Body under the stairs
In the chambers under Blackyard Prison Xarth, Belenus, and Brizanthimus finally reach the iron door that leads to the guardroom. A trail of survivors are being helped up the stairs by Merrick Stonearm and Thanien. Xarth beats on the door several times but nobody opens and responds in any matter. The door is impossible to breach with magic, but Briz sends the incar through the cracks. They return reporting many more dead people that were not there when they went down.
Finally there is a voice on the other side, speaking some dwarven dialect even Merrick is having trouble understanding. When he switches to Dakarian his voice becomes clearer. He says that he will open the door if they are willing to deal fairly. He is claiming lineage to the Phoenix Clan, a dwarven clan killed out hundreds of years ago. His claims to the be crafter of the door and the holder of its secrets. They leave Merrick at the door to “negotiate” with this crazed dwarf while they look for another exit.
Belenus, Briz, and Xarth reexamine the bowl and trough in the sacrifice room. Bel cuts himself and lets a single drop of blood into the bowl. The compulsion to cut himself open and bleed into the bowl is overpowering. He would have slit his throat over the bowl except for Xarth’s quick thinking in destroying the bowl with fire. Briz uncovers that this trough is not just gathering blood, but in fact channeling it – directing it north. Unable to leave anything alone Briz untangles the complex spells holding the power in check.
Something explodes out of the trough, scattering stones across the room. While the three of them shake their heads clear something bloody rises from the hold and streaks up the stairs. Its footprints scorch and burn the stones and it passes. So much power will kill anything it passes and the survivors are between it and the door. They chase after the creature.
As Gia is taken on a circuitous route through the Reaver Camp she can see that many of the warriors are injured, sick, and dying. The strongest among them are feasting upon the leftover food allowing their “useless” companions to suffer and die. At the central camp Tazeed brings her to Dae who seems to be in charge. The three of them sit down and speak frankly for the first time.
Gia wants the true name of the demon, alas neither of them know it; although they know of someone who might – but they cannot speak his name. Tazeed assures her that he neither serves the demon nor controls it. Frustrated she asks about the twisted flute, which elicits a smile from Tazeed. He compliments her and tells her that it is far beyond her reach and she is better off that it stays in the hands of his master. The flute cannot be destroyed until its purpose is fulfilled, but he cannot speak about it purpose. He can tell her that the flute is currently undefended and anyone could snatch it from his master’s grasp if they are but willing to wait.
Dae listens carefully to Gia and Tazeed bartering back and forth, while she issues orders to her surviving army. When she has had enough she tells Gia she will give her a one hour start to seek the safety of the city walls before her forces move on the city. After she leaves to organize the attack Gia and Tazeed can speak for the last time. For all of the information he has freely given he asks that she speak his name before death. He will come to her and fulfill his promise to kill her.
As Gia heads back to Bornheim she sees the Reavers break into two groups. The largest group retreats north of the city while a smaller and faster group heads up to the Fuldelf Ridge. She manages to reach the rivergate before the bulk of the Reavers arrive. Her warning about the danger to the south is not believed until a Captain Leonard of the River Guard arrives on the scene. He believes her story and asks her to accompany him to speak with his superiors.
Upstairs there is chaos everywhere. Whatever came out of that tunnel melted straight through the door. Merrick is on the floor struggling to rise to his feet and Thanien is nowhere to be found. They find a few more survivors from the prisoners they freed. In the outer hall a pitched battle took place. Over a score of dwarves in ornate plate armor are dead, their bodies hideously twisted. Sir Hugo’s body is pinned to the floor by eight iron spears – a large magical circle has been scorched into the stone around him. Even Briz is not foolish enough to get near to the body and it emanates rage and darkness.
Merrick must speak with the Jarl concerning what has happened here. He does not recognize the clan markings on the armor, but they are definitely not from the Stonearm Clan. The presence of another clan near their stronghold is an insult to the Jarl and not to be taken lightly. He will help guide the surviving prisoners to safety before he leaves.
Bel and Xarth follow the scorch marks upstairs and eventually to the highest tower. The tower peak has been ripped off and perched atop the stone is a great feathered bird. Bel and Xarth try to communicate with it, but it ignores them – instead turning its head to look over the city. Xarth’s archeon appears and bows formally to the bird, glaring at the other two until they follow suit. The archeon then spends its time extolling the virtues and glory of being in the presence of such an elder fae.
Quite some time later Brizanthimus makes his way up the stairs, which have begun to crack under the weight of the bird. The creature, who calls itself a Bellador, turns to Briz and thanks him for its freedom. It owes Briz a service and will come when called. Briz asks the fae’s help in rescuing Rosa from those that have taken her. The fae warns him that this will bring him into conflict with “those who interfere,” but he has a obligation to discharge. The creature turns into a mist and opens a portal in the stone of the tower.
As they pass through the stone they arrive in a cell beneath the cathedral. They find Rosa, along with another prisoner, and free them both – only to be discovered by the temple guards. Belenus and Xarth hold them off long enough for Briz, Rosa, and the other prisoner to flee through the open portal. There is a crackle of lightning and blazing white light as the Bellador is forced back and into the portal, leaving Belenus and Xarth behind. The two of them surrender as more guards rush them from the stairs.
Nigel, pushed to his limits by what has transpired over the last few days, leaves the city to help save his sister. Traveling with him is Larthian, and elven hunter. Near a destroyed smithy outside of the city the two of them spot a small outpost. Three Bloodletters relaxing when they should be on watch. He slips up to one of them and kills him before he can even wake. Larthian takes the other with a well-placed arrow, but the third shouts a warning before he is killed as well. From out of a small building comes a man dressed in white robes stained with blood. Some force turns both Larthian’s arrows and Nigel’s blade when they try to kill him.
The priest gestures and the living dead come shambling outside of the buildings and swarm over the elf before he can react. Nigel presses the attack and eventually overwhelms the priest. The undead collapse and although Larthian is saved he has been grievously wounded. After binding the elf’s wounds Nigel turns and tortures the priest for information. It took him several hours, but he eventually got what he needed.
The large force of Reavers heading north are a feint. They intend to turn around and fall upon the ship-builders. A much smaller force lead by their new Blood Priest intents to scale the ridgeline and fall upon the city from the south. That passage is believed to be too dangerous to move any sufficient number, but such fanatical warriors will try anything for Danshi. While Larthian returns to the city to rely the message, Nigel runs towards the Reaver encampment.
Newfound power courses through his body as the miles fall away. He overtakes the smaller force heading south and stands atop the remaining wall of a burned out farmstead as Dae’s horse passes by. She invites her brother to join her – to undo all of the harm that he has done for her – allow her vision to finally be wrought – the vision of their parents. In a whisper she tells him that she is shedding as much blood as she can in the hopes of summoning Danshi herself. She has a weapon that can kill even a god – a knife of shadow and lies.
He pleads with his sister to turn aside from this path. The blade cannot save her – it cannot kill a god. Set down the ruinous lives of their parents. To forgive the pain and suffering he has caused. When Tazeed pulls up on his horse Dae replaces the mask on her face. She thanks her brother for letting her see the truth of the world. Nigel watches as her sister and those Reavers most loyal to her head towards the mountains.
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