Fates Entwined

The Story of the Once and Reborn King

Book One: From Ashes of Empire

Part I: The Horn of Ancient Valor

Adventure One: The Gathering

Act II: Fates Entwined

Chapter One: The Dispossessed

Marik, Ander, Grimgroth, his Stone Golem (that's Mr. Golem, to you), Aniki, and Britta are in a small village below the pass leading through the mountains to the kingdoms of Caldor and Valon. They have been held up here for several days because of reports that a sudden storm has blocked the pass. They plan on making their way to the War College in Kanday, where Grimgroth hopes to interest Shiatan in the planned undertaking into the Sea of Ash. War between Aquataine and Furundy has decided their circuitous route, as well as delayed Aniki and Marik's return to the college.

February 20, 638
Last night a small caravan of three wagons arrived, lead by a young man and his manservant. This young lad is Tristin Laaw, son of the Duke of Laaw and his manservant is Gurney Hallack, swordmaster and veteran campaigner of more wars than would fit in two lifetimes if half his stories are to be believed. The caravan plans on pushing into the passes, snowstorm or not. From there Tristin's father wants him to head southeast to Caldor, but Tristin has not decided yet if he will follow his father's orders or instead head north into Valon, ancient seat of the High King and the Phoenix Throne.

The two parties decide to travel together as long as their routes are the same in the name of safety. Word is goblins are loose in the mountains. Gurney is distrustful of mages, but only here to offer his opinions to his young charge, not orders as this is supposed to be a learning experience for the boy. Together the two parties head into the snow laden passes.

Late in the afternoon, before making it into the actual pass, the party is attacked by a marauding pack of goblins. The goblins have only recently entered Arcallis from Faerie through a little known gate which opens only sporadically. Ambushed, the party fights valiantly, but looks to be overwhelmed by sheer numbers alone, when arrows fly from the woods taking the goblins by surprise. The goblins are driven off and the party meets its benefactor, the Elf Lord Elricson Lothloria. Elricson is unsure of his memory, having only recently awakened from a long sleep and decides travel with the party is best since the woods seem to be crawling with goblins.

Elricson finds that his mind is less jumbled and chaotic in the presense of Ander and Tristin. He feels more whole than he has in…he doesn't know how long. The time before meeting the caravan is a jumble of half remembered memories and dim recollections. For the first time in a long time his days begins to string together in sequence. Elricson feels particularly drawn to young Ander, and the two begin to strike up a friendship.

February 24
The party has spent the last few days slogging through the snowed-in pass. Several times it looked as if one or more wagons might be lost, not to mention horses and lives, in the deep snow and icy cold, but the party has managed to bring everyone through okay. Night is drawing near when they hear something in the distance. Soon the party begins to see spoor of something really big and probably really nasty in the area.

As darkness and the abomination draw closer, the party sees a comforting sight: a waystation. Soft firelight glows in the windows and a cheery curl of smoke rises from the chimney. The party hurries forward with the Horror close on their heels. Suddenly as if they had crossed a wall, the Horror breaks off its attack. The party feels safe and protected, strangely comforted considering the lumbering hulk that prowls at the edge of the warded area all night.

They discover that the waystation is in fact a small school of magick run by Mistress Selene. The Mistress has lead her students here to tap the elemental power of the mountains and escape the confines of civilization. She offers the party welcome and sanctuary as long as they like. Selene seems quite knowing and serene, almost suspiciously so.

The party decides that it will leave the next day and make a run for it. Selene offers no physical aid against the Horror, but does give the party information about it that could prove useful. She also offers Elricson some additional comfort and seems to know him, but is evasive when pressed. Elricson hears music for the first time in the wayhouse and it stirs deep emotions in him. Almost pain.

February 25
In the morning the party leaves Selene's sanctum trepidiciously, but there is no sign of the creature. With growing confidence they push on. Later in the day, just before noon, the creature attacks by throwing boulders down from a cliff while the party is negotiating a treacherous ravine. One of the wagons is almost lost, and while Marik and the guards deal with the wagon, Ander, Elricson, Gurney, and Tristin attack the creature. It is a horrible beast of immense strength and size, formed of rotting flesh and plant. A shambling mound of disease and putrification. The party meets and deals with the Horror in a satisfying manner, finally burning it to death.

February 26
By late afternoon the party arrives in the city of Aspen. After a routine search at the gate and paying the import taxes on the goods in the wagons, the party enters the city and takes accommodations at the Pineview Lodge.

Chapter Two: The Shield Bearer

Wulfgar has tracked a band of elves from the far shores of Ivania through Furyundy, Aquataine, and into Valon, finally ending up at the Barrier Peaks. The elves kidnapped his faternal twin brother and burned and destroyed his homestead. His feat of tracking is unparalled, as Elves move quickly and leave little track to tell the tale of their passing. Both he and the elves have come this far without alerting anyone of their presense, neither border patrols or homesteaders. For the last 300 miles Wulfgar has steadily lost ground to the mounted elves but he has never given up the chase. Now, he feels he is very close and that his chase is coming to an end in these very mountains. Before he can close with his quarry he is intercepted by a patrol of the Warders. The Warders are a para-military organization that guard against incursions from the Barrier Peaks. They are suberb trackers and rangers, and know the mountains they guard like their own homes.

