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Going Down?

General Summary

The Investigation Continues

Decembra 8, 887 Af.

As the crowd began to break up, the party discussed immediately following them in, or trying to learn more. While there were advantages to going in now, like being able to help the others and combine forces if necessary, there was also the risk of conflict with the Band, and there was still more they could learn that may help them. They realized that the Haven family was all present, having watched the Band go into the underground, and they approached. As they did so, v13 and Sif's owl returned from their long flight, and rejoined their makers. Sif and Durdeg were able to get the idea of the lab being about 80 miles to the east as the magically created bird flies, over a seemingly endless peat bog.

Lord Arb greeted them, as did Caela and Bron, and asked them how their investigation was proceeding. The party gave vague assurances, and redirected the conversation. They asked how the Haven's felt about the Band, and the consensus was that they feared the Band would fail, but still saw them as useful for the city's morale. The party refrained from asking the Haven's opinion about them, possibly worried about getting a similar answer or possibly just not being concerned about their thoughts.

They switched their questions to about the resurgence of thieves in town. Arb was fairly certain that they were the brigands from the road who had decided to move back into the city, while Bron was not quite as sure. Bron did tell them that several incidents had occurred in the past few weeks, but did not go into great detail. They discussed the battle from the night before, and Kasret left to find Dobra so that he could tell them about the demons slain and secure their rightful reward.

Kasret quickly made his way to Dobra's home, where he pounded on the door to rouse the man. Dobra seemed exhausted, and smiled when asked about his night. He let Kasret know that the lady had left before morning, but that he had had a good night. He apologized for not being at the inn that morning, and quickly threw on his uniform and armor to join them. Kasret and Dobra headed back to the market to join the others.

The others had continued to question the Havens, trying to learn more about the town. For how close Arb and the others might have been to Elinda, they knew surprisingly little about the inner workings of her studies. They knew that she had a workshop where she could do her work, but the only thing they specifically knew about it was that if they needed to get to it, they could find out how to get there in the desk in her tower library. They knew that she had left town to acquire an object of power, but they had never seen it outside of the box that she carried it in.

After having spoken with the Haven's, the group returned to the tower so that Sif could determine if it was worth it to attempt to travel to the lab in the bog. They reached the tower, and found that the hole in reality in the desk was no longer colorless and translucent, but had returned to its previous state. Sharlot ripped a hole in reality and took Sif along with her to search the lab. While they searched, the others became restless, and Kasret had to be convinced to not just head to the market and begin exploring the underground.

Sif found a chart that went along with the book of potions, and made a copy. Next up, she packed away the lab equipment, while Sharlot looked on wondering why she had refrained from taking the dresses if her companion was willing to load up a lab's worth of glassware. SHe tried to ignore it, however, and searched the remaining areas of the lab. Eventually, the two of them searched inside the bird cage, and when they lifted the paper at the bottom, came across another scrap of fabric and a note. This time, the note read:

Intent to reach across the void
Great thoughts to proffer and collect
Instead unpacked an Aperture
That every cloud could not protect

The poem was unclear, but it reminded them of the note and that they had found something at two of the three locations thus far. With that in mind, they went through another hole in space created by Sharlot, and returned to the others. Kasret muttered, "finally," under his breath, and they discussed the poem and its meaning. None knew exactly what it meant, but they did know that Elinda was known to play chess at the temple, and they decided to make it their next stop.

Arriving at the temple, they went to the large square arranged like a chess board, and the small shed off to the side. They entered the shed, finding a small chess set sitting on a shelf. When they first touched it, large animated versions of the pieces appeared on the life sized board outside. While this may have been interesting in its own right, they were much more interested in the scrap of fabric and note they found underneath the board. Another poem was found, this time saying:

From stony beach to mountain peak
To mighty marbled hall
These building blocks of worlds,
They choose
From whence it comes to conquer all

Again, no clear meaning was found, although they did bring all three scraps of fabric together. Once in place, they started to writhe and shift, changing from scraps of common cloth to pieces of an amulet forged in cold iron. The pieces each had a few letters written on them, and when arranged so that they would go together, they spelled out Liliana. The name was recognizable to the group, although they couldn't be sure to whom exactly it referred. There were several Liliana's throughout history, ranging from royalty to mages to demons and angels. Sif, being both schooled in religion and magic, had an idea that it referred to Liliana, Queen of Perdition, and a powerful demon. She knew little of the demon, as the stories predated the Fracturing. They moved on from trying to figure it out, and read the letter that appeared when the pieces were reformed:

I know not what I have done, only that it is most
frightening and unintentional. I fear that you read this
now only because I have failed to set things right myself.
In my attempt to communicate with beings from beyond
out world, I have loosed a great evil upon our community.
Wherever I must go now, I am sure that darkness waits
for me. I can only hope for absolution in my success or
forgiveness in my failure. I do not understand what
manner of creature this is, only that the amulet you hold
may be the only key to its destruction. Should I not return,
you — whoever you are — must act to right my wrongs.
— Elinda Bannon

The group read the letter, and became more sure of their course. They left for the market, intending to enter the underground and find this "Liliana".

Going Underground

The group made their way back towards the market. Focused on their mission and with limited visibility due to the mist, they nearly missed seeing a daylight robbery being carried out at the Artisan's guild. Several thieves, dressed in black, were sliding down a rain spout and passing down a bag of loot. They noticed the party noticing them, and fled quickly from the scene. The party decided to delay their current excursion, and chase down the thieves. The thieves took advantage of the winding streets to evade the party, but they were not prepared for the flying scouts summoned by Durdeg or Sif. The birds flew over the buildings, keeping a watch on the thieves - the keen eyesight of the conjured birds combined with the magical links to their creators made it easy to follow them as they made their way north to the lower part of town. The bandits fled into the Ironworks, and the heroes cautiously followed.

