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The Thorns of Winter

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise


The Thorns of Winter​

(Based on a homebrew campaign in Eberron)
(This is updated weekly. Last post November 20th, 2020)
Story by Nthal


Introduction – Even Harsher Landings - October 14th, 2020​



Krona Peak, Ironroot Mountains.


Moravan carried up the mugs on a tray from the kitchen, with steam still pouring forth from their rims and bodies. He sweated not from the exertion, but the heat from the mugs themselves. But it was a small thing, and the mugs always were…cleaner this way. Sure, a Gold Dragon Inn of House Ghallanda (or at least the bigger ones) could clean off the crockery, flatware and tableware just by waving it over a runed block in the corner. But how did that teach anyone the value of hard work, and doing it right?

Moravan wasn’t against the new tools being produced by the Dragonmarked Houses, but how was one to instill the value of hard work, if you never did it? Not everyone could pursue a craft, and not all were cut out for duties requiring martial skill. It would be the spoiling of the young Moravan thought.

He set the tray down near the bar, and as he did so, the tolling of the bell above told him, it would be an hour till the 3rd quarter of the day started. Smiling he hoped that the dwarven expeditions below brought their hard-earned coin to the ‘Pattern Welded Blade.’ On one side, it was good fortune to have the tavern so close to passages to the Realm Below, on the other an ill-omen, a somber reminder that not all that venture below, return. It was feast or famine as a business, but lately fortunes had been high.

He smiled looking around at the vaulted ceiling. While most of Krona Peak was outside on the face of the mountain, the legacy of mines below weaved through the roots of the rock itself. Many galleries and foundries had been converted to other uses; warehouses, temples, and bars and inns like this one. The ‘Patternweld’ itself stood in the bones of an ancient foundry, long since repurposed, with a great common room below, and four stories of rooms above, circling the common festhall in tiers above. It was the last stop down, and the first up. Many business deals were held in private rooms, and plenty of beds to sleep off success or forget failures.

Nevertheless, Clan Mroranon took no chances; only Mror Dwarves could tread below the city on the way to the colonies below, and recently the Mror had been bolstering the guard. Some said that the denizens below were waiting for the right moment to attack. Others thought that Clan Mroranon was ready to push the front deeper. All Moravan knew, is that it made all the clans thirsty.

“Stack those mugs, so I can get my tray back,” said Igneve behind him. “There is more to bring up from the wash, I heard that success is coming our way.” The tapkeeper said with a grin.

“That is good to hear. Perhaps we can keep the profits and not spend it all on new mugs this time,” he replied to her, as he stacked the mugs on the shelf behind the bar.

“That’d be a welcome change,” said an older Mror, who trundled into the bar. “At least you haven’t had to buy new furnishings.”

“Gavin! Let me pour you a stout,” Igneve said with a smile, searching for a cool mug. “Well, it’s been a while since we had a chair swung in here, but I do take pride that the bones of these tables are strong enough to weather another war, and not just a brawl.”

“Hah. After the last month’s meeting of the Iron Council, you would wonder about that,” Gavin said, taking the stout from Igneve.

Moravan set down the last of the steaming vessels, “I still can’t wrap my head around that. House Mroranon, letting Soldorak run internal security for Krona Peak?”

“You didn’t hear the howls when the council heard Kundarak’s price for doing the same.” Gavin replied. “The house has enough riches. But Mroranon is in a bind; needing to play nice with other clan, keeping coin in the bank, and being a little thin with the Realm Below being expanded.”

“But Soldorak? Why put your Clan’s worst foe in charge of security of your home?” Moravan said still confused.

“Some of the merchants I spoke to think it’s a ploy,” Igneve said. “It keeps Soldorak from expanding deeper into Solangap. One of them was expecting Soldorak to make some blunder and be replaced.”

“That’s a bit farfetched,” Moravan said dubiously.

“Not if you want Kundarak to assume the contract at the lowball prices that Soldorak offered,” Gavin said then taking a large swallow from his mug. “It’s a game at its finest, and all on Soldorak not to lose. And one that Kundarak may not want to win.”

“All I know is that it puts the Mroranons on edge now as they pass Soldorak security sites.” Moravan said bitterly. “A mistake is bound to happen, and someone is going to get hu—” he said when he was cut off by a shriek.

The three dwarves looked around in panic looking for the source of the noise, when it suddenly stopped with the thunderous crash on one of the ancient tables, cracking it in half. The table collapsed onto the floor of the ‘Patternweld’ into a pile of splintered wood and shattered crockery.

"By Onatar’s Beard what in the---

“No, who is a better question,” Igneve said rushing to the crushed table, where a figure lay.

The first thing that stood out to the trio was, it wasn’t a dwarf. In fact, the body that lay on the remains of the table appeared to be a young human female, her body was splayed at an uncomfortable angle. She wore patchwork leggings, which seemed to be assembled from random colored scraps of leather. Around her waist were a number of belts, one of which held a thin blade to her side, and the other a shorter dagger, and assorted pouches. In her hand she clutched an iron rod, topped with a purple gem. Her breastplate was of a strange design, but that was barely noticeable as it was covered in blood. She was wearing a pair of necklaces, but one stood out for having a large unfamiliar symbol, of a balance held aloft by a bony arm and hand. Her hair long and despite being spattered with blood was the color of not silk yellow or blonde, but radiant metallic gold. She lay there unaware of her surroundings, as a small river of blood poured out of her mouth.

Igneve knelt by the woman and tried to revive her to no avail, turning to her partner, “Moravan, she’s bleeding badly, we need to get her to House Jorasco quickly!”




Vernan Galandrak walked calmly in the busy streets of Krona Peak; the bell had just tolled the start of the 3rd quarter, and the cool spring breeze blew between the buildings, alleys, and streets on the surface. Yet the skies were still the greys of winter, with the sun hidden behind dark skies. Vernan was a recent immigrant, being the scion of a small clan that called Sharn home. But in his youth, he became curious what the Mror’s were really like, and with his father’s support left the City of Towers and set up shop in Krona Peak.

He considered himself a decent inquisitive, but he found that his unique situation and experience in Krona were in high demand. A clansman with no formal ties to the main clans of the Mror enabled him to cultivate a certain mystique of being unbiased. Having grown up around Sharn, he was more familiar with the rest of the Khorvaire’s peoples and had better insight into their motivations. In short, as an outsider to the Mror, he was trusted to have no strong clan allegiances and he was Mror enough to be considered one of their own.

Smiling to himself it didn’t hurt that the Peak never closed; the hours the Mror kept were basically ‘any,’ so getting a drink, taking a nap, getting your gear worked on can be done any time you needed; shops rarely were closed, even the most prized artisans had apprentices present at all hours who could greet and make arrangements for a client to meet the master.

He continued his trek through the streets, until he found the building he was looking for. The large rectangular structure was probably a great storehouse, or perhaps a barracks in the distant past, when the Peak was smaller. But since the Lightning Rail’s arrival, storehouses were now closer to the rail in the valley, and the barracks moved closer to them. But the low building was an ideal place for its current clientele; one who needed few stairs and wide-open passages. The wounded.

House Jorasco leased the building from Clan Mroranon and spent coin on herbs and medicinal shipped from Frosthaven. And while the Last War did have its share of Mror wounded who needed care, it saw far more business from healing Mror fighting the in the Realm Below. But the conflict there had been quiet for almost a year, and the enclave was not usually a busy place.

Today was different, a crowd of dwarves and a scattering of non-dwarven onlookers hovered around the entrance, trying to peek inside. All the while talking among themselves:

“A strange human came up from the Realm’s Below!”

“I heard she smashed apart the ‘Patternweld’ in a bloody rage.”

“That’s ridiculous! Igneve went inside the Enclave with her.”

“Is it true, she has hair made of gold?”

“How did a human get past the security patrols?”

Finally, a relevant question. Vernan thought to himself, as he pushed his way through the crowd. Finally, he made his way to the main entrance, where a pair of Iron Blademarks from House Deneith blocked the way inside.

“You don’t look wounded. What’s your business?”

“My business is Kundarak’s,” Vernan said gruffly, presenting his identification papers, with the endorsement of the House of Banking’s seal. “I must speak with Mylle.”

The Blademark nodded and stood aside, and Vernan stepped into the House of Healing.

He never liked the large Jorasco Enclaves. Not because of the healers or their business, just the larger ones had larger population of the old and sick; the ones near the end of their days. All Jorasco could offer the folk was comfort for a fee. You can’t cure old age, but many of the aliments could be eased. That and the sharp pungent smell of herbs and unguents used gave a strange ‘artificially clean’ smell.

He continued walking towards the section used for new patients, and the most likely place where he could get his bearings on the mystery at hand. There was a desk of dwarven height, and perched on a chair sat a halfling, busy pouring through papers behind a wall of glass. He didn’t even look up as the dwarf’s shadow crossed his face.

“Take a seat and we will be with you as soon as we are able,”

“I’m not hur—” started Vernan.

“I can tell; you aren’t bleeding everywhere. Take a seat,” the halfling stated dispassionately.

Vernan frowned, “I am here to see---”

We will tell you who you will see, when you see them, and you will pay the fees up front.”

Vernan frowned and banged a large meaty hand on the desk and held up his papers to the glass to the surprised halfling’s face.

“Stuff it. I am here on Clan business. You will comply with House Kundarak’s investigation as per arrangement with Clan Mroranon. Failure to do so would be…problematic for you and a waste of time for me. Where is Mylle?”

“Observing that your manners are still gruff, but not unwarranted,” said a voice to his left. Turning Vernan gave the slight blonde-haired halfling woman a satisfied grunt. She was wearing a simple dress, with the embroidery of House Jorasco on the left breast, and she returned the smile with a curt nod.

“Mylle nice to see you again; the bed side manners of the staff need some work,” he remarked.

“That’s why he is at the desk, and not your bedside. And if it were anyone else making a stink, I would have the Blademarks pummel you into needing long-term care here.”

“That bad of business recently? I thought you kept the books current.”

“It isn’t about the books, but about…onlookers and curiosity seekers today. And you aren’t one to chase the injured that arrive here like an out of work barrister.”

“No…I am not. I will explain. Please escort me to your new patient.”

“Of course,” Mylle d’Jorasco said and led the inquisitive beyond a set of double doors separating the lobby area from the healing one. “I’ll get the basics out of the way for you. Woman, perhaps the age of a twenty-year-old human. She was covered in blood and was suffering from numerous internal injuries.”

“She alive?”

“Yes, but she is under sedation right now.” Mylle looked at Vernan confused. “Now usually when you come here, you’re looking for a corpse, not a live one. I take it this isn’t some insurance matter.”

“I was hired to investigate a security question,” Vernan said. “Being alive might make this easier. What did you mean by ‘perhaps the age of a twenty-year-old human?’ Why do you think they aren’t?”

Mylle, gestured towards a door, and ushered Vernan inside. There in the room lit with driftglobes, lay a woman, attended by another Jorasco staffer. As described by the throng outside her hair was like spun gold, and not just a simple blonde. She lay there sleeping, her chest rising and falling gently.

“Most of the injuries were internal; some broken bones that were set and healed, but the organs suffered a bit of trauma. Our original concern was she was bleeding heavily inside but…”

“But what?”

“While, she was covered by a large amount of blood, but as far as I can tell it wasn’t hers. She had no external wounds at all, which tells me—”

“—Its someone else’s.”

“Precisely. As we examined her, I found something…odd.” The healer moved to the woman’s head and slowly peeled open one of the unconscious woman’s eyes.

Vernan squinted at the woman, and then he furrowed his brow in confusion. The woman’s eye was like a mirror, reflecting back his own visage and had no pupil or sclera.

“’Odd.’ That is an understatement.”

“That’s why I am not sure she is human. I have read that the elves that live in the Feyspires have eyes similar to this; Eladrin I believe they are called. But they are supposedly solid colors. Another race known as Tieflings are said to have similar eyes, but with metallic colors. But, after I looked it up in our journals here, that isn’t right either. They tend to have colored skin, that isn’t human like, and usually dark hair, horns and tails. She,” pointing at the sleeping woman, “Has none of those traits.”

“Clear the room!” a booming voice said. “We will need to move this criminal to…Vernan! What are you doing here?” Vernan turned, to see a middle-aged dwarf with four bodyguards. The Mror’s flaming red hair matched his temperament as he glared at Vernan with contempt. “This is a matter for Krona Peak’s security forces to address, not body wagon chasing inquisitives.”

“Rior Soldorak, how nice to see you again. It’s been…too soon,” Vernan replied coldly. “Unfortunately, House Kundarak by right and by contract has a stake in this…mystery.”

“Kundarak is not a party to this—”

“By the terms of the agreement, in an instance where security is breached, Kundarak has a right to all investigation and proceedings involving the breach. In addition, I am also to turn over to you any independent findings I uncover.”

“What crap is this? This is Clan’s Soldorak’s concern, not Kundarak’s,” Rior spat. “Why would Kundarak even care?”

“They care, because if someone can breach security, they could breach the vaults or other places where Kundarak keeps things safe. That is why I am here, and I can certainly take it to Clan Mroranon if you don’t believe me; I have better ways to waste my time than argue with you about it.”

Rior glared at the Inquisitive, “Fine, but this is our investigation.”

Vernan nodded, “Of course. You have the lead here.”

Rior smiled smugly, “Wonderful; Is she in danger of injury if we move her?”

Mylle stood up stiffly and replied, “No. I do not recommend it, but she can be moved. She is still sedated of cou—”

“Keep her that way for now. Where are her things?” Rior demanded.

“We have secured her belongings in the next room. If you follow me,” Mylle led Rior and Vernan to a room across the hallway. The four bodyguards took position by the sleeping woman, with two inside and two standing outside the room. Mylle produced a set of keys and unlocked the heavy metal lock and pushed open the iron bound door. Escorting the dwarves inside, they came to a table, where various items lay; a rod, a sword and dagger, a shield, pouches, belts, jewelry, pack and some items covered in blood; namely a breastplate, breeches and a cloak.

“Did you already rifle through her things?” Rior demanded.

Mylle glared at the dwarf. “Jorasco policy is to inventory all items carried by patients suspected of crimes, or inability to pay. A copy,” and Mylle reached over to a nearby workbook and pulled out a loose sheet and handed it to Rior, “Is provided to security, especially if you are planning on incarcerating her.”

Vernan ignored the exchange and started to examine the gear. Looking at one of the pouches, he found a strange assortment of objects. Items like a copper wire, chipped stone, a mirror, and vials of liquid. In another leather case, he found a metal cylinder with no obvious use. He then moved on and examined another pouch, which jingled with the sound of coin. He opened it and started to look at the tender. But as he looked, he became more and more confused.

“What in the?” Vernan wondered aloud.

Rior turned to look at what Vernan was handling, when Mylle spoke again. “You noticed that too. I have never seen coinage like that in the Five Nations. I wondered if it is older somehow.”

“Not likely, I’ve seen coins used by the Inspired of Sarlona, Dhakanni coins, and others. These don’t resemble them.”

“A foreign power? A spy?” Rior said in a huff. “I wouldn’t doubt a sea prince; they mint their own coinage too. Whose blood is this?”

“We don’t know…but it isn’t hers,” Mylle said.

“So, there’s a body around too is my guess,” Rior said grimly. “She’s a spy and a murderer most likely. Keep her under sedation and prepare her to be moved.”

“Ahem, there is a matter of— “Mylle started.

“Soldorak will guarantee the bill; If she cannot pay, it will be added to her crimes,” Rior said.

Vernan raised an eyebrow at that and said nothing. Continuing to examine the other objects, the next thing he looked at was the blood covered breastplate. It had a fine golden sheen and had a motif and style he wasn’t familiar with. He opened up a notebook and pulled out a stick of charcoal and started to sketch the design down. He also sketched out the necklace designs that lay there, none of which were familiar to the dwarf.

In the meantime, one of Rior’s guards stepped in the room, and the Mror barked orders.

“Take her to the interrogation block, and hold her there,” Rior said. “We’ll work her over tomorrow.”

Vernan continued to sketch barely paying attention. “She’s proficient with magic…might want to prepare for that,” he muttered.

“What’s that?” Rior said glaring at the inquisitive.

“She has components for spells in one of the pouches,”

“I don’t need you to tell me how to secure a prisoner of unknown capability,” Rior growled. “We assume they are, until proven otherwise.” He turned to look at the guard and Vernan saw out of the corner of his eye, that Rior jerked his head towards the inquisitive and nodded, which put a small grin on Vernan’s face. “You can come by an hour after first quarter bell and we’ll see what kind of spy she is, who’s paying her, and how she got there. In the meantime, I don’t want to see you by the garrison at all; you are not to talk to her, without me being present.”

“As you like Rior,” Vernan said mildly, and watched as the guard gathered up the pile of gear and things into a box and followed Rior out of the room.

“I do not like handing over a patient to the jailor without—” Mylle started.

“—Getting paid?” Vernan finished the sentence.

Mylle d’Jorasco elbowed the dwarf. “It is not about the money. The House cares: but I do wish for patients to be taken care of. That was a long fall, and she’ll awake to a lot of pain.”

Vernan frowned, “Fall?”

“You didn’t hear? She landed and smashed into a table at ‘Patternweld’ probably from the upper rooms.

Vernan thought a moment, “It’s been a while since I stopped in for a drink. Time to pay Igneve a social call.”


Notes:
Well...you didn't think I would drop Myrai down a well and leave her there did you?

That almost happened, but a rare event occurred where I moved her to a different campaign altogether, because the other one ended abruptly. I have been itching to get to this part of the story, for a while so I hope you enjoy it. Feedback (private / public ) is greatly appreciated!
 
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Well, this is very interesting. I don't think I've ever seen a "campaign transplant" like this happen before. And while I'm glad I'll get to continue reading about Myrai's exploits, it's a shame we won't be seeing any more of the others from the Journal of the Souls of Legend campaign.

Oh well, I'll just pull up a front row seat and enjoy this new show; I'm sure I'll come to enjoy the new main characters as much as I did the previous bunch....

Johnathan
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Well, this is very interesting. I don't think I've ever seen a "campaign transplant" like this happen before. And while I'm glad I'll get to continue reading about Myrai's exploits, it's a shame we won't be seeing any more of the others from the Journal of the Souls of Legend campaign.

Oh well, I'll just pull up a front row seat and enjoy this new show; I'm sure I'll come to enjoy the new main characters as much as I did the previous bunch....

Johnathan

For me, they were a constant thing as we rotated DM hats. And For Myrai 'Big Plot line' it makes sense. And now with planewalking between Faerun and Eberron a canon thing...why not?

Personally, I wanted to continue the original plot line; but can't help what happened. I mean I could make it up like any other form of fiction. But honestly, the amount of clean up of inconsistencies (which are normal for a campaign really) left me at a point that I had a very little idea what happened next, other than Paradros was involved.

But as for 'Thorns' it was a homebrew originally targeted for Faerun as well. But the players wanted to do an Eberron, and it actually WORKS better there IMHO.

But we need to get some preludes out of the way first; as I like telling a story, and this is a bit more than backdrop. And unlike the other campaign, I will be including the writing of other persons involved, who is incredible in developing character concepts with good writability. In fact, THIS campaign will have writings from my son, daughter, and this other person. It's been something I have been eager to get to for a while now.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise


Falling awake - 10/19/2020​


Igneve glared at the smashed table in the center of the room. Not because of the mess it left, but because of the small fence of chain and two guards that stood around it, like some attraction at a Ghallanda festival. But the Soldorak’s also demanded room around the fence the setup. That was nearly a dozen tables and seats that had to be shoved up against the walls, and almost a third of the floor space, all while someone from Solangap could arrive and review the wreckage.

“It’s a broken table,” she said as she slammed metal plates into a tub. “Smashed by a woman from a fall. That I would think is obvious. But why do they need to hold my bar hostage?”

“It's not the whole bar,” Moravan pointed out.

“It's going to be a loss, even if we are full. And to top it off all the patrons, are too busy looking up to drink!” Igneve snapped back, pilling more plates into the tub, “Can’t make enough in food, and not enough want to stay an evening. Everyone is going topside!”

“It could be worse!” Moravan exclaimed, as he filled a pitcher with a strong earthy Mror stout.

“Well, Igneve it’s been a while hasn’t it,” Vernan said as he stepped up to the bar with a smile on his face.

“You’re right,” Igneve sighed and looked upwards. “Now it’s worse.” She turned and glared at the inquisitive. “And you have some gall showing up in here now.”

“I pay my bills!” Vernan said sounding wounded.

“Only for the drinks. I seem to remember you owing me for two chairs, a chest and a bed!”

“The fire was not my fault!”

“I don’t seem to remember the fire having coin either!”

“I’m sorry about that,” Vernan said trying to mollify the woman. “And I am sorry to say I am here on business. Tell you what, an ale and double the price because I need some answers on your recent…table crasher?”

“The table is,” and she with a flourish pointed out the wreckage on the floor, “Right there. Don’t think you need me for that.”

“I passed it on the way in. Something about the Soldorak pair standing over it like flies on horse crap. No, that isn’t what I need you for.”

Igneve looked at the inquisitive puzzled.

“I need you to show me, what’s right above it.”

Igneve led Vernan up the spiral rampway that led up the inside of the circular room, every ten steps there was a door set into the rock, with an everbright lantern giving off a soft warm light from a sconce in the wall. Opposite each door was an opening overlooking the festhall below.

“So, this was a foundry of some type?” Vernan remarked as they walked up the sloping ramp together.

