The Sharn Inquisitive archives

Watch Apprehends Cobbler Criminal, Unearths Gruesome Trophies
By ARTHUR KNIGHT, Senior Serial Killer Correspondent
11 Lharvion, 998 YK

OAKBRIDGE -- Screams of terror interrupted a casual bridgetop party Wir night on the crossing between High Hope and Oakbridge. Watchmen responded quickly to reports of a grisly double homicide, committed against local dentist Jok Lendathan and his beautiful wife Sara. According to eyewitnesses, the victims were stabbed multiple times, and poor Sara's feet were removed at the ankle.

Astute readers of this humble chronicle will recognize this as the trademark of a serial killer who has long fascinated amateur inquisitives throughout Sharn. After scanning the past twenty years of our pages, we found at least thirty instances of similar crimes: victim stabbed, feet stolen, tongue cut out but left in the mouth. Dubbed the 'Shoebox Killer' by the Sharn Watch, it appeared at first that this filthy foot-nabber had struck again - twice.

But thanks to the clever thinking of the responding officers, the streets of our fair tower city have one fewer madman lurking through them.

Famed master inquisitive Victor Saint-Demain was on scene, his uncanny crime-solving senses guiding him to the district even during a stroll home from dinner. Saint-Demain and other responding officers found evidence that the killer was hiding on the premises, and brought a bloodhound in to sniff out the culprit. What followed was an oddity that could truly only happen in Sharn.

"The dog began to bark, having found something," said Saint-Demain, under the condition that we state it was the responding officers, not he, who saved the day (How modest! --ed.). "I walked out to balcony and saw the dog looking down over the edge."

An edge that was above a 2000-ft. drop to Lower Northedge. Zil skycabbie Fendwick Noful was passing under the bridge, and had a firsthand view of what happened next.

"This dog was barking at something under the balcony, so I slowed down, wondering if someone was down there. And by gosh there was: a goblin! But not the sort you see in the cogs. He had on these nice square glasses and was dressed like a workman, though he was covered in enough blood to be a butcher. Still, he looked nice enough, like some goblin's grandfather. I saw he had some strange bundle in his arm, and though he was standing on a ledge that couldn't have been wider than a foot, he looked just like he was bringing groceries home to the family."

That bundle? The late Sara Lendathan's feet and her brand new, blue sequin high-heeled shoes. The goblin - later identified as Saal "Leather" Grabaal, a cobbler from the Gates of Gold slum in lower Dura - "must have realized the bell was tolling for him," said Saint-Demain. "He made a run for it, heading for the end of the bridge.

"I've caught my share of murderers," Saint-Demain continued, "but I would've let this one go. I don't like heights. The officers with me, though, were not content to let others track the killer down later."

Two officers jumped down from the balcony to the same narrow ledge Grabaal was using as his escape route -- a ledge much less narrow for the boots of watchmen -- while Alexiaietano, a young Aereni mage on retainer with the Watch, swooped down magically upon the fleeing suspect, cutting off his escape.

Noful, sitting at the oar of his hovering skycab said he was "stunned. The cops, they surround the goblin, and I figure the guy is going to surrender. I figure he's some thief who stole someone's bread and got in over his head. But then out of nowhere he starts throwing knives and stabbing at the watchmen. He must've had a dozen knives in that coat of his."

Twenty-eight, according to the report filed by the squad afterward.

"The officers handled themselves, well, theatrically well," Saint-Demain commented. "I had no idea we employed such acrobats and daredevils. One of the officers was struck a debilitating blow by the vicious wretch, but the others managed to grab and subdue him."

"Lucky me," Noful exclaimed. "Right before they grabbed him, I saw him look at me. I could swear he was intending to jump down onto my cab to try to get away from the cops. I saw what he did to that watchwoman with just one knife, and like I said, he had lots (twenty-eight, --ed.). Those officers saved my life."

His escape attempt thwarted, Grabaal was taken into custody and put under tightest security. Later that evening, investigators raided the goblin cobbler's home and found out what he's been doing with all those shoes over the decades; the basement of Grabaal's shop was lined floor to ceiling with racks of eighty-seven pairs of shoes, arranged meticulously from smallest to largest, no two pairs the same, and every pair complete with its former owner's feet still tucked snugly in.

We contacted the Shoebox Killer by sending, and asked why he did what he did. His response? "Shoes are for walking, not for a fashion statement. In my day, no one would be caught dead wearing something so gaudy. Times have changed."

Fashion victims of Sharn, rejoice. You can wear your tiger stripe threehorn clogs without fear. And all thanks to a group of five Sharn Watchmen who ran him down, and the always modest master inquisitive who found him, Victor Saint-Demain.

(C) 998, The Sharn Inquisitive





(With thanks to Nicolas Logue for the idea.)
 

