The Jackal’s Price: LoF Session XLV
The warehouse filled with smoke and ruin, high above the shattered bone splintered corpse of the turncoat Zephyr guard lay in an odd horrific spatter with much of the debris still on the clothing and face of his dazed mind-adled assailant, Maysam Fajir. The catwalk had burned unevenly and the weight was enough to cause it to crumble rapidly, her deadly accommodation soon to consume her. Her morbid execution was stayed as the rush of wind passed by Khatovar as his sure intuitive footing placement enabled his leap from the warehouse floor to box upon box toward the catwalk to gather the sadistic woman.
The air rushing into the warehouse through the large open rear door. Where had once stood a small platoon of Gnolls with weapons and goods ready to be transferred to their three wagons, lay corpses and ill-gotten gains. With swift work, the Wishcrafter Ce-tan and his genie companion Zahir investigated the wagons and perused the various items that were left behind as had been done so many times in the past finding a plethora of precious gems, coin, and items of enchantment and wonder discerning the most valuable among them.
Shrewd and sensible, Faharid searched the rooms ablaze on the bottom floor for survivors and perhaps another way out. Room after room; those which the fire had taken held treasures and information unsalvageable. Upon the last door which Faharid tried to open was unlocked, but did not move at his push. He shouldered the reinforced door twice, and it would not budge. Again the swordsman attempted to force his way in with a hard kick to the lock, but to no avail. The door wouldn’t move or it was on fire, the heat potentially bending the door into resistance.
With a plume of dust kicked up as the warrior and quarry in arms landed safely on the warehouse floor, Khatovar called to his rummaging compatriots for haste as the burning building began screeching in agony. Faharid called to the rest of his companions, unable to move the door. Even Khatovar with all his strength could not sway the door with his physical prowess. Without a second thought Faharid turned to Ce-tan as he approached with full bags strapped to Zahir’s back, “Ce-tan, I wish for this door to be opened.”
The reflection of the violent swirl of firestorms encased themselves, shrouded by a rapacious eyes and insouciant smile. The silks clung to the wafting breeze of both the heated air and the constant current flowing around the man in his iron mask. The grace and stature playfully indulged to the questions, “What is the matter Faharid… Khatovar? Are you not strong enough? Can you not open it yourselves?” By the hand of the master of an alcazar beckoning entrance, the unearthly resounding first rap upon the door among the halls of sultan’s called out with an unplanely presence, the second came more forcefully and with forceful prerogative- the likeness of an unseen servant pulled a willful door inward with ease granting passage through to the sought room. “Your wish, is granted…”
The room partially unscathed by the licks and caresses of flamed tongues, held ledgers and books strewn across office desks and lined shelves with an untrodden fur rug which was hastily lain and patina of bird droppings seen over an area of the floor. Abutting the wall an ancient sarcophagus lines the side not coverage in parchements and scrolls. It seemed half of the items within the room were still yet salvageable. However, the clutter masking any structured business arrangements that may have been gleaned without the necessity of time. However, amid the top of one of the adorning shelves stood an ominous and small pottery jar marked “In case of accidental petrification”.
Lifting the rug, a trodden and scuffed stone slab marked marked the comings-and-goings of its illicit owners. Thinking of the enchanted staircase from the House of the Beast, Khatovar places his hand upon the stone surface, asking to the stone to “open” in it’s native language. It not so much as a tremble, the slab did nothing. Ce-tan impatient, focused again displaying the same firestorm within his eyes and a humorless smile knocking on the slab. With the same eternal echo that should not have come from stone, the knocks resounded with unplanely might and impatience that shook the fabrics of the rock as a similar servant moved the slab and revealed a dark ladder descending into the depths of darkness.
With eyes piercing through the dark, the grayed granite bottom seen visible to Khatovar, laying Maysam down, he jumped down the ladder without fear of injury. The moment of impact stirred the residents as obnoxious squawking and agonistic behaviors heard and seen. Upon hitting the floor the gruesome toothed biting and rapier swooping of bat-like wings, preceded the terrific visage of a chimeric body. The body of a cock sewn and stitched to the bat-like leathery wings with a snake-like whipping and whirling tail. Khatovar reflexively wrenched his head backwards to try to dodge a fatal blow. However, his reflexes would have been for naught as the beak nearly closing on the neck would have certainly ravaged him had it not been for the heavy chains and shackles around their necks and bodies holding the monstrous beasts at bay. To the side of this stoned cistern, a broken section of wall showed a way out from the burning building.
