Mialee explored the hillsides of the Cairn Hills frustrated in her search for some sort of clue as to the whereabouts of the so called “invisible fotress”. None of the birds and small critters seemed to be unduly disturbed. No pockets of negative energy or befouled florae spoke to any corrupting force that she could find. After two weeks of subtle investigation, Mialee reluctantly returned to the group of adventurers that have helped her quest progress thus far.
Alistair and Herek were not actively investigating, but rather setting up the team’s outpost at the recently vacated tower near mine 312. Their entrepreneurial spirit evidently felt that getting the miners organized and set up with a local village was more imminenetly important than the machinations of an evil mastermind intent on raising an army of the dead in the name of an ancient evil god. At least they were ultimately more productive than the druid’s two weeks camping trip.
Our favorite cleric of Pelor, of all people did manage to hear through his connections in the church about a troupe of explorers lost years ago while journeying through the Mist Marshes. The bit that commanded his attnetion was that this group was using a magic gemstone that allowed “true sight” in order to help them pick their way through the ruins of ancient civilizations’ temple structures as they combed for artifacts and treasure. Once the group was reassembled and this reported, our minds raced with anticipation. The Mist Marshes, of course is one of the earliest placest our crew first tested its teamwork and mettle, first trouncing one of the local populations of lizardmen, and subsequently befriending them.
The brainstorming began, as we tried to decide how we might use this old alliance to help us find the remains of the lost explorers and more importantly, their magical gem of true seeing. Kalik and Herek bought a collection of trinkets and metal tools (spear heads, knives, etc.) to barter with our local “allies” once found. Alistair set into the library of Castle Maure to research sites of ancient settlements, focusing naturally along rivers and tributaries with hopes that this might steer us along similar paths to our predesceccors. With a fairly good recollection of the settlement of the allied lizardmen, we set out in that direction.
As we passed the border of Greyhawk, we stopped to check in with the Griffon riders of skywatch, but gain no additional information, though we did manage to at least maintain a pleasant relationship for possible future dealings.
Mialee recognized faint notions of familiarity as we approached the swamp, as she had traveled through here as a small child with her father. She remembered quite different dealings with the lizard-folk at that time, and was surprised to find that in fact the tribe her companions had met before were indeed non-hostile. Kalik had recognized and remembered the name of a lizardman hunter, and carried out some brilliant diplomacy to get us led back to the tribal elder, a chief named Goostree. The party’s presents and priest of Pelor’s parlay pleased the patriarch, and persuaded him to lend us a guide.
From here, we set out two days in search of the temple of a snake god that sounded a lot like Beltan which was in the midst of the rival Shistak clan. As we had learned, they were led by a priest named Huatan and a large maul-toting warrior named Taran who was reported to be at one time dead. A scouting party of Shivek the guide, Mialee the ferret, and Teng the badass stayed a bit ahead of the rest, but were ambushed by two members of a hunting party. Having learned that approaching in a small group was dangerous, we rejoined the others and used Craw and the ferret form to give a better idea of what lay ahead.
We then sneaked upon the temple from behind the village and approached it in the dark of night. We carefully entered a carved stone entrance found ourselves in an underground ceremonial room. Support pillars and walls were adorned with snake-mouth scultpures of questionable function. Alistair did not like the look of them and took it upon himself to begin tying the hinged jaws shut while Herek and Teng approach the multi-armed statue of one of the aspects of Beltan. The hand held various offerings, including ceremonial kinfe, a wand, a ring, a necklace, and two gems. One of the two precious stones seemed to refract light differently and as it was peered through, it revealed the statue was in fact a demonic creature.
Herek sped up negotiations with the statue by hacking off the hand holding the gem of seeing, and of course this set in motion a disturbing sequence of events. The statue sprung to life and attacked viciously, though Herek’s defences deflected all but the luckiest blows. Water began pouring into the room from all the snake mouth spouts, albeit more slowly from the ones that were tied shut. Soon after, poisonous snakes added to the mayhem, and as we fended off attacks from all directions, Alistair was stricken with a numbing paralytic. Mialee’s magically resistant outfit was able to stave off the poisonous effects for only a short while longer. Once the rest had subdued the demonic statue and the rest of the snakes, they dragged their poisoned colleauges up into the stairwell to make our escape from the flooded room. With Alistair groggy but revived, he directed his magical wand to reshape the stone of the entrance, permanently blocking the passage behind our exit.
Into the nearby jungle we crept to nurse our wounds and plan our next move. As we discussed either staying to slay the evil necromancer or heading back now that we had our goal in hand (as well as a couple other nice trinkets looted from the many armed demon), our arguement became moot as we discovered they had learned of our defiling of the temple and were already tracking us. Shivek led us quickly ahead through the marsh until we found a defensible position. We lay in wait as the enemy approached with ten soldiers, a spell casting shaman, and a giant undead maul-swinging mo-fo. Mialee tried to take advantage of her ties to the plants of the area to entangle the attackers in vines and block passage with walls of thorny brambles. Our wizard exhausted the magical charges of the dwarven staff by exploding one of the ruined walls into the Shaman and undead foe. As our spellcasters exhausted their magical abilities and the enemy kept advancing, the hope of escape was fading. At long last, we stood together over our vanquished foe, exhausted and ready for a nap. Kalik of Pelor, at least, was quietly satisfied that we had not left the necromantic shaman Huatan to his own devices.