Discovery at AD-Athiss

Vestorius and Pidmerion are in the town of Sendat staying with their friends Shyren and Shinken. In the evening they encounter the mercenary Crannoch who reminds them that they are owed payment for their efforts at Quassia’s mill. As it was he and Tiagra who negotiated the engagement, Crannoch returns to the Nine Bells tavern at the waterfront and arranges a meeting with Rayaki the procurer, with Randell the barman. Crannoch is slightly nervous as he sits with the assassin as he is not overly familiar with the intricacies of the assassin’ code. However, his fears are soon allayed as Rayaki congratulates Crannoch and his companions on their success, conveying the appreciation of the ‘commissioners,’ and asks how he would like to receive payment. This raises another concern for Crannoch as he is not confident of evaluating gemstones and does not relish the thought of walking out with a thousand silver pieces. He decides on the currency and quickly returns to his companions with more than one nervous look over his shoulder. Crannoch shares the bounty with his companions and invests in some leather armour and they go out to celebrate with a good meal and wine to discuss their next move.

Vestorius and Pidemerion relate their adventures on the way to and in the monastery and tell of their concern that there is more than meets the eye in the goings on there. The three decide to return to the monastery, this time approaching by the lake, to make a more complete search. After an uneventful journey up the lake in a small rowing craft the three come up to the monastery in the mid afternoon. They tie up at a small dock and notice the trappings of a working community with ropes and pulleys to secure goods. They approach large locked double wooden doors. After some difficulty Vestorius defeats the lock and the party open the doors to reveal a large warehousing space lit by the angling sun. The party set about a careful search of the space when Crannoch discovers a door obscured by some packing cases. Vestorius again betters the lock and the party find themselves in a gently downward sloping corridor.  At the bottom another locked door awaits them but Vestorius has the measure of this locksmith and it is open in a matter of seconds, revealing a room with a beaten earthen floor and a large circular plinth with an ornate altar in the middle.

As they step onto the plinth the party have an uncanny feeling that they have crossed some kind of threshold but are unsure as to the nature of the effect or any possible consequences. They offer verbal assurances of good intentions and respect to any listening deity but are aware of their ignorance of any of the rituals or protocols associated with Athiss the serpent divinity. After some exhaustive examination of the altar Pidmerion is inspired to start manipulating elements of the decorative engravings and more by accident than planning his strikes on a combination of actions that opens a small compartment in the centre of the altar. Inside is nothing but darkness that seems to absorb any light from the lanterns and torches held by the party. Summoning his courage Pidmerion pushes his hand into the darkness and after some moments brings out a small cylinder of obsidian. In the interests of certainty Vestorius puts his hand into the darkness but can find nothing. Some strange compulsion makes Crannoch do the same but on entering the darkness his hand is bitten near the wrist by what he can only assume is a serpent. Crannoch is terrified as he feels the venom work its way up his right arm however, when he feels the effect in his chest his is relieved not to experience a horrible death but rather a spreading of warmth through his body.

Still worried by the possibility of Crannoch’s poisoning the party decide to head back towards Sendat and the hope of healing from their female friends. They make camp in the gathering darkness and build a small fire. However as the sun fades over the mountains surrounding the lake and the shadows lengthen and deepen the party watch with horror a shadow detach itself from the gathering darkness and move autonomously towards the party. Vestorius reacts quickly and places burning torches at the shore line in an effort to retard the shadow’s inexorable progress towards them. Pidmerion incants a fire rune and doubles the size and intensity of their fire while Crannoch looses a speculative arrow at the slow moving darkness only to see it disappear with no visible effect. The darkness accelerates towards Crannoch displaying a semblance of intelligence by responding to an aggressor and envelopes him in utter blackness. However, the adrenaline or some other substance coursing through him provides him with the resources of will to resist succumbing to oblivion. Pidmerion and Vestorius both focus on the fire runes inscribed on their rapiers and force them to glow and crackle with magical vitality. This proves to be crucial as the magical fire appears to carve swaths off the dark shape. Vestorius is next to be approached by the formless darkness but his flaming rapier wards off the danger causing it to diminish somewhat. The darkness is not finished and it gathers and swirls around Pidmerion whose desperate flailing of his rapier finally dissipates the thing. However, Pidmerion’s efforts leave him vulnerable to the darkness and the last thing he sees is everlasting night.

Crannoch and Vestorius break camp and load the comatose body of Pidmerion into the boat and row for all their worth through the night to gain the town of Sendat at dawn. They convey Pidmerion to Shyren’s house and set to work with all the healing expertise at their disposal. Shryen says that Pidmerion’s condition is beyond her skill but that her mentor Sarazan might be able to help. Before she leaves, Pidmerion shows signs of recovery and over the next few hours returns to his former self much to the relief of Shynken who has developed a deep affection for the young nobleman. The party discuss what to do with the obsidian cylinder and decide that it is beyond their understanding and might bring unwanted interest in them. Shyren offers to go to Sarazan and ask advice. Meanwhile the party recoup and reflect on their experiences and start to examine the library they have liberated. Shyren returns after twenty four hours stating that Sarazan will meet with them but warn that she is not well disposed to men and can be positively antagonistic on a whim.  Later that evening Sarazan appears unannounced at Shyren’s house and is greeted by the party. After a brief discussion she asks to see the obsidian cylinder and the party agree. Indeed they go further and suggest that she keep the cylinder for further study and safekeeping. Sarazan accepts the gift and walks out of the first floor window and through the air out over the lake.