| Skulkers In Valkith, Part 2|
|Another conversation between a reporting lieutenant and his Commander|
"Ah, yes, do come in. I trust you have some news for me?"
"I do, sir, but little of it is good news."
"Well, let's get it over with, then. Let's have your bad news."
"Well, after their encounter with that dragon, out agents easily tracked Nibar
and his companions to a druid's grove. They could not follow them in for fear
of being detected. They were able to gather a little intelligence on the
place, and its inhabitants, but the grove itself was quite well warded, against
"Let me see those papers, then.... Hm, yes, we were aware of that grove. It
is news that it's become so populous, though. And...Telwyn, hm...."
"Yes, Commander. A gnome who was temporarily housed at the grove. According
to the agents, he is no longer there. Had some sort of disagreement with the
"Usually turns out very poorly for the fools silly enough to disagree
with them, as you put it."
"Indeed. This Telwyn was worsted, but our agents believe that he managed to
escape without sustaining any grievous injury."
"Luckier than most, then. Something about the name...some kind of to-do with
him and the dead, some years ago. Been wandering here and there ever since,
turns up every so often, wears out his welcome again, moves on. Make note of
him, but I don't think we need spare any resources on pursuing that one."
"Yes, Commander. Ahem, to continue, very shortly after their last encounter
with Telwyn, the group emerged from the grove, albeit with a curious absence."
"Oh? Who were they missing?"
"It seems that the devotee of the goddess Threnody had departed some time ahead
of them, and our agents reported that he was headed in a direction entirely
separate from the rest of the group. The report made mention of the fact that
he was muttering to himself looked back over his shoulder several times before
he was lost to sight."
"Lost to sight?"
"Yes, sir. The agents determined that it was best to save their resources for
following the two primaries."
"Well, it's their decision, and probably for the best, at that. Still, that
one's been with them for a while. Might have been worth it to have given him a
litle accident on the highroad, see what information they could have gotten
from him. ...Bah, what-ifs and might-haves. Continue."
"Yes, Commander. It seems that our subject group headed directly for
"Drachenhorn. What in hell's belly could they want there? The little one
would get eaten raw and kicking in that town."
"Of that, the agents are not yet certain, sir. It could have something to do
with the increasing bounty on their heads."
"That damned lot of scoundrels still? How much now?"
"Their report claims that it has increased to 100 gold per head. And they
achieved some small success, after a fashion."
"Hm, what happened?"
"The subjects had joined up with an Amari caraven headed to the city. Accounts
were confused, but it seems they were ambushed by a group of undead. Led by
some kind of undead assassin. Slew their druid at one go."
"Can't say I'm surprised. That lot will resort to those methods. Boody and
brutal, might as well be in a war--but effective enough, I guess, at the right
"As you say, Commander. They managed to drive this thing off, and found
someone to raise their comrade...."
"What is it? It isn't like you to balk at unpleasantness."
"No, Commander, of course not. But if the report in full is to be credited, it
was Nibar who drove the thing off, after it had finished with the druid, while
the others were tending to the other undead."
"By himself. Doesn't sound much like our little kobold, does it? He's not the
sort to be flinging about fire and wrath."
"No, sir. Yet they state unequivocally that there was a ray of white light
that originated from him. They did acquire a number of tools for handling the
undead, in that monastery, Commander."
"Mm, yes, I remember. But this is all fairly standard, aside from the rather
brief death of their tree-hugger, wouldn't you say? I don't see the great bad
"That's what I was just coming to, sir. While in Drachenhorn, Commander, they
seem to have...well, to have vanished."
"As best the agents can determine, sir. They tailed the subjects to the elven
enclave. We know that they had been given rooms at one of the elven lodgings.
Then, in the night, there was some kind of trouble, a fire perhaps. Reports
here are quite sketchy. But they did not come out, and no bodies were found."
"Sketchy. And no bodies. If I didn't know you were overseeing this operation
personally, I'd tell you to have those agents quit the alehouses and get back
to their duty. We know he's able to transport himself over distances; maybe
they escaped that way."
"Yes, over, as such things are reckoned, quite short distances. The agents
assure me that if such magic had been used, they'd have found out about it.
They did note some kind of faint magical aura, once they were able to move in
for a closer examination. Of a kind they'd not encountered before. I did
press them, Commander, and they said it was twisted, almost tortured, if one
could say such a thing of magical energies. As if we'd held it for
questioning, given it over to the Interrogators, tossed what was left into the
dungeons to rot for a couple of years, and then turned it loose again on the
"Hmph. If they've gone plane-hopping, then we've no hope of keeping up with
them. But they can't do that themselves, yet, by your account."
"No, sir. I am confident that that intel is correct."
"That is bad news. Maybe worse than we know. ...Well, the best we can for now
is to have your agents keep looking for them. Tell them to double-time it and
no breaks till they've picked them up again. They're authorized for full
expenses, all methods short of bloodshed. Whatever it takes, but find them."
"Of course, Commander. If I may...?"
"Part of you being here alone for these briefings is so you can offer a candid
"Are they really worth those kinds of resources, sir? I realize that both of
our primaries are unusual, in both threat and opportunity, but aren't they just
exiles? Neither of them even have much useful intelligence to offer up to the
humans in Kiergard or Drachenhorn."
"You're right, or least you should be. But something else is going on here.
Something, I don't know, shadowy, that has something to do with here, with
Valkith. And especially when it has any bearing on Valkith or the Bloodskull,
I can't stand not knowing."
"Whatever resources, whatever means, short of blood. Find them, and stay hard
on them from now on. If possible, I want a record of everything they say, down
to the details of what they say in their sleep."
"I'll see to it, Commander."
|From the journal of Nibar The Nervous|
Contributor: Chris Schuettpelz