713 Abode of the Dying Sun – Lv2 Shadowdark Adventure

Thus, the Abode of the Dying Sun is a place of ancient mysteries and dark rituals, a desert beacon for those brave or foolish enough to seek its secrets.

Elvish Adage

In the heart of the Shimmering Sands, where the sun’s relentless gaze scorches the earth and the mirages dance with the winds, lies the Abode of the Dying Sun. The temple is a mere shadow of its once glorious self. It stands as a tes­tament to the ever-shifting sands of time and faith.

Eons ago, when the desert was a blooming oasis, the Abode of the Dying Sun was erected in veneration of ethereal beings believed to be the guardians of the sands and the givers of life. They are axolotl spirits. These small gods, as whimsical as the desert breeze, were re­vered by the Sand Whisperers, a now-forgotten civili­zation. The temple, crafted from sun-baked bricks and adorned with intricate glass mosaics, served as a con­duit between the mortal realm and the axolotl’s ethereal plane. In art form, these spirits are depicted as lumines­cent axolotls, each a custodian of an element of the des­ert ecosystem. They were worshiped through rituals that celebrate the harmony of life, water, and sand.

Children of the Scorching Ray

In recent times, the temple found new inhabitants. A mysterious, sun-worshiping cult in its most brutal form, took residence within the abandoned halls. They are known as the Children of the Scorching Ray, a group that venerates the harshness of the desert and the relent­less sun above. They believe the sun is dying, its light a symbol of fleeting life and impending doom. The cult has sealed many sections of the temple, but rumors speak of ancient chambers beneath the sands, where the axolotl spirits still linger, awaiting the return of true believers.

Adventure Hooks

  • Dark Rituals. Legends speak of ancient scrolls hid­den within the temple, containing the wisdom of the Children of the Scorching Ray. Baaz Raddi, a scholar, of­fers a reward for such documents. (30 gp, 0 XP).
  • The Ritual. A priest of Gede warns the characters that the Children of the Scorching Ray prepare for a rare celestial event. He sends the characters to the Shim­mering Sands to find out what dark purpose this ritu­al serves. If necessary, the characters are charged with stopping it and arresting the cultists (20 gp, 0 XP).
  • Help Plea. A mysterious voice has been calling to travelers near the temple, pleading for help. Some have approached but are driven off or robbed by the Children of the Scorching Ray. The elusive voice belongs to Artul­lig, one of the axolotl spirits trapped in the depths of the temple. The axolotls yearn for freedom and issue a men­tal plea for just hearts. One of the characters hears this message in a vivid dream. They know the direction to the Abode of the Dying Sun instinctively (0 XP).

Level 2 Adventure

  • Danger. Risky. Check for a Random Event every 2 crawling rounds and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
  • Light. Some areas have large braziers; the rest are in pitch darkness. The denizens are dark-adapted.
  • Arcane Sands. Water-based spells have their DC in­creased by 1. On a fail by 5 or more, the spell is cast but its target is randomly changed. On the other hand, all fire-based spells have their DCs reduced by 1.
1 A sudden sandstorm traps the adventurers inside the temple. None can traverse the desert for 1d4 days.
2 As the moon reaches its zenith, the temple walls emit a faint glow, revealing cryptic inscriptions that speak of a forgotten proph­ecy related to the axolotl spirits. A spellcaster learns of these spirits and their secluding in area 12.
3 A mysterious traveler (thief), claiming to be the last descendant of the Sand Whisperers, arrives at the temple. She seeks assis­tance to restore the ancient balance and pacify the agitated axolotl spirits. She is unsure of the characters (Reaction).
4 The spectral figures of the axolotl spirits appear from the ether, guiding or misleading travelers through the temple’s corridors.
5 A section of the floor collapses, plunging adventurers into a spiked pit. It deals 3d6 damage (DC 14 DEX for half).
6 The cult performs a sun-worshiping ritual in area 8. It awakes a dormant lesser fire elemental bound to the temple.

1. Entrance in the Desert

Crumbling, sun-bleached stone pillars rise from the sands, half-buried under dunes. A stairway descends into the cool depths under the Shimmering Sands.

  • The Journey. From the nearest settlement, it takes the characters 5 days to traverse the Shimmering Sands and reach this place. Without desert clothing and sup­plies, they fail horribly and die in the merciless desert.

2. Hall of the Dying Sun

In the subterranean chapel, a defaced marble statue stands solemnly, its features scarred. Flickering bra­zier light casts eerie shadows over the wooden pews.

