- Mike – Lerris Blackstaff, Chaotic Good, Human Male (21), Wizard (4), Law/Balance/Chaos/Vitus 0/0/0/0
- Damon – Slain Greystaff… Neutral Good, Human Male, Fighter (2), Cleric (2), Law/Balance/Choas/Vitus 0/0/0/0
- Albert – Brin Whitestaff… Chaotic Good, Human Male, Fighter (4), Law/Balance/Chaos/Vitus 0/0/0/0
^ These characters hail from Kryll, a world Damon created. They are members of an elite order known as The Das Volkers created by player characters (including myself) over the course of a grand campaign of many years. Each of them was sent by related noble families to be trained in the Das Volker Academy. They appeared on Trel when Lerris botched a spell in the academy transporting them near the city of Naksokar. Slain and Brin decided this “accident” must really just be another test of The Das Volker Academy.
Lerris knew better and he was more concerned with the fact that he can no longer sense the presence of his true master, Lord Von Holland, who is bent on the destruction of The Das Volkers. Hidden around his neck Lerris wears a powerful amulet. He can use it to open a portal to his masters empire allowing a small force of soldiers to come to his aid. He also has the option of passing through the portal himself if he needs to flee to safety… but in either case it is a one-way trip. Once the portal is opened it may never be used again.
The amulet also grants him the ability to send a psychic report to his master once per day, but for some reason it is not working at the moment. The amulet conceals his true allignment and will cloak him from efforts to scry upon his person or his mind. (Other than his master of course) Incidentally if he ever needs to remove the amulet it deactivates and will not appear magical to detection spells, nor will it function around anyone elses neck.
Act 1: Part 1, “Nadsokar”
The City of Nadsokar, also known as “The City of Beggars”, is infamous throughout the young kingdoms. Once it was part of neighboring Vilmir, but they abandoned the city long ago because of plague. Soon afterwards groups of beggars, bandits and theives started to occupy the empty streets and buildings.
Vilmir felt well rid of such vermin and made no effort to retake the city. They hoped the plague would do their work for them. Later when the undesireables declared themselves independent and free of the tyrany of Vilmir there was no public outcry or objection.
Centuries later the city is now well known as a haven for the unwashed. The filth-choked streets, half collapsed towers and decaying buildings now house a population far more numerous then originally intended; despite the continuing ravages of disease, starvation and lawlessness. Opening Scene
The PC’s approached Nadsokar with apprehension. They had never heard of such a city on Kryl. The notion that this was some kind of illusion became less likely with every step. On the road ahead a traders cart appeared that would soon pass by. However, at that instant an ambush sprang from the roadside. Strange four-armed, feline, monstrous-humanoids attacked some firing two bows at once!
The PC’s rushed to the aid of the poor trader that was cowering while arrows struck his cart in a dozen different places. The feline archers apparently preferred to use a volley of arrows when a single well-aimed shot could have killed the trader easily. Garbed in their strange outlandish uniforms the PC’s surprise the bandits and kill a couple in the first round. However, the rest only turn tail to flee when Lerris demonstrates his use of arcane magic to incapacitate one of them. Frightened by his bizarre words and arcane gestures the other cat-folk make a hasty retreat abandoning one of their own to his fate.
The trader is miraculously unharmed and grateful to the PC’s for their rescue. Lerris casts tongues on himself and the trader so they can understand each other. The trader describes the race of bandits as Gnarls, dangerous but easily startled. Eager to repay their kindness he askes the PC’s what he might do for them? Tongue-tied the pc’s start asking him lots of questions about this place and Trel in general. Unfortunately the poor trader has not travelled very widely… he suggests they speak to Baron Isell. “He’s got many ties to the outside that one. Travelled all over after he was exiled from Esh. Some say Nadsokars the only safe place left for em… Never been notin but polite to me though… and he deals a fair price to us traders. If I was gonna ask anyone for help, it’d be him, yessir. Stay away from King Urish The Seven Fingered.”
Noticing their grimmace he says the city is safe enough as long as they observe a few simple rules. “The first rule is give something to the beggars.” He warns that no one leaves Nadsokar alive if they dont give away a few grouts. (small coins made of tin or other base metals) The second rule is never flash too much wealth. “Never underestimate how many beggars there are surrounding you at any given time”, he says. “If you give them an excuse to form a mob and use them cleavers of theirs… well there wont be notin left of ya but bloodstains. Some of em beggars are cannibals, and what they don’t eat the rats will!”
