Life had a funny way of throwing your lot in with that of others, whether or not you liked it. Lilenia d'Lyrandar knew that simple truth altogether too well. She'd set out from her home of Blood Crescent some time ago, hell-bent on making her way to Sharn on her own. And now here she was, half a day's walk from the town of Moonwatch and sitting at a campfire with five other people whose lives had become entwined with her own through sheer chance. She glanced around, taking them each in.
The mage, Finariel Fairchilde, was still perhaps the biggest mystery to her. She knew little of his background and less of his age, only hearing again and again that the elf had an uncanny gift for causing trouble and coming out of it far easier than a normal person. His long-time partner and self-appointed bodyguard was a bit easier to understand, even if he was more antisocial: Zeth Mordan was a quiet, fierce-eyed tiefling and a Sword of the Silver Flame, and had stuck to Fin's side since they met. The paladin spoke little, but was always listening to everyone else, something that gave Lilenia the impression he was a spy at one point in his life. They were seated on a hollow log the way they always sat; with Zeth sitting to one side, polishing his armor, and Fin to the other, holding a lightstone aloft in one hand while pouring over a spellbook in his opposite hand.
"Is something troubling you, Miss Lilenia?" Finariel murmured in his quiet voice, not once moving his eyes from his spellbook. At his words, Zeth looked up, studying the young half-elf with a patient expression. She shook her head, feeling embarrassed.
"N-no. I was just thinking, that's all." she replied.
Certainly never a bad thing, came a chiming remark that echoed in everyone's mind, and Lilenia turned to face the next two companions in their little band. The owner of the psychic voice was a tall, young illithid named Kythyk. When she'd met the others at first, it struck Lilenia as astonishing that Zeth coexisted so easily alongside the mind flayer, rather than fulfilling his paladin's vow to eliminate the world of all evil. But as she came to know Kythyk, she realized what the tiefling had: despite what the peoples of Eberron knew of creatures like illithids, Kythyk was the ultimate exception. Unlike the rest of his evil race, the young mind flayer had no psychic connection to the other factions of his own kind, and thus had left them long ago, merely journeying all over the world to observe how other creatures lived and leaving them in peace.
"Ha! Only because that's all you do," Kythyk's partner snorted, drawing Lilenia's attention. Tatiana traveling with them was even more astonishing than Kythyk; the young rakshasa was considerably more peaceful than the others of her fiend-lord race, but just as formidable. Tatiana sought out her destiny among the mortals, looking to become a hero of legend, and so far her luck with such things had been sparse. She often had to resort to wearing a glamour in order to meet people initially, to prevent immediately being attacked because of what she was, and it took some time before she had earned enough trust to reveal her true face. Still, Lilenia had grown fond of the snappy tiger-woman, and eagerly took to heart any lessons Tatiana gave her in combat.
"Thinking is not a bad thing." Fin and Zeth chorused at once, neither looking up from their activities, and Tatiana rolled her orange eyes.
"Then allow me to be more specific," the rakshasa grumbled, "Thinking in excess to the point one never acts is stupidity in its own way."
Are you actually accusing me of being useless? Kythyk asked, a note of interest and just a touch of amusement in his thoughts.
"If so," another voice broke in, a soft, dark hiss like a vexed snake, "Then it's the pot calling the kettle black."
Lilenia glanced behind her, her elven eyes seeking the spot in the dark where the voice had issued from. The final member of their little band refused to venture too close to the fire, and so remained a good deal behind, standing unnaturally still and quiet among the trees. Tatiana gave a soft growl, her muzzle curling up to reveal her teeth in a silent threat; Calibhaan did little to endear himself to the others, and took every opportunity to irritate the rakshasa.
"Watch your mouth, dolgaunt." Tatiana snapped.
"Why?" Calibhaan said innocently enough, though the challenge in his voice was poorly hidden, "You won't lay a hand on me, for multiple reasons."
"I can overlook that," she growled, gripping the shaft of her glaive tightly, "Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission."