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Celebrity Watchmen the New Face of Crime-Fighting
By ARTHUR KNIGHT, Senior Excesses-of-the-Aristocracy Correspondent
20 Lharvion, 998 YK

SKYWAY -- They say fame comes to those who seek it, but glory comes to those who deserve it. So we should all pay attention to a group of celebrities from our grand city’s Watch, to see which they earn.

This month’s Tain Gala witnessed the rare attendance of mere watchmen, but amid the hundreds of exorbitantly well-paid security guards who one assumes are there to make sure the fabulously wealthy nobles don’t try to steal aboleth caviar from the merely embarrassingly wealthy nobles, these cops were not here for law enforcement, but rather for their grand debut. It seems we will want to get to know these officers, because, whether we like it or not, the aristocracy wants them to be the shape of things to come.

Chief Inspector Belew Yorgan of the Central Plateau watch accompanied five city servants we will all have our eyes on. Each of the five is assigned to a different precinct, so the group will have jurisdiction anywhere in the city, except Skyway of course.

Northedge and Central Plateau will be safe under Aereni mage Alexiaietano, while his watchwoman sister Yew Tue is assigned to Cliffside. Kalashtar mentalist Shadoa will be be responsible for the rowdy streets of Dura, while human Stephen Tyleat (who we suspect is the quisling of the group -- Ed.) and the towering half-orc Nicolai Obsidian, both veterans of the Last War, take Tavick’s Landing and Menthis Plateau, respectively.

These five officers, with the aid of famed master inquisitive Victor Saint-Demain, recently apprehended the “Shoebox Killer,” who had long terrorized citizens in the parts of town where they don’t have diamond chandeliers.

Some of the group seemed out of place in high society, where they rubbed elbows with such dignitaries as Baron Trelib d’Medani and Gehn d’Orien, though it seems illusion-happy Alex is taking to it well, as much a social chameleon as a physical one. We saw him chatting it up with Councilor Sava Kharisa (SOC - Lower Central; she recently established the Karvasi Asylum for the Criminally Insane in the Black Arch), as well as Aereni ambassador Lady Taelira and Victor Saint-Demain himself. (See our accompanying report on Saint-Demain’s suspected push to hire on with House Medani’s elite inquisitives -- Ed.)


The rest of the group seemed more comfortable enjoying the free banquet, cigars, and other more sundry delights, than they were with the idea of being in the public eye. Reports suggest their new position entails a 50 golden throne per month salary apiece, though, so perhaps they were just trying to get used to a life of luxury.

Councilor Doran Cantar (IND - Middle Dura) explains that the arrangement, which he spearheaded, “is to show the people of Sharn that they don’t have to rely on outsiders for their protection. Too often the Watch has been, with all due respect, overwhelmed by threats too great for the simple trios of flat-foots who patrol our streets now.”

The Sharn City Watch reportedly spent 89 thousand golden thrones in the last year on the hiring of so-called ‘adventurers,’ to handle threats ranging from cross-jurisdictional assaults on the Daask crime syndicate and simple missions that would otherwise be politically “inconvenient,” to battling warforged behemoths in the Cogs and demonic cults in the lower city. Most of these adventurers were foreigners, who took their huge earnings and likely squandered it in Xen’drik.

Cantar, long an advocate of increasing Watch power, said he hopes this initiative will not only keep all that money in the local economy, but will also foster a greater sense of safety among the populace. “We want our citizens to know we’re looking out for them,” he said, “and that the darkness of war has passed. There are brighter days ahead.”

Cantar’s bodyguard Niro Graymalkin had a different opinion: “Nothing ever gets better. Never trust life when it tries to trick you.”

Just three days later, the quintet took in their first criminals. Perhaps it was mere coincidence that the three they apprehended -- for the vicious crimes of disturbing the piece, drug possession, and multiple counts of aggravated assault -- were self-styled adventurers from Aundair, living in Clifftop, a well-known adventurers’ quarter. A fourth suspect was killed after he and others in the group used lethal force against the watchmen.

So, fame or glory? The jury for now is still out, but this writer is leaning toward fame, and a black sort at that.




© 998, The Sharn Inquisitive



Tales in Blood
By an unknown contributor

(This strange piece of literary horror was delivered to our office with a note warning, "Prepare for the black winter." We leave it to our readers to determine what it might mean -- Ed.)

Part One
Flesh tears in bloody strips. Hungry mouths -- huddled beneath golden gates, perched atop spires stargazing, laid low in a city of blinding heights -- await a feast from the theater of men. A grand play we are, greater than the silvered pens of playwrights could compose, our truths more subtle than the decrepit critics of ivory towers could ever know.

