26th Maius (contd)
Head over to look at the “chariot shrine”. Here, the PCs meet Ranjeet Wind-dancer, a faerie dragon, who gives the party some useful information on what can be found in the ruins. Deciding to leave Induma the Moon Hag and the Great Temple for now, the PCs go to the ogre’s cave at the far eastern end of Gopura in the hopes of rescuing two human captives.
The passage inside is narrow, damp and smelly and after a short distance the PCs find the body of one of the two missing people stuffed into an alcove. Further in, the tunnel opens into a large cave where the ogre lives with his two pet tigers. While Hrothgar and Sora hold the line against the tigers, Juma uses swiftcurrent to cross the underground river and attack the ogre, telling the big brute to “calm down” as he smashes angrily at the genasi with his club. Gil attacks the ogre with his flaming sphere, egged on by Ranjeet – the extent of his contribution, much to Juma’s disappointment. The PCs manage to finish off the first tiger and the ogre, leaving it to Hrothgar who had been missing throughout the battle to kill the last big cat.
The party free the captured villager, a woman called Mahadevi, but there isn’t much sensitivity from Hrothgar when he tells her about her dead husband and she bursts into tears. Shrugging his hairy shoulders, the gnoll starts pulling out the ogre’s teeth to add to his trophy necklace while the others loot the cave, finding a +2 cloak of translocation. Promising to take Mahadevi back to her village of Riverbend later “if it’s on the way”, the PCs settle down for an extended rest.
After resting, the PCs bury Mahadevi’s husband. Ranjeet volunteers to look after the grieving widow; he will take her to the Monkey Temple for safekeeping. Heading up the slope behind the entrance to the ogre cave, they enter a ratha (small shrine) only to find it has an unstable ceiling which collapses on top of them.
Next, the PCs go inside another ratha overgrown with vines. They’re not even remotely surprised when the skeletons on the floor of the temple get up to attack but these aren’t the real threat. A trio of vine horrors emerge from behind the garbhagriha, attacking with vicious vines which entangle and strangle the heroes. Juma goes after the spellfiend which blinds Sora with its caustic cloud while the others fight the two other horrors. Gil bravely fey steps into the middle of the shrine to cast fire shroud. The two controllers are killed and the PCs close in on the spellfiend which manages to blind Hrothgar and Juma. Ulthar gets in close and finishes off the plant monster. Amongst the debris, the PCs find an onyx dog figurine.
From here, the party enter the impressive Temple of the Black Leopard, causing a giant four-armed statue and two hooded cobras to animate. The fight inside is another tough one and Ulthar, poisoned and slashed several times with scimitars, ends up unconscious, failing a death save. As the PCs close in on the statue after killing the two snakes, it uses its sweeping whirlwind to knock everyone flying. Getting to his feet, Hrothgar knocks the statue over with his attack and pushes it into the entrance but Sora pulls it back again with call to arms. As everyone gangs up on the construct, Sora finishes it off with a critical hit from her javelin.
With the guardians disposed of, the PCs are able to open the doors to the inner sanctum which holds an enormous statue of Bauhei, the Black Leopard. At the foot of the statue is a sadhu – an ancient mystic named Shankara, who invites the party to walk round the temple and study the carvings to learn the history of Dhak Janjua. The first three storeys of the tower tell the story of Vrishabha’s rise to power and his defeat by Srivatsa but the third floor carvings are more interesting, showing Vrishabha’s imprisonment in a glacier high in the Pillars of Heaven Mountains, rakshasas in modern-day Parsantium, and then yakfolk sorcerers performing a ritual from an ancient book to free the rakshasa rajah, allowing him to take his revenge on the city. When the PCs return downstairs to talk to the sadhu, he utters a few words about what the PCs have seen just being one possible future before returning to his deep trance.