Skulls of Gomorgh

The Unearthed Temple (Part 1)
The party ventures into the unearthed temple

Setting out from Knife’s Edge the party ventured into the recently unearthed temple. Townsfolk had spoken of a strange light and unearthly moaning from inside the temple. Booger had even heard of a great treasure some thought may lay inside.

Krastas didn’t like the looks of the strange darkened sky around the temple. Booger recognised a trap built into the heavy stone door. After a semi-successful attempt to thwart the trap by clogging it with rations, Booger let the others take over. Thaddius and Autis worked together to heft the door open while keeping the temple from caving in on their heads.

The temple angled down into the earth. It was traversable but crumbling and sloped enough that it may cause trouble if things get hairy, especially in the main hall, though perhaps not so much in the two chambers that led off it through rotten wooden doors.

Directly ahead of them, light shone through the edges of a heavy stone trapdoor. Flames could be heard crackling below. Ashen tracks and claw marks in the wooden doors told Krastas that two types of creatures had been here, and recently.

Carvings on the temple walls made it clear to Autis that some sort of cult had workings here, perhaps an ancient misguided sect of his own god Savra. It showed an elf from long ago being burned in flames for her dark old magic, yet she rose again.

It seems a following formed around her and she began bringing others back, too.

Eyes wide, Krastas realised that some childhood stories he’d heard may not be stories after all. While not identical, the carvings Autis was explaining told a story very similar to that of Gomorgh the Mountain Witch. Tales of Gomorgh are told to Steppe Elves to keep them from meddling in dark and ancient magic.

Venturing into a side chamber the party found five sarcophagi on a raised platform surrounding a brazier filled with ash. One of the sarcophagi was opened and the ashen embalmed mummy within began to move.

Taking quick action the party attacked, Thaddius leading the charge, shield-bashing the undead creature back as it shot a hand out, turning his shoulder’s skin to ash. Golden eagles, the current form of Krastas’ magic missiles, dove in to finish the mummy… as four more emerged.

Booger launched off Autis’ back, through the air and landed daggers-first on one of the creatures. Dangling there, he was quickly embraced by the ashen thing as it withdrew into the sarcophagus again, along with the trapped halfling.

Joining the fray, Autis smashed in the head of one of the newly emerged undead, thoroughly destroying it. Yet, the ash he inhaled from the dusted skull felt wrong in his lungs, as if it were changing him. Calling upon Savra’s magic to draw the ash from his lungs and into his mace, also shrouded with Savra’s power.

Meanwhile, inside the sarcophagus Booger forgot his normal language and began to understand – and speak with – the creature holding him captive. It said that its kind just wanted to rest in the sarcophagi, but had been woken recently. It spoke of the Burning Ones below and said that they were the true threat. Booger agreed to tell his companions this information and to stop them from killing the rest of the ashen mummies.

Released from the sarcophagus, Booger shouted what he had learned… but his voice came out in unintelligible and strange whispers, like that of the undead creatures. Krastas put two and two together and told the others to stop, staying Autis’ mace with his staff.

Yet Autis held his ruby red lizard skull aloft and repelled Savra’s enemies – any creatures whose souls had been kept in the world too long or called back after their death – and the undead fled.

Thaddius wasn’t having any of it either, being on a divine Quest to purge this temple of all things related to Gomorgh. He pursued and destroyed the last two undead, but not before the one who’d spoken to Booger called out that the Burning Ones were coming.

Booger, taking the fiery-red gems from the eyes of a mummified dog at the bottom of the sarcophagus, reverted back to his normal speech, yelled a warning of “They’re coming!” and closed himself back into the sarcophagus.

In the few brief moments of respite, Autis and Krastas surveyed the chamber and noticed that the carvings here had been vandalised to put down the fire aspects of Gomorgh and embrace the ashen side. It appears that when brought back by Gomorgh the risen either burn brightly and turn to ashen undead like those in this room or continue burning and become fiery undead as Gomorgh intended, enemies of the ashen ones.

