Dark Heart

Algernon's Story

Algernon recalls one of his many romantic encounters with much hilarity.

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The Last Workshop of Voran Earthmane

Like most mornings, Leonora opens her pack on the table and carefully inspects her inventory: cleaning her collections of empty vials, mixing revitalizing potions and making a list of alchemical items to pick up at the next trip to the market. She patiently cleans, counts and broods as the snores from an exhausted Algernon and the near-hibernation grunts of Ash echo in their new fortress. Legion is already dressed and alert, sitting on his new bed, almost as if he never fell asleep. He continually stares impatiently at the two still sleeping and switching between sharpening his sword and quietly planning how he’ll dismember his next encountered enemy.

Now knee deep in this weird trail of mourning haunts, aberrant dragonmark assassins, and crime syndicates all leading back to the Draconic Prophecy Leonora thinks about the same thing every morning during her routine, ‘what does this have to do with me?’.

Finally after Legion lost his patience and woke the last two up, everyone readied for the day. Each slipped on their new armor that Voran Earthmane had left as a present to each of them. As they prepped their adventuring gear, Leonora took up Voran’s journal and browsed through its pages. He had lengthy journals about his workings with Io’contra, a wise and psychic dragon, whom predicted the arrival of the adventurers, long before they had even met that fateful day of the mourning.

“So what’s it say?”, a yawning Algernon piped up, “Does it tell us why we’re always running into people who want to kill us all the time? C’mon, share with the group.”

“Well,” Leonora struggled to summarize all that she had read over, ” um, Voran was working with an ancient dragon, named Io’contra. She knew we’d be here. And she had Voran build us this headquarters.”

“Io’contra.” Legion said sternly. ” Like the mysterious woman in that past vision I had. What else does she have to do with us?”

“She refers to us as the Emissaries of Light.”

“An Emissary of Light,” Ash scratched his head in thought, “I know I’ve heard that. Where is it from?!”

“Don’t worry about it now, Ash, we should just keep moving and check where the next key leads. Maybe Voran will be there to answer questions for us.”

“And don’t forget, Leonora, that we have a staff to retrieve from him as well.” said Legion.

“Oh that’s right, but it looks like we’ll also need to keep our eye out for the other keys; Voran mentions them in his journal. Some of this we already know: Each item key leads to a different location, but always back to this room. The lantern leads to the library, that we know; one will lead to his other workshop in the mudflats; one leads his workshop in the sewers and the last one, will lead to Io’contra’s tomb.”

“So. Where do you think the chalk will lead?” Algie said as he picked up his pack and the rest followed him out of the headquarters.

“I don’t know. It’ll be pretty easy to find out.” Leonora began to draw a line on the ground and it quickly started to glow. “Be on the lookout for a whistle and a battle standard. Voran wrote that those are the other two keys.”

“All right. Let’s go everyone!” Ash growled.

The light on the ground grew until it was six feet across, but as soon as the entrance opened, a sludge-colored mud began to seep through the portal.

“Awwww. But I just got new clothes!” Algie lamented.

“Let’s hurry and get on the other side before this place is flooded with mud too.” Legion shouted.

“Good idea; let’s jump!”

The hurled through an infinite space and then they all landed with a ‘sploosh’ sound and found themselves ankle-deep in mud. They had definitely landed in the heart of Voran’s mudflat lab. The lab looked in disarray: bookshelves and tables were overturned and drowned in the mud, there was a heavy stench in the air and the mud was moving slowly and building up. The group noticed the trickling of mud was coming from a staff on the opposite side of the room. After examining it, Algie and Leonora discovered it was keeping open a rift into the elemental chaos, but just as Algie waded through the knee deep mud to try and close the rift, a series of elementals emerged from the opening.

Two angry mud elementals appeared in front of Algy, who quickly teleported away before the monsters could trap him in their sludge. Ash and Legion charged the elementals, but they fought with much caution for near the opening, the mud grew deeper and too fall into, would leave the mud monsters with an advantage over them.

Leonora and Algie quickly prepped their crowbows but were startled by the sudden manifestation of a large water elemental and two very solid rock elementals. They charged in on them fast, but Leonora quickly targeted Algie with her Thundering Crossbow and pushed back the closest elemental.

Algie quickly realized the rock elemental rumbled in pain: “Leonora, keep using that attack. I don’t think they like the thunder!”, he shouted as he too began to target them with his thunder powers. While they were busy, Ash and Legion had teamed up to develop an effective strategy: both mud and soon the water elemental too were trapped in the corner under a wave of locusts, and as they tried to escape, Legion would grab them back into the swarm with his Lightning Lure. The four elementals were quickly defeated and they turned their attention towards the next door where sounds of glass breaking and shuffling around were heard.

Before hastening their search to the next room, the group split up to secure the area and scower the flooded workshop for anything of value not ruined by the influx of mud. Algie and Leonora carefully made their way to the staff, successfully sealing the rift into the elemental chaos and removing it from the stand without falling into the waist-deep mud. Both however were very displeased by the layers of mud covering their clothes and packs. Legion looked around the books and overturned tables for any trace of the whistle or battle standard mentioned in Voran’s book, but all he saw were empty cages and ruined lab materials.

“Nothing. Nothing can be salvaged and no sign of the portal keys.” He turned towards Algie whom carried the staff, “Don’t get to comfortable with that staff, Gydd Nephret is expecting us to return it to him.”

“Ahhh, I was hoping to stash this staff back at our clubhouse; I mean it would look great in my room. I could even hang my coat on it.” Algie smirked as he twirled around the magical staff.

The three were interrupted by a somber growl from Ash who was sniffing around in the corned of the room.

