Late evening, Marketday, Dust Week, Delve Season 1008.
While Mavo retreated to study the Demon Book further, the remaining Heroes hurried towards the sound of chanting. As they approached along a corridor, the door ahead slammed shut.
Immediately Hethin charged the door, bursting it open. Beyond was a huge chamber, rising up in three tiers.
On the bottom level milled twelve Trollkin. Set into the wall facing the door were three grills, each with a pair of Dragon rifle-armed Skaven behind. A human warrior waited patiently on the stairs up to the next level.
The second level was dominated by a set of five crystalline tanks, each containing a human-sized figure. Behind the tanks was a low altar, around which four robed cultists danced, chanting wildly. Standing at the top of the stairs were Gatsha and the Dragonnewt from the Pythoness House ambush.
It was the upper level that drew the eyes of the Heroes, for here stood a giant, blackened hand. In the palm of the upraised hand stood Wuntad, crackling with chaotic energies. A short ladder led down from the palm and at the bottom was a troll warrior.
Undaunted, the Heroes launched their best ranged attacks at Wuntad. Hethin threw Ice Bolt with unerring skill. Javan invoked his destiny to loose a Dead-Eye bolt at Wuntad, unleashing a storm of Chaos energy that wreathed the deformed figure. The blackened hand curled into a fist around the deflated body of Wuntad.
Combat raged on the lower level. Hethin waded into the bands of Trollkin wielding his axe. Icel invoked his destiny to vault up to the second level where he could wreak vengeance on Gatsha. Yet, the sheer number of opponents started to wear down the Heroes.
Anstelle invoked her Mystic destiny to miraculously attempt to heal the Heroes, but the 53 Gods of Chance were against her. Her valiant attempt earned her the attention of the reborn Wuntad, once the hand opened up again. One mighty spell, and she was frozen on the verge of summoning her Eladrin ally.
The Heroes felt the tide of destiny turn against them. Javan succumbed to a hail of Dragon rifle bullets. Icel was ripped apart by the claws of the Dragonnnewt. Hethin reached the dubious safety of the stairs, only to be fatally pierced by the arrows of the Dragonnewt.
Meanwhile, Mavo desperately sought for clues in the text of the Demon's book. Suddenly the ground began to shake. Masonry crashed down from the ceiling. An overwhelming wave of Chaos washed over him.
Instinctively, Mavo ran for the surface, chased by a powerful sense of dread. As he pounded up the pitching stairs, he sensed a malevolent howl growing behind him. Just as the Temple collapsed upon him, he heard a distant shout;
Mavo sent a street urchin to fetch Javan. The merchant arrived at the same time as Anstelle wandered past with Ingwald. The sage had been drawn to learn what was happening outside the Malkioni Cathedral, but quickly fled when it became clear that the Heroes intended to enter Harmony Tower.
Javan sauntered up to the Guards, hoping to charm his way into the Tower. Hethin invoked his destiny to have the Guards arrest Javan immediately. The Ministry Guards hustled Javan inside, wary of his clockwork arm.
Seeing the rear door unwatched, the Heroes seized their chance. Hethin burst through the door as Anstelle created a diversion in front of the Tower. Mavo invoked his destiny to have Anstelle scamper quickly into the Tower. Despite Javan being wounded by the nervous Guards, Icel quickly slew one in a hail of javelins and Hethin smashed a wheel onto the other, impaling the Guard on the spokes.
Amulets from the slain Guards allowed the Heroes to pass a Magic Barrier with ease. Exploration led to a small suite of offices, and a door into the busy lobby. Mavo enticed a third Guard to leave the lobby and follow him. The Guard was questioned briefly, before Javan knocked him out.
The Heroes then hurried across the Temple Quarter to the Temple to the 53 Gods of Chance on the Street of a Million Gods. The Priestess claimed to knew nothing about Malleck. The Heroes believed her, but they were not prepared to abandon their only lead to Wuntad's current location.
Investigation of the Temple revealed a locked secret door in a side-chamber. Eventually, Hethin charged through the door, and sailed down the stairs beyond. Deep beneath the Temple the Heroes found a large chamber guarded by a vulture-headed demon.
Icel and Hethin evaded the Demon's claws and bolts of lightning, while Mavo searched the chamber. Icel quickly killed the demon, filling the chamber with acrid smoke as he burnt up the feathered creature.
As the warriors squabbled over dismembering the demon's carcass, Mavo read the disturbing book to the others. The details of the Final Ritual made uncomfortable reading.
Deeper into the Temple were more stairs leading the Heroes downwards. A sleeping chamber held a small bag of coins and some Truth-Rune potions. Then the Heroes heard the distant sound of chanting.
Early afternoon, Marketday, Dust Week, Delve Season 1008.
Over a late lunch at the Weary Traveller, Mavo recounted what he had learnt from his studies about how Heroes gain power through Heroquests. As the trio of Heroes discussed these ideas, Hethin resolved to become an Initiate of Urox.
Igrainne arrived at the inn with news for Icel. She had heard from his family, and could tell him more of the history of Ice Mourn. There was also a carved wooden ring and a riddle associated with the blade.
Mavo and Hethin headed to the Temple District on separate personal quests. On the way they encountered a group of servants who exchanged news about the recent spate of arson attacks in the city.
Hethin headed off to the Storm Temple to meet Olvaldir Great Claw the Uroxi High Priest. Hethin invoked his destiny to Initiate into the Cult of Urox. Meanwhile Mavo visited the Dragonnewt Temple, where he was taught the Draconic script by Eriope Talker Listener.
Icel wandered off to Oldtown to visit the Knights of the Pale. He found Euryclea, the newly promoted Knight he had met in the Temple of the Ebon Hand. The Knight agreed to help the Heroes when they attacked Wuntad in his Temple. Their discussions ended when the Knights were summoned to a Grand Muster.
Wandering back through the streets, Icel noticed a plume of smoke around the ornate Malkion cathedral tower. Closer inspection revealed a crowd of assorted Malkonian Priests, Knights and Mages dealing with the strangely-coloured smoke. Mavo invoked his destiny to have Icel spot the culprit in the crowd on onlookers.
It was Gatsha!
Icel set off in pursuit of the Tolling Bell Cultist. He invoked his own destiny to reveal an uncanny ability to track by scent, drooling frantically as he ran. Icel chased Gatsha through the streets, but when she darted into a house he lost the trail.
After briefly returning to the Knights of the Pale to leave a message for Euryclea, Icel trudged back to The Weary Traveller. On the way he passed the Midtown Ptoleum which was boarded up with official-looking notices.
Fearing for Ranisso, Icel tore off a notice, then hurried round the back to break in. Eventually, with Wulfrun's help, he was able to prise open the rear door and investigate the interior. There was blood on the floor that smelt of bariaur, there were signs of struggle and many of Ranisso's possessions were missing.
As Mavo and Hethin made their way back to The Weary Traveller they found the bridges into the Temple District being cordoned off by units of the City Watch. Mavo questioned one guard about what was happening, and ended up having his barrel seal recorded.
After a brief supper, the Heroes ventured outside again. They were dismayed to find that the Red Moon had risen. The Heroes rushed back to ensure that the Waning Star was still safe. Yet here was the Red Moon again, although now it seemed to be waning as it rose above the city skyline.
To avoid the blockades, the Heroes followed Hethin through the sewers and arrived undiscovered in the Temple Quarter. Following a hunch, Icel led them to the Harmony Tower, home to the Ministry of Harmony. The front entrance, facing the still-blackened Malkion cathedral, was teeming with guards and Priests.
The goods entrance, however, was much quieter. The Heroes watched the pair of guards and debated what to do next.
Late morning, Marketday, Dust Week, Delve Season 1008.
As Hethin charged into the room a cascade of furniture rained down upon him. Icel invoked his destiny so that when the minotaur burst out of the wardrobe that had engulfed him, he was inadvertently wearing a dress. Combat raged in the confined room.
Mavo showed catlike agility as he leapt about the room, while Icel quickly killed the guards. Javan invoked his destiny to have Hethin's axe break the straps on Frein's armour and leave the poor woman half-naked. Hethin was eventually overcome with a wave of shame. Javan knocked out the woman with his fist of bronze.
The Heroes were then able to question Frein, who revealed that Malleck had a secret chamber off the torture room. They let the woman go, but Hethin would not permit her to survive and killed her as she ran.
The Heroes ransacked much of the Temple, finding an assortment of items. Mavo was able to rescue a selection of books from the destruction.
A second exit from the Temple led to the remains of a Knights of the Pale patrol who had entered from the sewers. Icel was attracted to the vulnerable female warriors, but the Heroes allowed the Knights to take away their fallen.
A dungeon area contained a tortured Troll that had to be slain. Another cell contained a handful of emaciated prisoners. Mavo invoked his destiny to have a merrow animist present, who was very grateful for her rescue. These weakened captives were also sent out with the escaping Knights.
The last wing of the Temple featured a bizarre "maze" of coloured clouds. Mavo recalled that it had been described in the Codex of Virtues as a Deforming Maze, and the Heroes abandoned their attempts to navigate through it. Instead, they used one of Ranisso's Talismans to deconsecrate the Temple, set alight what they could, and returned to the surface of Ptolus fully satisfied with having cleansed another Chaos Temple.
Midmorning, Marketday, Dust Week, Delve Season 1008.
As Hethin charged down the stairs, Icel heard a banging at the main Temple doors and rushed upstairs to answer. Anstelle and Javan came inside to join the group. Icel then stayed topside to guard the doors.
Meanwhile Hethin invoked his destiny and frantically ripped apart the rug. Mavo wrestled the tapestry into a quiet bundle and stashed it into one of Anlaf's bags.
After a brief discussion of the state of the Red Moon, Hethin charged off to pursue the screams. Down two flights of stairs he found a poor woman being tortured by a hooded Priest. Her hideous screams matched her twisted, partially transformed body.
Hethin hewed at the High Priest, ignoring the feeble attacks of the two concealed Priests with crossbows. The other Heroes charge into the room, quickly slaying the evil cultists.
Mavo tried to save the tortured woman, but she was too badly mutilated and her doom could not be prevented. However, he found a letter from Wuntad on the body of the High Priest.
Further exploration of the Temple led to the sleeping quarters complex. Hethin charged through the crude barricade and trampled one of the guards. Three more guards fought doggedly, but were slain by the Heroes. Anlaf invoked his destiny to bind the Priestly leader with Shadow Bind, before kicking him to death. Anstelle and Anlaf then took trophies of woman's clothing and Javan found an ornate suite of padded armour in an armoury.
Hethin led the Heroes down a long corridor. A door opened into a curiously-shaped chamber where a female warrior taunted Hethin as she hefted her great axe.
"So, fools," she sneered. "Are you ready to meet your Maker?"
After securing the Waning Star in its new home, the Heroes were overwhelmed with fatigue from their travels and retired for the night.
The next morning, they met in the Weary Traveller for breakfast. Anlaf left quickly to search for Panope, and found her recovering at the Ghostly Minstrel. Meanwhile Mavo and Hethin planned their next step.
Mavo led the Heroes to the Dragonnewt Temple to consult with Kurigalzu. The Priest offered more cryptic hints, seeming to confirm their pursuit of the Ebon Hand.
Anlaf led the Heroes to the small Ebon Hand Temple. The rogue entered the Temple alone, blinking in the gloomy interior. In the centre of the small shrine stood a statue of an ebon hand, candles burning dimly atop each digit.
A cowled Priest emerged from a back room, then ushered Anlaf into the small room to talk. Despite the Priest's sympathetic words, it was a trap. As the Priest reached for his morning star, Anlaf threw Shadow Bind over him.
Mavo invoked his destiny to hear Anlaf fighting and sent Hethin and Icel charging to the rescue. Despite one guard impaling Icel to the ebon hand statue, Hethin quickly dealt with the guards, throwing one of them at the other. Anlaf invoked his destiny to have the guard in his room surrender. The rogue then sat on the netted Priest, taking him prisoner.
Filled with fury, Hethin immediately slew the captured Priest. Mavo questioned the hysterical guard as Icel and Hethin destroyed the Ebon Hand statue. The guard led Mavo to a trapdoor down to the lower levels, but Hethin killed the guard as Mavo was leading him out of the Temple. As the guard died, he cursed Mavo for breaking his word to protect him.
The Heroes slowly descended the stairs, but once Hethin heard the distant screams, he charged ahead. As he ran through a small entry chamber, a bell-laden rug and tapestry threw themselves noisily upon him.
Mid-afternoon, Farmday, Dust Week, Delve Season 1008.
The wave of chaos energy faded away. Leneth's bow rang loudly as it dropped to the floor. It was now made entirely of glass. Javan's clockwork arm and eye ceased to function, drained of power by the wave.
Mavo and Anlaf were plucked out of the Riddle Door Chamber and brought to the Bell Hall. The Hall had been transformed by the chaos energy into a riot of colours and materials. Mavo and his desk "stood" on one wall of the Hall, while Anlaf was trapped within an ivy pillar.
Javan returned to Ptolus to repair his broken attachments. Mavo jumped from his desk and floated for a moment in mid-air, before Hethin pulled him down. The minotaur hewed down the ivy pillar and freed Anlaf, who was dismayed to be separated from Panope. After a brief orientation for the bemused Anlaf and Mavo, the Heroes explored the remains of the glyph chamber.
The exploding chaos glyphs had wrought further devastation on the chamber, and severely melted the bronze doors. Mavo discovered the remains of a combination lock, but it was fused solid. Hethin charged door, bursting it open.
Beyond was the silver Waning Star on a pedestal and a skeletal dragon that immediately spat acid at Hethin. Icel invoked his destiny to leap onto the dragon's neck as Mavo snatched Hethin's comforter away from the Minotaur. Hethin grabbed the Waning Star and with a single mighty blow shattered the dragon's skull.
Victorious, Hethin invoked his destiny to secure his reputation as a "Dragon Slayer". Icel retrieved the precious Waning Star and led the Heroes out of the Abados. Yet as soon as they returned to the Memory Vaults the artefact vanished once more.
Returning to the Abados, the Heroes found the Waning Star back on its pedestal. They experimented with taking the Waning Star past the Bell. This caused the Bell to chime loudly and the Waning Star resisted the approach towards the source of raw Chaos beyond.
Eventually, Mavo examined the troublesome pedestal and interpreted the sorcerous writing as a summoning spell of some type. Hethin and Icel took turns at hitting the pedestal, successfully destroying it and the Chaos Rune concealed within. The Heroes rushed back to the Memory Vaults and were jubilant when the Waning Star remained in Icel's hands.
Returning to the surface of Ptolus, it was now evening. Icel led the Heroes to the Midtown Ptoleum where Ranisso was overjoyed to see the Waning Star. However, the bariaur refused to store the artefact in his Temple. Instead, he accompanied the Heroes to the ruined monastery where Icel returned the Waning Star to its original location. Ranisso re-blessed the monastery and Anlaf commanded Feldspar to guard the Waning Star.
Far away in the Winter Palace on Arborea, Count Hollowgrin summoned Hawksblood to his chambers. Hollowgrin knew that Hawksblood was the illegitimate son of the King, and he persuaded the dancing master to reveal this fact to embarrass the ageing King Ludomir. Yet, when Hawksblood danced, he only managed to acknowledge his paternity without unduly embarrassing the King. Lady Jalennis, Hawksblood's mother, was angered to have the identity of his father made public.
King Ludomir sought to exile Jalennis, but she refused. As they argued, Hollowgrin burst into the Royal Chambers and urged the King to be cautious. The King accepted the Count's advice, and suspended the order for exile.
Infuriated, Jalennis sent her plant servants to seize Hawksblood, bound him to the Silver Tree and demanded that he quite dancing. Hawksblood refused. Likewise, Queen Sarastra was angered at the King's infidelity being thrown in her face, and demanded that the King exile Hawksblood. The King refused to be parted from his son, and commanded a Ball to be held the next night to soothe tempers and raise the status of the dancing master.
The next morning Count Hollowgrin suggested that Hawksblood give another public performance. Hawksblood refused to advance Hollowgrin's plans again. Jalennis confronted Hollowgrin over his scheming, but the Count bought her support with vague promises of future titles.
Hawksblood warned the King that the Queen and Hollowgrin conspired against him. However, Jalennis used her position as the King's former lover to argue against Hawksblood. The King sided with Jalennis and dismissed the warning. He commanded the Queen to dance the opening dance of the Ball with Hawksblood. The Queen agreed only if the King participated too, making the dance a trio.
At the Ball, the Royal couple danced with Hawksblood. This gave Jalennis and Count Hollowgrin a chance to talk in secret. Jalennis confessed that Hawksblood was not her son, but was won in a card game from Lady Sorreminx. She urged Hollowgrin to kill the King, and agreed to provide him with poisonous herbs. The scheming Hollowgrin took this information to the Queen and they planned together to frame Jalennis for the death of the King.
Hawksblood warned Jalennis that Hollowgrin was planning to kill them both. The pair danced around the ballroom, avoiding Hollowgrin as he searched for them. Yet the Queen overheard their talk and Hawksblood accused her of conspiring to usurp the throne. The Queen suggested that Hawksblood should flee the Court, and the dance master reluctantly agreed, even at the cost of never obtaining his father's approval.
At the end of the Ball, Hawksblood revealed his true parentage to the King, and told the shocked King of Hollowgrin's conspiracy. The King sent Hollowgrin to the Well of Night. When the Queen protested that the King had been duped, the King refused to believe her.
The next morning, as Hawksblood prepared for exile, Hollowgrin sent Sir Rujan of the Barnacle Tree to fight the dancing master. Hawksblood was no match for the bullying duellist, and was slain beneath the Silver Tree.
As Jalennis and the King wandered through the Pale Garden, they found Hawksblood's body. Lady Sorreminx, in the entourage, confessed that Hawksblood was an unwanted child. Mistress Gossamer tried to claim the body for her undead servants, but the distraught King decreed the body be animated and kept in the Ballroom as an eternal dancer.
The Queen met Hollowgrin in the Well of Night, and plotted to kill the King. Lady Marrowsilk used sorcery to break Hollowgrin out of the Well of Night. Count Hollowgrin challenged the King to a duel, a frantic fight that raged back and forth. After the final blow, Hollowgrin defeated the King, who thereby lost status and was forced into exiled to the Tower of the Moon. Yet, Hollowgrin was wounded too, and unable to force the Queen to appoint him Prince of the Palace and a share of the throne.
Her Celestial and Royal Majesty Queen Sarastra Aestruum thus became sole ruler of the Winter Palace. Her first act was to imprison Jalennis within the Silver Tree.
After a brief discussion, the Heroes agreed that they needed a Kagrisos Amulet to activate the Portal, and thus should return to the giant statue. Retracing their steps, they were surprised to find Panope chatting with Leneth in the Riddle Door room. After a quick recap of Leneth's doings, Panope related what she had learnt from Cipher about the Riddle Door.
Mavo stayed to make an annotated sketch of the Riddle Door. Anlaf, overcome with jealousy, simply refused to leave Panope. Leneth accompanied the Heroes as Icel led them back to the huge statue of a minotaur head. Javan activated the lever, and Icel moved like the wind to snatch the Kagrisos Amulet from the jaws of the statue, and still make it back through the secret door before it closed.
At the runed pillars, the Heroes inserted the Amulet and a shimmering Portal appeared between the pillars. They could now see a small chamber through the multicoloured Portal, rippling as if seen through a waterfall. Sensing strong Chaos beyond, Hethin rushed through, followed by the other Heroes.
Opening the circular hatches in the small entry chamber caused a curious clanking sound. The third hatch revealed a promising tunnel, and the Heroes opened the door at the far end.
Here was a huge pillared room with a wide balcony opposite them. Three corridors led off from the room, but it was the floating bell radiating chaos that seized their attention. Cautiously, the Heroes scanned the shadows, and spotted several spindly bipedal ants waiting to ambush them. These Red Myrmidons offered little resistance, but during the combat the Heroes realised that their abilities worked slightly differently in the Abados. Everything seemed more random, especially magic.
