25 Arodus, 4718, Starday (cont.)
The door swung open with surprising ease. The architecture or the hallway beyond the door marked it as newer construction. The walls had once been covered in plaster, and broken bits were scattered across the floor. Many of these had been gathered and arranged in the now familiar circles that we had seen nearly everywhere in our explorations. About twenty feet further down, the hallway had collapsed, cutting it off completely. There was a single door in the hallway, and it was wedged open about a foot.
As Verity reached for the door, I reached out and grabbed her shoulder. After looking over the fallen archway I realized that the doorframe was supporting the majority of the weight of the ceiling. It wasn’t designed to be load bearing, and there was a good chance if the door was moved it could cause more of the hallway to cave in.
While we planned our approach, we talked once more about needing to reach the surface as soon as possible. Remilliard was no stranger to combat, and I hoped that he had been able to fend off their attackers, if that is indeed what happened. I found myself nervously chewing on my lip as we talked. My thoughts briefly drifted to Cynifrith. While he wasn’t at the Senate during the attack, he was somewhere in Oppara, and Martella had said the city was in chaos. I could only pray they were both safe.
None of us were familiar with a place called the Dig in the city, but Oliver pointed out that Martella may have been cut off mid-word in her message. There are a great many places with words like dignitary, dignified and the like in Oppara. While it wasn’t much to go on, it was certainly better than nothing.
We concluded that there wasn’t really much in the hallway that could be used to shore up the ceiling, and decided our best course of action was to try and make our way through the opening in the doorway as carefully as we could. Unfortunately, that plan went to pieces almost immediately, A loop on Verity’s coat got caught on the door as she tried to wiggle through. The door opened further, and we could all hear the ceiling groan. Verity dove through the now open doorway. Oliver turned, almost tackling Felyx to get her out of the way of the falling debris, pushing her back into me as parts of the ceiling bounced off of his shoulders. The dust cleared, and we all braced ourselves for more of the ceiling to fall, but luckily that seemed to be the worst of it.
I told our companions to be very careful before we made our way through the now fully opened door. The hallway beyond took a slight curving turn, before we entered an area that was most likely a reception hall. There was a desk across from a closed door. Above the desk was a painting of rather dignified looking Taldane nobles, dressed in the old style togas. Their faces had been defaced with various colors of paint, almost making them look reptilian. I didn’t have much time to take this in, as all of my attention was drawn to the red kobold crouched behind the desk, holding a bomb with a lit fuse as he eyed all of us warily.
There was a good ten seconds of silence as no one moved, and then slowly the kobold raised one clawed hand and snuffed out the fuse, lowering the bomb and saying something in a language I didn’t understand. Thankfully, Cornelius did, and told us that the kobold’s name was Mimips, and introduced us to him.
After a few moments of conversation, Cornelius told us that Mimips was originally from the River Kingdoms, but left his tribe to pursue the art of alchemy. He hoped to travel as far south as Thuvia to learn from the masters there. For now, he was an adventurer of sorts, using salvage right laws to spelunk through old ruins and gather up any useful items to sell. It was a rather ingenious plan actually.
Mimips had only been here a week or two, and told us that a floating ball had locked him into this part of the archives. Twelve had been rather annoyed by Dagio’s thefts, and I’m sure he hadn’t been thrilled when Mimips began citing salvage rights as a reason to take what little was left in the archives. When we asked about the Senate of Circles, Mimips told us it was further ahead, past a “ghost door.” Apparently, the door to the Senate of Circles weeps blood that will form into circles on the walls if someone lingers too long. While I had originally thought that Senator Glendower had become the walcofinde, now that I thought about it a little more, this seemed unlikely. Twelve did say his ritual had failed and he was disintegrated. Perhaps it was his spirit haunting the door.
When we asked about the door near his “shop,” Mimips told us it led to a large sinkhole that would take us into the Darklands. It is how he was able to get into the senate archives. That is a place that we had best leave alone. If Mimips had found his way in, I’m sure other far less amicable creatures could as well.
We took a moment to look at his wares. Cornelius was interested in a magical cloak that could enhance his own nature resistances, and he had five healing potions as well. While Cornelius haggled with Mimips, Oliver and I returned to the meeting room near the panic rooms to collect the crystal decanters we had left behind in order to trade. Mimips had originally tried to upcharge us a bit, but Cornelius was able to talk him down to an even trade of goods
We thanked Mimips for his help, and continued past his shop towards the haunted door. I glanced back to see our companions making their way into the room. Mimips was gesturing at his wares, giving them a toothy grin. I noticed Lady Gael smiling as she began sketching Mimips in her journal.
The hallway leading to the Senate of Circles was long, ending in a large, iron bound door that Oliver noticed was slightly ajar. About halfway down the hallway stood a statue of a man. He had an unnerving leer on his face, and held a scepter in one hand pointing towards the door. Like the painting in the reception room, the statue was dressed in the toga like robes in classical Taldane style.
Verity, Felyx and I made our way up to the statue. An inscription on the statue read “Eros Glendower. Immortality within grasp.” I was taking a closer look at the scepter, thinking that perhaps it was a clue of some sort when I began to notice the coppery smell of blood. I looked around and saw bloody circles beginning to form on the walls and floor. I started to raise a hand, intending to call on Ragathiel to provide me with healing magics to subdue the haunting, when Felyx called out to Abadar, channeling positive energy into the hallway. This rush of divine power was enough to dissipate the circles.
Oliver and I knew that the spirit would return unless we discovered what was keeping it from passing on, and fulfilled its wishes. We all hurried through the door into the Senate or Circles, which was surprisingly bereft of the circles we had seen drawn almost everywhere else.
I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting the Senate of Circles to be, but what we found was certainly not it. The room was large, built like a circular amphitheater or lecture hall. The chandelier hanging from the ceiling was providing magical light, but it was giving it off in strange pulses that gave the room a surreal look. In the center of the room, black scorch marks covered the floor, radiating outward and over some of the nearby desks. There was a clear spot of wood showing the outline of a man in the fetal position. It was not hard to infer that this is where Senator Glendower met his fate.
Even more bizarre than this were the rats sitting in the seats around the room. They all turned to look at us, giving out an angry squeak as if we had interrupted a debate or lecture. Sitting on the teacher’s podium was a large rat, nearly the size of a halfling. White painted circles covered his dark fur. A small, glowing golden sphere floated around his head. In his front paws, he held a book, and gave us almost a disapproving look as he carefully placed a bookmark before closing it. This had to be Dagio. He sighed, telling us he had sensed our approach.
I told him we were looking for the way out. Dagio set his book off to the side, and told us that our “perfect circumference,” whatever in the nine hells that is, must be destroyed. Then he began to wave his paws in the air before him in the unmistakable way of spellcasting. I was still taking all of this in when the rats in the chairs began to surge towards us.