Echoes of Prophecy

Crown of the Kobold King - Part 2

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Crown of the Kobold King - Part 1

After freeing Nigel Aldain and the other denizens of the Dezina Museum of Antiquities, the party went in search of a healer to cure Illiyana’s affliction. The high priest at Illiyana’s temple managed to heal her, but her physical appearance would take time to revert to normal. The following morning (8 Vult), the party returned to Blackwheel Company Headquarters to report on the outcome of their mission. As the party was leaving the Blackwheel Company, they saw a large airship flying the Karrnathi flag docking with the House Lyrandar enclave. The party spent the next few days working and taking care of personal business. Kryle made plans for his renovations of Fortune’s Gate, Reborn met with Armaans, and Brandis met with both Dala Arand and Ben Gareth, one of the Blackwheel Company’s prophecy scholars.

Early on the morning of 13 Vult, Citadel agents arrived at Fortune’s Gate and informed the party that they had orders to take them to Citadel Headquarters. They also told the party that they should bring supplies with them for an extended journey in the wild. When the party arrived at Citadel Headquarters, they found that security was tighter than usual. They were met by Lt. Nixon, who sequestered them and told them that they would be ushered into a conference room shortly. When they approach the conference room, they see a large warforged dressed in the livery of the King’s Shields by the door. In the conference room, they find Lt. Nixon, Col. Yusef Karlach, Capt. D’Deneith, and a shadowy figure by the fire. The warforged King’s Shield follows the party into the room. At this point, Lt. Nixon announces the presence of the King of Breland, Boranel, who rises from his seat by the fire.

King Boranel explains why the party has been summoned. His youngest children, Halix and Borina, had returned to Breland from their liaison duties in Karrnath to celebrate their birthday. As a part of the festivities, the twins had decided to take a short hunting trip in the King’s Forest. They were accompanied by Haydith, the sister of King Kaius III, who was serving as a liaison in the Brelish Court. The three royal teenagers were being protected by Tyran Smyth, one of the King’s Shields, and his iron defender. The royal teenagers and their escort were overdue, and the rings that heirs wore as scrying foci all showed the same scene and were immobile. Regardless of the outcome, King Boranel wanted to try to keep this incident out of the public eye or at least control the spin. To that end, he involved Col. Karlach (the Karrnathi military liaison in Wroat) and Lt. Nixon in the mission planning. Both men recommended that the party perform the mission, based on their performance during the necromantic plague and their reputation for discretion. King Boranel called in a favor with the Blackwheel Company to secure the party’s services. Desperate to find his children and avoid an international incident with Karrnath, King Boranel requested that the party search the woods and deal with any nefarious elements that might be involved.

After accepting the mission, the party travelled by magebred horse to the edge of the King’s Forest, following the planned route of the Brelish and Karrnathi heirs. Once in the forest, Brandis used his skills to track the heirs through the forest. Late that day, the party found the heirs’ camp but decided not to search it until they had the light of day. The party camped for the night and then rose early to search the heirs’ camp. The party found signs of struggle. The rings that the Citadel used to track the heirs were all found in the camp’s fire pit, along with other jewelry. Kryle and Brandis both found kobold scales around the camp, but Kryle was unable to determine if they belonged to iredar or irvhir kobolds. Brandis was able to pick up the kobolds’ trail and determined that they were accompanied by four medium humanoids. For the remainder of the day, the party followed the kobolds’ trail. The trail followed a ruined road of Dhakaani construction. As the sun was setting, the road began to climb into some rolling hills.

After camping for the night, the party continued following the ruined road into the hills. Shortly, the road crested a ridge. The road continued along the ridge before descending into a valley. The valley was lush and overgrown and divided by a stream that emptied into a medium-sized lake. At the far end of the valley, there were walled ruins that appeared to be of Dhakaani construction. The party decided to continue following the road. As they entered the valley, Brandis and Kryle stealthily advanced towards the bridge over the stream, while Reborn and Illiyana waited in the rear. Once the bridge had been cleared, Reborn and Illiyana followed Brandis and Kryle. Brandis and Kryle advanced again, reaching a bend in the road from which they could gain a better view into the walled ruins. Not seeing any obvious surveillance or guards, Kryle advanced to the walls, while Brandis waited for Reborn and Illiyana. Kryle surveyed the ruins; a courtyard separated the wall from the main ruins, which were built into the hillside. The words “Temple of the True Name” were engraved in draconic, goblin, and orc on the lintel above the main entrance to the ruins. Kryle saw movement inside the main entrance of the ruins but couldn’t make out who or what was moving.

