A small matter
Intrusions of privacy
The journey was monotonous, the road, well there wasn’t one to begin with, and the plains seemed to stretch on into the far horizon. When will it end, Jett didn’t know. He didn’t count on it ending.
But that was only the third day. He had half expected the wild and ferocious denizens of the Plains crashing through the withered grass, jaws snapping, claws ready to rip bone and flesh apart, but so far all he seen of the great plains lizards were small gaunt things that ran on two legs, their two twig like forelegs scratching at every morsel Jett threw at the ground. It amused him a little to see the little green things fight each other for food, but he soon grew bored of it.
That night a small enclosure was made around the matron’s elaborate carriage. A warm light glowed from within and to their surprise, the entire party was invited to dine with Matron Selora ir’Methas.
“I’ll pass. I have duties,” Aramil said and walked off.
“Not too fond of walking, but I’m less keen for talking now,” Jett agreed and set off after Aramil.
“We’ll accept milady’s gracious offer,” Sidnar said and motioned the two females into the tent. A warm blanket of air washed over them as they pushed aside the hide-like flaps, and within, in the middle, stood a dressed table set for six.
“Do sit,” said the half elf woman on the other side of the table. “Your compatriots, they are not joining us?”
“I’m afraid not, milady,” Sidnar replied and motioned for the two ladies to sit. “A shame,” she gave a small smile. She still looks very young Sidnar mused. He recalled he had seen Lady Selora about seven years ago, when she and a retinue of house servants visited the Temple of Boldrei and Arawai in Galt. She was heavy with a child then, and even seven years later, she still looked as youthful as that fateful day.
A spicy tang wafted in as two handmaidens brought in the dishes. Sidnar tried to hide his wince as the dishes were put before him. His stomach threatened to rebel, but he held it in control. He never understood why people like that stuff.
“I’ve just recently employed a chef well versed in Shadow Marches cuisine. So I thought that a stew of boar hock would be perfect for a weather like this.”
Sidnar glanced over to the other two. Janna seemed fascinated by the strong pungent spices steaming from her bowl and Cynthia seemed almost ready to dive into the food. Sidnar sighed inwardly.
Jett was just stalking Aramil as the eladrin made his rounds when he neared the matron’s carriage. From the other side of the carriage came the muffled conversations and a sprinkle of dainty laughter. All seems well. He looked at up the night sky. A heavy load of clouds drifted in from the south, blocking his view of the Ring of Siberys. It’s going to rain.
Then, just at the edge of his perception, there was an oddity that he did not expect. It was a magic dampener, a device or a spell to nullify or conceal magical auras. He didn’t like the cold void such devices left. It was the same as the box that Captain Carnot produced, the one that held the black gem. Well, he figured. She’s a big shot I think, so there’s nothing to really be surprised by. Everyone has a secret or two.
Mistweave Limited the big gilded letters wrote on the side of the wagons. Out of curiosity, the genasi hopped onto one of the wagons and inspected the cargo. Aramil had said something about textiles and cloth, and true to his Orien training, the man didn’t ask for more nor did he want to check the cargo. Jett, however, was not bound by such regulations.
True to the word of the contract, most of the cargo were of the textile nature. Most. In the back of the wagon, stacked under a few other boxes, was a small nondescript crate. While Jett was unable to get to it, his heightened senses to the arcane told him that it was definitely not something mundane. The energy that seeped out tasted foul, not unlike those worked by the drows of his homelands. But he realized there was nothing he could do, or should do. It was imperative that they get to Vulyar, and this Matron Selora ir’Methas was their method. Gingerly the genasi stepped out. Into a big hulk of a man. If memory served him right, Tarrus Markus was his name.
“What are you doing in there?” said the man with a broken face. He wore a coat that looked more like a bear rug, and it only served to make him look bigger.
“Thought I heard a sound from within.”
“Too early to be dreaming I’d say.”
“I’d say it doesn’t hurt to be vigilant. We are supposed to be on guard.” Jett got off the wagon.
“I’m watching you smoke man. You and your freak sister.”
“Watch all you like,” Jett winked. “But I’m afraid I don’t bend that way.”
With that, the swordmage resumed his hunt for the eladrin.
Whereas the Gates of Hammerfast were awe-inspiring, the Bone Gate of Vulyar was intimidating. Yet, both were just as awe-inspiring. The great iron doors were closed that night, but Irae d’Orien was discussing something with the guard captain. The two figures were dwarfed by two great statues of crowned skeleton, greatswords carved out of stone held in front of them in the old Karrnathi stance. Above the pair, a great arch, its keystone bearing a shield riveted with a trio of black iron skulls. That the eyes of the skulls were ablaze with orange fire made the gate all that more eerie.
“Them two going to move?” Jett whispered.
