Twila and Faith went back to their hut to make sure they were ready to evacuate, if it came to that. Since most of their possessions were in their bags, there was very little to clean up. They sat on the porch of their hut and watched as the human paladin, Rodryn Enge and his drow friend entered the crypt. Rodryn was trying to be furtive and it made them laugh to see him sneak. He called more attention to himself than if he'd just walked casually in.
Compel came out of her hut, below them and to the right and they jumped down to join her. Holman was rounding the corner to the cemetery as they entered the crypt. They went through the interior crypt gate, now left open, down the hall and turned left through the secret door that was no longer secret. As they came to the shallow pool with the acid traps, they saw Rodryn and his friend peering into the water-filled hole that was the beginning of the tunnel. Rodryn looked up at them in surprise.
"What are you two doing here?" he asked.
"They are part of this team," Holman's voice came from behind them. "For the duration of this mission, you will work as a team and you will follow my orders. Does everyone understand that? If you have an issue with doing as you are told, leave now."
"I'd leave now, but that would be doing what he told me to do, now wouldn't it?" Twila whispered to Faith. She grinned.
"I'm glad you ladies find this amusing. I'm sure you will find it hysterically funny when we drag your drowned bodies from the tunnel after you make a wrong turn. Right?"
"No sir, we are ready to follow orders," Twila piped up.
"Good. Now, let's review. Compel and I have mapped these tunnels somewhat. I have a magical bottle of air that allows me to breathe normally underwater and she does not breathe so we have spent most of the morning determining where these tunnels might go. I have mapped as much as I can on my wayfinder," he indicated a small round brass instrument hanging from his waistband. "I will tell you all of them are blocked by a door at the other end and some of them are trapped. If you do not follow closely and get lost, we will not come after you. Stay with us.
"We will open the end doors together and determine where we are. We may have to fight, there may be more swimming to do- we will have to improvise as we go along. No one is to race ahead or enter a room until the party is ready. Now, Compel will cast water breathing on you and we will begin. Ask your questions now because your water breathing bubble will not last long- once it's cast we need to move quickly."
"Do I have permission to kill everyone that opposes us?" Rodryn asked.
"No," Holman surprised him. "If we do not find Lady D'Jorasco, we will need information. Compel will cast a hold on our enemies until we can determine what they know. Then you may kill them."
Rodryn looked annoyed.
"If there are a bunch of them, like an ambush, I can kill most of them, right?" he asked.
Holman nodded. He took a small box out of his bag, leaned over and twisted a few knobs on it. The box transformed into Tigrin, the metal puppy. He wagged his tiny tail and said "BARK."
"Tigrin, defend," Holman commanded.
"AFFIRMATIVE," answered Tigrin.
"Let's go. Remember, this is a rescue mission, but we are not rescuing you. Stay with the group."
Compel had a rolled-up scroll in her hand and at his nod, she made a throwing motion with the scroll. It disappeared and a glowing bubble appeared over each of their heads. Holman dropped into the hole and disappeared from view. Rodryn and the drow followed without hesitation.
"I'll go last and make sure no one gets left behind," Compel assured them. "Don't worry, he's all talk. Just hurry."
Twila dropped into the hole and Faith followed.
Having an air bubble on her head was definitely a new experience for Faith. She thought it was great. The bubble gave off a slight glow, making it easier to see in the dark passage. She pushed the water up, propelling herself downwards until her feet hit solid rock. The tunnel opened up in front of her and seeing Twila's boots not far ahead, she followed. The tunnel twisted and turned, rising up, sinking down and getting very narrow in some places. Faith reminded herself that the tunnel had to be big enough to allow a sahuagin through so surely it wouldn't get too narrow for her.
After swimming for what felt like a very long time, Faith could tell the air in her bubble was getting thinner, harder to breathe. It was about to run out! Frantically, she rose to the top of the tunnel to see if there was an air pocket. Finding nothing but water, she took in a last deep breath before the bubble popped. She swam as quickly as she could, bumping into Twila's feet. Compel bumped into Faith from behind; they seemed to have come to a stop.
