Tale of Tales
The Dreamers and the Dragon
[If you are reading this in character, this will take time. If someone says they stop you or close the book please stop reading. For the rest I’m actually not much of a writer and this took longer than I thought it would so I didn’t have the chance to fluff it correctly. It may change later but I made sure the content is all here that will be here, so you can roleplay that it’s better written than it is :P (I also had very little time to proof-read so forgive the various typos)]
The Dreamers and the Dragon
There exists a city that rides above the clouds on the miles wide plateau of a great mountain. Tel-Thaile is many things to many people; to some a sight of great beauty, while to others it represents a place of innovation and learning. One thing that all can agree upon however, is that it is a site of great magic.
A current of arcane energy pulses and hums through the stone of the mountain as it has for years upon end. This energy flows through the very people themselves, whether or not they are aware of it. Those who make a study of the manipulation of such forces find themselves fascinated by the possible phenomena that could produce such an effect while those blind to it’s force nonetheless find themselves inspired by prolonged exposure. It’s as if the energy itself has life behind it, life that strives, life that fights the boredom of the mountain stone…
Within the heart of the mountain, a golden light swirls softly in red glowing eyes. Scales rasp against nothing as the being moves fluidly through the crystal that encases his dusky white body. In days past, the surface of the crystal that forms the barrier of the Dragon’s confines would bring anger, but today the Dragon is focused inward. Using his Sight and his mind, he reaches out once more to those he has chosen. Minds carefully selected and tended. The last has been found and the time is nearly at hand. Focusing with care, the dragon reaches out to the mind of a halfling reclining near a tube of light.
The halfling, Garret, made his way toward the location of the transaction. It had been a fun job, in all actuality. It’s rare that someone is after such a specific object and figuring out a good way to get in and out had been a fun exercise in it’s own right. Now the large egg-shaped object rested in a canvas bag over the halfling’s shoulder. As he drew near the museum, he recalled the strange dreams that had begun recently. The most recent had been strangely specific, but the realm of oddity is far from abnormal for such. In any case, if anything came of it he would be prepared, as always.
Val Makara, a human engineer and inventor living within the city of Tel-Thaile made her way toward the museum. She had been promised a treat and she refused to be disappointed. Looking over the building, she found it less than she expected but with a mental shrug she entered the building. Shortly after, a dwarf, one Delrid Crystalsmith followed suit; and later still came the large form of Shieldwing, a visitor to the city. Each entered, drawn by dreams, knowing the faces of the others.
From outside, two pairs of eyes watched carefully, though unaware of each other: Calen, once of the Delmon family, a prestigious if minor part of the nobility of Tel-Thaile; and Dante, a man with a number of secrets and one very important debt. After a moment, recognizing faces entering, Calen and Dante seperately decided to make their moves. Calen walking quietly behind the dragonborn and Dante adopting the posture and manner of one well inundated with alcohol as he stumbles inside.
At this point the almost complete gathering began to speak. Some appreciating the AIAS (Advanced Intelligent Automated Servant) within the building taking the form of a large statue, while others comparing notes on the dreams that brought them together. Dante took his time stumbling about, seeing if these people kept any easily spirited away things of interest on their person, though he skipped the halfling with the look of a duelist about him. Possibly fortunately, as Garret had been planning on doing the exact same thing should the drunken man stumble his way.
Eventually one going by Kira, disguised as a simple housewife made her way inside. The group was now complete; however this was not the last visitor of the evening and soon a number of brigands were entering through the doors and windows. With hostile intent declared they moved to steal the egg and burn the building to the ground with the dreamers still inside! A fierce fight ensued as those inside took action. Dante dropped his charade to send one of the intruders hurdling out the second story window while the others fought where they were needed. The two dragonborn clashed while Garret, seeking escape and finding more with torches alight fought to keep the building from catching flame.
After a few moments, which felt like many more, the fighting was done. The AIAS, analyzing the interior of the egg, spoke the verse written within. Following the instructions within the words, hidden releases were pressed and the egg released seven perfectly clear pearls. Seven pearls for seven dreamers. While the group examined this strange treasure, Dante quietly ended the life of the leader of the attackers who lay unconscious on the floor.
Hearing a noise both feared or took pains to avoid outside, Garret and the disguised Kira hurriedly parted company with the others. Soon a number of armed and armored made their way inside and Commander Tolan of the city guard pressed those that remained for details as to the disturbance. After a tense discussion and with the story from the curator of the museum, the guard agreed to let those present go with enough information to find them later for further questioning. Those who remained of the dreamers examined their pearls, which had the strange property of showing colors when looked through in the direction of the others who possessed them.
