Stratagem (part 2)


A tiny bird, perhaps a sparrow, twists and turns around gleaming brass towers, buildings of black volcanic glass and the stone-ruins from the Age of Demons of the city of Ka’rhashan.
It flies into a window of one of the brass towers and transforms, as it lands, into a female Half-Orc.

A studious dragonborn siting at a desk in the small room, Dusty tombs lining the many shelves, looks up from the manual in which he is recording various details… “My-my hasn’t it been centuries since one of the Gatekeepers visited.”

“Greetings Trothlorsvek. Yes it has been some time, however, unfortunately is it not with good news and time now is of the essence. Dimensional seals to the Kyber have been broken, two of our number within Q’Barra have fallen to the Depravation that now leaks from the portals. The locks for the seals have been stolen and a servant of an Overlord
has escaped. I cannot imagine a worse time for us. We need your assistance to find the locks and put them back into place…. And to destroy the devil. You have the weapons and implements I believe? "

The dragonborns’ mouth fell open… “Oh… Come… ah, we will speak with Khava Flamebrow. I believe she is preparing to investigate a number of disturbances to the south at the moment… they may … ah… be related”


“Nobles and Lords of Q’barra.
I don’t ask you to risk your own people in the battle that lies ahead. All I ask is that you untie my hands and let me assemble the armies of Reidra on these shores. Allow me to bring all the forces we need to cleanse this land, once and for all of the vermin that inhabit it. Together we will drive the scales into the ocean and give you the security you have always craved.”
- Tsucora Dreamblade, Emissary of Sarlona, Addressing the Lords of Newthrone in response to the massacre of forces en route from Newthrone to aid the siege of Whitecliff.


The Ghostwater Tribune reports…
A talented and popular girl of Madam Tavya’s is declared drunker than a boiled owl as she performed ‘parlour tricks’ to locals of the Dog. She is also reported by some to have sauntered off with sizable takings for an evenings work and promises to return for a encore show in the near future.
Protecting the Peace

Dear Blanco

I am sorry for the length of time between missives, but life has continued apace and I’ve barely had time to put quill to parchment.

It’s all been a bit weird in Ghostwater. We scared off a cloaker that had been planted in the town by the demon bitch, but in doing so we’ve allowed Trejib to come out of hiding. Did he thank us? Did he buggery, he grassed us up straight to that bitch Mishva and her stormborn crew. It seems that there is a schism amongst the dragonborn, and the flamebrow have been trying to keep the Mishva mob in check. I have a feeling we’ve upset the balance, but our concern was for Ghostwater, and not some stupid Dragonborn prophecy.

Brok managed to convince the Silver Flame missionary to get the hell out of town, but even so Tulip, our ranger halfling had to go back and disarm a bomb that was under his cart. It appears that a bunch of hobgoblins took offence to the proselytising of the Silver Flame, and they tried to off their exorcist. Again, we have no love for the Silver Flame or the hobgoblins; our action was to protect the town and to ensure that it wasn’t swarmed under by a bunch of Silver Flame types looking for revenge.

But this isn’t the worst of it. As we went after the hobgoblins (using our handily stolen airship), we found out that they’re creating warforged, to serve them and they’re purpose. Blanco, I won’t stand for it; we’re not tools to serve anyone and if the warforged there won’t listen to reason, then I will have to de-comission them, as much as it hurts me. I’ve not told the others yet, but once we’ve cleared down the area, I’m going to destroy the eldritch machine with one of these nice bombs that Hazzrack gave me. I’ve picked up the glaive he sold to the hobgoblins to take back for him; I’m hoping if I give it back he’ll help equip us further in the fight against anything that disrupts the peace in Ghostwater.

Hoping this missive finds you in good working order.


Don’t evil villains live in hidden fortresses in volcanoes? Oh, this is a FACTORY? And just a mountain? Okay, carry on...
Dear Nimbleweed and Ellykins Gulnackle,

Again with the flying off into the middle of the jungle! We’re headed for a mountain that apparently has got some abandoned warforged factory hidden inside, not the most sensible place to start a business if you ask me, but oh well. Turns out old Dwarfy Thorgrim is a natural pilot. He can control the elemental pretty well, although I don’t see why they wouldn’t let me have a go! Looks pretty easy really. It’s kind of a bumpy ride, but we’re actually getting some flying done. We’re following a map Brok got off that Sol fella from the Silver Flame that leads right to the factory, and Red’s internal Gyroscope. He found out a bunch of Hobgoblins had been blowing up mountainsides looking for this warforged factory for Mishva and he don’t seem all that happy about the whole thing!

