Crusader? I Hardly Know 'Er!
And now, an update from the bard
To Imad ad-din al-Isfahani, Most Honorable bastion of the Brotherhood Without Borders, protector of the weak and oppressed, learned of the hidden ways, and all that rot:
Let it be known that in the days since accepting the assignment of monitoring the Ongepotchket, much has been made clear. To wit:
1. They are highly skilled and possess occasionally surprising talents, not the least of which is their ability to continually survive. Since entering the temple ruins, we’ve faced a great many foes and yet they have all been demolished with little difficulty and (aside from the ass of the human mercenary Yevgeny), little of their own blood spilled.
2. The gnome wizard is very handsy.
3. Despite initial confusion, the druid did not attempt to slay a defenseless old woman as she lay helpless before him. Whether they may attempt to slay other defenseless old women is yet to be seen but at least on this occasion they acted honorably, risking their own lives to save that of another. Regretably, the other in this case turned out to be a hag but their efforts should still be noted.
4. The temple is fascinating. It’s clearly ancient, of possibly Philistine construction and dedicated to one of the lost Old Gods. If that is the case, these walls have stood for over a thousand years. It has two levels, the first of which is crumbling, left open in places and nearly overtaken by the sands. Its walls and columns are covered by mosiacs and that display surprisingly familiar scenes. A recurring motif details encounters with what appear to be members of the Hebrew tribes. The center of the upper level is a ruin: a series of columns collapsed in on itself as if pulled down by the grasp of a god.
There was even an inscription indicating that, at one long lost point, the Ark rested here! Lending credence to this claim, a golem stood guard over that place. Regrettably, it had to be destroyed with a horn of blasting. (Of some concern, the horn is held by the human mercenary traveling with us. It’s not that I don’t trust him with an ancient relic of great power that appears to be unstable, thus risking explosion on each use and potentially vast harm to both its weilder and those around him, it’s just that I don’t trust him in general. Also, I want that horn.)
5. We discovered something of considerable interest: a scroll dated 983 listing the locations of the dwarvish strongholds including ABUL KHAZ. It states Abul Khaz is the Jewel of Nubia, center of learning, and light of Africa. Nubia!
(There is also a line about woe to those who oppose us, wael to those who befriend us, may you crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women – the usual Dwarvish claptrap.)
It is an enthralling discovery. I could spend weeks examining the ruins and discover still more each day. It would be a highly tempting prospect were it not for the surprising volume of dark creatures dwelling here. The temple seems to attract them. There’s a foul miasma permiating the grounds. It was noticable on the upper level but impossible to ignore on the lower. The lower level is dank and smells of rot (despite anything here having rotted away long ago), of old standing water permeating stone, despite the desert sun above. As you know, this area is not known for oasises. It is not even known for the standing acidic pools the Bedouin direct foolish Christians towards when they get pissed off. And yet the damp, moist air remains.
That is where we are now, resting before pressing onward past a curiously locked door. It’s safe enough for the moment – we’ve slaughtered just about everything residing in the temple save for whatever awaits us in the locked chamber. I will inform you of our findings tomorrow, assuming, of course, that we survive.
Yours in honor and brotherhood,