Return to Greyhawk – Ep. 27: The Forgotten Temple

Kneeling, Kallic reaches out to the mass of chains, and the spirit taps his hooks near a small opening in the intricate floor design. The opening fits the shape of the black stone, and Kallic inserts the stone in the opening. At the moment the stone clicks into place, the entire structure seems to come to some dark life. Stone grating, chains rattling, and a low thump vibrates through the halls. The group jumps in shock as from around Nilly’s neck, the pendant gifted by Queen Yolande explodes into dust. Black, smoky tendrils begin to snake through the room and corridors, moving slowly and lightly touching the party as the group feels itself weaken. Everyone, that is, save for Kallic.

A deep, guttural voice tells the party to prepare themselves for an audience with the Chained God, and that they will know his will. The chain-bound avatar folds in upon itself and disappears. Merrick begins to panic a bit as Nilly tries to rouse Kallic, who has fallen into a trance. Archelaus quizzes Borkat on the temple, and he remarks that the grinding sound was likely the passage closing behind the group. Nilly moves to grab the black stone, and that snaps Kallic back to reality. He warns Nilly not to grab it, and she pushes back, telling him to take it himself and to get moving. Elara tells Alesa that they need to leave as soon as they can, as she moves forward to try and locate an exit.

In the hallway are a few doors and at the far end stands a bowl on a pedestal, flanked on either side by two dark apparitions. Archelaus, Elara and Alesa move down the hall and as they near the door closest to the bowl, one of the apparitions springs to life. It materializes a small black blade, appears to cut its’ own hand and hold it over the bowl. As this occurs, another thrumming pulse vibrates through the halls and everyone is struck by a powerful wave of dark energy, injuring the party and nearly dropping Elara to her knees. Once again, Kallic is unaffected. As she recovers, Elara remarks aloud that this place is killing her, and that they need to get out. Opening a door to the right, she reveals another chamber with a similar bowl on a pedestal and glowing runes etched into the floor around it.

Nilly, Merrick and Kallic stand with Borkat in the main chamber, and with three of them weakened by the pulse of energy, Nilly moves toward a door on the far right of the room. Merrick and Kallic follow, and as she approaches the door, she looks to Kallic to open it. He does, and steps into a hallway with some glowing blue lines etched into the floor.

Down the hall, Archelaus moves further into the side chamber from the hallway, and sees that the bowl is set on a table, again surrounded by a circle of inset runes, which glow with a blue light. A small door in the right wall opens slowly on inspection, and the connecting room appears to be a bedroom or bed chamber of sorts. The temple pulses again, and another wave of energy passes through the party. The dark, smoky tendrils swirl around each party member, Elara taking the worst of it. In agony, she cries out for her brother!

Realizing that the pulses appear to be causing pain to everyone but him, Kallic suddenly hears his sister’s pained cry and bolts past Nilly and Borkat, as Merrick follows through the main chamber and into the long hallway. Elara is on her knees, being tended to by Alesa. As she reaches for Kallic, he meets her grasp and touches her hand with the stone. On contact, the stone causes Elara to recoil as a black mark burns into the back of her hand and streaks down her forearm. Seeing the harm he’s caused, Kallic tries to bargain with Tharizdun by calling out with his mind, but silence is his only answer. As he begins to panic, Kallic sees the bowl and the spirits acting out their pantomime, and drips his own blood into the bowl, triggering a wicked vision of violent retribution against a long-time foe. The party members present watch in surprise as Kallic acts out this horrible attack on an unseen victim.

Back in the far hallway, Bree and Borkat continue to explore, and find a large door marked with another ancient Suel message. Bree attempts to open the door, and upon grabbing the handle, another pulse emanates from the temple and the dark smoky tendrils rise further from the floor. As Bree and Borkat double over in pain, the rest of the party suffers yet another blow to their life force, as they weaken and slump. Kallic remains unfazed, however. Merrick tries to restrain him, but Kallic slips free easily. Archelaus helps Elara from the floor while Alesa examines Kallic, who appears deep in thought. Reaching out once again with his mind, Kallic attempts to contact Tharizdun to bargain for his friends’ lives, but receives no answer. Desperately, Merrick attempts to knock Kallic out with the hilt of his blade, connecting hard but causing only a momentary daze. Alesa decides to do the same as Kallic, and cuts her hand, causing a few drops of blood to fall into the pedestal bowl. She experiences a similar vision as Kallic, seeing herself strike down a former rival at her childhood school. As she experiences this, another pulse cuts through the temple. As the dark smoke wafts higher, Elara cries out and falls back to her knees, while the group continues to suffer.

