The party make for the Temple of Mortus before dawn, leaving Findle for the first time. They venture into the Wraithpine forest of Morat Ras. The trip is shorter than expected and the forest is still and quiet. A warm wind from the Gulf of Findle brings mist which settles in the deep forest at the foot of the Scara mountains to the North. The party have no trouble finding the temple, which at one point was the home of Rilken Sureclaw.
The temple lay in a secluded glade, now little more than a burnt down and overgrown ruin. Looters have left little to recover. The party pick their way through crumbling stone walls, Alistyr Onyx-Brass makes note of several that looks structurally unsound, fire has reduced their supports to charcoal and they could without a moments notice.
Dael Bloomhollow picks up on some tracks that lead to a partially charred cellar door which Rilken identifies as the catacombs where old Knights are laid to rest. The door opens easily, and light from an oil lamp burns in the darkness.
The party make their way down into the catacombs, taking care to move quietly. The underground crypt seems untouched by the fire, other than some ash settling near the door. Their hunch that the Danasian assassins may be using this ruin as a base seems to be well founded, as obvious footprints betray a human presence.
Light flickers from oil lamps hanging from the walls. Rilken grabs one and investigates an alcove. The mural has been scratched away and the gold ankh, the symbol of Mortus has been pried from the wall. Where the body of a knight, once lain in honour is bare, as are all of the others. Rilken recalls the day the lich came, hungry for revenge after his tomb was disturbed. He killed and animated the living knights and half of the town. Could he have come back for the old knights as well? What profane use could he have for such champions?
The party urge Rilken to move on. Half of the rooms seem to be stuffed with Danasian supplies, food, weapons, furs etc. A quick calculation by Shalazar suggest that whomever is here must be well funded. Upon opening a door, a loud chime is heard echoing through the chamber, an alarm spell. Daels ears pick up the ringing of a glass flask being dropped on the ground. Three beds and a table covered in coins and jewellery betray the presence of not two, but three bandits and red light seeps in from a door to the South. A portcullus to the East leads to a scratched out, dirt tunnel. They move to the Southern room.
What was once the ritual chamber for honouring the past knights of the brotherhood now turns Rilken's stomach. The golden ankhs hang inverted from the ceiling and the granite alter of Mortus, where the honoured dead are embalmed has been scratched, chipped and soaked in blood. A large knife and several unidentified slips of meat are strewn across it. A demonic visage can be seen, crudely painted on the wall behind the alter. An image of a demons gaping fanged mouth.
Alystyr and Dael recognize it as the image of Horcos Karun, the body taker. A bookshelf with several potions and books stands nearby next to a cauldron with a bubbling red liquid in it. Red mist seeps from the cauldron as Illiaph's familiar explains the unfinished demonic summoning ritual. Alistyr recognizes the poisonous nature of the cauldrons contents and vies that they leave it be. Dael's sharp eyes find another potion vial on the ground near the door, unstopped and mostly empty while Shalazar identifies the other potions as potions of invisibility.
The party draw weapons, unsure if an invisible presence is near. They begin to sweep the area. A rush of air and a loud crash startle them. Illiaph rushes to the trap door to find it closed. Pinned under hundreds of pounds of rubble.
Shalazar finds a small pull rope behind the bookshelf. It seems attached to the portcullis. They head downward into the bare earthen tunnels. Illiaph sends his quasit familiar ahead to scout the place, but he comes back with little news, nothing but chains, and spikes and corpses. Intrigued and disturbed by his description, Rilken heads down, igniting his swords flames as a torch.
The earthen tunnel is a scene from the blood soaked abyss itself. Wooden spikes are driven into the earthen walls and chains bind a dozen humanoid corpses. They shudder to life as the party approach them. Rilken spots several of them wearing the tattered remains of brotherhood gear, including another kenku.
Rilken's father strains against his bindings and claws at the earth. Others pull ferociously at their chains, breaking free and overrunning the party. Rilken is immediately overtaken by the wave of ghouls and as Illiaph steps in to help, his attack backfires in a sudden incursion of wildmagic. Thousands of multi-coloured, hand sized butterflies explode into being. Their fluttering blinds everyone in the chamber. Alistyr summons a sleuth of black bears to assist the fight and they eventually overcome the ghouls, all but Rilken's father, who seems to be tunnelling North through the earth. Illiaph retreats to regain his senses, sending his tiny demon beyond the butterflies. The familiar overhears chanting from the alter room and witnesses the final ritual act of a Danasian woman. A massive clawed demon emerges from the billowing red mist. The woman directs it towards the earthen passage.
Illiaph runs back to the party to relay this information as he mentally feels his familiar torn to pieces. They flee down the tunnel created by Rilken's father. The ghoul perks up at his sons prodding.
"Rilken? No time for chatter hatchling, Funiku needs me. I must get back to him. Rilken it's me! NO-"
Despite the familial nature of this ghoul, Rilken heartlessly dispatches it with a single smite.
The party tunnel out with the assistance of several badgers conjured by Alistyr. They make it back to the surface and find the trap door buried by a colapsed wall. A sudden bang from the door shakes the stone pile. It's only a matter of time before the monster escapes. The party flee to Longcrossing to raise the alarm.