This place is a tomb. Empty halls leading to empty rooms. No signs of life, not even vermin are present. This city is truly a dead place. My comrades do not seem too concerned with this abomination, a city of the undead, a mockery of life. They even appear to condone the actions of a self-declared necromancer, this Lady Nightshade. A woman so twisted that she would prefer solitude living amongst these undead shades of the living instead of the real thing. Perhaps I can convince them that this cannot be allowed to stand unchecked but I believe Nightshade’s silver tongue and acts of civility in this forsaken place has moved them to sympathize with her cause. I cannot deny that she has been helpful but I do not trust her. I feel she assists us only because we are unknowingly helping her. This would not change our present course but I must be wary of her since my comrades are not.
During our explorations of the underground temple we happened upon a room containing an altar dedicated to Gorn, which I now know is my god Gorm in a varied form. Biggle’s keen touch discovered a hidden catch on the altar that caused the altar to move exposing a hidden door. It was at that moment we were attack by a group of powerful undead. I do not know what kind they were, they were similar to wraiths but possessed different means of inflicting harm. They used howls of madness and filled the air with a cacophony of babbling voices. Our minds reeled from the psychic assault. I remember losing consciousness several times during the battle, rejoining the fight when I felt the healing majick of my comrades. I think much of our survival is owed to Aszh, as he bathed his sword in holy light from his goddess Titania, his empowered strikes causing devastating damage to the undead.
We were victorious and had to rest to recuperate and heal our wounds. The hidden door lead to a room containing a elegantly carved wooden box containing a necklace of holy beads wrapped around a interesting looking key. Enna was able to determine that the necklace was a set of magical prayer beads and we kept both items, believing the key had an important purpose to be determined.We eventually discovered what I believe was the actual temple area of this complex. A huge octagonal room with a raised platform in the center adorned with 20’ tall statues of Topaline’s pantheon, which I knew was the same as mine. Other statues were also on the platform, but these had been destroyed and I was not sure what they depicted. In the center of the platform was a pit that rage with flames of blue fire. I could tell this place was holy, but I did not feel the reverence that I should have in such a place. It felt…tired, like someone who was trying to stay awake but knew that the oblivion of sleep would take them at any moment. It is here that we met Baron Mishcaron.
I know not what he is, certainly he can no longer be just a human man if he has lived for nearly four hundred years. He was pleasant and open to conversation but he spoke to us from the shadows or just out of sight where we could never truly see him fully. He had the presence of one who could be charming and one who was used to his authority being recognized but there was more…madness perhaps. Whatever the Baron is, he is surely no servant of Gorn (Gorm), that much he made certain when he blasphemed my god and position as his humble servant. To hear his tirade, blaming Gorm for the hubris of his civilization’s fall from grace was more than I could take. I engaged him in fiery counterpoint. I told him Gorm will present judgement.
Of course, this…creature in the guise of man would not freely give us his Amulet of the Planes to help us succeed in our noble cause, but he did offer us a challenge, a duel. In single-combat, one of us would take the Baron on. If we won, the Amulet was ours. If we lost, we would have to give up equal compensation in magical items. It was decided that we would offer the Necklace of Prayer Beads and Enna’s magical dagger (the one that was taken from Dryflagon’s dead body) as our offering. Myself, Dovak and Aszh each volunteered to be the champion to represent our cause, and ultimately the group chose Aszh. Aszh stepped onto the platform and we finally got to see the Baron clearly. A handsome man with unique ethnic features that I have not seen before. He wore a black robe and wielded a quarterstaff made of wood so dark in color it looked like it was made of night itself. Aszh charged the Baron and managed to strike him once before the Baron laid him low with only a single blow from his quarterstaff. Biggle and I rushed onto the platform to drag Aszh from it so we could administer healing. He came to, stunned by quickness of the match.
The Baron, full of arrogance, taunted us and proclaimed his superiority. He even invited another of our party to step up and challenge him because he felt “generous.” I could no longer hold back my rage. The fury of Gorm was burning inside me. I accepted the Baron’s challenge, asking Biggle for a quick song of inspiration before walking onto the platform.
I called Gorm’s guardian spirits to protect me and waited for the Baron’s Attack. He advanced like the wind, seeming to glide over the broken masonry of the statues, the spirit guardians barely able to get in attacks of their own before he struck me in the gut with his staff. I felt the wind go out of my lungs and coughed up blood. The blow was so powerful, I was only just barely able to remain standing. The spirit guardians faded away as my concentration broke. I saw that the Baron was indeed a deadly foe and I had to fight like my life depended on it, which it did. I again summoned Gorm’s spirit guardians and staggered the Baron with a blow from my Warhammer. Enraged, he swung his staff at me as the spirit guardians stabbed and slashed at him and I just managed to get my shield up in time to parry his strike. I conjured Gorm’s spiritual hammer and sent that to hammer a mighty blow into the Baron’s face and he reeled. His strike back at me not even close. I could feel Gorm’s power within me. I was confident of victory as I again stuck out against my foe but too late I realized I had overextended myself and the Baron was waiting to pounce, the end of his staff connecting with my face. I tasted a new surge of blood and saw the blackness of oblivion. I knew that I was going to die, death was taking me. I heard Enna’s voice cry out and a momentary surge of strength before I fell unconscious. ..
I later found out that Enna had saved my life by transferring some of her magical vitality to me at the last moment. I am thankful to have found a companion such as her. Prior to meeting Aszh and Enna, the only Elves I had met were the damned Drow that plague my city occasionally to kill, pillage, and take my people as slaves. It is good to know that not all Elves are twisted like them.
When I came to, the Baron was gone, as well as Enna’s magical dagger and the magical prayer beads, both surrendered per the agreement. All of us heard a lovely voice in our minds telling us that the Baron had cheated during the battle, that the fight was not a fair one. There was a strange shifting in reality and a beautiful and intimidating creature appeared before us, blocking the eastern door. This magnificent creature had the lower body of a lion and the upper body of a beautiful woman. On her back were feathered wings.We stared in awe as Biggle identified the creature as a Gynosphinx. She informed us that her name was Krisna and that she was a guardian of a special place, much like Kinguapus, though her charge was the most important locale in Topaline, the Mystics’ sacred workshop, and no one knew of her existence, not even Kinguapus. Krisna informed us that Baron Mishcaron was no longer a mortal and fighting him in single combat would be as fair as a child fighting an adult. As to her charge, she told us that since I was a follower of Gorn she would offer us the opportunity to open the workshop, which has been sealed since Topaline’s fall, and release her from her obligation. All we would have to do is commit and answer a puzzle, providing the wrong answer, or no answer, would result in unspecified consequences.
We agreed to attempt the puzzle and I will admit that my head was still addled from my bout with the Baron that I do not remember what the puzzle was but I do remember that it was Allegro that formulated the answer and convinced the others he was right. Krisna smiled her approval, and confirmed that the correct answer had been given. She opened the workshop doors revealing the massive room beyond, which contained a magical forge, marble work benches and cabinets holding several magical items and raw materials. Released from her charge, she departed, but not before warning us to not allow the Baron to claim what we had obtained.