One such prickly pen looks down from his high window, down upon the playhouses and brothels, the hot living places that history forgets. His office is to judge, but his verdicts are corrupt, his head filled only with dry words, dead poems he prizes while life beats in the city's heart below. He writes his sentences, but the ink just traces the empty path of hollow veins. How much better if his pen were alive, and his blood could flow again.

A black winter will fall, and its tale shall be writ in blood.

-Quoth the Raven

 

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Dawn

Visitor
Excellent! Let me be the first to welcome this new storyline.

Looking forward to more.
 
Is Stopping Petty Crimes Worth 3K?
By ARTHUR KNIGHT, Senior Editorialist
23 Lharvion, 998 YK

TAVICK'S LANDING -- I'm sure my fair readers all have better things to do today than read a long invective against Councilor Doran Cantar's new project, but as you wait for the Race of Eight Winds to begin, you might want to keep an eye out for who will be providing your security.

On the evening of the 21st, the Sharn Interjurisdictional Specialists, that quintet of law enforcement officers intended to make us feel like our streets are safer, were taking a posh tour of the new and wastefully extravagant Karvasi Asylum for the Criminally Insane, built in a repurposed fortress deep in Black Arch, when they were called to respond to a dreadful murder in Copper Arch, that of respected gnome artificer Zebo Mantroon.

Mantroon's murderer, an unnamed troll, was eventually found and slain, but despite the well-known resiliency of trolls, the SIS somehow managed to kill the monster before it could be taken in and questioned.

Poor Mantroon's remains were mostly recovered, and some respect must be given to orcine officer Obsidian, who had the presence of mind to catch the gnome's corpse when it was hurled as a projectile at him, rather than simply letting it fall gruesomely on some unsuspecting Sharny below.

But the now-eternal mystery of the gnome's murder was not a total waste. Another suspect was spotted at the scene, a child-sized warforged who fled, no doubt in terror after officer Tyleat, in a rare move of boldness, incinerated the fallen troll's skull. I know many of my readers have less than a loving opinion of warforged, but was it really necessary for the officers to throw the panicked construct out of a window? If not for the fortunate presence of a large rooftop balcony, we would have no suspects to question.

The balcony's presence was fortunate for another reason. Reportedly, the Tavick's Landing watch collected over 500 golden thrones in fines after the SIS officers discovered a dreamlily farm hidden underneath the innocent rooftop flowers. The lily was destroyed, and the owner of the tower balcony's claims that he'd "never noticed it was there; it must've been growing since before [he] bought the place" were ignored. At least that's one bit of good police detection.

I'll leave for another time the debate about just why a harmless drug like dreamlily must be considered a restricted substance, but obviously it's important for the watch to make sure no one profits from its black market trade - other than them, of course.

I suppose the Watch has to find a way to pay their salaries, though. According to a private informant, the city is paying our newest protectors 50 thrones a month each for the wonderful brand of protection they're offering. Killing suspects, harassing mechanical minorities, and practically stealing from honest entrepreneurs just trying to help supply those victimized veterans who only wish to make the pain of their war injuries bearable.

I don't deny the SIS's effectiveness at killing monsters, but ask the poor children in Gates of Gold if they couldn't use a bit of that 3K salary this year. I hear it's going to be a cold winter.

Now I must run and get ready for this afternoon. Despite the rain that has soaked our grand skybridges these past few days, people all throughout Dura have already begun camping out near choice spots along the race route. A word of advice, though: if you can't get the spot you want, try not to get into a fight. Rumor is the SIS will be helping provide security for the race.

© 998, The Sharn Inquisitive



Tales in Blood
By an unknown contributor

(Another letter was delivered to us in this ongoing horror tale. We normally don't run unrequested submissions, but reader feedback has been positive with an edge of curiosity. Also, this writer at least hasn't asked for payment yet. -- Ed.)

Part Two
A crow watches from beyond the rain-slick glass of our judge’s office as the man’s parched lips part with a gasp. In his door stands a student, a young thing who has petitioned her writing to him for a year of toil, and who now, her blood thick with fermented lust, petitions him with another request. Her rose petal lips have a blush which our pendulous professor has not seen in ages, and the satin black descent of her dress calls to him.

So caught is he by this long-forgotten rush of blood that he does not question his fortune. This pinnacle of purist literature belays his judgments, abandons his dry pen, is living a tale. Confused as if in a dream, he drinks her offered cup, and the poison grips his senses. He does not know where he flies.

But the crow does. It calls to its kin and follows, a silent chronicler, diving low to where thunder mutes their moans.

-Quoth the Raven​
 

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Dawn said:
Excellent! Let me be the first to welcome this new storyline.

Looking forward to more.
Thank you Dawn. I hope that the narrative makes sense from a distant perspective, instead of the normal storyhour format.
 
