- men walking by but don’t discover
- later 1hrs rats squeaking go away
- return 5 hrs start scratching at door
- plan out leaving room
- Gaia tries to pulls attention
- see 2 demon marked dire rats
- back up instead of attacking
- steps in foot trap
- rats charge *
The party enters the building through massive, arched doors, where the School of Antiquities opens into a spacious foyer. Their guide leads them up a curving granite staircase. At the top-most level of the building, he takes them down a wide corridor into one of the wings of the school. A wooden sign hangs from the ceiling and on it are etched the words Elder Ages Wing.
As the traveled the spacious halls of the school they met not a single person. Footsteps echoed eerily down empty corridors.
“This is the Hall of Ancient Artifacts,” the Khovian scholar intones as he stops before a pair of square redwood doors. Carved across their face is a strange and symbolic relief the denies description. For a moment every pair of eyes are trapped within a maze of lines. The design is such that it instantly grabs a persons attention but at the same time is completely unrecognizable.
“Please come inside,” says the scholar, “Master is on his way to meet you.”
At this, the party share glances of confusion. No one saw any other person on their short trip through the halls of the school and the scholar never left their side. Before they bring up their unspoken question the scholar whisks them into the hall.
The Hall of Ancient Artifacts is a spacious, three-story tall room located at the end of the Elder Ages Wing. Tables cluttered with fragments of ancient cultures and bits and pieces of lost ages fill the room’s center. Where space remains, wooden crates and exotic items of all shapes and sizes are stacked.
The wall opposite the entrance is one towering set of shelves and cubbyholes. Found among these dusty ledges the curled edges of worn scrolls and the tattered vestments of strange tomes can be seen sharing space with obscure statuettes and cracked pottery from a thousand ages gone by.
On either side of this cluttered collection are two alcoves that bring in light from wide windows three stories high. Situated beside these windows are what appear to be work areas: desks with opened catalogues and assorted books stacked high, tables with the arcane implements of a delver of history placed ever so precisely.
It is to one of these work area that the Khovian scholar leads his life-saving fellows. Curiously, the area opposite seems much more untended. Tools left out of place, potted plants dryed-up and a fine sheen of dust covers everything tells Gaia, Uber, Balasar and that place has been vacant for some time.
Noticing the interest of the party, the Khovian scholar speaks up. “Ah, yes. My college. He has been missing several weeks now. The Master is worried as he was in the middle of some important research into the Fall of Kum’marath. Its such a shame, so much knowledge lost. He was quite an expert on that Age.”
“Excuse me, the Fall of Kum’marath…” starts Bluereth who is interrupted by the scholar starring intently over their shoulders.
“Yes, Master. There are some visitors here to discuss something with you.”
Neither Gaia or Uber, locals of Murdock’s Hold, have ever been inside the grounds of the Khovian Academy. Actually, the caste-less are physically encouraged to avoid the Inner Circle where the First Families compounds and the estates of the most powerful Lesser Families and Houses can be found.
The Khovian scholar prevents any undue attention from patrolling guards on their way through the Circle. And a short time later, the group of caste-less locals and strangers are standing at the Academy’s main entrance.
A high gate of blackened spears of iron bars their way. In front of them stand a pair of honor guards wearing plate mail shrouded by long, ashen capes and capped in high, fanged helms. At the approach of the group, gleaming glaives are crossed causing a metallic ring to vibrate through the air.
The reaction of the guards brings a frown to the Khovian scholars face. He snaps out a sharp command that has the guards unbarring the gates in crisp unison. As the jagged gates sing inwards, the expansive grounds, surrounded by impressive walls of basalt, open before them.
Inside, the follow a cobbled road to a central square. The square rises in twelve shallow tiers that focus on a fluted obelisk. Spaced with geometric decision, hedges, benches and statues radiate out from the obelisk. There is a arcane strangeness about the place.
Beyond the central square, many multiple-storied buildings are spaced with queer preciseness. The austere architecture, found nowhere else in the city, reminds the observer of a time forgotten to dusty tomes. The considerable space between buildings and square is composed of tree dominated gardens.
As the party is led along the winding paths that spider through the gardens, they pass somber scholars in Khovian robes who give them sour-faced glances and luxuriantly dressed members of the First Families who pretend not to stare.
Eventually, their guide brings the group to a stop within a small courtyard. Before them is a tall and narrow building. Arched windows and wicked spires make the building appear more like a mausoleum than a place of higher learning.
“Welcome to the School of Antiquities!”
Pots, seems not at all taken aback by the corpses bleeding out on the dirt floor of his common room.
The party quickly assures that the Khovian will pay for the damages. This causes the scholar to pipe up, “But I have nothing with me. I’ll cover the damages later.” Gaia turns to the scholar and scowls. While Uber reminds the man that the three of them had just saved his life, it would be unfortunate to have to rescind that agreement.
Still the Khovian claims empty pockets. A nod from Uber has Gaia lifting the fool by the feet. Balasar joins in the sport taking one of the scholars spindly legs and together they shaking the truth out of him. Several pouches fall from inside his robes. A quick look from Uber assures everyone that does indeed have money to pay.
They reluctantly decide to let the leader of the the thugs go free. In Gaia and Uber’s experience it is best to avoid dictates of law when the Houses or Families are concerned. Not to mention Uber knows that the Hidden House does not look kindly to interrupted business.
That done, the party decides to make a visit to the Khovian scholars Master. Balasar accompanies them on the request of Pots to see that his interests are met accordingly.
