The Shadow Thieves

5: Death is a cruel mistress
a prose poem by Li Yueying translated from the original Shou

Death is not something to fear,
Mama said as we ground the wheat.
But what she meant, I am sure, was corpses.

She had never been to that graveyard
where at night the corpses might so easily become puppets,
She had never seen death reanimated,

When our master told us that to be reborn one had to die,
it sounded like the mountain teachings,
and so I did offer to bring him swiftly to an end.
Instead we were to create the image of his death
A likeness so well crafted it would confuse clerics.

To engineer death is to become its mistress,
And so went we, like the predators we seek,
(cold figures that hold mastery over living and dead alike,)
to the blackened graveyard to fish for bodies.

Under stern eye of a silent gravedigger (who provided no comic relief)
We buried two corpses. Both unsuitable for our grizzly needs.
Our colleague hired handsome cab but without the body
we were unable to begin.

As we wandered past slimy neer-do-wells
I did offer to hone my skills (not poetry but those of a sharper nature)
But instead we chose to steal a body already emptied of its light.

Eventually we came to poorer fields and here we struck gold,
A corpse of approximate size and shape was found here
bundled into handsome cab. it became now our lord and master,
now our lamb to be slaughtered.

Soon we will burn the body, and free our true master from his ties
to us, to our clan and to our livelihood.
As a dark mistress of death perhaps I too will have nothing to fear from corpses.

Sequence 4
Undead Crypt Jam

Owain Stormbringer and I will never see eye to eye. His order puts on tawdry theatrics in halls of luxury to impress smaller minds. Foolishness. True strength comes from discipline, and real power can only be understood through the context of loss. After the “accident” that befell the wife of a priest in his order, I think old Owain may come to understand this truth for himself.

Still there was no denying his own capability, despite the softness of his order. As we approached the lair of the vampire, I found my mind was clearer in his presence. In less dire circumstances I would relish the chance to test my will against the dreadful aura that surrounded the crypt, but for now I was content to have a steady heartbeat and a mind clear with intent.

After entering the crypt, the Stormbringer advised caution in a tone not entirely devoid of mistrust. I nodded assent as I had a thousand times before to many different masters and clerics, but my fists are always my own. When the stakes are high, my own intuition is the only guide I will follow. To hesitate even a second is to undo years of training, and besides what does a priest know of the dark?

And so in those decaying depths I did confront the thrall of the vampire. She leered out of the void without so much sound as the whisper of silk. I swung a quick strike with Broken Bond, but the blade only connected only with air. I was keen to continue this test, but my companions were far less eager. It would have been foolhardy to continue on without the Stormbringers aura, even to one as determined as I. There is afterall a distinction between a mortal trial and a fatal one, and I had no doubt that I would not be able to fight these creatures without full clarity of mind and spirit.

As we made a hasty retreat, the Stormbringer called a halt so he could consecrate the ground and ensure we were not followed. A narrow hallway joined the exit to the stairs leading down to the lower crypt, and it was just inside the doorway to the outside that the stormbringer began his chant. It was not long into his incantations that we heard footsteps echoing from the stairs we had just climbed. The tension mounted as the steps got louder, and I prepared my mind for a second encounter with the monsters. After an agonising wait the Thrall apparated from the veil-like darkness, but she did not give chase. Instead she extended one pale arm and pointed. I couldn’t be sure, but it looked like she was pointing solely at me, perhaps in rebuke of my earlier attack.

After what seemed like an eternity the Stormbringer finished his spell, and with relief we felt his power surge into the ground at our feet. However, before we could turn to leave, a voice as grave as the dead and full of pure malice spoke a warning. Disturbingly, it sounded as if the speaker was inches from my ear as he uttered his curse:

“You have been marked”

Session 3: Selling out the Cloakroom

Had a simple job; recruit the Priest of Kord, Owain Stormbringer.

I felt my crew needed some experience so I held back, giving them a chance to achieve something. Unsurprisingly they failed miserably, giving away Yural’s identity and the location to our secret base. Clearly I need to take full control of these dolts.

We had to relocate to a new stinking pit called the Wardrobe. I won’t be spending any more time that I have to in the crap heap. All the little urchins are very upset with us, oh no!

Yural managed to talk the temple round to helping us. We have to go on some quests for them. He should have asked me to negotiate for him, I would have got a better deal.

