Descending the stairs into the crypt, the crew encounter Lord Priest Symond Jara and his acolytes, royal protectors Bail and Amos standing behind an altar pulsating with an odd blue glow.
Behind the room’s residents stands a three panel bass relief wall. On the right, an image of an obviously power female spell caster, her arms raised, casting forth a glow of healing power over her subjects. On the right, what appears to be the same caster, arms raised, casting forth a baneful blight over her subjects, now appearing as the walking dead. In the middle, a swirl of chaos and magic separates the two.
Failed negotiations lead to what could truthfully be the only possible outcome and the three reveal their true forms – undead guardians of the place. The groups engage in combat, skeletons pouring from rooms on either side of the chamber. Ultimately victorious, they sits to rest and regain their strength, healing those among them who lay battered from the battle.
Our party gets closer to beginning their relationship with their new employer.
- They agree to their first assignment, despite being informed by Benefactor 43 that prior to every job they will only be told of the goal, but not who is paying their employer for the job.
- Payment, starting at 250 g.p. per mission and increasing as the difficulty increases, will be provided in whatever form they want.
- Additional perks include medical treatment, room and board. The latter coming in the form of houses of of their own choosing.
- Before beginning, Benefactor 43 handed each a leather bracer, a strange glyph embossed on its side and glowing orb, strange lightening courses though its inside.
- Stepping through the portal took them to an abandoned keep/watch tower, sitting in the middle of a barren land extending as far as the eye can see.
- Outside of the keep stood six massive, ancient statues facing out and keep watching across the landscape. But whether guarding against those coming in or going out was unknown.
- Stretching between the statues was multicolored shards of light, barriers to the entrance of the tomb.
- A quick flick of a wrist and the skeleton keys known as “thieves tools” opened the way, down into the crypt.
- Unknown to our party, a mysterious figure peered at them from the shadows as they passed through the portal. “My Lord,” said the figure, “It begins …”
- Our four friends met through battle on a field filled with orcs.
- As they realized the battle wasn’t going their way – a fact made obvious by the every increasing number of adversaries – they realized discretion was the better part of valor and decided to flee in the direction of their destination, the Knotted Oak.
- As they ran, descending the mountain, they lost their pursuers, eventually coming upon a man-made path that led into a sunny vale, a “bowl” inside the center of the hostile mountain range.
- Vilurian, fearing for the safety of the residents, tried to warn them. But his alarm was met with curiosity, mirth and a child who teleported out of the Dark Elf’s grasp.
- Ruric, tried to determine if any presence of the fae was detectable. Oddly enough, despite fae magic existing across the world, there was an absolute dearth of it in the valley.
- Hrolth, tired of the party’s efforts to learn more of the strange valley decided his time was best served entering the Knotted Oak.
Next up … the Knotted Oak, new opportunities and a new benefactor.
In comparison to other, similarly sized villages, Grayberry would be considered unremarkable save for three, quite noticeable quirks.
The first is its location: Nestled in the valley of the Alterdan Mountain range, access to Grayberry is best described as challenging. Known as much for its treacherous, jagged peaks as for the multitudinous tribes of orcs, hobgoblins, trolls and other equally nasty creatures that dot the range’s countless caves as for the brutal snow storms that plague the mountains preventing access by air. Travelers are forced to brave narrow, icy paths in hopes of reaching the village alive.
Second are the berries from which the village gets its name. Found only in the fertile ground surrounding the village’s 200 or so residents, the fruit is prized for its use in rich, deep gray dyes, medicinal poultices and, most of all, the realm-famous, highly intoxicating, odd-colored Gray Beer, the brewing process kept secret by the town’s brewmasters.
But it is the third unique characteristic of the village of Grayberry that most differentiates it from the hundreds of other villages that dot the continent of Aramuk: The Knotted Oak. Continue reading Introduction