10th November (contd.)
The PCs search around the temple and try and talk to the drugged girls but they don’t get much sense out of them. Ulthar picks up the two severed heads of the slain girls and puts them in his sack to be returned to their families – he’s see a lot of heads in his time. They set watches and settle down for an extended rest; the drugged girls sleep too.
When the party wake up, the girls are still fast asleep, so they decide not to disturb them while they explore the rest of the dungeon. In Vishaka’s chamber, Juma manages to trigger a poison dart trap on a chest which whistles past his ear and strikes Hrothgar, poisoning him. They take the treasure inside while Gil grabs an interesting looking journal from the melshanti’s desk.
After trying to shove open the enormous stone doors behind the statue of Manasangra, the Juma Associates give up and check out the doors in leading off from the large chamber with the cobra statue in the centre, finding living quarters for Ciceria, Jagadamba, the medusa, the broodguards and the tainted ones. The PCs take Jagadamba’s dress as evidence of the Witch of Flotsam’s involvement in the Cult of the Black Mother but wisely decide not to take Ciceria’s robes just in case they are caught with it.
Next, the party find the cells where one girl is still being held, watched by four broodguards. Jenma’s azure talons spell takes out two of the misshapen serpentfolk, then Hrothgar charges in to make short work of the others. Ulthar unlocks the door to the cell and talks to the girl inside, Pasara. When she explains that she was told she wasn’t considered a suitable sacrifice because she had a boyfriend, the warlord suggests she might like to talk to another female about such matters and gets Jenma to come over. Unfortunately the dragonborn’s plain speaking fails to make Pasara feel better (“We’ve saved all but two of your friends and we’ve got their heads!”).
After Hrothgar has snacked on a few tasty white rats he found in the serpentfolk larder, the PCs take all seven girls to one of the bedrooms and tell them to stay put. Gil casts an eye of alarm on the door as an additional precaution, then the Juma Associates return to the ominous-looking doors carved with skeletal snakes they had left until last.
The doors lead into the crypts, a dusty, undulating corridor with stone tomb doors on both sides. Hrothgar and Juma take point; when they round the last bend, the corridor opens out into a round chamber with a bone naga, coiled and ready to strike. Jenma is first to attack with her spitfire furnace spell, as the naga begins to sway hypnotically as it closes with the party. Then, unsurprisingly, tomb doors open on both sides of the corridor and more undead appear: a mummified abomination attacks Juma, grabbing him in its coils and pulling him into its crypt, and Gil is attacked from the back by a pair of corrupted incanters. Ulthar issues tactical orders to his comrades, telling them to attack the mummy, and uses his inspiring word to heal Gil. The wizard dominates the two incanters, getting them to attack each other. Hrothgar delivers the killing blow to the bone naga (88 hp critical hit with fortune’s favour) and finishes off the mummy too; Juma drops the last incanter. As the mummy dies, it shrieks its terrible curse, inflicting mummy rot on Hrothgar and Juma.
With the battle over, the PCs search around for loot, finding some jewellery and gems. Thinking there might be more treasure in some of the tombs, they smash five of them open but there is nothing inside apart from mummified serpentfolk corpses.
Juma examines the great stone doors in the temple again and declares that they are sealed magically; opening them requires a dark ritual involving human sacrifice, presumably the one the PCs interrupted when they entered. Deciding there is nowhere left to plunder, the Juma Associates get ready to return to the city above, bringing the seven rescued girls with them. Now that the girls can speak coherently again, the party ask the ones they don’t recognise their names – they had already identified Appia from her portrait and also Lucretia (the girl Jagadamba had lead down the trapdoor in the deul).
Ulthar leads the victorious PCs and rescued girls out into the Street of Many Gods, proclaiming that the Juma Associates have triumphed yet again to all and sundry. A growing group of curious onlookers follows the party as they head into the Garden Ward to the Old Palace of the Sultan where they are granted an audience by Murad al-Rumi, Tribune of the Old Quarter. The tribune listens to the PCs’ rather garbled story of serpentfolk, witches, and bloodthirsty cults plotting below the city streets and promises he will send some of his men to investigate the secret temple. The party and the rescued girls are treated to refreshments, baths, and a change of clothes before carriages take them to the Imperial Quarter to be returned to their families.
Hrothgar and Juma recover from mummy rot after a good night's sleep.
A few days later the PCs meet with Lady Viviana Megaris at the White Swan and are paid their 10,000 gp reward for rescuing Appia; the other grateful noble families have rewarded the Juma Associates’ efforts too with gems and gold. Gil tries to start a rumour that Ciceria is dead among the patrons, without much success.
Gil translates Vishaka’s journal. As well as describing the Cult’s plans to awaken Manasangra’s sleeping incarnation, Vishaka writes of a rakshasa plot to free Vrishabha, the imprisoned Rajah.