Echoes of the Past

The Story of the Once and Reborn King

Book One: From Ashes of Empire

Part Two: The Seawolf

Adventure One: Journies Afar

Act II: Echoes of the Past

Chapter One: The Winter Court

November 6
Ander, Tristin, and Gurney arrive at the ancestral seat of the House of Laaw. Trepidiously, Tristin goes to see his father. He hopes that since he made a good amount of money doing things his way, that his father will let him off the hook for disobeying. His father is distant and a bit cold. He shows more displeasure with Gurney then Tristin, as he expected Gurney to look after the boy. He makes Ander feel very welcome and invites him to stay till spring if he likes. He then rounds on Tristin and tells him that since he is so independant now, he can take his father's place at Winter court this year, and represent the family. Tristin can't say no, so he agrees. It is a tenday trip so Tristin plans to leave by the 12th or so to have time to prepare.

A feast has been prepared for the returning heroes and Tristin's father listens raptly to the tales the men have to tell. He already knows much of their journies from the teamsters and guards who returned earlier last month. He is deeply moved by Ander's plight after hearing his sad tale. He offers the boy whatever help he can give.

November 7-11
Tristin shows Ander the castle and its lands. It is a time of relaxation.

Marik has been busy setting up house for the last several weeks. He and Aniki have cleaned and inventoried the tower. She has taken over most of the day-to-day requirements of being a court mage, while Marik has taken on the more public aspects of the job. He has taken to hanging out with Lord Bertrum, and has done a few odd favors for the man. His father is displeased by this, as he still holds a grudge after the Tristin incident. On the 8th, Marik receives an invitation to be the keynote speaker at the annual Arcane Society Convention, being held this year at the College of Fundemental Forces in the city of Aquataine. He cannot refuse such an offer and makes ready to go. He is a little unnerved that he has received such an honor, as his magickal skills, while quite good, are more raw talent then skill, even he must be the first to admit.

November 12-21
Tristin, Gurney, Ander, and Tristin's men set out for the city of Aquataine. They arrive without incident on the 21st. Tristin rides first to the city to set up residence in the family townhouse there. His father has told him that Sir Rothchilde, an old campaigning buddy of his, is expecting Tristin at Red Orchard Manor, one of his father's vast holdings, and that it has been made ready for his stay.

Marik has made ready as best he can, though he is still undecided about the topic of his speech. He too sets out for Aquataine during this time, and by chance arrives at the city on the 21st. The roads leading into the city are jammed with people. Marik waits in line. He is bitter about the nobles who ride on past without waiting in line. Ahead of him in line is a dwarven man. The two strike up a conversation. Grom says he is a warrior from a city in the Barrier Peaks. He is here to look for help at the Mage Convention against a Horror that is killing his town. He says that the children born to the city have all been horrific monstrousities or stillborn. Nothing the cities wizards have done has been effective, and after a decade or more of this, the cities population is rapidly dwindling from both flight and from a lack of re-population.

Marik is aghast at this horrible story, and tells Grom that he will do what he can at the Convention to get help. Marik suddenly sees Tristin and his entourage riding by, past the milling crowds. He decides to refrain from saying anything. However, Britta smells him in the crowd and approaches him. Ander spots him. Marik and Grom join Tristin in entering the city.

Tristin offers Marik and Grom lodging in his townhouse, they accept. Marik goes to check in at the College and he sees the Theran Mage he met in the city of Vale. The mage had disappeared while battling the Horror Giftbringer along side the party. The mage remembers Marik, and after making some hurried excuse, he runs off. Marik checks in at the College, then heads to Tristin's and begins to prepare his speech.

The party settles in at the Laaw townhouse. The chamberlain is Sir Romero, an unctous and obsequiese host. Tristin likes him immediatly.

Chapter Two: Echoes of the Past

November 22
Tristin discovers that Lady Vonda is in town, and arranges to meet her. Ander meets a comely kitchen girl and winds up in a cook-off with her boss. Ander doesn't get too sick, and the duel is called a tie. Later, Ander meets Aeluin, a partying Sea Mage elf from Zakhara who is here for the convention. Everyone likes him immediatly.

