Mustafa and the gang rest momentarily to regain their strength and heal their wounds. Once recovered, they found a somewhat regular pathway that their recent foes must have used. They cautiously followed the path westward and came upon a building that was most likely the temple they were looking for. The building was not typical LIzardfolk ruins though, being constructed in a different manner than any of the previous ruins. This building appeared to be made in the style of many human dwellings, with thinner walls of small stones and an apex roof fashioned from what must have been recently gathered and crafted wood materials. Comparing the condition of the stone walls to the roof made it obvious that the Lizardfolk lured into Toula ’Klache’s temple to worship had done some sprucing up.
Mustafa could see that one portion of the wall had collapsed, giving him a possible stealthy entrance to the temple. Mustafa could see that the insides of the temple were also very atypical of LIzardfolk design with wooden beds and walls made of stone and wood. Candles seemed to flicker sporadically at spaced intervals on the walls. Upon closer inspection of the crumbled section of the outer wall, he could see that climbing over the rubble would be potentially very noisy as stones and dirt shifted under them. Especially for Kailey and Jacob, so they all snuck towards the main entrance, which held no door to bar the way. Directly opposite the entryway, down a unusually long niche that seemed to hold nothing else, was a mighty-looking statue dedicated to Toula ‘Klache. It showed a giant, aggressive looking Couatl with two arms sprouting from the torso, just below the statues wings.The figure was holding a war trident and looked to be in the very beginnings of a lunge at whoever was looking at the statue. The wings were furled slightly with feathers that looked like they were more steel or metal than feather. Though, much like all the other altars of the Lizardfolk, Toula ’Klache’s altar was befouled and defiled. Shadowy tendrils snaked around the statues throat and bound it’s wings and arms in ephemeral chains. Mustafa briefly considered trying to break the statue, but thought better of ruining all his stealth up to this point in case there were unfriendly inhabitants to found.
In fact, Mustafa strained his ears and was able to hear the low bass of a voice coming from further inside. Sneaking down a side hall, the group came upon a bend in the hall where a couple more statues stood. These seemed to be looted from human lands as the carvings were of human figures. The statues stood along the outer wall, facing an alcove opposite them. Each figure was holding a large brazier filled with an unusually red fire. Half expecting something horrible to happen, Mustafa passed in front of the statue trying to continue further into the temple. As soon as he stood in the area in front of the first statue, it’s brazier fire shot explosively at him, scorching the ends of his clothes and shoving him into the alcove. Mustafa’s resistant nature saved him from catching fire and his general hardiness kept him from being bashed silly against the alcove wall. Kailey and Jacob raced up to the statue to try and disarm the trap, which was rapidly resetting itself. Mustafa was able to get out from in front of it before it could strike at him again, but soon found himself in the sights of an enemy shadow mage. The trap had alerted whoever was on guard within the temple and now they were trying to kill Mustafa! Kailey and Jacob hastily continued to disarm the trapped statue so they could close the distance with the attacker, but Mustafa beat them to it with some clever seal techniques, containing any fire blast from the statues. By the time he finished implementing the seals, the speaker from earlier with the bass voice had invoked some ritual and summoned wraiths to harrass them while they were confined in the hallway. Meanwhile, the mage who had first attacked cloaked himself in a shadowy aura and stepped in and out of view, taking pot-shots while Mustafa dealt with the wraiths. A second mage tried to flank the group from the opposite hallway, but the situation became tactically untenable, so he retreated.
Soon enough, the group was able to move through the hall and into the next room, which was much larger. Oval in shape, the room had two pools of liquid, one at each side of the room. Mustafa couldn’t tell if the pools were filled with blood or with water and the red firelight was just playing tricks. In the center of the room, a large magic circle sat aglow with dark purple runes. In the center was a black twitching mass of something unknown. At the top of the circle was a mockery of a man. wreathed in a flowing, shadowy cloak, the man’s bones seemed to radiant a sinister light, leaving his thin skin practically translucent. He seemed to be in the process of drawing forth more wraith minions as the shadowy snipers kept the groups attention focused on them. The auras made it very difficult to hit the mages, but with some luck and skill, Mustafa and Jacob were able to bloody one of them, which caused the aura to expand wildly, engulfing them both in the shadows. With the fight much closer to him, the ritual caster plucked a ruby from a portion of the ritual circle and channeled it’s power to attack Mustafa with red lightning from afar. The fight was fairly even for a bit; Mustafa’s foes hitting for not much damage, but inflicting several ailments upon the crew, such as weakness, lethargy, and a persistent corruption that Jacob found difficult to shake of while the Shadow Lord’s minions were able to avoid many of the strong hits Mustafa and the others were slinging at them. Mustafa found himself wrapped in the expanded shadowy aura and beside one of the questionable pools of liquid at one point and tried to use some seals to strike a decisive blow against the pesky mage. The effort of channeling the water was larger than he expected, partly due to the complexity of the maneuver he was trying to perform, partly because the liquid was not water as he had assumed. Mustafa used the liquid in an attack that trapped and crushed the mage in a swath of ice crystals. With the mage dead, the aura faded and all could see the glacier made of blood Mustafa had created. From the peripheral of his vision, Mustafa could swear he saw reflections of Lizardfolk being tortured and ritualistically murdered in the facets of the icy mass. Reflections that disappeared if he turned to look at them, but he was sure of what he’d seen.
Only the warlock and a single mage remained. Mustafa empowered his boots with the element of wind and covered the distance to the warlock in a flash, catching the evil caster by surprise. With a righteous thrust, Mustafa impaled the warlock and planted several seals on him that activated when the massive blade was withdrawn. A pillar of celestial light blew through the roof from the sky and burned the warlock to ashes. The last mage tried to escape, but Mustafa gave chase and knocked one of the trapped statue’s brazier into the mages path. The disrupted magical trap went haywire and blasted the fleeing mage back into the clutches of Mustafa. Trying to escape once again, Mustafa deftly took advantage of the mage’s lowered guard and sheared through him with one radiant slash, ending the fight. In the aftermath, the group found that the warlock had owned 3 gems with magic abilities. Two could be used as weapon crystals and the third as an armor crystal.
Thinking of the Couatl statues in the previous temples and how the Shadow Lord corrupted the deity’s influence by corrupting a physical representation of them, Mustafa began preparations to cleanse the statue of Toula ’Klache. Though his first attempt failed, Kailey and Jacob offered to help with the second. Just as he was about to enact the cleansing seals, Kailey reminded him that the Couatl goddess of war was not a good goddess. Nor would she be in any mood to be diplomatic should her statue be cleansed and she manifested as the other LIzardfolk Gods had done after the cleansing. Mustafa saw wisdom in her words and decided to explore the temple more fully before dealing with the defiled statue.