Ashes of the Empire

Turin's Journal 2

We decided it would be best to head to the historical society first, as it was likely the Sahlah Archive would charge for their information. High Priestess Stohana informed us that the historical society could be found in the fort located in the center of town, known as West Fort Lakewatch. As we approached the fort I could see it faced east, towards the lake, and that there was a raised portcullis at the gate. There were many Ruby Guard around the fortress watching the people coming and going. Through the entrance gate there was a long series of wide ancient stone stairs that wound around the hill up to the fort. There were Veln laborers gathering goods from their carts and carrying them up the steps. When we reached the top of the stairs I looked out to the east and saw a beautiful view of Lake Thallia and the eastern half of Haven.

The entrance to the actual fort was a large iron reinforced wooden door that was sunken into the walls. There were two members of the Ruby Guard waving laborers through. As we approached the Guardsmen stopped us and asked us what business we had at the fort. We informed them that we were seeking the historical society and, after taking down our names, one of them escorted us to our destination. On the way, he warned us that we were not to wander around the fort unsupervised as West Fort Lakewatch is still an active military base. The fort houses the courts and prison for Haven, as well as being a base of operations for the Ruby Guard.

The guard led us to a door located near one of the walls of the fort and informed us this was the location of the historical society. The door was beautifully crafted with an ornate bronze door knocker in the shape of a snarling lion. Above the knocker was a wood inlay of deep red wood in the shape of a large elaborate letter X. On the right side of the door was a beveled bronze panel with intricate scroll-work and a keyhole. Strangely, the door didn’t appear to have a doorknob so I used the knocker.

A voice called for us to come in and the door opened soundlessly on its own. The room was deeper than it was wide, with a door on the left side that seemed to lead out to a balcony based on the breeze coming in, and two closed doors on the right wall. On the floor was a strange violet rug that seemed to have a moving shimmer running across it. Looming in the center of the room was a huge stuffed head of a roaring white dragon. On the walls were many maps locked behind glass panes depicting landmasses I couldn’t recognize, as well as other cabinets and shelves that housed strange artifacts that seemed to come from many different cultures and times. There were books of all shapes and sizes scattered throughout the room and shelves, and a floating feather duster that was cleaning the room on its own.

In the back of the room under an open window were a Veln and a Gnome looking over a map, and a Dwarf facing us that seemed to have just gotten up from the table. He was a bit portly with an extremely intricate beard, and was wearing a pith helmet, a monocle, and was resting his gloved hand on the jeweled hilt of a rapier. His clothing appeared to be standard adventuring gear, but was made from a much higher quality of materials than I have ever seen.

The Dwarf welcomed us and shook our hands as he introduced himself as Kaldergan. We explained to him that we were seeking a missing Veln who was the sister of an acquaintance of ours and the information we had received from High Priestess Stohana. Kaldergan asked if we had ever heard of THOTS, or The Honorable Order of Treasure Seekers, which was the name of the organization we had entered. When we informed him that we were unfamiliar with THOTS he told us they were an organization of treasure hunters with chapters in various cities. They believe in sharing their experiences and discoveries, as opposed to the Sahlah Archive who tend to lock things away and charge the other Syndicates for access to their information.

Kaldergan motioned for us to follow him into the first door on the right so that we could speak further about the stone door with the silver hand. The room had a reserved appearance, with a pair of giant overstuffed chairs facing a large fireplace. There was a thick red rug on the floor, the walls were covered in intricate landscape paintings and a map of Morset. In the center of the room was a large rectangular wooden table. The strangest site was a huge sleeping Mastiff made out of steel plates, with steam coming out of its nostrils. As we entered Kaldergan snapped his fingers and a fire roared to life that didn’t create any smoke.

Once the door was closed Kaldergan turned and berated us for getting involved with the Order of Truth, and that it was dangerous to talk about such things in the open. He calmed down a bit after I told him we had only spoken about the matter with him and High Priestess Stohana. Kaldergan explained that the Order of Truth, which is more common near Adamant, likely only exists because they can’t remember what life was like before the creation of the Syndicates. While many Dwarves are against their existence, Kaldergan believes that things are better off with the Syndicates running things.