Hethin looked down one of the side corridors and saw a room full of floating Chaos rune glyphs. Overwhelmed by the chaotic auras, Hethin burst into a berserk rage. Hurriedly, Anstelle tripped up the raging minotaur and Javan knocked him out with his sparkling fist of bronze. Wulfrun stayed with the unconscious minotaur in the Bell Chamber.
Meanwhile the other Heroes explored a different corridor. Icel turned a corner to find himself attacked by himself. Icel lost the clash of Headsmashes, and then the second Icel began to change forms as more Heroes attacked. After a brief flash of being Javan, the doppelganger returned to being Icel just in time to be killed. Icel moved fast to harvest a duplicate of his own head.
This corridor led to some abandoned of living chambers. Javan found a chest containing some valuable jewellery and Anstelle found Dyr's cryptic diary in the study. Hethin set light to the library, until Anstelle noticed and single-handedly doused the flames. The other Heroes explored a tall chamber with a levitating platform that rose up to a series of benches bearing assorted failed experiments that sought to combine creatures with elemental matter.
Anstelle remained in the library studying the scorched scrolls. The other Heroes explored the third corridor off the Bell Chamber. This led to an area of even greater chaotic influence, with a corridor of oily liquid that changed from steaming hot to cool far too quickly. Icel spotted a powerful wall of chaotic energy, but the Heroes decided to try another corridor.
Standing well back, Leneth tried to shoot out the floating Chaos glyphs in the small chamber. His first attempt at Far Arrow sparked a random effect that resulted in first Wulfrun and then Icel losing a random limb. After a moment's panic, the limbs suddenly reattached themselves.
On a second attempt, Leneth detonated one of the Chaos runes, that then triggered a massive chain reaction. A huge wave of chaos energy filled the larger Bell Chamber, and filtered down to Leneth. Suddenly the elf burst like an iridescent bubble and completely vanished.
Midmorning, Farmday, Dust Week, Delve Season 1008.
The Heroes talked to Cipher, but learnt little to help them, for he insisted that the Heroes had to earn their rewards. Icel inspected the Riddle Door and spotted an opening in the middle of the door the same shape as the onyx amulet Anlaf had taken from the tomb. When the amulet was placed in the door, a riddle appeared on the door itself.
Hethin quickly solved the riddle, and Cipher told them how to touch the amulet and speak the answer to open the door. Thus, the Riddle Door pivoted back to reveal a short corridor. Panope stayed with Cipher in case the Door closed on the Heroes.
The room beyond the Door had three more doors and a huge carved mask that resembled one of the panels on the Riddle Door. The first door opened to the Skaven's dusty living quarters. The next door was locked, but Hethin burst through to the store room beyond.
Anstelle tried looking through the eye sockets of the mask. First she saw Mavo walk into the Chamber alone, even though he was already within the room. Looking again she was enthralled to be staring into the eyes of a True Dragon. The mighty Mystic being graced her with a flash of enlightenment. Mavo invoked his destiny to have the True Dragon command Anstelle to attend a second meeting with an Avatar.
Meanwhile Icel opened the final door into the large Scriptorium. As he entered a creature made of scrolls appeared. Although bipedal, the creature had no head, instead faces writhed over the insubstantial scrolls that formed its limbs and body. Combat raged and the creature eventually succumbed to Ice Mourn's abilities.
Javan explored the various workbenches, frames and desks of the Scriptorium. He found a bell amulet on one desk, and an Alchemy scroll on another. Mavo and Anstelle carefully transcribed the scroll into Jrusteli. Anlaf peered through the eyes on the mask and saw the skaven librarian walk past him, carrying an armful of scrolls.
Javan hurried back to the Riddle Chamber and inserted the fresh amulet into the door. This riddle was easily solved, and the Riddle Door pivoted back a different way. The Heroes hurried into the chamber with two doors. The door ahead revealed a short piece of corridor ending in a magical wall of darkness.
Hethin used his Darksense to penetrate the darkness, and was able to carefully negotiate the narrow maze within. Beyond the darkness he found a small chamber with a pair of runed pillars. He sensed that this was a portal to elsewhere, although it was currently inactive.
Icel summoned his Alynx Spirit to guide him carefully through the darkness, yet he was not alone. Two Darkness Elementals attacked the Albian as he balanced in the pitch black. Ice Mourn struck again, wounding one with flames that burnt black in the darkness. Anstelle tried to crawl to his aid, but found the narrow pathways too daunting.
Javan invoked his destiny to be able to see the Elementals within the darkness. He then slew one with a Fury bolt, causing the second to flee and lifting the darkness. Anstelle and Icel blinked suddenly as light flooded the chamber.
Midmorning, Farmday, Dust Week, Delve Season 1008.
Gingerly, Anstelle lowered the Bone Crown onto her head. Hethin invoked his destiny to have the crown link to Icel's Skull Throne. Anstelle experienced a strange sense of being in two places at once, then removed the crown.
Javan opened the far door in the Pillared Hall and found a short piece of corridor with two more doors. One door was inscribed with a glowing Death Rune. Anstelle used her Mystic Rune to eventually overwhelm the arcane trap. Hethin burst through the old wooden door to find a small tomb, with another Death Rune hovering over the small sarcophagus.
Javan read the inscription on the top of the tomb, solved the riddle and the Death rune vanished. Hethin heaved open the stone sarcophagus, revealing a dead Skaven wearing an onyx amulet. Anlaf grabbed at the treasure and the Skaven rose up to reclaim its amulet.
While the combat raged in the Tomb, Hethin, Icel and Wulfrun opened the other door to activate a mechanical scythe trap. Mavo invoked his Destiny to have the bronze scythes feature screaming faces.
The fight in the Tomb started poorly, with the Skaven Wight drawing power from the Heroes, until Anlaf once again invoked his destiny to have Javan punch away the Wight's lower jawbone. Dragon Tongue and Panope both took powerful hits before Javan used his bronze fist to smash apart the Wight's skull. Anstelle then discovered an interesting text in the bottom of the Skaven's sarcophagus.
Meanwhile Icel discovered that simply running over the moving scythes did not evade the whole trap. From a hole in the ceiling emerged a growing number of Howling Skulls. Icel and Hethin began attacking the scythes, while successfully destroying any of the skulls that emerged. Icel invoked his Destiny to have Hethin smash several of the screaming scythes.
Anlaf arrived to block up the hole in the ceiling with an icy skull. Javan invoked his Destiny to rapidly hit several of the scythes with his repeating crossbow. Meanwhile Mavo made use of his Healing Spirit and healed a badly injured Panope.
Finally, Hethin opened up the second door in the Scythe Chamber and quickly knocked down the lever within, disabling the scythes. The new room was a study, with a desk, comfortable chairs and shelves. The far wall was dominated by an beautiful door inlaid with ten bronze relief carvings. In the centre of the room was an ornate minotaur head made from beautiful wooden panels. As Hethin stepped into the room, the head came to life.
Late afternoon, Godsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Anstelle spent her evening with Ingwald, first having her skin-patterning copied down. Then she led him to the Temple of Adamantine Truth Redoubtful, where Eshunu Melds the Flesh conducted the Ritual of the Hero Reborn on her, and transformed her Divine Rune to the Mystical "Hungry Wolf" Rune. Ingwald made a second copy of her enhanced dragonscale skin, then showed her how to read Ophidian, the secret script hidden within serpentine skin. She was amazed to discover that her first patterning was an alchemical recipe for Healing Salves.
Meanwhile Javan treated the Heroes at the Captain's Table to a sumptuous supper. Icel used his evening to rebuild his relationship with Panope.
The next morning, Anstelle invoked her destiny to have Dragon Tongue accompany her permanently. The cat was eager to follow Anstelle on her journey to enlightenment, and agreed.
When the Heroes met up at the Weary Traveller for breakfast they were amazed at the transformation of Anstelle's skin and her new Divine Rune. Icel collected Panope from the Ghostly Minstrel and brought her back to the Weary Traveller. Icel agreed with Panope that she would accompany them to Kagrisos' Library in exchange for a share of the treasure.
Panope told the Heroes about Kagrisos and the Undercity, but refused to accompany the Heroes to the City University Library. Mavo invoked his destiny to have Panope fall for Anlaf's charming smile. After a brief discussion, the Heroes chose to investigate the Undercity.
Once in the Undercity Market, the Heroes walked to the Mirror Maze. Hethin invoked his destiny to recall Ibanion's detailed description of how to navigate the magical maze of metal mirrors. One by one, the Heroes successfully made their way through the maze.
The Heroes quickly found the room with the huge statue of a minotaur's head. As soon as they walked into the chamber, the mouth of the statue creaked open. When Mavo placed the Amulet of Kagrisos within the open mouth, a secret door opened and the mouth closed.
After Icel experimented with a lever, the Heroes left the secret door open and advanced down the stairs. Beyond the door was a pillared hall with six skeletal warriors waiting in alcoves. Icel bounced off the pillars and Hethin used the flat of his axe to knock the head of one skeleton onto the shoulders of a different skeleton. With the aid of Javan's stirring speeches, the Heroes made short work of the skeletons.
Early afternoon, Godsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
By the time Icel had finished his story, the Heroes were onto their second drink at the Weary Traveller. The Heroes were further shocked to see the changed appearance of Javan, when he returned from his extended surgery at the Foundry. Along with a blinding headache the merchant had a metal plate over part of his face and a bronze arm. Javan retired to the Captain's Table and Icel decided to stay and chat with Vitruvius.
Meanwhile, the remaining Heroes followed Anstelle to the Temple of Arangorf Talker Listener in the Temple District. On the circular Meditation Way the Heroes found a curious statue of a dragon's head eating its own tail, thought to represent Ouroboros, the Cosmic Dragon. Mavo climbed up the old statue, and was amazed to find that it was the oldest thing that he had seen in Ptolus.
Anstelle then led the Heroes into the ziggurat temple, where the Azer guard led them to Eriope an Achean Mystic. Mavo invoked his destiny to have Eriope invite them to a meal, while Anlaf invoked his destiny to have Eriope know Hethin. The minotaur was shocked to find Falgerde's sister in a Dragonnewt temple, but Eriope was very different from her shrewish sister.
Eriope introduced Anstelle to Kurigalzu Talks to Mortals, a Dragonnewt Priest missing his left forearm. The dragonnewt was very interested in Anstelle, and led her down to the Egg Chamber where she was shown a curiously small egg with a familiar marble pattern. Kurigalzu also suggested that the gnome might like to undergo the Ritual of the Hero Reborn at the nearby Temple of Adamantine Truth Redoubtful, where she could exchange her Law Rune for the more alchemical Mystic Rune known as the Hungry Wolf.
Kurigalzu also had some cryptic lessons for Mavo regarding his Kagrisos amulet. Departing the Temple to Arangorf Talker Listener, Anstelle headed alone to the Temple to Adamantine Truth Redoubtful. She was able to make arrangements to take the Ritual of Hero Reborn in a few hours.
The remaining Heroes headed to the Captain's Table, but were stopped by a group of Ptolan adolescents with bodyguards. Anlaf impressed them by summoning Feldspar and Hethin presented them with Fury Rune pictograms.
Everyone met back at the Captain's Table, along with Javan who was still hurting from the Shuul operation. A runner was sent for Ingwald, who presented them with his answers to their latest question. After much debate, it was decided to investigate the Library of Kagrisos as a route to the Abados. Ingwald was keen to have the Temple of Deep Chaos tapestry delivered to the Temple of Lhankor Mhy. He explained to Anstelle that her dragonscale skin could be read by the wise, and agreed to teach her the technique in exchange for rubbings of her skin.
Mid-afternoon, Marchday, Hunt Week, Dark Season 1006
"So Octavius pried the gems out of the throne, much good they did him in the end. We healed up a bit, then hurried to the sound of the Tolling Bell. BIG mistake that was, but nobody listened to me. We met up with Herminius and his Dwarf bodyguard Lucius, or Lucien, or something. They had just arrived in the Caves, so joined my Strike Team.
"Recklessly, they all charged into this Chaos Temple, and I had to follow them. There were hordes of zombies, and an army of skeleton warriors. Two of the zombies were ringing a huge bell that gave us all a terrible headache. There were a couple of Cultists in front of a freaky tapestry showing hobbits shagging Chaos Demons, or something. Then there was an altar with a troll slumped over it.
"Finally, protected by half the undead, was the High Priest of Chaos, who must have been Wuntad, I guess. While we attacked, he just laughed, and invoked dark tendrils to attack us. Looking back, a direct assault may not have been the best tactic, but we were young . . "
Anstelle experienced another coughing fit.
"No, really, this Priest, Wuntad or whoever, was just toying with us. Herminius started well turning some of the undead, and we managed to silence that infernal Bell, but we were soon swamped. There must have been a dozen of them on me, and there is a limit to how many even I can hack to pieces. As Wuntad laughed, his undead took us down one by one.
"In the end, I bravely saved Faustinius, but the others were zombie-meat. I retreated with the body of the Priest, healed us up as best I could with his healing kit, and then we decided that the only honourable thing to do was to recover the other bodies.
"Only when we went back, Wuntad had beaten us to it and raised Herminius, Lucius and even Octavius as zombies. Just one look told me it was useless. I beat off zombie Herminius who was feasting on the Elf's brains, and claimed her head. That's where the collection started, although her skull is a little chewed!"
Anstelle slowly shook her head.
"Anyway, we reported back to Vitruvius, who lead an Assault on the Caves the next day. When we got there, the Temple was deserted, except that there was a decaying Portal leading to a city with a tall Spire. So Wuntad escaped, but I will catch that craven whoreson next time!"
"Then I decided that I wanted to try out some dwarven weapons, so we trekked back to the Vicus for some trading. Herminius stayed at the Fort with the gold, while I traded for a dwarven greataxe. This was before Ice Mourn had revealed any special abilities.
"Back at the Caves, the next room we found was full of zombies, just packed full of them. They overwhelmed poor Faustinius, but I slew most of them, despite taking a few wounds. Octavius carried off the body of Faustinius, while I held off the remaining few zombies, to save the others.
"We made it back to the Fort and took Faustinius to the Garrison, where he was healed by the Army surgeon. But Octavius had been up to his usual tricks, and had taken Faustinius' coin pouch as payment for rescuing him
"Now, Faustinius, as a Dwarf, was not so keen on parting with his gold, so first he used magic on Octavius to force him to hand back the gold. Except that Octavius had spent one gold piece on a large meal for the two of us at our inn. Of course, the hobbit ate most of it, but there was still a bit left for me. Anyway, Faustinius then called the watch, and had Octavius arrested.
"Next morning I had to visit Vitruvius again and use my great skills at oratory to . . ."
Anstelle experienced a sudden burst of coughing.
"No, I did! I just had to convince the Centurion that I could vouch for the hobbit's behaviour, pay off his debt and then lead the strike team back to the Caves of Chaos.
"So there we were, back in the Caves. I led us into an unexplored part of the Caves, where Octavius found a room full of Skeleton guards. Once again, I charged into battle, smashing apart the skeletal warriors. Hithfreraar . . Hethfris. . . The Elf lost the use of her Shocking Grasp spell somehow, cast it badly because she was thinking about how great a warrior I was, probably. Faustinius used his holy magic to help a little, but it was all about how many I could smash to pieces with the mace.
"Once I had cleared the room, Octavius spotted some promising jewels on the throne, but then an ominous bell began to toll."
Icel turned to the other Heroes, and told them the tale of his first meeting with Vitruvius.
"It was Dark Season, a couple of years ago and the Trolls had been raiding my Uncle's stead. This was unusual for the Shadow Tree Trolls, so Uncle Aethalric sent me, and a hobbit servant, to the nearby Pavian Fort to co-ordinate a response.
"Vitruvius was Centurion at the Fort. He was all ready with a Strike Team, and jumped at the chance to have me lead his small band into the Caves. Oh, there were a couple of Priests and an Elf Wizardess, but they clearly needed a proper warrior to lead them. I took Octavius, my servant along too, as there was no way I was leaving him in the Vicus to get into trouble.
"This gnome scout led us to the head of Shadow Tree valley, and we sneaked down to the Caves where Vitruvius said the Cultists were hiding. Looking back, I should have realised that as they were Tolling Bell Cultists, it was going to get ugly, but we hurried in anyway.
"First Octavius found some zombies, which I slew. He managed to steal some zombie hands after the Wizardess blasted one with lightning, that uhm. . . Well, I was about to slay that one!
"By Orlanth, you won't believe how much trouble Octavius caused with those hands. He LOVED those hands. There was this one time in Sun Season, with these two Gnome shopkeepers, when he . . ."
Anstelle cleared her throat loudly.
"Sorry, yes, the Caves. Anyway, then Octavius found a roomful of Cultists. Mmmm, must have been ten or twelve of those. And I slew all of them. Faustinius, the Dwarf Cleric tried to question one about this Troll Queen, but he didn't know nothing, so he slew him. Damn, you should have seen that poxed flap-dragon run, with the Dwarf chasing him with his warhammer, before he, uh, I slew the Cultist.
"Then there was another corridor, and then Hithfae. .. Hethfraer . . . The Elf found ANOTHER room of Cultists, all arguing about Demons, or Chaos, or something. Anyway, we all burst in, I burst in, led the charge and we slew all of them. That is, I slew them all, while the others cast a few spells to help, and stuff.
"Then it was time to rest up a bit, as I counted up the treasure, and Herminius, the Solar Priest handed out healing and generally kept me in top fighting condition!"
Anstelle rolled her eyes in disbelief.
"No really," Icel insisted. "That was EXACTLY how it happened."
Midmorning, Godsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
As the Heroes began to descend the fire-blackened stairs, Anstelle hurried down from the White House to meet them. Then a gargoyle stepped out of the walls, and only Anlaf's quick intervention avoided battle. Anlaf introduced the gargoyle as Feldspar, his new Follower, then sent the stone elemental back to a rooftop perch.
As the Heroes climbed down the stairs, the bitter stench of burning grew much worse. At the bottom the Heroes found a carpet of melted insectoid matter, topped with a thick, creaking crust. Icel laid down a rough layer of wooden boards to support the Heroes as they walked.
The lower levels of the Biopod had been burnt away, leaving only five pillars of exoskeleton as supports. The upper levels of the Biopod were less damaged, and leaked Chaos Energy that arced around the Chamber. Higher still, there even seemed to be bits of the scaffolding remaining.
Anstelle attacked an exoskeleton pillar with her alchemy. Mavo invoked his destiny to have the swirling Chaos energies avoid Anstelle as she worked. Yet, she was still ambushed by a pair of Air Elementals. A huge intimidating explosion kept the Elementals at bay as Anstelle fled back to the waiting Heroes. The Air Elementals followed, buffeting the gnome with their Howling Winds.
Mavo used his healing to keep Anstelle conscious. Meanwhile, Javan leapt onto the back of the flying Anlaf and used the increased height to slay one of the shimmering Elementals. Anlaf then invoked his destiny to have Mavo call forth a War Spirit to chase off the remaining Air Elemental.
Cautiously, the Heroes resumed attacking the exoskeleton pillars from outside the Biopod Chamber. Javan, Anstelle and Mavo combined to break down three of the five pillars, enough to cause the entire structure to collapse in a mighty ball of flame and Chaos energy. The Heroes sprinted up the winding stairs, pursued by the rolling explosion.. Panting heavily, they reached the shelter of the Necromantic Lair, suffering nothing more than singed clothes.
Outside in the bright sunshine, the Heroes considered their next move. Anstelle pondered on the meaning of the strange statues in the Temple of Deep Chaos as Mavo healed Anlaf.
