Spies of Khorvaire

Episode 1: The Frying Pan

The last of your gold and contacts has been spent getting to this place, an abandoned chapel on the furthest outskirts of Passage, House Orien’s largest transportation hub in Aundair, the most renowned magic using nation on the continent of Khorvaire. You have been burned from your previous jobs, without any clear indication of who issued the burn or why. Opening agents to the potential of going freelance is not something agencies want, so it is in their best interest to keep your identities private from the public, and remove you from the temptation by way of an arrow to the head. These are your problems, but of course the headlines are all about a Sentinel Marshals by the name of Talfen d’Deneith finally taking Elvira Crowfinger, a war criminal and renounced General of the Emerald Claw, into custody.

The chapel is dilapidated and about as sketchy as they come. Three candles flicker in an upper window- the sign that the meeting of those in the same situation as you is on. You enter in your own fashion, and study each other in the instant matter to which you have become accustomed. You see (they describe themselves). You also see a sixth in your predicament, a female Elf with the Dragonmark of Shadow peeking out of her black-stained leather armor. “I am Althaea d’Thuranni,” she says, revealing herself to work for the Elf House of Shadow. “I figure the best way we can get through this is to divulge what we know to one another. Secrets, and equipment, must be shared. To this end, I have procured a pack (of your mundane equipment) for each of you.”
A pane of glass shatters and you ready your applicable weapons. The arrow smashes through the back of Althaea’s skull, the head protruding from her mouth. She collapses, convulses a moment, and then lies still. All goes silent.

A Perception Check notices the crickets have gone silent, and the crunch of grass under boots is on all sides of the building. Typical protocol dictates the strike team would fire on them as soon as they figure out who else is in there.

COMBAT: Dark lanterns attack.

As the last member of the strike team falls, you notice a second, much larger wave approaching by torchlight in the night. You would not likely have time to gather resources before taking them on, and would risk losing your anonymity. You may be able to lose them in the city by working together.

As you pass through the city, the organics fall behind quickly. Kai thinks fast, kicking open a manhole cover, and you splash down below the streets. The warforged pursuers keep up, and you turn to face them without onlookers.

COMBAT: Dark lanterns attack. Half the team goes down, but they are saved by a mysterious shifter who missed the meeting.

With your new allies, you feel a surge of hope for your survival and clearing of your names, but have also seen one of your equals die without warning. You take up shelter in a large warehouse right by the tracks of the outbound lightning rail if need of quick escape arises, and decide to rest before considering your options.

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Episode 2: The Intel Game

Two days have passed since the events that brought your to work together. The city guard has quieted, knowing only of an attack on an abandoned chapel and a chase through the city. In a large city like Passage, these are not worth more than a passing interest, if that. More attention has been paid to the intense rainstorm in the area. Sleep has been fleeting, with the trains leaving at all hours within feet of you.

Parcival brings up that any official agency would have the dossiers on their burns, and the closest by far would be the local headquarters of the Royal Eyes. A clear escape route to smash through the sixth story windows, which means putting a safe landing in place ahead of time, with a way to get to the Lightning Rail.

The team establishes there is a homeless man who always watches the same secret door. Upon investigation and distracting him, they find a trap door into the base.

In an environment such as this, you can largely blend in by simply acting like you belong there. You move through what amounts to any other business office, full of file cabinets and secretaries. You come to the point Parcival warned you about, the room with the alarm pulley and the guards. Expedient and quiet takedowns need to occur, but most important is keeping them away from the alarm, no matter the cost.

Encounter: Guards

The files are easy enough to find, but are down a mantrap of electrified floor tiles. They notice the safe sections are labeled, but each of six rows lists dangers and safeties in different languages: Elvish, Gnomish, Goblin, Halfling, Giant, and Draconic. Parcival, being a linguist, knows enough of the languages to get them through.

Through the windows burst a guard you didn’t expect, part of the building itself. A gargoyle blocks your way to the escape route. Accompanying him are a pack of highly trained magebred mastiffs. At this point, it looks as if you will have to deal with them to make your escape. The door behind you begins pounding and humanoid voices demand it be opened, and the Lightning Rail horn can be heard in the distance, about forty seconds off.