Kryle climbed the wall and then glided across the courtyard, landing on the ledge above main entrance. He peeked in the entrance and saw four kobold warriors standing watch over two kobold prisoners. Sampling the air, Kryle detected the scent of both iredar and irvhir kobolds within the ruins. Judging by the circumstances, it was obvious that the prisoners were from Kryle’s tribe. Kryle leapt down and began attacking the four elite irvhir warriors in an attempt to free his tribesmen. Seeing Kryle strike, the other party members began running towards the main entrance to the ruins. Two of the irvhir kobolds drew slings and began attacking the advancing party members, while Kryle engaged the other two irvhir in melee combat. The party made short work of the four irvhir and freed Kryle’s tribesmen, Kibbo and Jarrdreg. The party saw that Kibbo and Jarrdreg had been set to work breaking up a large obsidian obelisk in the center of the entrance hall. The obelisk was covered with a frieze of three large dragons, two of which are engaged in mortal combat. The walls of the entry hall were inscribed with words in draconic, goblin, and orc; the party decided to return to the hall later to study the inscriptions. The entry hall had passages to the east, north, and west.

Kryle asked Kibbo and Jarrdreg about the strength of the irvhir forces. He also asked whether or not they had seen any humans being held by the irvhir. Kryle’s tribesmen estimated the strength of the irvhir at about 30 or 40 adults. They indicated that the irvhir were being led by a self-styled king of the kobolds. The power behind the throne, however, was an odd kobold prophet who seemed obsessed with the strange writings in the Temple of the True Name. Kibbo and Jarrdreg indicated that the kobold warrens could be found by following the passage to the east.

Following the kobolds’ directions, the party headed down the passage to the east. They passed through a large room with a pool of molten rock in its center. A doorway to the north opened into a passage that continued north and also branched off to the west. The party continued north and arrived at a large pair of open, metal doors. Beyond the doors was a circular chamber with an ornate pillar running from floor to ceiling. The pillar was made or stone encrusted with a strange mineral and banded at points along its length with mithril and adamantine. The chamber had exits to the north and to the west, each with a pair of large, metal doors. The doors to the north opened out into another passage, while the doors to the west were closed.

Brandis, Kryle, and Illiyana cautiously entered the chamber, leaving Reborn just outside the open doors. Suddenly, the pillar in the center of the room crackled with electricity, which arced out towards the party. The doors to the north and south swung shut, separating Reborn from the rest of the party, and the doors to the west swung open. The party members in the chamber felt a sudden pull towards the pillar, and Illiyana was dragged towards it and became stuck. Kryle struggled to keep his weapons from being pulled from his hands and managed to do so. The doorway to the west opened into a small room. Kryle and Brandis figured that the mechanism to disable the trap might be in the small room, so they went to take a look. As Kryle approached the small room, he was attacked by a gelatinous cube that had been held in the room. Brandis and Kryle attacked the cube, trying to get it away from the small room and protect Illiyana, who was still stuck to the pillar. Brandis managed to make it into the small room but didn’t find any visible release mechanism. Meanwhile, Reborn was trying to knock the doors open from the outside. After a few tense moments, Illiyana was able to wrench herself free, and the party dispatched the gelatinous cube. After the battle, Kryle study the small side chamber and the pillar and discovered that the trap could be released by another jolt of electricity. Since no one in the circular chamber had the means to generate electricity, the party tried to force the southern doors open with Reborn’s help. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the trap automatically reset itself, opening the doors. Not wanting to spring the trap again, Kryle studied the chamber and determined that there was a safe path to cross the room. The party followed the path and headed through the northern doors into another short passage.

After being surprised by the trap, the party cautiously headed down the short passage towards a set of closed, double doors. Kryle checked the doors for traps. Finding nothing amiss and the doors unlocked, the party proceeded into the room beyond. The room appeared to have been used for meditation, with moldering mats spread across the floor and rolled up along the walls. A doorway to the north opened into another room; above the doorway were the words “Chamber of the True Name” in draconic, goblin, and orc. In the next room, there was a large opening in the floor that appeared to have been a set of ruined, circular stairs descending into the darkness. The kobolds had apparently built a crude elevator to move between the Temple of the True Name and their warrens below. After examining the elevator, Brandis and Reborn determined that the elevator would not be able to accommodate the whole party’s weight. Therefore, the party descended the elevator in shifts.

The elevator descended into a large natural cavern. Prophecy marks covered the walls and floor of the cavern. The party decided to return to cavern after dealing with the kobolds to study the prophecy. After a few minutes of searching, the party found a narrow break in the wall that led into an even narrower tunnel. Kryle was able to enter the tunnel was ease, but everyone else had to squeeze into the space. The tunnel opened up to a height of about sixteen feet with ledges on both sides of the tunnel at a height of eight feet. The party was ambushed by four kobolds (Dark Talons) hiding on the ledges. After a grueling battle, the party managed to kill the kobolds. The party advanced into a winding tunnel that led to a small cavern with three wide tunnels (heading east, north and west) and three narrow tunnels (heading northwest, southeast, and northeast). Sensing another ambush, Kryle snuck down the nearest narrow tunnel and found another of the Dark Talons lying in wait. He surprised his enemy and attacked the Dark Talon. In the main chamber, two kobolds carrying spears (Bloodscales) emerged from the western passage and advanced on the party. Two additional Dark Talons emerged from the other narrow tunnels. The battle was savage but brief and ended in the party’s favor. The party discussed which path to follow before heading north.

