The Adventure Begins
The first chapter in an epic tale of heroism, loyalty and treachery. Researched and retold by Belkas Silverquill, scribe, scholar and historian of high standing.
Here begins the grand tale of the great adventure undertaken by our band of extraordinary hero’s. Arnisil, an Aasimar cleric of devout faith. Dinky, a skilled wizard of Gnomish decent. The enigma that is Silas, a roguish Human. Paradox, an odd but powerful Human druid. And of course Gol’kosh, the fierce half-Orc barbarian.
Our tale begins as so many epic tales do… in a tavern. But not just any tavern. A tavern named ‘The Lost Prince’ in the town of Oakham. Having not worked for several days, our heroes have come looking for a night of good food, drink and entertainment, as it is widely known that a travelling minstrel will be performing this night at the tavern.
Our heroes find themselves an empty table and order their favoured refreshments. The tavern has drawn quite a crowd on this night, many of them are townsfolk whom are easily recognized by the heroes. But at the next table over are a couple of strangers not known to them. A hooded and cloaked figure with his back to their table sits opposite a large, dark skinned warrior who appears to be ever alert and watchful.
On the table behind these strangers, in a poorly lit corner of the tavern, sits a women of noble bearing and appearance. Dinky, who has extensive knowledge of the Royal Family and local nobility, does not recognize either the woman nor her family sigil, which he finds strange…
The minstrel starts playing and soon the locals in the tavern are clapping along with the music. This minstrel quickly proves himself to be a musician of great talent. As the applause dies down following his second tune, the minstrel introduces himself as Rethidore Halfmoon, and announces that he could think of nothing more fitting than to recount the tale of the lost prince in the tavern of the same name. He then, quite enthusiastically, begins singing the well known ballad. Having proven himself an excellent musician, it very quickly becomes evident that he is an extremely poor singer. But the tavern crowd is quite polite and allows him to finish with little heckling.
As the minstrel returns to playing just music, the mystery noblewoman catches the attention of Arnisil, and motions for him to join her. At her invitation he seats himself in the empty chair on the opposite side of the table. Introducing herself as Vanessa Callestran, she explains she is seeking to employ people with particular skills and talents. She then asks Arnisil a number of questions regarding his exploits, which God he follows, the abilities of the other members of his group and other such matters. Seemingly satisfied with his answers, she rewards his time with a silver coin and Arnisil rejoins the group. One by one, the other members of the group are similarly summoned and politely quizzed by the mysterious noblewoman, but nothing is learnt concerning the reasons for her enquiries. All that is, except for Gol’kosh, who ignores her summons. Last to be summoned is Dinky, and he is most suspicious of this woman. Before she can begin with her questions, Dinky asks a few questions of his own. It soon becomes apparent that this woman is clearly not who she claims to be. As he attempts to sort through the tangle of her claims and contradictions, her visage appears to shimmer, and he is certain that he catches a glimpse of a very different person sitting where the noblewoman is sitting. Feigning illness, Dinky quickly excuses himself and returns to the others. On recounting his experience to the group, Gol’kosh takes up his axe and confronts the woman. When the noblewoman does not react to his demands and threats, he turns on the other two strangers intending to confront them. Instead he catches the hooded and cloaked figure in the act of conjuring a spell. Distrusting magic from the hands of strangers, Gol’kosh reacts in the only way he knows how. With a mighty swing of his axe, he strikes a crippling blow to the stranger, interrupting the spell. Dinky, in a desperate attempt to stop this madness, shrouds the area in webs. The dark skinned warrior quickly draws a flaming sword and with obvious skill, clears the area around them and the noblewoman. Then, in a flash, they are gone!
With naught else to be done, our group of heroes clean up the area and make good their explanations. They are soon fronted by the tavern owner, and learn that the trio did indeed take rooms at the tavern. Having paid for the damage, along with a handsome amount of coin for the trouble caused, they ask favour of the owner not to disturb the rooms occupied by the strangers until the morning, to which he readily agrees.