Lilenia went stiff, trying to ignore the impending fight. She'd known Calibhaan longer than the others had, and considered him something of an older brother, but the fact remained that however well the dolgaunt had been behaving himself, he was still a creature of chaos, and far more dangerous than she was willing to admit.
Both of you stop it, Kythyk's mental voice had a firm chime of authority in it, and his dead white gaze slipped back and forth between his friend and Calibhaan. The last thing we need is for you two to tear our little camp to shreds and bring unwanted attention upon us all. We'll part ways soon enough, so stay your hand, Tatiana. And refrain from acting like a child, Calibhaan.
"Oh, but it's so much fun," the dolgaunt replied in that same cheery voice, but a second glance back at him revealed his pouting to Lilenia.
"It never surprises me that for being the leader of our little expedition, you let Kythyk wield the most authority," Zeth said abruptly, casting a sidelong glance to Finariel, who waved his hand with the lightstone absently.
"I'm reading." the mage responded with a hint of irritation, as though no other explanation was needed. The tiefling rolled his eyes, pointed at his own head, and slowly turned his index finger in circles, and Lilenia had to fight down a giggle.
Returning to the initial point of conversation, Kythyk remarked dryly before his pupil-less gaze found her, What are you thinking about, Lilenia?
Any other illithid would have simply pried the information from her mind without her consent, but it was a tribute to his character that Kythyk asked, and Lilenia smiled.
"I was just thinking how interesting it was that we all ended up together on the road to Sharn. It wasn't my intent to wind up as part of a band like this when I left Blood Crescent. And now look at us all." she replied.
Finariel finally looked up from his spellbook and peered at her from across the fire. "I do hope you realize that once we reach Sharn, we're all going to be parting ways, Miss Lilenia." he said quietly. "Zeth and I have to meet with a contact of mine, to learn more about this job we've taken on."
"I haven't forgotten!" the young half-elf crossed her arms, feeling slighted. "And Kythyk and Tatiana have to investigate some rumor surrounding the Broken Arch district. Just because I'm the youngest doesn't mean I'm deluded!"
"And just to further keep you from any delusions," Calibhaan spoke up in an altogether too-innocent tone of voice, "The two of us shall also be parting ways once we leave Moonwatch."
Lilenia nearly lost her seat on the log as she spun about to face him. "What?"
"You heard me, half-elf," the dolgaunt sneered, "We're also going to part ways. I have other matters to tend to, and I'm not about to drag your backside all over Eberron. You'd just slow me down and prove to be a liability."
She just stared at him dumbly, unable to think of a response. The one creature she'd come to rely wholly on in the past number of weeks was abandoning her? Desperately, she tried a last resort ploy she hoped would make him change his mind.
"You can't just abandon me! Range said"
"HA! You think I care about the empty threats of a dog-faced shifter?" Calibhaan laughed. "You managed to make it from Blood Crescent to Zarash'ak on your own without dying, didn't you? Then you can make it to Sharn without dying."
"You are being unnecessarily harsh with the girl, dolgaunt," Zeth rumbled threateningly in his deep voice, "And I still would have no qualms with running you through and purifying the world of your evil."
"Oh please, allow me to assist you." Tatiana growled.
"All of you stop it!" Finariel shut his book with an audible snap, making everyone but Kythyk jump. "I've had enough of your threats, bickering, and passive-aggressive remarks for the evening. I age twice as quick as any human the more I have to listen to you lot; I may as well be baby-sitting! Now
" he sucked in a breath and released it in a sigh, looking weary and haggard, "It's high time we all settled down for the night. No more bickering, no more threats, just everyone go to sleep."
Lilenia didn't wait to see if any of the others complied. She simply turned and began to lay out her bedroll, ready for the day to be over, her mood having darkened severely. A soft, warm pulse emanated from the dragonmark on her neck and peals of thunder could suddenly be heard in the distance. She didn't care; she shut her eyes and tuned everything out. Suddenly, the world seemed to be a much bigger place and she was more alone than ever before.
She needed Range.
It had been weeks since she'd met the shifter, and though she felt they would never meet again, there was a deep ache in her heart whenever she thought about him.
