28 Eleint, 1479, Year of the Ageless One
The rain drenched the town of Daggerford, turning its walls and shop facades a darker shade of grey.
To Gomorrah, the town had always been home. Despite her infamous surname, she was accepted there. She even drew the attention of the ailing ruler of Daggerford, Duke Dresden Greatshout. With her reputation for gathering information, he had hired her to find out what she could about the Shadowblades, a ruthless group of assassins whose murderous rampage dated back even before the Spellplague struck Toril over a century ago.
What she found led her to travel east and seek out Zaachaeus De’Barronn and his brother Gaerd. They both lived in and ruled the town of Bear’s Head in the Western Sunset Vale. But before the Spellplague, Gomorrah learned that the two drow brothers had once lived in the Daggerford area, specifically somewhere in the Misty Forest. She suspected they may have had a secret hideout or hidden keep deep in the forest.
She also found information about an abandoned temple to a long dead god somewhere in the High Moor. She learned that the two drow brothers, along with others, had fought their way through the temple. Eventually, they met and fought Jericho Entreri, leader of the Shadowblades and the bastard son of the famous assassin, Artemis. Jericho was also Gomorrah’s great-grandfather, although it was well known that he sired many children during his forays across the Realms.
Everything Gomorrah knew about Jericho was only what she heard spoken about him in dark taverns and alleyways.
With the defeat of Jericho, it was widely believed the Shadowblades had disbanded and had fled to the four winds.
Or so it was thought.
Gomorrah also learned that after defeating Jericho, Zaachaeus and Gaerd had confronted and revealed the true identity of a black dragon named Nightwing who had taken on the guise of Duke Pwyll Greatshout’s trusted advisor. In an epic battle, which took place in the streets of Daggerford, the dragon was slain near the River Gate.
Gomorrah watched as Sgt. Carric dismounted and walked over to speak to another sergeant of the militia. Together the two walked over to examine the burnt remains on a wagon. Gomorrah couldn’t tell if the body was that of a human, elf, or half-elf so badly burned as it was.
Other members of the militia stood with weapons drawn and kept the crowd at a distance from the wagon and the burned-out building.
Gomorrah looked towards Gaerd who stood motionless next a mounted militiaman. Gaerd had pulled up his cowl when they entered Daggerford to avoid people gawking at him.
Gomorrah saw a commotion just beyond the wagon.
A cloaked man was jostling his way towards the two officers. After a short discussion, the man pulled back his cowl to reveal a human man with sharp features. The man then walked up to the burnt remains on the wagon and examined it. Moments later, the man spoke with the two officers again. The officers could be head thanking him as he walked back to his horse, mounted it and rode towards the direction of the Happy Cow tavern just a street away.
Carric walked back to the other soldiers and ordered them to return to the barracks while he and the others made their way to the Happy Cow Tavern.
Inside, the tavern looked like any other throughout the Realms. A human bartender kept busy behind the bar while two half-elven barmaids with ladened trays worked the straw-covered floor, hastily moving from table to table. Another woman, a strikingly voluptuous human, danced sensuously for the patrons enjoying their eveningfeast.
Gomorrah and Carric, who was now off-duty, took a seat at a vacant table near the bar, while Gaerd sat at the bar.
The cloaked man Gaerd saw earlier talk to Carric and the other sergeant was also sitting at the bar near him.
Gaerd turned to the bartender and pulled back his cowl. He greeted the surprised bartender.
The room fell silent.
“I see the place has not changed since I last drank here,” Gaerd announced loud enough for everyone to hear. He turned and looked across the tavern. “After my brother Zaachaeus and I helped Daggerford and its people in her time of need over a century ago, we raised a toast here in celebration.”
“You and your brother’s exploits are well known to us all,” the bartender said.
Gaerd dropped platinum coins on the bar and ordered a round of drinks for everyone who then gave the drow a rousing cheer of gratitude. He then ordered a meal for his companions and him.
While everyone drank heartily, Gomorrah walked over and sat next to a lone patron who sat near the tavern’s front door. She struck up a conversation with him, then a short time later walked back to rejoin the others including Gaerd who was enjoying a bowl of thick soup.
“The man I was talking to is one of my contacts in this town,” Gomorrah said. She picked up a table knife and cut a slice of sausage for herself. “He said he saw strangers enter the Coffer’s Secret, a curio shop across from where Council Member Yeris was found burnt to death at his home hours later.”
