Moonday Reapingday 6, CY 593 (Part II)
It was about a half hour later when Charlie and his patrol showed up. We were surprised to see Justin and her patrol had arrived at Orak’s Bathhouse, as well, since they were off duty. Soon Teerson Skellerang arrived along with ten other guardsmen. I chuckeld under my breath when I realized that Doug and Bob were among the guardsmen arriving.
Teerson began to bark orders to seal off the bathhouse. Some of the guards stayed outside and others follow Teersen inside. Teersen walked up and immediately addressed Gerran.
“What is the emergency?” he asked. Gerran quickly replied, “We found the source of the goblin problem.” With that we led Teerson to the back room. “A bugbear vampire?" Teersen gasped, "Where did you find him?” Gerran pointed down the stairs. “We think he may have been controlling others.”
The Captain of the Guard then asked about the goblin ears we were supposed to be collecting for him. I quickly handed over the sack of ears. He looked inside and then handed the bag back to me. “Please bring those ears by my office when we are done here.” I nodded an affirmative and reattached the bag to my belt.
Gerran then brought up the weapons and supplies we had found in the chambers below, including the fact that a strange bird cage symbol was emblazoned upon the boxes. We took him down to look at the weapons. He was very concerned.
“What is the purpose of this?” Teersen mused. We all indicated that we didn’t know. We showed him that there were also weapons, rations, disguise kits, manacles, and gallons of ale. All of the weapons all had the Lathamire symbol on them.
We decided to ask our goblin captive, Grud. He told us the supplies belonged to a dwarf named Xodin.
While this discussion was going on, a guard came running down the stairs. Instantly we feared the worse and we raced back up the stairs, ready for battle. However, at the top of the stairs we saw the vampire lying still, with the stake through his heart.
We then heard Captain Skellerang talking loudly to someone in the bathhouse. As we moved forward we saw Teerson out front and hundreds of people had gathered around outside; including Jenya and Asfelkir.
Gerran walked out and tired to look important, while Kenric decided it would be best to have someone stay with the vampire’s corpse, in case anyone got any ideas of removing the stake. I decided to stay in the room with Kenric while Listens to Wind guarded the door to the bathhouse.
It was obvious that Teerson and the priests were arguing. Jenya was quoting Cauldron law that the undead had rights and was arguing to take the vampire to trial. Asfelkir argued the vampire was dead and thus had no rights at all and the obvious thing to do was to put the creature in Kord’s arena and have Kord take care of him. Teerson didn’t seem to have an opinion either way.
Suddenly, Listens to Wind spied a black storm moving in, moving like he had never seen before. This had him concerned so he ran back into the bathhouse and grabbed the corpse of Drak and raced outside. Braedon ran after him. My first thought was “What is wrong with these people?” But I decided to follow them to see what was happening.
By the time Listens to Wind had arrived at the front door, the storm had hit. The sky was dark and the storm was unnatural. All we could see was black clouds covering the top of the crater. Both Listens to Wind and Braden became aware of the crowd pointing up into the sky. People were excited. I followed the group outside and watched as Listens tried to behead the vampire. As he was doing so, the crowd began to point to the temple of Wee Jas. We could see a smudge of color at the top of the temple. The smudge was moving from the top of the tower down towards the crowd. Listens to Wind continued to severe the head of the vampire but merely sliced through a part of his neck. As the smudge hit the ground it materialized and suddenly we saw an eleven foot tall woman who was very beautiful, pale, and dressed in black. She had the symbol of Wee Jas around her neck. The crowd cried out, “It is Mistress Embril Aloustinai and Ike Iverson!”. Embril cried out, “Hold!”, as Listens to Wind tried to finish the grisly job he had started. Suddenly he found himself held fast in mid swing. He glared at Embril. Braedon was also held.
I watched as this was happening and I do not move a muscle, but I was, of course, ready to assist if I was needed.
Embril turned to the crowd and spoke in an odd and halting speech, “The Steward of Death has spoken just now. There was a disturbance of some kind outside.” She moved closer to the corpse of Drak. Kenric finally spoke for the group, “This is a vampire that we are disposing of.”
