Fenthaza nods in expectation as Tempest takes a knee. As the other two refuse, her expression becomes one of confusion. She furrows her brow, as if there was something she had miscalculated. If one were to look behind them, they would see your caretaker wear the expression of “see!?” And then the universal gesture of a knife across the throat as he mouths the words “just. sac.ri.fice. them!”
She ponders for a moment and then something clicks, and then she rolls her eyes. “Ahhhhh yesssss. Honor. That antiquated, useless, warm-blooded sentiment. You may keep your honor. Kneel or stand, I don’t care. I don’t want you groveling when you could be working.”
She slithers in closer, and she says this slowly, with great diction, “What I want to know is simple. Live or die?”
She picks up a scroll of parchment and unfurls it. It is a list of simple, if demeaning, chores that need to be completed in the temple. “I don’t want more worshipers. I want to know if you can follow directions, like good boys. Can you?”
Darion pauses for a moment, torn. But he feels a little victory might have been won. Still he struggles, his 'honour' battling with the good sense of Tempest's strategy. Finally, without lowering his eyes, he says "I can follow directions, if I must."Inside his mind, he adds "Doesn't mean I will though".
Darion glances at his three companions, looking particularly at Daner and wondering what is going through the Dwarf's mind. He thinks Daner looks capable in a fight, he has to Darion's eyes that look of contained and focused power that goes with a skilled warrior. For the first time he allows a little bit of hope; the Yuan-ti have made an error - they have put three magic users and a skilled warrior together, and seem unaware of this apart from Ellis. A small advantage, but an advantage nonetheless.
He turns back to Fenthaza and says simply "To live"
OOC: sadly sleep beckons. I've been feeling the tension of this all day! It's a shame that work has to get in the way of quality D&D time!
Ellis listened as she told them that the guard informed her that one among them is gifted in the magical arts, no small feat for them and going on about how there is an art to sacrifice, appreciating how much blood one can get out of a vessel. That is one art he never wants to understand. Then he shivered as she tussled his hair before inspecting the others too, wondering what she was thinking. Soon she explained that they recently had a blood orgy, not wanting to even imagine that and then mentioning that since Dendar fell, servants were getting harder to come by, things needing to be done. If they proved to be good boys, they may be able to stay alive longer as she offered them the choice to help her attend to a few things in the temple? After seeing that altar room, Ellis knew that he did not want to end up a sacrifice and saw that Tempest fall to one knee, agreeing to serve. This seems like the best option, knowing that they would get to live for a while longer, hopefully long enough to plan and escape out of here. But he was shocked when Daner and Darion didn't bow or say anything at all, confused. Soon Fenthaza talked about pride and how they could keep it, coming over with a list of chores and wanting to know if they can follow directions, giving them the choice of life or death. "Yes, I can follow directions. I can serve." Ellis quickly said back to her, bowing his head low as he knew that he couldn't have done what the other two did. With his ankle broken, this is the only way he can stay alive for right now.
Daner, head bowed as the lady slithers closer, simply says, "Live." He says this with a stern, emotionless voice, more as a reminder to himself to do what is required rather than to submit to her will.
"Live." Tempest says after all the others. "What must be done?" he asked with an enthusiastic sense of hope. Hearing his companions agree to live made his heart jump as he thought, maybe not today or tomorrow but soon.. soon they will all be out of this place and this dumb lady may just give them a free look at the layout. Bowing meant nothing to Tempest, he learned from the passing pirates and smugglers that traded with his parents that words and presentation meant nothing. How many times did they promise one thing before robbing them of their possessions and eventually stealing his parents. Live. he thought as he awaited Fenthaza's response.
Fenthaza clasps her hands, "Excellent. I knew you would see reason in the end. Any good Yuan-ti knows how to play the end game. Perhaps you would make acceptable converts yourselves."
See looks at your caretaker, "Liss'ard, please have your charges select some chores from the list, or force them to do this or that; I don't care as long as it gets done. Cleanliness is next to diabolicalness, you know."
She turns towards the party, "Now, I expect you to put your pathetically short backbones into these tasks, and I expect you to work the whole day with no complaining. Liss'ard will show you your nice hole instead of the sacrificial altar at the end of the day as your reward." With a subtle gesture she concludes the meeting, and the guards force you back outside of Fenthaza's quarters.
