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Date: Olarune the 6th, 998YK

Location: Off the coast of Sharn

Dawn broke over the bow of the good ship Springtime Belladonna, and Isstia knew this by the faint tingle of irritation that the sunlight gave her, even down in the cargo hold.

She had completed her exercise and training for the moment and was resting, keeping her breathing quiet enough that nothing short of a hound would hear it – and the Springtime Belladonna kept a ship’s cat instead, to deal with rats. The cat never hissed at her, but it never stuck around long enough for Isstia to get to know it well either. It, and Soluzek, were the only two faces she’d seen on her journey.

The secret knock at the wooden panels was given, and Soluzek herself made her way into the small stretch of the cargo hold that Isstia had carved out. The female elf wasn’t like her – Soluzek’s skin was pale and a little freckled, and her hair was red with black streaks. She had strange gods – something called the Undying Court – but she had recognized in Isstia a kindred spirit, and had kept her hidden and helped her on her quest.

Soluzek sat crosslegged on the floor. She pulled out a small package of jerky. “Here. It’s your favorite. I was saving it for today; it’s the big day. We’re going to be docking at Sharn by the end of the day.”

Isstia knew little of Sharn; she knew that it fed ships to and from Stormreach, the city of the pale strangers, and she knew that it was where her quarry had travelled. But what Soluzek had told her still seemed fantastical – buildings the size of small mountains, flying skiffs, people of all races pressed together. All roads led to Sharn, the saying went.

Including the roads travelled by the killers of her tribe, and the thieves of the holy totem of Vulkoor.

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Black Scorpion

Springtime Belladonna off the coast of Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Dawn

 

Isstia settled into the blessed darkness of her hiding place. With the rising of the cursed sun, she couldn’t safely roam out of the hold, get fresh air among the stars as she snuck onto the deck during the wee hours of the dog watch when the crew was skeletal and drowsy, unalert. A drow in the darkness was as visible as the wind, though she still avoided where she knew the crew held their posts and only occasionally went on deck when the confinement became unbearable.

 

But when the sun arose, she retreated back to the hold. It was an opportune time to trance, to allow herself some rest, though the thoughts of her vengeance on the beings that slaughtered her tribe plagued her. Just as she was beginning to slip into trance, the soft, familiar knock roused her. She tensed, readying herself, reaching for the pair of long knives on the weapons belt beside her.

 

In the sweltering heat of the hold, Isstia was naked, her ebony body still glistening from the sweat of her training routine. With a thought, she touched the Blessing of Vulkoor deep inside of herself. With the burning pain of venom in her blood, black ichor oozed from her pores. It coated her center mass, forming into a tight, blood red vest with a plunging neckline that left plenty of cleavage visible and a pair of simple canvas pants, clothing she’d seen favored by the sailors on deck. If there was trouble, another touch of her will would turn the Blessing from simple clothing into a hard, chitinous armor.

 

Moving deeper into the darkness of her little cave, she easily climbed up the wall, using the gift giving her by Vulkoor, ready to spring down should the safe passage knock be false. The sight of the strange, pale elfen woman, freckled and with red hair streaked with black, caused the drow to relax slightly. With a nearly silent hiss her knives returned to their sheaths and she dropped back to the floor.

 

“Soluzek,” Isstia said quietly, her voice rasping from disuse as her tongue worked the strange-sounding name. She put her knives to her side with the rest of her worldly possessions, mostly her weapons, and what little she could carry in a survival pack.

 

The shorter elf sat cross-legged on the floor. At 6’1”, Isstia towered over most drow. This outlander elf was still shorter than her, but taller than the typical drow. Isstia held a hand up in front of her eyes to shield them from the light of the lantern Soluzek had brought with her to light her way through the hold until the elf turned it down to a dim glow.

 

Isstia settled opposite the elf on the blanket, her long white hair silvery in the light. It was normally kept out of the way in a long braid, but she had combed it out for the night and so it floated freely down her back, fine as spider’s silk.