“Pretty sure they are stone, and there’s not special magic about them.” Sidnar mused. “Those eyes, think they are braziers and function as murder holes. Though I have to say, that’s some kind of welcoming sight.”
“And we thought Hammerfast was bad.” Janna sighed.
“At least they are not haunted here, I think,” Sidnar said. Irae seemed to have reached an agreement with the Karrn captain and a smaller door was opening within the gates. The teamster was walking back to the caravan and motioning for the other drivers to get ready.
“I don’t know which is worse,” Jett frowned. “The dead who insists on sticking around the living, or the living who likes surrounding themselves with the dead. Where’s our destination?”
“I’ll follow the caravan to the outpost for some paperwork. Meet me at an inn in Bones Ward called Weary Bones. We should be fine there.”
As the caravan continued down the empty roads, Jett saw more of skull and death motifs on the everlasting lamps and on the facades of buildings. He shook his head.
“And I thought Hammerfast was bad…”
A Small Problem
At the Orien outpost in Vulyar, Aramil was able to discover an issue that Dalya d’Orien has with a local gang. It is an open secret that House Orien engage in transportation of contraband goods from time to time. This market was contested by a local gang calling themselves the Blood Brothers. They own a front called Pantah Limited, a company that operates out of Warehouse 6 in the Vulyar lightning rail yard. Dalya was interested in getting his hands on any evidence of illicit trading so as to be rid of this thorn.
Back at the Weary Bones , the group were unsure as to meeting with Theis Prose; Janna had heard his name when the Brain was probing her mind. Not understanding why, the group decided to contact Breland again for further details and wait.
After deciding to do something about the Blood Brothers, Aramil and Sidnar went to scout out the rail yard. At the same time, it was decided that Cynthia Shade would visit Fresh Boones, Theis’ front in Vulyar. The two genasi on the other hand, decided to take a tour around the city.
Aramil and Sidnar realized they were being stalked by Emerald Claw agents. It was only by luck that a lightning rail arrived from Atur, unleashing a flood of people that they were able to lose the three men tailing them. In Fresh Boones, Cynthia found Alex, a shop assistant to Theis, but was informed that Theis was probably at the Halls of Learning as part of his weekly routine. Leaving the bakery, Cynthia noticed a small vial of blood hung around the young man’s neck, a small token that Blood of Vol worshippers carry. The road was crowded and movement was difficult, but in the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of two men heading towards her. Quick thinking and fast reflexes allowed her to dodge into an alley, which she ran down. Peering behind her back, she noticed the two men bumbling out of the crowds. Her keen perception picked out the outlines of swords and hidden Emerald Claw medallions on the two men. Perturbed, the elf exit the alley and dissolved into the crowd before she was found again.
Jett and Janna came to Ventas and asked to speak to an expert in transference sorcery. After much intimidation by the windsoul genasi, the twins casually barged into a Professor Warieve’s office. There, the Professor was in a heated debate with a what seemed to be Tarrus Markus, except older and a little more crumpled in the face. The debate ended abruptly as the Professor stood to confront the two, only to be incredibly fascinated with the Genasi. He had never seen beings like them and his curiosity soon overwhelm the disturbance to his work. It would seem that the twins have made a fan.
Back at the rail yard, Aramil had met up with Cynthia and as the sun began to set on Vulyar, they prepared to infiltrate Pantah Limited. Sidnar tried to be a distraction to the guards on duty, but ultimately, he was kicked out of the grounds. Climbing into the warehouse was too easy for Aramil, and he discovered the Warehouse was occupied. Two kenkus, beings he had seen but once during the War, were having an argument with two other men. Their main office empty, Aramil snuck in and began rummaging through the place. There, he found a file full of quotations to various different companies, including a Mistweave Trading, the company that Selora ir’Methas owned. He also found weapons and what seemed to be narcotics within crates in the office. In a drawer, Aramil found a letter bearing a waxed imprint of the Emerald Claw insignia demanding mechanical parts and warforged components. It was signed off by a T.D.
Thinking that he had gathered the necessary information, Aramil made to leave. Curfew was near and it would be bad if any of them were caught here in the yard. Then, despite having to dispatch of the two thugs that came out of the warehouse, the three left the rail yard safe and sound.
Back in Ventas, Jett tried to steer what seemed to be an inexplicable intellectual debate between Janna and the Professor in the fields of transference sorcery. While the professor was talking in terms of formulae and academic jargon, Janna seemed to understood it and replied or made a counterpoint using layman’s terms like ‘the flow æther’ or ‘the building up of energy’. Regarding the Shadowfell and planar movements, Warieve admitted that he was not the one. But he could recommend a colleague who is an expert in those matters.
“Her name is Sekrr Taeria, and she an eccentric one. But she’s good at what she does. I’ll try to arrange an appointment with her, say about, tomorrow or the day after.”
And so the twins got an appointment with The Lunatic.