City of Snakes

Now its a Race
After leaving the Peaks of Flame, the party flies on to the lost city of Omu. They arrive just as their spell of flying wears off and land outside the city. Omu is a large city built in a miles long depression in the jungle, ringed by tall cliffs. At one end a river flows into the depression, flooding part of the city, before emptying into a massive lava filled rift. The city is overgrown with jungle plants. At one tip of the city, they find a massive staircase carved from the cliffs. At the base of the stairs is an old guardhouse. They explore it and decide to make it their base. Kiistnoa repairs the broken portcullis, but they hold off on closing it for fear of attracting attention. Grafitti covers the walls of the guard house, and some of them seem to offer clues.
The party begins exploring the city, heading up a large boulevard. Along the way is a walled compound with some smoke drifting up from it. When they enter, they find freshly burned human bodies. Exploring the buildings, they find a wounded old man who appears to be a scribe. He is Orvix, he says he was hired by a group of wizards to help them explore the city and has been mapping the city. Iakin suggests they take him back to their camp and has Tamaran heal him. They return to the guardhouse and begin questioning Orvix. He says he is from Neverwinter and was hired by a group of the Red Wizards of Thay. The Red Wizards are notoriously evil, Orvix says they are looking for the Soulmonger also, but their camp was attacked and the wizards killed by a group of yuan-ti. Orvix has a map showing where the nine shrines to the Trickster Gods are, each shrine has part of the puzzle they need to solve to deal with the Soulmonger. Before they start seeking the shrines, Orvix tells them the legend of the Trickster Gods, and what creatures represent each god. They head to the nearest shrine of Kubazan the Froghemoth. The shrine has a large pool with a frog statue on an island in the middle, other statues have fallen in the pool and form crude steeping stones. Orvix says the Red Wizards were attacked here and some of them fell in the water and disappeared. Iakin and Nanoc grab wood beams and plancks from a nearby crumbling building to make bridges across the pool. When the reach the other side, a froghemoth comes out of the pool and attacks, grappling Nanoc and Iakin in its tentacles. They break free and attack and the rest of party shoots spells amd missiles across the pool. Talya hits the beast with a Guiding Bolt and Korinn uses her lightning gauntlets to shoot electrically charged arrows. The beast dies under their onslaught. Moving into the shrine, they are hit by a wave of Fear from the gate and most of the party flees. A few recover on their own, but some people need to be magically cured of the fear. Inside the shrine is a sunken room, across the way is an alcove with an altar holding the puzzle cube. The floor has sword length spikes, but the lip of the pit is ringed with stepping stones protruding from the wall. Kiistnoa decides to simply use his Boots of Jumping and jumps across the pit to the altar with a rope tied around his waist. He makes the leap and secures the rope. He snatches the puzzle cube off the altar and leaves somestuff in its place. Then he tries to come back across on the rope, but slips and falls. Fortunately he lands between the spikes and can move across the floor to the other side. The party drops a rope and pulls him out. With the first puzzle piece, they return to the guardhouse.

