“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle
Siege Engine is…
Jager Von Graunemhugel, Male Human Ranger
Annie Oaklee, Female Half-Elf Fighter
Dahr Dracklestone, Dwarf Warlock
Durcrath Urrhishtaajuc, Dragonborn Monk
Rhys Maidens, Half-Elf Ranger
Tydohr Slowhammer, Half-Orc Barbarian
The Forbidden City
Omu lies within a valley deep within the Chult rainforest, surrounded on all sides by huge sheer cliffs. The city is notoriously hard to find. Those who try must contend with miles of trackless jungle inhabited by natural predators, cannibals, and the remnants of an ancient undead army. Even skilled guides have difficulty threading their way through.
Luckily for the members of Siege Engine, they were transported to Omu by a Red Wizard of Thay in the employ of the Port Nyanzaru Faction Council. They found themselves at what the Red Wizard called “The Basecamp,” a place where he would return every 24 hours to see if they had accomplished their mission to find four of the Omu Puzzle Boxes.
Omu was once the twinkle in the eye of Chult. Built over rich mineral veins, the city garnered wealth in abundance. Omuan jewelry was coveted far and wide, and the city’s merchants grew fat on commerce. To enter Omu, it was said, was to enter the gates of paradise itself. All because their god Ubato (oob-TAY-oh) blessed them with bounty. But the Omuan empire grew greedy and haughty. They turned away from Ubato and started to break his commandments. And after a time, their god turned away and left Chult forsaken.
Omu’s clerics lost their spells, and the city fell to sickness and disease. Slave uprisings wracked Omu, and its nobles fled in droves. Maps showing Omu’s location were destroyed, and its coins were melted down and reminted. Fallen from grace, Omu became known as “the Forbidden City.”
Then came the Nine Trickster Gods. With Ubtao gone, primal spirits arose from the rainforest to bewitch the few remaining Omuans. They disguised themselves as jungle creatures and promised great power in return for devotion. Desperate for redemption, the Omuans tore down their temple to Ubtao and raised shrines to these nine trickster gods.
The new deities were divisive and often cruel. Too weak to grant miracles to every follower, they concocted elaborate trials to winnow the clergy. The priests added traps, monsters, and other terrible features within each shrine. On holy days, the mettle of aspirant priests was tested in their nine shrines, with deadly consequences for failure. The trials provided entertainment for the degenerate Omuans and fed their weakling gods with much-needed sacrifices.
For nine decades, the city folk lived by the mantras of their trickster gods. They built statues in their names and schemed against each other to assert their chosen god’s dominance. Omu’s glorious past was lost, but its people endured. Such mercy did not last long.
Omu’s bloody trials drew the attention of Acererak, an archlich who wanders the cosmos in search of souls to harvest. Acererak, who is fond of deathtraps and deadly dungeons, marveled at the trials concocted by the Omuans. They inspired him to create his own dungeon below the city, calling it “The Tomb of Nine Gods.” Today, those who know of it prefer to name it “The Tomb of Annihilation.”
A little over a century ago, Acererak entered Omu and slew all nine trickster gods. He then enslaved the Omuans and forced them to carve out a tomb for their defeated gods. When the tomb was complete, Acererak murdered the Omuans and sealed them in the tomb with their false gods. The archlich resumed his odyssey across the planes, content that the dungeon would feed his phylactery with the souls of dead adventurers. The jungle reclaimed Omu, and it fell into ruin.
And now, thanks to the Death Curse, thousands of ripe souls are pouring into Chult looking for the city and the dungeon.
Acererak is pleased indeed.
THE BASE CAMP
Siege Engine found themselves in the ruins of an ancient guardhouse. complete with a lopsided, rusted portcullis hanging over the doorway entrance. They found that much of the interior had collapsed into rubble. Creeping plants and moss clung to the walls and the ground was covered in sprouts of high grasses. One wall was covered with graffiti written in various languages but mostly in Common. The remains of days old campfires are the only other thing of interest within the crumbling structure.
According to Omuan legends, the froghemoths were a creation of the primordial Ubtao. When Papazotl the eblis discovered Ubtao had forsaken the Omuans, he sent Kubazan the toad to parlay with Ubtao on behalf of the humans. But this enraged Kubazan, and he decided to wrest with Ubtao instead. Amused, the primordial gave Kubazan tentacles to make it stronger, creating the first froghemoth.
Siege Engine found the shrine easily by following the maps given to them by the Red Wizard. They discovered two methods of entry: a doorway shaped like a huge green devil’s mouth or a small dark window on the Eastern side of the shrine. An investigation found that the safest entrance would be that of the creepy mouth.
