The longest winter

Dark Water

Tendrils of corruption

The Party

Daveak Swordhand (Played by Paul)
Elden Spirefield (Played by Matt)
Frank Wyvern’s Tooth (Played by Steve)
Loraella Ironcore (Played by Leanne)
Marellian Ironcore (Played by Dave)
Rayne (Played by Amanda)

It was been a week since the party investigated the problems in the heating system. During this week, Marellian has been extremely busy. Not only has he managed to scribe several scrolls, he’s also created a flask of acid in his magic laboratory (bedroom). During the time he’s not been secreted away, he’s also been volunteering at the soup kitchen, where he was attempting to find out information regarding the missing people. Being naive, he accepted an invitation to join the compassionate church. Embracing their tenets of faith, he gives half his money to the church, and donates old clothes he saw lying around the house. Unfortunately, some of those clothes belong to his sister…

Meanwhile, Frank has been trying to get a job as a door bouncer, without much luck. he does get asked if he’d like to partake in a bit of cage fighting, but thinks it too similar to his childhood get togethers with relatives. Later in the week, he accepts an invitation to join his cousin’s betrothal party, where he gets asked to join in with a mock battle to take his cousin’s bride from her family, as part of the wedding ceremony. He says he’ll think about it.

Daveak spends the week wandering about in the wilds surrounding Flint-Harrow, where he practises his wilderness craft. He ventures back into town to buy some new weapons and other items of equipment, including a new shaving kit. He is curious to see some of the town’s paupers coming out of Marellian’s house, dressed in Loraella’s clothes, but sees Marellian waving them off, and decides not to inquire.

Where Rayne spends the week, nobody knows. The secretive Tiefling goes to ground, and cannot be found in any of her usual haunts. Not that Elden cares, for he has spent the week carousing and wenching in one of the more expensive (and cleaner) drinking establishments.

Finally, at the week’s end, the party (apart from the still missing Rayne) are reunited in the council chamber, where once again they are faced by Councillor Parathion and Andrews. There is also a member of the Archivist’s guild, who calls himself Havant. He explains that the rags found in the rust monster’s egg chamber could very well be remnants of fine tapestries from the lands before winter. During the clean up operation of the egg chamber, workers of the cinder path guild uncovered a passageway down into the depths. If this is where the rust monster came from, there may well be some buried building under Flint-Harrow. He asks the party to find out where the tunnel leads to, and if there are historic finds, to return with them, so that they may be studied.
Naturally, the party asks what this job pays, and are told that it would depend upon what they returned with. This is not good enough for them, so the Archivist offers 75GP each as a flat rate. Marellian readily accepts the offer, to the horror of the rest of the party. It appears that his acceptance was for all the party members, so they are unable to negotiate further. Marellian is oblivious to the dark looks that are thrown at him.

Andrews takes the party back to the egg chamber, where they can see a tunnel leading down. Bits of mashed eggshell cover the walls and floor of this passage, making it difficult to traverse. Daveak lights one of his torches, and leads the way. Loraella is put out by this, telling him she should be in front of the light. There is a discussion about the merits of low light vision compared to torch light, and Daveak is relegated to the rear of the group. At this moment, Marellian tells his sister he had something important to say to her, but he has forgotten it. Loraella tells him not to worry, she’s sure he’ll remember it soon.

They continue down, until the rough passage turns into a far grander affair, with dressed stone walls and flagstone floor. It opens out into a large room, with a passage leading East and West. The roof of the room seems to have given way in places under the weight of earth above it, and there are piles of rubble everywhere. Bits of other debris are mixed in with the rubble. Daveak begins searching the rubble, while Loraella searches for anything that might harm the party. Frank idly moves a bit of rubble around with his foot, and uncovers a small statuette of ivory, depicting a hooded woman holding a jug. He picks it up, much to the chagrin of Daveak (who thought he’d searched that bit and found nothing there).
At that moment, Rayne appears. When asked about her lateness, she merely shrugs her shoulders. The party decide not to make too much of an issue of it, and continue on.

Turning East from the first room, the party follow another corridor of dressed stone walls and flagstone floor. This leads into a second room, some 40’X40’. The middle of this room is sunk a few feet lower than the rest, with dark, slime-covered tiles. They hear the dripping of water. Elden decides to jump into the sunken area. He skids upon the slime, but keeps his footing. Where he has skidded, the tiles underneath seem to be in a mosaic patern. He begins to wipe more of the slime off the tiles, revealing a depiction of a water nymph frolicking with a male figure. Daveak and loraella check out the walls, and see that under the grime there are scenes of woodland glades and forest pools. Rayne merely wrinkles her nose at the slime.

Heading South, They reach an area of corridor with several doors. Daveak decides to try the door on the East wall, which opens into a small stone ‘priest cell’, with a long stone shelf running along the rear wall. He deduces that this shelf must have once been a sleeping platform, and takes a closer look. To his delight, he manages to find an ancient copper piece, wedged into a crack in the stone.

