The party set out for the reptilian marshes, but then realized they didn’t know where they were going, so they headed back to the city to recruit a guide. Joined once more by the fox they met in the woods, they decided to go to the temple in the marsh.
Along the way, they were followed. Their first encounter was with a chameleon, but it ran away when Wally poked it. After that, they noticed a much more ominous shadow trailing them in the waters along the path. Wally waded in to check it out, but this time when he poked it, whatever it was did not run away. It moved to get between him and the land, but he deftly jumped the creature and rejoined the party.
As they crossed a land barrier, they looked back to see a giant snake slithering up and over the barrier and into the water on the other side. It continued following them for several hours as they trekked through the ever more densely-forested marshlands. That is, until it abruptly rose from the water into their path, and told them to wait for the king.
A short time later, a large cobra in a tiny cape arrived, followed by his scaly entourage. He was going to introduce himself as king, but Wally dispensed with the pleasantries. The king wanted to know who they were and what they were doing in his kingdom.
In the resulting conversation, the party mentioned that they were humans, but not of Kellon’s tribe. They were seeking the heart, and the king seemed not to know that it was missing. The king was strangely more interested in the fact that they were humans not allied with Kellon, and began pressing them to attempt to change the balance of power in the valley.
Wally and the king engaged in a long conversation about politics that mostly went over his head, but he figures the snakes didn’t like the way the lion was running stuff, and that the furries weren’t always in charge, and the snakes want their turn, or whatever. Astro said whatever she thought the king wanted to hear, which was some manner of agreement with this.
After some time griping about politics, the Snake King re-realized the heart was missing, and that was a more pressing concern. He left the party to go make some preparations on his end, but left them with his most trusted advisor: a small salamander.
The party made their way to the temple doors, and Astro worked her magic on the control panel. Leaving their animal friends behind them, they entered the corridor beyond. The bland hallway lead to a bland elevator, and not being able to read the panel, they surmised little more than the fact they were at the top. They punched the button to go one floor down.
This put the party in another hallway, but this one had signs and doorways. The first door led to some sort of office or work area, but did not seem to be in use. They split up and checked other doors. Wally, Balfor, and Astro found similar offices, and found some kincknacks: Wally found a crystal pyramid with a lifelike rendition of the Tree of Life inside, Balfor found some superconducting materials he saved for later, and Astro found a big strong magnet she decided to leave behind.
Argent found something more interesting, though. His room, rather than a workstation, had a row of tables adorned with clusters of equipment. He touched a screen behind one of the tables, and it came to life showing nothing more than an animated logo. He then touched all the screens to see if there was anything else, and the last one flickered to life with the image of Kellon before he turned it on.
After asking what they were doing on his ship, Kellon told the party that the heart had been stolen by another outsider. He told them that the heart hadn’t left the ship, but he couldn’t locate it using the ship’s systems, so it was probably in the forsaken sections, barricaded off from the valley and their current location. He told the party he could reconfigure the nanites in their brains (that allowed them to understand the animals) so that they could read the ship’s writing, but it would take him some time to bring the systems online.
The party decided to camp here for the night,and Kellon would be ready for them in the morning.