One last piece of information was discovered as Autis saw, etched into the brazier, a reference to “Skulls of Gomorgh”, plural. It’s unclear what this means, but perhaps the skull seen in carvings earlier is not the only one.

There was no more time to think on this as the sound of the stone trapdoor from the main hall slamming open boomed out, echoing in the little chamber. Indeed, they are coming.

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The Unearthed Temple (Part 2)
The party confronts a mage and burning skeletons

Memorable Quotes

  • “Make way for Booger!” – Booger
  • “Remember that time I did eagles?” – Krastas

Summary

Ashborn subdued, the party gets no rest as the door is engulfed in flame and bursts inward, but with Thantyr’s protection Thaddeus feels not the heat of the flames and holds the door with no pain. He steps aside, letting it swing open once everyone is in position.

Stading before them are four burning skeletons, hostile but confused. Krastas summons an illusion of a hulking seven-skulled skeleton to distract the new foes. Thaddius and Autis lay into the skeletons, crushing some of them, but strengthening others as they integrated the bones of the fallen. Krastus tries to cast some magic missiles but he’s having trouble summoning them. He alternates between fizzling and overcharing the spell, but manages to contain it each time.

Fleeing from the power of Savra emanating from Autis’ holy symbol, the skeletons call reinforcements from the temple’s lower level. Another half dozen burning skeletons flood into the chamber but Savra’s power overwhelms them and they flee Autis and the temple.

Krastas sends his magic missiles in the for of golden eagles to cave the entryway in on the fleeing skeletons. He crushes half of them and traps all but two others outside. Thaddius and Autis confront their fiery undead foes as they scrabble to dig their way out, to escape Savra’s holy presence. Autis breaks an arm off one skeleton, but the other integrates it. With increased strength, the three-armed skeleton shoves Thaddeus and Autis down the stairs.

Below, a mage works dark magic on a jewel-encrusted skull at the flamed-flanked altar before him. He commands four more skeletons to kill Thaddius and Autis.

Meanwhile, Booger has been concocting a plan. Under the protection of the overturned brazier he has made his way over to the trapdoor to the lower level. He sees Thaddius and Autis tumble past and quickly follows, surfing the brazier down the stairs on a carpet of ball bearing he’s thrown before him.

Autis dives out of the way and Thaddius uses his shield to launch the speeding Booger. It works awesomely! He soars gracefully through the air and slams into the unsuspecting mage, knocking him down and pinning him to the floor, daggers at his throat.

Krastas moves to descend the stairs and the two skeletons upstairs cease their digging to attack him. However, he casts invisibility and the fooled skeletons return to their digging.

Booger has the mage at his mercy, and he parleys with him. Booger lets him scurry back after he commands the skeletons to stop attacking. Thaddius strides boldly forward and cleaves three skeletons in half with his longsword. Autis crushes the last one.

Booger jumps back onto the altar and snatches up the skull, dangling it over one of the burning braziers. The mage hesitates and Krastus, still invisible, prepares his magic missiles to strike him down if he moves.

Suddenly, several things happen at once. The mage flicks a wand from his belt, knocking Booger off the altar with a gout of fire to the gut. At the same time, Krastas casts his magic missiles, knocking the mage’s wand away and blinding Booger as he’s flung across the altar.

The skull clatters to the floor and Autis scoops it up. He feels the power inside but resists it. Krastus fires magic missiles at the mage, but in the chaos the spell goes wild and the energies are sucked into the skull in Autis’ arms. Filled with enough magic to complete the ritual, the skull bursts with fire, engulfing the room in flame.

When the flame clears, the skull has made its way into Krastas’ arms. He feels the power of the skull speaking to him. His magic has completely the ritual, transforming it into a place of power, able to fuel his rituals. Booger is in a bad way but has covered himself under the brazier again and sneaked his way over to the mage. He lashes out with daggers, hamstringing the mage before stabbing him in the back.

With his dying breath, the mage hurls one last gout of flame, killing Booger. The halfling’s soul slowly slides out of his body as he sees his murdered family waiting for him in death. He also sees a woman he manipulating into acting as his foster mother. She died for him and that is when he realised there was a line in manipulating people.