“It looks like there’s a reason the last entry was two weeks ago. Voran is dead. That’s how long I figure his body’s been lying here based on the amount of decay.” He pulled back some more of the mud to reveal a badly decomposing body. It was humanoid and very large; no doubt this was their goliath friend who they never got to meet.

The silence for Voran was interrupted by more glass-breaking sounds and heavy breathing. The group readied their weapons again and crept towards the door. Ash opened the door and everyone else followed quietly, but their movements were easily detected. Before them were a large group of squatters, all of them humanoid frogs. They had severely trashed the supplies that were on the tables, but the books remained relatively untouched.

Legion jumped onto the nearest table and rallied a group of frogmen to him, using sword bursts and attacking multiple targets. Ash dropped a raging swarm of locusts in front of Legion, confusing the frogmen and making them easier targets for both heroes. Algie meanwhile turned his attention the the ranged spitter frogs in the back of the room and a menacing looking magic-leader frog who was trying get control of his frenzied group. He released a howling tempest in the middle of their ranged attacks and a full force of wind, hit the leader, sending him into more confusion and deadening his senses. Leonora worked desperately to prevent the frogmen from pushing past Legion and Ash’s swarm.

After a long battle, the last spitter frog croaked its last as Legion ran his blade through the creatures stomach. Exhausted from battle, the group rested before searching the room for more clues to Voran’s death and the lost keys.

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Leonora's Secret

A year before the Day of Mourning, Leonora was a very different person. She was friendly, selfish and sometimes unruly teenager especially when she came under the authority from her parents or any of the higher ups of House Cannith. All she wanted was to spend everyday in her parents’ workshop creating alchemical solutions and discovering new and more efficient ways to improve armor and weapons through the use of arcane energy.

On that day, however, she shirked her scheduled responsibility of heading into the Cyre’s city market to stay home and put the finishing touches on her deployable defense robot. She had successful made the machine to sputter and spark, but only for a couple minutes. A little more elbow grease and arcane boost would fix it up.

Suddenly the door creaked open from the stairway entrance above and the sound of many footsteps echoed in the vast workshop. Leonora gently set down her wrench and bolted to the closet under the stairwell. Leonora and her father enjoyed pulling out this prank whenever they could: jumping out from the closet and startling the unknowing victim while he was working. She cracked open the door and poised ready to leap out, scream and make a silly face when the familiar, rumbling voice of her father cut through the sound of footsteps.

“Now what’s this all about Zorlan? I’m a very busy man.”

“Now don’t be hasty Blanchard. This request is a little more detailed and delicate to summarize. May we have a seat?”

“Certainly. Dear, can you bring the table around. I’ll bring the chairs.” The commanding voice of Virginia D’Cannith, Leonora’s mother, echoed. The visitors and her parents were now in the workshop and through the crack from the opened closet door, Leonora could just make out the faces guests.

All of them seemed like very shady company: people that she wouldn’t expect her parents to meet privately with. As Blanchard whipped around the table, Virginia pulled up chairs for the guests and her husband, who promptly sat down and crossed arms, looking very irritated almost as if the private meeting was imposing. And he had a right to be upset: Leonora instantly recognized the smug bloated face of Zorlan D’Cannith, a man rumored to be a delving into necromancy in his secret lair far from Khorvaire. There were few Cannith families that made public their ties and acquaintance with Zorlan.

“Thanks for opening up your house to us, Virginia and Blanchard,” an unknown woman said as she delicately sat down, “I assure you this proposition is very important and is the opportunity of a lifetime.” At the time, Leonora knew nothing about this lady; but in her later days in Sharn, she discovered some records about this Mazina d’Vadalis: an elite member on another dragonmarked house which specializes in banking. Her other not-so-well-known expertise was in experimentation with animal husbandry.

All the visitors were dressed in expensive-looking clothes, except for the quiet unknown man who remained standing and frequently paced around checking any entrances He stood their silent and menacing picking his teeth with a toothpick, the light refracted off his many facial piercings and his skin glistened with many tattoo markings on his bare arms. He was obviously the muscle of the proposal whose job was to intimidate and dismiss any person intruding into this private meeting; Leonora took extra precautions to remain silent.

“Well,” stated Virginia pen and paper in hand, “what’s this all about now?”

Clearing his throat, the ring leader Zorlan presented the plan: ” We have a project that requires the vast knowledge and skill of you and your husband. I have discovered a new power source that if properly controlled, could reinvent the arcane machines we often take for granted in Khorvaire.

Think of the possibilities of using a power source that could potentially power fifty times more warforged than the current arcane product. We could make tons of money; you and your husband could be the most respected and honored inventors within House Cannith; even Leonora’s future would be secured!”

“Hold it right there, Zorlan. I don’t want you filling our heads with the grandest possibilities; just tell us what YOU need US for.” Virginia hadn’t even written down any of his sugar-coated fantasies. That was Leonora’s mom: all business and never liked to think ahead without seeing some evidence.

“Zorlan does like to hear himself talk sometime,” Mazina giggled, ” but what he’s trying to get across is that Zorlan and I lend our expertise in money if you lend your knowledge of the creation forges and inventive procedures.”

A silent Blanchard surprisingly spoke up, ” There’s nothing wrong with the creation forges. They work just fine.”

“Yes, we know they work ‘fine’, but this project is first about testing this power source in a forge.”

“What kind of tests?” Virginia asked suspiciously. Leonora nodded silently in approval-what could you possibly want with augmenting the creation forges?

“Well, we’d start with altering life forms using this new energy filtered through the creation forges, and—”

“This sounds fishy! I don’t like where this is going Zorlan.” Blanchard puffed himself up in exasperation and like always, Virginia rested her hand on his arm to help calm him down.

