Campaign of the Month: October 2010

Wyrmshadow Campaign Setting

Varen Gilles in... A Stigma of Guilt

Session C-3

Michael Graziano as Varen Gilles

Varen had just come along for the ride, after all. He had never been to Drogynia, and had nothing better to do. When Reks approached him, he already had two others, Moon Duskbane and Maerlyn Zau’Ombra, for the muscle on this run, so really all he needed Varen for was an extra set of eyes. When they arrived at the Drogynia Airship Docks, a 33-story glass and stone tower on the southern edge of the Holy City of Drogynia, Varen felt a sudden desire to find the ship they would use to make the return trip to Shidi Ma.

Reks said he had business to attend to back in Kouten anyway, and something about this whole trip was giving Varen an uneasy feeling. He honestly could care less about this Kelain guy they were there to help, and this whole place was crawling with members of the Order of Draconius, people not too friendly with the Current at present. As they climbed off of the airship S.N.S. Haiku, a light cargo freighter upon which the four Current members had stowed aboard for the twelve hour flight from Kouten, Varen offered to scout the docks for a viable transport out of Drogynia that would bring them back after Reks finished his business here.

Varen wasted no time in accomplishing this task, finding an airship called the S.N.S. Dodd to have plenty of space in which to hide, and sneaking a look at it’s flight plan. The Dodd was leaving Drogynia in three days, and Varen was planning to be on that ship, with or without Reks and the others.

While walking through the corridor leading to Platform 2-C, where the Haiku was docked, Varen noticed the approach of a trio of individuals wearing armor that simply reeked of the Order. Two of them were wearing the traditional blue and silver armor with gold accents, whereas a third, a lovely blonde woman, was wearing an expensive looking white dress. Varen could easily tell that this woman was important, and he picked up a hint of an Imperian upper-class accent in her tone as she spoke:

“The dockmaster said that the Haiku was on Platform 2-C, berth 5. It should be this way.”

Varen had to think fast. A set of diagonal support struts held the cieling of this corridor in place about ten feet above him, the two walls of the corridor were made of solid, crystal-clear glass. With incredible acrobatic prowess, Varen sprung against one of the glass walls, placed the ball of his foot against it, and pushed himself up to take hold of one of the criss-crossing diagonal struts. By the time the three Order members entered the hallway, only a few seconds after Varen first caught wind of their presence, the Current brigand was perfectly concealed and completely undetectable.

One of the two soldiers, a guard named Willis, asked the woman in the white dress an off-handed question, gaining a slight disappointed sigh from the other, older guard:

“Mame Solenara, why did you ask Rynee and Jaden to stay downstairs? Didn’t you bring them along to help with the inspection?”

The blonde, Mame Solenara, paused and looked out the glass wall of the hallway, out into the pristine artistry of Drogynia, and took a deep, comforting breath:

“No, my dear Willis. I asked Rynee along in case the inspection went well, and I asked Jaden along in case it went poorly.” She turned to face the two guards, and Varen got a good look at her face. He didn’t recognize her, but Mame was a title, like Sir, that was bestowed upon female knights, and by the look of her dress and her posh, urbane posture, he guessed that she was a member of the Imperian aristocracy. Perhaps her knighthood was a formality of her stature? Didn’t matter. Varen hated aristocrats. Hell, he hated pretty much everyone.

Willis said that he didn’t understand, which caused the other guard to reply, brusquely, that it wasn’t his job to understand, just to follow Mame Solenara’s orders. Solenara shook her head:

“No, no, Alistaire, it is quite alright. Willis is right to be confused. The cargo on this ship is absolutely vital to the survival of our world’s fragile peace. Should anything have happened to it, as I fear it may have, then all may be lost. Come. We haven’t time to lose.”

Varen let the trio leave, deciding to take advantage of his perfect hiding spot and await their return to hear more about this important cargo. He was aboard the Haiku for over half a day, and he never saw anything that seemed that important.

Moments later, he could hear their voices returning from the platform, tainted with anger, fear, and disgust:

“Those Current bastards! They must have stolen the cargo!”

Varen’s eyes widened. They had done no such thing!

“I didn’t think they would have the audacity to do anything this brash…”

Solenara, pacing in a circle a few feet below Varen, replied: “Oh, the Current are many things, and brash is CERTAINLY one of them. I would not put this past them.” Willis looked to Alistaire and asked him: “Did you see those markings? That Current graffiti? To think they would steal something like that and be proud of it!”

