Session 3, Part One: Underneath Far Realm
“What should we do now?” Inara mumbled under the tarp. Next to her huddling under the pouring rain, Morn, Nuni and Madeline hid as well. Several more of the large fishlike creatures had just passed by in the darkness. Their guttural shrieks made hairs stand up on the back of her neck.
Across from them, in another cart lay Andril the wizard, Areia the rogue, and Thrak the lizardman. Andril didn’t care much for the lizardman’s odor, but he didn’t have much of a choice then. All around them, the storm raged and the wind whipped at the tarp made of skins patched together, and they knew that nearby more of the fish creatures most likely lurked. They couldn’t stay like this forever. Andril motioned to his throat with his hand, and his soft whisper, inaudible in the torrent, drifted into the cart across the way.
“We can’t stay here. The creatures will find us soon.” The wizard said what they all knew but a logical solution seemed to elude them nevertheless.
Just then, they heard the soft sounds of feet shuffling through water and voices crying. Rough grunting and hoarse voices came far closer this time. These were even less human and sounded evil and unnatural. Up the street Areia could just make out several women were being led, tied together by some unknown bindings that looked almost like seaweed strands. Nearly a dozen of the creatures slouching and shuffling, shoved them forward. She watched them move through the street and finally out of sight around a corner.
“Those were Humbolt’s daughters!” said Inara through the magical means that Andril had created. “I recognized Kelsey’s summer blouse!”
“We need to find them, saving them may very well land us out of this mess!” Said Andril. He got up and crawled out of the cart. So did the others. The mage motioned for the bard and the others across in the other cart to follow, but suddenly, they needed to hide once more. From where they were, another roving group of creatures were in view of the bard’s hiding place. They wouldn’t be able to escape now. Andril and the others had no choice to make a run for it, leaving Morn, Inara, Madeline and Nuni behind.
“We will see you when we see you!” Thrak thought, climbing out and following the mage in the shadows of the alley. At least now he could snack a bit from his sack without the cleric giving him a look. It nearly made him lose his appetite for lady fingers.
Separated from the bard and the cleric, the rest of the party slunk and crept onward, following the sounds of the women through the rain thanks to the elvish ears of Areia. Soon they realized the direction they were going was directly to the plaza where the statue had nearly killed them earlier this night. They were all soaking wet now, and only Thrak looked comfortable. His scales glistened as water poured off him, meanwhile it soaked the others. In what seemed like forever, they finally came out into the central market plaza. They did not see the daughters at all there though. Instead, there was Lord Humbolt himself leaning against the reformed fountain with one hand and with the other shielding his body from blows. His sword lay on the cobblestones. Four foul and slimy creatures surrounded him and they closed in for the kill!
Humboldt turned to strike at one with his magnificently wrought sword, but in mid arc he was clawed by the others. He fell in a heap, onto his knees, his blood cascading around him into the rain puddles.
“Well, let’s not let Humboldt die before we can properly bribe him, shall we mates.” Andril prepared his spell, and projectiles of energy shot out at the beasts. The others moved in, killing them quickly.
Always streetwise, Areia motioned for them to hunch down as a band of other beasts crept around a corner from another side of the plaza. These creatures were massive, nearly as tall as the roofs! They seemed to sniff the air, but sensing nothing, crept away down another alley. It takes all kinds I guess thought the rogue, always somehow able to see the humor in even the darkest of circumstances.
At their feet, Humboldt lay dying. Morn and Inara, appeared from another side street and ran cautiously across the street to them.
“How’d you get away?” Asked Thrak, who was having the hardest time keeping low, and decided instead to blend in as another basilisk in the statue. He stood there with his arm held out, pretending to slash Bolvist’s thigh. It was comical, to say the least!
“Another time, Lizard Man,” said Morn.
Inara’s face grew uncharacteristically grave. “Captured,” she sighed.
Morn moved towards Humboldt and took a knee next to him. “Lord Humboldt, can you hear me?”
A More Humble Humbolt
“You…. Fought…for…… me?” whispered a dying Humboldt, his eyes were closing. All around him lay the bodies of the creatures that had been about to kill him. Some of them were reverting back to human form, a process that looked painful even in death. They watched in horror, as several of the wicked things became faces they once recognized, merchants or sailors who frequented the common places they did as well here in Far Realm.
Light, they’re us, these beasts are us, thought Morn. Making a silent prayer, he turned towards the Captain. His anger flashed over. Morn was a cleric of the flame, he served the well of Light as all in the Silver Order did. But here was a man who had usurped his power. Something Morn had no respect for. “That’s not all, you son of a Ketian, we’re going to save your ass.” Said Morn. He then used the last of his daily prayers to heal the Captain of the Guard. Silver flames of magical energy flowed through the cleric’s hands and magically bound several of his wounds, but not all. “It’s all I have left friends,” sighed the cleric, rain washing away the blood on his hands.
“I knew you were weren’t like the rest of these urchins,” began Humboldt before spasming, coughing up a bit of blood. He sat up, bracing himself with his shield. “Perhaps, I should have considered a lighter sentence for just….”
“Not so fast, Cap’n,” remarked Andril, “The cleric may have saved you, but whom do you think is going to save your daughters?”
Humboldt looked about to grow quite angry, lines were etching across his face, but as soon as they had come, they were gone and a hatred left his eyes as well. “I am not in a position to worry about justice,” he sighed, “I am now in a position to beg.” He paused and looked at each of them. Areia wasn’t sure if it might be the rain, but she thought she saw tears in his eyes. “I beg you, by the King’s Honor do I swear I will seek ye a full pardon if you bring me safely to my daughters, and help me bring them home.”
“That’s a tall order from a guy who imprisoned us, made a deal that would have gotten us Inquisitioned, and tried to sabotage us during the contest!” Roared Andril.
“Sabotage? I have never…”
“Save it for later,” said Thrak. “I’ll help you human. But you’ll swear upon your King that you’ll send me home safely to my swamp, and I’ll be bringing my shield you let the Governor take from me as well.” He took out a knife and brought the blade next to Humboldt’s heart. With a swift motion, he made a stab. Everyone watched thinking he would kill the man, but instead he cut a clasp off his breastplate revealing the King’s Brand.
“Thissss human is branded, he can do no harm ssspoken towardsss the King. If he ssswears upon his Lord’s life, we have a bargain worth taking, if we sssso wish.”
“I swear…,” began Humbolt. His moustaches drooping in the rain, a perfect symbol of his fall from dignity, “I swear upon my Lord, King Borindin himself, I will honor our agreement. Just help me bring my girls home!”
“Great,” muttered Inara, “I just bought this dress in the bizarre last week. Those rotten sewers are sure to foul it up.”
Follow the Leader
Under the statue they found recent construction and several pathways leading in several unknown directions. But muddy tracks leading into a stairwell downwards is where they knew they needed to go. Despite their hardened existence in the colonies, this was an extreme situation even for the urchins they had grown up to be. The sewer was foul, retched smelling. It made their eyes water and skin crawl just to look down the darkened entry. Summoning up their courage, they entered, one step at a time.
“These are not sewers,” grunted Andril. He tried to gain his footing, but found it too difficult after his evening of ale. All around him was a wet and foul smelling tunnel, like the insides of an intestine, caked with slick mud. Patches of mold and algae grew in places and there seemed no place to find a foothold. It was obvious thought Andril lighting a torch that what was once a sewer made of masonry, was now a network of tunnels, coated with a light colored but slick mud. A place to set one’s hand was simply out of the question.
“The sssewer is still here,” said Thrak, pointing his talon at a protruding stone ,”sssomething else has just taken up residenccce.”