Shilsen's Eberron SH (Finished - The Last Word : 9/20/15)
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  1. #1

    Shilsen's Eberron SH (Finished - The Last Word : 9/20/15)

    Written by Shilsen

    How they met:
    The youngest of the four, Mithral 6 of 6 was created only in 992 YK. Built for speed and with scouting abilities unlike the majority of warforged, he ended up in an elite unit of the Cyran military, which specialized in tracking down individuals infiltrating Cyre as well as deserters and others seeking to cross its borders illegally. Another member of the unit was Corven ir'Lanya Deneith, a Deneith descendant but not a member of the house. Corven's more urban investigative skills and his artificer abilities worked well in conjunction with M66's skills and they often found themselves assigned missions together and a friendship developed.

    In 994 YK, the pair were among a small team pursuing fugitives across the Droaam border when the Day of Mourning occurred. Hurrying back towards the Cyran border, they were met with scores of refugees who had barely survived the cataclysm. Among the refugees was a man they recognized, a wizard who had been part of another Cyran unit. Though they did not know him personally, they had been told his name was Edgar. The man they met looked just like Edgar, but he persisted in claiming to be called Nameless and displayed no memory of them or anything before the Day of Mourning. Other survivors said that he had come wandering out of the mists that had engulfed Cyre a good two days after the cataclysm.

    The refugees fled west, trying to reach the Breland border before the goblinoid hordes of Darguun could catch them, and ended up in a series of running battles (during which they discovered that Nameless was a mage) and were driven further south. By the time they managed they managed to reach the Seawall mountains, only half were alive and less than a quarter eventually made it across into Zilargo. There, they were promptly placed in refugee-cum-prison camps, but at least that was better than a Darguun cookpot. Corven, Mithral 6 of 6 and Nameless all survived, learning to depend on each other's skills in the process.

    Gareth Byron Deneith, meanwhile, had been fighting in the north of Cyre among the Deneith forces hired by Karrnath. With the death of his father Byron in the Battle of Grace, he was back in Karrlakton when the Day of Mourning occurred. He continued to fight until the Treaty of Thronehold ended the War in 996. Not interested in joining House Deneith and wishing to find out more about his father's sword, he headed south, planning to see whether the Library of Korranberg in Zilargo had any relevant information about the sword.

    Serendipitously, he found himself on the streets of Dragonroost at the same time as Corven, M66 and Nameless (just having been allowed to leave the refugee camp with the War over). The latter three discovered Gareth just as a group of muggers were attacking him and the group found themselves fighting together for the first time. Corven was searching for news of other survivors from his family and following a rumor that a cousin was in Trolanport, planning to take a ship to Sharn (where hundreds of Cyran refugees had ended up) from there, while M66 and Nameless were accompanying him. Gareth received a vision during that first night with the others, hearing a voice from within a silver flame telling him that their paths lay together, so he joined them.

    The four headed south to Trolanport, and finding no sign of Corven's cousin, hired on as extra muscle on the sailing ship Wild Duck, heading to Sharn. The rest, as they say, was history. Strange, portentous, heroic, painful and very often hysterically amusing, but history nevertheless...
    Last edited by Rackhir; Sunday, 20th September, 2015 at 03:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    This is a 3.5e Eberron campaign, which we began in March 2005. We generally play weekly but have missed a few here and there, plus I was out of the country for a few months last summer, so we're currently at just over 25 sessions (PCs have moved from 3rd to 8th lvl). For the most part it's a core rules game, though I do a number of things differently as far as mechanics are concerned, such as just awarding a fixed amount of XP per session rather than basing it on encounters and CR, or using a slightly varied action point system (which includes taking death mostly out of the equation). I've commented on a number of these issues in my posts throughout the thread.

    On a non-mechanical angle, it's a roleplaying-heavy character-driven game. I didn't set out with a planned plot arc or adventures but rather threw out a bunch of plot hooks and let the campaign develop from the PCs' choices. Those choices also intersect with the backgrounds of the various PCs, with me throwing in background-related material and the PCs being free to interact with and develop on them or not, as they choose. It helps that the PCs (players?) are all somewhat mental, so they create adventure opportunities and get themselves in trouble way more than I could have envisioned. We only have a single combat or two per session (sometimes none at all), so they tend to be significantly tough and challenging. I'm an admitted powergamer (though I police myself a lot) and ruleslawyer, so I get to indulge those as DM too.

    These writeups (mine, that is, not AviLazar's, which are an in-character journal) weren't actually designed for a story hour but were actually session recaps for the players. That's why the first few are dry and mostly in point form until I started gradually expanding them for the later ones. The recent ones are the most readable, though I still wouldn't consider them anywhere near what they could be. I'm currently DMing another Eberron game along with this one, as well as playing in Mallus' CITY campaign (also on the Story Hour forum as "The Chronicle of Burne and Other Less Important People") and Michael Tree's M&M game, so I tend to have more than enough gaming stuff to distract me from giving the writing angle more time.

    Still, I hope you find these stories entertaining. And if you have any comments or questions, please post. I'm on ENWorld for hours daily, so you can expect a quick reply. Plus it helps massage my little writerly ego


    P.S. In the interests of making stuff easier to find here and to help out new readers, here are a few spots you can jump right to:

    Arrival in Sharn (Session 1)

    Luna joins the group (Session 5)

    Meeting people in Sharn (Session 8)

    Raiding Daask in Undersharn (Session 14)

    Off to Xen'drik (Session 19)

    Dragons and Daelkyr (Session 25)

    Back in Sharn and the arrival of Korm (Session 26)

    Why You Should Fear Goblinoids in Eberron (Session 31)

    Yarkuun Draal, City of Aberrations (Session 33)

    Rescuing your mage from an army of aberrations (Session 36)

    Learning the secret of the Shard (Session 40)

    Climax: Fighting rakshasas inside a pool of lava on the hand of a bound rajah (Session 45)
    Last edited by shilsen; Thursday, 22nd May, 2008 at 01:09 PM.

  3. #3
    Written by AviLazar


    Feeling the sea-spray against my skin, smelling the fresh sea air, I enjoy the sunny day. We are soon to arrive to the City of Towers - Sharn! After travelling with my companions for a long time, we agreed that it would be best to stay in Sharn for a time. It will be good to finally call a place home! Sharn, I hear is an amazing city built out of the cliffs supported by vast powers of magic, and a definite place that obeys order and law. It will be interesting to explore this new place, and hopefully, find my holy quest.

    As we start to see land, I hear Edgar, or Nameless as he likes to be called, scream and I turn around in time to see a commotion over the side of the bow. I just barely see that we are attacked, and Nameless is screaming "Sea Devils". I rush up in front of Nameless, drawing my sword and acting as a shield for him. While Nameless does have a keen intellect, and his spells serve us well - he is not exactly bred for combat. Out of the corner of my eye I see a bigger, meaner and certainly uglier Saughin come out of the other side of the bow. Realizing he may kill the Captain and then capsize the boat, I rush over to guard the captain. With the Saughin occupied by the two boat guards, I think Nameless will be well protected.

    I just make it to the Captains deck to get in between him and the bigger Saughin, and the thing attacks me with his trident. It does do a little bit of damage, but this vile creature will soon know that Kizmet and the power of the Silver Flame is not one to be trifled with! I call upon the power of my god, and smash Kizmet onto the shoulder of this wretched creature making him wince and drop his trident. He seems to be infuriated, good, anger is the first step to the foolish mistakes that evil always make! Some of my companions, Six of Six and Corven, are fighting some more creatures behind me. They look like they are about to come to my aid, by I tell them that I have this one covered and they should not leave their opponents for this one. Right then this creature leaps at me clawing and biting, he slashes at my face, I return a quick swing, a hasty swing and miss him!!! I refocus, this creature is beneath the Silver Flame and will die easily! I see Six of Six walk up from behind this creature and he
    smashes him, dealing an almost lethal blow. The creature is not quite dead, so I put him out of his wretched misery.

