1 Awakening 508
It is New Year’s Day in Kalimsport and it is an inauspicious start of the year for Lenoria. After an ill-advised political argument with two Sianaean merchants in the common room of The Elixir and the Prayer, she now finds herself on the run through the streets of the city, the merchants shouting imprecations at her as she bluffs her way past a baker bundled down with his wares. She turns a corner finds herself in a cluttered alleyway. She tries to climb over the clutter, but to no avail. She turns to see the merchants arriving and drawing clubs, smiling, as they call her a “disloyalist bitch” in Sianaean.
It is a rough morning for Rhain Ortha as well. He has spent the night in an alleyway with his horse after being kicked out of the Enchanted Staff for starting a drunken brawl. He awakes in the small alcove he settled himself into the night before to see a young Southron woman with raven tattoos on her face run past him being chased by two wealthy-looking men with clubs. Where he comes from, two men chasing a woman can not be up to any good. He hefts his weapons and steps out into the alley behind the men.
One of the men notices the big the Northron stepping out into the alley and nudges his friend to get his attention. The men take in both the Southron woman and the Northron man surrounding them and one asks is this is a robbery. Rhain responds that he was wondering the same thing, with two men chasing a woman down an alley. Lenoria says that it was a difference of political opinion. One of the men in the middle agrees, stating that this is a private matter. Rhain shows no sign of leaving. So one man says to the other, “Come, Renzo, let’s get back to the ship.” The other man, Renzo, asks Rhain, “Will you let us pass?” After a second’s consideration, Rhain says, “No,” and attacks!
One merchant goes for Lenoria, while the other, Renzo, goes for Rhain. The merchants prove to be more formidable than either combatant thought. Nevertheless, the barbarian makes short work of the two men after Lenoria manages to break her weapon trying to dispatch her opponent. Rhain quickly takes the two men’s belt pouches and ushers Lenoria out of the alleyway. The two introduce themselves as they walk and decide to split the proceeds from the belt pouches once they find a place to sit. Talking along the way, they decide to head to the first tavern they find, The Two Talismans.
At the tavern, they split the gold found on the merchants—a whopping sixty gold pieces total. They celebrate with some food and drink and decide to celebrate New Year’s together. As the two continue to get acquainted, and the bar fills up with local patrons celebrating the holiday, they notice a pair of travelers come in. One, a young woman wearing a longsword, a shield, and a breastplate, is accompanied by a slighter companion, a man wearing a short sword and studded leather armor. They occupy a nearby table and attempt to converse in low tones, though it is hard in the noisy tavern. They have to raise their voices to be heard by each other, allowing Lenoria and Rhain to overhear their conversation. . .
“. . .it could be our chance," says the young man.
“Could be dangerous. . .”
“Yeah. . .but there could be treasure as well. Maybe some priceless ancient trinket or some such.”
“Or maybe goblins. Or worse. Where is this thing, anyway?”
“Ten miles south. In the foothills. Near a crystal formation. There’s a pit, maybe an old air shaft or something. We can lower a rope and go right inside. Take a look around. Climb back out. No worries.”
“We’ll need rope.”
“Among other things. We’ll provision in the morning and then head out. Come on, sis. It’ll be great!”
“No, it probably it won’t be. But I’ve got your back and I’ll be there.”
Lenoria and Rhain give each other significant glances. After a brief discussion over whether or not to invite themselves into the expedition or to simply take it out from under them, the two decide to team up and approach the two young travelers about joining them.
Lenoria interrupts their conversation, indicating that she couldn’t help but overhear their discussion and that she felt that she and her companion could be of some assistance, considering the possible danger involved. She seems to win the brother and sister pair over, despite some disconcerting asides from Rhain (where he brings up both the sister’s reluctance to go and the fact that it would be better to have he and Lenoria’s cooperation than their competition). The two introduce themselves as Alun and Kerra. In the course of the conversation, it is revealed that Alun is a scout and that Kerra is skilled with a sword. Lenoria reveals herself to be a priestess of Imtiau—a fact that seems to take Rhain by surprise.
After agreeing to go on this expedition together, Rhain suggests further cementing their camaraderie by spending the day together at the New Year’s Faire and by taking rooms at the same inn. Everyone is amenable to the idea and, after consulting with the barkeep as to available inns in the city, they decide to go to the Dragon’s Flagon near the south gate, being as how they’ll be exiting the city to the south anyway.
Lenoria leaves the tavern and collects her horse from the stables at the Elixir and the Prayer, heading back to the Two Talismans to meet back with the others. Then they all leave for the Dragon’s Flagon to secure rooms for the night before returning to the city center for the Faire.
