Adventures in Eberron> Chapter 32 posted 08-08-05>


First Post
Eberron action, Pulp Story Plot.

Sundown at the Gorgon's Eye, Chapter 1

The Gorgon's Eye is the rattiest hole that ever blighted the depths of Sharn. The barkeep has red eyes, the wenches are scabby, and the bouncer has been to the dungeons twice; accused of cannibalism. You can visit everyday for a year and there isn't anyone who will recognize you. Amazingly, the ale is quite decent and if you order the stew , chances are good that it will stay in your belly. It is a fine place for when you want to get away to have a private conversation or a good game of chance. A savvy chap can meet loads of interesting mercenaries and adventurers here. It's been said that one can meet less savory types here as well, to purchase services and information best left to the imagination. Its a bad idea to ask the bouncer about this, but the barkeep won't mind if your coin is the right weight. Whatever your business, there are several cozy booths available for rental by the hour. The basement provides for lager meetings as well as a more discrete entrance. If you pay the bouncer, he will eat anyone who tries to interrupt. Don't ever cheat at cards, if you want to leave this place alive.

“I will have the Black Earth Mror Stout and three bowls of stew; piping hot and one at a time,” Thersyl ordered without even looking up from his parchment.

The orc-blooded wench sucked her teeth at him and spat on the floor before snatching up the coins and the token hidden among them. Thersyl decided to add a paragraph about the wenches being more dangerous than the bouncer. He's been publishing an underground pamphlet for years. The Sharn Anonymous stokes more and more controversy each time it hits the streets. The little rag sheet is the most fun he's had in decades. Some of his closest friends would kill to know who's been publishing the city's best-kept secrets. Some of his best enemies would pay to let him continue.

“You are early.” A man said as he tried to grab a seat.

“Have we been introduced?” Thersyl asked, raising an eyebrow as the bouncer stalked towards his visitor. He was dressed as a commoner, but he wore an expensive cologne and there are ring marks on his fingers. His hair has also been washed recently. That man is no commoner; City Watch, Guild, the Houses? Either way he might be trouble.

The hideously scarred bug-bear did not wait for the man to answer. The sap kissed the back of the man's head, and a moment later it was as if the fool was never there. The bouncer, Long-tooth, is getting a paragraph in the next rag sheet. That was fine work.
A mousy looking gnome strolled up to the barkeep and tapped the bar with a Token*. The barkeep waited until a few coins joined the token and then motioned towards Thersyl's booth. The bouncer and more than a few maids eyed the gnome until he found a seat. If the gnome hadn't produced the call sign he would have joined the previous visitor in an alleyway's garbage pile.

“So, you require a Private Inquisitive,” he spoke in a low but pleasant voice, “I will have to warn you, though, don't ever send another clown to meet me like that, it makes a bad impression.” (It's a rough guess, the gnome probably didn't know he hired a plant.)

The gnome cringed. He should know better than to let his face show his thoughts. Thersyl added a small percentage to his fee out of general principles and continued to add coin for every lie there after. Working for he Guilds is a hassle, the paranoia is an ever present companion in their business. Thersyl forgives them as long as they can pay. He smiled at the gnome, but the smile never met his cool green eyes. The gnome gulped and started to talk.

“My wife has been kidnapped, they w-w-want a manuscript from the Guild Library. I need to find them before the Guild does,” the gnome sputtered, “they don't care about my wife, she is not from an influential family. I m-married her before my family could object, I am a 6th son from a family more concerned with politics than feelings. We have children, I am desperate. I don't have much gold, but I can pay with information, valuable information.” (Gods, he's blubbering!)

“How did you find me and how did you get your Token?” Thersyl asked before the gnome could go any further. “I do not kill as freely as your Guild, but my prices are dear nevertheless.” (The basic tough guy act. This is not the standard Guild gnome I was expecting, I need to know more.)

“There is a file,” the gnome said nearly choking, “on dragons that live secretly in the cities...we can't track the dragons, it would be too dangerous, but they have agents...,” the gnome changed colors, “...we have tracked people who are connected to dragons as agents or facilitators,” the gnome took a breath as if he were in a lot of pain, “ met with one suspected dragon 32 years ago, and six times again during the were paid with a works as your bodyguard to this day...” (I am dead. This gnome is dead too. If I am lucky I won't notice the assassin before the lights go out.)

“You will provide me with a copy of the ransom manuscript,” Thersyl cut him off with a raised hand, “further, I will require a copy of the file you mentioned and lastly, if you want to live to die of old age with your wife, you will have to forget ever speaking to me about this. I need to inform my bodyguard of a change in plans. When I return, you will have an answer for me, yes?” (I can't believe I am doing this. I am too young to die. )

The gnome didn't even nod. He had his hand over his heart, like he had just faced down a lightning rail. Thersyl noted a wisp of smoke rising from his ears, mouth and nose though he was still obviously alive. Death Magic. Guild Oaths*** can kill a man. This one managed to break one on the fly. Maybe he isn't too much of an amateur. Thersyl is still going to charge him for the consultation, but the information he is offering will cover the rest. His bodyguard is going to earn his keep this week if he is dealing with a Guild. Thersyl walked past the bar and paused long enough to allow the war-forged to read the signs he was making with his hands. Watch for Danger, Guilds, House Retainers, Changelings and anybody else. He ordered cheap grog, signaling the barkeep to prepare for a raid and then returned to the table.

“I-I-I will meet your price, but I will have to ac-accompany you.” The gnome struggled to speak. “they will know I am missing in a -m-m-matter of hours.”

“You will not join me until tomorrow, the Guild will need to think they still own you until at least then. I will also need a ritual sample from you and your wife.(In case you are playing more than one hand). My bodyguard will require an appointment with your office at the end of the week, make it so. Forget about me until then.” (The appointment is just busy work, his Guild will probably set up an ambush there at any rate.)


“No, you broke your Oath and lived. If you can do such a thing, you can keep silent and sane until tomorrow.” (If we are both still alive, I might explain a few things too.)

They shook hands and they both spoke a small, but powerful word. 500 pieces of gold later, it' s a contract. He will pick up the items later with a third party. The gnome wasn't a total amateur after all. Thersyl strode through a side door and promptly disappeared. His bodyguard was seen going out through the front accompanied by a half-elf matching Thersyl's description while at the same time attempting to look like someone else. Guild agents reported seeing Thersyl at three other places in the City of Sharn. The Inquisitive is worth every bit of gold he has ever gouged from his clients.

*Thersyl is a professional and he does not even think about the names of people or organizations he works for. It leads to bad habits.
**The tokens are magically constructed and can only be carried by Authorized Guild personnel using discrete meeting places secured by secret contracts. Many a tavern owner would kill for such a contract as it provides a hefty stipend and some protection from the Law. Other organizations provide Tokens as well and it is an established practice at many establishments that provide such services.
***The Houses and Guilds secure their employees against temptation with Binding Oaths as they progress towards more sensitive areas of operation. Some of these Oaths will kill or incapacitate an oath-breaker. The practice was developed in the Mror Holds and the gnomes picked it up and put it to use in their own organizations. It is rumored that a modified Warding Spell can pin-point an Oath-breaker as they enter their place of work, but there hasn't been any proof, yet.
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First Post
Big night at the Gorgon, Chapter 2

Big night at the Gorgon, Chapter 2

As Theodyl Vair sprang onto the stage and struck a pose. He started to sing a bawdy tune keeping rhythm with a stylish harp carved like a bow. From his position on stage he could watch both the front and side alley doors. His hands quickened dexterously over the strings, making the previously shaken gnome walk with a renewed spring in his step as he exited. A stolid, humorless Sister of the Silver Flame bumped into him as he crossed the threshold. Her dark brown eyes met Theodyl's for the briefest moment as she went straight to the bar with a token in her impatient hand. The gnome didn't quite lose the spring in his step, but he shivered as he hit the dimly lit, streets deep in the towers of Sharn.

The well-traveled bard put on a boisterous show. After two more nearly obscene favorites, he put on a ventriloquist act with an allegedly enchanted beer stein. The Gorgon's Eye shook with laughter. It has the personality of a drunken, irreverent, very disorderly Legionaire from the Mror Holds. The Orcish barkeep was the first one to ad-lib. The maids added their own commentary as did the majority of the patrons. A respectable dwarf wouldn't be seen in the Gorgon's Eye and so their opinion doesn't count. The blond haired half-elf made a lot of people laugh and sing with that act. Afterwards he juggled random items as he cracked jokes and flirted with the audience. He even managed to get several of the fierce wenches to wink back at his playful green eyes.

After his act Theodyl lay his token at the bar and waited to meet with the unhappy looking Sister. He sauntered up to her booth with thick Black Earth foam dripping from his beer stein. He gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek before taking a seat.

“You take this too far,” She said with a frown. (It's a cover woman, play along!)

“Oh, come now, cousin, enjoy yourself. Sip your tea and watch how the mortals live.” She seethed at this, but she did take a sip. (They always send a stiff.)

“Enough, I am very cross with you. First, you disappear without leave and then you reappear in my district without notice. I have more problems than I need here, I especially don't need your connection with two consecutive irritations on the same day. If you don't tell me what you were doing with that gnome, I will make your life very difficult.” (Theodyl wasn't impressed. She is actually imitating every other bureaucrat he's met in Sharn. They must all share the same tea room.)

“Good Sister, your predecessor lost track of me and didn't bother to look. It only took you a week to find me when you put your mind to it. I move down two or three levels and everyone acts like I've disappeared. I am a Private Inquisitive, my name is in the Registry and my office has been open for years.” (Translation: He was lazy and you are slow.)

“A false name, that of your war-time commander, if I am correct. Your methods are questionable and you associate with known criminals in repulsive taverns.” (Now she wants to preach. She will threaten me eventually.)

“The Inquisition is boring, and the Flame isn't a battering ram you know. The gnome is a client, I am handling a personal transaction for him. His family is in difficult straights. Why do you want him, he's just another naive desk-gnome with a fetish for neat script and ambiguous legal jargon.” (An insult, a carefully edited truth and random nonsense. The art of conversation isn't dead.)

“Your gnome has access to some restricted literature and we want to know where he found it.” She replied angrily. (The insult stung her, and she is giving away more than she should. I will have to keep her from recovering, maybe more insults are in order.)

“Gnomes are boring too. I don't see them reading anything interesting enough to impress me. Besides the Flame restricts children's stories about werewolves with the same zeal they burn books about anatomy. What exactly do you mean by restricted?” (Pointing out hypocrisy is better than insults).

“Do not bait me. I want to know exactly what you two spoke about.”

“Sorry, I have a contract. Besides, he presented a Token, I can't violate Guild rules or the Law. Your wise Council was very particular about that. They extracted an exasperating Oath in exchange for my Charter; I will obey all Laws, Regulations, Statues of Morality...” (Please try again. I've already pointed out that this isn't the Inquisition. Don't they teach Diplomacy at the Temples?)

“Indeed. You had a previous criminal record. You would not be operating in Sharn if I had anything to say about it. I believe that your clever words will not avail you when you slip up. I know how to handle your kind.” (Oh, she's making it easy. That was a threat, she probably doesn't have a good bargaining position. Time to blindside her.)

“Cousin, please, you make me out to be a wanton criminal. You are not the law, you merely serve it. You are here because you want something, what is it?” (I could have summoned up a tear there. Inquisitors love that stuff. I don't want to have to bed her, though; if she likes that sort of power.)

“The gnome is in contact with a group of renegade war-forged from Cyre, I want to know where they are. I will also need to know why they contacted him in the first place.” (Thank you very much.)

“He did mention having to meet a pushy war-forged courier at he end of the week. The war-forged is 3 days early for his usual pick-up. It's not very regular.” (As soon as she sees the gnome's appointment calendar she'll be sold. She will probably think herself an expert negotiator after this.)

“What is it's name and where did it come from?” She demanded. Her gloved hand brushed a fancy brooch with her palm. Theodyl recognized a devine symbol for truth embellishing the item and quickly changed his tack. At first, he merely wanted to distract her while he drew out her motives. Now he has to be careful. (Magic for dummies, will they never learn?)

“I didn't ask, but its just some document transfer, a manuscript from Cyre that they need copied.” Her expression didn't change, but her eyes grew wide. (Technically the truth. She doesn't care about the gnome or the war-forged, she wants the manuscript.)

“I want that copy and I also want this courier followed.” She ordered with a confident smirk. (Predictable, time to shake her again.)

“You will have to deal with the Guild for that, I can't break the law. As for the War-forged, I will need a 500gp deposit and a flat fee of 1, 000gp upon delivery.” Theodyl watched her lips tighten. (She wasn't expecting to pay. Ha!)

“You are being very difficult.” (She blinked, she will try a threat next.)

“Would you like to release me from my Oaths? The Guilds and the City conspire against you. It would be much easier otherwise.” Theodyl spoke the words smoothly, though he didn't expect her to fall for it. (She is arrogant, not stupid.)

“Now you mock me. A 1,000gp fee is excessive, and you don't need a deposit.” (Now she wants to bargain, clumsy, but maybe she is learning.)

