B10 – NIGHT’S DARK TERROR
25 FYRMONT OF 1005 AC
TEMPLE OF PFLARR, THE LOST VALLEY.
I watch the mangled bodies of the Traldars who have preceded us in the Temple. It is clear that the magic of Golthar was stronger than the fear and superstition of the Traldars. A half-dozen warriors with hairless and squat body, in fact, entered the temple of Pflarr probably less than an hour ago. I notice that death for them must have been fast but not for this painless. Among the dismembered bodies that show clear signs of bites of the walkers, there are a couple of rotting Hutaakan bodies. Their clothes are torn and worn, probably some priests fell first victims of the curse that weighs on the Lost Valley, since time immemorial, and returned to grow the ranks of the army of the dead. With weapons in hand, I and my companions observe the large living room. It has the vague shape of a star. A dais overlook the opposite side of the entrance, above it there is an imposing altar and, on its surface, a strange hollow. Behind the altar stone there is an imposing, huge statue, maybe eight or ten meters high. As ruined by time and by the work of the Traldars, it depicts a jackal-headed humanoid, in all its magnificence. It has a six-pointed star around the neck, hanging by a medallion. A similar sacred symbol adorns the neck of the High Priestess Kforedz. The Star of Pflarr. The look of the god is deep and wise, it conveys awe and respect. Other statues, made of jade judging by the green hue of the crystalline rock, adorn niches on both sides of the room. On one side, I see an opening, it seems to lead to a small room dimly lit and filled with rubble. Some stairs at the edge of my vision, seem to lead to a lower level but are completely shrouded in darkness. My attention now shifts on Thoragon. The man dragon is approaching a circular pit that opens in the middle of the room. It is like a well surrounded by a foot high stone wall and surrounded by a crown of blue flames as high as my companion. A thick chain drops, after passing inside of a pulley, hanging from the ceiling, just over the center of the well. From the chain hangs a burnished and empty metal cage. My eyes follow the chain, and this, after having diverted its route inside the pulley, runs up to a balustrade placed over our heads to finish in what appears to be a huge winch.
“None of you dare to climb the dais.” Kforedz’s voice reaches us, peremptory and unquestionable. I observe the High Priestess, followed by her armed escort, moving forward to the altar. I see her peering over every inch of the stone
block supporting the tome of the Knowledge of the Elders. “As expected the Golden Cup is not at its place!” The frustration is evident in her voice, at the absence of the third item required to complete the ritual and neutralize the curse. My gaze goes back to Thoragon who approached the mouth of the well. Too close. The blue flames glide over his skin, covered in golden scales, and it seems that it is not painful for him but it is only then that I see the black tentacle coming out of the pit, and that is dragging him toward the center of the room. In an instant we are on the creature, a black pudding according to Adrik. Glimreen seems to agree with the dwarf, after examining on the floor the viscous and sticky remains of the creature, broken by our assaults and then dissolved. “It is not wise to move alone.” this time it is Titus speaking. “We must find the Golden Cup and put an end to this horror, once and for all, and we must do it quickly!” Marjana put her hands on the wounds caused by the acid which imbued the tentacles of the protoplasm. A soft light spreads from the hands and I see that the abrasions and burns, created by the corrosive attack, disappear in a few moments. “This way, there seems to be a library!”
For the first time in hours, Stephan breaks the silence, fallen since we entered in the Lost Valley. All his enthusiasm of skilled treasure hunter seems to have dissolved like snow in the sun, after the entrance in the Valley. It is evident that, in his dreams of glory and riches, he did not contemplate the horrors we have witnessed in recent weeks. From Threshold onwards it was all an escalation of horror and death that has certainly tempered our spirit. To fail to do so, can only mean death or insanity in the best case scenario. I definitely do not like his silence, sometimes for long hours and in stark contrast to his open and talkative spirit and I cannot think of anything positive. I see Titus exchanging glares with Kforedz “Come on!” We follow him in what is, in fact, a library. I do not like neither the gaze with which the Hutaakan priestess follows our steps.
The man dragon and the Thyatian cleric are at the forefront, as always. Behind them there are Adrik and the gnome, Glimreen. Me, Marjana and Stephan close the ranks. “Do you hear it too?” I look at my teammates and scour every inch of the shelves, the volumes and the walls of the room. “What?” “The scrape behind the walls ..” My words remain suspended in the air. The door, the first one after we entered the temple, explodes as if hit by a mighty invisible mallet. A horde of corpses is poured over us like a flood that destroyed the levees. The clash is difficult, not only for the high number of assailants, but also for the narrow space in which we are forced to manage and fight side by side. The fight against undead creatures is always the worst that can be. It is always a serious confrontation to fight against beings who do not fear death, have no self-preservation and never yield, a confrontation that can only end with the complete destruction of one of the parties. Once again we come out alive but I’m beginning to feel too the weight of too frequent battles. The healing spells of Marjana become scarce, I read the worry in her eyes. “It looks like a dead end!” The room next to the library from which the undead have poured out, seems to have no exit but I feel a faint current of air. “It only seems” I exclaim, already shifting the rubble that blocks almost completely a narrow and low passage. “Glimreen, will you go back to see what lies behind there?” I have not to repeat it twice, he is eager to do his part and I see him sneak into the narrow, dark alley. “I’ll be damned if I let the little guy go alone.” growls Thoragon. “Hey buddy, let it go, it is likely that you make all crumble around you, you’re too big to ..” Wasted words. The man dragon is already on all fours in the gut. “Damn stupid lizard!” While I advance immediately after the two, I realize that the passage is actually larger than it appeared. “It’s there. The Golden Cup. We found it!” The voice of the gnome is ringing. “Wait a second .. What is that?” I don’t like at all the concern in Thoragon’s voice. When I emerge in the dark cleft, little more than a corridor but at least high enough to stand up again, I see the shadow in front of us. Glimreen holds the cup but otherwise he seems paralyzed with horror. The shadow is completely black, only its icy eyes shines in the dark. While approaching, I perceive an intense and painful cold. Each part of my body and my mind, scream to me to flee before it’s too late. I would do it but I feel numb, paralyzed by my own fear. “ARGHH ..” Thoragon’s battle cry charging the being and Titus reassuring voice behind me, partly awake me from the horror that grips me. A dark omen takes possession of my mind and I am conscious that not all three of us will come out alive from that fight!