Encounter: Gargoyles

You smash through the remaining window, landing as you planned. With the knowledge you sought firmly in hand, you jump on a Lightning Rail just as it leaves. It will be hours until the Eyes can figure out what happened here, and even then, they aren’t missing anything, and can’t necessarily trace it to you.

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Episode 3: Dead Man’s End

Still on the cargo train from Passage to Wroat, in the regional headquarters of the Royal Eyes. Although the official letters reveal far less than you had hoped, you do find they were all put out by the same man, an Aundairan noble by the name of Vanan Arkalis. Mysteriously, they were also all issued on the same day, confirming there is a connection. You don’t have long to discuss this before a small device plinks to the floor. Kai is the first to react, shielding his eyes as smoke begins to billow from it. You move to defensive positions behind nearby crates, preparing for the attack that appears as the wind of the car door opening clears the smoke. Let’s see if you were surprised.

Encounter: Assassins

After this, they bring up that these assassins do not match any agency’s signature style, especially the Royal Eyes, because they didn’t use magic, which the Eyes consider a matter of pride, and others wouldn’t use such wide-spread violence, as much as a surgical extraction).

Arkalis apparently lives in a lavish home in the middle of sprawling vineyards, with no buildings but his servant’s and some stills for dozens of miles around. The home is reminiscent of a southern plantation, with large columns and multiple floors. Servants as young as eight bustle about, their minds on their work. You are led up a curved staircase to a solid walnut door. The servant leaves you there. “The master has not seen anyone today, but the doormen seem to insist you are…” he sizes you up, “worth it.” You enter, and a portly human sits behind a large desk, smoking a cigar.

Investigation reveals that this is an illusion. They locate the real body, and Parcival finds a piece of paper in the victim’s hand with one word scrawled hurriedly upon it in Goblin. This is the old Dhakaani name for the region that now houses one of the most prosperous cities on Khorvaire: Fairhaven. They also find Treasure Package I.

As you collect the last item, the guards bust in the door. “A courier just arrived,” one shouts, “reporting that these are assassins!” and they draw steel.

They put the commoners to sleep and slip past the guards by making another illusion of Vanan. They also question the courier, who is an Orien who knows little.

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Episode 4: Connections

Following your only lead, you have doubled back past Passage and have spent the last two days gathering survival resources in Fairhaven, one of the largest cities of Khorvaire, let alone Aundair. After gathering some intelligence one day, you come back to your warehouse, to notice movement in one of the windows.

After Parcival sneaks in, Squanch recognizes the intruder.

Squanch is the first to lower his guard, and you all notice this. An older Gnome with a scar on his left cheek sits on a pile of crates, his muddy boots up on the table. Most noticeable is the fact that his fashion sense is incredible. “Who are your friends, Stumpy?” He asks. “I hope they’re trustworthy. I heard about your little… situation… and I could really use your help, in trade for pay you cannot find elsewhere.”

In conversation, he covers the following:
- He faked his own death to get out of the Trust. Since then, he has been acting as a professional freelance thief.
- In response to the attack on Thaliost, he was hired by the Aundairan government to steal an Eldritch Machine from Karrnath.
- At the time, he did not realize that it was a chemical weapon capable of killing thousands, and asks for help putting it back so the balance of power in the nations is not interrupted. He will pay with goods and information on their burns.

Once they agree:
- Vanan Arkalis worked for an umbrella organization, an intelligence agency with no official sanction, which is a direct violation of the Treaty of Thronehold. It is they who burned them, and with a purpose, but it is unclear.
- Payment is made in advance, and includes one potion of healing to each character. In theory, this is by going out and shopping for these things, so they don’t have to risk blowing their hiding spot.

It is revealed at this time that Vistra has some sort of addiction, and Ray Ray had the resources to supply her addiction.

The best way into the government building is through the sewers.

Encounter 1 in sewers

They slip past the guards and into the vault, which is protected by an Iron Defender. Ray Ray, while invisible, takes the item for himself and slips out, mentioning he is going to sell in to Cannith East.

