- The group did a little more investigating and found that the new goblin runes in the previous hallway actually hid a secret door.
- Ethan stealthily climbed the stairs beyond and discovered a warband waiting in ambush. 2 advanced human beserkers, 1 blazing skeleton, 1 hobgoblin commander, and 1 advanced hobgoblin warcaster all sought to end the journey of the PCs on the floor of the temple.
- A mighty battle ensued during which the group noticed Jaryn waiting patiently at the far end of the temple hall in front of an altar. He seemed to be waiting for the outcome of the battle.
- When the group finished off the warband Jaryn proceeded to inform the group to rest and heal themselves for the trial ahead. He believed he was being tested by Naarash to prove his continued worthiness as leader of the cult.
- During the conversation the Jaryn answered the following (pertinent) questions:
What is this place? “The temple is older than human history. It is a place of great power, and from it, a great power will rise.”
What is the stone on the altar? “The Eye of Naarash is the material embodiment of Bane’s might. It is the source of the strength the god grants us. The giants discovered it, but they were not worthy.”
What is the Rite of the Eye? “The Rite of the Eye binds the faithful to Bane. Those who take the rite bear the talisman that commits their own life force to Naarash and the greater glory of the Hand.”
Why did you let your guards die? What do you mean by a challenge? “The faith of Bane allows no weakness. Only the strongest can lead the Hand. I was made Voice of Naarash by the blood of Larkazh, even as he slew the master before him. You are here by Bane’s will to challenge me. Should you succeed, you are destined to build on what I have built until you are challenged in turn.”
What happened to you to change your faith? “My faith has not changed. It has simply been refocused. The fall of Nerath marked the end of this world, but humanity lingers like the condemned man who cannot accept the end. Pelor is dead. The good, the moral, the light—these things are no more.”
Why have you taken control of the cult? “Humanity’s lot in this new world is struggle and death, but not all are suited to such hardship. Those who are strong will inherit the mantle of humanity. Those who cannot embrace the darkness will suffer. My way ends the torment for them. My way is mercy.”
What of the rest of the items of the Phoenix Regalia? “Ah yes, those items. Together they are very powerful but even they cannot hold back the fury of Naarash if their owner does not serve him. Skamos is an evil creature but even he unwittingly serves Naarash with his culling of the weak. Worry not for the trinkets he seeks. Worry only that you best me this day – else you shall perish here in this hall. The time has come to end this.”
- Jaryn proves to be quite a challenge. His blows devastate the party forcing them to work together to split Jaryn’s focus. In the end they subdue him with non-lethal blows.
- When Jaryn falls to the ground a large red crystal on the altar of the hall bursts with light and a cry rings out. A large demon emerges and its foul voice echoes from the stones as it hisses: “You have slain my champion and have shown your worth. Who among you accepts the mantle of Voice of Naarash?”
- Surprisingly (heh) no one accepts and the demon bursts into an uncontrollable rage as it wades into the group to slay them all. Its double slam attacks and tormenting howl nearly spell the end of Ethan and Nenia. Luckily the party is able to flank the creature and win the war of attrition of blows.
- When the demon dies the crystal on the altar bursts into a million pieces causing massive damage to the entire group – but everyone lives. They notice that Jaryn’s cult necklace has dissipated and yet he still lives. A look of peace lies on his unconscious face.
- When he awakes he thanks the group. He had somehow slowly been possessed by the madness of the demon. As the realization of the atrocities he was responsible for sank in he was barely able to speak. He did however tell the party that they needed to seek Alara in a small town called Lakeview in the southern part of the Eldeen Reaches. He would accompany then there out of duty and thanks.
- The group found some nice loot in the treasure room behind the altar. They also exited the temple to find that the throng of people living there was slowly departing in peace.
- About a month later they arrive in Lakeview and meet with Alara. The information presented there will be in a follow-up post.