While Daveak is investigating the small cell, Loraella and Frank take the door on the West wall. In this larger cell is a small cot type bed, a chest of drawers, a desk and a chair. Loraella discovers that one of the drawers is stuck closed, and Frank heaves on it to open it. Inside the drawer is a leather pouch, with a brass ring inside it. He grins at Loraella, and flexes his biceps. Elden examines the desk, but all he finds is a dried up old inkwell.

It seems that all the doors on the East wall are to small ‘priest cells’, while the other door on the West wall opens into another larger cell, in which is a cot bed, a chest, a stool and a bookcase. Elden goes to look at the bookcase, but the scrolls rolled up on it’s shelves are too delicate to open, in case they are destroyed (this does not stop Marellian, who attempts to read one. He sees an ancient pre winter date and three lines of scrawled script, before it crumbles to powder). Loraella studies the locked chest, finding a poison needle trap. she feels this trap is beyond her capabilities, and calls her brother over. He manages to disable the trap, and she then realises she is unable to pick the lock. Rayne saunters over, and picks the lock, with a wink at Marellian. Inside the chest is a rather nice dagger and a bottle of some substance. loraella reaches in and takes them.

Carrying on further along the corridor, they come to a final door. Daveak smells a stange smell seeping out from this door. Warily, he opens it, to reveal a square room. A compase rose is inlayed upon the floor tiles and a pedestal stands in the center of the compass. The strange smell seems to be permeated in the wooden panels of the walls of the room, and they finally realise that the smell is of incense. Still wary, loraella studies the pedestal. There is a small octagonal depression in it’s top, as if something was once inset there. She asks Marellian if he thinks this pedestal has to do with magic, and he replies that it is probable, but he is unsure the exact details. They decide that if they find something with an octagonal shape, they will return here to try it.

Heading back to the North, they come across a large room. It appears that half of the room was destroyed by a landslide of rock, soil and ice. Wooden benches and tables are scattered around, and beakers, plates and cutlery lie where they spilled from the tables. Also in this room are five strange glowing bugs, which the party attack.
Just as Loraella is firing upon one of these firebugs, Marellian tells her he has remembered what he was going to tell her: He has given away all her old clothes he found lying about the house! She nearly misses from the shock, but puts her fury to good use, and kills the bug. Later she and Marellian have a heated discussion about other people’s stuff (and to teach him a lesson, she picks his pocket of some gold, to replace her missing clothes).

The firebugs are killed easily, with only Elden taking damage, which Frank attempts to heal. He binds Elden’s wounds, but when Elden and Frank go to investigate the rockfall in the far side of the room, they discover it is home to a nest of giant ants. These creatures are hardly a threat, and are easily killed. Marellian mentions that all these creatures are unnaturally sized, or distorted in some way. He asks Daveak if he sees this, but Daveak does not answer. Rayne looks around at the cutlery, but decieds it isn’t worth collecting. Marellian picks some up instead.

As there is no way to continue further, the party return to the first room, and take the West passage. This turns North, and opens into a large square room. This room seems to be a lot colder than the rest of the complex. They search the room, and Frank finds a razor. As they search, a misty figure appears from out of thin air. He is lean and strangely elongated, but the half-Elves recognise him as the spirit of a full Elf. His lips do not move, but the party hears the words; “Help me!”
When he sets eyes upon the ghost, Marellian faints.
They stop to listen to the Elf spirit, who explains;
“Long ago, this place was known as the house of Well-Spring Hope. A temple and shrine to the Lady of the Healing Water, and a place of great renown. The wealthy and powerful would come here to relax. Then, one day, a great evil befell us. A creature of darkness and corruption was released into our water system. Before we became aware of it, it had poisoned the minds of many of our customers, and enslaved the minds of many of our staff. One by one we fell to the monster’s enslavement. The bath house gained a fell reputation, and people shunned it.
When the cataclysm struck, the bath house was covered over with rocks and ice. But we who died in the rubble were still not freed from our enslavement. The creature still holds us in thrall. It lurks in it’s inky black pool, and it’s tendrils seek out new life to corrupt. Please, I beg you; kill it, and end our torment. If not for us, but to prevent others falling to it in the future.”

They ask where this fell creature lurks, to which the spirit replies it is in the water supply to the rear of the complex. Elden asks what the creature is called, but the spirit does not know if the creature even has a name. Elden then asks what the spirit’s name is, but the spirit has been dead so long it has forgotten it’s own name. It then cries out;
“Oh no, it knows I’ve warned you. It’s coming for meee…”
An inky black shroud covers the wailing spirit, and it disappears from sight.

After this revelation, the party discuss what they should do. It is decided that they will explore further before confronting the beast. Instead of taking the passage that leads towards the rear of the complex, they turn East. This passage then turns to the north, where it leads into another square room, with a passage to the East. There is a tapestry on the north wall, which rayne goes to investigate. She is sure she can feel a breeze coming from behind the tapestry, and goes to move it. As she pulls on the tapestry, she is struck by some form of magic. Luckily, she is able to shake off it’s effects, causing it to merely dissipate in a flash of brown light, accompanied by a puff of dun coloured smoke and a loud bang. This startles the others, who were going to look down the Eastern passage. They see that Rayne has pulled down the tapestry, revealing a passage leading North. Rayne, Elden and Frank take this North passage, while Marellian, Loraella and Daveak take the East passage.