I'm working on the next update now, which will cover three sessions worth of crime-fighting. The holidays kept me busy, but hopefully I'll get the next 'issue' done before tonight's game.
 
SPECIAL REPORT! Reckless SIS Sting Endangers Sovereign Cathedral, Hundreds of Lives
By ARTHUR KNIGHT, Senior Interfaith Correspondent
25 Lharvion, 998 YK

HIGH HOPE -- Only a day after the murder of beloved equestrian and racer Trace Noren during the Race of Eight Winds, the SIS, which had been trumpeted as the coming thing in Sharn law enforcement, undertook a daring sting operation that nearly resulted in the destruction of the new Cathedral of the Sovereign Host, but which has yet to provide any concrete answers on who killed Trace, or why.

Word has already spread through the city about Trace's death, and rumors abound, but we at the Inquisitive have spoken to our contacts in the city watch and on the racing board, and we encourage our grieving readers to consider what we have uncovered as they read on; it will be a long ride.

At roughly the seventeen mile marker of the Race of Eight Winds, fans were crowded about the so-called 'Ruined Way,' a course of crumbling arches and spraying fountains that provide a dazzling rainbow-like spectacle as racers, mounted atop their preferred steed -- pegasus, eagle, griffon, hippogriff, hawk, glidewing, and owl, as well as a gargoyle who flies by himself -- dive and roll through the hazards. This afternoon, however, there was a different danger, an assassin tasked specifically with ending the life of Last War veteran scout Trace Noren, a man who had become a hero to the Cyran refugees throughout the district of Dura.

Also present were the five members of the Sharn Interjurisdictional Specialists, tasked with keeping order in the sometimes rowdy crowds attending the race. It caught everyone by surprise, even these prominent law officers, when Trace's pegasus took the mandatory underpass beneath the arching Bolen Bridge and emerged on the far side without its rider.

We spoke with the pegasus, Mylil, for his insight. (Our thanks to Crisentia Auren, priestess of Dol Arrah, for translating from celestial. -- Ed.)

"We were well ahead by this point," Mylil claims, "and so I took the underpass casually. There was no way we were anywhere near the stone, but I felt a jerk, and when I looked back Trace had been knocked from my saddle. We were only a hundred feet over this fountain, and I had no chance to swing around and catch him before he hit."

Not that it would have made a difference. Several mages in the crowd used magic to featherfall Trace, but Veso d'Jorasco, serving as coroner for this investigation, reports that Trace suffered a devastating blow to his head, and was dying or dead by the time he gently reached the ground.

According to the watch report filed by SIS member Yue Tew, Trace landed in the foot-deep fountain, and as Tew and her brother Alexiaietano (an avowed follower of the Aereni religion of the Undying Court) rushed to his aid, the rest of the quintet set out on figuring out whether foul play had been involved. Until this point, the actions of the SIS were commendable. But then things took a distasteful turn.

Mylil explains, "[Alexi] the elf claimed that there might be others waiting to assassinate Trace, and that the best way to draw them out would be to make them think their first attempt had failed. I was incensed at the loss of my friend and not thinking clearly, so I agreed to his plan. He used magic to disguise himself as Trace, climbed into my saddle, and we rejoined the race."

And went on to win it, a fact that initially led to fervent joy in Highwater, with the greatest number of supporters of the pegasus. Along the way, Alexi managed to injure one other rider, and was spotted using unapproved magic against other racers to aid his flight to victory. This has left racing officials wondering if the elvish priest cared more about drawing out assassins, or winning the cup.

Race officials chose to pay the purse to Mylil and to Trace's estate, with none going to Alexi, but the man is already garnering some interest and a heavy heaping of controversy for his bold actions.

Alexi's watch report claims that snipers fired at him while he was in the race, and that a magically cloaked assassin teleported (See our exposé about House Orien’s teleportation monopoly in next week’s issue -- Ed.) onto the saddle with him, slipped a garrote over his head, and attempted to strangle him. Already rumors are spreading that these are merely fabrications to justify his actions, though his fellow SIS members corroborate his story. But while this event has provoked controversy and several vicious bar brawls, it pales in comparison to what happened next.

The investigation took the SIS to House Vadalis, sponsors of Trace and Mylil, but there the official watch records become sealed. A source that asked to remain anonymous, however, says that tracing the finances of the late Trace Noren to his next of kin revealed ties between the unfortunate racer and one Niro Graymalkin, bodyguard of Sharn councilman Doran Cantar. Cantar, as astute readers of this chronicle will recall, is the prime impetus behind the development of the SIS.

Through our own investigations, we discovered that not only Trace and Niro, but also Doran Cantar, were members of a mercenary company during the Last War, from roughly 995 to the destruction of Cyre.

