After defeating nearly two dozen ophidians and both their wizard and druid dying, the party regroups at the center of the fortress they have just swam into through an underwater tunnel from a nearby oasis.
Attempts to resurrect the two party members by the cleric are unsuccessful, however a last-ditch effort by the barbarian making a call to his god of chaos successfully revives the princess druid. In turn, the princess is able to bring the wizard back from the dead.
They then make their way through the building in search of the ophidian matriarch, who holds the scepter they have come to retrieve. After a brief search they find themselves in what appears to be a hatchery, littered with what is presumed to be ophidian eggs.
The princess at once feels that she is losing her grip on her own willpower, and begins to cast down lightning, destroying nearly all of the eggs in the room. As she is doing this, more ophidians come from a nearby room and another battle ensues. After quickly dispatching what appear to be guard, the group makes their way further into the hatchery, which has an upstairs room, and a door to an adjacent room near the back.
They push forward into the next room and come face to face with a massive ophidian who appears to be laying eggs. After brief debate about whether or not this is the matriarch, the party begins to mercilessly kill the egg layer as it retreats to a corner and screeches in terror. They easily kill her, but find that she contains nothing, realizing that they have just killed a defenseless creature who merely propagates the species.
They head back into the other room and make their way upstairs, shoving the door open which is held in place by a bookshelf.
Once inside, they find a room full of wall to wall books, a desk, a long decomposed corpse with what appears to be a military uniform, and a number of books on the floor from the book case that was knocked over as the group shoved their way inside.
A quick search of the room turns up information that this fortress was once a military outpost hundreds of years ago. Inside the desk the monk finds detailed maps of the area, a floppy farmer’s hat, and a bottle of the strongest, smoothest whiskey he has ever had the pleasure of tasting.
The ranger finds a strange deck of cards inside a pocket of the uniform worn by the corpse.
Convinced that they have thoroughly looked the room over, they set back out to search the rest of the fortress. It is eerily quiet and deserted however, save for one building.
The monk climbs to the roof and scouts out the three sections of the building through skylights and observes that there appears to be a throne room of sorts near the very back. He see’s the matriarch holding the scepter, surrounded by nearly two dozen heavily armored ophidian knights.
He reports back to the group and it is decided that the rogue will use a ring of invisibility to sneak in, snatch the scepter, and get back out. The ring provides five minutes of invisibility, the first minute of which is spent debating how exactly the plan will work out.
The party then moves inside the building to the first room and the rogue makes his way further into the building. He successfully sneaks past a set of guards at the entrance to the throne room, and through a second ring of guards surrounding the matriarch. He then quickly grabs the scepter and attempts to pull it free, but the matriarch is stronger than anticipated and holds on. Not knowing what is pulling at the scepter, the matriarch is startled but doesn’t realize what is happening. The rogue gives a second tug and nearly pries it loose. At this point all of the ophidians in the room are aware that something is going on. On his third attempt, he pulls the scepter free and stumbles to the ground, the scepter going invisible once fully in his possession.
The scepter is large, making it difficult for the rogue to get out of the room among all of the ophidians. He ends up attempting to tumble out of the room through the final two guards, and manages to do so, but injures himself during the feat. At about this time, the ring’s power wears off and he becomes visible. The rest of the party see’s what is happening and comes running into the room to help, at this point the rogue is already surrounded by four ophidians as more are making their way to the door.
The mage quickly casts wall of stone, closing the doorway. It is too late for the rogue though, who is killed less than a minute later. The party dispatches the ophidians who made it through however, and pick up the scepter. They then promptly resurrect the rogue and make their way outside.
It is decided that they will head for the magical hill and make camp there for the night. Half-way through the night they are startled awake by the approaching ophidians who have broken out of the room they were sealed in. After a long battle the horde and its matriarch are defeated. The next morning the group makes their way to the oasis, grabs their ostards, and begin the journey back to town.
As they enter into the ophidian valley for the final time, the monk gets a strong sensation that he has overlooked something in the upstairs room at the fortress and insists that the party go back.
