Expeditionary dispatch 2: Sul, 9 Sypheros, 998 YK
From: Carnaby Goebb, Expedition Leader, Mournland Silvercloud Team
To: Professor Ingrim Jarell, Library of Korranberg
archival reference code 4923-B: delivered ink-on-vellum, encoded, scroll case seal intact, clockwork courier
Dear Professor Jarell;
I regret to inform you that after five days of hard travel inland, we appear to be no closer to our destination of Ulieth's Valley, or the purported House Cannith compound therein, or the precious eldritch schematic your venerable institution so desires. As a point of fact, if we ever find the accursed valley, I expect peace in Droamm and snowballs in Fernia soon thereafter.
I'd heard the tales of the Mournland's chaos and insanity, but nothing prepared me for what we've encountered thus far. The pre-war maps provided by House Orien, as well as those issued by your institution, have proven utterly useless. Are you aware, good madam, that entire roads, cities, and bodies of water have been completely displaced within Old Cyre? For instance, just this morning we came across the ruined village of Autumnstead on the shore of Falls Lake. You can imagine our surprise -- by the reckoning of our guide Keleena, Autumnstead lies 200 miles to the north of our position and Falls Lake 300 miles to the east.
Nevertheless, we opted to explore what we could of the village in the hope of obtaining potable water and food. We still number nine, miraculously -- Gantry, Ashford, myself, Keleena, Keleena's three porters, and our two Denieth guards. Our supplies are running low, however, and we can scavenge nothing from the land. Vegetation is gnarled and inedible, and what small game animals we've spied are more likely to eat us, than us them. One curious phenomenon -- within Autumnstead (and elsewhere, previously) we encountered magical springs of water that manifest and disappear at random. Our miserable spelltosser Gantry, amidst his busy schedule of gloomy monologues, has managed to bottle and test several specimens. He reports that the water does indeed have healing properties -- except when it doesn't, in which case it's a deadly poison, and there's no way to discern between the two. Delightful!
By the Host, Ingrim, were it not for our mutual respect as businesspersons and my profound regard for the fury of your displeasure, I would have abandoned this expedition days ago. We are too few, too slow, and too conspicuous to be traveling openly in this blasted land. We camp here at Autumnstead tonight and proceed north tomorrow. Keleena believes she can plot a course by star reckoning and her elemental communes. Whatever strange magicks have rent this place, I fear we have only begun to experience its horrors.
Addendum: Expeditionary dispatch 2: Mol, 10 Sypheros, 998 YK
As I feared, last night we were accosted by the terrible spirits of this place. These wretched haunts, terrible and fierce in their violent grief, took the life of young Hollis, one of the Denieth guards. The spirits appeared in the gloom of twilight, five in total -- misty wraiths howling in anguish. They swarmed Hollis as he stood watch and brought him low before we had a chance to react. Their wails of sorrow seemed to take from Hollis any will to resist. He simply fell to the ground, only barely wounded, as they stole from him his very essence. I beheld the shades only as they flew away in retreat -- mere wisps of fog, nothing more than hellish visages and outstretched claws. Ashford and I loosed a volley of arrows to no avail.
Keleena tells us that these ghosts are known as Mourners , bitter wraiths of soldiers betrayed in the last days of the war. Tales suggest they wander the cracked lands of Old Cyre, taking their revenge on the quick and the innocent. We've assembled a cairn, but must leave the body of master Hollis behind. I fear for his soul. We journey north now, and I am dispatching this, our second clockwork courier . I trust we shall recover this schematic you seek, good professor, and can only hope it will be worth the price already paid and those costs yet to come.
Yours Very Truly,
Carnaby Goebb, Expedition Leader, Mournland Silvercloud Team
Similar to living spells, wandering fonts are pools of water that manifest randomly within the borders of the Mournland. There is a 10 percent chance of encountering a wandering font in any 10-mile-radius area. An encountered font has a 50% chance of possessing either healing or harming properties. Characters drinking from or immersing themselves in a healing font benefit as per the cure serious wounds spell, once per hour. Conversely, a harmful font deals damage as per the inflict serious wounds spell. Wandering fonts manifest for 1d4+1 hours before disappearing, and there is no known method for discerning between the two types. For more details, see Five Nations, p. 82.
Hit Dice: 4d12 (26 hp)
Speed: Fly 50 ft. (good) (10 squares)
Armor Class: 15 (+2 Dex, +3 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 13
Base Attack/Grapple: +2/+4
Attack: Claw +4 melee (1d6+2 plus 1d6 Wis)
Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Wail of anguish
Special Qualities: Aura of doom, damage reduction 5/magic
Saves: Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +6
Abilities: Str 14, Dex 15, Con -, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 15
Skills: Hide +9, Listen +9, Move Silently +9, Spot +9
Feats: Alertness, Iron Will
Environment: The Mournland
Organization: Solitary or haunt (2-5)
Challenge Rating: 3
Alignment: Always neutral
Advancement: 5-10 HD (Medium)
Level Adjustment: --
Mourners are the ghosts of Thrane soldiers betrayed in the Last War and evidently created in the cataclysm that formed the Mournland. For more details, see Five Nations, p. 90.
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.