Primordium

Session 1: Kendal Keep
In Which They All Meet in a Tavern

Posted by Darth Krzysztof

21st of Vermus, 1301 AD

The sturdy fortress called Kendal Keep sat atop a flat-topped hill. Four travelers reached the end of the steep path which climbed up to the Keep, where the raised drawbridge forced them to stop at the wide yawn of the moat.

Hugh Caedmion aimed a nervous glance at the forbidding towers that flanked the entrance. The crenellated battlements would provide excellent cover for any archers, and there was nowhere to hide down here on the road…

“So,” Adara asked, “This is Kendal Keep?”

“I guess,” Hugh replied with a grunt, looking to Petrus, who nodded once.

Detrius crouched a bit, testing the strength of the knee that had pained him all the way here. Pointing down the road, he said, “They rang the gong when we were back there. They definitely saw us coming…”

As if on cue, a man’s face appeared atop the tower to their right, thirty feet above. “Halt!” he called, though everyone had already stopped moving. “Who goes there? Friend or foe?”

Hugh blinked. “Friends?” he offered, uncertainly.

“Yes,” Adara said, “friends, good sir. We wish no trouble.”

As a second man appeared in the left-hand tower, the first guard squinted down at the four travelers. “Names?”

Hugh and Detrius offered theirs without elaboration. “Adara,” said the deva, “High Priestess and Artificer of the Grand Cathedral.” Petrus introduced himself as a man sworn to St. Relonor, earning another sideways glance from Adara.

The guards stood in silence for a long moment. The man to their left said “Right!” and began climbing down.

“I do hope he’s lowering the drawbridge,” Adara said, mostly to Hugh.

Hugh nodded, mumbling, “Does anyone ever answer ‘foe’?”

“I would certainly hope not!” Adara exclaimed, smiling. Massive chains clanked to life as the drawbridge began to lower. “You see, friends? Relonor’s luck is with us.”

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Prelude: Departure
In Which Faolan Gets a Mission

Two years later

Mathuin found his pupil in the same glade they had met in.
Ah, I wasn’t the only person with a sudden thought this morning.

“Faolan,” Mathuin called, “how does the day find you?” His pupil turned, pulling off the grey-green hood of the cloak he wore.
“Mathuin,” Faolan punctured the name with a bark, “the day finds me well, now that you have found me.”
“Truly?”
“No, I’ve been lying the entire time. I hate your guts. We need to talk,” Faolan replied. He looked annoyed, then bemused.
“Great, you’re rubbing off on me. Now I’m starting to jump around with subjects in conversation,” the younger druid said as he pulled his staff off of the ground.
Mathuin smiled. “I follow you fine, and agree. It is—" The older druid stopped mid-sentence and spun around, facing the edge of the glade.
“What?” Faolan asked, starting to scan the ring of trees himself.
“Danger. Something’s coming – trying to be sneaky."

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Prelude: Voices
In Which Faolan Finds a New Purpose

It wasn’t until Mathuin returned as the sun was setting that he began to worry. The stranger had not moved since the old druid had seen him hours ago. He had been annoyed before, but surely no wandering traveler would just park down here.

It was more troubling that the stranger had not bothered to set up a tent or make any sort of camp. The Direwood was a dangerous place – even after the work the Nine Circles had done. The wilderness wasn’t some tame garden to sit and marvel at – without some sort of shelter from the elements this man would be very miserable very soon.

And, by the Spirits, the stranger was sitting in his glade! It was unremarkable compared to several other forest spots – just a flash of grass surrounded by a ring of trees, really. The reasons Mathuin frequented it wasn’t something a simple wanderer could pick out – the glade was particularly close to the Primal Spirits. Why would the traveler pick here to sit down and gaze at the sky?

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Prelude: The Pawn
In Which Thraxus Argentum Achieves Immortality

Posted by zero on behalf of maningrey


Centuries Ago…

A mist formed over the battlefield in the valley, mercifully suppressing the stench, but by mid-day it would be awful. As yet, the sun had not yet risen over the high encircling mountains where the camps lay, and the night sky above was clear – a good omen for today’s push. Tribune Argentum, most junior of the officers in the Third Claw, contemplated the vastness of infinity from the camp at the mouth of the valley. The eladrin had extracted a cost, but were now holed up in their precious spiral tower. Tomorrow, the gates would be breached, the fortress cleansed of their alien filth, and the borders would be secure, as the emperor had commanded.

Behind him in his tent, closest to the main army as befit his low rank, he could hear the rasping and brushing as his ape-slave Gort worked to clean the blood off and polish the scales of Thraxus’s armor in preparation for the assault. The tribune tasted the air, and his tongue recoiled from the stench it sensed. He wasn’t sure which smelled worse – the taste of battle or the taste of the ape-slaves. Useful creatures, if simple. He couldn’t bring himself to believe the rumors that some clans had begun breeding for intelligence. What nonsense! No true dragon blood would waste time on such a vain pursuit. Next they’ll be teaching them runes or High Speech!

