Darrin Drader's "The Cult of Tharizdun" (3.5e Quest)
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 The Cult of Tharizdun
This Adventure was written by Darren Drader, a long time Wizard of the Cost and a gaming genious. I have left the adventure as intact as I possibly could, while adhearing to DnD Wiki's accepted format. I claim no credit for the Cult ot Tharizdun. Enjoy.
 Quest Introduction
Tharizdun: enigmatic, feared, and utterly evil. Even from his eternal prison, Tharizdun continues to influence the world through his cultists. He whispers to his faithful in the darkness, promising them great rewards for their dedication. They will be the last ones remaining after he cleanses the world of the stink and filth that currently inhabits it. The world is flawed and it is his job to undo all that has been created. He will wipe away the fear, the pain, and the ugliness, but likewise, he will wipe away hope, joy, and glory.
Come and meet those who would destroy all that currently exists. Look upon their horrific creations, and discover the tools they will one day use to destroy everything in existence.
The cultists of Tharizdun find themselves drawn to the banished god for a number of reasons. Some of them are criminals, while others have been beaten by the uncaring forces within their civilization. They often have enough negative experiences with humanity in general that they decide that the world is fundamentally flawed. They furthermore decide that if they cannot obtain the finer things in life, no one deserves to have them. The cult of Tharizdun has committed itself to the destruction of all things, but they welcome potential cultists with open arms, pretending to care about the injustices that they have been victimized by, and promising that when Tharizdun reduces the world to smoking ruins, his followers will be rewarded with all the things they cannot possess in the world as it currently exists. They are also treated to excesses of food, flesh, and wealth previously denied to them.
The blighter prestige class, with its ability to ruin natural locations, holds great appeal to Tharizdun's mortal worshippers. Many Tharizdun cultists briefly follow the druidic path just long enough to learn how to despoil nature. The cultists claim that Tharizdun, and not nature itself, empowers their druidic spells and abilities.
Blighter Cultist of Tharizdun: Male or female human ex-druid 5/cleric 3/blighter 3; CR 11; Medium humanoid; HD 5d8+10 plus 3d8+6 plus 3d8+6; hp 71; Init +5; Spd 30 ft.; AC 18, touch 10, flat-footed 18; Base Atk +7; Grp +9; Atk +12 melee (2d6+6/19-20, +3 greatsword) or +8 ranged (1d8/19-20, light crossbow); Full Atk +12/+7 melee (2d6+6/19-20, +3 greatsword) or +8 ranged (1d8/19-20, light crossbow); SA blightfire, deforestation, rebuke undead 2/day; SQ sustenance, undead wildshape 1/day; AL NE; SV Fort +12, Ref +4, Will +13; Str 14, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 11, Wis 16, Cha 8.
Skills and Feats: Concentration +13, Heal +12, Knowledge (arcana) +3, Knowledge (nature) +8, Knowledge (religion) +2.5, Knowledge (the planes) +3, Listen +9, Spellcraft +11, Spot +9, Survival +9; Cleave, Improved Initiative, Martial Weapon Proficiency (greatsword), Power Attack, Scribe Scroll.
Blightfire (Su): As a standard action, a blighter cultist can unleash a scorching blast of fire. This effect deals 5d6 points of damage to every creature within 10 feet (DC 16 Fortitude save) and ignites flammable objects it touches.
Deforestation (Sp): The cultist of Tharizdun can kill all nonsentient plant life within a radius of 60 feet as a full-round action once per day. If a potentially affected plant is under the control of another (such as a druid's liveoak or dryad's home tree), the controller can make a DC 16 Fortitude save to keep it alive. Affected plants immediately cease photosynthesis, root tapping, and all other methods of sustenance. Like picked flowers, they appear vibrant for several hours, but within a day, they turn brown and wither. Except for plants saved by a controller, nothing can grow in a deforested area until it has a hallow spell cast upon it and it is reseeded. Deforestation enables the cultist of Tharizdun to cast his daily allotment of spells. This ability works in any terrain, but deforesting a sandy desert, ice floe, or other environment with only sparse vegetation does not empower the character to cast spells.
Sustenance (Ex): The cultist of Tharizdun no longer needs food or water to survive.