We left Ghostwater behind us again, hopefully the place’ll be nice and safe while we’re off, but that dirty lizard Trejib went and called Mishva, telling her that we was in Ghostwater, so we had to leave sharpish, but Brok had us leave separately in different directions to throw off anyone trying to follow us. He’s pretty smart when it comes to them sort of things is old Brok. While we were back in Ghostwater though we got plenty done. We’d left Tulip and Thorgrim to keep an eye on our airship, but she came bursting into town all out of breath saying the ship had been attacked by a bunch of Hobgoblins. As we was figuring out just how to deal with all that, one of Tavya’s whores sidled up to us in the street saying Tav wants a word with me. Brok reminded me she might be of a mind to sell me out and cash in on the bounty, especially after the kerfuffle that went down last time. He agreed to come with me while Tulip went with Red for a paint touch-up. On the way though they all stopped at the mining store cause we overheard someone mention Hobgoblins or something. Nothing to do with us so I carried on to stake out Tavya’s place to make sure there was no bounty hunter type folk lying in wait. I snuck around the back of the building and looked in a window or two. Tell you what! Some of them girls can do stuff’ll make your eyes water! Anyway, Tav spotted me looking through her office window. She told me to come in, but wouldn’t let me climb through the window so I had to go back round through the front door past the new bouncer. I’ve seen him about the place, big black fella, Tohene or something. As I walked towards the door Brok caught up so we walked in together. Apparently Hobgoblins had been buying and selling stuff at that mining store, explosive stuff in particular. Turned out Tavya just wanted my services for her staff again so I told Brok I’d be fine if he wanted to go do his own thing cause I’d be busy for a while, so he went off to see that Silver Flame fella, Sol. I earned me a nice five gold pieces and her girls are all well-groomed again now.

We all met back at the Dog in a private room later on. We had a good old chat about who was worse Mishva and her lot, or the Silver Flame. Brok chucked his hammer against the wall after telling me to shoot it. Think he’s a little paranoid someone’ll be listening. Don’t know who he thought was there but that kind of upset the barmaid. Turns out, Brok said, our airship was supposed to pick up Sol, but seeing as it never did he’s leaving by wagon tomorrow. Brok showed us the maps Sol had given him and told us all about that factory place, and Red piped in with tales of Hobgoblins searching the place out. Wasn’t till we left the Dog that, that Flamebrow Dragonborn lieutenant told us what that sneaky sod Trejib had done! I pointed out that Tavya has a Lythander dragonmark and if anyone ought to be able to she could help us fly the airship properly, but the others disagreed, guess we didn’t have the time. Me and Red took the direct route out of town but we was waylaid by that damn scarecrow. It said Sol was in danger. That we should check out the wagon that comes to pick him up in the morning. I didn’t want to know, not like it was my problem or anything. Strawhead asked if I wanted to do the right thing! When have you ever known me to do the right thing!? I would have walked off without another thought, but the bugger did point out that if Sol died in Ghostwater the Silver Flame would destroy the town in revenge. Now I couldn’t be having that. Ghostwaters a nice place. I tried to convince Red to come back with me to post an anonymous warning under Sol’s door, but he made me stick to the plan and meet up with the others at camp in the jungle. As soon as we got there I explained what I’d heard. May have suggested I heard it from one of the whores and not a possessed scarecrow, but that’s just details really. Anyway, we sent Tulip back to town to check out this wagon cause she could travel quickest as some sort of little animal. She said there was a bomb on the wagon, and a Hobgoblin driving it! But she said it was all fine now cause she saved Mr Silver Flame from getting on and getting himself all blown up, so hopefully he’ll be a bit more careful now. At least until he’s well outside of Ghostwater, then I guess he can die where he likes.

