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» The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah
The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah - Page 2 EmptySun Mar 17, 2019 3:19 pm by The Sub-Creator

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The Faith of a Few - The Crimson Throne Journal of Chazon h'Besorah

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:05 am

15 Desnus, 4715 – Night continued

We exited the lift into a demented art gallery, where murals of skeletal undead—all obviously having succumbed to bloodveil—cavorted with one another throughout. These murals were fashioned with great care, indicative that whomever created them desired an ending to our current plague-ridden city to match. How very Urgathoan of them. To anyone with taste and a conscience, this scenery evoked disgust at the depravity of a grotesque mind.

Merethyl examined the artwork and deduced its origins somewhere around one-to-four months ago. As bloodveil just appeared in the city roughly a week ago, give or take a day, this little display proved this whole epidemic had been planned out some time ago. We knew the secrets of the plague doctors’ purpose here, but this evidence showed it all to be contrived months in advance, at the very least. This evil has been lying in wait beneath the city for some time. Syrical wondered aloud whether this may clear the Queen of any intentional involvement in the plot, as she probably had no desire to rule the city of death that these murals depicted. Or, perhaps she knew of the plague, had devised plans of her own concerning it, but never intended for it to get this far? There are other possible scenarios, and many would seek to heap this upon her head, regardless. We’ll need to remain vigilant to truly determine the reality and be very mindful about how much we lay blame without actual proof. What evidence we have feels damning, but there no clearcut link for us to drive home the nail completely. Her Grey Maidens work with these Urgathoan physicians, but do they absolutely know the truth of these physicians? Do they know of this place? We can’t say for sure just yet.

Not desiring for any here to escape our ability to interrogate them, Merethyl studied the controls of the lift for a few moments, then effectively disabled them. None can flee this place that way now without some work to fix all he has broken . . . which includes us, of course. It would appear we’re committed fully.

Our party moved to the north door, decorated as it was with more skeletons holding the favored weapon of Urgathoa—the scythe—in their bony grasp. Merethyl and Calcedon led the way and triggered a trap set in the door . . . A green, noxious gas breathed out through the nostrils of the skeletons, and, at the same time, the arms animated outward and swiped the scythes in a decapitating arc. Calcedon ducked beneath his, but Merethyl reacted slower. The blade’s point raked the skin from beneath his chin, missing his throat by the narrowest of margins, and only because of the natural fleeing motion that occurs whenever the eye catches something speedily approaching it. As quickly as the situation started, all went back to normal. The gas, which appeared to do very little, evaporated from sight, and the scythes retracted back into the images on the door. Calcedon threw it open immediately, as if to not allow the wicked trap another opportunity at their heads.

Beyond that first obstacle resided a storage room. A score of plague doctor outfits and tools at least filled the chamber, though only a couple of their frightening masks rested upon a table at its opposite side. Merethyl voiced a strong desire to disguise ourselves as plague doctors to more easily move through the sublevel, but Calcedon disapproved. Lest we all desired to switch out our weaponry for the physicians’ masterful clubs, he stated, our individuality would certainly be noted swiftly by all we stumbled across. Lord Fordyce has a strong-willed appreciation for forthrightness when dealing with enemies. Though rather adept at the use of disguise himself—both magical and mundane, he much prefers the brutally straight-forward approach of handling problems. I’m not one for disguises myself, I’ll admit, and I know Glannin prefers a straight up fight over sneaking and subterfuge, but I’m somewhat shocked to hear Calcedon continually shoot down clandestine ideas. I’d have thought him a man more concerned with the details, being one of great artistic talents. People will surprise you from time-to-time. Of course, he also trained to be a hellknight, and subtlety has never been high on their list of problem-solving techniques either.

Having scrapped the disguise notion entirely, we passed through the eastern door into one of their sleeping chambers—obviously Urgathoan, because the beds were covered in funeral trappings rather than the common cover. Seven lively folk awaited us within, as well. Three of them wore the attire of the plague doctors, but the other four donned breastplates and scythes—the calling card of an Urgathoan cleric or a redcap, but these appeared nothing like the latter.

