Ashes of the Empire

Turin's Journal 5

Before we left the area we decided to investigate the southern tomb further, due to the information Kathek had provided us. It appeared that there was a crack in the northern wall of the structure that went all the way through. Unfortunately due to the angle of the break we couldn’t see into the tomb itself. Karrauk used his Any-Tool to make a pick which he wedged into the crack to expand it. Eventually he was able open it to the point where we could see inside, which revealed that there was a doorway on the other side of the tomb opening into another passage. After about twenty minutes of work Karrauk was able to break through the wall causing minimal damage to the tomb. Inside we found a room similar to the other tombs in the area, except that most of the urns in this one were still intact. There was also another mosaic of Bahamut on the ceiling of this tomb, also in good condition.

We moved through the tomb to the door and found a small open cave area. On the floor of the cave was an ancient looking chest. The top of the chest was sprinkled with dirt and dust, but it seemed to be well-made. Karrauk did his best to examine the chest for traps and wasn’t able to discover anything that appeared dangerous. When we tried to open the chest we found that it was locked, so Karrauk turned his Any-Tool into a crowbar and used it to pry open the lid. Inside we found two small leather pouches, a long cylindrical wrapping of oilcloth, and a leather tube with a cap on it. Karrauk searched the two pouches and found that one contained two gemstones, an onyx and a tourmaline, the other contained twenty-six Imperial gold coins. I opened the leather tube and found a scroll inside, and after using Read Magic I was able to determine it was a scroll of Flaming Sphere. Wrapped up in the oilcloth I found a vibrant red wand which was perfectly polished and in good condition. I was able to determine it was a wand of Burning Hands. Upon further inspection Karrauk believes the onyx to be worth around ninety Silver Slips, though he is unsure of the value of the tourmaline beyond that it is more valuable than the onyx.

After collecting the contents of the chest we headed back out of the sewers to the Trencher’s Rest. Goroth and Ailaren were missing from their usual spots. Brelnas told us that things have been quiet recently, as Goroth and Ailaren have been gone on some mission for the Underdogs, and the dwarven traders have moved on. After smelling us he offered us the use of his baths again while he prepared lunch for us. We took him up on his offer and, after the baths, enjoyed a lunch consisting of a beef sandwich and some Trencher’s stew. As we were finishing our lunches Brelnas mentioned that he had almost forgotten to inform us of a package that had arrived for us. It was a small wooden box and, after using Detect Magic, I was able to determine it contained a weak source of magic. Inside the box was a six-inch glazed porcelain sphere. On the surface of the sphere is a painted image of the symbol of Brak’nal. Brelnas mentioned that he wouldn’t have figured us for the prayer sphere type, and then we excused ourselves to our room.

It appeared that there was something magical inside the sphere. The sphere was glazed white on the outside with the exception of the symbol. Karrauk held it to his ear and rolled it around for a bit, which allowed him to hear something soft shifting around inside. We broke the sphere open with a hammer and inside was a folded up piece of parchment. We unfolded the parchment and found it contained a hand-drawn map of West Haven. Each corner of the map was a different color and they appeared to be dog-eared as if they had folded repeatedly. There were various points of interest marked on the map, including the Cold Steel barracks and various city landmarks. When we folded the red corner back red ink appeared on the map with the message “Ruby Guard Concentration Map.” We tried the other corners and found that each revealed different information, including the courier’s route, the West Haven districts, and the crowd density. We decided to walk the courier’s route in order to get a better idea of West Haven.

We started in an area north of the fort and began walking. Soon we passed by an immaculate building with neatly trimmed hedges and decorative parapets and a large tower, higher than the outer fort walls. Many people were coming and going, the entire place was quite impressive and showy. According to our map, it is likely this is the Jewel of the Empire Hotel and Casino. Near the entrance where coaches were dropping people off, there was a large red bell with a sign that said “Ring for Guard, hotel employee use only.” As we continued on we found that the people of West Haven mostly wore very fine clothing and many had horses and servants. There were some Ruby Guard keeping an eye on things, but compared the the amount of people on the road there weren’t many.

We continued on and to the right we saw tall gray walls covered with ivy that belonged to the Academy of Magic. We could barely see over the walls to see a tall tower located in the center of the academy. In this area we saw many people with books and generally more scholarly types. The whole wall and tower near the bank seemed newer and of a different style than the rest of the fort walls. The older walls are a square style while the newer is more circular and organic, likely done by the elves. There are many more of the Ruby Guard stationed in the area near the bank.

Once we had passed the bank we reached a major crossroads with many people milling about. To the north was a slope winding up with some low-crouching houses and at the top were a bunch of trees, likely a park. To the southeast we saw a large but welcoming structure that was clearly well-made but not opulent. There was a sign out front with a painting of a golden hart declaring the building as The Golden Hart Inn. There were many people coming and going, and inside we could hear the sounds of music and good cheer. Farther to the south we could see the arts district with the grand performance hall towering above it all. This area seemed more bohemian, with a mix of wealthier citizens from West Haven and seedier ones from South Haven. All along to the north were various shops and people shopping and delivering packages. To the southwest was a dingier industrial area, it appeared to be some sort of warehouse district.

Continuing to the west the crowds got heavier and the Ruby Guard presence increased. We passed the Consortium branch office, the head of the Consortium in Haven, which was mostly composed of large nondescript buildings. There were a lot of goods going in and out of these structures, as well as people wearing orange rings. We also passed the Haven tax office, which was a musty old building with few visitors. We reached one of the West Haven bridges and found it to be fairly wide to accommodate the traffic, and arched to allow boats to pass underneath. The area was very chaotic and the bridge appeared to be a bottleneck on traffic. The auction house was also located nearby, it was a huge structure with columns in front. We could hear the sounds of the auctioneers coming from inside. There were more Ruby Guard in the area than we had typically seen, likely keeping an eye on the tax office and the auction house. To the north of this area were various homes of the wealthy citizens of West Haven.

After we crossed the bridge we started to see less of the Ruby Guard, but there was a stronger presence of Underdogs and Cold Steel. The area seemed to have been developed to support the various Syndicate members and had many armories, weapon smiths, and stables. We could see various bars in the area that were heavily populated with Syndicate members. As we approached the barracks we could sense a bit of uneasiness between the members of Cold Steel and the Underdogs. The Cold Steel barracks had a very defined and planned layout, almost military in style. There were many Cold Steel performing drills in front of the barracks. I got the impression that Cold Steel are very strict and organized, a sort of para-military group.

The western gate of Haven seemed more fortified and had a higher of concentration of Ruby Guard than the entrance we had used when we first reached the city. As we had reached the end of the courier’s route we headed back to the Trencher’s Rest and arrived around 4:30. We talked to Brelnas of our walk around West Haven and he mentioned how the Consortium has the marketplace locked down with their price fixing. He told us the Golden Hart is a busy establishment that was originally built by a hunter as a hunting lodge. He would throw large gatherings and invite other hunters in order to display his trophies. The current owner is the great-great-grandson of the founder, and now it mostly caters to wealthy clientele. For dinner we had a Shepard’s pie, a mug of ale, and some muscles from the lake. The inn was still much quieter than we were used to, due to the missing Underdogs. After we retired to our room I worked on an Acid Flask and then we went to bed.

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