Session 7 Notes
The group found themselves still in the chapel, resting from their journey
before heading deeper into the temple. While Fogaban examined the various
trappings within the room, lamenting at the lack of wine in the ancient
barrels, and Kithri gathered her things, Declan, Kor and Mialee discussed
“Is this where we have to do the ritual, or do we need to go deeper into the
temple?" Declan asked.
“Well it would be damned simple if we did it right here, wouldn’t it?” Kor
Mialee spoke impatiently, “We cannot do it here.”
Declan looked at the red liquid in the ceremonial bowl at the foot of the
altar. “Mialee, do you know waht this red liquid at the foot of the altar
“It is blood,” she responded.
“Who’s blood?” Kithri piped up, worried.
“Damn, these are empty,” Fogaban lamented as he tapped on the ancient wine-
“Would you have drank it from in here?” Kithri asked, taking comfort in the
banter with her dwarf companion.
“Anything we haven’t checked in here?” Fogaban asked.
“Maybe there is something where we are headed,” Kithri answered.
Declan continued to study the bowl, trying to remember what this goddess
prefered as tribute. Deciding it was not blood, he carried the bowl to the
out of the temple and dumped the blood into the ground outside. He returned
the bowl and filled it with water, then began to pray for the goddess’
support in their endeavors. As soon as Declan took the bowl out of the
temple, everyone felt as if some of the oppression within the place had been
“Whoa …. that was strange,” Fogaban muttered.
Kithri looked to everyone curiously. Mialee watched the human cleric, a
hint of a frown marring her brow. Kor looked over the metal bars of the
portcullis on the eastern wall.
Mialee watched the barbarian and wondered aloud, "Let us just hope the true
altar is unharmed."
Kithri and Fogaban moved to the porcullis. While Fogaban listened for any
noises beyond, Kithri also examined the bars. "Hmmm…. so that is the
reason we need to go down?"
Hearing nothing, Fogaban turned to his companions. "Are we ready to go on
“I am ready to get this mess over with,” Kor grumbled.
“Yes,” Mialee agreed.
Declan nodded as he left the altar and re-joined his friends.
Kithri listened for strange noises while Fogaban grabbed hold of the bars
and with great strain lifted the bars. The bars lifted over the dwarf’s
head when a catch locked the door open for them.
“Come on through,” the dwarf warrior said proudly.
“Thank you,” Kithri said politely as she led the way through the corridor
and down a staircase beyond.
“Watch for traps,” Fogaban reminded her. Kithri changed her pace to a
stealthy and cautious gait as she continued on. She motioned back to the
others, speaking softly. “So far so good.”
They turned a corner and were faced with a large stone door. The halfling
and the dwarf both investigated the door carefully before grabbing the
single pull ring and pulling it open.
The group entered a long chamber divided by a curtain.
“There’s a fitting room to the south,” Fogaban joked, "you girls want to try
Kithri walked toward the curtains slowly, "And you aren’t peeking behind
“Nooooooooooo … not me,” Fogaban said innocently, holding up his hands.
Kithri sneaked closer to the curtain, hoping to peek through the division at
the center of the curtains. As she reached for the slit, the floor suddenly
gave way beneath her! Fogaban leapt to try and catch her, but she slipped
through his fingers. Fortunately, with her other hand, she was able to grab
the ledge before falling, and climbed up easily. She lay at the edge of the
hole, her hand to her chest. She took a moment to catch her breath while
looking to the others apologetically.
“Temples would make certain their enemies could not find the ‘treasure’ so
to speak," Mialee warned.
Fogaban sighed relief and looked down into the twenty foot empty hole. But
his investigation was interrupted by noises from behind the curtain: the
sounds of drawing steel. The party drew their own weapons.
“Kit… get back,” Fogaban hissed.
Declan likewise warned Mialee. “Mialee, back up.”
Mialee took a couple of steps back while Kithri nodded appreciatively to
Fogaban. “Maybe another trap?”
Fogaban and Kor exchanged looks.
“Rush?” the barbarian asked.
“Noooo ……” the dwarf responded.
Kor nodded while Fogaban slowly struggled to push aside the large heavy
curtain with his shield.