Afraid that if we allowed such a large number allotted against us time to maneuver, they may well block us off and bottleneck us in the doorway, I requested a shielding of faith from the Last Azlanti, then charged in among the physicians. They quickly surrounded me as Merethyl ran by to engage the first of the clerics. I successfully parried the first club, but the second and third struck me hard on the shoulder and head. The last certainly would have dropped me babbling to the ground had I not been afforded the protection of Aroden, which softened the otherwise lethal blow. A small thundercloud enveloped a second of the clerics, obscuring him from sight, while Calcedon and Glannin attacked the physician I’d defended against. The nobleman’s fauchard landed solidly on the enemy’s back, directly between the shoulder blades, but he’d turned the blade downward at just the last moment so that it jarred the man powerfully, but nonlethally.

Aroden infused my blade with holy power against the physician, which enabled me to butt him atop the head with my pommel and knock him out cold. Merethyl stepped over from the cleric he had attacked and skewered a plague doctor through the small of his back. Undeniably masochistic, the man willfully slid off the impaling rapier while moving to my left and swung his club at me! I batted the weak swing away with my gauntleted forearm, which provided an opening for his friend to bash me on the back of my head. A flood of white light filled my vision for a split second, then parted to my peripheral. Glannin slapped me on the back with encouraging words akin to, “Hang in there, Chaz!” and the stars cleared from my vision immediately.

Behind me, Syrical cried out that Grey Maidens were behind us, then swept into the room, deftly dodging the attacks of both plague doctors.

Grey Maidens here in the sublevel. So, that’s no longer a question, I suppose.

I heard more than saw Calcedon enter the room, then the door slammed shut. My attention focused more on the four Urgathoan clerics that encircled Merethyl and swiped lethally with their scythes at the same time! The elf’s limberness helped him dodge or block two of the slashing blades, but the other two penetrated armor, flesh, and possibly bone. Though he fought hard to conceal it, the investigator’s step carried a hitch for the rest of the fight after those two blows.

Calcedon’s voice bellowed over the din of combat at that moment, his strong vocals singing about the founding of Korvosa, specifically a battle waged against the Shoanti. I can’t tell you how, but I found the words most inspiring, as did the rest of my companions, judging by how we straightened up with a renewed vigor even after the crippling wounds a couple of us had taken.

With the amount of damage I had sustained, even after Glannin’s healing, I struggled to find clarity. This promised to be a long and hard engagement, so I deemed to pass judgment on this situation, which I channeled through divine healing. Slowly, I recognized my body’s injuries mending, but the first thing it succeeded in doing was dissipating the murkiness in my head and vision. The wounded plague doctor pounced in to club me again, but I stepped inside the blow and delivered one of my own with the flat of my crossguard. A second club cracked me at the base of the neck, almost driving me to my knees. I glanced over my shoulder at the enemy, who appeared ready to cave in my head, and saw Syrical raising his crossbow at the physician. Crossbows failed to be small or silent, and the plague doctor whirled about and hurried a glancing blow off the elf’s forearm. The crossbow clicked, and the bolt wedged itself deep beneath the enemy’s left clavicle. Then, behind the wizard, a scythe of pure force materialized and sliced into his shoulder.

I heard Merethyl cry out in wicked pain and realized that I still had a threat before me. I hated to leave Syrical with the other, but it would do neither of us any good if I died looking behind me. The smell of charred flesh suddenly wafted into the air, followed by the thud of a breastplate slamming the ground beneath the force of a body. I brought my sword up for a blind parry just in case, only to watch as Calcedon garnered the attention of the physician I’d been concerned about with a chop of his fauchard. The plague doctor skipped away just in time to avoid injury.

The western door flew open again to reveal a Grey Maiden, who swiftly ducked out of the way as an arrow flew past Glannin’s head. He immediately slammed the door shut, then stepped away from our little fight against the physicians to do battle against a Urgathoan cleric.

I saw Merethyl stab an Urgathoan dangerously close to the groin, effectively sapping all the strength had boy had to swing that scythe effectively. In the foreground of that exchange, Calcedon attempted to scuttle away from an Urgathoan scythe, but they proved notoriously difficult to dodge away from, and its dulled blade severed into his left hip. The nobleman pinned the scythe there with his fauchard, then delivered a lethal backhand with his thorned bracer that punctured the cleric’s temple, ending the Urgathoan’s existence. I turned on the last plague doctor left standing, but he looked ready for me. I sought to give him the flat of my blade upside the head, but he hastily ducked beneath the attack and bludgeoned me to the gut. Just after, one of the Urgathoan clerics that had been hanging back availed himself of my sudden defenselessness and raked down my back with his scythe. My magical chain mesh absorbed most of it, but what got through felt as though it raked across my vertebrae like a filleting knife. Thank Aroden it only felt like that, because had it actually occurred, I wouldn’t have walked away . . . though I knew myself to be close to not walking away from this anyway!

