As the four travelers from other realms traversed the sewers, searching for a way to the surface they were forced to double-back several times because of collapsed tunnels. Eventually, they found themselves back at the door that lead to the chamber they appeared in.
Erin, the human from earth, motioned to the other end of the tunnel. They had exhausted all the options on one side of the door, but they still had the other half of the sewer system to explore. “The exit has to be here somewhere,” she muttered to herself.
– – –
The city of Brangmar, which once had great stone walls surrounding it and grandiose spires, each belonging to a different guild, was now in ruins. Sections of the city had sunk down into the sewers and while some sections of the walls were intact the vast majority had become rubble. Skittering around the city were cats, dogs, rats, and other similarly sized animals. All of them had a strange bluish tint, almost a glow, about them.
There was a pack of the creatures, known as teblats, fighting a stag that had strayed too close to the city. Perhaps it was trying to find shelter from the strong wind passing through the plains. The stag was winning at first, but after biting the stag the creatures appeared to regain some of their vigor. One that had a gash on its shoulder a moment before biting the stag had no sign of a wound after. The stag seemed to lose weight after a few bites and fell over, dead, without a sign of mortal wounds.
– – –
The group of sewer-weary adventurers gave a sigh of relief when they located a spire that had sunk into the sewer. The angle was just right for climbing and they could see the sky above them. It appeared to be getting close to dusk and they stopped, signaling each other. Eventually, they came to a consensus to spend the night in the sewer. After long disuse, the sewers had no large pools of water and large areas were clear of refuse, having been picked through by scavenging animals.
Setting up watch was a little difficult, but the humans would have the first and last watch with the Joutuun and the Salaman taking up the two in the middle.
After Erin’s watch, she woke up the Joutuun, careful not to get breathed on. “Your watch,” she muttered, knowing that even though he couldn’t understand her exact words he would get her meaning. She moved over to her bedroll, she had grabbed it from the chamber they appeared in, and fell asleep the second she closed her eyes.
– – –
When Erin opened her eyes she looked around and realized that she was still asleep. The landscape was foggy and it didn’t feel the same as being pulled from Earth to Domhan. Sitting in a chair in front of her was a tall, slender man in a jester’s laughing mask. She looked at the other surroundings and was unable to focus on them enough to even tell if she was inside or outside. Shrugging she approached the man in the mask and a chair appeared for her to sit in.
“Do you understand where you are?” The man in the mask’s voice seemed to echo like he was on the other end of a tunnel. All Erin could do was shake her head as she sat down. “I would’ve been surprised if you had.”
The figure motioned with his arm and a table appeared between them. It was a standard round table supported by a single column. On the table there were six instruments; a lute, a lyre, a flute, bagpipes, a drum, and a pan flute.
Staring at the table Erin managed to speak, asking a question. “What are these for?” Her voice sounded distant and didn’t echo like the man in the mask’s voice.
“Choose three, the knowledge of how to use those instruments will be imparted to you. Then choose one to take with you when you leave.”
Erin reached out her hand, lightly touching the bagpipes, the lute, and the pan flute. “These three.” Then she picked up the pan flute. “And I guess I’ll take this one.”
The man nodded. “Good choices.” He turned and pulled something from behind him. “Here, take this as well. Read it when you awake and you will gain some power. After that, it will disappear.”
The book was placed in Erin’s outstretched hand, she took it and set it on her lap.
“I’m The Jester, by the way, you’re the first person to not ask me who I am.”
“Oh, I had an idea you were a deity. That was enough for me.”
“Ah, but I’m not from Domhan. Mention me to your salaman companion, he’ll fill you in.”
– – –
Erin awoke to the sound of her companions breaking down camp. As she sat up in her bedroll she realized a pan flute was hanging from her neck, and a book was lying by her side. She opened the book and began to read, the letters were romanized, but the words weren’t English or any other language she had seen before. Eventually, the words seemed to gain meaning and Erin had gained some arcane knowledge and how music in itself was literal magic here on Domhan. As she finished the third page she felt the weight of the book fade and when she was done reading the book vanished.
“What was that?” The salaman was standing next to her bedroll. “It just disappeared.”
Surprised that she could understand Tribst, Erin answered him in his own tongue. “I had a strange dream last night. Someone calling himself The Jester gave me the book and this pan flute.”
Amazement shone through Tribst’s large eyes. “You met The Jester and can now speak Neverish? You must be a chosen bard! Do you understand what that means?”
“No, he said you would know who he was and didn’t explain anything to me…other than what was in that book.”
The Joutuun, Throbor, approached the two, obviously wishing to get on with their journey. “What’s taking so long? We need to get exploring so we know what we should do next.”
Erin was hoping that she would be able to understand all of her companions now, but she only knew through Trobor’s demeanor what he wanted her to do. Slightly disappointed she hurriedly packed up her bedroll and joined Aram at the bottom of the spire, still excited to see what would happen next.