Realising that with the portal closed they were now safe to traverse, they quickly made their way back to the gates to try and find their ally Farha Salahuddin. Understanding that the trail of dead plants, grass and just general corrupted life, was where the demons had been, they followed it till it ended and then the blood back to Farha. Almost dead, the party quickly got her back to consciousness, patching some of her wounds. Knowing the demons was gone, focus changed to how to clear the names of the party. Farha persuaded them to allow her to have the device, promising that they would find a way to destroy it and until then lock it away in one of their secure vaults and Thamarts journal. The next day she teleported them to Zaramunz, where she spoke with the Great High Mages and was able to grant their freedom. She then took the party to the location of the arcane travel site here so they could use it to go home.
Not wanting to lose anytime the party quickly went to Wayes via their travel stones, appearing in the Hobgoblin cave they cleared a long time ago. They quickly grasped they were not alone and charged at the small group of Hobgoblins which were sheltering in it. A disorganised and not well equipped rabble, they were all slaughtered without much fight and the party marched on to Wayes and spoke with their old contact Yenemin. The diplomat arranged for Griffons to fly them to Azumante Hills. After a long journey of 6 days, the griffons landed not far away in darkness and the party went on foot up the mountain to the city. Reaching it, they were greeted by a group of lightly armed rangers, rogues and druids, who gave them a brief overview of the situation and a look at the city. As they were approaching the main temple, the god Garl Glittergold made contact with Sir Reginald, encouraging the Dragonborn to continue to entertain him.
After narrowly avoiding incoming siege fire, they found out from the Great Prophet Keythana that the situation was very dire, that supplies had been cut off, the griffon air force was useless due to the ballista and that their armies couldn’t reach the large Yuan Ti Force without being obliterated by catapult and trebuchet fire. The party quickly asked what would happen if they removed some of the siege equipment and Keythana said, removing the ballistas in particular would open up some air space for her griffons to start firing rocks down on the rest of the siege weapons and give her army the ability to engage. She then offered to supply them troops to escort them to the temple as they attacked, knowing full well it was a suicide mission. The Ukholo offered a relic from the Circle of the Shalm as payment, with Skamos negotiating to have it paid up front, giving Gwen the ability to speak in wild shape form and cast one spell.
The party made their way down, with the forces of the Ukholo position for an assault on the opposite side of the battlefield to draw attention. Under the cover of darkness they snuck in and assaulted the ballista battery, taking down a few Yuan Ti but more importantly 3 batteries of ballista. The griffons arrived shortly after with the party surviving a few close shaves with the rocks to get back to the safety of the mountain foliage. They met back up with Keythana whos army was almost in position, and once they charged in, she introduced them to the 12 rangers who would sacrifice all to give them one shot to end this. It was now or never. The group snuck around the battle, the darkness and huge fight proving ample distraction, arriving near the large Yuan Ti temple. Seeing a large group of Yuan Ti at the front door, the rangers told the party to make a dash for it once they engage, and ran off to fight. A few of the Yuan Ti almost saw the party slip into the temple, but they were quickly focused down by their ranger allies.
Inside the temple they soon came to some sealed doors with two snake statues. These statues had gems for eyes and they soon realised these were switches, pressing them to open the doors. Greeted with the sight of two more of these snake statues, this time with no gems, they discovered there were two exits, north and south. Before they could do more, they also perceived they were not alone, with snakes doing their best to blend in. Alirrin transformed Sir Reginald into a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Gwen threw her Staff of the Python down and the party charge in, quickly taking down these snakes without too much trouble. Enjoying the feasting the T-Rex Reginald charged through the north doors, roaring loudly alerting the whole temple to the new threat. Finding a few corridors and some sealed doors, they decided to engage the Yuan Ti in a small alcove room. These Yuan Ti were stronger but thanks to both the many elves and Caelynn's protection from charm, they posed little threat and were also soon dispatched. The only small victory for the Yuan Ti was that they managed to cast off hypnotic pattern which did knock the bard out temporarily, removing the T-Rex from the equation.
Grabbing the poison potions they were working on, the group now had two choices, pull the lever or put their hand inside a snake mouth and pull the chain. Not liking the idea of putting their arm into that mouth, they instead pulled the lever, setting off a pit trap, with Blaze and Reginald falling in. After defeating the swarm of snakes in there and getting out they explored the newly opened room and found some treasure. Using mage hand to pull the chain, they found another corridor with many doors leading off. Opening the first they found some very sick humans and realised these were transforming into Yuan Ti. Not knowing how to stop it they decided to kill them, giving them the poison and telling them it was a cure. Only one survived and after trying to run away, they struck him down. They marched on, finding a secret exit out of the temple and a room full of dead bodies, skin and blood. Finally they came to the furthest east room and as they entered they saw the hideous transformation first hand.
The new mostly spellcasting female yuan ti, with only the upper torso human like, proved difficult for the party, both making some of them see their worst nightmares, throwing out unwordly tentacles into them or throwing down strange clouds of terror, cold and blinding. Still despite facing all these obstacles they managed to kill all the Yuan Ti, finding some gems which matched the ones they saw in the snake eyes in the opening corridor. They quickly made their way back, placing them in the empty sockets and opening the south door. Here they found a locked door, which had a lock. Unable to pick it, they continued on, successfully disabling a corridor trap and finding another group of Yuan Ti, this time one which had many snakes for arms. Using the choke point to their advantage, the party were able to take down these creatures with a lot less trouble, finding the key on them. The rest of the area was of minor interest, a repair workshop and ammunition supply room, but a small storage room did have some treasure for them.
Unlocking the door they made their way up to the second level, avoiding another pit trap and finding a library of sorts. With mostly religious texts and artifacts around, they realised this was a very spiritual place for the Yuan Ti and indeed the next area was a giant arena where mass prayer could take place. With two balconies overlooking the larger area below and a stair choke point the team could utilise, they sprung from the shadows, two shots from Evie and Skamos instantly taking down one of the spellcasters. The loss of that spellcaster and the choke worked greatly against the Yuan Ti and they were quickly defeated and the party hoped for a small time that this might be what they had to do. The bad news for them, was that the Yuan Ti leader of the assault, Sselku, still remained.
Busting in to his chambers, Sselku and his personal guard engaged the party. Gwen, in allosaur mode and her staff of the python snake, engaged the smaller yuan ti, allowing the party to quickly focus down the large yuan ti trying to hold the party out. Recognizing that his guards were now all either quickly dead or grappled/stuck, Sselku summoned forth a demon to assist him and once it fell banished Caelynn. The party started to try and focus Sselku down, forcing Caelynn to reappear, as he summoned a Capra Demon to fight them. The situation got more desperate for the Yuan Ti and in desperation he both banished Gardain and Sir Reginald for a brief few seconds, and used his dagger in a bit to kill Skamos. But it was all for naught, Blaze defending his new pseudo master, clamped down on its head and ripped it off. The other enemies soon defeated, the party couldn't believe what they had just accomplished. Grabbing the dagger and some more treasure, they quickly escape, making it back to Azumante Hills where they found somewhere to rest.