Journal of Aphose Deathbringer

Aphose Deathbringer

Status Update: Aphose has been wandering down the seawall mountains and into the lands of Darguun. Having lost contact with his recent adventuring companions, he went into Darguun under the comfortable guise of a goblin trader, with the hope that he could arrange passage to Aruldusk. However, it became quite clear to him that something is happening among the goblin tribes – rumors of tribal warfare and expanding the kindgom are both bouncing to and fro – it sound like the bladebearers are initiating raides along the borderlands and against the wordbearers. Rather than get caught up in another battle that simply isn’t his, Aphose has been on the move towards Sterngate – avoiding any of the more heavily populated goblin camps. From there he can catch the lightning rail and move on – or at least so he thinks.

8th Entry: We’d made it a good length down the mountain when a screech from above alerted us that we had been spotted. I think the sole kobold rider was as surprised as we were. He hefted his mount higher into the sky to fly off and seek comrades of his own, but not before Kal blasted him from his saddle with a bolt of lightning. I pounced on the fallen rider’s broken body, shattering his skull with a quick kick of my foot. It was then that I spied more kobolds coming in on our position – closer to Kal than to me. He was busily struggling with the first riders giant bat – likely in an attempt for us to make our escape on it – he did not notice our new pursuers. My loud shout in his direction helped Kal to dodge to the left as a javelin went singing by his ear. I hollered at him to get on the bat as I ran towards our new foes. It must be that kobolds are born from underneath every rock, because I seem to be running into one with every step I take… they infest these mountains like a plague. It was obvious that Kal was having great difficulty getting his new mount to cooperate, and he went streaking off into the distance with almost no control of the beast whatsoever. There were only a few kobolds in this second bunch, and I was able to make short work of them by way of silent and stealthy attacks. There were more on the way though, and I needed to make my own escape. Just before departing, I saw Kal loop back around searching for me, but I was of the mind that it’s best for him to stay above the fray and make his way back to his friends with all haste – they will need him, and my travels will be easier if I go it alone. As for me, I resume my guise of a goblin trader and begin making my way south into Darguun, where I’ll be able to gain safe passage back to the place of my choice – but where might that be? I have lost the scent of Grolanad and those who could lend aid in my search are now scattered down the other side of the mountain. I pray to the Traveler for guidance and for chance to bring us together once more…

7th Entry: Kal and I have been on the move for three days now… Between the two of us we were able to win our freedom, but at a terrible cost. We are near death and being pursued by still more members of the Greenfang tribe. There has been no time to rest, no time to recover, no time to think. We simply run – and run – and run. Kal and I have developed a special bond – he knows more of me than anyone but Grolanad at this point I think. Something about this elf loosened my tongue and my life’s story dripped free from my lips. Perhaps it was for fear that this would indeed by my last adventure – and my vengeance against my former master would go unfulfilled unless someone, anyone, knew the truth. He shared much of himself with me as well – and I as I said, a bond formed – a bond of brotherhood that arises between two warriors when they are all that is left standing against an army bent on their destruction. We made our way clear of the mountains, and I believe we have successfully eluded our pursuers. Now we must focus on tracing the path of our friends and returning to them with all haste. There is something they need to know about the power of the dragon – I just hope that we are in time.

6th Entry: She played along for a while I think. Though at the time I believed my deception had been complete. As she settled upon the ground and cast her glance about, she erupted in a terrible roar of anger – seeing her prized possessions looted, her chance at redemption shattered, and her minions lost… all but me that is. In a fit of rage, she reached out one gigantic talon and struck me so hard that it nearly threw me over a ledge. I cried out in absolute agony, shaking the very foundation of the cave with the pain in my voice. It took quite some doing, but I was able to plead for my life, begging for her forgiveness – I guess the outcome was the best I could have hoped for… I was dismissed from my charge as the tribal leader and condemned to imprisonment until she could decide what to do with me next – all while in the guise of Ashface. I doubt I would have survived in those few moments were it not for my ability to wear a new face and persona so easily. I would have been the sole focus of her angst – and easy prey to one such as her. The last I saw or heard, she was marshalling her guardians and assembling a force to deal with the invaders. Great riding bats flooded into the room from hidden alcoves above, and were quickly mounted by well-apportioned riders – rising out into the night through the hole above. Several squads of soldiers were also assembled… with a roar of such power as to be almost unimaginable, she ordered them one and all to spare nothing in the destruction of her enemies. For some reason I think perhaps I am the lucky one after all. I fear that Fang, Elrick, and the rest are in terrible danger now… and there is nothing I can do to help them. I have my own problems though. When she did finally turn her attention to me once more, it was the most unfortunate of circumstances. Glaring at me, and studying me closely, she pierced my disguise with ease…. And then something very strange happened. This powerful beast showed fear – true terror at the look of me. I have no idea why, or what prompted such a reaction, but it was quickly replaced by a sly smile. At her command I was taken into the very depths of the tribal compound and thrown into a cage hanging by a thin thread over a chasm below. Next to me, just a few feet away, was the elven sorcerer the others had described to me. At least one of my problems had solved itself, but there were so many more that needed pondering… and action.