At the Faire they all eat, drink, and play games and generally enjoy all of the entertainment provided. There are minstrels and jugglers and puppet shows and the like, as well as many merchants hawking their wares. Alun and Kerra are fairly frugal with their funds, but Rhain, flush with his new-found gold, seems determined to enjoy himself at the Faire. He pays a copper for nearly any game of skill he can find, winning numerous trinkets and dolls along the way. Finally he finds a game more to his liking—an axe throwing competition. His prowess with the weapon gets him to the final round, but he falls short—much to his dismay. He tosses his many, lesser, prizes and remains in a sour mood for much of the afternoon.
Along the way, Lenoria engages in conversation with the brother and sister duo, discovering that they originally hail from Crownport. Alun also reveals that he discovered the hole en route to Kalimsport with Kerra, though they did not have the means to explore it at the time so he waited to bring it up to his sister. In the meantime, Rhain finds another competition to test his mettle—the Taber toss. Once again, his strength manages to get him to the final round, but, even after Lenoria bestows the luck of her goddess upon him, he falls short of the final win. He drags himself off of the field, wishing to “bear his shame alone.” Lenoria tries to cheer him, though he broods for the remainder of the day.
Finally, after a full day of celebration, the new companions head back to the Dragon’s Flagon to rest for the next day’s expedition. Lenoria ends the day with special prayers of thanks to Imtiau.
2 Awakening 508
The newly-formed party head out first thing in the morning from Dragon’s Flagon and out of the south gate of the city. From the guards at the gate, they learn that the exit will have them entering the country of Kuskar. This means little to the intrepid adventurers and they move eagerly to the south in search of treasure and adventure.
Travel is slow, as neither Alun nor Kerra have mounts (unlike Rhain and Lenoria), but by midday Alun announces that they have reached the crystal formation that he’s been looking for as a landmark. Sure enough, they can see the sun glinting off of crystals embedded in the side of a large boulder. Alun indicates that the others should hang back as he checks out the hole first and he cautiously approaches the area near the boulder.
The others watch as Alun drops to the ground near the landmark, presumably at the site of the hole. Soon, he rises and makes his way cautiously back to the assembled companions. He says that he could see debris from where the hole had fallen through and a stonework floor below. He also says that he thought he heard movement down below. Something is down there, but he couldn’t get a good look at it. It’s decided that the rest of the party will approach and see what they can see.
Soon, everyone is gathered around the hole. Lenoria picks up a nearby stone and says a brief prayer over it. It is then engulfed in light. She casts the stone down into the hole, lighting up the entire room. In the light they all see a hideous, reptilian humanoid that hisses in the light and ducks out of sight as quickly as it can.
A knotted rope is quickly secured to the side of the hole and Rhain quickly climbs down into the lit room. It is a largish chamber, wider than the light given off by the stone thrown by Lenoria. Mosaics line the walls that depict the reptilian humanoids supplicating themselves before shadowy shapes floating in the sky. The floor bears a shallow pool, full of debris from the hole above it. Two archways lead to the west while a door leads to the north and another door leads to the east. Alun says that the humanoid ducked to the east. Rhain declares the way to be clear, so the rest of the party make their way down the rope.
Once everyone is down the rope, Rhain encourages Alun to lead the way. The scout chooses to start with the archways to the west. He leads down the hall, with Lenoria lighting their way with her prayer. He finds that the two archways meet in the same hallway and that hallway continues down and turns left back toward the direction of the room they just left, ending In a door. Alun checks the doors for traps and to see if it is locked. Satisfied on both counts, he opens the door to reveal a long, narrow chamber with mosaics on the walls depicting the reptilian humanoids in underground tunnels marching to war.
This room has a door to the west—presumably leading back to the entry chamber—and a door to the north. Alun checks the door to the north and finds that it is locked. He says that they can turn back and go another way or he can try to get past the lock. They opt to get past the lock. So he pulls out a leather pouch full of small tools and he works on the lock. Click! The lock is turned and they continue through the door into a hallway that ends in another door. Alun once again examines this door and opens it up into another long, narrow chamber.
This room bears mosaics with the reptilian humanoids engaging in ecstatic dances—some of them highly disturbing in their explicitness. Another door lies to the south of the room. Alun once again examines it and finds that it is locked. He uses his tools on the lock and once again conquers it. The door opens into a very short passage to another locked door. Alun stands in the passage and uses his tools on the lock. He then opens the door—and shuts it quickly. “There’re three of those things in there!” Everyone backs up into the narrow chamber and Rhain positions himself in doorway in hopes of bottlenecking any attackers in the passage.
