Tempest seeing the numerous guards would not dare to endanger the others knowing they still had to figure out the magical tablet. As he saw Darion’s gesture he nodded in agreement and stepped to the middle of the group to be out of everyone’s way and appear as docile as possible preparing himself for whatever may come.
The Yuan-ti, devoid of empathy, have trouble understanding why the dwarf was concerned with Ellis and they order him to put him back down and get in line. They are -luckily- distracted enough by this awkward exchange at the perfect moment and angle that Darion is able to get a good look at the device. So good, in fact, that the pattern instantly clicks in his mind and he discerns the meaning of each bead. With the guile of a master thief or magician, Darion is actually able to shift the position of one bead without anyone noticing (choose one bead/school of magic to shift over any direction you choose).
The guards hiss directions to file into an order. They grab you by the shoulders and roughly force you one behind another. Ellis, Daner, Tempest, and Darion. The Yuan-ti at the back snaps his snake-arms at your rear as a signal to “march!”
Ellis was disappointed as he had to be put down before they were directed to file in order. He winced as he had been grabbed and forced to the front of the line, ankle hurting so much. Then he yelped when the snake-arms snapped at his rear, nodding. So Ellis started marching, going slower than a normal person would as he tries to put as little pressure on his ankle as possible while walking.
With only a moment or two to spare, Darion makes a split-second decision. He is unsure what school of magic favours Tempest, and can't decide on the best school for him, then remembers what Daner translated by the Gnome - he sets abjuration to be dampened, hopefully making the device stop functioning. A bigger risk, perhaps, but one that might give them hope to escape. He then casually moves in to line with everyone else, looking as subjugated as possible.
The Yuan-ti order you up single file and urge you through the opened portcullis which opens up to an adjacent room from the prisoner pit room. You glance at some of the other pits, but judging from the anguish and smell, the other prisoners have been in their pits much longer than you have.
As you cross the threshold, you see a new area. A bloodstained altar stands in the middle of this room. It has shackles bolted to its top and niches carved into its sides. Housed in each niche is a human skull. Grooves run down the altar to gutters on the floor, allowing spilled blood to drain into the walls. Clay urns overflow with wet bones and gore. Like the last room, the ceiling is 20 feet high and is lit by green torches set in sconces along the wall. The stone walls are damp and glisten with moisture.
(Perception roll, Investigation roll, Religion roll for whichever characters want to try them)
On beyond this room, on the other side of the altar, you see a corridor that goes perhaps another 40 feet before it lets out in another more brightly lit room at the end. About 15ft into the corridor, on the right, you see the figure of a Yuan-ti, draped in flowing cloth, waiting near an open door. You are too far to make out many features.
Religion doesn’t make sense for Daner in this sense. Full post to follow. Esteem classes at the moment
At the command of the Yuan-ti, Daner put Ellis down as awkwardly as he can, taking his time, but being careful to allow Ellis to put his weight on his better foot. Hopefully the others were able to use the distraction to some advantage. Daner marched out of the room behind the guards. Having been knowingly handed over to the Yuan-Ti by his former owner, the bloodsoaked chamber did not surprise Daner, but it still repulsed him.
Darion shuffles into the chamber with the others, and when he gets a good luck at it he visibly blanches in fear "by Mystra and Tymora" he mutters under his breath, half prayer half exclamation, fearing that they have been brought here to be executed forthwith. Mouth dry, he looks around desperately, looking for anything that may offer some hope.
OOC: and of course, at this exciting point is when it is time for bed! Provided a wholesale fight, or some major decision to be made doesn't crop up Darion will be a too gummed up with fear to do anything other than observe, if everyone else carries on playing :)
Ellis walked where they were being led to, seeing other pits where other prisoners have been there longer, feeling horrible. Then they kept walking and ending up in a new area, feeling bile threaten to come pouring out of his mouth as he sees the bloody altar, human skulls in the niches with blood draining into the walls and urns overflowing with bones and gore. He barely manages to keep it down but coughs a lot, eyes watering and completely shaking. Is this where the sacrifices end up? Still shaking, Ellis will just manage to keep walking while trying to keep his gaze off of the bloody scene before finally they're out of that dreaded room. So they started walking down the corridor, soon seeing a Yuan-ti in flowing cloth and waiting near an open door. Is that the priestess?
As they enter the new room and pass under the portcullis Tempest will look around at the gruesome setting. Just before he exits the room he tests the boundary of the magical tablet and will attempt to stealthily cast [spell]Shape Water[\spell] on the blood bucket attempting to lift a droplet worth of blood about an inch into the air. If successful he’ll put the droplet back where it was and remain silent and docile.