5th Entry: A pulsing, breathing mist – alive in its own right – or at least imbued with the appearance of life. It served as our guide forward until parting to reveal the allies of my new companions. They were tied to a large dark obelisk covered in arcane runes, unconscious and unaware. One was missing though, apparently a dragonmarked sorcerer of wind – that did not stop us from fulfilling our duty though. We were able to pull ourselves back before alerting a swarm of kobolds infesting the room. I took a moment to sneak up closer for a better look. Like a silent wind I crept forward and listened to the rantings of their apparent leader. Something about a runescar was muttered, but what drew my attention was the obvious references made to the return of their dragon queen. Fang, Elrick and I quickly articulated our battle plan, using surprise and confusion to our advantage. Elrick dashed in and grabbed their attention with a blast of fire – setting two wooden bridges aflame, hampering the arrival of reinforcements. Fang went up the middle and began ransacking his way through the kobold horde. Meanwhile, I ran for the leader, shocking both him and my allies with the speed and strength of my prowess. In the heat of battle their simply was no time or margin for deception amongst friends, so I unleashed everything I had, sending the one called ‘ashface’ flying off into the distance and ending his life with a second strike. Fang was handling himself with little trouble, but the mage had found himself face to face with a dark figure of a kobold who’s agile movements and swift blades marked him as a far more challenging enemy than any others left remaining alive in the room. Though I was beset by two more minions, I danced my way around them and charged across one of the smoldering bridges to send Elrick’s opponent careening over the edge and into the chasm below. In the breath of just a few seconds, the room was clear and our allies rescued. It was interesting to watch the wild eyed greed that ensued though, as this band of adventurers realized they were standing atop an undefended dragon’s treasure – they picked it clean in less than a blink of an eye, loading up their pockets and purses to the brim. Fang and I were measuring our options for departure, when a wave of darkness swept across the sky, blocking our view up through the enormous hole above. There was no time to react – the party scattered. I yelled at the mage to outline me in the glow of his magical light and ordered them all to run… A rash and foolish plan had formed in my mind in those few seconds, and I ordered them to run yet again – stating that I would find the last of their number and return to them when I could. The human Fane looked uncertain for a moment – I can understand his hesitance to leave a stranger behind, to face a dragon alone, but I shattered his illusion by shifting into the form of Ashface… I could see a momentary spark of horror in his eyes, and then he and his companions began their escape. As for myself, I put on my best draconic smile and settled into what would either be the greatest performance of my life, or the last.

4th Entry: I only have a few moments to rest. We have broken into the greenfang lair. Despite my best efforts I was unable to bluff my way in, so we were forced to fight instead. I nearly lost my life – foolishly to! Had I only taken a moment to assess the situation, perhaps I would have managed to catch the trap that sprung open beneath my feet – perhaps I would have avoided the swarm of rats that pierced my flesh with their vicious claws and gnashing teeth. As has happened so many times in the past, I felt the cold hand of death on my shoulder, but was able to rip myself free of it at just the last second. For the past hour or so we have been following a deep tunnel leading further into the land below. We beleive we’ve been able to avoid most of the inhabitants of the caves we are in, but I think it likely that we will be challenged again soon enough. It is time to go now, we have a bridge to cross and who knows how much more traveling in this dark place will be required before we reach our goal.

3rd Entry: We spent much time talking, but they do not appear to know anything of value – but this Alcanane character of whim they speak intrigues me. They are also deeply interested in finding their friends. I was only able to pull two of them free before the rest were discovered by the kobolds. Unfortunately, they were not from the same tribe I had been working with – these were from one of the more notorious tribes of the area – the Greenfangs. With little to lose, and potentially more information to gain, I agreed to help them – wearing the face of Kaleb though. They beleive I am a goat hearder from a local village… It is the best I could do considering the circumstances.