Archelaus runs to get Nilly and Borkat, while In the far hallway, Nilly casts Shatter on a nearby locked door to no avail. As Archelaus finds Nilly, he examines the locked door on her behalf and finds it is not magically locked. Nilly and Archelaus decide to try to find an exit near their location. Nilly pushes open the closest door and finds a large library, shelves filled with ancient, dusty books. A black humanoid vapor floats among the rows of shelves. Closing the door, Nilly moves up the hallway to another door, pushing it open to find a square room with what appears to be windows framed into the walls. Looking closer, the windows appear to show views of other locales; Archelaus sees the ruined temple above the group as orcs gather the bodies of the fallen elves and pile them up like cordwood. Nilly, however, finds herself looking at a pale desert and the image of a city buried in ash. The final window shows what appears to be a ruin sunken deep into a dark, foreboding swamp. Nilly tries to enter the ash window, and Archelaus stops her. She reaches for the opening, and her hand is clearly stopped dead as these are simply viewports, not portals. Placing her hand in a palm-shaped impression on the sides of the frame, the window view shifts to either the left or right, allowing Nilly to see more of the landscape.

Meanwhile, Elara uses all her strength to get back on her feet and plead with her brother for her life and his. Going further into a panic, Kallic pushes open a nearby door and finds a chamber filled with sarcophagi. Another inscription instructs to pay homage, and a specter appears in a runed circle. Merrick attempts to defend the group, but to no avail. Kallic kneels in the circle, and more specters rise from the sarcophagi, then bow and dissipate. Kallic stands and moves to the southern door, pushing it open in a rush. A long room stretches out before them, with chests bound in chain along the walls and a pedestal with a bowl in the middle. Suel runes etched into the floor surround the pedestal, and Alesa translates the runes for Kallic – bathe in the waters and dress yourself in black to prepare. Kallic dips his hands into the water, and pours the liquid over his head, triggering another vision. As Kallic looks around, he sees his friends hacked and covered in blood; a visceral, terror-inducing sight. Kallic recoils from them, moaning in terror as the vision fades, and his friends appear normal again. Opening one of the chain-wrapped chests, Kallic finds black robes inside. He pulls one out and dons it, and as he does, the temple shakes and the black tendrils rise yet again. Elara’s knees buckle and she falls, wracked with pain. Alesa follows suit with Kallic, washing in the bowl and suffering the same bloody visions. She then dons one of the robes from the chest as well.

At a full run, Kallic rushes back through the washing room, through the sarcophagi and back to the room with the cup and pedestal that Elara initially discovered. Alesa catches up quickly and reads the runes around the cup, stating that Kallic must drink the wine and prepare to worship. Elara pleads a final time with her brother, sensing that her death may be at hand. As Kallic drinks the wine, Elara clasps him in a desperate hug, then pulls the Deck of Many Things from her pouch, stating aloud that she draws three cards! Time seems to stop as the deck animates, and three cards draw themselves from the deck. The first card turns, and an ornate throne is revealed. The second card turns, and an elaborate, elven-made bow clatters to the floor next to Elara. Finally, the third card turns and a wizened face appears on the card. The three cards spin in the air, then return themselves to the deck. As Elara stands there, deck in one hand and bow in another, the temple pulses once again. The black tendrils rise and as her breath escapes her lips, Elara disappears into the dark vapors.

Moments later, Merrick chokes, spasms then falls to the floor. In the library, Nilly staggers and drops lifeless into the mist. Archelaus twinges in pain for a moment, bends down to pick up Nilly and heads north to find the others. Alesa finds herself unaffected, watching her companions fall to the floor as Kallic feels a surge of power. The moment passes quickly however, as Alesa quickly drinks from the goblet herself and Kallic drops to the ground, feeling around for his sister. Alesa grabs the goblet, finding Elara’s form and trying desperately to make her drink it. She calls Kallic to her side, and seeing his sister’s cold countenance, he falls to his knees. As Archelaus enters the room with Nilly on his shoulder, Kallic scoops Elara’s body into his arms and stands. Alesa directs Archelaus to drink from the goblet, as Kallic sobs into his Elara’s hair, the black stone tumbling from his palm to the mist below.

The scene fades to black, then fades in on the forms of Merrick, Nilly and Elara standing in a burning, hellish landscape made of rock and shifting chains. They look to each other in surprise as in the distance, the enormous form of Tharizdun, the Chained God shrieks in rage…

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