24 Arodus, 4718 (Fireday)
A few seconds of silence passed in the darkness before everyone began calling out to one another. Cornelius, Felyx, Verity and Oliver were in this dark place with me, and in quick succession several of us began casting the light cantrip. It only just occurred to me that Verity was the only one among us that could not spellcast. Cornelius identified that sick feeling in my stomach as the effects of a teleportation spell. Who cast one on us was a mystery, along as where we now found ourselves.
We had landed on a cold and extremely dusty floor. My friends and I were getting to our feet when we all heard Martella’s voice chime into our heads. She asked what had happened to us, and where we were. We told her that we seemed to have been teleported away from the senate floor, but were unsure where we were. She informed us that many of the senate badges had contingency magics cast upon them. It was most likely triggered when I was hit by the crossbow bolt. Martella told us to try and find our way out, and that she was with Princess Eutropia, Count Zespire and my brother. She told us that there was still fighting happening throughout the senate building. I must admit that a wave of relief came over me at the mention of Remilliard’s name. My brother is a veteran of the World Wound, and I know he can handle himself in a fight, but much like the rest of us he wasn’t exactly fully armed and armored for a Senate vote.
Knowing now that the teleportation that brought us here is tied to the House Voritas badges, it is likely that we are in one of their “safe houses” beneath the senate building. We all got to our feet and began taking stock of our situation. The room we found ourselves in had six beds with moldering mattresses along one wall. Doors stood on the north and east wall, and locker-like cupboards took up a corner of the room. Perhaps this was for the servants or aides?
As I made my way towards a corner of the room that was walled off, Felyx pulled me away and sat me down on one of the beds. A rather impressive cloud of dust sprung up around me and filled the air. Cornelius was nearby, taking a closer look at beds and was overtaken by this cloud. He soon fell into a rather impressive fit of coughing and sneezing. I gave him an apologetic head tilt as Felyx fussed over my injury, using magic to close it and stop the bleeding. I told her I was fine, and had suffered worse wounds. She reminded me she wasn’t with me on those occurrences, and if she had been she would have been healing me then, too. It will be a bit of an adjustment, having people around to help take care of me, rather than being the one taking care of my son.
The small room turned out to be a bathroom. Surprisingly, the plumbing still worked, though the water that came out of the faucet was black and mirky for a moment before turning clear. I found a small toiletries bag with a few useful items, and decided to take it with me.
Beside each of the doors, at about elbow height, were green glass panels. Cornelius was able to tell they had a magical aura about them, but wasn’t sure what they did. Verity tapped one, and we discovered it had something to do with the lighting of the area. With little else in the room of use, we opened the door on the eastern wall, and found ourselves in a short hallway that ended in another door.
This door exited into a large storeroom filled with crates and shelves. Hoping to find something of use, we began to thoroughly search the room. In one crate, we found servants’ clothing done in black and grays. It is nearly two hundred years out of fashion, and with the state of the rooms so covered in dust, I feel it is a safe assumption that no one has been in these chambers for nearly two centuries. Some of the other crates contained what was once hardtack that could now be more closely associated with leather rather than edible dried meats. One of the walls was covered in a large mosaic made of gemstones rather than tiles, but the large amount of crates blocked most of the image. While we were curious about the mosaic, it would have taken quite some time to clear the crates, and we all wanted to get to Martella and the Princess as soon as possible.
The storeroom wasn’t a total wash however. We did find a nice cache of weapons, including a longsword, rapier and a halberd. I took the rapier, and Oliver the longsword. Cornelius took a set of rather finely made darts that I’m sure were meant to be used in some sort of lawn game but are also capable of causing quite a bit of damage if thrown at another person. An old, but still in decent shape, set of studded leather armor was among the weapons. Felyx donned it. Feeling much better now that we were better armed, we made our way out of a door on the northern wall – the only exit besides the one we had entered from.
We found ourselves in yet another small hallway, but this one was lined with portraits. None of them were labeled, but they all wore black and gray and had a fairly strong family resemblance. It is likely they are the nobles of House Voritas.
This hallway exited into a large, and I’m sure in its prime, opulent bedroom. The walls of this chamber were lined with bookshelves, all filled with tomes concerning Taldane history. The bed in this room was large, and while just as moldy as the servant’s beds in the initial room, the frame and headboard were ornately carved. The sheets at one point had been silk, though now they were falling apart. A large desk took up part of the room. Stationary being held down by a large gold-plated key was stamped with the House Voritas crest. There was now no longer any doubt that we were in rooms once used by the noble family. Considering how we had arrived, I was convinced this was indeed some sort of safe house for the family, a place to retreat to if they were in danger, or be brought to immediately if they, or someone with their senate badge, was injured. Quite frankly it’s a smart plan. I’ll have to remember to broach doing something similar to Remilliard. Lord Ragathiel knows how much our family is still distrusted. A safe place in the senate would at least bring me a little comfort, especially after the massacre that just occurred.
Similar to the servant’s quarters, there was a bathroom in this chamber, though a much nicer one. I found another grooming set, and a kit to take care of one’s beard. Again, I took both. They could prove useful later. I found a small note tucked into the large mirror hanging on the wall that read: “Fourth bed from the North, headboard, back up key.”
