Library of Howling

19.Magnetic Personalities

Beginning by looking around the exterior of the largest chapel building, the party finds a large hole in the rear of the structure and decide to enter there. Moon slowly leads the way as everyone moves in and eyes adjust to the large dark room. Bill casts his sensing spells which reveals that there are creatures in the nearby area, but they seem to be disguising their position somehow. He lets the party know and Red does his sensing magic, noticing nothing moving in the nearby area.

What they see around them is a large squarish shaped room with a raised altar in the center containing a very large red/orangish metallic statue. Bars seem to surround the statue on three sides, and it faces east. Around the outside of the chapel, three large stones sit in each corner area, each with its own descriptive plaque containing the name of a god. One of the blocks across the room from the party has a gargoyle-looking statue sitting on top of it. In each corner of the chapel is a door entering a round-looking tower-shaped room. Obsidian dust and rocks lightly cover the floor as if the building had been damaged slightly and some of the rock making its walls had shaken loose.

The group begins searching the chapel, starting with the nearest closed door. Bill reads aloud the names listed on the plaques as he passes them on the way to the door. Marble, finding the door locked, picks it without a problem. Upon entering the first door, Marble and Bill find what seems to be a burn pile with only ashes remaining. Bill finds nothing in the ashes that is salvageable, and a search of the room finds nothing else, so the pair move back out into the church proper with the rest of the group.

The party continues moving to the next door at a slow, even pace, keeping watch in all directions. Thin Boots in particular keeps a sharp eye out to the sides and behind the party, bow at the ready. The bard brings up the rear, taking the whole room and trip in as he composes a new song in his head.

Bill once again recites the names of the next three plaques as they pass them on the way to the second door. Marble again picks the lock without issue, and he and Bill again enter the room. This room is bare and empty, and Bill turns to curse the lack of worthwhile items and finds that his voice is silent. Both men try and talk to one another but find their voices are silent. They can still hear the others shuffling outside and immediately move out of the room and find their voices have returned. Bill explains the silent room to the others, and Moon mentions it as related to some type of religious practice. The group moves towards the foyer of the building, noticing another statue on one of the blocks up ahead near the third door.

They find stone benches and the front door barred with a large bar. Bill decides to open up another line of retreat in case things go bad in the chapel and has Ox remove the steel bar on the front door. The doors can now swing open. A search of the room reveals nothing else.

Returning to the chapel main and moving towards the third door. Everyone is sure to keep an eye on all the statues as they move past the nearest, Bill reciting the names on the plaques again. The third door proves a bit trickier for Marble to pick, and after the second try, he yields to Bill who has to use “the easy way”. Motrisvaul cuts the locking mechanism of the door, and it swings a bit open towards them. Both step inside and immediately notice a coalescing form in the center of the room. Knowing what this event foretells, Bill moves around to be behind the emerging creature, and Moon joins the two in the room. Thin Boots stands outside the door nervously both trying to see the action in the room and watch the larger chapel proper. The rest of the party can see movement, but can only watch and listen due to the small nature of the room the others are in.

The mist finally manifests, and Bill immediately stabs Motrisvaul into it, finding that the spear only passes harmlessly through its smokey form. Marble, engaging the Skull that Bill had recently given him does a massive assault on the form with spirit magic, nearly disabling the creature in a single blow. The spirit demon turns from Bill, who he was about to attack, and hisses at Marble, swinging a ghostly hand at him. Marble shrugs off the damage and again hits the creature with focused spirit magic, completely destroying it.

A search of the room reveals a heavy book on a table. Bill, reading through the book while Marble recovers from the fatigue of casting his spells, finds that it is called the Book for Forging. However, he lacks the ability to comprehend most of what the book contains and is forced to relent and puts the book in the bag of loot. After a time, the three emerge back into the chapel proper, and the group moves towards what appears to be a large tapestry on the west wall.

