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The Prison of Niosha
This fortress was the center of power for a vampire cult dedicated to the fallen goddess called Niosha, who was cast from the heavens for her predilections upon other young gods. Entrapped nearby is the remnant of one of her deity lovers who also fell from grace, Ravadin, set to guard the tomb. Since the arrival of Madrasheen, a powerful devotee of Niosha, the power of Ravadin has diminished even further to barely a whisper.
This dungeon setting was adventured within several times during the Virtue, Sin, Love campaign, claiming the lives of cohorts,
a few powerful NPCs and several times nearly those of the heroes themselves. Madrasheen and her lieutenants were recurring villains who
frequently and brutally warred against the heroes of the Four Pillars after one of Niosha's other strongholds in the city of
Hana was opened and destroyed.
Accessing the Prison of Niosha
The Prison of Niosha is located on the Isle of Sepras, a religious center of corruption and supernatural influence within the city of
Hana. Locals say that a thousand gods make home on the Isle of Sepras, and in its nearby
waters as well which are littered with submerged ruins that have been taken beneath the waves as the island continues its millennial long
process of sinking.
The Temple of Nalambari
Peaceful priests who worship Nalambari, She Who Wears Blue, occupy the small temple near the top of the hill. A low clay brick wall is covered with flowering vines and surrounds the small, grassy temple grounds. A small tower, two stories tall and topped by a lengthy, rusty lightning rod, is located within the walled premises.
If it is daytime, several priests of Nalambari are here, laying on the grass and staring into the sky as an act of prayer. Nalambari is a goddess
of the sky, seasons, and great expanses. Scholarly PCs might assume that she is an aspect of Chishleen. The priests are friendly, very relaxed, and entirely unaware of the
vampire cult that dwells in the earth, eighty feet below their peaceful temple. A small well with a grated cover and a rusty lock is in one corner of
the grassy lot. A half-buried pail filled with dirt and growing grass is nearby.
Area 1, Sitting Room
A small 10x15 foot room decorated sparsely with an ancient, wooden oval table flanked by two chairs, and a dilapidated bookcase bearing a few ancient scrolls. A beaten wood door"
Searching the room (DC 23) reveals that the table can be depressed; two of its legs show wear near their bottom. Pressing on one end of the table causes the bookcase to slide aside and reveal secret door.
The secret door is decorated with a painting of two naked goddesses, one with the lower half of a snake seducing the other and biting into her neck. Blood spills from the vulnerable goddess's neck. The protagonist (DC 20, religion: Niosha, blood goddess who was cast from heaven for seducing and drinking the blood of the younger gods) animates, turning its two-dimensional face and speaks, 'You mortals who trespass here, spill your gift to the virgin goddess.'
If a character sheds blood onto the floor the painting smiles and speaks, "Enter, fragile, mortal coil, the blood-goddess awaits you," and the panel slides aside. Violating the panel in anyway causes the protagonist to snarl and the victim to begin a loud, keening wail which it persists at until the door is completely destroyed. Violating the door without appeasing the panel activates the Symbol of Death in Area 2.
Area 2, Entry Hall
A 10'x20' chamber on whose walls are painted beautiful and deadly looking women, dressed in priestly robes and bearing golden platters, upon each of which rests a severed head. On the floor is painted another fresco of Niosha, also holding a golden plate with strange symbols inscribed upon it.
A symbol of death (Fort. DC 22) decorates the floor; it is active if the entry was violated. On command the heads from the platters animate and become advanced Vargoilles.
Area 3, The Well
This octagonal room is flanked with twelve pillars and features a beautiful statue of Niosha at its far end. Her eyes glitter with rubies and her body is carved from black granite veined with some red stone so that it looks like blood runs down her beautiful body. In one hand she holds a curving obsidian dagger and the other is held in some kind of benediction. Her mouth is partly open with a coy smile on its lips.
The ruby eyes of the statue are worth 4,000 gp each. The entire statue is worth 15,000gp. If the party has made a lot of noise then the sound of stone scratching upon stone comes from all sides of this room as the hidden undead yearn to be free.
Area 4, Entrance to the Temple Guardian Halls
A bare chamber, whose floor is caked with dried blood. A heavy iron door, locked, bars exit. The walls burn with cold, dark red flames and a pale fleshed guardian dressed in dingy chain mail, as it turns to face you, you observe its fingers have been grotesquely lengthened into slashing blades of bone. It shivers in anticipation and in its eyes is a clear murderous look of hunger. "It has been so long," are the only words it utters as it charges to attack.
