Quick summary of the events
- The party made its way in Neergard
- Escorted by two guards, the Apostates took in many surprising features of the city
- Met with King ZigZax and received his blessing to explore the glass archives
- Oddone Mangione shopped for the party
The first few steps in Neergard
Escorted by guards, the Apostates made their way inside Neergard. Multiple defense layers made themselves partially visible to the three of them. They first had to go through a rock-hewed tunnel, barely large enough to fit one Svirfneblin, let alone medium-sized creatures. Then, as the cave opened up a bit, weird shelf-like structures were visible along the ceiling. On it, Odd’s keen eye perceive what could only be multiple invisible creatures, following the adventurers with their gazes and probably their crossbows.
The third defense system was once again spotted by Odd, being used to perceive traps. Along the walls of the corridor were two grooves. From within, a glitter could be seen: a spring loaded blade was ready to mow down any invader. The next layer of defense were two giant-sized ballistae pointing outwards. For a reason unknown to the apostates, vapour was escaping from it. The following layers were spike, raised like a phalanx against a mounted charge. These were lowered to let the party and their escort deeper in.
Finally, a giant door of metal stood in their way. The familiar sounds of grinding gears was heard, but also came steam, and then the door opened. Beyond was Neergard itself. Despite the great distance normally impeding sight in the underdark because of the lack of light, the three Apostates were able to see the Jeweled city of Neergard in all in splendor thanks to a giant, central stalactite made of quartz and silver. Dancing light from within did the lighting and the metal and gems did the reflecting. Neergard was build like a circular set of stairs, with the building rooftops getting higher and higher at each layer towards the center, were the Keep stood. One could easily imagine Svirfneblin retreating from rooftop to rooftop, keeping the high ground advantage.
The three Apostates were lead to a guardhouse where they were told to wait. After a while, an older Svirfneblin with a big nose, big ears and magnifying glasses introduced himself as Grand Lore Master and Honored Elder Dagobar. After two introductions with titles-flaunting, Jan understood the importance of these in the Deep Gnome society. He came up with some for his group, with variable level of quality. He introduced himself as [Insert], Fin as [Insert] and Odd as [Insert]. He proceeded to tell us, in surface common, that we were to bathe, that our equipment would be inspected and weapons temporarily stored. After a long and appreciated bath (Especially for Jan, who hadn’t seen a glimpse of anything clean since his capture by the tribunes), the Apostates were given clean clothing to their sizes. Jan also opted for a beard trimming and a complete head shaving to look cleaner and like his hosts.
The crunchy eel
The Apostates were assigned two guards: Honored Pikemaster Karniflex with an impressive horizontal mustache and his apprentice Aspiring Sentinel Pilax. During their walk, the Culture master and Ambassador Larkana joined them again told they adventurers that they were to meet with the king. Her greed towards the gem wreath lead her to invite them a little bit too eagerly and the king wanted to asses the apostates and whether they were to live or to die. Being aware of her mistake, she knew that if they were executed, she would probably share their fate.
On their way to the “inn”, the Crunchy Eel tavern, the Apostates were able to see the Svirfneblin culture from closer. Despite their rock-color skin, citizens of Neergard seemed to prefer brightly colored clothing. They also seemed to have a very different notion of color arrangement where they just try to have as wildly set of color as possible. Svirfneblin are very organized and walk in two sets of two lanes, not unlike a highway.
The adventurers also got to witness a bit of military training. Svirfneblin seemed to prefer picks as weapon. One older deep gnome had a contraption strapped to his back and was holding a snout connected to the pack. Despite being a new invention that he was still struggling to master, Svirfneblin were clearly apt to use steam-power in combat too: a jet of scalding vapour shot a bit uncontrollably from the snout and then his pack caught on fire.
The Apostates were also able to see where their hosted got most of their food. Away from the building line, fields of moss were being tended. From there, fibrous material and food was harvested. On small ponds were fishermen in stilts, trying to capture dangerously electric eels.
The owner the Crunchy Eel was a Deep Gnome named Gorod and his title was Master Cook and Orator. A merry fellow happy to use his guests as selling point, he assigned a wench to the Apostates for their service. The two appointed guards had their own table and discussed merrily in Undercommon. The three of them ordred the most local food as possible: a nutty flat bread, escargot guacamole, mossy local ale and the eponymous crunchy eel. The spicy of the eel was perfectly balanced and tamed by the menthol of the moss ale.
Well fed and with a soft bed, Jan and Odd had the best night they had since their capture. Except for the part where Odd found a scrying spell on the chandelier and Jan having a sleepwalking episode. The latter was brought back by Fin. The two night guards taking Karniflex and Pilax’s night shift were clearly not as jolly.
Meeting the King
The following morning, Larkana and the two guards from the day before took them to Neerguard’s keep. This structure was the biggest in the city, made by giant stalactite and a stalagmite meeting. Larkana briefed the Apostates on how to interact with the King, although we didn’t need to grovel like with the rulers of the surface, they were to answer truthfully only when addressed to. Other than that, to keep interactions to minimum.
The throne room was well guarded with infantry along the walls and crossbowmen watching from atop a ledge. The king sat upon a throne, seemingly broken many eons ago and never mended. The king himself had a giant beard (3 feet long on a man only 6 inches taller), was wearing a crown-helmet of bronze and gems and handling a maul of what seemed like molten rock. The herald introduced the king with his full title: King ZigZax stone chosen favored of rock and flame herald of fortune harbinger of glory scourge of the greenskin bearer of the gilded crown wielder of the core hammer guardian of the sundered throne warden and protector of the jeweled city of Neergard.
Then, through Dagobar’s translation, the king assessed the Apostates by asking different questions. Him and Jan linked the warmth of Elishar with the warmth of the core-world God, Suurts. He then assessed Fin’s ability as a bodyguard with a firm and sudden push, for which his severe training regimen allowed him to absorb the shock. Lastly, despite being wary of Odd, he is aware of the reverence to the Jester his surface cousin have. Sentinel Zylbleh’okh witness our battle against the goblinoids and vouched for our relative virtue. King ZigZax officially granted us our lives… and two day access to the Glass Archives.
The beginning of the investigation
The Apostates first visited the scout’s tower, asking questions concerning the location of the Vault. Despite our first interlocutor having no idea of what we were talking about, a second Svirfniblin that didn’t seem to pay attention to our conversation mentioned that Kutek Rubblecounter had filled such report, 30 cycles ago. The report is now store in the Glass Archives.
Following this, the three of them visited Chilchackh the metalurgerist smith. After a long time of bartering and trading in previous loots, Odd managed to get the Apostates quite the haul: a Spyglass, a mithrill chain shirt and the needed equipment for its maintenance.
With all this done, their gazes are now lifted towards the Glass Archives, where lies the answer they all have been looking for: How to escape from Abaddon?