So this time on the Anduwin Chronicles…

Brant looks over the six chefs mournfully. They all appear to be the chefs he saw in the kitchen. They are all wearing chef’s whites and he gets the sense that they are all the chefs, and there is no evidence of subterfuge of dark machinations, or of the Dawnikan elves taking the chef’s places or disguising themselves.

The guards have begun a rudimentary investigation into the corridor and the food storage cupboard and uncovered half a key. The toothed end only. Cato crouches down and spies a smear of blood near to the thin strip window. Looking out the window, there is no evidence of people leaving through the window in some way. The flowerbeds are undisturbed and there is no sign of the elves having shifted form and flown away. Cato manages to find a place in the wood that when knocked appears to be hollow. He asks Abraxos to shift the wood knowing his mage’s skills are not in the physical. Before he moves, Granuaile steps up and asks Abraxos to assist. The wooden shelf jerks, and reveals itself to be on a roller. The shelf fully shifted aside, a small crawl space of around two and a half to three feet across. There is no light, but within the compact space, is a ladder. Orryon imbues a copper piece with a light spell, and allows this to fall in, as a means to test how far down the ladder goes. It bounces and clatters and keeps falling, eventually laying still, casting its light at the bottom.

Abraxos turns to the guards and confirms that representatives of Sh’ren Ri’la are staying within this hotel. The samurai ambassador asks if guards could check if they have returned to their rooms. One guard leaves, before another looks into the dark hole, and sends a third man off to find out who build this hotel, as well as where this ladder and hole may leave. Squeezing in, the party manage to descend using the ladder. It is slow travel, doing deeper. With the light, there is evidence of recent blood on some ladder rungs. The six make very slow progress but climb down for ten minutes in near darkness, until they reach the bottom. The chamber eventually opens out into an underground area. The ladder stopping midway up in the room. There are wooden crates and boxes about the chamber proper with the ladder allowing the only obvious ingress into the centre of the ceiling. The crates are sealed, and scorched with a thick circle and a flame in the centre. Orryon hands a crowbar to Granuaile who attempts to use the tool to open one of the sealed boxes. Whilst Granuaile works on opening the box, Brant thinks of the symbol. He recognises it as intel about the New Eden, an newer organisation. Brant recalls he read about it recently in Bukká Mortainé. He doesn’t recall much more, but he is confident in this organisations name being linked with this symbol. He warns that the organisation is known to take any action it deems necessary, including breaking laws.  Granuaile, at this reveals that the crates themselves appear very old, and so open with relative ease, revealing a pile of scimitars, similar in style to the one used to attack Lady Granuaile. She picks up one blade, and senses some sort of magikal aura. Cato also picks up a blade, sensing a similar magikal essence, commenting that he plans to look into the nature of the weapons and if there is any lasting effect on a person.

Meanwhile, Abraxos has found a locked door to the northern side of the chamber. Still cradling the scimitar, Cato puts his ear to the door, but cannot hear anything. He is confident that there is nothing or not one on the other side. The mage sets out to try to pick the lock. The blue robed mage is unsuccessful in picking the lock. Granuaile replaces the lid on her crate she opened before joining the others at the lock. She kneels and looks through the keyhole. She sees a corridor beyond with several doors either side, but no obvious people. She offers to break the door. Orryon suggests the party use the half a key they found. Cato takes the half key, and holds it in tweezers from his thieves tools. The key fits, but when he turns the key, it fails to open the locked door. Siala suggest that they keys are similar, and that the key may be able to open something. The principle is sound in theory, but doesn’t lead to the door being unlocked. Needing to move forward, Granuaile uses the crowbar to lever open the door. On the other side, there are indeed doors dotted along both sides. The area is dimly lit by wall mounted sconces. A layer of dust covers the ground. Several fast moving footprints move from the first door directly along the corridor, not going to any side rooms. The party quickly make the decision to move at speed after whoever travelled this way recently. Granuaile takes point with her warhammer and shield, supported by Abraxos who now draws his frosted katana. Orryon takes the third position to better heal those in front of behind him. Cato is forth, with Siala raising her bow in fifth and Brant bringing up the rear or the chase. Whilst the group rushes, Siala extends her elven magik over the six. The darkness and shadows move to cling to the group, making them harder to see. As they rush, the dust doesn’t seem to recognise they stepped anywhere. Once they have passed there is still just the one set of footprints in the dust that they are tracking. Siala’s magik seemingly allowing the group to pass without leaving a trace of their travel.

