Assassins and Spies
The First Night
The revelation confronting the party that Jeran, the
Marraq telepath, has had his shadow stolen rocks the confidence of the group.
The days victories and triumphs seem somehow hollow.
Worse still, Jeran's attempts to look into the Book
of Spirits are futile. The link between the shadow
and spirit begins to dawn on him as he is totally
unable to read the tome he has carried for so long. In disgust he hands
the book to Kerat, the Asharok.
Whilst Moshan and Karim discuss the implications of this
event news filters to them that there is some unusual activity in the citadel.
Jeran and his friends move into the grim night where
Moshan confirms the presence of many demons. It appears that there are many
winged horrors abroad and they are targeting random individuals. Instead
of a gruesome death these unfortunate individuals are hauled away for interrogation.
Jeran sends telepathic communications through his extensive telepathic network
to alert the inhabitants of the citadel what is happening. Moshan and Karim
decide to take more direct action and go in search of one of the winged
Moshan eases the demonic blade from its scabbard and
stalks the night. It is not long before he senses a demonic presence. His
Eldrych background affords him many unique powers
to deal with the presence of demons and he quickly 'binds' one of the demons
(Krulgin) into submission where he proceeds to gain information from it.
Meanwhile Jeran is surprised to find a mind brushing
his. He makes contact and it is Beremoth. The demon lord taunts the Marraq
regarding the disappearance of his shadow but Jeran
looks beyond the taunting, trying to gain information about the environment
surrounding Beremoth. To his amazement he picks the thoughts from the gloating
demon lord's periphery and he sees Kareel, the nimble thief and seeress,
apparently enjoying the demon's company. This, Jeran feels, is far more
interesting than trading insults with Beremoth and
he soon sees one of the unfortunate soldiers brought before the demon lord
for interrogation. Kareel offers to conduct the torture,
an idea which amuses Beremoth greatly but her administrations seem unusually
heavy-handed and the poor soldier dies under questioning. The Marraq closes
the mind link to the demon.
Moshan and Karim return to the palace to relay their
findings to Jeran - who reciprocates the process. Moshan senses something
unusual about the room they are in. It is a gnawing,
aching feeling that something is not quite right. Out of the corner of his
eye he spies a man whose race is not one of the five represented. A voice
in his head says 'Rosen'. Indeed the man, called
Lorlucan, is from the Northern Grayhawkian city. Moshan wonders how he would
know such a thing but the thought disappears when
Karim tells them that the young man possesses an unusual latent power. Karim's
sorcerous sense realises that this young Rosen is a profound and, as yet,
untrained sorcerer. Lorlucan is drawn to the ring worn by Moshan. The ring
was an heirloom but he tells the Eldrych that it is made from a rare and
unusual gemstone found only in the mountains around
Rosengrad - his home city. Lorlucan informs them that it is a Red Diamond.
Karim examines it and confirms the young man's findings,
adding that it has a peculiar ability to store magic. Moshan takes a long
look at the new arrival. A thousand questions lie unanswered and although
it goes against his better judgement he removes the
ring and hands it to Lorlucan.
At this point one of the chancellors runs into the palace
screaming: "Assassins! There are assassins everywhere!"
Anandar, the Ashandir killer, looks up from his many
vials of strange brews and bottles. Until this point he had been resting
from the exertions of the days battle. He straps
on the spiritual broadsword and grins. "This is my area I think."
With that he is gone. Jeran stretches out his mind. The information streaming
back from his telepaths indicates that many dark
robed killers of various types - Darklanders, Orcs and Elenorians - have
scaled the walls and are attempting to strike a decisive blow against
the important leaders and generals. Jeran and Karim remain in the palace
to direct operations against the dark assault whilst Moshan decides to leave
the citadel. Despite calls for constraint by his
chancellor Moshan ignores all the advice. He dons the dark robes of the
spy and moves out over the walls.
The next few hours are grim. Jeran and Karim pace the
palace awaiting news. Initially it seems that only several important leaders
have been killed, certainly not enough to affect
the overall command structure of their army. They begin to relax but Jeran
suddenly gasps. He has been keeping a constant telepathic link with Anandar
and the assassin suddenly howls a scream into his mind. Jeran quizzes his
friend and it becomes clear that Anandar is completely paralyzed. Ironically
Anandar's mind is not paralyzed and he recounts how
he has been rendered immobile by a seriously efficient poison. Indeed, in
a further shocking irony he realises that it is Gorgon,
his father, that has administered the drug. Gorgon throws his son over his
shoulder and says, "Come, my son, let us meet Cedron."
Jeran swears and reaches for his Darkbow. Karim is already
moving and the Darim swordsman tells Kerat and Lorlucan to arm themselves.
"We are going to rescue Anandar," he tells
them. Jeran is in constant communication with Anandar, who tells them in
great detail the route his father is taking. Soon they are out of the citadel,
beyond wall five and wading through the massed ranks
of Cedron's armies.
