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.