Suddenly, there is a flash of light which seems to emanate from the side of the walls. A sharp pfft noise, then another, and another. The floor begins to fill up with a gas, which is being pumped from several nozzles along the corridor. The green fumes start to rise up, as Abraxos encourages people to hold their breath again the unknown gas. The group is around forty feet into the corridor, and has another hundred feet to travel until they reach the door at the end. Seeing the stone nozzles, Siala waves her hands and begins to magikally bend the stone in on itself, to seal off the gases entry into the corridor. Cato takes hold of his staff. A purple arcane doorway appears before him, as tall as his staff. He grabs hold of the nearest party member, Brant Goldust as they both step through and the door just before. Moments later reappearing at the very end of the corridor, having allowed the mage and the bard to teleport out of the gas, to begin trying to unlock the door at the end of the gas filled hallway.  The pair set down to try the key, and their thieves tools. As the gas begins to cover everyone, their skin begins to burn. It begins to itch against their flesh, burning with some sort of acid like effect. Siala it seems is more heavily effected, as though she is allergic to the gas. Her arms breaking out in hives and boils. Cato and Brant are unable to pick the lock, but by this time, Granuaile has picked up her speed and rams the door full speed and strength with her shield, bashing the barrier down. Beyond this door is another corridor, also filling with gas. To the end of this new corridor is a T junction but no other doors suggesting a way out. Siala, whilst wounded, continues to seal off the stone nozzles as much as she is able to prevent additional gas to seep into. The rest of the group rush after the charging half-orc. As they run, Orryon touches Siala’s pustuled arm and transfers some divine healing into her. The six keep rushing, as Granuaile begins to cast aeromantic magik. A blast of wind before her to push the gas away from her and the party. The corridor beyond which bifurcates leads to a corridor on one side, and to a room opening out to a larger chamber on the other side. The gas appears to be billowing down from the ceiling in the larger chamber. Orryon suggest sparking the gas to ignite it and getting rid of the problem, but Brant and Siala are worried about the hotel above. Cato is able to confirm, using his keen mind that the group are deeper down, but indeed are still below the hotel. Granuaile breaks the door, and the group usher in to a room which appears to have no gas inside. Siala seals the room by raising a short plank of earth. Once the plank is raised, the room is engulfed in darkness. A light spell is cast, and in the low light, Orryon begins to inspect the boils on the others. Siala is injured the worst from the gas. The burning appears similar to a chlorine style wound.

Granuaile sets out first, taking point, as the party fall into the same order as before, descending a stairwell. A similar layout ahead of them. A long thin corridor and several doors. Abraxos keeps his eye out for traps, whilst Cato tries to look for tracks of those the party is pursuing. Walking cautiously, Granuaile spies something suspect ahead. She notices a number of sygils on the ground, but there is no sign of other people having passed this way. Brant and Granuaile both get a sense of the elven magik in the sygils, but it is Cato who is able to realise that the sygil is of Sh’ren Ri’la origin and appears to be of Source Magik, conjuring some sort of mist. Cato shares his thoughts about the sygil, and with this information, Brant wonders if Siala could move stone over it, so that the party could pass without trigger the runes. The group consider trying to dispel the magik, but no one is able to do this. Siala begins to magikally haul earth from under the sygil, tunnelling and digging beneath the bewitched runes. She digs down five feet, and instantly breaks through to more stairs below. Being cautious with the risk of more runes, they check for additional sygils, but cannot spot anything. Granuaile drops down first, and sees behind her steps curling round and back up, as well as more stairs curling around before the group.

