Beneath the City
A pungent odor assaulted the adventurers’ nostrils from the cesspits below, as Cuana and Tullweim lifted the grate in the street Dhak had led the party to. Dubious looks were exchanged as the Stygian steeled his nerves and climbed down with Xacksmith close behind. The Hyrkanian lit a candle which flared brightly amidst the noxious fumes and the adventurers did not travel far when they arrived at a foul cistern which reeked of the sewage from the nearby noble manors. If the information Dhak was given was correct, this dismal junction room held the entryway into Lord Nadanidus’ catacombs. The adventurers glanced around, but there was no door in evidence, only the room’s old stone walls, slick and green with lichen. The room itself was more or less square, though its low ceiling, supported by four square pillars of brick, caused the party to stoop. Including the entry they used, there were three tunnels leading out of the room, heading, they assumed, deeper into the sewers. A narrow, filth-slick walkway ran around the perimeter of the room, bridging the three exits with rotted wood catwalks. Aside from this walkway, none of the room’s floor was visible, concealed beneath a slow-moving tide of deep and noxious sludge. Stains on the walls marked the level to which the sludge had risen in the past, and the adventurers were grateful there had been little rain in Tarantia of late.
Dhak braved the catwalk and made his way to where Barthias had told the secret entrance would be found. Xacksmith followed with candle in hand but the fatigued Hyrkanian’s foot slipped off the walkway and he tumbled into the filth below. The cistern was not deep and the Hyrkanian was in no danger of being swept away, though he did lose his candle as well as most of the last meal he had eaten. Dhak lit a candle of his own as Xacksmith wiped the refuse from his eyes and climbed back onto the catwalk. Not wanting to follow the Hyrkanian into the muck, Cuana dug his fingers into the lichen patches along the brick wall and carefully moved across the walkway without incident. Tullweim then attempted to cross, but the Aesir’s weight caused the rotten wood to give and he too was swallowed by the sludge below. Tullweim stood cursing and flinging muck off his person while Dhak indicated to Xacksmith where the door to the catacombs should be and the Hyrkanian quickly found a hidden latch revealing a narrow, winding passage with lit sconces showing the way.
The passage ended at a door which appeared unlatched. The Stygian pressed his ear against the door and could hear the murmur of several men behind it. Dhak reached into his satchel and retrieved the dark robes of a Stygian priest he had acquired in Ianthe. Tullweim inquired what Dhak was up to and the Stygian replied that the robes of Mitran priests were similar in color. The Stygian’s plan was to pretend to be one of the corrupt Mitrans come to meet with the others. The Aesir nodded his approval as Dhak quickly dropped most of his equipment and donned his robes. The Stygian then opened the door and entered a room which was empty except for the 3 guards who stood there. The guards challenged the Stygian, who bluffed his intention of joining the meeting. The guards waved him past the southeastern door and closed it behind him. Shortly thereafter the door to the sewer entrance was opened again and the rest of the party charged their foes. Cuana and Tullweim slaughtered 2 of the surprised guards as the third attempted to flee through the southeastern door. The guard was in mid-cry as he flung the door open to be met by Dhak’s blade.
The Brotherhood of the Bull
The Stygian gathered his equipment from Tullweim, stole towards the door which the guards had stated the Brotherhood of the Bull met behind and pressed his ear against it. Dhak could hear furtive whispers demand someone investigate the cry that was heard. The Stygian stepped back just as the door opened, revealing a Mitran priest. Tullweim leapt at the priest and easily drove his Akbitanan greatsword through the unarmored Mitran. Constanus stood among the throng of priests who met in this larder and commanded the others to smite the infidel heretics. Many of the priests rushed the adventurers with daggers as several stood afar from the melee, weaving spells targeting the Aesir and Cimmerian. Cuana delivered a slash which would have killed a man upon the shoulder of a priest who used his sorcery in defense, defiantly declaring he would not die this hour.
Constanus hurled a glass orb at Cuana which exploded into fire when it hit the Cimmerian’s armor. Xacksmith skewered several of the Mitrans with arrows from his Hyrkanian bow. Dhak uttered dread words older than Acheron, causing one of the slain priests to rise. Several of the Mitrans panicked at the sight of one of their fallen comrades standing again as Cuana and Tullweim entered a crimson mist. The Cimmerian had suffered much by the machinations of this brotherhood and he could no longer hold his hatred in. Cuana smote the 5 priests surrounding him with a roar that shook the pillars holding up the smoke-blackened ceiling. The Stygian loosed 2 arrows with his Stygian bow and struck down another Mitran. One of the priests finished casting his spell and Tullweim became entranced by the Mitrans hypnotic stare. The priest then bade the Aesir lay his sword before him and sleep. 5 manor guards were drawn to the scene by the death cries of the priests. Dhak reached into a pouch from his belt and threw thunderclap powder with an ear-shattering crash which filled the hallway with smoke.
The Mitran priest Constanus could see the tide of battle was not in his favor as many of his brothers lay dead at his feet. Constanus cast sorcery which affected all who saw him. He suggested the fight was between the adventurers and Lord Nadanidus and he would leave to allow them to settle their dispute. Not even the Cimmerian’s hatred could keep Constanus’ words from subduing Cuana’s sword arm. Tullweim roused to see all stand aside as the Mitran exited the larder through the smoke-filled hallway. Once out of the way a manor guard drove his broadsword to the hilt through Dhak’s gut. One of the remaining priests hypnotized Cuana forcing him to fall to the ground in submission. Xacksmith skewered Cuana’s assailant with 2 arrows to the chest. Tullweim rushed to the door to allow Dhak to break away from his attacker and keep the guards from entering the larder.
Though the guards delivered fierce blows to the Aesir with the intent of forcing him back into the room, Tullweim stood as unmoving as one of the pillars in the room. Instead it was the guards who retreated from the Aesir’s greatsword as he delivered savage sword swings and near sundered a foe’s shield. After knocking the last Mitran unconscious, Cuana and Xacksmith flanked the Aesir and prepared to fill his place should he fall or withdraw. A guard commander shouted an order to clear the way as he moved forward to face Tullweim. The captain delivered a powerful strike to the Aesir, but his grin vanished as Dhak gazed at him through the Heart of the Elephant and hurled shrinking doom on the officer. The other guards gaped in horror as their captain shriveled to the size of a marionette, screaming in unmasked terror as he ran ‘tween their legs. The sound of more guards entering the hallway was heard as another voice commanded the guards to stand their ground and push the intruders back into the room. Tullweim grasped his blade and shouted a challenge to all who would meet their death before him.