When Dimweir woke, I chastised him for running ahead. Asakku told us that most of the sewers lead to massive chasms beneath the city, so the sewage flows directly into these chasms, or so Asakku told us. Knowing that the Drow, in number, are very dangerous. Retreating up to the crossroads, we paused to decide what direction to go. We elected to investigate a way that sounded like a waterfall flowing. The other direction had voices echoing down the corridor.
We came upon a locked, barred room filled with bedrolls. My heart beat faster. Perhaps the kidnapped women were kept down here? Erevel crept forward to examine the lock before she abruptly stumbled backwards a pace when a man in black-studded leather and wearing a black rat mask slapped her across the face from the other side of the door. Asakku snarled, charging up to the door and ramming his spear through the space between the bars and into the offending man. The man crumpled to the ground with a strangled, gurgling sound.
Blinking and shaking her head, Erevel again bent to the task of picking the lock. It opened with a click, and we entered the room. The others checked to see if he had anything of use. They collected a few odds and ends here and there. Triss saw to Erevel’s facial wound, and I approached the door, kicking it open with an armored boot.
The room had a desk, several chests, a desk, and a few other odds and ends. I’d heard whispers from beyond. I knew I did. But… There was no one there. Darvin opened his senses to detect magic around us, and saw nothing other than the corpse’s lingering aura of power. In the chests, Erevel discovered stacks of neatly folded black robes. I took the opportunity to count the number of bedrolls, but it didn’t match the number of women missing.
Darvin, Erevel, and Triss donned the black robes. Asakku eschewed the decision to change his clothes, though he was hardly dressed like a paladin or holy avenger. My thorn-covered armor doesn’t much look like a paladin (which is something I’ve been meaning to rectify), but either way, we are somewhat disguised.
We walked along the path awhile longer and discovered a whirlpool of sewage. Backtracking, we took the other path. We discovered a cage with a humanoid figure in it along with several torches. There was a five-foot tall wall blocking the way with several men standing around it. Asakku slunk forward, pressing himself against the wall at their feet.
Darvin spoke up, warning them that there were people in the sewers. I reinforced the lie telling them that someone was down here killing members of the order. One of the men charged off, and the other lingered. Darvin told him we needed to move the women, and he released the monstrosity and fled. Asakku tried to climb the wall to pursue the man, but the undead beast turned to attack him. Asakku narrowly avoided him.
We slew the monster, and I knelt, boosting everyone up onto the wall one after another. From above, I could hear the sounds of battle, but I waited until I was certain all my allies were safely above. I then scaled the wall, grunting as my heavy armor pulled down on me. Erevel “helped” by grabbing my helmet and yanking. I think she meant well, but I’m not sure it did much.
By the time I reached the top of the wall, the brief scuffle had ended. Walking further into the room, we saw a door, behind which we heard muffled sobbing. I glanced at everyone, and they all nodded in the faint light. Taking a breath, I pushed the door open, hoping we found the women.
The door swung inward, revealing the missing women all chained to the walls and a horrible-looking man wearing rags and looking like a corpse. He asked what order we hail from, and we spoke to him, attempting to ascertain what had happened. The “King of the Sewer” informed us the women were there for breeding purposes. I looked around, and saw that many of them were in various stages of pregnancy. My jaw clenched so tightly, I could swear my teeth nearly crushed.
“And what is that creature in the corner?” I gestured toward a crouched man in the corner. The thing looked like an unholy cross between a man and a rodent. It bore a long, naked tail and yellowed teeth. Fur burst out of its flesh in uneven patches, and it watched us with dark, beady eyes.
“A pet. Nothing more.”
No part of me believed him. Not that there would have been cause to. The rage I’d been trying to quell filled me, and I stepped forward, glaring at him, my words biting. “You are done here.”
He quailed, pressing back into the throne. “We will be gone by dawn. If you’ll just let us—”
“Not good enough,” Darvin hissed, moving around me, lifting his hands. A hellstorm of fire engulfed the throne, scorching the Rat King’s oily rags and sending the stench of burning hair and meat into the room.
The Rat King shrieked and howled, his body shifting and popping as he shifted into a horrible rat-like creature. I grit my teeth, leaving him to the others as I charged after the so-called pet in the corner, drawing my silvered sword.
The monster fled before me. I growled in annoyance. Why does everything have to run? Don’t they know this armor is heav— Actually, they probably do know this armor is heavy. That’s why they do it. Just as I came up to the creature, it latched its teeth into Dimweir’s face. He began screaming and thrust his sword into the thing’s gut several times.
