After our run-in with the two member’s of the Dark Lord’s “Monster Squad”, we take a moment to rest and then set about exploring the area. Much of the temple had collapsed but we did find the long abandoned temple stable behind one door and the remnants of a barracks behind another. With nothing of significance nor a way to delve further into the temple complex in either of these areas, we turned our attention to the door where the beast known as “Frank” was attempting to bash his way into the temple.
Examining the door we find that someone had inscribed it with a red symbol – the symbol of Orcus cultists. “Great” I think to myself. “That’s all we need is to throw Orcus into the mess that is plaguing Calidor”. Not to be deterred, Ana and myself throw ourselves at the task of forcing the door open. It took a considerable effort, but we were able to succeed where “Frank” had failed. Beyond the newly unsealed door we come across several rooms that once served the residents of this place. A kitchen, officer quarters and even a privy were all found just inside the tower but nothing of real value was found as none of these areas had seen use in a great many years.
Again finding ourselves with but one option, we round the corner of the corridor and take a stairwell descending into the bowels of the temple ruins. We proceeded with are usual amount of caution, though several of us felt an unusual level of disquiet as we made our way deeper into the earth. Serge and Wandra both commented that it almost felt like we had crossed into an extra dimensional space. Be that as it may, we had no choice but to push deeper into the temple.
Pressing on, we eventually find ourselves at the bottom of the stairs with a door blocking further progress. However, upon this door was another symbol – this one being the mark of The Order of Research. With no lock or even handles it would seem the symbol was going to be our means to open this portal. Fortunately for us, Serge had recovered a symbol of the order in a previous adventure and when he came forward and presented it to the door, it opened and granted us entrance.
Beyond the door we find a small round chamber with a large, black glass-steel reptile dominating the center of it. As it did not move at our approach, we examined it closer and saw that it stood upon a platform that bore a plaque declaring this beast as the guardian of the order. “Well, whatever befell the order, this guardian was unable to ward against it” I though to myself as we worked our way to the far end of the room. We readied ourselves for anything as we opened the door.
The door opened into what can only be described as a mammoth concourse – some 20’ wide and at least 100’ long! The ceiling at our end of the hall started roughly 30’ above us but the ceiling got higher the further down you went. Balconies lined the way with the first ones near us about 20’ up, but as the ceiling rose, so did they. As we walked down the corridor, shadowy figures would appear on the balconies behind us. They did not make any threatening gestures, they merely watched as we made our way deeper into the temple.
As we got to the end of the hallway, it opened into a huge 60’ diameter room. The ceiling was near 60’ high and there was a ledge running along the top of the room maybe 50’ up from where we stood. Upon this ledge, two winged demons stood staring down on us wondering why we were intruding upon their domain. When we asked what had happened to the order, they claimed that they were weak and had swept them aside to claim the temple as their own. Of course we were not about to have any of this and drew our weapons to fight them.
The demons flew down from their perch to engage us while the shadowy figures drew bows and started raining arrows down upon our heads. I called for Chauncy to break out the assault carpet as I feared that we would need our own airborne capabilities with two winged adversaries to deal with. To add to the havoc, two other bug-like demons began to shoot lightning down the hallway at us. Ana and I battled with the demons while Zakiti, Serge, Taresha and Wandra tried to take out the archers above. Before long though, yet another threat emerged as smaller demons started appearing off to our right upon the ledge and rushed down a stairwell to join in the battle.
With all this going on, things had not yet gotten truly desperate until the larger demon grabbed Ana, flew up to the ceiling and then dropped her. She fell to the ground with a sickening thud and we all knew that she was dead. I jumped on the flying carpet to fly up and engage the demon so as to avenge her death but as I closed to make my first attack, Ana had sprung up off the floor as if nothing had happened. I think this sight distracted me as I must have let my guard down and the demon hammered me with its weapon. I felt a great burst of pain and then everything went black.
I awoke a short time later hovering near the ground, still upon the flying carpet. Ana had fought her way upstairs by the sounds of it and poor Wandra lay dead against one wall of the room, and her head by another. While I was out, the party had fought well though and while we paid dearly in blood, the fight was turning in our favor. Mustering my strength, I leaped back into the fray and before long we had vanquished last of the demon spawn.
Serge suggested that we merge the segments of the Ashen Crown so that we could use its power to bring Wandra back from the dead. Of course we all agreed promptly and assembled the pieces together so Serge could complete the ritual to fuse them back together. With this done, Serge turned his attention to Wandra and invoked the power of the Ashen Crown to restore her to life. With Wandra back with us, we sat and contemplated our next move…