the Clearwater Incident

Caleb was born into the powerful Lyrander family on the island of Stormhome, and was given the best education an training that money could buy. As a child he was gifted in some areas and deficient in others, much as any child his age. If there was anything very unusual in his early years it was that he always preferred to have his feat firmly on the ground rather than sailing the skies, unlike his airy kin.

When he came of age Caleb manifested a mark, but it worked sporadically and never seemed to respond to his will. The wind didn’t answer his call. Storms would not bow to his demands, and the elementals bound to the house’s airships seemed to take a fiendish delight in misunderstanding or even ignoring his commands. It quickly became apparent that, despite his mark, Caleb was unsuited to a life in the house’s guilds.

Undaunted, Caleb resumed his martial discipline and soon found himself favoring the polearm, an atypical choice for a scion of the mark of storm. As a marked individual he still had great status within his house (even if other stormbearers sometimes snickered behind his back), and he soon drew the duty to guard depots in Aundair processing soarwood shipments on their way to Stormhome.

He proved himself extremely capable at this job, and was assigned more and more vital duties that required both a trusted member of the house and a capable soldier and leader. It was in this vein that he found himself in command of a mixed unit protecting the Aundair valley of Clearwater, near the Karrnathi border. The valley’s steep walls were known for containing small quantities of Eberron shards, which House Lyrander mined under contract and the supply of which was threatened by the shifting front-line.

Unfortunately, the valley was also a key terrain feature standing between a batallion of Karnathi soldiers and the rear of Aundair’s defensive line. Scouts noticed the batallion moving in towards the valley, Caleb was ordered to send in his warforged regiment to block the valley’s entrance. This would have effectively sacrificed the lives of the entire regiment (then considered property, not sentient beings) to buy the Aundairians a day or two to re-orient their defenses. Caleb despised the order, but could not find a way to deny it’s necessity.

Retiring to his tent, Caleb prayed to the Sovereign Host to forgive his actions, when he was hit by a stroke of insight. To this day he attributes that moment of clarity to divine inspiration, and has lived every moment since by honoring the gods and their laws. He had a plan.

Over the course of the next 24 hours he forced an evacuation of the entire valley, telling the residents that the Karrnathi forces would take no prisoners. He situated the warforged regiment within the valley proper, to draw in the enemy, and waited.

Dawn came. Dust clouds were spotted along the road approaching te valley, then vast columns of soldiers and war machines. Karrnathi scouts were apprehended by Caleb’s men and interrogated. The enemy forces were larger than expected, the odds almost 15 to 1 against the defenders. Caleb smiled.

As the enemy entered the valley, Caleb ordered the warforged to strike hard and fast, then withdraw to lure the army in. It worked perfectly. Once the majority of the force had entered the valley, Caleb turned to give the order to blow up the damn at the head of the valley. After the long rainy season the reservoir was full, ready to rush through the valley. The wall of water would surge through, killing anything that breathed but hopefully leaving the magical warforged with their lives. They would rather take their chances with the water, Caleb knew, than the thousands of enemy soldiers bearing down on their positions. Any surviving Karrnathi undead would be scattered downstream and could be cleaned up later.

Moments before he could give the order, a final messager flitted toward him with dire news. A hamlet within the valley had refused to evacuate; men, women, and children there had decided to protect their ancestral homes and farms to the last. Almost 400 civilians were trapped firmly between the enemy army and the rigged dam, and there was no time to evacuate them. In less than an hour the army would begin to pass out of the valley and the moment would be lost.

Caleb gave the order. The damn was shattered. The enemy army was severely defeated and disoriented, and the survivors retreated in shame. Aundair was safe. Many of the warforged from the valley were recovered and repaired, though many were not. All of Caleb’s men lived to tell the tale, and tell it they did.

3 months later House Lyrander was served with a subpoena demanding that Caleb be extradited for prosecution as a war criminal, to appease public demands. The house directors met in great consternation, and at the end of it handed down their decision. Caleb was to be expunged from the records and turned out as an excoriate. Sine he was no longer a member of the house, Lyrander had no authority to hand him over to Aundair, where he would certainly have been executed.

Today Caleb is still a wanted war criminal in Aundair, and remains outside of its borders. People from around the five nations may have heard of the Butcher of Clearwater, the tale of which has been somewhat distorted over the years. He is banned from receiving assistance from Lyrander or any of its affiliates and members, but within the house is quietly acknowledged. He did, after all, accomplish his mission: House Lyrander still mines the slopes of Clearwater for Eberron shards.

He now leads a mercenary group known as the Clearwater Knights in Sharn. Privately he wrestles with his conscience. He killed many innocents that day, but certainly saved many more that would have perished in a protracted Karrnathi siege. Was it wrong? Is there really such a thing as “wrong”? Would he do it again if he had to? And if yes, does that make him a monster?

the Clearwater Incident

Chronicles of The Clearwater Knights JustinKutch JustinKutch