Juma Jh’od Ji’ad leaves Parsantium by the Camel Gate, heading through the halfling camp outside, to reach the place where his nomadic Aqhrani “business associates” are camped. Here he meets with Sheikh Babak al-Hasid (“the respected”) and tries to repay his 10,000 gp gambling debt. The sheikh welcomes Juma as a long lost son and insists on cancelling the debt in return for a small favour. He wants the swordmage to bring him the secret formula for Parsantine Fire when the nomads next return to the city at the beginning of Februarius. Juma says this won’t be a problem and spends the next couple of days partying in the nomad camp, winning 5,000 gp in various games of chance.
Juma joins the rest of the party outside the door marked with the faded red skull symbol. Hearing the sound of a carriage approaching, the PCs quickly pull the thuggee bodies into the shadows of an alleyway and take cover. Watching from hiding, the party see two women wearing hooded black cloaks exit a carriage bearing the crest of House Ziper (a prominent noble family) and go through the door. About five minutes later, another carriage arrives, this one marked with the badge of House Mino – again, two more women get out and enter the door. Finally, an unmarked carriage arrives. This time a pair of armed guards get out first and have a good look around before yet another hooded figure gets out and goes inside.
The PCs wait a few minutes, then open the door and head down the stairs beyond. The steep staircase leads to a doorway but there is a second door coming off a small landing about halfway down. After Hrothgar and Juma both fail to pick the lock on this door, Gil casts knock to open it and the PCs slip through. The party find themselves on a balcony overlooking an underground temple to Kali, the Black Mother, goddess of creation and destruction, where a ceremony is just getting underway. The high priestess is a tiefling and Jagadamba is standing to her right, apparently also part of the priesthood; the congregation consists of around a dozen women, all wearing hooded black cloaks. Four guards in dark red robes and black turbans stand guard.
The ceremony gets underway – there is much chanting and a goat is sacrificed at the altar – but nothing untoward happens (“they’re not doing anything illegal” says Gil). After about half an hour, it is over and the women start to leave. One young girl, though, is asked to stay behind by the high priestess. Then, Jagadamba and the girl head down through a trapdoor concealed beneath a large rug. The PCs wait a few moments, then spring into action.
Hrothgar leaps down from the balcony, landing on one of the guards, followed by Jenma on her sorcerous wings. Juma casts hellish rebuke on the tiefling priestess (without success), Ulthar issues a commander’s strike to Hrothgar and Gil casts frostburn. The surprise round over, the priestess Chandrika summons a skeletal warrior onto the balcony to attack Gil and Ulthar, then closes on Hrothgar, using worthy sacrifice to knock him prone and daze him. The guards move to attack the gnoll and Jenma, and the statue of Kali animates and joins the fray. Gil casts a fiery serpent that fails to stop the Kali statue reaching Jenma and knocking her unconscious. To make things worse, the dragonborn has been sundered from sight by one of the thuggee guards and can’t be targeted with healing. Juma and Gil teleport down from the balcony to help their companions, followed by Ulthar whose leap is better described as a fall. Gil pours a potion down Jenma’s throat bringing her round as Hrothgar (who is being garrotted by a thuggee) nonetheless manages to brutal slam Chandrika, flinging her at one of her own guards.
Things are going badly with nearly the whole party bloodied so Ulthar uses stand the fallen to heal everyone except Jenma who still can’t be seen. Jenma blasts three guards with burning spray, narrowly missing the warlord in the blast. Ulthar then uses warmaster’s assault to give everyone an attack – Gil takes down one guard with his sword and Jenma takes down another with twin bolt. Meanwhile, Hrothgar fights on against Chandrika, while Juma is still battling the Kali stone golem. Finally, a commander’s strike from Ulthar allows the gnoll to finish off the priestess.
With Chandrika dead, the last surviving guard makes a run for it but the Kali statue goes on a golem rampage, trampling all the PCs. As it stomps on Juma, the genasi delivers a fatal blow and it explodes, knocking Jenma unconscious again! The battle is at last over. Jenma is brought round, everyone heals and the priestess’ necklace of skulls is looted. With nearly all daily powers expended, the PCs discuss what to do next....