A view of Illmurea
After resting, the group considered how to infiltrate the enemy fortress. It was shaped like an immense, highly detailed snake, coiled around the rock in the lake, and spiraling up into the darkness far above. They set out climbing up its back. Eventually, they reached the top of its open-mouthed head.
With the others holding the rope, the merc, with Skweesh hanging on around his neck, attempted to swing into the mouth. Embarrassingly, Davor flubbed the Errol Flynn-like swing so Skweesh bailed and did a nice through the air summersault and stuck the landing (with a flourish), leaving the merc dangling for a moment.
Once the adventurers entered the stone serpent’s mouth, they were painfully battered by all of their agonizing memories and regrets with almost overwhelming oppression. Seralya and Nyles flew down, and Darve climbed down with the rope already set in place—all meeting the same experience to differing levels of regret and damage. Seralya grumbled as her familiar took significant damage from this ‘back door’ approach to entering the Fortress of a Thousand Fangs.
There was a floating enigmatic lens in the center of the room within the cavernous mouth, and a wall with two doors halfway down the snakes jaw. Nyles, the ever faithful cleric, healed the damage taken (and there was much rejoicing.) Both doors were examined and the northern door was breached whereupon the merc was immediately grabbed by a huge mass of floating snakes and tentacles.
The knight summoned his horse from its magical storage and moved around to charge, but was grabbed by the tentacles as well. The Merc used spells and his axe against it. Nyles healed, and the monster struck the witch’s pet dragon, and she retaliated with icy spears and hexes. Finally, the aberration was felled as the smurf pounced around, cutting away at the tentacles grabbing his friends.
The room was a large chamber, with an altar and a pool for collecting the blood of sacrifices. The bowl of nastiness was unceremoniously slid into the portable hole. They searched, and those educated in the magic arts discovered that the slowly rotating lens was a source of power, that could be interacted with by those with telepathic abilities, such as serpentfolk and the witch’s pet dragon. She protectively refused to volunteer him however.
Meanwhile, Nyles and Skweesh attempted to push the slowly rotating lens into the portable hole only to fail. Nyles also tried to douse it with holy water and paint it in his customary rainbow palette only to have both slide off it. With a cautionary clearing of the throat, Seralya persuaded them to move on.
A hidden room as also discovered behind the altar containing, among other treasures, priestly vestments, a spellbook, sacred relics for sacrifices, and a complete set of texts that would be worth something to the right researcher or collector.
Moving on in a downward spiral towards the base [making the DM reverse his research for the evening], they take their time actively searching for hidden doors and rooms and listening all the while for what may lie ahead.
They found another room apparently set aside for more religious duties, spells, and possibly sacrifices with anything not nailed down placed in the portable hole. These included; a block of incense of meditation, 10 flasks of consecrated gopher guts (evil blood stuff), 50lbs of powdered silver, and 100gp of hippy sandlewood incense to cover up the smell of cat pee and snake regurgitation.
Pressing on, they next came upon a vestibule with more magicky stuff which included; a finely carved and detailed statuette of a wizardy serpent folk (who will probably come to be known as a female named Khavith), 13 scrolls written in Aklo (worth about 10,000gp), a scroll of Clone, and a magic glowing spell book. The ever impulsive Merc opened the spellbook to examine it and a trap on it almost took the merc out of commission for several weeks, but fortunately, he shrugged it off as it crumbled into dust in his hands. How rude.
Lower down the tower, they entered a new room, this one a guard post full of serpent archers.
Seralya opened by filling the perfectly round 20’ chamber with black tentacles, unfortunately the snakes just managed to avoid becoming trapped. The merc animated four whirling daggers around him, Sir Darve and Skweesh moved in, and Nyles used his invisibility/illusory decoy trick to heal from the shadows until a snake figured it out. The guards apparently used their telepathy and flicking out their forked tongues scent-located Nyles, snapping around to look at him. One guard escaped (red 7—“I’m too fat!”—yes, I know he was red 6, but he was 7 in our game, damn it!), and the others were killed by the party.
After looting, [5x cure serious potions—several were guzzled leaving 2x by the end of the night, 5x MW Breastplate, 5x Heavy flail, and 5x Composite Long Bows +8] they went down to the next level, finding a chamber full of arcane equipment and two more archers and a mirror imaged serpentfolk wizard. It immediately raised a wall of acid between them and summoned tentacles on the other side. The party retreated up the sloping chamber, and Skweesh used a magic horn to summon 3 barbarians as the witch summoned a pair of babau assassin demons.
The summoned minions went in, the demons getting trapped in a spiked, crushing pit (now where have I seen that before?) and the barbarians were caught and eventually killed by the tentacles. After a momentary standoff, the serpent wizard and her minions suddenly appeared behind them, paralyzing all but the priest. The witch broke the effect with a greater dispel and saved everybody’s bacon, and then the guard snake archers ran forward and entered combat.
Soon, the snake wizard called up another wall of acid, directly on top of her own guards. The witch responded by teleporting the party to the other side. The group moved against Khavith.
Skweesh hurt her, but was trapped in a magic, near impenetrable box, with Khavith transferring half the injuries inflicted on her to him. The witch cast her hexes, and barely survived a lethal spell with Nyles aid. The witch also used her magic to help defeat the wizard’s mirror images.
The guards, hissing in pain from the acid but hurtling themselves through the wall, turned and attacked the party, nearly killing Dursar. Eventually, the guards were defeated, one by the demons with Darve’s help, with the other finished off by the witch draining its life out.
The merc battled the wizard, at one point taking the form of a giant dire frog in order to overpower her, and resisting an attempt to cast him into another plane. Sir Darve, deprived of his horse by the teleport, managed to hit her hard, but was turned to stone.
Nyles saved everyone’s lives several times over that day with his healing magic. Ultimately, the wizard seemed to be nearing the end of her extensive collection of spells. Finally, wrestled to the ground by the merc and the demons, badly injured, Khavith slashed her wrist with her dagger and vanished—seemingly instituting some contingency plan. At that moment, the statuette found in the priest’s rape room crumbled into dust. Skweesh lamented the loss of gold.
The party searched fruitlessly around the immediate area for her, freed the smurf-in-the-box, and collected the petrified knight and his (unpetrified) horse, and teleported back to town, where the process of turning his stone state back to flesh was a success. And there was much rejoicing.