4/8/11: We played from 11:30 to 4 AM. We finally reached the actual temple. Remember.... It is certain that both vast treasure and horrible death await, so you must gain the one while cheating the other!
Carric Cendoria - Elf Seeker
Fayte Bonesunder - Human Paladin
Heron - Half-elf Fighter
Jurod/Jolene - Changeling Mage
* NPC Hirelings: Elmo the pandaman, Mardix the man-at-arms, Vellic the druid & Cadsvine Chaltz the seeker. And later, Harmony Helltiger the rogue and Rania the thief.
The adventurers stood before Mystery Pandemonium,a high-ranking member of King Thennrynnia's army. She was impressed with the heroes' score in the Challenge of Champions, and asked them to investigate the temple. The heroes agreed to do so. She gave them some bullet points:
© Go to Nulth, find the temple, see what's going on there and stop it if possible.
© Lord Thrommel, wielder of Fragarach (the sword that never misses), had gone missing while investigating the temple. Countess Trilahi of the Elf Forest (who Carric had met a while back) was also thought to be captured in the temple. And there was a half-orc villain called Smigmal Redhand who had a bounty on her head. It was believed she was somehow connected to the temple.
© In Nulth, Elmo's brother Otis was there in disguise. He was keeping an eye on things and reporting back to Mystery with owls and sprites (Otis dabbled in Druid...ry. Druidery.)
© Mystery's falcon Proudwing Soar would accompany the heroes and fly back to Olwynn to report periodically.
© Mystery told the heroes to head to Thunderspire labyrinth, the complex that was beneath Olwynn, and to seek out a wizrd called Vivacious Crews. She would help the heroes get to Nulth quickly and safely.
The heroes headed outside. Elmo waited, and sadly bid farewell to the heroes. He had to return to Holmaren to keep an eye on things there. He wished them luck, and rode off in Aunt Sharpa's rickshaw.
Proudwing Soar let out a noble caw. The heroes followed the falcon through the streets of Olwynn. Proudwing led the heroes out of the Misty Maw of Colossal Yearning (the docks) and into the Reverant Hold of Hallowed Reflection (the religious/wealthy district). The heroes were stopped in the street by 5 tiefling priests of Dispater.
One priest pointed at Harmony and said, "You! Thief! And you others helped her get away! With money donated to our church."
Heron feigned ignorance and said "I... don't know what you're talking about."
The tiefling laughed bitterly. "A likely story. Thieves! Woman, give me my fifty gold." People began to gather round.
Fayte said, "No. Devils have no place in this world. Your ancestors should know that, tiefling."
Heron added, "Can you prove that 50 gold was yours? Was your name written on it?"
The tiefling said "My reputation is impeccable. I am, after all, Leviticus Payne!"
People in the crowd murmured, nodded, and said "Ah, he has done a lot of good, yes..."
Heron said thoughtfully, "I don't know.. your name has the word 'pain' in it. And not inside another word or anything. It's just 'pain'. It's right out there.
Leviticus responded, "The ignorance of this menagerie astounds me! Everyone knows that the tieflings of today do nothing but good for the city of Olwynn. The fact that you'll accuse us of evil based on the fact that our grandparents were devils..."
Heron suggested he rename himself "Leviticus Nice", or maybe "Leviticus Good Guy".
Leviticus thought it fair not only to get the gold back, but also something extra. Like a magic item.
Fayte said "We are on a mission for Mystery Pandemonium.." Proudwing Soar circled overhead and gave out a mighty call.... and it is serious business. We don't have time for your nonsense."
The crowd parted. Three plaguesoul genasis stepped forward. Someone in the crowd gasped and identified one of the plaguesouls. "It's Monquarious Mungo!"
Monquarious and his friends got real close to the heroes (adjacent) and said, Mystery Pandemonium isn't always right, you know. I think you should do as Leviticus says." Then they let poison vapors spew from their mouths (doing five poison to all adjacent).
Heron used his staff to try to trip them up, but the plaguesouls jumped back. Monquarious yelled "They're attacking us!".The priests of Dispater drew sinister curved sacrificial daggers.
