A Still Tongue

Introduction

NOTE: this introduction was pretty specific to my campaign, introducing an NPC named Fitheal, an apostate that travelled with Maric Theirin’s rebellion. Any lead-in will do, as long as the PCs are given a reason to investigate a string of recent grisly murders in denerim.

As you approach Fitheal’s tent, you hear a high, accented voice call from inside.

“Enter if ye’ loike. Kin’t exactly lock a tent.”

A scrawny-looking elf is hunched over a small desk, pushing small spectacles up his nose between bouts of frenetic writing on parchment. He consults a stack of eldritch tomes to his right, and finally seems to notice your presence.

“Ah! New shem, oi? Kin’ hardly have enou’ shem. Ye bloighters breed like rabbits.”

“I go’ ah job for the lot o’ ye, if you can savvy it. I dunn suppose ye have heard of Severan, the Orlesian king’s pet warlock? Bloighter’s a right bad sort, Oi’ve heard tales that’d point yer bloody ears, shem. Anyway, way I see it, that bloke props up the whole damn occupation with his magic, but the chantry, those lot don’t typically savvy to a lowly mage like his sort runnin’ a whole damn nation, roight?”

“Way I sees it, he must have some of the ol’ blood magic in his bag. Proper, roight heretical stuff at that. Course, kinnae prove it, or else the chantry woulda strung him up before he could say “BLOODY TEMPLARS AGH THE PAIN IS ENORMOUS I BELIEVE IT IS TEMPLAR RELATED.”

“Speakin’ o’ the ol’ blood magic, I’d place a soveriegn that this string o’ grisly murderin’s me mates in Denerim have told me about relate to it, and moight even lead back to tha’ snake, Severan. How ‘bout you lot kip over there, see me mate Baldric, and take a bit o’ a look innae it?”

“Ye moight wanna look in on ol’ Ashaad while yer’ makin’ the rounds. Ah know lots o’ folks don’t much loike the Giants, but he’s a good sort, near as I can savvy, and if anyone’s got a proppa’ plan to get this ‘ittle shem revolution off the ground, it’d be him.”

Denerim

Friend of a Friend

Baldric’s house is in the market district, off a rather dingy alleyway behind a tinkerer’s shoppe. His tenemant looks even worse, a bare thing of decaying wood held together by what looks like little more than vain hope.

(If the pc’s look into it some more or call out, a land-lady answers the door.

“Wot? The mage is what you’re looking for. Strange sort, ‘at one. He ’asn’t paid his rent in months, bloody cheapskate. Come to think of it, no one’s seen ‘im for a few days now. I’d go into his room and take wot I be owed, if I ’adn’t misplaced the damn key… Hm, if only there was something wot could jog me memory…”

The landlady can be bribed pretty cheaply into giving you the key, or the door can be picked, forced off it’s hinges, etc.

You weren’t sure it was even possible, but it’s worse inside. A waft of pungent, decaying air fills your nostrils as soon as you open the door, like a family of raccoons had taken over the entire apartment. And then covered it in shit. Then died. Strewn everywhere across every available surface (and stacked to the cieling from the floors) are old, musty books, half-scribbled parchment, dried-up inkwells, and related detritus. There is little sign of life in this room.

The GM can choose to lock the door to the back-room if they wish. Once the players enter the back room:

The smell is even worse in this back room, and you soon see why. Sprawled across a desk is what you assume used to be Baldric. He is several days decayed, obviously.

If the pc’s examine the body, they can garner the following information from examining it:

Pooled around his mouth is dried blood, and further examination reveals that it appears that his very tongue has been cut from his head.

Further examination reveals:

In his hand, tightly clutched is a tiny, compact mirror. It’s glass spider-web cracked. Clutched, too, is a small scrap of parchment.

The parchment contains a list of addresses around Denerim. This leads into the next session, “Shattered Families.” But first, the PC’s have to deal with some friendly local guards…

The Baranti Guard

The players are introduced to the House Baranti Guard, who are also investigating the murders. Naturally, the pc’s being at the site of the murder makes them suspects.

You hear a brief commotion outside, and the sound of running footsteps coming up the stairs.

“You there! Halt! Halt, I say!”

The guards will pursue / attack if the players flee. Otherwise, they try to figure out if the players are cultists. If they’re convinced otherwise, they explain they are after a group of chantry fanatics, calling themselves “The Chantry of the Stilled Tongue” who have been attacking children throughout the city. If shown the list, they identify it as a list of the residences of recent victims.

If the players are unable to convince the guards of their innocence, they are brought down to the jail in Denerim and are held for a few more days, provided they are unable to bribe the guards / convince them of their innocence / escape. As more murders occur over the next few days, it becomes obvious that the players are innocent and they are released.

