Our squad continued our effort to clear out the Predator Pools zone. Moving with cautious stealth, we moved eastward into a vaguely L-shaped anteroom. Beyond the entrance, the walls expanded into an enormous circular chamber and a central pool. The swirling water is marked by a sickly, reddish-black water. Within the pool, eight platform – pillars surround a hulking, black stone shrine. Beautiful, bas-relief roses cover its surface along with dark crystals and black, seemingly smoking runes.
Unease raised the hairs across my arms, causing me to settle into a fighting stance. I quietly whispered, “I really don’t like the look of that shrine. Seems all too sinister to be welcoming.” “Agreed”, Zawadi growled. “Bah, you durn elf”, Aldrik grunted. A grayish skinned, armored undead human – a dread warrior – broke the water and climbed to attack. In its hands, it wielded an enormous great axe. Guttural, cracking Draconic syllables sprang from Zawadi’s lips, as Bahumat’s blessing was invoked upon us. “Right….You were saying, Aldrik.” Everyone, but Magus advanced to flank the advancing warrior.
Swinging Whelm, Aldrik landed a solid, bone-cracking blow to warrior’s shoulder. Almost immediately thereafter, three flaming rays (thrown by Magus) charred its torso. Meanwhile, the warrior swung its axe wide of Sloth’s approaching form. Sloth responded by dislocating its jaw and smashing is cheekbone. Whelm swung downwards against its leg, as Aldrik took advantage of the warrior’s imbalanced body. Somersaulting over to its side, my rapier sunk to its hilt into its lower back.
Our party continued rapid punishment of this fallen warrior. Zawadi leaned forward, emitting a forked line of lightening breath. A ray of frost bookended repeated blows from Whelm and one from Sloth’s fist. Its flesh tearing, the warrior turned toward me, scything the axe in a shallow cut against my leg. Emboldened by pain, I pierced its abdomen with Cat’s Fang as it fell to a knee. As it tried to stand again, Claw severed its head from its body. Aldrik, spitting on its body, ground its skull.
Zawadi advanced on the shrine, hoping to consecrate the foul structure. A powerful necrotic power encircled his (or her) head, seemingly a mind assault that nearly buckled the knees. Gritting teeth, a fervent prayer brought relief. As we steadied Zawadi, Magus destroyed the black runes. Suddenly things went black.
When awareness focus, we stood within a rectangular room. Teleported? Clearly someone had finally noticed our assault, and brought us here for…. Perhaps to stop our ceaseless meddling. A impressionistic flash, from seemingly nowhere, imparted our destination: the Temple of Plagues. Aldrik noted our fellows had likewise been teleported elsewhere. We were all seized by an oppressive ominous feeling that sought to weaken us. Another prayer to Bahumat brought us relief. I am unclear what fell wizardry that feeling was a symptom.
A yellowish green mist permeated the air and slightly distorted our vision. The floors, walls, and central raised dais – which featured the now familiar black runes – were all constructed of white marble. Likewise, we noted the presence of a black gate. An overpowering wave of naseau washed over Zawadi, Magus, and I, immobilizing us as we uncontrollably retched.
Four zombies advanced from on us in a line from near the dais. Thankfully, the combined effects of a wave of thunder and fireball obliterated them all – allowing us all to collect our wits. Striding from around the dais, a red wizard and a staff-wielding, Deathlock Wight appeared – unfazed by fireball’s blast. “You fools. Your continued disturbance has not gone unnoticed. I, Sutay, will make you rue this day!” “Wonderful, two casters. I have the Red Robe. Who wants the Wight?”, I barked. Magus quickly cast haste on Sloth. My companions engaged the Wight. Sloth rapidly punched the Wight and Magus blasted him with flaming rays. Thankfully, a final skull crushing blow from Whelm dropped the Wight.
“Care to dance?”, I quipped as I slashed the Wizard with Claw. In response, he teleported elsewhere. “I always suspected you Red Wizards were arrogant cowards.”
In his stead, a huge, crazed orc rushed our group, screeching in broken Common, “I am Bendragon, the Chosen of Yurtus. Prepare to die!” Sloth, still hasted, slaughtered the Chosen with ease. Meanwhile, the cowardly Thayan returned, just in time to see his “reinforcement” perish. Walking into our midst, he launched a fireball across the room to hit Magus. Our hearts seized as he was engulfed by the enormous blast. As the flames disappeared, Magus was standing, seemingly unaffected. The Thayan was brutally punched, bludgeoned and slashed apart. Sloth continued to punch the remaining pulpy gore, even after the wizard was clearly dead. I suspect Magus enjoyed this bit of payback. Sloth was called off after we disrupted another black rune gate.
Our party searched the corpse quickly. Sutay’s robes contained a skeleton key, a glyph key (attuned to this zone), and scrolls of Remove Curse and Speak with Dead. I can surmise the farruking bastard sought to slay us and question our corpses about our agenda, allies, and seek an opening to assault the Sword Coast again. Besides his robes, he wore a set of Bracers of Defense, which we gifted to Sloth for vicious attack.
Hm, so the Thayans are experimenting on, enslaving, or recruiting Chosen amenable to their cause. In this case, a Chosen of the stinking Lord of Maggots, the Orcish deity of death, pestilence, and suffering. A circelet transmission we received shortly confirmed this. Our companions had fought oozes and a Red Wizard. They also encountered a drow Chosen of Ghaunadaur – the until recently dead God of Oozes. This chosen killed himself, rather than spend more time under the yoke of Thay.
I would now propose a theory: The Doomvault itself as the setting wherein the Red Wizards experiment with monsters and harnesses Chosen’s powers to augment select monsters for use by elite Thayan units. Surely, those in the position to defend the good folk of Faerun must be privy to this underlying agenda. Likewise, a potential arms race may be brewing to bolster future attacks and cement Thay as a long-lasting supreme power.
I must speak with Aldrik about communicating my suspicions to the second group. I may prove essential to pursue two tactics: free any Chosen of the good pantheon and counter or slay Chosen of the evil gods. Certainly this strategy will further disrupt Szass Tam’s agenda greatly. With Erevan’s favor, we will soon be reunited to augment our disruptive effort.
On a lighter note, I heard our struggle is now being chronicled by a halfling bard. My hope is that his accounts does our deeds justice, and that it is colored by more comedy and valor rather than tragedy.