20:30 – After a final discussion about their objectives, the group are shown by Alvorde to the lowest level of his dwelling. Here they find that the mage has had one of his toilets torn out, opening a way into the sewers beneath.
The party are surprised to see that the tunnels below are wide, well maintained and that a pale, greenish light fills the steamy air. The stink rising up, whilst unpleasant, is nothing compared to the throat grabbing stench they were expecting, and Alvorde explains that the sewers were custom built as the stronghold city grew, and that their upper reaches are sweet smelling, brightly illuminated, clean and well maintained. Powerful (detractors would say wastefully used) magics render all waste entering these tunnels inert, perfume it lightly, and direct it towards deeper, darker tunnels – the old sewers – a tangled maze of rotting corridors, natural shafts and bruised dimensional bounds, where it gathers, sits and flows, before emerging from the mountains and pouring into open air cisterns along the northern edge of the Laertraine ruins.
Alvorde warns the party that they will be considered “pollution” if they encounter any of the sanitation constructs or spells, and that they could be in deep trouble if these entities decide to “clean” them!
20:30 – 22:00: The group move carefully through the tangled labyrinth of tunnels, avoiding patrols of disinfecting living spells, and hulking sanitation constructs, each marvelling at how unlike a sewer the area is. Llewellyn comments on the lack of rats, cockroaches or other vermin, and everyone agrees that most streets are not as pleasant and clean as these waste pipes. They do however quickly learn to avoid the numerous pipes that lead from toilets and drains in the city above, for the stuff that spurts and plops from them is raw and fresh from its source, and is definitely neither pleasantly perfumed or clean.
22:01 – 22:30 - The group make excellent time, helped by Ardwaine's innate sense for subterranean navigation, and soon they find themselves in a broad corridor, along which open numerous wide alcoves. Within each alcove a large (roughly 15' diameter) drain yawns, the purified waters pouring into them in a constant flow, forming great whirlpools. Around the 2' deep lip of these spaces shimmer bright runes, each releasing a constant stream of shimmering energy into the waters passing by them. The sounds coming from beneath the drains leave no doubt that the water is falling a long way, into a much larger space, and the group realise that these lead into the older sewers.
A thorough search of the area (interrupted only by the group having to hide from a curious glowing ball of disinfecting mists, surrounded by a swarm of tiny, effulgent motes, which dart about searing anything unpleasant in the waters into smoke and steam) reveals that there are three well concealed doors in the alcove. Two face each other in the bevelled corners, and are as tall as the alcove itself. The third is a small circular door built into he ceiling directly above the gurgling middle of the drain.
Llewellyn also warns the group that the runes on the collar of the drain are emitting a constant field of destructive energy – possibly a final disinfection of the sewage, or a way to ensure that nothing unpleasant climbs up from the darkness below. The rogue feels that he should be able to safely defuse the runes, but warns that they may be linked to the doors, and whatever lurks beyond them. He is also pretty sure that if he makes a mistake whilst tinkering with the runes, he could become exposed to the destructive power they contain – not a good thing to happen!
Ormid moves to ensure that should worse come to worse, the doors in the corners of the alcove stay shut. He casts an Arcane Lock on each, the air frosting with the gathered magic as he shapes and binds it to the portals, and with the Dundorin, Warforged and Ferrous acting as lookouts, Llewellyn, assisted by the artificer sets to work on the runes.
22:30 – 22:27 – With the water continually pushing past them, the current trying to drag them into the gurgling throat of the drain, disarming the deadly glyphs is no mean feat. However, with Ormid giving pointers, the rogue uses his incredible understanding of warding magics and ensorcelled traps to safely disable each of the glyphs, and soon, the way down is clear.
22:28 – 22:33 – Llewellyn volunteers to be lowered into the hole, and a length of rope is tied around his waist. With the warm, sweetly smelling waters pouring over him, the Vyrleen is lowered into the drain and into the darkness beyond.
He struggles a little, as the falling waters spin him dizzyingly, and blast into his nose and mouth with persistent, drowning force. However, as he sinks deeper and deeper, the air growing colder around him, he manages to gain some control of himself, and is able to concentrate on taking in as much of his new surroundings as possible.
Llewellyn hits churning, stinking water about forty feet below the collar of the drain, a scummy froth of yellowish hue being beaten from it by the constantly pounding waters. He cannot see very far, for there is no natural light in this place, though he can make out the dim light partially illuminating the falls of water from the other drains above; murky pillars of tenebrous light in the distance. He can also feel a persistent current tugging at him, trying to pull him under the surface of the water – insistent, but not overwhelming.
He tugs the rope four times to let the group know how far the drop is, and draws his mace, a vague fear filling him as he realises how potentially exposed he is in this dark hell of pounding water and sucking currents.
22:34 – 22:40 – Ardwaine spikes the flagstones in the upper sewer and ties a rope to it with a slip knot, allowing the rest of the party join Llewellyn (Ferrous has to cling to the Veteran as he expertly descends the rope, the water spinning them as it spits and boils off his flaming axes head).
22:41 – 23:15 – The whole party tie themselves together, so that anyone becoming tired from having to tread water can be pulled free of the water by those still afloat, and begin to cautiously explore their surroundings.
It is a slow, and at times terrifying experience, for there is little ambient light, and much of the exploration has to be done beneath the surface of water. The group slowly learn that the cistern chamber they are in is made of rotting stone, and that there are no exits above the level of the water. They find three possible ways out; a large hole directly beneath the fall of water they just climbed through, a tunnel to the north that opens some 15' beneath the surface, and another tunnel to the south (the direction they need to be heading in) that yawns in the chamber wall 10' below the surface of the water.
