The Grim Larder
Tullweim blocked the doorway with sweeping swings of his Akbitanan greatsword and roared out a challenge. The guards who attempted to press into the larder hesitated for but a moment when an order was shouted out as more armed men entered the hallway past the adventurers’ line of sight. The guards doubled their efforts to force the barbarian back, striking powerful blows the Aesir could not easily parry. Cuana, Dhak, and Xacksmith did not have room to aid their Aesir companion and were trapped in the larder. The desperation of their plight lent strength to each blow Tullweim struck as Cuana and Xacksmith readied themselves should a foe break through. The Stygian bent over the unconscious Mitran priest and placed his hand to the man’s forehead. For a moment Dhak was exactly the predatory heretic the Mitran’s warned of as he drained the priest of his wits to fuel his sorcerous power. The Stygian then drove his Ghanata knife into the priests chest, spilling his lifeblood in ritual sacrifice. The commander’s voice was heard again ordering the wounded guards back. A man in a mail shirt with a finely crafted arming sword and the scars of many battles on his face squared off with the Aesir. The hardened mercenary announced himself as Taspius, Lord Nadanidus’ guard captain, before delivering two powerful strikes with his Akbitanan arming sword which sliced through the barbarian’s armor and bit deep into his flesh.
Tullweim was close to succumbing to his wounds and swung twice at Taspius before stepping back into the room. The mercenary rushed in after the Aesir and Cuana swung down with his greatsword. Taspius wheeled on the Cimmerian as Xacksmith slid like a shadow and plunged his arming sword through the mercenaries back, killing him. The Stygian smiled at the opportunity and with his power replenished from sacrificing the priest Dhak wove a necromantic spell around Taspius’ corpse. The guard captain stood again, his lifeless eyes looking at the men who had served under him, filling them with terror. Cuana and Xacksmith also felt the cold breath of the grave whisper down the back of their necks and fearfully backed away. The rest of the guards fled to opposite ends of the hallway, half to the entry chamber and the other half past the door they had originally entered from. Dhak sent Taspius’ risen corpse towards the door the adventurers had not yet explored to bash it down. Though the walking corpse pounded at the door the magic which animated him ran out before the door buckled.
Xacksmith moved across the hallway to another closed door. He found the door locked but quick use of his masterwork thieves’ tools remedied the problem. Behind the door was a cool room furnished with wooden racks along each wall, holding nearly 200 bottles of wine. The Hyrkanian quickly glanced over the bottles and discovered they were from a variety of countries, though many of the bottles were labeled in a number of unknown scripts. Near the back of the room the Hyrkanian discovered several bottles of black lotus wine and a single glass bottle containing a pale golden liquid. Xacksmith called Tullweim to him and the Aesir opened the bottle, smelling the sweet wine within. The Aesir had tasted the golden wine of Xuthal in the past and thanked Ymir for the luck in finding it now. Tullweim downed most of the liquid then called out to Cuana. The Cimmerian partook of the wine at the Aesir’s urgings and immediately felt the pain of his wounds ebb. And not a moment too soon. The door which led further into the catacombs was thrown open and fresh guards poured forth.
Despite the guards advantage they could do little more than nick the Stygian as he defended himself from behind a shield taken off a fallen opponent. But he knew they would soon press in and the Stygian could be easily overtaken so Dhak let loose a powerful defensive blast which caused the guards around him to become mesmerized. Weakened by the effort Dhak quickly slit the throats of the two closest hypnotized guards. Dhak once again spoke words any sane man wouldn’t dare whisper and two of the slain guards stood up. The guards, Cuana and Xacksmith were all overcome with terror as the corpses shambled towards the guards who still lived. One of the guards lagged behind the others and was caught by the risen dead and torn limb from limb. The other guards retreated behind doors quickly closed and latched. After the risen corpses fell again Tulweim attempted to bash the door the guards had fleed behind. Though he struck mightily the door held fast. Cuana, however, was able to bash the door down with a single strike. The adventurers moved into the now open connecting hallway and looked about. They saw stairs which led up, two nearby doors which Nadanidus’ guards quaked behind and a continuation of the hallway. As they moved down the hallway, Xacksmith noticed a secret door and with some effort picked the lock.
Behind the cleverly concealed door laid the treasury of Lord Nadanidus. Coins, precious gems, art objects and other items of great value were scattered within the room. The adventurers were overcome by the sight of the wealth and quickly filled their pockets. Dhak discovered a large diamond the size of his fist. The Hyrkanian noticed another door in the northwest corner of the treasury as he filled his pouches. The door was unlocked and slightly open as if someone had passed through it in a great hurry. Behind the door was a rough-hewn corridor leading to a natural cave.
