Eye of the Beholder

Hey tiger...Sgt. Ironfist

Stryker Stryker Ironfist Note to Self: Having obtained a beautiful white tiger fur, I plan to take it to the appropriate craftsman. I wish to have it cut into the following garments: -1 pair boots, with fur trim -1 pair chaps vest ( I may have something embroidered upon the back of it-perhaps an image of my spiked gauntlet holding a whip) -cloak -hood -mask, made from the tiger’s face, fashioned in such a way as to retain the jaws and teeth -bracers

One’s appearance is of the utmost importance both as a performer and as an adventurer. People should have something to remember us by after they meet us. “Who was that brave warrior who destroyed the golem and slew the weretiger?” “You mean the mighty gnome clad in white tigerskin? Why, that was none other than Sergeant Stryker Ironfist!”

I am afraid that the rest of my party has taken to slovenliness. Perhaps I can inspire them to correct and improve their image.

Solishtari's Journal Entry 3
entry 3

Things have begun to move too fast to make daily entries, or perhaps it is merely that I have not had a good night’s sleep since we acquired the shard. To say I am disappointed in my companions is an understatement. If not for a recent event, I would despair of there being any hope in ending the age of the Dreaming Dark… but I get ahead of myself.

I was relieved to see that the though battered and emotionally exhausted, the students were none the worse for wear. This is not to say I trust them completely after what happened with their professor, but I think perhaps Nieden and Lily are exactly what they appear to be… two people who have been through a horrific experience. Nieden, a half-elven, is taking things better than Lily. It maybe that she was completely unhinged by her experiences, but Nieden has insinuated that she was sleeping with the professor, and from her behavior… I’m not entirely sure he’s wrong. On the other hand, a more suspicious mind, and from recent experiences I’ve become quite suspicious of everything, might wonder if there were not some spell involved that made her so… clingy. If she had not hung all over the professor, we might have realized sooner that he was undead and saved ourselves some trouble later.

Though exhausted, we pressed on until we came to the river where we decided to make camp. Up until then, I’d kept the shard in my armor… a very uncomfortable mode of travel. When no one was looking, I removed the shard and buried it under my bedroll. After all that had happened, I didn’t feel secure simply leaving it in my armor, but I was certain with my precautions it would at least be safe while I slept.

Would that I had managed to get more rest than I did, I would not be in such a surly mood still. I had barely drifted off to slumber when I felt hands moving over my body. Now I may be inexperienced, but I am no so naive to think Zumak was doing anything more than searching for the shard, little good did it do him. His actions only served to cement my determination not to let it out of my sight.

We had only just settled back to sleep after Zumak’s rude and seditious behavior when the professor woke us once more. It was a strange moment for the zombie to attack. Why not before? Why not while we were still traveling? I admit to knowing very little about the undead and how such things germinate, but it was very suspicious to my mind. I held my ground though. I couldn’t leave the shard, and it was well that I stayed because Zumak tried for it again!

I lost my temper, and I hit him so hard he was knocked nearly unconscious. It was at that moment Rava decided to entangle us, thinking we had gone mad or were spellbound. When finally we convinced the Vanar otherwise, we all laid down to rest once more. We still had a grueling journey ahead of us.

In the morning, we gathered to complete our trek back to town, but again Lily insisted we take the professor’s body with us. I am almost convinced there is some spell involved. No one would carry the body for her and finally Nieden agreed. I would have done it, but… well he’s dead and there’s no reason to believe we can resurrect him. Already encumbered with the shard, it would not have been a tactically sound decision to drag the body back to town.

In the course of our questioning, Niedin also suggested that someone at Morgrave was a spy. When we discovered Master Gareth waiting for us in town… well, I no longer believe he is trustworthy. Why come to town, rather than wait at the University as we believed he would? And how is he allied with the wealthiest family in town? His presence worried me so much that when he demanded the shard, I told him I’d buried it in the forest and only I knew its location. Well, it was true. I just didn’t bother to tell him that I’d dug it up and redeposited in my armor as before.

