Most new adventures begin in a tavern with ale, cheap entertainment and often rowdy groups and drinkers. Not this time. It is a place of food consumption and drinking but unlike most. The average meal costs more than a Gold piece and is to be eaten slowly…. Savoring each morsel. The wines are often Elven. If they are from Aundair, it is from the very best vineyards. The meals are often imported from other countries and continents. House Ghallanda gives it a five making it one of three such restaurants on Khorvaire.

Speaking of the great house, they of course over see it. Humans, elves and half-elves work here with a few halflings mixed in within the kitchen. Unknown to the people here, behind the paper wall where the music comes from sits a Lillend quietly singing and playing harp mixing a hint of calming charms into the tunes.

The sound other than her music is the occasional tink of glasses when toasting or stifled laugh at a good tale being told or a deal done. Speaking of deals being done, let us go to the window seat where only the richest and most powerful may sit to dine. Today, Viorr Maelak is here enjoying his homeland’s finest scotch with his roasted boar while deciding to finance an adventure into new territory or just enjoy a meal with a family friend. Athas Faerun.

Viorr is a plump dwarf. Not fat, there is muscle under the layers of skin and the layers of elegant dark leather clothes. Beads of platinum, gold, silver and jewels are threaded onto his beard. Many of these represent his family history and exploits. The expensive silk and leather shirt is dyed black with gold and silver lining. Each finger, including his thumbs have at least one ring. It is understood some of these are strong magics of protection.

Across from him sits a half-elf young male. The young blonde is dressed well but not like the dwarf. This young man graduated and now works at Morgrave University. His father was a successful merchant during the war but now is retired. His mother remains at home with him. She keeps busy trying to marry Athas and his two sisters- Gemma and Memma (twins).

Let us pause and listen in on their conversation-

“Has the headmaster forgiven you for the incident in Q’barra?” questions the dwarf between sniffing his drink and taking a sip of it. Then with a barely detectable smile, he gulps the remainder of the small glass of alcohol.

‘Yes….. until he tries to get a traveling pass through SE Karrnath. Wish they understood it was a joke.”

“Stealing the jeweled ring of the first Kaius from a museum? Long memory. Longer grudge.”

“Borrowed.” Athas laughs, “I borrowed it to sneak into the royal mansion to steal something else.”

The dwarf smiles and hopes to learn what was taken but gets no answer. He didn’t expect one. “So, if you can still travel, why contact me?”

“Always so perceptive Viorr. One of the many things I like about you.”

“I procure deals with thousands of gold weekly. I understand flattery.”

“Of course you do.”

“Athas, let me cut to the chase so that I may enjoy the rest of my meal. When you first contacted me I was surprised. It was your father whom befriended my family. You and the rest were not part of it. I knew you wanted something. I had my house aids look into it.”

“Go on.” Motions Athas while looking at his glass of wine.

“Karvas found you have been fairly well behaved ever since that incident. You spent most of your free time away from aiding the senior teachers researching. The top subjects you researched were most interesting. Draconic Prophecies, ancient history and….. nearly religious fever of buying the Korranberg Chronicle.”

Smiling, the charming half-elf motions for him to continue as he takes some wine.

“it is our belief you wish to go on an expedition again….. to the Shadow Marches and that curse of the land that has recently been discovered.”

“You are a cautious dwarf Viorr.”

“Master Maelak. Your father can call me by my first name….. not you.”

“Yes. Master Maelak, I am indeed seeking to travel to the northern section of the Shadow Marches and explore the area referred to as “The Hidden”.

“Hah. The Hidden. Indeed.”

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“So, you wish for a ship from Sharn to Yrlag, other monies for supplies and equipment. Who will go with you?

“Well, keep in mind I’m trying to keep the costs down. For muscle…. Ever hear of the Wroat Wraiths?”

“Should I?” Viorr says with a deep sigh and crossed arms.

“They were the Breland Hrazhak Champions in 998…..”

“Hrazhak?!? HRAZHAK?!?” The dwarf calls out in a mix of anger and frustration. A few other diners are now watching with irritation.

“Kara was a top idol defender for two seasons in a row. Now she wants to explore the world.”

“Why is SHE not still playing the game? Injuries? Injured protectors are not good protectors.”

“She…. Ah…. Is not welcome there anymore.”

The dwarf (and evesdroppers) pause to listen for a reason……

“She kinda ripped out the groin of an overly friendly fan.”

“Does this list get better? Do you have a mage?”

“emerald” Athas whispers.

“Emerald? Who is….. wait- that’s your fool girlfriend! She is no mage. She is a flirty girl from a privileged family looking for a thrill!”

Undeterred, Athas goes on. The dwarf cuts him off.

“What will I get for helping you?”

“Fame and Fortune.”

The dwarf stares with burning hard eyes filled with doubt.


VULT 26, 999

“Isn’t it beautiful Athas?” The young woman dressed in green leather and cloth looks out the window of the moving Electric cart. Even her hair is seen as green. Hearing no reply she adds- “I love the trees and the river through this section. It is sooooo romantic.” Still hearing nothing for a reply, she looks over to her lover.

