Murder most foul!

The party sail on from Khalij Aldhahab. Captain Reiss has heard that a week away is the island of Jazirat Almutasaliq Aleali and is keen to try and obtain a contract for transporting goods to keep the ship sailing. In Mutasaliq Eali, the port and seat of government, he hopes to find a cargo in need of a ship.

The island appears on the horizon, a great coned mountain dominates the island with a skirt of jungle spreading down to the sea. Mutasaliq Eali sits within the arms of a narrow bay. At the headland, a number of watchtowers guard against unwanted intrusion. At anchor in the bay, three medium-sized war galleys sit amongst the merchant ships. Soon the Ulmo’s Beard is at anchor and while he makes contacts Captain Reiss gives the crew shoreleave.

During the journey, Denig has spent the week in religious reflection and when on dry land feels that the presence of Cloch is strong enough to heal Dagaard’s shattered elbow. Restored, the dwarf sets off with the party to explore the city and purchase new weapons. Vanwa finds some new outfits and accessories, courtesy of Aerandir’s purse and both Dagaard and the half-elf order new weapons.

Medieval Fantasy Port
by LotharZhou

So it is that as the sun begins to set that the heroes are travelling back to the ship through the warehouse district, Aerandir with a new short bow, and Dagaard feeling more more dwarven with a war hammer hanging at his belt. They pass an old man whistling a jaunty tune who is then brutally attacked some yards beyond them by a grey cloaked man.

Immediately, the heroes give alarm and rush to aid the fallen man. The man in grey dashes into a nearby warehouse. The old man has taken a grievous wound and utters on final name, “Zahrat Alnajma”, while thrusting a passage into Aerandir’s hands. Denig pauses to commune with Cloch over what can be done for the old man. So leaving the package with him, Aerandir and the others set off in pursuit of the grey-cloaked man.

The enter the warehouse cautiously as they fear an ambush in time to see misfortune befall their quarry. Attempting to swing from a suspended gantry to the far wall of the grain silo in which makes up the interior of the warehouse, the gantry gives way plummeting him into the silo itself. Following up, the heroes are in time to see their quarry, unharmed by the fall, dash to the end of the silo and out through a hole in the wall. They quickly follow but pause at the passage because they have no source of light.

Meanwhile, Denig pleads for the man’s soul but finds Cloch unwilling to provide aid in healing the now dead man. Having delayed long enough, the Dunlending picks up the package and follows his companions, who he finds at the entrance to a dark passage.

Praying for light Denig is granted a beam of light into the darkness. The heroes see a long tunnel dug out of the packed earth by the harbour wall. They follow cautiously, which is fortunate as it gives them warning of a skeleton armed with sword and shield in a small cavern ahead. Dagaard rushes forward to engage as his companions surround the single foe. The battle is short lived as the skeleton is animated by hanging from a chain in the ceiling but the noise of the combat will have no doubt alerted anyone nearby to their presence.

Daniel ZromPRO
Fantasy Artist & Illustrator- danielzrom@hotmail.com

A short passage leads from the small cave to a crude wooden door and beyond a narrow room containing just a table and chair before a door to the whatever lies beyond. On the table, six crossbow quarrels are lined in order next to a broken crossbow and a brass hunting horn. The heroes waste more time in preparing themselves to open the door and removing the quarrels from being used by an opponent.

The door opens onto a room filled with mist that is lit by magical, violet lightning. Denig urges caution fearing a lightning strike similar to one he recently experienced when trying to take a ring from a treasure room. Praying for divine protection, Denig enters the mist. It soon clears to reveal two exits. At that moment, the man in grey strikes. A swift blow, stuns the stoneman as the killer flees into the mist and away from sight.

Working at a painfully slow rate, the heroes check first the door, which leads onto a treasure room dominated by a gold throne, which they leave; then the corridor which leads to a small room containing a table and a couple of chairs which are still flickering with small flames. Suspicious, they spend more time looking round the room but only spot a red gem on the table. Denig moves to have a closer look at the gem and is immediately engulfed in flames. He rapidly retreats.

