GSM

Wolves. Wolves in the night.

It was early in the morning, with the eastern edge of the sky just beginning to lighten, when the Hunter emerged from his tent, bow in hand. Sony sat near the fire; the flames reflected strangely off of his metal frame. He was working with a bit of parchment in his hands and did not even look up as the elf moved closer.
“Where’s Alaric?” the Hunter asked, after looking around for a moment.
“Scouting to the south, a distance” Sonny replied, setting his parchment aside. “Where are you headed?”
“Hunting. We will be needing breakfast soon, and I would rather save the well preserved provisions for a time of greater need.”
The artificer shrugged and went back to his work as the elf moved away from the camp. The Hunter’s eyes quickly adapted to the starlight and to him it seemed as if it were already dawn. With his wolf, Haldir at his side, he moved out across the nearby plains.
The land was sparsely covered, but here and there a cluster of hardy shrubs and stunted trees made a stand against the elements. These plains, caught in the rain shadow between the Howling Peaks and the Seawall Mountains were an aberrant patch of dry land in an otherwise fertile part of the continent. He could not see the peaks to the west, but the camp was close enough to the Seawall Mountains that he could see the foothills beginning to rise out of the lands.
Scanning the open land, the Hunter spotted a small mountain goat that had wandered down to the plains. Nocking an arrow, he moved closer to the animal, being sure to keep Haldir and himself downwind. Quietly he crept up on the creature until he was well within range. He raised his arrow to his eye, and with one shot, felled the creature.
Kneeling at its side he placed a hand on its flank, whispering, “Thank you brother, for the gift of your life.” Then he lifted the animal over his shoulder and headed back towards camp.
He had just come within sight of the campfire when the fur on Haldir back stood on end. Hunter had been keeping track of the movement of smaller animals throughout his hike. Most we smaller animals, but suddenly, he realized that four shaped in the darkness we moving parallel to his own. Dropping the carcass to his feet, he drew an arrow and turned around, peering into the early morning shadows. What he saw caught him off guard.
Moving towards him were four large, white wolves. Hunter had seen such beasts before, but never so far away from the lower mountain ranges that they called home. Fortunately, the beasts were skittish if not overtly threatened and he sent Haldir bounding forwards in the hopes to frighten them off.
A low growl in his throat and jaws snapping, Haldir bounded forwards, but the hungry looking wolves were not deterred. They continued moving forward, and the Hunter could see the grass turn white with frost everywhere they stepped.
At the front, the largest of the white wolves quickly moved in, biting at Haldir and knocking him to the ground. Hunter quickly loosed an arrow at it, drawing the wolf’s attention away from his prone companion. Angered by the arrow now sticking out of its side, the largest white wolf turned towards the Hunter, and its companions followed suit, moving to flank the lone elf. He responded by loosing another arrow into the pack leader.
Back at camp, with daylight threatening the night sky, Sonny sat by the fire’s embers. He was putting packing his tools up in preparation for the day’s travels when the sound of a wolf howling caught his attention. Looking eastward he spied the distant form of his companion surrounded by a number of large wolves. Quickly he sprinted towards the fight, his passing leaving deep impressions in the soft earth. Unfortunately, the machinist too quickly, not thinking to wake Vorian who was still sleeping in his tent.
Sonny arrived at the fight, just as a pair of the wolves began circling around the Hunter. He stepped in front of the Hunter, giving him the chance to order fire another arrow into the lead wolf and order Haldir back to camp to rouse Vorian. Standing in the middle of the four circling wolves, Sony raised his arms, extending his shield and battle fist.
Suddenly, the largest wolf sprang forward, slipping past Sonny and tearing at the Hunter. He was thrown backwards by the wolf’s weight as the wolf turned to snarl at Sonny.
“They want the meat!” Sonny shouted “Throw it!”
Jumping to his feet, Hunter grabbed the dead goat, and with his strength leaving him, he threw the goat away from Sonny and himself.
The four wolves pulled back, surrounding the goat, still baring their fangs.
“Here, eat the meat! We mean you no harm,” Sonny said, taking a step backwards and lowering his arms.
“They can’t possibly understand you” the Hunter said, holding his side where the wolf had swiped him.
“I have no idea if they can or not,” Sonny admitted, “but I’m hoping they can perceive my intention.” He turned back to the lead wolf saying, “Sorry, I apologize. We won’t hurt you” and extended one hand calmly out towards it.
The white wolf sniffed first at the carcass and then at the metal hand that was being offered to it. There was a flash of intelligence in its icy blue eyes, and it tilted its head to regard the metal man. Gently, Sonny laid a hand on its flank and cast a light healing spell on the beast.
Sensing what he had done, the wolf turned and offered its side to Sonny, still baring three of Hunter’s arrows. Cautiously, the artificer pulled the arrows out, whispering quiet encouragements to the wolf as he did so.
As the last arrow was removed, Vorian showed up, cling to Haldir’s back with a panicked look on his face. Sonny and the Hunter filled him in on the recent events.
“Give them the food,” Vorian suggested and Hunter dipped his head.
“Go enjoy your meal” Sonny said, and the three companions took a few steps away from the goat.
The large wolf seemed to meet their eyes, but though the party waited to see if it would speak, it did not. It seemed that it was either unable, or unwilling to do so.
“I suggest we find breakfast elsewhere,” Sonny whispered to the Hunter.
Turning from Sonny, the Hunter looked questioningly at Vorian, who only sighed and nodded his head back towards camp. As the elf and half-elf walked towards camp Sonny felt the large wolf nuzzle against his hand. It was a surprisingly pleasant feeling, Sonny thought, and he didn’t even mind the cold damage that the wolf was doing to him.

