Luna talked me into following our party to the Blackout Den, a fighter’s guild of some sort. I quickly set up my alarms in the rooms at the Chateau and pursued my companions. The night was cold in Everdusk and, though few people were still out in the streets, prying eyes still followed our strange band as we crossed the streets in the city until we came upon the odd stone building that was the Blackout Den
We were met with a cacophony of sounds as people went to and fro. My eyes followed a few of them escape into a back room that I later learned was for the contestants of the nightly fights. Others went forward through a hallway towards a large open room that I could not yet see. The people we found in here were a funny mix of people: short and tall patrons, holding nothing more than the keys to their homes and a few coins in a purse, and warriors both substantial and slender, wielding all manner of weapons and instruments of injury. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a large grin over Oromis’s face.
Slade, an uncommonly tall and strong human, met us near the entrance. I think he would have just passed us by had he not seen the battlerager in our party. As Oromis shoved each of us aside to get a better view, Slade introduced himself and the Ironfist Guild, the company that ran the Blackout Den. Spectators could watch the caged fights if we wished, but Oromis was all too eager to join in the carnage. He paid a hefty sum of gold to enter, laughing with Slade about how the bouts worked. Ezio joined him, also paying an entry fee. Eclipse surprised us all by wanting to get into an unarmed fight. We tried to dissuade her, but she seemed to think she would be just fine.
I passed Oromis my shield in case he should want it, and to Ezio I gave my Gem of Brightness. Luna, Hebo, Petra, and I went down the hall to the spectator’s seats. We sat high up on stone benches overlooking a large iron cage. Though none of us said it, we all felt ill at ease seeing that the sand inside the cage had an odd brownish-red tint to it. Hebo and Petra tried ordering drinks from the wait staff while Luna and I focused on the cage. She thought this would be fun, and I must commend her desire to distract herself from the bad news we had heard just an hour earlier.
An announcer (Slade himself, actually) came down to the cage and welcomed us all to the Blackout Den. He promised “good fights” this evening, noting that three of the fighters tonight were newcomers. The first fight was announced: “Oromis Blackguard versus Angara the Unbreakable!”
I leaned down to Hebo. “Blackguard?”
“We never asked, I guess,” replied the goblin.
Oromis was wearing his usual spiked armor and the mask of horns on his head. He separated Flamebreaker into its two pieces, one in his right hand and the other strapped to his back. My shield was on his left. He clanged the axe and shield together loudly, riling up the crowd. When he turned to face his opponent, he (and we) saw a tortle wielding two long swords. Angara was covered in battle scars across his scales and he wore thin leathers about him, no doubt to keep him fast and free to attack.
The fight began and Oromis immediately began to growl, glowing in a faint orange light. He rushed forward immediately, slamming his axe down onto Angara’s swords. The swords failed to block the attack and Angara took the hit in his shoulder. But Angara wiped away the blood and tried to vault around and over Oromis. The shield took a few hits before Oromis cast it aside. He returned Flamebreaker back to its original two-headed form and began to bear down on Angara. After a particularly hard strike, Angara’s shell cracked and he swooned. The Unbreakable caught himself and raised his blades one final time. Oromis shouted something in Dwarvish that we couldn’t understand and punched Angara in the face. Angara grinned, spat some blood onto the sand, and fell backwards.
The crowd roared. “We did not know we had an actual Battlerager in the cage tonight!” laughed Slade, raising Oromis’s arm and cheering him on. Medical staff hauled Angara away and Oromis slipped back into the fighter’s staging area.
The next match would begin in a moment. I focused on my alarms, but nothing had been tripped. I turned to my companions to inform them of this but instead found them all eating various treats and food, having earned themselves each some coin in a wager. Oromis won the fight, and they all won some gold.
“Next, we have the newcomer The Shredder versus the Great Momento!” announced Slade. Eclipse stepped into the cage, opposite a blue-skinned tiefling.
“The Shredder?” I said to Hebo.
“That’s a good one,” replied Hebo. “You know, the claws?”
“That makes sense.”
The fight was over almost as soon as it began, much to the dismay of the crowd and the Great Ones. Eclipse lost, but barely. Momento was a monk and immediately flew into a flurry of blows against Eclipse. But the Cleric was remarkably fast and dodged each attack. She turned and channeled magic into her strike, scratching Momento and sending him reeling. He was almost defeated in one blow! He returned the strikes, getting in a few good jabs, before Eclipse attacked again. This time, Momento was ready for the strike and counterattacked with a fiery rebuttle. A hot flash exploded in the cage and the crowd gasped. Eclipse lay defeated and Momento staggered before falling down. He was up last, but that was enough for Slade to declare him the victor.
