The Flower of Ventas
A week has since come and gone since they last went to contact Breland, and there was yet any reply. Growing tired of waiting, the group decided to pay Theis Prose a visit despite all their misgivings. The Fairmount Market in Bone ward is one of the more busy places in the day, and it was particularly so since this time as the residents prepared for the Winter Solstice festival of Carrenthol. Whilst they decided that the twins and Sidnar would go talk to Theis, Aramil and Cynthia would search out a location to observe undisturbed yet would be near enough should anything happen.
The bakery was a cozy shop, filled with the delicious scent of freshly baked goods. In the far corner, arranging the display was the lad that Cynthia described before: red-haired, slight built. Behind the counter beamed a comely man with a growing paunch. While he greeted them, Jett conjured a ghost sound, whispering their intentions into the man’s ear while Sidnar spoke about wanting to try the famous Karrnathi vedbread. The man paused momentarily, before beaming widely. He quickly swept the team off to a side of the store, recommending them his own version of the vedbread, baked with the traditional onion butter and a mixture of Salmoran sage and purple basils. He scribbled something on the receipt as the trio paid for their breads. Just as the money changed hands, the trio heard the soft disembodied voice of Theis whispering in their ears, warning them of that the Emerald Claw has them in their sights.
Thanking the friendly baker, the group left Fairmount Market without an incident.
Back in the comfort and security of their rooms, Jett pulsed a small stream of arcane power into the receipt. Theis’ message blazed out in an arcane blue, along with a King’s Citadel arcane mark.
“Two watches past dusk. Vellum Tower.”
Sidnar frowned. Vellum Tower was one of the many spires within the library complex that was the Halls of Learning. A temple of Aureon, the Halls of Learning was converted military keep. Where once held dungeons and cells, the Aureonites had converted them into scriptoria replete with beds and washbasins. The many towers that stand within the keep’s compound were now apartments for rent, provided the tenants sign sincere interest in learning. It was truly a bastion of learning, with shelves and rows of books and scrolls.
The stone doors to the Halls were guarded by two seated skeletal figures, their bony hands clutching onto tomes. From within spilt out orange light like liquid warmth; a pleasing sight to the cold Sidnar. He tarried a little at the books and shelves, but then again, he had to remind himself that the meeting with Theis was more important. Aramil and Cynthia parted with the trio in the Saint Yanick Library. Each team held onto one of the speaking stones that Aramil pocketed from his little excursion into Pantah Limited’s warehouse. As soon as the trio rounded the corner, Aramil scouted out for a secluded spot to eavesdrop on the conversation.
Vellum Tower stood at the northern end of a manicured garden, the tower itself commending a breath-taking view of Vulyar. The baker came out and greeted them with the wide smile. But once in, the jovial face gave way to a hard killer’s gaze.
Theis did not hide the small crossbow aimed at them, and he gave no apologies. He was out of his work clothes, but they could still smell the faint hint of flour. From the corner of the small room wafted a hint of something sharp and saccharine.
“Karq vos” Janna muttered under her breath. Jett nodded1.
Theis claimed that the Brelish government had not contacted him for three years, and it would be extremely odd for them to ask Sidnar and the twins to contact him. It took them a while to convince him that they were not the enemy. The discussion seemed to progress nowhere, that was until they gave vague details regarding their mission in Metrol three years back.
Theis’ demeanor changed immediately. There was a long pause in the room, with only the night breeze gliding through the room. Theis looked up at them. He thought everyone involved in the direct operation of Operation Swifthawk were killed by the Mourning. He himself was supposed to be responsible for extracting a team of operatives from Metrol after the Operation was concluded. But the Mourning came just as Operation Swifthawk was well underway. While he had no details, Theis explained that it was a top secret operation that involved multiple teams sabotaging and gleaning information about Cyre and their allies. He was not given any specifics regarding the task of the team he was supposed to retrieve, but he believed it was to do with investigating the resources of House Cannith and their supply of warforgeds to the Cyrian crown.
He released his grip on the crossbow and let it slip to the ground. Theis sighed, and said that there was nothing that he could do now for them as Operation Swifthawk was made redundant with the Mourning. If they wish, they could return to Sharn and contact Emissary Jurian ir’Strarik, who he believed, was offered the seat of Senator.
Dejected, the ex-Dark Lantern wished them all the best and only regretted that he was unable to help them further. Janna caught a look of wild hunger in the man’s eyes, and the lingering hint of a pungent sweet scent on his breath.
Karq vos, she thought to herself and shook her head.
When the company rendezvous back at the inn, Aramil suggested that if they were to travel back to Sharn, one of the fastest and best way would be via Lyrandar airship. Irae d’Orien had recently told him that they received some cargo from the Antagonist, a Lyrandar sky galleon that has docked at the Merit Tower in Vulyar. It seems to her that the Antagonist would be heading back towards Thrane and Aundair, crossing north of Thronehold.
Departure, however, was a few days away and the twins decided to pay Ventas another visit. While Mahy was delighted to see them and was looking forward to further intellectual debate with the genasi sorcerer, Jett declined and insisted that they meet with his colleague, the one they called the Lunatic. He pointed the way to her lab and assured them that though she was quite mad, she was friendly and mostly harmless.
A specialist in planar magic, Sekrr Taeria was conducting a lesson in one of the arcane laboratories when she spotted the genasi twins loitering outside her lab. She instantly cancelled the class and with a wave of her hand, pushed the students towards the door. The twins immediately saw why Sekrr was called the Lunatic; the shifter had a set of pale amber eyes that seem to roam about in their sockets. The professor was of a slight built, and seemed to have a razorclaw lineage, and while she was in a standard white laboratory coat, she had ripped off the sleeves. From her back sprouted her most prized possession, a patch of beautiful yellow and blue flowers.
“Like it?” The shifter grinned. “I had the opportunity to work with magic from the Feywild and I was so taken by this flower, which by the way, they call it Aesthus Mylleus meaning the Golden Dewdrop of the Morning, that I grafted this onto my back! My pride and joy, though those elves things were not too happy that I took the flowers from their garden, well granted, it was the garden of a gaele, but still, she had a big garden, and you know…”
Sekrr continued the monologue for a bit, almost forgetting the twins’ presence until Jett tapped her on the shoulder. He reminded her that he wanted to consult her about the Shadowfell and about travel into the Shadowfell. The professor thought for a bit, and while she admit that she was lacking in the knowledge about the Shadowfell, she believes that like the Feywild, there were terminous points, manifest zones known as shadow crossings in the world that connected the two planes together. She warned them that the Shadowfell was a place of death and limbo, and as such, any being trapped there would experience the unfortunate fate of all souls’ after death. She also believe that there were a couple of shadow crossings in Karrnath, one which she gathered from rumours, was in the city of Atur.
To retrieve anything from the Shadowfell would mean entering it, and to only way to enter the Shadowfell was to invoke Death, be it death of a small mammal or death of their being. It was a risky venture but the key to the plane was death. Without it, they could not even get close to the Shadowfell.
With these new information in mind, the twins left Ventas, a flower each.
1 Karq vos: A narcotic also known as “dreamshit” in Khovaire. Janna and Jett were acquainted with it as it was one of the many narcotics used by the drows of Xen’drik