After leaving the Silent Dog, the party immediately headed for the Rivermen’s Guildhall, situated at the border of Weapontake. It became obvious that the exotic, travelworn party was too visible in this more upscale neighborhood, so the group retired to a nearby inn, the Cast Helm, while the less obvious Collain made a more thorough reconnaissance. The Rivermen’s compound was imposing, protected by a high wall and red-liveried guards carrying ceremonial swords. Though the travelers could likely overpower what protection there was, it seemed a stealthier approach was called for. It would not be wise to anger an entire city while trying to attend to the more pressing matter of pursuing Ashkenu.
Collain stayed long enough to observe the changing of the guard at the end of the day, noticing that the ceremonial guards were replaced with plainer men in plainer gear, and that a few dogs were let loose to wander the area between the walls and the guildhall itself. The group favored a quiet way to enter the guildhall that would not leave it immediately obvious that an intrusion had been made into the guildhall. It was decided that the guards would be plied with wine and the dogs with meat, in order to gain access to the guildhall somewhat quietly. Vikram made the attempt to encourage the guards to drink by the simple expedient of pretending to be very drunk, very generous, and very lonely. The deception was enhanced by the fact that he was, in fact, a little drunk. It didn’t take much cajoling to convince the guards to share some of the fortified wine he had with him, and soon the guards were quite merry, and then quite asleep. Collain picked the lock to the smaller sally-port set into the compound’s gate, and the group proceeded into the court of the Rivermen.
Collain pacified the hound that came baying around with some bits of sausage, and the group proceeded to one of the doors to the guildhall, which Collain promptly unlocked. The hound attempted to follow the group into the guildhall, hoping for more meat, and was rewarded with the opportunity to chase more bits of sausage scattered into the courtyard while the party proceeded unmolested.
Inside, the guildhall seemed to consist of a large meeting hall with wings extending off to either side, presumably with smaller rooms for conducting less public business. The meeting room was decorated with tapestries depicting more or less stylized images of the rivermen and their work with the great locks.
Behind one of these tapestries, a hidden door was discovered, leading to a stairway that led, enticingly, downward. At the bottom of this stairwell, the group found the door to a large round chamber. Kinaa entered first, to explore, and quickly discovered that the chamber was trapped. Dozens of tiny poisoned needles flew out from niches set into the walls, bombarding those who had (foolishly) entered the chamber. Throwing themselved to the floor, the party avoided further barrages while Collain disabled the trap. A closer examination of the chamber revealed that the Rivermen’s Guild was paying host to a cult of Vaena, the Floran goddess of travel and merchants. Having revealed their presence by setting off the traps, Collain decided it’d do no harm to steal some of the cult’s more valuable religious paraphernalia.
Meanwhile, much of the group had gathered around a trapdoor leading into a shaft that presumably, led down into the undercity, if Jacquard had provided good information. The group spent a long time discussing how to sound the depth and travel safely down it, and on the wisdom of attempting to leave the way open for them to return by this path. Kinaa, impatient with this, simply began to climb down the wide, slippery shaft without the assistance of rope or light. He reached the bottom safely, a fair distance, at least several dozens of feet below the cult’s chamber, and lit torch to see that he was standing near the top of a vast cavern. The structure he was standing on was a tower that was embedded partly in the wall and ceiling of the cavern.
The faint light of the torch revealed little about the chamber, but for the vast size of it. But the vague shadowy ruins of towers and buildings spread below him on the silt-lined floor of the cavern revealed to him that this was indeed the city they’d been looking for. So, Kinaa signalled to the party above by waving his torch, and the rest of the party followed more carefully. Thus they arrived in the ancient city of Vimanas.