In this latest dispatch, the anonymous benefactor called Kalistos -- sponsor of the previous Droamm Redstone undertaking -- once again recruits the mysterious envoy known as Iokaste to initiate a new expedition. The Xen'drik Blackwind series begins with a communiqué from Kalistos, requesting a rendezvous of adventurers in Stormreach.
Wir, 4 Sypheros, 998 YK
From: Kalistos, Xen'drik Blackwind Principle
To: Iokaste, Xen'drik Blackwind Envoy
archival reference code 5598-A: delivered ink-on-vellum, encoded; initial courier and method of transferal unknown
I thank you for your services in the Droamm affair(1) and am surpassingly pleased with the results. Your detailed reconnaissance of Droamm's southern city of Vralkek proved of great value to my clients in Flamekeep. As we agreed, I have collected my fee from the Thranes and in turn delivered your entitlement to our mutual friend in House Kundarak.
As to your concerns about the Dark Pack lycanthropes -- I caution you in this regard, Iokaste. Your commission was to secure this information and deliver it to me. You need not, and ought not, concern yourself with the ultimate destination and purpose of the map. A courier is unwise to be overly inquisitive about the parcel.
With that stated, I concede that you are, of course, much more than a courier, and that our relationship runs deeper. I can assure you that your fears are unfounded. The clients who purchased the Droamm lycanthrope map hail not from Thrane. In fact, these particular worthies hail not from Khorvaire at all. But that is a story for another time, my friend.
As for your third commission -- The Xen'drik map you acquired from the fire giant Gorodan did not pass from me to any outside interest at all. This item I desired for my own purposes. I did not inform you of this at the time, for your protection. Now that I have possession of the map, I find that circumstances have changed. Time is of the essence. Might I tempt you with another proposition?
I have verified this map's authenticity as a route into the territories of the Battalion of the Basalt Towers in Xen'drik. As you know, Gorodan was a former leader in the Battalion, since exiled to the barrens of Droamm. The current leaders of the Battalion, however, are in possession of an artifact from the Age of Giants -- one of great import and value. It is this item that I principally desire.
To that end, I have assembled a small team of representatives to journey to the territories of the Battalion in Xen'drik. These individuals -- trusted and puissant, each -- will rendezvous in a fortnight at The Chapterhouse(2) in Stormreach. This venue may seem obvious, but it is deliberate. In this matter, I believe it is best to hide in plain sight.
If you choose to attend the rendezvous, make yourself present in the Chapterhouse common room at dusk on Wir, 18 Sypheros. Your contact will be an elder human scholar -- Mentarion Palinostrum from Morgrave University. I believe you know him by reputation, if nothing else. He may be traveling under another name or in another guise. Regardless, he will be wearing conspicuously a silver brooch with my personal seal upon it. I have included here a similar brooch, which I request you also display at the rendezvous. He will know you, as per your standing request, only as Iokaste. Professor Palinostrum will introduce you to the others and provide further instructions
Also included here is a haversack with all the materials you will need for travel to Stormreach. I urge you to consider this proposition. The item I wish to acquire from the Xen'drik fire giants boasts a remarkable pedigree. It may prove to be of great import in regard to our mutual concern. I know that you share my suspicions about the Riedrans. It is my considered opinion that this item will shed a terrible and piercing light upon their shadowy agenda.
If I cannot appeal to your conscience, perhaps I can appeal to your good sense as a woman of fine aesthetic discrimination. In the haversack you'll find a small relic(3) from one of my previous Xen'drik expeditions. It seems of a fashion you would appreciate. I hope this will serve as your initial retainer.
Please advise quickly, by the usual channels.
(1) Please see Expeditionary Dispatch, Droamm Redstone Series 1
(2) The Chapterhouse (from Secrets of Xen'drik, p. 15)
The Chapterhouse (Area 10): A joint venture of House Phiarlan and House Ghallanda, this squat structure serves as tavern, hostel, and performance space. It provides inexpensive accommodations and some of the best entertainment the city has to offer. Of course, information can also be bought and sold at the Chapterhouse. With a successful DC 15 Knowledge (local) check, a character can find someone willing to talk about the latest expeditions into the interior, which ships are carrying the most mysterious cargo, or who among the locals has suddenly struck it rich (and how). The hostel almost always has rooms available at a decent price, the only drawback being that if you're staying at the Chapterhouse, you can be certain someone knows exactly what you're up to.
Bracers of the Hunter (from Secrets of Xen'drik, p. 145)
Powerful shamans and clerics of Vulkoor work together to create these scorpion-shell bracers to honor a clan's favored hunters. Although rare even among the drow tribes, a few pairs of these bracers have made their way into the hands of explorers, often through deadly combat with the chosen of Vulkoor.
These black bracers are made from the shell of a monstrous scorpion ritually sacrificed in honor of the drow deity Vulkoor. One side of the bracers is etched with prayers to Vulkoor. The other bears the image of a scorpion poised to strike.
- function automatically while worn;
- cause the wearer's skin and garb to take on the hues of the background environment, granting a +5 competence bonus on Hide checks;
- increase the wearer's reflexes, granting a +2 competence bonus on initiative checks;
- enhance the wearer's precision when making a sneak attack or sudden strike, and such attacks deal an additional 1d6 points of damage. This extra damage is granted only once, even if the wearer is making both a sneak attack and a sudden strike. If the wearer does not have the sudden strike or sneak attack ability, the bracers grant no additional benefit in combat;
- project an aura of moderate divination and transmutation and have a caster level of 7th;
- require in their construction Craft Wondrous Item, cat's grace, disguise self, inflict moderate wounds, 4,250 gp, 340 XP, 9 days;
- weigh 2 lbs;
- have a value of 8,500 gp.
About the Author
Glenn McDonald is a freelance writer and game designer in lovely Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He writes about games, film, technology, pop culture, shady characters, conflicted heroes, strange and terrible magic, and shadowy fantasy noir intrigue. Not all at the same time.