There was a loud twang as Bex opened up the door, looking down she noticed the bolt protruding from her chest. Going into a rage she rushed into the room. The first thing she noticed was the lead dwarf reloading his crossbow, along with two of the dwarves from his party holding two girls as hostage, blades to their throats. A loud muffled cry rang out from behind them, even more girls were in the room, the missing girls!
After seeing Bex take the bolt to the chest Innathia immediately let out a healing touch, trying to staunch the bleeding before the barbarian bleed out. Seeing that this fight was going to be up close and personal he drew his saber and shield and rushed the lead dwarf, putting himself in the mix of all three dwarfs.
Following Bex and Innathia into the room Bast entered just in time to see the dwarves cut down their captives, he noticed that the one on the left was Hansu’s middle daughter. Letting out a yell, Bast shrouded himself in the cold powers of his patron, fortifying himself for the fight to come.
Bringing up the rear Thrandiul saw the dead human girls at the feet of their dwarven captives, having seen the cruelty the world has to offer he was not surprised, nonetheless a cold fury lit up inside him. Vowing a silent curse at his stunted foes, Thrandiul raised his staff and electric power shot out arcing over the head of his allies towards the dwarves.
The lead dwarf took another shot at the Seraphim rushing at him but the shot stuck fast into his shield, cursing in dwarvish he drew his battle axe and braced himself. Seeing the girl’s bodies hit the ground and the dwarves all around him, Innathia took a swing at the lead dwarf, a loud clang rang out as his sword scrapped against the armored dwarf, failing to penetrate. The dwarf to his right took a swing as he saw the assault upon his leader slicing into the meat of Innathia leg.
Bex took a large swing at the dwarf to her left, nearly frothing with her rage, the dwarf brought up his axe parrying her first wild swing and jabbed the pommel into her gut, knocking the wind from her. Not deterred by the dwarves’ attack Bex took another swing, but failed to connect again. Letting out a blood curdling roar Bex went into a true rage, foam and spittle flying from her mouth as she sent her boot out connecting with the dwarfs’ face knocking him prone. Following up with a downward arc that cleaved into his chest, but in her frenzied state she continued to hack into the body, delimbing the corpse and splattering blood all across the room and the captive girls. Seeing the giants brutal assault, the girls saw their saviors possibly turn to a worse fate.
Ducking another swing from the lead dwarf, Innathia changed his focus to the dwarf to his right, finding purchase with his sword as it bloodied his foe. But in doing this he left himself open for a wide cleaving attack that caught him in the shoulder. Letting out a yell his shield arm drooped, giving the other dwarf time to turn and swing his axe putting into Innathia’s leg again. Cursing his rash decision, Innathia could do nothing else but try to survive and hope his allies worked fast.
The room strobing with the electric beam coming from Thrandiul attack, Bast rushed in and thrust his spear at the dwarf, all the while lamenting their rash actions, leading to the deaths of the two girls. As his spear connected a loud boom emanated from his spear and lighting began circling around the dwarf. The dwarf was splitting blood as his wounds were starting to take its toll on him. But unable to get his full attention, the dwarf was intent on ending the threat to his master. As Bast prepared for another thrust, he saw the axe connect with Innathia chest, his leg and shield arm already bloodied. With this final attack, he slumped to the ground in a growing pool of blood.
Despite the Seraphim going down, the odds seemed too great for the lead Dwarf. He watched as the Sea Giant brutally hacked apart, Heiok, his third cousins husband and best damn fiddler player in his troupe, and the constant assault from the cursed spell slinger, he decided it would be most prudent to protect his most important asset, himself. Turning tail and running, he ran straight towards the wall behind him towards the flag of the Underbelly. Plowing through the tapestry it revealed a tunnel and he continued to run into the darkness.
With the lead dwarf going out of range of his witch bolt, Thrandiul turned his attention to the last dwarf, blasting him with a ray of frost that finished off the dwarf. With that the battle was over, but what to do now? One ally down, a room full of captives, and an enraged Sea Giant intent setting a new record for how many hacks it took to get to the center. Probably best for the human to deal with his friend, Thrandiul decided to stay back and see how things played out, trying to figure out if this was really something he wanted to get caught up in, these dwarfs seem to be no more than petty criminals, hardly the type who would lead him to true power.
Bast took a deep breath and took in the situation in the room, torn between following the dwarf and helping his allies. Seeing Bex in one of the worst frenzies he had ever seen decided for him, rushing over to calm her down. “Bex! It’s done, it’s done.” Reaching out he put his arm on his shoulder, confident that his friend wouldn’t lash out at him. As he did so Bex brought up her axe again, glaring at Bast, as recognition flashed in her eyes, her breathing started to calm and she lowered her weapon.
Looking around at what she had done, she breathed in deep and seemed to reconcile the fact, she knew there was a deep anger in her, but this was unlike the other episodes. Finally, close to calm, her hands still shaking, she looked back down at Bast. “Thank you.” Bast meet her eyes and nodded.
Rushing to the fallen Innathia, Bast set to stabilizing him, seeing the severity of his wounds the most he could do was bandage him up temporarily, he would need a healer before he would be good again. Regaining conciseness Innathia opened his eyes and looked at Bast, giving a nod and laying his head back to rest.
