Zor, Eyre 19, 993 YK
The party soon ventured to Dragon Towers to speak with a few different Houses. Josephine and Ixen accompanied Hohenheim to House Cannith, where he tried to figure out why the dragonshard pieces he recovered wouldn’t have a magic aura anymore. Everyone he talked to seemed to believe that it was impossible to have a non-magical dragonshard, as the shards are physical representations of raw magical energy. After causing a bit of a commotion in one of the laboratories, he was asked to leave. On the way out, he swiped an unidentified potion. As he arrived in the lobby, a sickly-looking individual stumbled into the House Cannith complex. It was Nayan d’Cannith, the missing House member they had learned of at the city watch tower. It was apparent, however, that this man was missing his Dragonmark. He had no recollection of where he’d been, nor did he seem to realize that his mark was missing. House Jorasco medics rushed to the scene to take care of him.
Meanwhile, Rohagar and the others were at House Tharashk, seeing if their tracker, Maxis d’Velderan, had turned up any information on Kaziim. He indicated that he was able to gather information about his previous whereabouts and followed his trail. It appeared as though he had been abducted and taken down to Khyber’s Gate, at which point, he was unable to follow any further. He lost his trail in the twisting tunnels beneath the city. They thanked him and departed. Outside, they noticed a hooded individual, bearing an aberrant dragonmark, walking toward House Phiarlan. Suspicious, they began trailing the man. On the other side of Dragon Towers, Hohenheim and company left the building and began asking around to see if anyone knew who dropped Nayan d’Cannith off. They were told it was a shifter in a hooded cloak. They spotted a hooded figure across the way and met up with the others who were already following him.
They all arrived at House Phiarlan together, just a few moments after the individual entered the building. The shifter approached the desk and gave a letter to the secretary, which was then passed to an aide carrying mail to other offices. Hohenheim quickly sent a furtive filcher to retreive the letter. As he was doing so, the hooded figure reached inside his cloak and removed an Eberron dragonshard. Acting quickly, Siegfried cast a spell to hold him in place while Rohagar disarmed the man. House Deneith guards were quickly called and the man was apprehended and bound. After some close examination, it was obvious that the man was not in control of his body. He was unresponsive to stimuli and of little help to the investigators.
Hohenheim offered his help as part of House Cannith and the Deneith guards accepted and thanked him. Hohenheim studied the dragonshard, noting that its magical aura was weaker than he would have expected from a shard that size. He gave the shard back to the guards and the party quickly departed upon learning that both the city watch and a contingent of Deneith members were on their way. Once outside, and away from prying eyes, they read the letter that Hohenheim had swiped. It read:
“Deliver this message to the rest of the Houses:
Have you noticed any of your members going missing? Do you care for yours as we do ours? You didn’t care about Nayan d’Cannith, did you? Look what happened to him. This is your future. We will tear down the houses piece by piece.
We are coming for you.
Realizing that the Houses were in danger, they headed to the House Deneith enclave, where the Sentinel Marshals were heading up the investigation in conjunction with the Sharn City Watch. There, they met Lalia d’Deneith again. After producing the letter and offering their assistance, Lalia agreed to give them status as adjunct investigators and had temporary badges made for them. This gave them access to information and allowed them to be recognized as aiding in the investigation. They proceeded to read through the information that had already been collected. Josephine found a list of known House Tarkanan associates while the others looked for info on anyone who may have the necessary background or expertise to give or take dragonmarks from people. One name stood out: Dr. Rudolph von Aubrecker, an ex-Karrnathi scientist that had been tried for war crimes in Karrnath for his experimentation on dragonmarked individuals. He fled Karrnath before his capture and had made it to Breland before his trail went cold. Hohenheim also discovered that a rough sketch of his face was included in a document identifying him as a suspected changeling that may be involved. Hohenheim, followed by the others, left House Deneith as quickly as they could following this discovery.
Hohenheim remembered hearing Aubrecker’s name once before in the Societas Liber, so he made a quick stop in at House Cannith to see Dr. Jones. Rohagar followed him and wouldn’t let him speak alone. Despite Hohenheim’s attempts to get him to talk, Dr. Jones retained his cover, refusing to speak of, or even admit the existence of, the secret society. Finding no help there, they returned to the group. It was decided that they would venture down into Khyber’s Gate in search of House Tarkanan and Kaziim. Having already left their previous inn, they found a new one in the Adventurers Quarters. Gin lead them back down to Khyber’s Gate. They stopped in Shamukaar, where they asked Daask to set up a meeting with a House Tarkanan representative two days from then. Then, they returned to their inn and slept.