With parting words exchanged those of the pearls agreed to meet again and to find the remaining two members to find out what strangeness had befallen them.
Rather quickly, Dante manages to find the departed halfling. After a brief conversation, Garret agrees to go to Val’s workshop with the others to decide what to do next with the strange turn of fate that had shown up. This work done, Dante decides to go and pay a visit to the strange disguised woman who left him her card…
Delrid, tracking the departed Kira, made his way into the market district, looking at a moderately sized building labeled “James’ General Goods”. Scanning the building with his pearl, he sees the blue cast given by Kira’s presence descend down from the ground level. Finding this somewhat strange, Delrid shrugs to himself and enters the store. Questioning the lady in the storefront, soon the dwarf finds himself in trouble as the lights are extinguished and the blinds drawn. Simultaneously a crossbow is leveled at Delrid. He begins to speak about the pearl, but before he can get anywhere, someone knocks at the door.
Kira, dressed in dark garb, stops the figure with the crossbow from acting hastily. As the lady covering the store goes to the door, she sees Dante, holding the card he obtained from Kira. Delrid, welcoming the sight of a familiar face calls to Dante who makes his way inside after being invited. The situation is moved out of the general store and soon all parties involved are in a sitting room as the dark garbed Kira takes her seat at the head of the room, as master of the clan. A clan it was as well, other than Delrid and Dante, the rest seemed to hold the figure at the head of the room in great respect, even as the man with the crossbow disagreed on many points.
After some conversation it is revealed that the clan in question is called the “Moonlight Shadows”. Dante, understanding why they wanted him there, respectfully declines the offer to join their ranks. Further conversation had Kira, their leader, deciding to go with the other two to seek out the mystery of the pearls. Tora, outraged at the potential for risk, demanded to join Kira on her way.
Meanwhile; Val, Calen, and Shieldwing went to pick up scrap metal. Val figuring as they would be staying at her place for the time being they could work for their keep and the other two not objecting. After meeting Make, a friend of Val’s, the small group makes their way back to Val’s workshop only to run across Garret, heading in that direction as well.
As the small group walks, they speak a little of Val’s work. A comment from Val as to the ethical worth of Scavengers strikes a hidden cord with Calen however, himself being a scavenger for many years in an effort to feed and fend for himself on the streets.
As the group returns, they find Delrid, Dante, Kira and her escort. Val, fearing the shady look of group, suggests a pub as the ideal meeting ground for discussing what to do next. While the figure with Kira objects, he is ignored and overruled by the exuberant reaction to the prospect of food and drink. Eventually the group makes it to the back room of The Crooked Cog, where both are ordered and swiftly provided.
Situated, the group gives proper introduction. Garret, an acquirer of treasure and duelist worries that he is the one that sparked the current situation with his theft, however as the dreamers compare notes on when the dragons first entered their minds they soon find that the process took place over a period of months, and Garret was in fact the last to be contacted. Kira’s silence is soon explained as well as she reveals a vicious looking scar across her throat that has rendered her mute. Soon the simple topics are exhausted and conversation turned to the identity of those that attacked the museum and what exactly they were hoping to achieve.
During said conversation, the glinting of light off the pearls is finally noticed to angle strangely off when they are near eachother. On top of that, the glint seems to point in different directions for each pearl. With some effort they use the space in the pub to triangulate the fact that three of the rubies seem to be in a similar location in the undercity while the rest lay scattered in different directions. Considering that the target of three to be the most likely to bear fruit, the group decides to head in that direction first.
The undercity is a huge semi-subterranean section of the city allotted for agriculture and water collection. Huge openings in the sides of the mountain give air, water and some sunlight to the plants that require it while huge moisture collection machines gather the rain from the clouds surrounding the sheer cliffs. The group, climbing down to the city, soon find themselves crossing pipes and catwalks in persuit of the strange glint of light that requires no light to be seen. Soon, the group pauses as the target of their search becomes clear. The pearls point to a large nest of pipe crawlers.
Trying to find the exact spot the pearls point to, Val began circumventing the spiders around the nest to get at a spot lying at it’s edge, chasing off the ones directly in their way while avoiding provoking them. Finally, she finds what she is looking for in a web wrapped bundle of shiny objects the spiders had collected. However, before she can get away with the sticky ball, a flaming crossbow bolt sails into the side of the nest, sending the pipe crawlers into a frenzy!
