Machinations of the Makers House. Part II

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Judging from it’s dimensions The Cloud’s Destiny was at the smaller end of the scale of Lyrandar Airships but that didn’t detract from her being a remarkable vessel. She was constructed, like all airships, from soarwood from the elven kingdoms to the south. Every panel of wood was a work of art, finely carved and inlaid with gold and other precious materials. Somewhere on board would be a dragon shard, most likely a Kyber one, that would allow someone bearing a dragon-mark of “Storms” to pilot her. Looking up, beyond the blazing ring of the harnesses fire-elemental, I could see the night sky with it’s moons and the Ring of Siberys.

clouds-destinyToryil did his best to see to the rest of our, and Lucan’s, wounds. I was very curious to know why someone we had never met had gone to such dangerous lengths to save our lives. Lucan replied that he would explain it all in the morning and that we must be very tired. He had a point there and we were showed below decks to a row of cabins that had been put aside for us. Down below, where thankfully we got out of the constant wind that rushed across the deck, was just as ornately finished as above. Our cabins were small but comfortable, certainly an improvement over our last accommodation but since that had been a cage most things were. There was a chair against one wall which I pulled out to let Sek perch on the back rest. Beside the bed was a small cabinet into which was set a very shallow metal dish. Resting in the dish was a metal jug of water. When I lifted it there was a slight resistance, as if one of the two (most likely the dish) was magnetic. Presumably this was to keep thinks in place in rough weather but I did have an  amusing image of finding War-Forged stuck to his the next morning. The rest of the night passed peacefully. The ride was very smooth, a lot like being of an sky-coach back in Sharn, and I soon fell asleep.

The next morning I was awoken by a knock on the door as a crewman brought a simple but welcome breakfast to our cabins. After eating I pulled out my spell book and began to study it’s contents, re-impressing the magical formulas on to my mind. I had just finished when Fraiya came to find me with the news that Lucan wanted to talk to us. We all convened in the lounge, situated a little forward of the ring of fire. While not overly large it was given the feeling of space by broad windows facing forward, port and starboard as well as a glass ceiling. From the view it seemed that we were cruising at an altitude of maybe two hundred feet. As a citizen of Sharn such heights were water off a ducks back but I had to admit the view, the vast expanse of The Marguul Pass, bordered on either side by high mountains, was far more interesting.

The night before Lucan had mentioned that we were some six hundred miles from Sharn, a journey of about six days although we would be making a brief stop in Trolanport, in the gnomish kingdom of Zilargo, on the way.

Lucan’s story ran like this. He was a member of The Dark Lanterns, the king of Brelands secret service. The end of The Last War had not brought an end to the hostility of nations but simply moved it into a less obverse arena; a “Shadow War“ he termed it. His interest in us stemmed from his greater interest in House Cannith and the conflicting ambitions of it’s members. In the aftermath of The Last War, Lucan said, House Cannith had split into three factions; Cannith South, Cannith East and Cannith West. Cannith South, under the control of Merrix d’Cannith were determined to recommence creation of the war-forged, despite this being outlawed by the Treaty of Thronehold. To do this they would need the Schema’s that allowed for the creation of the Living Constructs and, most likely, a Creation Pattern to bind the Schema’s together.

Cannith West, to which our employer Lady Elaydren was aligned, were determined to thwart Merrix’s plans, though  that didn’t mean they didn’t have designs on the Schema too.

Cannith East were playing their cards close to their chest but, Lucan pointed out, they had worked with The Emerald Claw in the past, which put our encounter with them at Rose Quarry and Whitehearth in a new light.

Into this volatile mix was added The Lord of Blades. His interest in the Schema’s was obvious. For all the advantages his nation of war-forged enjoyed in The Mournland they had one huge limitation, there was only a finite number of war-forged and, without the Schema, they couldn’t reproduce.

Lucan claimed his interest was to keep the situation from developing in a way that would prove harmful to Breland, such as open warfare within House Cannith.