With Bex calmed, and Innathia stable, Bast intended to free the girls and see if any information could be found out. But as he began to search for a key he heard familiar loud twang followed by a scream.
Caught off guard in his contemplation, Thrandiul luckily took the bolt in the shoulder and it didn’t hit anything vital. Angry at himself for his lack of concentration Thrandiul turned and looked at his attacker. The dwarf dropped his crossbow and took out his great axe, letting out a yell as he charged the Nephilim. Thrandiul raised his hand and let out another ray of frost at the dwarf, impacting in his chest it slowed the dwarf but didn’t take it down.
Following the sound of the cry Bast entered the hallway were the skirmish was going on, seeing the dwarf charging at Thrandiul, he raised his arm knowing that he didn’t have time to make it into melee range and cast. A dark beam shot out connecting with the dwarf’s face, a loud rang out and the dwarfs head was thrown back, broken by the impact.
Slumping to the ground as the final dwarf fell, Bast sat down and rested for a second. So many foolish decisions, he let his desire for vengeance overcome his better judgement and the group almost died, along with the two girls. Next time would be different he vowed. Standing him he started releasing the girls, most still hysterical because of Bex’s demonstration. He saw two of the girls who he recognized as Hansu’s daughters rush to their fallen sister, cradling her body in their arms and sobbing. He gave them a few minutes to grieve for their fallen sister before kneeling down beside them.
“I am sorry for your loss, we failed you, and for that I vow the people responsible for this will pay.” Looking up from their sister the two nodded at Bast before speaking. “You guys did what you could, it is better we died then seen what they had planned for us.” The one who looked to be the eldest said.
“Is there, is there anything you know that could help us? Did you hear or see anything?” In between sobs the girls replied, “No, for the most part they left us here chained up, only coming in the evening when they brought in new girls and to feed us. And when they were here they spoke in dwarvish.” Bast simply nodded at this before replying “Thank you, we will help you make it home to your father.”
Agreeing to come back and search the house when everyone was fully rested, Bex took Innathia to a healer to have his wounds seen to. Meanwhile Bast escorted Hanus’s daughter home, carrying their fallen sister back to her father. Promising to come back when he knew more, Bast left them to grieve.
Refusing to be taken to a healer Innathia had Bex take him back to where he was staying, claiming that he could treat himself. Exhausted Bex agreed to no healers, but didn’t trust the Seraphim to not die on them if left alone, and took his slumbering form back to their camp. As Innathia continued to rest she sat near the fire waiting for Bast to return. A couple hours later a weary Bast arrived, sitting near the fire with a glazed look in his eyes. We were all tested tonight thought Bex, and she wasn’t sure if they had passed.
The next day the group met up again at the slavers hideout. As they entered they noticed that everything had been left undisturbed, no one had entered since they were last here. Entering the tunnel with Innathia leading the way, Bast realized something was, odd. There was no light in the tunnel that he could see and yet he had perfect vision, he could clearly see Innathia stealthily scouting out the tunnel. While they waited for Innathia to return, he contemplated these changes, clearly the voice was responsible for the changes, but still it did not speak.
As Innathia crept along the tunnel, there was no discernable tracks. While no expert it was apparent that this tunnel was relatively new, and this was proven when he stumbled upon a new tunnel which was more developed and lead in either direction, one path leading east, the other west. After spending several minutes further investigating the cavern he doubled back to his team. This was getting more interesting by the day.
Bex was looking into the darkness that was the tunnel when Innathia’s form emerged out of the darkness. “What did you find?”
“The tunnel is new, it connects to a much older tunnel further in, but it splits in two heading east and west. The dwarf could have gone either way.” After speaking Innathia went up to the manacles along the wall inspecting them, that curious gleam in his eye as he appraised them. “We should investigate but go cautiously, there’s no way of knowing what’s down there.” He concluded off handedly.
The team took this in as they thought of what to do next. “I agree.” The group turned to look at Thrandiul, surprised at the elf’s words. Seeing the surprised looks Thrandiul glared back defensively, “What? I want these bastards to pay for what they’ve done, there is enough cruelty in the world without these slaving bastards making it worse.”
Nodding in agreement the group prepared to set out. But before they could Innathia asked out, “Wait, with our heritage we can see down there without a light source,” Nodding towards Thrandiul, “But what of you two? I’d like to keep from having to light a torch, further alerting whatever is down there.”
“I will be fine, and Bex can hold onto me. If anything comes up then we can make a light.” Bast said, not offering an explanation more than that.
“Fair enough” Innathia said looking at Bast curiously, “Let’s get started then. And this time lets to it a tad more quitter, eh?” At that he stealthily set out down the tunnel.
Following Innathia down the tunnel, the group decided to go west, discerning that it would lead further into the city. Not far from where they set out they noticed a second tunnel branch out but this time it led to what appeared to be a cave in.
“This must be where the goblins came from, so the dwarves were behind the Tiefling slaves.” Bast said.
