NOVA

Humble beginnings...

It was a normal day in Fieldan, a rural farming village in the northeastern region of the nation of Llanowar, home to an unlikely band of ususpecting heroes. First, let us introduce these chief characters. For starters we have a man by the name of Argos. While not a native of the village, Argos has become a good friend of the Malton, head of the Council of Elders, for Malton is the only person with whom Argos has ever shared his deepest secret. Moving along we have Brom, a rather umremarkable fellow at first glance, Brom is more than one might expect. He is young, but not without experience. He is practiced with a blade, but there is something more to him. Upon his birth Brom was deemed special, a shaman of the earth declared him the “Chosen One” and fortold of a prophecy, that led either to his triumph, or his damnation. Though one wouldn’t know it to look at him, as Brom is about as carefree as they come, and always quick to laugh. Still, Brom is not the strangest of the group. The lead in that category is closely contested. We shall begin with the eldest of the group. Wil Turnner, better known as the infamous, Dread Pirate Roberts, is certainly the most traveled of them all. He has seen many a distant land, and his previous deeds are a tale all their own. Perhaps as a result of his many misadventures, Roberts’ is not without his demons. He is possessed by a strange voice that inhabits his thoughts. At times it goads him to do things, sometimes terrible, however the consequences of disobedience can be far worse. Moving right along we have Oris, the black sheep of the bunch. Quite literally, Oris’ skin is virtually all a deep midnight black, with patterns of gray dispersed all over his body. He is a Deva, and that trait alone marks him as an outsider. One day Oris awoke, finding himself all alone in the middle of a wheat field, the only memory he possessed was that of the sounds of battle and a bright, all consuming light. He had just reincarnated, though he knew not how long it had been since his last life. For devas do not die, but rather upon the end of their mortal forms they are reincarnated within another, sometimes instantly, and sometimes not for millennia. Oris, upon waking, began to wander, he eventually wandered his way into the village of Fieldan, though since he had just been through rebirth, he had none of his old possessions, and as such no clothes. The Council gave him some tools and linens, and set him off to the outskirts of the settlement, to build his own home, and till the fields. So he has been doing ever since. Next we have Z, simply Z. He was part of an experiment, an accidental part, which drove the wizard that created him to abandon him as a child. He led for the most part a normal life, though he was shunned by most of the village as a freak. This led to his almost constant presence within the library, studying all the creatures and lore he could find. And finally that brings us to Cailen Theras, a woodsman who built his cabin within the peaceful forest nearby the village. He lives there with his loving wife Gelena. And so now we return to that fateful day, when all the village went about their normal routine, Z intent on his studies, Brom wandering about the village center, and Roberts in his usually place standing in the horse trough, singing sailor’s ditties.
“YO-HO, YO-HO, A PIRATE’S LIFE FOR ME!” came the raucous singing of the fearsome Dread Pirate. But this was no new occurance, and as such the townsfolk payed it little heed. But there were indeed intent upon what happened next. At that moment a horrified man came running into the square. He was covered in gore, from head to toe, and began shouting wildly. The man demanded to see whomever was in charge, and finally Argos came to take him to the council. Meanwhile the madman’s rantings had set Roberts into a fit, and he began running about the square, flailing his greatsword to a fro. The man had brought a crowd, and even Z came out to see the spectacle. The man had been so drenched in blood that much of it was still present on the ground, just as the crowd began to speculate on what had happened, Robert’s believed that an orc army had attacked the neighboring village of Wheatfell, and had slaughtered everyone there. When Malton emerged from the building.
“We have just learned of a great tragedy,” he announced, “It seems that our neighboring village, Wheatfell, has been attacked by an army of orcs, who slaughtered everyone there. As such I have appointed Argos to lead a volunteer company to investigate these reports. Is there anyone here willing to join him?”
The Dread Pirate Roberts lept up with gusto, “I shall go!” he exclaimed.
“Ooh, me too!” Brom was not about to be left behind.
“Protocol dictates that I must go…” Z volunteered,
“Well then,” Malto continued, when it seemed no one else was about to step forward. “I shall have a contingent of the militia meet you at the crossroads, good luck to you all”
And with that the party set forth.

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Off to war...