The tunnel went on one direction but there was a hole in the ceiling. Faith swam forward and saw what looked like parts of a metal fan scattered underneath the opening, which had a ring of metal around it. Tigrin swam up and pulled with his teeth on the latch of a round door inside the opening. There was a faint creak as the door split into two half circles and swung upward. Everyones' air bubble had popped and Faith, Twila, Rodryn and the drow were all scrambling to reach the surface, crowding through the porthole but unable to get through as they tangled up together. Compel swam over and pulled Rodryn down, releasing the bottleneck and allowing the others to slip through the hole and get to the surface. Rodryn then swam wildly up.
As their heads popped out of the water, Rodryn turned to where Compel had surfaced and yelled at her.
"Are you trying to kill me? You almost drowned me!"
"Everyone would have drowned if I hadn't gotten you out of the way. You were blocking the exit."
"Quiet!" Holman said sharply. He was looking around, trying to assess where they were.
They were in a long, rectangular room that was two stories high. All but a few feet of the lower story was filled with water. The floor of the room held several large gears with levers that were situated in front of four underwater cells, guarded by bars. Holman directed Tigrin to pull one of the levers and he swam over, got the lever in his teeth and pulled. The bars on one of the cells raised up.
"Help! Please help us!" They heard voices echoing from higher up in the chamber.
"This is the place," Holman said quietly. "There are bound to be guards. Quiet."
Water rushing out of two huge pipes in the wall behind them masked the sounds of their arrival.
"This appears to be part of the old aqueduct, the system the giants set up on this island to deliver running water to various parts of their city," Holman said quietly. "The sahuagin have turned it into a prison."
They swam over to a nearby ladder and climbed up one by one. A narrow ledge surrounded the room, making a small walkway for the second level. A pair of drawbridges, one up and one down spanned the center of the room. Another lever attached to a set of oversized gears stuck out of the wall directly to the right of the ladder where they emerged. Rodryn immediately pulled the lever. The drawbridges changed position with a loud creak and clanking. The one that had been up was now down and vice versa.
"Don't... Rodryn! Are you trying to get us all killed?" hissed Holman.
"What...?" asked Rodryn just as a cultist appeared and swung a mace at his neck from behind. Tigrin jumped at the cultist and bit him and he fell backwards with a yell. Holman had his crossbow loaded and fired quickly and the cultist lay dead.
"That's what," said Holman quietly. "Don't go pulling levers if you don't know what they will do. You've just announced our arrival."
Another cultist appeared from the doorway on the other side of the lever and Holman quickly dispatched him as well. Twila emerged from the water.
"I opened a locked door underwater but only found a treasure chest behind it. We can get it later if you like," she whispered.
"Is someone here? Someone who can help us?" a voice called weakly from one of the cells. A chorus of voices joined in from the cells at both ends of the room.
"Please save us! I don't want to be a cultist! Please. Help!"
"Shut up! No one's going to save you!" came the unmistakable voice of a sahuagin from a side cell at the north end of the room. "I'm sick of all your whining. Just shut up!"
Faith leaned out over the ledge to see where the voice was coming from. She could see where a sahuagin and several cultists had been napping inside a side room which was on the same wall they were leaning against. The guards were lying around the base of what looked like a Devourer altar. Holman sidled down as far as he could and looked in as well, then he motioned the party to back up towards the empty hallway.
"Looks like three humans and a sahuagin and they don't seem to be aware we are here. The lever for the gates to open the cells appears to be inside that room," he whispered. Then he pointed at a gear-and-lever mechanism on the other side of the room, across the lowered bridge and directly in front of the guard room.
