Chapter 10: Negotiations

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Session Number: 33
Date: Sunday 20 December 2009
Venue: Alain's
PCs & Players:

Emily Ftr3/Rog2 (Craig) (kills: none)
Enok Rgr5 (Alain) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal5 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz5 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

The group leave the sad scene in the lower chamber and return to the junction. They follow the fissure that leads upwards, Enok in front. The cracked passageway narrows and Enok spots more black fur caught on jagged rocks. He also makes out tracks of a larger cat, made longer ago. Troll guesses that the party is around 600 feet below the surface. The group press on. The fissure broadens again, continuing to ascend. Around half an hour later the party's noses tell them that they are nearing the surface - the air carries the smell of green, living things. Shortly thereafter Troll makes out faint natural light ahead. The fissure abruptly erupts into daylight, exiting some 60-70 feet up the side of a cliff. The ledgetop exit overlooks a treetop canopy that extends some 50 yards before giving way to a familiar grassy depression. The tower of Elondel can be seen about 150 yards away.

"If that's Elondel, and that's the treeline," gestures Troll, "doesn't that put us back in spider territory?"

No sooner are the words out of his mouth when the familiar sounds of the arachtria are heard. The party quickly and quietly retreat back out of sight, guessing (hoping) that the stalking creatures are not aware of the ledged cave. They carefully make the descent back to the corkscrew passage. There is some talk of collapsing the ascending tunnel, which is rejected as being too risky.

Satisfied that the risk of something large and furry pouncing on their backs is acceptably low, the group continue following the spiralling passage. They do not complete a full turn before the corridor opens into a 12 foot high chamber, whose opposite wall stands 30 feet beyond. The smell of lamp oil is almost overpowering. The chamber's stonecut floor is covered by oil around half an inch deep. Enok and Rowaine gingerly snuff out their lanterns. Rowaine pulls out two sunrods, whose light does not generate any heat or spark. Immediately after a sunrod is activated, Enok hears the sound of an armoured humanoid attempting to stealthily retreat. "Run!" he whispers, thinking the worst.

The party double-time back up the passageway and take cover in the fissure openings, but no gout of flame follows them. Emily takes a sunrod back down and about 80 feet from the chamber she places it on the floor. Troll then casts Invisibility upon her and she creeps up to the chamber.

Emily hears occasional chatter in a language she cannot make out. She crouches and peers around the left corner. The chamber continues on beyond what the dim light can reveal to her sensitive half-elf eyes. She removes her footwear and deftly moves to the opposite wall, careful not to disturb the surface of the oil. She then shadows the far wall to the left, but quickly runs out of light. She returns and moves the sunrod to the floor near the chamber's entrance.


Emily can hear hushed mutterings - the light of the sunrod has alerted whatever skulks beyond. It also reveals that the area is less like a chamber and more like a long, 30 foot wide corridor. On the floor some 60 feet distant lies a makeshift pile of debris. She again enters the pool of oil, heads to the far wall and sneaks up beside the barricade. The corridor continues on beyond the barricade, beyond her sight. The obstruction is made up of broken furniture, destroyed pieces of armour, rubble and other detritus. The whole pile is criss-crossed with strands of fibre with small bells tied to it. Emily can see very little else. She thinks for a while, returns to Troll, fetches the second sunrod and sneaks back to the barricade. The light is a mixed blessing - she can now clearly see the end of the corridor about 80 feet distant, and a passageway beyond, but the sunrod's light causes more urgent whispering from that direction. Something can see the light, even if they cannot see its source. Emily hefts a fragment of wooden debris towards the passageway, which is met with sharp, frenetic utterances. She looks at the walls at each end of the barricade, and reckons her chances of successfully climbing them are rather low. With her invisibility running out, she shrugs her shoulders and quietly heads back.

The others gather around the entrance as Emily wipes the oil off her feet and puts her soft boots back on. Their hushed conversation is suddenly broken by a loud voice. Emily cannot understand, but the others distinctly hear what sounds like the dwarven word "Identify!"

