Eberron: Nocturne

Prelude: The Prince
In Which We Meet Bex.

Posted by Darth Krzysztof

994 YK

He looks like any other man, but he talks like a prince.

Bex closed the door behind her and crossed the vast chamber to the Prince’s desk, bootheels echoing on flagstone. He rose out of the overstuffed chair to offer her a solid handshake, then sat back down, waving her toward the other chair, which groaned and wobbled beneath her.

The desk and chairs were the chamber’s sole decorations. Some castles hung tapestries to hide the bare stone walls, or placed suits of armor on stands, but the Prince was a practical man with a war to win. No time for distractions, Bex thought. And no need. The desk was neat… tidy, even, without a scroll or map out of place.

Prince Oargev ir’Wynarn reached for a bottle of whiskey, then offered her a drink; when she politely refused, he poured one for himself, drank it, and poured another. The brown of the whiskey matched his eyes; its smoothness touched his voice. “I’m glad you’re here, Bex,” he said. Then: “Should I call you Bex?”

“Please. That is my name – my real one, I mean. ‘Rebexa Chandler’ is just the name I use with this.” She briefly waved her right hand over the face she wore. She’d come up with that name on the fly, and had never been happy with it… “This is who I am most of the time.”

The Prince nodded, taking a sip. “But you can look like anyone.”

“Yes. I mean, I’d have to get a good look at someone to fool the people she knows. The longer I watch, the better I can get her down. And I can only get so small or so big. Otherwise… yes, pretty much anyone.” My handwriting’s always the same, too, but a magician never reveals all her secrets.

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Session 1: Blades in the Night
In Which the Cyrans Engage in a Far Night Firefight.

Sharn
Barmin Tower – House Sivis Message Station
6 Barrakas, 998 YK
Far, 8:13 PM

Thunder rumbled in the distance as the six Cyrans crossed the rain-slick skybridge that led to Barmin Tower. The rain fell at a steady pace, causing waterfalls to spill over the sides of the slanted rooftops and balcony railings. Ahead, the door to the House Sivis message station hung open at a strange angle, one of its hinges separated from the doorframe. Lightning flashed, and someone – or something – groaned from somewhere inside the otherwise quiet shop.

Be ready, Ralharath advised, the kalashtar’s voice resonating in his fellows’ minds. In one of her human guises, the changeling Bex muttered to herself and readied her weapon, a dagger fashioned from a carver’s claw.

The tiefling Arturo furrowed a ridged brow. “T’ain’t good,” he said. He and one of the warforged, a wizard called Relic, started toward the building. The artificer peered into the broken door, and his breath caught in his throat at the sight.

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Session 2: By Land
In Which the Cyrans Make Their Way to Darguun.

Lightning Rail – Sharn to Sterngate
7 Barrakas, 998 YK
Sar, 12:01 PM

The Cyrans booked standard passage for themselves on the lightning rail using a voucher provided by Lady Elaydren in the backpack, along with assorted equipment and a letter explaining the mission. As they took their seats, Rickard pulled the missive out and read through it again.

My friends,

The object you recovered for me from the ruins beneath Sharn is a schema, a piece of a pattern used to create items both mundane and magical. I have learned that another schema connected to this pattern was being studied in a secret Cannith workshop in Cyre, called Whitehearth. I wonder if this research is tied to the Day of Mourning?

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Session 3: The Bloody Market
In Which the Cyrans Search for a Ride to Rose Quarry.

Rhukaan Draal
21 Barrakas, 998 YK
Sar, 9:48 AM

Rocky first laid eyes upon Rhukaan Draal mid-morning of the fifth day after the attack. The caravan had seen no further trouble from the Kech Shaarat for the rest of the trip to the city, though Salter swore he would report the attack to the authorities in the city. The warforged approved. The caravan master had displayed the proper flags, and the raiders had ignored them and attacked anyway. The dead hobgoblins had received their just reward, but others had fled the same. It pleased the warden that they might yet suffer the consequences of flouting the law.

