The party leaves the scene of the attack on the caravan and make their way without incident for 4 more days into sight of the besieged city of Knodhi. Atomus leads the party to the entrance to the secret passage, which is accessed through an underwater branch of the river They plan to enter the city though the passage to avoid the siege and let the city know that if they hold out for 2 more days till King Themarodes arrives with his army. The party discusses how to go forward.
It is decided that 2 of the soldiers will accompany the party through the passage, while the other 2 will take the horses and equipment back to the main force for safe keeping, as well as to bring word of their arrival. Balthius seals his robes, spell book and equipment in his bags using wax from summoned candles, and sends his other books and possessions back with the horses. He sends away his hawk familiar with instructions to wait for him near the city, and come to him when he gets back above ground. Lin likewise seals spell book and sends away his extra possessions. Tenaius removes his armour for better swimming, and leaves it out. One of the soldiers, named Adrastos, swims in first with the rope and after much fumbling into the dark, secures it to a point inside. Tenaius and then the other soldier, named Belan follow. Pello has trouble and is nearly swept away, but is fished out by one of the other soldiers, and makes it through on his next attempt. Balthius attempts to follow, and comes up sputtering. On his next attempt he makes it. As people arrive inside they are fished out by Belan and Tenaius. Attomus and Lin follow without incident. As planed, after a short delay, the rope goes a bit slack as the soldiers outside untie it and secure it to Tenaius armour. Meanwhile, Attomus has lit a candle to light the way through the passage. Tenaius pulls through his armour and gears up as everyone checks their belongings and gets ready to go.
They all head out, with sharp-eyed Tenaius in the lead holding the candle. After a long trek through cramped, slimy, and musty corridor, they get to where the secret door should be, and find it laying open. As they step through the doorway, a strange beast-man threatens them from the guard room. Tens sets down the candle, draws his sword, and starts to fight. Atomus pushes up behind him and shoots some lighting out of his hands, dropping it. Another creature charges down the hall, and is quickly put down by Tenaius’ sword, Atomus’ lighting and Adrastos’ spear. With a chance to finally look around, they notice the dead bodies of 2 guards that normally would stand watch at the secret door. Balthius identifies the creatures as demons. Tenaius takes one of the demon’s rather nice hand and a half swords. Balthius offers the other to a surprised Adrastos, who accepts with wonder and delight. Belan also accepts a sword, though it is only a short sword of common make from the dead guards.
They all advance down a wide corridor with a a large set of double doors at the end. They then listen at the doors and hear a conversation. No one else can hear what is being said. After listening for a bit Tenaius, Atomus, Adrastos, and Lin open the doors and barge in. Before them is a large circular chamber, well lit with well tended torches along all of the walls. In the center is a pool of fresh water. Strewn about the room is the wreckage of what was once a thriving market in illegal goods. The most obvious feature of the room is it’s occupants.
Just inside the doorway are more of the demons they’d been fighting. Towards the center of the room is the Elven sorcerer who they failed to kill that night in Kniryk and who is friends with the Nesian King. With him is a fierce looking demon who dwarfed the other demons, and was holding a great glittering sword. They had been talking to a man dressed much like Atomus.
“Lord Kalyos,” says Atomus, looking at the man. “I always knew he was a traitor.”
Other demon soldiers are dragging a cloaked limp figure towards one of the other exits, while more of them are guarding the various entrance passages around the chamber. Before the conversants react to their new guests, Tenaius has already heard enough to know who needs stabbing and steps into the room fighting. A demon soldier howls in pain. Lord Kalyos unleashes a spray of stinging ice that fills the entire corridor, which Tenaius simply blocks, and the casters all shrug off. The only ones wounded are the demon soldiers by the door. Atomus follows up with a small lightning at a nearby demon. Then a familiar figure steps into the door way opposite. It’s that barbarian they’ve had so much trouble finding.
The guards at that doorway react quickly; chopping at him with their swords. The barbarian takes several blows that would have killed a lesser man. The Elf grins evilly and casts a spell on the huge demon at his side. Sparkling energy surrounds the demon, and settles into his great blade. Kylos steps up to the fight and Atomus hits him hard with a bolt of electricity. The barbarian begins systematically slaughtering the demons who cut him while the Elf now summons a bow and fires an arrow at Belan, which Tenaius blocks. It clangs off his shield with impossible force. Another demon manages to hit Adrastos, killing him on his feet. Pello fires a blow dart into that same demon’s eye, killing it instantly. The demon general steps up and strikes a mighty blow at Tenaius. The strike brushes his shield aside like it wasn’t there and lands on him full force. Steadfast Tenaius drops to the floor and doesn’t move.
More demons run up to engage the barbarian in the other doorway. He starts to back up, aware at last of his many great wounds. His men move up around him from the hallway behind, spearing down the demons near them. The huge demon swings his huge sword at Atomus, dropping him in one terrible hit. Linnaeus unleashes one of his most powerful spells, a great stream of dark energy at the demon general. The great beast tries to dodge out of the way, only to stumble fully in front of the blast, taking it full on in the chest. There is only a twisted hole where its ribs and organs had been moments before. It falls to the ground, a look of disbelief fading from its glazed eyes. The great sword clangs to the ground. Belan turns and spears the last remaining demon soldier, finishing it off. Only the Elf remains. The Elf hits Belan with another powerful arrow, but it is fortunately a glancing blow.
The barbarian’s spear-men spill into the room, pulling into formation at his command. Another figure steps in behind them, also dressed as Atomus, but he hangs back. Pello slings his blow gun on his back and runs forward to help the wounded. Lineus calls a warning as he hears pounding footsteps from behind, and prepares to defend himself. Balthius moves further up the corridor towards the market chamber in response to the warning. The evil Elf takes advantage of the distraction and flees through a side door before anyone has time to pursue. Just as everyone thinks the battle to be over, the pounding feet materialize into more of the demon soldiers coming around the corner down the corridor behind the party. Linnaeus shoots a blast of dark energy as the first one comes around the corner.
