Dark Lanterns Expore Xen’drik – The Search for Shade

While the last time we played, our characters were looking for a contact going by the name of Shade. He was also a Dark Lantern and would be able to provide local information.

As we weren’t sure where to find him we decided a local bar was probably as likely as any other place we looked. So off we went in search of some Gra’hk…er our contact Shade. The first place we came to was pretty seedy but since no one knew of Shade personally who’s to say he wasn’t a seedy person and wouldn’t be found amongst its patrons.

The bar, The Brazen Wench, was being tended by a 1/2-giant who gave us all the hairy-eyeball as soon as we entered his establishment. Upon sitting at the bar, to alleviate any tension with the barkeep we ask for suggestions on what would be good to drink, what the locals drink. He smiled broadly and offered up what he called Gra’hk, a brew especially liked by the 1/2-giant crowd. Both me and Vistra quickly, and without thinking down the brew in one sloppy gulp. Probably not something you want to do very often. We both, especially Vistra, managed to keep our liquor down which somewhat impressed the glass-jockey. He was a little more talkative and less suspicious after that. He introduced himself as Gorg. He said we were alright, for non-giants and went to tend on other patrons.

We describe Shade to him and ask if he has seen the guy. He replies that he hasn’t, so our journey continued. Our next stop was, upon a less impulsive suggestion, another fine establishment on the other side of town called The Chapter House. As we make our way through the streets you can see that Xen’drik really is a stew of races. Everything from massive ogres on the outskirts of town to 1/2 giants muddling their way through the streets, halflings, Dragonborn, human, even a few dark-skinned elven folk with white hair could be spotted. All the typical races rubbing shoulders with every other race without the slightest outburst based on antiquated ideals or racial rifts.

We enter in to a The Chapter House and were greeted by the personnel on hand, a halfling woman, who upon seeing our dress and party make-up paid about as much attention as she would a garment she was folding. When asked if we wanted something to drink, I immediately ask if they have any Gra’hk. This was met with derision and a sadness that swept across our inn-keeps face as she said she did in an exasperated tone. She plunked a small keg on the counter whereby I, being me – the mighty G’Croc, manage to down the whole keg full without managing to slop to much of it outside my enormous gawp. Her eyes grew big and asked if I had meant to drink the same amount that four grown 1/2 giants would normally drink? Without wanting to look the fool I promptly said yes I did…and then the world started to spin.

With a look of disgust, our diminutive innkeeper nodded her head to quite a large man standing in a corner. He introduced himself as Gaerth and said he was an associate of Shades and was also looking for him. He asked if he might accompany us as he was local and could help steer us clear of some of the problem areas. We reluctantly agreed wanting to know where he was coming from.

I was pretty much out of it for the rest of that encounter. I let more sober minds steer the conversation. When asked about Shade our barkeep said she had not seen him in some while but we might want to look at a couple of places around town. She said that in recent weeks Shade was becoming more and more paranoid and started spouting nonsense. We asked to search his room but came up empty. Our barkeep did mention that in some of his mad ramblings Shade had mentioned something about Blackreach, the ogre compound located just outside of town. Maybe this was the lead we were looking for. Without a moment to spare we hopped up and made our way to  the outskirts of town.

Once we had left The Chapter House he drew us all in close and says to us all in full seriousness, “When does the narwhal bacon?” We replied, “The narwhal bacons at midnight.” This was a pass code we use to identify members of the Dark Lanterns. Once we all knew we were apart of the same organization Gaerth told us he feared for Shades safety. He confirmed what the innkeeper said about his demeanor and thought haste was in order in finding Shade…before it was too late.

Something to mention, if you aren’t familiar with Eberron ogres, they are very big brutish types that easily Vistra’d my 6’8″ frame by several feet. Not all ogres are brutish however and as our curiosity was piqued by such a one leaving the camp with kegs under each arm, we decide to follow.

As we aren’t very good at being sneaky, we didn’t bother trying to hide and soon enough our would-be quarry turned around and waited for us to catch up.  “What is it that you want?” he asked? We lied and said we saw the kegs and wanted to party crash. He didn’t buy it even for a second.

Upon closer inspection he appeared to be some sort of puny by ogres standards, maybe the runt of the litter…and was a very light shade of blue. After our subterfuge was discovered and some very forward questions were asked and answered it was apparent that he was indeed not responsible for our friends disappearance. We took a chance and told him the truth. Our friend was missing and we were searching around some of the last places he was known to visit. At this our blue-hued friend (whose name turned out to be Tobm) said he could cast a ritual that could help us locate him…for a price. We agreed to his blackmail price of 350 gold. He cast the ritual on a necklace. As he finished the ritual the small medallion at the end of the necklace sprang forward and pointed. Our ogre-friend said that the necklace would show the way. Simply hold the necklace in one hand by its leather thong and it would point the way to our friend.

We quickly paid the ogre his fee of 350 gold for his trouble and were on our way. From what the barkeep at The Chapter House said about Shade he was rambling about, we were retracing his last steps. We went from one building to another and finally out past the ogre encampment and beyond the city-proper to who-knows-where.

