Nightfall in Brelindia

55 - Extermination

Gwenverin the Rat Queen stands and fights alongside Aaroth the Furious.

It takes only a few moments for the golem — more brutishly formed than Acnevar the Morbid, and with metal plates bolted into its flesh at knuckles, heart and neck — to focus on the slayers and roar a challenge. Honora steps up to answer its call. Baden looks longingly at the balcony where the assassin had vanished, and then joins Honora in an assault on the golem. Abbron falls back to watch for Gwenverin’s reapparance, thunder in hand.

The golem lashes out in a near-frenzied rage. Very quickly the slayers decide that this must be Aaroth the Furious — or if it isn’t, then Aaroth must be a complete horror. The golem tears free support columns during the fight, dashing them down on Honora and pinning her to the ground.

The rat queen doesn’t waste the opportunity, though her accuracy is somewhat impeded by the clouds of stone dust and wild energy of the melee. She hurls daggers into the fight, wounding her targets as Abbron targets her in turn. Angling for a better shot, Gwenverin drops down to the main floor and circles the brawl, looking for an opportunity.

Aaroth’s fists reap a heavy toll. Bralta’s rune-power is quickly exhausted just keeping her fellows on their feet. Baden nearly collapses under Aaroth’s blows, drawing on Bralta’s runes and his own sacred wellspring to keep standing. The golem smashes Honora to the ground, and the last and most powerful of Bralta’s runes restores consciousness before the Valysan’s life can slip away.

Still, the two axe-wielding slayers refuse to give in. Even as Aaroth becomes more agitated as they cut deeper and deeper into his flesh, they keep swinging. Finally Baden cuts apart the mock-gorget bolted around the golem’s neck, and the thing’s head cannot remain on its shoulders for much longer after that.

The storm sorcerer takes a wind-assisted flight up to the gallery’s balcony, but discovers to his surprise that the supports have been undermined in key locations. He comes crashing back down to the flagstones. But before the rat queen can close and take advantage, Honora and Baden charge into the dance. Gwenverin delivers a volley of vicious bites while in her swarm form, before attempting to bolt from the uneven fight. She doesn’t make it. Baden leaps in front of her, cutting her off — and then Honora charges into her, bisecting the Faceless Gryphon’s pet assassin.

Silence falls in the catacombs once more. The group rests and binds their wounds. Bralta pries away the plate riveted over the fallen golem’s heart, noting the sigil of the dwarven Cloudspeaker clan. Then the group moves up to the surface again. They speak with the Countess’ houndmaster (and make plans to purchase Griff a fine steak), reporting their success. Then they head innward to find a deeper, longer rest.

That evening, they hear rumors of strange deaths in the city. It seems that the all of Gwenverin’s “children” rats died along with her, even those giving life to the rat-hearted converts. One man even fell from the Tower of Judgment, as if he were scaling its outer wall. The group contemplates the gossip, and Bralta begins drawing things together.

The runecantor states that the lightning-forge will probably need connections to lightning rods, most likely placed on the highest towers in the city. The Three Towers were originally built by dwarves, and the cable mountings may still be in place. It seems likely that if anyone was climbing the outside of the Tower of Judgment — the tallest of the three — it may have been to inspect the mountings. Bralta also claims that knowing the Cloudspeakers were in charge of the lightning-forge allows her to extrapolate its likely layout. She draws a rough schematic, and Baden is pleased to note he’s heard of the architectural school the Cloudspeakers preferred.

The next morning, Abbron and Baden go for a walk in the Three Towers district, examining what they can of the towers. Each is clearly built on a very sound foundation, but there are no exposed chains or cables on the towers’ exterior. They report that it’ll be most likely that they’ll have to go below Lanthorn’s streets again to examine the foundations more closely. The group requests an audience with Countess Vainharte to discuss the possibility, and to go over the next move for the city’s safety.

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