PAHVELORN PLAY REPORT - RATS! - SESSION XIII
Feeling like they'd accomplished a lot, and that the upper level of Pahvelorn's buried city might be pretty much looted out, Beni Profane (Rat Catcher), Higgins Dreadmire (Warlock), Tarvis (Priest) and Sarin (Priest) decided to take themselves and their henchmen to the corrupted shrine in Pahvelorn's abandoned districts. The "shrine" is a tower edifice, more a cathedral than anything with such a humble name should possess, but it is undoubtedly corrupted. Last time the party ventured into the shrine, it was a near thing - zombies, flying imps and giant lizards all took a piece out of the adventurers before they encountered a pack of undead smoke creatures that very nearly wiped the party out.
Still it's a holy shrine in need of cleansing, and so is intensely attractive to the Travis and Sarin, the shrine also seemed to contain a good deal of wealth making it attractive for non-religious reasons. Prior to heading to the shrine, the party concluded some business in town, Beni speaking to the lizard cult and discovering that the would help set up a caravan to the Northern city of Zum-Algot where Beni needed to meet with its priest king on behalf of the strange rat god he offers small sacrifices of grain to before stealing or rat catching. After throwing the town a party and handing out medals the party is in pretty good standing with Zorptah's leading citizens and Tarvis is even granted a seat on the city council (which is doubly surprising because the door kicking crusader can't read).
While waiting for the caravan to get prepared the party decides to return to the corrupted shrine, thinking that as more experienced adventurers they'll be able to negotiate its dangers safely. This belief proves an illusion.
The shrine is unchanged, still sinister and twisted, but in front of it a woman in stained traveller's robes appears to be searching among the rubble. Hailing her from out of melee range the party asks what brings the woman to a haunted shrine in the midst of the dangerous ruined areas of Zorptah? She replies distractedly that she has lost her necklace and suddenly her eyes fixate on Tarvis's holy symbol, and she lurches for it.
The party isn't sure what to do, but it quickly becomes clear that the woman is intent on killing them all. She quickly falls under Beni's arrows and a henchman's sword. Upon searching the body, the adventurers discover a letter of credit to a local merchant, and that she appears to have been dead for at least a month.
Within the shrine structure, the adventurers first search the towers. The bottom floor of one contains a monk, laying on the floor and chanting psalms, but otherwise unresponsive. The clerics turn him, and the animating spirit flees his eighty year old corpse reducing the monk to a pile of dusty bones. The tower contains little of interest though a disturbing mold grows on the underside of the roof. the other tower is more interesting, containing a dangerous cracked floor with a gilt covered statute atop it which is recovered with rope. The top floor of the tower is home to a group of demonic humanoids. The creatures were able to almost kill the doughty Tarvis and his henchman Darulin as the two emerged from the trapdoor, but a barrage of arrows and bolts manage to end the lives of the demons (though the head of one slain by Darulin remains alive and is collected for later sale). It appears the horrible creatures were playing cards and the stakes in coins and small scripts (as well as the strange deck) are snatched up.
Retunring to the ground level the adventurers head back to the scene of the smoke wight attack and notice that the room remains unchanged, except that all evidence of corpses is gone. Investigating the room across the hall from the ritual room where the wights were summoned, the adventurers are shocked to discover a ghostly figure - crawling about on the floor and making cooing noises in a hollow ghostly voice. While such an apparition would normally be cause for alarm and a barrage of holy water, the spirit's comical appearance and lack of hostility causes the party to hail it instead. The restless spirit reveals that it is looking for its cat, which should be in the strore room, and that it is the caretaker of the shrine. It declares that the cat went missing in the morning when strange stuff started happening.
Looking under thee debris in the room, with a 10' pole Beni discovers the ancient skeletal remains of a cat, surrounded by the bones of several large rats under a mouldered chair. Afraid to disturb the ghost, the party dithers until Tarvis asks where the holy water is stored, and the ghost is unresponsive because he is so concerned with his lost pet. Higgins, feeling frustrated with the spirit's fixation says "Your cat is over here, under the chair" as he begins reaching for the bones. Even as he is reaching, the ghost shouts "demon rats" and the rodent bones animate to fling themselves fiercely at Higgin's face. Before the party can act the rat skeletons have flayed the poor mage's head and turn out his throat. Even with the loss of Higgins the party is able to quickly destroy the creatures with furniture fragments and sword blows. Higgins is well and truly beyond help, the likeable, but clearly evil warlock will never cast another spell and his thick witted apprentice Ogam steps forward to claim Higgins pack, books and adventuring gear.
The ghost meanwhile has collected the bones of his cat and begins to fade into nonexistence, but utters the cryptic phrase 'All writings here are true' before going to his rest.
Even with one party member dead, leaving Sarin the only person (character or henchman) still adventuring from the party that started the "Order of Gavin", the band decides to search for a bit more plunder, presumably to offset Higgin's funeral expenses. Dragging the wizard's corpse to the front doors the party returns to investigate the courtyard full of sleep inducing flowers and opens a door in the yard's northern wall. Within is a sparse chamber, set up for evil ritual, a ring of mysitcal symbols traps a tiny flame demon within, where it hovers above a disturbing, but rather fancy ebony idol.
Tarvis decides to poke the creature with a 10' pole, and after a struggle manages to break through the protective rune ring. The creature promptly rips the pole from his hands and begins using it to rub out the protective circle. Fearing releasing a powerful demon, the adventurers begin to toss holy water and bolts, only to have them rebound form the circle's magic. Tarvis tries to attack the demon within the circle, but fails to injure it and is badly burnt in return. Darulin, Tarvis's henchman manages to grab the idol, but is also burnt for his trouble. Seemingly unable to harm the creature and with it about to break free the party flees, with their pitiful treasures, the corpse of thier companion and the resolve to get out of town for a while, in case Zorptah is burnt to the ground by a roving fire demon.