Of Daggers and Dreams - Season One: Sharn
A simple, leather-bound journal
A simple journal bound in brown leather. The inside cover bears Galair’s personal magical mark. The journal is written in Draconic.
Just After Heartbreak Bridge
It’s a strange assortment of characters that I’ve taken up with in the Ashblack: A seemingly-brass warforged, a drunken dwarf, a hostile kalashatar and a half-elf with a propensity for turning into a bear. They seem to be escorted by a guide of some variety, who wears Cannith liveries and by the presence of an iron defender, I’m inclined to believe she is indeed part of that ‘marked house, at least by employment. That said, none of the others seem to be affiliated with Cannith (oddly enough, the warforged seems to have sigils associated with Cyre, of all place).
I approached the group while we were still in the relative safety of the Cogs, outside Ashblack proper. I traveled behind them for a time, preferring to travel within the aura of safety befitted to a clearly armed large group. At some point, they realized I was doing so and I had little choice but to approach. The warforged (“Brasshead”) in particular was wary, as on my approach he raised a strange machine that, by his demeanor, could be little but a weapon of some variety. The dwarf, however, a cleric of Kol Korran by the name of Oryx Shalehammer, was amenable enough to my presence that I was able to peaceably explain myself. They allowed me to travel with their party proper, a fact to be grateful for in this bleak place.
It bears noting that they knew nothing of Lucan or my Black Hands. Luckily, this means they haven’t head of Bloody Fist either.
We were barely a mile into Ashblack proper when the half-elf, Tabitha, revealing herself to be a druid, flew ahead as a raven without any word of warning or explanation. I bore it little mind but as we approached the landing of a long, narrow bridge over a deep chasm, she flew back to us. She perched on the kalashatar’s (Manekatari) shoulder for a time and somehow the two communicated (I assume that this would involve the kalashatar having developed her latent psionic tendencies). At no signal I could discern, the other prepared for combat.
An assortment of so called “monstrous” humanoids appeared both on the bridge ahead of us and behind us on the landing. They seemed to be demanding the chest that Brasshead carried and could not be dissuaded. They demanded a fight.
Combat was joined and my traveling companions proved to be far more than a match for the variety of creatures that assailed us. I, personally merely did my best to create a cloud front to assay the fire of a group of hobgoblin sharpshooters across the bridge. My companions fought with more direct means and within an eyeblink the engagement was over.
I demanded to know why we were accosted, and the kalashatar gave me the explanation that these were simply the kind of bandits common to the Ashblack. So I examined the bodies. These monsters were not common bandits. They were Daask agents, one of the sects that the droaamite hags have been organizing. If I remember Master Sovhani correctly, the Daask belong to Sora Katra. What they want with these travelers I do not know, and just as importantly, why are they lying about this. Do they know themselves the magnitude of the forces arrayed against them?
I’m writing this while the aftermath of the combat is dealt with. Tabitha and I persuaded Oryx to give some simple rites to the dead before we move on. Then, we will cast the bodies into the chasm. I hope that they can find some peace in communion with the Dragon Below. I do not know what will happen next.
Perhaps the Ashblack will tell. Perhaps I will find some of my Black Hands. In either way, I believe it will be to my benefit to stay with this most interesting group for the immediate future.
Written while camped in the Lost Library
Ill happenings come in threes. Today is further support of the adage.
Immediately after I finished writing the previous entry, we progressed past the bridge, only to be presented by a three-way fork in the path. Our guide, the Cannith woman, told us that she would progress no further and we were given a choice of paths: a thoroughfare, a smoke-charred tunnel and a dank and wet crevasse. After an irritating argument, where Tabitha sided with myself (in favor of the thoroughfare) and the Kalashatar sided with Brasshead, Oryx staying neutral. Finally, we decided in favor of the main road, leaving the guide and her Iron Defender behind.
Thus, came the first unexpected event.
A ways down the tunnel, we were accosted. A cloaked figure with a clockwork scorpion upon its shoulder stood flanked by two Deneith Blademarks (of Gold Blade rank). The figure (mostly humanoid, though this is a presumption), raised a mechanical arm and cast a spell through an orb. The power emanating through this orb was Khyber-aligned. A wave of (Khyber) energy struck Brasshead and, through the Manekatari`s mind link (ah. I forgot to note. The kalashatar woman has managed to expand her innate telepathic tendencies to be able to create an aura of “mind space” in radius around her in which consenting allies can speak freely). Through this link, the stunning force passed to all of us, though muted. We could only watch helplessly as the Blademarks took his collapsed body, along with the chest that he was transporting. Another pulse of power from the figure collapsed the tunnel behind us and we had no choice but to press forward, without Brasshead.