“Why don’t we just go this way?” Mialee asked, pointing to a corridor to
Kor nodded toward the curtain, “And put whatever is there at our back?”
“we don’t know what is back there… it could come after … yes, what he
said," Kithri acknowledged.
The curtains suddenly parted and swished open to the walls of the room,
revealing six bugbears.
“Ohhh look! One for each of us!” Fogaban crowed.
“You can have mine. I’m full,” Declan growled as he charged into the
bugbears ahead of him and smashed his mace against one of their faces. The
bugbear rocked back, but did not fall.
Kithri followed the cleric, her sword and dagger flashing as she struck the
bugbear beside Declan’s target.
Kor was rocked by the morningstar of a bugbear that rushed at him, but
managed to stay on his feet.
Another bugbear rushed at Kithri ans smacked the halfling hard with its
mace, and another rushed to the side of Declan’s target and dealt a glancing
blow to the cleric.
Fogaban jumped into the fray with a roar and hacked at the bugbear that had
struck Kithri. “Hang in there ….. try to keep them bunched up!” he
Kor raised his large sword overhad and cleaved the bugbear in front of him
Mialee pointed her spear at the bugbear that had struck Kithri and muttered
a few words. A crackling sparkle surrounded the bugbear, engulfing it and
ushering it into the abyss.
“Wow! Nice job,” Fogaban said, clearly impressed.
The two bugbears that Kithri and Declan had struck tried to strike back, but
couldn’t connect. Declan responded with another blow to the bugbear in
front of him, eliciting an orcish curse from the monster.
Fogaban tried to block another attack against his halfling friend, but
Kithri still caught a glancing blow from a bugbear. After a grateful glance
at her dwarf companion, Kithri retaliated against the bugbear, turning the
beast into chop suey.
Another bugbear leapt at Declan, slamming its morningstar into the man’s
ribs. Bones crunched and Declan grunted as he felt his ribs cave in.
Kor dispatched another bugbear with his two-handed sword as he fought his
way to his friends’ side.
“Nice swing,” Fogaban commented.
“It is what I do,” Kor replied. “We need ale.”
“Aye!” the dwarf agreed.
Miralee saw the human cleric stager and spoke a soft word. A blue glow
encased Declan and after a clap of thunder, the man rose, feeling much
Another bugbear cursed as he saw the man heal and attempted to strike him
again. Declan brought up his shield, easily blocking the blow and gave
Mialee a grateful nod. He then muttered a prayer of healing for Kithri and
tried to smite the bugbear that had struck at him, but missed.
Kithri, surprised at the sudden surge of health, mistimed her strike and
nearly struck the human beside her instead of the bugbear that had struck
Another bugbear swung and missed the cleric, and Fogaban rushed around,
coming in from the south, and with a mighty swing, eliminated another
Kithri pointed her weapons at the final bugbear. “Don’t bother fighting us.”
Kor rushed in snd swung his blade at the bugbear, but missed.
“This is the one who broke my ribs,” Declan growled. “My turn!” He swung
with all his strength, but the bugbear lifted its shield in time.
Kithri struggled past the three men and managed to scratch the bugbear.
“Wait! Wait! I give! Parlay!” it cried from behind its shield.
Fogaban looked to Declan.
“Speak quickly,” the human snarled. “Why should we spare you?”
“What good are you to us alive?” Kithri sneered.
“What good am I dead?” it asked. "I’ll leave this place. Tell the mistress
the artifact was gone. She’ll be none the wiser!"
“Who’s your mistress?” Declan asked.
“Astraes… but not by choice! Was forced into doing her deeds, I was!”
“Where is she?”
“Do not trust him,” Mialee warned.
“Still just an avatar, her true form hasn’t arrived yet. If I lie to her,
she won’t come looking for you!" the bugbear continued.
“Quiet, woman. This concerns the honor between soldiers,” Declan ordered
“Did you just tell me to be quiet?” she asked, flabbergasted at Declan’s
Kor folded his arms across his wide chest.
“If she’s not in her true form, how would she come after us?” Declan
continued interrogating the bugbear.
“You’ve had dealings with her already…” it muttered.
“The old woman… the gypsy?” Kithri guessed.