“Relax dear,” she patted his forearm again, “but I must agree with my husband’s questioning. I want more specific details.” Zorlan and Mazina looked at each other and he threw a quick smirk as he reached into his bag a pulled out a rolled up parchment. He unfurled the large document under their noses and both Virginia and Blanchard gasped. Leonora unfortunately couldn’t see the plans, only the surprised faces of her parents and the intimidating shaterkai in the corner almost daring Leonora to make a noise so that he may throw the rusty dagger he was using to clean his fingernails. Leonora didn’t move. The merchant remained unaware and completely uninterested in the plans Zorlan had laid out. Blanchard was the first to speak.

“How is this possible—this plan-this plan…is madness.”

“Is it? I think you two are more than capable of producing this. And as a I said before, your discovery of harnessing this power source could be the beginning of a very privileged life.”

Virginia remained eyes glued to the plans, calculating and squinting, judging and imagining, until she found a concern.

“But what about facilities-”

“Don’t worry,” Zorlan interrupted, “I have a private workshop, the Umberforge in the Shadowfell. You’ll have free range of all the supplies and Mazina and I can pay for any other expenses that you may need. Now,” he held out daunting hand in front of them, “what do you say?”

Virginia hesitated, but then very firmly shook Vorlan’s hand. Both waited patiently for Blanchard’s answer. He stared intently at Zorlan’s hand before shaking it.

“If my dear wife is willing to go with this, I must support her, no matter the cost.”

Her father’s daunting answer even to this day still gives Leonora shivers. She still remembers this secret meeting and staying huddled in the closet listening to her parents discuss and argue about the plan; but once she had left to fight in the Cyrean army, she had put the memory out of her mind, until that day when Cyre was obliterated. And now, four years later, she couldn’t help but think everyday she was still mourning over her parents’ deaths that may have been their own making.

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The Forgotten Tomb of Io'Contra

“What was that? A dragon?!” Algernon looks in disbelief.

Legion wipes the blood from his blade. “I believe so.” He glances quickly at the hole in the wall. “I believe what we are looking for is in there.” He steps forward, towards the crack. Ash follows quickly behind him.

Leonora looks at Legion. “We should probably rest a moment. I must prepare some alchemical admixtures.” She quickly begins work preparing the tinctures.

“Very well. But we must hurry. I sense danger ahead.” Legion kneels and shuts his eyes in concentration.


“Quickly. Weeee must find the Fought some Dragonborn and drake things.

Went through a portal.

Came across some monsters in a strange room.

Killed them.

Got a secret hideout.

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Yuck! Into the Sewers.

Legion awakes from a dream, a memory of a past life. It was 1500 years ago, before the War of the Mark. One of his many selves, the great Lord Seraphim, hosted a meeting with legendary figures. He finds it hard to believe that he had ever been so indecisive, so willing to consider and discuss. As he tries to sort the contents of the dream in his mind, he wonders if perhaps the timing of the dream had some relevance to the events of his current life.

After explaining his dream to the group, everyone prepared to enter the sewers and find Voran Earthmane. As they prepared to leave, a knock came from the door. Two pieces of post wear were handed to the adventurers: one from Sir ir’Gadden explaining politely that Bren was, to his knowledge, still serving for the Brelish army; and the second letter was more decorative and smelled of power and wealth: It came from Darik ir’Tainwho had earlier helped the group to take down the Mourning Haunt at the Cyre commemoration ceremony. The group is formally invited to join Sir ir’Tain and some of the most influential families of Sharn for the annual ir’Tain ball in two days time. Leonora placed the letters in her pack; everyone double-checked their supplies before heading out.

They descended from the central plateau and into the sludge covered walls and reeking garbage of the sewers beneath the City of Towers. Only after entering and walking fifty feet through the slippery maze, they heard a clinking sound of picks and shovels coming from just ahead. The path was now even darker so Ash quietly lit his lantern, while Algernon passed around extra sunrods to Legion and Leonora. The group tried their best to creep through the sludge but a flicker of light from the sunrods and a slip from Leonora alerted two Dragonborn guards.

The two Dragonborn turned the corner only to be ambushed by a large, brooding Deva and what seemed to be, a crazed orangutan. Ash and Legion kept the guards busy, while Algernon threw bolts of lightning at the Kobolds whom put down their picks and shovels to throw rocks at the attackers. Just as the Kobolds were beaten down and one of the scaly guards fell to Legion’s sword, a hiss and deep voice sounded behind the group: “Who are these intruders?!”

Everyone stared as a small black dragon emerged from the sewage glaring menacingly at the trespassers. Algernon quickly replied believing this dragon may be Voran Earthmane: ” We are not the intruders here! We found these trespassers defiling the sewers with picks and shovels and we’re charged from the Sharn Watch to dispose of them!”

The black dragon was completely emerged now, showing his sharp talons and dripping, poisonous maw, and seemingly more angry than ever. “You idiot!,” he shrieked, ” Those are MY soldiers. I am THEIR commander!” And with an angry roar, he charged at the group and spewed a cloud of poison.

In the confusion of the poison, he tried to charge towards Algernon, but was met instead by Legion. The dragon carried no weapons, but his sharp talons could slice just as well as a sword or axe. Legion narrowly avoided some fatal swipes, but luckily, Leonora blasted the dragon with a magical bolt that slowed his movement. With the group throwing all their combined strength and magic, the dragon was taken down.

Just as the dragon roared and his lifeless body sunk into the sewage, commotion and lights started coming towards the group from the next sewer tunnel.

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Dream of a Forgotten Era

“Lord Seraphim? The final guest has arrived.”

“Excellent. Send him in.” The blue-skinned Deva turns to face the entryway as his assistant opens the door to the chamber.

“May I present Lord Darin Deneith of the clan Deneith.” A noble gentleman steps into the room, clad in the finest vestments. He quickly spies Seraphim and walks quickly toward him, extending out a hand of friendship.

