A voice from the Past
Quilate flies off to seek treatment for his wounds. Lady Anne Mowbry and Thorne spend time looking for survivors under the rubble fearing that none will be found. However, their diligent searching turns up three badly wounded, but still living people. She drags them clear of the rubble and does what she can to aid them.
Keribrar, shaken by the sudden lack of magic in this area, is startled when three brass orbs rise out of the chasm. They drop to the ground and roll until they reach the edge of the magic dead zone. Once there they open up like puzzles. One is an elephant shooting water from its trunk, a second is a candelabra with three points of flames, the final one is a hourglass with two tornadoes of sand inside. They form an odd triangle and inside is inky black lit only barely by a star field. Hafwyn has never seen constellations of these patterns, but a few look vaguely familiar.
The deeper they stare into the void the more they see of a dark face. Dimly lit by the starlight he appears to be human, but with a squarer face and more pronounced jawline. He is speaking with someone off to their left, but they cannot hear his words or see to whom he is speaking.
Keribrar tries several things to speak with the creature, but works until it touches the star field with his magic. The face suddenly disappears and a large-winged bat flies out of the triangle, destroying the star field as it leaves – scattering the brass figurines. It takes flight above them and then heads straight to Quilate. The two battle in the air for a few seconds before the bat wraps its wings around Quilate and they both plunge to the earth.
Anne and Thorne cross into the territory of the Holwen’s Boys to use their bridge. They are stopped near the bridge by an embankment setup between gang territories. Thorne challenges the leader of the group to a honorable duel. Given that gangers don’t care about honor and such it went about as well as could be expected. However, Thorne is more than a match for the gang leader and his friends allowing him and Anne to force their way into the city.
They meet up with Keribrar and Hafwyn and head off in search of Quilate. During the search Anne’s belongings are rustled and a pair of the brass orbs are stolen. Nearly two hours are spent in search of their fallen companion, but as it gets late they have to call a halt to the search. Instead they return to the Watchers’ House.
Anne does not want to lose any more of her memories so she asks about other lodgings. Ollonni agrees to move the house across the street from the Sword and Bones, a well-known tavern. Anne, Hafwyn, and Keribrar go over for dinner and drink while Thorne retires to his room for the evening. Unfortunately for Anne the tavern turns out to be far less human-centric than she expected so she returns to the Watchers’ House – Keribrar and Hafwyn stay for the evening.
The evening is cut short when Gabor a carpenter who runs a crew for Janos comes into the tavern with six of his crew. Everyone except for Hafwyn, Keribrar, Ragash, and the Barkeep leave quickly. Ragash is an orc ale wife selling her red ale to the barkeep and she has clearly tussled with Janos’ crews before, but Hafwyn and Keribrar are fresh meat. Outnumbered and over-powered they are thrown out of the tavern. Keribrar tries to force his way back inside and is beaten senseless for his trouble.
Hafwyn goes and finds a nice rooftop to settle into for the night. The night brings many strange creatures to the streets. Any decent people are behind locked doors during the thieving hours. In the strangeness Hafwyn watches Ragash and another orc pulling a cart with their wares while a third paces behind. A strangely colored light illuminates the area around them, driving off the menagerie of monsters on the streets. In the back of the cart is Keribrar.
The only other human-looking group to pass by are three groups of people in grey hoods. They make little noise and don’t interact with anything she can see – yet the monsters do not hamper their progress. Even when one group passes by another group they do not acknowledge each other. Finally near dawn a translucent worm crawls along the street eating anything too slow to get out of its way.
In the morning Hafwyn stops by the Watchers’ House and leaves a note for Thorne to seek her at the Sword and Bones. With the work crew gone she sits for a decent breakfast and fine red ale. An hour later Anne and Thorne join her. The barkeep gives them directions to Ragash’s Brewery and Anne gets a suggestion for a different inn called Pestilence Pustule in the Temple District.
Keribrar wakes up with his wounds tended to and agrees to help Ragash to pay off his “debt.” He spends about two hours coopering some kegs when the others arrive. Anne and Keribrar go to the Temple District while Hafwyn and Thorne go to the Market.