By praying for a wall of water to sit over the gem, Denig is able to counteract the flames from the gem and the party move on. The room leads to another at the meeting of two passageways. A single door provides an alternative exit. The door has a brass plaque on it which they heroes do not read but instead search down the next corridor. Here they find a bunk room and a space used for weapons practice. They discover a few low value coins and a short sword with a hollow pommel but no sign of the killer.

Stumped by the whereabouts of the man in grey, the comrades examine the door. It is locked with no sign of a keyhole. The plaque has a four line couplet which is clearly a riddle so with these clues they reason the door is magically locked and that their quarry went this way. It takes them a few minutes to reason the answer but soon the door is open.

At that moment a glass ball rolls into the middle of the group and explodes. All are stunned and unable to act as the man in grey races past, through the door and up the stairs beyond.

Denig, blessed with the quickest recovery follows up the stairs and is in time to see the man in grey stepping off a two rope bridge across a short chasm. He throws a dagger which glances off the wall in front of Denig, who steps back into cover. The man in grey use the opportunity to cut the ropes of the bridge and flee up the corridor.

The rest of the party make their way up the stairs relying on the faint light of Denig’s “torch”. They assess the ten foot gap in the cave. It is rough and descends to water below. Although clearing the gap is achievable, there is little room to achieve a decent run up. Aerandir attempts to leap the chasm to reattach the rope. His use of acrobatic skills are of no aid as the short run up and low ceiling combine to ensure his jump comes up short. He desperately makes a grab for the far side but fails. Fortunately, the fall causes only light damage before he falls into the water below. Unfortunately, the water is full of cave stingers, jelly fish whose poison raises angry welts across the half-elf’s exposed skin. Climbing out, the wet sailor casts a quick prayer to Ulmo for relief from the stings and is miraculously healed.

Bridge jump
by mattforsyth

Soon his companions are able to join him on the other side of the chasm and they look down the corridor beyond. There they see the man in grey, who for some reason appears to be fiddling with the lock on a trunk. Seeing the heroes he abandons his task and launches himself at the party in a vain hope of using aggression over superior numbers. The battle is short and swift, the man in grey out numbered is soon felled by Dagaard (despite pulling his blow) who relishes in having a war hammer in hand again.

Having looted the body for his weapons, but finding no other clues, the heroes explore the end of the corridor. The chest they leave and explore the room to the right.

It appears to be a bedroom, perhaps for the leader of the rogues who clearly used this space as a hideout. A chest is unlocked and opened by Fulton, who avoids being poisoned by a hidden trap in the lid. They recover a magical scimitar (+10OB), and empty scroll tube and a small pouch of coins.

On the left hand side of the corridor is a locked door, which does not prove too tricky for Fulton to open. Inside a suit of plate armour remains of a stand in the middle of the room. Behind is a desk, a chainmail shirt in the corner and a redwood staff. Having checked for traps, Denig enters to examine the treasure. The suit of armour, battleaxe in hands, immediately attacks the Dunlending.

Heavily injured, Denig falls back into the bedroom where Aerandir, arrow knocked covers the doorway. Fulton and Dagaard strike at the magical armour as Aerandir’s arrow pings off its surface. The magical construct turns its attention on the dwarf whose blow had been the strongest. The battle axe sweeps out and makes contact with the dwarfs lower leg: shearing tendon and muscle. Again the Aerandir looses an arrow to little effect and Fulton’s cutlass strikes with a clang.

Now the animated armour turns towards Fulton, who falls back parrying with all his skill, (he hopes to lure the armour to the chasm behind him). The battle-axe smashes through the sailors defence ripping open his arm as blood flies. At the moment when all seems lost, Denig’s prayers are answered and a pit opens up beneath the armour and it falls out of harm’s way.

