The iron stench of blood floods this chamber. Along one wall, a row of gore-filled pools sink into the floor. Blood trails and bloody footprints run between the pools.
Three human-like yuan-ti and two snake-bodied yuan-ti currently bathe in the warm blood pools. One emaciated human man in a loincloth attends to their every need. As they see you enter, they don't say a word. They simply float to the edge of their pools and relax, laying down with their back splayed out, as if they were awaiting a massage. Each has a personalized scrub brush for their scales sitting near their pool.
Liss'ard says, "Enjoyyyyy. Get ssssssome good practicccce and you can do me when you get back to the ssssslave pit later tonight." His tongue flickers and he turns away.
You see anothe room adjoined to this room. Steam pours out from this room and it is sticky humid. It is too steamy to see into without getting closer.
"I am Tempest. I am here to serve at your discretion. How can i assist you?" Tempest asks as he looks around the room. Once he is given orders he will quickly jump to them following them as closely as he can. He will look over the room for any spare pieces of thin wood 4-6 inches long. If at any point Azi and my guard are out of sight he will try to put two small pieces under his leather tunic.
As they were going towards the gates, Ellis jumped and almost squealed when the snake-like creatures hissed and snapped at them, rushing towards them but being pulled back. He gulped as the Yuan-ti said that they won't get so lucky next time. Dalen was stopped in the next room, the triceratops pen that he was supposed to be working in while the rest of them kept going on. They had been walking through the hall with the reliefs that depicted a giant serpent and Yuan-ti worshippers, a bit fascinated by how artistically detailed they were. He ended up looking close at them and noticing some stuff, knowing that he will have to remember all of this for later as they continued on. They were going down a corridor, seeing Tempest get taken off and guessed the storeroom must be that way. Soon him and Darion kept going on until they got to a four-way intersection before feeling the scimitar at his back, forced to walk down the hall to the south toward the poison distillery. Ellis could feel how moist and sticky it was in the room, seeing all the mud, clay bottles, and the plants before noticing the Yuan-ti man with a syringe and five humans that smelled of decay. What happened to them? He heard as Liss'ard called out, being pushed forward and wincing as his broken ankle hurt from the pressure before Liss'ard told Xopal that he would be helping with his craft and that Fenthaza doesn't want to see him dead for whatever reason. Was that what being marked meant, only he would get to live for slightly longer than the others? Liss'ard left as Ellis was not comfortable being alone with this Yuan-ti, stiffening when the other came close and was sniffing and inspecting him. He shivered at seeing the vacant-looking servants come close and then gulping at the syringe placed close to his neck before sighing in relief. "I-I'm Ellis. What would you like me to do for you?" he had then politely said to Xopal as he bowed his head, nervous. He hoped that whatever he has to do won't be too difficult, feeling bad for the others who have to do physical labor. Ellis will do whatever Xopal tells him to do exactly and obediently while being very careful as well due to working with deadly poisons.
((OOC, Daner got dropped off in area 2, the Hall of War. You probably couldn’t tell because I accidentally calls him “Dalen,” whoops! Also, I agree that Darion’s portent ability won’t force a reroll even if they have adv or disadvantage; they simply get the number of your portent!))
Darion will start of by doing the tasks uncomplainingly, though has to try and control his utter disgust and revulsion at both the gore, and the Yuan-ti themselves.
Deception (I guess!): 10
He will not show deference, but nor will he do anything antagonistic or give them cheek. Initially he will remain quiet unless spoken to, and will keep his answers short and to the point. He is polite to the other slave, but will not particularly try and draw him in conversation (unless they are alone with no Yuan-ti around, in which case he will gently pry for some general information about where they are). He will spend a while getting used to the routine, exploring both rooms when he is allowed. After a few hours have passed he will start to look for some opportunities to get more information from the Yuan-ti - if there are any that look like they will engage, even to mock or degrade he will wait until one of the rooms is free.
Would this require a Perception check?: 21
He will then just wander into that room and, as stealthily as he can, cast Detect Thoughts, then hide the wand again.
Stealth / SoH: 7
EDIT: Awful roll, so I will use a luck point: 16
If there is a particular Yuan-ti that tries to 'perceive' this, Darion will reach into the weave of possibility and use his Portent so they roll an 8.
