Campaign of the Month: January 2009

Pursuit of Destiny

An Update with holes

The Baron Jonn Stockmer sits in front of a roaring fire trying desperately to come to terms with the events of the last few hours. He has asked Marrek to tell him the party’s story twice now. He looks into the fire no doubt remembering his own ordeal and his hand slips to his stomach where it finds the ragged tear in his silk shirt.

Finally after a long silence he says “ Once again it seems you have saved Harken from destruction.” He turns to Benadrix “And you Paladin, I believe I owe you a debt that I fear I can never fully repay.” The Baron turns back to the fire and a look of deep sadness crosses the his face. “It would seem that now I have lost both my children.”

The Baron is lost now in his own thoughts. He stares into the fire but his gaze lies far beyond the stone hearth. Marrek leans in and places a hand on his shoulder. “What exactly happened between you and Adam sir?”

Jonn turns to Marrek as if surprised to see him there. “Adam…yes.” Jonn turns back to the fire as though in it he can see the terrible events play out. “He burst into my sitting room this morning…was it really only this morning?” The Baron drifts away again and Marrek squeezes his shoulder. “Yes…he burst in and he had a woman with him. I had never seen her before. She held a golden staff and I remember the top was fashioned to resemble the head of a dragon. She wore black robes emblazoned with a red hand. She stood in front of the door as Adam continued towards me. I tried to ask him what was going on but before I could even get the words out he had a dagger in his hands. I backed away but then he was on top of me and…” Again the Barons hand slips to his torn shirt. “I think…I think I died.” He says in a whisper. “The last thing I remember was the woman smiling at me. I was so cold and she was just…just smiling at me.”

“That woman smiles no more, Baron. Be comforted that this Red Hand cult will answer for their crimes against Harken, and the Stockmer Family,” Marrek assured the Baron in a stern, convincing tone. Having returned to Harken less than two days ago, the Warlord was unsure to the extent of the Red Hand’s remaining influence in the village. Marrek was sure, however, that now was the time for strong words to help focus the shaken noble.

“We have reason to believe that the Red Hand’s origin is within Fallcrest, and Fallcrest is where we shall take the fight to them. What is troubling is the vast web of conspiracy that has swallowed both Adam and Bethany – and almost the entire township. What further intrigues lie dormant within the streets of Harken,” Marrek pondered aloud. “In the time between our leaving, and the return of your captured citizens, where there any peculiar circumstances worth noting?”

“I am ashamed to say I noticed nothing out of sorts. Obviously my son had taken great care to do all this behind my back. I understand that he found my will and intended to inherit the Harkenwold after killing Bethany. It would seem that when that failed he decided to simply remove me and claim this region for himself or for this cult he serves.” The Baron clenches his fists and turns to the party with determination. “I will see to it that Harken is scoured of this threat. If The roots of this cult really do begin in Fallcrest then I suggest you leave immediately. You can take the King’s Road north through Harken forest. It would take an average man three days of swift travel but I have no doubt you will make it in two. I shall refill your supplies and make sure you are well fed before you leave.” The Baron turns to Celence. “Young lady I discovered this on the body of the priest you killed.” The baron hands her a small leather pouch.”I glanced inside and saw it was full of various reagents and spell components. I have no use for these, please take them.”

The Baron walks to a large armoire against the back wall and opens it’s heavy wooden doors. Inside is a dusty set of simple armor and a long sword that looks to have seen better days. He grips the sword and holding it in front of him, examines the blade. “Now…it would seem we all have work to do.”

Benadrix approaches the aged man and motions his hand over the dusty sword, lowering the blade towards the floor. “Easy now! A spry young warrior, you are not.” he chuckles. “What is it good Barron, that you intend to do with that?”

After the day’s events, the Baron’s show of fortitude inspired the veteran Lagonn. Marrek stepped swiftly to Paladin and placed halting grasp on the Dragonborn’s massive upper arm. “Harkenwold is now his fight Extaban, as it should be. Let us have faith in the barony. May Erathis bless your hunt for the remaining interlopers.” The Warlord ended as he started made is way toward the double doors of the manor.

“Aunt Nonnie awaits, as well as our preparations for the road to Fallcrest,” he smiled.

With a look of sorrow and shame Celence walks up to the Baron and says:

“Please forgive me Sir. Just prior to finding you…(Celence winced) We went into Bethany’s room and I took one of her hat pins.” Unable to look the Baron in the eyes fighting back tears, she hands the hat pin back to the Baron. “Please understand my intentions were not malicious. I am having a chest made that will be bound to me, it required personal items of mine to make it so. To honor the memory of your daughter I wanted to have the hat pin built into the chest. Since you are now with us again, I am overwhelmed with grief and it is not my place to take anything of your daughters as every piece is a part of her. I am sorry for my actions and should not have been so brazen to think that it was my right to take something of yours. Albeit a small item, with your loss it no doubt means more than that.”

