Undaunted, the heroes pushed on…
The Chamber of Statutes
The heroes entered a 30-foot-high room that looked vaguely like a memorial. To the west, a 20-foot-tall statue of a warrior in plate armor stood atop a raised dais and held an outstretched sword. In the corners of the eastern wall sat two statues of crouching dragons. Looking to the south, the heroes saw an entryway that led to a set of double doors, and in the entryway there were more statues: four small, cherubic figures that were holding vases above their heads. A number of the heroes noticed that the dust around the statues seemed slightly disturbed. Aramil noticed that there were arcane writings on the dragon statutes, and was even able to determine that they would allow the dragon statues to breathe blasts of force. With that information, most of the party crept along the western wall. One of the heroes got too close to the dragons, however, and got blown close to the warrior statute—and then it started to move and attack anyone within fifteen feet! They noticed an access panel on the dais, however, and a few of the heroes went for it. Ultimately, they were able to deactivate the warrior statue before anyone was too seriously injured. Meanwhile, Zakhar advanced toward the cherub statues, and as he did, an invisible wall of force popped up, filling the now-enclosed space with water. Luckily, the heroes had taken out a statue or two before Zakhar was trapped, and it was not difficult for him to smash the other two statues, disabling the trap.
As the heroes proceeded through the double doors, a disgusting smell of rotting meat poured out from this chamber. Gnawed, partially eaten humanoid corpses were strewn everywhere. Before the heroes could make heads or tails of it, they were quickly attacked—this time by zombies! Theron, Niall and Zakhar quickly disposed some of the weaker zombie rotters—there were twelve total, though!—and when Malkyr entered the room, he saw something more fearsome: a flesh-eating ghoul, with the power of paralysis. He chose that target first, and attacked the ghoul, wounding it. The healthier-looking zombies advanced and tried to grab on to the heroes, but they deftly avoided their attacks, and the zombie rotters were unable to strike the heroes either. Aramil conjured up a fiery rain that killed two rotters and injured the other two zombies, while the ghoul advanced and attacked (but missed). Merrick ran up to one of the healthy zombies and found his opportunity to stab it right in the brain, instantly killing it, while Theron dispatched another rotter. Meanwhile, a small homonculous made its presence known, attacking the party, but luck was with the heroes once again—its attack missed! Niall, Zakhar and Malkyr all attacked the ghoul with fervor, wounding it badly. The zombies and remaining rotters once again tried to grab the heroes, who fought them off. Aramil conjured up a spell that destroyed four more of the weaker zombies plus the remaining strong one. The ghoul, attacking and wounding Zakhar, left his flank open, and Niall, seeing his opportunity, crushed the ghoul’s skull, ending its life. Merrick then finished off the remaining zombies, while Theron and Niall, through their combined might, killed the fleeing homonculous. With the battle won, the group searched the room, they discovered, behind a partially eaten corpse, a small tunnel in the lower western wall. Malkyr climbed through, and found that the narrow tunnel opened into a brick-lined chamber splayed with the half-eaten remains of goblins, hobgoblins, humans, elves, and forest creatures. The victims’ belongings were strewn in disarray amid the gore, and among those was a peculiar sack with gold inside, which weighed far less than it should have. Aramil quickly identified it as a magical bag of holding, and the heroes quickly unburdened themselves with all non-essential gear, throwing it into the sack. There was only one way to go…down the stairs to the east through a set of double doors.
Cathedral of Shadow
When the heroes opened the double doors, they first noticed crimson streams that trailed across the floor and flowed through a grate surrounding a hole in the floor of the shadowy cathedral. Large chains ran down into the hole, providing access to a room below. The blood looked to be supplied from a dais along the eastern wall, where they saw a human in dark robes standing before a wall carving that depicted a ram-headed demon. The robed figure held up a knife and sang the praises of the demon lord Orcus! As he turned toward the party, they could see that a tattoo of a ram’s skull covered his face. The grate in the center of the room was surrounded by four crystal columns, from which Blue-green light emanated (although one column had fallen). Standing next to two of these columns were powerful humans clad in dark leather armor and carrying axes, their spit-flecked lips moving in unending prayers. Some of the heroes sensed that there might be more enemies lurking in the shadows to the north, and as they advanced, the underpriest became aware of their presence. “Infidels in the temple!” he screamed, quickly followed by: “Attack!”