Krastas immediately reacts to Booger’s death, drawing on the power of the skull to pull Booger’s soul back into his body. He needs Autis’ help to perform the rites of Savra to make this work. Even then, Booger’s soul will be only loosely connected to his body.

Ash ash escapes from his mace and flows upstairs, Autis summons Savra for guidance. She appears as a giant red lizard and indicates that Booger should be called back. Chillingly, the others realise the bones that began to reform but shuffled across the room fleeing from Savra’s power have now disappeared upstairs entirely. Savra indicates that something up their should really be dealt with, then disappears.

Autis and Krastas work together to draw Booger’s soul back into his body before it fully departs this world. Something goes wrong and the souls of the three involved in the ritual begin to meld and merge. Memories are shared and bonds are formed.

Thaddius intervenes, attempting to separate the souls again, but his own soul is drawn into the triangle, forming a sort of shield around the connected souls. However, he sees one last chance and sacrifices himself to separate the souls and save Booger. In the ghostly haze in front of Death’s Gates, Booger suddenly sees Thaddius’ spirit step in front of him, confronting Death in his place. Thaddius’ will is strong and he lives to fight another day.

Krastus and Autis complete the ritual with Thaddius’ help and Booger breathes again, cradled in Thaddius’ arms. Thaddius tries to heal him, but still partly in the spirit realm, the healing brings the mage back instead.

Calling on the skull’s power again, Krastas creates a vortex right on the mage’s head, sucking him, his wand and the brazier into another dimension. However, the vortex doesn’t close…

Thaddius tries again and heals Booger as a huge rattling sounds from upstairs. Suddenly, the combined bulk of eight burning skeletons moves as one abomination of bone to attack. Autis confronts it and holds it at the steps. He is outmatched by the huge undead monster but the ashborn appear from behind and attack it. They throw themselves at the creature turning its bones to ash, limbs being crushed and slowly reforming from ash.

Krastas sees the vortex slowly growing. He can’t close it without more magic. He uses his magic missiles instead of the skull’s power this time. His golden eagles fly from his hands, enter the vortex and rather than sacrificing the ability to cast this spell entirely, he draws ones back out, the vortex colouring its power. His spell is now changed, somehow.

Krastas, having used the skull a few times now, learns of its history and powers. He sees that it holds memories of a person named Treshaan, a scout related to Gomorgh. He senses living creatures for over half a mile around. He can see through their eyes. He also senses creatures – living or not – that bear him ill intent. He briefly sees through the eye sockets of the creature of bone.

Autis holds the skeletal abomination off long enough for the ashborn to weaken it. He lands the final blow but is impaled with a sharpened rib, nearly doing him in. He backs off from the ashborn, but the do not attack in any case. One holds out its hand to Booger. He understands and tosses back the jewels he stole. He is returned the boon of being able to speak with the ashborn, but retains his normal powers of speech as well.

They say they simply want to rest and return to paradise. Following the ashborn upstairs, just to be sure, Autis and Thaddius see them resting in their sarcophagi. There were five others in the adjacent room who never awakened.

Autis determines that the ashborn are thinly connected to their ashen husks. When they rest, their souls go to the afterlife. If they are disturbed, they are yanked back into their bodies. Autis and Thaddius agree that while the ashborn rest, they are not enemies of either of their faiths.

Booger, having been keeping a tally of both religions victories in the temple, decides that there is a god and it is Thantyr. Thaddius is pleased with this victory for Thantyr, but concerned at the skull. However, prayers to Thantyr show him that the skull is vital to destroying a greater evil. Krastas has sensed other skulls out there. They may be vital too and may hold different powers.

The party finds some valuables and a scroll used to hide from undead or other creatures. Then, weary but victorious, the party heads outside the temple and makes camp, seeking some well deserved rest as Thaddius works on consecrating the temple in Thanty’s name.

