Black Seas of Infinity
A man of questionable morals, appearance, motivations, and sanity
Dren, level 10 Changeling
Discipline Focus: Telepathy Focus
Eldritch Pact: Star Pact
Parentage – Monk Business (+2 to Perception)
Birth – Among Another Race: Among Another Race (Tiefling)
Background: Stargazer (Star)
Occupation – Scholar
Pivotal Event – Escape
FINAL ABILITY SCORES
Str 8, Con 14, Dex 10, Int 20, Wis 10, Cha 20.
STARTING ABILITY SCORES
Str 8, Con 13, Dex 10, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 17.
AC: 20 Fort: 19 Reflex: 21 Will: 24
HP: 73 Surges: 8 Surge Value: 18
Insight +21, History +15, Arcana +15, Bluff +17, Streetwise +15, Intimidate +15, Religion +15, Diplomacy +15, Perception +12, Dungeoneering +10
Acrobatics +5, Endurance +7, Heal +5, Nature +5, Religion +10, Stealth +5, Thievery +5, Athletics +4
Bonus Multi-Class Feat: Arcane Prodigy
Psion: Ritual Caster
Level 1: Controlling Advantage
Level 1: Brutal Curse (Reroll any curse damage die that displays a 1)
Level 2: Implement Expertise – 1 to attack w/ At-wills against bloodied target)
Power User Choice: Memory Hole
Psion at-will 1: Kinetic Trawl
Psion at-will 1: Mind Thrust
Psion daily 1: Telekinetic Anchor
Psion utility 2: Intellect Fortress
Psion at-will 3: Betrayal
Psion daily 5: Crisis of Identity
Psion utility 6: Steadfast Stanchion
Psion at-will 7: Mind Break (replaces Mind Thrust)
Psion daily 9: Mind Blast
Psion utility 10: Mind over Flesh
Eldritch Blast: Eldritch Blast Charisma
Warlock At-Will 1: Dire Radiance
Warlock At-Will 1: Eyebite
Warlock encounter 1: Arms of Hadar
Warlock daily 1: Crown of Stars
Warlock utility 2: Spider Scuttle
Warlock encounter 3: Delban’s Deadly Attention
Warlock daily 5: Crown of Madness
Warlock utility 6: Rending Fear of Khirad
Warlock encounter 7: Sign of Ill Omen
Warlock daily 9: Thief of Five Fates
Warlock utility 10: Shadow Form
The fourth room on the right side of the hall on the second story of the Damned Waters Inn and Tavern is not the finest that the inn has to offer. It is comfortable; cozy rather than cramped, featuring a well-made bed, a desk and dresser, atop which sits a wash basin and related amenities. It is the kind of room in which a well-to-do Merchant might regularly stay, or perhaps even a common man treating himself for the night. This being winter, the usually vacant corner of the room instead features a small iron stove and bucket of coal for use in keeping the room warm through the frigid evening air.
The man who calls himself Dren sits alone in this room, splitting his attention between an ancient, crumbling manuscript and a small traveler’s journal, each lying on the desk. The man is a bit older that one might expect for someone alone on the road. Somewhere perhaps in his late fifties, the man’s long dark hair, streaked with gray, is tied in a tail behind his neck that reaches down to the middle of his back. His face, neither thin nor thick, is creased with the wrinkles of age and facial hair so short that it appears to be the result of a lack of desire to shave rather than an attempt to cultivate a beard. His dark green eyes are lost in thought as he scans each line of the manuscript, painstakingly copying the words into the journal along with notes on the matter. He mutters aloud as he does this, the pitch of his voice slightly higher than expected for a man of his age and appearance.
