The Worlds of Elia

Chapter 4: Temple of the Dragon Goddess

A few months have passed since the team of adventurers quelled the peasant uprising. They have made themselves a new home within the slums of Cardia, and have spent their days working to improve conditions around the city. Sentinel opened up a smithing operation in the city, teaching common folk how to meld iron into weapons and armor. Flint, with help from Sentinel and his new craftsmen, built an orphanage in the poorest part of the Cardian slums. Dingleberry began training his own unit within the Cardian militia, teaching them in the ways of the agnostic monk. Even Zelvan pitched in, and worked with the Merchant’s Guild to train fisherman and help secure fishing boats for out-of-work peasants.

All was going well with their new life in Cardia, when Sentinel, Flint, and Zelvan awake one morning to a loud knock on their door. On the other side iss Oswald, asking to come in and discuss some business. Oswald begins by sincerely thanking the group for all their service to the people, and tells them he’s got a big job. Sites like Ratatoskr’s tomb have been popping up all over Gravenholm, and Oswald has a lead on a new one that is not known to the Confederacy. He believes the treasure here could be even better than what was in the tomb, and urges the group to go before the Confederacy is able to find it and claim the treasure for their own. Whatever is in there he feels will be misused under the Confederacy’s control, and should be given to the people. Oswald then introduces Buldge and Solarius, two men he’s hired to be his personal guard, and instructs him to accompany the group.

On the way to the dig site, the group hears distant screams in an intelligible language, followed by what sounds like clashing steel. They run toward the sound and see their old companion Varis engaged in melee combat against a trio of otherworldly creatures. They then notice a dimensional tear closing up, proving these creatures have come from another plane of existence. The group immediately jump in to help Varis fight off the githyanki jailors. On the verge of death, the leader of the jailors attempts to pull Varis and Buldge into the void, but Varis retaliates with a fatal blow with his scimitar. Now safe from his former captors, Varis agrees to help the group raid the tomb.

The group arrives at the site, and are met by a large brass door carved out of a hillside. The door looks like it has been blown open by force. They walk in to a large, empty chamber. Toward the back stands a bronze statue of a bipedal creature with one arm and two heads. Upon further inspection, it appears as there were originally five heads, but three of them were broken off, along with the left side of its upper torso. Solarius draws upon his draconic heritage to conclude this statue is of the goddess, Tiamat, and that this is not a tomb but rather a temple built to worship her. Behind the crumbling statue to the right is like pile of rocks caved in on what was once a hallway, and an open pathway to the left.

The group continues on through the long hallway, and are immediately met by a dozen of dead bodies scattered along the floor. It seems there were a series of traps that have already been set off. There are bodies impaled by large arrows shot from panels in the wall, false panes leading to spike pits, and at the end of the hall lies two more bodies crushed under a large stone door. Upon further inspection, the group spots a few of the dead are wearing Cardian militia armor, but most are just wearing common clothes and aren’t armed with anything more than a simple dagger.

The group continues carefully through the hallway to come across another open area. Inside lies another dragon statue similar to the one seen at the temple’s entrance, but completely intact. As soon as the group walks in the room, a metal gate slides down from the ceiling, locking them in. Once inside, they can make out the golden statue’s figure of an imposing humanoid figure with five dragon heads. Solarius confirms his suspicions that this is, in fact, the Dragon Goddess, Tiamat. On the walls are mounted statues of five individual dragon heads, all facing the center of the room. The mounted heads are all colored differently—red, blue, green, white, and black. Sentinel and Varis then notice a jeweled chest at the statue's foot, clearly once used for worldly offerings. They agree that opening the chest is the only way to press on, and inspect the exterior of the box, hoping to disable a trap.  

Varis is unable to detect any traps, and so he opens the lid of the chest. Unfortunately, the mechanism lying inside of the box activates, and sprays Varis' eyes with a corrosive liquid, blinding him. The rest of the group hears a loud 'CLICK' as the red dragon head begins to move. Another CLICK and the red dragon head breathes a pillar of fire right onto the group. CLICK This time, the blue colored dragon head begins to move. The blue dragon head opens its mouth and unleashes a burst of electric energy. The lighting surges through Zelvan's body and neutralizes his body's nerve ending, paralyzing him from head to toe. It's at this point the party of adventurers notice the carvings on the floor.

There are a series of six tiles, each depicting elements representing that of the dragons on the wall. Flint makes note that the tiles tend to light up as soon as someone steps on them, and tests his theory a few times. CLICK Meanwhile, the green dragon head comes to life and releases a cloud of poisonous gas onto the group. Varis and Solarius start to feel the effects of the poison as the gas reaches their lungs. The group then splits to all stand on each tile—6 people for 6 tiles. The tiles all light up at once, and then go dark. The room falls silence for a few seconds, and then…-CLICK- The white dragon springs to life as the group scrambles to find a new solution to the puzzle.

The white dragon rears its head and breathes a cone of icy wind toward the party, dealing heavy damage. As the white dragon recedes into the wall, the group tries to decipher other ways to activate the floor tiles. -CLICK- Sentinal, Flint, and Buldge stand toward the outer ring of the room, in an attempt to not activate the floor tiles. Unfortunately, they aren't fast enough as one more -CLICK- stirs the final black dragon head, which spews a thick, corrosive liquid onto the group. The liquid burns clean through Sentinal's body, as well as Flint and Buldge's metallic armor.

One by one, the party leaps to the side of the room, successfully deactivating the floor tiles. As each adventurer slides up against the wall, the remaining dragon heads once again become active. All five heads begin to breathe in unison, and the group ducks toward the wall to withstand the blow. Fire eminates from all walls of the chamber, directed entirely at the center of the room. The fire increases in intensity for a few more seconds, until CLICK With that, the metal gate opens and the heads once again become motionless.

With each adventurer nearing death, Sentinal carefully leads the group out of the chamber one by one. He carries the paralyzed Zelvan, followed closely behind by now unarmored Buldge and Flint, along with Solarius guiding a blinded Varis. They make it back to the temple entrance and are met two more men dressed in Cardian armor. The men look surprised to see the group emerge from the chamber. As the men draw daggers on the group, Flint notices the purple armbands each man is wearing, and concludes they are definitely not friendly. 

Despite being on the verge of death, the group makes short work of the assassins, and takes a minute to collect their thoughts. It's become clear that not only had Oswald already cleaned out whatever had once laid inside this temple, but also had meant for them to die in the dragon head chamber. The group sets up camp inside the temple entrance, and spends the night healing their wounds and thinking through a plan.

The next morning, the team makes the long trek back to Cardia, fearing what they might find. The journey is quiet and melancholy, with each person trying to think back to how they might have seen through his lies. The group's fears become real as they get close to Cardia and see a tower of smoke in the distance. When they finally arrive to the city gates, they are greeted by a horrific scene. Hundreds of people lay dead in the streets, while homes burn to the ground behind them. They notice City Hall has been completely laid to waste, and now exists as a pile of smoldering ash. The group heads toward their home in the slums, and can see piles of dead bodies littering the streets. The only shred of hope lies in the carvings on the side of a few buildings: "SURVIVORS TO TALINDEN"

Everything is decimated, and the few still alive are fleeing the scene. Just then, the sky around them turns to a deep crimson, and the ground they walk on turns to scorched earth. The ruins of the city and everything around it are transported to another dimension, and the group watches as a Black Dragon materializes in front of them. They fight back the vengeful spirit, and the group is returned to the ashes of the city they once called home. The group decides at once to walk the long road to Talinden, in hopes of meeting up with any survivors.

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