Each in turn drops down to this newer layer, and sees the stone appears to be the lowest level. Following along carefully, the party cannot see any more tracks, and notice this corridor opens into a large and wide chamber, with a temple type aesthetic. Several braizers lit by magikal means offer light to the area. To the ceiling of the room, there is a thin layer of gas leaking from above, into this chamber. The party moves with haste, noticing that that the braizers appear to have been recently lit. There is a small layer of dust on the ground, but not enough to betray footprints. Across the chamber is a simple wooden door. There are no obvious traps from one side of the chamber to the others. Cato tries the key in the lock, and finds that this time, it works. He peers through the keyhole once the door is unlocked. His human eyes cannot make out any detail in the pitch black. Granuaile looks in, and sees a desk and bookshelf. The door is opened, and the group begin to look for anything of significance. Brant leans on a chair and casts a magikal message to the guards to ward about the weapons and the gas, whilst Cato begins to search through the pigeon holes and shelves looking for anything that appears magikal. Orryon searches the desk for signs of what this desk and office is. Abraxos and Granuaile take post by the doors, looking out for the gas rolling in. No sign just yet.

The desk holds information about which scrolls are stored where on the shelves, almost as a filing system. There are some old looking maps which have islands plotted. Islands on Menosophia that no one has heard of and have never been seen in these places. Islands called Nastrophia, and Histria. The most recent entry in the journal logs on the desk is around 10-15 years ago. Some of the scrolls are saying that the Source is running out, and that the elves of Sh’Ren Ri’la are trying to find a way to prolong the Source Magik for as long as possible. Orryon points out where certain scrolls may be from the filing system. Cato has already figured this filing system out, and finds a section at the back, containing a number of vellums. Most are blank, but after rifling through he discovers one vellum which is written in the abyssal language. He is able to read the title of the spells on the vellum scroll. An experimental spells called “raise the deep”. It is no spell he has ever heard of from his studying. Cato pockets the scroll, and says he found nothing of interest in the shelves.

As the party begin to complete their search, Abraxos continues his vigil over the gas, and Granuaile keeps her eyes and ears open for any people that they are following. Siala joins Abraxos keeping any eye out, and readying her rune etched long bow. The samurai begins to hear people in the distance asking why the gas has been triggered. Abraxos warns Granuaile and the others that there are people looking for the party in the cavern. The gas continues to swirl and seep at the ceiling, collecting, not yet dense enough to fall to the floor and injure the chamber’s inhabitants. Orryon and Cato pick up additional papers and research papers, with the mage picking up some of the Anduwin Crystal research. The doorway to the small study is held open. The party hide in the study, whilst Siala casts an illusion over the doorframe, to make it appear as though the door is still there and closed. The party waits with baited breath inside the room, behind the illusion.

After a few minutes, an older human with a scruffy beard walks towards the office. He is wearing simple almost priestly robes and a symbol of sorts, as well as carrying a torch. He is walking past, until Cato knocks his staff against the ground. The vibrating sound fills the air. The man doesn’t appear to be a threat, but as he turns around, responding to the knock, Granuaile, Siala and Abraxos rush through the illusionary door, pinning him, and then dragging him back into the office area, in an instant. Cato joins the fray and begins trying to muffle the priestly man’s screams. Once inside, the illusionary door is still stood, but the party close the actual door as well.

“Who are you!” Granuaile demands.

“Wha, erm, who are you?” the man replies in fear.

“No, I’ll ask the questions here” she replies.

“My name is Tamal” he states, his every movement and micro-expression being scrutinised by everyone else. “What are you doing down here?” he asks the party in general.

“What are you doing down here?” Granuaile asks, to get information rather than give it.

“These are the Sacred Halls”

“….of….” the half-orc prompts Tamal to continue.

“The Sacred Halls of the Ancients”

“Who are?”

“Well, people give them many names. Some call them Anduwin, others use other names”

“What is your purpose here?” Cato asks.

“I am the Keeper. I look after this place, with my very small clergy” His voice stuttering, and eyes shifting.

The samurai contributes, “Now that’s not true is it?”

Learning Tamal has been lying, Granuaile grabs him and smashes a random object. Lashing out, she breaks a heavily armoured boot through a trunk sat on the floor.

“I just look after these halls. I’ve done so my whole life. We are born here, we die here” Tamal insists.

“Not a clergy eh?” asks the samurai, “would you prefer cult?”

“No!” Tamal proclaims valiantly, “We are a clergy here. We look after these ancient halls. We live here, we die here. What purpose have you here?”

“And how many are there of you?” Granuaile enquires.

“On the lower floors, in the dorms”

“And the gas?” she prompts.

“The gas is to stop people from discovering us, or our purpose”

“Are you aware that your Halls connect to a hotel?”

“When these halls were built, the only way out was a hatch leading into an open field.”