Tristin has a run-in with his arch-rival, the son of Count Waterdeep, and several of his cronies. The boy makes several cutting remarks to which Tristin has no replies. He and his gang of noble rakes move on before they are offered violence by the party. Tristin is reminded of his younger days when he was the butt of many jokes and cruel tricks.

Tristin and some of the others, including Marik who should be working on his speech, decide to head out to Red Orchard Manor. It is a reasonably short trip of an hour or so on horseback. As the party gets to the village near the manor, they see a freshly burned farmhouse. The party bypasses the village and heads to the manor.

Sir Rothchilde is glad they have come and insists they stay for dinner. The party is tired after its ride and curious about the burned down house; they decide to stay the night. Rothchilde tells them that the Colstons place was burned because of some superstitious nonsense the villagers cooked up. Dereck Colston was a Woodsman. He died of a mysterious illness a few days ago. Soon after his family died too. The villagers worked themselves into a frenzy and burned the place down, refusing to bury the bodies.

Rothchilde tells the party that the woodsman babbled something about some ruins before he died of a horrible fever, but the only ruins around here are a half days travel into the woods. They date back a long time, perhaps even several thousand years, but they have been investigated may times, over the years, even by Sir Rothechilde and Trisitn's father as youths, and nothing has ever come of it. The party insists on seeing these ruins, and Rothchilde agrees to take them out tommorrow.

November 23
The party rides out into the woods to see the ruins. What they find there shocks them. A greyish-green moss covers an area for several dozen feet in every direction from the ancient ruins. The trees are festooned with creepers and web-like moss. The small pond is choked with strange decaying algae. Partly immeresed in the bed of moss, the party can make out the form of a dead cow, its flesh and bones decaying. The party decides to investigate. As they approach the ruins they see a huge pile of compost-like material spread on the floor. It seems to be made up of both decaying plant and animal matter. The party spots a human-looking skull in the pile. They decide enough is enough, and that they better get some help. As they turn to leave, a ghastly form erupts from the pile of vegetation. It is a huge bear, corrupted and infected by this place. Its eyes are mad and dirty foam drips from its mouth. It lunges to the attack!

The party defeats the bear after an exausting battle. Several people are wounded including Marik and Sir Rothchilde. They are brought back to the house and village healer is sent for. Marik feels fine, but Sir Rothchilde's condition has gone from bad to worse in the short time it took to return to the house. The healer is not available, but his wife arrives and does what she can for the knight. The healer's wife tells the party that the symptoms seem the same as the woodsman's.

Vonda shows up, accepting Tristin's standing invitation. Dinner is arranged.

Rothchilde vanishes by evening. The party goes in search of him. They head to the ruins. Vonda unhappy that Tristin is AWOL for their dinner.

November 24
The party arrives at the ruins. Sir Rothchilde is there feverish and delirious. They attempt talk him into returning with them. He suddenly explodes from the inside, and a horrible creature is revealed: an Invae! The party destroys the loathsome creature at last.

The party heads for the manor. They decide to investigate the woodsmans grave, they find it open, and the body missing. They suspect another Invae on the loose. The constable from the village arrives at the manor looking worried. The healer's wife is missing. The party suspects more Invae. They decide to check out the healer's home. They find another Invae there, hiding upstairs. No sign of the wife or healer.

The party decides to send for help to the city, but before they are able, two Invae assault the manor and take Vonda.

The party gives chase to the ruins.

November 25
The party arrives at the ruins just after midnight. Vonda is in the pile of refuse with a cocoon around her. The two Invae fight to the death to protect the cocoon, but fail. The party retuens to the manor with Vonda, who is still unconscious and unresponsive.

Marik and Aeluin determine that an astral parasite of some sort is attached to Vonda. They also determine that Marik and the constable have both been infected by the corruption near the ruins. Both are healed before they can transform into Invae.

