John play: Hero for hire


Aryth 04

“What can you see?”

John Play doesn’t hear her. He is concentrating on what lies before him. There is a deep short valley with no growth near the peak of the mountain top. No plants grow here, only bare rock with gas and vapors leaking from under the larger rocks and small cracks.

At the bottom of the valley are the remains of a temple or some sort of ruin. Next to these is a large cavern entrance. All of this is important but what keeps his attention is the small fire elemental powered airship that hovers over the barren space. Looking at the air ship he sees no insignia or title on it. No national flag or dragonmark either. Not many have the personal income to own one. An Aurum member could afford one, some have two even but they generally avoid fiends. Perhaps a rogue Lyrandar agent? Maybe even a House Cannith agent?

Seeing no movement or people on the ship he looks back to the ruins. Barbarians. Not many but they are there. Mixed in with them are Warforged and horned red-skinned tailed creatures. Horns’ length
Suggests true fiends, not teiflings. Odd company.

“Well? Do you see him? My brother? Challah?”

“No. But he is not alone.” He shimmies back away from the edge and she follows. “The search for your brother just got a bit complicated. Many groups are involved and it looks like something various national groups would to know about it.”


“Meaning we can’t just go down and grab your brother.”

“I knew that already.”

“When it involves fiends, I don’t take much lightly. Now that there is a very rich and possibly powerful human group there . I’m obligated to learn more and let Breland know about this.” He turns to look at her. “I need to go in alone.”


“I have the skills…. You do not. I will return after and TOGETHER we will get your brother.”

Night falls and Shasta remains back hidden in with a lone heat damaged pine tree and some boulders as he begins to creep up the side of the hillside as silently as he can. The fire from the ship gives him some light to see by but it is still difficult to move through the loose stone and make no sounds. He drops into the valley away from the ruins and ship. He finds through the sense of smell a dead barbarian body. He hesitates and looks at the body. The fingers are raw. As if he had been clawing at stone for days. Many shallow cuts on his arms and legs suggest this also. Fine bits of rock and dust cling to his hair and armor. He was mining from the looks of it. He looks at the boots… burnt. But with … cooled molten rock? Was he mining Khyber shards? That may explain the ship if it is a Cannith agent here. Also supports the number of Warforged he has seen during the day.

He moves closer and searches the grounds for possible foes and hidden guards. There are none. Why would there be? Location alone should deter any sane person from coming here. Too bad for them. He is rarely considered sane. He ducks behind a cart as a Warforged comes out with another cart. It has earth and stones within it. Once he has moved far enough ahead he creeps forward to the mouth of the cave. He waves his hand over a pocket on his belt. A potion appears at the top of the pocket which he takes up and drinks without pause. He takes a few breathes to allow it to enter his stomach and then his blood. He closes his eyes and holds them for a moment then blinks them open. All sense of color is lost but everything is seen in clear and vibrant shades of grey. Dark Vision.

He moves into the cave and inspects the crowd. He notes the look of the fiend, barbarian and Warforged tracks. If he sees these inside he will know what they are. If sees something else, he will know this also. Hot air filled with sulfur blows out of the dark bowels of the mountain that mark the boundary between Demon Wastes and the Eldeen Reaches.

Walking in slowly, he reaches a fork in the path. The main path has the cart tracks. The other path, a smaller one, has a few of the horned fiend’s tracks only. He ducks into this one as a Warforged comes back with his empty cart. Play hears the barbarians even before the Warforged as they race at full speed out of the cave. He gives the living construct a few moments head start then follows. There is a large column of stone that he uses for cover. The servant continues on into the dark. Occasionally the miner bumps into things proving he has no dark vision. Occasionally there is a crack that bright orange light seeps out of. Knowing the answer already, Play peers down into a crack and sees molten lava pools down below. Great. This is an inactive volcanic vent. Dangerous place to be… even for a Warforged.

Moving up he sees how the larger space breaks into several branches again. Once more, he follows the Warforged deeper into the vent. He passes an area that had food and bedding. It reeks of unwashed bodies and rotting things. The barbarians he saw earlier possibly were staying here, not just outside.

He hears the Warforged fall without saying a word or even a grunt. It picks itself up and rights the cart and retries to go down a stone ramp that leads somewhere his dark vision cannot see due to its limited range. With a silent sigh, he moves up again to the edge of the ramp where the Warforged slipped. Looking into the chamber he sees a winged woman speaking to several barbarians, an old woman and something he can only call a demon. Its skin is dark and its eyes and smile are wicked and glow white even within the limits of the dark vision spell. Its beard seems to move as if on its own. The woman stops suddenly and shouts in a harsh language of the demons and points his way. Crap! He thinks and he begins to back tread. He ducks into a narrow tunnel and watches as the barbarians move down the path to the large room.

A sudden explosion of fire blows the barbarians back into fiery screaming projectiles whom bounce off of the walls with sickening thuds and grunts as they then fall to the hard floor. “PLAY!” He hears Shasta yell out. “PLAY Where are you?!?” she yells again. “I can’t see in here… augh… what is that smell?” She screams as John grabs her arm and [pulls her into a hidden nook in the chamber as a Warforged carrying a torch in one hand and wielding their unique arm blade in the other comes by.

“What happened to stay and I’ll be back?” Play growls in obvious anger.

“The barbarians came running out and went up the hill where I was waiting. They knew where I was. They knew”

A Warforged is creeping back their way. Searching. Play pulls out his club. It is something his mother made. It is designed to take down constructs… even living constructs. It walks past him they suddenly stops but too late. Its neck snaps as the club strikes the metal head and jerks it hard to the left. Play struggles a bit to pull the Warforged deeper into the passage. “Your call… retreat or go in.” He knew the answer before asking.

“Ah-HAH!” snarls the fiend with the dark skin and moving beard. It thrusts with its angry looking blade but misses. Play rapidly beats on the fiend causing it call out in pain. Shasta strikes it with her Magic Missile spell uncertain if her fire spells would have any effect on it.

It snarls something again and goes to attack again. Both jabs miss. Play strikes rapidly again. The blows seem to not strike as solidly as he had expected but the fiend goes down still. The animated beard is truly alive. As in they are snakes.

“We’re not in Sharn anymore.” Is all he can say in bewilderment.

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Aryth 04 996

John Play rushes as quickly as he can towards the entrance. He is cursing Shasta quietly to himself. Based on the alarms and sounds around him, Shasta or someone has caused a ruckus. It will be much harder to do anything this way.

“There!” shouts someone or more than likely- a something. Play runs around the corner and runs into a Warforged worker. Play strikes the confused construct several times with his club shattering sections of it. He sees the exit and runs for it in a burst of energy. The airship that was there has let down a rope ladder. At the base are several Warforged and two men, one dressed in black and the other in bright blue.

“Challah!” John looks to his right and sees Shasta. She is being held by a Warforged. Other Warforged turn and move between Play and the rope ladder. The barbarians watch with great interest. The fiends remain inside out of the sun light.

The man in blue motions to a group of warforged and barbarians, he seems to be the leader. The constructs quickly move towards Play while the barbarians take the time to collect their weapons. “Ooops!”

“Who are these two?” the apparent leader asks. Challah motions to Shasta- “sister of Challa” He…. An old playmate.”

“Really? How quaint. However we have things to do, people to kill and empires to grow. Lets go.”

Play runs several ideas of the hows and whys things will play out. None look good. How did he get into this spot? Oh yeah, hired by a woman to seek her missing brother. Brother is a top assassin. The top assassin is possessed by Whisper. Find him but also find other fiends and of all things Warforged and their makers. Wanted to know what was up. This looked like it was more important than just a missing person. And with that I got stupid. She was more stupid. Now we die.

A barbarian steps into his path and rears back to strike him. He drops and slides on the gravel passing under the confused barbarian. As this barbarian turns to see what has happened the next barbarian is airborne and strikes him. As Play easily moves through another native the look on the leader changes from boredom to lack of humor to surprise. “Get us out of here.” Several of the Warforged move in. “Crimson, Gore, you too.”

