Matt Mann as Reks Relagia
Vincent Pecoraro as S’zeves V’destrii
Marc Greco as Borgamat Cadash
Michael Graziano as Varen Gilles
Danielle Callan as Maerlyn Zau’Ombra
Andrew Kilduff as Moon Duskbane
Christine Scott as Yadykath Rathsqar
Reks, Moon, Auleak, S’zeves, Sin, and Kelain were camped just outside the entrance into the next section of the Leviathan’s Intestine. The previous battle with the Kobolds had left them exhausted, and they knew in order to stand a chance against whatever lay ahead of them, they had to take whatever meager opportunity they could to rest up before venturing further into these twisting, chaotic caverns. Moon Duskbane had begun to experience a mild, nagging ache in his head and neck, and was sweating despite the cool atmosphere in the caves and his relative lack of physical activity. He feared that he may have been coming down with whatever ailment caused Maerlyn to opt out of this venture into the caverns.
Suddenly, a shuffling noise could be heard approaching from the outside entrance to the Leviathan’s Intestine. At once, all six of the Current heroes were at their feet, weapons drawn, but fortunately it was not another Kobold attack approaching from the south this time. Instead, Maerlyn Zau’Ombra, Yadykath Rathsqar, and Varen Gilles, the final three members of this Current gathering, joined them at their makeshift campsite. Yadykath moved to speak with Auleak while Maerlyn made her way over to Moon, noticing that he looked a bit weary. Moon expressed his concerns for her health, but she said that she would be fine to continue, mirroring his sentiments about Moon’s apparent physical distress. He shook it off, saying he was fine, and the subject was dropped for the moment.
Varen moved directly through the group to face Reks Relagia, bumping into Borgamat along the way. The young rogue had a look of anxious unease about him, his eyes speaking as much as his words. He was disturbed by recent events, and he wasted no time in recounting them to Reks:
“We’ve been set up. Someone made it look like we stole some cargo from the ship we came in on.”
Varen went on to explain that he had witnessed a trio of Order members, led by Mame Solenara, going to inspect the cargo of the S.N.S. Haiku, discovering that the cargo they were expecting had been stolen and replaced with a decoy, crates full of useless metal scraps. According to what Solenara said, the cargo was very important, vital to the fragile peace of Wyrmshadow. She said that losing that cargo changed everything. He waited until he thought the coast was clear and went to see for himself what they were talking about, confirming that cargo crates full of worthless metal scraps had been offloaded from the Haiku, and also seeing several graffiti-like markings of the Current symbol both on the ship and on several of the crates.
Reks was appalled at the idea of someone using the Current symbol to tag their crime scenes, as it essentially passed blame for their crimes on everyone else in the organization. Kelain agreed, saying that it is not uncommon, but really poor form. Kelain was interested in the tagging though, and asked what the graffiti marks looked like. Varen described them, a glimmering C symbol etched into the wood, emitting a slight purple glow. At the mention of purple, S’zeves’s eyes grew wide. That was his trademark, the purple tags he left wherever he went. Doubly odd was the fact that he had literally only devised the glowing graffiti marks a few days earlier, so for someone else to have seen him do it and emulate it to set him up seemed almost impossible. He had never even gone to the airship docks, so it couldn’t have been him… could it? He silently cursed Runometry for making all things possible. When Kelain looked over into his eyes, he instinctually blurted out: “I swear that wasn’t me!”
Reks demanded an explanation. S’zeves and Kelain told him about S’zeves’s habit, and Reks asked for a demonstration, wherein S’zeves placed a small personal tag on one of the walls of the Leviathan’s Intestine. Varen examined the mark, saying it wasn’t the same design, but the purple glow was almost identical. Reks asked S’zeves if he could place a Current symbol on the wall instead, and S’zeves said it would take some time to figure out how to do that. Reks admonished him for tagging in the first place, but said if he was going to do so in the future it would be best to do it somewhere inconspicuous. Moon Duskbane told him flatly: “Don’t do it at all. It’s stupid.”
Varen said that as he was making his escape from the airship dock tower, he had to kill one of the dockworkers. Reks and the others shrugged. Kelain introduced himself briefly, then said: “If you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be here, and we wouldn’t know what you just told us, so his death served a purpose.” Varen honestly didn’t feel bad about killing the dockworker, but thought for certain that the other Current members would be upset with him about it. They seemed more irritated with S’zeves’s graffiti than they did with him ending a life. These were his kind of people. He still didn’t like any of them, but he didn’t hate them per se, which was a dubious, unmentionable honor in its own way.
