John play: Hero for hire

Curious what people thought on the unusual use of the theme I did. Assassin's name = rock groups name. Song titles worked into the writing of the story segments.
 

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JOHN PLAY
“06 PLAY INTO THE ENEMY’S HANDS”
SEGMENT 85
“ELDEEN BAY”

ARYTH 5 ,996

“Damn you Play. Damn you to hell and back.” Snarls the Cannith artificer as he pulls off his robe which is on fire. “ Zinter d’Cannith sees the ship is going to go down. Whisper has possessed the woman Shasta in an attempt to kill Play as well. Zinter hopes the demon dies when the ship hits the water below.

Suddenly a fiery explosion blasts both him and the possessed woman off their feet. The deck is bursting apart in sections and the fire elemental that aided in the ships flight finds itself roaring at its freedom then screaming as it realizes it is over the waters of Eldeen bay.

The possessed spell caster staggers to her feet. The ship falls like a rock. Her eyes go wide and are no longer two separate colors. The demon, Whisper, has left her. She witnesses John Play as he slowly descends as she races by. She doesn’t even have time to cry or wave. The ship strikes the cold water at high speed.

Just before the ship hits the water, Zinter teleports a short distance away. One of his warforged champions goes down with the ship. The other has been blown clear of the ship and falls away from the others.

As night falls, Play has reached the mainland of Eldeen. Bodies of ship handlers have drifted away in the tides. Pieces of the ship mark where it went down.

Zinter comes out of hiding in the jungle on an island several miles off the shore. He will need to rest to power up his tools to teleport away again. Interesting, there appear to be some sort of ruins on the island. Zinter walks around looking at the damaged and aged stone structures. Then something catches his eyes.

Gore.

Or at least what remains of his warforged bodyguard. He is damaged beyond repair. He must have fallen from the airship and landed here on the rocks of the ruins. Zinter looks over the once living construct and finds the special docent he has altered. It is intact. Good.

“I will have my revenge someday. You will pay Play. You and that traitorous fiend Whisper.”
 

JOHN PLAY
“06 PLAY INTO THE ENEMY’S HANDS”
SEGMENT 86
“THE THREAT OF IRON CHAINS”

RHAAN 20, 997

“Trade?!?” Exclaims John Play to the ½ orc artificer. “Since when did I have to trade?”

“Hee hee….. since you left the Lanterns Jonny. I’m not even supposed to be talking to you. Viorr would have me put away if he knew.” Cue is the Dark Lantern’s primary artificer and magic knowledge guy. He is also one of the few within the organization that Play likes and calls a friend.

“Trade for existing goods or something custom made?” asks Play.

“A few weeks ago a monk assassin from Aundair was taken down by the Emerald Claw. One of our agents collected his equipment. He had some nice gear- including specialized clubs. Slender fast clubs- not clumsy things. I suspect you would like them.” Cue offers.

Play thinks it over. “I’m not sure what I have in truth. I found a lot of neat stuff at Killian’s place and the Medusa had some good gear also.”

“So I heard.”

“Lucan?”

“The youngster can’t keep his mouth shut when it comes to stuff like that.”

“He spends too much time underground is all. Sucks. I’ve been given that post before. Viorr thought it would keep me out of trouble.”

“Hee hee. I remember that. That’s when Venom tried to poison the water supply. To avoid it, you spilt thousands of gallons of poisoned water out of the water supply and into the Cogs. When the water hit the lava and molten metal foundries it was sheer chaos. Hee hee.”

Play leaves and promises to return. Monk weapons…. Hummmmmm.

He reaches his apartment and settles in. He sorts out various items he has and ponders what he is willing to give for a virtual unknown. Monk weapons….. clubs like mine. Not many people use slender clubs like I do.

There is a knock at the door. Instinctly, Play grabs a magical dagger and a ring from the small pile before him. At the door Play calls out. “Who is it?”

“Cannith. The house Master wishes to speak with you.” comes a rough and deep voice. “I am to bring you to him.”

Play locates his personal club that is designed to take down Warforged and constructs in general. “There’s no John Play here. Maybe later.”

There is a pause then an answer. “I never said Whom I was here for. Thus- John Play is here.” Play rolls his eyes then opens the door.

“Guilty. I am John Play. Give me a moment.” Play opens the door and two warforged are there. They wear a sash with the House Cannith emblem on them. They are personal aids to the head of the Dragonmarked house- Merrix D’Cannith.

Shortly, Play finds himself going into the Dragon Towers where many of the Dragonmarked house leaders hold offices for semi-public connections and content. The warforged give little for information on why he has been summoned. He has only learned they prefer the names of Summoner and Game-on.

He is lead into the main office where he finds Merrix pacing, waiting for his arrival. “John Play?”

“Last I knew. Merrix d’Cannith?”

“Likewise.” Says the artificer with a smile. He already likes Play even with his not being a warforged. “Would you like some chilled water? Perhaps something stronger?”

“Sure… and answers. Why am I here?”

“Have you ever heard of the Iron Chains? Maybe even the Iron Ghost. It goes by many names. My people, the warforged of the Cogs, fear it by any name. Something is taking them one by one. Some day they are destroyed, others say possessed and forced to do evil things to the remaining warforged.”

Play listens and considers everything Merrix has to say as he continues to talk. Play worries some if Merrix thinks too highly of his warforged ‘children’. But the threat seems real enough. The money is good. He is sure the rewards will be good also. But now for the icing on the cake.

“If I say yes, can you also tell me about a house member? His name is Zinter d’Cannith. I need to know if he is alive and what he is doing.”

Merrix stares at Play and ponders the request.
 

JOHN PLAY
“06 PLAY INTO THE ENEMY’S HANDS”
SEGMENT 87
“THE THREAT EXPLORED”

RHAAN 21, 997

Play has talked to Cue one last time as well as Merrix and his work team. Merrix is uncertain about Zinter. He was working under Baron Zorlan d’Cannith in the west. The last he had heard of him was two years ago. He had made a break through with developing docents for warforged. There had been a falling out about issues of morality. That gets Play to smirk. He may be one of the few that knew Zinter was working with creatures from the Demon Wastes to empower the warforged with infernal power through the use of magically enhanced docents.

Merrix hopes to have more for when Play returns after this days investigation. Play is given a temporary Cannith insignia ring to use their lifts and halls in the Cogs and Undersharn.

Finding the correct tower and doorway, Play uses the ring to gain access to a lift. It is a basic iron cage with a closing door for safety. A magical chain made of arcane energy raises and lowers the cage. He goes down many levels. He can smell the metals in the air and feels the heat increase also. The cage stops and Play opens the door. A sot covered warforged with a heavily dented shoulder pad guards the entrance. Play waves his fingers with the ring in its face. If insulted, it says nothing to the effect. Merely it states- “Vestran ir’Simul is expecting you. Follow me.”

The warforged takes him up some stairs to a room with a large window that overlooks the main work area. As Play opens the door to the room, he notes the magical effects that both cool and clean the air as he enters. As he expects, Simul is a pompous jerk and a control freak that thinks of warforged as tools…. Not people.

“I was told to expect you Mr. Play. I did not want you here. You cost me several weeks of production the last time you were here. Be quick. Find out who or what is taking the warforged away from their duties and be done with it.”

Jerk Play thinks. Play leaves the room and the warforged follows him. “What is your name?”

The warforged says nothing. “Seriously- what is your name?”

“CR-344”

“That’s not a name. It’s a serial number. You don’t have a name?”

Silence.

“Bob. Your name is Bob. Where was the last incident Bob?”

