The party is imprisoned. Outside, through small portals, they can see long gallows platforms and the systematic, programmed execution of Human workers—fifteen minutes, bodies hung, killed, and cleared—and beyond, across a giant plaza, the central transportation hub of Ferran. The contrast between freedom and death insults them. They know which side they're on.
The party (now Hardy, Balcazar, Orryn, List, and Arcos) doesn't have time to plan or react. They're at top platform. Below the gridded metal that supports their steps is the complex, full and infinite. They shiver at the space. In front of them is the bottom step of one of the many visible palatial, circular stairs that bring Dwarven engineers, Admins, and other Dwarven workers in and out of the complex. Bodies are heading down the stairs, bodies are walking past them. The party is caught in traffic. They can't keep up the ruse that was predicated on limited interaction.
They are stopped by an engineer. Guards are called. As soon as the party notices that the situation is uncontrollably spiraling towards chaos, they push upward and through the crowd, but a mass of guards are flowing down. The staircase is blocked. Guard are running from afield.
The party fights valiantly, but as skilled and determined as they are, they can't handle the numbers. They drop under the bludgeon of overwhelming force. They are hammered unconscious, stripped, and bound.
They awaken one by one: Arcos, Orryn, List, Balcazar, Hardy. It's cold and dim. They are in pain. Several have unhealed wounds. They're surrounded by stone and metal. Once their faculties push past their headaches, they understand they're in some sort of prison: five by five by five foot cells, each containing two prisoners. Some party members are paired with familiar faces, others unknowns.
Metal bars block access to a narrow access space beyond. Opposite the bars is a small portal to the outside, permitting the passage of a few rays of the pollution-shifted sun into their bleak cells.
The portal window looks on a large plaza. Dwarves gather and mill in the space. At the far side of the plaza is some sort of transportation depot. The party can't make out the coming and goings of the vehicles or trains, but small signs appear itemize departure and arrival locations and times. At the near side of the plaza, closer to the party are a set of stages and on each stage a supported horizontal timber with a spaced series of tied nooses. It's a view designed to show a prisoner's future.
Balcazar calls out and the rest of the party responds from different cells. They can't see those who aren't in their own cell, but the roll call ensures everyone is present.
Balcazar is paired with a Half-Orc. His name is Plakk. He's a fighter, he says so, but he doesn't talk or share much beyond that. He's angry. He walks to the front of the cell to shake the iron bars. They're well anchored and set deeply into the stone walls and ceiling. There is no hinge or cell door to rattle.
Balcazar and others in the party find the mystery of the their placement above their heads. Above each cell is a long shaft the diameter of a manhole, cut through the thick ceiling, large enough to lower someone through. Each shaft is barred from the top. Above is a room, some volume of space with a plain ceiling, but their limited viewing angle doesn't give the party much information beyond the obvious observation that there is space above.
Orryn is paired with a Tiefling. His name is Archar. He's a bit more talkative than Plakk and Orryn and him spend a few moments describing about how they ended up in this terrible situation. Archar says they're in the Public Works Administration building. They run the whole operation, all the processing and mining and labor. They're the most powerful entity in Ferran.
Balcazar watches a snake of prisoners being led up stairs onto the gallows outside and he watches their execution. Five minutes, twenty dead. Bodies are removed and the space is cleared in preparation for the for the next batch. It's a programmed, efficient performance of murder. A few Dwarves pause to watch. Most walk by.
Balcazar turns around, yells out, "We're leaving."
In response, from above they can now make out laughter and bits of a conversation between two Dwarves. The voices dwindle and disappear.
Archar has a secret animal companion, a Giant Wolf Spider that he can summon into and out of his reality. Archar looks up the shaft. It's impossible for an humanoid to climb, the walls are smooth, but his friend can help. He summons him into the open cell, scaring Orryn. Orryn in instinct reaches over his chest to pull out his dagger, but his fingers tug air. He backs into the corner.
Archar says, "He won't hurt—he's my friend. He'll help you get up."
Orryn swears. Notice would have helped.
Orryn goes with the flow. He finds a handhold on the narrow pedicel between the abdomen and body and pulls himself on its back. Archar commands the spider to get to the top of the shaft and it does without a slipped step.