Undead Wildshape (Sp): Once a day, the cultist of Tharizdun gains a version of the wild shape ability, except that he uses the skeleton template to the animal form it transforms into.
Cleric Spells Prepared (4/4/3; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- detect magic, detect poison, guidance, inflict minor wounds; 1st -- bane, cure light wounds, entropic shield, obscuring mist, protection from good*; 2nd -- bull's strength, detect thoughts*, shatter.
- Domain spell. Deity: None. Domains: Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level), Knowledge (cast divinations at +1 caster level).
Blighter Spells Prepared (5/4/2/1; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- detect magic, flare, ghost sound, read magic, touch of fatigue; 1st -- burning hands, decomposition, inflict light wounds, ray of enfeeblement; 2nd -- chill touch, warp wood; 3rd -- contagion.
Languages: Common, Infernal.
Possessions:+1 half-plate armor,+3 greatsword, light crossbow, 20 bolts, 3 potions of cure moderate wounds.
Bringing the Parts Together
Regardless whether the PCs face the cult of Tharizdun while they are attacking a local populace or while they are investigating the disappearance of local people who will serve as sacrifices, they are likely to encounter numerous cultists before they reach the more powerful priests, who many know as the Witnesses of Tharizdun.
 Net of Despair
Magic items are a central focus of the cult of Tharizdun. Because Tharizdun is locked away in a plane from which he cannot escape, his connection to his followers is not as strong as that of most other gods. His clerics can cast divine spells, but only if they are in contact with an object or site imbued with some of Tharizdun's power. Portions of destroyed artifacts that were crafted in his name before his imprisonment are frequently worked into magic items to fulfill this requirement. The cult goes to great lengths to recover any remaining portions of these items by devoting months, if not years, scouring moldering texts to learn the history of their god's lost items of power. Remnants of once-mighty magic still possess an ember of their former power, and many consider them the most important direct link between followers and deity.
The magic items belonging to the cult include newly forged items as well as some items so old that they date back to the time when Tharizdun walked freely among the planes. The older the items are, the more powerful they tend to be, provided that they remain intact. Numerous wondrous items, magic weapons, armor, and rods have been passed down within the cult for generations, and all of them are identifiable by the symbol of the vortex etched into them.
The church commonly crafts the following item for its followers.
Net of Despair: This net is crafted from the silk of a drider. The silk is harvested, woven, and then blackened by infusing charred bone powder in with the fibers. The net absorbs light and has a visible aura of darkness. It continuously radiates darkness in a 20-foot radius as the darkness spell.
Creatures that the user catch within the net begin to experience rapid decomposition and decay as though they are aging at a massively accelerated rate (see page 117 of the Player's Handbook for net statistics A creature entangled in the net must make a Fortitude save (DC 15) each round or suffer 2 points of ability damage. The specific ability affected depends on the result of a d6 roll:
1 -- Strength 2 -- Dexterity 3 -- Constitution 4 -- Intelligence 5 -- Wisdom 6 -- Charisma
A creature caught within the net for 3 uninterrupted rounds suffers accelerated deterioration. Starting on the third round of entanglement, the entangled creature gains one negative level in addition to ability damage. The creature continues to take ability damage and negative levels each round the creature remains entangled. A creature that escapes the net is fatigued for a number of rounds equal to the number of ability points drained. A creature that survives entanglement in the net can heal ability damage and recover negative levels from the net in the normal manner. The save DC to remove a negative level is 15. In the hands of a nonevil PC, this functions as a normal masterwork net.
Moderate necromancy; CL 10th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, darkness,enervation, ray of exhaustion; cleric must worship Tharizdun; Price 150,000 gp.
Bringing the Parts Together
The net of despair is a powerful item to use against mid- to high-level PCs. A war party that carries one or more of these items into battle is a force to be reckoned with, even by the most seasoned group of adventurers.
Encountered within the strongholds of Tharizdun's followers are elhoriads, which serve as an undead force for the cultists. Though many adventurers often dismiss elhoriads as trivial when they first encounter the creatures, they quickly discover that these undead foes are not as easily dispatched as most first surmise. As a result, elhoriads serve as one of the cult's secret weapons against those who seek to destroy them. To preserve the element of surprise, the cult keeps a tight rein on these creatures.
