A blasphemous underpriest of the church of Lauto has betrayed his brothers. An artifact normally used to renew the wards in Daunton’s Mausoleum is being turned to a nefarious purpose. The church, in an effort to keep this from spreading among the clergy has hired outsiders to complete the task. They will travel into the Mausoleum, find the undercroft, and retrieve the artifact. Whether or not the offending priest survives to face justice or not is inconsequential.
Grakk Goliath Barbarian 1]
Morvannon Rinael Half-elf Warlock 1]
A bill is posted outside the Temple of Lauto:
"WANTED for crimes against the church, theft, and heresy, Slardy-Bartfast, Reward 600 GP. Recovery of stolen property may be hazardous, target is inconsequential. Inquire with High Priest Belingras Erigard within."
The PCs bump into each other in the hallways of the Temple as they arrive to speak with Erigard. After some small talk, they are escorted into the high priest's office by an officious halfling who speaks with a ridiculous lisp.
Belingras explains that one Slardazial Barthifast, an underpriest who works maintaining the wards in the Mausoleum, has stolen an artifact, and the party are to track him down and retrieve it. They ask what kind of artifact, and are told that it's a scepter used to concentrate positive energy for the wards, but misused it could be perverted to concentrate negative energy and raise hordes of undead.
Kamotz, who is a cleric of Lauto from other lands, asks if he could be given a place in the Temple if he serves well, and is told that the church cares for its own, and Kamotz should speak to him when the task is completed.
They are led to the entrance to the Mausoleum, where they proceed alone. After a lengthy trek through the catacombs, they arrive at a barricaded door, which Magnus breaks down with a spell. It opens into a large crypt, where Slardazial is performing his ritual.
Slardazial claims that soon Zal'Ekthees, a demon who became a minor deity before being exiled by the greater gods, will soon return at the head of an army of undead. He attacks, along with a handful of undead minions. During the fight, it comes out that Slardazial is something no longer quite fully the half-orc he was born as. When seriously damaged, he calls on his demon god and transforms, first growing long, purple claws, and then wreathing himself in indigo flames. He promises several times, including with his dying breath, that even if they defeat him, his god will raise him to fight again.
It is a long and difficult fight, with several party members coming very close to death, but they eventually defeat the mad priest. Slardazial's dismembered body is somehow rendered insubstantial and pulled through the floor by disembodied hands after he is slain.
Though the mad priest is defeated, his ritual continues, gathering power on its own. The party realizes that, unless it is stopped soon, it will succeed in animating many undead even without Slardazial's guidance. By various means they beat back the necromantic energies for long enough to twist and alter the ritual's arcane sigils, and finally succeed in simply wresting the scepter away from the ritual focus. The ritual is ended, and the crypts are safe again, for the moment.
Amongst the undead bodies that Slardazial summoned to aid him, the party find a number of magical items that they recover for their own use. They return to Belingras, who gives them the rest of their payment. He is gratified that the scepter was recovered, but alarmed that Slardazial's body was taken, or perhaps escaped. He suggests that he may have further work for the party in a few days, when he has had time to consider the consequences of these events. His aide brings the party a book describing the history of the magic items they have recovered, which belonged to a famous adventuring party of days gone by.
- High Priest Belingras Erigard: "Belingras is an elf unlike any you have ever seen. His features show clearly the ravages of age, marking him as one of the oldest people you've ever seen."
- Not yet named: a small halfling wearing a very elaborate uniform complete with frills, buttons, and a fine set of shoes. Speaks with a ridiculous lisp.
- Slardazial Verikos Barthilfast: The villain. A rebellious underpriest of the temple, who has stolen an artifact and intends various necromantic mayhem.
- Zal'Ekthees A demon, worshipped by Slardazial.
- The Five Fingers of Lauto: an adventuring party of days gone by, who collected many bounties in Lauto's name. Some of their magic items are interred in the Mausoleum.
- The Temple of Lauto in Daunton.
- The Mausoleum: a huge warren of catacombs stretching for miles under Daunton. Has powerful wards to prevent the dead buried there from being raised as undead.
One of our underpriests has stolen a temple artifact. He was sent into the Mausoleum to renew the wards that prevent the dead from being raised as undead. However it has come to my attention that he also removed several other artifacts from the vault, and my divinations have revealed that he intends to do the opposite. Instead of renewing the wards he intends to pervert them and raise an entire ward of the Mausoleum as undead and assault the city and wards in other sectors. Understandably this compromises the city and the reputation of the church. For that reason you are all sworn to secrecy about the exact nature of this job. All I require is that you retrieve the artifact and punish the underpriest. Beyond that leave the tombs untouched and do as you will with the other artifacts he has taken. Any questions?
The artifact he has stolen is a scepter. Without wasting time it is designed to channel massive amounts of positive energy and assist in renewing the crypts wards without convening a gathering of the churches high priests. Slardy has found a way to invert this conduit, and if he succeeds the shockwave of negative energy could very well raise every corpse within a mile.
- 300 gold up front, with a promise of more on completion, awarded here.
- another 300g awarded here.
- Bracers of Perfect Shot, Stoneborn Armor +1, Bloodclaw Greatsword, Circlet of Second Chances, Hedge Wizard Gloves, awarded here.
- time gold: 178g to Vixo, 126g to everyone else.