So as we’re standing there catching our breath, a grungy dwarf came scuffling up behind us, and when he saw us called, “Oi there, you lot!” He introduced himself as Ander Rockhead and expressed an interest in hanging out with us. His comrades (his brothers) had died here, and he ran away and left them to die. What kind of person would do that? I glanced sidelong at Hrolf, who seemed disposed to trust this Rockhead (at least enough for him to be a trap-detector, since most of Reynard’s gear had dissolved in the black pudding). We would accept his presence.
We headed onwards. The next door revealed a medium chamber with five seemingly sandstone statues of classical adventurer archetypes arrayed in a pentagon around a central glowing chest. Of course we went in, inspecting first the walls and statuary.
At some point, Kalli lightly tapped one of the statues with the flat of her blade, and a chunk of the arm fell off and shattered… revealing a cloth sleeve beneath! The sleeved arm began to move and clench, cracking off more of the sandy shell, which must have not been stone but rather thousands of years of accumulated dust! These were real adventurers, not statues; they had just been in stasis. Soon the face broke out, and the rest of the form emerged from the crumbling dust shell. The other four soon began stirring as well, cracking out of their hibernation.
It took them a moment to come to their senses and realize they had been frozen in time for a while, but when they did, Kalli introduced us. They asked me about Ronan, and of course I extolled all the virtues of the Swiftfooted One, and in turn I politely inquired as to which ancient, primitive superstition they subscribed to, and they stammered something about some Kara god or something absurd like that. I resolved to save their souls by converting them to Ronanism, although their cleric (Anselm) did mention something about believing in a traveler god – perhaps an earlier incarnation of Ronan? Anyways they introduced themselves and claimed to have been some kind of great Champions of Chaos back in the olden days.
Without warning, the robed one began levitating in the back of the chamber.speaking booming, frightening words. Quick-thinking (or overly-jumpy?) Blake slung a tangling Web spell up at her, adhering her to the walls! She immediately retaliated by flinging a sizzling bolt of lightning down at us, painfully jolting our huddled group… but the sparks ignited Blake’s webbing and a sheet of flame FOOSHED through the chamber, singeing everyone. Kalli drew Francis (who hates mages as we know) and rocketed up to where the mage was sliding down the wall covered in blackened web strands, slashing into the robed Champion to produce a gout of blood. Stefan brandished his axe and charged in too, hacking into one of the other four Champions still on the floor. Another of them (a stout warrioress with a giant two-handed sword) leapt upon the chest in the center of the room, and bounded off of it backwards towards Kalli and the robed mage, spinning in the air to THWACK it resoundingly into Kalli’s armored back, slamming her forward into the wall above the sinking mage. Another warrior Champion charged the door where Hrolf and I stood, dumbstruck. But Reynard took the piss and vinegar out of him before he reached us with a bullseye in his chest. He staggered forward into a cleric sandwich, with my flail and Hrolf’s axe coming from either side to score rib-crushing hits. Finally, Stefan came out of nowhere from behind the poor bastard to put an axe in the back of his skull, then danced back into the melee in the center of the chamber as our assailant crumpled to the floor.
I muttered a prayer for his soul. I thought of the alacrity with which death had claimed him, after it had so shortly before seemed as if he had come alive for a reason! After being frozen and helpless to act for thousands of years, he was finally resurrected into the flow of time for some purpose; his millenia-long imprisonment surely must have seemed that it must have some sort of meaning, however scant… well that idea had been butchered and left in the gutter in the space of two seconds.
Towards the back, Kalli recovered her composure and chopped back at the acrobatic swordswoman, scoring a vicious hit. The swordswoman fell to her knees, and cried “I surrender,” offering her sword hilt-first to Kalli in a gesture of submission. Kalli glared for a moment then reached out to grab it – but was shocked and jerked her hand away! It turned out to be an enchanted sword of Chaos, only touchable by truly chaotic souls. The rest of the Champions followed the swordswoman’s lead, and surrendered too.
Reynard moved in to figure out how to open the chest as Kalli turned to heal the wounded mage by the Laying of Hands. In the chest Reynard found another crystal arrow shard along with a ring and some vials of liquid. We then left the chamber, and commanded the Champions of Chaos to evacuate the temple. As they filed up the stairs to leave, we headed back to the apartment of the archmage’s ghost, to rest. There, we met a taciturn, freakishly muscled, female gnomish treasure hunter named Siberian who joined our party.
Soon we moved on to explore another door. Kalli opened it, revealing a room that was just covered in blood. A skeleton leaned against the back wall, a sword hilt protruding from its ribs. Kalli stepped in to investigate, and the door slammed shut behind her! We could all hear unearthly shrieking as we stood by helplessly, as 14 wraiths swarmed out of the blood-soaked walls, ripping at Kalli’s soul! We finally pried open the door to witness the malevolent spirits ravaging our scrappy paladin, who hunched on the floor, pallid and withered and clutching her Holy Symbol to her chest. Blake’s fire magic and Ronan’s Holy Power cleared out the foul wraiths and we pulled Kalli from the room to heal her… but some of the wounds she had suffered were not of the flesh, and could not be touched by our ministrations.
I prayed that her soul would recover from the trauma of a close encounter with such vile denizens of the negative material plane.