By the numbers:
Humans: Iata (intended sacrifice), Pilau (malign human), Toad (low status minion) & Jon (masochistic self hating cultist), and about a dozen latecoming worshippers survive, sent into exile. 27 killed directly, another dozen died by various means in the lowest level.
Eladrin: Illuan Tareleaf (quiet, intent convert), Lorak Velfarren & four others survive. Six killed on the lowest level.
Tieflings: Vadu, Sister Ariel & Mother Janreaza survive sent into hiding, 2 killed
Cambion: Brother Jeremiah survives in exile, 1 killed.
loot: 1kT looted, 1kT reward from Lord Padraig. One amulet of fortune taken by Fax Fortuna, one item under investigation. 3 Dragonshards. 200 arcane components, 200 religious components, 100 residuum. A number of yet unsorted books. A journal by the mad Heirophant Palascek detailing his discovery of the Codex and how it led him to the succubus Agera.
As the PCs traveled from the Tollgate Abbey to Winterhaven in pursuit of some men in service to the slaver Mathis, they came across a roadside temple dedicated to the Sovereign Host (and particularly Dol’Arrah). Inside, an argument was occurring between Brother Jeremiah, supported by another priest and several members of the laity, and the local Magistrate, Lord Padraig – supported by several of his guard. Padraig insisted that the temple has been corrupted by devil worship and demanded that the priests allow the grounds to be searched. As the party engaged in separate conversation with the various factions, Padraig’s guard attacked the priests – and were rapidly slaughtered. The priests ‘apologized’ to the Lord (while proclaiming their right to defend themselves). Padraig retreated, proclaiming he would return with more men. The party offered to assist with cleansing the temple, which the Lord agreed to reward for managing the problem without him having to become involved.
At first, the party seemed reluctant to pursue this diversion – they had traveled here to rescue some Eladrin slaves which had been taken from Gloomwrought: a time sensitive quest. However, Vic was persuaded that having the Lord’s favor would be useful – while Mara declared that she had a vision that some of the Eladrin had actually been given to this temple and were being tortured within. Aeun, too, declared she had a vision of the importance of this temple – however, she additionally declared she was certain that the Magistrate was an enemy to the party.
Settled on a course of action now, the party approached the small, squat temple once more to discover what secrets it concealed.
Using her status as a Knight-Hospitaller, Mara gained admission to the temple for herself and the party. With a lovely speech, she caused some dissension in the ranks – drawing some of the flock away from the Priests. Afterward, she was invited downstairs “to speak with the Hierophant,” – an offer which she accepted. Vic followed along stealthily… and, while Mara was speaking to Brother Jeremiah, stabbed him in the back. When that accomplished little more than shredding his monks robes and allowing him to spread his demonic wings, the truth of the Magistrate’s claim was made viscerally evident.
In the melee which followed most of the Human worshipers were killed, though the party took some care to spare the Tieflings and Eladrin. As they pressed deeper into the temple, they learned from a captive (Sister Ariel), that the Hierophant was rushing to conclude a ritual by which Agera herself could be made to take physical form. Rushing forward, the party managed to disrupt the hurried ritual just in time – by slaughtering the human cultists which were powering it, though Mara went out of her way to protect the intended sacrifice – Iata, despite the fact she had begun to show elements of transformation through the ritual.
Again, the Eladrin converts and the Tiefling Priests were spared – Mother Janraeza even being allowed to raise her fallen brother, Vadu after she surrendered and offered to show the party where the temple kept its loot, and how to most safely approach the Hierophant’s lair.
Adrik noted that elements of the temple’s architecture and warding had been constructed so as to create a better channel for Agera – both as protector and temptress. As well, the summoning and warding rites used seemed to have been taken from The Black Codex : a suspicion confirmed once the Hierophant’s Journal was discovered. Using his knowledge, he lead the effort to disable to “devilish seduction” elements of the temple’s magic, while preserving those aspects which provided protection from the undead as much as possible.
(Padraig’s second visit / attack)
While Vic and Lt. Elie Chastim snuck in through a secret entrance to the deepest lair – a great hall, featuring a throne sized for a Giant and an immense statue of Agera – Mara walked ahead, in one last attempt to convince the Hierophant to surrender. That attempt brutally failed, as the Hierophant began attacking her and the rest of the party – his throne encasing him in some kind of sickening spiked armor that allowed him to siphon the life energy from anybody he impaled upon it. As the temple collapsed around them, the Hierophant turned back to attack the, now mobile and hostile, statue of Agera… claiming that she had betrayed him. The party, as well as a few more Tieflings, barely escaped the collapsing (and now lava filled) lower level.
(Padraig’s third visit / payment / promise of further loot)