Special to the Korranberg Chronicle
Edgin Dowrik, Independent Correspondent

STORMREACH—Only days after their triumphant return from up the Rachi River, Zach’s Commandos have vanished once more! The doughty adventurers arrived with little fanfare, debarking from the cagey Chinxero’s modest and unassuming craft. From there, they quickly approached the Morgrave expedition headed by Provost Baris Kaven. Never one to shirk his responsibilities to you, Dear Readers, this reporter quickly approached the good captain.

“Dunno what they wanted, don’t care either,” Chinxero was good enough to say. Undaunted, this reporter applied his powers of persuasion to further loosen the river-dog’s tongue. “Took ‘em upriver a few days, then waited while they went inland. Was surprised they came back, but I brought ’em home. The rest is their business, so I’ll be on my way.”

Before he’d gone too far, Chinxero was persuaded to share this information: “It’s known well enough the river is dangerous. We were attacked on the way, by a few of those filthy Yuan-ti. Took one of my crew. Damn fools, those adventurers…but they know how to fight. Now quit follerin’ me!”

So there it is, Dear Readers! Bloodshed on the river, and an epic battle between the civilization of Khorvaire and the wild savages of Xen’drik! One can only imagine the clash of steel and claw, the darkly imposing reptilian bulk of a Yuan-ti Abomination emerging from the muddy depths of the river, only to be cut down by the efficient marriage of spell and steel, the forces of night repelled by the flash of spellfire off the brightly forged steel of the Sovereign Host!

And, Dear Reader, it did not slip this reporters’ notice that Chinxero let fall a new piece of knowledge, hidden in this melee: for leagues down the Rachi, the Yuan-ti menace has been pushed back, all but eradicated. For a group to boldly attack even Chinxero’s modest vessel is nearly unheard of. Is it possible Zach’s Commandos have traveled farther than thought possible? What jungle depths have they delved in these brief weeks? Ever questing for the truth, this reporter followed the group.

Provost Kaven’s “assistant,” a brightly-attired student, refused access to the Provost, claiming he was in a private meeting. Thinking only of you, Dear Readers, this reporter objected strenuously to this obstruction of the Press and was most brutally restrained by the more strapping individuals in the camp. After enduring their collegial hazing for some hours, I saw the Provost emerge from his tent, escorting none other than Zach’s Commandos to the perimeter! The odd Karrnathi woman, who you will recall arrived in Stormreach with Kaven, left with the group after companionably shaking hands with her former paramour. What ache must have twisted the provost’s heart, losing his companion to the siren call of adventure and glory!

What, you say? That there is no evidence of their love? I approached the Provost then, to discern what I could.

“What, Z? Ha! That’s a tree you shouldn’t climb, I assure you!” Clearly the armored response of a broken heart, the poor man.

But, Dear Readers, we have discovered this newcomer’s nom de guerre, “Z,” a most enigmatic sobriquet, indeed. But what of the party’s purpose? Why the protracted powwow in the provost’s pavilion? Where did they go, and with what have they returned? Kaven was more interested in diving into his academic studies once more, burying his lovelorn heart in his work, than in speaking to the press. Sympathetic to his loss, this reporter prepared to leave. But serendipity struck, Dear Reader, in the form of the very assistant who so rudely rebuffed our inquiries before. Emerging from the Provost’s tent with a shiny object in hand, the lad seemed unable to restrain his fervor.

“Provost! Where did these coins come from,” the youth exclaimed. “They are so clearly struck, and obviously from the sixth dynasty! These can tell us so much than this excava—” The Provost stopped the student with a sudden shove and a stifled shout, but already the sense of the matter had slipped.

Ancient coins from Xen’drik, unexpectedly discovered on the Provost’s desk. Clearly Zach has led his team deep into the continent, exploring the cyclopean ruins of the long-dead giants! These coins, a parting gift from his lady, have given us, Dear Reader, the final clues to the mystery of this expedition. We can only guess what artifacts the adventurers have discovered, and where they will take them now. But fear not, Dear Readers! This reporter remains alert, as ever!

Edgin Dowrik, Independent Correspondent

STORMREACH— Normally home to stodgy old archaeologists and self-styled “prehistoric anthropologists,” Stormreach may actually see some action in the near future. Late last night, this correspondent witnessed the entrance to the city of a group readers of the Chronicle have come to know quite well in recent months: Zach’s Commandos! This mercenary adventuring group out of Sharn was last seen, less than a week ago, cleaning up a group of Karrnathi zombies loose in the City of Tower’s middle district. How did they get to Stormreach so quickly, and why? Only time will tell, but this correspondent suspects a clandestine operation at the behest of a rich patron! What could they need in the dense jungles of Xen’drik?

We may find some clues among Stormreach’s other recent arrivals. Frequent readers may recall last week’s arrival of Morgrave University’s Provost Baris Kaven and his teaching expedition. Though this is a fairly routine expedition, Kaven’s class includes an unusual companion in the form of a mysterious, but apparently quite capable, woman. All attempts by this correspondent to speak with her have been firmly rebuffed, but keen observation provides a few suggestions.Shewalks slowly, but dresses in the no-nonsense style of a Karrnathi soldier and views everything with a cold, tactical gaze, so it is likely she is a veteran of that nation’s army (and perhaps connected to the Commandos’ recent imbroglio in Sharn!). She seems friendly with the Provost, and set up a potent arcane perimeter around the Morgrave encampment outside town, so she may be protecting something hidden amongst this apparently commonplace expedition’s supplies. Something, perhaps, the Commandos are here to collect!

There’s also the small matter of an unnamed privateer airship that passed through two days ago, resupplying before flying deeper into the continent. The Commandos may already be days behind in a race to some mysterious treasure! That unmarked vessel clearly had urgent business, as it docked only long enough to take on supplies. This correspondent can report the captain—an ugly character with a scarred face—paid well, speaking briefly to the dockmaster before departing. When interviewed shortly afterward, the dockmaster’s silence reeked of gold. If these privateers are the Commandos’ target, our heroes will need all their resources and cunning to catch them.

Whatever the reason for their sudden and speedy trip to Xen’drik, the journey has taken its toll on the adventurers. Party leader Zach Erim showed signs of recently healed injuries, and his loyal second, the warrior priest Ajax of the Sovereign Host, seemed somewhat bruised as they entered the city, although the elven archer Elgon seemed unflappable as ever. The Warforged Vanguard, however, had clearly sustained heavy damage, though it had been hastily repaired. Nowhere in evidence was the lovely and brash Kalashtar, Maellana Lashtari, her absence a noticeable shadow amongst the group. Is her absence sign of a covert mission, or has something more sinister befallen the psionic vixen? This correspondent will do his best to find out!

EDITOR’S NOTE—Readers will recall Chronicle coverage of the previous exploits of Zach’s Commandos. Most recently, the aforementioned battle in Sharn’s middle district, and shortly prior to that the salvation of a group of passengers aboard an Orien Lightning Rail coach. In that incident, frequent readers will recall, forces loyal to the Lord of Blades and a band of mercenary halflings attacked the Rail coach. Although the Orien operators did not survive, the fearless action of the Commandos ensured the service crew and all passengers aboard were well protected. Passengers especially lauded the quick thinking of Ms. Lashtari as she brought down several of the halflings single-handed. The group rose to recognition after their help in taking down an organized crime ring in Sharn.


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