Markings? Graffiti? A Current tag claiming credit for a theft wasn’t common, but it also wasn’t unheard of. The problem was, Varen knew for certain that Reks, Moon, Mae, and himself were the only Current members aboard the Haiku, and none of them left his sight for the entire 12 hour trip. He had to get a closer look at the ship, see these markings for himself, and try to get to the bottom of this. It looked to him like someone was setting the Current up for this theft…

“This is horrible. Just horrible. We have to search for them. These thieves must be apprehended. Our cargo must be retrieved. Hundreds of thousands of lives depend on this!” Solenara’s words carried great weight, and got Varen’s attention. Whoever took this cargo shouldn’t be allowed to keep it, and perhaps more important, shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it by shifting the stigma of guilt onto the Current! As the three Order members left and descended to a lower level to begin their search, Varen took advantage of the opportunity to sneak back onto the platform and check out the Haiku.

Back on the platform, a number of dockworkers busied themselves stacking crates offloaded from the Haiku, using a Crystech Loading Crane to hoist the heavy cargo onto the platform, then sorting through the crates by hand. Two dockworkers argued over manifest documentation on the left side of the platform, whereas a sole laborer took turns working and chugging from his secret flask, careful to hide it from his supervisor. Varen noticed that there was definitely cargo being unloaded, and he wondered if the Order just accidentally searched the wrong ship. But they weren’t stupid. Something wasn’t right here, and Varen needed to get a closer look at those crates.

He swiftly wheeled himself around the corner and somersaulted behind some of the crates, hiding from the pacing dock supervisor as he darted back and forth to check on the inebriated dockworker and the other two workers on the other side of the platform. Sensing his opportunity, Varen leapt and cartwheeled behind another, closer set of crates, one of which was recently opened, likely by Solenara and her two guards. He reached inside the crate to take a hold of its contents, producing a piece of scrap metal, worthless, heavy, and definitely not something that would be shipped on an expensive private cargo freighter like the Haiku. Nobody would ship this stuff to Drogynia, which means somebody switched this stuff out for whatever the original cargo was. Varen noticed something on the outside of the ship, a mark of some sort, emitting a feint magical glow. However, he was still thirty feet away, and he couldn’t get a clear view of it from that distance.

The dock worker nearest him was finally caught with the flask in hand by the supervisor, who rushed over to grab him by the shoulder and yank him toward the other side of the platform, chastising him loudly the whole time. This was the opportunity Varen needed! He dashed across the platform, slid the last ten feet to drop into the maintenance ditch alongside the ship berth where the Haiku sat in dock. He crossed silently toward the marking, discovering the symbol of the Current emblazoned in glowing magical markings on the outside of the ship, highlighted by a vibrant purple glow. He could see several of the markings on some of the cargo being unloaded as well. He cursed internally. If he was with the Order, he would believe the Current did this, and if it was as important as Mame Solenara made it out to be, then the Current and everyone in it may have just become public enemy #1, even though they had nothing to do with it. With the Order, it was always guilt by association. He had to get Reks this information before all hell broke loose. He had to get out of this dock…

Suddenly, he saw a maintenance worker coming around the fore of the ship, scraping sediment off of the wooden outer surface of the ship. The maintenance worker met Varen eye-to-eye, and for a moment, the two just stared at each other. The maintenance worker slowly stopped scraping while Varen tried to bluff, saying he was also there to inspect and repair the Haiku. The maintenance worker responded poorly to Varen’s clumsy lie, screaming like a wounded child and trying to run away. Fortunately, he tripped over the ledge leading up from the maintenance trench to the platform above, which gave Varen the opportunity to make his move. He thought it would be best to run into the ship, find someplace within, and hide. As he ran through the ship, he eventually came face to face with the sole remaining crewmember of the Haiku, who was reaching clumsily for his cutlass when Varen casually whirled out his hand crossbow and planted a bolt through the crewmember’s right eye and out the back of his skull. Varen ran past, eventually reaching the aft cargo doors, where he realized the ship wasn’t as great a place to hide now that all the cargo had been emptied onto the platform.

Luckily, the dockworkers and guards were collected on the other side of the ship, without and within, so he was able to hop out of the aft cargo doors and shimmy his way down to the platform. He made his way back to the central area, planning to hop into the elevator when he got there. However, an armed guard and three dockworkers blocked his progress, and he had to duck into the nearest stairwell instead. He descended ten flights of stairs before the sounds of his pursuers could be heard both a floor above and a floor below in the same stairwell as he was. He dove out onto the 23rd floor, dismayed when he saw an Out of Order sign on the elevator and the only other accessible stairwell blocked by construction debris it would take far too long to clear.

Company was coming, and he had to think fast. Noticing a small metal statuette sitting on a pedestal near the broken elevator doors, Varen grabbed it and hurled it out of the nearby glass wall, shattering it, then dove out through the hole. He whirled around, facing the building, and buried the hooked end of his sword into the same glass wall about five stories down. His sword’s edge cut into the stone of that story’s floor section, allowing him to crawl up into the building once more. He pried his sword free, dashed into the elevator, and let out a brief sigh as it brought him down the rest of the way to the street level.