“Monsieur, how long has your order been here?” asks the healer

“We date back generations”

“How many generations” presses Orryon, to which Tamal simply looks around the room, to the ancient scrollwork.

“Many generations, beyond counting, but we don’t document it” Tamal replies somewhat confused.

“I would point out that they clearly document things” mutters Brant, also gesturing to the extensive scrolls and records.

“Did you know your grandfather?” asks Orryon. Tamal nods. “Presumably, he knew his grandfather as well?”

“… yes”

“Monsieur, I should like to examine you” the healer begins, as Siala steps nearer the door to keep an eye out for anyone or anything else. Tamal tenses at this, but Orryon continues anyway. Even from a distance he is able sense there is something wrong with this guy. In fact Orryon notices a seam that runs along his neck and under his clothes.

Brant steps up to Tamal, and pours the truth serum into Tamal’s mouth.

“Monsieur, what is this?” Orryon asks prodding the seam inquisitively.

Tamal looks around the office, and smirks. “Fine” is his only word as the seam opens allowing Tamal to double in size and his true form to be revealed. A furry bestial form growing in the office, having been folded inside a seamed skin suit. His form is that of a large dark furred Jackal or shaggy dog. The beast appears to be slightly spectral once released from the fleshy form. Shadow seems to shift around the beast’s form, making it harder to see. Instinctively, Granuaile swings her weapon up at it, to try and prevent it from existing the human skin. Her weapon strikes Tamal’s canine nose. The form no filling the room entirely. The snout snarls revealing rows of razor fangs as Tamal’s now deeper and changed voice barks “Get Out!”

Siala opens the door, and exits the office, backing off allowing other party members to exit the room, before the levels her bow at Tamal. She fires into the small compact room, but in the flurry of bodies misses Tamal, she strikes an arrow into Orryon’s shoulder. The samurai is next up, as his frosty katana dances through the air and across Tamal’s shadowy skin, cleaving one wound into the jackal, but missing with his secondary attack instead hitting just shadow. Abraxos then flees the room as the beast reaches its full height. Cato leaves the room and calls for all others to leave, whilst he prepares to cast a spell to seal the door once his allies have escaped. The hero of Vespard returns to his familiar parkour techniques and freeruns out of the room. As he runs, Brant whispers a spells to inspire heroism to Abraxos and Orryon. His vocal magik wraps around their heads, healing their bodies, and preventing them from feeling fear. Granuaile grabs Orryon’s collar and hurls the healer out the room. She turns and then conjures a firebolt, blasting that into the office to immolate the papers. With the party all free, the door slams shut, and Cato’s spell takes hold over the lock. Golden power jets through the air and fills the gaps between the door and the frame, making it considerably harder to open. Not sure what else to do, Orryon chooses to simply run away from Tamal and the burning danger towards the larger room they passed through just thirty minutes before.

The group then flee into the chamber were multiple voices were heard, with Granuaile taking point once again. Realising the danger the group is now in, Orryon blesses Abraxos with this arcane amour. Translucent feathers form into a protective shell, before fading from view. From below, the sounds of Tamal trying to break out are heard as the group flee. Glancing over their shoulders, Cato and Siala can see Tamal’s jackal form crouched and clawing its way out the door, unable to reach its full height as it is restricted by the buildings architecture. In the main chamber the gas is becoming more heavy as it falls from the ceiling. The room is a semi-oval shape with stairs descending to a lowered dais at the centre of the room. Upon the dais is a desk. There are four equal sized steps leading down into the centre. Each step running the full circumference around the oval. The desk is more of a small wooden table with a number of draws.

“Fucking Run!” comes a voice from around a corner. Three Sh’Ren Ri’la elves round the corner at a dash, being chased by something. A large furry black paw swipes at the group, and instantly swats one of the elves against the wall. A fourth man rounds the corner, who is recognised as High Inquisitor Vandrex, with a type of gas mask over his mouth and nose.

Vandrex looks at the party, then to his own elves, and the now two jackal beasts, one on either side.

“Sort this out later” suggests Siala

“Yeah” gruffs the High Inquisitor, as the three elves draw their blades ready to assist the combat.

