It wasn't long before Yahru returned. He smiled (a somewhat creepy thing, his head being shaped like an anaconda's) and said, Ras Nsi will ssee you. We musst take you by the river, and we only have two boatss. I will pressent you. Ussal and Yasssah will row. Thiss leaves room for three. Five if you inssisst to come, but the boatss will be low in the water. The resst of you musst remain behind."
Yassah is one of the malisons under Ussal's command. Imogen, Dellrak, Myrral, and Chrysagon should go, I suppose. Any objections?
Detect Portal (1/R): Within 1 mile Planar Warrior: As a bonus action, choose one creature you can see within 30 feet of you. The next time you hit that creature on this turn with a weapon attack, all damage dealt by the attack becomes force damage, and the creature takes an extra 1d8 force damage from the attack. When you reach 11th level in this class, the extra damage increases to 2d8. Primeval Awareness (action and spell slot): For one minute per level of spell slot, detect within 1 mile (6 in favored terrain) aberrations, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead. This feature doesn’t reveal the creatures’ location or number.
With Imogen, Myrral, and Dellrack and Yassah in one boat, and Chrysagon and Ussal in the other, Yahru took one of the twisted yuan-ti broodguards and settled into the bow of the second boat. At first the strange creature seemed agitated, but the calm Yahru wrapped an arm around its lumpy shoulders and the thing calmed down.
Ussal and Yassah shoved the boats out with their oars and began to row into the dark underground river. It was slow going, with overloaded boats against the slow-moving current, but it wasn't terribly far. As they rounded a bend in the river, on the left, a pebble-strewn bank rose to a door recessed into the cavern wall.
On the right, the river wound around a natural pillar. The banks of the pillar was littered with skeletons. Ussal knew what would happen here, and he hated it. But there was nothing that could be done, and life in the Fane of the Night Serpent was a hard one and he had not survived as long as he had by being overly sentimental. As they passed the door, Yahru suddenly pushed the broodguard overboard. The creature hissed, squeaked, and thrashed about in the water (a surprisingly poor swimmer).
Then something very large moved under the boats and the broodguard was suddenly pulled under. Ussal and Yassah pulled their oars hard, moving as quickly as they could upriver and away. Suddenly the broodguard reappeared above the water, lifted by a large serpentine head. Four more heads burst the surface, spraying water on the slower boat, which threatened to capsize. The serpent heads fought over the unfortunate yuan-ti until the twisted thing was torn to shreds, and then the Hydra settled back into the river as the boats hurried away upriver, leaving the door and the pillar behind.
Miss Imogen saw the serpentine head emerge closest to her ship.
Back at School Miss Enna had taught them not to stand up in boats this small, and she knew it was inherently risky. She was also desperately low on arrows, she felt. Instead, she took advantage of the water she saw slicking of the ophidian's scales, and pulled her fist together, as frost began to form around its jowls.
Cast Frostbite against one of them. Con save vs. DC 12 or 2d6 cold damage (and disadvantage on next weapon attack (? = natural weapons)
As the temperature began to drop in the water-logged boat, frost began to form around Miss Imogen's tightened fist. Yassah, who was facing her while rowing, hissed in broken common, "Do not anger Hydra! Ssshe will kill usss all! Let her eat and sssink away."
Sure enough, as Imogen held back the full force of her magic, the boats pulled away, and the Hydra slipped back below the water.
Chrysagon was surprised by the cruel treatment of the guard, who must have known what was coming. He prayed that Kelemvor took the guards' soul by the hand and lead it to the proper afterlife.
Chrysagon turned his head and asked Ussal curiously; What is behind that door? It is a strange place for a door with such a beast right outside of it, don't you think?
"That is the sssanctuary of our people, living quarters if you will. Our people are our most prissed possession so it is guarded well. For you...well...entrance means sacrifice. Like that poor guard."
Ussal shrugs. Let them stew on it. "I hope I didn't put it too strongly, these adventurous humanoids always poke their noses where it is forbidden. But having high-value target is never good with grave robbers. So...living quarters will do. It is true in essence. Not understanding the castes...well, that is their problem."
he thinks rowing on.
