Submitted by: CR Simmons
Aleria the Unseen (hef, 6th lvl assassin, LE)
Magical Items: Hat of Disguise, Short Sword +2 (Lifetaker)
Aleria was born in Calimport 52 winters ago to the elven concubine of a prominent noble . When Aleria was still a child, she was apprenticed to the assassin's guild to satisfy a bargain her father made with an assassin years before. There she blossomed, learning the techniques and skills of the assassin. Eventually, her skills became highly sought after. She was noticed by a powerful wealthy merchant and placed on retainer by him in the Year of the Snow Winds (1335 DR). She was used not only to assassinate enemies, but also to root out conspiracies against the merchant and his holdings.
Aleria recruited or suborned dozens of people in Calimport in order to collect the information she needed. In time, her network of informants and spies pervaded most aspects of Calimport society. Aleria had become an expert in moving among the shadows of the intricate world of espionage, and she also came to understand the inherent value of information and the lengths people would go to in order to get it.
One night, in the Year of the Bow (1354 DR) Aleria left the merchant's service. The merchant was understandably unhappy about her disappearance. However, between the threat of blackmail if he tried to find her and the fact that she would be very difficult to track down he decided not to try and search for her. Aleria took the identities of her informants with her, having decided that a freelance information merchant was just what the city needed. For five years Aleria sold the information gathered by her informants in Calimport, all the time expanding her network of informants to new cities and lands. Then something happened that forced Aleria to rethink her business. A powerful Thavian mage on "whom she was gathering information" attempted to have her eliminated. Aleria barely escaped with her life, killing one of the assassins as she did. The attack gained her not only the sword, Lifetaker (detailed below), but also the insight that Calimport was not the healthiest place for her to stay. Not knowing if her networks were compromised, she cut off all contact with her agents and fled the city, taking her fortune with her. She decided to relocate to Arylon, a small city that was close to the choke point on the trade route of Elturel and Iriaebor. This is the city from which she would rebuild her network of informants.
Moving slowly and carefully, Aleria is attempting to infiltrate her agents into palaces, trade groups, mercenary companies, bordellos and taverns across the Realms. These agents report data concerning trade agreements, troop movements, caravan routes and other information. She has several agents in place in Arylon for self-protection, but refrains from becoming too involved in the city. She believes that avoiding the local authorities' attention is the key to her safety and success. Aleria often travels to contact her agents and to recruit other candidates. When on the road, she always uses the magic of her hat of disguise to conceal her true appearance.
Aleria is attempting to place at least one ring in the major metropolitan areas and ports of the Sword Coast. The more trade oriented areas, such as Waterdeep and Baldur's Gate, will eventually have three to four independent intelligence rings. The agents in charge of these rings, called controllers, independently recruit and run several informants each. She places an extreme emphasis on insulating informants from the rest of the ring, so the discovery of one agent does not jeopardize the entire group. Each informant is to know the name of his or her controller only. No informant knows any other informant, other controllers or the true identity of his employer. Information is passed wherever feasible by dead drops and other means where agents do not come into actual contact with each other.
The information collected by Aleria's agents are passed to her by means of post riders, trade caravans, and in the case of extremely important information, armed courier. All such missives are, of course, coded.
Aleria is intelligent and her years of espionage have ingrained in her a deep sense of wariness. She is exceedingly careful in placing her agents and uses every trick in her rather expansive repertoire of espionage skills to avoid detection. When Aleria meets with one of her agents, she always appears in the same disguise that she used to recruit that agent, fostering the idea that she is simply another link in the chain. Consequently, Aleria has many disguises and must keep track of each disguise that she has used.
She takes good care of her agents. However, if one is compromised, she has no compunctions about killing him or ordering his death in order to preserve her other agents.
Customers must search diligently if they wish to contact Aleria. Usually word of how to reach her is circulated in the criminal societies of the Realms, but she is attempting to break into the government information circles. When meeting with a client, Aleria always assumes a disguise, usually that of a male. Meetings usually take place in public areas or places Aleria can secure with her hired swords. She will never meet a client at a place where she cannot guarantee her own safety.
Lifetaker was created by clerics of Bhaal to aid assassins in their work. The blade and hilt are both sooty black with no ornamentation except for a tiny symbol of Bhaal stamped on the blade just above the hilt.
This sword confers several abilities to it's owner in addition to acting as a +2 weapon:
Lifetaker is not a cursed blade per se, but anyone who uses the blade to kill another being has his or her alignment instantly shifted to Lawful Evil.