Phoenix Gulch, Ashmore Temple and an Inquisitor

To: High Marshall Dellum

Location: Phoenix Gulch

Several weeks have past. We took passage across the lava tether. A Bard of Three Songs made the journey longer and more annoying than it should have been. The Captain was a likable fellow and a very good host. He did his best to prepare us for Reglave but this place is nothing like Solaria. Words can not prepare you for what it is like over here. First thing we did was seek out merchants so we could buy scarves/masks to protect us from the toxic ash that falls constantly like grey snow.

The captain told us the Baron of Phoenix Gulch, a Dolgrimm Stonehammer, paid for half our passage. The very same one who has information on the Inquisitor. He also told us not to venture out by ourselves and to join a caravan or hire a scout. We settle on a scout so he could teach myself and Sinjin how to survive out here.

SubmitHis name was Han and he is one of the few Humans I have encountered out here. I knew a majority of the people over here were dwarven, dragonborn and tiefling but there are so few of any of the other races out here that I have seen. He was a good choice and an excellent teacher. So much out there that can kill you, from the creatures to the land itself.

Phoenix Gulch is a harsh marvel. The town rests near the base of a volcano, Ashmore Mount, spanning the gulch and over a lava flow. They say its been destroyed 3 times and the Baron has rebuilt each time. Upon entering Phoenix Gulch I notice that the Dragon Knights only have the barest of presence. The people are overly nice and the craftsmanship of the smiths are amazing. The Baron is a very approachable mountain of a dwarf. The information he had was that an Inquisitor of the Seventh Circle had gone into hiding in the Ashmore Temple further up the mountain. The Baron wanted us to determine if he was still there and capture him or his research. Hoping we could find something to help deal with these bloody mule dragons.

The Baron spread the word and we were able to resupply and prep for our journey at a discount. We ended up in Master Lutor’s smithy. This alone was worth the trip. The armor and weapons on display were absolutely amazing. I will do everything in my power to try and have Master Lutor make me some new armor. He seemed to be sad or suffering from something so I asked if there was anything we could do to help him. Turns out his daughter had been missing for 2 weeks. He believed the “mountain” had claimed her as payment for him using the lava forges and taking from the mountain all these years. We told him we would keep an eye out for while we making our way up the mountain. He expected us to find her remains.

The Ashmore Temple is further up the mountain and very remote. Nobody that had gone up to it uninvited has ever come back down. The Ashmore monks do come into town for supplies but are very stand-offish and abrupt. Some of the monks are known to fight in the traveling gladiator arenas. The impression we got was this Temple was probably sheltering the Inquisitor and we expected to meet resistance in pursuit of our quarry. We were able to determine that the Temple housed about 50 people by how many supplies they buy on their trips to town. This seems a daunting amount of possible resistance if they indeed are in league with the Inquisitor. We will initially have Sinjin seeking training until we can determine what we are up against.

On the way up the path we did not encounter any of the monks nor did we find any signs of the Master Smith’s daughter. What we did find was a very treacherous path up the side of the mountain. There was an area were we had to rope ourselves together in case one of us slipped and fell off. Kord’s Blessing because at one point all of us slipped and fell over the edge except for Imperator Harbeck. He was able to brace himself and hold on to the rope until we could all climb back up. It was certain death as there was sharp jagged obsidian rocks below. Those of us dangling from above could see the many skeletal remains of previous travelers. We were beginning to see why nobody returns. We saw no other path or means of getting supplies up and it is hard to believe they travel this route laden with gear. We must have over looked something. At the top we only find a cave opening. No guards so Han having done his duty heads back down.

The tunnel we follow has no light source and we did not want to announce our presence yet so I got to fumble around in the dark. Imperator Harbeck helped me. It was very nerve wracking and frustrating but I trust Harbeck. Our progression was halted by a circular, funnel shaped pit. This pit turned out to be the home of creature I have never heard of nor encountered. As soon as Sinjin tried to go around he was attacked by a tentacle, wrapped up and pulled into the pit. While Sinjin and Harbeck struggled with the many tentacles I was able to see a glow coming from the bottom of the pit. I unleashed Kord’s War Bolts into the creature and killed it.

The tunnel beyond eventually led to a big cavern lit by a giant pool of lava. There stood a massive pair of doors that leads into the mountain wall. After a long discussion about what was the best course of action we decided to rest before attempting entry. We choose to rest in the tunnel before dealing with doors.

We awoke to the sound of the doors opening. A monk walks out and dumps a pail of something into the lava. We approach and he is not threatened by our presence. He is unable to speak but indicates we are welcome to enter. We enter into a courtyard where about 20 monks are going through martial drills. They take little notice of our appearance and our greeter takes us off to the side where a portcullis is guarded by 2 sentries and archers. They announce our presence by banging their weapons. A pair of Masters come out of another set of doors behind the portcullis. A dragonborn and dwarf. Sinjin takes over and explains his reason for being here. Exchange of knowledge and techniques.

The masters are open to Sinjin’s proposal but will only give us access to the front courtyard with the Initiates. They explain the initiates are under a vow of silence until they pass the trials and allowed to enter the Temple as monks. Harbeck and I sit with some water while Sinjin tries to make some headway with these monks. They do the diplomatic dance and feel each out. I am glad we did not have to make an initial assault on this Temple because these monks seem to be misunderstood and I can see by sending their initiates under a vow of silence to market in Phoenix Gulch would cause a negative image to be formed. However, whenever we bring up a subject about outsiders coming through their monastery they flat out lie. They are hiding something but I get the feeling they are not as bad as their reputation makes them out to be. They know about the smith’s daughter and the Inquisitor, even though we have not mentioned him directly, and after a couple hours Sinjin and the Masters just keep going around in verbal circles.