    Turning around it seems that the rest of the group dispatched the other monsters, while some others fled. I hear from one of the boat gaurds that Nameless tried climbing up the ropes for some unknown reason and fell on his back. I tend to his wounds, as well as one of the boatsman who seems very ungrateful. We search the bodies and find that the bigger creature had a masterwork trident with some etchings of his people. I figure we can sell this weapon for a few gold pieces as none of us can or wish to use it. Corven insists that we research the item, claiming that these creatures must have been supplied such a fine quality weapon. I, honestly, do not think these creatures are so simple minded that they cannot create masterwork equipment, but I do not argue with Corven...arguing with family, afterall, never leads to anything good.

    Upon arriving into the bay at Sharn we are greeted by tiny little draggons flying around and eating the fish that are left floating on the wake of the boat. The city is more amazing then the stories I have read. Before departing, the boat captain informs us that he would like for us to travel with him again. We let him know that if we do leave, we will inform him. We disembark and are greeted by the Custom's police who question us. In turn we question them about place that we need to get to. Six of Six is not a talkative sort but he keeps asking the customs officers as to how much boat guards make.

    We travel into the dock a little and are swarmed by a group of homeless children. Realizing such tactics, I quickly grab my purse to not give them a chance to fleece me. My god reveals to me that many of these kids bear the taint of evil, but all of them want to offer me some kind of service. Sifting through the rut, we hire a boy to be our guide. He asks for 5 silver pieces, I am sure a price higher then normal - but I figure if it makes him happy, he will be much more loyal to us. We travel into the town and first take one of the floating coaches to the Church of the Silver Flame. When we arrive there Corven quickly goes to prayer while I speak to the priest of some private things. Six of Six, again, starts questioning people about the cost of boat guardsman, but also asks about the cost of guides. We find out that a child guide generally receives 1 silver per day. After speaking we head outside and Six walks to the boy and questions him about the actual costs of a guide. I inform Six that we made
    a deal with the boy, and that we are honorbound to keep it - Six did not respond - I am sure he is not happy about it, but a deal is a deal.

    From there we go to the ambassader section of Sharm where my three companions, all from Seer, speak to their representatives. I pity these people who no longer have a home to call their own, but am inspired by their staunch loyalty - an admirable quality I am sure. They ask some questions and from there we leave to go to House Denith.

    When we arrive at the House we are escorted inside and meet with twin sisters who seem a bit dismayed that I and Corven do not work for the family. To help with my credentials, I mention my family lineage. They vaguely know of my fathers name, but they seem to have heard about the Battle of Grace. COrven informs them he is willing to work for the family, and I inform them that I would work for the family as long as the cause was just and good. They tell us that they we should return on the 'morrow for our orders. They would also, apparantly, like to practice combat skills with me in some future point.

    After exiting House Denieth, we relize that we are all famished from our travels. We head to a local restaurant, one that is concealed behind a bigger building. Nameless makes comments how this place must be the hiding spot for the rich, as it seems very quaint but the menu is both rich in flavor and variety - Nameless even got to eat some tenticles! We informed our expensive guide, Bodo, that he may join us for lunch and he seems very ecstatic. He eats more then ever, and that is fine with me. We talk about issues at hand and our next plans of action. I suggest that we head to the wizards guild and then to find an inn.

    When we arrive at the Wizards guild, Nameless opens the doorway for us with one of his spells. I would wager getting in would be hard without his magical aptitude. We are greated by a secretary who seems very friendly. She summons one of the wizard members who takes us to his private study. I ask him about Kizmet, my fathers holy avenger. He reads the lines on the sword and does some tests. He informs me that while Kizmet was once a great and powerful sword, it is not longer such, but it seems like an item that will gain in power as it becomes more attuned to its wielder. It also seems to be a heritage sword bound to a certain line. This sword did belong to my grandfather, then to my father, and now to me so this would seem to make sense. The wizard kindly informs me that until it becomes magical again, it is susceptable to all the damage of a non-magical weapon. I keep that in mind - I would hate for such an heirloom to break, though I would definitly have it reforged!

    We leave to go to the inn, where we tell Bodo that we could use his services in the morning again. We tell him, however, we will only pay 2 silver plus food per day. He seems a bit dismayed, but quickly realizes that we are paying him more then he would normally make and the deal we are offering is very good for him. I think, I will find out if he has a place to call his own. If the poor child is living on the street, it would be right of us to house him. Eventually, if we stay in Sharn long enough, we will need to purchase a home, and to have someone take care of it for us while we are on our travels would not be bad.

    Upon morning, we wake up and get ready. When leaving, we see that Bodo is outside and waiting for us. I am sure he came early so we wouldn't leave without him. We head back to House Deneith and are greeted by the clerk of the house. He informs us of what the house needs...apparantly in the lower levels of the city, in a place called lower Dura there was a rich merchant who was on business and got himself in a bit of trouble. I do not know what this business was, but the clerk seemed a bit fishy about it. I was not going to question him further as he probably does not know all of the details, and once we reach the bottom I could determine what was going on.

    We left the house, with a map, and proceeded to the entrance, Bodo showing us where this place is - though I will not let him follow us in the lower areas as it would be too dangerous.

  4. #4
    Written by Shilsen

    Session 1 - Introduction to Sharn
    * The PCs are traveling to Sharn (from Trolanport in Zilargo) on a sailing ship called the Wild Duck, having worked out a deal with Captain Vail that they will pay half fares and receive food in return for working as guards. When close to the Hilt, the wide bay at the mouth of the Dagger River that Sharn sits on, the ship is attacked before dawn by sahuagin, who use grappling hooks to board the ship. The PCs kill half a dozen, including a particularly tough one with a masterwork trident, before the rest flee. Only one of the other guards on the ship is killed in the attack.

    * Continuing on, the Wild Duck enters the Hilt, passing fortresses on either side. Nearing the cliffs Sharn stands on, the ship passes a boat town at the edge of the docks consisting of rafts, houseboats & other craft connected by a web of piers, gangplanks and rope bridges (called Ship's Towers, one of the two waterfront districts). Passing Ship's Towers and the slum area behind it, consisting of a cliff face with cave openings in it and small hovels around them (Mud Caves), the ship continues north, attracting a small swarm (couple dozen) of tiny dragons, iridescent white in color, called spiretop dragons.

    * Ship continues north to a larger dock section (Grayflood). Guided by smaller boats to dock. As PCs are leaving, Captain Vail welcomes them to travel with him any time and says he will probably be in Sharn for a week. PCs disembark, to be met by a waiting group, first by some (from the Wharf Watch) asking what items they are transporting and asking for identification. When they discover the PCs are foreigners, pass them on to others in the group (from the Guardians of the Gate). They ask the PCs about their business in the city and tell them the Guardians will help as needed (HQ is in Black Arch district, in Lower Tavick's Landing). They pay particular attention to Gareth and Corven as Deneith people and tell them that the main Deneith enclave is in Dragon Towers (Middle Central Plateau). Also tell the Cyran PCs that there are many Cyrans in the High Walls area (Lower Tavick's Landing) and that the Cyran embassy is in Ambassador Tower (Middle Central).