Entering the courtyard cautiously, they found a pair of dwarves hiding against the wall. They quickly pointed to the inner doors, indicating the thieves had passed that way, but were unwilling to get involved further. The party moved in, opening the doors and stepping inside. An immediate barrage of arrows flew at them, although quick relfexes and armor let the party avoid any damage. The thieves were hiding behind forge equipment, and the party split up to round them up quickly. Sif's flaming sphere drove one pair from behind their cover, allowing Kasret and Carta to dispatch them, while Durdeg and Sharlot, with ineffectual assistance from Dobra, made quick work of one of the others. As they fell, the final thief threw up his hands in surrender.

Durdeg and Sharlot started to question the thief, while Carta stood guard and Kasret and Sif began to search for any further problems. Kasret entered a shop area, and found the keeper and another smith hiding behind the desk. They peeked out and saw him, and immediately went back to hiding. Kasret was satisfied there was not threat there, and went looking further. He found nothing more than another few workers that were hiding from the battle.

Sif was on the opposite side of the building, and the first thing she found was the Master Smith's room, with the Master Smith himself, Ulf Nine-Fingers, passed out asleep on a small bed. She looked over the room, and was intrigued by some of the books, but held back from doing anything that would awaken the smith. She found a storage room containing crates of smithing supplies, and a new looking door with a strong lock. Kasret stumbled upon her, having entered from a different door, and they decided they had seen the entire structure, and found nothing other than people hiding from the battle. They returned to the main room to inform the others.

The interrogation was proceeding, and the captured thief was willing to talk in exchange for protection. When Sif explained about the door, Durdeg left to try to pick the lock. He was eventually successful (although when they searched the dead thieves, they found a key, confirming that this was an entrance to the thieves' lair). They demanded that the thief give them a map, and he scratched out a pretty rudimentary one. Seeing that this would be worthless, they asked for more. The thief agreed, but only if they kept him in protective custody until they dealt with the other thieves, and banished him instead of imprisoning him at the end. They agreed, and sent Dobra to take the man to the closest group of the Mist Watch. The party also decided to rouse the master smith, thinking he had to be involved. They woke the man, and pulled him out of bed. They told him that they wanted some questions answered, and he would need to go with Dobra. They gathered the stolen objects and sent them off with Dobra and the men, and then went to examine the door.

The door opened to a long stairway down into the darkness. Not knowing what could be waiting on the other side, Sif summoned an arcane eye to scout ahead. It moved down into the darkness, and Sif relayed what she was seeing to the other heroes. At the bottom of the stairs, a room spread out around a giant water wheel, spinning briskly in some unseen current. The eye moved around the wheel, and was able to make out five tunnels leading out of the room.

Sif sent the eye down each path, moving widdershins around the room. Down the first, it found a dead end with a cleverly concealed trap door - just not cleverly enough. The second path dead ended, although the eye eventually was able to spot the seam of a doorway hidden in the far wall. The third was the home to a number of stirges - nasty, blood sucking creatures that looked like tiny bats with a mosquitoes' proboscis. They eye left that room behind, only to find a mound of giant rats in the next room. There were many, and they had some young with them. There was also another tunnel leading out of the rat's room, and the eye followed it onward. In this room there was a wooden chest sitting in a corner, with an unknown substance coating it and the walls. The limits of the arcane eye's sight were reached, and the lack of color kept Sif from being able to tell what it was. She brought the eye back to the original room, and sent it down the final path. It was another dead end much like the first, although Sif spotted no triggers, cleverly hidden or otherwise.

Sif brought the eye back to the main room, and the group discussed the findings. Dobra had returned, and informed the group that he handed everything off to a passing watch patrol. The heroes decided that where they were going for now was safe enough, and Sif lit her shield and they proceeded down into the underground. The first order of business, they decided, was to look at the chest.

Kasret took the lead, sneaking into the room without being detected. But as he tried to get by, he made a noise just loud enough for the rats to hear him, and the sleeping creatures woke. He immediately fired a series of bolts, killing two of the rats. Sharlot, Sif, and Carta came in quickly, preparing themselves to battle. Following immediately behind was Durdeg. As he entered the room, he yelled at everyone to get back, and tossed one of his devices into the center of the room. As it landed, a shattering force exploded from the device, pulverizing the nearest rats and breaking the stone on the ceiling. Chunks of stone, ranging from pebbles to larger than Kasret's head, fell on the nest in the center of the room. The rats were crushed, and as the dust settled, the room got quiet. Everyone had been clear of the device, but the stone falling inches from their face made them all turn to stare briefly.

Durdeg walked briskly to the next tunnel, and everyone shook themselves and went to join him. They enchanted a stone with light and threw it into the room, when they could now see the thin layer of yellow mold covering everything. Spores burst from the ground where the stone hit, and the group was glad to have stayed out. Sharlot summoned a magic hand, and sent it in to open the chest. After some pounding on the chest to break it open, they found what looked like cave exploration supplies, perhaps left by some previous explorer who never made it back. They collected the items, knowing they could put it to some use.

With that done, they headed to the room with the secret door, and prepared to go farther into the unknown.

Report Date
29 May 2021

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Cover image: by Chance Rose


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