At the crossroads stood the intrepid adventurers, Argos, Roberts, Z, Brom, the deva named Oris, and two of the village militia. At Malton’s behest they had collected Oris to come along with them, as many people harbored a dislike for the Deva, and this seemed a risky operation, if it failed, Malton figured, at least he would rid himself of one problem.
“Allright, everyone listen up,” Argos began, “This is a dangerous mission we have been given. If that man was right, we could be heading into the midst of a massive Orc army, while I doubt that we should keep our wits about us none the less, now, anyone have any comments or concerns before we set out?”
“I do,” Roberts spoke up, “Perhaps we should split our force, send one group up ahead as scouts, keep the faster group as a reserve, the archers perhaps. That way, if the first group runs into an ambush, the second group can follow up and ambush the attackers.”
“A valid point, but no need.” Argos dismissed him, “scouts have already been dispatched ahead of us.”
“Well then, why don’t we just let the scouts find out whats there?” someone interjected.
“Because the council has ordered a reconnaissance en force, so we are going to do that, now, any other valid concerns before we set out?” he was met with a reserved silence, “good then, lets get a move on.”
The party had been traveling through the woods for a short while when they came upon a clearing, as they proceded through, they heard a commotion coming from the other side. Just then, one of their scouts came bolting out of the forest, into the clearing. He made a beeline for Argos, stopping just in front of him. And there the scout fell dead at his feet, an arrow protruding from his back. At that moment before anyone had any idea what was happening, five goblins leapt from the forest, one of them looking rather sinister, with a spear and a sheath of javelins. Before anyone could react the goblins fell upon the party. One of them charged at Z, bellowing a savage war cry, thankfully however, his sword missed its mark, and Z was unscathed. Another of the goblins charged at Oris, its sword came in at a wicked angle, but Oris’ scythe deflected it just in time, he took a nasty gash to one of his fingers, but was otherwise unscathed. The leader of the goblins took an opportunity at that moment to hurl a javelin at the unfortunate Deva, the projectile collided squarely with the Deva’s chest, but it did not skewer him, still it left its mark. Two of the Goblins charged Roberts, intent on drawing his blood. The first brought its sword down, seeking The Dread Pirate’s skull, but he was able to bring up his shield, and deflect the blow. The other goblin had then gotten behind, and sought to slip its swords between his ribs, but Roberts was just too quick, he brought his shield around just in time to avoid a messy demise. Robert’s retaliation was brutal, he spun about, and in one fell swoop stole the life from both his foes, in his vigor, his blade nearly connected with his ally Argos. With Roberts’ strike the goblin’s force had been quite diminished, but they were far from defeated. As at that moment, a goblin blackblade leapt up from behind the adventurers, and jumped upon Brom, knocking him to the ground. Brom was fortunate however, he was able to bring his sword to bear just in time to stop the goblin’s thrust. Brom then, using the momentum of his fall, continued rolling backwards. He pushed off on the goblin with his feet and flung it off him, in the process he completed his roll and regained his feet. Oris then engaged his foe, he swung his scythe at the goblin’s head in a broad arc, but his foe was just to fast, and the goblin ducked its head, just beneath the deadly blade. Z struck out at his attacker with a magical blast, most of which was absorbed by the goblins armor, which was in turn all but destroyed by the blast. As Brom regained his feet he kept up his momentum, bringing his sword downward in a powerful strike, the blow collided with his foe’s shoulder, drawing blood. But before he could strike again the blackblade flickered in some incredible feat of agility that Brom’s eyes simply could not follow, suddenly befor him he found the goblin who had recently been engaged with Oris, and Oris saw before him the Blackblade. Argos then went charging at the Goblin leader, however his attack failed and the Goblin lept back, outside the range of his sword. Roberts muttered to himself a quick, but powerful, prayer to Kord, God of Battle, and he charged at the Goblin himself. Unfortunately, luck was against him. As he failed to see the root what entangled his foot, and sent him sprawling. His sword collided with the ground, and a massive concussive force shot out, spraying dirt up in all directions, including that of Roberts’ mouth, Roberts was unhappy. As Roberts’ sword struck the ground, Oris felt a sweet soothing sensation wash over him, an effect of Roberts’ prayer. At this Oris struck out at the goblin that opposed him, the blackblade was agile however, and the scythe failed to find its mark, still Oris, clever and crafty as ever, followed up with a sharp kick aimed at the goblin’s face, but that fell short as well. Still, it was for the better, as when Oris unbalanced himself with his misguided kick, it caused the javelin expertly aimed at his head, to sail wide, by a millimeter, taking some of his hair with it, Oris was sad. The javelin’s role was not yet over however, as it continued on its destined path through the air, a path that ended with it impacting painfully with Brom’s side, but thanfully deflecting off his scale armor. In his rage, Brom swung his greatsword in a mighty arc, severing the goblins head from its shoulders. Z also dispatched his foe, by blasting away the greater part of its torso. Roberts was quick to regain his feet, but before he could reach the goblin leader it had disappeared, to be replaced by the blackblade, who had once again used its agility, in an attempt to escape the ever seeking blade or Oris’ scythe. But that day was not that goblins lucky day, as he appeared directly in the path of a not-very-jolly-roger. Roberts eviscerated the unfortunate goblin with a single swipe of his furious sword. A combination of blades, arrows, and magic bolts, sent the final goblin to his final rest. And with that the battle was ended.
“Allright, anyone wounded? Is anybody bleeding?” Argos began to take stock of the situation.
“Me, me, im hurt!” Came Brom’s call
“Are you bleeding?”
“…Nooo…”
“then you’re fine, anybody else?”
As it turned out, at some point during the battle one of the goblins had gotten a strike in on Z, and he had in fact lost a little bit of blood, still they quickly had him bandaged, and continued on their way.
The Party approached the smoldering remains of Wheatfell.
“Allright, you two archers,” Argos addressed the militiamen, “set up out here, and act as a rearguard.”
“should we really be using the archers as a rearguard?” Roberts challenged.
“They will be able to give us warning if anything approaches our backs, and besides, their bows will be of little use within those buildings, so lets carry on then, shall we?”
The stoic adventurers proceded cauitiously into the remains of the village, rubble lay strewn about haphazardly, and the smoldering husks were all that remained of the village buildings. As the party crossed through the gate, two figures emerged slowly from behind a pile of rubble. One, a dangerous looking mage, the other, a no-nonsense dwarf.
“Halt! Who goes there?” The mage demanded imperiously
“They don’t look that tough do they?” Roberts began to loosen his sword within its sheath.
“What is your business here?” demanded the mage.
“I am Argos, of Fieldan, and we are here to investigate what has happened to the village of Wheatfell, may I ask who are you and what, exactly, are you doing here?”
“Stay your hand or loose your head fool.” Came a severe sounding voice from behind Roberts, who had the goodsense not to turn around to see who it was, though he did happen to notice the sword laying against his neck.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa…” Brom came sauntering over to Roberts’ side, and found himself at the tip of a sword as well, “Hey! Watch it!”
“Come no further, and unhand your weapons.” The voice threatened in Roberts’ ear.
“how bout’ you get your sword off my neck, and then we’ll talk, okay?” Roberts could have sworn he heard the voice growl.
“We are here for the same reasons as you to investigate the attack on this village,” The dwarf spoke then.
“Well then why don’t we—“ But before he could finish his thought, Argos was cut off.
“QUICKLY! Quickly! Smoke rises to the West, from Fieldan!”
“Oh no, did I leave the stove on again?” Roberts whispered, “Allright, how about you call this guy off, and then we all go and see whats happening in Fieldan?”
“Roight.” The dwarf marched began to march off toward the road. It was then that Roberts realized both the sword and the voice behind it had already mysteriously vanished.
The party encountered no dangers on their return journey, but the flames continued to rise on the horizon. As they approached the village they spotted four well armed men standing at the crossroads.
“Aha! But we are better armed!” The Dread Pirate Roberts bellowed, and began waving his arms about, “ooooooooooooooooooooo…”
“oooh, aaaah, oooh, aaaaah!” Brom began waving his arms from behind Roberts, giving the Dread Pirate the illusion of having four arms. Impressing as there display was however, the four men standing before them were men of the village, and had come to expect as much from these two, they were not impressed.
“Ho there! Argos, you have returned, and with some stragglers, but these two look a bit too well armed to be refugees fleeing from Wheatfell?” Cailen Theras stepped forward.
“Greetengs thar, oi am Orik, oof tha army oof Bahamut. Wheatfell esnt tha ferst city to haf been attacked. Orcs haf been rampaging awl ovar tha coontrysaid. Oi em har to envestigate.” The Dwarf introduced himself in his thick accent.
“Greetings Orik, I am Cailen Theras. I was at my home when the attack began. These men came to collect me, and we went back into the village, to see who we could pull out.” Cailen began, “When we got there, we found a large number of Orcs, and everyone in the village was either dead, or in shackles. So we returned to my home to gather some supplies. When we got there, we found it had been ransacked, and my wife had been taken.”
“Well,” Argos announced, “I am going with the Army of Bahamut, to the capitol city, Enoch, to ask the King for his support,” as had already been decided between Argos and Orik, “We could use as many first hand accounts as possible in describing what happened, so I ask that you all come with us.”
“How can you say that!” Cailen leapt forward, “all our friends, our families, our loved ones, have been taken by a band of Orcs, and you want to go see the King!? You do what you wish Argos, I am going south, after those beasts that have my wife, and ill go alone if I have to.”
This drove our four remaining heroes into debate.
“I don’t like Argos, but his plan is sound, if this is about a larger threat than just the orcs, as the Army of Bahamut believes…” Roberts spoke.
“Protocol dictates that I go with Cailen,” Z said non-comittally.
“I say we go kill somebody!” was all that Brom had to add.
“We should go with Cailen, we can’t abandon these people.” Oris remarked, which was surprising as most of those people didn’t much care for the Deva.
“I say that we go with Cailen, we cannot let our kinsman be made slaves.” Roberts said with finality.
At that point Cailen, who had heard a bit of their conversation spoke up, “Allright,” his voice rang out, “You three,” he pointed to the men who had been standing with him at the crossroads, “Will go with Argos, you were in the village, and you can give the best account of what happened. You four,” he pointed at the heroes, “Can come with me, and we shall go in search of our lost kinsman.”
“Right” The response came out more or less in unison.

