When you reach the site of the attack, you find Cochran’s body still there. There are two large fang marks in his shoulder and you can see varicose veins extending from the wounds. One of his arms is gone and the shoulder it was attached to appears to be hyperextended.
Dc12: You find one small spot of blood on the ground 10 feet away from Cochran. Next to it you see bits of chainmail and a broken arrow shaft.
Dc15: A small blood trail leads from the spot near Cochran down the road where you came from and ends 30 feet later. A small bandage wrapping is found at the end.
Dc16: You notice a broken branch on the northern side of the road and an assortment of small boot-prints.
Dc14: Behind the blood spatter, you notice a winding indent in the road. It looks like someone had dragged a body along it in a zig-zag pattern with considerable speed. (+2 bonus to track)
Track Dc 18
The trail leads you to an overgrown stone structure that digs into the hillside. Two serpent sculptures flank the entrance, a large stone door with no visible handle.
(“Knock” spell will open the door automatically. Dc 14 search check will reveal that a fang on one of the serpent statues is on a hinge)
The stone door rolls to the side revealing a pitch dark room of unknown size (sunrods will fully illuminate).
Once illuminated, you can see that the room is 40 feet wide by 60 feet long. There are bloodstains on the stone floor of varying ages, some appear to be months or years old. There is a row of benches on either side of the room. There is set of wooden double doors on the opposite side of the room with a small padlock.
(spot check, opposed to +3 hide)
(If spot check passed) You notice a pair of feet in riding boots crouching behind the benches on the left.
(If spot check passed) You also notice the tip of a high-bound jet-black ponytail poking out from behind the benches on the right.
(If spot check failed) A humanoid figure with glistening skin and snake-like features emerges from behind the benches and attacks you with a longbow.
Combat, 2 serpentkin cultists
(If enfys is with players) Enfys puts away her sword and says: “Well, that was unnecessary. I’m ready to be done with this place. Let’s get Niles and piss off”
The door swings open revealing some sort of ritual chamber. Large symbols are drawn on the walls in blood and chalk while candles flicker in a circle. Niles is in the center, chained to an alter and barely conscious. They’re bleeding slowly but steadily from the wrists and they have signs of torture on their chest.
A reptilian creature emerges from the shadows. It has black scales dulled down with white ash and a scaly crest on it’s head is died red with blood. It’s shape is that of a snake with a pair of muscular humanoid arms. Above the shoulders of these arms is a snake’s head on a thick neck. It is positioned upright at about the height of an orc, but it could conceivably stand much taller It speaks with a raspy voice and an accent you don’t recognize: “Your attempts at interruption are meaningless. The ash lord’s forces will soon overtake what remains. Those foolish enough to resist their own salvation will perish in the flames of his conquest.”
the creature pulls out a long spear and a shield and says: “Come then, face me and I will spill your blood in the name of the ash lord.”
Combat with Yuan-Ti
The abomination collapses into a bleeding heap, riddled with injuries.
Niles begins to stir: “Can someone come over here and help me out please.”
Niles rubs the chafe-marks on their wrists and says: “Ugh. I hate snakes. Oh, sorry.” Niles salutes and says “Scout-recruit Robyn Niles, pleased to meet you, though I wish there had been ale involved rather than imminent death and Cultists.”
(If enfys is there)
Enfys looks over the corpse of the abomination and says: “We’ve seen their like before, although the serpentkin have not been seen in their number. They’re scourge Worshippers calling themselves the Ashen Order. They believe the Scourge is a Culling of sorts that will wipe away those they consider unworthy. Usually, the stick to Heptusian slums and slaving routes. This is the first we’ve seen them so far north.”
Niles says: “Let’s check the room, there might be something we can use.”
(If Enfys is not there)
Niles grabs a plackard off the wall. It’s painted with the image of a drop of blood wreathed in fire. “The others will want to see this. I think it’s one of their symbols. We should search the room for anything valuable”
A brief search reveals a chest at the foot of the altar that Niles was chained to. The chest contains a variety of precious gems (dc 12 appraise reveals that the gems are worth 10,000gp total).
After a brief rest, Niles says they are able to walk. It is dusk by the time you get to the camp.
As you walk into war tent, Myran glares at you and says: “While you were off playing rescue, A Kaptalis secret guard team showed up on a capture mission. We took injuries and they took five of our people, including Declan. This is why I said we need to keep moving. We just traded five comrades for one.”
Enfys retorts: “Yes, but they’re still alive. Niles would be dead right now if we hadn’t done that. Besides, I saw the cartwheel tracks on the way over. They were heading down the road to Gildenport. Which means we can go after them.”
Niles informs you that the original planned route to Gildenport is too dangerous to take civilians on and offers to guide you on a game trail through the woods that will circumvent a guarded bridge and what they refer to as “the sketchiest cave in Irythan”
Niles’ route is difficult, but not dangerous. By sundown, you can see the lights of Gildenport on the horizon.