Players: Malcolm Campbell (Baron Faith), Neil McClean (Gellis Tarn)
Date: 23 December 2008
Morday, 8 Allsend 1082 PS
Slightly over a week has passed since the bloodbath in the Docklands, and Duke Comet is still to make a move in retaliation. Relaxing at the town house of Baron Sarlan, taking tea in preparation for his meeting with the green dragonborn, Helman Faith reflects that he just might have got away from it.
He has taken certain precautions since the wanton carnage. Distancing himself from that nutcase Amman was an important first step. He has also put Gellis on the payroll full-time, just in case he needs protection. Gellis is in the kitchens now, helping themselves to Sarlan’s provisions. Hopefully the elf’s presence will not be necessary, and Faith can enjoy an extended period without his life being placed in jeopardy.
Faith looks up as Baron Sarlan enters the room. The green dragonborn is as inscrutable as ever. Sarlan sits down opposite Faith and regards him gravely. He has bad news. No not the Dukes. Neither Duke Comet nor Duke Crucible seem to have realised that Faith has been persistantly working against there interests. This is something altogether more unsettling, and something that hits the Baron closer to home.
“What do you know of the Tangled Skein?” Sarlan rasps. Faith has heard of them: a nasty bunch of necromancers, demonologists and life-splicers. What of them? Sarlan says that the a large force of Tangled Skein left Karris’Mhor yesterday and are heading east across the Darkenmere toward the Aventurine Hills. More specifically, they are going to Faith Holds: Baron Faith’s lucrative holdings in that area.
Sarlan does not know why the Skein are moving such a force through the swamp, neither does he know what their intentions might be when they get there. However, as Faith Holds is one of the main sources of Karris’Mhor’s aventurine supply, he suggests that stopping them should be Faith’s new priority. Now that this intelligence has been delivered, Sarlan must bid Faith good day. He has another, more important guest in his home.
Faith takes his leave of Sarlan, carefully weighing the import of his mentor’s words. He ignores Gellis’s chirpy blather as the pair leave Sarlan’s townhouse and return to Faith’s own abode (about two doors up). It is when they are halfway between the two, that they are ambushed by a group of hideous and misshapen undead, and their black-robed masters. Faith never thought such creatures would be able to find their way into the Secret City. He quickly defends himself.
The fight looks lost before it has begun, until help arrives from an unexpected quarter. A kobold, a moloke dragonborn and two dwarves rush forward to assist Baron Faith and his companion. Even in the heat of battle, Faith notices that both the kobold and the moloke work for him. They are each sporting the family crest of the House of Mhor, and he recognises them from Faith Holds. The kobold is Crux, a trusted member of the allied kobold clans. The moloke is one of the sergeants-of-the-guard of Faith’s own militia. What are they doing in Karris’Mhor? Their presence, the undead and Sarlan’s message can hardly be a coinicidence.
The fight is brutal and lengthy, but the arrival of Crux and his allies turns the tide against the necromancers and their creations. They dispatch the unliving beasties and, with gargantuan effort, manage to render one of the necromancers unconscious. Standing over the prone form of the black-robed villain, Faith thanks Crux for his timely arrival. There is evidently much to discuss, but this may not be the time or the place.
Heavily-armed members of the Royal Guard now arrive on the road. Faith senses that the mystery behind this attack is not necessarily something he wants to share with the soldiers, or their masters. Using his own position, and the authority of Baron Sarlan, Faith takes charge of the situation. He dismisses the Royal Guard and orders his servants to carry the unconscious body of the necromancer into Sarlan’s town house. Gellis ties the body securely to a chair, and then searches his belongings. In addition to the usual paraphernalia of infamy, Gellis finds a glass orb that he hands to the baron.
Faith accepts it, and then turns to quiz his retainers. Why are they here in the Secret City? And can they tell him anything about these necromancers? Crux says that he has journeyed all this way to show Baron Faith an odd mineral that has been recovered from the Faith Mine up in Faith Holds. “You have a mine?” Gellis asks. Faith ignores him, as he watches the kobol rummage around in his bag. Crux produces an odd crystalline substance, purple in hue. He says that it is possessed of feint magical characteristics, although no-one in Faith Holds has been able to identify it. Faith examines the material closely, but cannot learn any more from it. He turns back to Crux. Obviously, there is more.
