Our heroes have fully recovered from their assault on the ogre’s lair and leave the village of Ravensmound and head south towards the supposed Temple of Aboath. They have two fresh new henchmen in tow, and Valmar the mage has recovered from his bout of mushroom poisoning (his player could show up). Ghul the cleric is still cursed. The PCs make a quick stop at the ogre’s lair to resupply Kipper the gnome (who they insist on calling “Kibble.”) After a night’s rest, they head south towards the Temple.
Making their way through the forest, the ground has been disturbed and tossed up, as thought by a massive earthquake. Many trees are toppled or bent, and large boulders and rocks jut up from the soil. Coming over a rise, our heroes come upon a small group of bandits gloating over their latest kill. A couple of unfortunate woodsmen traders lie dead at their feet as the bandits root through their goods.
The heroes get the drop on the bandits, and Valmar’s sleep spell takes out all of the bandits except for their leader. The rest of the party dog-piles on the bandit chief, and the results are quick and bloody. The victorious party dispatches all of the sleeping bandits but one, who they decide to question.
Apparently the bandits are working with a tribe of goblins, somewhere to the south. The bandits pay a percentage of their loot to the beastmen for the privilege of prowling the area. That seems like unusual activity for goblins. The bandits have also encountered the Temple, but are terrified of it. “Strange, pale non-humans live there. They eat people!”
The party offers the bandit mercy in exchange for accompanying them to the Temple. The bandit scoffs and says “I’d sooner die than go back to that accursed place!” The heroes are quick to oblige him.
Continuing on, our heroes finally discover the Temple of Aboath. The area around the temple is turned up and twisted. Strange, twisted, jagged spires of rock jut out of the ground and glow with an eerie black-light radiance. The entire side of a large hill seems to have sheared off, and the temple is built into the rocky side. The structure is made of a greenish marble veined with purple, with short towers on each side. Two massive iron doors rest beneath a serpentine arch. The left door stands half-way open.
Before the heroes can approach, they are attacked! Lanky, chalk-white humanoids with bone-yellow hair red eyes, and shattered teeth run howling and shrieking out of the shadows. Their skin is covered with spiral patterns painted with blood and soot. They throw bone spears and swing stone clubs.
Ghul tries to use his Command Undead powers upon the creatures, assuming they are undead. He discovers that they are quite alive. Blows are traded on both sides, and Destiny’s henchman Damien goes down to a spear thrust. Eventually the party is victorious and damage is assessed.
Damien is alive, but will be comatose for some time. They set up a tent for him outside of the temple and leave him to the care of his brother. Ghul examines the bodies of their assailants and notices that the patterns of their warpaint resembles symbolism from ancient sects of the Lemurian gods.
Destiny sends her cat familiar, Stardust, through the door to investigate before the party enters. The cat returns reporting a lot of dead bodies, a large statue in a fountain, and a giant maggot!
The party cautiously passes through the iron doors of the temple and into the main chamber of the temple, using the blue illumination of the Continual Light crystals they found in the shrine to Celeste. A massive (20 feet across and high) bronze statue of an open-mouthed frog sits in the center of a pool of brackish water. The glint of jewels and treasure can be seen in the water. Ghul recognizes this as an image of Gaarouuk the Frog God, a lesser deity of ancient Lemuria.
Pale dead bodies litter the floor, with signs of physical and magical all around. Someone else was here, and recently! Behind the frog statue, a giant maggot-like creature chomps on a dead body.
The Carcass Scavenger seems more than content to eat the existing bodies rather than attack the party, and the heroes almost choose to let the beast be. Then they realize that if they have to leave the temple quickly, the monster might block their way out. Also, they have an unconscious henchman outside guarded only by another 0-level henchman. Prime targets for any monster. The beast must die.
Destiny starts the battle with a solid blow to the beast’s head, but doesn’t drop it. Fate is not with the part, though, and while they needle it a bit with weak attacks, the Scavenger’s eight tentacles paralyze almost the entire party within two rounds.
Only Valmar, the 1st level, wounded, spell-exhausted mage remains. He frantically backs away from the monster, throwing dart after dart at the beast. Eventually, the Scavenger collapses. The panicked mage drags the party to a corner of the room, sets up a circle of torches around them, and nervously waits for them to revive, holding his staff with a white-knuckled grip.
After an hour, the everyone is up and moving again. The women immediately run for the pool to grab some treasure. The men’s shouts of “Nooooo!” fall upon deaf ears.