“Do you trust your contact’s information for its accuracy?” Carric asked. He glanced over to where Gomorrah’s contact was sitting, but the man was nowhere to be seen.
“I do,” Gomorrah said. “He said three cloaked people entered the shop which was suppose to be closed since its gnome proprietor is said to be traveling in the Western Heartlands.”
“We should look into this then,” Gaerd said. “The Council Member’s mysterious death, along with the strangers’ proximity to his home cannot merely be a coincidence.”
“I agree,” Carric said. “We were about to question the owner of the Coffer’s Secret after he opened his shop. However, before we could, we got word that he left Daggerford for business reasons. That was nearly three tendays ago.”
After finishing their meal, Gaerd, Carric, and Gomorrah left the tavern and walked across the street where The Coffer’s Secret stood.
Ivan who had been watching the three since he entered the Happy Cow, followed soon after but kept a safe distance.
They entered the curio shop and were greeted by four men and a woman seated behind a small table. The shop contained racks upon racks of items, mostly trinkets and common charms.
The woman was dressed in a lavish gown of dark velvet which did little to hide the myriads of tattoos, scarifications, and piercings which decorated her body. Her dark hair was tied in loose braids, while the men had elaborately shaved heads. Like the woman, the others had pallid skin, raven-black eyes, and markings over their exposed skins.
Unlike the woman, the men were armored in chainmail and armed with two katars each, dagger-like blades commonly found in the lands of eastern Faerûn.
Gaerd recognized them as shadar-kais, fey folks whose souls were poisoned by shadow. They were also known to pay homage to Kelemvor, god of death.
“We’re closed,” the woman said in an unwelcoming tone.
“The door was not locked,” Gaerd said.
“A mistake easily corrected. Now, if you’ll leave—”
“Our business here is not over,” Gaerd said. The others walked in behind him and started to fan out. The four shadar-kai warriors all raised their greatswords in a defensive manner. “I’m sure, this will just take a moment.”
The woman began to rise from her wooden chair. She turned to the others and ordered a command. “Kill them all!”
With a thought and a flick of his wrists, Gaerd’s weapons appeared in his hands. He leaped at the two nearest shader-kais warriors. One tried to deflect his blade only to have it pushed away with Gaerd’s sword. The drow quickly followed up by bringing his blade straight up, cutting the warrior’s arm deeply.
Not wasting another breath, Gaerd spun and sliced the warrior across his chest.
Bloodied, the warrior attacked Gaerd who easily parried the shader-kai’s blade.
Carric moved towards another warrior and stabbed at him with his short sword. The warrior blocked the sergeant’s blade and followed up with an attack of his own, slicing through Carric’s leather armor.
To Carric’s surprise, the warrior did something unexpected. Strands of shadows flowed out of the warrior’s katar and coiled around Carric and restrained him. Unable to move, Carric could only attack or defend himself against his deadly opponent.
Gommorah faced the fourth warrior, who suddenly vanished only to reappear behind her just outside the door. She turned and saw through the warrior, who stood insubstantial but visible to the fighter-rogue.
Gomorrah swung her blade only to have it pass through the warrior. It was like slicing through thick porridge. There was a slight resistance which caused some injury to the shadar-kai.
A magic missile struck the warrior.
Gomorrah spotted the same man she saw earlier talk to Carric and the other sergeant. She also recalled seeing him in The Happy Cow tavern. A raven was perched on his shoulder.
Moments later, the shader-kai became solid again. Furious at the new attacker’s audacity, it turned and rushed at Ivan Moonshade who barely blocked the warrior’s onslaught.
Gomorrah moved to flank the shadar-kai striking. She struck it through the back. With an agonizing scream, the warrior fell and died.
With a nod, Gomorrah thanked Ivan for helping in the fight.
By the time Ivan and Gomorrah entered the Coffer’s Secret, three shadar-kais lay dead on the shop’s floor. Carric was wounded and was busy bandaging his wounds.
Gaerd said the female shadar-kai vanished as soon as the fight started.
The group then carefully searched the shop and found a trapdoor in the shop’s storage room. After opening it, they found an iron ladder leading down into the sewers. Rather than investigate, everyone decided it would be best to let Carric recover first.
It was then that a group of town militiamen arrived at the shop. A dwarf with broad chest and square-set jaws entered the shop. Carric immediately recognized him as Sir Kindel Stronghart, the duke’s master at arms and commander of Daggerford’s militia. Carric knew full well the dwarf’s dislike for anyone who didn’t hail from Daggerford.