Before a battle could break out, foulwings landed. Riding the foulwings were dragonborn and dwarves - followers of Kava Frosthowl. A dwarfdismounted, his dragonborn wife followed.
He said "Whoa, whoa. We don't need a fight here, do we now? So says Atticus Disney!" Atticus walked up to Monguarious Mungo and pushed him. Everyone gasped.
The Foulwing watched. And then he pooped. Everyone stopped and stared at the foulwing in fear.
Some of the citizens took exception to this. A bunch of followers of Kava riding foulwings swooped down. The dwarves and dragonborn dismounted and argued with the genasis. Their leader, Atticus Disney, shoved a genasi.
The heroes did not understand that in this district, the immortal who guarded it was a hag called Malifice. She hated it when things were untidy - and she was wicked and insane and rode a living carpet of ladybugs. Each ladybug was once a citizen who had been untidy.
So everyone looked at the foulwing in horror, and from around the bend came a clacking, chattering horde of ladybugs. Standing on them was an ancient crone with a bent nose who cackled and screeched: "You've sullied my streets, children! And for that, you must be taught a lesson!". She held out a gnarled finger and began firing beams, turning random citizens into ladybugs.
Everyone panicked and ran. Atticus Disney was hit and transformed. Jurod tried to escape but was knocked to the ground by a foulwing. Fayte intimidated the plaguesouls into getting out of her way. Heron fell to the ground, and Carric nimbly made his way to safety. The Judge Cadsvine Chaltz, shadar kai servant of the Raven Queen was hit! The heroes could only watch in shock as their ally was transformed into a ladybug, which mindlessly joined the others.
The heroes escaped the scene and re-grouped. They mourned the loss of their friend for a moment, and then saw Proudwing Soar in the sky. They followed the falcon into the Luminescent Labyrinth of Gold (the market district).
The adventurers retrieved their cart drawn by a warhorse, a skeletal horse and a mule and headed to a marble building adjacent to the teleport platform. Inside, a mage of Saruun (wearing blue robes and a silver mask, saying nothing) activated a rune. The circular platform the heroes were standing on lowered into a shaft, bring the heroes down to thunderspire labyrinth.
In the main cavern, where buildings were carved out of the wall rock, The mage of Saruun brought the adventurers to the guildhouse of saruun. There, they were led to a study where Vivacious Crews was lounging, studying charts and diagrams of the elemental chaos. She was looking for probable hiding places of the Viridian Draconis - the three 3-headed dragons who were children of Tiamat.
In a ritual room, she cast Shadow Walk on the heroes. The ritual enabled them to pass through shadows and travel at five times their normal speed. She said to them: "May you have the cunning of Zev, the strength of Kava and the fire of Clarissa!".
The heroes got on their cart as they became flickering shadows, blinking and gliding out of Olwynn and down the road that led to the village of Nulth. As the day turned to night, a mist settled on the road.Here's the insane pile of flavor text that Gary Gygax wrote to set up the actually Temple adventure:
"The pleasant and seemingly peaceful village of Holmaren turned out to be filled with agents of Chaotic Evil hiding within the hamlet. The supposedly ruined and deserted Sunken Tower nearby held a new champion of the nearby Temple of Elemental Evil. All of this brought danger and difficulty to the members of your group, but it also offered adventure, experience and wealth.
You have either slain or driven off the evil men and creatures, and the able guardians of Holmaren - Jaroo, Terjon, Elmo, and the rest of the sturdy militiamen - can surely see to it that their area remains clean of the taint of Evil hereafter. Having accomplished most of your goals, you must now look elsewhere for greater challenges (and commensurate rewards). If agents of the temple were still active in Holmaren, then there must certainly be work for you at that fountainhead of wickedness.
Not far from Holmaren lies the disreputable community of Nulth, and the temple hidden in the hills nearby. This vile place spawned much suffering, ruin and death before the hosts of Good brought it low and bound its' power. It is evident that the place was wounded but not slain, for dark things crept into Holmaren under direction of someone or something still lurking in the shunned edifice of evil.