As a brief aside, the ranks of the SIS were quietly shuffled the evening of the race, excising the loose canon Stephen Tyleat with pretty boy Myrrhin. See our report, “Daask Assassination Thwarted” on page 7, for more details.

The next morning, SIS members arranged a swift meeting with Councilman Cantar. We cannot pin down what was discussed in that meeting, but Cantar chose not to cancel his scheduled appearance at the new Cathedral of the Sovereign Host that evening.

The new Sovereign Tower, an elegant twelve-story stone structure capped with the Sovereign Cathedral and a graceful wooded park beside its skycab landings, floats thirty feet off the western edge of High Hope, not yet connected by bridges. Under the bottom of the tower, five air elementals were bound by Sharn skymages, and it was they who held the tower aloft. Access is only available via skycab, though visitors are now prohibited due to the perilous 20-degree listing of the tower.

This reporter was himself on site covering the opening of that cathedral, and though the SIS member Alexi did his best to deflect inquiries, it was clear that they were acting as bodyguard to Cantar, and that they were well aware something was primed to happen. We ask that you forgive the somewhat more personal account that follows, for it was a harrowing experience, and we seek to give you a true sense of the danger that faced all those who foolishly trusted their safety to the SIS.

Aereni elf Alexi, the hulking half-orc Nicolai “Ugly Nick” Obsidian, kalashtar telepath Shadoa, and human warlock Myrrhin stayed close to Cantar as the crowds gathered for the festivities, while Yue Tew remained out of sight of the cathedral interior. Alexi hovered near me, and much repartee was exchanged until he promised me a personal interview, apparently hoping that his silver tongue could convince a two-fisted reporter such as myself to treat him and his teammates with kid gloves, instead of reporting the abuses of their positions with clarity and honesty.

During our verbal sparring I witnessed newcomer Myrrhin speaking with a memorable, beautiful blond sorceress dressed as if she were about to set out on an adventure. Later identified as Ibix d’Lyrandar, this woman spoke with Councilor Cantar for a few minutes before taking a seat for the opening ceremony.

Then, somewhere between the eight-piece band’s act and the opening prayer, I noticed a slight swaying in the building. Looking out the high stained-glass windows lining the beauteous cathedral, I realized an intense wind was gusting through the branches of the park balcony. Later it was discovered that Ibix d’Lyrandar had conjured a minor tempest to blow the Sovereign Tower away from the safety of High Hope, leaving it hundreds of feet from the nearest solid ground. Meanwhile, assassins had snuck around the Cathedral, using magic to hold shut every door, trapping us within.

I tried to warn the SIS, but then the first of several jolts shook the cathedral, and the entire tower began to list to one side. The Lyrandar mage fled, dimensionally jaunting through a window onto the balcony as chaos broke out inside. The SIS officers smashed open the window and pursued, while the tower shuddered a second and then a third time, until it was leaning at a perilous angle that made evacuation difficult.

Watchman Myrrhin stayed within the cathedral, guiding the guests to safety while the rest of the SIS engaged in a battle outside with a band of crossbow-sniper assassins striking from a swift skyboat. They handily left Cantar practically unguarded inside, however, so it was fortunate no assassins remained within the crowd.

Eventually the magically-barred doors were shattered and the crowd began to flee, but the cathedral shook a fourth time, and the tower began not only to list, but to spin slowly like a top wobbling at the end of its run. Above the park, magic and weaponry filled the air as officer Obsidian subdued the archers in the back of the skycab while officer Alexi unleashed freezing webs upon them. Eventually the skycab, grappled by some magical device, smashed into the park trees and came to a stop.

Aided with magical flight, Shadoa and Myrrhin dove down to defend the elementals at the bottom of the tower, while I at the head of the crowd guided the way to the skycabs, so other innocent bystanders could get to safety. The skyboat snipers were defeated, and a final murderous skycabbie -- who we assume was also an assassin -- attempted to knock Councilor Cantar off the edge of the tower. Cantar himself beat that cabbie into unconsciousness, perhaps demonstrating the same military techniques he wielded as a mercenary in the Last War.

Roughly a minute later, the two flying SIS members returned with a captive. His identity is currently unknown, but later, during the madhouse that was the police response, I overheard a watchman ask another if the assassins were “working for Hawkins.” Just before going to press, we discovered that the watch has been asking questions regarding one Hawkins d’Orien, son of Gehn d’Orien, patriarch of the Sharn branch of House Orien.

So, the SIS captured who we suspect are the assassins responsible for Trace Noren’s death. They thwarted an attempt to murder their employer, and hundreds of other people. Indeed, not a single person died in the evening’s mayhem, not even any of the assassins. (Quite an improvement from last week’s execution of a troll witness! -- Ed.) But are the SIS heroes? Or were they almost as culpable as the criminals they captured?