After the day’s events, the Baron’s show of fortitude inspired the veteran Lagonn. Marrek stepped swiftly to Paladin and placed halting grasp on the Dragonborn’s massive upper arm. “Harkenwold is now his fight Extaban, as it should be. Let us have faith in the barony. May Erathis bless your hunt for the remaining interlopers.” The Warlord ended as he started made is way toward the double doors of the manor.

The remainder of the trip to Fallcrest is mercifully uneventful. As you leave the Harken forest you find yourselves traveling through open country dominated by gently rolling hills. The landscape is dotted with small farms and ruined stretches of what looks like an ancient wall. As you crest one of these hills you are greeted by an incredible sight. Laid out before you is Fallcrest. Coming from the small town of Harken Fallcrest is quite impressive. Looking down at the sprawling city it’s easy to imagine more than a thousand people living inside it’s walls. The city itself is divided almost in half by a steep bluff that snakes northwest to southeast across the entire town. Two rivers cut through it from north to south resulting in dramatic waterfalls where they meet the bluff.

The upper city looks to be more developed. Tight streets are crowded with multi story buildings and large manor houses. It also looks to be much older that the Lower city which looks poorer and less organized in contrast. On the eastern side of the city a massive green spire dwarfs the buildings around it. The tower sits alone on top of a hill and looks truly ancient. Your eyes follow the King’s road and you can see that the path will take you directly to Fallcrest’s southern gate, or at least what is left of it. One of the two paired towers guarding the entrance is nothing but rubble, and several large gaps remain in the town walls south of the bluffs.

After taking in the view you continue north towards the city. You arrive at the King’s Gate in the early morning. Four heavily armored Knights stand guard in front of the broken wall and signal you to stop as you approach the gate. One of them, a tall young man with blond hair and beard walks up to the party and appraises each of you before speaking.

“What’s your business in Fallcrest?”

The sprawling scene of the immense Fallcrest brought a pang to the Warlord’s heart. Marrek’s lineage had been derived from a city’s expeditionary force, but he always found comfort that his tours with The Far Hand would end behind the walls of Glarandar, his place of birth. Even though his years of nomadic frontier travel with Gnasc had been fruitful, he had always secretly longed for the the fortifying congestion of humanity and bustling thoroughfares of the great cities. Marrek allowed himself a small smile as the party began their approach to the city. Soon he would be in his element.

Upon arriving at the Southern Gate, Marrek notices instantly that something is wrong. The structural state of the gate, while discomforting, belied the true tension found in the postures of the Knight watchmen. Having once stood in these men’s sabatons, the Warlord thought best as to how to handle their call.

“What’s your business in Fallcrest?”

Marrek thought quickly. Considering the size of the city, this gate should be teeming with merchants and commoners but it is practically empty. It is not an insignificant act that a city would seal one of it’s gates. The possibility that these circumstances could be related to their adventures thus far was not lost on him. But he was certain that now was not the time to air those concerns.

“We are adventurers in search of a hot meal and a warm bed.” Marrek answered hopefully, lowering his hailing greeting. “If this gate is closed, might you point us to an open one, good sir?”

The Tall man (A Sergeant Marrek recognizes) eyes the group again and grunts. “G’on in” He says. “ No need to go to the Knight’s gate, you’ll find what yer after in Lowtown.” He rests a hand on the hilt of his sword and looks at the Gnoll. “But keep yer noses clean.” He backs away from the party and nods his head towards the ruined gate.

You shuffle past the guards and enter “Lowtown”. Little bands of people move through and around the filthy cobblestone streets. The groups meet,divide and pour on again through the winding streets. Some of the men wear rich-looking clothes and they seem to walk around inside bubbles. Groups of people approach and then break like waves against invisible stones giving these men a wide berth. Most of the men are dressed in course woolen trousers and loose fitting jerkins. A few women in long shining white gowns or robes march in small groups here and there.

A rattle and dust, a wooden cart pulls past you. It’s full of barrels that radiate the yeasty musk of beer. Behind the barrels is a pile of large bald cheese wheels. Benadrix lifts his massive head and tracks the cart as it passes by. The creamy odor full of subtle pleasures instantly making him hungry.

“I say we follow him.” The Dragonborn says as he slides a long pink tongue over his rows of sharp teeth.

Marrek watches as the cheese cart disappear into the crowd. “We have a full day of cheese hunting ahead of us,” he told the Dragonborn, “but might we first locate Teldorthan Ironhew so that we may start building a foundation for our time here?”

Aware of the affect his presence tends to have on most races, Gnasc pulls the large hood of his cloak over his head and slouches, lowering his visible height and concealing most of his face in darkness. He then pulled out the piece of cloth with the symbol of the bloody hand he had taken as a trophy from the priest-woman after she fell and smelled it again. Those people had an odd smell about them and he hoped to become as familiar with it as possible so as not to be caught off guard by them in this crowded city.

The dragonborn chuckled at the comment his friend made. “As long as THAT cheese cart is on our to do list, the order of that list, good Marrek, matters not to me.”

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