Liss'ard unfurls the scroll and has a look. He rolls his eyes (if that is possible for a snake) and begins to mete out chores arbitrarily. "Goldilocks, you..." he looks at the busted ankle, "ugh, pathetic... you go assist Xopal in the poison distillery... watch your step." Next he looks at Daner, "Wee Man, you look fit for work.. how about you muck out the dinosaur pen?" He laughs to himself, "...that stool is bigger than this fool!" Next he turns towards Tempest, "You look like you need to be somewhere dry, let's send you to rearrange the contents of the storeroom." Then finally he looks at Darion, "You, ordinary...guy? Go to the bathing area and scrub down some of our extraordinary warriors!"
Before closing the door, Fenthaza adds one more thing. "Oh, slaves, one more thing. Our most noble leader, Slithotep, do not let him see you. He is known to lop the head off any non-reptilian on sight, hoist the body above his head, and take a shower of blood right then and there. He is not as... pragmatic as I. Please do not fail me in this."
Tempest nods and looks to the group gives a near imperceptible smile and will follow whoever leads him to the storeroom. "What does Slithotep look like?" He asks. As he makes his way there he will note the number of steps, if he catches any whiff of fresh air and observe how many yuan-ti he encounters along the way.
If there is only one guard in front of him Tempest will attempt to use Mold Earth to make periodic small piles of dirt along the wall that are an inch or two in size in specific shapes. A circle for good and a double line for bad so he can mark paths that would aid or hurt escape plans. If there are too many peering eyes he will resolve himself to keep a good memory of the paths.
OOC: The post by Tempest made it seem like we are simply going along with this, not taking any major actions in the room with Fenthaza first.
I really don't want to be splitting up, Daner thinks to himself. Anything could happen while we are apart. At least it will give us an opportunity to get the lay of the land.
Daner follows along behind the Yuan-Ti who leads him toward the 'dinosaur'? pen. As he walks he keeps an eye out for places where the gear that was stripped from the sacrifices on their arrival might be kept. For all he knew the Youn-Ti might consider these items worthless to them and simply throw them out as waste. Once they got out of the pen they would need some way to fight back. Daner was pretty sure that using a rock off the floor was not going to cut it.
Perception (looking for storage/trash area): 18
Upon reaching the pen, Daner looks around to survey the area. Mucking stalls was simple work. It didn't matter the size of the beast, it ended up the same. The smell that greeted him was familiar, construction in cities often required Daner to work in and around active sewers, but there was a hint to the smell he was unfamiliar with. As he looks around, Daner is particularly interested in any small items that he might be able to conceal for use later on.
Perception (looking for useful items at the pen): 9
Ellis heard as Darion and Daner agreed to live, glad that hopefully they all will stay alive longer. Then Fenthaza seemed pleased and talked about them making acceptable converts, not liking the idea of becoming a Yuan-ti. She talked to the guard about the chores, making sure that they get done before telling them that they must put their all into it and work the whole day without complaining, that they would get to go back to their hole instead of the sacrificial altar as their reward. As they were forced outside, he listened to her warning about Slithotep, to not let him see them and absolutely disgusted by what he does to non-reptilians. Okay, they definitely need to avoid him then. Soon Liss'ard started assigning the chores, surprised by his nickname and the fact that he would be helping out in the poison distillery. Ellis was nervous at the thought of working with poison, knowing that it could kill him if handled wrong. But he just nodded, hearing the others' chores and then following the Yuan-ti who would be taking him to the distillery, keeping his weight on and walking on his not broken ankle while looking around.
Darion smiled to himself that the worst Liss'ard could come for him was 'ordinary guy' - another little victory. He then almost choked in disgust at the thought of scrubbing down these repellent creatures, but managed to keep his face impassive. Mind you, this might be a good opportunity to get a feel for the garrison, and 'listen' in if he could find a place to safely cast spells. He watches the others being led away, and will follow whichever guard(s) are assigned to him without attempting anything at this point.
As with the others, Darion will keep an eye out where he has been taken, if there is anything notable (particularly any more teleportation circles), ways out and particularly where their gear might be. Once in the bathing room, Darion will glance around, looking to see if there is anywhere he could surreptitiously cast spells, or if he would be permitted to leave the room to get fresh water, towels or whatever hideous things the Yuan-ti use.