2nd Entry: I am sitting here near my fire, rifling through the meager possessions of wounded and unconcious men. One is a human – a mage by the soft look of him. The other is a hearty half-orc who is apparently no stranger to the woods. I found them earlier this morning after tracking Grolanad to his lair. Just as I was readying myself for the last few steps of my long journey, the mountain errupted in a massive explosion, echoing through the air like a crack of thunder driven home by the gods. It came from ahead, where I had hoped to find Grolanad and put an end to my him with my vengeance. Instead, I saw these few, half a dozen of them almost – thrown here and there, battered and bruised, obvious victims of the blast. I was about to leave them to the elements and their own fates when I heard the mage whisper something of ‘the tall one’. With my attention captured, I made the decision to pull him to safety – Only the Traveler knows what these savage kobolds might do to fallen adventurers here in these mountains, especially after all of the suffering they have been put through. Once they wake up, perhaps I’ll learn more…

1st Entry: I can sense his wicked hand at work here in these mountains. Like a blanket of death, his smothering presence can be felt in every crevice of the land. I have spent several days with the Grolcag kobolds of the Seawall mountains… Disgusing myself as a goblin trader has made it easy to infiltrate their small tribe and learn more about the mysterious stranger they often refer to as ‘the tall one’. Used in conjunction with ‘the short one’, and in the context of regular and repeated abductions of tribe members, I can only presume that Grolanad and this other man (who sounds like a dwarf or gnome from the tales they tell here) have been snatching kobolds up en mass for some sort of slave labor, or worse. It took me a while, but I was able to learn enough to discern his likely whereabouts. I am headed there now. I have little doubt that my former master will be surprised and displeased to see me, but then again – hopefully his quick death will be just as surprising to him. To see the life drift from his eyes while I smile into them would give me great pleasure – and I can think of nothing more deserving than an untimely death for this wretch of a man. After what he did to me – even thinking about it rattles me and I begin shaking with rage… To have taken the life of my own father through some great trick of his… but alas, the time is near, and so to is the death of my once lord and forever foe.

Introduction: Aphose has spent another year living amongst the monks of his order, living in service to them and being true to a new sense of purpose and fulfillment in his life. Unfortunately, this time of peace ended for Aphose when word reached his ears that Grolanad was up to his old tricks again, this time in league with devils and other dark forces to put a new and terrifying plot into motion. Knowing that he needed to find closure with his past before true peace could be found, Aphose left the monestary once more and set out on the path of his most hated enemy, this time intending to use all that his master had taught him of lies, deception, and death to end the githyanki’s life once and for all. Tracking Grolanad to the lands of Thrane and the Seawall Mountains of Breland, Aphose has followed a long and spotted trail leading him to a band of savage mountain kobolds who worship the black dragon Faestius. They are the last to have seen a figure matching Grolanads description and speak of a fortress hidden in the mountains where the ‘tall man and the short man’ come from and take members of thier tribe away, never to be seen again. Aphose was heading in the direction they described when a loud explosion shook the mountains. This is where our story begins…