Continuing heading west they came upon some stairs that lead up. Innathia motioned for quit as he walked up them until he came upon a bared grate that was lock. Picking the lock, he opened it and tried to see if he could notice anything. To his surprise he heard what was distinctly the bells going off at the cathedral to Norvel. Shocked by this revelation he slipped the grate back down and doubled back to his party.
“Were at the cathedral!” He whispered to the group. “The bloody cathedral!”
The group was quit as they considered this new revelation until Bast spoke up. “We should continue back the other way and see where that tunnel leads. If the Underbelly is working with Luhi we need to gather more information before hastily proceeding.”
Doubling back the group eventually found another set of stairs leading up, this time a bright was leaking through. Opening the grate and finding it unlocked they found themselves beyond the city walls, surrounded by stones that cleverly hid the gate.
“This must be how the goblins got in.” Thrandiul stated as he looked around. Perhaps he was wrong, there was obviously something bigger going on with the Underbelly and possibly the church of Norvel then he originally thought. Turning back to his party, “Well what next? An assault upon the most heavily armed church in the city?”
“I think we should first re asses our funds, see if we can get any better bear for this endeavor. Also, tonight is supposedly the night a guard goes missing. We promised Hank that we would look for his sister.” Innathia stated. “Not to mention I have a certain, delivery, I am waiting for.”
Bast and Bex considered this, noting the ragged state their gear was in they found themselves in agreement. “Very well, let’s be about it.”
For the next several hours the group set about fencing the items they had confiscated from their fights. Innathia leading them from one shady dealer to the next. Clearly his ties went deeper then both of them thought.
As the day neared its end the group decided to split up and watch the main guard patrols, remembering that Hank had said one of the guards would disappear and the other would wake up with no memory of what had happened. They split into two groups, Bex and Bast taking the Northern patrol, while Thrandiul and Innathia headed south.
Clinging to the shadows Bex and Bast were following two guards on their patrol. “Damn place gives me the chills.” Bex whispered to Bast.
Bast motioned for silence before whispering back. “These guys are on high alert, so try to keep it down because I don’t want to be accidently run through.” Chagrined at his reprimand Bex continued to mutter under her breath as the patrol continued along. Soon they made a turn and went out of sight, forced to move from their position Bast and Bex darted to the next building to catch up. Bast easily melded with the shadows, his time as a hunter in the desert giving him the skills to move stealthily. Bex unfortunately wasn’t as skilled, her lumbering form doing her best to keep low and stealthily. As she was rushing across the street a yell came out “Halt!”
The guards came rushing at her swords drawn. “What are you doing out at this time, were you tailing us?” the first guard responded brandishing his sword. He was clearly on edge and not happy with catching this giant foe stalking them in the middle of the night.
Caught at a crossroad Bex knew there was two ways she could handle this, easily take out the guards, or comply. But due to the nature of their mission she wasn’t sure if a fight was the best course. Breathing deeply to calm herself she addressed the guards. “Look, we are trying to help. We have heard that guards are going missing and we thought we could help. Do you know Hank? He sent us here to look for his sister.”
The guards continued to glare at her, and looked at each other and nodded. One put her sword away and brought out a pair of manacles. “If what you say is true, then you have nothing to hide and will come with us to be put in holding until we can determine the truth from lies.”
Bex felt the call of her axe, but sighed and lowered her arms. “Very well, but you are making a mistake.” She allowed herself to be manacled and let them lead her towards the prison. Still in the shadows Bast let out a long string of curses, but at least this way it narrowed down which guards to watch. They could free Bex in the morning. Decided he set out to catch up with Innathia and Thrandiul.
The pair sat on top of a rooftop, patiently watching the guards make their rounds. As they were watching they felt a presence coming upon them, “Hail Bast, where is Bex?” Not surprised that the pair had noticed him Bast settled down next to them. “She was arrested by the watch. We will have to retrieve her tomorrow, but now we know which set of guards to watch.”
“Well so far there’s been nothing exciting, this is a wasted evening.” Innathia said, “We could have had one of my people on this while we did something more productive.”
Just as he said this they heard something, someone was speaking in what was clearly magic, and with it both guards slumped to the ground. As soon as they hit the ground four hooded figures scampered over to them. Two picked up one of the sleeping guards while the other two stood guard.
“Well damn, this is why the other guard never remembers anything. We have to follow them.” Thrandiul said.
In agreement, the party stealthily followed the group. The hooded figures lead them to the wall to the zero district and seemingly walked right through the wall. “What? No one goes to the zero district!” Thrandiul whispered, “It must be a glamour, give me a second to divine what kind of magic is at work here.”
As he started casting, Bast was feeling along the wall and nearly fell onto his face as his hand passed through what seemed like a solid wall. “I think I found it.”
“Well that works too,” muttered Thrandiul.
“Wait!” whispered Innathia, “Should we continue without Bex? This could go bad really quick.”
“We have no choice, we must proceed. Whatever is happening to the guards they are never seen again. And it won’t be for another week that whoever is responsible will be out again.” Bast said, “We can handle this.”
“Very well,” said Thrandiul. With that the group slipped through the magical wall. On the other side what they saw shocked and appalled them…