The Continent of Morkane

Bardic Interlude 1
The Green Wagon Pub, Windshire, Four Days North-West from Aequora

Panting a bit, a young gnome clad in a bright red doublet and shiny, shin-high leather boots thrashes out the final chord of a song on his lute. The sparse audience of beer-gutted barflies lets out a resoundingly mediocre acknowledgement, some even taking the effort to clap in a very nearly unsarcastic manner. The stage, small even for a performer of his stature, creaks a bit under the gnome’s feet as he steps over to a stool near the wall, upon which rests a healthy-sized mug of ale. The gnome sighs as he scans his lackluster crowd. Then he frowns. The muscles in his face ripple as he grits his teeth. He snatches up the mug, tilts it back, and downs its contents in a few mighty chugs. A wry smile spreads across his face as the last drop of beer rolls off his chin an onto his lute. He calmly steps back to center stage— the achingly quiet room filled only with the groan of the floor boards. He pops his knuckles, and begins strumming softly.

Come gather ’round, so you can hear
Lend a coin, and lend your ear
I sing of those who know no fear
the brave Aequora Three

Outlaws, brigands, each of them
taking coin and taking gem
but to this role do not condemn
the brave Aequora Three!

For happened they, upon a plan
by an unknown, evil man
to take over a peaceful land
of folks like you or me.

First died a city alderman,
and for this they would not stand
they took to the streets, and so began
the tale of the Aequora Three!

Questions, questions, all around
but no answers could be found
but to the task they were bound,
our noble Aequora Three.

Into a graveyard our team dared,
perchance to spy a suspect there,
but trap was sprung and teeth were bared
upon our daring three!

Spiders came from front and sides,
with venom and enormous size
but they knew not it was unwise
to attack the Aequora Three!

When the foes were all removed
investigations continued
’til at last they did conclude
where they needed to be.

In Drugar Stronghammer they did find
a cleric venerable and kind
The man of Cuthbert did not mind
the questions of the three.

But then when they suspected he
a trap was sprung, oh could it be
a holy man of bended knee
had bested our dear three?

Dropped 50 feet by cleric’s hand,
upon hard rock they soon did land,
and darkness closed upon our band,
in catacombs underneath.

And all too soon they did greet
those that they’d been sent to meet
More spiders, there to make a treat
of the Aequora Three!

So big that this whole room they’d fill!
Bigger than the lumber mill!
Bigger, yes, and bigger still
than ever should there be!

Yet each of them was felled!
By hammer, arrow, stone and spell
All sent to a spidery hell
by the Aequora Three!

Then from the catacombs they sped
with Stronghammer thinking them dead
to expose the cad and have his head,
for trifling with the Three!

With Nesha Quickblade our team met,
with her their very own trap was set,
to snare the cleric in their net
and bask in victory.

And soon the plan was carried out
with Drugar’s forces strewn about
the team captured the vile lout
and let the Sheriff see!

And when all was said and done,
the case was made, the trial won,
because of Aequora’s favorite sons,
the great Aequora Three!

Dripping with sweat, the young bard belts out the final line in time with his audience— all on their feet and clamoring for more. “Thank you! Thank you!” He shouts into the din, as waves of applause crash across the tiny stage.

