Unconquered Kingdoms

Ch 2. Which Rats? Part 5

17 Septimus, 508 PE (Year of Storms)
1130 pm, Moonday

The group had arrived across the street from the sewer entrance marked on the map that Blend had acquired. (part at green x)

There was no wind, and very little noise, although the SE quarter of the city was never what you would call quiet. The sounds of music from far off bars drifted faintly towards the group. The militia was still out in force, but the guys on the night shift seemed not very interested in enforcing anything.

Large stone and wooden warehouses loomed across the street, surrounding a small shadowy courtyard. From the darkness you felt as if dozens of small beady eyes were watching you, although there was no indication of any movement within that area.

Blend double checked his sewer map.

Before the party set out that evening to made contact with Klakus to coordinate the party’s arrival. He let Klakus know what they planned on doing and asked for their help to cover their backs as well as watch the warehouse to make sure no one of importance escaped.

Aeron mumbled a series of indistinguishable words in the shadows and the party could hear a low whisper in thier ears, “Our magical message spell is active out to as far as the city wall. If you get farther than that away from me we will not be able to speak to each other.” Aeron eyed Shylent and smiled, “Last chance to light the warehouse.”

The party moved across the street and into the shadows between the looming buildings behind which lay the small courtyard indicated on the map. Blend and Jharron noticed subtle movement near a second story window to the left. A shadowy form exited the window and seemed to “drift” downward along the wall until it reached the ground. The shadows seemed alive along the rooftops, and the uncanny feeling of being watched returned even stronger.

The shadow in front of the party moved a step away from the wall and towards the group. It was a humanoid figure draped and hooded in gray robes and pieces of old fabric. The figure had no obvious weapons, and waved the group forward with an almost clawed hand, saying “Welcomz, the watch haz been set.”

Set to watch who? Nitram thought suspiciously.

Jharron & Fero step back and off to the side a little to see if he can guesstimate how many other people/things are moving around in the shadows and ready’s an arrow for when things start going south. I thought this was a secret. How come both “secret” missions these guys have done have had people awaiting their entrance……..

“Well met friend,” Blend said as he walked up to the hooded figure and grabbed the taloned hand in his own. “Hopefully, if things go well tonight, the Street Merchants will no longer be a thorn in your side. Thanks for watching our backs. I know by using this entrance, you are taking a risk. Rejo will know you helped us, but he has already attacked your people, and hopefully the threat he poses will end this evening. I trust you have sentries at the warehouse. Don’t let anyone escape. Until we meet again.” Blend motioned to the others to not be afraid or alarmed. “And for Hood’s sake Jharron, put the bow down.”

Jharron and Fero got the impression there was about a dozen figures on or around the rooftops and the 2nd floor windows.

After Blend concluded his talk with the robed and hooded figure, the form turned away from the party and made a jumping leap up the side of the building, not quite reaching the second floor window, and with a slight scratching sound climbed up to and in the window. As the party moved forward into the courtyard, a voice drifted out of the window. “Elderz say, when you see rushing water, washz your feetz.”

Upon reaching the courtyard, the group saw, embedded into the cobblestone, a large 10 foot wide sewer grate. The grate lay flat on the ground and sitting upon it was a large stone boulder. It took nitram two tries to moved the boulder, but it finally rolled off the grate. Under the grate was an eight foot wide sewer tunnel, heading roughly NW to SE, with a trickle of water flowing down the center.

The group moved into the sewer one by one, easily making the eight foot drop with assistance from each other, and proceeded southeasterly as indicated on Blend’s map. It was very dark down in this portion of the sewers once everyone moved away from the grate opening. After a few minutes, the front individuals came across a ladder, bolted to the side of a pit/tunnel leading straight down into the unfathomable darkness. The ladder and flooring was damp and mold/moss covered.

So the question is where to put the dwarf…isn’t that the story of his life? I suggest Blend (on his own up front) then Gravnar (he can see in the dark and could be a nice wall when needed) then how we had it earlier. Or, would his stealth be more of a liability? What’s the likelihood we get attacked from behind?

Aeron waited for Blend to scout down the ladder and give the all clear. Aeron then handed the everburning torch to Shylent and descended the ladder after Gravnar, Nitram, and Dealin allowing Jharron (the tallest) and Shylent (holding the everburning torch) as the rear guard. As they made their way down the sewer tunnel, Aeron had difficulty seeing over Daelin. How is that elf so tall and the half-elf must be as tall as a vallenwood?

Shylent stoically takes up the rear guard with the torch.

As the slowest member of the party, Gravnar prefers to be in front. Also, he is kind of geared for it.

Blend moved forward and cautiously went down the ladder. When he reached the bottom, he looked around for a couple of minutes to make sure everything was safe before signaling the rest of the group to come down. He looked for a spot to take up a watch as the rest of the party made their way down.

Once Blend had scouted down the 30 foot long ladder and announced it was safe, the rest of the party made their way down.

Fero sniffed the air coming from the hole and then sniffed some of the smaller side passages. Jharron knew he would find his own way down.

Once at the bottom of the ladder, the group paused in the small square chamber. Blend had already glanced down the open SE passage and saw no immediate danger. The sound of rushing water came from down the passageway back towards the group, bringing with it dampness and drifts of moisture. The narrow sewerway between here and there extended for at least 50 feet into the darkness, but at the far end a slight glow could be seen, as from an opening into a larger area.

After moving cautiously down the sewerway, Blend waved the others forward. The dim lighting revealed a large room nearly 50 feet across and much longer, with the far end shrouded in shadows.

A cascading waterfall was centered in the northern wall of what appeared to be a large cistern room. Very narrow ledges lined the eastern, northern, and western walls, while the ledge on the south side of the room was twice as wide. Moss and moisture covered everything, with scattered patches of plants and mushroom growing profusely. Semi-rotten wooden plankways spanned the cistern in three locations.

The water down in the pit of the cistern (30 feet to the surface) descended to unknown depths, and had plants and pond scum around the edges. There was no visible exit for the water.

Nitram whispered to Blend, Did your friend say “watch” your feet or “wash” your feet? I’m leaning more to “watch” which makes me think there may be something in the water…again. Nitram looked around the room, The shrine should be just up ahead, right? Maybe we should have the archers stay here – or even spread out a little onto the ledge – to cover the rest of you crossing. Nitram gestured to the ledge along the northern wall.

“Wash your feet. I’m thinking something is behind the waterfall. We may have to climb down. Have everyone spread out but stay near this entrance. I’m going to scout the perimeter of this room. Gravnar and you come with me. Gravnar will watch this first hallway in the southeast corner and you will take the hallway on the west wall while I scout.”

OOC: Blend will move clockwise around the ledge, scouting the entire room. He will be looking for traps, secret doors, slippery and hazardous footing, etc. he will also be mindful of stuff overhead if any. When approaching the waterfall, he will see if there is anything behind it, either at the level or below. He will see if he can travel “underneath” it using the ledge. If not, he will retrace his steps and report back. He will also be mindful of anything lurking in the water below. He will move cautiously and silently, using shadows for stealth (+1 circumstance bonus on checks due to dim light).

Nitram looked at the shadows to the west, I don’t think I will have enough light to provide an effective watch…I am assuming you wouldn’t want me to bring the torch. I might be able to provide some assistance at the near exit.

Aeron whispered for Shylent to bring forward the everburning torch C31 to illuminate the room, while he moved forward to the corner of the entrance of the waterfall room C30. Aeron knocked an arrow from his magic quiver and stared intently at the rotten bridges.

Aeron will attempt to evaluate the structural intgrity of the wooden bridges and eastern stone ledge from the chamber entrance (Engineering + 11).

Gravnar grunts his approval and continues following Blend with shield and silver sword at the ready.

Nitram followed, planning on stopping at the southeast corridor to take advantage of the light.

The half-elf whispered to the dwarf, You’re eyes are better suited to this environment than mine. I’ll keep watch at the southeast. You can continue to follow Blend and watch the western passage, okay?

Nitram followed, planning on stopping at the southeast corridor to take advantage of the light.

The half-elf whispered to the dwarf, You’re eyes are better suited to this environment than mine. I’ll keep watch at the southeast. You can continue to follow Blend and watch the western passage, okay?

Jharron moves forward to provide as much cover as he can with his bow.

Blend began his cautious clockwise investigation of the surroundings. He very quickly determined that moving along the mossy and damp ledge was easy, if you didn’t need to run.

