Wind 12, 721 IA
Perched atop the rooftop of a house in Rivergate, Ian spied on the Temple of the Ebon Hand in the Temple District, below. He noticed several townsfolk, about a dozen, entering the building at separate intervals. Following this, it appeared that maybe some ritual or service was being performed.
Reporting this to Gideon and Maur, who were standing watch nearby, they all believed it was an odd time of day, being mid morning, for a church service. Shying away from a frontal assault through the main entrance, Gideon referred to his delver maps and noted a cavern that seemed to run from the Temple of the Rat God to the Temple of the Ebon Hand, as well as to the headquarters of the Concilliators and a building in the Temple District referred to as the “Ennin Temple”. There were also several side passages branching off to various other buildings throughout the district, presumably each with their own entrance. Looking closely, they spotted an entrance through the Sewers, near the heart of the Temple District, not far from the Street of a Million Gods.
At an alleyway off Purveyor St., beside the Temple District Watch House, they located a locked sewer grate. Using the noise and revelry from a holy festival to Gaen, Goddess of Light that was going on in the nearby streets at this time, they were able to open the grate and sneak into the sewers unnoticed.
Making their way through the sewers, they found a secret passage with a subtle chaos symbol on it. Beyond this door, they descended into the catacombs below the sewers into the passage indicated on Gideon’s maps.
Arriving in the lower dungeons of the Temple of the Ebon Hand, the party surprised a group of guards, sparing one long enough to reveal to them the location of the “prison” nearby. This guard also mentioned that there were several guards in this area and that about a dozen children were being kept there for use by the temple and it’s rituals that change the children into powerful troll-like guardians, referred to as a Child of the Hand. Despite Gideon’s urgings, the guard had no compunction against torturing children, saying only that “if you’ve seen as many horrors of war as I have, such things no longer bother you”. He knew little of the inner workings of the temple, saying only that Frein Avathon (his commander) orders him and she reports directly to Malleck. Despite Gideon’s promise to spare his life if he cooperated, he thought better to cut off the man’s hands for being so callous against innocent children. Leaving Maur to do this deed, Maur instead chose to slit his throat, ending the evil man’s wasted life.
Passing through a library filled with esoteric books, the party proceeded as the guard had directed them, eventually arriving at the prison guard room. They quickly dispatched the four guards, with Gideon knocking two unconscious. Following this battle, they found the keys to the locked prison door as Gideon sent Ian to kill the two unconscious men. Remarkably, this was the first time Gideon had ever ordered or condoned such actions.
Hearing the temple guard fastly approaching, they closed and barred the door. Swift banging and demands to open the door were ignored as the party tried to bluff the guards into leaving. Having none of this, they soon heard Frein Avathon at the door demanding they open it at once and report to her.
The party fled through the other door into the prison.
Entering the prison, Maur leading the way, they were ambushed by a final guard and upon dispatching him, they found two children (neither of which was Yara), starved and barely conscious, chained to the wall of a room filled with various torture devices. There were also a pair of rusted iron doors.
While Ian picked the locks on the children’s shackels, GIdeon and Maur opened the first iron door. A massive Child of the Hand leaped out, towering over them. It immediately went into a frenzy, causing Gideon and Maur to flee back to the prison guard’s room. The beast followed.
Once back in the prison guard room, they noticed the temple guards were beating the door down with an axe. With the Child of the Hand hot on their heels, Maur slung the door open, letting the temple guards in. He and Gideon overturned a table and hunkered down as the raging beast tore into the temple guards.
With bodies piling up, the remaining guards, along with their commander eventually turned and ran. The Child of the Hand gave chase.
Meanwhile, Ian had freed the two children and located several more behind the second iron door. As the Child of the Hand tore guards limb from limb in the nearby hallway, the party rescued the remaining children (a in all), but still didn’t find Yara. One of the children said they the priests had taken her earlier that morning, telling her that “it was her turn”.
Ian left with the children, taking them back to the tunnels to eventual safety. Maur and Gideon pressed ahead still determined to find Yara.
Passing through several rooms, they found a path of destruction and dead guards in the wake of the rampaging Child of the Hand. Eventually, they arrived in the inner sanctum of the temple, where they were confronted by Malleck completing the ritual of transforming a child into another one of the Children of the Hand. Along side him was the beast they had followed here (now oddly calm and relaxed), the Commander of the Temple Guard (Frein Avathon) and two Ebon Hand cultists.
Knowing they were terribly outmatched and unsure how to proceed, the party hesitated. At last, the ritual was completed and Malleck greeted them. He accused them of being the ones who had killed Siluon, the high priestess of the Rat Temple and seemed rather surprised they had managed to infiltrate his temple so easily. Of course, he assured them, it would all be to no avail, since the Night of Dissolution was fast approaching and the Lords of Chaos would soon awaken from the eon long slumber. He mentioned that at that time, all the truth of existence would be revealed to their fragile minds.
Gideon asked if the child he had just transformed was Yara. Malleck denied it, saying only that Yara had proven unsuitable for such a blessing and had instead been sold to the Ennin. “Go rescue her”, he taunted. “It will be so entertaining to see you try.” With that, he bid them to leave, callously remarking that heroes love to die for lost causes.
Malleck and the others then left, as Gideon and Maur backed out of the room, leaving the temple.
Catching up with Ian and the children in the tunnels, they made way to the Temple District Watch House, where they met with the Temple District Watch Commander Edgar Nachtmann. They returned the children, reporting all they had learned and all they knew about the Chaos Cults in the city, as well as sharing the many papers and reports they had collected in their adventures. Gideon pressed the Watch Commander to take this and raid the Temple of the Ebon Hand, as well as the Ennin Temple.
Watch Commander Nachtmann mentioned that this Ennin Temple he spoke of was an old burned out temple in a mostly unused portion of the district, and that he would send a patrol there immediatly to investigate, while he also began sifting through all the evidence against the Ebon Hand. He said that it would take about a week or so, but he felt confident he would finally be able to shut them down and “end my career on a high note”..
Gideon, instead asked the Watch Captain to hold off on hitting the Ennin Temple, since he feared such a raid may cause them to never be able to find Yara alive. Instead he proposed that the City Watch make a coordinated attack from above, while the party again used the tunnels to hit the temple from below.
Gideon then had a long conversation with Commander Nachtmann about corruption in the Watch, prompting the Watch Commander to decide to contact Captain Lesser of North Market, to see if she would supply members from her group to assist in this attack. Nachtmann explained that Lesser had been promoted to Watch Captain of her district about six months ago, and immediately conducted a purge of her district of all members of the Watch who were on the take, or otherwise, untrustworthy.
The party agreed to rendezvous back at the Watch House at 11pm that night to finalize their plan and raid the Ennin Temple.