Kaldergan has had experience exploring old tombs and ruins and is familiar with the symbol of the silver hand. He told us that it was only ever used by a single sect of Brak’nal. If a tomb exists with such a symbol in Haven it is likely going to be located either in the ancient catacombs located directly beneath the fort that have been sealed for decades, or it could be a tomb that existed before the fall, when Haven was just an imperial fort. Kaldergan believed he had some old maps of the area that could be of use and left the room to retrieve them.

While Kaldergan is gone I took the opportunity to examine the many magical objects in the room. The most obvious and powerful sources were the mastiff and the fireplace, but almost every object in the room contained some traces of magic. Karrauk and I were both interested in the mastiff and while he studied it up close I was able to determine that he seemed to be crafted out of some kind of divine magic. Karrauk also took the time to make some updates to his map of Morset using the one hanging on the wall as a guide.

When Kaldergan returned he was carrying a key that he simply touched to the wood of one of the cabinets and its door swung open, revealing that it contained many brass tubes, which I could detect were magical in nature. He pulled out one of the tubes and brought it over to the table, revealing that it contained an old parchment containing an early map of Haven. Kaldergan told us the tubes helped to preserve the parchment and that without its help this map would likely be nothing but dust. The map showed that there were burial grounds on the south side of the hills, to shield then from Errodrel in the north. After the destruction of Adamantia refugees began building Haven, likely directly over these burial grounds. Kaldergan thinks our best bet will be to search the area under the southern part of Haven, which is unfortunately a rougher part of town.

Kaldergan thinks that in addition to the tomb we are searching for there are likely many tombs of Bahamut as well, as worship of him was more common at that time. He did a little research on the sect using the silver hand emblem and found that it had also been known as the Order of Truth but that it had fallen apart hundreds of years ago. It is unlikely that the current organization using the name is related, but perhaps they drew inspiration from the original order. Kaldergan’s research showed that the original Order of Truth seemed to be unremarkable at the time and existed long before the foundation of the Syndicates.

He thinks that the best place for us to start looking around south Haven would be at an inn called Fort’s Shadow. It is a rundown place, but there should be a Veln there named Blacktooth who can help us find a way into the sewers. Kaldergan informed us that Blacktooth may be disagreeable and uncouth, but if we tell him Kaldergan sent us and he is to help us find a way underground he should cooperate.

Karrauk asked about the nature of the mastiff and Kaldergan decided to tell us the story of how he came to be. The mastiff was build by one of the greatest Dwarven smiths, Dolon Deepforge. Dolon had a mastiff known as Bellows he cared for deeply who would keep him company as he worked the forges. When Bellows died Dolon fell into a deep depression and found he could not continue his work. One day he locked himself away and no-one saw him for months. When Dolon finally reemerged the new Bellows was there, and nobody knew how he was able to accomplish such a feat. Kaldergan was a good friend of Dolon’s, and when Dolon finally passed away he left Bellows for Kaldergan to care for.

As I stepped forward to examine the mastiff more closely he suddenly opened his eyes and began to growl at my satchel. It seemed he had smelled Fenrich, but Kaldergan told me not to worry as Bellows wasn’t violent. He also told me he knew Fenrich was a familiar and that I was a “Hex Worker”. I was surprised not only that he knew about my nature, but that he seemed to have no fear or disdain of my powers. I am not used to people accepting my abilities and don’t really know what to think of his attitude.

Kaldergan warned us that there may be dangerous people hiding in the sewers of South Haven. While most people won’t mess with a tough looking Half-Orc, there may be pickpockets. He gave each of us a Cure Disease potion, warning that there are likely rats in the sewers. For many years before Haven was founded it was a simple military outpost watching the western part of Lake Thallia. At the time it was a small village known as Soldier’s Wharf and was a gathering place for off duty troops. When The Fall happened and Adamantia fell many Veln refugees came to Haven and New Adamant. Haven just sort of formed around the people seeking the protection of the fort. Initially it was just a tent town, but eventually as more people arrived a formal city began to form.

