"brother..."don't smile at me, you son of an orc and a rock...
Blood started heating in Ragnok's veins, and took only two or three seconds of silence before it reached boiling point.
Instead of hacking down on the dwarf's hands, Ragnok made a sudden twist of the weapon, slamming the flat of the axe against the dwarf's hands, probably breaking some fingers.
He would have preferred to slam it against the bandit's head, but he couldn't afford that luxury. "brother..."
Clenching his teeth, Ragnok breathes once, trying to relax...
He nails the axe to the floor and starts.
"This is no normal bandit den, what is goin' on down 'ere?"
My brother for the last... If he insults Keran I'm not sure if I'll find temperance not to split his skull in two.
The dwarf bears the broken fingers without crying out, but a grimace of pain mars his features. He glares at Ragnok, giving the good dwarf a heavy dose of the "evil eye." After a few minutes, he again speaks. "The Temple is the base for the Cult of Elemental Evil. We who follow the ways of the Temple recognize the elements for what they are: the purest form of power and chaos to be found in the world. It brings us power, wealth, and glory!"
The emerald-eyed dwarf shows no reaction to the information provided, and after waiting to see if there was an more to add, he carries on.
"About the Factions now."Whatever they might be"The temple's" he says the word with the tone of voice reserved-for-the-innkeeper-when-you-find-the-previous-occupant-decided-to-take-a-dump-in-your -assigned-room-and-noone-cleaned-up "layout: the building's structure and organization."
With this, he takes out his bodka and takes a quiet sip.
"Are you dumb, dwarf?" asks the cult follower to Ragnok. "The factions rever the different elements. Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Each faction pays homage to the Greater Temple. The layout of the dungeons beneath the Temple are quite extensive. Each faction controls a different region. The Cult of Earth currently hold the Temple's first level, while the other three hold areas of the second dungeon level. The third level houses some of the Temple's greater assets, and the fourth and deepest level is dedicated to the Greater Temple."
In response to the insult, Ragnok simply spits some of the vodka on the bandit's wounded hands. It sure hurts more than his insult. And continues: "So, pray tell, is there friction between the factions or are they strongly united?"
/after receiving an answer/ "Also, have you taken a dwarven prisoner in the last months?"
OOC: last two questions form me, feel free to suggest more
Some of this information may be redundant, as I honestly don’t remember everything that you’ve discovered so far…
A thorough interrogation of the renegade dwarf takes several hours, much of it frustrating, especially to Ragnok. Eventually, though, you learn all that the dwarf seems to know about the Temple of Elemental Evil and the cult’s followers.
Jargo (the dwarf) explains that the Cult of Elemental Evil is dedicated to the concepts of Evil and Chaos, the destruction that the elements can sow, and the power that comes with control of said elements. The four main factions of the cult (Fire, Water, Earth and Air) have again grown powerful, but because of their chaotic nature they spend as much of their time fighting amongst one another as they do working together against the forces of good. The high priests of each cult hate one another, and often send skirmish troops into each others’ domains. Jargo himself serves The Greater Temple which is dedicated to the combination of the elements, and maintains some control over the factions, who all pay fealty to its power. Amongst those that vie for control of the Greater Temple, though, are three sub-factions. In order of relative strength, they pay homage to Iuz the Old, the foul demoness Zuggtmoy (Lady of Fungi) and the dark and beautiful Lolth. While these sub-factions work together to further the cause of the Temple, the dwarf reveals that each really only seeks power for themselves.
The Temple’s upper works are mostly shunned and abandoned, besides the group of mercenaries and bandits that had garrisoned the broken tower. The real power of the Temple is centered below ground, in the dungeons. The first dungeon layer is controlled by the Earth Temple and its undead minions. The second dungeon level is shared by the Air Temple, the Fire Temple and the Water Temple, and all of their various minions. The third level was reserved for rewarding the faithful of the Temple, but now serves as a garrison for many of the Temple’s elite troops. The fourth dungeon level is dedicated to the glory of the Greater Temple, and most of the cult’s leaders can be found there.
Jargo claims that the Temple is far too powerful for you to do any real damage to the cult. He claims that the Temple’s forces number in the hundreds, and include powerful clerics and wizards. Unless of course, you could find someway to destroy the Temple itself and all within…but even the great mages and priest who sealed the Temple a decade ago lacked the power for that task.
