The group move towards the stairs.
11:23 – 11:26 – At the top of the stairs is an open doorway, and beyond that, a vast chamber. Of unusual shape and vast size, it is clearly the product of several sewer chambers being carefully knocked into one. Numerous corridors lead from the main area, and at the far end, some 120' or so away, is a large fireplace, built from a modified sewer pipe. Faint light filters in from the high ceiling through distant grates, casting shadowy rays onto the individuals that await the party.
Along the sides of the chamber lie numerous bedrolls, blankets and piles of cloth. along the middle of the chamber stand several very large, very long, heavy wood trestle tables, two of which – one directly in front of the door the group will enter through, the other 65' away from it – have been flipped over, so that they create a stomach high barrier, perfect for hiding behind.
Emmiven, Shnecke, Varracuda and Bob are the first to enter the chamber, whilst Jaeger, Seren and Grigori hang back a little. In the chamber beyond, the group can see a number of figures. Furthest are two crossbowmen, who use the furthest overturned table as cover. In front of them, but behind the last group of combatants is a kenku. It is dressed in midnight blue robes, edged in gold, and spins a curious chain of razor-edged, triangular blades in rapid, tight circles, cracking it back and forth like a whip. This creature whispers Bob is Crav'Awk, one of Corvus' lieutenants; a deadly, graceful foe.
Between Crav'Awk and the group stand three more foes. Two are kenku; each dressed in long black robes, and wielding chains similar to that held by the lieutenant, whilst the third is the source of the voice they heard on the stairs.
This can only be Meerzek the “Scar Mask”. He is an incredibly squat, stocky dundorin, dressed in heavy and well made scale armour. His blonde hair has been cropped short, and instead of a clan Gnorr, his beard is tightly wound into a bun beneath his chin, safely out of the way of grabbing hands. His eyes are frosty blue, and shine with confidence and strength, and seem all more intense for being set in a face almost devoid of any other normal features, thanks to the hideous scarring that mars it. Meerzek wields a sturdy broadsword, stamped with heraldic runes and has a bandoleer of throwing axes across his thick, barrel chest.
As soon as the warriors enter the chamber one of the kenku wraps its chain around its shoulders and produces a sling. Within a heartbeat it has fitted a stone, spun the sling up to speed, and sent it smashing into the barbarian's face with sickening speed. Crav'Awk spins across the chamber in the distance and suddenly unleashes something from beneath the folds of his cloak; a small, sharpened star of steel, a shuriken, which hisses through the air and crunches into Emmiven. The warlord however is fixed on Meerzek, and with a bellow he vaults over the table in front of him and charges towards him, slamming his hammer into the dundorin's face and smashing him to the ground, a wide space ripped in his armour's protective layers. A moment later, and Meerzek hops back to his feet and makes two deft attacks – both of which miss miserably. His first attack is a brutal slash at Emmiven's eyes, the second a driving blow that seeks the warlords femoral artery. However, so focused is he on this second attack that he missteps, and puts himself in a vulnerable position.
Varracuda leaps the downed table, and rushes one of the kenku closest to the group. His sword shimmers with heat and green fires surge along it as he swings. The kenku however is too fast, and leaps away from the blow, its own chain singing a deadly note as it flies – harmlessly – back. Jaeger shifts forwards, and stretches his hand out towards the distant figure of Crav'Awk. As he does, flickering shadows dart and pulse thickly along his arm, and the temperature drops by several degrees close to him. He then makes a sweeping gesture, and sends the shadows dancing towards the lieutenant in a tenebrous blur. The shadows hit him, and he gives a loud, bird-like scream-chitter as the dark energy scours his spirit and opens vulnerabilities within him that the assassin can use to visit even greater harm on him.
Crossbow quarrels whisper venomously from the far end of the chamber, crunching into the Ulnyrr and assassin, the latter bolt nicking a blood vessel, causing profuse bleeding, and Grigori moves around the table to try and get close enough to the warriors to pour healing into them...
...Only to feel something crunch powerfully into his leg and fix into the bone of his shin; a previously invisible bear-trap type snare. In agony, he tugs at his trapped limb, and nearly passes out as the metal fangs, powered by a powerful spring, dig deeper into the living bone of his leg. Gurgling, Grigori focuses on his inner magic and casts an astral seal upon Meerzek, before he tries to stop himself blacking out from pain.
Bob, using the table before him as cover, fires a bolt at Meerzek, who, despite being a little unfocused, manages to throw his blade in the way, and to send the bolt spanging off across the chamber. Seren strides forth from the stairs, magic crackling over her claws in a multi-coloured mist. She growls an incantation, her voice now two distinct timbres; the deep growl of the huge reptile she is becoming, and the spidery, feminine tone of the human woman she was. A frozen bolt of energy launches from her and strikes the kenku attacking Varracuda, freezing feathers and sending it squawking back.
Shnecke suddenly finds his legs wrapped by the bladed chain of the kenku next to him, before the bird thing tugs it hard, forcing the blades into the meat of his limbs and sending him staggering some 15' back towards the stairs like a hairy, bellowing spinning top. Crav'Awk suddenly darts forwards with almost impossible speed, striking out at Jaeger (who is seriously wounded, knocked off his feet, dazed and forced to step into the shadow world briefly, teleporting to relative safety behind the downed table by the stairs, an invisibility spell hiding him from non-magical scrutiny), before dancing over towards Emmiven, who he also slashes with his chain - knocking him to the floor and smacking his head with enough force to daze him - before once more leaping away.