The next thing he discovered was a carefully camouflaged trigger stone for some type of trap. (Per 26). Blend realized that if he had not taken the time to actively search for traps, he probably would have missed this one, as it was very very well done.

Aeron directing Shylent to bring forward the everburning torch helped light up some more of the room. Combined with the dim lighting from above “most” of the party could now see three bridge like constructions.

Aeron’s assessment of the bridges (from where he stood) was that they were old, but sturdy. And the center one may have been recently repaired. (Eng 22)

Blend knelt down and tried to determine the nature of the trap as well as any secondary devices. After that, he attempted to disarm it.

Blend took several minutes to look over the area and the device. The trigger seemed to be on a lever embedded into the stone. Tracing the angle of the lever to either side of the stone, Blend suddenly perceived a large 5 × 5 square of the “tiles” was actually one piece and would drop suddenly, pitching whoever was on the tile over the side and into the water for a 30’ foot drop.

It took Blend two tries (Disable Device 17, 22) but he managed to disarm the trap by wedging rocks under the lever and rendering it inoperative.

Gravnar grunts his approval and continues following Blend.

Having negated the trap set by the rogues to cover their “backdoor”, the group continued on with their plan for searching the room.

Nitram heard a scuffling sound from the hallway he was guarding. Looking cautiously in that direction he saw Fero looking at him.

On the west side of the room, past the third bridge, another sewerway led out of the area. From that opening two figures appeared, one of them yelling “A torch! Go sound the alarm!” before dashing off along the north wall. The second figure moved southward, towards the ledge Blend and Gravnar were on.

Blend moved forward, drawing his bow and an arrow as he did and took aim against the figure on the west wall.

The arrow from Blend’s bow slammed into the shoulder the rogue (Att 12, dam 10) forcing him back onto the wall. The rogue looked about in astonishment, not having realized anyone was on this side of the cistern. He broke off the arrow with his other hand and looked around, eventually settling his gaze on Blend.

Upon hearing the yell, Jharron draws the light of the area together and centers it on his arrow and fires the arrow with as long a shot as possible, hoping it will land on a ledge or bury itself into a wall at the far side of the room.

OOC plan to light up the far side of the room so we are firing into a lighted area. Hopefully, it will negate any negatives the rest of the party may have for distance shots. Expectation is a straight shot from G31 to G10 or so.

Jharron fired the “light” arrow across the expanse of the room. Hitting the far wall (AC 5) was a fairly simple task. (Att 14)

The area around the arrow provided a point of reference for the group and showed the wounded figure of the rogue Blend had already shot, slumped and bleeding.

(anything within 40 feet of G1x, lower left corner intersection, is no longer “concealed” by dim lighting.

Nitram was so focused on his passageway and the appearance of Fero that he seemed to have no idea what was going on behind him until he caught a light shooting across the sky, illuminating the far side of the room.
That was helpful… he thought as he scanned the area and readied his bow, hopeful that Rillifane’s fortune would bless his future chance-based actions.

Gravnar continues to “sneak” toward the second hallway. He moves to M18.

Driven by bravery or stupidity, the rogue wounded by Blend advanced towards him, wielding a thick dagger. When he neared Blend, he lunged forward with the blade, a clumsy attempt that Blend easily avoided. (Att 10)

The first rogue continued his movement along the northern wall and disappeared behind the waterfall with a splash.

This is about to get ugly. Nitram looked back towards the rest of the party and whispered to Aeron, Aeron, Watch the waterfall. One of the sentries disappeared through it to get help so I would expect him to return with some friends and you are the closest using that ledge. Are the bridges stable and do we need them? Nitram eyed the bridges suspiciously.

Aeron loosed an arrow at the wounded Street Merchant + 7 to Hit, Damage d10 + 3, Crit x3(19-20), Arrow Eruption x2 to thief in M14. Aeron moved along the eastern ledge behind Jharron and whispered to the companions, “The bridges are sturdy. The center bridge is the most used. We must cage the rats. Blend can cover west of the waterfall (D15), Gravnar and Nitram hold the center bridge (L20 & L21), Shylent can hold the east ledge (D26) and the rest of us will find angles to fire into trap.”

Aeron’s arrow flew across the cistern and connected with a thunk into the wounded rogue in front of Blend. (Att 17-4,in melee, dam 7)

Shylent grimaced and then moved forward based on Aeron’s message. Fero slipped adroitly past Nitram and took up a position next to Jharron.

Taking stock of the situation and environment, Daelin readied his bow as he hauled to the far end of the near bridge (K26). I sure hope those crafty bastards didn’t sabotage theses bridges, Daelin thought to himself as he ran past Shylent and onto the nearest one.

Nitram moves to M26 and waits for a target to appear, at which he will fire an arrow at it.

Uncertain about the designs of the rogue that disappeared behind the waterfall, the group set up in positions readiness around the area.

Blend somersaulted away from the badly injured rogue, landing deftly on the bridge to the north of him. An arrow had appeared in his hand as he continued across the bridge. He stopped halfway, turned around, and fired the arrow, hoping to finish him off.

The arrow Blend fired struck the rogue in the side, and finished him off. The figure slumped over onto the ground, blood draining out underneath him. (Tumble 29, Att 12, dam 5)

Fero made an uncharacteristic growling sound, deep within his throat. He stared intently at the waterfall.

Jharron moves to gain a better angle on the bridge coming out of the waterfall as well as a better sight picture of the entire cavern. He aims the bow and waits for an enemy to appear.

Gravnar moves toward the center bridge and finds firm footing and readies an attack for the first foe who comes within range. L20

Barely heard above the rushing of the waterfall is a voice yelling “Yea! That’s right! You go get them Guido!”

What is apparently some form of giant rat comes bursting through the waterfall and rampages across the bridge, its weight causing the structure to tremble and shake. The reason for maintaining this bridge was now obvious. The creature’s eyes actually glowed red as it reared up in front of Gravnar.

Gravnar, set and ready for anything, took an attack at the massive creature. (Att 26c, dam 30) His sword connected with the exposed underbelly of the creature and felled it with one blow, entrails and guts exploding across the bridge.

The giant mutated rat fell to ground, still feebly and uselessly grasping towards Gravnar.

Aeron moved cautiously south along the stone ledge and took up a position next to Daelin K27. He took one look at the enormouse dead rat and securely fastened the mesh hood of the swarm suit. There never is just one rat…

The area, except for the sound of falling water, was quiet after the sudden, yet short-lived attack of the mutated rat. The large corpse lay in front of Gravnar, guts steaming in the moisture laden air. A collar, with a large snap for attaching a chain, lay around the dead creature’s neck.

The groups waited expectantly for the next threat to emerge…and waited…

Aeron whispered to the group. “Does someone want to go in and lure them out…or should we all go in togther?”

“I’ll advance along the bridge, but it seems prudent to dispose of this carcus first.” He spends the required time pushing the rat corpse off the side of the bridge so the bridge is not so stressed.

Gravnar exerted his dwarven muscles and using his low center of gravity, leveraged the carcass of the rat off the side of the bridge. It fell 30 feet through the air until it hit the water’s surface with a resounding splash.

After a moment the echos and ripples of sound and water subsided. The only sound was the crashing of the waterfall.

That went easier than I expected… Nitram whispered to the group, I’ll go in with Gravnar and see if we can lure them out. We still need to watch the other entrances to this room. I doubt the waterfall is the only way in. Nitram slung his bow over his shoulder and readied the falchion. He proceeded next to Gravnar, preparing to look behind the “curtain”.

“Why don’t you let me take a look first?” said Blend

I’m okay with that. Nitram switched back to his bow and continuously scanned the two passageways and the waterfall.

Blend crept up to the waterfall and looked to see what was beyond…

Gravnar and Nitram stood back and let Blend approach the waterfall. The only way to see beyond the waterfall was to go through it.

Blend moved in from the side. Upon exiting the water he was struck by the horrendous stench of rat crap and hay. Mixed with the moisture from the sewer water.

There was a torch on this side of the water, about 10 feet away, and standing next to it was a nervous and scared looking rogue. The rest of the passage only extended about 20 feet back, it had apparently only been used for the den of the monstrous rat. There was a large length of chain on the floor.

The rogue cowered in fear as Blend emerged from the water, and yelled “Mercy mercy! Spare me, I’ll squeal I promise” He dropped his knife and raised his hands.

