The Temples of Vulkoor, The Diety of the Drow!
Heading off towards the temple in the furthest reaches of the forest, the party where dishearten by the previous day’s events … the actions of Lauren, the WayFinder adventurer who had been rescued by them some time ago, who stole their tablet artifact and disappeared through one of the arches with the scorpion warforge … people, who can u trust!
These deep jungles north of Stormreach were getting heavier with each mile now, and after a couple of days, the party came across another group of adventurers; lost, tired, disoriented and exhausted by their exploits … another paladin, a spritely witch (who would be a great asset to the group!) and a fighter. They’d lost their way through the jungle like so many, and lost most of their supplies in the process. After a brief introduction, and replenishing their strength on the available supplies, they were welcomed to join forces to investigate the temple.
A day, or so, later, as the party of six approached the temple to the west, they could see that it was in fact three temples, evenly spaced out with a large structure amongst two smaller ones. Glancing across them, the party decided to head towards the largest temple. As they approached, Castus ears pricked up as he heard the heavy roar of a beast unknown to him. He stopped and surveyed the land, whilst everyone else plodded along … “Must be too far off, nothing to worry about; I hope!”, he muttered under his breath.
Quickly darting ahead, he took point and soon made light of the heavy foliage in the jungle to reach the temples entrance. Examining the large doorway, once again, the signs of ancient giants were evident; from the size of the brickwork of the building to ancient writings across the temple walls, although there was strange elven written across the entrance as well? Later, the party would finally see what had become of these temples, and who now claimed them for their own!
As the entrance was clear to all, they all entered the building … there was plenty of signs that the temple was very much in use. Entering into the vast dark enclosure, torches where lit and lanterns shone across the dusty floors, to reveal a large monument in the middle, with two staircases ether side, one being blocked by a cave in. Approaching the structure, the party shone their lights across the large stone walls, looking above to see a gigantic scorpion statue, which had a flaming end to its tail instead of the usual poisonous sting? Various words could be deciphered by some of the party members … ref’s to Vulkoor, one of the Drow gods that few knew much about. To get a closer look at things, Norrin gave the witch a shunt up to examine the statue more closely.
As Norrin worked elsewhere within the chamber, finding a row a small chests that held various robes, which he later discovered gave some level of stealth to its wearer, the other paladin found a sacrificial furnace at the back of the monument, with some bones still “fresh” in the charred remains of the last pyre. Who they belonged to, no-one knew, and whilst distracted, the panicked sound of Boris the barbarian playing with a golden artifact gave everyone a jolt. Seen only to be rubbing his arm, they didn’t pay him much attention, but his bug-bite would come back to haunt him at a later stage.
Having noticed the golden artifact being kicked across the floor, Castus the ranger, with the pouch of holding, wrapped the item in a cloth in case he suffered the same fate … “Something for the WayFinder Foundation to examine when we get back to Stormreach.” As he tied the pouch shut, he noticed the witch acting strangely, as if under a trance. Somehow, the scorpion statue had a magical effect of those that viewed it too closely, and before they knew what was happening, the witch was casting spells at the party!
Being on top of the monument, no one could reach her, so Norrin gave the other paladin a shunt to subdue the witch, who was now under someone or things control. However, as he climbed up, the witch cast another spell that attracted all the spiders from every dark corner of the room, and before long he has being attacked and bitten to death, but he still managed to strike the witch, who fell off the moment. She did land on her feet, but was now surrounded, still trying to cast spells at all those she considered her enemy.
The skirmish was quickly over as Norrin smashed the butt of his mace on the back of the witches head, knocking her unconscious. Bound and gagged, to stop any further spells being uttered from her lips, the witch awoke a few minutes later, totally unaware of the past events she had caused. The trance had simply taken control of her for the time before being brought to her senses!
“There’s little here for us”, Norrin said, “… let’s make our way up the side stairs?” All agreed and began climbing the giant-sized steps. It was an awkward ascent, but they soon came to a room filled with oversized tables and chairs, all very clean and tidy? The tables had various eating cutlery placed about them, for normal sized humanoids, and as the party dispersed about the chamber looking for signs of life and treasures, a large group of Drow strung from the shadows and attacked!
Having surprised the party, they cast spells and hurled weapons at the party, injury a few of them, but as quickly as they had been surprised, many drew weapons and charged the Drow, with Castus firing his flaming bow to great effect. Boris went into his usual rage over nothing and fell over a spoon that was laying on the floor … his usual party trick! He did regain his feet quickly and hacked the nearest Drow to him, carving him almost in half, and with a vicious second slash, killed him outright. The rest of the party where also fighting furiously against the Drow, who, even with their spell casting and skill with blade, could see they were at the end of a good hiding! Many suffered death, whilst inflicting wounds on the party, and at the end, two escaped into the shadows.