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The Search Begins...

The adventurers, first searched the village for anything salvageable, Roberts recovered his cutlass from beneath the water trough, and Oris found a wicked scythe, known as Pelor’s Light, within the town chapel of Pelor. Then, with their new found friend, Cailen Theras, they began their journey south in pursuit of the Orc band that had taken their friends and family. They were leaving Llanowar, and heading to the nation of Telatium, and within it the capitol city of Telatium, for Telatium is known for its slave trade, and perhaps someone there may have been doing business with orcs. They traveled cross country for several days, until eventually they crossed into Telatium, and met up with the main road to Telatium City. Another day’s journey brought them to a rather unassuming minor crossroads. There were a few boulders strewn about, and what looked to be an old gaurdpost nearby. Just as they were approaching the crossroads, a rather diminutive little man jumped out from behind one of the bolders, he was a Halfling, carrying a rapier that seemed a tad disproportional.
“Haha! Enguard, or surrender your coinpurse!” The Halfling exclaimed brazenly.
“HA! What’s this!? Hahaha!” Roberts could hardly contain himself.
“very well then…” the Halfling readied himself, “NOW!” he exclaimed.
At that instant, a band of bandits jumped out from behind the boulders, and surrounded the party. There were now four bandits, and a Halfling staring down the heroes.
“Now, ongaurd, or surrender your coinpurse!” A smile spread across the Halfling’s face.
“Allright!” Roberts issued a Divine challenge upon the Halfling, and drew his cutlass.
At that the bandits dove in upon the party, one ran up to Brom and they engaged, another came hurtling in at Oris his mace flailing wildly. One of the Bandits rushed at Z, and another jumped in to flank Roberts. But his shield was too fast, and the Bandit did not harm him. The Halfling jumped in at Roberts, his rapier finding its mark. Suddenly Oris muttered something under his breath and thrust Pelor’s Light into the air, and a penetrating light erupted from the weapon, blinding all the bandits, but providing no hinderance for his allies. Cailen took the opportunity to lunge forward and get a solid hammer strike on the Halfling’s shoulder. Roberts’ sword flashed in the sun as he spun about, eviscerating the bandit to his side, and drawing blood from the Halfling. This caused the rogue to rethink his plan, and he ran for his life. Roberts quickly drew his handaxe and gave chase. Brom, finally bested his foe, cutting the man clean in half, before he ever had a chance to surrender. Oris did the same, separating a bandits head from his shoulders. Not to be outdone, Z blew his foe’s head clean off with a magic bolt, and the body fell, its neck smouldering. Roberts began to gain ground on the Halfling, and just as he caught up with him the rogue performed an incredible sidestep spin, and drove his rapier into Roberts’ back, drawing blood. Roberts came about flailing his axe, and nicking the Halfling’s shoulder, but before he could do any further damage, the Halfling had turned about, and climbed to the top of the guard post. Roberts’ had no hope of being able to follow him, weighed down as he was by his heavy armor. But Oris was not so encumbered, the deva came running at the wall, and threw himself forward, seeking a handhold, but instead he met the stone wall with his face, breaking his nose, and sending him sprawling on the ground. Z, at his companions’ behest turned and loosed a magic missile at the rogue. His aim was true, and the impact was felt by the Halfling, it threw him off balance and he came plummeting to the earth, upon landing he began begging for his life.
“Wait! Please, please, don’t kill me!” the rogue pleaded, “If you spare me I can make it worth your while. There is a hidden trove in the forest, within it 2000 gold pieces, all are yours if you spare me.”
“500 gold apiece, that’s not quite enough,” said Roberts speculatively.
“A-a-and, you fine gentlemen don’t happen to be traveling to Telatium do you?”
“Where else would we be going on this road?” Roberts’ patience seemed to be wearing thin.
“Well, whenever you get there, I can get you another 2000 gold pieces, just pleeease don’t kill me..” The Halfling begged.
“Information is what we need, not money.” Roberts deflected.
“Information? I’ve got plenty of that. What do you need to know?” the Halfling stammered, clutching at straws.
“We’re looking for our countrymen, taken as slaves by a band of orcs, we believe that they are going to be sold to some Telatium slavers.”
“Oh yes, I can certainly help you with that, just don’t kill me, allright?”
“Allright, now stand up.”
“Okay,” The Halfling struggled to his feet, “Eeh, oh, ow, hey im losing a lot of blood here, ah, could I, ah, have some bandages or…, something.”
“Sure,” Roberts bent down and patched the man up.
“Thankyou, now, shall we be off?” and with that, they set out for Telatium.
On the way Roberts decided the would get to know their newest team member.
“So, do you have a name?”
“Why as a matter of fact, yes, yes I do,” The Halfling had quickly reverted to a good mood when he learned that he was not going to die any time soon, “And it is Kor, I’m a lower-class merchant of Telatium.”
“Speaking of Telatium, what can you tell me about it?”
“well, for starters, Telatium has a very regimented society. There are distinct social classes apparent throughout the city, and even the nation as a whole. The low class lives in the slum district. It’s a cramped and disorganized district located on the northern side of the city. Just south of there is the area of the Middle-class, the more respectable merchants. Those who don’t openly trade slaves or anything illegal, not that they don’t sell those things, they just take extra care not to get caught. South of that area a river divides the city in half, on the Southern side of the river, is the academy, the Institute, the Fort, and the slave barracks, as well as the high-class housing and shops. The middle and upper-classes never trade with orcs, only the lowest of slavers stoop to that level, and they all keep their slaves in the warehouses by the Slum docks, but in the Slums, its one of the only ways to get by. I happen to be one of the more powerful of the Slum merchants, though I am not the one who bought your friends.”
