24 Eleint 1384 D.R.
Year of Three Streams Blooded
Having dealt with the immediate threat, the party began to assess their situation. Nine dead figures lay in the dirt, six of whom were nearly naked, and covered in tattoos and body paint. Two were dressed in rags, and filthy, to boot, and one lay face-down just outside the cave mouth, wrapped in dark green robes, a nasty sickle still gripped tightly in his hand.
Investigating the corpses, and, perhaps, looking for a bit of coin, it was discovered that the two in rags had the same tattoos as the others under their clothes, hidden from view. More curious, however, were the tiny tattoos of snakes behind each corpse’s right ear. Further examination proved that every corpse had the same tattoo, and the party knew they had at last found the Cult of the Asp.
Venturing into the cave, the party found another corpse in the dirt, his throat slit wide open, a puddle of blood growing beneath him. Perhaps this was the third voice from earlier?
A passage was found behind a pile of refuse, and the party carefully crept through the darkness into a man-made tunnel. After about 20 feet, the passage split, heading east and west, with a massive brass bell hung from a sturdy framework.
Quietly, the adventurers made their way to the east, where they found a four-way intersection, lit by torches. Ahead, it appeared the passage forked northeast and southeast, but directly to either side of the party stood stout wooden doors.
Carefully, Rummy edged open the door to the south, revealing a large mess hall of sorts, with a small group of tattooed individuals sitting at a table in a far corner. While Mesmer and Tonan, who still wasn’t acting quite himself, watched the other door, Rummy, Badrick and Anders rushed into the room, weapons drawn. They met the cultists head-on, and laid them to waste, but the noise of battle could not have gone unnoticed, could it have?
The three quickly investigated the rest of the room, and, finding nothing of value, returned to the hallway, where Mesmer and Tonan (mostly Mesmer, for Tonan wasn’t talking much) reported no other disturbances aside from the faint sounds of battle through the apparently very noise-proof mess hall door.
Steeling themselves for another battle, and readying their weapons, the party slowly forced open the door to the north, prepared to charge inside. However, rows and rows of double bunks, nearly half of which were occupied by sleeping forms, gave them pause. After several minutes and much debate, it was decided that it was too risky to try to dispatch everyone in the room, so the door was shut quietly and Mesmer placed a spell of Alarm upon it, to alert the party if the door was opened at a later time.
Creeping further down the corridor, and to the fork, the party assessed the area and decided Rummy would investigate the southern passage first, where a heavy curtain hung, concealing the rest of the tunnel. Rummy crept behind the curtain and into a winding passage until he came upon another curtain. A foul odor emanated from somewhere beyond the curtain, and Rummy fought the urge to gag. Carefully pulling aside the second curtain, Rummy discovered the source of the stench a moment before it reached his nose in full force: a large room whose floor was completely covered in human waste. Two nearly naked men, with rags wrapped around their faces, wearily used heavy push-brooms to shove the offal into bowl-shaped indentations in the floor, where it disappeared. The men gazed up at Rummy, but returned to their labors, a look of defeat in their eyes.
Rummy turned around and headed back to the party, leaving the men to their disgusting task, and the party then sent him into the northeast passage, where the soft glow of torchlight flickered.
Rummy returned a few moments later, backing carefully down the hall, a male figure in tow. Rummy held one arm around the man’s neck, and used his other hand to grip a dagger he held to the man’s ribs. The party began to interrogate their prisoner, and seemed to be making some progress, when the man suddenly began stabbing a sharp object into Rummy’s leg over and over.
Rummy plunged his dagger to the hilt, and ended the man, but the damage was done: at the floor by his feet lay a small dart, the tip covered in blood, and the rest of the shaft coated in a milky liquid. Rummy staunched the flow of blood, and luckily was not affected by whatever foul venom the dart had delivered into his leg.
The party dragged the body into the northern passage, and searched a large room full of crates for any obvious treasure. It was soon apparent, however, that it would take entirely too long to ransack the whole room, so they gave up on their search with the intention to return later, when they had more time. Before leaving, however, they discovered two expensive vases and several large, ornately framed paintings portraying the grounds of Drestyn Manor: a possible tie to the murder of Drestyn?
Heading back the way they came, the party passed the barracks room, whose door still bore the enchantment Mesmer had laid upon it, and headed for the western passage beyond the bell-chamber.
The passage sloped sharply down, and curved north and then further, to the east, before leveling out and emptying into a large chamber lit by heavy braziers and lined with tables full of dark green robes of all sizes. Two passages curled out of the room, one each to the north and south.