Ellistan and Karoton officially form an adventuring party, registering it with the Adventurer’s Guild: The Black Cross Company.
The Ruins of North Blackstone have been abandoned for some 480 years, after the secession of northern Firei into the Agathean Empire. After the cursed event, giants moved in ~300 years ago, raiding etc. until the armies of the Empire drove them out. In the last ~100 years, some amount of undead have arisen in that area. There is an outstanding reward for clearing the undead curse from the area; this is a combination of reward from the current lord’s grandfather plus from the Temple of D’Stas. Meanwhile, the Guild of Adventurers will pay the standard fee for information on the area.
We paid 15gp for a map of the surrounding area (city + environs).
We travel to the ruins, with a cold, clear, silver half moon rising in the east.
We head into the ruined city, aiming for the temple of D’stas. The temple is built kind of like a crypt, with columns running along outside, alcoves that once held statues but no longer. From the north side of the temple comes the faint screeching sound of some creature. We see a shadowy creature, with a silver spike embedded in the center of it, stuck to the archway 12’ above the ground. We put it out of its misery and the screeching ends. The large silver spike is blunted on one end, for hammering.
We enter the temple. There is the sound of wood on stone, echoing through the hallway, consistent but not loud, from something deeper past the left archway… A tall figure in ragged robes walking slowly towards us, with a carved wooden staff of black material in one hand, and a large sack in the other. The figure wears a veil across its face, its hands entirely wrapped and covering its skin. It ignores us and makes its way to the entry, where it dips its hand into the sack, drawing forth powdered silver to drop in a line across the entry. It continues through the right archway, continuing its circuit through the temple.
In the main area of the church, there is a bowl on the altar, with a faint radiant light coming from the water inside it. Some of the etchings here are more recent, done in the last decade or so, but have no significance to us. They remind Alexander of Inpalnir, but it’s not readable. The water is blessed, but there is no power behind the blessing. Like a magic wand that has no charges left [editor’s note: it’s the LaCroix of holy water!]. The altar itself blesses any water left in the basin overnight. Between Karoton’s religion, Alexander’s arcana, and a week of work plus 500 gp, we can restore this altar to its original purpose. Karoton removed the non-magic water, and filled it with 3 vials worth of actual holy water (just in case the guardian of D’stas can use it, maybe).
By the front altar, there are two routes, but blocked by two heavy, massive stone slabs, roughly 800~900 lbs each. But as Ellistan makes a move to it, the robed figure doesn’t want it moved. The guardian moves back to the front where it grabs a shadowy undead that was caught by the silver line. It floats up to the archway, it draws forth more powdered silver which gathers into a silver spike which it uses to hammer through the undead. As near as we can figure, it’s like an alarm, and the screeching warns the other undead away.
We attempt to stay the night. Tia has a dream, where the veiled creature appears and whispers, “You can hear me. It’s not safe here.” She wakes up (taking psychic damage) to find the guardian standing over her, but the message finally got through.
So we head off to the Temple of M’neara. This temple is partially collapsed. Even in its original state, it had an open construction; if this temple had any private rooms, they’re somewhere underground.
There is a pile of bodies at one end, where the columns have collapsed the “entryway”. 15’ beyond that is a staircase going down. There are corpses, not skeletons, but not in good condition. About half the bodies are goblin sized. But none of the bodies are complete. Some have chunks missing: a limb here, torso there. But there are no heads at all. At a guess, these have been dead for weeks.
A faint rattling sound comes from the west. After some 20’, a staircase descends leading down, where the ceiling is rather low after the collapse of the ceiling. There are marks like clawed and/or bloodied footprints up and down the staircase. The tunnel goes to a low hallway. There is a hideous stench everywhere. The hallway runs ~30’ long, with three rooms on each side. There is rubble everywhere, but most of it has been pushed to the end of the hallway, effectively blocking it. There are no doors, but rather ragged hanging drapes: stained, ichorous and disgusting. We are fairly certain this place is no longer blessed by M’neara.
First door on right: in one corner sits a pile of skulls, all stripped of flesh. In another corner, a pile of rags and flesh, like some kind of crude nest.
First door on left: the floor is covered in crushed and crunched bones (mostly skulls).
Second door on right: there are niches carved into the wall, set with skulls in them, organized by size and race, perfectly cleaned. On the ground, there are carved circles that appear ritualistic in nature. There are dead candle stubs all around, emulating a ritual circle. Theoretically, a warlock could be able to summon their patron with this.
Second door on left: in one corner sits a pile of skulls.
Third door on right: there is faint, shallow breathing from this room. The hideous, rotting stench is incredibly thick. On the back wall, a person, stripped bare chested, is chained and trapped. His head is rolled back, with eyes lidded and unconscious. He has been starved to the point where we can see his ribs easily. He is marked with a series of crude tattoos, the same style that we’ve seen on various limbs and parts of bodies in this ruin. The manacles are old, but very high quality. Ellistan removes the stones directly from the wall to free him.
Third door on left: multiple piles of skulls, but not fully cleaned as in the other rooms.
We set up back in the first door on left, with prestidigitation handling moving the skulls around to clear enough space to camp. The freed prisoner is paralyzed, but alive. We set up watches: Isaac & Alexander, Karoton & Roland (as played by Sam), and Ellistan & Tia.
On third watch, eight ghoul type enemies return to the temple. We are able to destroy all of them. Among them were two ghasts, one of whom had the symbol of Ananix carved into its chest. The ghouls had brought back three bodies with them, likely bandits judging from their tattoos. However, all of them were corpses, not just paralyzed.
After prestidigitating some of this new stench away, we completed the night at the temple of love.