Location: Star's End Monastery, Yasira
Date: Fall, 1332 Avard
From one of the local bandits, the monastery learned of a temple ruin out in the woods which the bandits had used as a hideout. The older maps indicated that there was a village called Yasira in that general vicinity, though it was abandoned not long after the Storm Wars ended. The bandit who told his tale said that there was a hidden catacomb entrance behind the altar, and there had been books and scrolls in abundance in that hidden library. The bandit leader had forbade them from damaging the old writings, though many turned to dust just by looking at them askance. The bandits had booby-trapped the place when they left, expecting to return – but they were defeated by the Procurators of the monastery.
Brother Cadwhol sent his runepriest Ethana, and a recent mage recruit Elendil, to explore the ruins and retrieve the writings. He sent along a small chest packed with wool, to help preserve the writings. Between the mage and the runepriest, he hoped that the fragile writings would be best preserved with them.
Elendil's mount, equipped with magical horseshoes to improve his speed, had to follow along behind the dire boar mount of Ethana. Thick snows blanketed the ground, and in the rough terrain the horse had to follow the boar's plowed up furrow if it had any hope of moving at all in the icy conditions. The heavy snowfall slowly became partly cloudy conditions by the third day, when they arrived at the map's indicated position of Yasira. The river and its tributary had moved in the intervening years, but the out-of-place orchard trees helped the team hone in on the center of the old village. Ruins of buildings dotted the landscape, tumbled stones barely outlined streets grown in with trees, and ancient, massive oaks grew through the middles of abandoned houses.
In the center of the wooded ruins was a massive edifice of imported stone, its pillars surrounding a roof long since caved in. The markers on the building had been carved off and defaced, giving no indication as to whom it had belonged to, but it clearly was the temple spoken of by the bandit.
As Elendil and Ethana moved up the steps onto the temple's floor, a voice from nowhere surprised them. The nervously giggling voice belonged to a faerie that finally revealed itself. The faerie, named Lily, belonged to a local tribe that had lived in the area for as long as they could remember. The temple and the village, dating back to a time of the Karatikan Alliance, was likely filled with druid-aligned peoples. The faeries had lived on in their isolated world, feeding and tending to the ancient orchards and gardens as best they could, staying tied to the village without even being aware of it.
Lily's task was to guard the temple, for it was cursed. The bandits had been brutes deserving of the curse, and she had left them alone, but the intelligent eyes of Ethana and Elendil had been more deserving of a warning.
Elendil summoned an unseen servant to check for the traps the bandits might have left, when Lily proved to know little to him of any real value. The arcane spell, however, triggered the curse: ice began to move, and the elements shifted into the ruins.
Crystals of ice grew from the snow, each a spiky mess of waving ice blades, and then they rolled in to attack. Lily blasted the creatures with bolts of light, but the ice reflected and refracted the light, hurting Ethana and Elendil almost as much as the creatures. Ethana found herself hard pressed to defend against the creatures, and protect Elendil from the worst of the attacks. Things grew grim when a giant version of the ice crystal creatures grew up around the altar. Fully nine feet wide, it began to roll into its attack, hitting Ethana and her boar mount with everything it had.
Elendil used fire against the smaller creatures, even as they left him bleeding and frost bitten. Ethana, taking her cue, used as much fire damage as she could, destroying the rest of the smaller crystal creatures. All three then concentrated their fiery might on the giant crystal creature. Elendil summoned a fiery elemental warrior, and combined with the others' attacks, it finished off the big creature, shattering it into a thousand pieces.
The arcane: in the ancient days, the Goddess of Magic had held her temples beside the druids, for she was also the Goddess of Knowledge, and well-respected by the Karatikan Alliance. After her death, it appeared that the temple was defaced and cursed against the arcane, perhaps by the Inquisition.
Behind the altar, the team found the hidden entrance to the catacombs – and the traps set by the bandits. Working together, they found all four traps, and either bypassed them or disabled them. A set of crude ballistae had been set up to spear anyone coming down the stone ladder into the catacombs. A section of ceiling had been weakened to cave in – and, indeed, one section of ceiling had already been caved in, sealing off one whole wing of the catacombs. Another section of flooring had been weakened, such that one could not jump across it in the low corridor, but a plank across it worked just fine. Below the weak floor was likely the ancient sewers. A final trap would have clamped down on an unwary looter, driving a dozen knives into them and holding them in place to bleed to death – if the knives didn't kill them out right.
The catacombs were caved in beyond the 'nest' the bandits had made. There were obvious signs where bed rolls and the like had been made, where books and scrolls and pages had been shoved aside uncaringly. There were no signs of a fire, save the torch marks on the ceiling. The few documents left were carefully sifted through and preserved by the team, although some turned to dust in their hands, no matter their best efforts. Two tomes and a scroll held energies and were still perfectly preserved. The two tomes were arcane, and the scroll more divine, but all three proved of some use to Elendil, who happily copied them before packing them away.
DM's Notes: I think the other players are about to get jealous. I played D&D with my family, last night. My wife wisely led the party and assisted our eight year old daughter, and I occasionally assisted our fourteen year old son as his 'awesome' mage searched every ruin for any sign of anything of value. “I search it.” “Is it magical?” “Can I sell it?” I rarely have characters approach their encumbrance limit, but I think Caileb's going to do it. Saige surprised us all with her quick imagination and her math; she was easily calculating her To Hits after rolling the d20 and determining her attack. I think my wife was about ready to kill me, though. The ice creatures I hit them with reflected 1/2 radiant damage to all creatures adjacent to them; once they made a successful attack, they were latched onto the target and drained them with five cold damage every round. The minions died by the droves, but the big one, with a hundred limbs of ice-made daggers, was more difficult to bring down – especially when the pixie kept doing radiant damage and the DM kept forgetting that the runepriest was doing fire damage, to which the ice creatures were Vulnerable 5.
Reference: Campaign IX