Chronicles of Khaldun: Crux of Eternity

The Tatters of the King, Part 1

Freeday, Harvester 7, 552 CY (50 AN)

The Shields of the Sorrowfell awaken one by one. Peren and Torinn make their way downstairs to the dining area of the Laughing Maiden. They are joined after a short while by Bezaldooz. Bezaldooz seems somehow…different. He is wearing his heavy cloak with the hood pulled over his head. His skin seems paler. Perhaps most striking, a small humanoid figure — roughly ten inches tall and grotesque in demeanor — sits on his shoulder. He introduces the creature as “Bob” or “Bono” and indicates that it’s his familiar.

Bosabrieln joins the group a little later, having spent the morning making preparations. He immediately recognizes Bono as a quasit, a demonic creature that usually attempts to tempt weak-willed mages into evil acts. After asking the requisite questions and receiving few answers, conversation resumes. Bosabrieln indicates that he has an announcement, but would like to wait for Valna.

When Valna enters the dining area, she is struck by a vision — in an instant, she knows that Bezaldooz has pacted with the foul quasit on his shoulder, and that he is now a vampire. She does not act on the information, instead planning to address it whenever he is gone.

Bosabrieln proceeds to announce that he has been organizing a meet-and-greet tonight as a publicity opportunity. He will be signing autographs for a silver piece and offering kisses for a copper piece. Said meet-and-greet is to occur here, at the Laughing Maiden, sometime after dinner.

After further discussion, Torinn decides to wander off, possibly to check out the market. Bezaldooz gives Bono permission to wander and find food; within a minute, Bezaldooz has lost mental rapport with Bono, indicating he has moved beyond 100 feet and is no longer subject to Bezaldooz’s commands. Bezaldooz decides to wander into the city to look for him.

With Bezaldooz gone, Valna mentions her concerns to Bosabrieln and Peren. The group decides to let it go so long as Bezaldooz doesn’t seem to go too far with his studies; at the moment, his actions are merely questionable, and he does not appear to have done anything malicious to anyone. That having been decided, the group decides to go its separate ways until the evening so that they can gather supplies and make preparations.

That evening, the group convenes again at the Laughing Maiden. Bosabrieln buys the Shields dinner and sits and waits. As people begin to arrive, Bosabrieln greets them, talking to townsfolk, signing autographs, and offering kisses upon request. He singles out a few attractive travelers and suggests they stay until after the event ends.

At one point, Peren spots a large, unattractive noblewoman he recognizes from his imprisonment. He walks over to her and thanks her for his freedom — which seems to confuse and upset her.

As the evening continues, a humanoid construct, holding a sword and wearing a red toga over its armor, walks into the common room of the inn. Several of the people in line move out of the way as it strides forward. Valna, among others, recognizes it as a kolyarut, a creature from Mechanus making it kin to the modrons. Kolyarut specifically arrive to punish oath-breakers.

Significantly nervous, the Shields await the kolyarut. The construct asks if they are the Shields of the Sorrowfell, and whether or not they recently put Lord Oculus in the “dead-book.” When they confirm both, it indicates that its master wishes to offer them a job. Relieved, Bosabrieln asks if it can wait an hour for him to finish. It agrees to do so and stands by the bar until then.

An hour later, with most of the visitors gone, the kolyarut returns. The Shields speak to it, and it indicates it is a representative of the Planar Trade Consortium. The Consortium owns a piece of real estate that the kolyarut’s master, an oni mage named Estevan, would like cleared. The Shields ask if they can speak to Estevan about this, and the kolyarut indicates they may. They arrange a meeting the following morning at the Plum Blossom Inn, in the market district. The kolyarut takes its leave, and the Shields take to bed. Valna, apparently having some quarrel with Peren, prompts him to get his own room, while Bosabrieln shares his room with a few others.

Bosabrieln also has an opportunity to tally his funds in the early morning, and determines that he made 104 cp and 64 sp.

