After the events of the last few sessions (A Different Keep on the Borderlands - Part 4 and The Test), the rest of the party continued training and planning their next move. With the dragon contained, for a while anyway, the party needed to train and do some research on their next options.
- Hunter trained with Marcus, another local ranger in the area. Davyn, who had trained him in the past, was not available, still researching leads on Catriona, a missing friend that the party was also trying to find.
- Theo was able to train with Lynn, the dwarf who had trained him previously in Flotsam.
- Jesswin was able to train with some monks at a small shrine in the Temple District.
- Greybear returned to his druidic circle (several days outside of Flotsam) to train before returning to the city to meet up with everyone else.
- Bergin was able to train with some visiting clerics of Paladine. While Bergin is a priest of Kiri-Jolith, the two gods are closely aligned.
The party then followed up with more research in the Temple of Knowledge (one of the largest libraries in the area as well as a church of Gilean). While at the temple, they met Adow, a young wizard who was also seeking the Gem for his own reasons and willing to work with the rest of the party.
Adow revealed that the last known location of the gem was within the the Temple of the Flaming Fist, a long abandoned monastery of Sirrion, a few days journey from here. Adow previously tried to get other adventurers to explore the temple with him, but everyone in town the temple ruins had long been explored (and picked over) by anyone who every wielded a blade or staff.
The following morning, Adow and the rest of the group head off for the abandoned temple. The journey along the way is uneventful, and on the fifth day, they came across the remains of where the temple once stood hundreds of years ago.
The empty field still held subtle remains of the temple that once stood here. While all the wood structures had long since decayed, some remnants of the stone buildings littered the area. Likewise, a ridge in the ground surrounding the clearing showed where the outer wooden wall once stood.
Though nature had all but reclaimed this once tamed land, in the debris and overgrowth, the party was able to find a stone stairwell leading underground. Once this stairwell was probably contained within the above ground main temple, but now it was just a hole, leading the party down into the bowels of the earth.
At the bottom of the stairs, everyone entered into a large squarish room, almost 40 feet on each side. The walls and floor were smooth, well carved structures of polished stone. Near the middle of the room was a small pile of debris while in the far corner were empty and scorched grain sacks. Scorch marks also marred the rounded ceiling here as well.
Just then a pair of large bats flew into the room, attacking the group with their sharp teeth and powerful jaws. The spread out slightly, Hunter shooting arrows at a distance and the rest of the party coordinating their attacks for when the creatures were within striking distance. A few blows and spells later, the dire bats were defeated.
Afterward the party headed down the west corridor. At the end of a short hallway, they found a door ajar from the the frame and slightly open. From within they could hear flowing water. Inside the party found a natural cave with a small waterfall coming out of one of the far walls traveling along the rough ground and out a small opening on the opposite wall. At the base of the falls the water was about 4-5 feet deep and held algae covered stones and small fish and crabs. The room also had a number of old barrels, probably used for holding water pulled from the stream. As the party searched the room for other clues about what the temple was like all those years ago, something invisible attacked Jesswin.
With no way to see the creature, Theo tried tossing some dirt around the area of the last attack. The tactic was good enough to highlight part of tree-trunk think leg. Greybear followed up by splashing some water on the creature as well. With enough water and dirt clinging to the creature, everyone was able to see it well enough to attack it. It soon fell to the ground dead, it's cloak of invisibility gone. One exposed, the party saw what looked like a humanoid fungus creature, known as a Phantom Fungus.
With the creature dead, the party was able to more closely explore the room. Hunter noticed something odd about the stones near the base of the waterfall. After a little prodding with his sword, it revealed that the lime-covered stones were actually the covered bones of a human body. With a little effort and some help, Hunter was able to pull the body out of the water.
Anyone looking at the body, could easy see the caved in skull was the cause of death. What was less noticeable to all but Jes were the marks that indicated repeated broken and healed arm and leg bones during this person's lifetime. Jes surmised this person was a well trained, if not battle experienced, fighting monk. Clutched in it's hand, the skeleton held a room key.
The party continued exploring till they reached a pair of doors on either side at the end of one of the hallways. Going through the first door, a large fungus started emitting a loud shrieking noise. After less than a minute the noise stopped. The first chamber in this room was empty, except for the typical dirt and debris that seemed to be attracted to the corners of these rooms. The next chamber in this room was almost as empty as the first, except for the pair of undead that was shambling toward them.
As the party spread out in the chamber the undead each went after different targets. One attacked Theo, getting a lucky bite on him before being destroyed, while the other was kept at bay till it too could be destroyed. At the back of the chamber, the party found a secret passage that the ghouls obviously hid inside. The passage connected the two chambers and held a few items from less lucky explorers, including some coins and a few spell scrolls.
After going through the other door, the party found a long room covered in piles of trash, seemingly from all parts of the temple. Books and miscellaneous papers were strewn about along with busted chairs, part of a bed frame and less identifiable items. Everything was precariously and randomly tossed about. As various party members explored deeper and deeper, each found themselves getting tripped up, slipping on, or knocking over the debris in this room. As they left, Adow grabbed a few books and papers to look over later.
After leaving these rooms the party continued down different passages. As they rounded one corner they heard a strange sound coming from down the hall. Charging at the party, a crazed hobgoblin attacked. This creature was slightly larger than others of it's species, with bulging muscles and crude (even by hobgoblin standards) animal hides and furs. With the momentum of it's charge, the first attack against Hunter almost killed the elf in one massive swing. Bergin quickly cast curative magic to heal the severe wounds. Meanwhile, the sheer ferocity of the attack stunned Jes in place.
As Theo sneaked past hobgoblin, Hunter attacked with his magical blade and Adow tried unleashing potent missiles of magic against the raging attacker. These bolts of force flew toward the barbarian, but instead of wounding the hobgoblin, they were harmlessly absorbed into a tribal emblem attached to his hide armor.
Now surrounded on three sides, the creature wildly attacked whoever was available, paying no attention to his own safety. After a trading a few more blows, he was killed by the combined efforts of the party. Afterward, the party retreated from this underground labyrinth and made camp in the above ground ruins of the temple while everyone tried to rest and heal.