He will then return to the room, and if they engage him, he will make some comment along the line of
"When I was dragged here, with all my things taken, I thought the only way out was to escape. I wished I could just teleport out like some hero! But your mistress has given me another chance"
It wouldn't necessarily be those exact words - but what Darion is trying to do with some of the keywords (things taken, escape, teleport) was use Detect Thoughts to scan their mind (on the surface level, he will not try and go deeper as that would reveal what he is doing) and see if any images / thoughts etc flicker through that might give some clues about where their things are, ways to escape and information about the teleportation circle. I guess there would be a Deception or Persuasion roll in there, which Darion is not good at so instead, Darion will focus his mind on the weave of possibilities and pull on one of those threads - He uses his Portent roll of 17
Dec / Pers: 17
If there are no 'talkative' Yuan-ti as the day goes on, Darion will still try the 'Detect Thoughts' thing, but just spend a minute looking into the surface thoughts of any Yuan-ti there (again, he will not use the deeper probe as that would instantly give the game away) to see if he can glean anything helpful.
If there is never a chance to stealthily cast the spell, Darion won't take that chance and just knuckle down resentfully for the day.
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 Daner'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.
Daner watches as the others are led out of the hall and deeper into the structure. Hopefully, they would see each other again that evening. They were his only chance of escape. The green flickering torches on the wall gave the space an otherworldly feel that unnerved Daner. As he studies the area one of the guards yanks on his cuffs, directing him to his work. The pen ahead of him was in serious need of cleaning. Either these animals were extremely disgusting, or they had had no servant helping them for some time. Daner's goal here was simply to make it back to the pen and to the others safely. If he managed to glean a little useful information along the way then that would be great.
Daner looks around for the cleaning implements, a shovel or pitchfork, even a stick, and sets about mucking the stall. He also looks to see if there is some source of water to clean up as he goes. Even though he never wanted to be in this position again, his life depended on his attitude in this moment. Assessing the load of work ahead of him he decided that the best approach would be to get rid of the larger piles first before coming back to scrub if he had time. As he shovelled, Daner listened carefully for anything that he might overhear that could be useful.
(First up, let's try starting with Ellis. Thanks for your patience, players!)
As Xopal removes the bronze syringe from Ellis' neck, he states, very matter of factly, to himself, "Less useful dead. Know it kills human. Would only serve as cheap thrill. Not effective use of resource."
Xopal looks to one of his servants ambling about, and then sticks the syringe into his neck. The target makes a groan and convulses for a little bit, but he remains standing. It then continues shambling about the chamber. Xopal appears frustrated, sets the syringe down and then opens up a journal. He narrates himself as he writes,
"Compound 987 unable to overcome innate poison resistance of undead. Compound failure. Resuming experimentation with new compound. Increase dosage of Zuggtmoy Stalk. Will ascend."
He closes the journal. Xopal picks up a sack and pushes it into Ellis' chest without even making eye contact, "Go, pick fungus. Do not consume. Go back out of this room. Take right. Go across pit of snakes. Open door. Cross stone bridge to fungi cavern. Pick fungus. Return fungus to me." If Ellis hesitates, Xopal loudly and irritably yells, "GO!"
You see many exotic plants and compounds in the room, ad vials of all different colors. The zombies in the room keep circling back ever closer to you the longer you tarry. To the south of the room, you see a closed door emblazoned with the symbol of a circle stylized as a snake eating its own tail.
Ellis was confused, hearing Xopal and then was shocked when he stuck the syringe into one of the other. It was even more surprising when they convulsed but stayed standing, watching Xopal open a journal, hearing him as he wrote. Is he trying to figure out how to poison even the undead? He felt the sack suddenly pushed into his chest, holding it and then hearing the instructions. He is getting to leave the room? He jumped as Xopal yelled, nodding back quickly. Before he left, he saw a closed door to the south, curious about it but needed to go as he didn't like those zombies getting close to him either. Ellis left the room, remembering to go right before he arrived at the next room, stunned. A deep pit full of thousands of writhing snakes with only a wooden walkway along the walls, making Ellis extremely scared. If he falls down in there, he is doomed. So he started going on the walkway, clinging to the wall and sliding alongside it, being very careful with his broken ankle and to not trip or fall. Once he made it across, he would open the door and make sure to cross the stone bride to a fungi cavern. There he would quickly pick the fungus before making his way back to the poison distillery, giving the sack to Xopal. Ellis would then continue to do as Xopal asks obediently, knowing that he never wants to go through that pit of snakes ever again.
(OCC: Going to a convention after work tomorrow, so I won't be able to post again after this until I get back Sunday evening or Monday after work.)
Tempest likely figured that there would be too many eyes to risk using Mold Earth to leave a trail. However, if he ever tested the waters to see if his magic was dampened, he surmised that it was not.
