[The story so far]
Sessions 32 - Into the sewers
[Aaaaaand we're back! It's been over two months since I was in the GM's chair and both I an the players were itching to get on with our campaign; a good sign!]
Having been back in Corcelle for just one day, trouble seemed to have found the party as surely as pigs can rootle out truffles. Aurelius had managed to get access to the Library of the Learned and was hoping to sneakily copy out a few spells from their vast collection, but the rest were standing on the docks as night drew fully in with the threat of rain in the air, and the combined mystery of a murdered child and some posh lady's stolen jewellery to investigate
"Listen, we're just going to have to go down into the sewers or we'll never make any progress," insisted Montaigne restlessly. All the thinking and planning had tested his patience and now he just wanted to find some bad people and hit them with the mace that had been gifted to him by the minor god, Ferrus. He hopped down from the wharf-side onto the wide brick arch that formed the top of the sewer outlet from under the Northern half of Corcelle into the river Laurentaine that cut the city in two. He strode along to its end and, with a lantern commandeered from the halfling, Tybalt, peered up the tunnel. Once it would have had a square grille of inch-thick iron securing it but the rusted spurs protruding from the brickwork were all that remained. The bottom of the sewer was obscured by sludge below about a foot of slow-moving "water", and the stench was impressive.
Pausing only to complain about the smell (Oiseau even cut a strip from his shirt to stuff his nostrils!), the party settled into their standard order behind the impatient Montaigne as he strode off up the sewer. Tybalt sighed as the "water" sloshed over the top of his fancy boots and his feet were soon wet through, particularly after Gwen made a smug comment about the practical dwarven boots that reached her knees.
Keeping a close lookout for any clues as to what might have killed the unfortunate blacksmith's boy, or stolen the Montfort lady's jewels (and/or left her feverish and uncommunicative), the only thing they saw was evidence for the general health of the bowels of the citizens of Corcelle until their lantern's light highlighted a narrow gap in the tunnel on their right.
On the wall was chalked a triangle, below which were some letters ("F G R 2") and underneath them, four parallel lines and a circle. Too intriguing to ignore, they headed along the narrow cut (which was above the "water" level), passing another cut on their right before reaching a dead end with a broken pickaxe embedded in the rock end wall. With no secret doors to be found, they headed back to the missed passage and, within a few yards, found it stopped at a solid wooden... door? screen? mining shaft barrier? It, too had the letters "F G R" chalked onto it. Pushing at it didn't seem to do anything, so Montagne hit it with his mace causing a booming echo to sound through the passageways. Deciding this meant there was an opening behind the wood, Gwen passed her axe forward for Montagne to chop through the obstruction, after there had been barely concealed laughter at Tybalt's similar offer - the little hatchets he had were like toys in Montagne's massive hands!
Hacking away made little difference, but the wood was evidently rocking slightly in its housing of vertical slots on both sides. "Maybe it's like a portcullis?" suggested the ex-castle guard, Jean. Montagne switched tack to use a crowbar to lift it and, with difficulty, got it to waist height. Dumnorix shuffled past the others to get alongside him and the two men heaved as one to slide the wooden portcullis up above their heads. If only they'd checked when the door was only slightly raised, but they hadn't [it's been a while, they've got sloppy in our break - DM] and so the first they knew of it was when a small crossbow bolt embedded itself in Dumnorix's shoulder!
Now there was panic. Oiseau squeezed between the two larger men to get a shield out in front of them and took a crossbow bolt to the hip for his troubles. The cloaked shooter now scrambled for the stairs at the side of the smallish room piled high with boxes and barrels he had been defending, grabbing at the rope hanging from a bell and tugging at it with all his might. The noise clanged and echoed, but Nausicaa was equal to the challenge. She darted after the wretch while Dumnorix was helped by Montagne, Gwen checked on Oiseau, Tybalt scuttled into the shadows, and Jean fumbled for his bow. The elf's blade sliced down at the bell rope, cutting it and sending their attacker reeling towards the door at the top of the steps. Not to be denied, Nausicaa grabbed at the cloak and pulled , bringing her pommel down on their temple and knocking them clean out.
It was a thin teenage human boy with four narrow stripes of blue under his left eye, and another circle around his right temple. That it was a child horrified Nausicaa and Gwen, whose own troubled upbringing was brought flooding back for them. "How's he going to help us now?" complained Oiseau. "I didn't mean to..." protested Nausicaa but Dumnorix was less sympathetic as Montagne pulled the bolt from his shoulder.
Nausicaa had a sudden thought and knelt down beside the unconscious boy and scrabbling through her pack. With a "Ha!" of triumph she unstoppered a flask of the embalming fluid she'd collected in the ruined temple of Ferrus and he was soon spluttering into life. Initially arrogantly sneering, uninformative, and unrepentant over shooting two of them, JB soon revealed not only his name but also the name of the organisation he was working for: the Friends of the Green Rose. All it took was for Montagne to hold him upside down and pretend to drop him on his head a few times. Simple!
Oh, but wait... what was that noise?