Bill and Marble both try to move and touch the tapestry, which depicts a large demonic-looking hand holding something covered with a cloth. Neither is able to touch or move the tapestry, but there does appear to be a hard wall behind it. Red does his sensing magic and informs the group that there is indeed a hollow space behind this tapestry, and that the tapestry itself seems to not be there. Tests continue as different party members attempt to manipulate or move the tapestry, but nothing is successful until Thirsty steps up and puts his hand on the tapestry. The tapestry itself begins to waver and take on a liquid effect. Bill puts his hand up next to Thirsty’s, and it also wavers. Bill then steps straight through the tapestry and finds himself in a new hidden room. Thirsty follows him in.

This new room reveals an oddly-shaped table covered in different round devices and crystals. While the rest of the party struggle to get through the tapestry, Bill performs his sensing magic, noticing both a demonic creature and a trapdoor on the south floor of the room. By this time, Thirsty had turned and noticed the rest of the party were not able to enter the room so he moves back through the see through (on this side) tapestry and helps Marble, Moon, and Red pass through to the other side. The rest of the party remains on the other side still scanning the chapel proper for trouble.

Bill points out the trapdoor, and Moon moves around to the other side of the table to get a better look at the trapdoor. While over there, he decides to touch one of the metallic globes on the table. Suddenly, Thin Boots can be heard yelling from outside the hidden room and the group emerges as Three Mules tries to put an arrow through a newly emerged creature on one of the statue platforms. This creature appears to be some wild creature with a snake whip, but Bill immediately notices something odd about it. Three Mules’ arrow passes harmlessly through it, and Bill calls a halt to any further actions. Walking up to the platform himself, Bill informs the group that the button Moon had pushed apparently creates this illusion on the platform, and the beast is not real. The main four members move back into the hidden room through the tapestry as the rest of the group crowds around the tapestry watching the chapel proper.

Thin Boots immediately notices someone missing: the bard. Calling everyone back out again, he moves towards the center of the chapel scanning the area for the bard. Once again, the entire party unites and, after being told the bard is missing, scans the area for him. They notice a writhing figure behind one of the empty stones near the fourth un-opened door, and Moon moves up to investigate it. Spreading out to cover him, Bill stands in front of the gargoyle statue nearby watching it closely.

Sure enough, Moon finds a cocooned bard and cuts him out of it. The bard looks especially pale and weak, and Moon tries to carry him over to the others just as Bill decides to perform a surprise strike on the gargoyle statue. At the last second, the gargoyle statue comes to life trying to dodge Bill’s strike, but takes a damaging blow anyway. The gargoyle and group both explode into action, starting with Thin Boots turning and putting an arrow into the neck of the creature opening up a gaping wound. The gargoyle jumps over Bill and manages to make it to Thin Boots who he bites in the arm. Thin Boots’ armor manages to stop all but the tiniest bit of tooth damage from the creature, but that’s all which is needed to inject poison into Thin Boots who immediately begins to pale and weaken. Moon sets the bard down and charges into the fray, and the fight becomes a series of small wounds to the creature as he becomes more and more defensive in his fighting. Thin Boots is forced to retreat to the rear of the party and collapses onto the floor growing ever weaker.

The creature bolts up onto the raised dais at the center of the room, using its range and snapping maw to attack the group. Bill attempts to move up behind it but is forced to run around and up the stairs taking him out of the fight for a moment. The gargoyle continues to take damage in small doses until Red hits it in the groin with a large boulder. The creature then attacks Red but is only able to barely puncture his rock armor, though it is enough to poison Red.

The assault continues on the creature until Red puts it out of its misery with a large rock crushing its shoulder and dropping it entirely.

After collecting themselves and giving those bitten a chance to recover, Bill, Red, and Moon return to the hidden room. Moon decides to hit every button on the table in an attempt to open the trap door, and the men in the chapel main are rewarded with a dramatic display of screams and lights and figures appearing on all of the raised stones. With nothing seeming to work, Moon attempts to hit the trap door with his axe, but it just bounces off of the floor with no effect.

In the meantime, Marble has gotten bored of all the waiting while the others try and figure out the trap door and wanders onto the central dais. He notices a copper plate on the floor and gingerly steps up to it. A booming voice rings out from the central statue just before Marble is completely covered in a large flame blast, burning him badly all across his body and leaving him in a near state of shock.

