Walter Pennyworth was fresh off a boat in Westcrown, heading down to a tavern to drink off the first of his well earned pay from a tour at sea. While there, a young red-headed woman approached him.
“Is your name Walter?” She asked, standing nearby. Walter asserted that he was. “Is there a quiet place we can talk?”
“How should I know?” Walter queried honestly. The young woman flushed bright red as she recalled that yes, she had been told that Walter Pennyworth was stone deaf; that was a stupid question to ask him.
“Oh my goodness! I’m sorry, please come with me.” She apologized, quite ashamed. She motioned for Walter to follow and led him out of the bar and into a neighboring alley.
“My name is Janiven, and there is something I wish to speak with you about, as I have heard that you are a man of extraordinary ability.”
Janivan proceeded to speak to Walter about her group of peoples concerned with the direction of the city of Westcrown. There were horrors untold of shadowy beasts who roamed the city streets at nigh, preying on anyone foolish enough to walk outside past sundown. People were being oppressed by strict enforcement of arbitrary laws, and were unable to worship the gods they pleased, as Asmodeus was the only being permitted praise in the infernal Chelaxian city. In addition to the fear of the people, the city itself continued to deteriorate as more and more of its citizens died or moved away, precipitated largely by the moving of the Chelaxian capitol from Westcrown to another city in the north. When Walter agreed with this, she arranged for him to meet her at a vacant bar called Visio’s Tavern at 4pm for dinner.
Similar scenes played out throughout the morning as Janivan approached Grenna the Grey in another tavern, who was searching for a woman she thought to be in Westcrown, and promised help in the search. Ruvin Nunalokash in his family home, son of a performing line nearly ended with the brutal murder of both his parents was next approached, followed by two elves from out of town who were staying in the Barrowood refugee camp. One, a Kyra E’nash, a Barrowood refugee driven out by infernal creatures invading the forests, and another, a Sifnas Tinehtele away from his homeland in the Mwangi expanse on a personal pilgrimage. One by one, all agree to meet and discuss with Janivan at 4pm.
The first to arrive is Grenna. She noticed the the bar showed signs of being vacant for a long time. Dust coated the interior spaces, and the air was thick and muggy due to the windows being tightly boarded up— a feature shared amongst many buildings in the less affluent areas, as protection from outside witnesses, and against the creatures that prowl the streets in darkness. She sat at a large round table with places to seat 5 and waits. Walter arrived next, still before the meeting, and wiped down his chair before sitting with a small expression of disgust. Ruvin attempted a shoddy disguise before he entered, which was quickly seen through by the others. Last to arrive, and after four pm are the other two elves. Kyra entered and sat quickly, but Sifnas waited outside for a few moments, unsure of what to do with his horse. At a loss, he simply left it outside, untied.
Janivan mentions to them all that she needed to finish cooking but to introduce and get to know each other. The conversations were soft, and slightly awkward, mostly between Ruvin and Walter. Walter, uncomfortable, whipped out a cloth and began to clean the table. Mostly they waited for Janivan to return and explain why she brought them all here. Sifnas in particular was suspicious of Janivan’s intentions, because she never explained to him how she knew his name, or the name of his tribe.
One by one she served them wine, and venison, in a manner that irked Walter, due to his upbringing that strictly upholds manners and proper procedure. Eventually, she sat down and began to speak, pausing occasionally to look out at the door, as if expecting someone.
What poured from her lips was an impassioned speech about the fear and suffering of the local population. The people needed a symbol to stand behind to push off the shackles of fear, and to fight back against the beasts who prowled at night, summoned likely by the ruling House of Thrune.
When she stopped, she was breathless and excited. Walter calmly brought her down by asking her an important question. Where ultimately did her uprising end? Was she insinuating the downfall of the government of Cheliax? In addition to the speech, which was very much treason to speak against the House of Thrune, the whole idea was one that would easily get all of them killed.
She paused, stating that her first goal was to empower the people, after that, she did not know. She was waiting for the arrival of a Priest of Iomede, named Arael whom was the main driving force and anchor pin for the group. Sifnas spoke for the first time since arriving, asking what her immediate plans were.