Concerning any dwarven prisoners, Jargo tells you that one was taken a couple of months ago. After being beaten and tortured, the wretch was taken to the darkest depths of the Greater Temple. Jargo knows little more than that. Perhaps he was sacrificed for the glory of the Temple, or perhaps he was sold into slavery, to add coin to the Temple’s coffers.
With all you have learned from the dwarven prisoner, you decide your best option at this point is to return to Hommlet to rest and dispose of the prisoner. The trip takes the remainder of the day, but with the rain having stopped and the weather improving it is much more pleasant than the last time you came this way. You pass a few travelers on the road…but no dangers or threats.
Arriving at the village, you turn the dwarven prisoner over to the guards at Lord Burne’s tower, and head for the Inn of the Welcome Wench, where Ostler Gundigoot greets you with a meal of stuffed trout and mugs of cool ale.
Kurt has ridden hard for many days, south from the Furyondian capital of Chendl toward the small thorp of known as the Village of Hommlet. With a writ from Patriarch Thanden of the Church of Heironeous on behalf of King Belvor IV, Kurt has been tasked with aiding a covert group that was sent south more than a week before him to investigate rumors of evil returning to the Hommlet area. Fears that the once-thought-destroyed Cult Of Elemental Evil may again be practicing their vile religion of chaos and evil in the region prompted the crown to ask the church for additional aid, and the church responded by assigning you to the task.
While the way south has been rough, ridden with rainy weather, muddy roads and even a run in with local bandits, Kurt has made good time and is relieved to see the brambles and shrubs give way to field and orchard. Soon after ,the cleric spots a small herd of kine grazing, and a distant hill spouts a few wand stone chimneys with thin plumes of blue smoke drifting lazimly into the sky. Ahead, wood and stone buildings begin to dot the road to either side...the village of Hommlet at last.
Making his way to the center of the village, Kurt is pleased to see a large wood and stone building with a square wooden sign showing a buxom and smiling lass holding a flagon of beer. This must be the Inn of the Welcome Wench, which every merchant Kurt has questioned having made a point of mentioning for its excellent food and hearty drink. After paying the stableboy to look after his mount, Kurt retires to the taproom for the evening. A mug of cold ale and plate of stuffed trout is the first good meal the cleric has had in days.
After finishing his meal and leaning back in his chair, Kurt is surprised to see a group of what can only be seasoned adventurers enter the inn. They consist of a dwarven warrior, a pudgy halfling, a beautful female warrior, two human males in light armor, and a heavily armored human displaying the blazing lightning bolt of Heironeous about his neck. Could these perhaps be the heroes Kurt has been sent to assist? After a quick discussion with Ostler Gundigoot, the proprieter, they sit down to dinner at a nearby table.
Dara sits down, letting her honey blonde hair fall over her chainmail-protected shoulders. The scabbard with her falchion is hung over the chair's back. When Ostler puts a mug of ale before her, she thanks him with a friendly smile and a nod before taking a draft.
“Looks like we have quite some task set before us... any idea how we should get about this? If the dwarf spoke the truth and there are really hundreds of them, we will have to find a way to get in and out, so we can either slowly reduce their numbers or strike at their leaders directly.”
Kurt watches the newcomers for a bit as he drains his mug. Signalling Ostler for a refill, he waits patiently as the barmaid returns with a fresh mug of the surprisingly good brew.
With the fresh mug in hand, Kurt stands and makes his way across to the newcomers' table. Standing two fingers over six feet in height, and of solid build, the heavily armored man raises his mug to the other heavily armored man. "It be good to see a fellow devout follower," he says by way of introduction. A closer inspection reveals that this largish man with the shaved head and squarecut goattee also wears the same holy symbol.
The man waits patiently and takes a drink from his mug.
Taking a sip of his drink, Verdis starts to reply to Dara, but pauses as the shadow of the large armored man settles over the table. Verdis looks up curiously, but appraises the man letting someone else speak for now.
"Kurt," he says by simple introduction to Coraine as he shakes his hand before taking the offered seat. "Cheers," he says, raising his mug in greeting to them all. "Interesting little place this Hommlet," he adds as he takes another drink.