The next morning, the Shields awaken, eat breakfast, and make their way to the Plum Blossom Inn. A clerk behind the desk greets them, and when Bosabrieln asks to see an oni named Estevan, the clerk indicates that an Estevan is staying there, but he’s certainly no oni. Recalling their propensity for illusions, Bosabrieln plays it off as a joke. The clerk directs them to Estevan’s room in the Imperial Suite on the top floor.

Bosabrieln knocks on the door and a voice asks them to enter. A large, blue humanoid clad in a kimono sits before a table. A tea set sits before him, as do five chairs. He introduces himself as Estevan, and bids them to sit and discuss business. He offers them tea. All but Torinn accept.

Estevan proceeds to inquire as to how much the Shields know about the workings of Sigil and its many portals, and explains that the Planar Trade Consortium has access to a portal which leads to a distant land called Carcosa. The portal leads specifically to the upper levels of some ancient ruin, apparently a wrecked air ship of alien design. A tribe of Purple Men — for the humans of Carcosa are designated by the vibrant colors of their skins — inhabits this upper level, calling their village and its environs “Skyfall.” The Consortium has established contact with these Purple Men and wishes to clear the upper level of monsters so that the tribesmen can expands their village throughout the upper level of the ruin. They hope that this will create a base of operations from which adventurers can launch expeditions into the ruins beneath Skyfall, as the boomtowns that grow around dungeons tend to be quite lucrative.

As such, Estevan offers them an astral diamond — commonly worth 10,000 gp — as well as salvage rights to anything they find so long as they help clear the top floor of the Skyfall delve. Estevan also notes that another group of adventurers from the world of Eberron will be joining them, and he has other groups he wishes to contact should the Shields refuse. The Shields briefly take their leave to discuss, and reply that they will take the job. They arrange for a couple hours to gather supplies and ready themselves — particularly Bezaldooz, who hopes to find his quasit Bono in the meantime, and Bosabrieln, who is waiting for a message from Vianibrar which will not travel across planar boundaries. Estevan agrees and indicates that his associates will be notified of their arrival. He gives them a single desert rose, telling them that this acts as a portal key to Sigil; a portal rests in the alley beside the Plum Blossom Inn, and if they carry the desert rose, it will open. That should take them to the Lady’s Ward, and from there, he gives them directions to find the Planar Trade Consortium offices housing the Carcosa-gate. The Shields thank him and take their leave.

The group spends a couple of hours gathering supplies, particularly a second desert rose, and waiting — Bezaldooz awaits the return of Bono the quasit and Bosabrieln awaits a response from Vianibrar. Within an hour or so, Bosabrieln receives a message in his mind, reading, “Glad to hear it. We can discuss matters further the next time you are in Duchy Jepson. Love, Vianibrar.” When Bono does not return, Bezaldooz decides to disembark without him. As the Shields approach the portal to Sigil, Bezaldooz feels Bono’s proximity. Reestablishing a mental rapport, he tells him to never leave his presence. Bono asks what he thinks happens when he sleeps as he crawls onto Bezaldooz’s shoulder. The Shields walk into the alleyway, and as the vista before them changes in their proximity, they walk forward.

They emerge into a different alleyway. A light drizzle falls as they recognize the surroundings of Sigil, the City of Doors. Following Estevan’s directions, they find themselves at a relatively unremarkable building. After stating their business to the guards — the building seems surprisingly heavily-guarded — and the receptionist, they are granted access and given directions to the back rooms. They are told to await Fu Dara in one of the back rooms; they are also informed that the other adventuring party may be about, although the receptionist just started her shift, so she does not know.

Following directions, the Shields wander through the maze of corridors and open the door to the waiting room, as instructed. A group of five are already within. Introductions are made; they introduce themselves to be the adventuring party known as the Mourners of the Saerun Road. They are led by Wilkul Chorster, human cleric, and also comprise the eladrin Prulove Soundinghorn, a wizard by her look; the dragonborn Quotumal Goldheart, likely a fighter; the tiefling Norros Babausong; and the warforged Indrak Kingpost. Valna hugs each in greeting. The Mourners carry themselves with military bearing, and seem to find the Shields’ significantly more relaxed demeanor a trifle uncouth. The Mourners discuss strategy and indicate their plan of attack on a crude map: the Shields will take the left half of the complex, while the Mourners will take the right half. They’ll go room-to-room, either confirming that each is empty or clearing it of hostile inhabitants. The Shields are amenable to this arrangement.