“Take it or leave it, cousin. I do not run errands and I don't play at business. This is how I make a living. My rates and fees are perfectly within Guild Regulations, would you see me starve?”

“I would see you in a dungeon for your heresies.” (No, she hasn't learned a thing, very boring. Time to close and teach her all about threats.)

“You can't serve two masters and worry overmuch about heresy, cousin.”

Her mouth opened, nothing came out. She licked her lips. Her mouth closed again. He had spoken the absolute truth and her silly amulet had confirmed it. She had nothing more to say. The Sister of the Silver Flame all but slammed the money purse upon the table. He took her to the point of violence and she will not forgive easily. She's a sore loser. If she had a chance, she would have drawn that wicked looking mace on her belt. He put out his hand and they shook on it. Theodyl hadn't been expecting so much to come from a meeting with a gnome.

“Ye didn't have to tease her so much,” the dwarven face on the beer stein spoke, “a beardless woman has enough trouble. I think ye should bed her Lad, take my advice, I know about these things.”

Theodyl laughed. He pictured the Sister with fuzzy sideburns, like a dwarfish maid. The dwarf was right, but he couldn't help trying to ease out some of that hot air the Sister seems to carry around. Besides, he couldn't bed someone that serious, it wouldn't be any fun. He signaled the barkeep, Trouble, and left a neat stack of gold coins on the table.

When the City Watch crashed through the front, he was already jogging through the sewers. The Trace Coin the Sister secreted within her purse was tucked neatly within the padded seat at the booth, so they will have to track him through other means. He has a contract with the Sister. He will honor it, but just on general principles. Collecting will be a problem to deal with later. That will probably lead to an ambush, but not before she uses him to track the manuscript she wants. Its a bargaining point, maybe.

His office might be watched or even raided. That will not be a problem. The Inquisitive named Thersyl was a throw-away cover to begin with. He's been paying a local band of changelings to wear his face and occupy it to make it seem like he works there. They even travel around with his bodyguard to lead the curious away. His war-forged bodyguard only knows where to meet him and where to get his salary. They will have a hard time trying to crack that war-forged maniac. They would have to catch it first and to do that they would have to beat it senseless or even kill it. The Bard named Theodyl Vair is different. He likes that life, it is fun and interesting. He will try to keep it, if at all possible.

“Quit yer dreaming' Lad, we are in the darkness below. Do ye want to live to grow a beard?” the beer stein spoke in a serious whisper.

Theodyl sighed and patted the beer stein hanging from his belt. The dwarven spirit inhabiting the item won't give his name. They have only known one another for 15 years or so. That isn't enough time to know a fellow, by dwarven terms. He talks about everything else though, and he makes an excellent look-out. A long filthy-gray tentacle snapped out from a large storm drain. Theodyl danced around it and left it a little gift as he continued on without slowing down. The alchemist's acid kept the garbage beast busy while he ran. Anyone following would run into a now, very angry critter. The beer stein chuckled.
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First Post
►Running Errands Through Sharn, Chapter 3

“Soldier, I am Paragon 146 to 3, formerly of the Cyre's 1st Regiment Longstriders, you may call me Paragon or 146 to 3. Say clank, or shell-head one more time, and I will endeavor to teach you a very efficient method of turning a man inside-out.”

The guards at the check point stiffened at the threat. War-forged may be free, but not every one of them is so finicky about names. The steady near monotone delivery sent chills down their spines. The guards were so intimidated by the irate war-forged that they did not pay any attention to his hooded and cowled companion.

“Wot's dis now? I told ye bean sprouts to watch out for a bloody elf blooded Inquisitive that's pissed off the Flamers, not to harass every citizen that crosses yer path!” Hollered an old soldier with skin like worn leather. He glared at the two guards and then at the war-forged and his companion. “Well, state yer business, I don't got all night!”

“Sir! Paragon 146 to 3, Cyre's 1st Regiment Longstriders, Decommissioned, it is a pleasure to meet a fellow veteran. I am currently under contract to escort this human female civilian to her abode. I cannot discuss her personal information, but I have a letter of passage provided by House Cannith.” The officer made a face like a bad smell had just wafted his way. Paragon didn't notice. "I recognize your tabard, sir, the Dog Soldier's are a credit to the City of Sharn. I salute you.” The war-forged clicked his heels at attention and beat his heavy fist against his chest three times. He is saddened that he can no longer give a proper military salute, but he can honor him, one soldier to another.

"146 to 3? Is dat yer service number?" the officer asked.

"No sir! It is my score; 146 confirmed kills, 2 failures, and 1 death." The war-forged replied enthusiastically. People rarely ask for his score.

“Sgt. Mogrin Ironson, formerly Sharn Expeditionary,” the veteran saluted, suddenly re-assessing the situation, “I am pleased to meet you son, I heard only an handful of you Longstriders survived Karrnath. I am sorry to detain you, I only need to speak to yer companion and ye can go about yer business.” Only a war-forged would be so non-chalant about being a killer.

“I would prefer not to speak my name sergeant,” the hooded lady spoke with a smooth, refined voice, “my escort has provided you with a letter of passage has he not?” As she said this, she allowed the sergeant to see her face and she extended her hand out to him. He smiled with a wolfish glint in his eyes. On her finger, a signet ring glimmered in the lantern lights.

“Of course, good Lady,” the sergeant said. He kissed the ring, bowing stiffly as she placed a purse in his callused hand. “I would be honored to send one of the lads to light yer way as far as the next check point.” he announced, “None shall impede yer passage.” Behind him, the obviously green recruits couldn't decide whether or not more work for them was a good thing. The sergeant pocketed the purse, staring at the recruits until one of them flinched.

The Lady smiled like an angel as she followed the gawky soldier and his bobbing lantern. She winked at him whenever she caught him looking back. The poor boy was so flustered he couldn't walk straight. Scandalous rumors about young nobles amusing themselves in the rough parts of town are all the rage in Sharn. The local clerics are campaigning to save the morals of the city's youth. No doubt the soldier is making more than a big assumption about this late night escort. The Lady is playing him like a harp. Paragon did his part by following close behind and looking absolutely dangerous. As they came within sight of the next checkpoint , the Lady suddenly pulled the soldier into an alley. The war-forged stood guard.

She pressed him against the wall and kissed him. Her mouth tasted like hot mint tea. He inhaled a subtle, rosy perfume that made his heart beat faster. Her lips are soft and smooth just like the racy romance novels traded in the barracks. His arms wrapped around her waist and placed his trembling hands on her back, beneath her luxurious cloak. He returned the kiss, just how his Paw had told him the day he'd sought advice about courting a lass. He felt like he was flying.

A moment later, they were back on the road. He stood much straighter now. His brand new, Sharn issue, square-toed, black leather boots tapped smartly on the cobble stones. The guards making their own assumptions, made wolf calls and waved. The Sergeant told him to wipe his face and made him wait standing nervously at attention. Paragon 146 to 3 stated his business, repeating exactly what he told Sergeant Ironson. The Lady stood improperly close to the blushing soldier. Her fingers brushed his.

The grinning officer clicked his heels. He waved them by without even looking at their letter of passage. As they departed he dismissed the young soldier. The guards sent him off with friendly jibes and a new nickname, Sweet Lips. No doubt the young man has earned a reputation with his fellows. Half an hour later, after a calculated series twists and turns, the Paragon and his companion disappeared into the well-lit streets of the affluent neighborhoods of Sharn.

“So where didya get the Cannith ring?” Asked the changeling as she, now a he, shed the woman's cloak and rearranged his costume.

“I retrieved it from my maker, he died in Cyre,” The war-forged answered almost reverently, “The Mournlands were very difficult. It took me a year to find him and give him a proper burial. When I find who did it, I intend to...”

“Oh, that's alright!” Gasped the changeling as he nearly threw the ring back. “Too much information, Paragon.” He said, trying not to offend his escort.

“Sorry, but you did ask.” said the war-forged as he tucked the precious heirloom away.

The changeling, a young lad named Pook, took only a few moments to look just like the Inquisitive Thersyl. He's been impersonating the half-elf for weeks. Now that the Watch and the Silver Flame are after him, it's starting to get scary. Paragon, however, is keeping him on point. Truthfully he is scared, but he is also excited. If he pulls this off, he is going to hit the big time. No more street games and small cons. The others are running around the city being seen wearing the same face. If they can do it, so can he. The gang likes gold, but they like living better.

Paragon slipped into the nearest shadow and slowly faded from view. He watched the crazy young changeling walk into the Sharn City Watch Building no. 462. He is going to turn himself in wearing Thersyl's face.

Pook is an prodigious mimic. He can imitate anyone he has been able to observe for a reasonable amount of time. He's been following Thersyl around for over a year, he is starting to think he is Thersyl. The rest of his gang, Ivor, Patter, and Siff are keeping Thersyl and Theodyl's other appointments throughout the night. The Officer of the Watch has agreed to place him in a deep, quiet cell and take his time with the paperwork. A young and very forward noble woman had asked him for a favor the previous morning; sensitive Cannith business, she had said. He thought of roses as he lit the lantern and walked towards his window.

Paragon waited for the lamp in the Captain's window to flash twice and then skulked off. He has to check on all his other agents and then he has to meet with the real Theodyl. He is playing games on multiple fronts. Flesh people simply can't measure risks intelligently. He worries for his closest friend and Regimental Brother.

Master Sergeant Hinderfast of the Longstriders used to say that stupidity can be cured through proper military training. Paragon 146 to 3 is confident that he can help Theodyl. The Cannith Forges made him a soldier, but the Cyre 1st made him a man. He laughed, sending a cat scurrying for cover. He thought of the beat of marching drums, the sounding or trumpets and the deep resounding cadence of marching feet. Paragon 146 to 3 is still with his fellow Longstriders even if death, time and distance separate them. Sometimes he can feel them as if they were still marching together. The war-forged hummed a lovely marching tune as he broke into a quick jog and continued on with his errands.
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First Post
Blood in the Sewers, Chapter 4

The network of service, sewer, drainage, water tunnels that honeycomb the City of Sharn are a wonder. It is doubtful that any one person can know them all. Theodyl started out by looking for private paths, bolt holes, and escape routes. A well prepared man can travel most of Sharn unseen by any but the sewer rats. His research lead him to mapping out various networks. The city keeps records and maps up to a point, only the oft used tunnels and sewers remain. Various archives held more, much more useful information. The best knowledge came from the skulks and darklings who actually live in the dark corners of the city. There are entire communities of folk who have dropped out of Sharn proper and taken residence in the various spaces below. Of course, there are monsters too. Not dangerous people, but real monsters, abominations and the aberrations that serve them. A city map can tell you were to go, but a mangy goblin tunnel boy can tell you where not to get eaten.

“Yer daydreamin' again Lad,” the beer stein whispered, “there be trouble ahead as sure as my pappy had a beard.” The dwarven spirit has an uncanny nose for trouble.

Theodyl skulked ahead. As he moved, he gripped his harp with one hand and methodically checked and re-checked his weapons, leathers, and various other items with the other. An odd hissing and scraping caught his attention. He followed the sound to a barrel vault intersection. There are signs of battle. There is blood on the stone paved floor and there are crossbow bolts scattered about. The blood is fresh, and there are more droplets leading towards the left tunnel. Theodyl summoned his favored My-light spell. A pale violet globe of light formed just in front of him and moved ahead ten paces. Only he can see it or its light, it is perfect for this situation.

The blood trail led to a crumpled goblin wearing a battered iron cap. A cross bow lays broken next to him. He is dead, torn up badly, but there is no blood. Theodyl examined the wounds carefully. The pattern and shape caught his eye, but he couldn't quite identify the creature. He could hear noise and someone cursing not far off. Still, he wants to know what he will be facing.

“'tis from a Death Kiss Lad,” the beer stein said, recognizing the wounds, “a beholder thing that drinks blood. They be sneakier than eye-tyrants. The can shock ye like an eel too, it is best to kill'em from from a distance. Do not shame me and let it live.”

The emotion in the spirit's voice convinced Theodyl. He has no love for the monsters that hunt below. He checked his gear one last time and sprinted towards the end of the tunnel.

Theodyl drew an arrow from his quiver and knocked it on his harp. The bow shape isn't just for looks. He sighted the creature writhing along the ground. It looks like the thing has already seen its share of battle. The goblin could not have done all of that, those are sword slashes. It's bulbous middle floated about a foot high. It is wider than a man is tall and its tentacles are at least three times as long. It seems to bee tasting for a blood trail. There are mouths at the tips of its tentacles. Disgusting. Theodyl held his shot and tried to spot its prey. There is a large storm drain pipe along the side of the tunnel. It might serve as a ledge to a child or a small humanoid. With the Death Kiss so preoccupied with the blood on the ground, it is as good a place as any to hide. Theodyl sent the My-light globe just far enough ahead to confirm his notion. A shape hidden in the shadows gave him the answer he needed.

“Careful Lad, they be cunning. It will double back soon.” the beer stein warned as the Death Kiss suddenly rose up and spun about in the air.