We were escorted to a spa where we were encouraged to relax and recover from our journey, but how could I remove my armor when that was the only thing keeping the shard safe? I must have been a very odd sight, or perhaps reassuring, for I was approached by a man who offered me money to find and protect his “princess” from harm. I did in fact find the princess, but I was too late to protect her. I found her body in an underground warren of secret passages. Though these were not in any way nefarious in nature, they were obviously being used by someone to commit murders. I carried the woman’s body to an exit and around to the front of the building.

Long story short, by the time my companions finally became involved, the man who had offered me money and one of the attendants we dead. While I stayed with the bodies, and our only suspects, the others investigated. When the attendant’s body was found, we realized that the woman in custody was not who she pretended to be. It was only by luck that we managed to recapture her and it was revealed that she was a Changeling. Rava and Sgt Stryker confronted her lover, a shapeshifter in the form of a white tiger and finally managed to kill him. Rava was very close to death, and I carried him to the healing spring to recover before returning to question the Changeling. Though she had initially refused to speak to us, when Sgt Stryker showed up wearing the skin of her mate, she told us the whole sordid tale.

Apparently she and her lover were the only survivors of a settlement of shapeshifters wiped out by the husband of the “princess” who was relaxing the whole time in one of the spa’s pools. He was a very famous and pompous hunter of were-creatures. Rava, still furious over his near death at the hands of the Changeling’s mate ran down the hall and shot her with one of his crossbows before I could intercede. Though a reward was offered, I declined my share. It was little more than blood money so far as I am concerned.

About the only thing that has given me hope that we may yet prevail against the darkness occurred as I attempted to bury the poor Changeling. Though she insisted that I could never understand and attempted to enlist my aid in killing the man responsible for the deaths of her people, I do understand what it’s like to be a minority, hunted and abused by those most people think are in the right. The spa attendants could not at first understand why I would not simply throw her body on the rubbish heap. But no matter what she did in life, she was driven to it by circumstance. She was a victim as much as anyone she killed. You can’t imagine my elation when the spa workers agreed and even helped me bury the Changeling, and the head of her mate. I would have buried them together entirely, but I could find no one willing to help me transport his body to the grave and Sgt Stryker would not give up his precious skin. Still, I take comfort in the fact that I was able to sway at least a few people towards the light.

Seeing as there were seemed to be no guards in the park like setting around the spa, it was at this time I chose to share my suspicions about Master Gareth with my companions and that fact that the shard was not, in fact, buried in an undisclosed location. Given my suspicions I had not felt comfortable in discussing anything within earshot of Gareth. Though I have lately come to mistrust at least one of my companions as well, I swore I would stand by a group vote. Several of them seemed to agree that Master Gareth’s actions were strange, so I offered some alternatives to handing the shard over to him. We could head to the University ourselves and investigate the circumstances of Master Gareth’s exodus to Xen’drik, we could take the shard to the nearest Kundorak house where it would be safe from all thieves, or finally, we could take the shard to inaccessible mountain reaches of Adar where the Kalashtar would give their lives rather than allow the shard to fall into the hands of the Dreaming Dark. Of course, if my companions decide to give them shard over to Gareth, I will stand by that decision too, but I have severe reservations about such a choice.

