Sarenith 1st, 4711
Underneath the Cathedral of Blades
After a refreshing night in the pocket dimension provided by Father Christmas, Torquemada, Haza, and Ramirez were well-rested and ready to continue their exploration of Renchurch Cathedral in search of their kidnapped ally, Count Galdana.
As they emerged from the wood-panelled hallway back into the fetid pool room, the archway behind them faded into the stonework, leaving only a solid wall in it’s place.
The acid fog that had last threatened them had dissipated and nothing emerged from the stinking waters that dotted the room. The party set their sights on the unexplored doors they had noticed yesterday, and chose to pass through the southeastern door. After listening carefully for indications that someone or something was behind it, they opened the door and discovered a passageway leading to a faintly-lit area beyond.
Moving cautiously, they found themselves entering a small natural cavern area that appeared to have been roughly worked. Dirty rugs and torn pillows covered the floor of this natural cavern, and a thick, heavy fog pervaded the air, glowing with a faint flicker of candlelight that carried with it an unusual stench of moldering chrysanthemums. Everywhere stared the mortared skulls of the dead. Lounging amidst the slowly-drifting fog, a half-dozen Renchurch novices in red robes lay, seemingly unaware of the party’s intrusion.
But it was not to last. One novice seemed to focus on the adventurers, and then he was screaming and pointing and they leaped to the attack. Unfortunately, whatever had created their seeming stupor also slowed their reflexes, as they were unable to mount any kind of effective attack against the party, and soon their bodies lay still and cooling on the floor.
Continuing on, the party came upon a large scriptorium. Ancient bookshelves lined the walls of this poorly-lit chamber, while a dozen haphazardly arranged lecterns stood in the center of the room. To the south, four large glass tanks topped with intricately filigreed brass caps held shriveled, mutilated corpses dressed in the shredded finery of nobility, each suspended in murky embalming fluid.
The party wisely passed on exploring this creepy room, and continued down a south passage, happening upon a barred iron door. Barred from this side.
Curious, Ramirez unbarred the door and cautiously entered the narrow passage he had revealed. It opened into a large, square chamber devoid of furnishings or decoration. The still air within the room was dry and carried the sharp tang of foul-smelling smoke. Ramirez immediately noticed the six dark robed figures standing motionlessly around the room, and held his blade defensively as the Bodaks raised their heads in unison, attempting to catch the mortal fighter in their death gazes!
Ramirez was staggered from their attack and went on the offensive, his heavy sword cutting into these otherworldly foes. Haza and Torquemada pushed their way into the room to assist, but were sorely pressed in the close confines. Waves of exhaustion swept over the party as the battle continued, followed by bouts of sickness that afflicted Ramirez. The bodaks did not seem to be the source of these attacks, but nothing else revealed itself.
With one last blow of his two-hander, Ramirez finally cut down the last bodak, and the weary party moved to leave the blood-splattered room. But during the battle, the iron door through which they had entered had been shut and barred from outside again!
Ramirez slammed his shoulder against the heavy portal, but it did not budge. Taking a few steps back, he tried again, but this time there was no resistance as the door flew open under his assault. He stumbled awkwardly outside and into the pit waiting just beyond the door.
He landed with a thud far below, groaning as the breath was knocked out of him. And then the walls of the pit slammed tight around his body, the heavy stone crushing into his body. Haza yelled from above, tossing a rope down and urging Ramirez to get out! He struggled to his feet as the walls receded and began to climb, but was caught halfway up again as the walls slammed shut again. He struggled on, scrambling over the top of the hungry pit as it slammed shut once more.
The party moved south away from the magical trap, bypassing another western corridor in favor of another that continued to the south.
They emerged into a larger room.
Smoothly polished skulls yellowed with age gazed from countless small alcoves perforating the stone walls of this chamber from floor to ceiling. The collection contained specimens from many races though all of the skulls were missing their jawbones, which lay on the lowest shelves beneath the skulls.
The party passed through the room, leaving the numerous skulls undisturbed.
The next connecting corridor led due east, into a chamber where rotting corpses were stacked like cordwood and rose halfway to the ceiling, threatening to collapse inward because of the path something had made, or rather chewed, through the pile. The stench of rot was overwhelming, and insects buzzed in the air like an oily cloud.
The party gasped on this thick, cloying air, but pushed onward, when something erupted out of a wall of corpses – an enormous, spider-like creature that had three clawed tails and eight legs connected by leathery webs of flesh.
Torquemada recognized the creature as a Qlippoth. Once rulers of the Abyss, the Qlippoths were overthrown when the souls of mortal sinners arrived and transformed into the first demons.
The creature rushed forward and attacked ferociously, and Ramirez fought off it’s ferocious assault while Haza and Torquemada struggled to penetrate it’s spell resistance. Then a cone of cold blasted into the party.
Then, as Torquemada maneuvered into a better position, he noticed something standing behind them casting a spell. It was apparently unseen by the others, but revealed by his see invisibility magic.
Torquemada lashed out at the creature, trying to catch it unawares, but it swiftly recovered from it’s surprise at being detected. It jumped back into the corridor and snarled at Torque:
“Well played, Inquisitor. But the battle is not yet over. Better tend to your friends, " intoned the werewolf-like spellcaster. And then it stepped back and dimension doored away.
Torque had now way to track the creature, and so returned to help fight the Qlippoth just as Ramirez went down under it’s claws. Torque distracted the monster while Haza healed Ramirez, who was quick to rejoin the fray.
This time, it was the Qlippoth who fell into the embrace of death.
The Urgathoan Fly
Undaunted, the party pressed on, leaving the piles of corpses and the corpse of the Qlippoth behind. They moved down a short corridor through a set of large double doors.
The ruddy glow of smoldering embers cast strange shadows on this chamber’s walls. Beyond, rows of cracked stone pews marble steps led to a raised dais encapsulating a large fire pit. Standing over the pit was an enormous iron statue of a fly; wretched screams echoing from within as some living creature was roasted alive inside the grotesque effigy. Large doors of iron stood in the wall behind the statue.
Three robed, emaciated figures stood arrayed around the fire pit, arms raised as they chanted unholy prayers in the name of Urgathoa, the Pallid Princess of the undead.
The adventurers rushed forward to rescue whoever or whatever was inside the burning iron fly, when trio of flame strikes came roaring down from the ceiling above, scorching the party. Ramirez staggered forward, attempting to charge the three undead clerics, but his rush was blocked as burning skeletons erupted from the fire pit to meet his attack.
Ramirez slashed his way through the undead skeletons, but the clerics continued their magical assault, and soon the group began to wither under the assault of powerful spells.
Then the iron fly moved.
The iron golem lunged forward and smashed into Ramirez, knocking him reeling. One undead cleric fell to Haza and Torquemada, but then the wolf-creature reappeared, blasting the party with another cone of cold.
The party struggled on against the three sets of adversaries. Ramirez went down, as did Haza, and Torquemada struggled to save his companions. Two clerics had fallen, as had the wolf-creature, but the golem proved tenacious. Finally, it also fell, crashing to the floor as the last undead cleric died screaming unholy prayers.
Weary, beaten, and exhausted, the party stood triumphant.
But what terrors remained yet to face underneath the Cathedral of Blades?