The Crisis surreptitiously—well, as surreptitiously as a ship could manage, anway—docked at Lucrehold an hour or so after sundown. Several warehouses stood on the island’s southwest corner, along with outbuildings filled with apparatus for making olive oil. Harrigan’s notes indicated that the secret entrance was hidden beneath a tun in one of the warehouses.
“I think it’s this one,” Feruzi said, turning the map around and squinting. “Or . . . maybe that one.”
A quick reconnoiter of the warehouse revealed two entrances: a wide set of double doors, probably for wagons, and a side door for pedestrian traffic. Both appeared to be locked, but neither were obviously guarded.
“So, any witchcraft about?” Chopper asked. Feruzi rolled her eyes but cast a spell to reveal magical auras. None were in evidence. “I’m inclined to kick down the big doors,” Chopper continued, “but I assume I’ll be vetoed, so let’s just go the other way.”
Leila unlocked the door. It was dark and quiet inside. Chopper peered into the room nearest the door, discovering numerous dusty scrolls and ledger books. “Witch room,” he whispered. “Or, you know, accounts payable. One o’ those.” The next door opened into a long room divided into stalls by low wooden walls, perfect for taking cover should any shooting be required. Large barrels and ceramic amphorae were stacked within the stalls, filling the air with the smell of oil, wine, and beer. Following Harrigan’s notes, they located their specific tun of rum in the easternmost stall.
Feruzi stared at it in horror. “We can just move it, right? We don’t have to drink it?”
“Er, we don’t HAVE to,” Chopper said uncertainly, looking at Ezikial.
“This much rum, even he might not survive,” Reiko said. “I know that’s not putting much faith in his drinking abilities, but still . . .”
“I could go get Rosie and Grok,” Leila said.
“Is it possible for a man to die of happiness?” Chopper asked. “Surely there’s some sort of hidden catch hereabouts. Or a handcart.” Searching around revealed nothing. Shrugging, Chopper hefted his axe and laid into the barrel, chopping a hole and letting the rum pour out. Sandara grabbed a mug, filled it, and passed it to Ezikial, then filled one for herself. With the barrel mostly empty, they were able to heave it aside, revealing a trap door that opened on a rusting iron ladder descending into a rough-hewn tunnel that ran north and east and terminated in a dank room. A stone statue depicting Besmara stood in an alcove. It was once painted in bright, gaudy colors, but most of the pigment had flaked off, revealing green stone. Blue-green flames danced along the statue’s sculpted hair.
Moving on, they discovered a number of vaults—some with niches in the walls that turned them into crypts. The floor had subsided, allowing a pool of dark water to form. Four barnacle-enrusted corpses with glowing red eyes rose out of the water as they approached. Mist seemed to rise from them, obscuring the room. Chopper cursed and a great deal of flailing about ensued, ending with the draugr sent to their final final rest and Chopper rather scratched up and disarranged. Sandara helpfully cast some healing spells to restore his equilibrium and remove the after affects of too much undead mauling.
The traditional post-combat wrap up revealed a secret door in one of the burial niches, leading into another long tunnel leading north and east. This one ended in a small, damp cave, this one laid out like a hall of sorts, with evenly spaced torches filling the place with disturbing shadows. A collection of jagged metal heaved itself upright, extending an arm that ended in an enormous cannon barrel.
“Hello, my lovely!” Ezikial announced, charging forward. The cannon boomed and Ezikial went flying through the air, landing flat on his back, covered in blood. “Chopper!” he said indistinctly. “I simply MUST have one!”
“What, am I going to deny you a pet?” Chopper demanded as Reiko charged past him to engage the golem. Her katana blade scraped along the creature’s chassis, leaving a surprisingly massive dent and knocking loose what might have been several vital parts. The cannon golem sputtered and clanked ominously as it switched targets, winding up for another blast.
Chopper threw an axe at the golem, drawing its attention. He grabbed his crotch suggestively. “Oy, fullmetal ugly! Suck my nuts and bolts!” Strangely, the golem seemed to find this insulting. It gave a metallic-sounding screech and headed toward Chopper while Sandara frantically tried to heal Ezikial. Another boom and Chopper was flat on the ground.
A hail of bullets hit the golem, causing its torso to drop free of its legs with a horrible grinding noise. The top half tried to pull itself along, then fell to the floor as the alchemical magic powering it faded.
“Well,” Reiko said as Sandara scrambled after Chopper, “If they didn’t know we were here before, they do now.”