Siala nods back to the Inquisitor, and runs at an angle away from where the main confrontation is expected to happen. She finds herself halfway up the furthest set of stairs. She levels her bow again, and releases, but the arrow this time flies across the chamber, and lodges in Tamal’s natural shadowy armour. Her second arrow sails wade. Abraxos goes to square up to Tamal, hoping to prevent the beast from fully entering the room, and achieving its full height and range of movement. The samurai takes an old combat stance sideways on, and swings Snowhearth at Tamal, missing the first cut, but connecting with his second. Cato tightens his grip on his arcane staff and unleashes a spell upon the secondary beast. He conjures into this jackal’s mind the visage of a dark abyssal monstrosity. The psychic illusion takes hold. No one else can see it, but the jackal appears to begins combatting some sort of invisible foe. The hero of Vespard tumbles into action now, and flings his dagger at Tamal down the corridor. The dagger soars but lands short, clattering against the Sacred Halls. It clatters once, twice, and then bamf. Teleports back into Brant’s open palm, ready to be used again. The halfling then starts to move further way, closer to the presumed exit. Lady Granuaile expertly swings her warhammer upwards, and cracks against Tamal’s shadowy jaw. She swings again on the downward stroke, but Tamal recoils causing the strike to miss. Orryon extends his hands, and from them five ethereal feather form, before catching an invisible breeze. Each feather touches a different ally. Landing on Granuaile’s weapon arm, as it does with Siala’s bow arm. It lands on Cato’s forehead, and Brant’s fingertips, with the final feather landing on Abraxos’ chest. Each of the feathers then flash brilliantly, and vanish as a blessing takes hold on these allies. The healer then continues to flee whilst hold onto his magik supporting his allies. The blonde hairs elven archer, Siala takes aim at the Jackal which appears to be attacking thin air. The arrow flies and pierces into flesh between shadowy plates on its flank. Both arrows cluster at similar points, the jackal’s defences seemingly focused on some unseen threat. Abraxos continues to try to block the passage of Tamal, and swings blade missing twice. Cato continues to hold focus in his mind for the psychic illusion. He instead unleashes a spectral skeletal hand which caresses Tamal’s body. The spectral hand doesn’t seem able to puncture the shadowy hide. Whilst focusing, Cato has walks over to the centre of the room, and bumps into the table. Without touching it, he spots there are two draws. Brant Goldust clenches his blessed fingers, and then opens them with both heels of his hands touching, and palms facing out. A beam of radiant energy flies from his hands towards Tamal’s still burning form. The beam is steering slightly wide but Brant’s fingers twitch as an ethereal feather flashes briefly, focusing the blast at Tamal’s clavicle. The radiance burns into the shadowy form, and leaves a glowing magikal target where the beast may be easier to strike and wound. Granuaile swings her weapon again wildly half relying on the magik of the divine aim assistance, but both her strikes miss the jackal, and the radiant glow fades from Tamal’s wound. Frustrated, she spits at Tamal’s face. Orryon looks over his should from running, as he now sees Tamal’s true form; a shadowy jackal. Rage fills him for Tamal taking on a sacred form, and his wings erupt from his body, lifting him six feet into the air. Abraxos spots this light eruption from the corner of his eye, and is surprised at the sight of a glowing, floating Orryon. His blue robes of Asian design surrounded by a glow. His wings beating softly, as his veins thrum golden blood much more clearly visible under his slightly pale skin. The healer rises higher into the air, before plucking a feather from his own wing. He splits the feather in two, and throws the now two feathers at Granuaile and Abraxos seeing them both on the front line against Tamal.

The burning jackal breaks through the low corridor, and finds itself close enough to swipe its paws at Abraxos of Granuaile. Each claw swings at one of the warriors. Looking at them, Granuaile is unsure if she is still having echoes of the time altering early that day. The claw swings, and there seems to be a shadowy duplicate of the paw behind it where it had just been, then a third where that had just been. The paw strikes Abraxos, a talon puncturing the arcane armour over the samurai, but the second claw strikes against Granuaile. She ducks behind the Red Anduwin shield that once belonged to Karl Frankfurt, avoiding the attack entirely. The first claw, is more physical than shadowy, and cuts the samurai, before the middle paw strikes and then the final one, most shadow but still somewhat physical follows to strike in the same place. Blood splatters from the wounds until the third paw connects and cuts deeper than the first two. Abraxos coughs out his breath, as Siala fires two more shots at Tamal’s burning form. Sinking arrow after arrow into its hide. Abraxos conjures his own ethereal wings in pain, and then tightens his grip on Snowhearth, drawing its arcane frost into being. He then surges on his internal strength, swinging the katana against Tamal. He strikes. His blade cutting, then freezing, then the divine light from his wings also burns out more radiant power. He cuts again, burning radiance, freezing and slicing the beastly form of Tamal. Frost begins to gather around the wounds of the jackal, and doesn’t seem to be able to move as quickly.