They decided to proceed into the next section of the Leviathan’s Intestine, their numbers now far better than before. The following area was quite a bit different than the one they had just left. A slight downhill slope curved to the left as they made their way into a roughly 20 foot wide passage. The ceilings were about 15 feet high. Along the walls of the chamber were several small vertical lines of what looked like Infernal sigils carved directly into the bedrock. From within these lines of sigils, at various depths, a dim yellow glow erupted into the room, bathing the question mark-shaped chamber with a sickly, diffuse luminescence. The sigil lines ran from the floor to the ceiling, were about a foot wide, and were spaced about 20 feet apart from one another. The dim glow of the sigils made the Current aware of the presence of many small rats scurrying and skittering along the floors of the passage. Rats were never a problem in Kouten, so Reks hadn’t had any real experience with them before this day.
Reks asked someone if they had any paper to write down some of these Infernal characters, hoping to get a translation sometime later. S’zeves had taken a few parchment scrolls and a quill from the office of the Order Barracks Commander a few days ago, and he handed them to Reks. Reks busied himself writing out some of the sigils onto one parchment, then pressing the other against the filthy wall itself, rubbing the back of the parchment in order to create a rough etching of the symbols themselves. The writing looked haphazard, as if the work of a madman. While Reks examined the sigils, S’zeves ventured a bit further into the passage, noticing a small pile of odd white rocks along the edge of the floor against the outer wall. He non-chalantly picked one of the rocks up, mortified as it cracked open and a tiny spider crept out of it. In an instant, the entire pile of rocks had cracked, hundreds of tiny spiders leaping onto S’zeves and crawling up his legs, onto his arms, biting him in several places.
Suddenly, the cavern erupted with the sound of millions of spider eggs cracking open all at once, the sheer number of tiny spiders on approach so unfathomable that the muted yellow glow deeper within the chamber became eclipsed with their approach. Maerlyn’s stomach turned at the sight of the spiders, a reminder of the final, horrible moments of Queen Medrahna Nus’Naveidtra’s life. However, as the heroes began to backpedal from the spiders, another, far greater threat made its presence known, and even the spiders were given pause to flee. A resounding thud and a bristling, cacophonous roar thundered into the chamber. S’zeves and Borgamat could make out the source of the noise, a tremendous golem whose body was made of an amalgamation of thousands of roiling, wriggling, disgusting rats. From the “eyes” of the golem and several areas within the chest and abdomen, the same yellow glow poured forth from an unknown internal source. The spiders fled from the Rat Golem and crawled up the walls, burrowing themselves within the recessed glowing sigils, which caused the entire chamber to go pitch black. The only light left in the room was that emitted from the purple marks on S’zeves’s left arm and the soft red glow pouring out of the cracks in Borgamat’s metallic armored skin.
Varen and Kelain suggested luring the golem out of the cramped, dark passage and into the previous chamber, which was well lit and had a massive pit into which they may be capable of forcing the golem. Moon, Mae, and Auleak went with them to set up the ambush while Reks, Borgamat, S’zeves, and Yadykath remained within the chamber to lure the creature out to them. S’zeves told Sin to stay with Auleak, and his faithful canine companion did exactly as he was commanded, as always.
Within the chamber, the Rat Golem made its first move, grabbing Reks with its tremendous left hand and closing its bizarre rat-swarm fingers around his entire body. Reks was utterly surrounded by hundreds of crawling, scratching, biting rats, and he let out an impassioned scream. Though the wounds these rats inflicted may one day heal, Reks would bear the emotional scars of those moments for the rest of his life. Hearing that Reks was in so much agony, Moon and Mae ran back into the chamber. Varen, Auleak, and Kelain struggled to come up with some sort of a complex trap for the golem, but decided to settle for hiding in the shadows near the exit and strike at the Rat Golem the moment it came through.
