When last we left out intrepid heroes, they were in the midst of investigating the secret temple of Wastri the Hopping Prophet, having deduced its existence by a careful examination of the ledgers found in the supposedly innocent warehouse. We left our heroes in situ, having discovered the armory and some of the guards of the place.
Present were Ardo, the human cleric of Pelor; Mongo, the half-orc fighter; Theric, the human paladin of Pholtus; Vellis, the gnome bard; Abo Thistlestrike, the human magic-user; and Ehrandar Dawngreeter, the elf mountebank.
Having determined that the armory held nothing more, the party explored the sole remaining door, through which they figured that the rest of the guards had moved. Beyond was a large chamber, obviously some sort of temple, with pillars leading down the middle of the room, two pools to either side, and atop a large dais a stone altar. And what should they find on said altar but their missing dwarf, Jhocamo, chained to the altar au naturale. And behind him, a figure in a hooded robe, dagger poised above the hapless dwarf, and obviously expecting the party's arrival.
Obviously the party could never hope to close the distance before the hooded figure could slice open the dwarf's throat. And, examining the pools to either side, it was clear that at least a half-dozen figures were within, their eyes just above the surface of the water and the points of their weapons just visible. Not a good situation.
Up stepped the mage, ignoring the figure's orders to stand still, slowly and subtly approached, presenting himself as a would-be convert. It unfolded that the hooded figure was some sort of half-man, half-frog. It was here that we saw a great test of the new ADD rules, as the mountebank used his verbal patter skills to first make the figure doubt his own preconceptions, and then reinforce the notion that the mage was, indeed, betraying the party and turning to the side of Wastri. A first-rate example of what those verbal patter skills are there for. And work they did. The figure was confused enough to allow the mage to close, and then was caught off-guard as the mountebank charged, seemingly to attack the traitorous mage, but instead hurled a barrage of daggers at the frog-priest.
The daggers hit home, and the frog-man retreated behind one of the tapestries lining the wall behind the altar as the guards leaped from the pools and engaged the party. In the ensuing brawl the cleric fell, but had his wounds bound by his fellows, bringing him back to 1 h.p., but unable to do much of anything except recuperate and drink wine.
All but one of the remaining guards were dispatched-- the last plunging back into one of the pools. Mongo, despite his vast strength, was unable to break the chains holding the dwarf, but the still-fallen paladin managed the feat (mightily impressing the half-orc). The dwarf was freed, provided with pants as a mercy to the rest of the group and a mace with which to wreak vengeance. The party then formed a consensus that the altar was to be desecrated in some way, and the mountebank then decided to act, pouring holy water upon it. It reacted in a most satisfying way, hissing and smoking. Unfortunately, he was also stricken by an immediate outbreak of hideous warts, reducing his charisma to 3 and rendering his hands almost incapable of holding any weapon.
The now-stricken mountebank remained behind with the cleric while the rest of the party explored the area beyond the concealed door. Beyond the found a large room with a pool with dozens of giant frogs, which had to be crossed in order to reach a further door. They decided to explore other options, finding a hastily-emptied bed chamber where a chest with many hundreds of gold pieces and a small pouch containing the original golden frog statuette (the very same that began their involvement with the Wastri cult in the first place). They also found a room with a half-dozen robes and various musical instruments of strange design.
However, while they were exploring the further reaches of the temple, the last remaining guard emerged from the pool and attacked the mountebank. The mountebank missed with all his daggers, and was laid low by the frog-man. Just before the guard did in the stricken cleric, the party returned, handling the guard easily and binding the mountebank's wounds, leaving him incapable of much of anything. Unfortunately, the dwarf then attempted to swim across the pool with the giant frogs, and was instantly and irrevocably consumed. The party had suffered yet another loss.
By this time, the party had had enough, and started the process of leaving the temple with their loot, wounded comrades, and some of the dead frog-man bodies to use as proof for the constabulary.
The city watch was duly summoned, and proceeded to take charge of the investigation (!). The party's claims were easily proven, although the unfortunate Salvomar (the paladin's henchman, who had been left behind to guard the rear entrance to the warehouse with oil) had been taken into custody over the course of the evening on suspicion of casing the place for a burglary.
Eventually, the wounded members of the party were let to heal and the half-orc accompanied the paladin to the temple of Pholtus, whither he had been summoned. The half-orc converted to the faith of Pholtus (the paladin's feat of strength in freeing the dwarf being a contributing factor in proving the power of that god), and the priests removed all of the curses besetting the party as means of rewarding them for undoing the evil cult of Wastri.
The evening ended with a certain cavalier entering the Cock and Bottle, and striking up a friendship with the remaining members of the party. Perhaps the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Songs with Twist Endings - It's always cool to listen to the lyrics of a song and discover that it's not at all what it seemed to be. For most of the song, you are led to believe t...