The Temple of the Black Earth
We return to the black temple of Black Earth to almost the exact minute we left it to help Santa, a for second Christmas in a row, from the Astral Plane. Hope Santa get his things in order because that trip had me revived twice.
Bashar takes charge and leads us on. We arrive to a room that holds eroded Dwarven warrior bas-reliefs. Drongar states that this is THE DOOR, he and Smitty were whisked away and challenged to riddle contests. Bashar does not waste time when we discover the door is no longer protected by said trap. He enters the room.
The room is in disarray. The floor stones have been lifted in the middle of the room as well as large statues of Dwarven warriors are half melted by some unknown heat. Working at a table is a Stone Genasi. He seems to be working with reagents and other alchemical components.
“Be gone!” he yells while barely lifting his head from his work.
I, still disguised as an Earth Cultist, using my mask of shadows evocation, try and gather some information. I am not very successful and he seems even more annoyed than before. He reveals that he is the one who set the trap upon the door so that none would disturb him. While he worked on attempting to revive these ancient dwarven Golems.
When my useless attempts at charisma really annoy him, he screams out “Storm Bolt, remove them!”
One of the Golems comes to life and pushes us out of the door. Bashar wants have none of this, he wants answers. I unleash a repelling eldritch blast that pushes the Golem back many feet, leaving the chance for the group to enter unimpeded and quickly subdue Bashar’s kinsman. A powerful lightning bolt from Fendira, a few whacks from Bashar’s maul and a smiting blow from Drongar’s longsword was good enough to do the trick. He surrenders after only a few moments, calling off his monstrosity.
He pleads for his life and wishes to deal. Bashar tells him he can keep his life, but only if he answers our questions truthfully, leaves the temple and never come back and give us all his magical items. He says his name is Miraj-Vizam- the “Mud Sorcerer” and that he is second to Marlos. Him just saying Marlos’ name changes both Fendira’s and I’s complexion to boiling red
He has not love for the cult. He just joined to have the chance to experiment on the Golems. The fact that he is the second in command of this cult and could not give two coppers for their evil morals for his personal gain makes him more evil then the would be priests we have encountered down here in my opinion.
We press him about Marlos’ location, and yet again we are told he is in the Fane of the Eye. He then proceeds to tell us a chilling bit of information. The Fane of the Eye is an ancient yet abandoned Drow temple. Shivers run through me. A temple of Lolth? I hope NOT. We might be in for some very twisted and evil things. He says a staircase to the west of this room will bring us to the Fane. We let him go and the alchemist becomes invisible escaping like a coward.
We continue clearing the dungeon. We find a statue of Ogremach, the Prince of Evil Earth, which Bashar destroys with his maul. We also find a provision store and tables. Curious, a Air cultist feathered cloak is hung like a trophy. There is no love between these elemental cult yet they have an area of neutrality in the Fane. To be further investigated.
A barack lay not far from this room. We listen at the door to discover their are people inside. I enter again with the ruse of being a cultist. Within are a few cultist and a Black Earth Priestess. I convince them we have been told to flee the temple. The cultist leave the room and fall to a maul, magic missiles, a sword and claws. They never saw it coming. I take the priestess hostage. I place my dagger under her throat.
“You will lead us to Marlos. You will act natural as if we are just regular cultist!” I command her.
She has a half smile. A resolute smile. Something a person of great confidence would do as an intimidation before a dual. I prepare myself for whatever onslaught she will unleash. After the Remerrazz in the Astral Plane, i am ready to die and fight Lolth and my brethren in the Plane of the Dead. Bring it on!
But my heart sinks. She did something I did not expect. Something that will haunt me for the rest of my elven days. She impales her own head, through her throat, onto my dagger. Blood gushes from her arteries and stains my hand completely. The blood thick and red like clay. She would rather die than betray Marlos and her cult. I became confused and sad immediately. How can a simple black earth priestess be so fanatical when the second to Marlos is a turn coat. I lay her down slowly, removing my dagger trying not to hurt her empty shell. I close her eyes and speak a silent prayer for her journey. I take a cloth and clean the blood off my hands. But i do not discard it. I will feed it to Marlos when we defeat him. I run my short sword of vengeance into his stomach and Fendira blasts him with magic.