Game 2
  • Went shopping at Gnome Mordigan Ott’s Apothecary shoppe
  • Bribed Stormreach guard before leaving town
  • Ventured out into the wilds of Xen’rik
  • Felt like they were being followed
  • Traveled through the jungles, cut down a rope bridge that spanned one river
  • Fought a lizard-like bird creature
  • Arrived to location marked on map, there was no temple.
  • Saw a large monolith with the words, “The lord of Waking Time blinds the seekers of dreaming * truths. Only the keeper of the night shall guide the way.”
  • The PC’s figured out that perhaps that meant the moonlight would reveal the temple
  • They were right and once the moon reached its zenith the temple appeared in front of them
  • Cyton figured out the puzzle to open the front door.
  • Inside was a place out of time. It appeared to be devoid of life.
  • The PC’s pilfered some jewel eyes from statues that appeared to be giants with Quori heads, also grabbed elven slave jewelry
  • They found a sacrificial alter, cups with some type of poison
  • They followed giant steps down into a subterranean room
  • Some of the adventurers began to feel sick from the disreality of time and space as they walked down the stairs
  • In the bottom room they found a giant gate
  • In the gate was what appeared to be a dragon shard, it was floating in air and there was a reflection of it in the gate.
  • Zumok, Solishtari and Cyton could not enter the gate to reach the shard.
  • Hilarity ensued when Sgt. Stryker and Rava tried to reach the shard. Both suffered wisdom damage
  • Sgt Stryker acquired a new special power from his foray into the dream gate They finally procured the shard, but removing it from its location caused the temple to start to collapse
  • The PC’s raced out of the temple, although climbing up the giant’ sized stairs proved difficult, and they raced to avoid being hit by the falling temple walls
  • Once they reached the entrance of the temple, they were confronted by some tentacle ghoulish creatures
  • A man in skull face and a red robe looked on, holding Professor Valis and the students hostage
  • He gave the PC’s a choice- hand over the shard and save the students & professor, or be responsible for the deaths of innocents.
  • When Solishtari tried to crush the shard, he ordered his troops to attack, cast chill touch on the students and disappeared in a cloud of smoke
  • A fight ensued and the PC’s barely made it though. Zumok was unconsciously and Sgt Stryker was within an inch of his life. Cyton cast sleep on the thugs guarding the captives, allowing the PC’s to rescue the students and professor.
  • The students, Nyden and Lillia, were badly hurt but unconscious and not dead. The professor looked bad.
  • When Solishtari tried to heal the Professor the party members were disturbed to see him groan in pain, not the usual response a person has to being healed. What could this mean?
Solishtari's Journal Entry 2
Entry 2

Diary Entry 2: Day 1 in the jungle:

Our first day out was relatively uneventful. The grassland gave way to a sparse jungle, and we made camp beneath a large tree. The night went by without occurrence. In the morning, Rava was kind enough to find some fruit for our breakfast, thus saving our provisions. Though we have a week’s worth thanks to the kindness of the innkeeper’s wife, it is always good to err on the side of caution in unfamiliar territory. Better yet, Rava and Zumak seem to have set aside their quarrel now that we are finally underway.

As we left town, there was a slight altercation with the gatekeeper. I hope it will not come back to haunt us. The less memorable we are the better, I think. Unfortunately the man was quite touchy to begin with. Zumak’s poor choice of words were an insult he did not seem ready to let go. I had already planned to give the man 5 gold in addition to however much Sgt Stryker gave him for his information. If anything, he might have been inclined to hold his tongue if any shady individuals came asking after us, but when Zumak referred to the coins the Sgt was offering as a bribe (and with Karth none too quietly asking about prostitution!), I was forced to give Zumak a mild dressing down to cool the guard’s ire. I hope I have not offended Zumak in the process. I still passed the guard 5 gold, but now he will associate it more with unpleasantness and thus be more inclined to betray us out of spite despite my gift.

Diary Entry 3: Day 2 in the Jungle: Water, water, everywhere, but mostly in Rava! It was not until the second day out that Karth told us he felt some presence behind us. It was about this time that we came to a wide and fast moving river. Not knowing what might be following, animal or otherwise, we moved down river to a fallen tree which jutted from the bank. Zumak chose to go off a ways among the trees to lie in wait for whatever, or whoever, was on our trail. Little did he know that his ambush would be ambushed.

While we were gathered by the river, trying to decide how best to get across, a strange reptile bird tried to make a meal of Zumak. We beat the thing, but it was hard work. In the end, we collected a few pretty feathers and talons for our efforts, and some meat for our supplies and then went back to the river.

Tying my giant rope (haha) around his waist, Rava took a running leap from the fallen tree. Sadly, he fell quite short and nearly drowned before we could pull him back in. Fortunately, he happened to spy a bridge farther down stream, which made our crossing much easier. Arriving at the bridge however, we were dismayed at its poor condition. I had serious misgivings about crossing, but once again my “giant” rope came in handy.

Tying the rope to one side of the shore, the lightest member of our party went across and tied the other end to a tree, giving added stability to the woebegone bridge. I, as the heaviest, went last, tying the rope to my waist just in case the bridge would not take the weight of my armor.

