The Natural Order

New Initiates

The lieutenants inspect the church, wondering where one of the feline creatures would have descended. Eventually Vrashnik pressed on the pulpit and it slid to the side, revealing a passage down.

After a long flight of stairs, they find a door. After Esmerelda inspects the door for traps, Istvan quietly eases it open and sees inside a room full of assorted blocks of masonry – here stone, there iron or brick. Out of the corner of his eye he spies the shadow of somebody turning a corner at the other end of the room. He carefully enters a few steps and sees the shadow again, as if they turned back to ambush him. Grinning inside at this coward’s foolishness, Istvan advances, and is taken aback to find that it is the shadow, and not its master, that attacks him. Misha, noticing the sounds of combat, steps in and assists while Istvan makes short work of the shadow. After they look around, however, they notice a number of other shadows moving, appearing from inside the stonework, or above it. Istvan and Misha back up towards the doorway and are eventually surrounded at the entrance. They begin striking back at the shadows, but each time the shadows touch them the chill incorporeal contact leaves them weakened. With Myn behind the doorway Misha warns “Stay back, little one!” Severely affronted, Myn tries to shove her way through but Misha stuffs the attempt with a frustrated growl. As he is distracted with multiple opponents however, Myn sneaks around behind him and begins attacking the shadows with magic, so she has no need to touch them. Vrashnik grabs a gem from his Helm of Brilliance and throws a Daylight spell into the room to throw the shadows off and damage them while turn on the defensive against the heroes.

After they fend off the room of strange shadows, Misha is winded and wounded, and Istvan is barely able to hold himself up. Everyone decides there is more to this mystery than initially expected, and they return to the city to seek healing and items of healing to safeguard against any similar dangers they may encounter later underground.

When they return to the room of shadows, all of the stone masonry is gone. Cautiously, they walk through the room to the door on the opposite side and beyond.

The next chamber is small, but across the center of it is a 40-ft. wide seemingly bottomless chasm. The floor lining this chasm on either side is set with large pressure plates. Vrashnik flips a coin into the chasm , and nobody but him can even hear it hit the ground, and he hears it only faintly at that.

“Well, guess we’re going to have to get around it.”

Vrashnik activates his slippers of spider climb and avoids the pressure plates by walking on the wall but as soon as he steps above the chasm his shoe is as slippery on the wall as any normal shoes. He manages to catch himself on the edge of the floor without hitting the pressure plate, and Misha extends his spear to help Vrashnik get up and over without having to touch the plate.

Myn deduces that magic items must not work here. However, she has an innate ability to fly passed down through her bloodline, and tries to fly across the chasm. This too, however, does not work, and in working her way back up she has no choice but to step on one of the pressure plates at the end of the wall. As she does so, a metal platform extends partway across the chasm along the same wall. Curious, the others check the other pressure plates, and they extend metal platforms of their own in lengths that appear to vary according to the weight upon the plate. Myn and Vrashnik stand on the plate near the wall extending the platform all the way, and Istvan crosses, leaping over the pressure plate on the other side. Next Misha takes a spot on the plate to allow Myn to cross to the other side. They decide to switch sides on the plate and Myn and Istvan hold down a plate on the other side for Vrashnik to cross. However, instead of leaping over the plate on the near side, Vrashnik jumps too late and steps on the plate, causing the platform to drop away entirely and the ground under the plates to crumble. Istvan and Myn catch themselves on the other side against the wall and Misha helps Vrashnik back up. Because it is easier to cross the platform bracing against a wall they go to the wall on the other side to attempt again and once again Vrashnik does not jump before hitting the pressure plate, causing the same outcome. They move to a plate on the inside of the chasm, and before Vrashnik tries again they tie a rope to Esmerelda and send her across. Once she is on the other side, they hold her end of the rope while Vrashnik ties it around himself and hands the other end to Misha. Vrashnik makes the final trip and Misha follows after. Esmerelda checks the door on the other side and signals to Istvan that it is safe to open.

