Chapter 08: Stealing Secrets

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Session Number: 79
Date: Monday 27 December 2010
Venue: Denz'
PCs & Players:

Feren Rog9 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Tomen Rgr9 (Ash) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz9 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

While Rowaine and Arrian are busy finding out the history of Aquilla from Gershwin, Feren and Tomen make a discovery and have a small adventure of their own.

Princess Ethalyn orders Tomen to wait with Feren in a local establishment while she continues to canvas the locals for information. Taking his orders from the queen seriously Tomen informs Feren that he has some magic available to him that allows him to change his appearance. He leaves Feren, ducks into a local empty alley and comes out appearing as a nondescript elven male. He proceeds to follow Princess Ethalyn across the market, making note that she is going well out of the area she promised to stay in.

Surprise surprise

Eventually she stops at a rather upmarket establishment and sits at a table with a smallish man wearing, and completely covered by, a large billowing hooded cloak. The figure takes a large leather bound book from a satchel on the table and both he and the princess start to read and appear to discuss the contents of the book.

Tomen looks around the market and spies Shalélu a short distance away, she appears to be shopping but he notices she continues to glance at the couple from time to time, almost haphazardly keeping an eye on them.

Eventually Tomen's curiosity gets the better of him and he decides to approach the elf. He ducks into an alley and behind some crates changes his appearance back to his normal self. He then confronts Shalélu who quickly pulls him behind a local pot seller. He questions her as to whether she noticed the princess. Shalélu replies that Troll and Princess Ethalyn have been secretly meeting for the last couple of days, he borrows books from the Library and they both pour over the contents, apparently history books of Aquilla.

Shalélu tells Tomen that the books are in an ancient and nearly dead language that both Troll and the princess understand, and that they have been collaborating on deciphering the contents.

Eventually Tomen gets bored of watching paint dry and decides to head back to where he left Feren. He tells Feren of his discovery and waits while Feren contemplates the implications, which are vast.

Feren's plan is simple, Tomen is to disguise himself and spy on Troll and Ethalyn while he himself takes Shalélu away to question her. The first part of the plan goes off without a hitch, Tomen alters his appearance magically and manages to find a table seat right next to the couple. He overhears them talking of boats and their locations, but not much else. Feren on the other hand has to adjust his plan, he catches Shalélu's attention and summons her into an alley, but she refuses to follow, intent on continuing her vigil. He must therefore approach her and make his inquiries in the market. Shalélu admits only what she has so far revealled to Tomen, being slightly more wary of Feren given his relationship with Troll.

An hour later Feren becomes bored of watching the couple, he catches Tomen's attention and indicates he will leave, Tomen nods understanding. Feren heads into the crowd to shop, but only a few minutes later Ethalyn and Troll rise and head into the crowd, taking Shalélu with them. Tomen, still disguised, follows the trio and on route to another destination he manages to spy Feren in the crowd, running up to his companion he pulls him towards the disappearing group, who eventually split and make their ways separately, Ethalyn one way and Troll and Shalélu another. Almost instantly and independently Feren and Tomen realise the princess is heading for the establishment where she left them, while Troll and Shalélu are heading for the library.

Tomen, still disguised as a nondescript male elf, sprints past the princess and seats himself, panting and out of breath, at a table, quickly removing his disguise. She arrives and stands in front of him looking quite angry and impatient.

Tomen notes her attitude. "Why so upset?"

"Why do you think?" she replies coldly. "Shalélu told me."

Tomen looks at her resolutely and whispers, "I am sorry, my Princess, but my orders are to protect you, and I assume that is also against yourself."

Ethalyn looks him squarely in the eye and appears satisfied. "Good," she says, then spins and walks away, looking over her shoulder she continues. "Well come on then." Tomen jumps to his feet and follows.

Meanwhile Feren has tailed Troll and Shalélu to the library, Troll enters an unmarked side door and exits again a few minutes later sans satchel, and both he and Shalélu appear to stop and wait for something.

Eventually Ethalyn arrives, looking around she spies Feren in the crowd and she immediately stomps up to her brother and stands, hands on hips and obviously angry, in front of him.

He looks at her taken aback, "What's the matter sister?"

"What do you think?" she replies.

"Shalélu told you?" he says.

"Yes," admits Ethalyn.