“If you’re a powerful merchant, what are you doing out here robbing travelers like some highwayman?” One of the others asked.
“I said I’m a powerful slum merchant, which just means that I’ve got a lot more mouths to feed. So, When things get tight, I do what ever I can to raise money. If that means robbing affluent travelers, then so be it.”
“Allright, so I think I have a plan for this operation. All I need is a ship…” Roberts said thoughtfully
“With that, I can help you. You see it just so happens that I have a ship we could use.” Said Kor, a dangerous twinkle in his eye, “What’s your plan?”
“Well, we sail into the slum harbor, then we release all the slaves, aside from yours of course, to create a distraction. The slaves riot, giving us a chance to find our friends and sail out of there.”
“Not a bad plan, but there are a few complications. If the slaves start rioting, the army is going to be sent in. Nobody, wants the army in the slums, its bad for business, especially when they start asking who the rioters are, and where they came from, and then they start checking the warehouses, and the next thing you know, I’ve got an appointment with the gilloutine. Nobody wants that…”
“Well then, what do you suggest?”
“What if I told you I could get you into the warehouse where your kinsman are being kept, quietly, no questions asked?”
“I’d say I think we’ve got ourselves a plan.”
The tiny schooner slipped quietly in to dock at the slums, and the adventurers went ashore. Kor met up with a few shady looking characters, asked some questions, parted with some gold, and led the heroes to a small warehouse, a bit further in from the wharf. The party descended the stairs, into the building a small group of thugs stood between them, and the door to the holding pens.
“No, I will deal with these ones,” Kor chimed as he saw Roberts reaching for his cutlass. The Dread Pirate simply shrugged his shoulders and let the Halfling step forward.
“Evening gents!” The Halfling came on jovially, he exchanged a few hushed, parted with some gold, and the thugs stepped aside. The heroes came on.
“um, perhaps we should leave someone outside, to keep watch in case any guards show up.” Kor volunteered.
“Allright, lets see, Z, how about you keep watch outside?” Roberts dictated, Z turned and proceeded back up the stairs, without a word. Everyone else continued further into the warehouse. The inner chamber was divided, the holding pens being on the other side of the room. Kor elected to remain where he was while the others went to collect their friends. Roberts assigned Brom to remain with him. Everyone else made their way to the pens, Cailen leading the way. Their eyes scanned the thronging crowds, each searching for a familiar face, but alas even after several minutes of intense scrutiny, it was to no avail.
“Hey! Roberts, Roberts! We have a bit of a problem, there are guards on their way here now, the warehouse is to be raided! We need to leave now if we wish to live. I’ve already sent Brom to collect the mage and told him to meet us at the ship, so collect your friends, and let us be gone!” Kor seemed more flustered than they had seen him since he lay bloodied at their feet.
“None of our kinsmen are here, but take the others and get to the ship, I’ll meet up with you later.”
“Right!” and Kor, along with the others, was off.
The schooner sped full bore for the open sea, its sails taught in the wind. The tiny ship was fast, and it seemed for a moment as if she might escape, but she was not fast enough. Two Telatium war cruisers sped after her, gaining noticeably. A third broke off from the southern end of the docks, speeding forth on an intercept course. Just as all hope seemed lost, one of the cruisers veered sharply to starboard, colliding roughly with its sister ship, sinking both. But it was not enough, the third ship, pulling forward at even greater speeds, came alongside the schooner, and unleashed a fury of flaming arrows and bolts, the small ship was overwhelmed, and, erupting into flame, sank to the bottom. But Kor was not to be outdone, as just then, a small galleon broke out from the docks, sailing up alongside the Telatium cruiser, passing the massive warship. And there, at the bow of that warship was the infamous Dread Pirate Roberts, fending off a dozen men with his fearsome cutlass.
“Avast!” He bellowed, “Ye shall all remember this day, as the day that you failed to capture the infamous, Dread Pirate Roberts!” And with that he grabbed a rope, and, slashing its ties to the deck, swung forth, over the side, to the galleon. Alas, Roberts had made one miscalculation. His plate armor was simply too much for the rope, which snapped. Roberts did not cut a graceful swath through the air, but instead he plummeted toward the water. But it would take much more than that to kill the Dread Pirate, in fact, he never even touched the water, instead colliding with the galleon’s hull. Still, he was not yet out of harm’s way. Arrows from the warship began thudding into the hull all around, and things were looking rather grim once again. But Brom had other plans in mind, fearlessly reaching over the side of the ship, he managed to pull his friend aboard, and their ship sped off toward the horizon. Some of the freed slaves had agreed to come along for the journey, and were now manning the ship. Still, the adventurers could not shake a feeling of defeat. There kinsmen were lost, perhaps for ever, and their quest had failed.
“Say Cailen, why the long face?” Kor approached the large man.
“Because, slaver,” Cailen spat out the word like poison, “My wife is still in the hands of some vile monster, and I don’t even no where to start looking! But mark my words, Halfling, I will not cease in my search!”
“That’s good to hear…,” Kor spoke slyly, “for I know where she is.”
“What!? How? That’s impossible!”
“Ah, on my way out of that warehouse, I managed to grab the shipping manifest, and your kinsmen are on the list, just a few days ago they were shipped off to the island of Eileen a’ Ceedich.”
“HAha! Roberts! Set a course, full ahead to the west, we’re back on the trail!”
“Right, you hear that you land lovers?! FULL IMPULSE!”
And off they sailed, into the sunset…