Bob leads him deeper into the Cogs. There are few lanterns here. Play places his mask on and sees everything well. Possibly better than Bob is. Bob feels around occasionally at corners. Play spots engravings where the warforged is touching. No wonder he doesn’t need light.

“Who has access to this level?”

“Only those with Cannith blood, protection or warforged like myself.”

Play looks around. “Where do these hallways go?”

“They connect levels and various stations.”

Play works on memorizing the level. There are several stairs and doorways that leave the hallways. Engravings on the walls that he wishes he could read or at least decipher. In time he hopes.

The two of them wander through the corridors and hallways for several hours. If Play has seen anything, he does not share it with the warforged guide.
 

JOHN PLAY
“06 PLAY INTO THE ENEMY’S HANDS”
SEGMENT 88
“SECOND EXPLORATION”

RHAAN 22, 997

“The medusa’s ring? The one from her serpent hair?” Exclaims Play.

“It would be nice to begin with.” Replies the ½ orc as he continues his work.

“How did you know about it. I didn’t include it in my report.”

“Nadia did. Lucan hinted at it.”

“It could just be a ring of detect minerals or the such.”

“Then you have no issues beginning the trade with it.”

“Cue- after all of these years….. doesn’t that mean anything?”

Cue smiles. He knows what the ring is. It would help his work a great deal having a ring of wishes.

“The clubs are wonderful. I saw them last night in person. They have a unique shape and design. They appear to be hardened wood but as hard as iron. They move through the air as if immune to its tug and pull.”

Play leaves his friend behind. He knows Cue is playing with him. Eventually he’ll get the clubs. But until then, he has a job to do. Once more he goes down into the Cogs. And once more the warforged now known as ‘Bob’ waits for him.

Play notes that several warforged stare at him from a distance. They seem no longer curious about him but instead distasteful of him. “What’s up Bob?”

“Sir?”

“Your fellow warforged seemed to be unhappy with me being down here. Why?”

“You bring distrust. Even my lord and master distrusts you.”

“Vestran ir’Simul is a toad. Well-dressed but a toad still.” Play smiles and tries to humor Bob but seems to fall short. Play’s sense of things is warning him. Whatever is really going on is aware of his being here.

“We didn’t go down these stairs yesterday. What is down there?”

“Dangerous things. Things best left alone.” Replies CR-344.

“Anything else?”

“No. Just dangerous things.”

“No rrrrr…. I mean what is so dangerous.” Play often forgets that warforged have little sense of humor or understanding leading commentary. “Dragons? Trolls? Eight year old girls?”

“Girls….? No. Goblins and the sewers.”

“And no one has checked this out? Comon- we’re going to look for some goblins and danger.” Play jokes as he moves quickly down the stairs. Bob stands motionless at the top then seems to decide to follow.

Play’s mask gives him 120ft darkvision as well as several detection abilities and true seeing. Bob has no such mask. He moves very slowly and awkwardly down the stairs into the darkness trying to follow. “We should not be…. Be down here Mr. Play.” Says Bob with obvious uncertainty and fear. “Sir? Sir? Mr. Play?” Bob has lost Play. Or if you wish- Play has lost him.

Play is indeed already about 75 feet ahead of Bob whom has just now reached the bottom of the stairs. Play is checking the ground and low on the walls. He can’t place what he is seeing but is certain something has gone through here… recently. Play closes his eyes and listens. He hears two things. Bob walking into a wall and quietly calling to him and something else. Something subtle. Something trying to be quiet. Something or someone.

Play is concentrating on the floor and low to the ground. That is why he misses the goblin waiting for him as it hides up high. “Fie!” it squeaks in goblin. Play reacts as his darkvision suddenly goes all white as energy rips out from an outstretched arm. The fireball rolls over Play. Bob nearly walks into the blast. Following through with his roll to avoid the blast Play smacks the goblin with his club. It drops the wand and lands running. It has a maniacal laugh. Play begins to give chase but stops. The goblin has slid into a drainage area and Play cannot follow.

“What the hell was that about?” declares Play in wonder.

“The goblin is the taker of my people?”

“I doubt it Bob. But something about it still bothers me.” Says Play as he picks up the Wand of Fireball. They return to the Cogs and Play is once more greeted with dirty looks of mistrust and hate from the warforged workers.
 

JOHN PLAY
“06 PLAY INTO THE ENEMY’S HANDS”
SEGMENT 89
“YOU’RE NOT BOB!”

RHAAN 23, 997

“Where did you get this from again?” asks Cue.

“A goblin tried to kill me with it.”

“And you’re trying to use it to trade for the clubs? You wound me.”

Play waits.

“Either this is a strange occurrence of chance or you were set up.”

“Set up?”

“This wand is cursed. It is designed to blow up after a few uses.” Says Cue as he continues to look it over.

“Blow up? But isn’t it a goblin weapon? I mean….” Play lets it slide.

“The magics involved are too good…. Too professional. Only a skilled and talented artificer could have done this. Jonny, my boy-o, you were set up by the goblin or at least who ever gave the goblin the wand.”

Play shakes his head in wonderment.

Later in the day, as Play is once more using the elevator to reach the Cogs, Play goes over what he has learned so far.

Warforged are disappearing from the Cogs

No one seems to see anything out of place except for missing workers

I am sent in to investigate but most don’t want me there

Someone hires a goblin to try to trick me into killing myself

Play steps out of the iron cage and looks for Bob. Bob is not here. A different warforged is here waiting for him. “Mr. Play. I will be your guide today.”

Annoyed…… “What is your name?”

“I am-“

“Bob” Play interrupts the warforged. “Where is…the other Bob?”

“Sir?”

“CR-344”

“Working sir.”

“I have been told of a passage Cr….Bob….. did not bring you too.” The warforged deemed ‘Bob’ motions for Play to walk ahead.

They walk down a few turning hallways and reach where a large screen was. It covered a doorway. The new Bob motions for Play to enter the doorway. Play thinks about everything once more, including the Goblin and the booby-trapped wand he “dropped”. Play listens carefully before reaching for the door. He turns the knob and opens it a few inches to listen again. Nothing.

Play goes in and his dark vision kicks in. Then washes out into low-light vision as the new Bob starts a sun rod. Before him is a long catwalk above many vats of molten metals far below. The air is heavy with the fumes. Chains dangle from the roof on pulleys and moving cranes. Ahead of him, Play sees several warforged grouped up together. They have large and heavy tools on them. Play immediately becomes paranoid. His hand instinctly grasps his club designed to destroy constructs (including warforged).

As Play gets closer he spots a familiar person. The first Bob.

“Bob! How goes it? Bob, I’d like you to meet my new guide- Bob. Bob- Bob. Bob- bob. And who are your friends?”

Neither Bobs say anything. None of the warforged say anything. Play becomes extremely alert again. He looks over the original Bob again. His body language is different. He looks over the warforged closer.
“Nice Docent there Bob. New?” Even as he says the word , alarms go off in Play’s mind. Maybe that’s why when the newest “Bob” attempts to grab Play he dodges it. The other three rush up. They also try to grab Play. Play ducks and rolls around them. Play swats the one warforged with a docent twice but misses the third attempt. Play catches a glint of red energy in the crystal orbs of this warforged-

“Fiend! Your docent is corrupting you and making you a fiend!” As he says this he wonders if the others have “special” docents…. Then it really hits him- “ZINTER THAT SON OF A BITCH!” Play growls. The warforged surround him and grasp his arm holding the club. They pull and tug- they overwhelm him.

“The rail- throw him over the rail.” Suggests the newest ‘Bob’.