After Salter paid them the promised gold, the Cyrans entered the city. Once a Cyran frontier town, Rhukaan Draal had grown into a sprawling goblin metropolis. The architectural tapestry was dizzying; mud and timber huts surrounded ancient structures of stone and brick, interspersed with canvas tents and pavilions. Most of the roads were bare earth, and few of the wonders or conveniences of the more civilized cities were evident. Within the ramshackle city, Rocky noted that a single building dominated the skyline – an enormous tower of red stone that rose up from the very center of the city.

“That’s Khaar Mbar’ost, the court of the hobgoblin king,” Rickard commented. “Most folk just call it the ‘Red House’ though.”

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Session 4: The Excoriate
In Which the Cyrans Ride in Style.

Rhukaan Draal
21 Barrakas, 998 YK
Sar, 11:26 AM

“Go through them!” Failin cried, juking a thumb over his shoulder at the party. Well played, Bex thought with a crooked smirk. That’ll help us draw their attention away from you. The first bugbear to advance snarled as it brought its greataxe around the corner of the building and down on the older man’s shoulder, critically injuring Failin with a single swing.

“No one cheats the Marguul, Orien scum!” it declared with a vicious grin.

Rocky advanced past Failin and the changeling, engaging a second bugbear. He extended his sword arm in a hooking motion intended to pull the brute closer. The goblinoid avoided the maneuver, but was game to advance on the warforged anyway. It eschewed the greataxe slung across its back for a length of sharpened wire attached to two wooden handles, looping one edge around Rocky’s thick neck and squeezing tight. Though he had no airflow to cut off, the wire began to dig into the wood and metal connecting his head to his torso, and the bugbear yanked the warforged in front of him to serve as a body shield.

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Session 5: Skulking
In Which the Cyrans Sneak Through Rose Quarry.

Rose Quarry
24 Barrakas, 998 YK
Zol, 8:27 PM

“Oy, well here there be Emerald Claws,” Arturo said, chuckling nervously. He wasn’t thrilled that Rocky had decided to stay with the land cart to ensure Failin would not simply leave them out at Rose Quarry. The excoriate had assured them that he would remain to shuttle them back to Rhukaan Draal, and the tiefling believed him, but the warforged had not been so certain.

“The Emerald Claws are unpredictable,” Relic said, “but I have a feeling they would not like any intrusions. I suggest we go around their camp.”

“Sure,” Bex whispered, “but we still need to find out where Whitehearth is. And we have to figure out where in the ruins we might learn that.”

“Aye, I ‘spect we need to get ‘round these Claws no matter what,” Art concluded.

“Then I say we get moving,” Bex said, with her usual assertiveness. The tiefling liked that about her, but it also made him a little nervous sometimes. Rickard nodded silently as the four approached the outskirts of the village.

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Session 6: Dark Resonance
In Which the Cyrans Fight a Zombie Horde.

Rose Quarry
24 Barrakas, 998 YK
Zol, 9:15 PM

It seemed to Relic that the sounds of pickaxes striking glass sounded loudest somewhere to the east. He waited in the shadows of the large red-marble building with Rickard while Bex and Arturo scouted the glass-coated street to the south. They had decided to investigate this refinery – as the tiefling had called it – both because it seemed to be one of the more intact structures remaining in Rose Quarry and because there seemed to be light coming from within. The wizard’s gaze strayed up the thirty foot wall, and he wondered if they would sufficiently block the sounds of combat should a fight erupt within the building – as it often did for the Cyrans.

His ponderings were interrupted when Rickard nodded and turned to him with a grim expression. “More zombies,” he said softly, relaying the message from the scouts. Relic acknowledged him and stepped around the corner cautiously. He saw Arturo in the shadows of the building across the “street”, and Bex lurked near the hole in the wall of the red-stone building. The front of the refinery had a keystone above the arched doorway carved with an anvil and gorgon – the symbol of House Cannith. While the outer walls were intact, little else was left of the structure. The roof, doors, and upper floors had been reduced to cinders and rubble. Faint light spilled out of the empty doorway, its source somewhere deeper within the building.

