Bollock's Inquisitives

S01E03 - By The Family Jewels
The PCs investigate the activities of Aric Blacktree. In doing so, they face the mad mage's extended family.

Olarune 20, 998 YK. As the group leaves the scene of their battle with Aric Blacktree, Basil Tulsi takes the task of piloting the skycoach as Maathezar tends to his fallen comrades. Once he’s got them back on their feet, they cover the pilot’s and their foe‘s corpses and head towards the address on Orryn Bollock’s business card.

They find his shop in the Deathsgate district of Middle Tavick’s landing. The district is bustling with activity. Unwilling to draw further attention to themselves, they moor their skycoach near the shop and Maathezar steps out to go knock on the door. After about a minute’s wait, Darius opens the door.

“Hi”, he says, “come in.”
“Err, we need some help first”, answers the kalashtar.
Basil lifts the cloak covering the body of Aric.
“Oh… wait here a minute”
Darius leaves and then comes back with large red blankets. He helps them wrap the bodies and together they quickly carry them inside.

They go down a long hallway and walk into a side door. Inside is the gnome’s magewright workshop. All sorts of equipment and scrap metal is piled on the multiple tables and on parts of the floor. The place is dusty and smells like heated metal and burnt rubber. Behind a mostly cleared desk is sitting, the young tiefling called Leucis, bent over a notebook. He looks up when they come in.

“Orryn, we’ve got some guests.”
The gnome, sitting at a workbench with his back to the door answers tersely. “I’m busy, tell them to go away.”
“Well, considering you wanted us to come, you might want to make an exception. After all, we got it done in less than a day”, says Zair.
The gnome pivots on his bench. Looks at the people entering his shop, then at the body they’re carrying. He sighs, gets up, walks to one of the larger tables and pushes all the stuff on it to the ground.
“You can put it down here. And then perhaps tell me why you’re bringing dead bodies into my workplace.”
“He’s the one responsible for it”, says Maathezar.
“For what?”
“For trying to destroy part of the city with some sort of machine.”
“Huh, that must be what those localized earthquakes were. Tell me, but first, Darius, get us some tea will you?”
“Sure”, he leaves.
The gnome then turns to his adopted son, “go help your master.”
“Aww man, but I wanna hear about the bad guy.”
“Go. Now.”
Leucis sighs loudly and walks out of the room dragging his feet. He slams the door, hard, behind him.
Orryn rolls his eyes, shakes his head. “Go ahead.”

And so, the group recount the events of the day. When they finish, Orryn is stroking his beard thoughtfully.

“Interesting. I’d like to see that machine.”
“We brought back part of it”, answers Karnak.
“Do you think you can do something for our dead comrade?” asks Zair.
“Destroyed, or disassembled, would be more accurate I think. We found about 500 gps’ worth of residuum, if it can help”, says Maathezar.
“Which makes it dead…”
“I’d say dead. But yes. It’ll take a few days and a Raise Dead ritual. I should be able to replace the missing pieces with what I have here.”
“Raise Dead works on warforged?”
“Yes. Reassembling them is not sufficient once the spark has gone.”
“They have a soul then?”
“Spare me the theology”, says the gnome. “Matter of fact is, I’ll get it back on its feet. Might not be as streamlined as it was, but it’ll work. So, what’s your next move?”
“We’re waiting on information from those rogues we let go”, says Maathezar.
“Alright, in the mean time, if you want to rest I have a room downstairs you can use. It also has a bathroom.”
“We were wondering if you can make the dead talk. We have some questions for our dead foe here.”
“No, I’m sorry, you’d need a priest for that.”
“Do you know any?”
“That would come at night to someone’s house to perform Speak with Dead on a corpse from a dubious origin? No, I do not.”
“I do!” says a muffled voice from the other side of the closed door.
Orryn sighs once more. “Come in, Leucis.”
“Call me Omen”, says the grinning teenager as he steps in casually. “So, thought I couldn’t contribute, huh?”
“Spare us the snarky comments and go get your morally ambiguous priest. When you have chosen a course of action, don’t hesitate. Hesitation reaps only failure.”
“Yes, dad!
The young tiefling leaves.
“You’ll have to turn yourselves and those bodies in to the authorities”, says Orryn. “I have some contacts in the Watch I can lean on to delay the investigation into your deeds, but by tomorrow morning, you need to get this done.”