There is also a chance that we could find an entrance to the Haven underground near where the sewers exit into Lake Thallia or the Melikahn River. However, while this approach would allow us to avoid south Haven, it would require we travel underground much longer. Kaldergan doesn’t believe there are any major artifacts to be found in the tombs under Haven or THOTS would already be aware of them, but he would appreciate any information we do find.

Before we left, Kaldergan informed us that THOTS is actually quite large and that this was just one lodge, though one of the more illustrious ones. They aren’t a syndicate, more a collection of talented ne’er-do-wells who use their talents to seek treasure and adventure. They were sharing tales of the Veln in the other rooms’ most recent adventures when we arrived. Unlike in The Sahlah Archive where the higher the rank a person the more knowledge they have access to, members of THOTS freely share knowledge. Kaldergan believes that the next most qualified group are the Underdogs who don’t have the same style or sense of adventure, but are effective and have many members.

Kaldergan also commented that THOTS has more pull in the Dwarven lands away from the operations of the Syndicates. His position is a strange one for a dwarf as he is currently in a self-imposed exile. He claims no Dwarven clan as his own and instead considers THOTS to be his clan. Exile is generally considered a punishment in Dwarven society, reserved for criminals or political rivals.

With all of this information we finally bid Kaldergan farewell and headed out of the fort and back to the Trencher’s Rest as it was getting late in the day. When we arrived Ailaren and Goroth were there having a drink. Brelnas waved us over as we entered and Goroth welcomed us back. Karrauk commented that it seemed like the two of them were always at the Trencher’s Rest and Goroth agreed that when they weren’t out working for the Underdogs they could usually be found there.

Ailaren reminded Goroth that they had something for us. Goroth slapped his head and said he had forgotten. They had recently had some new members join their squad, and as a result they had an extra Cinder Rod. Since Ailaren believes that every adventuring group should have one, he decided to give us their spare. The Cinder Rod is a jet black cylinder about eight inches long and half an inch thick, stylized with faint shapes of flames on the side. It is used to perform the Ritual of Ash by placing a hot burning magical ember on a corpse to slowly burn the entire body to ash in about an hour. We thanked them for their gift and Ailaren told us that he believes it is through the Ritual of Ash that our society is upheld.

We ordered some meals and Karrauk bought a round of ale for the Dogs. Goroth toasted the Trencher’s Rest and took a huge swig, Karrauk matched him but I decided to stick to my own pace. While we ate our meals we spent the time catching Ailaren and Goroth up on our activities of the day.

Once we had finished out meals there was still time left in the day and I felt the need to do some alchemical work. I wanted to keep my skills honed and hoped that I might be able to create something that could be of use in the sewers. I asked Brelnas if there were any places in Haven where I might be able to purchase the supplies I needed. He told me there was a place in the wharf district called Madame Wyrmeyes Alchemy and Herbs where I should be able to buy what I needed. We headed down the main street and near a large shipyard there was a swampy area with a hut with a sign outside.

As we entered I could smell the familiar scents of alchemical ingredients. There was an older black Veln woman who greeted us and asked what we needed. When I explained the material I required she was glad to meet a fellow alchemist, as many who visit her shop are simply looking for finished products. She told me her family had been running the shop for generations and that she had grown up doing alchemy. I bought the materials for an acid flask and a noxious aromatic. I bid Madame Wyrmeye farewell and informed her I was likely to stop by again for more materials while I was in Haven. We headed back to our room at the Trencher’s Rest and I spent the rest of the night working on my noxious aromatic.