    * PCs continue into Grayflood. Meet youngsters clamoring to guide them into city and accept one called Bodo as guide. Bodo gets them a skycoach and they fly to Middle Central Plateau.

    * Traveling around Middle Central, the PCs stop in turn at the Cathedral of the Cleansing Flame (Sovereign Towers district), the Cyran embassy (Ambassador Towers) and the Deneith enclave (Dragon Towers). At the Cathedral of the Cleansing Flame, Gareth speaks to an acolyte (named Golar) about the Cathedral, learning that it is run by Archieropant Ythana Morr, a powerful cleric of the Silver Flame. At the Cyran embassy, Corven asks whether any of his family (ir'Lanya) survived and are in Sharn/Breland, and is told that the clerk will look into it and let him know if he returns the next day. At the Deneith enclave the PCs speak to a pair of female twins called Lalia and Tasra d'Deneith, who are both Sentinel Marshals. Lalia doesn't seem impressed by Corven and Gareth not working for the house but is eventually persuaded to try to find any freelance/mercenary work for them (and mentions that there is some problem in the Cogs that may need looking into). 6 of 6 keeps asking people how much a boat guard makes, while Nameless is talking to his rock!

    * The PCs walk to Middle Dura (seeing a falling man get saved by a feather fall spell on the way) and up to the Clifftop district of Upper Dura. Bodo takes them to a small but very good restaurant called Kavv's, which serves Xen'drik food, run by a husband & wife pair (Saza and Taji Kavv) from Stormreach. After the meal, the PCs visit the Esoteric Order of Aureon and Gareth speaks to a sage called Harned about his sword, learning that it may have latent powers that will reveal themselves in time.

    * Heading down to Middle Dura and the inn district of Underlook, the PCs find an average inn called the Healthy Harvest (innkeeper named Palk) and get rooms, and send Bodo off with instructions to return the next day. After wandering around the area a bit, they pack up for the night.

    * The next morning, they get up to find Bodo waiting and head off to the Deneith enclave, where a clerk tells them that there is a commission for them. People have been disappearing from lower Dura, mostly vagrants but recently a rich merchant down there on "personal" business. Some members of the City Council have authorized an investigation and the PCs are asked to go check out the area and report back with any discoveries they make. They are provided with a map and directions.

    Session 2 - Things that go "bump, gibber, gibber, smack, slash, aaargh!" in the night

    * The PCs are told that the missing merchant was using the alias Durij and was probably in the Silvermist dream parlor, a place that uses illusions to entertain. It is suggested that they ask around about any more recent disappearances (Durij disappeared over a week ago) and are told of a nearby bar/inn called the Cracked Mirror, where information might be available. They are given directions to an abandoned access shaft leading down to the Cogs nearby, which House Deneith just found out about, and which may have been used by the miscreants. A little persuasion gets the clerk to say that the merchant was possibly down there for illegal reasons.

    * Heading down to Lower Dura and the Callestan district, the PCs find that it is a very seedy inn district, with a large shifter population. They first visit the Silvermist parlor, where a woman named Jix (probably the manager) gives them some information about Durij being a regular customer and a description (red hair and beard), which Six makes a drawing of. Nameless gives her some money & asks her to find out any information that she can.

    * Deciding to skip the inn, the PCs are accosted while passing near it by a young shifter who tries to pick a fight with Gareth ("damn Flamer!"). Gareth puts a bit of a scare in him and he calls for help to someone called Gorlick, who emerges from the Cracked Mirror, turning out to be a much bigger, tougher-looking shifter. The latter is more irritated than belligerent and the PCs diplomatically talk him into having a drink with him. The PCs buy drinks for everyone at the bar (which has a large number of shifters and at least two evident changelings), quickly becoming more popular - esp. with Bodo, who sneaks two drinks before Gareth notices. Gorlick, apparently known locally as Redtooth, seems quite friendly, and much more so than the younger shifter (his brother Arian). Upon inquiry, the PCs discover that an old beggar disappeared a couple days before. They are told that violence and disappearances are common in Lower Dura.

    * Leaving the inn, they find the garbage dump that hides the old access shaft and tell Bodo to return to their inn, the Happy Harvest. Once he leaves, they open and enter the shaft. They find that it is old and rubble-strewn from parts that have collapsed, but usable, angling down underground. After searching the entrance area, find a smear of dried blood and some grayish slime. Corven examines it and says that it came from a live person and that it is mixed as if the wound was caused by a slime-coated weapon.

    * Continuing on, they travel for about a mile, passing areas where vertical shafts open into it from far above and getting closer to the rumbling and heat of the Cogs. Eventually, they emerge at one side of a large cavern, which is split in two by lava pools and streams, with a stone bridge crossing it. Reaching the bridge, they talk to a couple of guards and carters driving wagons across the bridge. They find no information about disappearances but do hear rumors about violence against warforged in one of the other areas. They are also told about the two other Cogs areas besides Ashblack (the industrial district where they are) - Blackbones (also industrial, but with a greater warforged population) and Khyber's Gate (apparently full of strange creatures which can't exist on the surface of Sharn). They are also told about some of the criminal elements in Sharn, esp. the Boromar clan of halflings who used to dominate its underworld and the new group called Daask, consisting of monstrous creatures (many of whom live in Khyber's Gate).

    * Before leaving, they cross the bridge and find a large cavern where people live and work. They see a dwarf overseer called Berek yelling at and punishing some warforged. He seems irritated at the interruption & says he has no idea about the disappearances but does confirm he heard about a warforged being found dead. He seems to view the warforged as tools, asking if Six is for sale.

    * Leaving the area, they head back into the access tunnel. When halfway to the surface, they hear a loud crashing sound from a shaft above them and get out of the way, just before a dead warforged falls out. Someone has cut off its hands, scorched it badly and bashed in its side, chest and head. A strange raised metal section on its left forearm looks like someone cut something off it and its battered mouth has stylized fangs. Corven examines it and says that it was killed only minutes ago and that the head blow (probably from a mace or flail) killed it. Six rigs up a rope to it and drags it behind him.

    * When they are about a minute from the opening, some of the PCs hear the sounds of movement up ahead. Multiple people begin to shoot at them from out of the darkness ahead and they engage in battle. The enemies turn out to be a combination of aberrations (which Nameless identifies), consisting of a dolgaunt (a large, pale creature with no eyes and two long tentacles), half a dozen dolgrim (squat, four-armed creatures with two heads squeezed into one) and two chokers (like hairless, naked halflings with long tentacular arms). Nameless catches most of the creatures in one place with a web spell and incapacitates some of the dolgrim with sleep. Two of the dolgrim turn out to be spellcasters, but do little damage, other than confusing Six for a bit. Despite taking some significant damage, Gareth cuts the dolgaunt in half and dispatches many of the others with Six's help. After having used some spells, Nameless is attacked by one of the chokers that sneaks up on him climbing along the ceiling, which knocks him down, chokes him, bashes his head against the floor and renders him unconscious. Corven has a very hard time using his wands and settles for attacking the choker with a mace. Finally, all the creatures are killed, except for one sleeping dolgrim, which is tied up. The last to fall is a dolgrim which manages to get to what is probably a secret door and trying to open it, when a screaming figure charges it and stabs it through the ear*. The attacker turns out to be Bodo, who is then scolded by Gareth for disobeying orders, given one of the dolgrims' shield and morningstar and sent off again.