In the opinion of this witness to the evening’s events, their actions were foolhardy, and should not be praised in the least. They sought to put Cantar in an enticing position to lure out the assassins, but they could easily have done this somewhere without hundreds of innocents in the line of fire. It is unclear how many lawsuits will be filed against the Sharn Watch for their involvement in the near-catastrophe.

Even with the capture of the assassins, it remains undiscovered why they murdered Trace Noren, or why they desired the death of Doran Cantar. Cantar’s bodyguard as well remains at large, raising suspicions that he may be involved in the conspiracy. And what of this connection to House Orien? We will report on these mysteries as soon as we get more information.


(Sovereign Cathedral, safe for now.)​



Daask Assassination Thwarted, Watch Retaliates in Stake-out Turned Violent
By Clementine Lardi, Junior Police File Reporter
25 Lharvion, 998 YK

In an attack not publicly disclosed by the watch, SIS member Stephen Tyleat was attacked in his Little Barrington home in Middle Tavick’s Landing. A betentacled aberration referred to as a ‘choker’ was captured at the scene, thanks to the clever intervention of master inquisitive Victor St. Demain.

St. Demain, who humbly declined to comment in a case involving a fellow crime-fighter, had broken the pattern of the serial cop-killer known as ‘The Rasping Strangler.’ According to the report he filed with the watch in order to claim his sizeable commission, St. Demain waited for the murderer -- who has so far claimed the lives of six officers -- to appear at its next likely strike point. Instead of an attack, however, he witnessed a monetary transaction between an ‘ogre-like creature’ and the choker.

The two monsters parted ways, and St. Demain followed the choker, suspecting events would turn ill. His hunch proved correct when the Rasping Strangler snuck into the Tyleat home, where the SIS member lives with his younger sister. St. Demain was not fast enough to stop the attack, but when the choker fled the scene he was able to disable the monster with a blow from his cane, and keep it alive for later interrogation (A trick Tyleat himself apparently was not able to master; see the “Is Stopping Petty Crimes . . .” report in our Lharvion 23 issue -- Ed.).

Thankfully Tyleat himself awoke to the sounds of his sister’s struggles and managed to drive the choker away. According to an anonymous source Tyleat himself was unharmed, and his sister was in fair condition after her injuries were treated.

The Watch suspects the attack was retaliation for Tyleat dispatching a troll who was suspected to be working for Daask, two nights earlier. In reaction to the attack, Watchman Tyleat chose to immediately withdraw from the SIS and the Watch entirely, moving out of the city with his sister to protect her from further retaliation from the monster-controlled crime syndicate.

Tyleat’s position in the SIS was quickly filled by veteran watchman, Sergeant Myrrhin. We have been unable to reach Sergeant Myrrhin for comment, and other members of the SIS declined to respond to our inquiries.

The next afternoon, a group of watchmen were involved in a stake-out at the residence of an artificer informant in an ongoing Daask investigation. Witnessed reported the presence of at least two of the newly reconstituted SIS -- Yue Tew and Myrrhin -- who, after a running battle across the rooftops in Copper Arch that resounded with eldritch bolts and twanging arrows, delivered a large cadre of monstrous captives into custody.

Danny Retjo, Copper Arch resident, saw “them cart off five things that desperately needed stabbing. There was a dead bug, like a roach, but the size of a man and dressed in the skin of . . . I think it was Derek Conwatter, who lived above me. It was good and butchered. They had two more beaten up bugs too [. . .] and a man with a cow head who’d had his face smashed in. And the last one looked like a gargoyle, but he was moving. He had an arrow stuck in his skin, and he kept leaving flakes of white stone as he moved.”

It is unclear whether the skin condition of the gargoyle was the result of the watchmen, or a preexisting condition. (He’d better hope it was new, or Daask’s House Jorasco insurance won’t cover it! -- Ed.) Either way, the monsters have yet to be interrogated. We will report more when there’s more to know.


© 998, The Sharn Inquisitive



Tales in Blood
By an unknown contributor

(The mysterious writer continues to delight with his macabre sensibilities. Due to heightened readership since the inclusion of this mysterious story, we are offering a grand compensation of 5 copper crowns a word if the author comes forward. -- Ed.)

Part Three
Ravens call like the strings of a winter dirge, carrying the dying judge down into the clanking cogs of the fiery desert that is the heart of Shaarat. Moons gasp between towers to light his fall, and though he goes to his death, the life in this shadowed night chariot is more than he imagined in thirteen years of dry judging chambers. Heaving breasts and clenching thighs pull him down, and the orchestra of wings and gears climaxes with screams.

