Session #23: The Shadow Bridges

Having surmised that Shady Sam the human thief had utilized the shadow bridges to escape the quarantine zone, Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Fighter, Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of Moriarty, Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Acindor the Human Fighter and Thril Wolfsbane the Elf Fighter headed back to the QUARANTINED HOUSE to follow his escape.

The goblin couple were long gone by the time they returned.

The Quarantine House

There seemed to be no obvious way in until they decided to go around the back of the building. There, they discovered a partly open second-story window was unimpeded by quarantine ribbons.

Acindor opted to go first. After seeing no obvious signs of traps or Ambush, he entered. He immediately noted the scorch marks on the left side of the room. Across from this evidence of an apparent fireball blast, a terrified gnome was pinned to the top corner of the room, cocooned in the ice that flash froze his heart. His eyes still faintly glowed from the magical infection the adventurers had been warned about.

It was all but evident that whomever had killed the gnome was still at large, a fact confirmed when the others joined Acindor and Davroar Hollysword discovered magical footprints leading away from the scene of the crime. They further noted a relatively well-worn path through the dust from the window to the door leading downstairs.

Proceeding cautiously down the stairs, they found an abandoned gambling den in a state of disarray. A dwarf was frozen in place, encased in ice as the gnome upstairs had been. Tables were overturned, evidencing an obvious scuffle. The magical footprints ignored this preserved scene of conflict and headed out another door.

They were about to follow when they heard a moan.

Behind the bar, they found a pixie half-hidden in an ale stein. The could see that one of her wings was broken. When Acindor introduced himself and offered to assist her, she looked up to him with wide terror-filled, glowing eyes and asked, “You’re not one of them, are you?”

After assuring her that they intended her no harm, she told them that one of the Infected had come Into the establishment a few days ago and, after accusing some of the other patrons of cheating at cards, began freezing people in retaliation. Everyone fled the chaos, but she was injured, having broken her wing and leg in the fracas. She’d lain there for three days, hoping help would arrive. She introduced herself as Florin.

After a brief conversation, she noted that the access to the SEWERS from the establishment’s basement was known to her, as were the SHADOW BRIDGES. She told them that the sewers and tunnels were used to smuggle in ale and other goods during FARRAGO’s Prohibition days and that there was a secret bar in the basement that used those subterranean passages. She balked at joining them as a guide but offered up the advice that if the MARKET BRIDGE was barred by the city garrison at the first substation that a tunnel behind a manhole ladder on the way would offer them a way to access the rest of the SEWER.

After they healed her wounds, she warned that the Infected’s eyes glowed, which was why she’d cast an illusion to make her eyes appear to do so, too. The Infected were generally loyal to one another. She lamented that her dwarf friend Reuben would need a healer to cure him of his magically frozen state if she hoped to get the money he owed her.

“Well, he is frozen,” Davroar suggested. “You could just…”

“So is his wallet,” Florin huffed.

Bidding them adieu ado, she took her leave. They watched her fly up the stairs and out the window they’d entered.

Continuing on their track of the magical footprints, the adventurers, descended another flight of stair. The tracks led to a storage room and then vanished behind a wall. A revolving section of wall led them to a dusty, abandoned speakeasy. Judging from the dust and cobwebs, it hadn’t been used for more than occasional storage for many years. The footprints led to the other end of the room, where a hole had been dug into the sewer walls and a door set in place. One of the walls featured newer graffiti, the dwarven runes for G and R bound together. It’s meaning was unknown to either of the dwarves in the party.

Acindor noted a painting that was obviously hung askew, judging from the dust pattern on the wall behind it. After a brief investigation, he found a nondescript candleholder. It was inscribed with instructions to whistle once for light and twice for dark. Whistling to test the item, he was surprised to find the speakeasy transformed! Darkness was replaced by cheery light from candles and torches, The dust and cobwebs vanished, as well as the storage crates, trash and other debris. A pleasant smell replaced the pervading sewage smell that lingered near the doorway they’d spotted. They could even hear music coming from a strange magical device nearby which seemed to be of at least partially Erythaean origin. A ghostly bartender appeared, wiping a glass mug more out of habit than necessity.

The bartender raised an eyebrow as he accosted them. “You know Prohibition’s over, right?”

Acindor nodded. “I know, but it’s been a long trip. We were hopping for a sip of ale.”

After assuring the barkeep that they weren’t members of the town guard, he agreed to sell them ale, noting that they needed a ferryman to get through the CATACOMBS. At the bottom of their glasses, they each found a badge with an alligator-shaped maze inscribed on it. Detaching the badges, they thanked the bartender, who told them that the badges also acted as limited compasses and would indicate the direction they needed to go, but only once per day. He assured them that the Ferryman would find them once they reached the CATACOMBS.

In gratitude for a further tip from Davroar, he provided them with a schematic of the SEWERS.

The Sewers

Having been warned by the ghostly bartender of the magical speakeasy not to take the door the magical footsteps they’d been following had taken, lest they annoy the giant zombie alligator the speakeasy kept to get rid of unwanted visitors, the adventurers entered the SEWERS of Farrago by a door that appeared at the sound of a large mechanism grinding into brief action.

The stench of the river of refuse beneath the city was indescribable. Stone walkways on either side of the brackish waters allowed them to avoid touching a ten foot wide sewage channel. Halfway down the length of the passage, a narrow stone bridge stood to allow access to a manhole ladder on the other side.