Orryn pulls on the bars at the top. They're locked but the lock is basic and Orryn picks it with a careful yank. Not much foresight he thinks as he pulls himself into the room.
The room is small with a single door that opens to a wide hallway. There are openings for four other shafts on the floor. Orryn looks down, waves at those looking up. Around him, are most of the party's weapons stashed, and their clothing neatly piled.
Balcazar pulls on each metal bar in front of him, left to right. One has a little give. He pulls on it as hard has he can but nothing. The bar doesn't bend.
Plakk joins in. They pull as hard as they can. It's a desperate, preternatural exertion of strength by two fighters who have succeeded by strength and force of will.
The bar moorings snap from the top. A large chunk of granite falls the ground. Balcazar and Plakk lurch forward and slam against the remaining bars. The shock of sound brings everyone in the party forward to the front of their cells, and they are overjoyed to see the large frames of Balcazar and Plakk walk by. Balcazar holds the removed bar in his hand like a giant maul. He places it as a lever in between the bars of the List and Arcos's cell and pulls.
Orryn, now back down in the cell to avoid the uncomfortable exposure of the space above, comes up with his own plan to help the party escape. He'll fill the entire prison chamber with fluid from the engorged bag of holding. Everyone will swim out. In Orryn's mind, it's a completely sensible idea.
He doesn't ask or engage the other party members. He opens the bag of holding.
A torrent of white effluent erupts from the opening and slams Orryn against the wall. Fluid quickly pools inside the cell and then outside the cell. It's soon up to their ankles and then ten minutes later, their knees. Party members from other cells yell, wondering what the hell is going on. Balcazar and Plakk walk over. It's not what they would have done but they understand the intent. They grab the free cell bar and head to List and Arcos's cell and wedge the bar like a lever to break them free.
The fluid is waist deep before Balcazar and Plakk get the snap of rock and break free a bar on the second cell. Arcos and List are free. The move on to Archar's cell. The fluid level is chest deep. Orryn is swimming, propelled against the brick and metal like a ragged pinball by the force of the fluid from the bag.
Plakk and Balcazar are out of time. Archar is free but Hardy is still trapped in his cell. Fluid is at neck level. They have to full submerge themselves to get good leverage.
The inspiration of desperation gives them the power to burst Hardy out. Everyone is now free. Pockets of air are left. They swim into Orryn's cell and let the rising fluid carry them out the shaft and out into the room above.
Orryn pinwheels around, but the motion is subdued. The bag is nearly empty, and then, finally it stops.
Everyone shakes themselves off, grabs their belongs from the shelf, and dons their clothing and equipment as quickly as possible. They are fully armed. There are few additional items1 on the shelf, maybe left over from the last batch of executions. List quickly shoves them in a bag for later dissemination.
The hallway in front is clear.
They walk out. Archar points the party to the right. The head deeper into the complex.
They move slowly, carefully, but it's a large government facility with many workers. Hardy is able to quickly charm the first worker with charm person who helps guide the party to the exit.
Avoidance doesn't work indefinitely. They eventually they run into resistance. The facility alarms are tripped. They are hit by a mass of warriors, clerics, and casters. But this time they are ready and have the additional power of Archar and Plakk. They kill and move, kill and move, and hide when they can.
The party, huddled in a small office, adopts their now standard diversion. Those who can disguise themselves (Hardy, Archar) pretend to be Dwarven Guards. Those that don't remain as prisoners.
It's a quarter mile to the main entrance. Their hastily assembled work of social engineering gets them to the front entrance, and out the main gates. They turn right to the gallows as their final coda of deception but as soon as they're down the granite steps they sprint into the plaza crowd and towards what they now clearly see is a train depot. Two elevated trains are in port, on-boarding.
From behind them, they hear the shouts of the Admins. They run harder. They bounce off citizens, push them the ground, knock them aside with their weapons, keep their focus on the trains. If they make it to the depot they'll find a way on. They have no plan, but they've never had a plan.
They're under the arches and in the depot. And there, ahead, are the only symbol of freedom in the town. They'll take that opportunity.
A broken, engraved idol engraved with spirals: contains the spell fly but with duration of one day instead of 10 min. Single use.
A jagged shared of blue glass on a leather strap: Gives advantage on intelligence checks for 1 minute. Single use.