“‘And the twelfth cycle of year of Hindrok shall be visited by a great evil’ Hindrock, Hindrock … an old god of the hill folk of Undershore, I believe. Yes .. yes, every 15th year took his name. Now, the first cycle … and why is it always ‘cycle’, by the way? Does the language of prophesies lack another, more interesting word for ‘year’? … the first cycle of Undershore corresponds to 18 years before Zero, standard. Now, they followed a Lunar calendar, so that would make this year …”
The man who calls himself Dren stops short as a loud thundering knock sounds at his door, scattering his thoughts.
“Yes?” he calls out. “Who is it?”
Receiving no response, the man who calls himself Dren picks up the cane leaning by the desk, pushes himself to his feet with the aid of the desk and cane, and walks to the door. Stretched to full height, he stands nearly 6 feet tall, with a wiry frame. He walks with a pronounced limp and a cane to aid his movement. He tentatively opens the door and peers out into the hallway. Nothing. Come to think of it, he had not heard the telltale sounds of a person walking down the hallway either before or after the knock. Cursing himself for a fool, he slams the door closed and says aloud, “you’d been quiet for so long, I suppose I found myself hoping you were gone for good.”
You are an old fool, Dren.
The deep voice was only inside Dren’s mind of course. Its source, if it indeed had a source other than the old man’s own delirious sub-conscious, was likely a creature of unimaginable power, impossibly far away, whose only choice was to communicate in this way. If it was, indeed, such a creature, then the fact it could communicate at all was a troubling hint at the extent of its powers.
“Fool enough to be taken in by your games,” Dren agrees, again speaking aloud while making his way back to the desk, “And old enough to have foolishly believed you to be gone. It’s been nearly 7 days since I’ve heard anything from you, Argen. I must be on to something important enough for you to break your silence.”
Argen was not the Voice’s true name. The man who called himself Dren had a fondness for languages, and had picked this name from the same language from which he had chosen his own. In that tongue, an Argen was a small woodland rodent similar to a squirrel that children would chase around in play. The small things were harmless and simply adorable. At having named the Voice thus, it was hard to tell which was greater – Argen’s anger or Dren’s amusement.
You can not possibly believe that anything you’re doing will have the slightest impact one way or the other.
“That same old yarn, is it?” asks Dren as he reseats himself and looks back to the documents, again picking up the pen. 30 years of monastic training, not to mention the last 10 years of adventure and travel, had gifted the old man with a talent for splitting his attention among several tasks, if necessary. He could carry on this conversation and continue his work simultaneously, with little difficulty, “For seven years now, you’ve been pitching that line, and I believe you even less now than I did back then. Wasn’t that even the first thing you ever said to me? Or perhaps it was that memorable insult about my mother’s sexual proclivities. A tad vulgar for my tastes, but exactly what I could come to expect from you. Remember that young woman in the Daenlin Market, oh, about three years back? The things you said about her were enough to disgust the most …”
You’re rambling, old man; I’ve no desire to be confronted by whatever vacuous thought happens to come to your mind.
“Yes, well – you’ve left me little choice; it’s the only thing that seems to quiet you. Where was I? Oh, yes, that young maiden from not that long ago. A pretty thing to look at, to be sure, but the acts you suggested in my skull were enough to turn me off of the idea of being with a woman for nearly 3 weeks. By the time I did finally recover …”
Dren could have expelled the voice from his thoughts. He had learned that trick some time ago, but Argen choosing to come back now after what was one of the longest silences in seven years meant that Dren may indeed be on to something important with this most recent manuscript. And so, he prattles on, talking about anything and everything inconsequential, in the hopes of goading the voice into revealing something important in a burst of anger. At some point during this chatter, his work on the manuscript is completed and begins reading the entry from the beginning, confirming the accuracy of his work. He continues on, still hoping to elicit some clue from Argen, but the voice remains silent.
His stream of words ceases only when he hears a creaking in the floorboards outside his room. He is about to chastise Argen for using the same old cheap trick when the door to his room swings violently inward, having been kicked in by a brute of a man standing in the entry way. He rushes into the room and slams the door shut behind him, drawing a knife.
