The dark shapes quickly materialized into large snakelike creatures, approximately fourteen feet long. As they approached, they opened their mouths to reveal a second mouth and row of teeth inside, and their tongues popped forward tasting the water to help them locate their prey. Simon and Susi each killed a snake as it came towards them, and Trish killed two of them as they came into her range. Nothing further seemed to be coming at them from the depths of the pond, so they continued their search of the area. Simon pulled the lever again, and the slab went back up, revealing the door once again. He swam over to look at the wheel set into the door as Susi swam under the pillar, where the snake creatures had come from. Susi could see a stone column under the pillar, as well as cages with bones and other remains in them. Apparently dropping the slab over the door also released the snake creatures. At that moment, a horrible screeching noise reverberated in the water, causing Susi to swim back up, just in time to see Simon trying to turn the wheel on the door. Simon said, “Looks like it’s stuck”, and rolled the wheel back to the position it started from.
Simon rolled the wheel again, and this time it broke through whatever obstruction had caused it to stop before, and this time he could tell that the wheel had completely gone around. He tried to pull on the door, but the weight of the water prevented the door from moving. Simon tried the lever one more time, but the only thing that it did (other than opening the cages) was to drop the slab back over the door. Simon swam up to the door, cast a spell, and became intangible. He went through the door and came out on the other side to find himself in a dry corridor. Down the hallway, he could make out a figure silhouetted in the dim light, and it was obvious that the figure was watching him. “Greetings,” said Simon.
At the sound, the figure bounded down the hall, and Simon could hear a gruff voice calling, “Intruders!”
Moments later, a large humanoid came charging around the corner at Simon. As the creature came charging towards Simon with its head lowered, Simon was astonished to see that the face had the features of a pig! The impact of the man pig hitting Simon in the midsection drove him to the floor and momentarily drove the wind from him. As the man pig backed up for another run, Simon turned intangible and went through the door to the relative safety of the pond. He swam to the pedestal and sat down to recover from the attack, and as he told the others what had happened, he noticed there was a spring set into the lower part of the lever. Simon stood and worked the lever again, this time pressing in on it as he did. A passageway formed over the pathway from the pedestal to the door, and all the water drained out, allowing them to walk straight up to the door. Simon pulled the door open and rushed in, with Trish close on his heels. Trish smashed into the man pig, hitting him with her swords hard enough to send him flying into the wall at the end of the corridor. She stepped into the hallway beyond, and as she did, she heard the twang of a crossbow as two bolts hit her, bouncing off her armor hard enough to momentarily stun her. She could see man rats with crossbows to her left and man wolves to her right, as she fought to steady herself.
Simon went invisible and went to the wolf men, and killed one with a swift attack from his katana. Another man pig and a man bear came from the darkness behind the man rats and attacked Trish. Trish swiped at the man pig, but the blade merely glanced off the beast’s hide. One of the man wolves near Simon tilted his head back and let out a mournful howl, and Susi shuddered, “What was that?”
The man pig swiped at Trish, stunning her, but he stepped too far to the right in his attack and the man bear’s paw hit him in the head, causing it to cant off at an unusual angle with a grotesque snapping sound. The man pig dropped to the ground, dead. The man wolves attacked Simon, wounding him, and as he fought off his attackers, he saw another man rat behind them, frantically loading a crossbow. A streak of light whizzed past Trish’s ear, coming to rest in the form of one of Susi’s Heaven’s light arrows quivering in the chest of the man bear, who staggered backwards under the force of the impact. Trish backed down the corridor to limit the number of foes that could come at her, and the whole party could hear men’s voices wailing out from the cells that were now illuminated with the light from the arrow, praying for death to take them.
Trish snapped out with her sword, wounding the man bear, and spinning him around with the force of the blow, and she could see another man bear loping from behind the man rat archers headed towards her. The man bear with the arrow in its chest swatted at Trish, his claws tearing along her body, wounding her. Simon teleported behind the rat men archers, and killed one and stunned the other before they knew he was behind them. Susi aimed carefully at the head of uninjured man bear and though the shot missed, hit it in the arm. The man bear then felt searing pain as Simon stabbed it in the back and became intangible.
