Temple of Elemental Evil

A Challenge Untaken

A Narrative from Sigil's POV

They searched the man’s body with excitement. From his skill and appearance it was clear that he had held a position of importance in the Temple, likely an officer or man-at-arms, and a cursory inventory of his trappings revealed a few valuable enchanted items. Like his companions, Sigil was interested to see what their victory had gained them, but in the back of his mind he was starting to wonder if they had earned it. As Thane and Tobias attempted to identify the magical properties of the man’s possessions, and MyRo argued about shares, Sigil reflected on the battle, trying to understand the hollow feeling that came upon him in the aftermath.

The Heroes of Kassen had spent the last day scouring the second level of the Temple. Their first encounter hadn’t gone nearly as well – as MyRo and Sigil scouted a secret passage, Reginald had fallen right into a trap set by bugbears and air elementals flew in to assault Thane. Tobias had driven back the initial ambush with a web spell and barrage of magic missiles, but when he moved to firebomb the retreating bugbears found a second ambush waiting that shot him full of crossbow bolts. MyRo and Sigil rejoined the group and drove off one elemental as Reginald finally pulled himself from the pit. Together the group rushed to rescue the wizard and press the attack only to find a third ambush waiting as more bugbears dropped behind them from alcoves hidden in the high walls above. Undaunted, the group held their ground and continued their assault, slowly cutting through bugbear and gnoll towards a cleric directing them from the rear ranks. As the last gnoll fell before him the man cast a spell of darkness and escaped through secret passages, leaving the Heroes to stumble around in the dark and fight off his non-human guards. Though the group prevailed, it was a hard-won and muddled victory.

After resting, the Heroes had searched the area, found the cleric’s chambers and a magical ward that protected a depressingly meager treasure. Moving on, they passed through a large hall and into a set of chambers beyond that bore the signs of recent habitation. Sensing an enemy was close they prepared a couple spells and charged on, almost immediately coming across another group of defenders.

Tobias had easily defeated a dozen guards gathered in one chamber with a well-placed fireball, but their leader had chosen a more defensive position for himself just beyond a wedged door that prevented flanking tactics and granted some cover from destructive magic. From there he could bring his two-handed sword to bear with single purpose, and it was soon evident that he had great prowess with the weapon. The first slash sent MyRo into a hasty retreat with a bloody wound, and when Reginald stepped up to bravely fight the man toe-to-toe he lost first his shield then his footing from a furious barrage of swings. As Sigil dragged Reginald from the door, the swordsman pressed his advantage by springing through and slashing Thane, who had been forced to stay close in the cramped quarters in order to bring his healing magic to bear. Memories of Thane’s previous defeat by the assassin in Homlett flashed through Sigil’s head – he still blamed himself for not being able to stop it. Charging in, he shot under the man’s reach and wrapped him up in a grapple. A little surprised at how easy the maneuver succeeded and unsure if he could maintain it, Sigil called out for his companions and almost instantly MyRo was at his side with the short frost-covered blade Kalagar in hand. The man struggled, but seemed to have little experience in unarmed combat and could not escape. A few quick jabs from the half-elf and he went limp, his life bleeding out over Sigil’s robe and dripping to the ground.

It had taken some time for the exhilaration of the fight to wane, but as it did Sigil’s feelings about it followed suit. He should have called off MyRo. He should have faced the challenge alone. He should have subdued the swordsman, not restrained him so another could put steel in his heart.

Now, as he looked upon the nameless corpse, he couldn’t help but think of another man whom he had encountered not so long ago on a dirt road in Homlett. Sigil hadn’t known that man’s name either when he called out a challenge, although he recognized him as the local wainwright, and was later informed his name was Finnan. Bolstered with liquid courage, Finnan had confronted Sigil over woman trader Charmaine. He claimed that she loved him, that Sigil was controlling and preventing her from being with him, and believed that defeating Sigil in a fight would win her over. It took him about a dozen wild punches before realizing he was outmatched. Sigil could have put him in the dust, but he realized instantly that the man posed little threat and no challenge to his own skill, so he had assumed a defensive stance to let him swing his fists until the fire in him burned out. Then he took the poor fool to Char to set matters straight. Though in hindsight, Sigil wondered if perhaps the matter had not been settled.

Char was a handsome intelligent woman, but she was also intimidating. She had pursued Sigil since the night they had freed her from a cell in the Temple and wanted things from him that he was afraid to give. Things that Finnan seemed more than eager to supply and Char hadn’t quite refused.

With a frown, Sigil pondered his predicament as MyRo fingered the nameless swordsman’s fine cloak. He was likely calculating the odds of giving Romjin the cloak in exchange for her skirts. Sigil had never given Char gifts to buy her affection and wondered if Finnan might have done so. Though he wasn’t quite sure he’d heard her words correctly, had Char called Finnan her honeybear?

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