Javan hurried off to the Temple of Teun to meet with the Shuul Technicians. Manny and Cog led him to the smoking Foundry in Guilder's Quarter, where he was taken to a white-tiled room. A silent Inevitable waited for them, its fingers replaced with gleaming scalpels. Javan allowed himself to be strapped down onto the table, and the Technicians went to work to cleanse his flesh.
Meanwhile, the remaining Heroes trekked across Oldtown to the marble Pale Tower, home to the angelic Malkuth. The Elven Guard at the silver gates would not allow the Heroes into the Tower, but took notes regarding the Eladrin feather that Anstelle carried. The Guard promised to pass along her details to Asaiel, who would contact them later.
Anstelle then led the Heroes into the Temple District, heading for the Dragonnewt Temple. They were stopped by a Dwarf shouting a greeting to Icel. The Albian was amazed to see Vitruvius in Ptolus, and Icel proceeded to relate the circumstances of their first meeting.
The Heroes regrouped in the deserted casino of the Cock Pit. Anlaf recognised the sound of approaching Watch whistles. Abandoning the Rune children, the Heroes retreated into the back office of the Cock Pit. Javan quickly spotted a hidden door, and the Heroes escaped into the night.
Hethin was hindered by the heavy amphora, and was spotted by a detachment of the Ptolus Watch, who gave chase. Mavo slowed to help the minotaur, finding a promising doorway through which to flee. Hethin threw the amphora at the approaching Watch, drenching the alley in oil, before following Mavo through the building.
Safely back at the Weary Traveller, Mavo read the Codex of Virtues, shocked at the catalogue of "civilised" debauchery. Mavo then invoked his destiny to compile a Scroll of Demonic Virtues from the Codex. Meanwhile, Icel visited Ranisso, where he learnt of Javan's options for redemption and then blackmailed the Kaleidoscope acolytes for some debauchery of his own. Hethin returned to the Docks, were he learnt much from Farbjorn.
Later that evening, the Heroes followed Anlaf to the Red Hammer in South Market to meet Hogni the Raven. Mavo was reluctant to hand over the evil Codex to the Balacazars without assurances for its destruction, but was intimidated out of further obstruction. Hethin and Icel thus had their debt to the Balacazars cancelled. Wandering through the darkened streets, Anlaf invoked his destiny to awaken a Stone Gargoyle follower.
Early in the morning, Icel and Javan visited the Temple to Teun, a building that seemed more like a machine. The Dwarf priest sent the Heroes to Manny, a Shuul Agent, who offered to perform a restorative operation on Javan. An operation that would cleanse the Chaos from his soul by augmenting his weak flesh body with clockwork parts.
Reunited at the Weary Traveller, the Heroes proceeded to the White House, where Javan was able to pick the lock on the front doors. A quick skirmish in the bar saw a berserk Hethin kill the barkeep, and proceed to smash up the bar with Mavo's aid. Icel invoked his destiny to have Javan vault across the bar and kill a centaur with a Bolt of Decay.
The Heroes were thus easily able to make their way back to the Necromantic lair beneath the White House. Despite a lingering aura of Death, the lair seemed deserted. The Heroes then continued down the foul-smelling stairs towards the remains of the Biopod.
Early evening, Lawsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
The Heroes gathered in the Weary Traveller to discuss their plans. As they were eating, they were approached by an Achean from Numidia, who introduced himself as Mavo, a friend of Maku. Mavo had borrowed the Kagrisos Amulet from Maku, and was keen to learn more about Kagrisos.
Then a second Rune Hero joined the group, an Albian called Anlaf who carried a message from Ibanion. The Balacazars were offering a deal to Icel and Hethin, to wipe clean their debts in exchange for the Codex of Virtues. Anlaf explained that the Codex was currently being held in the Cock Pit, a South Market gambling den owned by the lich Aggah-Shan.
After introductions, and a short debate, it was decided to raid the Cock Pit. Icel quickly performed a cold forge repair on Ice Mourn, aided by Anstelle.
Anlaf easily led the Heroes to the Cock Pit, a converted warehouse. Once inside, Javan bribed his way to a meeting with Naosh, the fashionable Troll manager. Javan then persuaded Naosh that he needed to deposit some money for safekeeping at the Cock Pit. Naosh thus led Javan and Anlaf down to the underground vault.
Inside the vault were several chests with secure locks. Icel invoked his destiny to reveal two children chained up in the vault. These children had Rune Hero tattoos, and Naosh explained that they were there under Aggah's orders. Anlaf and Javan quickly knocked out Naosh. Anlaf invoked his destiny to have Javan take down the watching guard with a mighty punch.
Meanwhile Hethin and Mavo collected drinks from the bar. Anstelle discovered that the Cock Pit was also a brothel and Icel played a bizarre gambling game called Mrathrach.
Javan then appeared back in the main casino with a bald Naosh. Javan held his crossbow to Naosh's head. The gamblers fled in panic as Anstelle set off an explosion inside the casino. The remaining guards were quickly dispatched as Icel went downstairs with Anlaf. Meanwhile, Hethin invoked his destiny to drop-kick a guard through the bronze netting covering the arena, then jumped down into the lower level.
Anlaf quickly led Icel and Hethin to the vault, where they prised open a chest and discovered what could only be the Codex of Virtues.
Late morning, Lawsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Icel returned to the White House, entering through the secret door. Meanwhile, Javan engaged the Barkeep in banter, before chasing him down when he fled. Hethin brutally questioned the scared human, before Icel killed him.
Then the Heroes felt the approach of a strong source of Death. Taking positions around the bar, the Heroes were soon confronted by a gaunt humanoid in black flowing robes. Hethin was shocked to recognise this as Shan the Undying, the pirate chief who had killed his father.
Enraged, Hethin led the Heroes' attack, only to be swathed in Chain Lightning. Icel invoked his destiny to envelop Shan in flames. Anstelle invoked her destiny to halt Shan's reinforcements at the door.
The mantis-headed Chaos Demon fled, but the four Death Wights surged into the bar to aid their necromantic master. Yet, the Heroes quickly cut down the Necromancer's body, only to hear his evil spirit flee back to its lair. The remaining Death Wights were easily destroyed.
Hethin remained berserk, and pursued the Necromancer's spirit back down the stairs before he was calmed by Icel. Proceeding carefully, the Heroes returned to the Bone chamber where Javan found another secret door.
Within this chamber was a large white bearskin rug, that hid a giant skeleton with two heads that ambushed Javan as he explored. Hethin invoked his destiny to kick off the heads and claim the rug as a trophy.
Javan found another secret door, this time leading to a treasure vault. Anstelle harvested some useful components from the prganic matter within, as Icel dragged away a chest laden with treasure.
In the Throne Room, the Heroes easily fought off three waves of Wights, but failed to find any evidence of Shan, beyond a lingering aura of Death. Icel destroyed the Bone Throne and scattered the pieces around the Bone Room. Hethin roughly inscribed an Air Rune on the floor.
The Heroes then carried their treasure to the Weary Traveller. Everybody returned to their respective residencies where they rested for a few hours, before reconvening back at the Weary Traveller to confer over their evening meal.
Icel and Wulfrun hurried back down the stairs to begin the process of destroying the Biopod.
Overwhelmed by the blinding light, Hethin dropped to his knees and crawled slowly through the room. He found a door that lead to a chamber carpeted with a thick layer of bones. He dropped a trail of bone fragments back through the brightly lit room, and thus led the remaining Heroes into the Bone Chamber.
The Heroes were puzzled by the strong aura of Death in this room, but advanced to the doors at the far end. Just as Hethin was close to these double doors, a pair of skeletal Bone Demons rose up out of the mass of loose bones. After a short fight, the Heroes reduced the demons to bones.
Beyond the double doors was a chamber with a pentacle carved into the floor, a bone throne and more bodies lying motionless. Hethin threw in some alchemist fire, but achieved little.
Then the Heroes heard Wulfrun calling to them. Wulfrun explained that Ingwald had left the Temple, but that an Air Elemental had seemingly scouted out the Temple. Fearing further interference, Maku had now brought the trio of prisoners, and Ingwald's tapestry, to the top of the Biopod.
The Heroes returned to the base of the Biopod, where Sand Fist escorted the sobbing prisoners down. Javan and Hethin gathered kindling from the storage rooms, while Anstelle spent two hours working in the laboratory. Alchemical Fire was then loaded into the lower levels of the biopod, while the wooden furniture was stacked around the base.
Strange lights were seen at the top of the biopod. Javan spotted armoured soldiers, but attempts at shouted communication were only met with curses. It seemed that the Knights had found the biopod and believed the Heroes to be Cultists.
Undaunted, the Heroes proceeded to burn the biopod. Javan and Anstelle set light to the lower levels, then fled down the ladder. Hethin invoked his destiny to have the bottom bonfire burn hungrily. All the Heroes invested heavily in the process, and Anstelle was certain that the biopod would be heavily damaged. Yet, the heat and fumes grew too intense, and the Heroes had to flee up the long, spiralling staircase before they could be certain of the full outcome of the fire.
Ignoring the necromantic rooms, the Heroes climbed up the next set of stairs. This brought them into an unknown building. Tracking back along the trail of air being sucked down by the burning biopod, the Heroes quickly found a series of secret doors that lead them out into the bright sunshine.
Icel led the group escorting the prisoners back to the Weary Traveller. Meanwhile, the trio of Heroes scouted out their location, to find that they were still in Oldtown, outside the White House on Fetch Street. This was not too far from the apartment that had been captured by the Brotherhood of Venom.
Returning to the concealed door they had used to escape the White House, they found the door barricaded shut. Hethin failed to batter down the door, so Anstelle alerted a guard inside to their presence and the Heroes ambushed four guards as they surged out of the building.
Back inside the White House, the three Heroes looted the office, where Javan found an interesting Globe of Accord, but failed to communicate with anyone. Further investigations revealed the White House to be a high class casino and brothel. Yet, there was still another member of staff in the bar, and now he had heard them moving about.
Heavily fatigued, the Heroes secured a small chamber and slept for hours, guarded by Wulfrun. Hethin invoked his destiny to have Wulfrun reveal a stash of healing salves that she used on the wounded Icel.
Refreshed, the Heroes returned to the Biopod Chamber. Anstelle questioned the ghostly figures loitering on one level of the Chamber. The headless Skaven attacked Icel, seeking revenge for its death, and was easily slain. The centaur was more lucid, but believed itself to be in a swamp on Annwn, and that Anstelle was trying to trick him. Anstelle left the centaur in peace, but managed to persuade Javan to relinquish Taunell to her stewardship.
Back on the lowest level, Anstelle and Icel explored the complex of rooms as Javan slowly picked the lock on the remaining door. Behind this door was a room full of thick clouds laden with Storm energy, and a pool of oily liquid. Despite Icel's frantic commands, Javan poked at the liquid with a staff.
A pair of Storm Rays burst out of the water and attacked the Heroes. Despite the beast's lightning attacks, they were easily slain. The last Ray died to a mighty punch from Javan.
Further exploration led to a crudely spiralling staircase that seemed to climb endlessly.
Eventually the stairs led to a rough door, that opened into a chamber infused with the aura of Death. Ten corpses lay scattered around the room.
Hethin crept into the room, and the corpses surged into action as Wights. Combat raged, as the Wights attacked in waves. Anstelle retreated to the stairwell, where she was able to aid the fighting Heroes with inspiring concoctions. The Heroes chopped, head-butted and punched the Wights furiously. Icel invoked his destiny to have Wulfrun slay a Wight with her lightning sword.
Finally, the Wights were all destroyed. After a quick bout of looting, the Heroes ignored the stairs up and continued exploring this level. Hethin charged through a door to find a room filled with blinding blue-white light.
As Anstelle looted the laboratory, the other Heroes explored the remainder of the complex on this level. In the first room Javan found a chest of strange vials and a cowering bio-alchemist with insectoid claws. After a short fight, Icel wrestled him to the ground. The bio-alchemist passed on a little information before Hethin slew him.
When Hethin tried to break open the next door, he was caught in a lightning shackles trap. Icel improvised a tool to break him loose, and Javan picked the lock. This was another living quarters, strewn with complex notes on bio-alchemy. Hethin threw in a lit torch, and closed the door.
Back on the scaffolding, the Heroes began to descend to the next level, the penultimate one according to the interrogated bio-alchemist. Icel and Wulfrun reached the next level safely, where they spotted a pair of shadowy figures on the central walkway. Just as Hethin was descending the ladder, a wave of screeching Lesser Thralls swept up, attacking the Heroes.
The Lesser Venom-Shaped Thralls were led by a hairless Dwarf in a spider harness that leapt agilely about the Chamber. Javan invoked his destiny to have Icel knock the spidery creature away. Hethin ignored the swarming Thralls and leapt for the shadowy Centaur, who fended off the diving minotaur.
Hethin plummeted to the bottom level of the Biopod. He invoked his destiny to land on the obese Zaug waiting there, ramming alchemical fire into the Chaos Demon's maw as they were both engulfed in flames.
Javan slowly picked off Thralls with his crossbow as the screeching creatures slowly overwhelmed Icel. Meanwhile Anstelle jumped down the ladder to Icel's aid. Icel invoked his destiny to have her attack the Lesser Thralls swarming him. Yet, the Thralls were too many for Icel, and Wulfrun carried his unconscious body away to safety. Anstelle invoked her destiny to have Icel's Skull Throne manifest healing properties, at a cost to his appearance.
Hethin was driven into a berserk frenzy as he fought the demonic Zaug, then succumbed to it's acidic vomit. Anstelle tried to concoct a deadly alchemical assault, only to fumble her components and swathe herself in exploding chemicals as she collapsed.
Javan finished off the last of the Thralls, and found himself the last Hero standing. Heroically, he slid down the long ladder to the base of the Biopod, firing his crossbow into the hideous bulk of the Zaug. This was enough to slay the Chaos Demon, and Javan was able to tend to the fallen Heroes.
Javan cracked open his Golden Egg to find a healing salve to save the dying Hethin, then invested heavily in the result. Anstelle awoke very sore, but still harvested components from the carcass of the Zaug. Then the trio of Heroes set off in pursuit of the vanished Dwarf.
They found another complex of chambers, and burst into the Dwarf's room in time to stop him from healing himself. The pair of mantis-headed Chaos Demons, wielding staves of solid flame, were quickly slain. Dragon Tongue tore apart an insectoid "cat", but found the remains too disgusting to eat.
Late Evening, Craftsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
The Heroes found nothing of interest in the complex of Thrall nests.
On the next level down they found another small complex of rooms. A lone Thrall was quickly killed, but the giant dragonnewt proved more resilient. Hethin invoked his destiny to incite Javan to punch it in the mouth. Icel then managed to wrestle it down, only for the beast to dissolve into a pool of protoplasm.
Hethin discovered a room holding large insectoid cubes that stored chaos energy. Picking one up drove him into a berserk fury, just as Anstelle crept into the room to analyse the cubes. Javan inadvertently locked them both in the room as the minotaur began to frenziedly destroy everything with a Chaos aura. It was only when Anstelle invoked her destiny to enable Wulfrun's beauty to shame the minotaur that Hethin finally calmed down.
Anstelle quickly destroyed the insectoid components and Icel found a storm sword for Wulfrun.
Further descent of the rickety scaffolding found the temperature in the Chamber falling. Each Hero suffered strange visions of a swamp, but everyone overcame the illusion.
Down another level and Hethin spotted a shadowy figure, then attacked it with a piece of scaffolding. The other Heroes found more rooms cut into the walls of the main Chamber. Hethin and Icel fought the shadowy Wraith as Javan found a bio-alchemist at work in his laboratory. When Javan's bluff went badly wrong, the bio-alchemist pulled out a chaos sword and attacked.
Eventually Hethin sent Sand Fist to scour away the wraith and Icel fatally head butted the bio-alchemist. Gleefully, Anstelle refilled her alchemical pouches in the laboratory.
Late Evening, Craftsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Sand Fist ferried the Heroes to the floor of the Kaleidoscope Temple. Hethin looted the bodies, Anstelle harvested components and Icel explored the tunnel. In a suite of rooms he found three terrified acolytes of Illadras. After a brief interrogation, the prisoners were taken by Wulfrun up to Maku.
Hethin then detached the bell from the bottom of the floating island, creating a deafening sound as it dropped to the crystal floor. Next, he began to rescue the figures hanging beneath the island, yet the removal of the bell caused the island to start sinking.
Sand Fist was only fast enough to rescue one captive before the stone island plummeted to the floor. The island broke apart, splintering into pieces. Jagged shards of rock and metal flew into the crystal walls, sending cracks to the ceiling. As pieces of crystal started to fall, the Heroes fled the collapsing Temple.
Hethin raced back to the city with the sole surviving prisoner, but found his way blocked. The sewer was filling with smoke and the apartment building above was on fire. Hethin climbed up the tunnel, but the smoke was too much for his prisoner, and the minotaur was forced to return to the Heroes.
At the chaos seal, Icel invoked his destiny to have Anstelle break through the decaying sorcery. This revealed a long corridor, at the end of which was a bronze door with unusual carvings.
Anstelle invoked her destiny to invite Javan to use his lock-picking skills, but the lock proved too complex. Eventually Hethin invoked his destiny to have Javan break through the weakened door.
The Heroes stood at the top of a huge shaft filled with crude scaffolding surrounding a gigantic insectoid biopod. Clouds of steam hung in the humid air, and the biopod vanished into the murky depths below. Sections of it rotated, vented steam and extended limbs randomly. The Heroes descended, slaying several screaming Venom-Shaped Thralls.
Even having climbed down four long ladders, the vast biopod still descended further.
Evening, Craftsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Previously in Ptolus Anstelle read Hethin's scrolls while they waited in the Weary Traveller. The letters told of squabbles between the Brotherhood of Venom and the Ebon Hand. Anstelle then led the Rune Heroes to Taggert's to meet Ingwald Forkbeard, the Lhankor Mhy sage.
Ingwald had much to relate regarding the probable location of the Waning Star and the list of Unity Engine components. The Heroes discussed the new information at length, then negotiated for another question in exchange for the summary of the folio from Pythoness House and a guided tour from Maku of the Temple of Deep Chaos. The sage remained fascinated by Anstelle's skin tones, and recommended that she visit a Dragonnewt Temple.
Back to the attacking fire elemental in the corridor outside the Kaleidoscope Temple. Despite their reduced numbers, the Heroes fought vigorously against the fiery cultists. A hidden bell tolled fearfully and the crystal walls flared brightly as the battle raged.
Javan found that his Sun-runed bolts were superb against fire elementals and other flaming opponents. Hethin leapt bravely across to the floating altar to attack the cultists, then he invoked his destiny to club the centaur with the cultist in plate armour. Icel awakened a new ability in Ice Mourn as he slew a fire elemental with a single strike, while poor Anstelle was wreathed in flames as her collection of alchemical components combusted.
The last Chaos Champion surrendered to Javan. After some inconclusive questioning, Hethin used her armoured body to smash open the altar, before bodily ripping her apart.
Within the altar was a strange, ceramic headed "mace" guarded by a fire rune. Icel vaulted over to the floating island and extracted the mace-like object.
Evening, Craftsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Javan persuaded the nervous Cultists to send several of their number to investigate the sounds of battle.
Meanwhile, Icel fought the pistolier despite being ensnared by a chaositech tangle bomb. Hethin invoked his destiny to throw Ibanion into the smaller room, enabling him to catch the wasps and spiders in his net. As Anstelle retreated back up the stairs, Maku and the two minotaurs fled the hidden Mages before they could summon any more creatures.
Ibanion spotted two Venom-shaped Thralls on the roof of a building overlooking the Buried Courtyard. Maku charged in, but found first a hidden pit, and then a tiefling hiding in shadows. Combat raged throughout the Buried Courtyard. Maku invoked his destiny to orate the Lessons of Tree Trunk and Icel invoked his destiny to inspire Hethin. Icel's swearing and Hethin's thrown mirror assured Javan that it was the Heroes coming to his rescue.
