3rd day of the 3rd ride, month 6 , 1262
I wake up to the sound of the muffled gruff voice of Cpt. Mollen issuing commands to her troops. Someone has gone missing and ‘he can’t have gotten far.’
I was immediately interested to find out more but then reality kicked back in. My thoughts are still muddled, my movements slow and inaccurate. I am still horribly ill. So I started checking my injuries and cleaning them.
A short while later Cpt. Mollen checked up on me, ostensibly to make certain I was still where they had left me. I asked if I was permitted to leave the stables. Permission was granted to join the other at breakfast.
Before I could leave for breakfast Luca came to visit me. He was very interested in my injuries and the amulet that I was wearing. At the same time he was hesitant to be near me and had his mouth covered with some fragrant cloth.
He examined my wound and appeared genuinely interested in my well-being. At the same time it became apparent that he is poorly practiced and most of his knowledge is ‘book-knowledge’.
Astrid and Emrys were at the breakfast-table, where Emrys had positioned himself at the center of attention. Knowing full well that servants tend to be poor custodians of secrets, especially amongst themselves, I fully expected my affliction to have become common knowledge by now. Accordingly, I was prevented from accepting the chair Emrys was generously offering me. Instead I sat down at the more shady end of the breakfast-table, keeping a polite distance from most others. Astrid quickly joined Luca and me, and Emrys joined us a short while later.
While breaking our fast we tried to discuss what would happen next and where James could be. Rumor was that he had descended into the waterways on his own in the dead of night. About our expectations we found it difficult to come to solid conclusions, despite Emrys’ best efforts to steer the conversation towards a productive end. I reckon we have too few facts to work with at this point.
With the departure of James we have lost a skilled scout. To me it seems foolish to go into those accursed vaulted tunnels on one’s own. I admire his confidence in his own abilities if indeed he went down there. At the same time, in the stories, the Gods tend to be rather unforgiving to those too confident in their own abilities. I pray we shall not find proof of James’ mortality when we are to descend into those vaulted tunnels again.
After breakfast we were summoned to meet the Lords. Lord Jonathan was absent and we were dealing once more with Lord Markus, with Sir Benten bearing witness to the proceedings, literally it turned out.
He offered us a new task: to find the contraption or creature responsible for the tunneling and to disable it if possible. To me this seemed foolishly dangerous, but I am committed to restoring the aqueduct in service to Sedna.
The discussion about the proper reward became awkward rather quickly. Luca made demands that were unacceptable: unrestricted access to the Sheridan libraries. Emrys’ request seemed naively impractical: history forgotten by even the elves.
I tried to find out what amount of golden crowns would secure immediate treatment at the Temple of Pholtus for an affliction such as mine, so that I could ask such a sum in crowns as reward. Lord Markus cut me off and said that I needn’t worry about that and that he would see to it when needed. Missing the point somewhat.
Astrid simply stated that she would take 200 golden crowns. I was happy to take the same amount. Finally Lord Markus pledged 200 crowns to each of us and to assist us in our ‘personal ambitions’ afterwards.
Lord Markus then asked us to whom the reward needed to be sent should we perish. I stated that Dagmaer of the Sacred Baths of Sedna should receive my reward. To my surprise Luca named the same beneficiary, but then immediately made it clear that he found the proceedings pointless, since he was planning to return alive at any rate.
This one confuses me.
Lord Markus was happy to provide any material assistance for the new mission. He also pledged to commit reinforcements, which he planned to provide personally. His willingness to join the mission himself inspires great confidence.
We departed at midday. Before our departure I meditated and prayed to the Mistress. Emrys kindly helped me fix the damages to my gear.
Our travel up to the burrowed tunnel that diverts the aqueduct was uneventful. None of the dwarven tools appeared to be missing, including the jars of powder. We spent some time there to allow Lord Markus to observe and for me to enjoy the stream. Lord Markus noted that the ‘claw-marks’ we had noted earlier were in fact tool-marks of rather large and crude tools.
After entering the waterways we decided to go back to the place where we initially encountered the first group of gnomish rats. The markings were all still in place and with Astrid and Luca taking point we found our way easily enough.
The bodies were still there and we spent some time investigating the room. Lord Markus investigated the corpses and Emrys conjured up a very realistic image of the Albino. All of a sudden we all noticed that this one had horns! I asked Emrys if he was making it more fearsome and fancy, but he seemed as much surprised as the rest of us and sincere.
A short while later we discovered that the pillars in this large hall bore relief sculpture, though much worn. We cleared a patch of it and uncovered a battle-scene between foul-looking horned creatures and human looking characters. There was agreement that this depicted a battle between a throng of demons and human warriors or knights.
I attempted to discern the location where we might expect a more impressive relief and decided upon the middle pillar of one of the rows. My attempt at cleaning away the moss was clumsy and ineffective and did more harm than good; much to the chagrin of Luca. Astrid then proceeded to use oil and fire to clear away a large swathe of moss.
Emrys seemed to understand much of what was depicted on the scene. Personally, I suffered from a bout of nausea at the time and by brain failed to retain much of what was explained. From what I did pick up there was a column of human mages in this scene as well as the first Lyrian knights. I also picked up the phrase Senhadrim, or something of that ilk. This place might well date back to the ‘Time of Fear’. As I said, not an awful lot of it made sense to me at the time.
After our discoveries we decided to press on. Luca berated me for using a hammer and chisel to leave markings. It was too loud and he didn’t want me to deface the ancient stone surfaces. After providing me with charcoal, I was happy enough to leave markings by scraping away some moss and then using the charcoal for the mark.
We seemed to wander rather aimlessly But then we happened upon a burrowed tunnel. The tunnel was not particularly long and ended into a rectangular room. In the room we found the mangled remains of one gnomish rat. A crude scimitar and a nasty whip lay by its side. This one appears to be a taskmaster. Its leathers were rather peculiar, and seemed to be made from the hide of some unknown creature.
The room itself was also perplexing. Who builds a room without entrances?! Judging by the discolorations of the mosses on the walls and floors, it appears that numerous objects that had been resting here had been hauled off. We were unable to make much sense of all of it.
When we continued our way, we heard the din of battle at some distance. We agreed to proceed towards it, but carefully. All of a sudden we happened upon a group of rat-folk, including the Albino. They appeared as much shocked to find us as we were them.
A brutal struggle ensued during which Lord Markus and Astrid tore through their ranks at an alarming speed. Meanwhile, Luca and I concentrated on striking the Albino. After we had struck it severely it made another escape, leaving us in a cloud of foul noxious fumes.
It escaped once again.
Lord Markus had taken quite a few blows so I spilled some water on his wounds to close them and heal him.