Jharron and Fero move to the center of the room at the edge of the middle bridge. from this vantage point, Jharron looks around the room and absorbs the sound of the waterfall and the silence of the plants growing.

“Tell us where the shrine is and I might let you live,” Blend said as he drew the wicked looking serrated dagger he carried.

“Yes, yes, no problem” the rogue exclaimed, as he motioned Blend to follow him back past the waterfall. Once on the other side, after gulping in nervous fear at the sight of Nitram and Gravnar, he pointed past the bridge.

“Just past the bridge, center of the southern wall, there’s a hidden entrance. Find three rocks in row and press them and it opens up”

The rouge hands Blend a bracelet, “Here take my lucky charm, lot of good its done me.” and makes like he wants to slink off to the western passage.

I say we tie him up and leave him in the rat’s den. Aeron, you might want to check out that bracelet.

Aeron nodded in agreement and examined the bracelet for any arcane marks. “While I attempt to identify this bracelet, take a moment to sift through the rats den. The coins and trinkets of anyone and anything that monster ate are probably deposited in the droppings in that cave.”

He always has some wonderful suggestions for the rest of us thought Nitram as he imagine sifting through giant rat droppings.

Aeron didn’t find any “arcane” marking on the bracelet, but a common religious symbol did figure prominently. An ancient symbol for balance between light and darkness, used to denote a philosophy and viewpoint on life. It is also used as the holy symbol for Xan-Yae

With the “rat” looking like he may slink off at any moment, Nitram took the opportunity to tie him up securely and stash him in the room they thieves had been using as a pen for the giant rat.

There seemed to be no other movement within the area. The waterfall continued its steady stream of rushing water and from where the party currently stood, the southern wall looked devoid of any so called secret doors.

OOC: Did Blend get the feeling the thief was telling the truth (sense motive check).

Blend proceeded to the far wall and looked for the rocks the rogue had mentioned. After a thorough searching for traps, he attempted to activate the secret door.

Having been a very close observer of Aeron’s magical tricks, Gravnar questions Aeron, “Isn’t there some magical doo-dad you can use to make the doo-dad not so doody? And can’t you use some trick to make this one our ally?” He says pointing at the ratman.

Blend was confident that the rogue was sufficiently intimidated and fearful to be telling the truth. Finding no traps at the supposed location of the secret door, and then locating the three rocks in a row about waist high in that area, merely confirmed the rogue’s story.

The attempt to activate the secret door was successful, in fact, with a momentary blinding beam of light, the center of the door split into two sides and swung inward, away from the party.

A torch lighted either side of a 10 foot wide hallway. 20 foot down the hall the area opened up into a larger, but still well lit room. In the center of the room was a large table with some type of witchcraft paraphernalia and blood centered on it.

While Blend searched the southern wall for the secret chapel entrance, Aeron relented to Gravnar and Nitram’s request not to dirty their hands. Aeron stood in the center of the bridge and tapped into the elemental plane of water, conjuring a steady flow of water to wash out the rat den and break up the nest and droppings. Tehn by sending his air elemental servant to clean the giant rat den. “Search the rat droppings and nest and bring anything you find to Gravnar the dwarf.”

Aeron’s efforts brought a whole new meaning to the word stench. And the only items that the air elemental servant brought back to Gravnar were bones, mostly cow bones. Mostly.

The open hallway leading to the secret shrine was wide open and appeared empty of any inhabitants. Of course there was no way of knowing for sure what was around the corners.

Aeron ignored the pile of bones that the elemental servant laid at Gravnar’s feet and turned his attention to the secret chapel entrance. He walked from the center of the bridge to the secret entrance while whispering to the group M20. “Blend, the bracelet the rat handler gave you is a religious symbol of thieves and assasins. It does not appear to have any magical powers and I suspect it would be very unlucky to wear in most towns we enter.” Aeron then paused and analyzed the secret chamber. “This confirms our fears that Pete Rejo’s Street Merchants are dealing in witchcraft. The table is likely for a witch’s sacrifice to their unholy patron. Look about for prisoners, witches like to rend the fat of hapless townsfolk to make their flying ointments.” Aeron stared at each of the companions, “Don’t trust your eyes, witches can magically disguise themselves to look like any one of us. Stay together. If faced with a twin the challenge response words are ‘Giant’…and ‘Eagle.’ Be warned, witches have possessed pets that can serve as spies. They could be anything from the size of a rat to a goat. They should be taken alive…I can use them to gain power over the witches.”
Aeron knocked an arrow and nodded to Blend, “Lead the way and we will follow in diamond formation.”

Blend slowly moved up to the corner to have a look into the room making sure there were no traps to slow them down.

Gravnar nods approvingly at the bones at his feet, and then begins following Blend once again. He will stay about 10 to 15 feet back from Blend.

Concerned about more of Pete’s gang coming in behind them, Nitram whispered to the group, We should keep watch to the west…that is the way to Pete Rejo’s hideout, right?

As the echoes from Nitram whispered voice slowly subsided, there was a rustling and scratching sound from the west. It seemed Nitram had the gift of prophecy, as one of the evil wererats crawled like a spider from underneath the western bridge and onto the ledge near Gravnar.

Blend had issues of his own to deal with, as there seemed to be a low chanting emanating from farther into the room. Confidant there were no traps along the hallway (Per 27) Blend managed to spy a lone rogue just as he was moving his arm backwards to throw a dagger towards Blend’s face.

Blend brought up his bow and launched an arrow at the rogue hoping at best to kill him outright, at worst to disrupt his throw, then glanced around the corner to assess additional threats.

OOC: 5ft step south, attack rogue, damage 3d6 + 2.

Blend’s point blank arrow struck the rogue in the center of his chest, and was likely to be a fatal wound, (Att 23, d 15) but the injured rogue stood his ground.

Blend’s glance around the corner proved fruitful, as he spied another rogue creeping along the wall towards the corner.

“At least two in the room!” Blend yelled. “One to the left and one to the right!”

Aeron heard Blend’s warning and thought, I’ll take my chances with the human thieves. He slipped past Nitram to stand behind Gravnar’s considerable girth in the secret entrance N20. Aeron made large arcane motions with his hands in an attempt to draw the thieves into the hallway calling out, “Crescere densitates!” Aeron’s bow grew heavy in his hand as he took aim at the wounded thief.

Aeron felt an ominous gaze laden with ire light upon him. Other than the rogue using the corner as cover, he saw no one else in the area other than Blend. Odd.

The spider climbing wererat shook itself loosely as if stretching, and grinned an evil smile at Gravar. Slowly it took methodical steps towards Gravnar, as if attempting to be menacing. A mere pace away from her foe, the creature lunged at Gravnar with a triumphant snarl, biting at his neck.

The deceptive movements of the rat thing must have thrown Gravnar’s defense off, because he felt the fangs of the creature gnawing into his shoulder and neck area. (Att 20, Dam 5)

Jharron moves forward aims and fires an arrow at the rat that just bit into Gravnar.

Shylent, help Gravnar. Nitram moved in front of Aeron O20 and fired a flight arrow at the wounded rogue, hoping to finish him off. R22, + 7/1d8+6

Jharron knew with the rat all up in Gravnar’s space that the shot would be difficult, but his skill and training in the use of the bow could negate that. Taking the time to ensure he did not hit his friend, Jharron released his arrow. In the to and fro of combat, the arrow went narrowly left, harming neither opponent. (Att 15)

As Blend knew would happen, the second rogue in the room hopped off the bench and maneuvered cautiously in position to attack, apparently pissed at his friend. “I told you mate, step back and wait to flank his keister!”

The rogue attacked Blend with determination, and barely missed connecting with his slender dagger. (Att 18)

Nitram’s arrow flew straight at the injured rogue’s head, and only a last minute dodge behind the cover of the corner (cover, -4) saved his face from eating the arrow. (Att 14)

Daelin maneuvered into position in the hallway, and drew his sword while muttering mystical words. He moved as far down the hall as he could, hoping to get an angle where Blend would not be blocking Daelin’s intended target. Daelin then flung his sword at the rogue in melee with Blend. (in melee -4) The sword twisted and danced through the air, barely edging past Blend (cover, +4 AC to target) before cleaving into the side of the rogue and returning to Daelin’s hand. (Att 23, dam 7)

A beguiling looking woman dressed in black and brown robes stepped out from behind a curtain to the west (only Blend has line of sight) and made a gesture over the fire burning next to the table. A wisp of smoke rose off of the flame and drifted suddenly towards Blend, wrapping him in a gauzy haze of smoke that gripped him like iron, causing him to become frozen in place. (Will 12)

Shylent, taking her cue from Nitram, moved up to assist Gravnar. She stabbed at the wererat with the silver shortsword (?) she had been given. The blade drew a grazing wound across the vile creature’s back, that seemed to ooze pus and infection. (Att 19, dam 4)

The wounded rogue, having seen Blend’s peril, moved up swiftly to stab him with his dagger. (Att 19, dam 10)

Fero howls and streaks past Gravnar in an attempt to trip the wererat then prepares to rend and tear into the weak flesh of the beast.

