An Inconvenience Rightly Considered
The tale of Veiled Tangles, born Quaj but raised by a North Redding human clan, began very early in the spring in the North Redding. A ranger and a cleric, adherent to a Quaj god, Shevaresh, Veiled was tracking a quartet of orcs who had set up a temporary camp, awaiting the arrival of unknown, and apparently long overdue, visitors. Veiled ambushed and killed the orcs, and recovered from the body of one of them a parchment apparently torn from a journal; the page was contained a passage written in Shal and a pictogram of an eye. Veiled pocketed the page, and then lay in wait for whoever might be skulking about to parley with the vile orcs, with the plan of either doing them in as well, or capturing them.
The visitors proved to be a human Skalding, Sam Franklin, and his traveling companion, Shal scout Wynnder Darcy. The ranger caught them by surprise, and — despite Franklin’s efforts to use a greatsword that was clearly not his — captured them. Despite their protests that he was interfering with a Skalding on a mission of parley, Veiled took them prisoner and hauled them back to the Raging Bull Clan … where his chieftain — shocked by Veiled’s interference with a Skalding — promptly released the prisoners and directed Veiled to give the torn page to Sam.
Shamed, Veiled exiled himself and went orc huntin’ once more, trying to track down other members of the orc tribe that his first victims had belonged to. He found the tracks of a war-band heading north, laden down with loot, and human prisoners in tow. Another bit of derring-do, and Veiled found himself saddled with the prisoners, who told him that they were the sole survivors of Boynton, a village that lay at the very southern edge of the North Redding / northern edge of the East Redding.
Veiled agreed to see them delivered safely to Palderton (where each of them has relatives), the small East Redding town that lay at the northern end of a trade road running south to Tarrish on the coast. One of the prisoners, a teenaged girl named Rosine, said she had an uncle in Palderton, Crevan Arnaud, with some influence with the guard and Mayor. Veiled hoped to gain the assistance of the guard in Palderton to track down and finally wipe out the orc tribe that has caused so much trouble.
Tara, Jochim, Aureus, Brennik Wayson
Meanwhile, in Palderton, Crevan Arnaud arrived from a trip south on unspecified business to be greeted by his right-hand man, Claude Harrill. Claude updated Crevan on recent news. First, Crevan’s brother had been killed in Boynton, a fact which did not seem to trouble Crevan at all — in fact, Crevan seemed quite pleased. Second, there is a bit of potential trouble presented — a “job” that Crevan had agreed could be carried out in Palderton, a contract murder, has not been completed. For whatever reason, the killer hired for the job had instead become friends with the target. Now, the unnamed customers who wanted the killing carried out had placed a second contract on the reluctant assassin as well. Two of Crevan’s crew, a mage named Seril and a thief named Tallon, want to take the contract; Crevan agreed, but cautioned that they shouldn’t expected him to intervene on their behalf if anything went wrong — it wasn’t his business to take care of.
The two targets were sitting in the common room of the inn where Crevan lived (and which he owned). Tara Fabbri, the assassin, had joined up with and befriended her target, Aureus, and his friend, Jochim. Aureus and Jochim are junior mages from a small local chapterhouse of the Politi Order, and had recently decided to head south in search of fortune and game … or at least something more exciting than helping farmers and local tradesmen. Jochim is a farmer’s son made good. Aureus’s background was a little more complicated — he had been born into servitude in Sa’iph, but escaped in his early teens, changed his name, and eventually joined the Politi chapterhouse near Palderton. The party also included a fourth member, Brennik Wayson, a native of Torei, was also on his way back south.
The four hired on as guards for the first caravan carrying goods from the North Redding/ Palderton towards Tarrish. Seril (who had also studied at the same chapterhouse as Jochim and Aureus, but was several years ahead of them) and Tallon also hired on. A couple of weeks out, riders headed north warned the caravan master that Middle Redding archers had been harassing travelers/merchants, likely as part of the growing tension between the Middle Redding horse-clans and the Halveetian League. Tallon and Seril volunteered to ride far ahead and scout things out, with Aureus, Jochim, Tara and Brennik sticking closer to the caravan.
Our heroes eventually found themselves ambushed by Tallon and Seril, as well as some very confused “Middle Redding” bandits (who turned out not to be Middle Redding horsemen after all, despite being dressed like them). A flaming sphere and some stabby-stabby later, and Tallon and Seril found themselves trussed up and ready for delivery to a League-paid sheriff in Obber’s Mill, a town that lay less than halfway along the road between Palderton and Tarrish.
Mobley Oribarak is a dwerg (the high-falutin’ name for dwarves in these here parts) studying in a Politi chapterhouse in Sa’iph. His family is from Holberg in the far north, and has made its wealth in mining gems — and fostered influential contacts in Sa’iph by trading those gems with the Shal kingdom. Mobley was summoned to meet with his Dominto, Master Fediniccio, who told Mobley that a request had come for research assistance by an old acquaintance, another Dominti in Halveet.
Mobley took a ship to Halveet, accompanied only by his parrot familiar, Petey, and promptly reported to Dominti Alfeo Shal Bianchi at the Libraries of Halveet. Bianchi is old, physically frail, and paranoid — he was engaged in a search, that began in Sa’iph, for a book that went missing from Sa’iph long ago (stolen, with many other valuable items, by a servant of a past Sajeem) and that had eventually made its way to the Libraries in Halveet. But by the time Bianchi arrived in Halveet, it had gone missing again.
