Saturday, September 26, 2009

Temple to Darkness, Part Three

Early the next morning, the party's third foray into the temple began. It started out well, but soon became a mess, due to some poor planning. First, the party entered with Endefal in front, and he turned the group of ghouls waiting in the main room (no sign of the ghast, however). The party, satisfied the undead creatures wouldn't be returning for awhile, went to the door in the north wall of the room that they had yet to check or open, having investigated the staircase, east and west corridors. Finding it locked and barred from the other side, Cadelaine was able to pick the lock, but Mongo was then forced to break the door down to enter inside. Upon stepping inside, Mongo saw a large bare room with a large dark pit in the middle against the dark wall. As he stuck in the Continual Light torch, a loud squeaking came from the pit, and a horde of slavering, rabid rats poured over the lip towards the party! Throwing oil, both Mongo and Endefal missed the swarm horribly as the vials broke off target on the ground (one in front of the door), forcing them to retreat into the main room. Soon, the rats were swarming the party, biting and scratching, as the druid Kal attempted to communicate with them but found them maddened by pain, fear, disease and rage.
It was every man for himself as the party members began hacking and bashing at the Giant rats climbing and biting on them. Finally, their numbers were cleared out enough for someone to drop a lit torch on the oil in front of the door, and the flames shot up to burn many of the rats and put up a wall of fire between the party and the other room, temporarily stopping the tide of living, squirming flesh.
Finally, after every rat in the main room had been killed and wounds bound up, the party entered the pit room to see what lived. Out of the pit came a giant, pig-sized rate with huge jaws that seemed to be the leader! Endefal and Mongo attacked, and soon killed the "leader" of the rats with arms and a Dust Devil spell cast by the priest. After the beast was dead, the party began searching the room, only to find the remaining rats had fled into holes at the bottom of the pit. As they made to leave the room Mongo leading, a sudden stench overtook him and a sickly grey arm reached out and scratched him. Falling back into the pit room, paralyzed, he was suddenly followed by the form of the Ghast, slavering and cackling! Endefal attempted to turn him and two ghoul minions, but he failed, Nadal was also quickly struck and paralyzed, and with the two party fighters' down the battle became desperate. Kal faced off against one ghoul while Endefal hammered the Ghast with a fist of faith spell as Cadelaine pegged it with arrows. Luckily, Kal finally killed one of the ghouls, and the Ghast was held off long enough by Endefal for Mongo to shake off the paralysis and rejoin the attack, dropping the killing blow on the undead leader! Kal finally finished off one of the ghouls, and the other was wounded by Cadelaine and Mongo before bolting the room to escape.
Wounded, bleeding, tired and out of spells already, the group decided to go back outside not an hour into the latest exploration. The made a camp under the trees and the spellcasters rested and regained their spells as the fighters took watch. Late that afternoon, the spellcasters again loaded up on healing and other spells, and the party decided to once again brave the halls that day. They went down the east hall to the cells and back down into the ghoul's lair, but the now leaderless abominations scattered before them and would not engage them. Satisfied the ghouls wouldn't bother them any further, the party checked a few rooms off the east hallway. They found a couple of treasure room, guarded by a pit trap, and managed to find Healing potions, many bags of silver coins, a magical set of leather armor and dagger, and a bronze statue of a shadowy figure and a covered mirror (the last two they left behind, but hauled the other chests out and looted them). Further investigation in the hall found a large door with signs of fire and lightning scarring the walls, and several skeletons. Another skeleton of a dead priest type was found, and since his robe was still intact they took it also. Investigating one last room in the east, they found a giant spider as big as a small horse, which Mongo and Nadal took care of, with Cadelaine gathering it's dripping venom in a vial as it lay dead. Deciding to call it a day, the party went outside to rest as the night was upon them. To their surprise, they found Ardu up coherent and somewhat mobile, as the sickness was almost gone. He told them to stop their explorations of the Temple, as only evil resided there, and soon fell back asleep. That evening, they had another dream....

In this dream, they all saw the shadow fiend Sathlos in his dark pit. His red glowing eyes seemed to see everything inside them. He knew their greatest fears, and their greatest shame, and chuckled as he threatened to reveal each of theirs to the other.