Igneve nodded, “Down at the bottom, the kitchen area was once the bellows for the smelter, but there were workshops all along this rampway. Used to be a pair of rails for carts with ore, metals and whatever before we ripped them out. The coalbin is now where we distill and brew.”

“Sharn isn’t much different. Mror though has less concerns about history,” Vernan remarked. “But in Sharn, half the time in the lower towers you had no idea what the original builder intended, and so much of it built up over stuff long forgotten. Almost no memory of what the stone once did.”

“Well, this was all my work; this place was cobwebs and dust before,” Igneve said with pride. “Now the workshops are rooms, and the rails were reused below. Rented out the bottom for construction space as they built up the garrison below, and it paid for the reworking of the place. A lot of that crew still come here for drinks. Ok, we’re here; the top.”

In front of Vernan was a large arched opening with a small railing at knee height that prevented folks from getting too close to the edge. Vernan put his hands on the side wall and peered over the ledge, and sure enough, about four floors down he could see the remains of the table, the improvised fence and the guards.

Nodding to himself, he started to look around at the ground and at the railing, looking for signs of someone passing by. Running a finger across the stone, he looked at it, and saw the fine layer of dust that lay upon it. Frowning he kept looking over the archway and the wall.

“They were up here too. Had me search the rooms; though they wouldn’t say why.”

“Woman was covered in blood, right? Left a mess of it on the table I saw.”

Igneve nodded, “Yep, got her to House Jorasco in short order too.”

Vernan nodded, “Well, the blood wasn’t hers, so it came from somewhere.”

“Well that would explain the search…wait, you knew they wouldn’t find any, didn’t you?”

Vernan nodded, “When she landed, you didn’t get hit with any did you?”

Igneve frowned a moment, “A couple of drops…not much compared to what was on her.”

“Right. That means it was mostly dry when she hit the table, but not completely. But here on the railing, the edge of the sill, and the floor on the hall, there’s no sign of any, and the Soldorak’s didn’t find any either.

“How did you know that?”

“Because if they had, there would be another chain fence and a guard here.”

“So, she breaks my table in mostly dried blood?” Igneve said, her brow furrowed thinking this over.

"All of her injuries were internal, so that blood is someone else’s. Rior thinks he has a murderer and spy. But I don’t think he’s going to find a body anywhere near here.”

“Why is that?”

“Something magical is involved. A woman falls from here, yet no one notices her enter the bar at all? She isn’t dressed for stealth either, with a shiny breastplate and a shield? If she is in disguise, it’s a terrible choice of one. And if she did kill someone, where is the body? I checked before coming here; no one is reported missing. The whole thing doesn’t make sense yet. The only thing I am certain of, is that Mylle is right.”

“About what?”

“With a fall like that, she’s is going to be in a lot pain when she wakes up.”





Flashes and images passed in front of my eyes; a dwarf laughing at me, a gnome screaming at me, a pair of men diving away from me. The bloody sacrifice I left behind on the floor. I felt stone crack and give way and I tumbled, falling towards the sound of water. Water whose surface I never breeched. I prayed during the fall, and was ready to give my life as I promised

And was rejected.

I felt the cool air rushing past me, and I tasted the moisture with my lips, when suddenly everything changed. Bright light flooded my eyes, and warm, dry air caressed my skin as I fell. Then I felt snapping, and cracking and heard the sounds of splintering wood. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe, and I glimpsed the face of a dwarf before my head hit a solid surface, causing a flash of white to pass in front of my eyes.

Now I am awake again…my head buzzed and pounded in pain. I was laying on my side and every breath hurt. I slowly opened my eyes, to walls of gray stone with flecks of red and blue shot throughout the rock, while I was laying on platform of the same stone. Ahead of me is an iron door, with a closed slot in the bottom, and a small window with bars at the top. Looking off the platform I saw a hole in the stone.

A prison? Maybe I didn’t escape the Duergar after all. But, Eridan was fettered, and the cell we found him in stank of sweat, rot and human offal. It didn’t smell that clean here, but it was nothing like his prison.

I pushed myself up with my right arm slowly, trying not to aggravate my headache, and I realized that my sides hurt equally. I blinked as I looked around, trying to get my bearings. I sat up and swung my legs over the edge of the stone, and my bare feet touched the cold floor. I looked down and saw that I was dressed in a rough spun tunic, that covers me down to mid-thigh, and was wide in the shoulders, hanging on me awkwardly. I looked down inside my tunic and saw that I had bandages wrapped all around me, constricting my breathing. Reaching up I touched my temple, and realized I had a wrapping around my head as well.

And that was it, nothing and no one else was in the room. My things were gone; my holy symbol, my rod, everything. I sat there and decided that the first thing I should do is perhaps heal myself. It would be harder without my symbol, but I could manage.

“Kelemvor, heal your wounded servant,” and I started to pull on a white strand. As I did, the buzzing in the background grew in strength, and in sudden pain. My hands flew to my temples and I fell forward onto my knees, gasping for air.

I gritted my teeth and tried again, slowly. As I touched the strand, I could feel the buzzing in my head increase sharply. I wondered if I could steel through it, and I tried continuing pulling on it. The buzzing and the pain kept increasing as I pulled. Finally, I released my hold on the strand and the buzzing returned to the back of my mind. I then decided on something even simpler; the incantation I used to clean myself. I reached within and started to braid a light and dark strand together. I started pulling it out, drawing the power even slower than before. But the pain ramped just as quickly, and it was still more than could endure. I let go again and panted for air as if I had to physically tried to manipulate the strands. I leaned forward and pounded the ground with my fist in anger.

I couldn’t even get a quarter of the strand in a state where I could use it; not enough for even the simplest of the magic I could work. The pain was beyond my ability to withstand. I wasn’t even sure that if I did manage to cast it, if I would even survive. I felt like it might actually kill me.

I leaned back against the stone platform, pulling up my knees to my chin, and I confronted the reality. I was alone in a cell somewhere. I didn’t know where in the multiverse I was. I hoped, prayed that my friends were safe.…but I wasn’t sure they could help me now.

Could anyone?

Would anyone?

No. It didn’t matter. I can’t assume there will be any help. I thought a moment and tried to remember anything I knew of the Prison in Sigil. I had as a young girl done a couple of rounds, cleaning the ducts and other places that only a scrawny kid could get to. But that wasn’t the same thing as a stay. Thinking back, I remembered that there were a couple of folks in the Sensates who managed to serve a short sentence there and they talked about it as a class, about what the experience was like.

I remembered they said something around the lines of ‘keep busy, keep thinking, keep going,’ because it wasn’t the Mercykillers that was the real enemy. It was boredom. So, what could I do?

I could move; I wasn’t fettered, and while I hurt, keeping moving and ready to do…something might be best. Nodding to myself, and I stood up and made a discovery.

I was taller than the cell, as I bumped my head against the roof. Puzzled for a moment, I realized that it made sense; if I were a dwarf, I would have a head’s clearance. But the cells the Duergar had were taller, probably to support the slaves they had. So that meant I was somewhere very different, but likely run by dwarves.

Stooping slightly, I walked around the cell. I didn’t realize it when I came to, but it was now clear that it must be pitch black. There wasn’t any light source, and if there was one from the outside, the bars didn’t cast any shadows inside the room. I considered that I might want to conceal that fact; most people assumed I was a strange human and didn’t realize I could see in the dark. And even if they did know that they didn’t know I could actually read in it, unlike others who could see in the dark.

I started with the hole in the stone, its purpose was quickly evident, as the distant odor of a sewer lingered there. It was a basin with an open drain to elsewhere, curving out of sight. I supposed that it was better than the pots they had in Sigil’s prison though.

The next thing to look at was the door. I noticed that the buzzing in my head increased as I approached it. It didn’t hurt more, but its presence was stronger. I looked at the slot at the bottom. It was barely a hand width in height. And was closed with a metal shield, leaving only the gap at the bottom the width of my smallest finger. It had to be for food, which just the thought of it made my stomach growl. I then bent down and looked through the bars. I could see a corridor, and another door directly across from mine. On it, I saw there was a lever that would raise the door to the slot below, and there was a keyhole that led to the mechanism that held it fast. There was also a hook protruding from the wall, on the side with the lock, whose purpose eluded me. I see a little of the hallway in both directions and could spot more doors, and the hint of light from the left side. But I quickly something else that drew my curiosity.

In a cage in the ceiling, positioned between my door and the door across from me I saw a crystal shard, the size of both my fists put together. It didn’t give off light or anything like that. But it was different from any crystal I had seen before with a smoky appearance with rivulets of black running through it. If that wasn’t interesting enough, the cage itself wasn’t just a bracket, but it was a full cage with a padlock, keeping the shard securely inside.

It meant it was important, not just a decoration. I stared at it for a moment, and started to pull on a light strand again, in hopes of healing myself. As I did so, and the pain appeared I saw the veins in the crystal pulse. As I pulled harder, the veins pulsed faster, matching the rhythm of pain I felt. Certain that was the source of pain, I let the strand go and stared at it wondering.

I moved to the far corners of the cell and tried again. And while the buzzing was less in the corners, the pain still was present when I tried to manipulate the strands. I sat down on the stone platform both annoyed and curious. I had never seen a crystal like that, and certainly had never heard of one that suppressed magic. It was interesting though; I would have loved to learn more about it.

I started to stretch my limbs, gritting through the discomfort I felt in my sides. I remembered in the Prison, I saw that some prisoners doing exercises and stretching. It was probably the only thing I could do, until I met my captors, and perhaps get fed. I tried to be inventive on what I could do, sitting up, pushing myself up with my arms, all the while watching the door.

I didn’t know how long it was, when suddenly my vision started to fade into grey. Looking at the barred window and listening I realized that several people wearing heavy armor were approaching, and they were carrying a light. I moved and sat on the platform and waited to see.

Suddenly, someone held a bright lantern up to the bars, and I had to raise up my arm to prevent myself from being blinded. After a moment, I heard a key turn in the lock, and the sound of the bolt being retracted, and then the door was pulled open. Three figures stepped in.

Dwarves. They were armored in chain mail, two them wore axes on their belts, and had crossbows pointed at me at the ready. The third one hung the lantern on a hook outside my door, the light flooding my cell. In his hands he held a set of manacles. Before they said anything, I realized that these weren’t Duergar. They lacked the gray skin and white hair they had. In fact, these looked like ‘normal’ dwarves. Their expression was all business, not showing disdain or hatred towards me, but the crossbow men were wary.

“Haaken sin herde ans!” the one with the manacles grumbled at me.

I shook my head, and said “Dvarkaan non,” which I remembered as ‘dwarven no.’ Or at least I hoped, I was pretty sure I didn’t insult them.

The dwarf nodded and pointed at me and thrust out an arm with the wrists upwards while saying something in a different language, “Widhab hands.” I swallowed, and held out my wrists helpfully, while saying “Non,”

The dwarf wasted no time clapping the manacles on one of my wrists, while giving me a peculiar look. He jerked the manacle upwards saying “Beweri upwird.”

I stood, and he roughly turned me around, and pulled the manacle behind my back. I quickly figured out that he was going to secure both my hands that way and didn’t resist when he grabbed my other wrist and secured it. Then he turned me around and held a firm grip on the chain the connected the manacles together, and turned me around forcibly, and pushed me into the corridor.





Rior was unamused, as he turned over in his hand a couple of objects frowning. He sat in an elevated chair at the back of the wall of the square room. In front of him was a small T-post with an open lock, and beyond that the door leaving the chamber. As he examined the pair in his hand, the door opened, and a gnome with a large tome entered. The gnome was older, with a white beard and curled moustache and a balding pate. On the right side of his face, an abstract tattoo of purples and magentas pulsated. He gave Rior a perfunctory nod and headed to a desk in one corner, taking a seat. As he set down the tome, he carried he spoke:

“Rior. Another one in a week. I hope this one won’t be boring.”

Rior glanced at the scribe, “I should hope not Paron. A spy and murderer should have a lot to say.”

The gnome arched an eyebrow, “As opposed to that heist on the Lightning rail? I should hope so. Any luck finding the others?”

Rior frowned, “No. That damned Boromar has told me all he knows, which wasn’t much. His kin had already fled town, with the goods, leaving our guest to rot.”

“Pity,” Paron said opening his book, and pulled out some quills and an ink pot from a small pouch fastened to his thigh. “Strange they left him behind,”

“It doesn’t matter, but I am going to send him to the Dreadhold for it,” grimaced Rior.

The gnome looked up, “That…sounds a bit overkill. Are you—”

“It is not your concern. Let’s focus on the sp—” and then the door opened again, this time with three dwarves, and a woman in tow.
Rior watched as they moved the woman and forced her to kneel in front of the t-post and locking her manacled behind it. She moved as if still in pain, which wasn’t surprising. Her golden hair was disheveled, and still spattered with blood. When the guards moved away and stood at ease by the exit, he finally could see what Mylle meant about her eyes.

Her eyes were like mirrors he was told, and the striking feature was not lost on him. And while he was not close enough to see his own reflection, it did give Rior a feeling of unease. She stared at him, not in fear, but in wariness. She probably was striking to Humans, an Khorvare, but her looks were not of interest to Rior. But Rior would get what he wanted from her soon enough.

“What is your name, girl?” He asked in common, assuming that she wasn’t bright enough for dwarvish. Her reaction was of puzzlement.

“Non,” she said simply, using the Dwarvish word for no.

“Playing dumb is only going to make this longer. What is your name?” Rior said letting his anger simmer to the surface.

She frowned and replied, “Yfa lufen not undergataan you.”

Rior leaned back frowning, “What crap is this? Paron?” he hissed at the gnome.

“I understood only half of that myself,” the gnome replied resting his chin in his left hand. “But if I didn’t know better, she doesn’t speak the common trade language.”

“Can’t you do something about that?”

“My mark will allow me to understand her, but she still would be unable to understand us.”

The woman pivoted her head back and forth, and spoke again, “Not…understand?”

“She’s playing us,” Rior said in a huff.

“Maybe not, If you allow me a moment,” and Paron stood up and walked in front of the woman. On her knees, she was at eyelevel with the gnome, and while Rior was aware of her visual distinctiveness, Paron was looking deeply into her eyes.

“Remarkable…I have never—”

“—Paron!” Rior shouted.

“Sorry, hmm…Non Dvaarkan, ye?” to which she shook her head. “Alright…Ydit k’in syea Gomit?”

She shook her head, and spoke again, “Gomit, nid wyf en.”

“She’s been around gnomes at least. That was proper conjugation. But not a speaker.”

The woman took the initiative, “Tel’quessir parra pisan?”

“Well that I recognize, but I don’t speak elvish,” Paron commented on.

“At least we can find a speaker for that,” Rior said rolling his eyes, “But how does she not know common?”

“Well, I can try a couple of others I do know. ‘Irragh Dar?’ ‘Atg’chan Ork?’”

The woman shook her head, and pursed her lips together, before speaking again., “A’ilo wau e cele?”

“That’s…familiar…but I don’t know it…where have I hear—”

“Nemtk bezsaalk Baatezu?” she said, but this time it sounded like it was being scraped out of her throat.

“My word. That’s not one I would have expected,” he shook his head.

“What?” Rior demanded.

“One of the languages of the fiends, It’s an odd one to—”

The gnome was interrupted by the door opening, and Vernan stepping inside.

“How tedious,” the inquisitive said, “How much paperwork is really necessary to attend an interrogation?”

“As much as needed,” Rior said with a glare.

The inquisitive frowned as he looked gnome in front of the woman, and Rior’s frustrated face, “I feel like I’m missing something here.”
“Communication barrier; she doesn’t speak common.” Paron started. “We were trying to find something in comm—oh sorry, that is a terrible pun…anyway that we can speak. The only one we think might work is Elvish. “

“Really? Your lucky day, I can speak that,”

“Of course you would.” Rior groaned.

Notes:
So...how common is common? Right now it is about how much english is to old english...generously speaking.

And if you haven't noticed; most of the languages are actually touched up Google Translate of real languages. Except old english; apparently you need to go elsewhere for that :)
 
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Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise

Questions of Fact - 10/26/2020​


My knees ached and my arms were tired from being bent in the odd position. But the worst part was the circular nature of the questions over and over and over, in Elvish. And while I was good with the language, it wasn’t my native tongue, so I struggled a bit trying to communicate effectively. And I suspected the dwarf might have been in the same position. Not that it mattered much; nothing I said helped. The only thing they took as a ‘correct’ answer was my name. Practically everything else was ‘wrong’ by comparison.

“Who do you work for?”

“What nation are you from?”

“What is your mission?”

“Who did you murder here?”

Over and over I answered to their dissatisfaction. They wouldn’t let me ask any either, as every time I tried, I was slapped on the back of my head by a dwarf behind me.

The one that questioned me wasn’t so much of a problem, and nor was the gnome who was intent on writing everything down. It was clear that the one on the tall chair was in charge and he wasn’t happy with my answers. His tone carried as he demanded his peer to ask me the same questions over and over. The dwarf asking the questions, seemed more even tempered and seemed to listen, but that didn’t stop the repeated questioning. As for the gnome, he seemed to make observations, and didn’t ask anything. Something else I picked up on was there was strong tension between the two dwarves. But it seemed that it was the seated dwarf that was much more visible about it, the dwarf interrogating me was more fuming about the other dwarf, but otherwise didn’t argue. Finally, the stalemate changed.

“Someone sent you on a mission here! Who is it? Why hide it?” The even tempered one asked.

“I am not hiding anything; I wasn’t sent here on a mission. Just let me ask—OUCH” I said as I was slapped on the back of my head once again.

The dwarf on the chair, slammed down his hand, and stood up suddenly, his hatred for me clearly written on his face. He walked by to leave the room, when he was asked a question by the other dwarf. He barked something back and then left the room, slamming the door behind him. I hung my aching head in exhaustion; I had no idea how long I had been there, and I hadn’t had anything to eat.

“So…Myrai. What are you? You aren’t a human, correct?” the remaining dwarf asked, a question that had not been brought up before.

I lifted my head to look at the dwarf. His tone was more of curiosity and less a demand.

“The term is ha’celas. A descendant of a celas,” I said trying to be helpful, but lost on how I could do so.
The dwarf frowned and looked at the gnome, who fiddled with a yellow crystal from his pouch. The gnome looked up and frowned and shook his head. Sighing, the dwarf turned back to me.

“Alright, where were you born?”

“Sigil,” I said and the blank look on his face told me everything. “You might know it as a different name; the ‘City of Doors’. Sometimes it’s referred to as ‘The Birdcage’ or the just ’The Cage’. Looking at him, I could tell that my answers didn’t mean anything, but he persisted.

“Alright, why is it called…the City of Doors?” he asked looking at me.

“Because there, it is said you can find a portal to anywhere. To Mount Celestia, to Baator, a Prime like this one. Once you find a door, you just need the right key to open it.”

“And…where is this city?”

“The Outlands…floating on top of the Spire,” I said not thinking much about it.

“A Spire…a feyspire?” he asked.

I looked up in confusion, “I…don’t know what that is. I’ve never heard it called that. It's a giant needle in the landscape, miles high.”

“Ok…what about those other places…like Baator. What’s Baator?”

I thought to myself he was truly clueless as I lowered my head shaking it, “Most primes call it the Nine Hells,”

“And what are they?”

What?

My head snapped up in confusion, “You don’t know what the…can I ask some questions without being hit?” even as I started asking, he raised his hand to stop the head slap I was going to receive. The dwarf nodded looking at me intently.

“The Nine hells...or Baator, are where souls go to be punished for evil they committed. Where do your souls go?”

The dwarf looked confused, “All souls, all the dead go to Dolurr. I have never heard of any other place.”

“Do you know anything about the planes at all?”

The dwarf was about to answer, when the Gnome spoke up. The dwarf nodded and turned to me. “I am not familiar with the Orrey, but he is, “and he nodded his head at the gnome. “He can understand what you are saying.”

I nodded, “Have you heard of any of these things? Caceri? Ysgard? Automata? Limbo?” and in response I saw from both of them was the same; neither had.

“What about…” I gulped afraid to mention names, but I gave in, “Asmodeus? Demogorgon? Lloth?
Kelemvor? Corellon Latherion? Moradin? Any of those names?” And to my surprise, none of the names had any meaning. I could understand the demons and devils, maybe not the elven gods. But a dwarf not knowing Moradin?

How far am I?

“What planes do you know of?”

After a moment conferring with the gnome, he started reciting some names; “Irian, Mabar, Syrania, Risia, Fernia, Shavarath, to name a few and of course the Astral which binds us around the world.”

I gulped, “What’s the name of the world?”

The dwarf and the gnome looked at each other and looked back at me confused.

“I take it, this place…is not Faerûn or Toril.”

“No…the name of the world is Eberron.”

I would not have called myself an expert on all the primes, but this was one I didn’t know.

“I guess I fell a lot farther than I imagined,” I said, again receiving expressions of confusion. “I was on an island in Faerûn. There I was working with my friends to escape and they created a portal to the mainland. But I was pushed into a well, and fell into a portal…here.”

“A different world?”

I nodded, “In Sigil we know of many worlds, Ortho, Athas, Krynn, Oerth, Abier, Toril…and there are many more I don’t know the names to. All with people and cities that have barely heard of one another. But some places are hard to reach, or seldom travelled. Krynn is one such place…I wonder if Eberron is one too.”

The dwarf knelt next to me and looked me in the eyes, “Let’s pretend I needed to prove that…how could I do so?”