For the umpteenth time, the western door flung open, and an arrow aimed to do damage on Glannin soared by. Unimpressed, the dwarf filled the doorway and leveled a hack with his waraxe at the Grey Maiden there. She danced backward, quite agile in her masterwork plate armor. Her desire to dance away from that decapitating cut left the door unguarded, however . . . the dwarf nodded at her, reached forward and casually closed the door in her face for the umpteenth-plus-one time.

Once more, I charged my sword with Aroden’s power to make it a bane to mine enemies, and the weapon performed its task perfectly, as its pommel smashed down into the plague doctor’s face. Despite having the maske there for protection, the power behind the blow toppled the last of the physicians into unconsciousness. I spun about to face the Urgathoan and managed to interfere with his scythe’s arc by interposing the vertical blade of my sword between it and my body. I felt the bludgeoning impact of my own weapon, but it saved me a great deal more hurt by the edge of that scythe!

Beside me, Calcedon traded blows with another cleric, and while our bardic nobleman displayed bloody wounds to make Zon-Kuthon proud ( . . . my apologies, Calcedon; that was in poor taste . . . ), it proved the Urgathoan who received the worst of that exchange, as the unconscious body that flopped to the ground would profess.

I’ll not rehash the events at the revolving door. It takes little imagination to know what happened there.

Even with Aroden’s judgment healing me slowly, the damage I’d endured to this point crippled me terribly. I launched a half-hearted attempt at the cleric with my sword, but it missed wildly. Thus, I stepped away from him and drew out the healing wand given me as a gift from Tiora, the young woman I’ve been helping steer away from her criminal past. Another arrow skipped off the entryway stone, as Glannin recognized how dangerous my wounds had become and healed me a second time. Unfortunately, this time it cost him a little lifeblood of his own. The Grey Maiden he’d been playing musical door with took advantage of his distraction and skewered him with her sword. Sadly, that would prove her undoing at the hands of the dwarf, who would slaughter her mercilessly with two hefty swings of his waraxe in the moments that followed.

Merethyl had worked his way into a door cubby on the other side of the chamber via a fighting retreat. The elf looked far the worse for wear, and things got worse when the Urgathoan I had stepped away from chose to go and heal his companion rather than pursue me—the companion combating Merethyl. When that cleric—who’d strode away a short distance from the investigator to get healed—decided to throw a spell at Merethyl to no effect, it seemed the opening he needed to escape that cornered position. Just as he tensed to make his move, however, the door behind him hurled open, and a Grey Maiden pushed through it with sword leading. He contorted his body with the full measure of elven gracefulness to avoid that attack, and it all but shattered his plan at that point. Battered and bleeding profusely from at least a half-dozen wounds, Merethyl had nowhere to hide from the Grey Maiden newcomer.

Syrical had been slinging crossbow bolts rather ineffectually since his clavicle moment a while ago, but seeing his elven companion in dire straits, he moved his thundercloud over one of the Urgathoans, where its internal lightning added a mixture of blue flashes to the orange torch light. Soon after, the thundercloud dissipated, but that failed to be of use to the Urgathoan, as Calcedon moved in and cracked the man into unconsciousness with the haft of his fauchard.

I tapped myself a second time with the wand, then moved forward to do my part for the investigator by trying to steal the attention of at least one of the clerics. I triumphed in doing so until Merethyl rammed his rapier through the left side of the man’s neck. Blood spurted from the wound, but rather than eliminate the threat, a sudden rage entered the Urgathoan’s eyes, and he swept his scythe in a deadly horizontal arc that gouged the investigator deep into his thigh. The stabbing of the cleric kept Merethyl too close to the Grey Maiden, and he paid for that mistake by taking a slashing sword across the back that felled him.

