The adventures of the Brotherhood of Traveling Pants continue in this week’s exciting double-issue!
Astute readers might recall our heroes had just fought their way through a nefarious band of ner-do-well mercenaries and drakes in search of their mysterious assailant. Fear not readers, Gustavus does not leave his stories unfinished!
“Having cleared the first floor of the house, we took a few precious minutes to get our breath back, only to find the entire tower shaking beneath our feet! The disquieting tremors coincided with an odd sizzling noise coming from up stairs. Our duty clear, we pushed cautiously upwards.
A small staircase led to a set of closed double doors through which I could just barely glimpse a terrible machine tended by horrid monster. Just a hands-breadth from my face stood a man-thing, without skin, its muscles pulsing with the beat of a foul heart. If that wasn’t enough, it also sported two flailing tentacles in addition to a decent man’s two arms. Such monsters have a name, and that name is dolgaunt.
Carefully arranging ourselves we burst into the room, surprising the dolgaunt and two human assistants. I made a beeline for the maleficent machine and soon had it shut down, only to find three more versions of it spread about the room. All was chaos as my allies engaged the dolgaunt, the machines spitting terrible energies back and forth, rocking the tower beneath us…
But as any fine Sharn-boy can tell you, Dalannan tower stands still. When the fight is just, the Brotherhood always comes through. No sooner had we started the fight than we had destroyed the abomination, and taken custody of its two human companions. Thankfully for them they were simple hired muscle, hired for honest gold, and loyal not a whit to an employer that paired them to a monster and a tower-wrecking contraption. An employer, we were shocked to discover, that was none other than Alric Blacktree, the aide of Bren ir’Gadden all those years back!
Seeing no sign of Alric, and thinking our duty done for the day, we handed over our prisoners to the fine men of the Sharn watch, and joined our host Bren to tell him the riveting tale and enjoy his fine hospitality. In the morning, heeding a suggestion from Bren, we set out to visit Morgrave University to see what we could discover concerning our demonic attacker when we had true experts to consult.
What we discovered first is that Alric Blacktree is a violent fool. No sooner had we embarked on a Skyskiff to Morgrave than he waylaid us riding a fearsome warwing drake assisted by hired goblin muscle on soarwood flying disks. The thought of engaging in mid-air battle was more exciting than even I am comfortable with, but Konrad is made of sturdy stuff and soon had a plan in motion.
We let the attackers get into range of the skiff, and then with a quick signal from Konrad, I pulled out my heavy climbing hook attached to a good length of rope. I spun this contrived device a few times about my head and then released it straight at a surprised goblin. Olladra must have been with me, the hook sailed perfectly between the goblin’s legs, and secured itself in the disk beneath it. With a powerful tug on my line, I pulled the goblin next to the Skiff. No sooner did the disk bump the skid, than did Konrad charged forward, knocking the goblin from its perch and securing a disk for ourselves!
With Konrad aloft, Gronk seized the opportunity to shackle Alric and his mount to our skiff, allowing us to safely engage him in melee. Surprised and trapped, and facing nearly the full-might of our group alone, Alric showed reckless bravery in continuing his assault.
We had taken a dangerous situation and turned it into a strong position, but the slightest misstep on our part would have sent us tumbling down, to join the pavement in a most grisly fashion. There were several tense moments, a goblin almost knocked Konrad off his disk, Alric spewing dark lightning across our skiff, just missing our driver, but using sound tactics and working together we prevailed and saw off the goblins and slew Alric, prompting his mount to flee.
Sensing an opportunity we hastened to overcome the drake, and through a mixture of skill and luck were able to force it down and tame it to our cause. It seems the poor beast had been secured to Alric’s will through sorcery, not loyalty, and so was willing to accept us as superior companions. Lantash was overjoyed at this turn of events, having formerly been a Vadalis Griffon-Rider, and now having the opportunity to once more take to the skies. Another piece of fine work accomplished, we turned back to our original quest to Morgrave.
