As a young Tiefling, Skamos was remarkable. Not for his skills as a sorcerer, which were indeed obvious from an early age. No, Skamos was most remarkable for his utter disdain for anything and everything important to anyone other than himself. His narcissism was particularly disturbing to Koyus and Tryyn. As a master weapons crafter, Koyus worked hard to build his reputation. A Koyus blade was one of the finest anyone could possess. Though mildly disappointed that his son wasn’t interested in learning the skills to be a master craftsman, he nevertheless encouraged Skamos and his interest in sorcery. After all, his mother was a skilled wizard, though she only pursued wizardry as a hobby.
Tryyn was concerned though. Skamos was defiant. He had a stubborn streak that was formidable, even by Tiefling standards. She wanted to encourage her son in his sorcery, but being Tiefling in this modern age carries certain burdens. After all, the ancient’s poor judgment left its mark on the entire race. Distrust was rampant. It was bad for relations and it was bad for business. So the vast majority of Tiefling parents worked hard to ensure that children understood the scrutiny they were all under from the other races. Try as she may, Skamos fought her at every turn. Koyus couldn’t even control the boy. The decision was made that Skamos would be sent to the guild house to learn from those who could control him. Surely they would be able to shape him into a respectable sorcerer and an upstanding Tiefling. They were wrong.
Self-absorbed and obsessed, Skamos worked for years to increase his powers. While reasonably skilled in the arcane, from an early age he always viewed teachers and mentors as a means to an end. Far from content to learn the lessons taught by his superiors, Skamos developed a habit early on sneaking into the forbidden libraries and dabbling in spells and rituals that were off limits to sorcerers of his level. In fact, some of his earliest successes were with spells to circumvent the locks and barricades barring access to those libraries.
The night air was cold and the sky sent icy rains from the heavens. Skamos was in the guild library at Genwah when he suddenly found himself confronted by one of the young librarians working late and alone. Knowing her duty, the librarian turned to alert her master. Skamos impulsively attacked her and beat her brutally, knocking her to the ground. Kneeling on her back, the young woman was helpless as he viciously slammed her head repeatedly into the floor. Skamos regained his composure as he observed the pool of blood flowing from under the young woman. Skamos fled the library, leaving the young woman for dead. Unfortunately, it was just one more failure in a long line of failures. Soon after his hasty departure, the injured librarian was discovered, and she was able to identify Skamos as her assailant. Word quickly spread of the assault on the librarian and of Skamos’s treachery. Faced with imprisonment or even death for his crimes, Skamos knew he had no choice but to flee.
Unable to return to his room and uncertain as to how best to escape, Skamos hid in the barn of a herdsman. From this barn he could keep watch over his rooming house. Skamos reflected on his life as he sat in darkness. All he ever wanted was to be a skilled sorcerer. Respect and rank within the guild were more valuable than any gold. Lesser sorcerers received opportunity and reward. Why not him? In a word, trust. But even as the answer eluded the young sorcerer, sleep did not. Like an assassin, weariness crept up silently and overtook Skamos.
Darkness. A warm damp muskiness filled the air. A wave of nausea roiled through Skamos’s body as the stench quickly took him off guard. But the nausea just as quickly gave way to panic. “I must have fallen asleep.” He thought. “Now I’m in a prison cell. Great.” He cursed his stupidity for apparently failing to ensure the librarian’s silence and began crafting the lies that would be the cornerstone of his defense.
After nearly two days though, alone with his furtive imagination, images of the oubliette filled his thoughts. Fear spread through him like the rot. He could smell his own body beginning to decay. Visions of the rats eating away at his flesh tormented him. Was he simply discarded, dumped in a cell to die, forgotten? Summoning what remained of his fortitude, Skamos decided he had enough. “I demand to speak to the guild counsel!” He bellowed. “What charges are being levied against me?” But there was no reply; he heard not a sound.
In those ever elusive moments when his mind was free of panic, Skamos was preoccupied with formulating his deposition, But the image continued to haunt him. If he indeed was in an oubliette, he knew he had at most two to three days to live. Few creatures can live for long without water and unfortunately, Tieflings are not among them.
Though he couldn’t tell how long he’d been sitting in darkness, it was the fourth day when he first heard sounds, first light footsteps outside of his cell, then the sliding of a bolt. As the door opened though, hope quickly fled as a new fear gripped the sorcerer. He was obviously not a prisoner of the guild or local law enforcement. Four small humanoids, hooded and armed stood outside the cell door. Dark ones, he recalled. Was he in Shadowfell? How could this have happened?
“Come,” one said in common. “Be quick about it!” Another continued “Master doesn’t like to be kept waiting.” He struck Skamos in the lower back with the butt of his dagger to emphasize the point.