Emerging yet again from the hidden room, Moon has to act fast to try and save Marble. Bill, knowing his armor will protect him from the flames, decides to be the one to trigger the flame trap again so that Moon can get a hand in the flame and use the fire to heal some of Marble’s wounds. After doing a test to see exactly how the flame trap works, they put the plan into action, and although Moon himself takes some burn wounds trying to absorb all he can, he manages a miraculous display of power and is able to fully heal Marble of his burn wounds.

Returning YET AGAIN to the hidden room, Bill ends up dismissing everyone from the room in an attempt to meditate on the problem and acquire further knowledge. His attempt is unsuccessful, however, and other members of the party return to the room finding him simply staring at the floor.

Returning to the main chapel, Red and Bill look at the tapestry again for clues. Combing his memory for items small enough to fit into his hand, Bill decides to take the necklace that he found in the smaller chapel off and hold it in his hand and go back to the hidden room. As he enters the room, he feels a burning sensation from the medallion and the trap door pops open.

Gathering everyone up, the party descends down into the trap door, following stairs down into a dark hallway. Bill uses the demonic candle to light their way. Moon leads the way next to Bill and soon the party finds itself in front of an old rotting door. Moon pushes open the ancient door and both men step inside. They find a table with five skeleton corpses around it. A ruby chalice sits in the middle of the table. Marble enters the room to check over the skeletons and decides they died in a non-violent way, but otherwise can’t tell much else.

Bill, moving over to a book shelf, finds two large bags of gold as well as three old scrolls and five amulets bearing different symbols of some of the god’s from the pedestals upstairs. All of this goes into the loot bag. Searches reveal nothing else in the room, but a scan of the area from Red outside turns out to reveal a hollow area behind the book shelf in the room. Bill tears down the book shelf but still cannot find any entrance to a hidden room, so Red uses his magic and melts the stone of the wall until a way in is made. Bill enters the hidden room.

He finds a table with a body on it and a silver ceremonial dagger driven through the body. A silver scroll is trapped between the body and dagger, and Bill removes both the dagger and the scroll. Unrolling the silver scroll carefully, he reads by the light of the demonic candle of the night of the final battle in the town. The high priests of this temple rescued something from the champion who fell destroying the angels where Bill’s armor came from. They hid this item and came back here and apparently killed themselves. Bill relates the story and ideas from the scroll to the group, puts both the scroll and dagger into the loot bag, gives the room a good last look and exits down the hallway again.

Moon begins protesting and saying they should leave, but the group ignores him and presses on. Marble’s spirit senses start twinging very badly, and he feels like they are being watched. Around the next corner, the group starts to discover alcoves along the wall with bodies covered by sheets. Upon removing the sheets, there is nothing underneath. Bill encourages Marble to try and exorcise the ghosts now before they attack them later. Marble agrees and attacks the first with spirit magic. The ghost awakens and screams a deathly scream, dropping Bill, Red, and Ox to their knees from the loud wail. It takes two more spirit strikes from Marble and another painful wail from the dying ghost before the creature is completely destroyed.

Pausing to give everyone a chance to recover, four more spirits are found in their respective alcoves. The group passes these by without consequence and discovers a large iron door up ahead. Moon is in the lead, but after showing reluctance to enter the door due to a strange feeling that something wanted him to come in, Marble pushes past and pushes the door open himself.

Bill and Moon see Marble seem to run into the dark room ahead, and then a loud scream of pain from Marble can be heard. Moon tries to enter the room behind Marble and finds himself being pulled against his will away from the door. He realizes that the pull seems to be primarily towards his metal items, and he immediately drops his axe and shield which are pulled away from him at great speed. He strips off pieces of metal armor off his body as the pull relents with the more items he removes. Moon finally manages to remove enough to fight the forces pulling him and returns to the hallway to tell the group about the magnetic force inside.

Red moves up and trades Bill for the demonic candle, giving him the hard rod which may be metal. Red enters the room behind Moon, but discovers that he had not removed all of his metal items and is forced to shed his hammer to avoid being pulled deeper into the room. Finally removing it, he and Moon move in to discover Marble pinned to a spiked wooden wall. Spikes have driven into Marble’s calf and butt, and he is completely pinned to the wall. Moving around behind the wooden wall, Red discovers a large red metal rod which appears to be the source of the magnetic pull. Moon and Red begin an effort to move the magnetic rod around but it causes more stress on Marble and ends up ripping the wooden wall into pieces.