Rayne, Frank and Elden find that this passage leads directly to a great expanse of water. Fearing that this is what the Elf spirit meant, they quickly turn around and jog back to the others. Marellian is still slowly inching his way down the East corridor, and is amazed to see them back so soon. They tell the others what they have found, and the party carries on.

The Eastern passage turns North, and terminates at a long hallway. Along the walls of this hallway are hung the remnants of fine tapestries. Daveak and Loraella beging to take down the tapestries, and store them in sacks to take back to the Town. The others are eager to carry on, and the party takes an exit in the north wall. This also leads to the large area of water. They walk along the long, narrow walkway that runs East-West, looking around. They see another exit to the West that they have not yet explored, but before they get to it, Rayne looks into the black inky depths of the water, and a tentacle snakes out and tries to wrap around her. alerted to her cries, the party notice other tentacles whipping towards them. Marellian tries to see what is on the far shore, but his attention is focused on a large shape moving in the water. He and Rayne both see something resembling a large bloated squid with long rubbery tentacles, and a large bulbous form. One of it’s baleful eyes locks onto Marellian, and it snakes a tentacle his way.

The battle is fierce, but mainly one sided. Elden gives the thing a couple of powerful blows, while Frank throws the flask of acid that Marellian had created during the week (to their surprise it works). Finally, Frank enters the Orc rage of his heritage, and deals the creature it’s death blow. Only Frank is wounded by the thing, and then only slightly. All in all, a truly heroic encounter. As it sinks beneath the water for a final time, Frank slumps, exhausted by his rage.

Rayne, Elden, Loraella and Daveak decide to continue onward to the West, to see where the passage leads. Marellian stays with the exhausted Frank, and thinks up a way to get across the water. He asks Frank if he would be able to cross on a rope walk, explaining that he could enchant the rope to cross the water, feed through a ring bolt and return to this side. That would make a crude rope bridge fof Frank to cross. Frank tells Marellian to do it, while he recovers his strength.

The others find an old office, which smells of rat pee. In the center of the room is a large nest made from the papers of the office. In the nest are 7 dire rats, which swarm at Elden as he rushes in to slay them. He takes a few bites, but the combined attacks of Rayne, Loraella and Daveak help him to defeat his foes. Daveak finds a magic scroll in the nest, Rayne and Loraella find fine cloth, and Elden finds a wool tapestry that has been soiled by the rats. They return to the water area just as Frank is crossing on Marellian’s enchanted rope bridge.

Frank makes it to the far side, where he sees the remains of several bodies, whose blood has stained the walkway. Shattered statues lie in disarray, and bones lie scattered. Elden asks across the water how the statues got shattered, but Marellian explains that if the residents were possessed by the beast, they would have gained unnatural strength to pick up and smash the statues, even if the exertion killed them. Frank searches around, and finds a statue that the creature was unable to destroy. It is of the same hooded woman holding a jug, but the base of the statue is octagonal. Holding it above his head, he shouts back that he has found it, then carefully places it in his backpack, and returns across the rope bridge.

Hastening back to the room with the pedestal, they place the statue in the hole in it’s top, and stand back. At once, the room fills with the fragrance of flowers, and clean water pours from the statue’s jug, filling the pedestal with water. The faded colours of the tiles seem to brighten, and the walls lose their sooty streaks, to reveal painted frescoes of pastures and meadows. It is not just the room that is cleaner, for with it the party’s clothes and armour shines clean, while Elden and Frank’s wounds are healed. With this miracle, the party quickly fill their waterskins with this holy water, and make their way out. As they walk back to the entry tunnel, they see that their are signs of renewal everywhere. The sunken bath is now full of clean water, revealing bright mosaics of frolicking Nymphs and Satyrs. Frank and Daveak decide to have a shave in the bathhouse. Finally, they leave, and return to speak with the council.

The councillors are happy that the party have stopped this strange thing from corrupting it’s townsfolk, but are still wary of sending people down to the bath house. They have instructed the cinder path to seal up the passageway. they are interested in the possibilities, but need to know more about this lost goddess the party claim the bath house is sacred to. Councillor whern suggests sending someone to speak with the Dwarves, to which he is reminded that the last envoy to the Dwarves returned shaved bare, and that he is still devoid of hair some 14 years later. The party is told to go and rest, until the council decides what to do next.

The Archivist guild takes all the items the party discovered, and tells them that they will be paid in good time. They each get the 75GP Marellian aggreed upon.

Elden asks everyone if they would like to accompany him to his drinking haunt, but when he looks round, Rayne has disappeared again…
Marellian discovers that his money pouch is torn, and he has lost some gold. he assumes that it ripped when he fainted and fell over in the rubble . Loraella smirks behind his back, his missing gold in her money pouch.

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