Cora’s Champions – Versali-Virai Sewers, P1

After chasing down one of the initiates of the Enkindled Brotherhood, Wryn, Cora’s Champions and their new companion, Alexander, were set to embark into the sewers, where it was alleged that the Brotherhood’s hideout was.

Though most of the party was eager to venture into the sewers, not all preferred it.  Coupled with the need to turn Wryn and her associate, Grimm, in to the authorities, that meant that not all the party members would be able to seek out the hideout.  Noomali, with her noble background, had no interest in the filth beneath the city.  Fortune offered to travel with her, knowing that it was not safe for her to bring them to the guards alone.

The rest of the party set to work immediately, using the key that Wryn had to unlock the barred gate into the sewers.  With caution guiding their steps, they descended into the slime and the muck, checking for traps along the way.  It seemed like any other sewer system, but Alexander knew better, having been aligned with the Brotherhood until recently.  Signs of life were apparent, and the stray screech of some creature echoed through the branching paths of the sewers.  Some corridors were blocked by heavy gates, and without the proper key handy—if any should have existed at all by that point—they were forced to find other means to progress through.

The party soon came across a sinkhole that had badly damaged the sewers in the northeast portion of the system.  A sizable pit, nearly 10 feet across, had opened up, and filled with fetid water over time.  Using their wits, the party used nearby flotsam that had washed into the sewers from a recent storm, to make a bridge to cross the gap.  After lashing together two planks with rope, nearly all the party made their way to the other side.

But, under the weight of his armor and equipment, the makeshift bridge collapsed beneath Megit.  With a desperate leap, he caught hold of the remnants of the plank, which Grohl stood upon, barely keeping it upright.  Thinking fast, Pikeldorf tied a rope around his waist and threw the other end to Megit, who still dangled in the pit.  Together with Anaria, Pikeldorf was able to pull Megit to safety.

Further ahead in the sewers, Alexander could not sate his curiosity, and he peered around corners for traps or enemies.  With screeches still echoing out in the area, he knew that he needed to be on his guard.  The rogue spotted a pressure plate trap, and warned his companions, marking the trap with a silver coin.  That pressure plate sat before a room in the sewers that looked to have been once used for maintenance equipment once long ago.  Any supplies had since moved on, but a treasure chest sat across the room, luring adventurers like Alexander closer.  Though he had a sense that things were amiss, he could not dismiss his love for treasure, and he wrenched the chest open with his crowbar.  A wire fashioned to the inside of the chest snapped, setting a trap in motion.  A torrent of water burst out of the pipe behind the treasure chest, sending it forward—right toward the pressure plate.  Francois was safe, but no one knew what dangers would occur if the treasure chest set off the weight mechanism.  Throwing caution to the wind, Pikeldorf threw leapt onto the moving chest, slowing its movement toward the pressure plate.  It stopped just at the edge there, the water continuing to move past it, rounding the corner and depositing into the sinkhole they had passed earlier.  Alexander hopped atop the chest then as well, helping to keep it in place.  While there, he used his grappling hook and rope to tether the chest to one of the pipes fixed along the top of the corridor.  That bit of ingenuity kept the chest from moving any further, even when the two adventurers hopped from it.

Unfortunately, Alexander’s luck took a brief turn when he set off the pressure plate with an awkward, slippery jump over the stone.  The mechanism that the pressure plate was affixed to activated, and a false ceiling gave way, dumping rubble atop the rogue’s head.  Though he sustained only a minor injury to his person, it was the injury to his pride that hurt the most.

The party continued, hearing another screech in the sewers that Anaria could tell for certain belonged to a rat.  As they prepared to move on, thinking that battle could unfold at any moment, they saw a curious sight in the sewers.  Another room that had been repurposed since the sewers initial construction had a peculiarly placed man facing away from the adventurers.  As they drew closer, Grohl learned that the man was deceased (and he also found a leather strap that had letters inscribed upon it).  After further investigation, his predicament seemed to become clearer.  He lay strewn atop a chest, and a deep puncture wound (along with two smaller wounds) in his back seemed to be the death blow.  Just above him, a ladder led out of the sewers.  The party speculated that he had either died trying to leave the sewers, or that upon entering them, he was attacked and killed from behind.

Though they were aware of noises in the sewers, it was the shuffling noise above the ladder that piqued Alexander’s interest the most.  With either great courage or great foolishness, the rogue jumped up and scaled the ladder, peering up out of the manhole there.

He was surprised to see a dwarf in the building—a small, ramshackle building that looked strewn about with a variety of items.  The dwarven druid, by the name of Theodin, revealed that his goddess urged him to go to Versali-Virai after his forest was attacked by members of the Enkindled Brotherhood.  Together, they realized that the man he was tracking was the man who had died in the sewers, though it was allegedlys not by Theodin’s hands.  Alexander also returned with items for the party, for he was able to find magical candles in the man’s house.  The wax of the candles would never melt, and the wicks would never burn away.  He distributed them as the party met Theodin.  Theodin was happy to meet with another dwarf, and they discussed their strange situation in dwarven while the rest of the party conversed.  Alexander had also become aware of a hidden silver knife in one of the dead man’s notes, as well as the supposed presence of “rat-things” in the sewers which were supposed to fear that silver in some way.  The knife was stashed in a pipe in the room, but a storm had washed it farther into the pipe.  If they filled up a bucket, which they found in the chest the man had died atop, they could wash the knife out of the other side of the pipe and wield it against any of the so-called rat-things.

