The Adventures of Asjhic R'wati Maratha

Part 2 - Into the Ruins

Raquas 22nd, 1506TH

I am wandering around in Haven all by myself. Vor seems to have disappeared – I hope he was not possessed by some horrible beast, lured into the ruins and eaten alive, or something equally unappealing…. Being penniless and alone never bothered me, but I cannot sit idly with so much adventure just a tail's wag away! This is even worse than with those boring elves!

Raquas 24th, 1506TH

Still no sign of Vor. I have re-read my previous entry and I'm worried that the worst had actually happened. I have met several interesting characters in this ramshackle town, but nobody had seen that troublemaking dwarf. Oh, about those characters – a very nice windling by the Name of Shakiram invited me to a drink today, and I have met some of his friends, too – two human magicians of great skill and knowledge, Polwex and Elgar. Though they are usually a stuffed and supercilious bunch, these three were actually quite amiable and talkative, not to mention that they bought me some drinks. It seems that they are planning to make a trip into the ruins in a few days time, after their friends finish their training to the next Circle, to find a lost treasure. I think I'll be joining them, with Vor or without him.

Raquas 27th, 1506TH

I have met Ilfarian's sister today, by sheer chance… I would never call it luck. The poor thing collapsed into tears when she heard her brother's fate. Even my tales of his valor could not sweeten the bitter taste of loss, and my tail hung once again in sorrow as I presented her with his inheritance – the sword and the pouch. She took them sobbing as I hugged her, speechless. We drank to his memory that night, until Kilgar fell asleep on the table and we softly put her in her bed, praying before our sleep for her brother's spirit.

Raquas 29th, 1506TH

Shakiram's friend, a loudmouthed windling beastmaster Named Kar Dukilah Lohay (I tell you, if my tongue were not already cloven, it would have split in two from uttering his Name!) finally joined us today, and we are now ready to venture beyond the walls into the wondrous city of Parlainth. Even Vor appeared at the nick of time, a few minutes before our departure, wearing wealthy clothes, brandishing a pair of sleek daggers and looking generally smug. I wonder where he got all these things? Was he into the ruins already?

Someone called Archafia, I think, a fine orkish dame, waited for us near the gate… I vaguely remember her asking me to join an association of something, of namegivers that help out one another for a share of the others' profits. A shame, though, the membership costs five silver and I, alas, was broke… Kilgar's heart is surely as wide as her brother's, for she immediately paid the needed fee on my behalf and Alfalflia told us of some of the dangers that lurk behind the gate. She wished us the best of luck, and we approached the entrance. A pair of trolls opened the heavy gates into Parlainth before us, assuring us that they would defend us, should trouble chase us into Haven on our way back. We marched onward, weapons ready, on the road to adventure and excitement…

It was a sunny day, and we almost felt safe among the ruins, when not halfway down the battered lane the dangerous part of the ruins reared its ugly head. From between the pavement blocks, rusty steel spikes plunged into my flesh. Now, I have nothing against a man wielding a blade, but a blade trap is something entirely dishonorable and wicked! Luckily, nobody else was hurt by them, and we smashed them as they were about to retract, bending them out of shape lest we be cut by them again. Some time later, as we were carefully avoiding the slits in the pavement, one of the blocks collapsed under my feet! Kilgar, Shakiram and Kar tried to grab me, but they could not hold and I plunged six yards into the pit below. Guttural noises surrounded me, and as my eyes got used to the darkness, I saw a rope dangling in front of me and two groups of ugly, tormented things that were probably once namegivers, but now bore only a shadow of resemblance to their living selves, advancing one upon the other, with me in the midst! I jumped for the rope, and my companions pulled me swiftly out of the fray, even as one of the wretched beings tried to grab my tail… but was convinced by a kick to the head to let it go. As if my most valuable possession would ever fall prey to such vile things – hah!

