The next morning you all convened in Gabriel’s room, as agreed. You discussed the quest and a little of what you’d learned during the previous day. Shecky shared some knowledge he’d gained about the three supernatural beings associated with the temple: Zuggtmoy, Iuz and Lolth. Blars and Schlomo each commented on the fact that the Church seemed to be building a giant armory more befitting of a castle than a church, but neither the castellan nor the smith knew why. Valen was curious as to why them and not more powerful heroes. Gabriel explained that Terjon had told him that Furyondy and Veluna were quietly marshalling their knights and heroes to the border with Iuz in advance of a likely war, and that in any case knights and heroes were bad fits for a small recon / search and destroy mission. The party seemed to agree that they were good at that sort of thing. They met with the Small Counsel, and accepted the quest. They geared-up and departed after dark, so as not to attract any attention from the town.
Halfway to Nulb, in the dark of night, the party was ambushed on the High Road by a group of twenty or so brigands, many wearing the armor of Hommlet town guards. During the encounter, the party allowed themselves to be separated into three groups: Blars, Schlomo and Gabriel in the rear, Valen, Ulo the Wolf & Shecky near the front, and Ark by himself in the fray. Despite the large numbers of opponents and the separation of the party members, the battle went well, with the party driving-off or slaying all the bandits save one, which Ark cleverly knocked unconscious for questioning. The defeated brigand revealed his group’s camp and their numbers, and further admitted that his group had ambushed and killed Lt. Paul and his men a few days prior. The party found spoils of Lt. Paul’s previous raids, and the discarded bodies of the dead men to confirm this. There was some argument as to what to do with the questioned bandit – most of the party wanted simply to slit his throat, but in the end Gabriel prevailed and he was set free. The party then continued to Nulb, riding through the night.
Not yet narrated sections (sorry)
—> The party arrives in Nulb, where they meet Y’dey and are stalked by a group of cutthroats
—> The party steals a barge and crosses the river, learning that piloting a barge is a skill not quickly attained
—> The party travels south to the temple
—> the party investigates a ruined building & cellar, avoiding giant rats with Ulo’s help
—> the party investigates what appears to be a damages, half-fallen tower and, after fighting giant crows, leaves it alone.
Finding nothing in the tower save giant, angry ravens, the party crossed the twisted underbrush and tall, sickly grass to the temple itself. They found the gigantic temple intact – squat, ugly and sprawling, covered in carved relief of demons, torture, and depravity. On close examination of the carven figures cavorting across the facade of the temple the party felt a shiver of revulsion. The hands that formed these figures had undoubtedly performed acts of great evil. Even the most hardened warrior must quail at the scenes of base depravity depicted in such loving detail. The sense of evil was all-pervasive, a bottomless well of horror from which there seemed no escape.
The party moved to the south end of the temple, where the main entrance and two side doors awaited. The main entrance was a pair of huge bronze doors, held fast by gigantic iron chains, and all cracks filled and sealed with soft iron. Graven upon each door were magical runes which glowed with a silvery radiance. Upon looking on these runes, all party members felt a roiling in their stomachs and beating aches in their heads. While Blars and Gabriel were able to continue to gaze upon the doors, the rest of the party found themselves involuntarily retreating from the doors, and Schlomo and Ark were reduced to retching in the grass until the nausea passed. Ulo would not even look at the doors to begin with. The two side doors, curiously, appeared un-barred, but no one approached to see if they were open.
After the nausea passed, the group decided to scout in the tall grass and bushes around the temple before nightfall (which was nearing). Between Valen’s keen ears and eyes and Ulo’s sense of smell, they quickly encountered a pair of scouts in black cloaks, who fled back toward the broken tower. The party gave chase and killed one guard and captured the other, but not before taking several crossbow bolts from the arrow slits around the tower. The party coerced information out of the captured guard, including how many guards were in the tower (about 2 dozen) and how to open the cleverly locked doors (using a special key both guards had on their belts). The party returned to the front of the tower, braced themselves, forming ranks, and threw open the tower doors.
