Ways of the Seven

The Ancient Ziggurat, Part the Third (WIP)

After making their way through the top levels of the temple, encountering a group of lizardfolk guards who were easily dispatched, the party reached the bottom level of the building, which was flooded to a depth of twenty feet but had a large pocket of air filling the remaining space. There were five large pillars emerging from the water, an a massive semicircular staircase seemed to rise from the floor towards a platform. Atop the steps was a massive structure of bone, blood and offal, a nauseous enlargement of the bone shrines the party had witnessed previously in Falconcrest. Before this altar, a large group of lizardfolk, including one of the large blackscale variety, are kneeling in supplication. They see a lizardfolk priestess shrieking in Draconic, the mark of the Seven painted in blood on her broad forehead. Next to her, bound in jungle vines, is Oracius Brunson. They stand beside a round pit ten feet in diameter, from which a terrible stench emerges.

Solovey translates the priestess’ speech: “Behold, kin-scales, the spawn of the Great Nameless Dragons, the blight of the earth made flesh. It hungers for soft-skin meat, and we give unto it, that his blood may salt our altar and his bones go to the great void of Their tomb. For Them, we slay. For Them, we bleed.”

After this, a hideous groaning murmur comes from the pit. The party decides this is the time to strike, and the elves attack first. They silently kill three lizardfolk with surprise slashes to the throat.

Oracius does not see the others approach. His heart pounding, he is overcome by a wave of emotion: rage, fear, desperation. Sudden strength that he has never felt before pulses through his body; claws sprout from his fingers, fur grows on his arm, and with a roar he tears himself free. In shock, he looks at his hands – and sees but soft flesh and fingers. The screaming lizardfolk priestess notices him with a start; without a second thought he leaps at her. The two struggle for a moment before he grabs her.

As Oracius and the priestess struggle, the elves and the party spring into full action, catching the gathered lizardfolk unawares. Shadows burst from Solovey’s fingertips as he envelopes two of the warriors in darkness. Stepping forward, Rhaleban fires a burning curse at a third lizardfolk as Mauryn launches an arrow into the crowd.

The priestess breaks from Brunson’s grasp. As she does, a horrible brown tentacle whips out of the pit and snatches a lizardfolk, dragging it into the pit with a gurgled scream.

The elves press their attack, sinking the blades into one monster and wounding another.

Rhaleban conjures from his rod the fires of Phlegethos onto the large black lizardfolk, coating him with burning sludge.

At that moment, from the pit emerges a hideous barbed tentacle. Gripping the slick stone of the vault, the monster pulled its offal-slicked body from the fetid pit. Its body is the size of a bloated warhorse, with three huge tentacles emerging from its bulk.

Screaming with rage and brushing the burning flames from its body, the blackscale deals a devastating blow to one of the elves, knocking him unconscious and causing him to sink into the murk.

Solovey gestures with his wand and barks an incantation, conjuring a flaming sphere in the midst of the lizardfolk. The blackscale, bleeding from the elves’ swords and badly burned, succumbs to the fiery orb. Satisfied, Solovey moves the fireball onto the tentacled monstrosity.

While the party fought the lizardfolk worshippers, the newly freed Oracius was locked in combat with the priestess who had held him bound. After exchanging blows and bursts of foul magic, Oracius, through a heroic expenditure of energy, toppled the priestess into the very pit that he was to be consigned.

Meanwhile, Rhaleban placed his warlock’s curse on the monster, then unleashed eldritch rains upon the two remaining lizardfolk, killing both.

One of the two remaining elves darted in front of the advancing monster, attacking it but missing. The monster quickly wrapped the hapless elf in its raking tentacles, brought him to its maw, and messily disemboweled him. It tossed aside the mangled corpse and turned to the party.

Just then, Oracius hurled himself off the top of the stairs, leaping towards the back of the monster. He plunges his short sword squarely through the monster’s hideous head, and the beast shudders and collapses.

As the party recovers from the ordeal, amidst the bodies of the fallen lizardfolk, they find a large strongbox nestled in the grotesque bone architecture of the shrine. In it, they find a sum of gold coins and a large black axe designed with a skull motif.



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