The upper works of the temple were thrown down and destroyed in the final siege of the war against its' hordes. Because of its' great power and evil, however, the conquerers did not actually raze the Temple proper, instead sealing its' great doors and placing mighty wards of all sorts upon the place and the black labyrinth beneath. Even as great a force as overthrew the Temple could not cleanly deal with what lurked below.
Since that great battle, the Temple area has been shunned, its' ruins deserted. The nearby village of Nulth has returned to a semblance of normal activity - questionable at best, for the place has always been rumored to house thieves, brigands, smugglers and pirates. But as Nulth stinks of garbage and filth, the Temple area reeks of the foul corruption and pervading Chaotic Evil from whence it was spawned. No wonder that both places have again been left to their own devices.
When the Temple of Elemental Evil flourished, earthquakes, storms of all sorts, great fires and flash floods struck areas nearby with seeming capriciousness. All that ceased when the Temple was assaulted and sealed. You have been advised of all this, and urged to go elsewhere to seek your fame and fortunes. The unease which prevails upon those merely passing near the ruins shows that some wickedness still haunts the place. There are many bad folk in Nulth and still greater perils amidst the fallen Temple.
Yet the lure of such adventure beckons to you, drawing your party as surely as a lodestone draws iron. Warnings against loss of life - or even worse fates - cannot counter the irresistable pull of treasures secreted deep underground, of monsters still unbeaten, of mysteries to be unraveled. There are whispers of occult places beneath the interdicted temple, where mighty Chaotic Evil is yet wrought and noble folk are imprisoned. With care and cunning, luck and great deeds, caution mixed with boldness and daring, you and your associates can win through to achieve exploits of the stuff of legend! The journey of a hundred leagues begins with the first pace, and the time for your sojourn has come.
How you and your fellow adventurers plan to overcome the perils of the Temple is a matter that you must decide for yourselves. Is it best to reconnoiter from Holmaren? Base your activities from the village of Nulth? Try to make a secure wilderness camp somewhere near the ruin? Or perhaps lodge somewhere within the foreboding temple itself? The decision is now. It is certain that both vast treasure and horrible death await, so you must gain the one while cheating the other. Fortune and the gods must smile upon such an undertaking."
--- But wait, there's more....
"For many years, a cult of Chaotic Evil flourished. Although the location of their Temple is lost, these facts regarding it and its' followers are known.
The cult was based on the premise that the elemental forces of the universe are Chaotic and opposed to mankind, and are thus (from a humanocentric point of view) Evil. The Temple of the cult sought to destroy all works of Good and to disrupt order. Its' members were thieves, assassins, brigands and the like. Fire was regarded as the first elemental evil, and its' penchant for Chaos fitted the premise of the cult. Water was likewise worshipped as an even more powerful force of Chaotic Evil, in the form of floods, storms and raging seas beating upon the land and ocean vessels. The epitome of Chaotic Evil, however, was regarded as a combination of air and earth, represented by blackness and corresponding with the demonic Abyss. This combination was regarded as a complete negation of matter.
The cult grew powerful and rich, attracting followers of the worst sort and offering them safety within the walls of the Temple stronghold. From this fortress would the followers ride to rob, pillage, and lay waste the lands about, tithing the cult from the spoils of the carnage. Captives from those raids were brought back to the Temple to serve as human sacrifices (children tot he fire, men to the water, and women to the blackest Evil) or to slave their lives away in bondage. Besides the extensive upper works of the Temple, a deep labyrinth beneath the place was constructed, but virtually nothing is known about these dungeons except that they were inhabited by a plethora of creatures serving Chaos and Evil. It is rumored that a demon took up abode in the deepest level, to better receive the sacrifices to it.
Eventually, the neighbors of the Temple grew tired of these depradations. All Good, both Lawful and Chaotic, banded together to form a mighty host. Their army marched up to the Temple, fighting two battles along the way. The first was conclusive, thought the forces of Good who held the field afterword, so they gained the reputation of victory, and their ranks swelled with local men. The second battle saw a great slaughter of kobolds, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, evil men, and the like. The Temple was thereafter besieged, fell, and its' inhabitants put to the sword. It is reported by some sources that the Temple and its' precincts resisted complete destruction, but the majority state that the whole was razed so that the cult could never emerge again nor could any find where it once flourished."