Passion and ecstasy hold no place in this pit of hell, sealed so that dust only breathes dust. Hooks tear the judge from his lover’s pleading flesh, and he dangles meat-like above the golden plinth that will render his judgment as he long did hapless judge. An audience of rooks dances ruin around the pit, and Aureon’s Shadow delights with a murder of his own. As truth opens the pen-critic’s eyes, ravens dive into his lover’s flesh, their beaks applauding as they feast on mead-blooded youth, dead in the fullness of life.

-Quoth the Raven​

(Apologies to Ocho Games for stealing their choker image. It’s awesome, inn’t?)
 

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Special excerpt from the Breland Ledger:

Publication of Sharn Inquisitive Suspended Pending Libel Trial
By Kerry Cavaliere, Torrini Award-winning journalist
28 Lharvion, 998 YK

All throughout Sharn, a single-sheet release from the Sharn Inquisitive, a popular tabloid journal, announced, "We regret to inform our loyal readers that the Sharn Inquisitive will temporarily be out of circulation, due to the libel charges rendered against staff writer Arthur Knight."

Knight, who was responsible for writing approximately thirty percent of the articles of the semi-weekly Sharn rag and who provided research for most criminal cases the publication reported on, chose to take a writing hiatus after being served a legal charge of libel from one Crisentia Auren, on behalf of the Sharn city watch and two hundred and fifty-five other parties.

The charge by Auren, a respected priest of the Church of Aureon, claims that Knight misrepresented the events that took place in and around the new Sovereign Cathedral on the evening of Lharvion 24. She has filed an injunction to forbid Knight from practicing any professional writing until he pays a fine in the amount of 5,100 golden thrones for the defamation of herself and 255 other citizens present at the attempted terrorist attack on Sovereign Tower. Additionally, she seeks punitive damages in the amount of two silver sovereigns for each copy of the issue of the Inquisitive that ran the defaming story.

The Sharn Inquisitive, based out of the Logue Tower Hall of Historical Records in High Walls district in the ward of Lower Tavick's Landing, closed down for business last night, pending the acquisition of a new writer to cover Knight's responsibilities. They are expected to be back in circulation within a few weeks. See more details in our Classifieds section.
 

Colmarr

Visitor
Is this SH dead?

Rangerwickett, is this story hour dead? That last post seemed like there was some real-life drama and the campaign might have prematurely closed.

If so, damn. I think this was on the best and most entertaining campaign threads I've ever seen.

Edit: Looking back on the time gaps between some of the posts, maybe there's hope yet. Fingers crossed.
 
*grin* Thanks for the concern. The game is still going on, and the closing of the paper is part of the narrative. Last week ended on a cliff-hanger, but we'll finish tonight. I'll probably be updating Thursday.
 
Daask Strikes SIS, Ravages Sharn
By Clementine Lardi, Senior Recap Correspondent
8 Rhaan 998

FIRELIGHT -- Officers of the Sharn Watch responded in force to an attack on the Flaming Ogre, a massage parlor in the Firelight, Lower Menthis. The location was quickly sealed from onlookers, but one survivor of the attack who wished to remain anonymous says, "I heard the breaking glass first, then the screams, and then blood sprayed across me. I hid under the bed, and heard heavy feet and screaming voices. I know one of the things, whatever they were, looked in my room and sniffed, but the Host blessed me and I was spared."

What were the attackers?

"Trolls," said Cameron Daff, a member of the Sharn Watch's magically-minded Blackened Book. "They're organized, which trolls almost never are. That means one thing: Daask."

Daask, the monstrous crime syndicate whose leaders are rumored to include fierce ogres, the savagest of gnolls, and beings so hideous their gaze turns men to stone, has never struck so boldly, but in recent weeks as we prepared to go to print again, we have collected stories that seem related to this force of fear in our fair city. Many of these tales involve the Sharn Interjurisdictional Specialists (SIS), who rose to fame last month for bringing down Gehn d'Orien, scion of the dragonmarked house of Passage.

(For more on Gehn's high-profile conspiracy trial -- including the assassination of town hero Trace Noren, the Sovereign Tower terrorist attack, the murder seventeen Watch officers in the aftermath of said attack, and the near-destruction of the House Jorasco enclave in Upper Dura -- look for our special report next week. --Ed.)

An hour after midnight, five trolls rampaged through the establishment, killing at lowest count twelve and possibly many more. Then they fled into the depths of the city. Tragically, several citizens and resident adventurers attempted to thwart their escape, and received grievous wounds. The scene of carnage overtaxed the local Jorasco healing houses, and victims have been transferred across Sharn for proper treatment.