Javan persuaded the Brotherhood of Venom priest to send Dillar, the centaur's bodyguards and the crow-headed Cheslav to investigate the combat. Gatsha retreated, leaving just the priest, some nervous hooded cultists and the grinning demon in the sanctuary.
Javan invoked his dark destiny to punch the priest through the portal. This collapsed the portal, sending a wave of chaotic energy through the Temple. Yet, this dark destiny came at a cost to the Heroes, as it enhanced Dillar's powers, enabling the centaur to take down Icel with a single blow.
The Black Herald was highly amused at Javan's ingenuity and passed on his blessing before vanishing in a cloud of flies. This gave Javan enough time to hurry towards the Heroes and slay Cheslav from behind. The remainder of the Heroes finished off Dillar and his bodyguards, finally clearing the Buried Courtyard of foes.
Maku was able to talk Hethin down from his berserk rage, and the Heroes welcomed a suitably smug Javan back into their ranks at last.
Evening, Craftsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Javan stood nervously as the YanTi priest began his initiation ritual with a lengthy sermon to the venomous glories of Yenwan. The Cultists chanted mournfully as a shadowy portal slowly materialised behind the ornate altar.
Meanwhile, Ibanion had been dealing with an errand in the sewers below Oldtown when he heard Icel's familiar swearing. Running down a staircase, he found the site of the Heroes' recent battle with the ratfolk. Ibanion easily distracted the hidden Storm Mage, allowing Icel to run back into the room and stumble through an illusionary wall.
The Heroes assembled in the short corridor, before Hethin broke through the door and attacked the Lithyr warrior within. Maku attacked the human on the table, but was knocked to the floor by the human's snake-headed mace. Icel dealt quickly with the Storm Mage, a crow-headed biped that tried to flee.
Hethin invoked his destiny to help Anstelle calm the chaotic atmosphere of the room and its garish colours. Yet this was too late to stop Hethin flying into a berserk fury as he chopped at the Lithyr's many weapons. Maku invoked his destiny and jumped back onto the table just as Anstelle drenched his opponent in law-infused alchemy. Yet, as the human fell, Maku saw a pistol barrel appear at the top of the stairs and shoot him.
Icel set off in pursuit of the pistolier as Hethin slew the Lithyr. Icel and Wulfrun charged down the stairs, but their foe was quick. Icel invoked his destiny to slip through the next room as large wasps began to appear. Icel and Wulfrun followed the fleeing human through a circular room, before finally catching him in a large buried courtyard. The human turned to fire his pistol again, but Icel stabbed him.
The pistol shot echoed through the buried ruins. The YanTi stopped his ritual and hissed angrily.
Meanwhile, Anstelle invoked her destiny to revitalise the heavily wounded Maku. Ibanion was wounded too, but all the remaining Heroes hurried down the stairs in pursuit of Icel. Javan invoked his destiny to speed Anstelle's pursuit. Following difficulties with the stairs, the Heroes were only in the room with increasing numbers of large wasps and spiders with glowing blue abdomens.
Javan looked at Dillar and prepared his next move.
Evening, Craftsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Maku had shadowed the band of Heroes to Crossing Street, acting as their rearguard. As they had not been followed, he climbed up he rope into the upper window and joined his fellows. Maku was quickly smitten with the raw beauty of Wulfrun.
Further exploration of the building revealed some toxic potions and a group of terrified prisoners. Once Hethin had killed a pair of warped, insectoid creatures, one traumatized prisoner recognised the severed human head of one creature as her missing husband. Maku escorted the prisoners out of the building, sending them on to Ranisso for help. Icel and Hethin searched the remainder of the ground floor and eventually found a ragged hole leading down to the sewers.
Meanwhile, Javan was being led further into The Temple of Deep Chaos. He engaged his escort, Dillar, in discussions to delay their progress, thereby forming a dubious alliance with the paranoid Cultist.
As they followed the Javanoscope's directions through the sewers, the Heroes quickly found a suspicious door made of bronze. Anstelle packed acidic gel into the keyhole and Hethin forced open the door, but set off a simple bell alarm.
Down the stairs, the Heroes found a large chamber with a giant tapestry on one wall. A Skaven appeared and threw a bomb. Hethin promptly punted the bomb back at the Skaven, where it exploded in a cloud of choking smoke.
Anstelle created a concoction to dissipate the smoke. As the choking cloud faded away, a mixed band of giant rats and Skaven armed with rifles attacked. Maku related the words of Tree Trunk to inspire the Heroes and the rat-folk were quickly slain.
Then a wave of arcane energy swept over Icel. Somebody was loosing Lightning Bolts at them from behind a murder hole in one wall of the chamber. Icel led the Heroes out of the room and into a corridor, safely out of sight of the hidden Mage.
Deep in the Temple the Cultists were growing impatient for Javan. A YanTi appeared and summoned Javan into the sanctuary of Chaos. This irregular chamber was decorated with scattered candles and carved symbols of Chaos. Waiting for Javan were a small group of hooded Cultists, a crow creature, Gatsha of the Tolling Bell and the Black Herald of the Galchutt himself, grinning at Javan.
Mid-morning, Craftsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
While Javan waited at the Captain's Table, the other Heroes occupied themselves for the remainder of the day. Anstelle rested at the Inverted Pyramid. Hethin took his hostage back to the Ormen Brudd, met his new crew, then interrogated the Balacazar thug before dumping the body overboard. Icel found that he had attracted a Shield Maiden follower, and took her to the Storm Temple where she swore allegiance to him.
Anstelle, Hethin and Icel then convened at the Weary Traveller to plan their assault on the Deep Temple. Hethin gave Anstelle a cloak, for which the gnome invoked her destiny to imbue the cloak with the power to hide her sex. After a quick trip to see Ranisso, they disguised themselves as rat catchers once more, then waited near the Captain's Table for Javan to emerge.
At dusk, Javan was collected from his inn by Adronna who led him on a slow walk through Midtown. The Heroes were able to follow without being spotted by Adronna's ally. Thus, Adronna led all the Heroes to a shuttered apartment building on Crossing Street in Oldtown.
Javan was lead through the moist, dank ruins of the interior, down a ragged hole into the sewers, and onwards into the upper level of the Temple of Deep Chaos. After being searched by a mixed group of guards, Javan was met by Dillar who led him down to the next level.
Meanwhile, the Heroes decided to break into the building ahead of schedule. Sandfist helped the Heroes break into a second storey window, where Anstelle had to negotiate a pair of huge cocoons. Hethin explored the interior, stumbling onto some weakened floorboards that dropped him down to the ground floor.
A pair of human Cultists were attracted to the noise, and descended the stairs to investigate. Icel and Wulfrun joined Hethin on the ground floor where the minotaur ambushed the Cultists on the stairs. Anstelle threw Law-infused alchemy down the stairs at the rear Cultist, and Dragon Tongue swathed the Cultist in flames.
As Hethin killed the first Cultist, Icel opened the nearest door only to be attacked by a pair of bloated giant ants that walked upright on four legs. Icel was badly clawed, but Hethin killed one with Ice Bolt and ripped the second one apart with his bare hands.
Yet, Javan remained deep within the Temple and the rescue party still had no idea how to reach him. Icel cracked open his Fey Egg to find a crystal sphere containing a twig that pointed to Javan, but would this be enough to find the merchant in time?
The Green Vine Conference was held over a ceremonial meal. Shaggy Rope explained how the Black Spears had raided Blue Stream Valley, helped by a Purple Witch. Now, the valley was blighted; trees were dying and animals had fled the forest. The Green Vines needed the Hewn Shards to aid them, to stop any further raids into their territory.
Tree Trunk eagerly agreed to lead a raid into Black Spear lands, to kidnap a warrior to learn more about why they had raided Blue Stream Valley. Lightbringer was to go to learn more about chieftainhood. Fig Tooth demanded that he should go too, to maintain the morale of the warriors and ensure the religious purity of the raid. Firefig was unsure about the religious aspect of the raid, but Fig Tooth was very persuasive and Firefig had to concede his presence on the raid.
Later that evening Silvertongue called Tree Trunk and Fig Tooth to his business tent. Silvertongue wanted to progress his plans to replace Firefig through Black Spear intervention. He intended to act while the warriors were away raiding, and sought their approval. Neither Elder was entirely happy with the idea, but Tree Trunk eventually conceded that he would not seek to rectify whatever changes that Silvertongue might achieve in their absence.
The next morning Lightbringer was approached directly by Fig Tooth, who sought to convert him to the Solar Way. Lightbringer remained loyal to his spiritual yearnings and rejected the idea unconditionally.
While the warriors trained for the forthcoming raid, Pious Horse called Silvertongue to Firefig's tent. Pious Horse suggested that Silvertongue ought to participate in the raid on the Black Spears, despite his lack of warrior training. Fearing that his plans were threatened, Silvertongue refused. Tree Trunk and Fig Tooth unexpectedly returned from the Training Ground and joined the conference.
The Solar Priest played the politics game, negotiated with Pious Horse, then joined the lobby urging Silvertongue to join the raid. Dismayed at his former ally's change of allegiance, Silvertongue found himself outmanoeuvred and was forced to agree to leave on the Raid, despite how it impacted his own plans.
That afternoon, Lightbringer visited Firefig in her tent. He was sickened by the pernicious influence of Fig Tooth, and felt that it was time for him to leave the tribe. He persuaded Firefig to extend the pre-raid ceremonies to include a short, honourable farewell to Lightbringer. The Raid was thus to be Lightbringer's first step on his journey to spiritual discovery.
The following afternoon, after the extended ceremonies, the Hewn Shard and Green Vine warriors set out for the Black Spears village. The Green Vine Scouts were easily able to lead the group to the outskirts of the gloomy Black Spears village. Tree Trunk directed the warriors to kidnap a Black Spears warrior for questioning, but the stockaded village looked hard to storm. Reviewing the terrain, Tree Trunk spotted a band of warriors outside the village, and sent the Hewn Shards to capture one of them.
Then Silvertongue pointed to where the Black Spears chieftain was directing his warriors from a nearby hill. Tree Trunk seized the opportunity, sent in his reserves and kidnapped the Black Spears chieftain. It was on the hurried journey back to the Hewn Shard village that Lightbringer slipped away from the group.
This was how Lightbringer came to be wandering through unfamiliar hills. If he had set out from his home village, then he would never have stumbled upon the cave where Sun Stare, a Black Spear Solar Rune Lord, was holding a shaman hostage. The shaman, Truthful, had been aiding the spirit Hunts for Bones in it's quest to awaken a Rune Hero. Sun Stare was determined to achieve Rune Hero status. He was threatening to hand Truthful over to the Sun Priests for conversion if she did not force Hunts for Bones to make him the new Rune Hero.
Lightbringer entranced Sun Stare with a lengthy, nested story, talking deep into the night until the exhausted Rune Lord fell asleep. Lightbringer then released Truthful and they fled into the darkness.
The next morning, Lightbringer awoke as a Rune Hero. Hunts for Bones pledged allegiance to him and Truthful promised to show him the secrets of the Mongoose Burrows for Truth Society of the Great Bush Spirit.
For the next year Lightbringer followed Truthful on her wanderings around Numidia. He also learnt that Sun Stare had been shamed by his defeat and sought revenge. Lightbringer stayed one step ahead of the vengeful Rune Lord, before finally deciding that it was time to sail for Ptolus and curb the influence of the Purple Witches who were blighting more and more of Numidia.
Maku turned to Anstelle and began the story of his dealings with the Solar Rune Lord. It all began back in his Numidian homeland, three years ago.
The first sign of trouble was when his Aunt Firefig, the Tribal Chief, called Maku to her tent. Firefig explained that as she had no children, she wanted Maku to take the role of heir to the Chief. Maku protested that he wanted to grow spiritually, but Firefig insisted and Maku reluctantly agreed to begin learning how to be a Tribal Chief.
That evening, as Firefig was taking Maku on a tour of the Hewn Shard village, they stumbled upon a conference held in Silvertongue's tent. Silvertongue wanted to be Chief, and was urging Pious Horse, Firefig's Advisor, to support his rebellion. Firefig apologised for the intrusion, but Pious Horse stayed loyal to Firefig.
The next day a delegation from the Green Vine tribe arrived, led by Shaggy Rope. The Green Vines were Allies to the Hewn Shards and had recently been raided by the Black Spears. Tree Trunk, the ageing Hewn Shard Raid Commander agreed to take Green Leaf, Shaggy's son, as a trainee warrior. Firefig took the opportunity to berate Silvertongue in public as the presence of the Green Vines was clear evidence of the strength of her leadership.
Maku then took the chance to privately highlight for Tree Trunk the insidious role of the Sun Priests within the tribe. The Hewn Shard Priests had taken separate tribute from the Green Vine Priests and were clearly undermining the traditional tribal leadership. Yet, the grizzled veteran remained loyal to the Priests if Maku could provide no firm evidence.
That afternoon Tree Trunk called his son, Pious Horse, to the training ground on the side of the hill. A short duel with Green Leaf clearly revealed that Pious Horse was no warrior. When Pious Horse threw Tree Trunk's dark past into his face, the old warrior finally came to terms with the fact that his son was never going to follow the Warrior's Path to Glory.
Then the tribe debated the issue of the Black Spears.
Mid-morning, Craftsday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
All of the Heroes, save for Javan, sat in the Weary Traveller discussing their plans. Icel left to brood on the Skull Throne just as Sigrithe burst in. The Thulan Mage was tearful and badly burnt by sorcery.
Sigrithe explained how Vinarth the Tall had told the Collegium that she had killed Amrinth in the Glade. Consequently, she was declared a Renegade Sigrithe returned to her rooms to pack, to find the Indigo Hounds on her trail. They attacked her, but she fled.
Suddenly three Mages in Indigo cloaks ran into the Weary Traveller and began casting blinding spells to quell the patrons. The Heroes leapt to Sigrithe's defence, aghast at the reckless behaviour of the Mages.
Theano grabbed Sigrithe and forced a route to the door with her hoplite shield. Yet the door was now filled by three belligerent thugs. The lead thug, a Dractuar that Hethin recognised from the cobblers behind the Rat's Nest, pointed threateningly at Hethin.
Chaos reigned as thugs, Rune Heroes and Mages traded attacks.
Sigrithe fled to the stables as Theano pushed the Dractaur outside. Anstelle was entangled in a lattice sorcery, while Ibanion was caught in the Mage Blade's iron net. Maku stared down the minotaur Mage, sending the Indigo Hounds fleeing from the Inn. Hethin focused on the thugs, knocking one out with the inn doors, then Maku invoked his destiny to have Hethin slay the fleeing Dractaur with Ice Bolt.
Meanwhile, at the Captain's Table, Javan was approached by a tipsy bariaur with an Issaries amulet. The bariaur ranted at Javan, complaining about his "fake" Rune Hero tattoo and insisted that he should be thrown out of the inn. Javan dismissed the bariaur's complaints, who blustered away threatening to complain to the Manager.
In the aftermath of the fight, the Heroes had to leave the Weary Traveller as Tarasius would not have even dead Balacazari in his inn. Ibanion dumped the Dractaur's body into the sewers, then accompanied Hethin to the Docks with the unconscious thug. Theano took Sigrithe to be healed, while Maku accompanied the woozy Anstelle to Hurloon's hangar.
As the Heroes travelled the streets, they each saw the same centaur heavy cavalry regiment march belligerently through the streets to the Imperial dockyard.
Maku was found at the hangar by a meerkat messenger spirit sent by Nonyaniso. The spirit warned Maku that his Rune Lord enemy had come to Ptolus and was hunting for him.
Mid-afternoon (Flashback)/Night, Marchday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Hurloon flew the Ruby Skimmer to Igrainne's Glade to salvage the crashed Collegium Lightning Sled, then flew Theano back to Ptolus. She met Anstelle, Ibanion and Maku at Hurloon's Hangar, where they had fled from the Watch after the Delver Square fight.
Anstelle handed the Pythoness Folio to Ibanion, then flew off to the Inverted Pyramid. After a few hours in the laboratory, she met Keleth, the satyr assistant to Molritz the Wayfarer, the renowned Inverted Pyramid Planar Mage. Anstelle discussed a range of planar matters with Keleth, who promised to pass along her concerns to Molritz who was currently travelling the Planes. Keleth recommended that Anstelle talk to the Malkuth. Anstelle then flew back down to the city.
Meanwhile, Ibanion had taken Theano and Maku back to his lodgings to read through the Folio. Wading through the rhetoric and mad ramblings was not as traumatic as Ibanion had feared, and there was a lot of useful knowledge to be distilled from the collection of papers.
When Anstelle returned in the evening, the Heroes had much to discuss as she led them to Taggerts in the Temple District. The Heroes were welcomed into the Tavern Temple to the God of the Keg, and ushered up to a curtained booth where Ingwald Forkbeard was waiting.
The Sage Priest of Lankor Mhy was very pleased to see them, and was prepared to offer them two questions free of charge. Anstelle invoked her destiny to make Ingwald a reliable source of information. Ingwald was thus eager to learn more about their activities, and Anstelle happily told him the Heroband's full story. She was less impressed, however, when Ingwald showed interest in the patterning of her skin. After much debate, the Heroes finally settled on their two questions; the location of the Waning Star and the components of the Unity Engine.
The next morning all the Heroes, save for Javan, met up over breakfast in The Weary Traveller where they all caught up on recent events. Anstelle copied down Ibanion's summary of the Folio from Pythoness House.
Icel ran to the Ptoleum to have Ranisso dispose of the folio of foul papers in a proper manner. The Bariaur was able to hand over the cleansed version of Hethin's scroll in exchange. Back at The Weary Traveller Icel invoked his destiny to leverage the contents of the scroll into learning a way of calming Hethin's rage.
Meanwhile, Javan had settled back into the comfortable lifestyle of a prosperous merchant at the Captain's Table Inn. He invoked his destiny to discover that the Manager of the Inn was none other than Hedrion Prytanides, an old friend from Antioch. Hedrion promised to let Javan have a room at a substantial discount, enabling him to turn the Inn into a more permanent base of operations.
Later in the morning Javan had a visit from Adronna. She was very excited at Javan's progress within the Brotherhood, and was certain that they could make this work for both of them. More importantly, she was here to collect a sample of Javan's blood for the full Initiation ceremony into the Brotherhood of Venom. Adronna intoned a short ritual, then carved a chaos rune into Javan's arm, quickly filling a vial with blood. The Initiation ceremony would take place tonight at the Temple of Deep Chaos. Adronna would collect Javan at dusk and escort him there, but she warned that he should be careful what he took to the Temple.
Mid-afternoon, Marchday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
A cry rang out across Delver Square that the Watch were coming!
Immediately, the Heroes fled. Panope dragged Icel into the Ghostly Minstrel. Hethin found the time to snatch up a scroll from the robes of the slain Chaos Warrior. The other Heroes were swept along by the fleeing crowd.
Safe in the Ghostly Minstrel, Panope confronted Icel about rumours of infidelity. Icel soothed her concerns over a bottle of wine, charming the Achean warrior with his good looks. Panope found herself unable to stay mad with her handsome barbarian. Icel gave her a bag of coins, then returned to the Weary Traveller.
Meanwhile, Javan was approached by a Priestess of Malkion in the Undercity Market. Adronna, the Priestess, invited him into a shabby, yet curiously busy, shop for Porters where they could talk unobserved. Adronna explained that she had been looking for Javan, and that she had friends who wanted to meet him. She handed over a ring with a broken square design, and told Javan to walk down Tavern Row after dark while wearing the ring. Once Adronna had left, Javan sent a message to Icel, then set about buying some new clothes.
Hethin hurried to the docks, where he left a message for Farbjorn, found healing, then returned to the Weary Traveller to meet Icel. The pair then headed off the Ranisso, where Icel invoked his destiny to have the Law Priest make them some protective amulets. Ranisso spent the rest of the afternoon preparing the necessary ritual, but did promise to read Hethin's scroll once it had been cleansed.
