Eberron - The Exigency of War

The Companions

I have started this separate journal to dictate notes on my business with the Dark Lanterns, and the five colleagues aiding these clandestine efforts. It is a sheer folly to scribble down these thoughts. For if discovered, each stroke of this pen would be an invitation to assassins from every dark corner of this city. So perhaps I light the fuse here to my own end, but it entertains me to pen these secrets. And besides, what does a crippled ruin of a nobleman have to lose?

We began work almost two years ago, doing work for our enigmatic patron Lucan. The work was dangerous and lucrative but spotty, and I do not think I will detail it here other than to give my first impressions of my fellow cat’s paws.

Hagar, a stout soldier and fellow countrymen of Karranath, is nearly my father’s age but battles back the siege of years. Tougher than any of us, the man simply refuses to fall in a fight. He’s one of our group I might someday call friend. One day I will have to explain my secrets to him and test the trust we’ve forged so far.

Samc, our group’s primary investigator, can ferret out any secret and he’s especially at home in Sharn from top to bottom. He’s a hard, bitter, yet complex and principled man with a powerful drive for his quarry. These traits have made him invaluable in navigating the nuanced layers of the city. More than anyone, I can relate to his outlook, for something in his life has struck him to the core, yet he wades on through the mire in spite of it. Yet I do not expect fast friendship to come from this understanding, for we are both too well armored and wary.

Cadeus, our lock-man and artificer seems to be on the run, involved in some intrigue with house Cannith. I suspect it is for that reason such a scholarly man was pressed into this type of work. Yet he has the aspect of a treasure hunter in him, so perhaps his employment is more voluntary than I suspect. We have much to learn from one another in scholarly pursuits and I have enjoyed his insights.

Debole, our Warforged watchman is never far from his friend Cadeus. Fearsome in battle wielding a giant blade, he’s fairly quiet and even-minded when not roused. He is a stabilizing force in our group.

Jaskir, the shifter criminal is the loose cannon of our group. Apparently he’s a pirate, now land-bound in Sharn, hiding from his countless enemies and gathering his resources after some fall. His brash methods have given us trouble, but they’ve also solved some problems. If not for his criminal trappings and low station, he would remind me of my younger self before I was ruined. Everything comes so easy to him and he simply leaps free of life’s heavy weights. I doubt I will ever befriend him, but I do grin when I think of his escapades.

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The Map

Lucan approached us with a task to find out about a map that had aroused many strong forces in the city. In the end, we found the most upper echelons of Cannith were in pursuit of this, along with other factions such as the Tyrant changeling syndicate, the Church of the Silver Flame, the Korranberg Library, the Emerald Claw, and perhaps other forces we were not aware of. People were murdered and erased offhand for this map and I still do not think we understand its full value. Lucan put the issue to us thusly:

There is been considerable chatter in the past few days about a map that has recently entered Sharn. Great secrecy has surrounded its arrival, and even Dark Lantern sources do not know where it is being kept physically.

Our sources do tell us that a gnomish merchant named Kath Kallan has a year-old contract to purchase the map from a local trader named Jasaar Arrasti. However, Kath is walking into a nightmare of intrigue, and we fear he has no idea of the forces in play. He arrives from Trolanport by ship this afternoon.

Dispite all the upheaval over the map, we do not yet know the reason for it. Obviously it is of great value to a number of players, but we need to know why. We suspect the map may be of political importance, but there are non-political players as well. We can’t risk any political involvement yet, for Breland may offend allies or even work at cross purposes. Yet we cannot remain in the dark.

There must be no connection therefore, but we want to know what is in the map, and obtain a copy if possible. My boss, V, would like you to shadow this merchant Kath, and find a way into his good graces. If my suspicions are correct, he will come under deadly attack within moments of stepping ashore. This may present opportunity. You must be patient. We must know what the map contains, even if you only glimpse it.

We began by examining the proposed sale of the map by a Korranberg gnome (Kath) to a powerful merchant, Jasar Arrasti. Samc sniffed out leads on persons involved and put together the basic understanding of the deal behind the scenes. Jaskir used his port connections to find Kath’s dock and then arranged to buy a scroll to magically cop the map if we ever found it. Cadeus lead the rest of us to scour the path to Jasar’s for a possible ambush for we wanted to protect the map from the large forces seeing to snatch it. We later found that Kath’s runner, Galiad had been sent ahead to make the deal earlier in the morning, but we acted on the little we knew at the time.

Samc sought to follow and persuade Kath and his body guard, Bezzem of the danger they were headed into, but they had little reason to trust us yet. Ahead, the rest of us blended into the crowd near an especially vulnerable street segment, while Jaskir played the drunk in a nearby alley to spy on a suspicious group of hidden armed men.