By the time it was near dark, the ritual had ended and the heroes had arrived. Nulth was built by a river, and was a swampy, filthy collection of ramshackle dwellings.
They crossed a bridge and rode their cart through the muddy streets of Nulth.They came upon Preston, a tax collector with a hook for a hand. He had a toothache, and complained that the local brother, Lady Ophelia's, was way behind in their payments. He wanted the money so he could get his tooth healed. He offered the heroes a vague reward.
The heroes began to explore.
Smithy & Stable: As the heroes approached, the two stableboys regarded the skeletal horse with fear. Sammy, a rat-faced boy, introduced himself as an apprentice smith. He offered the heroes some secret information for a price. The heroes paid it, and he told them that Otis the smith had 25 valuable gems hidden under the anvil. The heroes perked up at the mention of Otis - he was the spy, and Elmo's panda-man brother.
The adventurers headed into the smithy and saw Otis' "disguise"- he'd put oil on his fur so that he was entirely black. The heroes quietly told Otis who they were. Otis was thrilled and told the heroes he could accompany the heroes to the temple sometime. He also told them he had heard that Preston was selling a house. He also offered to make them masterwork armor. He hinted that they might want to go see Mother Screng...
Mother Screng's Herb Shop: The shop was in a dilapidated frame building. Vegetation hung down from the rafters. Mother Screng and her daughter Hruda were old, ugly and mean. But as the heroes dropped hints as to who they were, Screng shut the curtains and turned off her magical disguise. She was no old woman. She was a beautiful, busty cleric of Clarissa! She was Canoness Y'Dey, the cleric who had disappeared from Holmaren months ago. She explained that the Church of Clarissa was independently investigating the temple, and that she didn't tell anyone because she didn't trust people in Holmaren - not even her replacement, Canon Terjon!
She told them she hoped to accompany them on an excursion to the temple sometime. She offered them potions. The heroes bought some... Carric bought a dragon breath elixir. Heron bought a potion to help fight off disease. Fayte bought a potion of friendship - the imbiber would feel friendly with the first person they interacted with. The heroes thanked "Mother Screng" as she re-applied her magical disguise.
Lady Ophelia's: The heroes entered and spoke with Lady Ophelia who gave them the pricing list. They asked her about her money problems, and she eventually revealed that two of her girls were causing her problems. A human employee called Jenelda was refusing most customers. A half-elf called Rania was under-charging customers.
Jurod was disgusted. He told Ophelia to get control of her business. Ophelia explained that she was once a lowly whore and was mis-treated. She refused to mistreat her employees, even if it meant hurting her business. The heroes continued to chat. Jurod had heard enough.
He went upstairs and visited with a shifter prostitute named Diamanta. Jurod, a changeling, transformed into a female shifter, paid her some money, and got down to business. Downstairs, the heroes and Ophelia could hear them making noises that sounded like Randy's cats whenever we'd play Savage Tide.
Heron, Fayte and Carric visited with Jenelda to try and figure out the problem. Jenelda claimed she was simply repulsed by most of the clients.
Jurod finished with Diamanta and headed past his allies and into Rania's room. Rania was reluctant to explain what was going on. Jurod ended up showing her what was in his pants (and what wasn't.. I rolled percentile to see her preferences... and rolled a 100!). Rania was blown away and the two immediately got down to business.
When they were done, she admitted she was simply stealing the money. Jurod didn't blame her.
Jurod headed downstairs and waited for Ceron, Carric and Fayte to finish interrogating the women. He looked out at the muddy, dank streets, and it reminded him of when he was younger...
Jolene was 7 years old, living in Dunnwyn, City of Thieves. She lived with her father, Jurod, in the Tenderloin district. Jolene's mother was a noblewoman who Jurod had tricked with his shapeshifting ability and seduced her. When she gave birth to Jolene, a changeling, she was horrified. She hung herself that same night. Jurod blamed Jolene for this.
