Key of Destiny: Chapter 3
The Night of Betrayal was an incident which happened 700 years ago and expounds upon much of Caeldor’s backstory. The party noticed several “spectral flickers”, as they entered the Temple. (Basically shades of memory from the Ethereal Plane persist in the temple; not true ghosts, the emotions of that one night combined with the curse essentially replays the scenes again and again as illusions which cannot be affected by outside forces. Like a bad replay of a VHS recording) Through this, the PCs witness the atrocities committed and Caeldor’s (aka The Betrayer") depravity.
The party learned he was a former priest who grew angry with his inability to extend his life so threw in with a cult of Ogres and agreed to slay everyone he lived with on his path to becoming a lich.
The Shattered Temple was once a grand place, a pyramid-shaped sandstone structure hewn by dwarven masonry. Despite its location in an out of the way location, great care was given to its planning, as it was one of the few Istaran temples in the region and the Empire and Khurish people both take their religion very seriously. Almost all of the rooms succumbed to the ravages of age and no maintenance, but many of its magic rooms and traps persevere. It is now inhabited mostly by oozes, vermin, and the undead.
A loud shout rises on the air, piercing the calm night with an alarm. “Ogres!” Suddenly, the sound of heavy booted feet, followed by the echoing war of bloodthirsty warriors, drowns out the sound of the alarm as a horde of ogres tears their way up the temple steps. One burly ogre, his tusks wet with crimson blood, leads the pack, pausing long enough at the temple entrance to swing at the tall, smiling statue of Mishakal with a single mighty blow. Bending over, he lifts the cracked marble head of the goddess from the ground and hefts it over his head, releasing a booming warcry that is quickly picked up by the other ogres in the valley.
“Ogres testicles on the Minotaur horn! It looks like a tennis ball…” -Birdman
This was probably the most brutal fight of the night. Right off the bat. By the end of the fight the Goblin Beta was slain and ogres were stacked like chord wood in the small room.
The group made their way through the temple levels, seeing more scenes of what happened to the people who lived there. They picked up a few magic items and slew several beasts like mimics and large spiders. They bypassed Ochre Jelly and Cubes. And learned that a former priest Caeldor was the cause of the slaughter.
They came upon a large library and found a fellow explorer who guarder her identity, but was otherwise friendly until she was put upon by the Knight’s advances…
Well, it seems as if I am not the only one whose curiosity has been piqued by the temple’s reappearance. Welcome, fellow explorers, my name is Anasana." Her voice is warm and heavily accented and her tone seems sincere.
She gave the group some useful information and talked about the “Tears of Myshikal”. However, after receiving a “Dick Pick” she turned to gaseous form and left the party forever.
“I find a nook in the library and draw a dick sketch!!” -Knight of Solamnia
The group made it into different rooms that were full of statues of Good Gods, some of Neutral Gods, and one room with Evil Gods. When the party was in the room with the Evil Gods, they witnessed a vision of what transpired when the Temple was attacked. A cleric was parying to the statue for help. It animated and said it could not help him in life, but it would grant him vengeance. The statute of Takhesis turned and said to the party, “Yes, vengeance shall not come from my hand…but from yours!”.
The party ended up in the room dedicated to the Gods of good and found what was presumably the Betrayer body over a sarcophagus with the Shard of Light driven through his corpse. At that point, they witnessed the final fight in the Temple…
The Betrayer stands before the large sarcophagus, his hands held high as he gazes up, his voice echoing through the chamber as he offers a prayer to Chemosh.
“Dark God of Immortality, He Who Stops Death, I devote myself to you, in body, in mind, in heart, and in soul…”
As the Betrayer repeats his prayer, he does not notice the door opening or the young acolyte entering with the glowing short sword in his hand. In the same vein, the young acolyte does not seem to notice the large skeletal creature lurking in the shadows of the crypt.
“Halt, Betrayer!” the acolyte cries out.
Startled out of his prayer, the Betrayer turns around, his eyes gleaming from behind his skull mask as he stares at the young man. Suddenly, the Betrayer begins to laugh, a cruel, mocking sound that causes the acolyte to tremble.
“Ahhhh, so you are the one who would face me, Neran? You have not even put on the white robes of Paladine what makes you think you can stop me from completing my ritual?” The Betrayer shakes his head, clucking his tongue.
“Ye…yes, Betrayer. I shall be the one who will bring you before the gods for Justice,” Neran replies softly, clenching his jaw as he takes a step forward, rising the short blade before him.
The fiend roars as the holy light blinds it. Before the fiend, or the Betrayer, can respond, Neran rushes forward at a dead run, the blade held forth as he skirts around the fiend toward the evil priest. Time seems to dilate, the moments stretching out as Neran lunges forward with his sword…
…as the Betrayer yells out a final, desperate phrase…
…as the fiend turns and swings is glaive toward the boy’s unprotected back…
…the Betrayer’s body jerks as the glowing sword pierces his chest with enough force that the blade embeds itself into the stone sarcophagus beneath him…
…Neran screams in pain as the fiend’s weapon slices through his spine, tossing him to the side where he collapses in a faint…
…the fiend roars in victory as he turns and swings his weapon once more toward the injured boy…
…Neran closes his eyes, clutching his medallion with a bloody fist and whispers something that only his god can hear…
…a brilliant explosion of light explodes out from the acolyte’s body, throwing the fiend across the room as a golden radiance infuses the walls.
As the blinding light fades, the Betrayer lays lifeless upon the sarcophagus, his body pierced by the holy blade. Neran lays on the floor, a peaceful look upon his features, his spirit already carried away to join with his god. And a fiend summoned by the Betrayer howls in rage as it finds itself trapped in a crypt by the last words of a hero who history would remain unknown for many, many centuries…
This is when they were set upon by a bearded devil that had been trapped in the room all these years. One member retrieved the shard of light after examining a skull mask laying next to the sarcophagus. The Devil was quickly dispatched before everyone even had time to act! Flawless Victory.
The group then made their way out of the temple…
bq). As you finally reach the fresh, open air outside you feel a burden has been lifted off your shoulders.
“You have found it,” comes a soft voice from behind you, a voice you’ve heard before. Turning around, you see the strange apparition of the young girl Uleena, who stands there gazing at you with those strange blue eyes that know too much.
“You must hurry, for the sands of time are slipping away swiftly… the shard of light is a key, a key that will allow you to find what you seek in the ruins of a city that once felt no fear, but now lies beneath a shadow of fire and death…”
Without waiting for a reply, the young girl turns and disappears into the depths of the temple, leaving behind only a faint scent of lilac floating in the air.
The ruined city of which she spoke is Kendermore, once the home of the Kenders before Maylstryx the Red Dragon Overlord destroyed it. The once-fertile region around the city has been warped by the dragon’s magic into a barren wasteland known as the Desolation. The Mikku tribe the party reunites with tell them as much, and offer to escort them to the port city of Ak-Khurman, where from there they can sail to Port Balifor which stands at the edge of the Desolation. They also inform the Knight that “his man” rode off with his horse in the middle of the night, and the “other” birdman went after him.
The Mikku suggest that not only is Ak-Khurman the closest city of any kind, it is held by the Legion of Steel and thus friendlier to the party, as it is rumored that the Khan is seeking an alliance with the Knights of Neraka.