Lost Lore 31, Season 4 Game 1: The Old Man and the Sewer Report in Tairos | World Anvil

Lost Lore 31, Season 4 Game 1: The Old Man and the Sewer

The Orphanarium has many visitors this day

General Summary

With the two months gone as I described before, Ospher, Charity, and I found ourselves once again entertaining Trevor DeWitt, our Manacite dealer and drug supplier, in the administrative offices of Wagner Orphanarium. As usual, he was ready to sell us the story of every piece of magical equipment he's brought with and asking princely sums of money. He brought an All-Purpose Tool, a Bag of Holding, Gloves of Missile Snaring (Spell Snaring), Bell Branch, Butcher's Bib, Horseshoes of Speed, Mizzium Mortar, Ventilating Lungs, Speaking Stones, Staff of Bird Calls, Wand of Scowls, Wand of Smiles, three Rings of Loyalty, a set of five Candles of the Deep. We purchased the Bag for us, Tool for Tadlo, Gloves and Lung for Ospher, Mortar for Servos, and everything else minus the Bib, Rings, and Candles for use in the school since we would need to teach the children how to use and create magical items and the other items would have innocuous results if abused.  
"So what exactly is it?"
"A magical all-purpose tool."
"But that can mean so many things."
— Ospher interrogating Trevor
"See Ospher you should be more open to commerce like Adjenna. she is ready to buy! Like this beautiful velvet bag."
— Trevor, the salesman
"One thing that I know that you have gotten yourselves into is guns, I have a gun!"
eyes narrowing "Who was it that told you?"
"I... know what I know, I have my sources and they are reliable yes. I didn't hear a denial about gun love!"
— Trevor showing Adjenna we have a leak in trust
"It's called Mizzium Mortar, very proud of this piece. Killed many people, allegedly."
"Can any of those be traced back to you?"
"No, it's antique. Barely functions if they ask."
"Of course."
— Trevor selling Ospher on the latest ancient guns
"Maybe just for you, but think of all your bloodthirsty friends that you keep here with children."
"I resent that you would consider any of them bloodthirsty."
"I have talked to your bird friend, he craves blood."
"He craves brains."
"You can't get the brain without some blood first."
— Trevor selling Ospher on the Butcher's Bib
  He explained that he had been attempting to develop some new varieties of manacite, specifically one that would be minty, one that was raspberry, and one that would poison the user. The venomous Manacite, as he called it, was designed to be indistinguishable at a glance from regular manacite, while the flavored ones both had a little bit of a faint scent of mint about them. Thinking maybe he was joking with us, I cast a cantrip using his venomous manacite and learned quite quickly he was not, sickened immediately with nausea and gut churning, I handed him back the piece, impressed. Trevor did mention the rings of loyalty came from certain high-ranking members of the Black Thorns, which was interesting and terrifying.  
"I have been working on two very interesting things with manacite. First: flavored. When you use it, you get a flavor in your mouth. It's nice. Minty is what I'm working on right now. Second: poison. It's like a trick for your enemy, it functions like manacite, but also it poisons them."
"Say that again?!"
"It makes them very sick!"
— Trevor telling Ospher about his breakthrough in manacite manufacture
"You?! I just told you it is poisonous!"
"I had to know."
"Now you know, and you're going to poop funny for a day!"
— Trevor and Adjenna
"For a day? That is potent indeed."
"I don't know, I haven't tried my own!"
— Ospher and Trevor
"You could mount it on your roof!"
"Yeah, we could mount it anything, but..."
"Like a horse cart!"
"Or a flying horsecart..."
— Trevor telling Adjenna about the mortar while she slowly sells herself on it
"Or my familiar."
"Alright then." Trevor starts putting the lid back on the box.
"Wait wait. Let's not be hasty."
— Ospher, Trevor, and Adjenna on our final plans for the Mizzium Mortar
  While finalizing the deal, Charity noticed McAllister Greasome sitting patiently in the waiting area and based on my prior dealing with him at the The Twelve Carrots I figured he might be here specifically to speak with me. After some brief catching up, he explained that he had come to us to find out if he could hire us for a task, his sister Lauren's son Toddish had been missing a few days and he fancied himself as an adventuring type. He went missing in City Center, of course, as Greasome guessed he thought he would be able to duck below the surface and uncover something powerful down there to make him a proper adventurer. He'd been missing for two nights, and best that he knew, he went in alone.  
"Bonjour mon ami, who's watching The Carrot?"
"My staff, of course, they can handle things. It's good to have good staff, which it looks like you have come to learn and appreciate as well."
— Adjenna and Mcallister
"Little did I expect when you came in with that little old man with his oatmeal for every meal that you would be opening such a fine establishment as this."
"Much of the future was obfuscated by Digby himself, yes."
"Well, uh, I haven't seen the old man around in a while, I hope he's well."
Adjenna smiles and doesn't reply
— Mcallister and Adjenna
"My sister is worried as hell about him, and you're the only people I can think of who do that sort of thing."
— Mcallister Greasome on his former customers
"I don't have much to spare, but I could pay you maybe 75 gold? If you got the time, of course, I know you got a business man in there and you're busy."
— Mcallister on how to compensate us
"Greasome is saying his nephew went missing and has likely climbed down into the sewers beneath City Center."
"Wait what why?"
"What this man needs is a fine menacing lantern to find his missing son or nephew or whatever the relation is. The last one don't care"
— Adjenna, Ospher, and Trevor on Mac's family plight
Charity is mouthing Dead at Adjenna after hearing the story
"I don't want to alarm you, but your nephew is very much in danger."
"Oh, that's what I was hoping not to hear. Sister's gonna real worked up when she knows that."
— Ospher and Greasome
  Just then, Love popped her head in to explain we had some impatient guests here to see us as well, I left Greasome in the office with Ospher, Trevor, and Charity and went with her. Representatives from the Grand Order of the Lion had arrived with a well dressed bookish individual adorned with spectacles, someone I've never seen before at the Order house in town and accompanied by 4 armed Lions with three prisoners, bound, chained, two younger women and a very scruffy and rough looking kid. He introduced himself as Arvis Vergon and explained that the Abbey would be the only place safe enough to hold magical prisoners since the Kreastos has regularly failed to hold talented people and they're forbidden to keep prisoners within the bounds of Frial. One of the prisoners, one of the women with multicolored hair, was mocking him silently which seemed to be a habit of hers he was familiar with, as he drew a long crocheting-type needle from his suit jacket and poked her with it, causing her to immediately pass out onto the stone floor, and immediately be drowned in night terrors as she was crying, twitching, and shrieking in her sleep(?).  
"The Order of the Lion is here, I'm going to go stop them before they get too far in."
"Busy day!"
— Adjenna and Ospher
"You're Adjenna, yes? We haven't met in person but your reputation precedes you."
"Thank you."
"I am Arvis Vergon. With the Grand Order of the Lion."
"It looks busy here today so I won't take up too much of your time. These are prisoners of the Magical variety, and we, by charter of the city, are not allowed to imprison anyone, and handling them over to the Kreastos will just mean them escaping from the Kreastos, so we're bringing them to you."
— Arvis and Adjenna's first meeting and requirements
"Included are 250 gp per prisoner for housing, fees, and purposes so they are yours now."
— Arvis explaining how it is going to be
  He went on to explain what he knew about them and that they would have detailed reports from one of their Captains who arrested the lot of them made available to us later in the week, but for now a summary:
  • The boy - Ebbo Dobb was possessed of Druidic talents and capable of transforming into a ravenous boar. Arrested in the plains south of Frial while participating in "The Hungry Games" organized by goblins.
  • The passed out woman on the floor - Nika was a rather notorious thief and adept at escaping her bonds, and possessed of a grating voice as well as some magical abilities and sees and invisible thing that grants her some of her powers. Supposedly stole something from Seagravia Gelt and may have sparked a war?
  • The final woman, very quiet - Bailey Peach a cannibal who carved into the shoulder of one of the Lions and supposedly ate a piece of his bone like a potato chip. Also apprehended in part of "The Hungry Games" by the scouting party sweeping back through the south plains.
"So they are yours now, my suggestion to you is probably to execute them, if you choose. We cannot. It just caused so much of a kerfuffle in the city with the Kreastos, so you understand, politics and all what with your aldermen being involved."
"Did people see you marching these people here through the streets with them in shackles??"
"Well, the citizens of your district are the sort that don't regularly vote or read, so I think we're safe."