With Aerandir’s help, Denig is able, by the grace of Cloch, to heal the stricken Fulton who has now lapsed into unconsciousness from blood loss. Meanwhile, the steady hack, hack of the armour can be heard from the bottom of the pit. Dagaard, hampered by his injured leg must wait for his turn of healing and sits by the chest, while Fulton opens a chest in the treasure room to discover another haul of coins in a bag. The rest of the treasures remain unassessed by the time Dagaard’s wounds are healed.

At the bottom of the deep blue

Sketch for “A Mermaid”
John William Waterhouse (1849-1917)

His miner’s lamp casts a weak glow around the grotto of the pool. His companions appear to have deserted him and Dagaard dare not follow. The enmity between Ulmo and Aule over the creation means no dwarf has ever learnt to swim. Indeed, even if he could swim and was not wearing chainmail, he would not enter the realm of Ulmo such is his kindreds fear of water. So he sits and waits. Presently, a foam like the surf on the beaches that Dagaard has seen more than he would wish on this journey, forms on the surface of the pool. A beautiful female form rises in the water and looks at him quizzically. The Gwingil questions Dagaard in a teasing way, it is clear she knows why he will not enter and after some discussion she offers to grant him passage if he will release her from the binding that holds her in the pool. Dagaard agrees to slay the priestess of the cult and banish the Maia of the dark depths of the volcano.

Stripped of all but armour and sword, Dagaard stands nervously on the edge of the pool. The Gwingil reaches up to kiss him and with a sudden jerk, the dwarf is plunged into the depths of the pool. Water rushes by him, but he is held fast in an embrace and what feels like and eternal kiss by the Gwingil. When he fears the worst he is suddenly released and propelled through water to break the surface, gasping for air, in a pool similar to the one he entered. Urgently, he scrabbles out of the water and looks around for his companions. Damp footprints indicate which direction they have travelled and he calls out to them down the torch lit corridor.

Meanwhile, Denig is studying a doorway for traps prior to opening when the door opens. Before him stands a Black Reiver, apple in hand. In desperation, Denig charges striking in one swift blow as he draws the handaxe from his belt. It would seem that they may escape detection if he continues to be lucky, when Dagaard’s holler echoes up the corridor.

Soon our heroes are outnumbered and hard pressed by Black Reivers. Fulton runs to the corridor to summon Dagaard. Or is that shelter behind the warrior’s impressive skills with a two-handed sword? Aerandir and Denig at the other end of the corridor retreat into a kitchen area. The superior fighting skills of the group begin to tell against their opponents. Several Black Reivers are wounded mortally and others begin to break fleeing through a doorway. Unfortunately, disaster strikes as Denig and Aerandir seek to pursue. A freak stroke from a Reiver engaged in combat with Dagaard shatters the dwarf’s elbow. His heavy weapon drops from his hands as his weapon arm hangs loose at his side.

The arabian warrior
BY rebel07bloodhound

The killing blow expected by Dagaard does not fall as the stone form of Denig charges the triumphant Black Reiver, who turns to meet the new threat. Dagaard staggers to safety and unseen the cowering Fulton leaps forward to lash out with his cutlass. Quickly, the opponent is cut down and while Denig sees to Dagaard’s wound (which is no more than a bandage), Fulton chases after his comrade Aerandir.

Meanwhile, Aerandir is forced to fight against Black Reiver’s in restricted doorways delaying his pursuit. As Fulton arrives, Aerandir is assessing the safety of a room in which he fears an ambush. He is right and using the gathered information launches a sudden assault with Fulton at his back. One defender is quickly dispatched as the other flees through the nearby door. Fearing another ambush the pair push cautiously onwards through a series of rooms until they come to a robing room.

Again they flush their quarry from the room and pursue him down a corridor until the arrive at a great hall. The sacred space is bathed in blue and green light. A large dias occupies the wall near them and in front of it is an altar on which the beautiful Vanwa is laid. Around her priests and a priestess chant with a chorus from a large congregation of acolytes further back in the hall. Guarding them are a number of Black Reivers including one enormous man who is receiving instructions from the fleeing warrior. Aerandir at the front pauses before urging his comrades to retreat.

