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Tairn » 1532.7.8 - Into the Temple

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December 2023
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1532.7.8 - Into the Temple

Leaving the bees to their buzzing, everyone continues on to the next platform. After an hour’s rest, another fatiguing walk ends in another platform. The sun is starting to set, so Keddick creates an extended rope trick to hide in. Everyone clambers up and the night passes uneventfully.

As dawn breaks, Keddick finishes studying his tome. Three and a half more hours of climbing and resting brings the group to a plateau at late morning. Remarkably, no one is fatigued by the last switchback of travel. Malperder and Jack notice a small wooden box with leather hinges on the ground at the top of the stairs. They call Varendë to examine the box while everyone catches their breath at the top of the last steps. A temple stands out a few hundred feet up a gentle slope backed by a tall cliff face rising several hundred feet into the air.  Half way between you and the temple, the ground appears to fall away for a short distance. On the other side of the gap stand two squat stone pillars a few feet high at the close edge of some sort of platform. Bridging the gap, two rails extend from the pillars towards you. Wide stone steps lead up to the pillared temple front. Three small arches open into a wall set back above the main level of the temple. Creepers and vines cover the exterior of the temple with a leafy green. A small plume of mist or smoke rises behind the left side of the temple.

Varendë examines the box and remarks that it is assuredly trapped with a spell. Varendë is abandoned at the top of the stairs with others retreating 30 feet back down the stairs. Varendë works with the box and then opens it without incident. Inside is a small rolled piece of animal hide. He unrolls it and notes writing on it in some sort of dye. The characters are Dwarvish, but the language is unreadable to him. Keddick and Malperder come back up the steps. Keddick reads the note, written in Goblin, aloud:

Your murder has been discovered. Return with the statue or your lives are forfeit.

Kordis remarks that the magical trap could have been something as simple as a ritual he names Fire Trap. Varendë brings up the subject of giving this statue to the bugbears. He questions Jack’s acquiescence to the bugbear’s demands. Jack says he was only placating them. Keddick makes no remarks to defend his earlier stated position of having given his word to them. Malperder has blood-thirst in his eyes and tone as he speaks of slaughtering the bugbears. Enough talk. Varendë moves up towards the rails.

The dark stone path of the stairs leads directly towards the temple. As you walk closer to the temple, you can see a dry moat at least twenty feet across. The steep banks of the moat drop fifteen feet below you. The bottom of the moat is covered with moss, water, tree branches, and stones. Two narrow metal rails extend across the moat to the far side ending in two low stone pillars. A thick slab sits on the opposite side between the pillars of stone. Four triangular symbols stand out from the front of the temple: two on flat daises to the sides of the steps, one above the central entrance, and a fourth above the central arch on the floor above. Small carved figures stick out from the corners of the main building. Both Jack and Varendë think they have a good chance of walking across the rails. Malperder suggests they simply climb down with a rope tied around the rail and back up the other side.
Malperder borrows Jack’s rope, ties it off, and climbs down. As he stands at the bottom he feels sharp stings in his legs. He has disturbed a nest of large centipedes that are scrambling about his legs and biting him. Malperder hews at them with his axe while Varendë fires arrows at the insects. Kordis lets fly with a course of force missiles destroying two more. Soon Malperder reports all he can see are dead. Banic attempts to search for more by detecting poison, but his examination of a five by five foot area just past Malperder reveals nothing.

Varendë nimbly crosses the rails. Jack follows as Banic climbs down into the moat. Jack’s foot slips and he falls to the bottom of the moat rolling gracefully to avoid the pain of the fall. More centipedes assail Jack. Kordis and Keddick never even see the beasts as Jack jumps to his feet and skewers two of them. Varendë’s arrow flies true, and axe and hammer leave the second group of centipedes lifeless.

Varendë examines the platform between the pillars. He thinks the platform is four separate stone slabs that could be pushed across the rails. Jack, Banic and Malperder climb up and the Dwarves push the stone across the rails. Keddick and Kordis casually cross the bridge.