“Lord Deneith, my friend, it has been too long.” The Deva extends a hand out to greet the nobleman.

As he approaches, Darin Deneith grabs his hand and shakes it heartily. “Lord Seraphim. It has been some time, my friend.” He pats the Deva on the shoulder. “How long has it been? Six years? Seven?”

“Eight years. Yet, as much as it joys me to see you again, I suspect that you come to me for more than just to visit an old friend.” Seraphim looks closely at his old friend.

“Well, yes, actually…”

Seraphim quickly interrupts. “I understand. Allow me to inform you that you are not the first to come to me. Others also seek my assistance in these dark days.”

“Others?”

The Deva nods. “Yes. I had hoped that we may all discuss the issue hospitably. There are many ways for this situation to end, my friend, but if you give me a chance, I hope we can come to the best solution peacefully.”

Darin Deneith sighs heavily. “I…”

Seraphim pulls him towards the entryway. “Proceed to the great hall, my old friend. There, we may all discuss this and come to the appropriate conclusion.” He looks at Darin calmly, pausing. “If we are going to resolve this properly, this is the only way it can be done.”

Lord Deneith shakes his head slowly. “Very well. We’ll try it your way. But I promise nothing.”

The Deva smiles wryly. “Excellent. I will join you shortly.”


Seraphim enters the old fortress’ temple, slowly approaching the majestic woman staring upon the stained glass window. “My Lady Io’Cantra. You understand the situation I have before me?” Seraphim steps closer to the mysterious Io’Cantra as she slowly turns in his direction.

“I do, Lord Seraphim. We understood that this decision would come to you. That is why I have come to you now.” Her words softly emanate from beneath her silvered veil. “My… people have great interest in the events that unfold even as we speak.”

“And what course do your people suggest? This fighting between the different Dragonmarked clans appears without virtue or justice. The clans mercilessly slaughter the those with aberrant marks with no regard for each other.”

Io’Cantra takes a step out of the moonlight, advancing slowly towards him. “I came because we knew that what happens here today reflects throughout the ages. The words spoken, the choices made, the truths revealed, all reflect in the Draconic Prophecy.”

Seraphim looks at her, concerned. “The Draconic Prophecy? But… how?”

“I cannot tell you now, young one. Prophecy can never be certain until it is history.” She stares him in the eyes, piercing the soul of countless lifetimes. The Deva shudders. “I will stand by your side and provide what insight I can this night. After that, though, you proceed on your own.”

Seraphim looks at her affirmatively but says nothing.

“We shall go together and hear them out, yes?” A slow smile appears beneath the veil. “Tonight, Lord Seraphim, you make what might be the greatest decision of your life. Perhaps of many of your lives.” Io’Cantra quickly heads toward the door.

“Of course, my good… lady.” He grasps the handle and pulls the door open, inviting his mysterious guest through.


A gaunt figure paces back and forth in the hall, muttering to himself under his breath. His grim accomplice approaches, concerned. She pulls back her black hair and looks to him. “Oh, Halas. We’ve been waiting for hours. How long will we wait for the Deva to come hear our request?”

He stops, slowly turning towards her. “What we are doing is extremely important, my dear Lady. Lord Seraphim posses the power and influence to help us become a player in this world. With him, we can go from being animals hunted by the Dragonmarked clans to a clan of our very own, with power over millions.” As the words pass his lips, he cracks a grim smile. “We will wait for him, my dear, no matter the cost.”

“Please, Halas… He’s practically in bed with the clans. Most of their families have members who have fought wars, hunted monsters, and adventured with him.” She steps around him lightly, almost dancing.

“It does not matter, my dear Lady. No matter the relationship, no matter the situation, Lord Seraphim always pursues the cause of justice. When we explain our plight, he will be forced to…”

A slam of the entryway door stops Halas in mid-sentence. Lord Darin Deneith quickly enters. The two lock eyes, staring intently at each other.

“Halas Tarkanan! How did you get here?”

Halas looks across the room at his nemesis. “Darin Deneith. I should have guessed the clans would send you as their lackey.”

“That’s Lord Deneith, you slime.”

“Simple enough. I expect no less in return; you may address me as Lord Tarkanan. Further, you may address my beautiful companion as the Lady of Plague.”

Darin steps forward and spits in his direction. “Lord and Lady…. Ha! A perverse joke if I’ve ever heard one.” He quickly reaches for his blade, advancing on Halas Tarkanan. Halas reaches for his weapon, meeting Darin’s advance.

“STOP!”

Halas Tarkanan and Darin Deneith immediately turn to the entryway as Seraphim charges in, followed quickly by Io’Cantra.

“Both of you, lower your blades and sit! We are here to discuss this like civilized men.”

Darin and Halas stare at each other for a moment before silently consenting. The Lady of the Plague sits beside Halas Tarkanan. Seraphim takes his place between them while Io’Cantra stands behind him, quietly.

“You have both come to me seeking my assistance in this feud between your peoples. Lord Tarkanan, you tell me of great injustice done against those like yourself, those who have exhibited the aberrant Dragonmarks. You want me to aid you in combatting the oppressive forces of the Dragonmarked clans.” He looks sternly at Halas, who nods an approval. “Lord Deneith, you alerted me to a great danger developing in the world, represented by the rise of Dragonmarks outside the great families of the clans. You told me of their unbridled power and capability to shatter the civilized world of Khorvaire. You hope I will assist you in wiping the aberration from the world.” Seraphim looks at Darin, who slowly nods.

Halas stands up. “They hunt us because we are powerful. They hunt us because we are unpredictable. They hunt us because we are different.” He slams his hands on the table. “Because we do not follow their rules, their society, they try to eliminate us completely. They treat us like animals!”

