112 - DECIPHERING THE STONE

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112 - DECIPHERING THE STONE

Post  Admin on Sat Feb 05, 2011 12:21 am

Master Brevax negotiates with the Queen Ashkaan of the Undercity, and safe passage is granted for the expedition to return via the tunnels and caves to the surface. She was clearly suspicious when he reaffirmed that an elven artifact had been retrieved but Master Brevax reminded her that she wanted the elven taint removed from her domain and he was more than happy to oblige.

As the group nears the exit to the sewer tunnels, Master Brevax calls Aidan aside for a moment. He regards Aidan with a stern gaze and remarks “I've put my neck on the line for you young man so I do hope this little jaunt underground has been worth it. I will inform the Thirteen that our expedition has successfully retrieved the elven artifact as agreed – this 'Metal Chime of Athandor' - they might be curious in future for an update on this discovery. I will also inform them that servants of the Emerald Claw have been vanquished in the Undercity and warn them that a priest of the Dark Six and a minor noble from Karrnath was leading them … I'll say he was rather outspoken about his standing and simply warn them to be on the lookout for unfortunate repercussions. I think war is too strong a statement to make, but there may certainly be others who answer to the same master that could come looking for him.”

Aidan apologises for his abruptness regarding Baron Von-Claagen.

“I understand your concern in these matters but I don't want to tell the Thirteen about our suspicions regarding the bloodline of Vol having an influence here. In this case the Baron may have looked vampiric but we know that at least one of our cleric could not determine that undead were present. A servant of their kind, yes, but an actual vampire we cannot be certain,” Master Brevax informs him.

… Aidan expresses his concerns and warns that two of the Thirteen may be involved, another Zanarkand may be emerging.

Master Brevax furrows his brow with deep concern and says “Those are are higher political matters that are best left to politicians and other watchful groups to scrutinse. If this is indeed unfolding then in due course the secret will surely out. I am merely an old professor and will also keep a watchful eye, but have no desire to choose sides nor do anything that might affect my current station. I was simply tasked by the Thirteen to attend and report what I have observed. While I am telling them most of what I have seen, you can trust my discretion about the item we have uncovered … for instance I could clearly see it is not an elven artifact. It is shard of a type I have never heard of before. But equally I know not to ask more of that. I will leave the mystery as it stands so that if anyone in the Thirteen chooses to interrogate me then the full truth can never be known.”

Aidan nods in understanding and elects to say nothing more on this.

Under cover of darkness, improved invisibility and non-detection spells, the members of the expedition disperse and transit via the city streets to the Old Quarter safehouse. After debriefing and swearing to secrecy of the find, Ahlissa's crew remain and assist with delivering the dragonshard to the Aereni Embassy.

On arrival, the Elven Ambassador (Aren Shivaleth) greets them and leads them deep below the tower. “These chambers are shielded from prying eyes and spells,” he remarks. “Your discovery is likely to attract attention if word of it gets out. I can assure you it is well protected here, within our walls. Tell me, was this item difficult to obtain?”

One of Ahlissa's senior crew speaks in elven and explains how the expedition fared. He summarises the encounter with the medusa, self-styled Queen of the undercity and reveals the group the expedition encountered were soldiers of the Order of the Emerald Claw, led by a cleric of the Dark Six and a noble from Karrnath who may or may not have undead qualities. All were vanquished, the ambassador is told.

Aidan adds “I have spoken to Master Brevax and he will not report to the Thirteen our suspicions of the true nature of the Baron and he has determined the item is a new type of dragonshard but he will not report that either. What we have here is an incredible artifact … that now awaits its secrets to be uncovered.”

“That is good,” the ambassador replies. “Master Brevax can be trusted. He has undertaken studies into elvish items for us on occasion and we help him in return to further his knowledge with our history where there are gaps in what in he knows. Yes … the item you have retrieved does shows signs of enormous power. You may live within the embassy compoundand undertake your studies of the artifact, as you please. Your new companion is also welcome to stay here with us – her kind is rare – we welcome all Kalashtar with open arms and can offer new identity documentation and resettlement to Aerenal, if that is desired.”

