Ruethál promptly lit a torch and took lead climbing down the ladder into the damp sewer tunnels below the abbey. They came across a split in the tunnels, but Nahusha managed to trace the scent of blood and keep the group on track. The heroes hurried down the hall until they entered a chamber with crumbling walls and large sewage grates on the floor. They spotted two kenku, some spitting drakes, and a pseudodragon. As they engaged in combat with their foes they heard the rushing of liquid down some pipes and soon find out that the grates on the floor were there to drain the filth intermittently spewing from the walls.
Poor guys didn't know what hit them, but they did have some nice guard monsters to help them out.
The kenkus were surprised by the sudden assault and informed the heroes that this is the territory of the Iron Crow, the mob leader of the Frigid Talon. They mentioned that they saw some others pass by earlier and agreed to let the heroes pass through this part of their territory in exchange for a ceasefire and their healing the kenku they wounded.
The heroes continued into the actual water tunnels of the sewer and began down the path. They soon came to another fork in the road. Down to their right they spotted firelight coming from within a room. Nahusha attempted to sneak by and see what was inside – he saw on his right a large grate holding back a legion of rats, and on his left a kenku who was sitting guard in a room filled with crates. Unfortunately, the kenku saw him too and ran to pull a nearby lever, unleashing the cage of rats into the water.
Rats big as cats, all swarming on a bear.
The rest of the heroes threw precaution to the wind and rushed forth to attack the kenku, who promptly shut and barred the door to his room. Suddenly, as the heroes were swarmed by rats, a crocodile lunged out of the water at Ursus, Ruethál’s spirit companion. The heroes realized that the rats were actually feed for the crocodile!
The croc is a battleship! =P
Griffin of Targe wrestled with the crocodile while Gauthak started to break down the door. Gauthak managed to break in and subdue the kenku, bringing him outside clenched in his fist. Nahusha managed to land a final slash on the crocodile as it was swimming away, killing it just before it was about to reach Gauthak and the kenku.
The heroes notice that this kenku had an unusually heavy coin pouch on him, and upon further inquiry discover that he had accepted it as a bribe for the safe passage of some human who came by recently. After revealing the direction the human went, the heroes ran down the hall and come into a large chamber with sloped floors leading down to water pits.
The thief, found at last! Plot twist!
To their left they see Brother Xavros, standing across one of the pits.
“I provoked this kenku into attacking the abbey, I didn’t plan on his mad dash for the book. You four disappointed me in letting him go. This little bugger got in the way, you see what he did to my leg? Working with these filthy crows has been more trouble than it’s been worth. Anyway, I have what I came for, I don’t need him anymore.”
He picked up the kenku in one hand, it squirmed in complaint, but hadn’t the energy to fight. Xavros tosses the kenku disdainfully down the slope and into the pit.
With a splash the Kenku is promptly sucked down under the water. As Xavros finishes talking his face begins to morph – features begin to disappear as his skin turns white and his hair turns gray.
Xavros begins summoning more Fell Taints as drakes came swooping down at our heroes. Gauthak was the first to step too close to the water, as a slimy tentacle lashed out at him. He managed to get away, but Ruethál was not so fortunate, as a Drake knocked him down into the other pit. Nahasha ran over to Xavros and stabbed him in the stomach, causing him to fully morph into his featurelessness and die. The fell taints fade away as their summoner perished. The heroes manage to take care of the other assailing monsters and come over to inspect the corpse.
Xavros was a doppelganger, the original man long dead, and on his body was the Book of the Exile, alongside a pendant:
The heroes realize that Xavros had been using the power of the book to enhance his summoning powers, which was the origin of the Fell Taints. They break down the door Xavros had been fumbling to unlock and find a ladder going up. They climb out of the manhole at the top and emerge into a busy street in the middle of Brachik.
They made their way back to the Abbey and go to Brother Elward’s study. They hear voices from within asking about the Book of the Exile. Upon their entrance they meet Brother Cruros, the Right Hand of the High Priestess of the Raven Queen, who had received Brother Elward’s message and was here for the book. Cruros was a 7 foot tall human, garbed in a hooded cloak. Alongside him were two others also in cloaks, one of which was a slightly shorter human and the other a mechano-wooden guard. Nahusha hands over the Book of the Exile.
Cruros takes the book, hands over 100 gold to each of the adventurers, and tells them to stay out of such affairs and not take the “stories” of Brother Elward too seriously. Upon seeing the symbol on the pendant, Elward is shocked. He informs the heroes that it is the Symbol of Lord Qasaf. He examines it and notices that it has a mild charm, and gives it to Gauthak. Cruros nods and parts in silence, along with his fellow brothers.
The heroes, tired after a long morning of battling in sewage, take their leave: Gauthak goes to cook, Nahasha to meditate and pray, and Griffin and Ruethál head to a tavern together to exchange stories of their past.
To be continued….