Serpent's Skull in Eberron

Six Months Ago

Zol the 3th of Nymm

Place: Trolanport, Zilargo. Ambassador’s Residence

Good, good. I think tonight will be the night. Months of waiting has finally paid off. It looks like my parents will be engrossed with their new elven court bard for the rest of the evening and I can make my getaway. My brother Boliiar and my sister Aluthiel are out at the ball for the new Mror Holds ambassador to Zilargo and they won’t be returning until late. The court wizard has returned briefly to Sharn and is attending some gathering to discuss the expanding Mournland, so I need not fear any arcane searches for a while yet, at least not untile my parents have realized that I have left. I had the servants bring a cask of wine to my rooms and I’ve made it clear to them that I plan to drink it all myself – again. They have been instructed that I am not to be disturbed until early in the afternoon tomorrow. I am saddened at the good wine I’ve been throwing out in my ruse these last few weeks, but I am tired of living my life at the commands of others. Subterfuge is required if I am to make my way out of these walls and become my own man. It is the perfect time to go.

Down the wall, using the vine creepers growing upon them to keep me up, I climb to the gardens (a skill probably not too different than climbing the rigging on a ship at sea). I wrap my dark cloak around myself and the long bundle I carry and move away. Stealthily, I creep through the mansion grounds to the western corner where the mausoleums and tombs that hold my forebearers sit and I stop to pull open the door guarding my uncle’s final resting place. The door opens with barely a squeal and I give a quick smile; it seems that my previous covert trips to lubricate the doors have been fruitful. The lantern I left several months back takes long moments to finally light; the oil seems to have been sitting too long. The alcove where my uncle Salreon lay, clutching his scabbarded blade, materializes as the lantern thrusts the darkness away and I stop to look at his shrouded form.

I hesitate to continue. To bolster my courage I quietly recite to myself all the reasons why I am here; the dead have always given me nightmares, plus, this is my uncle’s body I dare to disturb. I remove a sharp knife from my belt and begin to cut the burial shroud from his hands – I cannot bear to look at his wrapped face for fear of a silent reproach for the deed I am committing. Grave robbing, there is no other word for it. My hands shake. No one will believe my tales of my uncle’s wishes when he died earlier this year; my mother went even as far as to burn the document penned with his own hand stating them, so there is no proof. I must do this alone. The hands clasping the bound blade and scabbard are grey with age, but the cold has made them strong and I am forced to break a finger or two to finally release it from my uncle’s grasp. I dare not look back up at him as I bend down to replace the sword with a wooden replica and try to cover any traces of disturbance. I am the first to come here since he was laid down to his rest and, barring some sudden tragedy to my family, I doubt any others will have reason to come down here as well. The dust of almost a year will accumulate again, so long as no one comes to look closely.

One last look and I quietly make my way to the walls and deftly climb out of the mansion grounds. Heart thumping so that it can almost be heard from out of my chest, I rush my way down into Trolanport to get lost in the crowds, every step I fear to hear my name being called out or to run into someone who knows my face. Citizens of Zilargo are a nosy sort. But, to my relief, that does not happen. A few short minutes and I am standing inside a wine merchant’s shop as he searches in the back of his store for the supplies I’ve stored here. I can tell his business has seen the sudden uptick in clientele because of the nobles, or actually, their servants, I have been directing here. The moneys he has gained from my subtle glowing reviews of his wares will more than offset the small amount of space unused for this trade to hide the items that I have quietly gathered over the last few months and stashed here.

I duck into the back and spend long minutes climbing into the unfamiliar leather armor I purchased months ago and I strap on my gear for my final trip to the docks. My precious map of Xen’Drik goes into my pack along with rope, flint, and the sleeping blanket with my identification papers rolled within them at the bottom. Other odds and ins, the list I gleaned from the stories and books I’ve read that are indispensable to adventurers, goes on top. I buckle a couple of matching throwing axes to my legs (matching because there are appearances that must be kept!). I leave the sword, still wrapped in my cloak, to be donned later when I am away from the shop; the sight of the flashy, expensive sword may make the wine merchant greedy to supplement his income with the news of my presence if they come searching for me. Last, a hat, feather and all, completes my outfit. I look like a dapper young swashbuckler to the hilt.

As I continue onwards towards the docks I am surrounded by the bustling port of Trolanport, Zilargo. Gnomes are everywhere, their dark little eyes watching everyone and everything. Gossip and knowledge are ambrosia to their people and I am sure my presence has been noted by several passerbys. Even the humans, and the fewer dwarves, that make up this country may have noticed me for this society’s foundation is the gathering of knowledge, the making of deals and the ferreting of little webs of deceit. There is nothing to do for that but to continue on through the evening’s cool air towards the smell of salt and the waiting sea.

I stop at the first sight of the bustling port below me. A myriad of ships are docked there and I search for the location where the Jenivere has tied up. Then I see her! My heart races! Although she is just a merchant ship, a Wyvern-class one at that, she is the most beautiful thing I have seen. Ships like her have made claims to have sailed around the southern tip of Argonessen. Although she is not a warship like my uncle described to me, her lines show her seaworthiness; plus, I could never deal with the order and discipline that a military ship would make me fit into. I am to be a passenger aboard her, for when I last spoke to her captain, a man called Kovach, he would not hire me on as crew. That will not stop me from learning every inch of her, of course; my last few coins handed to right crewmen should get me some action pulling ropes, swabbing the decks, and a bit of steering, maybe. Anyways, who has ever heard of a sailor who would not prefer to shirk some of his duties? I am not afraid of getting my hands dirty with their rough sort, though my clothes will be a bit tougher to keep clean.

The Jenivere’s first mate, a man by the name of Alton Devers is waiting to take my coin and move me aboard. I have a few good stories to tell the man in the hopes of getting on his good side. I’m off to live the adventures that my uncle described – adventures that await any brave soul – and I hope to live up to the expectations he would presume of me. On the evening tide, the Jenivere will depart this place. Sharn, then Xen’Drik are ahead of me; my old life of idleness and indolent duties as a third born child will be behind me.

Finally, I buckle my uncle’s sword, no – my, rapier – to my side. I start my walk down to the docks and the Jenivere. I am ready to meet my fate.

Kreshton Rel’Astra’s first log

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