...once Lady Almah had provided the key we began in earnest in our preparations to vanquish the demon locked below the temple. Once inside we encountered three fiery servitors of Sarenrae. We prepared to fight the creatures but then Rags suggested that a follower of Sarenrae intercede on the party's behalf. Both the paladin and I showed our symbols of faith and the guardians let us pass. We entered a crypt and carefully looked for evidence of which way to proceed. My stern admonishments to Rags prevented any grave-robbing. I can no longer dismiss his avarice as an artifact of his race. He is clearly plagued by greed which warps his fragile mind. We must pray for him.
Anya pointed to a loose rock in the back of an alcove, noting a secret door and we continued down a long hallway which ended in a small storage room. Osrane took a scimitar from the room and the monk Easu took a headband. We returned to this room later, as it held many marvelous things. Osrane handed the scimitar and suggested it be wielded by me. He noted that these were placed here to be used by followers of Sarenrae and in my own greed (is Rags rubbing off on the group?) I quickly accepted his rationalization of taking these things. I must remember to seek the council of the Dawnflower before such actions in the future.
We turned around and went back to the entrance where a well was located. This well was the source of the guardians. We rang the gong as before and as the guardians parted we went down into the well and we continued our exploration of the temple complex. We found there a long hall of crypts which required me to again stand near Rags lest he begin rooting around a grave as a filthy pig roots around for food. (I really do pity the poor creature). Then, several of the corpses became animated. I have heard of "coffer corpses" which are resilient undead, and these seem to fit that description. The monk and paladin took up the fight with the two in the front of our band while Anya swiftly dispatched the one in the rear with a flaming sphere. I said prayers to Sarenrae to put these souls to rest and they were indeed vanquished. I should note that although they seemed to be killed they stood back up to die once more before truly destroyed. Clearly they are the product of being in proximity to great evil. We knew we must be close to the demon.
The demon was in a large, columned room and at first tried unsuccessfully to deceive us by appearing as a little girl. The paladin, guided by the rays of Sarenrae charged into battle. The girl transformed into a hideous, large and demonic insect with scintillating wings that buzzed in an unearthly cacophony. The light from the wings distracted us, while the noise rattled our brains. Two of our party with the least willpower was most severely affected. Those two were of course Kalya, Anya's rather large snake (what is she feeding that thing?) and of course Rags. As Osrane exchanged blows with the demon, the monk positioned himself at the demon's side and attacked it as well. Anya with quick mind cast Faerie Fire on the demon which helped reduce the glare of its demon wings. Alas, she was attacked by the befuddled Rags and seriously wounded by his magic missiles. She decided to order the snake to constrict Rags, for his own good of course, but unfortunately the snake only had momentary control of her wits and after engaging with Rags, both were thrown into a demon inspired battle lust. Anya moved to a better position to attack the creature with a summoned dire rat which destroyed by the demon.
The demon flew into the air causing great problems with combat logistics. During this time it meted out serious wounds to the paladin and monk and all I could do is use Sarenrae's healing magics to keep them alive. Finally Osrane struck from below and demon ichor spilled from its fleshy under-carapace. The demon was killed and the combat was over. Snake and dwarf minds returned to their natural state.
Upon the demon were magical rings. We returned to the store room to take the other items (two manuals to improve physical traits and a phylactery). We delivered the news to Lady Almah who then asked us to kill or evict the harpy. We negotiated with the harpy, offering her some demon parts along with an elemental gem and the ring of the ram.
We set off to Katapesh, only to be assaulted by heat and sun and Osrane and I were blinded by Sarenrae's disfavor. The familiar presence of Sarenrae was gone. My soul was as a boat aimlessly adrift in an ocean. We returned to the temple and after much work in the catacombs I meditated upon the phylactery and it became clear that those items taken from the storeroom. Easu prayed to the Dawnflower as well, my many hours of evangelizing finally crystallizing in a conversion. He has a long arduous road ahead of him but his journey is at last headed in the right direction. Once returned our sight and connection to the Dawnflower was returned. Alas the major blessing I received from her while praying at her statue was taken from me and my mind was less clear than it had been before.
We ventured to Katapesh once again and Anya quickly disappeared in the throngs of people. After arranging with the temple to further heal Easu, we hit the markets to sell our treasure and to buy equipment.
The sweltering noonday heat, throngs of people, sounds of civilization and familiar scents of cooking Kelishite flatbread is comforting me. It is good to be home again.