After their bruising fight with some Black Hoods, our band of mercenaries from Turlough’s Steel, deep within the Waterdeep Sewers decided to find a place to rest and recharge for the night. Gnf found a secluded alcove that was easy to defend, and the others settled down to set up camp, and stand their watches.
Max decided to scout the area using caution and stealth. He observed another group of Black Hoods, evidently searching for the group, but making little progress. The night was otherwise uneventful.
The next morning, the group continued to follow the arcane trail that Calfalas pointed out to them, with Gnf’s assistance. Calfalas had a metallic bowl of some sort with an enchanted needle floating on a watery substance, which pointed in the direction of something Calfalas called a “interplanar gradient”. Gnf attempted to assist by using another bit of arcane apparatus, a sort of pendulum, but couldn’t seem to get the hang of operating it. Max again scouted ahead, while Allyson and Aprilane stood guard.
Despite having a very difficult time being distracted and having their minds wander, they reached a T-junction in the sewer, and a distinct sewage smell, usually absent in the Waterdeep Sewers, was perceptible, and noticed a slight variation in the wall opposite the catwalk that seemed to be a secret door of some sort.
It was just then that they were attacked by a band of cultists to Cyric and Demogorgon. The fight seemed well in hand when a few of the cultists jumped into the drain trench and waded forward, using their fearsome screams to hit the non-melee members of the group. Fortunately, Lyra was able to heal Gnf when he fell, and Max appeared out of nowhere, slaying cultists from behind, so the party prevailed.
But their resources were fairly spent, so they decided to call it a day. Again they made camp. Somehow, though, their minds were playing tricks on them. Aprilane sought out good ambush points from which to stand guard; the first place she found seemed fine until she noticed that one side was completely exposed and open! Gnf set up his Chime of Awakening, which Allyson took advantage of while keeping watch in the sleeping area. Lyra communed with the spirits, as usual, while Max scouted. While out scouting, Max heard some footsteps marching along. Following them, he saw ahead a male figure with wild gray hair, whistling a tune. The figure turned and beckoned to Max and went around a corner. Following, Max rounded the corner to see nothing of the figure, but realized he was at the place where they had found the secret door the day before.
Meanwhile, Alfred had heard snatches of the whistling and had tried to follow it. When it stopped Alfred too found himself at the secret door. Going back to the camp, he tried to recreate the tune, but found it didn’t stick in his mind.
So the next day, the party went through the secret door. Pushing on the stones rolled them back, and a wade through foot-deep water brought them into another network of sewers. However, the fish that keep the Waterdeep Sewers clean did not seem to live here, however, these sewers also seemed to not have a lot of new effluent and the smell was musty and rank, the water was waist deep, and there were few catwalks.
Gnf rode on Allyson’s shoulders and the party pressed on, relying more and more on Calfalas’ and Gnf’s arcane guidance. Some sort of enchantment seemed to be affecting them, and would turn them around or disorient them at the slightest lapse in concentration. So they formed themselves into groups and watched each other closely while trying to progress through the sewers. As they traveled, the quality of light seemed to get greyer and greyer, and the very walls seemed to fade away. However, the sheer effort of concentration required to stay on course meant that this was little noted.
Eventually, they found themselves in what they decided was an interplanar space, similar to the one they had been in quite briefly when returning from Abeir. And like that time before, they were attacked by Chaos Shards. Unlike the last time, the shards were right among them, and gave them another tough fight. The most troublesome part of the fight was when the Storm Shards would drop a ball of lighting on someone which would require them to run away from it quickly or get caught in an explosion, while the Death Shards would inflict the same person with slowness. Eventually, Gnf managed to slow down the Storm Shards (which exploded doing further damage when they died) with his Web and Thunder Wave, Allyson and Max meleed the Death Shards, Alfred and Lyra healed the group, and Aprilane dealt damage wherever it was needed. There was a tense moment when Max went down with a thunderball on top of him, but Lyra both healed Max and cast an enchantment that enabled Max to slide away from the thunderball while still prone.
Looking around, the party realized that it could see nothing but grayish white. While they felt something solid beneath their feet, they could see nothing there, but mostly avoided looking. The arcane compass still was working, so they continued.
It is difficult to say how long this part of the journey lasted. It might have been hours, it might have been days. Continuing in the direction of travel required a supreme effort of will, and concentration at every step.
Eventually they saw some sort of obelisks or monuments ahead. There were six of them arranged in a circle or hexagon, about 100 yards across. There appeared to be some design on the inside faces of them. At a glance the stones seemed to be made of the same stuff as everything else in this place, grayish material almost indistinguishable. However, as one looked at the stone, the bas-relief carvings on the inside seemed to gain more and more detail. Only then to look like plain, gray stone bas-relief at the next moment.
There were six different figures on each of the pillars: A dragon with bones, looking bored; An orc with some hides/furs and a long stick or staff; An Eladrin with an easel, paintbrushes, and bound, blank books; a Lizardman with a collection of herbs and (how could something gray appear brightly colored?) brightly-colored flowers; A Gnome with a worktable on which there was an assortment of unfinished tools of some sort; and a Dwarf in an outdoor, snow-laden scene, with several bars of metal at his feet.
The party decided that this place had something to do with trade and travel, and it was the place that their arcane calculations had meant to bring them too, some sort of locus for an interplanar matrix. Lyra communed with the spirits of the place and found there to be but one spirit here, and it was muted and somehow odd.
All the scenes had the quality that concentrating on them made them seem more real. Looking at the Dwarf, the iron bars seemed so real that Gnf reached out for them and found that he had iron bars in his hand. Thinking quickly, he decided to take them to the Gnome, whose picture now showed some completed tools on his workbench. In turn, Lyra took the bones from the Dragon to the Orc, who made spear tips and jewelry from them; Aprilane took the furs from the Orc to the Dwarf, Alfred took the dyes from the Lizardman to the Eladrin, and Max took the works of art created from them by the Eladrin to the Dragon. Allyson completed the journeys by taking the tools from the Gnome’s worktable to the Lizardman, where they were used to cultivate and harvest the plants.
Each person saw the journey of 100 or so yards as an arduous undertaking, requiring hours (or was it days). Gnf had to sit down and rest several times (or was it once?). To the others watching it was a simple walk, though one that seemed to weigh heavily on the bearer.
As each journey completed and the picture changed, music was heard, or perhaps only felt. The sound of fluting and pipes from the Gnome was joined by Orcish drumming, a beautiful countermelody by some stringed instrument came from the Eladrin, chanting/singing from the Dwarf, a deep chuckling winded sound like a digeridoo from the Lizardmen, and the sound of trumpets from the Dragon each added to the song, which Alfred recognized from an earlier whistled tune.
As the last journey was completed, the knowledge that this was Chaundakil’s tune came upon them, or was it remembered? In the center of the circle appeared a hearth, a table with food, and a cistern with clear water, along with some cozy chairs. Seven chairs there were and a pair of boots before each, Boots of Chaundakil. Lyra let forth some oath or exclamation (it’s always difficult to tell the difference with Lyra) at the thought that the spirit with which she had been communing was that of a god, for God Chaundakil is indeed.
Before them appeared a man, Chaundakil, not completely dissimilar from what Max had seen, but with neatly trimmed gray hair and a welcoming smile, bidding them to sit down, even as the sky above them showed blue with a few clouds. But just as they relaxed into the chairs and felt deeply refreshed, demonic hands seemed to grab him, bind him in chains and pull him away, even as other demons appeared and attacked
[To Be Continued Next Adventure]