I thought a moment, “Well, you need to find a planeswalker who could confirm what I am telling you. But how would you find…” I said, and the door behind me opened with the sound of several people entering behind me.

The dwarf looked down sadly at me, “Look, I will see what I can do. But understand…for what’s about to happen…I’m sorry.”

I was confused, but not for long. I felt a large hand pull on my hair, forcing my head back. Staring upwards I started to panic as a dwarf started to force the end of a funnel into my mouth. I instinctively clamped my jaw shut and tried to twist and turn to get away. In response another dwarf, pinched my nose shut, and I felt the butt of a weapon slam into my exposed abdomen, forcing me to open my mouth and gasp for air. Once open, it was over. Someone shoved the funnel in, and I was forced to swallow a sharp bitter liquid. I swallowed several mouthfuls all in a desperate effort to clear my throat and breathe. Finally, they removed the funnel and their grip on me.

I slumped forward, coughing, feeling ill and woozy. I slowly looked up at the dwarf in charge, who was already reseated on his chair. When he finally spoke, I had a good guess on what he said:

“Leafa us start aganwe,”

Vernan watched as they carried out the unconscious woman…no Myrai…back to her cell. Vernan knew he was a good inquisitive for a simple reason; his gut was rarely wrong. And right now, his gut told him two things, that Rior was missing the entire picture on this woman, and the whole treatment of her seemed over the top. Something was amiss, but it wasn’t clear yet what.

“This has been a useless day,” Rior grumbled. “She is either the most proficient liar, or she is an idiot. A couple more rounds and she’ll break.”

Vernan looked at Rior and calmly stated, “I don’t think she’s lying.”

“Why?” Rior looked at Vernan with contempt. “Because she told you a fanciful story of a city floating on a needle? That she fell out of a portal? She probably doesn’t even have the skills of an apprentice mage wright.”

“Then why make something that ludicrous up?” Vernan retorted. “It clearly isn’t distracting you, and she
clearly isn’t changing her answers.”

Rior stood up and walked to the door, “This is why I am the head of security and you are just an inquisitive. We’ll let her stew tonight and start again at second bell. Then we’ll break her.” He barely regarded Vernan, and barely nodded at Paron as he opened the door to exit the room, when Vernan asked; “And if her answers don’t change?”

“I can afford to send her to Dreadhold with that Boromar. Out of sight, out of mind,” and Rior walked out the door and slammed it behind him.

The pair looked at each other and both sighed when Paron spoke up first, “I agree with your assessment. And I am very curious on what I heard. The implications are fascinating. But I fear it will not make much of a difference in Rior’s mind. It’s just an interesting story right now.”

“Throwing around threats of the Dreadhold is a bit much. What’s this about a Boromar?”

“Oh, about a week ago, there was a heist on the Lightning rail—”

“—What running on the conductor line?”

“Hmm…no, in station. And because of that, it is Soldorak’s problem.”

“I hadn’t heard of this.”

“That’s not surprising, he’s tried very hard to keep it quiet. So, sending a prisoner there, keeps it that way.”

“Very pricey way to solve it.”

Paron shrugged, “Well, I have to file copies of the interrogation…might have a friend look at some of the notes. What about you?”

“I’m going to meet a friend for tea,” Vernan said.

“Tea? That doesn’t sound like your style.”

“It isn’t, but I go where the drinker is. Nice to see you again Paron,” and Vernan left the room leaving the puzzled Sivis scribe behind.

Paron frowned, and picked up his book, and exited the room, turning over the events in his head as he wandered through the corridors. Finally, he exited the front gate of the garrison, and into the afternoon air of Krona Peak. He quickly hurried along the thoroughfare, passing the storekeepers and carts being pushed and pulled to far off destinations in the city. As he walked, he kept thinking:

New planes? New cities? Entire worlds? This cannot be new information.

But while Paron loved a good mystery, the resources for personal research were somewhat limited in the Peak. But he did know someone that might be able to do some legwork for him. Smiling to himself, he made his way on the busy street, until he came to a large square building, with a silver globe perched on top. He quickly ducked into an alley and circled to the back of the building, until he came to a blank section.

He then took out a yellow crystal and holding it tightly, he touched the stone with it. The crystal flared to life with a green glow, and Paron d’Sivis walked into the hidden back entrance of the House of Scribing messaging station. The room that he entered was known as the ‘Low Room’ and was a haphazard collection of files and bins. A storage area for unimportant messages, that would be disposed of when convenient. The area was dimly lit; just enough to read by without tiring the eyes.

Walking out of the Low Room, Paron entered the heart of House Sivis’ business, the ‘Message Room’, which held four Speaking Stones. Also, dimly it, it was isolate away from the counters where the exchange of coin and script occurred. It all allowed the marked heirs quiet as they performed their duties for the House of Scribing. During the height of the Last War, all four would be occupied by a Sivis heir to communicate across Khorvaire. But today only a single heir was present, dutifully transmitting a stack of messages.

Paron sat down at a stone, and pulled out a yellow shard from a pouch, and slotted it into to a receptacle in the station. It began hum as it drew power from the shard.

“You ARE going to help with the queue, Paron?” the hard working Sivis heir asked as he pulled another message from the stack next to him.

“Of course, Benfiq. I just need to send a quick message to Korranberg.” Paron said as he stone began to pulse.




Siting at a table, a raven haired, blue eyed half elf poured a cup of tea from a boiling pot. The table was one of a number sitting on a veranda overlooking the streets of Krona Peak. The sun was setting and the warm orange glow in the east, made her smile as she thought of home, far from the bustle of industry. But here in the “Krona Sky and Stone,” a small teahouse, at the top of an old guard tower overlooking the city, the bustle was far away. Below in the valley she saw the hoop of lightning flare to light, as the engine of the Lightning Rail roared to life, and the evening train started to depart. Perhaps she was being silly, but seeing the ring of lightning like that, gave her pleasant chills every time she saw it. And she made a point of seeing it every morning before she started work, and every evening when she started her own projects. She sipped her tea, as she looked over notes in a binder.

“Six found, and only…Vernan?” She greeted the dwarf coming up the steps of the teahouse. “My this is a surprise…I thought only true expats came here.” She said smiling, closing her notes, and smoothing out her velvet blue dress.

“There are some teas that rival the best stouts for complexity in taste, Melisandre. But they don’t have the same…charm,” the dwarf smiled, and pulled up a seat next to the half-elf. “You’ve been busy trying to keep Taryn’s dream alive eh?”

“You know better than that; it is his uncle’s dream. Otherwise Kundarak couldn’t pursue it. But I am proud to have found almost all the specialists I need for a small war,” and she took a sip of tea.

“Somehow, I don’t think you are the type to march and beat off a horde of Jhorash'tar, and I don’t recall you needing a job…yet. So, what brings you to my aerie?” as she gestured at the open teahouse, as the sun slipped beneath the horizon, scattering red and orange light across the clouds. “Something odd, and I needed an expert…consultation.” Vernan said.

Melisandre arched an eyebrow, “Depending on the consultation, that might cost a bit.”

Vernan smiled, “This isn’t about House Medani business…really.” He said trying to assuage Melisandre’s suspicions, as he leaned over to the steaming pot, and poured out some tea into a mug. “And I’ll even pay for the pot as I warm, me bones.”

“At the very least,” the half-elf said coolly. “So…out with it.”

“I ran into a word I hadn’t heard before in Elvish…and you are the most…devious person with letters, so I thought I would ask you.”

Melisandre looked at the dwarf intrigued, “Elvish is an old language…the Aereni know it from birth, we Khoravar have to learn it. But it doesn’t change much. So…what’s the word.”

Vernan took a sip of the tea, savoring the warmth and spice, and sighed. “That is a nice one…anyway the word is ‘Ha-Celas.’ What does it mean exactly?”

Melisandre cocked her head in surprise. “That’s an old word. It’s still in use, but little need for it. Where did you hear that….oh. The recent bar crasher said it, didn’t she?” She said catching Vernan’s smirk. “Well the meaning is literally translated as ‘Blooded of the Celestial host,’ but the term refers to a very rare people; Aasimar.”

“A what?”

“Very rare beings; ones that have all that is holy suffused into a mortal soul. Another word for them is Angelkin…but again, rarely used.”

“How rare?”

“I have only heard of one by name,” Melisandre said thinking a moment. “One named Lorrister, a Prince of Lhazaar. Commands the ‘Heavenly Fleet’ and is the smallest of the fleets in Lhazaar. It’s said that a pair of them may live a long lifetime and never meet another, if that helps.”

Vernan frowned, “Well, she may the second you have heard of, or at least she claims to be one. But you are right she probably doesn’t know him.”

“Why do you say that my dear friend?”

“Because she claims to have come from…somewhere else,”
Melisandre looked across her cup at the dwarf, her eyes narrowed her lips pursed. “I know I may be asking a bit much and treading into…business here. But where exactly?”

Vernan noted the sudden interest and was concerned. Melisandre was in the business of protection and safeguarding. And while her recent job was a recruiter for a scion of House Kundarak, she was still a member of the House of Warning. But Vernan trusted her, ever since they met in Sharn ten years ago. All because any information was kept safe with her, and she traded back what could. But most importantly, his gut trusted her.

“A city she describes as having doors to anywhere. She called it ‘Sigil.’”
Melisandre put down her cup, and placed her hand beneath her chin, staring at the Dwarf intently. “Do you believe her?” she asked cautiously.

“I do…but I can’t prove what she claims. I have only one thing that makes me believe it, and it isn’t enough.”

“What is that?”

“I have spoken Elvish with captains of Lyrandar, Aereni, and country Khoravar. But I have never heard an Elven accent like hers. Even the phrasing is off here and there. And she doesn’t speak it badly at all, but it’s notable.”

Melisandre said nothing as she stared at Vernan. The stars now started to reveal themselves within the holes in the cloud cover, and a pair of moons started to light up the sky. She took a deep breath and leaned forward towards the dwarf.

“Vernan, I need to ask you a favor,” she said quietly, almost conspiratorially.

Vernan reciprocated and leaned forward and lowered his voice, “This is a first from you.”
Melisandre nodded, “Stay close to her…and if she asks in your presence for anything, no matter how small, make sure she gets it. And I mean anything.

“I want to help her but—”

“Just do as I ask…please. I believe it will help her. And you must help her.”
Vernan nodded and kept his eyes locked on Melisandre, “You know something…who is she?”

Melisandre leaned back, “Honestly I don’t know who she is. But I do know you need to do this for me.” And the half-elf stood, stretching her limbs and then straightening her velvet blue dress. “I have some letters to write tonight…thank you for visiting me Vernan.” And she turned to walk back inside the tea house, but not before turning and saying, “Remember the pots on you!” leaving behind the dwarf, wondering if he was out of his depth.

Melisandre headed down the stairs of the tower in thought. And as she pulled up her hood to cover her long dark tresses, she muttered to herself, as her boot heels clicked on the stone in the night air.

“In a city of the bones of the earth, one of the heavens may ask for succor of a stoneman from afar. If granted before a passage to an island distant, the path forward is certain.’ The board is almost set…soon very soon…”
 



Great to see you starting a new story Nthal - and even better to see it's a continuation of Myr's story.

A highly entertaining and very intriguing opening.

And I know next to nothing about Eberron - so I'm hoping that Myr will receive a full education about it, so that I can too. :)

Looking forward to more.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Great to see you starting a new story Nthal - and even better to see it's a continuation of Myr's story.

A highly entertaining and very intriguing opening.

And I know next to nothing about Eberron - so I'm hoping that Myr will receive a full education about it, so that I can too. :)

Looking forward to more.

Eberron is easily one of my favorite published settings. But with Myr being a newcomer does allow for some education on the nature of the world, its nations, power groups, and its peoples.

Enjoy the ride!
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise

Dark Places of Salvation - 11/1/2020​



I awoke in my cell feeling ill. Sitting up hastened that feeling past queasy and straight to nauseous. I scrambled over to the hole that was my latrine, and heedless of the odor, I stuck my head inside and vomited. It wasn’t like I had much to give out, beyond remnants of the potion and whatever bile was deep within me. So, the dry heaving accomplished little. But in between breaths, I heard a voice behind me.

“Are êow myne alright?” said the voice followed by the sound of sporadic coughing.

Still on my knees, I glanced backwards at the door and didn’t see anyone beyond the bars in the door. Staggering to my feet, and taking care not to hit my head, I staggered over to the door, avoiding kicking a small tray on the ground that had some bread and a mug of liquid. I looked outside and saw nothing beyond the passage; just the door of a cell opposite of mine.

“I’m feeling ill,” I said in Elvish and waited.

“Ah, if you are speaking Tel’Quessir to cover up what you say from the Mror, don’t bother,” said the voice from the other cell stifling another cough. “They don’t listen or care, and I am pretty sure they have someone that speaks it anyway. Didn’t realize I had a neighbor till I heard you spill your insides. You’re new.”

“I guess so,” I said panting a little from my exertion. “They gave me something that disagreed with me.”

“Ah the serum,” the voice said sympathetically. “Swear it was meant for Mror only, I was sick for days after they fed it to me. And they learned nothing new for the stomach ache it caused. Anyway, my name is Iryn.” And the voice again was interrupted by fit of hacking, “Iryn Boromar.”

I nodded in agreement, and still looked for his face at the other door. “Iryn…mine is Myrai…just Myrai. I can’t see you at your door.”

“See? Hah!” and another single cough sound came from the cell, “That’s a joke. It’s all dark to me, and I am a bit short to stare out a window into more darkness. Stupid joke that is.”

“Too short?” I said feeling relieved to have a real conversation with anyone else. “You aren’t a dwarf I take it.”

The voice was silent a moment, “You can’t be serious.”

“About what?” I said puzzled.

“I’m a Boromar…Boromar,” and Iryn’s voice trailed off in another fit of coughing.

“Sorry…I suppose it might mean something to a lot of people. Let’s say I’m not up on who‘s who,” I said.

Iryn seemed to recover,“We are a clan of Halflings! One of the sixty great families of Sharn…and you haven’t heard of us?”

I smiled bitterly, “No…I’ve never heard of Sharn or—”

“—Not heard of the City of Towers? What rock in the Mournland have you been hiding under?”

“Ah…well, I’m from a long way from here…from another plane, if you know what that is.”

“Well…sort of. Sometimes someone shows up in Sharn from Syrania. Makes sense since its Syrania that makes Sharn possible.”

“I don’t understand.’

“Nor I; better off asking someone from Morgrave University if you want an explanation."

I nodded, and then I smelled something. Sniffing the air, I smelled something like smoked grape leaves. I Looked across the passage, and could barely make out the smoke leaving the cell.

“You have pipeweed?”

“Yeah, some kin made sure I got some and some matches. No idea on how much that cost them, but it’s the only thing in the darkness that keeps me sane, beyond the matchlight itself.”

“Is that why you are coughing so much?”

There was silence for a moment and Iryn spoke with a wry tone, “Yeah…Jorasco healers says the smoke is killing me. But the only thing that soothes it is more smoke,”

I nodded to myself and turned around, landing against the door. “How long have you been here?”

“I can’t say now. Think maybe a week or so. I tried to keep count, but…I don’t know. But I don’t think I will be here much longer.”

“Why?”

“The Soldorak in charge of questioning me, has already made up his mind to send me to Dreadhold. There is no way that’s going to happen though.”

“Dreadhold?”

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised…it’s a prison. A prison that even the dwarves hate to guard. But it’s a place that only the worst of the worst should be sent. But truth be told, its whoever can pay for it.” I heard a guffaw and then he continued. “I should be flattered I guess, to warrant such accommodations.”

“I’d ask why…but that—”

“Robbed payroll on the outbound Lightning Rail. Its no secret, they know it, I know it, and I said it. But I can’t tell them where it is, because I don’t know. What about you?”

I chuckle, “A spy and murderer…and I owe someone for healing me.”

“Jorasco healer shake down. They certainly want to be paid, but your voice sounds too pretty to be a murderer.”

Smiling I replied, “Well, I have killed a lot…but not here. They don’t like my answers either.”

“Well, best of luck with that. I honestly don’t think that Soldorak cares. I’d give his boss a piece of my mind, but that’s not going to happen.”

“Boss?”

“Yeah, the clan in charge of security here is working for their bitter rivals, the Mroranons. And Urkiel Mroranon is the one in charge; but he’s busy doing something. Like he would believe me.”

“Why wouldn’t he?”

“Ah…well…the Boromar’s are well known…and some folks would say our reputation colors their opinion. Not sure why I am telling you that…but I guess you might need to know how to get around and know who’s who. But leave it at this; you don’t mess with the Boromars, or our business. It’s a quick way to the grave.”

I nodded to myself, “I get your meaning,” I was silent a moment when he spoke up again.

“I’m not going to bite…don’t mean to scare you. Frankly talking to anyone that isn’t a Mror is a nice change.”

“Can…can you help me with something?” I asked as an idea came to mind.

“From here I can do very little.”

“You can though. I seem to understand only a portion of the trade language here. Can you help me with the words? Elvish is fine and all, but I’d like to understand what’s going on.”

“Why not…where do you want to start?”

““Myne?’”

“Feeling.”

“Leafa?’”

“Let us.”

“’Aganwe?’”

“Again.”




Third bell had just rung and Taryn d’Kundarak leaned back on his chair in the Enclave receiving office, and glared at the large pile of contracts, and the smaller pile of receiving documents. He fervently wished he could delegate this to someone, anyone else. But he did author the deals, and he needed to make sure they were honored. Otherwise, there were going to be a number of very upset soldiers and worse a furious uncle. He rubbed his short cut beard thoughtfully as he thought about the implication.

“Not even a quarter of the herds have made it here. Debrika this is all there was from this morning’s rail?” he turned and glanced at his companion, another brown-haired dwarf with streaks of silver shot through it’s lengths. She was standing by one of many files in the receiving room and was occupied filing various bits of paperwork. She turned, and gave Taryn a cold stare at the question, saying nothing.

Meeting her gaze, he sighed. “Of course, it is. Late, late, late” he said glumly, and he turned to scowl at the uneven paper work, when a knock at the door sounded.

“About time Melisandre showed up…come in!” and the door to the receiving office opened. And in entered not the half-elf in a blue dress that Taryn was expecting, but instead a familiar dwarf, dressed in a long duster.

“Vernan? I thought you were busy on a contract with us…or are you looking to switch occupations?”

Vernan said nothing and set a small keg on the table. Taryn rubbed his hands together as he looked over the seal on the keg, nodding approvingly.

“Official business then. Is this to loosen my tongue or celebrate a fine deal?”

“Technically…it’s for Debrika. But I’m sure she’ll share,” Vernan said, causing Debrika to look up from her files frowning in disapproval. “How’s your gold mine going?” Vernan asked pleasantly.

Taryn glared at the inquisitive, “That’s my uncle Kaelin’s mine, not Kundarak’s. You know that.”

“Convenient. His sister marries in, and he gets the House resources, while he keeps ownership of his claims.” Vernan said mildly.

“The rules have been followed,” Taryn said pointedly. “And what does that have to do with your assignment?”

“Nothing at all. However, it seems that there is more going on that I originally guessed. But rather than bore you with the details, I just need to ask you about your prior position. I have some general questions for you both on how the contracts for the Dreadhold work.”.

Taryn was taken aback a moment. He then shrugged and said, “That was an unpleasant business I was happy to leave behind. The short answer, five-year contracts with provisions for renewals. They’re payable annually, with the pay somewhat front loaded on the first contract’s term.”

Vernan nodded and thought a moment before asking, “What about cancellations?”

“Depends on the contract actually,”

“What about the Soldorak one for Krona Peak?”

Taryn narrowed his eyes thoughtfully and again shrugged, “I understand that one is a bit complicated, because while it is with Soldorak, the coin for it comes from Mroranon’s coffers.”

“So Soldorak doesn’t pay it?”

“No, they do, after they get funding. It was a compromise as it was originally written as if Kundarak had won the business. In that case it would have just been handled by us entirely.”

“So, if there was a cancellation on a contract, it would have come through this room, right?” Vernan pressed.

“Of course it would, once we get the notarized document from Sivis…wait…what are you thinking?”

“I think Mroranon is being taken advantage of, which is a breech of trust and a threat to Kundarak security,” Vernan said with a grimace.

Wordlessly, Debrika stepped up to the pair of dwarves talking, and dropped a binder of papers on the table, and with a strong right hand palmed the keg on the table, taking it down the hall out of sight.

“So much for sharing,” Taryn said mournfully, and he opened the binder and started to review the papers. His disinterest changed to puzzlement as he flipped more papers over. “What in the? In a single month, four contracts for Dreadhold were executed? And what is even stranger there are a cancellation notices for the first two; both one year in the future.”

“I take it that’s not normal?” Vernan said frowning.

“The cancellations are unusual, but not unheard of, although a year stay on a frontloaded contract is expensive.” Taryn said. “But usually a contract a year is high traffic. Four in less than a month? Unheard of.”

“Wouldn’t someone question it?” Vernan asked, rubbing his chin through his beard.

Taryn shook his head, “Unless Dreadhold complains about space, no one cares really. And there is plenty of space last I heard.”

“So, what happens when a contract is cancelled?”

“Well if cancelled, the prisoners are set free of course.”

“Where?”

“A port in Lhazaar unless arrangements are made otherwise. But that is beside the point, Kundarak is being paid here.”

“I bet. Are these the originals?”

Taryn shook his head, “No, these are copies; Sivis handles the papers in the middle and they have the originals.”

“Thanks Taryn. And good fortune with the mine; you’re going to need it,” Vernan stood up and headed to the door. Reaching it he paused and turned to ask Taryn a final question.