She looked at Kenric with a strange tilt of her head then she looked down as the corpse. She simply said, “Oh," and she then knelt down and very carefully cradled Drakthar’s head in her hands. She pulled him close. Ike was just standing there. Kenric calmly stated, “Don’t touch the stake.”
She stood up holding Drakthar by the collar. “Such sorrow," she moaned. "All should know he is doing this of his own free will….but not this!” And with that she pulled the stake out!
Drakthar’s eyes suddenly shpt open. He was a mess and he snarled fiercely. The crowd gasped, but Embril didn’t even flinch. Drakthar looks, then, at Embril as if seeing her for the first time … and he recoiled, a look of total fear crossed his face and he began to make mewling noises. Some in the crowd heard him saying “Mother” over and over again. He closed his eyes and appeared to loose consciousness.
Braedon broke free of Embril’s magic and spoke up bravely to his rival. “This is the property of the Church of Pelor. What are you doing?” She began to answer but Kenric interrupted her, “Kill it, or save it. Stop torturing it.” Braedon stepped forward and said, “Let us finish the job. Then you can have the body.”
Ignoring them, she cast a spell at which point she, Ike and Drakthar lifted off the ground.
Gerran turned to Captain Skellerang for assistance, but he did nothing. The Captain just stood there, with his mouth agape.
Embril continued to rise with Ike and the Drak. When they were about fifteen feet in the air she addressed the crowd once again, “You pray to your gods for money…you pray for power…health…safety. These things…so intangible….so fleeting….when Death is the only thing we can all be sure of. You should all pray for safe passage….don;t you think? Know this! The doors to Wee Jas are always open….always!” And then we heard a wet plopping sound as dozens of cut white lilies fell about the crowd like rain from the gathering dark clouds above. Without another word or look backwards she began to blur and then flew skyward to the highest tower of the Temple of Death.
Gerran said in a loud enough voice for all to hear, “Captain Skellerang, the High Priestess of Wee Jas just escaped with a vampire!”
There was a scuffle as the crowd moved forward, demanding action. Jenya and Asfelkir did nothing.
Gerran stated again, “We were trying to stop it from running around the streets. And now you’ve just let it go!”
That’s when I spoke up, reminding the Captain that the High Priestess of Wee Jas just interfered with City Officials during the course of their duties and that a complaint should be filed against them! The Captain agreed and stated he would do so when he got back to his office.
After the crowd began to disperse, Jenya tried to talk to Asfelkir. She stressed that she has tried to talk to him about the festival and that the conversation was past due and couldn’t wait any longer. He simply pushed her aside and claimed he had enough to do with preparing the Flood Festival’s gladiatorial competition and couldn’t be bothered with talk of silly wands.
After some debate we decided to head back down the tunnel. Kenric went with Grud to the brewery to check out the magic cauldron. As we passed by the supplies room I grabbed a cask of ale and brought it with me. After all of that craziness, I needed a good drink.
In the brewery area Grud shows Kenric how to use the cauldron. He ran around filling things up. He also got a sizable amount of water, then he said “Drulog.” It sounded familiar, and I realized it was old Dwarvish for the word “brew”. At that moment there was a poofing sound and we realized the cauldron was of dwarven make. It could heat any liquid without a fire.
Grud explained with rat entrails and other stuff he could make potions of cure moderate wounds in the cauldron. This made him a valuable prisoner to us so we decide to keep him.
While Kenric was working with the goblin, I had been sampling the ale I confiscated from the supplies pile. After finishing the ale I tossed the barrel aside. We then headed off to the rope bridge.
Once at the rope bridge I realized just how unsteady the bridge was and decided someone else should go first. I knew the unsteadiness had nothing to do with the fact that I had just polished off an entire barrel of ale. Gerran went across the bridge just fine, while Listens to Wind decided it would be better to climb up the cliff rather than risking a walk across the unsteady bridge. Once on the other side they moved forward down the hall. About half way down they found a stone door similar to the doors we found in Jzadirune.
