Episode 50: the Plight of Angels
The aasimar introduced herself as Mera Maryndottir, avatar and daughter of Drahni, God of the Hearth. She led the party over the hill and down into a compound where they saw groups of people engaged in various works: farming, planting, forging, building. At the center of the compound stood a hastily-erected, mostly wooden building vaguely reminiscent of a church or temple; to its right stood a well-built open air smithy in which two blacksmiths and their assistants were busy at the forge. Mera led the group to the temple building. Inside they were met by a group of peasants, mostly elderly, infirm, or children, clustered by a large stone hearth in which burned a welcoming fire. The peasants greeted Mera as a saviour, hushed and awed. She returned their welcome with slight nods and warm smiles.
Mera led the party to the rear of the building where they were surprised to find a throne room of sorts; a solid gold throne was positioned atop a reinforced dais three or so feet off the ground. It was flanked by guards in simple garb and wielding repurposed pickaxes as weapons. Mera mounted the dais and sat upon the throne and enjoined the party to introduce themselves. Yuna spoke first, sharing some her own connection to Drahni. At first Mera seemed shocked at the revelation that Drahni might have fathered two children in absentia and written them each similar letters, beseeching them to help the helpless and defend the oppressed. But rather than question their father’s intent she declared it divine providence that Yuna should arrive here just when Mera needed her help.
Mera explained that when her powers first manifested and she learned of her divine parentage she took it upon herself to build a community of Drahni worshippers, to provide aid, shelter and food to the oppressed and disadvantaged. She found a great need in the Mudslide, with its miners and day-labourers and the destitute, all cruelly taken advantage of by the seven merchant houses that ruled Uman, in particular House Knacklebun and House Rasmusson, the two families who controlled the mining economy in Uman. As she declaimed against the injustices of the Houses, it seemed to Magnus that perhaps her fervour was not merely hypothetical: Mera spoke in polemics, declaring the time right for a redress of wrongs and a great reckoning of the common folk; he warned the party privately that they could be dealing with a real revolutionary.
Yuna questioned Mera’s sitting upon a solid gold throne if she was so concerned with economic injustice. Mera described how her followers had collected the gold in the form of donations, and melted it down to create this work of art as a symbol. Money has no inherent worth, she explained, except as material for the fires of community. The party privately questioned whether Mera might not also be insane.
Magnus asked Mera what help she needed, and the party learned that one of Knacklebun’s mines had suffered a collapse in recent days, trapping several miners deep underground. House Knacklebun had closed the mine “out of due concern for safety” but had thus far made no attempts to search for survivors, and Mera at length ranted against all the houses, claiming perhaps it was deliberate, or sabotage, or part of some larger conspiracy against the poor folk of the 7th. A group of volunteers had ventured into the mine to mount a rescue but it had been days since and no word has come.
The party agreed to visit the mine and see if they could help. Mera directed them to Met, a miner who was present at the time of the collapse, who could lead them there. They left Mera’s throne room then, and made their way into the fields behind the building where they found Met, a lean, wiry human with olive skin and shaggy black hair harvesting root vegetables from the hard winter ground. Through a raspy voice with a wet, growling cough he readily agreed to escort the party to the mine, and suggested they speak to Adi at the forge to gather whatever equipment they thought was needed while he gathered water skins and food rations for any survivors. Magnus attempted to draw Met into a discussion about Mera’s community and their plans, but was rebuffed.
They met with the broad-shouldered, barrel-chested human Adi at the forge, who also was eager to see the party mount a rescue attempt. He led them to an equipment shed, which he unlocked and placed at their disposal. The party gathered up ropes, pickaxes and torches, and also four vials of black powder, which Keen added to his pack. As they made ready to depart, Ara quietly mentioned that he had observed the second blacksmith was forging a sword, which Ara thought was a funny way to go about mining.
The party rejoined Met, who led them from the compound, back into the Mudslide proper, and out a trader’s gate at the base of Uman’s outer wall. It was just twilight as Met brought the party into the foothills west of the wall, following a wide, well-maintained and well-travelled road. They stopped at the mouth of a large cavern, which Met indicated was the outer entrance to the Knacklebun mine. He gave them directions to the collapse, bade them good luck, and left to return to Uman.
A few minutes passed as the party discussed their approach. Just as they were making ready to enter the mine however Keen and Ara both caught a glimpse of movement in the darkness. A dagger flew, catching Keen in the shoulder. Thanks to their awareness the bandit ambush failed to surprise the party, and they joined battle against Keen’s latest would-be assassins: 6 bandits, a captain at their head and leading an ogre. Ara traded a series of vicious blows with the bandit captain, who in seconds was bloodied and terrified, abandoned his group and fled, shouting apologies as we went. Sirlius covered the battlefield in magical darkness to slow the remaining attackers, and placed himself between them and Keen, his body aflame in protective fire. The ogre came screaming out of the darkness in a frenzy and began battering Sirlius, but each time its massive greatclub connected a gout of flame exploded outward from the tiefling warlock. Together the party quickly cut down the ogre and four of the remaining bandits; the final two, terrified of the flaming, scythe-wielding Sirlius, surrendered. Sirlius robbed one bandit of a pair of fine leather boots, and Yuna sent the survivors away to warn other bounty-hunters to not try for Keen.
The party took a brief rest inside the mine entrance while Magnus looted the bandit corpses, collecting their weapons, a few handfuls of coins, a healing potion and a vial of silver fluid which thanks to an identify spell he learned was oil of sharpness.
Rested, their wounds attended to, the party began their descent into the mine, following Met’s directions. As they followed the winding tunnels, the part began to hear odd noises, like distant bird-calls. Before long they arrived at the collapse, stone and rubble completely filling the tunnel. As they looked for a way through, Sirlius noted streaks of black ash on the ceiling radiating out from the collapse, and speculated there might have been blasting charges, possibly lending credence to Mera’s assertion of sabotage. Keen examined the blockage closely, tapping the stone with the end of his rapier. The tip of the sword slid easily into the rock and back out again; with a shrug, Keen walked straight through the rubble and disappeared. After a moment his muffled voice called out “Hey guys, check this out!”
The party followed Keen and as they stepped through the rubble were surprised to find themselves in a dense jungle, the night air hot as an oven and alive with the sounds of bird calls, insects and predators. No sign of the mine remained. With a start Magnus realized that there was something familiar with this odd transition: it reminded him of the party’s encounter at the Fool’s Errand, an inn and tavern that both existed and didn’t exist on the site where they found the first Shard of the Heart of Bahamut, a collision of reality created by the madness of the inn’s late proprietress being warped by the creative power of the Shard.
Drahni Sincerity Level: Questionable?
Revolution Status: Fomenting
Keen’s Bounty Rating: Popular
RP Rating: Awesome!