The Rat Golem hoisted his left arm, still holding the mortified Reks Relagia within, and slammed it into Borgamat, causing severe damage to both the Nomoid Avenger and the Half-drao rogue trapped in the colossal hand. Moon Duskbane burst into the air in his beast form, a massive Dire Wolve lunging at the arm holding poor Reks imprisoned within. Moon’s teeth met rat flesh, tearing dozens of the vile creatures away from the horrid amalgamation, but its grip would not relent. Then, Mae managed to free Reks using her Tempest Dance, revealing that the two arms, two legs, and torso were each essentially separate entities joined together, thus separate targets to be attacked individually. Immediately thereafter, Reks used his Confounding Attack against the enormous Rat Golem’s left arm, causing it to inadvertently smash into the right arm. S’zeves used his Greenflame Blade to damage the two arms, two legs, an torso all at once, causing the creature to shriek in defiant rage and thrash around the chamber. It dismantled into a swarm of vicious rats, plowing over Moon, Mae, and Borgamat, and reassembled at the mouth of the tunnel where it met the open, well-lit area. Damaged, but still in the fight, Moon, Mae, Borgamat, and Reks gave pursuit, with S’zeves and Yadykath in their wake.
Varen and Kelain took advantage of their stealth. Varen caused such tremendous damage with his sneak attack against the Rat Golem’s right leg that dozens of the rats fell off the compound creature, exposing a crude wooden frame beneath the writhing rats making up the bulk of its form. The internal-most rats were clinging to the strands of the wood with their teeth. The same Infernal sigils were burned into the surface of the wooden frame, emitting the same yellow glow. Varen made a mental note of it and decided to get a sample of that wood for later analysis. Kelain also lashed out, his sneak attack finding savage purchase in the Rat Golem’s left leg. Mae, Reks, Auleak, and S’zeves lent the brunt of their offense to the goal of breaking the Golem’s legs, hoping to force it, staggering, into the gaping maw of the spike-filled chasm perilous yards ahead of it.
Moon got a running start, still in his full lupine form, and rushed the Golem from behind not once, but twice. The second bull rush from Moon caused the creature to stagger, his left leg snapping, a shard of the sigil-marked wood splintering off and sliding to Varen’s feet. As Varen eagerly scooped the frame fragment up into his hands, 300 pounds of crystal-driven steel dashed up behind the Rat Golem, leapt into the air, and planted both feet into the Rat Golem’s weakened spine. The creature snapped in half with the force of Borgamat’s dropkick, which sent both halves of its severed body hurtling over the edge of the cliff, down fifty feet, and to its ultimate doom.
After the Rat Golem gave out its final throes of agonizing demise, a loud, angry, female Kobold’s voice could be heard shouting: “NO!!!!” angrily. S’zeves recognized the voice at once as that of Nykathia. Her displeasure brought a smile to Kelain’s face, but Reks, shaken from his recent experience in the Rat Golem’s clutches, could barely think of anything else. Varen displayed the fragment of the Rat Golem’s frame that he had snatched up from the floor moments earlier, earning him a well deserved adulation from Moon for his quick thinking. However, Moon immediately became ill, lurched over, stumbled onto one knee, and began to heave over the ledge. Mae went to his side, kneeling next to him, expressing her concern for him. She said that he should retreat to the safehouse in Drogynia like she did when she was going through the same thing. Moon was too proud to admit he needed time to recover from this strange illness, but Mae said: “If I am busy worrying about your wellbeing, I won’t be able to concentrate on the enemies ahead of us. Your presence here is dangerous, for you, for me, for all of us.” Moon begrudgingly agreed to her logic, retiring to the safehouse as she suggested, vowing to return the moment his health recovered sufficiently.
During the short rest, S’zeves was horribly itchy, especially on his right arm, torso, and legs. As he scratched an especially nagging itch on his right forearm, one of the recently-raised boils on his skin burst, tiny spider crawling out from within. He was utterly mortified, as he had become infested with cave spiders! Kelain said that there was a stream running outside the cave, and that they should run out and see if they could clear the spiders off. After a moment’s hesitation, Kelain and S’zeves left the group’s sight, heading toward the exit of the Leviathan’s Intestine.
Near the exit, with the distant sound of chirping crickets beckoning them outside, Kelain stopped S’zeves and told him: “Okay, use Runometry to get rid of the spiders. I want to see it, though. No funny business.” S’zeves explained that he would first have to find out the equation for the spiders themselves, then determine which variables of the equations would render them inert without causing something disastrous from occurring. Essentially, it wasn’t something he could do on short notice. Kelain, who had previously told him never to use Runometry in his presence, explained that he couldn’t stand seeing S’zeves suffering like that, and he thought of the forbidden art as a kind of instant fix. S’zeves said he would deal with the spiders later, but first, Nykathia had to be dealt with once and for all.
