Players: Daniel Coleman (Amman), Malcolm Campbell (Baron Faith), Neil McClean (Gellis Tarn), Neil Simpson (Quarlius), Graham Reynolds (Bruce)
Date: 29 July 2008
Ventasday, 24 Geomyr 1082 PS
Baron Faith arrives at the Mercenaries Guild just after lunch. He will be taking over the direct management of the team from Baron Sarlan. Gellis, Amman and Bruce are now his employees. However, unlike Baron Sarlan, Faith intends to take a much more active role in things.
He has also sent word ahead for the guild to find another expendable type to join the group. Preferably someone skilled in long range destructive magic. And so it is when a meeting is convened in a private room of the guildhouse it is not only Amman, Gellis and Bruce that attend their new employer. There is also a second elf present in the room: a far more refined and regal individual called Quarlius. He introduces himself as wizard and hands Baron Faith his references.
The presence of the well dressed and highly coiffured elf only seeks to paint the unkempt and greasy Gellis in an even less pleasant light. The ranger runs his hand through his lank locks, and looks Quarlius up and down. No way is this guy an elf. Not a real elf anyway. He’s never slept a night in the wilderness in his life. He has eladrin written all over him. But if Quarlius wants to conceal his origins and pretend to be an elf then that’s his prerogative. Gellis won’t break the bounds of professional courtesy and say anything.
Faith says that they are heading into the sewers to locate the scroll of Tanmash’Mhor. Tanmash was the third consort of the current queen, Talkaria. He died more than five hundred years ago. According to hearsay, Tanmash invented a magical means to extend his life span, certainly he lived much longer than any other of the Prince Consorts. Does the scroll has something to do with this?
Faith does not know. And even if he did know, he wouldn’t tell the rest of the party. They have a possible location for the scroll in the undercity, and a map that leads there. That’s all the group really needs to know except that there could be other parties interested in the scroll. It is essential that they are discrete and unseen. He unfurls the map and lays it on the table.
Entrance to the undercity is through a large sewerage outfall pipe underneath the Orchard District. They need to get to that pipe unseen. The obvious solution would be to go at night. The swamp mist will conceal them. They shouldn’t try and go from the Orchard District as that is a well-to-do area, and patrolled by the forces of Duke Cross. It’s better to go from the water. But then hiring a boat could attract attention.
Eventually, the following mad plan is concocted. The party will rendezvous at the guildhouse at midnight and head into Bartertown. They will enter the water there, and swim around the south of Karris’Mhor (for just over a mile) before clambering up and entering the pipe. Gellis thinks it’s a fine idea. He likes swimming, and he’s not averse to sewers. Quarlius looks aghast at the very thought of it. But something keeps him from walking away. Baron Faith wonders what this is.
The Baron departs back to his townhouse in the Secret City, leaving his companions to their own devices. Quarlius bids his fellows good day and returns to the Golden House (his embassy). Gellis, Amman and Bruce head up to the bar. Gellis needs hasn’t got sufficient funds for all the toad he wants, and no-one seems inclined to lend him any money.
In the bar they meet another adventuring party, including a rather sour-faced individual dressed from head to foot in white, called the Blue Owl. “If you’re the blue owl,” Gellis asks amiably, “why are you dressed in white?” The other adventure grimaces, as if he has heard the question a hundred times before. “Because it’s ironic!” he announces. Gellis notices how the Blue Owl’s companions turn their backs on the conversation. The elf shrugs. “No it isn’t,” he says.
Thothsday, 25 Geomyr 1082 PS
After a three hour stand-up argument with the Blue Owl, Gellis feels refreshed for the mission. Very soon he, Quarlius, Bruce, Amman and Baron Faith are slipping into the fetid and pungent Bartertown water and beginning their marathon swim. It soon becomes apparent to the assembled that Quarlius can’t swim (and Baron Faith isn’t much better). It is a slow and potentially deadly dip in the swamp.
After some significant time, the group of swimmers have passed the Temple District and are heading into the waters that pass Orchard. The darkness and the mist that rises from the water makes visibility very difficult. It is only by keeping Karris’Mhor in sight to their left that the group does not splash off aimlessly into the swamp. It’s then that they notice that things are not going quite as well as they might have hoped.