After seeing the creatures lunge for Khatovar, Fararid followed downward. Seeing the biting creatures, Ce-tan brings to life the arcs of flame attempting to quell the life in their bones. However unplanned, the magics as potent as the are loosened and snapped the chains holding the creatures at bay. The malnourished and abused creatures were of little consequence to the seasoned fighters, as with terse flourish, they were dispatched through broken bone and swift exsanguination alike. With safe passage into the cistern, Maysam was floated down upon a hovering carpet and moved with rest of the group through the broken expanse of wall.
Dark and cavernous climbing further down through the hole of the cistern, held another passage unto a ladder gravitated all deeper into the unknown abyss. Again without fear of injury, the warrior jumped down with the ladder as a guide and hit the bottom of the ladder. Immediately statues of ensorcelled guardians rose to life and let loose upon Khatovar. Worried for his companion, Faharid jumped down denying any risk to help the overwhelmed odds. The stone guardians, though handsome and lime-worn, crumbled into mute piles with ease.
With the lack of sound coming from the grating stone guardians, the sounds of battle echoed down the elongated hall behind a crackled door. Suddenly the door burst open, an assassin in black crashed through, propelled by the force of their attacker. The entrance into the combat showed the another handful of unsavory and stalking men throwing throwing stars accompanied by the man veiled in black robes, our Rayhan’s kidnapper. Fleet, Khatovar lay caution to the wind and rushed forward into the throng ravaging three of the sinister men. Faharid rushed as well pursuing the sinister devils that had accosted the scholar, only leaving the sounds of life being extinguished. With the current threat removed, the entourage peers stealthy approached the sounds of continued combat. Breaching the underground qanat, assassins are in a deadly struggle fighting Sahaugin as the denizens of Ling, ethereal and tenebrous, float above the grime and acrid sewer water.
Left to their own devices and sure that the wiles of the Sahaugin, assassins, and denizens of Ling, were out of distance, Maysam was woken, seated and propped with her back on slumped to the wall. Bloodied and covered in the gore of her puppet, Maysam’s sadistic amorality and hatred toward Katepesh and the Packmasters poured through her venomous teeth.
“They will get what they paid for… The rough seed was exposed to the vices of the city… What fools are you! The Packmasters worked with the denizens of Ling creating seeds of the rough beast… They are Emkrah! Seeds from the Pit of Gormuzh… A newborn will be created, an outsider – a host to have been a spawn of Rovagug to be born to this plane! The frenzy – the riots were only the beginning!
“Emkrah are the spawn that will never be… but you are too late! You desire the key?! I have no such thing any longer!” Her bloodied teeth radiating a darkening and wretched red hue along her gums, “it was given to the genie who wished for the same as I! The spawn will destroy them all! Katepesh will burn! And I am ready to watch them all suffer and die at their own undoing! AND YOU WILL DIE WITH THEM!” Her jarring proclamation and hysterical dark laughter filled the hall and was silenced shortly thereafter for a final goodbye. With an early grave that left a haunting melody echoing in the tunnel, she was left to rot in the tunnel, and it was the time the warriors all realized the further that they go, the more death awaits.
Following the direction of the assassins and denizens of Ling along the qanat, a side door showed footprints and open gingerly to a set of stairs and an archaic haphazard and grotesque chapel to the Rovagug. Desecrating the unhallowed sanctuary, the five men and bird continue until the qanat can be crossed and a long hallway extends. In a side hallway, multiple grates adorn the end. The grates are fashioned atop pits of granite without exit. Laying bound, broken, and beaten pale in inches of seawater Rayhan remained motionless and traumatized blue. With a monstrous crush from his hand, Khatovar broke the lock imprisoning his associate and ripped open the gate with a single deft move. Jumping into the soaked and damp cell, he scooped the broken man over his shoulder and climbed out of the pit assisted by Zahkmed and Faharid. Laying Rayhan on the floor carefully, Zahkmed offered the prayers to Sarenrae of warm and healing firelight to remove the pain and cold from the poor scholar’s bones. The scholar now stable and aware looking around is beset by his friend Abenishi who then excitedly whirls and disappears with Rayhan from the canals of the qanat to areas more indicative to promote well-being.
Rayhan now back to the city’s surface, the seed must be stopped. The clang of steel and echo of blood curdling scream fill the cramped stone halls. Charging toward the chambers of pitched battle, the doors crashed open to the kenning of a fatal free-for-all. A training hall with a rise and falling pneumatic floor holding the denizens of Ling pitted against the assassins led by the man veiled in black robes pitted against stone statues of multi-armed men with spidered bodies holding a spider in each palm. The havoc of the melee reaping favor for the assassins as one of the denizens became overwhelmed by three attackers, is pierced through by their three blades. As if the lifeforce were removed from the outlander, their color ran pale immediately to the colors of copper and limestone, as the denizen became hard and as rigid as a soft stone statue dissolving into an ethereal dream of sand.