The temple district is far nicer than any other location in the city and appears to be only humans and non-human servants. The Pestilence Pustule is a large stone building two stories high and twice as long as any nearby building. The stonework on the outside shows great skill in both the statuary and bas-relief columns. Vitorii, the proprietor, is a well-dressed and soft-spoken man. For a sizable fee he prepares two rooms for them.
Both are surprised to each find a dead body on their bed along with a silvered-lined pewter pitcher of water. When they ask Vitorii he explains how the water works. The inn caters to those who prefer their companionship undead. Simply pour the pitcher into the mouth and a spirit will be summoned into the body from Flumen Dei Animas, the River of Souls.
Anne chooses not to participate, but Keribrar is never one to turn down an opportunity. He summons up a spirit named Karrin. She seems friendly enough although she says she has been brought to this house several times. When questioned she knows that Quilate has not passed to the river – as all dead of the city do – but not much else. When the sun sets she can wander about the city more freely. There is an old goblin in the Yellohood Forest that may have answers. If he is still alive you find him by leaving a gift in the hallow of a very ancient and long dead tree.
The market of Fountainhead is an exercise in true chaos. Vendors have set up stalls and blankets anywhere they can find space, hawking all manner of goods. Vying for attention are dozens of crafters selling from their shops along the main thoroughfares. Hafwyn and Thorne are looking for a gnome named Thaogut for he sells the most interesting goods in the market.
They find Thaogut sitting atop a large chest bound with iron straps held by large locks. For a single favor a person can reach inside the chest and claim what is inside. What is found inside is never what the person wants, but it is always what they need.
Thorne agrees to retrieve his walking stick, which was stolen by children several days ago. In return he gets a gold cameo pendant with a man’s visage in bas-relief. The man looks like the face they saw in the star field the day before. Hafwyn trades a single drop of her blood. She gets a bracer personally handed to her from Mardac, Fae Lord of the Dark Elves.
Few a few hours they sit and chat with Thaogut, sharing wine and ale along with some food. In time Anne and Keribrar arrive. Anne trades three tears from a virgin for a small bone wand. The previous owner was using it to control some sort of creature when they died. Keribrar promises to make him a fine teak chair with footstool and canopy. In return he gets a brass ball that opens into a pair of cymbals worked by a clever spring mechanism.
In order for Thorne to satisfy his promise Thaogut gives them a compass that will lead to them to his walking stick. He could go himself, but without his stick he cannot move the chest. The compass leads them to the Blackhouse district. Along the way they are being tracked by a gang of children from the roofs and alleys until they reach a large ash field.
Thorne creeps to a closed door on a smoldering building at the edge of the field. Inside are three dogs not of this realm judging by the flames licking along their bodies. When the others enter the building the dogs attack – the youngest pup bursts into flames. Thorne manages to calm them down but not until they bang up the others and nearly set the building ablaze. They hover around a stone building at the center of the ash field.
The house is covered in runes and when Hafwyn tries and destroy them there is a sudden wave of heat and she falls unconscious. At a more stately pace Keribrar and Anne study the runes over the main door. While that is going on Thorne manages to make contact with one of the children, a small girl. She has the gnome’s stick and is willing to trade it for ten steel daggers. Thorne agrees to the trade and says he will return tomorrow and deliver them.
After nearly two hours Anne and Keribrar manage to tear apart the runes enough to open the door. Inside a blackened skeleton is bound with iron chains to the stone floor. The heat is unbearable inside, but with a bit of trickery they manage to unshackle the skeleton. Once freed he gathers up ash and forms a body around himself. He is about a foot taller than them with a long body. A ash and bone bow forms on his back along with a quiver of bone arrows.
He is a huntsman from the Ashlands that has been trapped here for years beyond counting, since a time a great empire of magicians lived on these lands. The magicians were killed by the elves, who also did not free him from captivity. Those who trapped him have long since died, but he will take his vengeance upon their souls. His hounds are overjoyed their master is freed and their bodies take on a coat of ash as well.
Keribrar tries to summon up his contacts who might know something, but he only discovers that whomever buried the secrets of this lost empire was powerful enough to muzzle the spirits. This is old and ancient magic far beyond the capabilities of those living today. Everyone does agree to help him find those who trapped him.
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