Finally locating Simon, the man wolves advanced on him, as Susi fired another shot at the man bear. Trish cut down the man bear on her right, who dropped to the floor with the light arrow in its chest. She then wounded the second man bear, and stepped further back into the corridor as another of Susi’s arrows whizzed past, coming to rest in the eye of the man bear who fell to the ground lifeless.
Simon went through the door of the cell and saw an emaciated man with blood crusted around his mouth, nose and ears. “What have they done to you?” he asked.
Screaming, the man cowered in the corner away from Simon, “Go away! You’ll change, I know you will. Stop the torture, just give me the sweet mercy of death, I beg of you!”
Having lost sight of Simon, one of the man wolves rushed at Trish over the bodies of the man bear duo, and Trish’s sword cut clean through its neck as it approached. Another swiped at her and she counterattacked, stunning it as her blade hit flat against its head. A third leapt over Trish’s head and loped down the corridor towards Susi.
As the man wolf attacked Susi, stunning him with a pawed fist, Trish wounded two more man wolves as they leapt in and attacked before leaping back into the main hallway. Suddenly, a flurry of crossbow bolts came up the hallway, striking her, and she fell to the ground, her left arm mangled as the bolt tore through armor, muscle and bone and exited the other side. As she lay on the ground bleeding out, Simon came out of the cell and killed a man pig and attacked a man wolf from behind, slitting his throat, but not deeply enough to kill him.
Susi attacked the man wolf in front of him with his axe, and cast hotfoot on the creature, but neither action seemed to faze it. As Simon was attacked by man wolves on two sides, he could see a green mist rising out of Trish’s sword. Her allied spirit, Gilliam, formed from the mist and cast heal wounds on Trish and she sat up spitting out blood as he went back into her sword. She cast another heal wounds spell on herself, then realizing her left arm was useless, sheathed Keller’s Razor and stood with Oblivion in her hand and a fiery gleam in her eye. Stepping forward, she killed the man wolf directly in front of her, and the man rats in the corridor dropped their crossbows and drew their swords.
The man wolf attacking Susi swiped at his face and Susi fell to the ground unconscious, with a huge cut across his eye. Simon struck one of the man wolves near him, breaking its jaw and then turned invisible as the man rats rushed Trish. Simon killed the man wolf that was still bleeding copiously from its throat and engaged the man rats as Trish attacked the man wolf that had dropped Susi. Simon appeared again, and killed both man rats, then leapt over Trish to finish off the man wolf she was fighting. They turned around quickly and realized they had finally killed all of their beastly attackers.
Simon summoned Telpurr from his sword, and he went to work mending Susi and Simon’s wounds. Once this was complete, the party began to search the area. Simon went into a few of the cells to try to talk to the prisoners, but it was soon obvious that they had been completely broken. As they went through the cells, they noticed that all of the animal creatures had turned completely back to humans. The last cell that they came to contained a man chained to the wall who laughed manically as they approached. “Dagaral no longer dwells at the temple…They are all already dead, they just don’t know it yet,” he said, before lapsing into another fit of laughter.
“I know what needs to be done, Simon, leave it to me,” said Trish, and she walked back to the first set of cells. Susi and Simon began to systematically search the other rooms and tried not to think about Trish dispatching the poor, demented souls in the cells to the Halls of Silence, where Artol awaited them with open arms.
They found a room with supplies marked for Wolfdale, before moving into another room that appeared to have been some sort of office. There was a map on the wall, showing the Dagaral temple complex, showing the village of Wolfdale to one side with eight red ‘x’ marks. There were two more ‘x’ marks in the menagerie and a total of ten in the temple proper. A search through the papers showed missives that talked of “everything going according to plan”, and other vague references to something called “the mirror”, but two letters stood out. Susi found one that read, “We have the codes, we will release the creatures tonight”. Simon found a letter that read, “The prisoners are getting weak, we will need more thought slaves soon”.
The final room in the complex appeared to be a bedroom, with furs heaped everywhere, Susi dug through the furs as Simon went intangible and walked through the walls to see if there were any other entrances or exits to the complex. When Simon returned, he found Susi with a leather satchel containing three divine scrolls (resist fire, entangle, and quickness), as well as a pouch containing one hundred silver talons.
Trish finally finished the rites for all of the fallen, and as the party headed back to the surface of the pond, none of them noticed that not all of Susi or Trish’s bites had seemed to heal…