Death Notice: The Rise of Thay
A small oval amulet with a blue stone
The door chimed softly as Orsino Fortanbras III slowed opened the door to Balthorr’s Rare & Wondrous Treasures. Balthorr may be long gone, but the shop still retained his name. Old Isaak shuffled out from the back room, peering into the dim light until he recognized his guest. “Ah, mister Finley, how nice of you to visit again. Have you uncovered more treasures for me to sell?”
Orsino hesitated before bringing out a small wrapped parcel from the hidden pocket in his vest. "I’m not sure about this one old Isaak, " said Orsino as he unwrapped the thick course linen from small amulet. “I not prepared to sell this item yet, but…” Orsino’s gaze lingered on the dull amulet as he searched for the right words. “I needed to know.” He looked up and passed the small parcel to the old man’s waiting hands. “I have some documents that go with this piece, but I need you to tell me as much as you can about it.”
Isaak studied Orsino from the corner of his eye, pretending to examine the amulet. Issak assumed that the name Charles Finley was an alias, but after all these years Isaak was no closer to the customer’s realname. The relationship started about eight years ago when Charles first came to Balthorr’s Rare & Wondrous Treasure shop to secretly sell some family heirlooms. That continued, slowly at first, but increasing in regularity until it became obvious that these heirlooms were no longer coming from the same family. Their relationship slowly developed from there. Charles would sometimes brining rare but notorious items to sell, sometimes Isaak would drop hints as to specific item a special customer was looking to own, or sometimes is was the other way around. And sometimes, as in this case, Charles would consult Isaak on specific items that he had acquired or was planned to acquire.
The two men started clearing the table to start the first of their usual tests. After the table was cleared Isaak produced a stiff piece of cloth the color of a dull red sun bleached brick then placed the amulet in the center. Orsino placed what looked like a gilded birdcage with a missing bottom over the amulet. Both men quickly stepped back and watch for a minute. “No possession,” Orsino said as he replaced the cage to the shelf.
Issak again cleared the table and placed a large shallow clay bowl in the center of the table. Orsino slowly poured water and oil into the bowl until it was half full, then waited as Issak lighted the oil. Once the fire had caught and flickered back and forth across the surface of the bowl, Issak dropped the amulet into it and both men watched for a reaction. Nothing happened except for the fire slowly burning out. “No Elementals,” said Issak with some disappointment. It had been years since he had encountered an Elemental object.
As Orsino dumped the water into the streets, Isaak placed a large white sheet of expensive paper on the table and started rummaging through one of the drawers. Orsino replaced the bowl to its resting spot and placed the amulet in the center of the paper after drying it off. Isaak returned to the table with a small jar filled with what looked like bright blue metallic shavings. Orsino watched as Isaak slowly poured the shavings around amulet in a large circle. Orsino reached out and dabbed his pinky into the shaving and then placed it in his mouth. Instead of tasting blue berries or cold metal, the material foamed on his tongue and Orsino tasted sour milk. Isaak grinned as he finished the circle and asked Orsino, “Did you get mint or milk?” Orsino ignored the question and passed a second jar of pink chalk dust to Isaak. Isaak removed the stopper and poured a small amount into his hand as he slowly began to mumble what sounded like a chant to Orsino. Isaak than raised his hand above the amulet and released the dust. Both men stared as the dust hovered inches above the amulet and muttered in unison, “Magic.”
Isaak clapped his hands together and the dust quickly disappeared. Orsino picked up and scrutinized the amulet as Isaak slowly replaced the blue metal shaving into the original bottle. “Now then, my boy, how about you tell me about this object of yours?” Orsino continued to examine the amulet, but pulled a sheet of paper out from his coat and passed it to Isaak. The paper was old and had writing on it that made Isaak think that was a page torn from a journal. Isaak seattled into his chair and began to read.
…which had caused us to run further off course until we ran into the granddaddy of storms. The rain came down in buckets, the winds torn our sails to shreds, and the waves push us back and forth until all we could do was batten down the hatches and pray to what gods would listen.
