Previously, the heroes had ran some errands and eventually followed a hunch that Luca had and spoke to mistress Minna Terlane, the woman who ran the boarding house that Luca had stayed at after his initial arrival in Kingsport. While she did not know anything about Hamish’s whereabouts, she did know where the heroes could go to find dark delirium; a young associate of the Steady Hand named Jeroen, who operated out of an alleyway in the centre of Lewisham.
Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262
(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon in high sanction.)
The heroes were standing at the entrance to a cobbled alley between two large buildings, several doors down from the infamous Hoxton, the rowdy tavern that was the epicentre of the Lewisham ward. Halfway down the alleyway stood a slender young man, wearing fancy black clothing, flanked on either side by two thugs. They had taken refuge from the rain underneath the roof of a doorway; two of them were chatting away, while one of them was attempting to light a pipe.
It was decided that Quentin and Luca would approach Jeroen, while Astrid, James and Emrys would stay back and turn invisible so that they could follow discretely. Once Quentin and Luca spoke to the smirking Jeroen and asked him if he could provide them with dark delirium, he told them that he could and instructed them to follow.
He lead them down the alley to a double trapdoor on the side of the building whose doorway he had stood in to hide from the rain. The two thugs followed in their wake and one of them unlocked a padlock which held a steel rod across the doors. When the trapdoors were opened a staircase leading into a basement was revealed, and Jeroen lead Quentin and Luca down. There they found a filled store room belonging to the building they were beneath. In the centre stood what looked to be an indoor well which accessed the ancient waterways underneath the city. Jeroen, one of the thugs and the heroes climbed down the well and into the waterways, while the other thug went back up and closed the cellar doors and returned to his post in the alley.
It was at this point that Blackstar started nagging Luca; it wanted to be fed. Luca tried to block out the dark voice that was emanating from the staff while simultaneously making small talk with Jeroen and surreptitiously scratching markings in the phosphorescent moss that coated the stones of the ancient waterways. It was as much a way for Luca to memorise the way back as it was indicators to the others who were following on which direction they had taken.
Above ground, in the alleyway, Emrys and Astrid managed to distract the guard long enough that James was able to pick the padlock on the trapdoors and gain entrance to the cellar. Astrid continued to distract the guard so that Emrys could join James. Together, the two half elves descended into the waterways and quickly picked up Luca’s trail.
The entire underground journey took about fifteen minutes, during which it took the heroes and their escort through narrow slime-filled corridors, down wide canals with footpaths on each side, along walls that had strange mushrooms and spores growing among the colourful moss, and past narrow pipes that belched putrid human waste into the waterways.
Eventually, Jeroen and his thug lead Quentin and Luca down a large corridor and up ahead the heroes noticed several figures standing underneath a ladder which seemed to lead up into a similar well that they descended back in Lewisham. With a couple of signals, Jeroen informed the figures what Quentin and Luca were interested in. During the walk he had explained what their options were; they would be given a concoction which would allow them to experience a very vivid dream. It could last fifteen minutes, an hour, or even as long as half a day, depending on how much they were willing to pay. It was also possible for a courier to bring the concoction, but that was generally quite expensive and only available for the the very privileged.
Jeroen and the thug turned around and went back the way they came while Quentin and Luca met with the people standing at the bottom of the rungs leading up and out of the waterways. It was a group of three; two humans, one was bald and built like a brick shithouse, while the other was thick limbed and somewhat hunched and looked awfully familiar; it was Garvan the Tunneler, whom the heroes had met in the carceratum when they had liberated the rebel lords only several rides ago. Garvan was quite surprised to see them and he exchanged some pleasantries, including asking after lord Fabian and lord Szymon. The last person at the bottom of the ladder was a halfling woman dressed in simple commoner’s clothing. Her hair was flaming red and she had a face full of freckles. She introduced herself as Coral.
Coral brought Quentin and Luca up the ladder, out of an indoor well and onto the basement floor of a home. The room that the well was in acted like a store room and was filled with old furniture and crates. The solitary door in the room stood ajar and a soft light spilled through. The room on the other side of the door was larger and had its floor lined with straw-filled, jute sacks which were acting as make-shift mattresses. Small tables and chairs were lining the walls and one wall seemed to have faded chalk marks on them, leading Quentin and Luca to realise that this once acted as a classroom of sorts.
People were laying on the mattresses looking like they were either asleep or barely conscious. Some of them were murmuring, some of them were lazily reaching out to things that only they could see, but none of them were lucid. Coral lead Quentin and Luca to to free mattresses and asked how long they wanted to be under the delirium’s spell. Luca said that it was his first time and so settled on a short experience. Coral walked to the entrance of the room, a door leading to a space beyond, opened it slightly and announced their arrival. Both Luca and Quentin noticed that the halfling gave a visible shudder as she closed the door behind her and went to find a seat on one of the small chairs lining the walls. She pulled out a half-finished piece of crocheting and continued working on it to take her mind off of whatever it was that she had seen behind that door that had disturbed her so.
In the meantime, Emrys and James, still invisible, had made their way to the ladder leading up. Emrys caused a distraction while James slipped up the rungs and into the room adjacent to where Quentin and Luca were waited to be served. The distraction caused Garvan to get startled, peer down the tunnel with trepidation and turn to the thug; “The skaven are coming. Tell the aberrant lords,” he said, and the thug hurried up the ladder.
While this was happening, James had sneaked into the classroom just in time to see Hamish and a woman he recognised come out from the doorway beyond. James knew her as matron Myrtle, the head of an orphanage in Grimsdown that James had donated money to after the carceratum work. Hamish and Myrtle walked over to Quentin and Luca carrying a tray with a cup on it. Hamish looked worn, with dark rings around his eyes and sunken cheeks. He gave Luca a look that warned the warlock with an almost imperceptible shake of his head, though it was unclear what he was trying to say.
Luca and Quentin listen to Myrtle explain that they could take the concoction and they would sink into a vivid sleep. Quentin held back as Luca masterfully faked drinking it, sinking back onto the mattress and mimicking some of the behaviour that he had seen some of the other around him display. Quentin was having a harder time faking it, and it seemed as if Coral had noticed, but did not care enough to raise any alarms.
At that point the thug had made his way up the ladder, across the classroom, and through the door. Moments later he returned, this time with a strange figure in his wake; slender, tall and clothed in fine flowing robes of blue and silver. Their face was masked in a long veil that and there was something odd about their gait. James followed them back to the well leading down and watched as the strange figure gentle descended down the well, not using the ladder to climb. It came to hover half a foot above the filthy corridor floor and scanned for intruders.
While it could not see Emrys, for he was still cloaked in his invisibility spell, the figure spoke to him;
“I can sense you. The Upright Man will not be denied. Xarrombus will not be denied.”
And then a wave of distortion erupted from the figure and travelled in a cone down the corridor, overwhelming Emrys with pain, and James jumped down the well.