A long time ago, Lofflin McKabe was defeated and his family blade taken. It turns out he had changed his name, and that the blade was one of the Blood Blades of Umbak – the Lofflin family of Falcon Reach.
In an attempt to try and heal some bad feelings between the 2 territories, the Gallants take a risk and travel into Umbak to return the blade. They make a few new contacts along the way and things generally go well for them. After Fort Pavec, they go 100 miles east to Falcon Reach. They hear of travelers abducted, but rumors and nothing more – the authorities do not seem to talk about it. Traveling to the Lofflin estate 2 days south, they are entertained by the family, which pushes them into examining the case of missing pilgrims going to the shrine of Aerna in their northern lands. The Gallants push for them supporting them in getting Bone Shaker returned. Hands are forced, political games are played and an agreement is struck. One of the younger ladies in waiting is smitten with Kye and divulges that another group was sent earlier and never returned. – this as they are leaving and no other info can be gained (Kye gets the sense she really like him though and would not lie – perhaps he will return later, convert her and return to Dunstrand a happy man).
They return to Falcon Point – the river crossing and way station for the road to the shrine and the healing waters of Aerna. There they pursue a lead Kye originally stumbled on earlier, and manage to capture an Everdark Cultist. Jaq dispatches him after determining no information will be gained. Their ultimate goal is a temple of Aerna abandoned after being sacked 8 times by Orrish night raids over hundreds of years – considered cursed now and well off the normal road (which used to run right by it), the Lofflin family identified it as the most likely place for a force to hide out.
They travel to the fallen Temple of Aerna of the Golden Hem. Using the captured cultists signals, they draw away an ambush party and assault the temple with surprise. A plan is hatched, with the older Gallants of Mary and Jaq guiding the newer ones on making military decisions and assaults.
There is not enough time to fully assess the situation if the groups wants to take advantage of the ambush party being distracted. they see the old road leads past it and there appear to be a stable and main front entrance. They are 6 hours overland trek in the dark from the main road and any chance of help – even from unarmed pilgrims… they decide to assault the temple.
The group attacks through the stable doors; Kye is stronger than he appears and he and Jaq break the board holding the door shut. The temple is purposely made to look burnt and collapsing, but their is evidence of recent repair – hard to tell in the dim moonlight, but Kye has seen this treatment before in tenements where gang hideouts are concealed. There are three guards. Arrows fly, knives whiz through the shadows, and a comedy of errors causes the warning horn not to be blown, Mary to be dazed by a pitchfork handle, and 2 cultists end up with their guts spilled while a third gets away. The cultists appear human, but all have a marking of a black stripe down the right side of their face. Taelin moves towards the door while Jaq helps Mary (who took three wounds in the fight) up and Kye and Harrad stamp out a small hay fire and re-bar the boor with a new board. Taelin has the breath taken from him as he looks down the hallway and his Soul Gem goes freezing cold for a brief moment – the wave makes the three stabled horses whicker and Jaq drop (she is not as used to the Soul Gem’s senses as Taelin is) as well. Evil, hateful evil, with a hunger for life is nearby!
the group is looking at the open door hearing the guards retreating footsteps in the hallway beyond.
In the stables, we prepared to move into the fallen temple. Taelin flashes the True Light of his soul gem down the corridor. He says the fleeing man turned left at the corridor end and kept going… but that he also saw a pale figure with black eyes peeking their head out from a door on the right – we all agree that was likely the “evil” presence Taelin was feeling. Undead. A shiver runs down our spines.
We could hear a commotion outside the doors we had barred. Tiny had come running in – he was nearly exhausted but recovered when he saw us. He had come from his position watching to roadside fake camp we had set up to say that it had been raided – he saw a group of about a dozen split up and some go north, others south on the road. He estimates we should have a few hours before they realize there is no one to catch.