When S’zeves and Kelain returned, they found that everyone else was ready to continue onward. As they re-entered the question mark-shaped passage again, the sigils were no longer glowing, even though it appeared that all the spiders had dispersed. The Rat Golem’s death must have somehow sapped the demonic energies within the strange Infernal sigils on the walls. Illuminating the passage via sunrods, the Current heroes delved beyond this wretched area, bravely entering the next wretched area in their path.
They found themselves in a roughly oval-shaped chamber about forty feet wide and sixty across, the ceilings quite low in this very dark chamber. The only visible way past this area was a ten foot wide passageway that was concealed via magical darkness that the light of their sunrods could not pierce. On the floor on either side of the chamber were two irregular-shaped pools or puddles of liquid that looked like water.
In order to gauge the depth of the water, Varen shot a crossbow bolt toward the larger of the two puddles. The bolt reflected off the floor beneath the puddle and plinked against the far wall, revealing that the liquid was just resting on top of the relatively flat and smooth chamber floor. S’zeves decided to throw caution to the wind, walking briskly over to the large puddle, reaching down, and tapping the liquid with his glowing left index finger. At first, everything seemed fine…
Then, a strand of cold, viscous fluid began to slather onto S’zeves’s shoulder, neck, and head from above. He stifled a scream and slowly looked up, finding that a giant Cloaker was attached to the chamber ceiling overhead. He could then make out the presence of mostly-digested Kobold bones scattered around in the massive puddle of Cloaker drool. From across the room, Borgamat also noticed the huge Cloaker over S’zeves’s head, another, slightly smaller, yet still abnormally large Cloaker clung to the ceiling on the other side of the chamber, the smaller puddle obviously caused by that Cloaker’s disgusting flow of digestive fluid.
Borgamat pointed out the Cloakers to the rest of the team. Cloakers are horrid creatures resembling large stingrays with large, tarp-like bodies, roughly circular, and a long, barbed tail loaded with a paralyzing, bone-digesting neurotoxin. Cloakers attach themselves to cavern ceilings and lay in wait for passing victims. When they sense the victim’s presence, Cloakers drop onto them and wrap themselves around them, suffocating and crushing them while using their barbed tails to digest them from the inside out. The two in this chamber were unusually large, possibly due to Infernal Aether being used to augment them as efficient, lethal guards for Nykathia.
Varen bravely prowled across the chamber, deft and perfect in his silent pace, and made his way to the wall of shadows blocking his view into the passage beyond. He thought for a moment, shook his head, and took a few brisk steps, appearing on the other side of the five-foot-thick shadow wall. He was now in a short, “S” shaped corridor, a brilliant yellow glow pouring in from the opposite end of the corridor. Seeing Varen disappear into the shadows, Borgamat decided to take his chances as well. He managed to make his way across the chamber silently, not disturbing the sleeping Cloakers. Rather than simply stepping through the shadow wall, Borgamat opted to push his fist through first…
Varen was relieved: “Hey, this isn’t so bad. I thought for sure that…” and then he got punched in the back of the head by a steel fist from the shadows. A moment later, after Borgamat realized that he had just struck one of his comrades, the Nomoid Avenger passed through the shadows, hat in hand, apology at the ready. Varen silently chastised him and shook his head, rubbing the fresh bump on his skull with one hand while presenting Borgamat with a rude gesture on the other hand.
Maerlyn, Reks, Yadykath, Kelain, and Sin all passed through the chamber as well, leaving S’zeves and Auleak alone with the Cloakers. Auleak looked at S’zeves, still standing directly beneath a slathering Cloaker, and gestured for the young Shadar-Kai to go before him. Auleak was obviously concerned that his bulky frame and perceived gracelessness would somehow be the catalyst of these Cloakers finally launching their deadly attack. S’zeves argued against Auleak staying until last, but he finally relented. S’zeves barely made it to the shadow wall when Auleak strode at a normal pace past him, saying: “I don’t know what the big deal was. They’re just a couple of Cloakers.”
As the collected party moved through the short, winding corridor, the first of them caught glimpse of a large Kobold force assembled in the chamber ahead. Borgamat, Reks, Varen, Yadykath, and S’zeves planned to attempt sneaking up on the Kobolds and catching them unawares. Yadykath easily concealed himself in the shadows and began to make his way around the corner first, then suddenly turned around and came back to the group: “Yeah… they know we’re here. They’re waiting for us.”