The tunnel north branched, with one branch continuing north and the other heading east. The party continued north and the tunnel widened a bit. Suddenly, some strange fungi growing on the walls of the tunnel began shrieking. Amid the ear-piercing shrieks, the party heard the sound of movement and raised voices in draconic ahead. Shortly, a lone kobold appeared in the tunnel ahead of the party and then turned tail and ran. The party followed the kobold, and the tunnel opened into a very large cavern that appeared to be the kobolds’ main living quarters. The party was immediately attacked by eight common kobold warriors and two Bloodscales. Initially, the party began wading through the common kobold warriors, making short work of them. Unfortunately, the tide of battle started to turn when some more common kobold warriors poured out of the tunnel behind the party. The common kobold warriors swarmed the party, while the Bloodscales used their superior skills to harry them. However, the kobolds’ rally was brief, and the party eventually slaughtered their enemies.

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Entering the Barrow

The party spent the remainder of 10 Sypheros in Woodhelm, tending to the 300 or so villagers being held in the monastery basement and searching the village for additional survivors. In the early afternoon, the party found an additional 100 villagers locked in the basement of the town hall. They encountered no additional resistance in the village. By all appearances, the majority of the Emerald Claw forces appeared to have withdrawn once the town was subdued and its inhabitants imprisoned. Apparently, only the forces that the party already defeated had been left behind to tend to the remaining villagers.

The following day, Reborn and Kryle worked on repairing Reborn’s wounds and fixing Kryle’s kukri. Illiyana worked on healing the villagers’ wounds and soothing their fears. Brandis, invigorated by his proximity to the wild, headed out to scout the trail towards the Barrow in the late morning. Brandis traveled for several hours without finding any trace of undead or Emerald Claw soldiers. The trail was improved but, until recently, appeared little used. Brandis detected that a large band of humanoids had been marched along this trail within the last month. He also discovered the footprints of what appeared to be a very large constructs headed both towards and away from Woodhelm. As night began to fall, Brandis found a place to perform his nightly druidic devotions and rest. During the night, Brandis was awakened by the sound of movement in the woods. It sounded as though a small group was moving through the underbrush, perpendicular to the trail. Brandis was undetected, but the spent the night in fitful sleep nonetheless.

In the morning, Brandis broke camp and examined the trail and surrounding woods in the area where he had heard the movement during the night. He discovered undisguised footprints from a pair of humanoids. After making this discovery, Brandis headed back towards Woodhelm. Brandis traveled for a couple of hours on the trail and then heard movement coming up the travel towards him. It sounded like the heavy footfalls of a construct. Concerned that the newcomers might not be friendly, given the construct tracks that he found and the patrol from the night before, Brandis scooted off the trail and waited to strike if necessary. Brandis soon saw Kryle and Reborn lumber into view. Kryle and Reborn sensed someone in the woods off the trail and drew weapons, not realizing that it was their comrade. When Brandis revealed himself, Reborn and Kryle sheathed their weapons, and the druid spent the next few moments filling his comrades in on what he had found on the trail ahead.

The party spent the remainder of day walking the trail towards the Barrow. Shortly after dark, the party came to the end of the improved trail. The trail continued in the direction of the Barrow, but it was little more than a rough track through the canopy whereon the underbrush had recently been hacked and trampled to make it passable. There was a small hunting camp just off the improved trail with a fire pit surrounded by several lean-tos. The camp was unoccupied, but appeared to have been used the night before. Searching the area, Brandis saw humanoid tracks running away from the camp, perpendicular to the trail. In the distance, the party saw smoke rising from the woods, as if from a campfire. The party was concerned that the previous nights’ residents or a roving patrol might come upon them if they spent the night in the camp. Therefore, they decided to set up a camp a short distance away in the woods and posted a guard.

During the first watch of the night, Brandis heard the approach of a patrol and roused his comrades. Two Karrnathi zombies emerged from the woods. A brief battle ensued in which Kryle used his stealth and the terrain to his advantage. The next morning (13 Sypheros), the party broke camp and headed along the bushwhacked trail. They had the unnerving sense that they were being watched from the woods as they traveled. After a couple of hours, Kryle decided to try to figure out who was watching them. He darted into the woods beside the trail, hoping that none of the watchers would see where he went. Shortly, Kryle sensed urgent movement on the other side of the trail, as the watchers tried to discern his location. Finally, one of the watchers stepped onto the road to confront the party and gage their intentions: Pator, leader of Woodhelm’s rangers. After a few tense moments, other rangers dropped their cover and joined Pator on the trail.

From the rangers, the party learned that about 75 of the villagers were killed in the initial assault of the Emerald Claw operatives and the undead platoon and during the subsequent flight. The village’s defenders were able to escape the slaughter with about a quarter of Woodhelm’s population (200 villagers), heading to fortified caves in the forest ridge used to ride out attacks during the Last War. The Gatekeeper druids who resided in the village used their spells to hamper the attacking forces and speed the escaping villagers through the dense underbrush. Half of the rangers and one of the druids were lost during the flight. Since the attack, the rangers have been attacking undead patrols in the forest and have destroyed or damaged over a dozen Karrnathi zombies in the last few weeks. The rangers have also been keeping an eye on the village during that time, looking for opportunities to liberate it. Shortly after the battle, they saw a large contruct being used to collect the bodies of the fallen. The bodies were carted back to the Barrow. As the occupation continued, over 100 of the imprisoned villagers were marched from Woodhelm to the Barrow as well. Within the last week, two of the Emerald Claw operatives in town loaded the construct and some crates from the Barrow into a wagon and left, heading north.

