Artefacts and Relics

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We ended our previous Zweihänder session in the sewers under the city, we think at the door to the basement of the Church of the Order of Redemption. Unable to get past the lock, we planned to seek help from our dwarven alchemist friend.

Though I try to write these posts from the perspective of my character Eva, as journal entries written after the events, this one ends in the middle of action, since that’s when the session ended – just as things were getting dangerous.

We again returned to the inn during the early hours of the morning, waking the innkeeper to be let in. This time he insisted that we all take a bath in the horse trough first, since both we and our clothes stank of the sewers. Stripping off and washing down with cold water outdoors in the early hours of the morning was definitely stimulating, but at least it removed most of the smell. And it wasn’t any worse than the cold baths we had to take at the abbey.

At least I got some sleep last night though, and managed to get a warm bath (indoors) after waking and sent my dirty clothes to get washed whilst we got breakfast. Djarin seems to be suffering from lack of sleep, and he isn’t too friendly this morning, but hopefully we can get some rest before we do anything tonight.

After obtaining some clothing better suited to wandering around in the sewers, we went to find Noreen in her new shop. She seemed quite keen on the idea of another excursion, and quickly came up with a plan on how to remove the metal plug from the keyhole. The fact that this was possibly not entirely ethical didn’t seem to faze her, which was good. Possibly. We agreed to meet her at her shop at sundown, by which time she’ll have the alchemicals ready a d we can go back down below.

After sundown, we met up with Noreen who handed me a large bag of things that went clink. I tried very hard not to break anything, since I wasn’t certain whether it would melt or explode.

Like us, she was dressed ready for the sewers, and also provided us with a substance to block the smell. Though it would probably be more pleasant, I decided I wanted to be able to still smell things, in case there was something worse than sewer stench down there.

By now finding the way to the door was relatively trivial for me, so we go back to it without incident. Noreen took a look, and got out a set of glass tubes and other items, and started pouring a clear liquid into the lock. Before long a cloud of gas started to rise from it, and she used bellows to blow air through to the other side.

Before long, the lock was no longer a lock, which meant that the key we had would no longer fit it. Understandably, Noreen was a bit put out by us failing to mention that we had a key, and then more put out by our mention of a possible trap on the other side.

After a bit of work, we forced the now ruined mechanism and managed to get the door open. On the other side – was a pile of empty wooden boxes, and a somewhat melted locking mechanism. If there had been anything dangerous, it was now disabled.

At this point I decided to tell Noreen the full story of why we were here. We had reached possible slaver activity to this door, and believed that it led into the church of the Order of Redemption. Though we didn’t have hard proof, we thought that they were up to no good, but if we were wrong, then they were a powerful group to have upset.

Noreen wasn’t too concerned, since she didn’t like slavers and decided that priests probably had loot. So given the choice, she decided to stay with us.

Beyond the door was a tunnel that looked like it had once been natural but which had been smoothed out sometime in the past. Not far long it was a door of iron bars, which enclosed a cell where a group of slaves were sleeping. Hard proof, at least for us. They were unsurprisingly pleased to see us. Most of them hadn’t spotted what had kidnapped them, but the sailor said that he had been grabbed by a group of three or four people, including a large woman. They’d all then woken up in this cell.

Apparently there are a couple of guards who come down to check on them now and again, so as I led the slaves back up to the surface the others laid a trap for when the guards turned up.

Once we reached the surface, the sailor said he’d take the others to his ship where it might be safe – I didn’t like the idea of them all wandering off individually at night, only to get captured again by whatever it was out there.

By the time I got back to the others, the guards hadn’t ventured down, so we carefully made our way further up the tunnel. Much to the delight of Noreen, we came across a large and very well stocked alchemy lab, which was in active use with various liquids bubbling, dripping and generally doing things that only Noreen fully understood. There was a set of books here as well – though they all seemed to be alchemy texts.

The final result of the alchemical process seemed to be a strange black liquid, so I took a few vials of that for us to examine later. There was also a raised area of floor with chains hanging above it – it looked like it was meant to hang a person and let their fluids drain out through a hole in the floor. Whoever built this place is not on our side.

Beyond the lab were a couple of guards playing cards, whom Calthar and Djarin managed to take out. Calthar didn’t quite manage to take out the first one without being seen, so Djarin shot the other one through the head before he could react. They still had the element of surprise though, and Calthar managed to take down the first before he could do much to respond.

Much like back at the warehouse, the doors beyond here were padded and heavily insulated against noise. They led to a flight of stairs that went up several floors, each floor with padded walls and doors which meant that even when Calthar tripped and almost fell, nobody heard us. From beyond could be heard the muffled sound of singing – it seems clear that we are in the church of the Order of Redemption.

We ignored all the intervening floors and went straight to the top, where the door opened into an unlit passage where there were some better quality cells, though these were all empty. At the far end was a religious fresco, and another passage which took us to a couple of sets of double doors. There were only two guards up here, and Calthar was able to take them both out without raising any alarms – though the actions left a lot of blood on the floor.

One set of doors led to the main set of stairs down, and a vestry. The robes kept were were religious, but also had arcane markings upon them, so I took some samples for examining later.

The ornate set of doors led to the stained glass window, and a room obviously dedicated to the worship of the God Emperor – though in a way that was not entirely normal.

There was a stone altar in the middle of the room, and beyond it a lectern with a book and the window behind that. Four paintings stood around the room, covered in dust covers, and a cabinet was at the back also covered.

By the doors were two cabinets – one black and holding various ebony sacrificial instruments, and the other bright and golden with a huge wealth of items. A sealed urn stood in the corner of each room.

Whilst the others kept watch, I quickly made my way around the room to investigate as much as I could before anyone came up. The paintings were mostly old and fragile, but high quality.

  • A painting of the God Emperor in all his glory
  • A painting of a bleeding God Emperor with the Handmaiden, offering his blood to the people
  • The God Emperor and the Handmaiden who is offering him the blood of slaughtered enemies
  • The Handmaiden in radiant armour. This last painting seemed new, as if painted only yesterday.

The stained glass window had what looked like a lens before it, and two levers either side with some form of mechanism. Pulling one lever caused something to shift, and the light coming through the window was reduced. Pulling the other, and the Moon was brought into view through the lens, and its light fell upon the altar. This was very much not normal.

The book on the lectern was open at a pretty standard passage – but the writing style and exact wording was off, probably an ancient form of the holy words. I tried to pick up the book, but it grew hot and started to burn me so I quickly put it back.

The final cupboard revealed a sceptre on a stand, in the same style as that shown to be used by the God Emperor.

This was all unnerving, so I decided that we needed to take as much evidence as we could and leave quickly. I cut out the paintings – though it damaged them I wanted them as evidence. Except the last one – that of the Handmaiden. It would not cut, so instead I unscrewed the frame and tried to pull it out. As I did so, the painting seemed to come alive, the Handmaiden turning to look at me. I am not ashamed to admit that I was gripped with terror at this point, so quickly ripped the painting out of its frame and rolled it tightly into a tube, sticking it inside the other paintings.

I’d also asked Noreen to put something flammable on the book, and was prepared to grab the sceptre, light the book and make a run for it. Unfortunately as I laid by hands on the sceptre we all noticed the jars start to shift and seemingly come alive, as dark forms took shape around them.

Samuel Penn