Party Roster (links to Character Threads):
Belten Steelcaller - Dwarven Fighter/Rogue
Deadeye the Bonecrafter - Half Orc Ranger
Eklan Pathweaver - Human Cleric
Flail - Human Ranger/Fighter
Kransh Debord - Dwarven Fighter
Breathing heavy and shaking from exhaustion, you manage to find an area free of the blood and gore that crawls like a putrid serpent, spoiling every crevasse of the ancient stonework of the Grand Theatre. Stopping for a moment, you look about for another instinctive scan of the sprawling room, your survey revealing no visible sign of the enemy, at least none that still possess life … or otherwise. Satisfied, perhaps even relieved that you are finally out of harm's way, your battle-weary bones find a slim reserve of strength to gently carry you down to the cold stone floor, it's soothing kiss finding it's way thru to your very core, as if to bear the wrath of your sweat-drenched gear.
For the first time, in what seems like days, you manage to relax and let down your guard … closing your eyes for a brief respite, your war-drum heart slowly withdrawing from it's epic battle to free itself from the heaving prison of your ribcage, the death-grip on your weapons reluctantly loosens. The stench of rancid death assaults you, raping the very air, heavy like a bloated corpse twisting at the end of its ceremonial noose, at once offensive and yet tragically unavoidable. You do what little you can to spare your senses from the fetid onslaught, tying a wide strip of cloth about your mouth and nose, choking back the bile that stings the back of your throat.
Among the survivors, you notice a few of your companions wandering about and signal them over, giving silent thanks to whatever godly host is willing to listen in this forsaken abattoir. Their beleaguered and sullen eyes manage to shine briefly with recognition as they begin to make their way over to where you rest. They negotiate a path over and thru the countless bodies of the dead and the undead, in a vain attempt to spare their boots from the foul, inhuman stew that forms the horrific jigsaw disguising the floor.
Your thoughts turn to the others whom you all fought alongside, strangers that continue to mill about this mysterious place, searching for fallen comrades brought down by the vicious might of the cultists and their impossible abominations. Eventually, they too begin to congregate in small groups, drawn together by unseen bonds that only they can feel.
Together, the four of you; Deadeye, Flail, Belten and Kransh try to make sense of what happened here … but despite your best efforts, none of you can seem to fully wrap your minds about what actually transpired. Piecing together what little information you have, you come to the agreement that this must have been a huge worship room for the servants of Pelor … but for some unknown reason had been overrun and desecrated by the Cult of Orcus, Demon-Prince of the Undead. The mere mention of his name is enough to make you shudder. Your discussion comes to an abrupt halt as yet another ally joins your circle … it's Eklan, the young priest of Fharlaghn. Weak and visibly distraught, he sits down beside you, struck dumb by the unspeakable horrors that surround you. His head falls into his hands, and he begins to quietly sob. Glancing at one another, it's obvious that you all genuinely feel for the inexperienced cleric … and you can't help but think, "This is a path he ever expected to find himself travelling." But you just can't bring yourself to utter any words of assurance, knowing they would simply fail to console him, so instead you reach for your ale skin and take a few long pulls in order to steel your nerves for the grim work ahead.
To the victor go the spoils. This is a simple and undeniable fact of war … and on this day, the spoils are plentiful. Searching the dead, and stripping them of anything of value, you slowly return to yourself. The lifeless husks at your feet are undeserving of your respect, nor even as passing thought … making your job that much more palpable. They chose to raise their weapons against you, and in doing so sealed their doom ... the punishment meted out by you and your comrades is more than justified. More than once you had put some wretched bastard out of their misery as you tread thru the vile detritus hunting for loot. Gasping for air whilst drowning in their own blood, their tortured, hollow gurgling grates on your nerves … and with a single, swift and measured stroke of your weapon, they are forever silenced. "A fitting and pitiful death for the shite-stains of humanity." you think to yourself. "I bet revering a Demon-Prince doesn't seem like a very well thought out plan now, eh?"
Once the mounds of treasure are finally gathered upon the raised stage at the North end of the immense prayer hall, each group selects a trusted comrade to help oversee the fair and equitable distribution of the loot among the survivors. The process is long, boring and not without raised voices, heated arguments and promises of violence … fortunately in the end, a tenuous decorum is maintained as cooler heads prevail.
Your group manages to secure the following items:
15 black cultist robes
5 heavy maces
9 masterwork heavy maces
+1 Heavy Mace
14 masterwork daggers
6 light crossbows
8 masterwork light crossbows
+1 Light Crossbow
2 chain shirts
7 masterwork chain shirt
+1 Chain Shirt
3 scale mail
1 masterwork scale mail
+1 Scale Mail
7 light steel shields
7 masterwork light steel shields
+1 Light Steel Shield
19 vials Unholy Water
8 Potions of Cure Light Wounds
Those not directly involved with loot sharing take the opportunity to stretch out on the polished wooden pews for a much needed rest. Others, like Eklan, tend to the injured and dead, and others still continue to search the vastness of the theatre … if only to pass the time and keep their minds alert.
When a shout comes from the far end of the hall, it commands everyone's attention … a flurry of weapons are drawn as you bolt en masse towards the source of the call, ready to cut down the unseen enemy. Thru the commotion, it's revealed that one of the men, with whom you are unfamiliar, has uncovered a secret and well-hidden cache that appears to have been left undisturbed for countless decades.
