After the fight the group goes back to the wearehouse and simply bunk in for the night. Finally a good night rest! During the night, Varnag dream. He dreams that he is fighting a bunch of other fighters, elven, half-giants, thiefling, halfling… anything that is not human, and he is winning, slaughtering without trouble all those, and it feels really good… in the background, the small figurine he found in the desert temple seems to watch and approve…
The next day a shady guy introduces himself ask Rochus, a human scout that has been living in Freedom for quite a while but has always preferred to live on his own beceause he is more attuned with animals than with humans (or human-like), he has also a ‘friend’, a big lizard aptly named ‘Friend’… The guy seems knowledgable and he has the approval of Bartras to join the group to guide them along the road, he has been traveling extensively, never been in Urik but close enough.
Therai goes to talk with Bartras, asking him how is with this Azul business, and what do they know about the Shivarn Mausoleum that apparently is the origin of the problem. Also, why there are so many problems with the Trading idea, it is obvious that they have a serious political issue and if that is not resolved (in Freedom), it could seriously geopardize the whole enterprise.
Bartras agree that the matter that was supposed to be settled, ain’t. Right now, since Porgo has been disposed of, the mantle of ‘chief’ of the Wind of Vengeance has fallen on top of Aristas, a human raider that was the second in command of the Wind’s. He just returned that morning from a succesful raid, has learned of the fact and isn’t pleased at all. So, somebody has to do something about it. Therai asks what there they raiding, and where. It seems that the raiding parties moves farther on the east, prowling the trade route between Urik and Tyr in the badlands, and sometimes in the west towards the ridge.
The problem is that Freedom doesn’t have any ‘special’ resource that they can trade, the only option is to act as intermediary, buying stuff from Urik and passing to Ianto to be sold away, and only managing the ‘trade’ in the sense of moving the goods along.
About Shivarn, Bartras seems to be sort-of convinced about sending the group to the Mausoleum to check out what happened there and what are the condition, because people have gone there and usually never retourned, and this is the first time somebody returns as a sort of a “demon”.
Varnag asks if somebody in Freedom knows or can know something about that figurine he found, Bartras direct them to Valzavis, an ex- scribe slave that has taken on the mantle of the local ‘scholar’ and is trying to improve the level of education in Freedom. He is not really a “scholar”, but is the most knowledgable person in Freedom about that stuff.
Hardok asks if there is some sort of a physician in the town that can have a look at his cracked ribs, Bartras direct him to Liann, a Dwarf that acts as the local “general practicioner” and manage a local ‘sick house’.
On the road Hardok senses the mood of the place and it seems that everybody is quite worried about the whole Azul business, there is also quite a clear division between the pro and against trading, peoples can get really passionate about it.
Anyhow, he manages to find the place and meet Liann the dwarf, that immediately assault him with a “you’re one of those trading peoples eh? well get the hell out of here! I’m busy and I don’t want anything to do with you guys!”. So no joy, it seems that Liann is firmly plante in the raid’s camp and doesn’t want to do anything with anybody else… unless somebody can nudge the Wind’s position about it.
Hardok follows the direction to the ‘school house’ where Therai and the rest are talking with Valzavis, the local ‘scholar’ that is looking at the rest of Porgo and Azul and trying to figure out what the hell happened there. He relay the info about Liann’s orientation.
Therai comments that the place is very polarized, everybody is either of one or the other idea.
Valzavis seems very busy and is not really cooperative in answering questions, Therai nudges a bit using his sweet talking skills.
Shivarn is a very old place, built apparently by an ancient civilization that doesn’t exists anymore, there are legends and stories that surround the place, some stories mention that is an ancient prison of sort, some other stories mention that only very bad peoples were sent there and never came back. So not much information about it. In any event, if somebody (or something) has came out from there, maybe is worth investigating the place.
He then claim that he is busy and if they can manage to find some parts of Azul (or what’s left of him) maybe he will manage to figure out something better.