The next room has little light, but Istvan can see that there are other blocks of assorted masonry here. However, he does not see any creatures moving around here, and carefully enters the room. As he passes between two blocks, he doesn’t notice the pressure plate he stepped on in time and just manages to dive across before one of the adjacent blocks tumbles down where he had just stepped. As everyone else enters, they inspect the opening created by the block and find another pressure plate beneath it. Istvan looks at the next row of blocks and finds yet another pressure plate in the opening. Esmerelda gracefully leaps across and Istvan makes it past one more row. As Misha eyes Vrashnik, wondering if he would have more success just throwing him across, Myn steps between the two, grabs their arms and magically warps them through the room to the other side. Esmerelda checks the next door, but Vrashnik finds a secret door on the adjacent wall. It opens into a narrow stone hallway that leads behind the next room. At the end of the hall, Vrashnik peers through a door into a laboratory occupied by two Netherlords and a doorway into the room they just occupied. The Netherlords face away from the wall, and one of the large feline beasts lays dissected and splayed out across one of the tables. Vrashnik digs out the robes of the Netherlords they just defeated and hands a set to Esmerelda, whispering “Here, put these on!”

Vrashnik and Esmerelda slip into the lab, and are immediately noticed by the two Netherlords. “What are you doing here? Valeros told us not to use that entrance during the daytime” one asks.

Vrashnik says “Sorry, I’m new… I didn’t know.”

“Well, what are you here for?”

“I’m here …to, uh… help.”

The Netherlord sighs “You’re obviously new here, so I’ll explain. We’re the big guys around here that are doing research. If someone like you wants to help, then you can go down and feed the beasts.”

“Okay. uh…”

The Netherlord points to the other one, “Go show him!”

The second Netherlord leads Vrashnik and Esmerelda into the next room over and points to a pile of meat, then a pile of bones “The young ones get the meat. The older ones get bones. Have fun.” He turns and goes back into the lab. As the two resume their work, Vrashnik enters the doorway and throws several gems of fireballs into the room. The rest of the group rushes in and combat ensues.

A few seconds in, one of the Netherlords calls on another feline creature that emerges from under a table and begins to attack Istvan. Vrashnik notices a strange rod in the Netherlord’s belt loop, and indicates to Misha nearby that it may important. After Misha disarms the Netherlord next to him he makes his way over and grabs the rod from the first Netherlord, handing it to Vrashnik and they make short work of the Netherlords.

They check the next room with the feed for the creatures and descend to where they are kept. Vrashnik sees collars lining a wall of the room with corresponding rods to the one he got from the Netherlord.
“They must be using these to control the poor creatures.”

After they inspect the cats, they realize that they normally live solitary lives in the wild and may be could be released back to nature. Vrashnik takes a rod for good measure and commands the cat to follow him.

The last door leading out of the lab leads to a room with one lever by the door, and three levers in the middle with one door in front of each of those levers. The group exchanges apprehensive looks, then proceeds to pull a lever. When the first door on the left opens, a fire trap explodes into the room. They try pulling the lever next to the door and the open door across the room shuts and a grinding mechanism is heard behind the doors as if there is movement across the entire wall. They try another lever, and this time a door opens and a devil bursts through. After they defeat the devil, they reset the doors again, and try yet again, only to see a brick wall behind the first door. Once again they reset and try again, and finally a djinni appears in the room.

“What do you come to offer me?”

They look at each other, perplexed.

“You do know how this works, correct? In exchange for an item of power, I answer your questions.”

Hesitantly, Istvan pulls out his Maul of the Titans and hands it to the djinni. The djinni reaches up and swallows the maul whole, and appears satisfied. “Ask.”

“What is this place?”

“The Netherlords crafted this place to summon me, and in exchange for objects of power, ask for my knowledge.”

“What kinds of questions did they ask?”

“Mostly how to release their precious Aramus.”

“And what did you tell them?”

“Aramus is lost at sea.”

“Oh.”

The djinni eyes them for a moment, then advises “I know you seek the return of Aerodin. To find Aerodin, you must find Aramus.”

The group stands in silence for a moment, then decide that they have no more to ask for now.

They return to the Council of Westcrown to report on the origin of the strange beasts. They explain where they found them and how they were kept. Istvan advises that this is the work of the Netherlords, but Vrashnik denies that this is the case, and the Council is plunged into chaos. Eventually, Councilman Crossland speaks over the rest and tells the heroes “Well I’m not sure just what ghosts in the night you must have seen but I assure you none of us have ever seen a real live Netherlord.” He continues to look at the group in disdain and Vrashnik quickly agrees “I’m sure a group that doesn’t exist could have nothing to do with something like this!” Disgusted, Myn collects her share of the reward and walks out.

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