Within the small and musty antechamber, a wealth of items is found, surpassing those harvested from the dead cultists. A collective gasp overcomes the gathering of heroes when it's determined that below the thick layer of dust and cobwebs, a great many of items are magical in nature! And so the process of dividing the treasure begins anew … but this time, with all eyes intensely focused on the proceedings.
Your group's share of the items from the secret cache is as follows:
+1 Heavy Steel Shield of Bashing
+1 Dwarven Waraxe of Fire
+1 Light Flail of Frost
+1 Warhammer of Vermin Bane
+1 Arrow of Giant Slaying
25, +1 Crossbow Bolts
4 Potions of Cure Light Wounds
Potion of Spider Climb
Potion of Invisibility
Potion of Bull's Strength
Potion of Lesser Restoration
Potion of Heroism
Potion of Water Breathing
Potion of Shield Of Faith
Oil of Bless Weapon
Potion of Protection from Evil
+1 Ring of Protection
Wand of Colour Spray (27 Charges)
Wand of Burning Hands (32 Charges)
Unguent of Timelessness
2 vials of Silversheen
Brooch of Shielding
Hand of the Mage
+1 Cloak of Resistance
Dust of Appearance
Gauntlets of Ogre Power
Bag of Holding Type I
Periapt of Wisdom +2
+1 Amulet of Natural Armour
+1 Longsword (Sword of Bertooles) (Deadeye)
Never before have you seen a magical horde such as this. You savour the moment and begin to
imagine the impact these items will have on your future adventures! Among the enchanted items, you also find
a small silver container; it's lid held fast with a locked clasp and a thick leather scroll, bound with a wide bronze ring.
As you tally up your loot and secure the goods for transport in large canvas sacks, you notice the other groups slowly beginning to make their way out of the grand temple. Moving upwards thru the shrine, everywhere you look, the signs of evil and corruption have virtually destroyed what was once most certainly an amazing and awe-inspiring tribute to the God of the Sun and Adversary of Evil. How ironic and predictable that the Cult of Orcus would choose this place to perform their dark rituals. You being to wonder how long they've been here, and what circumstances prevented the Pelor-faithful from putting an end to their foul ceremonies? You manage to overhear snippets of conversations from those ahead of you, and two men in particular - a Human Cleric of Fharlaghn named "Zhorne" and a Human Sorcerer named "Rhyss" seem to have made some very important discoveries concerning the events of surrounding the battle with the Cultists of Orcus and their undead minions.
You glean this information from the two men:
- the strange light that came form the vortex is responsible for animate-ing the dead
and that it is some form of divine magic. The lightning glow seemed to emanate from or through the vortex, so it is possible the magic originated from the
other side. Given that Orcus came through that vortex, and Orcus is from Thanatos, this magic could be coming from that (or even another) plane.
- the woman Panischia was clearly some kind of priestess, albeit probably lower level than the Skull Lords. She is Human and was surrounded by an energy field of divine magic.
- the flying creature was an Ekolid demon, an obyrith, although it looked like it was not fully grown or done maturing, so it probably lacked some of its strength and powers. Proximity to it can induce a form of madness, it is incredibly fast and has some resistance to damage. Its stingers are ovipositors that implant quick-hatching eggs in its victims. These eggs hatch in seconds, but a Remove Disease spell can kill the eggs before they hatch.
- ekolids are primeval demons from a time before the Tanar'ri ruled The Abyss. They are usually immune to mind-affecting attacks and poison, and they are usually resistant to acid, cold, electricity, and fire damage.
- the marked finger indicates a "tainted soul." That is those bearing the mark likely have been cursed by Orcus himself, and should they die their souls shall travel to Thanatos (in The Abyss) where they shall be bound to the Demon Prince of the Undead for eternal torment.
- two notes were found on two different corpses. One read, "Come and see HIS Apotheosis begin." And the second read, "5 fingers shall prove your worth, absolve you of HIS torment, and be your talisman to HIS power and rewards."
You swallow hard as you and your comrades all look down to your offhand to remind yourselves of the blackened little finger …
As you finally reach the ground floor of the massive Temple of Pelor, you exit the defiled complex into the cool evening breeze of the desert, welcoming the fresh air that serves to invigorate both body and spirit. Once you have established your bearings, it becomes apparent that you find yourselves in the fabled Vale of the Gods - a low-lying desert basin that is home to a vast number of religious temples devoted to the many Gods and Deities of the realm. From this you are able to further pinpoint your current location, which you believe to be due East of the Talon Hills, in the central part of the Desert of Shifting Sands.The wicked sands have indeed lived up to their name. Several of the temples in the basin have been overrun by massive dunes, which threaten to swallow them altogether, erasing them from the very surface of the land. The site gives you pause to consider just how many religious sites, burial tombs and ancient settlements must lie below the volatile sands of this primordial wasteland. As darkness quickly approaches you decide, rather than mess about, it would be safest to strike camp right here in the Vale, where shelter is guaranteed. After a quick survey of the area, you settle on the small inner foyer of a ruined Temple of Thyr since it's entrance faces South and has not succumbed to the lawlessness of the ever-changing sands. The five of you set to making a modest fire, and prepare a meal from what food you have … you'll decide what to do and where to go on the morrow.