After a moment of discussion, Enok shouts back in dwarven. "Who are you?"

"Come forward, you who would enter our lands! Show yourselves!"

Rowaine leads the way, carrying a sunrod. Enok and Troll follow but Emily stays behind, out of sight. The three splash through the oil towards the barricade.

"Up on the barricade! Identify yourselves!" the unseen voice again challenges. The language sounds like heavily accented dwarven.

Rowaine climbs up the pile of refuse, accompanied by the tinkling of many small bells. "My name is Rowaine Kharag, of the Kharag monastery. These are my companions, Enok and Troll. We wish you no harm, we are here only to … fix something that is not working."

"Is that all of you?"

Rowaine thinks briefly. "There is one more. Emily, please join us."

Left with no other plausible option, Emily shrugs and joins the others. There are hushes murmurings from the shadowy corridor.

"Leave your weapons on the barricade and come forward - slowly!"

The group disarm and approach. Troll retains his walking stick and is not challenged for doing so. Their light reveals at least two small armoured humanoids in the corridor. Rowaine attempts to Detect Evil as she closes. One figure bears a faint, acrid aura of evil.

The creatures appear deformed, as if assembled from mismatched surplus parts. They train their shortbows on the group with steady, if uneven arms.

"Where have you come from?" barks the lead figure once the group has approached.

"From Elondel," Rowaine responds, "the tower on the surface above. We have come from there to investigate why a system failed, and to correct it if we are able. It's rather important."

"You came by the spiral passage?"

"Yes… We had a rather unfortunate incident with a family of cats along the way. I would guess that all this," Rowaine gestures behind her, "protects you against them?"

"And others… What happened to the … cats?" The figure stumbles over the word.

"We were forced to kill them."

The guards' tightening grip on their weapons and intensified attention indicate that this news has forced them to reappraise these intruders.

Rowaine continues. "This … system, that lies somewhere down here, do you know of it?"

"You would have to speak to the <->," the lead figure states, the last word being unintelligible.

"I'm sorry, the what?" asks Rowaine.

"The <->!" the figure says again

"Can you take us to this person?"

The figure looks at the group suspiciously and removes a coil of rope from his belt.

"I will not be bound," says Enok in a level voice.

"Be bound, or turn back," the figure says with equal finality.

Rowaine pulls her medallion into sight. "I give you my Word as a Paladin of Moradin that we harbour no ill intent towards you or your people. We come here peacefully and wish to speak further with this… person… But we will do it as free men."

The leader eyes the wooden medallion hanging from Rowaine's neck.

"You speak true? You follow the All-Father?"

"I speak true."

The creature weighs the words. "Very well, paladin of Moradin. Follow."

One of the five guards is left to watch the oil-filled corridor. With two guards in front and two behind, the group are escorted into the corridor.

"Does our light bother you?" Rowaine asks. "We can put one out if you wish."

"Yes, that would be appreciated."

Enok deactivates his sunrod. Ten minutes later the party enter a large chamber that bears an occupied stone throne near the far wall. The lead guard motions for the others to remain while he moves to speak with the seated figure. There is hushed conversation and raised eyes. Shortly thereafter the guard returns.

"King Inler will speak with you now."

The party introduce themselves, and learn that the guard's name is Drel. They reissue their request, speaking of the threat of the arachtria above.

"We are not concerned with the affairs of the surface," King Inler says dismissively.

Rowaine mentions that the arachtria will not stop at the surface. Troll talks of doing "the right thing". The king is convinced.

"You will want to speak with Sayed," the king says. "Drel, please fetch him."

Sayed's position defies translation, but is best described as Chief Smith / Creator. While waiting for Sayed to arrive, King Inler mentions that machinery is one of the sources of their innovation.

Sayed appears and when the party speak to him of a "delivery system", he expresses recognition. After a nonverbal exchange with his king, he offers to take the party to see it. He and the four guards escort the party down more passageways…

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