The bridge did not fail, but therein lay the issue. Karth informed us that he still had a feeling that there was someone or something behind us. We argued over what to do about the bridge. Some of my fellow adventures were set to sabotage it so that the next person to cross would fall into the river and drown. I argued that anyone might cross the bridge next, including some innocent person from the town. It was better to leave the bridge as it was or cut it completely. I was sure I would be voted down, but Sgt Stryker agreed with me and in the end, we destroyed the bridge behind us.

Of course, not much later we came upon another one. If I read the terrain right, we had simply cut a bridge to a loop of the river, in effect a short cut. We left the second bridge intact, though we again used my rope to safeguard our crossing. It seemed a waste of time to take down the second bridge behind us when anyone following could simply go around.

Diary entry 4: Day 3 in the jungle: Our rest was once again uneventful. Though Sgt Stryker’s strange little pet disappeared in the night, he was back by morning with fruit. It seems likely he was only foraging, but where magic is concerned, one can never be too careful. Rava foraged for our meal once more, and I added to it the meat from the reptile bird we killed yesterday.

The tree canopy is now thick enough for Rava to make his way and keep an eye out for any monsters in our path. The soil had deteriorated into deep pools of water and mud which suck at every step. Even so, our journey continued to be uneventful up until we discovered an obelisk embedded in the swampy land. It was written in many scripts, but thankfully one was in Quori, and I was able to translate a riddle of sorts. Cyton puzzled it out readily enough, and we settled in to wait for “the moon to reveal what the sun obscured.”

Entry 5: Day 3, the evening: It was a marvel to behold the ancient ruins materialize out of air. We easily discerned that we were to use the runes we were shown at the outset of our mission to gain entry. As Cyton pressed them, the door was unlocked, and we entered the eons dead city of the giants. Within, all was silent. In the second room, we encountered two giant statues with strange, tentacled heads, studded with many jewels instead of eyes. Though I counseled against it, Zumak pried the jewels from the stone. Whether or not the statues were spellbound guardians or religious relics, I did not feel it was worth the risk to desecrate them. We explored the rest of the level but found little else. Cyton took a cup containing the dried remains of some liquid. Wine? Poison? It remains to be seen.

With little to peak our interest on the first floor, we slowly descended the stairs leading down. This was due more to their size than any caution on our part. In fact, if there had been anything lying in wait for us, the mad gonging of my armor as I dropped from one step to the next was sure to have alerted it to our arrival. At this point, Sgt Stryker’s monkey companion fled in terror, while the rest of us felt varying levels of unease the further we descended.

At the bottom of the stairs, we finally beheld our goal… little good it did us. In the middle of the room was a mirror and reflected in the mirror was the Dragon shard. Zumak immediately took the potion of levitation and floated up to grab it. But the shard was an illusion! It seemed the mirror was the key. It allowed Rava and Sgt Stryker to put a hand through, but rejected Cyton, Zumak, and myself. I even attempted to break it. Broken, the shard would either be ours or lost for all time. In all honesty, I would have preferred the latter. There would be no need to guard it if it was beyond all reach. Alas, the mirror was indifferent to my fist.

Thus it was time to get crafty. Sgt Stryker entered the mirror in an attempt to retrieve the shard but whatever was on the other side scrambled his brains. I hope it is not permanent! Next Zumak attempted to swing Rava into the mirror. This was more successful, though Rava was also affected by his time on the other side. As he exited with the shard however, the entire phantom structure began to crumble.

Using my rope and grappling hook, we made faster progress than we might have otherwise, but still we were quite shaken up when we reached the entry way and found our way blocked by strange cadaverous tentacled creatures. At first I thought they might be some emissary of the statues Zumak had effaced, but no, that would have been too simple. Instead, our foe had finally showed his hand, the missing professor and his students in tow.

As the villain threatened his prisoners, seeming to kill the two students when we refused to hand over the shard, I ask Sgt Stryker for the crystal. For the second time, I attempted to destroy the thing, this time by smashing it under my heel. When this did not work however, I shoved it down the front of my armor. Not our enemies wouldn’t search us if we fell, but the delay might offer a chance to win free even at the end.

