Eberron: Scales of War

Sul, Dravago 1, 998 YK - Show Me the Way to Go Home

When Pythas recklessly throws open the doors to the fortress entrance, the party is nearly overwhelmed by the shadar-kai that are stationed as guards. Using all their skills, and with no small amount of luck, the party emerges from the battle victorious. They pause to catch their breath before continuing on.

Pythas tries to catch his breath.
Pythas (gasping): I think I <cough> forgot to tell them <pant> that the Silver Flame was going to burn them.

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When the party has rested up a bit, they are ready to continue on. Having learned his lesson the hard way, Pythas alters his features to look like a shadar-kai as he crosses to the northern door, listening carefully before opening the door to discover the fortress’s barracks. The room appears to be empty at first glance, but another look around allows the party to discover a pair of feeble-looking shadar-kai cowering beneath the beds furthest from the door.

Pythas: You there….what are you doing?
Mikal d’Cannith goes over to them
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: Ahhh!
Mikal d’Cannith: Hello.
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage covers his eyes and trembles.
Mikal d’Cannith: Listen, we really just want to get the hell home. Where is the portal back to the prime material plane?
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage (uncovering eyes): Then why are you here? Why do you fight us?
Mikal d’Cannith: Self-defense, though we are intruding on your tower. We only came here after Modra.
Dulinamin: We were tricked by Modra into coming here. We don’t know why and now we’re just trying to get home.
Mikal d’Cannith: We were led to believe by several people the only way home was through a portal here in this tower.
Dulinamin (nods): That is forcing us to come through here and we are being attacked at every turn.
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: Modra? That son of a shadow serpent?! Why do you follow him? Are you allied with him? Sarshan will kill you for this!
Mikal d’Cannith: Noooooo. We were hunting him, and killed him.
Drake Ilvenet: Well, he jumped into a pool of lava, but I’d have certainly pushed him.
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: Killed him, eh? Hmm, probably better than he deserved, really. Sarshan was looking forward to flaying him alive, you know.
Mikal d’Cannith: Then just to make sure, his body went into the lava to prevent any attempt at resurrection. He did mention something about sabotage, so you might want to get on dealing with that. But we would really, really appreciate being allowed to leave without further combat.
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: Look, we have no quarrel with you. We are researchers only, not warriors or sorcerers.
Pythas snorts in annoyance
Pythas: Does Sarshan know one of his men is cowering under a bed? What does he do in cases of desertion?
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage glares at Pythas with hatred.
Pythas: I was just wondering. If you help us get home, the boss doesn’t have to know any of this happened after all.
Mikal d’Cannith: Pythas, no reason to be mean about him being aware of your awesome and terrifying capabilities.

Seeing that the shadar-kai is less than impressed with this boast, Mikal attempts to get back on track by informing the scared sage that he is himself an artisan and craftsman. The sage nods enthusiastically.

Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: Aye, I could tell. And I can assure you, if you seek to return to your plane, that skill will be needed. The portal you seek is on the level above. However, due to the tremors, it is currently not operational. You will need to fix it in order to pass through.
Berend Stonekeeper (mumbles to himself): Why does that sound about right?
Mikal d’Cannith: Not a problem for myself I am sure. If you wish to come with us, I am sure that I can find you a wonderful position with my family.
Pythas: Or in the Church of the Silver Flame. They love converts such as yourself.
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage looks at Mikal.
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: Your offer is kind, yet confusing. But I must refuse. I have my own family here, and I fear what Sarshan would do to them were he to find that I had abandoned my research.
Mikal d’Cannith: Ah, understandable. Tough I was led to believe that there would be nothing left due to Modra’s sabotage.
Pythas: Why don’t we just end Sarshan’s reign of terror? Wouldn’t that solve a lot more problems anyway?
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: It might, but I can assure you, you would never get near him. Sarshan is surrounded at all times by many guards. You would die in the attempt.
Drake Ilvenet: Then it’s very good for us we are not planning to attack him.
Mikal d’Cannith: Anyways, are the materials we need upstairs or elsewhere. What about Sarshan? We are hoping to avoid him. Also, if you could, I would be interested in any research you have.
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: I’m afraid I can’t provide you with our research. Again, I fear for my family’s safety should Sarshan discover that his secrets have fallen into enemy hands. Now go! The materials you need to fix the portal are in front of the archway.
Drake Ilvenet: And how do we get there from here? Preferably without fighting the rest of the tower’s occupants.
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: You can use the lift in the great hall to bring you up to the next level. The archway is in the room you will emerge into
.Dulinamin: Will there be guards waiting for us at the top?
Cowering Shadar-kai Sage: Not that I am aware.
Drake Ilvenet: Excellent. Let’s make our way out of here then. Also, we very seriously recommend leaving the premises with haste.
Mikal d’Cannith: Right, it was nice to meet you and enjoy what time you have left. Go see your family.
Pythas: Wait, we’re not going to kill him? Seriously?
Dulinamin: Why would we?
Pythas: Oh, I was having flashbacks to military days.

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The adventures make their way back to the great hall, and position themselves on the lighter tiles on the floor. Concentrating, they use the magical lift to levitate up through the hole in the ceiling to emerge in another chamber on the upper level. Dim light from globes of gray glass casts faint shadows throughout a dark garden. Though the trees and other foliage here appear healthy and luxurious, the leaves, stems, and flowers of these plants are sickly shades of dark blue, gray, and black. Along the south wall of this chamber stands a stone arch identical to the teleportation portals they’ve seen before. While the other stand guard against ambush, Mikal and Drake inspect the portal, trying to ascertain how to restore its function.

Drake Ilvenet: Hmm, it appears we can set the portal to allow only certain races to pass through.
Berend Stonekeeper: That could be useful.
Dulinamin (tinkering): Hmm, interesting. I made some adjustments here that should allow us to pass easily once the portal comes active.

As Mikal relates to the other that he’s determined that there are several crystals missing from the face of the archway, which is likely the cause of the portal’s malfunction, Pythas points out a mound of leaves nearby that gives him concern. A hissing sound precedes a cloud of insects suddenly boiling up from the shadows, swarming to attack. At the same time, wthe mass of mottled leaves Pythas mentioned rises up to reveal itself as an enormous beetle, which has viscous black fluid dripping from its joints as it lurches toward them.

The party leaves off from their work of repairing the portal to deal with this new threat. The swarms of rot scarabs claw and bite, while the beetle attempt to maul the adventurers in its jaws. Using area attacks to keep the bulk of the swarms at bay, the party focuses on the larger beetle, and quickly kills the beast. A short while later, the last of the swarms is dealt with, sending any stragglers back to their holes. However, before they can even catch their breath, a sudden shout comes from below. Through the open floor, they see shadar-kai guards coming through the main doors. With a curse, Mikal quickly dashes to the portal to continue his work, as the other search around for unbroken crystals. In one of the adjoining chambers, Dulinamin find a small box filled with undamaged crystals, and races back to Mikal with them. Before the crystals can be added to the portal, however, six shadar-kai hit the levitation lift, and footsteps in the distance herald groups of four coming through the doors of each of the towers. The squad that comes up from below is led by a grizzled captain, who has ritual scars standing out on his cheeks. Two panthers move at his side with teeth bared as they hiss.

Shadar-kai Captain: Stand down or your lives are forfeit!
Mikal d’Cannith: Let us go home, you have bigger problems them us leaving.
Drake Ilvenet: Yes, one would think you’d be trying to stop the forge from exploding
Shardar-kai Captain: I will not say it again. Stand down, or you will be killed where you stand!

Behind the captain, several more shadar-kai appear on the lift, swelling the ranks of the opposition. Meanwhile, Pythas is still in his shadar-kai disguise, and attempts to bluff his way out of the situation.

Pythas: Stand down, maggots! Or you’ll be cleaning latrines for a decade!
Shardar-kai Captain (sneers): Just who do you think you’re trying to fool… changling?
Dulinamin: We know what Mordra did in the foundry. Let us finish and let us leave. We will tell you what he did, and where. Perhaps you can save this outpost still.
Pythas (resuming normal guise): We’re trying to prevent your precious tower from detonating after that mess Mordra pulled. Like the sorcerer said.
Shardar-kai Captain: We saw the aftermath of your confrontations in the Foundry. In fact, it is because of this that you have not yet been killed. Sarshan wishes to speak with you.
Mikal d’Cannith (eyebrows raised): That is much different than what you first stated.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well where is he?

As if in answer, the garden is suddenly illuminated by a pulse of white light. The portal flares to life as it reveals the black shrine, and a familiar figure steps from that chamber into the garden. It’s the veteran they met in the Happy Beggar, but he is no longer stooped with the appearance of age and his scarred skin turns gray before their eyes. The guards around the adventurers salute the shadar-kai, who doesn’t hide his surprise at seeing them. He takes in the scene before him with a cold eye.

Pythas: Well, I should have suspected as much.
Sarshan: I am Sarshan. I assume someone has an explanation for this?
Mikal d’Cannith: Yeah, hmmm. We followed Modra here. Found him. Killed him. He said he sabotaged your operation here critically and we are trying to get out of here before the big boom he mentioned happens.
Sarshan glares at Mikal, the look on his face warning him to hold your tongue.
Sarshan: Thannu? Explain!
Shardar-kai Captain steps forward.
Thannu: Sir! These are the ones that infiltrated the tower through the Dark Foundry. They claim that the remains we found there are from their confrontation with Modra.
Sarshan (nods): Go on, Thannu.
Thannu: Yes, sir. As I said, they invaded the tower through your personal tunnel, and have killed all but the mongrel gnolls in the guest quarters on the first level. We have lost many fine warriors today, Sarshan, and I would see them punished!

Even as the captain finishes, a warrior enters at a run, calling to his master. As he approaches to whisper in Sarshan’s ear, the shadar-kai turns to the party with a look of wonder.

Sarshan: You are quite literally the last people I ever expected to see here. The charges my captain levels against you warrant torture and death. Yet it would seem that the sabotage in my foundry was not complete, that perhaps, just perhaps, you kept Modra from doing any further damage than he did. What do you have to say for yourselves?
Berend Stonekeeper: You are right in that we are the ones who put an end to Modra, and perhaps his attempted sabotage.
Mikal d’Cannith: Can we talk about this somewhere safer, which hopefully wont be exploding anytime soon.
Sarshan: I can assure you, we are quite safe here. The warrior you just saw a moment ago came to inform me that the pressure build up in the lava tubes has been released, and the foundry’s functions are returning to normal.
Dulinamin: We came here for Modra, apparently possibly saving your foundry as a result. We had no wish to fight your soldiers but they attacked without mercy. All we want is to go back to our plane.
Sarshan sighs.
Sarshan: As far as you’ve managed to infiltrate my operations, I can only assume you know a little of who I am. My wealth and reputation turn largely on honor, obligation, and secrecy. When I spoke to you of Modra, I hoped you would kill him and save me the risk of more exposure than he had already caused. The fact that you journeyed here to do the job is a surprise, but for your part in ending his threat to me and whatever he meant to do in the foundry, I am in your debt. However, for your role in the death of my personal guards, you are more greatly in mine. Here is a bargain that balances the obligation for all of us. Join me.
Mikal d’Cannith: While interested, I’m not sure I can, due to previous obligations.
Sarshan: Your skill at arms is clearly first rate. I offer you a place to use and advance that skill. Moreover, I offer you a place where you might live long enough to enjoy the fruits of your bravery. In a month, or six, or a year, your world will be a place you will not want to live. Join me here instead.
Berend Stonekeeper: On one thing you are correct. Our skills are first rate.
Drake Ilvenet: Well I do enjoy living.
Sarshan (to Drake): You I do not know, but you stand in good company. My offer stands for you as well, eladrin
Dulinamin: I already have a mistress and know of no way to forsake the link that binds me to her. The best I could do, is promise to stay until my mistress recalls me.
Drake Ilvenet: Okay, so what would it entail if agreed to your offer?
Pythas: Look, Srashamasamason, Leave my friends out of this. Let them go, you can kill me as a sacrifice. As a priestess of the Silver Flame, I can’t abide your offer.
Pythas reverts to Py, changeling of the Silver Flame, and steps forward, hands exposed.
Sarshan nods sadly.
Sarshan: I understand. However, I have no need of sacrifices. Either you agree to my terms… ALL of you… or you refuse. The choice is yours. But I do not have all day. Choose now.
Berend Stonekeeper: And we would remain as a team?
Drake Ilvenet: I for one vote for joining the winning side.
Berend Stonekeeper: I don’t see any other choice
Dulinamin: As long as you can accept that an other’s call could take me away, we will join with you. I don’t know when or if she may call, but I will have no way to refuse. Is this acceptable? I don’t believe the others have this stipulation.
Sarshan: Wise choice. Thannu, take the new recruits to the barracks, and gear them appropriately. I need to see to the movement of troops. I will speak with you later.
Thannu snaps to attention.
Thannu: Yes sir!

Sarshan favors the party with a final glare, then joins the warriors remaining on the lift. The shadar-kai warriors and their leader descend to the lower level. Thannu watches as Sarshan and the other guards leave the tower through the front door before turning back to the adventurers.

Thannu: You may have fooled Sarshan, but you do not fool me.
Berend Stonekeeper: Never intended to. Shall we dance?
Thannu: I will kill you all for the deaths you have caused today.
Drake Ilvenet: You can try.
Dulinamin: I think you’re just going to add to our “debt” to Sarshan.

The enraged captain attacks, his panthers joining in the fray. The party manages ot keep the shadar-kai at a distance, though not without catching their own share of wounds. As the others hold off their attackers, Mikal manages to add the remaining crystals to the archway, and the portal flares to life. At the same time, a violent tremor shakes the ground.

Drake Ilvenet: Let’s get out of here!
Mikal d’Cannith: GO!
Mikal grabs a couple of vials from his pack.
Py: Don’t stay behind.
Mikal d’Cannith: I’m only leaving a present!
Mikal d’Cannith tosses 2 Alchemists fire in the air as he steps backward into the portal.
Mikal d’Cannith: Bye!

The vials of alchemist’s fire smash to the ground, igniting and catching the panthers and their master in the blast. Another tremor shakes the ground, felt even within the confines of the black shrine, and the adventurers struggle to keep their footing. Seeing that the party has escaped through the portal, he orders the remaining panther to follow as he retreats to the lift and descends to the lower level. However, due to the precautions taken during their repairs, the panther is unable to pass through, and comically slams head first into the portal’s surface.

Berend Stonekeeper: Phew, had me quite worried there for a second. Thanks for the save, Drake.
Drake Ilvenet: Of course, anything for my rescuers. But now, how do we deal with these portals?
Mikal d’Cannith: Hmmm. You need a specific ritual to do that. Best stopgap would be to fill it in.

The way home lies through the portal in the center of the room. All that remains is to activate it with the brass key. Just then, a skittering fall of rock down the rift gives a split-second’s warning of another tremor, bigger this time. The cavern pitches around them—a crack like thunder echoing as the northern wall splits and heaves. And with a groan, the archway they just passed through crumbles and falls as a blast of arcane energy slams out across the chamber. Where it strikes the Shadowfell archway, a flare of black erupts from the stone, congealing into six wraiths, which immediately attack!

Having dealt with wraiths several times already, the party is no stranger to the creatures’ attacks, so are able to make quick work of the foul undead. As another tremor threatens to collapse the chamber around them, Mikal shoves the brass key into the face of the portal, activating the way home. Within seconds of the last adventurer passing through, the walls of the black shrine collapse. With a flash of arcane light, the portal disappears, leaving the archway empty and inactive.