"Rogue, I want you to sneak over there, pull that lever, then hide if you can. That should open the gates to the guard's room. When they come out to see what's going on, Compel, I want you to cast a web to hold them. Cast several to be safe. Valtyrr and I will shoot the others and get them out of the mix as quickly as possible. Monk, slip into that guard room and pull the gate lever to open the cells."
"What about me?" asked an enthusiastic Rodryn who was having a hard time being quiet.
"Stand down unless things are going badly. Finish them off before they can attack if we can't get them stuck in the webs."
Rodryn looked deflated. "That's all?"
Holman was visibly annoyed. "Plenty of killing to be done in due time. Follow orders."
Holman glanced around at the guard room then he waved his hand in a "go" motion and Twila crouched down and slipped silently across the lowered bridge. She held a finger to her lips as one of the prisoners noticed her and started to call out. The prisoner nodded, but stood at the gate with a desperate expression on her face. Twila motioned to the prisoner to back up and sit down. As she reached the other side, she stopped a moment to look back at the guard room, then reached up and pulled the lever.
"What in Khyber..." roared the sahuagin as he rushed out onto the bridge. Almost instantly he was stuck in a massive, sticky spider web but seconds later he was dead on the ground. Faith slipped inside the guard room and pulled the lever on the wall and turned to see Rodryn finishing off the last of the cultists.
"Rodryn, you were to stand down!" Holman was spitting angry. "Compel managed to hold all four of those attackers in a web and at least one was supposed to be saved long enough to question. What is wrong with you, man?"
"I'm sorry," Rodryn looked confused. "I didn't mean to. I just went a little crazy."
"You will wait behind the rest of the team until we are able to question someone," Holman commanded.
Rodryn looked crushed. He sheathed his greatsword and sulked.
Twila had rushed into the cell and was checking on the two prisoners inside. Faith and Compel had gone to the other end of the room and were doing the same with the three prisoners there.
"What have we got?" asked Holman. "Is Drusen here?"
"No, not here now," reported Compel. "But she was here last night; she healed some of the prisoners. But they took her away when they realized she was helping them."
"Let's push on then, time is wasting," Holman directed.
"These people have been through a lot," pointed out Faith. "They are weak. How are we going to get them back to the village?"
"Not our problem," answered Holman. "Our mission is to find Drusen d'Jorasco. These people can find their own way back from here."
"They can't swim in this state. We don't even know if there is a door to the outside," Faith felt anger building inside of her. "No. I won't leave them behind. What is wrong with you?"
Holman faced her directly. "Monk, you agreed to do a job and I brought you here to complete it. I made it very clear this was a specific rescue mission. This," he waved at the weakened villagers at each end of the room " is not it. Now let's move."
Faith glared at his back as he strode down the hallway with Tigrin trotting close behind, his tiny metal paws pinging quietly on the stone. Twila came up beside her and mumbled, "Sneak attack for the win?"
Valtyrr the drow followed Holman without hesitation but Rodryn looked stunned.
"I am a sworn paladin of the Silver Flame. My duty is to protect people from evil. I can't leave these people to be killed in the wilderness."
"No, please don't go," a woman was pleading with Compel. The prisoners had all gathered in the hallway near the adventurers to find out what to do next. Several could hardly walk and none of them looked very healthy. Compel said something softly, waved her hands and the villagers all laid down peacefully and went to sleep.
"What did you do?" asked Rodryn.
"I've told them we will be back for them shortly. And we will. I've cast a sleep spell on them. It will help for a little while to ease their anxiety and keep them from doing anything foolhardy," answered Compel.
Faith felt utterly miserable leaving these people here, even for a short time. "But what if..." she started.
"There are more here to rescue," Compel pointed out reasonably. "We'll find them all, then get them back to the village. I have a plan. OK?"
They had forgotten the other prisoners. Faith immediately felt the urgency of rescuing the others.
"There are more guards, no doubt," she said and they all hurried around the corner where sounds of fighting could be heard.