The Shadow of the Throne

The fourth volume
Dead Rabbits - Bits of Mirror - Large, Well-Framed, Smashed - Monologue - Doubles

The Fourth Volume
It takes time but soon you realize that the doors leading the forge are all locked from the outside, locking behind you as you progress deeper into the keep

Kryon

A band of orcs guard the doors entryway to the dungeon, each with a crudely skinned rabbit’s pelt hanging from the bolster of their spears. [local knowledge DC 10 informs you that this is the mercenary band ‘the dead rabbits’]

The man you see before you is slight, with thinning ash blonde hair and the asymmetrical arms of a sculptor. He wears a heavy leather apron and gloves, both singed in a dense patina. Over his eyes he wears an odd mask, with a glimmering square of black glass where his pupils should be

He whips off his mask, revealing skin beneath that is two shades whiter, and pale blue eyes.

can I help you?. if faisul wants a report tell him the furnace is still running. I’ll have plates poured next week

He walks over to a table laid with a rack of small dishes and begins rummaging trhough jars, after a moment he jerks his head at Landon and says

‘you my silverer?’

You stare, unsure what to say

He tosses a pinch of powder into the flame of a candle on his bench, and it bursts into a white ject that nearly reaches the ceiling. In the better light you can see a little of Arzst’s habbit of body: his clothes unwashed, his stockings undarned, and no attention paid to his hair. About the room lie plates and cups unwashed and forgotten.

[Perception 20 to notice that your party isn’t reflected in the mirror]
Across the entire back wall of the workshop is a very large mirror, showing the workshop, its tools and candles and Arzst at his table

‘Silverer, yes, Faisul’s working with one at the Miller’s Bridge site and he was supposed to send one here. Obviously you are not he.’

He returns to his work

‘Have you brought me the antimony and Egyptian blue?’

He turns away from his work, with a relaxed slouch onto the his bench he looks each of you up and down

‘you know’ he says ‘I don’t think that Faisul sent you here at all.’

‘Who did? You’re not in the assassin’s guild, they wouldn’t let me prattle on so.’ He sighs.

‘Did he tell you what you’d be destroying? If you were to find yourself at the birth of a litter of foxes, and one of the kits, have you seen kits? they’re not red as they are in adulthood, but grey. What if one kit, instead of grey was pure white, as white as snow, and its eyes the silver of mirrors? Would you kill it, for being different from the others? Would you wait for a moment, wait to see what such a creature could do?’

‘I will transform this world. The guild is a gang of fools and bullies. This glass here: I made it with nothing more than the skills the Guild gave me.’ he holds up a dark square pane just larger than a spread hand ‘and it shows the world faithfully, but it is the world of five minutes ago.’
Perception Check DC 20: His voice is out of sync with his lips, by the barest interval

‘For them I could have made Glass that couldn’t be broken with a hammer, glass through which sunlight streams every day of the year.’
He lifts a frame and sets it on the table.

‘In time all of Canus would have been transformed by glass that shows not a wobbling image of what is, but rather far away places, places lost to history, and a world yet to be.’
Perception check DC 10: His Voice Echoes Oddly
Perception Check DC 20: His voice is out of sync with his lips, by the barest interval
He reaches behind the framed pane of glass, and gazes upon what it reveals: the mans hand, but stripped of skin, flesh, and sinnew, looking like the hand of a skeleton.
‘And now I will play my new part, and change not the city but the world.’

Well I must say that I doubt we will meet again, but if we did, I shall think of you kindly as those who did not kill the silver-eyed kit!

As he raises his voice you realize he is standing a few feet behind you, and that you have been speaking all this time into a mirror, placed on a stand before the bench. Landon The illusion makes no sense as you consider it, There’s no way to sneak up behind someone with a mirror, unless, as you now realize, the standing mirror, and the mirror at the back of the workshop, don’t reflect any of you.

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The Second Volume
The Monastery - a body hung from the ankle - creatures - Graypelt's bargain - mold - a door that is there and not there - slaughter

Some of your party were exposed to a powdery green mold

As the mold clears you look upon one of the crumbled stone archways that line the hallway, and in the half-light it seems that it’s not an archway at all, but rather a door, a perfect wooden door fitted into an undamaged stone arch, and half-thinking, in the din of battle, you reach down and twist the solid brass door pull. It swings free.

The room inside is warm, and the theme of restoration continues with the sturdy stone walls complete around a turret office, the grilles letting through thick beams of summer sun. You gaze into the room, seeing the walls lined with bookshelves, each shelf packed with volumes in no clear order or sets. Books are laid on top of the books on each shelf, wedged in as if the owner of the office was often abstracted when he put his books away.

