Draken, who could see just fine in the nearly-dark temple, entered first, with the others close behind. Rain began to fall through the collapsed ceiling, turning the air sticky, and making walking difficult; the wet vegetation that covered everything slowed their movement by half (Gydion and Silaqui, however, were unaffected, due to their Woodland Stride ability).
Piles of shingles littered the floor. They passed rows of moss-covered, giant-sized pews, and saw two sets of stairways along the western wall. One led up to an empty platform, and the other led to a weathered statue of a stern-looking fire giant. A closed door was set into the eastern wall at the bottom of a wide set of stairs leading to a dais with a large, round brazier and an altar. Dravis and Silaqui stealthily climbed the stairs to reconnoitter and found decaying bones poking up through the thick layer of moss surrounding the altar. Nothing else seemed amiss, however, so they called out to Gydion and Draken, who soon joined them.
Gydion cast Detect Magic and learned that the large (10-foot high) brazier was surronded by an aura of evocation magic. Draken walked to the door in the eastern wall and put his ear against it. Silaqui climbed back down the stairs and perched herself atop one of the pews, commanding a clear view of the entire temple. Dravis, meanwhile, snuck around the back of the altar, laying down shingles to walk on so as not to disturb the bones.
Just then, the vines behind the altar became animated, and giant-sized leaves sprang out of nowhere, closing around Dravis, who cried out in alarm. The others turned and saw him struggling within a Giant Flytrap, which had lifted him into the air. Before Gydion, Draken and Silaqui could react, however, each was attacked by a large, writhing heap of vegetation—Shambling Mounds! Against the verdant, lush background vegetation, the temple’s vegetable guardians had easily surprised them.
Gydion found himself grappled by his leafy opponent, and spent the next couple of rounds struggling to free himself, assisted by his fierce lion companion, Kingsley. Eventually freeing himself, he rained a Flame Strike upon the Shambling Mound that had attacked him. Next, the Druid pulled out his +2 Flaming magic scimitar, and sliced some of its branches off. Much to his frustration, however, he discovered that fire has little effect on Shambling Mounds, because of their DR 10 against fire. Kingsley had more success defending against it with tooth and claw, and eventually turning the monster into a lifeless haystack.
Trapped as he was in the corner by the eastern doorway, Draken was repeatedly grappled by his Shambling Mound, but escaped each time thanks to his Freedom of Movement cleric domain ability. The dwarf spent the next few rounds slamming his Shambling Mound adversary with Agrimmosh until it finally collapsed into a motionless heap.
Silaqui, atop one of the 10-foot giant, stone pews, was slammed by a tendril from a Shambling Mound on the floor; jumping out of the way, the elf narrowly escaped being grappled. Leaping off the pew, she cast Entangle at her opponent, but it was undeterred. Desperate to escape its reaach, she next imbibed a Gaseous Form, and spent the next few rounds moving away from it, and her Entangle spell. Gydion attempted to help her with a Call Lightning spell, but stopped after realizing the lightning was making the monster grow stronger.
Meanwhile, behind the altar, Dravis was struggling to stay conscious. Dravis’ player had already used a “zombie” token to escape one of the Flytrap’s leaves, only to be be engulfed by another, and was now unable to move or even breathe. And, on top of that, the plant was slowly digesting him! So Gydion’s player decided to spend one of his “zombie” tokens and then—moved to action by Druidic intuition—Gydion cast Cure Serious Wounds on the fighter-rogue through the trap, healing him and rousing him to consciousness. Then, Gydion’s player used a second “zombie” to allow Kingsley to dramatically grab the trap’s long petiole in his strong jaws and shake Dravis free. At the same time, Draken bludgeoned the Flytrap with his magic hammer while Silaqui fired arrows at it from the pews [unfortunately, because she was out of range, her arrows didn’t do as much damage as usual]. Not far away, the Shambling Mound that had attacked Silaqui was deliquescing into a puddle, for some unexplained reason.
The next round, the giant Flytrap exacted revenge upon the lion, using another of its many traps to tear into his flesh, followed by a grapple. Already severely wounded by his encounter with the Shambling Mounds, Kingsley fell unconsious. Luckily for him, however, he was too big to be engulfed in the trap, so he didn’t suffer the same damage that Dravis did. In the following rounds, the Flytrap attacked both Draken and Dravis with its snapping traps, but in the end, the heroes prevailed. Over and over, Agrimmosh smashed into the monster’s trunk, while Silaqui splintered it with arrows. Gydion finally finished off the Flytrap with a strike from Call Lightning, reducing it to pink dust.
Healing was doled out, and the Giantslayers finished exploring the temple. Gydion found a Sapling Rod mixed among the bones around the altar. Dravis discovered a secret door in the north wall. Meanwhile, the door on the eastern wall led into a dark, flooded, moldy chamber. Steering clear of the wet, mucky floor, Silaqui climbed the walls via a potion of Spider Climb and discovered a pile of six spherical, 2-foot wide/1000 lb stones in the corner. Draken then entered the room and found a giant-sized Bag of Holding locked inside a stone coffer that was sunken into the muck in the middle of the room. Buffed with a Bull’s Strength from Gydion, Draken (assisted by Dravis) rolled one of the stones out of the room and split it open. Hidden inside was a mass of small, radiant, orange crystals, which Silaqui ascertained were glowing with the magic of a Delayed Fireball spell! Dravis yelled for everyone to scatter, and after 5 rounds, the crystals ignited a 20-foot-radius fireball, flooding the temple with light and heat! Luckily, by that point, the party had hidden themselves safely behind the stone pews.
After multiple attempts, Dravis finally managed to open the secret door, revealing a narrow passage. At the far end of the passage lay three large (c. 2 feet in diameter and 750 lbs), spherical stones with a rough-textured black surface on the floor. The party scooped two of these into their giant-sized Bag of Holding, together with two of the Delayed Blast Fireball stones. It was decided that Draken, who possessed the highest Strength score, would carry the Bag.
It was getting late, and progressively wetter, so Gydion erected Warped Wood Manor upon the dais, where the party enjoyed a well-deserved, peaceful night’s rest.
Next: Into the Heart of Minderhal’s Valley