Guild of the Golden Scorpion

Strange times! Strange echoes of the spellplague, perhaps – we all have odd … memories. Deja-vu. I am not sure how deeply the malady goes, not sure sometimes what is dream, memory, or honest reality. Nevertheless, the cure seems straight forward: continue on, and perhaps it will all make sense later. Perhaps no cure at all, but cure or not: it is all we can do.

Temporal dislocation or no, I am reasonably sure that I am Baharash, student of war. From far [insert place where dragon born come from] I hail. I have been a mercenary, a minor officer in the armies of two “kings” and a duke (a captain for all of 4 days. at one point), and now simply part of the Guild of the Golden Scorpion: may our future of our company be happier than our past.

Baharash: level 6 Dragonborn Warlord. “Soldier” background. Since he’s warlord, low-ranking officer seemed to be appropriate. As for the name: it was generated. Supposed to be “Bharash”, but I had printing problems – not changing the name now. Cha-based “inspiring presence” warlord build. Str 16, I think. Physically, I think of him as big. Keeps his chainmail shiny and his sword correctly honed. Some of his high charisma – his “presence” on the battlefield – is simply from being tall, some of it is from being draconic. He is the group’s main healer, at present – Stand the Fallen and so on.

LG alignment, which a lot of people are nervous about playing. LG does not always mean “nice” and does not preclude killing for money, which is what a mercenary does. Some of the other characters are … not LG. Is Baharash as oblivious to the undercurrents as he seems? “I’m with these bad guys to keep them from becoming too bad” might sound like a phony justification, but the fact is that the job of keeping him sweet has indeed once or twice kept the rest of the characters from tipping too far down the alignment axis. Maybe the platinum one really does have a plan. Or maybe Baharash really does have trouble reading human facial expressions.

Always careful to never big-note himself in his journal – which is how I think a good officer should behave. He keeps the journal in hopes that his experiences might prove instructive, someday. What other legacy can you leave, when you are young and haven’t made your mark? Dying on the battlefield is a sober possibility.

Think Captain Carrot, of Discworld.

For more about the unhappy history of the guild, see the last year’s blog entries.

And so we – The Guild of the Golden Scorpion – found ourselves short on supplies. We all – Gesh, [What was the gnome’s name? knobbywinkle? Dammit, I can’t remember any other names. Veren? varian? This sucks. Must get a list.] – all departed for town, leaving our chambers in the hands of its odd guardians.

Approaching Fairhaven, we were met by a messenger – a boy, with an offer of work from his master, a bookseller. Leaving behind our intent to purchase supplies – after all, if we had work, then we might have to make other plans – we went to meet with this possible patron.

The bookseller’s home was rather what you would expect – every surface piled high with writings of one form or another. The bookseller himself was a trifle odd, although obviously a mage of considerable power. He described his mission for us: we were to go to a ruin and recover three valuable tomes. He would finance our mission and we could keep anything else we found but the tomes.

This seemed to us a very poor deal indeed. In return for nothing but hay for our horses, he was proposing that we render up three tomes each quite possibly priceless. His offer that we keep anything else we found was a non-offer: after all, the contents of the ruin were not his to give, and by right of salvage anything we found was ours anyway.

We suggested that a fairer offer was that we would sell these tomes on the open market, perhaps paying him some sort of finders fee for giving to us their location. At this, the old miser relented and produced a considerable bag of gems for our payment. We agreed to the deal – we would loot this ruin, and he would have first choice of three books we recovered, subject to the condition that we would have the tomes looked at by a temple and if they proved to be evil or dangerous they would be destroyed and we would forfeit payment. We will not be party to loosing banes on the world – commercial contracts notwithstanding. In return, the mage would finance the expedition and pay us this bag of gems.

Agreement all around, we proceeded to the gate – met there by horses and supplies furnished by the mage. We were to head north, through the whispering forest, to whispering rock (a well-known landmark, no doubt laying next to whispering river in whispering valley), there to meet guides who would take us to the ruins themselves.

It does not bother me that we drove a hard deal. The bookseller offered no reason of honour or right as to why we should undertake his quest – as far as we know, it is purely a matter of a book collector desiring certain books. His original offer was absurd, and if he would rather part with a considerable quantity of gems than bid on the open market for the books, I rather doubt that it is we who have cheated him.

All in all, a fair result. A soldier is worthy of the coin for which he risks his life, and it is no shame to demand it.

I am really pleased at the way Baharash tipped this cheap old bastard upside-down and shook him for loose change. A fun bit of play on the night, and appropriately in-character. We didn’t bother rolling diplomacy or anything – it was all played out.

The road was uneventful. At [meh], we turned off into the whispering wood – no doubt named for it pine trees. We came at last to an abandoned, partially burned out barn and elected to make camp there as the weather had turned unpleasant.

Our rest was interrupted during second watch: a human woman and babe entered the barn and beseeched aid: “they’re coming, my husband is outside!”. Without further ado we sallied forth. Time shifted oddly: it was no longer second watch, but dusk, and the barn was no longer burned down but whole and new.

Outside was a fallen man and a squad of dragonborn – my own race. We engaged. The fight was awkward, as they were trained to take advantage of small openings [they got opportunity attacks when you shifted] and we were unable to maneuver effectively, and so could not take advantage of certain teamwork moves. [Baharash in particular relies on buffing the combatants immediately around him: doesn’t do a lot of damage on his own.]

But we prevailed, reducing their numbers. As the last fell he transformed, changing into a blue dragon, and swore vengeance before flying away.

We returned into the suddenly rebuilt barn. The woman’s husband was beyond help on the road outside. She offered us, however, a reward – a chest with four large gems. We debated amongst ourselves and eventually agreed that we should take only three. As we reached to take our payment …

the world shifted back, and once again we were in a ruined, burned-out barn. Was it a dream or vision? There was one way to find out – we searched the barn, paying attention to the layout we remembered. In that spot where the chest was in our dream, there it lay in reality. We took its gems.

It seems that our experience was no mere vision, but that we somehow had travelled back some few years in time. A troubling prospect: for if that blue dragon was real, then he will still be alive now – older and more powerful. Dragons seldom forget their vows of vengeance. We have made a dangerous enemy.

As Jamie (the DM) put it … “Dum dum duummm!” A 4th ed blue dragon will be after us. it seems.

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