Sepent's Skull/ Zanton Edition

Of monstrous friends and friendly monsters

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Back in town after a day of replenishing supplies and training with her fellow witches, Seralya meets back up with the group prior to the night’s sleep.

“I certainly feel more powerful after this useful day. Darv, you are looking quite well too; all strong, virtuous, and fortuous. Hal, glad to have you back with us. For good, I hope.”

Pulling out a lump of wax, the young witch continues. “I met with some fellow sisters for the afternoon. A fine group. None as powerful as me, mind you, but still, we are all able to learn things from everyone if we just know were to look and can keep an open mind.”

The lump of wax turns into a roughly humanoid shape. “Today I learned how to sculpt animals. I made a fine stone representation of Dursar there. As beautiful as it is useful.”

The wax form begins to take on the form of a thinly muscular human; perhaps an archer or hunter… “I also had the opportunity to join a circle with my sisters to do some scouting. I wanted to make certain that our old blue friend is safe in his absence from us or, more accurately, absent from us and therefore safe.”… or an acrobat!

Final touches of hood and bladed weapons compete the figure as Seralya stares at PaoPao.

“Imagine my disbelief when I looked in on our one-time devotee and saw myself there as well.” Seralya evaluates her small wax statue as PaoPao turns around and runs directly into the far wall.

“Fifteen.” The ever-mindful witch steadies a small vase on a side table that began to topple over from the impact of PaoPao’s sudden fascination with the wall. “I’m certain you can understand how I felt and still feel. Why, when I saw it, I could hardly move and felt physically ill.”

PaoPao becomes Staggered and Sickened. “Fourteen.” Seralya rises from her chair and walks towards the fallen man. “You could say that what I saw caused my very being to plummet.”

PaoPao drops prone. “Thirteen.” Seralya’s eyes turn cold as she stares into PaoPao’s soul. “There are some things that even the most open of minds will not accept.” Magically digging into his mind, she said “You will never do anything that you even suspect will annoy me.”

Admiring her handiwork, Seralya secrets the figure into one of her many pockets and sits back down. “All in all, I’d say that this day was quite revealing. Would someone mind ringing for more tea? I’m not quite yet ready to retire. Still restless from the day’s events, I suppose.”

PaoPao agrees that he couldn’t fathom a circumstance whereby he would care enough to annoy Seralya.

Still, in Tien and too himself he mutters through a grin,“Totally worth it.”

Staying on top of the cut-throat world of drug/poison dealing requires a balance of intimidation and rewarding those loyal to you.

In Skweesh’s case it seemed more prudent to appeal to his baser urges. The reports of his vim and vigor and the smile on his face seems to indicate that this was the right choice.

Besides, it was all Rodrick’s idea anyway, but PaoPao keeps that to himself.

Turning invisible, walking through the wall, and dusting himself off in the next room he slides back in, goes to drop a bit of slightly nauseating poison into Seralya’s tea he just can’t bring himself to do so, and decides to just sit down and have some tea.

Although he moves to start pickpocket Seralya to get a closet look at the wax figure he finds himself unable again to do it. With a shoulder shrug he thinks ‘onward and upward’.

In Tien, he raises his cup of subpar Saventith Yhi tea and says, “To your health.”

Seralya smiles wistfully to herself as she watches PaoPao exit and return to the room lacking any sort of harshly retaliatory response. Thinking to herself that perhaps her True Seeing spell, while revealing, was not entirely necessary.

No matter, the night is upon us and the spell, while wasted, had no actual cost other than a required trip to the Cleric’s in the morning. I suppose it’s worth the gold to not have to keep making those visits, she muses while rubbing the knife wound on her palm.

In Tien "And to your fortune, my eternal friend. We must discuss your culture some day; I find that flourish you did with your hands while serving me my tea to be most… unique.

“I wonder what the original significance of those movements was.” Seralya does some gesturing of her own (detect poison cantrip) to expected results. “I feel that my attempt to copy them came up short. No matter.”

In Common “To all our healths and fortunes. Today was a fine day and tomorrow promises to be even better. I do not envy my… our… foes. Did you all have days as productive as mine?”

Rodrick, having been lost in the lovely pear shaped rump of the native girl across the way turns back, asking in surprise “Huh? what was that?” Looking to Hal he said, “What’d I miss?”

Hal, knowingly nods his head, but as always, is at a lack for words.

After resting, they returned to the Hunter’s Maze. Traveling a ways in, they came across a cyclops, frozen in time with a woman impaled on his blade.

