The apparent danger seemed to have passed as quickly as the winds that carried it and we hastily made our way to the Inix, fully expecting an ambush that never materialised. Jaryx was out front of the Inn as usual but seemed to be dealing with some troublemakers. From the looks of his clothing, attitude and entourage it was a fair bet this was a noble, and one that cannot handle his broy too i’d wager!
Orsk made the approach as I steadied my hand to within easy reach of my axe – i’ll be taking no chances. Jaryx remarked that this one – Verrassi of Minthur – was being refused entry on grounds of being too far gone for words. He recognised me which was surprising considering his state and stature. There was a brief moment of tension but then the nobles guards saw sense and moved Verrassi off, and good riddance! We left a warm broy out for Jaryx and entered the inn – always good to keep the bouncer happy and on our side i’d say.
Inside the Inix things were busy as usual and the lively hustle and bustle of the thri-kreen servants welcomed us to rest our weary bodies. Rowan was doing his usual job of staring down Mila – i’m not even sure what he is trying to achieve? Mila was in reasonable spirits and brightened up as we handed over good ceramic coin for re-filling our skins and stocking up for a night of guard duty at the Vordon warehouse. We decided not to waste too much time hanging around and aside from Solzak paying yet more money to keep his ‘birds’ in luxury we were done and out of there within a few minutes.
We returned to the Vordon warehouse just as the guards were beginning the first rounds of the night watch. We were met by J’Sek and given a brief tour of the building. Our immediate concern was the courtyard in which the slaves were being held, although it was secure from the sides and above, the floor was uncovered dust. Fine for slaves, but our past experience of these attacks had seen them come from underground. J’sek was concerned and although we tried to think of alternatives in the end there were too many slaves to move, we just had to make best use of the layout of the building to make sure if anyone did spring up they didn’t make it out alive! Orsk and Abdiel set to commanding the guards and co-ordinating the defence whilst Solzak and Naraaku headed up to the roof to help with lookout. Myself and Chuck went down to the forge to look after the armoury. Yes, the armoury! My eyes could seldom believe the magnificent reflection of light on real metal! It was glorious to see if only for a moment before the vaults were closed. I was given a key though, and it would be tough to resist sneaking another peek.
The night wore on, and after a couple hours of nothing happening chuck and I began to get restless. As if reading my thoughts everything suddenly happened at once and the whole building erupted into chaos! Chuck and I were first to feel a tremor beneath the ground – as if something huge had just passed beneath us nearly knocking us over. Quickly we rushed upstairs and almost knocked a guard flat in the process. He was babbling about ‘shadows’ in the building and that Orsk, Abdiel and Solzak had seen something? The situation was worse when I got upstairs as the filthy Elf had locked himself in the office with J’sek – for a moment I even half suspected him to be the assassin – but then a noise behind me took my attentions. An eruption of dirt and sand blasted into the air as the slaves screamed in terror into the faces of giant insectile Ankhegs! Almost instantly they seemed to be gathering bundles of slaves in their mandibles and pulling them back under ground. We had to act fast and Orsk was quick to bark at the guards to assemble on the balconies to rain a volley of crossbow bolts down on the bugs. Abdiel stood at the front of the balcony facing the slaves and bugs – commanding them to stay quiet and not attempt to run. He is fearfully commanding when he wants to be and so the job suits him well. Whirling around again a scream of pain coming from inside the office could only be J’sek!
Bursting through the door I could see nothing but Naraaku and his pet sniffing the air. J’sek was moaning and I could see several darts sticking out of his neck and green lines appearing across his skin as the poison worked its wicked way inside. Swinging wildly I tried to catch the assassins but they were quick and seemed to disappear into thin air. They don’t call them shadows for nothing! They struck J’sek again and after a brief cry of pain he fell silent – this was not good. Frustrated, Orsk tore into the room and swung his hammer wildly, smashing it into the wall with so much strength that the shaft splintered and sent the head spinning into the corner of the room. Then, a stroke of luck saved us once more as the temporary barricade J’sek and Naraaku had used to stop the Shadows from entering from the windows fell to reveal the twin moons of Ral and Guthay perfectly placed to cast their combined light into the room. Hoping we were not too late we sprung to attack.
Meanwhile in the main room the Ankhegs continued to gather slaves and take them below ground. The vordon guards put up a valiant fight, climbing onto one of them and ripping arms and carapace off in order to get to its vulnerable underbelly. In reaction the creature let forth a giant spray of pure acid, covering the guards whom I could hear screaming and shouting as the liquid dissolved through armour and flesh. I only hoped that they could hold on, at least till we could get back to help…