Atum-Ra Ascendant

The Cult Conundrum: Part Three

Some time after arriving at the Life Tree encampment Yanech comes to collect the party and takes them to a large tent near the base of the tree. There he introduces them to the elders of his “cult”. Amongst them is an elderly woman he introduces as Honoured Voice of the Tree, their High Priestess. Honoured Voice gives the party some information about her organization and what history of the Tree she knows and is willing to impart. It mostly boils down to the fact that the tree has been here as long as their history records and they have been here worshiping it for just as long. They believe that the tree is integral to the continued survival of Athas. Bug Man Todd is not buying much of her story and insists that people who are not forthcoming with information have something nefarious to hide. Honoured Voice in return insists that knowledge not earned is rarely taken to heart and will not reveal more until the party is ready. Before the conversation can get much further a commotion interrupts them. A pilgrim (Geb) on his way to the tree with another missionary were attacked and the rest of his party was captured by beasts and dragged off. After a bit of cajoling the party bravely volunteers to return to the scene with the man and attempt to rescue the missionary and the rest of the pilgrims.

Geb leads the party to what appears to be a long abandoned mine. The party ventures into the mine while Geb waits at the entrance. In the mine the party finds a group of Hejkin, hairy humanoids with but a sliver of intelligence. After defeating the Hejkin and their traps the party finds a hole at the back of the mine leading further down. They descend to find the some of the missing pilgrims alive and the bloody remains of the rest (as well as that of more than a few Hejkin). Unfortunately the pilgrims are not the only thing they find. It appears the Hejkin were worshiping a pair of Ankhegs. The battle with the Ankhegs nearly kills a couple members of the party but they are finally able to defeat them and rescue the pilgrims, escorting them safely back to the encampment.

Back at the Life Tree the worshiper there throw a great celebration for the safe return of the surviving pilgrims as well as a funeral for those who perished. The party witnesses the worshipers burial ritual wherein they throw the bodies of the deceased into the crevasse from which the life tree grows, apparently believing they are completing some circle of life returning both spirit and body to the life tree. The party is also honoured for their service to the worshipers and in an apparently surprising event are rewarded by the Life Tree itself with treasured items that ascend from the crevasse to rest at their feet.

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bscarbeau

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