The first ‘Bob’ nods and the red in his eyes grows. They hoist Play up over their collective heads. “Zinter says hello and – goodbye.” And Play is thrown over the rail to fall 50 feet to the ground below where molten vats are. Cursing, Play tries to twist and direct his fall. It is a hard hit made softer by a skilled tumble. Play crawls on his back to go under the above rail. He knows they will come after him. Play sips then gulps a healing potion. His ankle no longer hurts and he feels ready for them.

Play spots the ladder they are running to and races to it also. Play uses their vulnibility on the ladder and strikes the first one down. It is the “first” Bob, the fiendish one, that takes the hit. It falls onto the floor with a solid thud. The others spot Play and move faster while glaring at him. Play follows up with the fiendish Bob. Play tries to hit him again but misses as Fiendish Bob kicks out at him which disrupts his swing. This does keep Fiendish Bob down on the ground allowing for another attempt. Play doesn’t miss this time. The Demolition Gem powers up the club to split most of the metal and sturdier wood on the warforge’s back. He wants to finish this quickly without killing any of them. He is convinced it is the Docent that is controlling them.

The “New” Bob attacks Play but misses. Play notes this one has no docent. Play swings harder than he meant. The club shatters the jaw and crumbles the head of him. “Dammit- sorry dude.” Play can’t win he realizes. He may have to kill them all to stop them. That is not acceptable.

He may not have a choice.

The two other warforged rush at him. The fiendish one has now gotten up to his feet. Play attempts to dodge and roll under them (rolls a 1) and is blocked by a large two toed metallic foot. Play is stomped and kicked by the three of them. Play gets to his feet in a crouched position then after blocking one kick he leaps up and uses the heavy and sturdy body of a warforged to flip over them. As they turn to attack, Play strikes him hard with the club. He can’t stop from possibly destroying them but he has to defend himself.

Fiendish Bob and one of the others strike Play using the third one to hide their approach. The one punches Play squarely in the face. Play tastes blood. Play strikes the “shielding” one again. The damage is extensive. Play notes the metal plates are already pulling together….. huh?!~?

“You have a docent implanted also! What did Zinter do to you?” Play backs up and goes on the defensive.

“Made me better. He gave me new purpose.” Says the warforged as another plate slides into place. His crystal eyes glow yellow. Yellow like a… troll? Disgusting.

“What the hell are you?” growls play back stepping to avoid the augmented warforged.

“A success. A beautiful success.” Calls a familiar voice from above on the catwalk. Play looks up automatically.

“Zinter- you bastard.”

“And then some,” says the Dragonmarked artificer, “I will do anything to learn and…. To have my revenge.”

The warforged attack again and Zinter smiles then turns away. Play is dead.

Play gets in a solid hit causing metal and wood chips to splinter and scatter on one but the others get in their punches. Play is stepping back each time to avoid being grabbed. He wants Zinter so badly…. So so so badly. “Come back and fight like a man!” Play calls out. The warforged keep pace and try to surround him. They punch and kick with several hits scoring. Play becomes frustrated. He really doesn’t want to go all out on these guys. But he has no other choice- especially if he wants Zinter.

Play shatters the chest piece of the oncoming warforged. It clutches its chest and drops to its knees. The yellow in its eyes begins to leave… the docent is kicked about by the two rushing warforged behind it. Without the magical docent, it loses its ability to repair itself and it becomes confused.

Fiendish Bob takes a vicious strike across the shoulder. A shoulder pad clanks on the stone ground. It stops and looks at it and the eyes flare red in hatred. Another punch to the head. Play is seeing stars but drives the club into the chest of the Fiendish Bob. He drives the docent into his chest. The impact drives the warforged off his feet. When he strikes the ground it is dead.

“Zinter wants you dead…. Now I want you dead also.” Snarls the remaining warforged worker. Its eyes are yellow… another troll linked creature.

Play ducks and weaves and misleads the warforged to moving to the right when he strikes from the left. Play takes another two punches. The adamantine covered fists are bruising the hell out of Play. His eyes are tearing and one is beginning to swell shut. No time for a healing potion. “I really am sorry Trollie-Bob. I really am.” Play drives his club into the head of the warforged. One eye is gone and a jaw hangs lose. If it hurts, he doesn’t show it. A gut shot that makes Play spit up blood. Play smashes an arm used like a shield. The metal is bent and the wood splintered. The eye already is glowing within the hollow of the metal and wood skull piece.

It tries to strike him but Play dodges easily. He is now commited to stopping the living mutated construct. (nat 20- confirmed) Head flies off the body and the body takes a short stumble forward before collapsing.

Play is now pissed. “ZINTER!” he screams out in anger. “I’M COMING FOR YOU!”
 

JOHN PLAY
“06 PLAY INTO THE ENEMY’S HANDS”
SEGMENT 90
“ZINTER’S TRAP”

RHAAN 25, 997

The ring bounces across the table and slides to a stop next to the working ½ Orc. He eyes it then smiles. “Johnny! You have come for the clubs I see.”

“Clubs, healing potions and a few other goodies.” Declares Play with little humor in his voice.

Cue looks up and sees the puffy spots on Play’s face. “Healing potions… now or to go?”

Play is ready and not just willing but wanting the conflict to begin. He has new potions, two new clubs that have strange shapes and uses. The ‘L’ shape will take time to get used to. Cue gave him a few names of people that may have info on the use of these weapons. Play doesn’t have time for that now. He wants Zinter.

He tried to contact Merrix but could not. He is “unavailable” according to his various aids. Fine. If that’s the way it is being played out then so be it.

Play reaches the doorway to enter the Cogs. He waves the ring before it but nothing works. Play has been in the Cogs before. He takes a different route that doesn’t require a magical ring of admittance.

Zinter lead to the death of Shasta and who knows how many others. He literally uses the warforged beings as things to experiment on. Play isn’t certain if they are alive or machine- but either way they deserve better. They do feel.

“After today, one of us is dead.” Declares Play while removing a secret panel in a tower’s wall in a nasty neighborhood near the area leading to the docks. It is a smuggler’s entrance that Lucan once showed him.

There is no mirth or humor on Play’s face as he closes the door. There is only darkness, anger and the need …. The determination to end this.

For the next three hours, Play sneaks around dodging and hiding from human, goblin and warforged whom are looking for him. Play wonders if Vestran ir’Simul and Zinter d’Cannith are working together in some way. Simul has many reasons to possibly want stronger and improved warforged workers. Many or whom he suspects are working illegally based on the Thronehold rules. He’ll pay the “noble” a visit later.

Then, finally, it happens. Play spots Zinter with several warforged.

Zinter is carrying a wand and a scroll case. The warforged are armed this time.

From the safety of the darkness, Play begins his attack. The flames wash over Zinter and the guards. “Get him!” the artificer calls out in pain. Play smiles and fires one more blast before moving off. Play dodges into a new area of darkness. He climbs a ladder and waits at the top. A warforged with red eyes (thus a fiendish docent) climbs quickly after him. At the top he receives a powerful strike to the head that stops it cold. Play strikes him again for good measure before moving away. He can’t allow himself to be penned down. Speed is his greatest ally against these guys, and his magical vision will help also.

Play races around a corner on the catwalk and takes a moment to bend down and set up a quick trap. He has spent the past day thinking about how to deal with the warforged and if he encountered Zinter. The wand of fire was useful with the otherwise regenerating warforged.

The warforged in the lead rushes around the corner and trips on a cord Play stretched near the floor. The warforged catches its balance before going over the rail’s edge. Play finds a ladder going down quickly. He is ready to strike the warforged as they come down when he spots Zinter with his back turned to him.

Smiling, Play begins to sneak up on him. At ten feet away, Zinter addresses him.

“Do you truly believe I would return here without a plan? All I need to do is say one word and I teleport away. It’s that easy to elude you- Moron.”

