Friday, August 26, 2016

The Grail Tomb Beneath The Church of St. Othric

Months have passed since the party killed Edgar Bolgakof, a vampire in league with the mysterious Master. 

Due to the valor and competence the party illustrated during the attack on the execution of Imogen Olashenko, as well as the mighty deed of having slain a vampire, the Church of Saintly Blood began to show a marked interest in the rebirth of faith in St. Othric that seems centered on the group. To this end, the Church sent Artem van Hoven, a member of the Choristers, to discuss bringing the burgeoning St. Othric movement into closer partnership with the Church.

Artem, a no-nonsense man of middle years, offered money and labor to build-up the Bolgakof castle that Pen wanted to reclaim for Othric (turning it into a barracks for the training of future Knights of St. Othric), the watchtower built in Sellvek's Hollow (turning it into the hub of a proselytizing mission led by Seraphine), and the Church of St. Othric where Tristan and company saw an act of miraculous healing (clearing the caved-in entrance to the lower floors so that further mysteries of St. Othric may be discovered).

In return for such boons, the Church did insist on some degree of oversight of the reborn Knights of St. Othric to make sure that the sect is in compliance with its teachings and in no way harbors heretical practices or beliefs. The party agreed to these terms, and thus faith in St. Othric re-emerges as a bastion against the darkness once more. And it is sorely needed, as reports of the ravages of the undead and cropping up now with alarming frequency.

Luka has officially joined the reborn Knights of St. Othric. Tristan has been busy organizing the rebuilding of St. Othric's grandeur (and perhaps plotting future forays against the undead). An exploratory expedition was sent into underground level beneath the Church of St. Othric, but the vanguard reported that it was extremely cold down in the depths and the atmosphere was too unnerving for them to bear for very long. After meeting with Artem, the group decided that they would be the ones to explore what lies beneath the church. Artem explained what little he could uncover; he said that the Church of St. Othric rested on the site of a Grail Tomb--a structure build by the ancient Lamians, a civilization the predated the rise of mankind. Since part of Othric's lore was his dedication to sealing away evil beneath his holy sites, what horrors might lurk beneath the church that carries his name?

Luka and Tristan arrived at the Church of St. Othric to find a scene of bustling activity; new buildings were being erected around the church. They also found a tall, rangy man with uncanny features lounging upon the steps leading down to the church's door. After introducing himself as Kylic, and explaining that he had followed the "bones of the earth" to the Church, he offered to accompany Tristan and Luka down into the hypogean depths--he sweetened the deal by proclaiming that he had to the power to heal any wounds they might incur as they explored underneath the site.

After a quaff of ale (Luka needed to settle his head in the wake of Kylic's dazzling wordplay) and a bit of banter with one of the bandits the party had previously converted to the service of St. Othric, the trio descended into the uncovered depths via a wooden scaffold that had been built as part of the excavation. The most evident thing at the bottom of the scaffolding was the intense and unnatural cold; all three men began to shiver uncontrollably despite it being the dog days of summer above. The next thing they noticed was that the walls were covered with engravings depicting the Lamians--many of which featured grails and goblets as motifs.

Exploration happened.

Tristan kicked open a stone door, which promptly caused an explosion of necromantic energy that nearly dissolved his flesh. Kylic felt a disturbance along the skin of the world and flattened himself against a wall to avoid the blast; Luka's superior reflexes saved him.

The group discovered an inert man-like construction made of wood and iron, slumped against the wall of a chamber as if it were crying sorrowfully.

A trio of women in black lace dresses were discovered trying to open a stone door. They attacked our heroes with baleful necromancy, but were killed without mercy. The group got a key that opened some of the chambers they discovered.

They discovered two altars, one that had a carved skull atop it and another that supported an ornate mirror with a black surface. They shut the doors to those chambers without messing with either of those objects.

An ancient bedchamber was uncovered, the four-poster bed topped with golden eagles. The walls in this chamber were carved with images depicting St. Othric fighting against a dragon-like creature.
Another room was decorated with graven images that seemed to continue the story: these depicted St. Othric and a retinue of knights dragging a bound fiend up a mountain to be fed to the conquered dragon.

A shattered door opened up into a chamber littered with pulverized bones. When Kylic strode into the room and stood upon the bones, they began to rattle and vibrate, but they eventually stopped and nothing more happened. The room next door had piles of treasure--coins mixed with miscellaneous pieces of armor and weapons--scattered on the floor. The party shut this door as well, expecting a trap.

Another altar, but this one was attended by three cloaked figures praying to a glass eye upon a brass stand. Luka didn't wait for an invitation; he fired at one of them and combat began...but none of the creatures attacked the party as such. Rather they avoided the party's attacks as best they could, while simply gazing upon their foes with fiery red eyes. The mere gaze of these beings withered the flesh and shook the souls of the adventurers. Mid-combat, one of the creatures spoke to Luka, revealing a part of his past that he generally prefers to try to forget. The battle was harrowing, but the party eventually prevailed due to the curative magic provided by Kylic, whose words above about healing sundered flesh proved accurate.

After the battle, a mysterious voice reverberated throughout the chamber, saying "You have slain the last of my faithful. Who will worship me now?" In response, Luka said, "Not me" and sent the glass eyes crashing to the stone floor...which caused it to release wisps of blue haze that matched the color of the eye's iris. The voice then said, "You have served me far better than they," and then was silent.

Their resources greatly depleted and the cold quickly exhausting their vigor, Tristan, Luka, and Kylic decided to venture back to the safety of the church above and gather their strength before continuing to explore the Grail Tomb. As they climbed back up the wooden scaffolding, Kylic heard a woman's voice singing--intoning the kind of song a woman would sing while pacing a widow's walk, staring out to sea, even though she knows her love has been lost to the waves.

* * *

The Spoils
XP - 550 each

Inspiration - Kylic gets inspiration for his delightful and bewildering performance of his personality traits

Treasure - Three small books written in Abyssal, bound in black leather