I dropped the last of the Urgathoans into blessed sleep—an endeavor made easier by his having turned his back to me to inflict pain on Merethyl. I then rushed into the Grey Maiden’s path, refusing to grant her a free shot at our fallen companion—whom I assessed to still be drawing breath. She tried her best to have me join the elf on the ground with a quick maneuver that batted my defensively-positioned sword aside, then slashed me across the front of my torso. The chain mesh warded off the attack but neglected to prevent the pain of the blow. Summoning Aroden’s power to my blade once again, I returned the favor of her sword slash with one of my own, though my aim bit through the chain mesh at the back of her knee.

A gold coin whipped through the air and penetrated the Grey Maiden’s armor, really causing her to have a bad day. I suddenly had my hands full with the second Grey Maiden on this side of the room, though I spied Calcedon lending aid to Merethyl while desperately fending off her sword swings.

The bloody battle continued in the room between the lot of us and two Grey Maidens. Glannin had fought his Grey Maiden back into the storage room, where I heard him proclaim the presence of skeletons milling about in the small room by the lift. I feared for the life of that woman, having witnessed what the dwarf had done to her compatriot in the doorway. However, the two Grey Maidens fighting us offered a fine showing that saw me hitting nothing but getting hit by something. Calcedon tripped the first Maiden—she that had dropped Merethyl. For his part, the elf had feigned death until he recognized the Grey Maiden on the floor. Ever the vengeance-seeker, he grabbed his rapier and thrust it straight through the eye hole in the Grey Maiden’s helm, while I simultaneously dent the side of the other’s helm to knock her out.

Syrical moved back into the storage room to help Glannin with his signature frost rays. Seeing the last of this chamber’s threats unconscious or dead on the floor, I hurried across its length to join the fight against the last of the Grey Maidens, being sure to instruct the dwarf to withdraw from this fight and destroy those skeletons in the other room. He was reluctant at first, but I’m pleased to say he listened to reason and departed. Calcedon arrived immediately after, and between the three of us—Syrical being the third, we quickly dropped the Grey Maiden into the painful slumber of a good, nonlethal beating.

The skeletons in the other room had no chance against Glannin, though Calcedon also joined in to help destroy them. In the aftermath of this amazingly difficult confrontation, I used my want to heal myself and Calcedon, while Glannin cured the wounds sustained by Syrical. We stripped the enemy of their valuables, including armor and weapons, then tied them up for future imprisonment. The room they’d come from held nothing of value or interest, so we swung back around to the barracks and entered the central chamber through the door opened by the Grey Maiden. There the dead lined the walls in a grotesque display of death and undeath known as “Princess’s Bacchanal,” an unholy piece of Urgathoan art meant to convey the message, “In the end, may you be undead.” Other than this sickening piece of meaningful art, nothing else resided in this small hall, so we took a chance at opening the westernmost door on the south side of the wall. It revealed eight beds with iron straps holding down unconscious or unwilling occupants. Cutting implements for torturous surgeries were situated near a couple of the beds, and a huge brown stain was splattered against the wall near one of the beds. Whatever experimentation happened here was obviously no joke.

Two plague doctors and two Urgathoan clerics stood toward the other side of the chamber. Having heard us coming, they had just released a trio of zombies strapped to the beds on the far end. Behind them all, in a short hallway that led to another door, dwelled a fifth man in the accoutrements of a necromancy. He was a pale and blotchy fellow, and he failed to find our arrival comforting or joyous.

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This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:19 pm

15 Desnus, 4715 – Night continued

The physicians decided it wise not to close on our position too quickly and hung back. After all our searching, looting, and binding of prisoners in the last chamber, Aroden’s protections had ceased, so I beckoned them back before going in this time. Glannin refused to wait and charged in. One of the plague doctors swiped at him with a club, but it deflected harmlessly off his armor. The dwarf’s axe suffered no such problem against the man’s flesh, and blood splattered the ground.

Syrical must have recognized the blotchy one as a mage, because he slid up behind Merethyl and never took his eyes off the man. I could tell he readied something in his mind—arcane words, perhaps.

The three zombies ambled off their beds sluggishly, but methodically. At the foot of those beds, one of the Urgathoans silently cast a spell, while the other moved out of sight towards the other door into the room. The wizard near the back barked at us, “You are interrupting very important work here!” The next words from his mouth were an incantation that caused Glannin to halt his assault for a brief moment, then shake his head, as if warding off some compulsion. I’ve not yet grown knowledgeable enough to recognize all the spells that wizards cast, but I’m certain Syrical identified it. Despite his intense concentration on the man, the elf made no effort against him, so whatever it was that the enemy had conjured musn’t have been so bad. Calcedon entered the room and tripped the wounded physician with very little trouble.

