Chapter 229: It’s too quiet…
“The shit is this, I was supposed to have some fun with the local girls not be stuck in some shitty dump corridor.”
“Have fun with the local girls? You mean the local whores”
“What’s the difference?”
Orson spit on the floor while narrowing his eyes. There were no torches in this place so it was hard to see what was ahead of them. The party of eight people was slowly going through the underground passages with only Roland’s mage light as a source of illumination.
“Can you two be quiet, we don’t know if this place is even safe, what if there are more of those strange monsters here?”
Senna commented while the eldest of the pirate sisters spoke out.
“Don't worry, those bastards shant be able t' get here that easily. All the entrances shall 'ave been closed 'n I bet everyone be jus' waitin' fer it t' blow o'er.”
While everyone was talking Roland was sure to use his parallel thinking skill. Part of him was constantly looking at his radar while another was paying attention to what was happening in front. Even though what Isabela said was true this didn’t mean that this place wasn’t dangerous.
Roland didn’t voice his concerns but he wasn’t sure if these underground passages were truly safe. Considering that the cult had so many infected in the city it wouldn’t be surprising if they had some kind of secret base here as well. It would be quite bold of them to create one so close to a Church worshiping the goddess of the sun.
‘Am I overthinking this? Could they hide themselves from tier 3 paladins and high priests in this city? But they weren’t able to discover the infected … ‘
The Abyssal Cult was a secretive bunch that certainly liked to hide away in the shadows. It was possible that they had ways of hiding from the church if they decided to infect this many people in a large city. Perhaps their big plan was to infest more of the populace before finally attacking when there were enough forces, yet for such a thing to be feasible, they would need some kind of foothold.
‘... and what better foothold than a base in the city that they want to take over…’
“Hey Wayland, you’ve been awfully quiet, did you figure something out?”
“Uh, no let’s just quickly head toward the docks and get out of here…”
“You don’t have to tell me twice, how much longer is this passage?”
Orson asked the question to Isabela that just smiled while replying.
“We be arrivin’ at the market soon.”
“Hope we can get some rum thar, me throat be gettin' parched.”
“Don't get ahead o' yourself Eve, better ready yer rapier.
One of the sisters of the ship’s captain that seemed to like alcohol was a bit excited when they were going from around the corner. If what they were telling was true then they should arrive at the black market area after passing through another checkpoint.
“Well shit ... “
Yet after they went around the corner instead of a door or some kind of passage they run into some rubble. Roland as usual was looking at his radar to see if there were any monsters or humans behind this collapsed opening. To his surprise, there was nothing that his device was picking up.
“O' course, it's strange, why would they collapse the entrance t' the market?”
“Are you sure that the black market is behind here?”
“There are no life signs behind this rubble, don’t you think it's odd that there aren’t any people at something important like the black market?”
“Wayland is right, I can’t sense anything either, hey dwarf can we get through here?”
Senna turned to Dalrak who as the resident dwarf had a keen eye for collapsed tunnels. Without needing much time he moved towards the rocks and could quickly tell that the blockade wasn’t deep.
“We shuld be able to git through here, not many of the rocks hav’ fallen.”
“What are you all worried about, so what if there is no one there, just makes it easier for us to pass!”
Orson smiled while moving towards the rubble while others just looked at him funny. Yet even Grisalde wasn’t that worried as she decided to help her new party member with moving the rocks. With so many strong people here it would be quite easy to clear out a path for them to pass through.
“Well, I guess we are going in, I’ll be relying on your magic support then.”
Senna just looked towards Roland that wasn’t sure what to make of this. It was clear to him that a place like the black market would be well protected. There should have been enough high-level bodyguards to kill a larger group of the monsters, that is if they weren’t the ones that had turned instead.
This left a few possibilities that they would probably figure out when getting to the other side. It could be that the merchants decided to instantly abandon the place when the monsters began appearing above ground. All of them could have already been outside the city at a safe location and bringing down this wall was just a precaution to keep any potential threats from following them.
“Leave it to me.”
Roland replied while observing the dark corridor behind them. While going through this place there were some forks in the road so there was a chance of something appearing from behind as well. Luck was on their side though as after about fifteen minutes they were able to make a big enough hole for people to squeeze through. With some help from Roland's earth magic, the makeshift opening was strengthened so it wouldn't collapse.
“Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
“Aye, be careful lass.”
Dalrak moved to the side while Senna quickly jumped through the human-sized hole without much trouble. In such situations, it was up to the people with scouting type classes to search the area.
‘We have been steadily going deeper underground, they must have really wanted to evade detection.’
While waiting Roland continued to think about the situation and if it was possible for them to get through this location without being attacked. The deeper a hiding place like this was created the harder it would be for the authorities to detect it. Then there was a whole other issue with bribes. The nobles and church members could have been on the thieves guild’s payroll which would not be that surprising.
‘Everything comes down to money in the end…’
“Aarr shit, ye scared me.”
Senna’s head popped out of the hole after a minute from her departure. While he could her approach thanks to his radar this wasn’t the same for the pirate girls.
“Stop shoutin' Christie, ye'll wake the dead wit' that voice.”
This time around it was the youngest of the three sisters that gave out quite the surprise screech.
“Ye, shut your mouth girly.”
Grisalde wasn’t amused as she inserted her little pinky into her ear that she took the shout with.
“Stop your yapping, we need to move, the coast is clear so hurry up.”
“Yeah yeah, stop squeaking pipsqueak.”
After Senna vanished through the opening it was time to test the size of the hole out. Grisalde moved in through first and was barely able to get her wide shoulders and muscular upper body through it.
“Hey, move your fat arse through faster.”
Roland could hear the halfling berating the large woman as her lower body also got momentarily stuck in the hole. With some help from the group and a firm push, she was able to land on the other side with the axe going through afterward.
“Dalrak, go next or those two might kill themselves…”
Fearing for Senna’s health Roland gave the order for the friendly dwarf to go first. For some reason, he seemed to be able to talk to both parties without getting any animosity in return. After he was through the trio from the ship were next and were then closely followed by Orson with a stupid grin on his face. It was clear that he was enjoying the view that he soon followed after.
Roland was the last one to squeeze to the other side. Before turning around he made sure to place one of the large boulders in the hole to block it. It didn’t seem that they were being followed so there was no reason to collapse the entrance once more. It was better to leave an escape route if some enemies came from the other side.
“Give me a moment.”
Without needing a clarification after Senna called out to him two orbs of light were produced from each of his palms. One of them he threw up into the air, to no surprise this black market had a high enough ceiling to accommodate the illuminating light. The other light source remained above his head to help him see the things closest to them.
“They really did leave but…”
“Yeah, they left in a hurry…”
With the help of the illumination spell, the whole area became bright. The first thing that he noticed was that this black market was a lot larger than the one back in Albrook. Along with the whole width, there were levels going below. They were standing on the top floor and when looking down they could see a large open space. Roland felt as if he was standing in a large mall and looking down at the last floor that even with his spell was hard to make out.
“These stands were abandoned, some of the items are still there.”
“A black merchant left thar loot behind?”
Isabela was surprised as everyone knew that black market merchants were penny pinchers by nature. They would rather get injured than give away their money or wares that they could later sell. Yet these stands were abandoned with some strange herbs, potions, and even knives riddling the floor.
“Yeah, those monsters were here… look at that.”
Senna pointed everyone towards the wall where they could see some strange singular claw marks. They would align with the sharp tentacle blades that the spine eaters were equipped with but that was not the problem.
“If those creatures are here… where are the bodies?”
“That’s a good question Orson, you get five points.”
Orson frowned at the jab from Senna but only became more aware of the situation around them. Everyone was quick to pull out their weapons with the exception of two. One was the trickster and the other the armored man that was scanning the whole area for enemies.
“You can relax for now, even if there were monsters here they have left, I’d say that they’d probably went that way…”
“Ooh, Wayland gets fifty points!”“The hell? Why do I only get five points!”
“ ‘cos you are stupid.”
“Calm doon ye two, noo isn’t th' time fur this.”
While Dalrak was de-escalating the fight between the two Roland just looked in the direction of a certain large pathway. It was the most damaged one of them all, a lot of those claw marks were on the ground and they continued to the inside. There were signs of them trying to collapse the entrance but also of something pushing through which someone like Dalrak would probably notice as well.
“Where does that lead to?”
“Call me cap'n or Isabela, don't be a stranger now!”