It’s time for a more direct approach. Harbeck and I join the conversation and I tell them we are searching for someone who is reported go have come to their monastery. I ask them if they know the location of the Inquisitor? Is he still here? This got an immediate response. All the monks begin a deep throated hum and the 2 masters eyes glaze over. In moments they are all aggressive. Sinjin and Halbeck engage the masters and I move to intercept the mass of initiates coming from the training pit. The dwarven master follows me and attempts to distract me from the mass of initiates bearing down on us. I manage to fend off the dwarf long enough for the initiates to gather before me. They all appear to be under some spell but they are now between me and the Inquisitor so I open my connection to Kord and release a Thunder Wave upon them. The blast deals with most of them and I turn to deal with the dwarven master. We defeat the 2 masters. There was a small dragon hovering over us that the other two notice. Maybe he belongs to the Inquisitor and help him control these monks. If that is the case then we have to defeat all these monks to get to him. That alone is enough for me to pass judgment on him. Justice will be served this day if we are able to find him.

We approach the inner temple. A pair monks with halberds and 2 archers guard the small passageway between the portcullis and the inner Temple doors. I begin to bless the halberd monks with sacred fire and force them to retreat from the portcullis. When I get within the archers view Sinjin takes up position in front of me. I begin to bless the archers with sacred fire and Sinjin snatches the one arrow that may have hit me right out of the air. These monks have no defense against my Sacred Flame and retreat into the Temple. We grab the portcullis and muscle it up. Thanks to Sinjin’s training he saw the arrow shot from the hidden archer and caught it right before it had a chance to test my armor. Harbeck and I quickly cross under and let the portcullis fall as we take up defensive position against this hidden threat. We cross half the distance to the pair of grand inner doors when two hidden gates are opened. They are above us to either side of the doors and the walls are designed to funnel the lava that is coming out to fill in this passage we are in. Harbeck takes immediate action, shaming me in my moment of panic, and charges the doors. It was truly an inspiring thing to see. The doors were no match for a very determined, heavily armored dwarven paladin of Kord. The right door’s hinges faltered and gave way. The three of us were in before the startled monks could recover.

We were immediately attacked by a handful of monks and when done we found ourselves in an egg shaped room. Small little alter knaves along the sides with incense and prayer scripts. At the far end was a fountain of a dragon? with water spilling from its mouth into a pool. Just past and to the sides are 2 fancy stone doors. Each of these alters had a symbol on the wall over it with incense, prayer script, small personal items and some gems. The doors each had a figure carved on it with outstretched hands and something written on the door. Both the symbols and writing on the doors are draconic. None of us are able to read this language. Seems we may have to attempt breaking through a stone door, not something I looked forward to. We talk about options as we look around some more. I start to get impatient because I can feel the Inquisitor slipping away while we get delayed here. The statue and pool stand out so I start there. Notice some colored tiles in the pool so I look around to see if they match up with anything in the room. The alters have different colored gems. I grab a gem from each alter so I have enough to match the tiles. I try different things with the gems until I realize the tongue of the dragon is shaped just right to hold one of these gems. I put one of the gems in and it changes the color of the liquid that is flowing past it down onto the pool. The liquid is now the color of the gem. Time is still slipping by so I say a silent prayer to Kord and hopefully my bold action will meet his approval. I drink some of the liquid. It is slightly unpleasant but I feel magic wash through me. Nothing seems to happen until I realize that I can now read the draconic on the stone doors. They turn out to be riddles for each door. Also now that I can read the draconic symbols over the alters we are able to figure out what some of the other gems do and are able to get some healing from the dragon fountain. We were able to figure out the riddles and chose the left door first.

We move through a kitchen and dining hall which are both empty. We follow a flight of stairs that curves around the outer wall up past many sleeping quarters. The stairs finally end in a door. We rush in hoping to find our quarry still here. The Inquisitor must have felt safe and sure in his power because he casually greets us. We didn’t take any chances and closed on him immediately. Harbeck and Sinjin engage the Inquisitor while I went after his little flying dragon. The fight was not long and unfortunately we had to hand out Justice and end his life. Luckily, the fountain’s power was still on me so I could still read Draconic. I read and looked through as much as I could. I was able to gleam that the Seventh Circle summoned the Mule dragons from the nether realms and that they are not native to this plane. We gathered all that we could and headed back down the stairs. We still have not found the Smith’s daughter.

We looked in the other side of the Temple and found the Smith’s daughter looked up in a cage. The Temple’s Master Monk was down there with her and was still under the Inquisitor’s magic. He attacked us and fought us for a time before we were able to defeat him. We left with the Inquisitor’s belongings and the Smiths daughter.

The Baron and Master Lutor were both very pleased to see us upon our return to Phoenix Gulch. Descending back down the mountain gave me time to reflect and I wish I had the ability to save those monks and not have to kill them. They were not at fault. Now to see a smith about a suit of armor.

May Kord find my Actions and Judgments worthy. Marshall Ta’varis