(100xp awarded to Hunter and Vorian. 120xp awarded to Sonny)

Back at camp, with the sun rising, the three companions took a moment to clean themselves up. Sonny sits down with a fresh piece of parchment and begins writing. Seeing the Hunter wandering off, he asks “Where are you off to now?”
“Just walking. Collecting my thoughts”
Noticing, Vorian asked the warforged if he would be well for a time. Sonny nodded and went back to his work. So Hunter and Vorian set off through the tall grass and shrubs, enjoying the feeling of the rising sun after the cool evening.
The silence was awkward at first, but Vorian was determined to keep quiet. He wanted to see how long it would take before the normally reserved elf would break the silence. Finally the Hunter spoke.
“May I ask you a question, Sir?”
“You may,” Vorian sighed “and don’t call me Sir”
“Well, that’s just it si.. I mean, Vorian. As a soldier, I’m used to addressing my superiors as ‘sir’, but that’s because of regulations. You are entitled by birth to be called ‘sir’. I’ve never met anyone who declined that courtesy. Those with rank or power usually like to remind everyone else of their rank and power as often as possible.”
Vorian was quiet for a moment, then said, “From what I have seen, you are no different from any of the nobles at court. In fact, you are more deserving of respect than a fair number of the nobility. My birth doesn’t make me better than you.”
Now it was the Hunter’s turn to be quiet as he pondered the strange philosophy.
“But it seems you despise your inheritance,” he said after a moment. “Not only do you ignore the deference due to you, but you take great pains to hide and deter it. Is it really so bad?”
“You have to understand, Hunter. My birth was an accident. To my father’s credit, he has always loved me and treated me well, but the rest of my family has not. My father should have married someone befitting his status and should have had a dozen noble sons of pure human blood. But because he chose to accept me as his son, his own social status collapsed about him. His own family treated him with disdain and cruelty. I hated how he was treated. And I hated how he accepted it.”
“But not all the nobility can be like that,” the Hunter asked, mildly disturbed by the idea of nobility acting improper.
“No,” Vorian laughed, “but enough. A man’s destiny should be shaped by his own words and deeds, not by the opinion of those around him. I couldn’t live a life where my path was chose for me before I was born. So I packed up was few things I owned, things I had either earned or paid for with my own money, and left.”
They continued to walk a bit as the Hunter processed their conversation and eventually asked, “And the warforged? What are your thoughts on him?”
“I am not sure,” Vorian admitted, “He is unlike any creature I have ever met. At times he seems more human than most I’ve met.”
“Aye,” Hunter agreed as the pair began heading back towards camp.
As they approached, Hunter paused, saying, “It will be a difficult habit to break, but I will attempt to not call you sir, sir.”
Vorian chuckled, “Well, then, I won’t hold any slip-up against you. Much”
“Very good, sir… Damn!”
As the pair headed back to camp, Sonny was finishing scribing a scroll. Suddenly he felt an icy tongue lick the back of his head. Jumping to his feet he saw that the four white wolves had returned. Reaching forward, he laid a hand on the head of the lead wolf, scratching its ears. Vorian and the Hunter were stepping back into camp when the large wolf let out a long howl and stepped back. Stepping forward, one of the other wolves dropped two prairie dogs at Sonny’s feet.
“Can you understand me?” the Hunter asked hesitantly. “If you can, know that I am sorry for attacking you over breakfast. All hunters must eat, which I’m sure you understand.”
The white wolves regarded the elf for a moment before the large one slipped forward and rubbed his head under the Hunter’s outstretched hand. Vorian also stepped forward, putting a hand calmly on Sonny shoulder and reaching towards the lead wolf. Placing a hand on its head he rubbed it for a moment. Seeing a unique opportunity, Vorian cast detect thoughts, and his eyes flashed white as the magic surged through him and into the wolf.
What he got was not what was expected. The wolf was clearly intelligent, at least on level with a child, but its thoughts were not structured like a man’s. There was so much emphasis on smell and sound and movement, that Vorian at first had a hard time making sense of it.
_ Suddenly Vorian saw forests burning. The smell of smoke and blood. The smell of ash everywhere, hiding the smell of man approaching. Pain. Men with dark marks on their faces and necks. Horrible fear. Fear without reason, without direction. Flashes of pain and loss. Lost. Home lost and familiar prey scarce. Hunger. An image of the Hunter. Flashes of pain. Deep pain. Starving. A metal man but he looked soft and warm._
Vorian broke off from the wolf, with tears steaming down his cheeks. He could still feel the hunger pangs and the sharp sense of arrows in his ribs. He looked into the wolf’s eyes, seeing the pain echoed there and reached out again…
_ Hunger. Starving, but not alone. A cave filled with cubs. Too many mouths to feed. Not enough food. A father, proud of his sons. Distant mountains and strange plains. Clusters of houses, filled with food and fire and angry people. Being driven away. The need to feed one’s child._
Vorian broke away again, realizing that the smaller wolves were the sons of the largest. They were the only wolves large enough and strong enough to hunt in these strange lands. And so the staving pack had sent them out to find food. To feed their young and week.
Kneeling, Vorian picked up the two prairie dogs and held them up to the Alpha, saying, “We appreciate your offer, but you have the greater need. These are rightfully yours.”
The Alpha quickly grabbed the two animals and threw them back, his expression changed to displeasure.
“Very well,” Vorian said, picking up the animals and handing them to Sonny, “We appreciate your gift and I meant no offense. If there is anything we can do in the future to help you, find us. We shall offer what aide we can.”
The hunter removed his shirt and offered it to the Alpha to smell. The wolf appeared confused for a moment, so Hunter used Haldir to pantomime using the scent to track. The Alpha caught on and each wolf, in turn smelled Hunter’s shirt. Then, the white wolves howled and ran off towards the distant foothills.
(50xp awarded to the Hunter and Sonny. 100xp to Vorian for using detect thoughts)
The party spent the next hour packing before heading southwards towards Dragonroost. Alaric and the Hunter scouted for the party, with Hunter to the fore and Thricedamned ranging slightly to the east.
In the late afternoon they were moving into lightly wooded terrain, when Hunter caught sight of a volcano-shaped structure of stone and earth.
“It reminds me of an ant or termite hill,” Vorian said.
The group decided that they would move one, when Sonny felt a strange sensation along his metal body. Stepping quickly away from the spot he was standing in, he barely managed to avoid occupying the same space as an insect-like creature as it transitioned into reality. It seemed to fade into existence right next to the party.
The creature, a Xill, immediately struck at Sonny. It grappled with him for a moment and seemed surprised when the metal man did not succumb to its sting. Hunter quickly responded by loosing two arrows into its abdomen. The rest of the group quickly followed suit, overwhelming the Xill, which was not prepared for an enemy that it couldn’t paralyze. It attempted to phase out, but the companions were able to slay it before its transition was complete.
They searched its body, finding a number of gems and coins with the same image on them as the tattoo the group has been told about.
The group hurries away, before more Xill show up and keeps moving quickly until evening. Finding a hollow between two low hills they decided to refrain from lighting a fire, favoring rations instead of cooking. Sonny took the time to heal himself, Cher, and the rest of the group. He also handed Vorian the scroll he was working on, which was a scroll of cure light wounds.
Then everyone went to bed.