The figure hiding on the ledge yelped loudly, the Death Kiss flung a long probing tentacle at the noise. Theodyl let fly his arrow with a musical twang. The alchemically treated arrow pierced the offending tentacle and flashed into flame. The Death Kiss turned towards Theodyl, but he was faster. Three more notes later, three arrows penetrated the rounded, blubbery center mass. Only one of these arrows burst into flame, but is was enough. The two mundane arrows sank deep into its eye. The Death Kiss shuddered, burst into a sudden electrically charged dance, and then finally lay still.

“Excellent kill Lad,” the dwarven spirit cheered, “I couldn't have done it better me self! Yer startin' to make a good impression on me. Don't forget to have a drink, 'tis the only proper way to celebrate.”

Theodyl cursed. The Death Kiss can be dangerous even as it dies. The electrical discharge knocked him on his backside. He worked hard to loosen the stiffness in his muscles. Something else might attack. He took a sip from his canteen and hurried towards whomever was hiding on that ledge. If they are wounded anything like the dead goblin, they need help sooner than later. As Theodyl hurried he saw a young orc-blooded boy fall to the ground and struggle to stand. Theodyl caught him before he collapsed. The Healer's kit he carries has a powdered styptic that will close the bleeding gashes. He also has plenty of bandages. If anything, the war taught him to be prepared.

The kid moaned as he worked on his wounds; though he didn't wake. Theodyl fed him some water and then unwrapped a special treat. The Hero's Vigor, a square confection of magic, chocolate, gold dust, and hot peppers started to melt as soon as it hit the kid's mouth. The young half-orc sprang to his feet and started huffing and puffing while cursing like a sailor. His watering eyes shut tightly beneath heavy brows. His upturned nose, turned red and his nostrils flared. His mouth hung open and he breathed desperately over his tonge. Theodyl handed the kid his canteen and waited for him to recover.

“Why-de-hell-didya-do-to-me-ya-manker-bastard?” The kid asked finally. He spoke so quickly, that he ran out of breath.

“I saved your life,” Theodyl answered, “can you tell me what happened?”

“Ye-gots-coin?” He asked just as quickly.

Theodyl smiled at the kid. Even with all those bandages he is still pretty rambunctious. He snapped his fingers and a silver piece appeared in his hand. He deftly made the gleaming coin dance in between his fingers while the young half-orc licked his lips. He wiggled his fingers and the coin disappeared. He snapped his fingers again and four silver pieces suddenly appeared in between his fingers.

“How-you-do-them-tricks?-Givme-I-want'em!” The kid reached out to the coins.

“Now, now, I am paying for a story.” Theodyl said smoothly. “I will pay for information. Is it a deal?”

The kid pursed his lips and wrinkled his brow. He shifted his stance wiping his flat nose with the back of his palm. Clearly the boy is versed in proper street etiquette. He sighed, perhaps imitating some adult in his life, and put out his hand. Theodyl shook on it.

The words burst out of his mouth, pouring over his very noticeable protruding jaw. Theodyl listened intently while he tried to recover his arrows. Two of the projectiles were just fine. The flaming arrows were all but gone except for their iron tips. He had to dig into the disgusting creature's body for those. While he was at it, he also collected a sample of the beast and filled a glass container with some of its blood. He knows he read something about the blood of a Death Kiss somewhere. It might come in handy.

The kid continued speaking as he worked. Theodyl sensed that his manic energy wasn't just a side effect of the candy. He can also feel the kid watching his every movement. He tried to pick out details as the boy rambled through his story. He will have the boy tell the story more than once and he will then question him further on those points he feels are pertinent. When the boy finally finished he stopped so abruptly, Theodyl was startled.

“Knobby's-dead-isn't-he?” He blurted.

“Yeah, kid...he's down that way. He fought hard, I can tell.”

“My name is Nook!” The boy snapped angrily before he started to cry.

Theodyl hugged the kid. He led him away before anything else tried to eat them. He really isn't used to children, but he remembers the things that always made him feel better when he was that age. Theodyl reached into one of his many pockets and drew out a handful of dried fruit. The kid sniffled and snorted while he ate. Theodyl waited him out. He's starting to think the kid is approaching the age of ten. That's when orcish types experience the explosive growth that makes them such a terror in their youth. A kid that age shouldn't have to experience such horrors. Theodyl was about to ask the boy where he lives when a rhythmic tapping got their attention.

Nook scrambled to his feet and put his ear to one of the pipes. He drew a rock from his belt and tapped on the pipe. The tapping stopped and resumed in a new pattern in response to Nook. The boy tapped out a long series of patterns furrowing his brow in concentration. When he was done he looked around in a panic.

“There's-lots-of-troubles-in-the-tunnels,” he said breathlessly, “gotta-go-now.”

That said, Nook took off like a race horse. The boy definitely has some orc in him. Theodyl struggled to keep up, after a while he couldn't even keep track of the paths they were taking. Nook kept looking back at him and laughing. It reminded him of his first year in the scouts. He was always the last to the chow line. Theodyl felt tempted to cheat, but he is too careful of his magic. He decided that he can't compete with a 10 year old kid born and raised in a dark maze of tunnels. He will simply have to take out his frustrations on the next thing he has to kill.

Nook vanished around a blind corner and was instantly replaced by the largest, ugliest rat he's ever seen. The thing hissed and spat at him, gouging the stone floor with it's claws. The floor sizzled where ever its saliva landed. Theodyl watched and tried to think of a way to kill it without getting bitten.

“Hahahaha!” Nook laughed at Theodyl, “meet-Nana's-rat-Spikey! Don't-worry-she-won't-let-it-bite-you. Come-on-come-on-Nana-wants-to-meet-you!”

“Spikey, huh?” Theodyl mumbled as he waited for Nana's beast to try and eat him.

Nana turned out to be a slightly stooped orc woman with a lazy eye. She lives in a well appointed pump room stocked with a large black cauldron and strange smelling things hanging from the walls. The Horrid Rat named Spikey is her familiar, she is an Adept. She seems very loving and patient with Nook, however, she looks at Theodyl like something to be scraped off the bottom of her sandals. Her opinion didn't change as Nook did his best to tell her about everything that's happened in the last hour. When the boy was done the only one making noise was the rat.

“Ye owes mah boy four silvers.” Nana finally spoke, “I owes ye for mah boy's life, name yer price.” Her terse delivery hit Theodyl like a bucket of cold water. (She's obviously not a conversationalist.)

“The silver is under his belt, he's a fine boy.” Theodyl spoke carefully, “As for my price, I am ashamed to admit that I need help.” Nook cheered happily at the coins that suddenly appeared cool and gleaming in his pants.

“What you need? Nana is wise, too wise for flattery.” (Great, she doesn't like me.)

“I hunt a group of war-forged, they have kidnapped a gnomish woman from the City. I don't know where they could be, but they are secretive, they hate people and they smell of blood and death. I assume they came through the underground because no one has spotted them on the city streets.”

“You be more trouble than I thought.” Nana said as she sent Nook out of the chamber. (What the hell does that mean?)

The Adept gave Theodyl directions to a series of pumping chambers deep below the city. A tribe of goblins specializing in smuggling and other tomfoolery has taken possession of the area. The recent troubles with creatures such as the Death Kiss have been attributed to them. Their actions may be displacing the beasts and sending them scurrying to other more populated places. Runners sent to deal with them have not returned and there are rumors of a noisy group of bruisers with glowing eyes patrolling the lower depths. Theodyl gave proper thanks to the Adept and gifted her a well used Wand of Prestidigitation for her patience. Nana frowned at him, but her eyes gleamed as she held it in her hands.

“Debt be paid. You go now.” She said. The rat literally chased him out and down the tunnel.
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First Post
A meeting at the docks, Chapter 5

►A meeting at the Docks, Chapter 5

Paragon 146 to 3 made it to the docks in under an hour. His errands took longer than he expected. He met with various contacts and checked with the local know-it-alls in all the right places. There are new problems with dangerous creatures creeping up from below. Two days past, a war-forged beat the daylights out of a Watch Patrol in the lower districts before disappearing. The problem started when one of the war-forged watchmen took exception to being called a human-loving traitor. A routine maintenance crew was driven out of one of the utility tunnels by a cloaked band of war-forged the same night. Paragon 146 to 3 is convinced he has found the kidnappers out. Theodyl will be pleased.

<Paragon, I have news, meet me soonest. Dockside 432b.> Theodyl's sending rang in his ears.

The docks were his best lead. 432 b is a warehouse. It once belonged to House Cannith, it is currently held by a local trade company. It looks just like every other relic from the war. It is squat, over sized and ugly. The thing that peaked both their interests is the fact that it has a discrete entrance into the sewers. Paragon padded into the warehouse and searched for the tell-tale iron ring sticking out of the floor.

It did not take the war-forged long. He found Theodyl sitting on the floor at the bottom of the steps tuning his bow harp. Paragon refused to listen to him until he could understand how they both got to the same place. It truly frustrated the war-forged that the half-elf had an itemized, step by step explanation all thought out. Sergeant Hinderfast never said anything about fixing recruits who weren't stupid. He is doubly sure that hitting Theodyl over the head wouldn't be completely justified at this moment. Making a recruit stupid and then fixing them sounds suspect. Paragon 146 to 3 decided to wait and see. Sergeant Hinderfast always said to wait and see.

“Alright, but I will watching. You are too impulsive.” Paragon barked. He has to keep Theodyl's feet on the ground.

“Agreed, I guess, I further suggest that you bring in some of the veterans from that little war gaming club of yours. I think we will need them.” Theodyl said with some relief. Sometimes he thinks the hulking war-forged wants to hit him.

The two compared notes and argued about where to go next. They did agree that the war-forged kidnappers had to have some way of making their escape with the manuscript. They also agreed that it would be harder to get the war-forged out of Sharn than the manuscript by itself. They will have to gain control of the manuscript in order to get the gnome's wife and then have something to bargain with against the other interested parties. Fighting war-forged isn't always the best idea. Paragon isn't happy about not fighting, but he is open to other possibilities. Theodyl is convinced that the Silver Flame has plenty of cranky Inquisitors to throw at the enemy war-forged. A series of clues leading one enemy to another is a good bet. Once the hot blooded types are done playing, clear thinking might come into play.

“Ye are forgettin' a couple'o things,” the beer stein interrupted, “'tis all a great plan 'till you take three steps and none of it matters anymore, Lads.”

“The cup is right.” Paragon said.

“If I were still hale, I'd be teaching ye the difference between a cup and a beer stein. Gods! Ye can giv'em life, but ye can't teach them to drink worth a damn.” Cried the dwarven spirit.

“Hag spit, I think I will have a drink.” Theodyl said, leaving them to their discussion.

While Paragon and the beer stein argued into the night, Theodyl drank and made plans. The gnome didn't exactly lie about his wife's kidnappers, but dangerous war-forged qualify as important information. From what the gnome said, he assumed that he was talking about a gang or rival House. Theodyl frowned, he should have asked better questions. Why didn't he ask? He sighed and moved on.

The manuscript the war-forged and the Silver Flame want is a big question. It is just a study of various artifacts recovered from Xen'dric; interesting but a bit out his league. It sounds expensive. The file the gnome is offering as payment is infinitely more useful. The names, dates and times listed create quite a picture of the dragon nation's intelligence efforts for a period of over 50 years. It is made up of a series of individual reports meticulously culled and annotated from a variety of different sources. Detailed study and further research might yield numerous benefits. From his point of view, it might be easier to just assassinate dragon agents. The Cyre manuscript is nothing compared to the file. According to the gnomish coding on the pages, it has never been copied, it is the only original. He asked for a copy, the original will be sorely missed by the gnomes; that means more trouble.

The Sister from the Silver Flame was associated with both house Cannith and a rogue green dragon during the war. She later joined the church of the Silver Flame. It is speculated from a list of various other reports, that the green dragon was named Vergris and that it died in Cyre. There is a note about numerous donations to Sharn City officials after she took the Church's honorary council seat. There is a detailed financial analysis attached, none of her listed assets and holdings could possibly have financed her rise to power. The money did not come from the temple coffers either. Her money came out of nowhere, thus her loyalties and motivations are in question. The gnomes also have a record of his dealings with his one time draconic patron as well. It won't matter that he wasn't spying, the association will get him dead on both ends of the equation. There is a further listing of his former master's investments, properties and other possible holdings. It is quite thorough, the scary, nationally organized kind of thorough. It makes sense that after the dragons wiped out the giants everyone else would worry about their own necks. There is no doubt the dragons know about it. They are too damned good at the arts of espionage and subterfuge not to notice others doing the same thing.

Either the gnome or his wife must be in on it somehow. The file was too bright and shiny for him to turn it down. Was it a trap? There are too many coincidences. The gnome came straight to him. The Sister came straight to him. There was a man following the gnome, but the Gorgon's Eye was raided only after he'd met with the Sister. The Watch had to either know before hand, or someone big enough to bully them into quick action had to be in charge. Big people make waves; little people will talk. The Silver Flame will have to have planned ahead as well. Clerics are known to gossip, the trick is to find their audience.

