- Finally reaching the centre of the maze the Rats find a temple hewn into the stone. They pass through its columned doorway to find an even older looking interior, walls decorated with faded and flaking painted murals. The find a carved seal on the ground, and Sim explains that passing over the seal will begin a trial that aspirants and initiates of the Cult of Delios were called upon to take as they sought an audience with the Oracle. With some trepidation they pass over, and find themselves suddenly transported to some other long gallery within the temple – their retreat closed off.
- As they move along the gallery, the murals show common themes – all show the stars, and all feature a lone figure with curling horns standing in motionless observation. They come across a second seal, and a tracery of glowing glyphs trail up from it, framing a riddle. Answering the riddle, the group is allowed to pass and they are transported to the next testing gallery.
- The Rats blink from chamber to chamber, each with a more difficult riddle relating to some aspect of astronomy or mathematics. Growing cocky, they get Shackle to answer a riddle, and when he answers flippantly the glyphs burst in a flash of searing light, that leaves the nerves burning in remembered pain. They gather themselves together and get back to the task. Eventually they pass the final test to pass through to the Sanctum of the Manifest, the heart of the temple, the tomb of proud Delios.
- Fulfilling their avaricious fantasies, they find the Sanctum has valuable looking antiques lining the walls – ancient scrolls and codexes, painted urns, decorative lanterns long-cold, unpleasantly suggestive little abstract cast figures, and many other relics of the Delios’ cult. In the centre of the chamber is a ritual circle of crawling ember-red runes that shimmer with a dim red light, lending a sickly, organic sheen to everything. As they start to move into the room there is a peculiar moment of vertigo, and an enormous spectral dog appears suddenly in the circle, eyeing them hungrily. Sim cries out hoarsely “The Hound! The Hound of Delios!”
- Shackle takes a pre-emptive approach to possible attacks, and steps forward to swing his hammer. The creature disappears before the blow lands, and an eerie howling sound springs up, seeming to echo in from across an immeasurable gulf. Sim clutches at Shackle’s arm and shrieks “You fool! You’ve doomed us all!” Shackle grunts and shrugs him off, readying his hammer. Three mirrored images of the Hound appear, shrouded in shimmering spatial anomolies. Moving as one the glowing dogs bound to the attack, phasing in and out and flickering across the chamber unpredictably, leaving bursts of light in their wake. The Rats fight them grimly – fending them off until finally the dogs are sent screeching back from whence they came, glimpses of some more alien shape visible as their physical bodies are broken. As the Hound is banished, the doorway to the final passage in the temple opens and an imposing robed figure strides solemnly into view. After some fleeting doubts, the Rats are convinced that the figure is Delios himself.
A wrinkle in time.
There passes a strange conversation with the Oracle, who answers questions for a terrible price… Jumbled memories of passage down a twisting corridor that becomes progressively more and more ancient – fading classical murals giving way to crude earth-toned paintings of animals and men, of hunts and fires and dances, and still featuring the horned figure at each point. At the very end of the corridor is a natural hollow in the rock, in a crude niche chopped into the stone sits a heavy scroll-case – Sim’s hands shake as he retrieves the ancient thing …after they talk, Delios says he will leave, that they may keep the treasures of the Sanctum to aid them in the coming times of trouble. With a sensation like the cessation of a half-heard sound, Delios is suddenly gone.
- Left dazed by Delios departure, the Rats recover quickly with the opportunity to explore the Sanctum to snap them back to reality. As they set to, the memory of Oracle’s words fade in the manner of a difficult dream.
- They gather a range of peculiar objects they think could be saleable – from statuettes to ritual paraphernalia to inlaid lanterns (still filled with some waxy oils). Sim clutches the Kythan Boustrophedon to his chest, loading his packs with as many scrolls and documents of the Cult of Delios as he can carry (Nick pilfers a few himself). Tess finds three lead-sealed jars filled with clay and, digging some out, she discovers that after the clay is shaped it comes alive. Her little clay figure eats the finger of one of her gloves, and she drops it in her purse to play with later. Nick finds a bronze chime that seems (dizzyingly) to warp time when struck. Hargraine finds an old censer, corroded but beautifully ornate, and with a crystalline residue of some unfamiliar resin inside it. Shackle finds a pair of enormous gauntlets, carved from some dark metallic ore – and jokes that they would suit Tess. Weighed down with as much as they can manage, they leave the Sanctum as swiftly as they can – hoping to leave the catacombs before more trouble comes their way.
- A sinking feeling sets in when the Rats reach the end of the secret annexe, and come back to the catacombs proper. Echoing through the corridors they can hear the sound of many of the singing runes forming an eerie sustained chord, and hinting at the presence of many more undead – a quick exit is called for.
- Moving as quietly as possible and as quickly as they dare, the Rats trace a path through the catacombs. At points they distract the hungry dead with a simple cantrip cast on thrown sunrods – but even when they are so easily distracted, the howling of the ferocious zombies inspires some little tension.
- As they pick up their speed in the approach to the final exit they are spotted by one of the undead who, though easily dispatched, sets off a call that is echoed from all around. The Rats charge down the corridor to the exit, and find the way blocked – the gate they’d come through locked and barred comprehensively from the outside. With little other choice, they turn to fight for their skins.