Jurod was a petty thief. He had stolen a spell book. He couldn't make sense of it. He sat Jolene down in his apartment and had her study it. Then he told her to cast magic missile. She pointed her finger at a cracked mug across the room and chanted. Nothing happened. "No wonder your mother hung herself!", he snarled. "Try again!". He watched her intently with his silver eyes, which never changed, even when he took on different forms.
Jolene tried again, and was shocked as her fingertip began to glow... and then sparked out. Jurod slapped her and told her to try again. She cried but tried once more, to no effect. Jurod was furious, and told her she'd be sleeping in the alley next to the apartment building. He warned her not to come inside until the next morning.
Poor little Jolene crept into the alley and used a garbage pile as a blanket. She was awoken in the middle of the night by a homeless man peeing on her garbage pile. He stumbled back into the street, to her relief. But then she saw a fat spider crawling toward her. She flung some trash at it, but that just seemed to anger it. Suddenly, a bright brown weasel jumped on the spider and killed it. The weasel chirped and looked at Jolene, and then tossed the spider away.
Jolene began to pet the weasel, who cuddled up with her. Jolene and the weasel fell asleep. Jolene could swear she heard a woman moaning in Jurod's apartment.
The next day, Jolene came back inside. Jurod was excited. He had a new scam in mind. He explained that she was to try to join the sorcerers' guild, then get a look inside and look for things worth stealing. Jurod explained that only black wizards could join. White wizards and women were excluded. Jurod told Jolene not to change into a man, as "that's only something perverts do! Never, ever change genders!". Instead, Jolene was to say that while women were excluded - she was not a woman. She was a girl. Jurod was sure that the guild would appreciate her clever angle.
On the very fringe of the tenderloin district stood the guildhouse. It was 7 stories tall, seemingly carved out of a single featureless piece of black rock. At odd hours, strange lights and noises could be heard coming from the building. Occasionally smoke or fire could be seen on the roof.
Jurod watched her with his unchanging silver eyes from across the street. Jolene tried the door. It was open. Inside was a room with no doors. She was confused. Someone stepped into the doorway she had opened - Stravas, a bald, pock-marked member of the thieves guild. He looked over Jolene as he yelled to Jurod, "Jurod, you been stealing and you ain't a member of the guild! Maybe we'll take your fresh little girl here as payment! No other woman will have me, even if I pay! Little girl, can you turn into a drow?"
As he addressed Jolene, Jurod drew a short sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. He crossed the street with murder in his eyes. Stravas tried to snatch Jolene but she screamed and avoided his grasp. Jurod slashed Stravas in the back.
Jolene saw a pair of goons come up behind her father with knives drawn. She shouted a warning, and Jurod spun. He plunged his dagger into the goon's neck, killing him.
The other goon tried to snatch her, Jolene held out a finger, and cast magic missile. To her surprise, she cast the spell correctly. A bright blue beam shot into the goon's face, killing him.
Jurod turned angrily toward Stravas who began to beg "Please, Jurod, don't kill me!"
Jurod replied in Thieves' Cant, a language Jolene didn't understand. She saw Stravas' face light up in surprise. Then he shook hands with Jurod. Foxglove, the local blacksmith, walked up and patted Jurod on the back. He congratulated Jurod on his fine swordsmanship.
Jurod and Jolene returned home. Jurod said "I worked it out with Stravas! But you almost got me killed. I want you to go to The Silver Eel tavern and steal five gold rilks. Do not come back here until you have it!"
Jolene headed to The Silver Eel, but couldn't bring herself to steal. Instead she approached a man sitting at the bar. He was Nattick Nimblefingers, a big sweaty tailor. She told him she needed five gold. Nattick sadly explained that he didn't have five gold. She began to cry, telling him she couldn't go home until she had the five gold. Nattick told her maybe she could work at his shop and earn the gold...
Foxglove entered the bar. Not seeing Jolene, he announced, "I just saw Stravas heading back to Jurod's place! I think Jurod's finally going to die!". Jolene ran home in a panic. She ran up the steps to her apartment. She made her way inside. She heard sounds of a struggle coming from her father's bedroom. She opened the door.