This question at the forefront of my mind, and I suspect my companions too, was: had we found not only two of the much sort after Schemas of war-forged creation but also the invaluable Creation Pattern too? There was no way for us to tell, not without access to research materials we didn’t have onboard the Cloud’s Destiny and a lot of time. However it seemed clear that Lady Elaydren’s rivals were confident enough that we did to attempt to kill us and, perhaps, frame Fraiya for murder.

Lucan was eager to know what we had found in our explorations. He claimed to know that Lady Elaydren had sent us to The Mournland and, when he had failed to reach us before we left Rhukaan Draal, had tried to decide to wait for our return.

It seemed unlikely that he would have believed us if we said we had found nothing so we admitted to finding another section of Schema but kept tight lipped about the Creation Pattern. When Lucan asked if he could see it we requested some time alone to talk the matter over amongst ourselves.  Lucan headed for the very front of the vessel, clearly visible through the panoramic windows of the lounge, and made a point of standing with his back to us. We quickly discussed the matter and decided it would do no harm but, to be on the safe side, we quickly transferred the Schema into my pack and away from the Creation Pattern.

When he returned we showed Lucan the Schema. He asked us what we were intending to do with it and we told him that Lady Elaydren had paid us to retrieve it from Whitehearth for her and that was what we intended to do. As a way of keeping lines of communication open with Lucan, and perhaps stall him until we could work out who we could trust in this tangled web, I suggested that we could keep him posted if we learnt anything knew. The offer seemed to please Lucan, who said he was just about to ask us that very thing. We briefly discussed how we could get news to him if we had any and then the conversation, thankfully, turned to less weighty matters.

For the rest of the day we had the run of the ship with the exception of the wheelhouse which we were told, in no uncertain terms, to keep clear of.

We were through the pass now. We saw Sterngate from afar and were soon flying over wide, verdant plains. The air seemed fresher somehow and was warm but dry. Occasionally below we say the blue streak of the Lightning Rail.

We had left the Mournland with several magical items that were still a mystery to us; two potions, a scroll, the magical pearl, the disk attached to War-Forged and the double ended scimitar. I quickly determined that the potions were moderately powerful curative magics. A simple spell of Read Magic allowed me to decipher the scroll as being a spell of Resist Energy. Unfortunately the other items would have to remain a mystery for the moment has I did not posses the expensive components for an Identify spell. However we would reach Trolanport the next day and I was hopeful we cold find what we needed.

There was also some other finds from Whitehearth that needed to be divided out. Fraiya kept the Darkweave cloak. The good quality chain mail shirt was offered to Altera. She turned it down saying that even this would slow her down and instead it went to Toryil. Altera did except the longsword I had acquired to keep her shortsword company. No one wanted the great sword but we calculated that this, along with Toryil’s original chain shirt (which was till in good condition), the bloodstone ring we had found and a few of the platinum pieces would cover the cost of casting Identify three times.

That evening we  dined with Captain Morgis and Lucan. Morgis was a quiet, stern fellow. It appeared that he seldom took The Cloud’s Destiny as far as the goblin lands and made the occasional remark about mush helping out Lucan (and us) had cost him. It appeared that the decision to stop off in Trolanport had been his in an attempt to recoup some of the losses he had made on the journey.

By comparison Lucan was open and jovial. He had apparently been a member of The Dark Lanterns for several years and before that a member of the watch in Sharn. Nev took the opportunity to ask him what he knew of the activities of The Inspired, an ongoing concern of his.

It was getting towards noon on the second day of our journey when we reached Trolanport. We had passed it on our voyage by sea to Rhukaan Draal only a few weeks before but this was the first time I had had the opportunity to study it at leisure. It was probably the fairest city that I had ever laid eyes upon with artfully designed towers surrounded by wide streets and canals, which in turn were spanned by delicate bridges. To one side were the massive dockyards for which, amongst other things, Trolanport was famous.

Fraiya shared with us an usual fact, Trolanport had no official watch or constabulary but was one of the safest cities around. He hinted at a mysterious power that kept troublemakers in their place.