    * After the requisite healing, the PCs open the secret door and pass through, finding a tunnel running parallel to the shat beyond it. Continuing along it, they hear a weird gibbering up ahead, which mentally affects Six, causing him to attack and wound Gareth. The gibbering turns out to come from a weird ooze-like creature that perpetually grows dozens of mouths and eyes, which Nameless identifies as a gibbering mouther. The PCs have a difficult fight, partly because of the weird creature's resistance to their non-bludgeoning weapons, and partly because of its multiple abilities. It spits acid at them (blinding Six right after he comes out of the confusion), bites at and fastens onto them with multiple (albeit weak) mouths and tries to drag them down. Nameless uses his last web to keep it held in one place and summons a fiendish wolf, which is forced to flee due to the gibbering. Gareth is bitten, grabbed, engulfed, and has a substantial amount of blood sucked out of him, only surviving due to his divine vigor and the one time Corven manages to heal him with a wand. Six is comparatively much less damaged, being distracted by the confusion and momentary blindness. Corven is still unable to use** his wands other than the one time and disgustedly gives one to Nameless, who blasts the creature with scorching rays from it till the mouther dies.

    * Wounded, tired and low on resources, the group heads back to the surface, taking the dead warforged and the dolgrim (which they knock out) with them. Getting a cart to put their 'trophies' on, they quickly draw a crowd as they head towards the higher levels and are stopped by a guard patrol before even reaching Middle Dura. They have to wait till their claim of being on a job for House Deneith is verified and a skycoach is obtained to quickly transport them to Middle Central. Reaching Dragon Towers and the Deneith enclave, they are met by a number of guards and Lalia d'Deneith. She has the warforged and dolgrim taken away and finds out everything that has occurred. She thanks the group and tells them to return to their inn and rest, promising that a reward will be sent to them.

    * Natural 20 plus 20 to confirm!
    ** At least a dozen rolls below 10 during the two fights.
    Last edited by Rackhir; Wednesday, 10th May, 2006 at 05:38 PM.

  5. #5
    Written by Avi Lazar

    After we were relayed our mission from House Deneith we checked our inventory and made sure we were ready to head down to the Cogs. We would first need to head through the poorer areas of Sharn, which we were warned of. Our young guide, Bodo, keeps asking to join us - but I must be adamant that he not enter the Cogs with us...I am uncomfortable as it is having him around us when we go into the slums.

    We take a sky cab down to the slums, and then head to a bar called the "Silvermist Parlor". This place apparantly offers fantasy services via the Changelings who use their abilities to changeshape. I cannot say that I would partake of these services, but as long as nobody is getting hurt then it is OK. We meet a person, Jix, working in this bar who happens to be the manager. We speak in private, and with Nameless' help are able to convince the manager we mean him no harm. Once the conversation gets underway, however, it became a game of subterfuge and subtleties. Everyone was speaking "if I knew this person and if I was inclinde to speak..." which is very frustrating, very slow, and if meant to throw would-be-spies off if they were scrying us - very ineffective. Finally I cannot bear it anymore and I inform Jix to just stop with the silly rants and to tell us what he knows about this Durij fellow - to be forthcoming. I inform him we do not have the answers, and we do not know many of the answers. Jix finally informs us of some things, including a description, and Nameless gives him a bag full of gold for any extra information.

    We make our way to the Cogs and become accousted by a Changeling who I noticed loitering near another bar. He attempted to insult me by calling me "Flamer". He does not realize that I am above such petty insults, and that it would take a lot more then unoriginal name-calling to get me to raise an eyebrow. I, however, decided it would be best to be diplomatic about it- these poor folks have suffered under some factions of the Silver Flame's church, and I can understand, if not condone, their greif. I explain to the person that I appologize for past wrongs, and that we mean him and his kind no ill-will. I turn around and begin to continue walking, letting my companions know that everything is OK. This changling continues to follow us getting very close, and starts calling me more names. These petty insults do not bother me, but his proximity to me does. I turn around, I apparantly am much taller then this person, and inform him that we mean him no harm - and he does not want to fight me. He seems a little bit scared, but apparantly not scared enough. He starts calling to his friends, and a crowd draws near - something I did not want. I wish people would call the law instead - I would much prefer a fight not arise - where many innocents might get hurt.

    A few seconds later and a big Changeling, by the name of Gorlick appears from the bar carrying a huge axe. He swaggers up and asks what is going on. I inform him that we mean nobody no harm and are just trying to pass through. The smaller Changeling informs the larger that we threatened him, and Nameless pipes in saying that we were not threatening him - just wondering if he had a wish to live a shorter life. Nameless and me then start mock arguing with each other which throws the larger Changeling off, and 6 of 6 then enters the conversation, with a surprisingly witty ploy and starts asking the larger Changeling if he has seen a person, and shows him a picture that he drew earlier. The larger Changeling being totally taken aback with this turns to his little friend and starts harassing him. The larger Changeling invites us into the bar and says he will help us out if we buy him a drink.

    We enter the bar and the crowd turns to see Gorlick, which is no surprise to them...then when they see me they are taken aback. The bar quiets down and I get a lot of evil stares, and I would venture that at least 90% don't want me there, 10% are wondering what would drive one such as me to enter the bar, and everyone probably taking bets to see if I make it out alive.

    Nameless asks how much it would cost to buy the bar a round of drinks, 1 silver, and I immediately slap down 1 gold coin and inform the bar tender to keep everyone here fed and drunk until the gold coin runs out. I normally do not like to steals someones thunder, and good idea, but I think I need to raise my popularity with these people a little more then Nameless. Everyone is surprised, but they are happy and they cheer...then after cheering, they realized what they did and they seem to be going through some kind of apoplexi---they just cheered for a "Flamer".

    We speak with the Gorlick, and we found out the other Changelings name is "Arian" who is his brother. We find out a bit of information with what is going on in this area. We even talk about what has happend in the past, especially with the Silver Flame church persecuting Changelings. I am asked if I know the church in Sharn and say that I have been there once...I am also told that the head priest there had his share of harassing these people. I inform them that I will have words with the priest. On a side note, if the priest did act out of line, I will have to impose justice on him. There is no excuse for this corruption which is does nothing but to hinder the church. I wonder why the Silver Flame & Tira Miron do not do something about this corruption. I am also told that maybe I should not walk around with my holy symbols, and I inform our new friend that I am proud of who and what I am and that I would not hide this fact. I am given an appreciative nod of approval. We part on good terms, and maybe I will be able to count this man as my friend one day.

    Heading to the warhouse we search for the hidden entrance and find one. We tell Bodo that he must head back to the house and he bemoans that he should get to join us. I tell him a lie, something I loathe to do but realize is necessary at times, that we are waiting for a message at the inn and he should wait there to receive it for us. After a bit of argument he agrees.

    We head into the Cogs and make our way down the corridor. It is nice to have these magical lights. I see, however, that 6of6 got a light made to attach to a head-lamp - sort of like what miners use. I will have to have one made as it will help keep my hands free and provide light to whatever direction I am looking. We follow the path for a while and I do notice things are getting warmer.

    Finally we reach an opening and we see lava flows to our sides. We also see a bunch of humanoids at a bridge and we walk over to them. It is apparantly a merchant cart with his gaurds. We ask about our target and they tell us they do not know who we are speaking of. We are told to go see a dwarf nearby who is "twice as wide as he is tall"

    We follow the directions and find this dwarf -Berek-, who does apparantly fit those dimensions. He is surrounded by an umber of War Forged, which 6 of 6 tries to speak to. Something seems a bit different about these War Forged, maybe they were earlier models and do not have a soul like 6 of 6. Maybe they are just constructs. The dwarf seems to mistreat his War Forged and 6 of 6 gets offended and starts scoulding the dwarf - who ignores him. 6 of 6's voice also seems to get distorted and he seems to be speaking in a funny, choppy tone - maybe this heat is not good for him?

