Temple of Elemental Evil

Adventure Log - Session 11
Session 11, in which the party enters the Temple proper through a secret passageway.

The party stood around the trap door in the tower barracks, contemplating their next move. Valen and Gabriel interrogated the prisoner – a scrawny, underfed human who quickly gave up all he knew. The party learned that:

1) The guards changed posts only once every 7 or 8 days, and this guard platoon had been in the tower for only a day
2) The guards were swapped-out (along with provisions) over land, through the front door. They used to use the tunnel, but can’t anymore since the tunnel collapsed.
3) The temple was comprised of five separate churches (fire, water, earth and air – who did not get along well and squabbled and fought for position – and a neutral “temple” faction, who worshipped “the Lady” but took no part in the squabbles of the other churches).

They gagged the guard again and talked over what they’d learned. Given that the guards weren’t due for a change for 6 or 7 more days, it might be possible they could rest and make an assault on the Temple from the tower here. The talk of the collapsed tunnel unnerved them, though. If the tunnel he was talking about was through that trapdoor, Captain Samton may not have escaped at all, but may simply be lurking in the collapsed tunnel below. No one could agree on whether that was better or worse. Finally, given Shecky’s state and their general lack of all spells and other firepower (save swords), they decided to use the rest of their healing ability, set double watch and rest. Gabriel and Schlomo took first watch.

Less than two hours into the first watch, Gabriel heard a soft scraping from below the trapdoor. Upon listening, it sounded like someone shovelling dirt. He woke the party, who decided that, since it was only one man, it couldn’t hurt to investigate. They opened the trap door and stared down into the darkness. No sound came from below. They dropped a torch into the hole. It landed 30 feet below and stayed lit, illuminating a portion of a dirt-floored room. Ark decided to head down the ladder first, stealthily. After clearing the first ten feet, the ladder separated from the wall (it’s moorings having been dug out), and, as Ark began to fall, the trap door (which had been rigged with a close-rope no one noticed) was pulled shut. Above, Gabriel and Schlomo saw Ark land on the ground, mostly rolling to avoid injury, just as the trapdoor slammed closed. Immediately, Gabriel and Schlomo were joined by Valen, who began pulling on the trapdoor, which had been somehow fastened shut.

Below, Ark heard a scraping sound of rope on metal, and then a sharp intake of air. He turned just as Capt. Samton emerged from the shadows, moving with uncanny speed, and swinging a huge dark blade which shimmered and seemed almost to disappear in the shadows. The blade gouged into Ark’s side, causing massive damage, and rendering Ark immediately unconscious.

Above, Valen, Gabriela and Schlomo succeeded together in wrenching the trapdoor open, just in time to see Ark’s legs as his limp body was dragged out of sight through a pool of blood, and the torch they’d thrown down was extinguished. With the ladder dislodged there was no easy way down into the dark. Valen began anchoring a rope to lower himself down. Garbriel, instead, simply lept into the hole, rolling as best he could with the damage as he crashed, prone, onto the ground. Shecky, looking to add light into the hole and distract the assailant, cast a light spell upon their prisoner’s belt, and Schlomo threw him into the hole as well. The terrified guard’s back snapped as he landed on Gabriel, but he lit the room brightly.

Captain Samton shot out of the shadows again and jammed his wicked black blade between Gabriel’s shoulders as Gabe struggled to regain his feet, again causing massive damage, which he barely survived. He rose to face off against Samton. As Valen lowered himself carefully into the pit (followed by Shecky), Schlomo climbed down the ladder to where it broke and flung himself at Samton. Between them, they managed to kill Samton, who appeared to have been jacked-up on a speed potion. Schlomo took Samton’s dark-hued bastard sword (which whispered it’s name to him – “biter"), and Gabriel took Schlomo’s old +1 longsword. Other items were found on the captain’s body, including a Mithril Shirt, which Valen claimed.

