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The Chronicles of 'Team B' - Chapter 17 - Yaqub's Gateway of Fire

Written by KoshcheiBessmertnyi

General Summary

Agapia and Lokan call Yuri back, and hold Alden off from savaging the corpse of the fallen soldier. Lokan thinks that the river approach to Yaqub's hill is likely guarded. Agapia, for her part, questions why Yaqub, assuming he is a servant, must be killed at all. Perhaps she could sneak in and talk to him, or convince the soldiers apparently guarding him to let her through. Yuri explains that party members learned earlier that he organized the raid on his home village, and drove his family off into slavery. They also know - by way of Agapia's own translation - that he burned down the village where the Chwee now live. Agapia is mollified to stick with the rest of the party, while Yuri is convinced to pull back to the previous day's camp, to see what the soldiers will do. Perhaps retreat will draw them out, and allow the stealthier members to sneak onto Yaqub's hill. Perhaps they will be able to see activity on the river if they are sufficiently high up.   The wait turns out to be a relatively short one. After the party takes up positions at their old campsite, they hear riders approaching. Agapia hears the riders shouting to one another that the interlopers must be stopped from getting into the lair to protect the town from the serpent, and Lokan wonders if the vizier told his people that the party was working with the monster. Meanwhile, Yuri attempts to sneak around the group by heading to higher ground, but the main group is soon discovered, while two of the riders break off and head toward Yuri. Alden advances and lets out a chilling howl, which causes four of the horses to flee in terror. As their riders struggle to control them, a shooting match breaks out between Yuri and one of the riders. Lokan quickly advances, and cracks one straggler with his whip. At the end, the riders beat a disorderly retreat, and Lokan binds the man he was able to take down, while Agapia heals him so he can be interrogated.   Once he comes to, the man, who is obviously frightened, reveals that the vizier sent a group of 12 riders to keep the party from getting close to Yaqub's hill. They are supported by six more on the river, who are watching the approach to the hill by the river, and also guarding the raft, which will be used to take the riders and their horses away shortly before dusk. The soldiers mean to pull out because they were told the serpent would return near evening, and they are to leave no evidence of their presence when that happens (much less be in the area when the serpent returns). He has no idea about any entrance to the serpent's lair, nor is he interested in seeking it out. He suspects that his people will be pulling out soon, since they seem to have failed in their task of keeping the party out. Soon, In less than an hour, Yuri does see a large raft, loading with horses, floating downstream toward the city. As the man poses no harm, the party votes to release him to allow him to catch a ride back: perhaps this will make them look better to the soldiers. The man is relieved of his lamellar, bow, quiver, dagger, and coin purse, but otherwise, released unmolested.   The way to Yaqub's hill now appears to be open, and the party advances in all haste, hoping to find a way in before the serpent returns. The party approaches the hill from the west, and begins to climb up toward the summit. No lair is visible - the entire hillside is covered by trees and bushes, although the smell of burnt grass and nettles hangs in the air. As they climb, an unwary step by Yuri almost results in him tumbling down into some sort of crevice. The cossack catches himself before seriously damaging his leg, but it suddenly disappears, though he feels no pain. As he peers down, his head passes through some sort of veil, and he finds himself staring into a dark cave. Somewhere toward the back of the cave wall are glowing entities, which hiss, and begin moving towards him.   The party retreats back down the hill, and soon, nearly a dozen fat, glowing snakes with thick scales emerge from behind the veil, and, sizzlingly, slither toward the party. Yuri and Alden stop so as to defend the rest of the group from the serpentlings, while the rest retreat to a safer position behind some trees. After firing at the snakes with their newfound bows, Yuri begins to poke at them with his spear, whereas Alden mows them down with his scythe, and to bite them (though this singes his snout). However, when the snakes get close to them, their clothes begin to smolder, and their skin gets hot and blisters. When they bite, the two feel painful venom flowing through their veins, though until the end, they fight off its effects. Lokan advances in order to shoot and swat at the creatures with his whip from behind tree cover, but several of the snakes manage to get around the defenders. One even bites Yushko, though miraculously, he survives the assault. Augusta also experiences their wrath. Ultimately, the last remaining snakes manage to briefly paralyze Yuri, though they are beaten down by the rest of the group. The victory appears complete, though Yuri is considerably burnt and bitten up, and the rest of the group are a little worse for wear as well.   Collecting themselves, the party makes its way past the illusory hillside, and into the cave. The place opens up into a large cavity, filled with bones of various creatures, nettles, and garbage. In the back of the cave, there are five more glowing lights - more serpentlings! Not wishing to take further chances, Augusta calls upon her God to hold them in place. As they sway to her hypnotic chanting, the rest of the group dispatches each of the remaining fire vipers one by one, though the last one manages to bite Agapia hard in the leg before expiring. Somehow, the young woman manages to shake off the damage.   Now that all the serpentlings appear to be dead, the party finds a femur bone and wraps it with flammable crud, which Agapia then lights. The place reeks of reptilian droppings, but there do not seem to be any exits out of the place - all the walls appear to be solid. Agapia and Lokan milk the hatchlings for their venom into her clay pot, though the poison splashes on the girl's skin, burning her. While the others search the cave, Yuri buries the remains just outside the cave. Occasional copper and silver coins glitter amid the trash, but Alden finds something more valuable - a gold ring, which he takes off a skeletal finger. Lokan also finds a glass bottle, and pockets that. Along one cave wall, there is a large charred mark. which Agapia begins to magically clean. Soon, an inscription in Rakhman lettering is evident: it reads "Speak my jinn name, and enter". Lokan and others begin to repeat various mystical sounding names, but to no avail - no magical portal opens. Augusta, schooled in secret knowledge of various peoples, informs the party that jinn are creatures of fire, and have their own tongue. The solution suddenly dawns on Yuri, and he yells for his companions to hold their makeshift torch up to the inscription. With a lot of grinding and scraping, the stone gives way, and a narrow spiral staircase opens behind it. Grabbing Agapia, who has entered some sort of a reverie, her companions shove her through before the rock lowers itself back into place.   At the bottom of the staircase, a long, smooth cobblestone passage made by artifice leads deeper into the hill. The group needs a place to rest after a difficult day - hopefully, somewhere, where the returning serpent will not be able to get to them. They advance down the passage, and soon see an solid oaken door at its end. Alden moves toward the door, and is almost mowed down by a pendulum like scythe that suddenly falls on him from the ceiling right just in front. As he jumps back, a mournful bell tolls just on the other side of the door...

Rewards Granted

  • Lamellar armor
  • Bow
  • Quiver of arrows
  • Dagger
  • Gold ring
  • Glass bottle
  • 10 uses of hatchling venom
  • Femur being used as a torch

Missions/Quests Completed

  • Vizier's soldiers intimidated
  • Fire snakes cut down
  • Yaqub's lair found and entered

Report Date
01 Feb 2019
Primary Location
The Village of the Chwee
Secondary Location
Yaqub's Lair

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