Time, information and possession are the keys to his freedom. Time and possession are still in question. He can find information, anyone with a brain and a money purse can get to know anything they want in Sharn. Theodyl has a special talent for making contacts and forging unlikely connections. There is a chance that he will fail. Events are moving quickly, he needs to gain the advantage soon. He is facing a challenge. His former Master, Stargazer Gildenscale, once told him something that changed the way he thought and acted from the moment the words touched his mind.

“I give you my father's words. A man who fails always tries for either the easy way or the long-shot; the first requires little imagination and less effort, the other is impossible so it frees one of any responsibility for failure. I want you to seek the way in the middle. It is hard, but not impossible, and if you fail, you will always know who's at fault. Failure builds character which leads to wisdom. Do not pass a challenge because you fear to fail. Challenge yourself always, know that you are the only enemy that counts. If you want to keep warm, to put food in your belly, and to sleep in comfort, you will have to learn very quickly. Now, leave my House young one, your lessons are done. Make me proud.”

As the door in his memory slammed in his face, Theodyl felt a renewed vigor. He made a chart in his head. Each of the players have a heading. He spent the night making links between them and testing those links to see if they made sense. His life is at stake, he should be worried, but all he can see is the challenge. Perhaps, he will feel the terror when he is done. Perhaps he is a fool. Theodyl slowly drank his way to oblivion. His last thought was that, at the very least, he had a list of people to join him in hell if he failed.


Two posts in and I'm hooked! Very rich on details and character. I like the suspense you're building. The dwarven-possessed stein is brilliant! Keep it up.

If you care about such things, you might try running this through a spell-checker before you post. If you don't... well, the story's making up for it.

*subscribed and in my sig*
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First Post
Plans, Chapter 6

► Plans, Chapter 6

Paragon watched Theodyl sleep. It amazes the war-forged that anything ever gets done with all the sleeping flesh people do. It has been just over seven hours, Paragon is bored and so is the beer stein. The war-forged gathered a few marbles from a pouch on his belt and lined them up. He very carefully brought his thumb and index finger together, just like Theodyl had taught him. The pressure built and with a loud tap the marble sped across the table and hit Theodyl in the head. Nothing. Paragon tried again. Nothing. The beer stein made a suggestion. Paragon started to laugh.

“To arms, to arms, the line is breached!”

Theodyl rose up out of his chair drawing his sword with one hand and forming a spell with the other. He turned, blinking but not seeing anything. The spell fizzled and vanished painfully from his mind. He turned again, cursed, and then promptly emptied his stomach.

“A mighty warrior he be...ha!” the beer stein laughed.

“Well, at least he drew his weapon.” the war-forged mused.

“Shaddup, mah head aches,” Theodyl tried to speak through the foul taste in his mouth, “have ye no respect for the dying?”

“We are bored.” The beer stein answered.

“Are ye done sleeping?” Paragon asked.

Theodyl took a seat and had a look around. They are back at the Gorgon's Eye, under the basement. He can smell the sewers. Paragon started to explain everything as Theodyl opened his kit and tried to freshen up.

The dockside security boys got antsy about something just after he passed out. The war-forged made a quick exit through the sewer access ways and dragged him out to a safer place. He doesn't think their presence was noticed, however.

Theodyl nodded and shrugged. He dropped an herbal packet into the beer stein. He poured in some water and then used a cantrip to heat the mixture.

“Hey! That's not beer!” The outraged beer stein complained.

Theodyl then produced a wooden bowl and unwrapped a wide spoon made out of green glass. He tapped the spoon against the bowl and then started to stir. An odd mist formed around the utensil. It grew thicker and thicker. Within a few moments, the bowl was brimming with hot, steaming mush. Theodyl frowned at the pale gray substance. A handful of dried fruit from his kit added some flavor. He ate greedily, sipping tea from the unhappy beer stein and humming an old battle hymn. He would make them wait, a just vengeance.

“Well?” Paragon asked as Theodyl repacked his kit.

“I want beer.” The beer stein cut in morosely.

“I have an idea.” Theodyl said with a smile. “What if the manuscript isn't all that important? What if that nasty little file about dragons is the prize and the manuscript is just a bit of honey to keep a city full of bears looking the other way?”

“Hag spit.” Paragon cursed.

“We have been handed a poisoned arrow my friends.” Theodyl continued.

“The manuscript is important because giant artifacts are driving technology and technology is power even if there isn't a war. What if the dragons are using that to keep the powers-that-be running about while they eliminate two threats to their intelligence efforts?”

“Explain.” Paragon demanded.

“The dragons want the file, not the manuscript. They also want to get rid of whomever is running the operation. We are bait in a trap. In fact, with all those swords pointed at our throats, the most obvious choice is to turn to the dragons for help...”

“What if you are just paranoid? What if the gnomes want to bait some, so called dragon agents; stirring the Pot, as you would say, for a similar reason.” Paragon made a stirring motion with his finger. “The Zilargo Trust is supposedly the biggest nest of spies in the world. It would be a sound strategy to draw out other players. Do you really intend to turn to the dragons?” Paragon let his voice go hollow at the end.

“No. The easy way is for losers, and besides it would be a trap. If it doesn't cost me my life, it will cost me my freedom. I don't see the gnomes doing this, it is brilliant, but it lacks a certain subtlety. There is a sense of arrogance here, gnomes are not arrogant. Besides, I have other options.” (Paragon is acting strangely. What gives?)

“Go on, I want to hear about them.” Paragon motioned with his hand.

“I am a bastard. My mother raised me in a whorehouse in Cyre. One day when I returned from my errands, I found the house in flames. There were no survivors. I was barely 10, I lived in the alleys, made friends with the street urchins. About two years later, I tried to snatch a man's purse. He caught me, he tried to use magic on me and somehow, I resisted. He thought it was funny, so he took me with him.” Theodyl closed his eyes and pictured his words as he spoke. “The man's name was Stargazer. He was a wizard. He kept me as his servant for a long time before he found a use for me. I thought he was mad. He would play tricks on me and made me play with puzzles. He would test my memory constantly with limericks, numbers, and endless lists. He nurtured my curiosity, encouraged me to think, taught me to live every moment of my life. He started teaching me tricks like walking silently and picking pockets. He taught me how to read and write; how to read people and guess their motives. When he heard me singing, he arranged for lessons. All along he was teaching, shaping me. It was the most fun I ever had. He took me adventuring, challenging all my skills. One day he asked me if I wanted to be his apprentice....”

“I know all this!” Paragon protested.

“Did you know that he was a rogue dragon? Do you know that he found out who my father is? Do you know that the same stinking dragon slinkers that killed him want to finish me as well?” Theodyl's eyes lit up and magical power crackled at his fingertips.

“My apologies, please continue.” Paragon said about as softly as his voice allowed, making a two handed calming motion. Theodyl has never been calm about family business, the war-forged feels the same about his creator.

“He had visitors one day, I heard them arguing. They threatened Stargazer; I heard them call me a pet; a liability as I reached adulthood. They called me an animal. They called him an exile. They said they would take me if he didn't send me away.” Theodyl looked up, he sighed. “He mentioned that he had arranged for a boarding school and an apprenticeship with a Master Inquisitive in from Cyre. He said that my time with him was over. It was all true.” Theodyl stared a the floor for a moment and then continued. “I was sent away with a letter of introduction and a heavy bound sheaf of scrolls carrying all sorts of advice. I never saw him again, but he always managed to help me out of one jam or another.”

“My real father is an elf, pure blooded, and he works for one of the Houses. I also have a map leading to Stargazer's various, hideouts. He owned a lot of real estate and rarely stayed anywhere for long. No one knows this but me. We have a contact, and possibly, a few hiding places that our enemies don't know about. There is also the House of Shadow.”

“Bah, double dealing meat-bags! The House of Shadow played all sides during the war. How many of our brothers died because of their spies?" Paragon pounded his fists into the table and shook his head. "Alright, so what is your plan, exactly?”

“So did the gnomes, the Houses and the Dragons! They all wanted power. No one is really all that trustworthy when it comes to that game. At least with House of Shadow we can trust their contact. She likes money and she likes to trade in hot commodities. The potential for mayhem and profit will keep her honest.” Theodyl tried to explain.

“Harrumph, you are talking about that actress friend of yours. I still don't understand how you pick your lovers. Flesh people lose the ability to think critically when it comes to choosing mates, I learned that in the Cannith training halls. Even with all those books you showed to me, it makes absolutely no sense. But enough, you still haven't told me about your plan.” Paragon tapped his finger against the table.

“First, we get the gnome, then we get his wife. After that we deliver the war-forged to the Silver Flame. Somehow, while they are killing each other, we set up a meet with our so-called dragon friends or try to contact my father at House Lyrandar. Either way we have to leave Sharn. It is going to be close, and we are going to have to improvise. Chances are we will die before we regret it, but we will not go easy.” Theodyl raised his hand like the bronze cast portraits of the kings of Galifar.

The war-forged frowned beneath its composite plates. Theodyl makes his joints ache. He can't tell just how much of this Theodyl just made up at the spur of the moment and how much was an actual plan. Even with the benefits of military training, the half-elf is still a slave to his whims. A fine weapon, if properly supervised.

“Huzzah, huzzah! Let's drink on it!” the beer stein cheered.

“Harrumph, you drive me crazy. I even thought you were failing for a moment. I am with you Lieutenant, and so are my Lads. But, if there isn't a good fight, we shall have words. That is my promise.” Paragon said.

“Thank you, Sergeant.” Theodyl answered. To Paragon, rank denotes family and respect. He will not disappoint his brother.

“Do we drink now?” The beer stein cut in.

“Yeah, sure, let's go. We will have to have Thersyl killed at the Watch first, though.”

Paragon didn't like the idea. Theodyl had to very quickly explain that it wouldn't be a real murder. It seems the war-forged is keen on recruiting the changelings into his club. The beer stein actually laughed as Theodyl hung from Paragon's fist and explained the rest of his plan. The Devil is in the details, and since war-forged tend to take things literally it is best to explain things very carefully. Paragon made a few suggestions. Theodyl will not soon forget that lesson.
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First Post
Thanks Ragboy, I appreciate your words. I have a free version of Star Office, the spellchecker is a pain. I will try to correct as I go, I am still trying to format the posts so they are easy to read. I am a big fan of Star Wars Heroes of Another Kind and the Jonrog D20 horror story hour<update please>. It's a hoot to see my stuff on your sig, Thanx.


First Post
Ok, now we have some Action, Chapter 7

►OK, now we have some Action, Chapter 7

They entered the sewers expecting trouble. Theodyl graciously allowed the war-forged to take point while he followed, keeping his Harp Bow ready. Just a few moments later, a choker caught Paragon around his short armored neck. The laughing war-forged ripped the creature apart and then drop-kicked it's head down a darkened tunnel. 147 to 3, he proudly announced to the shadows. The beer stein announced that he knew it was there all along. Theodyl poured the last of his beer into the beer stein to make the dwarven spirit happy. Paragon 147 to 3 harrumphed and moved ahead looking for more things to kill. The beer stein started to giggle.

“Woo-hoo! Keep a look-out Lads, my beard is a'tinglin'!” hollered the beer stein.

Almost too late, Paragon let loose a war cry and started swinging. Of the four squat, four-armed dolgrim wretches, only one had enough sense to raise its weapon. It died first. Since the choker incident, Paragon has been carrying a short hafted mace on his left hand and a cutlass on his right. Paragon sliced off its sword arm and smashed its stupid lumpy head into it's chest. He then stabbed the one with bandages on it's head through the neck. He slashed sideways blinding the dolgrim behind it with the gushing blood. It only had one eye, so it probably wouldn't have seen the mace that ended it's life. Paragon 150 to 3 kicked the last one in the belly. The thing was using a crude crutch, it fell hard. He poked his cutlass into it's neck and started asking questions.

“Waaatchoooooouuut!” Theodyl screamed warping the very air as a focused beam of sound carried his words.

Above Paragon's head, a skeletal bat with glowing red eyes exploded under the sonic barrage. Paragon drove his blade into the goblin and rolled, swinging his mace into the legs of the emaciated creature walking up behind him. Theodyl heard the agonized scream of the magic user as his familiar died. The sound came from further down the tunnel. Paragon is busy fighting some sort of dead thing. It is his to kill.

He knocked an arrow and started to sing a Light Spell. The light seemed to grow from out of nowhere filling the tunnel and reverberating with his voice. He saw the creature bent over in pain. It might have been a fat goblin, but for the talons on its hands and the twisted horns upon its head. A familiar is both a blessing and a curse. His master once advised him never to bother with one. He smiled, pulled back the string, and put an arrow through the top of its skull, right between the horns. The thing dropped face first, no more pain. A few steps in front of it Paragon beat into the leathery zombie. The crunching sounds of his weapons striking the zombie made Theodyl wince. It must be tough. The zombie slammed Paragon hard in his chest. The war-forged staggered back, almost losing his balance. The zombie lunged, tackling Paragon and knocking him over. It now faced Theodyl.