After successfully chasing off the pipe crawlers, the group follows the path of the bolt to find Tora has apprehended the man responsible. After interrogation, it’s revealed that the man worked for Jimmy Jones, brother to the dragonborn who attacked the museum. After a bit more information is revealed, several death threats are levied against the man and the dreamers become split between those who wish him dead for his actions and what he knows and those who refuse to take part in such. Tensions mount until finaly Kira moves to handle the man herself, but not before Val can place herself between the two. Calen convinces the man to talk as Shieldwing and Garret take up stance between Tora and Val. The captured man explains that someone in a red hooded cloak set things up.
With the encounter mostly over, tensions begin to relax when Tora goes to hurry and finish off the man, only for Kira to knock his weapon aside in a swift movement. Calen takes the man to leave the city with plans to meet back at Val’s. As the group plans to head back to Val’s to see what’s so special about the bundle.
Out at the edge of the city, the man makes his way through the gates with a makeshift crutch. As he makes his way on the road out of Tel-Thaile, he thanks Calen for not slitting his throat the moment he was alone.
Val discovering Tora’s mechanical arm, quickly is distracted of her anger as she hypothesizes into it’s construction and repair. At Val’s Workshop the dreamers find Val’s prototype SERHA, Beek, and the bundle is taken apart. Among the treasure contained within are three rubies. When touched to their respective pearls, they sink in and float as if in water. When shaken, the ruby bounces around the inside of the pearl without a sound. As the ruby is inserted, the people connected with the pearls feel a strange sensation, almost as if their mind is somehow clearing.
With Val, Calen, and Shieldwing’s rubies out of the way, the next step seems to be how to handle Jimmy Jones. After a brief debate they decide to take the forward approach and go to the location Per gave of his current headquarters directly.
Garret and Calen share what they know of Jimmy Jones as they approach. Jimmy Jones is one of the pair of brothers that runs a decently powerful street gang of Tel-Thaile. One brother is the brains while the other is the brawn. Based on evidence given so far, they quickly conclude that the “the brains” are what remain and attempt to prepare themselves for the encounter. After walking over a mile, they reach the headquarters. Observing the situation carefully, they see a number of people like the ones from the museum. One of them is speaking to an elven man behind the desk. Discussion occurs over what to do but Val takes matters into her own hand and makes her way directly into the heart of the headquarters, asking directly for Jimmy Jones.
The elf listens to them and asks about their information source. After a moment however he levels a revolver at the dreamers and swears vengeance for the loss of his brother. A moment later a huge man, Big T, jumps down from a two story building and lands amidst the group, swinging proportionally huge arms in an arc and scattering those nearby.
The fight goes on for a while until Jimmy, finding his forces faltering and himself backed into a corner offers parley, on the condition of the release of his gang; threatening to shoot Val if his demand is not met. However, his derogatory remarks piss off Val to the point where she charges the man. Shieldwing, seeing him go for the shot takes the shell meant for Val in his thick armor while Val lashes out and knocks the man unconscious with a crowbar. Big T collapses in tears next to the wounded Jimmy Jones, thinking him dead.
With Jimmy Jones down and the rest of his gang scattered, the group searches his things, finding the fourth ruby. Once Jimmy Jones is lucid again, they begin questioning him as to his actions against them, finding out of the strange red cloaked man who put him up to the task. One of the same red cloaked men who have been making people disappear in the streets. The red cloaked figure explained that ‘something bad’ would occur if the dreamers were to complete some action, but that was the total of what Jimmy had to share about what he knew.
The group made it’s way to get food and some sleep before continuing the search for the remaining rubies.
In the morning light, the group once more assembles at Val’s workshop. There they discussed new troubling dreams. The dragons were worried. Kira in a new disguise as Quinn is the last to arrive and once more the dreamers depart.
On the streets once more, they decide to find Dante’s ruby next, as Delrid’s is in the undercity and Garret has a bad feeling about his. He knows all to well the direction his pearl has likely been pointing, and that is one encounter he would greatly like to avoid.
Following Dante’s pearl, the group comes across a young man introducing himself as Todd Clemant. He seems excited to meet the group and offers the ruby he holds to Dante quickly in the face of Dante’s greatsword. The young man seems nervous as he explains that he cannot explain exactly what he knows but that he wanted to help. Before the young man can make excuses to leave however, Dante spots something on his arm and grabbing it, reveals an intricate tattoo of a green and white dragon. The mark of the red cloaked figures.
