Previously, the heroes made their way down the river from Blackbough on the boat of an Acadian family. Their destination was Wyrmblood Lake, where Melchior, also known as Xamael the Defiler, made his home in the lair of Kalauranthalasis. They headed north after saying goodbye to the Acadians and set up an overnight camp in the swamp, during which they were attacked by quicklings; fairy agents of Kalauranthalasis who mistook them for Xamael’s disciples. Wynn, a captured quickling, explained the situation at Wyrmblood Lake and proceeded to help the heroes get into the ziggurat laying partially submerged at the centre of the lake.
First Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262
(Silvermoon in low sanction. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)
Once the heroes had boldly marched past the lizardfolk who were guarding the lake and the top of the ziggurat, the heroes descended down several staircases winding down into the building. The stones around them were tinged with green by centuries of moss growth and vines and roots were protruding from the walls and ceilings.
The descent ended when one of the staircases was flooded with swamp water. Some discarded clothing and a hooded lantern were found on the steps leading into the murky depths. Quentin, unaccustomed to the darkness, toyed with the idea of bringing the lantern along but ultimately found it an annoyance and left it behind.
James volunteered to take one end of a length of rope that the heroes had with them and take a dive into the water, hopefully finding a way through the water and to a pocket of air. He dove in and swam, down the steps and then through a corridor. Plants and vines were tangling his arms and legs as he swam and he panicked. Instinctively he swam up in the hope of breaching the surface only to find a large hall with high ceilings that had trapped a pocket of air. Coughing, he retched up the several gulps of swamp water that he had tried to inhale.
When the panic had subsided, James found that at the back of the room their was a dry platform with two staircases leading to it from the submerged part of the room. There he found a place to tie the rope to a broken column of stones. He gave a tug, signalling to the others that they could come through. One by one the heroes took the plunge and swam to the other side. While waiting, Emrys was approached by Wynn, who had managed to find and join his quickling friends and convinced them to relinquish the bone flute that they had stolen from Emrys.
Once on the other side the heroes inspected the platform and the submerged room and found that there were intricate carvings all along the walls, which had been faded by time and the harsh conditions of the swamp. They also found that the platform had a corridor leading away. Several tracks leading from the water to this corridor could be found, but before they could be analysed the dripping wet clothing of the heroes had already spoiled them. The conclusion was that the submerged room used to serve as an audience chamber of some sort and that the murals showed images of people coming to appeal to a council of elders or wise people who sat upon the platform. The murals reminded those who had been in the catacombs underneath Lynnecombe of the ones they found there.
Quentin, who had taken off his armour in order to swim into the submerged room, decided to keep his armour off in case there were other swimming challenges which had to be overcome. Emrys and Luca made quick work of their wet clothing by using their magic to dry it all.
Emrys decided he needed more information and wanted to confirm the conclusions they had drawn about the nature of the room and the ziggurat itself. He decided to commune with Toruviel, which had not always been so easy but after the recent breakthrough was made easier. Toruviel could confirm that this structure was one of the Senhadrim vaults, and that its purpose was safety and shelter. It was also confirmed that Toruviel never visited this place and that there were several, dotted all around Lyria.
Prompted by Emrys, Luca turned to Blackstar to ask it whether dragons had souls, to which the hungry staff eagerly exclaimed that they do and urged Luca to reap it! Quentin suggested that in the event that the heroes would not be able to retrieve the “sight” that the good sisters had lost to Xamael, they might want to consider freeing Kalauranthalasis in the hope of gaining an ally. He was fearful that if they did not uphold their end of the bargain the good sister would prevent them from leaving the swamp.
It was decided that James and Emrys, naturally gifted with an enhanced ability to navigate the darkness, would scout ahead. Emrys bestowed James with his gift of invisibility so that he could go undetected even further. They entered the passaged, passed a small chamber of little interest, and made their way down several flights of stairs, noting that the steps of the stairs were much larger than those made for normal men. At the bottom of the steps they found a large room from which soft candle light was glowing.
The room was large with in its centre a large basin filled with rich mulch in which the bones of a winged serpent was laid to rest. The light was coming from two large candles at the rear of the room, and overlooking the grave were two large statues of winged warriors; one holding a sword, the other holding a spear. While James scouted ahead, Emrys went to get the others.
James had given Quentin a lantern and some oil, which Quentin had lit and kept down to a low radiance. Astrid remained close to him and Luca, his vision aided by Blackstar, lead the way down to the room with the grave. Quentin marvelled at the bones of the enormous serpent and concluded that it was a dragon, though Luca was not so sure of that.
A doorway lead away from the room and into a parallel corridor which James began to explore. He headed one way and descended down several flights of large steps only to find himself in a room that reminded him of a chapel. Stone benches stood on either side of a central aisle that ran up to another platform, not unlike the one they saw in the submerged hall, the only difference being that there were no staircases leading up to it. The platform stood at the top of a ten foot wall, and from his position he could only see that there was an altar of some sort at the top of the platform. From the chapel James saw no other doorways or passages.
Returning to the room with the grave, James informed everyone of what he found and urged them to take a look while he investigated the other side of the corridor. When the others got to the chapel they used the light to investigate the different depictions on the walls. They found that one image showed an army of soldiers being lead by a very tall person seemed to be radiating a holy light as they fought against a tide of monsters. The other showed three armies; one of monsters, one of warriors with feathery wings and one of warriors with leathery wings. They all seemed to stand in equal opposition of each other.
Emrys once again attempted to commune with Toruviel about what he saw, and the sword shared that the tall figure with the radiant aura was Aureus the Golden One, saint of Paladine, the founder of the order and most exalted among the Senhadrim.
It was at this time that James had discovered another room at the other end of the corridor which was the scene of a bloodbath. Eight lizardfolk warriors laid dead of very precise slash and stab wounds, in opposition to two of what appeared to be Xamael’s disciples, dressed in leather armour that looked a lot like the one that James had retrieved from the Reaverhaunt caves and was currently wearing. The two disciples had been killed by blunt force trauma, likely caused by the brutal, spiked clubs and fist weapons wielded by the lizardfolk.
James called the others attention to the massacre and Quentin and Luca decided to come over to investigate. Emrys stayed behind in the chapel with Astrid because he was keen to see what was on the platform with the altar. He used Astrid’s help, as well as the several vines that grew along the wall leading up to the platform to climb up there. It was not as easy as it first seemed it would be, but he got up there with Astrid following behind him.
At the top of the platform of the chapel Emrys found three simple, stone altars, a large, metal candle holder of the sort they had seen in the room with the grave, as well as a large, wooden drum, complete with a skin stretched the top of it, fastened by what looked like large crocolisk teeth. At the back there was another doorway to a corridor, which wound up in a room that gave Emrys an unsettling feeling. The room had two other doorways, one directly opposite to the one he entered, which he would later find lead to where the rest of the heroes were, and one other that seemed to lead deeper into the ziggurat.
Once everyone was reunited and had concluded that little could be learned from the fight between the lizardfolk and Xamael’s disciples, they decided to head into the corridor leading away from the room which had unnerved Emrys so.