 

“Thank you,” Isstia said in the strange common tongue Soluzek had been teaching her. Isstia had picked it up rather quickly, thank Vulkoor, spending more time in Stormreach than she would have liked trying to communicate with the ship captains to board passage, a futile endeavor for a copperless drow, it turned out. She took the jerky from Soluzek and ate a few bites before putting it aside. “My stomach again,” she explained. She had been fighting a strange sickness ever since she got on the ship, her stomach seeming to move with each roll of the waves on which it moved. Isstia checked the proximity of the stolen bucket in the corner, just in case the sickness asserted itself more forcefully, as it often did after food. “You said Sharn is close,” the drow confirmed. No stranger to large buildings, since she dwelt in the ruins of giants, the elf’s stories still seemed implausible.

 

“This is good,” Isstia said, thoughts of bloody vengeance once more causing her emerald eyes to light up. “Soon I will be coated in their warm blood as I hang them by their entrails from the tallest point in your strange city,” she said with a wicked smile. “Let all in Sharn and Stormreach know what awaits them in the jungles of Xen’drik.”

Black Scorpion.jpg

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She nodded. "I won't stop you. After what they did..." She sighed. "Just make sure you get the right people."

"You've been picking up Common very well. I'm impressed. So what's your plan? Once we've docked, they're going to start unpacking the ship, and then they're likely as not to figure out you're on board.  So waiting until sundown might not be the best option..."

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Black Scorpion

Springtime Belladonna off the coast of Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Dawn

 

Isstia frowned. “I...do not have a plan,” she admitted. She was good at hiding, but with the whole crew in and out of the hold, it would likely be impossible. “Perhaps I should swim to shore?” she suggested. She was a strong swimmer, but she had never been in the ocean before, had never even seen it until she had arrived at Stormreach.

 

“You have been a good teacher,” Isstia said, pressing Soluzek’s hand with her own. “I thank you. The stories of my people about yours are not true in your case,” she said with a white smile in her ebony face.

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"I hope not, unless they're good ones." She thought for a long moment. "Swimming might work. Or since they'll be docking on the port side, you could hang off the starboard, where their attention won't be focused...

"So what exactly have you heard about us? Not the rest of mortalkind out there, but the other People - the elves?"

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Black Scorpion

Springtime Belladonna off the coast of Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Dawn

 

Isstia considered Soluzek’s suggestion. “Yes, hanging off the...starboard?...side would be safer,” she mused. She was still learning the strange terms of the ship. “Better than swimming for leagues.”

 

The white lines of Isstia’s tribal tattoos against her ebony skin glinted in the light of the cold flame lamp as she shifted. She tried a bit more of the jerky, found her stomach was a bit better, and drank some water.

 

“My people say yours are cowards,” Isstia said. “You started the rebellion against our giant masters millenia ago. And then you fled Xen’drik, leaving the drow to bear the burden of the giants’ fury, until the dragons came. And now you come back to our lands, to steal what is our birthright, what we won through hard-fought victory.” She raised a white eyebrow, almost daring the elf to deny her words.

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"So not that highly, then." Soluzek nodded. "A story we're told - that I don't believe - is that when the hero Aeren let the People to their new land, the drow refused to come, and many suspected that it was because the planes touched Aerenal differently than Xen'drik, and would require new traditions that not all wished to embrace.

"But all of that's lost to time. Even our oldest Deathless aren't that old. Anyways. I ask, because I'm going back to Stormreach. I have a church to manage, after all. But I know someone who will be able to help you better than I could. She's khorvar."

Isstia knew the word - it meant "half-elf," a product of an elf and a human's coupling.

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Black Scorpion

Springtime Belladonna off the coast of Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Dawn

 

Isstia’s lip curled at the mention of the mixed blood. “We do not often have such creatures among my people,” she said. “Their blood is thin and their connection to the spirits weakened. Why would one wish to lie with a human? He would be old and dead before your life together even began,” she wondered.  “And then you would be alone again…” The drow’s voice trailed off and she looked away into the darkness, to the spirit of her own murdered mate.