Listens to Wind was slightly behind Gerran but once he caught up he quickly opened the door outward. There was a room beyond and inside they saw three moldy old mattresses. One wall had collapsed and now there was just stone behind it. They checked the room and found nothing more.
We headed back to the tunnels that connected together and went down the passages we hadn’t explored yet. We decided to first explore the largest tunnel. It sloped down at an angle. Part way down the passage we noticed a set of stairs to the side that went up. We checked further down the tunnel and saw nothing so we got back to the stairs. The stairs had been crudely cut and they ascended up and opened up into a room. The room was made of malachite and appeared to have been constructed by Dwarves. The room was defiled by goblin graffiti, and we notice that this is the exact same stone work as we have seen in the Malachite Hold. When I opened the door there was a hallway beyond with more stairs that went up toward another door. Grud commented that up ahead was guest rooms for Kalleve and Chorlyndyr. They were guests of Drakthar’s. He commented they looked human, but the girl was weird looking.
I decided to open the door. There was light beyond. I entered the room and saw another door and a fountain in one of the corners. There were three beds, a table, and a chair. On the ceiling was a Dwarven mural that sheds light; bathing the room in a flickering light. A stern dwarven face made of stone was the fountain — a stream of clear water drained from its mouth to a small and shallow pool below.
A large man with long straight silver hair stood up from the table to face the open door. He was human. “Are you supposed to be here?” he asked. I made a move to allow the group in.
The other door then flew open and a women stepped into the room. She said, “Kalleve what is…” and then she drew a weapon. She was in the process of buckling her pants when she first came in. She had horns and a tail. Soon we found ourselves in battle. At Kenric’s urging we merely disabled the two, rather than killing them. Once they were subdued. Gerran moved over and said, “Greetings.” We proceed to tie the two people up and gag them.
We then searched the room and the two prisoners. During our search we discovered the other door way led to a short passage covered in poop.
Gerran began to interrogate the prisoners. They told us they were hired by the Blue Duke; a tall human who lives in the jungle. Their job was to hire mercenaries and bring them to the city. They were working with a dwarf named Xodin.
Xodin, they told us, was currently down the tunnel with some half-orc mercenaries. The mercenaries were kept in the tunnel until somebody from the city above came to collect them.
We decided to take the prisoners back up to the city. Once outside we noticed the sun had returned. We handed the two prisoners to the guards and asked them to lock them up. The guards gladly took the prisoners. We also noticed that Justin was still there with her group.
Gerran took Justin aside to tell her of our suspicions of the mercenaries, the Blue Duke, King Snurre, and a possible attack on the city. To keep the information private they went into Orak Stonehaven‘s office and closed the door. While this was going on, Listens to Wind noticed the two new half-orc recruits in Justin’s patrol appeared to be all business and that they didn’t appear to recognize the two prisoners.
We headed back down into Drakthar’s Way to the spot where we found the human mage and tiefling fighter. We found three rooms, two were goblin rooms and the other room to the west held several wooden crates and casks. There was a bird cage emblazoned on these items,too. There waes enough food, ale and water to feed three people for a month.
We headed back down the tunnel and found nothing. The tunnel opened out onto the slopes of Mount Cauldron, somewhere in the jungle. Listens to Wind began to look for tracks. He found what appeared to be six sets of footprints that had recently approached the mouth of the tunnel that we had just exited; these tracks seemed to have been joined by a small set of dwarven footprint that appeared to be coming from deeper in the tunnel. Those footprints traveled up to the apartments and then they hurriedly went back down the stairs and out into the jungle. The tracks went for awhile and, as night fell, Listens noticed that the dwarven footprints went one way and the others headed in a completely different direction. We decided to head due south and find a road. When we reached the road we marked the location on our map and then headed back to town.
When we came to the city we noticed we were approaching the Southern Gate. The familiar voice of Private Krewis shouted down to us from the torchlit watch towers high above us, “Halt, who goes there?”, to which we cried out “It is us and we are the Moonhowlers!”
~ and all was well.