The Alexandrian

Ptolus - In the Shadow of the Spire



April 29th, 2007
The 20th Day of Amseyl in the 790th Year of the Seyrunian Dynasty

The party arrived back at Greyson House and found two watchmen posted outside. They gave them the scrap of paper they had been given back at the watch house and were let inside without incident.

They found that a few things had been moved around – presumably by the watch –  but for the most part the house was undisturbed. Agnarr strode confidently into the kitchen, grabbed the rope that was still tied off to the stove… and promptly fell into the basement. Dusting himself off he looked up at the rest of the party staring down at him. “Well… We had so many problems with the rope before, I figured I would just jump down.”

Tee frowned, waved him out of the way, and then lightly slid down the rope, landing gently on the floor. She moved away quickly before Dominic could fall on her again, but the others followed carefully (and safely) as she moved south into the room where they had found poor Jasin’s body.

Tee saw that the crates stacked along the wall and hiding the small crawlspace she had seen hacked through the foundation of the house hadn’t been moved. The watchmen they had spoken to had told the truth: They hadn’t found the secret passage, or even suspected that it existed.

Tee had Agnarr move the crates out of the way. With the hole clearly exposed, she could see that crates had also been stacked on the other side of the hole. Getting down on her hands and knees she crawled through the hole and gave the crates on the other side a sharp shove to get them out of the way. Too late she heard the sharp twang as a crude tripwire snapped and two flasks of alchemist’s fire dropped and smashed across her back.

Goblins – probably warned of their approach by all the noise they had made – hooted and hollered and began running towards her from out of the shadows, but with elven speed Tee rolled back out of the crawl hole, ripped off her burning shirt, and tossed it aside.

The instant Tee cleared the hole, Agnarr rolled through it with all the lithe dexterity that his mightily muscled frame belied. Rolling to his feet and drawing his greatsword in the same motion, he dashed down the corridor. Four goblins rushed forward and tried to surround him, but Agnarr stopped, braced, and pivoted – executing a perfect spin in their midst that neatly lopped off all four of their heads in a single, sinuous move.

Tee, meanwhile, had come to her feet, whipped out her bow, and moved to one side – peering back through the hole. She saw two more goblins coming out of a flanking position. They had apparently tried to position themselves next to the crawl hole to ambush anyone else coming through, but now they were thoroughly distracted by the sight of a northern barbarian ending the lives of their four comrades in less than a heartbeat. Tee took advantage of their distraction and drove an arrow straight into one of their eyes.

Elestra clumsily followed the arrow, emerging on the other side and taking a painful blow to the side of her skull as she tried to stand. But she was quick with her revenge, thrusting her rapier through the lungs of the only goblin still standing.

Agnarr, the blood steaming upon his flaming sword, casually strolled back down the hall and plunged his blade two-handed into the chest of the goblin gasping and lamed by Tee’s arrow. The goblin died with a gurgling hiss and slid slowly to the floor, hitting it with a hollow thunk as the stench of burnt goblin flesh filled the air.

Tee quickly scouted around the area. In the little dead-end off to one side she found six bedrolls laid out and several others still rolled up – with a total number of bedrolls precisely matching the number of goblins they had killed in total. The party concluded that the threat posed by the cannibalistic goblins had now passed, but they were presented with another enigma: The tunnel of ancient, cream-colored stone which disappeared out of sight. The goblins had obviously come from somewhere – most likely down this tunnel. What else might lie down there?

The party decided to explore. Tee finished searching the area, eventually coming across the goblin’s small treasure cache. It contained a variety of garbage which could only interest a goblin, but it also notably held a variety of coin, a small mechanical clock, a silver-handled mirror, and a few books: Two children books, A Penny Like the Sun (a book poetry), and Learning the Lyre. Tee handed the books over to Ranthir after glancing at his rapacious stare and then they moved on.

Their progress was slow (Tee made a point of carefully checking for any hidden dangers or secrets). It was also uneventful. Once the party cleared the area near the Greyson House basement where the goblins had been making camp, they found the floor and walls to be covered in a thin layer of slightly gritty dust. The air was stale and thick. It felt as if it hadn’t been breathed by mortal lips in a long, long time.

They passed a number of doors, but these led only to empty and barren chambers – all carved from the same cream-colored stone. There were no turn-offs from the main passage, which carried on in a nearly straight line for several hundred yards. Eventually they came to large ramp which spiraled down more than a hundred feet. But, even then, the passage straightened again.

