The Shadow Empire

The Thief King

Gla'Kaal the lord of the underground gets shafted

I woke up this morning sweating. The cloud of drinking had lifted and I was back in the jungle. The storm was raging and I could feel the fear and betrayal of the spirits that haunt me.

During our harrowing through the jungle I had held on to the hope that this primal struggle for survival would be over once we reached the other side but this has proven just an illusion. We walk unnoticed through the streets of Miradoun, but the shadow of our impending doom looms over us constantly. At this point it feels like our only hope is to see this through to the end. I sometimes run my fingers over the scroll case containing my plan B and wonder if I’d even have it in me anymore. I expected many things from this assignment, most of which seem rather na├»ve now, but whatever it was that I had imagined I can at the very least say that the comradery I feel with my squad, the green dragon, is a first for me.

There is a certain sanity in the absurdity of it all. I woke up expecting to find myself strapped to a tree branch in the jungle, only to stare into the dumb eyes of Sir Picklesworth, of the Huffington Picklesworths. A 300 pound adult pig. Next thing I know I am stumbling around blinded by light, pig squealing and bouncing around, trying not to break whatever last piece of furniture was left unbroken. I guess this is what passes for humour in Jandar Bersk’s twisted mind. I swear, military training does something to a man. In any case, at least we will be enjoying fresh bacon with our morning coffee for the next week or two.

We had our first audience with Lieutenant Imroden Mintheath. Her manner was… perfunctory. She struck me as a matter of fact, honourable, earn your keep kind of person. Her study was elegant yet practical. The smell of books mingled with that of rich mahogany.

She told us a story of a young noble from a mercantile family that broke the mould and made a name for himself in the Martial College. He became something of a local hero when he commanded a renowned border defence and married into the city’s ruling family. He now belongs to the crust of the high society and love him or hate him his rise to power has been nothing but meteoric. Meet Orek Hammond.

Now hear the tale of a diligent, skilled noble from one of the great military tradition families. Her rise through the ranks curbed by an upstart second cousin of a new social elite. Then imagine her ire as he becomes the vocal mouthpiece for his uncle’s plans to undermine the martial rule by introducing nobles to the Grand Military Council.

Now enter us. Unaligned and new to the city. Apparently capable and audacious. Just what she had been waiting for.

We began our investigation by organizing surveillance of the Hammond estate. Our goal was to map out the scope of his operations and identify possible weaknesses. We also sent out feelers into the underground via our acquaintance, Mac.

At first we got nothing but worrying news. First of all we identified a possible Hammond spy in the Mintheath camp. We were then accosted by the representative of the ‘Thief King,’ the self proclaimed ruler of the underground, and forced to pay a tithe of 30% of our net earnings. Needless to say neither of these thrilled us, especially considering the implications of such an exorbitant tax on operations in the city. This goes beyond a reasonable percentage, and strikes me more as a statement. If you don’t work for me, you still work for me.

If this seemed like a bad start then it is nothing compared to what happened next. I followed the spy into a tannery, deep inside the Honeycomb. We went there by force and found ourselves a hair’s breath from storming into a gathering of five drow, a wraith, and a group of cultists. Never has a ball of light been so instrumental to the fate of a group of adventurers before. We managed to escape but Gregorian ‘Cupcake’ Stone won’t be sitting on wooden chairs anytime soon.

We redoubled our intelligence gathering, this time extending our scope to the tannery and the temple of the thief god. The temple in question serves as the drop off point for the city’s underground taxation, providing us with a perfect vantage point to identify who-is-who in the city. We identified two major contributors. The The Black Dagger assassins guild and Orek Hammond himself. We have reason to believe though that this is simply a ruse by Lord Hammond as we suspect that he and the Thief King are one and the same and that he has struck a deal with the drow. What could have driven him to such madness is anyone’s guess.

Our operations weren’t without collateral damage though. We notable had to expose one of our temporary operatives, a homeless man named Olav. Jandar Bersk was in charge of the disposal of the body and laughs about having made a ‘hobo sausage’ out of him. The recipe for this appalling ground meat delicacy turns out is a large carpet, a unfortunate hobo, and a giant warhammer. I will allow your imagination to fill in the blanks. I hope he is kidding about it but I don’t think he is. He has had a murderous glint in his eye as of late. He nearly gave us away during one operation. It was to be a simple snatch and grab but he just couldn’t hide his eagerness. Our victim would have gotten away had he had been of even average wit.

As it happens we were able to… detain him. We leveraged him with the knowledge that he has ties to an orphanage in town. A orphanage that he would like to see continue it’s operations safely. He also seemed keen on continuing breathing the foul Honeycomb air. In return he has agreed to provide us with forewarning on any hits contracted by the assassins guild. This agreement paid off only a day later when we were able to intercept an assassin sent to kill Lady Andrea Vance, the daughter of Lord Vance which I had met in the spa only a couple of days earlier.

Lord Vance has done his best to stay unaligned in the power struggles that are shaping the city. Fate may be intervening to change this as his daughter and the newly widowed ruling lord (Lord Dizzly) have growing affections. We have surmised that an engagement may be imminent as Lady Milaine will be hosting a large banquet in Lord Dizzly’s honor in a few days. We hedged our bets and came to Lord Vance with a proposition to intercept the assassin which we did. It remains to be seen how this all plays out. We at the very least have found the signature killing method of this presumably prolific assassin: Cardiac arrest in the middle of the night.

Oh and a final bit of information. If the The Black Dagger can be considered the strong arm of the Thief King, then the orphan network, run by a Whitestone, would be his eyes and ears. This was told to us by a street urchin that I caught following us around on Whitestone’s orders.

-From the memoirs of Erik Mariner

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