The afternoon before the ball was filled with panic. The four each took long showers and scrubbed viciously to try and rid themselves of the smell of 2 days worth of adventuring in the sewers and walking for hours in reeking mud and frogmen waste. The tailor recommended by the ir’Tains also delivered their fitted fancy clothes for the ball: a sky-blue silk dress and earrings for Leonora; Algie proudly accepted a fashionable maroon sky-captain coat with gold buttons and cuff links, white slacks and knee high brown leather boots ;an earthy-patterned suit with wooden tassels and complimentary pants for Ash; and Legion was very happy to receive a duplicate of his burlap clothes and cloak with black leather boots and accessories.
About an hour after the tailor’s departure, an escort knocked on the door and offered to lead the party to the sky way platform, preparing for departure for the ball. The aircoach trip to the mansion was very relaxing; the heroes were thankful for the silence since they all recalled the last trip involved being chased by flying goblins and attacked by an altered Aric Blacktree. The coach went high above the city and landed at a large mansion floating on a bed of clouds.
Everyone exited the coach and found themselves stopped at the front door. A somewhat snooty man greeted the heroes and stopped Legion and Algie:
“Gentlemen, please remove your weapons and check them into this holding area. There are no arms allowed at the gala.”
Legion rolled his eyes in annoyance, but unstrapped his sword and dropped the heavy weapon in front of the usher. The noise did draw a commotion of whispers and giggles from the other guests entering the ball. Algernon looked down at his freshly cleaned winged dagger that he had so carefully hook on his belt and turned away from the usher.
“Thanks,”he smirked, “but I think I’m fine with keeping it. I may need it to clean my fingernails once I get bored of this party.”
The man quickly stepped in front of Algernon before he could walk through the gates. “That’s very funny sir, but I can’t allow ANYONE to bring in ANY weapons.” He raised a finger that motioned to a pair of armed guards at the gates. Algernon raised his hands in defeat and began to unstrap his weapon.
“Thank you sir.”
Algernon handed the usher the hilt of his dagger and with a glint in his eye, sent a small charge of lightning through his dagger. The man yelped in surprise and looked back at Algernon in disgust:
“Was that really necessary?!” He huffed and returned to the table. As the group enters, they are greeted by Darek ir’Tain.
“Thank you so much for coming to this ball. I’m honored that you’re attending. Please, enjoy the refreshments and the company. Your table is right this way.” As quickly as he greeted them, Darek excused himself to visit other guests, promising to return later. There are fancy people, dressed nice with their noses in the air. Luckily the group finds the table and try to smooze with the rich and powerful. Algernon and Ash leave together hoping to impress the high maintenance ladies of the rich families. Legion sits quietly at the table, while Leonora finds and greets Marix D’Cannith, who returns her greeting but with far less interest. They all manage to return to the table before the grand introductions began, where they were soon led from the comfort of the table and up in front of the crowd by Darek ir’Tain. He introduces us as the guests of honor and regales the guests on the fight against the Mourning Haunt in the Cyrean Tower. The tale feels very embellished as Darek makes dashing accounts of his bravery and leadership in the fight (none of which the heroes recall) and finishes with the victorious beheading of the nasty creature. Everyone claps politely, and Algernon makes sure to flex and wink at the girls at the closest table.
New interest of the guests of honor inflated and made their table even more desirable as a handful of politicians and other important figures sat with them and introduced themselves: Thurik d’Vandi, a gnome official who overlooked the (name) region and Surec Sensos, a half-elf politician in chrage of (name) region. They congratulated the group on their heroic efforts and offered their services of influence should they ever need. Another official butted into the conversation: a changeling official named Kilk, who tried to sound offended from being left out of the fun by his friends. Thurik and Surec, briefly introduced Kilk as the official that presided over (name of region) in Sharn. The all were interrupted by the arrival of food. As the officials and heroes sat down to eat, a woman rushed up to the table to claim the last seat; she pushed through in order to sit next to Legion. Algernon and Ash grumbled at their back luck, she was pretty, but for some reason seemed very interested in Legion.
“Hi, everyone, my name is Jael Valash. I am one of the wealthy business owners in Sharn and one who would have been greatly affected if that tower would have collapsed. I thank you for your bravery.” Everyone nodded in approval and returned to eating. She picked up her silverware and began to delicately cut into her meal as she continued to try and move the conversation along.
“So how did you all meet? Did you know each other before that tragedy at the Cyrean Tower?”
“We’re all met on the Day of Mourning actually,” gloated Algie trying desperately to grab more of the woman’s attention, “It was really weird, but we all met that day and were part of the war, just going about doing our duties and then, BAM! It sounded like the sky erupted around the boarder of Cyre. We’re lucky to be alive.”
“That’s very interesting Algernon.” She turned her attention back to Legion. “Tell me, where did you get that amulet of yours.”
“It was a gift.” snorted Legion.
“A gift,”she pondered, “a gift from who?”
“Gydd Nephret. He didn’t want it anymore. I thought it looked interesting.”
“He just…gave it to you!” She didn’t sound angry, but more appalled at how easily the amulet was acquired.
