Anya does a little shopping in town.
Osrane does some research at the library of Seranrae, and finds out that Kardswann is a templar of the five winds, opposed to Rovagug. One of the Nefeshti, the genie princes, not exactly part of the church of Seranrae.
In the monastery’s frescoes we see Vardishal, one of the five templars, is killed but comes back to guide the high priests of Seranrae.
Hagrim thinks that Vardishal was posing as an aid to the priests but was actually corrupting them from within. The sword that Osrane holds was the artifact of Vardishal, and may be a source of corruption.
The harpy had told us that Kardswann had gone into the crypt (where the evil beetle demon Xulthos was imprisoned) and came out changed. We could tell that area and the thing was evil when we fought it.
The genie could have entered and then left by turning Ethereal after being convinced, corrupted or manipulated by Xulthos.
We head back to Kelmarane, with settlers, a holy warrior, low level initiates and Almah’s entourage in tow with our caravan. A year of reconstruction goes by, with Rags doing a lot of scribing. The priest of Nethis who works with Almah settles in the shrine south of Kelmarane. Over the course of the year more and more settlers come to Kelmarane, increasing the permanent population. Osrane and Almah are wed, with rites performed by Hagrim.
A few days later Osrane receives a messenger who seeks help from us. We all meet with the messenger, a tall human man with prominent face tattoo of a flaming sun on his forehead. Zayifid claims to be a simple traveler and wanderer of the sands. He tells us that the Carrion King has heard of our victory over the Kuldis tribe. Many gnoll tribes are uniting under the Carrion King’s banner, a surprising feat. Removing the Carrion King could avert a large war between humans and gnolls. We can find the King in the House of the Beast, on the far side of Pale Mountain, from which he has long ruled.
Some of the frescoes in the monastery depicted Pale Mountain in the background behind an efreeti and a djinni fighting.
After a day of travel into the mountains we reach White Canyon, a good place for us to camp for the night. The second day we sight two large sphinx circling above us. Rags thinks they are hierarchosphinx, rumored to be evil. They land about 50 feet ahead of us in the canyon. We agree to answer a riddle to try and avoid paying a fee for passage.
“If you have it you want to share it. If you share it you don’t have it.”
“What can you put in a barrel to make it lighter.”
“I have rivers without waters, forests without trees, mountains without rocks, towns without houses. What am i?”
The sphinxes are so enraged by our correct answers that they start attacking. Both charge in to attack Osrane. After Kayla kills them both we continue for a few more hours and encounter a party of four on horseback coming towards us on the canyon path. They seem evasive, and Osrane considers them evil. The group wants to keep going, having claimed to have been on a hunting expedition in the mountains and now returning to Katapesh. Hagrim offers to heal the wounded in exchange for the truth, but they refuse.
Two griffons approach from behind the party we are talking with in the canyon. Two of the party of four are killed by the griffons. We stop one as he tries to ride past us. One of the four (the halfling) gets away, and we subdue the two griffons after they attack Hagrim based on Hagrim’s fireball. Then debate ensues as to what we do with the griffons and whether we can communicate with them. Reviving one of the fleeing humans reveals that they came into the mountains to hunt for griffon eggs and they had one. We heal him and let him go with his horse in exchange for the egg that they claimed.
The griffons, it turns out, can understand Common. We give them back the egg and heal them, then they leave happy. They have not been otherwise disturbed except by these hunters. We travel for one more hour and then rest in the canyon.
Anya then guides the party to the plateau that holds the House of the Beast. We climb up the side of a mountain along a path to find ruins surrounded by a large wall (250’ x 400’). We are approaching from the West, and direclty in front of us is the gatehouse©, to the North a building has two minarets (A), and there are other taller minarets inside the complex. Long ago there was a temple near Pale Mountain devoted to Rovagug, and the Carrion King resides there.
We walk around North, and see through to the main structure (G) because some of the walls are broken. Building A seems to be some sort of temple building, mostly collapsed. The stairway down to the cellar is blocked by rubble. Anya thinks this area has been abandoned for decades, maybe hundreds of years.
Continuing on to B, we see that the large dome on top is askew and seems unstable. On the outside a stairway goes up to the top of the dome. Inside is mostly rubble, the roof somewhat caved in and the stairway down blocked by collapsed stonework. The stairs inside going up to the dome have also collapsed. There are two stone gargoyles built on the stone platform at the top of the dome.
Three big minarets are near the center of the courtyard (D). They are 120’ high and in good shape. At 50’ and 100’ up we see windows on the side. The westernmost minaret’s windows are covered with spiderwebs.
The central building (G) has a large dome decorated with formerly colorful tiles and is surrounded by three empty pools that once held water. On the south is a large iron entrance gate. The western side has ascending stairs to an atrium with pillars supporting the roof. As we step on the second stair a trap is triggered, allowing poisoned spikes to pierce the feet of those climbing. We see ten gnolls and two large hyena-like creatures waiting in the wings, and after a couple rounds two more large hyenas with gnoll archers riding show up from the southern flank.
Kalya advances to engage the large hyena mounts, who manage to kill her with their fiersome bites. A fireball kills most of the gnolls on one side, while the other side stays stuck in Rags’ web. The two hyena mounts that appeared on the ground get stuck by Anya’s entangle. Osrane and Easu take down the hyena upstairs with Anya’s help, and Rags gets jumped by the two as they escape the Entangle. We finally vanquish the gnolls, take four masterwork scimitars and masterwork longbows, and then we flee to rest and pray for 24 hours.