As you walk across the city to keep your appointment, the sounds of hammering begin making your conversations harder to follow. It seems that someone is making some improvements on a large two-story house at the very edge of town. You see several other drow who are hard at work repairing a wall. Suddenly, a fungus ladder snaps, dropping a workman to the ground. The man falls downward and catches his neck at an awkward angle on one of the ladder’s rungs. There is a nasty crack and a wet tearing sound as the hapless laborer is nearly decapitated. His body collapses like a puppet whose strings have just been cut. You can’t see much more from this distance, but it seems unlikely that he could still be alive. The work site falls silent as it takes everyone a moment to comprehend the terrible tragedy that has just occurred.
You aren’t the only ones to notice the grisly accident – screams and gasps come from other bystanders and foot traffic on the nearby street comes to a halt. The shrill sound of a signal whistle breaks the silence. Soon you hear the heavy footsteps of Whitecap soldiers rushing to the scene.
The Lord Protector, Tuanek of House Jalt, arrives surrounded by well-armed soldiers. He stops at the perimeter and after a few words with the soldiers, he addresses the crowd. “Citizens and friends, please return to your places of business or residence. We have determined that there is no continued threat, and we need time and space to investigate what has happened here today.”
“Ah! I presume you received my letter. Thank you for coming so quickly, although I wish we were meeting under… more fortunate circumstances. Before we begin the business of investigating these accusations you have made, I would like to ask you to investigate this worker’s death. What do you say?” Agreeing, the party investigates the accident scene and interrogates (Belch) the workers on site.
Noticing the reluctance of the workers to let anyone near the house, the party insists on entering the residence. With their cover blown, the “workmen” move toward you, drawing their swords. The “foreman” stands his ground, and you see that his skin has begun to ripple and shift, and he transforms into a huge monster-serpent thing. The workers blow sharp notes on their horns, but no reinforcements arrive… and the party worries it was a sign to flee instead of fight.
Killing the snakes and ransacking the house, the party finds a trap door and a set of stairs heading down to some kind of underground passageway. It appears that the construction work on the surface was nothing more than a cover for the real work that has been going on down here. There is a snake-like sigil carved on the underside of the trap door. After discovering the secret door and descending the stairs, you arrive at another door, carved with images of a variety of snakes preying on helpless humans. Beyond the door, you see a rather large room. Directly opposite this entrance is another set of double doors. In the middle of the room, an elaborate sigil has been carved into the floor. The sigil seems to represent a circular pattern of snakes, each one swallowing the tail of the snake in front of it. The entire ring thus forms an endless pattern. Dancing rhythmically across the sigil, if such a word can be used to describe the slithering motions of serpents, you see two vipers. One of them is clearly living, while the other appears to be some sort of construct made from iron. Standing at the back of the room is a tall, emaciated female drow. She drops the flute she was carrying and hisses menacingly, words of arcane power replacing the music that filled the chamber moments earlier.
Increasingly concerned at the thought of their quarry escaping, the party charges through traps and snakes of all types, clearly designed to slow them down. At the end of the building, a curious note stuck next to a cavern that leads away from the city. Undeterred the party follows and emerges into the Underdark. The fleeing cultists’ tracks grow stronger and stronger; you are clearly gaining on them. After several hours of pursuit, the tracks have become very fresh. The trail leads through the maze-like Underdark, and ends at a small collection of standing stones.
A small group of Snaketounge Cult leaders have arrived here and huddle together for protection. The party dispatches the motley group of Medusa, YuanTi, and other sibilant enemies. Returning to Lord Tuanek with the curious note in hand, the party is congratulated. “I thank you for investigating the murder and thereby uncovering the cult of Sseth. House Jalt appreciates your bravery and diligence. I am not at all convinced that we fully understand what has transpired here today. I think that someone else wanted the cult of Sseth to be discovered. I will investigate what we have found here, what you have discovered about the Stone Bears, and other tidings that have reached my ears. I will call upon you when I have new work or when i have concluded my research."