Scarred and slightly burnt, the party rested a few minutes whilst Norrin healed those in need as he gave thanks to the Silver Flame once more. As he moved about the party, Castus found a switch mechanise on the main central table, along with special rings on many of the dead. Passing the rings about, they discovered that a magical shield protected them from small amounts of fire damage, ideal for this place! Castus triggered the switch, which split the heavy stone table in two, casting out a large blast of fire to all those within ten feet of it! Luckily, he had one of the rings on, and didn’t suffer any damage. Inside the small alcove below was a large chest, so both Boris and Castus pulled the chest away from the flames so they could examine its contents. Checking for traps and hexes, Castus opened the large chest to reveal the remains of an ancient giant. Finally, they had discovered the real treasure they had sought for many weeks now! All examined the giants remains, with their strange ruins and markings on them? They were obviously an important artefact to the Drow, and the writing’s the party had seen in many of their recent visits all pointed to the Elven language of the Drow. “We need to get away from here as quickly as possible?” Norrin whispered, “… we’re most likely being watched from the shadows and the escaped Drow will surely bring more of their comrades!?”
They all nodded around the large chest, which took Castus and Boris all their strength to drag along the floor and down the steps to the main chamber. As they reached the bottom, the fighter could see some of the Drow from their earlier skirmish, and shouted for everyone to take arms. However, as they drew their weapons, one the Drow cast a spell at the gigantic scorpion statue upon the large plinth, bringing it too life … another scorpion warforge, this time with a flaming tail! As it climbed down, the evil Drow wizard magically sealed the entrance to trap the party … they had to fight their way out!
Jumping down from the steps, with their weapons in hand, Castus noticed that something strange was going on with Boris … his earlier bite had come back to haunt him and he came under the same spell as the living scorpion! Grabbing his last cure all potion, he poured it down the barbarians’ throat as the others attacked the new danger. The witch moved to the side and cast a seeking spell on the monstrous scorpion, hoping to find some weak spot, whilst the others swung their blades at its living-stone exterior. Blade, mace and magic where all flung against the monster, which had a few tricks of its own … one being it’s fireball attack, which engulfed many. Luckily, the rings of fire protection absorbed much of the damage, but some of the party failed to dodge or hide from the full blast … this wasn’t going to be an easy fight!!!
As the witch stood to the side, a vision of flames in the underbelly of the scorpion showed its weak spot, which she shouted to Castus to strike at. Being light of foot, he quickly slid under the massive hulk and could see the opening, and thrusting his magical blade deep into it. The monster shuddered, but quickly shuffled to the side, cutting the elf ranger badly with its sharp legs. Castus wasn’t done yet, and rolling along the floor, he struck even harder at the opening, causing the life-force to instantly drain from the scorpion warforge, causing it to collapse on him. Luckily, and skilfully, he anticipated the beast collapsing on him, and rolled away as it fell, with a couple of scratches to his armour … Castus had slain the warforge with the help of the witches magical prowess!
As the last of the life drained from the scorpion carcass, the magical door to the temple disappeared. The party where free to escape with their prize. Dragging their treasure to the donkeys, they came across a scene of carnage … something large, wild and vicious had killed them all, and the fighters prized horse was also missing, with a blood trail off towards one other smaller temples. Quickly gathering whatever supplies they could salvage, the party made a makeshift cart to carry the heavy chest, which they all took turns to pull through the jungles heavy growth … back to Stormreach!
Wellllll, not so fast … once again, as the party set out into the jungle, did Castus hear the distant roar of something he had never encountered, but this time he knew it was closer. “There’s something nearby that doesn’t sound to friendly”, he spoke to the party, “… let’s move quickly and get home to Stormreach before we chance upon it!” All agreed and made quick-time through the heavy growth, helping to pull their treasure along. Sadly, the party had no luck at all, and within a few hours, a tyrannosaurus rex had picked up their scent and was soon hunting them. This time, knowing they could never defeat such a monstrous creature, they decided to use their magical cloaks to conceal their whereabouts and not engage the enemy. The problem? There wasn’t enough cloaks for everyone and the beast soon discovered the witch, or did she mean to attract its attention to her?
Calling on her otherworldly powers, communing with an unknown source, using her familiar as a conduit, she cast a spell which the dumb rex could not resist and collapsed in a heap. The witch had shown what a great asset she could be to any party. As the rex lay sleeping, Boris drew his large sword and plunged it deep into the beasts eye socket, killing it outright. With a massive sight of relief, the party took “souvenirs” off the dead carcass before finally heading south to Stormreach, finally!!!