Far, Eyre 20, 993 YK
The next day, they returned to Khyber’s Gate. Rohagar used her Dragonmark to locate a kama, which led them to a weapons shop. Ekhaas was fairly certain that the small kama on display was Kaziim’s. The owner said that it was a new acquisition and that he got it from a weapons dealer named Brom. Josephine recognized the name as one of the known House Tarkanan members. Outside the shop, Hohenheim found a torn piece of Kaziim’s cloak with some of Fenn’s fur on it. Rohagar’s wolf, Susi, caught the scent and began following it. On the trail, the party noticed they were being tailed from the shadows. Hohenheim sent a furtive filcher to investigate and found a cloaked individual. Open trying to dig through its pockets, the figure noticed the filcher, and revealed itself as a dolgaunt, before destroying the homunculus. It fled further into the network of tunnels as the majority of the group ran toward it.
Hohenheim, on the other hand, bolted away from it. He ran in the direction that Susi had been going and quickly found himself in front of a small building with large, stone doors covered in a complex, circular rune that seemed to shift as he looked at it. Above the doors was an inscription in draconic that read “The Closed Circle”. The party returned, having lost the dolgaunt, in time to see Hohenheim attempt to open the doors, only to be blasted with a powerful arc of electricity from the rune. Susi seemed to smell Kaziim’s trail leading to the doors. Upon further examination, Hohenheim and Gin were able to disarm the trap on the door. They opened the door to find a dimly-lit, but empty, laboratory inside. A few sharp-eyed party members spotted something moving within the shadows that blanketed the ceiling. They soon discovered it was a humongous tentacled creature that was as wide as the room. Any item they threw up into the air was grabbed by a tentacle and pulled into a toothy maw. Hohenheim fed it the mystery potion he’d stolen from House Cannith, but this only seemed to make the creature faster.
Without entering, they began to fire on the beast, which then began a slow descent. The party retreated a little way from the building, only to watch as the tentacles began to curl and squeeze out of the doors. It reached out to grab the party, but the tentacle slammed into an invisible wall. They discovered a ring of runes surrounding the building that was keeping the creature trapped. The group devised a plan to try and teleport the creature outside the runes, in the hopes that the runes would prevent it from re-entering the building. Things did not go well. The beast snatched Hohenheim and Sigfried, who only barely managed to escape its clutches, while Josephine and Rohagar attacked its extremities, but only seemed to deal superficial damage to it. They retreated further away and the creature retracted its tentacles back into the building, once more taking position on the ceiling.
While they were standing away from the building, the cloaked dolgaunt from earlier attacked Hohenheim. The party quickly dispatched it. In its pocket, they found a piece of paper with a single symbol on it. They disposed of the body by feeding it to the creature in the Closed Circle building. To make sure that no one noticed they had broken in, they reshut the doors and the trap reactivated. Hohenheim figured out that the trap was keyed to another rune on the landing before the door. A password in three parts had to be provided at the same time. Doing so would disarm the electric trap and send a message to the beast within to not attack those entering the building. Disarming the trap also disarms the messaging system, however, meaning the beast will attack if they don’t provide the password normally.
Uncertain what to do about this, and clear that they needed the password to enter safely, the party decided to wait and meet with House Tarkanan. Ixen left a summoned raven waiting outside the Closed Circle building, in case anyone came by. Hohenheim and Sigfriend questioned some of the locals about the building. All they managed to gather was that the people who use the building are too well-dressed for Khyber’s Gate and that most residents of the slums instinctively avoid the building and its inhabitants. Once back at Shamukaar, the party waited out the night.
Sar, Eyre 21, 993 YK
Over night, Ixen saw a scene unfold at the Closed Circle through his raven’s eyes. A handful of short and stubby creatures, dragging clubs and communicating through quick, sharp squawks and grunts spread out through the area. After finding it clear, they signaled to the shadows. Floating mere inches off the ground came three dolguants in exquisite formal attire. They did not speak a word, but smiled ominously through a set of razor sharp teeth. As they reached the door, they made no noise or motions, only waited for a moment. The rune on the door flashed once and faded, then the doors parted and the dolgaunts levitated into the building with the doors shutting behind them. Unfortunately, Ixen’s latest binding had affected his mental state. He was now paranoid, believing there to be a secret organization out to get him and anyone could be a part of it. Believing this, he did not inform the rest of the party of what he had seen, for fear that they may be part of the conspiracy.
The group as a whole ventured down into the tavern and bought a round of drinks to wait the couple hours until their contact showed up. Two hours later, Lyssa entered Shamukaar with three individuals: a grey-haired halfling bearing an extensive aberrant dragonmark and his two human bodyguards with smaller marks visible. She introduced the man as Fileon, another name that Josephine recognized from the list of known Tarkanan members. The meeting didn’t last long once Fileon noticed Rohagar’s prominent dragonmark. He refused to deal with the Dragonmarked Houses or any of their associates. As he made to leave, an aberrant-marked dwarf entered the room. He had the arm of an ogre, far too large for his body, where his left arm should have been, a reptilian eyes with a smattering of scales around it, an elven ear, and a number of other skin types and appendages that didn’t seem to match. He whispered something to Fileon, handed him a note, and left. Fileon departed immediately after reading the note. The group waited a moment before Hohenheim summoned another furtive filcher and sent it to investigate. He heard the following conversation:
Fileon: What do you mean he didn’t make the meeting?