Momento helped Eclipse up and they both laughed as they walked back to the fighter’s room. Oromis clapped the tabaxi on the back and said something. It must have been funny because Eclipse laughed heartily as she magically healed herself.
The last fight was announced. “Bromm versus Caeda Norgrund!”
“I think I understand,” I said to Hebo. “They are using code names so as to not attract attention to their real identities.”
“Well, Ezio probably is,” said Hebo. “But Oromis was just being himself, and Eclipse probably thought The Shredder was a super cool name.”
“Super cool,” I mused.
I mean no offense to our assassin friend, but I honestly did not expect him to win his match. Ezio was immediately struck by Caeda’s overly large hammer. He gasped, spitting blood, but managed to dodge away from the next few attacks. He dove, firing an arrow into Caeda’s armor, stopping her charge. Ezio wiped the blood from his eyes and drew the Sons of Slate, wildly slashing. The attacks were enough! Caeda was temporarily blinded by the blood in her own eyes and threw her weight behind her hammer. Ezio dodged and, fast as lightning, stabbed twice. Caeda dropped the hammer and fell, announcing her yield.
After the battles, we decided we needed some rest. My magic was mostly spent from trying to hide in plain sight, so I accompanied Petra, Eclipse, and Oromis back to the Sailor’s Chateau. Oromis was bragging about his victory and I honestly felt it would be good for me to purchase drinks for him and the Great Ones. Evidently, I do not fully understand how much drinks should cost. Eclipse told me that one gold piece would be sufficient, and the drinks were not all drunk by the time we went to sleep.
Ezio had other plans to which he needed to attend, though I never learned the full details. He went to a graveyard he knew in the outskirts of Everdusk. Hebo and Luna accompanied him, not wanting any of us to be alone. At the graveyard, he began searching for a certain headstone, informing Hebo and Luna that he needed to perform a specific ritual here.
They came to the back end of the graveyard and found a woman in tight leathers and a cloak. She stood with her back to them, facing the grave that Ezio sought. She mentioned that Ezio was “Spider’s Rookie” and traded cryptic words with him. Hebo and Luna tried to turn invisible to avoid her gaze, but she could evidently still either see or sense them. Amused, she moved away from the grave and let Ezio approach it before vanishing. Hebo said he could sense the form of a bat as she did so.
“Why do you hang out with spiders and bats?” he asked.
Ezio was surprised. “Bats?”
While they briefly discussed this, Ezio began digging up the grave. He came upon the interred body and placed the Sons of Slate upon it. Luna questioned him about it, but Ezio just waved. “Don’t worry about it. It’s just important,” he said. They left the graveyard and came back to the Chateau.
So now, what should we do now that we are here in Everdusk? And how long should we stay?
We did not have any immediate answers to this, but eventually decided that we should get some rest while in town. Oromis, Petra, and I would head over to the Menagerie in the morning and see about selling the dragon parts. With Petra there, we could hopefully better negotiate the cost of the items and earn what we need. Ezio wanted to finish his ritual with the Sons of Slate before going to meet with the Yellowjackets and find out about the bounty for Harama Stonefist. Hebo, Luna, and Eclipse wanted to return to the Blackout Den and purchase some new equipment before doing some general shopping.
The next day was eventful to say the least. Oromis, Petra, and I sold Renshato’s remains for a large sum of gold. As we were leaving, the people in the Menagerie asked us about Renshato’s skull. It was customary to mount it on the wall with the names of those that slew it. I did not care about this, but Oromis did. He told them to write “Oromis Blackguard and The Great Ones”. Petra scoffed, and I guess I understand. Technically, Hebo slew the dragon with a cannon, but it did not matter to me. Renshato was dead, for better or for worse, and we had a large collection of coins.
Petra then disappeared. She said something about wanting to explore the town a bit more and was gone. Oromis and I separated, too. Oromis went to meet with Ezio, while I went to investigate the strange building we saw yesterday. It was an enormous tower of copper, gold, and steel, rising far above everything else in Everdusk. I guessed it was arcane in some way, but I could not understand how. And, strangely, it had no door.
So I did the best I could: I knocked on a wall and cast a spell to make the sound exceptionally loud. Passersby looked at me strangely, either because I am Warforged or because I caused a ruckus by striking on a copper wall. Regardless, I was momentarily met by another Warforged named Bruteglad, shaped like a strange bird creature with perhaps less emotion than myself. I asked if he was the master of the tower, to which he said no. But he led me around the tower to an entrance that appeared in the wall, telling me that his master was inside.