Among the injured is the establishment's owner, one Nilsmam Marx, who was abducted by the trolls and carried into the sewers. The six-member SIS team arrived on scene less than a half hour after the attack and followed the trolls' trail. Three officers from the Blackened Book accompanied. The expedition returned before dawn, having rescued Miss Marx, but at the cost of one yet unidentified Blackened Book officer's life. SIS newcomer Xerxes Marx, son of the abductee, was seen at his mother's bedside at the Jorasco house.

Once again Daask has directly targeted a relative of the SIS (see 'Daask Assassination…' in our 25 Lharvion 998 issue), sending a message that the Watch needs to back off, or else. The Watch's official reaction is yet unknown.

The attack on the Ogre was not the only assault of the evening. We are collecting reports from around the city of Daask attacks on private businesses and citizens, some of whom are suspected to have connection to halfling criminal syndicate Boromar, which has been engaged in a quiet protracted battle with Daask these past months. As noted above, the SIS have been involved with several of these incidents, often acting almost directly in Boromar's favor.

Daask seems to have been increasingly targeting those close to the SIS. Kalashtar officer Shadoa was supposed to attend the funeral for one Aziz Elakan, a prominent and respected pillar in his neighborhood who was allegedly murdered by Daask's gnoll enforcers; and half-orc officer Nickolai "Ugly Nick" Obsidian was reportedly targeted tonight in his home, and only avoided death because he was pulling an extra late shift. Whether these attacks are in retaliation for the SIS's rumored buddying-up with Boromar and how the recent violence will influence tomorrow's elections is unclear.

"The Watch's official stance," said SIS commander Captain Belew Yorgan, interviewed yesterday, "is that of course the supposed Boromar mafia is a threat, but I think the people of this city want us to be fighting the monsters, not the halflings."

We will report more on this Daask-Boromar conflict and the SIS involvement in the coming weeks. Look for our special reports on:
  • Rumors that Councilwoman d'Jorasco (TRA -- Little Plains) was murdered by Daask for her connection to Daask, and how the SIS faced undead horrors in the Cogs to recover her body.
  • Reports of corpses being smuggled into the city via the docks of the Hubris Tower slum in Cliffside.
  • Efforts by the SIS to apprehend several lieutenants of Daask.
  • Victor Saint-Demain's cunning victory over a coven of gnoll necromancers in the graveyard towers of Halden's Tomb.



(c) 998, The Sharn Inquisitive



Tales in Blood
By an unknown contributor

(More than anything else, it was the public's hunger for the next installment of this mysterious narrative that kept us up until our everglowing lanterns ran out so we could get the Sharn Inquisitive back into publication. That, and the death threat sent by its anonymous author if we didn't release the next chapter in what he referred to as his 'manifesto.' -- Ed.)

Part Four
The teeth of Shaarat tick and grind with pleasure at the offering, and it begs the master of ravens, go on. Volcanic heat waits, like a wave set to break, miles of sulfurous eyes and seismic breaths bound in a forge of unearned civilization, yearning to burn free.

The hanging arbiter cries for mercy. But horror too, is part of life. No forbearance is granted, gold drinks blood, and so the sacrifice of shattered rings is complete. Child and elder bleed together, the Vesican cycle completed, and the dead heart of the dagger beats once, beats a cataclysm.

-Quoth the Raven
(illustration by Stephan Martinere)
 

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I was just going through and trying to modify the links so the images would show properly. Is it just me, or is the BBCode for imager not working?
 
Dang, I wonder why I stopped writing this. The campaign was supposed to have three acts:

1. Uncover a plot by House Orien to draw out one of their own, Hawkins d'Orien, who committed horrible crimes during the war on behalf of the family. They wanted to keep him from going public, and so threatened his former squad mates. This act climaxed with a meet-up at a Lightning Rail station between Hawkins and his father Gehn, and a tense scene to stop Gehn from derailing the train as he tried to flee the city.

2. Root out the monster crime syndicate Daask, which had far less intrigue and more monster slaying and dungeon crawling. The highlight was a huge dockside skirmish that involved air, land, and water forces, after which the medusa head of the gang ordered Ugly Nick's dog petrified and his head snapped off in a Godfather-esque retaliation. (The lowlight was the party making an alliance with a weretiger troll who was in charge of all the trolls in the sewers of Sharn, and to seal their pact he insisted they eat some of his body. He chopped a piece off, let it regrow, repeated the process, and served them in a bowl.) The campaign actually fell apart due to scheduling problems during the summer of 08, the session before the party was going to storm the Daask headquarters with backup from the Redcloak Battalion.

3. Discover that Victor Saint-Demain was committing nefarious crimes, and his chief minion was Arthur Knight, the journalist who kept publishing negative articles about the party. This was going to use material from Nic Logue's "Chimes at Midnight" trilogy from Dungeon magazine, but it never was to be.

So instead I wrote ZEITGEIST.

 

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