 

Isstia pushed aside the painful memory, storing it away to smoulder until she could fan the pain and anger into flame to burn her prey. “How would she help me? Is she also a hunter?” If this korvar could be of use in finding these outlanders, perhaps Isstia could put aside her contempt for the mongrel.

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"... in a manner of speaking. She's a scholar and an expert on the Age of Giants. She has connections within the community of other scholars and students of history; she may know where artifacts that are stolen from the people of Xen'Drik are being moved around the city. She's also not strictly truebred khorvar - she's the result of a mingling between a relative of mine and a human. She's family, so: try not to kill her, or insult her too much?"

There was movement abovedecks, and Soluzek looked upwards. "They'll be looking for me now. Whatever plan you have of getting into the city: good luck. I hope you find what you're looking for."

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Black Scorpion

Springtime Belladonna off the coast of Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Dawn

 

“I will not kill her unless she gives me reason,” Isstia promised. “What is her name and where may I find her?”

 

The dark elf looked up at the sounds of activity on the deck. She stood to move the crates aside and allow Soluzek to exit her little hole. She touched the elf’s arm. “I...thank you, Soluzek, for your aid in this journey. Perhaps I will see you again in the great hunting grounds.”

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"Hope not. I'm piss at hunting. As for where to find here, here."

Soluzek handed Isstia a map of Sharn, which came on multiple pages to denote the multiple levels of the city, and with a set of instructions on how to navigate to a place called the Sharn Museum of Antiquities. "Her name is Penda Hawn. She's not much in a fight but no one knows this world better than her. Good luck. And Isstia? Stormreach is nothing compared to Sharn. It's a rough town if you don't know where you're going. You look like you can handle yourself, but be careful, okay?"

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Black Scorpion

Sharn/Cliffside

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

“I have fought the great scorpions of Vulkoor,” Isstia said. “I can handle your outlanders,” the drow assured Soluzek. She stared at the maps. It was going to take her a while to decipher these. While she spoke Common well enough, her reading abilities weren’t as proficient. She had never had need to read before, but she did not want to feel embarrassed in front of her elf friend.

 

“I thank you for these.” She wrapped the map in some oilskin to protect it from the water in case she needed to swim and memorized the names Soluzek had said. Penda Hawn. Sharn Museum of Antiquities.

 

Isstia packed her things. She stood awkwardly and then extended her hand to Soluzek, clasping the elf’s forearm. “Then if you reach the hunting grounds first, wait for me. I will bring you through,” she promised.

 

With that, Isstia disappeared into the darkness of the hold, blending with the shadows.

 

The drow made her way up on deck. She hissed in pain as the bright sunlight hit her eyes. With a thought she formed thing black cloth over her eyes. She could still basically see, enough to get around, but it was going to hinder her if she ran across anyone, much less had to fight.

 

The deck was busy, everyone dashing around in preparation for making port. As Soluzek had suggested, Isstia slid over the side of the ship as they pulled into the dock, sliding silently into the water.

 

Isstia swam to the docks. There was space beneath, away from the hated sun, and there she waited in the shadows until the moons rose in the night sky before she slipped away into the lower streets of Cliffside.

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Eventually, sun gave up ground to the moons of Eberron, hanging in the sky and refracting moonlight through the ring of Siberys, visible moreso than usual for this time of year, looking like gemstones cast on velvet across the night sky.

She emerged from the water, and made her way into Sharn proper - a dizzying assault on the senses to rival that of the sun, even as she stuck to the shadows and the rooftops. There were peoples of all shapes and sizes, even moreso than in Stormreach. It didn't take her long to find her feet, however - the people here had their rituals and their ways of doing things, and within those rituals were the blindspots one came to expect of people - blindspots she slipped into easily.