S’zeves replied that they should just charge in and attack them, since surprise and stealth weren’t on the table any more. Reks, Kelain, and Varen nodded, and Borgamat charged into the room, everyone else pouring in right behind him. As they entered, Borgamat and the others leading the charge could make out the layout of the room, and witnessed something peculiar and dreadful in the center of the large, oblong cavern.
Along the outside walls of the chamber were four groupings of Kobolds, boasting three-to-four Cleavers and a Slyblade in each grouping, with the addition of a special Chieftain, War Priest, and Wild Mage in three of the groups. Furthest back in the cavern stood Nykathia with two Cleavers attending her. A triangular platform at the center of the room was flanked by three floating orbs of dazzling yellow flame, a spinning, hovering, five-foot-tall yellow crystal perched at the center of the platform itself. An illusory image of a face could be seen emanating from the crystal and looking at Nykathia. None of the Current heroes could make out any details of the face, but saw that it seemed to have pale skin and looked to be female. Nykathia smiled wickedly:
“Thy will be done.”
The image faded and the Kobolds turned their full attention to the approaching Current party.
As the battle was joined, most of the Current team stayed in a tight, defensible formation, keen on slowly, methodically pummeling through every group of Kobolds guarding Nykathia. However, S’zeves was ever impatient, and with a combination of bravery and foolishness, the young Swordmage dove through the Kobold fray, Shadow Jaunted past their threat, and strode defiantly up to the surprised, but unafraid Nykathia. The Kobold Rat Mistress said to S’zeves: “What are you doing with them? You don’t belong with them. You don’t belong here at all!”
The rest of the group was powerless to proceed much further into the chamber, and equally powerless to prevent the impulsive, brash young Shadar-Kai from assaulting the powerful Kobold leader on his own. They were fighting very well, Cleavers falling to the floor left, right, and center, but they were not making a lot of progress into the room. These Kobolds were well prepared for them, it seemed.
Nykathia was surrounded by a glowing, yellow aura seemingly comprised of hundreds of illusory rats encircling her. As S’zeves stood poised for combat next to her, these illusory rats began to unleash some very real damage, their glowing claws opening flesh and finding chinks in his armor. He shrieked in pain, then was further dismayed with the War Priest approached and used it’s Devouring Stone power, the very bedrock beneath his feet crawling up his legs and binding him to the ground, small spikes growing to pierce his flesh from within the stone encasements slowly creeping up his legs, causing waves of pain… and the sudden knowledge of the fact that now, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t escape from Nykathia’s Rat Aura. He lashed out at Nykathia with his Deep Freeze power, but it wasn’t enough to free him from the deadly aura or the encroaching Kobold guards. After only a few short moments had passed, S’zeves was felled by the Rat Aura, crumpled to the ground, and began to die.
Everyone else in the group held their own, but they were pinned near the entry and unable to get far enough to aid S’zeves. The Wild Mage climbed atop the triangular podium and placed his hand upon the surface of the floating crystal, cackling as the glow from the crystal grew to surround his body as well. Suddenly he cast one of his most powerful spells into the crystal, and the effects of his devastating magical assault were triplicated via the three floating orbs of fire adjacent to the platform. This assault, as well as several well-timed and flawlessly organized strikes from the Chieftain and a Slyblade, led to Kelain’s downfall.
The bard collapsed to the ground, visibly covering his face with his hands as he slammed unceremoniously into the hard firmament below. Borgamat moved to knock the Wild Mage off the podium, and Reks followed Borgamat’s attack with a vicious Shuriken strike. The Wild Mage retreated while the War Priest ascended the platform in his wake, touching the crystal and sending a mystical poisonous assault toward three unsuspecting Current members nearby.
Borgamat decided it was time to destroy the crystal, and he did so with relatively little effort. The Wild Mage then rushed over to S’zeves’s unconscious body, reached down to take a hold of his cataleptic form, and teleported out of the room, taking S’zeves with him.
Borgamat was incensed by this, and decided to take the attack directly to Nykathia. As he approached the Rat Mistress, he caught view of something for a split second… or at least he thought that he had. It looked like S’zeves, or someone like him, but much older and taller. Somehow, in that same split second then he could have sworn he saw someone else in the room with them, Nykathia collapsed in a state of utter conconsciousness. Recalling the mission given him by Priest Kraes of the Death’s Scythe Sect, Borgamat raised the blade of his sword, intent on severing the unconscious Kobold’s sinning head from her damned body.