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Ill Omens...

“Take care Roberts, we’re coming upon the Watcher’s Isles, few are the ships what have sailed this course, and come out the other side. Some say it’s the sandbars, and the reefs, but there are many a tale of horrid beasts which inhabit these parts.”

“The Dread Pirate does not fear them!” came the predictable response, “Why in fact this reminds me of the time I hunted a band of corsairs through a.., and with.., hahahaha…..” The sailing seemed normal for a while, but as they sailed deeper, a sense of forboding fell upon the ship. And a dense fog engulfed them, making it impossible to see anything more than a few yards away, Roberts was no fool, and he slowed the ship to a crawl.

“Fan out, ready your crossbows,” Roberts whispered, meanwhile loading his own. The tense silence continued for some time, when out of no where a shadow swept across the deck, one of the crewmembers let out a scream, but then he was gone. Shortly thereafter, another shadow, another scream, and another man gone.

“Everyone, tighten up, gather together!” Roberts surveyed the deck as the crew drew closer together. A shadow swept past him, then another and another, Roberts twirling about trying to keep track of them, but they were simply too fast. And then, from the fog all around came a blood curdling shriek. And the monsters were aboard! One of them lunged at Roberts from behind, its sharp beak striking at his back, but his armor held fast, and Roberts turned about. He loosed his bolt without a second thought, but the beast was no longer there. On the main deck, a large, toad-looking humanoid sent a spear through a crewman’s chest. Another of the men was snatched and dragged overboard. Most of their bolts went awry, though one of the men did meet his mark, giving the beast pause, for it was not often that the swift creature felt the sting of a blow. And it was not for long, before the beast could move, it fell to Cailen’s hammer, fog engulfed the body, and it disappeared. Hearing the commotion above decks, Oris leapt up, brandishing Pelor’s Light. He thrust his weapon into the air, shouting some incantation, and a blinding light split the sky. The fog was driven back and the monsters disappeared. As they sailed on the fog retreated even farther, and the sun began to shine once again. Even still, they could not shake the persistent feeling that clung all about them, it was a strange feeling, one of ill omens…
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Sense of Foreboding...

The party had escaped the Watcher’s Isles, though just barely. Only one of their crewmen remained, the others were either dead, or had been swept screaming into the fog. Which was worse, none can rightly say. As such, an underlying sense of dread permeated the ship. They sailed thus for several days across the open sea. Till they came neared their destination.
“Ho! Land ho!” came the cry from the crow’s nest. But this sight was not met with the usual joy and merriment of a crew upon sighting harbor, for this was no harbor to them. It was the isle of Eileen a’ Ceedich, an island infested with mages of horrible power, and cultists worshiping dieties others dare not imagine, let alone name. As they drew closer a thick fog descended once again, and the sun fell from view. In the distance they could see a cliff overhanging the surf. And upon the edge of this cliff stood a lone figure. A mysterious chant emanated from the island. As they came on the figure on the cliff seemed oblivious to thier presence. Only once they had come very close did he make any move. The figure’s arm rose, slow and deliberately, pointing off to the right.
“I think he wants us to go that way,” but before Roberts could so much as lay a hand on the wheel it began to spin, and the ship veered to starboard. The Dread Pirate took a step away from the helm, and a few minutes later the ship had docked itself within a tiny cove. A lone delapadated walkway led away from the ship. The crewman was left behind to guard the ship, as the others set out along the path. Following it led them to a cavern, and within, an underground river, upon the other bank sat a cloaked figure, looking eerily similiar to the one they had seen upon the cliff. After a few moments of anxious debate in hushed tones, the party decided to cross the river and confront the figure, for they understood that it was here that their friends and families had been taken by the slavers.
“Halt.” issued the figure as they drew close, “What business have you here?”
“We come in search of our countrymen, they were recently brought here as slaves” The Dread Pirate displayed no fear of the mysterious figure.
“They are no longer here,” the figure droned, “They were sent north, to a sect of the Cult of Zehir in the Nentir Vale. If you wish to find them that is where you must go. Now you have no business here, be gone.” it commanded.
And so they left, armed with information, they sailed away under their own power, but still they were not yet free of a strong foreboding…

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The story thus far...