Gravnar takes a full attack on the wererat in front of him. Silver longsword, 1d8+6.

Aeron whispered to the group. “We are fish in barrel in this hallway. Gravnar hold off the wererat, I’ll clear out the thieves…everyone else charge into the coven and close with that witch.” Aeron stepped in front of Daelin leveled his enchanted bow at the injured rogue and fired.

OOC Aeron 5ft step to O21, fired magic sheaf arrow with gravity bow at thief in R21 (+ 8 to Hit, 2d8+4 damage…if killed (2) of the same arrows erupt from the body and fire at the thief in R20). Spellcraft + 11 to determine what spell the witch cast on Blend.

Nitram called to the others, There’s another rat-man in the room!

Fero moved past Gravnar and Shylent, headed towards the wererat, he maneuvered easily past Shylent, but moving that close to the rat left Fero open to attack by the wererat. Fortunately, the combined efforts of Gravnar and Shylent caused the creature to miss. (Att 11)

The wolf’s jaws closed on the mangy hide of the wererat, but were unable to do any damage, or gain any purchase. (Att 18, dam 4-5)

Gravnar swung the silver longsword as Fero attempted to savage the wererat from the side. The wererat caught gleaming of the silvered sword from the corner of its eye and attempted futilely to get out of the way. (Att 22, dam 14) The bloodied rat had nearly lost most of its shoulder, and it hissed and lashed an actual tail in frustration and dismay.

For the first time in a long time, Blend was actually concerned. Ensorcelled by a blood witch, unable to move or even to speak, engaged with two rogues and with Rejo only a few feet away, he was suddenly face to face with his own mortality. Still, in his profession, death was an ever present reality. The merchant business could be…cutthroat…at times. If Blend could have smiled at his morbid sense of humor, he would have. Oh well…back to business…

Blend concentrated and disappeared from view. Hopefully it would confuse his opponents and buy him some time. He then tried to mentally break whatever spell had overcome him.

OOC: Swift action to enact invisible blade (mental action only), then make will save.

From farther within the room, the groupo heard an enchanting and vibrant voice say “As without, so within, may the fiery blaze of Pyremius fill you with fury”

A small wisp of flame reached out of the fire on the eastern side of the room and enveloped the already intimidating form of the large ratman. His eyes turned red and he howled with a fury reminiscent of hordes of barbarians.

Blend vanished. Blend then struggled inwardly with the spell the witch had put upon him. After summoning inner reserves of will, he managed to free himself from the compulsion. (Will 22)

The massively enhanced arrow from Aeron’s bow took the injured rogue directly in the center of his chest and slew him where he stood. (Att 22, dam 12) (-4 in melee) The arrow fired by Aeron seemed to be absorbed and flow into the corpse, moving around underneath its skin. (two arrows next round)

Aeron considered the predicament Blend had encountered, and realized the witch had cast Hold Person upon him. (Spellcraft 28)

Fanatical in its attack, the wererat continued to assault Gravnar, feebly scratching at his armor. (Att 9)

With calm and the utmost confidence in his friends, Jharron steps forward aims a a deadly shot at the rogue who seems barely alive and opens a path into the large room.

Here goes nothing… Nitram slings his bow over his shoulder and begins moving towards the larger rat creature in the room. He draws the silvered falchion while keeping an eye on the lone thief as he moves past. When he gets close to Pete T23 he swings the large weapon with both hands, attempting to rip the rat in half. + 8/2d4+7 silver

Jharron was not in the best position to see the rogue past Daelin and Aeron, but at least it looked like Blend had managed to move somewhere (hehehe) out of the way. (Rogue has cover, +4 AC) Jharron’s arrow missed the narrow window of opportunity and flew back somewhere beyond the battle and into the room. (Att 13)

Cautiously where Blend had went, rogue moved guardedly back one pace, and took the opportunity to slash at Nitram as he moved by, and managed to slice Nitram’s in the torso. (Att 19, dam 4)

Nitram’s two-handed swing at what he assumed was the infamous Pete Rejo, came close, but failed to do any damage. (Att 14) Rejo glared amusedly as he leaned slightly back and watched the falchion move narrowly by.

Daelin scurried down the hallway until the witch came into view (Q21). Focusing on his target, he hurled his longsword at her (Hand of the Acolyte +8 attack, 1d8 +3 damage)

That Hand of the Acolyte is pretty awesome…if only you used a scythe or a Lucern Hammer ;) The thief should be dead as soon as the arrows erupt from the dead one (each is + 8 Hit, 2d8+ 4 Dmg) that should give the rear guard time to finish the wererat.

The blood witch was dumbfounded by the sudden appearance of a longsword being flung through the air towards her. She attempted to move out of the way, but was caught on her leg by the flying blade. (Att 24, dam 8)

Limping from the grievous gash on her leg, the witch chanted and muttered some unintelligible words. From the surrounding walls, cracks and crevices, rats began to swarm, coalescing with a hideous chittering sound between Daelin and Aeron.

Shylent took another stab at the wererat, placing her silver shortsword deeply into the previously injured area and twisting. (Att 23c, dam 7) The accurate attack severed the creature’s spine, and it collapsed and died, slowly turning into its human form.

Rejo flourished the two dark colored daggers he had been holding, and struck swiftly at Nitram. Both blades cut into the front of Nitram’s chest, drawing a line of blood. (Att 22 24, dam 4 3) One of the lines began to burn and tingle and Nitram felt a weakness wash over him. (1 point Con damage causes loss of 3 hp)

As Shylent slices into the ratman, Fero snarls and takes the battle to the injured rogue.

Knowing that he is on the wrong side of the action, Gravnar attempts to communicate with Fero, “Fero wait!” If Fero waits, Gravnar will charge at the rogue at S20. If Fero does not wait, Gravnar will attack the rat swarm from O20 with shield bash.

Aeron whispered to the rear guard (Shylent, Jharron, and Gravnar), “Hold your charge for a few breaths. The arrows emerging from the dead rogue should clear your way to the witch.”

Fero moved quickly to engage the remaining rogue. As he passed the rat swarm he kept close to the wall, slowed slightly and sniffed pointedly where Blend “used” to be.

He then leapt, jaws gleaming at the rogue in front of him. Fero savaged the rogue’s right arm, but was unable to pull him prone. Att 17, dam 5) The rogue shook Fero free, but appeared bloodied and in trouble.

Gravnar, resigned to battling his way to the main foe(s), stepped forward and bashed the pile of swarming rats with his massive shield. *{color:orange}(Att 14, dam 7) Squished rats and tortured squeals erupted from the pile, but the rats continued their relentless assault towards Daelin.

Blend and Nitram notice another robed female figure emerge from the curtains on the southern wall. She moved over to the injured witch, scooped up blood from the wound on her leg and rubbed it on both her hands. Then chanting, she rubbed the blood back onto the injured witch, who was then healed!

The rat swarm clawed and bit its way onto Daelin. (Dam 3) The mass of rats were clawing and moving and swarming all over Daelin, ruining his concentration and distractiong him from his surroundings. (cast spell requires a caster level check (DC 20 + spell level)

“A little help, Jharron!” Daelin roared as the swarm of rats washed over him.

Daelin had slashed at the rats as they moved menacingly towards him (Att 12) but had been unable to hit any of them.

Blend, having shaken off the enchantment he was under, saw the source of his recent frustration. He slide past the wounded rogue and approached the witch, who apparently had a friend now. He drew the serrated knife from his sleeve and stalked up to the witch, waiting for her to expose her throat just enough.

The witch Blend approached was intently concentrating on Daelin, and never knew anything was out of the ordinary until she was struck by Blend’s blade. (Att 17, dam 12) As the cold steel caressed her neck, she instinctively pulled away, barely escaping with her life.