The Cloud’s Destiny headed for a docking tower. It was the second tallest structure in the city. The tallest being The White Tower, seat of the kingdom’s government, The Triumvirate someone called them. On docking a polite but clearly official looking gnome came onboard and asked to see our travel papers. That could have been a problem considering the circumstances that we had left Rhukaan Draal but smoothly Lucan produced the papers that he had been “holding for us” and these seemed to satisfy the gnome. Lucan informed us that we would be heading off again that night. He himself had to visit an “old friend”.

The six of us descended the tower by lightning lift. At ground level we could see wide plazas bordered by open-air tavernas. We hired a gondola and headed out to explore the city. It was easy enough to sell the items we no longer needed. Once we had enough money we found an emporium in a covered market that sold magical supplies and picked up the pearls, wine and owl feathers that I would need. As we were leaving the market the first of three rather curious events took place. A gnome approached us and, having guessed we were “adventurers” asked if we were interested in buying some “exotic items of antiquity” he had for sale. My curiosity was peaked and we followed him to another part of the market. But suddenly the trader spotted two gray-cloaked gnomes heading his way. He quickly declared that he had been mistaken and dashed off. The gray-cloaked gnomes passed us without a word.

We had conducted the afternoon affairs at a leisurely pace and  it was now evening. The multi-coloured torches had now been added to the streets and canals in the dusk only increased the beauty of the city. The smell of cooking food drifted through the air and my companions were eager to get something to eat. Now that I had the materials to cast the identify spells I was just as eager to unlock the secrets of our finds. Altera, Toryil, Fraiya and Nev decided to try one of the local restaurants while War-Forged and I headed back to The Cloud’s Destiny . War-Forged, of course, didn’t eat so missing out on the food didn’t really mean much to him but I think he was also concerned about the safety of what he still carried in Lady Elaydren’s bag.

A second curious thing happened just as War-Forged and I reached the docking tower. An elven woman, concealed until then in the shadows, stepped out in front of us. She possessed the beauty that marked all her race and had a particular sparkle in her eyes. More worryingly she had a rapier at her belt and her hand was rested on the hilt , ready to draw it at a moment’s notice. Without bothering to introduce herself she demanded to know what business we had traveling with Lucan. It seemed pointless to deny that we were but neither of us felt inclined to tell her anything. She tried to encourage us to say more by drawing her sword. War-Forged replied in kind, unlimbering his war-hammer. For my part I had no desire to see things turn into a fight and I spun some tale of Lucas helping us out of a tight spot in the east and provided safe passage homeward, basically true but (hopefully) vague enough to be uninformative. The woman retorted that Lucan didn’t just help people and that he couldn’t be trusted. To a degree I secretly agreed with her, even if everything he said had been true Lucan he saved us (at great risk and expense) because he believed we could help his mission rather then for any benign feeling on his part. However, out loud, I pointed out that Lucan had never pointed a sword at us. The mysterious woman seemed to be inclined to be consolatory and re-sheathed her sword. Again she said that she wanted to warn us about our new friend. I was concerned that all of us should here what she had to say so it was agreed that we would all meet in a hours time by the statue of a gnomish philosopher we had spotted earlier.

War-Forged and I waited at the base of the tower for our companions to return. Unfortunately it was thirty minutes after the appointed hour when Nev, Altera and Fraiya appeared. Apparently after the meal, which I would soon learn had not been without it’s own adventures, Toryil gone to find a temple to The Undying Court.

During the course of their meal a half-elven gentleman at another table had started to show signs of distress and then promptly collapsed at his table. None of the diners seemed to even notice. To Altera’s dismay Toryil quickly got up to see to the poor man, despite a gnomish woman at the next table putting a discouraging hand on his chest, but the half-elf was dead. The other patrons had seemed eager to carry on their nights entertainments and ignore the stricken man but when Toryil got involved a concerned silence had fallen over the room. Just as Toryil was coming to the conclusion that there was nothing he could do for the half-elf three gnomes appeared with a stretcher. They efficiently loaded the corpse on board, left a few coins from his purse to pay for the meal and then carried him off. Once Toryil, at the encouragement of Altera, returned to his seat the restaurant returned to normal.