Are next steps leads us to an area that made my spine starts to shivers. The chasm where we encountered the Golem when we were but fledgling heroes. What were we thinking? We should have listened to Fendira.
We are now seasoned and a little more, careless, or carefree, i do not know which. Maybe more Angry and vengeful. We decided to enter Marlos’ throne room. Inside, around the large array of stalactites, stalagmites, we find destroyed life like statues. They are but rubble on the floor. The Throne room where I felt elated finding that hidden passage but then was petrified. If it wasn’t for Fred…euh..i mean…Nassaug, i would have been nothing but dust I think. Did Marlos do this because of us? Because of my escape? Anger will be his downfall.
But we are not alone in this throne room. 2 armored earth elementals come to life. We jump into the fray ready for anything. My first eldritch attack reflects off them as if it was nothing and sadly hits me in the process. Nassaug fails in his attacks and bites his own tongue. I can see the blood seeping out of his mouth like a waterfall. Fendira cast a spell that erupts the earth around them. One of these Elementals is so nimble it even makes a back flip to avoid any damage. Drongar goes for a powerful strike that bounces off one of the elementals armor a reflects back to cut his own shoulder. Its is like the luck has been drained from of us.
They seem to only focus their attacks on Nassaug. He is taking heavy wounds. Bashar destroys one of them by maul. Drongar finishes the last one finally. Nassaug is so wounded he needs to revert to his native elven form to avoid death.
We continue our investigation of the area by entering Marlos’ sleeping chamber. Bashar quickly loots the room for valuables. He goes for the chest at the foot of the bed. The chest which held that elven chain shirt that made Marlos so upset when I dared to touch it. As it unfurls, as Bashar lifts it, our hearts stop.
A stone head crashes to the floor. A head we recognize Krausen, the Orc Pickle entrepreneur, our friend and ally. A note from Marlos lays attached to it. It is addressed to us HEROES. The head is a gift he jests. He will pay for all his cruelty and malice. This I promise. The rest of Krausen is laid out with the rest of the broken pieces we saw earlier in the throne room
Nassaug, emotional at the loss of his friends, begins the futile task of gathering the various pieces. I almost want to go and put my hand on his shoulder to reassure him during this wasted task. I stop myself as i notice that Nassaug has gathered every single little piece there is of our friend. With this we can restore him the same way they restored me. Bless Lathander,finally a bit of luck.
We leave this dreadful place and continue our crawl of the black earth temple. For some reason i get the nastiest feeling like we have been here for months. MONTHS!!!!
We arrive to n execution or torture room where a deep gnome is attached to a obelisk in a pit. Four cultist and a priest are doing despicable acts of torture and pain to this defenseless deep gnome. Fendira’s rage is at fever pitch, seeing one of her kinswoman being treated in this way. I try to blast her manacles but only destroy one. Again my luck has been sucked away like the air down here. Drongar leaps and destroys the second manacles with a mighty spark. A crack forms in the obelisk and a black pudding seeps out like blood. The black pudding tries to envelup Drongar but fails. Nassaug, again like I is not as lucky. His clothings corrodes instantly. We defeat the cultist and priest easily and escape before the oozing blackness tries to drown us.
The gnome thanks us and says. She says her name is Rukhelmoth “Rukh” Glitterstone. She was exploring through the underdark, heading through the ancient Drow temple that is now the Fane of the Eye. She was captured and brought up a giant staircase towards the west. She said the elemental cults have an uneasy truce but a truce nonetheless down there. There are many elementals ready to unleash destruction waiting.
Are trek brings to the completion of this god forsaken pile of dung. We find the stairs mentioned by Rukhelmoth as well as another torture room. And the temple was “Cleared” the moment we arrived to the passage leading the fire cult temple (guarded by four eloquent Ogres). We have choices to make.