Origins: Originally hailing from the lower bowls of Sharn, Aphose was raised (for a time) by his drunkard father in Lower Menthis. His father eeked out a living as a bouncer for a minor house of ill repute wedged in amongst the dives that litter the city’s red light district. Knowing nothing of his mother, and recieving no mention of her from his father – who just grunted at any questions about her, Aphose largely raised himself, surviving on his own on the dangerous streets of the lower city. As often happens with such youths, Aphose fell in with a street gang that did small jobs for a junior member of House Tarkanan. Over time, he developed great skill in the arts of infiltration and thievery, using his racial abilities and natural born skill to rise up within the ranks until he was the leader of his own gang, called the Firelight Stalkers. A dragonborn rival within the gang eventually betrayed young Aphose, leading to his arrest by the Sharn Watch. Once in their custody he was branded across the right side of his face as a thief, and sentenced to 5 years in the dank prisons lying deep beneath the city. Luckily, his captors were unaware of his true nature, and he was able to escape his confinement a few months later. Hastily departing the city of towers, Aphose headed towards the lands of Droaam to live amongst its monsterous denzins – hoping to find a place he could call home. Sadly things did not turn out as he had hoped. Living amongst the goblins and trolls that reside there, he found life to be even starker than his time in Sharn. With no real rule of law, survival was an every day battle – one that he nearly lost on a couple of occassions. While he learned a great deal living amonst the cruel citizens of Droaam, his lessons were hard earned and after three years, he decided it was time to move on and seek life elsewhere. Wandering for the next couple of years, he found himself dwelling longest in the most unlikely of places – a monestary hidden deep in the Endworld Mountains. There he was accepted, even appreciated for his gifts. While living there he was trained in the martial arts and taught to use his mind and body as weapons in the defense of his life and the lives of those dearest to him. Though the monks of the Endworld Order had great patience and high hopes for Aphose, they could not shake him of his harsh leanings, bordering on the edge of cruelty. In sparring matches he was much too rough with the other initiates of the order, and would often play nasty tricks on people. It was also quite clear that he was unwilling or unable to trust those around him, even for a moment. These traits were not lost on one visitor though, a tall githyanki lord who was passing through at the time. Grolanad was impressed by the prowess of the young changeling, and recognized his unique combination of gifts as possibilities and potential. Grolanad was a life-long assassin with a dark, ruthless reputation for results. He saw Aphose as a potential heir to his assassin lineage and coerced him into service. Taking one last look back at the ancient monestary, Aphose had no idea what he was leaving behind or the kind of future that would become his destiny. His training under Grolanad was a thousand times worse than anything Aphose had experienced to date. He was torn down and rebuilt in the image of a true death dealer. Every ounce of humanity and compassion was ripped from his soul, leaving a relentless, ruthless being that quickly gained prominence amongst the ranks of assassins guilds across Khorvaire. As Grolanad had predicted, the changelings natural talents and learned abilities made him a deadly killer, able to infiltrate nearly any setting and take out a target from a position of trust. and this is how he was used – time and time again; until the wars ended and a tentative peace settled across the land. With the war behind them, Grolanad and Aphose found themselves selling thier services for acts of spying, thievery, and assassination amongst the great houses. Thier path of murder was bathed in the blood of innocents who had simply become ‘inconvinient’ for those in power, or with enough money to aquire thier services. Eventually Aphose began to feel a tugging at his heart and started to question his choices – and his place in the world. During one job, sent out to kidnap the daughters of a prominent government official, Aphose finally encountered a situation that brought his whole world crashing down. Once the official had performed the act of espionage required to secure the safety of his precious daughters, Grolanad was ordered to take thier lives anyway and to send their heads to the rivals of the official with a letter describing his secret act – outing him, discrediting him, and placing him in prison. Aphose could not participate in such a devious plot, and there was a confrontation between Aphose and Grolanad that ended badly. Aphose left to pursue his own path. Feeling that he had been betrayed by his apprentice, Grolanad concocted a grand scheme to teach Aphose a lesson and remind him who the master was. It took several months to set up, but through a third party Aphose was brought in to fulfill a contract to take out a crime lord back in his home city of Sharn. Although Aphose had made the choice to end his participation in the slaughter of innocents, the idea of taking out a criminal, especially one with the history of this particular target, appealed to his growing, though still oddly warped sensibilities. According to his employer, this partricular target had a penchant for devious acts with small children, the raping and murder of women, and was very influential in the sale of Sharn’s most addictive, and dangerous drugs. All in all, an individual in serious need of a quick death. The instructions from his employer were clear – though unusual. The emphasis was on Aphose keeping his distance and taking out his mark from affar. Not a strategy that he was accustomed to, but performed admirably anyway. With a sense of satisfaction over the death of such a miserable being – Aphose’s heart was wrenched from him when he discovered that the identity of the man he had killed was none other than his very own father. While his father had not been much to look at during the childhood Aphose had suffered through, the elder doppleganger had cleaned up his act at the behest of a new woman in his life and had risen above his previous station, now earning a living as a carpenter beloved by friends and neighbors. It did not take long for Aphose to put the pieces together and trace the treachery back to Grolanad. With hate and vengeance in his heart Aphose tracked him down and confronted him. This time the battle was a deadly one, ending with Grolanad landing a killing blow on Aphose, dropping the apprentice to the ground bleeding to death from an unrecoverable strike intended to pierce his heart. Aphose passed out from blood loss and Grolanad thought he was dead, but Aphose, being smarter than given credit for, had used his changeling powers to move his vital organs within his own body before the confrontation, shifting them to locations that rendered them less exposed to the blade of the githyanki assassin. Aphose lived, but now knew he was no match for his former master in a direct confrontation. Aphose returned to the Endworld Order and begged to rejoin the sect as a student once more. Seeing the desperation for acceptance in his eyes and sensing the sencerity of his heart, they allowed him to return to thier ranks and he has remained ever since. Until…

Journal of Aphose Deathbringer

Bloodwars bradleyb1972