All the while, Merethyl stood in the doorway, unmoving, his eyes locked on the enemy magic-user as if he’d seen the man that had murdered his family . . . and that should have been a clue to me as to the enemy wizard’s identity. As it was, it only dawned on me after the investigator broke into a mad dash that appeared to startle everyone with its boldness. Not a single weapon leveled at Merethyl as he darted between and around the plague doctors, Urgathoan clerics, and zombies alike . . . his destination the man he’d not yet taken his eyes from.

Rolth Lamm.

The necromancer shouted that Merethyl had dogged him all his life, that he would kill the elf slowly and animate him afterward. His hands suddenly burst into intricate gestures, and arcane words spewed from his lips as he stepped away from Merethyl. Syrical’s body tensed ever-so-slightly, then immediately began to mimic the gestures of Rolth, but reversed. A surge of transparent power—more recognizable in its intensity, being heavier than the air and rippling it disturbingly—released from Syrical’s open palm but a brief second after the Keylock Killer completed his own spell. Unfortunately, a pair of flame rays that erupted from our enemy’s open palm sliced right through the elf’s released energy to blast Merethyl and Glannin hard in their chests. It seemed to bypass their armor entirely, scorching dark marks of ebony soot where the magical power had connected and eliciting sharp hisses from both companions. Syrical looked none-too-pleased by the result.

A sudden fury lit in the dwarf’s eyes. Without bothering to even look at the physician lying at his feet, Glannin dropped his shoulder enough to undercut his axe in a broad, underhanded arc that clobbered the plague doctor beneath the chin with the flat of the blade. I don’t believe he intended to use the blunt part of the axe, but he hardly cared in that moment! He plowed over and through the beds in his way to the necromancer, pressing a healing hand against his wound as he went, murder in his eyes. The dazed physician on the floor never bothered to club Glannin as the dwarf barreled by, then failed to get the chance for future harm when Calcedon smashed him upside the head and knocked him into blissful unconsciousness.

The second plague doctor maneuvered into the space beside Calcedon and beat him hard on the shoulder. I prayed for Aroden’s divine favor during this battle, then leapt into the fray, seeking to cut off the physician’s position before Lord Fordyce. The Urgathoan near the second door quickly moved to me, but I parried his scythe before it could touch flesh.

Meanwhile, the second Urgathoan and all three zombies poured over to Merethyl—a strategy that should have cut the investigator off completely from the rest of us but didn’t due to the rampaging dwarf breaking beds to get there—and attacked with unholy fury. I’ve never witnessed the elf perform such a remarkable feat of simultaneous dodging and parrying as I did at that moment. Not a single weapon—natural or otherwise—even knicked a portion of his armor. At the completion of his defensive work, Merethyl lunged forward and buried his rapier hilt-deep into Rolth’s gut. His nemesis stepped back, sliding off the blade now thickly wetted with his own blood and threw out a finger pointed . . . Glannin’s way? It shocked me that the necromancer paid little heed to the serious stomach wound, and even more so that he ignored the deadly threat of the elf beside him for that of the dwarf! I suppose that a charging dwarf bashing aside beds in plate armor and with bloodied axe could be a sight worthy of intimidating anyone! Luckily, the black ray that shot from his extended finger struck a bed that the lumbering dwarf had shouldered before him, converting it into a brief, improvised shield that absorbed the attack without consequences to Glannin.

I sought to pommel the physician beside me, but the display of Rolth’s arcane might and the sheer rage of elf and dwarf concerned me enough to distract. The plague doctor parried my blow rather easily, I’m ashamed to admit, while both Urgathoans turned their scythes on me, with neither of them missing! Too close to the fight now for the fauchard, Calcedon backhanded the physician with his thorn bracer and punctured a series of small holes into the man’s head, cheek, and neck. The doctor gave as good as he got, however, whacking the nobleman with his club in an incapacitating attempt against the hip. Calcedon ignored the painful shot and refused to go down, though the physician certainly did when my pommel bashed the back of his head. That left only the pair of Urgathoans to combat Calcedon, Syrical (whose crossbow had launched a couple bolts, but had yet to hit anything), and myself. With the odds in our favor now, I hoped we might incapacitate the two men swiftly so I might interpose myself into the fight with Rolth, as I feared the blind rage of my companions currently facing the necromancer would surely kill the man rather than capture him for the rightful justice of the courts.