— Arvis and Adjenna
"Probably technically speaking, you as a... school? aren't supposed to have prisoners either, but you're equipped to do it and less eyes are upon you because you reside in a slum."
— Arvis explaining why they came here
"...and he is capable of transforming into a ravenous boar. So you know, use a silver noose."
— Arvis on Ebbo Dobb
"So all are dangerous, the thief on the floor could potentially have started a war that could end the city, so also something we will deal with."
— Arvis casually mentioning Seagravia's impending march
"The boy and the cannibal were apprehended south of the city, participating something my men called the hungry games. Put on by some goblins or something."
— Arvis on Ebbo and Bailey
  Moreover, Arvis said the Grand Order would look upon this as them owing us a favor, atop the payment, and produced a ledger accepting the three of them, the monies, and the warm light of Sandor's devotee's appreciation. I signed with an 'X' to keep Charity out of trouble in the event their records are ever witnessed. I led them to the cellar with Love trailing while calling for Dalyn to meet me down there. Ebbo tried to fight getting in the cell, growling and making some feral squeals, promising revenge on behalf of him and his totem spirits; Bailey went in peacefully, sat in the corner of the cell and pacing and admitted to eating a piece of someone's shoulder; while Nika remained asleep/unconscious.  
"So we're taking prisoners now??"
"Find Neville and have him determine if anyone saw these folks get brought in. And check with Nimoy too."
"This is exciting! Like year two of Wizard school stuff and we're not even there yet!."
— Love Birdie and Adjenna
"What was that all about?"
"The Grand Order of the Lion has forcibly asked us for a favor and we're doing it."
"I don't, is that a favor then?"
"Yes, forcibly."
"Okay, I don't like that."
"Neither do I but it's done and they provide a majority of our funding."
— Charity and Adjenna
"OK, so what is it?"
"Three prisoners in our cells. Dalyn's watching them at the moment."
"Lots more info to come, you're going to be even more surprised, I promise."
"Okay." Charity gestures everywhere. "We're a school?!"
whispering "He said we could kill them whenever we want."
"Oh, no better! We're a school!"
"That's what they think of us! That's what they think of us! It's really strange! Kind of makes me feel like something about the relationship isn't so shiny and positive anymore."
— Charity and Adjenna on what the hell just happened
  Charity went to go find Brightshine to find out more about who Arvis is within the Grand Order, while I went back into the office with Ospher and briefly considered directing Greasome to the Gold Crests and Diedrich Sauer, but ultimately, we used the Eye of Basul, watching it shimmer through the levels of the city until we saw it come to focus on an unconscious young man, covered in a lot of scratches, bruises, wounds with a gassy haze about the area with a lot of screechy chattering in the area. The ground beneath him appeared to be broken masonry in the style of what the foundation under Frial looked like, from descriptions. We asked for more details now that Trevor had departed following our transaction and while considering how we could get into the sewers without detection by the Rat King, we asked Greasome to wait for us to put some things together and contact the other people in the Order of the Basilisk. Charity professed to knowing the sewers path the best, besides Irufan or Basilocke, and we didn't want to tell him no or send him to some other Circle, knowing they might ask for more than he has or something far more sinister. It was with just the three of us in the room, I explained that the Grand Order has burdened us with some prisoners, which left the others feeling shocked that I agreed to it, but the damage was done and I didn't see much of a point in arguing with the Grand Order in light of our stellar past with them, this time.  
"Okay, I asked Brightshine, its very hard to talk to him, but that guy is a very high ranking member of the Grand Order, who his normal role has to do with loyalty? I dunno, sounds very Locklander-y to me."
"I think, we're passing this test for them."
"Yeah, I'm sure, but it's a creepy role to have, see who believes in your message or whatever."
— Charity and Adjenna on Arvis' role in the Lions
"Right, anyway, Ospher. Adjenna has something she wants to tell you."
"Right we can discuss this after we handle Mr. Greasome's matter here."
"Oh right, I forgot cause so many things are happening.. Sorry Greasome."
— Charity trying to remove herself from the conversation about Prisoners while Adjenna reminds her that we have other business to attend first
"He is deep down into the foundations of the city Greasome."
"Oh yeah, he has a way of getting where shouldn't be."
"It would take several hours to reach where he may be."
"If you're too busy, I'll just go grab my broadsword and do what I can."
"An ancient magical force resides down there."
"Oh yep, they always do, mmm-hmm."
"And it has a specific vendetta to pick with us."
"Oh yeah, I got those."
"Several of our friends were transformed into rats by the king."
"You don't say."
"You're taking this very well. I understand you're a very world weary man, but I don't want you to go down there and die."
"I can't leave that kid, I love the little bastard. Plus my sister would tan my hide!"
"Why is it your responsibility?"
"Well, she ain't gonna go? I'm the man here."
"Right, but you didn't put all this stuff in his head?"
"Well he hands around at the Carrot and you know, we get a lot of adventurers coming and going. So I'm sure that's where he picked up the notion."
— Adjenna and Mcallister on why this all happened
"In the meantime while we wait for them, there's no reason for you to wait and not partake in any of our cafeteria's finest. For as many times as we've had your hospitality."
"I'll happily head over there for sure, smells mighty fancy in there!"
— Ospher and Mcallister on what Mac can do while we wait on info from Neville and Tyrom
"Maybe we send him to the Ebon Orchestra? Going into the sewers is sort of their thing."
"That is true."
"I mean, yes to play games with the lives of people."
— Adjenna, Ospher, and Charity consider sewer experience
"All the same that is experience."
"One of whom we allow in as a friend?"
Ospher adds sheepishly "She hasn't done anything like that lately."
— Ospher and Charity discuss Janka
"Ospher, we have three prisoners from the Grand Order of the Lion."
"What! Why'd they bring them here?"
"Their charter forbids prisoners, supposedly."
"And we just spent their money didn't we!? So it's too late to even go back on the deal."
— Adjenna and Ospher on facets of the deal and if we can renege
"We just spent a bunch of money that we got from... people trading?"
"Why didn't they take them to the Kreastos?"
— Charity and Ospher have questions
"So what are we supposed to do with them?"
"They weren't super clear, I asked if this was indefinite, but I assume the money was to take care of them if we kept them."
"Take care? Or" Charity pantomimes strangling and neck snapping "Take care?"
— Ospher, Adjenna, and Charity on the particulars of the arrangement
"He did say that he recommended executing all three of them."
"Oh. Oh. Oh!"
"We are not a proper prison! Just because we have cells doesn't mean we are a prison."
— Adjenna, Charity, and Ospher
"Are we interrogating them? Are we all taking turns? I've never interrogated anyone, I don't even know how to do that."
— Charity
"I shouldn't have played that Manacite, I'm gonna go lay down. I had to know!"
"That's fair."
"If I knew I could have gotten out of it, I would have used the poison one too!" Charity longingly stares at a piece of poisoned manacite
— Adjenna, Ospher, and Charity
  I went to go try to rest in the mudbaths leaving Ospher and Charity to confirm the information we were given by Arvis as well as figure out anything else we could that was relevant to what exactly to do with these people. Down towards the cages in the storage room, Charity and Ospher walked in on the tableau of Dalyn, knocked unconscious next to her cage while she was attempting to pick the lock from the inside and she immediately put her hands behind her back with a pile of chains behind her on the floor that she had been wrapped up in. After checking on him and bringing him to consciousness, he said she was thrashing on the floor saying she needed help and he came over to help when she hit him with the shackles. They discussed why exactly she was locked up and she seemed very forthright about all the crimes, while not considering much of them to be crimes, and argued for her freedom.  
"It was like that when I got here."
"What was like that when you got here?"
"This man, with a head injury."
"What did you do."
— Nika and Ospher
"Hey, can I ask you a question?"
"That's why we're down here, we'll have to ask you questions too."
"Can I just go? Like nobody seems to be really into this. No ones heart is in being a prisoner or a warden, so why don't we just not do this?"
"That's a good point."
"I saw a bunch of kids upstairs having the time of their life. I'm guessing that takes up a lot of your time and it's probably important. And everything's joyless and grey down here, why are even doing that?"
"Prisons tend to be joyless and grey."
"Do you want to run a prison?"
"Absolutely not."
"I don't want to be a vital part of the prison process either."
"So let's start at the beginning then, why should we let you go?"
"Well I think I made a pretty convincing argument, that neither of us want to being doing this doing this, that seems like a pretty gone one."
"Right, I also don't want to be responsible for whatever it is you might do if we let you free. So you see from our perspective that's also a problem."
