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Act 2. Session IV. April 28, 2007.
Year 124 FHR, 2nd day of the 3rd rule, in a state of Serenity

I believe in its denizens. From a hundred, hundred worlds they have come….””

– beginner’s cant.

In the room behind the bar we found the blood gate on the killing floor. It was a rusted old grate atop a ramp. Ludvik tied a rope to an exposed strut in the wall, and Cy removed the grate. A step down, into the hole in the floor was a ramp that was black with dried blood and detritus. Ludvik stepped in and sat on the step. Svanna handed him a package, saying his mother wanted him to have it. The bundle was wrapped in an embroidered handkerchief. Svanna kissed the top of his head, and went home.

Ludvik shimmied down the ramp and soon saw the bubbling ooze at the bottom of the slide. 5′ above the ooze, his heels snagged on a crack. The chute was made of finished stone, and this crack seemed as gummed up as the chute itself. After a brief discussion, I made my way down the chute and over Ludvik, into the crack that was now between his feet. I came out inside some sort of mortuary. In my time it was illegal to house corporeal remains in the city. The dustmen dealt with the dead as there were just too many people and not near enough land in the Cage. But here was a room filled with dessicated bones. I was up on a shelf – about 6′ off the floor. There were between 100 and 120 bodies in this n shaped room. Along the top of the n was floor of waste from the butcher shop, dried bones, blood and gristle.

I helped Ludvik down, then began exploring. To my left was a shelf with rocks on top. When I unpiled the rocks I found an opening beyond that had a plank running across an abyss to a stone tower.

The n shaped room alternated between an alcove filled with shelves of bones, and a solid plate of stone. The stone had long lists of Hellenic names, a date I didn’t recognize, and the phrase “taken by the Earth quaker”. At first we thought these stones were capstones; but later we realized that very few had room for bodies. We spent some time puzzling over the graves, before electing to move through a gap in the northern wall. I made a note to come back and explore the entrance in the southern wall, but that’s a story for another time.

As we made our way up a street-turned-tunnel, we were attacked by a man-rat who jumped out of the shadows and flung his javelin at Cy. Cy managed to strike back and the man-rat ran away, squealing all the way. Eki gave chase, and threw his dagger, but missed. I gave the man-rat’s fallen javelin to Cy so she’d have a weapon. The man-rat tried to harry us, but we pushed him back along the street-turned-tunnel, and beyond. Ludvik gave chase but the floor collapsed out from under him. He fell into a midden pit and landed hard about 9 feet down. Meanwhile the man-rat scrambled up a flight of stairs and onto a raised walkway.

As Eki was trying to help Ludvik out of the midden pit, a pustule covered half-orc emerged from one of the doorways we passed in combat. This rotting jack tells us to get off his turf. He carried a crossbow. Then we hear Miska call out from the alchemy shop. He was quickly silenced.

Cy helps Ludvik out of the hole as Eki charges, took a bolt to the shoulder and still managed to hit and stun the rotting jack. Cy follows Eki and the two convince the rotting jack to run for it rather than continue to face their onslaught.

Meanwhile Ludvik unwraps the item Svanna gave him. It was a nice sliver-plated dagger. He then follows me into the old alchemy shop. After a bit of snooping, another rat-man steps out from the shadows and threatens us. Ludvik attacks him and he seems scared of the dagger. Eki and Cy join us and it’s a long fight. Even when Ludvik hits him, it seems to do little or no damage. Da’s trapped in the corner near the hearth, and hard-pressed even to talk.

I take watch near the door, and notice the berk coming back. I call for Cy’s help and she defeats him, and the berk is dying. Just then Eki calls for Cy’s help. She leaves the berk, and I heal him! Don’t ask me why, it just … seemed right at the time. I peeked in on the fight and Ludvik was down and the man-rat was boasting again; saying he could fight all night, but we’d fall one by one.

I asked Cy if I should go up top for help, she concurred and I went. I learned later from Eki that after I left the man-rat wanted to negotiate. It comes down to us letting him leave and he not kill Mika. He leaves, finds his berk still alive and carries him off. Bloody plaguers – he said his kind flourished in plagues; yes – he and the berk were doomguard and yes, they’d blocked the sewers; but stop getting ahead of me here.

Anways – I come back down and Ludvik is pulled and prodded up the chute so that Ismine can see to him. He awakends on the killing floor of the butcher’s shop. Down below the rest of us explore the old chandlery. We find a few odd things, mostly proving these rooms were once proper shops facing the street. One even had a privy.

We find the blockage around the corner.

After some discussion we rig some ropes and send them up through the grate between Hinrik and Yougros’ homes in Corssguard. Cy climbs out and gets more rope. We tie ropes to the blockage and the folk above pull out the supports. When they finally come free (after a good hour of fussing) the plumbing system is restored.

The rest of us got out of the sewers via the chute.

