Sunday, May 7, 2017

Trail of the Blacksnake, prologue

His boots were damp from the cold rain making puddles of filth in the streets.
His cloak struggled to keep him dry and warm against the cold wind funneled through the narrow alleys and the freezing rain it bombarded him with. No gale could keep the stench of civilization from smothering him like the fishermen's nets after carp in this dreary city's harbors; The City of Sails – last bastion of 'civilized' men in the North.

He passed between the two towers of the South Gate, known by Luskan's residents as the Twin Teeth. Fat city guards eyed him warily as he pressed against the stinking, cold wind into the marketplace. Most of the shops and vendors were closed at this hour, but the taverns were alight and and filled to the brim and overflowing into the muddy streets with all manners of carnal delights.

Men called him The Blacksnake. It was the Thorass Common translation of his given name, Morlyg. Like his Elvish namesake, he slithered into the darkness, the safety, of the alley ways; avoiding the drunken parade of the dregs of Luskans society.

He seemed to wander in circles, backtracking over his muddy footprints until he was sure he wasn't being followed by drunkards or cutpurses. His Elvish night vision sought out every shadow, moving or still, for sign of ambush; but there was none as he approached Shieldstar House. He made his way to the rear entrance and rapped three times, then a fourth, on the weather beaten door.

As the door opened, the warm glow from inside was darkened by the shape of the man he sought. Ironspur looked at the Elf with steely eyes that measured him from head to foot, until Morlyg pulled back his cloak to reveal the Harp shaped pin the large man had been seeking. His hardened gaze softened some, and he gestured for the Elf to enter.

“Sure took you long enough ...” Ironspur growled at Morlyg.

“I'm still getting used to the fine weather you have here in the North,” Morlyg smiled wryly back at him.

Ironspur wasted no time. He took Morlyg's cloak and hung it on a hook by the fireplace mantle and began explaining to him why he was summoned here.

“To the south there is a ruin known as The Sunless Citadel - used to be a Dragon Cult base of operations, but that was years ago. There's activity there again, but we're not sure who it is.”

He offered Morlyg a bowl of broth and mutton and continued.

“We need someone to investigate the ruins. Head south for Neverwinter and pose as an adventure seeker. Gather together a team and set out for high adventure and glory or whatever those fools seek. The trail is marked, but make no sign that you notice to your team. Return and give me a full analysis of what you find there … if any of your team distinguish themselves with potential, bring them here too.”

Without finishing his broth, Morlyg donned his cloak and, with a hand signal only known to Those Who Harp, set out into the dismal night, bound for Neverwinter ...