    We leave the dwarf and start heading back through the tunnels - with no information - and we suddenly hear a loud clanking sound and move just out of the way - of a falling War Forged. This one seems to be dead and it appears that it wasn't due to the fall. Something killed this War Forged, a large model, and throw him down one of the shafts. 6 of 6 straps him to his back and starts hauling him back with us.

    As we make our way we encounter these aberrations - about Dolgrim and one Dolgaunt. I have heard of them before, and Nameless informs us they are resistant to our weapons by a significant amount. Some of the Dolgrim were spellcasters and managed to confuse 6 of 6, but it quickly wore off. Nameless then proceeds to cast a spell of web and sleep on those monsters holding them firmly in place. I cast another healing spell on myself, while Corven tries to heal me - but his wand still will not work. He simply must learn how to use it if he plans on being effective. 6 of 6 breaks out of his confusion and charges up with me - I tell him that I need him to stand up in the front ranks behind me as I cannot take all the hits on my own. He likes to use his spiked chain at a distance, but this leaves me vulnerable.

    Hanging on the ceiling is a halfing sized version of one of these creatures and it tries to latch on to me, and almost succeeds. I try to walk up to it but am too busy to deal with the other creatures. This small creature then strides over to Nameless and proceeds to beat on him. Corven is still trying to heal me, and 6 of 6 is helping me bash through the monsters. The larger creature in the back is using its tentacles to attack me from a distance.

    Finally the front rank is destroyed and we are left with the two in the back and the Dolgaunt. I walk up to it - stepping into the web- and calling on the power of the Silver Flame I smite it a powerful blow. It reels from the hit and I am no longer plauged by its hideousness. I proceed to turn around and beat on it's former friends slaying them with my fathers sword, Kizmet. At this point 6 of 6 and Corven run to help out Nameless who fell due to the hits of the halfing sized Dolgrim. 6 of 6 dispatches him as Corven heals Nameless. 6 of 6, in a quick move runs after one of the Dolgrim that tries to get away - but we hear the creature scream. Apparantly Bodo followed us in here. He hit the creature pretty well, but I scold him for not obeying my orders. I inform him, that not listening to me would mean we would no longer need his services and he would not be welcome to join us. We hand him some leather armour and a small sword from one of the creatures. I then instruct him to head back to the inn, and I give him a no-nonsense look. I heal the group members, as well as myself, and Corven also lends a hand with his wand. We find a few magical items which we cannot tell what they are. I stow them away in my bag for safe keeping in case they are magical.

    We kill the rest of the sleeping Dolgrim with the exception of one which we beat into submission until it passes out. We tie it up and head through the secret doors the monsters came from. We then see a big amorpheous creature, Nameless says he is called a "Giberring Mouther". I raise Kizmet to the sky and call upon the power of the Silver Flame, infusing me with faster movement and greater health. The creature confuses Six of Six and he turns and hits me with his spiked chain. I cast a healing spell on myself, and ask Corven to heal me - and he still has problems with his wand, although he assured me he fixed the problem!!! Six of Six breaks out of the confusion. Six of Six and me step up to attack the Gibbering Mouther and it seems to spit acid at our eyes. It hits me in the face but does not affect me, while Six of Six becomes blinded. He tries to back out of the fight but runs into Corven - he then keeps repeating "Please move side, please move aside." I do not know what is wrong with Six of Six, he is starting to sound more and more like a construct which is quite disconcerting. Nameless summons a web on this creature, holding it in place, and then brings about a fiendish wolf. On a side note, I wish that Nameless would not summon such evil creatures. Bringing such a creature into existance can simply do no good in the long run. The problem with working with evil, is that eventually it corrupts and consumes.

    We continue to trade hits with this creature - which seems partially immune to our weapons. Finally Six of Six is able to regain his sight and steps away from the creature - leaving me to fight it attacks me, grabs me and sucks me into it's insides. I thought I would not survive and that I stood no chance of escaping the insides of this creature, as it kept biting me over and over and over again. It's stomach acides burning me and I could do nothing to strike it! I was not only getting injured but was feeling weak that my health was failing me. With the Divine Grace of the Silver Flame I strived for one last bit of energy and clawed my way out, one step at a time, fighting against its tentacles when I finally broke out of the belly of the beast. Covered in it's slime, I stand up, and see that Nameless has Corven's fire wand. He is using it effectively and Corven is still failing at healing me. Six of Six and I start to beat on this creature, and finally Nameless is able to take him out with
    the fire wand.

    We gather some evidence, and Corven scoops up some of the body fluid of this creature. Six of Six wanted to continue forward, but I informed him that I was in no condition to proceed, and Nameless said he was dry of his spells. Six of Six looked disappointed, but I will not take anymore chances at this juncture...whatever happend that creature seemed to drain the life from me. Nameless assures me that it will pass in a day.

    We continue our way back to town, now with a dead War Forged, a Dolgrim prisoner, and the head of a Dolgaunt. To say the least, we scare many folks. We find a person with an old beat-up cart and I offer him some money for his cart, which he takes - from the floor - after we leave. We are bloodstained, and weary and then we encounter town guards. My patience for them is small - for one, they impugn on my honor when I tell them of my mission - they do not believe me. Then they force us to wait for an interminable amount of time while they run along to speak with the members of House Deneith. After a bit we receive word to be escorted to House Deneith and we hop on an air cab. The poor driver's face was agahst when he saw the contents of our cart.

    We arrive at House Deneith and I see one of the twin sisters, Lalia d'Deneith. She is surprised to see us in the condition that we are in, but I think she is surprised that we even made it back alive. We tell her of our encounters and she takes the prisoner and dead War Forged body. She informs us that there may be a continuation to this mission if need be, and that she will send us word and payment to the inn. She also informed us that she will speak with the town guard so they will give us more leeway and respect since we can be more trusted. I thank her for her help and trust then we part ways.

    Heading back to the inn I think of some of the things that must be done. First we may need to find permenant residence if we plan on staying in this area for long. I think Bodo might do well to stick with us, but he must first learn how to listen. I also want to get this kid off the street - get him some education, dicipline and show him the silver light of the Flame. I think the next thing I must do, maybe the first thing in the morning when I am feeling better, is to head to the church of the Silver Flame and find out why I have been hearing the priest is mistreating Changelings and Shifters in Lower Dura and Callestan.

  6. #6
    Written by Shilsen

    Session 3 - Not So Alone in the Dark
    * Back at the inn, the group finds Bodo (excited about his new leather armor and morningstar) waiting for them. Gareth arranges for Bodo to be allowed to share a room with them. While the other three get a bath and cleaned up, Nameless visits the Esoteric Order and tries to use their facilities, but is told that he needs to be a member of the Order. He then gets Bodo to take him back down to Callestan, where a little greasing of remarkably dirty palms allows him use of a kitchen in a ramshackle inn. There, he cooks the brains and one of the tentacles from the dolgaunt and actually manages to eat a bit without killing himself (watching which does cause Bodo to almost lose his lunch and leave).