“By the way, when would be the next time someone would be sent there?”

Taryn thought a moment, “Well a supply run, and guard rotation occurs every month. Sometimes prisoners are part of it. In fact if I am not wrong,…the next run is three days from now.”

“Well then, I guess I know where I am going next.” Vernan said. “It looks like someone is running out of time.”




“Mona

“Moon. You are all over the place on the words. You going to remember this all?

I shrugged to myself. “I don’t know. But have to start somewhere.” I leaned against the door, and took a bite of the bread that was on a plate and swallowed some of the sour ale they had left on the tray. I grimaced at the ale’s taste.

“You know, I probably shouldn’t be complaining, but the food leaves a lot to be desired.,” I said still chewing the stale bread.

“I can tell you there are worse—wait. You did sip it right, not gulp it down?”

I had a sinking feeling, “No…why?”

“The Mror usually water down their stuff from the taps for guests; they don’t do that here…so you need to take it slo—”

My stomach suddenly heaved, “—Too late.” And I crawled over to the hole and started to empty the contents of my insides for the second time, although having something to come up made it liveable.

“Sorry about that, I’m going to get some sleep.”

I nodded my head in the hole, waiting for another round, panting with exhaustion laying there, barely conscious of the smells coming from below. As the nausea passed, I found myself laughing at the absurdity of everything happening. Escaping from evil slaving dwarves, to being jailed by what I guessed were respectable ones, all because I broke a table in the wrong bar. How could I not laugh at this?

I pushed myself up onto all fours, and I noticed something; the buzzing in my head suddenly appeared.

“Wait…” I whispered to myself. I then lowered my body again so lay next to the hole. And as I did so, I felt the buzzing in my head ebb. Then, I lowered my head into it and as I did so, I felt the buzzing completely dissipate. Pulling myself up, I felt the tunic I had been wearing, and found an errant thread. I easily pulled it away from the cloth, and with it in hand, I lay once again, with my head and hand in the sewer hole, and focused. I pulled on that part of myself that was me; not the strands, and I felt the familiar rush along my spine.

And there in the hole, the thread began to glow with a dim red light; the pain I remembered from earlier, no where to be felt. I flexed again and dispelled it. Now I was smiling, and chuckling. I lay there and started to focus on the strands within me. But this time I didn’t pull on them.

Instead I followed them slowly with my mind, feeling them as they spread out in the metaphorical distance. The strands seemed to twist and turn and then I found what I was looking for.

The strands were always connected to me, and they always seemed to stretch out in the distance forever. But I wasn’t the only thing connected to them. In my mind’s eye, I found where the strands, light and dark braided together on a shape; a cylindrical object. I reached out with my mind’s eye and grasped it and pulled.

My vision and nose returned to the sewer hole, with my arm extended down into the depths. I pulled myself back and rolled over and looked at my right hand. Clutched in it was a silver cylinder. Smiling in victory, I reached with my left hand and pulled a tab, revealing the metal sheets and the etched Celestial lettering within.

The Apochrypha. The lessons of my lord Kelemvor, and all the ritual magic that I possessed.

I rolled over and pushed the cylinder back into the hole, and wedged it so it wouldn’t roll down, although if it came to it, I could just resummon it. Before pulling myself out, I pulled on a bit of the strand to clean off the filth from the sewer, but not so much that someone would notice I was clean.

I crawled over to the platform and stretched out on it, smiling at my discovery. And more than that my mind considered the possibilities, and a plan began to form. It wouldn’t be easy, but everything I needed was nearby. All I needed was a little luck.

And a lot of faith.

Session Notes

So...there are a lot of skill checks being reflected here in long prose. We are really half way in a single day.

It's amazing how abstract the game can be, even when you role play a large bit.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise

Breaking Out in Good Faith - 11/5/2020​


Paron d’Sivis poured himself some hot coffee just as First Bell rang. He sighed, mornings were usually quiet, as most of Khorvaire was west of Krona Peak and messages inbound would only pick up about half way to Second Bell. Still, the quiet in the Message Room allowed him to take care of small things. As a scion of the house, he was rarely involved matters that didn’t require the Mark, giving him some latitude on how he could allocate his time. As long as he was around for his assigned time by the Message Stone, he could do what he wanted.

He was about to consider exactly what he was going to do before Second Bell, when a gnome clerk approached him; “Pardon, but there is a visitor who is insistent in talking to you. A Vernan Galandrak?”

Paron looked up in surprise, “Show him in.” He sat himself at a nearby table and waited, for the clerk to escort the Inquisitive inside. Vernan looked much like he always did, with his duster and a smile behind his beard.

“What brings you here now? Aren’t we going to spend enough time together with that stupid interrogation?” Paron said resigned as he looked at the dwarf.

“Yes, a waste of time,” Vernan said. “I need your help though, and this has everything to do with the interrogation.”

“Really…and what is that?” and Paron started to drink his coffee.

“Can you get the billing documents for Soldorak, Mroranon, and Kundarak?”

Paron sputtered hot coffee everywhere and looked at the dwarf as if he had grown a symbiont from his head. “Do you have any idea how many rules I would be breaking? And the sheer number of documents we are talking about? What on Eberron requires that?”

“Because I think our friend is pocketing a bit of gold—”

“—On what proof?” Paron said, his eyes hard. “I can’t just take your word on it.”

“The proof on this requires all three sets of papers, I can order Kundarak’s—”

“—But not Mroranon or Soldorak’s Those are private—”

“—We really don’t have time—”

“Certainly, we do; the papers aren’t going anywhere. If you have a suspicion, we can file a request with my leadership and have a House team look—”

“—Paron, I am telling you we need to do this fast.” Vernan said fuming.

“What am I missing here?” Paron said putting down his mug and raising his hands mystified.

“That woman is going to be crated off to the Dreadhold, unless we do this now!”

Paron looked puzzled at Vernan, “This isn’t like you to get so…attached.”

“I’m not attached, but…my gut is telling me something big is on the line.”

“Your…gut?” Paron said slowly, his tone in disbelief.

“And I was asked to.”

“By whom?”

Vernan, looked around and leaned forward, “Melisandre d’Med—”

“Are you insane?” Paron leaned forward, his voice lowered to a near whisper. “Who are you working for again? Her or Kundarak? How do you know she isn’t playing her own game?"

"You know the answer to that! And think about this; both Kundarak and Sivis’ reputation is on the line here.”

“What?”

“If Kundark and Sivis are party…sorry victim, to what I suspect, it will be a black mark against both houses. Some might think…they were complicit.” Vernan hissed quietly.

“Does the Medani know about this?”

Vernan shook his head, “No…her interest was on the woman, and I didn’t know what I know now.”

“Flinders.” Paron cursed. He drained the rest of his coffee from the mug, before speaking to Vernan again. “You had better be right about this. I can pull a favor and get Benfiq to do some digging. If you are right, he is the right gnome to pull it all together.”

“I am. Just trust me.”

“I was afraid you would say that,” Paron said glumly. “Now, what are we looking for?”




The position on my knees was familiar, and yet no more comfortable. My arms ached still, but at least I wasn’t fed more serum so my stomach wasn’t on the edge of spilling its contents again. But this time it was different.

“Ask her again,” the dwarf called Rior asked in the trade language.

“She’s not changing her answer why are we—?” the other dwarf Vernan I thought, started to say.

“—Do it!” Rior then barked,

Vernan then sighed and then said to me in Elvish, “So who hired you to come here and spy?”

So different didn’t mean better. But having a stronger grounding in the trade tongue let me get a clearer picture on the dynamic. The gnome was only there to document me repeating myself. Vernan and Rior really didn’t like each other, although the gnome seemed to like Vernan.

But as our time together progressed, I got the sense that Rior wasn’t really interested that I answer the question. The more he barked, it sounded like he was killing time and that he had something better to do than make me suffer on my knees. Now, considering things, this was not pain and suffering by a long shot. The position I was in made me helpless, and probably would make a lot of people feel vulnerable. I just happened to have perspective on how much worse it could be. It didn’t mean I liked it. But it did mean I could deal with it and pay attention now I didn’t have poison coursing through me. And as I sat there, head bowed I heard something interesting.

In the trade language, the gnome spoke up, “You know for as much as you are paying Sivis on this, we could have just used an Eye of Aureon.”

Eye of Aureon?

“Are you saying I can’t interrogate a prisoner?” Rior spat back angrily.

“Not at all. But we would be done with this waste of time. I do have other work I need to do for Soldorak after all.” The gnome said wearily. As he finished, somewhere in the distance I heard three chimes of a large bell.

“Paron, that’s very nice, but the Eye is simply not needed,” Rior said his voice condescending. “Assuming what she said of her origins is true, she isn’t a citizen of old Galifar or one of the Five Nations. She has no standing here in Mror, and therefore no privileges to stand in a house of law. But I agree, this is a waste of time. Guards! Take her back to her cell. We’ll just send her off in two days.”

Sodding Baator. I thought as two dwarves grasped and released me from the t-block on the floor. As I stood, I noticed that Vernan was watching me expectantly. Like something was supposed to happen. I didn’t pay it any mind at first, but as the dwarves escorted me back to the cell block, I realized he was following me.

After passing through the halls, we entered a square room that was the entry point to my cell block. in the center of three walls were locked iron doors with bars at dwarf eye height. A single table was in the center of the room with three pitchers and four mugs on top of it, and two dwarves sitting bored around it on chairs. One of the seated dwarves, stood up and walked past me. They grabbed a metal key on a hook that was on the wall near the passageway leading back to where I was questioned. As he passed, I saw something on the floor. My heart quickened a bit, and I made my play.

“Vernan,” I said in Elvish. “Can you convince the dwarves to loan me a bucket, water and cloth. I haven’t had a bath in days.” I turned to look at him pleadingly and was surprised.

I was expecting any number of reactions, but not this. I saw him think a moment, and he looked around in…desperation. Like a compulsion had washed over him. Looking around he stammered.

“I don’t exactly see a bucket or anything.”

“That would do,” I nodded at a brass pot on the floor next to the table.

“That’s a spittoon you realize?”

I nodded, “And they don’t use it I notice.” Turning back to Vernan I said. “Please…it doesn’t sound like I have a lot of time left here.”

His eyes narrowed for a moment and then he nodded and spoke in Dwarvish. The two room guards and my escort started to laugh, and I watched as the seated dwarf poured half a pitcher of water into the brass pot and then tossed a rag on the table into it. He looked dubiously at the contents and said something in dwarvish.

The other dwarf had opened the door to the cell block and had already opened the door to my cell. One of the escorts grabbed the spittoon, and then they together pushed me down the hallway. Once they reached my cell, they then spun me around to release me from my manacles, while thrusting the spittoon into my arms and pushing me inside my familiar cell, locking it behind me. And in no time, the threesome left the cellblock, as I heard the block door slam shut and lock once again.

I stood there head bowed in my cell and looked at my prize. The spittoon’s contents were now mixing with the water, turning it a vile color of brown.

“So much for a bath,” I said.

I then hear across the way coughing and then “Myrai…back again!”

“Yes, probably for the last time. Sounds like they are done with me.” I said recalling what I heard. “Hey, do you know what an Eye of Aureon is?”

“Yeah I do. It’s a big magical plate in the ground, that prevents you from telling lies. Tricky business with them. You can evade as much as you like, but most judges would see ‘dodging the question’ as guilty.”

“And there is one somewhere in this place…thanks,” I said.

“Well…I’m sorry about the new accommodations,” Iryn said. “I heard they nail you shut in a box with a small hole for food for the trip over. Course that might be an ugly rumor. Won’t be joining you though as my times about up.”

I blinked and put down the spittoon and moved to the cell door, “Iryn…what did you do?”

“Well…not all the weed was pipeweed. One of them had a bit of poison. Safe to smoke, but not so much to eat. I’ll be dead before First Bell.”

“Iryn…it…it can’t be that bad.” I said concerned, my plans of the moment forgotten.

“I was dying when I came here; my lungs shot. But I let myself get caught to let my kin get away. In exchange, my share goes to my wife and son.” And Iryn began to cough again, quietly.

“Why? They certainly need—”

“—Look I said I was a Boromar. I tried to leave. Tried to have a family away from the Clan. Thing is you can’t leave it. It wasn’t a big deal until my son was born. I want him to grow up with out the name and without the baggage. This…This was the price. I just wish I could have told her.”

I have heard this type of story before; a parent paying it forward in desperation. A better life for your kids than what you had. I couldn’t argue its seductiveness and while the cost in this case couldn’t be higher, I could no more judge his life, as much as I couldn’t judge his death.

But I wasn’t done with him.

“Iryn, you didn’t smoke all of the weed did you?”

“Hah! I would be green to my ears if I did that. Thought I was pacing myself for more time, until the Dreadhold came up. Why?”

“Well…if you aren’t going to use it—”

“—Nope.”

I blinked in surprise, and I probably sounded desperate. “I need it!”

“I am saving you from yourself. This is a nasty habit. Can’t have that on my conscience now.”

I chuckled and shook my head. “No…I need it. But I’m not going to smoke it.”

“So…wait. You want it…but not smoke it? You can’t chew it…it’s still got poison in it!”

“No, I don’t want to consume it either. I just need to burn it.”

Iryn’s cell was silent for a long moment and I was about to speak up again. “Well…as long as you promise you don’t imbibe it either way. Let’s see if my arm is any good. Catch!”

Quickly, I stretched out my arms past the bars ready to blindly catch something. I felt it bounce off of my fingers on my left hand, and I continued to bobble it from hand to hand. Finally, my fingers on my right hand closed on a corner of cloth, keeping it from dropping on the ground. I slowly pulled my hand backwards and used my left hand to press the bundle against the door, and let my right get a better grip. Gaining that I pulled it into my cell.

I moved over to my sleeping platform and opened it. There inside were three pouches of pipeweed, and a smaller bundle of wooden sticks. Each stick had a bulb of some type of rough material. I looked at these in confusion when Iryn read my mind.

“The sticks are matches, just draw it across the stone and it will catch aflame. New invention making the rounds from Zilargo.”

I nodded to myself and said, “Thank you Iryn. Thank you.” I had everything I needed.

I moved to the door and listened, and I could hear the dwarves muttering down the hallway. They were always loud. Loud enough that I doubt they would hear me.

I moved the spittoon and then all the bundles of weed and the matches to the sewer hole. Laying down I reached inside and pulled out The Apocrypha. And lay it against my left thigh. I then took the rag and squeezed out the foul water into the hole, leaving it damp but not soaking. Setting it aside, I poured the water and filth out of the spittoon, and down the sewer, emptying it. Once done I took the cloth from the bundle and wiped dry the interior. Then I set the spittoon into the hole, and wedged it so it wouldn’t slip any farther down.

I then took all three of the pipeweed bundles and emptied their contents into the bottom of the brass spittoon, spreading it evenly along the bottom. I took the damp rag and wrapped it around my face, covering my mouth and nose, all the while trying to forget where it had been. I then took the bundle of cloth and covered my head with it, and spread it out so to cover the sewer hole, and with my head and arms inside.

I lay there, with a match in my right hand and I looked at it gulping.

“Please Kelemvor…let this work…Please just help your servant this once.” And I struck the match.

It flared to life, startling me. I knew I could do something like this with a pull on a strand, but I did marvel at the concept, that anyone could do this magic. No, that wasn’t right; it wasn’t magic. This was something else.

The match was half way down when I refocused on what I was doing. I then dropped the match on the pipeweed in the brass spittoon. Quickly it began to smoke and smolder just as I hoped. Closing my eyes, I started to whisper to myself. They weren’t words, just sounds of particular pitches and tones. I breathed slowly and began to weave.

The light and dark strands danced in my mind, as I slowly wove it into a circular pattern. I pulled the threads thin, and wove and knotted them, slowly and carefully. This was nothing to be rushed, it was delicate work to create a trap of sorts. I breathed deeply the air, filtered partially by the rag and the water within. My eyes teared as the fumes filled the cavity of the spittoon. It prevented the weed from flaring into a sudden fire as my makeshift brazier let the material smoke, and not turn to ash all at once.

I worked the strands, forming a pattern that I had made once before months ago. The strands to my mind looked like a web of sorts, but not one for a spider. This one had was like patterns of diamonds and with bits of strand loose at the knots to be toyed with. Finally complete, in my mind I moved it through the weave, like a net in water. I was slow at first, and then I moved it with greater speed. I kept chanting phrases and focused on the knots, tightening some, and loosening others.

Then I felt it, a tug. I waited a moment, and I felt the tug again, but this time less tentative, surer. Finally, I felt the strands being pulled away from me. I then pushed forward with the weaving and enveloped something. It didn’t fight like it did before months ago; it clutched and grasped desperately to the woven strands. I then pulled with my mind on all the strands that I wove, and forced them into my world.

I opened my eyes and blinked. There I could see the physical manifestation of the strands, now an ashen web. The web covered a black furred form, supine in the bottom of the spittoon. I watched as it shifted and I saw along the soft fur, wings covered in black feathers flex slightly as the creature took in a new breath. My eyes teared up in joy as I saw the slitted yellow feline eyes regard me with interest. And then finally heard in my head, words that were sorely missed.

--Well it took you long enough!

Gossamer!


I lifted out my familiar and clutched him to my breast in a embrace, crying in joy. The Tressym shifted awkwardly in my arms, half trying to escape, and half trying to find a measure of comfort.

--Look now, I do need to breathe.

Sorry…It’s been a trying couple of days.

--I am sure it was now…hold it. What happened? Why was I in a stinky pot?

You don’t remember?

--Remember what?

You being consumed in fire?!?

--Of course, I remember that, and then you summoned me…back…wait…no. You didn’t do that. I then…oh.

I had to recreate you…or find you again. Needless to say, I need you.

--So, the Duergar caught you then. Could be worse.

It is worse. I’m somewhere else. I know it is called Eberron, but that’s it.

--This looks like a cell.

It IS a cell. The dwarves here, who aren’t duergar, think I’m a spy and murderer…oh and I didn’t pay a healer, I think.

--You? A spy? What did Iesa say about that?

He…he’s not here.

--What? He and that silly monkey what…’wound up biting the dead book?’

No…we were separated.

--“We” who is here with you and I?

That’s it. Just us…now.

--So you don’t know where we are exactly, we have no friends, and you want to what break out of this cell without a plan?

So, yes, not quite, and dead wrong. That’s why you’re here Gos.

--Well…what’s the plan?

I need you to get a key; its beyond a couple of doors, both with bar slots like the door in here. It’s hanging on a hook. There were two dwarves in the room, so you are going to need to be careful getting it.

--Well this should be simple, all you need to do is use the weave to--

That’s a problem. I can only use the strands if my head is in the…sewer there.

--Sewer…wait, you summoned me in a sewer pipe?!?

Well…yes?

--That’s disgusting.

I’ve been laying with my face in it, you don’t need to tell ME!

--Ah…right…sorry. Can you look through my eyes?


I looked at the Tressym and concentrated, and then my sight shifted, to me. My hair was matted, and it like my face was covered in dirt or worse. The skin around my mirrored eyes red and puffy from crying and dealing with smoke, and my nose running. I quickly shifted my vision back.

Sodding Baator, I look like I was at the bottom of that pipe.

--Might be a bit strong. Not as bad as you smell though.

Bath…need a bath…later. But yes, I can point out the key.

--But I can’t use it. I’m not that good.

Just get it. I have a plan for the next part.


I lay down by the sewer and pulled out the spittoon while Gossamer squeezed his lithe body between the window bars of my cell, and was quickly out of sight. I moved the spittoon aside, and after taking a deep breath, lowered my head inside and waited.

--Is this it?

I quickly shifted and looked through Gossamer’s eyes again, and saw he was staring straight at the key.

Yes, turn so I see the guards.

Gos turned his head, and I saw the guards sitting at the table, their backs to the door to my cell block. They had now a small keg in front of them and they were certainly deep in their cups.

They look near gone. I can’t help you here; you need to get the key and get back to my cell door. Take your time.

--Got it.


I lay and waited. Time of course crawled as I lay there, with a head full of sewer fumes. Anxiously, I was tapping my foot when finally Gossamer spoke up.

--That was close. Here.

Close?

--The pair on the table, are light sleepers. But I got it. Now what?

Put the key down, and then when you see it move, look at the lock.


I then put my head in the hole again and focused and using a white and black strand, formed a glove and imagined my hand inside of it. Looking up from the hole, I saw the hand floating there. I concentrated and moved the hand between the bars and then looked through Gossamer’s eyes.

It was strange but it worked. I quickly picked up the key and manipulated it in my ghostly hand, and then moved it up to the lock. As Gossamer watched, I slowly and carefully to avoid making noise, I threaded the key into the keyhole, and turned it, retracting the bolt.

Sighing to myself, I grabbed a pair of bags that held the pipeweed and stuck my head into the sewer again. I flexed and felt the rush on my back, and I placed a dim warm yellow light on one bag, and then I quickly stuffed it into the second, blocking the light from escaping. I then grabbed the Apocrypha and stood up, ducking to avoid hitting my head, and moved to the door. I took a deep breath and pulled it open slowly, trying not to let the hinges creak. Fortunately, the hinges made no noise, and I was relieved to see Gossamer sitting patiently on the floor.

I smiled at him and I pulled the door closed and then locked again. Taking the key, I then looked at the cell door across from mine; Iryn’s.

“One thing at a time,” I said to myself, and I put the key in the lock and unlocked it.

--Myr? What are you doing?