Py: Cutting it a little close there.
Drake Ilvenet shakes his head and sighs.
Drake Ilvenet: I’ll give you fellows this, that certainly wasn’t boring.
A dim light illuminates the dark room.
Prashant: Who’s there, now?
Ausma: Don’t make us call the Watch, see!
Mikal d’Cannith: Please don’t. I don’t want to deal with the hassle of explaining all this for hours on end.
Berend Stonekeeper: It would be a long tale for sure.
Drake Ilvenet: But how will we make the women swoon over our heroic deeds if we don’t tell anyone, though?
Mikal d’Cannith glares at Drake.
Drake Ilvenet puts up his hands as the proprietors of the Happy Beggar almshouse, Prashant and Ausma, emerge into the chamber holding a lantern aloft.
Prashant: Oy, I know you lot! You was just in here day ago, wasn’t it? What are you doing in my basement?
Ausma (looks around): This is hardly the basement, Prash. Unless you expanded it without me knowing.
Mikal d’Cannith: Just seal this room and we’ll be back later to deal with it.
Mikal d’Cannith starts to leave.
Prashant looks around at the room, then gasps aloud.
Mikal d’Cannith ignores him and keeps going.
Prashant: Host preserve us! This chamber! I do believe it was once a shrine to the Dark Six!
Py: Oh that bunch of dicks.
Prashant: Come, dear. We won’t be staying here one moment longer. Let’s go.
Berend Stonekeeper: Yes you will probably want to do something about that.

The party follows Prashant and Ausma back up to the Happy Beggar almshouse main room, where Ausma busies herself fetching them all some tea. Over tea, the adventurers relate their tale to Prashant and Ausma, who seem shocked to discover that a sinister business was going on right under their noses.

Prashant: So the portal to the Shadowfell? Is it still active?
Drake Ilvenet: Well it’s buried by 10 tons of rubble on the other side, so it’s probably a bit difficult to use at the moment.
Prashant (nods): Well, I suppose that’s good, at least. Still, I think you’ll be wanting to inform the Council of the activities of this Sarshan fellow. If he’s been using any of the warehouses in Outlook for his operations, they’ll want to ferret them out and destroy them.
Mikal d’Cannith: Seize them, not destroy them.
Prashant (shrugs): Whatever. Either way, you let them know. You’ve done this city a favor ending that creature’s foul activities, that I can tell you for sure.
Drake Ilvenet: End might be a strong word. Delayed seems more apt.
Ausma: Aye, Prashant’s right. But you all look a fright, and you must be exhausted. It’s not much, but we have some small rooms you’re welcome to use, if you wish.
Berend Stonekeeper: I could use a good long rest that’s for sure.
Drake Ilvenet yawns
Mikal d’Cannith: Just get us a taxi or cart or some such. I want a nice hot bath before I sleep.
Ausma smiles.
Ausma: That can be arranged, young man. Come now, you follow ol’ Ausma. She’ll get you fixed up. Come on now.
Ausma hurries off toward the back rooms, fussing the whole way.

.

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Sul, Dravago 1, 998 YK - The Tower of Umbraforge
or Why It's Important to Listen at Doors First

After the unexpected and desperate suicide of the dark one, Modra, the party seeks to enter the tower of Umbraforge in an attempt to find the portal back home. Searching the wall Modra indicated before his death, they find the edges of a door hidden in the shoddy construction of the foundry wall. Beyond the door is a dimly lit tunnel which leads to what appears to be a dead end.

Pythas: Someone help me search this wall. It looks like a dead end but…you know.
Berend Stonekeeper: Hmmm… Odd, there’s a lot of fine debris, like bits of plaster or something, on the ground.
Drake Ilvenet: I think I see the door

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Drake indicates the door’s outline to the others. Pythas looks at Drake in confusion, or more likely embarrassment for not having seen the door himself, but silently pushes open the door. Dim light fills this area from globes of gray glass set around the room. Shelves of books and scrolls line the walls here, and a large table covered with scrolls and bound volumes dominates an adjoining chamber. A female shadar-kai stands there, looking up in astonishment. Two shadar-kai warriors, katars at their belts, scramble away from the door in surprise. A third warrior is digging through books on a nearby shelf, his greatsword leaning against the wall a few feet away. The shadar-kai immediately attack the party as they emerge from the tunnel, one of the nearest warriors pulling down a bookshelf to spill its contents across the floor.

By now, the adventurers have become quite familiar with the tactics of the shadar-kai, and quickly work to thin the ranks. When the first of the enemy is slain, the witch activates a lever on the wall, which sends bolts of necrotic energy through the room, focusing solely on the party. Drake fights his way through the melee to the control panel, where he stabs his sword through its mechanisms, permanently ending its attacks. Meanwhile, all the shadar-kai have been slain save the witch and the gloomblade, who are quickly overwhelmed, sending them to join their kin in Kyber.

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With the enemy in this room dead, the party cautiously peers into the next room, where they find what appears to be a great hall, filled with couches and other lavish furnishing. The room is also occupied by some shadar-kai, a dark one, and a wraith! Seeing the adventurers emerge form the library, they shadar-kai shout a warning as they move in to attack, why the dark one calmly orders the wraith to attack as well.

The party joins the fray with abandon, moving about the room to keep the enemies from flanking. A patch of lighter tiles int he middle of the room produces an odd effect similar to vertigo, but being sorely pressed there is no time to dwell on this oddity. The shadar-kai swing their chain weapons to little avail, and are quickly slain, as is the dark one. The wraith, while a more sinister opponent, still gets overwhelmed and eliminated, leaving the party alone to catch their breath. Pythas inspects the lighter tiles on the floor, noticing that there is an opening in the ceiling directly above. He realizes that the lighter tiles are in fact a magical lift, which with a mental command will carry the used up to the next level. However, fearing to go further into the tower without knowing what may still be lurking in this lower level, the party opts to clear the remaining rooms.

Throwing caution to the wind, Pythas strided to the southern doors and throws them wide open without first stopping to inspect or listen. To the party’s horror, beyond the door lies the fields of Umbraforge… and eight shadar-kai warriors, who are equally surprised by the party’s presence in the great hall. Shaking off their surprise, the warriors attack.

After their previous exertions, the adventurers are sorely pressed to defeat their enemies, who attack furiously. The party ultimately prevails; however, their resources are dwindling, and they still need to find a way home. The idea of taking the opportunity to find someplace to hide and rest is dismissed as a great tremor again shakes the ground, causing the tower to sway dangerously. They have little choice but to fight on.

Will they ever make it home… alive?

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Sul, Dravago 1, 998 YK - The End to Modra

The party has taken advantage of the tent provided by Leena to rest and tend to their wounds, preparing to confront Modra later that evening. At the sixth bell, they arise, and spend some time in the marketplace picking up some sorely needed supplies. As the hour grows nearer to the eighth bell, the party gathers near the edge of the camp where they joined by Leena.

Leena: I hope you are well rested. I know not what you will find in the dark foundry, but I can be sure that should Modra be in there, he will fight with all the fury he is known for.
Berend Stonekeeper: And I’m sure there are other things in there that will be just as viscous.
Leena nods.
Leena: Yes, you would be right in that assumption. The foundry holds Sarshan’s experiments, most of which I have not laid eyes on. If the rumors I hear are true, you will need all your skill to best both the beasts and Modra.
Drake Ilvenet: Sounds delightful.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well, as we always do, we’ll find a way to survive.
Leena nods, then looks up to the sky.
Leena: The hour grows late. The troops will begin their movement soon. You should make your way to the foundry and get into position.
Berend Stonekeeper: Certainly.
Leena: I will you good fortune, and offer you my thanks. Modra was once an honorable creature, but he has grown reckless. Still, I would not wish upon anyone what Sarshan surely has in mind for him.
Berend Stonekeeper: Thank you for your wishes. So as a quick note, are we trying to sneak in with the mercenaries, or are we going to see if we can squeeze through that crack in the wall?
Leena: How you get into the foundry matters little to me. Once you leave this camp, I know you no longer. Now go, you have but minutes before the hour is upon us. Go!
Leena turns abruptly, disappearing into the crowds.
Dulinamin: I believe we’re going for the crack in the wall and then finding him and his mercenaries afterward.
Berend Stonekeeper: That works for me.

The party leaves the confines of Leena’s camp, making their way over to the alleys near the dark Foundry. As they go, Mikal passes out the results of his day’s labors, a curious mixture that he says will help to resist some of the Shadowfell’s native energies. When they reach the alley across the street from the foundry, they quickly spot the breech they’d noticed before, and ascertain that it liekly will be easy to get through. However, there is the still the matter of the guards around the building. A claxon call of horns sounds out from the east. A haze of red light glimmers against the clouds as the cascade of the magma shadow rift flares. As Leena predicted, a huge force of mercenaries is on the move, heading out along the west road. The guards at the tower and the bridge turn to watch as Sarshan’s forces move out, leaving an open path to the breech.

The party quickly makes their way across the street tot he breech, trying to sneak past the nearby guards. It is indeed fortunate that the marching army makes creates such a din with their passing, as the party’s dash across the road is hardly soundless. Still, they make it to the breech where Berend determines that it needs to be secured before the hole can be widened, else the wall will collapse on the first person to pass through. They quickly grab onto any nearby materials and secure the loosest stones and debris before Berend announces that it is safe to pass. The hole is widened, and the party at last enters the dark foundry.

Player_Map_Dark_Foundry.jpg

Within the foundry, lava flows into a tench that divides the room. The red glow of the lava trench is shrouded by shifting clouds of shadow and steam. Huge stone vats with steel doors line both sides of the massive chamber, where great arrangements of pipes and vents connect them.
Two squads of what look like hobgoblins, their bodies seemingly cloaked in shadow, work here, supervised by another cloaked figure. They work busily at two sections of pipe that divert and channel the lava flow. Closer to the door, two other shadowgoblins stand guard.
Before the enemy has a chance to react, the part attacks! Pythas conjures two icy tentacles, placing them in the middle of the nearest clusters of shadowgoblins, as the rest of the adventurers race into engage the creatures. The shadowgoblin who seems to be in charge shrieks in rage, glaring at the party with malicious fury. It’s MOdra, and he is PISSED!

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Modra snarls as he sprints for the closest vat, pulling down on a great lever next to the door. He dodges out of the way of a blast of steam. As the door opens, it spills a huge mass to the ground in a fountain of viscous green fluid. Out of it rises an enormous two-headed boar, bellowing as it claws the ground.

Mikal d’Cannith: This won’t stop us Modra, it will only make your end worse! You should have left us alone, you cowardly little shit!

While Pythas’s conjured tentacles make quick work of the nearby shadowgoblins, there is stillt he matter of the huge boar, Modra, and the pair of shadowgoblins shooting arrows at them from the south. Still, the party is hardly a novice crew, and they quickly manage to turn the tide in their favor. The boar goes down first, leaving Modra alone to face the surrounding adventurers.

Pythas: Modra, surrender now and we won’t turn you over to Sarshan!.
Modra: You’ll have to kill me first, human! I’ll see you in hell!

Modra takes a final swing at Drake before trying to make a run for it. However, as he passes him by, Drake swings his longsword, knocking the dark creeper to the floor where he lays in a pool of his own blood.

Drake Ilvenet: Well Modra, you did insist after all.

With Modra and the boar defeated, the party focuses on the two enemies remaining that continue to fire arrows at them. The shadowgoblins should have taken the opportunity to flee, however, as they are quickly overpowered and slain.

Drake Ilvenet: Well that didn’t quite go as planned, but any fight you can walk away from and all that.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well, you know the rule. All plans are shot as soon as combat begins.
Dulinamin: We fulfilled the bargain we made with Leena.

A sudden rasping breath startles them. When they move to investigate, they discover that Modra is alive… barely. The dark creeper holds his hand to a wound in his side from which copious amounts of blood flow. His breath shallow, he stares at the adventurers with undisguised hatred.

Drake Ilvenet (frowing): Well I guess my aim was a touch off then.
Modra: You… you think… you think you’ve won? Fools!
Dulinamin: I certainly think you didn’t win, so that is at least a partial victory for us.
Drake Ilvenet: I’m feeling pretty good for the moment.
Berend Stonekeeper: Battles are won and lost every day… the war, and life continue.
Modra curses.
Modra: I didn’t mean me! You allow Sarshan to continue building his armies, and moving them to your world. Hahaha! You’ll see. He needed to be stopped. But it’s no matter. You may have killed me, but the damage is done. I finally got that bastard back!
Mikal d’Cannith: And you wanted to help cause his downfall?
Berend Stonekeeper: What was your plan? I’m game to make Sarshan pay, as well.
Dulinamin: It’s hard to imagine you had noble intentions here.
Modra: Bah! I never claimed nobility. I claim revenge!
Mikal pulls out a healing potion, shaking it as he shows it to Modra.
Mikal d’Cannith: Hmmm? Make it worth our while and this won’t be your end.
Modra coughs weakly.
Mikal d’Cannith: Fuck it.

Mikal grabs the dark creeper and quickly pours the contests of the vial down Modra’s throat. Modra tries to spit the liquid out, but anticipating such an action, Mikal slaps his hand over Modra’s mouth and nose. The dark creeper thrashes in panic, trying to avoid swallowing the healing potion, but ultimately concedes. His thrashing stops as the bleeding slows and the worst of his wounds begin to heal.

Drake Ilvenet: Oh well, I never got what I wanted for Festivus either. Just want to point out that I am now all on board with the killing him plan.
Mikal d’Cannith (ignoring Drake): Now, what did you do?
Modra: You bastard! What didn’t we do? We’ve damaged the pipes that control the lava flow. With the pipes broken, the pressure will build, and this whole side of the mountain will explode, bringing down that asshole’s tower and this damned Umbraforge! Of course, this is worse for you than it is for me! Hahaha!
Mikal d’Cannith: Nice. In which case, how the fuck do we get out of here?
Modra: The only way out of here is through the portal in the tower. And you’re not getting through the front gate, let me tell you that right now. I do know a way in though.
Berend Stonekeeper: Oh, and what is this way?
Mikal d’Cannith: And should you survive your sabotage, what will you do?
Modra: Pfft, I don’t expect to survive. That was never the intent. I just want that bastard brought low.
Drake Ilvenet: Well then imagine a magical world of wonder where we don’t just run you through right now.
Modra: Fine. Kill me now. And stumble around here until the place blows up. Matters nothing to me. But this was his laboratory, and Sarshan would never lower himself so much as to walk among the rabble of his hired mercs. No, he has a tunnel that connects the foundry to the tower.
Drake Ilvenet: You are not one for the finer subtlety of language. You just said you didn’t care if you died, well now you might not. Food for thought?
Modra (grins wickedly): It’s early yet.
Berend Stonekeeper: Supposing you know where this tunnel is… what’s say you tell us.
Dulinamin: Tell us where the tunnel is, or we can use you to buy our way in. I’m sure Sarshan will have enough time to make you regret that decision.
Modra (blanches): Look, I was planning to tell you. Come here.

Modra stands up stiffly, moving over to the nearest pipe. He points down a small path formed by the pipe, tanks, and nearby wall.

Modra: The passage is through that wall there. Just need to follow it through, and you’ll end up in the tower in no time.
Dulinamin: And there’s no way that your sabotage here can be undone?
Mikal d’Cannith: Not if he’s any good.
Drake Ilvenet: Besides I’m pretty sure we’re just fine with blowing up the… Umm!

As the party looks to where the dark creeper points, Modra suddenly throws himself into a backwards tumble, coming to his feet several feet away from the adventurers. Before they have a chance to react, they watch in horror as the dark creeper darts to the edge of the lava trench and throws himself into the molten flow. He is vaporized instantly.