— Nika really trying to run circles around Ospher, unsuccessfully
"Look, you've probably killed monsters before and I'm sure you've probably been through their pockets and probably taken the things that they had. I didn't even kill anybody. Would people be more mad at me if I killed her? Probably not."
— Nika attempting to justify the righteousness of her action
"A least a few people would be very upset if you killed her."
"I can't help it if people have a weird monster fetish."
"But to steal from them??"
"They're free game! They don't vote you know? They don't belong to anybody."
— Ospher explaining that Seagravia has friends to Nika
"The point is that you took something that wasn't your, but laying that aside weather or not it was right or wrong from a moral standpoint that you stole from a giant, you did cause an attack on a city that ended up residing in for a night. I would assume that people died in this attack, otherwise this would be so serious."
— Ospher to Nika
"What is it that you were trying to do, stealing from a giant?"
"Oh, get real rich."
— Ospher and Nika
"I was gonna come here and see if I could fence the thing to all the magic weirdos that live here."
"You're right about Frial, there are a lot of magic weirdos."
"Are you a magic weirdo?"
"I have been known to dabble, yes."
— Nika explaining the extent of her lack of plan to Ospher
"I'm going to have to think about this, but if what you say is true, you certainly don't deserve to be executed. But it certainly doesn't sound like you're going to go out there and live a decent lifestyle not stealing from people."
— Ospher on Nika's situation
"I don't know, I'm trying to make a case here, we can definitely be buds, I'd be a nice thief for hire. I dunno you want something inappropriate, I'm here for it, what do you want?"
— Nika explains exactly everything she's willing to do to be out of the cells
"OK but when you compare all of the people here, it's crazy that you're holding me. Those people" Nika gestures at Dobb and Peach "are monsters and I actually helped capture those people by the way. I'm kind of a hero by the way. That kid is a pig kid. A disgusting swine-y pig kid. And that lady there is a fucking cannibal. And not only is she a cannibal, but she's a fascist, she's from Lockland."
— Nika hoping she's the cream of the crop
"If you helped capture them, then why did they bring you here to be locked up?"
"Yeah, exactly. Doesn't make sense to me either, want to sort it out together on the other side of the cell?."
"No, I get the impression that you would do me like you did my good captain here and then run out of the school, probably taking a bunch of stuff that didn't belong to you on the way out."
"I dunno, do you have nice forks?"
"I have very nice forks.
— Ospher and Nika
  After Nika wore herself out trying to tie up Ospher in logical and illogical knots, Conrin came in from when I called him earlier, surprised to see Bailey and Ebbo here as well. He explained the last meeting between them and him to Ospher and Charity and explained a little bit of the druidic cultistry connecting his beliefs and Ebbo's and the likely connection to Bailey that he felt back in the south. Ebbo confessed to being a part of The Savage in the midst of the discussion as well, giving us a direction to probe in the future when trying to figure out more about this errant small child.  
"I think we should board up her cell or something."
"Wow! I think that would kill her!"
"Leave a hole Ospher, we're in charge of children, I know how to keep people alive."
— Charity and Ospher on Nika after a very frustrating conversation with her
"Cheese and crackers! What are they doing here?!"
"Well professor, they're prisoners."
"Oh yeah, I'm familiar with these two."
— Conrin and Ospher on Ebbo and Bailey
"Is 'taking Milka down south' some kind of sick wizard school code for something?? It sounds real fun."
— Nika to anyone that would listen to her
"Never seen her before in my life."
"That's cause I work in the shadows."
— Conrin and Nika
"What do you suggest we do with them if they're as dangerous as you say?"
whispered by Nika "Let Nika go..."
"I can't rightly say that I'm a person you should ask that of, on account of my checkered past."
— Ospher, Nika (clearly), and Conrin on the Hungry Games prisoners
"Maybe there's a home for these two, somewhere in the world, but maybe you just pull them out, off Acorn Way and uhhh make sure something heavy falls on them, something silver and heavy for the one over there." Conrin points at Ebbo
— Conrin regarding Bailey and Ebbo
"We didn't take 250 gold per person to murder people, this is a school!"
— Charity, focused on the wrong part, sorta
"Nature is cruel! The weak are for the strong to devour!"
— Ebbo regarding the traders they intended to kill, and in Ebbo's case, did kill
"You said silver, are you suggesting that he's a lycanthrope?"
"That's a word! A classification you use to feel like you have some power, naming something."
— Ospher and Ebbo on some of the mysteries at work here
"You'd start a war if you lay a finger on me! Not just a war here on Tairos, but in the heavens as well, the animal spirits will eat you alive! I will be the future Maw!"
"That's if they know you're here for one, and for two you know they're not coming here looking to find you. Don't try to lie to these fuckers."
— Ebbo and Conrin on the Totem Spirits limited reach on Tairos
"I'm proud of this hire, he knows his stuff, a solid 8 out of 10."
"I'm proud of all of our employees."
"I mean he loses two points for suggesting we kill people at the end of the street."
— Charity and Ospher on Conrin's performance appraisal
"I'll take that eight, yeh."
— Conrin
"You have no loyalty, none at all!"
"Look at you, stuck behind this cage of impotence."
"I'll chew right these bars!"
"Start on it, mate! Come out!" laughing and talking to Nika "How long you think it'll take him, 15 gold says longer than a day."
— Ebbo and Conrin
"I don't think he's gonna get through it, he'll break his jaw?"
"He'll regenerate them teeth though."
"Man, this brig is action-packed, I love it."
— Nika and Conrin on Ebbo
  Moving onto Bailey, she admitted to everything as well. She claimed that she had went to join in the "Hungry Games" in order to get a special prize promised by the goblins, c'est à dire, Milka. This doesn't track with what Rashua, Yelemar, and especially Conrin heard from their surreptitious observation of the conversation with the crowned Goblin of the wasp clan; the "Games" were convened before any of them had seen Milka and while they were ambushed in a glade while resting for the night, they couldn't have seen them long beforehand and for Bailey to have arrived from Frial as far south as they were, she would have needed a whole day's worth of travel, as well as the goblin mentioning the prize changed. Ospher mentioned that he noticed a number of small scratch marks and teeth marks on her exposed skin that were healing rapidly. She explained that these were from her pact with Hyena that in order to 'voice' its displeasure with her, it can superficially but materially harm her for not doing as their agreement was supposed to be, the cannibalism(s).  
"Uh hi, my name is Bailey, Bailey Peach. This is all, it's not a mistake, I mean I did the thing. I did the thing."
"You ate somebody."
"It's just a piece. I needed a piece to keep it calm. I went down there for the best reasons."
— Bailey and Ospher
"So I have to eat people."
"We've established that, yeah."
"I'm not super proud of it, but also, it tastes amazing in a way that I can't explain. It all started when I found this scalpel and now there's a thing in my head and sometimes it appears in the dark and it looks like a big dog thing and it tells me I have to eat people sometimes."
— Bailey explaining to Ospher she is just a standard run of the mill serial killer
  The knife she claimed is at the root of her connection to Hyena is something she can call to her hand whenever she wants, it appeared to be made of almost some kind of fang, blackish in color and irresponsibly sharp. She went on to say that while the thing she made a deal with compels her to consume humanoid flesh, it doesn't pick, she has to do that, so she tries to choose the worst people in the city. She also explained that she runs an illegal clinic in Trentpoole, performing surgeries on the cheap for the destitute in the district and elsewhere under the guise of a medical spa since she cannot afford legal credentialing after her schooling, and that she had a surgery scheduled for tomorrow.  
"She's got a weapon!"
— Nika attempting to get Bailey hurt while trying to pick the lock
"If it makes any difference, I don't eat anybody that doesn't deserve it. The thing doesn't care who I eat so I try and direct it. And I know that sounds terrible to say 'I'm the one whose deciding who needs to get eaten' but I have a pretty good barometer who is a shitty person that the world won't miss."
— Bailey Peach with a surprising revelation regarding her cannibalism
"You run a clinic while eating human flesh?!"
"I've never eaten a patient, if that's what you're suggesting. I run a free clinic in Trentpoole for mostly underprivileged kids."
— Ospher and Bailey
"Again, I'm trying to be as honest as possible, I did eat one kid, I did eat one kid. But he was the first person I ever ate, and that kid deserved it. And I know what that sounds like, you can't say a kid deserves to be eaten, but that kid deserved to be eaten, he was..."
"We are done here!"