Anyway, we’ve just arrived at the mountain, doesn’t look like a warforged factory from here. As soon as Thorgrim convinces the elemental to hold still long enough we’ll get off and see what we see I guess. What are the chances we find a load of crazy malfunctioning warforged just waiting to rip us to shreds!? At least we’ve got Big Red. He should be able to talk them out of it right?


Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more...
Dear Saul Lightman,

I tell you what, of all them top-class swanky taverns on Lakeside Boardwalk back in Passage we used to go to, I’ve not never felt better than sitting here in the Dog with my feet up. You’d love this place too. It’s a right dirty dive! And there’s nothing like a bit of people watching to take your mind off the throbbing blisters on your feet! Take the guy playing Pins in the corner. He don’t know that I’ve trimmed the feathers on his throwing pins. Just look at him. He can’t understand why they keep drifting to the left when he throws them. Ha! That’ll teach him to cheat against me. He took seven gold piece off me! He must have been cheating! And Brok, over at the bar looking all irritable and moody. No wonder everyone’s giving him plenty of space, apart from Nafez of course. And Kosmar! You could almost miss him in here. Maybe that’s the idea though, sat alone in that dark corner with a glass of water, well a glass of something that I guess passes for water round here. Big Red seems to be pacing the floor, don’t know what’s up with him but he’s found himself a cute little follower. There’s like a tiny rust-bucket of a warforged following him round. From the clicking, ticking, and metal-screeching noises I’d say the little thing was quite excited. Red: less so. I’m surprise he hasn’t stamped on the thing.

Oh, guess what. We’ve only gone and got a hold of our very own airship. Actually, does your work involve you still having dealings with House Lyrander? Maybe you could hook us up with the right paper work what says we own it proper? Also, talking of things you could do for me, I don’t think I paid my tab at the Pickled Barnacle before I left Passage. Would you mind? Thanks. Anyway, our airship. We had to outrun a dragon and some weird fly-lizard mutants, oh and I think there were a couple of flying monkeys too. I was too busy concentrating on keeping the ballast tanks erm, ballasted. Took me a while to figure out but I got the best of them taps and knobs, and kept us in the air. Brok was messing about with tying off lots of rope. I don’t know why. He did seem to be doing a good job whatever it was. Kos and Red just buggered off though! Lazy sods. Don’t know what they thought they were doing. Oh but someone did do a good job of patching up the big hole in the hull below decks. We had to leave the ship way outside Ghostwater in the jungle. The pilot wasn’t sure if there’d even be anywhere to anchor the ship in town and Brok said he didn’t want anyone knowing we had the thing at all, so we had to walk the rest of the way into town, but we did promise the pilot a few drinks for a job well done. Although I can’t see him now. Where the hell has he got to? I’m sure he’ll turn up soon.

I’ll tell you something else about this place, Ghostwater’s booming now. They must have struck big on the old Dragonshards. Too many people around now, and there’s always a few weird ones. We spotted one such nasty fella last night. He was so scrawny and disgusting he genuinely looked like a rotting corpse dragging a big sack full of body bits! Of course I wasn’t deterred, and showing no fear, I followed it with Brok and Kosmar trailing me. A small heavy box dropped out of the sack as the creature ran so I stopped to have a nose while Brok and Kos kept up the chase. I was just examining the swish looking straight razor that was in the box when Red catches up. Now I don’t reckon it’s made of silver but the blade looks crisp and shiny enough to be, but Red went all holy avenger on me snatching the razor off me declaring it to be some holy smiting weapon of ultimate sacred cleansing destruction… It looked like a toothpick with Red holding it. I think he realised how silly he looked too cause he soon handed it back without a word. Although when he did it magically fell into two razors in my hands. Very cool. If you push them together they melt into one and if you grip it just right and twist. Ta-daa! It becomes two! How cool is that!