Paragon started to sing a battle hymn. It is his favorite from the old regimental chap book he keeps in his kit. He rolled over onto his back and sprang onto his feet like a street performer. He turned and tapped the the zombie in the back of the head. Its broken skull sloshed about beneath its magically enchanted skin. Bits of teeth and foul liquid squeezed out, hitting the ground just in front of Theodyl. The half-elf cursed and demanded that Paragon quit playing with it. It suddenly turned, and lunged at the war-forged.

Theodyl let his bow harp hang from its strap and started to form a spell. Dead things just make him feel nasty all over. He sang a series of syllables. His hands made juggling motions and soon, a series of multicolored spheres twirled in front of him. As Paragon drove his cutlass through the zombie's mouth and pulled back its mace. Theodyl selected a bright green one and sent it into the undead. The green sphere burst as it struck, releasing a sticky mass of sizzling green acid onto the zombie's back. The undead did not notice it's own slow disintegration, but it definitely felt Paragon's mace deforming it's face. The impact finished the acid's job and tore the zombie in half. Paragon leaped upon the upper half and endeavored to smash it flat. Its legs stood for a moment, took two steps, then collapsed. There are foul liquids pooling on the floor. The stench is overwhelming.

Theodyl saw his light spell fade around the corpse of the magic user. The stink might be he least of his problems. He tried to breathe through his mouth and blink the tears away from his eyes.

A dark shape started to form in the darkness sending a chill down the tunnel. Theodyl shuddered, a hissing sound made his ears itch. He sent the gray sphere speeding towards it. It sped to its target and exploded, sending sharp pieces of stone scything through the shadow and the rapidly decomposing body beneath it. The red sphere went next, it flashed into a bright ball of red and yellow flame. A booming wave of heat swept the length of the tunnel. The shadow staggered. The body caught flame and so did the noxious gases emanating from the broken zombie. Paragon started to laugh. Theodyl felt the grim smile on his face stretch into a feral grin. His heart is beating hard and fast. It smells like war.

The frosty white sphere went next. It burst in a bright blue flash. It sucked the heat out of the walls and the air, flash freezing everything within a large circle. He could hear the stone crackling. The shadow shook off what seemed like ashes and took a step forward, hissing angrily. Somehow, Theodyl knew the shadow was looking at him. He also realized that the biting cold would not bother the thing.

Paragon loosed a war cry and charged. His mace passed straight through its body. The cutlass rang as it struck, making the shadow dodge sideways. Theodyl sent a shining golden sphere at the shadow. As it burst against the evil creature, it filled the tunnel with a bright, wholesome light. A high pitched scream followed the light before it vanished as quickly as it came.

“What the hell just happened?” Theodyl asked, knocking an arrow and looking for more trouble. “Did that shadow come out of him?”

“Black Magic,” answered the beer stein before making a spitting sound.

“152 to 3!” Paragon announced proudly. “Pity, somebody beat on them before us. Their wounds are days old, but it must have been a nasty beating. They look like they lost the battle. The were too sore to put up any kind of fight.”

“Healthy dolgrim usually put up a better fight, but who cares? They are dead, our duty is done.” the beer stein replied, making another spitting sound.

“That zombie was nasty. It's skin was like leather armor.” Theodyl spoke as he sent his last gray brown sphere, at the stinking zombie remains. When it struck , the gruesome thing decayed rapidly and fell to dust. “I'm not taking any chances.”

“The tunnels must be crawling with these vermin. Something mean and bloody dangerous is driving the Riff Raff up to our levels.” Paragon 152 to 3 said cheerfully. “I want to hit it.”

“One battle at a time, Sergeant.” Theodyl patted his shoulder as he walked over to the burned and frozen corpse. They felt good, it was almost like war.

“Beware Lad,” the beer stein warned, “something doesn't feel right over there.”

“I will check it out.” snapped the war-forged.

Paragon 152 to 3 squatted next to the corpse and started disassembling it with his cutlass. He started to hum his favorite battle hymn as he worked, chopping with his weapon to the rhythm to the music. Theodyl used a mage-hand spell to drag any interesting bits away from the magical cutlass. Paragon 152 to 3 can't tell magic from a hole in the wall. He collected all the items and wrapped them up in a rag for Paragon to carry. As they searched the other bodies, Theodyl noticed a pair of wristbands sticking out of the zombie dust. He snatched them up and handed them to his companion as they set out once more. It's barely noon and they both need a bath.


skullsmurfer said:
►OK, now we have some Action, Chapter 7

147 to 3, he proudly announced to the shadows.

Brilliant. I had thought his name was a static count from the war. I'm stealing this immediately, along with the stein. Also, I must say, Theodyl is the coolest bard I've ever seen depicted. Keep it up. So far, you have a complicated plot with plenty of political players and unique characters, all to the tune of a quickening pulp plot. Best depiction I've seen of Eberron yet.

If you could get your GSP under control, and apply some pacing, I'd say this rivals the current published novels.

Hopefully I won't be your lone fan for long...


First Post
thanx ragboy, I'm 31 and I just finished my first semester of college. My writing teacher recomended I get some practice. Business writing is a little dry for me so I decided that fantasy is my thing. I wrote chapters 1 through 12 already and I am posting them as I correct and revise them. According to the last three books I've read I need to kill somebody important soon, got any suggestions?

Hi skullsmurfer,

I'm currently reading through the posts of this so far (about mid way - just met big rat & orc in the sewers) and I really like this.

I was a little thrown by the shifting conversation at the beginning(spider means he was confused, but remains complimentary), but as I got used to it it worked well. Fantastic bunch of characters also. The bard-harp is one of those why-didn't-i-think-of-that creations. Oh, and the city details and dialogue are really well handled.

I have never played Eberron (and know jack all about it), but this has made me interested.

Looking forward to reading the rest of this...

Spider J


First Post
Casing the Scribe's Guild and other Problems, Chapter 8

►Casing the Scribe's Guild, Chapter 8

The Scribe's Guild Library is a nondescript building on an anonymous Sharn street. House Sivis and the Scribe's Guild may or may not be one and the same. It depends who one asks and where one looks. Only a long and exhaustive paper search will reveal the truth, however, Sivis never seems to grant permission. The Guild is so very boring than few would make the link. A Guild stamp never calls as much attention as a House of Sivis sigil.

Moro Taller hurried to make the first bell. Since his wife was taken he's had to depend on a private nurse. Even with her help, he has trouble getting his kids ready for school. He is trying very hard to keep up appearances, but the strain is starting to show. He can't live without his wife. He must get her back before the House acts. The gnome adjusted his cap and hurried up the stairs. Tardiness will draw attention to him, he can't have that.

“Moro Taller, Librarian, 2nd class, 1st shift.” He announced as he crossed over the threshold. He's never seen whatever guards the doors. The waves of heat and the dark, oily stain in front of the doors attests to it's never ending vigilance.

Siff watched the gnome enter the building. He did not think it would be so hard. The security is ridiculous. He thought he had run into a local gang until he saw they were watching the street not the people. He made his rounds hawking his wares and counting the watchers. The real hawker is still sleeping at his dingy room three levels down. The pretty girl he brought home last night slipped him a potion. He won't complain on either count. There are three pieces of gold, and a jeweled pearl earing under his rose scented pillow. In the absence of a clear memory he will imagine whatever is most convenient.

Ivor and Patter are waiting in the sewers below. Siff has no way of warning them, not for at least a half-hour. He can't give his act away by doing something the hawker wouldn't normally do. Siff pulled off his dingy leather cap and wiped his sweating forehead within a greasy handkerchief. He replaced the cap and smiled stupidly. He grunted as he lifted and pushed the cart in front of him. There are 15 bags of charcoal that he has to sell. He moved on to the next house and did his best to play a low-born idiot. The customers expect it.

Patter made a warding gesture as he stepped over the bony remains of a human. It is surprising that the sewers aren't choked with bones. Ivor watched his partner and shook his head. This is the third passage they try. It seems that all of the underground approaches to the Scribe's Guild Library are warded. He can barely understand the squiggly lines of magical script cut into the walls, but the danger is obvious. They are both experienced in dealing with traps magical or otherwise. This however is beyond their expertise. There are two more places they can try. Siff is on the surface scouting the front and only entrance. They hope he has better luck.

Elsewhere in the Sewers...........

Paragon 152 to 3 hollered down the sewer tunnel. The war-forged is angry. A great stony tentacle is holding his body aloft, resisting all the warrior's efforts to escape. Theodyl slid beneath the tentacle and touched it with a large colorless gem. The tentacle promptly dropped its captive and shrank back into the featureless tunnel. Theodyl looked to see if his companion was injured. Paragon made a growling sound and punched the wall. The half-elf decided to move on.

“Did you know that would happen!?” Demanded the war-forged.

“My master's map indicated a trap and how to deactivate it, but he didn't explain what exactly it was. He liked to keep me on my toes. I did tell you he liked to play games.” Theodyl answered while looking for another trap. “It occurs to me that he counted on testing me even after his death.”

“Are ye sure he liked you at all, Lad?” The beer stein asked sarcastically.

Theodyl ignored the dwarven spirit. Deciphering his master's maps had been easier than finding the place. Stargazer purposedly garbled his directions. Paragon is losing patience. The traps, hidden doors, illusions, and riddles are driving him to violence. He felt the tug of magic. Good news at last. The iron bound door in front of him was entirely too clean, it looked almost new. He lifted his bow harp and strummed the strings in a complicated sequence. His eyes filled with color as the magical aura surrounding the entryway was revealed. He continued to play the harp adding his voice to the magical spell and slowly coaxing information from the portal.

“What are you doing? This is no time to sing.” Paragon spoke as he approached.

The half-elf put his body between Paragon and the iron-bound door. He won't waste the spell by letting his companion interrupt. It seems that the door isn't just trapped and sealed. According to the shining sigils revealed by his song, it isn't a door at all. His master must have been paranoid indeed. Theodyl reached out with his hand and tapped a series of letters spelling out is master's True name. The door detached from the wall and traveled down to the mouth of the tunnel from which they entered. He heard a hard clicking sound as it came to rest. The spot where the door had been, turned out to be an unpleasant, tightly compacted, bone filled niche. The map indicates there should be a long corridor behind the door. It is quite a graveyard now.

“Come on Sergeant, our door awaits.” Theodyl beckoned the war-forged.

“Harrumph! I don't like any of this!” Paragon complained. “Did you see? Our footsteps are gone! The dust just swallowed them up.”

The door awaited them at the mouth of the tunnel. They have to use it, they can't leave otherwise. Paragon cursed every step he took back the way he came. It opened at Theodyl's touch to reveal a polished marvel hallway. The two strode in ready for anything. The door shut and locked itself. Theodyl expected this. He had to stand in front of Paragon's mace to convince him, though. The door to his master's tower often did the same. He sat on the cool floor and re-examined the map his master had given him. The various places on the map were not individual hide-outs, they were doors leading to the same place. The coded numbers on the map are dates and astrological calculations. Each door functions only at certain times of the month or year. He picked the right door in, yet he doesn't know how to get out. He can't tell whether or not he is in Sharn anymore. The magic is beyond anything he has ever read about. Theodyl cursed, and threw the map down. He looked around, counted the doors and noted that most of them had ornate wax seals on them. His master used seals like that to keep him out of dangerous places in his tower. It seems that he expected him to find this hallway.

“Paragon, I will need you to keep alert. I am supposed to be here but I don't know why.” He said. “The other doors are sealed, please don't touch.”

Theodyl retrieved the map and suddenly noticed that instead of depicting Sharn and his master's hide-outs it now seemed to show the plans to a large mansion. Theodyl cursed again. He recognized many of its features. It is an amalgamation of all the different places his master had lived in. They never moved at all and his master magicked his senses to think he did. He found his bearings, identified his entry at the Hall of Ways, and quickly found a route to a room labeled Master's Study. His master proved trickier than he had ever suspected.

“Seneschal!” Theodyl shouted he set out with a very paranoid Paragon in tow. “Seneschal, where are you?”

<What do you want?> A voice demanded seemingly out of thin air. Paragon 152 to 3 started to poke his cutlass about, looking for invisible lurkers. The beer stein announced that there is no one about. Paragon ignored the cup.

“I want to know if Master Stargazer left me a message!”

<No need to be cross, there's a note in the study for you.>

“Fine, get me some biscuits and tea. My companions will require beer and Cannith Oil.”

“Beer!” the beer stein cheered.

“Harrumph!” Paragon said as he followed Theodyl.

<Very well, young Master.>

They traveled in silence. Theodyl could feel Paragon's eyes boring angrily into his back. He is very annoyed. The halls sprang to life as they walked. Torches lit and cool clean air stirred and refreshed the environment. There is art and treasure expertly and tastefully decorating every inch of space they can see. Stargazer's Hoard, the old man had taste, he never stopped at a few tonnes of gold. Theodyl wants explore. Maybe he will later. For now, he has to read his master's note. Then, he needs to find out what the hell is bothering Paragon. The war-forged can't expect an explanation every two steps they take. It would be silly.

<Welcome, sirs, I must apologize. I really was not expecting you so soon.>

The short gleaming figure bowed and led them into the finely appointed study. It is an autognome constructed of mithril and gold. Theodyl looked at it's familiar features and wondered if the thing had even missed him. His master had constructed the thing to serve him and take care of his various lodgings. For a short time the autognome was his ever watchful task master. Theodyl frowned, he never pictured returning home under these circumstances. Home isn't home at all.