(Everyone gets 360xp)

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An interesting start

It was near midnight when there was a knock at Vorian’s door. With a drink in his hand, he opened the door to his suite and was surprised to see an elf standing there. It was the one from earlier that day, the one everyone called Hunter, and he was looking more troubled than anyone had a right to at midnight in a lavish hotel.
“Err, is there something I can help you with,” Vorian asked.
“I had hoped to talk to you at dinner this evening, but I could not find you,” the Hunter said. “I have some questions that I do not feel comfortable asking anyone else.”
“Anyone else?” Vorian asked, raising his eyebrow.
“I mean,” the Hunter hesitated, “it would be easier talking to another elf.”
“Ah,” Vorian said, sipping from his wine, “I understand. Though I suppose you don’t. I’m only half elven. My father is human and I was raised by him and his family. My ears I got from my mother, but my education and childhood, was purely human. And even though I left home years ago, I’ve always hesitated to seek out my mother’s people. It’s not the most comfortable of topics for me.”
The Hunter paused at Vorian’s admission. He had assumed that the young lord would be an instant companion, but he saw now that there was much they did not have in common. He might look like an elf, but his spirit was human.
“Very well. But if I may be so bold,” he said, “I am still confused by what transpired earlier today. My captain was murdered. I saw the blood. Yet I did not see it happen, and everyone who did see it will not speak of it. Will you?”
Vorian considered his drink for a moment, and then set it down.
“Step inside, Hunter, where we can be more… discrete.”
Vorian moved to the gilded table near the fire, where he had been sitting earlier. He gestured to the Hunter to take a seat, but the stoic elf declined.
“I prefer to stand.”
“Very well. Then to answer your question: your captain was killed by the High Guard. Be aware that I choose my words carefully. He was killed, not murdered. Murder implies rage or passion. The High Guard do not possess these qualities. They are elite, beyond your understanding of the word, and if they killed him, it was under strict orders to do so.”
“But why would they be ordered to do so?”
“I can only tell you that their sole duty is to protect the High King and the royal family. They will do anything to protect his or her safety. I can only assume that your captain’s behavior posed some kind of threat.”
“I am finding this difficult to accept,” the Hunter admitted. “Who do they answer to?”
“Well,” mused Vorian, “I imagine the High King has some say. And they probably have a chain of command, though I admit that is my own speculation. All I do know is that they have never been known to do evil. They have faithfully served the kingdoms throughout their history. Quietly, yes, but faithfully.”
“Very well, then, my lord,” the Hunter said moving to the door as Vorian cringed. “I will leave you to your wine.”
Vorian stood, accompanying him to the door.
“Hunter,” he said quietly as the elf moved to leave, “It may be best to maintain a measure of discretion about this whole affair. I suspect you don’t understand the complex nature of city life; least of all the intrigue and politics that surrounds the High King and the noble families. That is a snare you would not want to be caught in.”
The elf nodded his head, just as a serving man rounded the corner of the hallway, mumbling “…quiet hours…”
What an odd man, Vorian thought to himself as he closed his door.

