Upon realizing that they were all bound for Mikona, Van, Ari, and Tupaia decided to travel togethor. Each of them brought along a small contingent of their respective followers for the journey, which was largely uneventful. By the time they were little more than a day from the gates of Mikona, a messenger was sent forward to contact Orianna and alert her to their arrival. Shortly after that, they entered the city gates and walked directly to one of the local taverns near the docks. They suspected they would be easily found by Orianna's guild there, and sure enough they were. Orianna was already waiting when they got there, and the old friends greeted each other, happy to be reunited.
After ordering their rooms and getting drinks, they set to talking about local affairs and their reasons for the journey. A little ways into this discussion, one of Orianna's men signalled to her that trouble may be coming down the street. When she ordered the man to investigate, she was told that it was an Equalizer of Mikon's holy order, and he seemed to be of some rank. Van deduced that it was probably Nimonay, the leader of the order coming to meet her. This was a signal for the thieves to depart, for it would not be good to see them in league with the Champions. As they were disappearing into the background, Nimonay came in and introduced himself to Van. She in turn introduced her friends to him. He inquired as to why Van had chosen such a seedy place to seek shelter in the city, when she was perfectly welcome back at Nimonay's keep. Van said she was only passing time there and was just about to look for the man. He nodded curtly and asked her if she would accompany him to the keep right then for negotiations to start the next day. She agreed, and the heroes parted ways once more, temporarily. Ari went off to the library to find her reference, and Tupaia went off with her acolytes to her new estate within the city.
At around the same time, a lone man sat on the side of the road not far away from the tavern. He was quite still, and very strange looking. His eyes were somewhat small, and his skin somewhat olive. However, his most striking feature was the clothes he wore. He was garbed in baggy white pants made of cotton, and a shirt modeled much after a kimono. To passers by, he was harmless... just sitting there in fact with his eyes closed..... and the passerby would be right in making the assumption. He did mean no harm, for he was meditating. While lost in meditation, he heard a sound come to the forefront of his consciousness... a splash, and a stifled cry of agony. Being curious, he came out of his meditation and looked around, seeing nothing at first but then noticing that the sound came from a nearby storm drain. Getting up, he went over to the drain, opened it and climbed down into a dark tunnel. There was no one to be found, so he went back up.
A little while later, the man, known as Kung, decended into the sewers again to check out if he missed anything. But this time he was not alone. A small man in dark clothes sneaked up behind him and scared him. He questioned Kung as to why he was in the sewers and Kung told him what he had just heard earlier. For some reason, this intrigued the rogue very much, and the rogue informed Kung that it would really be within his best interest to accompany him to the guildhouse and tell what he saw to "The Lady" aka Raven. Kung agreed (being that he didn't really have a choice) and set off to the house. When he got there, he was introduced to Orianna, and told to relay his information. Orianna listened and decided that he would be kept under "safe guard" because of his valuable information... that and she wasn't sure yet if he was a spy from the other rival guild. She informed Kung that there had been problems in the city lately. People were disappearing, and no one knew why. Right then, a bloodied up and bruised theif walked in. He was out of breath and very hurt. He told them that there was a skirmish with the other guild just now, but it was interrupted. Fleshy looking rotten creatures came in and attacked both parties, killing most of them. The ones that survived saw the udnead minions taking the bodies through a previously unknown doorway to what looked like a lower level of the sewers. Orianna ordered an investigation, and needless to say, anyone who investigated did not come back.
She sent a runner to fetch Vanoviel and the others.
Back at Tupaia Dagroth's estate things were hectic. There was much change needed to the facilities. Tupaia was abhorred at the landscaping, for it did not accent nature, it destroyed it. She immediately set her three accolytes to work to fix it, while the seneschal showed her around the compound. He gave her a bedroom, which she grudgingly accepted and told her that in the morning there would be more business to attend to. She set about to make due with what she had around her.
After many hours of study at the library, Ari was interrupted by one of her soldiers. He said that his fellow soldier had gone missing. They were both outside the front of the library in broad daylight, when his partner decided to head over to the alley for a bit to relieve himself, and he never came back. The elf investigated the area and found nothing. This alarmed Ari very much. She decided to head over to the Dagroth estate and tell Tupaia. When she got there, Tupaia collected her acolytes togethor and found that one of them had also gone missing while collecting some ivy off of a building. Alarmed, they set off to find Orianna and were easily found by the runner which she had already sent out. They immediately went to the guildhouse to talk about their findings.