Leucis comes back two hours later with a hobgoblin in rough-spun robes, wearing a symbol of the Sovereign Host around his neck.
“This is Olaakki, the priest who can help you.”
The priest smiles at them, either not noticing or choosing to ignore the open look of disgust on Karnak‘s face.
“Hello. Omen tells me you need a particular ritual cast, is that right?”
“Yes, we need to have a few words with a corpse,” says Maathezar.
Olaakki nods. "I’ve a Speak with Dead scroll here, it’s worth 340 gold pieces. If you need me to cast it, I’ll require another 20 gold pieces. I’m sorry to have to ask for so much, but I need the money to help the less fortunate."
The group takes inventory of their funds and realize they’re short by quite a lot of money.
“Would it be possible to pay part of it with residuum or perhaps future services rendered?”, asks Zair.
“If we do that we won’t have enough residuum to bring back Rampart!”, objects Karnak.
“Well, there is a job I need to get done. If you all agree to do it, I could cast the ritual for you for free.”
“What’s the job?”, asks Zair.
“Kruthiks have been attacking people in the lower reaches of Sharn. It seems they’ve built a hive there. I’d need you to go kill them. They’ve already killed few people, and more will be maimed or killed if nothing’s done.”
“Kruthiks?”, asks Karnak, “aren’t those the creatures we fought in the Tower four years ago?”
“Yes, but they’re rather common on Khorvaire, like ants, but worse”, says Basil.
“So, then”, asks Olaakki, “are you in?”
The four adventurers quickly confer with each other, then turn back to the priest.
“We are”, answers Zair.
Olaakki nods, then spits into his palm and extends his hand to them. Reluctantly, some more than others, they each shake it.
“Good, let’s get this over with then. You should know that at most you’ll only get three questions.”
“Only three? Give us a minute.”
The group examine their different options, and once they’re ready they set themselves up around the table. Olaakki retrieves his scroll for his pack. Then, they remove the sheet covering Aric‘s corpse. A look of surprise and recognition, cross Olaakki’s face.
“You know him?”, asks Maathezar.
“Yes, I saw him with a member of my flock.”
“Where?”
“In Malleon’s Gate, in Lower Dura. The man I know what working for this man.”
“I see… well, let’s cast this ritual now.”
Olaakki nods. He unrolls the scroll and starts recite the incantations. Ten minutes later, the corpse takes a sudden deep breath.
“You can ask your questions now”, says Olaakki.
“Why did you try to kill us?”
The corpse answers in a low, ragged voice. “So you would not take my gift away from me again.”
“What is your role in the grand scheme of things.”
“I am doing my part to bring about the world’s fate.”
“Who are your associates?”
“I work alone.”
The corpse lets out one last sigh.
“Well, my part here is done. When you finish with this, you can contact me for that job you agreed to do.”
Olaakki bows and leaves. Maathezar turns to Orryn.
“I think Aric may have been under the influence of the Dreaming Dark. Is there any way you could check if he was under external influence?”
“I could do an autopsy, but I don’t know if it will yield any results. It will take the rest of the night though.”
“Very well. The rest of you can rest, I’ll stay and assist our host.”

While Orryn and Maathezar perform the autopsy, the rest of the group move to the empty room downstairs and set up their bedrolls on the floor for a much needed night’s sleep.

Olarune 21, 998 YK. The next morning, the whole crew gathers the get the results. The only thing odd with Aric‘s body was some necrotic flesh near his dragonmark and afflicting some of his internal organs. After gathering up the bodies of Aric and the skycoach pilot, the four get back in the skycoach as Orryn gets to work on Rampart’s body. The group flies to the nearest Watch Tower and turn themselves in.

For the next four hours, they are questioned and the Watch sends a patrol to check out the house in which the remains of the machine could be found. After their accounts are corroborated by witnesses, the group is tersely thanked for its service to Breland and released by the Watch.

They head back, on foot, to Orryn‘s workshop. When they arrive, they find Leucis in conversation with two familiar faces: Albert and Alphonse.
“Hey! It’s the guys who pay! I didn’t know you all knew Omen", says Albert.
“Didn’t know you knew Albert and Alphonse.”
“How do you know each other?”, asks Maathezar.
“I know most of the scoundrels around here”, answers Leucis proudly.
Albert and Alphonse both chuckle.
“We found some info for you, is there anywhere we can talk?”, asks Alphonse.
The group, with Albert and Alphonse in tow head to the room downstairs. Once there, they shut the door.
“You found the man we’re looking for?”, asks Maathezar.
“Not exactly; we found someone who knows him. His name is Cane, he runs an establishment called Cane’s Diamonds in the Dragoneyes district. When we showed him what the man looked like he said he recognized him, but he wants to talk to you guys directly.”
“Showed him?”
“Yeah”, says Albert, and his features change into that of a balding, overweight man. “Like so.” He changes back. “So… can we get paid now?”
Maathezar obliges. The two changelings thank him and leave.
Leucis is in the hallway when the group exists the room.
“I can take you there if you want.”
Still unfamiliar with Sharn, they agree.

