OUR HEROES: Tira Wolfsdaughter Hank Woodman Haiku Odsdottir Gustav Mahler Persia


5. The Death-Pits

Tira sweet-talks her way past the door warden of the Hall of Art. She spends the rest of the evening working on her reading exercises in the Library.

The rest of the party spends an hour or two at the Kraken's head, listening for more information. Persia overhears two off-duty City Guardsmen discussing the Death-Pits, confirming that it is the following night.

Persia Hank and Mahler go to the warehouse district, seeking any clue as to where it will be held. Persia and Hank combine their knowledge of the city's understructure to narrow down their area of search. Mahler questions everyone he meets, an intimidating task, given his great size and the time of night. Eventually, he runs into a rough-looking customer who appears at least as interested in Mahler's questions as Mahler is in finding answers. Mahler tells him that he has been hired by Harker to guard the Death Pits, but has forgotten the way. Not realizing that the man he is questioning works for Harker, his ruse is quickly seen through. The man, whose street name is Beef, promises to return after he has “talked to someone who knows someone”. Sure enough, he returns after an hour and lies to Mahler, telling him that the Death-Pit was held the previous evening and that it is too late. Mahler cries out and grabs the criminal in despair. He forces Beef to lead him to the person who gave him this information.

There is of course no other person. Beef lied to throw this nosey giant off the trail. So he instead leads him to the Fishdocks, where he hopes to find crowds to help him escape Mahler's crushing grip. At the docks he calls out to some toughs, promising to pay them if they free him. Mahler panics and hurls Beef into the harbor. He runs for a short distance before the dockworkers catch up. He discovers that he has worked alongside one of them in the past. The men had run to his aid, not to attack him. His friend tells him that the man he threw into the harbor was a henchman for Harker. He further gives him directions for the Death Pit. Grateful and exhausted, Mahler allows Hank and Persia to take him back home.

Once at Persia's humble quarters, they discover a worried Char who has been watching over Basarin, the wounded half breed. He tells them how Tira and he found her and salved her wounds. Basarin regains consciousness and tell the party her story. She came from the farmlands outside the city. She longed to be a dancer and escape the dreary life of a farmer. She came to the city and quickly discovered how difficult city life can be. While dancing in the street for coins and food, she was harassed on several occasions by a group of evil-looking men. Purists. They threatened to hurt her if she continued to stay in the city. She changed her location twice but finally they made good their threat and beat her severely. They placed her in a sack and carried her toward a place they referred to as the Death Pits. She escaped through a tear in the sacking and hid. Eventually she was discovered by Tira and Char.

The leader of the party matches the description of Scorch, the man who captured Sanyo. The party finally beds down for sleep. At noon, Tira comes to visit. She is concerned about Basarin, whom she had to leave with Char. They all compare notes and decide that they must work together to rescue Sanyo. Persia and Haiku case the area of the Death Pits, while Tira returns to the Hall of Art. Tira confides her problem to Farallon, who tells her of the secret exit used by students when they want to sneak into town. Leaving pillows under her sheets in case anyone should check, Tira leaves after classes and simply doesn't return.

Working with the others, she uses her spirit sight to investigate the area beneath the street. It is difficult, but she determines where the cistern is that Harker has had drained. She detects that there are already people in it. Once Persia tells her where the underground tunnels are that lead to and from it, she concludes that there is a large creature of some sort in the uphill tunnel, and a group of people in a smaller cistern at the downhill end.

The party breaks into the downhill end, using Persia's lockpicking skills. They have to swim some distance underwater. Persia has some difficulty, but is rescued by Hank, whose body holds a reservoir of air. They surface in the middle of the smaller cistern, which turns out to be a holding area for combatants. Their noise is masked by heavy rhythmic music from the Death Pit. They wait in the dark water until the first combatants are called.

Using the element of surprise, Mahler dunks a guard by upsetting the plank laid across the cistern's center. A general melee ensues. Sanyo makes himself known when they begin calling for him. The battle's noise is drowned out by the roar of the Death-Pit crowd. Tira bluffs several of the fighters by pretending she can summon a Reaver. Hank keeps lookout while the rest fight. Haiku, still in the water fishes the key from the guard's belt, tossing it to Tira who frees Sanyo. At this moment, the first fight is finished. The victor looks down the hall to the small cistern and raises an alarm.

The party dives back into the water. Hank tries to stay behind to keep the stunned guard afloat, but when the man tries to kill him upon regaining consciousness, flees with the rest. Mahler nearly loses his breath on the way back to the entrance, but once again Hank's barrel body proves itself useful.

Once on the street again, they hear the sound of chase coming from the warehouse that sits over the pits. They run along the inner wall of the city, away from the attackers. A gate looks promising, but is guarded by a cloaked figure. The party gets ready to charge past him, when the figure looks at Tira and tells them in a deep whisper that he will misdirect their pursuers. Tira is disconcerted by the fact that her spirit sight can detect no one in the cloak. She does not have time to investigate further, since the sound of boots and sandals draws ever nearer. They run past the mysterious stranger and into the city where they quickly shake their hunters.