The next morning, the party was nervous and suspicious of each other, not knowing if their secret fear or shame had been revealed to another of the party. Nadal especially seemed nervous and anxious to now leave the place instead of search further.
Deciding to again brave the banquet room full of Shadows, the party went and Endefal again attempted to turn no avail! The battle quickly became difficult as Mongo and Nadal, blocking the door, were struck again and again sapping their strength and cause them to weakly continue fighting the undead. Cadelaine and Endefal helped with spells such as Magic Missile and Spiritual Hammer, and Kal got a light spell cast at the doorway that kept half the creatures inside the room. As four of the creatures were finally brought down, Mongo and Nadal rested as the other three fired magic arrows and silver sling bullets into the room to bring down a couple more shadows. Finally, Mongo and Nadal were healed up sufficiently to enter the room and finish up the undead, but everyone was heavily injured. Searching the rooms off the banquet hall found a worship area for Shadow, cold, dark, and very eerie. They left the room alone and investigated another room with looked like a meditation chamber, and their were many hacked up bodies covering the floor and sofas in the room. Cadelaine located a secret passage, and the party realized this passage was in their dream and led to the chamber of "Sathlos", the demon form they had witnessed.
Going back outside, the party once again rested the day as the strength returned to the shadow-injured party members, and the spellcasters recovered their spells. That evening, they once again decided to brave the temple, and perhaps find and put an end to this "Sathlos" once and for all....
Going to the east, the party ended up in front of the large fire and lightning scarred doors they had the day before. After carefully examining them, they pushed them open to face the room they had seen in their dreams. A dark open pit lay before them in the center of the room, with 20 ft above a lantern with a blazing light shining forth, held in place with a silver chain tied off by the door. As they slowly entered, a deep, evil voice from the pit began cajoling them, threatening to reveal their greatest secrets and shame to the others. Nadal was especially anxious and not eager for a confrontation, while Endefal was defiant and shouted out his faith in Attar and the eventual destruction of Sathlos.
Sathlos whispered to each of them, if they freed him from his imprisonment and served him, he would help them with that which they most wanted. To Mongo, Sathlos revealed he knew the location of his enslaved family, including the brother who had went to track them down, who he said was in danger. To Kal, he revealed he knew the exact location of the lost elven city Kal and his group had been searching for. To Cadelaine, he revealed the fact her father never loved her, and wanted her dead, and had sent an assassin disguised as someone she trusted to finish her off. To Endefal, he said he was far older than even his god, Attar, and that instead of being a enslaved man who fought for freedom and justice, Attar had died mewling and pissing himself and begging for release at the hands of his captors. Endefal shouted down his lies (?) and taunts with chants to his god, and at this, suddenly Kal walked stiffly to the chain from which the lantern hung, struck it with his scimitar, breaking it and causing the lantern to plunge into the pit! A shattering sound was heard, and then the room went completely dark.....!

Suddenly, a demonic form 8 ft tall, with wings, horns and red glowing eyes, as fiery as red hot coals, leapt from the pit and landed solidly on Endefal, tearing and biting him! Kal had collapsed to the floor, his body wracked with pain after it had been usurped by the demon's consciousness and used to help release the beast. As the fiend reared up to strike again, Cadelaine read from the scroll she had gotten from the Bag of Holding and hit the demon with a high level magic missile, knocking him off the priest. Nadal screamed and attacked wielding the magic short sword, striking Sathlos for a large amount of damage. The battle began in earnest, as Mongo borrowed Ardu's magic longsword from Cadelaine and began chopping at the beast with that and his magic short sword. Endefal was able to roll free and hit the creature with a Fist of Faith spell. Kal could do little but managed to hit the creature with the Magic Stones given him by Endefal. Badly hurt by the numerous attacks, the creature slashed and bit among them, screaming, taunting and laughing. Grabbing up Nadal, he threw him against a far wall over Cadelaine's head, causing him to slam to the stone and then limply to the ground like a sack of potatoes. He lay bleeding and unconcious as Kal, now recovered, hurried over to bandage him. Cadelaine managed to strike the creature with a few arrows, but Mongo took the brunt of the demon's attention in a long and bloody battle there on the edge of the pit. Seeing Mongo's distress, Endefal taunted Sathlos until the shadow demon again leapt on the priest and began tearing him apart, slashing and ripping with his claws and fanged mouth. While he was distracted (and right before Endefal was torn in half), Mongo was healed by Kal, and then the ranger took advantage of the creatures inattention to strike him a deadly blow! The shadow demon wailed and became a fine black dust that fell softly all over the room.