Moshan moves as though the night was his closest friend.
Any shadow becomes a welcome cloak he wears and covets. Orcs by the thousand
are unaware of his measured footsteps. Beyond the
orcs lie Darklanders - infantry and archers. Not even their exceptional
senses can detect the Eldrych as he breaks through the front line
with little effort. Beyond are the supply lines and rows of siege towers.
Frantic repairs and construction proceed as the Eldrych spy oozes through
their ranks. The enemy troops stretch for miles but
none hinder Moshan. The three camps are split - Beremoth and the demons
inhabit one part of the battlefield just as Cedron and Shadazaar
share separate enclaves.
Moshan finds himself moving towards a huge marquee with
the crest of a black dragon emblazoned across it. This can only belong to
Shadazaar. Curiosity, or perhaps belligerence, urges
him on to investigate the centre of operations. It is, for Moshan at least,
a simple thing to gain access to the huge tent. Generals come and go. They
give or receive information and disappear. Shadazaar
is surrounded by one hundred female bodyguards who lounge on huge cushions.
The leader of the Unmaker's army is an urbane, polite
man but there is no mistaking the pure power of his gaze and his presence
seems to fill every available space within the tent. Moshan moves closer,
in two minds whether to creep up behind the ancient dragonlord and slay
him but at the last second he simply steps into view. The one hundred bodyguards
react instantly but a raised hand from Shadazaar
stops them. A further casual wave dismisses them and Moshan and Shadazaar
They speak politely for some time. Shadazaar intimates
that Cedron is a madman and that Beremoth has an ego larger than the world
itself and for all the death of recent days Moshan
cannot help liking this man before him. After all they share something which
few men share - power over dragons. Shadazaar wishes Moshan well
in his quest for survival and Moshan departs into the night to head back
to the citadel that has become his home.
With Jeran in constant communication with the paralyzed
Anandar it is only a matter of time before he, Karim, Kerat and Lorlucan
close in on Gorgon, the stealer of Anandar. Although
deep behind enemy lines Jeran constructs a simple plan to ambush the man.
Karim, Kerat and Lorlucan leap from behind cover to attack Gorgon. The
assassin is quick to defend and although taking several minor wounds is
able to fend off the initial assault. It is all that Jeran requires, however,
as he puts an arrow into the traitor's throat. Kerat
and Lorlucan grab the body and the five men move back into the safety of
The dawn of the second day sees the hordes of orcs and
goblins crash once more against the strong walls. Anandar remains paralyzed
although Karim is certain that the effects of this
will wear off during the day. Jeran continues his telepathic monitoring
of the battle as the slaughter begins afresh.
News quickly filters through to the palace that thousands
of goblin skirmishers are currently trying to attack the tunnels beneath
the citadel. The Ashandir troops are holding firm
but Jeran, Moshan and Karim decide to take a closer look. Lorlucan descends
into the tunnels and is distinctly aware of a deep-rooted throbbing in his
head. He tells Karim of this and the sorcerer/warrior
informs him that there is something magical occurring. Lorlucan a piece
of rock in his hands - debris from an earlier battle
- and focuses his mind upon it. As his hand slowly closes around the rock
it's molecular structure changes and it 'melts' before their eyes, falling
to the ground and is instantly absorbed into the
Moshan urges further investigation. Lorlucan then places
a hand upon the rock. He becomes instantly aware that the citadel itself
is alive. It is not the sentience of humankind but
instead a more measured, patient presence. The young Rosen tells them that
he believes that this is the very place where Promethius - the all father
and creator of the universe - ordered the Laws of
Nature and created Time. Such was the profound impression that Promethius
had upon his environment that the citadel became
alive. Moreover, young Lorlucan seemed to share similar feelings of 'kinship'
towards this gargantuan sentience.
Lorlucan pushes against the walls of the tunnels. To
his amazement the walls give - as if made of water - and his entire being
slips into a spiritual domain that few men have ever
experienced. He feels the slow heartbeat of the citadel as he rests in its
bosom. Although not able to feel a physical presence he is aware that a
mere thought could transmit him instantly to any
point within the citadel. He returns to inform his companions of his findings.
They all stare at the young man with renewed respect.
Moshan decides that he and Jeran should have further
talks with Shadazaar - the sane face of the Unmakers hordes - as their need
to study the Dark Prophecy is becoming urgent. Karim
agrees to guard the still prone Anandar as the Eldrych spy and Marraq archer
move out to the battle. Their stealth guides them easily through some
of the quieter areas of the fighting and Moshan leads them towards a second
meeting with Shadazaar. Soon, two hours after noon, they enter the dragon
lords tent as if they were generals of the Unmakers
armies. Strangely they are not stopped and Shadazaar greets them with a
Moshan tells them of their plight and Shadazaar smiles.
"You wish to read the Dark Prophecy?" he says. "Of course..."
He hands them an ancient manuscript - a script which
holds the words of the darkest creature that ever lived....