Escape from Arkenward’s Sanctum

Previously, the heroes managed to defeat two unsettling, tentacle-faced humanoids who had infiltrated Arkenward’s sanctum. In doing so they recovered another Tablet of the Elemental Eye. The heroes also defeated Venoxxis, the spider creature that was held captive alongside Arkenward’s other prisoners. Now it was up to them to find a way out of the sanctum.

Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

While Luca took rest, the others tried to make themselves useful; Quentin by standing vigil between Luca and Grok, and James and Emrys by investigating the room they were in.

Emrys had found an interesting, high level conjuration spell in one of the books that the tentacle-faced creatures were looking in, but he could not explain to Luca very well why he thought it was significant and decided to let the matter rest. Instead, James asked him to look for information on the Seal of Divine Animus, the Conjunction of the Planes, or on the Blood War. He reasoned that the more context they would have around these large cosmic events would help them navigate the time to come.

In the meantime, James searched the room for valuables. He found many books, tomes, folios and librams that would likely fetch a pretty penny, as well satisfy the butcher’s hunger for esoteric books, but he came to the conclusion that riches just were not as important to him as they once were.

One of the things that caught the heroes’ eyes was a carved map painted on a large sphere that sat in an elaborate cradle which allowed you to turn the sphere and see more of the map. The heroes recognised the Verdant Kingdoms, but quickly realised that there were other such clusters of land, some of which the heroes had heard mentioned in the rare tales of merchants and explorers.

Emrys found notes that Dr. Arkenward had made on the tides of magic and how the waxing and waning of the Seal of Divine Animus influenced it. According to the calculations that Arkenward did a full cycle took about five thousand years and that it was probably another 1250 years until the Seal was at its weakest and magic stood at high sanction. It dawned on Emrys just how old some of the oldest beings in the Verdant Kingdoms must be, and how long ago the cursed crusaders got trapped in Atilesceon’s realm. The realisation made him nauseous and dizzy.

Soon after Luca had regained enough of his strength to go ahead with his plan; he would banish one of the heroes and then drop his concentration before the spell could become permanent. If they were on the material plane, the subject would go to a harmless dimension for a bit, but if they were not, then the subject would go back to the material plane. It would determine where they were, and how they should move forward accordingly.

Luca used Grok, a creature that Quentin had instantly loathed, as a repellent to banish Quentin with a “plop”. Quentin immediately found himself in a dark room, with rain beating against a window pane. He did not immediately recognise where he was, but when a flash of lightning temporarily lit up the room, he saw that he was in Arkenward’s study again. Even before the peal of thunder followed the lightning he found himself back in Arkenward’s sanctum with the rest of his companions.

With the remaining strength that Luca had regained he turned to Grok and banished him too, lying to the strange creature that he would indeed go back to Blue Harbour, where he wanted to go. With another “plop”, Grok was gone, teleported back to Pazunia.

While Luca rested to regain strength again, James heard one of the prisoners call out. It was the bull-headed brute that was caged near the portcullis to the room they were in. James turned to Quentin and got him to open the portcullis, and James entered the room and engaged the minotaur in conversation. His name was Enyalius, a warrior from the Bleak Eternity of Gehenna, and he offered information on a chance to be banished and returned to where he came from.

“I never worry about you, my friend. I never do.”
– James White

It was clear that Quentin did not trust Enyalius and that it would likely be a mistake to go along with what it was suggesting. James asked whether Enyalius was prepared to serve the heroes for one year in exchange for its return to Gehenna, and it said it was prepared to make that deal, with certain limitations; he would not betray his legion, for instance. Quentin questioned the minotaur’s honour and could not be convinced that the minotaur was trustworthy.

While waiting for Luca to recover enough strength, the heroes read through all of the notes they could find on the prisoners;

Ludwig

The lowest ranked of the lesser infernal outsiders, though it will claim it still outranks the Lemure. There is quite a bit of writing which has survived the Age of Fear on imps; impervious to fire and all poisons, and incredibly resistant against attacks from non-silver weapons. Like all infernal outsiders, very resistant against cold-based attacks.

Quite a significant number of them survived through the Great Waning as they got stuck on the material plane. Through my interrogations I have concluded that this imp is not old and wise enough to have survived on this side of the seal since the Age of Fear. It is possible that it managed to be sent through the seal due to its limited strength.

It claims its name is “Ludwig”, but that name has not granted me the control over the imp that I had expected and I have therefore concluded that the name is false.

Grok

The dretch is the first form that abyssal animus congeals into, and while it hardly poses more threat to a trained mage than a goblin or a vodnik, leave it for long enough and it will grow to evolve into a far more loathsome and powerful demon as its animus hardens and matures. Immune to poison, able to emit a noxious vapour and very resistant to elemental attacks, and it has a remarkable aptitude for telepathy. Unlike its more evolved brethren, it has a normal susceptibility to attacks with mundane weapons.

I pulled this one from an abandoned house just outside of Blue Harbour. There were several others but this is the only one that managed to survive long enough to heal from the burn wounds it sustained. The others dissolved into black slag. I would have been worried about someone noticing a pack of missing dretches and coming to look for them had they been infernals, but no such loyalty can be expected from the tanar’ri.

Through the “experiments” I conducted on the dretch I have learned that it calls itself “Grok”, it hails from Pazunia, where it was fighting alongside manes and rutterkins for a demon lord named Baltazo. It does not quite understand how it came to be in Blue Harbour, but from the bits I have been able to compile, it seems that Baltazo has been experimenting with sending over low ranking demons and psuedo-demons.