It was surprisingly easy to take down the tentacled monstrosities, though I feel we were simply lucky. In so far as our unknown enemy got the drop on us, our magic users leveled the playing field a bit, summoning an obscuring fog and putting most of the soldiers to sleep. Before the battle was done, our mysterious foe disappeared, leaving his incapacitated guards and prisoners where they lay. The coward.

Unfortunately, we do not know what has been done to the professor and his students. All are alive, but as Rava attempted to heal the professor, it only seemed to make his condition worse! Of the remaining guards, one is dead, and the others unconscious. Considering the danger they have placed the entire world in, they are too dangerous to live. Killing them in their sleep is the more compassionate act if we intend to execute them however. I will not argue with Cyton over dispatching them, though I think we should keep one alive for questioning. We’ll be encumbered enough by the professor and his students without worrying about marching prisoners three days back to Stormreach. Considering the condition of the professor and his students, we face a five day journey at the very least.

Game 1

Zumok the half elf bard, Soshitari the Kalashtar Paladin, Seargeant Stryker Ironfist the gnome bard, Karth the human monk, Cyton the elf scout/beguiler and Rava the Vanarra Shaman met with Gareth Dir’Rasa, the Provost of the Department of Antiquities of Morgrave University. He informed them of the disappearance of renowned Professor Leander Valis. Valis left with two students on a secret mission to Xen’drik to recover an artifact from a giant ruin. The adventurers agreed to help find the professor and recover the artifact. After getting the map, travelling papers with assumed names and air galleon tickets to Xen’drik the adventures headed off to the tavern the Prancing Unicorn to wait for their airship. Zumok decided to chat with some of the upper crust women populating the bar much to the dismay to some of the gentlemen. Sergeant Stryker then placated the angry patrons with a rousing tale of heroics, enthralling many of the people of the bar. Before the bartender could kick them out, they boarded the air galleon for the mysterious continent. Arriving in Stormreach the group bought supplies and at the Thrifty Treasure and lodged at the Black Wrack. During the night the group was accosted by a small shadowy creature that appeared to be after something. They managed to destroy it and prevent it from acquiring whatever it was after. The group discussed the best way to take to reach the ruins, along the coast or through the jungle.

Solishtari's Journal
Entry 1

What an odd group we are, but Master Gareth must have some idea what he’s doing considering the gravity of the situation. Still, I have doubts about the half elf and Vanar, Zumak and Rava by name. The unruly duo get into as many fights with each other as they do with others. I think they enjoy it. I do not think they are bad folk, but for this mission? I am not sure of Master Gareth’s reasoning at all. It is too soon to be sure of the human and elf. Karth is a monk of some sort. A very quiet fellow. I do not think he has much experience in the world. I feel sorry for his rude entry into the world and hope that Rava and Zumak will not introduce him to too many bad habits before the end of our journey. Cyton is also a quiet one, though he has already proved to be a good comrade through his diligence. The final member of our group, a gnome by the name of Sgt Striker, seems quite competent and easily the most outgoing of our motley group. I feel that if anyone can reign in the excesses of the Vanar and half-elf, it is he. Hopefully they will not get themselves or anyone else killed with their antics. I have already had to heal Zumak once after Rava animated a stool. The less said of that, the better.

I am particularly concerned with the Vanar’s petty thefts, which Zumak seems to enable by distraction. For the sake of our mission, I bit my tongue when I saw him steal the lady’s ring, but hopefully Rava will show other skills beyond avarice. Are Zumak and Rava working in concert or is Rava simply using the half-elf’s showmanship to mask his thievery? I have a feeling that Rava is not the fool he pretends to be. Zumak is a bit foppish and a little too interested in gathering an audience. Well, he is an entertainer, but surely he must be aware how dangerous our mission is. I feel we should maintain a low profile, but perhaps he intends to mislead any spies with a pretense of being a simple bard. Even if he was not incline to draw a crowd, his frequent quarrels with Rava ensure that we will be remembered by the locals no matter where we go. To be fair, Rava did start things by flinging his excrement at Zumak, but it takes two to quarrel. Rava is obviously from a culture which holds different values than the civilized lands. Zumak should be the better man and simply ignore the Vanar until he becomes bored with his games. Neither of them seem malicious; the Vanar is simply immature, and Zumak plays right into it.