The astral parasite is the Invae Queen. She is weak and immature, having been held for several thousand years in stasis until recently. The spells containing her finally wore out and she was free, though weak. Her presence begin corrupting astral space near the ruins, and finally real-space, until the woodsman was infected by her presence, starting the chain-of-events leading to the party's present predicament.

The Queen is able to attack Marik and Aeluin when they investigate her, and a battle of the minds ensues. Marik and Aeluin are not up to the challenge, and after numerous tries are finally defeated and knocked out. The Queen isn't able to deliver the coup-de-grace in her weakened state, but remains attached to Vonda's pattern.

The party decides to send for the Theren Mage, Naal. Tristin rides to town to seek him out. While there, he is approched by a sinious and oily, rather androgynous, mage who claims to be able to help him with his problems. Tristin doesn't trust this person and refuses his help. He contacts Naal and appraises him of the problem. Naal agrees to help and leaves.

Naal arrives at the manor, along with his "apprentice", a voluptous and beautiful woman. The two quickly subdue the Horror and imprison it for later "study". They leave via magical fire chariot and head back to the city. The disgruntled party heads back by horse to meet Tristin in his townhouse.

Word is sent to Tristin's father about the events at the manor.

November 26
Tonight is the opening dinner for the magic convention. Marik is hanging around the college when a powerful mage named Tim arrives. Everyone seems to know this man, and he seems to know everyone of any importance. He seems impetious, imperious, and dangerous to the general populace in the extreme. He sends for Marik to sit with him at the dinner. Marik's social worth increases drastically in the eyes of his peers. Tim tells Marik that it was he that arranged for him to be the keynote speaker at the convention. Marik is confused, but Tim explains that Marik is to be the chronicler of the coming Age. Tim wants him to prepare himself, buckle down on his studies, and rise in power and station. He tells Marik that his child is going to need protection, and that that protection will be provided. Tim and his brethren will come for the child when it is old enough, in the mean time, Marik must prepare himself to defend the child against the dark forces that wish the child dead.

Meanwhle, rumours are flying around town of a foreigner in town, a secret envoy from an unknown land. The rest of the party is unable to learn more, save that the envoy is staying at the palace and that a strange ship is in the habour. Tristin, Ander, Gurney, and Drew head out to paint the town. They gamble, drink, wench, and drink some more. A good time is had by all.

November 27
The sounds of screaming awaken the party at the townhouse. It is Drew. The other guards tell Tristin that he has started having nightmares the past few nights. Drew remembers nothing of the dreams, but looks tired and haggard.

Tristin finds he has company in his bed this morning, a pretty woman named Catrina. She is sexy and sensous, almost feline. Tristin is a bit disconcerted, but manages to hide it. Romero asks him what he would like to do about the girl and Tristin tells him to "take care of it".

Tristin's morning duties are disturbed by Catrina's piercing tirade from outside. She is just picking herself off the pavement when Tristin looks down at her in the street, and she shakes her fist at him and vows vengeance. Romero is chastized for being a bit over-zealous.

Romero apologizes, but explains the bad situation it would be were Lady Vonda to discover his trist, as she is coming for dinner this evening.

Marik begins to scamble to get his speech ready. He asks for help from Tim, who gives him a good topic.

Dinner procedes without a hitch at the Townhouse.

Late that night, the screaming begins from the guard's quarters. Then more screaming from the guards. The party rushes to see what is wrong. Drew stands on his bed ripping the skin from his body, the other guards stand frozen with horror and revulsion. Drew is revealed as a Voprak!

Taken months ago on the road by a Voprak, Drew has begun to dream that he is not who he seems. Now the dreams have become reality, and the Voprak has emerged to slay again and take on the form of its victim.

A horrified party has to put Drew, or what they thought was Drew, down. Gurney has to lunge to protect Tristin from the Horror's attacks, drawing from a reserve no one knew he had. It is a saddened and wiser party that returns to a troubled and fitful sleep.