Though Megit briefly suggested that they investigate the room the man died in a bit more thoroughly, Alexander was eager to get his hands on the knife, wary of any creatures that could have done them harm—along with whatever killed the man with the notes.  Megit waived any notion of further investigation, knowing that if he were on hand for any danger, he could help to protect his friends.

Danger was fast upon them then, it seemed.  Another portion of the sewers had fallen into disrepair, and they sensed a creature within a hole that had been scratched and dug out along the side of the next corridor.  While Alexander snuck past, eager to find the knife, Megit spotted the creature they heard, a large rat that scratched at the earthen wall in the hole there.  It soon became aware of them as well and rose from its spot.  The party soon learned that it was not merely a giant rat, but a were-rat, and one that seemed to have some martial prowess.  It deftly wielded a bo staff, which it struck out with at once, sending Megit back several feet as it entered the corridor.  Peculiarly, it also seemed to don a purple headband.

Though he heard a ruckus behind him, Alexander hurried on in pursuit of the silver knife that the dead man had written of.  The corridors of the sewers broke off in three directions, but he used his intuition to try to identify the pathway that would lead to the other end of the pipe that the knife would have sat within.

The rest of Cora’s Champions, along with their new companion, Theodin, fell upon the were-rat at once.  Together, they inflicted a sizable amount of damage to the were-rat.  Knowing it had been bested, it threw down a strange object, summoning a huge plume of smoke that filled that area of the sewers.  Before long, the party realized that he was trying to escape, and several of them gave chase.

Meanwhile, Alexander still searched for the other end of the pipe.  It was only then that he realized that, with the bucket in his hands, the knife was sure to fall out the other end of the pipe.  Though he was aggravated, he cried out to his allies that he was going to wash the knife through to the other side.  He also noticed, even in his haste, that a strange cable hung down along the wall of that corridor.

While other members of the party pursued the fleeing were-rat, Anaria investigated the room that it had been crouched within.  She heard Alexander’s echoing words and left to try and find the knife.

Though they chased after the creature as fast as they could, Megit and Grohl lost sight of the were-rat amongst the many twists and turns of the sewers.  They gathered at the intersection that Alexander had passed through earlier, just spotting the water-filled chamber along another untraveled section of the sewers.

While everyone else converged farther along the sewers, Anaria recovered Neddie’s silver knife.  Before she headed deeper into the sewers to meet with everyone else though, she heard knocking from the man’s house above.  Unable to abate her curiosity she climbed the ladder and entered Neddie’s unkempt home.  While there, she heard someone on the other side of the door, though they gave up and walked away after a few more knocks.  Before Anaria left the building, she took a look around.  After all, a cat is nothing if not curious.

After some time, the party regrouped at the intersection.  Alexander and Pikeldorf looked at the cable and traced its path to the chamber just beyond the intersection, and they spotted a second cable that moved down the western corridor.  While investigating that side, Francois heard another nearby screech, and the party chose to investigate.  It did not take long to spot another were-rat, that one donning a red bandana and wielding deadly sais.  That one, however, did not flee, and was dispatched quickly.  Anaria took the bandana off its corpse.

With any semblance of immediate danger gone, the party pulled on the cables along both corridors, and after some further investigating, learned that they were affixed to chains that lifted wooden platforms out of the water in the flooded chamber.

Alexander was the first into that chamber, searching through it and venturing down a new corridor that jutted out along its west side.  He soon discovered an ivory pillar on which was etched crimson runes.  While he made his way back toward his allies, however, he was beset upon by a third were-rat.  That one, donning an orange headband and wielding nunchakus, attacked, but in its crazed state smacked itself with its weapon.  While his companions hurried to help him, more than one of them fell into the water in the flooded chamber, and soon realized that they were not alone.  While a fight occurred on land between Alexander and the were-rat, a hidden monster attacked the members of the party who had fallen into the water.  Grohl, Anaria and Megit all scrambled to get out of the water, and Megit took the first horrible bite from the monster.  After dispatching the were-rat, Pikeldorf(?) threw his corpse into the water, hoping that it would serve as a distraction to the monster.  It worked well enough, for a moment later, the water was stained red with blood.  Moments later though, the creature breached the surface, still viciously attacking members of the party.  By then they could tell that it was a large sewer alligator, and after an exhausting battle that nearly claimed the lives of two of the party, the gator was slain.

The party, though exhausted, approached the pillar, and investigated it for some time before Grohl realized that leather fibers were apparent upon it.  Producing the leather strap that he recovered from Neddie, Grohl wrapped the leather scytale around the pillar, deciphering the code that had been written upon it.

Cora’s Champions, along with their allies, Alexander and Theodin, decided that after their many encounters, it was time to take a rest, and they holed up there beside the pillar.

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Michael DeAngelo

Michael is the creator of the Tellest brand of fantasy novels and stories. He is actively seeking to expand the world of Tellest to be accessible to everyone.