Session 06/27

Nimmik moved to inspect the strange holy symbol Fembrys had worn. Using his skill as an artificer he determined its trigger phrase. He spoke the word, "secrets", and the simple silver disk turned to a disk of jet with a ring of amethysts. The symbol of Shar. There was then absolutely no doubt as to the nature of the temple. As the group pondered their options, the guards, Shan Thar and Kevrin were assembling just outside the closed inner temple doors. In the dormitory, Garron Greatstone heard the patter of metal-clad feet just outside the door. When he went to inspect he saw that Mystran Temple guards and Father Thar apparently preparing to lay siege to their own temple. Kevrin spoke an arcane word and the inner temple doors swung open. The guards let loose their arrows and Shan Thar fired off a sound burst. Percival and Aenin were unlucky enough to catch the full force of the fusillade of arrows and the sound burst. A few of the arrows hit home, but the spell had the least pleasant effect; both of the fighters were stunned and dropped their weapons. Silas, still under the guise of Fembrys, addressed the guards and Shan Thar from behind the altar. He held aloft the 'Starry Gnosis' and attempted to activate it blindly. The spell thief bit off more than he could chew, and the Gnosis cracked and exploded in a shadowy ice ball. Silas took a hefty hit (21 dmg plus 4 WIS dmg) and stumbled into the shadows of the room to lick his wounds. Seeing as how 'Fembrys' tried to assault them with some sort of magic item and he was consumed in black flames, the guards were not convinced that it was really the priest, and Shan Thar reiterated their assumptions.

Meanwhile, Garron had retrieved his gear and was making his way toward Shan Thar. He had a few questions for the overly friendly priest. The next round saw many more arrows fired at Percival and Aenin. They were both still stunned but only a few of the missiles hit. Father Thar pulled a wand from his belt and blasted the area of the inner temple with a bane spell. Most of the group fell to its demoralizing effect, and things were looking grim. Helios scampered across the open doorways to the other side of the room in order to heal Aenin, who was badly wounded at that point. Nimmik, having cast veil of shadows last round and relying on his crystal of arrow deflection, stepped out from the inner doors and blasted the front rank of guards with a color spray from his wand. Half of them fell unconscious but the others shook the effect. Percival, finally coming-to, moved into the doorway and took down one of the guards with his hammer. Aenin retrieved his sword and moved to back-up the knight. Garron was finally within reach of Shan Thar. He roughly grabbed his shoulder and spun him around. He expressed his displeasure at being led along to receive this "Mystra's Sacred Trust" or whatever. He had come there for information and had not even seen a library. Shan Thar told him, in the most polite manner, to return to his room and that now was not the time to discuss this. Kevrin repeated those instructions to the surly dwarf, but Garron would have none of that. As Father Thar started to turn back toward the combat, Garron tried to grab his arm. The wily priest was quicker that than, though, and he slipped between a pair of guards and disappeared from sight. Kevrin seemed very surprised by Thar's ability to disappear and distraught that he would abandon him and the guards like that.

Percival continued to trip the temple guards as Aenin pinned one against a pillar. Silas, having consumed a potion, was inching his way back up into combat. But, he wanted to see how things panned-out first. Garron, without the head priest to assault, settled on the sorcerer. He grabbed Kevrin and held him fast. Nimmik used another blast from his wand, dropping the rest of the guards, and Kevrin, into unconsciousness. Percival used his present from Maercus to cast corpse candle and he positioned himself adjacent to where he thought Shan Thar might be. Sure enough, the wispy form of Thar was revealed by the spell and Percival grappled him. The last guard threw down her sword, and the PCs rounded up the unconscious and wounded. Silas took this as his que to raid the upper temple of its treasures, and he did just that. His first stop; the sacristy.