Glannin had reached the necromancer now and delivered a vicious chop meant to decapitate him (my point made), but the wizard ducked beneath it, quickly rattled off a spell, then touched the dwarf with a bare hand. At first, Glannin’s muscles seemed to constrict, as if locking solidly into a rigid position, but then he regained control of them through sheer force of will and hacked at the wizard again! Though obviously surprised his spell failed to afflict the dwarven warrior, the necromancer dodged the arching waraxe, then deftly twisted his body to miss the rapier’s point that plunged for his exposed side. The investigator’s strike proved nothing more than a feint, however, intended to reveal the next enemy’s next move. With lightning speed, the tip of that rapier angled up and to the right, where it plunged in an upward advance beneath the necromancer’s sternum.

Necromancers have a rare knowledge for undeath, certainly, but they are as mortal as you or I . . . and that assault should have killed the man. How it missed his heart made no sense, but it must have, because Rolth only grinned sadistically, stepped away from the weapon that provided the devastating wound, and unleashed a crackling bolt of lightning straight down a line that encompassed the zombies, an Urgathoan cleric, Calcedon, Syrical, and myself! The four living beings convulsed uncontrollably for a split second as the electricity coursed through our bodies, while the mindless undead merely shuddered once . . . then exploded! The concussive force of all three rotted bodies detonating battered Glannin around mercilessly and covered him in a horrific load of gore.

Our fight against the Urgathoans had gone poorly until that painful intercession. I recovered quicker than the Urgathoan and smacked him upside the head. In agony, and still halting in my movements thanks to the lightning, I willed Aroden’s judgment against these evil clerics to heal me, that I might outlast their damage to me and continue his just cause. He tried to retaliate, but I swatted the haft of his scythe that stopped its momentum and stole any lethal power from the attack. I rolled my sword over his weapon and backhanded his jaw with it, spinning the cleric about, and toppling him to the floor, now silent, motionless, but still breathing. With a clear path to Rolth now open before me, I charged forward to join the fray.

Calcedon felt the reaping blade of the other’s scythe, unfortunately, but he weathered the cut with grim determination, despite his countenance growing pale. He landed a strong punch to the enemy’s chin with his thorn bracer, but then cried out in pain as the Urgathoan tilted his weapon’s blade and slid it across the open wound to lengthen and deepen it. Hobbled and weakened, Calcedon used his fauchard haft to push the biting scythe away from his body, then retreated a step and tripped the Urgathoan with a sudden thrust and pull.

As I arrived into the midst of the Rolth fight, I implored my inflamed companions not to kill him, as he could have information we required about whatever this plot might be, as well as who was behind it, and that he could be unsusceptible to divine spells that make the dead talk. I witnessed a keen understanding within Glannin’s eyes after hearing me, and I must say that I’m proud of my dwarven friend for realizing it before his next attack. Rather than cleave the necromancer, he bashed the man with the flat of his axe blade in an attempt to subdue rather than destroy. Yet somehow, though bleeding from half-a-dozen wounds—two of which should easily have been mortal, Rolth staggered between Merethyl and Glannin, spoke a simple command in the arcane tongue, and disappeared.

Having seen it all, Syrical cries out that the necromancer stepped through a dimensional portal that would not have taken him so far away—a few hundred feet, at most. Merethyl immediately bolted from the room.

With his master no longer to be seen, and after being surrounded by Glannin, Calcedon, Syrical, and I, the last Urgathoan cast down his weapon and surrendered.
We gathered the unconscious enemy and placed them with the conscious one after searching them for anything valuable they would no longer need. Calcedon and I used a key we discovered to open the double doors near the back of the room and discovered half-a-dozen holding cells within. Lord Fordyce called out for his Varisian ward, but none shouted in reply. Instead, five arms extended outward from the cell doors. All of these people proved to be Varisians that Rolth had intended to operate on, but Calcedon’s ward was not among them. We released them from their imprisonment.

Of Rolth himself, however, we discovered no sign. Merethyl had not found him in the already explored portions of the complex, and Syrical had requested his House Drake to fly above ground again to see if the necromancer had retreated there. No such luck. Or, as Syrical pointed out, it’s possible that Rolth’s spell could have deposited him either outside the hospice above, or deeper inside this complex. We all hoped for the latter.

