Prologue: Gates of Stone

Independence Day
Cuthberta Eoselunday

An account by Thalazzar

Puffs of blue smoke rose slowly from Thalazzar's pipe to drift away on the early morning breeze. The mage sat on a pile of rubble outside the Bell & Dragon watching the city glow and listening to the hum of the subsiding catastrophe. The sun would not rise for an hour or two but the city glowed as parts of the city continued to smolder. Thalazzar watched as a bunch of coloured feathers, remnants of someone's abandoned costume, blew down the slope of Dosh peak.

There was a lot for Thalazzar to ponder. Only a few hours earlier, rescuing Plake had been the only thing on his mind but now Irontusk and the Dripping Blade would have to fall to Grist. Thalazzar felt uneasy about leaving unfinished business behind him but Grist owed them his life and Thalazzar had no reason to doubt his word. Philly Ten Bones, in particular, deserved a blade between the ribs.

Now it seemed he would be traveling east. Perhaps it was for the best as Riot's Gate had descended into anarchy and Thalazzar was in not in a position to take advantage of the situation. Magic had even abandoned the city. Warring factions and creatures from beyond had decimated large portions of town leaving rubble everywhere.

Thalazzar's thoughts turned to Frankie. While the mage hated gnomes he had, in fact, never met one before Frankie. He could vividly recall the sputtering draconic curses of Kijugitat, a shamanistic warlock of the Khi'Ganad, calling on Kurtulmak to draw forth and eat the intestines of all gnomes. He could picture the creature's hateful, evil glare, orange reptilian skin and wiry blue beard. He was amazed, however, that this hated race shared his former clan's affinity for mechanical things and Frankie was certainly more gifted then Thalazzar. The gnome had saved hundreds of lives by preventing the collapse of the Skybridge Tram - all as a result of her technical skills. Thalazzar had done little to help save offering encouragement and protection to the industrious but irritating little creature. Still, perhaps this gnome was not as bad as her kin. Thalazzar certainly had no desire to eat her innards.

The wizard Woden had tasked them on a quest to rescue Tallim, the girl from the Dream of Horrors. Tallim it seemed was many things - heir to the Orindish crown, apprentice to Woden, and somehow connected to him and his companions. Although Thalazzar was wary that Woden knew something of his past, it seemed that this girl was intertwined with his future. He knew not and cared little for Mahgnus Mor or of Orindish politics but he despised slavery and if her rescue could somehow help to free the slaves of Orindo, then perhaps there was something that could be achieved by her rescue. At the very least there may be some more information about the power behind the Dream of Horrors.

There were some pieces of the puzzle missing. No one seemed to know why Tallim was taken or who conducted the mission but the Dripping Blade, again, facilitated her sale into slavery. According to Woden, she is traveling within the Order and it was there that Thalazzar knew they must go to rescue her. It had been said that her kidnappers may have feared the wrath of the landholders block and an Orindish organized crime group. It seemed curious to Thalazzar, however, that with the rest of the royals dead, this Maghnus character seems to have the most to gain from Tallim's disappearance and the death of his kin. Thalazzar decided that gathering some more information about the Orindish players might be useful before leaving Riot's Gate. Perhaps the Orindish organized crime syndicate could be of use to Grist in destroying the Dripping Blade.

Thalazzar's companions had mentioned something about Jamhyria Theona'la. The name meant little to the wizard, but he had feeling that there would be two stops on the way to the Order. Domaldi's Saltwater Barrows would likely be one. The knight's father had recently been slain there and the place seemed connected somehow to the current troubles in Riot's Gate. The second stop seemed to be one that Thalazzar could avoid - Frankie's home village of Peppershot. The thought of visiting a gnomish village filled him with anxiety. Not only was it filled with despicable gnomes but they apparently had the plague as well. Thalazzar doubted that the plague infested gnomish entrails of Peppershot would even appeal to his former masters. With that thought Thalazzar had a quiet chuckle on his rubble perch and shook his head. After the events of the last two days, a plagued, gnome infested village might be a welcome chance to rest.

From Frankie's Book of Schematics

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