D&D Update time! I put it all in one this time.
The party presses forward, Gantar sneaking a look at the next room. Entering cautiously, they see lodgings, sets of bunked beds with small trunks for personal belongings. Bellatrix notices a slight shimmer coming from the rocks, what look to be several arcane symbols lightly glowing in a random pattern on the floor. Moving carefully, Kek picks up a chest and smashes it onto a symbol, bracing for a possible arcane explosion.
Nothing seems to happen as the symbol slowly fades from the rock. They wait for a moment, Gantar dropping a cloak onto another symbol. Again, the symbol burns for a moment before slowly fading. Kek gently steps onto a symbol, his boot warming slightly as the arcane symbol fades.
They move forward, slowly, suspicious that the arcane runes didn’t seem to have any effect. Taking a deep breath, Kek raises his axe and smashes down the door running into what looks like a worship room.
Inside, eight cultists are waiting with weapons drawn as it dawns on Kek that those symbols may have been alarms. Flying into a barbaric rage, he runs toward the nearest cultist, slamming his axe into the man’s chest with a blood-curdling yell. The party follows close behind him, Bellatrix and Constance charging in. Kek is in the thick of it, the cultists doing their best to surround him and push the party back. Elzeni, Gantar, and Aymer push towards the room, the doorway overly crowded with cultists, taking shots whenever they can.
The party slowly pushes into the room, taking down cultist after cultist until on they are standing. They pause, looking around the room while they catch their breath. Pews are lining either side of a red carpet, another obsidian altar, this time flanked on either side by iron braziers. Alcoves line the sides, splattered in blood, flogs hanging from hooks on the sides. Near the back of the room, the wall juts out, hiding what the party discovers to be blood-stained wooden butcher tables. Rusted meat hooks protrude from the stone wall and a sick arrangement of knives sits on a nearby shelf. Elzeni turns her head, using holy fire from Bahamut to burn away the disgusting scene.
As they gather their strength to move on, the ethereal form of a dog walks through the door and sits down outside of it. Kek approaches slowly, centering himself and speaking to the dog using his unique connection with nature and beasts. The dog barks once at him, a message ringing in his mind that the creature is looking for a password. They search the room, looking for anything that might be a password, eventually settling on “ascending.” The dog snuffs and howls, turning and walking through the door.
Uneasy, the group slowly moves into the next room, which appears to be some sort of mess hall with prison cells lining one wall. As they move to investigate further, the door at the other end of the hallway explodes outward, a ball of fire landing in the middle of the party. Brushing off ash, they turn to see what looks like the cult leader, his face a tapestry of scars and symbols. He smiles sinisterly as Kek charges toward him, beckoning the raging barbarian with a finger.
The rest of the group jumps into action, Aymer taking a shot at the leader. Just as his arrow finds purchase, he feels the cold piercing bite of the leader’s dog, the same dog from outside the door. Swinging down at it, he almost trips as his weapon passes through the form. Gantar joins in helping, trying to lure the dog away with an illusion, then hitting it with frost. The dog seems unaffected, standing there but not actually in this plane.
Meanwhile, Kek shaking off the curse the cult leader put on him, grabs the man and chucks him over his shoulder into the room beyond. The leader stands quickly, clapping his hands together and send a thundering blast outward. It smashes into the party, sending them back, Bellatrix’s summoned dire wolves howling as they charge back into the fray.
It’s a bloody fight, the cult leader giving hits as good well as he takes them until at last, falling to one knee, he summons the last of his strength.
“You’re coming with me,” he hisses, glaring at Kek.
With a flash, a fireball explodes from the leader, incinerating his body in a flash, the party jumping back just in time to avoid being destroyed by the man.
They catch their breath for a moment, Bellatrix thanking and dismissing her fey friends. The party moves into the final chamber of the cult’s lair: the leader’s bedroom. Most find coins, a few trinkets, while Bellatrix searches through the leader’s desk. She finds a small vial of healing potion and a journal written in a language she doesn’t speak, quickly taking it to Constance.
“Do you recognize this language?”
“That’s evil,” Constance replies, taking a step back.
“Aye, journal of the leader. Can you read it?”
Constance nods, taking the journal and skimming through it quickly. “There’s a lot in here about their… rituals. Hints to other sects of the cult. I need to take this to my temple.”
Bellatrix nods and moves to investigate the prison cells. Four of them are empty, the last containing a covered shape in the far corner. She tests the door, calling Kek over to smash it. His axe slices through the rusting metal easily, the door swinging open and bumping against the form. Bellatrix turns him over, finding an unconscious young man, maybe 18 years of age. She pours the vial of healing potion down his throat, hoping it isn’t secretly poison. The form coughs and sputters, his eyes opening hazily.
“Wh- where am I?”
“Easy there, lad. You’re in a cult’s lair.”
The boy starts up, pushing as far away from Bellatrix as he can.
“Who- who are you?”
“I’m Bellatrix and this is Kek.”
Kek nods, glaring at the boy. “Are you with this sick cult?”
Bellatrix pushes Kek back. “He’s locked up, you oaf. He’s not with the cult, are you lad?”
The boy shakes his head, eyes wide. Elzeni wanders over, peering into the cell about the commotion, her eyes widening at the sight of Ian.
“Elzeni! You came looking for me?” Ian asks, looking from Bellatrix to Elzeni.
“Of course, Ian. Are you okay?”
“I think so,” he says, nervously looking at Kek and Bellatrix. “Are these friends of yours?”
“New ones, yes.”
“I didn’t think anyone would come looking for me. I mean, how much time is really worth spending on a simple town guard. But you came!”
Elzeni nods, pushing back the guilt of her actions in Caedmon’s tower and handing Ian some bread and water.
“Eat up. We’ll be getting out of here soon.”
“How did you get captured?” Gantar asks.
“They came at night, three of them. I was sleeping one minute, then bound and gagged with a hood over my head the next. When I came to, I was here, in that cell. I recognized the symbol from that cave we cleared out, Elzeni. These are the same guys?”
“It would seem so. Eat now. You’ll need all your strength for the walk back.”
Kek takes out his axe, chopping and burning all the items he can get his hands on, destroying this place of unholy worship best he can.
“I’ll have to talk to the temple,” he says, looking at the altars. “Maybe get some priests down here.”
Emerging from the cave, they see that dawn is breaking across the sea, a beautiful scene despite the darkness of the cult. The trek back to town is long, the party exhausted after a long and tiring night. They stop by Captain Kaldrian’s house, dropping off Ian and telling him to stay safe. He promises to write soon once he’s completely healed.
Gerry greets the party as they pass back through the gate, keeping conversation short on account of how exhausted the party looks. They retire to their respective rooms. As Elzeni opens the door to her room at The Halberd Inn, she sees a familiar figure standing by the window.
Alyn turns, nodding. “Good, you’re back. We have a problem.”
Wish our adventurers luck this Thursday!