Game Time: Monday afternoon to dawn, Tuesday
As the party crossed the bridge over the sewer on the way back to the bolt-hole, Zoran noted that someone had hung some oil lanterns around the portcullis door, and immediately perked up. "Reinforcements have arrived – let us go and see them!" When everyone arrived the bolt-hole was pretty crowded: Ilian's reinforcements had indeed arrived, kitted out for D-Day and then some.
The reinforcements are Katherine, Nikolai, Michelle, Svetlana, Ivan, and Yurgal. Katherine (Katya) is a tiefling with amber skin, reddish-blonde hair, and ivory-colored horns. She's got a pair of short swords hanging from her armor and is probably hiding other weapons. She's clearly in charge, and after a little conversation with Lenora they discover that one of her cousins served in the diplomatic corps with her. Nikolai (Kolya), Michelle (Chelya), and Svetlana (Sveta) are all halflings with similar complexions – dark curly hair and brown or black eyes. The first two are fastidious about their slings and sling bullets, but Sveta seems to prefer her brightly polished daggers. Chelya looks like she could be related to Stamat. Kolya and Chelya both carry leather bandoliers with a half-dozen bulky apple-sized pockets on the front, and wear light
leather armor. Ivan (Vanya) is a very dark-skinned human with a wooden left arm and pale scars raking down the left side of his neck and face. He keeps the wooden arm covered with a chain mail sleeve, and there are little leather thongs all along the inside of the wrist for strapping down daggers like the ones Sveta uses. It looks like he could strap a shield to the hand as well, but he hasn't brought one along to the bolt-hole. Yurgal Runeshield (Sergei) is a quiet dwarf who looks like a hirsute tuna-can. He's short, stout, hairy as they come, and wears heavy plate armor. He carries a shield with an emblem of Kord on it, and it's sized for someone Ivan's height, so it serves to cover almost his entire body. He also carried in a pair of casks for the encampment: one with stew, and one with alcohol so strong that he uses it to polish his armor.
In the presence of Katya, Zoran's demeanor changed completely: rather than hang back quietly, he field-strips his gear like an old professional, saluted smartly, and headed out to take his turn patrolling the nearby area and to check his trap lines. Katya's squad (Cat Squad) have been sent by Ilian to wipe out the rats' nest that Zoran and Stamat discovered, but once they learned that the party had [[Session Summary 9-29-09 | achieved their objective for them]], they were happy to have the extra help around. When Kate heard that there are undead in the lower catacombs – and that [[Session Summary 10-21-09 | the lower catacombs have been opened]] – she became much more nervous. The prospect of holding ground near the Stone Quarter with Grigory's rats on one flank and undead on the other is not comfortable, and she doesn't have the manpower to withstand both sets of enemies.
Katya offered the bolt-hole as a place for the party to recover and share food, and Bree offered to season the meal by magic so that it would taste better than hard-tack and jerky. Rache and Darg entertained their hosts with a song after supper – Rache having been an entertainer at a bar, and Darg having always been musically-inclined. They knew different versions of the lyrics but managed to muddle through a pleasant rendition of "The Bear and the Crown". Some of the halflings sang a song that Bree knew, and after a few more songs and a toast to new allies, the whole group was relaxed and enjoying each other's company.
Katya insisted on following her orders – keep watch, secure the area – so the entire party was allowed a leisurely extended rest. Just before dawn the next day, Kolya woke up Lenora who quietly got everyone else up and at 'em. They began discussing how to prepare the ritual to help Terciel speak the language of the undead, and Kolya didn't hesitate for a second. He woke the rest of the reinforcements, who dutifully mumbled the incantation according to Bree's instructions, and Terciel was once again able to understand the weird hissing and screeching of the undead warriors.
Zoran escorted the group across the bridge back to the Map Room. A few minutes' fiddling with pitchers and noxious goop, and Bree had the Map Room door open again. The group headed back to the catacombs and decided to investigate the stairwell that smelled like flowers. As soon as Terciel came to the bottom of the steps, the source of the exotic scent was immediately obvious: at the bottom of the stairs was a fairly large chamber with thick black soil on the floor along the left and right walls, and a variety of bushes and flowers were thriving in the darkness. There were orange roses that stood for remembrance winding their way through many of the bushes, but most of the other flowers and vines were milky-white and translucent like nightcrawlers from sitting in the dark so long. Staggered all along the thicker vines were needle-like thorns as long as a hand. A few other brightly-colored blue and violet flowers poked out from within the clusters of bushes, seemingly unaffected by the darkness. At the far end of the room, a spiral staircase descended into the floor, and three fountains were visible, glowing with a dim violet light. They burbled with crystal-clear water, and were surrounded by thick carpets of dark purple moss.
Terciel took a few tentative steps into the room, and a clattering buzz sounded from the shrubs in the corners. Three large bat-like insects burst from the nearby bushes and flew directly towards him, long hollow needle-noses extended. One of them bounced from his wrist; another plunged its proboscis into Terciel's neck, splayed its thick leathery wings over itself for protection, and then began slurping down gulp after gulp of his delicious Eladrin blood. At the scent of blood, the vines (plants da-doop) came alive and crawled across the floor, eager to feed on the blood they smelled (yum da-doop). The vines writhed and lashed about – one of them grabbing Lenora around the neck and one going after Thea. All of the commotion roused a few vicious stinging stick insects (bugs da-doop) which buzzed in to scavenge anything they could. Lenora, Thea, and Terciel staggered through the garden, tearing the mosquito-bat-things from their exposed necks and arms and fighting back whenever they could. Rache, Bree, and Darg laid into them from afar. Rache clenched her fist in the air and made a shoving gesture, and the vine that had entwined itself around Lenora's neck broke free as the bulk of the vine was tossed back to the thick layer of potting soil. Terciel evaporated and reappeared, leaving the bloodsucking mosquito-bat-things hovering around Thea looking for a meal. Bree set off wave after wave of searing fire at close quarters, and Lenora and Thea, who had grown more accustomed to that sort of thing, blithely ignored the hazards as they waded in, flail and axe snicker-snacking through the thick vines and spindly bones. The tide turned quickly: Rache stepped forward and unleashed a curse so potent that the vine was reduced to a memory of sawdust, Thea chopped the bugs to pieces, and Terciel fired arrow after arrow, picking apart wrist-thick vines just as they threatened to grapple at Thea's blind side. A swarm of the stick insects were roused, but seconds later Bree had scorched them to dust. It was over almost as quickly as it began. A few nasty scratches and puncture wounds were the only sign that anything had happened, and in a moment or two Darg had them patched up as good as new. Lenora's head was a little fuzzy from the stinging insects, and Terciel was a bit light-headed from the blood loss, but other than that everyone was basically fine.
Once the dust settled, the party took a look around, and in the gap that one of the shrubs had left when it attacked, there was a dessicated corpse laying there, nearly skeletonized and completely intact, with a few intriguing personal effects…