Standing in the doorway of the Alchemist’s Tower, the blood drained from Sherman’s face as he looked out onto streets swarming with green-eyed undead shambling and stumbling toward them.
“How many?”, said Eirik, limbering up his massive shoulders and arms ready for the coming fight.
“Err… all of ’em, I think”, said Sherman. Eirik’s face went blank with thought.
“Door?”, asked Sherman. “Door”, Eirik nodded, and they started looking around for something to bar the door with.
Sherman swiftly slammed the door shut and threw the bolts. Spying a wooden bar standing to one side he barred the door while Eirik started dragging what furniture remained intact in the lobby to build a barricade. While Eirik built their defenses, Sherman went back upstairs to see if the three supernaturally animated former-adventurers were still making their way down. Hiding out behind the cylinders in the laboratory a few floors up he first heard then saw the three discomposing figures, now with heads intact, head downstairs towards Eirik. With the way down blocked, Sherman headed up - Eirik was on his own.
Back on the ground floor, Eirik had piled every piece of furniture he could find up against the door. There was no way they were getting through that, he thought. But while moving the furniture he had found a manhole cover in the floor and, prying it up with a large poker he found nearby, stared down into a dark, dank chamber beneath the tower. Just then, as Eirik looked around expecting to see Sherman come back down the stairs he caught a glimpse of blood-stained, decaying clothing on the three figures coming down the stairs. Without hesitation, Eirik jumped into the hole. From the septic room, he made his down again into the sewers underneath the city and moved off in a direction he figured was towards the way they’d entered the city. Sherman would just have to catch up.
At the top of the tower, Sherman made his way up into a loft, then through a window out on to a narrow ledge. Looking down he saw crowds of green-eyed figures in disarray milling around the base of the tower and up and down surrounding streets. It was a long climb down the rough stone walls to some nearby buildings, but with the tower surrounded by these creatures it was his only way out. Sherman started the climb down but the tower was in worse condition than he thought and after only a few minutes climbing a piece of stonework came loose under his hand. Flailing for a grip, Sherman’s fingers brushed past a narrow sill; failing to find purchase he fell backward into darkness.
Eirik didn’t have to go very far before he noticed another manhole cover above him. Climbing up the rusty ladder, he shouldered the cover aside and poked his head up through the hole. A few hundred yards away, the undead were still swarming around the base of the tower, banging against the barred door. Glancing up, Eirik saw a barely discernible figure climbing down the side of the tower. “Outstanding! Looks like Sherman made it”, he thought. Then he watched in horror as the figure separated from the wall, fell towards the buildings below, and hit the ground hard. “Damn”, thought Eirik, “I guess Sherman didn’t make it after all.”
Sherman shook his head and lay there for a few minutes, wondering about the name of the warhorse that had hit him. When he finally got around to moving, he checked for damage - arms, check; legs, check; back, intact; ribs, OK; head, still attached. Wow, thought Sherman, I am one super-lucky SOB, that fall shoulda killed me. Resuming his climb down from the building he’d landed on, he was soon in the streets and running away from the tower at full speed.
Eirik meanwhile, was on the run again. It didn’t seem to matter which way he went, the undead were everywhere. Rounding a corner at full speed, Eirik froze. Ahead of him, a large crowd of green-eyed exanimate figures, a single figure out front rushing towards him, arms flailing - their leader? Eirik drew his sword and prepared for the fight of his life as the leader ran towards him, then stopped. “Eirik?”, it said. “Sherman!?!?”
Looking at each other, then at the crowds of undead behind each of them there seemed no escape, no doorways or windows in the buildings to either side. Then, Sherman spotted a small hole in the base of a wall. “Hole?”, said Sherman. Glancing over, Eirik nodded, “Hole”, and they both dived through.
Falling through the hole in the brick wall, they found themselves in a huge open hall, unfamiliar and complex looking machinery all around. Quickly running across the hallway towards a ladder on the far wall, they climbed up to an overlooking gangway and balcony, then waited, watching the hole intently for glowing green eyes. None came for several minutes, so our adventurers decided to rest a while and recover their wits.
After some time resting and recounting tales of their adventures, sharing some liquor Sherman had in a small flask, they felt much better and, after investigating some abandoned rooms off the balcony, decided to move on. Spying another manhole cover in the floor of the cavernous hall, they figured staying out of sight of the undead by moving beneath the city streets was a better plan than trying to fight their way through, and they headed off back into the sewers and the undercity.
After a brief but tense fight with some Spiderlings blocking the corridor with their webs, the pair were stopped in their tracks by a deep, square shaft at a four-way intersection of streets. Narrow ledges worked their way around the shaft while hundreds of steps around the edges led down into the darkness. A dropped stone put the depth at a few hundred feet before hitting water - a well, perhaps? They both made it along the ledges to the other side but soon found their way blocked again, this time by a cave-in and some suspiciously deep water.
Making their way back to the shaft to try another passageway, Eirik was unlucky on this trip across the ledges and one gave way underfoot, sending him plunging into darkness. Tensing before he hit bottom, Eirik landed with an almighty splash, but found the water to be only about chest deep so struggled to stand for only a few seconds.
Sherman clambered down the many steps, calling for his friend as he went. Hearing his cries far below, Eirik responded, “I’m OK, don’t come down here!” Another splash and Sherman also flurried to his feet. He looked at Eirik.
“What did you say?”
Eirik just shook his head, recovered his torch - which was, miraculously, still burning - and headed off into the darkness, muttering under his breath.
Sloshing through the chest-high water was hard going and with no real sense of direction seemed pointless, but they had limited choices right now. Walking for some time, Eirik still muttering to himself, Sherman noticed that a pronounced echo had become noticeable. “Echo..o…o…o…o…o…o”, said Sherman. Eirik returned to shaking his head.
Without warning and little flurry, Sherman suddenly disappeared under the water. Fearing that his friend had fallen down an unseen hole, Eirik immediately started feeling around under the water and in only a few seconds grabbed something and pulled as hard as he could. Sherman broke the surface with Eirik holding him up by his arm. Wrapped around Sherman from head to toe was a tendril or tentacle, the head of something rapidly thrashing from side to side a few feet away.
The thing tightened it’s hold on Sherman, literally squeezing the life from him as Sherman struggled to free one of his many daggers from a hidden sheath. Eirik swiftly brought the torch into contact with the tendril which hissed and steamed from the heat. The thing’s head whipped around to face Eirik - an eerily human, child-like face with a mouth full of squirming, writhing worm-like appendages and a larger, inner tentacle which lashed out towards Eirik’s face.
A dagger thrust and cuts from Sherman, Eirik pounding the head with the butt of the torch, and the thing started to loosen it’s grip. Then with a bone-chilling screech let Sherman free completely and fell back into the water. Sherman looked around for his torch but it was gone, lost in the struggle. Down to their last torch, they continued on.
Soon, forming out of the darkness, just on the edge of the torchlight, they could make out dozens of gigantic columns, each perhaps 50-60 feet across, arranged in rows a couple of hundred feet or so apart, heading off into the darkness and up towards an unseen roof. What was this place? An old Dwarven mine perhaps? Checking the torch to see if they could tell which direction a slight breeze was coming from, they headed off again.
Eirik thought he could see some light, far off in the distance, and while they stopped to discuss it, Sherman noticed that the water level appeared to be rising. In fact, without them moving at all the water level was rapidly creeping up his chest, and what was that whooshing noise, like a river or waterfall? They turned around together and looked to the limit of the torchlight behind them.
The water was now sloping… towards them. Funny, thought Sherman, water’s not supposed to slope.
Next Session: Wave Goodbye