We setup boards and horseshoes to warn us if someone come in through the stable doors. We then set up a standard entry for the room – Jaq is teaching the “youngsters” in a crash course of how to sweep and clear a room. Beyond the door is a dark room, in which a filthy pile of rags seems to sit. In the ensuing fight, it belches black, oily smoke, and spits acid – burning Harahd. Its obvious its nearly immune to the maces and bows, but with enough battering, it lays dead while we choke on the fumes. Tiny scrapes it from the flor – its held on with suckers under it. Only bones and a few melted coins lie under it. We try and get clear of the fumes, only to be charge by goblins – caught in the bend of the corridor on both sides. With the fumes filling the corridor, we fight – Jaq’s knee is cracked and she goes down. We almost loose the light, but once their charge is done, the goblins have little to offer in the way of opposition and are slaughtered.
Taelin realizes that the remnants of the rag pile monster can be used to make a smelling salt so powerful it could nearly bring the dead back. He concocts three from small kit he carries. Its enough to bring Jaq back to consciousness. She is walking with a bad limp again – but now we feel confident to go after the undead.
through the rag monster room and up some stairs, we pass alcoves with strange barrels in them. Through a room with a collapsed pit and spear traps in the walls – Aelwyn shows his cleverness by burning off the paper holes camouflaging the remaining spear traps after nearly being skewered by 1… the goddess provides. On the far side, we form up and go down stairs once again. At the bottom we confront the raging ghoul – veins bulging, its muscles groaning under their own weight the hideous beast tears into the group. In the cramped quarters neither Jaq’s broadsword or Tiny’s flail are useful – they have only small maces to use. It takes a beating of 5 men to take it down, but finally Aelwyn lands the killing blow. We find the concealed passage leading to a narrow passage which controls the spear traps in the room we came from. Dark twisting corridors lead to its lair – and Aelwyn finds a passage through and out the rubble to the roof – but falls and twists his ankle among the dangerous rubble. He also finds the spoils of its lair – bones and “shiny” objects – pouches and purses with goods looted from victims. At the end of a long rubble chocked corridor, a concealed door leads to an empty room, and a fake, plaster covered hole leads into the fallen temple proper – but it is nearly collapsed and Aelwyn gets the sense it is not safe – especially for someone as large as Tiny.
We go back – its been over an hour by now.
Little does the group know, but one of the alcoves has a false back. Jaq, in back and limping, is grabbed by a huge half-orc with surprise and some sort of shape shifter takes her place. fortunately, standing in the rag monster room not far ahead and stretching out his senses for lurking shadow, Harahd senses the darkness behind him – were the Jaq-monster has taken her place. Its a quick battle, with Harahd surprising everyone when attacking Jaq, but over fast. The thing is revealed for what it is, and its long fingers pierce the priest only once before it is made quick work of. The group recovers and back tracks, now easily finding the concealed door. There’s blood – probably from Jaq (a head wound?) to reveal the passage of her attackers. But not enough for the rest of the group to think her dead.
It leads to a water filled passage (only a half meter deep) which comes up in a landing with a long-ago bent portcullis. Aelwyn goes through and it attacked by a large half orc who body checks Aelwyn (who was through first). It almost breaks Tiny’s wrist, but the buckler he was using is let go and used to club Aelwyn. The snarling, crazed beast leaves and runs up the stairs before the rest of the group gets through. Tiny’s bloodlust kicks in and despair permeates the group as control is wrested from them. However, even tiny gives pause when he comes up in the middle of a mausoleum!
Taelin manages to track the beast’s wet footprints down the corridor where the only surviving globlin fled – just from the opposite direction. We estimate we went under the stables and came up far beyond. Fortunately the mausoleum is empty – sacked and looted, and no undead visitors – but it did clear Tiny’s head. The group passes one door and tracks the beast carrying Jaq to another. Not wanting to leave any enemies behind, they crash into the room beyond the door they passed first – but its a trap. Rubble resigns down. Harahd would have been crushed to death had Tiny not covered him with his own body – but Tiny is badly battered. The group mus stop and heal up – wasting valuable time.
They finally pick up the trail for Jaq again, but it leads to an empty room. After back tracking a bit, a concealed door is found – the rubble make it easy to conceal such. A wet passage leads all the way through the temple complex. A torch is seen flickering at the base of a narrow set of stairs going up. Aelwyn moves across the landing’s open area, but his sixth sense warns him. He manages to find a pair of sigils carved into the wall in the flickering light – Everdark’s wards. They think about other ways they may approach the rest of the fallen temple.