    * While Six works on a sculpture of the city, Gareth and Corven revisit the Cathedral of the Cleansing Flame, where Gareth talks to the acolyte Golar and sets up an appointment with the Archierophant. Returning to the inn, they find Nameless back too. Shortly afterwards, a House Orien courier brings them an envelope from House Deneith, which holds a note that reads:

    According to the dolgrim (and we believe this is not a lie), the creatures were brought by the dolgaunt to work for a cult of humans in the Khyber's Gate area. The creature had little other information. We have arranged to have guards placed over the access shaft to prevent anyone entering or leaving. It would be a good idea if you continued into the Cogs through the secret tunnel you discovered and investigated. Once you return, the access shaft will be sealed. Thank you for your efforts in this matter.

    Lalia d'Deneith

    There is also a banknote drawn on the House Kundarak bank for 500 galifars. Gareth sends a message back to Lalia saying that they will continue their investigations the next day. The group heads to the small branch of the bank in the Clifftop district and open accounts for all of themselves, as well as a group account. Afterwards, the group returns to the inn for dinner and packs up for the night (other than Six and his sculpture), but not before Corven uses his artificer abilities to treat Gareth's weakness from a loss of blood to the gibbering mouther.

    * The next day, after a leisurely morning and lunch, Gareth and Corven return to the Cathedral. They spend some time there before their appointment and Gareth detects evil in a passing acolyte and speaks to him. The young man, Kieran, claims to be a member of the Cathedral for the last three years and sounds like a devout follower of the Flame. Gareth especially asks him about the shifters in Lower Dura and learns that there is still a great deal of animosity towards the Silver Flame. There are, however, some shifters in the congregation. After having spoken to Kieran, the two are taken by Golar to meet the Archierophant, Ythana Morr. She turns out to be a tall, serious-looking woman with silvery-gray hair surrounding an unlined face, dressed in ceremonial vestments and full-plate armor even while working at her desk. She asks the pair what they are doing in Sharn, discusses a little bit about the Cathedral's connections with Thrane, mentions the upcoming 700th anniversary of the Silver Flame next year, etc. When asked about the shifters, she acknowledges the existing animosity, putting it down to shortsightedness on the part of the shifters, and also reveals that all of the shifters in their congregation are from more affluent areas of Sharn. She is also interested in the events in the Cogs and asks the pair to keep her acquainted with what they discover, in case the Cathedral can aid in some worthy task, though she does warn that the bowels of Sharn cannot be easily cleansed short of sending in an army. Lastly, she asks both of them if they are willing to work for the greater good of the Flame in Sharn. Corven and Gareth both agree and ask her to let them know if their services are ever needed. She thanks the pair and asks them to return to the Cathedral at any point, saying that there are morning and evening services.

    * Leaving the Cathedral, Corven and Gareth join the others and head down to Callestan, this time leaving a reluctant Bodo behind. They find some men guarding the access shaft discreetly and are informed that they have twenty-four hours to return before they shaft will be sealed. Entering the shaft they find the dead bodies where they left them and head into the secret tunnel, passing the dead mouther's corpse to find a pair of rooms a little distance beyond.

    * The two rooms, which contain little other than crude furniture and a fire-pit, seem to have been abandoned in a hurry. Nameless deciphers (but doesn't bother to translate for the others) some scrawls on the wall and finds that they refer to the daelkyr and a hoped-for conquest of Eberron. There is also a reference to some tunnel leading from light into dark and releasing the darkness. Corven, in the other room, finds a sliding compartment leading to a crawl space that contains a strange-looking sack with bloody smears on it. Investigation reveals that it is actually what remains of a human being who has literally been sucked dry, consisting only of bones and some organs inside the outer skin. While Corven and Gareth are investigating this, Six enters and catches a glimpse (reflected in a mirror on the wall) of an invisible form standing behind Gareth. His warning causes everyone to try to detect the creature in different ways, but all they get are slight indications that they are not alone, including a split second evil trace or a gray shadow whisking by in the mirror. When Corven attempts to examine the mirror, it suddenly turns dead gray and then displays an eye (that instantly expands to fill the entire mirror), before exploding outwards. After the cut and bleeding Corven is healed, he infuses a see invisibility spell and uses it to discover that the two rooms are filled from top to bottom with invisible (perhaps ethereal) webs that exist on another dimension, since they do not physically affect the group.

    * Leaving the rooms, the group continues into a tunnel on the far side. Traveling for a while as the tunnel winds deeper and lower, they come to an area where small holes pierce the tunnel on various sides. They hear sounds of footsteps ahead but see no sign of anything. Eventually, as they continue, a patch of darkness emerges from a hole, with a strange-looking creature in the center, which Nameless identifies as a rare species called the orred. It is about three feet tall, pale gray in color and roughly humanoid-shaped, with two short and flabby-looking arms and legs, but without a head. Instead, it has two bulbous eyes and a round, lipless mouth surrounded by five greenish spikes protruding from its abdomen. Longer, bony spikes cover its body, especially its arms. The creature attacks by shooting one of the green spikes, which hits Six and instantly turns into a poisonous liquid, which he is of course immune to. While the group focuses on it, another orred attacks from the rear, unleashing a cacophony of sound from its mouth that hurts everyone and stuns Nameless. During the ensuing fight, the group manages to kill the first one, but not before they have all been further wounded with another blast of sound, a stunned Nameless has been shot and knocked unconscious, and Corven has been poisoned and weakened by one of the flying spines. The second orred flees into a hole.

    * Continuing onwards, the group passes an area where the tunnel splits into three. The tunnel they are in finally ends above another one that crosses theirs at right angles. Climbing down, they head along the tunnel & eventually stop at a large door. While Six is checking the door, he hears heavy footsteps on the other side and the door opens to reveal a large, elderly ogre. It seems quite surprised and asks them not to hurt it. Beyond it, they can see a street of some kind and hear voices - in various languages - nearby, including some raised in argument. The ogre, who says he is Urka, reveals that they have reached Khyber's Gate and says that he has seen no sign of the creatures they describe. While the discussion is going on and as Nameless suggest they leave, the ogre looks down the street and quickly backs away, revealing more of the street, which has a few buildings and shops on it, and various races nearby, such as an elven cobbler and a couple of goblins. The ogre is replaced by a pair of well-armed gnolls. They ask what the group wants and though the adventurers try to leave, they attack. The two gnolls are joined by three more, two of whom are archers. During the fight Corven, as now seems to be the usual, has a hard time getting his scorching ray wand to work* and gets Nameless to use it more successfully after the latter has summoned a celestial wolf to trip the leader and cast his requisite web to snare some gnolls. Corven does, however, manage to infuse a spell in time to keep Gareth (who takes a serious blow from the gnoll leader's ranseur to start the fight) on his feet longer and stop him from bleeding to death when the paladin is eventually cut down, and also enchants Six's chain - while he is actually using it - so that he can do massive damage** to the gnolls. During the fight, they also hear the sounds of more fighting nearby.

    * After the gnolls are dead, while the others revive Gareth and check the bodies, Six discovers that the fight nearby was between a sixth gnoll and a wererat (who just killed it). Six makes sure Gareth stays in the tunnel till the lycanthrope transforms back into a human. He says he is called Daim and thanks Six for their help, saying that the gnolls were bothering him when they arrived and provided a distraction. Daim also mentions that the gnolls belonged to the Daask gang and that there will be serious trouble soon. Hearing voices raised in alarm in the distance, including a couple that sound like they come from large creatures, and seeing goblins and others watching from the shadows where they retreated from the fight, the adventurers grab whatever they can from the bodies and retreat into the tunnel.

    * rolled worse than a 5 on at least 4 occasions
    ** bane enchantment + two criticals = ouch!

  7. #7
    Gallant (Lvl 3)

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    Well, I finally finished reading the story hour (I told myself I wouldn't post until I was done)- but well done Shilsen!!

