Conquering the Barbarian Altanis: Session 73
|Elf level 2
|A dangerous looking elf.
|Tarkus the Promising
|Cleric level 1
|Follower of Bachontoi, God of Red Wisdom.
|Thief level 2
|Elf level 1
Coldrain 2nd, Waterday
“The warlord has banned me from leaving Ahyf. He believes I am too valuable to perish sanctifying a long forgotten temple.” Camus, Ahyf's chief priest, shared with Tarkus and Rashomon.
“I promised Hist that I would see this through. If you are still up to it then we have to figure out a way to leave Ahyf unnoticed.”
“Your dedication is commendable. Here is the plan...”
Tarkus the Promising was set on finishing what he had started, even if it'd cost him his life. Most of the brave men he had ventured to the desecrated temple with had perished already. And of those that survived only Rashomon was still around. The duo recruited two capable looking individuals: Rigby the Thief and Orist the Elf.
Winter was gnawing on Barbarian Altanis. Long sleeves became a common sight. Days were shorter and nights were blacker. The latter played perfectly into the adventurers' plan: sneak out of Ahyf few hours before sunrise.
Coldrain 4th, Fireday
The party reached the base of desecrated temple around noon. It was eerily quiet. Not an animal in sight. Air was stale and motionless, as if time itself had stopped. Ghinarian Hills were hardly the highest in the region, but being near the summit one would still expect some wind.
The idol was as they left it last time: toppled and crumbled over the long stairs.
“Let's check the outbuildings first. We don't want anyone to surprise us!”
Both stone buildings were as they left them several weeks ago. Algon's mangled corpse was still splattered at the foot of cliff atop which the temple rests. Poor thief had slipped whilst trying to escape black reptilian monster and fell down to his doom.
“Weird. No sign of decay?”
Indeed, there were no maggots nor flies. Just a messed up corpse. The party carefully inspected the body, relieved it of all valuables, and then built a simple cairn. Tarkus said a few words to guide them into afterlife.
Both Rigby and Orist had noticed how unnaturally devoid of life this place is. No birds, no game, no sounds. Nothing.
“All is safe. Let's head into the temple.”
Barely suppressing their gags at the sight of two acid-melted acolytes, the party moved onwards to the temple doors.
This is where things were noticeably different. All the walls on the outside were marred with claw marks as well as small, irregularly shaped pits. As if something had been melting the stone.
Forcing their way in only unleashed a strong ammonia-like smell, making everyone cough and heave. In they went.
Insides were even worse than outsides. All the walls and the floor were clawed and eroded.
“OK...” Rashomon muttered, puzzingly.
The closer they got to the centre of the temple, the stronger did the smell get. It was in the center where they destroyed nightmare-inducing bull-god effigy. It was in the center where Camus and Tarkus tried to close the Sinkhole of Chaos before they were chased out by slithering monstrosity.
And it was the center where they had now found a pit so deep not even dangling torch could reveal the bottom.
“Camus, what is the meaning of this?”
“I... I don't know. I do not feel strong presence of Chaos like last time. I don't understand...”
“Will you complete the ritual?”
Orist did double duty as guard and torchbearer to Camus and Tarkus. Rashomon and Rigby made few rounds through the temple. Besides signs of destruction they also found a palm-sized, black, glistening scale. The thief also found a secret compartment containing three vials, two with clear liquid, and one with chunky, brown liquid.
Noxious puffs and fumes emanating from the pit disturbed the ritual several times. Camus did wrap some clothing around his face, but alas, it did not help him too much. But that did not prevent the Ahyf elder to do what he had promised.
“Done. It is done.”
“Let's get out.”
The whole ceremony took so long it was pitch black outside. Unwilling to risk their torchlights spotted, the party waited until Rashomon's and Orist's eye acclimated to darkness. Then they headed to north-west stone house, the same one they hunkered down in on their last expedition to the temple.
With the doors and windows barred, the party briefly chatted before going to sleep.
“So, priest, what do you think of all this?”
“It's difficult to say. The ceremony is completed. I do not sense presence of Chaos. But that hole fills me with unease. If it were up to me, I'd demolish the whole place. Just bring down the temple so the rubble closes the hole and whatever might lurk at the bottom.”
“How could we do that?”
“Well, there are no siege weapons in Ahyf. There might be few in Hara, but I doubt they'd take them out all the way to here just to bring down some abandoned temple.”
“And this scale? Does it look familiar?”
“I don't know... You could probably ask around in Hara... Mavis, the High Priestess of Poseidon is known to have bested Chaos on many occasions. Maybe you could talk to her?”
“And these vials?”
“Well, the clear ones look like holy water. Shang-Ta seal confirms it. I'd be surprised if it were anything else. The brown one I have no idea.”
Coldrain 7th, Waterday
“Boys, you were good, but I don't want you to get into trouble. I should walk into Ahyf alone.”
“Nonsense! Nobody has seen Rigby and Orist with you before, they surely won't suspect anything! You three go first, and the Rashomon and I will come few hours later. No one had seen us leave together, why should they be suspicious?”
Indeed, the return plan worked well.
Guards were delighted to see Camus return. Briaron, Ahyf's warlord, was too busy with recent sighting of Skandink longships to go after Camus.
Adventurers bid farewell to Camus and fetched a barge to Hara.
Coldrain 8th, Earthday
Rashomon visited both Fighters' and Wizards' Guilds to pay his dues and learn latest rumours. Tarkus found new thing to focus on: Red Dragon. He learned from newly met friends Nolmbork and others about this dangerous drug wreaking havoc on the streets of Hara.
So he went to the natural place to ask about it—the citadel. He made friends with guards and as Cleric of Law was warmly welcomed. That is until he started repeatedly asking about this Red Dragon.
“What is that? There are no drugs in Hara.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. There are no drugs in Hara.”
Guards forgave Tarkus despite being a stranger.
Rigby visited the Thieves' Guild to learn the terms. They were not favourable.
Orist spent days at the Dancing Wolf, hoping to pick up on any interesting rumours. He did witness a young man burping loudly. People around him would quickly leave and complain about burning stench coming from the man.
The elf followed the man to some house which turned out to be a scribe shop. He went in through the main doors, running into an elderly man sitting behind a pile of scrolls and books. With a little bit of charm and gentle prodding, he learned that burper is the scribe's son whom had fallen in with some bad company from northern Hara.
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