The dawn broke, and with it came rain. After a simple breakfast, safely ensconced within their salt circle, the Red Branch applied themselves to the task of entering the ancient Solarian abbey in search of their quarry, That Which Slept.
Their first obstacle was a horrific sight to behold. The entrance to the abbey was defended; four shambling, rotting corpses wandered the valley in front of the entrance. Worse, though Ishlin’s arrow flew true, it seemed to have no appreciable effect. As one, the four horrid creatures turned and engaged.
After much gore and pus and splatter, the party stood victorious. But as they descended into the valley, a pall fell over them. Something in the air felt off; there was a wrongness, a chill, that penetrated them deeply.
Upon entering the ruined abbey, they encountered more of the walking corpses, this time accompanied by skeletons. One of the corpses charged ahead of the others, brutally engaging and injuring Ishlin before Brennis tore it apart with his bare hands (spraying ichor and gore all over the party). The other creatures engaged more slowly but no less recklessly, and in relatively short order the party was able to discern the appropriate tactics to use against the beasts.
The abbey’s entrance was a long, ruined hallway with a weak floor, sloping down. Ishlin led them safely around the weakest spots, and they descended a stairwell and entered the sanctuary of the temple at the heart of the abbey. The spacious, cavernous room was absolutely black, so Kyton cast light on an arrow and Ishlin fired it towards the nave.
What they saw disheartened them. Another mob of the rotting, shambling corpses waited by the dais, this time accompanied by a new monster: a big-toothed, purple-skinned wiry hairless humanoid. Heedless of the danger, Gene charged in; the new purple creature met his charge and bit into him, causing his muscles to lock up, rendering him helpless.
The rest of the party ran to the rescue before the purple monster could finish Gene off. Kyton summoned the power of nature; drawing on the fury of the storm high above, he blasted the purple monster with a powerful bolt of lightning that shattered it, likewise blowing a large hole in the roof overhead and letting the wan light of day shine down. With the new terror destroyed, the party made short work of the remaining corpses.
Taking a moment to rest, they searched the nave, finding nothing but rubble and the old Solarian altar. Leaving this behind for a moment, they arbitrarily decided to explore the sinstward wing, leaving the dextward for later.
The sinstward wing presented a dead end with a collapsed roof and a series of doors: a locked pair of heavy stone doors, and two individual wooden doors, once gilded, whitewashed and ornate, now showing the wear of hundreds of years of damp and murk.
The party decided to try the stone doors first. Ishlin got to picking; the rest waited and watched. Finally, after an extended effort, Ishlin managed to disengage the lock. They opened the heavy door … only to find a mummy, somehow come back to life, waiting for them. Simultaneously, another of the purple-skinned monsters, accompanied by a coterie of walking corpses and skeletons, emerged from the dextward wing and charged.
The mummy proved to be fiendishly strong and tough, delivering a mighty blow to Ishlin that brought him to his knees. However, quick thinking on his part demonstrated that the creature was vulnerable to fire. Kyton drew his flaming sword and struck viciously, driving the dessicated corpse back as the purple horror paralyzed Brennis and began to chew on him.
The party re-focused their efforts, and quickly brought the host of walking dead to the ground. Just as they were about to regroup, however, the mummy, which had retreated into the catacombs, returned … with another mummy! In desperation, Brennis called upon the ancient knowledge of his order and wrapped his fist in a sheath of flame, allowing him to strike the mummy for massive damage. In a single blow, he brought down both of the creatures. Unfortunately, Kyton had been not only wounded, but afflicted with some manner of unholy blight. His skin greyed and he began to shrivel, dessicating within like the mummies had been.
The immediate danger past, the group decided to take a rest, and then, rather than risking the catacombs, turned their attention to the other doors. Before this, Brennis created a salt circle to guard the stairs. Taking great care, they opened one door to find what looked like private chambers: a latrine, a dressing room, a closet, and finally a bed-chamber, with a long-dead skeleton under the blankets of the bed.