After the fracas at the tavern near the airships, the two went on to make fools of themselves at the inn we stayed in upon arrival. I’m surprised the innkeeper did not throw us out, especially with the disruptions caused later that night. Some spy sent a construct to steal the map Master Gareth gave us to reach our destination. Cyton has some skill in cartomancy and so has altered the map. I will say no more on that in case these notes are compromised. I took care to sleep near the door and was relieved that Karth opted to sleep near the window, but it was Cyton who alerted us to the construct’s entry. The thing was so slight that we could barely see it in the darkness, though Rava was able to sense its presence, which he proclaimed loudly and repeatedly. I could sense evil but all our attempts to locate the creature failed. I even woke the strange monkey that the Sgt bought at a local junk shop, hoping that it might see what we could not.

In the course of the battle, a window was broken and the dresser much abused, bringing the innkeeper’s wife to the door. It goes against my nature to lie, but for the good of our mission, I advised Cyton to do so. For the ultimate good of this world, a little white lie would do her no harm. I was more worried that she might attempt to come into the room and be hurt by the creature.

But for all our attempts to catch the thing, it was Sgt Striker who finally disabled it with his magic. The inkeeper’s wife was aghast at the cause of the ruckus, fully refunding our money and giving us each a week’s worth of provisions. This was an unforeseen windfall, and I was half tempted to tell her to keep my 2 gold for her kindness. I apologized repeatedly for the trouble we had caused her earlier and sincerely hope that she never has such unruly guests as we six again.

We are now ready to begin our journey in earnest. Zumak has spent all his gold on giant lockpicks. He is also carrying the potion of levitation given us by Master Gareth. I think that will come in quite handy with the “giant” rope I purchased in town for the exorbitant price of 8 gold. I think the old man was simply having fun with us, but rope, giant or not, is sure to come in handy where we’re going. Hopefully we survive this trip and the experience will stand me in good stead when I am finally able to confront my enemy in Riedra.