Keep an eye out. This has to be done.


I pushed the door slowly, again trying to prevent it creaking. I slowly opened it until it was just wide enough for me to slip through, and I entered Iryn’s cell.

He was laying on the stone platform that passed for a bed. To my eyes, his head was once shaven close, but now had a stubble of growth around the pate, as the top of his head would never grow any hair. His skin was loose around him, as the lack of food had taken its toll. He was struggling to sit up as his eyes searched the darkness.

“What do you want now?” he growled. And I instinctively put my finger to my lips and made a shushing sound, causing his face to contort in confusion. “What?” he whispered. “Who’s there?”

“Your neighbor has come to say…goodbye.” I said, and I stepped over and sat down on the platform next to him, placing a hand on his.

“You…you’re free?” he stammered his hand touching mine, and following up the length of my arm.

“Told you I wasn’t going to smoke it,” I smiled at the blind halfling.

“Damn it…you could have—”

“I still can…if you want. If you want to see your wife and son again.”

He blinked in the darkness and his body sagged, “Its too late for that…the poison.”

“I…can cure it. I’m a priestess of a…far away god. You aren’t beyond me yet.”

“If only I could see...”

I pressed the bag into his hands. “Inside this is a light that will shine. Open it carefully; its not bright, but it should suffice.”

I watched him pull on the draw strings, and he pulled out the second bag, now appearing almost like a yellow flame in his hands. His eyes squinted as they adjusted and he then looked into my face and I saw his expression soften into rapture.

“You…you…are…an angel…those eyes…”

“Part angel…my father was one, “ I said stroking his head with my fingers.

“I’ve seen one in Sharn…I would be pressed to tell the difference; except they were a little taller I think.” Iryn said reverently.

“Sharn has angels?” I said quietly. “I might have to visit I suppose. But let’s talk about you. What do you want?”

“You mean…save me?”

“Or let you choose your death.”

His brows furrowed in confusion. “Choose my death? I thought you were a priestess?”

I nodded, “I am. My god is…far away I suppose, but he is a god of death. As his servant one of my duties is to help those, with their life…or their death. You can’t really separate them. But while you don’t choose the first; you should be able to choose when you want to face the second.”

“So, If I chose to let the poison take me you would?”

“Yes,” I said softly. “And if you couldn’t end it on your own, I would…assist.”

His eyes grew wide, “By the Sovereign…is that allowed?”

“It is by my god…but it should be in accordance with what you believe. It isn’t for me to tell you what is right. I only intervene if asked, if needed, if warranted. And so, I can also cure you, and perhaps you will escape. Or I will sit with you until you pass beyond.”

“Why would you—?”

“Because no one should die alone…in the dark.” I said stroking his cheek.

He nodded and thought. After awhile he looked at me again and touched my own cheek. “If it is all the same, living means my son would…no. I can’t do that. But if you could, tell my wife that I love her.”

“What’s her name and how do I—?”

“—She works in an inn called ‘The Three Black Dogsin Sharn…her name is Peris…have a message brought to her there.

“I will do so when I am able Iryn.”

“Thank you,” and he gave out a sigh of relief. “It feels easier now…is that normal?”

“When you aren’t fighting for life, it is easier to let go. If you don’t mind, I will say a prayer for you.” I said quietly, still stroking his head.

“That’s…that’s…fine,” he said softly.

I placed a hand on his breast, and felt his heartbeat slowing, and I whispered to him:

“No one should be alone, in life or death,

Death is part of life, not an ending but a beginning

Death is without deceit and has meaning,

All should strive to help those to live,

So, they can die at their appointed time,

I will honor those who have died before me,

For it is their lives and deeds that give us the world today,

Bless this soul at his chosen, appointed time,

So, his deeds will live forever,

So be the will of my Lord, and my desire in faith

May Death grant you peace.”


I leaned forward and gave Iryn a final kiss on the lips, and I felt his heart slow to a stop, as his soul slipped free from his mortal coil.

I tucked the light bag, back within the first, and placed it in his hands on his chest. And quietly I stepped out of the cell, to see the judging eyes of my familiar.

What?

--You have time for that?

It is a responsibility.

--At a time like this? I don’t want to be blasted into another ball of smoke.

Trust me…I don’t want that either. You stunk.

--I should…wait I did?

Burnt fur is bad. And you had a lot of it. Or did. Let’s move on.


I looked the hallway up and down. I could see six or so paces away the cell block door, and the passage of the cell block went farther at least three doors or perhaps twenty paces. Looking down the hall I saw more cages that could have held the strange purple veined crystal, but they were empty.

“Perfect,” I said. Speaking aloud, “Gos, go to the block door and warm me if someone is coming, but stay there otherwise.” and I walked down to the end of the hallway and sat down. I then pulled a tab from the Apocrypha and started to chant quietly, looking at the door.

I pulled and created a lattice of dark strands and a single thread of light and wove it so the edge of the lattice covered the cell block door, and extended deeper into the hallway, close to where I sat. After some focus, I looked up and pulled the lattice strands taut, and I let the field manifest.

--Hey, I can’t hear them.

And they can’t hear you either.

--Oh…I see what …or hear what you…or not hear what you…never mind.

Go slip through the bars and stare at the lock, I need to unlock it with the key again. Let me know if the dwarves are awake of course.

--Nah dead asleep. I am looking at it now.


I quickly created another glove out of the strands and placed the key in it and jogged down the corridor. I first stopped at Iryn’s door, and pulled it shut and locked it. I then jogged to the cell block door and moved the key outside the barred window with the ghostly hand. Shifting my sight to Gossamer, I quickly unlocked it. Gossamer turned to look at the guards fast asleep, and I quickly and noiselessly opened the door. I quickly shut it and relocked it, while still in the field of silence.

Without thinking or saying a word I motioned to Gossamer. I first hung the key back on its hook, and then moved into the hall that led toward where I had been questioned. I padded quietly in my bare feet, feeling almost naked with a tunic almost too short to be modest. But no one was in the halls to see me. On the walls I saw plaques inset into the stone in script I couldn’t understand. Frowning we continued until we got to a four-way intersection. Twisting around all of them looked the same. I stood there and had an idea.

Gos, can you smell anything? Anything like food or smoke?

Gossamer smelled the air a moment and then blinked at me.

--Yes, left of here I smell smoke and I think meat…I’ll bound ahead.

I nodded. It was a good idea, as he was far quieter than I. He stayed on the floor against the wall and trotted forward. As I followed, I saw him come to a doorway and he peeked inside. He then quickly darted into the room. I followed and my mouth watered at what I saw.

This was a side storage room, with wheels of cheese, and small kegs of ale or beer. There was also an assortment of cured meats on a side board. On it was a lit candle, utensils and a couple of small bowls, containing white crystals.

Without a thought I grabbed a whole round of cheese and bit into it. The nutty smoked flavor was almost enough to make me forget the horrid food from the prison, and from the Lathander islands. Pirates were lousy cooks it turned out.

--You are going to share right?

I need this, you don’t. But sure…in a bit. Watch the door, I need some time.

--To eat?

No…to understand.


Keeping the wheel of cheese under my arm, with The Apocrypha, I grabbed the small bowl of crystals, and I pulled it to my face and I stuck my tongue in it. I smiled again. My suspicion was correct, it was salt. Putting it down, I then looked at the candle and with a quick thought doused it. I then took it and crumbled the top of the wick. The soot fell into the bowl of salt. I returned the candle and with a whipping of a white strand relit it.

I then moved into the corner of the room, and set the bowl on the ground, while I pulled another tab on the Apocrypha and focused, pulling strands of white around my mind. Then I formed small webs and let them orbit with the strand, letting them catch what they needed. After a bit of time, I pulled the strand hard to start it spinning around my mind and I then grabbed the bowl and stood up. Gossamer followed in confusion, as I returned to the intersection where we started.

Once there, I looked at the plaques. What was once unintelligible dwarven script…was still that. But looking at the plaques I could understand their intent.

--Ah I see. So which way is out?

Out? I don’t want to get out.

--What? I thought we were getting free?

We are. But the exit isn’t what I am looking for.

--You might need some more cheese…you seem to be, what I don’t know, out of your mind!?!


Ignoring the Tressym’s rebuke, I read one of the plaques and turned what was the opposite direction of the pantry we found. Moving quickly, we came to another intersection. Reading them again, I smiled, and continued forward. I was so excited, that I almost didn’t hear the clank of armor as I approached a room.

Panicking, I pressed myself against the wall. I peeked in and saw a pair of armored dwarves talking. The room itself was rectangular, with a desk in front of an ornate door, and two other side passages leading left and right. The room itself had some murals on the walls, and a pair of suits of armor flanking the passages leading off. Next to the door was a plaque made of a shiny copper metal, with greenish lettering. And it was the plaque I was looking for:

‘Urkiel Mroranon’

The dwarven guards seemed to be not at attention, but were rather paused on a patrol talking:

“I hear that they need more troops below.”

“Yeah, I heard that. I also heard that Kaelin Skolhanker is still hiring for his push to take back the Sieve. I heard it pays better.

“You want to fight for someone else’s gold mine?”

“Nah. I just rather stick an axe in a Jhorash’tar than the stuff creeping below.”

Frustrated, I leaned against the wall, out of sight and thought a moment. I snuck my head and looked past the dwarves at one of the suits of armor. The armor was mounted on some type of rack, but it held some type polearm. I grinned, and quickly created a glove and I sent it along the floor to the suit of armor. I focused a moment and slapped the polearm shaft so the shaft would hit the armor, and then released the strand holding the glove together, causing it to vanish.

What I was hoping was for some noise as a distraction. But what happened was even better than I hoped. The polearm, hit the armor, and then clattered on the floor, attracting both of the guard’s full attention.

“Cripes! What in the Five was that?

“The poleaxe slipped, it seems, help me put it back so it doesn’t fall again.”

Once their backs were turned, I dashed across the room, and grabbed the door handle to Urkiel’s office, and quickly opened it and slid inside.

The room probably was dark, based on I saw no shadows and no light. After Gossamer trotted inside, I closed the door to look around. It was well appointed, with a large tapestry on one wall, and a cold fireplace on the other wall, flanked by bookshelves. A desk was centered against the wall opposite the door, and behind it were an array of windows, looking outside.

I pressed my ear to the door, and heard the dwarves replace the polearm, and then they walked off, still talking to themselves. I hung my head down and gave a sigh of relief. I moved toward the desk and put down the bowl, the Apocrypha, while I bit into the cheese again. I also tore off a small piece and placed the nugget on the desk, where Gossamer jumped onto and started to nibble on it.

--The cheese is pretty good.

I looked out the windows to see the first sight of this new world. It was night, and the sky overhead was partly cloudy. My vantage point placed me on the side of a mountain valley, and I could see the opposite side clearly. The face of it was almost shear, as if an axe had cut a furrow in the mountainside. As my eyes travelled down the mountain, I realized that there were levels of streets on the outside of buildings carved into the face of the rock. The streets crisscrossed haphazardly ascending and descending at different points on the shear wall. Lights illuminated the streets below, and in the bottom of the valley, there was a broad avenue. Larger than many carts across, and lined with smaller sets of buildings as one got closer to the mountain. In the middle of the street was a pattern of round objects in a trench, and at various points, ramps and bridges crossed over the trench at three times the needed height I though.

This was a place carved, hewn and shaped from stone. It stood in contrast of the elven places I had been, where everything was grown into shapes. Here it was like the shapes were always here, hidden by the rock. While chiseled and carved, it was done in a way that looked and felt right. That the stone was meant for this path. Its beauty in its order, even among the chaotic striations of the rock itself. It was a wonder. As I looked upwards to the firmament above, I was amazed to see a sky with four moons peeking through the clouds.

“Wow,” I said mostly to myself as I sat on the edge of the desk drinking in the beauty, taking in a moment to eat the cheese I brought.

--Yes, yes, very nice. Where to now?

Nowhere.

--You lost me.

We need to talk to the man who works in this office.

--Huh the guards aren’t that smart it looked. We could get outside easily..

If I run off, they will hunt me down and throw me in that cell again. Look, I’m a stranger in a city I don’t know, with no one to call a friend. Where could I go? My things are somewhere I am sure but finding them would be dangerous. No, I need a fair chance to be heard.

--So how do you do that?


I straightened my tunic, and I started to use the strands to clean off the filth and blood from me and my ‘garment.’ I rushed the strands through my hair, cleaning it, I then focused on removing the stink from my skin and replaced it with something a little more earthy with a hint of spice.

Simple. I’m going to make an offer he can’t refuse.

Session notes:

Good, smart familars are hard to find, which is why pushed for and got the Tressym. Owls make better combat scouts, but that was never what Gossamer was intended for.
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise


The Bargain - 11/12/2020​



Urkiel Mroranon growled with frustration. There was always more to be done, and it would be early mornings and long days for a while. Normally filling a garrison with Mror was never a problem; the Realm Below had much to reward the intrepid and the brave.

Until Skollhanker started luring strong Mrors of all types, warriors, smiths, masons with the tales of gold from the Sieve. Gold fever had the Mrors aflame with greed and sloth. Hard honorable work below didn’t appeal as much as a swift march above for easy coin. Easy to lure battle hardened Mror with a share of a mine. A mine not touched since the early days of the Last War. You would think that nuggets were just waiting there, in easy reach in the tunnels. Nevermind that the Jhorash’tar infested the mine with their filth. But once done, the Mror would come back. All Urkiel could do was wait for the madness to pass.

But the work still needed doing, and so Urkiel had arrived early yet, before the sound of First Bell. The spring chill gripped the stone in its cold embrace. Few of the garrison staff were present, only the thin number of guards on the Fourth Watch. He supposed that his aide-de-camp Barnas wasn’t even in yet. But truth be told, Urkiel got more done the hours before First Bell, than he would with the constant interruptions of complaints. The Soldorak guards were never going to get along with the few Mroranon men still here on the surface. And while Urkiel was nominally in charge; the Soldorak were hired to do a job for Mroranon. And as long as it was adequate, he could ignore the complaints.

Urkiel entered the antechamber of his office he passed the still armor stands, and the empty desk of Barnas. And without pausing he opened the door to his own office. He stepped inside and sighed happily. The morning light from the east painted the stone walls, and slate roofs of Krona, in a dim orange glow. While the sun was still below the Iron Roots for now, by the tolling of the bell, the rays of the sun, would light up the stone and the gold leaf that adorned many of the buildings. Urkiel wasn’t really much for sentiment; but the morning glow of the gold made a Mror’s chest swell in pride.

But the view was far from Urkiel’s mind, as he felt warmth of the fire gently soak into his bones. The fireplace was ablaze with flame, its heat already spread throughout the room, and dulling the chill from the glass. The weather was always cool but for a spring, it was unseasonably cold. Urkiel unstrapped his hammer from his belt and placed it on the desk and was about to sit, when he realized something was amiss.

If Barnas wasn’t at his desk, how was it that the fireplace was already lit? Urkiel barely had a moment to think about it when he heard a stirring. There seated in a stuffed leather chair was the figure of a person curled up upon it. Staring a moment, he saw that they had hair like gold, drifting to below the shoulders, and lightly browned skin, a human female. In her hand was a book from his shelf, one that talked about the key battles of the Last War, and how the Karrns had overplayed their hand in fighting against Thrane. As he looked at her, he realized that she wore a threadbare tunic of a prisoner, Then she looked up and smiled at him, and as her gaze met his, he was suddenly certain of one thing.

She was no human. He saw himself in her eyes, which were like polished mirrors.

“I take it, that it is near…First Bell, correct?” she said softly in the trade language, unconcerned as Urkiel gripped his hammer with his right hand. “And I assume you must be Urkiel of Clan Mroranon…or did I have that reversed?”

Urkiel blinked puzzled, and replied with his own question, “You…you must be the one that we caught spying down below. How did you get in here…no how did you get out of your cell?” he growled, suddenly concerned.

The woman didn’t react to the question, and instead set his book on a table next to her. She looked at the Mror calmly before speaking again. “If spying includes falling and crushing a table, certainly. Otherwise not really. You are…Urkiel correct?”

Confused he stammered, “You are correct, Mroranon is the Clan name, and I am Urkiel,”

The woman nodded and smiled, “Good, I am pleased to meet you.” She looked around and straightened herself up in the chair. “I’ve been looking forward to—”

“—To what? Using me in your escape? You have severely—”

“—No.” she interrupted shaking her head. “No, I am not escaping. I am here to…make a deal…a bargain with you.”

“You are unarmed, and you are not in a position to make any demands.” Urkiel growled, narrowing his eyes at the strange woman who casually and calmly sat in his office. To his surprised, she nodded.

“You are right. I am not in position to make demands. Which is why here to make an offer,” she said simply, her hands folded in front of her. “I have no intent to run and hide.”

Urkiel’s anger settled and he looked at the woman with curiosity. “Alright what do you want then?”

“A fair chance.”

“What do you mean?”

The woman took a deep breath. “I have been a guest for some time, and yet none seem to believe a word I say. So, I want you to question me.”

“I have heard that you are concealing the truth of things.”

“No, I have not. And that’s why I want you to question me on the…Eye of Aureon. You, and the others, Paron and Vernan. They can confirm that I have not changed a word.”

“So, you said you wanted to bargain? What are you offering?”

“I will tell you on that same Eye, how I escaped your prison, and found my way to see you.”

Urkiel smirked at the strange woman, when the door burst open and a blonde haired, bearded dwarf ran inside.

“Sir! The prisoners! The Soldoraks tell me that the spy escaped! And—”

“—And the other one is dead,” the woman said startling the aide, who twisted around, and grabbed for an axe at his side. Urkiel then lifted his hand and shook his head.

“Suppose you know something about that?” he said evenly.

The woman sighed, looking down, softly nodding. “I would, and you can ask me on the eye if you like.” She then looked at the aide and then lifted up her arms and put her wrists together.

Urkiel shook his head, “If you were going to run, you wouldn’t be here. And I am curious…on what exactly you are going to say.”




Paron d’Sivis picked up his satchel and downed another cup of coffee, grimacing.

“Who overheated the kettle? Tastes like it came out of a—”

“—Paron! This is a catastrophe!” Benfiq said rushing into the room with a bundle. “Our own procedures made us blind to all of this! I suspect we are going to be buried in audits for years! YEARS!!

Paron sighed “Sadly yes. I guess we can take some solace that we found it now. Later it would be been much worse. Anyway, I need to get ready for that interrogation. Should be the last day of it and then I can help—”

“—Paron, sir!” a younger gnome; a new clerk Paron remembered named Ulden came rushing up with a slip of paper.

“What is it today…yes?” Paron replied annoyed.

“You’ve been summoned to the Circle of Adamant at once!” the excited clerk said.

“What? Now? Who sent the summons?” and Paron ripped away the slip from the clerk, and his expression became more puzzled as he read who issued the demand, just as Ulden voiced it.

“Urkiel Mroranon. It’s about that int—”

“What just happened?!? Urkiel wants to go back to war, not deal with common crimes…unless…Flinders! Benfiq, I am going to need those files now,” and Paron snatched the large bundle from his cousin. “And count on me missing my shift. This is getting serious.” And Paron started to rush to the back entrance to avoid the throng gathering for message services at the front.

“Wait!” Benfiq called, causing Paron to stop short. “You have a message that came in last night!”

“I will look at it later! I’m going to—”

“Its from Korranberg!” and Benfiq ran over to a bin holding received documents. He grabbed a thick stack of papers and ran it to Paron.

Paron put down the bundle and he started to flip through the pages, his eyes growing wider with each turn.

“By the Sovereign!”




Vernan jogged along the cobblestones toward the Old Keep. Naturally it took its name from the fact it was one of oldest part of the Peak. Back when it perched over the mines and overlooked the passes for marauding Clansmen looking to take the hard work of the Mroranon’s. Back before the Clansmen were subdued, and the Clans became princes of industry. Now the bailey stood wide open, and the hearthwardens kept the business of the city running. Vernan hurried himself inside and ran towards a wide tunnel leading under the keep. it was here that once the Mroranons settled matters of honor with blood in the arena. But now, the Mrors lived in a civilized time, and so the circle was now one of duels of words and codices and contracts. Here the laws were unbreakable, and they only sided with those who adhered to its letter. Vernan had only been here once, and then only to observe to understand how Mror justice worked.

Today, he had no idea what to expect.

The tunnel opened up into a domed chamber, at the top tier of a ring of seats, broken by a set of stone stairs descending down the arena floor. It wasn’t terribly large, perhaps twenty paces wide. And its shape and form heralded to days of grudges drenched in blood. The floor of the former arena was circular, with high stone walls, where spectators could watch the display But instead of sand and blood, there was now a disc inset into the stone with a stylized image of stone tablets, arranged like an open book. It was decorated with colored tiles and gilt in gold; a disc that charlatans and thieves alike dreaded; an Eye of Aureon. A disc where falsehoods were exposed, and only truth would carry the day. Around the edge of the ring were seats and a pair of tables opposed on opposite sides of the disc. On one side of the chamber, opposite the entrance on the first tier was the Throne of Judgement, before barristers argued and a Mror Adjucate decided the outcome. This was the Circle of Adamant, the court of law of the Mror.

The room already was occupied with onlookers, interested in the day’s proceedings. The crowd was sparse; it would take a murder or something sordid to fill the seats. Vernan made his way down the steps to the first tier, reserved for people involved in cases. As he did so, he was waved over to an open seat by a familiar face. Vernan quickly descended and sat next to Paron.

