Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Apr 8, 2009 18:13:26 GMT -7
Blowing across his cupped hand, Waleed summoned a mournful blast of wind that swelled until the remains of the creatures went tumbling into the trees. Out of breath, Waleed relaxed. The wind quickly died, the lonesome howl of it fading to a rustling of broad leaves.
The ground before the temple had been swept clean to the bare soil.
Rasool let out a low appreciative whistle. Shari cleared his throat nervously, adjusting the scimitar at his hip.
Peering into the open doors of the temple you see an inner courtyard. Beyond it, another building, that from here appears to fill most of the space inside the outer walls. No doors are visible from your vantage point.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Apr 9, 2009 9:36:39 GMT -7
Taj craned forward from his perch around Rasool's shoulders. "They are desecrating the temple...." The serpent's voice seemed incapable of conveying a wide range of emotion, but it spoke rapidly. "I've never been inside the inner sssanctum, but it isss surrounded by monuments only."
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Apr 9, 2009 14:42:20 GMT -7
"What type of monuments?" Shari wondered aloud. He drew his scimitar and stepped through the doorway, peering side to side.
"Hmmph. Now that was uncalled for..." he said. "Hundreds of obelisks. Knocked over..." He stepped fully inside, out of the shadow of the entryway. "Burned down all the shrines." He waited there, hands on hips, taking in the mess.
"You know Shari, I like your pluck. Stepping out in front of me like that, willing to brave any undead or other monstrous creatures that could bite a man in two. Brave yes indeed. Please do continue." Waleed motioned for the man to take point and lead the group further into the temple area.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Apr 10, 2009 16:26:18 GMT -7
You see that the courtyard surrounding the temple is littered with scores of crumbling obelisks, most taller than a man by half. They lay recently pushed over amoung weed-choked flagstones. In each is engraved the name of a serpent lord and detailed carvings.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Apr 14, 2009 7:02:36 GMT -7
The sound of the hammers grows closer as you advance. Approaching the corner of the inner building, you peer around the corner cautiously. The wide inner courtyard beyond is empty of all but more toppled statues. Midway down the length of the building a protrusion marks a stately entrance.
Looking up you note the inner building which you stand next to, rises higher than the outer wall.
Advancing quietly around the corner and down the length of the building to the doorway, you stop just short of the doorway. The hammering and voices are louder, but not yet near. A cautious glance reveals an empty entry way, and battered down doors.
Rasool moans. His face a pained mask of second thoughts, he said: "I should have stayed. I don't know but I'm getting a bad feeling... Don't tell me I'm the only one!"
Waleed whispers, "Sounds like more descration of the temple." The looking over at this companion, "Tag team, just like before. You throw in the fire, I whirlwind it and then I'll have my girls fire their crossbows and then draw swords to stop any advancers, okay?"
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Apr 16, 2009 18:08:50 GMT -7
After a quick huddle you steel yourselves for the assault. Waleed gives the signal and his bodyguards swing through the doorway and into a large, burned out anteroom. Directly ahead burned and broken doors lie in another courtyard. Beyond, stands the inner most temple- tallest building yet, elevated upon a massive stone patio. To the left and right of the anteroom, doors hang open on torn frames. Beyond them are what may once have been living quarters--is now only blackened plaster walls and burnt ceiling joists.
The hammering continues somewhere inside the temple. You see no entryway on this side. Outside you hear the sounds of the jungle start to return its normal incessant cacophony.
Jaheira steps through through the rubble on the floor...
FLASH! A floating green claw appears in the air, slashing her chest. Her scream is one of surprise more than pain. Still she falls to her knees, clutching her hands to her breast, crossbow falling forgotten at her side. The claw fades away.
On what remains of the right door frame, a magic sigil glows weakly then fades away as well.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Apr 30, 2009 18:11:27 GMT -7
After a few moments Jaheira stands, pushing aside offers of assistance. Her eyes hardened behind her mask. After retrieving her crossbow she led the way into the open courtyard.
Halfway across you hear the padding of bare feet on stone. Dashing to the base of the temple you flatten against the wall as a patrol of four crocodile headed men, very much alive this time, make their way slowly around the perimeter.
Sticking close to the wall you make your way around to the base of the walkway.