Sonny, did not sleep. It wasn’t that he wasn’t tired. It was just that he didn’t quite know how. His metal body never seemed to need it. Nor was there a switch that he could flip which would magically make him sleep. But he could dream.
Of course, it wasn’t how flesh and blood beings dreamed, but more like an artist staring at a blank canvas. He could stare at a piece of metal and envision everything that it could become. When it was inconvenient to work, he would sit for hours imagining hundreds of ways to build things that would revolutionize the world.
His trip to Flamekeep along the magic railways had been astounding. He had spent every possible moment examining the rails and propulsion system. Sonny was convinced that he could take the same principles and apply them to transportation within the city as well. He had already sketched a dozen mental blueprints when the sun rose, shining through his bedroom window.
The city was still gripped by excitement over the proclamation of a new High King. Parties had lasted long into the night, and it seemed that only an hour ago the last of them had worn down. Now the slumbering city was waking again, ready for a new day of festivities. Already, heralds were walking the streets calling out that the new High King would be announced at noon.
In the next room over Alaric Thricedamned was also preparing for the day ahead. The demon-faced man had spent the night in prayer and contemplation, trying to gather his thoughts and make sense of the few flashes of memory that he still had. Most striking to him was the memory of swords piercing his body followed by darkness and a sense of dread more terrible than anything he had ever felt. It had not made for a restful night, but, like the warforged next door, he had no need for sleep.
Alaric decided that brooding in his room, while pleasant enough, served no good purpose. So he left it, heading towards the common room. He found the warforged at the top of the main stairs muttering something about ‘would be better if the stairs moved’.
“Come, friend” Alaric said as he put a hand on Sonny’s shoulder, “Join me for breakfast”. Smiling (as best a warforged can manage) Sonny nodded and led the way to the common room.
Downstairs Vorian was already seated at one of the side tables, looking over the hotel’s wine list, and he motioned to the two to join him. As they were sitting down, the Hunter came down the stairs. He was about to take a seat, when me noticed the leftenant from the previous day, sitting at one of the main tables.
“Sir,” he said as he stepped to his superior’s table, “I am ready to report in.”
“Very well,” the leftenant said, “but it’s Captain, now.”
“Yes, sir. Sorry, sir,” the Hunter replied.
Gesturing at the side table the Captain asked “Are those your companions from yesterday?” Glancing over his shoulder, the Hunter nodded.
“Searose,” the Captain said, “If it pleases, I would have you and your two friends join us”
The table was not large, but it was enough to accommodate the four adventurers, the Captain, and his silent companion. When they were all seated and names exchanged, Hunter began his report to the Captain. Several highly-detailed minutes into the report, the Captain interrupted the Hunter.
“You mean to tell me you left your post during the announcement ceremony of the High King”
“Yes, sir. We were not short on manpower, and I decided that it was more important to investigate the cause of the smoke than to have one more body standing guard.”
“And if the smoke had been a diversion? What if you had been ambushed?”
“We were not.”
“I’m asking a hypothetical, sergeant.”
Appearing slightly uncomfortable with the concept of a hypothetical question the Hunter replied “Sir, there was no enemy. We were not ambushed, and if we were I certainly could have managed it.”
Smirking, the Captain turned to the others, “And what of you three? How do you justify yourselves? Because of you I had to evacuate a pavilion full of panicky nobles. That is not a pleasant task, mind you.”
“I noticed the smoke,” Alaric started, “but it appeared that none of your guards near the pavilion did. I only intended to warn the proper authorities. The panic was not of my causing.”
“And I noticed the guards attacking Alaric,” Sonny defended, “so I offered my assistance to calm the situation. Once calmed, we were able to inform Captain Dryadson about the smoke outside. The panic was his doing, not ours.”
“And m’lord Searose,” the Captain continued, “I don’t suppose you want to shed some light on why you allowed Captain Dryadson to incite panic in a pavilion filled with the richest, most powerful, and most important people in the Kingdoms?”
Vorian calmly met the captain’s eyes and shrugged. “It was not my job to maintain order, Captain. I am not a member of your military and I don’t care for orders. I had no idea what Captain Dryadson was going to say. Still, I don’t like seeing people get hurt. I made sure everyone kept a level head and evacuated the pavilion. I imagine there were quite few injuries actually.”
Glancing around the table the Captain met each of their eyes, one by one until he burst into a smile.
“Well, by the gods, I’m glad you were all there! We had a city full of guards, pulled from every army and militia, from every background and skill set. Yet only you four had the sense to take action and see to the safety of the noble families. On their behalf I thank you. Waiter! Bring us food until I tell you to stop.”
There was some grumbling from the staff, but breakfast proved (for the most part) to be excellent. As they ate the group continues to talk. Captain Woodsoul was interested in what has drawn each of the heroes to the city. He seemed particularly interested in the Hunter.
“I have a proposition for you, sergeant,” the Captain says over a tankard of mulled cider, “I have need of a new leftenant. You have definitely proven capable of the job, and it is yours if you wish it. No, wait. Before you answer, consider the lifestyle change you would face. A city is vastly different from a forest and you would have little chance, if any, for visits home.”
The Hunter was at a loss for words. Not because of the offer, but by the choice before him. On one hand, his entire life had been spent in the woods of King’s Forest. The only great halls he had ever known were roofed with the boughs of living ash and elm. His music was the wind and birds and the woodland streams. The thought of leaving his woods behind was a terrible one.