Two of the Warforged that stood beside him step up. Lines of red pulsing energy emit from their bodies. The lines of energy seem to originate from a small round metal and crystal globe embedded in their chests.

The leader is now hanging on the rope ladder and watching the young hero attempting to out maneuver the rush of warriors. “How do you know your playmate?”

“I have faced him twice before. He was once an agent of the Dark Lanterns of Breland. He has since left the group and now hires himself out.”

“Interesting. There is something about him that intrigues me. Try to take him alive.”

“Dangerous. He is a cunning and lucky brat-bastard of a kid. I would advise against it.”

“I wish to know more about him. Humor me.”

“Very well Zinter d’Cannith. We will try to take him alive. And the woman?”

“Bring her also. She can be leverage against the brat-bastard and your host.”


Aryth 05 996

The man dressed in black is Challa ir’Yanger. But he is truly even more. The body is his, the assassin skills are his but his mind is shared with a fiend. This fiend has faced John Play before. It knows the dangers of having him on board the airship. But Zinter wants him. Why? What does the artificer want with this ex-government spy? What does he see? What does he see that others do not?

The assassin stares down at the beaten but unconscious man. It could kill him easily now. A mere flick of a claw or blade on his soft throat…. Wrist…. Or just cut out his heart. But then the game would end. The game was fun.

Before acting on any of its fatalistic impulses, the assassin’s keen ears can hear the artificer’s soft leather shoes on the wood beyond the closed door. The door opens and he walks in. His two augmented Warforged guards are now with him.

“We are over the water now. How is my guest?”


“Even so soft spoken I can denote your feelings for him.”

“It is nothing.” Challa seems to whispers as the fiend uses his voice.

“So, what can you tell me again of him?”

“He is dangerous.”

“No need to repeat yourself. What else?”

“He works as a hero for hire. He uses his government training. He is a highly skilled combatant.”

“He is so much more. I can almost see the magic within him. Does he bare a dragonmark?”

“As a government agent he is not allowed to be a family member. You should already know this.”

With his head still pointed down at the prone man, Zinter’s eyes rise to stare at the assassin and smirks. “True.”

“You mentioned he was lucky. Truth or are you a sore loser?”

“He has physical abilities, a sharp sense of things before they happen. And he is highly unpredictable. He has many resources, legal and illegal. He is a ladies man.”

“ahhhh… you’re just jealous Whisper. And a Brat-bastard….. after all of this time we are still name calling?” John slurs out as he can’t pretend to be asleep any further.

“Charming. I am most curious about you Mister Play. I study anything and everything magic. Especially magic that is “outside of the box” if you wish. Taboo even. Much like my Warforged. I sense something within you. Magic…. But I can’t describe it. What is it prey tell?”

“Go hug a rope.”

“I had hoped to know without cutting you like any new found construct but such is the will of Ollandra.”

“Let go and talk to your “sister” once more before reaching Stormhome.”

“Try anything…. And my friend here will kill you.”

“Do try something……”

“Can I entertain myself with some thoughts of death and destruction? Or is that illegal also?” Play says smiling and winking at Challa.

[ I will enjoy killing you slowly brat bastard ] the creature that has possessed the assassin communicates telepathically.

The door closes and most of the lighting disappears. John sighs deeply then immediately begins to work on his bindings. “ugh. Damned fiend knows how to tie a damned good knot.” Failing to free himself he looks around his cell. It is a near empty storage room. No windows…. The only light is lighting seeping in through the floor boards above him. He sees a barrel…. Some curled up rope hanging on a peg… a few empty wine bottles… two small open crates with straw sticking out… and a lot of dust. Crude but the bottle will have to do. He begins to work his way over to the nearest bottle. “This will hurt…..” He pushes his body up with one hand and swings the bottle under himself with the other…. The sound is silenced but the pain is there…. Will need to buy a new pair of pants….


Aryth 05 996

Guards in the hull were easy enough. Zinter and the demon must be upstairs with Shasta. Possibly the Captain’s room.

He silently climbs the ladder to the top. Twilight. Cool air. Damp. Seagulls. Over water or near the shore. Eldeen bay.

Eight minutes later

“Knock Knock” and the door slowly open to the captain’s room. Zinter, his two augmented Warforged bodyguards and Challa surround Shasta whom is tied up to a chair in the center of the room. “Sigh. You were right. We should have killed him. If you may….”

John backs up. He knew this had to be done. There was no other way. (at least none as much fun) Is there risk? Yes. (but a Siberys shard could fall outta the sky and kill you)

“Play.” Challa whispers while pulling out his short sword.

“Challa…. Or do you prefer Whisper?” Play retorts while beginning to mirror the opponent’s movements.

“Shasta says you and her came to find me…. Challa. True?”

“Yuppersiree.” Play never takes his eyes off of the assassin. “Why are you with Cannith head here?”

“My people and his both want…. Certain things that can be… attained quicker… together.”

“Well- nuh-duh horn head. I gathered that already.” He shifts quickly as the assassin feints in one direction. Zinter watches on. He is enjoying the show.

“Cannith… wants better… construct warriors….” The assassin swings and jabs at the Dark lantern.

“Train them better then.” Play swings his club weaving it low then up catching the assassin’s leg then two more swings into his side. “Or I’ll beat them down like I am you!”

[you are ever a brat bastard Play]

“Outta my head ya demon!”

“Someday I will have you Play. It is only a matter of time.” The possessed assassin attempts again but misses.

“I have broken at least one rib and your knee looks funny. Do I have to kill your host again or will you just back to Khyber on your own?” This time two club shots strike dislocating the off arm shoulder of Challa.

“NOOOOOOOO! DON’T” screams out Shasta.

“Relax my dear. I am curious about this. I wish to watch more.” Replies Zinter with a calm that scares her more than the thought of the demon possessing her brother.

The assassin attempts to trick Play but it fails. Play sees through his feint. “So, how are you people helping the Canniths?”

The assassin spits out some blood. Play doesn’t watch where it lands. He knows better than to take his eyes off of the assassin. “We gather shards for him. Shards he shapes into round gems to empower and place into the constructs.”

“Docents?!?” Surprised for a half of a second the assassin attacks. It is all that is needed as the assassin lunges forward and catches Play in the leg.

“Nice one.”

[even if you do this…. Kill this body…. I will get you…]

“Get out of my head!” Concentrating more on the possibility of being possessed play takes his focus off of the assassin for a split moment. The short sword into his side reminds him of the immediate danger he faces. “Sorry Shasta….” Play swings up breaking the wrist of the assassin making him drop his weapon. Still following through the motion he turns 360 in a downward motion and takes the feet out from under the assassin then with a final sweep down crushes in his head. The sound of the bone breaking is overshadowed by Shasta’s scream. Zinter d’Cannith frowns. “I didn’t see anything that marks you as magical. What are you Play?”

“Your worst nightmare”

“Boring. Crimson, Gore…. If you please.”



Aryth 05 996

“Two vs. One? And you’re demonized. WTF? Is that really fair?”

The two Warforged cautiously walk to either side of Play. They have seen what the assassin could do and have seen what Play did to him. They are very careful.

Shasta cries and wails at the death of her brother. Zinter watches. He is studying Play. Why does he sense magic within him?

“So tell me if you have heard of this one- Why did the Warforged cross the road?”

“Is this kind of banter always expected from him?” Zinter asks Shasta. She drops her head in defeat and weeps deeply for her killed brother. “Something he or I said?” A loud crack is heard and the artificer turns to see one of his Warforged has severe damage. “Ah… I see…. The weapon is designed to damage Warforged. “That is cheating Mr. Play.”

Both of the Warforged attack at once swinging their oversized battleaxes. Play doges and tumbles out of the way.