At the center of the hexagonal room is a highly polished stone desk, the visible parts of the marble top are thick with books, vials, notebooks, inkpots, and a variety of research gear. At one corner, there is a plate of sandwiches with one half-munched. Sitting on the opposite corner are a pair of boots, caked with what appear to be fresh mud, with a bottle of wine nestled in one.

Hello there, says the man seated at the desk. It is with a start that you look at the face between the clutter, the room seeming so quiet only moments before. It looks a human face, the beard close-cropped and the eyes bright. A young man, or not so old that it yet shows.

Hello he repeats

I see you’ve found my doorway. From the look of you your more likely from after me than before. Were you walking in a glade when you came upon the door? loooking like a bower that curved oddly until you got close and really looked? no? The ruin then I’m sure, and doubtless home to many a fell thing. May I ask your name?

And how did your parents meet?

Olo, are you walking with the people of stone walls now? have they made you kill an animal yet?

he laughs heartily

well well welcome welcome. You’ve only got about an hour here with me, but don’t worry, your friends and enemies will barely known you’ve gone. Not because you won’t be missed, but the beats will pass differently here than there. My name is Faisul, and the door you walked through was my own construction. The dwarves of this monastery were kind enough to let me come here for isolation and better concentration on my studies, also they can produce a few mineral salts of unrivaled purity absolutely vital for certain scrying rituals.

I won’t bore you, as I must admit the dwarves here bore me. It’s not all dwarves, mind you, he says, seeing your face, just that these ones, with their slavish worship of Torag and all their talk of constancy of providence and how every good thingthat happens to each of them must be the work of Torag, although for all they get up to, it seems their god must not run far beyond an extra mushroom left here and there.

One complaint I must admit to is that not one of the buggers is allowed a single game of chance. No not one turn of the card or a hand of pekay

should you join me in a game? excellent. Faisul lifts his hand palm up with the fingers outstretched and blows upon it. As if shot from a cannon all the clutter on the tables flies onto the shelves, into drawers, and one inkpot goes screaming right out the window. Only the boots and sandwiches remain

‘Sandwich?’

Bonejaw gorges on on the sandwiches on offer

And stakes? let me offer up this potion. With your current injuries I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d like a tot right now.

Landon puts up a bottle of wine.

The game is simple, two dice, thrown into a cup and cast, the first cast, Landon picks even:
Five and Two

too bad, another?

Landon offers the masterwork stonecutter’s tools, the dice are cast, and he picks odd
Four and two
Not quite

At this moment Bonejaw rises from the table, waving his fists over his head. Cheater! the dice change every other time and you know it so

Faisul laughs

Oh Bonejaw, may I ask you something? Do you know much of animals? Have you considered the squirrel in its hole? the bison on the plans? have you thought of the cat? Before I take my leave, as I see I must quite soon

… and as he says these words you hear the animals outside grow a little louder, though strange, stretched…..

May I ask you if you know of the ethical system, first put down by the lost Granprussians, so popular in my day and doubtless in yours, that divides all people, all worldviews, and indeed all actions, into one of four, or at best six categories? obedient or disobedient to society or ‘the law’, and the into good or evil?

May I ask you what you would think of a fox in the snow? A fox that has escaped death but too near? What might you say to that fox, if one paw was gone, and though the snow numb the stump, still it can no more than half limp, leaving a thin, weak stain, knowing that it must be pursued. If that fox had a choice, if that fox could trade something to change the circumstances of its game, into what category would you place that Fox?

When we meet again, says Faisul, as the room grows dark like a cloud had covered the sun, I do ask that you will consider the fox in the snow!
and with a thunderclap, the room is returned to empty rubble. The books gone, the glass smashed, the shelves torn down for firewood long ago

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The First Volume
The Forest - An Old Dwarf in Fine Clothes - The Druid - Grum - A Fennec Healed - Moss - A Wyrm and Shadow

Two more days have passed, and in that time 40 people in Falcon’s Hollow have died.

Bonejaw,Ryunoske, and Bluebeard found an experienced woodsman at the lumbermill camp. He seemed confused at first, finally asking if they had forgotten the directions he’d already given them. It became clear that Laurel must have hired two groups of adventurers to find the ingredients for her cure.

It was the work of a few hours for Bonejaw to follow the heavy tracks of their unwitting competitors. Dressed in finery more appropriate for the city streets than the interior, Landon Grogan turned out to be a dwarf of some years. His presence even in this part of the world was an oddity, and his traveling with Olo was even stranger.

Still the five agreed to travel together, with Ryonoske silently pledging to collect both rewards from the double-dealing Laurel.