“Good evening!” Dren offers in a manner suggesting that he’d just invited the thug in for tea.
The man blinks, momentarily confused, before asking in a quiet voice, “You Dren?”
“Indeed I am, my man; however, I’m afraid that I’ve got a bit too much work left this evening for visitors – maybe you could come back tomorrow morning instead?” Dren turns back to the work on his desk and begins reading his notes a third time. Precision was the Second Rule of his profession – it was important that he got it right
Quite the hypocrite Dren – observing the second rule while completely ignoring the first.
The thug standing in the room, meanwhile, isn’t quite sure how to proceed. The kindly manner of this man sitting before him at the desk isn’t at all what this situation calls for. He should be begging, screaming perhaps. Didn’t he know he was about to die? No matter, the thug finally decides. He has a job to do, and that’s the important thing. In a flash of contempt for the weak old fool in front of him, the thug draws back the right side of his mouth in a sneer. It is the last conscious act of control he will ever exert over his body.
The first rule, of course, thought Dren. It is the most important lesson his mentor had ever taught him, and her words were as easy to remember today as they were 10 years ago: “You are about to embark on a journey that will take you face to face with the greatest powers you could possibly imagine. The only chance you have of survival is this – never be overconfident. Be sure of yourself and your abilities, but only insofar as they actually exist. To most of the forces you encounter during your journey, you will be less significant than a common gnat would be to you. This is to your advantage – you’ll be able to work as you will, largely without being noticed or observed. But the moment you become annoying, or think that you are greater than you are, you’ll be swatted aside without a second thought.”
The rule had been easy to follow, at first. Having spent most of his life in quiet contemplation or study interrupted only by his duties as liaison between his monastery and the outside world, he was already well versed with the idea of humility. And yet, even with that preparation, the power he had amassed in such a short time quickly overcame his caution. A few close calls later, he had been forced to rededicate himself to mastery over the overwhelming confidence that came with such power. That was, after all, why he choose Dren as his name – in the language from which it came, it was a pejorative term relating to human excrement. Being referred to as “shit” day in and out is a potent reminder of the necessity of humility.
Still, he decides, this isn’t a violation. The man behind him is clearly no threat at all.
The thug’s confusion quickly turns to panic. He had decided to charge the small distance between him and the old man, and plunge his dagger into the man’s neck. Yet, when his mind informed his body of the plan, he found that the body simply didn’t respond. It did not feel as though he were struggling against some great weight or magical shackle – he simply could not force his body to do his mind’s bidding. Was he freezing up at the final moment? No, it couldn’t be that, this wasn’t the first time he’d been sent on such a task. Then why can’t he move, even to retreat, as he now desperately wished to do? The terror quickly overwhelms his mind, pushing aside anything resembling rational thought, until the old man at the desk speaks.
“Stop that!” Dren says harshly, “I’m only allowing your heart to beat at a certain rate. If you continue to panic, your brain will quickly exhaust the available oxygen supply and you’ll pass out. Now – who are you, and why are you here?”
The thug desperately tries to speak, again to no avail. Dren stands and quickly moves to stand in front of the man, his cane in hand, though no longer necessary. In the full throw of his power, Dren moves as a man half his age, free from the burdens of his injury. He taps the side of the thug’s skull with his cane. “Think clearly. Your mind is too jumbled to make anything out. I’m not allowing you to speak.”
A few moments of mental probing later, Dren reaches into the man’s belt pouch and withdraws a thick leather coin purse. Inside is piece of parchment with Dren’s name, a rough description of his appearance, and a list of taverns in several towns all in the same general area; Damned Waters was halfway down the list. Also inside the purse are seven Gold Docks and five Silver Flats. Dren flips the coin purse over and finds a symbol tooled into the leather on the other side – a triangle dyed red inside of a circle dyed white. Dren curses aloud and rounds on the thug.
