Hearing the voices looking for us, we decide initially to try the Wandering Assholes Gambit, but then overhear Bertram the Innkeeper say “They have to be down here…best if they don’t leave…looks like they’ve been in the offering room…yuck…”
We head for the water room with the bad guys on our heels. Nyla is turns into a goatwolf again. The bad guys say that we’ve been poking our noses in blah blah bad guy talk, “the mistress would like a word.” Talhier and Crea mouth off at that. Fighty fight! Issana’s first shot hits the chatty one and she encourages Bingo to “aim for the motherfucker in the back.” He does, but misses. One of them gets a good hit on Talhier. Crea takes a hit but also nearly takes out one of them. Nessie cleans up the one attacking Talhier, and we decide to try and keep one alive as a hostage to go meet the “mistress”. Bingo casts hideous laughter on one guy and he’s incapacitated. Crea ties him up. The remaining guy takes off a run, as winged by Talhier’s dagger. Cael gives chase and kills him with an arrow. Issana finds 15 silver and a weird tool in the nearest dead guy’s pockets. Kinda looks like a dagger, but it’s flat, not sharp, just a long thing piece of metal with a handle.
Talhier tells GoatNyla to “go fetch the body, creature” and she tries to pee on his shoe. He dodges. Now the hallway stinks.
Back at Chuckles, we try to interrogate him. Who is “the mistress”? He doesn’t really know…he’s basically, a mercenary working for Grover the Constable. Most of the big stuff goes down in the swamp. We offer to let him go if he takes us to the swamp. The other door is to the tunnels under the temple. We try to talk Tegan into some better life choices, then take a short rest and head up through the temple. Tegan tells us that Fr. Abrama is holding some prisoners, people who were resistant to whatever swamp mojo was happening. Then he gives us the rundown on the situation under the temple: some tunnels, a maze, one or more creatures that may or may not respond to commands in orcish.
We head to the other door, Issana takes the slim-jim-looking guy and tries to use it to open the door. The door opens up into a rough hallway that splits into a Y a bit further down. Tegan assures us that they both go to the same place. The hallway gets super muddy and slows us down considerably. Also, the mud very much smells—almost like weasels or ferrets. We eventually come to a little room off the side of the path with what looks like nests in them. There’s another about 10-15 feet away. Tegan stops suddenly to let us know that there’s a screaming mushroom up ahead. One of his buddies has some “stuff” that he’d sprinkle at the mushroom, so we go back to his dead buddy to the get that. Issana sneaks up and throws the stuff over the mushroom and James overdescribes the kinda disturbing way the mushroom reacts. Just past the mushroom, the ground firms up to stone again and then a staircase—the entrance to the maze.
Tegan assures us he can get through the maze, Crea is not convinced, but we follow him anyway. He makes a few wrong turns and then, when he finds the right way, we hear a growl and sniff from down a hallway. We try to make friendly contact and hear “Are you fighters….or are you FOOD?” We offer “friends” as an alternative, but that’s apparently not an option. An ogre charges us from down a side hallway. We do some damage out of the gate, then Crea and Talhier gets the shit kicked out of them. He’s got some troglodyte buddies, but Nila helps with them. Fighty fight, but Nesse’s Toll The Dead delivers the killing blow.
Exhausted, injured, we hole up in a barricaded room and take a long rest to reset spells, hit points, etc. We put Tegan back on the case of getting us out of the maze, which he does without further incident. We head upstairs and go through a door that leads to the actual temple basement. From there, we find a trapdoor that leads to Misha The Priestess’s room and another door that leads to a prayer room. Not hearing noise or finding traps, Issana opens the door Misha’s room. She sneaks into the room and it looks like someone has left in a hurry. On a desk there are papers, standard records for a temple to Iyana, a few letters addressed to someone named Brother Deceus. These letters appear to be status reports informing him of when the next “crop of believers” will be delivered and hopes that “ED” will find them to her liking, and also some reports on whether the alderman “suspects” anything, and her plans to cast suspicion upon “Terathi”, some reports on a woman named “Vilma, an aged crone whose faith in Iyana is too strong” and they are waiting on an opportunity to bring Myron in, but he doesn’t go out at night. Each letter closes with, “in the most holy name of Explicitica Defilius”. She also finds a second seal, this one depicting on oroboros with a human-ish face.
Issana grabs the letters and the snake seal, then heads back down to consult with Nesse. Has Nesse ever heard of Explicita Defilius? Nesse has not. We head for the door to the prayer room. Heading up to that, it’s a very small, one-person room with a door leading out covered with a bead curtain. Against the wall, there’s a shrine. It appears it was originally a pastoral scene (fruit trees, sheep in a field) but it has since been defiled with strange images, including the likeness of the snake with a human face and the weird oroboros. We decide to head out into the hall via this room.
As we head down the hall, we see 4 more rooms like this off the hall. At the end of the hall is another threshold. Beyond it we can see a long dining table. In the dining room are a bunch of doors, one to the central chamber, one to a kitchen, etc. The prisoners of Fr. Abrama are upstairs, we’ll need to cross the central chamber to get to the stairs. In the central chamber, things are much cleaner and more polished, well-tended. There’s a dais in front of a mosaic, walls are lined with fine tapestreis. All this depicts the usual images of Iyana: grains, fruits, agricultural abundance. Clearly, this part of the tempe is a front for the weird snake-worship business in the back. Through a door across from whence we came is a hallway lined with small alcoves each holding a golden statue of some kind of plant (grapes, sheaf of barley, etc.). This is a suspicious amount of gold for a town this size. Also, what the hell are these snake people up to if they aren’t looting all this shiny stuff? This hallway leads to a wide staircase that leads to the second floor.
We head upstairs, through a barracks room with two other doors. We head through the leftmost door and enter a nice sized library. On a central table is a sacred tome to Iyana that has been defaced on every page. Talhier prestidigitates a page clean. He makes a mental note to come back later if possible. The other door leads to a meeting room with another door. Through that door is what appears to have once been a storage room. Now the room is dominated by a table with leather straps and a rack. Found the torture room!
There’s of course another door, this one has a gold nameplate that says “Fr. Abrama of Her Most Bountiful Highness Iyana”. Issana knocks on the door. She hears maniacal laughter from behind the door, but even further away. She does the ritual of doors and we enter. There’s an antechamber that has been destroyed: walls scratched, bookcase destroyed, random rubble. Going in further, there’s a destroyed bedroom. Investigation reveals a wall switch behind the desk. Talhier pulls the switch and hears a mechanism in the wall make a sound. He slides the wall away and reveals a secret door. The maniacal laughter gets louder.
In the room behind the secret door, we see the floor littered with crude statutes similar to the ivory statue beneath the Golden Grain Inn. Also, we see Fr. Abramo, wearing full armor, ratty robes, a matted beard. Around him are three animated skeletons (they immediately draw weapons on us) and very far away in a corner is a trio of goblins with bows who seem not super into it. Fr. Abramo is next to a big cage with a person inside.
“…Bingo?” says the person in the cage.