Realising their ambush was now uncovered and seemingly sure of their success the shadows slipped out of the now open windows. Orsk caught one on the way out but only just and it didn’t stop. In frustration Orsk let out a howl and turned and ran into the main room, both battle claws outstretched he leapt over the balcony to where the Ankhegs were attacking and I half expected to hear the crunch of his body hit the ground. Instead I saw the Anhead rear up into the air with Orsk on its back, stabbing and ripping into its shell as green ichor sprayed all over him and the balcony. Abdiel stepped back momentarily (presumably to stop the mess from staining his robe) and shouted more commands to the guards and slaves to maintain order. With a piercing squeal the Ankheg drove back underground as Orsk tried to hang on but he lost grip and ended up at the bottom of the tunnel. He told us later that he saw ab eerie red light further down the tunnel, similar to the light that was coming from those damn crystals. Then the other Ankheg surfaced once more, directly under chuck! With great agility the Kreen flipped and drew his rapier around and down, causing a large gash in the side of the carapace as Abdiel signalled for the guards on the balconies to attack. A hail of crossbow bolts rained on the wounded insect, causing it to squeal in pain once more. More volleys followed and blasts of eldritch energy from Abdiel until finally the Ankheg expired.
Orsk had chased the other insect beneath ground and again leaping on the back of the insect dug his claws in as it burst once more into the room. The guards sent another volley forth, wounding it greatly as abdiel concentrated and uttered foul words of arcana. The great Ankheg turned is scratched and bloodied mandibles towards abdiel, as if listening to his words, before its head exploded in a shower of green ichor and the body slumped lifeless to the ground. Picking up a discarded blade Orsk proceeded to carve up the body as a war trophy.
The two elves had been debating the ‘best’ method of patching up J’sek but what was clear was that he was not going to last long without some kind of antidote. Solzak was the one with the underworld contacts so it was left to him to slink off and source something else this was going to be a whole lot of effort for nothing! Naraaku had managed to keep one of the shadows alive for questioning so up came Orsk to put the pressure on. For a dedicated tribe of assassins he didn’t take much punishment before he squealed the name of his employer ‘Sycia’. It was no real surprise that she was the one behind it, but why J’Sek? I was half expecting the shadows would have been after us, but perhaps its more a case of destabilising Vordon and getting access to their assets.
We formed a posse and headed down into the tunnels to see if the trail would lead anywhere but it seemed that even if we did want to follow we had no idea what could be down there and in this condition we couldn’t leave J’sek. Just as we were starting to wonder what had happened to him Solzak returned, complaining about how much the antidote cost, but we can sort that out later, the life of a vordon agent is worth a lot more to us than any antidote would have cost that’s for sure. After the antidote was administered we could visually tell the poison effect seemed to fade enough that J’sek would survive. He came round enough to promise us that we would be introduced the next day to Thaxos, the head of house Vordon in Tyr! So we set about taking stock and organising the rest of the guards to keep the area secure for the rest of the long night ahead. We still hadn’t seen any sign of those Stel thugs which makes me nervous. We’d lost about another 100 or so slaves, still over 50% remained.
Morning came however with little incident and we were all relieved to see the burning sun rise above thr golden tower. City guards arrived to assist in the transfer of the slaves and you could see the look on their faces at the now quivering, frightened and broken slaves they were being given. Its a sorry end for them and I can imagine some might have even been grateful for the release of death in the pincers of the Ankhegs rather than face a slow torturous death on the ziggurat. Still, these were no worries of ours, we had earned a reward, of sorts – to be presented to his lord highness the grand master Thaxos of house Vordon. He truly lived up to his reputation at least, a man of luxuries and fine tastes, a world away from the blood and sweat of his trade. Before we meet him however we are taken to none other than Dorjan, the mistress of his majesty the mighty Kalak’s public works. I am struck by her beauty, and although
she has a reputation for her cruelty and wicked temper I cannot resist putting on the charm. To my companions amazement she seems to be quite taken by me, but whether this is a good turn of events remains to be seen. She congratulates us on our victory and for our loyalty to Tyr but then beckons Abdiel close, he seems surprised by what she tells him and a sense of urgency lights up his otherwise grim features. The lady bids us good day but not without inviting me to a gala ball the evening of the games! I’m not sure whether to laugh or take flight but luckily my survival instincts get the better of me and force a reply from my lips of “it would be an honour” for anything else would probably have resulted in death, or worse! Pity this fool or praise my stupidity, ha! I shall see that I do not fail to live up to my own reputation, onwards – to the party! Of course there is the small matter of the next couple of days but I feel optimistic at least.
On our way to meet with Vordon I suddenly spot a familiar face – Helandrez?! That old leather-faced-son-of-a-Jhakar, he’s still alive, sure he’s lost a few pounds but nothing he couldn’t afford to. For a moment I avoid his gaze, attracting the attentions of a slave is never great in public like this but he soon spots me and is frantically waving his arms around like a lunatic shouting my name. In the end I have no choice but to confront him and for a moment I pity the pathetic shadow of my previous employer. The slave life had not been good to him and my immediate thought was he would not last much longer as he may have been blessed with girth but not stamina. He pleads with me to get him set free and that my reward would be a share of a m’ke stash he knew of. As soon as this was said the other slaves nearby chimed in with similar pleads, each less believable than the last. There is a trustworthiness in him though and Helandrez has not double crossed me yet. His allegiance could prove useful still and besides I felt a tiny twinge of guilt at his predicament. Enquiring with the guards helped us little for they demanded a kings sum for his release, no surprise when it came to your average greedy or beuracratic aspiring guard. Perhaps there is another way to secure his release, Abdiel maybe? I palm Helandrez a few coins which should keep him alive for a few more days until we can figure a release. I’m not sure about his word but there was something about the words he spoke that rang true enough to try.
So we were taken to the home of Thaxos, lavish, opulent and decadent. The spoils of living like a king in Tyr, and a king is probably close to how he sees himself, descending the main staircase of his manor as we waited dressed in purple dyed cloths and weighed down with jewellery. He looked ancient beyond his years (which looked easily over 100!) but held himself well. After congratulating our efforts in the warehouse defending the slaves he offered us the position of house agents and all the benefits associated with that. I am loathe to be in any merchants pockets but the arrangement with Vordon has been quite profitable so far, so we accept – also not wishing to offend one of the most powerful and influential people in Tyr was a wise decision that did not need a seconds thought!
Heading back to the Inix we had a slight dilemma on our hands as to what to do next. Abdiel was now determined to go to the party saying that he had been told by Dorjan that an attempt was to be made on his life, and well, if I didn’t show up to the ‘date’ with the lady i’m pretty certain that my death would soon follow. The only problem being that Solzak, worried about the lady Narissa and her cryptic note, was becoming restless to leave for Altaruk. However we also knew that Sycia, the noble who has been causing trouble in her association with the silt cult will be there too, and I am not the only one who wants to know what she has to say. In the end we elected to stay in Tyr for 2 more days to see how things developed before we feel like we can head out into the wilderness…
So tomorrow it seems I’m off to buy a new suit!