When the battle was over, the party found that Ark was not merely unconscious, but completely dead. After a brief debate, they gathered Ark’s body and rushed back to Nulb, in hopes that Y’dey could resurrect him. They reached Nulb and found that Y’dey was willing to do so, for the greater part of their wealth, and only if they agreed to be geased into a quest to defeat the evil elements brewing at the temple or die trying. The party agreed, and after a long night of prayer and magic, Ark was revived, though there appear to be a handful of side-effects of the resurrection.

The party returned to the temple grounds to find the tower much as they’d left it (they’d been gone about 24 hours). With 5 days left before the guards were to be changed, they excavated the collapsed tunnel under Blars’ direction, creating a passage through the rubble which led to a long tunnel. They followed it, and at the end emerged into a complex of tunnels below the Temple. Valen, Ulo, Ark and Shecky scouted ahead in the tunnels until they heard the cries of someone being tortured. At Gabriel’s insistence, they followed the screams to a torture chamber, where a human and a bugbear were torturing a human prisoner on a rack, with two human females and two orc prisoners awaiting the same fate in separate cells. When diplomacy failed, the party attacked, making swift work of the torturers. However, the battle was not over. As Gabriel worked to free the prisoner from the rack, and Schlomo freed and subsequently hit-on the captured females (who returned his affection with grateful kisses), Blars rushed to the orc cage, broke the lock with his mace and, despite their being unarmored, attacked them! Despite Valen and Shecky’s attampts to hold him back, he killed one prisoner in cold blood. Gabriel and Schlomo stepped into the fray. Ultimately, Blars was calmed only after Gabriel punched him repeatedly in the face. The orc was calmed as well, and agreed to escort the humans out of the dungeon, but before he left, he vowed revenge on Blars for the murder of his brother. Ark watched them all escape into the maze of tunnels, while Gabriel berated Blars, Shecky looted the bodies, Valen fed Ulo from the corpses and Schlomo regaled the group with stories of his (moments before) sexual conquests. The party decided they should don the cloaks they’d taken from the Moathouse – black, emblazoned with a fiery elemental eye. The cloaks, having been kept in the Box of Holding, smelled faintly, unpleasantly of meat.

The party then struck out again into the maze, stumbling upon a group of prison cells. Most were unoccupied, but in one they found and rescued an outgoing, charismatic gnomish adventurer called Wonnilon, who offered to join the party. Ark armed him with his short sword +1 (for which Wonnilon was very grateful), and they continued their exploration.

The party then came upon a room where they heard bugbear voices. Ark motioned for the party to wait while he entered. Through sheer force of personality and clever revealing of his scarred features (and the stupidity of the bugbear guards), he silently convinced the bugbears he was the new assistant to the torturer/head jailer. He passed through the chamber and into the jailer’s private quarters unmolested. Inside, he found a secret door (which allowed him to let the rest of the party in), as well as a stash of the jailer’s possessions, including Wonnilon’s lost adventuring gear.

Inside the jailer’s quarters, the party paused. They had some time until the slaughtered tower guards would be found, and perhaps less time until the killed jailer and his assistant were recovered. What to do next?

Time remaining until the scheduled changing of the tower guards: 5 days, 16 hours

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Adventure Log - Session 12
Session 12, in which the party stumbles upon a horrible earthen shrine and learns humility.

The party hunkered down in the Jailer’s quarters, deciding what to do. While some wanted to leave the bugbears Ark had tricked alone, the group decided it was best not to leave any witnesses. A clever ambushed was devised, relying on Wonnilon’s former prisoner status and the bugbears’ belief Ark was an underjailer, and the party dispatched them quickly. While several party members looted the bodies and scouted the area, Blars, Valen and Shecky, against Gabriel’s wishes, crossed the hallway to a room with a large pit, and we promptly caught in a trap which dumped Valen & Shecky into the deep, smooth-walled pit, which was soon filled with a huge swarm (hundreds) of ravenous giant rats. They were rescued after a few rounds of yelling for help, but not before taking a good deal of damage from rat bites. After their rescue, again against Gabriel’s wishes, the party filled the pit, still teeming with rats (eating the bugbear corpses they’d flung in), with oil and lit it, burning hundreds of rats alive – the hallways echoed with their screaming.