March 14, 2170 AE: The next day we headed down to get breakfast, and we decided to go ahead and pay Brelnas to keep the room for another night and for a full day of meals. Breakfast included ham, biscuits and gravy, and tea. We decided to head to the Fort’s Shadow in order to look for Blacktooth, or at least determine where the Fort’s Shadow was located. I put my coin purse in Fenrich’s satchel for safekeeping since Kaldergan warned us about pickpockets. As we headed into south Haven things seemed pretty quiet since it was still early in the day, the street merchants were still setting up their carts. There seemed to be few Ruby Guard in this part of the city, but there did seem to be some Underdogs backing them up.

As we were walking I heard a main calling out for the “Sand Elf” to come and look at something. I’ve certainly been called worse things in my life so I paid little heed to the slight insult and decided to see what had this merchant so excited. The merchant was a brass Veln named Leokas who told me that you don’t see many Half-Elves in Haven and that he had something I would like. He turned and retrieved a box sealed with papers that appeared to be unopened. Leokas told me that it was a genuine Consortium Preservation Box that keeps the contents from aging a day from the point the container was sealed, and that this particular box was filled with Khagat and Scala Eel from the Sandsea.

I examined the magic on the box to verify what he said and it did appear to have chrono magic that could slow aging. He wanted three Silver Slips for the box, and while I hadn’t been away from the Sandsea for long I wouldn’t mind a taste from home. Since the box looked likely to contain what would be around two or three Quarter Slips worth of goods back home I decided that two Silver Slips would be a fair price. I haggled with the merchant and was able to get it for my desired price. After our transaction was complete Leokas bid us to return at any time for other foreign goods.

We eventually reached the Fort’s Shadow Inn and Tavern and found it to be a beat-up place with a black sign in the shape of a fort. On the inside it looks rundown and mostly empty, with a red Veln man with a club on his waist, wearing an apron, hammering a chair back together. He welcomed us to the Shadow and asked what he could do for us. Karrauk told him we were looking for a Veln named Blacktooth, and the owner told us he wouldn’t be there until later in the evening. He said we should come back around three if we want to talk to him.

We headed back to the Trencher’s Rest to wait and I took the time to finish crafting my noxious aromatic. We decided to have lunch, which included a fish sandwich and stew, before heading back to the Shadow. When we arrived back at the Fort’s Shadow we found it to be a much different place than before. The place was filled with a raucous group, with many inebriated people singing in the common room. We entered in time to see a chair thrown against the wall and splinter over a gold Veln. We spoke to the owner who told us that the Veln covered in chair splinters was the man we were looking for. We approached Blacktooth and quickly discovered how he earned his name, he was disheveled and his teeth were all black and rotting.

Karrauk told Blacktooth that we had been sent by Kaldergan and that he was to help us find a way into the sewers or else he would have to deal with Kaldergan himself. Blacktooth growled in displeasure, but agreed to help us in exchange for a Silver Slip. Karrauk reluctantly handed over the Slip and Blacktooth led us outside. He trudged along at an unsteady gait and led us to a narrow unkempt alleyway. Suddenly, two men stepped out and blocked the path, but Blacktooth told them we were with him and that he would have Grappler’s money later. One of the men said that we couldn’t pass until he had paid the 3 Slips he owed.

Blacktooth demanded that we pay the slips before we could continue and Karrauk tried to argue him down to two slips, with the third being paid with the Slip Blacktooth had received earlier. When Blacktooth refused, Karrauk eventually relented and paid the man what was owed. The figures stepped aside and allowed us to pass into an area containing cobblestone steps which led down into the underground. There was a grate bent away that was clearly intended to keep people out of the sewers. Blacktooth told us to tell Kaldergan that he had been good before slinking away, likely to spend his money on alcohol back at the Shadow.

We headed down the steps into the sewers and entered a dimly lit area where refuse had built up. I was immediately aware of a terrible stench in the area that seemed to be an intersection of a few different waterways. To the south there was an area that led deeper into the sewers that was grated off except for a prison style door on one side. The door was being guarded by four cloaked figures who warned us to head north if we knew what was good for us.

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