21:00 – 23:20 – The two vampires and undead sorceress leave the rookery accompanied by two of the ju-jus, and begin to pick their way through the sewers. Their plan is to find someone for Razniir to feed on, and then to try and find someone worthy of a sacrifice to Jantherak, in order to curry some favour with the truculent necromancer.
23:21 – 23:30 – Torchlight glimmers off the fungus slimed walls, and the undead withdraw into the shadows as they hear human voices echoing from ahead. They wait to see who is coming, keeping as still and quiet as they can (though Razniir struggles with his hunger; twitching and growling to himself), and after a few more moments, the humans come into view. It appears to be a band of Irinite guards, apparently searching for a lost comrade.
Unable to resist, the group ambush them, gaining surprise. However, what they took to be an easy battle almost sees Emmiven slain, after one of the guards – a gunner with a musket and a deadly aim – shoots him in his heart, knocking him down and impairing his ability to regenerate. Fortunately for the warlord, the Ju-Ju's reach the troublesome mortal, and he eventually flees, only to be torn apart by the undead.
23:31 – 01:40 (12/6/1472) – The group leave the sewers and emerge into a thunderstorm, the sounds of battle from the northeast swallowed by its voice. Seren and Emmiven discuss their options, and decide to see if they can make contact with the vampires at the “Kicked Dog”; the slum pub where they got into a huge fight two months ago to the day (in this worlds' calendar). As they move northwards, the sheer scale of the fungal bridge linking this world with its own begins to settle in, and they realise it must be at least two miles across, and miles high. It is lit from below by fearsome fires, which belch great black clouds into the stormy night, though it also shines with its own putrid, greenish light; a rotting glow that most of the city now emanates. It is, they realise, a composite of millions of smaller ropey rhizomorphs of pallid fungal tissue, riddled with bracket like shelves and massive domed clusters of weird, otherworldly toadstools. As they watch, they see a reinforcing mass of reaching strands slide like worms down the main bridge, further adding to its bulk.
The pair realise that the fungus must have landed directly onto the High Hills district, and has spilled (or more likely grown) down into the northern Plaza District. Chances are it has also crushed a lot of the Northwood district too, and for a moment Seren finds herself thinking of Fren, and feels – momentarily – a pang of sadness for the dazed, lost artificer. They also realise that the bank where they deposited their money is almost certainly under the thing somewhere, and that for now, their wealth is lost to them.
The roughs are even more overgrown with the otherworldly rot than they were before, many buildings simply collapsing under its weight, or being completely consumed by it. Nothing, not even vermin, move in the ghastly, glowing streets, the grimy air thick with smoke, spores and dust.
“Irin is dying.” Muses Seren.
“Fuck Irin.” Comes the warlord's harsh response, “Let's just get the hell out of here, and find somewhere less doomed. Forget the inn. Forget the other cold ones, we don't need them.”
“So where would we go, oh great master?” Snarls Razniir (Razniir has clearly demonstrated utter hatred for his creator, and it seems that Emmiven delights in the fact that he hates him, but cannot harm him).
Emmiven shrugs. “The southern gate would be a ball ache to try and get through, and the walls there are heavily guarded. We could head north, see how well guarded that is?”
The group agree on the plan.
01:41 – 07:40 – The group stumble through the corpse of Irin, marvelling in horrified wonder at the massive mycological intrusion that has pierced the sky and smashed the guts of the ancient city. They pass within a mile or so of the battlefront at its base, and from a hill covered in empty and fungus riddled homes, watch as rows of Dundorin Thundersong and Unified Order Hellchanter Cannons unleash an apocalypse at the fungal trunk – apparently with little lasting effect, the fungus simply regrowing almost at once. They see massed troop formations charging; swords drawn, guns blazing, magic screaming overhead, into serried ranks of malformed fungous horrors, whilst in the distance, elephantine fungal brutes lumber towards the tiny soldiers, lashing out with sticky strands that draw the screaming men and women into a horrible, rotting death.
They see all this, and their minds are truly made up.
“We're getting out of here.”
The group make their way through the dark streets, until they come to the northwestern most districts. Here they begin to encounter large groups of soldiers, as well as hastily erected field hospitals (mostly overseen by the clergy of Oerdaine'Maelandra). At one point they spy a familiar face – though Gorthias appears much changed; even more grim and dour than before. They consider speaking to him, but decide to let sleeping dogs lie and instead, wishing to avoid any kind of contact, find a storm drain, rip the heavy cover open, and slide into the dripping dark.
These drains are clearly of dundorin construction; beautifully crafted from solid stone, and ornamented with stylized grimacing dundorin visages worked in fine-grained granite – holders for torches, though they are empty at present. Storm water roars through them in a white torrent, and all save Emmiven are heartened to see good honest vermin – rats and cockroaches – swarming in its depths. There are still signs of fungal infestation in this place – cobweb like patches of luminous mycelium, discoloured stonework where spores are starting to take root – but it is mild compared to the places deeper within the city.
Following the flow of the water, which the undead assume must be heading out towards the walls, they make good progress. A short while after entering the tunnels, the group spy misty light up ahead, and realise that it is a drain in the cities northern wall; 10' across and barred with steel. At first they are baffled as to why there are no guards watching over such an obvious weakness in the walls defences. However, as they get nearer, they see that the bars are wrought from Dunthane, and that the drain exits the walls some 30' above the ground.
Peering through the bars, the group can see the northern Argent Wood. It too is sickly with rusts and mildews, its summer greens replaced by autumnal oranges and browns, which, given it is mostly evergreen, is a seriously bad thing. More than a few gigantic alien mushrooms have sprouted there, and the soil is grey with oily mycelial strands. As they saw at the southern side of the city, there are people camped there – refugees hoping to find sanctuary with the ancient cities walls – though these seem more animate and less sickly. There are also a lot fewer of them, and the group assume that this may mean fewer guards watching the walls.
Emmiven spies that one of them is a merchant, and that they have a fine armoured wagon pulled by strong looking horses. He gives a sharp-toothed grin, and with a whisper begins to try and bend the Dunthane, his waxen flesh shifting as his supernatural strength flows through him. Razniir moves to help adding his own might, and Seren, towering above the pair, also joins in.
A mortal would have struggled to even dent the dundorin steel, but the three undead, their strength no longer tied to muscles that can rip and cause pain, or to weak, living systems, manage, after a minute or two, to cause one of the bars to bend a little. Keeping up the incredible pressure, they work the weakness until, with a deep groan, the bar bends aside, creating a gap wide enough for even the massive drakven to slide through.
“So then,” Asks Razniir, “does anyone have a rope?”