The Shadow Plane
The 16th day of Lamashan, 4713 AR – nearing midnight
“This way, noble friends. This way.”
The thief known as Elandriu takes the lead as you march to the far end of the prison corridor. There a small side door is found, recessed into the wall. You use the cell key to unlock it, and step on into the dark, dusty corridor that lays beyond. It is close and cramped and the air within is thick with the span of ages. You get the impression that no one has trod this way in many long years.
“How do you know there is a way out here?” Akorian asks.
“Vheed and his cronies spoke of it once in my presence,” the elf replies. “It was years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. He called it an emergency exit, and a place to run if his enemies ever caught up with him. The two men laughed, and then left me to hang like a piece of meat for the loving caress of his favored torturer. Now here, this way.”
The corridor splits into a four-way intersection up ahead. You turn left, and pass through yet another dusty room; this place is a well-appointed torture chamber, complete with a rack, iron maiden, and several tables cluttered with various torture devices. All of it is thick with dust, and apparently untouched for a very long time. Elandriu passes through the room quickly, and leaves via the archway at the far end. Then you descend a long flight of steps, and pass many other intersecting hallways. All around you is dust and abandonment, almost as if no one has been here in a thousand years or more.
“Here. This is where we need to go.”
Before you stands a broad archway craved with mysterious sigils. Many of them bear Asmodean monographs. Like the other parts of the labyrinth, this section of the tunnels is lit by a strange glow that does not seem to emanate from any one location. You continue on, and pass through the archway. The corridor ahead seems to pinch out ahead, and is soon barely 5’ across.
“We must be silent,” Elandriu whispers. “The Greychurch is ahead of us, and the White Monks may well be attending to their duties.
Any whispered queries to this statement are met with a stern look from the crazed elf. You continue on, but draw steel just in case. Soon a brighter glow is seen ahead of you, and another archway is seen to open out onto a much larger chamber.
Isandra moves forward to take the lead, and draws her sword. You hear a tiny intake of breath as she moves to the edge of the archway and peers out; before you stands a broad, high-ceilinged cathedral dedicated to the Black Prince himself. You see dust-choked pews, a distant lectern, and graven pentagrams, all reproduced in exacting detail. All is hewn from an odd gray stone, not granite, not marble – when touched it has a strange waxy feeling to it, as if it were somehow unclean. Braziers lit by burning coals provide the only light and color to the scene. Broad columns serve to hold up the domed ceiling – across the nave you can see a number of cowled monks moving about, performing the various Rites of the Unclean. They pause as you appear in the open archway, and turn to peer at you with gleaming red eyes.
“Yes, well. They appear to want to talk to you. I’ll be here if you need me.” Elandriu gulps audibly and ducks into a decorated alcove as the nearest of the “acolytes” draws back her hood, and gives forth an inhuman shriek.
You see her flesh is leathery and dry, almost desiccated, whilst her inhumanly long tongue lashes out and about, as if testing the air for any sign of her prey. Her fellow monks also draw back their hoods, and then lope towards you on all fours, snarling and spitting.
“Ghouls.” Omari gestures to ward off evil and then readies his sword. “I should have known.”
Igmar murmurs prayers to the Dawnflower, and Akorian casts various protective magics. The rest of you wade in, eager to parry and slay. Isandra is the first to engage two of the creatures; her blades dances and slashes, and severed limbs skid across the floor. A severed head snarls and snaps at her, so she finishes it off with a quick lunge. Then Omari is amongst the throng, cutting and slicing. More black ichor spurts wide, and more of the creatures are felled. Evelyn launches one of her rockets at an approaching ghoul, and it is blasted to pieces in a roar of smoke and sound. Many of those same pieces continue to wriggle and twitch as if possessing a life all their own.