The Dragoneyes, in Lower Tavick’s Landing, is a lively place, even in mid-afternoon. A red light district, it has services for every type of desires. From more traditional courtesans, to modified warforged and changelings able to cater their appearance to their client’s wishes. The establishment have luminous signs, some of which are animated through magwrights’ works. The group can’t move five feet without being groped, propositioned or almost dragged into an establishment.
Cane’s Diamonds is an ostentatiously decorated bordello, to the point of being gaudy. The group is taken to a mezzanine, where a large chair, akin to a throne is set up. Framed by two gorgeous elven women sits a warforged wearing a large hat, a cape, and holding a cane with a large jewel on top. Karnak‘s bigotry shows itself again as he stares dejectedly at the elves.
“You’re Cane?"
“The one and only. It’s an honor to welcome the heroes who saved Sharn to my establishment. Can I get you anything?”
“We were told you have some information for us.”
“Yes, I do. But first, I’d like to hear of your exploits.”
Zair launches into a lyrical retelling of their previous day, from their arrival at the Commemoration ceremony to their battle in the skies.
“Very nice! Well, then, the man you’re looking for is called Dorian something, he runs a jeweler’s shop in Redstone in Upper Dura. His last name was smoething like Redoak, or maybe Browncedar? Anyway, he’s the one who set these.” Cane shows his right hand. It is abnormally large, twice the size of the one holding his cane, and has diamond-tipped spikes on it.
“Could his name have been Blacktree?”
“Yes, that’s it, Dorian Blacktree”, confirms Cane.
“Thank you, if you’ll excuse us.”
“Of course! Come back anytime, but keep in mind, this bit of information was free, but next time won’t be.”
“First taste is always free kind of thing?”, asks Maathezar.
“No, but this case is of interest to me. I guess you could call me a patriot. I don’t like it when someone endangers my city.”

The group takes the public elevators up to the Upper Levels and walks from Tavick’s Landing to Dura. It takes then a few hours. They get to Dorian Blacktree‘s shop in the early evening. Dura is considered one of the least appealing districts of Sharn, but on the Upper Levels is is as respectable as the other wealthy areas of the city.
Questioning the clerk at the shop, they learn that Dorian Blacktree hasn’t been in for a few days, but that they can probably find him at his home in the nearby Overlook district.
The Blacktree household is a luxury townhouse among a row of similar lodgings. Light can be seen through the windows, hinting at someone’s presence inside.
Maathezar walks to the door and knocks. After a minute, he hears footsteps from inside and a well-groomed and finely dressed hobgoblin opens the door slightly. His eyes quickly scans the people outside and rests on their weapons a moment.
“Can I help you?”, he asks.
“Yes”, answers Maathezar, “we’d like to talk to Mister Dorian Blacktree. It’s about his brother.”
“Just a moment, I’ll see if he’s available.”
He shuts the door. The hobgoblin returns a minute later and opens the door, fully this time, and stands aside to let the group through.
“If you’ll please come with me.”
They follow him through a dark and sparsely decorated hallway, spying some stairs heading up, a living room and a small library along the way. He leads them to a dining room with a large oak table. At the far end is sitting Dorian Blacktree, almost the same as he was portrayed by Albert. His shoulders are hunched, and his eyes are a little red. He looks up as they come in.
“Please, have a seat. Brackett said you were here about my brother? Did you know him?”
“We did, we first met him a few years ago. Could we ask you a few questions about him?”
“Of course… wait… you’re the ones who killed him, aren’t you?”, asks Dorian Blacktree.
The four stare uncomfortably at each other.
“Yes, you fit the description the watchmen gave me. Don’t worry, I don’t begrudge you the act. I’m told he was trying to bring down one the of the city’s towers with some sort of machine. You must be here to get some sort of closure, right? Ask me and I’ll answer as best I can.”
The butler, Brackett, brings some tea for his master and the guests. As they sip their drinks, the group listens as Dorian Blacktree shares with them his brother‘s troubled past. He tells them how Aric was always strange and how he mostly kept to himself. They learn that he was admitted into a Jorasco mental health facility as a teenager after claiming he was hearing voices, but was released after a few months of therapy seemingly better. Then, he had finished his studies gotten a job as an aide to Bren ir’Gadden, but had returned from the war traumatized and nearly catatonic. He was once again admitted to the Jorasco mental hospital and had again made a recovery. However, upon his release, which was a year and a half before today, Aric had vanished. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of the family had told Dorian he had seen Aric in town. Dorian had then hired a group of inquisitives to find his brother. The investigators had succeeded, and Dorian had sent a message to his brother asking for a meeting. Aric agreed and they met at an inn. Over the course of the short conversation, Dorian realized his brother’s madness had overtaken him and that the brother he loved was gone. He kept rambling about those who were coming to take his gift away, about the fate of the world and how he would be great and powerful. When Dorian had suggested Aric needed helped, the madman had just laughed and left. That was the last time he had seen his brother alive.
After taking all of this in, the group confers with each other.
“This adds to my suspicions. I think he may have been possessed by the Dreaming Dark”, says Maathezar.
The others stare at him blankly.
“An ancient enemy of my people”, explains the kalashtar. He then turns to their host. “Might we perhaps have a look at his room?”
“Sure, if you think it might help you.”
They climb the stairs to the second floor. When they get to the top they are greeted by an angry looking old lady.
“Aric!”, she yells, “I told you not to bring any friends home! Go play outside!”
“This isn’t Aric, mother. Go back to your room.”
“You may be my husband but you can’t tell me what to do! I’m going back to my room, leave me alone!”
Dorian sighs. “Madness, it seems, runs in the family. Thankfully I’ve been spared so far.”
He shows them to Aric‘s room.
“Take the time you need, I’ll be downstairs if you need anything."
A quick search of the room reveals little of interest except a small hidden hole in the floor under the bed. It is empty, but there are traces of old dried blood. Maathezar examines the library and finds a few texts on magic and unusual creatures, one of which is about Quoris. He takes it with him when they leave.