He too looks at her resolutely. "I was only worried, and trying to protect you."

She appears to consider his words, then a small grin cracks her demeanour. "Good," she says, then once again spins, this time from her brother and the others, and steps away quickly. She stops to look over her shoulder a few feet away as the group scrambles to get its bearings. "Well come on then, we don't have all day you know." That sly grin appears again as she turns and marches into the crowd, the party hears distinctly the words "Hurry up!" and "Move!" as startled shoppers jump quickly our of her way. Feren is immediately reminded of his mother and wonders at the maturity that turned his innocent little sister from healer of the wild to small diplomatic whirlwind in such a short time.

The small group catches up to Ethalyn and she leads them dockside, to a small warehousing area in the stern of the platform. She indicates a small warehouse on the outskirts of the city. "Troll and I have been reading about the history of this place. Besides the seven main ships, there appears to have also been dozens of smaller craft: rescue craft, landing craft, transporters, all sorts."

She drags the party in tow as she circles the building. "Most left some time ago, probably as a result of the other ships leaving." She stops and turns to Feren and Tomen. "If this is Aquilla, the lead ship, then the others probably left, and would have taken some of the smaller craft with them, probably a majority." Turning back to the small building she continues her walk. "Some of the boats were lost, as would be expected. Four are still known about and are in the possession of the harbourmaster, used for landings and rescues mainly, but still under the control of the captain. The rest…" She stops and turns to Feren and Tomen again. "… the rest were put into storage centuries ago, stored somewhere under the city, their locations lost in time. Somewhere under our feet there are boats, and we have discovered that one of them is probably under this building." She indicates the small warehouse behind her. Turning back to the building, the princess crosses her arms and stands, for all intents and purposes, as if she owns all she surveys. "Well you two, make yourselves useful for once, get us in there," she says dramatically, that sly grin once again making an appearance.

Tomen and Feren, still reeling from the barrage of new information, approach Ethalyn. Feren starts "Umm, why do you want to get in there?"

Slightly taken aback at having the wind taken from her sails, Ethalyn looks grumpily at her brother "There's a boat under there, silly," she exclaims.

"And why do we want a boat?" he continues slowly.

She turns and looks up at him "Because, dear brother, they were apparently powered by the same source as the ships, only smaller." Understanding begins to dawn on his face. "Imagine the kudos you'd get bringing one of those back to your precious Paladin," she says under her breath, but loudly enough for Feren to hear.

He nods dumbly, then snaps out of his thoughts and looks at the building. "We need to get in there."

Ethalyn steps aside as Feren approaches the building, then nods at her bodyguard. "You, help him." Tomen jumps into action.

At last, less talk and more action.

Warehouse Level 1 Warehouse Level 2

The building is a 30' x 60' two-storey rectangle, large double doors at one end and down one side, small service doors at the other end and on the other side. Windows break up one end, and continue half-way down one side. Tomen investigates the windows and discovers an office of some sort in one corner of the building, the windows are latched from the inside and would require some work to break into. Tomen decides to try the double doors at the far end, away from traffic, and picks the lock on the bolt while the others keep watch. The lock easily succumbs to his skill, and the entire party enter the building.

The building is lined with pallets piled with crates and barrels down one side and at one end, there is a wide path down the centre that would allow access to all pallets, and would allow pallets to be added or removed without disturbing other storage. The second storey is a platform nearly the entire length of the building. A winch and pulley system on a runner attached to the roof allows pallets to be winched up to the second storey and run into place. A rather complicated and expensive affair. Simple stairs lead up to the second story to allow foot traffic, and the office spied through the windows is found in the far corner, containing a desk and chair and a few filing cabinets only.

Tomen proceeds to search the warehouse area for trapdoors. Feren does the same with the office, while Troll and Ethalyn, shadowed by Shalélu, inspect the contents of the pallets. The warehouse appears to contain mostly preserved food, the top story also containing a wine storage area.

Neither Tomen nor Feren uncover any access below, swapping areas Feren continues his failure to find a trapdoor however Tomen uncovers what appears to be a door in the floor under a mat under the desk in the office. No handles, hinges or locks are apparent, and neither is there a way to open the door. Troll casts a spell that manages to lift one corner of the door, the others are then able to get purchase on the edge and uncover a way down. The door appears to be a simple hatch, no hinges or handles, simply dropped into a recess in the floor it would be difficult to find and even harder to open from the outside.

