One: Ordered by Gods
That Which Stalks the Night
The End in Sight - An Account by Thalazzar
Clutching Kalthanalas in one hand and brushing the morning mist off his shoulder with the other, Thalazzar strode along with his companions through the swamp in the early dawn light. It truly was a new day for these lands and for the first time in a long time, the sounds of life returning to the swamp filled the morning. Wounded, tired, and having lost friends to this dark place, the companions marched towards Lake Dakar, eager to move on with their quest.
The night prior had been dark. Very dark. Inigo, it seemed, had fallen into undeath at the hands of that which stalked the night, a most foul marriage of lizard and the touch of Nerull. The companions were unsure of either beast’s fate, but the beggar’s self-sacrifice at the Temple of Sss’rast seemed to have at least sealed their evil within a prison of reinvigorated earth. They had nearly not survived, having thrown everything they had against their undead foes. Arek, in particular, had been spared a dark fate of being pulled from the light of Moradin and into the shadows of eternal torment. Thalazzar had called numerous devils and clouds of demon dust, nearly exhausting his repertoire of magical power. But live they had, and their quest continued on.
The group was silent, but Thalazzar’s mind buzzed with arcane thoughts. Thalazzar sensed that his magic was being drawn into darker places. Domaldi had been a positive influence on him much like Stooped Birch had been, but the pull of the dark was strong. He had been studying the shadow magic in the necromancer’s tome and its power did not lie far outside Thalazzar’s grasp. Nerull’s touch could be deadly and evil, as Inigo and Arek had learned, but powerful when controlled. Bringing this power into balance and under the wizard’s control would be an interesting challenge.
Necromancy was not the only path open to him. His conjurations had grown strong. The minions of those chained to undeath the night before had been torn apart by his Rhodoxian toothed manglers. He had learned the name of a demonic steed, a creature of speed and mist now at his call. His powers over the weak minded had also grown. Philly Ten Bones would not again resist his arcane commands should their paths meet again!
But the immediate concern was their path. Tallim was far away and Domaldi’s quest into the heart of darkness had left the trail cold. Thalazzar felt that his path still led south into the Order, Tallim or not. They could take the difficult road through the swamp south to Telemar or try to cross Lake Dakar to Cauldron and then move south to Telemar by that road. Their lizard guide would likely recommend the wet route and the beggar would likely support it because it would mean days more suffering in the swamp. The wizard didn’t want to spend another second in this horrible place.
Thalazzar knew little about Cauldron but he did know that it was a more substantial city than Telemar. They needed news of goings on in the Federation, word of the progress of the conflict with the Brutes, and desperately needed to re-supply. He was unsure that Telemar would be able to meet all their needs and they would need the best resources possible to infiltrate the Order. He also recalled that he knew a name in Cauldron - Baron Mastof Golgadin - lord of House Golgadin whose mercantile interests dominated the soap trade in the central Federation. House Golgadin was based in Cauldron but Thalazzar had only ever sailed with Golgadin cogs on Lake Seluna with Loifen’s Privateers on protection contracts enroute to Bostik. He wasn’t sure how far south Golgadin’s influence crept but he had heard rumours amongst the mercenaries that Baron Mastof had trade interests within the Order. It might be worth asking. Thalazzar thought he owned a villa amongst the wealthy estates on Rim Road, where the Cauldron rim broke into Lake Dakar.
Frankie's Life is a Nightmare