Episode 002: The Mind of an Artist, Part 1

Events presented in this journal are assumed to have happened shortly after Episode One. While keeping an open mind, we do believe that the participants of this group have been delving in underground magics and the shadow arts. We advise caution against reading and taking the words of this scholar to heart and with caution.  

Note: Despite its aging, this journal was miraculously well-preserved. The works have been translated to the best of our ability, but the original was believed to be written in a mix of cuneiform and Persian script.

Part One – New Faces

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My name is Clover Etrin,” she said, taking at seat at the head of the table. Avi’s displeasure a bit too obvious from where I was seated. This tall silhouette of lavender and amethyst did little to assuage the almost-accusatory stares we started getting around the tea house.

      “I’ve been a travelling…” she reached into her purse to grip what I could only assume to be a kind of heirloom, “…artist for a while. And I’ve heard that you’re a group who has been resolving dealings happening in the shadows around these parts.”

      “I wouldn’t say dealings,” Avi interrupted, “More like… unexpected obstacles.”

      “Whatever it is,” Clover said, “I’m just saying I can offer my help.”

      Avi smiled, then gestured to the rest of us.

      “We have enough people.”

      “We could use one more,” I remembered saying, “We don’t have anyone who can heal us on the spot or to get us out of sticky situations just yet. And didn’t you have some unfinished business up on the hill?” I turned to Avi, who shrugged.

      Birdsong put their hands on their hips.

      “Yes,” they said, “What was up with all that leaving us halfway?!”

      Putting her hands in her pockets, Avi looked over her shoulders before she hunched and leaned in, her voice just barely audible.

      “One of my cousins,” Avi said, attempting to hide an eyeroll, “Had a painting commissioned by a painter who lives near that Market we were told about the last time. He’s one of the people I cannot stand, but he’s got money. I went to have a look at the place.”

      “And?” Birdsong cooed.

      Avi extracted another piece of paper from her pockets – not unlike the parchment they received from Makinah. On had an address and a couple of names written – Basheer al-Bharati, Daveed.

      “If we manage to retrieve the painting from either of these guys,” Avi explained as we passed the parchment around, “I’m sure we’ll be able to split the spoils and have some fun of our own.”

      The parchment ended in Clover’s hand, and I swore I spotted the merest hint of a scowl. Handing the information back to Avisha, Clover said, “If you’re talking about the house up the slope, you might be looking for Basheer al-Bharati. At least, that’s all I know.”

      All of us shifted our attention to the other side of the table.

      “I haven’t seen this name in a while,” Clover explained, “But your cousin has taste. Basheer was an artist who was quite well-known in his time. He seems to have fallen out of favour though.”

      “Hmm…” Birdsong strummed their lute once.

      Heads turned.

      “Basheer al-Bharati,” Birdsong strummed their lute again, eyes to the ceiling as they tried to recall, “Once a well-known artist in the city of Neth, Basheer was an artist particularly good at light and shadow manipulation – one would say his paintings captured in the moment was done so well, you could see the subjects moving.”

      “But like all the mighty,” they continued, “He fell after new trends came about. Nonetheless, he’s still quite popular among the wealthy.” Then, they turned to Clover, “You seem to know a lot about this artist…”

      Winking at a passing patron, Clover replied, “My travels have brought me many experiences, and face-to-face with many people. Basheer might not be the most social of people, but I have my ways around him.”

      “You know the guy?” Avi asked, her eyes lighting up.

      “My friend is…” she started, “Affiliated with Basheer’s gallerist, a man named Daveed. If you cannot reach Basheer at his home, your painting could also be at this Daveed’s place.”

      Silence ensued for the next couple of seconds as we all kept our eyes on Clover, her aura seeming to have gone from a bright, flirtatiousness to a somber darkness. Finally, Avi spoke.

      “Alright,” she said, “You said you wanted in on our missions. You take point on this, and we’ll see what you’re made of.”

Clover waited for a second too long before she lifted her head and smiled – somewhat forced – before she gestured to the exit, “After you.”

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Author’s Note: The significance of the creatures and scenarios in the nightmare dungeons are explained more in-depth in The Nightmares Underneath by Johnstone Metzger. You can create your own scenarios and stories in this world by getting the hardcover here, or trying out the game first with the free version here.