17:18 – 17:40 – The pair move through the stinking, fungus infested tunnels of the sewers. They are disturbed by the lack of vermin present, and the omnipresent alien growths. After some time they enter the vast chamber where they and their former allies previously fought Groth'Ergulg – though the chamber is now choked by large mats of bright yellow mould, and huge, deformed fungi.
17:41 – 17:47 – As the pair move around the edge of the filth and fungus choked sediment pond, heading towards the tunnel out, a leprous tentacle erupts from below it, and slashes a deep wound into the sorceress. It is a Groth'Ergulg, though one that has been infested by the alien fungus; its internal organs replaced by wheezing tumours of fungal flesh, its external flesh a corky mass of chitinous slime.
The undead both turn their full wrath upon the horror, and manage to take it down quickly. However, before it is slain, it wounds both of them seriously – though Emmiven is able to steal much of the thing's life force, using it to heal his injuries. It also inadvertently disturbs the yellow mould, which unleashes a deadly cloud of toxic spores, not only searing the adventurer's, but also blasting and weakening itself, hastening its demise.
17:48 – 18:50 – Arrive at the tunnels that lead to the bridge into the Rookery headquarters. They are disturbed to see that the fungus has invaded this deeply underground, and are even more disturbed to hear the sounds of battle – piping whistles, squishy roars and battle cries uttered in tradespeak – echoing from the direction of the Rookery's back door.
18:51 – 19:00 – As they move towards the bridge chamber, they spot two wretched, fungus infested humanoids ahead. One was clearly once a well built man – now bloated and lousy with tumorous fungi and swishing tendrils, its “fingers” elongated chitinous spines well designed to shred flesh and armour like paper. The other is a Gutter King – caught halfway between human and rat form, its ribcage burst open, a festoon of pallid, quivering mushrooms and smoking clubs nestling where its guts should be.
Both of the fungus monsters turn to face the pair, and without any preamble move to attack. They are put down with little trouble, though Emmiven is given a nasty wound by the first beast, the flesh puckering as if infected almost at once. Another thing – a shell of a person, staggering without apparent sentience, its body an uncoordinated mess of animate fungi and badly decayed bones – also joins the fray, but is immediately hacked down by the warlord's blade.
With the immediate foes destroyed, Seren and Emmiven move forwards, seeing at once that the trick bridge has been overgrown with greasy masses of fungi. Beyond they can see the fortified door into the guild halls is wide open, and that a furious battle is raging in the corridors beyond.
Emmiven, blessed with vampiric grace and unholy dexterity, almost dances across the fungal bridge. Seren is more cautious, for her feet slip alarmingly on the oily fungus, and the drop beyond is as deadly as it was the first time she was here. To ensure her safety she works a potent spell after a few steps, and summons an unnatural wind to carry her to the far side.
Closer now, the pair can see that about twelve more of the fungal horrors are trying to force their way into the guild halls. Stopping them are four desperate Rookery. Three lurk behind a well made barricade firing crossbows into the throng, whilst the fourth – who the pair recognise as Eldric, the enforcer they breached Corvus' treasure vault with – stands up front, taking the brunt of the monster's attacks, chopping down more than a couple with swift, jabbing thrusts of his short sword. He is clearly weakening however, his attacks and parries slowing noticeably with each second, more than a little of his blood spattering the ground around him.
Several of the monsters turn to face Emmiven who is charging down the corridor towards them, but these are evaporated by a blast of lightning spat by the drakven. Emmiven piles into another chopping it down, and receives a vicious bite from a shambling wererat who springs at him from the darkness of a side chamber. At sight of their new leaders, the rogues give a cheer, and renew their efforts to repel the shambling horrors, though poor Eldric, bleeding now from several more deep wounds, and barely able to lift his arms, is forced to stagger back away from the front line.
With the bolts of the rogues finding their marks, the sorceress unleashing sudden destructive bursts of chaotic magic and Emmiven's unholy strength and speed, the remaining infected are quickly dealt with, their twitching, oozing forms forming a slick path along the corridor.
19:01 – 20:00 – Eldric and the other Rookery warmly welcome the pair (Emmiven has shifted his form to appear like his mortal self, and Seren is careful to wear her hood up – her full transformation into a true drakven enough to unnerve the men of the guild, let alone her clearly undead nature), and ask where the others are. Emmiven tells them that they are “unlikely to return”.
