As Ghouls pour from the doorway, Tol pumps arrows into the Ghoul Priest, ignoring the Ghoul at his feet, which strikes savagely at him. Memnon invokes a mass cure light wounds to keep the party fighting. Kathra and Switch splats one Ghoul and as Switch advances to support the Tiefling things go badly wrong for him (with a Natural 1 followed by an Action Point and a second Natural 1!!).Ozzie’s Winged Horde has more success, felling the priest and weakening the Ghouls enough that seconds later, all have been slain.
One room off the main chamber appears to have been a dormitory, with the blue and green robes of followers of Proteus. There are other, green and gold, robes of followers of Asterius (patron saint of trade and thieves). A wooden altar dedicated to Proteus is also in the room, but it has been defiled and is thick with dried blood.
Another room contained stores, but there is now little of interest save a few candles, which the party take with them.
A final doorway is locked and inscribed with a glyph of warding. Switch takes care of the lock and Kathra utters the word “Asterius” which opens the door safely. Inside are human remains, a journal and another altar. It appears that the deceased locked himself in the room to avoid the chaos outside and died of thirst.
His journal makes for grim reading;
_*The journal of Belias Septimus Kamonikas.*
“My name is Belias Septimus Kamonikas. I was born in Thyatis, the second youngest of eight children. Seeing little chance of inheriting my parents’ vintners I took learning form the priests of Asterius. Over the years I have worked my way up and my efforts have been rewarded. I have been chosen to accompany Alaster’s expedition to establish a trading colony in the Thanegioth Archipelago. I assist a Hattian of passionate disposition, Sterner; I may have to temper his zeal with Asterius’ wisdom. We come to trade, not to conquer.”
A.C. 951: Belias starts by relating his excitement at being chosen to accompany Alaster on her expedition to the Island of Sisiwas. He is to be one of the colony’s holy men and spiritual advisors.
A.C. 952/3: Belias recounts the founding of the colony, called Fort Rivencliff. The site seems ideal with a deep water channel for ocean going ships and virtually unclimbable cliffs protecting it from the land. However, they will have to rely on the sea and the friendly islanders for provisions as there is no effective farming land in the cove.
A.C. 955: The colony now consists of a couple of wooden docks with warehouse, watch tower and accommodation for sailors. The colonists have begun carving out cliff dwellings.
Ships occasionally stop at the colony to re-supply whilst sailing the Sea of Dread; a good sign for the future.
A.C. 958: Belias celebrates the completion of his temple and the grand chamber of Alaster and her family. A feast is held in the great chamber, newly decorated with native carvings found by young explorers from the colony.
A.C. 960: Relations with the natives have deteriorated. Belias is unsure why, but mentions ‘inappropriate behaviour’ from some sailors who have been visiting the villages as well as the fort.
A.C. 966: Belias mentions that things are not going as well as they would have liked. Fewer ships are calling, due partly to unpredictable currents around the southern tip of the island that they failed to notice when settling here.
A.C. 970: The colony celebrates the birth of Alaster’s daughter, Arathi.
A.C. 982: Conditions within the colony have deteriorated. Storms have kept prevented anyone arriving or leaving by sea, even to fish, for over a month. Food supplies are running low and the colonists have been forced to try and eat the tough vegetation growing on the cliffs. Disease is killing off the old and vulnerable.
A.C. 982: At the height of the storm a ship is driven onto the rocks at the mouth of the cove. Alaster and her daughter order as many of the sailors to be brought ashore, along with the bodies of any who have drowned.
A.C. 982: Some form of rebellion has split the colonists, with a small group remaining with Belias in the temple while the rest retire to the great chamber. Belias has ‘suspicions’ where the other group are finding food, though doesn’t say what.
“The curse has spread here. I suspected Critias when he offered to take Oswa’s body and commit her to the waves. There they were, gathered around and fighting over her remains. I have shut myself in here, but I can hear them trying the door.”
The altar contains hidden compartments, with a large platinum piece (worth 7,500 gp) and an icon of Asterius made of ivory, precious stones and metals (also worth 7,500 gp). There is also a Holy Symbol of (TBC) which Memnon takes.
By consulting the journal, Memnon concludes that if there is a curse, it was most likely brought about by an object or something that was done – whatever it is, the Cleric feels he’ll recognise it when he sees it.
Locking the body safely in the room with a key found in its robes, the adventurers return to the cliff face and begin to ascend stairs leading up to the double doors spotted earlier. Tol spies half a dozen humanoid shapes at the top, which he thinks are Undead.
They begin to rain down bolts, one of which strikes Memnon, who is dazed by necrotic filth encrusting it. Ozzie blinds most of the assailants with a prismatic burst, Tol picks one off and Ozzie slays the rest with a wall of fire.
Cautiously moving through the doorway, the heroes find themselves in a large feasting chamber, with wooden masks on the walls and several more Ghouls, less savage looking and evidently more articulate; as one of hem welcomes the adventurers to dinner…