Darion reflected again on the Wisdom of Tempest's strategy, reminding himself that his defiance might have not just cost his life, but other's too. These were not like the Tanner Street Gang or the other groups he'd defied or baited in the past. The worst they would do, in fairness, was beat you black and blue. The Yuan-ti were killers. Time to, as his mum would say "start growing up". The sudden thought of home caused Darion to well-up for a moment, but he rapidly blinked the tears away. He didn't want the Yuan-ti to have the satisfaction.
GM: as at some stage I might cast a spell at the Yuan-ti, I wanted to check how you ruled the portent ability working if something has advantage or disadvantage. The way I read it, is that adv / dis don't effect it - the portent becomes their result without any rolling occurring, is that your reading too?
Fenthaza answers Tempest’s question before you depart. “Oh, I think you would rather know him when you saw him. He is an Abomination; the near peak of Yuan-ti form. Covered in glorious scales and barely human at all. Large and strong. He is also fond of his flaming longsword, though I hope you don’t see it.” She lists these superlatives monotone and without inflection.
((When I make it to a computer I can type up the next part. There’s going to be a whole lot of description of the layout, which is probably going to be very important for this particular scenario, so I want to get it detailed and correct))
((I'll do a post about the physical layout of each room as each character walks through, and then follow up with the individual characters later. This is so you can refer back to individual locations later more easily.))
AREA 1: MAIN GATE
After interpreting the assignments, the four Yuan-ti guards that have been escorting you proceed to lead each one of you to your individual assignment. Liss'ard continues to grumble about Fenthaza as he gets out of earshot of her. He expresses disbelief that he really needs to be bothered to escort these slaves to complete the petty tasks. How good a heated bloodbath would feel right now!
You continue down to the end of the hallway, heading west, leaving behind your prisoner pit, the sacrificial altar, and Fenthaza's chamber. You arrive in a large passageway and see a set of closed bronze doors on your right. Twenty feet wide and twenty feet high. Coiled serpents decorate the metal, with a sliding hatch at head height. Four-inch-wide holes pierce the base of each door. Through the investigation roll you surmise that this is the entrance to the Yuan-ti temple. You see two heavy chains affixed the doors, which could be dragged to slide the bronze doors into wall niches on either side of the tunnel. At the base of the gates you see three pits that are covered with iron grates. You see a snake-headed man with an enormous two-handed scimitar standing guard at the gate. He is accompanied by four hideous snake-like bipedal creatures who hiss and snap at you as soon as you emerge from the hallway. The Yuan-ti grabs chains that leash them and pull them back as they rush towards you. He laughs and makes a cheeky comment about how you won't get so lucky next time.
Continuing on from the main gate area, you take a left and start to head south into a different room.
Four pillars carved with serpent reliefs support the 20-foot-high ceiling of this large room, in the middle of which is an 18-foot-high statue of a coiled cobra, facing north. Torches with green flames flicker on the walls, and the air reeks of dung. Two wagons are parked in one corner, and a triceratops is confined to a metal pen in another. To the west is a dark alcove, and to the south is a wide, pillared hall. To the east can see a passageway that leads to a balcony that overlooks some huge, vaulted chamber. It appears that a huge gong carved with snake patterns stands on this balcony.
A mostly humanoid-looking Yuan-ti is found pacing here. He is fat, for a snake-man, and carries a bag of snacks, which he liberally pops into his mouth. Two of the scaled creatures that you saw before follow him around like dogs. He turns his nose up at you as you pass through.
One of the guards tugs on Dalen's manacles and points him to the triceratops pen. This would be his stop. The portly Yuan-ti walks up to Dalen, with a wry smile, as the rest of you continue onwards, deeper into the temple.
Going further south, the rest of the party enters another chamber. The walls of this pillared hall bear reliefs of a giant serpent and its yuan-ti worshipers doing terrible things. From the back of this chamber to the bronze doors of the entrance, you figure it is about 150 feet.