After parting ways with the trader the PC’s speak harshly with the Gnarl they captured. The poor creature knows little and has nothing to give to spare his life. The PC’s decide to drag him along until he finds a way to earn back his freedom.
After taking a moment to hide anything of any value on their person they stroll into the city of Nadsokar dragging the helpless Gnarl behind them in chains. There are no guards or gates barring entrance to this city because no one in their right mind would seek to occupy it.
No sooner do they walk ten feet down the filth-strewn street when a group of dirty children in rags surrounds them whining for coin, bread or cheese. “Please sir! My mother will cook my sister if I don’t bring back something else to eat!”
The Gnarl growels loudly and the children scatter. Slain thumps it on the nose. “No!”
After walking a ways through the needy throngs they reach what might have been a beautiful city plaza surrounding a large fountain. Except now that fountain is used as a public urinal and the air is thick with fly’s, fleas and worse… shacks and stalls are propped up in a rough circle around the outside of the plaza serving as makeshift shops where stollen goods can be purchased. On the other side of the plaza a large stone building lies half in ruins hidden deep in shadows. Assuming the directions the trader gave them were correct this should be Isells hideout.
However getting across the plaza is not as easy as it looks. By now a dozen beggars are trailing in their wake as if claiming these strange visitors as their own. Many more beggars start to gather around the PC’s and their needy pleas become angry as the original beggars push away their competition. Someone screams as his hand is hacked off by a cleaver another beggar produced as if from thin air.
As if that wasn’t enough shopkeepers start shouting at the PC’s trying to lure them to their place of business. “A hundred grouts for the Gnarl!” one cries over the din… “Two hundred!” Another yells waving their cleavers about giving them space to be heard.
“Good god they want to eat the poor creature!” Slain exclaims and the Gnarl suddenly isn’t pulling on its chains anymore. “Enough of this!” Slain grunts tossing a handful of copper coins over their heads.
The greedy hands stop waving and start pushing and punching diving for the shiny coins where they land. More screams as cleavers hack. The distraction gives the PC’s time to move nearly halfway across the plaza before they are surrounded even thicker then before. “More! More!” Desperate voices shout.
“If they like copper they should love gold!” Lerris comments reaching for his purse.
Immediately Slain grabs his arm. “Don’t be fool!”
Brin smirks and decides to try something else. Raising his arms to the sky he produces a sunrod and activates it. The sudden burst of light sends the beggars into a panic. They stumble and trample over eachother while Brin laughs. Shopkeepers drop curtains and slam doors and shutters. Suddenly the plaza is deserted and eerily silent.
“Primitaves…” Brin chuckles leading the way.
Isells hideout is actually much more comfortable then they would have predicted. Lavish tapestries, pillows, carpets, and other items of art and comfort decorate his audience chamber. The PC’s are stunned to see that Ganesh are apparently thickly-proportioned humanoids with heads that resemble elephants… which is also a creature they’ve never seen in point of fact… Unsure of the formalities the PC’s take example from the Gnarl that grovels before the baron and bow respectfully.
Isell certainly looks the part of an infamous criminal. His thick hide is crisscrossed with scars; the massive ivory tusks he carries are chipped and broken from battle; his hands look like they could palm a mans skull and crush it like a walnut. He eyes the PC’s with a black stare of greed and intrigue.
After a few tense moments he asks the PC’s what brings them to Nadsokar in a deep bellowing voice that shakes them back to their senses.
“It is my fault that we find ourselves here Great Baron.” Lerris says. “I intended for my magic to bring us elsewhere. We are but strangers here. Lost, with no means to return from whence we came.”
The Baron laughs. “Ahhh another wayward magician! I seem to collect them of late. Isn’t that so Hazzan?”
The PC’s attention is diverted to a draconic-humanoid, more akin to a human then a kobold except for his scaled scalp. Hazzan steps away from a shadowy alcove with a staff gripped in his claws. His eyes gleam brightly and his forked tongue flicks between his fangs as he opens his mouth to speak. “Yesss Isssell. I ssennsse great power from these sstrangers but they sspeak the truth.”
The Baron grunts. “What can I do for you?”
“We were told that you could help us?” Ferris asks politely. “We would be happy to pay for your assistance or any information you think we should know.”
The Baron grunts again and one of his guards comes forward with a tray in his arms. Ferris exchanges glances with his friends and places a pouch of gold coins on it. Slain produces a hidden gemstone and Brin places another one of his sunrods on it.
“What the hell another sunrod?” Slain curses under his breath. “Are you trying to get us killed cough up some coin!”