Exhausted from treading water, and starting to feel the bite of heat loss, the group realise that any extended swim under water is likely to result in someone, if not everyone, drowning. However, having absolutely no choice, they opt to go for the apparently most direct route – the southern tunnel.
23:16 – 23:17 – Each member of the party takes a deep breath, trying not to dwell too long on what could go wrong, before they dive under the water and claw their way down towards the lightless mouth of the submerged tunnel.
Tied together, they are half dragged along the serpentine, drowned corridor by the warforged, who seems to be the only one not traumatised by the whole thing. Blind and horribly aware of the increasing burning in their lungs as their precious air is depleted, the adventurers find that the tunnel remains straight for a short distance before it plunges into a terrifying drop. There is neither the time or option to discuss what to do, and with the Veteran leading the way, the group fight their way downwards, the weight of the cold, black waters increasing with each foot; threatening to force the air from their lungs and to leave them trapped and twitching as they drown.
Terror almost as absolute as that radiated by the Lich fills each hero as the tunnel continues to descend for what seems like an eternity. Eventually it levels out, though it twists to the side (hard to tell which way, though Ardwaine later confirms that it turned to the west), and remains completely filled with the water. Increasingly short of oxygen, the adventurers claw forwards. Golden stars and purple clouds begin to gather at the edge of their vision, and the urge to take a breath becomes almost overpowering, despite each member of the group knowing that to do so would be instant death.
Eventually, after what seems like an eternity, the Veteran begins to swim upwards, and through the water can be seen a dim, yellowish light. Moments later and the group are coughing and gasping at the surface; sucking in huge lungfuls of foetid air, clinging to the face of a low wall of decayed stone that rises from one side of a water-filled channel – part, it seems, of the tunnel through which they have been swimming.
23:18 – 23:20 – The group clamber out of the water, and discover that the wall is actually the side of a raised pathway. On the other side of the path is another water-filled channel, and at the east end of the path is something none of the group were expecting to see in this place – a well maintained, well made reinforced wooden door. Large crystals of lucent yellow have been placed at regular intervals along the middle of the path, casting a jaundiced glow across the area.
23:21 – 23:05 – With the only other routes from this area being the two water-filled channels, the group decide to check out the door. Llewellyn carefully approaches it, and tries to look through the keyhole of the solid looking lock. He can see nothing. He casts his eyes over the door, looking for any obvious traps, and again, sees nothing.
23:06 – Llewellyn produces his picks, and sets about trying to gently open the high quality lock. Unfortunately, as soon as he tries to force the tumblers, he feels a tiny prick in the end of his finger. A moment later, he screams as his heart seems to squeeze painfully in his chest, and a horrible numbness spreads along his arm. A single drop of blood glistens on the rogues pained digit, and all can see that it has been discoloured by whatever venom coats the tiny needle that now juts from the lock.
23:07 – 23:08 – Llewellyn is paralysed, and suffers ongoing agony as he begins to suffocate. Luckily for him, Ormid leaps to his side and begins to work some first aid on him, squeezing the wounded area and making several small cuts in his veins, draining some of the venom. Llewellyn begins to breathe again...the danger is passed.
23:10 – After spending a few moments gathering his wits and allowing the numbness to leave his arm, the Vyrleen returns to the lock. He scornfully removes the needle, and after a few moments has the lock open.
23:11 – 23:40 – Beyond the door is a small chamber, sparsely decorated with clearly salvaged furniture, and illuminated by several large shards of luminescent crystal. A small neatly maintained garden of waxy looking mushrooms occupies one corner, next to a large bowl filled with pale shrimps. A well maintained fire pit stands opposite the door, the smoke from it being sucked into a small pipe through which can be heard distant flowing water.
Another door leads from this area, and as the group enter the room, a cracked voice comes from behind it, and a furious / terrified man bursts in, magic crawling over his hands.
He is in his early forties, and wears threadbare, mouldy clothes. His skin has the unhealrhy pallor of someone who has not seen sunlight for far too long, and his skin is covered in sores and lesions. His eyes are bright and hold a fragile intelligence, and the group quickly realise that he is actually terrified, despite his aggressive stance.
At first the man is caught somewhere between surprise, anger and fear of the group – though he is constantly distracted by the two huge, mangy rats that can be seen in the back room – his guard “dogs” apparently. However, he begins to calm down once the group manage to convince him that they are not from the Unified Order, and soon he is chatting animatedly with them.
This is Evran Fieid, once a member of the Unified Order, now thought dead. He lives down here as he fell foul of the Order's convoluted laws and was found guilty of casting magics he was no longer authorised to use. Chased into the sewers by Order agents, he managed to temporarily disable the ward runes around a drain, and fled into the darkness here. Thought to be dead, no one came to check on him. He has been here for three years, and is understandably paranoid. However, he has an excellent knowledge of the local area, knows how to get out of the lower sewers, and he offers to help the party if they will help him to get away from the area.
The group huddle and after some heated discussion agree that taking Evran along would be a good idea – though they all worry that he may be a little insane, and might prove unstable and therefore risky in the heat of battle. Evran is overjoyed about finally being able to escape the rotting claustrophobia of the lower sewers, and rushes to gather his possessions – a snapped but functional wand, and a rusted dagger. On returning he begins to describe the way ahead...
“Firstly, we go into the water and head to the east. That tunnel soon widens into a deeper channel, though we need to be careful as there are some wicked currents there. Then we need to move through the Rot Folks gardens, and make our way to the lower cisterns.”
The group ask who the “Rot Folk” are.
“Nasty feckers that's who. Sentient fungi with a bad attitude. Myconids.”
23:41 – 23:45 - Evran euthanises his guard rodents, and follows the party back out into the raised path. Before they slip into the waters of the east flowing channel he carefully locks his door, and places the key under a stone next to it.
“Just in case.” he grins.