Yet the thought of telling a superior officer what he wanted was appalling. The army had given him structure. He had needed that structure and it was a part of him as much as breathing. Soldiers did not choose which orders to obey and which to ignore.
“Sir,” he said “it is not my place to choose what I want. Tell me my orders and I will obey, no matter the cost.”
“Sergeant, this is not a decision I make lightly. I would know what you want.”
“I cannot say, Sir. Only that I will do as I am told.”
“What does your heart tell you, Sergeant?”
While the Hunter looked skeptically at the Captain, Vorian stepped in.
“Excuse me, Captain” Vorian said, and all eyes were on him, “It seems to me that there is a compromise available. While the sergeant obviously deserves promotion, it is equally obvious that he would be miserable in a city surrounded by stone walls. Yet, there are many official duties that involve travel between cities. You might assign him to courier or escort duties. Surely you can find some job worthy of his skill set, that doesn’t bottle him up.”
The captain smiled in response, “And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why the nobles are running the place. A most diplomatic solution, m’lord. Though, from you, I suppose I should not be surprised.” Vorian tipped his head and returned to his wine.
“Now you, Sonny,” the Captain continued, “I have a deal for you that I imagine you’ll appreciate. The city has come to recognize your skills in making…well… anything. We will supply you the raw materials for your craft and in return, we will be allowed to buy things from you at 75% your normal rate.”
“Deal!” the warforged said, as he started imaging all the different ways he could improve the weapons and armor of the city guard.
“Glad to hear,” the Captain continued, “We’ll also provide the raw materials for you to create any one item for your companions here as well.” At that, there was a murmur of thanks around the table.
“And you, Thricedamned, what do you seek?”
The hellish looking man paused to consider, and when he spoke his voice was strangely soft. “My first reaction is to find out who I was before I died; before I was returned. Yet, the fact that I am what I am tells me enough. I was something that I must never become again. What few, fleeting memories I have are precious to me, but to learn more invites a terrible danger. For me, it will be enough to do good; to leave this world a better place. Hopefully I will be able to do enough good to redeem my soul.”
The Captain nodded, understanding. Hellbred were rare, but not unknown in the Kingdoms of Khorvaire. Only a fool would stand between one and what he perceived as the good and righteous path.
“And you, young lord,” the Captain said, completing the circuit around the table, “What do you want?”
Vorian considered the Captain and his companions for a moment, before reaching inside his tunic and drawing out a silver key on a silver chain. The chain had a dwarven look about it, tough and damned near impossible to break, but the key was a different story. It was wrought in the shape of circling vines. Following those curves the eye wound about the key until it returned to its starting point again.
“I would know what this is,” Vorian said, holding the key on its chain. “It is all I have of my mother’s people.”
Almost imperceptibly, the Captain’s eyes widened a bit. “There is little I can tell you, Vorian, save that you will know its use when you see it.” Reaching for the key he asked “May I?”
Reluctantly, Vorian handed the key to the Captain who passed it to the Silent guard sitting beside himself. The strange, silent man held it aloft and made a complex gesture with his hand. Suddenly it seemed as if the key was gathering all the light in the room to itself and giving it out tenfold. In an instant it appeared as if the sun itself was hanging by a silver thread. Then, just as quickly, it was a simple key again. It was passed back to the Captain, who passed it back to Vorian.
A moment later, the serving man came by the table grumbling. A heated argument broke out between Alaric and the man, during which Sonny pulled Vorian aside.
“M’Lord,” Sonny said “I am an artificer, which I believe you already know. I cannot tell you what the key does exactly, but it is spell forged. There are many complex charms and illusions woven into the metal. The light we just saw was only a simple spell compared to the intensity of magic I can sense in the key.”
Vorian held the key between the two of them.
“Thank you, Sonny. This morning has been, if you will forgive the pun, enlightening.”
The pair returned to the table as the Captain was telling the group about the death of the old High King. The adventurers pooled their knowledge and deduced that High King Silversgleaming had been killed by an assassin of the Dark Mind. This malevolent group began shortly after Silversgleaming took the throne and were opposed to much of the peace, prosperity, and freedom that he brought to the land.
“Of course, we’ve never been able to pin down exactly what their goals are,” Captain Woosdoul said. “And it’s not as if they are going to disperse now that the High King has been slain. What we need is for someone to infiltrate their organization. Someone who is not affiliated with the city guard. My men are too well known and too easy to spot.”
“Then there seems little choice,” Thricedamned said, his eyes aglow, “we shall tear out their infestation!”
“Agreed,” said Sonny, “but how can we do so? They are clearly widely spread with agents across the continent.”
“Cut off the head and the serpent withers,” the Hunter said.
“Or turn one head against another until it devours itself,” Vorian finished.
The Captain, relieved that the four would be willing to work together, directed them to Trolanport, on the southwestern coast. He also provided the party with supplies:
3 pieces of flint and 3 steel strikers, 4 100 foot lengths of rope, 1 axe (for chopping wood or to attack 1d4), 12 rolls parchment, 2 quills, and 2 vials ink. He also provided them with 150gp (the price in meat of an old horse). Sonny, was elected to keep the money on his person.

