The party awoke the next day, still all invisible and camped in the abbot’s quarters – he had not returned during the night and it was unclear when he might do so. To add to the time pressure the party already felt, Ulthar told them that, given their attack on Imperial soldiers, a much stronger force would likely be on the way soon, if not already there. The monastery was perhaps a half-day march from the Sea Empire’s capital of Dhakos, after all, and the Aspergillum was of interest to the Emperor. Such a force would be very strong with spellcasters.
Given this, the party decided to return to the catacombs via the waterfall once more. Climbing out into the sunlight, they immediately noted that imperial troops had occupied the other tower and established a lookout position. Fortunately, the party’s invisibility allowed them to cross the monastery roof and for Jimmy to climb up the cliff face and drop a rope down to the others without being seen.
Below once more, they found a force of 16 or so soldiers had built barricades on either end of the nearby bridge, set to defend from all directions. Rather than wipe them out once again, the party opted for stealth. Perudo, being loudest, would sneak by first (if he succeeded, they should be ok). The cleric, once dry enough to not drip as he walked, quietly slipped past the nearest barricade (there was a gap of a few feet only). Fortunately, Jimmy had mentioned to him to check for trip wires, as he found one perhaps ten feet down the corridor they wished to take. It was easily avoided, when seen, and the others soon followed. The cleric mentioned, once they were back together, that these troops seemed like standard soldiers, not trained for dungeon environments and thus probably of lesser threat.
Passing down the long stairs to the First Deep, the party found that the nearby force of temple guards was still in place to the east. Now, however, they had made piles of boxes, lumber, and all sorts of other junk as a sort of barricade. Jimmy noted that these low barricades were fairly wide, and thus probably mainly intended to force invisible people to jump over them, as climbing would be impossibly loud. At Perudo’s insistence, the party now made their way around to the south, then east, and north to try the other known approach to the temple they’d found previously. Here; they found another guard force with a similar sort of barricade. Also, there were a pair of guards sleeping nearby, their backs against a door and swords drawn and at hand. Perudo now cast Silence on a coin, then gave it to Lune who snuck up to the sleepers. Then, from outside the silenced area, Perudo cast Sleep on the awake guards, dropping all six of them. Lune then slew the sleepers and the others were also slain by him (thus, only he was now visible).
The party now climbed over the barricade and cleared the way to the door to the temple. At this door, Jimmy thought he heard a curt whisper in an unknown tongue, quickly cut of by a hiss. Clearly at least two persons were beyond the door. The party considered their next action, until Lune cut them off and said he would handle it. Then, he simply vanished, using the Finger to become ethereal and walk through the wall into the room. There, he returned to normal space and lobbed his last (?) missile from the necklace of Missiles at the two monks he found there. neither was slain. The monks attacked Lune as the others now sought to break through the door when they heard fighting begin. Lune cut one monk down though the second managed to inflict Cause Serious Wounds on him, doing a great deal of damage. But the rest of the party soon joined in, Ulthar casting Chromatic Sphere and helping slay the second monk. (All were careful not to look into the mirror that had done so much damage to them the last time they were here). Meanwhile, Jimmy had waited outside the room and spotted a lone temple guard come around the corner to the north, likely due to the noise of bashing the door. As he stopped and turned away, Jimmy slipped behind him and backstabbed him, then dragged the body into the room. It was inevitable that more would be following to see where the missing guard had gone, and they would find the other post massacred.
Perudo now cast Locate Object once more looking for the Abbot’s necklace, but without result. Jimmy noted that the dais of the temple might still be out of range of the spell, so it was no sure indicator. The real question for the party was that, now that they were all four visible again, should Ulthar cast invisibility 10′ radius again now for what might be a tough fight, or should he save it for their escape later. In the end, the party decided it were best done now so they’d have a better chance of surviving the fight — the subsequent escape would have to take care of itself. This done, the party proceeded to the temple antechamber and peered in.
