Chronicles of Khaldun: Bread and Circuses

Session 2

Waterday, Harvester 12, 552 CY (50 AN)

Croitus, Khuna, Nobody, Resh Burntscale, and Southie move behind the horde of gladiators as Ashraf Scarscale spurs them forward. When they reach the end of the hallway, there is a set of stone double doors that does not budge and does not bear any sort of lock or doorknob. Croitus strides forward, pushing through the crowd, and utters the phrase, “What is the center of the world?” A grinding sound emits from the door as its features shuffle and move, forming a face. It responds, “”/wikis/scandshar" class=“wiki-page-link”> Scandshar. What is the center of you?" Croitus responds, “My heart,” and the doors swing open.

While everyone is still recovering from their surprise at Croitus’ hidden knowledge, Ashraf goads the gladiators forward. As they rush forward into the hallway, the doors close behind them. All is quiet but for the tromping of feet for a few moments, until the man at the front of the line appears to panic. Inexplicably, he is pulled into the air, his screams strangely muffled as he begins floating. His skin starts to burn and a cloud of scarlet forms around him. As the torchlight glints in the hallway, the sheen of a blubbery cube that has formed around the man is visible, and a cry of, “Gelatinous cube!” is raised among the gladiators.

After acid burns suggest that their weapons are not terribly effective, Ashraf, Nobody, Resh, and Southie begin driving the thing back with torches. Croitus responds by setting one of the other gladiators aflame and then throwing his flaming body at the gelatinous cube; several gladiators then turn their attention from the gelatinous cube and instead begin advancing on Croitus, who responds by shouting the passphrase at the magic door and fleeing through them, fleeing back to the gladiator barracks with a small throng of gladiators at his heels. When he finally makes his way back to his own cell, he releases Thawtham’s corpse from a canopic jar to batter down the door while he attempts to avoid the blows of the enraged gladiators. When Thawtham smashes his door open, he dives into his prepared burrow, leaving Thawtham behind to fight off the gladiators before the revenant himself dives into the burrow. Croitus reabsorbs him into one of his canopic jars and then climbs through his secret tunnels into the sewers.

Meanwhile, the assembled party manages to melt the gelatinous cube to slag. As a small contingent of guards file out of the mess hall, Southie rushes forward to meet them, carving through their ranks. Resh sends a spear into the middle of them as Nobody rushes forward to engage, and as battle is joined, Ashraj notices a hidden trap in one of the walls. Shouting to his allies to duck, he throws his spear, he hitting the trigger and sending a thin blade at roughly neck-height blasting through the mortar of the stonework and through the necks of the assembled guards. As their headless bodies fall, the group scavenges equipment and moves forward.

Reaching another stone door, Ashraj attempts the passphrase he heard Croitus say, and is surprised to find that the door responds appropriately and opens. The group sees another contingent of guards apparently preparing for an engagement, forming a phalanx formation and sending arrows down the hallway. While Resh stays back and returns fire with a scavenged bow, Nobody and Southie rush forward into the fray as Ashraj cautiously hangs back and Khuna stays in place to treat the wounded. Their combined might — a plague of blood and dismemberment upon their foes — ends the battle with most of their opponents dead. Some few escape, although most of the runners are hunted and slain.

Khuna surprises the others when, having been injured in the fray, she slices the neck of a dead guard and laps up some of the blood, healing her wounds. Southie tearfully offers her a dismembered piece of flesh, calling her “Songbird.”

According to Khuna’s directions, as she has apparently determined a vague layout of the gladiator pits, the passageway to the left will lead to the armory, while the passageway to the right leads to the beast pens. As per their plan, the group decides to breach the armory.

Ashraj actives the magic door with the passphrase dialogue, and the group of gladiators spills inward, gathering weapons and armor. Once they are armed and armored, when someone hears boots tromping down the hallway, Southie rushes down the hallway to engage, and the mayhem is begun anew. He notes that a guard with rank is apparently leading them. As Ashraj, Nobody, and Resh join him, and Khuna provides support, Resh manages to kill the sergeant with an arrow before Southie can cut his way to him, and the rest of the guards are handily slain. Those who flee are chased down and killed. Feeling relatively confident in their tactics and victories, Ashraj again spurs the dwindling horde of gladiators forward, and they disappear through the door while Ashraj, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie decide their next move. Seeing movement amidst the bodies, Southie, having recoved his axe, slices through a rat. Given its state of decay, he determines it probably came from Croitus, and so regrets his decision. As partial recompense, they decide to harvest the sergeant’s brain for Croitus to devour later; Southie gets to work, removing the crown and placing the brain in a soldier’s helmet for easy carrying. Deciding to go forward, Ashraj spears to the door, uttering, “What is the center of the world?” and it responds, “Scandshar. What is the center of you?” Ashraj responds, “My heart,” and the doors swing open.

Greeted by another group of guards, this time having captured the remaining gladiators, the five fearsome and blood-drenched gladiators again make their assault, crashing into the phalanx of the guards who are swift to let their prisoners go to prepare for the assault. With everyone fully armed and armored, this battle is swift, decisive, and gruesome, resulting in the deaths of all guardsmen present. As Khuna directs the others that the passage to the left leads to the taskmaster quarters as well as other important people in the gladiator pits, while the right passageway leads to the guard barracks, Ashraj decides to booby trap the corridor. Ashraj and Resh work quickly to arranging pikes and punji sticks among the corpses, hopefully hidden enough so that any guardsman coming through will risk impalement.

Safely navigating the corridor, the group comes to a spiral staircase. The way up leads to the tunnels underneath the amphitheatres and the city streets of Scandshar, while down leads into the lower gladiator and slave pits. While the group debates its next move, they hear bootfalls on the lower stairs. Prompting Ashraj and Southie to head down to engage, the rest of the group follows and crashes into the guards, slowly cutting their way down the stairwell and through the column. However, Khuna and the few remaining gladiators still traveling with them hear footfalls coming from the upper stairs. Khuna presses herself against the wall as the remaining gladiators encounter the force from above — apparently being a contingent of Scandshar city guardsmen — crash into the few remaining gladiators and slaughter them to a man. Southie does an about face to face the Scandshar soldiers, while Ashraj dives through the column of guardsmen to gain access to the lower levels of the gladiator pits.

Faced with the prospect of fighting Southie, one of the Scandshar guardsmen dives back into the gladiator pit tunnel, shouting for help and assistance. Southie quickly catches up to him and cleaves him apart, silencing his cries. As he returns to the stairwell, however, a cold mist is seeps from the passageway behind him.

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PsychicMayhem

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