Darin shakes his head and looks to Seraphim. “My friend. I swear to you that these Dragonmarks are dangerous. The people that they manifest in are often unstable, even mad. The power that these Dragonmarks grant is practically limitless. Whereas the clans help control the power of the Marks, those with aberrant marks are free to cause chaos and ruin wherever they go. We must stop them before they have that opportunity.”

“Stop us? We haven’t even started! You revel in the senseless slaughter of people like us!”

Darin quickly stands, agitated. “I revel in senseless slaughter? Your kind has lead to the death of countless many. Your… people have no respect for order or society…”

“Silence!” The Deva stands, looking to both Halas and Darin. “You bicker like children, with no intent nor direction.” He pauses, collecting himself. “But of these details I do not understand. I had been informed that these aberrant Dragonmarks occurred randomly, without warning or indication. I do not see how you can possibly expect to eliminate this perceived threat. What is it you intend, Lord Deneith? Extermination? Mass murder? Genocide?” He pauses. “Of who? Who do you target? Who do you kill?”

Darin Deneith stands quickly. “You do not understand, my old friend. These Dragonmarks… they manifest randomly but often with great power. With the power comes madness. They never receive the education or training of the Dragonmarked clans. They quickly turn their powers to evil, inflicting pain and suffering upon the innocent people of Khorvaire.” He pauses. “These aberrant Dragonmarks are a sign of evil.” He looks to Halas Tarkanan and then back to Seraphim. “The only cure… is death.”

Halas’ female accomplice howls. “You call us the animals? You, who hunt us for sport? You, who cut us down in the night? You call us animals because our powers fall outside your understanding? Because we exhibit abilities beyond your comprehension?” she shrieks.

Halas Tarkanan grabs her and settles her into her chair. After a moment, when she calms, he turns back to Darin Deneith. “I only hope to organize those like me together under one clan, just as your people have. I only hope to bring us together, to provide the stability and order you claim we lack. Yet, when I do, you hunt us down like petty criminals. I cannot help but wonder who the monster is, my dear Lord…”

Seraphim slams a fist on the table. “Enough! I can see that this will not end peaceably. I only hope that the destiny of our world continues better than this discussion.” Darin and Halas sit down slowly as Seraphim continues. “I cannot understand the unbridled enmity between your two peoples. It is unnatural and will lead to nothing short of annihilation. However… you have both come to me seeking my aid.” He pauses, sighing deeply.

Io’Cantra leans forward and whispers into this ear: “Only you can take the next step. You must.”

Seraphim looks woefully at his old friend and his new visitors. From both, he sees nothing but animosity and hate. Looking to Darin, he begins to speak: “Oh, my friend, you have placed me in the most terrifying of situations. For months now I have watched your people hunt down and murder people, innocent people, justifying it in the name of protecting Khorvaire. People with even the smallest aberrant Dragonmark have been have been targeted in the name of freedom, of security.” Lord Deneith lowers his head.

Seraphim turns to Halas Tarkanan. “Yet, I cannot honestly see you as unfettered by villainy. I have heard stories of the atrocities committed by people with aberrant Dragonmarks. I have tried to dismiss them but I realize that with every unbounded rumor lies a brief component of truth. You may paint yourself the hero of thousands but I realize that you and your cause may have different motivations.” Lord Tarkanan looks to the Lady of the Plague, slowly lowering his head as Seraphim continues.

“You have taken your dispute, the simplest of matters, and blown it out of proportion. You have turned your own societies upside down with this madness and hate.” He pauses. “I will not subscribe to either of your interpretations of these events. The situation that unfolds here will soon dissolve to abject madness and both of you will have nobody but yourselves to blame.” Seraphim quickly turns and walks towards the exit. “You have my leave to depart.”


Seraphim looks out the window of his private room. A quiet knock at the door alerts him to the presence of Io’Cantra. Turning slowly, he motions for her to enter.

Io’Cantra steps to the center of the chamber. “Lord Seraphim. I must leave shortly so I must inquire as to what your final decision will be. Will you side with the established clans? Or will the aberrant Marks guide your future?”

Seraphim sighs. “I cannot say at this time. I fear what my old friend Deneith has become: hateful of things he does not seem to understand.” He takes a few steps towards Io’Cantra. “However, Tarkanan and his woman seem just as untrustworthy as the time I first heard of them.”

Io’Cantra steps a little bit closer. “Lord Seraphim. I understand your trepidation. However, these days are essential to the Draconic Prophecy. I must know what your choice will be.”

Seraphim looks at Io’Cantra. “It is clear that the violence of the Dragonmarked clans will only continue to escalate. They have turned fear and mistrust into weapons to be used against those that they cannot control or manipulate.” A distant rumble of thunder comes from outside the fortress. “You must have known that I would not allow this to stand. Eventually, I will be forced to stand against my old comrades. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But soon, I will take arms against Lord Deneith and the rest of the Dragonmarked families.”

A slight smile comes to Io’Cantra’s face. “Perhaps, or perhaps not. You can never predict the eventuality of the Draconic Prophecy. However…” Io’Cantra pauses, considering. “No matter. It is time that I leave.”

“I hope your journey finds you safely back to your home, Lady Io’Cantra.” Seraphim lowers his head respectfully.

“You have been a fine host. Trust your instincts, Seraphim. You have lifetimes of wisdom at your command; do not disregard it when the situation becomes dire.” Wisps of smoke begin swirling around her. The smoke condenses around Io’Cantra, obscuring her from view. Then, as quickly as the smoke appeared, it disappears, taking Lady Io’Cantra with it.

“If only it where easy for us as it were for your kind, my good Lady Io’Cantra.”

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Breaking Through

“Breaking Through”, as told by Algernon Moncrief after a few drinks at the Gold Gargoyle a few weeks later.

