Dashiel emerged from a confusing side adventure and reuinited with the party en route to the lair of their erstwhile foes. Through coiling caverns, the party followed the trail of discreet carvings that led them to the lair of the nefarious snake-worshippers who’d brought chaos to Hala Xel. Along the way, a curious thing happened. Zed picked up a retinue of otherwise ordinary snakes. With their unnerving legion of serpent followers, the party emerged into a larger chamber. Here, amidst piles more snakes, was a ornate gateway into a temple courtyard. Inside were meticulously carved snakehead motifs, some braziers burning a sickly green, and a balcony upon which the missing elders and Callio lay.
The party cautiously advanced, only for giant slabs to drop over the entrance. More cult assassins dropped down, and three robed figures emerged from the balcony.
The central cultist welcomed Zed and informed him that he was the end result of a centuries-long program to breed the ultimate elf. He claimed that Zed’s impressive lineage made him the perfect host for a great primal snake spirit. Once channelled into Zed’s body, Azemiops, the primal serpent, would be harnessed by the so-called Fanglord‘s magic and used as an unstoppable weapon against the cult’s enemies. Zed didn’t take kindly to the idea of being used as a living weapon, and a fight broke out.
At the Fanglord‘s cue, a sickly green mist began filling the chamber. His two retainers cast off their ceremonial vestments and displayed strange powers of their own. The party fought valiently, but the cult’s numbers and the Adder Mist took its’ toll. Even as the adventurers slumped unconscious, they felt the reassuring prescence of the Xelian Primal Spirits, assuring them that all would be well.
Awakening sometime later, the party found themselves in a vast ritual chamber. Down in the pit, Dashiel, Tristan, and Visok found themselves chained to the wall alongside the elder shamans. High above, in a circle of ominous runes, Zed was trapped in a ritual circle of vile power. Higher still, the cultists found their plans disturbed by the untimely awakening, and the two retainers, plus Callio attacked the party to defend the Fanglord’s sinister plot.
Tristan and Dashiel effortlessly slipped their restraints and attacked the snickering tattooed witch. Seeing no need for such subtlty, Visok yanked his chains, and a good bit of masonry, from the walls, and put them to use smashing the spirit-channeling opponent. High above, Zed and Callio battled monk-to-monk on the sacrificial platform. Zed struggled to reason with Callio, but in the end, he proved to be the greater fighter. Hauling the unconscious monk onto his shoulders, Zed leaped from the platform to the ground below. The combined party vanquished the last surprisingly sturdy cultist, and a shout rang out from above.
Sure enough, the ritual had been completed, and Azemiops emerged into the material plane, but without a host to restrain it, the great serpent was uncontrollable. It proved this by devouring Fanglord Naj before attacking the party.
What followed was an earthshaking brawl that shook the temple complex as the party unleashed every technique at their disposal to take down Azemiops. Arrows fragmented into hundreds of stinging shards; a sonic scream was unleashed, ancient runes of godly fire were invoked, and flurries of daggermarks slashed the serpent’s face. And it would. Not. Go. Down. High above, faces both familiar and new appeared, marvelling at the astonishing sight…