So Far

1. Drugar Stronghammer, evil cleric in league with Drow, is defeated and imprisoned.
2. Poor District renovation vote passes. Poor District begins to flourish. Shen appears, congratulates, and rewards the gang. He seems distracted, and points the gang to a small village that was the most recent to be destroyed by an incredibly big creature, and tasks them with investigating and stopping the occurrences. The gang becomes moderately famous in town as folk heroes, particularly in the poor district.
3. Kadtranach Episode. The Aequora Three track and defeat a city-sized lizard, piloted by Gnolls and an evil Hound Archon. Surrounding towns are saved. The Three release the creature from it’s planar bindings, thereby returning it to its home plane and infuriating a powerful mage-run trade commission that the gang doesn’t stick around long enough to find out much about.
4. The gang returns to Aequora to even greater renown. Now even the city aldermen, reluctant at first to embrace the heroic outlaws, champion the group. The group finds, however, that their meddling has brought scrutiny and attention to the poor district— a fact that their previous employers are not happy with. Minion is missing, and his bar is abandoned.
5. The gang infiltrates and subsequently fucks up the Aequora Syndicate. Minion is rescued and the town now regards the gang as official “consultants”, gifting them a captured estate.
6. Time passes as the gang waits to hear from Shen. A month later, he appears frazzled, weary, and distracted in front of their home. He makes up for the gang’s back-pay, and gives them all pearls that can be used to contact him. The gang and he are familiar with the Drow incursion taking place across the continent, but even he is at a loss as to how to stop it or why it’s happening. Shen suggests that the gang investigate a small nearby village that had been occupied by Drow. Shen promptly leaves when he runs out of answers for the gang’s questions.
7. The gang considers their options, and instead scours the area for a way into/out of the underdark. Finding one, they investigate it, and then head back to town to gather supplies.
8. During the course of their outfitting, a cold-fire elemental breaks loose into the streets and begins attacking the townspeople. Despite the pleas of the mages trailing in the creature’s wake, the gang kills it, thereby infuriating yet another powerful group of casters. Aelith doesn’t give a fuck. Not a single fuck.
9. The gang descends into the underdark, encountering Driders, and strange Drow. The encounters are not the most illuminating, save that they seem to hate each other, and that the Driders possess some kind of portaling ability. Diplomacy is attempted, but rebuffed. Intimidation has little effect. Weapons are begrudgingly employed.
10. A large skirmish between the two factions draws the attention of the team, who firmly entangle themselves in the fray, drawing the ire of all involved. The gang puts them all down.
11. After the fight the gang is witness to an attack on a drow refugee camp. Creatures unfamiliar though seemingly powerful destroy and kidnap many of the Drow with ease. The gang is bewildered, pausing for the night to weigh options.

April 19th
The Necropolis

Another sleepless night. At least this time it was from something other than nightmares. Now, it’s pain, more pain, and my own pungent odor of burnt flesh. Also, pain. To lie on my side is agony, and indeed sitting for extended periods is beyond me, so I have forced myself to avoid the would-be comfort of my bed in search of a little less sting. I’ve hobbled my way down the stairs away from Vimik and Aelith and am writing you now, dear Journal, in a strange eerie quiet I have never known from the Riverboat Rumshack.

I’m hoping I don’t wake anyone while I sit here at my favorite table, but in truth I know that shadowy place has made me strangely quiet, strangely deceptive; strangely something I’m not. I can light my way now with the magic it gave me, but today (or yesterday, at this hour), I’ve realized that my growing power, whatever it may be, is not enough. Perhaps it’s enough for the Syndicate, yes, but not enough for these strange enemies Aelith and I battle daily now. I suppose I’ll start from the beginning.

I don’t know if it was the excitement of our task at hand, or if all those idle months had made Aelith and I careless, but we traveled into the depths of the Syndicate with Vimik in tow. We claimed he was no threat, but it was a lie. Aelith and I knew that even we were now threats to the cautious Syndicate. We were there for information, but not for The Order, not even for ourselves – treason. With every casual question I asked, my muscles tensed, waiting for a slip-up from Aelith, myself, or heaven forbid from the new giant meandering his way through the corridors. But the gods smiled on us and we “escaped” with our lives and our answers. To the Necropolis.

Excuse me, dear Journal, my body reminds me of the rest of my story. Forgive me while I move to relieve the pain.

That’s better. Where were we… ah yes, The Necropolis District. Though Zane pointed us in the direction of the district on the curious note of several grave-robberies (of all things), I felt that perhaps this little adventure was an unrelated dead-end. Nevertheless, we set out in hopes of finding something that this “”/campaigns/the-continent-of-morkane/characters/shen" class=“wiki-content-link”>Shen" might find useful. With no hope of asking any questions of the Alderman in his keep, a stout, bombastic clerk pointed us instead in the direction of the graveyard (again, of all places) for a potential rendezvous with the head-of-the-dead himself. An odd place, to be sure, but who am I to make comments on other’s oddities? I have a miniature dragon now soul-linked with me, an ever-growing allure to the darkness, and risk my life daily for an elusive stranger that can walk through walls. Oddities, indeed.

Ah, speak of the Baatazu: it seems my pen scratching has awoken that very soul-linked beast. I suppose, despite my new gifts of silence those shadows have wrought me, they’re of no effect to one shaped by its darkness. Excuse me, dear Journal, while I make sure he’s comfortable.

We set about exploring the graveyard, but our endeavor was fruitless until Dimmil got caught in a bit of “trouble” (which doesn’t seem to effect him much now, as he lies curled and asleep at my feet). How no one noticed a group of very large spiders roaming around the districts namesake is beyond me, but I didn’t care: those monsters were about to kill my familiar. With much ferocity and a little ingenuity, we squashed those enormous bugs, and freed Dimmil from their web. And then, the Alderman appeared.