The armed ruffians burst into the street seeking to detain Kath, while Jaskir drew one of them away to the alley. The tension in the street situation rose, and we were reluctantly entangled in a combat. In the end we had killed a few, and captured two prisoners, and the rest had fled in fear and from Samc’s and my own assault on their minds. It was because of Samc’s detective eyes a changeling was discovered in disguise and hiding in the summoned mists with a new identity. We detained the creature for questioning. We found the Changeling was named Garrow, and we suspect he worked in the service of the Emerald Claw, though we do not know why they seek the map.

We lead our captives and Kath to one of Jaskir’s dens, a ruined brewery in a cutthroat part of the city, and here we made our base of operations for this mission. We interrogated the prisoners and did some more investigation to expand the circle of our understanding. Tyrants and possibly Emerald Claw were involved, and shockingly some of the highest tiers of house Cannith.

We followed a lead asking around at the Singing Siren Inn about Galiad, only to find he likely disappeared with a whore before meeting with Jasar. The subsequent meeting with the merchant suggested otherwise, that the meeting had occurred and the sale made. We suspected changelings and foul play. So we followed the trail to one of the whore’s friends, who pointed us at a nobleman’s house who had probably hired the poor pawn to use and dispose of her, after she had lured Galiad away.

This house we surveilled, finding it under rotating Emerald Claw guard. Perhaps hoping for some vengeance (for he has some vendetta with the Emerald Claw), Jaskir offered to watch for the night. But he got into trouble making a rash attempt at murder and had to flee.

Knowing that something was under guard there, and getting directive from Lucan to act quickly, we plotted an assault on the house for the next night. The increased outer guard was taken out by the time the house was alerted, and Samc was able to force entry with a charmed bell. Inside was a fierce battle against plant monster in the gardens, a druid, wizard, and several thugs of the Emerald Claw from the house. The forces unleashed during the fight set the home on fire so we rushed up stairs to a gallery while Jaskir ransacked the burning rooms below, and Samc looked for clues. Cadeus was able to bypass some of the traps and we rescued the map, Kath’s vanilla bean contract and some other artifacts. We fled as the watch arrived, leaving a burning ruin in our wake.

Essentially having finished our mission, we met with and debriefed Lucan the next day. Plans were made to guard Kath’s ship covertly back to Korranberg, by following it on the Seapixi at extreme range. Debi and Samc went on ahead via soarwood ship, to prepare logistics and gather information.

During the month in the city, Samc gathered almost every possible scrap of information on the map from the professor who had arranged for its procurement. It was a map to an entombed high sorcerer of the Iron Circle of the Jezzulian. This ancient religion was intent on raising the Rajahs (fell demon lords) from the depths of the earth. In the end, the Church of the Silver Flame exterminated most of its members and bound them deep in the earth. Over time, even the maps to these slumbering demon lords’ tombs were lost. Having learned all we could, we left for Sharn and shared our findings with Lucan.

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The Puppet Master

Shortly after returning, I was contacted by Nedrin of house Denieth. Though not strictly family, he is basically an uncle to me and nearly was my uncle in fact. So I agreed to help locate a missing daughter of one of his nobleman friends Kellan Ir’ Mardell. My fellow cat’s paws seemed interested by various degrees, especially Samc and to some degree, Hagar.

Samc did the bulk of the investigative groundwork again, putting facts and searches together in one afternoon that would have taken me weeks to unravel. The daughter, Habra had been cast aside by her lover, a young, spoiled, scumbag of a nobleman named Ardell. It seemed that Ardell had recently taken up with a shadowy figure named Asmarian who ran a strange theater in the Torchfire area of the Lower Menthis Plateau Despondent, she began to investigate Asmarian, otherwise known as The Puppet Master. For she thought this strange theater owner had something to do with her lover’s sudden disdain for her. At this point her trail went cold. But there were other threads to chase.

Apparently Ardell was involved in an illegal fight club, so we pursued this. We pieced together enough information that Jaskir was able to act the part of an exotic fighter that tempted a nobleman sponsor. This allowed he and Samc as his trainer to attend. Jaskir played his role perhaps a little too well, while Samc mingled with the betting men. They learned that Ardell and Asmarian had once brought a fighter of terrible power that destroyed his opponent utterly. We became wary of what we were getting into upon hearing this.

I found evidence of a long string of strange murders in the area we investigated running back several years. My contacts in the morgue and undertakers guild uncovered a strange pattern of mutilation found on bodies. I thought perhaps these mutilations were related to the fight club, but this was later proven incorrect. But still it was another hint to the horror of the Puppet Master’s suspected activities.