As we soon left the sounds of the city proper behind, Tobm’s charmed necklace led us this way and that. Never stopping at any one place for very long, certainly not long enough to lead us to believe he was with any of the places he went past. It was like he was really drunk and paranoid all at the same time and his wonderings were erratic. Then all of a sudden they had purpose and started to head in a direction with single-minded purpose. We were closing in, we thought, and sped up our pursuit.

Innocent enough looking mounds right?...Wrong!

Innocent enough looking mounds right?…Wrong!

After a couple of miles we were rounding a bend in the round and much to our astonishment we saw large amounts of blood on the roadway in front of us. A fight, and a nasty one at that, had occurred here not to long ago. We surveyed to surroundings and lying off the road a bit were some mounds that appeared to be old warforged lying broken and ruined. Similar to the warforged that fought in the war but more antiquated than that. As we were stopping to inspect them they came to life, as it were, and started advancing on us.

Corpse Collector up close and in person

Corpse Collector up close and in person

Their forms were huge and hulking, carrying many weapons upon their bodies jutting out from all angles willy-nilly. We were dealing with Corpse Collectors, massive constructs with the sole purpose for their existence being to cleanup the battlefields of littered dead. What are the odds that these creatures are advancing on us in the menacing way they are just here to welcome us to their fair far-off land? Not good apparently as their shuffling had loosened some poor sod who must have come across them just previous to our arrival and was not quite dead laying impaled across the back of one of them.

The battle looked grim early on

The battle looked grim early on

It’s good to know where you stand with people, or in this case, mechanical semi-living construct types. We prepared for battle and took the fight to them. There were three of them and all looked fierce and horrible with their macabre outfit of metal spikes and blades sprouting from all across their bodies covered in gore from their last grisly encounter.

We were hoping this want how Shade met his end, on the business end of one of these warforged-gone-crazies. Once we were finished with them, we could verify for sure.

We close in on the final Corpse Collector

We close in on the final Corpse Collector

The battle was short but brutal and had we not the extra help from Gaerth, we may not have overcome the brutes.

Once the battle ended we rushed over to verify if the grisly remains stuck to the back of one of the warforged was in fact Shade. Much to our relief it wasn’t. We pulled out the necklace and continued on our journey.

The ruins as ew initially encountered them...empty...it seemed

The ruins as ew initially encountered them…empty…it seemed

After some period of walking we came across a small ruin, by giant standards, that we heard voices coming from. Since our new talisman was still pointing directly inside the ruin we made our way closer. It was apparent there was one voice raised above all else and another smaller voice. “If you don’t want to lose the other arm then tell me where to find it.” “I don’t know where it is.” “So be it.” At this exchange we charged forward heedless of the jeopardy we might face within the walls.

INITIATIVE!!!

We swarm the guards at the entrance of the keep

We swarm the guards at the entrance of the keep

We all roll and G’Crog gets to go first with a 30 I think the number was. Before I get to move forward our controller comrade Yddrio is able to move his speed if he is not first in the round (which is often). Nifty trick if you ask me. I move up and lambasted one of the guards that appear from within the walls to defend the inner sanctum. Soon the rest of us are able to join in against the two defenders. Pretty soon we are able to eliminate one guard and start maneuvering to get inside to help Yddrio and some poor soul having a very bad day we suspect is our contact Shade.

A sad picture of Yddrio working his mojo

A sad picture of Yddrio working his mojo

Yddrio, not a front line fighter, was able to stir up quite a bit of trouble from within as he was able to have one large defender hit another and slow their progress down. Soon I was in and moved past Yddrio to take the onslaught of 1/2 giant and owl-bear flesh bearing down on something to smash to pulp.

In short order the other guard was out of commission and Yddrio’s and my companions are able to fully engage the enemies within. It didn’t mean that it was not going to hurt until the odds were evened up a bit. Yddrio continued to work his magic and had one guard attack another effectively ensuring we weren’t getting attacked by it and also inflicting some damage along the way. It was pretty awesome to behold.

Yddrio presents an opportunity for the rest of the party to join the fight. G'Croc immediately gets surrounded

Yddrio presents an opportunity for the rest of the party to join the fight. G’Croc immediately gets surrounded

Soon after I was surrounded by 3 of the large creatures and started to get wailed upon, my companions joined in the fray and in short order we were gaining the upper hand. All things were going pretty well until we hear from one corner of the ruins from the loud boomy voice say, “Well, if you aren’t going to tell me what I want to know, what good are you?” followed by a terrible rending sound and a large splat sound that was all wet and meaty sounding.

Shades interrogator reveals himself

Shades interrogator reveals himself

We were finally met by another large person, possibly with ogre or giant blood in him for he was massive. It was too late for him to join the fray however for almost as soon as he did his cohorts started dropping like flies and soon we were all ganging up on him. It was a short and ugly fight with our side being victorious. Not without its cost however for we had found what was left of Shade splattered all over the back room. What remained of Shade was gathered up to take back with us. That will come next time.

More to come…

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