#010: Into the Temple of Skulls
After a brief discussion, the heroes backtracked to the fane's entrance chamber and headed north to the skull column. Such a foul and profane thing clearly needed investigating (and cleansing).
Artur chose not to accompany his friends. Instead, the brave paladin selflessly stayed in the main hall to make sure the temple's denizens would not creep up on the party from behind.
Advancing cautiously up the southern corridor, the party quickly arrived at the skull column chamber. The party were suspicious of the foul thing, and Horsa sensed necromantic magic lurking within the skulls. To be safe, Colzo decided to blast the column with his powerful magics. Embarrassingly, he missed the large stationary object. However, his attack did have a surprisingly effect--the column stirred. First it shuddered, and then it flew apart to create a whirling cloud of chattering skulls! The skull swarm descended on the two hapless heroes at the front of the party--brave Colzo and even braver Dennan. Dennan--wearing a skull helmet of this own--warded off the attacks, but Colzo was badly injured and forced to retreat.
However, as quickly as threat had materialised it was destroyed. Within seconds, the hundreds of skulls lay shattered and cracked on the floor. Although they had been victorious, several of the heroes were now injured--although Dennan had remained miraculously unhurt even though the skull swarm had consumed him for several rounds--and the party decided to rest.
An hour later the party returned to the skull column room to investigate. Descending the spiral staircase that had circled the column, the party reached a stout oak door black with age. Nails driven into the door were set in a now all too familiar leering skull pattern. Luther searched the door and, finding no traps, opened it. Beyond a large statue of a skeletal warrior clutching a morningstar stood guard over a Y-shaped corridor.
Suspicious, Colzo again used his magic to blast the creature--with a predictable result. The statue animated and lurched toward the party. The stone statue proved slow and surprisingly fragile. Although the guardian managed to strike Dennan once for a crushing blow it was also quickly destroyed.
Advancing deeper into the fane, the party discovered a wide processional chamber. Lurid and faded paintings and frescoes depicting foul, blasphemous worship of various skeletal, demonic and shadowy creatures decorated the walls. Several narrow passages led away from the processional. Interestingly, a curtain of tightly-meshed chainmail warded two of the entrances, and the party crept forward to investigate...