The party suggested that the rangers retrieve the villagers hiding in the fortified caves and organize a defense of the village while they proceeded to the Barrow. However, Pator informed the party that the villagers could not be relocated in time to organize a proper defense. He told the party that he and his rangers would return to the town to aid its defenders. He told them that he would drop any supplies that they needed at the hunting camp. Finally, Pator gave the party additional information about the Barrow: its location, points of entry, and a small cave a half-day’s journey from it that the rangers had been using as a base of operations. After providing this information, Pator and his rangers headed back to town, and the party headed to the cave Pator mentioned.

As the bushwhacked trail turned towards the Barrow, the party found the small deer trail that led to the cave. Brandis was able to detect that the deer trail was traversed by both animals and humanoids, so the party was on its guard. Kryle scouted a head of the party as they traveled. Late in the afternoon, he sensed movement in the underbrush of the trail and went for a look. He saw a patrol of three skeletons being led by a Karrnathi zombie. Kryle began a stealthy assault, making short work of some of the undead before the patrol reached the road. After Brandis and Reborn became aware of the patrol and joined the fray, the undead were quickly subdued. Just around nightfall, the party arrived at the cave and set up their watch. During the night, they heard and saw a patrol of Emerald Claw Soldiers moving along the deer trail. The soldiers didn’t detect their presence, so Kryle decided to bait them into an ambush. Pursuing his foes and attacking them at range, Kryle got them to chase him back towards the cave and straight into Reborn. The party subdued the soldiers but did not kill them, hoping instead to interrogate them and gain information on the Barrow. At first, the soldiers’ religious zealotry helped them resist the party’s threats; however, Kryle eventually wore them down. It was decided that they soldiers would be restrained and left in the cave for the time being.

Armed with the information from the Emerald Claw soldiers, the party headed towards the Barrow on the morning of 14 Sypheros. By early afternoon, they had reached the upper entrance to the Barrow. Kryle’s reconnaissance indicated the presence of two Karrnathi zombies on guard. As the party planned their assault, they saw a dread marshal join the guards at the entrance. Believing that the best approach was a direct one in this case, the party rushed in to fight the undead head on. The dread marshal used its impressive supernatural abilities to enhance its troops and hammer the party. Despite its powers, the party dispatched the undead in short order, with Kryle and Reborn demonstrating a solid use of combat tactics. The party proceeded down a spiral staircase towards Barrow’s main entrance. At the entrance, the party found that the door was locked and that the locking mechanism was keyed to three colored levers (red, blue and green) located on a nearby panel. Kryle quickly detected the presence of a trap on the door, but the party could not determine the type of trap or the sequence of lever pulls to render it safe. At this point, Reborn had the idea to use the corpse of the dread marshal to pull the levers remotely. He used his growing psionic powers to accomplish the task. The first attempt was a failure, triggering an electrical surge that fried the dread marshal and sent an arc of electricity to the nearby Reborn as well. The party studied the trap again after the first discharge and was able to determine the most likely sequence of lever pulls. Reborn used the dread marshal to test the new theory, and the door popped open.

The party entered the Barrow on the parade field described by Col. Karlach. In the center of the parade field were two large piles of putrefying corpses, villagers of Woodhelm killed in the initial assault. To the left and the right were a series of identical rooms; the doors to these rooms seemed to be barred magically and a series of incomplete runes marked most doors. On one of the doors, the runes had be completed and glowed red. The party carefully cracked the door to this room and found two damaged Karrnathi zombies being attended by a strange undead creature which appeared to be nothing more than a mass of humanoid limbs held together by a great cold iron band. Seeing that the strange undead was apparently healing the Karrnathi zombies, the party focused their attacks on it. When the strange undead was finally destroyed, it exploded, filling the room with unholy energy that harmed the party and healed the undead. Without their healer, the Karrnathi zombies were quickly destroyed.

The party then descended into the research area of the Barrow, feeling that this would be the most likely place to find Ermena Thul. Through their investigations, the party came across two alchemy laboratories, one of which was still outfitted with laboratory equipment. The party found two vials of unknown liquid in laboratory. The party also came across two dome-shaped summoning chambers on the research level. One of them had been barred and was cloaked in darkness. When Kryle explored that chamber, he found a roiling ball of shadow at the center of a damaged summoning circle surrounded by the desiccated corpses of villagers. The party wisely decided to leave that horror to be dealt with at a later date. Lastly, the party came across the remaining villagers of Woodhelm in the holding cells and undead preparation rooms of the research level. All of the villagers looked starved and abused, but most looked like they would recover with time. The villagers told the party that they hadn’t seen Ermena or her followers in the research level in close to two days. Rather than having the villagers roaming the halls un attended, the party left them imprisoned with a promise to return when Ermena was dealt with.