Drake Ilvenet: O…kay. Did anyone else not see that coming?
Berend Stonekeeper: Damn creepers… I’ll never understand their logic.
Dulinamin: I thought he was a survivor and was expecting a guide out of this plane, followed by him somehow escaping.
Berend Stonekeeper (shrugs): Dust to dust… ashes to ashes…
Drake Ilvenet: Crazy to crazy

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Sul, Dravago 1, 998 YK - New Clues, New Allies

Having entered into the make-shift mercenary city at the base of the tower, the party has been making discreet inquiries into the whereabouts of Modra. In the course of their investigation, they uncover indications that Modra is not the major player here, that instead, a shadar-kai named Sarshan runs the show. Inquiries regarding Sarshan turn up little about the mysterious shadar-kai, although it would seem that he is extremely put out by Modra, and would like nothing more than to see the dark creeper dead.

The party continues through the city, visiting locations of interest. Having been rebuffed at the gates of the largest foundry building, they believe that something important must be taking place within, and gaining entrance is key. However, after sneaking up to the building as close as they dare, the building seems to be impenetrable, leaving entrance to the building only though the front gates.

Image_Umbraforge_Market.jpg

Discouraged, the adventurers venture over the markets, where Pythas attempts to steal a dagger from one of the many booths selling weapons. However, as he snags the dagger, he locks eyes with a shadar-kai witch who stands across the street. The witch wears a black cloak edged with adamantine bead, and she keeps her long hair plaited to hang down her back. Gold piercings line her ears and lower lip, and a black starburst tattoo encloses her right eye. She suspiciously glares at Pythas, who sneers back at her. Disgusted, the witch ignores Pythas, and the party quickly makes their way from the area.

Mikal offers his services as an artificer at a nearby booth, offering to show the merchant how to craft one of his specialties in exchange for information. The merchant agrees, and Mikal quickly sets to his task, asking the merchant about the dark foundry and the potential of finding work there.

Merchant: Can’t say that I’d have any idea how you could swing that. Sarshan’s a bit secretive about what goes on in there, and even tighter about who he allows in. I can tell you what I have heard, though. You seen the slave bazaar, right? That there’s about more than just slaves and soldiers, you know. What I hear is that Sarshan experiments on some of the slaves, trying to build new soldier races. The experiments with the beasts he brings in… they’re just the start of it all. I tell ya, I’d hate to have to face off agin anything that comes out of that there place.

Meanwhile, Berend opts for a more direct approach, and begins roughing up a mercenary of less than intimidating stature, demanding to know why there are so many mercs gathered. The cowardly mercenary claims that while Sarshan still uses shadar-kai and dark ones as his elite troops, he has been bringing mercenaries from the world to Umbraforge for training before dispatching them to points unknown.

Following up on the information from the weapons merchant regarding the slaves, they party makes their way toward the slave market. There, Dulinamin asks one of the slavers about Modra, specifically what it was that the dark creeper has done to so enrage Sarshan.

Slaver: Oh you know about that, eh? Damn fool Modra was, seen? Shoulda knowed better. Sarshan refused a job for some orc king, seen, who was a-planning a raid on a dwarven citadel. Somethin’ Watch, I think it was. Anyway, Sarshan never makes a sale if it has a chance of coming back to him, and for good reason. Good thing, too, cuz the job went bad, they say, and people know that Modra’s the one that sold the orcs their weapons.
Slaver begins to laugh, then chokes on a wad of phlegm which he spits on the ground.
Slaver: As to escaping? Lemme put it this way. If Modra be smart, he’ll be spending the next days getting drunk and screwing every whore he done come across, cuz he’s not long till Sarshan finds him, and kills the bastard.
Dulinamin: I’ve met Modra before. Not the brightest sunrod in the alchemist’s shop. But very slippery.
Slaver: Aye, ye’d be right on that, now. Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get me stock ready for the block.

Player_Map_Smoke_and_Shadow.jpg

As the slaver moves through the crowd to gather his “stock” for sale, the ground begins to tremble. However, while previous incidents have passed quickly, this one builds to a furious shaking that threatens to knock the adventurers off their feet. At the same time, a blast of molten rock and raw darkness erupts from the earth several yards from the slave market stage. As the tremor subsides, movement can be seen through a haze of smoke and shadow. From the boiling fissure, a pair of winged shapes erupts—plus a large hound and a humanoid creature claws their way up behind them. All four creatures writhe with living flame, howling as they attack.

The creatures are very strong, attacking with flame and bite attacks as they engage the party. he fiercest opponent is the hell hound, which closes in and lets loose a great breath of fire, injuring Drake and Berend who are caught in its path. The fire bats stay out of range for the most part, swooping in to slap anyone in the way with their fiery tails. The final enemy, a magma hurler, stays out of range, throwing molten rock into the middle of the fight. Berend, who has not taken the opportunity to see to his wounds from their previous battle, soon is overwhelmed and knocked unconscious. Mikal quickly comes to aid, healing the dwarf enough to get him back on his feet and into the fight. That party regroups, and turns the tide against the fiery creatures, and soon the creatures are defeated. Though the party braces themselves for another wave of the creatures to emerge, the vent continues to spew fire and shadowy smoke for a few minutes before it finally begins to close until all traces of it are gone, and the trembling ground quiets.

Berend Stonekeeper: Who invited these guys to my party?
Drake Ilvenet: I imagine there is more to that volcano than meets the eye.
Dulinamin: I have a healing potion if you need it to help see to wounds.
Mikal d’Cannith: We have time, so no need to worry now. However, next time I suggest you take a break, its not really a suggestion, Berend. Hopefully, this will teach you that.
From the nearby slave bazaar, cheers go up as the crowd applauds.
Drake Ilvenet: I’d take a bow, but to slavers, that seems a bit gauche.
Dulinamin: Maybe that will make it easier to get some info around here.
Berend Stonekeeper: If we’re lucky.

Getting a tad desperate to get a solid lead on Modra, Dulinamin uses his “way” to intimidate one of the mercenary commanders into sending his troops on their mission, deliberately referencing the weapons deals Modra brokered with the orc king.

Merc Leader: You think I have any say in who goes where and when? Bah! I just get this sorry lot in fighting shape, and then they get sent where ever they’re needed. I don’t ask, you know. Thing is, the Shadowfell is only a stopping-off place for Sarshan’s mercs. A force of archons from the Elemental Chaos was here not six months ago. I saw githzerai from the Astral Sea in Umbraforge once. I don’t know what job Sarshan has hired them for, but I’d hate to be the one who gets in their way.

Getting the sense that the commander is a bit chatty, Mikal offers to patch up the wounds of the commanders crew. As he works, Mikal keeps up a steady, non-threatenign dialogue as the merc leader looks on with interest.

Merc Leader: That’s some fine work, there. I’m sure Sarshan could find some use for you in the trenches, wherever they might end up. I tell ya, Sarshan’s mercenary operation has tripled in size in the the last few months, but get this… it’s not in the Shadowfell that they’re to be fighting in. When these merc troops are finally bought and sent on the march, they are bound for portals to the world. Shadar-kai, dark ones, undead, giants, ogres, trolls, gnolls, orcs—Sarshan has the armies of two planes on the march. War is brewing in the world, but the forces that will fight it are moving into position in the Shadowfell, unseen. The denizens of the world are never gonna know what hit them.

The adventurers have asked their questions and have determined a great deal. This Sarshan seems to be a force to be reckoned with, especially if it would seem that he is mobilizing troops for an attack on Khorvaire in the real world. They have also learned that Modra, while a monumental pain in the ass, is not the real threat to them, but rather a desperate creature who is in fear for his life. Too bad… he should have thought of that before he tried killing them over a brass key!

As they ponder this information, their path draws them back toward the dark foundry in the tower’s shadow. The guards still patrol the gates, but as they walk around the building and step out of sight of the guards, they see what looks to be a small breech in the building’s walls that may allow them entrance if they time their approach just right. As they make their plans to breech the foundry, a voice from the shadows startles them.

Female Voice: You are the odd mercenaries, aren’t you?
From the shadows steps the shapely form of the shadar-kai witch you saw in the market place. She smiles slightly at you, though oddly, the smile makes you more worried than comforted.
Berend Stonekeeper: Who’s askin’?
Pythas: It takes all types, does it not?
Berend Stonekeeper looks the speaker up and down.
Drake Ilvenet: Besides normal is boring.
Shadar-kai Witch (holds up her hand in dismissal): I don’t really care what your excuses are. However, when I saw you in the marketplace, I marked you as out of place, so I’ve been following you. I am Leena.
Mikal d’Cannith: And?
Berend Stonekeeper: Since you been followin’ us, you know what we’re doing here, don’t ya?
Leena (nods): I have been observing you with your inquiries regarding Modra. If you seek the dark creeper out, then he must have sorely crossed you, or perhaps you are fools.
Mikal d’Cannith: He’s the one on the run from not one but two groups.
Leena (nods): I know this well, human, as I also know Modra well. Modra and I worked together for a time, but when he elected to go behind Sarshan’s back, I told him we were done. I heard word of him in the camps even before you started asking around. He has a plan to disrupt Sarshan’s operations by destroying the foundry, then the tower. Sarshan has a private tunnel connecting the two, and Modra is planning to vent the foundry’s destructive energy there. A mass of mercenaries is moving out tonight, which Modra plans to use as cover when he goes inside.
Drake Ilvenet: That sounds like it would be most unpleasant.
Leena nods in agreement.
Berend Stonekeeper: But not such a bad idea.
Drake Ilvenet: If you’re crazy enough to want to cross Sarshan, certainly.
Berend Stonekeeper: Don’t we?
Leena: Look, Modra made his bargain with fate, and honor decrees that he die for his betrayal. He won’t get tears from me. But if Sarshan captures him, Modra will die slowly. If it’s you, I can only hope you’ll make it quick. It’s the most I can ask for our former partnership.
Berend Stonekeeper: And I presume you’ll be staying out of the way on this one?
Leena: I have no dog in this fight, save to request that his end be swift.
Dulinamin: I think that can be arranged.
Berend Stonekeeper: Fair enough.
Leena: My thanks. As I said, Modra plans to use the mercenary movements later tonight as cover to infiltrate the foundry. Where the bastard is hiding himself until then, I know not, nor do I care. But having seen your battles since you arrived, I can only assume you need some rest. I can arrange a private tent where you may rest until evening. I do believe you’ve already made out your entrance into the foundry?
Leena indicates the breech in the foundry wall with a vague gesture.
Dulinamin (nods): And we can probably use the same distraction Modra is waiting for.
Berend Stonekeeper: Aye, a rest and some ale would be good.
Drake Ilvenet: I suppose a rest would be welcome
Leena: Rest I can arrange, dwarf. Sarshan allows no alcohol amongst the camps.
Berend Stonekeeper: Ale isn’t alcohol, it’s Dwarf’s blood!
Leena: Very well. Come with me, and I will bring you to your tent. I would suggest you take your rest while you’re able. The mercenaries move out at eight bells.

Leena leads the party to one of the more central merc camps, where she shows them a tent they can use to rest. They quickly notice that most of the shadar-kai mercs seems to occupy this area more than the others they have seen.

Leena: Rest well. You will not be disturbed.

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Sul, Dravago 1, 998 YK - Into the Shadows

Having bested the attacking wraiths, the party pauses to take stock of their situation, particularly what to do about Modra, who has escaped through the portal. Seeing as the dark creeper has already set his sights on their deaths, allowing him to remain free to try and kill them again is not an option.

Drake Ilvenet: Well, that could have gone better.
Berend Stonekeeper: On the bright side we are all still alive… right?
Drake Ilvenet: So far, can’t complain about that. So who was that little… thing? It seemed you all knew it in some respect.
Pythas: We should probably go after it.
Mikal d’Cannith: A troublesome little shit, who apparently wanted this key. Which I tried to leave for him until an idiot took it and we actually did end up with this stupid key after I made a fake to leave them.
Berend Stonekeeper: That’s one way to put it.
Drake Ilvenet: Hmm, well he sounds like a fine… thing. I’ve known him for all of 5 minutes and I already don’t like him.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well we haven’t actually MET him, but we’ve been looking for him.
Drake Ilvenet: Hmmm. Interesting. Well, I’ll say you gentlemen don’t live boring lives.
Dulinamin: Unfortunately.
Drake Ilvenet (smiles):That suits me just fine. So I assume this key you have is not unlike the one Modra used for that portal over there?
Berend Stonekeeper: I’m guessing so. Mikal seems to have both keys right now, so it’s up to him if he wants to try it. I think we should go after Modra, though, before he reaches his base of power.
Drake Ilvenet: Well, I don’t want to overstep my bounds, but I would be inclined to agree about going after him. He seems like a consummate trouble maker.
Mikal d’Cannith: Alright, let me take a quick look at this portal.

While Mikal examines the portal to ascertain how it functions, the rest of the party takes the time to prepare to cross through by healing and readying weapons. Not knowing what dangers await them once through the portal, the stronger members of the party line up to enter first. After a few moments, Mikal is able to determine that the portal is attuned to the brass key in his possession. Once used, the portal will allow the user and up to at least five others to cross through, after which the portal closes to all others. Once everyone is ready, Mikal activates the portal, and the party dashes through…

…and emerges in a room that is the mirror opposite of the room they just left. Instead of the white marble of the previous room, the ceiling, walls, and floor of this chamber are jet black marble. What was a pile of fallen debris is a deep rift in the floor here. The door and arches from the other room have shifted position, as well. The effect is disorienting. Fortunately, it appears the room is deserted. However, the presence of a burning brazier and some overturned stools would seem to indicate that the chamber was very recently occupied.

Drake Ilvenet: Well… did not expect this.
Berend Stonekeeper: Looks like he’s gathering his forces, or abandoning this dump.
Mikal d’Cannith (quietly): Hmmm. Careful, there’s tracks of others here, though it looks like the little shit got captured.
Drake Ilvenet (whispers): well let’s go “liberate” him
Berend Stonekeeper: Aye! Liberation it is!
Mikal d’Cannith (to Berend): Why?
Berend Stonekeeper: Why? Because we need to know what he’s up to in our little neck of the caves.
Drake Ilvenet (whispers): Any idea on the direction?
Pythas (points at the lone door to the north): The door?

The door to the north stands wide open, leading into a hallway which bends away at a sharp angle about fifty feet in. The walls within the hallway are lit with a dull, red light. Pythas slips quietly into the hallway, making his way toward the red glow, realizing as he goes that this hallway stands where the party encountered the first dark creepers after entering the caverns beneath the Happy Beggar. After a few moments, Pythas’s awestruck voice calls back for the others to join him. The party reaches the end of the hallway and marvels at the sight before them.

Image_Umbraforge.jpg

The land is like nothing they’ve ever seen before. A wide plain of gray-green grass and stunted black trees spreads beneath a sky scoured by fast-moving clouds. The sun is bright above but somehow doesn’t cut the darkness that drapes every rock and every blade of grass in gray gloom. This is the Shadowfell.

From the mouth of the cavern, a wide and well-traveled road runs in a curving line to the north. There, perhaps a quarter-mile away, a military camp spreads. Buildings are scattered here and there, with tents and pavilions spreading between them. Torches and fires burn brightly against the ever-present shadow, and lone trees and tall stands of graygreen grass are whipped by a hissing wind.

Looming above it all, a rise of black rock to the west is rent by a seething volcanic rift. Black-streaked lava courses from it to descend into a narrow channel, and a permanent pall of glowing red-black smoke rises above it. Over this molten flow, a great stone bridge is arched. This wide eastwest road meets the road north from the cavern. North of the bridge, a tall tower stands and a lower building spreads in its shadow.

