The Unfriendly Skies
First Three Sessions
13 Far Eyre, Sharn
Around noon, three separate groups converged on the loading bay. The first was impeccably dressed hobgoblin Humphrey securing the possessions of his august employer, Lecturer Thurg Omrish. The second was more colorful: A barely contained gnome by the name of Zinnia Elanora Barrasten (a novice wizard on “co-op” with the Expedition under the watchful eye of her Aunt Professor Barrasten and her minder the put-upon minotaur Jak. But it was the last arrival that would cause such a stir—the artificer Aldus Thunderspanner and his delivery of the mysterious Koldoran Piece.
That is when all chaos broke loose.
In the hold, a warforged suddenly broke loose from inside one of the crates and began assaulting the gathered, including the watchful Harbinger. While the Harbinger, Bosun Miri, and Jak focused on the warforged, the goblinoid porters cowered in seeming panic. However, as the warforged was felled, two surprised revelead themselves. First, the warforged was no warforged, but a changeling assuming its role. Secondly, the goblinoids were not cowering but retrieving weapons! The battle was still on!
The group worked separately against the mess. Zinnia called forth fire which scorched half of the belongings, one goblin, and the hobgoblin Humphrey. While the gnome apologized, her guard Jak was strangled by the bugbear who then used the larger minotaur as a shield against Miri’s follow-up assault. Trying to escape the mad gnome, Humphrey climbed some of the crates and rained down throwing blades done upon the goblins effectively. Finally, the last hobgoblin thug was felled, but not before something else happened.
The Koldoran Piece was stolen!
While the group fought in the hold, more goblinoids faces the artificer and his homunculi friends. He held them off with the assistance of some blademarks, but one managed to grab the Piece and abscond with it into the Sharn skies via a soarsled. As the dust settled in the hold, Sergeant d’Deneith arrived on the scene, and hearing Aldus’ protestations, ordered the Harbinger to follow the thief on one of the other soarsleds the assailants used. The impulsive Zinna followed, leaving the exasperated Jak to join as well. Miri, intent to defend the honor of her ship, also joined while the reluctant Humphrey tagged along, knowing his must or his master would be quite put out that the expedition was cancelled.
Chasing the thief through the airways of Sharn, the party weaved through open air markets, under skycabs, and in Jak’s case, through a cargo-cab with deleterious effect. An inspired Zinnia managed to tune the efficacy of her sled and careened ahead just in time to see the thief descend into an abandoned sewer in Lower Dura. In the dark, they found a cabal of House Tarkanan thugs lead by tall man with a purple-red aberrant dragonmark like a boil on his face. Battle was immediately joined!
The Harbinger implaccably approached the marked, knowing their despise for his kind. Jak and Miri also braved the sewage and were met by the ringleader’s lackeys. Humphrey tried his best to stay away from the sewage, but a failed leap soiled his fine vestments. During all of this, the meancing marked scion channeled the fell power of his mark to daze or throw-back his attackers. But the combined efforts of all, including a few well (and not so well) placed explosions from Zinnia, won the day.
The Koldoran Piece was retrieved, but upon the marked assailant (whom the captured for later questioning) was a note. It was clear that someone associated with the Expedition had arranged the attack; worse yet, it was only a distraction for some larger nefarious scheme that was left unidentified.
Someone was after the Expedition.
14 Sar Eyre, Sharn
Returning to the Ascendant, the five strangers made their separate ways. On the next day, while final preparations were made for the Morgrave University sponsored launch party, Professor Gourthan called the five together to ask them about the attack. It was clear from the interrogation of the prisoner that House Tarkanan was interested in the Koldoran Piece, but had no larger plans with regards to the Expedition. The group delivered the strange threat from the note, and Gourthan entrusted them to get to the bottom of the matter discretely. However, several of the party could not shake the notion that Gourthan was not as in charge of the Expedition as it seemed.
Someone else was in charge.
The five made separate efforts to discover what was going on. Many of the crew were absent on final shore-leave. One of the midshipmen was being tended for wounds along with a Blademark; Jak could sympathize due to a filthy disease that he had caught in the sewer. Little, it seemed, could be done before the launch party got underway.
The Gourthan Expedition Launch Party was a major social event of the season. Ambassadors, Dragonmarked scions, noted socialites and academics were all in attendance. Flitting through the crowd were the group, each keeping their eyes open. Humphrey spoke to a put out Aldus; the dwarf was certain that the Tarkanan would attack again but was more concerned with the presence of a mysterious kobold that had been associated with them in the past. The Harbinger and Miri both noted that the entertainment for the evening had been changed at the last minute—they were now dangerous drakes that would captivate the audience. But Miri noted one more thing: Midshipman Lyra Trashonen, who was responsible for the entertainment, was missing.
Just then, the cages keeping the menacing drakes fell open. Hordes of violent needlefang drakes began tearing at random party goers while flying drakes dived and pecked at those fleeing and a few larger drakes mauled anyone getting close to the access belowdecks. The group and the other members of the expedition did there best to fight the lizard menace. Professor Barrasten cooly called forth arcane force to battle back the drakes, showing up her more rambunctious niece. The Harbinger and Sergeant d’Deneith fought back-to-back, rallying the blademarks in the crowd. Lecturer Omrish did not fair as well when a swarm of the neddlefangs mauled him; but they began to fear his explosive temper as he began flinging scorched bodies over the railing left and right.
As the tide of the battle turned and crowd was clearing the decks, Miri spotted crewman Lyra slip belowdecks. Quickly following, they found themselves pressed by more hobgoblins blocking access to the artificer lab of the Ascendant. Dispatching the grunts, the Harbinger flung open the door to find Lyra and her mutated lighting guard drake protecting some sort of arcane device attacked to the elemental housing. After being hit in the neck by a dart, he also spotted out of the corner of his eye a small lizardfolk darter. The battle was tense with the darter keeping out of sight, poison knocking Humphrey down until Miri’s inspiration brought him back up. Even the Harbinger was bloodied in the fighting. But the battle seemed near winning when Jak entered the room.
Suddenly, the device on the housing flared in blue light, and flung the large minotaur against the hull. Zinnia recognized the signs: It was an arcane bomb capable of scuttling the ship! If they did not do something, the Ascendant would crash into the tower below, killing hundreds! More importantly, they’d cancel the Expedition!
The gnome rushed into the room, Jak and the Harbinger following. The latter two were able to bring down Lyra, but the lizardfolk, cursing in draconic, dropped the larger Harbinger with a well-placed stab. The next time the bomb flared, it flung Zinna and the Harbinger into the wall next to Jak. But the electrical shock was enough.
The Harbinger was dead.
Working against time, Humphrey managed to hold himself down while the bomb arced electricity long enough to disable it. As the others from above decks finally saw the scene, the four remaining party breathed a sigh of relief and began to mourn their recent companion.