The group fanned out to explore more of the immediate area of the dungeon. As they came upon a huge, dark room lit only by phosphorescent mold, they heard approaching footsteps. Once again, Ark took matters into his own hands, leading the patrol of guards who’d come to investigate the noise of the buring rats on a chase, allowing the rest of the party to attack with surprise from the rear. They took all 10 guards, including their leader, in a quick battle, and burnt the bodies as they’d done with the bugbears (again, despite protests from Gabriel). Most notably, Schlomo layed in a great slaughter with Biter (and, upon rolling a nat 20 and doing massive damage, found himself partially healed by the carnage), and Ark defeated the leader single-handedly, managing to avoid death by sword.

The guard leader was kept alive for interrogation. The party got little information from him, apart from knowledge that he worked for the Earth temple, that the party dare not defile the temple itself, and that all adventurers who enter the temple have been killed by him and his guards. More telling was the conflict between Gabriel and Schlomo (who kept poking the prisoner with Biter) and Gabriel and Blars when, at the conclusion of question, Blars bashed-in the defensless guard leader’s head, killing him. After an angry confrontation between Gabriel and Blars, the party proceeded to the Earth temple.

At the NW doorway to the massive Earth temple and it’s central, packed-earth pyramid, the party paused to decide what to do. Unsurprisingly, while they discussed, Ark slipped into the room, slinking along the wall, in an attempt to cross to the far NE door. Wonnilon followed. Gabriel begrudgingly followed as protection (group1). Schlomo, Valen, Shecky and Blars stepped only a few feet into the room and waited (group2).

Once group1 was about 30ft into the room, four huge earth elementals rose up out of the thick soil, one near each corner of the room. The elemental in the NE corner of the room was very near group1. The elemental in the NW corner was very near group2. Ark charged-up his staff and threw it at the NE elemental (and missed), he then bolted out of the room to the NE exit. Gabriel, without the movement to exit the room, sprinted to the pyramid to retrieve the bronze box there (obviously a part of some ritual). Wonnilon also ran toward the pyramid, but was struck by the NE elemental and knocked unconscious with one blow. In the NW corner, Schlomo engaged the elemental to provide cover for group2. Blars surrounded the elemental with a wind wall, hoping to confine the thing with an opposing element. Shecky retreated to the NW hallway, as did Blars. Valen and Ulo crept stealthily along the W wall heading south to another door.

Then everything went pear-shaped. Valen, who was apparently not stealthy enough to fool an Elemental, was crushed in just a few hits from the SW elemental. Gabriel rescued Wonnilon and got him (and the bronze box, which contained a bronze hammer, a small bowl and a bronze knife) to Blars, who healed the gnome. Ark retrieved his staff and, racing at top speed, investigated the two small rooms in the south wall. Ulo dragged Valen to safety while Gabriel distracted the SW elemental – Gabriel was crushed by the beast in the process. Schlomo continued to battle the NW elemental using the bronze hammer found in the bronze box, with little effect.

Blars healed Gabriel, and the party was about to retreat when Ark and Shecky discovered that blood dripped atop the pyramid caused the Elementals to stiffen to attention. This changed the game to a fast-paced game of cat & mouse: Ark, Shecky and Valen racing between the pyramid and the doors, exploring the room, Schlomo hammering away at the semi-defenseless NW Elemental with the bronze hammer and doing massive damage with each blow, thanks to the hammer’s assumed enchantment, and Gabriel leading the remainder of the party across to the NE door and into the hallway, all the while doing their best to avoid the thus-far slow-moving Elementals. Just as Schlomo destroyed the NW elemental single-handedly (not a single other player had caused damage, tho Blars’ spell had contained the beast), and celebration began, Valen (still badly wounded) went one last time to the top of the pyramid. At this point, about 1 minute of combat had passed. As he squeezed blood from his palm, all three remaining elemntals sunk rapidly into the earth, zoomed to the base of the pyramid, huge, racing mounds of earth showing their passage, and rose up at the perimiter of the pyramid, rippling arms reaching toward the pyramid top. Valen scrambled back to the NE exit.

