Reacting to Saiph’s warning of what sounded to the elf like an armor-clad individual waiting in Vestan ir’Simul’s property just beyond the collapsed section of wall, the group quickly scattered throughout the ruins and adopted defensive positions. In moments, a pair of warforged made their way into the room, moving with quick, purposeful motions from one source of cover to the next. It was clear from their manner that they were attempting to move with stealth, although their heavy, plated exteriors made such movement difficult. As soon as the warforged pair spotted the poorly hidden Tivira, they shouted a war cry and rushed to the attack. From behind this pair, two additional warforged emerged, and soon the party was embroiled in a pitched battle.
Early in the struggle, the warforged appealed to Kin. “Why do you fight alongside these weak, flesh-covered mortals? Join us! Fight for the Lord of Blades and assume your rightful place as the inheritor of Eberron! Accept your duty as one of the Created!” With great fury, Kin rejected these pleas, prompting the warforged to assert that if she would not join them, then she would be granted the same death as the weak mortals she fought with.
Through steel and magic, the party eventually defeated all four warforged. Each warforged had taken great pains to remove their foundry stamp, an inscription that marks which House Cannith foundry a given warforged was created in. This symbolic act of separation from their House Cannith creators indicated that these warforged were agents of the Lord of Blades, a charismatic warforged leader who operates out of the Mournland and seeks to place warforged in their ‘rightful’ place as inheritors of the world. Several members of the group wondered aloud whether these warforged may be in league with the warforged assassin that Tivira, Kin, and Nemis had fought several nights before on the rain-soaked bridge.
Hidden in a secret compartment on one of the warforged corpses, Jak discovered a note written in a language that Nemis recognized as a variation of an ancient phonetic script used by the giants of a bygone age. Although Nemis was unable to fully translate the text, he could understand enough to realize that there was a detailed description of a warforged, a human female, and a “plant thing” that almost perfectly matched Kin, Tivira, and Nemis. The note further seemed to indicate that those three individuals may currently be in possession of “the book.” In addition, the note mentioned something regarding “obtaining a key” and “returning home,” although Nemis was unable to fully understand the meaning of these brief phrases. Saiph carefully folded the note and stored it in his pack.
After a lengthy debate spent discussing the potential ramifications of making enemies out of both the Lord of Blades and the crime syndicate Daask, the group eventually chose to eliminate any evidence of the battle by throwing the bodies of the four warforged, as well as that of their ally Moguul, who had died in the battle, in the furnace of the House Cannith foundry. Over the next several hours, the group managed to start a fire in the forge that was powerful enough to smelt the warforged and cremate the body of Moguul. While Jak and Kin were starting the fires, Tivira and Nemis continued to search Vestan’s property to see if the warforged may have left any clues regarding their origins or ultimate plans. Although they found no further information on the warforged warriors or the Lord of Blade, the pair did discover the bodies of two goblins in the long, narrow Cogs hallway just beyond Vestan’s property. These goblins were the same scouts that the party had managed to slip past to gain entry into the ruins Heavy tattoos on their necks and backs marked the goblins as likely members of Daask, and they had apparently been killed by the warforged troop only minutes before, likely while the group was searching the ancient House Cannith foundry. In an effort to hopefully sever any link between themselves and Daask, these two goblin bodies were also thrown into the forged and cremated.
Finally, the group felt they could relax for a short while. Quietly, they discussed amongst themselves the potential avenues of investigation regarding Vestan ir’Simul’s mission. They felt confident that they had, indeed, determined that Griss and his co-workers had ceased their excavation of the ruins because of orders from Daask, a group of criminals that, despite their reputation as mere thugs among the higher classes of upper Sharn, were highly respected and feared down here in the Cogs. However, the group were still unsure why Daask had ordered the excavation stopped. In addition, they had yet to find any evidence regarding the current location of Griss or any of Vestan’s former employees. Finally, the group decided to take what little information they had back to the upper levels of Sharn and report their findings to Vestan in the hopes that he may consider this sufficient for continued patronage.