November 28-29
Preparations for the Winter court. Gurney explains he has to leave for a bit.

Marik attends the convention.

Chapter Three: Nemesis

November 30
Tonight the closing ceremonies of the Magic convention are to take place. Marik's speech is to be the final address. The speech goes over very well.

Marik joins the other party members for a night out on the town. They decide to do a little gambling in the seedier part of town. Tristin and Ander involve themselves in a high-stakes poker game. One of the men at the table accuses a member of the Zakharan embassy of cheating, and blades are drawn. The Zakharan proves to be most capable and fights suprisingly well for a merchant.

The party moves on after the fight. They have a run-in with a veiled woman and her entourage near the docks where the odd ship is moored. Tristin feels a flash of connection with the woman when their eyes meet.

December 1
Winter Court officially kicks off today with a huge ceremony of fealty at the palace. Tristin and Ander are most impressed with the Lion Throne, King Cimmerian Elendsa, and his Black Lion Guard. Tristin, along with the other Grand Dukes, re-affirm the loyalty and fealty of their houses to the throne.

The foreign envoy is also introduced. She is Lady Mara of the Unicorn clan from far C'hin. She is here to negotiate some trade agreements.

A ball to officially start the season is planned for this evening at the royal palace. Tristin invites Ander and Grom as his personal guard.

The party mingles. Tristin is approach by the Dutchess Geoff, the grand Dame of Aquatainian society. She tells him that invitations have been sent for her ball on the third. She coyly asks when his ball will be. Tristin realizes that the scheduling of the balls is a political and social battlefield, with each House seeking to outdo the others. Have your ball too early, and it is forgotten, too late, and your ideas might be stolen, and your ball a mere copy of another House's. Dutchess Geoff seems to realize Tristin's lack of experience in these matters and takes him under her wing for the time being.

During the festivities, Ander and Grom notice that the Zakharan man they saw last night in the gambling parlour is here disguised as a Zakharan guardsman. The party is suspicious. Word arrives that one of the Zakharan guards has been found dead, and that in all probablity an assassin is loose on the grounds.

The party follows the assassin, with Ander in wolf-form sniffing out his scent. The king and his guards fear it is an attack on his queen and rush to her aid, but it is a ruse to draw them from the real target: his only son and heir, the Prince. The party discovers the assassin in the gardens just as he has slashed the Prince's throat. Ander and Grom leap to the attack while Tristin attempts a miracle first aid attempt to delay the Prince's death.

The assassin proves a devastating opponent, and it is only good fortune that Ander, still in wolf-form, and Grom are able to stop him from escaping over the wall. They delay him long enough that guards arrive and pepper him with crossbow bolts, stopping him with the surety of death.

Ander leaves and returns in his clothing. Meanwhile the Prince has been removed to a safer place where the king's healer's can attempt to save him. Tristin was able to stave off death long enough for the boy to receive magickal aid. The dagger the assassin used is found to bear the mark of the House of the Midnight Sun, an organization of Holy Slayers from the south.

Tristin, when complimented on saving the Prince by the king, says he couldn't have done it without his friend Ander, totally ignoring the noble and largely single-handed efforts Grom put forth in stopping the assassin. Grom is speechless with indignation.

December 2
Tristin begins to make some hurried plans and decisions about his family's ball. Tristin buys Ander and Grom some finery so they can attend the upcoming balls. Tristin decides his ball will be the 15th, the Eve of the Dead. He begins making plans for a ghastly and ghoulish night of revelry at Red Orchard Manor.

Word is the Prince will be okay.

December 3
Gurney returns, close-mouthed about where he has been. He is a bit shocked at Tristin's decision to hold his ball on the 15th, as it is traditionally a time of worship. Tristin feels it just adds to the excitment.

The party attends the Duchess's ball. It is in a underwater motiff, with the front gates being the surface of the water and the further back in the estate one goes being the deeper in the sea one is. Colorful lights, costumes, and a touch of magick are used to pull this off.

