0900, Mol, 9 Milos, 3E1000
The Sea Wyvern, with Heroes 4 Hire aboard, sailed out of Anchorhead in sunlight and even seas, paying traditional homage to The Emperor and Shargon’s Talon as they passed. The first evening out, Captain Isabeau Larouche invited the Heroes to her private cabin for dinner, where at the end of the meal she held a small wake for the deceased Calyx Siannodel. The team was a little surprised at how hard the Captain seemed to take the news of Calyx’s death.
The next month of sailing passed relatively uneventfully, the doldrums of extended sail-travel wearing thin on Potema and Rumblebelly. Naïlo Thia spent much of the time pondering her encounter with her father, Naïlo Elnoril and Erendriel Thalolan’s obvious avoidance of him. Lt. Diplo Norixius attempted to Scry on the Dark Priest several times, but to no avail. During the first few days of the voyage, Karraway recovered from his resurrection with the aid and care of his fellows. Dajjal, Illyia Baham, Alton Beeblebrox and Smedley Hampton spent the voyage preparing for the coming fight ahead, and assisting the crew wherever they could be useful.
Mol, 9 Jo, 3E1000
The cool morning air was starkly contrasted by the desolate wasteland covered in ash that greeted the Sea Wyvern ashore, just a few hundred yards from where it dropped anchor. The majority of the day was spent shuttling supplies and equipment from the ship to the shore, where the crew and the Heroes set up a base camp to support the extended stay of the galleon. By late afternoon the camp was complete, and the Heroes prepared their wagons, mounts and equipment for the return journey to the Temple.
They left the next morning at sun up, traveling a day and a half to the trailhead at the eastern end of the Three Sisters. There they began their precarious climb up the long winding mountain path, ever cautious of its dangerous cliffs and rocky trail. It took nearly three days of slow and careful progress before the Heroes found themselves hidden around the last bend before the Temple came into view, an untenable quarter mile approach across an open precipice and narrow bridge against an enemy guaranteed to be entrenched, prepared and waiting.
Sar, 14 Jo, 3E1000
A quarter mile of open approach in full combat kit. Across a precipice spanned only by a narrow natural bridge. Up a ramp several stories tall to reach the front archway of the Temple on the ziggurat’s upper level. Where the cult will be waiting with whatever defenses they have prepared. This was going to suck.
Diplo summoned his Paladin’s Steed in the form of a Giant Eagle, and loaded Illyia and Beeblebrox up with him, telling the others that they’d keep the defenders distracted while the rest of the Heroes made their mad dash across the open approach. With that, the massive bird lifted off and carried the three directly at the upper level opening while the rest of the team spurred their mounts on in a charge to try to close the gap alive. As the eagle approached, a pair of boulders the size of a man sailed out of the darkened archway in rapid succession… the first missing wildly left of the bird, but the second clobbering it squarely in the chest. The three riders… Beeblebrox gripping Illyia gripping Diplo… found themselves suddenly tumbling through midair as their flying mount disappeared underneath them in a flash of light. Illyia quickly made sure both his teammates were holding on to him, concentrated on his memory of the interior of the upper level of the Temple, chose a spot and used his Ring of Dimension Door to teleport the three of them “safely” inside.
Nearly a dozen cultist were entrenched inside the upper level of the temple, and it took a moment for them to realize the three aerial assailants were now in the chamber behind them. Groorg spun around and hurled several more boulders. Diplo took refuge partly behind a massive column and partly behind his tower shield, while Beeblebrox sprinted clockwise around Groorg’s left and Illyia used the Sword of Lyons to turn invisible and circle the group to counter-clockwise to the right. Dajjal sent Luna ahead to observe the fight and look for an opportunity to cast-through-familiar.
The ensuing melee was swift and brutal. Beeblebrox’s speed, boosted by a Haste spell cast upon him from Diplo, let him blur his way through the cultists, dropping them left and right with relative ease while avoiding the giant’s footfalls. Illyia, invisible and sneaking, was doing an equally vicious job of backstabbing and assassinating cultist on his side of the fray. Diplo was doing an outstanding job keeping Groorg the Cunning’s attention focused on him, though the boulders bouncing off his tower shield were taking their toll, but now Groorg had stopped throwing them and was closing to smash him with a massive stalactite he used as a club.
The team charging the entrance ramp had made it to the extreme ranges of their bows unscathed, and Thia and Smedley let loose several shots at the cultists manning a stone barricade at the top of the ramp. Their shots rang true, dropping a couple of defenders and wounding a couple others. Dajjal kept an eye out for an opportunity to cast-through-familiar with Luna, but no convenient place could take a Fireball without catching his teammates in the blast.
Groorg and the squad of cultists made a valiant effort, landing some damaging blows and spells on the Heroes before they fell. Once the cultists were slain, the team concentrated it’s combat strength on Groorg, and he died quickly. The eerie silence of the post-battle lull swept over the upper floor of the Temple as Diplo, Illyia and Beeblebrox took inventory of their injuries and situation, and then Smedley, Thia, Dajjal and Karraway finished closing the gap to join them. The team regrouped and prepared to take on whatever else was coming up the stair from the lower floors of the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun.
Sar, 14 Jo, 3E1000
What dangers await the Heroes 4 Hire in the Temple levels below? What other defenses has the Cult of the Elder Eye prepared for them? Will the seven Heroes be enough to stop the Dark Priest’s plot?
Tune in next week, on “TGC: Heroes 4 Hire!!”