  • Believers. Four cultists (peasants) pray here. The de­luded people attack trespassers with zealous ferocity.
  • The Effigy. What once was a statue of the axolotl de­ities was re-sculpted into the shape of the sun, broken and decrepit; testament to the new faith that lives here.

3. West Barracks

New, low-ranking members of the Children of the Scorch­ing Ray gather here to sleep. The room contains nine double bunk beds and smells of sweat and stagnation.

  • Cultists. At any given time, there are 2d3 peasants and 1d2 cultists here. If the characters are stealthy, they may catch them unaware and perhaps sleeping.
  • Treasure (2 XP). The wooden chests in the room contain 25 gp, 58 sp, and one potion of healing.

4. Kitchen and Larder

The kitchen is well stocked and contains enough food and supplies to feed the cult for two weeks. Low-ranking members do supply runs every couple of days.

  • The Cooks. There are four peasants here working all day long. Two of the cooks, Janna and Arael, have come to regret their association with the Children of the Scorching Ray and may join the characters (Reaction).

5. East Barracks

This area is similar to the western barracks (area 3) but it contains seven double bunk beds. And the locked, wooden doorways to the cult leaders’ quarters.

  • Cultists. At any given time, there are 2d2 peasants and 1d2 cultists here. If the characters are stealthy, they may catch them unaware. There is a 2-in-6 chance that the high priestess (Lv-2 priest) is present.
  • Treasure (1 XP). The wooden chests in the room contain 15 gp, 28 sp, and two flasks of oil.

6. High Priest’s Quarters

Shadowed by flickering torches, the chamber harbors sinister tomes and a cursed altar. Eerie whispers linger in the air, as if the priest were speaking nearby.

The high priest is not present. The barely audible whis­pers are an arcane echo of the many spells studied here.

  • The Tomes. Reviewing the tomes on the desk for 1 crawling round reveals the history of the Children of the Scorching Ray and of their belief that the sun is dying. It is also revealed that the cult blocked passage to some chambers to keep beleaguered spirits away.
  • Treasure (3 XP). The stone shelf contains eight ran­dom priest scrolls of tiers one and two.

7. High Priestess’s Quarters

In the priestess’s lair, a magic circle etches the stone floor, encircled by arcane symbols. Dark tapestries and flickering candles cast an unsettling ambiance.

The priestess’s quarters are rather humble compared to her male counterpart. The high priestess (Lv-2 priest) is here unless she was encountered in area 5.

  • The Circle. The runes spell a binding incantation. Though the work is amateurish and rough (DC 14 INT).

8. Hall of Rituals

The high priest (Lv-4 priest) celebrates a ritual in the company of one cultist and three peasants. Their objec­tive is to drain the axolotl spirit’s life force to bring forth the consumption and eventual death of the sun.

  • The Blockade. The hallway to area 10 is obstructed with debris and boulders. It takes a group of three peo­ple 2 crawling rounds to clear the hallway. Failure by 5 or more causes a random creature to take 1d6 damage.

9. The Secret Vault

Pulling a switch in area 8 causes the wall to swing in­ward and reveal a narrow path to this vault (DC 14 WIS).

  • Treasure (8 XP). The vault contains 350 gp, 1840 sp, two potions of healing, a set of chain mail armor, a crow­bar, two jade bracelets (10 gp each), and four torches.

10. Tomb of Axolotl Warriors

The silent chamber holds eight upright sarcophagi adorned with intricately engraved axolotls. Each en­closure a timeless sentinel of past transgressions.

  • The Enclosures. The remains of ancient Sand Whis­perer warriors devoted to the axolotl spirits are interred here. From the scripts, it appears they were amphibious.

11. Forlorn Effigies

Pulling a switch in areas 8 or 12 causes the wall to swing inward and reveal a narrow path here (DC 14 WIS).

  • The Effigies. This room was never found by the cult­ists. The four statues here remain pristine; they depict strange amphibian creatures with wing-like gills and reptilian features. A priest knows recognizes them as the axolotl spirits, a kind of small, not well known deities.

12. Shrine of the Axolotl Spirits

This mystical shrine is adorned with gilded vases, an ornate sarcophagus, and vivid axolotl mosaics. They radiate ancient magic that speaks of elusive secrets.

The nine axolotl spirits inhabit this chamber. They keep the cultists out of this place, their last refuge. The mag­ical axolotls appear and beg the characters to drive off the Children of the Scorching Ray so that they can once again roam freely in the temple. If antagonized, the nine axolotls fuse and attack (lesser water elemental).

If the characters help remove the cultists, the axolotls are in their debt. The spirits are powerful allies that may one day intercede in the characters’ affairs to aid them. Alas, that is an adventure for another day…

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