The group went their separate ways to gather what belongings they would be taking with. An hour later they found themselves, with what seemed like most of the world’s population, at the Great Square. Thousands of people had gathered to witness the naming of the new High King, and millions more would be hearing the news magically across the world.
Standing at the front row, the four adventurers have one of the clearest views as the new High King is named.
“All rise!” cried the herald “I present unto you this day, Oolarath Ottog, by the grace of the gods, first king to bear that name! King of Aundair, Karrnath, Thrane, Mournland, and Breland! Protector of Khorvair, from the Mror Holds to the Shadow Marches, from the Bitter Sea to the dragon Reach! All hail the High King!”
The crowd erupted in applause, but the four heroes were at a loss for words. The High King was unlike anything any of them had seen. Vorian was, perhaps, the most shocked as he had a passing knowledge of most of the noble families in the land.
Oolarath Ottog was bald and wrinkled, with a fringe of moving tentacles around his mouth. His small red eyes darted back and forth, and he seemed mildly uncomfortable standing in the full sunlight. Yes, his voice was strong and clear, and he spoke with great conviction.
“My loyal subject. My dear peoples of Khorvair. I take this crown with a heavy heart. I can only hope to live up to the standard set by High King Silversgleaming. I pledge that together we shall make our people happier, stronger, and more prosperous than ever before!”
With that, he stepped away from the podium and retreated back to the nobles’ pavilion.