“This is your fault isn’t it?” Paron whispered. “I couldn’t even finish my coffee this morning.”

“My fault? I had a dwarf banging on my door just after First Bell, waking me straight to a hangover,” Vernan whispered back.

Paron regarded the dwarf with a confused look. “Wait, I thought you…then who convinced Urkiel to start up an inquiry? It would not have been Rior.”

“I have no idea,” Vernan said equally mystified. “Did you happen to find the—”

Paron waved his hand to shush the inquisitive, “Its all here,” and he pointed at the seat on his other side, with a stack of binders and papers. “And more, but I don’t see how that helps anyone right now. What on Eberron are we doing here?”

“I’m sure it will…become…clear,” Vernan said as he looked into the stands across from him. There seated in the fifth tier sat a woman, thoughtfully looking at the Circle’s floor. Her raven tresses loose around her bare shoulders. Her cloak was unfastened and laid on the back of the seat, exposing her blue dress. Her legs were crossed and her right leg was kicking back and forth. She then turned her head, and her piercing blue eyes locked with Vernan’s and she gave him a secretive smile.

“Vernan what are…what is she doing here?” Paron whispered. Vernan said nothing, shaking his head, when a booming voice sounded from behind the Throne.

“All rise, for Urkiel Mroranon, Adjucate of the proceedings!”

The crowd rose, and Paron looked around at the floor puzzled. “Where are the barristers? This is an odd—”

“—Its an inquiry, not a criminal proceeding,” Vernan said quietly. “The Adjucate is the one asking questions today.”

Urkiel Mroranon, emerged from a door behind the Throne. In his hand he carried a large maul, with the broad flat head resting on the ground. Sitting down, he raised up the maul, and let the mallet head strike a bell, embedded in the floor next to him, causing it to peal with a rich deep tone that resonated in the Circle.

“Bring her.”




The dwarf Barnas opened the door in front of me, and gently nudged me to move. I took a deep breath and strode forward into the room. I was on edge; the room reminded me of several dueling pits in Sigil, but instead of spikes on the tops of the walls, or racks of weapons to be used, there were a pair of tables and chairs, surrounded by grey stone walls. Looking up I saw that the chamber was richly adorned with red tapestries that hung behind the small crowd looking down at me.

I swallowed, and continued forward, barefoot and still in the same tunic I was first imprisoned in. I had cleaned it and myself as best I could, but I somehow felt dirty, and exposed here. I was nervous; this was what I wanted. And yet I wasn’t sure how my gambit was going to play. It was a risk, as I knew nothing about the people or the rules. All I knew that this Eye of Aureon forced the truth to be told. And I hoped truth would be enough.

I entered the arena and Barnas stood by the door, while I proceeded onto the disc in the center. As I did, I could feel a shift in the magical fabric around me. I felt a little light headed, and as I turned, I realized that even thinking about lying was very hard. The compulsion to be honest was almost overpowering and almost unnatural. Like a part of me that I could use was suddenly taken away. I faced at Urkiel, now seated above and looking down at me. I wasn’t afraid of him, but his position above me did nothing to calm me. I took a deep breath and looked up at him and waited.

“This is an inquiry, to answer a number of questions relevant to the safety and security of Krona Peak. You will answer my questions. Any evasion will be known. And avoiding questions will force me to assume the worst possible outcome. Do you understand?”

I nodded silently and waited.

“What is your given name?”

I furrowed my brow for a moment before answering. But I raised my voice so the observers in the gallery heard me. “I do not know what name I was given. I have called myself ‘Myrai’ for over twenty years.”

Urkiel cocked his head as he heard my answer, and then continued. “You do not know your own given name?”

“No, I was given to an orphanage, and if I had one, I was never told.”

The dwarf nodded, “And where was this orphanage?”

“It was the Gatehouse, located in the Hive district, in the city of Sigil,” I said. The crowd muttered in confusion.

“Sigil…and where is that exactly?”

“Exactly?...um…it can be seen floating over the Spire, in the Outlands, sometimes called the ‘Plane of Concordant Opposition.’” All to more murmurs and whispers.

“What is she talking about?

“She must be lying…”

“…the Eye?...”

Urkiel lifted and dropped the head of the maul again, sounding the bell causing the crowd to quiet down. “So, you came from Sigil to here?”

This was going to be complicated. “No,” I said. “I left Sigil months ago and was on…on a world called Toril. There I was pushed into a well and fell…and landed on a table here.”

Urkiel leaned forward looking me with doubt, “A…well?”

I sighed, “In the well, was a portal. A portal that drew me to here…Eberron. I didn’t call it; I didn’t even know it was in the well as I fell. But it is how I arrived here.”

“And you said this to the team interrogating you. Are they here now?”

I looked around, and there in the first tier, I saw the Dwarf and the Gnome sitting together and watching. As my eyes locked onto them, they looked at each other.

“In the seats, Vernan and Paron were two of them. The third I don’t—”

STOP THIS!” a voice thundered and rushing down the stairs into the pit was the very dwarf who was responsible for my imprisonment. The dwarf pushed himself down past the guards, until he was standing, in full arms and armaments next to my barely covered self.

“This criminal has no right to be here! I demand she be remanded to me and punished!” he yelled at the top of his lungs in the arena.

“What, there’s something worse than the prison you were going to ship me to?” I spat facing Rior. “All for your—”

The dwarf turned towards me his face red with anger, “I do not have to…wait. You are speaking the trade tongue now. How—?"

“Unlike some others here, I listen and learn,” I said taking a step forward towards him glaring. As my words echoed in the arena, I heard chuckles in the stands surrounding it.

“I don’t have to answer to you, criminal!”

“You do have to answer to me!” Urkiel growled. “Was she to be sent there and why?”

Rior’s eyes narrowed into slits of hate, before turning to the Adjucate. “Simple. She was a spy in an area for only Mror citizens—” As he spoke I could hear more muttering from the crowd.

“—I was not spying—” I said my hands clenched in anger, glaring at him.

“—She was indigent, unable to pay House Jorasco.” Rior continued.

“—I haven’t been asked to even pay a—” I interjected.

“—And she’s a murderer.” He said with grim finality.

The crowd was suddenly silent, and I could feel their eyes upon me as I stood there, my confidence fading.

“She had enough blood on her armor that someone didn’t survive. And that isn’t all. You killed a fellow prisoner, Iryn Boromar for his pipeweed. Your hair was found on the dead halfling this morning, and the weed was burned in your cell, all a part your escape plane, to avoid Mror justice.” The crowd again whispered at the revelation that I had escaped; that I might be dangerous.

“Your fanciful delusions are just dressing for a broken mind; a dangerous, deadly one. That’s why I decided to send her to Dreadhold.” He said smirking.

I was speechless. Trapped by my actions on one death, and on circumstance on the second. And he found a flaw in my plan. While I supposedly couldn’t lie, I realized now that it wasn’t total absolution. If I was seen as someone that was barmy, it wouldn’t matter what I said.

Or did it?

“Yes. I killed Eridan bin Ahoone,” I said slowly, and the crowd’s murmuring rose again. “He was in ill health, and the crossbow quarrel in him was…” I trailed off a second and I felt the emotions surrounding his death wash over me, and my eyes started to water. “He…asked me in the name of our god to…send him to his final reward. As a priestess of Kelemvor I had to honor his request.” I turned to look at Rior again. “As for Iryn, he chose his own fate, and all I did was let him go. I could have saved him, but he stayed my hand and—”

“—So, you killed him in the name of a false god.” Rior sneered.

I gritted my teeth and my anger rose. Without a thought I pulled on a light strand, “How…DARE…you!” my voice boomed in the hall, far beyond my lung’s capacity. Rior took a step backwards in surprise. “I am a loyal servant of my god, and you will NOT mock him,” and I then pulled a dark strand, and the chamber shook with tremors. Everyone looked around in alarm, wondering if the quake was serious enough to warrant escaping to the surface.

“I don’t care if you think,” I spat my voice booming through the hall, “that I am out of my mind. That you think I’m a threat. But I am devout to his tenets, and to call my ministrations to the dying, murder…is BLASPHEMY!” I stood up straight, shivering in my anger and passion. My heart was pumping, as my blood coursed through me.

Rior was surprised but he swiftly recovered, “Simple tricks for a charlatan. It changes…nothing about your…fantasies, nor my assessment of you being a threat. Your stories’ entertainment does nothing to mitigate your danger.”

“Pardon…my Lord Urkiel,” said a voice in the stands. I turned in surprise and saw the gnome who had attended my interrogation had stood and was waving a hand towards Urkiel trying to grab his attention. “If I may enter the fray on the floor, I have…relevant information on this matter.”

Urkiel was about to respond, when Rior turned and yelled at the gnome, “Your responsibility is to document, not provide evidence—”

That would be true if this was about a crime,” Urkiel raised his voice only slightly, silencing Rior. “But this is an inquiry, and where I want information, I get it. Please, Paron d’Sivis.” And Urkiel gestured to the floor.

The gnome made his way to the bottom of the chamber, standing tall and proud. He stepped in from of Rior and I and then spoke,”

“When the woman known here as Myrai kept talking about a strange city called Sigil, it seemed like a fantastical place, borne from the tongue of a bard telling a children’s tale and nothing more. But she was insistent on its existence, and so I decided if this was a tale, then someone else must have recorded it. I contacted a colleague at the Library of Korranberg and made an inquiry.”

The gnome turned to look at me, “Imagine to my surprise, to find out that her tale is true,” and the observers gasped.

My heart skipped a beat. Planewalkers had been here before. I felt a smile creep on my face as he continued talking to the crowd, as much as Urkiel, playing up the drama now on display.

“During the Last War, around 956 there was a visitor to the city of Sharn, a rare species from Kythri known as a Githzerai. While I am not clear on the circumstances of his visit, he did stop at Morgrave University and had told a small gathering of professors of planes beyond our Orery, and he did talk about a ‘City of Doors,’” and he turned to look at me, with the barest nodding of his head. “Sigil.”

“Preposterous!” Rior growled. “Tale fit for a low bar and nothing more,”

“I would not call into question the learned members of that institution. Nor House Orien who I understood spent coin investigating the tales. And the information he left was verified by that House with magical aid. But while interesting, Orien could do nothing with what they learned. And with the War on, the Brelish, focused on matters at hand and the tale was forgotten by most. Except to a visiting scholar from Zilargo, who recorded it in his journal, which was donated to the Library in 973. But those are unimportant details.”

The gnome spun and looked up at me with a smile.

“Who is the central leader of Sigil?” he demanded.

I was somewhere between relief and tears of joy and I was never happier to utter her name.

“The Lady of Pain. She sets the ground rules and keeps the powers out.”

“Who is that person’s servants?”

“Her servants are called Dabus, they repair and fix the city,” my smile widening.

“What language do they speak?”

I laughed and a tear poured down my cheek, “While they can understand anyone, they don’t speak. They communicate in rebuses like this,” and I held out my hand and thought, and in golden shining lines I used a light strand to create a series of symbols. There on my hand I created three objects; a target with an arrow lodged in its frame, a piece of meat and a crowned male head. “That’s how they would say ‘mistaking’”

Paron turned to Uriel, “There are more examples, but I assert this is a real place, based on the evidence from the Library of Korranberg,” and he placed a binder on a table to the side.

Rior’s mouth was clenched, and then he gave a wide grin, “You understand my…reluctance to believe her. It changes nothing; she still was not where she was supposed to be, and your attempted escape is further proof of your guilt! It is fortunate that we caught you before you could disappear and cause more mischief.”

“Really?” my tone incredulous. “I escaped your cell because you never intended me to stand on this Eye of Aureon. You said, ‘I wasn’t a Mror and had no right to stand here!’” I gestured at the disc I stood upon. “So, I did escape and turned myself into a Mror who would at least consider listening to me. Because if I hadn’t’, you would have just sent me to rot in the Dreadhold.”

The instant that prison’s name left my lips, the chamber went silent. It was like I said something forbidden, or something so horrific that the mere mention of it was like a curse.

Rior didn’t flinch, he just stared at me with that same look of contempt, “I am charged with keeping Krona Peak secure. And what you had to say—"

“Perhaps we should discuss this further?” came a gruff voice, and I now saw that the dwarf, Vernan stood. “If I may, the House Kundarak has had an interest in the matter of security. But during my investigation of the risks the woman represents, I found something…unexpected. If I may?”

Urkiel rested his right elbow on the arm of his seat and rubbed his temple, “Why not? I cannot wait to hear this.”

Vernan walked down into the ring below and, took a spot in front of Rior and I, as Paron sat down on a chair near a table. Rior’s hate for Vernan was on full display here, but I was lost as anyone observing my fate today.

“House Kundarak was concerned very much about any breach of security here and asked me to look into the risk to their business. Listening to the woman, there was indeed a risk, portals in thin air? Vaults could be breached; defenses compromised. But what I found was far more sinister,” and Vernan walked up and he stared at me straight in the eye, with a look of distaste. I was going to interject when I saw he did something and held my tongue.

He winked at me.

“Now, there are many ways to compromise security,” he said as he turned to the crowd. Rior’s eyes were narrowed, as he listened, trying to follow the logic of the Inquisitive. “And in our experience in security, the best way to compromise the integrity of a fortress, or a bank, is best accomplished from the inside. Naturally, portals or other magical conveyances are well known types of breaches, that are looked for regularly. But imagine to my surprise that I found a very different kind of breach.”

He turned and looked at Rior dead in the face. “A breach of trust.” As those words escaped his lips, I saw Rior’s breathing quicken and his face pale. I was by comparison confused, as I listened to this tale.

“What I found was this. Certain people, criminals mostly would be sent to the Dreadhold. And of course, Mroranon would fund the expense at the…recommendations of security. They would fund the contract’s five-year term to Soldorak. Then they would ship off the criminal and send a cancellation notice to House Kundarak. Soldorak then would pay for the first year and some penalty fees. But Soldorak somehow failed to mention that cancellation to Mroranon and failed to mention that they were owed monies back, about half of the total five year sum. “

Rior’s face became as white as a sheet, and his breathing labored as he looked around like a trapped cranium rat.

Urkiel had leaned forward, fully engaged in the tale being told in the ring, his face grave as he looked at Rior. “I assume that you have more than a fancy tale here,” Urkiel said his voice seething.

Vernan nodded, “Indeed. After consulting with House Sivis, we…” his voice trailed off, and with that Paron jumped up and spoke to Urkiel and the crowd again.

“Yes…by looking at the accounts of all three we found all the connecting paperwork. By looking at only Mroranon and Kundarak accounts, nothing was amiss. Only if you look at Clan Soldorak’s documents in between can you see what really happened with the coin,” and Paron placed the second larger binder on the table.

“And who better to use, but people that otherwise would be unlooked for?” Vernan said with contempt. “Iryn Boromar was on the outs of his family and was dying. If he disappeared, his family wouldn’t look for him, and as for this woman? Insane or not, she had no friends to call to help her out. If they survived, both would have been abandoned somewhere in the Lhazaar Principalities, unlikely to return to Krona Peak counting their blessings.”

The crowd hissed in disapproval and the murmuring grew. Rior looked around for support, but even the Soldorak guards stationed there, looked at him with contempt.

“So, Rior. Is this true?” Urkiel asked the hapless dwarf. “Did you betray Mroranon’s trust?”

The sweat was now pouring from his brow. He stood looking around nervously as he tried to speak, “I…well…that is…perhaps…I should talk to—”

Urkiel lifted the maul with his left hand and let it drop again, causing the bell to peal. “This is your last chance Rior Soldorak.”

Rior’s back stiffened, and he raised his head, “I think I will wait for a…formal hearing on this before answering.”

“Such is your right, as this would be a…crime against coin and contract,” Urkiel said, his hate for the little dwarf that once stood defiantly before him. “Take him away.”

Two Soldorak guards grabbed their former boss’ arms, and led him down the tunnel, descending beneath the Throne. He never turned to look at me, and I truly hoped we would never meet again. Then Urkiel addressed me.

“It seems your visit here has…made an impact. But, by my authority as Adjucate, let me be the first to welcome you to the Mror Holds.”

And I heard applause in the rings of seats around the arena. The observers were standing and clapping…for me. I felt was overwhelmed with various emotions, relief exhaustion, joy. But as I turned around one figure caught my eye. A woman still seated in a blue dress, her long dark tresses loose around her shoulders, her skin a pale white, and she looked at me with piercing blue eyes. She was slowly clapping as she wore a crooked smile on her face, and she nodded as she realized I was staring at her.

“You…Myrai, owe us a tour of your escape. I am very eager to hear of it,” Vernan said grasping my forearm and shaking it. Paron looked at me smiling, “As am I. I think it took Vernan a month to break out of here the first time.”

I turned to look at the dwarf and he shrugged, “The best way to test it is to, get incarcerated. It is also how I got work from Kundarak; they respect thinkers.”

“Of course,” I said, and I summoned Gossamer from his hiding spot. At his appearance the pair looked at each other nodding with a smile. “But before we do so, is it possible I get dressed?” The pair started to laugh as I continued. “I feel like I ‘m going to show people more than they should see in this tunic.”

“Let’s get your things, and then some food.”




After getting dressed, I answered a lot of questions and I saw I had earned a lot of respect. Not because I escaped, but that I stayed and explained what I did and how. I apparently impressed a lot of them with my ingenuity and had them question many of their own assumptions. The familiar. The Apocrypha. The spittoon. All of it. And while some of the escape were only things I could do, they knew if I could, someone else might. But other things like where the key was kept, the guards, the patrols, the windows, and the sewer. Those were things that a dwarf called a ‘Silver Key’ was looking at and planning changes. However, his glares at me told me that not everyone appreciated my efforts.

Paron and Vernan then introduced me to the woman who healed me, Mylle d’Jorasco. I explained to her that I was an Aasimar, as that was the first question out of her mouth, just after the hug. And then I surprised them all again. While they all knew I had only a handful of coins on me, they didn’t realize I had a lot more wealth hidden, as I pulled several gemstones from…well that’s a secret. But I had enough to pay Mylle for saving my life, sight unseen. But she made an observation, and she was right, there was another person I needed to thank.

I ducked and entered the large hall of ‘The Patternwelded Blade.’. I knew I was underground somewhere, but the large open space was a surprise. Well lit, it felt bigger than the caverns underneath Lathander. It was nothing like the grim gray of the Duergar, nor the haphazard collection of bits of sea junk, like the drow there had scavenged for their casino. But what made it comfortable was the smell. I could smell the fermented grains and sharp tang of hops in the air. I shook my head and wondered, how on I never managed to go to any of the dwarfholds in Toril. I liked the beers, the ales and whiskey more than the wines and cordials of the elves. And here, I was in the heart of someone’s art and love. It was the closest thing that felt like the bars I once frequented in Sigil.

As I entered with Vernan and Goss flitting on his wings behind me, I saw the puzzlement of the regulars there, at the intruder to their retreat. I looked around, and I saw a dwarven woman approach with an angry face and a frying pan in hand.

“You there! This is a Mror establishment only! And no pets! How did you get past…the…no…it’s you!”

My hands were clutched together in front of me as I spoke smiling, “You must be Igneve.”

She looked at me in wonder her mouth still open as I continued. “I’m here to thank you for getting me to the healer, and I seem to owe you for a table.”

Igneve blinked a moment, and chuckled, “Now, we’ve lost many things, but I don’t recall losing a table in a more spectacular way. In fact, I don’t want it repaired.” And she pointed behind me.

I turned to look, and I started to laugh. There mounted on the wall, was a round table top. On it I could see the impression of a lightly armored torso, and marks of blood around it.

“See, ever since you spoke at the Circle, I had people coming in to gawk. Made sense to mount it like a trophy. Business has picked up once the guards left, so I can’t say fixing it really helps me much.”

I walked over to the round, and let my fingers run over the surface…over the dried blood that covered it. My throat tightened, as I knew that the blood wasn’t mine. I closed my eyes and whispered to myself, “Rest well Eridan.” I then turned around to look at Igneve again, “Well, I guess that is one way to say I was here. Well if I can’t pay to fix it, how about a drink? Something strong, but won’t kill a non-Mror?”

“That I can do! Give me a moment!”

“No problem,” I said. “Vernan needs to show me where I fell from.”

“It’ll be waiting when you come back down; you might have to tell us a tale or two.”

I nodded, and Vernan led me up the spiral ramp. It wasn’t a steep grade, but it did take a while to reach the top. And there as I expected was an opening, framed in stone. Sighing, I started to pull on a light strand whispering to myself. Vernan watched me, and eventually I opened my eyes and looked at the opening.

It was almost gone; the spider like cracks of a planar breach, had almost faded away. There weren’t any signs of twisting or decay, and most importantly to me, there was no knot or anchor.

There was nothing there.

I hung my head and pounded my fist on the wall. “It’s not just closed. Its moved. Gone.”

Vernan looked at me critically. “So, no one else can use it?”

“It’s not even a one-way portal, there isn’t anything to use. The other end could be fixed, but this end? It wasn’t. I passed through, broke the planar surface and fell. And then it must have moved elsewhere. "

"So, you can’t go home?”

I shook my head, “Toril wasn’t home. And not to say I wanted to go back to a den of pirates and slavers. So perhaps not being able to go back isn’t a bad thing. Still,” and I touched the stone frame of the window. “It would have been nice to have a choice. And there are…things left undone and unsaid. But, I swear the next time I get dumped on another plane, the fall is going to kill me.” And I turned and started to walk back down to the bar below.

“Well,” Vernan said. “I’m sure things will work out for you. At least that’s what my gut is telling me. You have a place to stay?”