Jillian nods appreciatively and confirms is interested in this option as she would like to distance herself from Reidran Inspired agents that might be searching for her. A new identity would be most gratefully received. However, she is also curious about the artifact and looks at Aidan. “Would you like for me to stay around? I am not a scholar nor a historian but can lend my assistance if that is required.”

Aidan nods excitedly and says “Sure, I'd like you to stay around.”

“Good, it's settled then, I'll accept a new identity and help you learn more about the artifact. That does sound kind of exciting. Plus I feel safe here, the first time for many months since I left my homeland.”

...

The Ambassador smiles and says “Then I shall leave you all your own company and that of my servants. They will show you to your private quarters and when you ready to begin your studies of the artifact simply call for my servants and they will escort down here. The artifact is very secure and you will be prefectly safe in our compound. It does not matter what grevienaces the various nations may have with one another, it is generally accepted and respected that each embassy in Gideon (and indeed any other city) is sovereign territory of the nation that is hosted on it. “



Aidan and Jillian are shown to their private quarters. Ahlissa's crew celebrate in a shared guest quarter facility of the expedition success.

Aidan writes a note to Ahlissa, concerning the brief discussion with Baron Von-Claagen during the encounter, which he hands to a crew member to give her when they return.

The crew departs and Aidan's is taken as instructed.

Aidan and Jillian are alone in the shared facility and it is late in the evening. “You performed well in your dangerous mission, Jillian muses. You did not seem afraid at all. Perhaps it is the Valenar blood that served you well. Tell me … when do you intend to begin your research?”

“Tomorrow.”

“Very well, I will see you in the morning. I wonder what we will discover ...”

The following morning, Aidan, Jillian and a team of elven scholars assemble and plan their approach to the studies.

Aidan spends 5 months researching and studying the dragonshard. During this time his tortured dreams subside but he notices that his obsession with the artifact continues to grow stronger.

On first approaching the dragonshard, Aidan immediately recognises that it is protected by many different wards and spells. The first being a magical lock effect that must be removed before full access to it's surface can occur. He also identifies that a permanent misdirection effect (which cannot be dispelled) is in effect, which prevents divinations. The elven clerical scholars are unable to divine it's origins.

In turn, Aidan bypasses the dragonshards defences - arcane lock, an enhanced sleep effect (he grows weary but shakes it off while other members of his team succumb to its effect), but he does fall victim to its Ray of Enfeeblement effect … Aidan touches the artifacts and feels weakened, immediately collapsing to the ground as his strength is sapped from his body. As he blacks out, he hears Jillian shouting and when he awakens, Jillian is there and he finds himself in a healing chamber, surrounded by bright light and beautful music. An elven healer approaches and asks “how are you feeling?” … "weak but better, thank you, the item sapped my strength when I touched it." Jillian looks very concerned and the healer holds out a blue crystal and says "hold this." Aidan does and he feel invigorated with his strength being fully restored.

“Are you ready to continue the examination of the artifact? It has been three days and everyone has grown worried for you?” Jillian asks him.

“Yes, let's continue, I feel better thanks to this healer.”

1. Returning to the chamber, Aidan learns from the scholars that the artifact has caused no further harm to anyone.

Aidan discovers:

- The information held within the shard is stored within “layers”

- Each layer must be identified, translated, deciphered and interpreted before the next can be studied

- Aidan reaches out to touch the artifact again, in a place where the elven language is most obvious. A brief orange glow. The dragonshard feels powerful and each time Aidan studies it, he feels it pulling a part of him towards it and he realises his taint is becoming active again, surging within him, making him feel uncomfortable and it is like his skin is constantly crawling. WILL 24. It is like the shard is calling him.