Thus concludes chapter one of our grand adventure. Thusfar our heroes have had their village destroyed, and their friends and family taken as slaves. They have tracked them through the nation of Telatium, joining up with a dashing hafling rogue and taking to the seas after their quarry. They have survived the treacherous path through the Watcher’s Isles, and they have come to the mysterious island of Eileen a’ Ceedich. There they learned that their kinsmen had been taken north by a group of Yuan-ti cultists. They now travel north, less than a tenday behind the cultists, but they cannot cary on for long, their supplies grow short, and soon they must make landfall to replenish their stocks. Presently they approach the small port of Candlemass, on a southern penninsula of the island of Euist. There they will wiegh anchor, and take account of their situation…

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Chapter 2

The ship arrived in Candlemass port. There Kor and Cailen decided to go in search of a new crew and ship, while the others headed to the nearest tavern. The Dread Pirate was attacked by a Dwarf bountyhunter by the name of Garrett. The patrons of the bar, as well as many of the sailors in port came to the aid of the familiar dwarf. While the party tried to keep fatalities to a minimum, a few “civilians” were killed. Eventually the guards came along and escorted the group away. They were taken to Castle Gristone in the city of Garreck. They were soon pardoned however when Lady Drassaud learned of their prowess. She asked them to carry a package to the city of Corinth on the other side of the island, and have it delivered to her sister Lady Apheia. The party agreed and they were given ample supplies for the journey, as well as four mounts to speed them on their way. They met with Kor and Cailen before leaving, and Cailen warned that if they did not return within two tendays that he would leave Euist without them. After some debate the heroes decided that their best path would be to head over the mountain pass. They set off that night and covered many miles before daybreak, at which they broke their fast and then continued on throughout the day. They set up camp that night, but it was a restless night. The party was attacked by wolves, the wolves went after the horses, as well as the sleeping party members. Z fended off his attackers by the campfire, with the aid of Oris. The Dread Pirate held back several of the beasts. Brom was lept upon while mounting his horse, but he was able to flip the wolf off him and hurl it into a chasm. Eventually they drove the pack off, and elected not to give chase. The next day they were attacked during their journey by a pair of Hippogriffs. The beasts injured Oris, but were wounded themselves and driven off. The rest of that day was uneventful. The next day the party wandered into a seemingly abandoned village, and were ambushed by orcs. The Dread Pirate’s horse, Shadow-Mare, was wounded by the Orc chief, who was beheaded in splendid fashion by Roberts. The party managed to slay most of the beasts, though a few may have escaped. Oris found the villages surviving inhabitants hiding in one of the tents. Roberts gave them some weapons and told them to be on the lookout for any remaining orcs, and then the party was off. The next day they encountered a Frost Wyrm. The fearsome thing knocked Oris unconscious, and was later beheaded by the Dread Pirate, after a fierce fight with the rest of the party. During the course of the next day Oris and Brom lost their footing and nearly plummeted to their deaths, luckily however, the other two were able to save them. That same day the Hippogriffs returned, and the ensuing battle nearly cost Oris his life, the Hippogriffs were dispatched however, and the entire party survived. They arrived in Corinth the very next day…

After arriving in Corinth they delivered their package, as instructed, to Lady Apheia’s personal servant girl. They spent the next few minutes in the kitchen, awaiting the Lady’s response, that is until she came storming in, along with several armed guards, demanding that the party surrender their weapons and tell her their business there. After convincing her that they were not assassins, the Lady explained to them her dilemma. She and her sister had concocted a scheme to bring all of Euist under control of the city state of Carreck. Lady Apheia would marry the Baron of Corinth, then after she gained the people’s trust the Baron would be assassinated, and Apheia would surrender the city to her sister, Lady Drassaud. However, during her time in Corinth Apheia had fallen in love with the Baron, and come to see the evil of her sister. The package she had just received was in fact the warning that the assassination was about to take place. She enlisted the help of the party in stopping the assassin. The heroes headed up to the ballroom, after some time of careful observation they spotted the assassin, just as she was about to strike. They quickly gave chase, and just as it seemed she might get away, Brom dove and tackled the would be assassin to the ground. They took her to the interrogation room, and Brom and the Dread Pirate attempted to intimidate her, while their attempts to shake the assassin failed, they noted that she seemed rather unstable, the assassin told them that she had decided she liked them and spilled the beans on the plot, with which they were already familiar, however the assassin added that Lady Drassaud planned not only to kill the Baron, but later to have Apheia killed as well, so that she may rule the island alone. The party left the room to converse with Apheia, leaving her head guard, Bralani, to guard the prisoner. They explained her sister’s plan to Apheia, and then heard a crash, and a thud come from the interrogation room. They rushed back around the corner and into the room to find Bralani lying dazed on the floor, he pointed out which way the assassin had went and the heroes, along with Apeia went off in pursuit. They eventually reached a dead-end, while still having seen no sign of the assassin, they returned to the interrogation room to find Bralani missing, however upon closer inspection Oris discovered his body hidden in the corner, naked. Roberts consulted Z on that matter, and after some quick brainstorming the group came to the conclusion that the assassin had been a Doppleganger, or a shape-shifter. And had posed as Bralani to escape. They attempted to lock down the city, but their attempts proved futile as the Doppleganger could impersonate anyone she chose. The Party spoke with Lady Apheia and decided to return to Carreck and mount an attempt to dethrone her evil sister. They were all given Corinthian light shields as well as a handsome amount of gold as reward for their actions in foiling the assassination. They returned to the city of Carreck and decided upon a plan to infiltrate the castle and kill Lady Drassaud in her sleep. They left Z by the wall facing Loch Lauren, where Kor and Cailen waited with their new ship, The Executor. The others infiltrated the castle, and were doing a decent job of remaining undetected. They reached the Lady’s quarters unnoticed, and Oris, the stealthiest of the group, approached her sleeping form. He slashed down with his scythe, but scored only a glancing blow. She was able to gain her feet and sound the alarm. Immediately a contingent of guards came rushing into the room. Oris led the retreat, Roberts grabbed the Lady and followed, and Brom held off the guards long enough for the others to get going before making his own retreat. They signaled Z to blow up the wall (using some explosives they had bought before setting out for Corinth over the mountains.) They came running into the courtyard, and out the gaping hole in the wall. They went running full bore for the docks, arrows and guardsmen nipping at their heels. As they reached the dock they jumped one by one onto the ship, first Oris, Brom, then after a moment of indecision, Z, and finally the Dread Pirate Roberts made his run, he stopped at the end of the dock, tossing the Lady aboard. He then turned around, reached into his belt pouch, and drew out a strange looking object. He hurled it at the pursuing guards, and turned about to jump for the ship. The strange thing aimed straight and true at the face of his nearest pursuer, and as it flew through the air, the thing exploded, inches from the surprised guard’s face, the force of the blast obliterated the dock, along with those guards on it, and sent Roberts sailing through the air to land on the deck of his ship. And off they sailed, out into deeper waters. Later they stopped by a Corinthian outpost at the northern tip of the island, there they deposited a distraught Lady Drassaud, with orders for the men there to have her delivered to the city of Corinth with the utmost haste.