Anyway, Brok pointed out the door where the creepy looking thing handed over his sack of toys to. The door was locked, but I made sure it wasn’t for long. I met a very nice fella in Korth up in Karrnath. He was part of a quaint little club run by some woman calling herself the Midwife, although I doubt very much she had any sort of medical training. He showed me a trick or two to make sure a locked door doesn’t mean you’re cornered so I put some of them to use and opened the door for Brok. He wasn’t as impressed as I was hoping. Turns out he didn’t want to just barge in blind, and it was very dark looking inside so I just closed it and locked it again. It was then that I spotted a scarecrow that I’d seen before. Now I know scarecrows are only there to scare, well, crows I guess, and they only look like they’re people but this one was alive I tell you. No one else believes me, but it talked at me and stuff. It told me we needed to find something that eats flies to deal with the whole fly monster thing. I’ve no idea where we’re supposed to find an aardvark in Ghostwater. We used to have a pig called Martha. Maybe Neegla can get us one? Anyway, when I turned back to tell the others about the insightful scarecrow they’d all buggered off. Hence us all now back in the Dog. Actually, maybe I need to tell them about the eating the flies idea. I might leave out the bit about getting the idea from a scarecrow this time though.

Something’s going on. Brok’s rounding up the others. He says we need to figure out what’s going on in that creepy building one way or the other. Something about speaking to the law in town, that Trejib knows more than meets the eye? Get him to tell us what he knows? Show what we’ve found out? You know it’s hard to listen and write at the same time. Now Brok’s telling me to put the quill dow—~

The Cannibal Hymn
One more shuffle of the deck before the hand is delt

Flying past a remains of a recent battle a small bird twists and plunges down to the jungle floor. It quickly transforms into the shape of a female half-orc with feathers becoming various totems and talismans of wood, bone and cloth that swing around her waist as she walks the battle field. The figure surveys the ruins around and the various bodies of human, elf, dwarf and mutated lizardfolk. It pays particular attention to the maggot infested carcass of a dragon whist mumbling a few words of prayer. The Half-Orc then leaps into the air and a small bird, no bigger than a sparrow, flies with all the speed it can muster towards Ka’rhashan.

Be careful what you wish for...
Dear Nimbleweed and Ellykins,

You know what, there’s some shrewd goings on round here. We got played again down there. That Vasquez woman turned out to be that evil demon witch thing that I thought Kos had blasted to pieces weeks ago! She’d been pushing us to do something about Marc and I was all for that. I’m kind of confused now though. All I know is he’s really dead now. I know cause I killed him. What I dreamt of way back as a lad. When I thought he’d died during the war I’d not given him another thought, but it all came flooding back when he turned up down in this lizard-filled jungle. I should feel a damn sight better than I do I reckon. I mean I think I’m glad he’s gone. And it was he’s own fault and all. I mean, let me just explain what went down.

We arrived at that obelisk thing and the crew somehow tied the airship off to it and we all clambered down the rope ladders. The Lieutenant was intending to show a bit of good will and stuff by releasing the lizard prisoners that were left on the airship but they all buggered off fleeing into the jungle away from the mutated fly-lizard thing we was supposed to be being all diplomatic with. They looked less happy to see him than they had been up in the bowels of the airship. Didn’t much matter that, cause the lieutenant was piss poor at negotiating, and even worse he got Big Red over to talk with the ugly lizard thing. Well a bit of gossip is all well and good when your tidying up some merchants curly bangs, but this was pretty boring so I’d left them to it while I found me some stairs to an underground temple. Didn’t get a chance to explore cause all hell broke loose. Think Vasquez, cause we still thought that’s who she was, went and shot the lizard when more of them turned up. Me, Brok, and Red hunkered down in the temple entrance before Brok went charging off into the jungle. The lizards had a weird mutant with them that Brok recognised as an old mate, Thadas or something. He didn’t look like much of a mate no more though, so me and Red wailed on him some before I pushed the wall over on a beefy black lizard thing. Kinda got Red with one or two little pebbles too. He wasn’t all that happy about that for some reason.