The book, the Dreamsong of Death’s Wish, is said to be nothing more than an old volume of very bad poetry written in Shal, but Bianchi thinks it is much more — something powerful, something deadly. Something that someone unknown wants for nefarious ends. Bianchi was convinced that the young half-Shal mage assigned to him by the Libraries, Ned Foster, was spying on him and could not be trusted. Foster, in turn, had no patience for the old man and was more than happy to let Mobley take over the thankless task of assisting Bianchi in researching what the Dreamsong is, where it came from, and where it might have gone.
The old man proved likable enough, despite his steadily worsening mental faculties as Mobley worked with him. Meticulous research through historical sources that mentioned the Dreamsong or people associated with it confirmed that strange things happened around it. Mobley also came to suspect that someone was going through their workpapers in the open room that had been given to them to use in the basement of the Libraries. Finally, he also realized that Bianchi was always weaker and less coherent after eating lunch … a lunch from the Library kitchens delivered to him each day by Ned Foster. Alchemical tests on one of the meals confirmed that the food was poisoned.
The pair are reluctant to accuse Ned Foster openly
- the young man is the half-Shal nephew of Lord Leonardo Shal Tamasi, a wealthy and powerful man from Malisis who holds a seat on the High Council. For the old man’s safety, and to throw any trouble makers off the trail, Mobley and Bianchi agreed that Bianchi should retire to his sickbed while Mobley made a point of grousing publicly about how crazy the old man was. Bianchi told Mobley that if the dwarf managed to uncover anything of interest, Mobley should ask for Daris Shal Giannore at the Libraries — she would know how to put the two of them back in touch.
With Bianchi stashed away, Mobley continued his research. Information from the official histories of Sa’iph (from a collection overseen by scholar Clea Shal Malaspina) told Mobley that the Dreamsong had once been loaned by a Sajeem to dwarves in Holberg who were having trouble expelling the Black Axe orcs from desirable tunnels. The text gave no explanation of how a book of poetry could help with such a problem, but apparently it did. Mobley next turned to histories regarding the Stamm, and was directed to a little-used collection overseen by Frances McCluskey. McCluskey told Mobley that the leading treatise on the Stamm wars — The Histories of the Stamm Wars — written centuries before by the Skalding and scholar Leith Thellin — had also recently been stolen from the Libraries. However, Thellin’s working papers were still available for his perusal.
In those papers, Mobley found an account of the destruction of the Black Axe orcs, how a song had awoken them from sleep, killed many of them, and then raised the dead to destroy the others.
Mobley went in search of Daris Giannore, and found her to be a member of the staff in the Security and Loss Prevention Department. He told Daris that he needed to speak with Bianchi; she asked whether Mobley thought the old man was mad (she clearly seemed to think he was). Mobley’s response was that the old man might indeed be crazy, but his paranoia was not completely baseless.
Aramille This PC is no longer active in the game; this summary is included because it overlaps with Mobley’s story.
The halfling Aramille, originally from the Fifth Redding, came to Halveet in the company of her friend, the half-Shal Skalding Finnella Arnaud. Finnella is a member of the Skaldings’ Hall in Halveet (the same Hall of which Leith Thellin was a member long ago) and a cousin of Crevan Arnaud. Finnella accompanied Aramille to the Vind Hall so the halfling could see if there were any job postings she would like to take.
While there, Finnella saw a posting for a reward offered by the Libraries for the recovery of three stolen books — the Dreamsong, Leith Thellin’s Histories of the Stamm Wars and an Atlas of the Ancient Lands. Finnella was outraged at the news of the loss of the Histories and stomped off to the Libraries to confront Ned Foster — an acquaintance who had pumped her for information about the Histories in the basements. Ned managed to cast an enchantment on Finnella and sent her away to complete some meaningless task that would take her far away from him.
Mobley overheard part of the confrontation, and eventually he, Aramille and Finnella get together to compare notes and work together. Along the way, Mobley and Aramille come across a shadowed figure searching the workroom used by Bianchi and Mobley and nearly kill him — only to learn that he is a young half-Shal teen, Theo, who identifies himself as Bianchi’s grandson and Daris’ half-brother. Not long after this, Aramille decided she would rather leave Halveet and ride off into the sunset.
Mobley later learned that Bianchi’s son had joined the household of Dembrosio Shal Antazos, the Sajeem’s L’Ambasciatore (or representative) to the High Council after leaving Daris’s mother when Daris was a child. Bianchi’s son had two half-Shal sons with a human segnato — or debt-bonded — owned by Antazos. Bianchi and Daris had scrimped and saved in the hopes of buying the two boys’ freedom; eventually, they were able to bring Theo to Halveet, but by then the older son, Seran, had made his own escape.
Various investigations and prying about turned up that Kardinal Wyn Youngman of the Temple of Hamal, leader of the Temple’s Storico, or historians, had inquired about the Histories. Further, Toinet Shal Antazos, Antazos’s daughter — had last requested the Atlas and the Histories. Mobley also found out that Antazos and Tamasi (Foster’s uncle) have substantial business dealings with each other.
Not long after, Mobley found Ned Foster dead in the workroom, clutching a piece of parchment addressed to Mobley himself but containing only a fading rune of the spell that killed him when Foster broke the seal.