Soon after, however, the passage was abruptly interrupted by a recessed pool of silvery, iridescent liquid. It lay in a roughly circular and sunken pit nearly ten feet across. The liquid itself churned and boiled as if stirred by some invisible hand, although there was no clear cause for its violent motion. Around the edge of the pool, the floor was made of jagged, blackened glass. The glass also seemed to claw its way up the walls, with glistening and smoky tendrils reaching almost to the ceiling. Faded remnants of ancient scorch marks scarred the stone of the floor and walls and ceiling near the strange pool. Two wide boards had been placed across the pit – appearing to provide a safe passage over the pool of scintillating silver.

Ranthir did not, at first, recognize the pool for what it was. But when he attempted to cast detect magic to investigate its properties further he felt the spell being ripped away from him by the shearing of chaotic energy. He barely managed to control the spell, but recognized the phenomenon: The pool must be some form of pure, primal chaos. But the amount of it–!

With Tee in the lead, the party carefully crossed the boards stretched across the churning, silvery pool. She even carried a rope, which Agnarr held the other end of, so that others could use it as a guide. But Elestra was overconfident and perhaps the blow she had taken to the head earlier left her slightly unbalanced – she slipped from the boards and fell into the pool.

It felt as if the silvery liquid was searing the flesh from her bones. Tendrils of chaotic nonsense ripped their way through her brain, tearing the very thoughts from her mind. She gave a single, soul-piercing shriek as her body spasmed in agony… and then she was dead.

Tee rushed forward and – careful to avoid exposing herself to the liquid – yanked Elestra’s corpse from the pool. She wasn’t breathing, but her eyes were glowing a bright, vibrant silver.

Tee turned pleading and confused eyes to Dominic, who rushed forward to heal Elestra. Ranthir called out a warning that he shouldn’t try to cast any spells so near to the primal chaos, but Dominic – convinced that they didn’t have time to move further away – cast his healing spell. Like Ranthir, he almost had his spell ripped away from him, but he narrowly managed to keep it under control.

Elestra, however, still wasn’t breathing. Dominic, shaken by the experience of the chaotic casting, shakily admitted that they should move further away before he tried again. Agnarr stepped forward, threw Elestra over his shoulder, and ran down the hallway with her. Dominic followed and, after a few more desperate ministrations, managed to get her breathing again with the last of his divine energy.

The group returned to the surface with the unconscious Elestra in Agnarr’s arms. They went to St. Gustav’s Chapel as quickly as they could and paid Brother Fabitor to heal her as best he might. (Agnarr went to pick Elestra’s pockets for the money, but Tee waved him off and paid with the coin they had found in the goblin’s cache instead.) Elestra awoke, but she found herself oddly irritable and her thoughts felt as if they had been dipped in gauze. Dominic suspected she was still suffering lingering effects from her exposure to the primal chaos, but he thought that – with the proper herbal remedies and plenty of bed-rest – she’d be fine by morning.

While Dominic tended to Elestra, Ranthir went back to continue pouring over his mystic tomes. Agnarr, meanwhile, hit the Ghostly Minstrel’s tavern (as was his wont). Tee, on the other hand, started asking around among the other delvers to see if they had experience with anything like this pool of primal chaos.

It turned out that they did. The phenomenon was, apparently, well-known, in fact. Known colloquially as “pits of insanity”, these pools of primal chaos were scattered throughout the dungeons and labyrinths beneath Ptolus – as likely to be found in the sewers and finished tunnels of Ghul’s Labyrinth as they were in the natural caverns beneath them.

Tee also spent a copper piece to obtain one of the day’s newssheets. It was filled with the revelation that Republican operatives had attempted to assassinate the Commissar. At the height of the riots, apparently, when the bulk of the Commissar’s Men had been pulled out of the Dalenguard to deal with the chaos, Republican assassins had snuck into the fortress and attempted to kill the Commissar. The attempt had been thwarted. Supporting stories attested that Republican leaders had been arrested last night.

Tee checked on Phon to make sure she was all right (she was), and then she went out gambling for the rest of the evening.



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One Response to “In the Shadow of the Spire – Session 6A: Blood in the Depths”

  1. RobC says:

    Thank you for continuing this series! I am currently running a Ptolus campaign, and enjoy reading accounts of how other people run theirs.

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