Eventually the boats pulled up to a rocky beach that rose to a wide archway with flickering light beyond. Two guards stood by the archway - they appeared as muscular humans, but their cross-wrapped arms were coiled serpents.
While the others disembarked and Yassah secured the boats, Yahru walked up between the guards and bowed to the room beyond. He announced the arrivals in a loud voice and beckoned them to advance as the guards stood aside.
In the massive throne room ahead, four pillars supported the a vaulted ceiling, and steps ascended to an iron throne carved in the likeness of a hydra. Painted on the wall behind it was a large blue triangle.
"Sspeak resspectfully." warned Yahru, "You sstand before Ras Nsi, Warlord of Mezro, King of the Yuan-Ti, and Herald of the Apocalypsse."
Seated on the throne (if you could call it seated - his lower half was a serpent whose thick tail coiled about the base of the throne - he was more correctly propped against it) was a powerful-looking but pale man with a bandage wrapped around a scarred face.
"I welcome you to the Fane of the Night Serpent." he said in a deep voice that cracked with age, "Tell me your tale and I will hear it."
Miss Imogen nods at Yahru's guidance and she prepares to step forward. He bow is held in both hands in front of her, and she kneels before the Yuan-ti, her legs folded together under he skirts.
Her arms are forward as she stretches out, and places the bow on the ground before her. The string is closest to the King as a sign of peace, her legs aren't showing, and she has kept her gaze away from him as she abases herself.
She holds that position for several deep breaths, fully conscious that His Eminence might choose to strike her. This shows her humility, she tells herself.
Her head sown, she addresses him. "My name is Miss Imogen, and I am honoured to present myself and my companions before the Warlord of Mezro, King of the Yuan-Ti, and Herald of the Apolcalypse. Thankful for this audience, we come before you seeking passage in peace.
From the Day we arrived at Port Nyanzaru, we have travelled through the jungles, and the deeper we have travelled for these many weeks, the more we have seen that a sickness wastes the world away. Humans call it the Death Curse, though perhaps you knave a truer name for it. We have seen its impact, and we wish to understand.
Many groups want to know more, and indeed we each represent different interests. But we have been working together because in doing so we are stronger that we would be individually, like sticks held together in a bundle. Different sticks, with different interests, but a common purpose and stronger when together."
She pauses, hoping this is sufficient for the serpent king.
"Your Majestic Eminence has the authority to let us pass. We come to you in need, and you have the ability to replenish our resopurces. And in doing so, you shall mark yourself as one who has made our journey possible, and shall share in our success when it comes."
Ussal enters behind the humanoids and bows properly with his snake body coiling under him and body held low with the head hanging over the coils. He remains in the position only for several seconds. While it was risky, raising himself without permission, it would be worse if the foreign woman got up first. He remains low, however, gauging the reaction before coming up fully.
Ras Nsi glanced at Ussal but said nothing. Though they had rarely interacted, Ras Nsi was aware of the unusual malison and had considered having him brought forth to study his armoured form to see if it could make a difference to his own withering body. He had yet to make his move, busy as he was with squabbles closer to the top of the yuan-ti hierarchy. He saw ambition in the eyes of this underling - a powerful ambition that intimidated him. Perhaps it would be better to be rid of him.
"I know of the Death Curse," Ras Nsi said to Imogen, and he lifted a part of his face-wrap to reveal a sagging, rotting-looking visage. "I have lived many lives before this one. If you intend to end it, I will send Ussal to aid you, and I offer you my protection this night. You will have an escort as you move through Omu to reach your goal. Agreed?"
Myrral remains behind the yuan-ti...Ussal, keeping Miss Imogen and this rotting leader in his sight. For the moment, he is standing, not bowing, waiting for some sign of duplicity.
It is strange that this armored yuan-ti is pushed toward them after the message it sent earlier. Myrral isn't naturally suspicious, but this seems too much of a coincidence and he is afraid they are being set up.