Desnus 29th, 4711
Having recovered from the attack of the hideous banshee, Torquemada, Haza, and Ramirez decided that discretion was the better part of valor, and the party retreated from Renchurch Abbey, returning to the rocky cliff area where they had camped earlier. Haza once again called upon the power of Sarenrae to stone shape a cave where none had existed moments before, and sealed the entrance behind them, preventing their discovery by the agents of the Whispering Way.
Luckily, their clever plan worked. The party rested through the evening, undisturbed by the festering evil that lurked nearby.
The next morning the party set out towards the Abbey once again. There was still no overt signs of activity this day, nor was there any evidence that their intrusion yesterday had been noticed. Even so, they approached cautiously, but nothing stirred as they entered the walls of the ruined abbey.
This time, the party decided to check out some of the other outbuildings before continuing to the cathedral proper. While many were crumbling ruins, an intact one near the gateway beckoned, and the party quickly infiltrated the grounds and entered the structure.
Inside, several gurneys and stained surgeon’s tables were pushed to the far corners of the main room. Broken scalpels, leech cups, and other bloodletting instruments littered the floor. A heavy, musky scent pervaded the stale air, and splatters of old blood stained the unstable walls.
Further investigation led to another room, this one empty but for a single, bloodstained gurney in the center of the room.
Suddenly, the image of a phantom monk with dozens of leech-cups applied to his torso appeared on the gurney. The monk then exploded in a torrent of bloody ichor and thousands of writhing leeches, which covered those present and began draining their blood. A wave of magical weakness swept through the run, as everyone lost blood to the horrifying haunt.
The party quickly retreated and decided to leave the building. As they left out of the front door, however, they noticed that the doorway was now bracketed by two withered and gnarled oak trees. Trees that had not been there a few minutes before. Were it not for the images of sinister faces peeking out from their dark gray bark, they would have looked like any other ragged oak tree. That and the fact their bare branches hosted several desiccated corpses whose rusted armor bore the faint remnants of crusader heraldry.
Before the adventurers could react, a roar rang out from overhead, as a large figure came hurtling down from the rooftop, landing with a heavy shuddering thud on the soft earth. This giant’s maw contains a pair of dripping tusks, but it was it’s gangly third arm that made its appearance truly bizarre.
The Athach and Quickwoods fell on the party, attempting to destroy these invaders in the lands of the Whispering Way. But these were seasoned adventurers, and no so easily dispatched. The evil trees soon fell to blade and spell, and the outmatched giant fared no better.
The group decided to press on to the Cathedral itself at this point. In the center of the monastery’s grounds, the cathedral of Renchurch sat perched on a scabby crust of crumbling rock, the black spines of its blood-soaked blades spearing into the stormy sky. The cathedral’s exterior walls were constructed in grand gothic style, but appeared ruined and even collapsed in places. The outer walls incorporated tens of thousands of broken blades into their construction.
Two massive iron doors constructed from hundreds of broken blades and ancient weapons formed the sole entrance into the windowless abbey. Ramirez led the way, pulling on the latch which easily opened.
Triggering the trap.
Silently and swiftly the heavy iron doors slammed forward, catching the party unawares and crashing heavily into their bodies. Luckily, it was not a killing blow, but powerful nevertheless.
A bit more cautiously, they moved forward, entering the redoubt of their foes.
The crumbled remains of a collapsed belfry littered the eastern side of the once-fine tessellated floor of this ruined processional, the shards of broken bells protruding at sharp
angles from the rubble. A half-collapsed archway revealed a massive congregational chamber in the darkness beyond. The faint hint of whispered murmurs pervaded the stale air like leathery bat wings.
A faint whispering could be heard in the still air, and as the party struggled to identify the words spoken, Ramirez yelped as he flew up into the air and began spinning around, crashing and battering into his companions. As they struggled to catch their friend, something landed on the floor of the room to the east. A flight of barbed arrows heralded the arrival of this new threat – a barbed devil!
The hellspawn tore into the group, as Ramirez continued to spiral around through the air helplessly. Finally, he was able to break the telekinetic grip of whatever had ensnared him, and he joined the fight against the devil, who quickly fell under the two-handed of the master fighter.