Play calls out- “No! Not this time!” and grabs him. “AWAY!”

[DM NOTE- basic teleport spell- both Zinter and Play want to be affected by it thus it works]

Play feels the familiar wash and tingle of the spell effect then picks up on fresh air and dampness. Even as Play begins to see the area they are traveling to Zinter kicks him free and calls out “AGAIN” activates the second teleport spell leaving Play behind……..

Play, mouth opened in dismay, looks at where Zinter just was. “I can’t believe this…….”
 

JOHN PLAY
“07 PLAY DEAD”
SEGMENT 91
“DANGEROUS DESTINIES”

ORLUNE 19, 994 Outside of Loom Keep one the border of Karrnath and Cyre-

The night is quiet and starry as John Play and Vassuea Utherean wait within some brush near the river that separates the two countries. They are here looking for a possible double agent. Evidence suggests a Dark Lantern is giving information to Karrnath through contacts here at the Loom Keep.

“Do you see anything Wind Whisperer?” Play asks as quietly as he can. His human eyes are much more limited than the elf’s low-light vision.

“No. Now be quiet Stormbringer.”

Fifteen minutes go by. An eternity to the young and very brash Dark Lantern. “Anything yet?”

The elf sighs in annoyance. It is the only answer Play gets.

Strangely, it is Play that spots the figure moving in the water near the Cyrian border. Play taps the veteran’s shoulder and points. The elf pushes down his arm. “A nod will do. Less movement- less to see.” He looks over and watches the person in the water. The person is dressed in black with a face hood on. His face appears to be painted black also. Maybe even dark grey. The man then crawls out of the water and seems content to be across from the keep. He is either waiting for someone or spying on the keep.

Play then hears his partner gasp and stare into space. Play concentrates on the tree line where he is looking. Ever so briefly Play spots red eyes of a humanoid in the tree. The person or creature then silently and with no effort unfolds large dull grey wings and takes to the air. The wings look awkward and cumbersome, moth like.

The elf says something in his racial language and makes a religious gesture of protection. Play is confused and curious. He has never seen Vassuea unnerved before.

In a mere awed whisper the elf replies. “That was a…. I’m not sure what to call in common…. The direct translation is a ‘Destiny’ or Eldeen Druids call it a ‘Mothman’. I have heard many stories growing up about them. I always thought they were mere folklore… a boogieman to scare unruly children.

“So…..” Play wonders as he thinks there is more to this than what is being said.

“These creatures appear only during times of great calamity. They aid the dead to travel to Dolurrh, the plane of the dead, everyone’s final fate.”

Play looks to the sky but sees nothing.

“I don’t understand why that should bother you…. even if you are correct.”

The elf turns sharply at Play. A wild and terrified look is on his face. “You don’t understand. You didn’t see them. You have human eyes. “

Play is annoyed by the racial slur.

“You saw the one across the river. With my elven sight I saw deeper into the woods. There were dozens. DOZENS.”

Play waits for the meaning of this revelation.

“Tales say ONE will come when something that will forever change history happens. Typically a town is destroyed and one shows up. WHAT could happen to require DOZENS of the Destinies?”

Play looks over to the border of Cyre and tries to imagine this. What could happen?
 

JOHN PLAY
“07 PLAY DEAD”
SEGMENT 92
“THE RUINS AND DESTRUCTION”

RHAAN 25, 997

“Daanvi’s Confusion!” Play curses. He fell into Zinter’s simple trap like a rank amateur. Play takes a deep breath and calms himself. He looks around for hints of where he is (trying to not think of locations like Xen’drik, Argonnessen or even Sarlona.) and sees several things of interest.

SMELL-
There is the smell of salt water. Coastal area or island.
SOUND-
Gentle waves and birds. More coastal references.
FEEL-
Gentle breeze. Colder than Sharn. Northern coast or Sarlona.
TASTE-
Pollens…. Not fruit. Salt….
SIGHT-
Sparse pine tree forest. Eldeen or Karrnath? Ruins… stone….. and a… scroll. The scroll Zinter was holding when he first spotted him. Play picks it up and looks around some more. He also sees several things out of place. Shattered table and some cloth…. A curtain? Moldy… it’s been here for a while but not rotting.

He opens the scroll case and slides out the parchment. He looks at the sky. The sun is low and he believes to the west. He reads the note.

CONGRADULATIONS YOUNG HERO FOR HIRE- YOU HAVE STEPPED INTO MY TRAP ONCE MORE. I BELIEVE YOU WILL DISCOVER WHERE YOU ARE IN TIME AND WITH SOME EXPLORATION. BE CAREFUL OF THE THING THAT GOES BUMP IN THE NIGHT. I HOPE YOU MEET IT. ZINTER d’CANNITH

“Bastard!” Play calls out. “…and I didn’t pack a lunch basket either.” Play exclaims trying to lighten the situation.

He walks around to explore, not because Zinter said so, but to try to figure out where he is and what to do about it. He climbs a rocky hill top and discovers he is on an island. In the far distance he can see a few possible mountains, maybe the mainland. The island is not very big. It is less than a mile round has no clear easy port or beach. Very rocky.

He climbs back down the hill and spots carvings in the ruins. Large stone blocks with images of depressed or captive people being led by winged and large eyed humanoids. They look familiar but he just can’t place it. All he sees is red eyes. Strange.

Something else catches his attention. Something near the shore line where the ruins reach a short fifty foot cliff that leads to the water below. Armor or maybe even a golem? He goes to it and finds the destroyed remains of a warforged warrior. Play looks it over. The leg was severely damaged. Then he sees the docent area in the chest is empty. It looks like something pried a docent out however. Looking at the face plate closer he then remembers the warforged. He is one of Zinter’s fiendish creations he battled on the airship over the Eldeen bay.

At least now he has an idea of where he is. He also now understands what Zinter wanted. Play is separated from the world with no means back and for his only companions he has the remains of a warforged that he killed. A reminder of why Zinter hates him and vice versa. And the “companion”. Who or what was Zinter hinting at?
 

JOHN PLAY
“07 PLAY DEAD”
SEGMENT 93
“VISITORS”

RHAAN 27, 997

Play has searched the island thourghly and sees no signs of life except for some birds and few seals. He is hungry and fears he will die of starvation before meeting the island’s companion.

Play is beginning to hate himself some now. Not only did he fall for an old trap but now the warforged in the Cogs will continue to be prayed on by Zinter. They will be given docents that possess them to his will while gaining strange powers not natural to warforged. He has harnessed the power or essence of demons and trolls thus far. What else has Zinter been able to isolate and place into his custom built docents?

Play climbs back up to the top. If need be, he can use the bow to take down a seal…. His morbid curiosity leads to wondering if it will taste like chicken or pig. Then he sees it- a flash of light. A magical portal has opened near the downed warforged. He studies it while drawing his bow. As expected- warforged… armed. More of Zinter’s augmented thugs.

“uh-oh” mumbles Play. The last warforged to step out before the portal closes looks about then a blackish-purple swirling aura or mist begins to seep from its mouth and seams of its armor. The eyes are not yellow or red but pure deepest black.

Play fires three arrows into the red eyed fiendish warforged. All three look up to Play and begin to hurry up the steps and platforms to reach him at the top. Three more arrows hit home. Play hopes to drop one before they reach him. Play fires again then moves over the edge out of view.

Play takes cover in a hollow made from worked stone with engravings of the large eyed winged creatures. As the docent empowered warforged reach the ridge they look for Play but cannot see him. Play sets his sights on the fiend again and fires away. It staggers and tries to pull at and remove some of the oversized arrows. It removes one and gets two more plunged into it. It staggers and looks at Play in defiance before tumbling down the stairs it stood at the top of. Play glances at it as it bounces past him and comes to a stop at the bottom of the stairs.