The PCs attempted to interrogate Shan Thar but he kept his mouth shut. Kevrin (once he woke up) pleaded with the priest to tell the PCs that they were mistaken; it truly was a Temple of Mystra. Shan Thar still declined to say anything. Garron needed little convincing, he had the notion that something was wrong from the beginning. Nimmik slipped into the outer temple courtyard under the guise of Shan Thar and ushered the two guards into the middle temple. They noticed the bedlam within (the unconscious guards and the restrained Shan Thar) and turned to question the 'doppleganger' but it was too late, Nimmik blasted them both with color spray knocking them out. Kevrin and the guards still seem unconvinced that it was a false temple, so Aenin and Nimmik dragged the dead bodies of the shadowy guards from the inner temple to show what the clerics had been doing to the guards who received "Mystra's Sacred Trust". This was enough for the guards, they seemed beside themselves in confusion and grief. Kevrin, however, asked Shan Thar to deny these allegations once more. With still no response forthcoming from Thar, Kevrin's world was shattered. All of the devotion and hard work he'd put forth was all for naught. Even worse; it was all for Shar.

"Shar and Cyric" Nimmik pipped, and he revealed another secret to Shan Thar's holy symbol; a jawless skull before a purple starburst. Kevrin looked at Thar with decidedly less admiration in his eyes. There was even a glint of vengeance in them. As the PCs were about to lock the lot of them in the store room, the sorcerer asked to take the false priests and the guards into town and alert the Purple Dragons to the temple's ruse. The PCs didn't quite trust the young mage so the gathered everyone up (except for the parishioners in the dormitory) including the comatose body of Fembrys and the dead guards and escorted/carried them into town.

When they reached the barracks, the look on the attending knights face was priceless. At a loss he simply asked them to state their business. The PCs summarized what they had experienced in the 'Temple of Mystra' and the knight seemed less than convinced. He asked one of the other knights (by then there were a group of them surrounding the PCs) to retrieve a priestess from the Temple of Chauntea. Kevrin and the guards stood well aside from Fembrys and Thar, eyeing the two false priests with malice. The knight returned with the priestess shortly. The matronly cleric cast discern lies and zone of truth, she then subjected each of the PCs to interrogation right there in the street. Luckily, it was around 1 AM and no-one was out. The captain of the guard, meanwhile, ordered one of the pages to retrieve Lord Redbeard. Silas goosed the priestess (whom promptly smacked him) and asked if she could restore his faculties, as he was feeling rather impulsive (more than usual). The priestess reluctantly cast lesser restoration on the rude spell thief. Lord Redbeard's arrival was heralded by the sound of his loud cursing. When he reached the scene at the barracks those curses only intensified. He demanded to know why the PCs had raided his city's brand new temple. The group retold their story and presented all of the incriminating evidence. Plus the endorsement of the priestess of Chauntea that they were, in fact, telling the truth. Lord Sarp looked to the huddled temple guards, to the comatose Fembrys, to the shifty-looking Thar, to the pile of chakrams and unholy symbols, and back to the PCs. "Clean it out! Tonight!", he shouted. And Garron, whether he wanted to or not, was roped into helping the group. The PCs said they were in need of healing, so Sarp ordered the priestess to heal them. Drawing her wand, she complied. She even healed Silas' wisdom to full. As the group gave their thanks and turned to head for the temple, Kevrin offered his help. Silas used his goggles of arcane sight to discern that Kevrin really wouldn't be that much help (1st level sorcerer). The captain of the guard said that Kevrin would be required to give a statement anyway. So the young mage reluctantly stayed behind.

As the group re-entered the Temple. they found the three parishioners standing about in the outer temple courtyard, unsure as to what was happening. Helios told them all that had happened and that they should go back into town. The commoners demanded to have their money returned to them. As Silas and Nimmik moved to search the rooms of the outer temple, the apprentice Red Wizard told them (rather unkindly) to leave. They took the hint and rushed for the door.

Silas and Helios found more incriminating evidence in Shan Thar's quarters; a note from someone named Arthas instructing Thar to "push the sacred trust a little harder", "lest the lady find you in shadow". Inside a chest they found a few potions of cure serious wounds and many potions of undetectable alignment. With the upper temple sussed, they made their way to the reinforced double doors at the very back of the inner temple. What could possibly await them beyond it?