The Warders insist on taking Wulfgar back to Aspen, the nearest settlement, to speak with the local leader of the Warders, Dressalar. They are worried that a Gate has opened in the mountains, and they want to close it down. Wulfgar is put up in the guard barracks while he waits for Dressalar's return.

Wulfgar goes to a tavern to enjoy the local brew and sees something strange in the streets. Something like tendrils with eyes snaking down into the sewers. He ignores it and heads on.

Meanwhile, the party has settled in and is enjoying the hospitality of the inn. They bathe, freshen up, and change into nicer clothes for a night on the town. While out, Ander meets Wulfgar, as another Ivanian is an uncommon sight this far inland and east. The two talk and discuss their goings on. Wulgar heads back to the barracks. Tristin and Gurney encounter a strange and disturbing creature in the streets and Gurney is almost pulled into the sewers by horrible tendril-like eyestalks. The party reports the problem to the watch and a massive search begins to ferret out the Horror.

Wulfgar's sleep is interrupted by the return of two drunken soldiers. Suddenly, one exposes itself as an Eyebeast and kills the other. Wulfgar is hard pressed to defend himself, but slays the horrific monster. Wulfgar joins the search for the creatures lair. All clues point to the sewers, and the party, along with its Warders and guards, head down.

February 27
It is after midnight when the party encounters several creatures composed of tendrils and eyes. It seems the creature exists as all its separate parts, and that it is able to be in many places at once. They follow the Eyebeast extrusions back to the main body in a large central sewer chamber. It is here they discover the monstrous creature's centralized area. They attack, along with guards in the area, and manage to drive it from this realm.

The Warder Dressalar thanks them in private and asks them not to reveal what has occurred for fear of a panic in the general populace. He then tells Wulfgar that he and a few other Warders will be heading into the mountains to close a Gate that has been causing problems, including the Eye-beast. He thinks this may be the Gate the elves are headed to. Wulfgar accepts, and the party decides to accompany him. Tristin decides to send the wagons, Grimgroth, and Aniki along ahead towards the city of Vale which lies on the northern border of the kingdom. He hopes that the party will be able to finish its business in the mountains and be able to catch up with them on the road. The party readies itself for the mountains.

February 28
The party leaves Aspen in the early morning. They travel along the north road for most of the morning than head east up into the Barrier Peaks. The Warders are very impressed with Wulfgar's tracking skills as they were only barely able to tell that a party of elves had ridden into the mountains, and Wulfgar was able to track them for close to a month! Wulfgar is proud of himself and considers joining the Warders someday. The Warders are efficient and capable, and provide the evening's supper and camp. Stories are told around the camp fire and Gurney begins training Ander and Tristin together.

February 29
The party presses further into the mountains. It is a hard day of travel, but the Warders know the ground and are able to make good time. Late in the afternoon the Warders discover the renegade elves holed-up in a box canyon. The elves are dug-in defensivly. They have set up a crossfire with elves stationed along the sides of the canyon. The party is not excited about the prospect of a direct assault and ask to parley with the elves. The elves accept, and the two sides meet and discuss terms.

The leader of the elves is Lord Tullas of the Silver Bole, a regal and powerful warrior. He claims that Wulfgar's father entered Faerie and stole away with one of Lord Tullas's slaves during a raid on his estates while he was away. Wulfgar thinks this might be true because his father always bragged about plundering his first wife from a strange and magical place that he could never find again. It has taken the elves some 25 plus years to decide to do anything about the affront, but that seems not to mitigate the crime in their eyes. The party leaves the decision to Wulfgar, but even he can see the fairness of it. Wulfgar is still unhappy about his brother being taken into Faerie so Lord Tullas offers him a challenge: enter Faerie with him and win a Forest Hunt to alleviate the debt owed him, lose and he must stay and serve himself. It happens that even Lord Tullas is impressed with Wulfgar's tracking skill, and desires him to be a slave in Faerie. Wulfgar accepts the challenge and makes ready to depart on the morrow when the Gate opens.

The rest of the party debates joining them, for Lord Tullas has offered them safe passage into his realm. However, the Gate only opens to this side on every full moon and time on the other side can be quirky to say the least. Marik decides that he will visit, but Ander and Tristin decide that they will move on. The Warders agree to wait one more cycle of the Gate to shut it down, giving those inside only one opportunity to re-enter Arcallis through this Doorway.

February 30
At noon the elves and the party assemble in front of the Gate. Even before Lord Tullas can open the Gate himself, it is flung wide from the other side and a multitude of goblins bursts forth. Reacting quickly the elves and party kill the first rows of onrushing goblins causing the back rows to pile up. A desperate struggle ensues as the defenders are driven back down the canyon. As quickly as it opened, the Gate closes, trapping most of the goblins on the other side. The elves, Warders, and party are able to make short work of the disorganized remnants. Few escape, and those that do will be hunted down by the efficient Warders. However, with the Gate closed and not scheduled to re-open until the next full moon, the party decides to cut its loses and move on. Wulfgar's brother decides to go with the elves of his own volition, since he was always a bit of a misfit on this side of the Veil. Lord Tullas tells Wulfgar and the party they can visit whenever they want, should they ever find a way over.