Once more misdirecting his attack Play attacks the same Warforged warrior again. Large chunks of metal and glowing red wood splinter from its leg as Play’s club of demolition and deadly precision hits hard. The warforged turns and glares at him.

The Warforged work as a team and one strikes Play.

“Great- now I have to repair the pants AND the jacket.”

“Your hero seems to think himself to be funny.” Says Zinter while still watching the fight looking for Play’s magical secret (if there is one). Shasta stops sobbing. Zinter fails to notice.

Play tumbles around the severely damaged construct and stands up quickly. “Hey Mo!” and strikes it on the head twisting the head around and the jar pops free on one side. It staggers and falls.

The other rushes him quickly. It misses but only by a hairs width. Play rolls and shifts away from the creature.

“Not enjoying the show?” Zinter asks as he finally looks down at Shasta. Her silence is wrong and out of place but doesn’t comprehend it or what it means. Instead, he slowly walks over the downed Warforged and searches for a means to correct the magical signature that gives it life. The influence of the infernal energies makes it harder for him to do so but he figures it out. He structures the arcane matrix in his mind that will repair the construct.

Play begins to move with a carefree attitude now that he has reduced the threat to only one foe. He has briefly forgotten about the artificer.

Play tries to finish off the Warforged but misses. He smiles and shrugs his shoulders as if the miss means nothing. A big mistake as the Warforged flares up in fiendish energy (smite good) and hits him twice. Play screams out in pain. Zinter watches while reconstructing the energy matrix. Still no sign of the magic. “Finish off the Lantern Gore.”

Play smashes the armor plate that covers the left side of its chest. If a normal person were in armor it would have caused trauma to its heart. Play spots Gore arriving. He waits for it then swings mightily. He does crucial damage to it as it is caught off guard but then he stops and freezes. Gore isn’t the reason. Nor is it Zinter. Behind him is a new danger.

“I….can’t…stop……” Shasta raises her arms and makes a few arcane gestures then points at Play.

Zinter follows his look and begins to call out but it is too late. Shasta releases a fireball. Play dodges it easily. The fireball washes over the newly revived Warforged. Small specks of fire remain on the deck of the magical airship treated to resist flames. “Damn you woman!” and Zinter pulls out a wand to attack with.

“Leave her alone!” yells out Play as he knows Shasta is no longer in control of her own body. Whisper controls it now. She is demonically possessed. Her anger and sorrow has allowed it in.

Deck hands begin to appear out of nowhere. Some scream out “Fire!” and others just freeze at the sight of the Warforged and flames.

Zinter calls up a powerful ball of sonic energy and strikes her with it. “ARRRGH! This deal is over Cannith. I end it now!” And she / it fires another fireball but at the Dragonmarked Artificer.

A gnome that pilots the ship demands everyone to stop using magic. Shasta unleashes her next spell at him. He doesn’t even scream.

The Warforged attack Play still as their last commands given demanded. Being distracted, play is struck several times. “Too much happening at once… even for my tastes.”

Zinter begins to have a magical battle with the possessed sorcerer. Play wants to help her but knows it is too late. Whisper will kill her to get at him. Instead he moves clear of the Warforged to have a moment to think and plan.

Black tentacles break up the floor boards at Zinter’s feet. They reach for him to grab him. He levitates up a few feet to avoid the attack. Play looks at the fire damage, the dead pilot, the weakened structure…. A plan begins to form. Not a perfect one by any means, but a plan of desperation.

Play climbs the arm that holds the restraining clasp for the elemental that empowers the airship. He tightens the grip on his magical club. Several of the men spot him and call out for him to stop. The Warforged attempt to climb after him.

More spells are caste. Shasta should be defeated but the power of the demon within her empowers her. Visible signs of damage appear on the deck of the ship. Without a pilot, it continues onward into the open sky over the water.

Play kicks a Warforged creation off of the retaining arm. It falls onto the deck and splinters it creating a hole. The second construct ignores the obvious danger and climbs further. Play kicks this one off also. It falls and creates new damage into the ship’s hull. Zinter causes a burst of light then turns invisible. Shasta, burnt and broken, looks for a foe to attack. She looks up through the smoke and flame. Staring at Play she smiles and raises her wand to fire magic Missiles at him.

“I’m sorry….” Play strikes the arm with his weapon designed to damage non-living things. The arm cracks and the fire leaps. The ship shudders then begin to dip. Play pops a potion and allows himself to fall off the arm and over the side of the ship…. 1000’s of feet over the water.

Falling, he looks up at the ship. The bottom of the hull has two metal legs sticking out of it. One of the fallen constructs. The circle of flames shudders again then shrinks and there is a fiery explosion as the ring collapses onto the ship. His descent slows down as the potion’s effects kick in. The ship falls quickly and zips past him. Shasta, watches him solemnly. He watches it for what seems like minutes as it suddenly stops and is surrounded by a white circle as the ship strikes the sea below.

Before he can reach it the ship sinks. Shasta with it.

The first story arc is complete. I hope this time I don't take such a huge time off from writing as I felt it hurt the flow of the tale.

The next arc is one I have been looking forward to writing for a loooong time now.

Feel free to comment.


Orlune 25, 994

I really didn’t know what to expect. I was in Karrnath looking for an exposed double agent when it happened. When Eberron stood still. I was contacted in the usual way and redirected to the northern most borders of Cyre. Cyre was on the retreat from fighting deep into Karrnath when it happened. It being what I am here for.

All communication suddenly ended from within Cyre on Orlune 20th. What was described to me as a thick magical storm cloud hugged to the ground does not describe it enough. I listen to both the Cyrian and Karrnathi soldiers and survivors. Something huge happened. Something that defies nature and all reason. When these mists or grey clouds… whatever you want to call them, they concealed everything within. Are the people of Cyre within alive? Are they trapped? Breland needs to know. Early intel suggests massive destruction on a necromantic level. Karrnath is suspect but its weird ruler says no. Others suggest Cannith finally lost control of a powerful weapon.

I am nearing the mists. Breland needs to know more. I have been asked to learn more. By the Host… the only way at this point for me to truly know what has happened inside is to enter the mists. My heart is pounding like it never has. I truly have no idea what to expect.

I have left the usual notes and messages for the Lanterns to find of everything I know for now. I hope to return to give further intel.


Aryth 25 996

We begin this tale within a tall tower between Morgrave University and the Platinate towers. Located on the Menthis Plateau in Sharn, the Osborne Tower is noted for two things. The penthouse levels are owned by the government of Breland (thus rumored to have Dark lantern / Sword connections) but run by the halflings of Jorasco. The levels below that are exclusive condos sold to government friends and agents. Several of the 100 Year War greatest generals live here. Others live within the penthouse complex. The Jorasco Veteran’s Home was a joint attempt by Breland and the halflings to make the last years of the aged or disabled generals and top soldiers of Breland comfortable.

The “hero” of this Storyhour is John Play. He lives within this tower. As an ex-Dark lantern he has certain specials rights. But most agree he has a room here because of his father and mother. His mother was a Wands agent and a non-Cannith weapons builder for the government and his father was a top personal body guard for the king himself. He died saving the king from an assassin’s arrow. More on this in another later storyhour.

His apartment / condo overlook The Dancing Dragon. It is a very popular night time spot on the edge of the University that is the home of a huge (30x30ft) stained glass window image of a dancing Copper Dragon. It is rumored to be magical (it is, the dragon is a stain-glass golem) and a favorite place of John’s. He enjoys the drinks here, the company of the university’s young female students, and the intel provided by the owner. But enough of the Dancing Dragon, the story for John Play begins at his apartment within the Osborne Tower.

John Play is relaxing after a less than happy ending mission involving an Aundairan aristocrat, her assassin brother, a known demonic possessor and possible bad things to come Cannith employee. He lays on his favorite couch with a Jorasco fruit drink at his side and reading a book about demons, devils and their evil kin. He hears a knock on the door and tries to ignore it. A second series homing knocks can be heard now. Frowning, he sets down the book and takes a quick sip from the glass and goes to the door.