The Shrine of Set
The rough walls of the natural cave was covered with heavy black hangings which framed the dark alter in the center of the room. Atop the altar were several golden vessels set with rubies and onyx and behind it a man in the finery of a noble stood intoning a prayer to the Stygian god. Before the altar was coiled a huge snake, the sight of which sent waves of panic in all but Cuana. The snake lunged at the Cimmerian while his allies ran in terror. The lesser son of Set’s huge fangs bit deep into Cuana, grabbing him so the creature could coil around the barbarian and squeeze the life out of him. Once the barbarian quit struggling and lay on the floor as a corpse the serpent chased after the others. It bit Tullweim and wrapped him within its coils. The Aesir gasped for aid and Dhak was able to momentarily conquer his fear long enough to use the Heart of the Elephant to cast shrinking doom on the creature. The son of Set shrank down to the size of a python but Tullweim was still unable to break free. The Stygian then touched the serpent with the diamond he had found in Lord Nadanidus’ treasury, which caused the creature and the Aesir to be sucked into the gem. It took all the Aesir’s strength to pull free from the creature as it was sucked into the gem. The snake hissed and struck at the diamond but was harmless inside the gem.
The adventurers moved back to the shrine and Dhak challenged Nadanidus’, showing the serpent trapped within the diamond. Enraged, the corrupt noble attacked the Stygian with an Akbitanan broadsword which Dhak was unable to dodge. Though he bled from the wound the Stygian moved back from Lord Nadanidus, locked the nobles eyes with his own and engaged him in a sorcerous war of souls. The corrupt noble could not break free but his will proved to be more powerful than the Stygian’s and he drained Dhak of some of his wits. Tullweim then moved to the noble who was unable to physically defend himself and uncerimoniously lopped his head off. The Aesir then spent the next 15 minutes in an attempt to stabilize Cuana. Meanwhile Dhak took stock of the room and shook his head at the ironic events fate had led him to. The Stygian grabbed Lord Nadanidus’ head and wrapped his robes around it. Cuana was roused when Tullweim poured some wine down the Cimmerian’s gullet. When he was able to stand the adventurers quickly fled from the cellar the way they had come. Nobody challenged their egress.
Tullweim suggested the party hide the spoils from Nadanidus’ treasury before meeting with Publius. The adventurers ducked into a nearby alley and hid the wine bottles, gems, and coins under refuse that nobody but Tarantia’s most desperate would bother. Afterwards the adventurers made haste to the Chancellory.
They were admitted immediately and Publius received them in his study with an exhausted look on his face. Dhak spoke of the events occurred and of Nadanidus’ part in Constanus’ mechanitions. Publius demanded proof and the Stygian presented Nadanidus’ head. Dhak cast sorcery that animated the disembodied head to speak. Publius shrank in horror at the sight but listened intently as the Stygian intimidated the bodiless head into confessing. Dhak then showed Publius the son of set trapped in the gem. The Chancellor nodded grimly and thanked the party for putting an end to Nadanidus’ plot. Publius intimated his desire for the events to remain quiet and gave the adventurers the promised 2,500 silver. Cuana asked the High Chancellor to give his share to the families of those he’d slaughtered in the street. Publius nodded in understanding and told the party they were to be escorted out the southern gate to avoid any trouble. As they moved through the streets, Tullweim looked back longingly at where the party had buried their spoils as 8 Black Dragons marched the adventurers out of the city and into the wild once again.
The adventurers did not travel far in the dark of night. The next morning Xacksmith awoke with agonizing abdominal pain and a sudden fever. He wouldn’t keep anything he ate down and convulsed as if he was in the frozen north in the midst of the winter. Dhak examined the Hyrkanian and determined his blood was poisoned, most likely caused by the unsteady hands of the Mitran surgeon and aggravated by the sewage Xacksmith had fallen in. The party decided to stay where they were for the day, scant miles from the capital city. Morale was low due to Xacksmith’s condition and the lost spoils hidden in the muck-ridden alleys of Tarantia. The day passed with Dhak tending to Xacksmith while Cuana and Tullweim hunted for food.
Late in the evening as the party ate their catch, Dhak heard a sound from the nearby woods. The Stygian called out a challenge and a shadowy figure stepped forward. The figure threw back his hood and revealed himself as Gaulan the Asuran priest. Gaulan thanked the adventurers for their part in foiling Lord Nadanidus’ plot. He informed them that the assassination of the priest Daphnis and the subsequent crimes that had plagued the streets of Tarantia the past few days were laid firmly at the feet of the cult of Set. When asked about Constanus, Gaulan grimly replied that the involvement of the Mitran priests who made up the Brotherhood of the Bull was completely concealed. Constanus faced no charges, no trial in court but Gaulan had heard the corrupt priest would be remanded by the higher ups in the Mitraeum. What fate awaited him at the hands of his fellow Mitran priests was unknown, but was not likely to be pleasant. Gaulan then apologized for almost forgetting and dropped a sack in front of the party. Dhak opened the sack and found several of the bottles of Black Lotus wine as well as much of the silver and gems taken from Nadanidus’ treasury. Even Xacksmith’s spirits rose at the sight of the wealth the party had thought lost. Gaulan ate with the party and listened to the adventurers tales of the past night with much interest. He thanked the party again and took his leave in the midst of night pledging himself an ally and friend.
HP Total for all PCs at the end of this adventure:
| Cuana -10 Left for Dead | Dhak 11 | Tullweim 2 | Xacksmith 7 |