Jaheira raises her hand to stop you from proceeding. You look closely at the base--a wavering has of magical energies floats there.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on May 1, 2009 10:30:05 GMT -7
Waleed calls upon the arcane arts he spent years studying, waggling his index fingers in the direction of what he knows to be another protective spell blocking your path. One layer of his consciousness slips into the realm of magical energies and he starts to pull at "loose threads" in the spell's weave. The threads are unlike any he's dealt with before--rather than energies found in lightning and fire, the threads are as living things, malevolent and aware. With revulsion and effort Waleed finds the threads he needs and pulls it apart. The life fades from the spell and the path ahead is clear.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on May 5, 2009 7:16:42 GMT -7
Nods of agreement all around at the whispered plan. With a deep breath breath you race up the steps. At the top of the platform you notice a wide open door leading into a shadowy inner temple--dimly lit by unseen skylights and smoking torches. A glimpse as you charge past reveals movement around a large statue but you spare no time. The hammering had stopped, replaced by shouts of alarm when you reached the corner of the building, catching the perimeter guards completely by surprise.
A handful of rapid heartbeats later four burning guards were blown over the edge of the platform, three of them sporting crossbow bolts in the back.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on May 6, 2009 7:43:43 GMT -7
Turning back you race back to the temple entrance. You turn the corner and crash into a charging group of scimitar waving crocodile men. As the melee begins, you see that beyond the fray, a tall dark woman stands in the shadow of an enormous golden serpent statue. Around her are discarded hammers and chisels. She is protected by a group of three more crocodile men, but despite her distracting, overly revealing clothing, she projects an air of dangerousness. She wields an unusual ebony baton and is casting spells.
"Damn, there's a lot of them!" Waleed fishes out a scrap of *paper and hands it to Shari, "Call out this name and seek it's aid when it arrives!" Turning to Ya'qub, "We need to target the woman in back, let my girls and Rasool and his men handle these croc's in front." Without waiting for a response, Waleed called upon the four winds to batter his foes.
*A small scrap of paper with a word on it, "Taddifeihab"-- the name of the Zin that Lum extracted a favor from.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on May 7, 2009 18:10:50 GMT -7
In the sudden crash of bodies Jaheira was knocked headlong to the floor, her crossbow bolt twanging away uselessly into the temple. Wudei’a cried out as she was born violently to the ground by a hulking perversion of nature. Abandoning her crossbow Wudei’a struggled to twist out from under her attacker. Close by and still on her feet Najiba raged, her screams matching the ferocious visage of her mask. Again and again her crossbow fell like a club on the toothy head and grasping hands that threatened to flay her fair skin.
Recognizing the dark priestess as a spell caster, Waleed released a sudden swell of energies in her direction. The air howled in protest as it leaped from stillness to spinning fury funneling through the doorway. It flew like a fat debris-swollen arrow across the temple, bursting through a magical shield of incredible strength and striking the priestess. She reeled black from the blow, holding her ground briefly before crying out in surprise as she was spun around into the golden statue. The thud of her head against the statue didn't reach your ears, but no doubt it reached those of her guards for they glanced in surprise. She was up in a flash, long black hair whipped up crazily, blood beginning to flow down a face that was capable of breathtaking, dark beauty... now marred by hatred beyond measure.
As Rasool’s scimitar crashed against the dark steel blade of a foe, Waleed had time only to note Shari stood trembling at the river pirate’s side. Waleed could only hope the young scholar had obeyed his hasty instructions. Before returning his attention to the cursing priestess, Waleed noted that Mamoun remained faithfully at his side, keeping foes at arm’s length and freeing his master to concentrate even in the midst of this deadly fray.
Rasool was no stranger to fighting in tight confines but there was hardly room to get a good swing in--so he drew three crocs farther out on to the patio, feigning a limp and a look of fear that was only partly contrived. These black eyed beasts were right out of a nightmare. That Taj had something to do with the beasts sluggish reactions, Rasool knew nor cared not. When he had room to swing, Rasool did so with a crazed laugh that rose in pitch each time his blade split flesh.