As they are coming back past the way they originally came in, Aelwyn hears the horsehoe alarm in the stables and the group prepares for another battle. Aelwyn camouflages himself under the goblin bodies already in the corridor. The others hide in the room where the rag monster was fight. At the bend in the corridor, a quick battle is fought with goblin skirmishers, and Tiny charges toward what all assume to be the commander. A priest of Everdark and a pair of half-orc killers guard him. The battle is brutal, and a pair of goblins nearly slips up behind the group but is ambushed by Aelwyn before the entire area goes dark. Taelin keeps it lit with True Light. The dark worshipers are caught off guard. Tiny is the one they focus on while the others slowly dispatch rest, and soon the corridor is quiet again. Blood and brains are everywhere – the group is covered in it. Drums are heard in the faint distance now. It is surmised some ceremony has started – perhaps a ritual to Everdark. They have to get to Jaq. The half ork killers blades turn out to be poisoned. Tiny is laid low by the foul concotion, and they find a place to hide him in the rubble until they can leave – or perhaps Tiny may be the only one living when they are done.
They return to the sigil protected area. Harahd tries faking being struck down, and it lures the half orc from above. The half orc killer is lured by the body of Harahd and a battle is quickly fought wherein the defender is ambushed by the others – lured in by the trap. Afterwards Harahd tries to go past the ward using the dedicated holy symbol but fails and is brought low. One of the smelling salts from the rag monster manages to wake him up at death’s door. They decide to go back and maybe try going through the rubble and surprise the other inhabitants through the way Aelwyn uncovered.
Harahd tries stepping off boldly, but is struck down by Everdark’s power. Using the 2 holy symbols they still have, they try crossing the threshold carrying Harahd’s body and the flash of energy brings them down. Aelwyn sacrifices his own essence to call upon Life Breath and restore Harahd.
Little is truly remembered about the events in the temple proper. The bats, which would have served as an alarm are already agitated by the drums. The lone guardian of the back door is dead, and the Gallants burst into the temple. Talein flashes his True Light heartstone and the priestess of Everdark, cutting into Jaq’s chest to extract her soul gem, is stunned. Three half orc killers slaughter ten captives for the favor of the god of darkness while Harahd leads the group in prayer in the hopes some miracle can be pulled to save the group. Merkaine answers – at great cost and much essence – but the group is restored and with Higher Purpose – the defilement of the dark’s followers and temple ensues. The fire of vengeance courses through Jaq, who swears to the goddess if her revenge is granted – and she breaks one of her arms free and tears at the throat of the priestess – she will be unable to use her powers with calling upon her conviction through the combat. Fire is called down everywhere, faces are burned, the half ork killers are blinded by Aelwyn’s dirty tricks. Jaq is finally brought into submission and her soul gem smashed by the preistess. Goblins join the priestess as wave after wave of power smashes the group. Its insanity, pure chaos. Taelin converts for the fires of vengeance and Harahd has his energies restored. Fire keeps crashing down – smoke fills the air. Finally Aelwyn makes for the priestess, and manages to keep her busy with hsi whip while the last goblin tries to pass a stone box to her. Taelin unleashes his fury, his heart burns red and he wildly slashes out, killing goblins. As Harahd and Taelin finally dispatch their last effective foes, the stone box is opened and a form comes forth. Taelin flashes he store of True Light, believing it some shadow demon. Worse than some minor demon is the troll that springs from the box – but it is cast into the True Light! Under the sun bane, it sizzles and is blasted to near oblivion. Just as its armor begins to harden and form over it, it turns to the group. Aelwyn is stabbing the priestess while Taelin and Farahd go after the troll and strike it down before it has a chance to fully form. It turns to ash before their eyes! The blind half orks are dispatches and drums silenced.
There is commotion in the open double doors as a bunch of goblins burst into the room. Their mistresses blood is running down the altar steps and a broken troll crumbles before their eyes while bodies of their comrades are strewn everywhere. Blood covered the ground and the players. Taelin collapses from his fury and stitching up Jaq’s chest, Harahd just growls. the goblins flee the way they have come.