Ashes of the Empire

Turin's Journal 1

March 13, 2170 AE: Today, after days of travel, we finally arrived in the city of Haven, located on the western shore of Lake Thallia. This was the place where I hoped to start my new life, with the help of my friend Karrauk. It was strange to be in a place where no-one knows of my abilities and I have a chance to live among other people. I had never visited a city away from The Ridian Sandsea and had never been around so many different races. I know that Half-Elves are not well loved outside of our own lands, but fortunately so far I haven’t had any trouble with the people in Haven.

One of our first priorities upon arriving was to try and find a source of income. After asking around Karrauk and I discovered that there is a notice board located in the center of town with jobs posted for individuals not associated with any of the Syndicates to find work. As we headed towards the town square I saw a very large, old military style fort towering over the center of Haven. It looked to be a few centuries old at the least and made for a very imposing first sight.

Unfortunately, as we reached the center of the harbor district we found nothing but a large post where the notice board should have been located. Judging from the splinters of wood on the ground someone had destroyed the board. There was an elf nearby wearing chain-mail, a sword, and a tabard with the symbol of a red shield on a black and white checkerboard pattern. I don’t have much experience with the Syndicates, but I did recognize the symbol of the Ruby Guard who work directly under the control of the king. He also seemed to be wearing a strange red ring on his right ring finger over his leather gloves.

The guard informed us that some vagrants have been vandalizing the notice board and that we would have better luck looking for work at a place called Trencher’s Rest. Karrauk questions him about the vandals, but the elf just says that after the board being repeatedly torn down they have just started redirecting people to Trencher’s Rest. His parting words were an insincere welcome to the city, along with a warning to stay out of trouble.

Following the guard’s directions we headed down the street towards the wharf district. Along the way I saw people at work, repairing nets and selling fresh fish. Eventually I saw a large wooden structure with an attached stable to the right, on the south side of the street. It was an older, but well-kept, three story building with a sign outside that says Trencher’s Rest with an image of a trenching tool. As we approached the entrance I noticed a small pile of junk outside the front door. It looked to be a collection of broken and rusty knives and slats of wood with red paint on them. There is smoke coming from the roof carrying the smells of food and tobacco.

Inside there was a large common room, on the left wall was a bar being tended by a middle-aged white scaled Veln wearing an apron, against the back wall there was a large dangerous looking Half-Orc and a wiry Elf throwing knives at a wooden target board, and at a circular table in the corner three Dwarves were smoking pipes and being rowdy. The Veln behind the bar shouted at Karrauk and I to stop and raise our right hands up. We complied and then after inspecting our hands he apologizes but told us in these times it is necessary.

Once we had permission to enter we walked up to the bar and asked why he would need to check our hands. He told us that he wanted to make sure we weren’t members of the Consortium because they aren’t welcome in his establishment, due to the fact that they have bought up most of the local traders and won’t sell certain items to him. The Veln refuses to buy from the Consortium until they stop their practice of price fixing. When we asked him how seeing our right hands would prove we weren’t Consortium he seems a bit surprised that we wouldn’t understand, but explained that when a person joins a Syndicate they are given a magic ring that can’t be removed and always shows on top of any gloves.

Members of the Consortium can be identified by an orange ring, and I think its likely the Ruby Guard have red rings based on what the elf guard was wearing. The Veln finally introduces himself as Brelnas Snowscale. When he asked why we were there we explained that we were looking for work and were directed to the Trencher’s Rest by a guard after we found the broken notice board. Brelnas told us that most “Indies” or independent adventurers usually ended up at his place, and that Syndicate jobs are normally handled at their respective headquarters or hall.

Brelnas mentioned that there were a couple of “Dogs” at the back, indicating the Half-Orc and the Elf. I noticed they were wearing green rings, which must be the color indicating a member of the Underdogs. He asks if we would like some ale and food, and I was looking forward to a hot meal. Brelnas offered a house ale or a dwarven ale that was brought in by the Dwarves in the corner in their latest shipment from Ormek. Karrauk and I both got a house ale, and he ordered a fresh fish dish while I ordered a larger standard meal.

While we drank our ales and waited for our food Brelnas told us there were a couple of jobs available. The first was related to some bodies that had gone missing from the crematorium and the second to a Veln staying upstairs who was looking for his lost sister. I’ve always believed it is better to help the living over the dead, (and Brelnas mentioned it would be a personal favor if we could help his guest due to his presence having brought about the Ruby Guard on a few occasions) so Karrauk and I agreed to take the second job.

Brelnas told us that the Veln staying upstairs is named Davkul and that he had been staying at the Trencher’s Rest for the past month while he searched for his missing sister. They are both from New Adamant on the other side of Lake Thalia. Davkul mostly stays upstairs, but on a few of the occasions when he has been out he had returned roughed up. He keeps to himself, pays on time, and is quiet, but the Ruby Guard has been by to see him on a couple of occasions.

As our conversation with Brelnas was finishing our food arrived and we ordered more drinks (another house ale for me, while Karrauk decided to try out the dwarven ale). The food was delicious, especially after our long travel, and the ale was also some of the best I’ve ever had. We paid for our meals and got a common room for the night. As I was finishing the last of my food I felt a strong hand on my shoulder. I turned and saw that it was the Half-Orc Underdog.

He shook Karrauk’s hand and introduced himself as Goroth Greendog. He said it was good to see another Half-Orc and that you don’t see that many Liars’ Bloods around Haven. He asked what brought us here and we explained our search for work. Goroth told us he is a member of the Black Hackle squad of the Underdogs and that the Elf he was throwing knives with, Ailaren Theonaius, is their squad leader. Goroth had a humorous nature about him and referred to Brelnas as “Snowy” on several occasions, though he recommended we not use that name ourselves. We were invited to join Goroth and Ailaren in a game of throwing knives.