With Sathlos dead and Nadal stabilized. The party healed their wounds and searched the chamber. At the bottom of the pit, they found the lantern, now broken and destroyed, and a key. Also, they found the skeletal body of the Ashante warrior they had seen in their dream, who had obviously given his life to keep the shadow demon trapped in the pit while the lantern was used to hold him in forever. Beside him lay his great spear, which they knew from their dream held great power. Reverently, the wrapped the warrior's bones up in a blanket, and along with his spear, lifted him gently up out of the pit to bring outside for a proper burial.
Searching the room brought out a few items like a jeweled baton and a ring, along with some scattered gold, which they placed in the Bag of Holding. Leaving the structure, they found the still surviving ghouls huddled in a corner of the complex, looking at them with a mixture of fear and awe. They went outside and were surprised to find Ardu walking about, almost fully recovered!
Long into the night they talked with the old ranger, who told them the warrior must be the long-ago Ashante chief Boshir, who wielded the flaming spear "Talon-Bar" (Burning Spear in Ashante). As they talked, Kal, who had felt weak since Sathlos had usurped his body, began to get sicker and sicker, and soon toppled over sweating and with fever. Ardu said he had been infected with the Shadow virus, a fatal disease that probably infected him when the demon had taken control of his body. After a short period where Kal seemed to fall deeper and deeper into some sort of delirium, Endefal forced his Elixir of Health down Kal's throat, which immediately took down the fever and destroyed the virus. Kal's health, however, would forever be scarred as afterwards he found he was much weaker and not as strong as before, as if some of his strength had been permanently leeched away. the "Mark of Shadow", as Ardu said. Ardu added he was very lucky to be alive, though. As he lay recovering, he reached out and grasped Talon-Bar, and the spear began speaking in ancient Ashante, and then ancient Delosian, saying that the party was "worthy" of bearing him, especially this one......while not a native Delosian, he had battled the power of shadows and was permanently scarred in the attempt, but survived, making him a good wielder of the flaming spear. The spear revealed special powers to Kal, as well as the fact it could speak, and said as long as he was brave in battle it would serve and assist him. Grasping the spear by his side, Kal seemed to sleep easier from then on, and that night the party had no dreams outside the temple.
The next morning, the party re-entered the temple (with Ardu, now fully recoverd, staying outside as he refused to have anything to do with the evil place). The entire atmosphere had was not as dark, as cold, and did not feel as oppressive and evil as it had days earlier. None of the undead, including the shadow hound, seemed to be about. No longer like a temple of gloom, the interior seemed like just another abandoned structure sitting isolated in the jungle...with the destruction of Sathlos, the curse seemed to be lifted on the temple. Entering the upstairs room ready to battle the haunt by the locked and barred door, they were surprised to find it sitting quietly, asking if it could now go. Endefal released it, and it disappeared.
After using the key found at the bottom of the pit to open the locked and barred door, the party came upon an small treasure room. Heaps and chests full of silver, along with a odd jeweled helm on a pedestal, and several other valuable objects, lay within. The party took everything, and later identified many of the items found the last few days as magical...the leather armor, the dagger, the helm, the stone, the robe, the ring. Cadelaine took the ring (which turned out to be a ring of Feather Falling), the leather armor and the dagger, and Mongo gave her the "Silence Stone" to wear about her neck as he translated the trigger word for her; Kal kept the flaming spear, and the robe and the helm were placed inside the Bag of Holding for further investigation before using. Ardu told them now that he was back to health, their job was to find if there were any surviving members of the merchant group, and then warn the village of Onnja there was a war party of Tzulan warriors nearby. It had been six days since the attack, but there still might be Tzulan warriors lurking about, and if they couldn't find survivors or warn the village they must at least make it back to Port Maugre to let the powers that be know of the war party. Ardu said that he and Mongo would attempt to backtrack their trail back to the initial attack site, and from there try to follow the trail of Talith and the rest (if they survived) to help them or at worst recover their bodies. Ardu also cautioned the eager adventurers not to mention their foray into the Temple of Darkness to anyone else......superstitious native types would shun and perhaps even attack them, while telling of the demon itself and Kal's shadow virus would guarantee that no native Delosian would have anything to do with those who had come so close to evil's darkness. "You aquitted yourselves bravely, but some things must not go beyond these stone walls, eh?" The party agreed, and resolved to not speak of the last week to any but themselves, even to House Valaryan authorities. Making their pledge, they party buried the bones of the warrior Boshir in front of the now powerless temple, with Endefal blessing the spot, and then began to make their way back to the site of the attack a week ago....stronger, wiser, better euqipped, and more experienced in the ways of battle and spellcraft!

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