So as the door to the backroom gets kicked open, we were faced with a room full of the greasiest, backwater crow people you’re ever likely to see this side of the Dagger River. Of course, I’m one of the first ones in there and as I look around I see all these papers and books and things, maps and plans laying around. There’s a bunch of smaller kenku milling around, eating millet cakes (disgusting little moldy things) and stuff. There’s also a better dressed kenku at the back, talking to some half-elf chum with a freaky looking red and black tattoo on his face that goes all the way down his neck.

When we bust down the door and I tell everyone to stay put or there’ll be hell to pay, it looks like the yahoos in the back are going to grab some maps and gold and bolt, so I do the first thing that pops into my mind, you know? I summon a gale-force wind into a whirling circle and send it cruising straight at the guys hiding in the back. Of course, papers go flying everywhere and all their hopes of bolting get (excuse my Karrnathi) extremely fucked.

Apparently some of the tough guys they had working for them were about as tough as an asthmatic leper with heart condition, seeing as how they passed right out on having the deafening crack of the whirlwind erupt right above them. Though they might have just been so impressed when they saw me that they decided that it wasn’t worth it to fight. That could be it too.

Anyways, so right after that, Ash runs in and turns into some animal that I’ve never seen nor heard of before and belches a load of bees right in the rest of the guys’ faces, which doesn’t make them too happy. In the meantime, Legion pushes past both of us and uses his magic to yank the kenku leader, who has drawn a bow, into the fray and starts attacking him with his sword. Seeing his comrade in need, the half-elf draws his weapon and starts to come forward just in time for me to blast him with a powerful burst of lightning into his chest, which flings him 15 feet through the air, taking him out of commission for the time being.

What’s left of the rest of the crow-men start to close in so Ash summons a boar to cause some havoc. The leading Kenku manges to do a neat backflip over a table, draw his bow again and shoot Legion in the arm all in one movement. I take the time to blast the rest of the goons that Ash’s boar and bees have tied up, every once in a while I send the excess charge over to the half-elf so he doesn’t feel left out.

So Ash, Leonora and Legion are closing in on the kenku leader, his chicklings having all buggered off by now, and I’m staring down this other half-elf, my brother of sorts, when they both strike at the same time. The kenku throws down this feather ball with sends out a bunch of smoke and a ton of black feathers, making it totally impossible to see. At the same time, the mutant half-elf makes a bolt for the door. Legion sees this, throws his thrice-damned sword at him like he’s in a pulp novel or something while Ash moves to block the door with a stack of crates nearby.

There’s a bit of a scuffle, I’m facing down the half-elf by myself, with only a dagger and my wits while he’s got a sword. He slashes, I evade, he thrusts, I parry. In a second or two I get bored with his antics and muster up some real hot lightning, and turn what was left of his aberrant brain into scrambled eggs all in one go.

After picking up the pieces of everything inside, he got the clues we needed to find out the next step in the puzzle, namely what the hell they were looking for. Turns out it was an old goliath’s lab hidden in the underparts of the city, but that was later. So, what do you say, want to go upstairs and see a little thunder and lightning yourself?

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Battle at the Crow's Nest
Who's Garret?!

24 Ollarune, 998 YK

The group spent the morning scoping out the Crow’s Nest. Ash noticed the bar was teeming with even more Kenku than yesterday; they were not taking any risks of the meeting being interrupted, especially since Algernon’s actions the day before had alerted the Kenku that others may be interested in today’s meeting. Algernon studied the note again:

On the 24th
12pm at the Crow's Nest
Send Garret

Each were left to their own prowess: Algernon and Legion spied from the closest bar, Leonora visited the nearby stalls and vendors hoping to pass as a curious tourist or shopping enthusiast; Ash turned into a mangy dog and sniffed and trotted around the Crow’s Nest, hoping to not alert the guards. Unfortunately, Leonora’s shopping rouse was interrupted by approaching Kenku guards, who had become aware of her suspicious behavior. She quickly joined the others at the out-of-site bar, hoping she hadn’t blown their stake out.

After a couple hours, Ash noticed a shady group approach and enter the bar: two halflings, a half-elf and a handful of thugs. The guests were escorted in by the guards. Ash ran back to the group and alerted them to the group’s arrival, but purposely lagged behind to try and sneak in the door after everyone else.

Legion, with his sword drawn, entered by almost pushing the door off its hinges; He looked around at the startled Kenku whom glared menacingly at him. Those in the dining area began to inch towards the group, flashing weapons and unwelcome looks. “Get out! We don’t serve your kind here!” cried the barkeep as a final warning. Legion pointed his blade toward the barkeep: “You do now.”

The barkeep yelled, “Get them, boys!” as he ducked behind the counter. A handful of Kenku rushed towards with clubs, while one zealous fighter, jumped on the table wielding a spiked chain. A couple more Kenku joined the fight, emerging from the kitchen carrying large butcher knives. Legion charged the chain-wielding Kenku and was soon surrounded by three of the crow-beasts. Algernon and Leonora worked together trying to break up the hoard of Kenku trying to take down Legion and preventing the others from getting to close to themselves.

With all the commotion, none of the Kenku noticed the mangy dog trotting up the stairs. Ash was excited that his sneaking had worked as he approached the next floor; however his accomplishment was soon dashed as two Kenku guarding the upstairs door spotted him. Not sure what to make of this lost dog, the guards looked at each other with confusion until the dog opened his mouth and spewed a thousand angry locusts.

Downstairs, the Kenku numbers seemed to dwindle until both Leonora and Legion were struck from a thrown dagger. Both received serious wounds from the Kenku barkeep who resorted to sneaky tactics: hiding behind the tables and chairs, preparing daggers for the rest of the intruders. After a few powerful lightning blasts from Algernon and solid swings from Legion, the fight was over, at least this one was.