The party regrouped in the NE hallway. The elementals remained ringed around the pyramid. The group argued – Schlomo, Valen and Ark argued that, now that they presumably knew the Elementals’ weekness for blood, they could (and should, given their geas) kill the remaining three. Gabriel and Blars argued against risking it – they were down on spells, and this new movement from the elementals to the pyramid was very disturbing. Shecky, in the meantime, peeked around the corner just a bit investigating the new hallway.

Ultimately, the party decided not to try and take on the remaining elementals. Still, Schlomo and Ark were very keen to see what happened when the bronze hammer was used against the incredibly dense, weighty stone Ark had found in the SE storage room filled with different kinds of earth and strange pebbles. Despite Gabriel’s vehement opposition, Schlomo decided to risk it, and raced across the big room at full speed. Schlomo easily reached the room. He smashed the bronze hammer down on the stone with all his might … shattering the hammer. Still, Schlomo could not help but believe the stone was important, so he hefted the 8 inch diameter, 250lb stone and began to carry it slowly back to the party. But as soon as he set foot on the deep soil, the SE elemental charged, lightning fast. Schlomo dropped the stone, which sunk deep into the earth, and ran, but did not have the speed – the elemental caught him and, with a crushing blow, rendered him unconscious.

Unwilling to leave Schlomo to die, Blars raced into the room, chased by the NE elemental. He reached Schlomo. With help from Ark, he healed Schlomo. Ark raced back to the NE hallway to save himself. As all three elementals closed in, it was all Blars could do to pull Schlomo, barely conscious, into the SE room and throw the thick ironwood door shut.

Gabriel, Valen, Shecky, Ulo and Ark, all wounded and nearly out of spells, crouched in the NE hallway, while two Earth Elementals resumed their patrols of their areas (NE and SW corners, respectively), and the SE elemental crashed angrily against the wall and SE door. Blars and Schlomo, each badly injured, huddled in the tiny room filled with earth and pebbles.

Time remaining until the scheduled changing of the tower guards: 5 days, 14 hours

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Adventure Log - Session 13
Session 13, in which Blars and Schlomo rescue themselves and the party causes extra strife between the Evil Temples.

Gabriel, Valen, Ark & Shecky contemplated what to do while in the SE corner of the room an Earth Elemental threw itself against the door to the room containing Blars & Schlomo, and two additional elementals (SW & NE) patrolled in tight patterns in the room. Valen sent Ulo into the room to see how the elementals would react, given the recent change in their behavior. The nearest elemental zoomed immediately to Ulo, smashing him unconscious. Ark raced in to save the wolf, narrowly escaping the elementals himself.

Unsure what to do, despite the immediate danger the SE elemental posed to Blars & Schlomo (group1), Valen & Gabriel & Ulo (group2) decided to investigate the area around the Earth Temple for clues, while Ark & Shecky (group3) began to try various tactics to distract the SE elemental, all to no avail. Shecky, upon finding a spell scroll in the pile of earth that was the NW elemental before Schlomo killed it, surmised that, if group1 could reach into their elemental and snag the scroll from within it, it, too, might be killed. Group1 soon got its chance, as the SE elemental smashed the door open. Blars and Schlomo both pushed through the elemental, taking extensive damage, but found no scroll inside. They ran to safety, having ultimately saved themselves, barely escaping the elementals, who all gave chase.

Meanwhile, group2 found nothing of great note in the immediate temple area, save that Gabriel, upon concentration on the glowing runes covering another large set of doors (upon which only he and Blars can even gaze), was led to believe that, given some time, he could figure out how to undo the enchantment and unlock those doors. They re-joined to the rest of the weary, broken party, and all decided they need to rest. Shecky led them to a room he’d investigated which appeard to be long disused.