“Look I don’t have any money to……. Oh!” Play opens the door abruptly and expects money collectors for one of the many of the post-war city false charities. Instead he is faced with the stony stares of two dwarves. Kundarak Dwarves that is.

“Sir John Play I presume.” Says the lead dwarf. This dwarf is weighed down by shining jewelry of various makes and types. Some magical. The symbol of the Dragonmarked house of wards (the bankers and protection of material stuff) hangs as a badge with gold and platinum wire thread. A large dragonmark tattoo covers half of his face and can be seen reaching out from his cuff of his leather armor. Either a greater mark or a Siberys mark…..

“Who is asking?”

“High Warden Disney d’Kundarak. This is my associate and records keeper- Balderk d’Kundarak. May we come in?”

Play looks over his “records keeper” and notes his Heavy mace, and a slight bulge at his belt that could be a wand….or two. Kundarak….trouble. “Sure- Please come on in. Drink? I have some Karrnathi cheese…..”

“No. We are here on business.”

Play tries to remember if he has forgotten any outstanding bills but can think of nothing. “Business?”
Balderk faces forward but his eyes roam the room. He notes the possessions within the room and loses his posture slightly as his eyes read the title of the book Play was reading when they arrived.

“We have come to you to offer work and considerable payment for services rendered.” The High Warden notes the sigh of relief Play lets out. He makes a mental note to research if Play or his family does still owe the house anything. “Do you have possible interest in working with us on a sensitive subject matter close to us?”

Thinking if he says no he will be black listed from future encounters with the banking dwarves, he decides he has no real choice in the matter. “What kind of subject?”

“I have been told as an operative for the Breland Government you have traveled into the Mournland before. Each time you have succeeded in your set mission and survived. We, as the world’s greatest bankers, have little to do with the Mournland normally. We have no agents of our own that have ventured into the lands (….and returned). We have need of an educated scout. One whom has been there before, survived and most important of all…. Be discrete about it.”

The dwarf is silent for a moment or two. Finally Play breaks the silence. “So you want me to go into the Mournland as a scout? Whom am I scouting for?”

“I have hand-picked seven of my best agents to enter the land of the Mists. We have lost something of great value to us and wish it returned.”

“What part of the Mournland?”

“The expedition will begin in Metrol and follow the electric rail lines to the west.”

“Metrol!?! That’s in the NE section of the lands. I have been to the north and the SW. From what I have seen and read, the entire country of Cyre has changed. Metrol may be nothing like before or any of the areas I have been before.”

“But you are known for your…. Adaptability. You seem to always know how to survive despite any odds. That is a trait we require our scout to have. As I said, we will pay you for your services and this expedition is important to us as a family and as a house.”

Play smells money.

“Tell me more.”


Aryth 25 996, late evening

The mission:
Lead between 6 and 8 “hand-picked” dwarven warriors to enter the Mournland using the Electric Rail. In Metrol, locate a special key to unlock a lost electric rail car. Find said car and switch goods from that car to ours and leave.

Sounds simple.

Problem is….. its not. I’ve been within the land of mists on several occasions. Nothing is natural there. Undead wander about, magic has come to life and the damned Lord of Blade’s people are still active even though I killed him (to be told later).

So….. time to visit Jaxain over at the Mad Minotaur and discuss the Mournland and Metro.

Nightfall, North Market District, the Mad Minotaur-

The Mad Minotaur is an adventurer’s paradise. Part tavern, part communication center and part black market …. All set up for adventurers between activities. The last owner, “general” Pyrus Cartar, bought the tavern and slowly drew in a new type of client- the adventurer. When he passed away, his “niece” declared ownership and now runs the place. She has added a few things to the place. Most notable is the illegal pit fighting in the sub-basement. Once, while tailing a possible Karrnathi spy, John Play was lead here. He comes back from time to time. Between the gossip of the adventurers and the antics of the current owner, Jaxain, he finds himself returning regularly.

“JOHN! YOU”RE BACK!” Exclaims a woman with long and slightly curled hair. Its color is black with dark blue ribbons and varied shades of blue glass beads in it. Her outfit barely covers her. The blue silk still reveals her half-elven shape when the light is just right. One arm and her side have scars that suggest she was once in the war. Her grace is obvious as she bounds through the ground to leap up and hug the ex-Dark lantern. “It’s been too long!”

“It’s been only two weeks Jaxain.” He replies with an easy smile. The two of them order a drink, she insists on his not paying for it. “It is on the house.” As the owner, what she says goes. Drinks in hand she looks at his face. “You need information don’t you. I can see it in your eyes.”

“As current as I can get.” He looks around at the dozens of adventurers that are drinking and laughing within the tavern.

“Who would you like some gossip on today? The Thrane ambassador is in. I could tell you what he does at night.” She says with a mischievous smile and a wink in her eyes.

“Not a who but a where. Metrol and the area around it.”
“Why would you ever go into that cursed land? No sane man or woman would ever venture there.”

“Since when was I ever sane?” He says as he takes a drink. “I have been offered a LOT of money to go as an escort. I won’t even be on the front lines.”

“The banker dwarves…. I heard gossip they were within the building you live in. Alright. You know about the mists and how they confuse the most clear minded expert trackers and scouts. I’m sure you have heard of the Living spells and the undead….”

“Metrol. I need info on there and what is happening there.”

“Wouldn’t you rather go to the Lhazaar Principalities? Even the Talenta Plains?”

“Not where the job is leading me…. This time.”

“Okay. Forget everything you knew about Metrol’s layout. Rumor has it the buildings themselves have been moved…. In some cases stacked or turned over but remain intact. Many people are exploring the area but are not returning. House Orien really wants to reopen or at least salvage their Rail system there. Last week I heard about possible vampire activity there. Warforged are looting the place also returning the goods to the Lord of Blades. You do remember him don’t you?”

“Yeah. I killed him.”

“Riiiiight. In your dreams. He is alive and very active.” She concentrates on his eyes to see how he reacts. He clearly believes he destroyed the leader of Warforged.

“You mentioned the rail system. Is it intact?”

“Sections are. Not sure once you leave the city limits.”


“Dwarves. Metrol. Rail system….. what are you looking for?”

“Can’t say.” She stares into his eyes and smirks seductively.

“Well I could tell you but then I would have to kill you.”

“You could try.”



John Play has gathered up as much information and gossip as he could in the past few days about the Mournland, Metrol, and the dwarves and even on the possible existence of the Warforged known as Lord of Blades. He is certain he destroyed the leader but crazier things have happened. With some luck he will remain in the southern half of the ruined country and not bother him or the dwarves.

He has packed what he could for the trip. Healing is his biggest concern. From experience he knows magical healing cannot happen within the confines of the grey mists. It is said a paladin’s healing still works but doubts (almost hopes) there will be no paladin dwarves within the group. It is also said some druid stored healing still works. For this he has bought some berries and even spoke to an Orc about other healing fruits [DM Note- idea taken from 2ed Darksun] that may give more powerful healing.

He takes a sky coach to Cogsgate where the Lightning Rail station is. There many people of all races and careers streaming in and out of the station as he arrives. It is not long before he spots Balderk d’Kundarak. There is a semi- circle of dwarfs standing by a column near the one car. One dwarf, in the center of the group, is very cross and tapping his foot while scowling at every person that looks at them. Play lets out a long sigh, puts on a beaming smile and walks to them. “Hello and well met and all of those wonderful greetings. What a marvelous day for a rail ride to the north.”