Ya’qub’s attention was on his spell casting, so he didn’t notice his wife slip back towards the edge of the patio by the steps. Sahra had heard the tale of the tent many times during their travels. Had in fact, been there though far from the scene and tending to the camels. She spoke the name from memory, softly and pleaded for assistance. Not sure how she knew, she was none the less sure that it wasn’t a matter for shouting. Then she waited.
Ya'qub's flames began to rain on the priestess's shield just as she hooked her baleful gaze into the source of her humiliation. After a moment she tore her eyes from Waleed and snarled up at the building tick tick tick of flaming balls pelting her weakening magical shield. Each ball sent swirling, bruise colored ripples out, distorting your view of your enemies beyond it.
"Ya'qub, keep that woman busy!" Waleed cried out as he drew out his scimitar in a long arc to force back the croc man hovering over Jaheira. "Jaheira, drink quickly and get back into the fight!" Waleed said as he handed her a potion of extra healing that he had quickly pulled out of his belt pouch. "Scimitars, girls! Let them taste your blades!" He need not order Mamoun, his faithful man-servant, for he knew Mamoun would always protect his flank in any battle.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on May 14, 2009 12:18:53 GMT -7
For the first time since arriving in this strange land where plants held dominion over sand, sweat no longer dotted Ya'qub's brow. He didn't notice it though, so focused was he on feeding the fire that fell spattering through the tattered remnants of the magical shield.
Sahra hurried back to her husband's side, her practical nature insisting that if any assistance was forthcoming from the Zin, it would not be hurried by additional pleadings. She didn't interrupt Ya'qub--his face was skewed in concentration and effort, his breathing becoming a bit labored.
The object of his attention was not amused. The priestess locked eyes for a moment with Ya'qub, sneering at him with disdain then wincing in irritation as a flame struck her bare arm. She thrust both arms heavenward and called upon whatever dark source fueled her magics.
Jaheira was on her back, pistoning desperate kicks at the huffing crocodile man looming above her. She was not so hardened a warrior not to gasp a short cry of relief when Waleed bowled into her assailant, driving it off her.
Jaheira grasped the proffered flask as Waleed strode off toward the creature kneeling on Wudei'a; the beast was choking her with one hand, trying to fend off her slashing jambiya with the other.
Jaheira cringed back as Mamoun leaped across her, scimitar held high and eyes wild. Pulling out the stopper with her teeth, she rolled to her knees and threw back her head, watching Mamoun drive her assailant back against the railing as she drank the potion. The effect was disconcerting--she did feel refreshed, even the bloody scrapes on her hands ceased to sting, but her extremities began to feel as if warm tendrils were coiling around them.
She tossed the bottle aside and tried to stand. She couldn't.
Sahra wasn't always the wealthy bride of a merchant caravaner. Once she been a poor camel driver, hardened by long desert journeys fraught with peril from men, beasts, and nature. Those perils did not wither her inner beauty, and the comforts of wealth did not wither her inner strength. And so it was that when the green tendrils pushed through the cracks in the temple floor she drew her jambiya and set to work attacking those that tried to ensnare her husband's legs.
Ya'qub didn't notice the plants rising up all around him and his companions, blind vines that flailed about questing for anything to grasp and coil. As his wife was pulled down beside him, cutting and cursing the vines that reached for him, he saw only his foe, felt only fever. Ya'qub dabbled in fire magics; occasionally he cracked opened metaphysical doors and borrowed a bit of energy, but this was different. He was at the well, the source, the plane of fire. Fire was his to command.
Waleed stood rooted to the ground but his scimitar still sang. He'd deal with the vines entangling him as soon as he'd dealt with the hulking crocodile man before him. Fortunately the vines wrapped friend and foe alike so Waleed and the croc clashed swords and tried not to lose their balance.
When Shari fell at the point to a croc's black blade, Rasool cried out in impotent rage. "Foolish son of a goat herder. Stick to books!" he yelled as he hacked at grasping vines.
The priestess screamed and fled to the far side of the serpent statue, followed by her three guards, all swatting at the flames that fell like rain upon them.
Waleed pulled free of the vines which suddenly ceased their climb uncomfortably close to his coin purse. Thrust, parried. Slash, not. Down fell the croc, black scimitar clattering beside it as it struggled to keep entrails from spilling through its hands.
