Heroes of the Everflame
Abra Lopati the Duskwarden
The Duskwardens are a group of urban rangers and warriors charged with keeping the Varisian city of Kaer Maga safe from the subterranean menaces beneath its surface.1 They also guide travelers along the Halflight Path, one of the few routes into the city.
Beneath the streets of Kaer Maga lies the Undercity, a huge complex of natural and artificial tunnels extending deep into the Storval Rise (and perhaps further4), and although the locals may use a few levels nearest the surface for storage or shelter, most of it has never been charted. Everyone in Kaer Maga maintains a healthy fear of the deeper levels, for they know that those who travel too often or too far beneath the surface return with tales of unspeakable horror — if they return at all.
From the earliest days of the city, its residents were under continual threat from the incursions of subterranean creatures that would occasionally make their way to the surface, and inadequately protected by volunteer militia. Eventually, the city’s residents decided that a small, specialized group could protect the city more effectively, and the first Duskwardens were commissioned. In the first years after their formation, the Duskwardens aggressively sought out and sealed as many entrances to the deeper levels as they could find,4 although they left a few select, easily-patrolled entrances accessible.
Over the centuries that followed, the Duskwardens have patrolled the highest levels of the Undercity, maintaining the seals that prevent further attack from below and dispatching any creatures that manage to break through. So successful have they been in their mission that most residents of Kaer Maga are able to live their entire lives without ever encountering the denizens of the deeper Undercity.
The Duskwardens’ primary mission is the defense of the city from what lies beneath its streets; all other duties are secondary. However, the Duskwardens have also taken on the mission of exploring and mapping the Undercity, in furtherance of its mission to prevent further incursion from below.7 The extensive collection of maps, charts, and diagrams created by generations of exploring Duskwardens is kept in the famous Map Room of the Duskwarden Guildhouse in Bis. Yet while these accumulated records offer the most complete guide to the Undercity available anywhere, even the Duskwardens must admit that they have explored only a tiny fraction of the subterranean complex.
The Duskwardens are also authorized to execute those caught committing serious crimes — no one is imprisoned for crime in Kaer Maga.
The Halflight Path
The Duskwardens’ mission to protect Kaer Maga extends also to the Halflight Path, a complex of tunnels and dungeons leading up from the Twisted Door at the foot of the Storval Rise to the city at the top. While it is not the most frequently-used method of reaching the city, it is for several reasons the most cost-efficient, and therefore vital to the city’s trade. The Duskwardens serve as both guides and guardians to travelers using the Halflight Path.
Travelers and traders seeking to ascend the Path gather at the Twisted Door to await their escorts. At dawn each morning, the door opens and a contingent of about a dozen Duskwardens take charge of the accumulated travelers. Once travelers have paid the Duskwardens the fee for passage, they are organized into small groups, each group entering the Path with its escort at staggered intervals, so as to provide the Duskwardens with easier control of the group (and room to fight if attacked) and to prevent a large group from becoming a tempting target.
The trip up the Path ordinarily takes a caravan about eight hours. While most of the Path is subterranean, occasionally the Path emerges onto goatpaths along the cliff face. The Duskwardens also provide travelers with pendants that provide light in the darkness of the tunnel complex, collecting these again when the caravans reach the stone-walled corral at the top of the Path, only a few yards from the city walls.