The desk lay directly across from a massive fireplace. There is a scroll atop three very large books. Theodyl asked for the fireplace to be lit and took a seat. The scroll unrolled itself at his touch. He recognized his masters neat cursive script. He sighed and started to read. Forgotten, Paragon struck up a conversation with the autognome. The beer stein joined in. Theodyl didn't even hear them.

An hour later, Theodyl cut their animated conversation off. His face is caught somewhere between a frown and a bitter scowl. He thanked the Seneschal and asked Paragon to shoulder the heavy books. They made their way to the Hall of Ways and waited while the autognome found a safe exit. Paragon was in Wait and See mode. Theodyl could feel the war-forged looking at him again. He can't explain anything just yet. The gnome at the Scribe's Guild is due to disappear in just under 2 hours.

“This place isn't for us, Paragon.” Theodyl told his friend.

“I could have told you that! You just don't listen. I tell you.....”

“Paragon, we must see to your Lads,” Theodyl interrupted as he stepped onto an obscure section of the sewers, “we will talk on the way. There's a couple of things you should know.”

“Harrumph, its about time.”

“Whatever, just givme some more beer.” The beer stein piped in.

The two had a very long conversation. The beer stein served as a sort of referee. By the time they reached their meeting place, Paragon had a good idea of what was going on. Theodyl felt his head spinning from what Paragon had to say. Either way, they are a team again. He doesn't look forward to hanging from his companion's fist again.

Siff, Ivar, and Patter waited nervously at the rusty, abandoned pump house. It is as close as they want to get to the trapped tunnels leading to the Scribe's Guild. They found a way in. It is just too unpleasant.

“Well, boys, what's new?” Theodyl asked as he made his entry and struck a dashing pose.

The changelings drew their weapons and spread out. The bard pouted, he was expecting awe, not blades. The changelings don't care. Theodyl and Paragon are not usually this quiet, they are very paranoid. The war-forged spoke the password. The changelings relaxed, but only for a bit. They barricaded the doors like experts. Theodyl set a minor ward and the group sat down to talk. When they drew back their hoods, the changelings all wore Theodyl's face. Paragon started to laugh. Theodyl made a face and quickly avenged his pride with a fake mustache and a set of wax teeth. While they spoke the changelings each tried their hand at making Theodyl's borrowed face look as stupid and ill-bred as possible.
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First Post
►To Gnome or not to Gnome, Chapter 9

►To Gnome or not to Gnome, Chapter 9

Foe Crusher heard a muted splashing sound. It has been stationed here since the Scribe's Guild purchased his contract from House Cannith at the beginning of the war. It all that time it has methodically categorized its work environment. The thick water sound came from the pool of sewage that flows from above. He detected no other sound, but it is likely that there is an intrusion. It killed a chuul last week, maybe it will be something smarter. Smart things fight much better than over sized vermin. The massive war-forged juggernaut turned, loudly cocking the mechanisms built into its arms.

Theodyl and the changelings watched the over sized guardian turn to face Paragon 152 to 3. They are trapped in the bottle hanging from his waist. Theodyl realized the maniac isn't going to let them out. If Paragon wants a big fight, he's found it.

“Unit identify yer self!” Paragon snapped in perfect military fashion.

“J-442-Breland-267412, Foe Crusher.” The war-forged juggernaut responded after a short pause. The sound of it's fist striking it's chest echoed mightily though the chamber.

“State yer Orders!”

“Sir, this unit is to guard this entry. Units bearing the command Sigil may pass..” the juggernaut stated, then paused again, “Please present your Sigil. You have only moments to comply.”

“At ease soldier!” Paragon 152 to 3 commanded. “This is Unit P-001-Command-Cyre-Prime.” The iron band around his head started to glow. Foe Crusher took a step backwards and waited for further orders like a proper soldier. “I have news for you. Foe Crusher, the war is over and there is a treaty that gives every war-forged the right to be free. Acknowledge!”

“Sir, I understand, what are my new orders, Sir?” Foe Crusher asked, his mind is already sluggish to begin with, the news are overwhelming.

“Go to House Cannith, Sharn Depot 10346 for decommission. You can also collect your pay and file a complaint over this breach of contract. I order you to forget my description and my unit number. You are dismissed!” The iron band flashed brightly as if to emphasize Paragon's commands. If questioned, Foe Crusher will not be able to tell anyone anything of use.

Foe Crusher turned and pulled his fist back again. A snap-hiss and a loud click sounded from the spring and piston installed within its arm. He took a running start and charged the entrance he's been protecting for so long. His fist drove into the doors, the mechanism tripped and an explosive discharge added power to the impact. The heavy armored portals buckled inward. The juggernaut's other fist came around. The impact shattered the doors sending flying debris in all directions. After that the Guild Library experienced a disaster. In its zeal to obey its orders, Foe Crusher took the quickest, most destructive route to the surface. The chaos provided the perfect cover. Paragon 152 to 3 pulled the cork on the magical bottle, letting his friends out.

“Now you let us out! What the hell did you say to that monster?”

Paragon looked at Theodyl and started laughing. “I can talk to a soldier better than you can sing.” He said. Theodyl sensed the truth of his words and scowled at his own tricks being used against him. The war-forged lied by telling a truth, he's learning.

The changelings pulled up their hoods and readied themselves for a fight. Theodyl is frustrated, the war-forged is no slouch, but Theodyl considers himself the resident word twister in this gang. Pouting, the half-elf acknowledged the war-forged's point and promised to even the score later. Paragon, dripping with raw sewage, harrumphed and jogged into the Guild Library. The changelings followed close behind. Missing a sense of smell is a blessing at this point.

Everyone knows where to go. Theodyl found up-to-date building plans at the Sharn City Records Office. It is a sure sign of how a well-organized organization can cut it's own throat. Theodyl thought he could hear Paragon singing amidst the panic caused by the juggernaut. He decided to find the gnome and bring the operation to a close before the war-forged exercised more of his improvisational skills. He was smiling again, the war-forged is a maniac.

“You there, where is the copy room?” Theodyl asked a gnome cringing under his desk. The gnome looked up and opened his mouth protest. When he made eye contact with Theodyl, however, he just answered the question promptly forgot it ever happened. Theodyl finished his spell and cursed. His gnome is 2 floors away.

Paragon led his Lads to the rooms designated for arcane research. The changelings each carried a specially designed sack. Magical items placed in those sacks are rendered safe for transport. They came in very handy during the magical arms race that dominated the war. You can't get traced, dominated, or cursed if the magic can't get to you. Though available only in small numbers, it is no surprise that so many were lost. Paragon will watch the door while the changelings steal everything that they can carry. Magic is almost better than money.

“Remember, scrolls are lighter. Rings and baubles come next. Careful with signet rings and seals they are usually trapped. I will take the heavy stuff, avoid flasks and bottles, they break and we might have to fight our way out. Oh, wands, get every one you can reach, Theodyl likes wands.”

Theodyl struggled to breathe as he ducked behind a door. The wet rag on his face is barely working. An iron golem is patrolling hall leading to the copy rooms. It is breathing poison gas. The half-elf surveyed the room until he saw a tell-tale sign of illusion. The shadows don't match and the colors vary slightly according to the amount of light available.

“Moro Taller, we have 7 minutes to leave here.” Theodyl announced.

The empty space beneath the third desk on the left made a yelping sound. An unseen head bumped the bottom of the desk, followed by a whimper. A gnome crawled out from behind a rapidly fading illusory hide-out. Theodyl raised an eyebrow at his nervous client.

“Grab everything you want to take with you. Oh, and I need a drop of your blood on this here scroll.” Theodyl handed the gnome a scroll and a stylus with a kind of talon attached to the end.

“W-what's this?”

“Ever hear of a Murder Doll?” Theodyl asked. “Hurry up, time is limited.” The gnome gulped.

As the gnome's blood touched the scroll it's purpose became suddenly evident. A cold breeze tore through the room followed by an uncomfortable rise in humidity. The scroll began to swell and grow. Before Moro Taller's eyes, a gnomish body took shape. It grew a set of clothes. Then, it stood up and screamed at it's creator. Moro Taller yelped as he looked at what could only be his double. It growled and sprung up, reaching for the gnome. Theodyl stepped behind it and cut its throat.

“Those things only live for an hour or so. They are animated by a weak animal spirit, very vicious. The Blood of Vol used to sell them to nobles who feared assassination. The uses are obvious.” Theodyl spoke as the terrified gnome rifled through the numerous shelves and stole for the very first time in his life. “We should leave before it reanimates and tries to eat us.”

“The golem won't obey me,” Moro whined and then froze as Theodyl's words sunk in, “I have a solution.” the gnome said quickly. Fear of being eaten, the primal motivator. He climbed up a shelf and dropped down holding up a battered scroll case.

Theodyl and his client squeezed past the iron golem. The scroll disabled it, but only for a moment. The gnome actually felt bad about using the item. There is no time for that, they have to run. Theodyl pulled a tiny lead and gold lined box from his many pockets. He used a wad of sticky goo to attach a shiny stone to the golem. The gnome asked a question, but his voice was drowned out by the sphere of silence projected by the stone. The House Sivis guard will not be able to order their golem to stop. More chaos.

Moro tried to snatch at the stone. Theodyl put a stop to him and reminded the gnome that he was dead. Dead scribes don't care about their jobs anymore. He half dragged the gnome down the hall and down an empty set of stairs reserved for servants and private exits. Theodyl used an invisibility spell to sneak through the first floor and back down to the basement. They met Paragon and his Lads and escaped the same way they came. They all had heavy sacks in tow. The war-forged had an armored cabinet strapped to its back. They shared banter as they traveled.

Apparently the juggernaut released a fire salamander that was bound to the entry arch when it smashed its way out. Paragon told the story like it is a joke. The angry outsider decided to incinerate the Guild Library after one of the changelings tossed a bucket of sand at it. Patter, Siff and Ivor broke into laughter. Every magic user in the building is busy. It will be a long time before anyone does a head count.

Moro Taller scowled at the sheer destruction. He wondered if this was what he wanted when he went to see the Inquisitive. He thought of his wife and his children. A moment later he shrugged his shoulders and hoped for the best. He's dead, it isn't his fault.
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Murder Doll? Where the heck did you come up with that? There's at least one thing to steal in every post. I really like the relationship between the three changelings and Theodyl. Very well put together.

And I don't know if you meant to make a pun, but I got a good chuckle out of it:

skullsmurfer said:
Forgotten, Paragon struck up a conversation with the autognome. The beer stein joined in. Theodyl didn't even hear them.

An hour later, Theodyl cut their animated conversation off.

I was confused with the location/details of his dead master's home. Was it some extra-dimensional space or a portal to another place? I really liked the trapped/secret door, as well, but that whole sequence got disjointed by the lack of clear description/location.

Keep it up!


First Post
The Sharn Anonymous is pleased to introduce our new sponsor. Mooneye 'the Necrognome' Rocco is a Khorvair University Alumni. His Flesh to Provender Spell rocked both the magical and international communities. He became the youngest student ever to gain a degree, face 16 different death sentences and personal visit by a deity. The Nation of Breland drafted now infamous Statutes of Law, Magic, and Morality to prevent just such a thing from ever happening again. In his column, Immortal Whims, he will share his unique outlook on life while answering reader letters about the world of magic. This week Mooneye answers an anonymous letter from a New Cyre Noble.--Editor

Text removed by writer request

"Well, young noble, I am very pleased you asked about Murder Dolls. I happen to have invented the process. At the time, I was running from various forms of death. I was still mortal so, in a sense, I was inspired by base primal fear. My disertation on recycling flesh was not well received at the University, my spell, Flesh to Provender did not have the desired effect at the Alumni Fundraiser, either. I graduated, but only because a blood sucker from Karrnath promised to add a new wing to the Magical Research Building."

"I was young and I ended up enslaving a few demons to complete the transformational formulae. The Scroll of Murder Doll proved a godsend whenever I needed to confuse the Inquisitors and other zealots crying for my still mortal blood. There was no shortage of raw materials. Once I started selling it, I made enough gold to finance my first experiments with immortality. I can honestly say that the Scroll of Murder Doll doesn't top the genius of my Flesh to Provender Spell, but it remains dear to my cold stony heart. I would like to send you a copy of my autobiography and Scroll of Murder Doll for your very own. I also would like to wish you the best of luck with that inheritance. You should never let anything stand in the way of your happiness. Don't worry, I know where you live."---

Mooneye 'the Necrognome' Rocco

P.S. Here's a quick recipe for all of those aspiring Necromancers out there. Send in your recipe, the closest to the original gets a prize, and a personal visit from me. Good Luck!