Aeron watched the two arrows erupt from the dead thief and launch at the wounded rogue being torn to peices by the wolf, Fero S20 + 8 Hit, 2d8+ 4 Dmg each. If still alive, Aeron will fire another magic arrow at the wounded rogue (with the erupting arrows going towards the injured witch)…otherwise. As the rogue collapsed from the wave of arrows, Aeron stared at the rats swarming over Daelin. Hundreds of beady red eyes and gnashing teeth moving around him like a living sea of writhing filth. There is nothing I can do without hurting Daelin, thought Aeron. He choked back his disgust, ran past the tangled mass, and jumped onto the sacrifice table T20 intentionally smearing a break across the evil symbol. Aeron looked down on the bedeviled women and shouted, “Save the town…burn the witches!” Aeron’s cloak fluttered from his leap onto the table as he raised his hands and recited the arcane words, “Ardens Manus!” From his outstretched hands he summoned forth a rolling wave of fire that intensified as it past over the burning brazier and engulfed the two witches.

Two arrows lept from the corpse of the dead thief, and one of them struck the injured rogue nearby, who was engaged with Fero. (Att 22 10, dam 20) The arrow that hit the rogue cut right through him and shattered against the ceiling, sending debris raining over Blend and the witches.

When Aeron’s rolling wave of fire hit the witches, the nearest one managed to roll under the brunt of it, while the injured one was struck with the full blast of the flame. Aeron had tossed on of his infamous alchemical fires into the path of the blast, and the liquid splashed onto the witch that had failed to dodge, causing her to continue to burn and smoulder for several seconds.

Jharron decided to do something about the swarm of rats. Jharron thought, this worked with the snakes back in the grove so it should work here too. With that thought, Jharron emanated the calm of the forest from his being and enveloped the swarm to calm them and render them helpless. “that swarm will calm down, just don’t attack them. Move through them and continue the fight. They will disperse on their own as long as they are not threatened.” Jharron then loads his bow and prepares to fire.

OOC cast calm animals on the rat swarm.

At first Jharron could feel the malign will of the witch unnaturally directing the rats towards vengeance on Daelin, but as she went up in flames, her concentration failed and her influence dissipated (into smoke, lol) and Jharron’s spell calmed the rats and they began to climb off Daelin and drop to the floor.

Ouch…that sucked Nitram assessed the growing number of enemies in the shrine room and the few friends that he could see, We could use more help in here! he called back up the hallway. He took a 5-foot step to the side, attempting to ensure he wasn’t flanked, T24 and swung the silver falchion at Pete again.

The blade swung by Nitram had a heft to it that allowed him to get a solid hit, (Att 26c, dam 17) injuring Rejo, as the wave of weakness continued to assail him.

Nitram attempted to fight off the wave of weakness and nausea that was coursing through his chest from the dagger’s cruel slice. (Fort 8) His normally healthy constitution had never been affected like this before, and the weakness continued to spread. ((1 point Con damage 12/14, 0 hp loss)

Blend and Aeron seem to have those two locked down, Daelin thought to himself. Checking to his right, Nitram seemed to be able to use some aid. As bad as i want those witches to myself, I’m probably more useful elsewhere. Without a second thought on the matter, he deftly maneuvered his way to his friend (S23) and asked Nitram’s god to intervene on his behalf (cast Cure Light Wounds, 1d8+3).

Divine energy washed over Nitram like a sudden burst of rain, and some of the wounds caused by Rejo’s daggers began to close, although the poison continued its deadly course. (hp 8)

Shylent hustled into the room, stopping just short of the fiery conflagration of burning witches. She paused, readying her weapons, and wrinkled her nose at the smell.

Rejo scoffed at Nitram snarling, “THESE are the termites infesting my house? How laughable!” He struck almost casually at Nitram again with both weapons. The first dagger slipped easily into Nitram’s chest as Rejo plunged the other into Nitram’s side. (Att 25 21, dam 5 6) He then glared at Daelin “Can your healing keep up priest?”

I hope so thought Nitram.

“Aeron and Fero keep the witch busy! Everyone else on rat duty!”

Assuming the path is passable, Gravnar will double move to V22.

Fero, responding to the direction provided by Blend and understanding Jharron was not in a position to assist, snarls and moves towards the witch and tears into her flesh with his jaws.

OOC move past Blend into V17 and attack the witch from on top of the bench/table.

Moving with determination, Gravnar made his way into the main room, where he was confronted with a tense scene. Nitram, bleeding from at least four wounds was holding off the quick and vicious attacks of a monstrous wererat, a creature that bulged with muscles and had a fiery gleam in its eye. Daelin appeared to be assisting Nitram, but from the looks of it, more help would be…helpful.

The witch confronting the trio in the western portion of the room began chanting droning hypnotic lullaby, and Blend, Aeron, and Shylent felt an initial wave of fatigue and weariness wash over them. Shylent struggled to shake it off, and eventually did so (Will 15). Aeron and Blend felt the after affects of the spell, and had no trouble ignoring it.

Fero made a looping run around Blend, and leapt upon the table, jaws flashing at the witch. ( plus 1 for higher ground!)

The wolf’s muscular jaws and sudden attack crippled the witch, and flung her prone to the ground. (Att 17, dam 5)

Aeron drew strength from his wave of companions assaulting out of the tunnel and into the sacrificial chamber. Towering above the fray, Aeron knocked an arrow from his magic quiver and fired down at the lone witch + 8 Hit…+ any circumstance bonus?, 2d8+4 Dmg, if killed arrow eruption at Rejo}.

Blend blinked from view and made his way over to help Nitram, drawing his alchemical coated blade as he did. He mopved into a flanking position and attacked Rejo.

Blend set himself up in the perfect spot for a deadly strike. Rejo groaned with pain as the unexpected blade sliced deep into his back. (Att 17, dam 16) From the look of Rejo’s injuries he was running on half stamina and half adrenaline from his rage. The red spark of the flame continued to dance within his eyes.

Aeron sighted down onto the prone witch with his bow. (plus 1 higher ground) Somewhat irritatingly, being knocked down by Fero had reduced her profile, making her less of a target (plus 4 AC). To his chagrin, the arrow hit and stuck into a bench just left of her head. (Att 10)

Jharron moves into the room and quickly scans the area. Based on everyone’s location and the damaged friends, Jharron raises his bow and fires one of the silver arrows that Aeron provided earlier into the giant wererat. “Hang in there Nitram, the cavalry is on the way.”

Nitram felt more confident with the appearance of his companions. He still had a nagging feeling that he might not survive this encounter if he wasn’t a little more cautious. He began to fight more defensively -4 to attack, +2 AC…should result in AC of 21 against the massive wererat while continuing to attack with his silver falchion. Then, he sidestepped again T25 to make more room for his friends to join the fight.

“Nitram! Hold your position!”

Jharron’s ability to send an arrow straight to its target was starting to become legendary. The silver arrow flew above the flames and lodged itself critically between two of Rejo’s ribs. (Att 27c, dam 22)

Time seemed to stop as Nitram hovered on one foot, torn between his inclination to move and Blend’s shout.

Nitram concentrated on ensuring Pete’s deadly blades didn’t make any further connections with his body. He attacked with the silver falchion, and barely missed connecting with the wererat’s throat. (Att 15)

Although he didn’t harm Pete, Nitram felt a little more confident, Rejo appeared to be running off of pure rage…and how long could that last? The confident feeling lasted for a second, and then another wave of nausea and pain swept over Nitram as he moved to his left. (Fort 12, 3 point Con damage 09/14, 6 hp loss)

“Daelin! Help Nitram! Shylent! Flank Rejo!” (Points to V23)

Daelin stepped to Nitram (S24) laying his unarmed hand upon the wounded ranger. Focunsing on the task at hand, he said a prayer asking Rillifane Rallathil to come to Nitram’s aid (cast Cure Moderate Wounds, 2d8+3).

Daelin’s timely request for Rillifane’s intervention appeared to be answered, as a surge of divine energy healed Nitram’s wounds.

