Agrama wants to pull the glory boats from hauling food into the city. He argues that there is plenty of food available for Prasada. The glory boats could be used to raid for more food. Sulam argues that this is a bad idea.
After a long recese to discuss options, three proprositions are put forth. In the mean time, ten more nobles have shown up, it appears that someone is drumming up support. The first is to give the Stupa to the sea elves in exchange for six months of sea defense, including sinking of hostile ships. The second is to offer elemental magic research from Edrajala in exchange for some support and scouting, but no direct military support. The last option is to reject the sea elves' offer and return the glory boats to military defense instead of hauling grain.
All three propositions fail on vote. The first option gets about a third of the nobles to support it. The second has the support of slightly more. The last option almost has majority. Interestingly, the ten late nobles all votes for only the last option.
Agrama points out that the last option is the most popular and should be followed. Saheed argues that food is more important. and Agrama will be able to defend the city. Agrama storms off.
The party then begins investigating the insects below the city. The party is led by a guide to the North Shore district, where they enter the tunnels beneath the city from a celler in a grocery. Rumors say that the living dead, and scaly gargoyle creatures lurk below the city. The passages below the city are a maze of connected basements, mines, natural tunnels, crypts, sewers, and drainage.
(1, 2) The guide leads the party down a series of passage to the locations of known bug attacks, eventually leading the group to a small natural cavern. (3) The guide indicates that one of the attacks occurred here. The cavern has many cracks in the walls, too small for a human to fit in. There are non-human tracks in the room, and a pair of giant ant carcasses.
The guide warns the party that the passageway to the right at the last intersection is avoided by those who know the catacombs. The passageway ceases being natural, and those who go too far in don't return. (4) Suspicious that this may be a source of the insects, the party heads that way. (5) On the way, the party is confronted by two shambling men. Chendra calls for them to return to their rest, and the zombies collapse. The bodies appear to be those of an older, poor man crushed to death, and a younger poor man with no visible wounds.
The party heads on through several passages. (6) A bit further on, after a confusing set of passages, Pathik hears laughter. Several members of the party charge around the corner after the noise, but find nothing. Meanwhile, an imp attacks guide who stayed behind with other party members. Those near the guide quickly dispatch the imp, and dissolves into a bubbling pool.
After regrouping, the party moves on. (7) While checking out several dead ends, the zombie of a woman aproaches the party, but is quickly returned to a natural death by Chendra. (8) Eventually the party finds a set of smoothed and drier walls.
After a bit of exploring, it becomes clear that this area is formed of concentric circles. The party decides to head inward. (10) After moving in several circles, a pair of the ochre jellies drops on the unsuspecting party, hitting Pathik and Roshan. Pathik phases out of the normal world. The goo drops to the ground and is quickly dispatched by the blades of Sarad and Sulam. Roshan blasts the one on him with several magic missles, and it dies.
(11) Deeper in, at the end of one of the spokes, a shimmering portal sits on the wall. Sarad sticks his head in, and after a brief disorientation, determines that it leads to a dark room. Sarad and Sulam take a lantern and enter. The door closes immediately behind them. As Sarad and Sulam shake off the disorientation for passing through, just before their latern extinguishes, they briefly see a gigantic dragon with scales the color of polishes sapphires. They then fall unconcious.
Meanwhile the rest of the party waits, hoping the portal will reopen. After a bit, the portal reappears, but disappears while the party discusses actions to take. A bit later the portal appears down the curved passageway, but closes before the party gets there. After a few moments, the portal reappears at the original location. Omar, Chendra, and Pathik run to try and reach it, but it still closes before they get there. Another few minutes pass, then the portal opens down the hallway again. The unconcious forms of Sarad and Sulum fall out.
A voice issues from the portal, "You have found me, I will talk to one." Chendra mind links to Pathik and steps into the portal. The door closes behind him. AFter a moment, the portal appears, Chendra steps out, and the portal closes. Chendra explains that the dragon is benevolent. The party is to go no further, but a guide will lead the party to the source of problems.
