Saga of the Serpent's Skull

Into the Expanse

Having found a patron and a guide, the party set out from the colonial city of Eleder in search of storied Saventh-Yi, golden city of fallen Azlant. While the Free Captains of the Shackles prepared their caravan, Aerys Mavato passed down the orders: the party was to serve as scouts ahead of the main expedition and blaze a path through the plains of Sargava to the interior city of Kalabuto. In Kalabuto, they were to meet with a dwarven explorer and provisioner by the name of Chiton who would further outfit them for the next leg of the journey, to the ruins of Taizon and thence to Saventh-Yi.

And so the whole adventuring group, Pezock in tow, set out on the dusty trail westward. At the feet of the Bandu hills the party saw the opportunity to take a shortcut through an abandoned salt mine. A wild woman with a dinosaur companion confronted them near the gate. This was the daughter of the mine’s owner, orphaned and abandoned in the wilderness in her youth by the arrival of ravening undead in the mine. She offered her services as a guide if the party would enter the tunnels and retrieve a last memento of her slain family. Akker led the way and nearly stumbled into an acidic crystal ooze; nearly. Deeper in the caves were salt-encrusted ghouls whom the party burnt and beat into true death, despite their attempts to salt-cure the group in falling rocks. On the corpses and in a lockbox the group found the deed to the mine, and the family heirloom they sought. The ghouls guarded not only treasure, but a huge crystal orb pulsing with blue light an malevolence. Turnabout is fair play, and the druid magically coaxed the ceiling to collapse onto the orb, shattering it and snuffing out its dread light. The group gave the locket and the deed to the mine’s rightful owner and she led the party by secret paths back to the trail to Kalabuto.

Continuing, the scouts happened on an exciting cockfight about to run in a corral on the edge of a small village along the road. The reigning champion, Cornugon, was set to fight a fiery young upstart grandly titled “Muddy Liza”. Any qualms about the ethics of cockfighting were swept aside by building excitement for the main event as the party made their bets. Great competition can be had even in a dusty nameless town in the Mwangi Expanse. Cornugon had an august record and was favored to win 2:1 and Vanua, Erethemos, Hauk and Aldis set their token on him, while Akker and Thorrod (rugged northerners who knew the value of grit and determination) rooted for the underdog. Most of the spectators took up viewing positions around the edge of the fence, but before the fight began both sides wove upon their champions intricate layers of eldritch power, raising the already magnificent stakes even higher.

All around the center of the arena, a choir of thirteen virgin priestesses of the gods of good sang a hymn to the spirit of victory. The High Magistrate gave his wordless sign and court eunuchs clad all in silver and chalcedony raised their mallets and struck the ancient starmetal gong atop the ziggurat. The pure, clear tone thundered for miles as the fight began. Cornugon struck first.

Cornugon the Great. Conugon the Prideful.

Cornugon whose mind is pure machinery!
Cornugon whose blood is running money!
Cornugon whose fingers are ten armies!
Cornugon whose breast is a cannibal dynamo!
Cornugon whose ear is a smoking tomb!
Cornugon! Cornugon!
Nightmare of Cornugon!
Cornugon the loveless!
Mental Cornugon!
Cornugon the heavy judger of men!

In his haste to dispatch such a meager opponent, the once-champion became entangled in his own sable finery. Mudy Liza struck at once, with all the fury of a people long oppressed. He wore the humble brown and noble mien of one who knows that the greatest power is mastery over one’s self. Cornugon was rent and torn asunder that day on the field of strife. The sky darkened and Lash, called then the World-Serpent, emerged from a tear in the clouds and reached his maw towards the shattered Cornugon. Before the fallen champion could be consumed by divine judgement, The Oracle spoke for the first time in more than a century. His voice, rough with long disuse, entreated the Powers for mercy. Cornugon had once been great, he said, and deserved reprieve from consumption in the fires of the All-Furnace. The Beast in the sky signaled his assent and retreated from whence he came. Cornugon would not die today, but his power was forever broken.

Meanwhile, Akker jumped over the fence, grabbed Muddy Liza and ran off towards the Bandu Hills to await the other adventurers. Everyone decided not to eat the remaining chicken. The man taking the bets claimed they cheated (which is clearly false) and wouldn’t give Thorrod his winnings. After some persuasion and intimidation, he forked over the cash and slunk off to his hovel.

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