Nitram felt all of his wounds close, but still didn’t feel as vigorous as before. (16 healing, Nitram maxed at 21/30)

Shylent assessed the situation and maneuvered to flank Rejo. She decided to approach Rejo from the side opposite Blend instead of next to him. Stepping between Rejo and Daelin, she got his attention for a moment with several cutting slashes of her silvered shortsword. (Att 7)

By this time Rejo’s voice was frothing with bubbling blood and thickened by the intense rage. With single minded purpose, and oblivious to his own safety, he continued his assault upon the ranger. “DIEEEEEE…RARRRRR!” Nitram’s enhanced defense maneuvers defelcted one of Rejo’s attacks, but was unable to stop the second. (Att 19 24, dam 5)

On his turn, Gravnar will step to V23 and do a full attack on Rejo with his silver longsword.

Gravnar’s attack would have missed, had it not been for the assistance from Nitram creating an opening as the rat focused on him. The longsword sliced into the creature’s side with a deadly ease. (Att 16, dam 12)

Pete Rejo slumped slightly, and the fire went out of his eyes as he fell to the floor.

The witch knocked down by Fero stood up quickly and made a dash for the curtains on the west side of the room. Fero took another bite at her as she got up, but only managed to snag a piece of her robe. (Att 7)

I think I’ve been poisoned. Can anyone help me…Jharron?

“I have not mastered the ability to neutralize poisons but I can determine if you were poisoned and slow the poison down. Daelin, can you neutralize poisons? Someone needs to go after that witch before she can heal and return with reinforcements!!”

I wasn’t sure if you had advanced that far yet. Hopefully, my body can fight it off.

“I cannot cure you of the poison, but I may be able to reverse some of its effects,” Daelin offered. (Is the ability drain temporary or permanent?) “Everyone, ensure that our foes are dead and not merely unconscious, then gather ‘round. I don’t want to inadvertently awaken them.” As soon as the enemies had been confirmed dead, Daelin gathered the party and prayed a prayer of healing. (Channel Energy, +2d6 30’ radius)

With a satisified smile, Gravnar sheaths the bloody long sword and once again wields his waraxe. Anticipating that someone will follow the witch, Gravnar readies himself to follow along.

Aeron seemed annoyed at the delayed pursuit. “Daelin, the witch is escaping. We need to wrap up the church services, just pray for Nitram’s elf half.”

Blend’s natural ability and his enhanced boots allowed him to move swiftly across the room after the witch. The curtain was still pushed aside by her hurried departure, and Blend could see her entering a room past a short 10 hallway. He stopped short and fired his bow at the fleeing woman. The witch had moved slightly to the side after entering the room, and the corner made Blend’s shot harder. None the less his arrow flew truly, (Att 19, dam 4) and struck the witch in the back as she was fleeing.

Mortally wounded and crippled, the witch fell kneeling to the floor, mumbling to herself.

Back in the main room, Jharron and Daelin considered Nitram’s predicament, and concluded he was poisoned. They would have to act swiftly before the poison potentially advanced further. (i.e. Nitram’s turn)

After ensuring Rejo was dead, the party gathered around Daelin and a wave of healing washed across the room and everyone in it, with the exception of Blend. Everyone’s wounds closed and they felt back to normal and healthy. Except Nitram. Even the healing could not restore the health removed by his damaged constitution. But the spread of the poison seemed to have stopped. (Fort 15, saved) (CON dam returns at 1 point per day)

Aeron retrieved a sack from his pack while mentally caveating his statement. The witches familiars cannot escape. Aeron searched the dead witches and their rooms for the familiars knowing the pets would be on them or near by. While Aeron shoved the familiars in the sack he whispered to the group, “Not to bring math into this victory party, but there are four witch beds and only two witch bodies.”

Blend approached the mumbling witch as quickly as possible, hoping to incapacitate her for questioning/interrogation. AS he approached, he could tell the witch was nearing the completion of some spell, as the blood that dripped from her wounds began to steam and sizzle, and a wave of heat rushed off her form.

Blend took a chance and struck the witch upon the back of her head with the hilt of his sword (-4). A sizzle of burnt hair erupted from the blow, and the witch collapsed forward, unconscious. (Att 21, dam 4nl) The heat in the air quickly dissipated.

Aeron joined Blend in the room, and searched for the witch’s familiars. He soon came to the conclusion that this room was not the lair of the witches, as it had more of an appearance of a guard room or bunk area.

Blend bound and gagged the witch. Once he was sure she was secure, he searched her. After this, he began his methodical search of this room, before moving onto the central room. He searched all the bodies, including Rejo’s. After this was taken care of, he peaked behind each of the curtains to see what they were hiding.

Thank you Daelin. He then turned to the rest, Do we want to search beyond the curtains to the south and east or continue clearing the sewer passageways towards Rejo’s headquarters?

Aeron assisted Blend in searching the witches and Rejo while answering Nitram Tam, “Let’s clear the curtained rooms and then continue to Street Merchant safehouse.”

Gravnar says, “Sorry to be the slow one, but let’s recap. Witches! More witches?!! And now a live witch as our prisoner? We were prepared for the wererats, but were we ready for the witches? Might there be a more powerful witch ahead? How can we interrogate this one? I’d like to know more about how to avoid being overpowered by witchcraft and what lies ahead! Do you need me to show her some Gravnar resolve?!!” He fumbles with his bagpipes and considers his options for interrogation.

Aeron smiles and offered another option to Gravnar, “I will attempt to hypnotise the witch so she can tell us what else to expect in this temple of ill repute. It has over an 80% chance of success, so you can put the bagpipes and brass knuckles away.”

Aeron knelt in front of the subdued witch, made some arcane motions, and begane to talk in a low monotone voice. “Was this Pete Rejo?…How many witches are here in the sewer coven?…What circle is the highest witch in your coven?…Where do you keep the familiars?…Where does Rejo keep his gold and jewels?…How many thieves are left in guild safehouse?…What other dangers are in the sewer temple?” As the fascination begins to wear off Aeron will implant one final suggestion. Call your familiar to you."

After searching the bound and gagged witch Blend came up mostly empty. Some cheap jewelry and one nice moonstone necklace.

When conducting his methodical search of the room, Blend discovered a secret door in the center of the western wall, checking it out thoroughly it appeared to lead out and north to the “main” passage.

Aeron assisted with the search of the area, and Blend and he determined the poor slob guards had very little to their name, some spare leather armor in footlockers and 56 silver stashed in various locations.

Searching the burnt body of the first witch was a gruesome task, but it proved worthwhile. Under her cloak like robes she was wearing a leather trenchcoat, a style favored in Toreador. The two rogues had standard fare, daggers of various types and leather armor, and a combined total of 23sp and 10gp.

Aeron’s attention was diverted from the search of the rest of the room and the corpse of Rejo by a large clay bottle, blue in color, that had been set in the middle of the ritual table. From the straps and the remains of the equipment, it appeared to have been placed upside down over a normal bottle so the contents could drip into it.

Blend was cautious as he searched the body of the infamous Pete Rejo. As hard as Rejo had been to hit, he would have expected him to wear some armor, but there appeared to be nothing but rich velvet and silk clothing, and a leather bracer on each arm. The daggers Rejo had used on Nitram sparked some concern on Blend’s part. Looking closely, he could see the residue of some type of poison on one of them.

Aeron put the disturbing clay bottle out of his mind for a moment. Setting the bound witch upon a bench, he began to motion and speak in a droning monotone.

The clearly hostile witch glared at Aeron until her eyes began to glaze over, and she began to seem indifferent about his actions and her fate. She resignedly began to answer his questions.

“Yes, that was Pete Rejo, he was the new spawn”

“Two, Carrie and I”

“The main coven? She is of the 5th circle”

“The familiars, mine is a rat, stay in our bedroom most of the time, but they run off into the sewers when there’s danger.”

She seemed reluctant to answer any more questions, and when Aeron attempted to have her call her familiar, she laughed and got a flirty, nasty look in her eye. “I’m sorry sweetie, you’re a little too polished to be my type, and you don’t look like you’re into rodents.” She smiled wickedly.

Nitram will sheath the falchion, draw Kinslayer, and attempt to search for tracks…especially those of a rat familiar.

“Should have asked where the coven in the Goshen Hills was located…”

Aeron handed Rejo’s poisoned blade to Blend and motioned towards the bound witch, “Your witness, Merchant Blend. She has a strong will and may take some convincing.”

Aeron voiced his support for Nitram Tam’s detailed search for the familiar tracks. “Nitram, your search holds the last hope for rooting out the demon’s connection to this realm. Jharron has a way with animals, perhaps he can assist in calling forth the rats. If you can find the nest of rats where the familiar is hiding…I can identify him.”