Isabela frowned slightly while replying in a coquettish manner to Roland’s question. It didn’t seem that the woman was taking the whole situation as seriously as he did. Yet to keep it friendly he decided to just go along with her
“Uh… Then Cap’n does that perhaps lead to the thieves guild?”
“It does, 'ave ye actually been here afore?”
“No, it was just an informed guess but I hope that’s not the way that we have to go to reach the docks?”
“Aye, don't worry 'tisn't the way, t' the pier be in the opposite direction, follow me!”
Roland wanted to give out a sigh of relief as things seemed to for once be in his favor. Even though there was an outbreak in this area the monsters followed the thieves and merchants toward their main guild. This implied that most of the abyssal creatures would have gone that way but it didn’t exclude the possibility of them being in the other corridors.
“How the hell could those things ransack this whole place, what is that shitty thieves guild doing?”
Orson shouted out while looking around.
“This is strange, the guild shouldn’t be this weak.”
Senna brought up a good point. Something like a thieves guild would be well protected with their guild master being a tier 3 class holder. Unless all of their enforcers were on some kind of secret mission it was hard to believe that the tier 2 creatures could just go through the bodyguards and leave no bodies behind. Their absorption powers were known to everyone here so it wasn’t strange that there was nothing left behind in their wake. However, it wasn’t that hard to defeat them for people below tier 3 to the point of nobodies being left behind.
“I agree, we should be careful these monsters might be getting some help.”
“Do you mean?”
“Yeah, that’s a possibility.”
“What are you two talking about?”
“That’s why you only get five points.”
Senna and Roland exchanged nods while Orson’s face became even more confused.
“Don’t worry about it, let’s just get out of here, even though it's such a waste…”
Senna agreed with Roland that there had to be some kind of secondary abyssal cult presence besides the creatures here at play. There were a few possibilities like part of the thieves guild already being in their clutches or a strong cultist hiding away somewhere as well. Then there also could be some kind of hiding place even further below.
What the halfling was pouty about were all the black market items that were left behind. Even now she was shoving some of the expensive-looking wares into her spatial bag while going towards the tunnel leading to the docks. It wasn’t different for Roland as some of the strange potions that were here and there could prove beneficial in some way.
There was no time, if they rested for too long the things that left for the thieves guild could return here. It would probably take hours to get through all these collapsed stands. It wasn’t worth losing their lives over some money or this was at least what was on Roland’s mind. His new friends continued to look at the ground with more interest while picking up disregarded coins and items to check for their worth.
“Do we have to go? How about we just stay for ten more minutes I'm sure if we all contribute we can get a fine haul!”
Roland replied to Isabela’s plea for booty, he already knew where the way towards the docks was and he would drag the ship captain there if he had to. The light orb that was illuminating the ceiling soon popped thereafter which made plundering the area a lot harder. Begrudgingly everyone returned to the previous formation and continued down the next long corridor that should lead them to safety.
‘I have a bad feeling about this place…’
Even though the claw marks vanished from view there was something bothering him. For some reason, he felt like something was watching them but whenever he glanced at his radar he could not detect any nearby enemies.
This didn’t help as he knew that the technology he was using wasn’t perfect there was always a chance that something could be affecting his radar or that they found themselves in an illusion again. For this reason, he was constantly activating his debugging skill to see if any runes would appear and his eyes were becoming strained.
“We be well-nigh thar, see I told ye that we could 'ave …”
Some members already had noticed that they were slowly moving back up and on the right track. Isabela started shouting and pointing towards the next fork in the road that was supposed to be the last one. This was an indication of a gathering spot and all the tunnels here were probably all leading towards thief guild associated establishments like the pub they came from.
However, before they could jump in joy a strange sound appeared from behind. It was followed by a more clear sliding door noise akin to secret passages. Roland was in the backline along with Orson so they could see the wall going up before their eyes.
“Wait what are you…”
Before the door slid open Roland stomped with his foot on the ground. His right leg started glowing and this light was transferred to the ground. Orson was surprised by the quick reaction that produced a multitude of thick stone pillars. They all sprung in front of that secret passage that just showed up to shut it.
“Why are you spacing out? Run!”
After the spell was finished he turned towards his party and instantly bolted in their direction. If his radar was correct then they needed to flee and do it fast…