Scroll of Murder Doll:

Take one mid-level necromancer. Add a freshly murdered corpse, neither touched by the sun, nor blessed by any priest. Paint ingeniusly complex incantation onto corpse with a mixture of grave butter and the blood of a small freshly killed predator. I like cats personallly, though my first success came with a ferret. Under the light of the full moon perform a ritual whereby the true name of the donor body is ritually disassembled. Repeat three times. The resulting parchment scroll requires a drop of blood to create an untraceable duplicate. The creature is a mindless savage, kill it and it makes a fine corpse. Just remember that it only lives for one hour, but regardless of how it dies, it reanimates as the hungry dead. Enjoy.

Editor's Note:

We don't know what Mooneye is talking about, do not, I repeat do not, draw his attention. There is evidence that he eats competitors, so don't tempt fate. Further, we are not giving out prizes, I don't care how many times he resurrects my mother. No prizes, don't ask.
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First Post
The Underground, Chapter 10

The crowd rose up and cheered. The gladiators in the pit growled and charged at one another. The troll has the advantage, but the hobgoblin is the crowd favorite. The fight is on and after the bets, the blood lust drives the crowd. Moro Taller sank deep into his cloak. He is terrified, but the fight is strangely fascinating. The changelings are guarding his private spectator box and the war-forged named Paragon promised him that his wife will join him soon. The Private Inquisitive he hired is everything he hoped for. His assistant Theodyl has been very helpful. He's always liked bards.

The troll is bashing on the hobgoblin non-stop. Moro Taller moved to the edge of his seat and screamed. The hobgoblin smashed his spiked shield into the troll's face and lopped off a chunk of the monster's ear. The troll ripped the shield from his opponent's arm and sent it flying out onto the audience. The hobgoblin chopped into the troll's thigh and ran to the wall. Moro stood on his chair and whooped. The hobgoblin is no coward, he grabbed a torch with his shield hand. Fire and trolls don't mix. The troll is nearly recovered from his wounds, the hobgoblin is waiting. The fight is getting much better. The gnome is having the time of his life. He is holding on to his betting slips and waving them with every ounce of his scared little being. That hobgoblin better win. The odds would make him rich.

Far below the arena, Theodyl waited patiently within the catacombs. He would rather have Paragon to keep him company, but neither of them deals well with undead. Karrnath left a lot of scars in their minds. Theodyl took a moment to reinforce his will and take a firm hold of his emotions. He can't hear anything, but he can feel magic flowing near by. The necromancer approaches.

“Well, well, well, I see you have returned. How long has it been, ten, twenty years? I can't tell anymore!” The floating skull of Mooneye the Necromancer drifted towards Theodyl. “I heard rumors that you were sitting in a dungeon. In fact, I happen to have seen you in that very dungeon just a few hours ago. Very tricky, I decided to see to you personally. I like tricks.”

“I am pleased to see you are well.” Theodyl spoke as he placed one hand over his heart and bowed. Pigs on wings! There will be no tricks around the lich, not ever. “I have brought you a gift, though, I doubt anything would impress one such as yourself.”

“Let me see...” the lich whispered as the heavy lead lined box cracked open and its contents lifted up towards the floating skull. “My former master's phylactery! Hahahahahaha!”

The phylactery lit up with a menacing red light. Theodyl took a step back and readied a scroll. The necromancer was much faster, though, a painfully twisting spell struck the dangerous relic. The phylactery lost it's glow as the undead spirit within was entrapped once more. Mooneye the Necromancer was more than pleased. It laughed hideously and flitted about while six pairs of disembodied arms escorted Theodyl and carried his bags. The half-elf smiled, Paragon would have gotten them both killed. The underground Bazaar has an elite clientèle and the rules are very strict. A mistake now will be his last.

“So, Theodyl, where did you get it?” The lich asked.

“The Scribe's Guild Library, it caught fire. I was trying to rescue a few valuable items when my associate ran into it. He thought the box was full of gold.” Theodyl answered carefully. The absolute truth is Paragon had wanted to crush it. The knowledge that he would be releasing a lich in a sewer full of anonymous bones, was the only thing that stopped the war-forged.

“House Sivis had my very worst enemy in storage? Very well labeled, no doubt. Ha! I sold him to a very enterprising devil years ago. I am not too surprised. Sooner or later the gnomes get their hands on everything and endeavor to file it properly. I used to be one, you know.” The blazing red pinpricks in Mooneye's sockets winked. “You have earned yourself free passage for life, do not disappoint me.”

The lich laughed, rolling it's skull in the air. A golden coin pierced by a purplish black stone appeared just in front of Theodyl. He caught it deftly and slipped it into his belt. As long as he keeps it in his person, the guardians of the catacomb are not allowed to eat him or molest him in any other fashion. The for life part is a joke and a threat. Mooneye has a lethal sense of humor. Theodyl took it in stride, if he took every threat to his life seriously he would go mad.

The lich led him through a crowded underground market place to a large tent that seemed to ripple under a non-existent wind. When he got close enough, he realized that the tent was stitched together from cured humanoid skins. They are animated, their low moaning made him queasy, but Theodyl showed no weakness. Mooneye watched him closely.

“Find a seat, Theodyl,” the lich said as they entered the gruesome construct. The floating arms all gestured towards a comfortable pile of cushions, “I want to make you into a return customer.”

The skull hovered over to a large throne-like sculpture made of bones and golden wire. A small, headless rune carved skeleton stood up and the lich skull made itself comfortable upon its neck. Theodyl marked the anatomy of a gnomish skeleton. A snaky mass of cloth and jewelery leaped onto the skeleton and arranged itself into a fashionable, if macabre ensemble. Mooneye the Necromancer has a sense of style that even undeath couldn't take away. The transformation from floating skull to well-dressed skeleton made him, somehow, more approachable. Theodyl smiled, he appreciates style.

“Now, tell me what I can do for you.” Mooneye commanded as he sat upon his throne and crossed his legs. The Bazaar is a wonder in itself, but Mooneye offers services beyond the norm.

“I need to speak to my former master, but first I need to know where he died.”

“Oh Really? Why? Sounds expensive, dear boy, very expensive. Do you have a sample or a prized heirloom? Did he like you? There are risks. Dead wizards can be err, rather emotional, you know?”

“He raised me like a son. I want to know who killed him so that I might balance the scales.”

“Vengeance, passion, and mayhem! I knew that letting you live would be a good idea.” Mooneye chortled then grew suddenly serious. “You killed my apprentice in the sewers the other day. He wandered away from his chores, not very wise.”

“Who...?” Theodyl tried to ask. The image of the fat goblin with clawed hands and horns on it's head came to mind. He is guilty.

“Don't worry about that now, have something to eat, then we will talk price.”

A table stalked over to Theodyl's seat. He often likes to shake up a client in order to gain the upper hand in a negotiation. The lich has just fed him his own medicine and Theodyl is going to have to take it. Mooneye is sitting on a throne, it makes sense that he will want to establish the pecking order at the beginning of a transaction. The table is overkill, though. It is piled with body parts and a pitcher of what could only be blood wine. The half-elf caught the scent of raw, but relatively fresh meat. The table's bony legs clicked and clacked together as it settled before him.

The necromancer spoke a magical phrase and the contents of the table rearranged themselves into a veritable feast. Flesh to Provender, the spell that got Mooneye expelled from Morgrave University and drove Sharn City Council to draft the Statutes of Magic and Morality. Theodyl felt his blood turn to ice. A Sharn City Watchman wouldn't eat human flesh, neither would any of the church types. The hold on his emotions is starting to slip, but he concentrated on his goal. The flesh is gone, spent to feed the magic which creates the food. Theodyl held on that idea and strove to believe it as the truth. He reached out, poured a goblet of dark red wine and then filled his plate. Vengeance, passion, and mayhem, indeed! He ate under the watchful eye of the lich.

Fate tested him as he stood and breathed the smoke rising from the whorehouse that had sheltered him and his mother. The streets tested him when he made his home in the rat infested alleys. He was tested again when Stargazer found him and then again when he was sent out into the world. The war almost broke him, but he survived. The war tribunal put a black hood over his head and he came away with his life. Mooneye's test is nothing compared to what he has lived. Theodyl smiled and made proper thanks to his host. He wonders if he would be able to face his long dead mother as he is now. The plate is empty. He took a sip of wine and waited for his host to begin negotiations.
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First Post
►The Crusaders, Chapter 11

Sister Dalia Niabelis of the Silver Flame marched through the City Council chambers with one hand on the mace at her belt and the other clenching a sheaf of papers. Behind her, six grim faced Inquisitors matched her pace. It cost her to drag them out of the temple grounds. She had to promise the Bishop a victory over evil. Even with a council seat, the Silver Flame is loath to delve into city politics. It is a mistake she aims to correct. With the end of the war and the Purge of Lycanthropes now a mere distraction , the Flame must do something to keep a firm hold in the hearts and minds of the city. When word of these renegade war-forged reached her ears, she knew she had her chance. It meant nothing to pull every available string to take charge of the situation. She lost some friends on the council, but her success will win them back. The Silver Flame will gain much prestige, so will she.

The Inquisitive, Thersyl has been found. He is in a City Watch dungeon just within her grasp. He owes her for his mocking words and she aims to collect. He will lead her to the war-forged and then he will be cleansed. She was just about to make his real name public when the news arrived at her desk. It is just as well, she doesn't have to lie about her sources now. Sister Niablelis immediately set the wheels of justice rolling. The ink on the warrant is barely dry.

Paragon 152 to 3 strode into Captain Rolland Sevin's office and stood at attention until his presence was acknowledged. He wore House Cannith regalia and his tabard marked him as a house retainer. Captain Sevin read the perfumed letter first. Lady Eunice Nigma's heady rose perfume made him blush. He smiled at the war-forged and requested the other items he carried. Paragon harrumphed and handed over a diplomatic packet, a tastefully wrapped gift and a heavy purse.

Lady Nigma gifted the Captain with a silver flecked Stone of Sharpness, an item priced by soldiers and collectors for its ability to not only magically hone a weapon's edge
but to shine and preserve the steel as well. Captain Sevin ignored the purse, looking to his precious sword collection meticulously arrayed upon the walls. His Lady friend truly knows his heart. The Captain signed a release for the prisoner named Thersyl and agreed to hold the packet for an Inquisitor named Niabelis. As far as he is concerned, he has earned a powerful new patron. His independent style has long been a hindrance to promotion. With this new advantage he can allow himself to think about a district or even a council seat. As for the Inquisitor, he's been dealing with one kind of stiff or another his entire career. A religious stiff will not make too much of a difference.

“Thank you, Sir. House Cannith will remember your kind service.” The war-forged said as it bowed. Captain Sevin puffed out his chest proudly as he heard these words.

The Private Coach had already turned the corner when Sister Niabelis arrived. The door guards were expecting her. She was disarmed and escorted to Captain Rolland Sevin's office. He handed her the House Cannith packet and threw her warrant into his fireplace. Despite her protests, the guards forced her to sit an read through the packet while Captain Sevin coddled and polished one sword after another.

“This is ridiculous!” complained the Sister. “How did you get this?”

The packet is an interrogation report citing Theodyl's consultations with first, the gnome and then, the Sister. Everything pertinent that Thersyl experienced during his investigation in the sewers is listed as well. She smiled grimly, it must have hurt to get all of this out of the half-elf. There is a map and a description of the pumping rooms the war-forged and suspected goblins have occupied. The number of stray beast sightings and description of their normal habitats also suggest that the war-forged are responsible for the recent attacks. There is a reference to the disaster at the Scribe's Guild. The gnome's death was supposed to be a secret. House Cannith must have a spy within House Sivis. She is explicitly warned against embarrassing the House. The paper, script, language, and seals are all genuine. So is the threat. House Cannith has out maneuvered her. They stand to gain credit with the City Council, but she may benefit as well. The packet states that she can have Thersyl when she recovers the Cyre manuscript. It is a good start.

“I don't know what you are talking about.” the Capt said in answer to her previous question. Her Brooch of Truth-telling went into conniptions. “There are 20 watchmen awaiting your arrival at the sewer gate number 57. I am honored to serve House Cannith and the Silver Flame in this most important endeavor.” The bit about the Silver Flame is also a lie. “I will be waiting with my reserves to catch any strays you send my way. Do you require an escort?”

“With your men and my Inquisitors, these renegade war-forged will not stand a chance. House Cannith will be very happy that this matter will be handled discretely. The elimination of rampaging sewer beasts will bring credit to your office as well. I am sorry if I seemed rude, this matter has weighed on me of late. I would very much appreciate an escort.” Sister Niabelis did not have the strength to smile. No one should lie to an Inquisitor without due punishment. She scowled instead. It would have been worse if her fellow Inquisitors had witnessed this. The official escort will assuage her pride, only big people get escorts.

“Think nothing of it good Sister.” The Captain said. “I am just here to help.” The officer smiled weakly. The sister felt her Brooch register yet another lie.

Captain Sevin picked out the more sensitive parts of the packet and threw them into the fireplace. Lady Nigma's instructions were very thorough, she must hold an important office within the House. It seems also that Lady Nigma bears a healthy dislike for the Inquisitor. The Sister Inquisitor collected her map and ignored the man's salute as she left. The Captain called her a stiff and went back to polishing a very large and heavy falchion he called Lucy. It was his grand-sire's weapon. The scent of roses carried up from the open drawer next to him. He thought of love, money, and grand hall to fill with gleaming blades. Lucy will come in very handy in the sewers.