“Ummmmrph.” Grunts the dwarf. “Your ticket has been paid for. Remember- I require ALL receipts or you will NOT be reimbursed for your expenses. Anything over 5 gold must have my okay. These three will be traveling with us before we pick up the rest of the team later.” Says the dwarf in a commanding and stern manner. This is Adrik d’Kundarak. He is a warrior and a veteran of the war.” The dwarf smiles showing all of his teeth (including a steel tooth) and gives a polite nod of his head. “This is Vondal d’Kundarak. He is a cleric of Dol Dorn and known for his courage. He is also a veteran of the war.” The cleric wears a blue and gold ½ plate with a large shield and war hammer slung to his side. “Your strength adds to our own.” And this is Veit d’Kundarak. He is an artificer and was possibly the last to see our cargo before it disappeared on that fateful day. “The dwarf has a neat and short beard but bushy eyebrows and mustache. He has a pack loaded with many things and many pockets. “g’Day.”

Their rail is a small one. It has a front and back engine car and only four other cars. Before any layovers and Border checks the trip will take about 11 days to complete. The trip involves Breland, Thrane, Aundair, Karrnath, and finally into the ruins of Cyre.

Play was to share a room with the dwarves but has opted to pay for his own room. Balderk made it clear it was at his own gold. The bead counter is beginning to really annoy Play. EVERYTHING is being documented. Every expense, every contact and Play suspects- every action. Fine. He can still have some fun. It will be several days until they reach Market Place. After that is Canterbury and Passage. There is plenty that can be done to annoy the dwarf within that time.


Aryth 27 996, EVENING

Bored and in need of entertainment, Play goes to the food car. Adrik and Vondal d’Kundarak are there having a drink. Adrik gives Play a large wave and smile (showing off his steel tooth). Vondal merely nods and hoists up his drink in a salute. Play could come to like these two at least. However, there are other occupied tables here with travelers. A merchant, possibly from Aundair based on his attire, broods in the corner. His dinner is becoming cold as it is left untouched. The merchant is obviously in deep thought. Standing at attention next to him is a Warforged. It looks more like a statue than a living and thinking construct. Another table has two elves sitting at it. Play is wary of them as they are dressed in dark clothes and watch every move and sound within the room. He hopes they do not belong to house Phiarlan or Thuranni. The final occupied table has the most potential. Adventurers. There is a warrior in light armor. He guesses him to be an archer type. A mage complete with a strange looking skull cap with a dragon shape etched on it. The final adventurer has his interest the most. The ½ elf female appears to be a cleric type. The symbol is one he is unfamiliar with. It resembles the letter ‘C’ with lines bursting from the center of it. He gets drink and walks over to them.

“Hello fellow travelers. Do you mind if I sit with you? Perhaps we can share stories and some laughter.”

The mage gestures to the extra chair. Play smiles and nods his thanks before sitting down. He sits in a way that he can see the two dwarves. Adrik seems curious to what he is up to. Vondal waves for another drink ignoring the scout.

“I am Play, John Play. I come from Sharn and travel north.”

The mage nods to the warrior then the ½ elf when returning the greeting. “This is Bruin, Sharrita and I am Gorn. We hail from Aundair and are returning home from a rather dull visit to Zilargo.”

Before long, the four of them are laughing and sharing tales of adventure. The dwarves and elves listen in. Adrik especially seems to be enjoying the tales. The merchant has only pushed his plate away from him and stares at the rings on his left hand, still in deep thought.

An hour later they are still talking and laughing. Play is retelling the tale of his trip to Droaam as a guard to an Orien caravan (slightly modified as he was using this as a cover to spy on the newly formed country). “I just have to ask- The symbol you wear- I am unfamiliar with it. It is a religious symbol?”

Sharrita looks down and fingers the amulet gently. “Yes. It is the symbol of my belief and goddess- Infiniti.”

“I mean no disrespect but I do not know this goddess. Is it Sarlonian?” Play asks flirting and honestly curious as such information has a way of being useful in the future.

“She is everything. She binds the multiverse together.”

“Multiverse?” He asks.

Gorn sighs. “Here we go.”

“You understand there are several planes of existence.” Play nods. “Another plane not addressed by the Host or the Dark Six is time and the multiverse. All worlds as we know them start out on one path. But what happens when someone travels through time and alters something? A new world is created. One we are not aware of. There are worlds where the war never happened. Others where it has yet to end. All are real and true.”

Play takes a moment to digest this. “So…. There are many planes of Eberron… each slightly different from each other?”


“So….. there might be one where I am part of your group?” He flashes a smile at her.

“Perhaps- in Infiniti’s grace it may be.”

The archer excuses himself and walk away for another drink. Gorn takes this opportunity to speak up. “There could be a world where you were killed by the Ogre temptress you spoke of. Or where you became her slave. Not all new worlds are better or worse. Just different.”

“So this means… there is more than one of …. Say me?”

“Yes. You could be a psionic in a desert world (Under a Darksun) or a masked rogue with fantastic powers and magic items (Strikeforce: Morituri). You may even be an undead creature (Siberys Seven) somewhere and sometimes. It is through Infiniti that these worlds operate without destroying each other.”

“My head hurts. I need more drinks.”


Aryth 27 996, EVENING

Gorn is smiling a great deal as John Play asks him about magic.

“I study the planes. I believe there are more manifest zones on Eberron that previously believed. I- sorry- we wish to find and study these.”

“Manifest zones… like Sharn?” asks Play.

“Yes. Sharn is certainly the most famous manifest zone on Khorvaire. But there are others. Eldeen’s The Glooming is one and I suspect Cyre was laid to waste from one.”

“Really? Do these happen naturally or does one need to create it?”

“Both. But when they are created they tend to be very dangerous. The blending of two planes of existence can be extremely dangerous as each plane fights for control and dominance over the other plane.”

“You’re making my head hurt also. What is Bruin’s story? He seems a bit put off by me.” Play asks with sincere concern.

“What we found in Zilargo was hard on him. It is a private matter. Please don’t pry unless he wishes.” Says Sharrita.

“Zilargo? Did I hear someone speak of Zilargo?” comes a deep voice from another table. Everyone turns to see a dwarf smiling and getting up. The other dwarf tries to motion for his friend to not get up but at no avail. “I am Adrik d’Kundarak. I hail from the valley village of Frostmantle. I have been to the land of the gnomes before. Amazing things they do with elementals and the city of Trolanport is truly a marvel- even to a dwarf like myself.”

Introductions are done again as Play motions for Vondal to join them. He rolls his eyes but joins them. Adrik laughs at nearly everything that Play says as he tries to cover up the fact he travels with them. “You are just too HAPPY Adrik.”

“Worse things. Just wait until we meet Morrikane. He can squash a halfling’s birthday party.” They all laugh though Play wonders what or a Morrikane is.

“I heard you speak of your goddess. What does she say about the other gods of the Host? Aureon especially? Are there multiples of him also?”

“No. That is what makes the gods unique. They are but a single spark within the multiverse. “

Play watches while laughing the merchant finally get up and leave. He is very down and depressed it seems. The Warforged construct follows him as he leaves the room. The elves watch as a new group of people comes in. These people look to be a family and shortly after them arrive Veit. The dwarven artificer perks up as he spots the loud table and goes to join them.

“Alive and well” says Adrik. “You have been sleeping for hours now. Still concerned about where we are going?”

Yawning (complete with spittle than Play frowns at) Veit nods his head. “Yes. Undead are so… un-natural.” Vondal kicks his shin and glares at him. “ow!”

“Undead have a place within the multiverse also. Everything does. There is no such thing as unnatural.”

“The denizens of the Wastes….” Veit offers.

“The fiends are unpleasant but still have a place in the natural order.” Play frowns and loses himself in thought as he thinks about his recent travels to the region of Demons and Devils.

“Natural Order?!?” exclaims Vondal. “They are pure evil!”

“and thus off set the Angels.” The ½ elf counters. “One cannot describe or give purpose to the other without each other.”

Play thinks to himself that his head hurts again. So much deep thought and information that has far reaching consequences and meaning. He hasn’t had this much difficulty relating to a set of thoughts and theories since he dated a monk in his teenage years. “Harmony and Symmetry. That’s what you are talking about. Balance between two forces. Equal but opposite.” Play suddenly comes to understand it…. He thinks.

