After revealing the malpractice of a certain Veiled sculptor, the group decided to pursue other matters that promised a quick profit. This time, they are to disenchant a certain cursed dagger that was causing trouble in one of the templars’ residences. Most members of the group disliked the templar-wives of the king and did not want to help them, but such attitudes were dispelled by templar Leaza’s claim that the dagger was made of iron.
The fight with Marluc of the Veil destroyed Bjorn’s warhammer, though, so while the dwarf procured a replacement warhammer, the rest of the group decided to enjoy the festivities for awhile. Renegade ran into an elf with a peculiar game that involved ceramic cups. One of the three cups had a piece of valuable amber, and for only 5 ceramic pieces, they can try to guess which cup held the amber. Guessing the right one means the player keeps the semi-precious stone.
Three tries later, the halfling was broke and the elf had a wide grin on his face. Everybody knew the elf was cheating somehow, but they couldn’t figure out how. Cypher’s just about had enough, however, and was about to try out the game himself when he was stopped by a dwarf with old, leathery skin. “Don’t try to outrun the wind, and don’t try to outplay the elf. You’ll lose everytime.” The old man said.
The group quickly established that the elf and the dwarf knew each other but were definitely not on friendly terms. The elf shooed them away, claiming that they were blocking other potential customers, and they left in the company of the friendly old dwarf (although Cypher would later return to get swindled into buying some thieves’ tools at a high cost. To be fair, Cypher also swindled the elf with his shapechanging abilities). Introducing himself as Rigahz, the dwarf told the group that he was a scolar-slave of the Noble House of Kiaka, and that his mistress had allowed him to enjoy the festivities.
Bjorn rejoined the group just in time to hear Rigahz talk about himself, and he wisely asked the older dwarf what he knew about the house that contained the dagger (the dagger itself was ommitted). Rigahz then explains that the house itself belonged to an extinct noble house called the Family Jan. He remembered the family from his younger days, but he doesn’t recall how their power dwindled. Eventually, with no political or economic clout to shield themselves, House Jan fell prey to the templar-wives, who seized House Jan’s magnificent home for their own.
Thanking the dwarf for the information, the group decided that they knew enough to attempt to retrieve the dagger. Even with the festivities in full swing, a Nibenese templar, a no-nonsense shadow bride by the name of Jezka, guarded the entrance to the house. Allen tried to disarm Jezka through some clever use of the Mage Hand spell, but was caught by her in the process of attempting the spell. Recognizing the skill as arcane, she drew the obsidian sword that Allen was trying to rid from her side and proceeded to arrest the wizard. Some prepared to fight, but Cypher pointed out that Nibenese templars are no pushovers. Instead, the mutant used his shapechanging abilities to assume the form of Amare, the Tyrian ambassador.
Jezka voiced out her personal distaste at Tyr and its dead king, going as far as to spit on the ground at the mention of the faraway city. But Amare was the Tyrian ambassador, even if Cypher was really not Amare. After a few envenomed words, she left the group alone to “proceed with their business.” They ventured into the house to locate the dagger.
Immediately, they were beseeched by a horde of undead under the command of what appeared to be a giant viper. They fought of the foul creatures as the snake howled the words, “BRING HER BACK!!” Despite the ability to speak this one sentence, though, it seemed that the snake was unable to actually answer the group’s attempts to help. They instead destroyed the creature, releasing a wraith that had been possessing it. The wraith was invulnerable, however.
Art by Steve Argyle. Property of Wizards
of the Coast, used for the wraith of the D&D 4E MONSTER MANUAL. Used for nonprofit.
Visarion then tried to recall his undead lore, and correctly remembered that wraiths are connected to an object that was important to them in life. They searched the house, and eventually found the iron dagger. But it wasn’t wholly there – the other half was in the Grey. But as the curse in the item opened up a portal to that dreaded realm, the group decided to enter.
The Gray was a shapeless realm, but Bjorn found that there was enough tangible material there to be shaped by his mind. He sculpted stable footing that was patterned after his own home back in the world. Soon after they have stabilized, however, the wraith appeared again, this time flanked by phantom knights and accompanied by sneaky spectres. The fight commenced.
Being a realm devoid of life simply being in the Grey made it difficult for Allen and Visarion to cast their spells. Often they had to draw power from their own vitality just to use spells at an efficient level – otherwise it would just be a shadow of what they can do in the outside world. The wraith was a terrible opponent in its place of power, but it was at least vulnerable to their attacks.
Eventually Cypher wrenched the dagger from where the heart of the wraith should have been, and he was momentarily flooded with the dagger’s memories. He saw the dagger’s owner, Khirim-Jan, leading a Nibenese force against impossible odds in battle with Gulg’s Hunter-knights. He saw Khirim-Jan’s wife, trapped in Naggaramakam and forced to be wife to the king, receiving the dagger, all that remained of her husband. He saw the dagger plunging into the wife’s exposed breasts as she took her own life.
The group was pulled from the Gray, and Cypher held up his prize – a dagger fashioned from the iron of Tyr. Recognizing that they’ve had enough, they rested in their own homes amidst the joyful noise of the Starlight Pageant.
Before the oppresive sun even rose on the next day, the group was off on another quick cash scheme. Bjorn’s sponsor, Eddard of House Xenxa, asked the dwarf to take care of a certain antloid infestation that nests on one of his hot springs. For some cleanup work, they will get paid with a decent amount of ceramic pieces. The giant insects were not that hard to spot – they were nonchalantly stealing the abundance of food brought about by the festival. This should be easy enough.
But then, nothing’s ever easy on Athas.