- There is also something unmistakably malevolent about the dragonshard … using his Dark Knowledge he gets through 3 – 4 layers over 7 days … there is intelligence within the item, parts of its inscriptions indicate it could be a vessel or a container for something but the contents are not described.

- After about a month, ten layers, chaotic mixof languages and symbols, another fragment, written in Draconic, suggests a location in the Demon Wastes could unlock more secrets if the dragonshard is taken there … name is not clear for the location.

- Aidan tries to not be obsessed and gets Jillian/others to dissuade him from that.

- After three months of study … a new language begins to emerge and there is a word that Aidan identifies as a key reference that is associated with the ancient tongue, which is a chaotic blend of elven, quori and draconic. The symbology of the language is very similar to the inscriptions he interpreted when he was in the ruins of the Star Haunt where he opened the hidden passage and released the corrupted guardian. The word of interest is “Umbragen” - he gets the scholars to research this word and gets them to contact the elven homeland to search for more information on this reference. Time passes … another month …

Jillian suggests leaving the compound completely to get a break from the obsession of the dragonshard … Aidan declines and says “we'll walk in the gardens instead, as the Observers might be out there.” They walk and talk and laugh and enjoy the sunshine and she informs him that Ahlissa is worried for him too. “It doesn't control me because I can do this,” he says. “I know there is life outside the closet and comfort of my books.” He writes Ahlissa a letter and promises to do so at least once a week to share his thoughts with her.

Who are the Umbragen?

According to the layer he has studied, the Umbragen are remnants of Le Shay settlers and they inhabited an ancient city named Qualtesh. That city was destroyed and sank into Khyber during an apocalyptic Siberys shard storm with the survivors forced to fend for themselves. They harnessed the dark energies of Khyber so that they might combat the shadow creatures, flying demons and knights of darkness that they encountered. It is said that some Umbragen prevailed and returned to the surface world, while the others remained in the ruins of their once proud city, surrounded by the perils of Kyber.

… “That is what the Le Shay did … to combat their enemies they had to take the enemies' power in order to prevail against them … hence the shard may not be evil but rather the result of a corrupted state. Or an extreme form of taint which would be considered evil.”

Aidan realises that the Umbragen that returned to the surface world may have in fact been the race that built the Star Haunt ruins he has already discovered. He thinks it to be highly probable that there is a direct link.

He explains to the scholars what we found and what the connection to the Sdtar Haunt is, so that they might undertstand the significance.

He is pleased with this new discovery … 2 weeks pass … Aidan writes to Ahlissa, takes outdoor walks, etc

Once he makes this knowledge discovery, Aidan begins having a new dream; he sees himself on the prow of an airship encapsulated by a mighty storm. The airship is forging a path across a barren landscape. He feels a connection to what he sees, almost a belonging. His dream always ends when he feels a hand grasping his shoulder and in his dream he is turning to see who has grabbed him when it ends. It is a recurring dream, every 2-3 days.

...

The elves say the study chambers will remain undisturbed so that the layers of script and symbols that have been assembled on the walls remain exactly as they have been deciphered.

...

After several more days it becomes clear that another layer will need to be unlocked and deciphered before any further progress can be made. Aidan attempts dispel magic … fails. The problem being that the dragonshard must be taken to a specific place in the demon wastes … the location is not identified by name … when the dispel fails, there is a burst of bright orange light and Aidan feels compelled to take the dragonshard to the Demon Wastes … he does not know that is where he must take it, but rather he just knows that he must take the dragonshard where it wants to go … but a point on the dragonshard begins glowing, will a dull illumination. The point is facing a north west direction.

Aidan tells everyone what he has experienced and what he must do … “it wants to go to the demon wastes,” Aidan informs them. “I think we need to have an audience with the Ambassador about this. I don't even think Ahlissa would want to go there.”

The scholars in the room look very afraid … message is sent to the Ambasador and he soon arrives in the secure chambers to see the item firsthand and discuss the matter.

