In the aftermath of the battle with the ghouls inside the desecrated chapel, few of the Crusader group had even set foot inside the chapel. As they stood trying to catch their breath in the space between the chapel entrance and the side wall of the ruined stable, they spied the winged half-demon that Bohgong had encountered beyond the chapel. The half-demon was now emerging from an entrance on the other side of the chapel courtyard, accompanied by four ghouls and the ghoul priest who had escaped earlier.
As soon as she saw the half-demon, Asami called a bolt of lightning to strike at him and two of the ghouls that stood in a direct line between her and the half-demon. One of the ghouls immediately collapsed and stopped moving, but the other ghoul that was struck by the lightning continued toward the Crusaders, and the electricity seemed to do the half-demon little harm. The ghoul priest gestured and the bright warm glow of Jiro’s lantern was extinguished, leaving behind an ordinary light that was able to illuminate less area and couldn’t entirely defeat the gloom of the Worldwound. Irabeth murmured a prayer to Iomedae and moved toward the half-demon and his escort, ready to smite the half-demon with the goddess’s divine wrath.
In response the half-demon charged toward the half-orc paladin and met her with claws and teeth that dripped blood and gobbets of flesh as though he had very recently consumed a meal of raw meat. As he attacked Irabeth he sneered, “You are not worthy to be one of us!” Some of the Crusaders suspected that he was calling on the wrath of the demon lord Kabriri to smite the paladin.
Jiro stepped behind Irabeth, surrounding himself in an aura of purity to defend her against the fever carried by the ghouls’ claws as three of the ghouls rushed toward the paladin and Runa. Nurah began to perform a bawdy tune to encourage those fighting the ghouls. Aron and Sosiel conferred for a moment, then positioned themselves behind Runa. One of the ghouls clawed Runa, but failed to inflict her with paralysis. Zosta moved up to trip the ghoul, then stamped it into oblivion. She followed by knocking down the next ghoul and sending it off to the same fate.
Runa laid a hand on Irabeth and surrounded her with a protective aura to fend off evil. At the same time she sent out a wave of energy that gave all of her comrades an instant of speed, allowing them to reposition themselves. Asami decided to follow Runa’s example and took out another wand, tapping Jiro with it to give him the same kind of protection from evil creatures that Runa had given to Irabeth.
The ghoul priest picked up something from the ground and a ray of gray light shot toward Zosta, but it seemed to have no effect on her. Irabeth’s sword failed to connect with the half-demon and he retaliated with his teeth and claws and also with a battle aspergillum that dripped something nasty from the holes in the weapon’s head. The half-demon’s onslaught bore Irabeth to the ground and left her unconscious. Jiro was near enough to see that she was deathly pale from blood loss and her eyes had lost the light of life. He bent down and poured a curative potion between her lips, but at first it appeared that she was too far gone for the potion to make any difference.
Nurah cast a spell on herself and her form became difficult to discern. Then she moved a little closer to the rest of the group. As she was doing this, Zosta became enraged when Irabeth fell and lunged at the half-demon, slamming her bladed gauntlets into his hide with extreme force. After pounding the demon she raced across to the ghoul priest and knocked him to the ground. Runa swung her sword at the half-demon, exclaiming, “When one falls another will take her place!” The half-demon responded, “Let me return the favor!” as he struck at her in return. Meanwhile the ghoul priest clawed Zosta from his position on the ground, leaving her immobilized.
Jiro called on the power of his ancestors to free Zosta from paralysis, then extended some of his healing power to Runa. Asami raised one of her wands, prepared to send missiles at the half-demon if he attempted to cast a spell. Sosiel stepped toward the one remaining ordinary ghoul, cast a spell of divine healing on the still insensible Irabeth, and then attacked the ghoul. Zosta, able to move again thanks to Jiro, slammed her fists and feet into the prone priest until it moved no more.
Asami realized that Runa was beginning to look ragged from the half-demon’s assault. She fired three missiles at him from her wand, but they dissipated just before touching his flesh. The half-demon again clawed and bit Runa, and she slumped to the ground beside Irabeth. Jiro dropped his morningstar and took out a wand, sending a ray of healing toward Runa. She opened her eyes. Jiro murmured to Bohgong to get behind Zosta. Sosiel released a wave of divine energy that healed some of the wounds of his companions, but unfortunately it also healed the ghoul and the half-demon. Aron stepped closer to the half-demon, while Nurah approached Irabeth’s still form and cast a curing spell on her. Irabeth looked a little less pale after that and her eyes were no longer glazed.