The dwarf’s disparaging glare towards the seated drow spoke volumes about how the master at arms was feeling at the moment.
“I heard there was a drow in Daggerford,” Sir Kindel spat. “I had to see it with my own eyes.”
“And you are…?” Gaerd asked. He shifted his boots on the small table he had propped them up on. He remained seated. He then took a small cloth he found and wiped a spot on his boot where shadar-kai blood threatened to stain it.
“His Grace’s master at arms,” Sir Kindel said with obvious disdain for Gaerd’s presence. “Your lack of respect, clearly demonstrated in how you do not rise to greet me, does not surprise me, drow. You know, I could have you thrown out of Daggerford…or worse.”
Gaerd looked at the dwarf for a few breaths but didn’t move. “I would like to see you try. And your lack of respect for someone who helped save this town speaks as much about you as well. If it weren’t for my brother and I, you wouldn’t be enjoying your auspicious position, nor would your Grace for that matter.”
From where Gaerd sat, he could see Sir Kindel turning red in anger who then turned to face Carric. “Sergeant, I want you to personally see to it that this drow never leaves your sight. I, for one, have not ruled him out as a possible suspect in the murders of the town’s Council of Guild members.”
Just then, the door opened. Another dwarf, this one much older but just as muscular entered. Gaerd immediately recognized him as Derval Ironeater, the town’s most skilled dwarven blacksmith. He recalled how he and Zaachaeus had conducted business at Derval’s shop many times during the course of their adventures in the Daggerford region.
Derval walked past Sir Kindel and took Gaerd’s hand and clasped his hands up to Gaerd’s wrist in the manner warriors greet one another. “I thought it was you I was hearin’ about all over town,” Derval said.
“It’s been some time, but it’s good to see you again old friend.” Gaerd said.
“How fares your brother?”
“He’s fine. Busy ruling the town of Bear’s Head in the Western Sunset Vale.”
“Good to hear he’s alive and well. And I can relate to how busy leading a town can be.”
Gaerd looked at him quizzically.
Carric stepped up next to the aged dwarven smith. “What Derval Ironeater means is that he’s the only unmasked member in the Council of Guilds, and as such openly leads the other exulted members.”
“Well, it seems my brother isn’t the only one who has risen in his station,” Geard said respectfully.
“Bah,” Derval said. “It’s not as glorious as you’d think, especially with the recent events.”
“Speaking of which,” Gaerd said. “Aren’t you worried about your own safety?”
Derval shrugged his shoulders. “If Moradin sees fit to bring me back home to his grand halls then so be it. But damn them to the Nine Hells if I’m going to be frightened into hiding under a rock like some gutless goblin.”
Sir Kindel coughed.
“Ah, Sir Kindel,” Derval said turning to face the master at arms. “I had forgotten you were there.”
Before Sir Kindel could speak, Derval cut him off. “It comforts me knowing that Gaerd here is helping solve this mystery of ours. A more brave and trustworthy drow you’ll never find in all of Toril. I expect that you’ll be giving him all the support he needs to help put a stop to these foul murders once and for all.”
“I’ve ordered Sergeant Carric to watch…er…I mean aid Gaerd in the investigation,” Sir Kindel said. “I’ve also ordered the gates closed until we find the killer or killers responsible. I’ve posted militiamen by the sewer’s river exit. No one is allowed to leave Daggerford. Archers have orders to shoot anyone trying.”
“Good to hear,” Derval said. “These precautions are unfortunate but necessary. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a meeting to attend to in the River Shining with the other members.”
“I will personally accompany you to the tavern,” Sir Kindel said.
“Good. You can then address the Council of Guilds as to the progress you’ve been making in this investigation. As you know, many folks in town are turning suspicious eyes towards His Grace. For centuries, it’s well known the dukes of Daggerford and the Council of Guilds have always been at odds over rulership of Daggerford and its commonwealth in matters of trade. If these murders are not stopped, I’m afraid there could be an uprising against His Grace that could plunge Daggerford into a bloody civil war.”
With that said, Derval Ironeater and Sir Kindel Stronghart, along with Carric who returned to the barracks to recover, left the shop.
While the militia helped clean up the shop of bodies, Gaerd, Ivan, and Gomorrah decided to remain at the shop to make sure no one entered through the trap door they had found.
There, they would wait until the next day when Sergeant Carric returned.
The adventure continues in “Underworld”.