Characters: Tienarth/Tre, Ferris/Henry, Azrak/Nick, Ghevont/Jeff, Nebula/Audrey
The next morning, Azrak went off to fetch his rope and the rest went to visit the temple. There they were met by Philbert, the high priest. When Ferris mentioned their purpose and that they were sent by Lah, the priest took notice. He dismissed Lah as an old man poking his nose in others’ business. He also denied that there’d been any disappearances. Nebula was suspicious. Ghevont tried to tamp down her surliness, but eventually the priest insisted she leave. In the end, the party decided that while something was fishy, they had no proof of anything.
Back at The Iron Knight, the inn in which they were staying, they met a scholar at dinner who confirmed people going missing and added that he thought it all started soon after the priests at the temple returned from a mission to a nearby town, Tosasth, which had been inhabited for 153 years since a plague killed all residents. The priests had sought to care for the unburied dead whose bones still lay in repose in crumbling houses. Maphol the scholar was petrified of clerics in general, not trusting the source of their magical abilities. When Azrak questioned the veracity of the tale, he suddenly became nervous and excused himself.
Later that evening, Ghevont sought out the library where Maphol toiled and called after him. A few more details were conveyed about the ghost town, but not much more. Maphol could only suggest further investigation. Presently, the party hatched a plan. Ghevont was to request sanctuary at the temple overnight, accompanied by an invisible Ferris by way of Tienarth’s spellcasting.
Philbert accepted the request and led Ghevont to a meditation chamber furnished only with a reed mat where he was expected to pray and sleep. Ghevont and Ferris prepared themselves to remain awake through the night. Around midnight, two acolytes burst into the room, to no surprise of Ghevont who whirled and cast a spell to hold off the intruders. One of the acolytes stood stiffly. Ferris leapt upon the other. But this acolyte spoke a vile incantation and Ferris was gripped by all-consuming fear. Moments later he fled out the doors of the temple. Ghevont and the acolyte traded blows and the acolyte crumpled to the floor in a pool of blood.
Seeing Ferris bolt from the temple, Tienarth and Nebula and Azrak rushed in. Tienarth stepped beside Ghevont as Philbert came down the hallway. Philbert seemed to contemplate next move, then he seemed to consider Tienarth little threat and swung his mace and missed. The next moment, Ghevont again froze his foe in place. Soon after, the two living priests were tied up.
Meanwhile, a search of Philbert’s quarters turned up an odd page of poetry entitled Ode to a Deer. The party puzzled over the gibberish for some time. It being incomprehensible, they woke the priests and a brief interrogation began.
The high priest was defiant but willing to declare his allegiance to the abyss. He spoke of a mistress below. The acolyte seemed to awake from a stupor and professed intense guilt over terrible deeds in the name of the mistress who he explained was in the basement of the temple. Ghevont sent Ferris, who’d recovered from fear by now, to fetch the sheriff.
The sheriff arrived with two guards. He took the priests into custody and approved of the plan to search out the basement for a terrible horror that must lurk there. The party descended stairs and soon found themselves in a wine cellar filled with giant rats. The rats dispatched, the party turned to explore past two other doors.