It’s Dungeons and Dragons time! Here’s the latest installment of the epic journey of our heroines, Danaeryzard and Alaria! (If you’re new here, check out the entire saga in order by reading the chapters organized on the D&D tab of this site!)
At breakfast the following morning, Danaeryzard could only think about one thing – besides the spread of delicious eggs, pastries, cheese and sausage at the Rosebud Inn – it was her new Quarterstaff that she had ordered the day before. Dany practically had to drag Alaria away from the breakfast table and over to the blacksmith to pick up her new weapon.
When they arrived, the blacksmith Peter was ready and excited to show off his latest handiwork to his client.
“Now, remember that this Quarterstaff will need to be attuned by meditating for two hours before using this weapon for the first time. Keep in mind also that this Quarterstaff has been enchanted with Necromantic power, and therefore any damage inflicted will be Necromantic and not Bludgeoning,” Peter said with a hint of warning. Dany nodded and greedily clutched her new weapon in her claws. The Quarterstaff was smooth and the skull decoration at the top added a good amount of weight to the weapon. She did a few practice swings chopping the Quarterstaff through the air before thanking the blacksmith and following Alaria out of the shop.
They walked through the streets of Eklatar until they came upon a huge church complex spanning an entire block and taking up several connected buildings. It was the Church of the Serpent, and looked unlike any church that Dany had ever seen before.
As soon as they arrived, Danaeryzard felt very uncomfortable. The idea of religion was something that never sat well with her, even during her upbringing when her family worshiped the Golden Dragon. Dany felt out of place at the Red Dragon Monastery just a few days before, and now going to a Tiefling church was even more strange and made her uneasy.
Walking through the entrance, Alaria and a junior priest greeted one another by stroking their horns with their hands in a friendly gesture and smiling. Dany simply nodded her head in the junior priest’s direction as she walked past, since she had no horns. The duo made their way deeper into the main church building, and as they walked they could hear harmonized a capella chanting echoing through the cathedral.
The cathedral was massive with rows and rows of pews, as well as enormous fire lanterns and candles all around. Getting closer to the altar of the church, Dany and Alaria could see that a Tiefling priest was rehearsing music with the church choir.
“That’s Father Sirzer,” Alaria whispered to Dany. She stepped forward to go and greet him, while Dany decided to stay back and sit in a pew.
Father Sirzer turned around when he heard someone walking up behind him, and was ready to shoo away the distraction until he recognized that it was Alaria.
“Bless the Serpent for this day!” Father Sirzer cried. They hugged and stroked their horns in the same familiar greeting. “What a surprise to see you here again, Alaria. Who is your friend?”
“That is Danaeryzard, she is a bit shy… I’m visiting home for a few days, so I wanted to say hello. It’s been a long time,” Alaria said to the priest.
“Well it’s wonderful that you were able to stop by. You’ll come to the service tonight, won’t you? I’d love to speak with you afterwards… alone, if possible,” Father Sirzer replied. His last words took a more serious tone. Alaria nodded and let the choir continue their rehearsal without any more interruption.
Dany and Alaria left the church and headed back towards the docks.
“The church services start at 6pm. Did you want to come with me to -” Alaria was asking, when they heard a voice calling from behind them.
Nervously, Dany turned around. Who could possibly know her by name in this town? They saw a figure running down the street to catch up with them. As the woman approached, it was clear to see that she too was a Dragonborn.
Panting, the woman said, “Danaeryzard! I can’t believe I’m seeing you here in Eklatar!” It was one of Dany’s neighbors from her home town, back before she was exiled, of course. Her name was Bikira, and Dany remembered that she was one of the few people who tried to help her extinguish the fateful marketplace fire that got Dany kicked out of her own village.
“Bikira, I might say the same for you! What are you doing here?” Dany said with a shocked expression.
Bikira looked up as the clock tower chimed the half hour mark.
“Oh dragonfires… I can’t stay and chat right now, I’m running so late… are you available this evening? Would you want to get some dinner and catch up? Meet me at the Leaky Casket Inn around six!”
Dany was so excited to see another Dragonborn that she immediately accepted the invitation without thinking. As Bikira darted off, Alaria looked at Dany disapprovingly.
“I thought you were going to come with me to the Church of the Serpent tonight. We have to figure out how to get the knife from the basement for Biro before time runs out!” she said, putting her hands on her hips.
“Oh… I’m sorry, Alaria. But I was so excited to see someone from my hometown who isn’t trying to kill me. And I feel so out of place in that church. Why don’t you go and try to scout out the church, find the basement entrance… and I can meet you there after I finish dinner with Bikira?”