The party headed up into the residential level of the Barrow, conducting a door to door search. Eventually, they came upon three Emerald Claw soldiers enjoying some leisure time between patrols. Kryle and Reborn caught the soldiers unaware and dispatched them quickly. Brandis hung back waiting for a ranged shot to join combat, but the battle was over before one opened up. Proceeding towards the ranking officer’s quarters, the party was startled by the singing of a small child off to their right. Rather than investigate immediately, Kryle quietly jammed the lock to the room from which the singing originated, and the party set about conducting a thorough search of the remaining rooms in the residential area. They found a secret room adjacent to well-appointed quarters that appeared to have belonged to the facility’s senior researcher during its occupation by the Karrnathi military. In the secret room, they found a plethora of ancient scrolls and tomes. They also found a large crystal ball in which was suspended the dried skin of a humanoid. The skin appeared to have been taken from an elf, and the face seemed to be contorted in a scream. The crystal ball was so large that it would barely fit through the door to the room.

After making these discoveries and encountering no further resistance, the party headed back towards the room in which the girl was singing. Kryle unjammed the lock, and the party entered the room. They found a large dining area with two tables, one small and round and the other long and rectangular. Four common zombies sat at the large rectangular table. Each zombie was adorned with a wooden placard onto which a name had been scrawled, and each had a fine table setting laid out before it. As the party approached the small round table, they caught sight of the source of the singing for the first time. A young girl—or what was once a young girl—sat of the floor with a doll and a small porcelain tea set. As the creature pretended to serve tea to her doll, she was singing to herself. Her skin was gray and dead, and her eyes were clouded and sunken. Noticing the party, she exclaimed, “I played with Sarah and Billy and Mary and Jack,” indicating each of the zombies in turn, “and now I want to play with you!” She lunged at the party, attempting to bite Kryle. The zombies sprang to life and joined the fray. Brandis was reluctant to attack the diminutive undead because of its childlike appearance, so he focused on the zombies. After receiving punishing blows from Kryle and Reborn, the undead girl cried out for her “mother.” Shortly, a tall, raven-haired, pale-skinned woman carrying a flail appeared from a passage to the rear of the room. Two more zombies accompanied the woman, who the party surmised was Ermena Thul. Seeing her minions and “child” under attack, Ermena entered the fray casting spells. A spectral hand appeared hovering above her, and she sent it out to touch Brandis. He left a hollow feeling in his chest but could sense no immediate harm. Next, Ermena attempted to instill fear in Kryle’s heart, but the stalwart kobold shrugged off her spell. Brandis summoned a swarm of spiders and was using it to harry Ermena, while Kryle advanced on her position and Reborn finished the last of the zombies. Moving to avoid the swarm, Ermena directed another spell towards Brandis and the hollow feeling in his chest changed to one of excruciating pressure. The druid crumpled to the ground unconscious. Kryle and Reborn pressed their attack, battering Ermena until she fell to the ground near death. On her person, Kryle found two finely crafted rings, a finely crafted flail, and a wand. Kryle and Reborn bound Ermena and got Brandis on his feet again. Curiously, they found that some of Brandis’ injuries were resistant to magical healing, and Brandis noticed a lump of grayish flesh on his chest.

Searching Ermena’s quarters, the party found Illiyana’s adopted father, Claudius, bound and gagged in one of the side rooms. Once Claudius was free, the party proceeded to the research level and set about freeing the remaining citizens of Woodhelm. Brandis noticed that many of the villagers also had grayish masses on parts of their bodies, which they described as having appeared at the touch of Ermena or one of her apprentices. Fearful that Brandis and the villagers might be carriers of the necromantic plague or something worse, the party required that all of the afflicted people remain at the Barrow until they could be examined by clerics from the village. Kryle and Reborn headed back to the village to fetch Illiyana. They also decided that it would be best to use the airship to begin ferrying the healthy villagers back to Woodhelm. Leaving the Barrow for Woodhelm, Kryle and Reborn carried off some items that they had recovered in the Barrow that they didn’t want the Brelish or Karrnathi governments to get their hands on.

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28 Days Later - Part 2

After leaving Lt. Roland Nixon’s office and returning to the Rusty Sock, the party brought Cordain up to speed on recent events and then spent the evening pursuing their usual pastimes/vices. On the following morning (27 Rhaan), Kryle headed out to the Blackwheel Company headquarters in the Ambassador Towers district to offer his services as a full-time operative and to receive some weapons training with his recently acquired kukri. Cordain headed to an armorer to place an order for some masterwork full plate armor and then joined Kryle at the Blackwheel Company headquarters, offering his services as a freelance operative. Kryle received an assignment from the Company to perform surveillance on an emissary of Baron Jorlana d’Cannith who was visiting Sharn. After House Cannith’s involvement with the schema debacle, the other Houses wanted the Blackwheel Company to keep an eye on Cannith activity in Sharn. Cordain was given a task performing guard duty for some artifacts that the Company had recently acquired from Xen’drik. After recovering from the previous evening’s festivities, Brandis headed out into Sharn to forage for whatever resources he could use in the crafting of his bow. Illiyana dutifully went to work in the temple, while Reborn decided to skip work and instead hone his hrazhak skills in a few pick up games. After everyone returned from their daily activities, the evening passed uneventfully.

