Starday Reapingday 4, CY 593
As the morning sun rose the mist burned off and the day looked to be a scorcher. At the start of the day Kenric, used his magic to identify the whip Gerran removed from Jil. It was a magical whip, and since none of us are able utilize such a weapon the group decided to sell it to Skye.
After working at the forge for a short time I met up with the group the next morning and the five of us headed to the courthouse. We signed in and went down to the dungeon to speak with the wererats. As we made our way through the dungeon we noticed half of the cells were full of various people and creatures. This is a change since we first were down here. The noise was deafening and poor Ghelvewas trying to block out the sounds.
The group was lead down the hallway of cells to Orak and the wererats. As we made our way down the hallway we passed a woman screaming, Listens to Wind stopped for a moment and then screamed back, but she ignored him and continued to scream. He shrugged his shoulders in wonderment and moved on.
We also noticed two of the cells were full of goblins. The guards and other groups had been busy capturing the nuisances. The guard continued to lead us down the hallway to Orak. We stopped in front of his cell where he was sitting in the far corner looking very unhappy.
Gerran wass the first to speak. “Morning, Orak,” he said cheerfully. The two began to discuss how to possibly have Orak not stay in prison. As Orak dialoged with Gerran it was apparent to all he did not remember the events of the previous day. He pointed to the wererats and stated with conviction, “They came in and attacked me. I defended myself, and I am here for disturbing the peace.”
Gerran attempted to see if he was under a spell but only detected the magic on the cage. We remembered these cages were built long ago to hold demons, and such, captured from the Demonskar. Listens to Wind stood near the wererats and began sharpening his silver sword. The rats sensed the threat.
“Why did you attack us?” Listens to Wind asked them. He moved to the back of the cage and tried to frighten them. “Who sent you to attack us?”
To try and scare them Listens to Winds attempted to bend the bars of the cage. “Who is your boss!” he demanded.
Seeing what Listens to Wind was attempting to do, I stepped over to the cage and intimidated the rats, too. They were visably shaken and they started to rattle off information.
“It was Gregor who hired us,” one yelled. “You just told them who the Blue Duke is!” the other one yelled back.
We decided to separate the two to see if we could get further information from them. As soon as Marin, one of the wererats, went outside the cage he became rat-like. He transfered back to human when he was put into the other cage.
“Tell me who Gregor and the Blue Duke is, and where can I find them!” I demanded.
“I don’t know! They hired us at the Pavilion. Big guy, scruffy, blond hair…named Gregor,” whimpered Marin.
Unfortunately the names didn’t mean anything to us.
“He hired us months ago to watch over the place…the bathhouse," he stammered. "We were told to watch for suspicious behavior. Last month we were holed up in the building across from the bath house. Vinder, our now dead leader, gave the order for us to attack you.”
Marin continued spilling the beans in total fear of me, “The Blue Duke is hiring people to create an army," he said.
The group returned to the other rat-guy, Velik.
“How many rats are in the city?” Gerran asked.
“It’s hard to tell," replied Velik. "Vindor gave the command to attack. The house across the street was our base. We were told to keep the dwarf guy alive. Gregor would come to the house and pay us. He is due to return in a few days.”
I asked if they had seen goblins. “Yeah, goblins would come in and out of the front door from time to time. Mostly at night. There were a lot of them.“
Satisfied we had obtained all of the information we could we headed back up the stairs to attend the trial. A cohort of guards came by to take the rats away. Upon entering the courtroom, Gerran took his normal spot in front of the The Honorable Judge Ghease. This time the court house was packed. Two full patrols and many town folks were there to watch the case of Cauldron versus the rats!
In the courtroom the rats were in human form and looked quite a bit less scruffy. The public defender tried to make them out to be good citizens. The charges were assault and spreading disease. The defense claimed it was our fault and that we were the aggressors. Gerran corrected the defense and noted we were there to investigate the bathhouse per the request of the city. As for the infection charge, the disease was verified by the acolytes of Kord. The Kord priests agreed they were diseased and needed to be cured. The trial went on and on but finally the rats were found guilty.
After a brief break, the trial of Orak Stonhaven began. The Judge asked for the charges against Orak. Aiding the wererats, and lying during the investigation were the key charges. However Gerran stressed we believed he may have been under the influence of others which was a mitigating circumstance.