Mikal d’Cannith: We’re not on the prime material plane anymore, we are in… the Shadowfell! What do you think of your first extraplanar trip, boys and girls? Isn’t it wonderful. Look at the lava and all the things that want to kill us.
Drake Ilvenet (nervously): I really much prefer the Fey. Less lava and no aura of impending doom
Berend Stonekeeper: Interesting place to visit, but I definitely wouldn’t want to get trapped here.
Mikal d’Cannith (points at castle in distance): And over there is no doubt the less than friendly local warlord and tyrant.
Drake Ilvenet: I don’t suppose it’s too much to hope they just took him to one of those dimly lit huts is it?
Berend Stonekeeper: That would just be silly of them wouldn’t it
Pythas )to Drake): You must be new to this adventuring hero thing.
Drake Ilvenet (sighs): I prefer to think of myself as optimistic. So off to the imposing tower likely filled with death?
Dulinamin: I say we approach carefully, check this place out and then decide what to do next. If this place is at all like a city we would be accustomed to, with people going about their lives, then we can probably get some information about this place.
Drake Ilvenet: Indeed, though I worry we might stand out somewhat.
Berend Stonekeeper: Which way does the trail lead?
Mikal d’Cannith: Just a minute.

Mikal disappears back into the caves, returning to the room with the portal. A quick inspection of the archway confirms his suspicions, and he returns to the party.

Mikal d’Cannith: Right, we also need to find a way back, cause we ain’t using that one.
Pythas: You shorted out the magic, didn’t you?
Drake Ilvenet: A pity, but not entirely unexpected.

Realizing their only option is to move forward, the party starts off down the trail toward the war camp in the distance. As they travel, they decide their best chance at blending in is to appear as mercenaries. This realization saves them a heap of trouble when a pair of dark creeper sentries step from the tall grasses that concealed them and confronts the party.

Dark Creeper Sentry: All mercenaries stay within the borders of the camps! Next time you go wandering, you get shot, sellswords!
Drake Ilvenet: Sagely advice.
Pythas: We’re here to visit the slave bazaar and markets.
Mikal d’Cannith nods in agreement.
Dark Creeper Sentry: Oh, you lot must be one of Sarshan’s clients. Best be quick about it, then. You don’t wanna be caught out here by less understanding folks than us, see? Some of my freinds… well, let’s say they are likely to shoot first, and ask questions of your corpse.
The dark creeper and his companion snort with laughter at this comment.
Mikal d’Cannith: Thank you for the advice, we shall be more cautious.
Dark Creeper Sentry: See that y’are. Now move it along! We ain’t got time t’be jawing with the likes of you lot all day!

The party continues toward the camp as the sentries melt back into the grasses. They approach the frontier of the mercenary camps unchallenged, and a virtual city spreads out before them. Beneath patched canvas tents stand open-air taverns, market stalls, apothecaries and herbalists, weaponsmiths and armorers, butchers and greengrocers—all doing roaring trade.

Training grounds open up between the various camps, and soldiers of different races clash against each other with sword and shield. In the quieter corners, combat casters can be seen training—the flare of arcane fire dancing between them. The party is surprised to note that these are not Shadowfell mercenaries for the most part. Though shadar-kai and dark ones are well represented, the fields and camps are packed with orcs and hobgoblins, ogres and trolls, lizardfolk and kobolds and a dozen other monstrous races, most found within the borders of Droaam.

Dulinamin: This is a strange collection of creatures.
Drake Ilvenet: Yes, I suppose it’s the Shadowfell equivalent to cosmopolitan.
Berend Stonekeeper: Aye. Odd that there are so few of the Shadowfell kind here.
Mikal d’Cannith: Looks more like a warcamp than a city I would think.

A sudden rumble beneath their feet startles the party into silence as they turn their gaze toward the nearby volcano. However, as quickly as it started, the tremor ceases.

Mikal d’Cannith (nervously): So where to first?
Dulinamin: Maybe the locals are up to something that they don’t want to waste their own lives on.
Berend Stonekeeper: I’m wondering who this Sarshan person is, and what he is doing with all this.
Pythas: I’m noticing a distinct lack of obsidian obelisks and monoliths. I thought there would definately be more obelisks and monoliths in a Shadowfell city. Or statues of murderous angels
Berend Stonekeeper: Well maybe its not your ordinary shadowfell city
Pythas: True.
Mikal d’Cannith (sighs): This is the dark shadow, not one of the hells.

The adventurers enter the makeshift town at the southern edge and cautiously move down the road past the mercenary tents. Oddly enough, their presense does not seem to raise any suspicion. The nearby creatures stare curiously at the party as they pass, but return to their tasks without incident.

Drake Ilvenet: Well, so far, so good!
Berend Stonekeeper: It seems that visitors are not that unusual here.

Feeling a touch more confident that trouble is not looming over their heads, they continue on down the road, eventually reaching the stone bridge that crosses over the river of lava. The heat off the river is intense, and sweat quickly builds and runs down their faces. Dulinamin can’t resist tossing a copper piece in the river of lava, which dissolves instantly.

Knowing that Modra could be anywhere at this point, the adventures decide to begin making inquiries as to his whereabouts, as well as to who this Sarshan might be. Though the merchants and other mercenaries seem reticent to divulge much to the strangers, they are able to provide some valuable information. For starters, the camp they are not in is relatively new, as if it was thrown hastily together in preparation for some future conflict. The party’s first solid lead regarding Sarshan is discovered near the slave bazaar, where a chatty merchant offers a warning.

Dark Creeper Slaver: Sarshan, eh? Sarshan is shadar-kai, an outcast who made a name for himself as the leader of a legendary mercenary band known as the Black Arrow. At their height, the Arrow put so much fear in generals and kings alike that Sarshan would take payment to fight for one group, then take a bigger payment from their foe to stand down. My advise? Don’t cross ‘im. You won’t survive the attempt, heh heh.

Knowing that sometimes information can be gleaned form sparring troops, they make their way towards one of the several training grounds in the makeshift city. This almost proves to be their undoing as they find themselves surrounded by a mob of hulking ogres, one leading an enormous beetle on a leash. In broken Common, the largest shouts out to the adventurers.

Ogre: You mercenaries? You think you good enough to fight alongside Bonecruncher clan? Think again!
Berend Stonekeeper Draws his hammer.
Berend Stonekeeper: You REALLY want to go?! Let’s do it!

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The ogres roar and charge in to attack, as their companions surround them and shout insults at the party. However, the attacking ogres are in sore need of further training, as their attacks are sloppy at best. Their hulking size makes it easy for the adventurers to slip beneath the ogres lumbering attacks, avoiding their blows as they score wound after wound. Before long, the ogres lay bleeding on the ground. Surprisingly, the other ogres simply grumble their disgust at the fight’s outcome before returning to their own sparring and other tasks. In a fit of pique, Berend challenges a nearby hobgoblin to a sparring match. As they fight, Berend asks about Modra. Something in Berend’s tone makes the hobgoblin flinch, and he tells Berend that Modra is long gone from Umbraforge and the Shadowfell. It would seem that Modra has done something that as made this Sarshan extremely angry, and that Modra would be a fool to return.

Curious about the foundry building near the front of the looming tower, the party makes their way over to discover that the foundry’s gates are guarded by scores of shadar-kai guards. Dulinamin pours on the charm, and tries to coerce a private tour of the facility. Charming though he may be, the guards aren’t falling for it.

Shadar-kai Gate Guard: Well, I can’t let you in, see? Orders, you understand. I can tell ya this, though. This foundry is the jewel of Sarshan’s operations. Its power comes from the fire and shadow driving its furnaces. Sarshan’s sages create beasts of battle in there, born killers with magic in their blood. I can tell you this for damned sure… you don’t want to have to face one of them beasts in battle.
Dulinamin: Sounds impressive. I hope I get a chance to see those beasts someday, safely restrained of course.

As they stroll through the market tents, they keep an ear out for any pertinent information. They overheard some shadar-kai talking about Sarshan, who apparently holds dominion over this area known as the Umbraforge. The tower, foundry, and forges all belong to him. Sarshan sells the services of the mercenaries and slaves in this camp across the Shadowfell AND the world. Curious about this new information, Berend attempts to illicit further information, only to draw suspicion from a nearby dark creeper.

Dark Creeper: You ask an awful lot of questions, stranger. If I didn’t know better, I might think you was a spy.
Berend Stonekeeper: Ummmm. Not a spy, just curious. Thought we might be going to war soon, just tired of sitting around here. I’ll be going now.
Dark Creeper: Get the hells out of here before I have you drawn and quartered.

Though attempting to see inside the larger foundry building was fruitless, the party decides to see if they possibly could see inside one of the smaller foundry buildings. However, the result is the same, and they are refused entry. The shadar-kai guard is a chatty sort, though, and spills some interesting information.

Shadar-kai Gate Guard: You know that guy, Modra?
Dulinamin: I’m familiar with him. Why?
Shadar-kai Gate Guard: ‘Course you are, everyone knows Modra. Modra’s well-known in Umbraforge, but for all the wrong reasons now. He was one of Sarshan’s most trusted lieutenants not long ago. But the foolish creeper tried to broker a weapons deal that Sarshan had already turned down. Needless to say, Sarshan is out for blood. Way he sees it, his reputation’s been tarnished, and only Modra’s head on a spike will appease him, now.

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Sul, Dravago 1, 998 YK – Creeping in the Dark

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The battle continues in the caverns beneath the Happy Beggar almshouse. The nearest enemies attack the warforged, Ashen, wounding him severely. Yet the stubborn ‘forged seems to shrug off the worse of the wounds, and continues to fight his way deeper into the chamber. A shadar-kai witch, who seems to be running the show, is enraged by the warforged’s tenacity. With a furious shriek, she begins to make arcane gestures with her hands. A glowing orb of green light begins to grow larger as her chants reach a crescendo. As the final syllable passes her lips, she thrusts her hands violently toward Ashen, the glowing orb becoming an emerald beam that slams into the warforged’s chest! The adventurers watch in horror as the warforged slams back into the cavern wall, then collapses to the ground. Ashen wails in pain as the organic parts of his form disintegrate, the metal plates of his body falling with dull clunks to the dirt. With a shrill peal of laughter, the witch retreats toward the doors to the north.

Enraged by the death of their companion, the adventurers continue to fight through their opponents with renewed fury. Before long, they have managed to cut their way through to the middle of the chamber. As they fight, they hear a shuffling noise, then see a figure falling to the ground to the rear of the cart. Even in the dim lighting of the cave, they can see that the figure is bound hand and foot, and a gag covers his mouth. Realizing that the man needs help, the party pushes forward, laying the final enemy low. Berend moves to the portal, sparing a glance at the bound figure as he inspects the portal in the middle of the room.

Berend Stonekeeper: Hey, we got a live one over here!
Pythas: Do you think one of them got caught in a trap?
Berend Stonekeeper: Maybe, though he don’t seem to be no dark creeper.
Mikal d’Cannith: Gimme a minute to make sure he’s okay, then I’ll take a look.
Drake Ilvenet looks about impatiently.
Drake Ilvenet (muffled voice): Unphie mee!
Pythas: that’s exactly what a Dark Creeper would say in this situation.
Drake Ilvenet rolls his eyes.
Mikal d’Cannith removes the gag while Pythas eyes Drake closely.
Drake Ilvenet: Thank you.
Mikal d’Cannith: You guys question him while I look at this portal thing.
Berend Stonekeeper: Okay. Who are you and what are you doing here?
Drake Ilvenet: Well, this is fairly embarrassing.
Berend Stonekeeper: How’s that?
Drake Ilvenet: Well, aside from being knocked unconscious and tied up to be rescued.
Berend Stonekeeper: You don’t usually do that?
Drake Ilvenet: Strangely no, it hasn’t come up much.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well, there’s a first time for everything… Seconds and thirds for some of us. How’d you get in here?
Drake Ilvenet: Well, I was just walking about when I saw someone I thought was a Shadar-kai enter the alms house, and since I’ve never seen a Shadar-kai before, I thought… Oh well, wouldn’t it be a marvelous idea to investigate and see what one is like.
Drake Ilvenet sighs deeply.
Drake Ilvenet: Well it turns out they are apparently quite evil
Pythas: Yeah, that does seem to be the case.
Drake Ilvenet: Going to remember that next time. Oh! You haven’t perchance seen a shadar-kai woman about? I would very much like to politely express my displeasure with her.
Berend Stonekeeper: The witch? Nope, haven’t seen that shaved headed “witch.”
Pythas (pointing toward the portal): I think she went that way.
Berend Stonekeeper: I thought she took that door?
Pythas: I don’t know. I was too busy not being eaten by shadowbound flea bags.
Drake Ilvenet: Sounds dreadful!
Berend Stonekeeper: Well, other than a few bites, we came out of it pretty well. It was that nasty howling they do that sets the teeth on edge.

While the others speak with the newcomer, Mikal has been inspecting the stone archway in the middle of the room. Silver crystals are set within the stone in a random pattern, and runes in the Common tongue are engraved to its facade. Mikal determines that the runes are written in an ancient dialect, possibly pre-Galifar, and identify the portal as an ancient shadar-kai teleportation portal, binding one location to another set locale. Within the portal, a well-stocked warehouse can be seen, moonlight shining through the windows. Puzzled by this view, Mikal then moves over to investigate the remains of the fallen Ashen. In among the warforged’s belongings, he finds the brass key that was supposed to have been left with the thug defeated in the alley just days ago. Furious, Mikal starts swearing loudly and enough to make an orc blush.

Berend Stonekeeper: Whoa, Mikal!
Mikal d’Cannith spits on the remains of Ashen.
Berend Stonekeeper: What’s wrong, Mikal? Can’t put Humpty back together again?
Pythas: He’s a warforged. It’s not like he’s really dead, right? He just need a good artifi…..never mind
Drake Ilvenet: I’ve always wondered what it would be like to die, but I’m fairly certain I’ll get to it eventually.
Berend Stonekeeper: Oh, granted, and if you’re lucky, we might be able to bring you back one day.
Drake Ilvenet: In the mean time, I believe I have reasonably demonstrated that I am not in league with the other denizens of this pit?

Mikal rejoins the rest of the group, his anger plainly etched on his face. He holds up a familiar looking brass key.