Proceeding cautiously, we advanced towards the center of the city, when suddenly Polwex saw something in the air above us and raised an alarm. Kilgar jumped aside as something struck the pavement below her with a frightening sshhhoooorrrrr!!!! sound, and I tried to out-maneuver the incoming attack, but suddenly felt sharp pain in my right shoulder. Cries of pain were heard from others in the group as well, as invisible winged darts struck them. To my amazement, my "dart" tried to flap its wings and fly away, no doubt for another round at my companions and me. I struck him with my trusty sword, almost shearing his wing off and wounding it badly. As it tried to flutter away, Kilgar smote it to the ground, where it lay dead. It looked like a giant crystal spike with wings and a pair of bulbous eyes in its rear end. But we barely had the time to look at it, as they attacked us again, coming from the direction of the blazing sun in a blinding speed. We missed some, but some were too slow, and were caught in Vor's net, or withered in Elgar's grasp, or perished on the edge of my and Kilgar's swords, or struck by Shakiram's elemental powers. I saw Polwex gesture twice, and one of the beasts fell lifeless to the ground. Kar valiantly drew their attacks to himself, and as the things were no match for his dexterous wings, the first fell to our waiting hands and the last were shredded to bits by Kar's claws. We have slain at least seven of the flyers, by my reckoning, and they bothered us no longer. Weary, we made camp, for their sharp spikes took a heavy toll on us, healed some of our wounds using Shakiram's beneficial magic, and moved onward, much more wary of our surroundings than before.

As we approached the center of the city, we remembered Archiparchi's words of warning about not coming near the fountain in the center, and not listening to it. If only it were that simple! The atrocity dubbed "fountain" I shall not describe in more than few words – it was a pyramid covered by an endless flow of blood, topped by twisted statues, which made my mind echo and throb with shrieks of unearthly pain, as if a thousand souls were forever bleeding their suffering beneath it. We screamed, we ran, some of us even fainted from the excruciating sound, as we stumbled blindly more than three hundred yards into the lane Named after the Theran poet Chavro _____, where our treasure lay – and where we lay, gasping for a breath of life like we were just saved from drowning in the sea of sorrows. As a chai'da, I remember nearly drowning once – oh, let me drown a hundred times in Raggok's vomit than bear this feeling for a second longer!

As we recovered our senses and revived our unconscious companions, a curious creature came out of a hole in the wall. It resembled a large lizard, even a crocodile maybe, with bulbous eyes and a slimy skin. Kar charged it, screaming curses of death to an abomination of nature. Its skin crackled once, suddenly, and Kar sprang from the jolt, as did both Elgar and I when we touched it with bare hand and blade. Kar resumed his ferocious attacks, and the thing just gazed at the crazy windling, blinked once, and fried him with a bolt of lightning. He fell to the ground, barely breathing, and we resumed our attacks on the murderous beast. I nearly squashed it with a thrown rock when it focused its eyes on me, and zap! I lost consciousness.

When I awoke, Polwex was feeding me a potion of recovery boosting. I sprang to my feet, looking for the foe, but it already lay vanquished, dismembered and disemboweled on the city floor. Kilgar was somewhere down the lane, climbing the northern wall that bordered the road. Apparently, the treasure was under thesixth statue on the right, on this very lane. As we went there to help her, she suddenly hit one of the many traps scattered about the city, and almost fell to the ground, but held the rope fast. Approaching her, we found out that there were several robed men behind the wall, who began shooting arrows at Kar and Shakiram when they tried to fly over it. They called themselves The Unforgivables, and displayed an attitude totally unbecoming any decent Namegiver. Things quickly came to heavy bickering and less-heavy attacks from each side of the wall, mostly by Kar and Shakiram, but also helped by Kilgar's (quite silly, I have to say) remarks.This entire affair did not interest me a single bit, and since Shakiram suddenly voiced his belief that this is not the statue we're looking for, because its remains did not look like the remains of a woman's legs, I moved on with him and with Vor to search the next statue (More like a pedestal – no statue in the entire place was left intact during the Scourge) in line. Meanwhile, Elgar was searching the other side of the wall beneath the sixth statue under the protection of magical darkness, when we saw a company of men behind the wall racing in the direction of the rest of the group. We quickly regrouped and decided that we will attempt to find the sixth statue on this lane from the corner of the city, rather than from the center, hoping that our guess will be right, and that whoever gave Shakiram the information about the treasure will live to see the next morning. We renewed our march towards the northwest. The sun was high in the heavens, but it had already begun its slow descent upon the path we trode…