“I’m not saying another word unless you promise me my life!”
Mialee’s eyes narrowed to meer slits. Turning, she began to walk up the
“No promise after what you said a minute ago. You better say more,” Kithri
“Then I have no reason to keep you alive,” Declan agreed.
“Then finish it,” the bugbear said, throwing down its morningstar. "Finish
it… and you’ll not know the horrors you’ve already caused."
“Fine, kill him,” Declan said to the group.
Kor looked after the elf, Mialee. “Don’t we need her?”
“Yes,” Declan sighed, “and I owe her an apology.”
Fogaban raised his axe at the bugbear. Kithri muttered to herself as she
stepped back, “The priests of Astraes? … The girl?”
The bugbear dropped to its knees and held its head up. “Justine!”
Kithri nodded, “Yes, that was her name.”
“You left her there,” the bugbear continued in a panic, "to destroy that
town. That was your evil!"
“What do you mean?” Kithri asked.
“Oh no no no, you just want to kill me,” the bugbear moaned, "so get it over
“Thank you for pointing out that the one enemy we spared was a mistake,”
Declan grumbled. “We certainly won’t repeat that one.”
Kithri glaced to the human, “Isn’t she being held though?”
“We’ll worry about that when we get back to town,” Declan said, turning to
the dwarf. "Do you want me to kill him, Fogaban?
“Maybe that’s what she wanted,” Kor pondered, "for us to leave her in Caer
“I have no need for a… a… bugbear,” Fogaban spat.
“I’m not a soldier anymore, and I don’t consider this creature one, either,”
“How long ago did she hire you,” Kithri continued with the bugbear.
“Two weeks ago…” it muttered.
“Did she hire more than the lot here?”
“She has an army… and she means to use it!”
Declan paced impatiently, "Come on, we need to catch up to Mialee before she
wanders into trouble."
Kithri nodded to him and looked to the bugbear. "Be careful Justine doesn’t
learn of your failure. Where is this army?"
“I don’t know. No instruction come until we have the artifact.”
“What else do we need to know?” Kithri asked the others.
Declan smashed his mace into the bugbear’s face, killing it instantly.
“I guess nothing,” Kithri muttered, looking at the body sadly.
Fogaban chuckled, then looked about the room.
“That was probably mercy for the beast,” Kor said.
“Did Mialee go down this hallway?” Kithri asked, motioning toward a hallway on the left of where they’d entered.
“Declan, you may need to go find the lady,” Fogaban suggested.
“Possibly,” Declan said to Kithri. “I need to catch her. And thanks, Fogaban.”
Declan rushed down the hallway, Kithri on his heels. “She said we had to go down,” the halfling reminded him.
The two rushed into a new room. The floor in the center of the round room had been carved out. A wave of heat rushed over them as they neared it. A pool of molten lava filled the room’s center.
“Do you see her?” Kithri asked Declan. “She may have been in a hurrt after … that bugbear and all.”
“And she’s appropriately angered with me,” Declan said, looking around with worry, “I wish we could call out for her.”
Meanwhile, Fogaban and Kor looked about the room with the dead bugbears. It had once been a sleeping chamber, likely ofr the priest of the temple. The furniture had long since deteriorated. The bugbears had already ransacked the room, but apparently hadn’t found anything useful or worthwhile, either. The two men hurried after Kithri and Declan.
“Maybe, being angry, she went the other way!” Kor suggested as he overheard Declan’s comment.
“What’s down here?” Fogaban asked.
“Back upstairs?” Declan asked Kor. “That’s possible. Yes, let’s check upstairs first. That’ll be faster.”
Kithri examined the floor leading deeper into the room. She saw no signs of disturbance in the dust to indicate that anyone had been here in a long time, though the intense heat of the lava didn’t lend to a lot of dust settling anyway.
Declan ran back upstairs and found Mialee in the main chamber of the temple. He sighed with relief and approached her slowly.
“Mialee? I’m really sorry. I know my comment was completely out of line. I was only trying to establish rapport with the creature so we could get the most information out of it. I had no intention of letting it live.”
Mialee turned to him angrily, “Marked one, you spoke to me as if I were less than that creature who tried to kill you. You are the reason they are here!”