Malperder suggests they circle through the overgrowth to the left of the temple to find the source of the smoky mist. As they do so, a viper strikes at Malperder’s leg biting into a gap in his armor. Varendë moves up and kills the snake. A brief discussion ensues about the merits of wading through snake infested undergrowth. Malperder is convinced to abandon his plan, and everyone proceeds up the stairs six abreast.

As you climb the steps, the triangular symbol carved of stone above the center of the opening is repeated in a dark metal on the daises on each side of the steps. Double rows of ten inch diameter pillars hold up the ten foot ceiling. Looking past the pillars you can see a large sunlit inner cloister and more pillars to the left and right as well as the far side of the room. Four man-sized lumps lay on the ground within the sunlit area; a faint glint of metal can be seen. The pillars on the far side of the room have a wide gap in the middle of them leading on to a wide hallway and a ceiling sloping downward. Beyond the pillars to the left and right is a single wide deep alcove on each side. The dark stone path leads directly through the cloister and down the far stairs. The large triangular symbols on the daises are five feet on a size, outline only, and a point of each triangle is aimed at the sky. A rim of writing can be seen ringing the top of the building. Banic attempts to divine magical auras and sees multiple auras on each of three of the lumps. As people approach the lumps can be seen to be wearing armor. Banic and Jack search the bodies and discover metal vials holding potions. Each is wearing rusted half plate armor dented fiercely. Axes lies near the bodies. Kordis leaves his watch at the front of the temple to examine the potions. He discovers eight vials all the same which he believes to be simple curatives (cure light wounds) and four that he is unable to determine but he is sure they are the same. Keddick tastes the unknown elixirs and says they are a minor restorative (lesser restoration). Varendë meanwhile examined the area open to the sky. The inside of the arches seen from the front of the building are apparent on the inside. Similar arches line the back of the opening, and three arches are on each side, all five feet wide. Varendë proceeds to explore the two side galleries past rows of columns and finds faded frescoes of monks fighting giants. He wonders if the giants would take the steps of the mountain more easily.

With two large roars, a large white-haired beast with four arms appears at either end of the cloister. The one at the far end of the cloister comes through the twenty foot gap in the pillars with a smaller version of himself just behind. The smaller beast has four arms as well, but two of the arms seem to be useless vestigial limbs. Kordis and Keddick stand close to where the best is coming through the front pillars. Jack charges towards the beast between the pillars. A claw whips out at him as he loses sight of the creature when he is passing Kordis and rips into his flesh. He repays the creature by stabbing deep with his rapier. The beast from the far end of the room charges Malperder and hits him mightily with a claw. Varendë tumbles to flank the beast as Malperder defends himself and Kordis blasts Jack’s assailant with rays of fire. Malperder circles to his left to move into flanking with Varendë and hacks at the beast. Keddick shoots flame at the beast from only ten feet away. The creature steps forward and bites and tears Keddick nearly to death. The smaller beast charges Varendë. Banic smites it with Moradin’s Vengeance. Jack stabs deep again and the first beast falls. Soon Varendë fells the second with a well-placed blow to vital organs. The remaining small beast runs back the way it came into the darkness. Banic sets about healing people, especially Keddick and Malperder.

Varendë searches one of the creatures but finds nothing of value. Surely these are the “white apes” the bugbears spoke of. Keddick knows these to be girallons that he has read about. Ferocious beasts! Banic searches the remaining human body with Jack. The body lies over a shortsword rusted with time, but a rotting pouch reveals an oilcloth bundle of very fine rogue’s tools.

