Day 4: 14th Day, 7th Month, Year 507
After having slain the priests, Alamar decided to put on the high priest’s robes and take his serpent staff and walk into the room behind the great doors at the end of a brightly lit corridor. The rest of the group stayed behind in side passages to observe what happens and come to aid him as soon as a battle started.
Opening the door and stepping through it, Alamar entered a chapple that also looked like a throne room, and on the raised platform on the opposite wall of the chamber were two cultists sleeping at the feet of a figure dressed in red robes and a large snake over its shoulders.
Alamar tried to impersonate the dead priest and tell his mistress that intruder are in the temple. With a gesture of her hand the two cultists rose from their cushions and the snake started to move forward, and in a moment of panic Alamar reached out with his newly developing telepathic powers. Surprised, the priestess signaled her servants to halt, and Alamar heard her speaking into his mind as well, asking who he is and why he has come to this place. Sensing that his deception had utterly failed, he ran back to the others, and seeing that the game was up, Haren the group in a charge into the main chamber.
The two cultists were easily knocked down and Alamar unleashed a telepathic attack against the priestess. Dazes from the attack, the priestess rose from her seat, revealing the tail of a great serpent instead of legs. She removed her mask, revealing a face covered in green scales, and as her robes fell away she transformed into a giant snake.
Fighting off an assault from Haren and Karim, Finan landed a deep strike with his blade and one of Ilmari’s arrows stuck deep into the neck of the great snake. Haren landed a mortal blow with his axe and continued to sever the serpent’s head.
When the two cultists awoke they told a story of having been taken from Orlane and brought to the hidden temple, where they had been brought before the priestess and became convinced to loyally serve her and the Great Serpent. Others managed to resist and were taken back to their cells, to await being taken away on a ship as slaves. Those who died during their imprisonment were being fed to crocodiles.
Picking up the golden mask, the group returned to loot the treasure room and the priest’s quarters. They freed all the cultists they had locked into their sleeping rooms and found them in an equal state to the first two they had questioned. A bit confused and appalled by what had happened to their fellow villagers who had resisted the power of the priestess. Though of the cultists that had been guarding the main entranace to the hidden temple there was no trace to be found.
After resting from their ordeal, the group loaded the treasures taken from the temple on the pack goats kept in the stables and led the freed cultists back to Orlane. Kamir inspected the golden mask for magic, which it clearly was holding, and Alamar and Haren got into a long fight over whether they could risk using it and falling under a curse. The possibilities that the masters of the golden priestess could send their minions and use powerful magic to recover the mask was also worrying. Alamar was insistent that the mask might come very useful in the future if they were to attempt infiltrating another serpent temple, and with the robe and staff taken from the priest he had a perfect disguise.
Despite Alamar’s protests to keep their possession of the mask a secret, Haren and Finan went to the witch Remi to learn more about it’s power. After studying it and performing various divinations, Remi told them that the mask had strong influence over the weak minded. Even someone without any mental powers could use it to bend the minds of others, but its powers would be much greater for someone who already possesses magical abilities of this kind. Alamar saw great potential in such an object, but Haren was not trusting him with such power.
As the sun was setting, the group visited the elderman of Orlane, who was crowded by freed cultists who were telling him of what had happened to them. The elderman inquired if there was anything they could do to find the people who were still missing, and one of the former cultists mentioned that the ship that was taking away the slaves always came during the darkness of the night of the new moon. The next one of which would be two days from now. A plan was made to ambush the crew of the ship when it arrived at the secret temple and then take their ship to reach the stronghold of the cult’s leaders on Inixon. Taking the helmsman of the ship prisoner and forcing him to take him there was not considered reliable enough, and so a freed cultists named Kevan volunteered to steer the ship for them, as he had been a sailor in his youth, and more than eager to help the people who had freed them from the cult’s control to save the still missing slaves.
Haren decided to check on the smith of Orlane who had reacted to their questions so violently when they first investigated the village. One of the smith’s sons answered the door and recommended that they don’t disturb his father, as he had always been an ill-tempered man and had finally started to calm down today. A quick visit to the temple revealed that the corpses from the battle had been cleared away during the two days they had been gone and the captured cultists set free. As they returned to the inn for the night they discovered that their prisoners there were gone as well, and somehow nobody had seen the innkeeper and his lackeys since then.
During the night, Alamar snuck from his bed to quietly take the mask from Haren’s pack. He put it on to study its magical energies for several hours, and found it to be just as the witch had told them, with no signs of dark or malicious powers. He managed to put the mask back into its place unnoticed and returned to his bed with nobody being the wiser.