The First Work

An Interlude

While the group rested after disposing of the guard drakes, something about the altar to Tiamat and its hidden markings honoring Orcus nagged at the corner of Irisil’s consciousness. He turned the discovery over and over in his mind, but no satisfying response to the persistence of the half-thought came. When the adventurers rose in the morning, he took his leave of them, explaining that something, indeed, was afoot, but that he lacked the resources to specify the nature of the threat. “In any case, none but a fool would wander through rooms dedicated to Orcus without knowing his enemy.” “We get nothing for the blood we’ve already spilled here if we turn back now,” said Richard. “Case in point,” responded Irisil. Richard moved away, studying the nearest array of skulls. Gudrun spoke up, “He has a point. If we leave now, the kobolds will just regroup and dig in. I’ve heard stories of their building fortifications in generational nests. We’ll have to fight our way through more of them to arrive at the same point.” Maya’s voice drifted from the shadows on the far side of the pit. “We could always force them to give us the information you need,” she offered. “You would trust our lives—sorry. Forget I said that. You would trust my life to information gathered from a creature that lives in a hole? Ridiculous. Do what you like.” With that, Irisil disappeared. The remaining adventurers looked at each other in the dim light. Their expressions were impossible to read.

Irisil pulled his robe closer to him. Only three days since the Lord Warden’s council chamber, and the weather had already turned cold. It seemed as though Pelor’s own hand had pulled autumn from the cycle this year. The night air seemed to pulse with the cold. A dim shape resolved itself out of the night at a hundred and fifty paces. Irisil, weighing the possible irritation of a prolonged conversation against the unpleasantness of dispatching a kobold raiding party on his own, swiftly prepared a ball of light and, when the figure was close enough that Irisil could make out the tattered sigil of the Raven Queen picked out against a grey tunic, he sent it arcing through the night. Irisil narrowed his eyes at the strange cleric’s lack of reaction. The man just raised a hand to shield his eyes and continued toward him. When he was within polite hailing distance, the cleric said, “Traveler. The Raven Queen’s blessing on you.” Irisil did not reply. “I seek Kobold Hall.” “You and everyone else in this Ioun-forsaken backwater.” “Is it far?” “Follow the road until the ridge. You’ll see a ruined keep east of the road. There’s a hole in the ground with the shrieks of dying adventurers escaping from it. You can’t miss it.” “My thanks.” “Wait…” “The cleric turned.” “Could you sign this statement?” “I see no statement.” “Well, this blank parchment. It’s a record of the helpful things I do. Thanks. Just initial there. I’ll fill in the rest. Good night to you.” “And you.” The harsh call of a raven sounded as the cleric disappeared around the bend. A few hours’ steady walking found Irisil pounding on the portcullis of the Knight’s Gate in Fallcrest’s northern wall just before sunrise. A sleepy guard challenged him. “Open up.” “Can’t. Regulations.” “This is more important than your regulations. Besides, I’m hungry.” “Tell you what, if I open it, you get caught by the city watch, you tell ‘em Sergeant Nereth let you in.” Then, under his breath, “Been looking for a way to do him brown.” Ignoring this, Irisil asked “Why would the city watch stop me?” “Well, you’re an odd looking bugger, ain’t you? Which its not common to see an eladrin around here anyways.” The guard disappeared and there was a rattle of chains. The portcullis opened, and Irisil hurried by, the gate already forgotten. “Remember, Nereth sent you, called the man after him,” but Irisil was already around the corner. A half hour later, he was knocking on the wooden door of the Septarch’s tower. The halfling apprentice opened the door, and Irisil pushed his way in. “Is the Septarch in?” “He’s sleeping…can I help you?” “I suppose it would not be exceeding your abilities to show me the library?” Irisil said, looking around. The halfling made a face, but Irisil did not notice. Irisil was led up the stairs. The sound of their feet was soon muffled by the immensity of the stone walls twisting around them.

Across the Nentir to the north and west, Athanasius found his way to the trapdoor beneath the ruined guard tower as the sun was rising. Inside, he smiled in satisfaction as he saw the broken remains of kobolds filling the sludge pit. He made his way between the coffins, spitting in the direction of Tiamat’s altar. Hearing human voices in the next room, he stepped out into the middle of the floor.

Maya and Gudrun were discussing their plan for exploring the rest of Kobold Hall when Richard’s warning brought them around. Richard called out, “Friend or foe?”

Soon, conversation ended, and with the zealous but inexperienced cleric in tow, the group unbarred the door and proceeded to the next encounter…

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