"They were Lords of Trentpoole, I know what happens when kids join that gang and he wasn't gonna grow up to be some bright, shiny, something."
"Are the Lords aware of what you've done??"
"Ate a kid?"
"Or anything within their territory??"
"They know I run a clinic."
— Bailey and a horrified Ospher
"And I'm not a fascist like she says! I was born in Lockland, but I've lived in Frial my whole life, my family left when I was three. I love halflings!"
"That sounds like something a fascist would say, for sure. I bet she loves eating halflings."
— Bailey and Nika
  Ospher knew that this pact sounded like something that people will make with demons and otherworldly entities in exchanging power and weapons for service, and usually, but not always, willingly. Deciding he'd had enough, Ospher set Servos to watch the three of them (mostly Nika) instead of Dalyn and the three of them left. Charity immediately came by to catch me up and then went off to teach one of her courses, while I tracked down Love and Neville in the kitchen, along with Greasome and, unsurprisingly, Janka who was working up a fancy salad. Neville was able to clarify quickly that no one had seen the Grand Order drag these people in with their vanguard, which was a relief. Neville wasn't aware of any surprising past of Mcallister being a terror with a blade or anything, as I was trying to determine the source of his confidence in braving the sewers. Checking back in on Toddish with the Eye, he was still passed out, but there were a lot of flickering lights now and what sounded like blasts of electricity.  
"I've got a class starting..."
"I feel like I do too. Good luck Ospher."
— Conrin and Charity trying to get away from all this
"I'm gonna go teach a class and forget that we're wardens now."
— Charity to Adjenna
"Yeah, nobody has mentioned anything. I'm super surprised this is what you're getting into, but hey if there's money in it, there's money in it. I'm thinking they were brought in through Bellhaven so there were less people to see. Who knows what your hobo spy network knows, but I'm thinking that's OK."
— Neville reporting that no one observed imprisoned people being brought in
"He's gonna go down there by himself if he doesn't have any help."
"Oh well he's gonna fuckin' die."
"Yeah that's what I said and it didn't dissuade him."
— Adjenna and Neville discussing Greasome
"The only expert on the sewer that I know is Charity now."
— Neville
  He mentioned Tyrom was over in our library, working with the sages that Ospher found and hired after vetting, and after I caught him up on what was happening in the sewers and with the Grand Order, Ospher walked in and we discussed that we ought to return Ebbo to The Savage in exchange for their prior help with the Rat King and Tyrom explaining that unless we were absolutely sure no one saw him, we could face retribution. He explained that while our circle tends to see a very united and coherent goal, we do each have separate pursuits and hunting humans and bloodsport may well just be Ebbo's hobby.  
"The sewers are often deemed too dangerous and not worth the price of admission."
"I feel like maybe this is the start of something, you know, that gut feeling sometimes?"
— Tyrom and Adjenna
  In light of that, Neville offered to look into what The Savage had publicly said about Ebbo without alerting anyone that we had him, which seemed like a good call to pay back the favor they did us. Neville was also aware of the Peach Girl's clinic in Trentpoole, confirming her wild story about helping kids for free under the LoT's nose, and only good things about her. Tyrom insisted that we were likely the experts of the sewers, much less the deep sewers towards the Rat King's lair and the Vault's ruined area. He thought he might be able to put some stuff together magically to make us appear as one of His rats, or maybe shunting our spirits into living dolls of some sort, he wold look into it and see what he could do. With this plan being worked, we agreed to check back in with Mcallister tomorrow after Tyrom did some work and we would venture into the sewers together.  
"That sounds like some warlock stuff: sometimes what you made a pact with turns out to be WAY not what you thought it was."
— Neville's experience with warlocks
"We do have an active gate..."
"Are... you gonna fling her through time and space?"
"No! I was just thinking aloud."
— Ospher and Neville on what to do with Bailey
"I was gonna say, I thought I was in the minority, but man, Ospher you make me feel good about it, thank you."
— Adjenna on assuming Ospher wants to throw Bailey to some other town
"Hey good bird, come over here nice bird. I got a worm for you."
— Nika trying to entice Servos while Ospher looked through its eyes
  That evening we checked in with a couple different people; Nimoy wasn't exactly happy with how much Bellhaven is changing because of the school. Every week another ruin is restored and another family moves into town and the regular alderman-led meetings near the school don't give his subjects the anonymity he wants. He expressed that he would definitely prefer that we don't continue to improve business from the school because the amount of money changing hands is enlivening the district away from how it used to be.   Addison confirmed a thief stole from Seagravia and was caught and the item returned by a Captain Rioter from The Grand Order of the Lion, but she also didn't mince words that Frial is old Gelt lands and belongs to her and that there's a mirror that's special to the Gelt family that they're coming to get. I was absolutely horrified at this revelation but kept that out of my voice while talking with her.  
  The following day, Tyrom came back with five bottles of potion he prepared that would do exactly as he had hoped, mask our presence in the sewers by making us 'feel' to be some of the Rat King's rats, just scurrying about near his domain and would also work as an inhibitor to his overwhelming mental presence near where his body is sleeping. And while someone who goes into the sewers that hadn't had contact with the Rat King might be safer than someone who has, there's still the potential to have him send subordinates after them. We settled on the three of us going, in addition to Greasome for obvious reasons, Janka as an additional sewer semi-expert and with her Counter Charm she wouldn't need a potion in his domain especially with her Ring of Mind Shielding, and Crisnos as an extra blade in case a fight down there is more martial in nature. He was willing to go as a change of pace in his and Brightshine's unsuccessful pursuit of Gutrot Wren.  
"You could give one of these to Brightshine and he's still gonna be real chatty and that's gonna give us away. Janka knows the sewers but for the wrong reasons. She could flip a switch down there and start hunting us."
— Charity on whom to bring with and give a non-detection potion
"I would feel better with Love down there than Janka, but all right."
"Are you absolutely certain about that assertion?"
"Love is incredibly inexperienced in the best circumstances."
"Janka is incredibly questionable."
"That's possible, she's also helped us on a number of occasions now. I don't see why she would suddenly turn on us at this point. If it had something to do with the Ebon Orchestra, your fears might be founded."
— Charity and Ospher on Janka's trustworthiness
"I've never been on prisoner duty, but I had a bird once?"
— Charity
"I've seen his handiwork, I know he's real, but the man is a ghost in this city."
— Crisnos on the hunt for Gutrot Wren
"He's only seen when he wants to be seen."
"Is that when he inhabits his victims and they look in a mirror and that's what they see; themselves, they're all Gutrot Wren?"
"I mean, they shit themselves, that's kind of his thing, it's not that highfalutin."
— Crisnos and Ospher on the mystery that is Wren
  In our kitchen, Janka was working on her latest culinary creation; gold-foiled cookies. While talking with her, she said she'd be happy to go with and explained that she had also discovered something recently in her research, today was Gailthithe Fui, referred in The Common Tongue as Stardust Day. In honor of it, she had prepared a gift for my oldest friend. She handed over a largish box that was similarly gold foiled, like the cookies (reasonably well done if brutal) and nicely wrapped. After a somewhat clumsy thank you, he opened the box to reveal a pretty old book titled Our History in halfling language, going over not only their histories, but also some ancient halfling recipes for holiday dishes.  
"We are just letting anyone ask for help now?"
— Janka in regards to the request coming from Greasome
"I know the sewers very well, we chase people down there, it's good fun."
— Janka never really helping her case
"Some people are still looking for Leopold."
"He still hasn't been found? Not even his body?"
— Janka and Ospher on one of the Orchestra Understudies we fought and left for dead around 5 months ago
"I thought it would be nice to celebrate the holiday of your people."
"I haven't celebrated that since I left home and that was years ago."
— Janka proving again to Ospher that she's very interested in him and his people for whatever reason, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more
"It's probably a skull..."
— Charity to Adjenna about Janka's gift
"Oh, that's very thoughtful, I can't say I have anything to give you, I wasn't expecting to celebrate Stardust Day."
"Oh that's alright, I figured nobody really celebrates it anyway, so it's a surprise!"
— Ospher and Janka
"If you need anything rare or weird you should go there."
— Janka on the bookstore in Schwartzwald District she bought it from, called Potter's Books
"This is very thoughtful Janka, thank you."
"Yes I know, I am very good friend."
— Ospher and Janka
"I find the gold foil to be ostentatious."
"Uhh, it's very good you mean. You should treat yourself right instead of feeding yourself such ugly garbage."
