The Temple of Elemental Evil
In Niole-dra, Exex was tasked by the Thieves’ Guild to spy on one of their “benefactors”, Madame Blavatsky – she runs a bath house in the southeast part of town. The Guild noticed that her contributions had been decreasing over the last year or so though there seemed to be no decrease in her clientele.
Exex was nearly caught, but managed to escape with the Madame’s ledger; inside were details suggesting that she was laundering money through several hands to provide monetary and armed support for someone in Nulb. The Guild decided that Exex should have the pleasure of following up on this lead and shut it down or report back to the them.
In the meantime, Darmok and Chees were informed by the Knights of the Law that Prince Thrommel had been kidnapped a couple months ago, and that there was little in the way of clues- even from supernatural sources. As provisional Knights they were asked to be aware of an “evil temple deep in the woods" where the Prince supposedly is. This could of course be almost anywhere, and even remembering their encounter with Rollon Ferndis (who was on his way to explore one in the Gnarley Forest) didn’t seem to ring a bell. All well and good though, for they decided to accompany their unlikely companions to Nulb anyway.
In Nulb the party’s first stop was the Waterside Hostel, run by Skole, and then to Otis the blacksmith. When the party asked about an abandoned temple he directed them to Old Man Jenkins on the South Road, where they heard legends of Attar, the Maiden of Flowers who attracted young lovers into her cult. Worship was held at a temple in the south woods, which developed an increasingly bad reputation until forces from Verbobonc, Veluna and Furyondy laid waste to it, ending the cult. The Maiden has not been seen since, and most people in this backwater sty don’t seem inclined to talk about it, except for Old Man Jenkins, who talks to his chickens.
Early the next morning the party mounted horses and set off down the mostly-unused South Road, and after a couple hours found the ruined walls of a courtyard. Within was an awful edifice of evil, surrounded by choking weeds and shrubs up to a man’s eyeballs. They carefully trotted up to the fane’s front, dismounted, and examined the huge iron-bound portal. After much discussion the PC’s decided to break in through a side door, rather than trying to batter open the main doors, and left the horses and ponies out front.
Once within the foyer Exex was encouraged to explore the entire expanse of the immense cathedral, whose pillars and walls were decorated with scenes of debauchery and degeneracy, and featuring sickly floral accents. She found three stairways down and decided to venture to a lower level via the west stairway, in a vestry. She found several long passageways, some used (for they had lit torches), and discovered ruined armories down unused hallways. Eventually she snuck her way up a used passageway only to be surprised by a pair of gnolls, who tried to grab her and missed. Running and trying to duck them, she finally escaped by casting a Lightning Bolt and found her way back to the west stairs. Yelling, she alerted her compatriots of the danger of humanoids below.
Once the party was confident that no monsters were going to rise from below they proceeded down the east stairwell, and found more long hallways, disused armories, a garbage room, and a sloping passage to a lower level. When Paddy checked a side room for traps he became trapped himself with harpies; Darmok and Garath bent the enclosing bars and came to his aid, having to then fight off ghouls and ghosts as well.
Moving north, our intrepid band ran afoul of what seemed to be a multiple crossbow trap down a cross-hall, which nearly killed Exex. Bobill used his Wand of Fireballs to send a fireball down the hall, following it up with a second fireball for good measure. The gnoll manning the quadruple crossbow and his fellows were not happy; actually, several died as the doors were blown off. Further melees with gnolls and ogres ensued, until the humanoids fell back to hit-and-run tactics and were pursued through barracks into a wide, bone-strewn hall. Darmok and Garath found themselves in a trap as skeletons – human and gnoll – sprang up around them. Chees and Rebamac turned most of the skeletons; when human guards then appeared around the corners and from a side door, the clerics and Exex cast paralyzation and hold spells that were terribly effective in helping the party drive off or defeat these forces. The adventurers turned back to the rooms hay had just cleared, scouring them for treasure. When Paddy disarmed the traps on a large iron chest in what appeared to be an ogre’s chamber, and began digging through the coins within, the poor chief of the ogres couldn’t take it any more. He burst in cursing and proceeded to batter the halfling to a pulp; only the intervention of Darmok saved Paddy, who was one good ogre-hit away from death.
Making note of what treasure was where the party decided to move further north from the bone hallway, fighting through a series of small rooms held by human guards. They eventually reached more opulent quarters, finding concealed alcoves, including an “L”-shaped little hall terminating in what seemed to be a dead end and containing an iron chest chained to the wall. Seeing no opposition the party chiseled the bracket out of the wall and dragged this booty, and other loot, into their Bag of Holding and decided to take their leave for the day.
Battered and bruised they exited the cathedral, only to discover their steeds – missing! Quelle surprise!
Garath tracked the mounts to a ruined tower in the northwest corner of the compound, and the group proceeded to argue over what to do with the barred and chained door at the foot of the wrecked structure. Pretty soon arrows began picking at them and they charged the walls to get past firing range. They broke the chain free and unbarred the door, then the barbarian swung open the door so Darmok could wade in, protected head-to-toe in field plate armor.
Allynfred, who has taken to the moniker Kalak Ropebeard, assisted with the tower invasion, helping Rebamac fight brigands in the dark east section while the paladin and Garath fought to the northwest. Bobill, using his Cloak of Arachnidia, proved invaluable when he webbed nearly the entire brigand contingent. The battle was quickly finished after that with most brigands killed and one captured; the party’s mounts were further back in the common area, as they suspected. Rebamac charmed the captured brigand, named Yutoob, and they learned the brigand leaders had escaped, but Yutoob knew not how. He also identified a scrap of paper they found as a list of upcoming raids, including one in Hommlett.
Our heroes decided to head back to Nulb for the night, for there was much recovery needed, even though only a few hours had passed since arrival at the Temple grounds.