Aeron then ushered Daelin over and whispered. “Let us examine the witch’s room to the south. I feel confident we have destroyed the corruption that the Elf Queen Belcadiz warned was rising in this region. That said, due diligence requires us to search the witch’s room to make sure the corrupting influence has not spread beyond Capone.”

Nitram stopped next to Aeron and leaned towards him, Once we have searched the area, make sure you determine what magic allowed Pete to defend our…my strikes so well without armor. Then, he continued on his search.

After sweeping aside the curtain, Blend led the search of the southern and eastern rooms.

The southern room was obviously the boudoir of the witches. There were beddings of brightly colored pillows and blankets, clean and soft. In fact, the entire room was clean and tidy in comparison to the rest of the temple/hideout. Next to each of the piles of bedding was a dresser and vanity with a large oval mirror. A thorough examination of the vanities revealed…makeup and women’s stuff.

Including jewelry. A large chunk of onyx and an oval pin of chalcedony. And a silver ring with a note stuck in it. “Remove before experimenting on Pete”

The northwestern corner of the room had what appeared to Aeron to be an alchemist’s workbench, and the southwestern corner had an arcane experimenting table.

Nitram began searching for tracks, rat tracks specifically. (Surv 27) He found several rat tracks leading into the witches boudoir, of a normal sized variety. Once inside the bedroom he followed the tracks in and out of several small sewer connections in the southern wall. He also found what appeared to be snake tracks.

When searching the "southern vanity, blend found a secret compartment with a stack of papers in a black leather journal, held together by what appeared to be a strip of flayed human skin. Or leather.

The eastern room turned out to be the lair of Pete Rejo. Hidden under the bed was a footlocker with pouches of gold. 500gp to be exact. Leaning in the corner by the bed was a masterwork greatsword, with stylized wingless dragons etched and entwined along the blade.

The dresser was half full of fancy clothing, and half full of Rejo’s most important documents.

The work bench to the right of the door as you entered the room looked like something you would see at a mortuary. In the party’s expert opinion, Pete seemed to be assembling some type of dog from various other animal parts, including what looked like…a duck.

Back in the main room, Jharron was keeping an eye on the witch. She seemed to be an interesting sort, kinda like a farm girl who had lost her way. When she sighed and slumped in fear for her fate, it attracted his attention. With her hands bound, she had no way to bring the shoulder of her robe back up to cover where it had slid down, almost exposing her bosom. She looked at Jharron with a soft plea in her eyes, and he felt her shame. Jharron began moving forward to help the young lady out of her predicament.

Nitram put a hand on Jharron’s arm, pausing his action (hopefully). You might not want to get that close. Maybe use a stick or your bow to help her out.

Aeron instructed them to pile everthing they found into the large central chamber, then he focused arcane energies and his eyes flashed an eldritch blue as he slowly gazed over each of the items found. He quickly filtered out the items that were magic and studied the items auras to determine the nature of the magic.

“That’s a good idea.” Jharron puts the bow away and pulls out his staff. Using the end of the staff he efficiently moves the robe back into place over her shoulder. He then moves over to Fero and continues his vigilance on the prisoner. Interesting that one so young has been corrupted so quickly. I wonder if she was just under the influence of the dead witch or if there is some credence to Gravnar’s statement that a more powerful witch is in the area.

Aeron, can you enlighten those of us with limited witch knowledge. What did you mean about the circle of the highest witch in the coven? Why do you want the familiars so badly? Can witches control other people?

Gravnar nods to Nitram and summons forth an epic dwarven-size yawn followed by a look of a complete blankness. “Yeah, did we learn anything?”

Aeron spoke with Nitram as they watched Jharron repositioning the bound witch’s clothes with his staff. “Witches are master manipulators and corruptors. None of us should be left alone with the prisoner. They conceal their true nature, just as their demonic patron conceals its identity. This one looks like a farm girl, but she may be a hundred years old. Most covens have a hag as the central leader.”

“The hag of these witch’s central coven is of the fifth circle. That is a very powerful spellcaster, far beyond our capabilities. The coven leader is capable of creating great plagues, curses, and possessions.” Aeron took out the magical spectacles and looked about suspiciously. “The coven hag may be scrying on us right now through the eyes of those missing familiars.”

“The missing familiars are critical for us to find. They are the direct links from the witches to their patron demon. If we can capture a familiar we can determine what the corrupting force is behind this coven and we can use it to leverage the living witch. Familiars can also be bribed, and we may be able to get more useful information out of them than the captured witch, but time is ticking away. The familiar of the dead witch will lose its connection to the patron demon and its unnatural intelligence in one day…so we must find it before this information disappears.”

As Aeron proceeded to investigate the magical potential of the pile of loot, he paused oddly and looked at Blend. The two of them stared for a long uncomfortable moment, and then seemed to snap out of some funk, and shake their heads.

Jharron glanced over at the witch and noticed that she didn’t seem as young and farm girl like as she did a moment ago. She noticed him looking and shrugged her shoulders.

Nitram caught the shrugging of shoulders and looked at the witch again. She certainly was a beauty. So…soft.. “Those ropes have to be chafing” he thought.

“Can’t we end the connection, and therefore the threat, of the familiars by killing the witch? Let me look into this ledger I found to see if there is anything valuable in it. Perhaps we don’t need her alive in the first place.”

Jharron looks over at Nitram just in time to see his eyes light up. When he does this, he notices Nitram is not as healthy looking as he was upon entering the area. “Nitram, I thought Daelin healed you. Are you still not feeling well?” Jharron hopes to distract Nitram from the witch and break her spell.

OOC If Nitram responds that he is still suffering some ill effects from the poison, Jharron will cast lesser restoration with the following description: “relax a minute and let me see what I can do.” Jharron concentrates and flows uninterrupted nature forces into Nitram and removes the taint of the poison. OOC the spell will cure 1d4 points of temporary ability point damage.

I feel fine. She just looks like she’s having trouble breathing. Look at her, she doesn’t look like she can hurt us anymore. I just think her bonds need to be loosened a little.

Aeron addressed Blend’s course of action, “By destroying Rejo, we have delt a powerful blow to blood magic corruption in the Goshen Hills. In dealing with the witches, we must take the long view and resist the human tendencies to choose the expediant solution. Of course, we can kill Nitram’s lady friend, but she is just a minor actor in a larger play. The source of the witch’s power is their demon patron. If we kill the witch we lose an opportunity to learn which witch patron is which.”

After a brief pause to appreciate his tongue twister, Aeron continued. “After a brief arcane review of these room contents, there are few items I want to call your attention to: Rejo’s magic serrated dagger that Blend holds is very valuable. The slightest scratch can poison the average human to death in less than a minute. Rejo’s other serrated dagger is minorly magical, but does not have the same poison ability. Rejo’s magic leather bracers are also very valuable. They do not help those that are already wearing armor, but to those that don’t, they function as if they are wearing leather armor.”

Aeron motioned at the two piles of documents. “Merchant Blend, when you finish reviewing the ledgers for any delivery addresses or contacts outside of Capone, please appraise this collection of items salvaged from the rooms.”

"
Cheap witch jewelry (gp)
Moonstone Necklace (gp)
Witch Bedding (2)
Witch Dressors (2)
Witch Onyx (gp)
Witch Oval Pin of Chalcedony (gp)
Witch Silver Ring with note “Remove before experimenting on Pete” (gp)"

Aeron pointed to the masterwork greatsword. “Nitram, if you can cool your human blood for a moment, you may want to try your hand at this finely crafted dragon etched greatsword. While not a traditional elven blade you may find more suitable than those savage scimitars. Alternatively, if you choose to embrace your heritage, I also have an elven curved blade that I have never swung in anger. You are welcome to take that if it is more to your liking.”

“Once we distribute the belongings, I will need your help transporting the alchemy lab, arcane laboratory, and construct laboratory to the Erishkilgal Temple.”

