The Chronicles of Etinerra

A Song of Sects and Violence III: Under the Eagle Alehouse

Balto's Journal

Rabbit stew, a lovely honey bread with butter and jam, and spiced fruit tarts for dinner! After, I meditated in the kitchen garden behind the Mug & Pot. As I finished, a grand ripe peach trembled on the branch above me – I caught it as it fell. Just as I was feeling a bit fashed and ready to look for a bedtime snack!

I was up with the dawn the next day, and I went for water with the cook. He sat me down with a crust of bread and the last of the stew from last night, while he made the morning’s porridge. Willie and Josef and Fergus came downstairs, and we were soon joined by Jorann, Mazlor, Joffrey, and Isty. Pyrea wandered in from the street, accompanied by our old companion Ragar. As the cook set some bacon to sizzling, we realized Belaldur had not come downstairs, but our concern for him was outweighed by the threat to the Duke.

I’d asked Ward to look into the Eagle Alehouse, within and below which it seemed the anti-pagan agitators were organizing. So, just as the town started to stir, we made our way back to the Militiaman & Bawd. A bleary-eyed Ward told us our suspicions had been confirmed by his spy, who’d last night heard much cheering and shouting from the Eagle’s cellar. It sounded to her like a rally.

And more news from Ward: The Lightbringers and their townfolk pawns had been sprung from the keep! The men and women guarding them had all been killed. Those in the town jail, though, were still locked up tight.

So we determined to recruit help at the Temple of the Light, then report to the Marshal, return to the Militiaman and Bawd to pick up a guide, and move through the tunnels to challenge the Lightbringers. No help was found at the Temple; though High Priestess Gazelle was very gracious to her rescuers, Godfrey and Orielt were away helping the Marshal prepare for the Duke’s visit. Gazelle gave Mazlor a couple of healing potions, showed us the Mess Hall (but no second breakfast!), and returned to her healing duties. The Temple was full of the wounded and fearful, so she did have her hands full.

We arrived at the Keep to find security so tight I’d have had trouble sneaking just myself in. And with all the noisy big folk along, well, we just had to submit to disarming and waiting for permission to enter and speak to Roehm. I had my moment of quiet rebellion in not identifying myself as a spellcaster, so at least I was not accompanied by a personal guard.

Roehm told us the escape last night had been done with someone familiar with the tunnels under the city – and one such tunnel led right by his dungeon. He berated himself for not putting men at that secret door. Perhaps a guard had been suborned, but I thought the thieves hired away from Ward would also have known.

We told the Marshal that we, too, hoped to use the tunnels to strike at a gathering of agitants. He offered a company of 10 guards from the Keep. Orielt and Godfrey’d been pestering Roehm and his men, asking for guard schedules, procedures, and protocols in advance of the Duke’s sojourn – so after some discussion we decided not to ask Godfrey to accompany us. And Mazlor advised Roehm to change the rotations, unbeknownst to Orielt, who was not to be trusted.

With nine footmen and Kelly their sergeant, we walked our horses back to Enonia, dropping our horses at the stables by the gate, then headed toward the Militiamen and Bawd. Mazlor hadsergeant to keep her forces a block away so as not to spook Ward. He was still annoyed to have Mazlor there, but signaled to me to take the party to the wine cellar. There he brought forward his spy, a diminutive human female, to be our guide through the tunnels.

Mazlor and Isty went back up to move with the guards and militiamen above ground. The rest of us went into the tunnels. We soon reached a portion of the tunnel that had been hastily floored over, and the spy told us gloomily there were bodies underneath, but it was the fastest way. The floor certainly seemed rickety, but I skipped along the edge of the tunnel with a guide rope and most of us got across. The big folk in bulky armor, though, had trouble finding safe footing, and Willie broke through the floor, fell waist deep, and started yelling that the bodies were trying to claw and bite him. Ragar and Pyrea rushed back and helped him out, but two Damned climbed through the hole Willie had made.

We ran, but the two Damned soon caught up to the rear of the party. The Damned duo were quickly dispatched, but that route is now blocked to us by the rest of the now-alerted Damned. We explored a maze of passages and found a secret door, but I couldn’t work out how to make it open. Meanwhile, in the largest undercellar room, an orator was working a couple dozen townsfolk into a frenzy, before introducing the rioter ringleader, Marcus.

