The Northern Menace: Letters from Trilith #5: The Party has arrived at the temple only to find the acolyte they were searching for missing – what trouble does this mean for the temple? Missed the start of the campaign? Click here to read their backstories!
Sunday, 1st of Rainmoot, 1967
Progress Report to High Magus Rurik Vikstrom of the Council of Fortitude
High Magus Rurik Vikstrom of the Council of Fortitude,
As per my last report, our team cleared the road of the goblin menace at some considerable risk to ourselves. I have assumed that what we recover from these encounters will be ours to dispose of as we deem fit, but, for the record, we discovered a few small gems, and some coins, mostly copper. We also found a potion that I have, as yet, been unable to identify. I hope to have your aid with that when I return.
The weather was wet and changeable as we moved on. I spent my time on the road teaching and bonding with my raven companion. An encounter with some fishermen leading donkeys led to discussion with Quenya as to the difference between a horse and a donkey. The distinction is a fine one, and in Quenya’s eyes, inconsequential. The discussion continues. I did discover he likes dried fish.
We reached the Thorpe just at sundown. In doing so, we passed the renovated lighthouse and shrine. The updates seem well crafted, and probably overdue. But the shrine is quite small. I’m not sure I see the point in the christening to-do, but these religious types do love their ceremonies. I suppose it gives them good press. Perhaps the Wizard’s Tower could use a few ceremonies.
The acolyte, Geir that we were sent to locate, was not at the shrine. Robi knew the lad’s parents so we headed to their home to discover his whereabouts. I suspected the worst. In my experience, religious young men are usually so enthusiastic in following orders, that it seemed likely something dire must have happened to keep him from obeying.
So I was surprised and taken aback when the acolyte’s parents greeted us cheerfully and told us Geir was visiting with his aunt. I was also more than a little angry. I know little of the discipline and order kept at the temple of Heironeous, but the Wizard’s Tower would never abide by such a blatant dereliction of duty. And with war against the undead looming at our doorstep, possibly only days away, it was ridiculous to be sending four good fighters after a boy who merely shirked his responsibilities.
Still, Robi and Geldion were intent on being polite for some reason, so we drank tea and chatted. And, I’ll admit, I take it as sport to make my religious comrades blush in front of strangers with a dropped word or hint. Though it is often too easy a game.
After a drink and the socially appropriate chatting, we headed through the dark to the aunt’s house to collect Geir.
That’s where things grew very strange indeed.
The house was closed up and seemed somehow ominous. As we paused outside, Antinua spotted an arm protruding from under some dirt and straw. We drew weapons and prepared for the worst. My mind flew immediately to the island, but I couldn’t imagine why the undead would be hiding bodies.
Robi investigated and found the bodies of the two initiates who had traveled with Geir for the christening. It appeared they were bludgeoned to death. He also found Geir’s holy symbol caked with flesh and burned, as well as the mace his parents had given him- things Geir never would have parted with willingly. A chill ran over me as we prepared to enter the house. After our encounter with the goblins, I had barely a few spells left, but would do what I could to help.
Antinua is surprisingly strong for her slight frame. She kicked the door open and we rushed inside. Evidence of a battle confronted us-broken furniture, bloodstains. It was good to know the initiates at least put up a fight.
Robi swept aside a curtain and behind it we discovered 3 foul little beasts. Despite my year of studying at the tower, I had no idea what these creatures were. Robi seemed certain they were not of this world. I shall need to spend more time in the library researching extraplanar creatures.
Perhaps you can identify them. They are 4ft tall and weigh in at about 60 pounds. They are squat and blubbery with pale, thick hide and a slack mouth full of small, pointy fangs. And they smell of sulfur. Robi said they were speaking the language of the abyss inside his head as he closed to attack.
Robi and one of the creatures were trading blows when I noticed that the pouch Robi had stored Geir’s holy symbol in was glowing. He pulled out the holy symbol and the creatures went wild. Robi swung at a creature with the holy symbol and it tore and burned at the creature’s flesh. It screeched in pain.
Antinua ran over with her sword and sliced one in half, quite literally. The creature corroded away into gore and noxious fumes making our eyes water.
After that, my companions’ weapons didn’t seem to do much to the creatures. Only the holy symbol seemed to really damage them. How fortunate that Heironeous’ symbol is a lightning bolt. It made an effective weapon. And the power of the symbol was most intriguing. Does the power come from something in the metal of the symbol, from Heironeous himself, or from the faith of the wielder? I would love to do more investigating. I think an interesting experiment could be set up.
My companions had the creatures bunched in a small hallway where we could not fight them effectively. I couldn’t even get close to help. We do need to work on our strategy. Robi keeps trying to step in front of everyone to protect them, thereby rendering them less effective, and Antinua, as a ranger, is just used to fighting alone. We all need to work on our teamwork.
Antinua was mauled badly by one of the creatures, but with the help of the holy symbol we got the job done and killed them all. The last one finally fizzled away into ooze. All seemed quiet, though I heard Quenya cawing his concern for me from outside.
As Geldion and Robi healed Antinua, I checked out the only other room on this floor. It was a rudimentary lab for a local wise woman. There were lots of interesting books on potions and concoctions, and unusual components. I hoped Geir’s aunt was still alive so I could speak with her. She had amassed an interesting collection. And I wished I had time to look more closely. The lab too had been wrecked, but whether the intruders were looking for something, fighting, or just being destructive I couldn’t tell. I also couldn’t tell how long ago the destruction had happened.
It occurred to me that the creatures who bludgeoned the initiates to death were probably not the same creatures my companions fought, since those attacked with bites and claws. We have yet to meet whatever or whoever killed those poor boys.
Perhaps they are beyond this trap door. I wish I had more spells left.
More reports to follow, if I live. Your humble initiate,