“So what happens if we destroy the foul things?” asks Vondal, a cleric of Dol Dorn.

“We dance!” yelps Adrik as he kicks back his chair and dances a bit.

Everyone laughs at the table. The cleric of Infiniti enjoys the show but then adds that either another force will rise to fill their universal void or the forces of good will lose meaning and disburse themselves creating a dark age. The mood becomes slightly heavier with such a comment. Play understands this completely. Several of his missions involved “removing” threats but new threats always rose to fill the space. It was a never ending battle.

They continue to talk and laugh into the night. Play continues to flirt with the cleric but either she sees what he is about or has no wish for a one-night stand. Not deterred, Play kisses her hand and says something about the endless possibilities and how- maybe- just maybe- in some world, she said yes.

The elves watch it all (they don’t sleep after all).


Aryth 28 996, EVENING

“I’ll take that.” Demands Balderk as he takes the bill and receipt from the employee of Orien. He carefully looks in over, frowns and then signs for it.

“Are you going to DOCument everything?” asks Play to the stuffy dwarf.

“Not your room. I leave that up to you.”

“And it was nice. Soft bed and no snoring people with ticks and lice next to me.”

“The common cart is not like that….” Says the war priest with failing confidence as he thinks back to the ½ orc traveler that slept next to him the prior night.

“Really?” Play looks around quickly and spots a human child eyeing some food. “Boy- com-ere” Play waves him over. “Would like a roll?” He picks up the roll from his dinner. The child’s eyes light up. “You can have it if you tell me about the car you slept in last night. You slept in the same car as these dwarves?”

The child is nervous but hunger overwhelms his fear. Taking the roll he nods rapidly as he bits off ½ of it in one shot. “Could you sleep?”

“Yes. But it was difficult.” Says the child with a nervous glance to Balderk and Veit.

“Why is that?”

“It sounded like thunder in the room. Everyone was snoring.” The child obviously means the two dwarves as he looks at them. Adrik breaks out laughing. “Aye- loud enough to wake a sleeping dragon I would say!” Balderk glares at him who reduces his laughter to a sparkle in his eyes and a wide smile which just reveals the steel tooth for all to see again.

“It was the Orc.” States the proper acting dwarf.

The ½ orc in question stops eating and looks over to the rowdy table of dwarves and a human man and child. Balderk puts his head down and covers it with a large meaty hand. He quietly mutters to himself.

“I was hoping to see our new friends from last night but I guess not.” Says Play.

“Aye- and have a second shot at that cleric I’d say.” Giggles Adrik happily.

“Wellllll…….”, Play smiles.

“I was warned about you Play.” Begins the dwarven leader. “This may go into my report.” Warns the dwarf.

“Must you document everything?!?”

“No” he says with obvious irritation. The other dwarves quiet down sensing anything said or done may be taken wrong at this point.

“Document. Document. Document. From now on I’m going to call you DOC.” Says Play knowing it will provoke a reaction.

His face becomes red and he gets up, stops to glare at the ex- Dark lantern, and goes to leave. The other dwarves plead for him to come back. Play looks away acting annoyed but secretly happy to strike a nerve. Doc it is.

He takes this moment to look around at some the people on the car tonight. Generally they are people he has seen on the Rail in past day. One person however is new and bugs him. She looks familiar to him but cannot place it. She travels with an older man that is well dressed but obviously trying to hide it. His clothes are that of a commoner but all are brand new and made with better materials than most. Curious, he excuses himself as the dwarves bicker and plead among each other.

“Hello. Have we met?” he asks the couple.

“No but we know you. Your father worked for the king did he not? I am Sara Dovass and this is my uncle Fermond.” She is lying thinks Play as he tries to read her eyes and body language.

“Play, John Play. And yes, my father did work for the king as his personal bodyguard years ago.”

The uncle says nothing but continues to watch Play carefully.

“I am going north with the loud group dwarves. Yourselves?” and Play pulls out a chair without asking first. Who is she he thinks.

“North also.” She says coolly.

“I really feel I know you from somewhere. Morgrave University?”



“No.” said too quickly to avoid suspicion. Who in Wroat is she connected with?

“Your friends are leaving. Perhaps you should go with them.” Offers the uncle.

“That’s the beauty of these cars- just how far can they go?” He says trying to look into the uncle’s eyes. He is not familiar but there is something about him that is alarming Play.

“What is the king’s guard’s son doing with the dwarves of Kundarak?” she asks.

“Traveling of course. Sara. That is your name right.” Play says testing her.

“We should be going” offers the older man. “We have much to discuss still.”

Play watches them leave and gives a wave when they turn to look at him at the doorway. From behind he spots her red ribbon in her hair and a memory is brought forward. Xandrar. Red Owl rebels. She was with them that night. The Owls believe Breland should be led by the people as picked by the citizens of Breland. No more kings and queens. Crazy but he sees some advantages to the idea. He knows he should contact the authorities but decides against it. His father would greatly disapprove. Smirking at the thought, he gets up to see the dwarves again.


Vult 1 996, MID DAY

John Play wanders to the food car once more, more than once thinking he is spending more time here than his expensive private room. The food tender, Freeyar, gives him a wave. Freeyar is a Passage native from Aundair. He says he is a war orphan but Play senses hidden agendas and nobility. Maybe he is on the run from an overly controlling father?

Several of the tables are in use. One of the tables is occupied by the brooding merchant and his Warforged guardian. Against his better judgment, Play goes there first. “Hello good sir. It would seem you could use some good cheer. Mind if I sit here with you?”

The merchant looks up and waves briefly to the chairs across from him. He says and offers nothing else. He is as unemotional and moving as his guardian.

“Nice looking Warforged.”


“The food is better than one would think. The cook trained with a Ghallandan halfling. The spiced potatoes are really good. They cook it in boiling hot oil. Makes the outside crispy.”


“I’m going to the Mournlands”

The man’s head rises to look at Play in stunned disbelief. “The Chaos God is coming. He has power bases within Xen’drik and Sharn. He walks in Sharn. He is building up his power and soon will spread out his Chaos Storms and engulf the world in his chaos!”

Play immediately regrets sitting here but feels responsible for getting the man in this state. The Warforged places his metallic hand on the shoulder of the man and he calms down. The man begins to cry and sob. He continues to whimper about the Chaos God as he gets up and leaves. Play frowns at the retreating man and his construct until he looks over and sees another group of adventurers. He goes to join them and sits down next to a female elven rogue type whom puts her hand on his lap within ten minutes of being there. Within 15 minutes he has forgotten the man.

Elvinor is from Breland. She and her friends are going to Passage and eventually the Eldeen Forest. Play talks about his recent adventures there including the Rage Drakes and the Gold Dragon. Her friends include a Cyre Soldier named Jerkins, another Cyre native named Herald. He is a cleric of Arawai (farming). There is also a mage type with a dragonmark that largely hidden by the sleeve of her robe. The mark has a red tint to it…Aberrant? Her name is Jenna. She gives Play a sly and flirtatious smile whenever he says something funny. Play is in his element and happy for it.

A few hours later the dwarves loudly arrive. Adrik gently thumps Play on the shoulder as he passes by “g’day” and flashes his steel tooth.

They sit at a vacant table nearby. Balderk is looking at his small ledger of expenses doing the math. The others talk among themselves. Play notices they are watching him. Let them he thinks as he replies to a question about Karrnathi food vs. Aundair food.

Later in the night Play leaves them but is followed by both Elvinor and Jenna.


Vult 2 996, LATE MORNING

Play awakens to discover the women went through some of his stuff. He was smart enough to lock up his main possessions with the Orien employees but they still took his petty cash. Annoyed but not surprised he rolls out of his bed and tries to guess where he is. Looks like they are near the border. He knows by time he gets dressed the two women will be off the rail and hidden within the crowds at Market Place.

