Thursday, December 23, 2010

Into the underworld

Well, The party was given instructions to find a clan house for a Pé Chói liquor trader in the foreign quarter. Given a primer on Vintner clans from the eastern empire, they were expected to make passable conversation with the clan elder and then ask to see the Brandy store rooms. A code phrase was given, they they were to give to the keeper of casks and this would get them access to the underworld. All went according to plan. They were left alone, to try the brew they had requested, and when they picked up the bottle, the cellar wall slid silently open. Down steep spiral stairs, and they found themselves with a very small bottle of a vintage called Orange Silken Treacle, in a sub-cellar beneath the foreign quarter. They found no obvious way out, but Suni looked for a place to set the bottle again. Once located and used as expected, (and balanced to offset a small portion of the bottle they had tasted (it wasn't actually very good, in their opinion – overly sweet, heady, syrupy)), another door opened into the sewers.

The sewers under Butrús are actually fairly well populated by her “sub” citizenry. They were fortunate enough to not open the door onto a party of people, or others, having failed to find the peephole that would tell them the coast is clear. The sewers are two levels down into the Tsu'urum, and serve as the main streets for the upper two levels, which are used and they are home to Nakomé, poor lineages of low foreigners, and the idle, lost, or dispossessed youth of the city. At least the areas they were in for the moment were considered part of the city, if only the foreign quarter, and patrolled. They stood out, as the interlopers that they were. But they went unmolested towards the main lines. When they reached the first gates, under the great walls of the city, they were told to contact a specific guard, when he was alone, present him with a token from the temple Hriháyal, and he would let them out. But when they arrived they found 6 guards at the gate, at the far end of a large chamber where several sewer lines met, and which served as a bit of a sewer life market place. As they waited to see what would happen next, they were approached by a young entrepreneur who, suspecting they were after the wealthy lower levels, offered to help them procure proper papers for access.

The sewers mark the lowest level of the Tsu'urum that were accessible to the masses of Brutus without specific authorization from the city government. A mere couple hundred years ago, Butrús had suffered an unpleasant level of uninvited attention from below. Whole families had disappeared from invasions that came from their own sub-cellars. Rumors of Shunned ones and Ssú raced through the streets and troops were sent down to secure the Tsu'urum. They chose the level of the sewers, which had been saved through the past two Ditlána, as the line of demarcation. Access below would be strictly controlled, under penalty of impalement, or worse, I suppose if some force less friendly than the city or tomb guard caught you. Above the Sewers were two Ditlána of underworld, in more active use by the Temples and clans who valued their traditional sites for rituals and observances.

As they spoke with this man, they noticed that four of the guards at the gate had taken notice of the group. The dealer, eager to avoid “Imperial entanglements”, offered a to take them to a safer site. They agreed to hire him as a guide, if he could lose the guards. Back up the sewers they all went, their new guide stopping, occasionally, to negotiate, (and allow the guards to catch up, to maintain a negotiation advantage..). It became clear to Mriga that he was also trying to make sure the party was lost, so he made mental notes of the route. Eventually they came to terms of two K per day, assuming they all survived, and considerably less if they all died.. and their new guide led them to a clan house that hid them while the guards passed. They then doubled back to the “plaza” and the guide negotiated passage through the gates, saving the party the necessity of using their token, which might now allow them to exit later by this gate. Good move..

The party passed under the City walls and out side the current city to what was, several Ditlána ago, the sewers under the old foreign quarter. Here they found evidence of whole clans, and Nakomé, whose social status was in question because of the current hostilities with Yán Kór, and a few social groups who are less social to the humans above. Specifically, they were aware of Pygmy Folk, Ahoggyá, and a clan group of Swamp Folk. They initially avoided contact with these groups. The directions they had been given were based upon re entry to the city at the SE sewer gates. But the SE gate was now guarded by a dozen guards, far more then they had been told to expect. The party had come down with only two bearer slaves, so the odds, should they try to force their way past, would be 4 to one against. They began to seek an alternative.

Though Suni had reason to believe the Pygmy folk would know of alternative entry points, Sánjesh and Mriga felt they would not be trust worthy, and might be hostile. They elected to send their new guide to speak to the Swamp Folk first, as they seemed most likely to be warm to humans. They offered simply a gift of one bottle of Orange Silken Treacle, and the chance to socialize and gossip with some outsiders. Surprisingly, this worked. They were invited in, and spent some time gossiping with the Swamp folk, They learned that the guards in this portion of the Sewers and at the gates were more numerous and more active as a result of rumors of Mu'ugalavyian activities in the Chákas. The Party told them a small amount about the Mrúr activities, and the subject of the Goddess of the Turín river came up, as Sánjesh thought perhaps, being water dwellers, they might have insights or know legends. The party learned that the last known manifestations of the Goddess were a up in the area of the Lushman Canal project, and the Swamp folk had heard of these drowned undead, and several of the strange “bounties” that they had encountered emanating from the caves (mushrooms, Étla, etc) had been noted at that time. This was 2000 years ago, and the dates coincided with the alleged authorship of the book they were seeking. As it turned out, no one much liked the Orange Silken Treacle..

It was agree that the swamp folk would show the group a way into the Sewers under the city.

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