Buried Secrets

Chapter 15: Ghosts of Ragnar's Past

Ragnar awakens after being resurrected by a dark cleric. He is quickly knocked out by the third party that commissioned his resurrection.

Upon awakening, Ragnar finds himself a prisoner of the Whispering Blades assassins’ guild, of which The Lord of Mirrors claimed Ragnar was once a member. The guildmaster Vorkith believes that Ragnar – or “Halden”, as he names him – was spying on the guild for some outside agency, and this new identity is part of another ruse. Ragnar assures him it is not. Vorkith then brings Marianne into the room – a woman who has appeared in Ragnar’s dreams, and is possibly his wife – and threatens to kill her if Ragnar doesn’t talk. Ragnar talks Vorkith down from immediate violence, and Vorkith decides to leave Ragnar in his cell to reflect on his crimes. Vorkith tells his lieutenant Burrick to remove Marianne to a safe place, and to take the runestones they found in Ragnar’s effects to another room for study.

Ragnar interacts with the other prisoners in the room. Dariel is a Warforged and a member of the Clockwork Rebellion, a group that opposes the enslavement of Warforged bu the ruling class of Averdi. He was captured while spying on a new slave-trading operation that the Whispering Blades are embarking on. The other prisoner was the object of that transaction – an angel that had entered the realm through the Sigil gate that Ragnar’s allies had opened a few months past. The angel had been overpowered by the Whispering Blades, its wings were cruelly amputated, and now they kept it in a drugged stupor in advance of its sale.

Using some of his simplest magics, Ragnar acquires his Spellbook from his stash of gear across the room and discreetly begins to prepare spells for his escape. The lieutenant Burrick enters the room with a roguish lackey, and transfers the angel into his care, with instructions on where to meet the buyer for a post-midnight rendezvous. But after the other guild members leave the room, Burrick quietly palms a cell key to Ragnar, giving him directions to an exit and telling him to listen for a distraction! He also indicates that Ragnar was once his mentor, to Ragnar’s complete confusion.

When Ragnar hears an explosion a half-hour later, he quickly frees himself and the Warforged Dariel, regaining his freedom and his gear. Exiting the brig, he realizes that the runestones have been triggered, summoning the loathsome Foulspawn into the assassins midst. Rangar follows his benefactor’s advice, evading detection and finding Marianne in the process. Burrick joins the group, admitting to Ragnar that he triggered the runestones to create the distraction, figuring that summoning monsters into a den of killers was poetic justice. The group uses a secret exit into the sewers to make their escape.

After travelling in the sewers for some time, Dariel announces that he can lead Ragnar and Marianne into the Clockwork Rebell’s secret hideout, but he cannot trust Burrick as a member of the Whispering Blades. Ragnar tells Dariel to take Marianne to the hideout and return for him, as he has many questions for Burrick.

Left alone, Ragnar quickly discovers that Burrick’s answers are not to his liking. Burrick says that Ragnar was once a powerful wizard, and the head of an order that guarded the dangerous words embedded in the runestones. Ragnar had recruited Burrick into the order as an acolyte years past. When the order decided it should use the power of the words for its own ends, Ragnar betrayed them and fled. He then began destroying his own memory, creating a cycle of amnesiac cover identities to hide the knowledge of the Unspeakable Words from his fallen order.

Burrick had been stationed in the Whispering Blades as a mole, as it was Ragnar’s last known association and the Order thought he may return. Originally, the plan had been to return Ragnar to the Order for questioning, but a sudden research breakthrough during Ragnar’s brief death has made them realize that his cooperation is unnecessary …

Recognizing Burrick’s insanity, Ragnar moves to engage. What follows is a spectacular – if brief – wizard’s duel, as Burrick unleashed fiery magics while Ragnar summoned an infernal succubus to his aid. Whether due to instinct or some long-forgotten memory, Ragnar threw up defenses that blunted Burrick’s fire attacks, and the insane young wizard fell. Ragnar quickly killed his former student, and left a warning for any assassins or mages who might follow him.

Dariel returns a short time later, unaware of the vicious battle that had been fought here. He leads Ragnar to his hideout, where Ragnar encounters the Clockwork Rebellion, a commune of warforged and other constructs living in freedom underground. Dariel informs the leader of the group, LZ-1, about the plight of the captured angel, who was removed from the assassins prison before the Foulspawn attack. LZ-1 also notes that the Brotherhood faces potential discovery, as a group of adventurers has loudly announced to the powers of Starwhisper that they have the body of 137, a former member of the Clockwork Rebellion. If the Mage Guilds were to access his cortex, they would gain valuable information about the Rebellion.

Ragnar recognizes the descriptions as matching his adventuring companions, and he assures LZ-1 that they are mostly honourable and can be trusted. LZ-1 proposes a test, and sends the party an anonymous and mysterious note about the slave trade scheduled to occur later that night…

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