I was, of course, suspicious of his odd timing in an already odd location, but I believe, dear Journal, I have already touched on the subject of oddity, so I won’t bore you again with my skepticism. He beckoned us to follow and, wary as I was, walked boldly into yet another potentially fatal trap. I suppose we Gnomes are not well known for our inherent common sense. Plus, it was late. Yes, it was very late. We marched to his keep where we were finally able to have an audience with the powerful man. Tharesh Anduriel was his name, and he was as ready as we to get to the bottom of the murder of Banin. Our lead must have been a bit misguided, but any help we can now receive on the cold trail of the alderman’s murder is well received. He explained to us his bewilderment of the grave-robberies, stating that those that have been robbing the Necropolis of it’s dead have not been interested in jewels and other fineries. The only thing missing from the sites were the bodies, replaced instead with giant, disgusting spiders. I decided to ask the glaring question of “Who on Earth would do such a thing,” and Tharesh responded bluntly, “An evil cleric.”

Well, dear Journal, does this put us ever in a bind. Evil clerics don’t survive long in this city, not when one of the highest order of religion in the city is run by the good and vengeful ones. No, evil clerics are too dangerous and rare to be an option. Rare and dangerous… not unlike the Drow we encountered in the Court of Thieves. Curious, dear Journal, curious.

I suppose I’ll conclude then with the source of my injuries, and my humiliation. We made our way back from Tharesh’s keep, winding our way through the dark and twisting streets. Arriving at the Riverboat Rumshack, we turned in for the night, weary from the battle and the wild goose chase. Minion kindly took us in for the night (in the special way he often shows kindness) and upon the morning we ventured out to find ourselves an evil cleric. Instead, we found an evil sorcerer. An evil DROW sorcerer. And spiders. Great.

Though we defeated the Drow, a well-placed fireball on his part brought me to my knees. Aelith and Vimik came out unscathed, but I was killed but I was badly burned. My spells were barely enough to combat him, and I felt ashamed of this power in me that so many have coveted. It was worthless, useless, weak in comparison… And I will not let it happen again. The shadows scare me, but that is the vein of power that I must tap into to reach my potential. I am reminded of my failure with the sting of my skin clenched around this quill, and another day lost to my injuries. Minion put us up again after what happened, but we try his patience. I’m going to prove myself to Vimik, and Aelith, and even Minion. I will find that cleric and I will take him down… Tomorrow.

And until then, dear Journal, I will rest my quill.


April 15th
A new job for the Syndicate?

I’ve barely enough strength to write this entry this night, as exhaustion and dreariness have taken me again. Yesterday was… interesting. After weeks without work I find myself up to my ears in it, but for whom I can’t be sure. This strange, disappearing figure certainly isn’t a member of the guild, and accepting his job, alone, is enough for severe punishment. We met the man in the Court of Thieves, of all places, after following an elderly town drunk. It must have been impatient recklessness that sent me on that path, for I would never do something so careless in days past. The Order always states: Information will bring you life, it’s absence your death. But really, who has any information on the Court of Thieves? No one alive has set eyes upon that place. Until yesterday, I thought it to be only a legend, but there it was, underneath my very feet for years. Now, I have only a trinket from its throne, a scrap of paper with some scribbled names, and many questions.

But perhaps even stranger than the legendary site may have been it’s inhabitants: Drow. Drow in this city? It didn’t take much for us to realize that we were their targets, and even less to initiate a battle. And fight we did. Three dead lay at our feet, but as to why they hunted us I cannot say. I’m beginning to suspect our enemies may be more than we’re expecting, or worse – what we can handle.

I’m sorry, dear journal, I have forgotten to elaborate on the many “we’s” and “our’s.” Vimik, the Riverboat Rumshack’s bouncer, has accompanied us on this mission, apparently for the same silly reasons Aelith and I accepted. Yet another move the former me would have been appalled to see, but he has more than proven his worth, despite his obvious shortcomings (i.e. dumber than a mule).

Even as weariness seeps into my bones, I fear that I cannot escape into dream like Aelith does now. I am still plagued with nightmares, ones that I fear are all too real. I still see their faces, twisting and writhing in the blackness. I still feel the heat of the sun, burning into my skull like a branding iron. and I still hear the howls and screams of that eternal night, the blistering desert, and myself, waking from the nightmare. I’d give much to have these visions leave me forever, but I can feel that place sinking into me. I know its dark magic is pouring through me, and I can feel it building behind my eyes and fingers. Why fight it now? Perhaps… perhaps giving in will rid me of these nightmares. Perhaps I am just tired.


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