Five more demon soldiers round the corner, and at Linnaeus’s urging Pello gives up helping the wounded until the new fight is also settled. He fires a surprise shot at the lead demon, catching him a nasty dart wound in the neck and finishing him off. Balthius moves quickly out of the corridor for safety. The barbarian and his soldiers continue to advance across the room in formation. Lin blasts another demon, and Pello aims at the same again, barely missing.
The demons continue to advance down the hallway, screaming profanities at their losses. Linnaeus attempts to cast again, but the spell somehow backfires, leaving him drained. Fortunately he is so practiced at his favorite spell that he can still use it when drained of energy. He begins to retreat as he prepares to attempt to cast it again. The demons enter Belan’s range and he begins to stab at them. By the time they make it down the hall under a hail of darts, spells and spears, 2 of there number are dead. The lead two finally attack Belan, landing hits. He collapses under the blows. Belan’s assailant bellows with glee, only to find one of Pello’s darts lodged in the back of its throat. It gurgles and dies. The barbarian and his soldiers arrive in spear range of the last demons, who scream their rage and charge towards the fresh targets, and the line of spears they hold. The soldiers do their job, and dispatch them quickly.
Before the last demon hit the floor, Linnaeus had taken off running after the Elf. He reached the door it had exited through, only to find it locked. After jiggling the handle a bit, he gives up and instead rushes over to take the huge demon’s great sword.
“It’s mine, because I killed him,” he explains to anyone who might be listening. “If anyone wants it they’ll just have to trade me for it.”
Meanwhile, Pello pulls out his medical kit and runs to help the wounded. Adrastos is dead. By some miracle Tenaius, Atomus, and even Belan all still hold onto life. Pello sets to work to try to save them.
The barbarian introduces himself as Pallig, and demands to know what is going on. Balthius briefly explains their mission to relieve the siege. Pallig gives him a grim look. The figure who entered the room behind Pallig steps forward and responds.
“You’re too late. They’re sacking the city as we speak,” he says.
Pallig nods and adds, “My men and I only just managed to escape the slaughter.”
The man introduces himself as Lord Aramus and explains that he is a college of Atomus. He identifies the limp figure who was being dragged away when they first saw him as Lord Morios, and asks if anything can be done for him. Pello stops his feverish work for a moment, checks him, and finds that he is just unconscious. Balthius asks Pallig if they might speak privately. Pallig agrees, and they step out of earshot.
“Do you know much about Magic?” asks Balthius.
“I know it should be avoided,” responds Pallig.
“Then you’re smarter than you look. You see, you owe me a debt.”
“And how do you figure that?” Pallig looks amused.
“Do you know what happens when you kill a Magi? You bring down his curse upon you.”
“Kill a what?”
“You recently killed a man dressed just such as myself, a member of my order. Do you deny it?”
“How did you know that? You weren’t in the city.” Pallig begins to look worried.
Balthius explains, to Pallig’s great relief, that the curse he has upon him will cause his wife to be barren, and grow old quickly. Pallig laughs, as he is unwed. Balthius says all of this in a very convincing way, going on to explain that the curse for killing him would be that ale will sour in his mouth, dice will roll against him, and, leaning in closely to whisper, that his manhood will lose its power. Balthius, having scried upon him many times, knows that drinking, dicing, and whoring are his favorite pastimes. Pallig is horrified at the though of such a curse, but still bravely questions the debt. Balthius then waves the debt aside, and explains that the fate of the world is at stake, and that the object Pallig carries could well decide it. He also explains that he has need of strength at arms, something Pallig has plenty of, and asks Pallig to join forces with him. Pallig says he will decide on such matters later. The only concern right now was staying alive. Balthius agrees, and simply requests that Pallig keep the item safe. Lord Morios comes to while they are talking, and they all begin to confer on what to do next. Shortly another of Atomus’ colleges enters as well and introduces herself as Lady Rynatia. She had been hiding, and came out now that the demons where gone. Thanks to Pello’s skill, Atomus has recovered enough to wake up, and even move about. He joins the conference as well. It is decided that they should use the door to the vault to take out all of the most valuable items stored there before it is looted. Atomus and the other members of his group borrow some of Pallig’s unwounded spear-men to haul it. Lineaus gleefully insists on going along, dragging the heavy sword with him. They use their order’s medallions as keys and open then vault. As they gather together the most valuable items and burn the rest, Pello finishes up tending Tenaius and Belan. They are also well enough to walk, though Belan is barely so. Pello offers to patch up Pallig as well. Pallig agrees, and stands patiently while Pello tends his wounds.
Balthius and Linnaeus are accompanied to the river by Lord Aramus. He casts something and steps into the river, which moves back away from him, leaving dry rock beneath. The three of them then simply walk out of the secret entrance to the outside. Balthius and Linnaeus call their familiars back to them. Balthius writes a note to King Themarodes explaining the situation to him, and that they will try to hold out in the secret caverns. The King is to leave a response in writing laying out visibly near him at all times. Balthius gives the note to his hawk and sends him away. Linnaeus picks up his rabbit and they all walk back inside.
While they where outside, the others had been busy. Pello, having done all he could to help the wounded, had organized the construction of barricades at all of the entrances to the corridor that led to the secret outer entrance. Atomus and his colleges had finished moving two large crates of valuables into the guard room beside the corridor. Those to wounded to to fight where moved into the center, and the rest where posted as guards at the barricades. Now they could only wait.