Sands of Oblivion
Aergus, 17 Azaroren 3464
A most amazing find! It turns out that the Vashern cultists excavated an ancient ziggurat consisting of two floors in the Ruins of Aqabah to use as their base of operations in this area. Through stealth and the strength of my companions, we managed to subdue the guards at the entrance. Once inside the walls, a large courtyard was revealed. It was filled with several statues, some of which were still intact. This area was occupied by more cultist guards but after we managed to dispatch them, I was able to examine the statues more thoroughly and make a few sketches as well. As far as I can tell, they appear to be depictions of priests who may have led this temple in the past. I did not have as much time would have liked to examine these things due to the urgency of our quest and the need to strike fast before our presence was noted. We quickly continued inside.
My companions marched through the bottom floor with ruthless efficiency, putting an end to anything in their path as our search for the sheikh’s dowry continued. The most notable area on the ground floor was an area devoted to dressing bodies for burial. There were several preparation tables and a giant vat that contained remnants of wax which I can only assume was used in their process as a preservation agent of some sort. I quickly made mental notes of what I could as we made our way towards the second floor.
We were in for a surprise as we encountered a group of cultists running down the stairs screaming in fear. In their search for relics, they had inadvertently released a scourge of flesh-eating scarabs! Left with no other option, we stood our ground and managed to crush the horde of insects although it cost several of us chunks of our hides to do so. The second floor proved to be a maze of corridors riddled with traps and dead-ends. For some reason, I have been having visions of the past from when the temple was new. I saw the courtyard as it once was and then before we triggered one of the concealed traps I had another vision of an artisan concealing the disabling mechanism for the trap. When I searched the area that I had seen in my vision, it did indeed contain a way to disable the trap in front of us. I am not sure what these visions mean and I can only assume that perhaps they are tied into the research I was doing in these ruins before. Hopefully the bookseller will be able to provide me insight upon our return to Bashala.
After several wrong turns, we finally made our way into the center of the second floor. There we found a Vashern priestess in the middle of casting a ritual to summon a water demon from an ancient fountain located in the center of the room. Apparently the stallions were meant to be a sacrifice to help complete the ritual. Fortunately, we intervened in time and prevented the summoning from occurring. According to a note we found on the body of the priestess, this magical fountain never runs dry and provides the water for the city of Bashala. We have unintentionally killed two birds with one stone by ending the drought as well.
A ramp out the back of the ziggurat led to a plateau behind the complex. Even though day was breaking, we decided to get back to the city as quickly as possible. We returned to our horses where we had left them near the entrance and made haste to the sheikh’s residence with his prize stallions in tow. We were doubly rewarded with gold and horses for solving the water shortages as well as retrieving his daughter’s dowry. Hopefully now I will be able to devote time to researching my discoveries from the ritual chamber. With proper translations and more information from our trip to the ziggurat, I hope to come across a breakthrough soon.