Reks realized that there were far better uses for Nykathia than her death would allow for, and so he crossed the room to prevent Borgamat from making good his intent to finish the Kobold Rat Mistress in the name of Veil. Reks took Nykathia’s limp form in hand and held her in front of him, blade to exposed neck, getting the attention of every remaining Kobold in the cavern:
“Drop your weapons and surrender, or Nykathia dies!”
The War Priest suddenly became panicked, calling for all the remaining Kobolds to stand down. However, the Kobold Chieftain refused to give in so easily. He took a hold of the still unconscious Kelain and said: “I’m walking out of here. Anyone tries to stop me, and I…”
Before he could even get all the words out, Varen struck from behind the Chieftain, forcing him to release Kelain and shoving the Chieftain further into the cavern, utterly blocking off his only viable escape from the Leviathan’s Intestine. Kelain came to at that very moment as well, getting back up to his feet. Sensing that they were utterly outnumbered and outclassed, the War Priest once again implored the Chieftain to throw down his weapons and surrender as requested. The Chieftain, detecting the futility of a prolonged attack, followed the War Priest’s advice and surrendered.
Nykathia began to revive, though she was utterly depleted of all her mystical powers and, at Reks’s whim, could be easily deprived of what meager life she had left her. Reks demanded answers, first asking who the face in the crystal was. Nykathia replied that she only knew her orders came from someone called the Dark Lady. Nykathia would not reveal much else, but she did tell Reks that S’zeves was being taken through the passage south through an access tunnel leading back into the sealed Burning Star Mines, where the Chime of Opening would give them access to the passages beyond the sealed door. She claimed not to know what was beyond the door, and flatly refused to supply any more information, even at the cost of her own life. No longer feeling that her life served any purpose, Reks provided Borgamat with the opportunity to fulfill his oath to Priest Kraes. Borgamat slid his sword back behind him, reached skyward, and summoned a fiery, divine scythe from Arcadia, which spun to the floor and pierced Nykathia’s very soul, tearing it from her body and delivering it to Veil for his eternal judgment.
S’zeves began to come to, finding that he was being dragged down a hallway that seemed all too familiar. He was once again within the Burning Star Mines, in the hallway with the sealed magical door at the end. He could make out the shape of the Chime of Opening in the other hand of the Kobold that was dragging him down the hallway. Suddenly, S’zeves made out the sound of something dreadful happening to the Kobold, his captor’s arms going limp and dropping him clumsily to the floor, as well as the Chime of Opening sent rolling a few yards ahead of him. The Kobold had been struck dead, but he was so weak that he could barely lift his head from the floor. His vision was blurred from exhaustion and strained in the relative darkness of the mines, however he was still able to make out a most peculiar sight.
He saw someone crossing in front of him, kneeling to take the Chime of Opening into his left hand. The left hand looked just like S’zeves’s, winding, spiraling patterns of glowing purple light emanating from the index finger, up the forearm and biceps, wrapping up the chest. The man was far older than him, taller, and broader in the shoulder, but he did appear to be another Shadar-Kai. Perhaps most unusual was the fact that he also had a large, gray-coated dog, older and more feral looking, but with the same markings that Sin had.
The man looked to him, his eyes aglow in violet light, and said that he was sorry, but: “This is for your own good. For all of our good. He drew his left index finger through the air in front of him, creating a moderately complex Runometric equation, then modifying it. Suddenly, as S’zeves was watching the equation, the symbols began to shift around and spin in his eyes, morph into other symbols, or vanish altogether. The man knelt to pat S’zeves on the shoulder, saying: “It’s called Runometric Dyslexia. Sorry, pal.” He then Shadow Jaunted away, and S’zeves, shaken to his very core, was left utterly speechless.
In the background, beyond the view of the others, Maerlyn began to feel dizzy and overwhelmingly lethargic. She backed away from her companions awkwardly and collapsed to the ground unconscious. Auleak moved to check on her while Reks continued the interrogation of the Kobolds.
The War Priest again pleaded for the lives of her people, this time agreeing to lead the Current to the location of the Goblin’s cave to the east. However, as Reks was about to agree to her terms, the Kobold Ninja, Yadykath, stepped forward to offer a passionate, hate-filled argument for ridding themselves of these Kobolds and finding the cave on their own. Yadykath said that these people could not be trusted. The War Priest called Yadykath a race traitor, but Yadykath pulled down his mask, revealing deep, nasty scars on his throat and lower jaw. These scars were given to him by his mother as a very young child. Yadykath said that anyone whose culture condones doing this to their own children shouldn’t be allowed to draw breath. Yadykath then turned and left, S’zeves chasing after him.
