Buried Secrets

Chapter 18: The Horrors Beneath the Temple

After their horrible defeat, the heroes spent two days resting before attempting a rescue mission. They re-entered the secret temple to Tiamat, and found the rooms they had explored initially were still empty.

Moving deeper into the dungeon, they found a torture chamber that appeared to be specially designed to torture metallic dragons. The scaled skins of three such small dragons were still present as grisly trophies. Suddenly, the skins lurched towards them, animated by the foul power of undeath!

The heroes defeated the foul remnants, using some of the devices in the chamber in a gruesome parody of its original function. They explored the nearby chambers and found the corpse of a gnome who was likely the chief torturer … many of the devices had small ladders next to them that would match his height. It appeared his victims had taken their revenge when he slept.

At the next level downwards they found a great library. A ghostly apparition appeared to them. It explained that in life it was a cultist of Vecna who had infiltrated the Tiamat cult to steal its secrets. When he was ready to flee, he tried to convince another cultist whom he had fallen in love with to flee with him. Both gods were angered by the unfaithfulness of their followers, and they were both slain and returned in undead form – she as a tomb guardian, he as an enigma of Vecna. The spirits remained, and begged the heroes to help.

The heroes began working on the puzzle box that was key to obtaining their freedom. While Ragnar did this, the bodies of the lovers reanimated, and Batal and Elzin had to keep them at bay. Eventually, Ragnar succeeded in opening the trapped box and destroying the stone that tethered their souls to the room. As the ghosts departed, the librarian pointed out ritual books that might be of special interest to Ragnar.

The heroes proceeded to the bottom floor. Seeing an altar of Tiamat seemingly unguarded, they were very suspicious and chose to withdraw and rest in town. The next day they returned. As they neared the water, beneath the surface they saw the spirits of all the innocents sacrificed by the Temple. Above them a horrific ghost appeared to be vomiting water and blood, crawling along the ceiling. It ordered the other ghosts to attack!

While the heroes did battle with the spirits, the room came alive, with the stone dragon heads that lined the walls periodically spitting out elemental attacks. Suspecting that this was tied to the altar, Batal brought his axe down in a mighty arc, smashing the altar in two. While the altar was composed of stone, blackish blood oozed out of the crack. Afterwards, his axe demonstrated new bloodthirsty properties it had not shown previously.

After defeating the ghosts, the party saw a magical portal enshrouded in mists beyond the altar, and a statue to Demogorgon. Thinking this statue out of place, they explored it and discovered a secret door to a vast treasure hoard beyond! Carefully closing the door again, they plunged into the portal…

… they emerged in a snowy crater, with biting cold all around them. Moving out of the crater, they saw plains beyond, with mountains on either side of the range and a tower in the far distance. But what plains! Pools of liquid lightning, rocks that floated in the air, and blizzard that rained ash and ice.

They had just stumbled into the Elemental Chaos. And the portal appeared to be one-way…

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