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Prelude: The Priestess
In Which Hugh Meets Adara and Detrius

Posted by zero, in collaboration with GnomeSplosion and DarthKrzysztof

“Of All the Gin Joints in All the World…”


The sun’s light was just starting to wane by the time Hugh actually made it to the inn that Petrus had suggested. He’d spent the rest of the day arguing with himself about whether or not to take the paladin’s money and try to make a run for it. Practicality argued that the man had found him once and could probably do it again. And if it came to that, he doubted he’d get the second chance that Petrus was offering.

He had to admit that there was something appealing in the offer – not of redemption, for he felt that he was damned by his own actions and would never be able to make up for it. But to try doing something for someone other than himself. He wasn’t sure he could use the power that had been the boon he’d received in exchange for his soul, but perhaps he could be useful in some other way. Furthermore, he couldn’t stomach the idea of going back just to face execution, either. The deliberation took many hours of walking before he finally made up his mind and pushed open the doors to The Rusty Axe.

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Prelude: The Price
In Which Hugh Encounters a Bounty Hunter

Posted by zero

“The Patron Saint of Liars and Fakes”


“Ungh,” Hugh muttered, and the sound proved far too loud for his hangover. The ache in his head coupled with the feeling like his brain had been stuffed with scratchy wool was almost unbearable. With a great effort, he rolled over and thumped unceremoniously from the bench upon which he lay to the cold dirt floor of the charmingly named Logjammer Inn. A derisive snort from across the common room drew his attention, and he slowly turned his head in that direction.

The bulky barkeeper shook his head in disapproval. Hugh thought he remembered running up a significant tab, and he was positive that he’d spent his last copper a couple of days ago. Groaning, he slowly pushed off the floor to come to a seated position. Gradually, he pulled himself back up onto the nearby bench and yawned, smacking his lips. “So. What’s for breakfast?”

“Cheeky bastard,” growled the barkeep, rounding the bar and coming at Hugh furiously. The young man scrambled down the length of the bench and narrowly prevented himself from falling off the end. He stumbled a few steps toward the door-flap but stopped cold as he slammed into something heavy, metal, and immovable.

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Prelude: The Discovery
Blessings Go With You

Posted by GnomeSplosion


“Now where was it…” A crash is heard in the reliquary and resounds through the cavernous hallways of the Grand Cathedral. Another crash and a clang are heard as footsteps begin to scuffle hurriedly toward the source of the cacophony. “No, no, no… It’s not here either. Detrius, move that sculpture please?” The sound of grinding stone on stone is heard as footsteps near the door to the Grand Cathedral’s reliquary. The door swings open and a number of scribes and priests look into the room to see a beautiful pale skinned Deva pacing back and forth. “Where in heaven did I place that Arcane-Output-Junction?” She purses her violet hued lips, the color of lavender flowers, and places a finger to them thoughtfully, oblivious to her audience.

“It was here just a day ago,” she states as the onlookers shake their heads and begin to depart. The younger ones stay on to watch the lovely woman rummage through an ivory chest. The room is a disaster, towers of books – some notes and some texts – loom over tables and benches strewn with objects of various divine and arcane nature. Alchemical reagents and bottles and tubes occupy a workbench in the back corner that is marred with knife notches and small singe marks. A large constructed man, a humanoid machine forged for some ancient purpose (and obviously not in the best condition ever) stands beside an almost draconic statue. It almost has a distressed look on its near expressionless face.

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Prelude: The Pact
In Which Hugh Makes a Very Bad Decision

Posted by zero

“I’ve got a dark alley and a bad idea that says you should shut your mouth.”


2 Vermus, 1301

Hugh Caedmion crashed to the floor, stumbling over a chair when Elric pushed him. Snarling, the younger man regained his feet only to meet the point of his rival’s rapier. Somehow, Elric flashed a winning smile at Magdalena without ever taking his eyes off Hugh. “A duel, Master Caedmion?” asked the noble, his tone mocking. “A finer jest I could not imagine.”

“El, don’t!” pleaded Magdalena. Her entreaty was ignored.

The merchant’s son’s eyes blazed and his knuckles whitened as he gripped the hilt of his dagger. He was no match for a swordsman of Elric’s skill, and they both knew it. The noble was daring Hugh to provide an excuse to humiliate him further. Hugh barely swallowed his anger at the indignity he’d already suffered. He tried to catch Magdalena’s eye, but her troubled gaze rested squarely on the floor in front of her. Glowering, he spun on his heel and exited the tavern, the mocking laughter of Elric’s cronies following him out.

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