“Yes. He’s a friend.” said Legion firmly. Seeing as she wouldn’t have any more questions answered, she quieted and returned to eating.
The group was full of food and all worn out from listening to gossip and hearing politicans babble on and on. Leonora noticed a messenger run into the dining room and straight for Marix, who after listening to the boy, stared in the group’s direction. Leonora quickly turned around hoping he would stop staring. Algernon was planning one final attempt at picking up a rich lady when they were interrupted by an approaching Marix d’Cannith.
“It seems an intruder was captured snooping around the lower levels of my forgehold. We have him in custody, but he asked for your four by name.”
“Who is it?” Ash asked in alarm.
“I don’t know,”Marix answered, “he’s a shady fellow, that’s all the messenger told me. We have him in our interrogation room at Cannith Tower. If you would please meet me there after you change and reclaim your weapons, that would be most helpful.”
Before everyone could rush along, a sneaky figure came up behind Marix:
“Forgive me for overhearing, but I believe my services could be used for this manner.” Marix glared at the eavesdropper. ” What do you want Dolen?”
“I believe my skills as an inquisitor may be of use in this situation.” He turned towards the heroes and introduced himself with a sleek smile. “I’m Dolen d’Vandi. I’m pleased to meet you. I would be happy to assist.” Marix sighed at the intrusion but agreed to have Dolen come along. Everyone quickly departed and met up a little later at Cannith Tower.
Walking past much security and guards, the heroes are lead to a dim room with a man tied to chair sitting still in the center. Legion and Algie instantly lunge for the man as he lifted up his head and cackled, revealing himself to be non other than Aric Blacktree. Four guards quickly stepped in front restraining Algernon and Legion from unsheathing their weapons.
“It can’t be!” yelled Leonora, “We saw you fall. You’re supposed to be dead!”
Aric laughed, “Hahaha, well my friends, their are going to be many more surprises for you tonight.”
Algie stepped passed the guards and approached Aric, promptly punching him in the face before beginning the interrogation.”Why are you here? What evil purpose were you trying to fulfill by breaking into the forgehold?”
Legion stepped up behind Algie and glared down at Aric; it was keeping all his restraint from not beheading him here-but he may have some information first. “I would answer truthfully if I were you.” he growled.
“The Son of Kyber. He’s planning a raid into the forgehold with House Tarkanan.”
“Impossible,” piped up Marix,”there’s no way anyone could pass our security to make it to the bottom forge.”
“Ahhh, but the Son of Kyber is clever, sir d’Cannith. They’re entering into the chamber from beneath.”
“Why?” Algie glared and motioned for Legion to unsheathe his longsword.
“Oh, but didn’t you know? That level of the forgehold is especially for manufacturing sentient warforged.” He smiled slyly at Leonora who turned around and glared at Marix.”They should be through to the ground level by now. I would hurry if I were you.”
The team quickly ran out of the room having Marix lead the way to the express elevator that took them down to the deepest chambers. It was muggy and the floor had pools of lava, but Marix led them safely around the passages and different chambers until they reached the entrance into the main forgehold. The entrance was a large door guarded by a pair of soldiers, but the door was open and there was no sign of the guards; no traces.
“Thats not good. They never leave their posts.” Beyond the door was a large section of glowing runes on the floor.
“Hey, can’t you shut those off?” Algie motioned to the glowing ruins.
“I can’t D’Lyrandar; that’s our defense alarm.”
“Well it certainly worked.” scoffed Legion. “Let’s proceed. This will be no easy task, but I’ll get to kill many evil beings today. I can feel it.”
As the group carefully trudged off, Leonora stayed for a moment more. She turned to Marix with disgust in her eyes,” How dare you?! After all that I’ve been through because of the war, you would dare try and break the treaty and bring further death and conflict.” She stepped forward and forced his cold eyes to face her, “If that’s the kind of secrets you want me to keep, I want nothing to do with you.”
She quickly joined her group, angered by her house leader’s betrayal; she loaded her crossbow and was preparing to funnel her anger towards whatever monster appeared in their path.
“Let’s try and not step on these. I don’t want to find out what they do.” Ash added cautiously.
Before anymore time could be diverted to comprehending the defensive runes, a suited-up dwarf entered from the perpendicular hallway carrying a large maul on his back. “Well now, looks like I may be getting a workout from you four. Let’s Play!” Before he moved, Ash used his thorn whip, wrapped it around the dwarf’s arm and pulled him towards the runes; unfortunately, the runes only glowed brighter once the large being stepped on them. Little did anyone know, the runes triggered a trap: a sharp swinging blade that sliced through the battlefield at intervals, luckily everyone kept wary of their position and avoided the swinging blade. The group focused their efforts on bringing the dwarf down until suddenly on either side of the wall, secret passages opened and out jumped two lizard-like creatures, each specialized in tricky tactics. They both tried many times to blind the group by throwing sand in their eyes. Luckily, everyone fought hard at they were able to clear the first room but only after defeating the dwarf who, in the middle of the battle grew three times his size to stand three feet at least about Legion.
Successful in battle, they moved forward towards the two passages leading further into the forgehold.