Denig heads for a doorway that he believes will take him back to where Dagaard waits. But very quickly it becomes clear that this has led them to be caught in a corridor between two groups pursuers. Immediately, Denig beseeches Cloch for some divine aid, a barrier to prevent further reinforcements. Despite, recent events Cloch is still prepared to help his follower and grants two walls of wood securing one front of the party.

Meanwhile, Dagaard moves to the corridor to see if he can aid his comrades but only draws the attention of one of the Reivers now prevented from attacking Denig by the wooden wall. He flees before the Reiver, charging through a doorway and triggering a trap. A wide blade slices across the armour of his chest breaking ribs in the process. He turns and using his strength to hold the door against the disfigured warrior who is following him. It soon becomes clear to the dwarf that this impasse cannot continue for ever. He dare not leave the door and flee because he does not know where the corridor leads and the his opponent will soon cut him down. Nor can he hold the door forever for either his comrades will be cut down or others will join the warrior outside and his own death will swiftly follow. In desperation, he releases the door, bracing his might sword against his body with his good arm and hopes his opponent will impale himself on the point as he falls through the door.

Perhaps today Aule has mercy on his child for although not as effective as he planned the force of entry bludgeons the entering warrior rather than impaling him. It is a matter of moments for Dagaard to finish off the surprise and downed foe before sneaking back to the corridor to find out what has become of his comrades.

Things look desperate for the rest of the party. Aerandir at the front can do nothing but parry the blows of the huge warrior who swings his two-handed sword in vicious arcs that keep the half-elf penned in the corridor. At the same time a priest calls down unholy powers on the sailor forcing him to rely on the grace of Ulmo for protection. Fulton and Denig swap places to allow the Dunlending a better chance to use his bow. Which he does in one opportunity forcing the great warrior to fall back. The heroes press their advantage. Denig swallows a dose of Zulsendura and providing another to Aerandir. Gifted with unnatural haste the two set about attacking their opponent. The half-elf holds his own against one Black Reiver and the Dundlending launches a volley of arrows against the large warrior striking hard into his thigh.

Despite the advantage of speed, Aerandir is not able to dispatch his opponent and the priest is still free to call down unholy support for his servant warriors. Into the fray leaps Fulton, cutlass swinging he removes the hand of the priest as he gestures in prayer. The stunned priest stares at the end of his arm unable to comprehend what has happened. Meanwhile, Fulton leaps onto a bench, in the process flanking Aerandir’s opponent, and bringing his blade down on the unprotected shoulder dispatches this opponent rapidly. Having left the giant warrior looking more like a pin cushion, Denig steps into the room and, sighting a priest in the room beyond, looses and arrow. It flies and strikes the corrupt cleric straight through the arm.

The immediate threat neutralised, the party move back to the baneful temple. Within the worshippers appear to be finishing the rites before the sacrifice of the elf maiden. Aerandir races in to rescuer with Fulton close behind. Denig draws his bow ready to aid them. Again disaster strikes. With a swift dismissive gesture the priestess causes Aerandir to fall into a deep, dark, troubled sleep. Fulton leaps at the priestess in response to the new threat as Denig intones a prayer for a swift awakening of the sleeping sailor. Fulton’s attacks are ferocious and effective driving back the priestess. Soon he is joined by Denig as Aerandir frees Vanwa from the altar. Having freed Vanwa, Aerandir spies the children held in a pen across the room and he sets about freeing them while Fulton and Denig engage the priestess. Facing two worthy fighters is a task to great for the priestess who soon falls to the blades of both.

If the heroes thought killing the priestess would end their problems they were very wrong. Through the doorway two Black Reivers held back by the wood wall appear and with her last dying curse, she calls “Qadim min alzalam aleamiq!”

Tentacles
BY Trishkell

The worshipper who had already been unsure whether to attack or flee fall back in fear as out of the pool at the top of the dais dark purple tentacles grope into the temple. Fortunately, Fulton and Denig manage to evade their grasp but this is not so for the unfortunate guards who have just entered. With screams of horror the Black Reivers are pulled into the pool as other tentacles take their place.

