want ta lose you to the waters.”

Everyone agreed, except for Ninti. It was best, they all insisted, that she wait there. The climb would take her longer than the others, and the swim would be even worse for her. Reluctantly, she agreed to stay on shore and wait for their return.

In another part of the cave, Sorsha continued her speedy trail through the caves, looking for whatever signs she could find to see which way her companions had gone. Off in the distance a echoing sound came to her. It could only be Sven, and another attack of indigestion. She stalked quickly through the caverns, now sure she was on the right path.

Sven slipped into the dark waters and swam easily to the rope. He climbed quickly to the top, but paused before he climbed in to wait for Narissa below. Narissa was shocked by the cold as she jumped in, and took a moment to get her bearings in the waters. Sven, having given up waiting, climbed into the cave above, and was immediately met by the screeching of lacedons as they bit and tore at his emerging head. He clambered up into the chamber, taking his warhammer in both hands and cursing the ugly creatures. Taking in the chamber, he saw three of the creatures approaching him, and saw a fourth running off into another passage, shrieking its unearthly howl. Pinned in to the small opening of the cave, he continued to beat the monsters with his hammer.

One by one the others arrived in the upper caverns, including Sorsha, who had finally arrived in time to join her companions in battle. Shuffling from the back passage of the dark chamber, came a deformed female figure. What flesh was left on her bones hung loosely and had a sickly purple hue. Impressed with the heroes tenacity to come this far, she offered them eternal life as one of her “children.” Disgusted by the affront to nature that stood before them, the party vehemently refused. Uttering a curse, she screamed, “if you will not be my children, then you will die!”, and darkness descended on the cavern.

Sven fought valiantly, as the only one able to see through the magical darkness laid upon the room, he pushed the evil creature back toward her lair. The occasional firey blast lit up the room, and the thwack of arrows could be heard in the darkness, along with the clanging of steel. One by one, bodies could be heard hitting the cave floor, but the darkness still persisted.

Pacing the water’s edge in the cave below, Ninti decided she was done waiting, and hopped into the water, armor and all. She swam quickly to the rope and ascended easily. Entering the room, she took in the ghastly situation. There, her companions lay dead, strewn among the corpses of the ghouls. She ran quickly to the sound of the battle, joining Sorsha, who still fired bravely at the evil creature. Immediately, she recognized the symbol around the creature’s neck, a serpent’s skull, the symbol of Ydersius; the creature was the Headless God’s priestess.

Pouring her essence into keeping Sorsha alive, she advanced on the evil cleric. The Mother continued to strike at Sorsha, eventually knocking her to the ground, blood pooling around her. Summoning all of her positive energy, Ninti advanced on the cleric still, bringing all of her diving vengeance to bear. Eventually, with a shriek of anger, the evil being lay still. Ninti quickly assessed her companions and was able to stabilize Sorsha, but the others were gone.

Realizing they could not be allowed to complete the transition to the hideous ghouls they had just destroyed, the two companions sadly burned the bodies of their fallen friends, and headed up to face another day on Smuggler’s Shiv…

Discoveries Abound at the Cannibal Camp
An elderly cannibal and his wards are discovered, and lead to an historic discovery.

After climbing back out of the dark caves below, Narissa, Shektyn, Sorsha and Sven discover their weakened cleric to be awake and with a story to tell. While those four had explored the cavern below, Ninti and Ishirou were privy to a lightning storm of incredible proportion, seeming to center on the south-east part of the island. She also had noticed the rumbling under her feet, which faded as quickly as it had begun.

Sorsha, tired of waiting, marched toward the lighthouse, determined to do what she can to fix it and get off this island for good. The rest of the group quickly followed. As they approached the lighthouse curtain, they sense movement inside. Narissa quietly moves in to check, and is shocked when an elderly blind man senses her entry, and invites her in. Looking fully around, she can see the room has 5 children of varying ages, most with some kind of physical deformity. Sven, ever impatient, storms up to the room when Narissa attempts quiet signaling. The party follows.

When prompted, the blind man tells them his name is Marrok, and that he had been expecting them. He was told many years ago by his goddess, the “Pallid Princess” that to serve her, he was to board the Thrune’s Fang, and his fate was to be bound to its journey. She told him that he would remain alive, so he could guide those that would one day come to wipe out the temple of her long-time rival and end their conflict for good.

While Ninti discussed details with Marrok, Narissa successfully keeps Sven from slaying several of the cannibal children, which he had determined to be abominations to nature. At Marrok’s direction, the party descends once again into the dark caves below, minus one ranger who was focused only on the repair of the lighthouse.

This time, they explored deeper into the underground cave, learning that the cavern opens into a long-abandoned man-made structure. Upon entry, the group was attacked by two hungry lacedons, which they dispatched with ease.

On further investigation, they discovered the structure to be an ancient Serpentfolk temple. The carvings on the walls depict heinous acts by serpentine humanoids. A pile of bones resembling a large snake graces the south wall. Pillars line the long room, shaped as large coiled snakes.

The north end of the room holds an alcove, and a door which is slightly ajar. The door was covered in ash, burns and the residue of magic, but Shektyn was unable to trace it’s signature. The room beyond contained the most detailed serpent freizes. They depict the serpantfolk working many types of dark magic, including drawing ships toward shore to crash into the rocks.

Most interesting is an area that was recently wiped clean and appears to be anointed in blood. Shrine spell etchings
Additionally, the group was able to reveal the fate of the betrayer Captain Kovack, as his death’s confession scrawled in blood was found inside of his soiled armor.
Captains note

Continuing into the cave, they discovered more lacedons that shriek and flee at their presence. One room holds a single line of text written in an ancient language that Narissa was able to muddle through. “All Hail to Great Ydersius” it reads, and Ninti recalled what she could about the ancient Serpantfolk diety to the group.

The party came to a shallow cave filled with tide waters and a hole in the ceiling across the room leads into another chamber above. This could only be where the fleeing lacedons have run to. Narissa scaled a rope into the higher chamber, but sensed they are waiting just above, and instead of climbing through, lobned a Thunderstone into the room preceding her entry and climbed back down.

Now, they plan their attack on the hideous undead creatures. Soon, the monstrosities will be relieved of their misery, and hopefully their treasure…
Cannibal Camp Exploration
Exploration of the defeated cannibals' camp

As blood soaked the sand around the still-warm bodies, the group passed carefully through the cannibal camp.

A grisly pit of bones and dark magic lead to a clearing with a small, foul-smelling hut full of totems bearing dark, necromantic magic. Recognizing the magic as that of the witch, Shektyn rushed back to her body for a closer look. There he discovered a powerful dark magic woven in her robe, allowing her to call create undead servants with a flick of her fingers.

Shektyn and Narissa continued their pillage of the dark hut, finding useful supplies as well as dark talisman littered throughout. Meanwhile, determined that this evil must be destroyed, Sven set about ensuring it was purged…by fire. Shouting to the others that they should leave immediately, he sparked a flame at the corner of the hut. The fire caught and began a slow smouldering climb upward, rousting the angry pair still exploring inside.


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