The thunder began to quiet, and Lilenia dreamt of the young shifter's face as she fell into an unhappy sleep.
Their group woke the next morning in an all-consuming silence that hung over them as they entered the town of Moonwatch. The day found them checking into an inn, reserving rooms, then each went about their own business for the remainder of the day. Tatiana and Kythyk remained in the inn, unwilling to wear their glamours for long periods of time, and insisted on keeping to themselves. Finariel ventured out to browse the town's shops, and Zeth accompanied the mage as always, just in case he suffered another sleep-faint spell. Calibhaan, for his part, quite effectively disappeared altogether, and Lilenia was left alone to wander Moonwatch by herself.
"Better get used to it," she murmured to herself as she set out from the inn, "After all, Cal's abandoning you first chance he gets."
She spent most of her time wandering aimlessly around the town, running into Fin and Zeth once or twice when she stepped into a shop to browse. She purchased nothing, but looked nonetheless, wondering what sort of people the town saw come through, and wondered whether or not her passing would be noticed. The part of her born from being hunted sincerely hoped she wouldn't be recognized; Houses Tharashk and Thuranni were skilled enough at tracking her, they didn't need any help. Thankfully, as she passed through Moonwatch, she saw no wanted posters bearing her likeness, and thanked Kol Korran for favoring her with such luck.
But shortly afterward, she felt that luck slip out from under her fingers.
Perhaps it was her heightened elven senses. Perhaps it was her hunted heart once again warning her of danger. But the cause mattered little, for either way, she could sense the presence as it dogged her footsteps.
Someone in Moonwatch was following her.
Lilenia didn't realize until reaching a small soup shop for her midday meal what was happening, but a glance at the ground told her all she needed to know: a silhouette on the roof of a nearby building that spilled over the ground. But when she turned back to look, she saw no one. She pushed the occurrence from her mind as she ate, but upon leaving the restaurant, she could feel eyes watching her passage. Before long, she spotted the same silhouette marking the ground.
"It's just a coincidence," she told herself aloud, "It has to be."
But after changing course several times and wandering around the town randomly, she had to accept that it wasn't. The shadow followed her relentlessly, and no matter how many times she tried to look back and catch her pursuer, she saw no one. So she finally shuffled back to the inn at dusk, her eyes on the ground and her mind whirling as chaotically as a storm. Finally, a voice broke through to her.
"Half-elf!" came the sharp bark.
"Oh! S-sorry, Tatiana!" she squeaked, jumping where she sat. The rakshasa fixed her with an orange stare, massive paw-like hands squeezing the shaft of her glaive.
"Where is your mind at?" the tiger woman sighed, "You've been out of sorts since you returned."
I have?" she mumbled, glancing around to find all of the others staring at her openly, and she felt her cheeks burning in embarrassment. "I-I'm sorry. I'm distracted. I
I think I'm being followed."
No one responded to this statement, but they all went tense and leaned a little closer in. Finally, Zeth spoke up.
"What gave you this notion?" he asked quietly, and without hesitation, she told them all of her experience earlier in the day. Another uncomfortable silence fell when she finished, and each of them took to pondering on what she had said.
"It could be nothing." Calibhaan said innocently.
"Or it could be one of those assassins Esravash has after her." Tatiana countered with a growl.
"All the more reason to be on guard, just to be safe," Zeth declared, shooting Lilenia a pointed look. She turned to see if Finariel had anything to add, but to no one's surprise, the mage was slumped over and snoring softly.
Perhaps one of us should investigate, Kythyk suggested, Someone ought to go with Lilenia and see who this person is that has been tailing her all day. The illithid finished his thought with a pointed look and wag of his fingers in Calibhaan's direction. The dolgaunt scowled, his gruesome features going even more twisted and ugly.
"Don't look at me in that tone of voice, Kythyk." He said quietly.
Do not be ridiculous, Calibhaan, Kythyk shot back, You are the least conspicuous of us all, and the best suited to this sort of thing.
"And what if I say no?" he retorted.