Thang: Male ogre vampire-spawn; CR 8; Large undead (augmented giant); HD 8d12+6; hp 74; Init +5; Spd 30 ft. (6 squares); AC 27, touch 11, fl at-footed 26; Base Atk+7; Grp +16; Atk or Full Atk +16 melee (2d6+14, claws plus energy drain; SA blood drain, dominate (DC 14), energy drain; SQ damage reduction 5/silver and magic, darkvision 60 ft., fast healing 2, gaseous form, low-light vision, resistance to cold 10 and electricity 10, spider climb, +8 turn resistance, undead traits; AL CE; SV Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +3; Str 27, Dex 12, Con -, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 12.
Area 5, Pit of the Fallen
This room has a crude, deep pit filled with writhing body parts. The stench is terrible (Fort DC 14 negates; nauseated). All of the parts have been drained of their blood, now they are bloodless, gray, and rotted, animated by the constant foul powers of undeath that permeate this place. In the center of the room a stone pillar rises from the pit floor, covered with highly decorated lettering in Hanoi which describes this to be the Pit of the Fallen, where the remains of devoured gods writhe in torment. A chain bridge joined each exit of the room to this central pillar.
Treat as a swarm (3d6 damage, Fort DC 18 or be sickened) for characters falling in.
Area 6, Lair of Thang
The room holds a meager wooden table, a chair, a crude straw pallet, and the floor is littered with large bones which look to have been gnawed upon.
This is the private chamber of Thang, where it keeps its valuables 0 435gp, three alexandrine gems each worth 200gp, a large steel shield, and a potion of inflict serious wounds.
Area 7, Temple of Ravadin
The walls of this chamber are decorated with bone, over which has been stretched the skin of other creatures. Before the alter is a black pool of oily liquid with celestial symbols surrounding it that look worn with age and crusted with the blood of many sacrifices. One can sense a faint presence in the room. On the altar, in celestial, is written, "'Lost to the heavens, Ravadin, whose hunger for flesh sealed his fate. Call not upon him, children.' Atop the altar is a strange crystal with an odd, rounded shape.
This is a small temple to Ravadin, the first consort of Niosha, who succumbed to her hungers and lingered for a time as her champion until slain by the gods when Niosha was cast from the heavens. Ravadin was a deity who exalted in the torments of the flesh. All that remains of Ravadin is strange, lumpy and black crystal-like stone, its ">heart.
Area 8, First Guardian Hall
The plastered walls of this room are stained with blood, partially obscuring frescos of mortals in torment. Otherwise, the room is empty.
There are two traps in this room, one at either end. Entering the trapped areas triggers these traps.
Area 9, Second Guardian Hall
This hallway is like the previous, ten feet wide and twenty feet long. It has plastered walls decorated with paintings of beautiful vampire women enslaving male thralls.
The sounds of traps going off in area 8 alert the guardians of this chamber, four vampire spawn (War 2). Two of these creatures attempt to set up an ambush by dropping from the ceiling onto the first opponents who enter the room. The other two spring from hiding from the secret doors leading to their crypts. The crypts behind the secret doors contain: 570gp, 3 black opals worth 1,000gp apiece, a gold-plated goblet (320gp). One of the spawn wears a ring of protection +1. A silver key is hidden beneath the pillow of one of the coffins, this opens the door in area 10.
Area 10, Entrance to the Lower Halls
This chamber is bare but for an archway of twisting bodies, male and female. All of the females are vampires, while the males seem lost in ecstasy. They drip a steady rain of blood which seems to endlessly flow down the stairs. At the base of the steep stairway is a heavy steel door with the symbol of Niosha upon it and a strange magical symbol.
This is nothing more than an illusion, however, any passing through here trigger a silent alarm spell which alerts the priestess on the below level. The stairs descend downwards to level 3. If the alarm spell is not triggered then this can be a safe place to rest since the vampires and their spawn below do not pass this way but use their gaseous forms to exit from their lair via tiny ventilation holes found elsewhere in the complex.
Area 11, Narthex
A small antechamber with three obelisks in its center. In three different languages (Celestial, Ivorian, Thendaran) these stones tell the story of Niosha. Two of them are broken, but all three are scratched so that the text is difficult to read. On the middle one is chiseled in Hanoi, 'LIARS, BETRAYERS, AND BLASPHEMERS. YOU CONDEMNED OUR BEAUTIFUL GODDESS TO DUST.'
Niosha entered the heavens from without. Beautiful, different, exotic, and worldly in the ways of gods she briefly enjoyed a time as one of the favorites of the young gods. She enjoyed many consorts, but it was the deity called Ravadin, the Creator, also called the Flesh Shaper, who alone could be said to have seduced the seducer. The writing hints at dark delights of divine pleasure that Ravadin taught to Niosha and how, in time, she came to master Ravadin's arts as well. It tells of how she would take other lovers only to spur Ravadin's jealousy. Ravadin was furious at the liaisons that Niosha would engage in. She flaunted her other lovers before him, mocking him and exalting in the power she had over other gods. Her servants likewise pursued lustful and reckless relationships with early mortals. Her deprecations upon the other gods included drinking of their essence in return for the pleasures she gave, and so she grew in power.
