Steamfont: Escalation in Steamfont

To: Investigator Geo Friinok, Gem Choppers

From: Intelligencer Okosar

Re: Fifth Report, Escalation in Steamfont

Based upon my recommendations as garrison commander at the gates of Ak’Anon, the King has decided to dramatically increase our defensive presence in Steamfont Mountains. My recent discovery of a new kind of steamwork in the mining valley helped make the decision easy.

The King also freed me from the responsibility of commanding the defense force in order that I continue to pursue my investigation of the growing chaos in Steamfont. Our tactical victories allowed me to venture into the wilderness early in order to get a jump on the investigation.

On my way out, I found what looked to be a small abandoned enemy camp. The only remaining occupant was too weak to flee.

Even injured and completely helpless against me, he would not divulge any information on the Minotaurs, their plans, Meldrath, or the steamworks. I did not take pleasure in what I had to do. If word got out, though, that Minotaurs who didn’t give up valuable intelligence may still be spared, our efforts at unraveling this mystery would be seriously handicapped.

I continued my journey to an outlying camp of Observers. I spoke with both Tindo and Brona Frugrin, observers for the Eldritch Collective. They both seemed very happy to see another Gnome. “Greetings!” Tindo began. “It’s good to see a new face out here.”

Brona, however, was the most talkative. “Well met, Okosar! What brings you out this way? Are you interested in becoming an observer?” I blushed a bit as I tried to let her down easily. “No, you look like the adventuring type. The wilds of the Steamfont Mountains is as far as my body goes. But through my duties as an observer, my mind travels the cosmos.” She raised her arms in a great ball of flame to add emphasis to her point.

I asked her about her duties, and she replied, “Well, I am quite an accomplished enchanter but most of my time now is spent crafting the magical lenses that enable us to see beyond the ceiling of Norrath and into other realms and dimensions.” I asked her if, in her observations, had she seen anything unusual from the direction of the Minotaur mines. It was her turn to blush a little. That’s when I noticed that there were no telescopes in the camp. What a cruel trick the Edritch Collective played on these astronomers!

She regained her composure and countered, “Say, in your travels have you encountered any evil eyes?” I thought of the look Pyzjn gave me right before fell backward from my blast of magical energy, glowing black stone rolling out of her lifeless hand. That was not what she meant, though. “Evil eyes are dangerous creatures of great magical power. You will know one if you see one. There is a rumor that somewhere on Antonica there lives a powerful evil eye by the name of Borxx. I believe that with the lens from her eye and some expert tinkering, I could create a device that will enable me to observe the gods themselves in their native planes. If you were to bring me this lens, the Eldritch Collective would reward you greatly.”

I pass this information along to you, Investigator Friinok, because if this young scientist’s claims are real, you may be able to dispatch one of your agents to assist her in creating this amazing tool. I can envision this being the kind of instrument that could turn the tide of many a conflict, as well as advance our scientific knowledge of the universe around us.

I started toward the mines for another reconnaissance mission, when I came across the defenders of Ak’Anon spanning the entrance to the mining valley, bottling up anything that came from the cave. The new commander must have decided to form an advance line. Depending on the number of troops King Ak’Anon sent, I thought it would be a good idea to have an advance group ahead of the defenders at the city gates.

Meeting the new commander did not inspire my confidence, however. “Greetings Okosar. Have you come to assist in the fight against Meldrath?” I informed him that I was the Okosar who had been leading the defense forces until his appointment, and I’d be happy to assist him to bring him up to speed on the complex situation and the tactics we’ve been using. “Excellent,” he said. “We can use all the help we can get against these invaders. If you can help us repel their attacks we won’t forget your aid. If you find anything of interest while you are fighting them bring it to me and we’ll see what it might mean.”

He did not seem to fully grasp the situation, but I welcomed the opportunity to share with him scores of artifacts I have looted in our battles. I brought out my Santug’s Stocking and presented him with at least fifty things I’ve collected from the Minotaurs and the steamworks. One by one, he picked them up, glanced at them, then said, “I have no need for this Okosar, you can have it back.”

I decided to let him settle in a bit at his new post and invisibly run reconnaissance in the mine. What I found was a very strange event. Deep inside in a large chamber, there were three slaves, a Gnome, a Wood Elf, and a Dwarf. Suddenly, a Minotaur started beating the Gnome. His cried out for help from the guards, even though it was a guard who was thrashing him. I could not stand by and watch the senseless murder. I mesmerized the Minotaur slaver, sacrificing my own invisibility. The Gnome, in a panic, immediately ran to another Minotaur who continued the beating. I mesmerized him, too, and calmed down the Gnome.

Nothing I could say to any of the slaves could get them to leave, so I said a prayer asking for Brell to intervene in their behalf, re-cloaked myself, and rejoined Commander Gearswitch in his command tent. I tried again to share with him my experiences commanding our defenses, but he seemed very disinterested. I asked him what kind of communication he had between this garrison and the force at the city gates. He turned to me with a blank expression on his face. I immediately knew he had moved ALL the forces away from the city.

I grabbed my things, activated my roboboar and double-timed it back to the city entrance. Indeed, it was left unguarded!

In the nick of time, I engaged the stealthy Minotaur force in the tunnel leading down into Ak’Anon!

I thwarted that attack, but there will be others. I may have been formally relieved of the responsibility of the defense of Ak’Anon, but with Commander Gearswitch making the decisions, it may be necessary for me to keep a very close eye out anyway.

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