The ambassador notes that it goes without saying, that moving the dragonshard would indeed be a risky venture as its aura would undoubtedly attract unwanted attention. But he agrees that the dragonshard could be secured aboard the Zephyr Breeze for further examination and study.

Ahlissa was also summoned.

Ahlissa advises that the central storage compartments can be strengthened physically and magically to ensure that the dragonshard is secured and made as non-detectable as possible. These preparations will take two days to complete, during which Aidan is free to gather whatever he needs for the new journey, if that is what he wishes to undertake.

“I don't want to put anyone in harm's way here but this device wants to go the Demon Wastes. In saying that, if we do go there, then I suggest we do perhaps get some Valenar who are expert in outdoor survival who can also offer extra protection.”

Ahlissa nods and agrees “I will have word sent to one of my captain's sister ships to have some Valenar sent to us. My ship can take a further 50 warriors on board, so their numbers would be welcome indeed.”

“This is only my observation from my own experience and from what I have undertsood with the dragonshard … it is evil yet like the Le Shay I became aware of and the Umbragen that this kept mentioning, they were people like us who had to fight to defend themselves using the evil or corrupt powers that the enemy was using. That does not make them evil and I think this item is similar in that if it wanted to destroy us then it could have done. There is an intelligence within the shard and there is something contained within the shard. What it is I do not know.”

“Then we have much to consider as we embark on this ques,” Ahlissa says. “I am only too proud to be of service as this artifact may provide us with the greatest clues of the origin of another ancient race. These Umbragen as you describe them, have never been documented in the elven libraries. That fact alone makes this mission hard to resist.”

“At Star Haunt I saw the surface survivors of the Umbragen and read their knowledge. They called themselves the Le Shat and they departed from this world. They looked mostly like us, only of more stocky build and more aggressive/dark natured.”

The ambassador nods in agreement and looks at Ahlissa and he says “Then good speed on your quest and I pray that the missing knowledge is uncovered when you reach your destination.”

The expedition will consist of Ahlissa and her crew, plus the valenar mercenaries when they arrive. The elven scholars will also be on board. Jillian is welcome to join, if she wants to. Aidan asks her to come along. “If it means I am free of the Inspired then I will gladly come, to see the world and enjoy some freedom, even if it is a dark place we intend to travel to. I will help where I can.”

Ahlissa will inform Aidan that the only people who know of the mission with the dragonshard on board are her people and the elven Ambassador; this includes her superiors at “The Glass Tower” whom she has informed because moving the Zephyr Breeze away from Gideon's region potentially deprives them of an asset should anything untoward happen in her absence. Should other interested parties enquire as to where the airship has been taken (The Seeker, for example) then the cover stories for its absence are “a routine training mission” and “long-reach business transactions for the elven nation and House Lyrandar”.


The Observers have been very active across Gideon City. They have been searching out any individual who has manifested symptoms of abberant dragonmarks, such as the use of unexpected power when such people have never done so before. It is said that those restrained are taken back to their citadel on one of the floating islands above the city.

50 Valenar arrive. A grey-robed, cowled and shrouded figure, representative from Shae Mordai is ushered on board separately and is escorted to a secure private room on the middle deck. Ahlissa remarks privately he wishes to observe the events that unfold, she speaks of him in respectful and reverant tones, recognising he is very important.




Ahlissa charts a course that will depart Gideon in a south-west direction, to leave the coast and cross the waters of Kraken Bay. She plans to circle the lower tip of Darguun which is a lawless land ruled by goblinoids and other monstrous humanoids, via the Straits of Sargon and Torlaac Bay. The airship's course will remain over water then head north for a one day stopover at Korranberg in Zilargo, which is a nation ruled by gnomes. It is also the location of Korranberg University and home to one of Khorvaire's most famous libraries.

From Zilargo the course plotted will take them overland through Breland, one of the Five Nations that prevailed during the Last War and from there the intention is to move north west into the Eldeen Reaches, which border the Shadowcrags and the Demon Wastes. This course is expected to take up to 3 months, assuming there are no interruptions along the way.
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