Play rolls to his side and takes cover in a nearby section of the ruins. The yellow eyed warforged and the black mist covered warforged take opposite sides of the stairs. Play pushes up against a wall and looks both ways around the edges. One warforged on each side. He doesn’t want to be in direct combat if he can help it. He pushes off with his feet and races down the stairs with the warforged hunters in pursuit.

Unseen by any of the three, the wall Play was by shakes and slides down revealing pitch darkness and a set of large glowing red eyes. They blink once then again before bursting to the night air in a rush of silence.

The yellow eyed warforged with the docent that allows it to heal waves its large bastard sword arm blade. It is looking for Play. The other warforged also has an arm blade. It and its body are covered by swirling wisps of blackish-purple energy.

Play switches to his demolition club. It is magically attuned to any construct (including warforged) to increase damage under specific conditions (sneak attacks). He tries to sneak around behind them. As he had hoped, they are unaware of his movement. He strikes the yellow eyed warforged and shatters it’s chest and head. He then runs for it as the dark mist shrouded one turns to him.

Play leaps over a wall and takes cover. The black mist bothers Play. What does it do? Nothing good anyway.

The black misted living (?) construct begins to look for the ex- Dark lantern. He goes to where Play was last but finds nothing there. He slowly stands up and looks around before searching again. Unseen by Play or the warforged, someone or something is watching from the shadows of the ruins. It’s red eyes narrow as it studies the black mist.

Several arrows strike the warforged from behind. The arrows seem to age and become brittle and break apart as the black mists wrap around them. “Enough. Zinter wants your death. Your death he shall have.”

“He talks!”

The warforged turns around to face Play.

“Boo.” Says Play as he strikes the warforged with his club of demolition. Play is surprised and steps back quickly. The club seems to pulse and glow irregularly within Play’s hands. The black mists are shrugged off before they destroy the magical club. “Buggers.” He says as he decides to stay away from the warforged and only strike from the distance.

The black mists reach out and grasp at the air. They are like a thing alive…. And its hungry. They spring forward Play is wisely far away. He switches to the bow and wonders how to end this. He fires three more arrows. Another three arrows strike and are destroyed after being removed. The warforged tosses aside the ashes and if it could snarl it would. The black mists swell and pulse.

The red eyes watch everything carefully.

Play pulls back the string to fire again but hesitates. Something is wrong. Horribly wrong.

The warforged with a magically treated docent in its chest stops and looks at its sword. The arm blade begins to rust and break apart. In amazement, awe and soon realization of its own doom, it watches the black mists intensify and swirl around its body.

“I…. do not understand…..” It begins.

The dark energy grows and creates a void around the construct. The volatile destructive energy implanted into the docent is beginning to consume it now. It is going critical. It builds up and there is a silent explosion that leaves a smooth walled round crater where the warforged once was. Unseen by Play, the docent remains intact and rolls to a gentle stop at the bottom.

Play missed it because he is looking on to something he has seen before but a long time ago. A black and dark grey molted body carried by reddish translucent wings holds up a humanoid creature with red eyes.

“Mothman…….” Whispers Play.
 

JOHN PLAY
“07 PLAY DEAD”
SEGMENT 94
“MOTHMEN…. DIRECTORS OF FATE AND DESTINY”

RHAAN 27, 997

“Welcome John Play.”

Play looks up to the hovering creature. “errrrr…. Hi……” He is not sure whether to attack, run, bow or prey. The last he saw one of things beings an entire nation died.

=I have been watching you. You are a curious individual to watch. You have an interesting destiny. I enjoy it very much.= It communicates within his mind.

“How do you know my name? You seem to know me but I don’t know you.” says Play still not putting his weapons away.

=I am aware of all things with a destiny. This includes you.=

Still unsettled, Play finds he cannot look the creature eye to eye. “So… you believe you know my destiny….” He leaves his comment hanging.

=Yes and you are not following it.=

“Yeah…. I’m known to do the unexpected.” Play finally lowers his bow but continues to not meet its stare. “Was it fate I would be here?”

= Perhaps. Fate is a strange thing. It is like points in history. How one connects the dots is the thing of freewill.=

Play remains quiet for a moment. He is uncertain what to do. His lantern training never covered Mothmen. “Glad you are enjoying the show. Can I go now? I have unfinished work in Sharn.”

=True but it is not with Zinter d’Cannith. It is with family and friends=

Play finds the nerve to look up and meet the creature eye to eye. He honestly isn’t sure if he will turn into stone or something like that. Play finds he is fearful of the creature but equally enthralled by it.

“Family? Everyone is dead.”

=dead?=

“Yes. My father died protecting the king.”

= Augustus Play died saving the king. Your father died stopping Gnolls from attacking a village.=

Play opens his mouth to argue then stops to reconsider that course of action. Just what does this creature want of him?

= I wish to have you return to the path of your destiny. I may have to educate you first=

“Educate….?!? What the hell are you……” Play begins to argue but again stops. Those damned eyes….

=Do you know where you are?=

“North of Eldeen reaches. On an island within Eldeen bay.”

=True but you are also somewhere important=

Play looks on impatiently.

=Humor me John Play. Follow me=

Play follows him to a stone wall. He has been here taking cover from the warforged before.

=Do you know your planes?=

“Yeah…..”

=This island is a gateway to another plane. It leads to Dolurrh=

“Isn’t that like…. The dead?” Questions Play with a great deal of unease.

=Yes. Only the dead or agents of fate may enter the realm=

“And you are…. An agent?” Play hopes at least.

=I and many others. I wish to show you something within however.= replies the gaunt creature as it unfolds its long arms.

“Now wait a moment…. Only the dead and agents of fate may enter. So I’m an agent?”

=Yes= and it touches Play whom is frozen in fear. =but not of fate=

Play’s eyes roll back and he collapses.

Play’s heart has stopped.

Play is dead.
 

JOHN PLAY
“07 PLAY DEAD”
SEGMENT 95
“THE DEATH OF PLAY AND HIS REBIRTH”

“RHAAN 27, 997”

Grey skies

Grey and bare trees

Grey stones

Dull

Play wants to close his eyes again and wake up.

=Welcome to Dolurrh John Play=

The Dark lantern rolls over and sits up. “Where are we?”

= Dolurrh=

“But I’m not….. I am dead. Why did you kill me you son of a bitch!?!?!” Play gets to his feet quickly and turns on the creature. The look in its eyes stops him.

=You have left the path to your destiny. I wish to point you in the correct direction=

“I don’t understand….”

=In Time John Play. In time….=

The creature’s red eyes peer into Play’s heart and soul. Play feels uncomfortably vulnible before it. “So what am I supposed to be doing then?”

=Follow me. In Time you will find the correct path to your destiny= The creature turns in midair and floats away across the grey landscape.

“But I don’t have time for this. I need to find and bring Zinter to justice!” The Mothman ignores him and seems to float away even faster. “Damn it!” and Play gives pursuit.

The dull grass crunches under Play’s feet as ne moves through the meadow. The creature floats onward. Finally a stone pillar comes into view.

“Is that where we are going?”

=In Time everyone mortal comes here=

Play feels he is missing something…. Time and destiny…. What is this creature up to? “And where is that?”

=the realm of the dead=

They come to a gateway cut into the stone and enter the darkness. They go down a long set of spiral stairs. There is no outer wall… only the center column the stairs hold onto. Sometimes he believes something is moving in the darkness but nothing ever appears. “Where again?”

=I am about to give you a great gift. I hope you appreciate it= Says the gaunt and tall creature looking down at Play.