The snake peers into your eyes and, while it does not wear any human expressions, it nods along and tracks with your eyes in a knowing way. With your Nature check, and being that you are a Druid, you know that there is something special going on here. The most likely situation is that this snake, Azi Mas, was the subject of a druid’s Awakening spell; powerful magic that you hope to master one day yourself.
Azi Mas directs you in how you should rearrange the room. Your head is swimming and adrenaline pumping far too much for you to get a good grip on the contents of the various barrels and chest. Some chests are light, and some are exceedingly heavy. You see some adventuring gear strewn about, but you can’t figure out the system to determine where particular items, like your confiscated weapons or armor, might be hidden.
You can tell that Azi Mas certainly takes his role in the temple seriously, and he is loyal to the Yuan Ti. However, he is bored, and he is a chatter box. He talks to you about everything under the sun. You feel like you could lead him into speaking about things that he probably shouldn’t talk about.
You successfully find the exact sort of piece of wood that you were looking for.
((I may have missed something, typing real quick on a break. More maybe to follow, but feel free to make any more checks till I get back!))
Tempest will set to his task as quickly and efficiently as possible. He'll listen intently and somewhat curiously to the snake who he feels a connection to being a druid of nature. After a couple hours of working Tempest finally finds what hes looking for and remembers its location seeing Azi watching closely and waits another hour before slipping it into his tunic as Azi moved away to look over the contents of the next box to be moved. Another hour goes by and Tempest is starting to get tired as sweat beads on his skin. He loses count of how many boxes and barrels he's moved but is intrigued by the snake's open personality.
Tempest begins to converse rather than respond in kind and starts to share about the nature around his home. He talks of the pool, waterfall and the many creatures that wandered about the area. He tries to connect with the snake and asks if he's always been at the temple. How he came to speak common and how he came to be the keeper of the storeroom. If none of the previous questions seemed to offend Azi he'll carefully ask if Azi gets any time to spend outside among nature or if he's forced to stay in the temple. Tempest will watch Azi's demeanor with each question and if he feels he's over stepped his bounds will simply brush it off and return to his duties shifting topics to a question about a barrel and where it should be placed. Throughout the conversation Tempest will be respectful and appear to be grateful for the mercy shown by Fenthaza and the opportunity to serve with such a wise creature as Azi. By the end of the day, Tempest is ready to return to the pit where he can rest. (assuming the stealth roll carries over) Before he leaves he'll wait for the perfect moment to stealthily cast Goodberry eating one and placing the remaining berries in his pocket.
Persuasion: 17 (trying to get more info about the temple and Azi's past.)
Insight: 21 (To make sure I'm not pushing Azi's buttons.)
History: 20 (To see if anything Azi talks about rings a bell)
Darion carries out his craft with the art of a master smuggler. He easily finds an opportunity to cast his spell, and he does so. The yuan-ti in this room are totally relaxed and were paying little heed to him. Initially, the spell detects vain and base thoughts. The yuan-ti are relaxed. The relaxation is only broken by the occasional fretting over Dendar the Night Serpent being banished from the sky. In here, the yuan-ti's reign was strong, god-serpent or not.
Some conversation did come up naturally, and you were able to piece additional bits together with the spell. You hear a yuan-ti, a particularly devout one, talk about the high priestess, Fenthaza. This yuan-ti mentions that he heard that Fenthaza had a prophetic dream about the Black Opal Crown. Gleaning deeper with the spell, you discover that this is a treasure which the yuan-ti believe has the power to usher forth Dendar the Night Serpent.
You also hear chatter about the differences between Fenthaza and Slithotep. Though Slithotep was the undisputed leader of the temple, Fenthaza was the spiritual center. Fenthaza was the true believer, but in the times since the day returned to the sky, Slithotep had turned his focus to become more practical and martial. Some thought that he was working for his own self-aggrandizement, but this was a charge that other yuan-ti leveled at Fenthaza.
Finally, you divine the phrase "white feather, black mask" over and over, as if one of the yuan-ti were trying to drill it down into their head and commit it to memory.
In regards to teleportation, you sense that the word is heavily associated with Slithotep. Fleeting thoughts of the slave pit, the fane, and a harem come to mind. In regards to the words "escape," your subjects don't imagine it as a possibility. However, one yuan-ti seems to remember something about another way, besides the front gate.
You wander into the sauna area. Heat rises from an enormous oval stone set into the floor of this chamber. Discarded skins are heaped around it, and shelves underneath it are lined with jars. A snake-headed yuan-ti sheds his skin here, relaxing in the heat. The oval stone is 8 feet tall and made of porous rock. Situated atop a volcanic vent, it transfers heat evenly throughout the room.
