Temple of the Drowned King
In the forest west of Annan’s Port, beneath the ground, hides the true Temple of the Drowned King. The cult that built it included Duerfar architects and masons, and the structure has remained largely intact for many centuries. Originally the temple was accessible only by traveling through miles of tunnels that terminated in a sea cave north of Annan’s Port. Now, the roof of the cave closest to the temple has collapsed under the weight of time and the recent heavy rains, leaving a large sinkhole in the forest.
Though the temple has been abandoned by thinking creatures since the Ritual, other creatures have used the tunnels, caves, and halls for their dens and nests. The corrupted power of the temple has twisted many of them, creating monstrous versions. Giant centipedes nest in the outer halls and chambers of the temple, and hunt the caves and tunnels all the way to the sea caves where the Eidechse have built their village. These monsters provide an extra layer of protection between the temple and the outside world.
The halls and chambers farther in, though they have begun to crumble, have remained dry. The centipedes don’t roam here, but they have effectively kept other creatures from reaching these areas. Explorers who make it past the centipedes would find evidence that the cultists left the temple deliberately. Chambers can be identified as living areas, sleeping areas, kitchens and dining halls, but little is left other than broken, rotted furniture, stone hearths, and the occasional personal item such as a spoon, bottle, or broken pot.
The last chamber is something of a mystery. There is no obvious use for it, no debris from decayed furniture, no soot or grease stains. However, the walls are intricately carved with geometrical designs. There are tiny bits of paint in some of the grooves, and indentations they may have held gemstones proving the designs once were brightly colored and decorated. A single emerald remains in the middle of the west wall.
The emerald serves as a switch to a hidden door. It cannot be removed, but it can be manipulated. If the emerald is slid along the proper tracks of the surrounding design, the door will open. Beyond the door is a long passage leading to the temple. The geometrical designs continue in the temple. Hidden in the designs are ancient symbols of death and the corrupt power of the worshipers can still be felt. The only feature remaining in the temple is an altar, black with blood, against the far wall.
After the Ritual of Birth, after the Cult of the Drowned King was destroyed, after the cataclysmic tidal wave destroyed most of the coast, this temple still stood. Destroying the complex would do nothing to dissipate the power that the cult had gathered here – only time would do that. To protect the land from that power (which had nearly destroyed the world), Erde charged the surviving Eidechse to guard the temple.
However, time has passed and the Eidechse have forgotten much. They do not remember their great empire which was lost in the war leading up to the Ritual. They do not remember that the Alfar brought down that empire, or that they lost their homelands to the pointy-ear tree-dwellers. Only a handful of the Eidechse remember that they were to guard these tunnels, and none of them remember why.
For game masters: the centipedes are about the size of small dogs, though longer. They don’t do a lot of damage – 1d4 – but they do have venom which can be treated as causing straight damage, damage-over-time, or imposing a condition.
There are up to three groups of the centipedes. One in the collapsed cave, one in the first chamber of the temple, and one in the first cave going east toward the sea. In all three areas, parties can find various bones and the recent remains of Annan’s Port scouts and rangers. When the scouts first found the sinkhole they were completely unprepared for the danger the centipedes presented. The rangers sent to find the scouts also ran into the centipedes. Since they were traveling alone, they were no match for these giant hunters.
An adventuring party will also meet with a group of Eidechse. The Eidechse know better than to travel alone and do not often suffer losses to the centipedes. However, they will be surprised to find the party and they will be hostile. They do not know why they are supposed to guard this place, but they know these people do not belong here. The party can try to negotiate, which is ideal, or they can engage the Eidechse hunters. If they kill the hunters future attempts to negotiate with the Eidechse villagers will be more difficult.
Lord Markham will contract adventurers to try to locate his missing scouts and rangers. Eight men and women total have gone missing in the past moon and the lord is reluctant to send any more of his men. His knights are occupied with a recent bandit outbreak, and are not really suitable for mucking about in the forest looking for missing foresters. He will gladly pay for returning the missing, or for proof of death. They all wore sigils proclaiming them agents of Annan’s Port, which the party can return for the reward. He promises more gold if they are returned alive. As a game master, you could choose to allow the party to rescue one or more of the missing scouts/rangers.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.