Sanaya turns invisible, and then sneaks around behind one of the demons menacing Omari. She cuts in quick, severing the beast’s spine, and it collapses. Shortly thereafter Isandra and Omari finish off the final two creatures, and an odd silence falls across the strange temple. If you listen carefully you can almost hear the sound of happy children singing in the distance, followed by a low, monotonous chanting.
“Well, you certainly made that look easy.” Elandriu smiles gaily and skips past the still-twitching carcasses scattered across the temple floor. “Now come along, you lot. We’re almost there.”
Sanaya and Akorian share a look; she shrugs, and he nods in agreement. They both keep their weapons close at hand as they once again follow the tattered little scarecrow ever deeper into the labyrinth.
“Elandriu.” Akorian turns to speak to Ealndru and places his hand on the hilt of his sword.
"If you heard about the passageway from two people talking, and you have been locked in that cell this entire time, how did you know how to get to this door specifically? How did you know who or what we would find inside? You walked us into an ambush with little to no warning.
“You are not being entirely honest with us, so I am done trusting you to lead us somewhere until we get some answers. I want the whole truth before we continue. Who are you? How do you know so much about these passages that you have supposedly never been in? Where is the priest for this church? What lies up ahead? Where are you taking us?”
Again, the elf gives off an odd little giggle. “I did warn you, Master. I told you of the White Monks. As far as what is next, I do not know for certain. The Red Pit is just up ahead, and is our ultimate destination. As far as what waits for us there exactly, I cannot say.”
When this is not enough for you, the elf continues. “I am a thief, as I told you before. I am not ashamed of this. Before my imprisonment, I was rather famous and well thought of in that field. As far as how I know these passages, the Red Suitor often took me here and there, sometimes for torture. Sometimes to have someone to talk to. I suppose even devils get lonely in the dark.”
He eyes the ceiling above for a moment, and twitches. “The way out of here lays through the Pit of Chains. I have seen it. The Red Suitor guards it, even now. If we go there, we will have to fight him. Well, you will. For I have no weapons.
“As far as the priest of Greychurch, there isn’t one. The undead acolytes were put there by Lord Vheed for reasons of his own. Elandriu knows nothing of the why of things.
Akorian then asks Elandriu to describe this “Red Suitor.” The elf replies that his primary tormentor was obviously not human, and possessed chalky white skin, depthless black eyes, and hideous, inhuman features. His body was covered in writhing iron chains that seemed to move with a life all their own. You recognize this description as matching that of a Kyton, or so-called Chain Devil – an evil outsider that delights in misery and torture.
Akorian eyes the elf for a moment longer, and then nods. “I think we need to find a way to ambush this creature,” he tells the others. He looks again to Elandriu and considers things for a moment. “How far away is the exit chamber? And are you certain this Red Suitor of yours will be found there?”
Elandriu replies that the he cannot be certain where the Red Suitor is at any given moment. However, he is usually found in the Pit of Chains. As to where the Pit is located, Elandriu tells you that it lays just ahead, down a long tunnel that slopes ever deeper into the ‘ground.’ At the end of this tunnel lays the Pit of Chains. The distance is perhaps 250’ from your current location.
You decide to move on, so Elandriu continues to lead the way, and off you go. The tunnel beyond the chapel is long and dark. You are therefore forced to summon witch-light to continue. The walls of this twisting circular tunnel are smooth polished gray stone that shimmers with moisture. It slopes steadily downward, forcing to you trot awkwardly as you proceed. A broad, circular archway appears at the end of the tunnel. You enter cautiously as before, and see a large chamber beyond.
Omari is about to enter when Sanaya places a hand on his shoulder. “Be cautious,” she whispers. The warrior nods and stalks carefully onward.
A circular pit takes up much of this room. Thirty feet above, dozens of strange shadowy stalactites descend from the ceiling, their lengths transforming after a few feet into iron chains that become a tangle of chains suspended over the center of the pit below. Many of these chains are long enough to descend into the depths of the pit – which terminates in a pool of glowing red mist. A palpable sense of anger and death seems to hang in the room like a shroud, and clings to your flesh with icy fingers.