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The Unearthed Temple (Part 3)
Welcome to Knife's Edge

Memorable Quotes

  • “Savra! Beer me!” – Autis
  • “We’re held in high regard slash fear” – Autis
  • “Flipping birds” – Booger, when asked what he does.
  • “I pour things in things” – Pevren
  • “I am not maths” – Pevren

Summary

As the group travels back to the town of Knife’s Edge we learn from Booger that most halflings are slaves and are collared to show their status.

Alph the Caravan driver mentions in passing that the forest village of Greybark apparently has a “wizard” who is referred to as Mr Greenthumb, from Keystone.

Back in Knife’s edge there is some kind of commotion as two townspeople are addressing the rest of the population and trying to convince them of their plans for a communal plot that is being made available in a land release. The argument basically comes tow to Hathan, an ex-Clayfields miner, pushing for a much needed blacksmith, while Trawli, a financier, is pushing for a bank. The decision is left in the hands of Thadius.

Hathan chats with the group and mentions that Rormac and Lyle have been out at the Clayfields and there seems to be some strange goings-on.

Booger checks out the local markets in a deft piece of negotiation somehow ends up in the possession of five Velocawarys, three chicks and one egg.

Parched, the travellers head to the Wren’s Roost Tavern, the local watering hole. The barkeep is a burly woman who sports a tattoo of a wren clutching a knife in its beak. Much to the complete non-plussedness of the group, they are informed that the town’s mascot, Edgy the Dog, is missing. There is some heated discussion about the upstart mascot of neighbouring village of Drymouth, Dodgy the Rat, with the general consensus being that Dodgy is certainly no Edgy.

After visiting the tavern, our intrepid adventurers next visit local… “alchemist”, Pevren. It quickly becomes apparent that Pevren is a man who likes to enjoy the explodey things in life and doesn’t hesitate to experiment on himself and anybody fool enough to let him. Krastas agrees to let him take blood in order to try an increase his magical abilities. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

During his rambling conversation with the party, Pevren mentions that there has been strange things, magical things, disturbing things, happening at Black Rock in the Clayfields.

The party sets off to Black Rock on three of the Velos, seeking to meet Thadius at the site. Upon arriving they find Thadius commanding some escaped halfling slaves to "Return to town and help build the temple… "

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The Unearthed Temple (Part 4)
That's Not a Black Rock

Memorable Quotes

  • “Classic Crackers!”
  • “You’re all weird and I want to kill you all” – Booger with regard to his kinsman

At Blackrock the group finds a human being held captive by a band of halfings. Contary to normal human behaviour he has raw magic shooting from his chest? Krastas attempts to discern what kind of magic it is but not being nature based, can’t get a handle on it

Further investigation reveals that the man’s name is “Lon” and that not just the halflings have been mining; there are some other mine workers as well.

Suddenly, something starts happening to the black rock! It starts to move.

Background info: Dragons are known to have existed but are very rare and have not been seen in hundreds of years. As such, they are mythical and few enough to be known by name. Dragons are viewed in a similar light to forces of nature, like a tsunami. The group is not aware that any were still alive. Dragons are potentially intelligent, ie, not just an animal.

NEED INFO ON THE BATTLE

After the battle, Crackers is crowned the group’s saviour with his fearless attackes.

Interesting Fact: to the Plains Elves, “Balazark” is the name for the Dragon of the Plains (not necessarily the one the group has encountered).

Upon inspection of the massive crater left by the Dragon, there appears to be a corpse at the bottom. The skeleton doesn’t appear to be human as we know, being around 12ft tall. The body is wearing armour and is fossilised.

The body is also wearing a circlet/crown engraved with ancient writing. The language is “Giant” and it says “Prince of the Black Iron” and on the back continues “He Who No Man Can Kill.” (worth 3-700sp, but need to get it valued).

The Giant for for his people, who The Black Rock slayed “I cast him down and he with me.” His sword is called “Groundbreaker” and was plunged into the Dragon’s heart to cast him down. The sword was built for this purpose.

The Black Rock will search out the Giants if there are any left and vice versa. They are mortal enemies. Magic is coming back to the world and the Dragon has helped waked it up. He is the first of others.

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