[The story so far]
Session 35 - Paddle power
After a surprisingly restful night in the little side-passage they'd found leading off from the main sewer, it was time to explore further, starting with the door ahead of them.
Fortunately, the doorlock proved no challenge for Tybalt the halfling thief. Just about hiding his surprise at his own success he stood aside and waved the others through. Their caution in doing so proved, thankfully, un-needed and they were soon poking around a room that had evidently been a bedroom and study for a fairly slovenly fellow. The bedding was musty and the paperwork (mostly lists of numbers in hard to decipher scrawl) lay piled carelessly across the desk. One item caught their eye, however - a map!
The labels for eggs ["Oh, the lizards!"] and the odd flower ["Is that the Green Rose?"], along with the layout ["I reckon we're just about here"] convinced them of it's accuracy, so they picked it up and opened it.
"What?! Look at the flipping seven-legged spider! And "temple", and "catacombs" - we've stumbled on some Aractheon types!"
"Ah, man, I hate spiders."
"Dammit, there'll be flipping spiderweb-zombies again. The heathen!"
So now there were three problems: the Friends of the Green Rose, the lizardmen, and the followers of Aractheon. Which would they deal with first?
A quick search of the room opposite reinforced the problem they faced. While searching through the mattresses of the bunkbeds around the wall of the room, Gwen found a note:
The ink was faded, and the bottom part had nearly torn away, but it seemed clear to them all that this was some sort of mantra for one of the followers of the mad spider god. "Eighth he rises? We've got to stop them!"
In case it gave them more information about the "temple" mentioned on the map, Montagne smashed the lock off the final, much more substantial door leading from the central area they found themselves in. Inside was a sorry site. A badly mauled body lay in the middle of the floor and, chained in one corner, a wretched and terrified looking man. He had clearly been very cruelly treated by someone or something. Dumnorix crouched beside him and, laying a hand on the unfortunate, called upon Alathea to heal him. She responded to his prayer and he perked up enough to feebly answer their questions. It was to their great distress that he seemed surprised to have a tongue to talk with.
Paul, for that was the name he gave, had been scouting out easy access to the big houses via the sewer tunnels, along with his late friend Jerome (the corpse) for some "swanky halfling fellows from the capital". They were engaged in some kind of competition with other halflings and they'd paid well. Paul and Jerome had been jumped by some men in robes who'd questioned them, tortured them to be sure they knew nothing, and then abandoned them "in the larder". Jerome had died of his injuries. He knew no more
[Tybalt was disturbed by this information. The "Kapitan" was a tradtional way for competing claimants to the headship of the halfling-dominated Thieves' Guild in Chambresse to prove who was best - that must be behind the spate of burglaries. The prize was so great that the body count was likely to rise as well. What a shame they'd chosen Corcelle as the site for the contest...]
|What Tybalt imagines is going on above ground at this very moment (Picture by Sir Tiefling)
Hauling themselves to the side, they took it in turns to swill their mouths out (or Heimlich each other!), and sort through and discard the contents of their packs that had been ruined. Most of their provisions were spoiled, and the clothes of Gwen and Nausicaa would probably now need to simply be burned and replaced.
As they did so, a noise of men shouting above the sound of the river flow could be heard. "That Samuel's going to get us killed one of these days!" "What?" "I said, that Samuel needs to control that sluice better!" "What?!"
Another punt shot rapidly into view, but they saw the lead figure reach up with a long pole that had a hook on the end and catch on to a ring in the ceiling. The craft swung round and one of them grabbed for the side of the tunnel - just where the party were regathering their wits...
Montagne leaped forward with a roar and brought his mace crashing down on the robed figure's arm and chaos ensued. The hook was released and their boat swung alongside the party's. Others aboard grabbed on to hold the boats together, while others snatched up clubs and blades and charged our heroes across the boats with a cry of "Arac!" answered by "Theon!"
The fight was clumsy but vicious, both sides hampered by the boats bucking underneath them as the melee swirled from boat to solid stone and back again. Evenly matched in numbers, the party had the advantage of better armour and the might of Montagne and Dumnorix; the big men soon tipped things in their favour and only one foe remained. He fled by pushing off in his boat and picking up speed as he headed towards the river via the lizards and the Green Rose. Unwilling to let him get away, Tybalt shot after him with his crossbow and was rewarded with a shout of pain and gloating cursing about the coming of Aractheon. A cursing that was suddenly cut off by a squeak... and then the strange gasping laughter of the lizardmen. Tybalt was not pleased, "I wasted a good shot on him and then the lizards would have got him anyway!"
Almost dry and with packs reorganised, they noticed that the flow of water had reduced to its normal ooze once more, so they got back aboard their boat and used a spear to pole their way towards the "temple" on the map they'd found. Sure enough, after less than quarter of an hour they were able to disembark at some steps that led up from the sewage level to an ornately carved archway with torches in shielded sconces in the walls so that they did not shine out into the sewer itself, but illuminated the stairwell that curved downwards and away from the tunnels.
Time to find out what was going on...