They had music here, and foods, and even their own versions of murals - she passed one of one of the golem-people they called 'warforged,' only this one had wings. (The significance of the wings was lost on her.) She followed the map, and made her way to the Museum, and outside of it spied the halfbreed elf that bore a resemblance to Soluzek, on the front steps, turning the keys in the locks and clearing away a little windswept trash that had collected in at the steps of the building.

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Black Scorpion

Sharn/Cliffside

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia crouched in the shadows of a rooftop. People rarely looked up in this city, she noted. But then, with how high the towers rose, up was a long way, and often blocked. Her hood up hiding her features, cloak wrapped around her, she studied the half-elven figure below.

 

This person -- this Khorvar -- was supposed to be able to help her find the people that destroyed her people and plundered their sacred treasures. But Isstia’s first instinct with strangers was to watch and observe. The woman didn’t look dangerous.

 

Finally, as the half-elf turned to go down the steps, Isstia moved. Her cloak flapped in the air as she jumped down, a dark figure emerging from the dark night. She landed in a crouch, white tattoes burned into her ebony skin by scorpion venom the only color against the blackness, besides her green eyes.

 

“You are Penda Hawn.” It was not said as a question. “I require your aid.” Isstia straightened, her cloak falling back, revealing the weapons at her waist, her only possessions aside from the pack on her back given to her by Soluzek for what little provisions she could carry off the ship.

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Penda Hawn jumped a little in shock at the sight of Isstia, but regained her composure. "Well... well now. Howdy. You're the one Solly told me all 'bout then, huh? What do I call you, then?"

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Black Scorpion

Sharn/Cliffside

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Good. Soluzek had informed this one of her arrival.

 

“I am called Isstia,” the drow said, as if it were obvious. “Outlanders slaughtered my people and plundered our sacred relics. I am here to paint this city with their blood and feast upon their entrails,” she said matter-of-factly. “Soluzek told me you could help me find them.”

 

Isstia’s hand darted to her chain as there was a noise from a nearby alley, but it was just an inebriated young Human male with an equally intoxicated female companion. Isstia hissed in frustration at these unfamiliar surroundings and their strange ways.

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"Aright, Isstia. C'mon inside. I work late sometimes so they ain't gonna give me a lotta horsepucky if I'm there. I'll let you know what I got for ya." Penda turned around and starting working the keys to the lock. After a moment, the lock gave way, and she re-entered the museum, beckoning for Isstia to follow.

Inside was much more hospitable to Isstia's eyes, with so few torches lit, and she saw an eye-opening variety of exhibits and objects of art shrouded. There was an exhibit of a spiked chain similar to hers, though it was dated back to the hobgoblin empire; there was a long-inert aberrant dragonmark, etched on what looked like a cobblestone from the streets outside; there was a painting called Dwarf With Apple that was a dwarf holding an apple.

Penda's office wasn't far from the entrance. 

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Black Scorpion

Sharn/Cliffside

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia followed the Korvar inside, making sure her hood was pulled up. As they walked down the hall, she looked around strangely. It was not unlike some of the giant ruins her people lived in, though much smaller. She admired the spiked chain, wondering why it was displayed on the wall. She had no idea about the strange marking on the cobblestone. And why would one draw a picture of a dwarf holding an apple?

 

Then they were inside a smaller room and the door was closed behind her. Isstia tensed slightly, alert for any danger or ambush. It was hard to know what to look for. This wasn’t the jungle, where she knew how every leaf and vine should move.

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Penda took out a small sheet of parchement and dipped a quill in an inkwell, then started sketching. "All right. So: the Sharn Museum of Antiquities policy on artifacts from outside of the Five Nations is, ah, kinda a grey area. There's things in here that honestly should never have been brought here, from hundreds of years ago, that we're not even sure where to return them to.

But: it's a grey area that gets a whole lot less grey when dealing with peoples that are still alive, such as the drow. A few weeks back I was contacted by some dealers who were trading in that sort of thing. They were offering this..."