This news, coming on top of our encounter with the rapier-wielding elf, was starting to undermine my belief in Trolanports reputation for safety and I was uncomfortable that Toryil was on his own.  Quickly we headed out to look for him but by the time we found the priest and headed for our meeting spot it was well over an hour past the appointed time. There was no sign of the mysterious woman, if she had ever been there at all.

Bemused and a little paranoid we returned to The Cloud’s Destiny. Despite all that had happened I was still eager to cast the two Identify spell I had learnt, even if it would take two hours.

I cast the first on War-Forged metal disk. Under the power of the spell it was revealed to be an “Essence of the Scout”. While it was attached to War-Forged it would go a long way to off-setting the problems his adamantium body gave him while trying to sneak around.

I cast the second spell on the magical pearl and was please to find that it was a Pearl of Power. While it was of the lowest order of power such an item is always a welcome boon to a spell caster.

Before dawn The Cloud’s Destiny set off once again.

The next morning I re-learnt my spells and went looking for Toryil so I could divine the secrets of the double-ended scimitar. I had been unconscious when my friends had pulled it off of the carcass of the Carrion Crab and Toryil, always a little over protective about things of elven origin, had kept an close eye on it ever since. As such this was the first time I had had a close look at the weapon. While I have no great love of weaponry even I would have to admit it was a handsomely crafted weapon. It was a double headed scimitar, basically two scimitars jointed at the hilt. The swordsmith had forged the blades into the shape of a horse, with one blade the horse’s head and the other its tail. Yes, I know that sounds odd but if you ever saw the weapon itself you would understand.  I didn’t need the Identify spell to reveal that the weapon was called “Talaen Kara”, it was engraved in elven on one of the blades.  What the spell did reveal as very surprising. The weapon had a low level of intelligence that reached out to me when I touched it. The intelligence was wild and headstrong, like a horse. To command the sword would take an elf or someone, like Altera, who had a natural empathy with animals. Someone who did master it could call upon it’s true power; Talaen Kara could Bless the swordsman and his allies and the enchantments on the blades would increase if wielded from horse back.

At some point Altera had mentioned to Captain Morgis about the incident in the restaurant. The captain had suggest that they had witnessed “The Trust”, Trolanport’s unofficial but highly effective guardians of law and order at work.

After a quick discussion between the six of us we decided to tell Lucan about our encounter with the mysterious elven woman the night before. He identified her as Areydnee. She and Lucan were in the same business and had been both allies and rivals in the past. However while he was motivated by loyalty to his king she would work for whoever paid her which, he believed, was The Shadow Network of House Thuranni at the moment. According to Lucan she saw the struggles of the shadow war as a game to be played. She had probably, he conjectured, hoped to provoke a fight with us the night before so the unseen guardians of Trolanport’s peace would toss us in jail.

The next day and a bit passed without incident. Nev spent a lot of time practicing his graceful, meditative dances that served to focus his mind and psionic disciples. We ran into rain before noon, a sure sign that we were nearing home. It was still raining, of course, when we sighted the towering  edifice of Sharn, perched high on it’s cliff. It may have be home but I had to admit that Sharn, unlike Trolanport, could never be called a beautiful city.

With consummate skill the crew of The Cloud’s Destiny wove their ways around the towers and brought the airship to rest on the Central Plateau. As we disembarked Lucan shock all our hands and reminded us that he would be in contact in a week. As we shouldered our packs and headed off into the city. I for one was eager to find Lady Elaydren and get rid of our dangerous cargo a quickly as possible.


DMs Notes:

After the hectic escape from Rhukaan Draal the previous week, this was a chance to relax, roleplay and get to see Zilargo.  Even so quite a lot happened and the PCs possibly understand more of what could be happening in the background and why certain factions are involved.

Concerning Talaen Kara, as written this is a CG ego weapon, but I much prefer the idea that it is NG (i.e. Usable by all good people). This fits in with the idea that alignments are more flexible in Eberron, and that weapons usable by one specific alignment would be very rare.