Reks said that nobody was in charge here, so it should be put to a vote: kill the Kobolds or accept the War Priest’s deal. Varen immediately voted to kill them, as did Kelain. Auleak, who was just helping Maerlyn to her feet, voted to kill them as well. The Kobolds began to cry out in fear and anger, the War Priest letting out an impassioned final plea. It was a plea that would fall on deaf ears. One by one, Varen and Borgamat took the lives of the imprisoned Kobolds. Two of the bodies were kept by Borgamat to be used as food for the Cloakers on the way out.
Once everyone was outside of the Leviathan’s Intestine, Maerlyn finally began to regain her bearings. She was feeling very ill, much more so than she had when they arrived on the S.N.S. Haiku the previous day. Auleak offered to escort her back to the safehouse in Drogynia and get a hold of a doctor or healer that was friendly with the Current. She agreed, eager to check on the status of Moon Duskbane as well.
S’zeves went to Kelain, offering his apologies for brushing past him and ignoring him earlier. S’zeves told Kelain, privately, about the incident in the Burning Star Mine passage leading to the sealed door. He told Kelain about the other Shadar-Kai, how eerily similar he was to S’zeves, how he even had a large gray wolfhound like Sin, and Kelain began to become very disturbed. Kelain remembered that S’zeves had previously somehow gone back a day in time to prevent himself and his Order friends from perishing. He suggested that the other Shadar-Kai that S’zeves saw may have been an older version of himself. He then got wide-eyed and nervous, realizing that the other “S’zeves” may indeed have stolen the cargo from the S.N.S. Haiku!
S’zeves shook his head and cursed Runometry for making all things, no matter how bizarre, entirely possible. Kelain said that they couldn’t keep this a secret from the others anymore. He said that they deserve to know. Reks interrupted them:
“Deserve to know what?”
S’zeves filled everyone present in on who he was, where and when he was from, and what he was capable of. At the mention of Auriq Sinystre, Reks mentioned that his father, Daythin, knew the man as a fellow member of the Peregrine crew. S’zeves further reveals that it wouldn’t have been the same Sinystre that Reks’s father knew. In S’zeves’s native Wyrmshadow, the Shadar-Kai were a numerous and well-known race, but nobody in this world seems to have ever even heard of the Shadar-Kai. Kelain then prompted S’zeves to reveal the rest of the problem. As S’zeves shared the details of the incident in with the other Shadar-Kai, Borgamat chimed in that, for a split second, he thought he saw a man that looked similar to S’zeves but older and larger in build, right before Nykathia mysteriously collapsed. That same Shadar-Kai, as he seemed to share all of S’zeves’s powers at an even higher level, could be the one that stole the cargo from the S.N.S. Haiku.
Further complicating matters, Kelain revealed that in the process of rescuing him from an Order holding cell, S’zeves killed the famous Order paladin, Sir Pac Sapius. Sir Pac was incredibly well liked among the Order, and his death at the hands of a member of the Current meant that the entirety of the Draconite Church would be determined to bring everyone in the Current to justice for it. Reks was overwhelmed by this news, expressing almost uncontainable frustration toward S’zeves for all the trouble he had heaped on to the Current’s shoulders in such a short period of time.
Kelain revealed something that he hadn’t shown anybody, not even S’zeves. From around his neck he produced an artifact called the Locket of Recall. He clicked open the locket and an illusory image of Sir Pac appeared. It was a visual record of events during the interrogation of Kelain. Though it appeared to S’zeves and the others that Kelain was left without a scratch, the bard revealed that it was all an illusion. Kelain dropped the illusion so they could see how badly beaten and bruised his face was, the lacerations and broken blood vessels, the missing teeth, all caused by Sir Pac’s unnecessarily brutal interrogation techniques.
Kelain, as a prideful, even narcissistic young man, couldn’t bear to have his friends see him as anything other than his dashing, handsome self.
