The Darkening

[15] Purple Prose

After speaking with Zeztro, I rejoined the rest of the group. As we went to meet the guides who would lead us to the temple, we were faced with an additional surprise, the return of Verdin. The drow had found Verdin and Shara attempting to explore Duskwood and escorted them to the city. We vouched for the two. As has been the case when previous members have gone absent for a period of time, Yerold cast a truth spell and we posed a few questions to Verdin. Seemingly to avoid an outright lie, he danced around our questions with nebulous answers. Upon questions of the amulet, he said that he wanted to keep it out of the wrong hands, instead of saying it needed to be destroyed, and not elaborating on to whom the “right” hands belong. His most telling answer to me was responding that his charge (the amulet) was what was most important, not our quest. With seemingly little choice but to have him accompany us and keep a close watch on him, we were on our way.

We reached the maze and were told that we would be on our own from that point on. The narrow paths in the maze necessitated a single file order, but it wasn’t long before the multitude of paths had our group falling into the pitfall of splitting up. Fortunately, after finding little more than dead-ends, Shara was able to get the group back together as Verdin charged ahead.

At the end of the maze we encountered two minotaurs, saying we needed to speak the words to continue. The few permutations of “Ahn Ainollan” and the “Temple of the Nameless One” I attempted did little more than delay the inevitable battle. With two additional minotaurs hiding out of sight, we fought on. The web I cast was able to hinder our foes effectively, and the return of our friend the Hound Archon lead to our eventual victory.

We moved on and found the temple, an imposing sight despite being reduced to ruins. We ascended the stairs some 120 feet, before reaching a landing. Our next course of action found us entering the temple and descending its many levels. We found little more than ruins at each level, until we came face to face with Shadowheart and his underlings.

He beckoned us forward and mocked thankfulness for bringing the amulet and key. With Verdin seemingly intending to simply hand the amulet over, I began to approach with key as well. He laughed that the amulet had allowed him to find us everytime he needed. Yerold and the Hound charged ahead to battle Morindin and stop Yerold. I took that opportunity to reverse direction and once out of sight behind the lava column, made myself invisible. When Yerold was seemingly defeated and left on one knee, I sprinted toward the next hallway, intent on keeping the key from Shadowheart and ambushing either Verdin or Shadowheart. My disappearance forced Shadowheart to spread his minions out to try to find me. This gave the group the opportunity to continue its assault on Morindin, successful enough for Verdin to come to his aid and force Morindin to retreat to the next hallway. As he rounded the hallway corner, expended as much energy as I could and struck, my charged blade killing Shadowheart. As his horse disappeared with his body in a purple mist, I heard a demonic voice tell me “thank you for sending me another minion”…

I held tight to the corner of the hallway, waiting for whatever else was in pursuit. Verdin rounded the corner and made no attempt to confront me, instead dashing right past. With diametrically opposed options of using the amulet to unlock further evil or banishing it into the lava below, I believe the final chapter of our quest is about to be written.



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