She recoiled slightly, regretting instantly her last comment.
The others joined them, but remained back. Kor whistled impatiently as he waited for them to kiss and make up.
“I know I did,” Declan said. “I spoke in the manner I thought would most put the prisoner to my way of thinking. I took advantage of our friendship to try to get information out of the creature.”
Kithri shook her head and wandered back toward Kor, propping herself against the wall.
“lease believe that my respect for you has grown in our time together, and continues to grow. You’ve saved my life and my friends’ lives already. I regret that I was forced to speak to you as if you were baggage,” Declan apologized.
“I will tell you this, marked one, as soon as the piece is collected, I shall be on my way,” Mialee snapped back.
Declan nodded sadly as Mialee walked around him to where the others waited. He followed her quietly.
While Declan and Mialee worked out their differences, Kor and Kithri returned to the pit trap that nearly killed the halfling.
“That would have hurt,” Kor noted.
“I feel bad for not having spotted it,” she sighed.
“It happens when you get relaxed,” the barbarian nodded.
“I figured the threat was just behind the curtain, too.”
“Inside ancient chambers, the threat is all around us. Sometimes… we even threaten ourselves.”
“Next time, instead of pulling on the curtain, we should lift it and let someone look under,” Declan said as he and Mialee met up with the rest.
“I’m not used to curtains…” Kor muttered.
Fogaban grinned and shrugged.
“What do you hang over your windows,” Kithri asked the large warrior.
“A window is a hole that was meant to be. Nothing gets hung over them,” Kor answered.
“Um… okay,” Kithri said dubiously.
“If we survive, we’ll know better next time,” Declan said.
Mialee remained silent, following the others as they returned to the lava pool room.
Kithri smiled to her, then looked at the others. “We are together again.”
Kor nodded, “Yes, let us find this altar and get out of here. I’m uncomfortable down here.”
Declan studied the room, “Think there’s anything in the walls that would try to push us into the lava?”
Kithri looked around the floors and walls, but found nothing. The room was silent except for the bubbling lava.
“Perhaps I can detect something,” Fogaban said, placing his hands on the stone walls. After a few moments of feeling about, “Nope, nothing here.”
Kithri moved toward the corridor on the opposite side of the room and crouched down, examining the area, “There’s a hole here. Don’t move!”
Kor froze in a heroic stance, while the others merely stopped in their tracks.
Kithri’s fingers delicately traced along a strand of wire, looking about to see what trap loomed ahead. She clipped the wire and ducked back from the corridor just as a gout of flame erupted inside the hallway.
“Wow, nice work, Kithri!” Declan complimented her.
After a few moments, whatever fueled the fire dissipated and the corridor cleared up. “There is still a hold here,” Kithri reminded them.
Fogaban grinned to her.
“Is the hole small enough to get around or over? Or do we need to make a bridge?” Declan asked, still standing away from the hallway.
“Yes, its easy to go around, just be careful,” Kithri instructed.
“As you say,” Declan nodded, approaching. He hugged the wall and carefully shifted his way around the hole. Kithri followed.
The emerged from the corridor into an oddly shaped room. The altar they sought was at the far end, between two golden bull statues that stood as silent sentinels. A feeling of dread washed over the party, indicating that the altar had been afflicted with powerful bane spells. The floor was covered in a thin greyish mist.
The rest of the party followed around the hole, with Fogaban calling quietly, “Be careful up there.”
Kor stopped as he entered the altar room, “This is as far as I go.”
Kithri also stopped at the entrance, watching the two clerics while also keeping an eye on the corridor they’d come through. She shifted her weight from foot to foot.
Declan hugged the wall and held his breath as he moved through the mist toward the altar. Mialee hugged the opposite wall and also approached the altar.
“Ohhh man … I’ve felt better after a three week drunk,” the dwarf muttered uncomfortably.
Declan stopped in front of the nearest bull, examining it carefully for any openings that might indicate traps.
“Alright, work you magic joo joo,” Fogaban suggested.
Declan approached the altar, then looked back at the dwarf. “Sorry, this is out of my league. I’ll have to defer to the priestess.”