Before she had a chance to answer, a furious knocking sounded on the door. When the others turned to look, Walter dove behind the bar. Janivan rushed to answer, unbolting the three locks holding the door’s egress. A young boy of fourteen tumbled in, breathless and flushed, with the spittle in his mouth turned to froth.
“Arael is captured! The Hellknights have him, and they are already coming this way!” He said in quick halted phrases. Just then all who could hear noticed the sounds of heavy plate armor clanking as troops approached the safe house. “We are already surrounded!”
“My horse!” Sifnas shouted, understanding now the grave situation Janivan had put all of them in. He moved to exit but was stopped.
“There’s no time, but it will be okay I assure you! Come with me.” She moved behind the bar where Walter was already taking cover and opened a cupboard filled with bottles of wine. Sliding the bottom shelf out of the way revealed a passageway hidden below. Walter went first, followed by the others into the darkness.
“Do you value this place?” Said Kyra to Janivan, before she went below. The young rebel looked around,
“Now that they know, we can never return.” She said soberly. Kyra snapped her fingers and one of the curtains obscuring the barred window began to burn. Without another word, the rest of them slid down the passage into darkness.
The next thing the group noticed was the overwhelming stench, revealing that the passage led into the sewers. Walter pulled out a hooded lantern which Kyra lit. Dank, fetid air left an almost visible haze, and various fungi grew on the cobbled stone walls. Beside them, a narrow tough of dark opaque water flowed slowly. Janivan took the lead. Each passageway was about 25 feet in length, opening into various intersections. One one wall, a sword was painted in orange, pointing the direction to go toward the next safehouse. Walter quickly scrubbed out the sword, remarking that the Hellknights would be soon following, despite the blaze.
She led them further down the mephitic depths, turning in a north easterly direction. Janivan eventually broke from the group, pledging to distract the pursuing Hellknights and advising them to move ahead without her. Strange and unnatural creatures lurked in the city’s underbelly, the likes of which none in the party had encountered before. A group of four skeletons poured from the sluice out onto the walkways but were soundly destroyed. Sifnas kept to the rear, lance at ready against any who might ambush from behind.
The sewers were maze like, with some stops and dead ends, not aided by the fact that some of the sword drawings were missing or damaged to being unhelpful. At one point in the middle of the corridor they came across a grouping of three large purple mushrooms. Unable to identify the species, Walter hazarded a shot from his crossbow at the frontmost one, which immediately lived up to its name of Shrieker Mushroom by unleashing a deafening cacophony of screams. The entire party grabbed at their ears in pain, with the exception of Walter, who momentarily did not understand what his action had caused.
Their position given away, this brought Hellknights from two directions, the group chasing them from the tavern, and another, a guard patrol from ahead. In a lethal game of cat and mouse, the group slunk around the patrols, eventually hiding obscured in a magic mist and silent in a dead end for the patrols to pass by.
Finally the time of decision had to be reached, as the Shrieker mushrooms blocked the only path to freedom. They decided to rush past it and run the rest of the way. Unfortunately a group of goblins also blocked the path. Three of the four were dispatched easily, the last held fast past a barrage of missed swings and stabs, even sidestepping a bold Walter who tumbled almost directly into the sludge, putting out his lantern.
The rouge eventually snatched the goblin’s torch and stabbed the handle through it’s eyeball, freeing the party and allowing them to proceed, though the Hellknights had gotten close enough to know their quarry by sight.
A harrowing call of “There are the rebels!” Spurred the party to break into a mad dash to the exit, given a moment’s distraction by a magic flare from Kyra into the faces of the pursuing Hellknights. They clambered up a rope through a trap door into a garbage heap. They pushed a broken wagon over the trap door to bar it from opening, and the teenager, named Murrosino, led them down into a neighboring street toward a hidden door at the back of a temple.
A nervous looking man opened the door when it was knocked, sliding open a secret panel to allow the party inside. A smattering of people milled about, with tables and beds scattered around. The windows and front double doors were heavily barred, revealing that the secret entrance was the only way in or out. The mood was tense as Janivan arrived and informed the nervous man, known as Ermolos about the situation regarding Arael. She turned back to the group,
“It is not safe to leave now. Stay until tomorrow, and participate in the meeting we will hold in the morning. Sifnas, Gorvio will look out for your horse.”
The party agreed, but sleep did not come easy to many of the people residing inside the ‘abandoned’ temple.