“You complete and utter fool,” he begins angrily, “You would have to work ten years as a dockhand to even come close to earning this kind of money.” He waves the coin purse under the man’s nose “And you think … what? You think that they would give you this kingly sum to murder a helpless old man? Oh, my boy … you were bait! Bait to drive me out of hiding, to get me to use this power, which they can easily track. You were dead from the moment you accepted your task.”
Dren throws the coin purse on the bed and inwardly curses himself for a fool as well. Despite his self assurances, he had well and truly violated the first rule. He should have quickly killed this man as soon as he appeared. It would have been such a small use of power that it likely would have gone without being noticed or detected. He could have moved one and been gone long before the thug’s body would have been found and word of his death made it back to the Order.
Argen offeres only wordless laughter.
Enough ‘if’s – it is time to be gone from here. Dren gathers up the items on his bed and desk and hurriedly packs them away. He retrieves his heavy cloak and throws it over his shoulders. It was going to be a long, cold night of travel. In his preparations he pauses for only two things – first, to gather the paper bearing his description along with the old manuscript that he had been studying together and to burn them in the stove. He watches a long moment to ensure they are nothing but ash before closing the stove. Second, he turns to the thug, still frozen in the room, and offers a sad smile.
“You may not believe me, but this is a small mercy, compared to what they would have done when the people that hired you got their hands on you again.” With a thought, Dren stops the man’s heart in his chest. The body crumples to the floor as Dren releases his hold on the source of his power.
He gathers his things and makes his way out the door, down the hallway, and into the main room of the inn. It was nearly empty this late in the evening, and the innkeeper blinks in surprise to see Dren coming down, dressed for the road.
“S – something I can help you with, Mr. Dren?” the innkeeper asks nervously. Dren makes a quick judgment of the man – Hard, cautious, and used to dealing with unpleasant situations. He mentally sighs in relief – he can use the man, and will not have to kill him and burn his inn to the ground.
“My dear Mr. Aben!” Dren says, assuming a warm smile and gripping the man’s hand, “Your inn has been a delight, my man, an absolute delight. However, I just received a message of some urgency – you know the sort, not to be ignored and driving a man to the road in the dead of night. Would you be so kind as to have the stable boy saddle my horse and bring him around front? There’s a good man.”
The innkeeper wanders back into the kitchen for a moment and exchanges words with the hired help A young boy hurrys out the back door into the night and towards the stables. Now over his initial shock and composed, Aben comes back through the kitchen door, all smiles and handshakes.
“I do regret you’re leaving us so soon, Mr. Dren. We hope you’ll think of us again if you’re ever passing through.”
“My friend, I would think of no one else,” Dren assures the man, “Do pass on my compliments to your lovely wife, the food here was divine, sir – divine, I say!”
They continue passing pleasantries back and forth in the few moments it takes the young man to have Dren’s horse saddled and brought around to the front of the inn.
“Here we are, thank you again for your kind hospitality, Mr. Aben.” Dren offers with a tone of farewell “Now, about the tab …” he pulls the thug’s purse from his belt and places it on the bar “I trust this will cover everything. I … ah … had to leave in a bit of a hurry, you understand – I’m afraid that I left your room in … well, less than proper order. I trust that the balance of the coin here will be sufficient to compensate you for the inconvenience.” Aben whisks the purse off of the bar and sees Dren to the front door, wishing him well.
The man who calls himself Dren is on the road, alone, heading away as quickly as he dares risk in the pitch black of night. He has something of a head start, but it isn’t much. He can only hope it is enough.
And what now, I wonder? More of your chasing wild rumors and ancient stories? More of the same in the next forgotten corner of the world? There isn’t much left you haven’t explored, you know. By now you must surely realize the hopelessness of what you seek.
“I doubt the search will ever be over, Argen. For now, though, we are making our way back to the others. This part of the search is over. Enough of old books and ancient pages and endless hours hunched over worn volumes for now.
Now, I believe, the time has finally come for action.”