Moving on along the path of dark stones, a twenty foot wide staircase leads down to a landing and a wide arch into another sunlit area beyond. As you descend the steps, a ten foot wide arch in front of you enters another sunlit cloister beyond. A similar ten foot wide arched tunnel exits the cloister on the opposite side. The line of dark stones continues straight through the cloister and out the opposite tunnel. Wooden doors still hang from narrow openings along the walls leading into small cells. Five foot wide arched tunnels lead to the left and right. Short stone staircases lead up on each side of the arches to a walkway above and more doors to cells. A search of the cells discovers nothing but the rotted remains of cloth blankets and debris. Each cell is 7 feet long, seven feet high and five feet wide. When Varendë moves to search the upper cells, he finds a skeleton covered in rotting robes on the walkway. He pushes the body over the edge to the courtyard below shattering the skeleton. The archway to the left leads to a similar room, but another arch leads out onto a small semi-circular platform with a stone rail. Malperder steps onto the platform and sees the mist to his right another hundred or more feet away through the trees and underbrush. A quick search of the cells reveals nothing of interest, but an archway leading further towards the cliff leads down yet more stairs.

Malperder leads down the steps. The area beyond is dark, and rings and torches are pulled from storage to show the way.

Two long rows of tables and benches run the length of this room. Many of the tables still stand, but some have collapsed. The air here feels warmer and more humid as you descend the steps. Torch sconces line the walls. Three archways in the right hand wall lead out of the room. The walls are rough stone. Malperder and Varendë notice a faint dripping noise from somewhere beyond the arches to your right.

Malperder leads through the first arch. The air in this room is extremely humid. A small plume of steam comes up from a hole in the floor near one wall. Water drips from condensation within the room. A bucket and rotted rope sit nearby the hole. Several heavy wooden tables are scattered hear and there around the room. Large metal cookware sits on tables or the floor. A staircase leads down in the corner to what must have once been a stout door that now lies haphazardly across the stairs.

Malperder leads down the stairs. As he gets to the bottom, he sees a fifteen foot wide, thirty foot long room with four goblins standing with their back to the wall at the far end. One shouts at him in Goblin:

“What do you want? Leave us alone. We didn’t do anything to you.”

Malperder questions them as to why they are here, how they got here, what they want, and if the bugbears sent them.

The goblin repeats the demand for them to leave. They deny knowing anything about bugbears, a mountain climb, and they give no details about how they got here. The goblins seem frightened but are adamant in their demand for you to leave. They say that their leader is “Kak.” Upon reflection, “Kak” is a word meaning “Master” but they clearly use it as a proper noun. Suddenly two of the goblins step forward to reveal a two foot circular hole in the wall and pea-size dot of fire racing from the whole towards Malperder. Keddick and Kordis at the top of the stairs can hear the exchange in goblin, but they have no warning as they are engulfed in flames as a ball of fire explodes. Varendë is able to shield himself behind a stout Dwarven body to avoid burning, and Banic’s god-given resistance to fire saves him from much of the damage. The others are not so lucky. As the flames clear, Malperder sees the goblins holding weapons at the ready but not moving. He also sees a goblin face through the hole chanting and pointing at him. A black ray of crackling energy strikes Malperder in the chest and his knees go weak as his stomach wrenches (he gains two negative levels). The malevolent face disappears into the darkness beyond the hole. Everyone rushes forward to slaughter the poor goblins gamely standing their ground but not attacking. The last of them whacks Banic, drops his morningstar and begs for mercy. He receives none. Banic closes the hole with a touch from his hand, reshaping the stone of the wall to close off the goblin adept from them. Just as the stone flows over the hole, he notices a metal ring lining the hole. As the adrenaline rush fades, a musty odor of age overlaid by char permeates the room lined with shelves and racks set into the walls. Banic checks on his cousin but cannot determine the cause of his malady. Malperder repeats that he doesn’t feel right. The shields of the four goblins all depict the same symbol: a dragon’s head with an exaggerated set of fangs. Upon examination, Keddick thinks the drawing of the head has a distinctive flavor representing a green dragon’s head ridge. The coloration of the symbol seems to be a dark green. Keddick remarks that green dragons are forest wyrms.

Temple Map

Yellow outlined areas show where openings are in the ceiling allowing in natural light. In the first room, arches in the upper level are depicted as well.

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