The yuan-ti, who appears well-groomed and important, initially reacts with wrath to being disturbed, but he then immediately commands you to come and smear ointment on his skin to expedite the shedding process. The jars of ointment line shelves underneath the oval stone.
Darion is pleased at how much he was able to glean. Still, he is aware of the dangerousness of what he is doing, and feels he has pushed Tymora's blessings quite far. Darion is feeling a mixture of emotions; fear, but also an almost euphoric sense of achievement, getting one over the Yuan-ti. Still, he tries to calm himself - getting too carried away could get them all killed.
In the steam room he immediately does what he is asked, though utterly revolted by the task. Bearing in mind his desire to be cautious he won't push things with this Yuan-ti - if there is any conversation he will go along with it and see what he can glean, but won't try and force anything.
If needed, persuasion: 16
After that, Darion's main aim is to get back to his companions safely, so will focus on getting the job done without taking any more risks.
OOC: that was very generous with the info with Detect Thoughts... As it lasts for only a short time, I'll mark it as cast twice!
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
Daner set to work with the habituation of one used to a long, hard life of servitude. The lack of grumbling and timidness gave the yuan-ti watching over him, hoping to lord his status, no pleasure, and the creature quickly got back to making his rounds and eating his snacks, paying little mind to Daner. The yuan-ti are generally fastidious creatures when it comes to clutter (if not gore), so Daner had a hard time finding discarded items. However, he did find occasional items that some would have shrugged at finding and simply tossed into the dinosaur dung. Daner finds a comb, a hair pin, and a small, stained scripture book of Tyr. Daner also sees some large dinosaur bones (who knows where they came from) that he figured might could be used as an obtuse cudgel in a pinch.
Daner keeps a low profile and is able to note a number of things about his surroundings. In the dark alcove to his west, what seem like chewed bits of stones litter the floor, and some shadowy scaled creature rests in the darkness, moving very little. A clinky noise makes him think that whatever it is has been chained up. (Can roll Nature if you want)
Daner notes the large ornate gong that stands on the platform overlooking the large room to his east, about 35 feet away from him. Daner figures that a gong of this size must make a thunderous sound. If something struck it the entire complex would be alerted. This was probably used as an alarm of sorts.
Daner overhears some yuan-ti in the room conversing. The gatekeeper in the entrance room to his north was named Nahth. Apparently he was well-known to take a bribe. The snacking yuan-ti who oversaw Daner in this room apparently bribes Nahth to allow him to sneak contraband into the temple. Another yuan-ti resented this as Nahth would look the other way if a guard wanted to shirk his duty and spend a shift outside.
Finally, Daner also got to witness several parties of armed yuan-ti come and go, sometimes returning with slaves from raids. Before heading out, and upon returning, the yuan-ti would go to the room on the west side of the camber with the murals in it, to Daner's south. He couldn't hear it from here, but the Yuan-ti would have to say something before the door would open. They would deposit their weapons and armor in this room.
((Sorry for the bold type; it won't let me change it. Also sorry for the slow posting. Hence why me being the DM was going to be a challenge! I still have my eye on this though. Don't worry!))
Daner was relieved to see that the guard here was not to particular about watching over him. It may have been the resigned nature with which he worked or it may be the fact that he couldn’t really get his hands on anything but a pile of manure.
He heard te clinking sound of chains coming from a dark alcove, but the few sounds and glimpses of shape were not enough to let him know what was in there. What ever it was, it was dangerous enough that it needed to be controlled.
As Daner worked he can across some miscellaneous items. The comb and the book didn’t seem like much help, but maybe te hairpin could be of use. He picked it up and pocketed it to she to the others later. He also stacked the later bones to one side, where they could be easily in reach.
As as he worked he watched, observing the comings and goings of the guards. The room to the south was where he wanted to get to. Behind that door he believed he would find useful equipment, maybe even his own stuff that had been taken from him when he was handed over. There appeared to be a spell of some kind on the door though. Hopefully, one of the other would have some way to deal with it.
Daner continues to work throughout the day, asking if needed, for a little food and water.
DM: Quick question, how long is it since Dendar has been banished from the sky? I know it is quite recent but are we talking a few years / few decades? Also, I am in awe you can even think to post with a very little one - I was like a zombie for months when my two were born!
Also, trying to do a map of this place; I was confused about the prisoner pit, Fenthaza's room and the alter. Where are they in relation to each other (in my mind the prisoner pit is to the south? EDIT: Despite the fact you clearly said the door was to the west. Sigh.