Their goal the center of the forest, the band found a clearing at the river’s bank where unskilled hands had built a pit trap. It turned out to be a blind for a goblinish creature and his band of trained razorcrows. The creature, though he fired on and on from his perch in a low tree, was little trouble to five heroes, and his crows departed as soon as was dealt with.

One crow, though, seen out of the corner of Landon’s eye, was seen as it flew away to not be a bird at all, but something else entirely that was choosing for that moment to look like a crow.

Olo discovered a Fennec Fox at the bottom of the goblin’s pit trap, and Bluebeard healed it. It follows the party at a good distance, seemingly unwilling to be left behind or leave those who were so kind to it.

At last the great tree. Walking carefully, Olo saw that one branch held the heavy body of a thick snake or dragonkin. Ryunoske tried to walk silently and steal a bit of moss without waking the wyrm, but inches from his goal, his hand almost upon the moss, a creature appeared from within the tree: an animate shadow, the shade of a once-living thing, that warned the wyrm and attacked Ryunoske, sapping his strength till he could barely lift his arms.

As they battled, the shade whispered this rhyme to Rynoske as it tried to turn him into a thing of darkness:

Three hundred years, the shape of man,
And now the Shadow comes again
~ ~~~ ~ ~~~~~~~~ ~ ~~~ ~~~
~ ~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~~
The debt collecter’s open hands
On prison world, on throne of sin

(Lines 3 and 4 were lost, as the shade spoke them to Olo’s crocodile)

Alive, but with Ryunoske mortally weak, the band had a choice to make: rest for the whole day and night to let Rynoske recover his strength, rest for just a few hours and explore the interior in darkness, or hurry on now, one ally weakened, others with slight injuries, knowing that their haste would save the lives of some score of the sick in Falcon’s hollow

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The Shadow of the Throne: Prelude
Canus - A Sack of Gold Coins - The Servant's Entrance - Falcon's Hollow - Ether - Nagus - The Interior - The Cauldron

The opening text:
Your story begins in the city of Canus. Founded 300 years ago by Southeners fleeing the Great War, it is an island of light in a dark country. Up and down the coast is marshland, ruled by crocodiles and disease-bearing insects. The coast is home to pirates, thieves, and brutally poor fishermen. In the interior: forest, thick and imposing, nearly unnavigable, and aside from a few settlements, very little of it is the domain of humans.
Canus, as I’ve said, is the light: Reaching far into the sea with great buildings on solid peirs, its warehouses hold the trade of a hundred city-states, and the factories on the land side produce some of the most beautiful and fine products of the age.
You five have come here like so many: each of you was, in your own way, exceptional in the place you called home. Stronger, faster, smarter than those around you, it only makes sense that such as yourself would come to Canus. Arriving as crew on the endless Galleys that must call at Canus, your dream was not to work aboard ship, but to see the city so many speak of, and to make your fortune.
The first moment you lay eyes on each other is as you stroll the dockyard district. All border places are the same, and even a city that makes the most beautiful glass in the world still has it’s dockyard district: warehouses of heavy wood, grimy streets, and everywhere the clatter and scent of work being done by those who will not eat well tonight.
Vlad, Xanthanov, and Bluebeard, you fall into step walking east along an avenue, it’s your thought to find someplace to eat after your journey, the last shipboard meal was at five bells, and it is now past noon
Rynoske and Bonejaw, you are walking the other way along the narrow board street, and you stop to let them pass at an intersection with an alleyway. It is just then as the four of you are all working your way through each other, that you hear raised voices from the end of the alley.

“If you’re not interested, then that’s the end of it.”
“wuz ee sayin’”
“ee’s making us a proposal”
“I ain’t doing’ nothing indecent”
“I can see you’re not the men I was looking for good day-”
“Oh now squire, we ain’t done considering”

Three voices, possibly four, one clipped and clearly educated, the others more like galley’s crew

“What’s his proposal?”
“I have no intention of repeating myself.”
“oh oh oh, he won ‘t repeat himself”

It’s impossible not to listen, the four of you stand there, and as you do, the four of you all subconsciously reach for your weapons.

“I shall go, you have no desire to take on this task, and no desire for the rewards that come with it”
“But squire, you’ve not heard our proposal.”
“I ain’t doing nothing indecent.”
“Eee knows that Flik, he does, or he will do, but here’s what I’m proposing squire”

You hear the wet, packing sound of a fist on a soft belly, and you move as one to the mouth of the alley

“I’m proposing you stuff your little job, and give us your jink now.”

You move as one, and as your eyes adjust to the darkness you see four filthy men standing about a half-elf wearing thick brocade lying prone in the dusty alleyway.

There’s no time to speak, the four men grimace of surprise, then turn their weapons to point at you as you stride towards them, the half elf looks up from his prone position, and calls“help!”

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