Exploring Eberron

An Unlikely Beginning, Part I

Or, "What not to do in the city."

Extortion, muggings, murder, intrigues – it’s just another day in the City of Towers. Our stalwart adventurers, relative newcomers to the city, are settling into the hectic city life. This, however, plans to be most unsettling…

Signet strolled through the manicured paths of the University District, high among the myriad towers of the city of Sharn. At these heights, the towers rose in graceful spires and elegant minarets, belying the great girth below that supported them. He worked his way through networks of bridges and walkways, passing artificial parks, gardens, and the curved sides of towers. The walkways providing passage for those who would rather walk than (or were too poor to) take the ever-present skycabs to their destination. Around him the merchants and important-looking people passed by, the occasional bodyguard or manservant in tow. Small groups of students gathered at benches or around railings, the murmur of their conversations carrying in the crisp morning air.

Signet crossed another bridge, finally coming to a series of alcoves set in the curving side of a tower. One, two, three…at the fourth alcove, he ducked inside. Alcoves like these dotted the upper portions of Sharn, providing private meeting places for those who desired discretion. Shortly after his entering, the greats bells of Morgrave University began tolling the hour. As the last of the great bells fell silent, Signet heard hurried steps as someone rushed down the walkway outside the alcove. Moments later, a figure darted into the alcove, glancing quickly outside before turning to him.

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The man who had just entered collected himself, smoothing the fine hair of his balding head with one hand while his other adjusted skewed robes. Decorum preserved, he turned an officious look towards Signet. “I am Quentin Holmes, quarterly chairman of Morgrave University’s admissions committee. You would be Signet Milnesbrook, correct?”

Signet barely had time to affirm the chairman’s statement before the chairman began a rigorous questioning, probing Signet’s family background, magical affinity, and life history. Despite the barrage of questions, it was obvious the chairman was tense and distracted. With sweat on his brow, he constantly tugged on his shirt collar, casting surreptitious glances back out at the walkway and starting every time someone passed the alcove’s entrance. His demeanour became more and more harried, and Signet found him stopping mid-question and looking around worriedly. As another group of people passed by the alcove, the chairman suddenly shuddered and pressed himself against the alcove’s wall. “I knew it…I knew it…” Over and over he mumbled to himseld, fear evident in his face, his body slumping to a huddled crouch. Signet stood startled at the swift change of his interviewer, and took a step towards him, one hand outreached to help the huddled man up.

The chairman’s eyes darted towards Signet’s hand, widening. “I KNEW IT!” he yelled, springing up from his crouch. “DIE, ASSASSIN!” In a fluid motion he drew a dagger from his robes and lunged at the shocked university applicant. With little time to react, Signet couldn’t dodge the oncoming blow. It was all he could to twist his body, turning a fatal stab into a grazing wound that scored his ribs. As he reeled from the unexpected onslaught, the chairman fled the alcove. Robes fluttering, he sprinted down the walkway, alternately yelling “GUARDS! GUARDS!” and “ASSASSIN!” at the top of his lungs.

Signet took stock of his situation. Pulling the dagger from where it had tangled in his shirt, he checked the slice on his side. Blood trickled from the glancing cut oozing down his side, staining his shirt. After a moment of applying pressure, the would had sealed itself and begin to clot. The slight pain would be an annoyance, but the wound itself would likely take care of itself. Signet turned his attention to the chairman and his bizarre behavior. As he reflected, he heard the clomping of booted feet echoing in from outside. A glance outside confirmed his fears: a squad of armored guardsmen was trotting towards the alcoves.

Signet weighed his odds. If he stayed and the guards found him, things would hardly go well for him. After all, they thought he was an assassin, and he’d be hard-pressed to prove his innocence. If he ran, he could possibly escape this mess entirely, but they would likely consider his flight a sign of his guilt. As the sound of boot-clad feet came closer, he made his decision. Signet darted out of the alcove and ran like the Keeper himself was chasing him.

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