Cult of Dust
The group headed back towards the entrance and then proceeded down the eastern passage. Their progress was blocked by a set of doors bearing markings similar to those found on the Obelisks out front. Cautious of a trap, Morg attempted to disable the device but found as he went through the door that the trap was still active and received a nasty shock. The rest followed him down a long hallway with a large crack in the floor, which had three sets of doors near the far end.
The door at the end of the hallway was closed, but they could hear a crackling sound coming from the other side. Wary of traps, but having no other option, they opened the door to reveal a large room light by four massive braziers, one in each corner of the room. The skeleton of a snake-like creature lay crumbling on the floor. In the flickering light, an altar of carved bone was visible along the northern wall.
When Vinara moved up to the altar to investigate a skeletal figure appeared in each of the two northern braziers, burning but undamaged by the flames. Fire flared in the eye sockets of the skeletal creature on the floor; its tail rising and lashing out sending shards of bone and stone flying. Smoke puffs in the two southern braziers appeared and then faded, revealing several shambling corpses. Two of the corpses were crusted with salt.
The corpses moved with surprising speed and surrounded Vinara, clawing and biting her. She swung her bronze staff, a halo of primal magic surrounding her, the undead quickly falling to her attacks. As the whipping tail of the skeleton continued to blast the room with poisonous bone and stone fragments, Gwyn summoned spectral claws that slashed into a burning skeleton and a salt zombie. Bear and Morg tore into the blazing skeleton and the second salt zombie, taking them down quickly. Morg hacked at the skeletal tail until nothing was left.
After the battle was concluded the group searched the room and found only writing above a picture of a massive serpent with a golden crown on it’s head carved into the altar. Vinara could barely translate the writing.
In the beginning, Ul-Athra and its siblings created the world. For a time, each primordial claimed a domain among the formless, empty regions. Ul-Athra, a creature of wind and rage, had dominion over the fury of the dust storm. It wore upon its brow the Crown of Dust, into which the primordial had invested a considerable sum of its power. When Ul-Athra was lost to the world, fragments of the Crown remained.
Continuing straight down a hallway, ignoring two side doors, the group found themselves in front of another pair of doors. Tired of caution, Morg flung open the doors and walked inside of a large natural chamber. In a niche in the southern wall, a massive, vaguely humanoid creature made of fused bone was resting on the ground. Four statues, apparently carved from the floor were visible in the chamber. A great stone cauldron was visible on the northern side of the chamber.
As the heroes moved into the room, they could hear low whispers coming from the cauldron. The ghostly mutterings continued without end, mixing words from many languages without meaning. As Vinara moved towards the cauldron, she avoided getting too close to the statues, as the air around them seemed disturbed. The cauldron was large enough to hold the entire party, but was empty except for what appeared to be a faint mist.
Deciding that their need to find the artifact was greater than the need to satisfy their curiosity, the group moved out of the room. Once again they avoided getting too close to the statues. The hallway was light from the far end and had two side passages that each had a large stone urn at the far side.
The southern passage had a snake design decorated on the floor tiles in what appeared to be charcoal. The northern passage was similarly decorated, but the design was painted in a dark green fluid. Both hallways had strange writing which Vinara translated as the phrase “Our ancestors require obeisance” etched in the walls. The large urns remained untouched as the group ventured towards the source of the light.
Wide steps lead down into a grand chamber. Crackling fire burned in two braziers that flanked the stairs. The flames bathed the room in oddly inconstant light, throwing shadows across a floor covered in skeletal and mummified humanoid remains. Vinara moved forward, heading to the southern doors leading out of the room, when she was wracked with pain.
With a shriek, several bodies scattered across the floor began to rise, the sickly sweet odor of decaying flesh blowing through the chamber. A snake sigil, previously obscured by the bodies began to glow with a scarlet light. Around the sigil, a number of ghostly figures appeared moving towards the immobilized Vinara, caressing her with shadowy hands. Morg charged the wraiths, cleaving them with his axe. Vinara and Bear defeated the remaining two with a combined attack.
Gwyn flung her arms in a wide arc spraying the zombies and skeletons with liquid fire. Although Vinara was in constant pain as the sigil continued to drain her energy, their remaining foes were dispatched quickly. Gwyn used her magic to disrupt the sigil long enough for the group to leave the room and head deeper into the Face in the Stone. The exit from the room eventually forked with doors visible at the end of each branch.