Empire Rising

Haen Temple of the Two-Headed Vulture

With the threat of capture by the city guards eliminated for the moment, the group disposes of bodies into the sewer, keeping anything of value and letting the beast they had seen in the water (perhaps an alligator?) have a free meal.

Examining the strange, circular room, the determine that the walls are solid and wall sconce are just all sconces—pushing or pulling on them does not open any “secret doors.” Worried about someone coming through the fine door, Elihas attempts to jimmy the lock. It was hard to tell if he succeeded but nothing came through the door while they were there.

Not having any luck figuring what to do next, Brek, at Fiona’s suggestion, tries forcing a prophesy, hoping to see a way forward. But instead of a vision, all he hears is two screeching sounds and so loud they affect his hearing. Unable to hear the others over the ringing in his ears, he is able to conclude that the sound was like that of a vulture’s cry.

Elihas, thinking that maybe the amulet would serve as a key if placed in the middle of the concentric circles, begs to borrow it from Fiona. He promises to keep it safe and she relents. Handing it over, she notes that it has become too hot for her to hold, though Elihas has no problem handling it.

Amulet in hand, Elihas receives a shock! Where Brek was standing in the middle of the room there is now a column of brilliant white light—and no sign of Brek! And at the bottom of the column of light at the center of the rings is a hallway, running vertically down and away.

Setting the amulet down, the column of light vanishes and Brek re-appears, having never really vanished. Elihas tried the amulet again and light re-appears, only this time he could see Brek through it. Looking to push Brek from the light, Brek worries about being burned by the amulet and jumps away. When Elihas steps into the light, the group is shocked when he disappears from sight.

Elihas finds himself in the long hallway he had seen. It is lined with doors on both sides, leading off into the distance. There is light, and everything looks clean—no sign of dust you’d expect to find in a temple forgotten in history. Turning, he finds a door but no sign of the circular chamber or the column of light. Fortunately, touching the door brings him right back to the group.

Following Elihas’ lead, everyone touches the amulet and they all step into the light—and into the long hallway. While marveling their new location, Brek alone notices a person in robes far down the hallway cross from one door to another. They check the first door and find a small sleeping chamber, neat and tidy, and also no sign of decay. A large mirror in the room gives them a frightful vision or lack of one. They group does not have a reflection, though anything they do in the room can be seen.

Elihas checks the next room down the hall to see if the mirror might be a window, but it’s not. That room, too, is a neat and tidy sleeping chamber. Elihas speculates with Fiona that maybe they traveled not only in distance to this place but also in time.

Ignoring the rest of the doors, the group goes down the hall to the door that Brek had seen the robed person enter. This room proves to be a well lighted library, with shelves and shelves of books—more books than in all of Ceccana, Terracina, and Viadana combined. The group looks at the books but cannot decipher any of the titles.

Off in the distance Elihas spies a table with a single candle and when he goes over there he finds a person in robes sitting at a table, reading a book. Nothing he does or says gains the figures attention. He does note that the man’s face is not Naisani, not Skivendian, definitely not Brinish, and in fact looks nothing like any he’d ever seen – except for the faces in the strange road-side monuments they’d seen while traveling to Dohme Jungle.

Elihas calls the others over and shows them this strangeness by waving a hand in front of the reader’s face. It isn’t until he tries to take away the book that the man reacts. In the act of moving the book, though, Elihas receives a bit of wounding shock, but now he finds he can interact with the man, whose name is Francis. “Welcome to the Temple of the Two Headed Vulture,” he says.

Francis is full of information. He directs the party to the section of library where the scrolls are stored. He tells them they may use any of the bed chambers as they need, and may borrow the material if they like, as long as they return it when they are done. The group moves over to where Francis indicated the scroll they needed was. They examine the shelves along the way, and Brek and Elihas each take a book.

They reach the spot where the scrolls are, and start searching. Elihas takes the time to examine each scroll, hoping to find the one they need, but it takes time. Ragnar decides to take a more direct approach starts looking rooting through them all, looking for pictures. His method works – he finds the missing scroll with the red ribbon. Elihas swaps the ribbon with another scroll, one with a green ribbon. The group decides to move out of the library to somewhere more private to discuss their next move. Elihas has taken several red-ribboned scrolls off the shelves and gives the missing scroll (now with a green ribbon) to Ragnar to hold.

  • Fuzzy here – I don’t remember why we decided to go back to talk to Francis **

The group returns to find Francis gone. They check the room across the hall, the room that Brek first saw him come out of, and although it shows signs of recent habitation, it is currently empty. They then here a bell tolling. “Lunch time!” Ragnar declares, but the rest of the group thinks it might be a calling to prayers. They follow the sound and find other people dressed like Francis (in robes) all heading in the same general direction. They follow and come to a large room, an enormous temple. The people are all kneeling and facing the center platform, chanting in a discarded harmony. The people around the group notice that they are not chanting, so the group joins in, mollifying them.

Upon the center platform are three men, all wearing robes. There is a large set of concentric circles there and they are moving about them, also chanting. The chanting gets louder and louder and suddenly, within the circles appears a gigantic form, that of a man-like shape, only where it’s head should be are the two heads of a vulture. It lets out a double screech, leans down and devours one of the men on the platform. This causes Fiona and Elihas to flee as fast as they can. Brek and Ragnar are stunned but otherwise ok, and don’t even notice their departure.

A moment later, the creature starts sniffing the air, as if sensing something. It spies the two remaining members and glares at them. The other people in the temple all turn and point. They decide it’s time to leave – now! They make the temple exit just as the two-headed vulture does (despite how much of head start they had!) and they get away from it, but not from the other people now chasing them.

It’s a race to the exit. Fiona and Elihas reach it first and turn to see the others fleeing with their chasers gaining on them. With everyone touching the amulet, Elihas reaches the door – but only he goes through! The rest are stuck and the chasers are upon them. With an effort, they throw them off and try again, and this time they are all through, back in the chamber in the sewers.

The group make their way out of the sewers, coming out not where they came in, but elsewhere, and it turns out to be not far from where Ciro lived. Rather than return to their own townhome, which seems to be being watched, they entered an empty building to determine what to do next.

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