Inside, she saw Stravas, naked, having sex with a large-breasted female drow. But the drow woman had a penis... and her father's silver eyes. The drow shifted back into the form of her father, who curled up into a ball and shrieked "Don't look at meee!".
Stravas, humiliated, snatched a dagger and approached Jolene, naked. She ran out of the apartment. She tried to slide down the stairs' banister as she had many times before, but slipped and fell. Stravas lumbered down the steps, holding the shiny blade in front of his hideous body. He raised the knife...
And then the weasel leapt over Jolene's prone body and bit into Stravas' penis, biting it clean off. He screamed and put his hands on the bloody mess. Jolene screamed. The weasel's eyes glowed, and led Jolene down the street. It brought her to the wizards' guildhouse.
There, a black wizard stood in the doorway. He said, "I see my familiar has taken a liking to you. A wizard of ours died recently - I believe you have his spellbook. Perhaps it is fate that you take his place." Hristolomo the black wizard led Jolene inside. She stayed at the guildhouse and was trained in the ways of magic. Jolene learned that her father had killed himself after she discovered him with Stravas. He hung himself, just as her mother had before him.
Carric, Fayte and Heron came down the stairs. Jurod snapped back to reality. The heroes tracked down Preston and told them that they weren't able to get his money, but they were able to give Ophelia advice.
Boatmen's Tavern: A large old warehouse that housed a general store and a small tavern in the back corner. The heroes headed toward the tavern, where a fellow named Grud Squinteye was telling a story about a huge gar he had seen. Three bargefolk near him didn't believe the story. Heron walked up and interjected himself into the conversation. Rania whispered to Jurod that Grud was beloved in Nulth, and that if the heroes could befriend Grud things might be easier for them in the village.
A bargefolk man didn't like it,and got into an argument with Heron. He picked up a stool and tried to hit the fighter with it. Heron yanked it from him and put it down. He then grabbed a mug and tried to smash it on Heron's face. Heron also snatched that away, and put it back on the bar. The man, flustered, walked out of the building in impotent rage. No information was gleaned.
Waterside Hostel: Despite being built on a foundation of field stone and with walls of sawn timber, even this was a scurvy place. Just a couple citizens were drinking here. The hostel area was upstairs. Dick Rentsch, a burly fellow with a scarred, pockmarked visage and an eyepatch watched the heroes enter, as Wat the waghalter tended bar. Two slovenly wenches served the customers.
Fayte approached Dick Rentsch and asked how much it would cost to stay at the hostel. Dick looked her up and down and said "I ain't seen a woman like you in here in quite a while." Dala, a slovenly wench and Dick Rentsch's lover, threw a dishrag at him.
Dick said to Fayte, "The name's Dick Rentsch, my lady. You can stay upstairs with all the other slobs, or you can visit my compartment later."
Dala sneered and said, "You fucker!"
Dick Rentsch ran down the menu and warned the heroes that every adventurer to step foot in Nulth died sooner rather than later.
"All of them?" asked Heron.
"All of them."
"Every last one?"
Dick sneered at Heron. "That's right, ya fuckin' city walker. You ain't in the city now boy, you're in the swamp!"
Heron said, "I come from a town with a lake, so I'm fine with that."
"Yeah.. you're... fuck you. You got gold or you gonna get the fuck out of here?"
Heron said, "I have silver, and everything on your menu costs silver. I'll have the fish."
"I'll spit in your fish!" Dick cackled. "What do you think of that, Dala?" He asked his lover. Dala was busy... she was staring a hole through Fayte Bonesunder.Wat was laughing uncontrollably. Dick Rentsch went to make the fish. Rania whispered to Jurod that Dick was renowned as a tough fighter. She added that Jurod made her feel special, and that she was still trembling.
Rentsch soon returned with Heron's meal. He said, "Here's yer fish, fuckface!"
Heron said cheerily, "Thanks asswipe!". Dick Rentsch laughed.
