Scorching Dawn

Episode 9

Of Eyes and Idols

The story so far…

  • While camping out in the desert Jorn notices a light coming from an opening in a nearby hillside and believes it to be torchlight. He wakes Darrius and they both see the light fade away as if the light is moving deeper into the cavern.
  • The two men collect their belongings and head towards where they saw the light in order to investigate its source. Stubbs, who is camped nearby, packs up as well and trails behind Jorn and Darrius.
  • Arriving at the point where they saw the light they find an arched doorway and a wide hall leading into the hillside. The structure is built out of large stone blocks and appears to be quite ancient. Jorn creates a ball of light and he and Darrius head into the hall.
  • The two move quickly but cautiously, listening for any sign of whoever was holding the light but they hear nothing. As they round the corner to the right they see the light disappearing once more around another corner up ahead.
  • Jorn notices that the even through the halls appear quite ancient they also show some sign of being recently repaired. Darrius and Jorn take a moment to inspect the walls and floor and determine that they are quite solid and sturdy.
  • Outside the temple entrance, Stubbs spends a moment to find his friends’ tracks and uses his Tracking Talent to find their trail. He then slowly follows them while erasing their tracks behind him so no one will be able to tell where they’ve gone.
  • Rounding the corner where they last saw the light, Darrius and Jorn find themselves facing a long, dark tunnel and no sign of the light. Uneasy now, Jorn decides to peer into Astral Space. Gazing into the swirling energy of Astral Space he sees that there is heavy corruption in this area and tells Darrius that there is definitely something evil at work in this place.
  • They continue down the hallway and notice that some of the offshoot hallways have collapsed. After walking 30 or 40 yards down the hall, they come across some shallow alcoves in the walls of the hallway where four sarcophagi lie on stone shelves.
  • Two of the sarcophagi are open and peering inside Jorn sees that ancient, dried up, skeletons lie inside. He is puzzled to note that both of the skeletons are missing their arms. Jorn slides the coverings off the remaining two sarcophagi and finds two more skeletons, fully in tact.
  • Stubbs, who is still further back in the hallway notices a light coming from the left hallway and watches as it disappears around a corner. He decides to catch up to Jorn and Darrius and hurries down the right hall.
  • Stubbs tells the others that he saw a light now a different passage and the three begin to suspect that they may be in some kind of trap. They decide to return outside and see if they can determine if this is even the temple they are looking for. Stubbs starts leading them back through the hallway.
  • As Stubbs heads down the hall the entire structure begins to rumble and based on his mining experience Stubbs realizes that the floor is collapsing. He calls out a warning and tries to sprint forward however the floor collapse and the three adventures fall into the darkness below.
  • Stubbs manages to land on his feet, avoiding any damage from falling rubble. Darrius takes only minor injuries however Jorn lands hard the stone and takes a wound from his fall.
  • The three look around and realize they’ve fallen into a long, large room. The room is littered with piles of stone and rubble and looking at the ceiling they can see that there must have been several different cave-ins over time. At the far end of the room they can see atop a short, raised platform a stone altar. A soft, glowing light is being emitted from behind the altar.
  • The three spread out and approach the light after Darrius and Stubbs each take an end of Stubb’s rope to make sure they don’t get separated. Darrius leads the way, flourishing his cloak and demanding that whoever is there to show them respect for coming here. Stubbs fans out and hugs the far wall, trying to get a view around the altar. As he manoeuvres along the wall he sees a ball of soft light floating a few inches off the ground. Near the light there appears to be a body lying on the ground. The light suddenly fades and disappears.
  • The three approach the body and see that it is a corpse, probably dead for a few weeks now. They also notice that it is lying in the middle of a circle made of human bones and that a large amount of dried blood stains the floor.
  • Jorn peers into Astral Space and sees that the circle of bones are glowing with magical energy. In the corpse’s hand there appears to be a magical object. Jorn deduces that this corpse must have once been a Nethermancer and bravely/foolishly steps into the circle, feeling a wave of energy pass over him. Turning the corpse’s hand over he sees that it is clutching a large, spherical ruby. The ruby radiates an inky black energy and appears to have burned into the flesh of the corpse’s hand. Jorn says a quick prayer for the dead Nethermancer and then cuts off the corpse’s arm with his knife so as to avoid touching the ruby.
  • While Jorn investigates the corpse Stubbs hears something moving in the hall above them. He readies his crossbow and waits. He is horrified to see a monstrous, centipede-like Horror crawl into the room from the gap in the ceiling. Instead of legs the creature appears to have the arms of Namegivers growing out of its side as if they have been grafted to its body. It uses these arms and hands to pull itself along the ground. Its giant face appears to resemble a dead human face but one of its eyes appear to have been dug out of its socket and black, sticky blood seeps from the wound. Stubbs fires his crossbow into the monster but the bolt bounces harmless off its thick hide.
  • The Horror speaks into the adventurers’ minds without moving its mouth. They hear a raspy, echoing voice tell them that it will destroy them unless they agree to give it the ruby that Jorn is clutching. Looking at the wound in the Horror’s face the group realizes they are in actuality holding the Horror’s missing eye.
  • Jorn refuses to make a deal with the Horror who then moves to attack. Darrius moves back in the room, towards Jorn and the bone circle however the Horror rushes towards Stubbs, grasping him with one of its many arms and begins to suck the life out him.
  • Stubbs manages to bring his axe up and strikes the arm grasping him, the blow causes the Horror to drop him and he scrambles to his feet. Jorn attempts to cast an Ephemeral Bolt spell at the horror from within the bone circle but as the spell crosses the circle it explodes in a burst of energy. Darrius aggressively attack from the side, attempting to tangle the Horror’s limbs in Stubb’s rope. He manages to injure the Horror but fails to entangle its limbs.
  • The Horror then shrieks in a demonic roar that terrifies both Stubbs and Darrius. Jorn is just barely able to resist its effect. Stubbs manages to crawl back and fall into the circle of bone. The Horror attacks Darrius causing serious injury.
  • The Horror then picks up Darrius and hurls him at Jorn, attempting to knock Jorn out of the circle. Jorn is hit but manages to scramble back into the circle and drags Darrius’ body in as well.
  • Realizing that they are somewhat at an impasse the Horror begins to attempt to bargain with the group again, once more offering to let them leave with their lives if they will turn over the ruby. Stubbs tries to negotiate a different deal…