As he ran out of the front of the building, he could make out a group of warriors doing battle with some Kobolds in the park across the street. He wondered aloud: “Kobolds? In Drogynia?” before shaking his head and dashing to the east along the Grand Concourse Avenue. He was new in town, and had no idea where to go for help, so he began frantically displaying the Current’s hand gesture, hoping someone would catch sight of him and come to his aid. The guards were right on his heels when he noticed a black-hooded woman with glowing red eyes displaying the same hand gesture. Finally, he wasn’t alone anymore.

The woman was Maerlyn Zau’Ombra, one of the Current members he had come with on the Haiku. She was accompanied by a Kobold wearing traditional ninja gear. Seeing that he was being chased, she took a gray flannel overcoat twelve sizes too big off the display of a clothing vendor and threw it over him as a makeshift disguise. Another anonymous Current member ran up and handed Varen a pair of sunglasses. The Kobold struck up a fake, ongoing conversation with Varen as two Order guards passed nearby. The bluff succeeded, and Varen finally made good his escape.

From beneath his hood, Varen noticed and looked up into the eyes of an attractive, pink-haired woman accompanied by a cougar, a pair of playful ferrets, and a twittering robin. She non-chalantly flashed him the Current’s hand gesture, and he nodded and beckoned her to follow the three of them inside a Current hideout. They made their way through the hideout, a seedy teahouse filled with the sound of low jazz-like music and heavy pipe smoke, to sit at a small, round table in the far corner of the place.

The woman introduced herself as Aelanah Beastfriend, and asked what was going on. Varen told Aelanah and the two others seated at the table, Maerlyn Zau’Ombra and Yadykath Rathsqar, that they had a huge problem. Apparently, the ship that Varen, Reks, and the others had stowed away aboard, the S.N.S. Haiku, was supposed to be carrying something really important, something Mame Solenara of Imperia said was: “vital to the future of our fragile peace.” Whatever it was, it wasn’t on board the ship, and they found signs that the freight had been hijacked and stolen by The Current. Then, they found Varen, knowing him to be a Current member, and gave chase. He managed to escape, but it looks like someone is setting the Current up as the fall guys for this theft.

Whatever this cargo was, it was important enough to send a “big shot” like Mame Solenara Calbane all the way from Imperia in order to inspect it. Everyone at the table believed that whoever had this cargo shouldn’t be allowed to keep it, and if it was that important to “our fragile peace”, then it should probably be returned to where it belongs before all hell breaks loose and The Current becomes a pariah. It was mutually decided that someone should try to find out what was supposedly taken from the S.N.S. Haiku and report back on the Order’s progress in their investigation. As she had ingratiated herself to the Order by aiding them against the Kobolds in Concourse Park earlier, Aelanah volunteered to be the Current’s spy within the Order. She left at once to find the Order team, knowing that by now, they should be heading back to their nearby barracks at the corner of Sawkin Street and Grand Concourse Avenue.

Meanwhile, Mae, Varen, and Yadykath left the hideout and made their way toward the Leviathan’s Intestine, a network of caves to which Reks and the others left a while ago. They had bad news to deliver. Their lives just got a whole lot more complicated…

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Chapter C-1: Sins of the Fathers Preview: Kobolds in Drogynia?
Chapter C-2: The Current in… Into the Leviathan’s Intestine
Chapter C-3: Varen Gilles in… A Stigma of Guilt
Chapter C-4: The Current in… Nykathia Awaits!
Chapter C-5: The Current in… A Burden of Prestige
Chapter C-6: The Current in… Arrivals and Departures
Chapter C-7: The Current in… Legacy of Pain, Part 1 of 2
Chapter C-8: The Current in… Legacy of Pain, Part 2 of 2
Chapter C-9: The Current in… Trials of Pain, Part 1 of 3
Chapter C-10: The Current in… Trials of Pain, Part 2 of 3
Chapter C-11: The Current in… Trials of Pain, Part 3 of 3
Chapter C-12: The Order & The Current in… To Slay the Darkness
Chapter C-13: The Order & The Current in… To Save the Light
Chapter C-14: The Current in… Prophecies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 1 of 3
Chapter C-15: The Current in… Prophesies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 2 of 3
Chapter C-16: The Current in… Prophecies, Epiphanies, and Tragedies, Part 3 of 3
Chapter C-17: The Current in… Time To Wake Up
Chapter C-18: The Current in… The Eternal and the Forever Changed
Chapter C-19: The Current in… The Tragic Tale of the White Lion
Chapter C-20: The Current in… Sealing of the Fates
Chapter C-20: The Current in… “The First Steps Are Always The Hardest…”
Chapter C-21: The Current in… “…On The Journey To The Rest Of Our Lives



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