Chronicles of Khaldun: Bread and Circuses

Session 3

Waterday, Harvester 12, 552 CY (50 AN)

Crawling through his tunnel into the sewers, Croitus takes a moment to get his bearings. He decides to take his reanimated rat and send it after Ashraf, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie so that he can gain some of the information they know, instructing it to sample the brains of the fallen as it moves through the tunnels. Content that he has eyes on the group, he begins wandering through the sewer tunnels in the hopes of finding some old catacomb or other. Meanwhile, as the rat feeds, memories that are not his begin to filter through his mind — hopes, dreams, military orders. The guardsmen are frightened, knowing that they take their orders from organized crime bosses, but as much as they are frightened of the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks, many are just of frightened of the likes of savages of Southie and Nobody, especially in their last moments.

After wandering for a while, he feels his hold over the rat suddenly fray and suddenly sever — the creature has been killed. He quickly finds and kills another rat, and then reanimates it with the same mission as before. As he wanders, more information filters into his mind, most notably that a guardsman has hidden a sack of 861 gp and an emerald worth 1,000 gp under the floorboards of his bedroom closet in his home at 87 East Somersby Way.

Wandering further into the sewers, Croitus finds a bit of tunnel obscured by debris. Pushing it aside, he sees a tunnel of older stonework leading into the darkness. He wanders down into the black, feeling that the walls turn from stone to cavern walls.

Eventually, he sees the flicker of firelight and the murmur of voices. He peeks into the tunnel to see that it opens into a much larger chamber. Apparently carved out of the natural stone of the cavern, but showing no tooling nor workmanship, the far end of the chamber bears a small flight of stairs leading upward into another tunnel. Flanking the room, and apparently supporting the ceiling of the location, are two statues of nude elven forms — female on the left, male on the right. Like the rest of the room, they are carved out of the very rock, but bear no tooling marks.

The source of the firelight and voices comes from the tent city that has apparently formed in this chamber. A variety of humanoids, their state of dress suggests they are members of Scandshar’s homeless population. Their general agitation suggests many of them are mentally disturbed. Croitus, wanting to have nothing to do with them, skirts throughout the shadows at the edge of the room, although one man spots him, commenting that the poor creature is dead already but does not yet know it. Croitus grabs a stick from nearby debris, gets some rags for the end, and lights it to create a torch. He then ascends the stair into the darkened tunnel.

Walking to the end, he sees a set of double doors, heavily rusted and pitted, and chained and locked shut. He decides to let his reanimated rat collapse so that he may reanimate another. He opens one of his canopic jars and summons the animated corpse of Thawtham to help him break the doors open. It takes a long time, but no one comes to stop him, so the dead goliath eventually breaches the doors.

The next room is a square sort of anteroom. The far side bears a circular, bronze, wheeled vault door. To the left of this door is a basin marked with an unknown rune and filled with black water. A bas-relief above the basin depicts a hooded and robed figure jabbing a dagger into a man’s mouth.

Croitus notices that a filthy boy, likely around eight years old and probably having detached from the group of homeless men, is now following him. Contemplating the mystical connotations of this situation, he seizes the child and proceeds to snap his neck before attempting to draw blood to pour into the basin. However, to his shock, the boy’s form twists into an horrific, tentacled creature. Croitus manages to leap out of the way as the creature lashes out, capturing Thawtham in its tentacles. The thing is busy enough with ripping Thawtham apart that Croitus has enough time to turn the wheel to the vault door, dash through it, and close it behind him. The vault door behind him also bears a basin to the left of it, bearing a glyph and filled with black water. The bas-relief above it depicts an eye made of several eyes. Ahead of Croitus is a hallway. He begins walking, but is aware of presences just outside of the light of his torch. As he continues to walk forward, he sees a pair of red pinpoints of light peer out of the gloom. As he investigates, the thing swoops forward — a being of living shadow — and touches him with a marrow-chilling cold. It also passes its extremity through his torch, snuffing it out. In the darkness, Croitus scrambles backward toward the vault door. He twists the wheel, opens the door — and bumps his snout against a solid stone wall. He bites his hand and bleeds into the basin, but nothing appears to happen. As the presences press inward behind him, he reaches into the basin, and finds it full of small, rubbery spheres roughly an inch in size or so. Quickly determining their nature in the dark, he throws some at the shades behind him, and as this seems to do no good, he reaches his claws behind the orbit of his eye. Working through the blinding pain of severing his own optic nerve with his fingernails, he manages to remove his own eye and place it in the basin as the spectral forms begin touching him with their chill arms. The vault door slams shut, and when he opens it again, it appears to lead into an open chamber. He closes the door behind himself, and flees forward through the darkness.