Erevel saved him, firing an arrow through the Rat King’s eye and out the back of his head. I caught the corpse, prying its jaws open to free Dimweir’s face from its grip. I then pressed a hand to his face, calling on the power of my faith. The wounds closed under my fingers, and he staggered back, panting.
Examining the women’s bondage, we found no keys to open their shackles—clearly they were never going to be freed. If the Rat King were not already dead, I would have killed him a second time. And perhaps a third. I lacked words for the rage that boiled up in my chest.
Erevel, true to her nature, approached the chest the moment combat ended, exploring it. She fiddled with the lock for a moment before acid poured over her, and she screeched in pain. Triss did what she could to soothe the wounds, but they remained red and angry on her skin. Gritting her teeth and fighting the pain, Erevel deployed her unique skillset to help free women as well as she could. It didn’t take long for the poison to overwhelm her.
“I’m sorry,” she gasped, her pale skin showing a fine sheen of sweat in the torchlight. “I need to get to a healer. Now. I’m not sure if—”
“Go,” Darvin said, and the rest of us echoed his sentiment. She’d done everything she could and risked her life to do so. None of us faulted her need to seek help.
Darvin, Triss, Dimweir, Asakku and I broke the chains of the remaining women. They babbled thanks, some of them collapsing into tears as soon as their bonds were released.
As soon as we freed all of them, the five of us surrounded them, our eyes on the darkness as we encouraged them onward to the surface.
It wasn’t a quick procession, but we made it. At the mouth of the entry into the sewers, we found Erevel sitting against a building, her face drawn and breath coming in weak, ragged gasps. Dimweir and I hefted her up between us, carrying her as we made our way to the Citadel. Dawn had broken, and our prtrollss drew many eyes as the six of us, all weary, covered in filth, and armed to the teeth, walked in a semicircle around the nude women we guarded.
Despite success in saving them, I feared they may not be saved since they could well be infected. Even if they were not infected, the babes they carried may well kill them to deliver. All I could do was pray to Bahamut to preserve them.
When we arrived at the Citadel, I sent for someone to help the women and Erevel and sunk down to sit against the wall while we waited for someone to come down to talk to us. It didn’t take long for a cleric of our order to see to Erevel. He smiled and lay a hand on her chest. Her breathing eased, and her color returned, leaving her looking weak and tired, but alive. We thanked him profusely, but he just laughed. “No one has died. It is a good day.”
We all looked at each other. Dimweir scoffed. “It’s dawn.”
“I know. Glorious, isn’t it?” The cleric laughed and shook his head, heading off into the city with a wave of his hand.
We all chuckled. Triss took Erevel back to the inn to bathe and have a well-deserved rest. None of us objected, though Triss looked like she would have accepted any excuse to escape before someone came to discuss the situation.
An hour later, a tall, broad man in highly-polished armor strode over to us, calling out to others to come and tend the women. He sounded furious that they’d been left for so long in the chill morning air. I didn’t recognize him, but the air of authority and the way everyone leapt to do his bidding suggested he was of some high standing.
When he reached us, the man identified himself as the head of our order. I provided my report regarding what we discovered in the sewers. Darvin looked over at me with a considering expression before stepping forward. “My Lord Commander, I wanted to express my concern that the situation in the sewers was… exacerbated by the neglect of one Commander Baen.”
I felt my mouth go dry, and I studied the cobblestones while the two conversed. “I see,” the Lord Commander said, his eyes hardening. “I shall take that under advisement.”
I took a deep breath and straightened. “I also wished to address something, sir.”
He turned his eyes to me, a brow raised.
“Initiate Dimweir performed admirably and showed the bravery and compassion that our order represents. He should know he did very well.”
The commander’s eyes softened a little, and a smile played at the edges of his mouth. “I see. Do you believe he is ready to be a full paladin of the order?”
I shook my head. “Not yet. I believe he needs more field experience than he currently has, though when he possesses it, I foresee that he will be an asset to our cause.”
“Ah. I see. Tell me, whose squire is he?”
“Sir Baen’s,” I said, trying to keep the hate out of my voice.
“Hm. Well, I see a solution to the problem. Sir Baen neglected his duties and has not been training our young friend. You have a new kingdom which is uncharted wilds. I shall send him with you. He shall not be your squire, you understand, but you shall take command of his training.”
I bowed my head. Oh, that boy would be so furious. At least he would be receiving proper training now. Darvin and the Lord Commander spoke for a short time longer, discussing affairs of state before he departed, leaving us in the courtyard.
As soon as the meeting concluded, we stumbled back to the inn to bathe and sleep. To be honest, I was glad I wear plate armor—at least it cleans easily.