Later that afternoon, the party assembled aboard the magical train. Vorian quickly slipped away to find the refreshment car, while Thricedamned closed himself away in a travel car, to prevent panic among the other passengers. Only the Hunter and Sonny explored the train, but there was little to see or do.
Along their route, they stopped at Sigilstar, Aruldusk, and Vathirond. Sonny was able to confirm that the prices in the area appeared fair and that it did not appear that anyone had tampered with the local economy. The party disembarked at Sterngate, asking around and listening in on conversations. They found that there were quiet whispers from many people that the old High King was not as great as everyone seemed to claim, but nothing was said that was outright treasonous.
Not wishing to continue to Zolanberg (a known place that the royal guard traveled to) the party set off on foot across the plains towards Dragonroost. It was here that they encountered their first foe, though it was not one they expected.
They had been walking along, when the quality of the ground seemed to drastically change. Holes, nearly two feet in diameter pocked the dirt and the grass was yellowed and singed. Suddenly, three horrifying creatures sprang from the ground, drawn by the sounds of Alaric, Sonny, and his dog, Cher.
“Thoqqua!” shouted the Hunter, as he and Vorian dashed for cover.
Sonny was caught off guard, but quickly recovered and it seemed as if shield and weapon sprang forth from his own arms. Thricedamned drew his sword and charged into the fray. Cher also charged the Thoqqua, drawing a grapple long enough to allow Sonny to do some major damage.
From a distance, the Hunter drew his bow and managed to kill one, just ad Alaric killed another.
“Stand back!” Vorian shouted and unleashed a pair of magic missiles, killing the last of the beasts.
Covered in rancid worm gore, the party quickly retreated from the infested grounds and made camp in the nearby woods. Fortunately, Sonny was able to use infusions to heal himself and Cher. Thricedamned was also able to recover from his wounds.
“Rest,” Sonny said the party, “I will take the first watch”
Vorian practically collapsed into his sleeping roll and the Hunter seemed not far behind. Thricedamned sat nearby, his eyes matching the fire’s glow.
“An interesting start to our quest,” he said as the flames and shadows danced across his face. “An interesting start”.

