Epic night! Using sinkholes and fireballs, the Army of the Light causes the complete collapse of the Grand Temple of the undead god Nergal. A rot pudding brings two characters to death’s door. Acolytes of Orcus and their undead bodyguards are vaporized by a fireball!
This was a night that I won’t forget soon! After the last adventure taking place in early January, the Army of the Light took three more months off to recover sanity from their previous undead encounters, as well as wait for the snow to melt as spring made its way to the Duchy of Aerik. They made their way to the Barrowmaze under rainy spring conditions and entered the Barromaze to visit an unexplored area. As they were passing by the Grand Temple of Nergal (where they had previously destroyed and closed the Pit of Chaos which had been spewing forth monsters from other realms), they noticed that their was a bar across the double doors where renovation work was being done. The Pit of Chaos may have been destroyed, but the Cult of Nergal was clearly trying to maintain their presence. The druid was having none of it. He cast two well placed open sinkhole spells, one in the midpoint between the west pillars, and one at the midpoint between the east pillars. The west sinkhole fell down 20 feet, and the east 10 feet. The three pillars in each area fell toward each other and then fell inward to where the Pit of Chaos previously was (it had since been covered over with paving stones with artistic representations in remembrance of the once great pit). Without these six nearly five foot diameter pillars holding up the 30 foot ceiling, the ceiling steadily began crumbling from above. This was still not enough, so with everyone safely outside, a fireball was launched at the center of the ceiling directly above where the center of the Pit of Chaos previously sat. That was just what they needed to finish the job, there was an immense roar as massive chunks of the entire ceiling of the chamber collapsed into the room. The group was just barely able to close the doors in time to avoid boulders tumbling out into the grand hall.
With that accomplished, they headed to the west in a new section of the dungeon and entered a chamber where purple moss was found on the ceiling emanating a sweet smell which began to lull characters to sleep. The monk jumped on the druid’s shoulders and with a torch and burned it all up, leaving just burnt, brown, dried-up plant fragments drift down from the ceiling like confetti. As that was finished they heard the sound of something beneath the floor of the northwest corner. This alerted the rogue to a pit trap at that location and clearly something was trying to climb up from inside the covered area. Activating it caused the trap door to fall down as well as the occupant. Looking down they saw that it was the undead form of a former adventurer – Bjorn, of the Norse Whispers adventuring party. They had met him over a year before when the Norse Whispers turned on the Army of the Light in the dungeon. The Norse Whispers were defeated in that battle, with only Bjorn surviving. He was brought back to the town of Helix and nothing was heard from him after that. Cobalt, the paladin, now used his winged helmet to fly into the pit and destroy the undead adventurer, discovering that at some point Bjorn must have fallen in and died with some loot, for his backpack was filled with nearly 300 gp.
As they were finishing this up, an undead rushed in from a nearby corridor with white, tightened skin and sharp fingernail-like claws. Gorgat, the barbarian was alert enough to not be surprised by this and successfully intimidated it. This caused it to miss with its attack intended for the monk and the group proceeded to pummel it with magical weapons and spells. As the piercing black points of light that shown out of its eyes began to fade, the clerics could see black, negative energy poor forth from its body, and they realized that if this creature would’ve succeeded in its attacks, that the negative energy would’ve drained from them their life memories and experiences; this was their first major encounter with a level-draining Wight, and they had succeeded in defeating it without getting touched – they were very lucky!
Examining the chamber they came to a locked door. Opening it up a giant pudding made up of rot – rotting flesh, bone and flesh pieces, and once living detritus – was awaiting them. Balthazar, the wizard, tried to shocking grasp it, but it was immune to the electrical attack and by touching it he contracted a deadly disease! Magical bludgeoning weapons pummeled it and magical missiles pierced it. The onslaught caused it to collapse and the group chose to burn it to ensure its death. That was successful. However, the gas emitted by rotting corpses it had devoured had ben building up inside the pudding, and when the heat of the thrown torches and burning hands touched it, the gas sprayed out of its dying body and the cleric Kyron and the Elven cleric/wizard Llewellyn inhaled the nasty results. As clerics they could both tell that this was a disease that could kill them. Cobalt tried to cure disease as well as Llewellyn. The Elf succeeded in his check (it had a high challenge level), but Balthazar and Kyron failed their saves. They broke out in profuse sweating, their movement was halved, and they could only attack every other round.
They knew they needed to leave and get back to Ironguard Motte soon. But they discovered a hidden doorway in this room. Deciding to open this one last door before leaving, they found a funerary box and two amphora with snake depicted on it. Immediately upon opening the box they could hear snake sounds as cobras made of shiny metal emerged from the top of the amphorae. The bard immediately went to work with fascinate, and while he had the metallic cobras charmed, Gorgat, the barbarian, pulled out the funerary box and the other members closed the secret door sealing the snakes back inside the secret chamber. When opening the funerary box Balthazar, the wizard, noticed some magical shimmering on the open doorway from which they had entered the rot pudding room. It was some invisible barrier. He tried without success to dispel magic. So Llewellyn used shatter on the wall next to the door to weaken it and with sledgehammers in hand, they began pounding down the wall next to the door. Balthazar worked out that a wall of force had been erected, but fortunately, slowly bashing down the stone wall next to it was allowing them to bypass it.
However, all these sinkholes, fireballs, and shatter spells that had been going off created a massive amount of noise and an easy path to trace for those nearby, and through a 2 foot by 2 foot hole that had been made in the wall beside the door with the wall of force, the group saw clerical Acolytes of Orcus in black chain armor with skeleton bodyguards approaching. Everyone could see through the open door with the wall of force, and when the acolytes asked “are you the ones who destroyed the Grand Temple of Nergal?” (the Church of Nergal happens to be the main competitors to the Cult of Orcus in the Barrowmaze), they heard a “yes” from Balthazar, immediately followed by Llewellyn launching an acid arrow through the 2 foot opening, and seconds later another fireball was launched! The acidic arrow brought one acolyte to his knees, but the fireball blew right through his abdomen, sending pieces of his body in every direction. An acolyte just next to him was blasted into the wall, two other acolytes tumbled to the side, and a half dozen skeletons were blown into smithereens! The next round a magic missile took out one of the remaining prone acolytes, and the last acolyte grabbed his remaining skeletal escorts and yelled “Get Out!” and he fled with his undead minions. The group finished breaking through the wall and found the corridors on their way out of the Barrowmaze empty.
With Balthazar and Kyron at half movement due to the rot pudding disease, they only made it to the town of Helix before nightfall. The clerics could tell that the two had perhaps 24 hours to live unless the disease could be removed. But they had battled a powerful monster indeed, and a cure disease was not by itself enough to remove the affliction, it required the spellcaster to make a spellcaster check to truly bring the force and power of it’s deity and their divine magic to succeed in eliminating it (otherwise it just delayed the suffering and death). Unfortunately, the challenge class was high, and the cleric was failing his checks. Local adventures of St. Luther – a paladin named Sir Brock Dragonbane, and a cleric of St. Luther named Brother Binford came to assist, but most of their spellchecks failed and it was only with death a few hours away as their bodies were racked with this deadly disease causing their bodily organs to fail, that Kyron and Balthazar barely survived. Kyron would now need a week of complete bedrest, and Balthazar would need three weeks of undisturbed bedrest. They survived, but it was hit-or-miss!