There was slight tension. Dany wasn’t sure why Alaria wanted her to attend the church service with her. At the same time, Alaria wondered why Dany wasn’t trying to help more with the church heist. Both feeling slightly frustrated, they walked together to the docks to investigate the area a bit more.
During the day, the docks were bustling with fishermen and merchants unloading shipments. At one end of the docks were Biro’s men, standing guard over several slips and looking menacing with their brandished swords. On the other end was a large building with a sign that read “Fishing Guild” and the duo headed for it.
Inside, the Fishing Guild had a salty, fishy smell and it was filled with fisherman carrying their daily hauls for inspection and sale. Behind a large desk was a man seated, looking stressed, busy and seemingly important.
“Jerald – Leader of the Eklatar Fishing Guild – at your service,” he said, looking up at Dany and Alaria when they walked over to him. He pushed some of the maps on his desk out of the way and folded his hands.
“Hi, I’m Alaria of the Shadow Thieves,” Alaria blurted out awkwardly, and Jerald winced at the name of the criminal gang. Dany jumped in to salvage the conversation.
“What she means to say is that she USED to be a member… Now my friend and I are just revisiting her home town! We’re uhh… between missions right now and taking advantage of some well earned time off.”
Jerald looked at them quizzically but seemed to accept this strange explanation. They asked him how long the guards have been taking over the far end of the docks, and while Jerald was hesitant to say anything specific, he did tell them that the guards had taken over the end slips for months, and it was bad for business.
“We want to help you, if we can!” Alaria said, trying to sound trustworthy.
Jerald laughed at the promise. “You two? What could you possibly do to help?”
“You haven’t seen this Dragonborn burn down a village!” Alaria laughed, trying to sound strong and imtimidating. But both Jerald and Dany’s eyes widened at the statement, and Dany immediately was working on damage control once again.
“Whoa, whoa, Alaria what are you saying?” Dany laughed awkwardly. “I haven’t burned down anything, nor do I plan to in this erm… lovely town. But Jerald, if there is any way we can be of help, please let us know. We will be in town for a couple of days.”
“Well, I probably shouldn’t say this, but if you want more information about those guards, you might have better luck with the Dock Master. His office is in the middle of the docks, the second nicest building that you’ll find around here.” He winked at them before pulling the trade route maps out across his desk again, resuming his work.
Making their way to the middle of the dock, Dany and Alaria found the Dock Master building, but instead of the Dock Master himself, they were greeted by a woman.
“I’m Verves. The Dock Master is my husband, but he’s not here right now.”
“We were sent here by Jerald to get some more information about the menacing characters here on the docks,” Dany explained.
Verves rolled her eyes at Jerald’s name, as though there were an ongoing feud between them. Alaria tried to explain that she was visiting her hometown here in Eklatar, but found these guarded docks to be concerning. However, Verves was very unhelpful and refused to tell them anything useful. She said that they could wait for her husband to return, and they agreed to do just that.
When her husband arrived, he introduced himself as Dock Master Deckard. He was looking very wealthy, with long flowing robes that one would not expect to see being worn by someone who managed the slips of a dock. Alaria again asked about the guards that were swarming the far end of the dock, and Deckard shrugged it off as added security for the docks. Continuing to press him, Alaria mentioned that the fishermen were suffering from lack of space due to the guarded ships monopolizing the docks. What are those boats bringing in that is more lucrative than fishing?
“That is none of your business,” Deckard snapped back. “I think that’s been quite enough questions for today. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m a very busy man and I must get back to work. You can see yourselves out.”
When they left the Dock Master’s office, Dany and Alaria realized that they still had a bit of time before their evening rendezvous plans. Alaria wanted to stay at the docks and watch the armed guards to see if she could determine what they were shipping.
Dany, however, wanted to go back to the Inn to attune her new Quarterstaff. She went back to their room and shut all of the curtains to create a dark space. With the necromantic staff in her lap, Dany held her crystal orb and meditated, thinking about the power of the undead. Reaching deep into her sorcery origins, she began to see visions of dead, decaying dragons. Then she saw a vision of herself being buried alive, then being shot to death with arrows, then stabbed with a short sword… After two hours, Dany’s orb glowed with green necromantic power to indicate that the attuning was complete.
Alaria, having grown bored watching the boats come and go and seeing nothing of importance on the guarded docks, returned to the Inn to say hello before they both had to leave for their meetings. They wished each other good luck and promised to stay on notice for anything irregular.
Dany made her way to the Leaky Casket Inn, and easily found her former neighbor Bikira waiting at a table with a bottle of dragonwine. Dany sat down with her and they filled their glasses.
“To the blood of the dragon!” Bikira said, raising her glass outward to Dany, who returned the gesture and they clinked their glasses together.
