Galean's Work

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Galean's Work

Post by Dungeon Master on Sat Oct 10, 2015 5:34 pm

Galean’s Work

Frowning, the gnome squinted at the hand-scribbled note. Turning it over quizzically, he examined it on the back as well. The light in the spacious basement wasn’t as strong as candlelight, and even with his supernaturally enhanced vision, he sometimes couldn’t decipher his own handwriting. Leaning closer to the glow moss, keeping the note stretched out before him, he ran his hand through his slim goatee, scratching his chin with thoughtful familiarity. Turning the note this way and that, catching the glow on the yellowed parchment, a small and well-used wrinkle appeared at the corner of his eye. “Hihi” he exclaimed loudly to no one but himself, “Khelben. That’s the key!” Having deciphered the keyword, he was easily able to read the note. His dragon eyes were strong enough that he could pretty much read the note without the light anyway, but the moss reminded him of home.

The note read: Khelben Arunson, Mage Defender of Waterdeep, High-and-Mighty Pompous Spellslinger (the gnome had added the last part for his own amusement, and it didn’t fail to elicit a giggle as he read it), has summoned everyone and their dog to Candlekeep. Not a scolding this time, something worse. The harpers are fecked.

Still giggling, the gnome merrily tied a red string to the pin attaching the note to the wall. Meticulously he strung the red twine across a couple of other notes, connecting it to a central charcoal drawing of two angry-looking mages staring equally angrily at each other. One in black with the letter K on an amulet, and one in white robes, with the letter E sown into his long white beard.

There were other notes on the wall. A lot actually. The spacious cellar now had a full wall dedicated to the many notes the harper agent had hung up. There was still plenty of space left, but Galean knew it would only be a matter of time before his work would spill onto the other walls as well.

He was not surprised when he heard the splash coming from the underground stream. His magical wards had been breached a long time ago, and he knew that someone was travelling the underground waterway. He also knew who it was, since they had agreed this meeting some time ago. Still, half of him was dragon, and those instincts forced him to turn about and scan for intruders who would steal his treasure. None of those were arriving of course, and there really wasn’t much treasure to be had in the large underground cellar. Galean could not suppress a smile when he saw the big fat red fish flop out of the cold stream. His face split in an unusually big grin, showing far too many teeth, and if there had been any onlookers they would certainly have mistaken his mirth for a very hungry smile.

The transformation was not fast. Nor could it be considered painless in any way. That was probably the only part of having the ring made, that the gnome regretted. The Red Herring Ring had been one of his better and funnier creations. It hadn’t taken him long to get it made in Sigil once the idea had come to him. He knew the druid was in pain, but it was hard for him not to roll around on the floor laughing at the comedy of the ring. How many adventurers worth their salt would want a magical ring that could turn them into a red fish once a day ? As magic rings go, that is a pretty ridiculous ring. As an added humorous touch, the druid always arrived naked, his clothes and gear usually materializing a few minutes later. That always made the gnome laugh. He couldn’t help it. Being a trickster was as much part of his nature as his dragon zeal. Although of late, the dragon part of him had been dominating his thoughts trying to cut through all the conspiracies.

“Are you finished flopping around on the floor there, my slimy friend?” Galean grinned, holding his little round belly from the laughter. Medo knew that there was no maliciousness in the question, but he still looked at his Harper sponsor with hurt in his eyes as he dripped ice-cold water on the stone floor. “Now there, don’t be a wet looser.” The gnome said with a twinkle in his eye, “grab one of the blankets over there and I’ll make you some of my famous stew. You’ll feel like your own, non-fishy self in no time.” Laughing his merry little laughter the gnome disappeared into another room at the back. Soon the cellar was filled with sounds of pots and pans rattling, and the smell of something warm and spicy.

Medo looked around in the low ceilinged cellar. If he stood up, he had to stoop over, his one shoulder brushing against the rough stone. Not a very comfortable position for a human of his size, so he decided to sit. Looking about, he located the blankets the gnome had been talking of. Easily seeing that neither would cover him enough to provide any more warmth than a handkerchief, the barbarian druid left them where they were. Actually, the room was pleasantly warm, and the smell from the kitchen intermingled with the exotic herbs that the gnome grew in the cellar. That was something the druid could appreciate. The connection between the supernatural and natural was such a natural thing for little creature that he had come to call a friend. Medo had been lost for a long time. Lost in bitterness and anger. The gnome had shown him that neutrality did not mean that everything had to be equal. With the right amount of pressure, anything could be equalized. Maybe that was why Galean was playing so many tricks on him – maybe it was a way to equalize the darkness that he had to deal with.

