Chapter 13

Return to Bendajee

January 12, 2020

As the sun was going down, the party considered their return to Bendajee via the door on the Infinite Staircase that opened into a luxurious bedroom. It was decided that everyone would use the Circlet of Seeming to disguise themselves as dancing girls and rentboys in order to slip out of the house and out the back gate into the streets without attracting undue attention. After all, four of the seven had bounties on their heads for fighting Sir Jallred and Sir Vanson only the day before yesterday. Naliyi opted for a slightly altered image of herself so as to pose as the group’s guardian and keep creeps at bay.

After bribing their way through the gates of the Upper City in order to escape to the City Proper before curfew, the adventurers selected a shady establishment in a rough quarter of town near the docks called the Golden Goose. There they met a bard by the name of Juan de los Aguilars who was able to see through their illusory disguise with his Magical Monocle of Illusion Diffusion and recognized the four wanted members. He had a proposition: help him rescue the daughter of his rich and powerful patron who might be able to fix their trouble with the law. Left unsaid was the implication that Juan could expose them at any moment if they refused.

The adventuring party, still looking like peddlers of flesh, followed Juan to the Gleaming Goat, one of Bendajee’s most notorious dens of iniquity. He knew his patron’s daughter had run off to join a snake-worshipping sex cult which had a ritual scheduled for that very night in the catacombs beneath. As it was run by the Thieves Guild, it was up to Raz to form a rapport with the guild member guarding the door to the catacombs and she slipped him an emerald to look the other way while she and her “plaything” friends descended in search of the snake cult.

At a junction room, two men armed with scimitars called for the party to declare themselves before slipping down the corridor they were guarding. The adventurers followed them down to a small amphitheater chamber where the girl Juan was after was crying for help, tied to a post in front of a giant snake’s head carved out of the rock wall whose leering mouth showed only a black void.

The party had interrupted a sacrificial ceremony and the cult ambushed them upon entry, but Gloucester ignited a powerful double-fireball which annihilated most of the cultists in a single attack. As Naliyi and Raz cleaned up the remaining guards, both of whom had eerie reptilian traits, Gloucester and Formosa rushed to untie the poor girl. At that point, a giant three-headed snake lurched through the veil of black in the carved serpent’s mouth and attacked them both.

After killing two of the three heads on the monster only to have two more grow back in place of each, the adventurers found themselves facing a five-headed hydra in full attack mode, knocking Gloucester and Formosa prone. By the time Feti’s Staff of Healing raised them, the hydra had grown to seven heads and was between them and the rest of the group, who were heading for the exit. Faced with almost certain death in trying to get past it, both of them opted to leap into the unknown void from whence the hydra had come while everyone else retreated to the junction room.

The hydra did not seem to follow and after a short rest the party investigated the ritual chamber to find the body of the girl consumed and signs of a few others being dragged back to the monster’s point of entry. However, where the giant carved serpent’s gaping maw had previously shown an impenetrable veil of darkness, it had reverted to its natural condition of a plain stone wall. Gloucester and Formosa were lost on the other side of the portal which had now closed.

The adventurers decided to call it a night, having failed to rescue the daughter of Juan’s patron and having lost two companions to wherever the hydra made its lair. They returned to their rooms at the Golden Goose bruised and beaten.

Chapter 14: The Sultana Marid