Zosta called out to her companions that she could hear more ghouls approaching. The half-demon snarled at his remaining ghoul minion to “Kill the priest” and it moved to claw at Runa, who was still lying on the ground near Aron and Sosiel. Zosta charged the half-demon and punched him hard. Runa, who was conscious again, drew her sword and imbued it with divine fire. Without rising from the ground she used it to slash the ghoul. The ghoul responded by leaving deep claw marks in her leg. Asami began to look for an opening to weaken the half-demon, searching for magical effects that might be protecting him from attack. Jiro reestablished the magic that allowed him to monitor his companions’ wounds and absorb some of the harm done to them, then summoned a weapon of force in the form of a katana and directed it to attack the ghoul threatening Runa.
The ghoul continued to follow its master’s orders and focus all its attacks on Runa. Runa managed to regain her feet despite being badly bitten. She bent to pick up Radiance, the powerful sword Irabeth carried, which had fallen from the paladin’s hand when she was rendered unconscious. When Runa plied Radiance against the ghoul it was finally overcome and sent to join the half-demon’s other servants in death. As Asami began to perceive what magical effects enhanced the half-demon, the area around the Crusaders was suddenly plunged into darkness again. Under cover of darkness the half-demon bit Zosta and slashed her with his claws, injuring her badly enough that she could no longer stand. But before she fell she managed to snatch his aspergillum out of his hand and when she collapsed she landed on top of it.
Asami and Nurah were both outside the range of the unnatural darkness. Both of them were startled when they felt something brush past them, but they saw no creature. Within the darkness the demon stepped away from where he had previously stood, and Runa, whose orcish eyes could see despite the lack of light, moved past Aron to pursue the enemy. Asami called on her magic to banish the darkness. Jiro used his power to heal himself and sent his magical katana after the half-demon. The demon responded to this by darkening the area a second time, attacking Runa, and then using his wings to fly away. Runa saw that he was clearly sorely wounded as his flight was unsteady. She ran after him, but he swiftly flew out of the courtyard through a breach in the wall and disappeared from view around the corner of the chapel’s living quarters. Burdened by her heavy armor and her injuries, Runa reached the corner of the building too late to see where he had gone.
Now that the Crusader group had no immediate enemies in sight, Asami and Nurah told the others about the unseen presence they had felt. Jiro swallowed a potion that would allow him to see if another area of darkness barred their way. Runa returned to the group and handed Radiance back to Irabeth, who was now conscious after being healed by Sosiel’s magic and Nurah’s, but the paladin was very weak. Jiro used his magic to help Zosta recover and heal some wounds that had been done to Sosiel. He also gave a wand to Nurah to use to further heal the rest of the group members.
By this time the members of the group had depleted much of their healing magic and protective spells, except for Asami, who had cast few spells during the fighting with the ghouls. Zosta wondered if they should rejoin the army and rest overnight to restore themselves before attempting to fight whatever else might be lurking in the chapel’s other rooms. But Irabeth felt a strong compulsion to cleanse the chapel as soon as possible despite her weakened state. Jiro, Runa, and Zosta all suspected this compulsion was being transmitted to her by her sword Radiance. Asami also argued that they should remain at the chapel until it was cleared, for fear that the half-demon might be able to heal himself and call reinforcements if they left. Jiro agreed with her, and after discussion Runa and Zosta were convinced as well.
When their next action was decided, Jiro cast a spell on Runa to give her skin the durability of tree bark, and another spell on Zosta that would enable her to act even more heroically than she ordinarily could. He also determined that the ghoul’s claws had inflicted her with a fever, but she had no symptoms yet and the illness would have to be dealt with later. Zosta swallowed a potion to allow her to see in darkness. She picked up the half-demon’s weapon, which he had abandoned because it had been trapped under Zosta’s body, and Asami determined that it had magical properties.
