On March 6th, adventurers meet with Deston Jappeur, a short-haired gnoll, and agree to help him to reach his ancestral temple a couple days west of the Vale. They set out immediately via Kite before setting out into the wilderness.
- Malcom (HuS): Level 4 Human Cleric of the Empty Tomb
- Giant Bat
- Victor (TrS): Level 3 Elf Thief
- Polly (MiM): Level 3 Dwarf Brawler
On the way, they hear elf voices calling for help and deviate to help them, only to be ambushed by spine-covered wolves capable of mimicry. They quickly slay them and get back on their way, Deston chiding them for falling for such a ruse and deviating from their course. By evening, they see the temple ahead through the trees.
Victor notes that the dirt around the roots of the massive trees at the edge of the clearing around the temple has clearly been disturbed, possibly by the roots themselves being lifted. Suspicious of the trees, they send Malcom ahead and he passes without any trouble. However, when they all attempt to pass through, the trees attack and they all run. They seem to only be targeting Deston, who explains they must have been planted by the Union of Schek or the Dragon Empire to keep his people away.
Arriving at the temple, they see it is a massive dome supported by tree-like pillars with minarets towering above it all around. Victor approaches and peeks inside the heavy curtain hanging between two pillars. He sees a huge gecko lounging in a pool at the center of the dome and immediately suggests that they spend the night in one of the larger towers. Malcom, however, approaches the gecko with food in hand.
It attacks with a long tongue and poisonous bite and while Malcom slays it, the others rush toward a second as more geckos in the temple perk up. Malcom heals himself to stave off the poison as the others close on another. It, too, is soon slain and while Polly and Malcom engage a third in the stream flowing into the central pool, a fourth rushes across the pond to attack Victor. Will the others slay theirs, Victor feels the need to leap into the gecko lashing at him with its tongue to get his daggers in it. Its poisoned skin bites Victor badly in return and he needs Malcom’s healing to pull him through.
Deston translates the riddle around the inner dome, a story of animals bathing apparently related to the collection of animal statues in one side of the dome. With the last part of the tale damaged by a fallen tower on one side of the dome, Deston suggests they sleep on it. His map tells him how many legs the narrator has, after all, so they can rest up and solve it quickly in the morning. He’s happy to take the rough middle watch after all of their help.
Malcom, on first watch, sees a number of smaller geckos, like those that fled out of the temple during the fighting, emerge from the pool and move out the temple. Tom follows and then Deston. Polly wakes thinking his watch must be soon and finds no sign of Deston and his appointed watch already nearly passed. He wakes the others and they see that much of Deston’s equipment is still there. It is apparent that he got started on the puzzle and apparently finished.
Malcom goes back to bed, but Polly and Victor spend their watch trying to decipher the riddle and bathing various animals. The results aren’t great and Victor is bitten by a statue. Eventually, Nekolyns arrive at the temple and explain that it’s their temple, not a gnollish temple at all. However, they haven’t known how to enter since the fall of the elves. When Malcom wakes, he realizes that the narrator (desperate for a second bath) should be bathed twice. They bathe the animals and a secret door opens up.
While one Nekolyn goes to tell others about the temple and three remain to watch for Deston, one accompanies the party into the temple. Victor manages to follow Deston’s tracks through the temple and they avoid any obstacles to arrive at the overgrown artifact room where it seems Deston found and took exactly what he came for: The Staff of the Shattered Moon, a powerful artifact handed down for a millennium since it figured prominently in the rebellion against the Nefil.
Victor soon finds a secret door in one of the places Deston cut vines away and they head up. Victor again finds tracks and believes they are at least a couple hours old. With a prayer, Malcom gets a clear view of the tracks, following them to where Deston took bird form to get past the the defensive ring of trees.
Leaving the temple to the Nekolyns, the betrayed Citadel House Adventurers hurry back to Citadel to re-equip, research the location of gnollish lands, and set out to try to track Deston down to return the Staff of the Shattered Moon to the Nekolyns.
The puzzle for this session was inspired by a desire to do something like the White Knight logic puzzles from Alice in Puzzleland. The premise of these puzzles is that there is missing information but you can still solve it because you know someone else did with the information. My execution wasn’t great. Prep for this session including temple maps for my next module is over on Patreon.