Percival concentrated on the inspiration granted him by his god, Kelemvor, and smashed the doors asunder with a Mountain Hammer Strike. Darkness stretched down the long stairway beyond. With Helios' spear the trip down the stairs was not made blindly and the group came to the first landing. The stairway switch-backed on either side (north and south) of the long stair they'd just descended and two statues stood in the northeast and southeast corners of the landing. With Percival in the lead it was his decision to start south. As he stepped onto the landing he felt the stone beneath his foot give slightly and saw the telltale glow of a spell sigil beneath him. The knight felt a wave of paralysis wash over him, but he was hardy enough to withstand it. However, he didn't get his guard up in time for an arrow shot from the mouth of one of the black, vaguely feminine, statues. It struck him in the side but he was lucky to withstand the vile poison on the missile. Percival grabbed the spell thief and thrust him to the head of the group. "Do your job!", he said, testily.

Grumbling, Silas moved down the southern stair, checking every stone, with the rest of the party giving him respectable distance. As he moved to the foot of the stair another arrow streaked from the darkness, barely missing the thief. He looked up from his deep concentration to notice a shadowy figure with bow in hand. Percival rushed into the large, debris strewn room and took the shadow guard down with his hammer. He noticed the glowing female statue in the center of the room as the ground beneath him erupted into the form of a semi-humanoid shape. The earth elemental, which is what it only could have been, seemed to be made of broken tombstones and monuments. Its stony fist bowled into the knight and he felt some of his ribs crack and some of his very soul being sucked away (level drain!). This was no ordinary elemental. Silas quickly drew his bow and fired two shots at the juggernaut. Both shots struck true and chipped away at some of the statuary covering the elemental. Percival dropped his hammer in favor of his yuir ghostblade and he hacked away at the vile rock pile. Yet another arrow, shot from the darkness, barely missed the knight and another shadow guard became visible in the far corner of the room. Aenin moved up to the elemental and unleashed his undead slaying prowess. The elemental tried to swat him as he moved in but the aura surrounding the statue in the center of the room seemed to deflect the blow. With one mighty slash from Aenin's bastard sword the beast collapsed and sunk halfway back into the floor. The remaining guard took this as his que to leave and he rushed through the northwestern door of the room, locking it behind him.

The group had many doors to choose from in this room, but Percival told them that he didn't feel all that great after being hit by the elemental. Without anyone able to cast restoration it looked as if the knight might have had to deal with the level loss. Nimmik, making an executive decision, moved to the door on the northern wall and recklessly opened it. "It appears that they weren't lying about their library, Garron." said the apprentice. Inside the room were disheveled papers and sheets of parchment, books and tomes sitting on unkept bookshelves. Nimmik quickly cast detect magic and scanned the room. He plucked several scrolls from the mess including, to the knight's elation, a scroll of restoration. Garron, being the ranking cleric, cast the spell from the scroll and restored the knight to his true potential. Helios inspected the statue in the center of the room and debris surrounding it. The sculpture was a true depiction of the Lady of Mysteries and the debris were smashed relics holy to the Mystran church. Fury welled up inside the cleric, and he vowed that the Sharrans would not get away with their sacrilege. Silas decided to try the southern door on the western wall. Checking it for traps and finding none, he picked the lock and moved in tentatively. About ten feet into the narrow hall he found a pressure plate on the floor and, using his thief instinct, determined that the ceiling above and behind the plate was made of plaster to allow a metal-arm swinging block trap to strike the unwitting target. He set to work disabling it, but the frosty explosion he'd suffered earlier that evening still left his fingers a little numb and he accidentally tripped the mechanism. Sure enough, the block swung down through the plaster and struck the poor spell thief square in the back. After the resulting curse-fest and some stifled snickers from the PCs, Silas moved on the check the rest of the narrow corridor and found another plate just around the corner (turning south). With another failed attempt (it just was notSilas' night) he watched as the ceiling in front of him, all down the rest of the corridor, collapsed in massive slabs of stone. It made for an extremely loud failure. It effectively shut the passageway off to any ingress. And if the inhabitants of the lower temple weren't aware of the PCs presence, they were then.