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Episode 5: Honest Day’s Work

All attempts to find evidence of an illegal umbrella spy agency have come up fruitless, especially since your only chance to do so would be like blindly firing a shotgun. So, your efforts have been focused on lying low, distancing yourselves from the theft of the eldritch machine, and making dartboards out of impromptu sketches of Ray Ray. Still, you have found you are safer in numbers, and one day in the market for food and questions turns sour quickly.

Vistra realizes they are being scryed on in the market, but can’t see by whom.
Through a Skill Challenge, they track its origin, but the casters will know they have been discovered.

Encounter: Invisible Stalkers in marketplace

All of a sudden, the creatures break off their attacks, dissipating back to Syrania, the elemental plane of air from which they were enslaved. Parcival, you recognize this as a signature assassination technique by your agency. You look around for a Mage that could have summoned them, and why they stopped. Sure enough, you notice a man in the crowd with a slit throat, doing all he can to keep his blood on the inside as he collapses. Over him, a High Elf woman with flowing green hair wipes off a dagger, looks at you, winks, and drops something on the body with purpose before disappearing into the crowd.

Upon Investigation, they find a card on the body. It reads:
Inn of the Lucky Lemon. Noon.
-Your Only Friend

They make it to the bar.

The bar is filled with the cacophony of cheers, clinking mugs, and the stench of unwashed spills dating back months. A circular table holds a large pitcher of some brew and six mugs, but only one is matched to a person. A beautiful Elf woman has brilliant emerald green hair flowing from her fair head. It is impossible to gauge her age, given her race. The barmaid comes to collect the empty mugs, but the woman waves her off, apparently waiting for company.

The conversation more or less follows as such:
“I know your current situation has left you hoping for hope itself,” she observes, “and I am most impressed with your dossiers. Recently you were double-crossed by your friends, but you can rest assured I have no intention of doing so. In fact, my agency wishes to hire you. If the work is too… blasphemous for you, walk away without ill will.”

Who are you? “My name is Ms. Aleria. I represent the agency that you were recently misinformed burned you. Let’s refer to them as, ‘The Institute,’ until we know we can trust each other. Our organization’s chief concern is to aid the fragile peace between nations to prosper, no matter what means that requires. We processed your burns, but they originated from several different agencies. It has changed our tune quite a bit, and we consider you candidates for hire. We can provide items helpful to your situation, and will keep this as off the books as you desire. It is just peacemeal, of course.”

Why us? Before your forced occupation change, it seems you stumbled onto a multi-national conspiracy that The Institute has spent considerable resources investigating, since literally, no one agency can do so. You have survived no less than three separate assassination attempts by your former employers, which makes us think you are ideally suited to pursue it with us. You don’t have to share any of your secrets with us, and we will run interference for you until you are reinstated, if you like.

What do you want? Are you familiar with the Argentum (they are on the website). They are the relic seekers of the Church of the Silver Flame in Thrane. Their methods put the Dark Cabinet to shame, and they are known for destroying the holy items of other faiths they deem blasphemous, especially the Blood. They recently stole a relic known as the Claw of Vol (literally), and are taking it back to Thrane to destroy it. Although we have little care for the religious consequences, we would like to return the relic to its home at the Crimson Monastery. It is currently en route via Lightning rail, which will be stopping here in Fairhaven to pick up passengers. You can either try to get on board then, or once it is in motion.

Why do you care? If it makes it to Thrane, we have received intelligence our enemies have already set up a heist, and if they gain the item, their weapons will become vastly more powerful.” We aren’t asking you to enhance our weapons, just keep the status quo. The Institute truly believes that the fear of the Day of Mourning is the closest to peace on which Khorvaire can currently rely. Our job is to keep the peace until someday, we are no longer needed.

As DM: Accepting the mission will also allow you to do a little counterespionage to try to figure out what, “The Institute,” is up to, but the only way to figure that out is to also complete their assignments. It is still unclear if they are good or evil, or if that matters to you when the pay is good enough. The question for now is how you plan to get on board the train?

The heist is more or less uneventful, except that the last member of the Argentum summons a powerful angel to combat them.