As he returns to the light of the tent-city, he sees the tentacled child-monster tearing through the homeless. He quickly scavenges an intact eyeball off a dead man, and flees back into the lightless cave tunnels leading back up to the sewer level.

Upon reaching the sewer, he takes a moment to pause and eat his own toe, which apparently makes him feel somewhat better. He then heads up into the street, finding himself in a more upper-class area of Scandshar. Sticking to the alleys, he wanders until he finds a small boutique. He summons his undead, one-armed dwarf, commanding it to breach the shop and return with clothes. It breaks through the window and returns with a lovely gown. He takes it, and ducking into an alley, changes clothes and sets about securing his new eye into his now-empty eye socket. Once that task is complete after about an hour, he decides to head over to the waterfront to find a seedy bar.

After some wandering, he comes to a bar down by the docks called the Troll and Fish. There are a few assorted patrons within, as well as the barkeep, a gang of ruffians, a male goliath, a male ogre, and a female half-elf with flaming red hair. Croitus receives several stares as he enters, but is otherwise unmolested as he approaches the bar and inquires about drinks. The half-elf at the bar asks what happened to him, as he looks quite disheveled — mismatched eyes, women’s clothing, various questionable stains — and he brushes off the question, inquiring about possible work instead. She counters with the fact that he looks like one of the gladiators in the arena, and that she understands there was some trouble in the pits earlier, so what is he really doing here? He questions her, and learns that no one appears to have escaped, although information is not terribly forthcoming.

Although she seems incredulous that he can do anything for her, he says that he has certain “unique” ways of gathering information. For a demonstration, he indicates he knows of a treasure at 87 East Somersby Way and says he will split it if she aids him; she summons the goliath as a bodyguard, leaves the ogre in charge, and decides to follow.

Upon reaching Somersby Way, she and her associate decide to keep a lookout while he breaches the house. A little townhouse, Croitus approaches the door, slips out of sight, and summons the one-armed dwarf. The dwarf knocks on the door and a woman answers — initially confused, she eventually determines something to be wrong and starts to close the door. Croitus commands the undead creature to force his way open, grapple her, and keep her from seeing him. The dwarf wrestles her into submission and keeps her facing a corner while Croitus dashes upstairs — to come face-to-face with a young girl. She immediately starts screaming, and Croitus leaves her to her horror, rushing into the master bedroom and prying up a floorboard in the closet. He pulls out the sack, rushes back downstairs, tells the dwarf to release the woman, reduces him back to his essential salts, collects him in his canopic jar, and flees, presumably to meet the others back at the Troll and Fish.

Reconvening at the Troll and Fish, Croitus reveals the sack containing 861 gp and the emerald. Since he might be a fugitive and should likely not move about freely, he says she will be able to more easily fence the emerald, so he agrees to give her the emerald and keep the gold pieces. She agrees, and says that will easily pay for his evening in a safehouse. She has some of her men smuggle him into a cart, drive him across town, and set him up in a safehouse for the night.

Meanwhile, Ashraf, Khuna, Nobody, Resh, and Southie are facing down the gladiator pit guards and the city guard as a mysterious mist seeps into the area. It quickly coalesces into a bald, robed man; Khuna immediately recognizes the whispered appearance of Lord Candle, a representative of the Illustrious Menagerie of Peacocks and a vampire. As Southie moves to react, the man commands him to sleep and he collapses into unconsciousness. The man then reaches out and lifts Nobody by her neck, threatening to snap it if they do not relent and agree to parley. Resh throws a spear that appears to merely bounce off the man’s flesh; the party decides to parley.

Khuna asks him why he would deign to serve this side of the conflict, and he replies that they are the winning side. Lord Candle then makes his bargain — the group can continue fighting and die horrifically, as will their masters and anybody connected to them, or they can return to their cells and wait in the hopes that his punishment will be merciful and they may be allowed to live. Khuna acquiesces first, and the others slowly follow suit. They are marched back to windowless cells in a solitary confinement portion of the complex, stripped naked, and thrown into the cells which are then closed and locked. With nothing else to do, most of them attempt to find some manner of sleep.



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