We also attended one of Asmarian’s grotesque shows. Having already gained hints as to the nature of the operation, I was horrified by this mockery of the living displayed in this show, though I hid it as well as I could. I think we all left the place a little uneasy at the foreboding growing in us.

We reported our findings to Kellan, who became quite desperate and ready to charge into the theater since this was our most suspect lead. We convinced him to let us check it out and we did so that night. Breaking in through a second floor window, we explored some of this nightmarish place before rousing some of its inhabitants. We took several prisoners and revived the ticket taker who proved to be a hardened gang fighter. We eventually got out of him that he’d ordered one of his men, Obrius to take Habra down to the cogs, because Asmarian wanted her to disappear and stop making trouble. He also told us all about the horrible experimentation with human flesh going on in the laboratory above us.

Here our party split, for as concerned as I was for the girl, what the ticket man described about his master’s study disturbed me far, far more. I doubt anyone but Hagar could understand so directly the need for this abomination to be undone. Samc’s harsh words were evidence to this, treading heedlessly on alien ground. In retrospect, I have only myself to blame for keeping such pained secrets, but at the time it was enough to send us on different paths. Samc and Jaskir went on with our prisoner to get Habra. Hagar and I stayed to sabotage the theater, and Cadeus and Debole accompanied us for perhaps a similar reason or just knowledge to be gained.

Four of us now pushed on through the Puppet Master’s library and beyond, navigating secret tunnels and doors and traps. We encountered enslaved undead in the halls and I helped deal with them, perhaps revealing more than I wished to. We finally came upon the laboratory full of machinery and tools to construct puppets out of human flesh, which we destroyed completely. And in the end, we faced Asmarian himself, and his greatest creation, Brillant. Here a terrible battle exploded, which we triumphed only by fortune, for just as likely this could have been the end of us. Exhausted and beaten we left after making a search of the library, back to the brewery to recover.

Meanwhile Samc and Jaskir navigated the Cogs, and by short investigation came to the house of the cutthroat, Obrius. Here Habra was found and it became clear she was the victim of many days of rape and torture. Jaskir acted without thought and ended the man’s life quickly but brutally, rending him apart with his claws as a beast destroys its prey. This murder caused yet another rift between Jaskir and Samc, as Samc would have seen law’s justice set upon Obrius instead.

They all met back at the Brewery and clothed Habra before taking her back to her father, who was crushed at the sight of her and at the tale that happened. Taking the payment for the investigation we left silently and went home and apart to heal our bodies and spirits. I sit here now dictating these words and wonder at the horrors seething in the hidden parts of my great city home.

In addition to all we learned in our investigations, we uncovered several books and scrolls from Asmarian’s lair before the watch arrived to close down the place:

1. “Treatise on the Brelish Culture” with covers of leather and is in average condition. The parchment pages are sewn into the spine. In addition, the book is in a case of stained wood and the book is wrapped in a dirty cloth. Anybody could guess the book’s worth to be about 250 gold.

2. This hefty tome is aptly titled “Dragahisa the Mad’s Codex on Daemonology” with covers of leather and is in good condition. The parchment pages are unbound, but wrapped with a leather cord. Any thief would tell you that it’ll be worth 500 gold crowns in your hands.

3. The outer cover is made from leather and it seems to be in poor condition. The vellum pages are unbound, but wrapped with a leather cord and on close examination the tome is secured by 3 locks. The book contains a wide range of information on the creation of golems and similar constructs. The book gives you +2 to any knowledge Arcana check regarding Golems, provided you have time reference your situation or findings in the book.

4. The scrolls in this section of the shelf seem to be a collection of experimental results on the creation of Warforged, Golems and other creatures. They are written in Draconic, all by the same orderly hand. The scrolls make frequent mention of the “Libram of Malevolent Constructs” which the author appears to have in his or her possession and made use of in the experiments. The scrolls also seem to indicate that for a time the author worked with, or was a protégé of, Mordain the Fleshweaver.

5. A collection of scrolls stuffed into a fine leather binding. The scrolls are worn, but otherwise in good condition. They were written in various styles, clearly not from the same author. They include: 1st - alarm; burning hands; comprehend languages; expeditious retreat; feather fall; identify; mage armor 2nd - alter self; bear’s endurance; blindness/deafness; hideous laughter; mirror image; scorching ray; see invisibility. 3rd—fly; haste; invisibility sphere; magic weapon, greater

6. a small sheaf of notes that appear to be letters from someone high in house d’Cannith. It is difficult to understand the content of the letters because they are encoded with euphemism and hidden meaning. Sufficient study reveals some plotting regarding the mud sorcerers. You make out reference to Jezulien witches, Rajahs and a plan to build constructs more freely.

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