Then play begins to see movement in the darkness. Swirling dark energy… ghosts? Souls…… he sees apparitions swirling about and moving around.

“Who are these people?” asks Play cautiously.

=Everyone whom has ever died=

“That’s a lot of people…. This can’t be everyone.” says Play as he tries to take it all in. “Why am I not out there then?”

=my will keeps you anchored here next to me=

“So what do you have to show…..” Play begins to ask but then stops. A lone spirit has stopped and begins to float towards the two of them. Play knows who it is.

“father….?”

The spirit moves closer. It looks sad and defeated.

“Father! It is me- your son! Its John.”

Another spirit stops and floats towards them. Then a few more.

Before him floats several people he knows well….. Augustus Play, Clem Play, Amanda Play and a family friend- Welter d’Deneith.

Augustus stares with hollow eyes at John. He is studying the Dark Lantern. “Father- don’t you recognize me?” It stares more with a questioning expression on its face.

“What is happening here? Why doesn’t he recognize me?”

Play, trembling and near the point of tears reaches out but the spirit is too far away.

=word of caution Play…. The dead should not be touched within the realm of Dolurrh=

“It’s my father….. he would not harm me.”

=not on purpose. Even the man that raised you would not.=

Play is about to begin a new argument but begins to catch on. He doesn’t want to listen to it….. but asks anyway. “Are you…. are you suggesting he is not my father?”

The creature says nothing.

“Are you suggesting he may be alive then?”

=no=

“My brother, sister and family friend are here but not…….” It begins to sink in. Tears flow… both from pain, confusion and betrayal.

“Welter….. he…. But I don’t have a dragonmark.”

=Not all children of the Dragonmarked bare marks themselves=

Play stares at the two of them….. his father and his…. Biological father…… “Why? “

=scandal…. And Jocasta never told August the truth. She hid it with magic.=

“Look- I’m getting tired of your hints of things…. What is going on?” Play begins to raise his voice. His anger is growing in strength. The fear of the creature next to him is leaving him.

“Show me my mother. She will explain this to me.”

Nothing

Play spins and raises a fist to the creature. “She’s not here. She’s not here! She is alive! Is that my fate? Is her being alive why I am being shown this?”

=Time will tell. You have been directed to the path again. Now we return=

“No!” He screams “I want answers now! No more games. Tell me…………”

Play feels dizzy and begins to collapse. The last words he hears is “In time….”

Play awakens laying on the ground. He spits out the dirt and leaves on the stone floor he finds himself laying on. “In time….. what is that evil and demented thing trying to get at?!?” Play rolls over and lays up against the wall. His back is itching again and he can’t help but rub at it.

“Why Mother? Why?”

Play quiets down for a moment and tries to take it all in again.

1. Destiny

2. Augustus is not his father

3. He is a Denieth

4. Mom is alive

“When I get off this damned island I’m going to find her.” Declares Play.

“John! I found you finally. I knew I would but I just never know how or when.” Says a friendly and familiar voice.

“Glyder? Glyder Freetime- is that you?” Says Play rubbing the tears from his eyes and cheek.

5. The reoccurring word and phrase of “In Time”
 

JOHN PLAY
“07 PLAY DEAD”
SEGMENT 96
“ALL IN TIME”

RHAAN 27, 997

“Glyder dear- WHEN are we this time and where are we- OH! Hello. Who are you?” exclaims a surprised female gnome. Play thinks he recognizes her but can’t place it.

“I hope you are here to get me outta here.” Exclaims Play as he gathers himself. He puts out his hand to shake a greeting to the other gnome standing above him. Glyder Freetime. Play knows Glyder. He is a time traveling gnome and friend of Kim Elderich. It has been a few years since the last time he saw the gnome but the gnome looks much older. Time travel…. So confusing. “and whom is your lady friend?”

“Catti d’Sivis… this is my friend John Play.”

“THE John Play?!? I have heard so much of you….” she says in a strange and very fake way.

“Sivis…. Now I know you. You are a reporter.” He says with some coldness. He senses she is holding something back. “I’m not in a mood for an interview. Glyder- can you get me outta here and back to Sharn?”

“All in time John.” Says the gnome. He senses the tension between Catti and Play. “Just to get this out in the open- Catti already knows you….. She did an extensive interview with you in her past…. In your future.”

Play takes a moment to absorb this. He remembers having a conversation with Kim about how confusing it is to keep up with Glyder. Glyder travels through time. Many of his stories amazed Kim. The confusion of time travel was brought up.

“Sorry….. I’m a bit… off right now. I apologize Catti. I meant no disrespect.”

“And I you. I was uncertain if we had done the interview yet or not.”

“John, I came here to bring you home but first……” the gnome reaches out to Play and Catti…. A glow and a sense of a warm pulsing wave of energy flows over Play… and the two time travelers.

A tall gaunt creature with red eyes witnesses it all….. =All in Time John Play…. All in time=
 

JOHN PLAY
“08 PLAY WITHIN TIME ”
SEGMENT 97
“FAMILY SECRETS”

LHARVION 23, 969 SHARN

“Push Jocasta! Push!” calls out the halfling midwife. Her enhanced Mage Hands are ready for the delivery.

“Ahhhhh! Third and…. LAST time….” The sweaty woman growls as she prepares to push again.

“I see a head. You are doing well! Push!”

“I…. #$@&* am!” she growls. The midwife smiles at her spirit.

“Here it comes…. One more Jocasta… one more push for me and the baby….”

“Ahhhhhhh------- “ Wahhhhhhhhhhhh is shared by two voices now…. Two Plays.

“Congratulations! It’s a boy!” The Jorasco halfling midwife gently uses her magics to cradle and clean the child. The cord is cut and soon the exhausted but joyful mother receives her third child.

“Too bad Augustus could not be here. I will be sure to contact the capital’s Sivis’ house to send word to him.”

“Yes…. Ever dedicated… to his… king and country……” she pants weakly and with a sense of hurt. “He is in Wroat this week.”

The midwife gets up and leaves the new mother with her new-born child. Five minutes go by when a curtain is pulled back. A man dressed in light armor and a red cape steps out. “Jocasta…. How are you?”

Welter d’Deneith creeps over to her side quietly. He holds her hand and gently kisses and holds it. “How is our child?”

“He is fine. His name will be John I think.”

“I like that…. My father’s name was John.”

“I know.”

“As was your great grand father’s name. Augustus will accept it without question.”

“Yes my sweet.”

“But…. Does he suspect….?”

“If so…. He is more concerned with duty and honor to worry about me. It is YOU that completes me now.”

“Our bloods…. Will he… John…. Will he have…. A mark?”

“It is possible. It is very possible.”

“Augustus will know then…. That John was not his.”

“Then I will work on that problem. But until then- we have John and our love.”
 

JOHN PLAY
“08 PLAY WITHIN TIME ”
SEGMENT 98
“THIS ISN’T SHARN”

RHAAN 10, 903- JUNGLES OF Q’BARRA

“… I was informed we may travel through time some.” Finishes the Gnome.

“WHAT! But the last I …knew… you…. had no control …over it. Crap.” Replies Play as he sees it is too late. The pine trees and stone ruins have been replaced by a hot and humid swamp. At least they appeared on dry land.

Calli looks around. “Xen’drik, Argonnessen or Q’Barra?” she asks Glyder.

Play answers. “Q’Barra.”

“How do you know….oh.” says the gnome reporter as the Lizardfolk stop before them.

“Don’t suppose either of you speak Lizard?” says Play while sliding his batons into his hands.

“Hello- we have lost our way. Can you perhaps help us?” asks Glyder in near perfect draconic.

Silence. One lizardfolk flicks out his tongue which nearly sets Play off.