Some time is spent giving Seren and Emmiven an update as to what has gone on whilst they have been away. They are told that the Gutter Kings were massing for an orchestrated assault on the Rookery, and that in order to try and stop this they were getting ready to make a pre-emptive strike – though this never happened thanks to the Sundering occurring. They are told that fully one third of the guild has been confirmed as dead in the last few weeks – most succumbing to one of the vile infections that seem to have come with the invading fungi. Amongst these is Vuldir, the dundorin artificer. Another third of the guild are currently missing in action. This includes Bob, and the human artificer Tranker. The rest of the guild are either in the halls, or seeking supplies in the city above.
The two undead also tell the rogues of their own travels, and apart from their treachery in the belly of the titan, leave no details out. The rogues are awestruck at their story, and reiterate again and again how glad they are to have them back.
With regards to the small matter of who opened the heavily enchanted door to the guild halls, the rogues surmise that one of their number, almost certainly under the commands of a burgeoning fungal infestation, may have done so – though none know who it could be.
“Likely one of those we slew out there.” Is Eldric's opinion.
Emmiven tells the rogues to gather all the men, as he wishes to organise for the guild to move to safer quarters – perhaps a house that can be easily fortified and held by their small force in the city above. There are some mixed responses to this, with Eldric voicing his concerns that the plan is “short sighted”. However, the pair manage to convince enough of those gathered (which now includes an overjoyed McCloose), that there is little room for argument. They also ask to be shown where the guild's supply of poisons is, putting it to the rogues that they have exhausted their own supplies during their adventures, and wish to restock.
20:01 – 20:35 – Emmiven declares to the gathered rogues that as they will be leaving the halls on the 'morrow, they should spend their last night here in celebration – in honour of their new venture, for luck, and to remember those that are no longer with them. This proves quite a tough sell, for many of the rogues know that the beer they have is their only guaranteed untainted supply of fluid, and are reluctant to waste it, whilst many more are unhappy about fogging their minds with alcohol in such dangerous times. However, with a little help from the vampire's dominating mind, and Seren's silver tongue, they are talked round to the idea, and soon the drinks – now tainted with several vials of sleeping poison, slipped stealthily in by Emmiven whilst Seren put forth her arguments for the celebration – are flowing.
20:36 – 20:50 – The first men begin to show signs of poisoning, and panic quickly envelops the room as they fear that the fungal taint has got into the beer. However, several quickly recognise their symptoms for what they are, and with horror, they realise who must have spiked their drinks. Eldric tries to attack Emmiven, who is no longer hiding his true form, but is too badly inebriated to be a threat. As he drops, vomiting to the floor, his last vision is of Emmiven, eyes blazing like burning blood, eye-teeth extended, standing over him whispering “You shall soon join me my friend, and see the world as I do.”
21:10 – 02:30 (10/6/1472 – Unnaturally humid and warm weather over Irin, sweeping in through planar breach above it).
The last of the rogues, passes out. Several have almost choked on vomit, and at least one had a huge fit before succumbing. All live for now.
“I ssshalll neeed your body Emmmiveeeenn...” Whispers Jantherak, “And you, sorcccceresss....I shall need your help with the ritual.”
Emmiven is disgusted and thrilled at once by the thought of allowing the shadow of Jantherak to possess him. Seren is happy to help the dread necromancer, though she wonders if she will still be sane once the ritual – intended to turn the rogues into undead servants, and in the case of Eldric and the trapsmith Razniir Thade, into vampires – is completed.
The unconscious rogues are aligned as needed by the ritual, and whilst Seren prepares the hall for the ritual (daubing mind-rotting sigils of blasphemous purpose and dire magic on the walls and floor in blood and faeces), Emmiven hunts down and feeds upon the half dozen rogues chosen to stand guard whilst the rest partied.
With the chamber readied, the vampire allows the essence of the vial to flow into him, his mind reeling in revolted horror at the diabolical strength and cold hate that this brings. Seren notes that the blood red glow of the warlord's eyes is replaced with a cold, blue light, and that although he speaks with Emmiven's voice (his breath fogging with air with smoky shadows), and parrots his mannerisms, it is clearly another vile and terrible entity that now controls his form.
