Sharn: From Antiquities to Inquisitives

Thursday Night - Aldos

Because Wednesday night was too boring.

Some times I wonder how I ended up here, and by here I mean Thursday. Thursday evening walking back to Haven with everyone. Well, not literally everyone, but our C.L.O.U.D. unit. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the company. Most of the time. Where was I? Oh, right.
Thursday.
So it’s evening, and we’re heading back to Haven. I’m hungry and could really go for something that’ll stick to my ribs. My mind is occupied by sweet and savory when everyone stops, and before I can even see why we’ve stopped, Fang bolts down an alley and tears into something. Something big. Oh, and of course there’s a second one of whatever it is. And they’ve both got maces that probably weigh as much as I do. And I know what’s happening next.
Fang catches two pretty vicious strikes. Had to hurt. Dyer follows almost immediately, slowing one of the ogrish behemoths with some lethal blast of magic, and it’s on. They all move so fast, sometimes I feel like I’m just in the way. Erdrick starts launching rounds from his spring-action deathdealer, Zerif jumps into the fray, dazing the big oafs, and Keyleth. Scares me sometimes. Not in a fearful “I need to run for my life” kind of way, but more of a “we are so lucky she’s on our side” kind of way. She connects with a brutal flurry of lacerations, and there is red ev-ry-where.
So they’re all going to war in this alley, and I finally catch a glimpse of what had the brutes’ attention previously. I don’t recognize her, but the others later tell me they’ve seen her around the market. Just some woman minding her business. In Sharn, that can get you in trouble. I can’t tell if she’s hurt or not; I can’t tell if she’s screaming or crying through all the melee, and I try to get a little closer. Maybe I can sneak past and see if she’s ok.
Nope.
As soon as I’m within swinging reach, I know EXACTLY how Fang feels. I’m hit three times. Twice by one ogre and once by the ground. I have the wind completely knocked out of me. The idea of anything sticking to my now broken ribs is replaced by hopes that they will heal. By the time I can get up, everyone is covered in blood. It’s hard to tell if it’s their own or if it belonged to the two monsters who just hopped the lightning rail out of this mortal coil. Zerif and Fang are already seeing to the hysterical woman, and she just keeps repeating how she wants to go home, almost ignoring of whatever it is that they’re saying. I feel so bad for her. If she didn’t have nightmares before, she will now. The elves offer to take her home, and she’s at the point where she’ll agree to most anything. She’s in good hands, though.
Dyer starts looking over the freshly dead monstrosities. I wonder if the disgusted expression on his face is out of disgust for these creatures, all the blood, or their foul smell. He finds a bandana or something and cuts it from the corpse. Daask, I think. The sharp and throbbing pains in my chest and side make me want to leave this place all the sooner.
Dyer, Erdrick, and myself make for the Haven again, and it’s almost like fate is waiting for us to get there. We turn a corner just in time to see a body fall from above and impact with an eerie silence. The three of us quickly move to the fallen, but Dyer keeps moving and signals back to us with an open palm to the ground. Erdrick nods to him and Dyer disappears around the corner. Obviously they saw something else that I completely missed. This body is covered in wounds, and barely dressed. As we kneel beside the deceased, his face starts to shift and slide off. Amid the torn remnants of bloodied pajamas and bed sheets, we find something bound by rope. With a sense of urgency and the feeling that we shouldn’t be staying around any longer than necessary, I place the bundle in my bag, Erdrick and I catch up with Dyer, and the three of us disappear into Haven.
In the back, we can discuss amongst ourselves without having to worry about curious minds and eager ears, but we wait. Keyleth, Fang and Zerif should be here soon, and they’ll no doubt see the body on their way. There’s a part of me that feels like we did something wrong when we took the bundle. I mean, we are C.L.O.U.D., but if someone had seen us without any idea of who we are and what we do, we’d be mistaken for thieves. Have to think fast and act faster.
This guy falls from the sky without any warning, apparently dead before the fall, or he died while falling. My first thought is that he has something that he’s trying to keep safe. So if he’s trying to keep whatever is in this bundle safe and we have company on the way, then we needed to get out of there quickly.
It’s starting to get late by the time we’re all together again, and the first thing Zerif asks is what we know about the body outside. We briefly explain what little we know, and he tells us that Breven is already here. Breven. I can safely guess he and Zerif had an exchange, and I’m glad I wasn’t there. I pull out the bundle and very bluntly tell them I’m not opening it. Those who can check for magical auras and whatever else without opening it before doing so. Inside is an assortment of portraits, trinkets, and subjective junk. Our victim must have been in a panicked hurry or suffering from delirium.
After the clutter is spread upon the table, something catches everyone’s attention. Something purple. And crystalline. And my heart sinks into my stomach, compounding my discomfort. The etchings, gold bands, and suggestive dark swirls within are ominous enough for me.
As Zerif and Erdrick begin a heightened conversation regarding the origin, purpose, and fate of the shard, Fang takes her own approach to examining the object. By carrying it off into a corner while everyone is busy with discussion. Very quickly she’s oppressed with a somber expression, and she drops the shard to the ground, moving away with haste. Foreboding, I would say.
A realization sneaks up on me, and I find myself taking to the portraits. I stare at the strangers’ faces. His wife? Children? They would want to know. And they would want to know why. Questions are piling up all around us, and it’s starting to get late. If we go anywhere for help with this, it’ll be the Rusted Wrench. The question arises: do we go now, or do we wait until morning? Most want want to wait until morning, but I think we should go now. I don’t want this shard doing something while we’re all asleep, or the same fate to befall one of us as its previous keeper. What if someone is looking for it? Or even tracking it? If we wait, we could be allowing for someone, or something, to get closer.
Maybe it’s all in my head.
Maybe I’m not so far off.
I press that we go now. Despite the fact that I don’t feel I’ve made a very strong case, I think everyone senses how I feel about it. They agree, or at the very least they consent. I haven’t swayed them, their hearts did it for me. Or so I tell myself. I recollect the dead man’s belongings with the exception of the shard and place them back in my bag. I’ll keep them safe for now. What of the shard?
Eventually it finds its way back into my bag, but the decision doesn’t sit well with everyone. We’re ready to head back out and for the Rusted Wrench, but as Zerif passes me toward the door, he makes a not-so-subtle attempt at relieving me of my bag. He continues through the door, smoothly. Very. Smoothly. But I understand. Portentous shards and halflings go together like the charred scrapings of a lizardman’s carcass and moist, delicious buttercake, topped with berries and a side of ice cold milk. Respectively.

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