The sun began to set as the Chaytan traveled up the Treagir River to the city of Nigrum-Ursus. The city sprawled across a hill on the north shore of the river while construction began on the hill on the south side. The Champions of Elon were ushered ashore and funneled toward the gates to the caves underneath the city.
The Champions presented the token granting them a three-day pass into the city and as the guards were waving them in, someone took particular interest in them.
Captain Berend came over and demanded to know who the champions were, where they were from, what they were doing in Nigrum-Ursus, and how in the world did they obtain this token. The Champions answered his questions without revealing much more than they were simple travelers who obtained the pass from the Tall Mayor of Odenburg. Captain Berend offered a stern warning:
“You have exactly until the day after tomorrow with this pass, if you are still here after that, you will be arrested. I’m keeping my eye on you.”
The Champions entered the cave and saw something of great interest in the southwest corner of the cavern. An area that had been roped off by the Black Bear Clan military and what appears to be a large hole in the floor complete with a wench and pulley system to lower and raise people and/or items from whatever depths are below.
It was getting late and the group decided to sleeping accommodations at the Dead Gnoll Inn, and to no ones surprise, Captain Berend was seated at another table, watching over them the entire time.
The next morning the group followed the sloping ramp up to the top of the hill and it spills out into the marketplace. The group was able to get a good read on this city:
- Nigrum-Ursus is easily the biggest city the Champions have ever seen
- The guards/military population of this place is huge, probably of a ratio of 5 or 6 to 1 in comparison with Elon.
- The Walls, while not complete, are very impressive and never seen before
- The Cave, as it is called, contains the poorer section of the city, low income housing, and stores bulk goods.
- The Lower Hill is middle class housing and some shops.
- The Upper Hill includes the market square, upper class living, and the Fort.
Throughout the day, the Champions of Elon took in the sights, none was more disturbing than seeing a dozen Doombringer Orcs, under escort of members of the Black Bear Army, coming into town and being taken to the Keep. The orcs now all carry greataxes, much more formidable than the stone axes they had used in previous generations. Some of the Champions felt that the orcs seemed upset about something, while others saw that Black Bear Guards were on edge.
Over the course of the day the Champions of Elon were able to assist in the daily life of the people of Nigrum-Ursus, including the following:
- Helped a local woman who was watering her garden, she had little to no knowledge of agriculture
- Assisted with a local cook and showed him better ways to gut fish as well as better ways to season the meal.
- Lifted and repaired a wagon that had broken down of an older man while the guards ordered him to move it.
- Met the dwarf merchant by the name of Balnar Stonecutter, and gained a little insight about dwarven society.
- Participated in an axe throwing contest, the crowd was impressed by Jeorn Twoclaw as he won over the local favorite, Sinnhe.
- Helped a young boy from the caves find his dog, and saved the dog from an angry shopkeeper.
- Assisted in guards in the capture of a fugitive as he was hiding in a barrel in the marketplace.
Things were looking up for the Champions as they hoped to forge a new relationship with the centuries-old rival, the Black Bear Clan. Both that came to an immediate halt when High Chieftain Shadak arrived.
The leader of the entire city, a burley dark-haired man, standing nearly seven-feet tall, arrived in the marketplace with several personal guards around him. He stared the Champions down from across the marketplace. Captain Berend could be seen talking to him and gesturing back to the group, perhaps even pleading with him. The High Chiefain, with an angry look on his face, shook his head and walked off. Captain Berend came over and informed the Champions of Elon:
“Your pass has been revoked, effective immediately. I am to escort you back to your ship right now.”
Around the marketplace more and more of the Black Bear Clan guards start to arrive. Captain Berend personally walked them back to the Chaytan and gave them a sack full of food for their trip. His parting words acknowledged his honest observations.
“I have come to learn a great deal about you and your people, you seem to be an honorable clan. You have helped the Black Bear Clan numerous times today, and I thank you for it. Much success on your journey friends, may this food ease the burden of your voyage. You have a friend in Nigrum-Ursus.”
From here it was back in the boat, and according to what Balnar Stonecutter said, there was nothing else of interest up the Treagir River, so the Chaytan turned around and sailed back down the river to the Great Sea.
Continuing down the coast the Chaytan was passing by the Talenth Forest when someone noticed strange things below the shallow water. It was far too deep to dive to and explore so Cil shape-changed into a fish to explore. It appeared to be the remains of an ancient city that slide into the sea, but no further information was gained.
When Cil returned to the Chaytan the rest of the crew had spotted a commotion on the shore. A handful of elves had run out of the forest to a canoe which had already sunk. Right behind them was undead pouring out of the forest. In an act of heroism, the Chaytan sailed for the shore and assisted the Elves of the Talenth Forest against the undead, killing a revenant, and according to the elves, they had already killed it twice before.
The exhausted Talenth Elves thanked the Champions for their help and asked if they could assist further, as they took them to their camp. Here Queen Shyrick explained how undead have recently been pouring out of a recently discovered nearby underground ruin. Her people were working in shifts to try and hold them at bay, but it was a losing battle. The Champions agreed and entered the ruins.
Immediately they were set upon by a slow but steady trickle of undead. They pressed forward into the ruins and even came upon a room with a massive statue of the Scourge that was quite disturbing.
The champions plowed forward and finally came to the conduit that the undead were coming from. A huge cavern with a lake in the center of it. On that lake was a small island with what appears to be small room with four doors surrounding it. Every round another undead would shoot forth from one of the doors and begin attacking.
With painstaking slow progress, the champions finally reached the doors and one by one began shutting them. Things got worse when the revenant that they just killed on the beach, returned and sealed in the cavern. The brave Champions, some of them had fallen, continued their efforts to shut the four doors and eventually they were triumphant.
Once that was done they could concentrate on the revenant and the remaining undead and then reviving their fallen comrades. They had once again saved the day.
Queen Shyrick was relieved to hear the news and the tired and a battered Talenth Elves welcomed their first rest in weeks since this began. As a reward, Queen Shyrick gave them fine elven bows and imparted with the Champions the Unlocked Knowledge to make the bows for themselves.
As the Champions of Elon boarded the Chaytan to leave, Queen Skyrick arrived to speak with them once more. “You have done us a great honor today, one that Elves of the Talenth Forest will never forget. The world is a dark and dangerous place. I send with you our greatest warrior, Theren Strongdraw, to both aid you in your travels and to strengthen our new relationship.”
The story continues in Halfway around the World.