In the morning, Lt. Nixon sent a Citadel agent and a skycoach to fetch the party. He wanted to update them on the situation in Black Arch garrison and give them some leads in their investigation of possible Emerald Claw involvement in the plague. Lt. Nixon told the party that the Citadel team that had disappeared in northern Breland while looking for the necro-arsenal had consisted of a leader, two warriors, and a rogue. The infected zombie that the party dispatched in Foundation had been identified as the rogue.

According to Lt. Nixon, the Black Arch garrison was forced to lift the quarantine on refugees from Foundation and allow them to enter the garrison for screening prior to resettlement because of increasing undead attacks. While initial reports from Foundation indicated that only zombies were carriers of the necromantic plague, it seemed that the disease had begun to affect other undead as well. There were also rumors that the disease was even capable of reanimating those who had been dead and buried for quite some time. Many of these rumors could not be verified, but the plague was planning spreading despite efforts to control it. Lt. Nixon gave the party the names of two members of the Sharn Watch in order to jumpstart their investigation: Captain Daja Brel of the Guardians of the Gate and Commander Lian Halamar of the Daggerwatch garrison.

After leaving Citadel headquarters, the party headed to Black Arch garrison to meet Cpt. Brel. Cpt. Brel leads the Guardians of the Gate, an elite branch of the Sharn Watch that is responsible for monitoring the activities of immigrants and foreign nationals in Sharn. Cpt. Brel directed the party to her chief investigator, Guardian Six. Guardian Six gave the party an earful about jurisdiction when she heard that their investigation was being conducted under the auspices of the Citadel. She also took issue with the fact that the Citadel and the party assumed that Karrns were involved in the plague simply because it involved undead. Eventually, the party managed to win her over, and she provided them with contact information for two prominent Karrns in Sharn (Falko Dorn and Lan Hazal) and some information on Graywall, an insular district populated mostly with Karrnathi immigrants. Falko Dorn is a well-known Karrnathi composer, and Lan Hazal is the leader of the Graywall community. She also let the party know that the Sharn Watch is aware of Emerald Claw activity in Sharn but has yet to pin down their base of operations. As the party left her office, Brandis and Reborn noticed Guardian Six changing her face in one of the mirrors, indicating that she is a changeling.

The party left the Black Arch garrison behind, heading to the Daggerwatch distict in Upper Dura. They made their way to the Daggerwatch garrison in the hopes that they could speak with Cdr. Halamar. After waiting for two hours for an audience (it pays to make appointments!), they were finally able to meet with the halfling commander shortly before he left the office for the day. The party decided not to mention that they were working for the Citadel, since it had provoked such a negative response from the Guardians of the Gate. Instead, they used Cpt. Brel’s name as a reference when Cdr. Halamar inquired about the purpose of their visit. Cdr. Halamar filled the party in about Dura and some of its districts, including Fallen, the Stores, and Precarious. He informed them about the activities of organized crime (Boromar Clan, Daask, and the Tyrants) in the Stores and warned them to be cautious engaging the Wharf Watch. He also asked that the party keep him in the loop if their investigation led to any of the districts under his charge. Kryle suspected that Cdr. Halamar was involved with the Boromar Clan and informed the party of his suspicions after the meeting.

After speaking with the Cdr. Halamar, the investigation seemed to have hit a dead end, since the party was unwilling to approach either of the Karrns that Guardian Six had suggested without any proof of the Emerald Claw’s involvement. The party discussed their options at length, with most of the party advocating either approaching the Karrns or setting up surveillance in the Stores. Brandis favored leaving Sharn behind in search of the necro-arsenal in northern Breland. Ultimately, the party settled on a plan to visit to the Karrns the following day and retired to the Rusty Sock for the evening.

The following day was 1 Sypheros, which adherents of the Silver Flame celebrate as the Ascension. In the morning, the party gathered at the Rusty Sock and decided that visiting Falko Dorn in the Smoky Towers district would be the best course of action. When Brandis awoke from his alcohol induced stupor and joined the others in the Rusty Sock’s common room, he found that he had been robbed. He was able to use his tracking ability to determine that a tiny creature had approached his bed while he slept, but he was unable to pinpoint any suspects. Before heading over to Smoky Towers, the party decided to visit Graywall to purchase some Karrnathi delicacies (Nightwood ale, stinky cheese, and some bread) as a gift to secure Falko Dorn’s cooperation. When the party reached Falko’s residence, he was just finishing a very late breakfast. He was very cooperative, sharing his knowledge of Karrnathi history and religion and his experiences with the Graywall community. He suggested that it would be difficult for the party to get answers in Graywall because of bad blood between the community and the city authorities stretching back to the Last War. As the leader of the community, Lan Hazal would be subject to unfavorable scrutiny if he was seen cooperating with agents of the Sharn Watch or the Citadel. Falko suggested that the party attend his recital at the Atrium on 4 Sypheros, since prominent members of the Graywall community would be attending and they might be able to speak with Lan Hazal privately. When asked about resources regarding necromancy (particularly that practiced in Karrnath), Falko told the party that he had no knowledge of such things but that Lan Hazal had an extensive library and might have some scholarly texts on the subject.