Sgt. Ironfist Backstory

Backstory Today I am Sergeant Stryker Ironfist, a gnomish bard living in the city, but this was not always so. I make my living by telling great tales of martial adventure in taverns, parties, and special events. I wear finely-tailored camouflage military-style clothing and cut my hair short in the manner of many professional soldiers. The persona that I present is that of a battle-hardened mercenary. Is it believable? Perhaps so, perhaps not. Does one look for realism in epic tales? Would one prefer to listen to the realities of warfare, of disease in war camps, of the slaughter of innocents? Or would the listener prefer an entertaining story that provides respite from everyday misery? Occasionally, a scarred and tough old fighter will try to heckle me for my perhaps excessively tailored clothing, or my over-polished and under-used weapons. Who cares, though? Real mercenaries spend their money almost exclusively on prostitutes and drink. It is the fops and dandies and fancy ladies who willingly part with coin to hear my stories. Generally, the same details that make me a poseur in the eyes of dog soldiers, well these details are what the wealthy (especially those generally ignorant of combat) pay for. A performer is paid to know his audience. And I have really only just begun to learn this audience, for as I said, I was not always Sergeant Ironfist. What I have to tell you remains my secret. I was born in an isolated ice gnome community called Flintown, deep in the Frostfell. My name was Lester Glitterbottom. The town and its surrounding farms were founded many hundreds of years ago. In my grandparents time, the profession of a Legend Teller was an enviable one and held in high esteem, as were all arts. The Legend Tellers now seem comical to many, for while practiced by both sexes, the men dressed as women, grew their hair long, shaved their beards, and recited stories in falsetto voice. Over many years, two things happened. First, the temple of Garl Glittergold became increasingly dominant in the town. Secondly, the status of the Tellers fell considerably. This is unfortunate for me, as it was the trade that I was born into, and for which I trained. First, a few words on Flintown. I now realize that my place of origin had ways that deviated greatly from typical gnome culture. Perhaps it was the geographic isolation, but its organization grew rigid. The Glittergold temple engaged in politics and eventually assumed permanent leadership. The high priest became the burgomaster and the council positions were all held by clerics. Eventually, ordinances were passed banning the public consumption of alcohol. Not long after this, bards were replaced by clerics in taverns, so that patrons could listen to monotonous and dreary religious instruction while they drank tea. I found myself performing only for elderly townsfolk who could still remember the old ways. Times became very lean for the Legend Tellers. One by one, my peers left the profession and took up other means of employment. When I was the last one, I joined the militia. Service went fairly smoothly at first, but I was still bitter at being forced out of my family trade. I began to investigate the Temple of Garl Glittergold in Flintown. What I found out was alarming, for not only had the temple grown corrupt and oppressive, but evidence suggested that they were compromising underage townsfolk, some of them children. Other surprises awaited me. One day, my scouting team located what was originally thought to be a group of bandits. What we observed, however, was a group of nomads, some of them families. We reported this to the commanding officer, who was, as are all officers, a temple cleric. The officer insisted that they were bandits, and led a brutal assault on the helpless nomads. I refused to participate in the slaughter, and so I was dishonorably dismissed from the militia. Out of work, I then tried to find a position in the town’s alchemy lab. I had taught myself a fair bit of the trade, and believed that I would be able to serve adequately in an assistant position. I was informed that, owing to my dishonor in battle, the position was denied to me. Severely limited in my prospects and starving, I considered leaving Flintown, the only home I had ever known. I was further pushed towards this choice when I received two items at my home. The first was an anonymous gift of ice skates and skating poles. The second was a summons to appear next week before the council for disciplinary actions concerning my military conduct. It was, of course, a clear hint to leave town. I prepared, secretly, to leave that night and never return. Yet, something compelled me to walk by the burgomaster’s home on my way. I saw a serving girl dart out of the front door. She was crying and did not seem to notice me. What’s more, she left the door open in her haste. Was there an emergency, I wondered? Quietly, I walked into the house and found no one on the main floor. One door, the basement door, I think, was shut. There were sounds behind it, unnatural sounds that froze me with dread but filled me with an urge to run. I decided to leave, but not by the front door, where I might be seen. I crept through the house and found myself in what was the empty bedroom of Marly Mannergem, the burgomaster. Opening the window carefully, I began to creep out when something caught my eye. It was a book, fairly nondescript, with a brown cover, yet I was curious. Grabbing the book, I climbed out and shut the window behind myself. Finding a quiet place, I perused the book, which confirmed my fears and shocked me with new revelations. Not only did Mannergem’s journal discuss the exploitation of children, but revealed that the temple was involved with raising the dead, perhaps with plans for military use. That night, I did leave, but not before I separated the book into its pages and posted the incriminating details throughout Flintown. # Making my way to the edge of the Frostfell, I eventually took lodging with a family of human farmers for a year. This was perhaps the best year of my life. The family was kind and gentle. I worked on the farm for my keep, and entertained the family with my nightly stories. We became quite close, and I loved them. This peace came to an end one night. I was awoken by two clerics