19 January 2010

Chapter the Second: An Earthquake, the Swallower, and A New Friend

The two friends had their early morning slumbers disturbed by a ferocious shaking as the very roots of the city shook themselves in a fierce earthquake. When they took their morning repast at the Last Good Time Tavern they noticed many urchins surrounding a large crevice in the firmament of Whores and Harlots Street. Paying this no mind they enjoyed their grog porridge, until their gustatory enjoyment was interrupted by the heartrending wails of a young woman. As they rushed to investigate they were brushed aside by Uncle Morgrin as brought the inconsolable Lucinda into the tavern. Lucinda's grief was soon known, her only son Karlo had fallen down into the crevasse and had not been heard from since. Wasting no time Tyrian and Ulmo retrieved their gear and entered the depths.
They climbed down the craggy edges of the crevasse finding no track of the lad, although Grey picked up his scent as well as the scent of other creatures. As they were about to search in the direction Grey's nose pointed them they were accosted from above by a sharply dressed gentleman in an elegant hat, cravat, and coat bearing a finely polished walking stick. He ordered them out of the tunnels on the authority of City Works. This was the first time but certainly not the last, that Tyrian and Ulmo met Garrus Andova, City Works Maester. Just then the brave duo was assaulted by tusked goblins whom they rapidly dispatched with blade and mage craft.
The party followed the curving caverns into a large cave sitting below the Last Good Time. In the middle of the cavern lay a crack through which Tyrian and Ulmo could see a putrid, dark lake, the center a swirling, ever ravenous whirlpool. From the level below and from an adjacent tunnel, reverberant foul chanting could be heard, praise to some best forgotten dark gods.

Following the chanting of mad priests through the twisting tunnel they came to a branch. At the center was crystalline growth that looked to have etched it way slowly into the rock, forming a depression in the path. It vibrated with sensorium felling frequency so that Grey lost the scent. As Ulmo walked past the crystals they shone with a bright intensity. Compelled by curiosity he touched the stones only to be caught in an explosive backlash, injuring him but charging him with greater arcane power. They party did a cursory examination of the the rightmost branch finding three more branch points without investigating the endpoints fully. They backtracked and instead took the leftmost tunnel coming upon the primed and ready goblin thralls of the Swallower. Soon they were engaged in a fierce melee and the party withdrew down the tunnels due to withering archery fire. Tyrian and Ulmo underestimated the cunning of the goblin tribe as several speargoblins snuck along the less thoroughly investigated tunnels to ambush the party from behind. Tyrian acted as a staunch rearguard, twirling his mighty great axe in vorpal patterns. Meanwhile the oft-underestimated jaws of Grey and the spectacular magecraft of Ulmo kept the goblin numbers thinned on the forefront.
However the sheer numbers that the goblin's overlord was willing to sacrifice to capture the party was enough to wither their numbers, first Grey, then Ulmo, and then Tyrian fell before the goblin spears and their skullcrusher sergeant. They awoke loosely bound at the precipice of the hungry whirlpool, with them was the young boy Karlo. A bizarrely armored humanoid with a broken beholder helm was directing two goblin thralls, who were prodding them with spears toward the Swallower. Tyrian shredded his bonds on a nearby stalagmite and gripped the spear head of one of the goblins. As he made to pummel the tusked facies his opponent, Neverlost appeared in his hand, and he drove the blade home. The orb helmed priest ensorcelled Karlo who began to walk to his summoning and then turned to leave. Meanwhile Ulmo and Tyrian were in mortal combat with the two goblins, while Grey attempted to drag the boy against the summons. The priest used his helm to open the great portcullis protecting the inner temple letting the bars fall shut behind him. He then turned and proceed to use an unknown force to hurl first Tyrian and Ulmo into the waters of the Swallower. Ulmo was able to land a parting shot, nearly the freezing the priest to the bone while Tyrian levered them both back onto the rocky altar edge. When they had regained their bearings, the priest had fled.
They examined the portcullis but were unable to find an opening mechanism, although it appeared to be an amalgam of iron and the crystal that Ulmo had touched earlier. Ulmo suspected that his might be of an opposite polarity to the earlier substance and the party did well not to touch it. Using a spear and a feat of epic might, Tyrian was able to lever the portcullis a small way open, enough for himself, Grey, and Karlo to slip through. Ulmo had of course simply teleported to the other side. Outside the portcullis the party investigated the plaintive calls of an eladrin maiden, named Yslir. They found her in a sealed cell, which they could not open, however the bars seemed to of a similar material as the portcullis. The heroes reasoned that the beholder helm could be used to open this cell. What they could not explain was the door behind the cell: an ancient architecture more advanced than any found in Roeblini.
The party travelled along the twists and turns of the ancient temple of the Godslayers until they found another sacrificial holding cell, this one near a fountain of black water, running in reverse. The holding cell door was shattered and cast open. As Ulmo examined the fountain luminous eyes grew larger and a waterlogged zombi leapt from the waters, fetid water pouring from its mouldering flesh. Simultaneously another undead thing crawled from the maw of the broken cell, stalking directly toward comatose Karlo. Ulmo spat spellfire from his fingers as Tyrian charged forward launching the zombie back into the cell where it fell with a sickening sound. Suddenly Ulmo was launched forward into a plinth of rock by the force of the beholder helm, the fell priest had come upon the adventurers from a side passage. With Tyrian, Ulmo, and Grey's combined might and no where to run, the priest was gravely injured, then felled by the icy bolts of Ulmo's fury.
The party then found the priest's secret lair, a tomb holding a great sarcophagus. They raided the remnants of the treasure, but as Tyrian made a rubbing of sarcophagus it began to open, revealing the 7 foot skeleton of a proud warrior-priest. The skeleton rose, proclaiming itself to S'smuliss. At first not quite realizing that he was reanimate, S'smuliss swore allegiance to Tyrian for freeing him. Using the beholder helm the party freed Yslir and made its way back to the surface.
In the hot persistent twilight of Roeblini, Morgrin the Fat was arguing with Garrus Andova regarding the violation of the covenants protecting New Roeblini City from the Undercity. Fearing reprisals Uncle Morgrin quickly ushered his two liegemen into the Last Good Time Tavern and told them to get out of the city until things quieted down a little bit. Tyrian and Ulmo accompanied by S'smulis and Grey offered themselves guards on the next caravan rolling out of town.

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