In the meantime, Varnag shows the figurine to him, and he immediately says that he has seen it before, also the ‘coin’. Varnag explains about the desert temple. Valzavis explain that there was some sort of a human cult that was a promoter of human supremacy and bent to exterminate everything else, but it stop at somepoint and he can certainly feel that there is something of magical in the statuin, and of course it would be of a value for somebody… namely, a Sorcerer King, just so nobody else has it…
Hardok, Cor and Rochus goes to Porgo’s place (or what’s left of it) and goes around the rubble and look for some remaining, luckily some peoples have been busy cleaning it, so the place is a lot more tidy than it was the previous night, and everything that looked like meat has been moved away. They manage to find some bloody remaining that Rochus identify like the heart of an half-giant… or something that looks remarkably similar to it.
While they are there, they also notices that Aristas is there, looking through the rubble and trying to get a grip with the managemnt of the ‘Winds’ first hands. And it appears clear that he isn’t happy with this story, he doesn’t like to be the ‘head’ and it seems he is only interested in the raiding. In a word, is mood is “hungry”. He is also keen on direct approach, so apparently it seems that he wants to finish what he was doing and then, overnight, go and directly attack the trading group. It is obvious that an immediate action is required or this will be the end of the entire enterprise.
They bring the heart back to Valzavis.
He studies the bloody remains a bit and then he decides that Azul was overwelmed by some kind of “elemental”, one that apparently was possessed by “Pride”. It was so strong that it mutated his being into some sort of demonic creature. And for sure, if one of them was on the lose, there are many more.
Cor informs everyone about Aristas’ plans/ideas, Therai start to think that maybe he should try to mobilitate Freedom’s women to talk some senses into the various party.
Anyhow, Therai decides to go to talk directly to Aristas and somehow, convinces him to not bother with the trading and go raiding, Aristas departs immediately so for the moment the risk is avoided. Therai in any case inform Bartas that he has to do some long term planning if he wants the trading plan to succeed.
Now that the argument with the ‘raiders’ is sort-of settled, Hardok try another time with Liann, he seems a bit less brush this time and agreed to have a look at him, he decide that the problem is that Hardok isn’t breating like he is supposed to do, and also that having an almost-broken rib is worse than having a broken one, so he proceed to ‘fix’ that… after some painfull management anyhow Hardok has to agree that he feels a lot better.
Always looking for a ‘trading’ angle, Thearai immediately propose to Liann about trading in drugs and medicinal erbs, that apparently are in great needs in the area, he also inquiry if there are possibilities to grow the stuff locally and then sell them in other cities, this could boost the popularity of Freedom and provide good trading goods.
In any event, is sort-of agreed that the group + Rochus, will go to the Shivarn Mausoleum to check it out and try to figure out what happened to Azul. Rochus says that with mounts it will be an easy 2 days trip without too many troubles.
The group collect the required supplies and leaves, Rochus upfront.
Not much happens during the trip, during the night Varnag has again strange dreams (this is getting unsettling).
At the end of the second day the group can see Shivarn like a shimmering in the distance, they also notice that the ground looks a lot more disheveled as they approach, plants and bushes looks smaller and whitering. Therai can feel a strong arcane presence in the zone, definitively a defiler presence, like something that keep draining the lifeforce from the surrounding.
Approaching Shivarn they also notices a great number of skeletons and animals’ carcasses laying around and a bunch of Kestrekel, that are not particularly dangerous unless they start to ‘swarm’. Also a lot of Kanks are scurring around.
They also realize that the idea to go to Shivarn is now ehnanced in their mind, if they wanted to go before, now they really can’t wait. Therai immediately warns the others about it and to strength their will to also leave the place.
Shivarn reveal itself to be a really huge building, square or rectangular, with very high white walls and a dome that shows from above, white statues are carved or built into the walls, they look like humanoid but with huge flapping ears and four long, curved tusks and two of elongated noses coming down from the faces, they are bipedal. A huge double door, about 5 meters high, shining and maybe made of some sort of metal, is partly open and reveal a bit of the interior.