The heroes, along with the rescued children, flee. Fighting past the now panicking worshippers, some of whom provide tasty targets for the tentacles, they make their way through the temple complex. There is no way out through the pool so they seek an alternative route of escape. Fortune favours them as they find a route that follows some volcanic vents to some ruins on an islet in the atoll. The night stars shine down on them as they drink in the fresh air and let the children sleep.

Come the morning, the party discover a large war catamaran, clearly used by the Reivers in raids. Loading the children aboard, along with a vigorously protesting dwarf and attempt to row back to the port. As they launch, a number of foaming waves being to form, soon to be replaced by the form of the Gwingil of the pool. She smiles and waves at Dagaard before propelling the catamaran on a magical wave towards the heroes goal.

With children given into the care of Eimlaq at the mosque and refusing the small reward. The party board the Ulmo’s beard for captain Reiss to inform them that he has heard that there may be a chance of earning some needed coin carrying goods to a nearby port. Soon the goods, a number of high quality carpets, are loaded into the hold. Dagaard has his shattered elbow re-set by Denig, who uses his only dose of Bursthelas to aid the healing. The sailors are soon occupied in preparations for departure.

An’ I earn my livin’ oot o’ the sea.

The hideous creature roars causing rats to scuttle back into the safety of the room behind the rotting door. It lunges for Denig who earnestly entreats Cloch for protection. His prayers are heard and a wall of shimmering air issues from the very rock hindering the Umaia’s attack as it tries to rend the stone-skinned Dunlending limb from limb.

Meanwhile, Dagaard presses and attack from the side and scores some effective hits with his two-handed weapon. That is until he has become an annoyance and the Umaia swots at him causing a light wound and forcing the dwarf to stagger back.

With the monster so closely engaged, it difficult to Fulton and Aerandir to engage with missile weapons. They take their chance with bow and dagger but both are wide of the mark. Aerandir seeks an alternative exit for both himself and Denig (split as the party is) but to no avail. The exit into the toom beyond is barred by fixed bars embedded in the surrounding floor. Then misfortune strikes. Denig is rendered unconscious by a blow and the wall of air fails. Seeing his companion at risk, Dagaard leaps in to press an attack and protect his fallen comrade.

With the fortunate blessing of Cloch, Denig awakens and is protected by a wall of water drawn for the surrounding stones. The force of its churning mass again blunts the attacks of the hideous demon. Dagaard finds it difficult to hit his mark but it is Aerandir who scores a fortunate hit and the Umaia dissipates in an oily cloud of noxious gas.

While Denig prays for healing for Dagaard’s minor wounds the rats begin to emerge from the room but are quickly discouraged by oil from Dagaard’s pack. The party press on with their exploration; returning to the locked door by the stairs and, after some quick work by Fulton, to the rooms beyond.

Denig finds another trap and disarms it with some ease allowing the party passage through to the next room, which itself is uninteresting apart from leading onwards. The corridor beyond leads to two doors but while checking for traps Denig also notices that the wall to one side has curious features. They quickly check the doors. One leads to a changing room, a number of street robes are piled neatly on benches. Above the other door is an inscription which says

Leave the light
Dive the depths
Meet your god

Beyond the door is a pool. The pool itself is deep and full of brackish sea water but the party spy a passageway and beyond it what appears to be the light of another room.

Leaving the pool grotto for a moment, they party turn their attention to the wall outside. The wall itself is old and slick with slime but it only takes Denig ten minutes to discover a hidden entrance undisturbed for may years. Soon the door is opened to reveal a small alcove in which a statue of a Gwingil (Sin. Mermaid). At the foot of it is a small inscription.

Walk right through me
Never see me
Always need me
Kiss me and release me

It takes some false starts before Denig reasons that the riddle is about air and takes the plunge and kisses the lips of the Gwingil. A sudden gush of liquid enters his mouth and pours down his throat. Within moments, the healer is choking and unable to breathe. Taking this as a sign that he can now only breathe underwater he races to the pool and plunges straight in.