As Chendra finishes his explaination, the earth begins to rumbles. A stone humanoid form steps out of the wall and leads the party out. As it steps, the ground shakes. (12, 13) It leads the party away from of the center to a natural crack in the wall.
Sarad is hit with the demons powers of possesion, and believes the creatures to be friendly. Roshan hits the demons with a cone of cold while Chendra and Omar both summon fireballs. While Roshan's blast of cold appears to harm the demons, they shrug off the fireballs. Sulam attacks and slays one of the demons. When it dies, it bursts into flame and leaves a charred child sized corpse. Another demon is quickly dispatched to the same effect and the remaining two flee.
(17) The shaken but unharmed party advanced and listens around the next corner. Pathik hears a screetching behind the party. (16) The party quickly reverse and investigates. Twelve demons have appeared!
Chendra blasts several with a lightening bolt, slaying two. Roshan blasts several with a lightening bolt, but they shrug off the powerful magic. Four of the demons disappear and reappear behind the party, preventing flight. Omar hits some of them with a cone of cold, but they shrug it off. Bhuta had charged that group of demons, and also ignored the cone. Bhuta slowly injures the demons with a flurry of clawing and biting.
Chendra calls lightening strikes down on two of the demons behind the party. Sulam slays another with several strikes of his blade. After several minutes of combat, the party slays the remaining demons.
The party continues their advance. Clearly they're on the trail of some source of ill. (17, 18) At each intersection the party listens for noises. (19) Most of the time, they hear nothing, but after several intersections, they hear a strange tapping to the left. (20) Advancing, the party sees four giant ants. Omar slew two with magic missiles, the other two fled. Investigating the large chamber, there are remnants of wood structures about.
(21) Moving on, the party sees flickering red lights ahead. Ahead is a room lit with large flaming braizers. The walls are finishes and the ceiling domed. The floor is set stone, and huge pit fills the centers. Huge bees the size of a man fly in and out of the room.
Pathik, who is scouting ahead, is attacked by four bees and retreats to the party. Sarad and Sulam quickly dispatch two of the bees by the sword, while Chendra and Omar blast the other two with magic missiles. Pathik reenters the rooms and examines the pit.
The shaft quickly widens to the size of the room, and drops eighty feet down. It's clear that the "room" is simply a platform over a deep shaft. Metal trellaces line the edges. Stuck to the trellaces are human sized either cocoon or egg things. An iron ladder leads down the shaft. Climbing the ladder is a large humanoid covered in barbs. Another demon.
Omar sends a fireball down the shaft, filling it with flame. The burned cocoons reveal humanoid form, some of which have horns and scales. Some of them scream as they burn. The demon climbing the ladder teleports away. The room quickly begins to fill with smoke. The party heads towards the second exit. Suddenly a horde of demons appears on the platform! The party runs back to the cooridor they entered from. Omar summons a wall of force to block the smoke. Roshan summons a wall of ice to block the other passage from the demons.
Pathik summons his demon servants and orders them to attack the horde.
They refuse and attack the party.
A battle begins in ernest. Sulam and Sarad are ordered to "die" by a demon, and both collapse to the ground. Chendra and Pathik begin preparing to flee. Chendra casts featherfall on the party. Pathik uses his mental powers to summon a dimensional door two hundred yards straight up. Meanwhile, the demons present are summoning more demons! Most of the party flees through the portal, taking their fallen comrades, leaving Chendra, the guide, and Bhuta behind.
Many of the demon throw fire at the guide, he is injured, but not seriously, and teleports away. Bhuta and Chendra leap through the portal and it closes behind them.
The party appears far above the fairgrounds near the zoo in Edrajala. Chendra's featherfall allows the party to gently float down to the ground. After a few moments Sarad and Sulam come to, the spell had simply knocked them out. The party returns to their homes and rests.