Cato stays put at the desk, and tries to use it as cover, whilst his points his staff with arcane crystals at Tamal. From its tip, several shades of blue light the room in a cone from the crystal catching just Tamal in the blast area. Cato tries to blind the wounded jackal with his dazzling magikal light. The blues flash between dark and light shades hypnotising the beast before the lighter shades intensify and do in fact blind Tamal. Cato then repositions himself behind the desk as cover. Brant Goldust joins his hands once more unleashing a powerful radiant beam at Tamal. The blast erupting from his palms and immolates the canine form of Tamal. The fur melting, and letting it bubble into a strange pool of liquid. All this time, the High Inquisitor and his men have abstained from the fight, and positioned themselves behind pillars once the party have worn down the two threats. Brant runs, and leaps from the stairs now, arching through the air, and landing on the desk at the room’s centre, then stepping to the ground. Granuaile sees Brant’s dramatic movement there and also runs to the desk. She opens the draws. In each is a single vial. One labels Tamal, the other Chimal. The liquid in each is incredibly aggressive and bubbling at her as she holds the vials. The half-orc cannot quite determine magikal nature of these vials. However, Tamal’s potion appears to be more violent, whilst Chima’s potion is much calmer. She holds them to the air, and asks for suggests from the party of what to do. Orryon hurls a firebolt at the remaining jackal, but not used to fighting misses. He then whispers the ambassadors’ name, and imbues him with healing magik.

The second jackal continues to fight against the unseen foe in its mind, whilst the combat seems to calm. The party turn their attention towards the Sh’Ren Ri’la forces. They appear to be trying to secret towards the exit, but Abraxos imposes himself before them. Seeing this, Orryon flies to the High Inquisitor, and cries down at him.

“You said that we had a truce” he shouts, his wings beating emphasising his words, “Do you’re thing!” he commands. As the golden angelic blood rushes to his face, this visage becomes one more of terror than of warmth and healing.

Vandrex appears un-phased by this display. He grabs one of his own shaken and scared men by the throat before slapping him out of it. “It seems like you’ve got things under control” he utters slyly.

“Then it seems like we have a problem monsieur”

“Hmm. I thought we were going to resolve this later. Forgive me, but I might find it interesting to see if you are all worthwhile or not. Your fighting seems to be commendable”

“It doesn’t leave much chance to resolve things later is we are all dead”

“You all seem to be making short work of it” shrugs the High Inquisitor

“We could make short work of other things as well” replies the healer, his eye brow raised. His wings beat and bring him closer to Vandrex. “Get to work” he commands the inquisitor.

Vandrex starts to walk close to Orryon, whilst Brant says “I suggest you surrender yourself to us for the next eight hours” lacing magik into his words to try to bewitch the High Inquisitor.

By this time Vandrex has reached Orryon and nearly whispers under his breath so only the healer can hear him. “You don’t know who you’re threatening”

“This is not a threat, it is a promise”

As Brant finishes his sentence and spell, Vandrex raises his hand and begins to release a spell, until Orryon counters this magik and recaptures Vandrex’ attention angrily commanding Vandrex and his men “To Work!”

The illusionary force battling the living jackal comes to an end, allowing the beast to regain its senses. Granuaile, back at the desk slams the two potion vials into each other, breaking the glass, and allowing the liquids to mix. As the thick fluids combine, the jackal stalking towards the party melts into its liquid form, much as Tamal had done just moments ago. The two pools then begin to seep nearer to each other, before they, like the potions begins to merge. Out of this combined viscous form grows a canine head, then another, as the party and the Sh’ren Ri’la are thrown backwards and off their feet. When people begin to stand, the creature stands before them. Two heads, both jackal-like. Its tails made of scythes. Both heads then bark in unison “Get Out!”

And that’s where we left off…