As the group start walking away from the Blacktree residence, Zair suddenly remembers something Dorian had said. She stops.
“Dorian said he had hired inquisitives to find his brother and that they had. He must still have some information we could use!”
And so they make their way back. They speak with Brackett once more and Dorian Blacktree agrees to give them the file he had gotten from the inquisitives. In it, the group finds directions to a small house in Malleon’s Gate, the goblin slum where Olaakki had said he had seen Aric Blacktree. And so they make their way down to Lower Dura.

Finding the house proves to be of little difficulty, especially with two seasoned scouts and a former bounty hunter in the group. The windows are barred and shuttered and the door is locked. Basil leans against the door to listen inside, but all he can hear is a steady tock tock tock sound, like metal hitting wood at a regular interval. After conferring briefly, the group decides to simply knock on the door, hoping whoever’s inside will be as helpful as Aric’s brother. When they do, the sound stops for a minute before resuming. No one comes to the door. Basil uses his tools to get the door unlocked quietly. When they push it open, they hear the ringing of chimes attaches to the door’s other side.
They then hear a woman’s voice “Come in, honey. Supper’s almost ready”.

They walk into the apartment. Past a small entrance, they step into a living room furnished by a moldy couch and carpet. On a small table rests three candles lighting the room. On their left is an opening large enough for double doors that leads into a large kitchen. Behind a counter and facing another, a woman in a simple peasant dress and with long straw-colored hair stands with her back to them, chopping at a carcass with a large meat cleaver. She stops.
“You’re not my husband”, she says.
“No, we are not. Is your husband Aric Blacktree?” asks Maathezar.
“He is. Kids!” she yells, “we have guests, be polite come say hi”.
A door on the kitchen’s right wall, close to the counter, opens with a bang and two small creatures emerge through it, followed by a third. The first two creatures are hideous and have four arms and two mouths each. They are dressed in children’s cute sailor outfits and wear wigs of golden curls. They are each clutching a club in a hand. The third creature is some sort of animal, looking to be part reptile and part bat. The woman whirls around as her “children” come in. She, too, is hideously deformed. Two large tentacles snake out from under her dress as she charges towards the group.

Karnak d’Vadalis, his wolf Frostbite and Maathezar rush forward as the dolgaunt “mother” lashes at them with her tentacles. The two dolgrim lurk forward and try to get into flanking position. Basil looses an arrow that turns into a swarm of bats, filling half the kitchen with the flying mammals and hampering his foes’ movements. The flying monstrosity pounces across the room at Maathezar, biting him and retreating back to its perch on the far counter top. Zair fights back by using her magic to create a sharp sound staggering the creatures and giving opening to her allies. When the “mother” is brought down by the group’s combined efforts, the two “children” snarl and yell obscenities at them, decrying the death of their mum. They too, soon join their mothers in death. Their “pet” falls last as the melee attackers finally pin it into a corner.

A search of the lodgings reveal a strangely normal looking apartment, despite the monsters who inhabited it. In one of the rooms they find a desk in which are Aric Blacktree’s journals. In a small room is a chalk-drawn replica of the Prophecy Mark the group had found at the Tower of Scars four years earlier.
A quick read of the journals show that they seem to start relatively coherent and gradually slip into the mad discourse of a diseased mind. References to them are increasingly frequent as Aric had grown to blame them from keeping him from his “gift”. The group surmises that four years ago he had hoped to develop a dragonmark by exposing himself to the Prophecy Mark and that their intervention had foiled his plans.