While Ranisso made the amulets, Icel and Hethin found an unguarded hand cart and then improvised disguises as street scavengers. At dusk they took up positions on Tavern Row and waited for Javan to appear. It was Icel who first spotted the Merchant sauntering down Tavern Row, following the elaborate sequence of lookouts and guides that eventually led him to a workshop behind the Rat's Nest eatery.
A trio of thugs were waiting through the balcony door, and gruffly told Javan to don a hood before heading down to the meeting. Downstairs, Javan found six hooded figures plotting to poison the cattle. Javan was welcomed into the Brotherhood by Brother Skairris and offered a vial of poison to commit his own murders.
Javan demanded a greater level of involvement. Knowing that his Rune Hero tattoo would be visible, he insisted that such petty poisonings were below his capabilities. Brother Skairris called in Brother Dillar, a centaur "Deep Brother", to deal with Javan's request. A captive Achean male was brought downstairs, blindfolded, for Javan to demonstrate his commitment to the cause.
Meanwhile, Hethin and Icel had followed the trail to the thugs beyond the balcony. Yet this was to be no assault on the meeting, as the two Heroes maintained their disguise as beggars. The thugs shooed them away.
Flamboyantly, Javan blindfolded himself by turning his hood, and coolly fired his crossbow at the captive, killing the old man. Dillar quickly cut out the man's heart, but Javan easily evaded having to eat his portion. Dillar handed over a curling serpent amulet, welcomed Javan into the Brotherhood and promised to contact him again.
Javan made a hasty exit before the orgy grew too frenzied, and found himself a room at the luxurious Captain's Table Inn overlooking the Docks.
Anstelle searched the wreckage of the Collegium Sled, finding a bag of Mana Storage Crystals, but no sign of Vinarth. She returned to the Heroes in the Glade and offered the stolen Mana to Igrainne, who was eager to use the power for the nurturing of her Glade.
Meanwhile the Heroes had questioned Sigrithe about Amrith's minotaur amulet that Hunts for Bones had found. Icel asked Igrainne to send a message back to his family in Albia, seeking further clues about Ice Mourn. Theano agreed to stay with Igrainne to help guard the Glade from further attack.
Anstelle then flew the Heroes back to Ptolus, dropping Hethin off at the Docks. Hethin questioned his First Mate about the Pavian Barge that had cannonaded the city several nights previously. Everyone else, along with Sigrithe, were taken to The Weary Traveller, while Anstelle flew off to the Inverted Pyramid.
At the Pyramid Anstelle ate lunch with Doranth Par-Sadar. They discussed issues surrounding the Heroes' latest quest. Doranth was very keen to solicit the Heroes' aid, providing guarantees could be given to restrain the "barbarians". Yet, Anstelle grew increasingly disillusioned with Doranth's morals on a number of topics.
Away from the Shadow Mage, Anstelle checked her messages and chatted with an Inverted Pyramid librarian. Anstelle then flew back to Hurloon's hangar, where she explained about the crashed Collegium sled in Igrainne's Glade.
Over lunch in the Weary Traveller, Ibanion set about undermining Sigrithe's self-confidence. Eventually, Sigrithe fled in tears. Anstelle arrived as the Heroes made plans for the afternoon, and then dispersed through the city for various investigations.
Icel, Ibanion and Hethin visited the Midtown Ptoleum where Ranisso had cast a large Law Glyph. Ranisso had also searched the Temple archive to discover more about the Waning Star. The Heroes then made a short trip to the Temple District for healing.
Maku, Anstelle and Dragon Tongue visited the Emerald Hill part of Midtown to see Doraedian Mythlord. They were only able to meet Alninai Silvertree, Doraedian's assistant. Alninai was sorry to hear about the disappearance of Whitgar, but had little aid to give. She did, however, describe the disturbing events at the Imperial Palace last Godsday, when chaos weapons were used to attack the Palace.
Javan tried to find Hafgrim at the Onyx Spider, but he was not at his usual table. Javan told the barkeep where any Balacazars could find Icel later, then left for Delver Square.
The Heroes reunited in Delver Square, where they staged a public dispute with Javan. As the angry words flew, Javan called upon his dark destiny and a furious Chaos Warrior ran out of the Undercity and attacked the Heroes. Then a pair of Balacazar thugs arrived, seeking to beat sense into Icel.
As the crowd watched, the Heroes fought off their attackers. Panope appeared out of the crowd to aid Icel. In the confusion, Javan fled into the Undercity, dropping a Pythoness House ledger as he ran.
Late morning, Marchday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Earlier in the day, Icel had invoked his destiny to attune the Skull Throne to Anstelle. He had then channelled her Law Rune to learn a little more about Ice Mourn's latent powers.
Back in the desert sky, the Centaur arrows grew more accurate, Anstelle rapidly flew the Lightning Sled away from the Centaur village. Scanning the sky ahead of her, she spotted another Sled emerging from a cloud. It was the Questors!
Anstelle set off in pursuit. The Collegium Questors swooped back to Ptolus, where a daring sled chase unfolded through the city streets. The Questor pilot was too reckless for the gnome, and Anstelle had to let the Questors escape, but not before she had spied their destination. The Collegium sled was heading for a small, decayed woodland to the West of the city. Icel recognised this as Igrainne's Glade.
As the Heroes slowly flew over the dead trees, they could see the Questors in the Glade below. A Minotaur Mage held Igrainne hostage as the others waited for the Heroes to land. Among the Questors, Anstelle recognised Vinarth the Tall, her despised Scholarium rival.
Hethin and Icel leapt from the lowering Sled, clinging to the giant sword from the Pythoness cellars. Javan failed to emulate the two warriors, when his robes failed to billow. Combat raged though the Glade, as the Questors cast spells at the Heroes.
Ibanion invoked his destiny to ally with the Thulan Mage, but she only succeeded in swathing Igrainne in lightning. Javan invoked his destiny to watch the Satyr Mage burn up following Dragon Tongue's fiery spell, then he extinguished the burning scrub.
As the Questors gradually succumbed to the Heroes' attacks, Vinarth decided to flee in the Collegium lightning sled. Maku grabbed onto the rising sled, followed by Sand Fist. Anstelle sought to stop her rival by controlling the lightning on his sled, succeeding well enough to bring down the sled.
Maku jumped off the rapidly descending sled, finding uncomfortable safety in Sand Fist's sandy vortex. Once the sled had crashed down into the decayed forest, Anstelle ran off towards the wreckage.
Meanwhile Icel and Hethin sought revenge for the Thulan Mage's attack on Igrainne. Ibanion talked down Icel's anger, but Hethin worked himself up into a berserk frenzy. The minotaur rampaged through the glade, throwing bodies and attacking Hunts for Bones. Ibanion could learn little from his whimpering Mage ally, so he moved behind Hethin and calmly knocked out the Minotaur.
Anstelle arrived at the crash site to find the lightning sled upside down against a dead tree.
Early morning, Marchday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
As their eyes adjusted to the gloom, the returning Heroes were met by Tarasius, the Weary Traveller Innkeep. Tarasius explained that it was now Marchday, and that the Heroes had been gone for two days. He also told Icel that some Balacazar thugs had visited the Inn, complaining about a brawl. The thugs had frightened Tarasius, and he did not want them coming to his Inn again. Shocked at the passage of time, the Heroes all retired to rooms at the Inn.
Maku had a disturbed night, waking in his tent to find an assassin sitting on his chest. Nemesis, the Naltegro Suun assassin, quizzed him about the City University riot, then judged Maku's actions to have been just. This cancelled the contract to kill him, and Maku was left with a token serrated dagger and much to think about.
Javan's sleep was disturbed by the spirit of the Black Herald of Galchutt who chided "his Rune Child" for seeking the Lord of Roaches while on Arborea. The Herald sought to tempt Javan further with a replacement Dark Wyrd, then assured Javan that the Night of Dissolution was nigh.
Yet, perhaps it was Theano who found the night's events the most disturbing, as she awoke to find herself mysteriously tattooed. She, too, had lost a day and now had a Phoenix tattoo with a scrolling ribbon on her right forearm. Even more bizarrely, Icel's name was the only part of the message on the ribbon that Theano could read.
In the morning, Maku was approached by his two Shamanic mentors. They were very worried about the band of Collegium Questors that were roaming the wastes outside Ptolus. For several days Maku and the Shamans had been thwarting the Collegium HeroQuestors by sending Fear Spirits, but now they had failed and the Questors were heading to a village of animist centaurs. The Shamans needed Maku and the Heroes to stop the Questors.
The Heroes met up at the Weary Traveller and discussed recent events. A short break was agreed to pursue individual searches for information, before the Heroes reunited at Hurloon's hangar. Anstelle then flew the Heroes out of Ptolus and across the wilderness.
A column of angry, swirling sand swooped up to attack Anstelle's Lightning Sled. The gnome quickly landed the sled, as Hethin invoked his destiny to find the Focus for the furious Desert Spirit. However, all attempts to question Sand Fist were met with growing fury, and Hethin had to force the Spirit back into its stony Focus.
Finally, the Heroes spotted the centaur village nestled in a rocky valley. Yet, the residents were highly agitated and gesticulated angrily at the approaching Lightning Sled. Dodging the intermittent arrows, Maku and Javan sought to persuade the centaurs that they were friendly, but the villagers remained resolutely angry. The shouted conversation quickly broke down, and the arrows grew more frequent.
Late afternoon, Farmday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
Darach rushed off to his appointment at the Winter Palace, leaving the Heroes in the Feasting Hall. Icel, Javan and Hethin headed over to Oran Ice Hammer's forge. Anstelle chatted further with Dragon Tongue as Anwen prepared the Circle of Sending to return the Heroes to Ptolus.
After a brief snowball fight, Icel talked with Oran, the Pipkrake redsmith. Oran revealed that Icel's seax, Ice Mourn, was the blade of Bizalt of the Frost Castle, an ancient Fey Rune Hero. For the price of the gold from Icel's Golden Egg, Oran would unlock one of Ice Mourn's icy powers. Hethin also traded the gold from his egg for one of Oran's enchanted throwing axes.
Meanwhile, Javan was approached by Skreek, a filthy grig beggar with antennae and the legs of a cricket. Skreek wanted Javan to put in a good word for him with Akyishigal, Lord of Roaches. Javan paid the beggar a couple of coins and promised to do his best for the outcast grig.
Back in the Feasting Hall, Anstelle learned all manner of Planar information from Dragon Tongue. The Eladrin was now visible within the glass of the jar, and the cat suggested that Anstelle simply smash the jar. Anstelle duly threw the jar onto the floor.
Immediately, the shattered glass formed a whirling column as the shards disintegrated to dust, before reforming in the shape of an Eladrin with elven features and black and white wings. Although weakened by his ordeal, Caladalen was very grateful to be released and gave both Anstelle and Dragon Tongue a feather taken from his glossy wings.
Reunited back at the Feasting Hall, the Heroes debated plans. Quinelle arrived with the gift of a Clockwork Pigeon to aid the Heroes, as thanks for their help freeing him and his wife earlier in the day. Further discussion with Dragon Tongue revealed assorted Cosmic clues, but little firm advice.
Seeking more information about the Lord of Roaches, Javan took the Heroes to meet the snivelling Skreek. Sadly, his information was of no more use than the midden they found him eating from.
The Heroes resolved to visit the Winter Palace, to seek the lair of the Lord of Roaches. Anstelle opened a Golden Egg to reveal an invite to the Palace for the four Heroes. With Dragon Tongue lurking in a bag, the Heroes set off to the looming Palace.
The Palace Gate Guardian was a large suit of animated full plate armour. The Guard was satisfied with Anstelle's invite and admitted the Heroes to the Courtyard of the Winter Palace. Yet, the Courtyard was deserted. Wandering around a few outbuildings, the Heroes could not see anybody, although they could feel people moving around them. Then Icel recalled Anwen saying that the Heroes would need increased Fey Status to interact with the occupants of the Palace.
Disappointed, the Heroes trudged back to Pipkrake. Anstelle passed the blue egg from Quinelle's pigeon to Anwen. Dragon Tongue said a quick farewell to Anwen, then the Heroes stepped into the Circle of Sending. The sensation was the same as before, and the Heroes found themselves back in the darkened taproom of the Weary Traveller.
Early afternoon, Farmday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
As Hethin and Icel ate their late lunch, they felt a strange tugging at their Rune Tattoos. After a moment's intense disorientation, they found themselves lying in a Summoning Circle inside an incense-filled feasting hall.
As the clouds cleared, they saw a panting brown aldryami, a pacing spruce aldryami in a white feather cloak and a tabby cat staring at them intently. The spruce aldryami, a spiky plant biped, welcomed the Heroes and explained that he had an quest for them. This was Darach, the Royal Goose Keeper, and the Goose that lays the Golden Eggs had been stolen earlier this morning.
Darach needed the Heroes to retrieve Dilly, the "Golden Goose", within two hours, as he needed to present her to the Queen this evening. Icel and Hethin were led to the goose pen, where they found the tearful goose boy, Emrys.
Meanwhile, Javan and Anstelle felt the same pulling on their Rune Tattoos, to find themselves snatched away from Ptolus into the same Summoning Circle. Javan hurried to investigate the goose pen, while Anstelle hung back to have an interesting conversation with the cat, Dragon Tongue, who was capable of speech.
Emrys told Javan that Quinelle, the Pipkrake toymaker, had been showing an unusual interest in the goose pen's security arrangements. As Hethin built a snowman, Icel found some suspicious tracks in the forest beyond the goose pen. Icel hurriedly summoned Hethin to follow the tracks.
Javan collected Anstelle, and the Heroes united outside the toymaker's hut, the destination of the tracks. Alerted by the cries within, the Heroes sought to break into the hut. The rear door proved to be very sturdy, and by the time Javan had broken through a window, the suspicious character inside had burst out of the opposite wall.
Anstelle comforted the bound toymaker and his wife, as Icel chased the fleeing figure into the neighbouring sleigh-makers. The figure jumped into a waiting reindeer sleigh and raced off into the snowy forest. The Heroes each snatched a waiting sleigh and set off in pursuit. Dodging assorted hazards, the Heroes struggled with the unfamiliar vehicles and the fugitive escaped into a large clearing.
As the Heroes swept into the clearing they saw the fugitive being pulled up into the high branches of a tall pine tree. They could now see that they had been pursuing an ice goblin, and he still had Dilly under his arm. High in the branches of the tree were three flets, on one of which were a pair of ice goblins hauling on the rope, pulling up the fugitive.
In the glade was the abandoned sleigh, with another ice goblin stood beside it clutching a golden egg. At the base of the tree was a small hut. Anstelle chatted with the nervous ice goblin in the glade, as Javan discovered that his reindeer actually had wings. He set about unharnessing the winged reindeer.
Hethin explored the gardening hut, finding a concealed music box that sang a cryptic song. The Heroes quickly solved the riddle, and spread water around the floor of the hut, then stood back as a giant beanstalk grew from the floor, burst through the roof and climbed up to the height of the neighbouring pine tree. Hethin and Icel grabbed at the rapidly growing beanstalk, hoping for an easy climb to the flets.
Distracted by the emerging beanstalk, Anstelle's ice goblin fled, dropping the golden egg. Javan climbed aboard the winged Vixen, and the Heroes attacked the flets.
The initial assault met stiff resistance from the ice goblins. Their leader was a horned troll wearing green robes trimmed with white fur, who gored Hethin. Anstelle arrived with a fiery concoction that frightened away two of the ice goblins and wounded the others. Hethin and Icel hacked and slashed, although the troll wounded Hethin badly. Once Javan had killed the troll with a Fury quarrel, the other goblins quickly died or surrendered.
The Golden Goose was found hiding in the troll's green robes, and the Heroes rushed back to Pipkrake with the bleeding Hethin. Darach was overjoyed to see the return of the Golden Goose and rewarded each of the Heroes with a Golden Egg, while Anwen healed all hurts.
Midmorning, Farmday, Secret Week, Delve Season 1008.
After Icel received healing at the Temple of Aesclepius, the small band of Heroes put their plan into action. First, Javan went to the Onyx Spider to meet his underworld contact. The unexpected arrival of Xanthus, an old friend from Antioch, was a problem, so Javan agreed to meet him later.
Following a short wait, Hafgrim the Tiger finally arrived. Seeing the bag of coins that Javan had defrauded from the Heroes, Hafgrim was very interested in helping the merchant. Starting with stories of parting naive "Heroes" from their money, Hafgrim progressed to offering Javan the chance to invest the money in an assortment of guaranteed business opportunities.
Before Javan could commit to a choice, Hethin and Icel burst into the Onyx Spider. Icel demanded the return of the money, but Javan sought to snatch it away. The bag burst in the ensuing struggle, scattering coins about the booth.
Hethin escalated the fight, snatching up a table and throwing it into the booth, smashing it over the shoulders of the other Heroes. Hafgrim ignored the squabbling Heroes and frantically scooped up the scattered coins.
Hethin then grabbed an irate patron and threw him at Javan, knocking out the patron and dazing Javan. The merchant staggered out of the Onyx Tavern, pursued by the other Rune Heroes.
Satisfied with their disinformation, the Heroes caught their breath in an alley, before returning to their respective inns. As Icel and Hethin reached The Weary Traveller they found Cog was waiting for them. Cog was very interested to learn how his gifts had performed. He exchanged information with the Heroes, but left concerned at what he had learned.
Javan finally returned to The Weary Traveller and the Heroes enjoyed a late lunch.
The Heroes quickly tidied up the loose ends in Pythoness House. Hethin awoke to find the Cultists long gone. Icel took charge of the battered chest of money, supervising its safe transportation to The Weary Traveller. Anstelle took the opportunity to whisk the Shadow Mage Doranth Par-Sadar away to the Inverted Pyramid.
Maku took the Knights of the Pale patrol on a tour of the cellars, where they made extensive notes. Icel returned to Pythoness House in time to convince the Patrol that the Heroes had authority to demolish the evil House. Yet, the fire proved inadequate to the job, and merely destroyed a few rooms.
Maku invoked his destiny and was approached by Lusarth, a scaridaur student at the City University and friend to Perrath. Lusarth explained how Perrath had been killed by Gyrpa the Glassblower as part of the sorcerous ritual that ended the Malkion Secrets of the Text Festival. Lusarth explained that Gyrpa was also conducting a witch hunt for those students involved in the recent riots, and was likely hunting Maku too.
At the hangar, Anstelle found Hurloon drunk and angry. He was disgusted at the public execution of students, dissidents and Priestesses at the climax of the Festival. He resisted Anstelle's attempt to calm his rant against the Collegium, so she left him to his drinking.
As the Heroes returned to their various lodgings, there was a commotion at the docks. The Pavian barge broke free of its moorings, fired a brief cannonade over the city, then fled at speed.
The Heroes enjoyed a restful night and healed many injuries. Theano invoked her destiny to establish a link with Icel's Skull Throne. She was thus able to help prise a fragment of motive from Wuntad's disordered mind.
Anstelle researched House Sadar's influence within the Inverted Pyramid, and was dismayed to find that they sometimes worked alongside the Collegium. After networking over breakfast, she flew back down to the city to attend Icel's morning meeting at the Weary Traveller.
Much was discussed, and plans were made. Eventually, the Heroes split up to conduct assorted business around Ptolus. Icel and Hethin visited Ranisso, who was aghast to hear about Wuntad and the Black Herald of the Galchutt. Anstelle was noisily thrown out of the Temple to Lhankor Mhy, but the Priest did whisper that he would meet her later at Taggarts.
Full of bravado, Icel demanded the return of the Waning Star from the waiting Cultists. Instead, their leader, Wuntad, derisively thanked the Rune Heroes for their efforts and demanded the Chaos Treasures in exchange for not beating them senseless. Hethin sought to work himself into a berserk frenzy, only to collapse in uncontrolled rage.
