A Monkey on His Back
The group set out towards the territory of the yuan ti temple. Journey on the road continued, following the road, with Wendeam and a miniaturized Ariel scouting by invisible flight and the rest riding phantom steeds. The whole plateau is covered with heavy jungle canopy and frequent clouds, though Wendeam, being an elemental of air, could see through it, and saw the gargantuan gorilla sitting atop a rock promontory off in the distance. He seemed to be looking for something. He suddenly moved in the direction of the group, which seemed bad… but then veered off. About this time, a group of carnivorous apes attacked! Deciding that fighting them seemed pointless, the riders used the speed of the phantom steeds to escape them, though the apes did pelt them with rocks… and other things.
More scouting around and everyone saw the gargantuan gorilla, who seemed to have a smaller gorilla on his shoulder, which looked ominous and incredibly sad at the same time.
Discretion suggested that camp be set up somewhere that the gargantuan gorilla couldn’t easily get, so a small valley was chosen and Rope Trick employed to make a safe (if uncomfortable and cramped) camp.
Exercising an abundance of caution, Wendeam was rendered invisible and went out. He saw a few strange looking gray-furred apes hiding in the trees, in an obvious ambush position. There were four small ones and one large, four armed one. He went back into the Rope Trick, seemingly unobserved. Zell knew what they were, the dreaded su monsters, who were threatening both physically and psionically. She recommended an aggressive attack, proceeding out to slip up rapidly to the four armed one, taking it by surprise, though to no avail, as she missed. Everyone else followed hoping that Zell’s plan of aggressive assault would kill them before they were able to do more damage. They still packed plenty of punch, both physical and mental, but were cut down, with Wendeam meleeing the large one. The fight was a tough one, but eventually they were dispatched and the group set out again.
van Rijn suspected that the su monsters were controlling the gargantuan gorilla and vowed to return to free him when the business with the yuan ti was done.
“Heroes” of Might and Magic
Proceeding onwards, Wendeam’s ability to control temperature maintained a state of comfort. After some travel they arrived at a sequence of very old snake statues. Some examination by van Rijn showed that they appeared to show now signs of Chaos and seemed to have been casually vandalized recently, or ignored. They certainly didn’t seem as malevolent, and Ariel felt they appeared rather sad.
As van Rijn was studying it, Andra heard a tell-tale buzz of some large flying insects and Wendeam, who could see through the mists, spotted large serpent flies heading in for the attack. Three quick moving giant dragonflies attacked Andra, Zell, and van Rijn, ignoring Ariel (who is not attacked by beasts or plants) and Wendeam (who is not edible). Picking anyone up was beyond the flies, but only Zell was hit. Wendeam engaged the serpent fly who had not attacked yet in melee and Andra used the electric arc, after using the Ruinous Glove to ward off snapping mandibles. It chose to leave and flew away to the south, towards a hive off in the distance. The others were undeterred, and their incredible swiftness meant they could escape nearly any attack, though some shots went their way. Eventually Andra used a Wall of Fire to drive them off. The flies abandoned the group as being too dangerous to eat. Andra realized that his old comrade Korbac had been raising dragonflies in the hopes of turning them into warbeasts, and wondered if this is what he would have obtained.
The path forked three ways, one continuing up the mountain following the snake statues, one going south towards the serpent fly hive, the third went north, in the direction of some horse tracks and signs of a cart with some humanoids with clawed feet. After some deliberation, north was chosen. A bit more traveling revealed a strange scene: A man wearing a breastplate and a green cloak on a horse. The cart proved to be a ballista, crewed by two men wearing blue and white tabards. The troops were four gnolls. He was studying heavy forest ahead. There was a hydra statue on the path and Wendeam spotted the head of a massive hydra popping up above the canopy.
After a careful an open approach (with Zell and Ariel hiding), the strange man said his name was Gerwulf. Andra felt s strange kinship and Gerwulf claimed that he’d been hired by “Lord Player” at “the tavern” and that he knew Andra’s old flame Adrienne the Fire Witch, last seen in Vorion. He proposed an alliance. He said he needed to defeat the hydra that lay beyond that was blocking his access to gnolls and lizard men. Recruiting them was his job. He said Lord Player would be willing to ally, though he was puzzled at Andra’s “army”, containing a djinn and a swordsman. He didn’t know what to make of either Zell and Ariel when they appeared. He also said he knew that there was an enemy city in the direction of what the group supposed was the Yuan Ti temple.
So the group went forward, Zell sneaking and Wendeam flying and using his crossbow to shoot one of the hydra’s heads. Unfortunately more sprouted where those were, revealing the dreaded Lernean hydra! Gerwulf ordered his gnolls forward while Wendeam and Zell stood back. The gnolls were annihilated by the angered hydra. Ariel enlarged Wendeam and van Rijn slowed the ponderous beast. Andra fireballed it, but the spell seemed to have no effect, as the heads had already regenerated. Some more heads were dispatched and flame used to kill them, but the hydra still had nine and was very dangerous. Realizing that timing was of the essence, van Rijn ordered everyone to ready to attack the heads just before Andra was to drop fire on the creature.
At this point Gerwulf and his compatriots, revealed to be rakshasa, treacherously struck!
One wounded Ariel badly but once again, Andra’s Ruinous Glove warded off his attacker. Zell, figuring that the hydra needed to die anyway, struck it, and her scimitar of sharpness lopped a huge chunk off the hydra, killing several heads, van Rijn finished the other. Andra once again used the Wand of Fire to dispatch the hydra. The rakshasa carried on witty banter as they fought with the party, proving to be amazingly tough, though Zell and van Rijn finished one off after Ariel used the Fractal Blades on it. They weren’t great combatants, but one used a lightning bolt to fry Zell, van Rijn, and Ariel, who was knocked down by it. Eventually the other two were dispatched, the final one having its arm cleaved off at the shoulder by Zell’s keen scimitar. One thing disturbing about the rakshasa was the fact that they were creatures of Law. They proudly bragged about how they engaged in “austerities to honor the universe” only to commit atrocities later. This was something Wendeam was left to ponder, not with quiet thoughts.
After the fight, Andra and Ariel extraced alchemical reagents from the hydra and rakshasa using the Intellect Syringe recovered from the crazy Dr. Joost. The freed lizard men and gnolls offered to join Andra’s army, and agreed to provide a place to rest.