Session 2: A day of difficulties

Hmm my new guild mates seem to be warming to me. By which I mean they consistently undermine my every move. Take this afternoon for example I was called abrasive difficult and rude and yet it was I who pushed us forward and made us make major discoveries about the disappearance of Orys and Tobin. First our colleagues went to learn more about the Silverwing family and learned they were based in waterdeep.

Bast in particular seems keen to tell me what to do and to educate me on the ways of society mostly by telling me to shut up. No thanks, I’ve already had a teacher and he turned out to be a foul perverted old man. I suspect the same of Bast and will avoid.

Wei and I travelled with GirlJohn to the graveyard to see if there was general undead activity. The grave diggers denied any such probems but informed us that one of their crew members had gone missing. A moon shaped scar made me suspect that he might be a werewolf. But it did not fit with the lunar calendar.

Wei and I see eye to eye, though he does not speak the language. After Bast informed us to not investigate any crypts we found a likely looking one, but no murder was to be had. I would have liked to sharpen my skills. In the end girljohn wei and I made our way to the slums to seek out Tommy the unfortunate not-werewolf. GJ managed to convince the locals to direct us to the hut. She is a quiet type, but looks like she will hold her own in battle and where the others often berate and humiliate me she keeps to herself. And this success suggests that there is more to her than first meets the eye.

We met with Tommy’s father and he informed us that tommy had been digging graves at night!

We headed back to meet the others before going back to the gravesite to check out the crypt and the area Tommy went missing. The crypt turned out to belong to the hawk family suggesting the caravan was not delivering a corpse but something rather more intriguing, we will have to investigate.

Usla seems nice enough, but is hopeless at stealth and should have left me to my investigations at the graveyard. Her exuberant attempts at stealth led to our detection and then I was over come by the worst sensation; a crawling of skin like being covered with ants or falling into nettles. Her short term memory made her instantly forget the horror we had just felt but I pulled her away.

Upon reporting to Tothis who so far has proved himself to be reliable, safe and not a person to stare at their insurbordinates in the middle of the night, he suggested that finding the caravan is paramount importance. We will investigate later.

Though the party calls me abrasive, there are good reasons for my distrust. I am still hopeful that with time they will understand my strengths and treat me with the respect my talents deserve.


Chapter 1
Absent Friends

Twas a fateful warm summer’s day when we began our quest to discover the sordid fate of our two pickpocketing compatriots. They had been missing for five long, sorry days, and as the infamous Nard didn’t hesitate to remind us, their continued absence would mean a sorry depletion of our own future coin, leading, I dare say, to various debilitating woes and terrible lacks that we were sore keen to avoid.

We strode stealthily to the bustling gate district and made our enquiries amongst the surly gate guards. Though unhelpful thugs, they responded well to our rascally charm and gave us the valuable information that they’d seen our two thieves following a black caravan towards the slum district.

We followed this lead admirably, and hastened away to the slum district. However, once there, the trail went cold as a dead seagull who’s been doused in icy sea water, and we were forced to use our quick wit and cunning to pick it up again. Me and Li scoured the area slyly signalling in thieves’ cant to attract the attention of any of our equally cunning brethren. The plan was slow to come to fruition, but we persevered admirably, and a tatty-looking chap approached.

“Stop being so obvious. One of you follow me into that alleyway and we can talk.”

Gallantly ignoroing the insult in the pursuit of the pickpockets, we went ahead with his request. Sebastian demanded to be the one to talk to the rude beggar-thief, so off he went. Myself and Wei continued to keep up our cover and continued to take in the scene and act as if we belonged. After some time had passed, Sebastian returned with Li, having got into some difficulty with the beggar-thief and negotiating a very high price for information on the cart, although coming from his auspicious background I suspect he thought it was a perfectly reasonable price. We paid up, but I should probably do the negotiating in the future unless it’s for posh nobby things like…..grapes, or velvet clocks.

The graveyard district was our next destination, as the mage had discovered that the caravan had in fact been a coffin. This time I did the negotiating. For one small silver piece I discovered the tomb we were looking for and got the mute gravedigger to direct us there.

We quickly entered the deep tomb to avoid the prying eyes of nearby mourner, but did not find ourselves as alone as we would have expected. For instead of the quiet dead, we were attacked by three brutish, decrepit skeletons! We bravely attacked them, I with my trusty cutlass, Wei with his fists, Li with her pointy twigs and Sebastian with his magic. Sebastian’s finger sparkles proved useful in the fight, and we soon overpowered them. Unfortunately the two pickpockets were not as lucky or brave, and had succumbed to the skeletons several days before.

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