The Heroes drew their weapons to prevent the items from falling into the wrong hands. Initially attacking the hooded Cultists, they met with some success. Yet with Wuntad and the Chaos Demon triple-teaming Theano, alongside a hooded Cultist, their fortunes began to wane. Even the arrival of Hunts for Bones and Taunell were not enough to turn the tide.
The Chaos Demon disembowelled Theano, leaving her bleeding to death on the ground. Icel lost his duel with Gatsha, knocked out by the grimalkin's hand bell. Javan fought well against the Dragonnewt, but it was clear that the remaining Heroes were outnumbered, so they reluctantly surrendered to a gloating Wuntad.
The main hoard of Chaos Treasures were looted from Icel's body. Javan sought to hide the Chaos Key with sleight-of-hand, but the Chaos Demon saw through the ruse. Indeed, so impressed was the Demon with Javan's cunning that he offered the Rune Hero a bargain. After a short deliberation, the merchant decided that it would be a fair bargain to trade some of his Divine Rune power to the Demon in exchange for a new Ability.
The Demon grasped Javan's head, draining power from his Divine Rune, and warping it in the process. In exchange, Javan gained a new combat Ability, plus the small detail of being marked as Hunted by the Black Herald of the Galchutt. Yet even as the Black Herald was transferring some Demonic power, Javan attacked the Chaos Demon in return. Despite the element of surprise, Javan's treacherous Wire Filament Bolt inflicted little damage to the enhanced Herald. This attempt at duplicity only seemed to amuse the Demon, who promised to see Javan again very soon.
Anstelle invoked her destiny in an attempt to improve the Heroes' bargain with Wuntad, but was rewarded with little but a few snippets of sneering information.
The Cultists departed, victorious, as the Heroes were left with the task of saving Theano. Anstelle stabilized the horrific wound, and everyone hurried to the Temple of Aesclepius in the Temple District.
Revitalized in part, the Heroes returned to Pythoness House only to find that a new group had arrived. Here was a Knights of the Pale patrol investigating recent events in the house. Maku persuaded the minotaur Knight that the Heroes had been cleansing the House, finishing the task that the Knights of the Pale had failed.
As Maku took the Knights to inspect the cellars, Icel and Ibanion raced upstairs to secure the gold. Mysteriously, Javan found that the Knight's seal now resisted his attempt at entry, so he waited outside. Upstairs, when Icel saw the Shadow Mage he was overwhelmed with a desire to complete unfinished business. Ibanion and Anstelle just managed to restrain him before he could massacre the crying Shadow Mage.
Late Afternoon, Godsday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
The Heroes quickly pulled the ladder up to safety, away from the Minotaurs' axes.
After a brief discussion, Hethin and Icel leapt down the shaft clutching the Giant's sword. Their luck held, and they succeeded in impaling one of the Minotaur guards on the plunging sword. The second guard was rapidly slain and the Heroes regrouped in the lower icy chamber.
The Ever Burning Twig was used to burn through the ice floor. First, it revealed a Folio of papers that Anstelle claimed. Next it burnt through the large ice seal at one end of the chamber. Below the seal were slick stone steps leading downwards to a flooded tunnel lit by flickering lights. Hunts for Bones scouted ahead to learn that there were treasures and a large Chaos Beast beyond the water.
Icel improvised an oiled coracle from the Giant's ragged cloak and some bone splints, then floated down the flooded tunnel. Anstelle began the process of alchemically evaporating away the cold water. As the Heroes slowly made their way through the steaming water, Icel led the work hacking through the ice seal at the other end of the tunnel.
Through the seal was another ice-locked chamber, with six chest of varying size that glowed and flickered with an unnatural light. There was also a large set of double doors, beyond which Hethin could sense looming chaos.
When the doors were burst open, an insectoid hydra was revealed, seemingly built from mismatched bodies. Icel charged first, backed up by the other warriors. Undaunted by the five writhing heads the Rune Heroes fought hard, even when the Hydra began to regrew severed heads. Theano skewered two heads with her spear and Ibanion inflicted the killing blow.
Icel immediately claimed the seven shrivelled heads and Anstelle hacked open the Beast to harvest a powerful ichor from the monstrosity's heart. Meanwhile, Ibanion set about prising open the chests, racing against the piercing cold in the icy chamber.
Just as the last chest popped open, Maku realised that Hethin was about to throw acid into one of the chests. Reflexively, the grimalkin sought to use his Aqua Shield wand to protect the chests from the furious minotaur. Yet Hethin managed to throw his acid flask past the Shield and into a small chest. The chest interior hissed and smoked as the acid set to work, but the chaos-tainted key within resisted the acid's effects.
The Heroes hurriedly emptied the chests of their assorted chaos-badged items, finding a trove of weapons and strange objects. Fighting off the biting cold, they hustled Hethin up the ladder and beyond to the ground floor of Pythoness House.
The ugly statue seemed altered from when the Heroes had initially descended into the cellars. The statue appeared to have been crying, and now looked thinner than before, lessened somehow.
Out in the courtyard, there were wounds in the fabric of the house, where the splinter bomb had left scars that showed signs of having been bleeding a dark liquid. Laden with the treasures from the cellars, the Heroes decided to attempt to exit the house. Those Heroes carrying chaos-tainted items felt the Knights of the Pale seal resist, but it did not stop them. In the gathering dusk outside, however, waited a sinister group of figures.
Led by a human heavily enhanced with chaos magic, there was Gatsha wielding a large hand bell, a twisted Dragonnewt, seven snarling, hooded Cultists and a familiar cloud of buzzing flies.
Mid-Afternoon, Godsday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
[Cut Scene - Anstelle questioned the Shadow Mage, intrigued at the apparent contradiction of an Inverted Pyramid Mage working with the Collegium. The Mage explained that it was a mutually beneficial agreement for her House, but she did not seem too upset at the loss of her Collegium colleagues. Despite the protests of the other Heroes, Anstelle agreed to meet with the Shadow Mage later, to see how they could help one another.
The Chaos Spirit spoke once more, and the Heroes were astonished to see Ibanion standing in the Courtyard below. After a brief round of introductions, the minotaur rogue rejoined his former comrades.]
[Cut Scene - Anstelle stood on the roof of the high tower, outlining the fresh information that she had learned through further study of the Journal. This initiated further discussion about the jar, but no breakthrough was achieved.]
As the horned demon shouted further challenges from its balcony, a second figure lumbered into view on the bridge below. The new arrival was cobbled together from multiple creatures and featured three arms, two heads and multi-faceted eyes.
The Heroes leaped bravely into action. Icel and Hethin were knocked back, but Theano's Whirlwind Attack pushed the demon off it's balcony. Javan reacted by loosing one of Cog's crossbow bolts at the beast. The bolt struck the Chaos Demon, then spread enchanted wires through its torso, ripping the creature apart in a cloud of swirling black flies.
After a brief recovery, the Heroes turned turned thir attention to the Cobbledman. Another of Javan's bolts tore into the stitched creature, then Theano impaled it with a spear. Hethin then dismembered the monstrosity, knocking free the second part of the Spiral Key.
Once more the voice of the Chaos Spirit echoed through the House, except that now the message had changed; "Chaos is the Key!"
Exultant, the Heroes surged downstairs, to find that a drawer had opened in the chest of the ugly statue. Maku inserted the two parts of the key into the circular cavity in the drawer, then stepped back as the statue slowly moved away from him. The sliding dais had revealed a shaft leading downwards.
Icel dropped a torch down the shaft, then slid down the ladder. In the chamber below Icel found a giant skeleton that was slowly coming to life. A quick fight erupted, ending when Hethin dived up into the giant's ribcage and burst the skeleton apart from within.
A second shaft was found, but covered with an icy membrane. Icel used the ever-burning stick to melt through the ice covering, and then the fleshy cover below. As the membrane ruptured a familiar distant, spectral bell tolled.
A rush of icy air swept into the chamber as the membrane was cut away fully. The second shaft lacked a ladder, so the first ladder was removed and lowered into the hole. Maku quickly scouted out the cold lower chamber, finding a seemingly ice-bound cave with strange shadows in the walls.
Anstelle descended to try to warm the chamber and simply refuted the intense cold. Only for a pair of minotaurs to break out of their icy stasis and attack her with axes. Outnumbered and wounded, she fled back up the ladder as the minotaurs began to chop at the ladder in frustration.
Afternoon, Godsday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
After a brief round of healing, the Heroes questioned the captured Shadow Mage. Her amulet revealed her to be a member of House Par-Sadar, the human offshoot of the Noble House Sadar. Despite being captured, she remained defiant, boasting of her role in the raid on the Old Scriptorium. She admitted to being part of a Collegium Quest, but claimed Inverted Pyramid membership , thereby invoking Anstelle's protection.
[Cut Scene - Anstelle talked with the Shadow Mage.]
Icel furiously commanded the Mage to silence, then bound her roughly and left her in the ruined bath. Anstelle studied the Journal further as the Heroes continued their exploration upwards.
In the next room Theano spotted a hidden trapdoor in the high ceiling. This was unlocked with the dragon key and allowed access to a tower. The first tower room contained flasks of liquid, while the next level up contained a hefty bronze chest.
The locked chest was finally opened with Javan's crowbar after having been tossed out of the tower. The hoard of coins was kept for later distribution, but it was the half of the Spiral Key that tumbled out which caused the most excitement. The Heroes then gathered together on the roof of the tower.
[Cut Scene - Anstelle reveals further knowledge from the Journal.]
Icel proposed using the remaining tower ladder to cross to another high tower. Javan scampered across, but the shaking ladder proved too hard for Maku who froze halfway across. Icel was unable to goad the grimalkin into moving any further along the ladder.
Instead, Javan decided to crawl back to help, but their combined weight proved too much for the wooden ladder.
Hethin saved the ladder from falling, but Maku and Javan were now clinging desperately to a ladder held against the outside of the tower. Below them, a pair of aggressive Fire Drakes were waiting on a flat roof.
Javan jumped backwards off the ladder, then thrust an Ice Rod into the fiery maw of the Fire Drake, extinguishing its burning breath in a cloud of steam. Inspired, Maku leaped down and held off the other Fire Drake with his Aqua Shield. Deprived of their ability to breathe fire, the Drakes were quickly killed by the Heroes.
Theano, jumped down from the tower, only for Maku to break her fall with the help of his Aqua Shield, then he used his fluffy fur to dry her off.
Finally the Heroes were able to explore the remainder of the rooftops and found a set of stairs heading up to a central tower. As Icel led the Heroes up the stairs, a tall, buzzing figure strode out onto the balcony at the top of the stairs. The hideous creature resembled a large satyr with a mantis head and two tall horns.
Maku demanded the key from the figure, but the beast claimed not to be a key-keeper and hefted its huge axe menacingly. The Heroes prepared themselves for battle.
Afternoon, Godsday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
After recovering from the fight with the assorted rat-folk, the Heroes continued to explore Pythoness House. Anstelle found an interesting Journal that shed more light on the actions of the Crimson Coil when they were in control of the house.
Hethin then discovered another band of undead prostitutes waiting in a ruined boudoir. Ironically, the Minotaur fared badly against the female skeletons, while the female Rune Heroes easily destroyed the skeletal archers.
Just as the Heroes ventured further up into the higher levels, the Chaos Spirit loudly welcomed more visitors to the House. Maku hurried down to a balcony to see a mixed party of seemingly Collegium Questors huddled in the gateway.
Javan donned some Crimson Coil robes and bolstered by Maku's encouraging words, he spoke with the new arrivals. A Satyr Mage demanded The Chaos Key from Javan, but refused to explain any further. The Aquitanian offered to throw the Key down to them, only to drop Cog's Anti-Chaos Splinter Bomb and a Flask of Acid on the waiting group, killing the Skaven Brute.
The Heroes then prepared an ambush, as Icel, Hethin and Theano carefully hid. Meanwhile, the other Heroes noisily lured the Mages into the trap. Eventually the trio of Collegium Questors reached the ambush.
Javan slammed shut the sturdy boudoir door to separate the dractaur Mage Blade from his allies, which allowed Anstelle to extinguish the dractaur's flaming blade and douse him with fiery concoctions.
The Satyr Prismatic Mage proved much tougher, further wounding Hethin before dying to the massed assault. Icel ambushed the human Dark Mage, fighting off the swarming Dark Tendrils long enough for Javan to knock her unconscious.
Afternoon, Godsday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
As the Heroes regrouped in the Tower room, they felt a powerful wave of sorcery sweep over them. This appeared to mark the culmination of the Malkioni Secrets of the Text festival, but their sense of simultaneous multiple deaths and discordant Moon magic both seemed out of place. They also sensed that a portal had been opened, allowing for the Malkioni Heroquestors to journey to their Otherworld.
In addition, Anstelle was concerned to note an inarticulate cry of Elven originate from the recently liberated jar. Closer examination suggested that some form of Air Planar may be trapped within, or closely associated with, the jar. Yet, she could not coax any further Elven speech from either the jar or the associated Planar.
Further exploration of Pythoness House revealed more dusty bedrooms full of mouldy silks. The Gatehouse towers proved to be more interesting, where a Ghost attacked Javan. After a brief skirmish, the Ghost was subdued.
Maku proved able to talk to the Ghost of Taunell, a Ptolan City Priest who had died nearly 200 years previously. Javan also found that he could hear Taunell, and their Wyrd quickly formed a close bond between the two of them. Taunell explained all that he knew about the House, with some disturbing information about Cult activities.
Theano climbed to the top of the Gatehouse Tower to spy on the Malkioni Festival and the rainbow displays in the Temple District. While on the tower she noticed that the view down to the ground outside Pythoness House seemed to be distorted somehow, as if she were higher up than she thought she was.
Meanwhile, Maku climbed down to a ledge above the Courtyard to retrieve a key that Taunell had seen dropped many years ago. The key was hidden in a pile of dried leaves and dirt, but there was still no clue as to what the key unlocked.
The next step of the exploration of Pythoness House was to climb up a bronze spiral staircase within the main part of the building. This lead up to a room full of rats of all sizes, including a mutated giant rat. As the combat against the mass of rats progressed, a pair of Skaven Brutes riding giant rats attacked the Heroes. After a lengthy battle, the Heroes won the day, with only minor wounds sustained.Book III; Pythoness House
Early Afternoon, Godsday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
Just as Maku, Theano, Hethinbjorn and Icel destroy the last of the zombie prostitutes, they are disturbed to hear the ugly statue speak once more. The voice called out at the exact moment that Javan and Anstelle walked through the barriers surrounding Pythoness House.
Quickly the Heroes unite once more, then return to study the obese stone figure. Eventually Theano invokes her destiny to discover thin, rectangular fracture lines in the bulging stomach of the statue. Yet, despite everyone's efforts, the statue refuses to move or reveal the secret of the strange lines.
The Heroes then embark on a rapid search of the lower levels of Pythoness House. Their explorations are dogged by strange shadow effects and moving pieces of furniture. Hethin systematically chopped up any inanimate object that showed signs of unnatural movement.
The only sign of life encountered was a set of five miniature figurines that jumped off a shelf to attack Icel. The Albian suffered long-term injury from these creatures when Hethinbjorn used a bed to smash two of them into Icel's chest. This mighty blow shattered the bed and, forced shards of animated porcelain into Icel's already scarred chest.
Eventually, a set of interesting items were discovered high in a tower: a book, a candle and a jar. When Anstelle read the book, it damaged her mind with the twisted reality it described. The yellow tallow candle had been inscribed with the word "Segginal", that seems to be a name of some sort. The jar radiates strong transformational magic, independent of the vile urine mixture that it contained. The slightly befuddled Anstelle emptied out the contents of the jar before slipping it into her carrying sack.
Early Afternoon, Godsday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
Niamh reappeared to tell the Heroes that she had something else for them, pointing to a pair of boots lying in the razorvine outside Pythoness House. Icel investigated, to discover the unconscious form of Hethinbjorn, a Thulan minotaur Rune Hero berserker. Hethin had been drugged by Niamh to prevent him entering the house alone, but he was eager to resume his quest to rid Pythoness House of Chaos.
As the Heroes entered the open gateway of the keep-like former brothel, they felt themselves push through the arcane barrier left behind by the Knights of the Pale. They were also disturbed to hear a strange voice intone "Come to me . . ."
Moving through the gloomy courtyard, Icel unlocked the battered doors and the Heroes filed into the entry chamber. Their initial explorations were disturbed by a pair of black-powder bombs that exploded in their midst. The Skaven were quickly slain, one killed spectacularly by Hethin tearing off part of the doors and throwing the timber at a Skaven on a high walkway.
An ugly statue was discovered in a neighbouring room. The floor showed signs that the statue could move, but the hideous figure resisted both Icel and Hethin when they tried to slide it backwards.
The next chamber was an illusionary brothel, where Theano succumbed to the sinister charms of one of the seductive prostitutes. Combat revealed their true nature, and the Heroes finally destroyed the choking undead after a hard fight and a lot of Wyrd.
The Heroes sat around a campfire beside the Ruby Skimmer and chatted with the slaves they had freed from the Trolls. Maku invoked his destiny to make friends with Kilarth, a prosperous merchant. Another of the released slaves, Theano, proved to be a Rune Hero and she swore to repay the debt of freedom that she owed to the other Heroes.
Icel was drawn by his destiny away into the wilderness, but was unable to escape the eager attentions of Leofrun. The Albian stumbled into a petrified forest grove and felt himself called to the centre of the mass of desiccated trees. Here he found Igrainne, a Shaman he knew from his days in Albia. Igrainne was sitting before a tree that was withered, yet miraculously still alive.
After learning much of his family in Refuge, Icel was taken away from Igrainne by Leofrun's impatient demands for comfort. The pair spent the remains of the night locked in passion.
The Heroes were awoken at daybreak by the echoes of a large Sorcery. A massive spell had evidently been cast in Ptolus to manipulate the weather for today's Malkioni Festival. Grey clouds were ripped apart in a swirling storm of colour and a shimmering rainbow danced briefly across the horizon.
As soon as he could, Hurloon carefully flew the heavily laden Ruby Skimmer back to his hangar in Ptolus. The Heroes separated for the morning, to rest and recuperate. Icel meditated while sat on his Skull Throne, leaving Leofrun in his room.
As Maku, Theano and Icel reunited at the Weary Traveller, they were met by Cog, an apparent human dressed in a hooded cloak, leather mask and strange goggles. Cog unexpectedly handed over some items that he expected would be useful when fighting Chaos in Pythoness House.
The trio finally headed out for Pythoness House in the Arena District, where Icel's destiny drew him to find Niamh, a diminutive faerie. Niamh exchanged Charms with Maku, before vanishing back into the razorvine wilderness around Pythoness House.
The Heroes stood before the open gateway into the Pythoness House courtyard and prepared themselves to step inside.
The Heroes united at Hurloon's hangar and easily persuaded the minotaur to fly them out of the city once again. The Ruby Skimmer set them down in the twilight, almost 700 metres from the entrance to the Red Skull cave.
Javan attempted to bargain for the slaves, but the Trolls were in no mood to sell. Maku and Icel charged the Troll guards, quickly overcoming the opposition. Exploring the lair soon brought the Heroes to a fractured tunnel with a hole down to an old Silver Mine.
Further Troll sentries were slain, and beheaded, before the Heroes found a mixed group of slaves mining under Troll supervision. A fast assault killed the guard and freed all of the slaves. Leofrun and an second Lunar Acolyte were very relieved to see the Heroes once again.
Stealthily, the Heroes escorted the freed slaves back out of the lair. The Trollkin were sent out into the wilderness, while the other slaves were taken back to the waiting Ruby Skimmer, and freedom.
Icel spends the evening meditating while sat on his Skull Throne, seeking some insight into his enemies' plans.