Area 12, Center Hall
This large chamber has a larger-than-life statue of Niosha. This one has four hands. Of the lower two, one holds the hair of a handsome winged creature that seems to be offering something up with its hands, but she holds its head back and in the other hand holds a curving dagger. Her top two hands stretch out beseechingly, alluring, almost as if caught in the moment of some seductive dance maneuver. Her face is also beautifully shaped, but it is a mystery whether the expression on her face is coyly seductive or vengefully exultant. Half a dozen coffins have been arranged on the floor; they are obviously not originally part of the room. One of them lays open and empty. A thin red mist drifts about the chamber, obscuring the ground surrounding the statue and the coffins.
Surrounding the statue is a 20' deep pit of fang-shaped spikes. At the bottom of this pit are four vented shafts (Spot DC 20 or 15 if in the pit), each 20' long, which go down to Area 20. The red mists are two crimson deaths. They immediately attack, picking up victims and dumping them into the pit where they can be easily be finished off. Each of the coffins contain a chain-bound man, each a handsome specimen. The priestesses of Niosha are turning these men into vampire spawn. Two of them have already turned. They pretend to be friendly and then attack as soon as they are freed.
Area 13, Departures Chamber
This is a small chamber, perhaps 20 feet on a side. The walls have been draped with red tapestries. Faded concubines are shown reclining as though the observer floated above them and they were laid upon a bed of red cloth. In the center of the room is a tracery of fine gray lines on the floor which softly glow in the dim light.
The design on the floor in the center of the room is a variation of the teleport circle. Niosha's priestesses, all vampires, who have shared the blood of Niosha, are able to use this circle to transport themselves to stand on top of the fresco of Niosha in room 2 on the first level. This effect bypasses the forbiddance, but only for those who have tasted the blood of Niosha.
Area 14, Preparation Chamber
A small room with a bench and a clothes hanger with a dozen or more dark-crimson robes. Old red, velvet curtains hang from each of the four walls. On a table within a glass box is a beautiful opal decorated, red leather pummeled, curved obsidian dagger. Beside the box is a stone holy symbol of Niosha on a silver chain. Next to the door is a small pedestal, about the size of a bird bath, whose basin is filled with fresh blood. A second door exits from the direction you entered, to the other side of the basin.
The dagger is a +4 keen dagger of wounding. The basin has been desecrated, but its true magic is that it renews its contents once each day. A vampire drinking from the basin is healed of 4d8+15 points of damage.
Area 15, Chapel
This room could be the stone benched chapel of any god, except for the statue of Niosha that stands in a crook at the back of the room. The altar is stained red from the offerings of many innocents whose blood has been sacrificed to Niosha. Red lighting flickers from behind faux stained glass windows.
The blood of mortals is weak compared to that of the gods; it will take millennia to arouse Niosha from her slumber. The statue has a hidden secret (DC 25); its mouth provides a hidden tunnel that a vampire in gaseous form could use to travel down to a hidden chamber (see Area 21). This chamber is used to commune with the vestige of their goddess.
Area 16, Mephos's Private Chamber
The door to this chamber is warded with an alarm which arouses Mephos and arcane lock.
A massive coffin, fit for a giant of a man, rests atop a broad stone platform at the right hand side of this chamber. To the left is an oversized table with a dozen candles flickering brightly. A scroll is on the desk, held open by four stones, its contents drawn in blood and eldritch. Beside it is a small censer which holds a small quantity of smoldering ashes. In the center of the back wall is a sturdy looking sea-chest whose fastenings are styled like sea-horses. There is a scent of pine trees in the air, mingled with incense.
Mephos is a long time ally of Madrasheen. Having turned her mate into a vampire-spawn and sworn allegiance to Madrasheen, Mephos has contentedly gathered a significant amount of power. While Shemmel may be individually more powerful, Mephos has accumulated a large number of spawn and quietly acquired a number of magic items which can tremendously aid her in battle. Mephos believes that she will inherit Madrasheen's once Madrasheen successfully summons and possesses the avatar of Niosha. It hasn't happened yet, but Mephos is quite patient and cunning.
Area 17, Shemmel's Private Chamber
This chamber is warded with an alarm and a greater glyph of warding (10d8 force damage, Reflex DC 21).