— Ospher and Janka on gold-foiled cookies, and food in general
"The sewer is always dangerous, ghosts, and jellow kings, rats, beggars."
— Janka playing one of these things in not like the others
  After a briefing with Tadlo and Lorgan on the capabilities of the three in the cells, and entrusting them our Tentacle Rod, we set off with Crisnos and Charity occupying opposing ends of the excitement spectrum (try to guess which is which!), and Janka put on a smock in case something disgusting gets on her. Neville told us earlier than the Kreastos constabulary is much more focused on guarding the construction materials as opposed to the damaged areas themselves, so that's where the majority of their time is spent. We traveled on foot to City Center, observing that there's been a lot of repair work completed to make the streets stable again, while buildings are still under repair or replacement as the case may be. We kept away from watching guards at Janka's direction, as she had the most experience at doing it and Greasome pointed out the crevice west of the Kreastos building that he overheard Toddish's plans mentioning.  
"Are these prisoners dangerous? They don't really look dangerous, but I guess no one really looks dangerous, well sometimes they do, but these two, they don't."
— Lorgan regarding Bailey and Nika
"This one is a cannibal and a fascist!"
"She's definitely one of those two things."
— Nika and Ospher, again regarding Bailey to Lorgan and Tadlo
"You're not dangerous, you're meat! You're fresh meat!"
"Please don't leave me in here, I'm not a cannibal like them. This one just announced that he's a cannibal and he loves it."
"We have something pressing to engage in, but when we get back I promise you we will not be treating the three of you the same."
— Ebbo, Nika, and Adjenna
"Sure sure, I get it. More pressing than giving someone the freedom that they're owed."
"You might find it ironic that we are going to do exactly that for somebody much more deserving I would imagine."
"...ouch. That's a hearty backstab there, warden."
"I stabbed you in the front, not the back."
"I can't tell, it went straight through."
— Nika and Ospher
  Shimmying down the jagged surfaces and broken slabs at the precipice, we ended our descent in a stale puddle of cold rain water. With winter rapidly approaching, the smells were on the decline, but it wasn't clear. Charity's time in the sewers, though brief, was necessary, she quickly led us from this offbranch tunnel towards one of the main connectors, where she pointed out a couple locations that she knew of encounter's with the pudding king's appendages. Around here, some of the water was frozen in shallower portions and due to the broken pipes and streets above connections had to be rerouted or closed so the water was very stagnant and Janka's sewer experience had never led her to these areas, she claimed.  
"It's usually nicer here. Not like nice, but sewer nice. Unlike the sewers of Trentpoole, where there's bodies and turds floating by."
— Janka on the sewer system being offline in this area
  We got to the ancient sealed doors of the Adamantite Kings and they were as impressive as she had described before. Scads of filigree, old Balmoran writing in a number of locations, and at first glance it looked as though somehow in the explosion and release of the mirror's power, the antediluvian magic had been damaged and seeped away, but Ospher noticed that there was yet magic here that had been purposefully concealed, and prepared to release its effect if someone tampered with the doors were opened again. Being the only person capable of working magical objects with my jewler's tools that I use in my arcanist studies, I set to work with some Bardic Inspiration from Janka and with the application of some divine magical power, believed I disrupted the runes successfully without alerting their creator. Greasome volunteered to open the doors and face whatever magical retribution awaited, but I told him such bravery wasn't necessary here.  
"You can do it, it's very easy to do!"
— Janka's inspiration song
  Opening the doors and suffering no noticeable effect, Charity quickly pointed out this area had changed significantly since the last time she came through here, a brackish slime coating everything and it smelled terrible, and lining the door on this side was a half dozen wrapped bodies embedded into the wall and somewhat corpse like as a kind of disgusting Rat King alarm system. Greasome, fully exposed to how much more serious this was than he originally guessed, expressed new worry for Toddish, but we consoled him, explaining that this alarm wasn't tripped and that there's so many honeycombed passages through that he may have bypassed this portion completely. We didn't explain that the rat-like bites he was covered in that we observed via scrying still worried us, but that was just to keep keep his spirits high.   With Nisaba's Blessing of the Trickster keeping Crisnos' armor noise to a minimum, Janka and Ospher guided the rest of us in stealthy navigation of this outer domain of the Rat King. With those two engaged, the rest of us attempted to keep our path in the right direction, but with the some of the passages appearing burned or even melted and other paths having had their exteriors being rebuilt as if by jellified fat and rat bones, highlighting the silent conflict underneath the streets of Frial. And as usual, it seems that we're the only ones aware of potential spillover. Somewhat lost, we happened upon a path Charity noticed that had a similarly disabled alarm and that things were starting to appear familiar to her again here. She and I resolved to scout ahead and check out the passage to make sure it was the right way since there were significantly denser rats in this direction, but she said she recalled this being the correct way.  
"Let me do it, I ain't afraid of no rats. I kill them in my bar all the time."
"These are ancient rats."
"Some of them are pretty big and pretty old. And they have nothing to do with the food Ospher. They just get into stuff, you know how it is."
"I do.'
"I ain't running no Pete-shack."
— Greasome and Adjenna on scouting out the area ahead
"I've done it before, guess I could do it again. I guess it would be nice to have some company though."
— Charity volunteering to Scout, staring at Adjenna
  Immediately in the nightmarish rat tunnel, we're surrounded by rats of various sizes and states of mutation scurrying along the floor in myriad routes. Many of them looked to have burns on their body at some place or another, pudding burns based on the caustic blistering's appearance. Shoving them aside for a place to set a foot down when absolutely necessary we traversed deeper and began to feel the tell tale sign of the Rat King's clawing at the edges of our minds, and while I kept her calm she conducted our search for the right avenue, passing birthing chambers, where cocoon like structures on the walls birthed rats by the hundreds, though not all of them birthed simple rats, there was one with larger pustules that ushered into existence a larger white rat that had a humanoid size, sliding down the ground. Here we could hear his whispers much more directly, akin to the time his corpse avatar addressed us in front of the school telling us he had kidnapped our friends.   At the next T-intersection, deep into a tunnelway, we could hear an almost heart-like beating echoing down the passageway which Charity said was his chamber. Going the other way, of course, we got away from the most puissant of his presence and began to author the directions on a Paper Bird and address it to Ospher. Releasing the bird to return to him, we began to notice what had been lurking outside our notice: some of the tunnels were capable of literally moving down here within his domain and had seeming began a reorganization partway through our trek. With the bird whipping ahead of us, we trailed far behind it, moving much quicker now in case they got cut off with the intent on trying to meet them partway so we wouldn't be stranded apart in his underground manse.   Ospher's group got the message and sped with all haste, Janka's Counter Charm, Ospher's stealth, and Crisnos' survival instinct bringing them to us near the Birthing Chambers where we witness more of the large white rats births and now they pulled protruding bones from the wall, wielding them like some sort of weapon as they exited into another direction at the Rat King's orders. We left his Warren behind with no further meddling from him or his verminous legions into at first regular sewers and slowly giving way and descending to the crumbles of the old city. The gigantic chamber was theoretically once on the surface and where Charity and Irufan once spoke of blocks of toppled and ruined buildings was now just a wasteland following the discharge of the mirror's power. Incinerated structures and rubble everywhere, debris hanging heavily in the air, and piquing our curiosity a strange magic vibrating in the air.  
"What were those rat people? I didn't know there were rat people?"
"That's something I don't want to know more about."
— Charity and Adjenna
"So are we on the side of the Pudding King in their war?"
"No good choice in either direction here."
"Well, you've accepted the Circle of the Basilisk into the house, and they seem like direct enemies of the Pudding King."
— Charity, Ospher, and Crisnos on the Pudding King - Rat King conflict
"I wonder how much actual animus the Pudding King has towards surface worlders?"
"That's... not the goal for tonight, right? Or is it?"
— Adjenna and Charity on mission creep for the evening
"From an academic standpoint, I'm curious."
"Ospher, one heroic thing at a time, it's Stardust Night!"
— Ospher and Janka on the Pudding King's sapience
  Checking back in with scrying on Toddish, we observed some furry hands reaching towards his face and they removed his eye and replaced it with something mechanical instead that would do something that maybe Bianca could guess at. From his immediate surroundings, it looked like he was somewhere in the massive runescape down here, and to my keen eyes I could pick out some similar structures over towards where Charity directed that the Adamantite King's Vault lay near the epicenter of the original explosion. We navigated the broken masonry and wreckage and felt something quite strange as we drew closer, a feeling like the Leylines that feed our world were nearly normal here.  