Fayte said, "You seem kind of stressed. You need a drink." Dick Rentsch agreed and sat with Fayte at the bar and they ordered drinks from Wat. Fayte wanted to slip the potion of friendship in his drink. Heron began telling a tale from his village, as he remembered something about tentacles coming from the lake... this provided a suitable distraction. Fayte poured the potion in and Dick drank it. Now he really liked Fayte.
He said to her, "I got a boner a mile long, lady, I'll tell ya right now..."
Fayte said, "We're looking for Chaotic Evil." Everyone in the bar got quiet.
Dick said to her quietly, "Be careful what you say! I wouldn't want a pretty little thing like you getting hurt."
She told him she wanted to go to the temple to "murder things".
Dick told her he'd pretend she didn't say that. He said he had a lot of pull, and that she should work for the earth temple. He explained that a priest named Romag ran the first level of the temple of the elemental evil - he whole level was devoted to the earth temple. He further explained that ghouls of Zev were also on that level, and they were not working well alongside the gnolls and agents of the earth temple. Dick said Dala could lead them there.
The adventurers geared up and got their cart. Dala climbed on, angrily glaring at Fayte. She directed them down a dirt road that led to the temple.
After a ride through he mist, the adventurers at long last arrived at the temple of elemental evil. Gary Gygax wrote more boxed text:
"The road leading from Nulth to the Temple is rutted and spotted with rank weeds - thistles, burrs, thorns, nettles, etc. Some foot and animal traffic has been using the track, but it is not a busy thoroughfare. (Most traffic between these points avoids using the road so as not to leave a discernible path)
As you approach the Temple area, the vegetation is disconcerting - dead trees with a skeletal appearance, scrub growth twisted and unnaturally colored, all unhealthy and sickly looking or exceptionally robust and disgusting. The ruins of the Temple's outer works appear as dark and overgrown mounds of gray rubble and blackish weeds. Skulls and bones of humans and humanoids gleam white here and there amidst the weeds. A grove of some oddly stunted and unhealthy-looking usk trees still grows along the northern end of the former Temple compound, and a stump of a tower juts up from the northeast corner of the shattered wall. The leprous gray Temple, however, stands intact, its' arched buttresses somehow obscene with their growth of climbing vegetation.
Everything surrounding the place is disgusting. The myriad leering faces and twisting, contorted forms writhing and posturing on every face of the Temple seem to jape at the obscenities they depict. The growth in the compound is rank and noisome. Thorns clutch, burrs stick, and crushed stems either emit foul stench or raise angry weals on exposed flesh. Worst of all, however, is the pervading fear which seems to hang over the whole area. - a smoldering, clinging, almost tangible cloud of vileness and horror. Sounds seem distorted, either muffled and shrill or unnaturally loud and grating.
Your eyes play tricks. You see darting movements out of the corner of your eye, just at the edge of vision; but when you shift your gaze towards such, of course, there is nothing there at all. You cannot help but wonder who or what made the maze of narrow paths through the weedy courtyard. What sort of thing would wander here and there around the ghastly edifice of Chaotic Evil without shrieking and gibbering and going completely mad? Yet the usual mundane sounds of your travel are accompanied only by the chorus of the winds, moaning through hundreds of Temple apertures built to sing like doomed souls given over to the tender mercies of demonkind, echoed by macabre croaks from the scattered flapping, hopping, leering ravens.
There is no doubt; you have come to a place of ineffable Chaotic Evil. Still, it is most certainly a place for high adventure and untold treasures. It is time to ready spells, draw weapons, check equipment, and set forth into the maze of peril that awaits you."
A broken stone wall surrounded the area. Inside were weeds 6 feet high, obscuring vision. The temple was in the middle of the area. A broken tower was connected to the north and east wall in the far corner. And a bunch of weird trees bearing blue fruit loomed over the foundation of a ruined building.
The heroes headed over to the trees and examined the fruit. Dala was dared to eat the pale blue uskfruit, and she did. There seemed to be no ill effects. Dala continuously flirted with Carric, to get revenge on Dick Rentsch. Carric seemed susceptible.