“I can’t even remember the last time I drank dragonwine…” Dany said, savoring the taste. This was a beverage that Dany had barely experienced, having been kicked out of the village just as she had become old enough to drink. But she remembered having secret swigs and tastes of dragonwine as a child, when she would dream of the day when she would be old enough to enjoy such a luxury.
“Dany, I have to tell you. The village has changed a lot ever since… well, after the incident. On the grounds where the marketplace had burned down, the Golden Dragon soldiers built a training school. I heard that they have magic studies in addition to battle skills now.”
A small pit was growing in Dany’s stomach at these words. So they have learned to show compassion, only after excommunicating her? She felt spiteful and bitter at the news, but Dany tried to be polite. She told Bikira about how they had been working at Castle Drachen, but didn’t get into details about being imprisoned or running away from their Expeditionary Guard contracts.
“I’m so glad that you have found an outlet for your sorcery magic, Dany!” Bikira said, sounding genuinely happy for her fellow Dragonborn. “Oh, there was one strange thing I should tell you about. Not too long ago, there was a half-elf in the village, and he visited your family’s home for hours. I don’t know what they were discussing, but there have been a lot of rumors that someone was looking for YOU.” Bikira lowered her voice and whispered, “I think you should be very careful. I sense danger in the air.”
Meanwhile, Alaria entered the Church of the Serpent, remembering the many times that she came here as an orphaned child with nowhere to go. Back then, the church was a safe place for her, and the priests were always kind. This was where she went for food and shelter when she had nowhere else to turn, and Alaria was still very thankful for their charity. How could she bring herself to steal an artifact from the Church of the Serpent?
At the religious ceremony, Alaria remembered all of the words to the chants about fire and brimstone, and she could recall how these lyrics once made her feel confident and powerful when she had nothing else to support her. Alaria was feeling a bit emotional at the end of the service when Father Sirzer invited her to come speak in his private office.
“Alaria, I asked to speak to you alone because there is something important that we should discuss. I know about your troubled past with Birolesh. I think it’s important for you to know that he was trying to help you by getting you out of this city. I know it may not seem that way to you. If you think about it, after your parents died, Biro told you to come here for meals… but he also wanted you to establish some sort of moral compass by coming to the church,” Father Sirzer said, reaching out to hold her hands. “Did he ask you to do something unspeakable, and that is why you left? Perhaps he wanted you to act this way, perhaps he was trying to get you to go your own way. And you have been out in the world on your own for some time now. Don’t let your pain rule you and your decisions.”
Alaria pulled her hands back in shock. “Biro is an evil man. Why are you defending him?” She was not convinced by Father Sirzer’s plea.
“I’m not defending him, so much as trying to offer an alternate perspective. Things aren’t always so black and white,” Father Sirzer continued.
“This is a lot to take in…” Alaria said, feeling discomfort and unease. “I need a quiet place to pray… is there a basement where I can be alone?” Her growing inner conflict was waging war inside. Father Sirzer might be compromised by Biro. Alaria had felt bad about stealing from the church, but now she was feeling less concerned by this moral quandary.
“Only official church members can go down there. Now is not a good time… let me show you to a meditation room where you can contemplate in peace.” He handed her a candle and ushered her to a room on the side of the cathedral.
Back at the Leaky Casket Inn, supper was winding down for Danaeryzard and Bikira. Dany thanked her friend for paying for the meal and as she stood up to leave, she spied Ezra sitting alone at a table nearby. When Bikira left, Dany slid into a seat at Ezra’s table.
“Dany – I need to speak to you and Alaria urgently. Where is your partner?”
Dany called Alaria via their chat rings and Alaria was happy to have an excuse to leave the church. She rushed over the few blocks to the Inn and joined them at the table a few minutes later.
“How did it go with Biro?” Ezra asked. The duo explained that they were tasked with stealing a knife from the basement of the Church of the Serpent. Ezra handed over a black bracelet to each of them. “These bracelets, when activated, will grant you five minutes of invisibility. They only work once and then they disintegrate. We will make a forgery of the knife for you to hand over to Biro, so don’t give him the original. Once you have stolen the church’s knife, tell the clerk at the Rosebud Inn ‘the deed is done’ and we’ll come help you.”
At that, Ezra abruptly left the table, moving onto other pressing issues.
Dany and Alaria remained at the table, looking at their new magic bracelets. Dany told Alaria about her conversation with Bikira, and Alaria explained her doubts about Father Sirzer. They were going to have to be careful and very strategic about this heist. But they couldn’t shake the feeling that this entire scheme might be a set up.
And so ends the latest installment of our DnD adventures! Thanks for reading! I hope you like this ongoing storyline lol! If you play Dungeons and Dragons too, let’s hear about your character in the comments! 🙂