Vetch

Vetch, as the skaven likes to call itself, is a sly one. It speaks the common tongue, albeit in a broken way. Duplicity, stealth and subterfuge seem to be its tools and trade. As a result, I’ve been having a very hard time getting information out of him that I can trust. I will have to independently verify each bit that Vetch shares.

It seems to have no great love for the rat ogre and considers its brutishness antithetical. It claims to be part of clan Eshin, which is a clan I’ve heard of, but not much is written about. I’ve got to be cautious with this one.

Vetch has shown some interest in my dissection of the tentacle-faced mind flayer and it has remarked that certain organs I’ve extracted can be used to create poisonous substances.

Rat Ogre

The skaven refer to this creature as a rat ogre, but it does not seem to have a particularly strong sense of self-awareness, beyond the primal rage what we see in some of the more monstrous humanoids. It does not have an ability to speak and does not seem to recognise words, names or a reference to it species.

My working theory is that the rat ogre is an engineered subspecies of the skaven, so for the purposes of categorisation I will consider it one of the servitor races.

Interestingly, not all of the skaven clans have turned to creating these abominations. There is a clan, clan Moulder, which specialises in creating not just these abominations, but others as well. The rat ogres are, however, the pinnacle of their achievement.

Buras

Smuggled to Kingsport from Farcorner, this khazra warrior is named Buras Blighthorn and he’s been given to me in order to interrogate him. The usual threats did not seem to appear, and applying force elicited a resigned response. To my surprise Buras was perfectly capable of speaking the common tongue and has turned out to be a rather pleasant conversationalist, intelligent and eloquent.

He’s explained to me many things, including his mission in Farcorner. I’ve reached a point with him that I think I’ll try a different approach and see if I can simply continue my conversations in order to understand the tensions and conflicts between the servitor races better, since there seems to be some animosity towards Enyalius from Buras and Vetch, and vice versa.

It has confirmed what the Circle already suspected, which is that the khazra hail from the Grey Waste of Hades.

Enyalius

What a strange creature the minotaur turns out to be. I have to be careful not to generalise, but from what I’ve learned by speaking to Enyalius, as it calls itself, is that it is a prideful and stoic creature whose only interest is duty. Not surprisingly, I have learned that its rank is that of “legionnaire”, a type of high ranking infantry and reports to Preclo, his “centurion.”

For all the effort I had to make in order to smuggle Enyalius out of the empire, he’s proven to be a bad source of information. It speaks both the abyssal and infernal tongue, but prefers infernal. This one will require more time.

Rogash

Retrieved from among some of the most northern orc, demon worshipping tribes, we have a strange, transformed orc. Blessed, the shamans would say, with the strength of their demonic overlords. They call them “tanarukks”, which seems to be an abyssal bastardisation of the orc word for “fury.”

It is completely useless to me. I have had to keep it unfed in order to deplete it of its destructive tendencies. I know its highly resistant to fire and poison as well as most magics, but its too aggressive to learn anything from as it has no interest in negotiations.

I have one or two more experiments to run on it, and then Rogash, as it calls itself, is bound for the incinerator.

Autopsy

When it became clear to me that some of the threats moved around the ancient waterways I charged some colleagues to investigate the rumours. They found a fair many problematic elements in those tunnels, none were more baffling than this tentacle-faced humanoids. When I went down myself I was eventually confronted by this one. It was tough; taunting me throughout with telepathy and flaying my mind with strange attacks. The source of its “magic”, if I can call it that, was alien to me.

I have yet to be able to dedicate time to understanding the nature of this creature, and a cursory scan of Tobin’s Planar Guide has yielded little of use, except that it vaguely resembled the aberrant denizens of the far realm. If true, it is completely unclear to me whether there are more of them, what they are doing here, what their designs are, and whether they make the waterways their home.

My investigation must continue and I must come up with a proper defence against their psychic attacks. If this creature is an example of the time to come, then we must expand our arsenal of attacks and defences.

After reading each of the notes, Emrys wondered whether Dr. Arkenward sent people to Blue Harbour to investigate the demons, and whether they returned Grok to him. The conversation quickly turned to what to do with the prisoners and whether or not Arkenward had not crossed a line and whether he could continued to be trusted. Quentin believed that while Arkenward had certainly shown a fascination with the creatures there was no indication that he had been corrupted or seduced by them yet.

When Luca finally spoke to Enyalius he offered the banishment to it under the condition that if their paths were ever to cross again it would offer them parlay. Enyalius agreed and said that it would do everything in its power to return to the material plane, where it would rejoin its legion in the Daerlan empire and march on Adelheim.

Luca started the process of banishing Enyalius and needed something that would repel the minotaur and decided on including Emrys in the procedure. With a few well-chosen words, aided by James’ approval in the assessment, Luca described how Emrys was the embodiment of disorder, with his magic being as unpredictable a force as chaos itself. The heroes were very convincing and the expression on Enyalius’ face turned from one of caution to one of utter disgust. And with a “plop”, he was gone.

The heroes concluded that they would leave the rest of the prisoners to the Circle to deal with and it was at that point that the young girl said that her name was lady Maya Ironwood and that she wanted to have an opportunity to convince the heroes to free her too. Both Luca and Emrys were struck by the mention of House Ironwood, the ancestral house of Ser Florianus.

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