Ellis crosses the terrifying snake pit without incident (but not without fear). He makes for the east door in the snake pit room, walking along the wooden scaffoling that clung to the walls. If Ellis was listening, he might hear Darion deftly interrogating his captors in the blood sauna as he passed by that room.
In this pit room, the stone-masonry gives way to natural formation, and as Ellis enters the eastern door, he sees that it is but a cave entrance. It is hard to reckon the dimensions, but Ellis sees an underground river open before him. Stalactites hang low over its surface, and dropping water echoes in the dark.
To his left (north), Ellis sees the green glow of torches upriver. They illuminate stonework steps that descend into the water from a wide archway. He can see two canoes moored next to the steps. To his right (south) the underground river widens to form a flooded grotto. Near the middle of the grotto, bones cling like a tide mark to a rocky pillar that juts up out of the water. It is dark in here, and Ellis cannot make out what lies beyond the pillar, but the underground river seems to continue at least some ways.
Immediately in front of Ellis (east) a natural stone archway forms a bridge over the underground river. It is narrow and slick, and there are no handholds, but it is traversable if you go slow. The soft phosphorescent light of bioluminescence defines the dimensions of a dark recess in the cave wall on the opposite side of the stone bridge. Inside, the passage widens into a cavern filled with fungi. Toadstools, puffballs, and other tuberous growths cover the walls and floor. Against the far wall, a malformed skeleton lies buried under a patch of buttery mold. A brass key hangs around its neck.
(You may roll Perception, Nature, and anything else that you think you might like to roll)
((OOC: We'll say that Dendar has been banished for coming up on 10 years. Enough time for the natural world to largely bounce back, and for the yuan-ti to have experienced significant slippage in their power, but short enough that it is very recent memory and that the yuan-ti are still the dominant threat in the world.
As for the layout of the map, imagine the first part you were in as part of a smaller case "r". Where the two lines meet is the front gate room. The little arm of the r shoots off east, and headed that way you find Fenthaza's quarters, the altar room, and the slave pits. The straight up and down long arm of the r is the Hall of War and the room with the murals.))
Tempest begins to converse rather than respond in kind and starts to share about the nature around his home. He talks of the pool, waterfall and the many creatures that wandered about the area. He tries to connect with the snake and asks if he's always been at the temple. How he came to speak common and how he came to be the keeper of the storeroom. If none of the previous questions seemed to offend Azi he'll carefully ask if Azi gets any time to spend outside among nature or if he's forced to stay in the temple. Tempest will watch Azi's demeanor with each question and if he feels he's over stepped his bounds will simply brush it off and return to his duties shifting topics to a question about a barrel and where it should be placed. Throughout the conversation Tempest will be respectful and appear to be grateful for the mercy shown by Fenthaza and the opportunity to serve with such a wise creature as Azi.
Azi Mas is elated to be able to talk with Tempest, and he seems to form a real connection with Tempest. All the same, as Azi Mas gabs on, you get the impression that this is merely one gossipy snake who likes to talk, and who will tell anyone anything, at length. Perhaps this is why this benign duty was considered slave labor by the yuan-ti, who must quickly get bored with the snake. You can tell that the snake enjoys talking to you, but you can also tell that he hardly regards the yuan-ti as captors, and he considers them more like coworkers or friends. Though he is loose-lipped and generally not as cruel as the yuan-ti, you don't suspect that he discontent to double-cross the yuan-ti. He says that he misses the jungle, but that he enjoys his job. He says that he doesn't get out much, but he says that when he does, he enjoys going to the underground river and taking a cool dip. He emphasizes the need to stay very close to the shore when doing so.
He explains that his old master was a powerful druid who decided to awaken him with druidic magic. The druid taught him common, and he says that they went on many adventures together. Azi Mas says that he served his master well, but that his master met an untimely end in a dungeon near the Peaks of Flame. Azi Mas wandered the jungle for years until he found the yuan-ti, who he says "just sort of get me, you know?"
With your great rolls, through talking about his job, you guide Azi into revealing that the gear that was confiscated from you would most certainly be somewhere in all of these boxes in this very room.
As you work long, Azi's lips get even looser, and he switches to speaking druidic so that he isn't overhead, "I probably shouldn't let you in on thisss little gosssip...buuuuuuut... it'sssss not like you won't be sacrificcced in a few days anyway, right?" Azi Mas shares his suspicion that Fenthaza is planning a coup against Slithotep. The two have recently developed many differences in philosophy, and Fenthaza has gathered more and more sympathy from the rank and file. Azi Mas says that he likes them both, and is very worried that things will get out of hand and destroy the good thing that he has going for him.