Pressed for information, Todd reveals that he cannot inform the group of anything. He also seems unaware of the trials the group has faced in regards to the red cloaked figures. He explains that there are people waiting on the dreamers to complete “their part”.
The group, deciding Todd not a threat, leaves the young man to seek Garret’s ruby. Realizing that the pearls point towards the headquarters of the guard, Calen, Garret, and Kira stay behind while the rest go inside to speak with Commander Tolan. Val launches into a fabricated story for a stolen item report, but when giving her name, the secretary recognizes it and asks them to come have a seat to speak about the previous night’s incident at the museum.
Val is lead inside first to speak with Tolan. Professionally and to the point, Tolan asks Val’s account of the night at the museum. Val’s nerves begin to show as the Commander gets more and more information about the previous night’s endeavors from her. Up to and including the raid on Jimmy Jones’ gang. Once Tolan is done gathering details from Val he explains to her his views against vigilantism and gives her means to summon the guard in emergencies to avoid future problems. Visibly cowed, Val takes the whistle and hurries out of Tolan’s office into a secondary waiting room.
Next comes Dante, at first mistaken for Calen, who is sent through after a brief conversation with Tolan. While Dante consoles the shaken Val, Shieldwing takes his turn. Shiledwing gives a very simple report of the night at the museum, explaining the dreams that lead him there and caused him to recognize the others despite never meeting them before. He also explains under further questioning that he is a visitor to Tel-Thaile. After explaining about the rubies and the second encounter with the gang, Tolan asks if the ruby in Val’s report is the one of which he spoke and offered to hand it over if ownership could be proven. He also offered to ignore the fraudulent stolen item report if Shieldwing would make sure she avoided doing so in the future.
After Delrid’s turn through the office comes to an end, the group at the urging of Val makes their way out of the headquarters, debating how to prove ownership of the ruby. After realizing that Garret cannot possibly go in or steal it as it would implicate the rest, Val steels herself to go back in with Garret’s pearl and speaks with the secretary once more.
As Tolan heard of the magic nature of the stones from Shieldwing, he proposes a simple test and leads Val into a room with lockboxes along every wall. If she can tell him which box the ruby is in using the pearl, then he will allow her to leave with the stone. Unfortunately, with the group so far away, the stone’s glint refuses to show the way, and Delrid goes outside to get the others to sneak into the building just far enough to activate the pearl. With the dreamers within range, the glint starts once more and Val is able to identify the lockbox and retrieve Garret’s ruby, bringing the total to find down to one.
The dreamers make a stop at Val’s workshop to collect themselves before going back to the undercity to retrieve Delrid’s ruby. There, they get a message from Val’s sister offering to bring baked goods by later for her “worrisome” guests. As her message asks after Kira Makara, the other “Kira” is suddenly able to understand some of the extra measure of grief that had been levied her way thus far.
Heading back to the undercity and following Delrid’s pearl, the group finds themselves outside a house near a large farm. Introducing themselves they discover that the owner’s daughter had picked up the stone and had added it to her collection. With some quick talking and thinking, Val convinces the young girl to trade the ruby for a colorful bit of scrap from a previous job.
With the last ruby acquired, the group begins to make it’s way back. As Delrid slips the ruby into the pearl, the stones begin to glow brightly as if building up a charge. Then, with a flash; the dreamers as one black out and dream once more…
Tel-Thaile lies in ruin. Only a few tubes of light remain glowing, giving the city a true night it has not known for over a century. Here and there, the orange glow of fires dot pockets of civilians. Those around the fires seem watchful, and ready to flee should the need arise.
An unearthly screech sends one such pocket of civilization scurrying. Motion in the darkness, something illuminated by small sections of tube stubbornly clinging to life show bits and almost-features but nothing more.
Dark clouds stretch on, making Tel-Thaile feel like an island in truth. Despite only seeing a small portion, they could feel that this was not isolated only to what they were seeing.
This is what I see. It haunts my dreams, and will come to pass. I have the gift of profecy and know this to be true. I have learned how much things may be bent, and require your assistance in keeping this from ever reaching such a point. Seek me in The Heart of the City, the same gift says it must be you. Seek me in The Heart of the City, before the sun wains.
The words echo in their minds as they as one come out of the strange dream. The fact that all still stand show that no time has passed and the dreamers find themselves conferring once more over what to do. Calen recalls a time before his decade upon the Tel-Thaile streets and explains to the group where The Heart of the City lay.