Several hundred yards up the lane we came upon three Namegivers – two fierce-looking trolls and an ork in white robes – who were apparently seeking for hidden treasure in the stones of the wall on our right. I must say that they were quite unfriendly, and urged us to move onward – as if we needed to be reminded of that. Hah! Soon we have reached the end of the lane, where the thick foliage of the surrounding jungle reigned. Kar flew into the mass of vegetation, only to come back and reassure our belief that the gates are near, and that we should start heading back, counting the statues on our right, as we promptly did. Reaching what we believed to be the sixth statue, we saw that the trio we have previously met were actually seeking quite nearby. I heard the curses of the ork as he directed his comrades to various blocks in the opposite wall and the grunts of the trolls, straining either to crush or to pull out the large chunks of stone which their leader had directed them to. We, however, ignored them and started searching beneath the remains of the statue. Soon enough, Vor heard a hollow sound coming from one of the stones when he knocked at it, and after tremendous efforts we managed to pull it but an inch out of the wall. It seemed like we would toil here until nightfall, but a well-placed spell from Shakiram glazed the stone's surface with ice, and it slid out of the wall with ease, luckily missing Polwex's foot by inches. Vor secured himself with a rope and crawled into the opening, which looked like the beginning of a tunnel, but we suddenly had other business to attend to – the trio approached us. The ork, whose Name was Trok the Unwrong (a silly one, I must say, because he forthwith turned out to be quite wrong), arrogantly demanded the yet-unfound treasure on the grounds that "he was here first." After a few tugs on Vor's rope and some light blows Kar had exchanged with one of the trolls, things had gotten quite tense. Nevertheless, when we heard that the bigger troll, the one Named Thelgar, was a member of the same adventurer association as Kilgar and I, we decided to draft a contract hastily, giving him a quarter of our findings in return for a refund of a quarter our expenses. At least, that's what Kilgar said and Polwex started to write. It all seemed very silly to me – after all, they were dividing the fish before they caught them, and even an Ishkaratian chai'da knows better than do this nonsense! Shakiram went inside to check up on Vor's progress, and while we were waiting for Polwex to finish the writing stuff, the three dolts charged the five of us all of a sudden with blazing swords and crafty spells! Kar dove from above screaming, clawing deep into Thelgar's back, but Trok only raised his arm ever-so-slightly and Kar dropped to the ground, barely breathing. The smaller troll, Gresha, charged into Kilgar with a bone-shattering blow that knocked her back twenty feet. My tongue had proved to be a worthy asset for me then, for my words made the hands of the trolls shake and their feet falter as I commenced an elaborate dance that steered them away from my comrades. Both of them were at me, and I was nigh slain by the devious enchantments placed on their swords, but I gracefully dodged their blows as their swords sent sparks flying as they hit the pavement, not harming a single scale on my back. Luckily, their roaring could be heard inside the tunnel (and maybe a mile away, too! These trolls fight quite savagely, yet fiercely), because Shakiram came fluttering out of the tunnel to finish off the ork wizard, flinging at him a pair of magical balls of wood. Polwex sent Thelgar to rest for a while with a spell of his own, and between me and the awful burn he took from Elgar's touch, Gresha decided to surrender himself to my mercy. I took his word of honor as a troll that he would not harm us in any way, and we started tending to our wounded, when we saw Vor coming out of the tunnel with a big obsidiman by his side. Suddenly, Vor just froze in place. It seemed as though he was unable to move, nay, even breathe! The same happened to Kar when he went to speak to the strange rock-man, and we quickly figured out that we're dealing with some kind of an otherworldly creature, perhaps even a horror-made one. The rest started attacking him, but to no avail. Hoping to save my friends and comrades, I have summoned up the last of my strength and charged the creature with a hearty battle yell, but just as I was finishing my move, a stony hand smashed into my face, and with it came the long darkness.

Raquas 30th, 1506TH

My forced "sleep" had been troubled by terrible dreams of agony and despair, and I have not born it too well, but it seems that I was not knocked out for long. My friends had slain the foul thing and carried me back to Haven. It turned out that the treasure was hidden in the stone block itself, which was hollow – it was some hundred and seventy Theran gold, a scroll written in an unknown language, and a small blue statue of a dragon. Apparently, on the way back darkness fell, and some of the money went to a group of cadaver men to guarantee us "safe passage" through their domain back to Haven. We even managed to get Trok, Thelgar and Gresha out of the ruins alive. All in all, I feel much better now that I'm back in a good bath, but I feel the will to go inside the Lost City building up again within me. It must be the proximity… or all of the exciting things that we have seen there, or those we haven't seen yet! I think I'll take a look at the figurine, though. It reminds me of a toy I used to have a few years ago. It wasn't worth about ten silver, and the touch of it is that of real water… when I caressed it, it gave me a nice feeling of slippery wetness that never ends, and I miss it sorely in this arid mountain region. I think I'll keep it as a good luck charm for myself and my group.