Chapter 6 - Taboo Temple

A blazing fire burned under a rectangular hole in the sixty-foot-tall ceiling of the large chamber. Just north and south of the entrance, flights of stairs led up to balconies that ran along the room's sides at a height of fifteen feet. Wooden doors were set into the far walls of both balconies. A man-sized stone visage, its mouth agape, served as the entrance to a passage beyond. The face had been badly cut and defaced. Between the entrance and the fire pit stood four skin walkers, prepared for battle. The balconies raised a red flag for Viselys, whose concerns were proven valid by the hail of arrows from those balconies; more precisely, the eight Skinwalker archers in the balconies.

Outnumbered as they were, the heroes did not expect an easy battle, but neither did they realize how bad it would be. Roark tried to flank and backstab to do as much damage as possible, but it seemed as though these Skinwalkers had eyes in the backs of their heads. Further, the pelts on their backs fought with the ferocious claws of lions while the humans beneath had full and separate ability to attack on their own. All the attacks, claw and macuahuitls alike, were laced with poison. Finally, they had magic-wielders somewhere, because after Duxsil cast a fireball into the chamber, it was reciprocated back down corridor.

They dropped several of the Skinwalkers, but then the survivors howl in rage. In response, a more elaborately dressed skinwalker, presumably the Chieftain, his ape animal companion, and another acolyte emerged from somewhere to the right on the balcony. The newly arrived acolyte remained on the baloney to cast spells while Chief leapt off the balcony to join the battle.

This new turn caused the party to change tactics. While Saris began cutting his way up and around the balcony, causing the archers he encountered to drop their bows in favor of melee weapons, and in some cases to leap to the floor below, Duxsil stopped holding back and unleashed damaging spells that effected a large area, focused on the chieftain, knowing that Roark could easily dodge the effects. Then Viselys moved in to engage the leader head-to-head. Once the leader fell, the morale of the other Skinwalkers fell; the acolytes fell next, and the three remaining Skinwalkers attempted to flee. Some of them may have succeeded.

Investigating the rooms around the balcony, they discovered the Skinwalkers’ barracks; a room lined with mats and furnished with fur beds and crocodile skin rugs.. Ornaments of bones, feathers, and fish scales hung on the walls. Unfinished bows, arrows, and spears rested on the floor. A clay brazier in the middle shed a soft light. The air reeked of grease, smoke, brimstone, and sweat. In one of the beddings they found tribe’s treasure (55 shards of black obsidian worth 10 gp each and 5 amethysts worth 100 gp each).

The walls of another grim room were decorated with stretched skins, most of which seemed to have been harvested from men and women. The gruesome trophies were painted with twisting, coiling runes. A bloodstained stone block sat in the center of the room, a half-dozen obsidian knives glittering atop it. Mounds of furs lined the west section of the room, and sitting .amid them was a battered stone coffer. Duxsil noted that this was a shrine to Demogorgon, and when Saris asked how he knew that, he explained that the runes were prayers to Demogorgon. Roark turned up five colorful feathered cloacks whose large ivory clasps were worth 50 gp each. Six golden bowls(200 gp each) were in a chest with four golden chalices shaped like skulls with black opal eyes and obsidian teeth (500 gp each).

A single, luxurious bedding of tiger furs sat against the middle of the west wall of the next room. A wooden trunk rested at the foot of the bed, while a dozen colorful wooden shields decorated with large and brilliant feathers hung from or leaned against the west walls. A large day jug emanating a spicy, alcoholic sell sat in the northeast corner. They deduced that this has been the chief’s personal chambers. The trunk near the chief’s bed contained nine 1-foot-tall ivory statuettes of ancient Olman spirits worth 70 gp each, an ancient Olman priest's bronze mask encrusted with lapis lazuli and milichite worth 1,100 gp, a golden ritual scepter with .a moon-shaped sapphire at the head worth 1’450 gp, two potions of cure moderate wounds, and pipes of pain carved in the shape of a feathered snake.

Finally, the room between the barracks and the chief’s room was bare of furniture with the exception of a few stone benches along the: wall, and a heavy layer of dust and fine sand covers the floor. A steep flight of steps in the northwest corner lead up to a narrow platform and a trail of footprints wound through the dust between the steps and the southwest corner. Roark discovered that the dust and sand on the floor covered a stone trapdoor in the northeast comer of the room that did not appear to have been used by the Skinwalkers in a very long time, if ever.

Because of the severity of the damage they had taken fighting the Skinwalkers, they decided to suspend their investigation here, return to the chief’s room and have Duxsil cast the Secure Shelter so they could rest and heal for a bit before continuing on.

Continue to Chapter 7...

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License