Surprised to be standing in the sunlight, the heroes now known as the Fellowship of Punnishers (and yes, the misspelling is intentional) looked around the Necropolis. They were less than a bowshot away from the Dark Reliquary, and with less than an hour before sunset that was most assuredly NOT a place they wanted to remain.
They made their way through the cemetery toward the nearest exit, where they were met by a fully armed and armored knight. She wore the unmistakable sigil of the Keepers of the Veil on her shield, and the curious knight struck up a conversation with the bedraggled bunch of delvers.
She was astonished to learn that they’d come up through the tunnels of the Darakhul Empire, and warned that attempting to return that way would be suicide.
Aendir was thoroughly disheartened to learn that Phadian had seen the two fugitive cultists leave the Necropolis not ten minutes prior, but there was no way to know which way they’d gone.
Anton Khatru was fully ready to go do his own thing, but Nethwen wasn’t about to let him wander off without claiming the reward from his House. She escorted Khatru and his companions to the Khatru Estate in the Nobles’ Quarter, while everyone else split up in search of baths, beer, and wisdom. (The order of those priorities varied greatly person to person.)
Aendir reported to his chapterhouse. Chesh reported to her temple. Mos disappeared. Thorzin and Yona went drinking.
Aendir and Chesh received wisdom from their mentors, and were asked to keep an eye on each other. Thorzin drank Yona under a table.
Meanwhile, Nethwen and Anton went to his home. As they entered, the other two delvers peeled off and went to do their own thing, while Anton took her to meet his father. Dorant Khatru, head of House Khatru, member of the Commissar’s Twelve Commanders, and head of the Order of Iron Might, looked surprisingly young and hale. He was gruff, stoic, and surly, but seemed satisfied that his son had finally returned. He thanked Nethwen for bringing his son home, and gave her a cheque for the ten thousand golden thrones of her reward (to be collected on the morrow from the Order of Iron Might.
A little shell-shocked, Nethwen went home and was welcomed by her family.
The next morning, everyone met up at the Delver’s Guild Office and discussed what they wanted to do next. Shopping was the first choice, and after collecting their reward they were off to Delver’s Square. They stocked up big-time on healing potions, but a trip to Rastor’s Weapons revealed that even with this big haul they didn’t have enough to buy magical weapons from the big litorian. Yet.
It was about then that a little black bird – actually a shadow sending – landed on Nethwen‘s shoulder. It whispered – in the voice of great-aunt Fransin Nagel that she’d better hie herself home right away because something was waiting for her there.
With a roiling dread in the pit of her stomach, she returned to Nagel Estate to find a scroll that had been hand-delivered from House Khatru. She read it aloud to her much-amused companions:
My Dearest Lady Nethwen,
At first you were just another face in the crowd … just another noble passing aimlessly by, until that fateful day when my eyes laid upon your beautiful face. It was like a ray of sunshine, illuminating the dark depths of the Dungeon.
During my captivity by the cruel kuo-toans, I feared I would never again feel the sun’s warm kiss upon my face. When you rescued me, you showed me that there is still hope and love in this world. You made me realize that all things are still possible. Because of you I began to feel whole and alive. I now see beyond the clouds to a brighter and better day. I thank you for bringing me forth from the darkness and allowing me to truly see the light.
I have enclosed a token of my gratitude and affection. This letter will notify Odsen Rom – the Warden of the Prison – that House Khatru will pay the ransom for the release of Kurtlan Nagel. I have not yet notified the Warden of this intent, as I did not want to rob you of a joyous reunion with your great-uncle.
I look forward to our next meeting with much anticipation, and hope that you might honor me with the pleasure of your company on the evening of the Second of Bloom. I await your response with bated breath.
Great-aunt Fransin began crying tears of joy.
There was also a letter addressed to Odsen Rom, Warden of the Prison:
To: Odsen Rom, Warden of the Prison of Ptolus
From: Anton Khatru, Scion of House Khatru
Good Warden Odsen, Rom,
Please consider this to be your notification that the prisoner known as Kurtlan Nagel is to be released immediately into the custody of the bearer of this letter.
The customary “Release Fee” of Ten Thousand Golden Thrones shall be remitted unto the location of your choice by a representative of House Khatru upon notification of your residence or other, preferred delivery address.