Paragon 152 to 3 escorted Pook to the underground arena. The changeling is dressed as foreign merchant and the war-forged is serving as a hired sword. They will look like every other blood thirsty, but slightly paranoid, spectator. Theodyl should be there by the time they arrive. The catacombs are dangerous, but his friend did not want company. He worries for the half-elf, though not as much as before. Paragon played his role, he is sure Theodyl will hold up his end. After the talk they had, the war-forged has no doubts about the plan. If the Inquisitor follows the map they gave her she will reach the enemy about an hour behind them. The war-forged can't wait for the fight to come. His boys from the war gaming club will be meeting them as well. Talking about fighting is one thing, real war is what they were built for.


First Post
►Time for War, Chapter 12

Theodyl ran, his movement enhanced by a spell. Mooneye the Necromancer has earned every bit of his reputation. The lich is a mad genius. The ritual circle alone made his head spin. It had gears and pistons driving within it. Dead things run inside the wheels built into the walls to make it all move. It took everything he had to speak the words and ignore the crying coming from the shadows. The entire room was a machine to empower the circle.

A thing appeared, it was blindingly bright and colder than anything he's ever felt in his life. It was angry. His master's ghost wanted to fry him. It breathed a gout of ghostly flames that hissed to the very edge of the magical circle. Theodyl sang to it, he didn't know what else to do. Stargazer's favorite song came to mind. A song from the Gnomish play, Tartuffe. The ghost cursed at him, and then it laughed. The ghost was the essence of Stargazer, the man he knew and esteemed and the primal dragon that lurked at the edge of his smile and the glint in his eyes. Theodyl felt at once ashamed and elated to face his master for one last time. He remembered hearing that the young gnomish mage, Mooneye Rocco first sought out necromancy to speak to his dead mother's spirit. Theodyl wondered if he had gone too far.

“Well, young one, are ye going to just stare at me?” Stargazer now ghost teased. “You are too old to stare like a peasant at a pageant.”

Theodyl shook the doubts out of head and hurried to have his say before the magic faded. His master was cooperative, though his eyes glimmered with mischief. He answered some questions without reservation, argued about others and gave the rest in riddles. It was almost as if he were alive. Theodyl tried to apologize in the end. The ghost dragon merely shushed him and faded away.

The lich was gone when it was over. The wheels stopped moving, the gears and pistons slowed to a halt, the shadows grew silent. Theodyl threw his cloak over his shoulders and made his way out. He wasn't sure if he was happy, but he had what he came for. Paragon had been right, he was doing too much, he should have waited for later.

“You are running late,” Paragon 152 to 3 hollered, “I was going to leave without you!”

The war-forged were lined up along the walls as he arrived. He released the Runner's Song as he slowed to meet Paragon. He expected 10 or so of Paragon's friends, there appear to be just about 20. The war-forged started to talk, not caring that Theodyl was trying to catch his breath.

“Any news?” Theodyl sputtered as he struggled to change out of his sweaty bardic trappings.

“Pook is back, very much alive, and Sister Niabelis is leaving from the sewer gate in an estimated twenty seven minutes.” Paragon answered flatly. He is very annoyed.

“Paragon, not only do I apologize, but I also concede that you were right about my trip to the catacombs. You were right. Can we move on now, Sergeant?” Theodyl begged.

“Harrumph, the Sergeant is always right.” Paragon replied. The war-forged broke into laughter. His friends from the war gaming club joined him. The gnome, Moro strolled up to them with a silly look on his face. He's wearing a studded leather apron, thick leather gloves, a tool belt and a ridiculously bulging knapsack. Paragon has made him the equivalent of a camp water boy. He's laughing too.

“What?” Theodyl asked.

“You are out of uniform.” Paragon replied. There is a bundle in his arms.

Theodyl climbed into his supple new leathers and tried not to smile. After the war, Theodyl had burned his clothing and armor. It was supposed to cleanse him. He couldn't begin to count how many times he actually missed them in the last 10 years. Paragon went out and got him a new set. As he fiddled around with the straps, he was pleased to discover a few hidden sheaths and pockets. There is extra protection in all the important places and all the joints are sturdy, but flexible. It is a quality set of armor, he is very pleased.

“Satisfied?” Paragon asked.

“Yeah, you have been surprising me of late,” Theodyl replied.

“So have you,” the war-forged retorted, “You are very complicated.”

“I try.” Theodyl said with a shrug.

Paragon harrumphed and moved towards the front of the line. The war-forged are lining up. They are surprisingly quiet for their type. Theodyl decided to look into Paragon's little club after his troubles are over. Even with a city charter, an active group of veteran war-forged is going to draw attention. Maybe he can get some of them to come along when he and Paragon leave Sharn. Adventure and government just don't mix.

The half-elf found a place for all of his tools, he sheathed his sword and then threw his cloak over his shoulders. He breathed and tried not to think too much. It was how the scouts prepared during the war. Damn the war. How many times has he thought of the war in the last few days? Once would have been one time too many a few months ago. Did the war ever leave him behind?

“Hag Spit!” Theodyl cursed. They are leaving without him. Theodyl threw a House Cannith tabard over his head and struggled to get into cadence. His fingers played over the the strings of the harp bow. The song came slowly, he struggled to match the words to the rhythm of their steps.

“Oh the road is long and the ground is hard....the sun is hot and the pace is harsh....A battle calls from across the land....Lift up yer boots....It's not too far....Pick up the pace!....Leave the sun behind!.....Lift up yer boots.....Hold that banner high!....Pick up yer pace!....The battle's nigh!.....” Paragon 152 to 3 was the first to join the refrain. His friends joined in right after. The gnome was an enthusiastic last. With the power of over twice a dozen voices, Theodyl fell heart and soul into the song. The walls, arches and tunnels began to blur past. The song feeds on sound, the joy of those who sing along, and the innate spark of a bard's magic. The sound of their armored feet striking the floor will never travel far enough for anyone else to notice. If Theodyl can keep it up, they will beat Sister Niabelis by much more than an hour.


First Post
►Gate 57: Now with Veterans, Chapter 13

Sgt. Mogrin Ironson and his men waited at attention until the madwoman and her inquisitor pets came close enough to smell their pretty church-clean cloaks. Captain Rolland told him everything he needed to hear about the pompous cow. He fought alongside priests and chaplains during the war. He can respect them. Inquisitors get good men killed. They are zealots. This Niabelis woman is not killing any of his men.

“Sir! The Dog Soldiers salute you!” Sweet Lips, the new squad spokesman greeted Sister Niabelis. Rumors abound that he is supposed to be charming. He nearly tripped over his own banner. If he had stepped on it, he would have fainted, the Sergeant promised to skin him for such an infraction. Sgt. Ironson took three steps forward, saluted. The squad followed through with silent, professional precision.

“Well met...” the Sister started.

“Save it Lady, I don't care. We follow you, we kill the bastards. You and the good Captain get the credit. Me and the men get a bonus and a week's leave. It's good enough as long as we avenge our crews. And don't bother with the Look. If I was a bad seed, my mother would have dropped me in the well as a babe or my own men would've run me through in the battlefield as a man. My squad is ready to march, let's get going.” The Sergeant's Wrath of the Gods stare made the Sister Inquisitor blanch. Her mouth hung open.

“I won't forget this, mark my words. Let's go.” Sister Niabelis finally said. The Inquisitors behind her didn't even stick up to defend her. She will fix them later. All of them.

The squad broke into an easy march. Sister Niabelis and her men fell into step right behind. She handed the Sergeant the map as soon as she ripped the Brooch of Truth Telling from her breast. The Sister has had too much truth of late. What does an Inquisitor have to do to gain some respect?

Fifteen minutes into the excursion the Dog Soldiers ran into a choker ambush. The veterans barely slowed down enough to spit on their corpses. The Sergeant killed one all by himself. Sweet Lips pinned the other to the wall with the banner pole while the crossbow men snuffed it. The gilded spear tip came off. Sgt. Ironson made him tuck the banner away, it is stained, but he allowed the young man to live. The Sergeant gave the boy the evil eye. He went to war with the boy's paw, he was a part of the jail house levy, a criminal. He would drink too much, get into fights, and wipe out a tavern when he went into a rage. A berserker in the city is a hazard, in the field of battle, he is a godsend. Sgt. Ironson made a soldier and a church man out of that jailbird. There is a military grade bastard somewhere inside this young idiot, Sgt. Ironson means to find him.


Theodyl passed out fifteen minutes from the enemy. Paragon 152 to 3 fed him a restorative. Moro stayed with the bard, he's a fan. The war-forged is impressed, Theodyl cut their travel time in half. He half-wondered if his war hymns could possibly hold such power. They always make him feel good. Paragon ordered the changelings to scout ahead, he drew out his chapbook and looked for a something he hasn't sung lately.

Siff slipped on his fancy new ring and faded from sight. Patter cinched his new cloak and took to the air, borne on batwings. Ivor spent precious moments looking for his new toy. He found, instead, a note from Pook, calling him an idiot. He turned, Pook jabbed a Wand of Polymorph Other at his face. A heart beat later, a rat sped down the tunnel chased by a leopard wearing Ivor's lost Collar of the Cat. Paragon only let them pick one toy each out of the House Sivis swag. Pook is ahead of the game.

Moro Taller talked non-stop as Theodyl tried to ready his weapons. It seems the gnome spent all of his free time reading through the Guild library. He's never heard of the Bardic Song Theodyl used to speed their march. He wants to see his sources. The gnome doesn't get it. It wasn't a secret before Moro asked, now Theodyl would rather bed a spine fish than share.

There are six different tunnels leading to the Black Hand Tribe's new village. The pump rooms proved to be the perfect spawning grounds for the illicit mushroom beds. The sightless sludge crabs they love to eat literally spring out of the flood gates. Their blood maybe a little diluted since their forefathers came to Sharn, but goblins are very hardy. An enterprising group of goblins can go far with just the right location. Gronit Longheels sniffed at the sludge pit. There is something he needs to remember, but it keeps slipping away. He squatted down to see if he can catch a nice juicy crab.

“What are you doing slave?” The war-forged demanded as he stalked up to the goblin.

“Slave?” Gronit asked as he turned.

The war-forged mage caught the goblin's gaze and used a spell to suck away its will. The meat-bag blinked stupidly as the mage gave it a strict set of instructions. Somehow the words didn't stick. The war-forged made a fist, but then paused. Killing slaves will just make more work for his team mates.

“Slave, go to there. Stand guard. Watch tunnel. Outsiders come, slave ring bell.” The war-forged stated slowly. The goblin did as instructed and got to live another day.

Skullstaff released the short crooked staff that is his name sake. Once, it was a lich who tried the Lord of Blades' patience, now it serves the cause. It stood there and waited for it's master's will. The war-forged touched an odd necklace about it's neck. It is a skeletal hand, human, clutching a dragonshard. Watch, and call me if anything else goes wrong, the mage commanded through it. The red jewels set into the skull's eye sockets flashed, it isn't allowed to speak without orders.

Siff slipped behind the war-forged mage and followed invisibly in it's footsteps. In the shadows, a leopard and a rat are watching. A changeling with bat wings is sitting on a pipe overhead, he's got a bow.

The lich-staff didn't say a thing. It had called the master as instructed when the changelings walked past the stupid goblins. The master didn't bother to ask for details, the lich-staff didn't offer any. The war-forged saw the stupid goblin by the sewage pond and drew it's own conclusions. The mage should have been more specific with the last set of instructions it forced upon it's will. Though trapped, the essence of the lich can make use of the arrogant idiocy of it's masters. It may not remember it's own name, but it will soon be free. It is too damned crazy to lose hope.

Pook stalked off to find out as much as he possibly can about the battlefield. Ivor shook off the multitude of rat thoughts plaguing his mind. He sighted the alarm system. He stole the bell clapper, then the bell, and finally the rope. The bell and the clapper went into the sludge. Ivor then used the rope to make a snare. A few long minutes later Pook returned. Ivor greeted him with a rude gesture, Pook ignored him. He shook off his cat form and signaled Patter to sit and watch. Ivor found a neat hiding space and did the same. Pook pulled out a scroll and a stylus. He drew a map of the goblin chambers, jotted down important details, and marked off all the empty dwellings. Pook then shifted to Leopard form and sprinted towards Paragon. The goblin guards stared at the big cat and did nothing. It is just a cat, they will know an outsider when they see one, they are not stupid. If they bothered to look behind them, they would have noticed the changelings at work. They are supposed to watch the tunnels though, not the village.

The lich-staff watched the changelings go about their business. It's orders include watching the slaves to make sure they do their job and don't wander off. There is nothing about intruders other than to signal the master whenever something gets past the guardian meat bags. There are no orders about other creatures leaving so it doesn't have to report the leopard's exit. The part of it's mind not bound by the master's commands collected as much information as possible. In a pinch, it is convinced that it will be able to take advantage of the situation. The goblins are useless as pawns, but these other creatures might be useful. Thankfully, the changelings didn't touch the crates. It would have had to report them.

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

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