28th of Abadius, 4712AR
It was awkward this morning to say the least but on a hunch from Schmidtaki we traveled south and ended up finding the lost temple that Jhod. There we found the Temple of the Elk. The thick tangle of brambles gives way into a large clearing in the woods, its border partially defined by ruined stone pillars. The western face of the clearing is dominated by a looming, upthrust ridge of rock, nearly 300 feet across and rising to a moss-topped height of 100 feet at the center.
The side of this towering boulder facing the clearing has been carved in the likeness of an immense elk, its antlers drooping down from its weathered face to frame a 50-footwide cave entrance. A flight of stone steps leads up to this cave entrance from the forest clearing—both the steps and elk face feel quite old and are thickly encrusted with layers of moss. A 50-foot-long oval pool sits in the middle of the clearing, its waters thick with algae.
From inside the cave we could hear the unmistakable roars and grunts of a bear. Taking a moment to survey the surroundings decided to lay an ambush near a fallen pillar. There Schmidtaki ended up laying bear traps but the fourth trap he laid down snapped shut noisily. Shortly after the bear showed up. Charging out the bear but must have noticed the unhidden bear traps because it avoided them all. Rounding the broken pillar the bear began attacking us.
The powerful muscles move beneath this massive bear’s brown fur, promising both speed and lethal force. As we watched the bear charge towards us Mitchel said to me, “C’mon Rainfall, you told me you arm wrestled three of these bears on that Dos Equis commercial!” As usual I have no idea what he means.
The angry bear was a terrifying sight and we were lucky to avoid most of the bears attacks. We managed to surround the bear allowing us to rain blows on it. The bear was supernaturally strong and the idea of retreat did cross my mind for a moment. Eventually, thankfully the beast let out one final roar and die on the spot.
As it died it made an almost human-sounding sigh of relief, then collapsed in on itself, transforming first into an incredibly old human man with a look of peace in his eyes, and then a moment later crumbling into a skeleton and thence to dust. At this moment, the entire shrine seemed to grow more vibrant and colorful. The water in the pool becomes crystal clear and began to shimmer brightly.
Standing their bloodied but unbowed, the sight of the now perfect crystal clear water beckoned us to drink. Drinking the cool water it refreshed and healed our wounds. We then turned our attention to the cave itself. After nearly an hour of searching we were unable to find anything of value in the cave. Before we left Mitchel and Schmidtaki filled flasks with the water from the pool. Leaving the temple we made our way back Oleg’s, arriving shortly after nightfall.