"Doesn't matter what either of you say now," Tatiana broke in, pointing toward the door, "The half-elf just left us."
Indeed, Lilenia had skipped out rather quickly, unwilling to listen to the others baby her around. She left the inn to blow off steam, and halfway down the dirt road that lined the town of Moonwatch, she began to feel rather stupid for acting so rashly. Perhaps it would have been better for her to wait for one of the others to accompany her; after all, she had no clue whether her mysterious shadow was still hanging about, and she couldn't be sure that whoever they were, wasn't a threat. She swallowed over the knot in her throat and began to walk the streets a bit slower, pulling her cloak tightly around her and keeping one hand on the hilt of a dagger. She was just beginning to realize she'd passed the same building twice, when she heard footsteps just a beat behind her own, and froze in place, gripping the hilts of both daggers.
Stupid, Lil! She mentally chided herself. Getting caught in a loop spell.
The daggers slid free of their scabbards as she forced a brave smirk on her face.
"Gotta admit, whoever you guys are, you caught me off guard with that spell. Now if you'll just be so polite to let me pass through
One by one, shadows began to detach from the buildings around her, and as the figures shuffled into the moonlight, Lilenia flinched back with a shudder of horror. At least three of them were human, one wearing a mage's stoleprobably the same one who had cast that loop spellbut the others
" she murmured aloud.
"A quite hearty and hale troop, as far as the dead go." Said one of the still-living figures. Lilenia spared him a quick glance, long enough to surmise he was probably the troop's resident necromancer, and tightened her hold on her daggers. She glanced to the others, trying not to let her gaze linger too long on the zombies that were staying all-too-still.
"I can imagine." She said dryly. "So what exactly would such upstanding Karrnath elite like yourselves want with a poor, lost little girl like me?"
"Don't try to play stupid with us, rogue!" the mage snapped at her, and the zombies in the circle began to shuffle a bit. "I've seen your face on the wanted posters in Atur. Baron Esravash d'Lyrandar will pay us quite a sum if we bring you in to her."
Lilenia shifted her weight, bending her knees and readying for a quick sprint to safety. "Ah. This again. Haven't you boys heard? Esravash has already got Tharashk and Thuranni butchers after me, and frankly, I think they're getting paid more. So why don't you just shuffleer, run along and let me go
"Take the girl." The necromancer ordered, and the zombies began to close in on her.
"Yeah." She exhaled, cursing her luck. "Didn't think that would work."
One of the zombies lunged forward with surprising speed and she danced away, parrying the blow from the lance with Talonblaze. The magic in the dagger sprang to life, and a small tongue of fire burst free of the dragonshard in dagger's hilt, climbing the zombie's lance at lightning speed and latching onto the undead warrior like a blooded hound. But the move cost her precious footing, and she stumbled, nearly falling to the ground, and two more zombies snatched her by the upper arms. She squirmed, jabbing backwards with her elbows, but the zombies seemed largely unfazed.
"Stupid undead!" she hissed.
"This is almost too easy." The third Karrn, a woman in armor, remarked. "I was expecting something of a challenge."
Lilenia glared at her, fury welling up in her chest at the woman's words. So she was too easy a catch, huh?
The dragonmark on her neck began to tingle with warm, glowing energy, and a second later, a small bolt of lightning cracked down in the circle, hitting one of the zombies, and the smell of burning, dead flesh filled the air.
"Now that's more like it!" the mage cackled, even as the energy made his hair puff out wildly. Lilenia growled in irritation and renewed her struggles, even as more tongues of lightning rained down from the storm clouds her dragonmark was generating and hit the zombie legionnaires. She finally must have proven too much for the zombie holding her left arm, as she ripped free of its graspor rather, she pulled its arms free of its sockets. The zombie made a noise of confusion, and its partner relaxed its grip, clearly unsure as to what happened. She seized the chance, ripping free of the other zombie and flung her weight forward, plowing into the others. Evidently none of them had expected such a suicidal move, and all of them, the warrior, mage, necromancer, and zombies alike, stepped back in shock. She shook off the dead limbs still clinging to her left arm, and offered a toothy grin.