Meerzek clambers to his feet, and spits out a mouthful of blood and teeth. Fury blazes in his eyes, and he stabs down twice at the prone warlord, his blade punching through his armour and into the flesh beneath. The first blow is accompanied by a thick burst of smoking blood. The second blow plunges Emmiven into darkness...
Surrounded by a brief nimbus of power, Varracuda leaps at Meerzek, and strikes him with his sword. As the blade bites, elemental sigils flicker around the dundorin, and form a complex rune, which sinks into him, weakening his corporeal form against fire. He then utters an incantation that draws of fire, and the air before him and around both Crav'Awk and Meerzek explodes into a surging cyclone of green and orange flame – though both rookery lieutenants manage, somehow, to avoid being even singed by its fury.
A barbed bolt crunches deeply into Varracuda, spearing an artery and sending a thick spume of blood pumping out, whist a furious Crav'Awk uses his bladed chain to rip huge holes in his armour, hugely reducing its effectiveness. Jaeger, still prone and bleeding heavily crawls along the floor invisibly, a trail of gore streaking in his wake. In his pain filled haze he forgets that the floor may bear a trap at the opposite end of the downed table to Grigori – at least until he hears the mechanism snap a millimetre in front of his face, the steel teeth missing him by a gnat's whisker. With a whispered thanks to Leorn, the assassin fires a bolt at Crav'Awk, scoring a telling, bleeding wound, before applying pressure to his own spurting wound, and stopping its flow.
Grigori curses as his fingers, wet and slippery with blood, fumble to grip the powerful metal jaws of the trap holding his leg. Schnecke comes over to help, but also fails to get a good grip before he rushes back to slam Meerzek in the face with his moaning dundorin axe. However, the blow is wide, and Meerzek expertly dodges it, parrying the heavy swing with ease.
A metallic whip crack and Jaeger clenches, expecting to feel the bite of a spiked chain at any moment. However, the blow, flicked at him by one of the kenku goes wide, and the monster catches itself with the chain, shrieking as it stumbles away in a bid to save its eyes. More quarrels whip across the chamber, one thumping harmlessly from the barbarian's chest, the other getting lodged in a table.
A metallic taste sweeps across the tongues of all in the battle as sorcerous power is gathered and unleashed. Seren summons a blazing field of radiant power, which sears both Meerzek and Crav'Awk and dazzles them enough that they are unable to properly defend themselves. Seren pours additional power into the spell, and the blinding zone of rainbow light remains. She then spits lightning, forking it around her allies, but managing to hit the dundorin hard, blasting a smoking hole in his arm.
Seren then unleashes her newest spell, and with crackling words of power summons a flashing wyrm of lightning, which arcs above her and darts towards the two dazzled lieutenants – missing both!
For a good while the battle is a tit for tat exchange. Emmiven is dragged back to consciousness by Grigori, only to be sent back into the veil of unconsciousness by another savage blow, and most of the party find themselves seriously wounded. Indeed, for a while it looks like the party may have met their match, for although seriously wounded by a heavy blow to the head flung by the warlord before he is taken down once more, Meerzek seems to draw on internal reserves of strength and carries on like some indomitable war machine, striking with relentless, terrible savagery, and apart from Crav'Awk who is bleeding heavily, most of the other rookery agents are only slightly, or are not even remotely wounded.
Seren is horribly hurt as Crav'Awk applies a black, sticky fluid to his spiked chain and strikes her. The physical wounds from the blow are severe, but the venom is worse still; surging through the sorceress with vicious force, triggering haemorrhaging and stealing her focus and strength. She responds by hurtling a barrage of magic back at him; a dazzling orb of seething energy, an unstable fractal of sorcerous light and a snarling bolt of chaotic energy, the last spell entering the lieutenant's beak and blowing his brains out of the back of his fragile skull in an eruption of steam, feathers and fluids.
Bob rushes over to Grigori and helps with the trap. At first the embedded teeth stay firm, and the priest can only scream as the pain spears through his bones like a lightning bolt. However, with further efforts the two of them manage to yank the teeth free, and Grigori is able to pull his leg out. Freed at last, his head light from the adrenaline, the priest briefly passes out. He then stumbles forth, and ignoring a furious biting throb of his wounds, he calls upon his mightiest healing spells and unleashes them in a burst of fiery, argent light.
This outpouring of healing is the first of two major turning points in the battle, for suddenly everyone is almost fully restored, their wounds (in many cases, near fatal) being closed. The second turning point is when Schnecke, furious and hungry to inflict pain, lands a trio of solid blow against Meerzek; the first with his moaning axe – the barbarian willing it to scream into the wounds, ripping them wider – the second with his fiery axe, the flames surging along the eldritch channels sewn into the dundorin's spirit by the genasai, the last scoring a devastating blow against him, almost tearing the life from him. This savage attack severely wounds the dundorin, and he is barely able to defend himself. His death comes about a moment later as Emmiven, like some vengeful spirit, rises next to him and shatters his head with his hammer, sending brains and gore squirting across the chamber in a flat pressure wave.
By this time both of the kenku has been slain, one incinerated by one of Seren's bolts, the other slain in the swirling melee at the edge of Schnecke's axe.
Every eye turns to the two crossbowmen at the far end of the chamber, and they, realising that continuing to fight would be suicide, give up.
11:27 – 13:00 - Unbeknownst to the party at this point, word has spread through the guild that they are under attack, and a great many of its members have fled. Those that remain soon learn from the crossbowmen, that the invaders are not Gutter Kings, but are powerful adventurers who are happy, if they are willing, to let them continue their activities, but under their, rather than Corvus' leadership.
Being pragmatic, the remaining rookery members agree.
The party now have a guild of rogues, trapsmiths, and warriors under their control.