Brom: I mean no one ever showed. We don’t know what symbol we’re looking for in this drop.
Fileon: Shit. And they said this one was some sort of trained assassin. We could use him.
Brom: I agree. You think they’re reneging on the deal?
Fileon: I wouldn’t think so. The good doctor seems to be as invested in this as we are. I can’t say I know what those things he hangs around with are thinking but… doesn’t seem like them. Maybe someone is interfering with his business.
Brom: The Marshals?
Fileon: Maybe. [To rat] Zae, tell Thora we’ll look into it. I’ve got my own suspicions. [To Brom] Come on, let’s see if we can find The Gentlemen without the symbol.
Fileon: What is it, Brom?
Brom: Do we have to?
Fileon: We’ve business to conduct.
Brom: With them? They creep me out. They never talk. Just… smile. It ain’t right, man.
Fileon: Would you rather we try to find Thoon? I don’t think we’re getting in his place without the password and I don’t know that anyone but The Gentlemen know it.
Brom: Thoon? No. No. Let’s go find The Gentlemen. [As they depart] This business doesn’t feel right, Fileon. I don’t like this.
Fileon: Neither do I, Brom. But we’re making the Houses pay for their crimes. That’s what’s important here.
As they left, the furtive filcher stole the note from Fileon’s pocket, which read:
We were supposed to receive word from Dr. Aubrecker about the newest addition to our family, but the messenger didn’t arrive with the symbol for today’s drop. I will be trying to contact the doctor shortly. I don’t expect any treachery on his part, but we should be cautious nonetheless—someone may have interfered with his business.
With this information and Gin’s input, they deduced that the symbol they had found in the dolgaunt’s pocket was something used to indicate the location of a drop. Gangs and criminal organizations would often draw the symbol somewhere to tell another party where to meet. In order to find out more about Kaziim’s disappearance, and believing that the Tarkanan members would have a better idea of where to look for the symbol, the party decided to follow Fileon and Brom. While tailing the two, they noticed a number of rats that seemed to be watching them. The trail led them to a plain wooden door in one of the tunnel walls. They listened at the door and heard this conversation:
Mara: Are you sure they’re to blame?
Fileon: No. I’m not. But I’ve got this nagging feeling that they’re involved.
Brom: What do we do about ‘em?
Fileon: Nothing for now. We’ve got to find the symbol first.
Raven: Assuming they haven’t called it off.
Fileon: Yeah, assuming that.
Mara: The monocles?
Brom: I’m not wearing that again.
Fileon: You don’t have to. Raven will do it.
Fileon: Raven will do it.
Mara: Do we need to watch out for The Jackal?
Mara: Sorry… I wasn’t thinking.
Fileon: It shouldn’t be an issue. Raven’s been trying to follow his movements. Someone hired him to try and find one of our targets, but he lost us once we got down here. Shouldn’t be a problem.
Zae: [Raises Hand]
Fileon: Zae? …weapons.
The two groups conversed from opposite sides of the door for a little while. The party tried to get more information about Kaziim, but it didn’t seem to be getting them anywhere. All the while, a considerable amount of rats had begun to encircle everyone outside. Hohenheim figured out that one of the room’s occupants, which he suspected was a little girl, seemed to be in control of the rats and was able to use their senses. Josephine, frustrated with the lack of action, stepped up to the door and yanked it open. The Tarkanans, having had time to prepare, were ready for an assault. It was a difficult battle, but Ixen’s assassination of the little girl mid-battle seemed to be a turning point. Two of the remaining Tarkanans were taken out by a fireball conjured up by Hohenheim, while Mara and Fileon escaped. Brom’s head was severed from his body… but it was soon discovered that it had reattached itself and he was healing rapidly.
The party recovered a number of magic items, including one of the monocles the Tarkanans had been speaking of before the fight. Ixen tested out the monocle by placing it to one of his eyes, which resulted in him viewing a twisted, nightmarish version of reality. He took it all in stride and proceeded to return to Shamukaar, barricading himself in his room, as he believed that Susi was a multi-eyed creature from some distant, alien dimension that was chasing him. Rohagar followed Susi and Ixen, while the others prepared to head topside with the unconscious Brom and the two corpses. They attempted to speak with one of the corpses to obtain information, but the spell unfortunately failed.