Of course there’s a water weird in the pool. Why wouldn’t there be?
Dory gets drug underwater by the elemental and begins to drown. Destiny’s axe has little effect, but Claymor’s massive hammer seems to work fine. The party realizes that blunt weapons seem to be the key here, and they batter the weird into submission with crowbars and shield bashes.
Ghul drags the unconscious Dory from the water and administers CPR. Valmar and Destiny begin plucking gems and jewelry from the water while Claymor watches for trouble. Valmar grabs the last bit of treasure just as the water begins to bubble and stir once more. Claymor shouts a warning and everyone backs away from the pool and out of the weird’s reach. The pool settles back down, as if waiting. Our heroes move on.
In the next room, the party discovers a dark altar illuminated by glowing shards of obsidian that shed a weird purple light. On top of the altar sits a black-bladed kris with a bone handle. Everyone looks to Ghul.
Ghul plays it smart and uses his Prophecy power to commune with his god (Aboath) to see if the dagger is safe to touch. It. Is. Not.
While Ghul is communing, Destiny sends her cat into another room to scout it out. That room is empty save for some iron shackles on the wall and some ancient stains. Several of Destiny’s teammates point out that this is dangerous for the cat, and if her familiar dies she’ll suffer psychic backlash. Destiny is certain that Stardust’s stealth and trap finding skills will keep her safe.
Back at the altar, the heroes decide to leave the sinister kris alone when Destiny’s elfish sense detect a secret chamber under the altar. Using some teamwork, the heroes shove the altar aside, revealing a shallow cavity full of goodies. Of course, the kris falls of the altar and lands on top of the pile. Ghul panics.
Dory uses an axe to flip the kris out of the cavity and it lands with a clatter on the floor in the center of the room. It lies there, as if mocking and daring them. The heroes watch it for a few moments, expecting it to explode or something, before turning back to the cavity and retrieving the jewelry, coins, and potion it contained.
They move on yet again. Against the rest of the party’s advice, destiny sends her cat to scout ahead yet again. In the chamber room a stone well sits in the center of the otherwise empty room. I have Destiny make a surprise roll for her familiar. It fails.
A couch-sized blob of amber goo drops from the ceiling and lands right on the cat, engulfing it. Destiny can see her familiar, suspended in the jelly, looking at her pleadingly for three seconds before dissolving to bone then nothing. Luckily, Destiny makes her save and doesn’t take any damage, but now we have a fight.
Claymor’s mighty maul hits, but only splits the jelly into five smaller jellies. Not wanting to split the creature further, the heroes decide to use fire against the monster. Liberal application of oil and torches quickly dispatches the little jellies.
A quick peek down the well shows that it drops tot he next level of the dungeon, a level that looks carved out of living stone. They can see the slime trail where the jelly crawled out of the well. The party decide to come back to it later.
The next door is spiked shut from the other side. Someone must be here. It must be the party led by the Man in Yellow! The group that stole the dryad’s comb! Claymor batters down the door and the party charges up the ramp beyond to the top of what turns out to be one of the towers.
The Man in Yellow and his party are waiting for them, though (the PCs were not quiet). There are three people in the rival party. An axe-wielding dwarf, foaming at the mouth in rage and bloodlust, a female human archer, and a man in brown armor with a yellow surcoat bearing the symbol of the King in Yellow. The fight is on!
The yellow cleric casts Cause Fear and sends Claymor running. The Dwarf’s axe quickly cuts the fleeing fighter down. Ghul moves in to engage the rival cleric, while Dory jabs at the dwarf with Martha’s Spear. Destiny keeps the archer occupied while Valmar (who already cast his only spell way back at those bandits) swings his staff at anyone who comes near.
The dwarf and the archer go down fairly quick, but the cleric’s Sanctuary spell protects him while he tries to escape. Eventually, the spell is breached and the cleric falls after smacking Ghul with his flail a couple of times. Ghul takes his head, and they let the other villains bleed to death, rather than waste healing potions on them.
Ghul and Valmar attend to the unconscious Claymor. He’ll live, but will be out for a couple weeks, Now he’s also got a missing eye to compliment his missing teeth.
The others loot the bodies and search the room. There is no sign of the dryad’s comb, but the nymph’s had said there were four people in this party, and they’ve only got three here. It looks as though the NPC party had been camping in this room for some time. They only had about one day of rations left.
With a comatose fighter and henchman, our heroes decide to return to Ravensmound to recuperate once more before delving deeper into the dungeon.