Sure enough, the barbarian is accosted by two of the hideous creatures. Both are dispatched, one at a time in the bottleneck. “I thought you said there were three,” Rhain asks. Alun affirms that there were three. Lenoria offers to heal the barbarian, who bows his head and accepts. Then the party makes their way through the short passage into the room where the creatures came from.
This room is similar in size to the entry chamber. It, too, has a pool in the center of the room. Mosaics on the walls depict the creatures worshipping shadowy figures emerging from the sea. There is a door in the north end of the room. Alun checks out the door and, satisfied, leads the way through it into a long hallway.
The hallway ends in another door. Alun gives it his usual examination and opens it, revealing a small room filled with the debris of a fallen wall. Another door greets them on the far side of the room. Alun checks this door as well and declares it free of traps and unlocked. The party moves on into another, longer, hallway.
As the party continues down the corridor, Rhain decides to try and track the missing humanoid. Sure enough, he finds a track—probably made by the dusty debris from the previous room—leading down the hall. When the corridor leads to a fork, he is able to track the humanoid down one of the forks into another locked door. Alun makes short work of the lock and opens the door into another narrow room. This room bears mosaics depicting the reptilian humanoids enslaving other primitive humanoids and leading them into underground chambers. At the southern end of the room is a door and an archway. Another door leads to the west. Rhain finds another track that leads them to the archway, so they continue in that direction.
A short corridor leads to another door. Alun checks it out and the party continues through it into a largish room with bare walls and a floor full of filthy cloth pallets. Another archway leads to the south.
After following a brief, slightly turning corridor, the party finds themselves facing a door and a portcullis that lead into the same room. Through the portcullis they can see into the room and its three occupants. One is seated upon a throne made of discarded bones. It wears a skull headdress and is obviously in a position of authority. Another is a hulking specimen of the reptilian humanoids that the party has encountered thus far. The third is another of the hideous creatures, pointing frantically in their direction. The figure on the throne motions toward the party, speaking words that are not understood, and suddenly both Kerra and Rhain feel fear and a lack of hope creep into their being. The larger creature begins moving toward the portcullis.
The party retreats all the way back to the narrow chamber with the enslavement mosaic. There, Rhain, having shaken off the effects of whatever the enthroned creature had done to him and Kerra, prepares to bottleneck the coming attack in the archway. As expected, the brutish creature makes his way up the passage and through the archway. Rhain meets him in combat and eventually vanquishes him, though not before taking a crushing blow from the creature’s club. Lenoria attempts to heal him, with only modest effects. Kerra gives him a vial whose contents revitalize him considerably.
Before exploring the rest of the complex, the party decides to take on the enthroned creature and his lackey. A head-on attack is considered to be best. The party then heads back through the archway, through the pallet room, and into the corridor that leads to the throne room. Here Lenoria bestows the blessing of her goddess upon the party and divine luck upon Rhain who will be leading the attack.
Rhain springs into action. Running into the room, he barrels past the lackey and attacks the enthroned creature, slaying him so quickly that he doesn’t even have time to rise from his seat. Soon, the lackey is slain as well. Keys are collected from their corpses, though no other treasure can be found.
The room has two archways to the west. Alun once again leads the way, taking the north-most archway into winding corridor that leads into an empty room. Another archway leads to the west and a door leads to the east. They take the archway to the west, which takes them into a longish corridor that ends in a portcullis. Gazing into the room, they can see it is one of the narrow chambers with another mosaic depicting the reptilian humanoids eating the flesh of some large, prehistoric creature. Another portcullis is embedded in this chamber’s western wall.
As they open the portcullis leading into this chamber, they hear the portcullis on its western wall begin to open and two more of the hideous creatures emerge to engage with them. Soon, they are defeated as soundly as their brethren and the party move on to see what was in the room from which they emerged.
This room is another of the larger rooms, like the entry chamber, with a pool in the center and a mosaic depicting the monstrous creatures worshipping shadowy forms emerging from flames. A door in the southern end of the room leads back into the corridor from which the party came.
Frustrated with the strange design of the complex, the party decides to backtrack all the way to the narrow room in which they defeated the brutish specimen of the creatures. From there, they take the southern door and go down a winding corridor into a small room in which a tunnel has been dug into the eastern wall. After dispatching two of the hideous reptilian humanoids guarding the tunnel, they decide to see what lies beyond in the tunnel. . .