Thus, the party quickly left the Cogs, taking great care to travel in a roundabout way from Vestan’s property to avoid being spotted leaving the ruins, and made their way back to the surface of Sharn. Upon leaving the hot, humid, stench-filled corridors of the Cogs and returning to the relative coolness of lower Sharn, most of the group was amazed at how even the vagrants and desperately poor who live in the slums of lower Sharn can still be grateful that at least they don’t live in the Cogs. It came as a surprise that it was mid-morning when they arrived back on the surface of Sharn, and the group recognized the strangeness of living, even for a short time, in a world without day or night. Once back in Sharn proper, the group temporarily split up, with Saiph reporting back to House Medani and the remainder heading up to Skyway to speak with Vestan ir’Simul.
Saiph reached the main House Medani enclave shortly before noon, where he was ushered into a personal meeting with the patriarch of the House, Baron Trelib d’Medani. Such meetings with Baron Trelib are rare, but not unheard of, as it is well-known throughout House Medani that Trelib likes to stay personally apprised of the most important plots and schemes in Sharn. However, this was the first time that Saiph had been granted such a private audience with the patriarch of his House, and the elf was understandably concerned about presenting himself in a respectable manner.
Trelib sat behind an enormous red maple table, shelves behind the half-elf stuffed to overflowing with folders and paperwork that Saiph knew contained information on hundreds upon hundreds of machinations currently taking place within the city of Sharn and currently being monitored by members of his family. Trelib leaned forward, placing his elbows on the desk and placed his palms together with his fingers up. He gently rested his chin on his fingertips, stared directly into Saiph’s eyes, and said, “So, Saiph d’Medani, you’ve certainly had quite an exciting past few days. Tell me, what do you know of Arik Redtree?”
Saiph swallowed hard, composed himself, and recounted to Baron Trelib the events of the past several days regarding Arik Redtree and their investigations into the appearance of the mist monster at the memorial ceremony and the eldritch machine that was disabled in the base of the Seventh Tower. Saiph was careful not to speak any outright untruths, but also carefully chose his words to ensure that Trelib would not suspect that there were any long-term associations between Saiph and the other “zealous citizens” who aided him in the early portion of the investigation.
Trelib smiled at Saiph. “Yes, you were indeed aided by some extremely zealous citizens. Tell me, what do you know of these other citizens?”
Again, Saiph responded completely honestly, if somewhat incompletely. Notably, Saiph avoided mentioning that his first encounter with this group was at the mountaintop tower of the ir’Lain estate several years ago and that every person present at that location and time have since developed the same aberrant dragonmark. Instead, Saiph framed his statement so as to give the impression that he was unacquainted with Nemis, Tivira, Kin, and Jak prior to the events at the memorial ceremony.
After quietly and intently listening to all that Saiph had to say regarding these “zealous citizens,” Trelib calmly spoke. “It seems that these individual may have quite a history. We have some evidence that suggests that they may have attacked and killed a proctor from Morgrave University the same night as the events at the base of the Seventh Tower. We are unsure if the murder and the plot by Arik Redtree are linked.
“We believe one of these citizens is a fey creature who goes by the name of Nemis. And while it is clear that the mist creature that attacked the crowd at the memorial ceremony was, indeed, summoned from within Arik Redtree’s tenement, we have our suspicions that Nemis have have played a role in the creature’s appearance. We base this upon the fact that Nemis has known affiliations with the monstrous nation of Droaam and is currently working under the patronage of the illithid Xorchylic, an individual who has made repeated threats to Breland in general and the city of Sharn in particular. We are unsure who the kalashtar and warforged are, but it is evident that they are traveling companions of Nemis. We have information that those three individuals traveled deep into the Mournland after the culmination of the Last War. Furthermore, a woman matching the description of the kalashtar psychically attacked and unarmed man in a taver in the lower wards, again, shortly after the events at Arik Redtree’s tenement.
“We are unsure why these three may have embarked on a spree of violence after assisting you in disabling Arik’s eldritch device, but we continue to investigate the matter.
The tiefling has proven considerably more difficult to trace. We believe that he may have at one point been a student at Morgrave University, but we have thus far been unable to narrow down which of the roughly 400 half-demon students of that body your citizen may be.”
Saiph sat for a moment and processed the information that Trelib had just given him. In an effort to turn the topic of conversation, the elf spoke up, mentioning that he shared some concerns regarding the warforged and the likelihood that it may be a follower of the infamous Lord of Blades.