Elhoriads are not allowed to wander, and they are not sent to mindlessly terrorize the surrounding countryside. The cult uses them for protection and for attack whenever they move against a selected target. The cultists remain near them in battle, and they ensure that all elhoriads either return with them to their temple or are utterly destroyed. They fear that one of these creatures will fall into the hands of their enemies, allowing their foes to better prepare the next time they encounter the undead creatures.
Elhoriad Medium Undead Hit Dice: 5d12 (32 hp) Initiative: +7 Speed: 30 ft. Armor Class: 18 (+3 Dex, +5 natural), touch 13, flat footed 15 Base Attack/ Grapple: +2/+5 Attack: Longsword +5 melee (1d8+4/19-20) or claw +5 melee (1d4+3 plus entropic touch) Full Attack: Longsword +5 melee (1d8+4/19-20) or 2 claws +5 melee (1d4+3 plus entropic touch) Special Attacks: Entropic touch Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/bludgeoning, darkvision 60 ft., immunity to cold, undead traits Saves: Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +4 Abilities: Str 16, Dex 17, Con --, Int 11, Wis 10, Cha 12 Skills: Hide +11, Listen +8, Move Silently +11, Spot +8 Feats: Improved Initiative, Power Attack Environment: Any land and underground Organization: Solitary or gang (3-10) Challenge Rating: 3 Treasure: None Alignment: Neutral evil Advancement: 6-15 HD (Medium) Level Adjustment: --
The creature looks like the blackened skeletal remains of a human. Its eyes are such a deep shade of inky black that they stand out against their ebony remains.
The cult of Tharizdun created the elhoriads to act as guardians. The cult researched the various methods of undead creation for several years and even went so far as to recruit accomplished necromancers into their ranks to unlock the secrets that would allow them to manipulate the various forms of undead. Cultists produced elhoriads by taking the base skeleton and infusing them with the very power of entropy channeled from unearthed remnants of Tharizdun's once-mighty artifacts. This grants these creatures their above average intelligence and their deadly entropic touch ability.
Elhoriads are intelligent creatures, but they derive their power from Tharizdun, so they remain fiercely loyal to him and his followers. Elhoriads are the foot soldiers whenever the cult takes action against the outside world. Within their hidden temples, they serve as guards who protect the clergy in the event that their sanctuary is attacked.
The appearance of the elhoriads is not entirely unlike that of typical animated skeletons. Many who encounter them simply dismiss them as blackened skeletons, so they often make the mistake of employing the same tactics that they would against these all-too common undead. The inky blackness within the elhoriads' eye sockets and the constant shadow that surrounds their claws are the only outward characteristics that they display that cause them to appear as anything but common skeletons. These differences are subtle and have cost numerous adventurers their lives.
Elhoriads are used primarily for melee combat. Their job is to weaken opponents before their foes can reach the cultists whom they protect. Elhoriads typically use longswords to cut through less powerful enemies, but if they are pitted against higher level foes, they instead use their claw attacks to deliver their entropic touch, which quickly weakens their opponents.
Entropic Touch (Su): An elhoriad's touch disrupts most living tissue. Whenever an elhoriad successfully strikes an aberration, animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, outsider, plant, or vermin with a claw attack, the creature struck must make a Fortitude save (DC 13) or take 1d4 points of permanent Constitution drain and 1d4 points of permanent Strength drain. The save DC is Charisma based.
Undead Traits: An elhoriad is immune to mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects or is harmless. It is not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage to its physical ability scores, ability drain, energy drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or death from massive damage. It cannot be raised, and resurrection works only if it is willing.
Bringing the Parts Together
If the party is sent to deal with a cult plaguing an area or with some specific cultists who are looking for an artifact, elhoriads are present to guard the temple or the cultist group if the group is extremely close to acquiring their item (and need to bolster their numbers). Likewise, if the cult attacks an area where the PCs are staying, the PCs may encounter the elhoriads as they try to defend the region.