Refusal to release Kurtlan Nagel immediately to the bearer of this letter will not only render null and void the above promissory remittance, but will henceforth remove Odsen Rom from the good graces of Dorant Khatru, Commander of the Order of Iron Might, Member of the Twelve Commanders, and Master of House Khatru.
…There was much rejoicing.
They discussed it a bit and decided that the entire team would accompany Nethwen to the Prison to protect her great uncle upon his release.
The only way to access the Prison was to go to the Docks and hire a boat, which took them across the bay to a barred cavern opening in the Cliffs of Lost Wishes beneath the Guildsman District. The guards let them into the entry, where their papers were examined, and they then loaded up into a pair of boats for the trip along the underground waterways to the inner prison areas.
A number of twists and turns through water-filled tunnels eventually brought them to a crenelated castle wall with yet another portcullis at its center. Beyond this heavy fortification they found themselves finally inside the Prison itself: a massive shaft at least two hundred feet across, with a ramp leading down, down into its dark depths. Doors lined the ramp and they could see torches lighting the ramp for several hundred feet down, but the bottom of the pit was shrouded in darkness.
An elevator platform and winch waited at the top though, and the ogre guard attendant began lowering them into the depths. Thorzin estimated they descended 382 feet before finally reaching the bottom of the pit. Far-off screams of agony and torment could be heard down here, somewhere in the distant tunnels.
Thankfully, they brought light sources with them, and the tiefling guards at the bottom chuckled darkly when they insisted on seeing the warden.
Odsen Rom was in his chamber, behind a door right at the base of the ramp. He was very, very agitated to learn that these interlopers were there for the release of Kurtlan Nagel. He initially refused to let them have the prisoner but grudgingly relented when Nethwen reminded him of what the consequences of refusal would be.
Rather interestingly, Odsen Rom was apparently angry because he’d been offered twenty thousand golden crowns for Kurtlan Nagel from some other “buyer,” though the cagey albino wouldn’t say who that was.
He led them down a dark tunnel, past numerous cells and side passages. The cell doors varied; some were solid metal, some wood with a small, barred window, and others were the wrought iron of jailhouse cell doors. All were shrouded in pitch-black.
From one of these, a ragged voice gasped Thorzin’s name. It was Wretched Bill, who now very much lived up to his name. The man begged for his forgiveness, and pleaded for them to free him from this place. Unmoved, Thorzin ignored his pleas and kept walking. Odsen Rom was definitely paying attention to this.
Kurtlan Nagel was alive – barely – and naked in a cold, wet, black cell. Aendir lay his healing hands upon the poor old man, and gave him his cloak. They left immediately.
On the way out, a voice shouted out from the small window in a cell door they’d passed earlier. “YONA!! I SEE YOU!!”
The rogue looked extremely uncomfortable as everyone turned to see some angry guy peering out from between the bars. Yona didn’t respond and just kept walking. The guy cursed at her for a while as they left. Nobody else recognized him, but Odsen Rom
looked very interested once again.
They exited the Prison without further incident, surprisingly.
House Nagel was ecstatic to have their patriarch returned to them, and the Fellowship of Punnishers were hailed as true heroes.
Nethwen realized she really didn’t have much choice, and reluctantly agreed to go out with Anton Khatru. Her mother immediately bundled her up and took her dress shopping for her big date.
The team took some well-earned time off, and discussed what to do next. Aendir suggested possibly going back after the Rat Folk and their Chaositech-wielding Plagueborn Cultist. Chesh had noticed a posting on the Gathering Hall Notice Board, where someone named Degan claimed to have extensive knowledge of the Lost River Caves and could be found at the Red Stallion Pub.
While Nethwen was getting wooed at the Aristocrat’s Table (only the finest dining establishment in the entire city), everyone else was partying it up at the Red Stallion Pub with the locals. Right about the same time though, all of them heard the newest bardic tale, The Fellowship of the Punishers Meets the Black Hand, a rowdy, rousing tune that briefly tells of their exploits against the Kuo-Toa, the Deep Temple, and their hilarious chase through the Darakhul Empire…
The Fellowship cheered louder than any at the end, and when they announced that the song was about them they didn’t buy another drink for the rest of the night.
And surprisingly, Anton Khatru was a complete gentleman. More importantly, he wants to see Nethwen again…
End of Session.