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The Occasional Dungeon: Shrine, Lower Level

The most obvious entrance to the dungeon (though it's really not obvious at all) is through the shrine.

The remains of an earthen wall are still detectable around the precincts of the ancient temple, though it is nowhere more than a foot high and in places isn't there at all. Nevertheless, it delineates a region of high sanctity including the former courtyard, the exterior structure, and the cave, though not the catacombs beyond.

The shrine proper consists of a two-story-tall structure built against the hillside which enlarges the enclosed area of the cave beyond. The walls are three foot thick stone (DR 468, DR 135). The floor is made of heavy stone tiles, still in quite good shape after many years. There are no windows and a single door. When it was in use, the shade was pleasantly cool, but the roof is all but gone now, so apart from a few crumbling rafters, there's little shade. However, there are vaults supporting a second floor for four tower-like structures protruding from the main structure. Each has its own spiral staircase leading upward. There's also an ancient trap door about six yards north of the door, but it's under the stone paving, so it's nigh-undetectable (-10 to Search rolls). The walls are covered with sculpted and painted reliefs which have images of violence, crime, and carnality, shading to somewhat tamer images of everyday life farther in.

Unlike the earthly images farther out, the reliefs carved into the cave walls are of gods, demigods, and holy men. Within the cave, there are four large copper braziers attached to low stone pedestals, which burn without fuel. The light defeats darkness spells; Vision penalties for darkness are never worse than -3. However, the fire goes out if they are carried out of the shrine or if they are filled with a non-flammable substance such as sand or water. However, they'll relight in a few seconds if returned to the shrine or emptied. They weight about 400 lbs. each and are worth perhaps $200 each as scrap metal. There is also a large stone statue of a seated, eight-armed god near the far end of the cave. Each hand is making a sign of obscure mystical significance. Hidden in the northeast corner, there's a hidden panel (no penalty to Search) which swings open if the correct nearby knob of stone is turned, leading into the catacombs. The knob itself is distinctly magical and can be detected by a separate Sense roll by anyone with Magical Aptitude, per the usual rules for detecting magical items.

(Next time: upper floor and current occupants)


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