Monday, December 15, 2014

The Necromancer's Legacy - part 44

Charon and Thriatos return to the mountain cave, not much wiser about the demon but fairly confident that Osayla was still standing when they left. Horacio debriefs them about what he has learned from the gremlin, Znoot, and they decide to act on his advice to travel to the gremlin city and attempt to secure an alliance. They intend to travel light, meaning they leave most of their belongings for Jamal and Mergus to carry.

The journey takes them three days and is uneventful beneath the scorching sun. They travel west and eventually make camp in the shadows of the mountains. According to gremlin customs no outsider is allowed to know the path to the city, so Znoot ventures on ahead on his own to prepare for their arrival. Within a few hours they are approached by gremlin guards and blindfolded before being taken further up the mountain side. They soon find themselves underground and the sound of flowing water is clear. The gremlins inform them that they will be taken onboard a raft after which their blindfolds will be removed. Thus their first vision is of an underground tunnel, carved by the river they're traversing, dimly lit by the torches of the guards. A stone platform extrudes from the cave wall, partially lit by stronger lights coming from a carved corridor leading into the mountain itself. A small group of gremlins in strange but elaborate clothing await their arrival.

They are greeted by an elderly gremlin with a thin beard who introduces himself as the Keeper of the Halls in fairly understandable hara. The rest of the group seems to be guards or scribes and as they are taken through the winding (and rather low ceiling-wise) tunnels and open caves the Keeper tells them of the name and history of each place. They pass through a large market square which gives a taste as to the numbers living in the city, with hundreds of gnomes bustling about their daily business. The mages attract quite a lot of attention, but most are too busy to observe them for very long and as they leave the market most onlookers stay behind.

Eventually they find themselves in the Council Hall - meeting place of the gremlin elders. The hall resembles a theater and they are seated on one of the rows as the council spokesman begin to present them to the elders. As this is done in the gremlin language Znoot translates for them, remarking that the spokesman is not very friendly to their cause and needs to be convinced of the benefits of an alliance. As the initial introduction is completed the mages ask about who actually do suppot their cause and Znoot says it is time for them to meet his father: high priest Gorn. Gorn is shown to be an elderly, yet vigorous gremlin with a large, red beard. He informs them of the politics of the city - that most have forgotten about the God and need to be reminded. He suggests they leave the Council Hall and go to the shrine of their deity.

After a brief opportunity for prayer Gorn informs them that they are expected to hold a speech in the following day before the elders of the city. Spending some time discussing and preparing their arguments they decide Horacio should be the one to deliver it. As a thorough man, Horacio ask Znoot to assemble some devotees on which he can practice the speech. Encouraged by this the young gremlin, to the surprise of the mages, manage to fill the shrine with over a hundred attenders. After the initial chock and surprise Horacio decides to rise to the challenge and delivers an excellent performance. The crowd disperse and soon rumors about the strangers and their persuasive arguments begin circulating in the city.

The rest of the day the mages spend wandering the city with Znoot as their guide. They are shown the massive forges and the city bathouse provides a welcome chance to remove weeks of dirt and sweat (disregard for the other guests are not really considered an issue...). While day and night really doesn't exist in the underground city the mages go to bed early, not wanting to miss out on the opportunity of a good nights sleep in proper, if rather short, beds.

In the morning they are woken by Znoot who offers them the chance to join the city's morning ceremony, which they accept. The ceremony have all the residents of the city, in their thousands, walk through the city to a giant cave with an opening providing a panoramic view of the mountains. Through the cave the gremlins then observe the rising of the sun before returning to their Daily chores. Charon, Horacio and Thriatos finds this fascinating and intriguing, but eventually return their focus to the speech which is to be held within a few hours.

As the hour approaches the mages enter into a full Council Hall - hundreds of gremins staring as they enter the center of the hall. With Charon and Thriatos doing what they can to lend weight to Horacio's arguments they deliver their speech to the expecting audience. A few questions are raised by those who do not share their political agenda, but they are swiftly answered before they are asked to leave as the elders discuss the proposal behind closed doors.

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