Ellis is drawn in by the detail of these artistic reliefs and he examines them closely as he limps along, at one point resting his hand on the wall after a false step on his bad ankle. You all see the following tableaus:
-A giant serpent coils in the underworld, devouring the dreams of sleeping creatures. -Yuan-ti terrorize humans, feeding their nightmares to the great serpent. -A yuan-ti, whose face you cannot see, wielding a flaming sword and wearing a gold crown set with a black opal leads the snake people to a great door to the underworld. -The door to the underworld opens, releasing the serpent. It devours the sun and plunges the world into terror and darkness.
As Ellis rests briefly against one of these reliefs, he notices a couple of things. The black opal in the crown sticks out and appears to be some sort of a button. Ellis also notices tiny holes hidden among the scales of the Night Serpent carvings.
A heavy-looking bronze door is closed and sits in the western wall of this room. Stylized carvings of scimitars and suits of armor adorn the door.
About 10 feet further south, on your left, a long corridor that slopes downward with a ramp begins and it leads east, deep into the temple. You continue on into this corridor.
You continue on down the corridor, and a hallway juts off going to your right, south a small way. The guards stop and one of them take Tempest by the chains and lead him down the hall, meaning that this must be the storeroom.
(Only Tempest would see the below)
Inside, Stacks of sturdy wood crates, bundles of cloth, and clay amphorae litter the floor. It is a mess and this might be a bit of a job by the looks of it, but you know things could be much worse.
Your attending guard calls out, "Azi Mas, a slave for you. A gift from Fenthaza. Do as you please with him, but he is here to help rearrange this storeroom." The guard says this as gently as he can, as if he is walking on eggshells. "I know you know where everything is, but, please, just consider putting this wretch to use."
From the shadows, a giant constrictor snake slithers out onto the floor to meet you. To your druid eyes, this does not appear to be a Yuan-ti, but an actual snake from the natural world, but it moves with intention, and there is a flicker of intelligence in its eyes. It opens its mouth and greets you in Common, "Greatingssssssss. I am Azi Massssssss.... you are?"
(Feel free to make a Nature roll, with advantage since you are a Druid, in addition to whatever else you'd like to roll)
The corridor continues, and at this point it becomes a four way intersection. To your left, (north), you see slightly into the high vaulted chamber that you think you saw earlier. Straight ahead (east), you see a very dimly lit room where foul odors waft out of. To your right (south), the corridor continues about 20 feet and lets out in a room. The party stops at the intersection and Liss'ard puts his scimitar at Ellis' back, and forces him to walk forward down the hall southward towards what must be the venom distillery.
(Only Ellis would see the below)
The air in here is moist and sticky. Natural light spills from cracks in the ceiling, and mud coats the floor. Stone workbenches are laden with clay bottles of various shapes and sizes. Toadstools, snakeroot, and belladonna plants grow among the clutter, fed by water seeping from above. Standing near the plants is a hairless man with scaly skin and a bronze syringe. Lurking in the shadows around him are five slouching humans that reek of decay.
Liss'ard calls out, "Xopallllll... I have a treat for you!" He pushes Ellis forward. "A gift from Fenthaza. Ssssshe made sssssure to give you the one with the broken ankle. He isssss to assssist you in your... craft. Fenthaza doesn't want to ssssee him dead for whatever reason. Do be on your guard. He doessssn't look like much, but he issss tricksiesssss. He hasss magicsssss." Liss'ard leaves you with Xopal, and the man does not make you feel very comfortable.
Xopal walks in close to you, sniffing and inspecting. His other servants shamble close, with vacant looks on their faces. He pushes them back as they draw near, and then they amble off in a different direction. He places the syringe close to your neck, but then relents.
Darion then continues on alone, accompanied by two guards and Liss'ard. You continue straight into the dimly lit room, heading east.
A rickety wooden walkway threads around the walls of a deep pit. Foul odors waft up from below. Somewhere in the gloom beneath you, thousands of snakes writhe.
The Yuan-ti walk confidently on the wooden walkway that clings to the wall of the dark, deep pit, but you uncontrollably nearly cling to the wall, sidling alongside it. Liss'ard jostles the walkway by jumping on it, causing you to flinch, and he breaks out in laughter. The other two guards simply look on. Liss'ard adds, darkly, "Thisssss isss my favorite place to bring disssobidient ssssslaves."
You see three entrances to this pit room. The west entrance, from which you came, a room to the south, and a room to the east. You are lead into the room to the south.