He enters the room and everyone begins searching around. The monk realizes that the books knocked over on the floor had not been searched the last time were there. As he shook the books, a clinking noise is made on the floor. He searches through the books on the floor and finds a ring which had fallen out of the book. He immediately puts it on and feels as if he just can’t fail at anything he does. (This ring is later identified as negating all critical fail rolls.)
Several times along the way they notice the giant sandworms nearby and make attempts to move in the opposite direction. Nightfall comes and the party settles in to enjoy what they hope will be their first peaceful night in some time. During second watch the sandworms are heard moving nearby. Before everyone in the party can be quietly roused and alerted, a snoring rogue is quickly sucked down into the sand, letting out a brief scream before the night goes dead silent. The sandworms seem to go on their way after this.
The next day they head out early in an attempt to reach the edge of the desert. With a few extra hours of riding, they make their way back into the edge of the mountains and make camp. They finally get their first peaceful night’s rest and wake up the next morning to make their way into town about a half day ride away.
As they draw closer to town they begin to notice roving guard patrols with orange cloaks, a sign of the Council of Mages having moved into the town.
Once in town, they notice that control of the city is firmly in the hands of the Council of Mages, and locals have grim looks on their faces. Near the town’s center workers can be seen excavating the area.
Reaching the king’s keep, they are confronted by two guards at the entrance, asking what business the party has. They tell them that they are working for the Council of Mages and wish to speak to whoever is in charge. One of the guards goes inside briefly and then returns, saying “the sheriff will see you.”
Entering the building, they notice there is no trace of the king or his advisors, guards, or other regular inhabitants of the keep.
A familiar face greets them, the same woman who greeted and brought them before the council in Magincia, she is now the Sheriff of Papua.
The party inquires about what has happened and she tells them that when they came through the portal, they were not welcomed by the king, who put up a fight against them. Unfortunately, she states, the king was killed during the scuffle. They have now made the king’s keep their base of operations.
The princess feels a rage because of this but manages to suppress it.
The party then informs the sheriff that they have retrieved the scepter and are back for supplies before heading to the terrathan keep. They continue on into the keep and gather the necessary supplies. As they are walking back through the main throne room, the princess begins to feel an uncontrollable rage again, and quickly whispers into the barbarian’s ear. The barbarian quickly becomes enraged and sets his eyes on the sheriff. The ranger notices something is right and quickly grapples the barbarian, who is then quickly taken outside.
The group sets out for the terrathan keep, leaving behind the ranger and wizard to gather some information about what’s going on around the city. Most refuse to speak with them, except for a worker at the excavation site.
No one seems to know exactly what they are looking for, only that they’ll know it once they unearth it. The foreman at the dig site says they are looking for some sort of altar.
The ranger and wizard then head to meet up with the rest of the party, which then makes camp for the night. At some point during the night a serpent slithers up to the ranger, wraps around him, and bites down on his neck pumping him full of poison right before the druid notices what is happening. The party scrambles to save him, eventually slashing the serpent in half and pulling it off the ranger’s body. He is badly injured, however the cleric manages to save him.
The next day the party sets out and during their journey notice that a lot of huge snakes seem to be following them through the trees and nearby on the ground. They reach the edge of the keep, which appears to be a high-rise temple set down inside a quarry-like pit. The party decides they will rest for the night before going in. During the night, the ranger is yet again attacked by a serpent, which sinks its venomous teeth into him. The party is better prepared this time and quickly dispatches the snake.
The next morning they survey the area and find it guarded by four terrathans outside. The battles are fairly quick, and the party finds itself inside the keep. It is fairly barren, with the exception of a chest, stairs leading down, and huge pillars reaching up to 50 foot ceilings.
The cleric walks over to the chest, discovers it is unlocked, and lifts the lid. He finds a mirror attached to the lid.
As the cleric admires himself in the mirror, he notices that he appears in the mirror twice.
To be continued…