Inside, they saw darkness. With light behind them, and darkness inside the tower, the party found it difficult unable to see what was within. What was within could see them well, however. A dozen archers and a handful of spearmen launched spears, arrows and crossbow bolts, many skewering Schlomo and Gabriel, who stood in front. As their eyes adjusted, the party saw a room full of several dozen guards in ranks – spearmen with shields in front, bowmen in back. A couple of captains, marked by much better armor, stood off to the sides with bows as well. To the left of the entrance, high up on the semi-collapsed stairs, a guard leader barked orders at the guards, who readied another volley.
Gabriel and Schlomo rushed a few steps forward, finding the unforgiving points of the spears. Another volley of arrows followed. The party hastily retreated back outside, using the doors for cover. The spearmen followed, laying more damage into the party. More arrows flew. Once the party was set, there was a moment of stand-off. Then the leader barked an order and the spearmen began to file out, one by one, to face the group. Schlomo, Ark and Gabriel made quick work of them, taking only a few scrapes. It seemed a foolish tactic, but each round that a guard sacrificed himself, another volley of arrows flew. Most thunked into the doors, but a few found homes in Schlomo and Gabriel. Blars, knowing Gabriel had taken a serious beating, cast a spell which allowed him to share Gabe’s damage. The party stood their ground and fought back the spearmen and then the captains, all as the arrows flew. Finally, with only a single captain and the bowmen left, the leader called for his men to fall back, and he then fled into the dark recesses of the tower. The party rushed in after the bowmen, closing quarters and cutting them down. The archers were lightly armored, and no match for the party, though several more arrows did find homes in their flesh.
As Gabriel and Schlomo finished-off the archers on the floor, Blars guarded the door, and Shecky, Valen and Ulo took the archers on the stairs, Ark headed into the recesses of the tower, hoping to catch the guard leader before he could somehow escape. He found a door in the corner, next to the pile of rubble. Assuming the leader had gone through it, he braced himself against the door and readied himself. Just as he was ready to push through, the guard leader erupted from where he’d hidden himself in the rubble, slicing with a wicked-looking black bastard sword. One blow sliced Ark open, and he collapsed into unconsciousness, The leader then did flee through the door Ark was investigating, closing it behind him.
Blars, Gabriel and Schlomo rushed to tend to Ark, while Valen and the intimdating Ulo captured the one last archer. As Valen trussed-up the prisoner and Bars tended to Ark, healing him back to consciousness, Gabriel and Schlomo searched the barracks, looking for the leader’s escape route and finding nothing. In the meantime, Shecky wandered to the next room, finding a lavish chamber which clearly belonged to the leader. He spied a locked chest and, in his attempt to pick it, was poisoned by an undetected needle trap. He collapsed on the ground, muscles seizing, unable to breathe, let alone cry-out. His life began to trickle away.
Back in the barracks, Valen located the secret trap door out which the leader had escaped. The group peered down into the darkness and the metal ladder that descended into it. Blars was able to tell them that the ladder descended about 30 feet and ended on a dirt floor. After some debate, they decided they were too injured to try to follow. They closed the trap door and shoved a chest on top of it. Then Ark noticed that Shecky was not with them. He raced to the other room and, finding a foaming, unconscious Shecky on the floor, scooped him up and raced back to Blars who, through the use of his remaining healing spells, managed to keep Shecky alive long enough for the poison to run its course. Shecky regained consciousness, but he was very weak.
Once Shecky and Ark were both healed, Blars, with Schlomo’s help, dragged the dead guards into the tower and closed the doors. After a little searching, they found the mechanism which controlled the false-locks on the outside of the the door and maneuvered them back in place, and barred the doors shut. After doing so, they rifled through the bodies, finding the following the list of goods below, while Ulo ate from the corpses. After this search, Blars, Ulo and Schlomo joined the rest of the party in the barracks.
In the barracks, the party parked the bound-and-gagged prisoner on a bunk. They stood and looked at each other. Bloodied, beaten and low on spells, with two party members recovering from near-death, they knew they needed rest. But the tower guard leader had escaped into the tunnel, going who knows where. They had a terrified prisoner tied to a bunk. Night was falling outside. Would more guards come calling on the tower, looking for their fallen comrades? What happens on the Temple grounds at night? And, now that they’d taken the tower, how to proceed on to the Temple?