As Leonora quickly healed the groups’ wounds, they were startled by Ash stumbling out of the storage closet under the stairs. He angrily explained about the trap door in front of the upstairs door and despite his athletic ability, had fallen in the trap. Twice.

Algernon laughed exclaiming that his wit and tinkering abilities could probably disable the trap and return the wooden floor boards closed; but even with Leonora’s help, the two kept fiddling with the controls for a few minutes without any success. Legion sat by, tapping his foot impatiently.

He finally burst from his impatience, knowing that every minute wasted meant evil was allowed to live longer: “You’re wasting too much time! Grab that table!” He and Ash hurriedly climbed up the stairs and dropped the table, creating a temporary wooden bridge. In their rush, the loud drop of the table and the creaking of its planks made them any easy target as they entered the room.

Expecting to be ambushed, the group hustled inside and were greeted by poorly-hidden Kenku: their feathers sticking out from behind their hiding places. Leonora readied a bolt, and sent it flying towards the first target. The small corridor helped to funnel the next group of Kenku in a spot perfect for bouncing lighting and swarms of locusts. With the others successfully picking of the less-threatening Kenku, Legion went after the powerful sorcerer dressed in robes and holding a glowing orb. His hurricane winds and flying moves proved difficult for Legion, but with help this floor of Kenku too were killed.

But then quickly, one of the Kenku supposedly dead, sprinted to the next room, pounded on the door, shrieking warnings to the group inside. He was quickly pursued by Legion, while everyone else rushed to the secret room. Before the reached the door, a Kenku poked his head out and saw the rushing heroes. He shut the door and Ash, who looked even more intimidating in his raptor form, heard scuffling and a terrified shout, “There’s an ARMY out there!”.

Leonora quickly picked the lock and haphazardly opened the door and was quickly greeted by an onslaught of crossbow bolts. She narrowly avoid wounds, except from a a rock of a well-aimed sling; but she had successfully saw how the enemies were situated. After hearing Leonora’s plan, Algernon and Ash readied themselves to burst through the door. Leonora called to Legion to hurry back and help them as they prepared to charged the last room.

Next Episode…”Storming the Secret Meeting”

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The City Below

21 Ollarune, 998 YK

After leaving Warden Tower, newly deputized and ready for adventure, the party decides to split up. Algernon and Ash decide to take to the streets below, looking for word in the taverns and pubs of Sharn. Leonora and Legion proceed to House Civis to inquire about Bren ir’Gadden, the man who seems to be at the center of it all.

Algernon and Ash spend the evening buying drinks and probing customers of the Copper Kettle, a somewhat respectable drinking establishment. Unfortunately, the only clues of note come form the bartender, who informs the pair that the ir’Gadden family has considerable property off to the east. Leonora and Legion, investigating records and history at House Civis, come to a similar conclusion as Algernon and Ash. Leonora decides that it may be best to attempt and communicate with the ir’Gadden family and sends a dispatch to Bren’s father, Barren ir’Gadden.

With little more to show for their effort, the group reunites at the Inn of the Red Dragon. Looking through his belongings, Ash finds the hastily scribbled note that he found at the townhouse the day before.

23 Ollarune. 3rd Midday Watch. Crow’s Nest. Send Garet.

“Hey, guys. I have an idea. I think we should check out a place called the Crow’s Nest.”


22 Ollarune, 998 YK

As dawn breaks, the group sets out on further adventures. Leonora and Legion decide to follow up with Gydd Nephret at the Morgrave University while Ash and Algernon decide to investigate the Crow’s Nest. They part ways early in the morning.

Leonora and Legion proceed to the Morgrave University to speak to Gydd Nephret concerning the Draconic Prophecy. When they arrive, Gydd is distracted and indirect. Leonora addresses him.

“We need to know about the Draconic Prophecy.”

Gydd looks concerned. “The Draconic Prophecy? You’re here about that?”

Legion looks sternly.

Gydd shakes his head. “Listen, my friends. I would be delighted to help you further understand the Draconic Prophecy. However, I have very pressing things at hand, things that you may be able to help me with.”

Leonora sighs, looking at Gydd, disappointingly. “Alright. If we help you out with this, will you help explain the Draconic Prophecy to us?”

“Of course, of course!” Gydd explains. “As long as you help me with this… little task I have to take care of.”

Legion looks sternly. “What do you need us to do?”

“Well, you see, I let somebody borrow a staff. Unfortunately, he has yet to return it. I need you to go and recover it for me.”

Leonora, seemingly disappointed, looks at him. “A staff? That’s it?”

“Yes. A staff. Just… a staff.”

“Sure thing. Who has it and where can we find him?”

Gydd paces back and forth frantically. “You see, my friends, that is the issue. It is in the possession of Voran Earthmane. Unfortunately, he has not been seen for quite some time. He has a tendency to remain… very private. I need you to go and find him and find this staff. Can you do this?”

Legion and Leonora look at each other. Leonora nods her head. “Yes, I think we can do this for you. We’ll let you know when we find it.”

“Excellent!”


Meanwhile, Ash and Algernon proceed down to the depths of Sharn to investigate the Crow’s Nest. As they approach, Ash notices something.

Algernon looks over to Ash. “What’s wrong?”

“Shhhh! You smell something?”

Algernon looks at him, quizzically.

Ash looks sternly. “Kenku.”

As they enter the entryway of the Crow’s Nest, Algernon understands Ash’s warning. The entire building is full of Kenku.

“Don’t worry. I can handle this,” Algernon assures Ash.

Algernon takes a few gallant strides up to the bar. He looks sternly at the bartender, a feathered, black Kenku. “Excuse me, my good man. I am looking for a gentleman named Garret. Do you know of this gentleman?”