No Prize for Second Place
The next day the party heads for some shrines on the east side, near the river that flows into the lava lake. The first shrine is to the kamadan Shagambi, the shrine inscription reads "Shagambi, teach us how to fight evil with honor" Inside the shrine are broken kamadan statues and four dead soldiers of the Red Wizards. And the puzzle cube is missing…
They move the next shrine, but encounter a group of vegepygmies with a grung hostage. They decide to attack and rescue the grung. Aria uses Minor Illusion to fake a Wall of Fire to hold off the vegepygmies. They easily slay them and rescue the grung. He is Imbok, a servant of the shrine of Nangnang under Chief Yorb. He offers them the shrines's hospitality. They will head there, but first will stop at the shrine of Moa, the jaculi. Moa's shrine is on a pinnacle in the lava lake. Korinn ties two ropes together and Iakin hurls a grappling hook across. The hook catches securely, but the cliff crumbles beneath Iakin. He holds onto the rope and swings down, hitting the pinnacle, then climbs up. He tosses the rope back so the party can cross. The shrine's inscription says "Moa teaches us that secrets hide the truth" Inside are shattered jaculi statues and the puzzle cube is missing again.
The party returns to the mainland and heads for Nangnang's shrine. Crossing the river, they are attacked by an archer on nearby rooftops. The party returns fire and wounds the archer, a tabaxi named Bag of Nails, who comes forward in a truce to parley. He offers them shelter and food and explains he is here fighting evil, trying to find an artifact that will allow him to resurrect his dead son. They tell him about the death curse and how it will prevent the safe resurrection of his son. But, since they are trying to lift the death curse, helping them will help his quest. He offers them shelter in the building he has fortified and feeds them. But the tabaxi is insane and a liar, the party is wakened at midnight as a magical poison tries to kill them and Bag of Nails attacks them. Even poisoned, they kill him easily and settle in to wait for the poison to wear off.

Gaining on the Wizards
In the morning, the party debates their next move, deciding between visiting the grung shrine and trying the others. They decide to continue going to nearby shrines. The next shrine is that of Unkh, the flail snail. The first room in the shrine is some kind of workshop, the walls are covered in keys. The inscription says "Unkh urges us to contrast all options before acting. In the shrine is a flail snail statue, around the room are six giant keys hanging on the walls and a pedestal with a small keyhole. Shrieking noises approach and spectral undead come from the walls. The party fights and slays them quickly and returns to the puzzle. Eventually they figure that the six giant keys fit together to show the shape of the key that fits in the pedestal. They search the workshop and find the right key. It turns in the pedestal and the statue's snail shell opens to reveal the puzzle cube.
The party moves to the next shrine, keeping a watch for enemies. There next stop is the shrin of I'jin, the Almiraj. The shrine's inscription says "I'jin teaches us to take the path least expected". An almiraj pokes its head out of its burrow and Tamaran shapeshifts into a rat to explore, in case there's a secret passage in the burrow, but there is not. The entrance to the shrine is a hallway floored in pictogram tiles of various animals. They start exploring and find poisoned darts shoot from the wall if you move down the stones. But what's the secret. Nanoc rolls stones down the floor, the dart shooters reload and keep shooting. Tamaran tries moving through as a giant spider, but ends up being darted. Kiistnoa tries moving through and ends up on the same tile with Tamaran Aria points out the left hand row only has one of each animal and Iakin moves forward along the path. But since Tamaran and Kiistna are on an eagle tile, darts fly when Iakin steps on an eagle tile also. Eventually everyone moves to safety on the other side. Beyond is a simple maze, the paths lead to more animal tiles and one of the stones. They take the puzzle cube, but Remoro is curious about what the tiles do and steps on one. An axe blade swings out from the wall, wounding him and he decides not to test anymore tiles.
Finally the party reaches the shrine of Nangnang the grung. This shrine is actually populated and the grung are willing to let them enter the shrine to try their luck. The inscription reads "Nangnang teaches us only to serve ourselves" The shrine has a fire pit with the inscription "Whoever amongst you is the richest, bring us your gifts". Eventually Kiistna puts the Bag of Holding with the other stones in the pit and they are able to grab the new puzzle cube while the others appear to burn. But when they pull the bag out, everything is intact.