They leave the apartment and travel back to Bollock’s workshop to relay their findings. The gnome listens to the story of their day and how they have come to the conclusion that the Blacktree investigation is, for the time being, over. Orryn then offers them to stay on as he was hoping to start a secondary business venture in the empty locale below his workshop: an inquisitive agency. Having no better prospects a head of them, the four conscious members of the group agree.

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S01E02 - The Mark of Prophecy, Part 2
The PCs track down the origin of the Mourning Haunt that attacked them, stop a destructive terrorist plot and face off against an old acquaintance.

Zair, who knows a bit about Mourning Haunts, informs the rest of her companions that its a kind of demon that doesn’t last long outside the dead-grey mists of the Mournland. As such, it must have been summoned from somewhere inside the city. The group then splits off, Basil, Karnak and Rampart heading off to track down the Mourning Haunt’s origin, while Zair and Maathezar stay to question the witnesses. From the survivors, the pair learns that Bren ir’Gadden, who had apparently invited them to the event, but had failed to show, was not scheduled to be present as he is now serving on Argonth, Breland’s last remaining flying fortress. From this, Maathezar reaches the conclusion that either he planned for their deaths from a hundred miles away, or, more likely, that someone used his name to get them here. Having extracted as much information as they can from the survivors of the attack, they head down to meet up with the other three. Meanwhile, Rampart climbs down Dalannan Tower, retracing the Haunt’s steps and helping the other two in finding traces of its passage. Although Basil’s skills seem ill-suited for tracking in the city, Karnak manages to find bits of fur that dissolves into mist when touched that confirms they are on the right track. They cross the mid-levels and keep going down. When they reach the lower levels, they find a body tossed in an alley whose life seems to have been sucked from him, just like the victims of the Haunt on the top of the tower. Rampart decides to question nearby people, so it grabs a random passerby, lifts it off the ground and asks it with drill sergeant like courtesy what he has seen. Four goons walk out of the shadows and one of them says “tin can, you really picked the wrong guy to fuck with”, and then picks up his greataxe.

The goons lunge at the trio, but Basil is quicker. He pushes the nearby ones away from him, giving himself room to shoot a fiery arrow at the leader. Karnak and Themba lunge at a goon, quickly overwhelming him and knocking him unconscious. The ringleader swings his axe at Rampart, severely denting its armor. Zair and Maathezar come down a nearby staircase to find their allies in a fight. A ring of red energy appears around Maathezar‘s head as he swings his halberd at a nearby goon, but the mook seems it coming and clumsily dodges the attack. Zair launches a psychic attack against one of the thugs, who clutches his head and collapses to the floor. Rampart fights back against the leader, but the hits the warforged lands only seem to make him angrier. The group quickly dispatch the leader’s thugs and concentrate their attacks on him. Rampart takes a few hits, but Zair‘s magic keeps the warforged going, and they finally bring down the berserker. Karnak disarms him, taking the greataxe and the two hand axes he carried. They leave the mooks with their clubs and head back to trying to find the Haunts’ origin.

They reach the bottom of Dalannan Tower and there lose the creature’s tracks, but a more moderate questioning of potential witnesses by Maathezar gets them a lead: a dilapidated house from which strange noises and lights are sometimes perceived. The group spreads out and quickly locate the building. It is in pretty bad shape, but the windows seem to have been recently boarded up and bars have been installed on them to prevent entrance. The front door seems to be the only way in.

When Basil tries, he finds it locked. He takes out his thieves tools and lockpicks it. He opens the door and inches into the lobby. 10 feet ahead is another door, this one unlocked. He moves to it silently, opening it an inch to glance inside. Before seeing anything, he is hit by the inside’s smell; a mix of animal musk, dust, decay and rot. Basil sees that the room ahead is a living room with moldy couches in it. He also spots a guard drake near the door. The drake sniffs the air, then hisses in alarm as he suddenly turns to the door.

Basil barges into the room, firing at the drake. He spots another one farther into the room out of the corner of his eyes. The drakes lunge at him, snapping at his legs to bring him down. Maathezar, Karnak, Themba and Rampart rush into the building, while Zair hangs back. Four goblins come to check out the commotion. One of them yells “they’re here!”. A door at the far end of the living room bursts open and two shifters with dyed red fur charge out of the room with scimitars drawn. They lunge at the intruders, knocking Basil and Rampart with the strength of their attacks. Surrounded on all sides by the drakes, goblins and shifters, Basil is knocked out. Zair unleashes her magic on the shifters, knocking one back and giving an opening for Karnak to strike. A cloaked half-orc comes out at the end of one of the hallways leading out of the living room. He stays well back of the fight and fires at the members of the group who stray away from the clump near the door. The fight is grueling, but eventually the drakes are brought down as are the shifters. Seeing the fight turning against his troops, the half-orc rushes for the door. While Karnak and his tigress stay back to finish the remaining goblins, the others run after their fleeing enemy. They chase him down the street, and Basil brings him down with a carefully placed shot meant to keep him alive for questioning. The half-orc falls to the ground hard and is knocked unconscious. Once the live capture is confirmed, Karnak executes the remaining surviving goblins, his hatred for the species apparent to his companions for the first time.