After replacing some of his lost money from his locked up pack, he returns to his normal routine. However, this time he is greeted by Aundairan officials. They are asking for identification papers. It appears they are looking for someone or something. Oh and great- he knows one of them.

“How long has it been commander Dogunsard?” He says putting as charming of a smile on as he can.

“I hope YOUR papers say Play or you are in for a long day.” Snarls the scared human in his uniform of blue and gold. “What brings you to Aundair?” He comes up to inspect Play’s papers himself.

“He is with us and on official House business.” Interrupts the cross dwarven leader.

“Papers sir.” He frowns as he looks at both sets. “My apologies Lord d’Kundarak. You travel with…. Uneasy company.”

“He is uncouth, immature, a scoundrel at best,” Says the dwarf enjoying and savoring the moment to embarrass Play publically, “But the chosen agent by my superiors. I must use what I am given.” The official smiles and grunts in humor at that. He hands back the papers and nods to the dwarf and gives Play a dirty look before moving on.

“How many more of your past encounters will we deal with Mr. Play?” says the dwarf with little humor.

“How many check points will we be entering?” Play answers with some humor (and truth).


Vult 7 996, LATE MORNING

“I heard the bridge was reopening soon.”

“Yes. Next month I believe.” Replies the dwarf as he looks outside of the railcar. The waters of Scion Sound are visible from his side.

“You look nervous.” Says the dwarf out of curiosity. He has noted that John Play is looking outside, across the water, with great intensity.

“I have made a few friends in Karrnath.”

“This is good.”

Looking to the dwarf abruptly- “and I have made even more enemies in Karrnath.”

The dwarf nods his head barely. “Then I suggest you go your cabin and stay put.”

Play hates it when the dwarf is correct. He nods and gives a salute before leaving.

The rail slows down as it nears the final station before the closed bridge leading to Karrnath. A section of the bridge was destroyed during the war to prevent enemy factions from crossing it. It has taken House Orien years and a lot of money and favors to repair the bridge quickly.

After a short stay at the station, the rail moves on, even though the repairs are not complete. The bridge is a modern art and masterpiece of technology. Twenty-five miles long, it has multiple levels. A rail level, a pedestrian level and two levels for carts and horses. There are station houses located in several spots on the bridge. There are, or soon will be again, hotels and places to eat owned by House Ghallanda. There are several docking areas at water level owned by House Orien and one air ship landing (so far) being built by House Lyrandar. House Cannith has much invested in the bridge as many of the magics involved for speedier and safer construction was their doing. House Kundarak also has some say as they are in charge of wards which they have set up to protect the bridge. House Denieth is using an area of the bridge as a way station for their work at Thronehold.

Many suggest no nation owns the bridge, only the Dragon Houses. This is more true than fiction.

From the water, several work boats and fishing boats are anchored in view of the bridge and its construction. One fishing boat, flying Karrnathi colors, stops and watches the rail as it goes over the bridge unexpectedly. The captain, Captain Grugar Direscan, pulls out a spyscope and watches. He is looking for colors or indication of the ownership and purpose of the ship. “Chakins- get me a messenger- I have to report this.”

Several other similar ships and their crew do the same. Welcome to the cold war of Khorvaire.

The ship nears the land and begins to slow down once more. The Karrnathi guards are surprised as the ship arrives. Even as it arrives so do several members of House Orien to redirect the attention of their active ship.

Even before the ship power downs, they are waved on and they leave the station. Play sighs in relief. Of all the spots he feared his past would catch up with him it was here- in Rekkenmark, Karrnath. As the ship clears the check point a Bone Knight rides up wanting answers.


Vult 7 996, LATE MORNING

“What ship was that?” asks the Bone Knight.

“Captain- A passenger ship.”

The Knight watches the ship as it gains speed and leaves the Orien station. After several heart beats of time, the captain leans to the side and spits. “I know that aura. It’s from the war…..” She turns and leaves just as quickly as she arrived.

The Knight arrives at the House Sivis station. “I have the need of a message being sent- …” The gnome looks up startled and fumbles with his glasses as he places them onto his nose.

Shortly the knight steps out of the Sivis Speaking Stone Station, she sends for messengers for within the city limits. The young officer runs off. She stares then glares in the direction of the leaving ship.

“Play.” She remembers him finally.

“You cunning lucky bastard.” She remembers more.

“Your skull belongs in Fort Bones.” She remembers him vividly.


Vult 7 996, MID DAY

KORTH’s Electric Rail Station-

John Play looks through a curtain of a window in his car. He sees many of Karnnathi’s infamous skeletal warriors but no leader. Then he sees them. Two Bone Knights. He recognizes one as Captain Vadbreak. She is an ambitious soldier he ran into during the last month of the war. The other… he had hoped not to ever see again. General Greesha Fracture. Crap. She will detain him no matter what- House guest or not. With her it’s personal.

“By the look on your face- you know them.” Suggests Balderk with his usual tone of stating fact. “We should be wary also. Perhaps I should speak….”

“No,” interrupts the ex-Dark lantern, “these two would not only ignore you but become more determined than ever. Allow me to deal with this.”

“What are you suggesting to do?”

“Something I’m not used to doing…. Hiding and not starting anything.” He says with an attempted smirk of confidence.

A few moments later, a tall armored skeleton walks into the main room of the Kundarak car. “Car’s master.” It says with a dry and hoarse supernatural voice. Balderk steps forward.

“High Warden Disney d’Kundarak is in charge of this car AND the entire craft. He is not here but I have been left in charge. I am Balderk d’Kundarak. Why have you stopped us?” He tries to intimidate the undead but it does little.

The creature hands him a letter which he takes without taking his eyes off of the empty eye sockets of the soldier. He unravels the scroll and he finally looks down to read it. “A Breland enemy of Karrnath here? On our car? Doubtful.” He hands the letter, rerolled, back to the undead. “Leave my craft and be quick about it.”

“I don’t think so Kundarak. I can sense him. He was here.” All of the dwarves turn to look onto the one Bone Knight. She is dressed in black and green plate armor. Bones of her past victims are magically fused into the armor making it stronger and more fierce looking. Bones of a large creature protrude from her helmet. She tries to stare down the dwarf. Neither will back down.

“Where is the other one?” asks Adrik, his steel tooth catching a gleam of light. “There were two of you driving the carrion.

“Beware of your tone. My Warlord waits outside. She is waiting for either our return or his attempted escape.”

Clinging to the outside of the craft, using his supernatural abilities, training and a lot of magical assistance, Play listens. Warlord he repeats in his mind. So tempting but no. Two of the skeletal warriors walk within four feet of him. He holds his breath and remains motionless until they have passed. His only concern is the two Bone Knights. Vadbreak is a problem but Fracture is a bitch…. A royal bitch.

Something gets his attention. More a sense of evil than seeing anything. He drops to the ground without a sound. He moves to the next car and sees her. Greesha ir’Fracture. She stands before an Orien attendant. He is held by two skeletons against his will. He cannot hear the words but know she is casting a spell onto the man. A spell to somehow control him. He notes the servant’s face carefully then climbs back onto the craft. It begins to move forward once more within a few minutes.

“I had no idea this man would present so many difficulties to obtain.” Grumbles Balderk. He turns abruptly then storms back to his room. “Let me know when the boy decides to show himself again.”

He goes into his room, closes the door and assures himself it is locked and sits down at his desk. He opens his ledger and writes names, place and time of this intrusion. He will be damned to be blamed for any tardiness caused by Play’s past.

“She has enchanted one of the servants Doc.” Comes a voice from nowhere.

Taken unaware but not surprised, Balderk continues to write. “I expected as much. Those “Knights” and the Claw in general have little honor in how they conduct their business.”

Play continues to remain invisible; his voice seems to move around so as to hide his exact location. “ir’Fracture, the knight that remained outside, will not back down.”