After testing the entrance by tossing stones into it, they carefully crawled into the shrine through the mouth carved into the door. They found themselves in a large musty roo covered with dust. There was a reinforced wooden doorway to the North and a sarcophagus in the center of the room. After wisely looking for traps, they decided to inspect the sarcophagus finding that it was marked on the top with an odd symbol and on the sides with logographic writings resembling all types of frogs and frog-like creatures.
Durcrath and Tydohr worked together to shove the top off of the sarcophagus causing it to smash to the floor and break into two pieces. Inside lay the skeleton of a humanoid dressed in fine Chultan clothing along with four small burlap sacks. An inspection of the sacks determined that it contained mostly decayed food and rations, although they did find some vials of precious antitoxin. Although the corpse was wearing silver jewelry, they decided not to take these items to avoid desecrating the body any further.
Moving on they tested the reinforced door for traps and Dahr discovered that the door did have an element next to the keyhole that could be turned or wound, probably activating a spring or set of gears set within the door itself. Although he wasn’t sure of exactly how it worked, he believed it was a trap. Using his Thieves Tools, he disabled the device so it would not turn. Afterward, he tested the door to discover it was unlocked. However, the door was very heavy! Although it was wooden, the interior of the door was a slab of granite probably weighing about 600 pounds!
Again, Durcrath and Tydohr worked together to shove the door open, revealing another large room. This one featured a raised platform in the center of it where stood what seemed to be a magical portal. A beautiful frame of copper and gold was carved with more of the same frog-ish symbols like the sarcophagus. Inside the frame was a glowing doorway of spirling light. Additionally, the room contained a set of steps to the East side of the room that led to a platform about 15 feet off the ground close to the ceiling. There was also another reinforced wooden door to the North.
Annie watched the others as they explored the room. She saw Dahr climb the steps and begin chanting a spell. Durcrath stood flicking his tongue out, testing the air. Rhys noticed the distinct smell of rat and kneeled down to peer into the darkness. Meanwhile, Tydohr clutched his waraxe, eager to kill something.
While Dahr cast Disguise Self to take on the appearance of a Grung, the others noticed two giant-sized rats on either side of the portal’s platform. They were close to the ground with their ears back, fangs bared, and tails whipping side to side. It was obvious that they saw Siege Engine, but were not sure if the party saw them in the dim light of the room. Their eyes glinted yellow in the light of Dahr’s torch. As Dahr began to dance and gyrate on the elevated platform, Tydohr fired a single arrow into the magical doorway while Durcrath shouted at the rats in the eerie sing-songy language of Infernal. Annie pointed her silver-plated Gnomish pistols at the rats while Rhys unsheathed her short swords.
The Dire Rats ats flinched at Durcrath spoke to them, but they did not move until Tydohr raised his ax and shouted a mighty warcry in an effort to Intimidate the rats of unusual size. The tactic worked, frightening the rats who had a “fight or flight” reaction causing them to snarl and attack. As Dahr continued to cavort on the platform, his companions quickly killed the rats.
Dahr had hoped that by taking the form of a Grung and dancing in front of the magical portal might do something to activate it. He focused on the frog-like symbols on the frame, imitating the postures in the form of a dance. After several moments of dancing, he stopped, realizing his efforts were not bringing the results he wished.
While the group considered what to do next, two large octopus-like green tentacles thrust out of the magical doorway, snatching two of the party, dragging them into the doorway. The others gave chase, leaping into the portal which simply led to the third and last chamber of the shrine.
Here they discovered a large deep murky pool of water that contained a legendary Kraken! On a pedestal in the middle of the pool was the puzzle box marked with froghemoth icons. Siege Engine did their best to battle the Kraken but it was too strong for them. Durcrath decided that it was time to grab the box and run. He scooped it up and rushed towards the door to leave. However, Durcrath decided to try to communicate with the box, hoping to use it to speak with the spirit of Kubazan.
Kubazan did hear and instructed Durcrath to shed blood upon the box. When he did so a glimmering mist rose from the box and formed into the shape of a small Froghemoth. The glimmering mist entered Durcrath’s body and suddenly the Dragonborn was aware that the Spirit of Kubazan was one with him. At that moment, his strength grew to that of a Giant. Durcrath asked Kubazan to help his friends. The Spirit of Kubazan ordered the Kraken to withdraw, and it did so.
With the danger passed and the box recovered, Siege Engine returned to the first room and made camp for the night. It was time for them to take a well-deserved rest.
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