 The Witnesses of Tharizdun
The high priests of the god of entropy are known in many temples as the Witnesses of Tharizdun. They oversee the operations of the temples, ensure that their actions remain secret, and lead the faithful in the dark ceremonies, which they believe brings their god closer to freedom. They are dark souls who, unlike those at lower levels of the organization, understand that if Tharizdun breaks free of his prison he will destroy everything in existence, not just the society that may have oppressed them earlier in life.
Witnesses of Tharizdun rise to the top of their clergy due to certain common personality traits that ultimately allow them to recruit and lead others within the cult. Though they don't all fit the following description, most have many, if not all of these traits. They possess a superficial charm that attracts people toward them rather than the message that they promote. They come across as soothing and reassuring, despite their utter contempt for their subordinates. Their own emotions run shallow, and they cannot experience love, shame, or guilt. They are highly egotistical with a grandiose sense of self, believing that they are entitled to the finest things life has to offer. Before joining the cult, these individuals commonly have been bandits or societal leeches, living off their own misdeeds or the charity of others. They often wander from place to place, reinventing themselves as the situation demands until they find a welcoming harbor in the cult of Tharizdun, which relies upon all of these traits to promote itself.
Many of the witnesses of Tharizdun are truly insane. Their motives are not clearly understood by their peers or sometimes even by themselves. Some fail to fully comprehend what it is that their god wishes to do. They are hateful, malicious individuals, but they have also found inner fulfillment with their deity and his baleful designs. To them, life is neither sacred, nor valuable unless it serves to promote their own agenda. Followers beneath them are to be lied to and deluded until their lives have become so intertwined with the religion that they can no longer extricate themselves from the organization.
Damargath is a witness of Tharizdun who leads a temple of fifty-five members in the sewers beneath the city of Verbabonc. Most regions of the Flanaess are not friendly toward the cult of Tharizdun. Damargath's temple goes to great measures to avoid the First Army of the Church, which patrols the streets of this city because they know that these zealous warriors would take it upon themselves to hunt them if they knew that they were operating in this area.
Damargath had once been one of the high priests of Tharizdun in the city of Greyhawk, but he left along with ten of his most trusted henchmen to create a new division in this city. He has found numerous malcontents here who are not satisfied with their lives because of the usually sunless weather, or those who are dissatisfied with the leadership of "His Noble Lordship, the Viscount Langard of Verbabonc, Defender of the Faith." Damargath, posing as a noble from Greyhawk, has befriended his lordship and has become a member of the court. He continually worms his way closer to becoming an advisor, and he plans to one day make a play for leadership of the city, which would serve to subjugate all the people of the city under the will of Tharizdun.
Damargath, Witness of Tharizdun: Male human cleric 10/fighter 5; CR 15; Medium humanoid; HD 10d8+30 plus 5d10+15; hp 117; Init +6; Spd 20 ft.; AC 24, touch 12, flat-footed 22; Base Atk +12; Grp +15; Atk +16 melee (1d12+5/x3, +1 unholy greataxe) or +16 ranged (1d8+2/x3, +2 longbow); Full Atk +16/+11/+6 melee (1d12+5/x3, +1 unholy greataxe) or +16/+11/+6 ranged (1d8+2/x3, +2 longbow); SA rebuke undead 6/day; AL NE; SV Fort +14, Ref +6, Will +11; Str 16, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 17.
Skills and Feats: Climb +11, Concentration +16, Craft (weaponsmithing) +6, Heal +11, Intimidate +10, Jump -3, Knowledge (religion) +14, Knowledge (the planes) +14, Spellcraft +6; Blind-Fight, Brew Potion, Cleave, Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Wondrous Item, Great Cleave, Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Scribe Scroll.
Cleric Spells Prepared (6/5+1/5+1/4+1/3+1/2+1; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- cure minor wounds, detect magic, light, mending, read magic, resistance; 1st -- bane, cause fear, curse water, entropic shield, obscuring mist, protection from good*; 2nd -- align weapon, darkness, desecrate*, make whole, sound burst, undetectable alignment; 3rd -- cure serious wounds, dispel magic, magic circle against good*, obscure object, searing light; 4th -- discern lies, dismissal, restoration, unholy blight*; 5th -- dispel good*, slay living, true seeing.