Below is a small rectangular shaft with a ladder. Eight feet down the shaft opens into a hallway with running and rippling water below. The ladder continues into the water. The air is tainted with a salty sea smell.

Tomen ventures down the ladder. The corridor continues as far as can be seen in either direction. Feren drops a sunrod into the water to find its depth, however the rod floats rather than sinks and as it bobs in the water it hits the ladder and catches on it, remaining in one position. Feren steps down from the ladder and finds the corridor is eight feet tall, with two feet of water covering the bottom. He steps aside and the remainder of the party venture down the ladder.

After a short discussion between Feren and Tomen, the pair lead the party upstream and find a door at 100'. The bottom of he door has disintegrated at the water level and this is where the water is entering the corridor.

Opening the door, Tomen notices a semi-circular grate about a foot above the water level on the far side of a 40' diameter circular room. The grate takes up the entire half circle on the opposite wall, with rubbish piled high on it. Two doors exit the circular room, accessible from the grated path, one against the left wall at 9 o'clock, one against the far right wall between 1 and 2 o'clock. Tomin's spidey senses tingle as he sees small rat-like creatures dart from the grate and splash into the water.

As Tomen steps into the room Feren also enters, taking a step to the left to allow access to the others. Tomen raises his sunrod to peer at the walls, and once again notices movement. This time small rat-like creatures dart from the water, jumping up at his legs but missing in their enthusiasm. Tomen quickly wards them off with his sunrod, draws his longsword and slashes at the water, his cut hits randomly well and he sees a streak of red blood where his sword tip raked.

Feren, noticing the commotion behind him, quickly jumps to Tomen's side and he too slashes at the water with his rapier, once again a random cut leaving a trail of blood to be washed down the corridor.

Another rat-like object launches itself through the water, teeth catching on Tomen's boots but failing to take hold. Tomen steps back one step and slashes with his sword. He feels resistance as he hits something, and a translucent and lifeless foot long half-slug, half-fish bobs to the surface.

"I think maybe downstream," says Tomen, as he backs from welling blood. Feren inspects the now lifeless room and agrees.

The group head back towards the ladder, slip around it and travel another 100 feet, this time coming to an iron-bound and much sturdier door. The water is sloshing up against the door and then somehow disappearing. A quick investigation finds a grate in the floor at the door's edge where the water runs away. Listening to the door Feren hears random banging behind it, like metal on metal.

Feren attempts to pull the door open. It hardly budges, the water obviously keeping it closed. Tomen joins him, and together they are able to open the held fast portal. As the door creeps open water starts to rush through the gap, and as the water's hold lessens, the door swings open much easier. Freed from having to travel down the grate, the water spills quickly into the next room, taking both Tomen and Feren with it. Their legs quickly ripped from below them, they scramble for purchase on the floor, but no hold is granted and they come to a sprawling heap at the bottom of a 20' slanted wooded floor, their backs to the room, their heads towards the door they came through.

Looking up, Feren and Tomen both see Shalélu and Ethalyn scrambling to keep hold of Troll, who has managed to wedge himself haphazardly between the open door and the opposite wall. Thankful, they slowly rise and turn around.

They have travelled down a 30 degree sloped wooden floor. The walls angle out from the door they entered from to a 60' wide end. Looking up they see a similar shaped ceiling, the entire section resembling a pyramid on its side. In front of them a 20' deep 60' wide wooden floor, this one level, ends in rippling water. The walls continue another 20' into the water and end in a far wall, once again 60' wide.

Bouncing lightly on the water and sideways to them is a small wooden boat, some 40' long and 15' wide. A cabin protrudes from its deck with dark glass windows, and a mast protrudes from the centre of the cabin.

Sitting, standing and laying on the boat in various poses as if interrupted from work are six humanoids with long alligator-like snouts, webbed feet and hands and gills upon their necks. Each holds a large metal hammer in a pose suggesting they were in the middle of pounding on various parts of the boat.

Feren straightens, looks at them and says diplomatically "Uh, hi there."

One of the surprised six looks around and growls something guttural at his companions, all of whom immediately leap athletically from the boat to charge, howling, at the two intruders.