"It used to be nicer? And then the mirror blew up. So yeah, I don't know."
— Charity navigating the ancient ruins
"How's Toddish doing? Can you see?"
"He's alive."
"Oh that's a relief, I can't take another brow beating from his mom, good good good."
— Mcallister and Adjenna, not mentioning the missing eye and tubing going into Toddish's skull
  In light of that, Ospher, being the Manacite virtuoso that he is, knew that attempting to tap the Leylines here would be chaotic, akin to intentionally overloading a spell with Manacite. Pulling out the Mana Guage that Bianca secured for us, it showed that we seemed to be in a whirl of varying levels of intensity, and based on my understanding, that time itself was in somewhere of a knot down here, with it being able to power spells on the chonometric friction of it attempting to right itself. After some brief consideration, I attempted to commune with my god in the standard way that I am granted by being her chosen representative on Tairos, and in spite of some blurring and skew to the communication, it was significantly clearer and less impressionary than I've ever felt before.   Nisaba conveyed that there were still many items of great prowess down here and that we should be careful to not let anyone else take them or put them to wild use in Frial above. She also had the impression that there was a lot of strangeness going on down here due to the explosion, though in what regard she meant, she couldn't elaborate. Checking with Crisnos, he said he didn't really know why something felt off, but it did, though Correllon hadn't said anything to him, but Crisnos expressed that he was ignorant in how to communicate with his divine benefactor. I was surprised, considering I'd ever had quite the miracle worked like Crisnos had manifested in front of us back in The Hole and explained to the others that he needed some time to attempt this communication in light of clarity I'd felt.  
"Can you feel it?"
"It feels off, well I mean everything feels off for a different way down here, but it feels off."
"Has he warned you about anything?"
"I... really haven't thought to listen. I never really hear from him regularly, I can feel things but I mean. You hear a voice?"
"He's not reaching out to me I guess?"
— Adjenna and Crisnos on their divine connections
"I don't have anything to experiment with, but it's nice to know this place exists. Maybe I could make a time zombie?"
— Janka and Ospher on the available leyline underground
  While Janka set about trying to convince Ospher to gold foil some cookies he was going to bake, in between telling stories she read from the book she gifted to him during a brief break, I gave Crisnos some direction as he knelt to commune with Corellon The Dawn Master and after a few minutes he began limning with a starry radiant energy that built and then coalesced into the ancient scimitar he carried that we gave him from the abbey back when we rescued him from Becklinburg. As he regained his composure afterwards from the exuberant rush of emotion, he explained his vision involving a boat that journeyed across the stars and a voice leading the way. He then was in a contemplative mood, clearly profoundly affected by it and confessed to me later that he now knew he had started down the wrong path, hunting and killing Fae.  
"I can hear him! I can hear him!"
— Crisnos during communion with Corellon
"Much of what I'm doing has been wrong.It's not the way that he would have wanted it."
"We have very different faiths, but it is good to know that you have an open mind in all of this."
"I need to make amends somehow, I shouldn't have hunted so many of them down, they didn't deserve it for purely being Fae."
— Crisnos and Adjenna
"Another dubious ally."
"I wouldn't consider her an ally, but Cassieopea has Fae contacts in Frial."
— Charity and Adjenna on Cassie
"Oh that's true. Do we have extra prison cells just in case?"
"Our dungeon is already kind of big for a school."
— Charity and Ospher
  Returning to our search, we closed in on the epicenter of the magical power's release to where the vault once stood, and to our surprise, despite the power we witnesses erupting to the streets above, some of the vault was still intact. Most of the dome shape was present, but cracked and broken into many pieces, and even the statue, though melted from exposure to the power, was mostly present as well. After regarding the scene of Donovo's possible death with some solemn looks, we combed the area, looking for clues to where Toddish had gotten. Ospher noticed some recent tracks in the ground in some of the fine debris littering the ground, but not boot prints, something like a large paw, and human-sized and a great many of them leading inside the dome. While he studied these and attempted to cipher what could have made them, I noticed a very faint and occasional flash emanating from the cracks in the dome and heard a faint metallic clanking on stone.  
"Do you want to say a prayer for him? I can play a song as well."
"He may not be dead."
"Well, then I hope he's ok."
— Janka and Ospher on Donovo
  We sought after the tracks first, entering the dome through a fairly large crevice in the side of it, and started to hear noises akin to mechanical noises and sparking like electricity that we would hear from Bianca's experiments from time to time. Within the dome, we were surprised to find that the floor of the structure had basically collapsed and that this was the edge of a vast hole, and the flashing light and noises I spotted were coming from the bottom where we heard a great commotion. Equally surprising were some peculiar crystals that were growing from the sides of this hole, some growing through the floor, where the dome met the ground, many growing from the dome itself, a multitude of strange translucent crystals. Ospher being an encyclopedia of things natural and not, he knew these were absolutely unnatural, and knew that the clarity suggested that they were possessed of very few, if any, impurities in their structure, and that they grew very quickly based on some of the cracking patterns inherent.   From an arcane standpoint, these crystals were likely the source of, or at least contributing to the chronometric energy radiating in the area. Perhaps condensed chronometric energy from the explosion or even a result of a release of that magnitude. I found a piece that looked to be about the size of a drinking glass and attempted to snap it off, resulting in a silvery arc of energy erupting from the stone overloading me with a deluge visions of time and the lands of Tairos (saved vs INT DC 15, 4d12 dmg). After experiencing snippets of millennia, I then stood stupefied and attempted to scrape my ego back together from the hurricane that swept through my brain. Ospher grabbed a piece as well and suffered similar effects, considering it was something novel, he wanted a piece to study and compare to other types of mana providing mechanica we've discovered as well. Inspired, Crisnos drew his blade, slicing a chunk off another wall, but getting an additional piece and Janka broke off a piece and unlike the three of us, could not withstand the strength of the mental assault, and besides the trauma was left very much depleted by the instance.  
"Do you think the Orchestra would want one?"
"That's entirely up to you."
"I should be good member and bring them something nice, it's Stardust day!"
— Janka and Ospher on a crystal for the Orchestra
  We all descended into the hole atop Charity and my Brooms of Flying, and Ospher carried himself with the Phantom's Caress, with the light getting brighter and brighter and the machine noises getting louder until we finally came into an almost pocket beneath the vault with crystals growing everywhere. These crystals were much larger, the smallest of them as big as Janka's divan in her room at the Theater, and more, we discovered many unrecognizable creatures using very complex machinery to harvest them from their growth structures down here. They were barely Ospher's height, a combination of animal looks between Badger-Skunk-Vermin, adorned with shambles of junk armor. Their machines seemed to serve multiple different types of purpose, one overloading them to shatter them into smaller, more manageable sizes, another draining them of their power. Dozens of these 'skunkoids' were then scooping up these chunks and putting them in wheelbarrows and walking them to an open area and then vanishing, as if entering a magical portal leading somewhere else deeper in Tairos, best I could guess from afar.   Assessing the area besides, many of the skunkoids and swords or blades that they had on their persons, though sheathed, so it seemed less likely that were were weapons that could serve in war as well. It was around this point as Ospher prepared to cast Comprehend Languages, we began to notice the odor wafting off these creatures, it was strong and definitely like a skunk, as we had termed them, but wasn't very concentrated here by the ventilation shaft but I expected it to get worse and quickly. Ospher walked up to the nearest one of these creatures and greeted it, resulting in it removing its goggles protecting it's beady eyes from the bright light of it's electrical sparks and spoke to him in a series of hisses and belch-like noises. A couple of others walked up to join in the spectacle to see who was talking down here as they had been very silent besides their work, as we just now noticed with some of the noise dying down from these three stopping. Crisnos' Divine Sense told him that their intentions were anything but kind.   There was one with very mangy fur and splotches of sickened skin had a clockwork eye regarding us as well and chittered back and forth to the others, which Ospher understood to be them remarking to one another how revolting we looked to them. This augmented one then spoke with Ospher and explained after a bit that they had seen Toddish, but he was theirs now and they were 'harvesting' him. Ospher's pleas for assistance in not harvesting the boy were heard and the skunkoid directed us to 'The Engineer' and bade us to bring no weapons and we stashed everyone's weapons in a Bag of Holding, which the skunkoid didn't react to and nodded approvingly as we visibly complied and then followed them deeper into their camp.  
"What are these things?! We should have taken that rest, I'm not feeling so good."
