Sorry this took so long...
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11:00 – 11:05 – By the time Varracuda, Grigori and Seren have reached the others, the captured rogue has soiled himself twice over and is begging for his life. His name is Robert (or Bob as the group insist on calling him), and he is convinced that the party are agents of the “Gutter Kings” - apparently a guild of wererats that are engaged in a shadowy war with the Rookery. Between begging the group not to kill him or bite him, he sings like a canary, telling the group all he knows about the guild and those currently in house.
He tells them that Corvus is currently “away” having gone into hiding when they heard about the madmen looking for him in the Kicked Dog. He informs them that several of the guild's captains remain behind, including one Ugillor – leader of the Gorashym mercenaries Corvus hired – who waits in the next chamber along with a cadre of his troops. He also tells them that Corvus and his closest allies are not human, but “bird people” - though from the description Jaeger and Grigori think they may be a species of humanoid known as Kenku; a race originally from the distant lands of Kai'Yassan.
Bob tells the group that he will help them if they promise not to infect him with “the vermin's way” and to prove his new found loyalty, disables a sleep gas trap on the door ahead.
Emmiven is keen to decapitate the rogue, as is Shnecke, but the rest of the party feel he has been cowed enough and is pragmatic enough to help them – at least until he sees an opportunity to get away – and appreciate how useful his crossbow, blade and insider knowledge of the Rookery lair could be to them.
The group ask Bob if there is any kind of code used to get the door to the next chamber (which is apparently wedged shut by Corvus' throne) opened without the monsters beyond growing suspicious. He tells them there was a knock, but that the only one who knew it was the illusionist. Seren – now more mutated than ever, her skin pale and flaking, scales clearly showing beneath, the horn buds above her eyes now erupting into full blown, back swept horns, her overall height now almost 7' – calmly informs the human that she will feast on his entrails whilst he lives if he has lied, her new sharp teeth and fearsome, lean bulk adding horrific credence to her words, and after he has stopped hyperventilating and making warding gestures, he reiterates his previous statement and pleads to be believed.
11:06 – 11:10 – So, aware that the chamber beyond is filled with deadly monsters, the group try to form a plan. They decide to only open the door enough so that it will give cover, and to force the monsters to fight them one at a time in the door.
They shove the door open with a warbling wail of metal and wood on stone...
...The plan lasts less than 6 seconds once the battle begins.
At once the bass roars of the Gorashym beyond fill the air. Varracuda steps out into the chamber and takes a quick headcount, feeling his stomach curl with horror.
The first thing he notices is a monster that can only be Ugillor; a squat giant of a gorgryn, with black fur, a wide tusked mouth, and red, luminous eyes. He is clad in thick black plate, and wields a huge club that is carved with throbbing primal runes and enhanced with the jawbones of great cats. Closer stands a gorashym dressed in battered and dented plate, who wields a massive maul; eager drool sliding in a long rope from his thick-lipped mouth. Other gorashym stand around the room, several lurking near the back, whilst others stand behind the four tall stacks of crates – strangely out of place in this chamber – that break up the open floor.
Before he can take in any more details however, the maul wielding monster has charged. Varaacuda raises his blade, but the brute ignores him, and instead, with a grunt and the sickening squeal of ripping metal, it tears the door to the parties room clean off its hinges, throwing the massive lump into the far corner with little effort.
With the foundation of their plan gone, the group have to adapt - fast.
The battle swings wildly. At first Schnecke, Varracuda, Emmiven and Bob all pile in, hoping to form a defensive formation around the door. They mercilessly attack the maul wielding monster, ripping through the heavy hides it wears and drawing blood with their attacks. However, Ugillor piles in, and with a savage flurry of swings, he smashes all but Varracuda off their their feet and shoves them, sprawling back. The air seethes with power as Seren unleashes a potent incantation at the gorashym leader, but he dodges it with a sneer. Grigori unleashes luminous bursts of radiant power which simultaneously burn and hamper their foes and bolster his allies, whilst the shadowy form of Jaeger shifts from position to position, striking at the monsters through barriers that defeat all other attacks, and dealing lasting, fatal wounds.
Varracuda is seemingly impervious to damage for much of the fight, his armour and dexterity mitigating most of the horror flying at him. However, as the battle – a brutal skirmish between the leaning piles of crates – unfolds, his luck begins to wane, and he soon bleeds from numerous crush injuries.
Ugillor proves remarkably easy to take down, his physical presence no match for his perceived reputation, and soon the group are clearly gaining the upper hand. Schnecke possibly has the worst of it, as the maul wielding gorashym almost caves his skull in with a catastrophic blow whilst he lies dazed and prone – a moment before that same monster is taken apart by the party – though the Ulnyrr is soon healed and rejuvenated by the cleric's powerful healing prayers.