We held a conversation with the most physically imposing of the Varisians, a man named Ophraim. He thanked us for the rescue and clarified for all to hear that he’d told his other prisoners that they weren’t destined to die here. I’m certainly glad Arodin listened to his words and permitted us victory to free them. He explained to us that they were brought down here because of their immunity to bloodveil. Outside of Rolth, two others stood out amidst the Urgathoan followers here: a priestess that repeatedly spoke of undeath as a great gift, and a bald man who repeatedly berated the physicians. He described them briefly, but none of us could put a name with the descriptions.

We thanked them for the information disclosed, and Calcedon requested that they explain to the other Varisians above to flee from the hospice, each to their homes or safest place they can find. With Rolth having escaped, and our uncertainty as to his whereabouts, we feared he may bring reinforcements back, and the Varisians would not be safe milling about the place. I asked Ophraim to visit the temple of Aroden after a day or two, that we might ask questions of him should any linger after our investigation here finishes. He agreed gladly. Merethyl fixed the lift during our conversation, so the five Varisians rode it back to the surface.

The cells proved the perfect location to store the Urgathoans without the need of rope or manacles any longer, so we put all the unconscious ones (and the one that wasn’t) in there. Being spellcasters, I broke one of their fingers to prevent them from using magic to manipulate the locks. It seems harsh, I know, but better to cause them a small amount of discomfort than to have them escape and destroy the lives of others . . . including my companions, whose very hearts and minds grow threatened with each life they desire to snuff out in the name of vengeance.

Merethyl checked the doors leading deeper into the complex for traps and found none. We opened them to a large chamber with three vats that spewed noxious green chemical vapor into the air. The smell was awful, and it stung our eyes so much of it had escaped into the room. A walkway with stairs at either end of the chamber rose ten feet above the floor, where the vats could be tended to easier. A single door resided to our left on the walkway, but many doors were set into the walls on the ground level. An elaborate mosaic of Urgathoa herself decorated the ceiling. I’ll not describe it. The wretched goddess deserves no such treatment. Six Urgathoans spread about the room, all ready for us, having heard the battle and conversations in the other room, undoubtedly.

Yet another prayer of shielding uttered from my lips, and I set course for the nearest Urgathoan to engage in battle. Glannin charged through right behind me, though to the right rather than left, the blunt haft between the axe heads thumping the enemy square upon the forehead. Merethyl rushed into the chamber behind the dwarf and ascended the stair onto the catwalk, while Syrical launched a bolt against the enemy upon the catwalk on my side and punctured a hole in his breastplate. All the clerics save two called upon their unholy goddess for battle preparations. The two that didn’t instead moved to doors—one on the walk, the other at the back of the chamber—and banged on them to provide warning of our arrival. Calcedon played advantage during their casting, tripping the opponent opposite me to the floor.

The Urgathoan rolled away from my attack, but failed to get out of Calcedon’s reach, though I appreciated that the nobleman bludgeoned the man rather than sliced a line through him. Glannin disengaged from his opponent to scramble up onto the walkway on the far side from the elf, giving us a presence there on both sides of the room. He bellowed a nasty promise to the cleric there that clearly rattled the man. These misguided fools hid nothing from their faces! The next bolt fired by Syrical at the intimidated cleric flew wide, and the man must have found some ounce of courage from it, because despite the uncertainty of combat with the dwarf, he shuffled in and connected with a wicked chop of his scythe against our companion. On the other side, Merethyl charged at the enemy with a sap, but his swing proved too low, and it deflected off the enemy’s armor. A second swung in from the the perpendicular crosswalk that connected the two sides of the chamber and flanked the elf, finding purchase for his scythe blade high on Merethyl’s right arm. Luckily, it hardly crippled him, and he had closed enough on the other to get inside the scythe’s swing radius, making it easy for him to parry the blow before ever it got underway.

I kicked the enemy at my feet hard in the chin, just as I noticed a shimmering scythe of force materialize before Syrical. It sliced down through the air to cut along the wizard’s left shoulder. Having not suffered a great deal of damage in our fights thus far, I was impressed at how casually the elf absorbed the pain of that wound as he loaded his crossbow, then flung a bolt into the upper thigh of the cleric that cast the divine spell against him!