"If this is the worst we see down here, then consider yourself lucky."
— Mcallister Greasome and Ospher upon seeing the Skunkoids
"No humans down here. Why you here? Why?"
"I apologize for our intrusion, but we're looking for a friend that went missing down here."
after some brief glances at one another "No friends here, ours. This us, ours."
"Oh yes, it's all yours. But I wonder if you've seen him." Ospher then describes Toddish to the skunkoid
"Yes, seen him yes."
— Ospher and a Skunkoid
"I ain't going with them without a weapon, and you shouldn't either."
quietly only to Crisnos "I am a weapon."
"I respect your confidence my friend, but there's a lot of them."
— Crisnos and Ospher on leaving weapons behind before meeting the Engineer
  With the ventilation shaft back to the vault far from us now, the smell was significantly concentrated, and while nearly everyone could handle it, the mental strain from earlier put on Janka left her unprepared to summon the resolve here to conquer her olfactory overload. She retched without significant production and did manage to keep it quiet with Ospher's help as we were all led to the center of the skunkoid operations, passing by larger pieces of equipment, devices that were on horse carts as well as wheels of a design that used many with a sort of belt wrapped around the wheel and provide their own locomotion. As they carved out the rock and revealed more crystalline buildup in the earth itself, we noticed that with the size and seemingly brutal nature of the extraction, they very rarely had any flashes of temporal energy discharging into their workers. That said, we spotted the occasional corpse of their labor force, abandoned and charred and left, seemingly, to rot away from where they were focusing their work.   The Engineer himself adorned with many more mechanical pieces than the one that led us to him, a focusing eye in his forehead, finger extensions on one hand handling temporal stones as we walked up. He was standing near a sort of makeshift lab table that Bianca would have a field day with topped with various beakers and burners, a sort of spidery mechanical device in the center of it an eyeball, looking about, and next to it was something they clearly used as a stretcher with Toddish lying unconscious on it, very still with some blood around one of his eye sockets and cabling snaking in as well as some others connected elsewhere on his newly shaven pate, a series of tubes running into his mouth and his inhale and exhale accompanied by a mechanical wheezing noise.   I noticed that a number of them had now gathered, displeased by our presence, and from the reactions many of them made, upset by how we smell as well. Ospher was brought directly to 'The Engineer' to speak, and confirming that we did in fact what Toddish back, we offered him a trade; in exchange for Toddish they could have our Blue Alchemy Jug which made honey and mayonnaise that they seemed to like consuming. He agreed to the trade-off and in his peculiar pidgin-common that Ospher explained he heard via the spell that he would need an hour to finish the process of 'learning' from Toddish and remove the devices connected to his flesh. He said he could speed it up if we didn't care what happened to Toddish and we said the hour would be fine. In our confusion with The Engineer, whom we learned was called Skrag, he explained that the 'learning' from Toddish was them being able to 'drill his thoughts' in order to learn things about the above ground world here as well as granting them the ability to speak the common tongue, but without mastered proficiency.  
"What you want? Why you bother?"
"You are the engineer?"
"Yes yes yes."
"We came down here in search of a friend and that is indeed him," gesturing at the stretcher "we'd ask for his safe return."
"Down here is ours, all things."
"He wandered into here by accident. perhaps a trade?"
"Like trades, yes trades. What have?"
— The Wretchling Engineer, Skrag, and Ospher at the start of what would prove to be a very lucrative relationship
"What this, why taste this way?"
"It is an item that will always produce several different types of substances..."
"No, only liquids..."
"Meat water?!"
"I suppose beer might be consider meat water of a kind if meat is wheat, but no?"
— Skrag and Ospher on the Blue Alchemy Jug's various delectables
"We learning from him with thought drill."
"What is it that you seek to learn from him?"
"Whatever stupid things are in his muck."
"Well if it is so stupid, then it's hardly worth your while."
"We know your language, we know city name. Know that no one comes here looking, this place safe. Time crystals, no one know."
— Skrag and Ospher on why they mine Toddish's 'muck'
"Why do you mine the crystals?"
"Great power."
— Ospher and Skrag
"Sit. Rest. Give you drink meat? Stay awhile."
— Skrag attempting hospitality while we waited until Toddish could be disconnected following the mining
"Maybe we can bolster Toddish's resilience prior to the end of this procedure?"
"I'm not worried about that, once we can get him unhooked."
""I'm worried about him!"
— Ospher, Adjenna, and Greasome on Toddish's chances of surviving another hour
"I'm a Cleric, Greasome, he's going to be OK."
"I don't know what that means but if you can't fix an eyeball, I'm gonna get a browbeating!"
"I can fix an eyeball Mcallister."
"Okay, alright then."
— Adjenna and Greasome on Toddish's possible crippling injuries
"Option B is we just cut our way through all these things. They obviously shouldn't be here."
looking around at all the Skunkoids "I don't know that that's true, there's a lot of them."
— Crisnos and Ospher on an alternative solution
  I sat to monitor Toddish's health and observe the strange machines at work, in spite of their complexity and advanced nature, they were powered by cranking and spinning wheels that Skrag adjusted to move things along slightly faster. Toddish's health was stable but his signs of life were faint, either due to heavy sedation and assistance from the machines or due to weakness that wasn't ebbing further. I stealthily slipped my Ring of Regeneration onto Toddish's finger in order to provide additional vigor to him and it worked to mend some of his wounds over the course of the hour. The prolonged time away from fresh air was even harder on us than before, with Janka falling even further ill though Charity and Greasome had held out until now could no longer stand it. It appeared that the more upset and worked up these creatures got, the worse their smell gets, creating a bit of a feedback loop with our crew's distress.   Ospher wheedled as much information out of Skrag as he could in the meantime: they had discovered this place and it's unique and hidden energy source and could mine it with their machines mostly safely; they called themselves The Wretched; they would sell the items at a large market called the Bitter Depths, Sha'Hidun in elvish for some reason, where people were always looking for power sources; they were making a lot of profit on this venture and their partners at Black Mark, called The Company, were very happy with their work down here, though the Drekh denigrate their skills.  
"What is it that these machines do?"
"We're mining, we take crystals to market."
"Market, where would that be?"
"Below, Bitter Depths."
"Where is that?"
Skrag points down"Bitter Depths, Sha'Hidun. We take it there. We take it to sell at market. Drekh pay well for it. Others pay well for it."
— Ospher and Skrag on whom buys these Time Crystals
"No one knows about it... You're not miners yes?"
"No, we're not your competition."
"That's good, that's good." Skrag's face does something we interpret as a smile and he opens up to further questions
— Skrag and Ospher on the unknown qualities of the time crystal scabs near the ancient vault
"Machines do digging. We don't use Dutroti, too unreliable. Clumsy hands. But our machines are good machines, Wretched machines."
"I've never seen anything like them."
"Never will, we are best."
— Skrag and Ospher on how they do work
  As time went by, Skrag proved to be good for his word: as things wrapped up tubes and wires disconnected sometimes with a hiss and would retract from his body with occasional bit of black fluid leaking out of him. The clockwork device's final intrusion was the hose to come out of his eye socket and they handed him back over after using some kind of bellows to restart his breathing and even handed over the weird device containing his eye that was sitting on the table. We left with all haste, wishing Skrag well with his jug, to make sure Janka didn't die from exposure to the Wretched's smell.   Exiting the vertical shaft, we felt like maybe we had walked away from something we could have intervened in and resolved to check out the other spot I had heard noises coming from, not far from this portion under the ruined dome. Turning the corner, we found dozens of these spider devices with rat eyes attached to them instead of human eyes and they seemed to be honing in on any large crystals that erupted from below. Resolving to hunt down what Nisaba had told me about, I opted to cast a Detect Magic with the leyline's power and finessing the artificial overload into an eternal spell and felt the strong presence of time magic all around us and then some specks of other magic, three up here, likely magical items that also survived the blast here before they were discovered by Basilocke or Paladin when they arrived here, and a number down below, likely claimed by The Wretched in their search.  
"Well, I guess we count this as a win right? This is OK."
"In a sense, yes."
— Charity and Ospher on leaving the Skunkoids to their business and taking Toddish
  We found the three items in the Reliquary: a scepter that one belonged to one of the Adamantite kings a Rod of Rulership; a sickle that seemed to radiate moonlight, a pale soft glow that always seeped from it and made my ancient druids a Moonsickle (+2 and a staff that had been inlaid with runes of adamantite, likely by one of the old masters of the College of Magic who lived in Balmoral at the time a Voyager Staff. I handed over the sickle to Ospher to put into the Bag of Holding which we had placed our weapons in and after familiarizing myself with the scepter proposed a plan in which we go back down the hole, use the rod on Skrag to take the rest of the items he found and anything else these scavengers had on hand and wouldn't miss. If things weren't wrong, I could Dimension Door us out of trouble and we come back with more people to enact chaos in their plans.  