Skamos noticed that it was barely light enough to see where he was going. It was still better than the complete darkness that threatened to consume him for the last four days. “Where am I?” he asked, “and who is Master?” From behind, he received another sharp blow to his back that nearly knocked him to his knees. And that voice, smooth but menacing “Get up, and keep your mouth shut! Master has special plans for you.”
As they passed many cells, he could hear no sounds from them. None of the moans and pitiful cries one would expect from a place such as this. “Where am I?” he wondered. “Are there any other prisoners here?”
Stopping before a large door, one of guards pounded on the door. Slowly the door opened. Two more Dark Ones parted and made way as they enter the room. The smell of roasted pheasant reminded him of his hunger after four days in that pit. Could that pitcher on the table be ale? As he began to speak “What…?” he was immediately gripped by an invisible hand. Clutching in desperation at his throat, he could feel the hand that wasn’t there squeezing. He struggled to breathe, to gasp but found no breath. His hands found no fingers to peel open and no hand to pry off. Gray yielded to black as the darkness once again embraced Skamos.
Falling through the sky, spinning faster and faster, Skamos screamed in terror as he plummeted to his death. He awoke with a start. It was a dream, just a horrible dream! As he tried to stand he stumbled. The floor was moving. Then he heard the sound of the ship cutting through the waves. He found his footing and headed out the door and for the nearest stairs. Climbing onto the deck he found himself blinded momentarily by the brightness of the midday sun. As his eyes adjusted to the intensity he quickly noticed that the deck hands were not uniformed. In fact, he noticed no recognizable flag flying from her mast. “Be out of our way landie!” One snapped at him. From behind him, a powerful deep voice “We been paid, but keepin’ your arse in the way of runnin’ my ship is the surest way to find yourself swimmin’ the rest of the way.” Skamos turned to the voice and stepped out of traffic. “Captain I presume?” He said. “How did I come to be here?” The captain replied “Unable to hold your spirits I presume. Although I’d be pleased as punch to never meet your little friends again.” He continued “We were paid to get you to Perle de Magie. No questions asked and none answered.”
Thoughts filled his mind like so many dragonflies flitting to and fro. The specifics eluded him though. Like a dream barely remembered he couldn’t recall the conversation or with whom he spoke, but he remembered the cell and the darkness. He remembered his jailors escorting him to a door. What happened next? He couldn’t remember! He felt his neck. No pain or bruises. What was real and what was a dream? Dream, surely it was more of a nightmare. Those foul creatures. He certainly remembered them. It frustrated the sorcerer but what he could remember was the instructions. Obtain the Dragonstar Crystal. Send word back through the pirates. Locate Rosa Floren in the cemetery in the south of Seabend. Ascertain the location of the colossus of Pelor and wait for my arrival. My arrival? Who’s arrival? If only he could remember.
Returning to his cabin, Skamos rummaged through his bag. He didn’t have a bag like this before. Opening the bag, he wondered why it was so heavy. He was shocked to find a bag full of gold. If there was one there were several hundred. He knew his instructions. He also knew a little about Gorainne, but not much. He decided the captain was a good place to start when he heard a knock on the door.
“Enjoying the accommodations, I hope.” The man said with a grin. Unsure whether the man was being sarcastic, Skamos replied “Its fine.” He continued “I have much work to do when I arrive in Gorainne, but as a stranger, I find myself in need of…assistance.” He paused for a moment. Judging that the pirates might be just the sort he needed for his mission, he continued “I’m tasked with acquiring a certain artifact for my master.” As the word escaped his lips, he was astonished. He couldn’t remember this “master”. “I’m going to need men able to do what needs doing without asking a lot of questions. Arrange for me to talk to the captain at his earliest convenience.”
“You won’t be talking to the captain about business, friend. I handle all the business dealings on this ship. Aboard the Carnage, Quartermaster Edward Skittle makes the deals. The captain, well he just runs the ship.”
“I need to take control of the Serpent’s Eye lighthouse.” Skamos was somewhat unnerved that he knew what to do though he’d never done more than hear the name of the lighthouse. We need to secure the road to the lighthouse. I’ll need time, possibly a week or more to work uninterrupted.
The plan was made. The goblins would be an easy bribe. Skittle dealt with their ilk before. He could even skim a bit off the top. They’d watch the road from Perle de Magie. No problem there. They would be able to bring the others. And just as well. Edward Skittle was not squeamish or fearful but no man of right mind wasn’t afraid of the foul hags. He’d hear tale of the horrors they wrought on the poor souls who fell into their traps. And the only good Cyclops to his way of thinking was a dead Cyclops. Yes, he’d take care of the goblins and let them handle the rest. His crew could deal with the occupants. Nobody there but the keeper, and his family, and they’d surely be no problem at all.