In the morning, Maku and Icel made their plans. First they visited Hurloon, who had already collected their identified items from the Inverted Pyramid. The magical soot was returned as payment, while the Heroes kept the Fire Rune items. Hurloon also passed along a rumour about Trolls snatching slaves in the Undercity.
This was enough to send the Heroes down to the Old Scriptorium to check on the Lunar Priestesses. All seemed quiet through the Undercity and to the Pillared Hall.
At the Old Scriptorium, however, the Heroes quickly found the bodies of two Iron Might mercenaries and two dead Trollkin. Icel determined that the battle had culminated in the inner chamber, where Leneth was wounded, captured and then left to bleed to death . It seems that he had fought valiantly against a combined force of trolls, humans and trollkin. The room bore lingering traces of Darkness Magic.
Aware of the futility of tracking foes in the Undercity, the Heroes returned to Delver Square. Icel sought Hafgrim the Tiger at the Onyx Spider, but it was still too early in the day.
Maku observed the increased aerial traffic over Ptolus, and followed a graceful Elven Sky Cutter to its moorings in nearby Emerald Hill. A chatty elf informed him that the craft had moored above Doraedian's Compound, and was likely carrying an Ambassador from the Elven Sky Kingdoms.
The Heroes reunited at the Weary Traveller. Ranisso arrived after lunch with an Ecclesiastic Court Writ obtained through his contacts at the Ministry of Harmony. This enabled Icel to have his barrel seal tag removed at a nearby Watch House.
The Heroes then returned to Hurloon's hangar, where they persuaded the minotaur to fly them out of Ptolus to scout out the location they had been given for the Red Skull Tribe lair. Sure enough, there was the bush with the cave beneath located on the side of the base of the Spire.
The lazy circuit of the Spire showed no clear Troll activity, but did provide an excellent vantage point for the exotic craft arriving for tomorrow's Malkioni Festival. Of particular interest was the ugly Pavian Empire Rock Barge bristling with Dwarven Black Powder weaponry.
The last destination was a Law Temple in the Temple District. Their route allowed the Heroes to observe the rainbow decorations strewn along tomorrow's parade route. At the Temple an inevitable Priest provided a little more information about the various Chaos Cults.
Early afternoon, Craftday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
Maku carried the unconscious dractaur down to Icel's Throne Room beneath the Weary Traveller. Javan retired to the Ghostly Minstrel to recover from his wounds and Anstelle flew off to the Inverted Pyramid
Initial attempts to intimidate the Shivvel addict met with little success. So Icel left the prisoner and delivered a letter to Clusivius at the Humakt Temple. Reluctantly, Clusivius agreed to warn Icel if fellow Humakti Osric appears in Ptolus, to clear the debt.
Back in the Throne Room, Icel's interrogation became more physical. Between babbling, the Cultist revealed a few useful snippets of information before his bronze key fixated him on Mistress Cheden. Hunts for Bones revealed that this was the key to the dractaur's home, where he had seduced Cheden's daughter. Satisfied that this was the limit to the Cultist's useful information, Icel killed him and disposed of the body.
Icel led Maku to Oldtown, to search for a student with information about Mistress Cheden. The City University campus was under tight security as the Administration Office still smouldered. A student in the crowd sent Icel back to Midtown for Mistress Cheden's boarding rooms.
Further research led the Heroes to Mistress Cheden's house, where Sirath was absent, working at the Ministry of Peace. A quick look at the Ministry tower in Oldtown, from which army units were deploying, discouraged the Heroes from seeking Sirath.
Instead, Icel led Maku to the sewer grate in Crafter's District that the Cultist had described. Tracks showed that the sewer had been heavily used recently. The Heroes found a large, empty chamber with a painted Crimson Coil symbol. Icel invoked his Wyrd and discovered a secret chamber.
Inside the secret room was a red ledger sat on a table. The cover was titled "Pythoness House", but only the first page was legible. Cuthbert read aloud the riddle within the book. As the Heroes were pondering, Maku dislodged two large bats from up the chimney. While the grimalkin fended off the biting bats, Icel calmly killed them with his Sax.
Maku realised that the answer was fire, and Icel duly lit a fire. A hidden compartment was revealed, containing several apparently magical items, a Crimson Coil amulet and a large bronze key featuring twining serpents.
Hurloon flew the Heroes up to the Inverted Pyramid, where identification of the items was arranged. Then, it was off to the Midtown Ptoleum before the latest curfew came into force.
Icel was unable to enter the Temple carrying the amulet, and the close proximity to the Law Temple caused the ledger to combust. Ranisso was able to destroy the amulet outside the Temple.
The Heroes then both retired to the Weary Traveller as the curfew bells rang out. As an echo, they both heard a familiar, spectral chime.
Early evening, Marchday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
Maku questioned Hurloon, then the Heroes split up on separate missions. Javan learnt little at the Temple to Yelm, while Anstelle had more success in the Inverted Pyramid library. Maku walked over to the City University where he found the students dissatisfied with the new Dean. After Maku set in motion plans for a student protest, the Heroes met up again at Hurloon's hangar, before retiring for the night.
In the morning, Maku was shocked to find an Inevitable stood outside his tent. The curt mechanical required Maku to sign for a letter, before walking away. Maku took the letter to the Ghostly Minstrel, where Anstelle was able to read the worrying letter from Whitgar.
Full of concern at the shocking implications of Whitgar's letter, the Heroes walked to The Weary Traveller in preparation for the student rally. Icel remained busy building his skull throne, so the Heroes simply waited for the students to arrive.
By noon, the Midtown Square was thronging with unhappy students. Maku made an impassioned speech decrying the Collegium's seizure of the City University and their interference with the syllabus. Enraged, the enlarged mob carried Maku on their shoulders to the University campus.
The initially peaceful protest rapidly grew unruly. While faculty members, and fellow students were permitted to leave the campus, the crowd grew increasingly angry towards the new Dean's regime. When familiar red-cowled figures were spotted in the crowd, the Heroes knew that they had lost control of the situation. The students were now rioting.
Javan took the opportunity to bludgeon a Crimson Coil cultist into unconsciousness. As he struggled with the body of the limp Dractaur, Collegium Watch suddenly filled the skies on their Lightning Rafts. A large flying barge drifted into view carrying a mage from the Collegium Order of Greater Glorification, who ordered the crowd to disperse.
As lighting bolts began to rain down on the mob, the Heroes fled back to The Weary Traveller with the unconscious Dractaur.
Late morning, Marchday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
After the battle in the Pillared Hall, the Heroes escorted the Lunar Priestesses to the old Scriptorium, where they left Leneth to prepare the defences. Back in the Pillared Hall, Maku rejoined his fellow Rune Heroes as Icel and his Spirit Alynx led the hunt for the Trollkin who snatched Leofrun.
First they found some bloodied strips of clothing in a corridor. Then they found a female Satyr Shivvel addict unconscious in the Council Chamber with a sprained ankle. Icel returned her to the Mirror Maze, then led the party onwards.
The north passage only led to a giant statue of a minotaur's head, but no further clues. The western passage out of the Council Chamber led to the remains of a circular room with five further exits. All hope seemed lost, until Anstelle invoked her Wyrd.
A man in black robes appeared out of the darkness, bearing a Collegium amulet. The wizard knew nothing of Leofrun, but had heard of recent slave raids conducted by the Red Skull troll tribe. In exchange for garbled news of the Heroes doings, the wizard relayed the location of the entrance to the Red Skull lair.
After lunch at the Ghostly Minstrel, the Heroes visited Hurloon's hangar where Fabius had been modifying Anstelle's Lightning Sled. While Hurloon gave Anstelle a short lesson in piloting her sled, Javan visited Delver Square to buy a Sunrod.
Icel took his skulls back to the Weary Traveller, where he began constructing a skull throne. Maku visited his mentor Whitgar in Oldtown, only to find the house ransacked, blood in the hall and fellow student Perrath searching upstairs. Hunts for Bones discovered scraps of burnt papers in the study fireplace and Perrath recounted how the City University had been taken over by the Collegium. The blood horns in the study suggested that Whitgar had been taken by the Monks of Blood.
After her flying lesson, Anstelle flew the sled solo up to the Inverted Pyramid for her first session in the Pyramid alchemy lab. Javan then searched out Hafgrim the Tiger, an underworld contact, to obtain forged ownership papers for Anstelle's sled. Maku consulted with Nonyaniso regarding the Unity Engine and the varied components that it needs.
Early night, Quarryday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
Anstelle lands the Lightning Sled safely back at Hurloon's hangar. Maku had already left for his tent, so Anstelle, Icel and Javan make their way through the darkened streets of Ptolus. The gnome and the Aquitanian book into comfortable rooms at the Ghostly Minstrel, where they spend a peaceful night.
Icel calls into the Ptoleum, hoping to find a willing bed-mate. He shrugs off Herinth's departure from the Lunar Priesthood, but finds Leofrun's innocent charms impossible to resist. Lustily, he takes her to his room at The Weary Traveller.
In the morning, Leofrun wakes Icel with her frantic sobbing. She explains that the Priestesses are being made to live in the Labyrinth, and she is too scared to go with them. Icel sternly commands her to calm down, which only scares her further. When she insists that she should stay with Icel because she loves him, he resolves to head for the Ptoleum to learn the true story.
At the Ptoleum Icel is reunited with Anstelle and Javan. Nemerte calmly explains that Ranisso is not comfortable with the Priestesses staying at his small temple, and that they should relocate to the old Scriptorium that the Heroes explored previously. The novices had been out in the city stockpiling supplies, which was when Herinth took the opportunity to flee.
Nemerte, through the Order of Iron Might, had engaged the services of Leneth, a mercenary elven archer with midnight-blue skin, to help guard the Scriptorium. Ranisso had promised her that the Heroes would help to escort the Priestesses to their new home.
Carefully, the Heroes each escorted a cloaked Priestess down to the Undercity Market. Icel braved the Mirror Maze first, then the remainder of the group slowly made their way through. Despite taking a long time, everyone eventually negotiated the magical maze. Then the Heroes led the way back to the Scriptorium.
As the group wandered through the long Pillared Hall a sudden incantation plunged them in magical darkness. Leneth was able to use his heat vision to attack a charging troll. Icel cast Bladesharp on his longsax, and could then attack the troll by the light of his glowing blade.
Anstelle unleashed one of her Sunrods to dispel the magical darkness, flooding the pillared hall with bright light.
Javan was then able to fend off a charging troll with a two-handed mattock. Anstelle engaged the Dark Initiate troll, matching her Sunrod against the troll's shadow magic. While the Heroes fought the trolls, a horde of trollkin swarmed the Lunar Priestesses.
After a bitter and confused battle, Icel and Leneth managed to kill their troll. The elf archer then began to pick off the trollkin, while Icel threw his spear at the troll attacking Javan. When this was not enough to take down the troll, Icel charged at the troll, before pummelling it in the face with his horned helm.
Leneth peppered the remaining trollkin with arrows, killing a couple more and driving the remainder out of the pillared hall. Anstelle was finally able to slay the dark acolyte, despite the magical shadows that were wreathing her body.
Icel claimed the head of the troll as his usual prize and Leneth reclaimed many of his arrows from the slain. Meanwhile Anstelle harvested troll bile from the dead Acolyte, noting that each troll had a red skull tattoo in its fur. Plus, many of the dead carried either bronze chains or manacles. The sight of so much blood led Icel to a frenzy of decapitations, claiming the heads of all the vanquished.
As the stench of troll blood filled the hall, Nemerte broke the news to the wounded Javan that the Trollkins had snatched away Leofrun in all the confusion.
Evening, Quarryday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
While the other Heroes were raiding Angriz's Tower, Icel had been occupied with Ranisso's ceremony. It had taken the Bariaur Priest several hours to prepare, and he seemed a little unsure of some elements, but in the end it had all proceeded well. During the Ritual Icel noticed that the power of the City God was weak in comparison with Orlanth.
Icel found himself in a throne room, with an aged model of the Ptolus on the floor. Even at this scale, the Spire was still massive. As Icel knelt to receive the blessing of the aged God, he heard a voice in his head.
"Follow the Bell!" Intoned the City God.
Once the Ritual was complete, Icel wandered out of the Ptoleum and through the darkening streets to Hurloon's hangar. The Ritual had clearly taken longer than he thought, and the Ruby Skimmer was long gone from her hangar by the time he arrived. Icel decided to wait in Hurloon's small office, curling himself up on the Minotaur's rough bed and sampling a fine barrel of ale that had clearly been left out ready for visitors.
Meanwhile, Maku was dangling from part of the ornithopter's landing struts, while Hurloon was desperately trying to avoid the attention of the pursuing Collegium Watch. Anstelle pulled the terrified Maku into the body of the craft, while Javan sought advice from Hurloon.
Javan was sent to the back of the Skimmer, to the rear access hatch where a black powder swivel cannon waited on a folding tripod. He quickly swung up the cannon, only to miss the pursuing Lightning Sled entirely.
Anstelle tried to concoct some vials of Alchemist's Fire to throw at one of the Lightning Rafts, only to be shot with a Magelock carbine instead. Further exchanges proved inconclusive, as the Skimmer took more hits and began to shudder alarmingly. In desperation, Javan shouted to Hurloon to get them alongside the pursuing Lightning Sled.
As the Skimmer danced between the towers of the Collegium, Hurloon looped around a bridge between two towers, but this damaged the ornithopter further as he clipped her tail on the bridge. The Skimmer was now flying alongside the Sled.
Javan summoned all his concentration to overcome the pain from his blistered skin. Immediately, the Aquitanian used his quarterstaff to vault through the open doors of the ornithopter and into the Lightning Sled, the force of his entry knocking the human Guard completely out of the small craft.
Inspired by Javan's heroics, Anstelle persuaded Maku to launch her into the Lightning Sled too. Yet, the intervening distance proved too great, and the brave gnome only managed to grasp onto the side of the Sled, where her weight unbalanced the craft. Javan was left to grapple with the Minotaur pilot alone, as the pair of them wrestled for control of Javan's quarterstaff. As the Lightning Sled veered out of control, Javan dropped his staff in exchange for his repeating crossbow, and shot the surprised pilot at point-blank range.
The Minotaur toppled back, out of the Lightning Sled, leaving our two Heroes alone in a pilot-less Lightning Sled. Fortunately, Anstelle was able to use her natural talent for controlling lightning to crudely take command of the Sled. As the gnome carefully found the limits of her control, Hurloon had managed to evade the last of the pursuing Collegium Watch, and was waiting to guide the Sled back to the Ruby Skimmer's hangar in the Crafter's District.
Icel heard the approaching ornithopter in just enough time to vacate Hurloon's comfortable cot, and meet the returning Heroes on the landing pad. Anstelle managed to land the Sled safely, if a little bumpily. Immediately, Hurloon hurried to douse the smouldering fire in the engine compartment of the Ruby Skimmer. Icel's Multi-missiled bucket of sand proved effective if not popular.
Once the cloud of smoke had dissipated, and the choking ended, the Heroes decided that speed was of the essence, and that they should fly straight to the Inverted Pyramid for their meeting with Moynath. Under Hurloon's guidance, Anstelle was able to fly the Sled to the invisible pyramid. Icel took this opportunity to void his bladder over Midtown from a great height.
As soon as the Sled landed on the upper surface of the pyramid, the cloaking illusion fell away and the Heroes could see the huge flying pyramid. Hurloon led them all inside, where he quickly brought Moynath to meet them.
Moynath was impressed with the haul of scrolls from Angriz's Tower, and explained how they show that Angriz was researching the Unity Engine. This was an ancient, multi-part artefact that featured in the Hero Wars. The information was easily good enough for Anstelle to earn membership to the Inverted Pyramid. Moynath handed over an amulet for Anstelle, and explained the benefits of membership.
Icel was keen to relate his experiences with the Waning Star, which fascinated Moynath. The Minotaur explained how the orb is a part of the Unity Engine. Icel is asked to keep Moynath informed of his progress, but Moynath can offer little information in return. He did, however, explain that The Tolling Bell cult is a secretive chaos cult, for which other cults, such as the Crimson Coil, act as feeders. Thus, membership of The Tolling Bell is hard to achieve, but the cultist are more fanatical and more experienced. While other chaos cults may be disruptive, it is The Tolling Bell who represent a far more serious threat.
Moynath was reluctant to provide too much more information, on the basis that the Heroes have little more to offer him in return, at this stage. Their enquiries into the Inica Shrine are met with evasive answers, and a passing reference to the God Learner's Collective, or part of it, clearing up behind Project Jade. Likewise, the various items seized from the Tower could be identified by a fellow Alchemist in the Inverted Pyramid laboratories.
A salve was brought for Javan's blisters, to be added to Anstelle's tab. Yet, as Moynath has stemmed his flow of information, the Heroes decided to fly back to Hurloon's hangar and regroup.
Late Morning, Quarryday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
As Icel's amulet is due to expire at Noon, the Heroes return to the Midtown Ptoleum to learn what Ranisso has discovered in the reclaimed scrolls. They find the Bariaur Priest in an excited state.
He tells them how the mysterious orb is properly known as the Waning Star, an ancient artefact of Law. While the records are silent on the origins of the Waning Star, they do describe it as a "Gift of the Hero Wars" and name it as the "Key to the Prison". The Star was kept safe in the old Waning Star Monastery where is could keep chaos out of the world and help to protect the city.
Given recent events in Ptolus, it seems clear that the absence of the Waning Star has had a detrimental effect, so Icel is keen to learn how he can recover the orb after it vanished from Aquilia's possession. Ranisso has no idea how that can be achieved. However, he does offer to remove the Curse from Icel in exchange for him accepting a Geas to recover the Waning Star.
As Ranisso prepares for the Geas Ceremony, the Heroes head back into the Temple district to see if the situation at the Shrine of Inica has improved. The Rune Heroes struggle through the dust-laden breeze to the burnt Shrine. As they approach the Inicaeum, an Air Barge lifts off from the street, and flies off to the University District.
Looking down the alley leading to the Shrine, the Heroes see that the Watch presence has been reduced to a pair of sleepy Scaridaurs, wrapped tightly in their cloaks to avoid the swirling dust. The Heroes try to simply walk past the drowsing Guards and into the Shrine courtyard, but they are quickly noticed.
Javan attempts to persuade the Guards to allow the Heroes to investigate the Shrine, but the conversations grows increasingly heated. While the Guards are occupied, the others attempt to explore the remains of the Shrine. The roof has burnt down, and the body of the Shrine shows signs of having already been cleared.
Passing over the scorched blood on the floor, Anstelle turns her attention to the agricultural murals that seem to have been altered. Zealous application of dilute acid reveals little except that there was an original painting beneath the altered mural of farmers planting Wild Rice. Similar investigation of the battered carved column in the courtyard likewise reveals little beyond a single layer of white paint in a chain pattern.
Meanwhile the pair of Guards are growing ever more hostile. The Heroes decide to leave, rather than wait for Watch reinforcements to arrive. Icel returns to the Ptoleum to participate in the Geas Ceremony, and the other Heroes spend a pleasant afternoon chatting in the Ghostly Minstrel as they wait for their evening appointment with Hurloon.
Once the sun has set, Anstelle, Javan and Maku head down to the Crafter's District, where they easily find the warehouse off Smoke Street. On the second storey is the hangar for the Ruby Skimmer and a large flat roof from which it can take off. Hurloon is waiting for them in the hangar, tinkering with the engine.
Once everyone is aboard the ornithopter, Hurloon takes them up. He spirals the Ruby Skimmer up high over the city, before swooping off to the University District. While there are scattered lights showing in the Order of Bountiful Arcana tower, Angriz's smaller tower remains dark. Hurloon quietly sets the Heroes down on the landing pad outside the tower.
Finding the door locked, Anstelle uses her remaining acid to eat into the hinges. While this weakens the metal, it is not enough to secure entry, and she has to resort to kicking open the damaged door.