Athas Faerun is concentrating on a large tome with loose pages and a badly damaged spine. The title is written in a language she doesn’t know but he has translated to her before- “Rise and Fall of the Aberrational Lords.” She also knows that when Morgrave learns he has “borrowed” this book outside of the library he most likely have his membership revoked.

“Oh Sorry M, I was reading.” The young man is smitten with her bright eyes and smile. Her body is pretty awesome also. “It is beautiful riding from Sharn to Wroat by Electric Rail.”

“Can we stop at Denver’s in Wroat? I just love the silk scarves he sells.”

“Most definitely we can. Most anything for you my love.”

“Most? Not guaranteed?” She gets up from the window seat and removes her short vest and steps up to him.

“Should we close the blinds to the windows?”

“Let them watch.” And she giggles.

Very shortly they arrive at Wroat. Tall walls reinforced by magic stand tall and proud around the capital city. The Orien rail station is placed just on the outside of these walls. The first class (passengers with their own rooms) are allowed off first. Nobles, merchants and Athas come off and stop at the gate to show their traveling papers.

The guard looks over Athas’ papers with some interest. He has traveled widely this year and has stamp marks from nearly every major city on Khorvaire. The guard notes the source of occupation- Morgrave University and sighs with a frown as he stamps the papers. Another rich spoiled scholar.

A different guard looks over Lana Saylore’s papers. Though not as traveled as her boyfriend, she has traveled through the five main countries often this year. Almost always with Athas but sometimes with her mother or siblings. “Why are you here Mistress Saylore?”


Thinking about how shallow this woman is, the guard rolls his eyes and stamps her papers. The two of them enter Wroat through the SE gate. First they go through the merchant section. As promised, they stop at Denver’s. This half-elf runs a fine silk and clothing shop. Sometimes he even has silk from Sarlona (at top gold coin + )

They also stop at Dervitos Tomes and Readings. The dwarf sells many tomes, books and scrolls found in Xen’drik and beyond. It is a favorite stopping place of Athas’. Looking for anything that can help them he looks into ancient history and finds nothing. He then gossips with the dwarf scholar while Emerald looks around. Books generally bore her. As a sorcerer, her magic comes from within. She doesn’t read and study magic theory to utilize it.

They leave with shared goodbyes and good adventures and head north. They leave the merchant area and reach the Howling River. The river moves quickly down the deep walls which give it it’s name- a gentle and almost haunting howl can be heard. They cross the bridge built by Cannith and Orien builders and on the opposite side of the river they walk along into an area lacking law authorities. As they go deeper into the slums Emerald pulls her vest tight to cover up her exposed body and watches carefully for trouble.

“Is this necessary Athas? Wouldn’t she come to the rail station and meet us?”

“She trusted I had the money…. Perhaps.”

Looking up at some flags she doesn’t recognize, she asks about them. “Team flags. We are entering the right area now. She said she was in the building with a bar below and a tall burch tree flying her team’s flag.”

“The Wroat Wraiths.”

“Yes. White shifters made to look ghost like on a black background.”

“Like that one Athas?” She says looking up but not pointing. She has traveled enough with him to know pointing draws attention. Often unwanted attention.

“There is a shifter cub there. Maybe it can tell us where she is.”

“Hello. Can you possibly help us?” asks Emerald.

Though maybe only four, the cub growls then crosses its arms and gives a pouty look of defiance.

Without much thought, Athas pulls out a copper and offers it to the shifter child. She snatches it so quickly he checks for missing fingers. “Can you tell us where Kara is?”

Licking the coin she points up the stairs behind her.

They begin to walk up the wooden steps. There is liter and stains of all sorts (including blood) on the steps that creak and groan as they watch up. Emerald gives Athas a look of uncertainty while thinking of spell combinations for bandits and disease.

At the top are two doors. One is open and one is closed. The open door has the name Kara scratched into it.

Emerald wrinkles her nose at the smell coming out. “Smells…. Like BO and rot. Yuckie-poo”

Athas thinking it smells of a bard’s song he once heard- “Sex and Candy”. He knew Kara was down on her luck. It why she agreed at such a low wage for such a dangerous expedition.

Knock knock

“Hello? Hello Kara…. Kara you here?

Emerald frowns as a rat big enough to be a dire scampers down the hall behind them. It encourages the two to step into the apartment. A sound is heard from a linking room. Athas removes the dagger from his belt and Emerald’s hands glow green as they step up….. and….. Athas quickly spins about on his heel and Emerald pales. The shifter has fallen asleep half on the bed …. Very naked. Her pack and a set of clothes are piled on the floor next to an empty alcohol bottle.

The two look at each other in disbelief then smirk and begin to giggle at what they had just seen. The giggling awakens Kara. She rolls off the bed onto her clothes making little noise. Still lacking clothes, she stumbles out of the room, between the two and gives a yawning noncommittal notice and kicks around in the debris of the main room. Finds three empty bottles. Then she spots a bit of food. Sniffing it, she draws back her head but then tongue tastes the food. Shrugs her shoulders and begins to take small nibbles of the food.

Then the mental light comes on.

“Oh….hi. You are……?”

A difficult to translate goblin written message...... SHAD 02.jpg

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