Mikal d’Cannith: That stupid, idiotic, G$%!@ $!@#$, co!%$!%&er, f!&$ing, rustbucket piece of junk had the key I said we shouldn’t have taken.
Berend Stonekeeper: Ahhhh, crap.
Mikal d’Cannith: So guess why we’ve been bothered this whole damn time. Oh, and here’s the fun part.
Mikal d’Cannith (points to the portal): This most likely leads to the Shadowfell.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well that’s not necessarily a bad thing is it… it’s not like it the nine hells.
Berend Stonekeeper (to Drake): Oh and yes, I’ll agree you are not in league with these dark creepers… for the moment anyway. However, I do reserve the right to change my mind.
Mikal d’Cannith: How exactly do you think the shadar-kai are getting here?
Mikal d’Cannith (gesturing emphatically to the portal): This is how, and these aren’t easy to seal shut.
Pythas: Think we can ransack that warehouse for supplies?
Mikal d’Cannith: Which one, the one here or the one on the other side?
Berend Stonekeeper: It would be interesting to find out what they are shipping, though.
Mikal d’Cannith: We might not be able to make it back through. I’m not sure we could carry very much if we did raid it, unless you are planning to burn it down?
Berend Stonekeeper: I’d like to know what they have a portal to a warehouse for? What are they shipping here or there? Who are they working for?
Mikal d’Cannith (shrugs): Smugglers of some type.
Berend Stonekeeper: Are they a threat to us personally? Does this have something to do with the key? Maybe we should question the witch before we step through.
Pythas: Well, we either need to go there and rob them blind or destroy this thing to make sure we’re not flanked from behind.
Mikal d’Cannith: Little chance of destroying this safely. What’s through those doors?
Berend Stonekeeper: Who is making that tinkling sound?
Mikal d’Cannith: What tinkling sound?
Berend Stonekeeper: I keep hearing a tinkling sound
A small creatures flies out of one of Drake’s pockets and speaks to him in a series of shrill chime-like tones.
Drake Ilvenet: I suppose I haven’t quite asked them politely yet, no.
Drake Ilvenet clears his throat.
Mikal d’Cannith (looks over at stranger): Yes?
Drake Ilvenet: So perhaps you all would please untie me? Not that I have any place to go in particular, but these ropes are rather uncomfortable.
Dulinamin: Ah yes, I knew I forgot something.
Mikal d’Cannith: Well, are we trusting him enough to let him go?
Berend Stonekeeper: He seems trustworthy enough, and I did promise him if he misbehaved we would kill him… though probably not today.
Drake Ilvenet (smiles): A fair compromise.
Mikal d’Cannith cuts him free.
Drake Ilvenet (rubbing wrists): Thank you. And it occurs to me that I haven’t introduced myself properly. My name is Drake Ilvenet, swordsman and mage at your service.
Lillinette lands on Drake’s shoulder and pinches his ear.
Drake Ilvenet (rubbing ear): And of course how could I forget my faithful companion, Lillinette.
Berend Stonekeeper: There… there’s that tinkling sound!
Drake Ilvenet: Well, I assume from the carnage laid about the room that we’re going to exterminate the rest of this rat’s nest?
Berend Stonekeeper: Absolutely, wanna tag along?
Drake Ilvenet: I would be delighted

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Dulinamin moves to the northern door to take a peak beyond. Within the next chamber, another stone archway can be seen taking up the center of the chamber. Anxious to confront the witch that killed their warforged companion, the party dashes into the room. The enormous, darkened chamber has walls and ceiling of white marble. The northeast corner of the room has collapsed, a fall of stone spreading out across the floor. To the west, a stone arch similar to that seen in the chamber to the south stands against the wall. The interior archway standing in the center of the room is obscured by a wall of black mist that roils and twists as if blown by a fierce wind. Just behind the left side of the arch, the party spots the shadar-kai witch, clutching her hand to the side as she crouches, trying to remain unseen.

Pythas: Which do you think will be harder to deal with, the witch, or that floaty flappy thing front and center?

The words of an incantation in Common ring out through the chamber: “Protect this place with shadow’s claws!” Suddenly, the dark mist obscuring the archway is torn through by a flash of white light. Six spectral shapes emerge from the archway, racing toward you.

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Drake Ilvenet: Lovely…
Mikal d’Cannith: Probably the floaty, transparent things.

As the party engages the wraiths, a voice suddenly calls out form the darkness.

Voice: All I want is the key! Give me the key, and I will send the wraiths away!
Drake Ilvenet: Well I’m not sure what this key business is about, but I have a feeling that we are disinclined to acquiesce to your requests!
Mikal d’Cannith: I’m not sure we can trust you, Modra!
Modra: So you know who I am, huh? Well it serves you nothing! Give me the key, or these undead creatures will destroy you!
Berend Stonekeeper: I’m willing to take that chance!
Mikal d’Cannith: While you do seem to have a position of strength. It would behoove you to use a more sociable method than you have used.
Drake Ilvenet: I agree! Our treatment has been most inhospitable.

The battle continues, and quickly begins to turn in the party’s favor. A summoned tentacle from Pythas at last kills the shadar-kai witch. A roar of fury echoes through the chamber as Modra grows more and more furious.

Modra: You are seriously angering me now! Give me the key and I will leave you in peace! Do it now! I will not make this offer again!
Mikal d’Cannith: Getting scared, like the rat you are? Maybe, you should instead be making offers for us to let you live.
Pythas: Key? Didn’t we destroy some key earlier?
Modra shrieks in fury at this declaration.

A blur of movement is seen as Modra dashes across the floor, narrowly avoiding an attack from the invisible Drake. He reaches the fallen witch’s side, and begins rummaging through her pockets frantically. Within seconds he draws something from her pocket. The dim light glints dully off something metal.

Modra: To Kyber with the lot of you!
Modra sticks the key he just found on the witch into a small keyhole on the side of the arch, then steps through the shimmering portal.

Though Modra has escaped, the immediate problem is the remaining wraiths that the party continues to fight. Before too long, however, the undead creatures are at last defeated, and the party pauses to catch their breath.

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Sul, Dravago 1, 998 YK – Midnight Break-in

Taking Reniss’s advice, the party departs Tradetown to kill some time until midnight. The spring rainstorm that has been raging all day shows no sign of abating. When they arrive at the Happy Beggar showtly before midnight, they are all soaked to the skin. However, fortune smile son them, for the windows of the almshouse are dark. They are closed for the weekend.

Berend Stonekeeper: Anybody got a key, or should I…
Berend Stonekeeper holds up his hammer, grinning broadly.
Ashen: Perhaps bashing our way in is not the proper way forward, there may still be occupants.
Berend Stonekeeper (sighs): Perhaps.
Pythas attempts to unlock the door, but the pick snaps in his rain-soaked fingers.
Ashen: Did you succeed in opening the door? If not then I shall try.
Pythas: Be quiet, you are distracting me.
The lock mechanisms click, and the door opens a few inches.
Ashen: It would be wise for me to go in first, if there are people inside they may attack.
Mikal d’Cannith: Or a more stealthy approach to see if its empty.
Ashen: That would also be a sound tactical decision.
Pythas (whispers angrily): Shhh! You’re talking too much when we need to be quiet!

The party enters the building, stepping carefully past the tables and chairs that stand about the room. They easily make their way across the floor to the stairway leading down to the basement. Mikal is the last to enter the stairwell and closes the door behind himself

Ashen: I find it strange that there is no defense of this basement.
Mikal d’Cannith (quietly): You mean in the public room where anyone can set it off?
Ashen: No, I meant when it is dark like this, it seems the perfect time to station defenses. We should investigate further.
Pythas takes the lead and heads down the way, telling rest of party about the path
Ashen: It appears there are no traps here, although we should not let down our guard.
Berend Stonekeeper brings up the rear, making sure no one is following them.

Pythas shows he rest of the party where crumbling mortar outlines the door he discovered earlier. Pushing against the wall, the door opens, exposing a short tunnel that leads to the south.

Berend Stonekeeper: Definitely not dwarven-made. Would never allow it to fall into such ruin
Ashen: Good work, Pythas. Now let us proceed with caution, we do not know what is down here.

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Ashen takes the lead, guiding the rest of the party down the narrow hallway. The floor starts to slope downward the further in they go. Suddenly, loose debris causes everyone but Dulinamin to lose their footing and they slide the rest of the way down. As Dulinamin smugly reaches the bottom, the others pick themselves up, scratched and bruised, but otherwise not hurt too badly.

This natural stone cavern is cut in half by a cliff, and the southern side descends into darkness. Stalagmites and stalactites obscure the view, and barely visible to the far southwest is an archway of finished stone that opens up to the west. A flurry of movement erupts from the shadows of the ceiling as four enormous bats swoop down toward the adventurers, their bladed tails slashing the air. The bats sweep in and out of melee range, attacking with their tails when they get close enough. The party quickly works on attacking the bats when they get in range, or by using spells. Three of the bats are quickly slain; however, the final bat shrieks in rage, flying down to the south, and out of the cavern through the tunnel to the west.

Berend Stonekeeper: Well, we are going that way anyway, so I guess we’ll see it later?
Ashen: That bat might alarm others to our presence if there is anyone here.
Mikal d’Cannith: True, but they are probably already alerted anyways.
Berend Stonekeeper: Best be on our guard, then.

The cliff descends 20 feet to the floor of the cavern’s southern side. However, the party can see that the rough cliff wall is dotted by patches of toadstool-shaped fungus. Using ropes, the adventurers descend the cliff to discover that the fungus is doomspore. On impulse, Dulinamin begins to burn the fungus, stopping when Mikal shouts that he wants to collect some of the mushrooms first. Working quickly, Mikal collects several specimens, placing them into bags in his pack.

Dulinamin (in anticipation): Now can I burn them?
Berend Stonekeeper: If you’re going to burn them, burn the path we are going to follow, don’t worry about burning the whole lot of them.
Mikal d’Cannith (nods): That would be preferred. That way, I can come back and collect more.
Ashen backs away from the fungi as Dulinamin sets fire to the mushroom patch.

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The adventurers enter the next room, following the tunnel a short way before coming to the top of a roughly carved stairway. A savage howl echoes up the stairs as they approach. A lantern is burning somewhere beyond, giving a glimpse of a finished stone chamber set with marble flagstones. This odd-shaped chamber extends outward in three sections, and it is about 60 feet wide at its end. Though its frescoed walls suggest a sort of temple, it resembles a storeroom now, with boxes and crates stacked in piles. In the center of room stands an enormous open stone archway. Adjacent to it is a large steel cage on a low cart, somehow obscured in shadow. Within the cage, two fierce hounds appear to be wrapped in darkness as they snarl and claw at the door.

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Berend Stonekeeper: Hmmm… this looks strange
Ashen: I am curious as to what is happening here.
Mikal d’Cannith (indicating the caged dogs): Avoid the shadowhounds, and if they get quiet, be worried.
Ashen: That arch is a portal, although I will not know where it leads until I can get closer.

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The party edges further into the room, slowly approaching the strange portal. As they reach the bottom of the stairs, a flurry of movement erupts seemingly from everywhere at once! Instinctively, their weapons are drawn as they see dark creepers appear from all corners of the room. One quickly dashes to the cart, unlocking the cage and throwing open the door. A shadar-kai witch stalks to the center of the chamber and begins to fire off eldritch bolts at the party. The shadow hounds, now freed from their cage, join the fight, their shadow abilities allowing them to teleport into range to attack. This is not going to be an easy fight!

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Far, Eyre 27, 998 YK - Making New Friends

While Mikal and Pythas worked in the Cannith workshop recasting the brass key, Dulinamin, Berend, and Ashen have been making discrete inquiries around the city as to the identity of the mysterious “Modra.” While they have not been able to ascertain who Modra actually is, they do know that he’s been in the city several times over the last several weeks. Modra is not a character to be trifled with, and it becomes clear that whatever Modra is up to, it is nothing good.

Having rejoined with Pythas and Mikal at dusk, the party decides to visit the nearest tavern for some dinner and drinks. While Ashen remains outside the tavern to keep watch, Berend and Dulinamin related to the others what their inquiries have revealed about Modra.

The party exits the tavern shortly after the seventh bell as the sun dips below the mountains in the distance, casting the landscape into blue-grey shadow.

Berend Stonekeeper: Ah, the beauty of a mountain sunset
Mikal d’Cannith: So, now what? Its pretty late.
Ashen: I propose we make good use of this darkness to garner more information about our friend Modra.
Mikal d’Cannith: So you want to pursue the shadow-powered being during the night when we are at the greatest disadvantage? Oh, and a sneaky, cunning being, as well.
Ashen: I did not say that we pursue him, I purely meant to gather information so that we may be prepared should it come to that.

The party visits a few of the seedier taverns and ale houses in the city, trying to blend in, asking questions about Modra. It seems as if no one had heard of Modra, until they finally overhear one drunk patron’s slurred declaration. “Yah, that Modra bloke, he’s in a heap of trouble, I reckon,” the drunk exclaims. “ Ain’t seem ‘im since b’fore the raid on Bordrin’s Watch. I ‘eard he’s been on the run since then. Think he screwed up some job or other.”

Out in the city, Dulinamin attempts to intimidate some information out of a local fish merchant. When the man instead yells for help from the Watch, the party is left racing down the street, scrambling to disappear into the crowds. Pythas decides to try a more diplomatic tactic, and approaches a shady-looking thug on the side of the road.

Pythas: I have a business proposition for a guy named Modra. It would be highly lucrative. I’ve heard he has a certain panache for these types of things.
Shifty-looking Bugger: Ya did now, yeah? Well, I ain’t seen him. Not in weeks. Heard he pissed off someone real nice like, see? If I had t’guess, I’d say it’s the boss man. No, no, don’t bother. I can see it in yer face. I dunno who he is. Just know that Modra ain’t the one callin’ the shots. He’s just the front man for the arms dealing in the city. No one knows who the boss man is, see, no one, but rumor says the operation is bigger than anyone in Overlook will ever know. Now get the hells outta here!”

Pythas manages to pick the pocket of a passing messenger, relieving him of a rolled parchment. While it doesn’t specifically mention Modra, the information within is intriguing nonetheless. “The threat of the orcs might be ended after the siege of Bordrin’s Watch,” the parchement reads, “but word from the frontier is there’s more trouble on the march. Just like Tusk’s clan, the rabble of the mountains are getting their hands on good-grade weapons and armor, and they’re looking to use it."

Attempting to bluff their way into meeting Modra, they are again rebuffed by uncooperative scoundrels. “Aye, I know who ye mean, sure ‘nuff,” replies one such low-life, “but look. You get all races ’ere in the city, but them dark ones that come through ’ere? Keep to themselves mostly. More often than not, those that y’do see on the streets be in the company of Lost Ones bodyguards and enforcers, and trust me, ye wanna steer clear of that lot.”

Pythas: What’s a Lost One?
Ashen: I have no idea, but I intend to find out.
Mikal d’Cannith: Listen, why don’t we call it a night. Since this guy deals in weapons, I am sure my family knows some people. We’ll go find them and pick this up tomorrow morning.

It is going on midnight when the party decides to call it a night. As they walk down the street heading back toward the Cannith enclave, they are approached by a women wearing brown leather beneath a green cloak. A longbow is slung across her chest.

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Mysterious Woman (quietly): I’ve heard word that there’s a group in the city looking for someone named Modra. I’m doing the same, though I doubt it’s for the same reasons. Perhaps we should compare notes.
Ashen: I believe you have the wrong group.
Woman laughs softly at the warforged.
Woman: I do not think so, warforged. I have been following you all day.
Ashen places his hand on his sword.
Berend Stonekeeper places his hand on Ashen’s sword arm
Berend Stonekeeper: Wait.
Mikal d’Cannith just looks sadly at rest of group, then back at the woman.
Mikal d’Cannith: Who are you, lady?
Pythas: Why don’t you start with your name and affiliations?
Woman: My name is Reniss. Are you familiar with The Farstriders? My sister Jen traveled with them.
Mikal d’Cannith: Ah, the unlucky fellows.
Berend Stonekeeper: Oh… she didn’t make it.
Reniss (pales): What? What do you mean?
Mikal d’Cannith sighs
Mikal d’Cannith: Come on, you’ll need a drink to brace yourself.

Returning to the Cannith enclave, the party sits around the table with a mug of ale and a slice of sweet bread, and prepare to tell their new acquaintance the fate of her sister. Reniss sits at the table expectantly , unshed tears glittering in her eyes.

