After the assault on Chain Crag following a daring scouting mission, the Templar of the Falls successfully wiped out the monsters lairing there. Slynn Keenblade led a group underneath, and the mithril-armored dwarves took many injuries but no casualties as they rolled through their foes.
A month later, the clan’s masons were finishing their careful repair of Chain Crag, restoring it to its neglected appearance while maintaining its functionality as a lure and trap for local threats.
The First Temple
The priority of the clan’s efforts had already shifted to excavating the site that could be the First Temple, the first shrine established near Beardfall, the clan home. It was buried in the conflict between the isolationists and the templar, part of the struggle about whether to open the holy sites of Beardfall to pilgrims or keep them safe and secret. The mountain wall above the valley with the temple collapsed. At that time, the First Temple was used as an isolationist base, but there was some speculation a double agent or spy working for the templar collapsed the mountain.
Now, over five centuries later, a huge steam drill was helping clear the way to the temple site. It was to open by Remembrance Day, in about a month.
Three Council members and the Archon called in a trio of scouts to help in the effort.
- Revelle Keenblade. Mauler, athlete, armorer.
- Velda Windspear. Support, healer, weaver.
- Ruman Crackerstacker. Leader, topsider, brewer.
They were to use a magical ritual to transport into the buried temple, scout it out, and report back. If there was a good reason the First Temple was buried, then the templar didn’t want to find out what it was when they opened the doors. Advance notice would be better.
After the Council members left, the Archon called them closer and told them there were few records of the First Temple, which is a very strange omission for such an important location; not sabotage or theft, but an absence of information. Tread carefully.
Entering the First Temple
After a long day’s ride by donkey (they could have walked two days, but wanted to get there faster) they arrived. They heard the handiwork of the half-crazed “Steambenders” who tended the excavation as they approached. The steam drill was audible miles away, but they took a higher path to an excavation up on the slope, where mystics had prepared a runic gateway to send them down into the temple. Melinda Wintershade equipped them, and led the invasion ritual. They got magical clay slapped on the back of their necks, and they were pushed through the stone to land in the First Temple. The wet clay was the key to the door to get them back; they hid some extra in the entry room.
They also had pendants that generated air, in case it was stuffy or poisonous underground. Revelle carried an arcane ear, so they could communicate with base if needed. They were also given stimulant potions, in case they ran into trouble.
Crackerstacker pulled out a tube of glow grubs and fixed it on his helmet, and in that feeble light they explored the deeply dusty corridors. It appeared wind had eroded the long-buried site, which wasn’t normally possible. Rather than peeking into every door or following every hallway, they looked for a larger room.
They encountered sluggish shadows of thin tendrils that seemed to be submerged in the stone, but moving; when touched, they drained body heat and life. They were not very aggressive, but they came from an area that had been magically shaped, like something was doing some mystic digging into the stone of the First Temple. The digging resembled the magic Revelle had seen in the dam sabotage. The intruders followed the peculiar metallic tendril shadows in the stone, heading down the shaped corridor.
The Puppet Show
The tendrils were more numerous and harder to avoid as they proceeded. They came out in a chamber with stony figures made of what appeared to be rock and fossilized bone, their body plans making no sense, and behind those figures was a crazed puppet master; his lower half fused with stone, and with one hand he controlled stone and with the other he controlled the metallic life-draining tendrils.
Velda kept up firing with her crossbow as Revelle and Crackerstacker discovered the stone figures merged into a regenerating wall; they darted around the wall, avoiding tendrils, and began merrily smashing the puppetmaster. As Revelle struck the final blows, knocking the thing apart, they saw a faceted ruby in the center, dripping metallic shadow. Crackerstacker pocketed it, and they left the crumbling stone and dissolving tendrils, returning to the First Temple chambers.
The Unfinished Statue
They found a pillared great hall that repelled the metallic tendrils. Its floor was a mosaic of a dwarf-like cosmic creature battling a draconic cosmic creature, both figures deliberately vague, on a landscape that seemed to correspond to the Beardfall clanhome. The wall and pillar decorations seemed to echo the theme, making sort of a multi-media experience. In the center, recessed in the floor, a dais had what appeared to be an unfinished hunchback dwarf-ish shape surrounded by broken stone.
The statue slowly shifted to track them as they walked around the room, so Crackerstacker approached it. When he touched the ruby taken from the puppetmaster to it, the statue became more animated. There was a ruby-sized slot in its chest, so Crackerstaker put the ruby in to see what would happen.
The stone around the statue rushed up to it, finishing out its features or drifting around it like ioun stones. The powerful guardian of the site sensed a contagion lingering in the dwarves before it, but offered them the truth, assuming they lacked the courage to accept it. They said they wanted a look, so the guardian lowered a barrier, revealing stairs, and warned them it was almost out of time.
The Truth is Down There
The invaders headed down the stairs, in another mosaic hallway telling more of the story in its abstract way. They found a stone sepulcher to the Witness. Not wanting to disrespect the dead, they were planning to leave it, but the statue spoke in their minds and mocked their refusal of the truth.
So, they heaved it open. Instead of a body, there was a book wrapped in cloth. Velda recognized the cloth as being made of Callithorn, a magical plant long thought extinct, capable of making powerful protection. The book itself was not expensive or dramatic, but it contained the final will and testament of Olamanok, Son of the First Witness, the Viewer, who watched two gods fight.
The dwarves knew the legend that their clanhome was formed and printed with strange divine energy because a God of Ur did battle with another cosmic creature and the battle climaxed there in the mountain. This might be a primary source referring to that battle. Was it possible supernatural means had been used to cloud their memories? They took the book, and retreated.
The statue, which could be an echo of an earth elemental lord, ran out of energy or focus, and the statue began to crumble. However, he told them the easiest way out before he fell apart, and they pursued it. On the way, in a corridor, they found an inset earth patch, and recognized a living Callithorn plant! This was a tremendous find. Rather than risk damage to the plant, they withdrew, back through the spell wall, rejoining the other templar at the excavation site.
Velda stayed to lead the effort to recover the Callithorn plant, while Revelle and Crackerstacker mounted up and took the book directly to the archon. The grateful clan gave all three of them 10 ledger for their heroic success! Yet not all mysteries were resolved…