Expeditionary dispatch 1: Zol, 4 Sypheros, 998 YK
From: Carnaby Goebb, Expedition Leader, Mournland Silvercloud Team
To: Professor Ingrim Jarell, Library of Korranberg
archival reference code 4923-A: delivered ink-on-vellum, encoded, scroll case seal intact, clockwork courier
Dear Professor Jarell:
I am pleased to report that we have assembled our party and penetrated the perimeter fog of the Mournland with minimal casualties. We rendezvoused in Vathiron with the House Orien river guide and House Deneith sellswords your institution graciously provided (please express my thanks again to Lady ir'Korran). Upon departure from Vathiron, we numbered ten in total -- the three principles of the Silvercloud Team, two Denieth guards, our guide Keleena, and four porters.
You spoke true regarding the elemental river skiff -- it is indeed a marvel! We were able to travel upriver at an astonishing rate of speed. Fascinating!
Unfortunately, we lost one of our porters the first hour in the fog. Terrible thing, really. Strapping lad, but he fell into an increasing panic as we progressed, and suddenly dived into the brackish water. Keleena restrained me from retrieving the boy initially, and just as well -- several hours later, we found his charred remains floating downriver. He must have gone ashore and somehow circled back across our path in his wild flight. My guess is that he was felled by a spellstorm*. Gantry thinks differently and believes the boy was deliberately placed for us to find. But then, Gantry is predisposed to dark paranoia. I should know, as I've been putting up with his wizardly conjectures for years.
By my reckoning, we've traveled approximately 10 miles into the interior from the last wisps of the fog shroud. Keleena moored the skiff and concealed it with additional protective wards from Gantry. So have we embarked on the overland portion of our journey.
The scope of the devastation is simply humbling. The land is blasted, the ground cracked and, in many places, fused into a hard, glasslike substance. What plant life we've observed is clearly mutated and apparently feeding off the twisted, arcane energies that remain. I've collected many soil and flora samples, per your request. No direct sighting of spellstorms yet, and no other living creatures whatsoever.
We have encountered several corpses along the road, however, and true to the tales, the dead do not rest in Old Cyre. Our roguish companion, Ashford, insisted on scavenging a bit. He returned with some Brelish epaulets and a very bad case of the nerves. He's a right devil with mechanical locks and traps but has no stomach for "the deadsies," as he calls them. The cadavers have not decomposed and are, in fact, still warm two years after they fell. A haunted place, this.
As we agreed, I shall try to relay this missive via clockwork courier. I can only hope your wards allow the poor beastie to navigate back through the fog shroud. Keleena has estimated four more days of travel before we reach the Cannith compound indicated on the map. I am confident we shall recover the item you require.
Yours Very Truly,
Carnaby Goebb, Expedition Leader, Mournland Silvercloud Team
* aka Living Spell, Eberron Campaign Setting, p. 293
Professor Ingrim Jarell, Library of Korranberg
Female gnome expert 6; CR 5; Small humanoid; HD 6d6; hp 21; Init +1; Speed 20 ft.; AC 12, touch 12, flat-footed 11; Base Atk +4; Grp -2; Atk +3 melee (1d3-2/19-20, dagger) or +6 ranged (1d3-2/19-20, dagger); SQ gnome traits, low-light vision; AL LN; SV Fort +2*, Ref +3*, Will +5*; Str 7, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 11.
Skills and Feats: Craft (alchemy) +8, Decipher Script +11, Diplomacy +2, Gather Information +2, Hide +5, Knowledge (arcana) +8, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +8, Knowledge (geography) +8, Knowledge (history) +14, Knowledge (local) +11, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +11, Listen +2, Search +4 (involving secret doors and compartments), Spellcraft +15, Use Magical Device +8 (+12 to decipher spells on scrolls); Magical Aptitude, Skill Focus (Decipher Script), Skill Focus (Knowledge [history]).
Languages: Common, Dwarven, Gnome, Riedran
Possessions: Dagger, scholar's outfit, keys to Library locked rooms, identification papers.
*Gnomes have a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against illusions.
Professor Jarell is a thin, bespectacled woman with severe facial features and a temperament to match. A brilliant scholar, she oversees most expeditionary projects sponsored by the Library of Karranberg's main campus. Her particular field of study is the history of magic in Khorvaire and Sarlona, and her knowledge in this area is matched only by her passion for acquiring historical artifacts for the library's private collection. Professor Jarell is very well-connected within Zilargo and is a great resource for information of all sorts. Anything she doesn't know offhand, she can find quickly in the Library's vast, extradimensional bookshelves.
Elemental river skiff: Only a handful of prototypes of this experimental watercraft exist in Khorvaire. A joint venture between House Cannith and artificers from Zilargo's Library of Korranberg, the elemental river skiff was designed to quickly and quietly transport small military strike teams in the Last War. The skiff is made from soarwood and powered by a Small water elemental bound into minute carvings along both sides of the craft. Elemental river skiffs were designed to be inconspicuous. They look to be nothing more than poorly-improvised river rafts of bound tree trunks. But they are actually quite sturdy -- the skiff can carry up to 10 Medium-size humanoids -- and very swift. A skiff can move 15 mph upriver against a moderate river current or 20 mph across a lake or other relatively still water. If moving with a river current, they travel 20 mph plus the speed of the current. In an attempt to make the craft stealthier, the Cannith artificers built some additional magic into the raft but were unable to perfect the process. As a result, there is a 10 percent cumulative chance per hour in use that the skiff itself will spontaneously cast obscuring mist or silence (caster level 10; each spell can only manifest once per day). It's possible that these defects could be magically repaired and controlled, at the discretion of the DM.
Clockwork courier: Another prototype from artificers at the Library of Korranberg, a clockwork courier operates in most respects as the warforged component Final Messenger (Eberron Campaign Setting, p. 269) with the following differences. A clockwork courier is larger and heavier, with a built in scroll case that can hold up to 10 sheets of paper or vellum. A courier also has an internal energy generator that gives it a practically unlimited charge and range. The courier retains the Final Messenger ability to relay spoken messages and images. It can store up to 50 words in a message and three images. In the current prototype, clockwork couriers cannot be implanted into warforged.
The courier's destination is hardwired into the construct and cannot be changed once established.
Clockwork courier: Fine construct; AC 26 (touch 26, flat-footed 26); 6 hp; Speed 60 feet (flying; perfect). Moderate transmutation, CL 11th; Craft Construct, animate objects, sending; price 8,000 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.