Trelib responded, “Yes, your eyes are keen, Saiph d’Medani. The trek that Nemis, the kalashtar, and the warforged took into the Mournland coincided with the emergence of the Lord of Blades, although we have no evidence directly linking these two events. We have, however, noticed increased numbers of warforged entering Sharn and applying for citizenship in recent weeks. We suspect, although we cannot yet prove, that this may be the early stages of an infiltration from the Lord of Blades. If he were to attack this city, he could do worse than to first establish several thousand of his loyal followers within the city’s towers. Tell me, Saiph, what might you know of this plot?”
At this prompting, Saiph revealed that he had recently encountered warforged individuals who claimed to be servants of the Lord of Blades in the lower sections of the city, but that he knew little beyond this. Saiph was careful not to reveal any additional information regarding this encounter.
Trelib sat still, quietly staring at Saiph as if he expected the elf to say more. Saiph finally broke the awkward silence by explaining that he agreed that these four individual citizens had interesting pasts. He went on to explain that he believed that they may be critical components of an ongoing and currently evolving scenario involving multiple key players both in and out of Sharn. He finally boldly stated that he planned to embed himself with this small group in an effort to uncover what plots and schemes may be linked with these citizens.
Trelib sat in silence, still staring at Saiph. Quietly, he spoke in a voice that at once expressed both power and friendliness. “I sense, Saiph d’Medani, that may know more than you have told me. You know that I do not like secrets kept within our House. However, I know you. I know you to be a trustworthy and honorable member of our House and worthy of the Medani name. I trust that you are continuing to keep the interests of our House in mind, and I trust that you will reveal everything to the House when the time is right.”
Taken aback by this, Saiph affirmed his absolute loyalty and devotion to both House Medani in general and to Trelib in particular. Trelib responded by saying that he had no doubts regarding Saiph’s loyalty and reiterated that he trusted Saiph fully.
Finally, Trelib brought the conversation back to the subject of Arik Redtree. “Our investigations into Arik Redtree are still in their earliest stages, but we have uncovered some potentially valuable pieces of information. First, we discovered that Mr. Redtree traveled to the continent of Sarlona and back within the past two months. As you know, Sarlona is all but ruled by the Inspired, human agents of the Dreaming Dark. The fact that his trip to Sarlona occurred only months before his attempted attack on the Seventh Tower suggests to us that Mr. Redtree may be in league with the Inspired and the Dreaming Dark. We don’t currently understand why, but it is possible that the complete destruction of a tower in Sharn may have had the ultimate goal of inciting terror among the populace. With terror comes nightmares, upon which the Dreaming Dark feed. It is important to note that this is all conjecture at this point, we have no direct evidence of a link between Arik Redtree and the Inspired aside from his trip to Sarlona and the appearance of the nightmare golem you destroyed in his tenement. However, it is clear from his finances that he did not have sufficient funding to do all of this on his own. That, unfortunately, is all we have for you at this point, Saiph d’Medani. It was a pleasure speaking with you and I wish you soft steps and keen ears.”
Saiph returned the farewell, called Baron Trelib his honored uncle, and left the patriarch’s office.
Meanwhile, the rest of the group had made their way to an outpost of the Red Eagle Skycoach company, where they hoped to catch a quick flight up to Skyway to meet with Vestan ir’Simul. Their flight was gratefully uneventful, unlike their first experience flying to Skyway when they were attacked by Arik Redtree and a group of soarsled-riding goblins, and the foursome arrived at Vestan’s manor in the early afternoon. They were welcomed and shown inside by Vestan’s seven-foot-tall butler, who somewhat boorishly informed them that they were “unexpected.”
After spending several minutes in Vestan’s lavishly decorated waiting room, the butler returned and informed the group that Vestan would see them. They followed the enormous man down the opulent marbled halls of Vestan’s manor and into the open dining hall where they had first met with Vestan only a day before. The elderly nobleman was in the middle of a conversation with a second individual, a man the group had never seen before.