"Last chance. Gonna let me go?" she said, even as they readied their weapons again and shifted their stances.
And then something huge and heavy fell from the sky and landed at her side, shaking the ground beneath her feet.
"Sorry, but I couldn't just stand and watch anymore. You're going to get walked over like a bridge, half-elf."
She turned, shocked, and finally got a good look at the presence she'd sensed dogging her path all day.
He stood taller than most humanoids, almost seven feet in height, and despite the moonlight reflecting off his armored form, he was astonishingly slender. DragonshardsKhyber, Eberron and Siberys shards alikeall glinted and pulsed with soft, glowing light in his armor. From his side he drew a wicked longsword, with a huge Eberron shard embedded in the hilt, giving off a sickly red glow that etched patterns in the length of the blade. For a moment, her shock and fear battled one another as she took him in. And then fear nearly won over as she realized he was no flesh-and-blood creature.
The warforged turned his head slightly, regarding her with bright green glass eyes, and despite his mask-like features, she could hear a touch of amusement in his metallic voice.
"What? I hate being left out of a party."
The zombies surged toward them again, and the half-elf and the warforged moved in sync, ducking quickly into a low crouch as a sword passed over their heads. They started to spring up again, but another zombie slashed out, and they were forced back down.
"Jump!" the warforged yelled suddenly, and Lilenia reacted without thinking, jumping as another blade passed under their feet.
"You call this a party?!" she shrieked as she landed, putting her back against his and facing down the zombies and the warrior closing in on her.
"Why?" the warforged asked innocently, slashing out with his glowing sword and taking down an undead with it. "Aren't you having any fun?"
She lunged out with her daggers, fire and ice jetting out of the blades as she swung, but she refused to move too far from the relative safety of her new ally. The Karrn woman snarled in frustration and made a lunge of her own. Again, Lilenia and the warforged unconsciously moved in tandem, sliding over a fraction, the blade just passing their sides and hitting empty air.
And the warforged did something very odd.
As Lilenia knocked the woman's blade aside with her dagger, he began to sing.
The words of the song were meaningless to her, for he sang in a language she didn't recognize, but the song was filled with power, and Lilenia felt a surge of energy rise up that she hadn't had before. Abruptly, the movement of the zombies slowed even more than normal, and their warrior friend slowed down too, shock registering on her face. Lilenia rushed forward and batted the two zombies before her aside like no more than limp vegetation, and slammed the pommel of her dagger into the Karrn woman's chin, all before they even reacted properly. A giddy laugh burst from her throat, and she ran, her feet hitting the ground lightly as she slammed into another zombie.
"This is amazing!" she yelled, ducking another sword and slashing at the mage's unprotected legs, "You slowed them all down!"
"Correction: I just sped you up." Came the answer, and she could hear the grin in his voice, even if his face couldn't make the expression. He spun, bringing one of his armored feet down on a zombie's head, and slashing out with his sword, the light from it pulsing, seemingly reaching toward its victims. But the battle didn't continue for very long; the Karrns, seeing themselves at a growing disadvantage, began to pull away, and the necromancer ordered the zombies to retreat. He and his companions followed their undead protectors shortly after, the necromancer pausing only long enough to throw one last threat the half-elf's way.
"Mark my words, d'Lyrandar, it's going to be the warriors of Karrnath that collect the bounty on your head!" he snapped.
"Aye, if my new friend here doesn't sing you into the Black Pits of Khyber!" she shouted back, more bold than she felt, waving Frostbite for emphasis. She must have still been a bit too excited, as a few tongues of lightning cracked down behind the Karrns, chasing them out of sight. There followed a rather loud silence, and the two, warforged and half-elf, turned to regard one another. Before she could help it, Lilenia broke into a grin.
"You. Are. AMAZING!" she squeaked, "How did you DO that?"
"Me?" the construct said, plainly surprised. "How did you do that?!" He turned and pointed to her dissipating little storm cloud to clarify. Lilenia bit her lip, thinking for a moment, then grinned ever wider.