The party was about to leave well enough alone, but caught the scent of magic from the ancient body. When they tried to investigate, however, a new horror presented itself: a wispy, insubstantial hand shot up from the bed and drained some life-force out of Ishlin!
Ioan opted to use mage hand to lift the blankets and loot the body, but this only angered the shadowy, dark creature, which rushed to attack. Brennis, thinking quickly, dodged its ghostly swipe, and doused the remains in holy water, causing the creature to boil away. This allowed them the time to make a more thorough search of the body. On it, they discovered a magical periapt, an enchanted holy symbol, and a small silver key.
Next, they decided to take a moment and re-light the fire on the dais. For the first time in hundreds of years, the light shone from the Dais of Samael. As the fire burned, they felt the oppressive pall in their bones and souls lift away.
Heartened, they returned to the one remaining door, discovering that it led to the belfry. A small ledge ten feet up gave them reason to investigate further, and there, they found a bas-relief carved into the wall. A careful examination of the sculpture revealed a small keyhole, which the key fit perfectly, causing a section of the relief to pop out like a door.
Darkness greeted them on the far side, darkness pierced only by two glowing red eyes. When the eyes caught sight of Ishlin, who had taken the holy symbol and placed it about his neck, however, they turned green. The stone guardian recognized Ishlin as its controller and accepted his commands.
They had discovered the reliquary, and within it, the treasures of the abbey. These treasures consisted of a fine ivory bow, an ornate, alabaster harp, a small hand-sized Raptoran statuette, and a fine kama, which shrieked aloud when Ioan tried to pick it up. The kama, it turned out, had a mind
- and voice - of its own, and it showed no fear of expressing itself at great length. It introduced itself as Simon’s Claw, and begged to be brought along to face That Which Slept, which, it said, was no longer in the abbey.
Gathering up the treasures of the reliquary, the party returned to the sanctuary, leaving instructions for the guardian to continue guarding the now-empty room. With two paths remaining to them, those being a door at the far end of the sanctuary and the dextward wing, they opted to explore the wing.
Care and caution served them well, as they checked room after room as the day wore on. Mostly, the found nothing: ruined furniture, decayed cloth, simple implements long-since rusted and useless. They did happen across the abbey’s sacristy, where the non-magical wealth was contained, and they looted it, finding a bracelet, a flask, a scarab and a portion of a stained-glass window, presumably representing Samael. Simon’s Claw warned them about a big bad evil near a pair of double doors, so they steered clear, instead wandering into the dining hall, where they encountered another of the purple monsters and a host of walking dead.
Ishlin took the initiative. Using the ivory bow from the reliquary, he nocked an arrow and loosed it at the purple horror. The result was spectacular: gold-white light erupted from the wound and the monster’s mouth and eyes, and it burned away from the inside, exploding backwards in a puff of ash.
With their new weapons, the party was able to handle the remaining pack of abominations with little difficulty. Ishlin’s new bow dramatically increased his effectiveness against the creatures, and Simon’s Claw enthusiastically brought itself against the terrors two by two.
The day had worn on, and the party had suffered fairly serious injuries over the course of their many battles of the day. Their supplies of salt running low, they decided to make camp on the dais, near the warming Flame of Samael, which mysteriously still burned, even though they had only furnished enough oil to last an hour …
In-between activities: Go through the potions and find out what’s good.
I split the RP bonus among everyone; I couldn’t pick a winner this week. IMPORTANT: Even if you have enough XP, you don’t actually level up until you’ve recovered all health, ability damage and taken a full night’s rest in a safe location (i.e. town).Loot:
- Thorn of the White: +3 holy burst longbow
- Simon’s Claw: +1 intelligent kama
- harp of dreams
- Raptoran statue
- lesser ring of the chameleon
- mage armor
- spider climb
- bless weapon
- cure moderate wounds
- eagle’s splendor
- lead crystal flask with gold and silver filigree: 700g
- portion of a stained-glass window depicting most of Samael: 300g
- golden bracelet with emerald inlay: 750g
- platinum scarab with ivory inlay and ruby eyes: 2000g