“I nodded,” Paron gave me the name of a…Ghallanda inn, the ‘Gold Dragon’? Another House I understand, so much to learn. Anyway, he said he would get me a room there, and to expect a package in the morning.”

Vernan nodded, “Well, at least you aren’t broke. What are you planning to do?”

I grimaced, “I might stay here a bit, but I keep hearing about Sharn. I don’t know much, but Sharn seems to have a lot going for it.”

Vernan nodded, “Well, I don’t know how it compares to Sigil or Waterdunk—”

“—Waterdeep.”

“Whatever. But you could do worse than to visit. But it’s across the continent, so you might need some coin to get there.”

I nodded, “I guess a job of some sort is in order. But I’m not a miner, and I don’t know if fighting on the lines of a battle is…what I should do.”

Vernan gave me an odd smile. “I bet something will come up. Gold Dragon inn eh? Well I wish you well Myrai. Good luck!”

We had arrived back down at the bar and Igneve waved me over. Already a small throng had gathered to meet the strange newcomer, who’s silhouette decorated a table top on the wall. “Can’t stay for a drink? It’s the least I can do to thank you” I said.

“You’re welcome, but I can’t. I have a report to finish, and I have to meet…a friend for tea.” Vernan smiled, and pulled up the lapels of his duster, and left me to my new found bar flies here in Krona Peak.

--Well, I guess this is a good a start as any.

I looked at the Tressym and shaking my head I scratched him behind the ears.

New world, new challenges. I guess this does make me a planewalker now.

--Yeah, just ease up on the drinking tonight.

Not on your life. I earned this!

--Right..sure…we’ll see about that tomorrow.


Session Notes:
In many ways this was an interlude; a session zero or 0.1 for getting Myrai established. But her's was a bit more complicated than the other characters, who were all generated and natives to Eberron.
 
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Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Heh heh heh - "Waterdunk."

I'm looking forward to meeting the other PCs...and finding out the meaning of "The Thorns of Winter."

Johnathan

Got the first ones nearly ready. Proofreading is the BBG of any writing.

I have been running the personalities by some of the players and getting feedback from most of them. But I intend for everyone to have their intro spotlight over the next two posts, which covers...most things.

And as to the title? Soon...soon...
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise


Missives along the Rail - 11/20/2020​



The sudden light hitting my closed eyes were more than my feeble aching mind could handle. I squirmed and pulled the sheets back over my throbbing head.

--Hey look. I’m bored. Get up.

Leave me alone. I hurt…a lot.

--Well you did earn it.

Please…no…I was wrong.

--Really? I mean I understood why you sang at the top of your lungs…

…The tune was catchy.

--Right. And the dancing on the bar?

Ah…well…felt right?

--Sure, but offering to make another broken table?

I did what?!? Did I?

--Heh, sorry no…I made that up. But you did need some help getting here. Igneve thought you were funny.


I reached out a hand and pulled on a pair of strands. Without so much trying to get up, a ghostly hand flew over and pulled a pitcher over to me. Looking inside and seeing it empty, I just pulled on another light strand, and it began to fill with water, which I started to quickly drink. After filling my belly, I used the hand to replace the pitcher, and turned over, flopping on my back.

I lay on my back and exhaled in a huff. The sun streamed into the grey room, carved into the side of the mountain. Most things here were stone or rock, but the bed had thick feather mattresses and soft pillows. The one stuffed chair sat next to a small fireplace, while a bench holding my scattered things were at the base of the bed. So, while the room and furnishing were functional, the trimmings were bordering on decadent. The cushions alone made you feel like you were asleep on the clouds, and the warm colors of the tapestries on the wall, were a perfect contrast to the grey granite that the room was carved from.

I lay there nursing my headache when I heard a knock at the door. I sat up too fast and clutched my hands to my pounding head. Standing up, I gathered the sheets around me, and walked over to the door, and opened it. There standing outside was a young halfling who I remembered meeting last night. However, his name escaped me as he spoke.

“Two things for you ma’am.” And he handed me a small package and a letter. He then made as if tipping a hat, and then moved on down the hall, before I could even respond.

“Thank you!” I finally stammered and shut the door, walking over to the chair by the fireplace and sat down. I was about to look at the packages when I thought a moment.

“Ma’am? Ma’am? I’m not old enough to be a ma’am,” I said aloud.

--You sure? Might be a couple of streaks of silver in that gold mop of hair.

I pulled out from behind me a small pillow on the chair. I then handed it to my still floating hand and proceeded to chase Gossamer with it, beating walls, and furniture along the way. After a while I stopped and looked at the small package, tied shut with twine. Pulling on a strand, I used it to unwind the twine and unfolded the paper wrapping.

Inside was a flat box in the shape of a pentagon, with a small note attached to it. Both were set on a leather-bound book.
‘You might need this, as you aren’t from here. At least you are from somewhere!

‘Paron d’Sivis’

I pried open the box, and saw inside a sketch of my own face, and a description reading:

‘Myrai

‘Traveler from the planar metropolis of Sigil.’

Notable features: Female, Aasimar. Metallic golden hair, Mirrored silver eyes.’

‘NB. Any questions about this document should be made at a Sivis message station, code 45462B.’



Putting the pentagon down, I looked at the title of the book ‘A Guide to Travelling the Five Nations.’ I opened it and thumbed through the pages and I nodded, mouthing the words, “Thanks Paron.”

Setting it aside, I then looked at the letter, which only had the words, ‘Myrai, Gold Dragon Inn,’ on the outside. I shrugged and tore it open. Inside was a piece of parchment that read:

To Myrai,

Greetings! I represent the honorable Taryn d’Kundarak. Taryn is interested in retaining your services for a mission for a partner of House Kundarak. The mission’s objective is simple; return the control of a gold mine back to its original clan owner.

While your skills are apparent, you may not be aware of the alarm you have given the Iron Door and other Hearthwardens. Working with Taryn on a House matter may prove advantageous to you, as showing hard work, commitment and honesty will go a long way in securing the Hearthwardens favor.

Of course, Taryn would love to discuss this in person. Please take the enclosed voucher to the House Orien ticket office at the Lightning Rail before Third Bell. He will fill you in on what is involved, and you can discuss arrangements and payments in exchange for your services.

Yours,

Melisandre d’Medani

Research and Staffing

Inside was a sheet of thick paper with my name on it, and a embossed image of a Unicorn. I had picked up quickly that ‘d’ ‘in front of a name referred to a House. I knew Sivis involved documents and messages, Jorasco healed me, and Kundarak involved money and that Ghallanda ran inns. I heard the name of Orien at the inquiry but knew nothing else, but now here was a new House, Medani.

I shook my head and set the letter down on my lap, and muttered aloud, “This is too much, too fast.” But thinking again, I remembered where I was, and I smiled and said aloud to myself.

“A new world, and I am the only Sensate here. Why not?”

--So…we doing something?

Yep, looks like I have an offer to do…some type of work. You wanted to get out…so lets go!

--Great. Fine. Better late than never.


I stood up and dropped the sheet and moved to my clothes and started getting dressed.

One thing Goss?

--What’s that?

Any idea what a ‘Lightning Rail’ is?’





I now understood when I stood in Urkiel’s office, on why it appeared that in the giant furrow that cleaved the city in two, why there was such a wide avenue at the bottom. From the distance, it just looked like a broad causeway. But now as I walked at the bottom, and alongside the center trench it made sense when I saw it.

It was huge; larger than any wagon or coach I had ever seen. Actually, it could probably contain many wagons inside of the carriages that floated above the stones seated in the bottom of the trench. But if the size of the monstrous vehicle wasn’t enough, the front section was amazing. It was moving slowly backwards to connect to a long series of other carriages. A device of metal and wood, and around it a ring of pure elemental energy. It encircled the front carriage in a pulsing arc of white light, that caused the hairs on my body to stand on end as it crackled and shifted like lightning in the sky. I could feel the tremendous energy with in it, and I stood there slack jawed in wonder. The effort and skill needed to bind such energy. To hold it all aloft from the ground, and to have more power left over to propel it down the path of stones.

It was breath taking. I stood there on the platform watching them load things in the rear most carriages, ingots of metals, crates, and kegs. All sorts of things. Far more than any simple wagon could carry as part of its cargo. In front of those I saw Mror and other people starting to crowd onto one of the carriages, which to me looked to be full of benches, shoulder to shoulder. There were other carriages as well, of increasing quality the closer one got to the front.

I also noted I was, once again causing a stir. But it wasn’t really me; it was Gossamer. As he flew alongside of me, he was drawing stares and whispers. I could only conclude that Tressym were unheard of here. But when they saw that Goss was flying next to me, it gave them pause, like they were afraid to approach me or talk to me.

This was the opposite of how it was on Toril; Aasimar were known and sought after. The number of blessing I was asked for in Waterdeep was proof of that. Here, I was of a kind so rare that…they did nothing. That I was funny looking was enough; the why was unimportant. But I couldn’t say it wasn’t nice. Being asked to ‘bless this’ just because of your parentage, not because they had some faith in you felt…better. I wondered how Tieflings or Genasi would be treated, or even if they existed here. And what other peoples have I not seen?

I put it out of my mind for the moment, as I approached a large building next to the Lightning Rail, with a green sign depicting a unicorn, with a scroll like banner below the picture that said ‘House Orien.’ On the side of the building was a window with several cutouts, and I approached it, a little uncertain. There behind the glass was a middle-aged man, reading through some papers. As I approached it, he spoke.

“Yes, there is some room; what’s your final destination?”

“I…sorry, I have this voucher?” I said and I pushed the paper through the cutout to the man. He turned with disinterest to glance at it, but his expression quickly changed.

“Oh! I apologize! You…” and his excitement and earnest stopped a moment as he looked straight at me for the first time.

“…You were saying?”

“What…yes. I apologize again; I’m being quite rude. But this is the wrong window; First Class is handled at the red double doors to the left. Can I get you a porter for your things?”

The change of tone was remarkable, and I was taken a back for a moment. “Uh…no, I will manage thank you.” And I turned and walked down the length of the building.

Goss, what is ‘first class?’

--No clue, but I certainly noticed he pulled himself together after seeing that voucher. Sounds important.


I came to the doors that the clerk had mentioned and pulled on the handles and stepped inside. On the floor was a large mosaic of a white Unicorn, rampant on a field of green. There were divans and chairs with fine stuffed leather with small end tables. Several dwarves, humans and a half-elf were sitting each with a mug or glass in hand, while the room had a number of human sized metal statues in green tailed coats positioned nearby at attention. On one end of the room, was a bar with bottles and glasses while at the other was a desk, where a red headed young woman sat, flipping through some cards in front of her. I stepped over to her and cleared my throat to get her attention. She turned and looked at me with emerald eyes, and unlike the other clerk she didn’t falter in her words.

“Yes? Can I help you?” she said, her voice and tone well practiced and professional.

“Hi, I have a voucher for the Lightning Rail tonight?” I said, perhaps a bit tentatively, and handed her the slip of paper. She took it, without hesitation or any surprise with a simple nod.

“Ah yes, you are expected Myrai,” she said sweetly, surprising me with the use of my own name. “My name is Vanna. Your steward will come for you when it is time to board. I don’t see…do you have any luggage?”

“Uh…no, came as is.” I said feeling awkward. But my being ill at ease didn’t bother her at all. In fact, I noted she started to try to make me feel at ease.

“I understand. I will ensure that an armor stand is available for you in your stateroom, and we find something comfy for your…I’m sorry, what exactly is that?” and Vanna pointed at my familiar.

“Gossamer, he’s a Tressym, and I am guessing you have never seen one?”

The red head woman shook her head and leaned forward with interest, “No…I have never seen anything like it…can I…?” and she reached out to touch him. Gossamer alighted on the desk and allowed himself to be touched, enjoying the attention.

--She has a nice touch, smells nice, doesn’t have a pet of her own.

I smiled, “He likes how you smell,” I said, and I sat on the desk’s edge.

Vanna looked at me in surprise, but she turned those tables around quickly. “So, he’s a familiar?”

I nodded, “Yes…you know of them?”

“Of course, we have many wizards that use our services; but I had never seen a…Tressym right? He is so cute! Anyway, can we offer you something to tide you over till dinner?” she said still stroking Gossamer’s fur.

“Ah…yes uh…a liquor of some type…I don’t know what you have.”

“I recommend the Mror Rye with some water,” she said still stroking Goss’ fur much to his delight. “It won’t kill you that way. Nails! A watered Mror Rye for Myrai please!”

I was puzzled a second, but I watched that one of the statues with a green tailed coat moved forward from the wall and nodded and walked to the bar. I watched ‘Nails’ intently as this was something new. The ‘statue’ moved with deliberate grace. I had seen a number of golems in Sigil, as well as Modrons; they all moved stiffly and had a deliberate precision in their movement that I would have described as plodding. ‘Nails’ was anything but plodding; their movements smooth and sure, and he quickly poured water and a honey colored liquor into a glass. It then placed it on a tray and with poise, delivered it to me with a kind of flourish, bending at the waist. I was about to reach and take it, when ‘Nails’ did something unexpected.

“Your Mror Rye with water, Lady Myrai,” it said in a deep metallic voice that caused me to jump. After a moment I reached forward and took the glass and I looked at the ‘statue’ closely. Its mechanical eyes watched me, much as any person did, but its face had elements of stone, metal and wood through out it. Each hand had two fingers and a thumb, while each foot ended in a pair of toes. Its head had an articulated jaw, which did move when it spoke and there was a strange rune on its forehead.

I reached and took the glass, and said awkwardly, “Than…thank you, Nails?...correct?”

Nail’s face was inscrutable as it answered, “Yes, milady. I will be your porter for your trip. We will be able to board soon. If you need something just call.”

I nodded, and I must have had a dumbstruck look on my face as it cocked its head and returned to its position on the edge of the room and once again stood, silently and unmoving. And like that, he appeared to be another fixture in the room. It seemed surreal for some reason I couldn’t articulate to myself.

“Is there a problem?” the woman asked me as she continued working her nails through Gossamer’s coat. “If you would prefer a different Warforged, I can make arrangements.”

“A…Warforged? Er…no. No not at all…It’s just I have never. Pay me no mind,” and I took a sip of the rye, feeling the burn at the back of my throat followed by the warmth in my stomach.

“As you like,” Vanna said and rang a small bell on her desk. From a door behind her another Warforged came up to her, and she whispered into where a person’s ear would be but was only a small hole on the side of its metal head.

“Come on Gossamer, I’m going to sit down,” I said and motioned to my familiar.

--Come on…a little longer…her nails feel SO GOOD. You should grow nails like this.

“Alright you little traitor,” I said shaking my head, and took off my pack and set it on the floor as I plopped myself on a divan. Thinking for a moment, I pulled out the Apocrypha and quietly worked a ritual so I could see dweomers around me. Once I pulled some small dark and light strands together, I then looked around the room and was surprised on what I saw.

The first thing was the mosaic on the ground had a strong locus of energy that's aura told me it was conjuration. The lanterns in the room, had small flares of evocation enchantments. Finally, several of the others in the room had various items on them or each with different auras. All of this didn’t surprise me. But what did was the Warforged had nothing magical about them. They appeared as non-magical as much as the windows or the divans.

No…not the furniture; they were as non-magical as the guests, or as non-magical as I. Gossamer doesn’t have an aura either, but these Warforged weren’t normal constructs. I found myself staring at Nails in confusion. It was not a flesh and blood creature, but it had all the signs of being alive. Was it? And Nails wasn’t unique, there were a number in this room. But if they were built or forged like armor, who did it? How did they do it?

I was sipping on my rye mulling it over unsure on what my Lord Kelemvor would think about this. Did they die? Did they have souls to pass beyond? Did death have any meaning for them?





The halfling stood there at the week-old grave, her head bowed and tears flowing freely. Her tired face was contorted into a mixture of hatred and sorrow as she looked at the grave she made for her friend. She spoke aloud, trying to ease the pain that she felt in her soul.

“This isn’t right. This isn’t fair,” the halfling said in a lilting drawl, choking on the words. “Who would want to… and I’m sorry I wasn’t here. Perhaps if I were, I could have stopped them from…Well I guess wishin won’t solve anything. Goodbye Rosa; I learned a lot from you, and I hope that I can make you proud. May the Warden’s spirits of the past, guide you in the beyond.”

With that, the halfling walked back down the path towards the home she shared with Rosa, on the far outskirts of Havenglen. She remembered coming here years ago, tired of the blood spilled by Aundarian troops trying to reclaim the Eldeen back for the queen. It was brutal, with long days and longer nights of fighting. The families and clans of the Eldeen gave no quarter to the savage soldiers that came to pull the Reaches back into the fold. And for months it was the same; Aurala’s armies would push during the day, taking towns and villages. But at night, the shifters would come and hound the Aundair’s troops throughout the night, letting them have no respite, giving as good as the solders gave.

She met Rosa on the Day of Mourning; when as word of that terrible event spread, the bleeding on both sides stopped. And she helped her heal the wounded and treat the sick. The folks loved Rosa, one of the few Jorasco’s that didn’t abandon the villages. She was ever practical and pointed out the medicines needed by all were here. There was no reason to leave. And so, she stayed, cultivating the herbs, and sending them off, and treating all those she could.

It was hard to imagine that someone would kill her for that kindness.

The halfling finally arrived at the hillside, where a red door was set. Above it, a small flag embroidered with the house crest of the griffon, fluttered in the breeze. She looked at it sadly and opened the door. Stepping inside on the brick lined floor, she saw a number of letters and missives had been delivered and shoved through the slot on the door. Sighing, she picked them up and sorted through them. Most were from the enclave in Varna; House business she supposed, and not her own. But as she sorted through them, one stood out as different, with a return stamp of the Mror Holds. It wasn’t from the House, and she never recalled Rosa ever discussing anything about the Mror. As she looked at it, she was surprised to see it wasn’t addressed to Rosa; at least not precisely.

‘To Rosa d’Jorasco’s Friend.’​

Puzzled, she tore open the letter and started to read. As she did her hands began to shake.

To Rosa d’Jorasco’s friend Rys,

Greetings! I represent the honorable Taryn d’Kundarak. Taryn is interested in retaining your services for a mission for a partner of House Kundarak. The mission’s objective is simple; return the control of a gold mine back to its original clan owner.

While I feel that the skills that you possess is vital to the mission, I admit that there are other forces at work here. Forces that placed a blade in Rosa’s back. It may be an opportune time to take a journey, as you are very much at risk. These forces if allowed would delay the use of your services for us, and yourself. Perhaps permanently.

You are invited to discuss terms with Taryn and myself in person. We have arranged First Class transport, and a small stipend for your valuable time as well. Simply present the enclosed voucher at the House Orien Caravan station in Havenglen, and their staff will guide you to your final destination.

Yours,

Melisandre d’Medani

Research and Staffing

“This isn’t possible…” Rys said aloud. She had only buried her friend seven days ago. And she hadn’t even been into town to tell anyone about her murder. How could anyone know about it in Mror? How in fact did anyone in Mror even know about herself? Granted, Rys had been hiding for a long time; long before she met Rosa. She looked at the mirror in the hall, and she saw the long tussled red hair and the green eyes, now lined in eyes from tears in her reflection.

This Melisandre…she knows something. Worse, she knows me; the real me. I need to know what’s going on. Why am I at risk? What does she know?

Nodding to herself, she walked over to a small desk, and opened it. She pulled open a drawer and found Rosa’s identification papers. Opening it she looked at the picture within at the long brown haired halfling with the brown eyes. Taking it, into her hands she looked into the mirror. Nodding she knew what she needed to do.

The halfling stepped outside and ran her hands through her now short chestnut brown hair. Nodding approvingly, she tightened her belt, where her curved sword hung, and then pocketed the identification papers. She then left the small enclave, and with a key locked the door behind her.

Well, what are the chances someone is going to be looking for someone already dead? I hope I can wear your face with justice Rosa.

And with that, she concentrated a moment and then began to run, and then lope as she pulled on natures power and became a graceful red elk. With a huff, her hooves pounded at the earth as she ran towards the town, nearly ten leagues distant.

As she galloped down the trail towards Hearthglen, she wondered where the Orien trail would take her, and how many secrets were already laid bare.




I sat there enjoying the Rye, when finally, a whistle blew. Turning I saw that Nails quickly approached me, saying, “That is the signal for First Class to board. If you would please follow me.” And he motioned with his steely hand toward the door. I rose from my seat, and I proceeded through it. Gossamer, for once, quickly followed without needing a word, and we were escorted towards an ornate carriage near the front. Following Nails, they quickly opened the door to the carriage, and stepped up a few steps, and then turned, held open the door, and offered me a metal hand to ease climbing inside.

I was walking on one side of the carriage and was already amazed at the craftsmanship and care used in its creation. Everything was paneled in warm auburn wood, with curtains and sashes in shades of green. The fixtures holding everbright lanterns were a shiny gold, as were the knobs, and other fittings. The floor was like a soft rug that stretched the length and the width of the car, leaving no visible hard surface of any kind visible.

Nails was ahead of me, and stopped by a door, and with a practiced flair opened it. Inside was a private cabin, with a large bed, a leather chair, small table and a stand to hold armor and weapons. The paneling here was even more ornate, with the wood wrapping around in smooth curves along the ceiling. I took off my pack, and set it down on the bed, as I looked admiring the quality of the materials and how luxurious it felt.

“Do you require assistance with your armor, Myrai?” Nails said expectantly, standing in the doorway.