“What would you have me or my house do?”

“What you guys do best- drink hard alcohol and trade war stories. In your case count how many tiles are on the water room wall I suppose. I just wanted you to know.”

The door opens, the locks having been opened unknown to the dwarf, Play materializes within the doorway with a big smile. “We’re moving.”

He closes the door and the smile immediately disappears. “Fracture… this just got really, really bad.”


Vult 8 996

The electric rail slows down just outside of the city of Vulyar. They will be here over night before leaving. Additional supplies and party members are to join them here. Play hopes there will be no one else.

At least no Bone Knights or Emerald Claw or Turbulent members anyhow.

Even though he is certain that the dwarves would say to stay on board and hidden he leaves the craft. It’s dangerous but one can’t live in fear and truly feel alive.

As he walks towards the rail station exit, he notes there are several large and loud dwarves standing about two carts full of crates and barrels. He smiles at his simple accomplishment and moves on. He easily avoids the undead guards and their human commanders. Nearly out of the area he walks down the station stairway onto the streets of Vulyar.

“Sir, are you John play?”

He stops and looks over… then down. A Smiling gnome looks up at him looking very whimsical and happy. He repeats his question again.


“Not why but who? Are you he?” A twinkle remains in his eyes but his smile has lost some of its luster.

“Yes.” He decides to answer. “Can we walk while talking?”

“If we must Mr. Play.”

“What brings you to Vulyar… where I am supposed to be in Breland?”

“Kim Elderich… well his personal affairs actually.”

“Elderich. Figures.” Answers play.

“He has given me the mission of finding you and giving you something if you agree to certain terms.”

“What is the ol’ dwarf up to these days?”

“Please sir- let us finish this before you attract more attention. This involves his estate and his granddaughter- Dura.”

Play looks at him and silently laughs to himself. Elderich would have made a great spy master he thinks to himself. Too bad he is a tad crazy in the head.

The gnome continues on- “He has begun a personal mission on a grand scale. To accomplish this, he has had to set up certain events… some of which may hurt his granddaughter he fears. He has levied his fortune with House Kundarak.”

Play rolls his head and eyes. “That is crazy! Even for him!”

“He is eccentric at best I agree but that is not why I am here- He wants to be sure his granddaughter is well taken care of. He has hidden a great deal of money that the dwarves do not know about. This,” He holds up a metal and crystal key, “is the key to the vault where this money is hidden.” The gnome pulls out a scroll case, “….and this is the directions to it. He would like you to deliver this to her in the future. Sometime in the second half of 999.”

“That’s three years away.”

“Kim would be willing to pay you for your time, service, trust and most important of all- silence.”

“Do you accept?”
Thirty minutes later, after a quick trip to the Kundarak banks and the ditching of a Karrnathi spy, Play quickly returns to the rail station.

“There you are! What part of stay on the craft and well hidden did you not understand?!?” bellows Belderk once inside.

Play quietly lets out a long sigh then puts on a big smile and turns to see the group. The entire group. Seven dwarves and two humans. Balderk stands with crossed arms in frustration. Directly behind him are the three dwarves that have traveled with him most of the way- Adrik, Vondal and Veit. Behind them are three new dwarves. A dwarf with bright eyes and a large lower lip smiles in a foolish manner suggesting dull wits. He gives a short wave and hoists a very large mug (small barrel) of ale to his mouth. Balderk introduces him as Karson. Near him is a large and very heavily armored dwarf with a battle axe as big as the gnome Play just saw. With a dirty look he gives a grunt with his body as much as his voice. Sitting a lightly shadowed section of the car is the final dwarf. He looks up and nods as well. He would wave but he is patting a rather large dog. Thick muscles ripple under the white fur as it pants and makes a soundless bark at Play. These as introduced as Drumark and Snow White. The heavily armored brute of a dwarf is Morrikane. The two humans are twins dressed in the outfit of house Orien. The two young women are named Goin’ and Gong’. “Welcome Brelander.” They say in unison.

They move themselves and their gear to a new car. The two humans will take turns running the engine ship. Play will be scout and guide. Snow White and her seven dwarves are the muscle behind it all. Disney the one that has set them on their course- into the Mournlands.


Vult 11 996

The Gray Mists of Cyre. The death shroud of a nation. “What a waste.” Sighs John Play as the electric rail stops within 300 feet of the mists that cover the magical tracks.

“Yes….but we’ll get the treasure back Play.” Says Balderk who is also staring into the mists, even as the mists stare back.

“I meant the country- not the gold.” Play mockingly sneers.

“Well… yes yes. All that …aw- art. Yes. They had art.” Balderk stumbles trying to cover up his moment of greed.

Looking to lighten the moment Play looks to his new favorite dwarf to pick on. “Karson, what did you like the most about Cyre before it was well… destroyed?”

The battle scared dwarf smiles under his bushy and somewhat wild hair he calls a beard. “Da Food. I liked da food.”

“What about the poetry or even dance?”

“Pretty words with sneaky words. Dance? Men wearing tight pants and underwear? No. I likes da food.”

So dwarven but cute in a dopey way Play thinks. He wonders how many times this dwarf has broken down doors with his head while his helmet is being worn by a by-stander. He has yet to get a word or even a smile out of Morrikane. Adrik, the steel toothed dwarf whom always has a big smile, steps up beside Play.

“We go in shortly. I am so looking forward to the challenges that are inside.”

“Undead, spookiness and warforged. What is there to not like?” says Play.

Balderk turns and says that everyone needs to get ready. He then goes to talk to Veit about the key required to open the treasury car.

The Kundarak mission has two engine cars, a cargo box car, a special storage room car and a car for individual rooms. It’s built for speed and secure storage.

The ship begins to hum louder and shudder. Gong’ d’Orien is the first operator. She gives out a Wha-Hoo that is not heard by anyone else. Whether it is in excitement or to cover her fear is not known by anyone as such. The car moves closer to the mist that seems to with draw from craft. But once the last car enters it is quick to swallow it up leaving no sign of it ever existing before.

Gong’ keeps it steady and going forward. She cannot see anything ahead of her. She has been reassured that the rail is complete and intact between here and the Metrol city but she is still uncertain. She is relying on the rail being intact and her connection with the elemental ring that empowers it to direct her. The mists swirl and ebb before her. It is distracting her…. Almost hypnotizing her. Telling her to… speed up. She wills herself not to (but does).

Knowing what is up or at least what can be expected, Vondal d’Kundarak casts a spell to suppress the fear and unease of the others. Veit, the team’s artificer, feels somewhat ill watching the mist through the closed and secured window. Karson twitches at the shadows. He expects something within them to strike at him. Maybe the very shadow itself will consume his soul. Snow White grunts and Drumark, the tracker of the group looks down at her. “Uneasy girl?” Shortly the other dwarves all roll their eyes and Play won’t hold it back.

“That-Is-Totally-Disgusting-And-Foul,” Play tries to cover his mouth and nose, “Balderk- can you purify the air?”

Karson has a tear in his eye.

Gong’ reasserts her will and slows down the ship. A spirit seems to fly up to the window and howls into it. Gong’ hears nothing due to a spell caste onto her before entering the mist. The ghosts are everywhere however…..

Then they burst out of the mists onto a bridge that crosses the Cyre River. Below, in the river, several shrouded figures sit huddled on a small row boat.

“We’re there” whispers the pilot to herself in some relief. “We are in Metrol… I think.” She was here in 990 when training how to pilot the craft. The city is different. She immediately slows down the craft further. Building are moved and distorted. Some are even stacked (many keeping structurally sound) on top of each other. The Palaces of Vermishard are now spread out irregularly within the city.

The seven dwarves all stare out the windows of the one car in awe and wonder. “is this what you expected?” asks Play to Balderk.

Without making eye contact, Balderk answers him. “This and more.” He pulls out his ledger and begins to write notes again. He is trying to document everything. Thus his given nick name by Play- Doc.

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