Kos was busy moaning about a pet hand or something being killed. I don’t know! But there was not many of our folks left by the end so Marc led us down the dark stairs, right into an ambush by some creepy wall-hugger things that tried to grab us. I might have nudged Marc towards one of them, but what can you do? After sorting them out we get off down a long narrow corridor. Marc, in his usual arrogant way managed to goad me into going first. Although I got to say that Dragonborn training they gave me way back when came in pretty handy. I kept my eyes peeled and found a conspicuous slab on the floor. I decided to call Marc over to show him just how good I was hoping he might approve and all, but he’d really been riling me right up so I kind of snapped a little bit. I told him to give me his shield which I slammed down as hard as I could on the trap-slab. Was hoping it’d get crushed or something, but instead we each got a poisoned dart in the thigh. Well Marc took a few darts, so I called Red over to fix Marc up. Last thing I needed was him blaming me for something else that wasn’t my fault! Instead of healing Marc, Red nuts him one, think big bro made some silly quip that Red didn’t appreciate – Ha!, and then he slings me on my arse on the trap-slab! Cue more darts flying into Marc and Red. When I dragged myself up and dusted myself off the pair of ‘em started giving me an earful! I’d had my fill of that crap so I sprinted across the trap-slab as fast as I could, stamping hard on the thing. I heard more darts spiking Marc and Red behind me, hopefully that showed them. I was clear across in some crypt looking dead end, with a bunch of sarcophaguses. Marc hung back while everyone else jumped over the trap. Turns out the sneaky bastard called Mishva using his magic ring. While he was doing that we checked out the tomb room we’d found ourselves in. There was a bit of a big old mural on the far wall. It was all dragon battles and violence with a definite representation of this crown that everyone’s after. There was an actual piece of the real thing stuck in the stone crown so without thinking I snatched it out the wall before Marc came in, but he must have spotted cause he sauntered right up and threatened me to make me hand it over. Red and Brok stepped up as usual to defend me. Can always rely on them two. Brok grabbed Marc and held him steady. It all happened so quick. Before any thinking I’d slit his throat. Was then that Vas showed who she really was with a proper evil witch laugh that made me look up from Marc’s body. She was going on about us lot being all destructive and stuff. She reckoned it was amusing how easily she’d manipulated us all. She’s a bit full of herself that one. Like everything was down to her. Right up till then there was nothing I’d thought of more than paying Marc back for my miserable childhood, but now we’re all calm and back on this airship maybe a gaping throat was a bit harsh. I mean he was always Ma and Pa’s favourite, arrogant bastard couldn’t do nothing wrong. Everything he did was just a calculated insult aimed at me. It’s come right down to this and I ought to feel like I won. I just feel kinda sick though. Pretty sure that’s the pilot’s fault, he’s definitely not steering this thing as well as he done before.

Anyway, that fake-Vas demon-witch would still be bending our ears right now if Kos hadn’t cut her off mid sentence again with that wand of his. She got well pissed off at not seeing that coming again before she up and vanished. Brok suggested stuffing Marc in one of the Sarcophagi when a thick stream of flies blasted out of the hole that crown piece was in. Brok did say there was something up with the wall moving before. We just had to leg it! We left Marc’s body lying there swarming with flies. We all were. I’m still covered in painful bites. When we got back out into the light there was a right old battle going down between the huge fly swarm and the dragonfolk that must have turned up after Marc called them. We all dashed past, chasing the dangling rope ladder of the airship as it drifted away. We all made it back aboard somehow, and now the pilot is taking us back to Ghostwater, away from this mess. He seems to know the way, actually he seems a whole lot more accommodating now. Like a different person. He even has a right old smile on his face. Well, it’s more of a strange grin really, but he can grin all he likes the lucky sod, he was the only living survivor on the airship when we got back on it. Wonder how he managed that.

Now Brok just came and interrupted me demanding one of the crown pieces. He says it’s safer if they’re separate. I started to argue with him but thought better of it. I trust the half-orc’s judgement I guess, and there aint no way I could stop him taking it if he wanted it anyhow.

Don’t know how long till we get to Ghostwater. Thought I’d have a nap, but I keep getting this image of Marc’s body swarming with all them flies. What’s up with that!? This aint the way I dreamt it’d be as a kid.



Damnit, that Demon bitch did it again. She manoeuvers us into a position, gets Kalle to kill his brother only to reveal herself as the puppetmaster pulling our strings. Can we not escape this madness?

If it’s not fighting lizardfolks who want to turn us into ugly mutants, it’s stupid breather humans asking me to “negotiate” for them. Or dropping walls on me, for that matter. Still, I showed Kalle the error of his ways – next time he might be a bit more careful, lest I throw him onto another trap.