Tristin and the rest of the party mingle. Ander receives some attention for the service he has done the king. He lacks the social graces, but his direct manner and pointed speech endear him to the nobles…for today.

Tristin wins the grand prize of the scavenger hunt, a Ring of Water-walking.

December 4-6
Romero insists that Tristin starts taking care of business as his father would and begins setting up meetings for Tristin with various petitioners. Tristin receives several offers of marriage, trade proposals, alliances, and various investment opportunities over the course of the month.

Tristin cancels all his meetings on the 5th so that he may go riding with the Lady Mara. He shows her the country-side. She tells him a little of her land. She proves an expert rider. They have an excellent time and she agrees to come to his ball on the 15th.

Ander begins receiving tutoring in reading and writing the Anuirean language.

December 7
Duke Avalon holds his ball. It is another costume ball, this time a faery court. A good time had by all. Tristin again runs into his rival. Rumours begin surfacing about the androgynous mage Tristin met before. It is said that he has been entertaining the younger nobles, especially the sons. Tristin and Ander are invited to the next excursion which will be the night of the 15th. Obviously they must decline.

December 8-9
More meetings and study. Duke Brettony's ball on the 9th.

Word returns from Tristin's father about the death of Sir Rothchilde. His father is saddened by the news but glad Tristin is well. The guard that carried the message mentions something strange. He tells Tristin that he saw Gurney on his way back from the Duke. Gurney either ignored or didn't hear his hails and kept on riding southward. The guard tells Tristin the name of the village he saw Gurney in. Tristin files it away as odd, and something to maybe investigate at a later date.

December 10-11
More of the same, Duke Caledon's ball the eve of the 11th. Tristin learns that many nobles plan not to attend his ball, thinking it in bad taste. He also learns that many youths plan on attending the mysterious mage's entertainments.

December 12-14
Duke Avanil on the 13th. Duchess Geoff makes a point of saying she will be at Tristin's ball on the 15th, she thinks it is delicious to flirt with tradition in this way. Tristin receives many acceptances to his party over the next few days.

December 15-16
The party rides out to Red Orchard Manor to make sure everything is in order. The mages and set-designers Tristin has hired have done a marvelous job. Combined with the already sinister reputation Red Orchard has earned in the last few weeks, it looks to be a truly scary evening.

Things start out well enough, and in the dark a game of Hide and Seek is played. Last one to be found winning the prize. Slowly people begin to dissappear. Soon the party is subjected to a horrific scene of massacre. Nobles, great and small, are dead throughout the grounds.

Something dark and evil stalks the halls, killing and maiming. The party is seperated early on and desperatly tries to stop the Horror from destroying the cream of Aquatainian society. One by one they too are killed.

They awaken the morning of the 16th, still in the positions and places of their deaths. The other nobles are leaving, congratulating Tristin on a fine time and a great party. Someone or something constructed an elaborate illusion for the party of the horrific evening. They are the only ones that remember it like it was, everyone else remembers only a typical and wonderful evening.

Marik takes his leave of the party and heads home.

December 17
Duke Ilien Holds his celebration.

December 18-19
Duke Galedon's ball the eve of the 19th.

December 20-22
Duchess Bissel's ball on the eve of the 22nd.

December 23-24
Duke Aragon on the 24th.

December 25-26
Duke Lyons on the 26th.

December 27
Marik arrives home. Aniki is glad to see him, and he is glad to be gone from the hectic pace and blithering nobility of the capital.

December 28-30
The final ball of the Winter Court is always on the 30th and is thrown by House Elendsa, the royal family. During the festivities, the King bestows many honors on Tristin and Ander. Ander's favorite is a gleaming gold suit of +2 scale mail with the likeness of a lion. Tristin receives an invitation to the Lion Knights of Aquataine, and several other Orders, as well as some extra lands and titles.

Tristin receives permission to wed Lady Vonda from the king.

On to Act III - Shadows Grasp

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