“Are we near Newthrone?”

Silence.

“Oh crap……” Glyder sighs. In draconic- “Haka’torvhak?”

The creatures tense up and grip their spears better. Play exposes his weapons which doesn’t calm or intimidate the creatures at all.

One of the lizardfolk steps back and points through the trees and brush. In the distance is a tall dark colored cliff with gray smoke rising from the top. Bits of obsidian and brass shine in the sun.

“Great. We are in Q’Barra near the lizardfolk center of power. It is a ruin that acts as a holding cell for many fiends from ages ago. Depending on exactly when we are, there may be either a real nasty dragon here or a fiend.”

“Good dragon or bad?” asks Calli.

“From our point of view…. Bad.”

“Oh goody. First I die, learn everything in my life is a lie, come back to life and get misplaced in time…. Only to die again. What can happen next?” grumbles Play shaking his head in bewilderment.

“Must…. Come with…. Us.” Says a figure behind the lizardfolk line. The lizardfolk move aside and kneel to the ground with their heads down. A cloaked tall figure holding a staff walks up to them. “Must… be shown…. The Caves.” The figure pulls down the cowl revealing a ½ lizard ½ humanoid person that perhaps is female. “The gods…. Insist.”

The three of them look to each other and sigh. “Here we go. Thanks Glyder. Next time call me up a boat instead.”
 

JOHN PLAY
“08 PLAY WITHIN TIME ”
SEGMENT 99
“THE CAVES”

RHAAN 10, 903- JUNGLES OF Q’BARRA

The jungle is thick and the insects large and numerous. The lizardfolk ignore them while Play swats at them. Glyder and Calli, with their smaller size are intimidated by the flying insects. They follow a path that crosses over several reed and wood bridges until they reach a dark colored rock mountain. No trees grow on it but the vines are thick and certain plants are growing using the vines for leverage. Pockets of clouds cling to the sides. Steam hisses out of unseen cracks in the rock.

The half-breed leads them to a series of openings covered by thick overhanging vegetation. The caves are not deep and thus maintain the heat of the day. Several lizardfolk are here but they look sad…. Even defeated. Beyond them are mats of thick straw and brush. Nests thinks Play.

“In the past few ….months we had thieves take our eggs. The eggs …..were returned just as mysteriously ….and silently as they were ….taken a week later. They hatched but the eggs were not ours. They belonged …..to lizardfolk but the hatchlings were ….slightly bigger and darker in color. Uncertain …..of what to do, ….we began to nurture them …..while we looked for our own hatchlings.”

“Why?” asks Play.

“They would have …..died otherwise.” The half-bred calmly answers.

“well….yeah right- go on.” The ex-Dark Lantern gives in. Not very far back in his mind he thinks he knows what this is about.

“Please finish your story.” Glyder politely says while giving Play a look of annoyance.

“The Black ….scales…. as we now…. Call them, they grew and grew. Then last week… they disappeared. We ….hope you can help us…. Find them ….and our original….. hatchlings.”

Play doesn’t trust her. Something seems wrong. He has fought the Black Scales before. It was just a scouting party and he and the warriors from Breland had been forced off course in a raid by the Elves. Now that Glyder is suggesting a dragon is involved…..

“Yes, we can help.” Complies the gnome time traveler.

Later…. When the three of them are alone. “Why did you volunteer us to search for their children and the nasty black thugs? You do realize these misfit children are the larger black cousins of the lizardfolk.” Growls Play in impatience.

“Oh course they are. But how? I feel like we are here to learn how the Black Scale race came to be or maybe something about the dragon that will in time come here.”

“Assuming it is not here already-“ adds Calli.

“Maybe they are related. Maybe it wasn’t the dragon that unified them but created them.” Offers Glyder.

“Let’s time travel back to 997 and ask one?”
 

JOHN PLAY
“08 PLAY WITHIN TIME ”
SEGMENT 100
“TIME TRAVEL”

RHAAN 11, 903- JUNGLES OF Q’BARRA

“So, what do you REALLY know about the dragon and the Black Scales that you are NOT telling us since it may mean I go crazy and take my frustration out on them leading to a hiccup in time and thus destroying everything?”

“It doesn’t work like that but yes- the less you know of the future the better.”

“Doesn’t work…..” I am NOT having a good year. Speak clearly Glyder.”

“YOU. You need to back down.” Declares the reporter. “Glyder will tell us what we need to know and that is all.” She says but her eyes wonder about things like Play had.

“Alright. From what I have seen, you can effect time but not change it. I used to think that a misstep was like a ripple in a pond. Each ring spreading out and changing things. But it doesn’t work like that.”

“Oh? And how does it work?”

“Instead of a pond it has current. It is in constant motion. It is like throwing a rock into a stream. There are ripples but the ripples are quickly corrected to what they were already.”

Play stares at the gnome for a few moments trying to decide if he is trying to trick him or not. “So… what next then?”

“We explore. We try to find out why we are here. Sometimes we are to merely witness something, other times to correct time.”

“Wait a moment- first you say time can’t be altered and now you are saying YOU alter it?”

“I am an agent of Chronos. Some ripples need more shaping then others. Just as some streams of time are a roaring river.”

Play opens his mouth to begin a new point then thinks twice of it. The sooner this is done the sooner he can begin to look for his mother.

The three of them walk out of the shelter provided for them by the lizardfolk nesters. It was an uneasy sleep. Both Glyder and Play know that nearby are fiends and those they influence. Within a hundred years, these fiends will grow in power and influence… unnoticed by the five nations whom will be at war with each other.

“Welcome outsiders.” The three of them turn to face the voice. It is the half-breed, Attilla. “I can take you… to the last ….known area of the…. Black scales.”

They follow her past the caves and nests to the jungle. She stops and looks to the three.

“What can you tell us John? Are there tracks?” asks Glyder.

“I’m not much of a tracker but I’ll amuse her.” Play wanders to the brush and mud and looks around. He sees clawed marks in the mud and soft earth but they walk over each other. He cannot decipher direction or number.

“Try again Play.” Says Calli as she begins to whistle an enchantment.

Play sighs. His mind is elsewhere…. Another time. The whistling carries a tune that settles in his mind. It refocuses him and he tries again. The tracks come in and circle impatiently before leaving. Three…. No four come in…. four leave. Clawed feet. Lizardfolk. Play begins to follow the trail into the jungle followed by the whistling bard and the time traveler. The half-breed watches with her head down. After a moment, she follows.

Play follows the tracks until he reaches a shallow stream. The whistling in his ears has begun to lose its power and enchantment.

“I’ve lost the trail.” Says Play but remains quiet that he has picked up on a scout watching them.

“Should I again….” Begins Calli but Glyder nods a slow no. He sees a difference in Play. Play is no longer hunting prints. His alertness is tracking something else…. Someone else.

Suddenly a lizardfolk with red eyes and red claws tears through the brush. Play has been watching it for the past two minutes. Deciding to go easy on the creature, he defends himself then with several swings of his clubs he takes the creature down. Having pulled his strikes, the creature sighs deeply as it sleeps off the hard hits.

“So much for going to 997 to get answers…..” says Play with a smirk.
 

JOHN PLAY
“08 PLAY WITHIN TIME ”
SEGMENT 101
“BLACK SCALES”

RHAAN 11, 903- JUNGLES OF Q’BARRA

“Where are the hatchlings?” asks Glyder in draconic.

The still groggy lizard mixed breed rolls its head with its tongue slipping briefly in and out…. “tasting” the air to determine whom is here before opening its eyes. Play doesn’t buy it. He clamps his hand on its snout and covers its nostrils. The creature’s eyes bulge and it violently shakes its head free and tries to bite his hands. “It’s awake.” Says Play very simply.