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Chapter 3

After their adventures on the island of Euist the adventurers set out to the north, in search of their kinsmen once again. They sailed the expanse of the Ocean, until they came to the Venetian Sea, the last great body of water south of the Carahadarac Desert. They docked at the small town of Starford, where they replenished their supplies and attempted to gain as much information about the region as possible. Thus they learned of a fierce battle being fought on the opposite shore of the Sea, less than two days to the east. Word had it that Lord Kelmin of Belast was engaged in pitched battle with a massive army of raiders. Never a group to skirt a fight the adventurers went immediately to the east. They arrived in Belast less than two days later, to find the city in a state of serious disrepair, burning rubble and bodies lined the streets, but the hardy people of this frontier town remained as well, they directed the adventurers to the main lines, and Kelmin’s headquarters. They met Lord Kelmin as he stood amongst his men on the front lines of battle, Kelmin and his beleaguered legion were happy for the arrival of fresh men. Before they could be properly introduced however, the battle was on in full. Several of Kelmin’s men fell, but not nearly as many as those the raiders lost. After that assault came a lull in the fighting, and Roberts discussed with Kelmin their plan for defending against the next offensive. They planned to put a massive flamethrowing weapon in the center of their line, to be used if it seemed they may be overrun. They soon returned to the line, Brom and Cailen maneuvering the devastating machine into position. Shortly after, the raiders attacked. They outnumbered the valiant defenders by more than three to one. The battle was a fierce one. Oris and Roberts led the defense on the left flank, each felling several foes. Kelmin stood tall with his men at the head of the center of their line. It appeared at that point that the battle was nearly won, when a sudden enemy assault threatened to overwhelm the right flank, it was Cailen and Brom’s quick reaction with the flamethrower that saved them all, obliterating the enemy attack…

After the battle the party met with Lord Kelmin, who thanked them for their noble and heroic actions. From him they learned of a nearby cavern, just south of Belast. It was rumored that within the cavern there was a rock pool, filled to the brim with glorious treasure. The adventurers, always in need of some funds to keep them going, decided to investigate. They sailed the Executor to the cavern entrance, but took a dinghy from there. They came through a narrow passage, and inside of the cavern they discovered a small lake, sitting in the middle of the lake was a tiny island, the location of the rumored treasure. Without hesitation they rowed out to the island. Mr. Bigg set about digging immediately, while everyone else kept a weather eye out for trouble. Before they had hardly begun a thick fog enveloped the cavern, and sounds of a chant could be heard on all sides… Suddenly! A horde of zombies came rushing up from the water. Our heroes dove into pitched battle, everyone fighting fiercely to protect Mr. Bigg. Finally the last undead fell, but they were hardly out of the woods. From through the fog came magical blasts, several of them striking the heroes. Roberts issued the order for a return fire, and whipped out his own crossbow. The battle raged for another few minutes, till all but the last wizard had fallen, and Mr. Bigg had just finished excavating the treasure. The heroes attacked the final remaining mage, bolts, arrows, daggers, and magic, flew at the villain. And none of them even made it to him. Again and again they attacked their foe, to no avail. And then came his retaliation. The mage began firing incredible bolts of energy at the heroes, sending each of them flying, knocking a few unconcious. Finally, not a single adventurer was left standing to fight, and the mage then teleported to the tiny islet. He approached them, and began his monologue detailing the futility of their efforts, and their imminent demise. Just as he gathered all his energy, for one, final blow…A sword suddenly erupted from his chest. The stunned wizard gasped as his energy dissapated into a harmless ball of light that quickly faded away, he slumped to the ground, dead. And there, standing over him was none other than Kat, the Doppleganger assassin. She subsequently explained how she had been employed by Zero, (Z’s creator, and how she had been tasked with killing Z, so that he would not disrupt the plans of her master. She also explained how this had been a trap, but she had decided at the last second that she liked the heroes much better than she liked Zero. She informed them of his lair underneath the city of Triware, to the east, and then went on to suggest that they simply blow up the town and let it collapse in on their foe. Roberts immediately took a liking to the, mildly unstable, assassin. However, the more magically savy, and less pragmatic, group members decided that even if they did blow up the town it wouldn’t even bother Zero. At that point Kat suggested that they blow up the town, just the same, and Roberts immediately knew that he and the assassin would get along just fine.