They drag the half-orc’s unconscious form back inside the house and close the door behind them. They tie him up. After having taken time to catch their breath, they search the house’s lower level, finding stairs to the second. They search the shifters’ room, finding rotting animal carcasses and other vile things. The half-orc’s room is cleaner and in a pouch under the bed they find 60 gold pieces. As they get ready to head upstairs, a loud noise, not unlike the crack of thunder is heard from upstairs and the whole house is shaken by a quake. They hear someone shout from upstairs “What’s happening? Check those over there!”

The group rushes up the stairs. When they get up, they find another unlocked door. Basil quietly peeks in. Next to the door he seems a strange machine with dark lightning crackling on it. Next to the machine is a deformed humanoid creature with two long tentacles nervously inspecting the machine. He also hears voices coming from further down the halls.

Opening the door in one swift movement, the group rushes in. The tentacled creature, which Karnak identifies as some sort of foulspawn, strikes at them while threatening to eat their faces. Two humans rush from the sides of similar machines, drawing rapiers and moving against the intruders. Rampart and Karnak engage the foulspawn in melee and Basil peppers it with arrows. The human thugs move in and flank him, feinting before stabbing with their rapiers. One of the machines seems to gain power and unleashes a bolt of dark lightning that hits the machine near the door, sending sparks flying around, hitting all nearby combatants. The house rumbles again and the ground shakes under their feet. The two humans seem to hesitate, glancing nervously towards the door. Maathezar realizes they’re not committed to the fight and decides to try to talk them down. Zair helps him and the humans’ hesitation seem more palpable as the machines unleash more lightning strikes at each other. Basil dodges away from the fight and moves to one of the machines down one of the halls. Inspecting it, he figures out how to disable it and moves quickly to neutralize it. Zair moves to the machine near the door and manages to drain some of the magic energy powering it, weakening it. Maathezar continues talking with the human thugs, emboldened by their growing unease. When Rampart and Karnak bring down the foulspawn, the two humans duck for the door, hoping to escape. Karnak and Themba run after them, unwilling to let any of their enemies escape. The tigress quickly overtakes them and blocks the way down the stairs.

“Surrender and we’ll let you go”, Maathezar tells them.
Karnak adds “or I can always feed you to my tiger. Please, make my day”.
The two humans look at each other, then they put away their rapiers and turn to Maathezar. “Fine, but the psycho with his cat waits downstairs.”
“Fine by me”, says Karnak, and he makes his way down.

Basil finishes disabling all the machines and then the group, minus Karnak and Themba, gathers to question the two captives.

“I’m Maathezar, what are your names?”
“I am Albert and this is my buddy, Alphonse.”
“What are those machines for?”
The two thugs shrug.
“From what I’ve seen, they were to power up and then would have exploded, bringing the whole tower down”, says Basil.
“Wait a minute,” answers Albert while frowning, “we would have died! Motherfucker!”
“Now perhaps you see why you should help us”, says Maathezar. “Why were you here?”
“We were hired to guard the machines, paid good coin too. Of course, we didn’t know what for. You find an easy job like this in Sharn, you don’t ask, you know?” says Alphonse.
“Who hired you?”
“Guy wanted us to call him Mourner, obviously a fake name, but we followed him once, make sure he could pay, and one of his guards called him Aric.”
Maathezar turns to his companions, “Blacktree, the aide.”
“You know him? Anyway, we saw he had gold and left it at that.”
“See anything else? Did he meet with anyone?”
“He ate with some bald guy dressed in black at an inn.”
Maathezar takes two gold coins out of his coin purse. “Think you could find him again?”
Their eyes light up. “We could definitely try. Know a few people who could help.”
Maathezar flings them the coins. “Do it, their will be more if you find something good.”
“You got it!”

Albert and Alphonse leave the house. The group finishes inspecting the rooms and find residuum in the machines. Also, a pile of drained magic items on the floor, one of which a wand which still seems to resonate with arcane power. Zair claims it and the group head off.

They decide to head to Orryn‘s to regroup and plan their next move. They hire a skycoach to save a couple hours of walking. The trip is peaceful and the view magnificent. As they lazily weave through the towers, a flash of blue light catches most of the group’s attention. As they turn towards it they spot a group of goblins standing on blue disks of energy flying towards them. The goblins aim their short bows at them. Behind them, the group sees another figure, dressed in black. Standing on his own blue disk is Aric Blacktree.