The entire room goes quiet. The bartender looks sternly at him. “Sorry, bub. Braaaaaawk! I don’t know anybody like that.”

Algernon leans in and smiles. “No, my friend. Let me ask you again. I’m looking for a man named Garret.” He slides a handful of gold coins across the bar.

The Kenku bartender shakes his head. “Braaaaawk! I’m afraid you didn’t hear me. I don’t know anybody like that.” Several Kenku from around the tavern stand up and start approaching Ash and Algernon.

The Kenku throughout the bar slowly approach. Ash looks to Algernon. “I think we may want to leave now.” A Kenku draws a cudgel out from beneath his cloak.

Algernon looks about and assesses the situation. “Perhaps you’re right.” He looks over to the Kenku bartender. “Perhaps you are right, my good man. I apologize for the confusion. We’ll be leaving now.”

“Braaaaawk! Good to hear.”


Ash and Algernon return to the Inn of the Red Dragon where they meet up with Leonora and Legion. They retell the events of the day, sharing their adventures with one another. The group decides that the best bet is to investigate the Crow’s Nest again tomorrow.

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The Sky Above...

21 Ollarune, 998 YK

Spending the previous night at The Inn of the Red Dragon, the group gets an early start. A Sky Coach arrives for them, sent by the local Watch Captain. They board the craft and it takes to the skies, carrying the group to their destination.

Looking across the skyline, Legion grumbles to Leonora. “I have lived in this city for some time now and I have yet to determine this obsession your people have with living so high in the sky.”

Algernon shakes his head disapprovingly. “Are you joking? There’s nothing better than soaring up high!”

“If that were the case, I imagine that the Gods would have given men wings,” Legion replies dryly.

“Listen, you…”

As Legion and Algernon squabble, a voice cries out. “Lookout! Enemy approaching from the south!” Ash exclaims.

Goblins on hover boards appear, lead by a strange human in robes. Legion and Algernon look at the man and the strange marks covering his body.

“It’s Aric Blacktree!Algernon shouts.

“And he bears a Dragonmark,” Legion adds.

As the goblins near, Ash engages them as the rest of group readies themselves for battle. Great vines whip across the sky, snapping one of the goblins.

Leonora brings her crossbow to the ready, taking aim at the nearest goblin. “Aric Blacktree? But I thought he was one of the good guys!” she shouts above the din.

Lightning crackles across the sky as a goblin is torn from his disc and thrown to the deck of the Sky Coach. Legion approaches, sword readied. “Yes. Aren’t they all, my dear.”

Energy crackles around Algernon as he projects fierce lightning towards the foes. “We need to capture him! He may know more about what is going on!”

Battle continues as a number of goblins are quickly dispatched. Aric Blacktree approaches and envelops both Algernon and Legion with dark magical energy.

Legion, thrown to the deck of the Sky Coach, rises quickly. “Certainly. You can question him after I have liberated his head from his body.”

Leonora runs quickly to the Sky Coach pilot. “Bring us in on the left! Force them into the spires!”

As the battle goes on, Legion draws Aric to the front of the Sky Coach. Lightning streaks from his blade, drawing him closer to the deck of the coach.

The Sky Coach pilot calls forward to Leonora. “I’m swinging us to port, drawing us closer…”

THUMP

The Sky Coach rams directly into Aric Blacktree; his body drags along the underside of the craft. The Sky Coach pilot, surprised by the collision, falls to the deck. As Aric Blacktree recovers from the collision, Algernon steps to the back of the craft and draws back his arms.

“Allow me be the first to formally welcome you to Sharn, bastard!” Storm and lightning jump from his outstretched hands and envelop Aric. The force of the blast knocks him backwards and tears him from his hover board. His body falls into the murky abyss of Sharn.

With their master defeated, the remaining goblins quickly retreat into the sky. The party takes a moment to recover and check on the wounded.


When the Sky Coach finally arrives at the Warden Tower, they quickly disembark. After a brief encounter with the dark heart of bureaucracy, they are lead to Kale Katarn, the Captain of the Watch. Algernon steps forward to address him.

“You must be the people found at the townhouse yesterday. You defeated the Red Jackals, yes?” The Watch Captain looks at them quite seriously.

Algernon looks up. “Yes. That was us. We defeated the villains and saved Sharn from wholesale destruction, all acts that I am certain warrant some sort of reward…”

“Reward? Excuse me…? Oh, right. Yes, you did save a good part of the city. I have been authorized to issue you 120 pieces of gold.” Algernon’s eyes light up as he accepts the sack of coins. “Furthermore, I would like to ask you if you would assist me in further investigating these matters.”

Legion looks up. “Further investigation?”

“Yes. I would like you to follow up on a few of the leads from the event yesterday. Whatever happened is bigger than just a few gangsters in a townhouse. Unfortunately, I don’t have the kind of experienced manpower that this job demands. Therefore, I would like to know if you would be willing to take on a position as… deputies.”

Leonora looks at the Watch Captain seriously. “Deputies?”

“Perhaps ‘contractor’ would be a better word. I cannot give you any more authority than you already possess. However, I believe you would be a great aid in this investigation.”

Algernon steps forward again. “Will there be additional rewards involved?”

“I will do what I can. However, be advised that while the greater realms of society may have wealth beyond imagination, it rarely finds its way into the coffers of the Watch. You will be rewarded in such ways that I can muster.”

Algernon contemplates this thought for a moment. “Well, if there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say.”

“Excellent! Please take these charms with you. They will protect you in the unfortunate case that you fall from the spires of Sharn. Other than that, I will eagerly be awaiting your next report.” Kale Katarn the Watch Captain quickly leaves the group, proceeding on with other business.

Ash shakes his head, confused. “Wait… did he say deputies?”

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