This was particularly alarming for manifold reasons. The first: The otherwise humanoid figure had a distinctly warforged arm. Either the arm is not truly warforged, or there is a functional Creation Forge outside of Cannith control on Khorvaire. The second: The figure was an arcanist, and was focussing his power through a Khyber dragonshard. The third: this figure, or the organization represented thereby, has considerable wealth, and enough standing to hold the contract for Gold Blade Blademarks. The fourth: This implies a third faction is part of this conflict between the Daask and the Boromar. The fifth: Brasshead, a comrade who I have now fought with and bore no ill will to, has been captured by hostile forces. I feel that it would not be the moral thing to do to leave him to their devices, though caution remains the paramount consideration. The sixth: The cargo, delivery thereof being the objective of this party that I have joined, has been taken.
Before further consideration could be taken, the second event fell upon us.
Around a corner in the passage, came the sound of advancing creatures. Tabitha pre-emptively turned into a wolf, and Oryx morphed his gauntlet into a more serviceable weapon. Around the corner came three orcs, mounted on enormous dire boars. Their leader bore a heavy fur cloak that was pinned with a Daask sigil. We attempted to negotiate passage, but the orcs, when it was divulged that we had contact with the Boromar only seemed more inclined to attack. To further complicate issues, through the mind link Oryx revealed that the orcs had originated in his homelands and were party to a blood feud between the two races. I entreated Oryx to halt his aggression for the time being. I attempted to bluff the orcs.
“If you lay hands on us, Sora Katra will hear of it!”
It worked. My recollection of the Daask was corrected and the orcs were visibly panicked at my words. They relented and their leader, whose name was revealed to be Sharku, offered to guide us to see “her”. I was unsure whether this “her” was Sora Katra herself or some other figure within the Daask hierarchy. Either of these were very, very bad things. Sharku explained that he was the leader of a small scouting party, who had been out for a long time. He sent his companions on ahead.
Sharku guided us to the third calamity.
We approached a heavy set of iron doors. Sharku turned to us and cautioned us to be very quiet. We passed into a large, circular chamber and, unfortunately, we were not quiet enough and so woke the third danger.
A red dragon, massive, young though it was launched itself from a cistern in centre of the room. A room, I might add, that contained a massive decrepit library. I acted nearly without thinking, weaving a Web of Mirrors over the dragon, immobilizing the beast. Its wings ceased function and it dropped back into the pit. We began to spread out, anticipating the dragon’s return to the room. I felt the will of the dragon pull against my web and so I bled to power out of Master Sovhani’s orb to keep the dragon pinned down longer. I finally found a good vantage point, hiding behind a table hewn from the stone of the chamber itself. Eventually, the dragon rose from the pit again, fighting against the geyser Tabitha had place on top of it. By this time, Tabitha and ‘Katari were arrayed on the walkway spiraling the chamber and Oryx and Sharku had spread to opposite sides of the pit. Smart enough not to hover any longer, the dragon set down on the edge of the pit. Peering around my shelter, I cast the Illusion of a Thousand Hands to hold the dragon in place. About this time, a trio of cave drakes and a gargoyle joined the fray. The fight slowly devolved into a pitched battle, with Tabitha joining Oryx and Sharku on the floor combatting the threat while ‘Katari and I provided support from the wings in the form of her arrows and my lesser spells, still depleted from the fight on the bridge as I was. Finally, the dragon was vanquished (after many close encounters with the Raven Queen). I was emerging from my place of cover when Oryx turned to Sharku, who had proven himself a valorous combatant in the fight, yet rode heavy on his boar, hold one arm tight to his ribs. Oryx raised a hand and instead of the healing light I expected to see, a beam of energy poured onto Sharku, killing him outright.
The library was silent as Sharku toppled to the ground. Several things happened at once. Sharku’s boar, enraged by its master’s death, charged Oryx, who against all odds seemed to be trying to calm the boar. Tabitha pounced at the two, still a wolf. ‘Katari started waving her bow around and shouting threats at Oryx. I was nearly at a loss of what to do. The only potent spells I had remaining would kill the fragile Kalashatar outright. I did the best I could, summoning a globe of light between her and Oryx, attempting to occlude her shot. At the same time I made a large cracking noise behind the boar, hoping to scare it down the passages out of the room. I was successful and the boar stampeded out.
Oryx seemed put out with me. Apparently he had designed to train it as a mount. That dwarf, I swear. Once more, Katari has backed down from threatening the rest of our lives but I worry about her. She seems distraught by Brasshead’s capture. All the same, she bears watching for further erratic behavior.