Finally they move back and remove Marble’s armor piece by piece to get him off the wall and spikes. Being freed, Marble collapses near the doorway to the room while Moon runs back to the priest’s room to fetch some wood to make a fire to once again try to heal Marble. Red spends the time digging a tunnel and pushes the magnetic rod down the tunnel, but as he does this the wooden wall gives completely sucking all of the metal items down the hole with the magnetic rod.

With the room free of the magnetic pull of the rod, the rest of the group enters the room. Moon gets a fire started and begins working his healing magic on Marble. Red and Bill explore the other end of the room finding two bodies in chain-mail armor next to a large raised stone in the shape of a heart. Bill finds nothing else special about the surroundings except a small poem written on the side of the stone heart talking about waiting for the return of the armored champion.

Marble stands after being healed of his wounds, and he and Moon stare down the hole trying to figure out how to get their weapons back. Various methods are tried, but no one is able to pry the weapons off of the magnetic rod. In the meantime, Red suggests Bill try to stand on the heart shaped stone, saying that perhaps he is the armored champion mentioned in the poem. As everyone emerges back into the main room near the doorway, Bill steps up onto the stone. A rumbling noise is heard as the stone rapidly parts, appearing to break in half. As this happens, a wail can be heard from the hallway, and Marble senses the rest of the ghosts are about to enter the fray.

Marble, in a dazzling display of magic, throws down a protective circle at the entrance to the hallway. He then single-handedly begins to tear into the ghosts as they come down the hallway, tapping the power of the skull to do devastating magical damage to the ghosts as they approach. Meanwhile, Bill sees something covered by a cloth that has been revealed by the split stone. He reaches down and removes the cloth as a feeling of revulsion sweeps over the other members of the party by whatever is hidden in the stone. Bill can see what appears to be a skullcap made of the darkest metal he has ever seen. The helm appears to absorb the light around it. Bill spends a long time staring at the helm in turmoil before he reaches down and picks it up. Removing his helm, he places the skullcap on his head and awaits the effect.

Marble, having destroyed a second ghost, faces a third now. He has begun to weaken, and Moon steps up trying a winged spell to absorb power from the ghosts he can then push back into Marble. The spell fails, and Moon is forced to bring Three Mules over to tap power from him that he can push into Marble. This effect succeeds, and Three Mules is noticeably weakened while Marble is bolstered by this new energy.

As the ghost fight continues, a sudden pulse of energy shoots out from Bill causing everyone in the room to pause and stare at Bill. Bill himself suddenly feels a battle of wills going on inside him. He turns and regards the other members of the party, feeling as if they are meat for him to feed on, and that feeding would be good. Bill manages to shake off the feeling even as Red recoils from him, trying to divine whether Bill is still in control of his own faculties.

Bill steps down off the heart-shaped dais and approaches the doorway where Marble is making a stand against the last two ghosts, the first of which is near death. Bill joins the fight by casting a fear spell on the two remaining apparitions, and as the magic takes effect, both Marble and Moon notice their spells and circles failing them, but Bill’s fear spell immediately causes the ghosts to flee. The rest of the group notices the red ruby in the new helm pulsing with light during this time.

At this point, a faint figure can be seen down the hallway from Bill, and as he approaches the figure, he sees a skeleton facing him. Forgetting to drop his sensing spells from earlier he feels that the figure wanted to originally stop the interlopers, but now wants to submit, and even feels a bit of fear. Bill marches the creature backward followed by a few of the group members until finally they realize the skeletons (there are now five) are the dead priests from the first room. Bill orders them back into their original room, and the party decides to evacuate the temple entirely and move back over to the barracks where Moon and Marble can pick up some extra weapons.

Deciding to spend the night there, Bill is troubled by violent dreams and is unable to sleep until he removes the skullcap, at which point he sleeps soundly for the rest of the night…