Mialee frowned, feeling the evil that encased the area. Walking up to the altar, she drew her holy symbol from her shirt.
Declan held onto his own holy symbol. “If I can help in any way…”
“It must be cleaned,” Mialee muttered, barely acknowledging the human.
“I don’t have any holy water…” Declan said weakly.
Stepping up to the altar, Mialee laid a hand upon it. She began to speak words of a prayer as Declan backed out of her way. As her hand pressed down on the altar, what sounded like a thousand screams echoed from the lava pit room.
Kithri cringed and looked down the corridor.
Mialee continued her prayer, her voice growing stronger. A black mist swirled up from the altar, and then the screams stopped suddenly and the mist flew out of the room. A figure began to materialize over the altar.
“Gods, please let that be the worst of it,” Declan muttered in prayer, while Kithri and Fogaban waited for the other shoe to drop.
Mialee placed her other hand upon the altar and continued her prayer. The ghostly figure laid a spectral spear upon the altar, looked over each of the group, then disappeared. A hidden drawer on the altar slid open to reveal the sword hilt they’d come to collect. Mialee stumbled back from the altar as her prayer ended and dropped to her knees.
Fogaban stepped back and Kor looked around wildly. “Okay, let’s go!”
Declan moved to help Mialee to her feet. Kithri saw Declan helping Mialee, so she obeyed Kor’s command and headed back up the corridor.
“Get the piece…” Mialee groaned as she rose to her feet. Declan reached past her and picked up the hilt.
As soon as he touched the hilt of the legendary weapon used by Tamara’s kings, the ground beneath them began to quake. Rubble began falling from the ceiling and cracks appeared along the walls. The whole place seemed to be falling apart!
“Can you run?” Decal asked her.
Mialee grabbed the spectral spear from the altar, “Yes, but you must get out!”
“You first, I’ll follow you. And mind the hole!”
“Go! You have the mark,” she insisted.
“You first, mark be damned!” Declan shouted.
They began to run and Declan stumbled. Mialee turned back to help him. They were smacked with rubble and splashed with lava as they chased their friends through the temple. Both muttered healing prayers to stave off the worst of it.
Fogaban shouted “Hurry” from the safety of the staircase to the main level.
Declan felt his armor heating up to cook his insides. He held out the artifact to Mialee, “Take it and get out!”
“I cannot!” she insisted, pulling him further. “You have the mark of the phoenix!”
“Then give it back after I burn up and come back.”
“Just come on!”
Mialee continued dragging him. He owed her still.
The pair of them were burning alive, the walls coming down and the flames rising higher. They had to leap from safe stone to safe stone over a sea of fire.
“We can’t just leave them down there,” Fogaban shouted as Kithri looked back with worry. Kor looked from where he and Fogaban and Kithri waited safely to their two friends struggling to catch up.
“Go, just go, Declan!” Mialee begged.
“Both or neither!” Declan shouted, pushing her further.
“I’m going to go see if I can help!” Fogaban insisted.
“It’s suicide!” Kor argued. “They’ll make it!”
The fire was burning through their footwear as they traded healing spells on one another.
“I hear them coming!” Fogaban said.
“Hurry up,” Kor encouraged them.
“We need you,” Kithri called. “Hurry!”
The two kept one another on their feet as they neared the final staircase where their friends waited. Worried he wouldn’t make it, Declan pulled the hilt from his armor and threw it up the stairs. They both stumbled onto the staircase, spent, and were practically dragged up the stairs by their friends.
Mialee and Declan were practically unconscious as their friends cooled them off and tended their wounds.
Kor looked out the front doors, then pulled them shut again. “We can rest here… Did you get the artifact?”
“I am so glad you are alive,” Kithri said.
Declan picked up the sword hilt from where he’d thrown it and offers it to Kor. Kor reached for the hilt, but as soon as he touched it, he was thrown back against the wall.
Kithri looked shocked, “What happened?”
Kor shook his head and sat up against the wall. “I don’t know, but I’m not touching that thing again.”
Mialee stated, “Ther eis only one who may hold the pieces.”
Kithri thought this confirmed why everyone trusted Declan to hold the party loot until it could be divided properly.