The illusory recording from the Locket of Recall revealed that Sir Pac had devious motives for Kelain’s capture. Pac spoke to a couple of other Paladins in the room near Kelain, unaware of the Locket in their prisoner’s possession:
“The Current have had it too good for too long. They flaunt their flagrant disrespect for the law and get away with it. They are growing in popularity. Do you believe that? These criminal scum are actually popular among the masses! The Order can’t act against them as a whole because there is sympathy for them. Well, those Current bastards are coming back to rescue their friend Kelain back there, and soon. I’ve taken steps to ensure that they spill a lot of blood in the process. Maybe a bloodbath will convince the Order to take down the Current once and for all…”
The weight of this revelation began to sink in. Pac had intentionally arranged for his own men to die when the Current came to rescue Kelain from their holding cell, perhaps even planning for his own death to spark a furor among the Order against the Current. Now, thanks to Pac’s obsessed plot, his blood and that of the other Order Paladins stained the hands of the whole of the Current. Pac’s twisted sacrifice was designed to spark a holy war against them, and it just might have worked. S’zeves reminded Kelain that there was one surviving Paladin who may have been aware of, or even involved directly in, Sir Pac’s plot. Perhaps if they could find this Paladin, they could extinguish this powderkeg before it blew up in all their faces.
The missing shipment from the S.N.S. Haiku was also a major concern. They needed to know what it was that was stolen that was so important that an Order big shot like Mame Solenara would fly from Drogynia just to examine it. More importantly, they needed to clear themselves from implication in this crime, and that might mean tracking down the true culprits, whoever they may be, and recapturing the stolen goods from them.
There was also a matter of the Goblins in the east who were, like the Kobolds, working for the Dark Lady. The idea of splitting up the group came up, but it was quickly shot down. They were almost too few to deal with the Kobolds in the Leviathan’s Intestine as it was. If they were intent on continuing in any direction, it was deemed best to do so together.
Then, a tiny, pretty little robin fluttered through the air to rest on Varen’s shoulder. It hopped over to his ear and sweetly chirped, delivering a message to Varen from Aelanah Beastfriend, their spy among the Order.
Varen listened to the chirps, and as the sole intended recipient of the message, he was the only one who could understand their meaning. His eyes suddenly, visibly narrowed, gaining him a few puzzled, concerned looks from Reks and the others. He then recited the message from the little robin Aelanah had sent them:
“The Order has been dispatched to Yonsalyre in Prair. They have come across some Goblins and are in pursuit.”
S’zeves and Kelain celebrated. If the Order was already following up on the Goblin lead, that freed them up to remain in Drogynia and attempt to undo some of the damage to their reputation, if possible. Varen wasn’t finished with the message, however:
“She also asked who killed Pac, and said it was a bad move because the Order’s really pissed about it.”
S’zeves bowed his head. Kelain, Reks, and Borgamat told him not to feel bad about it. He was trapped into that course of action, he had to rescue Kelain, and, according to Borgamat, Pac truly did deserve to die and face his God’s judgment. Varen added one more thing:
“She said something about a Drao Plague? Mame Solenara’s men might have said something about it offhandedly as well…”
Reks’s eyes widened as he looked toward Drogynia, down the road on which Auleak had just carried Maerlyn. It dawned on them all… Moon and Mae both started becoming very, very sick the moment they arrived in Drogynia!
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Chapter C-1: Sins of the Fathers Preview: Kobolds in Drogynia?
Chapter C-2: The Current in… Into the Leviathan’s Intestine
Chapter C-3: Varen Gilles in… A Stigma of Guilt
Chapter C-4: The Current in… Nykathia Awaits!
Chapter C-5: The Current in… A Burden of Prestige
Chapter C-6: The Current in… Arrivals and Departures
Chapter C-7: The Current in… Legacy of Pain, Part 1 of 2
Chapter C-8: The Current in… Legacy of Pain, Part 2 of 2
Chapter C-9: The Current in… Trials of Pain, Part 1 of 3
Chapter C-10: The Current in… Trials of Pain, Part 2 of 3
Chapter C-11: The Current in… Trials of Pain, Part 3 of 3
Chapter C-12: The Order & The Current in… To Slay the Darkness
Chapter C-13: The Order & The Current in… To Save the Light
Chapter C-14: The Current in… Prophecies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 1 of 3
Chapter C-15: The Current in… Prophesies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 2 of 3
Chapter C-16: The Current in… Prophecies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 3 of 3
Chapter C-17: The Current in… Time To Wake Up
Chapter C-18: The Current in… The Eternal and the Forever Changed
Chapter C-19: The Current in… The Tragic Tale of the White Lion
Chapter C-20: The Current in… Sealing of the Fates
Chapter C-20: The Current in… “The First Steps Are Always The Hardest…”
Chapter C-21: The Current in… “…On The Journey To The Rest Of Our Lives