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Chapter 4

Determined to confront the mad sorcerer who was trying to kill one of their own, the heroes set off for Triware, just a half day’s travel to the East. When they arrived Kat promptly brought them to the entrance of Zero’s underground lair. They battle their way through some minor magicians and their fodder, and came at last to a large bridge, the only obstacle remaining between them and Zero himself. The battle across the bridge, killing the mages, and the zombie hordes that served them. Just as the battle was wrapping up and all the mages had been killed, Zero emerged. His powers were far too great for any of them to contend with. The small squad of soldiers that Lord Kelmin had lent them for the mission, led by Captain Jim, were blasted and tossed like ragdolls. In the end the fight boiled down to a battle of wills between Z and Zero. Z won out in the end, obliterating the man who had created him into nothingness. The heroes met up with Captain Jim, the only surviving one of Kelmin’s soldiers and returned to Belast. The moment they arrived they were met with urgent news. While they had been battling mages in Triware, a massive pirate fleet had invaded the Venetian Sea. The Pirates outnumbered the Thacien defenders by twenty-three, thirty pirate ships for the seven of those of the Thacien navy. The Executor being a warship our heroes were called upon to aid in the defense of the region. Immediately they set sail to the south. By the time they arrived, the battle was just beggining. Throughout the course of the fight, the Executor sank six enemy ships, Two with their ballista, two by ramming, one set ablaze by Z, and the other blown in half by the sheer power of Roberts’ piercing smite. After the fight they were formally thanked and congratulated by Admiral Desria of the Thacien navy. Having delayed long enough already, the heroes once again set off to the north, in search of their missing kinsmen.

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Chapter 5

The heroes arrived in Scion, the end of the line for the Executor, as it is the furthest northern reach of the Venetian Sea, and soon the party would be setting out over the Carahadarac Desert. They arrived late in the evening, much of their crew was already asleep. Z, Oris, and Brom elected to go into town however. They promptly made their way directly to the nearest tavern and sat down for a drink. There they met a man by the name of Tolg, he told them of a decent sum of cash he had lost in the sewer, and promised them compensation if they would be so kind as to retrieve it for him. As they had already had quite a bit of ale, it never occured to any of them to wonder why exactly Tolg would have been scrambling around down in the sewers, nonetheless down they went. After a bit of slogging they arrived in the location Tolg had described to them, before they could begin a proper search however, they were attacked. Several bandits lept out and assaulted them, after a tough fight however, the bandits surrendered, and while no one was looking, ran off into the night. Oris, Z, and Brom headed back to the tavern at that point, to have a little chat with Tolg. They arrived to find a scene of some commotion. Apparently there had been a bar fight, they learned from the innkeep that some woman had come in, talking to herself, and sat down next to Tolg. He apparently attempted to initiate conversation, and the lady attacked him. The bartender told them that the fight had carried out into the street and that he hadn’t seen either of the two since. The three of them proceeded outside to see if they could discern where the two had gone, at this point there was some suspicion that the woman they had heard of was in fact their friend Kat. After searching around a bit they found a faint trail of blood on the cobblestones, they followed the trail to a dark alley, against their better judgement, and Z’s protests, they proceeded. A few moments later they arrived at a dead end, before they could turn back however, Z, who had been at the rear was grabbed from behind by a giant hairy goblin, a bugbear as they are known, The brute slipped a garote around his neck and held him from behind. After an intense struggle, and with the aid of Oris and Brom, Z was able to break free just in time to avoid suffocation. Brom split the creature’s skull wide with his greatsword before they had a chance to question it, much to Oris’ dismay. However, it was at that moment that a cloaked figure bolted from the far corner of the alley and attempted to flee past the group. Brom stopped him abrubtly with a solid fist to the face. After some intense negotiations, during which Brom was introduced as the Dread Pirate in order the scare Tolg into talking, they discovered where Kat was being held and formulated a plan for her rescue. First they went to gather Roberts and Kor, whom they thought might provide invaluable assistance. Together they all set out for the warehouse that the Bloodghost Syndicate used for it’s hideout. They arrived and bullied Tolg into gaining access for the group. Inside Brom introduced himself as the infamous, Dread Pirate Roberts. The one in charge of the Bloodghosts was a large bugbear by the name of Rathos. There were far too many foes, and Kat in far too delicate a position for the party to even attempt a straightforward slash and smash approach, each of them realized that the present situation called for a bit more tact. Upon their entrance Rathos recognized two things, the name of the Dread Pirated Roberts, and also he recognized Kor, as Kor was wanted by several very rich and powerful criminal organizations of Telatium, not to mention the Telatium government itself. Rathos being found of gambling and a hater of fights set a bargain against the “Dread Pirate”, the two would play a game of Pirate’s Dice, and should Brom win he would recieve Kat’s freedom, however, if Rathos were to win, he would keep both Kat and Kor. As this was their only option Brom had no choice but to agree. However, Brom had also never played Pirate’s Dice in his life, luckily the real Dread Pirate was able to coach him through it covertly. In the end Brom won the game and Kat went free. On their way out they were confronted by a wizened looking Kobold who called himself Jarmaag Fireseer, in exchange for delivering a package to the founder of the Bloodghosts, Rathos’ mother, he pledged the allegiance of the Bloodghosts to their cause should he come to power (something he was planning meticulously) After that ordeal the heroes were rather eager to leave Scion behind them. They anchored their ship to a small island in the Venetian Sea, and set out north, toward Armweta…

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