After the party left Falko’s residence, there was another lengthy discussion about how best to proceed with the investigation, which prompted Kryle to depart for Mockery’s Forge in the hopes that his underworld contacts could give him a lead. Erasmet told Kryle about a business in the Stores district, Fortune’s Gate, which sometimes handled body smuggling. Erasmet had used Fortune’s Gate in the past to smuggle warforged bodies and grafts into and out of Sharn. He told Kryle to talk to the proprietor of Fortune’s Gate, Saal Ebinor. As an aside, Erasmet told Kryle that he might have a lead on Reborn’s remaining armor. Apparently, an Aundairian collector of antiquities and oddities named Ari Maartel was holding private showings of his collection in Fairhaven. The description of one of the displays in his collection bore a striking resemblance to the plates and studs that Erasmet had sold to the party.

Armed with this new information, the party headed off to the Stores, intending to spend the night. They ended up at a tavern/inn called the Bloody Mug. Conversation around the Bloody Mug focused on the plague raging two districts over and the fear that it could spread to the Stores. Cordain and Kryle were able to dig up some rumors about possible involvement of “foreigners from the north” in the plague, but no one was specific about who the foreigners were or where they were in the district. The party decided to do some reconnaissance the next day.

The party went to Fortune’s Gate the next day and met with Saal Ebinor. It was obvious that Saal was hiding something, and Kryle, Cordain, and Reborn did their best to convince him to come clean. However, their efforts were in vain, and Saal demanded that they leave. The party staked out Fortune’s Gate, waiting for cover of darkness to enter and reconnoiter. Kryle went in first, with Brandis and Illiyana shadowing him. Kryle was able to catch Saal by surprise in his study and take him hostage. The party was exiting the building with Saal in tow when Brandis inadvertently made too much noise and alerted the warehouse guards. Two Emerald Claw soldiers attacked the party, and Saal managed to wrestle free and join the fray. Kryle defeated one of the Emerald Claw soldiers quickly, but the remaining soldier managed to put up a bit of fight before Kryle and Brandis finished him off. Kryle delivered the killing blow, ripping out the man’s throat with his teeth. Illyana and Cordain were occupied with fighting Saal in the staircase, but Saal eventually surrendered when he heard the second Emerald Claw soldier’s death throes. Saal told the party that the only Emerald Claw operatives that he saw were the two soldiers and a priest but that they had forbidden him to enter the back part of the warehouse once they took up residence. The party headed to the back of the warehouse and was ambushed by two hulking undead monstrosities, plague walkers. Kryle, Cordain, Reborn and Brandis quickly dispatched the first plague walker, while the second plague walker focused on Illiyana and Saal (who was being held captive at this point). The rest of the party attacked the remaining plague walker, but it was still able to knock Illiyana unconscious before self-destructing. The resulting blast wounded the entire party, very nearly killing Illiyana, and everyone was briefly sickened. Fortunately, Brandis was able to stabilize Illiyana and Saal, and the Illiyana was able to bring the party back to fighting strength with her healing spells.

The party pressed the attack and headed into the back of the warehouse. There, they found the priest of Vol surrounded by two ornate sarcophagi and two crude coffins. When the party moved in to attack, two zombies shambled from the shadows to defend the priest. Illiyana was able to channel her divine power to turn the zombies, and Cordain quickly dispatched on of them with his trusty longsword. The priest attacked Kryle, using a spell to instill a powerful fear in the kobold that sent him fleeing from the room. Cordain and Reborn were able to trap the priest while Illiyana and Brandis peppered him and the remaining zombie from range. The party made quick work of their foes and then searched the warehouse for clues. The two sarcophagi and one of the coffins were empty, clearly having been used to transport undead into the city. The second coffin contained an infected zombie wearing a Citadel uniform, which the party quickly dispatched. Two letters were found among the priest’s belongings: one between the priest (Gustavus Karlach) and his superior in the north (Ermena Thul) and the other between Gustavus and an unidentified female benefactor in Sharn. The party also recovered a barrel of preserving pine filled with blood and a mithril chain shirt that were apparently part of Gustavus’ offering to his benefactor.

Since it was night and help from the Citadel couldn’t be arranged until the following day, the party dug in and guarded the warehouse and their prisoner until morning.

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28 Days Later - Part 1

The action picked up on the morning of 22 Barrakas, the day after the party’s return from the ruins of Dorasharn. Being Sul, everyone spent the day relaxing and passing the time with various distractions: hrazhak (Reborn); gambling, whoring, drinking and proselytizing (Brandis); praying (Illiyana); watching Brandis win/lose his money (Kryle). Bright and early on Mol, Kryle headed out and offered his services to the Blackwheel Company and Reborn and Illyana headed out to look for work in their respective trades. Reborn found work with a blacksmith in Tavick’s Market, and Illiyana found work in a small temple of the Host.