The three of us headed to the back of the room and Goroth introduced us to Ailaren. The board they were using was clearly handmade and not in very good condition (which explained all the broken knives and wood scraps outside the door). They explained that a bulls-eye was worth 3 points and each further ring out worth one less than the last, and that missing the board completely was a bad idea and something Brelnas was likely to get upset about. The game went well with me losing to Ailaren in a tie-breaker, though if Goroth hadn’t damaged the board on his third throw and lost all his points he would have been the victor.

After our game was concluded Ailaren informed us that the Underdogs were always looking for new recruits and that if we were interested he would put in a good word for us. He told us that the Underdogs are headquartered in Haven and often worked with the Ruby Guard to help maintain order. They also do a lot of other tasks that include guard work, treasure hunting, and mercenary jobs. The Underdogs like people with adventuring experience that are willing to travel. When Ailaren and Goroth aren’t at the Trencher’s Rest they go on all sorts of missions, including some from the other Syndicates. Overall the Underdogs aren’t as specialized as many of the other Syndicates and are more flexible in the work they do.

We decided it would be best if we spoke with Davkul before we settled into our room so Brelnas volunteered to introduce us. He told Goroth to mind the bar and took us upstairs to Davkul’s room. When we reached the room marked 2, Brelnas knocked on the door and told Davkul he had brought some people to help him. Davkul called for us to enter and then Brelnas made the introductions before heading back down to the bar. The room seemed to be a bit disheveled, with pieces of parchment scattered around, a bed that hadn’t been made, and a pile of first aid supplies in the corner. The window shutters were closed and a few candles has been lit for light. Davkul himself was a copper Veln wearing unwashed traveler’s clothing who looked like he hadn’t slept in awhile.

Davkul told us that he hadn’t seen his sister, a gold Veln named Janvyre Lairhorn, in months and that he had put up posters around Haven. So far he had gotten a few leads, but none of them had panned out or helped him find his sister. He feared that she had gotten into some real trouble, and the Ruby Guard seem interested in whatever she was doing. While Davkul is just a simple farmer, Janvyre has always been a devout follower of Braknal who aspires to be a warrior or maybe even a paladin one day.

Janvyre had recently become involved with a radical sect of Brak’nal called The Order of Truth that believes Syndicates should be eliminated. They believe that the Syndicates have perverted the power of Braknal by using Kyran’s armor to make the Syndicate rings and their binding pacts. The Order of Truth wants Kyran’s armor returned to the followers of Braknal. Davkul explained that the Syndicates view the order as a terrorist group, due to some of the actions they have taken against the Syndicates. Davkul had heard around town that the Ruby Guard had been spotted speaking with a gold Veln from out of town that might have been Janvyre, however the Ruby Guard won’t speak to him about it and they keep tearing down his posters.

Janvyre offered us 250 Silver Slips if we are able to locate his sister, his profits from this year’s harvest. He told us we could return anytime and to knock four times and state our names whenever we visit his room. After our conversation had finished Karrauk and I headed to our own room. It had two windows (a smaller one overlooking the street and a large one opening onto the roof), a dresser with some candles and a bell, a chest, and a hammock. The bell had a note stating that it should rung whenever meals are desired. We stored some of our traveling gear in the room and then headed back down into the common room.

We started our search for Janvyre by talking to Brelnas and finding out what he knew about the order. He told us he wasn’t very familiar with them and that they don’t have much of a presence in Haven. He told us that if we wanted to know more we could ask around farther down the docks in some of the sketchier areas where the Ruby Guard patrols less, or we could try the temple devoted to Braknal in the common district. We believed the temple to be a better place to start and got directions on how to find it. As we left the Trencher’s Rest Karrauk spotted a couple of Ruby Guard that seemed to be watching who was leaving the place, likely keeping an eye on Davkul.

As we followed the directions we eventually came up a large square building constructed of white stone with blue cloth tapestries on the walls outside. I’ve heard that Brak’nal is the primary religion of the Veln so it was no surprise to see how large the temple was. There were many people coming and going so Karrauk and I headed in. As we entered I noticed the smell of incense and that we were attracting a few strange looks, especially at our weapons. The inside of the temple had tall ceilings with skylights and at the front was a large shrine with braziers burning oil and a symbol of Brak’nal all located on a raised platform. There were many Veln Kneeling in front of the shrine and at the base of the steps there was a bronze statue of Kyran Steelscale.

There were many priests and priestesses wearing white hooded robes and carrying long slender staves with the symbol of Brak’nal at the top. At the front of the temple there was a brass Veln woman wearing a more intricate robe carrying a staff with a more ornate head reading a book to a few listeners. A blue Veln priest approached and greeted us asking if he could help us. We explained we were looking for a missing gold Veln woman who may have stopped by the temple in the last couple months. The priest agreed to ask around and see if any of the clergy remembered a woman matching that description.

Eventually the high priestess came to speak with us and introduced herself as Stohana. She remembered Janvyre visiting over a month ago and that she had seemed very confused. Janvyre had come from a temple in New Adamant and sought a place to stay, but seemed like she was in a rush. Janvyre had some sort of pressing duty that she needed to attend to, and she kept asking where she might find a stone door with a silver hand, but Stohana had never heard of such a thing. Stohana did explain to us that a silver hand was once used many centuries ago in the days of the empire as a symbol of Brak’nal, but it is no longer used in the modern day. It is possible that this stone door with a silver hand might belong to an ancient temple or tomb of Brak’nal. Stohana informed us that there is a historical society in Haven that might have more information, or that we could try the archive of Sahlah.

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