Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Exchange

Damn. Damn it all.

We got through the doors into this old tower within the Ancient City -- only to find ourselves at the bottom of this pit.

"What goes up, must come down!" Always the clown, Nina the Thief, exclaimed.

"We hadn't even gone up, yet, Nina. But here we are." I responded.

We dusted ourselves off and examined the area we were in. Garrin manifested a flickering flame upon the quarterstaff he carried, which lit the bottom of the pit.

"Well, it could be worse," Garrin pointed the lighted end of his staff towards the chute we came down, "this could have dropped us straight down onto these rocks."

I looked closely at the metal that made up the chute and brought my hand to it. Smooth to the touch, even after thousands of years.

The wall immediately across from our entrance to this pit had a large, arched portal to some dark area. "We should probably head that way." I announced to my companions.

We exited into a long hallway with smooth, stone walls. There was an ancient smell in the area, like nothing I'd ever experienced before.

"There are supposed to be Godlings in this part of the Ancient City. They will overtake these ancient structures, turning them into lairs." Garrin casually schooled us in some of his Delvers' lore.

"Have you ever seen a Godling, Garrin?" Nina asked. She was new to all this: Garrin and I picked  her up back at the Delvers Guild Hall.

"Yes. They look like Men, basically." Garrin responded, "Don't believe the stories you've heard."

The long hallway ended abruptly at a "T" intersection. "Are we even under the tower anymore?" I asked out loud.

"It's difficult to tell, but I would say not." said Nina.

As we stood at the intersection we heard sounds coming from both directions. "Snuff it!" I whispered to Garrin. He extinguished the manifestation on his staff.

There were murmurings coming from both directions along with the sounds of many feet upon the rocks. "We should do good about hiding right about now!" Nina suggested.

In the darkness, we felt our way back down the hall towards the pit. We stopped at about halfway back, knelt down with our weapons drawn.

Lights at the end of the hallway. "I thought Godlings could see the in dark?" I asked Garrin.

"Yes, they don't need light. Let's wait and see what happens."

Then a group of pale Man-like beings -- Godlings -- dressed in a minimal manner, approached a group of Men -- one of which carried a large lantern, the source of the light. The largest of the Godlings in the group, a female specimen, snapped her fingers. Two naked prisoners -- a man and a woman -- were brought forward, each restrained with leather bindings and held by a male Godling.

The Godlings, at this distance, appeared as Men, but they varied a great deal in size from one another. Garrin tells that they are immortal -- only dying in violence, sickness or famine -- and that the older they get the larger they get. The female leader towered over the others -- could she be 100 years old, 1,000?

The Men were dressed in a baroque fashion -- what were Men doing down here and dealing with these Monsters? The leader was a man dressed in a bright scarlet justacorps, though I could tell at this distance it was horribly soiled. His face was covered in powder and he wore an outrageously tall white wig upon his head. He smiled even as he talked with the Giantess -- though we could not hear what was said.

Then the strangest thing occurred. The man approached the female prisoner and grasped the side of her head and licked the whole other side of her face with a blackened tongue.

"Garrin!" I whispered. "Are these Men the Ghouls you spoke of!"

"Indeed, Jones, we are witnessing an exchange of some kind."

The man seemed pleased with the flavor of the prisoner and reached into his inside coat-pocket, retrieving a heavy coin purse that he placed into the Giantess' hand.

A group of pale Man-like beings -- Godlings -- dressed in a minimal manner. . .

The two prisoners seemed to realize what was going to happen next to them and their resistance to their captors visibly increased -- though the bindings through their mouths prevented them from making much sound. The foppish, powdered man who had just purchased them motioned for two of his group to come forward. These two men were dressed in simple clothing and both had a dirty apron tied around their waists.

"By the Messiah! Are those?" I muttered to myself.

"Yes, the Butchers amongst them." said Garrin.

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