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The Chaos of Fireworks
When everyone is on edge... over reacting is always the right option

As we begin, it is the day of the announcing of the new High King. Belkul Silversgleaming, the previous king, was murdered in Flamekeep a week ago. There was an emergency meeting of all notable persons who vied for the station of high ruler. After a few days of debate and meetings, the country was ready to announce the new high ruler.

As the crowds were gathered, Vorian found himself a midst all the candidates and their party. He kept to himself and listen for valuable information.

Outside, near the stage was Sonny who was actively selling his wares. He and his dog Cher were selling among the din of the crowd when he noticed a commotion near the entrance to the backstage area and went to investigate.

At the same time, Alaric, who is new to this world and looking for true redemption, positioned himself on a nearby roof to keep a vigilant eye over all of the square. In the distance he saw a bit of smoke and heard a small explotion. With all good purpose in his heart, Alaric ruses towards the area of the nobles (Vorian included) to warn them of what he has noticed. The guards at the door (which included Xankas Dryadson, the captain of the guards) attack him out of fear. This is the noise that alerted Sonny. Vorian steps out and calms the on edge guards.

“The Hunter”, who was one of the members of a conscripted militia to help protect the crowning ceremony. As he was stationed on the rear of the crowd, he notices a small explosion and a billow of smoke. Immedately, instincts take over and he ordered his guard to accompany him to check out the explosion. After charging his way through the crowd, he discovered the source of the explosion. With the criminals in tow, and the fire extinguished, he heads back to deliver the culprits to Xankas.

As “The Hunter” is heading back Alaric has explained to Xankas what he saw, the captain rushes back to the nobles in a panic and screams that they are under attack and need to be evacuated. Vorian uses his calm head and steady voice to calm the nobles and aids the retreat in a safe and effective manner. As Vorian and Alaric stand about trying to assist the retreat, Sonny enters and aids as well.

At this time “The Hunter” has made his way back and brings the culprits of the explosions to Xankas. The culprits are two teenage human boys who were lighting off fireworks and set a cart on fire. Xankas begins to break down mentally. In a rage he nearly attacks the children as well as “The Hunter” himself. After a few moments of this, “The Hunter” decides to tell the second in command in hopes of finding a more composed person. Frugold Woodsoul who was the lieutenant listen to “The Hunter” as he explained the confusion.

Once all events have come to light, Frugold does a cryptic hand gesture. When “The Hunter” reenters the tent, Xankas has been killed and taken away by The High King Guards. Frugold, who is now acting captain, offers all four members of the party a place to stay until the new high ruler is announced which should happen the next day.

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