The Warning

Episode 12

Tracking Shadows

Upon their approach to the docks, the party encounters an eerily familiar face admidst the dock crowd. The aging man approaches them and asks if they might be going to South Landing, or have come from there. Upon hearing they have indeed come from South Landing, He asks if they have heard news of Lucas Dragonheart.

It’s then they recognize some the features. This man, bearing a seal of Heironeous and a well-kept, if simple, longsword is Matthias Dragonheart, Luke’s uncle. He’s devastated by the news, but upon hearing how the boy met his end trying to save his friend and stop the vile Hammerfel and Borlin, he takes some comfort. A righteous end is all a servant of Heirnous can ask of his true lord.
Matthias, thanks to Luke’s letter, the same that drew-up enough concern in the scholarly cleric to travel south in the first place, knows of the Kenoran box. He asks the team about it and they reveal it to him. He responds with awe but little surprise. He explains the box in the way known to Osil’s scholars, as an ark of some great importance in the time of the Kenora’s Fall, which is said to house some unspeakable power not meant for mortal hands.

Matthias believes the box should be protected by the greatest army of good in Maritaph, the Champions of Heironeous in their fortress-Cathredral of the Fallen Knight. There, in the heart of Port of Isles in Osil, the box will be beyond the reach of whatever evil seeks to reunite it with its ancient mate.

His zeal for this outcome is countered in strength only in Variel’s insistence that the box be returned to the Elven Council assembled on the day of Agus’s Fall, the same that shrouded the box for the centuries it remained hidden in Agus Tevidune. This is the purpose of Variel’s mission here, and he will not see the youthful and hot-headed men, women, and dwarf risk the return of Tazgin’ra’s dark empire.

The gnome Hobbes dissents in a different light, bringing his own wanderer’s logic to the problelm. Why not keep it on the move for a life time? With this small group escorting it from city to city, land to land, for a generation or more. Surely the forces that seek it will discover it again should it be hidden, and even a fortress can fall prey to a traitorous soul or a dedicated thief. The plan to launch it into the planes of chaos and color, or hide it in a church, are ridiculous.
Afop this, Ishrana has been ordered by the Horselord to bring news of the box to the Kard King, and inform him of the dangers, as well as ordering her to protect this box at all times, it must accompany her to the throne. No one else finds this an appealing prospect.

After no small amount of negotiation, they decide upon a compromise. The Elves will come to Port of Isles and meet them at the Cathedral of the Fallen Knight. Imara Skybuck will warn the King of Kardam of the threat that may soon come, and on the way, Deldund will be able to ponder Moradin’s will, while Ishrana will be able to maintain her duty protecting the box.

A few days later, the party, aboard the Sea Dwarf sees the lighthouse of Port of Isles and Castle Seaglaur rising from the clifftops. As they approach, they find the docks as full as ever, with ships anchored in harbor awaiting a birth. Infact, they arrive just as the Harbor Patrol of the Sapphire Guard are burning down a ship. Matthias remarks on how rare indeed such an act is. They all know now that the plague of undeath has found its way to Osil as well.

They row to port in the launches, and walk directly through the swarming metropolis to the huge Cathedral of the Fallen Knight. Matthia guides them through the gates and the main doors, through the stone corridors, and they arrive in a meeting hall. Shortly after they are joined by the Paragon himself, and following this a line of silent elves breeze into the room without a sound.

The conversation takes a great deal of time, with explanations by Deldund of the fall of Moutain’s Gate and Hammerfel’s betrayl. The pain in his soul comes through as he relives the nightmare of his last sights once again.
He and Hobbes tell of their draw to Kardam, and the rescue and betrayl of Nimseo Borlin. They relate the hellish trek through the Southlands, and the discovery of Agus Tevidune, from where the Elves then explain the ancient truth of the Kenoran Box as the resting place of Agus’s soul within the haft of his sickle.
The existence of the second box is revealed, but likewise is the mystery of its location. Briefly, they note the fall of Hammerfel and Nimseo in the warm waters of South Landing, and a prayer of thanks and honor is said for the fallen Champion Dragonheart.

The discussion on what to do next arises freshly, with the elven council and the paragon butting heads over the issue as much as their subordinates had upon first meeting. Eventually, the raucous debate settles upon a plan: the elves will create an arcane fold within the Cathedral, one in which the box will be hidden and layered in arcane wards and veils. Meanwhile, the church will recall its warriors to defend the cathedral against any coming threats.
With the box apparently as safe as it is likely to be, the conversation turns to the second the box and the existence of more than two dozen fiends in the mountains, that have been there for months according to Deldund’s time line.

The masters of Hammerfel must be identified, and the second box must be secured or kept hidden from them. The spectre that this unknown master already possesses the knowledge of the second box’s location is raised, and no one in the room has any idea what that location may be. The only thing certain is that divine powers beyond the understanding of Paragon or the council have deemed Deldund, Hobbes, and virtue of their meeting, Variel and Ishrana, worthy of the cause. They must continue the task set before them, and track down Hammerfel’s master.