Niall was quicker, however, and he charged straight at one of the axe-wielding berserkers, wounding him a bit. Malkyr attacked the other, likewise dealing him a blow before he could react, and Theron also took a mighty swing at the berserker, who would have surely died had he been an ordinary fighter; instead, the berserker absorbed the blow, and attacked Theron, who deftly parried the attack. Meanwhile, the berserker engaged with Niall tried to run him through, but Niall was too skilled, and sidestepped the strike. Merrick saw an opportunity, and quickly ran behind the berserker engaged with Theron to stab at him, and the berserker was now bleeding from quite a few wounds, and enraged, he lashed out at Merrick, landing a blow of his own, and wounding Merrick badly. Aramil moved closer to the center of the room, and saw what awaited him to the north: several vampire spawn fleshrippers, searching for new victims. Without hesitating, he called forth arcing lightning from his fingertips, killing one of the fleshrippers, and shocking the berserker fighting Niall. Two of the fleshrippers charged Niall, one wounding him, and the other missing, but Niall saw an opportunity to attack one of them, and killed it. Zakhar moved closer to the underpriest and attacked, but the deranged cultist managed to parry with his mace, and then tried to use it to take out Zakhar at the knees, but the goliath likewise parried the priest’s attack. Skulking along the walls to the north was a Dark Creeper, and he sprang out of the shadows to attack Aramil, who just barely dodged a killing blow, and only ended up with a minor cut (but now had a fight on his hands).
Meanwhile, Niall struck again, hitting the berserker fighting him, but still not able to bring him down, even though the dwarf confidently thought that it was only a matter of time before he landed the killing blow. Malkyr, staying out of the main fray, again attacked the berserker engaged with Theron and Merrick, and his attack was almost deadly. Theron attacked the crazed fighter, while offering encouraging words to Merrick, bolstering his nerves. The berserker, sorely wounded, attacked Merrick again, once again barely getting past his defenses, but in doing so, he opened himself up to Merrick’s killing strike, and just like that, one of the warriors was slain. Aramil, knowing that he was in trouble, teleported out of the reach of any weapons, confounding his attackers before he unleashed his magic on them, killing two of the fleshrippers and wounding the Dark Creeper, the berserker engaged with Niall, and, accidentally, Niall! While Aramil apologized, the dwarf grunted in pain and carried on—he was made of tougher stuff than most. The remaining fleshripper charged Aramil and clawed at him, drawing some blood while Aramil tried to keep him at bay with his staff. Zakhar and the priest both traded blows, and Zakhar seemed to be getting the better of their battle, the priest bleeding from a cut on his forehead. The Dark Creeper again tried to attack Aramil but missed.
Niall continued to battle the remaining warrior and was wearing him out; he could tell that the berserker was on his last legs. Malkyr then ran to the aid of Zakhar, and with a quick attack, mortally wounded the underpriest. Before he died, however, he called out to Orcus, and with a final surge, tried to kill Zakhar (and would have, if Zakhar had not been able to twist his body at the last second and turn a killing strike into a less serious one). With the priest killed, the remaining enemies looked confused, and the heroes pounced. Theron killed the remaining fleshripper that was attacking Aramil, while Merrick ran his rapier through the back of the neck of Niall’s opponent. Freed from the warrior, Niall charged the Dark Creeper, who was quickly surrounded by Theron and Merrick, and all of them pounded the small, evil thing. Aramil’s magic brought it close to death, and when it tried to flee, Niall smote it with his hammer, ending its life.
Total loot claimed:
Money/Valuables: 176 gp
Weapons/Apparel: Bag of Holding
XP Earned: Total = 2,656, or 442 xp each
1,031 (1 Ghoul, 12 Zombie Rotters, 2 Zombies, 1 Homonculous)
975 (1 Orcus Underpriest, 2 Orcus Berserkers, 1 Dark Creeper, 5 Vampire Spawn Fleshrippers)