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Hobbling out of the small (now even smaller) passage, Silas asked for the wand of cure light wounds, and healed himself. With renewed caution he moved to the western door on the southern wall and double checked it for traps. It was untrapped, unlocked, and led to a simple (and smelly) privy. The final door in the room, in the middle of the southern wall, was unlocked as well and led to a lounge-like quarters. This room had a door leading south and a door leading east. The southern room led to a horror-show. Inside the small bedroom, mounted on the wall, were eight stuffed human heads. A note on the desk, signed by someone named Arthas, bemoaned Fembrys of his little "hobby", and warned him not to steal any more of the petitioners, lest he find his head on the wall. Inside the cabinet the group found the macabre tools for taxidermy. They decided it would be best to leave this room alone for now and moved to the eastern door in the previous room. Inside they found a disused bedroom, with a thick coating of dust covering every surface. Searching the rooms turned no result so they returned to the large room with the glowing statue of Mystra. With but one course open to them, the group headed for the central door on the western wall. The door through which the shadow guard fled.

With a quick pick from 'Pick', the group opened the locked door. Inside, from the light of Helios' spear, they saw a large hallway lined with familiar looking statues. Silas took point once again and proceeded to check the center-line of the hall for traps. He finally found one, about ten feet from the door at the western end, between two of the statues; a fusillade/dart trap. the spell thief made good on his claims this time and it was skillfully disabled. The group positioned themselves in front of the door as Silas checked and opened it. Darkness greeted them from behind the door. Their light source revealed another hall (or at least, the first ten feet of another hall) and they could just make out several doorways lining each side. Helios tossed his gem of light into the room to illuminate it fully. At the opposite end of the hall they saw a massive circle of supernatural darness ringed with purple. It was undoubtedly a massive symbol of Shar.

From inside the symbol slithered three large snakes. The one in the lead moved right up to the light gem and swallowed it whole. The hall fell back into darkness as Helios cursed loudly. Silas moved slyly into the hallway, sliding along the southern wall. As he positioned himself to shoot one of the snakes the door directly behind him swung open and strong hands grabbed the spell thief and threw him into the room. Without a moment to view his assailant, the door was kicked shut and locked. Silas was now in a dark room against a formidable foe, by himself. Percival saw what had happened and made to enter the hall and rescue the thief, but the snakes moved up to engage the fighters in the lead. Three more figures, shadow guards, emerged from the other doors lining the hall and they took aim with their bows. Another figure stepped out of one of the doors and cast the unmistakable spell, darkness, and the hall was even darker than before. With an oath to his god, the dwarf cast daylight and the hall was once again illuminated. Percival and Aenin engaged the snakes as Helios fired his wand of magic missiles at one of the scally fiends. The glowing bolt passed harmlessly through it and the fighters' blows found no purchase. The snakes were using displacement. From within the darkness of the giant holy symbol at the end of the hall an arrow streaked in and struck Percival in his shoulder. It wouldn't have been so bad were it not for the poison coating the missile. The knight failed his save and took massive damage as the toxin ate away at his capillaries (21 dmg!). Nimmik used his wand of shadow spray against the snakes with little effect.

Meanwhile, Silas had his hands full in the small dark room. As he stood up from the floor he felt two small objects hit his buckler just as he was moving it past his throat. The two small metal objects fell to the floor with metallic clangs. Percival and Aenin continued to battle the tricky snakes as two of the three the shadow guards moved up to engage them in melee. Percival made an untimely blow and accidentally struck Garron with his hammer (welcome to the group, dwarf!). The woman who'd cast darkness last round cast another spell; dispel magic, and Garron's daylight vanished, casting the hall once again in shadow. Nimmik reacted quickly and cast dancing lights, and the battle of light vs dark continued. Garron was fed-up with the spellcasting wench so he cast spiritual weapon and a glowing axe appeared near the priestess to slice at her. Her defenses proved too hardy and it glanced off of her armor. Another arrow sped in to strike Percival again. This time the knight withstood the poison, but how many of those vile arrows did this archer have?