With everything in place, the pair (trio?) begin the Ritual of Animation.
It is horrific beyond the sorceresses' ability to accept, and it is only due to her strict mental discipline that she is not driven insane by it. The nightmarish power that is summoned to the hall rots the very stones, infusing the entire area with crawling, filthy magic. With dawning horror Seren realises two things; that she is no longer able to voluntarily stop her part in the terrible spell she is helping to cast, and that all this power is being harnessed and shaped by a mere echo of Jantherak's true power.
In the city above, the tortured dimensions fabric howls in response to the terrible might being brought to bear deep underground, and eerie lights and terrifying pressures sweep across the ruined blocks of the Roughs, freezing the blood and weakening the sanity of all unlucky enough to be around.
In the chamber, suffocating waves of shadow roar like a tornado around the edges of the ritual circle, and the stones shine with a brittle negative radiance, resonating with terrible, shrieking power. The unconscious rogues (save the two saved for vampirism, who are shielded with glowing red spheres of protection) are ravaged by the dark spiritual energies; their souls rotting within their withering corpses, their flesh mummifying and hardening, their hair becoming thin like cobwebs. Their minds, broken by the corruption pouring into their dying selves, become warped and feral, their trapped souls being bound at the same time to their magically altered bodies; married to them in the vile union of undeath. Eyes, long lost to accelerated decay have left black sockets, within which cold points of steady orange light begin to shine.
The sickening ritual nears its conclusion, the air in the chamber filthy with necrotic power, and with a word, the two spell casters bid their new servants to rise – fourteen grey zombies, imbued with a cunning intelligence, coiled-spring dexterity and unholy resilience.
02:31 – 03:01 – With the first ritual complete, the stunned drakven and possessed warlord spend a little time resting. Seren is sick and dizzy with weariness, and is amazed to still be sane given the entirely corrupting and loathsome power she has helped to channel. With a small amount of quickly suppressed regret, she realises she has crossed a boundary that can never be returned from; that she is truly a “vile” creature in every sense of the word now.
Jatherak assures her, apparently aware of her thoughts, that the power she will gain will soon make the “sacrifices” she has made more than worth it.
03:10 – 03:40 – The ritual to vampirise Eldric and Razniir is surprisingly quick in comparison to the animating ritual, and only needs Emmiven/Jantherak's input. Each is drained of blood and life force unto the point of death, and then force fed Emmiven's corrupted blood.
Both men fit ferociously as the undead blood works its terrible magic on their mortal forms. For Eldric it is too much, and instead of attaining true vampiric power, he awakens almost at once as a debased and near mindless thing, consumed by his unholy hunger and the need to kill. Realising this, Emmiven/Jantherak grabs him by the throat with terrible speed and strength, and with a jerk, snaps his neck, ending him.
Razniir however “survives” the process.
Seren watches in numb horror, her mind edged by tittering and gibbering voices, as his flesh grows pale, and his rounded, chubby features become sculpted and feral. She watches as a sullen red glow begins to emanate from behind the veined lids of his closed eyes, and as the tips of his eye teeth begin to jut out a little over his lower lip.
She then watches as the warlord, with a sigh collapses. As he goes, Jantherak's voice hisses into her mind with something like panic “Be warned. Unfriendly eyes have seen the power we have brought to bear here! We must be away, and sooooooooon.....”
At that time, she is too shaken and tired to worry about his warnings.
03:41 – 19:00 – (11/6/1472) – Emmiven and Razniir sleep for over 24-hours. During this time Seren works with the newly created Ju-Ju's, gaining some understanding of their limits and power. All in all she is impressed, though their stink, deathly appearance and unnatural presence would never allow them to pass as living men.
When Razniir awakens, he is horrified at what he has become – though his obedience is quickly assured when Jantherak sends a lance of psychic horror into his mind. Ravenous with the hunger for blood, though sickened at the thought of eating it, the trapsmith is both relived and revolted when told that he shall be taken to feed soon. Before that is done however, Emmiven uses the vial to sense the location of the next one...
...And is clumsy in his efforts, his probing thoughts being detected by the filthy thing that possesses it; a Dwaer'Syth Lich, almost certainly residing within ancient Mrith'Arnth; the dark city of the Dwaer, located almost 1000 miles to the north.