Mikal d’Cannith: Your sister, and her companions, all died attempting to secure the Nexus below Bordrin’s Pass.
Reniss closes her eyes in grief, a lone tear tracing down her cheek.
Reniss: Thank you for telling me this. I feared the worst when I did not hear from her last week. She told me the Farstriders were going to help Bordrin’s Watch by completing some mission beneath the fort, only she didn’t say what it was they were doing. Only that those damned orcs were involved.
Berend Stonekeeper: If it is any comfort, she died well, defending her companions.
Reniss nods, looking grateful.
Reniss: I take comfort in knowing that she died on her feet, and not ravaged by those creatures. So, you too seek Modra? Why?
Ashen: I suppose we cannot deny it as you have been stalking us all day.
Reniss: Well truthfully, it was not ALL day. I heard that someone was asking questions about Modra, so I kept an eye out. You lot are kind of hard to miss.
Mikal d’Cannith sighs, and looks at the rest of the party, favoring Berend and Ashen with a stern glare.
Reniss: Look, I’m not trying to interfere with your investigation. I am sure you have your reasons, just as I have mine. I believe he may have been involved somehow in Jen’s death.
Berend Stonekeeper: So you must have suspected she was dead already.
Reniss: Almost a week and a half ago, I received a message from Jen. She always carried a sending stone with her, so it must have been the only way she could get the message out. But the message was but a single word… “Modra.” I never heard from her after that. I can only assume that she sent the message with her last breath.
Berend Stonekeeper: And so you have been seeking him out ever since then.
Ashen: You have asked us why we seek Modra, but I must ask, why do you seek him? It seems curious to me that you have sought us out as to why we are seeking him. It is almost as if you wish to know what we have learned, so that you may tell this information to Modra at a later date. You will forgive my skepticism, of course, it is my job to be skeptical.
Reniss nods at Ashen.
Reniss: I understand your suspicion, warforged. However, as I have been following you for most of the day, I have already heard what you have learned, so I hardly have anything I can turn over to Modra, now do I? I do, however, have a piece of information that you do not, if you would like to hear it?
Reniss arches an eyebrow.
Mikal d’Cannith: No, not really.
Berend Stonekeeper glares at Mikal.
Mikal d’Cannith shrugs and waves off Berend.
Berend Stonekeeper: Place your cards on the table and we shall see if it is of aid to us.
Reniss: I met a dark creeper close to death in the Clean Sheets, looking like he’d been in the fight to end them all. He said he’d been working for this Modra when it happened. For a quart of bad beer, he told me that if I was looking for Modra, I’d better be fast. Someone else is hunting him— someone looking to kill him. The creeper didn’t know where Modra was, but he’d heard him talk about some Tradetown almshouse called the Happy Beggar.
Ashen: Interesting. Perhaps we should head there first thing on the morrow.
Reniss (nodding): I will accompany you. They will have closed for the evening, of course, so going there tomorrow would be the best move.
Mikal d’Cannith: IF we are going looking for trouble, we should restock before doing so.
Pythas: What can you tell us about these, “Lost Ones”?
Reniss: The Lost Ones? Right nasty lot. Thieves and murderers the lot of them. They got their fingers in a lot of pies in Overlook, mostly strong-arming merchants for protection money, but they also tend to hire themselves off as bodyguards and enforcers. Why, how do you know about them?
Ashen: We learned about them while asking about Modra. It appears they might be connected.
Pythas: Aye, we’ve heard that Dark Ones are rarely seen in public without Lost Ones.
Reniss: Yes, Modra often uses some of the Lost Ones as bodyguards. In fact, if you ever see him out int he city, he’s always got a band of those thugs with him. Look, it is late, and I am exhausted from following you around all day. I would like to accompany you to the Happy Beggar. What time should I rejoin you?
Mikal d’Cannith: Afternoon at the earliest. We need to restock our supplies.
Reniss: Agreed. I will meet you at the entrance to the Tradetown district at, shall we say, 3 bells?
The party nods their agreement as Reniss stands and gathers her gear.
Reniss: I am glad I met you, and again, thank you for telling me about Jen. Not knowing what happened to her was making me a little mad, to be honest. Now I can mourn. Until tomorrow, good night.
Reniss smiles in farewell, and leaves.

Sar, 28th of Eyre, 998 YK

The following morning, the party leaves the enclave to attend to errands in the city, specifically restocking their depleted stores after all their adventures the last few days. The day is warm, but it is pouring rain. The adventurers slog though ankle deep puddles to visit several shops to acquire gear needed to replace what was lost in while in the Nexus and the subsequent battle at Bordrin’s Watch. Shortly before the third bell, the party makes their way to the Tradetown district.

Reniss greets them as they approach.
Reniss: You ready? Truthfully, I don’t really know where this place is. We’ll have to ask for some directions.

Reniss leads the way into the Tradetown district, where they have no trouble getting directions to the Happy Beggar, though they get several strange looks when they ask. “The kind of place you want to stay if you find group reading of Dol Arrah’s scriptures an entertaining evening,” is one description they get. However, the sign above the door of a single-story hovel—a stooped and tattered mendicant with a broad grin—indicates that they’ve found the place.

Reniss: Hmmm… quaint.
Pythas: Quite.
Ashen: Perhaps instead of marveling at how quaint it is, we should enter instead?

happy_beggar.jpg

Reniss leads the way into the building. The atmosphere inside the Beggar is as dingy as the whitewash on the outside walls. A plain common room sits two dozen miserable-looking patrons, most asleep in their chairs or sipping at cracked mugs. A few appear to be doubling as volunteer staff, carrying steaming teapots from table to table. Behind what would be a bar in any other establishment, a dour-looking human woman in white robes boils water at a wood stove. A similarly attired male limps up a flight of stairs across the room, greeting the party as they enter. “Greetings and welcome. You are just in time for tea and songs of devotion. Please, join us!”

Reniss looks at everyone else.
Reniss: Um…
Ashen: Perhaps we have come to the wrong place?
Reniss: No, I don’t think so. This is the place. This must be why that lady who gave us directions seemed a bit incredulous.
The man bustles up to you, a broad grin on his face.
Preshant: Greetings, brothers and sisters! I am Preshant, and welcome to the Happy Beggar. Please, come in and join us. My wife Ausma makes the best cup of tea in the city! Please, have a seat. I will bring your tea right away.
Preshant leads you to a small table.
Ashen: I am afraid I cannot try your wife’s tea as I have no need for liquid.
Pythas: Is tea the strongest thing you have?
Preshant stares at Pythas.
Pythas: We have a dwarf…
Pythas points at Berrand.
Preshant: Of course, brother. Ale is the seed of sin, and leads to damnation.
Ashen: Perhaps you did not hear me? I have stated that we do not want tea.
Preshant looks startled at the warforged’s rudeness.
Preshant: Of course, if you do not wish tea, you do not need to have tea. But please, enjoy your stay anyway.
Pythas: Maybe we do want tea, Ashen. I’ll try a cup of your finest.
Ashen: Fine, very well, if you want to drink tea then go ahead.
Berend Stonekeeper: Sure, it can’t kill you to drink a little cough tea cough, cough What kind of place is this, anyway?

Meanwhile, while the others have Preshant distracted, Mikal peeks into a side room, then tries to slip into the room unnoticed. However, it is as if Preshant has eyes on the back of his head, and quickly stops Mikal from going down the stairs.

Preshant: Excuse me, lad. Please rejoin your friends. There’s nothing down there but storage, and it’s not very well lit at the moment. I would not wish for you to come to harm on those stairs.
Mikal d’Cannith: Really? I can fix them for you.
Preshant waves off Mikal.
Preshant: No, no, that’s quite all right. It’s enough light for me to see, since I know it so well. Please, just enjoy your tea.
Preshant (to Berend): To answer your question, we are an almshouse. We serve tea and service to followers of Dol Arrah. We welcome all.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well that makes sense. So what can we do to help?
Pythas: Excuse me, Sir, do you have a washroom? I really do need to clean up a bit.
Preshant: Indoors? What do you think this is, Sharn? Our privy is behind the building.
Berend Stonekeeper puts his hand on Preshant’s back and gently steers him toward the bar.
Berend Stonekeeper: So what is it you do here?
Preshant: I own this place. And as I mentioned, I serve tea and offer services to the faithful. It is a very fulfilling calling. My days of adventure are long since past me, of course, so I find this fills the void.
Berend Stonekeeper: So you were an adventurer? We have that in common.
Preshant: Aye, my wife and I were paladins for adventuring groups several years ago. When we met, we fell in love at first sight. When we had our fill of the adventuring life, we decided to open this almshouse and share our faith.
Berend Stonekeeper: So… Preshant, we are looking for a man named Modra, and our information led us here. Have you ever heard of someone by that name?
Preshant (shaking his head): Sorry, can’t say I know the name.

old_man.jpg

While Berend distracts Preshant in conversation, the others remain seated. A cough from a nearby table catches their attention. Alone in a rickety chair sits a hunched form in a tattered cloak watching the goings-on with interest. When he sees that he’s caught their attention, the old man smiles. He appears to be human or half-elf, but his face is deeply scarred by the ravages of disease. He coughs wetly into a grimy handkerchief and beckons for the party to join him.

Ashen, Dulinamin, and Reniss join the old man, while Mikal and Pythas attempt to get into the other rooms. Preshant’s wife, Ausma, catches Mikal on the stairs, and scolds him, sending him back to rejoin the others. Pythas, however, remains undetected, and descends the stairs.

Ashen: What is it that you perchance want?
The old man laughs.
Old Man: Oh, you’re a right smart mouth one, aincha! Name’s Brenant, and I was curious t’see so many adventurers types here in the Happy Beggar. So you musta seen some action, I reckon! Armor don’t ding up like that less’n you been in the fight, am I right? Ha!
Reniss eyes the strange old man.
Ashen: Yes you are right, if that is all you desire then I will leave you to your curiosity.
Brenant: No, no, don’t be that way. I was just curious, is all. Although… I may be an old man, see, but me ears still work pretty good! And I done heard yer friend over there…
Brenant points at Berend at the bar.
Brenant: …mention someone by the name of Modra.
Ashen looks at him suspiciously.
Ashen: Yes? Perhaps he did.
Brenant: Well, just so happens, I knows the one he means. That’s all.
Ashen: Perhaps you would be inclined to tell us what you know?
Ashen dips his hand into his pocket and pulls out some gold coins.
Brenant: Bah, keep yer money, metal man. If’n I had the gold, I would be a pretty poor beggar, am I right? Ha! Seriously, though, yah, I know this Modra. A dark creeper, and none as dark as him, or so I heard. Time was, he used the Happy Beggar as a meeting place, but I reckon he ain’t been here in more than two years. Ha ha, I ran the bastard off meself once, see. I might not look it, but I fought dark creepers in the mountains as a younger man, sellsword to a dozen lords.
Brenant leaves off as a bout of coughing takes over. When he catches his breath, he continues.
Brenant: Much as yourselves, I’d wager. Adventurers all have their price, eh?
Reniss scowls, but says nothing.
Ashen: Not all adventurers.
Brenant smirks knowingly.
Brenant: Mayhaps not.
Brenant shrugs.
Dulinamin: What can you tell us about Modra? Any habits we should know of?
Brenant: Just that he’s got his hands in a lot of the criminal dealings going on in the city. If there’s something going on, chances are, Modra’s behind it, or knows who is, at least. If you’re looking for black market goods… and of course you ain’t, but if’n you was… then he’d be the one to see. I heard he can get almost anything… for the right price.
Ashen: Indeed? Mayhaps you know where we can find this Modra now?
Brenant (shrugs): Didn’t you hear me? I done told ya already, he ain’t been seen here in at least a couple years or more. For all anyone knows, he could be dead, and his organization is being run in his name by some upstart. If he IS still alive, well…

As Brenant stands, Pythas rejoins the groups unnoticed, pausing only to share a brief nod with Mikal.

Brenant: Well, it was a nice chat, y’all, but I got to get myself out of here before they start their prayers. The tea is at least tolerable. The prayers, not so much. But before I go, let me give ya some advise. If you’re looking for this Modra chap, wherever you find him, heed me. He’s a black-hearted one. Make no mistake and strike no bargains with him. Kill him quickly before he gets the chance to return the favor.
Brenant smiles broadly, then turns to leave, walking out the door as he violently coughs in to a filthy rag.
Ashen turns to the others.
Ashen: Did you find anything while we were talking?

Before they can respond, Preshant returns.

Preshant: Lads, we’ll be beginning prayers in just a few minutes, if you’d like to take your seats.
Reniss (whispers): I don’t know about you lot, but I am not sticking around for prayers.
Reniss (stands): I thank you for your hospitality, Preshant, but I am afraid I must be going. I need to meet with a buyer for my horse, so…
Preshant (smiles): Of course, lass, I understand. I do hope you’ll visit us again soon.
Reniss looks at you meaningfully, making a small gesture toward the door with her head.
Ashen: I shall leave you to your prayers Preshant, I must leave you.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well thank you for your hospitality and when I’m in town again perhaps I’ll stop by for a further visit.
Preshant looks crestfallen.
Preshant: Oh, I see. I do hope you’ll join us again. Oh bother, I am late starting the prayers. Good day, lads.
Preshant rushes off to the front of the room, opening a small book as he faces the remaining patrons of the almshouse and begins to drone on about Dol Arrah.

Outside the almshouse, the party gathers around Pythas.

Reniss: So you managed to get into the basement unseen. Did you find anything? Was my source correct?
Pythas: There’s a small, narrow hallway in the back. It has a secret door at the end.
Ashen: A secret door?
Berend Stonekeeper: Where there’s a secret door, there’s a secret.
Reniss: Really? Hmm…
Pythas: The door leads to another hallway that doglegs and continues. I’d bet Mordas or his operation is back there.
Ashen: Very well, then. We shall re-enter this establishment and charge for that door!
Reniss: Are you mad, warforged?
Mikal d’Cannith: Probably.
Reniss: These are peaceable people, and you intend to raise a ruckus in their establishment? They would have the guards on us in moments, and rightly so.
Ashen: I did not say when, I merely said that we shall.
Berend Stonekeeper: Or we could ask them about it. If they wish to hide the operation, they will not call the guards. If they are paladins like they claim and have no knowledge of the operation, they will not call the guards.
Pythas: I’d say we should go in under cover of darkness. I can easily take care of a lock.
Reniss: As much as I hate to admit it, you are likely correct. Breaking in after the almshouse has closed would be smarter.
Reniss looks at the door and gasps.
Reniss: And look!
Reniss points at a placard next to the door.
Reniss: They are closed on Sul’s, which is tomorrow!
Ashen: Then tomorrow is when we strike.
Reniss: Well, no.
Ashen: Explain?
Reniss: Breaking in under darkness is still the wisest course of action. I merely meant that they will not discover the break in until Mol.
Ashen: So tonight then? Yes, that would be the best course of action.
Reniss nods.
Reniss: Unfortunately, I can not join you.
Ashen: Why?
Reniss: I had hoped we’d be able to find out something this afternoon, easily. But I turned up some information that I need to look into, pertaining to my sister and her fate. I must look into it tonight, or lose my only lead.
Ashen: I see. I cannot begrudge you closure.
Reniss: If I can complete my business before midnight, I will try and join you, but I do not know how long my errand will take.
Reniss looks around.
Reniss: Look, I have to get going, so I’ll say farewell for now. I would suggest laying low for the rest of the day, somewhere outside of Tradetown. Then hit the almshouse at midnight.
Berend Stonekeeper: Fare thee well, and may the gods watch over you on your errand.
Reniss bows slightly.
Reniss: If I can not join you, I wish you luck. Farewell!
Reniss dashes off and is quickly lost to the crowds.

View
Far, Eyre 27, 998 YK - It Never Ends

It’s been a few days since the ceremony which celebrated the victory at Bordrin’s Watch and lauded the party’s aid in the fort’s defense by closing the Nexus. The adventurers move about the city, tending to errands they’ve been avoiding. They leave the Cannith workshop in Forgeworks, where their new companion, the warforged Ashen, received some minor repairs. It is near noon, and they planned to head back to the Cannith house enclave in Elftown, and so took a shortcut through a narrow street. As they enter the alley, it becomes immediately apparent that there’s trouble afoot.

lost_ones.jpg

Two men approach from behind the group, pulling battleaxes from beneath their cloaks. One of the men sneers at the party as he speaks.