Stubbs: “Where is the idol?”
Horror: “Ha ha ha, you still believe there’s an idol? Such gullible creatures.”
Stubbs: “Bring us the idol and we’ll give you the eye!”
Horror: “…….”
Jorn: “…….”
Darrius: “…….”
Horror: “There is no idol. There never was.”

  • Jorn once again refuses to make a deal and attempts to hit the Horror with another Ephemeral Bolt but the spell has no effect and the Horror retreats, climbing back up through the hole in the ceiling promising that it will outlast them, dragging Stubb’s rope with him.
  • The group takes a moment to recoup and catch their breath. Darrius bandages himself up with his last medicine kit. Jorn does a more thorough search of the corpse and finds a scroll case and a leather pouch with some coins in it. He also discovers a deep wound across the corpse’s belly and it appears to be a self inflicted wound. An ornate knife still lies stabbed into the side of the corpse. Jorn theorizes that the Nethermancer used his own blood to cast a blood magic spell, probably the one that sealed the circle against the Horror.
  • Jorn pieces together that the ruby eye must be a pattern item of the Horror since it seems so desperate to recover it. He concludes that the Nethermancer must have some how injured the Horror and took its eye and then used blood magic to create a barrier preventing the Horror from retrieving the eye.
  • Going through the scroll case reveals that it is the Nethermancer’s grimoire and that his name was Zanza. There is also a map within the case that Stubb’s recognizes as being the same as the map they received from the merchant Silas. They suspect that he must have sent many people to their deaths in this ruin with his map.
  • The group decides to take a quick look around, being careful to keep an eye on all the entrances into the room in case the Horror returns. The discover under some of the rubble piles additional corpses that appear to have had they arms torn off. They recover a few more coins and weapons from the corpses and then return to the circle to formulate a plan.
  • Several plans are discussed including having Stubbs run off with a decoy ruby while Darrius and Jorn sneak out with the ruby, leaving the ruby in the circle and returning before the spell wears off, confronting the horror and killing it, and sending word to Kane to send help.

Stubbs: “We should destroy the eye.”
Jorn: “No, we already tried that and it’s impossible.”
Stubbs: “What did we try?”
Jorn: “We hit it with a hammer.”

  • After some discussion, the group unanimously agree that the best plan is to sneak out, leaving the ruby within the circle and return later to kill the Horror once they’ve become more powerful.
  • The group collects their supplies and look for a place to hide the ruby in case anyone else finds their way into the ruins.

Jorn: “Ohhhhh… I know where I can hide it.”

  • They eventually decide to hide the ruby inside the Nethermancer’s corpse, sliding it into the knife wound in his belly. Stubbs then leads the way down one of the unexplored passages.
  • Stubbs leads them down a few hallways until they come across a room with a round fountain in the center surrounded by statues of the Passions. The statues are old and tarnished and the fountain is dry. Pressing on, Stubbs hears the sound of many “feet” rushing towards them from around the corner. Seconds later the Horror rounds the corner on the attack.
  • The Horror attacks Stubbs hitting him with several blows. Stubbs draws his spade from his back and attempts to blind the Horror’s good eye but fumbles with the tool, dropping it to the side. Darrius rushes forward to aid Stubbs and maneovers into an attack position while Jorn falls back and fires an Ephemeral Bolt at the Horror.
  • The Horror rears up and attacks Darrius with a heavy blow, wounding him again. A second blow is narrowly avoided by Darrius who then leaps off the wall and strikes down with a powerful sword strike, stabbing deep into the Horror’s head. The Horror collapses and the three adventures continue to stab the beast, until black blood flows freely down the hall.

Stubbs: “I walk along his body stabbing each of his balls.”

  • Satisfied and a little surprised that the Horror is truly dead the three decide to leave the ruby eye hidden in the ruins until they can report back to town and see if there’s another way to permanently destroy the object.
  • Exploring the ruins they find stair leading back to the entrance as well as the Horror’s lair where several corpses are found in a heap with their arms torn off. They recover a few more coins from the dead and Darrius collects several blades. Jorn finds a body shield.
  • The three now set their sights on returning to Thadizar to confront the merchant, Silas.

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