The Black Ziggurat
The party having resupplied, headed out to launch their final attack on the Hidden Temple. Their resolve to stop the Lady Below was strong and they would not be stopped. They reached the temple at the same time as a group of bugbears leading a coffle of prisoners from Türos Astor. A short fight ensued and the prisoners were liberated. The prisoners left heading towards the safety of the Midway Inn. The party entered the crack in the stone hill.
The party entered the temple without any resistance, but instead of fighting their way through the halls and rooms they climbed on the roof of the temple and quickly spotted a black ziggurat. Stealthily approaching, they soon found themselves gazing down into a courtyard. A group of gnolls and kobolds were leading another coffle of prisoners down into the ziggurat. The party quickly devised a plan and launched an attack on the gnolls.
The plan was a success, the beastmen were caught off guard and killed quickly. However the fighting alerted the master of the ziggurat, Idimmu the Demonic. The black dragon quickly cast mirror image on himself and the party witnessed three dragons come roaring out of the ziggurat. Idimmu unleashed his breath weapon killing all of the prisoners and gravely injuring Vilhelmus. Brother Merrin quickly used a prayer to remove the rotting disease that threatened to kill Vilhelmus,
Ivanova and Garrick fired arrows and bolts at the dragon, shattering two of the mirror images. Lozan pulled out a green potion she had acquired from the treasure hoard of Agrippa. Swallowing the potion, Lozan grew to twice her height. As the dragon moved to attack, she ran up the ziggurat and sprang off of it. She slammed into the dragon mid-air and threw him to the ground. Vilhelmus ran forward and drove his sword into its heart, killing the dragon.
The party took some time to recover, it was during this time they discovered another ancient treasure room. Taking stock they grabbed a few choice items and they all decided to press on. Stopping at the top of the temple, they smashed the evil altar. They quickly found Idimmu’s treasure hoard and picked through it. They discovered an enchanted blade that once belongs to one of Lozan’s Blade Dancer Sisters, the one that was recently murdered. Lozan took the blade named Death Drinker and promised to use it to destroy her sister’s murderers.
The Blood Lake
Thanks to Oberron previous scouting trip of the catacombs, the heroes knew where the Outer Fane was. Oberron led them down from the ziggurat into the catacombs. The party quickly noticed that there was a lack of beastmen or undead activity, as if the temple had been emptied.
The party soon found themselves on the shores of the lake of blood and saw for the first time, the great tree made of flesh. As a paladin of Fionnghuala the Fair Shouldered, a goddess of sisterhood, sacred pools, water birds and deep and hidden magic, Ivanova saw it as abomination against nature itself and moved to cut down the tree. As she stepped into the blood, it recoiled from her as if touch her would be anathema. She strode towards the tree parting the waters of the lake.
Abominations lurking within the lake moved to attack her but where repealed by the faith of Brother Merrin. The tree attempted to defend itself but the party fought off its tendrils. Ivanova with aid from the party destroyed the tree.
The Outer Fane
The party pressed on and entered the Outer Fane, they were confronted by Ur-Namu, High Priest of Sakkara and his catechists reinforced with deathless minions. Avery let forth with his burning hands and incinerated many of the minions while Brother Merrin cast silence to stop the catechists from casting spells. The party made short work of the catechists. Ur-Namu escaped out the back, running towards the Inner Fane and the Lady Below.
After dispatching all of the enemies, the heroes defiled the altar and icons of Sakkara. They left the Inner Fane and heading down the passageway that the High Priest had ran down.
The Inner Fane
The party strode into the Inner Fane and quickly realized they had walked into a trap. A horde of skeletons and zombies filled the room. The Stone of Sakkara sat atop an altar of bone that rises from an image of a massive serpent eating its own tail carved onto a dais in the center of the 70’ wide, egg-shaped cavern. Veins and fleshy “roots” grew around and through the bones of this altar, knitting them together in a blasphemous whole. The tendrils spread across the floor, past a ring of burning braziers stationed around the altar, and grow up into the ceiling 25’ overhead.
Standing on the altar was Ur-Namu, High Priest of Sakkara and two more of his catechists. Also standing on the altar was a female warrior wearing plate armor and a masked helm, The Lady below herself. Brother Merrin’s spell of silence rendered everyone mute, so he charged towards the altar before anyone could stop him. The undead stepped aside and allowed him. As he approached, The Lady Below took a step forward and decapitated the cleric with one blow from her great ax; this broke the spell of silence.
Most of party was shocked by the sudden charge and equally quick death of Brother Merrin. With the spell gone, The Lady Below took off her helm and addressed the remaining heroes. To the shock of all, the heroes had met her before. The Lady Below was actually the Lady Celena Valerian and she was a Ruinguard, a Fell Paladin of Sakkara!
She took delight in the shock of surprise on their faces. She told them how she had been manipulating them to get to this moment using her doppleganger agent posing as herself in the fort. She needed them to be sacrifices to the Heart of Sakkara, as the blood of heroes made the heart even stronger. And with that battle was joined.
Avery once again let forth with his flames incinerating the undead. Lozan drove back a group of skeletons using her holy symbol. The Lady Below charged the heroes and was soon locked in combat with Ivanova. The battle was bloody as the combat turned into was swirling melee.
Ivanova and Celena exchanged a flurry of ringing blows, each doing damage to other. The two warriors were equally matched. CelenA sacrificed some of her arcane energy and prepared an arcane strike, seeking to end the stalemate with a decisive blow. Ivanova at the same time dropped her shield to take a two handed grip on her sword. Both warriors struck mighty blows, Celena’s great axe ripped through Ivanova’s armor and dealt the paladin a mortal wound. Ivanova sword struck true (Natural 20) and cut off Celena’s head.
Ur-Namu seeing that his mistress was down broke away from the fighting and attempted to seize the heart for himself. Lozan lept forward and drove her sword clear through the priest chest and pierce the Heart of Sakkara while speaking the words that activated the swords dread power. The Heart of Sakkara exploded into a red mist that turned Ur-Namu into protoplasmic goo.
The remaining undead collapsed as the power that once animated was gone. The heroes looked around and quickly tended to the wounded. On the altar, where the stone was stood was not three glowing diamond like shards.