Two rookery rogues who were also in the chamber try to skirt the edge of the battle, moving in to strike at the group when they are engaged with the hulking gorashym. However, they are stalked by Jaeger as well as the sorceress, and soon they are fighting for their lives, each looking hopefully towards the only safe exit from the chamber - a door in the wall opposite the one the group came through.
And then that very door opens, bringing hope to those Rookery that are not bleeding out on the floor, and anxiety to the group. At first only darkness looms beyond the doorway, a slight breeze scented with cabbage and sewers wafting through. Then a human skull with extended eye-teeth and swirling milky eyes floats into the frame, propelled forth by a huge serpentine body – the skeletal body of some gigantic snake. It flows with a hypnotic, languid dance, the individual ribs of its long body seeming to flicker and pulse as it moves. It slides into the chamber with a whisper of bones, its front third raised off the ground, and begins to sway from side to side, the hypnotic effects of its movements causing almost everyone in the chamber to stop fighting briefly and to stand dumbstruck at it. Emmiven and Schnecke however are not affected by this, and can only scream with horror as they see the rest of the group – as well as several of the Rookery – become dazed and distracted by this thing (a monster later identified as a Necrophidius).
Others things enter the room. Hooded and cloaked, they are thought at first to be more men and women of the guild. However, as they near, short, stabbing blades raised, it is clear that these are neither human or gorgryn, but birds that walk and fight like humans. Bright black eyes shine behind short, straight beaks, their plumage black, though iridescent with purples and greens where they catch the light.
Whether by cruel fate or simple bad luck one of the new arrivals is almost immediately enspelled by the writhing of the necrophidius, and like the rest of its victims, it can only take distracted, halting actions. Another flits like a shadow into the room, and quickly vanishes amongst the shadows, whilst another moves to attack those dazed by the constructs eerie dance.
For those still free to act, the necrophidius is the primary target. Bones splinter and chip as it is attacked, and after only a very short while, it breaks apart in a flurry of sparks and bones shards. At once everyone held in its thrall shakes free, and carnage ensues.
Filled with a new desire to destroy their tormentors, the party attack with a renewed ferocity. The Kenku (of which there are now three; two warriors and the elusive sneak), are not the most skilled combatants. One of the warriors is quickly brought down, its hollow bones almost turning to paste under the savage blows it receives. The sneak manages to score a deadly blow against Emmiven, driving a slender dagger, shaped like a wing, into his throat. Gore splatters from the strike, but the warlord is merely annoyed. Exposed by his attack, the sneak realises that he is vulnerable, and casting his cold, black eyes over the cadavers bleeding out across the charnel house that was once Corvus' throne room, it comes to a quick decision...
One kenku warrior remains. It puts up a brave defence, its short blade flashing back and forth as it desperately tries to deflect the incoming attacks of the party. Grigori yells at it that it will be spared if it joins with them, but it is smashed to the floor by Emmiven a moment later, its bones popping as it falls, a piercing, bird cry of panic, like that of a startled black bird, filling the air.
“You've fucked with the wrong people Kingers!” it croaks in a scratchy, parrot voice.
“No, we've fucked with the dead people” replies Emmiven as Varracuda glides in towards the prone Kenku, and ends its life with a burst of lambent swordplay.
11:11 – 11:18 – The party quickly search the chamber, though the only thing of value they find is Ugillor's enchanted greatclub. Schnecke suggests searching Bob's mouth for golden teeth – but the group have grown to appreciate his prowess in battle, and he is spared.
Jaeger asks Bob about what lies beyond this chamber. He tells him that a wide corridor leads from here and to the main hall – a huge room that serves as the sleeping area, eating area and social area for the guild. Bob tells them that several side chambers leading from it serve various functions, but that it will likely be the main area of resistance in the guild. In short, the group have another tough battle ahead of them.
Bob also tells the group that next to the hall are the captains private chambers, and that somewhere in the locale is Corvus' hidden vault. He also mentions that there are prisons somewhere in the guild, though he is not aware of the exact location.
When asked about the guild's quota of troops, Bob states that he is unable to guess about the standard minions, as faces come and go constantly. With regards to captains, he states that to his knowledge there are only two left; Crav'Awk, a kenku of high standing with Corvus and the dundorin murderer Meerzek the “Scar Mask”.
11:19 – 11:22 – The group move along the corridor beyond the chamber, and spot a flight of steps. At the top of it a heavy door stands half open, and from beyond it, the gravelly voice of a dundorin rings out.
“Come on then ye pussy bastards. Come and find out what happens to rats that get ideas above their station”.
“Stunties!” shrieks Emmiven with obvious glee.
The group move towards the stairs.