The Jackal’s Price: LoF Session XXXVI
There is really not much I can say about the cleansing of the Deep Well of Paradise that you have not already heard I am sure, but I will try to separate the truth from the myth for you. When we entered you see it was exactly as the lamassu described it. The entire area was bathed in an unholy light and the air was rank with decay. It was only a matter moments before the ghouls started to appear, rising out of the water to feed. We fought and killed many of the foul abominations; however, it had little effect. Every one that we killed only seemed to spawn two more. Their numbers were such that we decided it was best to turn back and try another tactic. That was when the four vampires appeared.
They were once devout followers of Sarenrae and caretakers of the well, but they had been twisted into undead abominations. The stories are correct that they were violent and strong as the blood sucking fiends tend to be. However, their most dangerous power is that over the victims mind. They can infest your thoughts with their own and cause you to turn on your allies and even yourself if they are strong enough. We were lucky that none of us fell to such persuasions. Even though their words and thoughts whispered in our ears, it was not stronger than our conviction. Fortunately we proved the stronger physically as well, and yes before you ask Khatovar did pummel one to death with his fists. However that is how he fights so to remark on it is like saying I slashed one in half with my sword. Now if the means were reversed, and I used my fists while Khatovar used a sword, well that would then be worth recounting.
Where was I…oh yes…the vampires were dead or at least a sort of death. In truth a vampire is very tough to kill as you have to find their lair. When their physical body is destroyed they just turn to mist and float away. Only in their layer do they reform and slowly heal back to their full strength. In order to kill them you must find their layer and destroy their sleeping form. Not an easy task when what you must follow is mist and always in the dark. A task though that Ce-tan made for.
In order to track the gaseous like forms of the vampires, Ce-tan used his magic to enchant their forms to glow. Using more of his magic to fly he was able to follow the creatures back to their lair on the opposite side of the island. Their layer turned out to be a well or appeared to be a well. It was no wonder that the lamassu had not been able to find it. I am sure he would have only been able to fit one of his legs through the small opening. It was more than large enough for us, but deeper than Ce-tan could see down. Wisely Ce-tan decided to come back to inform the rest of us as to what he found. I will not bore you with the details of the final slaying of the vampires. Once you destroy their physical form and find their layer what remains is of little consequence and quickly dispatched.
What is more interesting and you can learn from is Ce-tan’s nature. Before returning to us with the vampire’s location Ce-tan stopped by the center island in the middle of the lake that is the Deep Well of Paradise as you know. Piled high were all the treasures the ghouls had taken from any who entered the well and never left. What we learned of later was that on the island Ce-tan had found an ornate crown imbued with powerful magics. Allowing his greed to overcome him he took the crown and kept its existence a secret for a time. I am sure in his mind he believed it was owed to him or some such crazy notion as are many of the thoughts that go through hid head. Unfortunately, I do not believe that Ce-tan has learned that you cannot buy, steal, or own the things that truly matter. I once again digress…
Once the matter of the vampires was settled we were at a bit of a loss of what to do next or how cleanse the curses. We new there were two, but what was causing them was still a mystery. In the end we had no choice, but to investigate the mosque and undead champion that lurked within. The mosque itself sat up on a mesa behind a small pool, which fed the larger lake by waterfall. Where the water came from I am not sure, but there appeared to be something at the bottom of the pool. It was impossible to determine what the large table sized object was, but my arcane companions were able to determine it was emanating strong necromantic magic. Given all this information we quickly determined that the object was most likely the cause of the curse on the water. Regardless of that fact we did not know how to fix the issue and we had an undead champion to eliminate.
The entrance of the open air mosque stood empty and although we saw some signs of past life there was not much left. After some time spent exploring it became clear to us that we needed to go in deeper toward the temple to find what we sought. The temple itself was nothing like what you know now. Yes the simple stone seats, statue of Sarenrae, and sun mirror were still there, but it had the feeling of crypt from its long years of ill use. Sarenrae continence did not shine as it does now and the sun mirror was covered in gore and filth. It was obvious to all that the temple was desecrated. On the far end, at the foot of the Dawnflower’s statue. lay the body of a women next to a giant of a creature missing it’s head. As you know I was aware that one of my order had attempted to cleanse the well before me and clearly had failed. However, it appeared that she had succeeded in killing the beast. At the time I thought perhaps she ended some other curse allowing us complete our task. Or more likely she died shortly after delivering her killing blow and was unable to complete the cleansing. Regardless I was careless and forgot two very important things as stepped toward her body.
Half way through the temple I pulled out my weapon and attempted to spit myself on it. To this day I tell you I have no memory of doing so all I remember was the pain afterword, but my companions informed me of what they saw. Not knowing what else to do myself and the rest of my companions continued to move forward. I was the only one apparently to attempt to kill himself as no other drew their sword to commit suicide. The first fact become apparent as we reached the massive headless undead and it stood up. All undead within the curse of the blood moon heal if destroyed. It seemed the large undead desert giant, we determined later, was no different and it quickly attacked with ferocity.
The second piece of information I forgot was that all who die or drink the water within the area of the curse are turned into undead. Most are turned into ghouls, but the strong are turned into vampires. It seemed the dead knight was stronger as she was turned into a spectre, which decided to appear next to me as I made my way toward the giant. I could do little to harm the creature as you magically imbued blades are required and I had no such blade at the time. Fortunately, it did not take long to remember the blade she was said to have carried. Dashing out of the spectre’s grasp I moved to the sarenite and grasped her sword. Expecting a blow from the back I turned to see that Khatovar and Zahkmed had moved up and were keeping the giant busy. With the power of the blade to strike the cursed ghost and the aid of Ce-tan we put her to rest. With our combined efforts turned toward the undead champion he to soon fell with blinding light.
It turned out that during our fight the gnome, who you remember was still under the affects of the demonic book, had been cleaning the sun mirror with his magic. Interestingly he used a spell he typically uses to capture and drown his enemies. Even though Glarth may not look it he can be quite ruthless at times and intelligent. Leave it to him to find such an alternative use for the power, but it worked either way. With mirror cleaned the sun slammed down and bounced to illuminate the statue of Sarenrae, ending the curse of the blood moon.
With one curse down there was only one more left and we had an idea of how to cleanse it. You see the legend goes that the well was created by the tears of Avanashea, and as you should remember we just so happened to have several of the very thing with us. We moved up to the corrupted pool in front of the mosque and Zahkmed dropped a single tear into the water. The reaction was immediate as the water started to boil hot and most importantly clean and clear. Whatever was at the bottom was burned away within an instant and the Deep Well of Paradise was restored.
So…you see we did not go there as avatars of Saranae’s will. Ce-tan did not use a bound genie to wish for the destruction of all the undead. The vampires were not utterly destroyed by the brilliance of Zahkmed’s power. Nor did I wield a weapon forged with the fires from Sarenae’s own hands. Most importantly the gnome did not summon a greater creature of pure light. If there is one lesson we can learn from the Deep Well of Paradise it is that all things can be corrupted no matter their power or purity. It is up to us to always be vigilant and cleanse the corruption in whatever way necessary.