The enemy at floor level failed to cause any damage to us, though Calcedon smashed the prone one at my feet comatose with his fauchard. He motioned for me to go help Glannin, whose shaken opponent had somehow managed to harness that panic into repeatedly dangerous blows against the dwarf. As I took his advice to heart and started up the stair, Lord Fordyce ran forward to where an Urgathoan had reappeared through a door where he’d been assuring someone knew of our presence and tripped him! I rushed the Urgathoan that seemed to have my companion a bit on his heels and clobbered him just hard enough to try and gain his attention. Admittedly, I tried to hit him much harder, but he mostly ducked away from the worst of it.

On the other side, Merethyl held his own against the two clerics confronting him. Even from so far away, I noted a bloodied welt on the side of the man’s head where the investigator’s sap had struck unusually hard. Merethyl bled from a couple injuries himself, but he looked to be going strong still, which I believed encouraging.

Syrical had shifted his attention to the clerics doubling up on his elfkin, and the cleric in the center of the crosswalk that had been his target decided to join the fray on our side, seeing his companion facing both Glannin and myself. His scythe bludgeoned the dwarf as he approached, though no indication existed that the strike had penetrated the steel plate anywhere. I recognized that the numerous hits he’d taken had started to wear on Glannin, so I removed the healing wand from my belt and returned some of his vitality. It worked wonders, and the dwarf’s next swing pummeled the original enemy into unwanted restfulness.

As I peered across at the investigator, things had taken a bit of a turn. A pair of new wounds had slowed his steps a bit, and I saw how he labored to stay inside the killing range of both scythes. Help arrived from below, as the cleric Calcedon had been tussling with made the mistake of trying to climb to his feet, and the nobleman had beat him back down with a final blow of his fauchard. Reaching up with the long-hafted weapon, he caught the ankle of an unsuspecting Urgathoan and tugged back. The victim cracked his head against a metal railing as he fell and laid unmoving upon the catwalk. Merethyl attempted to use the opening to quaff a potion, which he just succeeded in doing when the second cleric sheered through his armor with a terrible, hacking swing that felled the investigator atop the unconscious man Calcedon had just outmaneuvered.

Afraid that the cleric of undeath would attempt to finish him off, I tapped Glannin with the healing wand one more time, then rushed along the crosswalk, yelling the name of Aroden the whole way to gain the Urgathoan’s attention. I’m happy to say it worked, though less enthused at my inability to parry the scythes blade before him struck me just below the left armpit. My chain mesh warded off the worst of it, but I could feel links dig into the skin underneath. Calcedon rammed the point of his fauchard through the small openings in the catwalk from below and stuck the unholy cleric through the bottom of the foot. From the way the man howled, it must have chipped away a portion of his foot bone. We traded swings—again, his connected with me, with mine failing off his breastplate, when Calcedon played a healing tune from below that helped Merethyl just enough to cause his eyes to flutter open. Feeling a little rejuvenated, I deeked a forehand chop with my sword, which resulted in the Urgathoan opening up to that side in an attempt to more easily ward off my blow. Rather than carry through with it, however, I thrust forward with my pommel to land a blow on the bridge of his nose, though more of my gauntlet impacted there than my sword. It still proved enough to flatten him out and put him out of the fight.

With the enemy here now defeated and Merethyl safe, I glimpsed back across to see how Glannin fared. The cleric appeared in bad shape—a long, bloodied gash opened in his breastplate vertically along the right breast, and two points of frost had formed on the right side of his face. Glannin also looked worst-for-wear, however, with blood trickling down his forehead from where the Urgathoan must have smashed him with the haft of his scythe.

Back over the crosswalk I charged to provide aid for Glannin and received another vicious wound from the Urgathoan for my trouble. With Glannin’s help, I managed to knock out this one, as well, and the hard-fought battle had finally concluded.

We stripped the unconscious of their breastplates, weapons, and other gear that might help them when they recovered, then locked them in the cells with the others. Then we concentrated on healing up a bit. Syrical sent his house drake above again to check on the situation there. Still no new arrivals, which was good, and all the Varisians had successfully cleared out of the hospice. Merethyl informed us that he heard noises coming from behind the door on the catwalk—things like the clinking of glass instruments going on in there, and we agreed that it would be our next destination when the healing work was completed.

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This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

The Sub-Creator

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Join date : 2009-09-19

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