Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

In Our Dry Cellar, Part 5

Moonday, Harvester 17, 552 CY (50 AN)

Bezaldooz, Peren and Valna, and Torinn are all awakened by knocks on their doors, as Bosabrieln awakens each in turn, telling them to meet in his room in ten minutes.

One by one they arrive, and when all have gathered, Bosabrieln explains his encounter with Vianibrar’s messenger the night before, and that the group has been gifted a bag containing the Sands of Time. Should they need to rest during their assault on the Peacocks’ base, this should grant them the time necessary to do so.

Bosabrieln also comments on a spell he has been researching and believes he is ready to attempt — called Veil, it is a complex illusion allowing several people to appear as others, including specific individuals they have previously met. Bosabrieln plans for the Shields of the Sorrowfell to masquerade as Scarlet Jax and her boys, and infiltrate the Peacock base in the ruined district. They will only appear as Jax and her gang for a limited time, but it will hopefully give them extra time and resources to penetrate the stronghold’s defenses and find Darstina Tallcrippler.

The group agrees to this plan.

Eating a breakfast of rations, the group disembarks and starts walking toward the ruined district. Just outside the ruins, Bosabrieln casts his spell and the group enters the district.

As they walk over a footbridge, they see an armored man note their entry and dart down an alley. A few moments later, a heavily-armed, six-man force emerges from a side street and approaches them. As the group does not seem hostile, the Shields stop and Bosabrieln (masquerading as Scarlet Jax) gives greeting. Peren and Torinn recognize the heavily-armored leader as Dragomir Negrescu, making this group Negrescu’s Nagas. Dragomir expresses surprise at seeing “Scarlet Jax,” and asks if she is in the area to see Lord Book. “She” indicates that it is secret business, so Dragomir lets her go on her way, although he asks if she has seen the Shields of the Sorrowfell anywhere. “She” replies that she has not, and then the two groups go about their business.

After some walking, the group finds the building that has been previously described to them. The Shields enter without issue, and finding the building to be an old tenement of some sort, they decide that their goal lies downstairs. Once they enter the basement, they find that a tunnel leads deeper underground.

After a little walking, they come to a door and decide to enter. The stench of chemicals mostly overpowers the faint stench of decay as they enter. As they walk into the chamber, they find that it is evidently some manner of laboratory. A pale man with dark hair works behind a table of alchemical reagents. He wears a white coat, a turban, and thick leather gloves. Instead of feet, his legs end in raven’s talons. In addition to the chemicals, a cadaver lies upon the table in front of him. A few other corpses are strewn about, all apparently preserved. Another large, humanoid monstrosity comprising stitched together pieces of humanoids lies on a nearby table.

Peren recognizes the pale man as a revenant, a person who was reanimated upon death by the Raven Queen. He is also, presumably, Lord Book.

Strangely, Bezaldooz quietly checks the area for magical resonances, trying to get a sense of Lord Book, and notices one — a brain in a jar, sitting amidst a pile of junk. It is silently watching the party, apparently monitoring them telepathically. Bezaldooz cannot get a sense of whether or not it has noticed their ruse, but as no reaction has occurred, he does not say anything.

Bosabrieln, speaking as Scarlet Jax, speaks briefly to Lord Book, who seems surprised to see them. However, he is more interested in his experiments, and tells them to go about their business deeper in the complex. The group takes their leave, continuing through the far door.

The group wanders through the tunnels beneath Scandshar, walking through sections of old aqueducts, shattered temples, and even caverns. They walk for nearly an hour, during which time Bosabrieln’s Veil lapses. Eventually, they come to a closed door. They pause, listen, and hearing nothing on the other side, throw it open.

Inside appears to be some manner of ceremony including six drow and a cloaked human. One of the drow and the human are quietly chanting. The other five drow are staring at the door, evidently having heard the Shields’ approach.

Peren rushes into the room to engage the drow cultists, attempting to catch them off guard. Just as the seven combatants threaten to overwhelm him, Torinn runs into the room and draws their attention while Valna rushes behind him, muttering prayers. Bosabrieln and Bezaldooz cast spells behind them. Quickly, four of the drow fall to the ground, slain by spell and blade. The remaining two drow and the human fight to the bitter end, but one-by-one, they fall.

The Shields rest briefly after the battle, taking the opportunity to search the fallen. Finding nothing of value, they attempt to ascertain the correct path forward. After studying the old temple complex, Peren decides on a direction, and the group moves forward.

The Shields wander past the old sewers and tombs, walking through twisty little cavern passages for nearly another hour before hearing the echoing sounds of voices. At first it sounds like conversation, but as the voices become clear, it is obvious that they are speaking many languages and engaged in many different emotional states. It is pure gibberish, or the rantings of the insane. As they approach and the Shields’ sunrod illuminates the vast chamber, they see a protean, amorphous form to their left, lurking near the cave wall. Its many eyes and many mouths mark it as what they know to be a gibbering mouther.

The group gets only a moment to register the mouther, as well as the cliff on the chamber’s right, before the ground ahead of the Shields churns and collapses inward, revealing two forms clambering out. Both are large, quadrupedal forms with vaguely reptilian outlines. They look like drakes or wingless dragons, but only in the most generous sense of the term — they are horribly mutated, covered in sores and tumors, and generally appear to be dragons as depicted by a diseased mind.

The two creatures attack, blocking further passage, but before the gibbering mouther can enter the fray, Bezaldooz conjures a wall of fire that blocks the entrance and cuts off the dragon-things’ escape. When Peren and Torinn step forward to engage them, they can move neither forward nor backward, and are forced into the flames.

Despite the beasts’ power, and their constant screams of psychic anguish piercing like daggers in the Shields’ minds, coupled with the constant jabbering of the gibbering mouther on the other side of the wall, the dragon-things do not last terribly long. Both Bezaldooz and Bosabrieln keep them off guard with constant magical assaults, while Valna attacks them with holy magic and Peren and Torinn fight them with sword and axe. Furthermore, they are also caught within the maddening jabbering of the gibbering mouther, further unbalancing them.

Finally, both creatures are slain. The Shields regroup before Bezaldooz drops the wall. Valna buys them another moment by temporarily banishing the creature to another dimension, but when it returns, the group assaults it with renewed vigor.

The gibbering mouther is quickly slain.

With the beasts slain, the Shields pause to rest and plan their next move.