"I'll tell you my story if you tell me yours." She declared stoutly.
"Then I hope you have a quiet place set aside to talk," he remarked, throwing glances down the street, "Because I think the town watch is going to find us in a few minutes."
A second later, she realized what he meant as her elf hearing picked up on distant shouts and the loud clomping run of booted feet. She looked at him one more time, and before she could even properly be indecisive, she seized his metal hand and began running back to the inn. He had saved her life, so she could afford to trust him for now.
"Absolutely fascinating!" Finariel remarked, walking in slow circles as he observed the newcomer.
"So you were following Lil around all day?" Tatiana asked, titling her head to the side. "Huh. And to think, we were all assuming the worst-case scenario."
"How did you say you fought them off?" Zeth broke in, his gaze darting from the half-elf to warforged. Before the construct could answer, Lilenia's face lit up.
"He's amazing! You should see his swordplay! I'd bet he's an even match for you, Zeth! And he sang a spell to boost my speed!"
At this, Finariel, Tatiana, and Calibhaan all looked up curiously.
"He sang a spell?" the elf parroted in disbelief.
"Sounds like a duur'kala." Calibhaan grunted, and when the others looked at him, he clarified, "A hobgoblin dirge-singer."
Tatiana nodded confirmation. "I've heard of the duur'kala, and they do sing their spells. But I've never heard of warforged being able to learn the same things."
Once again, all eyes turned to the construct and he squirmed uncomfortably.
"I'm afraid I cannot help you there," he answered gently, "To be honest, I
I don't really remember where I learned it. I don't really remember anything, now that I think about it. I remember waking in a creation forge
and then it gets patchy. The next thing I remember afterward, I was walking on the streets of Sharn, where I had been found by a very peculiar bard. He
he took me in and taught me his trade." The warforged looked down sadly at the blade he held and hefted it slightly. "I do not remember where I got this, either. The bard said I had it with me when he found me."
The six companions immediately exchanged looks, and Lilenia's breath caught. Her new acquaintance had come from Sharn? She beamed.
"Hold on!" she burst out before she could stop herself. "You said you came from Sharn?" Startled, the warforged nodded, and the half-elf looked at each of her friends. "Then he can accompany me in Sharn! He already has been there, he probably knows the city much better than any of us! And I'll have someone with me, and it doesn't have to be Calibhaan!"
If any of them thought Calibhaan would be pleased at this news, they were all startled to see his expression turn thunderous, and the corners of his mouth curl up in a quiet snarl. Lilenia pointedly ignored this and turned to the warforged.
"So what do you say, um
He stared back at her, the glow of his eyes flickering in a warforged blink.
I didn't catch your name earlier."
He gave another mechanical blink. "Actually
don't have a name."
"Then we must give you one!" Finariel declared.
"Lil should do it," Tatiana said with a nod, "She found him."
"If you've no objections, bard." Zeth added.
The construct looked at them all, and they got the impression that if he could have smiled properly, he would have. "I would like that." He agreed. He turned his attention back to the half-elf, who watched him thoughtfully, her eyes taking him in. There was silence for a few more minutes, and then she snapped her fingers triumphantly, her eyes lighting up even brighter.
"I've got it! What about
He gave a startled blink. "Songblade?"
"You're a bard, right? But you've got a wicked sword there, so why not? It works. Unless you don't like it
"No, of course not! I think it's a most fitting name." there was a touch of gentle approval in the construct's voice as he straightened up. "Songblade
I like it."
"Song for short." Tatiana said with a nod.
"This is ridiculous!" Calibhaan blurted out suddenly. "Strolling through Sharn with an amnesic warforged bard, of all things! No! I disapprove of this. Come to think of it, I forbid it." The dolgaunt surged forward, shoulder tentacles twitching in agitation, and seized Lilenia by her upper arm. "You're going to come with me, whether we like it or not."
Had she the time, the young rogue would have drawn a dagger with her free hand and brought it to the dolgaunt's neck, threatening that he let her free before she called lightning into the room and fried him.