The group inspect the statue and the doors, there are large plaques above the gate and there are markings on them, it seems some sort of writing, that Therai recognizes as Barazaat script, that is usually associate with elemental and demons. The walls looks extremely clean and unscated, it seems the walls and the entire building are survived extremely well the elements and the time. Therai attempt to decript the script on the portal and it contains the name ‘Shivarn’, that basically means “gates to hell” or something like that.
Hardok wonders how they opened and closed the doors and Therai suggests they were using the creatures depicted as doorman. Whoever “they” were. The doors also have inscriptions that report things like “protector of the worlds”, “ever vigilants”, “never relenting” and so on.
Now that the group is closer, they can feel that their emotion are amplified, but they are aware of that so they can keep it in check. Closing in, they notices that there are traces on the ground, it seems kanks are scurring in and out and it looks also that some peoples have been walking in and then out.
The doors don’t seem to be equipped with any kind of lock or mechanism to block them. There are massive rings hanging on the outside to pull the doors to closing them, but nothing much else.
Therai can sense an Arcane “wind” coming from the inside of the building, flowing outwards. And it is clear that the wall and the doors are designed to block that “wind”, and if the doors were closed the effect would be removed or strongly mitigated.
Inside, between the doors, Therai can see some sort of mist, or haze, there are Kanks scurring about and it is difficult to see, but a body is on the ground, that seems inconscius or maybe dead, but if he was dead, the Kanks would have been treated him as “food” and not much would have remained. In a rash, Therai decides to get in and check things out. He notices that inside the entrance narrows, going up in a sort of a path, and there are strange blobby things that looks like some sort of an anthill or a termite hill, but massive, there are Kanks around maybe there is a kank hive in there, there are also Kestrekel perched around. Therai can feel his emotions intensify.
The body looks like pristine and is breathing, is a human. There are tracks around, looks like the Kanks have been avoiding him.
Therai can feel himself overwelmed by a sensation of drosiness, it is not yet overpowering but it will get to that point. So Therai grab the body and start dragging him out. The Kestrekel begins to be agitated and take to the sky, circling and swarming around making a lot of noise.
Also, the Kanks inside the building react like Therai had attacked one of them, but the kanks looks messed out, they walks funny and appears not very steady, the Kank attacks Therai slashing his leg. Luckily, Therai manages to stay out of his mandibles anyway.
The Kestrekel too begins to swarm and attacks.
Everybody reacts immediately and rushes forward, what everybody thinks immediately is “how to close the door”. But the first priority is to keep the Kanks away.
Therai looks around trying to get his bearings and he realizes that the psionic influence that makes the drowsiness sensation comes from the body at his feet! He immediately yell to the others.
One of the Kank is killed by the group, Therai uses psionic attacks to disrupt the Kestrekel swarm and keep them away, Cor pull a rope from his pack and uses it to lasso the ring on the door and then pull as hard as he can in an attempt to close the door, Hardok runs in his aid and the two of them manages to close one of the door. Then they proceed to do the same for the other. In this, Rochus’s beast gives an hand (or a jaw) pulling the rope. Closing the door also means squashing one of the kanks between them, the powerful psionic wind immediately wane psionic attacks to disrupt the Kestrekel swarm and keep them away, Cor pull a rope from his pack and uses it to lasso the ring on the door and then pull as hard as he can in an attempt to close the door, Hardok runs in his aid and the two of them manages to close one of the door. Then they proceed to do the same for the other. In this, Rochus’s beast gives an hand (or a jaw) pulling the rope. Closing the door also means squashing one of the kanks between them, the powerful psionic wind immediately wane.
Everybody turns against the lying body, that require a lot of strength to be attacked since his action are mental and makes peoples just giving up and lying down. Hardok is hit by a mental blast that leaves a mark (and he just had his ribs fixed!).
The door is closed, so the influence of Shivarn is momentarily in check. The Kestrekel scatters.
Still, there is no way apparently to close it permanently. Therai notices that while he was inside he saw that on the inside the doors had no rings or other meaning to open them, so they must have been opened from the outside.
Now Therai can takes his time to translate the writing on the doors and the building to figure out what the building is about.