Morgrave University is a proud and beautiful establishment, famed for the wisdom and experience of its professors and staff. We were not disappointed in the least. Seeking out Prof. Nephret to help direct us, we soon found ourselves in front of one Xylok Torthanan, an expert on extraplanar and aberrant things.
The good Prof. Torthanan gave us a few tips on what we may have stumbled upon, and, seeing our obvious need to increase our resources to investigate further, suggested that we might find employment dealing with a kruthik infestation in the Cogs. Of course he had higher goals in mind for this action, desiring to study the odd mutations these Kruthik had developed in Sharn to better combat them, and we certainly needed the extra capital!
Sensing an opportunity to advance science, gain more good-will and contacts in Sharn, and of course earn enough gold to keep a roof over our heads, we decided to take up this challenge. Konrad investigated the situation a little bit before we jumped to the task, so while the rest of us took the day off to run our errands, Konrad and Alin (a contact of mine more familiar with the Cogs) did a little research down-below.
What they found was that a veteran turned industrialist Molric Torranel was offering a hefty reward for removing the kruthik as they were impeding the work at his foundry, the ir’Taine Blackbones Foundry and Works. In addition, a well respected hobgoblin priest of the Sovereign Host, Uluki, was offering what little he could add to the bounty. It turns out that the kruthik have not limited their attacks to their foundry, but had been roaming the entire area, spreading misery and death to those poor souls residing in the Cogs. Finally, it seems that a group of Darguuni goblins had already attempted to make their way through the Kruthik hive, with no reports of success… or reports at all.
Bright and early the next day, armed with knowledge and steel, we made our way down to the Cogs. Negotiations with Molric and Uluki went smoothly, and we soon found ourselves delving into the Kruthik lair, a mysterious place clearly interlaced with ancient Dhakhaani ruins!
The first chamber bore witness to a terrible struggle between the Darguun warriors and Kruthik, a struggle they seem to have lost. Additionally, it appeared to be some sort of shrine to an ancient Dhakaani Hero. We paused to kill half-a-dozen Kruthik, including a bizarre winged variety, and then turned back to our investigations. We found a few interesting clues and artifacts, including a Battlestandard of Might belonging to the Dhakaani Hero (a small price to pay for the cleansing of one’s tomb!), a backpack from the Darguun expedition containing a mysterious drawing of a pawprint, and a fantastic set of carved inscriptions detailing the Hero’s exploits.
The carvings told the tale Ashurta, Slayer of Skulls, “Hell Goes with Him.” Somehow his story is tied to a mighty artifact called the “Ashen Crown.” The carvings also detail the history of the crown. The story begins with a mighty victory against dwarves, followed by the founding of a city, and finally the creation of the crown. All the carvings were of a quality isof the highest craftsdwarfship.
Having found what we could, we pushed through to an elaborate puzzle chamber, with goblin ruins carved into the floor, several goblin statues, and a mysterious portal. Seeing no obvious clues to the puzzle, we decided to clear out the remaining Kruthik first. I was sent ahead to scout, and having located another cache of Kruthik, I established a fire-trap and had our party set up behind it. The kruthik were dealt with handily, between our arms and flames, the poor brutes stood little chance."
Well readers, we’re almost out of room, so be sure to come back next week to hear the exciting continuation of Gustavus’ story! Before I sign off, how about a letter from our fans,
I was lucky enough to have a brief conversation with Gustavus while he was perusing my shop’s collection of Adbarran and Dhakaani relics. He mentioned to me that he studied a tomb contrasting the two cultures which purported that both had clearly inspired the other in several very specific ways. I was wondering what the title of that book may be?
Well Abra, I asked Gustavus, and he let me know that the book in question is, “From Khorvaire with Love, an Analysis of Similarities and Possible Cultural Exchange Between Ancient Khorvaire and Riedra.” Several copies of the book should be available in Morgrave’s University and about the city, it has been widely promoted by both Adbarran and Riedran parties.