of Flintown’s temple, who had crept into my room in the darkness and tried to capture me. I fought hard to escape, and in desperation, slew one of them. Once again, I fled out a window, leaving all of my things behind. Traveling again, trying to put more distance between myself and the Frostfell, my capture was attempted —this time successfully. My captor was a human bounty hunter. I was bound and forced to listen to the man brag that night as he drank his wine by the campfire. To my horror, I learned that I was wanted not just for disobeying military orders. I, Lester Glitterbottom, was wanted for the murder of the serving girl who I saw flee the burgomaster’s house. I was wanted for the murder of the cleric who came to arrest me. Worst of all, I was wanted for the sadistic and perverted murder of the entire human family with whom I had lived. My captor took great delight in describing in lurid detail all of the horrible things that were done to the family. Well in his cups, he made obvious hints that he took an instrumental part in the horrific slaughter. My possessions that I left behind were used to provide evidence of my guilt. A sick rage fell upon me. For the first time in my life I felt possessed by a terrible and unyielding craving for revenge. As the man grew drunk and drowsy, I worked continuously at freeing myself from the bonds. The knots were good, yet I felt no pain as blood ran down my hands in my effort to loosen the ropes. Shortly after he fell asleep, I was free. If I ran, surely he would catch up with me again, and next time he would be less careless. Yet it was not this thought that drove me to attack him. Instead, it was the inescapable realization that either I must slay him or obliterate myself in the process. He woke before I landed the first blow with his morning star, and we fought. Had he not been so drunk and surprised, had he time to don his armor, it is unlikely that I should write this today. Yet, even with his handicaps, he was a brutal opponent, and it was only by luck and the loss of much of my own blood that I killed him. So here was another killing stacked against my innocence. I hid the body as best I could, and continued my flight, stopping only when I collapsed. Eventually, I made my way to the city, half-dead and half-crazed with grief and guilt over the innocent people who were murdered because of my transgressions against the cursed Flintown temple priests. For the first months, I lived like an animal, dressed in rags and scrounging for food. But slowly, very slowly, the veil of despair lifted, and I began to see the city as a place of refuge, if any such place could exist for me. I began performing as a bard, speaking in public for spare change. The crawl from the gutter was a long one, but I seem to have my feet under myself at last. I have assumed the identity of a mercenary, Sergeant Stryker Ironfist, for Lester Glitterbottom exists no more. In addition to my income as a paid speaker, my goal is to establish an alchemy lab and to advance my skills in that profession as well. Of particular interest to me is developing special ammunition for my prodd, as well as creating alchemical weapons that may be thrown. I have thought much on the Temple of Garl Glittergold. It appears that my experience in Flintown may have been an anomaly, as the Glittergold temple in the city seems to have no such oppressive nature. Still, I wonder if that is only because of a lack of isolation. Would the city temple go the same way as the one in Flintown, if there was no one to oppose it? For that matter, does not any organized religion inevitably tread down the path to oppression? I wonder. I have been tempted to approach the city temple. Perhaps I should inform them of their corrupted branch. But might they not also be infected with the same corruption? Might the Flintown temple not have informed them to be on the lookout for me? Perhaps the Flintown temple has convinced the city temple that I am the murderer that they say I am. No, I cannot trust these clerics. Their good and gracious god did nothing to prevent the horrors performed in his name in Flintown. Why should things be any different here? For now, I remain cautious for Flintown spies. I have trouble trusting other gnomes, for I constantly suspect them. Still, the bounty hunter was no gnome, which perhaps means that a spy could be human. I fear that Mannergem’s agents will eventually find me. I cannot delay my final quest forever, which is to one day return to Flintown and destroy the temple of Garl Glittergold stone by stone and liberating my home town. For now, I must build my strength, for I know not yet how to complete my plan. I will make friends here, and I will grow strong, until I can again go into the Frostfell to exact my vengeance for the children of Flintown, for the serving girl, and for the human family who died because of me. My wrath will burn the priests to the ground, and my wrath will be complete. I, the Payer of Debts. I, the Iron Fist.

Prelude-Letter to the PC's

Salutations Adventurer,

I respectfully request your presence at an emergency meeting at noon on the day of Zor and the month of Vult to discuss a matter of grave importance. You may wonder why you have been asked to do so since we have not had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face. I assure you that your deeds have not gone unnoticed by myself and my colleagues. It is your particular area of expertise that has made you the only choice for a delicate and secretive mission that must be accomplished in an expedient fashion. Please join me at my office in Morgrave University to discuss this matter further as I dare not reveal any more details by means of courier. As the peace and prosperity, nay the very lives!! of the citizens of Khorvaire lay in peril if this mission fails, I trust that your sense of patriotic duty will call you action and you will attend this meeting and assist me. If this is not the case I can assure you the prestige and monetary compensation that is to be gained from the completion of this mission will help encourage your inner humanitarian. I look forward to meeting you in person. Please see my secretary upon arrival to the University and she will assist you to my office.

Sincerely, Gareth


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