I told the others I was going to go investigate and made my way back to the servant’s quarters. Sure enough, the knob on the bedpost of the fourth bed was loose, and inside a small iron key. I pocketed it, and as I turned to rejoin the others, I saw that Oliver had come down to stand in the storeroom, so he could see me and be in earshot of the others. It made me smile, knowing he wanted to make sure we were all safe. The two of us rejoined the others in the noble’s bedroom. A pair of large mahogany double doors on the west wall were the only other exit.
These also lead into a small hallway. One wall was taken up by an extremely detailed mural of the house Voritas crest. The unicorn fighting the linnorm. It was beautiful, though I didn’t really think much more of it until Cornelius noticed the unicorn’s pupil. It was a small carving that was the inverse of the house Voritas crest, just the size of most signet rings. The wall must be some sort of door that can only be opened by pressing the house signet ring into the unicorn’s pupil. Again, rather clever. Bereft of the proper signet ring, we made our way through the door at the end of this small hallway.
It exited in a room that could only be called a bar. There were several tables in the room, along with a counter that could also serve as a cooking area. Cabinets behind the bar were filled with long spoiled wine and other spirits. The walls of the room were also covered in paintings. While Verity and Cornelius searched the bar area, I decided to see if there was anything of use near the tables. As I was standing up from looking underneath one of the tables, I misjudged where I was and knocked myself rather hard in the head. I plopped down on the floor, much like Cynefrith did when he was a small child and was pouting about something. As I rubbed the back of my head, I let myself have a moment to allow for the fatigue and stress of the night to be acknowledged. There would be more time to process it later. For now we had to find a way to reach Martella and Princess Eutropia, but pushing it aside entirely was also not the wisest decision. Stress had a way of finding an outlet whether you wanted it or not.
I was pulled from my brief reverie when Felyx asked if I had any idea about the paintings on the wall. I hoisted myself up from the floor to take a look at them. While I could recognize them as depictions of one of the armies of exploration, I couldn’t peg down which one for sure. The events of the night had me, and I think all of us to a certain extent, off my game.
Verity found a locked cabinet behind the bar, and I tried the key I found hidden in the bedpost. It worked, and we were met with yet another oddity. Half of a crystal orb was protruding from the stone wall behind the locked cabinet. A cone shaped hole was in the top of it, and looked like a piece of the crystal had been taken out. We all looked at each other in confusion, and turned towards the last remaining door in the southern wall of the bar. I had a sneaking suspicion that this would simply lead to the room we had arrived in initially, and this suspicion was right.
We searched the entirety of this small safe house, and found no way out. It is likely that the unicorn mural is the exit, but we don’t have the proper signet ring. We were on the verge of tearing the place apart, when Oliver mentioned the mosaic in the storeroom that we hadn’t been able to see. Perhaps it would hold a clue of some sort.
While Oliver, Verity and Felyx moved the boxes out of the way, Cornelius and I set about figuring out how the lights in the complex worked. After some trial and error, we were able to determine which of the green panels controlled the light in each room. Cornelius is under the impression that the panels most likely controlled the lights in the room they were in, but as time has passed the magic has degraded, and now they are their own strange little puzzle. While we were trying to unravel this puzzle, we had a brief discussion about what had happened after the vote.
Other than Oliver, I don’t think my friends have ever experienced true combat or been involved in such a horrific event. Cornelius has a talent for understatement, and his speculation about why he thought that Stavian might have done something like this was rather subdued. I did let slip that I had my own personal experience with trauma, and I could say that this wasn’t the worst night of my life. Cornelius reached up to his neck, and I nodded. I told him that some poor decisions had been made in my youth – speaking of understatement – and while not all of it was my fault, some of it was. I did tell him that this was the reason I had Cynefrith, and he said “every cloud has its silver lining”. I suppose it does. Hopefully when we all look back in the years to come, we can say the same of tonight.
The mosaic in the storeroom revealed a fine piece of a gallant man on a steed fighting a large and menacing group of dwarves. Again, I could remember Taldor coming into conflict with the Five Kings Mountains during one of the great explorations, but not which one. A panel on the mural read “Noble Galitian Maramaxus, hero of the Fourth Army of Exploration. Even in deepest darkness, ever a champion in the eye of Taldor.” Well, the panel answered my question about which army, and I wondered if the murals in the bar were also from the Fourth Army of Exploration.
The phrasing on the panel was odd, saying in the “eye” of Taldor rather than “eyes.” In the mosaic, Galitian’s eyes were closed. Luckily, Cornelius and I had already figured out the lights, so we turned them all off. Once we were gathered in the hallway with the unicorn mural, those of us who had cast the light cantrip dismissed the magic. It really shouldn’t have surprised us that nothing happened.
Earlier, Verity found some candles and a sparker in the servant’s lockers. On a hunch, I took a candle and lit it, and then began making my way back towards the storeroom. As I turned towards the storeroom from the bedroom, I could see a faint glow coming from the mosaic of Galitian. Perhaps we will make it out of here in time to aid Princess Eutropia escape after all.