Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Finding Sakatha's Palace

Beatriss, Tetsukichi & co. arrived in Kumwei without any notable incidents, and found the wayside settlement nearly deserted. Based on the advice of the warrior they'd met on the side of the road, they investigated an unusual rock formation about a quarter mile outside the settlement. They approached during the middle of the day, walking across the wide dry plain that separated the pile of rocks from Kumwei. Drawing close, they saw the dark opening of a cave, and used magic to cover the sound of their approach. They found the cave empty. There were remains of a fire and some debris, but no evidence of permanent habitation. Never victims of over-thinking, Beatriss and Tetskuchi returned to the village and took up residence at the deserted inn. They spent a couple days in Kumwei, resting after their injuries in the battle on the bridge. During this time Beatriss and Tetskuchi discovered that there was one remaining resident, a crazy man named Manis who lived in a hut facing the Sea Sand. They refused his offer of food, but were keen to hear what he knew about Sakatha. He claimed to know the great Lizard King and to have visited his palace. Yes, he agreed to take them there. The next three days were long and arduous. The landscape was generally dry, but they occasionally encountered meandering streams and pools of brackish water.
The Marsh Before the Dunes by stelih
The Marsh Before the Dunes, a photo by stelih on Flickr.
As they progressed, the pools they encountered were larger and more common-- and inhabited. Giant frogs, aggressive lizards, a swimming snake-- the party learned to stay away from the water. Sakatha's palace of course was surrounded by water. There was a rocky island, fronted by a roofless colonnade and a flight of steps leading down to the 30-foot expanse of water separating this edifice from the muddy sand where the party tied their horses and stood surveying the scene. But rather than venture into the water, the party circled the island and found that it was in fact a near-peninsula. The party filed across a narrow spit onto the island, and then picked a path around the side and then onto the top of the island.
don't roll a 1 by Brayodon't roll a 1, a photo by Brayo on Flickr.
They found a place where they could look down onto the colonnade-- they spied a pair of archers, both pointing nocked arrows in the direction of the horses. Judging them to be brigands or otherwise affiliated with Sakatha, Afu used his magic to transfix them in place. The party waited. More brigands emerged from the the building beneath them, charging toward the front of the colonnade to meet their imagined enemy. Most of these were also transfixed. The lone exception turned and saw the real enemy. He- and the half-dozen Brigands who answered his call were cut down by the party's arrows. The party clambered down onto the portico and ventured into Sakatha's palace. They found themselves in large room with a tiled floor and walls painted with lizardmen ravaging the lands of humans. There were three large pools of water-- each of them began bubbling soon after the party entered the chamber. Within moments, a watery form rose from the pools, shaping itself into a vicious snake. Most of the party members retreated to the sides of the chamber while the strongest warriors: Beatriss, Tetskuchi, and Al-Fitar battled the water creatures one at-a-time. When the water creatures were destroyed, Beatriss asked Manis what he knew about the room. He showed her the place in the floor where a trapdoor could be lifted. And he showed her the section of wall behind which the dragon lived. Before Beatriss could ask any more questions, the pools began to bubble again. Also, a section of the wall began to slide open.
Chinese Silk Painting, a photo by Vivek 181088 on Flickr.
Chinese Silk Painting by Vivek 181088The spell casters and other vulnerable party members retreated from the pool chamber, while four of the warriors-- Beatriss, Tetsukichi, Al-Fitar, and Naron, readied their bows and stood in a semi-circle with their arrows pointed at the opening in the wall. They opening grew wider, a massive reptilian head and began to speak in a deep, rasping voice. The warriors loosed a volley of arrows, drew their swords and charged from sides, slashing at the dragon's neck. Hampered by its own massive bulk in the narrow passage, the dragon flailed with its claws and thrashed its head from side to side, snapping at the air. The flashing blades of the warriors slashing at the dragon's neck and torso, spilling its black blood on the tiles and on each other. At last with a mighty heave, the dragon pushed itself through the chamber and toward the open air, battering the warriors with its wings. Al-Fitar was struck by a claw and Naron was sent reeling. Tetsukichi dived out of its way to avoid being trampled. Beatriss feinted and then followed close behind it. As the dragon emerged from the pool chamber and lifted its bulk into the air, Beatriss struck a final terrible blow at the thickest part of its tail. The dragon tumbled to the ground and before it could re-ascend, the warriors attacked it with abandon. It vomited a thick stream of black acid and then dropped its head and died. The party lit torches and entered the dragon's lair. They followed a long dank passage into a large chamber where their torch light caught the gleam of an enormous pile of coins. After emptying their rucksacks and fashioning their cloaks into bags, they began filling every receptacle they could find with loot. Considering the large loads they were carrying, the party did not relish the idea of retracing their steps and they considered again whether they might simply descend the steps from the portico and wade through the murky water to where their horses were waiting. The strongest members of the party dragged the dead dragon to the top of the steps and then rolled it down into the water. Splash! The water proved to be not more then a few feet deep. And the sudden disturbance did not attract the notice of anything living therein. Laden with treasure, the party members waded through the murky water. They explained to Manis that they'd be glad to meet Sakatha on another occasion. They loaded their horses with loot and returned to their Clan to share their news and proof of their success.