Within the pool of water, Denig discovers he has failed to think through or safely check the real depth of the pool as his stone-skinned body begins to sink. Then suddenly, he begins to sink faster as he is grabbed from behind by strong arms.

On the surface, Aerandir observes Denig being grabbed by a Gwingil and races to the statue to receive a gift of potion before abandoning his bow and racing to the Dunlending’s aid. Fulton is not far behind his crew mate in diving into the pool. However, Dagaard with his race’s fear of water and the sea refuses to enter.

The battle beneath the water is not going well. Denig suffers some damage from the Gwingil’s bite and finds himself unable to escape from the grapple. The arrival of Aerandir forces the Gwingil to release her captive who then continues to sink into the depths. Aerandir and the Gwingil dance through the water neither being able to cause and significant damage.

In desperation, Denig prays for a way to stay afloat and is granted the ability to walk on water. At the surface, he is forced to stand on the water and bend over to put his head back into the water to breathe granting him a bird’s-eye view of the battle below where Fulton ineffectually tries to stab the guardian of the pool.

Swift and agile in the water the Gwingil proves a tricky adversery and injured and stunned in one class Aerandir makes for the tunnel through to the next room. It is with this distraction that Fulton makes a miraculous strike and given a moment of freedom he too makes for the tunnel. At the surface, Denig also sees the opportunity and with a croak to Dagaard to follow releases the ability to walk on water and in a controlled fall aims for the tunnel.

As Denig’s stone form arrows towards the tunnel he realises he has misjudged the angle and he is doomed to miss. With one desperate lunge he grabs at the edge and through a herculean effort pulls himself into the tunnel. Only now he becomes aware that he is now reliant on the air in his lungs. With what feels like an explosion in his chest, he crawls through the tunnel to the room beyond.

The sodden heroes pull themselves out of a pool in a torch lit room. Two exits are available one guarded by a door and the other through and archway. Both have inscriptions written over them in what would appear to be a corrupted form of Adunaic.

The archway has a symbol similar to the medallions recovered off of the cult members and says:

Mortals
walk-on land are
more than fools.

Above the wooden door the inscription says:

The unfaithful
must bow before me.

The lightly armed party decide to take the open corridor, while cautiously checking for traps. They soon arrive at a longer corridor on which are several doorways and one set of double doors decorated in blue and green stone and mosaics of undersea creatures.

A Blue Monkey and a Lion

Things do not look good for the band of adventurers. Denig and Aerandir have taken shelter behind a wall of wood gifted by Denig’s deity. In itself it is not the sturdiest affair and they know they will have to go on the attack again. Imploring for more aid, Denig heals Aerandir and himself, while Aerandir perches on his back to target the attackers with his longbow over the top of the wall. Faced with the wall the foe have decided to retreat with their fallen companions and within a matter of moments the street is empty.

Meanwhile, things are not going well for Dagaard. He is mounting a desperate defence in the doorway of the hana. When suddenly, his opponent retreats. The dwarf rushes forward to make full use of his two-handed sword and dispatch the dark-cloaked stranger but over extends himself and immediately is forced to retreat. Stumbling out through the doorway and into the street. Fortunately, his opponent does not press the advantage but follows the woman with a ruby ring and the coin seller out of a back door. Dagaard, still reeling from fumbling his weapon, drags the unconscious Fulton towards what he hopes is the safety of a wooden wall in the street, where Aerandir is peering over the top.

All is quiet. In the distance, the night time hubbub of the streets of Khalij Aldhahab begins to resurface. Cautiously, Aerandir and Dagaard sweep the area while Denig tends the unconscious Fulton. The area is deserted. The assailants have disappeared. Alqurad al’azraq, the Blue Monkey, is empty.

They check the bodies of the two fallen attackers who remain unclaimed. Their appearance, pierced body parts with and filed teeth, indicates that they are Black Reivers. They have little of note apart from a bronze medallion that appears to show some kind of tentacled, octopus-like creature. It is late and the decide to go back to the Alsuwf aldhahabiu (The Golden Fleece) to rest and recuperate.