Omari takes one more step into the room, and an icy voice is heard.
“It has been many years since I had visitors. Does Vheed still live? Or does the Pit have a new master?”
The voice is deep and sonorous, and echos far into the surrounding tunnels. Then a figure steps into the light, and the breath catches in your throat like a thing alive. It is tall, manlike, and as pale as death. His flesh is bone white, flaccid, and sickly looking. His eyes are black pits, and his mouth is filled with yellowed fangs. His body is swathed with chains of rusted iron; these chains coil and uncoil, seemingly of a mind all their own. Even as you watch the thing grins, and shows off more needle-like teeth.
Chain devil: you have seen his like before, just recently. But that example of the breed was female, and at least partly civilized. The creature before you seems almost feral.
“We mean you no harm,” Omari begins. He lowers his sword. “We have only come this way, seeking an exit—”
“Liar.” The devil raises a hand, and chains slither from his body, like metal snakes. Even as you watch tiny barbs appear at the edge of each chain, and then they lash out to tear Omari’s flesh like red-hot daggers.
“Attack!” Sanaya screams. She immediately dashes forward to help Omari. For her part Evelyn gulps down a potion of her own devising. Moments later she is scuttling up the side of the chamber walls, and seeking a better vantage to attack the devil.
For their part Omari and Isandra move in close to spar with the creature. It laughs at them, a hideous chortle, and then slashes both with his barbed chains. Soon both are slathered in fresh blood. Akorian summons a bit of magic, and sends a fountain of sparks cascading towards the creature; meanwhile, Igmar darts in around Isandra and Omari, and cuts at the chain devil as well. As the warriors hack away at the devil, however, they see his flesh begin to flow together, and knit itself back in place.
“We can’t beat him!” Igmar cries. “Not with the weapons we have.”
“What do you suggest?” Omari grunts. He screams as a barbed chain slashes him lightly across the cheek. Blood jets, and he falls back, stunned.
“This.” Igmar circles around the chain devil, and stabs him in the shin. More gore wells from the cut, and the wound begins to knit closed. Isandra stabs the creature in the shoulder, drawing its attention away for the moment. Igmar uses this as an opening, and rams one shoulder into the the small of the creature’s back. Now off-balance, the demon totters, and Igmar pushes with all his might. The creature totters once more, and then falls head-first into the pit of chains. Within seconds he has disappeared into the roiling red mist.
“Enough of this, thief. Tell us how to get out of this place.” Akorian fingers his sheathed rapier, and eyes the elf dangerously.
“Of course, My Lord. Of course.” Elandriu turns to the pit of chains, and reaches out to grasp one of the dangling lengths of rusty metal.
“Watch, my friends. And do exactly as I do.” Elandriu grasps the chain, and then swings out over the pit. He dangles for a bit, and peers down into the mist.
“The red mist is actually a portal back to the Prime Material Plane,” he calls out. Fall through it, and you will end up back in Korvosa. Or so the Red Suitor claimed.”
“Wait!” Sanaya called. “How do you know—”
But Elandriu does not wait to hear what she has to say. Instead he releases the chain, and falls with nary a whisper into the glowing mist far below. There is no sound as he disappears, and no proof of any sort that he survives the attempt.
“Do we go?” Isandra peers into the mist, and frowns.
“I’ll go first.” Igmar tries to reach one of the chains, but is too short. Soon Omari has helped him snag one, however, and he grasps it tightly. “We have little to lose otherwise. And I have no doubt that Sarenrae will protect me from harm, no matter what happens.”