Shattered Families

The Mirrors: Each mirror is shattered, but each one bears a distinctive maker’s mark on the back.

The Blanchards

The Blanchards were a well-off family of orlesian nobles, newly arrived from the city of Val Royeaux. Inside their home, little is out of the ordinary, save that the youngest daughter’s room contains a cracked, holden-hand mirror.

“The Blanchard Estate is Orlesian opulence at it’s finest. Marble and stone combine together to form a high wall, blocking it from the rest of the city, but through iron-wrought gates you spot a carefully-manicured lawn and lavish fountains. Guards in heavy mail armor flank the gate.

The guards cannot be bought cheap, and are generally suspicious of the PCs, thinking them as little more than lookie-loos. However, if they can be convinced that the PCs are genuinely interested in catching the family’s killers, they will let the PC’s in (under strict surveillance). If the PCs try to enter and are caught, they will naturally be attacked. If they try to steal anything with a guard watching, they will be attacked.

The Matail Family

The Matail’s are scared, and distrustful of Shem. They can be persuaded or threatened into letting the PCs inside, but have already disposed of their dead daughter’s effects. The Elves has covered every single mirror in their house with black cloth, and claim it is in an elven tradition. A successful Cultural Lore check should pick up that some elves believed that mirrors allowed demons to cross over from the fade.

If confronted with the maker’s mark from the other mirrors, the parents will deny seeing it before, though it should be obvious that their lying, and scared.

“The alienage is not a friendly place. Sickly-looking elves beg for coppers in the street. Things are not much better at the address on your list. A middle-aged elven woman is doing laundry in front of a beaten-down shack of a house. She motions to another elf, who not-so-casually steps directly in front of the door you were planning on entering.

Bolsten’s Armory

Their isn’t much left of Bolsten’s shop. It’s been picked over pretty thoroughly by looters, though careful pc’s can find three clues, a smattering of shattered glass, a broken mirror-handle (with the maker’s mark) and finally, a small, locked, trapped chest with some documents in it and a small bag of coins)

The documents contain a note reading: “Bolsten, I hope this mirror is of suitable concavity for your beard-trimming. Your neighbor, Allthis.”

“The shop at the address on the parchment has been picked clean, probably by looters. A sad little sign with a pictogram of a sword and shield hang over a now-empty doorway.”

The Mirror Shop

By this point, the players should have enough evidence to lead them to Althis’ glass-blowing studio. Althis is an elven apostate, though he has hidden his abilities his entire life. The only manifestation of this that has so far been seen is his beautiful mirrors which seem to captivate those who look into them.

Althis was recruited into the Stilled Tongue chantry through brainwashing, and a demon placed inside of him. He created the mirrors in order to bring more demons into the world, as part of Mother Brianna’s evil schemes.

You arrive at the glass-blowing studio belonging to a young elf by the name of Althis. The studio is a bit shabby looking, and rather messy, with mirrors lined up all around the edges of it in various states of completion and disrepair. In the middle of the room sits a young elf gazing deeply into a finely-wrought golden mirror.

The elf pays you no mind, instead, he gazes deeply into the mirror, and in a soft, nearly whisper-like voice, you can hear him chanting.

“The Mother is all. Queen of Agony. Duchess of Pain. Lady of Misery. The Mother is all. Queen of Agony. Duchess of Pain. Lady of Misery. The Mother is all. Queen of Agony. Duchess of Pain. Lady of Misery.” His voice reaches a sudden crescendo, before he smashes his hand into the mirror, cutting himself with the sharp glass. He lets out an otherworldy howl, and flings himself backwards, drenching his arms into a vat of boiling glass as the muscles beneath his skin twist and writhe into grotesque manifestations. The doors leading outside the studio slam shut behind you.

Althis is an abomination similar to Mythallen from “The Dalish Curse,” and his stats may be used or modified as the GM sees fit for this battle. During the battle, if Althis’s health falls below 1/2 strength, he retreats into a mirror for a turn, before erupting out of another mirror somewhere in the studio, shattering it.

If the players shatter a mirror, the shards of glass coalesce into a Glass Sprite, a small, sharp little beastie that attack the players until they are destroyed. Glass sprites attack with a +2 bonus and do 1d6 penetrating damage. They have only 1 health, no armor and 10 defense.

This fight can last as long as a GM chooses to make it last, depending on the number of mirrors or whether or not Allthis makes it back into a mirror in time to recover.

After the fight, the players find a small trunk containing 50 silver coins and a lesser lyrium potion, or any other treasore the GM wishes to bestow.

More Adventures

A Still Tongue

Dragon Age: Bad Company eldritch_hobbes