This was the Tower of Zerrick, I soon learned. Zerrick was a human artificer of much renown. He wore simple clothes for the most part, save for the tubed and glowing gauntlet on his right arm. He was Rael Zerrick, an arcanist from the Academy Arcanum.
With no modesty whatsoever, I was completely shocked and in awe at seeing this man. He was an artificer like me! But he was certainly much stronger, perhaps stronger than Number Eight. And I am happy to write that he was in awe of me, too! Bruteglad was his creation, but it was a much different type of Warforged. Zerrick had heard of me and my brothers, saying that we were a step ahead of all other Warforged in history and that most other Warforged were done in mimicry of us.
I quickly produced Number Eight’s Book of Artifice. I explained that the book was Eight’s notes and inventions and that it included detailed instructions on how to create a Thunder Cannon. But my love had died before he could finish the book, and much of the notes that he wrote were written in code and I could not decipher them. Zerrick agreed to let me become his apprentice if he could look at Eight’s book and use my own body as a reference and source of study. I would not return to my friends until late in the night as Zerrick and I were busy talking, writing, and studying throughout the day. We only stopped because he needed to eat. I am not burdened with such a weakness, but I would never say that to my new master.
Hebo, Luna, and Eclipse returned to the Blackout Den. Hebo had spoken to Slade last night about exchanging weapons with the guild. After the exchange, the Great Ones had gotten rid of some of our excess weaponry and Hebo had a brand new rapier, perfect for his size. Hebo also tried to sell “performing arts” to the Blackout Den, but Slade was uninterested. Hebo was very discouraged, and Luna and Eclipse guided him back outside. Frustrated, Hebo found a few different candy stores and bakeries and purchased what Luna described as “far too much” chocolate and ate most of it himself before getting into an almost drunken state. Luna carried Hebo back to the Chateau while Hebo muttered about chocolate milk and how no tavern in town seemed to have any of it.
Oromis had met up with Ezio to go to the office of the Yellowjackets and meet with Say’ri, the aarakokra in charge of the group. Behind closed doors, they learned about the bounty we received back in the Redstone Canyons. Harama Stonefist, called by the Yellowjackets as The Slasher, had escaped the Obsidian Garrison months ago. No one knew how he escaped. Before the escape had occurred, another Yellowjacket in the vicinity had been killed – possibly silenced. Since Stonefist’s breakout, a few individuals in Everdusk had gone missing. Say’ri told Oromis and Ezio that the people who disappeared were all high-ranking individuals in the Dark Suns Guild.
The Yellowjackets believe that Stonefist has at least two more targets in Everdusk. The first was the High Judge that sentenced Stonefist to the Garrison, a female human named Dai’Chi. The second was a human male Magistrate named Sumeragi, whose son was Stonefist’s most recent murder.
Ezio received a description of Stonefist: a shifter with long, razorlike claws. Oromis suggested setting a trap but thought it would be best if the Great Ones conferred together before we made any plans. Say’ri promised further information if our party informed her of our plans and progress. Ezio and Oromis excused themselves and left the Yellowjacket’s office.
It was night when I received a magical message from Hebo, asking me to return to the Sailor’s Chateau for a team meeting. I tried to find an excuse to stay with Master Zerrick, but they needed me. I asked Master Zerrick if I could return tomorrow and possibly purchase any magical items he might have crafted. This would be good for us to have anything to give us better protection, but I also wanted to fund his research further in any way I could. I still had the bag of coins from the Menagerie. I think the Great Ones will appreciate my purchasing anything to better protect them.
Back at the Sailor’s Chateau, Eclipse and I cast a spell to muffle our voices from the rest of the tavern while we talked. Oromis told us his plan. At the moment, the High Judge and the Magistrate are both hidden in safe houses somewhere in Everdusk. We will, over the course of a few days, create a rumor that their locations have been compromised and they will need to relocate. We can disguise ourselves as the High Judge and move into a new secret house, then lay a trap for when Stonefist arrives. We do not have to know the High Judge’s real location or know what she looks like. We just need to create the rumor.
In the morning, Ezio and Oromis will present the plan to Say’ri and get the rumor started. Luna, Eclipse, and Hebo will accompany me to Master Zerrick’s tower to purchase magical items. After that, we will wait and see what happens.
But as for me, I am going back to work. I have a list of things I want to start making, should Master Zerrick have the time and patience for my new passion.