Tajir the Spice Merchant snores in one bed in the corner, but Aerandir is happy to sit on the floor and meditate as the sailors do not need to be back aboard ship until the morning. Despite the late hour, Fulton spends some time in the market nearby watching for observers and getting a sense of the local trade. Returning to find no bed in which to sleep, he decides to make his way back to the Ulmo’s Beard and his berth there.

On boarding the vessel in the early hours, he is met by Hirlonde, navigator, who tells him that Vanwa has gone missing late in the evening of what is now the day before. Apparently, she had gone ashore and appeared to be looking for something before she was bundled away by some hooded and cloaked figures. Some members of the crew had tried to catch up with the kidnappers but were unable to rescue her. Alarmed, the love-lorn Fulton races back to Alsuwf aldhahabiu to tell his companions the news.

Roused from their slumber the companions are not amused by either the hour or the tidings. Aerandir is hopeful that Vanwa may have more about her than she has shown but he is not confident. Denig suggests that they all rest for what remains of the night and then prays for some divine guidance as to where Vanwa may be.

Denig’s dreams are disturbed with visions of the elven princess being in chains in a dark place. Near to her are a number of smaller shapes, possibly children, who are likewise in chains. They are all waiting with a sense of fear. Nearby, a deep blue light, as with water glows beyond a barred portal.

Awaking, Denig relays his dreams to his companions and they set about trying to locate anything with blue windows or that might have a motif similar to the bronze medallions. The best part of the day passes and they begin to realise the futility of such a search without local knowledge. They ponder other avenues of enquiry for a long time. Denig prays for divine inspiration and is rewarded with a perfect recall of all the conversations he has had. Picking through these they decide to revisit Hasa the stone merchant.

Hasa looks unpleasantly surprised to see them but engages them in a sales patter as they have arrived pretending to be interested in a purchase. However, as they question him, Hasa becomes more and more nervous. Eventually, he offers them tea and bids them sit in the shade, dusting off chairs. He goes upstairs to make the tea and the adventurers hear lots of sounds of movement followed by silence. Quick thinking, Aerandir races lightly up the stairs in time to see the rope of knotted sheets go slack as Hasa reaches the bottom. He climbs down after Hasa while shouting for his companions. They set off in pursuit through the town. Hasa trying every trick and bit of local knowledge to escape. He even throws away his treasure box, but the crowd do not impede the heroes, nor does the thought of money halt their progress.

They are gaining on the fleeing merchant until they come to Sahat al’asad (Lion Plaza) once more where he suddenly disappears. The determined adventurers are confused and cast about looking for signs of his passage. Finding none they turn their attention to the plaza. It is Denig who makes a connection with the fountain and a possible method of casting blue light into a room but he is disappointed to find no such window in the fountain itself. They do though spend an hour carefully searching the fountain for a secret entrance and are rewarded with locating the mechanism in the Lion’s mouth that release a section of the fountain to reveal steps leading down.

In the cellars below the city, the adventurers soon adopt their usual pattern of exploration. Dagaard, wearing his mining helmet is able to aid the party’s vision with the attached lantern. Aerandir, bow in hand covers the rear and Fulton armed with his cutlass stands near to aid his crewmate. Denig now takes up the roll of scout and trap clearance, as he seems more able to survive the blows when he fails to detect them. A fortunate choice, for despite finding and disarming one spear trap, he misses a second and manages to survive the blow of a spear thrust.

They come to a door to a room which contains a pack of rats and rather than try and defeat the swarm shut the door against it. However, the door itself is riddled with holes and the rats begin to pour through. It looks like a game of whack a rat is about to start, when Denig remembers the staff he has acquired will summon a creature to him once ever day. He casts the spell with thoughts of the town’s best ratter in his head. But the shape that forms is not the hoped for cat but a hideous eight foot monster with fangs and vicious claws at the end of webbed hands. Denig commands it to eat all the rats but the graug (Umaia) bays for the blood of Denig.