They intended to head toward the bridge where’d they’d seen the protesters and pass under it to the Market sector of the city; however, as the pixie had warned they might, the bridge garrison had the intelligence to block that passage with an iron portcullis.

Proceeding back to a bridge to the manhole she’d directed the north to utilize, they crossed one by one. As Weddumlir attempted to cross, a strange cross between a cat and a spider scurried out from beneath and crossed his path.

The startled cat-spider coughed up webbing at him, but the dwarf fell flat on his chest to avoid the sticky substance. As it scurried back under the bridge, Nathan Garney utilized Wedd as a stepping stone to get across. Wedd too got to his feet and hastened to join his friends, but the creature did nothing further.

They found a tunnel behind the ladder that accessed the manhole. The tunnel was dug by thieves and was a dirty, less sturdy affair than the sewer tunnels. They crawled through until they found an opening in a smaller stone sewer tunnel. This tunnel didn’t have convenient walkways, being, more or less, a large pipe. Davroar cast a water walk spell to prevent them from having to wade through the swill.

In due course, they made their way to a larger tunnel with walkways. They found the adjoining tunnel which aligned with OXEBNANE LANE above but not before their presence was detected by a sewer shark. The maddened shark gave chase, forcing them to hurry along to stay ahead of it.

They were not happy to discover that the sewer channels descended into a full-blown slide. Sure-footed elves and dwarves made their way down the incline without incident, but Acindor lost his footing and tumbled down the sewer slide like a somersaulting circus bear. Worse still, he landed at the bottom prone, just as the sewer shark leaped over the top of the slide.

Even with the aid of the water walk spell to keep him above the surface, Acindor was unable to roll out of the way in time to avoid being – bitten by the shark. Fortunately, he was able to prevent being dragged beneath the waters in its unforgiving jaws.

The others yanked him to his feet and cast about for options. Realizing that the shark was probably unable to turn around until it reached the next junction, they scaled a ladder and attempted to flee through a nearby manhole, only to find it welded shut. Davroar was considering opening it with his boom stick when the others suggested a side tunnel they’d spotted at the bottom of the slide.

The tunnel led to the city’s CATACOMBS. They hid out of reach of the sewer shark and tended Acindor’s wounds, which ended up including the removal of several leeches that had attached themselves during his tumble down the slide.

After a brief exploration, they came to a chamber lined with skulls and bones, lit by flames from brass oil pans. A monument in the center of the room, inscribed with three stylized dragon heads (a symbol of Oxenbane), identified this chamber as the OSSUARY OF THE MIDDLEBOROUGH INNOCENTS. The monument noted how a flood had caused the MIDDLEBOROUGH INNOCENTS, a pauper’s graveyard above them, to overflow its walls, spilling rotting corpses and fetid earth into the streets surrounding it. Shortly after the MIDDLEBOROUGH DISASTER, the CATACOMBS were dug out and the bones of the departed were moved there as a more permanent solution.

There was also a smaller shrine in the corner of the room, covered with old blood and bits of rotting flesh. It was inscribed with a sheaf of wheat, symbolizing the dread Harvest of Thanatar, god of the undead. Realizing he could finally off-load his accursed doll, Nathan Garney placed the Sally Shettebrek at the shrine.

To his surprise, he received a vision of a female face, her face painted into the pattern of a skull. She wore a headdress which sported antlers, as if she were disguised as a wendigo. Her garb was accented with other symbols of the dead, including a necklace of fingers. The necromancer looked directly at him, giving him the undeniable impression that she was very much aware of his presence there. “Who are you?” she demanded, her voice only audible to him.

“I am Nathan Garney, priest of Ridley,” he thought in reply.

Her eyes widened, more in anger than surprise. “You’re the one who meddled in our operations at the CHAMBER OF CORRUPTION in SMUGGLER SPEAK.”

“I was among them, yes,” he thought humbly.

“You were among them? Well, perhaps you’ve heard of me. I am Braucia Graeme, called the Kiss of Death, the Left Hand of Thanatar, god of the undead… And I know who all of you are. Weddumlir Aleshield, celebrated in ballads for more than his share of the blame. Davroar Hollysword, cleric of the mad god Moriarty, whose Janusian Blessing destroyed the blessed womb where the Corrupted Jelly made its home in SMUGGLER SPEAK. Meldor Ironforge, the dwarves wizard whose infernal blade profaned the CHAMBER. Acindor, marked for death by B.O.B. himself for his betrayal in the CHAMBER at SMUGGLER SPEAK. Thril Wolfsbane, who stole back his husk when the CHAMBER was desecrated. And you, dear Nathan, who tricked dear Magda Tod and made an eternal enemy of her Cult of Nobody. I know you all and I have seen into your souls,” Braucia Graeme said.

“You are weak and you will not stop us,” the necromancer continued. ”And do you want to know why you will not stop us? Because Chaos is on our side. Because Death is on our side. Because Fear is on our side. And Cthulhu will awaken.”

“But time is on our side,” Nathan replied.

“If you say so.” She laughed telepathically. “We are coming for you.”

As the unexpected interview ended, and before Nathan could fill his comrades in on the exchange, they were accosted by a familiar figure, whom they had first encountered in the TEMPLE OF WANJO’s ROOM OF EIGHT and later as a house mimic in the EVERWYLDS.

“Do you have your badges?” Killian Thanatar asked.

When they warily presented the badges they received from the speakeasy’s ghostly barkeep, he smiled. “I am the Ferryman.”