Upon Calen’s knowledge and Val’s experience with the undercity, the group makes their way to the column The Heart likely resides within. Upon further inspection, Val recognizes Make’s handiwork on pipes going into the column and the group decides to seek Val’s orc friend for information on how to possibly find their way into this mysterious location.
While walking the streets of Tel-Thaile heading for Make’s workshop, Kira spots looming figures waiting in ambush, poised to strike. With no time to get the group’s attention, she acts swiftly and brings her shortbow to bare, launching an arrow swift and true… only to react in shock as a voice far to young to belong to the gangs who have already made attempts on their lives lets out a howl of pain. Those hit by the opening volley from the ambushers feel a sticky wetness from the impact locations. Touching the “wounds” carefully with fingers brings back pink paint. An ill timed ambush of children with paintballs turns the seeming encounter into a sudden rush to give medical aid to the arrow stricken child. Kira rushes with medical supplies to stem the bleeding. The arrow fortunately mostly repelled by armor made of old pipework. More of Make’s handiwork.
In moments Make has made his way to the scene of the incedent and is intent upon finding out what went on. After hearing what happened, Make scolded the children for their game while simultaneously making sure that the injured child was being taken care of. Returning to Make’s workshop, Garret is sent to get Val’s sister to help take care of the child. In the meantime, Val hesitantly questions Make about his work with The Heart of the city, fearing to find her old friend embroiled in shady business.
Make knows the area they speak of and asks why they would want in there, and those still present explain the situation to Make. With the situation explained, Make told them about the work he had done, and how his citizenship in Tel-Thaile had been the fee granted from his work and continued silence. He then very carefully told the group what he could not talk about. The group, getting his meaning, thanked Make for the help despite his “inability to help”. The orc asks for the group to be careful in what they do, to which Val gives her assurance.
At that Kayn hurried into the building and immediately began her motherly assult on Val, the injured boy, and pretty much anyone else in the area. All this despite only being older than Val by a few years. With effort the group managed to get the boy over to Kayn’s home for further care.
After a quick meet and greet with Kayn’s family, the group hurries back to Delrid to see if he found anything and to show him the hidden way into the column. There the dwarf has taken to etching strange runes into the side of the structure. Upon questioning it was found that he had been absorbed in the knowledge of the runes as a power source and had failed to find further information about how to enter The Heart.
Using the information Make had failed to tell them about, the group found the shed that disguised a hidden entrance into the undercity that lay within the column. Heading down, the group soon found themselves at a shuttered door. As the shutter opened, a familiar face saw the group and greeted them. Todd’s face beamed as he let them in and led them further into the compound.
Further inside, the group finds a mess hall containing a number of individuals, some wearing the red cloaks and all with tattoos of dragons upon their arms. Todd speaks with one of them briefly before being interrupted by the intrusion of Lenard the Second, a high ranking member of the red cloaked figures. Scolding Todd, he takes over leading the guests further into The Heart. Leading the group into a waiting chamber, he goes to inform others of their arrival. Unfortunately for them, the waiting room in question is actually the beginning of the Dragon’s Gauntlet, and the door has been firmly and finally shut.
Within the gauntlet the group finds themselves in strange rooms with only a small hint to guide them. That the mirrors on the ceiling show truth. The first room contains large ancient looking machines. Immediately Val and Delrid are drawn to analyzing the controls, but when the golems come to life the wall opens up to reveal two more golems ready to fight. After a battle between the huge machines, only the dreamers’ still stand, and as the machines disappear the passage forward opens.
The Gauntlet continues room after room until finally, wearily, the group emerges to see the Great Dragon of Tel-Thaile, who’s blood flows within the mountain stone itself, leading to the intensely magical properties of the mountain and city. His serpentine form slides effortlessly though the crystal that holds his form prisoner, along with a mound of treasure that has remained inside. With slow effort, the Dragon explained to the dreamers why they were there.
With part of the explanation done, the dreamers made their way through a series of doors that were not there previously. As each stepped through a small chamber prepared for them, they received a boon from the Dragon. Equiped for the road ahead they venture forth only to find themselves pulled onto a giant chess board.
With quick thinking the group managed to thwart the challenge and made their way into a final room. In this room is a pedestal upon which rests a golden tome. Garret, walking up to the tome cannot resist the urge to look within, and with that the dreamers vanish.
Back in the Dragon’s chamber, the Great Dragon feels the dreamers’ departure. They were supposed to bring the book back to him so he could explain their task, but perhaps this is how things were supposed to play out. Hopefully the dreamers would be able to return with the knowledge he required. The knowledge without which, not only Tel-Thaile, but all would face great ruin…