Najiba stood panting, finally free from the vines. She hefted her club ready to resume bashing her foe. Sporting a face full of more bruises than teeth, the croc was keeping a respectful distance. It made the mistake of turning to look at what wonderment caused such a look of surprise in the fierce woman's eyes. She hit him again.
It was the four old men that came laughing and spinning through the wall that had surprised Najiba. Not enough to prevent her from her task at hand though.
"If you're the Zin we called for, please help Ya'qub there!" Waleed hoped they were the Zin, they weren't croc men and they sure didn't look evil. "Keep it up Ya'qub, you're winning the day!" Waleed, his girls and Mamoun continued to press the croc men in front of them harder.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jun 3, 2009 14:43:33 GMT -7
In reply the old men only laughed louder, spinning like white-haired dervishes on spindly bare legs, laughter rising to howls by the time they disappeared into the far wall. The laughter died abruptly, echoing only in your mind. On the floor near the steps, a name faded from the scrap of paper Sahra had dropped. And though she didn't know it then, it faded from her mind as well.
With his targets momentarily out of Ya'qub's line of sight, he recalled his flames. Flame drops coalesced around the man's hand until it blazed like a torch. He held it aloft, waiting for the sorceress to reappear from behind the statue.
Waleed saw the shadows rise from the wilting vines that crisscrossed the temple floor. Saw them flow toward his enemies, but whatever he was witnessing was surely not what they saw for they fled before the shadows, screaming at first and then pleading piteously when walls blocked their escape.
Whatever the crocodile men saw, it had no pity, for they died curled against the wall in wide-eyed terror.
The sorceress, or priestess, whichever she was did not share their fate. Beyond the statue you find only an empty bottle. No doubt some potion that allowed her to slip away unseen.
Waleed stood amazed, "Wow, had I known that name had such power linked to it, I would have saved it for later use." Then after tending to those injured, he motioned for the group to keep investigating.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jun 4, 2009 12:42:20 GMT -7
The inner temple is dominated by a huge golden statue of a snake, reclining on a magnificent couch which extends almost the entire interior length of the chamber. At first glance the statue appears to be of solid gold, but closer examination reveals that it is merely gold leaf over a plaster or stone idol.
The plaster has been chipped away in spots where the croc-men had been at it with their hammers and chisels.
The snake has a cobra's head but a women's face, her eyes focused in the distance and her lips curved in a sublime, mysterious smile. A diamond shape is painted in the center of her forehead.
Remembering what to do, Waleed snapped his fingers and held out his palm for the diamond they took from the Snake King. After Mamoun placed the cool gem in his palm, Waleed cautiously approached the statue and carefully placed it within the diamond shaped recess. Quickly Waleed paced back to the group and motioned them to drop at least to one knee.
Post by Zaim al-Daleel on Jun 4, 2009 20:57:15 GMT -7
The talisman flashed briefly when it was touched to the face. Then it fell back into Waleed's hand.
"The King can now rest," Taj hissed contentedly.
The warm humid air moved a bit then, cooling the room noticeably as the breeze brushed across the sweat on your body. The room darkened as clouds passed overhead, bursting open with swollen drops of water that pattered on the temple roof. Rivulets formed, pouring through cracks and the unseen skylights. The clouds inched by at a leisurely rate and soon the rivulets grew into streams that splashed off the statue and floors into sprays of mist.
The mists felt cool and refreshing to you but the blood and corpses on the floor began to break apart like sand castles against the tide. Soon the temple was washed clean of all signs of the cultists. Sunlight pierced the clouds which reluctantly broke apart and moved off.
At the base of the statue there is a grinding of stone against stone and a hidden passage is revealed beneath a sliding stone in the floor. Down a short flight of steps is the treasure promised to you by the serpent king Sharaman. Ceramic urns overflow with ancient gold coins, thousands of them. Inside an ivory case ancient parchments imbued with magical energies await only reading to cure disease and wounds, neutralize poisons, and even, the texts promise, raise the dead.
Wrapped in an oiled leather case another scroll promises protection from the elements or elementals, Shari's not exactly sure of his translation.
A teak wood staff carved with intertwined serpents, an ironwood shield emblazoned with a coiled serpent, and an ivory handled scimitar complete the reward.