The foundation revealed a collapsed stairwell that led into darkness. Jurod sent his magic floating eye down there along with a light spell. Down below were barrels, containers, and scurrying rats who fled the light.
Heron squeezed through and wielded his rod of lordly might. He shifted it into the form of a flaming sword. The rats converged on him, and bit him as he swiped at them with the sword. He cut one in half, and they fled into holes in the walls. Heron had been bit a few times and contracted filth fever. Fayte squeezed through and helped Heron explore. The barrels were full of wine that smelled funny.
There were 68 stoneware containers that also held wine. And there was a keg of brandy. Fayte and Heron carefully got the keg and one stoneware container up to their friends. Vellic determined that the brandy was worth about 400 gold!
Dala then brought the heroes to the temple in the center of the area. There was a massive central door, and two side doors. the main door was huge and made of bronze. It had many sigils carved into it. Jurod approached, and the sigils glowed. He suddenly felt repelled from the thing and could never look at or approach it again!
There were two side doors. Dala picked the lock of one, and led the heroes inside.
The interior was vast and dusty. They came near a sacrificial altar stained with old blood. She took them to an eastern door which led to a vestry with a stairwell. A few tattered green robes were strewn about. Dala took them down the stairs and into dungeon level one.
They followed a hallway. Dala brought them to a corridor that, she warned, was guarded by a mounted crossbow that fired four bolts at once! She called out that she was looking for Romag. A door opened, and the heroes stepped inside. 7 gnolls and a bugbear glowered at them.
One went to fetch Romag. A minute later, a wall began to ripple, and Romag stepped right through the stone wall! He was a human with receding hair, a ponytail, and a thick brown-grey moustache. His chest was bare, and had numerous red gems fused to it. His legs were covered in robes adorned with gem-encrusted triangles and diamonds.
Romag talked with the heroes about joining the earth temple. He decided to try them out. He asked them to head to a kitchen in the dungeon, where a viper had been causing trouble. The adventurers did so, and found a skeleton of an ogre there. The viper lurked in the fireplace, and snapped at the heroes as they came close. Its' deadly venom could kill in a single bite!
The heroes made quick work of it. Fayte cut off its' head. They brought it back to Romag, who was impressed. He gave them another mission. An agent of Zev, an imp called Murkwallow of Despair, led a contingent of ghouls that were allied with the earth temple. Romag said that the ghouls were more trouble than they were worth, and that Murkwallow was a weak and untrustworthy leader. He asked the heroes to kill them all.
The adventurers made their way to the area. they readied in the hallway, and opened the door. Murkwallow was inside with two ghasts. Murkwallow panicked and called out for aid. Ghouls, over a dozen, sprung from connecting rooms and attacked!
A ghast created a cloud in the heroes' midst whose vapors were poison. The other ghast shot a beam at Heron, immobilizing him. Ghouls came around from the south end of the hallway. The team split up. Fayte and Heron dealt with the ghasts in the room, while the others handled Murkwallow and his ghouls in the other end of the hallway.
Fayte tore into a ghast as Heron was struck again and again. Heron fell to the ground, dying. Fayte healed him as ghouls poured in to aid the ghasts. Fayte and Heron tore through them as the ghasts backed away and pelted them with beams of necrotic energy.
In the hallway, Carric fired off spirit arrows that were killing handfuls of ghouls at a time. Carric then focused his fire on Murkwallow, as Harmony Helltiger made her way past the ghouls and slashed at the imp, bloodying him. Mardix and Rania finished off the ghouls and joined her, and Murkwallow found himself reeling from devastating blows. Carric drew a flickering arrow, took aim, and killed Murkwallow.
Meanwhile, the ghasts continued to battle Fayte and Heron. Fayte ducked a claw swipe and advanced. Vellic charged into the room and struck a ghast, destroying it. Fayte cut down the other.
The heroes found a pile of treasure in the inter-connected chambers... over 10,000 gold! They rejoiced and filled their packs with loot.
They returned to Romag, who was very impressed. He handed them a pile of magic items. He saw that they needed rest, and asked them if they wanted to sleep in the temple. The heroes thought it better to return to Nulth....