The party decided to investigate the room from which the devil had come. Inside, rickety wooden stairs spiraled around the inner perimeter of a tower. A huge bell of cracked bronze lay in the middle of the floor, long fallen from its mounts high above.
Ramirez stepped forward to investigate the fallen bell.
And then a ghostly bell appeared in the belfry, tolling doom for all who hear it with an earsplitting clangor. The shockwave swept over the party, tossing them violently to the floor and causing them to shriek in agony. And then it passed, leaving the group with bleeding ears and pounding heads.
Having had enough of this, the group decided to continue on further into the cathedral proper, and headed into the nave.
Hundreds of skulls decorated carved stone columns in macabre arrangements, casting their dead gazes over this empty chamber. High overhead, intricate buttresses like crooked bony fingers supported a massive vault, and the walls alternated between rich panels of aged wood and collapsed stonework piled floor to ceiling. A fresh, bloody smear stained the floor between the broken pews, leading to a chamber to the west.
Following the bloodstain, the group crept up onto a horrifying scene.
In the ruined sacristy, fresh bloodstains spattered the walls and floor of this rubble-filled chamber. A makeshift, bloodstained altar stood in the center of the room. Six voracious, bloated ghouls inhabited this chamber, feasting on the fresh corpse of a man seemingly dragged here from the back of the cathedral.
The creatures finally sensed fresh blood, and turned to attack the party, only to be met by the swelling power of Sarenrae as commanded by Haza.
Torquemada and Ramirez drew steel and attacked, but as Ramirez cut down one of the bloated figures, it exploded into a shower of blood and gore, covering the fighter in diseased flesh. Undeterred, he returned to the fight, and soon the undead ghouls fell to the embrace of true death.
There was nothing to be done for the hapless Varisian man, so the party continued their explorations, moving onto the choir.
Cracked stone steps descended steeply into this dedicated choir, which held a long table covered in the eviscerated remains of obviously humanoid corpses. A once-opulent bishop’s throne overlooked the choir from the east, its jewels and gold sheeting long plundered, and now covered in greasy, foul-smelling brown hair.
Waves of fatigue crashed over the party, and they turned to look for this new threat but nothing was there. Then an agonizing pain as the party’s skin began to shrivel and desiccate, as the moisture was sucked from their bodies from a horrid wilting.
And still nothing appeared.
Torquemada suddenly realized that their attacker was above them, and Haza cast light to see what they faced.
A meladaemon. A harbinger of death by starvation and thirst.
And then it swept down upon then, knocking the sword from Ramirez’s grasp and casting quickened magic missiles into Torquemada. The daemon moved off into the darkness, ahead of Ramirez, and grabbed his magic blade. It turned to face the enraged fighter and then simply teleported away!
And then it was back, attacking with scabrous claws and teeth.
The daemon fought to the death, cursing the mortals even as it was banished back to Abaddon.
But of Ramirez’s blade, there was no sign.
Haza suggested casting a Locate Object spell in the morning, and their next action was discussed. Finally, the party agreed to press on a bit farther, if only to see what was left in the cathedral.
Heading into the apse, the group spied the central point of worship in this dark church – the altar. This cracked altar smoldered with gray fumes; upon it were stacked foul offerings of bloody skulls, decayed flesh, and broken scythe blades.
Again, faint whispers filled the air, and Ramirez stepped forward, nonchalantly beginning to consume scraps of dead flesh from the altar. Torquemada and Haza were shocked, and exhorted Ramirez to stop, but he did not seem to think his actions unusual in any way. Finally, they were forced to push him from the “table,” and continued on into a nearby hallway as the evil whispers faded into the distance.
As with the rest of Renchurch Cathedral, this hallway was also filled with death and horror. Dozens of decapitated human heads preserved as crudely mounted trophies adorned the walls of this tall, imposing hallway. As Torquemada walked down it’s length, all of the heads came to life, their mouths gasping for breath. The party also found themselves gasping for breath, slowly asphyxiating in tandem with the haunted hallway!
Retreating now, the party backed out of the haunted hallway, and resolved to leave the abbey grounds for the day to rest and regroup. They returned to the site of their camp from the previous night, Haza once again using stone shape to create a secure cave for their protection and security.
Night fell across the Hungry Mountains as the party settled in for the night.