Chapter 12

The Infinite Staircase

December 1, 2019

The adventurers went all-in against the strange creature with the barbed tongue guarding the door in the red-grey cubic chamber. Through sheer force of arms and magic, the heroes overcame the beast which was incredibly resistant to damage. Once dead, however, it melted into nothingness, a sure sign of its otherworldly nature.

The ornate door it had been guarding was locked. Raz used her lock-picking skills to open the door and it led to a 10-foot square flagstone landing with stairs ascending to the left and descending to the right. Instead of surrounding walls and ceiling, however, there was nothing but limitless black void. 

Two similar landings with a single door were fifty feet away, one upstairs, the other down. The adventurers chose to investigate the lower door first, and after Raz picked the lock, the party found it led to a stately bedroom in the upper class First City of Bendajee. They found some scrolls and a silver coffer full of emeralds on a table but nothing else. At the sound of approaching footsteps they ran from the room, shutting the door behind them.

Heading upstairs, they found the other door more ominously designed from some sort of ebony. Again, Raz had to pick the lock, but on the other side they discovered a vast hall fashioned out of black marble with skeletal silver candelabras and black silk tapestries on the walls. Around the perimeter of the room was a shallow groove for flowing water which, on closer inspection, appeared to flow up a series of steps into an adjoining chamber.

The next titanic gallery had tall narrow windows looking out on a benighted landscape entirely set upon a 45-degree slope with gouts of volcanic flame here and there shooting into the starless sky. This chamber also housed a tall, strangely sculpted fountain in which the water seemed to flow backward, splashing up to the peak where it funneled into a spout pouring up into a hole in the ceiling.

As the adventurers tried to get their heads around the idea of backward-flowing water, a hairless middle-aged man appeared on the other side of the fountain, his face registering shock at the presence of the heroes. He told them they weren’t supposed to be here and that “The Master” will be very upset when he gets home. When pressed for more, the man grew increasingly agitated and then four beetle-like humanoids bearing tridents walked in and brandished their weapons, causing the party to flee.

They made it back to the door but it had closed and locked since they had left it and Raz had to quickly unlock it while the monsters teleported into their midst and began attacking. The fight carried over into the Infinite Staircase and raged up and down the steps, with the beetle-men teleporting back onto the stairs every time they were shoved off. Seemingly as resilient as the guardian they had fought before, it was a very close battle that felled half the party before they were able to defeat their opponents and drag their unconscious fellows back into the red-grey cubic chamber they started in.

While recovering from the beating they had all taken and waiting for the unconscious to come around (since they were utterly out of healing options), Sargael and William examined the scrolls they had snatched from the bedroom in Bendajee. Written in Infernal, they seemed to be the draft outlines of a complicated contract involving Jackerel, Charna Khan and Duke Veljan Bendajee. One clause in particular stood out, stating that Charna Khan owed Jackerel “one hundred souls more per monthly reckoning in addition to obligations already withstanding.”

It would seem there is a great deal more to Jackerel and Charna Khan than meets the eye.

Chapter 13: Return to Bendajee