Cold air washes over the Heroes as Anstelle lights a Sunrod and the group enters the cold tower. The first floor appears to be a reception area, with a table, some chairs and a scattering of plates and cups. Further exploration is interrupted by an angry hiss from the circular hole in the centre of the ceiling.
Bellowing in fury, a crystalline figure jumps down from the hole. Anstelle recognises it as an Ice Elemental as the creature blasts a cone of cold at Maku. The grimalkin tries to distract the Elemental with a tale of hot climes, but the beast takes little notice. Javan bravely rushes in with his quarterstaff, but the mundane weapon has little effect on the Elemental. Instead, Javan is swathed in the creature's freezing aura.
Anstelle steps close to the Ice Elemental, ignoring the freezing air that surrounds the creature. She breaks a phial of Alchemist's fire on the beast's back, then thanks her Wyrd as the Ice Elemental dissolves into a ball of superheated steam. Once again, Anstelle takes no notice of this extreme environment, but the cloud of steam scalds the unfortunate Javan, leaving his skin red and peeling painfully.
Free to explore the Tower, the Heroes discover that it has no staircase, just the hole in the ceiling. Looking up to through the hole, Javan sees that there is a Glyph trap floating over the hole to the third floor of the Tower. The Heroes move the table to allow them to climb up to the second level of the Tower.
This level is empty except for pools of melting ice dotted about the floor. The Heroes decide to make use of Maku's Aqua Shield wand to overcome the sorcerous trap that Angriz has left. Balancing the swirling shield of arcane water on his arm, Maku is boosted up into the third floor by Anstelle.
As soon as Maku is close to the Glyph, the waiting Brain Freeze spell discharges. The icy arcane energies freeze and shatter the Aqua Shield, but Maku suffers no ill effects. Immediately, the grimalkin drops his wand and snatches at the floorboards, before he tumbles back down the tower.
Pulling himself onto the third floor, Maku finds himself in Angriz's study. Quickly, he passes all the papers he can find down to a jubilant Anstelle. Maku also finds a pair of amulets and a selection of other interesting items. He also investigates a trapdoor in the ceiling, climbing up onto the roof of the small tower.
The roof features a large telescope on a tripod. When Maku looks through the telescope he can see a detailed image of the Red Moon. Unfamiliar with the standard moon at this magnification, Maku has no idea whether the patterned surface he can see is unusual. Regardless, the telescope itself is of interest, and he quickly lifts it up from the tripod base. Unfortunately, the telescope is much too large to be easily passed down through the tower, so Maku is forced to leave it on the roof for the moment.
Instead, he returns to Anstelle and Javan, and the Heroes take their plunder out of the tower and back to Hurloon in the waiting ornithopter. They easily persuade Hurloon to fly the Ruby Skimmer up to the top of the tower so that they can collect the telescope. Hurloon skilfully manoeuvres the Skimmer up to the top of the tower, where Maku jumps out and passes up the bulky telescope.
Just as Maku makes his leap to return to the ornithopter, Hurloon spots a flying patrol of the University Watch. The minotaur jinks the Skimmer at precisely the wrong moment, leaving Maku hanging from part of the ornithopter's spindly landing struts just as the University Watch swoop down.
Early Evening, Marketday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
When Javan and Anstelle return to the Ptolus City Temple they find Icel shut in a store room with a pair of nubile Lunar Novices. As Javan and Anstelle discuss the evening's events with Nemerte, the Dalenguard bell rings out to declare an imminent curfew. The Heroes decide to spend the night in the City Temple.
When the second round of Watch bells toll to declare the curfew, the Rune Heroes hear a familiar spectral bell toll an answering chime. None of the Priests present hear the final bell.
Quarryday dawns bright and clear. The Heroes collect breakfast from the Ghostly Minstrel, where they meet up again with Maku.
After eating in the City Temple, the Heroes decide to revisit the Temple District to try to learn more about the fires they spotted last night. Out on the streets, the atmosphere of Ptolus has returned to normal. In the Temple District, the Lunar Temple is a smoking shell, the gates torn down and the Temple defaced. Picking through the ruins are a few members of the Pale Dogs street gang.
Initially hostile to the Rune Heroes, the Pale Dogs quickly change their attitude when they are recognised as the Rune Heroes that stormed the gates of the Temple last night. The Heroes are then permitted to explore the remains of the Temple, but little remains among the wreckage.
Moving through the District, the Heroes proceed to the site of the second fire that was seen last night. A Watch Patrol are guarding the small street leading to the smoking remains of the second shrine. The Patrol Leader is adamant that nobody is allowed through to the Shrine of Inica, Goddess of Wild Rice.
Puzzled and a little frustrated, the Heroes decide to move on and search for Moynath at Castle Shard. As this trip would require passage through the Dalenguard, Icel decide not to risk Watch attention and go back to the Ptolus City Temple. Once there, his attempts to help an excited Ranisso with the scrolls are blocked by Icel's illiteracy, so he returns to chatting with Leofrun and Herinth.
Once through into the Nobles' Quarter, Anstelle, Javan and Maku quickly find Castle Shard, an impressive moated Castle in the Aquitanian style. They are met by the attentive Kadmus, who quickly offers refreshments. Apologetically, Kadmus explains that Moynath is busy elsewhere, but that he will arrange to have Hurloon meet them in an hour.
Back in Midtown, the Heroes reunite at the Ghostly Minstrel, where they chat happily together. Their plans are interrupted by a gruff voice threatening Anstelle, while a Magelock pistol is held to her head. As the Heroes are about to react, the tap room is filled with hearty laughter as Hurloon introduces himself to the group.
The minotaur first hands over the Aqua Shield wand to Maku, complete with its activation command. Next, Hurloon turns his attention to Anstelle. If she wants to join the Inverted Pyramid, he explains, then she would need to pass an aptitude test, a small matter of raiding a Mage's tower attached to the main Order of Bountiful Arcana tower in the University District.
Hurloon will fly the Heroes to the Tower in the Ruby Skimmer, his Dragonfly class ornithopter, but he will need to stay with his craft. Anstelle would have to lead her team into the Tower, deal with any guardians, and then remove Angriz's papers and any sundry items they find. The Inverted Pyramid want the papers, Anstelle can keep the rest.
Anstelle is initially reluctant, but Maku quickly recounts tales of how the Collegium have drained the island of Jrustela of life in their quest for sorcerous power. As more background on the Collegium is revealed, Anstelle grows more eager to harm the corrupt Collegium.
Mid afternoon, Marketday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
The Heroes attempt to question the Balacazar bandits, but the Thulan is too badly wounded and the Lithyr only issues curses and threats. Icel ends their suffering, while Ranisso excitedly searches the ruined storeroom.
Laden with dusty scrolls and tablets, the Bariaur leads the Heroes back through the Undercity, and out through the Mirror Maze. The Undercity Market, however, is curiously deserted at this relatively early hour. Anstelle questions the warriors guarding the Temple to Detexonia, learning of the strange posters that have appeared across the city.
The Heroes take an increasingly nervous Ranisso back to the City Temple, where he promises to begin to read through the retrieved scrolls. Around Delver Square are a large number of crude posters depicting the Moon and Chaos Runes. Daubed on the doors of the City Temple is the same Moon and Chaos Rune combination, along with a smaller spiral symbol, all painted in blood.
The Heroes then set out in the rain to try to learn more, finding small groups of people drifting towards the Lunar Temple in the Temple District. As they get closer, the crowd thickens around the Temple, angry at the recent appearance of the Red Moon. Scattered within the crowd are individuals in strange red robes, but none of the Heroes manage more than a brief look.
Icel is accosted by Gatsha, the sinister grimalkin who had engineered to removal of the orb from below The Weary Traveller. Icel has little time to talk, but Gatsha is amused at his presence here. The initial hostile mood of the crowd towards the Rune Heroes is quickly changed when the Heroes begin to pound on the front gates of the Temple. Slowly, the crowd join in, hammering at the gates with increasing eagerness even when the Heroes depart for a back gate.
Javan easily persuades the sentry to admit the Rune Heroes into the Lunar Temple, where they talk with Nemerte, the High Priestess. While reluctant to leave, Nemerte is quickly shown the severity of the risk to the Temple, and agrees to evacuate with her entourage. The Heroes lead the Lunar Priestesses through the back streets of the Temple District, and then back to the Ptolan City Temple.
Ranisso is initially reluctant to offer sanctuary, but Anstelle invokes her Wyrd to show the Ptolan Priest the honourable path. Safe inside the City Temple, Icel begins to talk to an attractive young Novice Priestess, while Javan and Anstelle decide to search for some answers.
Their first destination is Castle Shard in the Nobles' Quarter, but the Dalenguard is closed. Wandering around Oldtown, they try to find the Inverted Pyramid. A City Guard outside the closed City University explains to them how hard it is to find a flying, invisible pyramid. Disheartened, the pair return to the Ptolan Temple, while in the gloom they see a pair of fires bloom in the Temple District
Early afternoon, Marketday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
The Heroes regroup on the far side of the Mirror Maze. Icel clutches the Medicine Bundle of his new Spirit Alynx Follower. As Anstelle cracks open one of her Sunrods, Ranisso brings out his map and the group descend into the Undercity.
The Bariaur's map takes the Heroes through dusty chambers and through the labyrinthine corridors of the ruined Undercity. Fresh cracks on the walls and newly-fallen rubble are evidence of the recent earthquake, but the group meet no fellow Delvers.
After a short march, Ranisso declares that they have reached the Scriptorium, and hands over the ornate bronze key. Icel creeps up to the stout door, but can hear nothing through the thick panels. Anstelle calmly unlocks the door in total silence.
Adopting a more direct approach, Icel kicks open the door and charges the surprised Troll guards. Javan cautiously engages the second Troll, as Ranisso looses bolts from the doorway. Icel smashes a barrel chair against the Troll, before using the battered metal band to hold the guard in position for another lethal head butt from his horned Helm. Meanwhile, Anstelle hammers Ranisso's bolts deeper into the second Troll, rapidly ending the combat. Elated, the Heroes push deeper into the Scriptorium.
The next room is barricaded with rubble and fallen beams, but offers little hindrance to most of the Heroes. Only Javan finds the scrambling climb to be troubling, grazing his knees and hands as he scrambles over the rough stonework.
Beyond the blockade is another room, more sumptuous than the bare guardroom. Waiting for the Heroes are a Lithyr wielding twin spiked whips and a bearded Thunir bodyguard standing on a table, twirling his axe menacingly. Icel immediately uses the severed, bloody Troll head and some anatomically impossible profanities to severely demoralize the brigands. He follows this up with an improvised attack on the Thunir, sliding under the table and spearing the warrior with Skaven Bane and Multi-missile.
Javan advances warily, using his quarter staff to block one of the Lithyr's whirling whips, but taking a blow round the head from the second. Anstelle takes advantage of Javan taking the bandit's attention, leaps over the writhing tail, and smoothly stabs the Lithyr between the lower shoulder-blades.
Moynath continues to disdainfully offer the Heroes snippets of information. He does, however, introduce the Heroes to Anstelle, a Gnome Alchemist Rune Hero. Shortly afterwards, Panope brings over Javan, a newly-arrived Acquitanian Merchant well-acquainted with her family back in Achea, and yet another Rune Hero. She suggests that Javan could be a "replacement" for the missing Ibanion. Maku departs to consult with his Shaman friends, mulling over the meagre clues that Moynath had offered the group.
Icel immediately persuades his two new friends to help him solve his Lion Guardian issue. As the "warband" leave The Ghostly Minstrel they hear a City Crier announce a reward for Shilukar, a Fensir Thief and Mage. As this is a House Abanar proclamation, Javan is eager to help the Merchant House and thereby gain some useful contacts.
Scampering through the rain, the Heroes take a circular route to the Midtown Ptoleum, avoiding the nearby Watch Station. This takes them past a variety of slave gangs and city workers clearing up after the recent earthquake.
After no reply at the rear of the Temple, Javan and Anstelle persuade Ranisso, the nervous Ptolan Priest, to let Icel into the Temple and hear his tale. Ranisso considers Icel's crimes, but can only offer a short-term solution at this time, as he lacks enough information about the mysterious Orb that Icel also removed from the old temple. To learn more details, Ranisso asks the Heroes to accompany him into the Undercity, to reclaim some records from an old Ptolan Scriptorium. This is reputed to be the lair of a Balacazar bandit, so Ranisso is expecting the Heroes to provide him with protection, while he collects the precious scrolls and tablets.
Eager to be rid of his vengeful Guardian, Icel leads the Heroes immediately to the Undercity Market, pausing only long enough for Ranisso to carefully secure the Temple. Once in the unusually empty Market, the Heroes brave the Mirror Maze route into the Undercity.
All the Heroes face a challenging journey through the Maze. Icel invokes his Wyrd several times, finally seeking aid from the absent Hunts For Bones to lead him through the enchanted steel mirrors. Anstelle too resorts to her Wyrd, while Javan simply relies upon his Divine sense of Truth to find the true route. Elated, the Heroes regroup on the far-side of the Mirror Maze and prepare to enter the abandoned Undercity.
As Icel relives the Albino Skaven's body of the burden of its head, Maku quickly finds the Skaven treasure chest. Wealthier by a bag of coins, a silver ring and a Aquamancy wand, along with the return of Icemourn, the Heroes explore the rest of the deserted Skaven Nest.
Icel finds Skaven Bane in the abandoned Shrine, and celebrates by knocking down the crude Skaven idol. As they move towards the exit, Ptolus is shaken by a large earthquake. The Heroes dodge falling lumps of rock and flee to the Cesspool chamber.
Only to find the pool drained of water, and a pipe outflow is revealed in the depths of the pool. After sparing a quick thought for Ibanion, Maku and Icel decide to flee the decaying Skaven Nest.
Out in the sewers proper, the Heroes are amazed to see that the water has vanished here too, leaving a thick, gloopy sludge in the bottom of the tunnel. As they make their way back to the access point, Maku hears the roar of approaching water.
Suddenly the tunnel behind them is filled with a rushing wall of water. The Heroes flee. Despite Icel's wounds, he proves to be fleet of foot, sprinting for the access ladder. Maku finds that his retractable claws fail him, and the water bears down on him. Just as Icel scrambles clear, the water catches Maku and spits him out of the sewer in a fountain of filth.
Choking and spluttering, Maku finds himself sprawled at the feet of a pair of wizardly minotaurs. Moynath is amused by the pair of bedraggled Rune Heroes and casts a powerful sorcery to dry them out. As Icel drags away Maku, the grimalkin issues a garbled invitation to Moynath to meet him later to examine the wand they found in the Nest.
After a brief trip to the Weary Traveller, the Heroes separate for the night. Maku returns to Tent City to meet up with his Shaman mentors Bukelwa and Nonyaniso. After tending to his injured Spirit Followers, the three Animists discuss the implications of recent events. They suggest that the appearance of the Red Moon may well be the result of some monstrous sorcery, but exactly what, and by whom, remains unclear. Likewise, they are of the opinion that the earthquake was probably not directly linked to the Red Moon. The repeated instance of the spectral bell, however, may suggest some linking factor. Finally, the Shamans are convinced that neither phenomena are Animist in origin.
Icel's evening is more action-filled. After a quick trip to a Chalana Arroy Priestess for healing, he heads for Panope's room at the Ghostly Minstrel. On passing the Delver Square Watch Station he is attacked by a small lion Guardian that rouses the Watch. Icel stands his ground, only to be arrested and spend the night in the cells. Following a short interview with a Watch Sergeant, Icel is released and cautioned not to leave the City.
Icel is freed midmorning of Marketday and continues his journey to the Ghostly Minstrel where he is reunited with Maku. Icel discusses his predicament with Panope, before returning downstairs to Maku in time for Moynath and friend to bless the Heroes with his presence. Maku's initial attempts to impress the Aquamancer are met with cold disdain.
Early Evening, Farmday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
"Kill the Intruders!" Screeches the Rat Brute. "Drive them from our Nest!"
Icel throws his javelin at the Skaven Brute hanging from the ceiling, impaling it in the shoulder with his Battle Magic. Ibanion and Maku charge at one group of Skaven, only for two of the Skaven to leap upon the minotaur and drag him into the filthy water. Neither Ibanion or the Skaven return to the surface. Cuthbert and Hunts for Bones both materialize to join the fight.
Icel quickly knocks the Skaven Brute from the ceiling, wrestling it to the ground before drowning it in the water. Maku quickly stab the remaining Skaven, before helping Hunts for Bones overwhelm a rat swarm that burst up from the rubbish-strewn floor. The Hyena ends up covered in bites, but the Heroes overcome their foes in the end. Icel claims another Skaven head as a trophy.
Exploring further, Icel chases his Wyrd to find a room filled with Trollkin slaves in suspended cages. Quickly, Icel releases the Trollkin, forming them into a reluctant mob to do his bidding.
Maku hears a mass of chattering Skaven recede into the distance, as Icel leads his small army deeper into the Nest. At the end of the tunnel, the Heroes come face-to-face with the albino Skaven Ratlord brandishing a Magelock pistol and with Icel's missing Sax tucked in his belt. Behind the Ratlord stands his menacing Rat Brute Bodyguard, and a swirling mass of rats.
Icel throws a severed Rat Brute head at the Ratlord and issues his demands, unsettling the albino. Further attempts at intimidation are met with the Ratlord calmly firing his pistol at Icel. As the Albian's shoulder is bathed in scorching magical energy, the Bodyguard and mass of rats attack.
Icel impales the Rat Lord with his spear, before closing in for the kill. Half the rat swarm pursues the fleeing Trollkin through the Nest. Maku invokes his Wyrd to launch a fearsome pounce onto the Bodyguard, quickly disembowelling the overwhelmed Skaven. The remaining opposition flees as Icel butts his horned helm into the albino's face, smashing its nose to a bloody pulp.
Early Evening, Farmday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
Maku tries to recall a suitable story about the sinister bell he alone heard. He attempts to use his Owl Knows the Truth Charm, but the effort proves disastrous and his Charm is weakened.
Stepping outside, our Heroes notice what seems to be a small new red moon in the night sky.
The Heroes then head for the sewers and Icel quickly leads them through the fetid tunnels to the Skaven Nest.
Icel uses his Multimissile Battle Magic to impale a sentry, only to have the three hidden ones flee back to the nest.
After dancing over the open sewer, using the dead Skaven as a steppingstone, the Hero Band reaches the entrance to the Nest.
Each Hero bellows out their battle cry, intimidating the waiting Skaven guards, so that only the Head Guard remains to challenge the pursuing Icel. Despite wearing Icel's missing Horned Helm and cloak, and wielding a stolen Magelock carbine, the Head Guard is quickly slain. Victorious, Icel reclaims his stolen property and takes the Skaven's head as a trophy.
The Heroes begin to explore the Nest, starting with the first of several rubbish-filled rooms. Maku slays an Infernal Rat that tried to ambush Ibanion, as Icel finds more of his possessions.
Moving onwards, and leaving several suspected Infernal Rats in the room, the Hero Band find a room full of wet rubbish around an open cesspool. As their noses adjust to the damp stink, they spot two small groups of Skaven lead by a Skaven Brute clinging to the ceiling by his feet.
Late afternoon, Farmday, Magic Week, Delve Season 1008.
Panope brings together our three Rune Heroes; Icel Brightseax, Makukhanye and Ibanion. United at the Weary Traveller, the three Heroes carefully introduce themselves over a flagon of ale.
Icel describes his struggles against a nest of Skaven, and how they finally overpowered him and looted his body, the tale confirmed by a brief appearance of Cuthbert, Icel's ghost Gaunt follower and former teacher. The Hero Band agree to find the Skaven nest and reclaim Icel's missing equipment.
Then our Heroes are unsettled by a sudden and violent disturbance in the Balance of the World. Their Rune Tattoos throb and Makukhanye hears the distant tolling of a sinister bell.