The temple was now dimly lit, and four monks were present, three atop the dais (including the suspected abbot) and one leaning over a rift in the floor from which blackish fumes were rising, seemingly breathing them in. The party now quietly took stations as the monks chanted and conducted whatever ritual they were about. Lune provided the signal for joint action when he simply pushed the leaning monk into the fissure over which he was leaning. The monk fell without a sound or cry, as Perudo now cast hold person twice at the three remaining monks. He managed to hold two of them, including the abbot, but the third reacted quickly, in turn managing to Flame Strike Perudo. He survived (with much damage), but the enemy monk next drank a potion of human control, and Perudo and Jimmy succumbed to his will. But, Ulthar now brought his magic to bear against the monk, as Lune rushed him. As the monk screamed at his new “friends” to “stop them,” Perudo employed his wand of wonder. To his, and everyone else’s, surprise, it actually functioned well, firing a lightning bolt into the melee. The monk was slain, while several of the party were also injured. But, the chief temple monks had been defeated.
The abbot was now questioned, after being tied up and the hold worn off. After some curses and talk of divine wrath, he seemed to slump and informed the party that what they sought could be obtained by touching the knee of the great statue of Magnus a certain way. Perudo, however, used a scroll of detect lie to determine that this was not true. So, the party opted for plan B — Ulthar slew the abbot and Lune used the Finger of Kavkaz to speak with dead on him. They learned that the Aspergillum was behind a secret door near the Magnus statue; the dangers en route to it included wards on its container and “the protection of Magnus.” Perudo also cast identify on the amulet taken from the Abbot — it was an Amulet of Centeredness, which protected against maze-like and other spells. How this factored into the Aspergillum was unclear. The party also took a ring of keys from the abbot.
The party now searched for a secret door, but suddenly the Magnus statue came to life and spoke in a booming voice, saying “YOU ARE JUDGED UNWORTHY!” The party could feel curses thrown at them, but all were shrugged off. Quickly, they found and opened the secret door, as a blob of darkness shot from the statues mouth and struck Ulthar, doing much damage. Once they’d run through the door, the statue did not pursue (it was far too large to do so). Beyond was an elaborate room carved on every surface save the floor to appear as if one were in a grey, swirling mist or cloud. Atop an ornate table were various items of probably magical or divine nature – numerous candles, a pearl, an iron bottle, and a dagger. Two doors led from the room, one west and one east. The abbot had told them the way lay east.
The door proved to not be protected by glyphs, so it was opened to reveal an unremarkable chamber with a strange, metal box or coffin on the far side. The party now roped themselves together, not knowing what to expect, and followed Perudo in (he wore the Amulet of Centeredness). Once the threshold was crossed, everyone but Perudo was overwhelmed with a tremendous vertigo. Worse, for every step taken, the room seemed to enlarge and distort in all three dimensions. It was impossible to approach the box, as it seemed to grow ever more distant as one tried to reach it. Even reaching the door out seemed impossible, and everyone was now trapped and helpless. Except Perudo. None of these effects happened to him and he was able to walk up tot he steel box quite easily, even as he could see his companions clearly in distress and utterly bewildered.
At the steel box, the cleric first cast detect magic and noted two glyphs protected it. He cast dispel magic and eliminated one then, using the keys from the abbots ring, unlocked it and opened it. The second, unsprang glyph then drained a level of his (failed save). Inside he found a corpse with the Aspergillum laying atop it, held tightly in its hands. As he reached for the great golden thing, the corpse’s eyes opened and it rose up and began to attack using the Aspergillum. Perudo was struck and drained of two levels (the corpse was a specter, and it seemed as if it could drain levels through the Aspergillum). Bewildered and near death, Perudo fled, dragging his companions back out of the room. They had found the Aspergillum, only to be defeated (hopefully temporarily) by its final guardian.
– Experience: 9922 XP each