At that moment, into the court walked Jeremy Tucklin. He had six body guards with him and was dressed up in the finest of robes. Tucklin owns most of the coffee plantations around Cauldron and was a member of the city council and the head of one of the twelve noble families in the city. He said he was there as a character defense for Orak. When he was done, Teerson Skellerang stood up and gave credence to his personal deputies (thats us, The Moonhowlers!). He called us the sons and daughters of Cauldron, the protectors of the city and the slopes of the mountain. After the evidence was considered, Orak was found guilty but the Judge suggested Orak be viewed by the The Bluecrater Acadamy to check for arcane magic at a later time.
After the trial we exited the courthouse. It was a blistering hot day. After a light lunch of smoked fish, bread, and coffee, we headed back to the bathhouse and told the guards we were going to check the house to the north across the street from Orak’s.
The house was a gray, two-story structure with wooden planks for walls. The ceramic roofing tiles were gone and the balcony had fallen down. If you stood just right you could see straight through the house and view the lake on the far side.
In preparation Braedon and I drew our weapons and entered the house first. Gerran checked to see if anyone was looking, the rest of us tried to check for any surprises as well. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary. The door was hanging by one hinge. The windows were all broken out.
The heat and the humidity was stifling, as if the wind had stopped. The smell inside was overpowering with the odor of a rat nest. A set of rickety stairs were just ahead of us. The floor was filthy but was clear of debris. I stepped into the building.
Before heading up we checked the main floor. The first room to the right was a mess. The floor was covered in debris. We found nothing.
We then headed to the back rooms. These were fairly clean except for a circular pile of palms frond and blankets (apparently a bed) in the corner on the floor. We searched the rooms and we found some crossbow bolts. We re-searched the debris room. We continued searching and found more nest beds. There was also a plank bench in front of the window. In the fourth room was an old urn. The urn had been sealed with wax. Kenric checked for magic but found nothing.
Listens to Wind used his axe to open the seal and opened the urn. Inside was a silver teaspoon set.
We then headed upstairs. The stairs were very unstable. I tried to climb them but fell through. I was slightly dazed but not badly injured. Gerran, who had better balance than me, tried to climb the stairs but he also fell through. Listens to Wind attempted to climb to the top of the stairs and succeeded. The top floor was a large room, but the area had been cleared out to make room for two nests. Under each window was a bench and cloth to sit on. Above the roof was only partially there. In the southeast corner, a platform of wood had been built. Listens climbed up on the platform and found a great view of the bathhouse. He found a couple of crossbows and some bolts. Listen to Winds returned to the group to tell us what he had found.
The group decided to head over to the bathhouse. The patrol guarding the bathhouse was made up of two female elves and three female half orcs with a male sergeant named Charlie. We told them we were going to check out the basement. The patrol wished us luck as we headed into the bathhouse.
Gerran removed the lock and I opened the door. I saw a ten by fifteen foot room; Orak’s office. We opened the door at the top of the stairs and looked down. The smell was foul – like carrion. I popped a sunrod and hooked it on my helmet to allow my hands to remain free. I drew my weapon and shield and headed down with the group following. The stairs went down to a landing. In looking over the wall I realized the stone was the same as found in Jzadirune. We decided this must be another entrance to that gnomish city. We moved down ten feet and to the next landing. The stone stairs descended ten more feet, eventually opening to a five foot wide corridor that ran east and west. The walls were covered in crude graffiti, smeared with chalk, blood, and excrement. The language looked familiar to what the goblins were writing on the city walls above. To the east we heard a strange sound, like the chatter of barking dogs. Kenric cast Dark Vision on Gerran so he could sneak down the hallway to see what was happening and then cast Mage Armor on himself in preparation for battle.
Gerran snuck down the hallway. It was clearly an extension of Jzadirune. The ceiling was seven feet tall but he saw no sign of the gear doors we had previously found in the gnomish runins. On the southern wall were two open door ways. There were hinges but the doors were gone. To the east were two more doors that were closed and to the west was a stone door.
Looking through the nearest open doorway to the south, Gerran saw a large room with an open-door and a room with two more doors beyond it. Four pillars supported the ceiling. Nine sturdy cots with neatly folded blankets were pushed up against the walls. Gerran moved into the room to see what was behind the open door. There was another room which held many crates and chests all of which were emblazoned with a symbol of a bird cage with no bird in it. Narrow avenues were cut between the piles of supplies. Beyond the room Gerran could see a ten foot wide hallway which seemed to end in darkness.
Just then, a dark form moved slightly among the crates on the southern end of the wall. Gerran quietly closes the door and backed out. He placed a cot up against the door to warn us if anyone or anything came through it.