Basil acts first, drawing his longbow. He shoots an arrow towards Aric which morphs in-flight into a cloud of bats, striking at Basil‘s target and the nearby goblin archers. The archers move out the the cloud and unleash a volley of arrows at the skiff. One of the arrows takes out the skycoach’s pilot. Karnak throws one of his handaxes at the goblins, but his prey weaves out of the way. Maathezar moves to the back of the coach and takes over the controls. Zair, using her new wand, starts hurling insults at their foes, enhancing them with her spells. Rampart jumps off the skycoach and lands on one of the goblins’ disk, knocking its occupant down. After a brief struggle, the warforged ejects the goblin, sending it screaming to its doom. It then turns its attention to the others. Aric lifts his hand, revealing a dragonmark he didn’t have four years ago. It flashes with necrotic energy and his goblin allies grit their teeth in pain. Empowered by the mark’s dark magic, they send another volley of arrows at the group. Karnak throws another handaxe, this time hitting home, while Rampart moves on its disk to engage the goblins in melee. When it gets to one, it jumps over onto its disk and pushes it off. Basil answers the goblins arrows with his own, Zair keeps flinging spells at them as Maathezar keeps their skycoach from crashing. Aric fires bolts of lightning and necrotic energy at his foes, weakening them. The fight is grueling and brutal. As the goblins go down, so do Karnak and Zair. When the last of the archers goes down, Rampart goes after the mage. The warforged jumps onto Aric‘s disk, but the human proves more difficult to jettison than the goblins. The two struggle with each other for too long and the disk promptly crashes onto a walkway some forty feet below. Already barely holding together after its fight with the goblins, Rampart breaks apart as it collides with the hard stone of the bridge, sending pieces of warforged flying through the air. Aric, amazingly, still manages to get up. Maathezar brings the skycoach to a stop over the walkway and he and Basil jump off to engage their last remaining foe. Weakened and desperate, they flank him, Basil drawing one of his daggers. After dodging a blow from Aric’s mace, Maathezar lands one of his own with his halberd, killing the human. The two quickly load his body into the skycoach and pick up as many of the warforged’s pieces as they can, and head off towards Orryn’s to get help for their wounded friends.

As they rise above the walkway, they can see oglers starting to gather at the scene of their final battle, but there is still no sign of the watch, as is to be expected in the lower levels of Sharn.

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S01E01 - The Mark of Prophecy, Part 1 (Pilot)
For different reasons, five people converge on a ruined tower near the Cyran border during the battle of Saerun Road. While facing off against agents of the Emerald Claw, they witness the Mourning. Four years later, they meet again.

Olarune 20, 994 YK. The Brelish and Thrane forces have besieged the Cyran forces at Saerun Road. This battle is critical as a loss for the Cyran Army would open the door to southern Cyre for their most bitter enemies.

The nearby Tower of Scars, an abandonned ruin, is identified by the Cyran commander as a key position. He tasks two of his soldiers, Karnak d’Vadalis and Rampart with scouting the tower to see if it would be possible to establish a position there.

Meanwhile, a small Aundarian force sent to reinforce their Cyran allies is taking stock of the battle. Deciding that the Cyran are doomed, their commander tasks his scouts to look for a inconspicuous way away from the battlefield. One of these scouts, Basil Tulsi, is sent to ascertain the potential of the route passing near the Tower of Scars.

House Orien has learned that the Tower harbors a draconic prophecy mark that it wishes to acquire. They have given the job to their agent Connor d’Orien, who has in turn delegated it to one of his partners, Zair. Equipped with a specially crafted dragonshard, the young changeling makes her way towards the tower while avoiding the military patrols.

Finally, Dhurnam Korkeron’s group of bounty hunters have tracked a group of Emerald Claw terrorists to a nearby Brelish town. Picking rumors about kidnappings in the area, he tasks his pupil Maathezar with the investigation of the nearby Tower of Scars.

That early afternoon, five different people simultaneously make their way for the ruined tower, unaware of the coming doom of Cyre and that this is the first step of their common destiny.

The Aundarian scout arrives at the Tower of Scars first, quietly surveying its outside. Hearing noise nearby, he hides in the underbrush and spies Karnak d’Vadalis and Rampart making their way towards the Tower from the east. Meanwhile, Zair arrives from the northwest and approaches a gap in the Tower’s western wall. She hears a noise and turns to see Maathezar approaching from the west. When he notices her, he adopts a defensive position. Zair, having taken the appearance of a buxom human redhead throws her arms up. A tense moment and a few whispered words allows them to understand that they are not enemies. They decide to continue into the Tower together, hoping to find strength in numbers. While the kalashtar and the changeling inch into the Tower of Scars, Karnak d’Vadalis and Rampart approach it carefully. Inside the Tower, Zair is ambushed by a group a kruthik. Another group of the beasts burrow up from the ground and assault Basil, Karnak and Rampart. Maathezar is kept from assisting his new ally by two kruthik who block his path into the tower. While fighting outside, Rampart comes face to face with Basil. Despite the Warforged‘s doubts about the Shifter’s claim that they are on the same side, the urgency of the situation forces them into an uneasy alliance. While Karnak and his lioness, Themba, make their way into the Tower and assist the damsel in distress, they hear the sound of a man screaming for help from deeper inside the ruins. As the kruthik fall and the battle seems to be on the verge of being won, two deformed humanoids attack those inside the Tower. Quick and vicious, they nonetheless prove no match for the unlikely allies who make short work of the monsters identified by Karnak as Dolgrims.