Back in the rumpus room, the invisible foe moved silently up to Silas and delivered a roundhouse kick to his ribs, cracking a few. Silas decided his only way out would be to bust the door down; it was impossible to pick the lock in this darkness, let alone fending off his attacker. So he charged the door with his long-sword and did a respectable amount of damage. Though it was clear to him it would take time to bust through, time he didn't have. The battle continued in the hall; Aenin sliced away at the snakes, dropping one. Percival battled with the shadow guards, also dropping one. Nimmik used his wand again with better result, weakening the remaining snakes and guard. The priestess at the other end of the hall cast sound burst, catching the whole group (sans Silas) and the remaining snakes and guard in the area of effect. The whole group took sonic damage and most were stunned. Only Garron and Nimmik withstood the stunning effect. The dwarf's magic axe continued to slice at the priestess with little result. Nimmik thought it was time to bring in some help, drawing a scroll from his belt he cast summon monster III and a celestial black bear appeared before the dark priestess. With two mighty swats (including a smite evil) the sharran took heavy damage. Once again, an arrow streaked in from the dark room beyond and struck the stunned knight. And once again he succumbed to the toxin taking more massive damage.

Silas continued to hack away at the door, making little headway, as his unseen and unarmed opponent delivered another healthy kick to his head. What would topple first; the door or the spell-thief? Helios went into heal-mode and made his way up to the knight. With a refreshing cure spell, Percival could hold out a little longer. The knight and the warblade retrieved their weapons and dispatched the remaining snakes and shadow guard. Nimmik thought one good turn deserved another as he spent the last summon spell on his scroll. Another celestial black bear appeared before the priestess and the pair assaulted her, hitting her only once. Garron's spiritual weapon was being ineffective, and with the priestess on the ropes the dwarf was getting frustrated. The dark priestess deftly laid a hand on one of the bears and channeled dark power into it, causing sores and wounds to open on the poor, divine creature. The one remaining shadow guard (the one who remained back) continued to fire arrows into the melee as another snake emerged from the dark symbol to engage the PCs. Another of those foul missiles streaked in, this time aiming for Aenin. It struck true, but the warblade staved-off the poison.

Percival, finally free of opponents, used his Mountain Hammer Strike, turning the door at which Silas had been scraping away into splinters. As the light from the hall poured into the room Silas saw his opponent for the first time; a tattooed woman in monks' clothing. Her hair was close cropped and she had a black strip of cloth covering her mouth and chin. She was radiating black heat. The monk looked appraisingly at Percival and the massive hammer he wielded. The spell-thief had little time to ponder his foe as she decked him across the temple, laying him low (at 0 hp exactly). Outside the small room, Aenin dropped the last of the displacer serpents and the black bears finally took down the priestess (bringing her to 0 hp). Helios made his way toward Aenin to administer some healing and Nimmik used his wand to weaken the last of the shadow guards. Yet another arrow from the darkness struck Aenin and this time he felt the sting of the poison, taking a healthy dose of damage.

The knight swatted at the monk, scoring a hit. The monk then stepped lightly from the bed on which she'd been balancing to land on the floor, 10 feet from Percival. He tried to find an opening in her defenses as she moved but there were none to be found. With a flick of her wrist she fired two small pointed shuriken hitting both the knight and the warblade. They caused little damage, but they were coated with a powerful poison (these sharrans and their poison…). Unfortunately, both fighters failed their saves and succumbed to the toxin, losing their sight! As Aenin and Percival groped blindly for a wall to guide them Nimmik directed his bears to finish-off the dying priestess and he moved to help guide his blind comrades out of the room. The time had come for a tactical retreat. Helios healed the unconscious spell-thief, bringing him back from the threshold of death and guided the two fighters through the doorway into the previous hall. Garron took up the rear as the group made their retreat, but the archer behind the giant holy symbol at the end of the hall fired again this time aiming for Nimmik. The arrow struck true and somehow the apprentice warded off the toxin.

As the last of the group moved out Garron shut the door behind him. Someone was derelict in their duty guiding the knight and he wandered between two of the statues near the wall. With a click a scythe sliced from the wall scoring a critical hit on the already wounded knight. Percival was a tank, however, and took the hit in stride. Once everyone was back in the "Mystran Reliquary" they took stock of the damage; both fighters were blind, the spell-casters were out of spells, the thief was still badly wounded, the monk they'd fought was still in there and none the worse for wear, and there was still that damned archer in the room beyond with those ungodly poisoned arrows. Garron channeled the power of Clanggeddin to cure Percival's blindness, but the warblade would have to suffer a while longer. Their only hope was that there wasn't an alternate route their enemy could take to hedge them in. How many more foes yet remained in the lower temple?

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