The kobold nods. Faith Holds is haunted. None of the inhabitants venture out of doors at night. They are frightened. “You have a whole town?” Gellis asks. Crux ignores him. Crux speculates that perhaps something has been disturbed in the mine, but has no evidence of this. He knows that it is much to ask, but could the baron return with him and put an end to all this trouble? Faith smiles grimly. He thinks he can fit that in with his plans.
But what of the dwarves? Baron Faith looks sternly at Baggie and Athik Bloodiron. How are they connected with this? Crux reports that a large number of dwarves from the Bloodiron Clan stopped over at Lake Faith a few weeks ago. “You have a lake?” Gellis asks. He doesn’t expect a response. Most of the dwarves moved on to Karris’Mhor, but three remained to help against the undead. Two of them agreed to help protect Crux on the trip back to Karris’Mhor.
Faith nods knowingly, and thanks the dwarves for their assistance. It seems that any other answers are going to have to come from their prisoner. He orders Gellis to wake him up. Gellis looks around and spies a vase on an elegant darkwood dresser. He dumps the flowers and throws the water over the necromancer. The villain splutters and opens his eyes. Realising his predicament he struggles vainly against his bonds.
Baron Faith moves in to begin the interrogation. Who is he? Who does he work for? Why is he here? Gellis has to admit that the baron has a talent for inspiring bowel-loosening terror in his enemies. It takes a lot to put the frighteners on a necromancer, but Faith certainly has the right stuff. The man says that his name is Edric. He is a member of the Weavers Guild, although that is not where his allegiance lies. He has been hired by the Tangled Skein.
Faith colours himself unsurprised. What was the nature of the employ? Edric looks nervous, and is sweating profusely, as if he fears what will happen if he reveals any further secrets. The baron senses this and tries take a different tact.
What other crimes has he perpetrated on behalf of the Skein? What sort of man is the baron dealing with? Edric gleefully confesses to abducting a young child from the head of the Guild of Husbandry, for torturing a member of the City Watch for information about Skein members he held in custody and then killing the guard afterwards. Edric’s litany of atrocities is impressive, and he seems quite proud of them. Faith asks again: what was the nature of your mission. This time Edric slips up.
He says that he was ordered to target the scaled ones (meaning Crux and the Sergeant-at-arms). The aim was to retrieve any gems, rocks and pebbles they might have been carrying. Edric has now been overtaken by a deathly pallor. Cold sweat is running down his face. The ropes are straining under a renewed desire to be free. And is he getting bigger?
“Boss?” prompts Gellis, retreating to the other side of the room and drawing his bow. “Mr F? You’re seeing that, right?” But Baron Faith isn’t finished. Who are his masters? How does Faith contact them? Edric nods to the orb. “They contacted me through that. Imps. I can’t contact them myself!” Faith looks down at the orb in his hand. It is pulsing with an infernal light. And then it shatters.
At the same moment the ropes holding the necromancer burst, and the prisoner staggers to his feet. But this is no longer Edric the Weaver. A huge misshapen undead monstrosity stands in his place, and this horrid creature lunges for Faith.
Gellis lets fly with an arrow, planting it firmly in the monsters chest. Faith quickly steps backwards allowing Crux, the Sergeant and the two Bloodirons to swarm the beastie. Gellis can no longer get a clear shot at the monster. Swearing inventively, he draws his swords and moves in.
The undead creature is extremely resistant to damage. Gellis dances in and out of combat like a fairy, staying outside the range of the monster’s claws, and allowing it to pound on the dwarves instead. A combination of flailing fists, swords, axes and breath-weapons succeed in breaking Sarlan’s antique chairs, upending a bookcase and bringing down a chandelier. But eventually, the creature is destroyed.
Faith quickly scans the damage to Baron Sarlan’s study, as he hears the sound of heavy footsteps quickly approaching the room. The double doors are thrown open and an enormous blue dragonborn stands framed in the doorway. He is holding a staff in his hand that crackles with electrical energy. Rather than leap into the fray the newcomer puts his hand on his hip, poses and turns his good side to the assembled. “It’s all right, I’m here!” he booms.
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