May 29, 2016

15th Day of Planting, CY 579

It's early evening on the 15th day of Planting. Farmers are back to tending their fields, but the air is different around Hommlet. Many of those same farmers are carrying swords openly, and wearing armor when walking around. Burne's Badgers (that's the name they go by) are patrolling the streets and archers are always in view atop some building. But people are in good spirits nonetheless, pleased that a great evil has been driven from its hideout nearby.

Pontus and Sarril are in the main room of the inn having dinner. Elmo has joined them, and is sharing what he knows of the Temple:

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For many years, a cult of chaotic evil flourished in a hidden location somewhere on the border of the Viscounty of Verbobonc. Such a gathering of evil was unprecedented in the Flanaess and, after a time, all of the forces of good, and those who wished to preserve balance, gathered under the leadership St. Cuthbert and fought a series of battles to destroy or drive away the forces of evil and attempted to raze the temple. It is now known that attempts to completely destroy the temple failed, and so the doors were sealed with the most powerful wards the mages and priests could muster, to trap the evil inside and prevent anyone else from entering. Who or what was behind the temple was unknown, as the cultists seemed to worship more than one evil deity, but the following information has been pieced together by those charged with watching the temple.

The cult was based on the premise that the elemental forces of the universe are chaotic and opposed to mankind, and are thus (from a human centric viewpoint) evil. The temple of the cult sought to destroy all works of good and to disrupt order. Its members were thieves, assassins, brigands, and the like.

Fire was regarded as the first elemental evil, and its penchant for chaos fitted the premise of the cult. Water was likewise worshipped as an even more powerful force of chaotic evil, in the form of floods, storms, and raging seas beating upon the land and ocean vessels. The epitome of chaotic evil, however, was regarded as a combination of air and earth, represented by blackness and corresponding with the demonic Abyss. This combination was regarded as a complete negation of matter.

The cult grew powerful and rich, attracting followers of the worst sort and offering them safety within the walls of the Temple stronghold. From this fortress would the followers ride to rob, pillage, and lay waste the lands about, tithing the cult from the spoils of the carnage. Captives from those raids were brought back to the temple to serve as human sacrifices (children to the fire, men to the water, and women to the blackest evil) or to slave their lives away in bondage. Besides the extensive upper works of the temple, a deep labyrinth beneath the place was constructed, but virtually nothing is known about these dungeons except that they were inhabited by a plethora of creatures serving chaos and evil.

It is rumored that a demon took up abode in the deepest level, to better receive the sacrifices to it. Some believe that something even more sinister lurks below. After all, what power could bring together and hold all of the forces of evil, and resist destruction from the mightiest priests and mages in all of the Flanaess?

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A messenger comes into the Inn. He holds up a rolled up parchment with the seal of the Viscount of Verbobonc on it and declares "I have a message for Elmo. Can someone direct me to him?"

Elmo stands up and says "I am Elmo" and takes the message. He breaks the seal and reads it to himself. Then he sits back down to finish his dinner.

"It seems I have been summoned. I won't be able to accompany you to Nulb after all. I will not fault you if you choose not to go, but if you do, please send word back to my father if you discover the fate of Otis."

As he says those words, the doors to the Inn open again, and in walks Athan. He is thin (thinner than normal), disheveled and dirty from head to toe. He looks like absolute shit.

Elmo provides the party with a map:



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The quiet village of Hommlet is not so quiet anymore. Regular militia are seen about and patrolling the streets, but everyone is in good spirits and smile and say hello as the party passes. The Trader's shop is boarded up with a guard posted out front to deter looters, but all other businesses are doing well (The Inn, the Moneychanger, The Brewmeister, The Wainwright, The Smith, and others). The Temple of St. Cuthbert seems busy as of late. Many of the older folks in the village practice the Old Faith (as is evidenced by acorns over their doors), but the younger folks here are reinvigorating their faith in St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel, which is no surprise given that a party of brave adventurers just recently confirmed the Temple of Elemental Evil is active again.

The party heads to Jaroo's grove, where they find tools laid out and ready, as if he knew they were coming. The bear sees Pontus and turns and walks away. Jaroo comes out of his house and sees Athan and says "I am glad to see you have recovered. I wasn't entirely sure you would make it."

"Word of your deeds has already made its way to the Viscount, as well as to the Druids of the Gnarley Forest. I hear the gnomes in the Kron Hills are aware as well, and one particular gnome may be setting up shop in Hommlet soon."

"You will be safe here in Hommlet, but beware when and if you depart this place. Agents of the temple have spies everywhere and they won't take too kindly to the slaying of one of their own."

"Rannos has not yet been found, and I suspect he has told his masters about you by now."

He then says, "Now if you will excuse me, I have a meeting to attend with my brethren." He then takes a couple of steps into the woods and disappears completely.

Pontus then picks up the tools and begins the process of the repairing the damaged root cellar.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting map--where is it from?

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    Replies
    1. It is from the 2003 PC video game, which I have played through a few times. You can find copies of that image in various places around the web at this point.

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