The situation settled, Pots settles into clean up. Each wide, thickly callused hand grabs an ankle of one of fallen corpses and with a shrug of wide shoulders Pots slowly trods towards the front door. Steps even and methodical, this appears to be a chore oft done. As the party pass him by out of Muddy Pot’s they hear him mutter, “Well at least that dog will come in handy. Stew it is tonight.”
In short, following much innuendo and a few open threats, the party discovers that “Big-man” Boroway was approached by an unknown customer yesterday to collect the Khovian – dead or alive – and his relics.
This customer, who the thug guessed to be female, is described as a shadow-shaper (“The shadows seemed to stick to her”), having ebony-skinned hands tattooed with delicate, white webbing (“Some kinda spider bitch”).
Knowing that thugs typically do not hire out without a few coins in advance, Uber searches Boroway, finding a black velvet pouch containing a hand-full of platinum coins.
These coins have pressed on one side a pair of crossed scimitars bisected by a wicked looking flail. On the other side a demonic spider-face leers. Uber and Gaia seem taken aback by the symbols and refuse to confiscate them from the thug. Only Bluereth takes one out of interest.
Uber asks Boroway where he and his thugs were supposed to deliver the scholar and his relics. The thug replies, “Ha! She said she’d find us. That we’d not be able to find her and if we tried we swallow cold steel. Good luck boyos.”
When faced with this, the Khovian scholar is at first close-mouthed but with a gentle lift off the group care of Gaia, the man spills all he knows before she can drop him in a heap.
He goes on to say that was commanded by his Master to await a contact here at Muddy Pots to acquire relics. That he has had prior meetings with this contact for the last several weeks. The contact and him had planned a week ago to meet again last night. Strangely, he admits, his contact never met up with him last night and this man is not one to miss a party.
Further questioning reveals that the contact, who they find out is a member of the Builders, had brought to his Master’s attention ancient artifacts, potsherds, which his crew had unearthed from a worksite.
At this moment, the door to the back rooms opens to admit Pots himself, the establishments founder, followed by a massive figure that fills the open door. A stately, draconic visage clearly places him as a dragonborn. Bulging arms and heavy mail and greatsword peeking over his sholder marks him warrior caste. Noticing the bloody wrecks of the thugs, he winks at the golaith and intorduces himself as Balasar.
Not a moment after, a gang of rough-looking humans burst through the door.
At the lead is a square bulk of a man complete with swollen knuckles wrapped around the heavy shafts of a pair of iron-banded cudgels. Beside him is a lank man with even lankier hair clutching a chain with both hands. At the end of this chain is a monster of a dog, one Uber notes he has seen fighting in the Den of the Upper Ring. The leader and his five men wear open-chested vests and short pants made from rough-spun, dark material. By the cut of the garments and cudgels, Uber identifies this band as profession thugs, employed by the Guild.
Noticing the cloaked figure of Khovian scholar. We have business with him. Have you seen him?”, the leader calls toward him. “We are looking for a
Before any of them can answer, one of the big-man’s companions points out the huddled form under the table wearing Khovian robes.
“Ah, we seem to have found him. Don’t cause any trouble and you won’t get hurt. We’re just here for the Khovian.”
At this, Gaia still pretending to be asleep whispers to the Khovian, “How much is your life worth?”
A price for protection is given and accepted. Gaia lifts her head, nods and says, “He’ll pay for his life.”
At her statement, the gang of thugs spring to action.
Yet before any the thugs can react, Bluereth incants a flowing verse of ancient eldarin. The string of sibilant words seeped in fey enchantment. These enchanted words take on a life of their own, swirling around the thugs heads, mesmerizing them into a deep slumber. Most fall to the ground in a deep Sleep, only a couple of the thugs are wise enough to clap hands over ears and remain standing.
Taking advantage of this unusual situation, Uber makes quick work of his helpless foes with several well placed daggers to throats. He feels little remorse as he engages in the bloody work because he knows if things were reversed, they would show him the same gratitude. Only once, when faced with putting down the impressive beast of a dog, does his hand almost falter.
Although, two thugs still stand, the trio make quick work of them. The situation almost under control, they quickly proceed to bind the leader hand and foot with ropes before he wakes. Accomplished, Gaia wakes the burly thug by lifting him clear off the floor and then dropping him from a goliath-height.
With a thump and groan, the interrogation begins.
The party of acquaintances wake to hushed voices. However, it is not the voices themselves that pull the drink addled party sleep, but a deadly menace standing ready behind those unheard words. Instinct brings sleepy brains instantly awake.
By the sunlight coming through the narrow windows, it appears they have slept through to late morn. Most of the revelers have already departed from the common room with the exception of a few stragglers sprawled here and there on a bench or under a table. The room is in a state – platters of unfinished food and pots of beer crammed into every nook and cranny. The source of the voice that woke them, however, is nowhere to be seen.
Quieted voices start up again, and this time the group discern the source near the front entrance of Muddy Pots. with keen fey senses makes out some of the apparent conversation.
“Good…alive or dead”
The eladrin relates what he has heard to his new companions. They wake the Khovian scholar who is still pleasantly passed out snoring under the table. Gaia places a hand over his mouth and takes a hold of him, which wakes him in a startle. In hushed tones Uber relates the situation as quick as he. The Khovian is confused and says he doesn’t know what’s going on.
The party gets no further because at that moment they hear: “Lets get this done” accompanied by the low growl of a large beast.
This puts all of them into action. Gaia forces the Khovian under the table and takes up a pose to feint sleep. Uber rushes towards the door and finds a place of concealment under a table half way there. Following the direction of Uber, Bluereth takes up position at nearby table taking a seat, while acting nonchalant.