SoH – Chapter Three: Hearthflare Temple

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Hearthflare Temple: (Upper Floors)

Knight Valleen waits outside the broken cathedral and advises that The Sunguard, the ancient paladins under The Alfather, Tamberlain, would like to bring their ruined Temple to its former glory, but that will be a huge job.  No one has stepped foot in the temple since it was ruined by necromancers 200 years ago, whatever evil was contained within it and likely died out.  The party was happy to explore, and discovered giant spiders and phase spiders had overtaken much of the west wing of the cathedral, and a the bust of a hawk was actually some personification of Tamberlain himself, either wanting the party to prove their worth, or upset that Glenn had decided that climbing and jumping on the alter was a good idea.  The hawk, it turned out, had been guarding the ancient hook used to pull the mirrors down and light the remaining floors of the temple.  Returning to the main antechamber, a shadow dragon broke through the boarded up hole in the center of the room!  The party discovered that Leon was surprisingly athletic, pulling the dragon down to the ground for everyone to hit.

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Hearthflare: B1

Shadow dragon slain, Gladbaegol and Associates climbed the stairs to the top of the Hearthflare Temple, dodging bats and leaping past rotted stairs as they climbed up to investigate the beacon of light that shines up to the heavens atop the temple.  Through some manipulation of the mirrors, the beacon now shines directly down through the now broken well, below.  Having just recently purchased some fortuitously available climbing gear, the party descended into the now lit central chamber below.

 

The air is musty and stale as they begin to explore the level below.  Critically failing his perception check, Bastine encourages his allies to approach the door to the west.  Unexpectedly, a rune of confusion set on the door goes off, and nearly half the party is in range and failing their saves as it is revealed that the undead lurk in this layer of the dungeon!  Skeletal mages and swordsmen approach, teeth chattering, as the party hacks away at one another, confused.  The enemy casters take advantage of their grouped foes and focus a cloud of daggers on the confused party, unable to move.  Through his confusion, Leon knocks an already injured Gywdgen unconscious.  Some concentrated fire from Kraw, Bastine and Corpus defeat the skeletons, but a short rest is required to recover from the unexpectedly difficult encounter.  Exploring the library reveals some old spell scrolls, and Corpus begins reading them over, excitedly.

 

Gladbaegol and associates continue to explore the ruins, next venturing to the supply room found in the southwest corner of the dungeon.  They step through a caved in wall, following a trail of blood, skeletons and former inhabitants, turned to stone.  The party battles more skeletons on their way to the inner hallway, and then finds a storeroom.  Approaching the barrels inquisitively, Glenn hopes to find extra Gladbaegol reserve, but what he actually finds is a swarm of bees.  Corpus responds with fire, igniting barrels of nearby whiskey and nearly incinerating Glenn.  The party recovers from their encounter with the bees, only to enter a hallway where a Gorgon, a large metal plated bull-monstrosity, has been preserved, and stampedes at the party.  It opens fire with a paralyzing breath at Gwydgen, whose poor constitution over two turns actually him to stone.  Knowing their situation is dire, Glenn shouts, commandingly, at Leon, and they combine forces for an especially damaging combined attack which corrals the beast, preventing its escape, and the party is able to deal with the monstrosity.  Exploring the old barrels and chests nearby, they discover the first of three gems required to pass deeper into the dungeon.

 

The party proceeds to investigate the northwestern door, which had been locked, but with an appropriately impressive lockpicking roll, Gwydgen pops open the door like it was nothing.  They begin exploring an old forge, and find a statue in the corner.  Bastine bends down and offers a prayer to The Alfather at the statue which reveals a cutscene, the ancient paladin and blacksmith, Ardghal the Redeemer, is ambushed by a deathknight and two evil cultists, worshippers of Draug.  Following the scene, the ghost of Ardghal is revealed, who pleads for aid as a portal opens.  Pouring from the portal is a gauntlet of undead, first zombies, then a contingent of skeletal grunts, then a contingent of archers that spawn round after round.  Ardghal is locked in battle with an ancient skeletal knight.  The party finishes off the horde of undead and Leon charges to aid Ardghal, tipping the scale of battle in his favor.  Eternally grateful and free of the trappings that held him to this life, Ardghal unlocks his storeroom, which he guarantees a safe night’s rest for along with a chest.  Leon discovers Ardghal’s +1 greatsword, The Redeemer, which can be activated to heal nearby allies once per day.

 

The party entered the next room of the dungeon, a library with a great desk in the center, Sifting through ancient, dusty tomes, the party discovers that the Flame of Amalas, the artifact they recovered on Blasket Island, can be fueled by visiting Points of Compassion.  They discover a 200 year old map of falleron, with five markings spread across the entire continent of Ovid.  There are also some notes on how to incorporate the orb into a warhammer, which Bastine found fascinating.  Hunting for the last key, the party entered a large destroyed study, blood and books scattered everywhere, with tombs attached on three sides.   Once Bastine triggered the alarm, the door slammed shut and in the center of the room stood Sorley the Damned, a skeletal mage on horseback, glowing purple from an aura of necrotic energy.  Immediately after he appeared, he brought with him a horde of undead, a combination of more zombies, skeletons and skeletal archers.  The party began fighting their way through group, Kraw managing to disarm many of the skeletal rangers with crit after crit.  Seizing the opportunity, when   Randomly, Leon, and then Kraw, and then Glenn were teleported to one of the adjacent side room to fight a weak skeleton or zombie.  Slaying the monster would unlock the door, releasing the player to rejoin the fight.  Killing the skeletal mage yielded his robes, which Corpus was all too happy to equip can pulse necrotic damage once per day, affecting all living creatures in range.