Thug: Took a wrong turn, friends. Too bad it’ll be your last.
Ashen draws his sword quickly, magical sparks dancing along its length as his eye glow with fierce blue light in his anticipation for battle.
Ashen: I believe that the wrong turn, friends, is yours.
Pythas: There’s someone behind the wagon…three someones.
Berend Stonekeeper: I really did need to stretch my hammer arm a bit.
Ashen: It has been a while since I have been in battle. Perhaps this is what I needed to get back into the swing of things. This will also be a good opportunity to show you what I can do.
Mikal d’Cannith (to the thugs): You’re being given one chance to receive mercy and leave. Do so now.
Berend Stonekeeper: They brought friends, be ready!
Ashen: Mercy is not what I was created for.

Unimpressed with the witty repartee, the thugs charge in to attack, and are joined by a trio of human men wearing heavy armor. As the combatants engage, sparks fly from the darkest part of the alley, and a bald mage emerges to blast the party with lightning. Fortunately, the magic misses most of the adventurers, singeing Pythas only slightly, and the battle continues. Before long, all that remains of their opponents is a single armored male and the mage, who flees when he realizes the battle is lost. Knowing this last thug could have answers, the party does not kill him. Rather, a final blow knocks the man to the ground, badly wounded, but alive. Ashen quickly moves to restrain him, while Berend tends to his wounds, trying to revive him for questioning. At last, the man’s eyes roll around in his head before he finally focuses on the party.

Berend Stonekeeper: Welcome back.
Ashen: Who are you?
Human Guard: Go to hell, warforged!
Ashen: Perhaps, but if you do not speak then that is where you shall be heading.
Mikal d’Cannith sighs, but starts working on the man’s wounds.
Mikal d’Cannith: This can be painless or painful. The less you struggle and more helpful you are, the more reason I have to use better materials. (pokes wound) Now, do you want me to use “cheap” disinfectant or the good stuff?
Human Guard moans in pain, staring at Mikal in fury.
Human Guard: Who I am is unimportant. All you need to know is that you’ve made someone very angry, and they want you dead.
Ashen: And, who is this “Someone?”
Human Guard: Didn’t I say to go to hell, you piece of rusted scrap metal?
Human Guard spits at Ashen’s feet.
Mikal d’Cannith: Cheap it is.

Mikal pours out a white granular powder and puts it in the wounds. The wounded man begins to shriek in pain. Meanwhile Dulinamin stands over the prone man, his hand wreathed in magical flame and a sadistic look on his face.

Dulinamin: Perhaps you wish to tell us, or I can make the last few minutes of your existence very painful.
Berend Stonekeeper: We specialize in making people angry. We need a little more information.
Human Guard: Alright, alright! I dunno who he is, but he wants something you lot have!
Dulinamin: What is that?
Human Guard: A brass key, that’s all I know. Seriously! That’s all I know!
Berend Stonekeeper (looks at the others): Anyone have a brass key?
Ashen: A brass key? I know of no such key.
Mikal d’Cannith: Mmm. Where were you hired?
Human Guard: Look, I just got asked to come along on the job. Ferland over there, he said he got a note from someone, said to get this key off you lot. Said we could keep whatever you had on ya, but the key was what we was after.
Ashen: Ferland?
The man indicates one of the dead men nearby.
Mikal d’Cannith: Friend of yours or just work buddy?
Human Guard: Barely know ‘im, actually. Have worked a couple jobs with him, but don’t know him outside that.

Berend gets a thoughtful look on his face, then quickly begins patting and going through all of his pockets and gear as the rest look on confused. From a pouch on his belt, he pulls out a small key, its business end relatively simple, while its other end is quite ornate. It is also quite obviously brass.

Berend Stonekeeper: Oh, hey, I think I found it! I was just thinking back to the day we came into town, when I got bumped into but nothing was taken… thought maybe someone made a deposit.
Human Guard: See? Told you! That’s the key Ferland said we was after!
Mikal d’Cannith: Hmmm. I’ll examine it later.
Mikal looks back at the cowering guard.
Mikal d’Cannith (to the others): Has he earned good closure of the wounds?
Ashen (to Mikal, quietly): He tried to kill us. I believe that if this is all the information he has, he should be given no mercy. Let him keep the wound as a souvenir.
Mikal d’Cannith (ignoring Ashen): Has he been truthful, Berend?
Berend Stonekeeper: Yes, He has been truthful, so far.
Mikal d’Cannith: M’kay.
Mikal d’Cannith starts pulling out thread and needle.
Mikal d’Cannith: You’ll probably want to be unconscious for this. Hold him down please.
Human Guard: Wait, wait… what are you doing? I helped you lot! I did! What are you doing?!
Mikal d’Cannith: Patching you up.
Mikal starts to sew up his wounds.
Human Guard screams in pain, then mercifully passes out.

While Mikal tends to the man’s wounds, Berend starts to go through the pockets of the fallen Ferland. He finds nothing of any value; however, he does find a rolled up sheet of parchment covered with barely legible writing, which he shows to the others. It would appear to be the note the wounded guard mentioned, ordering the hit on the party and the recovery of the brass key. Most notably, the author of the note seems quite desperate to regain possession of this key.

letter_key.jpg

Mikal d’Cannith: Can I see the key Berend?
Berend Stonekeeper hands the key to Mikal.
Mikal d’Cannith(inspecting the small key): Hmm, easy enough to duplicate.

Mikal d’Cannith finds a potato in a nearby basket and cuts it in half. He quickly crafts a duplicate of the key, dropping the original on the body.

Berend Stonekeeper: Do we REALLY want to leave the key?
Mikal d’Cannith: It’s not magical, merely mundane. This way we don’t have them keep coming after us. No reason to borrow trouble.
Ashen: I do not think that wise. If he wants the key so badly as to kill us, then I dread to think what lock it opens.
Berend Stonekeeper: I’d rather have the real thing in case there is something about it that we don’t know. Besides, it might be better to have them coming after us, cuz then we know where they will be.
Ashen: We should keep the key until such time as we find out what it’s for, then if it’s nothing bad, I will give it to this guy personally.
Mikal d’Cannith: Fine, we’ll look into it.

Dissatisfied with Mikal’s answer, the warforged waits till Mikal’s back is turned and picks up the dropped key form the body. Berend sees this and merely nods, agreeing with the action.

Berend Stonekeeper: Well, I think we need to figure out who this Modra is, since he seems to want us dead.
Pythas: Since when are dwarves afraid of death?
Berend Stonekeeper: Who said anything about being afraid of death? I would rather find him and see if he can stand up to my hammer.
Ashen: I am inclined to agree with Berend.
Mikal d’Cannith: Well he doesn’t want us dead, since he will have his key back. Meanwhile, it seems we shall be looking into it discretely.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well, while you are doing that, mind if I ask around a bit and see if anyone knows of anyone by the name of Modra?
Mikal d’Cannith: Discrete, Berend, discrete. This means don’t draw attention to yourself. You’ll undo the advantage we will have.
Berend Stonekeeper (insulted): Bah! discrete, I can do discrete! I am a scholar AND a fighter, I do understand the meaning of the word!
Mikal d’Cannith shakes head and mutters under his breath.
Ashen: Perhaps I should join you Berend.
Dulinamin (nervously): Shall we end this conversation and go before more men show up?

The party leaves the alley, and heads toward the Cannith workshops where Mikal and Pythas intend to work together to make a new copy of the brass key, using the hastily crafted potato version as a model. Dulinamin, Berend, and Ashen begin making inquiries as to the identity of this “Modra” who wishes them dead.

A shopkeeper informs Berend that someone names Modra was trying to buy information from another merchant named Char, specifically looking for someone with experience mining the old caverns of the Stonehome. When pressed for more details, the merchant informs them that Stonehome is a mining complex in the mountains to the northeast of Overlook. Much of the ore processed within the forges of Overlook comes from there. The miners return to the city at the end of each week with their ore, so are not due to return for another couple days.

Ashen meets a woman name Reggen at the Mountain’s Hearth Inn in the Blister section of the city, who mentions running afoul of some bandits in the streets just days ago, her description bearing a remarkable likeness to the group the party just encountered. When asked about Modra, Reggen states that she’s heard that Modra is a dark creeper. “You know,” she says. “One of those nasty creatures that always hides in the shadows. This Modra fella brokers weapons and armor through the city’s black market.”

Berend Stonekeeper: Which begs the question? Why does he want dwarves that have worked the mines? Shortage of materials for his weapons?
Ashen: Perhaps if we go to this cavern we can find out what ore they mine. Or perhaps, ask around.

The trio continue their inquiries, and learn that Modra was in the city no more than three weeks ago in the company of dark creepers. Perhaps Modra is not a dark creeper himself, Berend ponders, and is instead a shadar-kai. Before that line of thought can be investigated fully, however, a large group of disheveled men round the corner. They yell about lost wages and the exorbitant price of bread. Seeing the party, the striking men decide to take their frustrations out on the strangers, and move in to attack. Loathe to hurt what is obviously a desperate group of unemployed people, the three adventurers fend off the attackers with non-lethal blows, and quickly remove themselves from the area, and continue their inquiries.

The keeper of a nearby inn looks like he’s had a shady past, and is more than willing to talk. “Oh yeah, I know about that Modra character,” he declares. “He met up with one of them shadar-kai folk, a witch, if I’m not mistaken. This was maybe a month ago, I think. They was saying that she was doing a deal for weapons, but if’n you ask me, she didn’t look like much of a warrior, know what I mean? Haw, haw!”

Following up on the shadar-kai tip at a neighboring shop, their questions are overheard by a seedy-looking gent, who offers some advice. “Can’t say I know much about them shadar-kai, save that they into some of the more illegal activities in Overlook. Which means, you know,” the man pauses and looks around suspiciously, “that they’ve likely been dealing with that dark creeper, Modra. He’s huge in the criminal underworld here, y’know? Stay away from that guy!”

It is getting on toward late afternoon when Dulinamin, Ashen, and Berend decide to head back toward the Forgeworks district to check in on their companions. It would seem the others had the same thought, as they run into Pythas and Mikal on the main road. Eagerly, the trio relates what they have learned about Modra.

Mikal d’Cannith: Did you do it discretely? Make sure word won’t get back to him?
Berend Stonekeeper: Of course not, I put a soap box in the middle of market square and stood on it shouting his name until he came out of hiding
Mikal d’Cannith (chuckles): Figures.
Ashen (missing the sarcasm): That is a lie, we did no such thing!
Berend Stonekeeper: True, otherwise we’d have his head
Berend Stonekeeper: So how’d it go with the key?
Pythas: It was rather fascinating in the forgeworks.
Mikal d’Cannith (tossing Dulinmanin a key): Pythas and myself also have copies.
Dulinamin takes it and puts it in his pocket.
Berend Stonekeeper: Excellent
Mikal d’Cannith: Makes me wish I knew some tracking magic. Could put it on the original instead of just getting his attention off us. Mmmm. Kinda wish you could actually call on the silver flame, I wonder what kind of neat things I could make.
Berend Stonekeeper: That’s ok, I’m sure he has ways of tracking the copies. He found out we had the original.
Mikal d’Cannith: No, we don’t. I specifically left it with that thug so he would be done with us. He has what he wants. He doesn’t need to bother us.
Berend Stonekeeper (shrugs): If that’s what makes you sleep better at night. I doubt he’s done with us.
Mikal d’Cannith (sighs): I didn’t say we weren’t, I said he won’t be gunning for us. We have time to properly investigate. Lull him into complacency, then strike.
Ashen: Judging from what we found out, this Modra is not a good person. We would be doing this town a service if we dealt with him.
Berend Stonekeeper: As you wish. In the mean time, food and drink are in order.
Berend Stonekeeper turns and heads toward a tavern
Ashen grabs Berend and stops him.
Ashen: This is no time to be drinking, we should still be finding out more about this Modra. Unless you are heading to the tavern to find out more information?
Berend Stonekeeper: Aye, information and food!
Mikal d’Cannith: We’re flesh and blood, we need food and sleep. Dwarves need lots of booze.
Ashen: I still do not understand the workings of humans and they’re need for sustenance. Nor the need of dwarves for beer.
Berend Stonekeeper: Ale, my friend. Beer is for those who can’t handle the strong stuff!
Mikal d’Cannith: Just ’cause dwarves prefer their booze to reach out of the mug and punch them.
Ashen: If you say so.

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Zor, Eyre 12, 998 YK - Quest's End

The Nexus has been closed successfuly, keeping the orcs from gaining a foothold in Bordrin’s Watch from below. The party’s success is not without cost, however, as their companion, Gregorth Grimsmasher, has fallen in battle. Exhausted, the adventurers make camp for the night in the cramped escape tunnel, with plans to move out and travel to Bordrin’s Watch early in the morning. At dawn, the palladin, Kalad, rouses the party, knowing it will take several hours to navigate the tunnels to reach Bordrin’s Watch.

Kalad: We need t’be on our way. While the tunnels at this end of the Vents be nothing like the beginnin’, it’s still gonna take some time to get to the fort. We shouldn’t waste time.
Berend Stonekeeper pulls out his hammer and chisel and carves Gregorth’s name into the lid of the nexus chamber.
Py (watching Berend): I understand the sentiment, but even as a fellow dwarf, didn’t you find him a bit…I don’t know…. a dick?
Mikal d’Cannith: He was stubborn, bullheaded, and full of pain and rage.
Berend Stonekeeper: He was a dwarf, and as such, hard headed and stubborn, but under it all I think he had a good heart.
Mikal d’Cannith: I’ll hire a bard to spread the story of Gregorth, Hero of Bordrin’s Watch.
Berend Stonekeeper: I have begun to immortalize his story in our way.
Py stares blankly.
Py: Do you know two dwarves named Gregorth? I’m confused.

Gathering their gear, the adventurers follow after Kalad as he leads them away from the hatch that now marks the final resting place of their companion. True to his word, it is nearly three hours before Kalad at last points out a short stairway leading to an iron door in the ceiling. “Ah, there it is, lads,” he declares. “That’s the exit into Bordrin’s Watch.” Kalad throws open the hatch door, and the party exits the tunnel, blinking as they step into the sunlight… to be confronted by the sight of several spears and swords pointed in their direction!

Bordrin’s Watch Guard: Who the hell are you!?
Py: The people who closed the nexus for you.
Berend Stonekeeper: Nope, not from the hells, but from the nexus.
Mikal d’Cannith: Hello, good news. The nexus was secured. It was a close call and a number of people lost their lives accomplishing it.
Kalad steps forward.
Kalad: You bets be puttin’ that sword down, lad. I am a paladin from the Monastery of the Sundered Chain, and this lot just helped close the Nexus.
Bordrin’s Watch Guard: The Nexus?
Berend Stonekeeper: Bunch of passage ways below the mountain that the orcs were attempting to use to bypass the keep? Seriously though, we are here to help, will you let us up?
Kalad sighs loudly.
Kalad: Yes, the Nexus, ye damned fool! The tunnels beneath this fort! The orcs were using them to infiltrate Bordrin’s watch from below.
Bordrin’s Watch Guard: I KNOW what the Nexus is. You’re telling me you’ve closed it off?
Kalad: Aye, lad, it’s closed. It should have been closed days ago, I assume by the Farstriders, seeing as we found their corpses littering the damned place. This lot found me after I’d been taken by the orcs… after they’d masacred everyone else in the monastery. Only myself and Berend here survived the assault on the monastery.
Berend Stonekeeper: Aye. Either way, we have completed our mission and must report to the commander, let us through, you dolt!
Bordrin’s Watch Guard scratches his head.
Kalad sighs loudly.
Kalad: Look, you dim witted fool. Bring us to your commanding officer now. They need to charge their plans now!
Bordrin’s Watch Guard (scowling): Fine. Follow me.
Berend Stonekeeper: Thank you.
Mikal d’Cannith: No nead to be so offensive, they probably weren’t told at all about a group going to secure the Nexus.
Kalad: Aye, that may be, lad, but any dwarf stationed at Bordrin’s Watch knows about the Nexus. I think this one just been droppped on his head a few times when he was a babe.
Bordrin’s Watch Guard’s ears redden, but he says nothing.
Mikal d’Cannith: There is nothing wrong with being safe, they are about to be attacked by orcs.
Berend Stonekeeper: Aye, and they would have been attacked from below if we hadn’t closed the Nexus.