In the meantime, Listens to Wind had been slowly making his way down the hallway. Listens saw movement in the second open doorway. He felt sure it had been closed earlier. A dark object shot across the hallway moving fast. When Gerran got adjacent to Listens they related what had happened. Suddenly there was a figure in the doorway and a rumbling voice said, “Greetings.”
Gerran casually turned around and faced the figure in the doorway. He saw a tall goblin. The goblin was straight in stature, hairy and muscular. He had goblin, hobgoblin and other features. While I knew this was clearly a member of the goblin family, Kenric realized it is actually a bugbear. But this was not a normal bugbear. He was incredibly pale, with patches of fur gone. His teeth were larger then normal. Listens screamed like a little girl. Gerran said “We came to parley.”
The bugbear said smoothly, “I am pleased. It’s a rare occasion I have guests.”
Gerran introduced himself and the bugbear said his name was Drakthar. “I assume you command the goblins” Gerran asked.
“They are my pets,” Drakthar replied.
“Are you allowing them to go top side?” Gerran said. Then Drakthar indicated he had and thought the Mayor had sent us down to parley with him. Gerran asked him why he didn’t simply come up to the city and talk.
“I prefer the night," he said.
“You’re a vampire!!” Listens suddenly shouted.
“Such cruel words,” Drakthar replied with a snarl.
“Well, are they true?” Gerran asked calmly.
At that moment, Drakthar glared at Gerran and it was as if a tunnel had formed between them. Gerran was suddenly very aware of Drakthar’s eyes boring into him. Gerran shook off the strange feeling and the odd bugbear seemed to dematerialize in front of us. There we could hear a sound of chitterling.
Suddenly bats poured out of the ceiling between Listens to Wind and myself. Listens ran through the swarm to protect us. The swarms surrounded me and Gerran while Kenric moved in and attempted to help by firing off his Wand of Burning Hands. Flames arced out from the tip of the wand with a rushing sound and enveloped the swarm of bats. The flames only singed Gerran’s clothes but I got burnt slightly.
In the dark we heard Drakthar’s voice once more, “Gerran, I formally invite you to dinner.”
If this is a vampire we are in trouble. Vampires are nearly impossible to kill. But you can kill them by removing their heads. Eventually we are able to stop the swarms of bats and move on down the hallway.
Listens to Wind moved to open one of the closed doors further down the hall and I took a look inside. A fowl stench rose up in the air. There were two small goblins standing right in the middle of room. They seemed startled by our presence and then scream “Bree Arck!” The sound of the little creature’s voice echoed through the halls.
Listens to Wind stepped into the room, swung and missed both goblins. Kenric then moved to put the creatures to sleep. His Wand of Sleep went off but nothing happened. I then moved into the room and killed one goblin but missed the other.
Before Braedon could move, Drakthar suddenly re-appeared right before Kenric and clawed him! Drakthar seemed shocked, as if something should have happened but didn’t. Braedon conjured a Spiritual Weapon behind the vampire. The weapon missed.
Before Kenric could do anything more he noticed Drakthar’s horrific face. It was as if Drakthar was trying to charm him. However Kenric was not affected by the vampire’s gaze and stepped back to safety, dropping his wand and sending a Lightning Bolt at Drakthar. The bolt went right through him.
The bolt roared down the rest of the hallway, lighting up the darkness. In an instance it reached the end of the hallway and crashed into the wall. For a split second we could see a massive face of stone that filled up the hallway and then blinked out as the light from the spell flashed and was gone.
Gerran then tried to charm the Drakther. “Oh my friend," Drakthar grinned and wiggled his finger at Gerran. "Stop this silliness. That doesn’t work on me.”
Drakthar then began to climb up onto the ceiling in an attempt to leave. Impossibly he stood upside down for a moment with his feet on the ceiling and then suddenly he was gone into a puff of smoke.
Suddenly more goblins showed up. One threw a javelin and it struck me in the leg.
I decided I needed to draw them closer so I closed the door to the room smiling and waving as I shut myself in with the pests. Since Drakthar dissapeared, Braedon began to use his spiritual weapon to kill goblins.
While we fought the goblins Kenric stayed ready in case of Drakthar’s return. Tired of waiting, Kenric created a light and shone it down the hallway. At the end of the hallway Kenric saw the giant stone face once more and realized he was looking at a huge statuesque head of the dwarven god, Moradin.
Suddenly a voice was heard from somewhere deeper in the complex, “Mage! I will drink the marrow from your bones. You will not escape me!” In the end we killed many a goblin.
After completing the battle we retreated back to the surface and the safety of Cauldron to restock our supplies and to prepare ourselves for a battle with a vampire and his minions.