The groups engage in idle chatter while waiting for Fu Dara. Peren starts shamelessly flirting with Prulove, although she appears to sense his troubles with Valna, and starts to ask about them when Valna comes over and drags him away.

Within a few minutes, Fu Dara arrives. He adds a few details regarding the settlement of Skyfall and the Carcosa-gate, but with no further questions from either group, he escorts the groups to the gate-room. The room appears to have been built around an old alleyway, which has been kept intact. Several guards are positioned in the room, including two flanking the alleyway and archway within. Fu Dara directs the groups to the alleyway, and indicates that the guards will grant them access. He says that he believes Northrax, a modron and another member of the Consortium, may be on the other side to give them further instructions. As they approach, one of the guards closes his eyes and the portal opens. The assembled party enters the gate.

They emerge in a room made of metal and other, stranger materials. An oddly-shaped gate sits behind them, and a couple of guards stand in this room. The guards direct them on how to approach the village of Skyfall proper, or how to access the rest of the complex. The group decides to meet the villagers of Skyfall first. They enter a room to see the back half has been violently removed, and is exposed to the open air. A collection of humans with purple skin and primitive dress — largely animal hides — resides in this room. A woman is speaking to a strange, cuboidal creature which is presumably Northrax the modron. The adults seem used to these sorts of newcomers, but the children stare at the strange, pink-skinned beings from beyond the gate.

The modron introduces himself as Northrax, and introduces the assembled party to She of the Dying Light, the chieftain of this tribe, as well as her father The Sight Beyond the Sun, the tribe’s blind shaman. Northrax then takes his leave. She of the Dying Light explains that the tribe has made only minimal forays into the bulk of the wrecked vessel, although they did cut clear across to the armory once. They had little time to investigate, but one of their number — one named Iathacl the Storyteller — managed to gain a suit of powered armor. He has since left the tribe for parts unknown; she does not know if they will encounter him, but it is a possibility. Otherwise, the vessel appears to play host to the strange, bulbous-headed men from the stars who came with the vessel. They have lost access to the ship’s technology, instead living a tribal lifestyle. Various other mutant creatures have been encountered, although with considerably less frequency.

The groups thank She of the Dying Light for her information, and then exit the room. The Shields wish the Mourners good luck, and give them a sending stone. They agree to establish contact in one hour. The Mourners leave to begin that group’s part of the expedition. Bezaldooz, Peren, and Torinn start taking bets as to how many of them will die. After that matter is settled, the Shields head off to explore the wrecked hull.

The Shields first come to a large room containing several beds, which they quickly surmise to be some manner of hospital. They find little of value, although they do find some manner of healing dose, apparently manufactured by the ship’s previous inhabitants.

The group moves forward and wrenches open another door to find five grey-skinned humanoids with black eyes and bulbous heads. They appear to have heard the intruders, and are ready for battle with their spears and hide shields. In the middle of the room, displayed in a place of prominence, is a gold statuette, apparently of a sitting humanoid.

The clash is brutal and swift. Bezaldooz opens by slinging spells, and with a gesture, some of the alien’s blood flows from it and into Bezaldooz’s waiting palm where it is absorbed. Peren and Torinn wade into the thick of battle, while Bosabrieln provides support. Valna and, surprisingly, Bezaldooz also get into the mix, as he conjures demonic apparitions to vex his humanoid foes. When he withdraws, he sends Bono into combat to harry the humanoids.

Within seconds, it is done. Although the grey-skinned humanoids are deft with their spears, they are no match for the more-experienced Shields. One by one, they are slain.

The Shields find little of value apart from the statuette. Gold with black pearl eyes, it depicts a humanoid sitting in a chair. However, this humanoid displays bat wings and an octopoid head.

Victorious, the Shields rest briefly before continuing their examination of the ruined vessel.

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