Somewhat taken aback by the reaction, Feren and Tomen lose the element of surprise as the six creatures attack. Each in their turn jump at the two, swinging wildly, but their skill at hitting boats doesn't seem to transfer to hitting elves as only one scores a strike against Tomen. Feren makes his signature move and tumbles past the assailants to stab one viciously in the back, causing it to wrack with pain. Tomen, not to be outdone, swings his sword not once but twice at the nearest enemy, both cuts connecting cleanly to disembowel the poor creature.

Instantly the creatures turn and regroup against Feren, once again swinging wildly, but their seemingly random aim is true as two hit him solidly in the chest, causing bruises and fractures. He returns fire, twice slicing into the nearest enemy, who sinks gurgling to the ground. Tomen turns to his next opponent, this time wielding a longsword in one hand, a short in the other. Both weapons sing through the air at blinding speed connecting once, twice, thrice, the last one severing head from body.

By now the creatures are three down and three left. Seeming not to notice, another takes a swing at Feren, connecting soundly, while a second takes a swing at Tomen, connecting lightly as the elf darts almost out of range. He returns the favour, once again twin blades arcing through the air to hammer his assailant with deadly slices, the last one cutting a morbid path down one shoulder almost cleaving the creature in two. Feren stabs at a fourth, his blade sinking into its stomach, but it spits blood at him and continues to advance.

By now Troll, Shalélu and Ethalyn have righted themselves and are heading down the ramp. Shalélu prepares an arrow but worries about hitting her friends. Troll stands abruptly in front of the princess and points his finger menacingly at the two remaining enemies. "Only two left, maybe we should keep them alive," he thinks to himself.

Before he can speak, Tomen steps quickly forwards and slices the life from one. The last turns to flee, only to be cut down in its retreat by Feren. Leaving nothing but blood and carnage, the two fighters nod to each other, grins on their faces. Yea!

That's what I'm talking about.

The party inspect the boat. As they step aboard they notice the glass is tinted but the insides are vaguely visible. A visual inspection shows seats and a glass bottom. Tomen, spying through the windows, notices scorch marks. He informs the party that the inside of the vessel appears to have sustained a blast of some kind. Everyone turns to look at Troll, who indignantly looks back. "What? WHAT?? I haven't even been inside yet!" They turn back. His words are true, it could not be him.

A further inspection of the boat shows double doors at the rear of the cabin allowing entry. A pull on the handles and the doors don't budge. Another search of the interior from the windows shows a metal bar across the inside of the cabin doors. There's no way they are opening without some interference. Tomen hammers on one of the glass windows with the butt of his sword, but the ring is not true. Scratching at it with his sword's point, he notes that it behaves more like metal than glass. Troll notices his inspection. "There are spells that will make metal or stone invisible, so they appear to be windows but are actually much stronger." He bends down and runs a hand over the window. "This looks like something like that," he says.

Feren asks about Troll's water breathing ability, Troll informs him he is able to breath underwater for extended periods, and taking a hint he quietly strips off some equipment and slips into the water. On his return he informs the party that the bottom of the boat is indeed made of glass, or at least a transparent substance, and he can clearly see the inside of the boat from below. He also informs the party that there is ambient light filtering from the side closes to the edge of Aquilla, since they are dockside sunlight lights the sea. One last snippet is the landscape of the underside of Aquilla. Troll describes it like a city, but upside down. Buildings and towers sink from the platform into the murky depths, many a few stories, some reach depths he has trouble seeing in the dark. Most are dark, some have lights in their window-like openings. "If you take a city at night, turn it upside down and put it in the water, that's what you have under Aquilla," he repeats. "It's awesome."

Feren contemplates the boat in front of them. Obviously this can't be the boat they are after. There must be another one somewhere, otherwise he'd have to return empty handed. "Time to check the doors at the other end," he announces as he troops up the walkway towards the corridor. Troll and Ethalyn look nervously at the boat, then at each other, then shrug and follow the scout, taking Tomen and Shalélu in tow.

By the time the entire party is back in the flooded circular room, Feren is trying the doors. Both open outwards, but neither will budge. He turns to the rest of the group. "Locked, I would say. Any ideas? Troll, do you have a spell we could use?"

Troll thinks, then replies. "I could learn one, for tomorrow. It should open any non-magical portal."

"Something to consider then," replies Feren, as he surveys the room again.

Thus ends the stealing and the secrets.

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