Once everyone had prepared as best they could, the group re-entered the chapel. As they advanced toward the set of double doors near the altar, Aron pointed out that if the chapel’s cache of supplies still existed it would probably be hidden beneath the altar. The group paused to search for it. They found a lead-lined compartment under the altar that was filled with dozens of curative potions, enough to supply their small army. The lead lining had hidden the potions’ magical aura from their enemies. The party members quickly removed all the potions, storing them in Zosta’s magic bag and Runa’s enchanted knapsack. Asami took two potions for her own use, as did several of the others.
With the supplies found, the party moved on to the double doors and Zosta kicked them open. The doors opened into a large room that held long stone trestle tables and the remains of wooden benches, and had probably served as the dining hall for the clerics who once lived there. A rope hung from a small opening in the ceiling, presumably leading to the bell they had heard ringing earlier which must once have been used to call the clerics to meals. The tables had been equipped with leather straps and were stained with blood and other substances, suggesting that the demonic occupiers had been using the dining hall as a torture chamber. But the room was currently unoccupied.
The group moved on to the next door at one end of the dining hall. Zosta pressed her ear against it, then kicked it open when she heard nothing from beyond it. The party members’ noses were assaulted by the stench of decay as they witnessed two human corpses hanging from hooks attached to the ceiling. The bodies still wore items indicating they might have been soldiers, but both had clearly been dead for some time. The room they hung in had once been the kitchen.
The Crusader party left the kitchen and moved to a second door exiting from the dining hall. Before they tried the door, Runa softly asked Irabeth if she might borrow Radiance to combat any enemies they met. Irabeth was clearly too weak to wield the sword herself. But Irabeth responded that she currently felt a very close bond with the sword and was unwilling to let go of it. Jiro surmised that it was only the power of the sword that gave her the strength to walk, and even then she needed Aron and Sosiel to support her.
It occurred to Runa that she could use the enchantment her shield held to good effect if there were more ghouls inside the structure, which seemed likely as the party members could hearing moaning. When the next door was opened Runa proceeded through ahead of the others. She stepped into a room occupied by several broken cots, where two undamaged bunks had been pushed together to make a larger bed. When Runa entered the bunkroom, two ghouls that had been stationed on either side of the door stepped forward. Runa’s companions had been warned to stay back and they weren’t affected by the brilliant glare that suddenly shone from her shield, but the two ghouls were left blind. Zosta rushed in to strike one ghoul, and Asami hurled her wooden spear at the same one. The ghoul dropped and Zosta pummeled it into nothing. The second ghoul was quickly dispatched as well.
There was little else of interest in the room. The party members guessed that the two beds pushed together had served the half-demon. They found some human remains that looked as though they had been partly eaten, which might explain the blood and flesh they had observed on the half-demon’s claws.
Beyond the bunkroom the group found what Aron described as a meditation chamber. Its stained glass windows had been shattered. The chamber was under a magical effect that eliminated all sound, but Aron told the others that this wasn’t uncommon in such spiritual places and had likely existed before the demonic forces gained control of this chapel. Besides broken glass, the meditation room contained a few scattered remnants of objects probably taken from prisoners, all of them trampled and discarded.
From the meditation room the group proceeded on to a barren chamber with alcoves in the walls that might once have held statues but now contained leather straps for restraining more captives. This had apparently been the private quarters of the high priest. Besides the straps it contained nothing of note.
The group went out into the courtyard again to make sure that no new enemies had arrived. On reassuring themselves that they were still alone, they decided to search the chapel for any hidden compartments, trapdoors, or secret rooms, as they still didn’t know who or what invisible creature had passed Asami and Nurah earlier. They found no evidence of the creature or any places for it to hide, but a more thorough search of the bunkroom did reveal a strongbox. The box contained thousands of gold pieces, hundreds of silver and copper coins, several valuable gems, a fine holy symbol of the goddess Sarenrae, an enchanted chain shirt, a pennon that held some magical effect, and a dagger. Asami examined all of the objects that had magical auras to determine their properties. When she touched the dagger she felt as if the metal had burned her, and when she let go of the dagger it returned to her hand. After realizing that this must be part of its enchantment, Asami dropped it, repelled by the metal. Her comrades gathered up the other items from the strongbox and the whole group returned to the courtyard.
The Crusaders had just re-entered the courtyard that lay between the stable and the living quarters when suddenly a nabasu demon and two babau teleported into the area. The nabasu immediately demanded, “Where are my sacrifices? Where is Nulkineth?”