“Again….where are the hatchlings?” Glyder repeats.

“I could get him to speak up” offers Calli as she pulls out her wand of tongues which begins to glow. She gives the creature a moment to think of some nasty things the wand could do before smiling at it.

“In Tarrask-hut….. all in there” it says in a garbled draconic.

“and where is this Tarrask-hut?”

Play attempts to intimidate it by twirling the tonfas in his hands… which he then drops. Under his breath he grumbles at how he needs someone to officially train him in their use.

Five minutes later the three step aside to discuss what to do. Deciding to leave him tied up they will enter the camp and try to get the hatchlings back. They return to find the lizardfolk crossbred dead. A dagger driven into its neck. The three time displaced travelers look to each other. There is a traitor within the tribe and they all think they know who it is.

After further discussions like what each can do in a fight (yes I know- John Play has met Calli already but this is the first time…. Time travel gets weird ya know).

Using her bardic buffs, the ex- Dark Lantern creeps up to the edge of the camp. Several more of these cross breeds are here. The consensus is these are fiendish lizardfolk. Play feels he can easily handle these and collect the children. Before either gnome can speak up he charges into the camp. He may be limited in tricks with the unique clubs but he is quite good using them as standard short length clubs. Generally two or three strikes with the magical clubs drop each creature as he moves in. The gnomes attempt to sneak into the largest tent figuring that would house the hatchlings.

It does but there is a problem- they have been magically aged to young adulthood.

“John!” Calli calls out magically so that he can hear her.

He rushes the tent. Two guards step up and swing at him. He ducks down, uses the clubs unique “t” handle to trip the creatures up. Time permitting he would have finished them off first but who knows what the small guys have discovered or worse- discovered them.

Barging in there are several large black scale lizardfolk holding large clubs.

Caught unaware, Play easily closes the gap and gets between them and the gnomes. “These are hatchlings?!?”

“Magical accelerated aging. And there must be more.”

Two lizardfolk are dropped as John Play strikes the large creatures repeatedly on the heads and hands. They go down leaving two more. Calli sings a soothing song that makes them weary but as they are not true humanoids they do not fall asleep. It keeps them at bay as Play goes after them next. One goes down and the other snaps out of the daze and snarls at the black garbed human. It swings But Play stepped into and under the swing. Play drops it from behind.

“So- watching, observing or taking them down?” asks Play in sarcasm.

“It is clear the Black Scales were created through magic from normal eggs. This is the first batch. Not sure if this was ordered by the dragon, the trapped fiend or Attilla.” Offers Glyder.

“All of the ….above. Smart and…. Resourceful….. Your actions have…. Killed the clan.” The human- lizardfolk crossbreed steps in; she is covered with blood- lizardfolk blood. “But we know… the magical…. Process works. Soon there will…. Be hundreds of the …. Blackscales.”

Play prepares to attack but Glyder motions him to stay.

“Several other …. Clans have been …. Altered already….. soon to hatch.”

“Unless we destroy them.” Offers Play.

“She still wins. The lizardfolk will band together to hunt down and kill all humans. At least this way, in the future there remains a chance to undo this.” Says the time traveler.

“You mean…. We’re going to run?”

“I can feel it…. The Chrono energy. We have done what needs to be done. I can arrange aid in the future before the fiend escapes.”

Glyder, holding Calli’s hand, touches Play and they magically disappear into time.

The lizardfolk look at each other in confusion. The last words they heard (but cannot understand) is the human yelling “This is Bullsh**”.
 

JOHN PLAY
“09 PLAY NORMAL OR PLAY ABERRANT”
SEGMENT 102

THERENDOR 9 -1485 Pre Galifar time

Trevor and Sara Delicahn ran through the streets of Sharn in fear of their lives. The HUNTERs were after them. If caught they would be tortured then killed. Sometimes the bodies were found in the Dagger River and other times in the dirty alleys of the growing city.

The Cannith Hunters used magic to hunt them down, the halfling healers would do the torture. It was dismal at best.

“Stop! We wish to ask questions. Mercy will be given if you comply!” The Cannith Hunter grumbles quietly- “at least until we have our information.”

The two twins run further to the south. If they make it to the docks there is a chance. A second pack of Hunters arrive. Too late- they have reached the stairs leading to the docks…. To the water.

The second pack follows closely while the first pack hold up at the city’s edge. Using magic, the Cannith Hunter levitates out from the edge and begins to descend. The halflings that traveled with him frown at this. They begin to hop down the stairs quickly and yet carefully as they built for mankind- not halflings.

The twins are cut off on a dock by the levitator. “You are trapped Aberrant scum.”

Suddenly there is a wind and a whistle in the air. The wind circles and then suddenly emits light. The twins hold hands and nod at each other. They leap headfirst into the water even as three travelers fall out of the teleport. The two smaller people are gnomes and they tumble and bounce just short of falling into the water. The human dressed in black lands on his feet. He looks up at the mage and smiles under his mask and greets the mage with a mere- “allo.”

While holding bloodied clubs.
 

JOHN PLAY
“09 PLAY NORMAL OR PLAY ABERRANT”
SEGMENT 103

THERENDOR 9 -1485 Pre Galifar time

“Hold aberrant lovers!” demands the Cannith mage.

“As open sexually as I like to think I can be- aberrant is kinda cruel isn’t it?” replies Play whom assesses the situation quickly. Attack and ask questions later. He moves forward quickly but not quick enough as an unseen wand flashes and Play finds himself held magically. The gnomes try a different method.

“Where and when are we?” asks Calli sincerely.

“Calli!” Glyder hisses. “Excuse me; we are not from around here. I find us at a lost in fact.” He looks about. The cliffs are Sharn but the buildings are nowhere tall enough. Dragonmarked by sight of the blue tattoo on his forearm. Before 1480 or so. Hopefully NOT the war.

To be safe, the mage uses his wand on them also. Calli is held but Glyder rolls and rolls away. “Wait! No there must be a misunderstanding!” He rolls into the water with a hard bodily splash. The Deneith hunters arrive and look at the scene.

“Take the human and gnome to the camp. We’ll see if the aberrations surface or the other gnome. Go!”

They bind Play and Calli and drag them away. Glyder nor the two runaways ever surface and after ten minutes they leave assuming them to have drowned.

Fifteen minutes prior-
The twin aberrant Dragonmarked siblings grab hands as they rush down the dock. This allows their powers to develop quickly. Their powers work uniquely even for Aberrant. Individually, the powers work for a few mere seconds (one round) but if touching each other they last much longer. Their powers are mostly water based. In this case they will breath under water. However the Hunters are here already.

Fearing they will die now, they are about to leap and hope for the best when a sudden flash of light erupts behind them. They leap into the water as the hunters are distracted. Shortly, a strange haired gnome falls into the water. They gather him up and through their breathing abilities; they share mouthfuls of air with him. They wait deep under the dock within pieces of a sunken small fishing vessel and surface only when their powers begin to fade.

Quietly they surface under the dock away from the last hunter whom has just now given up and has begun to walk back to the city. Signaling for the gnome to be quiet, they make their way to another dock and land. They find a covered sewer grate and enter the underground catacombs.

Once they are a safe ways in they speak.

“We are Trevor and Sara Delicahn. We are also at your dept. Thankyou. We wish we could do more for you but he would never understand bringing a non-marked person to the home.”

Glyder debates what to say. “Those men took two of my friends. Where are they going?”

“Again, we are sorry. It is too late for them.”

Glyder knows how dangerous this time period is in Sharn. He needs help now. “The human dressed in black…. He is aberrant.”
 

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