“Why is he the only one who can touch it?” Kor asked.
“They said onle one… human?” Kithri asked.
“I will let him explain,” Mialee said.
“Feeling better?” Fogaban asked Declan.
“Mialee said you would be explaining why only you can touch the hilt,” Kor said.
“I have no idea,” Declan said. “She keeps calling me the marked one, that I have some mark of the phoenix… but I don’t know what that means.”
“You don’t recall?” Kithri asked.
“My shoulder still hurts…” Declan complained. Though all of the burns seemed to have soothed, his shoulder still burned terribly. He removed his torso armor.
“It sounds like you shall be the human who can wield the sword. You have to get better,” Kor commented.
Mialee leaned back against the wall and rested.
Beneath his armor, all looked well, except for a hole burned into the back of Declan’s shirt around the left shoulderblade. The burn appeared to continue into his flesh. He poured some water over his shoulder, but it didn’t seem to help.
“No, the emperor can wield the sword,” he hissed through the pain.
“Only the heir to the throne held the mark of the phoenix…” Kor reminded him.
“I am not the heir. Don’t be ridiculous,” Declan responded impatiently.
“But you can touch it, and Kor cannot,” Kithri pointed out.
“Maybe I can until it gets to the rightful owner,” Declan speculated.
“So … there is something unique about you,” Kor said.
The water sizzled on Declan’s burn, and when the steam cleared, there appeared very clearly a bird-like etching made by fire on his shoulder.
“That is one strange mark on your shoulder,” Fogaban indicated.
Mialee listened quietly, her eyes still closed.
“That burn mark … it looks like a … well … a … bird.”
“A phoenix,” Kor corrected.
“Yeah… what Kor said,” Fogaban agreed.
“What?? This damn hilt is marking me until we find the rightful owner?” Declan lamented.
“Do we need to find out from Talynx or … through Mialee?” Kithri asked.
“Didn’t Talynx say Mialee would know?” Kor queried.
As Declan looked at Mialee, she piped up, “You had the mark way before then. Why do you think Talynx glared at you?”
“I thought it was because he thought I was a priest to gods he doesn’t respect. I am not the emperor! I never had a mark on my shoulder before.”
“The mark was there,” Mialee insisted. “I saw it through your armor.”
Kor suggested, “Maybe the hilt is a catalyst. Maybe you couldn’t see the mark until you put your hand on an item of legend?”
“There is a reason why all this is happening,” Kithri said. “We need to find the other pieces… you are going to stop the feast.”
“Well, it’s all a lie. I’m Declan Vandross, a former soldier. I am no nobleman or heir to any nobleman. But yes, we need to get the other pieces, then I’ll give this sword to the real person, and then we can move on.”
“That is twice now you insult me,” Mialee glared at Declan.
“I don’t mean to insult you. You’ve just made a mistake about me. I’m nothing special, except I have a knack at surviving.”
“Imagine that,” Kor grinned.
Mialee scoffed and slowly her eyes closed to rest.
“It’s a curse! You think I like surviving while the others I fought alongside died?” Declan shouted angrily.
“If anyone else did that, what would you say about them?” Kithri asked.
“I pray for the answer every night. Why me and not those who had families that cared for them? And if it turns out that I survived to be some fake emperor…” Declan trailed off.
Kor laughed, “I’d say ‘Lucky bastard!’ and have a drink.”
“You are fake?” Kithri asked Declan.
Declan turned his back on all of them, sulking.
“Let him rest… It is a bit much to take in all at once,” Kor said.
“I guess it will just take time,” Kithri nodded.
“Kor’s human, let him be emperor,” Declan grunted.
“No, I am Korthul,” the barbarian corrected him.
“Maybe he’ll start imagining himself as the emperor and then grow into it,” Kithri suggested.
“Emperor is a bit much at first. The Kingdom has sat without a king for over two centuries. It starts there…and for that to happen, it means driving out the Torgan,” Kor retaliated.
“Well … right now .. I’m just glad he’s not … dead,” Fogaban said.
Kithri nodded, “I feel there is more hope now. Hope in finding the pieces and stopping the feast.”
The party decided to set up camp one more night in this temple. The other pieces would wait another day.