The folks in the street shovel away the green slime and clean up the place. Over the next few days – banners are hung – various Hellenic folk from the Hellenic temples begin turning out. Things pick up and the festival is organized.

The Aftermath
The festival begins in the Lady’s ward when a priest of Hephaestus reenacts striking Zeus in the head with an ax and a priestess of Zeus lights a torch using divine power. The relay race is at sunset through the lady’s ward. Boys pass the torch back and forth. Both Eki and Castor are part of that years race.
The torch is brought to applauding crowds in Crossguard. The weather cooperates as the night is clear and blown free of smog. People gather around Eki and light their own lights from the torch he carried. A city fair becomes an all night party.

A procession brings forth Athena’s new dress. It’s carried around the neighborhood like a sail on a tall mast. Cy bears the mast and follows Sophia and Ismine through the neighborhood. There’s flowers and food for sale everywhere and everything smells so good, and so clean!

Gifts of olive oil are given to the temple. Many yearly tithes are paid in olive oil and the church in turn sells it back to the faithful. The night is full of drunken revelry.

The very next morning however … Svanna is gone. She was seen enjoying the procession, but come morning her bed’s empty and not been slept in. No one knows what’s happened. Ismine asks the priests of Apollo (Prognostication). They can’t say where she is. They know only (after speaking to the priests of Hades) that she’s not in the Elysiums fields.

Ismine found the information about the catacombs interesting. There are rumors that every place is the original settlement for the Hellenic peoples in the cage.

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Act 2. Session III. April 14, 2007.
124 YR of Factol’s rule, 2nd day, 3rd rule, state of Serenity

It was an exciting time. Within less than a week, we’d be celebrating Athena’s birthday. Specifically we’d be celebrating Athena as protector of the city. Melissa has been working on the dress for a year and a half now. The special day would feature processional marches, a torch relay race for the young boys, and the dress would eventually be pinned to the tapestry in the church.

At twilight the air was thick. Chryseis was at Hinrik’s forge and Eki was on his way back to Crossguard from the lower ward. Ludvik awoke in the room he shared with Svanna. Normally, he’s the first one up. Svanna usually slept long and late, but this particular morning she was awake, and setaed on the bed. She stared intensely forward.

Ludvik learned that Svanna had a dream that woke her. She dreamed of her mother and it seemed so real. The siblings briefly spoke about their missing mother. Ludvik was fatalistic, admitting only that it bothered him sometimes. Their mother couldn’t be perfect, after all she’d left them.

Downstairs Avrillius dropped by to wish Chryseis a good day. Chryseis was working on a piece of engraving. It was a task the least likely to annoy the neighbors, and one she’d found by trial and error. She was watching the day workers heading to the foundry in their grey-black cloaks. A few Davas float by.

She was startled to hear someone yelling down on ash row. A man turned the corner into crossguard, slipped, fell, then was up and running straight for Chryseis. She stood to get a better look. The human was male and had a grey-brwon beard. He seemed full grown and was wild eyed in panic. He began yelling even louder.

Chasing him were three cloaked individuals. They turned the corner as a group. One spotted him and they surged forward. The old man banged on doors, and when they didn’t open, he lurched towards the next, and the next – making his way up the street, towards Hinrik’s forge.

As Ludvik came down to the forge, he heard the yelling. Chryseis pointed out the stranger and headed out into the street. Ludvik grabbed the tonges from a workbench and followed. The three cloaked indivduals were male tieflings.

Eki was close to home. He passed a few other light boys and foundry workers when he saw three people running pell-mel into Crossguard. He followed and heard the old man yelling.

Chryseis spoke to the toughs, trying to get them to state their grievances. One grabbed the old man and spun him around. They spoke in a guttural tongue to each other. The old man drew a dagger and seemed prepared to fend everyone off. Ludvik tried to convince the toughs to leave the old man alone. They recognized Ludvik as an assimar and they claimed the old man’s junk. The noise woke me and drew me to the window. I saw them gathered together in front of Yougros’ door, so I went downstairs and woke Yougros up.

Eki called out that the Harmonium are on the way. Chryseis tried to convince the toughs to leave and then interposes as the stranger defended himself with his dagger. The fight is short and the toughs are matched by Chryseis, Ludvik and Eki. Eki successfully triped one, Ludvik beaned another with the tonges and Chryseis grappled and held the third. The toughs agreed to leave. As a parting shot Ludvik put a halo on one of the tough’s heads. He got rid of it quick, but they’ll remember Ludvik for that.

By the time Yougros came to the door with a stout club in hand, it’s all over. We took the stranger to the temple and learn that the clueless is called Eliath. Chryseis wakes up Sophia and she managedto find a common language (Gnomen). Iseme puts him to work on oiling the pews in the temple. It’s a task he seems comfortable with. He’s got a pretty piece of jink around his neck – a medallion showing the sunrise.

Iseme follows a set of muddy tracks out of the church and into the street. Eki didn’t wipe his feet before going into the temple. Outside Iseme notices that the sewer is backing up. She departed for the Olympian temple.

