EPISODE FIFTY-FIVE: The Drowned Serpent (Level 22)
Kristy Eagar (Nirvani)
Mike Eagar (Sadhai)
Kent Lloyd (Kloric)
Adam Rodger (Arhuzimel)
DM: Graham Ward
After four years of uniting the surviving Shadar-kai, Arhuzimel was prepared to become one with “she who sleeps,” and be baptized in shadow. A military escort and the mad priestess of Ulmhasa led him to Imbakhao, the former capital of the Hana empire, where the ceremony would be performed. When they reached it, they found it not only buried with millennia, but also occupied by a small unit of vampire soldiers from Perrith Gorr. They were excavating and guarding the ruins. The Shadar-kai with him explained that the city is the burial site of Imbakhao himself, the Drowned Serpent, son of Ulmhasa. The appearance of shadow dragons in Morvugol was a sign that he would soon return.
A solitary figure approached from the west. Sadhai, by chance, had tracked Tethaylaer to these very ruins. He and Arhuzimel returned to the nearest Shadar-kai enclave and raised an army of about a thousand, with more reinforcements marshaling. Arhuzimel enlisted the help of Zigatzi’s top twenty assassins and Kloric’s small force of halfing guardians. He and Sadhai prepared to travel to Onfalcedhuitha to ask for the aid of the jhareth.
They used Sadhai’s arm to get into the High Realm, then flew their griffons the remaining hundred miles to the floating city. Upon arriving, an alarm was sounded, and the two men were surrounded by jhareth spears. A tall, kindly looking man in armor addressed them. It was Ardoth Intillanum, Nirvani’s new fiancée. He locked Arhuzimel up for trespassing, and Sadhai for bringing him without approval. After consulting with Nirvani, he released Sadhai, who then managed to convinced Ulthoroch to lend the crack team of resurrected jhareth lords to the attack on the vampires at Imbakhao.
Amidst all this, Kloric was brought to Onfalcedhuitha for the first time by means of the purification ritual. Though uncomfortable with praying to Jharus, he survived and made it in.
Most of the city turned up for the trial. Just as they were preparing to accuse Arhuzimel, Nirvani stepped up and invoked an ancient law that allowed her to suffer his punishment in proxy. She was chained to a wide pedestal, and each person at the trial wore a headdress with the left eye covered with a long, flat stone. In the stone they saw every sin Arhuzimel had committed in his long life. The images sped by at an amazing speed, but the viewers were able to comprehend it. Meanwhile, Nirvani experienced the remorse and pain of each event in an all-encompassing and dreadful way. When it was over, Ardoth and Sadhai watched in horror as an executioner approached, but Ulthoroch intervened and Nirvani was allowed to live while she completed her work for him. She was healed and told that at some point she would be summoned to return to the city to be executed in Arhuzimel’s behalf.
Arhuzimel was escorted from the city just as Sadhai had the chance to see Nirvani’s children, fraternal twins whose race was as yet unclear (either human or jhareth). Nirvani was convinced they were Idris and Inaya, given another chance at mortality. They instinctively hugged Sadhai, but he wasn’t satisfied with the explanation that they were immaculately conceived.
Now that the forces were ready behind Arhuzimel, they charged Imbakhao and quickly began carving the vampires up. As the army worked its way into the depths of the ruins with the jhareth gold force as vanguard, two of Kloric’s Halfling guardians were dragged into the dark shadows of the ruin by vampires, lost forever.
Below, the army entered a vast chamber with an oily black lake at its center. Tethaylaer stood along a boardwalk at the edge of the lake. The two forces battled on, until the vampires were scattered and killed. Tethaylaer escaped in a cloud of mist. Suddenly the lake bubbled and seethed, as if boiling. It’s spray hit some of the Shadar-kai and dissolved them into shadow. Sarnoss appeared and asked Arhuzimel fervently not to harm his mother, even if she seemed to wish it. The mad priestess began shouting and shaking, and sprinting into a leap, landing in the black lake.
She was immediately swathed in black tongues of liquid shadow, standing on the surface of the lake with glowing eyes, declaring herself “she who sleeps.” A great tangled mass of slithering serpents rose from the shadow lake and lashed out at them. They, like the lake itself, were made of this viscous liquid shadow. Deep beneath the surface of the lake a shuddering signaled the wakening of Imbakhao, Ulmhasa’s gargantuan son.
They fought the serpents and the possessed priestess, as well as several massive animated hunks of snakeskin. When Imbakhao himself rose from the depths of the lake, he was likewise composed of this liquid shadow. Sadhai climbed to a balcony and loosed arrow after arrow at the priestess. Kloric buzzed and stung about her head, and Arhuzimel leapt onto Imbakhao, taking out an eye with a vicious thrust. Shortly thereafter Nirvani flew at the god-serpent with radiant rage and struck him down in one last blow.
When Imbakhao dissolved into smoke, Arhuzimel lost his footing and fell toward the surface of the shadow magma. Nirvani failed to snatch him, but flew to safety. Kloric’s swarm retreated to hard ground as well. In a desperate effort to stop Arhuzimel from killing his mother, Sarnoss jumped, snatched him out of the air with his teeth, and tossed him back toward the boardwalk. He fell too short, and both plunged into the shadow lake. Sarnoss’ body was dissolved and burned. Arhuzimel felt himself yanked downward for a long time. He came to in a small chamber. Ulmhasa lay comatose before him. He felt the beckoning to put her out of her misery, so he formed his shadowblades and cut her throat.
The hearts of shadow erupted and covered the entire world in a deluge of shadow magma. Arhuzimel felt himself aware of every life form, and knew he had the ability to save or discard those he pleased in this cataclysmic renewal of Morvugol. Once it cooled, the planet became a smooth ball of igneous shadow—the surface hard and smooth, but deeper within pocked and tunneled with crystallized cavern mazes that housed an abundance of shadow life, including meadows, woodlands, and thick jungles. The party came to and found one another within this underdark.
After the baptism and shaping of Morvugol, Arhuzimel felt a new power surge through him:
- Upon arriving in Morvugol you gain an action point, and your action points refresh to 2 after an extended rest as long as you are there.
- Your resistance to necrotic damage increases by 10.
- You gain a +4 racial bonus to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will.
- You begin to hear the prayers of the Shadar-kai in your dreams and subconscious. You can summon one of your worshipers to an adjacent square in any other plane as a standard action (encounter).
XP: 35,488 Each
[Amassing the Army: 2,000 XP
Acquitting Arhuzimel: 5,000 XP
Nirvani’s Sacrifice: 16,000 XP
Roleplaying Nirvani/Sadhai/Ardoth: 1,000 XP
Battle at Imbakhao Skill Challenge: 44,000 XP
The Drowned Serpent Encounter: 44,750 XP
Killing Ulmhasa: 19,200 XP
Shadowfell Deluge: 10,000 XP
TOTAL: 141,950 XP]