Penda then showed the drow a sketch of one of the sacred artifacts that was stolen - a small statuette of a drow drider-scorpion, that Isstia recognized instantly because of the missing portion of the left claw. "At least a few hundred years old, and they said 'there was plenty more where that came from.' Now, this was just after I got the send from Solly, so I decided to not say yes and not say no and could I have their contact information?

"They said yes, and their dealer frequents a tavern called the Shifty Whistle. Shifter bar. I dunno if they're still there. Do you want to go have a look?"

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia took the drawing and studied it. Her green eyes narrowed and she growled slightly. “This was on our altar,” she said, shoving the paper back at Penda. “Yes. I will find them at this Shifty Whistle. Where is this...tavern.” She frowned. “What is a shifter?” she asked, never having heard the term before.

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"Shifters are also known as weretouched. Bit of lycanthrope in their bloodlines from hundreds of years back. Look like a mashup between beasts and people. They're all right. Their art and artifacts tend to be pretty light, since they tend to pack pretty light. C'mon, I'll take you to the Shifty Whistle..."

She paused. "Ah, unless you wanna do this your way. I'm guessin' you maybe wanna be sneaky about this? There's a pretty good chance they'll bolt straight off if they see a drow lady comin'."

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia considered Penda’s words. She thought she had seen some of these “shifters” in Stormreach, but hadn’t known what they were. There had been so many different kinds of people there she hadn’t recognized.

 

Returning her attention to Penda, the drow warrior said, “It is good to know my people are feared even here,” she said, her bright grin splitting her dark face. “You may lead. I will follow in the shadows.”

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"Aright, follow me. Hopefully we'll get somewhere."

Penda walked, and Isstia followed from shadows and rooftops, switching between roof level and street level as suited her fancy. It took them about half an hour, during which the sights, sounds, and especially smells, of the city of Sharn filled her senses. Penda seemed apprehensive, but not especially so - more like the kind of person who got apprehensive when walking around at night.

Finally, they arrived at the bar. Penda hung back a little, letting Isstia join her in a nearby alleyway. "Okay, that's the bar. I'm going to head in and try to be - "

There was a shout, then a scream, then people started fleeing the bar.

"... discreet..." 

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia followed along the rooftops. She was apprehensive, as well, though mostly because this was an unfamiliar environment. But the hunter could still recognize another hunter, and once during the journey the black elf dropped behind a male human that was following Prenda. Her long knife quickly slit his throat and she let him bleed out in an alley as she returned to following the oblivious Khorvar to the tavern.

 

As Prenda spoke, Isstia surveyed the building. It was difficult to know what to expect when she couldn’t survey the area inside.

 

“If you need me, I will not be far,” Isstia told Prenda, and then the screaming started and people ran out of the tavern.

 

“This is not normal,” Isstia guessed, pushing Prenda behind her. She looked around for a window to see if she could see inside the tavern.

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Penda let herself be pushed - and didn't have much choice, given how strong Isstia was - and followed the drow's lead.

She saw that inside the tavern, a shifter had been stabbed twice by someone wreathed in shadows, shadows too thick for even her vision to see through, but she could tell that it was another elf - like her.

Beside her, Penda gasped. "Isstia! The shifter the assassin's stabbin', that's the contact! That's the dealer we need to talk to!"

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia growled in frustration. She couldn’t tell who this attacker was, but it was another elf. The blessing of Vulkoor flowed from Isstia’s skin, covering her body in hard, chitinous armor. Isstia unwrapped the adamantine spiked chain from around her waist and then dove through the window with a crash.

 

The drow rolled and came up, lashing out at the shadowy figure with the spiked chain, trying to wrap it around the assassin and yank the figure off of the shifter.

 

Chain attack and Improved Grapple DC 25: 1D20+10 = [17]+10 = 27

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Shadow Assassin Dodge Roll: 1D20+8 = [4]+8 = 12

Failed by 15; the assassin is Bound.

 

The assassin was yanked off their feet, pulled away from the bleeding shifter. They turned to Isstia, in surprise.

