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A Sunken Temple

A Sunken Temple

The trek through the Vesubian Marshes was not without danger. The previous day the party encountered a pair of Mohrgs that came boiling up from the depths of a particularly fetid stretch of the marshes. Krisharr recognized the danger immediately and called for the party to flee in the opposite direction. Through the combined might of everyone's magic, one of the Mohrg's was destroyed but alas there wasn't enough spells remaining to ensure the destruction of the other one. Krisharr's summoned crocodiles held the undead creature at bay while they all escaped. 

That evening passed uneventfully; the foreign sounds and smells of the marsh bringing the only interruptions to much needed sleep. The following day was equally tranquil. The noise and fragrance of the marsh becoming familiar and the deep the party traveled the more verdant their path seemed to become. There was a kind of beauty in the place; a sort of primal land devoid of any trace of civilization. As the sun began to dip low in the sky, the path became more difficult. There were no longer dry paths to tread. The marsh became more swamp-like, with large streches of water that needed to be forded to continue.

The sky was painted with the reds and oranges of dusk, which reflected off the gently rippling water that the party was wading through. This particular strech of marsh was getting quite deep and most of the party was chest deep in the water. Krisharr's animal companion, a powerful crocodile named Visejaw swam lazy circles around the group in an attempt to ward off likely predators. The tactic had worked wonderfully thus far, several denizens of the marsh moving away when the large crocodile came near. Then suddenly a burst of water exploded all around Visejaw and the beast was in a struggle for its life with some unseen foe. As the crocodile struggled, Krisharr moved to aid his beleaguered ally when two monstrous crustaceans rose from the algae coated water. Their pincer-like claws snapping angrily as the sunset reflected off their mottled, armored carapace. Their small dark eyes fixed their gaze on the party with a hungry stare; the tentacles dripping from their mouths squirmed excitedly with the prospect of food. 

"Stay away from the Chuul's tentacles," warned Krisharr. "They will paralyze you and drag you under the water to drown."

The nearest Chuul swam right up to the Lizardmen Druid and snapped its claw at him. Krisharr barely avoided its grasp and dove beneath the water to swim away. The aberration snapped its other claw at him as he turned to put distance between them but missed because of the algae choked waters. The other Chuul moved toward the party from the side and lept from the water to attack Eelco

"Look out!," yelled Kolivan as he stepped in front of his exposed friend. 

The Chuul's claw snapped shut on Kolivan's right arm, pinning his axe against his shield with its weight. Kolivan tried to wrest his arm free but the beast was firmly attached and was starting to push him from his feet. Kolivan struggled to keep his footing under the bulk of the beast.

Eelco, having regained his composure, unleashed a barrage of magic missiles. The glowing red orbs of energy unerringly struck the creature's carapace but it didn't turn its attention away from Kolivan. Hiscubo and Constantine moved and released magic missiles of their own at the creature. Hiscubo moved away while doing so; while Constantine moved closer. Erhi and Artair drew their weapons and lent their aid to their friend. Erhi's arrows striking the back and sides of the Chuul's carapace. Some of the arrows finding weak spots in the Chuul's carapace, while others bounce harmlessly off its tough exterior. Artair uses the Chuul's single-minded focus on Kolivan to stab at it with deadly precision. Though the Chuul is slick with ichor from a dozen wounds, it continues its assault on Kolivan, dragging him under the water as its tentacles strike at his head and neck looking for an exposed area of skin to sting. 

The chaotic melee begins to turn against the party. Visejaw seems unable to gain the upper hand against the Chuul grappling it and Krisharr is doing a deadly dance with the other Chuul; neither one able to score a telling blow. The third Chuul, bleeding heavily, holds Kolivan beneath the water in an attempt to drown him; it's pincer-like claw crushing him in the process. Kolivan releases the blessings of Mitra upon his injured body, healing a fraction of the wounds the Chuul has inflicted. Kolivan struggles to call from aid. Every time his head comes above water and he attempts to form words the Chuul pushes him back under, causing his words to become nothing more than a pain-filled gurgling sound. Constantine finishes intoning his pray and reaches out with his hand to grasp Kolivan. He grabs his friend for the barest of moments but it is long enough to release the curative magic stored within his touch before the Chuul rips Kolivan free of Constantine's hand. The Chuul begins moving away from the group, dragging Kolivan with it. Everyone attacks the creature with reckless abandon, trying desperately to force it to release their friend but to no avail. The Chuul begins to swim away when a sudden bellowing roar echoes from the sky above.

A large shape plummets from the sky and pounces on the Chuul from above, pushing the creature down with all its weight. The sound of snapping carapace reverberates throughout the battlefield and causing all attention to turn toward the shattered form of the Chuul. A creature with the golden brown body of a lion, a pair of giant eagle wings and the face of a human hovers above the slain Chuul. Zairadon lets loose another roar before charging the other Chuuls. The Aberrations are not mindless as some might think because of their appearance. Though they look like some terrible nightmarish vermin, they are instead possessed of a cunning and a strong sense of preservation. The pair of Chuuls abandon their prey in the face of the Lammasu's furious assault and retreat beneath the waters of the marsh. Their departure came at an opportune time, as Visejaw had become paralyzed by one of the Chuuls and Krisharr had become grappled by the other. As quickly as the ambush began, it was over. Zairadon return to the party and hovered above them, looking down upon them with a kind visage.

"Greetings once again noble adventurers!" exclaimed Zairadon. "How does thou fair?"

The party helps each other to the feet and take stock of their injuries.

"Only a little worse for wear," replies Kolivan. "We have some injuries that will need tending too, though maybe somewhere a bit dryer."

"Of course friends," replies Zairadon. "Follow me this way to my temple. It is only a short distance from here."

Zairadon turns and slowly flies away toward the east, careful to hover below the canopy of the marsh so as to be easily followed. A short time later, the party comes upon an open stretch of water in the marsh. It looks almost like a lake surrounded by a swamp and at the lake's center is a small outcropping of stone. The bare stone has the only man-made structures they have seen since leaving Glantri City. A pair of square stone pillars flank a small Quay that leads to steps rising from the water. The temple is a pair of squat stone buildings attached to each other. The eastern portion is an enclosed building with a single opening facing the stairs. The western portion is a forum with several pillars holding aloft a stone roof. Zairadon turns to the party and smiles.

"Welcome to the temple of Ma'at!" exclaims Zairadon as the temple is bathed in the light of a daylight spell. A divine luminesence radiates from the temple and a wave of peaceful calm washes over the party, renewing their tired bodies. Zairadon flys to the forum and lands, retreating deeper into the temple.

"Come,"says Zairadon. "Ma'at welcomes you to her hallowed halls..."

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