May 11, 2019
One by one, the adventurers came to be in the village of Saddoon, lured by the promise of 500 gold pieces to whoever could find Lord Daxyl Saddoon’s son, Tarik, missing in the desert. Gazande, being a noble paladin and a dragonborn with gold scales, was offered the master bedroom at the local tavern while the rest had to settle for common rooms.
After some stiff introductions, they somewhat agreed to work together on the problem and then went out to enjoy the gypsy caravan show which had been in the village all day before each adventurer arrived. Raz had her fortune read and Seran and Zeex tried some brewed drinks, while Gazande paid to take a peek at the captive blue dragon the gypsies claimed to have. At sundown, the gypsies left, heading down the jungle road to Ajula, two days to the southwest.
The next dawn, Gazande was roused from his sleep by panicked villagers – three families whose first born children had vanished in the night. They suspected the gypsies and Gazande was implored to help, which of course he volunteered to do. First, however, he wanted to check in with Lord Daxyl and went to see him with Rhodedendron doing most of the talking. Peg-legged and senile, he was only worried about his son and would hear of nothing else, so the adventurers decided to go after the gypsies immediately.
The journey to Ajula being fifty miles, an old shrine marks the halfway point a day’s march from either end where the party found signs of recent homage, unusual in that nobody regards the ancient stone column as anything more than a camping spot. They also noticed tracks leading off into the jungle and a broken, overgrown road with signs of recent passage. Although it was already late in the day, the party decided to make use of the waning light to see what lay down this obscure path.
Gazande took the lead, with a lantern in hand, but it was actually Seran who, in an attempt to stealthily investigate flickering torches and chanting up ahead, tripped and fell, making such noise that it interrupted the ceremony. Soon the party found themselves being attacked by goblins and a horde of snakes, but Zeex pushed through into the clearing where he saw six stone columns each with a child tied to it, surrounding a broad, shallow bowl-like depression in the ground filled with writhing snakes, and the gypsy wagons parked nearby.
One column had an adult man tied to it, who turned out to be Tarik Saddoon, Lord Daxyl’s missing son. The fight heated up with the gypsies revealing themselves to be black-robed cultists with a vile cockatrice turned loose against the party, but handily dispatched by Gazande and Zeex. When Zeex got too close to the wagon containing the “blue dragon” it turned out to be only a giant constrictor snake with wings tied to its back, but a dangerous opponent nonetheless. Meanwhile, Raz and Rhodedendron set about freeing the sacrificial victims, only to have the children all chased by the giant constrictor. Two of them perished when they tumbled into the snake pit. The cultists and the snake were ultimately defeated and three of the five children saved.
After a long night’s rest, the adventurers investigated the gypsy wagons for goods and treasure, as well as retrieving the treasure chest at the center of the snake pit with a net and ropes. It was filled with coins and gems, while the wagons yielded a magical Circlet of Seeming, an artifact the cultists had obviously used to disguise themselves as gypsies, for up close they did not pass for human but rather something vaguely more reptilian. The other significant artifacts they found in the wagons were an Alchemy Jug and a mysterious chess set of obscure magical power.
The day ended with the adventurers driving all four wagons out of the sacrificial spot and parking at the shrine midway between Ajula and Saddoon. The next day they made the trip back to Saddoon and arrived at sunset to be hailed as heroes. Two of the children who survived were actually older children from the neighbouring village of Tazir, whom Gazande promised to take home the next day. In the meantime there was much celebrating to be done and the party was rewarded with a further 500 gold as well as full ownership of the wagons and their contents.