"... a drow? Here? They'll let in anyone, wont't they..."

The shadows cleared slightly and Isstia could see that it was a man, with one of those dragonmarks she'd heard around, some kind of magical shadow literally seeping out of the exposed portion.

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia’s eyes narrowed at the man as the shadows faded. She didn’t recognize the strange tattoo on his body that was creating the shadow, but her people felt tattoos were power, hence the white lines marked on her black skin.

 

“Yes, drow,” Isstia snarled in her simple common. “That shifter is mine. Why are you trying to kill him?” She tightened the chain, knowing he was defenseless, and pulled one of her knives in her other hand, pressing it to his throat. “Talk and you might leave here alive.”

 

Intimidation: 1D20+9 = [20]+9 = 29

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That's a success; the assassin is intimidated.

"I - I - we were hired through a third party! The instructions were left for us by a contact in Platinum Heights, there's a restaurant, the Grey Dragon, we were contacted there!"

"Isstia, he's badly wounded," interjected Penda. "We gotta get him to House Jorasco or he's gonna die. Closest one's a level up. ... can you climb?"

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

“Who should I ask for at this Platinum Heights?” Isstia asked. “Who would know the names and whereabouts of the people that hired you?”

 

Isstia looked over at Penda and their injured contact. “Yes, I can climb,” she said, “if you will lead me. I do not know this House Jorasco.”

 

Once Isstia had everything she needed from the assassin, she sliced her blades and took his head off. She took a moment to carve the symbol of her clan into his flesh before she sheathed her blades and wrapped her chain around her waist. Then she picked up the injured shifter.

 

“Show me the way,” Isstia told Penda. A bit of concentration created harnesses on her black suit for both the half-elf and the shifter.

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Penda saw Isstia cut the assassin's head off, turned pale, then threw up behind a counter. "Ugh. Ugh. Hang on, just... ugh."

Once Penda had composed herself, she helped herself into the harness. "Just climb for now. Then once you crest past the next set of walkways, hop onto 'em and you'll be on the set of streets that leads to the closest Jorasco."

Quote

KahlessNestor, an Athletics check will determine how quickly you get there, and in turn, what state the shifter is when you all arrive.

 

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia nodded to Prenda that she understood. She situated her two passengers in the harnesses and walked over to the wall. She didn’t pull out any climbing equipment, but simply placed her hands on the wall of the building. She flexed her hand, feeling the Blessing of Vulkoor clinging to the wall. With a leap she jumped up, her feet catching on the wall as well, and she started clambering up the wall with Prenda and the shifter.

 

Athletics: 1D20+15 = [18]+15 = 33

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Isstia climbed the wall with the speed that some might simply walk, and within minutes they'd found the next level. A few minutes after that, they'd found House Jorasco, and one of the halflings had immediately stabilized the shifter.

They took the shifter into intensive care, while Penda - with a little more color in her cheeks - waited outside with Isstia.

"You saved that man's life, y'know," she said to the drow. She paused, then: "Then again, you cut that fella's head off."

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia let the Blessing of Vulkoor recede back inside of her and pulled up the hood of her cloak, hiding her features from the Sharnian passesby as she stood outside of this strange House Jorasco and it’s small denizens. She shrugged at Penda’s words.

 

“The man has information I need,” Isstia said. “The other stood in my way. It was more efficient to kill him.” She looked back at the nearby door to the Jorasco house. “Why do you bother?” she asked. “Those people are a drain on your tribe’s resources. They should be given a knife so they can join their ancestors on the Hunting Grounds.”

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"I suppose you wouldn't know about this, but there was a war recently. It was so huge, everyone called it the Last War as a warnin'. Everyone had a part in it, even if they didn't fight. We all gave some, an' some gave all. That's why you see so many sick in there.