    I've really enjoyed reading the write-ups and watching the continuing adventures of the Angels as they find themselves in strange situation after strange situation.

    Printed off installments of this story hour are at least 85% responsible for the keeping of my sanity in my Hebrew class!

    Now comes the sad day when I have to wait for the installments as they come weekly... like everyone else... ::sniffs::

    Awesome Job- you've basically sold me on trying Eberron as a setting in the next game I DM, and I've gotten plenty of ideas (from your setting and player's actions alike) to use in future campaigns.

    Keep it up!


  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Vorput
    Well, I finally finished reading the story hour (I told myself I wouldn't post until I was done)- but well done Shilsen!!

    I've really enjoyed reading the write-ups and watching the continuing adventures of the Angels as they find themselves in strange situation after strange situation.

    Printed off installments of this story hour are at least 85% responsible for the keeping of my sanity in my Hebrew class!

    Now comes the sad day when I have to wait for the installments as they come weekly... like everyone else... ::sniffs::

    Awesome Job- you've basically sold me on trying Eberron as a setting in the next game I DM, and I've gotten plenty of ideas (from your setting and player's actions alike) to use in future campaigns.

    Keep it up!

    Glad you're enjoying it. Shil should have another update in the next couple of days. There's been a fair amount of banter with the Night Hag.

    If you're looking for another good read, you might want to try the Chronicles of Burne and Some Others of Lesser Importance. That's the tuesday campaign Shil and I are in. It's funnier and has a higher pun quotient, though it's not quite as dramatic as Shil's campaign. There's a link in my sig above.
    Last edited by Rackhir; Wednesday, 22nd November, 2006 at 12:08 AM.

  9. #9
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vorput
    Well, I finally finished reading the story hour (I told myself I wouldn't post until I was done)- but well done Shilsen!!

    I've really enjoyed reading the write-ups and watching the continuing adventures of the Angels as they find themselves in strange situation after strange situation.

    Printed off installments of this story hour are at least 85% responsible for the keeping of my sanity in my Hebrew class!
    Thanks. I couldn't have done it without the fairly insane combination of players I have.

    And that's the first time anybody's ever mentioned that I protected them from Hebrew class

    Now comes the sad day when I have to wait for the installments as they come weekly... like everyone else... ::sniffs::
    Sadly, we're not playing till the weekend of the 2nd/3rd December, but I should have one more up in a couple of days. Things are rapidly coming to a head with the Angels and the rakshasas.

    Awesome Job- you've basically sold me on trying Eberron as a setting in the next game I DM, and I've gotten plenty of ideas (from your setting and player's actions alike) to use in future campaigns.

    Keep it up!

    Thanks again. I think it's fairly obvious that I really like the setting (at least partly because it has many built-in preconceptions and tropes that I was always fond of using), so I'm glad I might get someone else to try and enjoy it.

  10. #10
    Cutpurse (Lvl 5)

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    Handled between sessions:

    Once it’s clear that the rest of the tower is not about to fall, the Angels stop to rest and heal up as much as possible. Despite the healing, everyone besides Six bears the marks of their encounter with the vampire guardian, and there is nothing at hand to be able to deal with it. They also take the time for Nameless to study the magical auras of the items that they recovered. He is fairly certain of most of them, but two are difficult to determine, namely one ring and the belt.

    Luna immediately offers to try both on. The ring provides no signs of its nature, but the belt, after experimentation, appears to have the same effect as the greater magic fang spell she likes to use. Interestingly, when she wears it and wildshapes, the belt remains active and changes to look like a dark strip of hair (or feathers, as a bird) encircling her midriff. Luna’s great pleasure at the discovery is slightly lessened when Gareth points out that it draws attention to her middle and makes her look fat.

    Nameless, meanwhile, also studies the amulet, without actually touching it physically. He finds that it has strong auras of abjuration, conjuration and transmutation, but can make out nothing else about it.

    Once all of this is done, the Angels head back towards Rotting Blade. The return trip takes longer than it should, since they have to detour around half a dozen creatures, which are currently feasting on the bodies of the three giant lizards the slew on the way. These look like large predatory cats in general shape, but have reddish scales and a row of foot-long spines growing down the middle of their backs, as well as an extra set of legs. Considering their condition, the Angels decide to swing wide around them, rather than risk another unnecessary battle, and manage to do so successfully.

    It is late afternoon by the time they reach Rotting Blade. Though night falls early in the Demon Wastes, it seems to be doing so much faster this day, with the sky seeming darker than it should be when they near the village. Or perhaps it is just a particularly thick pall of smoke from the many volcanoes and flame pits of the area.

    When they enter the village, the people again say nothing to them, though the Angels notice more of them are watching covertly. Gareth picks up a fair amount of curiosity in the minds he passes, as they return to the central tavern. Once there, they find Siyal waiting in human form, who quickly leads them through the back room, down to the cellar, and to the room where they had met Vraria.

    Vraria is there, talking to Uthcheq, who is still in his orc form. He moves away and takes a position opposite Siyal and beside the door, taking on his true form (as Siyal already has). Vraria, also in her true form as a night hag, looks at the Angels with gleaming eyes. But as she looks around, noting that all of them are there, disappointment grows clearly in her eyes.

    “So,” she says, “Since you are all here, I presume that means you did not encounter the guardian?” Hopefully, she adds, “Or did you?”

    Nameless replies, “Ah – that information will cost you extra. There are a number of things you might be interested in knowing about that tower. But we can discuss that, once we have satisfied ourselves as to the quality of the information you have promised us.”

    Vraria frowns slightly but then smoothes her countenance. “Maybe. But more importantly, do you have the amulet? And if so....”

    She extends a hand.

    Nameless shows her the amulet, make sure she gets a good look at it, and then drops it back into the bag of holding.

    ”I don’t wish to be rude, but we have just faced down a most ‘interesting’ guardian to retrieve this on your behalf and we do need that information. Before you raise the obvious objection, we WILL live up to our half of the bargain. If for no other reason than that we have no desire to make additional enemies. The ones we have currently are more than sufficient and I am getting very tired of people screwing with us.”

    Nameless pauses to smile broadly. “Besides, I’d never hear the end of it from Korm, if we didn’t live up to our agreement. Do you know that he actually insisted that we negotiate in good faith with a mindflayer? And he’s a Gatekeeper.”

    He ignores the dirty look from Korm and concludes, “So the information first please.”

    Luna pipes in at this point, raising a hand to attract Vraria’s attention. “Hi. Would you happen to have a restoration or something lying around nearby? And feel free to remove this Taint any time.”

    Vraria stares at Luna for a bit and then says, “You are insane. Still, that can be taken care of – and in fact, I can handle that more easily when I have the amulet.”

    She looks past Luna and speaks a few syllables to her servitors. Only Nameless understands, since the language is Fiendish, the command to be, “Watch the wizard. If he, or anybody else, tries to flee with the bag, kill him.” The intent, however, is clear to everyone, as both of the naztharunes step forward quickly, shortswords appearing in their hands, to position themselves behind Nameless.

    As they move, Vraria quickly adds, this time in Common, “Do not be alarmed. There is no danger – as long as you keep your side of the bargain. If you try to leave with that bag, you” (she looks at Nameless) “Will die for sure.”

    Vraria then takes a seat and says, “Here is the information - and I have a little extra for you. Zathara has, for centuries, been interested in the Lake of Fire, or more precisely, in what is bound beneath it. The Lake of Fire is a few miles from here, and though I don’t know who lies beneath it, I know it is one of the greatest of the Rajahs. Whether Zathara wants to awaken him, or it, or simply to leach some of his power, I don’t know. Whatever benefits Zathara most, I presume.”

