USD Scales of War

Session Eleven: Sarshan's Tower

After thwarting Modra’s plans to sabotage Sarshan’s operation, the heroes take a short break to recover. From the foundry, the heroes make their way to the lower level of the tower by way of Sarshan’s private tunnel access. Entering quietly, the group finds itself in an expansive library, filled with shadar-kai researching various topics. As they work to defeat these thugs, one of the shadar-kai flees to an adjoining chamber, causing reinforcements to come quickly. The fight is long, hard, and brutal, but the heroes are eventually victorious.

The reinforcements were apparently arguing with a dark one and his shadow wraith bodyguard. Also, Sarshan’s tower is centered around a levitation lift of some kind, creating an awkward but quick way to ascend or descend levels.

As they investigate the first floor, they hear hushed barking in another room. Listening at the door, the party hears a group of gnolls discussing their alliance with Sarshan. They mention the purchase of weapons and support, as well as something called “Wicked Fang.” After negotiations with the hyena-like people break down, a fight breaks down and they are easily defeated.

Ascending to the upper levels of the tower, the heroes discover a plush garden. On one side of the garden, an inactive teleportation portal sits. As they look around the garden, they are ambushed by swarms of shadow scarabs and a bullete: Sarshan’s personal pet. The fight is a quick one, but before they can catch their breath, the tower gets much more crowded. As the last of the scarabs is squished, the thunder of boots and the shouts of many voices echo up to the ears of the group. It is not long before they are surrounded by shadar-kai on all sides, blocking every exit. These soldiers are led by a grizzled captain, Thannu, with two shadow hounds Fang and Rudy.

Thannu orders the heroes to stand down, or they will be massacred. Suddenly, the garden is illuminated by a pulse of white light. The archway to the south flares as it reveals the black shrine, and a familiar figure steps from that chamber to this. It is the old veteran the heroes spoke to in the Happy Beggar, but he is no longer stooped with the appearance of age and his scarred skin turns gray before their eyes. The guards around them salute the shadar-kai, who doesn’t hide his surprise at seeing the heroes. He identifies himself as Sarshan and demands an explanation.

The heroes have finally come face to face with the shadar-kai. Thannu quickly explains the damage the heroes have done, eager to kill the group. Even as the captain finishes, a warrior enters at a run, calling to his master. As he approaches to whisper in Sarshan’s ear, the shadar-kai looks surprised. He speaks: “The charges leveled by my captain warrant torture and death. However, I am told that an episode of sabotage in my foundry appears to have been thwarted, and that the traitorous Modra has been executed by persons unknown. What might you know of this?”

After the group readily explains their part in the dark creeper’s death, Sarshan nods thoughtfully. “As far as you’ve managed to infiltrate my operations, I can only assume you know a little of who I am. My wealth and reputation turn largely on honor, obligation, and secrecy. When I spoke to you of Modra in the Happy Beggar, I hoped you would kill him and save me the risk of more exposure than he had already caused. The fact that you journeyed here to do the job is a surprise, but for your part in ending his threat to me and whatever he meant to do in the foundry, I am in your debt. However, for your role in the death of my personal guards, you are more greatly in mine. Here is a bargain that balances the obligation for all of us. Join me.”

After extending the offer, the arms dealer elaborates by explaining that only in his service will they live long enough to enjoy the fruits of their bravery. “In a month, or six, or a year, your world will be a place you will not want to live. Join me here instead.”

After the heroes inquire, he admits that he cannot reveal much of the plan for professional reasons, but assures the group that they do not want to know what will happen to Overlook.

The party quickly deliberates, and determines to play along with the shadar-kai. Unfortunately, the shadar-kai sees through their lies. The party feels a familiar shaking beneath their feet as another tremor rises and falls quickly. The shadar-kai’s dark eyes blaze, but he smiles as he shakes his head. “Your conviction is to be commended. A pity it failed you in the end.”

Then suddenly, an ear-splitting explosion shakes the tower. Near the eastern side of the chamber, one of Sarshan’s guards shouts out: “My lord! The foundry is in flames!” The guards are in motion, Sarshan all but ignoring you as he barks orders. One group is sent to the foundry, and another receives orders to keep the mercenary camps under control. Sarshan takes a last squad of chainfighters with him as he moves for the lift. Thannu and his panthers are the only ones left with you.

“If I was as cruel as my reputation implies, I would send you back to watch your world die,” Sarshan calls. “Be thankful that I am merciful.” Then to Thannu: “Kill them.”

The shadar-kai sergeant is a well-trained battle champioin, and his two hounds are vicious in their attacks. The fight is a brutal one, but the heroes are eventually victorious. Unfortunately, the tower is coming down around them as the shadow rift of Umbraforge is erupting out of control!

Reconfiguring the teleportation portal as quickly as possible, the heroes rush to escape the crumbling building. The party is just fast enough to make it through the portal, and back to the Shadowfell gate as Umbraforge is swallowed in chaotic shadow. Without a second glance, the heroes of Overlook arrive back in the World exhausted. Prashant and Asanna rush into the secret chambers beneath their almshouse to find the heroes battered and bloody. The two retired paladins quickly call for the city watch to clean up and investigate the mess. The heroes are eagerly thanked by all involved and earn a well-deserved rest.

Were Sarshan’s threats real? If so, how long before another invasion threatens the Vale? What consequences will result from the heroes defying the shadar-kai? Only time will tell!

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The_Galaxy

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