You meet Ms. Aleria at the same location, where she asks to see the claw, but does not ask for it. “You have proven yourselves capable, I will pay as promised. Here is 500 gold, and we will open an investigation of your burns. If you care to learn more about our organization and continue building trust, make your way to Sharn. The Aurum is holding an auction there, and they will be selling items that will allow you to take the relic back, not to mention we would like to capitalize on the opportunity to take out certain relics of great evil. More than anything, we must get it back to the Monastery, so we can keep it out of our enemy’s hands. The Monastery is the only place it will be safe for the long term.”

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Episode 6: The Heist

The Institute has provided cover accommodations all the way to Sharn. As you make your way into the city unnoticed, you take the time to marvel at its wonder. Several plateaus of stone hold up colossal towers that defy all reason in their height. The city is smaller in area than some you have seen, but its stature more than compensates. It is easy to see how it can house all types… including some of the most abysmal of lows on the continent. The question now is how much information you can gain and how easily you can get into the auction, where you are supposed to steal holy symbols and garbs of the highest order of Blood of Vol clerics. Not to mention, Ms. Aleria has indicated that artifacts of great evil will be at this location, and this may be the only chance to destroy them. She has given you a small device that will destroy the bond to their magic, but will take several minutes for it to work. Unfortunately, all that Ms. Aleria knows about the auction is that it is going to happen.

Social: They should learn that it is incredibly high class and under impressive guard (allow players to describe the sources of information). Any questions about the monastery should inform them that only the highest order of Blood of Vol priests get to enter the lower levels, and it apparently holds the true power of the Blood.

Note: Any discovered bodies of sentient beings will show a strike occurred, and the Aurum will begin hunting them. KOs can be enacted, but the bodies have to be hidden so they blame their own. Or of course, slip past them entirely.

You make your way up the tower, noting that the quality of life rises in respect to your elevation. Eventually you find your way to Crystal Bridge, a wealthy district of fine shops and lavish homes.

Skill Challenge or inventive narration gets them in.

Vistra, you sneak into the auction floor, where only the most punctual have arrived. You scan the area, when a young man bumps into you, but is currently distracted with the buttons on his shirt. “Excuse me, have you seen the lavatory?” You unconsciously look up, and see Simion, your son.

Most of you slip into the hallway, but hesitate curiously as you notice your Dwarven comrade intentionally tarries. Vistra, you notice that Oscar is here as well. He holds a glass of wine is his hand, as you have seen him do so many times before. He places it on the side table, where you could easily poison it without anyone noticing. Flashes of your sister’s murder are called to your mind. Holding her dying body, leaving your family and Grayson behind, and the many beatings and rape you were forced to endure. Oscar sits, engaged in a jovial conversation with his malicious Aurum brethren. If you take the time to strike, though, his complications may be noticed before your heist is complete. Is it worth the risk?

Vistra decides framing Oscar for the heist would be far more beneficial, but it is touch and go for a minute. Long story (and combat) short, they get the items.

You have the robes, symbols, and equipment you need. Among them is a vial of a poison it will take a bit of testing to identify. If you desire, you can also steal some helpful items, including the vial with only a few drops left of the grey smoky substance that you’ve never seen before, an Eversmoking Bottle, a Robe of Useful Items, a pair of Sending Stones, and an odd yet distinctive locket bearing the symbol of eight platinum rings. Vistra, you also notice something that may help calm your nerves.

You now have the option of returning to Simion and Oscar, but doing so would likely prevent the Aurum from blaming themselves for the theft, and may reveal Vistra’s presence. Instead, they leave Oscar’s locket.

Escaping the scene takes some doing, but you are able without too much trouble. Most attendees are preoccupied with cleaning up before apparently more important guests arrive.

When they make a check to identify the poison, but can only determine it is of a divine, not natural, nature. A Religion check identifies it.

It is an exceedingly rare substance known as Interfector Mortis. It will cause flu-like symptoms in a living creature, but it serves as a deadly poison to undead. There is too little here to do anything with, but it is interesting to say the least. With what you found around town about the monastery, combined with Kai filling you in on the traditions of the Blood of Vol, you know few Karrnathi citizens have an issue with undead, but are not clear what connection they would have with the Blood. A letter waits for you in your safe house, a plain blue card with a hand scribbled note in a familiar aromatic ink, along with 500gp. “There is far more for you to do. Spend some time to recover, letting the heist fade from their minds. Make your way to Atur, and be ready.”

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