    “I have worked with him for short periods before, mainly because it benefited me and there was never any fear that he might succeed. I don’t want one of the Rajahs out any more than you, I presume, do. There’s no way to predict the results. I have a very comfortable situation here, and I’d like to keep it that way.”

    “Whatever he found in your lands, I don’t know, but I know Zathara was more excited about it than I’ve ever seen him. He clearly thinks that it’ll help him succeed at whatever he has planned. When he stopped here, that was only to inform me to slay you if you ever showed up.” Vraria looks speculatively around the group, which does quite look the worse for wear now. “For some reason, you have him worried.” She shrugs. “Well, you did defeat the guardian, whatever it was, and I know it has slain rakshasas before, so maybe he has reason.”

    “Anyhow, I know he was going to a lair he has to the north, in order to recover some things and make preparations, before returning here. As soon as you left, I sent Uthcheq here to the volcano. And he returned only minutes before you came. Uthcheq – tell them what you saw.”

    The panther-headed rakshasa speaks, but the blades in his paws, only inches from Nameless’s back, don’t move. “I was watching the Lake of Fire from a distance, and after an hour, I saw three figures appear on the lower slopes to the West. I quickly moved closer and verified that while all three were rakshasas, one was an ak’chazar. It must have been Zathara. He held up a small object, like a rod made of crystal or a large dragonshard, and an amber beam shone from it. A doorway appeared in the side of the volcano and the ak’chazar, and one other, this one carrying the blade that Nethatar wields, entered. The other rakshasa waited by the doorway. As soon as the two entered, there was an explosion.” He looks at Vraria. “I hurried back to tell you. As I was coming, I heard a loud rumbling and the Lake began to spew smoke into the air, and I think I saw a small eruption.”

    As he ends, Vraria says, “And there you have it. They are at the Lake of Fire, where Zathara is trying to achieve whatever he has been seeking to. You must have seen the darkness in the sky when you were arriving. That is the smoke from the Lake. You have no time, so hand over the amulet, let me help you as I can, and leave.”

    There is a moment’s silence as everyone digests what she said, and then Nameless quietly takes the amulet out of the bag and hands it over to her, saying, “Well, it sounds like we are all about to run out of time.”

    As he is doing so, silver flames erupt in a diagonal line down Gareth's back. Luckily for Nameless, the naztharune are very well-trained, and Vraria did tell them to kill him only if someone tried to escape, so the blades at his back move barely an inch closer before they stop.

    “What th...,” begins Vraria, before she recovers to quickly grab the amulet from Nameless's hand. She quickly drops the chain around her neck, letting it dangle on her withered chest, and then completes the original sentence. “What the Hells is that?”

    It is now clear that the flames, which continue to burn, are running up and down the sheathed blade of Kizmet. They do not harm or burn Gareth in any way, but those near him can feel their heat. Gareth, however, notices something extra. For a moment, there is a voice, a harsh, metallic voice, in his head. “The Lake of Fire. You must go to the Lake.” A scene flashes in his mind, the scene from his dream where he holds the Key in one hand and Kizmet in the other. Then both voice and scene fade, and, a few seconds later, so do the flames.

    Silent for a moment, more due to shock than anything else, Gareth smiles happily, his face masked behind his helmet. As the flames die down, he says, “She is correct. We must go to the Lake of Fire. There we will defeat our prey and complete this holy quest.” Silently, the paladin gives a prayer to the Silver Flame, thanking the Flame for its help and guidance.

    Vraria looks a little suspiciously at Gareth, and then settles for a comment of “You need to be careful with that sword. Do that in the wrong place and you’ll be dead before you know it.”

    Then she switches her attention to the amulet. She looks down at it and smiles, before stroking it gently in an almost lascivious manner. “Just to make sure...,” she mutters, and then looks back up. “Would you,” (she points at Nameless) “Please detect magic on me, and you,” (she indicates Gareth) “Detect my thoughts?” Vraria puts her hands on her hips and waits.

    Nameless shrugs and complies, detecting the same magical auras as before on the amulet and also picking up a few magical auras on her. Gareth, meanwhile, picks up the surface thought, “I'm thinking that you very likely are screwed.”

    “So,” Vraria asks, “What did you pick up?” When they answer, she grins toothily, and then places a hand on the amulet. After a few seconds, she says, “Now try it again.”

    This time, there is no effect whatsoever. As far as Nameless’s spell and Gareth’s divine ability are concerned, Vraria might as well not exist. When they explain what happened (or rather, didn’t), she smiles broadly, and says, sounding just a little relieved, “I always did want to experience the joys of a Mind Blank.”

    Vraria sighs contentedly and says, “It is the Amulet I wanted. You have done very well – better than I really expected. Since you have little time, let’s make this quick. What sort of help do you need?” She looks at Luna. "A restoration, you said. And a cure for the Taint. Anything else?”

    “Most of us could use a restoration, except for him.” Nameless jerks a thumb at Six. “Also, if you can speed up our transit to the Lake of Fire, that would seem to be advisable. I lost my teleports when I was drained by the guardian. There’s also a ring we recovered from the guardian. It would be nice to know if it’s useful.”

    Vraria is about to reply to Nameless, when Luna breaks in. “Do me first! I’m already molting and retaining water! I simply can’t also have taint and be energy drained too! It’s unseemly! And I feel all cross and put out! And like I can’t enjoy killing things or even playing with our new magic items in this condition!”

    The night hag smiles thinly at her words. “You people really are a little insane. Hopefully that makes you the right ones to stop Zathara.” The tone of voice betrays a little uncertainty about that.

    ”To that end, I’ll do what I can to make things easier for you. After all,” she adds with a real smile this time, “I might as well try out the limits of my new toy. All those who need healing, hold hands.”

    When they do so, Vraria reaches out and touches Luna’s shoulder. Luna feels a warmth flow in from her hand and spread instantly through her body. The next person feels the warmth flow in from Luna’s hand and spread through and to the next person. And so on, till everyone feels it. Vraria closes her eyes, raises her other hand to grasp the amulet, and concentrates.

    After a couple of seconds, starting with the last person, the warmth recedes. And as it passes, so does the feeling of weakness that they have had since the battle with the guardian. And even the least lingering traces of the Taint. As Luna feels the last of the warmth drain from her, Vraria staggers, even her purplish-black complexion paling, and almost falls. The two naztharune rakshasas tense, their blades ready to strike if needed, but Vraria gestures quickly. “Stop – I’m fine.”

    She straightens, still looking weak, and again closes a hand around the amulet. She closes her eyes and, after a second, her normal blackish-purple complexion reasserts itself. “Aaah!”

    Reopening her eyes, she says, “That’s as much as I can do for you right now. And I can’t get you to the Lake of Fire any more quickly. It’s almost directly to the northeast. Four miles. You’ll see it easily enough once you get past the second set of hills in that direction. With what’s going on in the sky, I don’t think you can miss it. The door’s easy enough to see. To the southwest – right, Uthcheq?" The naztharune nods silently.

    “There you are. As for that ring you mentioned...,” Vraria stops and walks over to a cabinet and produces an ornately carved chest. She opens it and after rummaging inside for a bit, pulls out a scroll and tosses it to Nameless. “That should do it, but you’ll have to use the spell.”

    “And now, I suggest you leave. Quickly.” Vraria pauses and looks around at all of the Angels, clearly weighing their potential. “And, paladin or not, I suggest you all pray.”

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