As soon as the monsters are dispatched, chaos unsues as Karnak and Rampart try to ascertain whether any of the others are enemy soldiers. They all move into the rear of the Tower to find a catatonic man chained into a draconic prophecy mark and an armored half-elf chained to the far wall. Recognizing the half-elf as a Breland soldier, Karnak goes to execute him until he notices the man’s rank: Lord Major, making him a potentially very useful prisonner. Basil undoes the bindings holding the catatonic man in the mark and pulls him out of it. After a quick examination he finds that the man can move, but that he can’t speak and needs to be prodded forward, otherwise he simply curls into a ball on the floor. Having found her objective, Zair records it with her dragonshard. While undergoing the process, she translates its meaning: “Five at the brink of desolation stand as one against the tempest’s roar”.

Having accomplished their objectives, the group goes to leave the Tower, prionners in tow. However, they are no longer alone. Outside the Tower, a group of zombies, backed by two Emerald Claw soldiers and a necromancer wait for them. “Give us the half-elf and you can leave with your lives!” While, Basil argues for turning over the Brelish officer, the Cyrans are unwilling to part with their prize. They turn down the necromancer’s offer, who in turn replies “Very well, then you shall go towards bolstering our forces!”

As the zombies shamble forward to attack, the necromancer unleashes her magic on the group and Rampart teleports next to the witch to engage her in melee. The two Emerald Claw soldiers move to assist their leader in fighting off the Warforged. Basil, unhappy about being involved in a fight that is not his own nonetheless fires at the Emerald Claw, unleashing a swarm of bats that hinder their movements and leaves them open to attack. Maathezar moves to engage the zombies outside the wall on the west side of the Tower, while Karnak and Themba charge the ones near the entrance. Zair uses her arcane power to engage the undead from afar. Bren ir’Gadden gets his sword from Maathezar and moves to assist him on the west side.

While the fight goes on, strange lights can be seen in the sky to the northeast over Cyre. It seems to catch on fire and lighting rolls in the clouds. A gray mist extends from the heart of Cyre and quickly covers the armies fighting below. Harrowing screams can be heard from inside. When the battle at the Tower comes to a conclusion, not a sound can be heard from below. The Mourning has consumed Cyre.

Olarune 20, 998 YK. Four years after the tragedy that brought the Last War to an end, the five who made their way to the Tower of Scars on that fateful day meet again for the first time since they parted ways after their first encounter. All of them are still haunted by what they witnessed four years before. Their dreams are punctuated by nightmares in which they see it all again, hearing strange words: “Five at the brink of desolation stand as one against the tempest’s roar”. Even those who do not dreams sometimes hear these words when they recall that day, unaware of their origin in their memories.

Each has received a letter from Bren ir’Gadden inviting them to Sharn for a commemoration of the Day of Mourning. The ceremony takes place in the upper towers in the university district. While taking part in the ceremony, the door to the balcony suddenly bursts open and a grey mist flows into the room, consuming those who stand in its way. Maathezar notices that inside the fog stands a hairy, humanoid form. The five draw their weapons and engage it, but the fog makes their foe difficult to find. When they fire at it from away, they have to guess at its position, while when fighting it up close it vanishes, only to reappear in a more advantageous position. The fight is ardous, but slowly the group start working together, finding strategies that seem effective against the beast. When they hurt it enought, the fog dissipates, revealing the hideous ape-like figure of a Mourning Haunt, a demon that sometimes leaves the boundaries of the dead-gray mist enveloping what was once Cyre. When they finally dispatch it, its body dissolves into a mist that shapes itself after the draconic prophecy mark they had found in the Tower of Scars four years before.

Help arrives, of course, once the coast is clear. A human races up the stairs with sword drawn, only to find the group glaring at him. “Its about fucking time!” snarls Maathezar, the kalashtar’s madness bubbling to the surface. “Excuse me,” he answers tersely, “but I came here as fast as I could”. He is followed by a gnome who introduces himself as Orryn Bollock. As the group tries to make sense of the attack, he offers them his card and asks them to come to him if they do solve the mystery, as he would love to hear what they found. He also suggests he might very well pay for the priviledge.

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