- Domain spell. Deity: Tharizdun. Domains: Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level), Knowledge (cast divinations at +1 caster level).
Languages: Common, Infernal.
Possessions:+5 mithral breastplate,+1unholygreataxe, +2 longbow, quiver with20 arrows, amulet of natural armor +2.
Bringing the Parts Together
Damargath and the other witnesses of Tharizdun represent a dire threat to the surrounding region. If the PCs must take action against the cult, they will ultimately face Damargath, or another like him.
 Temple Sites
"Light must be snuffed, perfection decayed, order dissolved, and minds fragmented." The mantra of the cult of Tharizdun, these words are often found etched into the altars, the stone pillars, and the doors within the Tharizdun's temples. These dark places are crushingly void of hope, and its followers revel in the darkness and despair that that all things almost certainly face at some time in their existence. Though their lord is currently locked away in a planar prison, the congregations praise the fact that even the most optimistic sages agree that in time everything that exists will one day pass into dust and nothingness. Tharizdun will win the battle, despite the opposition of all the gods.
Each temple is led by one of the witnesses of Tharizdun, who are vile cultists who have risen to their positions through ambition, charm, and manipulation (see Part 4). The worshipers often reside at the temple site in opulent chambers, surrounded by riches donated to them by their body of worshipers. Despite their message of eminent decay, they partake of the finest things life has to offer. Rich food, rare tapestries, gold, and often harems are kept by the witness in charge of a temple. While the head of a temple indulges in these lavish surroundings, the cult uses these very things as a means of recruiting new followers to the temple. Those who are disenfranchised by society find not only acceptance, but luxury in these surroundings.
Temple sites must be hidden from the local populace. Nearly all people of the Flanaess have a hatred toward the cult of Tharizdun. This hatred, sponsored by the gods themselves, force the cult into hiding. They exist in the shadows, often transforming abandoned buildings into temples. They have also been known to take control of ill-used and forgotten chambers in sewer systems beneath cities. Occasionally their temples exist in basements or cellars beneath houses belonging to respectable people who have converted.
In the wilderness regions, the cult can afford to operate somewhat more openly. Structures exist in wooded depths and rocky plains where the followers of a region can meet and perform their dark rituals. The locals may believe that there is a darkness hanging over the region, but as long as no harm comes to them, the cult's activities are rarely investigated.
While the outside of a temple to Tharizdun normally doesn't betray the nature of its malign denizens, the interior must serve as a place of worship as well as a defensive location where the inhabitants can defend themselves from those who would try to destroy them. Doorways are usually trapped in such a way that only someone within can disarm them to allow others entrance. Hallways are often lined with murder holes, rooms are constructed with a dais so that warriors can gain the advantage of higher ground. Guard rooms are placed throughout the temple and manned by either the worshipers of Tharizdun or elhoriads. Ceremony chambers, the private rooms belonging to the high priests are located deep within the temple. Many temples also have a permanent portal to another plane established so that they can quickly flee to another realm where good creatures are much less likely to follow.
A Sample Temple
By using one of the maps from the Map-A-Week feature, you can either start playing right away or get an idea of how to lay out your own temple. The map chosen as a sample here represents a hidden temple that lurks along a seacoast. You may want to add a few other sea-going beasties to it to provide a nice local flavor to the perils your PCs will face! This sample represents a temple that is in the process of building itself into something more stable and permanent (inasmuch as Tharizdun's followers want stability). As a result, some of the rooms are not quite furnished to the taste of the witness in charge of the temple. Also, only blighters, a witness (Samiela), and elhoriads reside in these caves at present. Samiela's goal is to destroy the local fishing industry, so there should be at least one town whose industry is based on fish within a day or so of the caves. While she's doing this, she hopes to start recruiting new worshipers from nearby. Lack of fish can lead to despair among those whose livelihoods depend on the fish harvest, after all. (If the DM wishes, she may also have a deeper motive of seeking out a net of despair lost to the worshipers of Tharizdun in a shipwreck somewhere nearby.)