As his clothes started materializing in puddles of icy water, he wringed them and spread them out over the few scattered pieces of furniture. He had already gotten used to the temperature, and he knew his lack of garb would not bother the older Harper. Feeling more at home in his surroundings, Medo naturally nurtured the glow moss he came across that the gnome had ripped off the wall to get room for his web of strings and notes.

“What’s the news, my naked friend ?” the gnome yelled through the open doorway. Medo knew answering would be a waste of time. When Galean had started one of his masterpiece dinners, any sensible conversation would have to be repeated. Instead, he scuttled to a center point in the room, trying to make a bit of sense of the web of conspiracies the master Harper was tracking. It didn’t make much sense to the druid. He made out a city formed like a great ring, floating over a mountain. A citadel covered in black smoke. A walled monastery. A great forest. A black dragon. The tail of a luminous green worm. A beholder and a magical gate.

He knew from before that trying to decipher the scribbling of the Harper was futile without a key, and he quickly lost interest in the many notes. He knew a lot was going on that the Harpers were involved with, probably a lot more than the myriad of things the gnome planewalker had his claws in.

As the two of them sat down at the very small table and started eating, Medo begun his tale. He had successfully become an agent in the Silken Hand mercenary army, as the gnome had asked. The older harper listened intently to the tale, often correcting the young druid to tell him he was speculating, rather than recounting facts. There were three things in particular the master harper had asked his recruit to find out: Who was the leader of the Silken Hand ? Was it an evil organization ? What were their ultimate goal ? As Medo came to that part of the recount, the gnome stopped eating, listening intently on his every word.

“Master Galean. I have learned a lot from you, and I wholly appreciate your training in the Harper ways. I feel like a lowly acolyte, and you must bear in mind that what I tell you, I believe to be the truth, but you must judge for yourself.” Medo paused, and took a sip of his water. He did not know if he had enough information to answer the master harpers questions, but he would do his best to impress his friend.

“The leader of the Silken Hand is Sheik Emir Abu Jafar. All my questions to find out if any of the Planewalkers or someone from the Citadel are pulling the strings have come up short. I guess it is a possibility, but it seems highly unlikely. The Sheik is a revered and dominating figure that the inner circle of the Silken Hand both fears and highly respects. I have heard many tales of Sheik Emir Abu Jafar – most I expect to be exaggerations, but a good few of them I have heard many times over with very little variation. As you have taught me, it suggests that there is truth to them. The Sheik was once a member of the court of Pasha Pook in Calimport. He left the South with a full band of skilled agents, following not the Pashas orders, but rather the divine guidance of the God of Thieves. No follower of the Masked Lord today survive in the court of the Pasha, maybe in all of Calimport. Cyricists wiped them all out, prosecuted, killed or converted them to the church of the Prince of Lies. Of the group of seasoned killers the Sheik brought to the Far North, only three survived: Harun al-Rashied, Gom Jabbar and the Sheik himself.”

“The story goes that the Planewalker Five were also at war with the Dark Sun. The powerful group of planar lords were searching for an artifact called Goddrinker, and in so doing, ran afoul of the Black Sun. The Silken Hand were instrumental in protecting something of great value to the group, and an alliance was formed between their leader and the Sheik, to rid the North of the church of Cyric. Being followers of the Shadowlord definitely doesn’t make the Silken Hand a benevolent organization.” Medo mused. “I don’t think I would classify them as evil either, though many activities are definitely of that nature. You will find this interesting master gnome – in the Silken Hand, a group is referred to as a weapon, and an agent is a blade. The members of the Silken Hand see themselves as instruments, not good or evil, but rather something to be wielded for any purpose. I wonder if that is how the Lords of Occipitus view them as well ?”  Galean didn’t comment on the question. He still hadn’t told his friend that he was one of the original five lords of Occipitus. He was sure the harper in training could get the information readily enough; he just hadn’t made any effort to let him make the connection.

Skeptical by nature, the half-dragon quizzed the young barbarian druid at length on the values and rules of the Silken Hand. He knew that his fellow lord Darion felt in control of Canton, but he inherently distrusted anyone associated with the God of Thieves. He did not for a moment doubt that this Sheik would have an agenda of his own, and that something more was going on than what he now knew. Of course, that would not be information that a new recruit in the Silken Hand would be privy to. Even though he had not yet disclosed this to the young druid, he expected this assignment to be a very long and dangerous one for his young friend. To get to the bottom of this, he would need Medo to infiltrate the very top of the mercenary organization. Time was not going to be enough; he would have to prove himself beyond question to the Silken Hand and to the Sheik. As the druid continued his report, Galeans mind was already spinning with plots and counterplots to use his resources to propel his new agent into the upper echelons of the Silken Hand.
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