The next day, Van arrived at Nimonay's compound and began negotiations to see if the Champions and the Equalizers could come to some agreement on their involvement in the war between M'Chek and T'Nanshi. Van was of the position that she did not so much care about who got land in the end, and that in fact she even sympathized a little with the humans for not having enough space to support themselves in their own country. However, she was not pleased with the deals made between the humans and the Titanean Fairies that once the elves were conquered with the help of the Titaneans, the two of them would turn on the O'ma Fairies. The negotiations were stiff, but a friendship was created and the foundation for further negotiations was set, even though no concrete answers came that day. They decided they would continue. However, they were not allowed to continue because the next morning a messenger showed up posing as a loan shark whom Van's men owed money. He secretly told Van that she was needed back at the city because people were disappearing. She agreed to go aid her friends and informed Lord Nimonay that she would be leaving. Nimonay accepted, and invited her back for another meeting when she was ready.
After getting back to the city, Van met with her friends at the guildhouse. Everyone was introduced to Kung, who seemed to be one of the few witnesses to an actual disappearance even though he only heard things. A decision was made that they would go down into the sewers and investigate by themselves, and Kung was told he was coming with them. The best place to descend unseen into the sewers would be the Dagroth estate, so they gathered their entourage and went. After spending the night, they gathered supplies and descended.
The journey to the secret door went fairly well with only minor altercations with chokers and a gelatinous cube. Once they went down, they encountered the problem: crude forms of undead made from assembled body parts assaulted them. But these undead had strange powers. They were almost unaffected by arrows, for the missiles would slow down to nothing before they impacted. They also had the ability to set cloth and skin ablaze in a large radius, and no degree of resistance to magic countered this. Once in a while, they were even seen to unleash minor offensive spells during the battle. But after the initial suprise was through, the party dealt with them accordingly. Kung stated that these undead actually came from his land. They were known as naikimono, and that there was usually a very evil spirit behind their creation. Taking this informaiton, the party trudged its way through the system of tunnels in which they now found themselves. Searching around, they found out that this tunnel system was actually a compound built by dwarves who housed themselves there during the construction of the city of Mikona over 1000 years ago.
Cutting through the naikimono and a few other types of creatures, they came to a large temple hall with statues of the god Gorethar, creator of the dwarven race on Avlis. In the middle of the floor was a huge hole. Looking down the hole they saw that there was a rough cave below, so they climbed down. The cave system was crude, and probably a natural formation. At times it was muddy, and other times it dried up. But it was vast. The caverns there ran fairly deep, and they were just littered with the naikimono. Through killing many of the creatures, the heroes began to recognize the faces and body parts of missing or fallen comrades, and this disturbed them very much. Once these abominations were killed, Van and Ari started to save small pieces of the bodies in the hopes of later ressurecting them.
Going through the cave system was tough, but eventually they encountered the spirit behind it. Kung recognized it as a being from his land. It was an Uraki-Oni... the spirit of a trained mind gone insane with the taint from the evil spirits of the land of Khanjar Kuro. They had little time, for the creature attacked along with an army of his undead. He unleased a bolt of kinetic concussive force right at Van, taking her off her feet and hurting her very badly. Ari charged in with one of her soldiers, and was immediately shocked by a huge current of blue energy shot from the enemy's hands. Van was badly scorched by this, but her soldier was utterly destroyed. Orianna set about killing the undead army with her gem bow, which could unleash spells from arrows depending on which gem was in it. This time she was using a ruby to unleash fireballs in the hopes of burning the creatures up, and she was succesful to some degree. Kung cowered in the corner screaming "Nakimono!!!" to anyone who would listen, but no one did. Tupaia and the other druids helped out with healing as best they could and occasionally got into the fray when needed.
Soon, with great difficulty, the spirit turned gaseous. But still it spoke. It told that it wanted to establish a foothold on this continent to start spreading his taint, but he would need to come back with stronger help. He also took interest in Orianna. He regonized her as the leader of the band of people who supplied him with the most body parts by sending them unwittingly into the sewers. He thought he may be able to use her back home. She didn't understand this, but immediately at that point the spirit rematerilized right behind her and grabbed her!! The party gasped in horror. The Uraki-Oni barked a telepathic farewell and teleported away.... taking Orianna with him........
The End: Chapter 1
[Edited on 6/3/02 by Orleron]