The changeling stepped into the refinery and out of sight as the wizard drew near. Relic stopped short when he peered within and saw her frozen just inside the entrance. The reason was readily apparent: a glass zombie was slowly lurching away from their position, apparently having left the nearby side chamber. It appeared to be bound for a larger chamber, from which the light emanated. Once there, it turned the corner and Relic heard Bex release a held breath.

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Session 7: Cyre-That-Was
In Which the Cyrans Come Home.

Rose Quarry
24 Barrakas, 998 YK
Zol, 9:36 PM

Bex scratched her chin thoughtfully. “Anyone have any ideas?”

“Match the colors?” Arturo suggested, moving to clear the rubble away from the floor in front of the northern fireplace. The others shrugged and pitched in to help.

“My guess is that burning some offering in the right fireplaces might show Whitehearth’s location on the map,” Bex offered.

“Or the location to Redhearth!” Relic said excitedly.

“Or…that. Sure.” Bex aimed a crooked smile in the wizard’s direction.

“Aren’t we looking for Whitehearth?” Rickard asked, confused by the warforged’s enthusiasm.

“Whitehearth for the job. Redhearth for me,” Relic explained.

“Oh, I see.”

“No one has seen Aarren d’Cannith in ages. This might be a clue to his location. Some conspiracy theorists believe he is actually the Lord of Blades.”

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Session 8: Olkhaan
In Which the Cyrans Sift Through the Ruins of the Mourning.

The Mournland
25 Barrakas, 998 YK
Wir, 7:40 AM

Rickard looked shaken and climbed into the elemental land cart without a word. Bex needed help getting into the vehicle and Rocky obliged her. Once everyone was aboard, Art opened his satchel and dumped the coins they’d recovered from the bodies on the battlefield in a pile on the floor. He looked up at Failin and declared, “Just a drop in tha’ hat o’ what ye can expect, sir.”

He tossed a platinum coin to the excoriate, who snatched it deftly out of the air and eyed it appraisingly. “Hm. Bled enough for it. Foolish venture. Exciting. But reckless. Onward?” A sarcastic note flavored his usually toneless voice.

“Nothin’ worth not workin’ for!” the tiefling said. “I suspect we kin rest here a moment. I kin tend to our wounds.”

“As you like.”

“Would…appreciate that,” Bex groaned.

“Aye, girly. We’ll git ye all right as rain,” Arturo said gently.

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Session 9: Ruins of Whitehearth
In Which the Cyrans Arrive at Whitehearth.

The Mournland – East of Olkhaan
25 Barrakas, 998 YK
Wir, 11:10 AM

Failin was pinned under the elemental land cart, and only Rocky’s metal body and strength seemed to keep it from crushing him. “Dammit, Rock, hold on!” Arturo cried as he staggered to his feet. “Keep cover and keep Failin safe!” Bex took a more aggressive approach, kipping up with the magic of her boots and sprinting across the field at the giant crab monster. As she flung her blade, it snapped at her reactively, cutting through leather armor and flesh cleanly. The changeling looked down in dismay at the line of blood along her ribs. She took some small grim satisfaction when her knife returned to her hand stained with ichor from where it had impaled the beast.

While the spellcasters regained their feet and moved to get a better angle on the creature, Bex narrowly avoided its grasping pincer. The crab squealed in frustration, and the Cyrans could see cracks along its ridged shell. Strangely colored fluids had congealed from these older injuries. When Arturo got a better look at the beast, he recognized the threat it presented more clearly. “Aye, it’s poisonous!” he shouted to the others. “Steer clear of its claws an’ the damnable spines!”

Rickard muttered a curse and a hand of shadow reached out from under the overturned wagon to take hold of the crab. It struggled against the umbral appendage, but with a snarl of will, the warlock overcame the behemoth’s resistance. The spell added another crack to its shell and momentarily prevented it from advancing upon him. So inhibited, the crab turned its hideous eyestalks to the south, scuttling toward Bex and Arturo and reaching out a claw for each of them.

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