The cliffs near the sea cave have a cleverly hidden path leading upward. The beach itself is barely a strip of sand at high tide, though low tide exposes a fair amount of bracken-strewn sand. Both the land above and the beach serve as areas for the blighters inside the temple to go out and find plenty of nature to destroy with their innate abilities. At any moment, 1d4 blighters may be outside the temple. (Use the statistics presented in Part 1 of this series.) Another nearby cave (not shown on map) has a few hidden canoes and a small ship owned by Samiela and crewed by the blighters she brought with her (replace the blighters' Listen skills with Profession [sailor]).
1. Entrance: At least two elhoriads (see Part 2) lurk just within the entrance to the temple.
Elhoriads (2): hp 32; see Part 2.
2. Trap: The area has a spiked pit trap. The DM can choose to add a few elhoriads at the bottom of this pit.
Spiked Pit Trap: CR 3; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; Reflex save (DC 14) avoids; 10 ft. deep (1d6, fall); pit spikes (Atk +10 melee, 3d6 damage); Search (DC 15); Disable Device (DC 30). Market Price: 5,700 gp.
3. Outer Temple: The ceremonies for this hidden temple take place within this room. Four elhoriads stand guard within, and a ghost of a former seagoing fighter (a former pirate) wanders the area. There is usually one blighter here, as well (90% chance of her being present).
Elhoriads (4): hp 32; see Part 2.
Ghost: hp 32; see Monster Manual, page 117.
4. Sea Cat Lair Trapdoor: A trapdoor here opens into a water-filled pit that has a sea cat living in it part of the time (50% chance of it being present). The pit has an exit to the sea, and the tide brings in more water at various parts of the day. (The normal water depth is about 10 feet deep, but it can fluctuate between 15 feet deep and 5 feet deep.) One part of the wall forms a lip that is available only when the water depth is 10 feet or less. Samiela has plans to make these creatures into undead of some sort in the future.
Camouflaged Watery Pit Trap: CR 5; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; Reflex save (DC 20) avoids; 25 ft. deep (2d6, fall); multiple targets (first target in each of two adjacent 5-ft. squares); Search (DC 25); Disable Device (DC 317). Market Price: 8,500 gp.
Sea Cat: hp 51; see Monster Manual, page 220.
5. Witness Chamber: The temple's witness of Tharizdun resides in a room beyond a black velvet curtain. A rich bear-fur rug is spread out over a sleigh bed. Two chests made of dark-stained oak rest at the far end of the room. A dark wardrobe stands opposite the bed, and a full-length silver mirror hangs on the wall to the left of the doorway. Despite the overriding scent of salty water, a pleasing aroma drifts from a censer hanging next to the bed. While the PCs can find several sets of rich priestly vestments and some very nice outfits, not much else of importance is in this room -- unless the DM wishes it to be.
Samiela, Witness of Tharizdun: hp 110; see Part 4.
6. Eating Chamber: A couple of round wooden tables are grouped in this room, and a cooking area, complete with brick oven and vent, is on the far end of the room. (The vent branches into several other smaller crevices, which helps disperse the cooking smoke in a less visible manner.) Two blighters are usually in this room taking a break.
Blighters (2): 76 hp; see Part 1.
7. Privies: The priests have added wooden seating to what used to be little more than holes in the ground. A censer filled with fragrant incense hangs outside each entrance.
8. Meeting Room: The temple's witness has set up this room as a meeting room. Though the room has a few wooden chairs, these seats serve only to make the room look emptier. Four elhoriads are stationed here.
Elhoriads (4): hp 32; see Part 2.
9. Temporary Storage and Sleeping Areas: These rooms contain crates of food and other necessities, as well as several simple beds. There are usually 2d4 blighters in the area.
Blighters (2d4): 76 hp; see Part 1.
Bringing the Parts Together
The ultimate challenge a party faces with regards to the forces of Tharizdun should be its location of strength: the temple itself. Uncovering and destroying a temple site can be the focus of an entire campaign. Once here, they face a number of deadly obstacles, ranging from fanatic followers who view their own deaths as progress toward their ultimate goal to traps, undead creatures unknown to the outside world, and powerful priests intent on preserving not only their decadent lifestyle as well as their following. If the party succeeds in destroying the temple but fails to eliminate the high priest, chances are that the temple will arise at a later point in time, even stronger than it is now.