"Those people in there, a lot of them can be treated by the halflings, and their Mark of Healing - an' the fact that many halflings have that mark is how they contribute. But even if that wasn't so, abandonin' them - after they have given so much of what they got to give - is wrong. It's wrong. They may not be ready to fight, but in Breland - in Khorvaire, period - you don't have to fight to have value. You can work in a clinic like this. You can open a tavern. You can operate one of the sky coaches that let people around here fly between the towers.

"And even if you can't do that, or any of a hundred other things? They would be worth the effort, if for no other reason than because having them around to remind us - forcefully, if necessary - of the cost of war helps make sure we think twice before getting in another one. And that goes for everyone. Even if you never fought and came by being lame of leg some other way, you still are important. People matter - to me, anyways.

"It ain't a universal ideal, as you probably figured out, or else we wouldn't be at this building right now. But enough people believe in it, that this buildin' is here in the first place."

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

No, Isstia didn’t really understand Prenda’s words. “Among my people no warrior would wish to live like some of them,” she said. “If you are sick, yes, you are cared for because you might get better. But some we saw will not.” She nodded to the hospital. “And you would just end up getting someone else killed. The survival of the people is more important than any one warrior. We move to find food, to evade enemies and predators. We do not have...sky cars to carry those who cannot make their own way.”

 

The drow shook her head. “Your ways are strange. They make you weak. I have a lot to learn about this place,” she said with a sigh.

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"Yeah, you do. This city ain't nomadic - it's where it is 'cause it's located on a manifest zone, which is how they build the towers so tall an' have sky carriages in the first place. So we live differently. Not better - just differently. The world's a huge place an' you'll see a lot of places even weirder'n Sharn."

At a signalling from one of the Jorasco halflings, the two of them were informed that the shifter was taking visitors. After Penda settled up the tab, they proceeded.

The wounds had mostly closed, leaving nasty looking scars, and the shifter was still weak, but conscious. He rolled his head to look at Isstia. "I understand I have you to thank, for me being alive."

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

Isstia’s white smile shone out of her dark face at Prenda. “If you want weird, come back to Xen’drick with me,” she said. Then she grew morose again. What had she to return to back in the jungle? Her people were gone, slaughtered. Perhaps she could ask to join another tribe, but the other drow were notoriously insular. She would likely end up a slave or dead. Why should they take on an extra mouth to feed that wasn’t their own?

 

Isstia’s contemplations were interrupted by one of the little people again. They followed the halfling inside to the bedside of the shifter.

 

“You are alive because you are useful to me,” Isstia told the shifter when he thanked her. “Otherwise why would I care? I do not know you.”


Isstia caught Prenda’s disapproving look and grimaced. “You have information I need,” she said, looking back to the shifter. “I was told you knew of some thieves that had recently returned with plunder from Xen’drik. It would likely also help to know who attacked you and why they want you dead?”

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"Ah. Them. All right." The shifter looked at the ceiling, lost in thought.

"All right, so: introductions. I'm known as Silvertooth - " He grinned, showing why, as several of his teeth were replaced with silver fillings. "And I am a middleman for artifacts from Xen'Drix. I match up buyers with sellers, and vice versa.

"My job means I try not to ask too many questions about where they come from, but I have one hard rule: no magic. What happened was that I found out that a buyer that I'd been coordinating with through a third party was circumventing that rule by assembling artifacts that had little to no innate magical power on their own, but that combined, could be a different story. Besides being illegal... well. There are things on Xen'Drik you don't want mad at you. Such as - " He gestured vaguely towards Isstia.

"They caught wind that I was thinking of going to the Sharn city guard - I wasn't, but the rumor was enough for them to try and do me in. My name is mud in the grey market antiquities world now and the second I get out of this bed I am heading out of this rathole of a city. Xen'drik's not worth the trouble. Your people can keep it."

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Black Scorpion

Sharn

6 Olarune 998 YK/Night

 

“That’s all we’ve ever asked,” Isstia snorted. “Xen’drick belongs to the drow,” she said superiorly. “So do you have names for these people? Where I may find them?” the drow asked.

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