Mazlor and Isty have made their way to join us, and Kelly’s team (minus a few militiamen detailed to hold exits) soon after. As Marcus begins talking, Joffrey blessed our party; Pyrea cast a shield on herself; Jorann cast hold on both guards; Mazlor cast silence on a stone which I slinged just past Marcus.

Marcus and the man who introduced him leapt off the stage into the crowd, trying to escape the realm of silence. We charged into the room, Mazlor ordering the townsfolk to hit the floor or be declared resistors. Well, of course, half the crowd couldn’t hear him, and the rest bleated like sheep in their panic! Further, two Lightbringer fighters burst into the room, causing more consternation. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t use any spells!

Mazlor cast a hold spell on Marcus and his lieutenant, and Pyrea cast a webbing spell on them (and half the crowd besides). Ragar got two arrows into one of the Lightbringer guards; he turned and fled a couple of steps before Pyrea cast hold on the fleeing guard and a group of townsfolk trying to flee past him. I put a sling bullet into the fleeing guard’s brain. The other guard surrendered. The townsfolk caught in the web were screaming bloody murder, so Pyrea cast sleep on most of them, and the others pretended they too were dozing. Kelly cleared all the living and unwebbed Lightbringers out of the way, while I freed a few coins from the dead man’s pouch.

Meanwhile, Marcus spat out angry words and tried to rally his remaining follower. Ragar suggested quiet would be the less painful choice, but he ignores her hint. Ragar and Fergus made a stronger argument with their arrows. I tried a trick shot, hoping to knock a few teeth out, but my stone was caught in the web. Serves me right for trying to show off. Afew more taunts from him greatly challenged Mazlor, but Marcus eventually shut up.

Waiting for the webs to dissipate, I went with Pyrea, Josef, Jorann, and Joffrey to look at the door at the end of the corridor from which the two Lightbringers had sprung. Pyrea heard from behind the door the rattle of chains and a low moan. The room had a pair of cages against the rear wall. One held a man – delerious, ill, and shackled to the ceiling – in a tattered and bloodstained uniform of the Duke’s forces. Joran quickly cast a healing spell and he breathed some easier. I make short work of picking the locks on the cages and chains. Josef looks through a window in the wall behind the other cage and sees a drunk troll and a very nervous militiaman.

We gave the Duke’s man some water, but he was not recovering his wits. We took him to Mazlor, then returned to explore further – one more door, which turned out to be to Marcus’ room. My lockpick snapped as I try to open his chest, so whatever treasures are in there are lost to the Temple of the Light. Pyrea and Jorann gathered up all the papers.

Mazlor had begun to send our troops and prisoners up. I expect this lot would go to the Keep – ought to be some room there now. Joaran kept ministering to the man we rescued. He was more himself now, and thankful he was rescued, but anxious to get a warning out to the Duke.

This man is named Veckstos, and he had been guarding Collin, the Duke’s Secretary. He told a chilling tale of how first Collin, and then the partner of Veckstos, Aschton, had been killed and replaced by a shapeshifting monster. The monster was named Reezus (by the sun and stars, these humans have odd names!) and he is the mastermind behind the plot on the Duke and the anti-pagan furor.

Mazlor left off questioning Marcus and moved to his lieutenant, but to no avail. The web had yet to dissolve, so Joran cast dispel magic, releasing all from its sticky embrace – and cancelling the hold as well. Marcus instantly cast sanctuary on himself, and his lieutenant got ready to fight. Ragar puts an arrow through the orator’s skull. Marcus ran for his room, but Joran and Isty took him out. I suggested Marcus be searched and Mazlor declared anything on his person will be taken to the Temple of the Light. So I shrugged and took the purse from the orator, instead.

Mazlor quickly looked over Marcus’ correspondence, and was shocked to discover that Godfrey had been deep in the plot against the Duke and supporting the Lightbringers for many months. Orielt, too, though of course we had all thought that already.

And it’s midday, and the Duke is due any minute now! I suspect I’ll be missing yet another meal!

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