An Offer You Can't Refuse
The party decides to explore the last three shrines which are north of the flooded area.The grungs offer them two boats to carry them across. The frst shrine is to Pazacatl, it is also partly flooded. The shrine says "Pazacatl teaches us to bow to no one." When they enter the shrine, they hear something running towards them; its a Red Wizard fleeing in panic. Tamaran casts Charm Person and the wizard stops and answers questions. He and a partner were trying to recover the puzzle cube, but they were attacked and the puzzle cube is gone.
The party explores and finds the decapitated body of the other wizard and an empty pedestal with a riddle in Common, the answer is "a shadow". With a Light spell casting shadows, Talya bows to the six statues around the room and passages open behind them. Most lead to traps but one leads to another roon with a pedestal, there is a square outline in the dust from the missing puzzle cube. The captured wizard says his remaining partners were going to attack the Yuan-Ti camp tonight. The party decides to head to the camp, let the bad guys soften each other up and they take out the winner and recover more cubes. Not wanting to kill the wizard in cold blood they leave him behin, bound in the shrine. But as they sail away, a giant crocodile snatches him off the steps and eats the wizard.
The party travels to wear the Yuan-ti are supposed to be camped and wait for the Red Wizards to attack. Two show and attack, but are quickly slain by the outer guards. Tamaran shapeshifts into a giant spider and climbs the wall and spies on the Yuan-ti guards. Aria, Remoro and Therhana will turn invisible and try to sneak in when the party attacks. The rest of the party goes to attack, but a horde of Yuan-ti swarm out of the ruins behind them, including their leader on a T-rex. Remoro Fireballs them with little effect. Therhana escapes invisible and Tamaran changes into a chipmunk to scurry away.The rest are taken prisoner, stripped, gagged and bags are put over their heads. They are marched inside and put in a cell. The next day they are hooded again and taken to a large cavern and put to work throwing corpses to feed a hydra in a pool. The next day is the same, but Iakin finds a partial map on the on a body and conceals it in his pants. A female Yuan-ti priestess comes to watch them, she later has them brought before her. She offers a deal. She wants the Lich Raz Nazee destroyed and his influence over the Yuan-ti ended. One of the Yuan-ti rulers is dying and he does not want to be affected by the Soulmonger. She will have them released from their cell and gives them directions to where their weapons are and where to go in the complex. There will also be some other slaves put in to aid them. Once everything is in place, the priestess' guards release them and take them to the armory. The guards on their cell ndrink a potion to knock them selves out so it looks like the party poisoned them to escape. The party and slaves get their equipment, but when they emerge from the armory, their guides are dead.

Silly Quotes and Smart Remarks
Reading the grafitti in the guard house
Jim "We missed the poetry slam"
Alicia "For a good time, call…"

A long boulevard runs almost all the way across the city, north to south
Bonnie "The Boulevard of Broken Dreams"

The rescued scribe has a russian accent
Mike "I'm following Lee's tradition of making NPCs Russian"

The Red Wizards were attacked by yuan-ti
Mike “They were very ssstealthy”
Jim “They sssnuck up on them”
Mike “Yessss”

Rehashing for people who missed the last session, we need to collect nine puzzle stones
Caite "Is there a magic glove this is going in?"

Discussing marching order, Scott M and Scott C are at the rear
Bonnie "Two Scotts in the rear"
Lee, Scottish accent "Two Scots in the rear, that's the punchline of every joke in Glasgow"

Lots of wine and snacks were passed around the table
The party lights torches as they enter a shrine
MC, waving her wine glass "We're lit"
Jim "Some more than others"
Aria casts a Minor Illusion to fake a Wall of Fire, but we're having trouble seeing the map because of all the food on the table
Bonnie "Wall of Fire, Wall of Snacks"

Trying to decide where to go next
Bonnie "Mystery Shrine for 400"

The ghast shrieks when hit by a Firebolt
Caite "Like a lobster when you drop it in the pot"

Making comments about lubricating the key before putting it in the pedestal
Alicia "Just spit on it and stick it in"
Mike "Alicia likes it rough"

Jim botches on his stealth check
Mike "Jim's character falls and all his stuff rattles"
Bonnie "He falls into a china shop"

Discussing music
Scott C "Dubstep sounds like Optimus Prime jerking off"

Lee’s character steps on a tile and a blade swings out from the wall and hits him
Lee <shouting back through the maze> “Do not step on the tiles!”
Scott M, pretending to misunderstand “You have large piles?”
Marcus “You want to see Ryan Stiles?”