The guard leads the adventurers over to a group of well-armored dwarves going over battle plans. They look up as they approach. One dwarf who looks to be in command steps forward and addresses the group.

Dwarf Commander: What’s this, now?
Py: You hadn’t heard about the orcish army on your doorstep?
Dwarf Commander: D’ye think we’re out here for our health, changling? We’ve been planning for their attack for days now.
Mikal d’Cannith (gesturing to Kalad): At Kalad’s urging, we went to ensure that the Nexus was secured. It was a close call but we secured it.
Dulinamin: And judging by the swarm that had arrived when we made it there, it is a very good thing we closed it off.
Dwarf Commander: You secured the Nexus?
Dwarf Commander turns to the other armored dwarves.
Dwarf Commander: I thought Somerfield and his lot were taking care of that?
The other dwarves shrug in response.
Mikal d’Cannith: The were unable to succeed with the numbers against them, but we were able to take on the leftovers.
Dwarf Commander: So the Nexus is closed, then?
Berend Stonekeeper: Aye, it is closed, and sealed with Dwarven blood.
Mikal d’Cannith: And human, and elven, and halfling, and lots and lots of orc blood.
Dulinamin: Mostly orc.
Dwarf Commander: That is sad news. The loss of dwarven kin is never a good thing. But I am pleased to hear that the Nexus is closed. That should keep them orcs from coming up right from beneath us.
Kalad: Aye, they won’t be gettin’ in that way. But ye can be believin’ they’ll be throwing the might of their armies at the front gates, so ye’d be wise to fortify the gates with all ye got.
Dwarf Commander nods.
Dwarf Commander: Quite right, paladin.
Dulinamin: Where can we be put to use now?
Mikal d’Cannith: If you need any assistance in healing, crafting, or repairs, I can help with that. I am Mikal d’Cannith of the Tinkerer’s Guild.
Py slips into the shadows to make a quick change. When she emerges, she is in the guise of a portly female dwarf.
Pythilda: When in Sharn…
Berend Stonekeeper: We can offer what aid we have to the defenses.
Dwarf Commander: You will help us defend the gates, on the front line. If you have any preparations you need to make, do so now. My scouts have informed me that the orc army approaches, and will be outside our gates by nightfall.
Mikal d’Cannith eyes Py and shrugs.
Pythilda chortles like a dwarf.
Dulinamin turns toward Py and is unable to hide his recoil of revulsion.
Mikal d’Cannith: In all honesty, I can be more helpful away from the gates. I can brew potions and other supportive consumables, as well as potent alchemist’s fire and blinding bombs if you have the materials.
Berend Stonekeeper: Alright everyone, let’s see where we can best be of use
Dulinamin: I was thinking our unique talents would be better used somewhere else as well.

Grateful for their assistance, the dwarf commander sets the party to make their preparations for the coming battle. He quickly begins barking orders, moving the bulk of the defending army of dwarves to the front gates of Bordrin’s Watch. The adventurers split up, taking up various tasks to help fortify the fort for the coming attack. The commander’s scout was correct. As the sun begins to set over the landscape, the marching steps of a tremendous army can be heard echoing over the plains. From atop the wall, the adventurers look out over the land to see several thousand orcs marching toward the walls of Bordrin’s Watch. In truely dramatic fashion, as the last of the sun’s rays dip below the horizon, thunder rumbles as the sky opens up, and a torrential rain begins to fall.

Dulinamin: Perfect weather for a war.
Berend Stonekeeper: Aye.

attack_on_bordrins_watch.jpg

The orcs attack first, sending volley after volley of arrows arcing over the walls. Several dwarves fall down dead as the volley is answered with flaming balls of pitch, hurled at the orcs from a line of trebuchets. As the flaming missiles crash into the orcs’ ranks, the orcs roar with fury and charge the walls!

The battle goes on for nearly five days. The orcs keep retreating to regroup, always returning to throw themselves at the walls of the fort as the ocean waves do the rocks of a beach. Many dwarves are killed or wounded, but the orc troops are decimated by the relentless attacks of the well-trained dwarves. As dawn breaks on the fifth day, a greatly reduced army or orcs makes a final attempt to breech the walls of the fort, only to find that the dwaves have thrown open the gates to charge out and meet them on the field of battle. As the sun breaks the horizon, the dwarves have turned the battle against the orcs, and drive the beasts before them. Fewer than a hundred orcs remain, and they flee, scattering into the foorhills of the nearby mountains. A great cheer goes up from the dwarven army.

Berend Stonekeeper: Once again Bordrin’s Watch holds against the Orcs
Pythilda coughs politely.
Pythilda: So….all these dead…What should we do with the bodies?
Mikal d’Cannith: Burn the orcs, bury the dwarves.
Dulinamin: I don’t think you have enough time for this much burning. I’m sure the dwarves can handle it without you.
Mikal d’Cannith: Let Py go have some fun burning orcs.
Dulinamin: I guess you’re right. No harm should be able to come of it.
Pythilda: Don’t you think the Dwarves would burn their dead too? I mean, they’re already soaked in alchohol…
Mikal d’Cannith (rolls eyes): No, dwarves are typically entombed. Hopefully Greg’s body can be sent back to buried with his family.

The battle of Bordrin’s Watch is won. The adventurers’ part in the victory is greatly appreciated and lauded by the surviving dwarven army. After a celebratory feast, the commander charges them with the task of returning to Overlook, and informing the elders of Caer Overlook of the victory. The party is given provisions for the journey back to the city, and they leave the fort on the 19th of Eyre, a full week after they emerged from the tunnels beneath.

Sul, 22nd of Eyre, 998 YK

The journey back to Overlook is mercifully uneventful, taking just over three full days. The party arrives in Overlook early in the afternoon. Kalad, who has made the journey with them, is eager to get to Caer Overlook and inform the elders of the victory at Bordrin’s Watch, as well as the massacre at the monastery. Boarding the horses loaned to them by the dwarves of Bordrin’s Watch, the adventurers set off toward the center of the city and the towers of Caer Overlook. Having entered through the western gates, the make their way through the crowded streets of the Stonehammer district. The crush of so many bodies in the streets makes progress slow.

Dulinamin: I truly dislike crowded cities.
Kalad: Aye, I’m with ye on that, lad. Why d’ye think I spent most me life in a monastery?
Pythilda: It’s easier to disappear in a crowded city than in a monastery.
Berend Stonekeeper: True…. hey, watch where you’re going!

At Berend’s exclamation, the party turns to see a cloaked figure running into the crowd, away from where they stand. Within moments, the cloaked figure is lost in the crush of crowded bodies.

Kalad: What happened, lad?
Berend Stonekeeper: Got run into by someone, nearly bowled me over!
Mikal d’Cannith: Probably got robbed.
Dulinamin: Check your gold pouches.
Berend Stonekeeper (checking his gear): It appears all my pouches are still here.
Kalad: Thanks the Sovereigns for that, lad. Though yer as like to get yer throat cut as have your gold stolen in this city sometimes, I tell ye. Now THAT hasn’t changed a bit, either! HA!
Mikal d’Cannith: Mmm. That was rather suspicious, though.
Berend Stonekeeper: Strange. Best keep an extra watch out, perhaps he was checking us out to see what we were carrying.
Kalad: Possibly. C’mon, let’s get to the tower, and get this over with. I need a drink.
Mikal d’Cannith nods.
Berend Stonekeeper: I’m with you there, lad!
Dulinamin: There is something reassuring about the reliability of things, like the season, the sun rising, and a dwarf needing a drink.
Berend Stonekeeper (grins): Aye, that it is.

They make it to the central tower without further incident. The same guard who led them to the audience chamber on their first visit is on duty again, and recognizes the party as they approach.

Caer Overlook Guard: Oy! Look who it is! I see you made it back from wherever it was they sent yas.
Mikal d’Cannith: Greetings, we are here to pick up our payment for two missions.
Caer Overlook Guard (nods): Then ye’ll be wanting to speak to the elders, I reckon. Follow me. They just ended the morning session, but they’ll still be in the audience chamber.
Mikal d’Cannith: Thank you sir.
Dulinamin: Good I don’t relish the idea of having to come back some other day. The crowds here are unpleasant to deal with.

The guard leads the party through the now familiar halls seen the last time they visited Caer Overlook. They arrive at the audience chamber, and see Elder Cadrick in his place on the main dais. He smiles as he recognizes the adventurers, though his smile falters slightly when he sees Kalad.

Dulinamin (looks at Kalad): History?
Mikal d’Cannith eyes Elder Cadrick, suspicious of the elder’s sudden change in demeanor.
Elder Cadrick: Kalad? Why have you returned to Overlook? And with these adventurers who were sent to protect the monastery?
Kalad bows his head respectfully.
Kalad: The monastery was overrun, Cadrick. Myself and Berend here were the only survivors of the massacre. All our other monks were butchered by those damned orcs.
Elder Cadrick looks at Berend.
Berend Stonekeeper nods to the elder.
Elder Cadrick: I remember you only vaguely, Berend, as it’s been many a year, but I am glad of your survival. I can not believe all our priests… gone.
Elder Cadrick shakes his head in grief.
Berend Stonekeeper: It was a great loss to our people, though perhaps some may yet return and renew the monastery.
Dulinamin: We did lose Gregorth in the Nexus.
Elder Cadrick: Aye, I did notice that your friend was not with you. Did you not also travel with a warforged? I seem to remember one with you when last you were here.
Dulinamin: He had something that pulled him away. He didn’t share what it was exactly. I hope he’s still well.
Elder Cadrick nods.
Elder Cadrick: And Bordrin’s Watch? What news? We have not heard back from the Farstriders, who were sent there to close off the Nexus.
Berend Stonekeeper: The Farstriders will not be returning, as they fell in their attempt to close the Nexus.
Mikal d’Cannith: They were unable to succeed against the numbers arrayed against them and all died. Kalad urged us to ensure that the Nexus was secured and we did such. So we will be collecting payment for both missions.
Elder Cadrick sighs, shaking his head sadly.
Elder Cadrick: I knew that Somerfield would get his band killed someday. The man has always been reckless to a fault. And the fort itself? Were they able to fend off the orc army? They must have, if you have returned?
Berend Stonekeeper: Yes, the battle was long and glorious, and the hordes were once again driven into the wasteland.
Dulinamin: Yes, the orcs were very outmatched, almost suicidal in their attempts to take the fort. Still, many dwarves fell defending it.
Elder Cadrick nods.
Elder Cadrick: You have our gratitude, and you shall have your promised payment. In two days hence, we will have a ceremony, where all shall be made aware of your bravery in the aid of Overlook and Bordrin’s watch, and also of your sacrifice. You shall receive your payment in full on that day.
Mikal d’Cannith: For both the monastery and the nexus, correct?
Elder Cadrick nods.
Elder Cadrick: Until then, you shall be put up in our finest inn.
Mikal d’Cannith waves it off.
Mikal d’Cannith: I’m fine staying at my families enclave. Also, if possible, we would ask that Gregorth’s body be recovered so that he can be buried with his family.
Elder Cadrick: Very well. I shall send word to the commander of Bordrin’s Watch, and have him do so.
Mikal d’Cannith: Thank you it is appreciated.
Elder Cadrick: As you wish. Until Zol, I bid you good day.

The elder bows to the party in admiring respect as he takes his leave. With nothing to do until the ceremony two days later. the party leaves Caer Overlook, looking to make use of the promised accommodations. Mikal offers the hospitality of House Cannith, and leads them to the enclave in Elftown. There they are treated to a fine dinner of roasted pig and a hearty ale made from honey. Their dinner is just ending, when the door to the enclave opens and in walks a warforged.

Mikal d’Cannith: Hello?
Berend Stonekeeper peers carefully at the warforged.
Berend Stonekeeper: Thought it was your friend Loyal for a second.
The warforged walks in, remaining silent.
Mikal d’Cannith: This is somewhat private dinner. Did you need something?
Warforged: I apologize for intruding. But I am in the correct place, am I not? I was told to come here to meet with the d’Cannith family.
Mikal d’Cannith: This is the personal residences for the Cannith family, yes. If you need assistance, the workshops are in Forgeworks.
Warforged: I thank you, but it is not assistance that I need. I find myself needing a place of residence and possible work.
Kalad takes a big gulp of ale.
Mikal d’Cannith: Ah. I suppose we can assist you. What are your talents and experience?
Mikal d’Cannith motions for the warforged to take a seat.
Warforged: I am knowledgeable in the arcane arts.
Mikal d’Cannith: Hmm. Are you capable of alchemy or enchantment? I suppose we could use another crafter in the workshops.
Warforged: I apologize, but my specialty is in combat. Primarily the protection of others.
Pythilda makes a circle around the warforged, eye it closely.
Pythilda: How do we address you? Sir, Madam, or…It?
Kalad: No need to be rude, Py.
Warforged: I do not have a proper name, but I have heard myself be called " Ashen" before, so I suppose that will be my name. And please, do not call me It, I prefer to be called a “He”.
Pythilda nods.
Pythilda: I understand the importance of gender identity, friend.
Mikal d’Cannith (rolls eyes): You are a swordsage, as they are called?
Ashen: That is correct, I am what is called a Swordmage, however, I am also a knowledgeable Warlock.
Pythilda: Really?Ashen: Yes.Mikal d’Cannith: Wait, what?
Dulinamin: Interesting range of studies.
Berend Stonekeeper: Well, we could use another sword.
Pythilda: Maybe later we can compare swords…
Mikal d’Cannith just looks confused at Py.
Kalad glares at the changling.
Pythilda (brandishes her weapon): I was referring to weapons…mostly.
Mikal d’Cannith: Do you have any experience?
Ashen: I have experience in protection, I was crafted to protect ancient Arcane secrets locked deep in the far reaches of the world. However, I was betrayed, I am sorry, but I am bound to not speak another word on this subject.
Mikal d’Cannith: I’m not sure if you would be a good match for us.
Kalad: Supposin’ you’ll hafta, lad. After the ceremony, I’ll likely be heading back to retake the monastery, which leaves you down a man. Makes sense to take the help that is offered freely.
Mikal d’Cannith (nods): If said help is capable and useful, yes. If not, then no, not really. I suppose we could give you a chance, though.
Dulinamin: The more the merrier.
Mikal d’Cannith: You understand that you are on your own for equipment until after you participate in a successful quest and gain loot or payment from such.
Ashen: The dwarf speaks wise. Does this mean that you have work for me? However, you have heard of my name, may I now hear yours?

The party spends time getting to know their new friend. Two days later, it is early evening when they are summoned to appear before the Council of Elders at Caer Overlook. In a ceremony of great pomp and circumstance, they are each presented with an engraved medal, proclaiming them as veterans of the Battle of Bordrin’s Watch. Thunderous cheers erupt from the gathered crowd as the party turns to face them, their new medals gleaming against their chests.

After the ceremony, there is a grand reception, with drinks and excellent food. The adventurers mingle about the crowd, being congratulated time and time again by many grateful dwarves. The odd thing, though is that while no one in the room seems overtly threatening in any way, they can’t shake the feeling that they are being watched. . .

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