With your investigation and perception checks, you notice two things. One, you surmise that the blood gutters that lead into the wall carry the blood of sacrificed victims to some other location for some dark purpose. You have a grim thankfulness that the blood seems rather fresh, so a batch of victims must have been sacrificed only very recently, so, presumably, you might have a little more time.
The other thing you notice is the lever that operates the portcullis sealing off your room. It is hidden outside of view of the prisoner room. It seems heavy, but one with exceptionally long arms might be able to reach it from the portcullis, if they knew where to feel, or perhaps a rope could reach.
Tempest's spell resolves as intended, so he knew that he was outside of the range of the magic dampening tablet, or a different tablet in this room.
As you draw near, the figure ahead retreats into the room on the right. Before turning into the room, you can see up ahead into the next chamber, about 30 feet away, a flurry of activity. Yuan-ti of every variety are coming and going. Tempest, attuned to the natural world, is able to feel the faintest breath of fresh air come from this direction as you see a pack of Yuan-ti make an exit. As you reach the door, your guard stands in the middle of the hallway, blocking your view, and he motions for you to enter the side room.
"Fenthaza wishes to sssssee you new ssssslaves," he stretches out a finger and places his gangly fingernail beneath Ellis' chin, "esssspecially you, trickssssy one." He scoffs, "I would have already taken you juicessssss if it were up to me." He motions to Ellis' ankle, "Ussselessss for labor."
Ellis first turns into the new room. A haze of incense lingers inside the chamber. Faded murals decorate the walls, and throw rugs and cushions lie scattered on the floor. An engraved chest rests in one corner next to a stone urn covered with snake carvings. A creature with the head and upper body of a dark-skinned woman and the lower body of a serpent coils in the middle of the room.
(Also a chance to do anything else before entering Fenthaza's chamber if anyone wants)
Ellis was surprised to see Yuan-ti coming and going in the next chamber, wondering if that's where the Yuan-ti exit out of here. But the guard blocked their view and wanted them to go into the side room, hearing that Fenthaza wants to see them. Then he shivered as he felt the fingernail under his chin, the guard saying that she wants to see him especially but how he would have killed him already since he's useless for labor. He nods and quickly enters the new room, seeing all the incense along with the murals, throw rugs and cushions, a chest and a stone urn. Then Ellis saw who must be Fenthaza in the middle of the room, carefully walking into the room as he bowed his head and kept his gaze lowered, standing with more of his weight on his not broken ankle. He felt nervous, wondering what she was going to say to them and what she would want with him.
While Ellis is taken away into the other room, Daner reassesses his captors. There are too many in the room right now, but this is likely to lead to a fight of some kind, and it will probably have to happen soon if his judgement was correct. Daner specifically looks for things that he might be able to use as a weapon. Also, he considers the weapons and armour of the Yuan-Ti. The ones with snakes for arms? Do they strike like a snake, or do they employ magic? He couldn't picture them holding a blade.
Tempest will follow along and as as the whiff of fresh air hits his nose he will commit the path to memory. As he enter the room to the right he will make note of the room and the number of guards along with the positions of his comrades. Even if he didn't know them very well, they weren't Yuan-ti, and haven't tried to kill him... yet. His odds of surviving alone were decent but together, he thought they'd be much higher especially now that they were out of range of the tablet. He would look to each of his companions gauging their attitude to see if this was the location of their fate or if they wanted to wait in case they were put back in the cell. He would try to meet each of their gazes if possible and make small movements with his eyes to the ground and looking back behind them.
Perception: 12 (# of guards and any objects or obstacles/ places to hide)
As Tempest racks his mind for Ideas and what type of beast would best serve him he remembers the cavern of giant spiders and nearly has an outburst of anger as he thinks how stupid he is. If he had simply transformed into a spider he could've easily climbed up the stonework walls through the grate then transformed at the top of the pit. So much wasted time, how could he have missed it. The dull pain from his head creeps back in as he mentally kicks himself. Anyone watching would notice a wrinkle on his brow form followed by a scowl that slowly resolves to an emotionless face once again.
(... and i'm an idiot. Off to bed loving this so far great work from all!)
Darion shudders a little as they are led before Fenthaza, but comes more to his senses, pushing down the fear and trying to get his brain to work. He catches Tempest's glance and pauses. Usually Darion prefers doing rather than waiting, but it might be worth waiting to see if their odds improve.
He mouths, as cautiously as he can "let's wait" then he too will glance around, trying to get a sense of the numbers & location. He also decides in that moment to trust his companions, at least at this point in time. Indeed, he feels there is little option. Spending too long trying to second-guess who might be on the level is probably more dangerous than preparing for a potential escape - or fight.
Darion will hold off, however should it look like any of the party be in imminent danger he would be prepared to fight, so generally prepares himself as best he can breathing slowly and trying to clear his head.