Brin shrugs. “I left my coin at the academy I didn’t think I would need it. Besides sunrods seemed to impress the other primitives.”
Frowning but unable to understand their strange language the guard presents the tray to his master who gives the offerings a cursory nod. “You must be telling the truth. Only a fool would risk carrying gold coins in these parts. Gold tender is illegal in The Young Kingdoms. You risk imprisonment or worse. I suggest you let me exchange any other treasure you have for steel and bronze coins or bars else I cannot vouch for your safety.”
Lerris and others exchanged glances again and shrugged. “Very well. What is this gold worth to you?”
“I will do my best to help you.” Isell replies in his deep monotone. “You will have provisions, maps, clothing, weapons… and a guide.” Isell gestures to Hazzan. Unlike you he has no more coin to offer me and my protection does not extend on credit forever. He may be of some use to you. If not, it is no concern of mine. Once you leave the city you are on your own.” Lerris nods.
“One more thing. Can you do something with this Gnarl? It is not customary for us to drag others around in chains… only this creature made a nuisance of himself and we feel it is appropriate that he earn back his freedom.”
The great Baron nods. “He will earn it I assure you.”
Outside the City
When the PC’s finally walk out of Nadsokar they feel refreshed and glad to be in the fresh air once again. Hazzan seems worried but he is not unammaned. He explains that he is one of the Dragon-kynde, born to serve the dragon-kings of old through The Cult of the Dragon. He says he is on a very important quest in this regard. He has in his possession a golden tablet lost for centuries during the dragon wars.
“It iss impertive that I deliver this tablet to my sssuperiorss.” He says. “Before the Melniboneanssss find me.”
“Who are the Melniboneans?” Lerris inquires.
“They are an evil race that nearly conquered the world ssseeking to make ssslaves of all other racess, even dragonsss.”
“Why can’t your dragon-kings save you?” Slain asks.
“Their boness have been resssting for eonsss.” He says. “We guard their tombsss and presserve their hissstory, their magic, and their sssecretss.”
“So they wish to enslave your kind? The Dragon-Kynde?” Slain asks.
“Yesss but they are more interested in ensslaving dragonsss. They have ssseveral under their sssway already. Ssstrange wicked dragonss from elsswhere beyond the ssstars. They dominate them and otheress through their sssecret magic, the sssanguinarcana, blood-magic.”
“Do you know how it works?” Lerris ask suddenly very curious.
“It ssseems to work when they have your blood. They tricked Dragosss, the eldest of thesse ssstrange dragonss and through him they ussed usss Dragon-Kynde to sssteal blood from the other dragonsss. But we know of a stronger magic, an older magic and thiss tablet will help free Dragoss and the other ssslave dragonss to help uss desstroy the Melniboneansss!”
“Why have you waited so long to deliver this tablet to your superiors if it is so important?” Brin asked incredulously.
“I am being hunted!” Hazzan says. “The Melniboneansss have many ssspies and it ssseems they already know about my quesst and ssseek to ssstop me. I musst be very careful because it is possible they already have my blood.”
“What will happen if they do?” Lerris asks.
“It dependsss, but mosst likely they will usse it to ssseek me out and ssstop me sssomehow. The Melniboneansss are all inssane they need no reassonss for their cruelty the livess of other racess mean nothing to them!”
“Is this why you’ve been hiding in Nadsokar?” Brin asks smirking once again.
“It isss but it ssseemss I have nowhere elsse to hide now. I did not tell Issell thiss much about my quesst becausse I cannot rissk letting this tablet fall into the wrong handss. It iss our worldss besst hope for sssalvation!”
From somewhere high above the clouds a terrible roar suddenly shakes the ground like thunder. A great shadow races across the ground towards the PC’s and Hazzan grows wide-eyed with terror. “Take thisss! They’ve found mee!” Hazzan says offering something wrapped protectively in cloth to the PC’s.
Lerris is the first to grab it, and as soon as he does Hazzan falls to the ground clutching his chest. “I can feel their magic in my veinsss!” He screams.
Red blisters appear all over his body and his flesh turns the pallor of cooked meat before his eyes pop and boiling lood spurts from his skull and mouth. Hazzans steaming flesh literally sloughs off his skeleton as he collapses.
The air shakes again with the mighty roar of a huge dragon, and riding upon its back a sinister inhuman figure waving his hands in the familiar motions of spellcasting…
To be continued in Part 2: “The Hunt”, at some point in the future…