“I…sure,” I said as I started to unbuckle my belts holding my pouches and my rapier while Nails, closed the door to my private cabin. He took the rapier and placed it upon the stand, and after I placed my belt and pouches on the the bed, they then quickly and dexterously started to unbuckle the breastplate I wore.

“Nails,” I said with a little awkwardness in my voice, “Please forgive me if this sounds strange or rude. But I have never heard of or met a Warforged. Where do you come from?”

Nails stopped a second to look at me, “This is not a jest?”

“No. I am from…a place very far from here. And you are the first one I have ever met.”

Nails shrugged and continued with the buckles. “We were created for the Last War by House Cannith. I personally was sold to Cyre and was a part of an infantry battalion. We were originally deployed to Karnnath and were engaged in combat when the hostilities ended. Since then, I managed to secure this job with House Orien.”

“Created for the war…created to fight. To kill?” I asked trying to think thought the implications.

“It happened; we didn’t question our owners. And now, we have no owners. It has been a difficult transition from the certainty of war, to…everything else,” Nails said, freeing the last buckle and they lifted the armor away from me, and then placed it on the stand.

“How many Warforged are there?”

“I do not know. Many thousands I am sure,” he said before his tone shifted the topic. “Dinner will be in several hours. Formal attire is required.”

“Formal? I do not —”

“—One of your hosts, has made arrangements for something suitable to wear. You will find it hanging in the side closet there.” As they spoke, I heard a loud whistling, and felt a lurch as the massive vehicle started to move, pulling the weight of carriages down the line. I looked out the window and saw the buildings of Krona Peak slide away slowly, as the Rail took me on my journey.

“I will return several hours from now. If you need me pull on the bell rope and I will come, Lady Myrai—”

“—Just Myrai please.” I said, and Nails nodded and withdrew, closing the door behind them.

I stood there staring at the door. A race of living construct-like beings? All slaves to another nations’ war. Like many in Sigil, I had talked to several modrons, and like many regretted it. But it was easy to make that mistake. Modrons were single minded and had more in common with a fancy water clock than a person. Yet while being alive, they had nothing in common with others in Sigil. And Sigil had slaves of a sort; indentured servants paying of a crime, a common pushiment where debts were due, as opposed to real crime. But you weren’t born…or made into it, and it always had an end. But indentured or not, they were still people.

And so did this warforged. Perhaps the only reason it felt strange was they looked very much not alive, and more like a golem or statue. Yet, the way that Nails acted made them as real as any other servant that served in King Melandrach’s realm, or in House Ustina, Arnara’s home. And how normal it was, for someone fighting war as all they knew, now finding their way as something else. Although it made me wonder, if war was indeed the only thing they ever knew.





Sage Redoubt walked through the dimly lit passage on their patrol. As they passed by doors to chambers holding incalculable wealth Sage’s only would be concerned if the door was unsecured. As a guard in the vaults beneath Korunda Gate, it was Sage’s job to walk these halls, and ensure all the vaults remained closed. Only a Kundarak with a mark and a key were allowed to open them and remove their contents. But in the six years of patrolling the dozen or so floors of the vault, he had never seen one opened, and in six years, Sage had never seen a breech in a door.

In fact, Sage almost never saw anyone in the Cyre vaults themselves. While for many of the Five nations, Cyre was a ghost: a simple darkened shadow on the map. Here the last bones of its wealth lay. Wealth that could not be claimed by anyone, not even the scattered number of ir’Wynarns that were of blood to Queen Dannel. For this was the last wealth of a nation; not a person, and the Treaty of Thronehold excluded any closure to Cyre, for it was as Queen Aurelia said, ‘Cyre is no more,’

So as a nation it was dead, the last of its wealth lay in Kundarak’s vaults, safe from everyone. The Treaty didn’t decide anything really about Cyre, other than the obvious. But it locked away the wealth from those Cyre owed, and from some that sorely could have used it. Orien could not ask for its wealth to repair lines around Metrol and the Mournland. Denieth could not ask to be paid for the Valenar or Darguun mercenaries. Widows could not claim a stipend for dead husbands on the battlefield, nor paid Jorasco to heal wounded sons. Issues that were ignored in the rush to peace, and only after all was written and done, was the error recognized.

Without someone to administer Cyre’s gold and to sort out who should be paid first, it would be locked away from all. Granted this was not the main hold of Cyre wealth; this was a reserve. But the main vault was in Metrol, far behind the mists of the Mournland, was even less accessible than the Cyre Reserve in Korunda Gate. But to Kundarak, it was an honor to hold it in trust, till a day came that the Four Nations recognized a claim, and that day was a day far in the future.

When Sage first came to the Cyre vault, he was one of a pair purchased for that function. It was always a puzzle to Sage on how that happened; his skills were far more suited for anything but guard duty. Horsemanship and combat magic were of little use here beneath the mountains, but sudden reallocations did happen. His peer was only around for about a month before he was informed, he would be the only guard on duty for the foreseeable future. As to why, Sage was told that the other Warforged had ‘an accident’ and was told nothing more.

That was over five years ago, and little had changed Sage noted, as he returned to the barracks. The barracks was a large room, near the vault entrance where guards, clerks and trusted laborers would move gold from one vault to another. But little of that happened in reserved vaults; only occasional large deposits or withdrawals, and none of them happened in Sage’s time. Sage entered the barracks, which was meant to hold twenty or so Mror, was now a library of Sage’s thoughts and musings. Six years of writings were carefully organized by topic and arranged neatly on the shelves. An open doorway lead to another small chamber which contained Sage’s only opponent, and yet was Sage’s fiercest ally against boredom; a pell.

Sage stepped in front of the pell and ignited green flames down his armblade. Quickly the Warforged struck the pell, practicing movements he was trained for years ago. Sage slashed, parried, blocked imaginary thrusts. Over and over he would do this, until it was time to write on one of the various magical theorems that came to mind.

Patrol, Practice, Write. That was the sum of Sage’s activities for the last six years, broken by the conversations he would have with Fanor d’Kundarak. Fanor would tell him the goings on outside world, supply him with books, replace the pell and add a shelf if Sage had almost filled it. It was nice not to be forgotten, and the conversation allowed Sage’s mind to wander and create essays on history and conjecture if battles had only turned a different direction. Sage in fact was considering writing on the topic of the Battle of Thaliost, when he heard the dwarf call his name.

“Sage? You back in the barracks?” he heard Fanor call.

“Indeed. Do you have more blanks for me?” Sage replied as he turned and hit the pell with a blast of fire.

“Ah no…I have a pair of letters for you though.”

Sage stopped in mid-swing. “Letters?” he voiced, as the old dwarf entered the room. Fanor was one of the last dwarves that helped to build and maintain the Cyre vault. Others had moved on to other projects, and still others had been buried. But Fanor was the one who stayed behind as the one who laid the first stone. There was always one like him in every vault; someone who knew every stone, any breech, and any major moves. And while Reserve Vaults were quiet, they were the bedrock of the faith that every common person put into the safety of their money.

“Yes, and…well we should sit down a moment.” The old dwarf huffed.

“I’m fine.”

“Humor me…please sit down.”

Sage looked around and pulled a dusty chair from the side of the wall and waited for Fanor to sit across from him. The dwarf looked at Sage with fondness and then looked down as he spoke.

“Well, there isn’t any use to dwell on this; but the bad news is that you are…out of a job.”

Sage’s metal lids blinked slowly, before speaking, “I’m fired?”

“What? Oh no…no…no not fired. More…laid off.”

“I’m the only guard here though. If I am laid off, then who—?”

“—Well that’s just it. The Hearthwardens have decided that it would be cheaper to just seal the vault, rather than the House to fund services to a nation not paying bills. And right now, the other vaults are busy and fully staffed…so there isn’t a place for you here if you get my meaning?” Fanor said looking at the Warforged sympathetically.

“I see,” Sage said simply, trying to envision what he would do next; this had been his only function for six years. The idea of doing something different was both terrifying, and exhilarating. Perhaps he could discuss his theories on alternate history or discuss the failings of various military stratagems. But before he could go deeply into this line of thought, Fanor continued.

“Well when I heard about it, I was looking to find you something to do, and well…it seems that someone else had heard of you in the House.”

Sage looked at the Dwarf intently, “Knows me…who?”

“A cousin…and yes I know…we all look a like to you…but all I can say is I have a letter here from him. And of course, a reference letter from me, which you probably won’t need.” And Fanor handed Sage two envelopes. The first was clearly in Fanor’s hand, and was simply labled “To prospective employer, official Letter of Recommendation of the Warforged Sage Redoubt.” But it was the second one that had Sage’s focus as he opened it and read:

To Warforged Sage Redoubt,

Greetings! I represent the honorable Taryn d’Kundarak. Taryn is interested in retaining your services for a mission for a partner of House Kundarak. The mission’s objective is simple; return the control of a gold mine back to its original clan owner.

Your discretion and skill as a member of the Iron Gate for House Kundarak is well known. However, I know that you were originally meant to serve the Knights Arcane in Aundair before your redirection of service to the Iron Door. What you do not realize is that the story is more complicated than that. It may be an opportune time to take a journey, as you may now be at risk. A Certain party if allowed would delay the use of your services for us, and yourself. Perhaps permanently.

You are invited to discuss terms with Taryn and myself in person. We have arranged First Class transport, from Korunda Gate and a small stipend for your valuable time as well. Simply present the attached voucher nearest House Orien station and their staff will guide you to your final destination.

Yours,

Melisandre d’Medani

Research and Staffing

Sage looked at the letter a while silently. They then stood up, and moved towards a bookcase only a third full, and took two volumes off the shelf.

“Is it a good offer?” Fanor asked.

“It is a gambit, by a player who knows more about me than I do. But it is a job.”

Fanor nodded slowly trying to read the tone of the conversation, “I’m glad to hear that. Beats being sealed in the vault.” And then Fanor spread his hands out apologetically. “They joked about it; I thought it was a bit rude myself.”

Sage nodded silently and continued to look at the letter.

“So, Sage…what did you want me to have done with the rest of the books here?”

Sage looked up and then around at the hundreds of tomes that he had authored. After a long moment he spoke.”

“I have what I want. Seal the rest here. I won’t be needing them anymore.”




I sat looking through the windows smiling. I had been on carriages before, bouncing along ruts in the road in sweltering heat, with nothing more to do than read and watch the countryside slip away at a slow leisurely pace.

This was not that.

The speed I watched the Lightning Rail pass through the mountains was astonishing. It didn’t even feel like we really were moving as we never hit a rut, or a divot as the Rail floated above them all. As we travelled, I could see the flicker of light flash from beneath me at regular intervals along the ground. The countryside didn’t creep…it flowed like a river and ran as fast or faster than a horse at full gallop. And unlike many carriage rides, I didn’t want to read, I wanted to watch.

They kept mentioning it was spring in Krona Peak, but if this was spring, I was a tiefling. The mountains and valley were covered in a blanket of white, obscuring the earth. Trees were also covered in the stuff, and I could see ice hanging of branches. I had heard of winter and of snow in Waterdeep, but it was only Autumn when I left for the balmy Nethlander islands. Sigil would get deathly cold and ice would appear there on ocassion. But snow? It happened, but it was always a dirty grey with odor of brimstone in most places. It wasn’t white, and pure and beautiful as this.

I sighed, and turned to look at Gossamer. He was fast asleep on a chair, near a small stove that warmed the cabin, and kept the cold from the windows from seeping inside. I let him be and stood and made my way over to the small closet that Nails had pointed out and opened it.

It was a dress to be certain, similar in styles I had seen in Sigil. There the current trend tended to fitted sheaths down to the ankles. I saw many of them in the Civic Festhall, as the wealthy came for entertainment. This was similar, yet unlike Sigil’s which bare arms, and cut out panels along the sides were common. This one had sleeves and several cut outs around the arms, but the body line was left covered. But it was the color that stood out. I first thought it was a white with a sheen, but then I realized that the fabric itself was shimmering. Pulling it closer to my eyes, I saw it was changing color, creating a layer above the cloth. It reminded of some of the glamours the elves in the Misty Wood used during their dances. But this was more extensive, throughout all the fabric. And if this wasn’t enough, there was a pair of sandals that matched the color and shared the same glimmer of color.

“Someone wants me to be dressed for an occasion,” I said to myself. “All for a job involving a mine…a gold mine?”

I walked over to the bed and from the side of my pouch I pulled out a slim wooden wand, inlaid with silver and hanging on the very end was a small bell. I caressed the wood and looked at it with fond memories. It was a small creation of mine, something that I enchanted to simply to make more time for myself and Arnara when we spoke and traded our native tongues. I flicked it in the air twice ringing the bell on the end, and the wand let off a blue spark. I set it down and turned.

It was odd summoning it; you couldn’t see it. It would never speak and rarely made noise. But you new it was there, present and waiting. A servant of magical force.

“Help me change into that dress in the closet,” I said. I almost felt guilty summoning it. It wasn’t real, but somehow it bothered me more that a very real Nails was a servant. I supposed I could have asked him…it…them to help me dress and prepare. But perhaps it was I just wasn’t comfortable with the idea of a…person at my beck and call. Arnara was different; we would help each other; it was mutual and one with a friendship at the root of it all. In Sigil, the rich had servants, and that was expected. Expected to for your employer to pay you enough that a garnish was never needed. And in return the servants to never turn their back on them. And while I was sure Orien was paying Nails, somehow, I had the suspicion that, unlike a Sigil house servant, that it wasn’t enough.

The shapeless force helped remove my garments, while I focused solely on cleaning myself. I would probably kill for a real tub of hot water, but if I were going to that, I would probably skip dinner altogether. It was strange; here I used the strands to create an object to help assist me with things; things I didn’t want to do or were inconvenient.

Wasn’t Nails then the next logical step. I’ve been in a war; death and life were on the line. What if the Sinkers had Warforged. What if the Hardheads did? They would have used them without a thought. But unlike golems or the shapeless force I created Warforged were were alive. I didn’t even know if death meant the same thing to them. Kelemvor said nothing about this, them, about any construct. But I did know that life must have meaning to them. Meaning enough to find work as a servant; to have a purpose.

As the force slipped the dress over my head, I wondered if Nails and what he was doing was the best situation. What was the worst?




The rain was pouring down, on the cold grey day in Aruldusk. The light was dimming as night was starting to creep across the sky as the sun was concealed by the clouds. The Lightning Rail to Sharn had just left, as the populace was hunkering down to wait out the stormy weather. The rain itself was a good omen for spring, but most hoped that the clouds would break so that planting could begin. Any inn you passed you could hear the same story from the crowd. The mood was merry despite the rain, as the fires were warm, and ale was flowing.

But not for everyone.

Wrapped in a leather cloak, a figure slowly moved through the outskirts of town. Here the shifters had created a city of their own, of tents, and lean-tos. Normally a bonfire would be in the middle, warming up the clannish nomads, but today a clustered set of awnings were set up, and many small cooking fires took the place of tradition. Food and song were in the air here too, as many looked forward to the trek to the Thornwood to hunt.

But the drenched figure, tread his way through the camp. They didn’t look at the tents or the fire, much less the inns they passed beforehand. Even the path they took was one of simple purpose, a means to an end.

The shifters saw the figure and were wary. It wasn’t that it was a stranger, but nor were they a friend. When they first came to the camp, it was a surprise to the elders, who didn’t know what to make of them or their request.

“I wish to stay here at the edge of your tents. I will not be a cause for trouble. I want nothing and need nothing more than a spot.”

“You are not of our people? Why should we let you?” the elders said.

“Because. I need…time.”

The elders shrugged; they had no prejudice against Warforged. And this one was dressed in the livery of a Orien Courier. Many Shifters had done similar work, carrying messages across the field; sometimes to friends and sometimes to foes. Sometimes they were caught sneaking around places they shouldn’t. But many had seen things that haunted them, and even this was evident in the Warforged cold eyes.

And this one had seen far too much.

So, they let them stay at the edge of the camp. They provided a small tent to keep the rain away and left him alone. They let it stay to sort out things out, and in return the Warforged left them alone.

The Warforged sat down, in the lone lean-to, as far from the city as one could get. The deluge had found a moment to pause, and the Warforged opened a panel in their chest and took out a book, and then pulled out from a pouch a driftglobe. They set it in the air, and they started to read the complex sigils within. It could hear the songs of the shifters nearby, and it did find them…comforting. But he didn’t want to approach or get close. Getting close was bad. Dangerous.

As they read, it heard a voice in the background and then footsteps in the mud approaching. They were slow, and uncertain…no hesitant…like someone approaching a wild animal, unsure if it would strike.

The Warforged placed the book back in their chest, and closed it quietly, but didn’t move. Their eyes looked to the right where the sound behind them was coming, and waited as they concentrated on their finger, letting it grow cold. Then it heard a voice followed by a peal of thunder, and the rain starting again.

“B-b-bookshelf?”

The Warforged sprang up and pointed its finger at the heart of a young human in Orien livery, in their late teens.

“I don’t work for him anym—”the Warforged thundered. And while it could barely hear anything in the downpour, it could smell the result of the kid’s bladder emptying on the mud.

“I—I—I just have a delivery for you…Captain.” The kid gulped and held out a letter, his hands shaking. “Please…don’t…kill me.”

“How did you…no…how did the House find me?”

“I—I—was given a letter that said you would…be here.”

“In the city?”

“N-n-o…in this camp.”

Bookshelf said nothing, but let the magic from his finger fade, and he gently took the letter from the boy. He tore it open and read the words within:

To Captain Bookshelf,

Greetings! I represent the honorable Taryn d’Kundarak. Taryn is interested in retaining your services for a mission for a partner of House Kundarak. The mission’s objective is simple; return the control of a gold mine back to its original clan owner.

Your discretion and skill as a House Orien Courier I feel to be a perfect fit for the mission at hand. And while House Orien considers you to be damaged goods, I know potential. However, I do understand that a powerful party wishes to hold you accountable for some good people dying at another’s behest. It may be an opportune time to take a journey, as you may now be at risk. This party if allowed would delay the use of your services for us, and yourself. Perhaps permanently.

You are invited to discuss terms with Taryn and myself in person. We have arranged First Class transport, and a small stipend for your valuable time as well. Simply present the attached voucher to any House Orien Caravan or Lightning Rail station, and their staff will guide you to your final destination. An arrangement has been made with the House, and they will not stand in the way.

Yours,

Mellisandre d’Medani

Research and Staffing

Bookshelf looked at the letter silently for a long moment before looking up.

“Is this true? The House will let me…travel?”

The kid nodded and sputtered, “They just asked…for you to use a different name when you…travel.” The kid gulped as Bookshelf looked at the letter again.

“And you were told exactly where I was?”

The kid nodded. “Basically…And the station master said to tell you the offer of transport…is good.

Bookshelf nodded. “Orien doesn’t lie on matters like this. But others do. So, if I encounter problems—”

“—He knows—”

Bookshelf raised his hand and pointed at the kid hissing, “--Don’t interrupt. Because if there are, every Rail and every station will burn. Every. Last. One.”

Notes:
Three letters delivered...and some more to go.

So as I convert adventure to story I wanted to convey exactly what Myrai's experience about the lightning rail would be like. This is one of the signature items, and it just wouldn't do to say "Myrai caught the 3rd bell train." And of course I found a rabbit hole deeper than the one about tailoring that I covered in the "Souls of Legend"

When I sat down to write it, and I found maps of the trains, and the stations I needed to find something to visualize it, so I started looking at trains from the late 1800's. And when I did, I found myself reading a bit of history on the Pullman trains. I then realized that the story of the Warforged, had a lot of parallels. It was easy to see House Orien hiring Warforged for many of the menial jobs of porters on the train, not House members and certainly not scions. And with the prejudice against the Warforged, it just clicked on how to not just portray the experience of the Lightning Rail, but an introduction to the Warforged, their plight, and a bit on how they fit into an outsiders worldview.
 
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Interesting...so, I'm guessing the "thorns of winter" are icicles, something Myrai's never seen before? Even if I'm right, I guess I'll have to be patient to see how that's a big enough thing for the whole campaign to be named after it. Some interesting new PCs...and two of them warforged! It'll be fun to see them interact; I rather like warforged. Rys is intriguing; I don't know enough about Eberron yet to know if she's a shifter or a changeling, as I was under the impression both are Medium size and "Rosa's friend" seems to be the size of a halfling. Some sort of variant, or something altogether different? I guess I'll just have to sit back and let the story unfold.

Johnathan
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Interesting...so, I'm guessing the "thorns of winter" are icicles, something Myrai's never seen before? Even if I'm right, I guess I'll have to be patient to see how that's a big enough thing for the whole campaign to be named after it. Some interesting new PCs...and two of them warforged! It'll be fun to see them interact; I rather like warforged. Rys is intriguing; I don't know enough about Eberron yet to know if she's a shifter or a changeling, as I was under the impression both are Medium size and "Rosa's friend" seems to be the size of a halfling. Some sort of variant, or something altogether different? I guess I'll just have to sit back and let the story unfold.

Johnathan

Myrai has seen ice and snow; its just VERY dirty in Sigil. I imagine it to be like if it snowed in industrial London, and all the smoke was from Coal mined in hell...yeah...don't eat yellow snow takes a whole new meaning. Clean crystal clear icicles and pure white snow? Nope. I will have to ask some patience on the title's meaning though. :)

All of the characters...or rather players are very much into the role play aspect to a fault. This does lead to some...hilarity. Its a mixed group of friends and multiple families in IRL. So the game had a different feel.

Anyway...more introductions coming soon.
 

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