Time lost all meaning and in the darkness that surrounded us we could see neither sun nor stars. We patched, bailed, ate, and slept in shifts, waiting for the storm to end. Then suddenly it end. The rain stopped and the sea became calm, all the men came up on deck, but the darkness still surrounded us. The clouds were still think about us, blocking out any light from the sun or the stars. I quickly barked orders to the crew to repair what they could in this moment of respite, for it truly felt as if were in the heart of the storm. The lightening pulsed all around us, showing us the storm clouds that danced around the ship.
It was a cry from the crow’s nest that alerted us to the arrival of the Dark Waverider. His ship seemed to appear from nowhere on our port, and it moved in to board us. It was a black ship with black sails and it had no lights and moved in the darkness with a deadly silence. Panic struck, but my crew are trained me and I quickly had them in line as the ship came abreast of us. We soon found ourselves fending off the boarding party who came at us with a silent determination. No screams, no challenges, no cries. These warriors simply moved forward, like an unstoppable force of nature, like a wave determined to capsize our ship. My men fought bravely, but I could see that we were doomed. They were already exhausted from the storm and these warriors neither bled nor cried as the pressed their attack on us. It took twice as many cuts and stabs to bring down each dark warrior as it would a normal man and my crew was slowing being cut to pieces. Until that moment I had thought the Dark Waverider a myth, a story told by drunken sailors to entertain each other, the old wives tale of the Ghost ship that would board and burn any ship it caught, slaughtering the crew and leaving any survivors for dead on the wreckage.
But here, now, I saw him! He was standing at the rail of his ship watching my crew getting slaughtered. I grabbed the arm of my First Mate Alonso and pointed at the Dark Waverider. Together we broke free of the made our way to the other ship. The Dark Waverider laughed as we fought him, blocking every attack, parrying every thrush, and ignoring any wounds we were able to make. I knew death was near.
The storm resumed with a madness of its own. Lightening struck the sea all around us, thunder deafened us, and again came the rain, wind, and waves. Alonso began screaming at the Dark Waverider. I know not what he said for the wind carried his words away from me, but suddenly Alonso jumped onto the back of the Dark Waverider wresting against his arms and sword. Alonso grappled with the Dark Waverider and tossed me something he pulled from its chest. Alonso yelled something inaudible at me and I leapt to catch the object and found myself falling over the railing back onto my ship. I watched as Alonso continued to struggle with the Dark Waverider as the ships disengaged and slowly drifted apart. I ran to the rail and shouted for Alonso to jump, but he continued to wrestle with the Dark Waverider, all the while shouting at him as they continued their fight. Alonso never looked in my direction as the ship slipped back into the darkness.
The remaining boarders where quickly dispatched for they slowed their movement as the ships drifted apart. And when we lost sight of the Dark Waverider, the attackers stopped moving completely. We threw them overboard along with our dead, which was about half my crew. But we had no time to mourn, we still had a storm to ride out. I put the necklace on and ordered my crew to their positions as we began to ride out the back half of the storm.
It wasn’t until we had returned to calm seas and the sun that I had time to examine the necklace. It was a small silverish thing with a blue stone in the center. Perhaps it was the trick of the light, but I sware it saw it glow for a second.
We made for the nearest port, but we were far from the Nelanther Isles. We…
Isaak looked up as he finished reading the page and stared at Orsino. “You believe this is the amulet?” “Yes!” said Orisno with an uncharacteristic enthusiasm. “Well, we know that it’s magical, but beyond that I would need to examine it further and do some research in the old archives,” said Isaak as he returned the journal page to Orsino. “No, that won’t be necessary,” said Orsino as he returned the amulet and paper to the hidden pockets. “I have all the confirmation that I needed.” He placed a small bag of coins on the table turned to leave. “That is twice your normal fee. I rely on your discretion in this matter.” He waved and left the shop with a bounce in his step.
Isaak continued to sit and stared off in space as he reviewed what just happened. “Hum, I know there’s more to the story Mr. Finley, you always keep such tight secrets. But there’s something about that story that scratches at an old memory. What was it?” Isaak slowly made his way to his library still deep in thought. “Yes, I’ve heard that tale before. This might finally give me the clue to your identity.”