The melancholic song echoed through the cave. Welf managed to pinpoint it as coming from the west. “Let’s go!” he said as he took point. Whip walked behind him and Arconio acted as a rear guard. They weren’t expecting any more lizards, but felt that it was better to be safe than sorry. After a while they found themselves on the shores of what seemed to be a huge, underground lake. “What’s that?” Whip asked and pointed towards the dark water. Just beneath the surface they saw something moving. Whip gasped as he realized it was a pale, naked human. “I’m not going in the water!” he stated.
They looked up and saw a tall cliff, about two meters from the shore. It looked like it was made out of a black crystal. Since none of them were very keen on wading across they decided to jump. Whip jumped first and managed to cling to the rock. So did Arconio. As they landed they felt a weird tingling sensation and a wave of corruption washed over Whip. Arconio managed to resist it. Whip didn’t get a chance to warn Welf before he attempted to make the jump, but did so just as the burly barbarian took to the air. Welf was so surprised he stopped in mid-air and fell into the water. The naked human almost touched him as it swam by, but Welf quickly scrambled up the cliff side to avoid contact.
When they reached the top of the cliff they found it abandoned save for a very old barbarian lady. “You must leave immediately!” the old woman croaked, “This place is not for the living!”. They explained that they meant no harm and asked her what she was doing there. Turned out that she had decided to stay behind when the rest of her clan left the tunnels where they had been living for almost two decades. “What clan would that be?” inquired Welf. “The Jezora,” she replied. The Jezora clan had been living just south of Davokar, when the Ambrians had arrived. Their chieftain Haloban refused to bow his head to the newcomers, a crime he had later been executed for. Queen Korinthia’s army showed no mercy on his clansmen and –women. There was a rumor that the chieftain’s daughter had saved some of their people, but most believed the clan has been wiped out entirely. Could it be that the remains of the Jezora clan had been living underneath Thistle Hold all this time?
The heroes promised the old crone that they would never return to the tunnels again and that they would warn others against doing so. “Tell them the tunnels are empty and utterly corrupted,” she suggested.
When they had climbed out of the sink hole, they again looked at the things they had found below. Since Anadea had a sun symbol and another reference to Prios, they figured their next step would be to visit the Sun Temple. The Prior, Father Elfeno agreed to see them. He could tell them Anadea had indeed been a novice at the temple but that she had left about a month ago. Before he could tell them anything else, he and the group were call up to the dome of the temple. As soon as he had brought them up there, he was dismissed by the old lady that emerged from behind a sun colored screen. It was very apparent that he didn’t like being brushed aside, not one bit. The old woman, who introduced herself and Deseba, listened to their tale. “You may access Anadea’s chambers,” she said, “but first I need a favor from you”.
Here follows the sad tale of Arconio’s Last Stand that can also be found on his character profile:
Arconio, Whip and Welf had been tasked by the old Lightbringer Deseba to put an end to the harassments Father Sarvola had suffered since being declared a heretic by the First Father. Arconio shared most of Sarvola’s views so it wasn’t hard for him to accept the task.
After failing to avert an attack on Father Sarvola’s Missionary Station, they managed to get a lead on a cellar where the attackers usually gathered. The front door of the building was bolted shut, but they found a back door. The first thing that met them as they broke through the door and entered the cellar was a very skilled warrior. Problem for him was that Arconio and Welf were even more skilled. When the warrior was dealt with, they investigated the room. They found a very large dining table and chairs with monogrammed seats. After discovering several journals outlining a group of noble warriors who fought in The Great War, they put two and two together and figured out that the leader behind the attacks was a Kargoi of Salamos.
Through Deseba the group got an address to where Kargoi had his residence. She could also identify the other persons behind the monograms. Two of them, Serex of Attio and Roia of Garlaka, apparently lived next door to Kargoi. Arconio and his companions went to scout the place out. Kargoi’s home was only guarded by a Jakaar roaming freely in the small garden surrounding the house. “Piece of cake,” the group thought. They planned on returning at night, pinning the Jaakar with Grasping Vines and going in through the patio door before it could warn its master.
After a well-deserved rest at Welf’s place, they returned to the street where Kargoi, Serex and Roia lived. It very quickly became clear that the trio expected something to go down. Two sentries were stationed outside each house and another two sentries patrolled the area together with two Jakaars. Since most of the guards were up front there was a small window of opportunity when the patrol was the farthest away from Kargoi’s house. Arconio, Whip and Welf timed their run well and managed to jump the fence, dash across to the patio and break open the door before the patrol arrived. The damage to the door was barely noticeable, so they figured no one would notice.
Sneaking through the dark rooms was a challenge but they managed to make it to the third room without making a sound. Arconio listened by the door and heard someone moving on the other side of the door. Very, very quietly they agree on having Whip push the door open, while the other two quickly ran through it and silenced whoever was on the other side. Execution was perfect, although it didn’t help much since Kargoi of Salamos was waiting for them, donned in full battle armor. “Contact!” the scarred veteran yelled! “They’re in my house!”
Arconio and Welf could attack once each before the guards posted outside burst open the door and joined Kargoi. Whip joined his comrades, making it a three against three fight. It wouldn’t be that ratio for very long. Roia, Serex and the remaining six guards, two of them with Jakaars, had hear Kargoi’s battle cry. Fortunately for our heroes, they were positioned in such a way that only three people or creatures could attack at the same time. Kargoi fell pretty quickly and two of the guards. Other enemies took their place. Welf took a couple of heavy hits, but Whip managed to heal him. One Jakaar fell and more of the guards did too. When Serex managed to squeeze through, seven guards and one Jakaar lay dead on the porch. The large veteran, wielding an even larger two-handed sword, was the one to turn the tide in the enemy’s favor.
Arconio survived the first hit and managed to side-step the second one. But the third time Serex swung his sword, Arconio somehow managed to trip himself up, opening himself up to a second attack. The original attack was manageable but the backswing pretty much circumvented Arconio’s shield and landed solidly on a weakened part of his armor. Arconio was dead before he hit the floor. May Prios’ light shine on him eternally!
And back to the story about the remaining members of the little, motley crew:
Arconio’s death triggered Welf’s fight or flight reflex. With Serex’ heavy two-hander still in the air, flight seemed like the best choice. Three blows later he lay unconscious on the floor, bleeding.
When first Arconio and then Welf fell, Whip realized he would be next unless he did something radical. So he dropped his sword and surrendered. “Who are you working for?” Serex asked as he and the remaining guard seized the warden. “We acted on our own,” Whip lied. “We were at the Missionary Station when your henchmen attacked and it severely angered Arconio. He shared Father Sarvola’s views on the church and on Prios”. Whip was a very poor liar, but for some reason Serex believed him. “Detain him in your cellar,” he barked at Roia. Now that Kargoi was dead, he was in command. Roia and the guards dragged Whip towards her house.
Serex kneeled at his fallen comrade and sent a prayer to Prios. Then he stood up and walked away. He must have thought Welf was dead. And he nearly was. He knocked on heaven’s gate not once, but twice, before he could muster an almost godly strength and bring himself back to life. His Recovery ability helped him regain even more of his life force. He very quickly snuck out of the house, just as Roia and her prisoner reached her house. “I can’t fight them in this weakened state,” he thought. “I must come back for him later and with friends”.