She never got the chance.
Songblade moved faster than any of them could have anticipated, his metal face creasing ever so slightly in the hint of a scowl as his hand shot out and closed around Calibhaan's neck. The dolgaunt released Lilenia in surprise, his tentacles arching high in shock, and before he could react properly, Song lifted him off the floor entirely and flung him like a throwing knife. There was a horrid splintering of boards and cracking of wood as Calibhaan slammed into the wall and went right through it, his frame crashing into the wall to empty air outside before falling out of sight.
Everyone froze in shock as they heard the dolgaunt thud to the ground outside. Slowly, they all walked to the new opening in the wall and tentatively peered out at the ground, where Calibhaan was stirring and getting to his feet like a clumsy drunkard.
"Huh. Didn't think I threw him that hard. He must have a head like a rock." Songblade remarked.
"You know something, I think I like this warforged." Tatiana said in a cheerful voice. Below, Calibhaan glared up at her, spat something in the guttural, foul language of Deep Speech as he made a threatening gesture to the construct, then turned and disappeared into the trees.
You just drove off Calibhaan, Kythyk remarked, stunned.
"Scratch that, I REALLY like this warforged." Tatiana said with a grin, clapping Song on the shoulder.
"You mean, I'm not in trouble for this?" he asked, surprised.
"Hardly." Finariel and Zeth chorused.
"We're going to wind up in huge trouble for this."
Finariel steepled his fingers as he thought of a valid response. He, Zeth, Tatiana, and Kythyk were seated in the common room of the inn, concealed by a magical wall of his own doing, and poking half-heartedly at a breakfast they had been served. The open far wall of the common room allowed them to glance across the street, and they all carefully observed the progress of Lilenia and Songblade, who were browsing the wares at the local apothecary.
"Do you hear me? Huge trouble." Zeth grumbled around a bite of food.
"What sort of trouble?" Tatiana demanded.
It has to do with their job at Sharn. Kythyk cut in, turning his dead-white eyes on Finariel. Doesn't it?
The mage nodded slowly. "We didn't tell you the full details."
At once, the rakshasa and the illithid leaned further in, listening intently.
"I'm one of King Boranel's Dark Lanterns. We were asked to investigate the rumors of a working Cannith creation forge below Sharn." Finariel said slowly.
"But that's impossible!" Tatiana objected. "House Cannith was ordered to shut down and dismantle all their creation forges as per the conditions of the Treaty of Galifar."
"And they did." Zeth nodded. "But lately a lot of warforged have been appearing on the streets of Sharn. Warforged" his emerald eyes found the back of Songblade's head across the way, "who are lost, with no clue as to their pasts or how they suddenly woke up in a strange place with no memories at all."
Couldn't that be a side effect of damage done to the warforged from battles fought in the Last War? Asked Kythyk.
"Possible," Finariel agreed, "But given that this only is occurring in Sharn? Not likely. And just look at Songdoesn't he look like a much newer design and build of warforged?"
"What worries me is that sword." Zeth broke in. "Bards carry instruments that double as weapons; he carries a bloodstone bladea vampiric sword that are typically favored by assassins."
The rakshasa and the mind flayer's eyes widened as they turned to look at Songblade and Lilenia again.
"You think he's an assassin prototype that's lost his memory?" Tatiana breathed.
"I do indeed." Finariel said with a slow nod, "But I have no hard evidence to go on. Just speculation and a gut feeling."
But you won't take him in when you march into Sharn. Kythyk declared simply.
Finariel shook his head.
"You do realize you're letting your one substantial piece of evidence walk away with a hunted young rogue." Tatiana said slowly, eyeing the mage sidelong.
"I do," he agreed, "But just look at them. Lilenia needs someone she can rely upon to help protect her. And Songblade seems like he needs someone to fill a purpose in his life."
"Purpose?" Zeth asked.
"At the base of the very concept of the warforged is the nature to protect the organic peoples around them." Fin replied, gesturing toward Song hovering over the half-elf. "These two need each other. Would any of you disagree?"
They made no objections.