((Howdy crew. Today I start back to work after enjoying my paternity leave. You'll notice my rate of response slacken quite a bit, especially as I try to get caught back up on all of the work that I missed! I'd love to keep at the pace I have been going, but that's probably not realistic.))
You can clearly see that Fenthaza picks up on the fear and the angst present in the characters' expression and body language. She smirks and breathes in deep, as if she were basking in the fear itself.
"I see that you are becoming acquainted with your new station. To be part of the libations that will bring Dendar the Night Serpent back to us is a great honor indeed. My favorite guard," she casts a haughty look at your caretaker, "informs me that at least one among you is gifted in the magical arts. This is no small feat for small-minded, un-ascended ones such as yourselves. Dendar demands sacrifice... but there is an art and eloquence to sacrifice. One must appreciate exactly how much blood one can draw to get the most out of a vessel." You don't appreciate such an analogy at this point, surely.
Her voice is like velvet, and her Common is exceptional compared to the other Yuan-ti you have encountered. This is strangely comforting. However, she cannot hide the characteristic note of reptilian coldness in her manner of speech, at its core (insight). She slithers up close to each of you, inspecting the most minute details. She tussles Ellis' golden hair, she feels Dalen's knotted muscles, she breathes in the scent of fresh water emanating from Tempest, mere inches from his face. She cocks her head at Darion, whom she can't quite figure out, "hmmmmm" she hisses. She slithers back to her cushions and says quietly to herself (perception roll helping here), "These may do nicely..."
"A few days ago we had a most wonderful blood orgy. However, it was an embarrassment of riches. Since Dendar left the sky, servants are getting harder and harder to come by, and things are left being undone here in the temple. You see, I think, if you prove to be good boys, your blood might be more valuable inside of you, for the moment. To become a small part of Dendar's glory as a crimson, sticky, hot mess is no small honor... but I offer you a choice. Would you instead like to help me attend to a few things around the temple?"
She stands there, feigning interest as if she is actually curious about which answer you will give.
As for your perception and investigation rolls. You see the three guards who escorted you in here, and you see Fenthaza. You see a closed door deeper in her room, but you have no guess as to what is behind the closed door. Down the hallway, you have trouble counting how many Yuan-ti that you saw, but you figure it must have been at least 6 or 7. They were in various stages of going and returning. Dalen is unsure about the spellcasting capabilities of these foes. Fenthaza carries no weapons. Two of the guards carry scimitars. The snake-armed Yuan-ti is ARMED with snakes. No telling if they were magic snakes, but they were certainly animate snakes, with large teeth!
Tempest takes once slow step forward, head bowed and falls to one knee. "It would be my pleasure to serve."and to keep my blood inside my veins Tempest thought as he rose and returned to his place in line. Tempest would bow his head and allow a small grin to form on his face. Those watching would think it was because he just had the offer of an extended life. While it may not be extended indefinitely, it was better than being killed in the next five minutes. Clean and serve the best you can. Give them no reason to suspect anything and when they least expect it escape, he thought hoping the others would follow suit.
Daner watches as Tempest falls to her knee. He knew he should do the same; he certainly knew how from his years of servitude, but that was also the very reason why he couldn't do it now. Never again would he subject himself completely before another. He knew that they were trying to get free from a terrible situation, but that symbol of subservience was a step too far. The best he could muster was to stand silently and look at the floor halfway between himself and the creature in front of him.
They were outnumbered at the moment. That was never a good time to act, but hopefully, the dampener had been altered enough that they could catch their captors unaware. All he needed was the people by his side to stand with him, and the appropriate time to act.
Darion watched Tempest bow, uncertain what to make of it for a moment, surmising that Tempest was trying to buy them time. Darion turned his gaze to the arrogant and triumphal priestess, watching her enjoy their humiliation in her own muted way. Then he suddenly realised something. Strip out the macabre mutations, and the vile ritual and the Yuan-ti weren't that much different to the gangs of bullies and thugs that would wander the poor streets of home. The same contemptuous pleasure in inflicting pain, the same look on the face as they meted out a beating to some old man who happened to cross their path and have a few coins. In that moment some of his fear vanished, they were no longer an alien, unknown quantity. Dangerous of course, to be feared as they held they power of life and death other them, but still just a miserable little brute at heart.
In all his times on the streets of home, he'd never given in to the bullies - even when beaten black and blue they'd had to rip his meager coin purse from him, he'd never given it up willingly. He knew the wisdom of Tempest's action, but he felt bile rising in his mouth at the thought of giving satisfaction to these creatures. He glanced over and caught Daner tensing, a steely look on the Dwarf's face.
Darion stands up a little straighter, looking directly at Fenthaza and gifts her his most mocking smile. He doesn't trust himself to speak though, waiting to see what her reaction is.