Two large swamp crocodiles hove into view, with every intention of killing and eating everyone in the water. Liked a greased monkey Gellis is out of the water and climbing up the rocky cliff-face. In moments he has reached the top and swung himself out onto the veranda of a fairly well appointed residence. The lights are off inside the house. It is well after midnight, after all. Quarlius attempts to follow suit, but falls back into the water. Then the crocodiles attack.
The monsters have the tactic of grabbing their foes and pulling them under the water to their doom. Baron Faith is not a natural mêlée fighter, and he fares about as well against these monsters as one might expect. Amman blazes off with various priestly pyrotechnics, while Bruce calmly stabs as many of the critters as he can reach. From his vantage point, far from danger, Gellis rains down feathered death against the crocs, although they do seem peculiarly resilience.
Meanwhile Quarlius is demonstrating a dangerous lack of skill as a climber. Every time he thinks he has a foot-hold he slides back into the water. He can hear Gellis shouting something at him. They could be words of encouragement or derogatory remarks: he’s not sure. As the battle rages below and Faith is bitten, grabbed and escapes (only to be bitten and grabbed again) Quarlius continues his long and painful crawl to safety. Finally at the top, he conjures twin plumes of fire and shoots them at the crocodiles.
A light comes on in the house. Rather unsurprisingly, the sound of the conflagration has awoken the residents. Gellis also notices that the veranda that he and Quarlius are standing one doesn’t seem entirely secure. There is a cracking sound. Gellis leaps back onto a supporting wall, as the entire veranda gives way. Quarlius, along with half a ton of rubble, tumbles into the water below. Baron Faith looks up, just in time to see a dragonborn-sized block of masonry hit him firmly on the head. Trapped under the sinking block, the baron is pinned to the swamp floor, and promptly starts to drown.
Gellis sighs. Quarlius can’t swim, the rest of the party are busy fighting the crocodiles. He has no choice but to try and save the baron himself. Leaving his bow on the wall he gracefully swan dives into the water. On his way down Gellis is grabbed by a crocodile, although the elf manages to twist out of his grip. Drawing weapons, Gellis is forced to engage the beastie. Fortunately for Baron Faith, Bruce (who has already killed one crocodile) swims over to render assistance. This allows the ranger to swim to the bottom and retrieve Baron Faith.
They crest the surface more than a little worse for wear. The fight has causes a hell of a din, and Faith says that they have to move on quickly. Gellis scampers up and recovers his bow, leaving just before the unfortunate residents open their back door to deliver their balcony is completely missing.
It is almost dawn before the swimmers reach their destination. If Quarlius wasn’t convinced this was a terrible idea before, he is now. Before them is a huge metal pipe, slowly vomiting a sickening brown goo into the swamp. The smell is absolutely terrible. Bruce and Gellis climbs up to have a look.
There is a metal grill here, although they should be able to force their way through. The tunnel is about six feet high, and they’ll be shin-deep in effluvia – not that such a thing bothers him too much. There are also some strange maggot-like creatures, each about a foot long, congregating here. Gellis and Bruce stab them from a safe distance just to be sure, and then help their companions to climb up.
A few minutes later, all five of our would-be heroes are standing at the grate. Bruce uses his strength to yank the portal open, and they enter. Gellis is navigating, and the path is not easy. The water level rises and the height of the ceiling diminishes until they are walking bent over with their faces only inches from the sewerage. Eventually, they are able to leave the sewer and head through a broken section on the undercity.
The walls here are made of stone, not brick, and it is obvious that they have entered a complicated labyrinth of passageways. It’s also obvious that Gellis doesn’t know where the hell he’s going. Gellis points out that he is used to navigating his way through the wilderness, not in an underground hell-hole like this. After a couple of hours of being completely lost, they come to a chamber that is open to the air. About twenty feet above they can see daylight and smell fresh air. They have no idea how to find their way back to the sewer.
An agreement is made to cut their losses and try this again later. The portal above must open somewhere in Karris’Mhor. They will exit, and then head back to the sewer entrance, this time by boat. They clamber out of the hole, and exit into the back of a small garden in the Orchard District. They discreetly climb the railings and disperse into the city.