The resources of the Church and the Elves are behind them, but only so much can be done. The first place to start is in this very city, for Deldund knows Hammerfel came to Port of Isles following his betrayl. They track down the dwarven community leaders, and question them regarding Hammerfel.

They learn little more than that he lodged with a dwarven work team, and that he spent a great deal of time in Dorrick, the academic and holy district of the city. The Hall of Justice Coleman is in Dorrick, and as the seat of the Cuthbertian church, it seems a good place to start if they’re tracking a criminal and a fiend-servant. They meet with Justice Coleman, who directs them to his lieutenant tasked with rooting out fiends and those who associate with them.

They learn that Hammerfel frequented the Academy, in particular the historical branch. They follow in the Betrayer’s footsteps and head to the library, where in which they discover that Hammerfel was not investigating fiends or any other dark lore, simply the history of the Kenoran Empire. The library has an extensive collection, one of the largest in Maritaph. It’s no wonder the dwarf came here to research the box’s location.

After hours and hours of searching through books and tombs, they learn a great deal of the history of Kenora and the other peoples that resisted them in their reign. The Cytaran, the Halflings, and of course the dwarven clans in their hundred-year war. The frightening realities of the Flying Sickles and the leader, Agus Tevidus.

They finally find a tomb mentioning the construction of a great temple in Jungle after the death of Agus Tevidus, built by dwarves and named Tevidune in the old tongue. This is how Hammerfel learned where the box would lay, Deldund is certain. He would have needed more research to find the location, perhaps in the Chart Hall or in more literature, but there is no doubt in his mind that Hammerfel learned in this very chamber all he needed to know about the resting place of the Kenoran box holding the Haft of the Sickle.

The remaining question is whether he also learned here the resting place of the Blade, in its own box. They begin the search for that information. If they can find it, they must assume that Hammerfel also had given how long he spent in here.

With further hours paging through dusty books, they eventually find a fragment of ballad written years after the Fall, apparently relating the tale told by a dwarf.:

….Hills of sand, so far from home,
the blazing days we spent abroad,
the friends we lost to thirst and snake.
We carried forth or fathers’ task,
Into the heat not fiend could bask.
__
Ever did we travel forth, it seemed eternal,
We Trudged and marched and heat became cool,
Then the cold would pinch the toes from feet,
Would blacken or fingers and noses, the frosted sun
Could find us no more, for days and days there was no
Light at all, wandering n darker dreams and thought.
__
The charge we carried dragged our souls as beasts and
Warriors fell and crawled. We few marched on leaden legs,
On rotten feet and broken brows, we fought the shadows of the land,
But the shadows of ourselves were greater threats.
__
A life of war, and no peace could we keep,
The darkness of the land salted our souls to that fruit.
Blood froze on our hands, the blood of brothers.
We carried out our task and made the turn, but woe to those
who struggled home. For we were three and worn to bone.
The secrets held would slay us all, and I the last to fall,
Would bear witness to it all but for an oath I made, my blade
Upon my father’s throat, upon the Devil’s Face…

The poem is explained in the text as originating from just after the Kenoran Fall, and was recorded in Old Kenoran in the original, translated from Rol into that ancient text.

With that information seeming to point towards the deserts of Benin, and with another great library in the ancient and mystical city of Sandwatch, a path is slowly presenting itself. There is little more evidence to go on than a fragment of a translated poem, but then there was little more than premonition to guide Deldund and the others South months before.

The seek out the beninte population of Port of Isles, heading for the Calilly Jetty neighborhood of Foamhead. The Temple of Boccob the Mystic is also here, surrounded by his faithful beninnite children. Soon upon arriving, they meet an interesting character, Fihal (Fil), one of Hobbes’s former business partners. He treats the party to…a party and does his best to help Hobbes steer them all away from going to Sandwatch. He also helps them convince the dockmaster to ‘liberate’ a birth for the Sea Dwarf.

Following their unexpected party, in which they learn very little except how dangerous and despicable Sandwatch is, Variel goes to the Planar Observatory, a strange place were denizens of multiple planes gather for academic discourse and study. The observatory itself a window through the barriers of the Metaverse, allowing the study of dangerous planes without the need to travel there and the inherent risks therein. There are outsiders of many stripes and types that wander the magical grounds alongside men, women, elves, and all manner of races.

The search for answers is disappointing to men such as Hobbes and Variel, who put their faith in fact and imperical truth. They cannot bring themselves to leave the fate of the world to something as fickle as faith. Deldund knows only one thing, Moradin has never failed him, and Moradin has shown him a path to this place and time. The youthful gods cannot be trusted, their motives too unclear and shrouded. He can hear the distant beat of Moradin trying to tell him what to do, but the world is too loud to hear it clearly.

Ishrana’s faith is always with Gelnor, and he will show her the true path, but there is too much at stake and this place to unfamiliar to her. Streets confuse the path before her, twisting as they do. The sea cannot be traveled like the plains, and the enemy is not clear. A soldier cannot fight shadows and whispers. She yearns for a clear sign perhaps more than her allies.

Rewards

Experience: 500 XP to all characters.

Comments

Lord_Lore

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