Brushing the dust and ash off of themselves, the majority of the party found themselves in a small undergrown cavern next to a hallway of worked stone. Tamar jumped down the cavern to help the party investigate, and in the hallway they found several doors, but Tamar’s keen ears could pick up chanting from one end of the passageway. Tamar and Seraph explored the hallways away from the chanting, finding several living quarters, but at the end of the hallway they found signs of the acid-spewing demons they had fought earlier. Fearing the worst, Tamar and Seraph rushed back down the hallway, only to find the barbarians and their rock-like friend opening the doorway to the chanters. Both quickly hid behind some cover, realizing that their unnoticed presence could be a large asset in the battle that was surely to come.
Sven, Ajax, and Bakura seemed to succeed in calming down the chanters from their intrusive interruption. Sven sat down and began to observe the rest of the service with Ajax standing at his side. Led by the Dragonborn priest Balthazar and six priests, the service had an eerie feeling to it, and felt entirely different from any of the methods of worship currently accepted by the Jewelbearers of Vulcanus, or the priests of any of the other known gods for that matter. Bakura walked out of the room, uninterested in observing or participating the worship service, and closed one of the double-doors behind him. This provided Tamar and Seraph the opportunity to creep closer and peer around the door, and as he was doing so, the sharp-eyed Seraph realized that Balthazar was about to cast some sort of spell in the midst of the incantations, and Seraph yelled “Look out!” Tamar then burst into the room, firing two quick shots at the nearest cultists after a quick scan of the area.
What everyone failed to find, however, was their lurking friend Diarmand, or more importantly, his blade, which soon found its way into the chest of Balthazar. With a scream, Balthazar directed his spell at Diarmand, and several priests swarmed him. Sven, in a noble effort, charged Balthazar and drew some of the attention away from Diarmand, although it may have been too much for him, as he soon collapsed. In a fit of rage, Ajax charged and felled Balthazar, and the party soon triumphed over the rest of the priests. As the party began searching the area, Ajax plunged his hands into the chests of the two men who had felled his barbarian brother and pulled out one of their ribs in a barbaric and gruesome display of trophy-making.
As the party searched the rest of the compound, they found several holy symbols of Vulcanus, and Seraph soon found a small prayer-book in Balthazar’s quarters, which led the party to suspect that the cultists had infiltrated the temple of Vulcanus and were attempting to ensure that Vulcanus’s wrath would be aroused due to the meager offerings. The party decided to lie in wait for the return of these traitors, while Diarmand snuck off in search of answers.
Tamar left the compound along with Bakura and covered the tracks leading to the entrance, while Ajax dragged all of the demons from the ash pit into the cavern, after which he started pulling various skeletal parts from them and fashioned his own set of acid-spewing demon hide, in a rather fantastical manner that is hard to describe. Meanwhile, Diarmand eventually managed to find the burly temple-guard who was on watch the night of the demon attack. As he crept into his bedroom, he began attaching manacles to the bedposts which he had stolen earlier that day. As he enclasped them around the guard’s hands, he woke up, and Diarmand quickly covered his mouth and put his knife to his throat. Diarmand began to explain the game he called “Pain Management”, and the guard soon had little choice but to play. The guard claimed that the arrowhead was in the drawer next to him, but as Diarmand began to secure his feet to the bedposts, he belched fire and a dark scuffle ensued, which resulted in Diarmand being thrown through the window. He eventually returned to the party, battered and bruised, with no arrowhead, but a certainty that the guard was involved in this foul cult. After resting for a day and waiting for the traitors to show up at their secret coven, nothing happened, and the party began to grow restless and discuss other options of how to root out this infestation…
At this time, we would like to take a vote on the title for our next installment. The top submissions have been selected. Please post your votes in the comments for this post. The titles include:
“Going up a level!”
“Diarmand’s lecture: Pain Management for Dummies”
“BOOM! The Magma rising!”
“Giants be warned: We’re going to kill you all kinds of dead!”
“The secret treasure of the Jewelbearers: The shape-shifting underwear!”