"We maybe could use this to see what else they found?"
"That's funny."
"Right, but we could go back down there and see what the other stuff was."
"I mean if you're this confident, I'm not gonna stop you."
— Adjenna and Ospher on using the Rod of Rulership
"Do we have to go back down there? I just want to lay down for a while. I think things are going to come out of my holes."
"Take a moment, we'll be back as quick as we can."
she smiles weakly "Happy Stardust Day."
"To you as well."
— A weak and tired Janka asks for time to rest and Ospher explains that's okay
  Going back down the shaft, the cacophony from below grew much louder than before, and we spotted a device that had escaped our notice before due to it's size and lack of light, a massive digging machine the size of the 12 Carrots with a large disc at the front and it suddenly released a terrible flash of energy from the front as the ground quaked and as the flash disappeared, there was a new tunnel there, revealing a new cache of time crystals for them to collect. It appeared to vaporize any sort of material that wasn't comprised of time crystals. As some of the Wretchlings spotted us, they had a very exhausted look on their small faces and just gave us a wide berth as Skrag and two of his bodyguards started to approach and to me it appeared if he was loading a pistol with tiny cartridges, but paradoxically smiling.  
"Why come again?"
Ospher activates the Rod of Rulership underneath his cloak "Please friend, we just hope to speak some more."
— Skrag and Ospher, Skrag's new best friend
  A majority of the Skunkoids resisted the ancient magical effect, but Skrag and his cronies were instantly taking an entirely different demeanor, and holsters the pistol immediately. He explained back towards his work area that he had an adamantite ring with stars forged into it, a Ring of Shooting Stars, and a box of potion bottles, all very old with their labels written in Old Balmoran that Ospher translated as a Potion of Longevity, Potion of Possibility, Potion of Mind Control, Potion of Cloud Giant Strength. He handed both of these over to Ospher after appearing very proud of these items. I surreptitiously used my borrowed Channel Divinity: Read Thoughts and gave him the suggestion to forget about these items. He then wanted to know if we wanted any bottles of Meat Water, which Ospher's curiosity got the better of him on.  
"We're curious about all the things you've gathered."
"We pick rubble before we start proper dig. Most have been sent to market but some still here. I show you nice ones."
"Very kind."
— Ospher and the enraptured Skrag
  The dirty jug appeared to be water with some pulped steak at the bottom of it, making me instantly wonder if they stole this recipe from Pete. He then offered us money for our travels, and Ospher said yes and requested information about their mining here, so Skrag ended up handing over the contract with Black Mark. Skimming it over Ospher learned that according to the contract, the world doesn't belong to anybody but Black Mark and this group of miners has limited mining rights. He gave a pouch of 88 black crystalline coins that he called 'scrip', some bearing the mark of spiders, some with strange shapes and runes, as if they a pouch full of gold coins minted from all over the continent. Looking it over, the coin material appeared to be a natural stone or mix of metals, a strange composite that was unidentifiable to us, but perhaps grown?  
"Do you need monies for travels?"
"Yeah, if you have money we do have a long road ahead of us. And all the information you have concerning your operation here, if it's in a nice neat little package that I could read and understand later."
— Skrag and Ospher
  Ospher then took his gun with Skrag's enthusiastic agreement. Looking it over it didn't appear to propel bullets with blasting powder, but had cartridges of charged energy, filled by some power source elsewhere, and ejects bolts of energy. Zapper, as Skrag called it, had charges enough to be fired 20 times to our amazement. Ospher then asked, at my urging, if they had any broken equipment that we could take to fix or examine and he pointed us to a few different pieces around his office, some broken sensors they had to find power sources, a handheld sized item, but heavy and large like several metal dinner plates stacked and couldn't tell you anything about the type of power; a broken All Purpose Tool +1; a broken drill cart, similar to that house sized one that drills personal sized tunnels (well, Wretchling-sized personal, that is) but this one was only a crate sized.  
"I see you have a side piece there, very impressive, may I see it?"
"Mmhmm, yes. It's zapper." Skrag hands over the Wretchling pistol to Ospher
— Ospher and Skrag
  Inspired by this, I then had Ospher ask him how long it takes the large drill to recharge and excavate more earth. Skrag explained that it should only be used once a day, but with the right power they could fire it off once an hour but the machine might 'fail catastrophically'. Skrag was then told about a load of power that was available a bit up and back towards the Rat King's abode and would more than make up for the trouble of using extra power crystals to excavate back over towards the shifting magical domain. He passed this along to some of his non-mechanical scouts who then immediately hopped onto some fast single wheeled conveyance devices and sped off in the direction Skrag told them to go and set up a reconnaissance site. Having committed his name and face and likeness to memory in order to remotely view him even with resistance with the Eye of Basul, we told him we'd check back in on progress and learn if they had any success with securing additional power from this other site. We walked out with him, appearing as good chums in order to show his forces that we're great people to know and got the hell back out of there again.   Rising back out, Janka was putting away a toothbrush and Charity was glad to see us still OK and we explained what this large crate-looking wheeled device was and how it went. Considering the possible conflict we would walk into going back the way we came, we started looking for another way out of the old city ruins. But before leaving, I cast some more healing onto Toddish before making a long trek back up above ground, even with the healing from the Ring of Regeneration, I didn't want to waste time confirming that his eye was all they took out of him. This brought him back to consciousness and he didn't have a whole lot to say about the adventure: the experience was very traumatic, he was able to slip through various cracks and over 2 days he managed to get all the way under the city when he came upon the swarm of mechanical eyeballs, they were able to fire off some dart like devices that knocked him out.  
"How did that go?"
"Almost too well."
"What... exactly does that mean?"
"We directed them to start mining towards the Rat King's tunnels to get at some of his cached energy."
— Charity and Adjenna
  We trekked out and set up Toddish with a bed in the Infirmary while his eye regenerated and Mcallister said he'd come back to check in and would go alleviate Toddish's mother's fears in the meanwhile. Tadlo and Lorgan had the following to report on the 'prisoners':     "-Ebbo Dobb threatened to eat them both several times but promised to leave their eyes for last so they could watch. They noted he's pretty strong even when in boy-form. He can really shake those bars hard and he stomped on the metal pole they were using to snag his dirty dishes and broke it. They said he has a pretty hard head too cause he rams into the bars with it and doesn't... you know... die. They also try their hand at speaking with him and trying to reach the boy, after all he looks so similar to all your students. All they can get out of him is rage, belligerent, vile rage.   -Nika doesn't handle boredom well AT ALL. She paces a lot, complains, talks to herself or some kind of imaginary friend, tries to lure them in the cell with just about any ruse she can think of. Tadlo eventually feels bad for all of them and brings them some books to read. Baily is very thankful and respectful. Ebbo eats the pages. Nika, they learn, is an exceptionally good thrower as she's able to nail Bailey with book right to her face through the bars. She seems very thrilled with it and shouts some nonsense about hitting the cannibal/fascist bullseye. They also learn her deception skills are top notch when she promises never to do it again and asks for another book to read.   -Bailey spends her time seeming to be very very anxious, nervous, and sheds a few tears from time to time. She does at one point cry out in pain and a large set of canine bite marks appears on her leg before quickly starting to heal. She thanks the jailers for any kindness they offer her such as the books and the dinner. She also seems to use exercise as a distraction; she does some pull-ups on the bars, jogs in place, and practices some quiet meditation/breathing techniques. It's during her breathing exercises that Nika breaks her promise with the second book. Despite all the physical and mental abuse hurled her way she never blows up about it. She tries her best to ignore it or passively asking her stop. "       The Wretchling-Skunkoid portal did not use that of ring like the gates that are shrouded in mystery on the surface. On the ground, they had a ramp that was fueled by time crystals connected to a machine generating electricity. Quite a masterful piece of tech.

Character(s) interacted with

Mcallister Greasome & Toddish Greasome - Uncle and Nephew Greasomes. Mcallister is greatly relieved for the help and frankly we're glad for the opportunity to have paid him back for his kindness.

Created Content

as usual, consider yourself warned if you decide to listen

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