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Determined to get to the bottom of the the dungeon, G&A enter the Chamber of Trials to a mirror shining at them.  They were greeted by a curious werefolk rabbit, Watchbit, who was babbling on about being late for a very important date, and slipped magically jumped underneath the first of several doors they would need to enter.  At the center of the room,  Pushing the very heavy mirror, they discover it moves on a track, and clicks in place, unlocking the first trial, a giant abyss, and on each side, magical runes.  Corpus set about inspecting the magical runes by way of his familiar.  As it flew over, it was instantly killed.  Abandoning that line of investigation, they decided they needed some other means of crossing the chasm.  Watchbit had hinted earlier the journey began with a single hop, so Gwydgen decided to test out the theory, and took a hop of faith.  The first hop succeeded, and below him was a divinely lit plane.  Taking his next hop failed, doubt creeped into Gwydgen and he the divine platform was nowhere to be found, down into the abyss he fell, albeit slowly with featherfall.  Splash! Gwydgen landed into a pool some fifty feet down to meet the arborkin Fallum, who demanded answers to riddles before revealing the secrets of the magical runes above, that the rune on the near side deals one damage a turn, the rune on the far side heals one damage a turn.  As thanks, the party helped Fallum out of his abyss and went off to explore a world he hadn’t seen in a very long time.  Armed with the knowledge the runes, Bastine blindfolded himself and found within him the will to cross, unharmed and without issue.  Bastine in one set of runes healing damage, linked magically with Glenn taking damage, they heard a click.

The crystal maze was set up to be a museum of sorts, showing the origin of the Alfather.  Guarding the entrance to the maze was a Crystal Golem who controlled access to which doors were locked and unlocked.  The party didn’t know it, but in answering Is it better to be Exhaustive or Precise, Is it better to lead a good life or an interesting one, and Choose One: Rich in Experience, or Rich in Wealth, they inadvertently locked certain doors in the dungeon, and armed and disarmed certain traps along the path.  Selecting precision unlocked all the doors that the party would encounter if they always turned left, which hinted at by the golem, and yielded the most direct route to the exit.  Opting for an an interesting life yielded a divine boon for Bastine, who may now use the Leer ability, and the demand from the Crystal Golem that there be a trial of strength at the end of the maze before they would be allowed to leave.

 

The party then ventured into the den of the Chimera, which they learned was the ancient monstrosity the Alfather had placed to imprison the goddess Gien.  Exploring the room, it was an open room activating various dragon, goat and lion statues in the three corners of the room summoned the Chimera at the very southern end of the arena.  Immediately leaping into action, Leon and Glenn charged the beast at his flanks, staying on opposite ends to minimize the affect of a breath attack and punish the creature should he opt to fly off.  When the The party braved fire breathing and claws as they triumphed over the foul beast.  They then stopped by a room adjacent to the throne room and found beds.  After determining that there was no way there could just be an empty room with beds, the party began checking under covers and, to his horror, Leon discovered the room was haunted by spectres.  One came from the front, and one snuck up on the Corpus from behind.  After these monsters were dealt with in short order, and the business of cleaning up the last remaining wing of the Chamber of Trials was all that was left.

 

Heading into the final wing of the trials, the party were again confronted with Watchbit, who abandoned all pretense of trying to help the party and ran off to warn his master of the impending intruders, who ran past ghosts of the former inhabitants.  The ghosts offered encouragement as Glenn & Co passed.  Steeling themselves, they opened the door to the throne room, discovering that Kaveh, the death knight who had ransacked this cathedral 200 years ago, had been preserved and imprisoned within the throne room of this ancient temple by the Alfather.  The Watchbit was transformed from Watchbit, the small werefolk, to Rabbot, a construct with the ability to hasten allies and slow enemies, with massive hind legs for jump attacks, and with that the fight was on.  Glenn stood in the doorway, blocking the hallway off from enemies and forcing the fight to stay ahead of him.  Leon and Bastine slipped around him, dealing massive damage.  Gwydgen, excited to use a new spell, used an incredibly effective Heat Metal spell, burning the platemail wearing enemies from the inside and forcing them to drop their burning, metal weapons.  Some impressive crits later, the party had slain Kaveh and one of the two death cleric attempts to escape past the party, only to be slain by the ghosts that haunt the temple.

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Hearthflare: Treasure Room

Exhausted, but wanting to finish off the temple, they hear the final click of the last door, the one guarding The Vault.  Riches beyond measure, magical scrolls, and great wonders of a bygone age have been stored in the vault, and the party has cleared Hearthflare Temple.