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After carefully creeping around and searching out the room, Rodrick began breaking the stasis field around the giant. It began to flicker and fade, as the giant started to move again. Pao-Pao opened fire, Seralya cast a hex and demanded a surrender in common, the giant yelling something back in Azlanti.

Hal rushed in, and the two monsters crashed together, landing mighty blows.

Before the giant could be killed, Darve guessed that it was not responding to their attempts at communication due to only speaking ancient languages and called out that the party should try using Draconic.

The giant understood the ancient speech of the wyrms, and after a few tense moments, the battle was over.

The giant introduced himself as General Aveshi, companion of the ancient hero Savith.

His immensely strong and sentient sword Eroeme also declared it’s identity—and brilliance.

The party explained to the shocked cyclops what had happened in the 10 millenia since he was trapped in time. After the explanation, Aveshi agreed to join the group, to prevent the return of his ancient enemies.

He also explained that the woman he had killed was a serpentfolk assassin in human form, and that the spires of Saventh-Yhi were actually drills designed to carry an army down to Illmurea.

Moving through along, the group dispatched a squad of urdefhans without incident—just some spawn of pure evil; nothing to worry about.

In the maze, a museum like chamber full of artifacts was discovered. When the party wondered how to get in, the cyclops general smashed open a case, and the loot was taken.

The team came to a door, and PaoPao invisibly ghosted through it. On the other side he found a Astradaemon snacking on the soul of a poor morlock.

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Also in the room were two ordinary urdefhans and a fancily head-dressed one.

Hal and Darve charged the Astradaemon, blasting it out of existence.

The major urdefhan was slain as well. The two remaining guards, knowing they were doomed, leapt at Hal, exploding to no effect.

The party found that the maze had nothing more of value to them, and teleported back to Saventh-Yhi.

The party split up for a while, and General Aveshi went to tour the ruins of the city constructed in honor of his old friend.

The city soon began to prepare for war, Aveshi giving advice as the Sargavan troops were assembled to battle the snakes.

It was then that the Coils of Ydersius would make their move.

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Seralya traveled to the Artisan District to investigate the Azlanti artifacts, with a woman she had met by the name of Marrell Bunell, who had requested her assistance.

Aware that the location has a reputation for being haunted, she divided her attention between the writing that she had before her and the surroundings; an easy task, given that she can easily decipher any language for 16 minutes a day instead of having to painstakingly transcribe and translate.

Upon feeling something slide along her legs, but unable to see any physical form, the witch used True Seeing and discovered a rather large serpent getting ready to attack. Upon a narrow miss by the snake and a useless search for the invisible by Ms. Bunell, the fight was ended as the cold-blooded snake became an ice-entombed corpse.

Her caution rewarded, Seralya went back to her reading as the other woman buried a dagger deep into the witch’s side, endangering her lovely and most vital of organs. Swiftly, and with a mere thought, said lovely organs moved out of the way of the blade and the surprised witch turned to face her new adversary.

“That was a… mistake” the witch cried out as her body turned into ice, as cold as her expression.

Dursar came to his master’s aid with a timely Grease spell on the attacker’s weapon. The attacker’s more timely ability to pull the knife away from the spell proved Dursar to be ineffective, though.

Apparently on a mission, the serpentfolk in human clothing attacked the Witch again. Despite the dagger’s magical abilities bypassing the witch’s newfound damage reduction, it could not get past her immunity to critical hits and poison. Nor could it prevent a stored Vampiric Touch in her bracers being activated.

Following another failed attempt by the dragon at disarming the creature, Seralya redoubled her attack with a similarly failed Evil-Eye due to the creature’s immunity, and an almost identically failed glitterdust.

Finding her dagger attacks to be of limited use, the serpentfolk changed to a new tactic of Domination. Seralya likewise changed tactics to Misfortune, after a slight tickling at the back of her head.

A final failed attempt at Grease, a clumsy dagger attack, and a glorious Ice Tomb later left the witch standing over a prone serpentfolk.

After a minute of chipping away at the ice, Seralya freed the poor soul. “The dagger was one thing, but you should know that the only way in my head is through decent philosophical debate, not a sad attempt at magic. Allow me to make sure that does not happen again.”

Seralya robbed the assassin of her mind, leaving her little more than a brainless wreck wandering the jungle.

After relieving the serpentfolk of all her equipment and determining that there is no value, intrinsic or otherwise, in the writings of the chamber, Seralya returned to meet the rest of her party.

Sir Darvan was approached by a man claiming to be from the tribe ruled by the insane Radiant Muse. He said that he wished to leave his deity, and choose a new one, asking Darve to accompany him out into the jungle for a purification ritual. Darve went with him after leaving notice of where he had gone.