The other man was roughly forty years old, six feet tall, and rail thin. He wore horn-rimmed glasses and his cheeks and forehead were deeply pocketed and scarred as though he may have had terrible acne in his youth. His clothes indicated that he was a high-ranking member of the Church of the Silver Flame. As the group approached the pair of men, they stopped their conversation, turned to the foursome, and greeted them warmly. In particular, the priest of the Silver Flame seemed overtly excited as he introduced himself to the party.
“Hi! Hi! Greetings to you all in the name of the Silver Flame! It’s so nice to see you. I was just so incredibly excited when Vestan told me that you were here! I read all about you in that Sharn Inquisitive article the other day. You are, indeed, quite the heroes! Oh! But, where are my manners. I am Silas Hiram, Abbot of the Cathedral of the Cleansing Flame, Sharn’s preeminent temple dedicated to the Silver Flame! It is a pleasure to meet you. Vestan showed me the article in the Inquisitive and mentioned that you were performing a task for him and I was just so incredibly excited about meeting real life heroes such as yourselves. There really should be more good-hearted folks like you in our fair city. Perhaps then the darkness that currently cloaks Sharn might be lifted.”
Vestan, seeming slightly annoyed at Silas, cleared his throat loudly. “Yes, Silas, is a good friend of mine from the church. Silas, would you mind terribly if I might have a word in private with these fine individuals?”
“Oh, yes, yes, of course. Forgive me! I’m sorry. Yes, I’ll just be in the waiting room, Vestan. Call for me when you are finished and we can continue our discussion.”
With that, Silas took his leave of the party and was escorted by the tall butler from the dining hall. Vestan then turned his full attention to the party. “So, you have returned quickly! I hope this bodes well for your investigation. Have you solved my problems at the excavation site?”
The group informed Vestan regarding the ruins of Ja’Sharaat to the full extent of their knowledge, letting him know that the likely cause for the cessation of operations was an order from Daask. They also told him about the presence of the ancient House Cannith foundry within the Ja’Sharaat ruins, a revelation that piqued Vestan’s interest. The group pointedly avoided mentioning the attack by the Lord of Blades agents, considering that piece of information irrelevant to the task which Vestan had charged them with. In addition, the group failed to mention that they had taken the replicas of the Seven Rubicons from within the ruins.
Vestan carefully considered the party’s words before he spoke. “So, it appears that Daask has discovered someone operating in their territory and they are trying to make a profit from it. I had hoped to keep this operation private, but very well. Daask will have to be negotiated with.
“The original terms of our agreement were that I would pay you one hundred gold each as a down payment for your services and another hundred when the excavation was again operational. I would like to reestablish those terms, if you don’t mind. How would you feel about negotiating with Daask for me. I will set aside three thousand gold pieces as a…tribute…to Daask in exchange for them letting me proceed with my operations.
“You may negotiate with this money as you see fit and keep whatever might remain after negotiations are complete. Are those terms acceptable?”
Jak, Tivira, Kin, and Nemis looked at each other warily, and then Kin spoke up, informing Vestan that one of their group was currently attending to other business and that they would need to discuss the matter with him before they agreed to anything. Vestan nodded in understanding and let the group know that he was appreciative of what they had done for him thus far, but that time was of the utmost importance regarding the excavation, and that if the group didn’t agree to his terms by the end of the following day, he would have no choice but to seek out additional employees to negotiate with Daask on his behalf.
Before the group left Vestan’s estate, Jak asked if the nobleman had been successful in arranging a meeting with a representative from House Cannith. “Indeed, I have. As per your request, I have discreetly arranged a meeting with a full-blooded member of House Cannith. You are to meet the representative at the Broken Anvil tavern in the Hareth’s Folly district tomorrow at noon. I bid you farewell and I do hope that you seriously consider my offer of further employment.”
With that, the foursome turned to leave, but they noticed Abbot Hiram peering around the corner of a doorway. The abbot smiled upon being spotted and marched up to the group and Vestan. “I’m so terribly sorry for interrupting, it appears that you are just about to leave.” Silas Hiram then conspicuously cleared his throat and motioned to Vestan, giving the elderly nobleman an incredulous look.
Vestan sighed heavily, looked sheepishly at the group and said, “Ahh, yes, I almost forgot. My good friend Silas here has a pressing issue and he feels that you may be just the people who can help him.