This tidy chamber is about 20' by 30' wide. A beautiful cherry-wood desk sits in the middle of the room; a set of carving tools are neatly arranged upon it next to the large skull of a humanoid. To the left are two large bookcases whose shelves are filled with exotic, polished skulls, each different from the next. The right side of the room is dominated by a large mausoleum of pale marble with carvings of kings and princes offering crowns and wealth to a stoic woman who sits upon a throne. Just beyond the mausoleum is a small wooden door. Two gargoyles perch atop the mausoleum it, oversized for even the size of the structure; they abruptly animate and lunge to attack.
Advanced Gargoyles: CE Medium Monstrous Humanoid (Earth). CR 6; HD 8; HP 69; Init +2; Spd 40ft.; AC 18; Base/Grapple +8/+10; Attack 2 claws +12 melee/19-20 (1d4+4) and bite +10 melee (1d6+2) and gore +10 melee (1d6+2); Space/Reach: 5ft./5ft.; SA --; SQ: DR 10/magic, darkvision 60 ft., freeze; Fort +7 Ref +9 Will +3; Str 18 Dex 14 Con 18 Int 6 Wis 11 Cha 7; Hide +11, Listen +8, Spot +8, Multiattack, Toughness, Improved Critical (claw)
Area 18, Shemmel's Workshop
This room is the workshop of someone quite dedicated to their craft. Several tables are against the walls of the chamber, each covered with neatly organized glassware, beakers, burners, and other delicate tools of that craft. Hanging from the ceiling are dozens of basket-cages, containing many different kinds of serpents. In the nearest corner of the chamber stands a fleshy dummy, oversized for the human it must represent, painstakingly constructed from dozens of different body-parts. There is small and a large silver chest pushed under one of the tables.
The flesh golem doesn't attack unless someone tries to remove something from the room, then it focuses on that one person. However, once activated it becomes a relentless killing machine.
Area 19, Library
This room is a private library. Sturdy shelves line the walls, each holding numerous tomes and scrolls which have been preserved by the stable temperature and dry environment of this underground fortress. As you browse the titles you recognize writing in Thennish, Westering, Hanoi, and a dozen other languages. There are even a couple poetry books in ancient Ivorian. A table sits in the middle of the room with a pair of comfortable, though worn, high-backed chairs with red velvet padding flanking it to either side a couple of thick candles sit in the middle of the table.
The candles radiate magic (weak evocation) and when touched they burn brightly without heat. The room is guarded by a voidwraith that Madrasheen imprisoned here as a servitor. It doesn't mind the undead, but it hungers for the breath of the living, making it a perfect guardian for this room. It immediately attacks.
Area 20, Vampire Sleeping Chambers
This is a 20'x40' chamber with low, 6' ceilings. Small vents lead upwards and no other exit is visible from this room. The walls are plastered with a red mosaic showing priestesses of Niosha worshiping and committing heinous acts in their goddess's name. Twelve coffins are arranged in two rows of six, each coffin different from the rest, some fancy and others plain.
During the day, each of these coffins contains one of the vampire priestesses or a favored thrall of Madrasheen: vampire cleric 6 (x3), vampire spawn fighter 9, vampire spawn fighter 8, vampire spawn fighter 5 (x2), vampire sorcerer 6, vampire rogue 5, vampire monk 4, vampire barbarian 6, vampire cleric 4.
Area 21, Chamber of Niosha
This is a large round room, some eighty feet across or more. Its domed ceiling, twenty feet above, has faded paintings of beautiful, young gods engaged in activities supposedly representing the creation of animals, plants, and places in the world. Niosha can be seen in part of the painting, surrounded by handsome male gods as though at some festive mid-summer garden party, and again elsewhere, each time quite beautiful. A dark, handsome god is shown in several places as well, observing her with a stormy expression. In another part of the painting he sits by a well with a golden potter's wheel, a shadow of darkness seems to spill from him, out from the direction of his potter's wheel, and crawling, vile creatures are emerging from the shadow to flee into the gardened forests. You notice their eyes glittering from the flora that decorates the more benign parts of the painting, giving the entire work a more sinister feeling.
Any reply not similar to "the blessed of Niosha have come to pray" causes the guardians to reply, "depart from this prison or perish.
This is not your place." The guardians attack beings who come within five feet of the central pillar and cease attacking if the offender
immediately retreats. Creatures which harm the guardians are attacked without hesitation or cease. Treat the guardians as
Astral Devas, however they are neutrally aligned, have DR
10/adamantine, and +4 adamantine greatswords. They are dressed in gothic full-plate, giving them an AC of 37. They ignore most questions or
reply in such a way as to warn the inquirer that they are unwelcome here. They act with single-minded, robotic determination to prevent anyone
from approaching or damaging the massive central pillar.