The next month passed quickly as the party members acclimated themselves to Sharn and toiled away at their new jobs (except Brandis who spent most of his time gambling, drinking and whoring). The Blackwheel Company made good use of Kryle’s skills, sending him to quietly “retrieve” some artifacts and eliminate a troublesome, non-dragonmarked member of one of the lesser Houses. Reborn continued to work for the blacksmith during the day and spent his free time looking for his missing parts. He also developed a keen interest in hrazhak and started playing in some pick-up games. Brandis also developed an interest in hrazhak and lost a sizable sum of money gambling on the sport with Boz. Illiyana was diligent in her duties at the temple, using her skill with alchemy to prepare healing remedies for the sick. During her time at the temple, she began to hear rumors of an unusual plague spreading through Lower Tavick’s Landing.

On the evening of 21 Rhaan, Sgt. Baldur Dolom and a small contingent of the Sharn Watch arrived at the Rusty Sock looking for the party. Baldur was seeking the party’s aid for a mission to rescue his sister from the Foundation district of Lower Tavick’s Landing. Like her twin brother, Freyda is a sergeant in the Sharn Watch and was stationed in the Black Arch district adjacent to Foundation. Black Arch is a heavily patrolled and heavily fortified district because it represents a primary point of travel between the lower wards and the rest of the city. Recently, reports of undead attacks in Foundation prompted the Watch to dispatch details to the adjacent district to investigate. The first detail returned with casualties and confirmation of the undead threat. Freyda’s detail was dispatched to investigate further, and it didn’t return. The loss of the details and the spread of the plague prompted the Watch to close Black Arch. Since his superiors wouldn’t allow Baldur to enter Black Arch, he came to the party and offered them 500 galifars for their help.

The party agreed and headed to Black Arch garrison early the following morning to meet with Captain Elias Ketch, Freyda’s superior. Elias explained the situation in Foundation and described the nature of the plague that gripped the district. Apparently, mindless undead (zombies) were spreading a necromantic plague in the district that turned its victims into zombies. The sergeant from the first Watch detail dispatched to Foundation had been injured by the zombies and had returned with a strange illness. After succumbing to his injuries, the sergeant promptly rose as a zombie and killed the chaplain and two of his assistants who were performing last rites. After this incident, Black Arch was closed, and the Watch began monitoring the refugees fleeing Foundation for signs of illness. Those affected were being quarantined on a landing outside the outside the fortifications of Black Arch Garrison. Elias was able to provide the party with a map of foundation, as well as the planned patrol route for Freyda’s detail and a general suggestion on where it might seek refuge. He also provided the party with access to the garrison arsenal and magical flare to call in aerial transport once the detail was located.

Armed with the information and supplies from Capt. Ketch, the party headed into Foundation. They party fought their way along the patrol route, encountering zombies and carcass eaters along the way. One of the zombies wore the insignia of the King’s Citadel and carried official identification. A victim of the carcass eaters was found with 25 doses of dreamlily, which Kryle pocketed. Eventually, the party found the survivors of Freyda’s Watch detail in a tavern called the Winchester. Two of the guards had been killed, and one of the remaining guards was sick. Five commoners had also taken refuge in the tavern. Since it would soon be dark, the party decided that it would be best to make a break for one of the skybridges and signal their transportation. Freyda and her guards agreed. Kryle agreed to scout ahead and set off the magical flare, since he was the quickest and stealthiest member of the group.

As the group reached the skybridge, it was attacked by a group of four zombies, one of whom had been a guard in Freyda’s detail. Kryle managed to activate the flare before the zombies saw him, and then the battle was joined. While Kryle, Illyana, Reborn and the remaining members of the Watch made short work of the zombies, Brandis bravely protected the commoners. Shortly after the last zombie fell, the rescue airship arrived and carried the group back to Black Arch garrison. The party reported the events of the mission to Capt. Ketch. He was particularly interested in the zombie that wore the insignia of the King’s Citadel and took possession of the regalia found on that body. The party collected their payment and headed back to the Rusty Sock. The following day, Kryle reported the events of the party’s mission to his superiors in the Blackwheel Company.

The necromantic plague continued to rage in Foundation, accompanied by lurid images in the Sharn Inquisitive of the Sharn Watch in Black Arch garrison turning back fleeing citizens. After a few days, the party received an official summons from Lieutenant Nixon of the King’s Dark Lanterns. The party traveled to the headquarters of the Citadel in the Ambassador Towers district on 26 Rhaan. Lt. Nixon questioned the party about the zombie wearing the regalia of the King’s Citadel. He explained that the unfortunate agent had been part of a group dispatched to investigate a Karrnathi necro-arsenal found in northern Breland. The Karrns built these necro-arsenals in areas that they occupied during the Last War. While the Karrns denied involvement in the necromantic plague now raging in Foundation, the appearance of the zombie agent suggested that someone else (possibly the Emerald Claw) had gained control of the abandoned necro-arsenal and its contents. Lt. Nixon asked the party to assist with the investigation of Karrnathi/Emerald Claw activity in Sharn, since the Watch was being stretched to its limits holding the line in Black Arch. The party agreed to help and decided to focus on the warehouse districts of Lower Dura as possible points of entry for the saboteurs.

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