To cap it all, the abomination half-orc actually thanked me for rescuing his ass – wonders will never cease. It was a good thing we did too; without his spear and his hammer it’d be just me having to battle everything. As much as he annoys me, the half-orc has a point – Mishva is a bitch, the silver flame are idiots and we’re stuck in the middle. However, the tide has now turned – we’re the ones in possession of two bits of that cursed crown – surely we can use this to our advantage?

Fuck it all. All I want to do is to get back to my chapel at Ghostwater, give a few blessings and forget all about dragons, dragonborn and crowns.

Chaos Released
Recent events in Q'barra

A Swarm Devil… released within an area thought to be between Whitecliff, Newthrone and the Hall of a Thousand Mirrors

A swarm devil forms when an angel is ordered to be torn asunder. The angel’s soul coalesces in the Nine Hells deep within the Khyber and becomes trapped in a mass of flies that buzz around the form of one of The Overlords. From there, a swarm devil moves to the stagnant pools that near connections from the Khyber to the Xoriat, where it begins to starve however it can never die. Over time, each swarm devil grows desperate and voracious as it awaits its Overlord master’s orders. When it is sent on an errand of death, a swarm devil is a zealous agent of the Overlords will, because the mission offers the creature a rare opportunity to fly free and feed.

The sky of Eberron is full of wonders. The Ring of Siberys stretches over the equator, its glittering stones standing out even in the light of day. Sages trace images of celestial dragon patterns of the stars. And twelve moons circle the planet, filling the night sky with color and light.

Mishva Stormborn cast a gaze to the night sky above Castle Garody and through he haze of a thousand camp fires below she noted Zarantyr, the storm moon, would soon be full. The troops, she noted, must start their march tomorrow and commence the assault of Whitecliff, with or without the crown.

You will have the crown, I believe your ‘heroes’ approach the birthing pool as we… Uuurge! Huh.. ah!!!

RAAAARRRRG! Within the blink of an eye Mishva had crossed the rom to the doorway opposite and had Delphi’s neck in her grasp suspended two feet above it’s normal position… never enter my thoughts without my permission again witch! she shouted. And then .. time froze… but just for Mishva

The room began to fill with pale white ragged scarecrows, forming solid shapes from thin wisps of smoke drifting into the window. The straw men… of various sizes… all happily danced about, pogo style, on their single sticks for a moment. And the they then began to lay their hands and heads or whatever else they could on Mishvas heavily muscled and armoured forearm.

Within the opening of the same eye Mishvas’ shaking arm still had a grip around Delphi’s neck but it was no longer firm nor was the neck above it’s normal position.

Tsaritsa…., please. Delphi croaked. You must know beyond any doubt I intend you no harm. My habits die hard. You have my apologies honoured Tsaritsa… it shall not happen again.

Arg.. far.. Mishva withdrew her hand, her arm was shaking for some reason. She returned to stare out at the sparkling sky.

Tacith has taken her leave Tsaritsa? Delphi enquired.

She has returned to Argonnesse and may be raising more forces for the coming battle. We will not fail Delphi. You understand, we cannot fail! Mishav’s eyes glazed over with brief images of the coming victory as she massaged her arm just for a moment. She then crossed the floor of the room to pour tea from a freshly delivered pot. So you are sure the circus will succeed in their mission? And what of the final piece of the crown?

I have no reason to doubt the success of our heroes in their mission. The mercenaries you sent with them in addition to the forces of Whitecliff should be able to resolve and problems that may be found in the area. Tell me , why this name… Temple of the.. ah.. ‘one eye’ ?

AH, yes, I made it up… Mishva replied. It was one of the stories of my childhood. A place that existed somewhere within the jungle. Your instructions were not very clear on why they were to go to that place. And they needed something

As yes, Delphi responded. Indeed our heroes have a certain defiance about them, they refuse to truckle and distrust any authority. I do not blame them considering their contact with authority and the effects of the Mournland on them. Delphi pause to sip tea. The mercenaries you sent with them… did you trust them?

Of course not, they are mercenaries, mostly from lands far from here. They each have their own agenda… but they will be loyal for as long as it takes. Marc will let us know when to fly.

Of course he will, of course. Delphi joined Mishva at the windows peering out the admire theRing of Siberys and the many dragon shapes that formed within. One mind among them disturbs me though. And the final piece.. yes I must mediate on that………


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