“I am fairly certain I can get thirty to forty gold for the moonstone necklace. Be worth more if the chain matched the stone. The onyx chuck will fetch about thirty. The pin, sixty perhaps and the ring seventy-five. That leather trench coat over there is actually fairly valuable. Worth about fifty gold I’d say. The venomous dagger is worth up to 10,000 gold pieces in some circles. I’ve always viewed poison as…unsavory. The great sword is of masterwork quality and worth upwards of 350 gold pieces. The magical non-poisonous dagger would make a good backup weapon for someone. The bracers that protect like armor are worth about 4,000 gold.” Blend paused, before continuing. “The documents confirm what we have already suspected. Harbor Freight is trying to cause unrest in the Gloaming Hills. Enough that Falconaire loses control over them. Rejo and the coven were the prime antagonists. Rejo was promised Capone in exchange.” Blend thought hard about what to say next. “We should be very careful if, when and with who we share this information. I know the dwarf will argue to go straight to the authorities with this, but even though his heart is in the right place, it would be a mistake. We can use this information to our advantage and also to the detriment of our enemies, but only if we control its release.” Blend looked carefully on the countenances of his companions to judge their reactions to his words. Nitram, as he suspected, could not keep his eyes off the witch. “Aeron, it’s my opinion that the witch is too dangerous to leave alive. Look at what she has done to our ranger friend here, and earlier, to a lesser extent, Jharron. Question her further if you like, but the risk is all yours. I’d rather put a blade to her throat and be done with it. And before you judge me dwarf realize that my actions would be merciful compared to what the militia and townsfolk would put her through before the finally gave her the release of death!”

Gravnar steps close to the witch to prevent anyone loosening her binds and to prevent anyone from cutting her throat.

“Is there no way to render the witch powerless? What if we cover her head with a metal mask or cut out her tongue? I do not think we have the authority to pass judgment outside of the law.”

“In addition, I must somehow inform Leader Gracier. May I provide her the Witch Silver Ring with note “Remove before experimenting on Pete” with the promise that we will tell her more when we can?”

Blend arched an eyebrow at the dwarf. “Not all laws are created equal and not all laws serve the people. As far as informing Steelholdt, you are not beholden to her and owe her nothing as far as I can tell. No law is holding you to that service. We can tell her that we have dispatched Rejo and the Street Merchants. The rest we keep to ourselves.”

The young waif of girl withered under the party’s stern regard, and looked longingly up towards Gravnar as a child would towards a father figure.

Nitram refocused his energy on following the rat and snake tracks into the sewer.

Nitram, after double checking the signs and clues he had previously discovered, re-affirmed that any familiar like creatures would probably have escaped via small sewer connections in the southern wall of the witch’s boudoir. Only six inches or so across, there was no following that path any further.

Aeron answered Gravnar’s question about nullifying a witch’s power. “Folklore tells of several things that can make a witch powerless; presenting a holy symbol, waiting for the cockcrow, crossing a stream, and burning them at the stake.” Aeron paused thoughtfully and then continued. “In my experience, only the latter seems to be of any affect.”
Aeron motioned towards the emptied dressors. “You should be able to chop up these dressors and get enough kindling to cleans her soul with fire…but there is another option. Her sister circle is broken with the death of Carrie. Perhaps she is rethinking her vocational choice. If she foreswears witchcraft and accepts a suggestion to refrain from witchcraft, we should consider setting her up with an apprenticeship at Horace’s herbal shop in the city to start a new life.”

Was that a hint of a smile and an eye roll that crossed Blend’s face, or was it just Aeron’s imagination?

“Aeron, Is your suggestion a foolproof way to ensure she refrains from practicing witchcraft? If not, I am not ready to release her and chance the spread of the use of blood magic for evil purposes. I believe she presents a great danger to us as even in her present condition she has the power to mess with our minds.” Jharron turns to Blend and says “I agree we need to control the release of information to ensure we have the upper hand in our upcoming encounters.”

Again the witch’s eyes glazed over from Aeron’s mystical gestures and droning chant. Or from boredom. Either way she seemed calm and receptive to Aeron’s questions.

“There aren’t any blood druids in the Goshen Hills.”
“In the fire swamp.”
“Put the different blood in the clay bottle.”
“There aren’t any good lycanthropes that we know of.”
“Alucruor, Viator of Blood.”
“I would love a job in Capone, bless you.”

From the main room the party heard the voice of Sylvia. She had just arrived with Julliette and seemed suitably impressed with the carnage.

She explained to the group that a trio of rogues had attempted to bust out of Rejo’s safehouse, but unfortunately for them, they met a timely demise. Feeling bored, they two of them left Fleet and Noel to continue the containment and followed the back trail of the rogues here.

She remarked casually “We met no further trouble other than a pair of rats the size of Rel Astran shepherd dogs. The area is secured.”

Aeron responded to Jharron’s concerns. “I only guarantee burning at the stake as a permanent solution. Alucruor, the Viator of Blood, may see into this witch’s heart, but the rest of us can only judge her by her word. Perhaps, if Daelin uses his divine powers to create a zone of truth, we can determine if she truly intends to no longer practice witchcraft. If that does not work, we can exact justice here or turn her into the Pantheon temple in Capone. I hear they have an inquisitor available to extract a full confession.”

“I agree with turning her over to the Pantheon temple. Does this meet the requirements of controlling the release of information? Do you think the inquisitor could be convinced to release the information only to you until the time is right?”

Shylent fingered her honor bound shortsword thoughtfully.

Daelin first addressed Gravnar, “If it’s the laws of this city you are attempting to enforce, she is a practicioner of witchcraft, a crime punishable by death unless I am mistaken. So by all means dwarf, uphold the law.”

“I would be happy to lend a hand in discerning the truth from this one, though I suspect it will not be as benevolent as you all might hope,” Daelin said, addressing the group. “I am sure the Pantheon Temple would be more than adequate to ensure this one would cause no further harm, if that’s the route chosen.”

“I am not the law. I do my best to uphold it. None of us are judge, jury, or executioner. Any sentient beings who are neutralized either voluntarily or involuntarily will have my protection until they are put before the law. The after-effects of facing the law will be an example to all.”

With a certain degree of hopelessness, Gravnar pulls a bag from his backpack and places it over the witch’s head, saying “Do not fight me witch, or several sharpened blades will see to your death.”

To the group, he says, “Unless we have more immediate concerns, I recommend we arrange for our prisoner to be escorted to the Pantheon Temple. Sylvia and Julliette, would you be willing to escort her there?”

Aeron agreed, “Very well, Daelin, Sylvia, and Julliette can take the witch to the pantheon temple. Gravnar and Nitram can take the head of Rejo to the City Guard. I will transport these laboratories to the Ereshkigal temple. Meanwhile, Blend can sell the unclaimed items discovered in Rejo’s lair. We can all meet back at the Jovial Peryton for breakfast. What say you?”

Items to sell:
Cheap witch jewelry (gp)
Moonstone Necklace (40 gp)
Witch Bedding (2)
Witch Dressors (2)
Witch Onyx (30 gp)
Witch Oval Pin of Chalcedony (60 gp)
Witch Silver Ring with note “Remove before experimenting on Pete” (75 gp)
Leather Witch Trenchcoat, Toreador (50 gp)
Leather Armor (3×10 gp)
Rejo Rich Velvet and Silk Clothing (
gp)
Rejo Leather Bracers of Armor + 2 (4000 to 9000 gp)
Rejo Dagger of Venom (8,302 to 10,000 gp)
Rejo Dagger +1 (2302 gp)
Thief daggers (4×2 gp)

“hmmm Blend appraised the Dagger of Venom at 1,000 to 10,000, I wonder where this appraisal came from?”

Nitram picked up the greatsword and examined it again before spending several minutes figuring out how to secure the five foot long sword to his person. Maybe now I won’t need a lance when I find my griffon… he looked at the pile of loot. Blend, weren’t you going to grab Rejo’s magical dagger as a backup?

I tend to agree that we should take the witch to the Pantheon Temple. I might also argue that by virtue of what we have done here we are in some aspect judge, jury, and – in the other witch and in Pete’s case – executioner. The same can be said if we release her…we are judge and jury. To a degree, we are acting as instruments of the law regardless of what we do – which I am fine with. But her threat has been temporarily neutralized…mostly. We should take the witch and Pete’s body to the authorities. We can tell them whatever you want as long as they know that Pete’s threat to trade is over. We still have the other guild to deal with before we head off to the fire swamp. I’ll bring Pete’s body to Gracier. The shouldn’t be a need to remove his head.

Blend began to gather up items. “I’ll try and get fair market price for all of this stuff. Some of these will be harder to find a buyer for than others. Don’t delay your breakfast on my account. I can catch up later.”

We still need to determine the Veil’s cut of the loot…something about “profit distribution” and “contributions to the cause”. Thoughts?

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SkidAce

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