Sacellum of Ser Sekhmef the Valiant
Under the Ruins
The road, once paved and well traveled, now festered with aberrant plant-life; purple leaves twisted and cackled as the horses clopped by, worm-like roots squirming beneath rotted cobblestones, fat stems squelched wetly as the other weeds seemingly crushed out of the way of the horses. The broken husks of houses of Vurgenslye sat before them; most of them had their walls eaten away and their wood wormed through. It was a marvel that some still stood.
But most of all, were the fleshy mounds pulsating quietly on everything else.
“Fallouts from the Mournland. Disgusting, but that’s one of it’s products,” Sidnar offered, his face scrunching up in disgust as his horse mashed another fleshy cyst into mucus and ichor.
“The air stinks,” Jett said. To the south roiled a bank of reddish purple clouds. “Doesn’t look good.”
“We better find some shelter before it hits us.”
“What hits us?” Cynthia asked.
What began as a random infrequent plopping quickly developed into a painful hail of weeping flesh and mucus. As the party sought shelter within the dilapidated buildings, Cynthia was struck hard by a squirming tumor, the malignant bulb sinking noxious tendrils under her skin.
" Rot infestation…" the cleric said after examining Cynthia for a while. The tumor was brutally cut out of the elf, but in its place, bled an infected cyst. “We best get this over quickly. She will need much medical aid.”
Vurgenslye was exactly as the Senator told them; rotten, broken, but not quite abandoned. Between the grotesque growing flesh mounds, a feverish Cynthia was able to detect wagon wheels and horse tracks.
“We are to find the Sacrellum of Ser Sekhmef the Valiant. The hidden forge is supposedly buried there.”
“So who’s this Ser Sekhmef?”
“I’m not quite sure myself. But from what I’ve learnt, he was a follow of Dol Dorn, a warrior priest who devoted his life to perfecting a certain martial style which he claims to be emulate the highest tenets of Dol Dorn; a perfect balance between the mind and matter.”
“Dol Dorn eh… Quite a strange god of battle if you ask me.” Jett said.
“Strange? How so?”
The genasi pointed to a pair of statues flanking which used to be a temple. To the right stood a valiant man, clad in battle regalia, his hand resting upon a great weapon. His countenance was serene, yet hard, as if preparing for an assault from a yet unseen foe. If it were not for the manacles that shackled his hands and feet, and the crude spike club that rested between his feet, this statue was surely that depicting the warrior god of Dol Dorn. The other, however, depicted a man on his knees, struggling to free himself of the iron chains that bound him to the pedestal. Arrows and swords pierced the man’s naked torso, and his arms were scored in countless wounds. Yet his face was etched in an eternal roar of defiance and strength.
Sidnar knew that each region worship a different aspect of the Sovereign Host, but he had an uneasy feeling about this particular aspect of Dol Dorn, if it was at all. Upon closer inspection of the statue, he found a small rune carved into the forearm of the Warrior God. What could easily be mistaken as an archaic letter for ‘E’, the cleric actually recognized to be the symbol of an Old God, the broken God of Torturers and Jailers – Torog.
The Sacellum’s library held a small collection of books, all of which would be considered blasphemous or corrupting. The temple was clearly a facade for a nefarious cult of Torog, but having House Cannith align itself with these degenerates, that was beyond the cleric’s comprehension.
Aramil returned, having discovered a stairwell winding deeper into the temple. The few Emerald Claw lookouts stationed in the main chapel were all the evidence they needed to know that the Karrnathi scums were about. The stairs were cut into the very rock of the ground, crude, rough and uneven. Empty sconces lined the wet, slick walls, the air rank with rot and earth. Here, the worship of Torog was blatant; the fallen god’s symbol scratched into each of the spiked sconces.
The well deposited them at the southern end of a large natural cavern. Scatteed about on rocky platforms were squat ugly buildings mortared from dark stone. There was a low thrumming permeating the cavern, along with insistent squelching and hissing. Across the cavern, yet barely hidden from sight was a 20 foot bronze statue of a bull’s head framing a wide door. There was the forge. And judging from the sounds and the lights coming from building nearest to its entrance, it was occupied.
The group began making their way across the cavern. When they duck into the first building, they immediately regretted it. At first glance in the half light from the forge, the building looked to be a butcher’s shop. Yet, Sidnar was certain the mummfied remains that hung stiffly on the meat hooks were that of humans. A massive chopping block sat on the counter, its compatriot, a rusted, jagged cleaver the size of a man’s arm firmly stuck in the wood. After much hesitation, a more thorough search of the depraved butchery revealed its long dead occupants – mummified remains sprawled across the floor.
“I don’t like this place,” Janna whispered.
“I didn’t like this place the moment we entered it…” Aramil huffed.
“Wait, what’s the sound?”
Janna was about to nod and she heard a sharp breath by Cynthia. The stench of rot washed past her in a thick wave as they approached the bull-head entrance. And the meaty squelching wasn’t putting her at ease. Following the elf’s gaze, she was stricken dumb.
Stretched across the northern wall of the cavern was a thick, writhing carpet of flesh and vestigal appendages. Stumpy tentacles groped blindly along the wall; unblinking eyes pop out of slimy orifices; membranous filaments worm their way across the disgusting wall of flesh. And right in the centre of the wall, fifteen feet up, was a tumourous mass of cysts, pulsating with a dark amber fluid.