Out in the woods, as the false “ritual” commenced, the assassin stabbed Darve in the back. Darve narrowly resisted an attempt at domination, and leapt onto his horse, rushing back to warn his friends about the assassins. The serpent teleported in front of Darve, cutting off his escape. Using magic, the killer forced Darve to dismount and remove all his armor and gear.

As Darve complied, his steed attempted mightly to beat on the assassin. The assassin tried to subvert the horse, but Bree’s will was unexepectedly strong. Darve told it to run and bring the cyclops, and it dutifully ran to do so.

As he was dropped his Golden Lion figurines, Darve spoke the command word, and the lions appeared and rushed the killer, grappling him. Unable to use his weapons, the knight beat the assassin to death with his bare hands.

PaoPao was approached by WowWow whom he had previously connected with concerning poison and drug trading. She wanted to discuss the locations and types of poisons or drug precursors that are available in the deeper recesses of the serpent world. Doing her best Mae West, she suggested they go back to her place. Figuring, ‘What the hell,’ he agreed to meet her under a cautious eye.

She took him into her parlor and proceeded to tell a most convincing story, complete with papers, detailing some varied types of poisons and creatures that dwell in the darkness. She kept making non-too-subtle passes and trying to ply him with drinks.

PaoPao tries a bit of sleight of hand to fake imbibing the drink she offered, but she caught him in the act. “Come now, you can trust me. See?” as she takes a drink of her own. “No offense, but this is not my first dance with seduction and poisons. I do not know you, so we will leave it at that. Now, about those papers?” PaoPao notes that she is hiding one of the papers she is shuffling and determines, given the chance, he will pop invisible and take a look.

She pushes repeatedly that he should come to bed and they should forget the trade for a little while. “Well, her canines don’t seem to be leaking any venom, what the hell,” he thinks to himself and follows her to her bedchamber. As he is undressing he doses himself with a protection from evil potion from his poisoner’s glove.

Things progress in congress as PaoPao indulges but keeps up his guard…among other things.

As passions reach a crescendo time seems to slow to a crawl as a premonition plays out in PaoPao’s mind. He sees this temptress deftly draw out a wicked blade shimmering purple and drive it into his abdomen angled up into his heart. Death is instantaneous as an evil smirk dances across this black widow’s beautiful face.

Things return to clear focus as time snaps back to normal. PaoPao easily rolls just enough to avoid the dagger as it stabs into the bed, but she cuts him as she draws it out of the cushion and he can feel the sting of quality poison course through him. But, poison being his stock and trade, her dose was insufficient this time as he had already built up a tolerance. In a flash of the wrist he slices her chest with a stunning hit that explodes with lightning and thunder as he tumbles out from under her.

Facing off naked and calmly angry the assassins circle each other as a swirl of dagger and falchion clash before WowWow blinks away.

“Hmm, usually it’s me who slips away leaving the woman in bed. No matter, the scar I’ve given her will mark her for death the next time we meet,” he thinks as he looks for his pants. One more thought occurs as he finishes gathering his things, “I thought she felt a bit colder than my usual company. Too bad I missed out on milking her fangs. Bitch.”

Rodrick was approached by a guard, who requested permission for his squad to spar with Hal. The summoner agreed, and they went off.

Rodrick spectated as the soldiers struggled to keep up with his monster as they were playfully smacked around the ring, and was offered ale. The drink seemed to hit a bit harder than it should have but Rodrick shrugged it off.

The assassin chose then to strike, driving their knife deep into Rodrick.

The summoner cried out, and he swapped places with his eidolon.
The serpent assassin was left staring into the gaping maw of Hal.

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Hal proceeded to unleash one of the greatest beat downs this side of the planes as he pummeled his masters attacker. In moments, the assassin was unconscious in the dirt.

The soldiers were discovered have been dominated as a cover for the attempted murder. Rodrick returned to town, dragging his bloodied attacker behind him.

Back together again, the party interrogated the captive serpentfolk. They were approached during the interrogation by the authorities, and after they truthfully explained the situation, some panic and paranoia began to spread among the city, as anyone could be an assassin.

Some time after the assassin attack, Darve approached Seralya.

“Madame Seralya, if I may have a moment?”

“It has begun to concern me that I have trouble resisting the mind controlling magic of our enemies. To combat this weakness…” Darve turns to his horse, and points at Seralya.

“Bree, Serve.”

Turning back, the knight continued. “He will now follow your orders with the same authority as myself. Should you feel the need, you can belay my orders, or even instruct him to throw me.”

The Witch replied “Master Cavalier, you honor me with such a responsibility. May that time never come.”

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Zanton RonW

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