010 - Room: The Temple of the River Goddess - Sanctuary
When the earth began to shake, and the temple of the river goddess threatened to collapse around her, High Priestess Elle was not exactly surprised, because she had some warning the day before. Indeed, she had known for years the approximate time that something momentous would occur because of the coins in the courtyard's fountain. (See entry 014 for more detail on this.)
In truth, the River Goddess is not a minor goddess at all, but is in fact one of the Prime Deities. She holds the safekeeping of the River of Time, that guides all things to their downstream destiny. This isn't exactly a deadly secret, but the church encourages all but the most devout to worship the god only in connection with more mundane waters. For while, like most non-evil churches, the clergy perform good deeds, like healings and blessings, there wouldn't be much they can do for anyone who asked to alter the flow of time itself. Destiny can not be hastened, and the past cannot be changed -- at least not without great cost.
So, when the end approached, the Priestess began casting a powerful spell, not to turn the river back, but to create a small eddy in the currents of time. An extended pause in the flow of the waters. In truth, the temple is already destroyed and collapsed, its clergy and the high priestess herself all dead, but simultaneously, the last echoes of them all continue to exist and stretch forward in the physical world, and they will continue to do so as long as Elle ceaselessly maintains the casting of her spell.
She undertakes this incredible effort in hopes that someone will come and take one of the temple's treasures from its basement vault -- one of the three keys that are needed to deactivate the Nexus.Elle can be clearly seen, transparent and glowing, by anyone standing in the sanctuary. A beautiful middle-aged woman, whe stands at the lectern at the head of the sanctuary, looking down at a book of scriptures and occasionally turning a page. Every hour or so, she flips many pages back and continues from that earlier point. People looking into the sanctuary from outside cannot see her, though if they observe carefully, they may see the pages of the book turn as if flipped by an unseen hand.
High Priestess Elle will continue casting her spell until the Key of Time is taken outside the courtyard, at which point she will allow her spell to finally cease. Anyone still in the temple at that time will need to move very quickly indeed to escape death under a ton of collapsing rubble. (easy agility check to halve damage as if from a 50' fall, medium agility check to take one quarter such damage, and a difficult agility check to avoid damage completely.)
Elle is aware of the party's presence, but cannot take time or attention away from her spell to speak. Even her hands are busy with magical gestures and the turning of pages. She can communicate only with her eyes and facial expressions. If the PCs ask where they should go, she will consistently flick her gaze in the direction of the wall between her and the basement stairway in the storeroom. (Entry 015)
The priestess does not want the temple to collapse before the Key is retrieved, but there are limits. If her book is closed, taken, covered, or she is prevented from turning pages, her spell will falter and the natural flow of time will reassert itself. If she is injured by a magical effect that can affect incorporeal beings, she will attempt to maintain her concentration to a point, but if she falters, or the party makes repeated attacks the spell will be disrupted. Finally, if the party spends more than three days in or around the temple, her dwindling energies will fail, and the spell will collapse under the weight of the backed-up time that has accumulated behind her dam.