As the party rested, certain party members heard commotion in the hallway during their watch. Each guard relayed an increasingly confused story to the next (some via charades, thanks to Ark’s vow of silence). Upon waking, they pieced together the following:

- There was great commotion among the Earth temple guards
- lots of angry shouting was heard when the guards (seemingly) discovered the burnt Bugbreas in the rat pit
- lots of angry shouting when the destroyed elemental was discovered
- patrols were increased a great deal during the 8 hour rest
- there was a regular scraping sound indicating the guards were doing something undetermined
- based upon the guards shouts and conversations, it seems they blamed the Fire Temple for the deaths, and were eager to kick some “fire-eater” ass

Upon stealthily peeking out of the room, the party found dark hallways where once they were torchlit. The torches had been removed from their sconces (the scraping sound).

Blars went to his belongings to search for something in the Box of Holding, only to find that it was missing! The party quickly determined Wonnilon must have stole it in the confusion of the battle with the elementals (or sometime before that moment), and took it when he left. There was much cursing.

Noting the apparent increase in patrols, the party decided to stick to unused, dusty hallways and rooms, all wearing their black, fiery-elemental-eye cloaks. They discovered a ramshackle library and sorted through it’s mostly destroyed contents, finding nothing of great note. A room which advertised meditation and future-seeing intrigued the party, but it was decided that discretion was the better part of valor so far as divination in an evil temple was concerned.

A secret door in the back of the divination room led to a large, open room with a high, vailted cieling and many supporting beams. It appeared to have once been a throne room or audience chamber of some kind – a grand stone throne had been hacked to bits, and dust covered everything. The party was quickly attacked by a swarm of filthy, greasy, blood-sucking mosquito-birds the size of hawks (stirges). After trying to fight the incredibly fast flighying beasts for a few rounds (and even killing a few), the party fled back through the secret door, agreeing that flying things are hard as heck to fight in high-ceilinged rooms [adventure lesson].

Scouting ahead in a darkened hallway, Ark heard the approach of a pair of guards on patrol. Using Ark as bait, the party prepared an ambush. The guards were warier this time than in the post-rat-pit instance, and the party had to rush them. They were dispatched quickly, and one saved for questioning. Ark & Valen then scouted ahead, finding two more guards at a closed door on a few hallways away. The immediate area around them was torchlit, unlike most of the tunnels since the recent rest. It was decided they must be guarding something important. The captured guard would not reveal who or what they were protecting, but it was clear it was someone important. They were able to infer that there were lots of guards, and that they might (might) be guarding Romag, who they’d learned is the High Priest of the Earth Temple.

The party snuck to the guarded door and quickly dispatched the two guards. From then on it was push into a room, attack, and move through, blitzkrieg-style. The guards inside, a mix of humans, kobolds and bugbears, put up a fierce fight, but were badly outmatched. Even so, their sheer numbers meant the party suffered extensive damage. As they fough three rooms in, two human figures in full plate mail entered from the far side of the room and began unleashing spells, wreaking hell on the party. As the party turned its attention to the two spellcasters, Valen saw one of the chainmail-clad guards sneak out through a door to the north. They party dispatched the two evil clerics with some difficulty, having been already weakened. One of the clerics (a youngish, tall, sandy-haired man) was captured alive (tho unconscious). The other, only a few years older (perhaps late 20s), was killed. The younger cried out “Romag” when he was killed.

The clerics dispatched, Valen followed the fleeing swordsman north into a lavishly decorated room – clearly Romag’s quarters. The fleeing swordsman was nowhere to be seen. Bloodied and down on spells, the party looted the bodies, while Gabriel and Blars joined Valen in Romag’s chambers.

Where did the swordsman go? And, with Romag and his guards dispatched, has the Earth Temple been destroyed?

Time remaining until the scheduled changing of the Tower Guards: 4 days, 10 hours

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