As activity in the tavern returns to normal, a messenger arrives and informs the heroes that Gustav, their employer, wishes to see them in the morning. Given the events of the evening, the group decide to retire for the evening.
At first light, our heroes return to the tavern where Dinky uses his magic abilities to learn the identities of the occupant of each room occupied by the three strangers encountered the previous evening. The woman is revealed to be a human by the name of Tessimon. The warrior is also a human who goes by the name Zert. And the hooded figure? A half-Orc known as Heunar.
Armed with this new knowledge, our brave adventurers make their way to meet with Gustav. They tell him of the previous evenings events, and reveal the names of those involves. Gustav’s reaction surprises them all – his shock and surprise at learning that Zert had been present in town is clearly evident. He is deeply troubled by this news. He explains that Zert was involved in the disappearance of the prince, and was a guard commander with the Temple of Elemental Evil. Some of the heroes recall seeing a smile on Zert’s face during the ballad of the lost prince. Gustav goes on to tell of his involvement in destroying the Temple of Elemental Evil some 15 years ago. He goes on to reveal that he fought alongside Dinky’s brother, who was lost when the temple fell. Gustav tells the long tale of the fall of the temple, and of Zert. But with no leads to follow, Gustav can see no point in pursuing the events of the previous evening – where would they start?
Instead he tells them of a request from an old friend of his, who also fought by his side against those devout to the temple. Three bandit leaders thought to be in the area, operating under the name of the Green Iron Gang. An ongoing thorn in the side of peace officers everywhere, as no sooner were all known members of the gang killed or brought to justice, that others would appear wreaking havoc under the same banner. These three were no exception… Gerrick Strong In The Arm, a dwarven pit fighter. A female cleric of Hextor known as Iron Hilda. And the third leader only known as Steel Claw. The latest word was that they had taken refuge in an old ruined fortification in an area of the Gnarley Forest to the east.
Our band of heroes gather their supplies and set off in search of these old ruins. After a day of travelling, they set camp and settle down for the night. Just before dawn, with Arnisil on watch, strange movement is heard around the camp. Arnisil wakes the others and a search conducted. A giant spider is found encircling the camp in web, but is quickly dispatched. To the amazement of the others, Dinky speaks with a bird and learns the location of the spiders lair. With this knowledge, it is quickly found, but another giant spider is present. Again, it is quickly killed, and a modest sum of coin located.
Our victorious heroes are soon on their way, and by about noon they soon come across the outer perimeter of the ruins. Further in, they sight a low tower that appears mostly in tact. As they make their way forward, they come under fire from archers in the tower. Forced to split, Gol’kosh and Paradox make for the tower as the others take cover behind the remains of a wall. After a few attempts Gol’kosh smashes in the door to the tower and aided by Paradox’s giant bear, reduces their foes to bloody corpses. Inside the tower, Gol’kosh finds an open pit takes up a large area of the floor in the tower. A rope hanging over the edge of the pit leads down, and an iron ladder set in the wall leads up.
Meanwhile, a statue behind the wall catches the attention of Arnisil and Silas. Arnisil translates an inscription in the base of the stature – “It is made of timber. If you have it, you have to look for it. When you find it you have to get rid of it.” Silas touches a series of runes on the base of the statute to spell out the word “S P L I N T E R” A section of the wall near the statue opens up, revealing a tunnel leading down. Out of the ruins, thorny vines lash out at them. For some reason these vines appear to ignore Silas, who is the closest to them, and instead entwine Arnisil, crushing the life from him. Unable to breath, Arnisil soon falls unconscious. The vines release him and seek a new victim. Alerted by cries for help, Paradox leaves the tower and rushes to help. After a short struggle, the vines are slain, and Arnisil’s health is restored.
Catching their breath, our heroes are now left with a decision. Do they explore the tower first, or the opening in the wall. Who’s voice will carry more weight in making this decision – a decision that none of them have any way of knowing what consequences it will have…