Meanwhile I was asking around about the clueless, trying to figure out who to ask to see where he’s from. Iseme spoke a few words of gnomen, but other than maybe Averlius – I couldn’t think of another that I knew who knew the language. I learned from Ismene, Da and Averlius that we’d have to take the clueless deep into Gov’ territory and visit the hall of information to try and find the clueless’ home world. Then there’d probably be a fee in figuring out if there was a doorway back to wherever he’d come. Since he got here and got chased – it was doubtful he could find his way back on his own. The adults kept telling me that he should work, get his own coin, and find his own way out of the hell hole he’d fallen into. That just didn’t seem right to me, but Ismene said we can’t help them all.

By second watch the sewer wasn’t just backing up, it was spreading out. By mid-afternoon people are avoiding the area. It was a serious problem – the flies and the stench were pervasive. Wingar Finash tried to organize a response to this. Da is hired to go find the blockage. Da says there’s streets under these streets – and giant rats too. At the time I though the was just trying to scare me off.

Da goes down into the sewers to find the blockage. I went rat hunting for the bounty on their tales. Eki, Cy, Ludvik and Eliath all shovel shit. It’s quite a problem finding a place to dump the stuff as, as the day progresses more and more of the drains are blocked. Rats are swarming up out of the sewers and the gallows hawks swarm to get the rats. The flies are everywhere. Later in the day, the Doomguard come out to enjoy the view – telling us to just give in. The world will end in shit.

That night I spoke to Averlius and he offers to look into where Eliath might have come from. He seems to agree with the other adults that you can’t help them all, but to this day I don’t know if it was the stench of the place that gave him a serious jonesing to go do something away from here, his curiosity, or my own intentions that made him take this up. Possibly a bit of all of the above.

During the night, it began to rain. And by morning our smelly little problem became huge.

Ismine returned a few hours after dawn. The Davas have at long last arrived and start shoveling sewer refuse. They also removed the midden piles; anything to keep the number of rats down. By mid-morning, however, Da was still missing. The grate through which he went into the sewers was overflowing. Wingar was trying to organize more locals, and us kids decided to go down and find Maurii.

Wingar lent us some rope and unlocked the door to the old butcher’s shop at the far edge of crossguard. Ludvik went in first. As he stepped in, something came crashing down from the ceiling. Slime and refuse splatterd out the doorway and Ludvik was violently ill. Eki was next in and he was attacked almost immediately by a ghost. The thing raced across the small room and grabbed his arm. I managed to get in via the window and threw a dart at it, while Chryseis grappled with the ghost on Eki’s arm.

I was then attacked from the shadows and fled. Chryseis managed to kill the thing on Eki’s arm. It was some kind of bug, covered in an old and tattered sheet. As we tried to regather the door behind the bar opened, and then closed. Chryseis healed us with a prayer and a touch. It was strange – I remember feeling somewhat lightheaded and then very relieved, so much so I barely noticed the stiffness in my tail.

We went back in after Ludvik stopped retching. Eki found his dagger almost immediately, and we steeled ourselves for what lay beyond the recently closed door at the back of the shop.

Act 2 – A summary of What Came Before
A place whose story is without beginning or end.

– beginners chant

A summary of what came before.
122 YR – A new doomguard factol (Pentar, F19) is elected. He is the youngest factol ever made leader and quite manic. Over the next few years arson, theft and civic unrest follow. Anarchist prophecies abound and vandalism is rampant. A new harmonium factol (form the Harmonium homeworld) is elected and quickly becomes much-loved. Factol Sarin (HM, Paladin) performs personal arrests on the very streets of the cage.

123 YR – I came of age and got my citizenship papers. While the ceremony was nice and the responsabilites were not then understood, the biggest event was that I got to go to the Keg and Cask! It was also the year when Prioress Sophia noticibly slowed down. She stopped being the great force that I remember from my kit-hood, and she gave over even more duties and responsibilities to Ismine. I think it was the year I realized Prioress
Sophia was mortal.

124 YR – Chryseis becomes an alcolyte at the Athenian temple in Crossguard. She is eventually given papers and recognized as an adult. We take her to the Keg and Cask to celebrate. Ludvik & Svanna turn 12 and become citizens and naturally, we celebrate by taking them to the Keg and Cask. Poor Eki is the last of us to become a citizen. He’s ecstatic! He can finally go to the Keg and Cask; but by then it’s pretty much old hat for us. This was the same year that Hinrik started to expand his business by making spear heads and javelins. There was an incresed demand for weapons and swordhold prospered because of it. At the time we were too young to question why, but many blamed the increase on the difficulties between the doomguard and the harmonium.

Media took on more duties at the church, but remains uncertain whether she wants to become an alcolyte. She’d have to live at home as the church doesn’t have the space in the priori.

Eki continued to serve as Jornos’ light lad and Jornos became a common fixture in the neighborhood.

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