With that said, the dwarf swings out over the pit, and says a brief but heartfelt prayer to the Dawnflower. Then he too releases the chain, and falls. The mist feels chill against his skin as he falls into it, and a quick flash of red light washes across his flesh. Moments later he feels his body slam ungently into rough cobblestones, and the sound of pealing church bells can be heard in the very near distance. He stands, brushing off his soiled trousers, and peers about. A tall, strangely grotesque building stands before him, crafted in the old Chelish style – soaring arches and columns, and decorated with leering gargoyles. After a moment he recognizes it as Korvosa’s famous Jeggare Museum, a rambling structure filled to the brim with historical artifacts culled from sites all over the world. Igmar knows full well that the museum is just a few blocks away from the Chelish Embassy – apparently the elf was not lying after all.
The building is dark at the moment, and the small park at the front is abandoned. Then there is another red flash, and Sanaya slams to the ground a few feet away. Igmar rushes to help her, and soon the rest of the group has emerged back into this plane of existence, seemingly none the worse for wear.
“Kymrych, can you hear me?” Akorian was pleased to note that the spell connecting him with his fellow party members was still active.
There is a pause, and then Akorian can clearly hear the “voice” of his Varisian friend.
“Yes, we’re still here. Where are you?”
“Safe enough for the moment. Are you still in the Embassy?”
“No. Tilda came and got us out. But there’s a problem: an alarm has been raised, and the Watch is beginning to patrol the city. I think something has gone very wrong – other than the fact that Paracountess Jeggare has been murdered, of course.”
“We can worry about that later. Can you meet us? Say at Jeggare Circle?”
“We’re on our way now.”
“My Lord, I believe I will be taking my leave of you now.” Isandra bows slightly, and smiles.
“I understand.” Akorian bows in reply. “Thank you for your help. I suspect we wouldn’t have made it out of that madhouse without you.”
“Think nothing of it, My Lord.” Her smile widens. “I found the entire affair rather invigorating, to be honest. Perhaps we can do something of the sort again sometime.”
“Perhaps.” You all watch then as the noblewoman moves off into the shadows, and is soon lost from sight. It is only then that you realize that Elandriu is also nowhere to be seen, and that none of you have seen him at all since he slipped into the red mist back in the Plane of Shadow.
An hour passes as Akorian and his fellows leave the vicinity of Jeggare Museum and head a couple of streets over, to Jeggare Circle. This wide confluence of streets in the center of North Point is often crowded by street merchants and political revolutionaries during the day. But tonight the paving stones of the Circle are empty, and the surrounding streets are silent – save for the continuous clamor of ringing church bells. The party huddles in an alley to one side of a shuttered apothecary, and watches as yet another patrol of mounted watchmen clatters through the square. Then the night falls quiet once more, save for the endless bells.
Soon thereafter a shadowy figure is seen across the way, skulking in a darkened alley. Akorian signals with witch-light, and sees his signal returned to in kind. Dark figures leave the cover of the alley, and cross the way quickly. Shortly thereafter the entire party is reunited, and a quick confab is held.
“We met with Albia and the rest of the Brimstone Harpies,” Talathel tells you. “They’re in the process of leaving town. Now. Tonight. Apparently Iacobus has already headed for the hills, and left us to rot.”
“Why would he do that?” Igmar asks. It is Kymrych who answers, however.
“Albia told us that the Embassy guards found a dead Asmodean priest shortly after we escaped the premises. Apparently he was the Embassy chaplain. He was stabbed in the back, and stuffed away in a closet somewhere. They supposedly found Akorian’s personal sigil clenched in his hand. Now the Watch has been turned out to capture or kill us, and rumors are afoot that word has been sent to Citadel Vraid for Hellknight patrols to help in the search.”
There is more, of course. Rumors that Lord Iacobus has been forced to flee the city are rampant, and that Cressida Kroft had been named Grand Marshal once more. Queen Ileosa has declared you enemies of the city, and ordered the forces under her command to arrest you on sight. With this in mind Albia has suggested you depart the city immediately, and do not return to any of your usual haunts at all. It is likely that they are already under some sort of watchful eye. Fortunately your minions and all of your equipment was sent to you by Doxine, who is also on her way to safety.