The elves and Warders begin a clean-up operation, scouring the mountains for the few goblins that escaped. The party with one of the Warders as a guide returns to Aspen.

March 1
Returning to Aspen down out of the mountains.

March 2
The party arrives on the road, and instead of returning to Aspen, sets out north towards Vale.

March 3 - March 8
The party has traveled almost a week when they finally overtake their compatriots on the wagons. A winter storm has closed the roads and the wagons are stuck in a small village a day or so travel outside the city. Winter winds howl outside the cheery warmth of the inn's common room.
Grimgroth has left word that he will meet the party in Kanday or sooner, something has come up. Also, one of Tristin's men, the young Drew, has met a willing lass and maybe her friend, and spends the night away.

Chapter Three: The Champion of Light

March 9 (The main party)
Still snowed in. Drew missing, assumed to be with a woman, maybe two.
(Queron and the Crew from the Fairewind)
Queron has been traveling weeks from the southern coast of Aquitian to recover his Mistress. He is a young man, hardly more than a boy, but he already has the admiration and loyalty of the crew of his Lady Fairchilde's ship. The journey here has been arduous and several crew have been killed making the trip. Now it is only Queron, the Captain, the bosun's mate Scurvy Dan, and 5 other crew member's. Lady Fairchilde was taken by brigands while completing business inland in the Kingdom of Valon. A ransom note was delivered to the ship and it has been months since any have seen the Lady. The note said to come to Vale in Valon and go to the nearby village where they would be contacted.
It is late at night and the crew are close to Vale. Though there is deep snow, they have no horses or wagons and are able to travel. They are anxious to arrive as soon as possible and have pushed on past the last village though it was late and the villagers warned them of foul creatures roaming the night. Now it is late, dark, and very scary. They come to a crossroads where they follow the roadsign leading to Vale. Little do they know the sign has been tampered with. Tonight terror stalks the woods.

They travel the road as it dwindles to a track, then to a cart path, then a foot path. Finally the trail leads them to a frozen clearing. In the clearing is a ghastly sight. Two human bodies intertwined and stripped bare of flesh, skinned as it were. The bodies seem to be joined together by a twisting of muscles and bone. Blood soaks the ground and it is obvious from the tortured grimaces that the victims were alive while the skinning and joining took place. The crew of the Fairewind are driven to the limits of their sanity with horror and flee the clearing, scattering in all directions. Queron and the Captain retain their wits and try to round up their crew, but 2 are lost in the night woods.

March 10 (Queron and the Crew from the Fairewind)
Queron leads the group back towards the road from the deep woods. It is almost dawn as they come back to the crossroads. There they hear the merry chiming of bells attached to the harness and wagon of a peddler on his way to Vale with his wares. The peddler immediately sets Queron on edge as there is something sinister about him, though he smiles enough. The man is gangly with long skinny arms and legs, and a fat body. His smile is almost too broad, as though his mouth holds too many teeth and his eyes are small and calculating. Still, the group is haggard and fatigued, and they accept a ride from the odd man. He talks cheerily of establishing a shop in the city and insists they come and visit him when he has. The group arrives in Vale early in the morning. They settle into an inn and try to recover from their harrowing adventure.

(The Main Party)
Riders arrive from the city, the roads are open! Drew is nowhere to be found, it has been a couple of days since he has been seen. A search for him at the woman's place turns up a bloody trail. Drew is found bloody and battered in the woods. He has no memory of the last few days. He is arrested, but Tristin vouches for him and pays a bribe. The village beadle is unhappy about releasing Drew, but Tristin's status (and silver) overrides his concerns. The party leaves for Vale.
After a brief travel through some woods the party arrives in the vicinity of the city in the late afternoon. They enter the city, pay their tariffs and retire to the Rampant Grizzly. Drew seems a little off to the suspicious party and they question him heavily. He passes their scutiny and seems geniuely confused about the last several day's events.

Tristin's guards and teamsters make friends with the crew of the Fairewind over drinks and bring the harrowing tale of the last night to Gurney's attention, who then brings it to Tristin. Tristin meets with Queron and the Captain and finds out about their adventure to rescue their Lady. He is suspicious of the skinned bodies, and considers the possibility that they may belong to the women Drew was with, or worse, one may even be Drew!

March 11 (Both Parties)
The passes above the city are still blocked with the winter's snow and are not expected to clear for several weeks. The party makes plans for a long stay and arrange the rental of a townhouse villa compound. Tristin goes to lunch at an exclusive and high priced inn and sees an intriguing man. A tall, powerfully built man with heavy jowls who seems to be a connoisseur of wine and food. Asking the head waiter who the man is, Tristin learns of Baron Montrose, a local Lord. The story is that the Baron only recently inherited his title and wealth from the prior Baron Montrose who recently died. The new Baron was only adopted shortly before the prior Baron's death.
Queron, his crew, and Tristin's guards and teamsters spend the day using their streetwise to come up with the name of the Blue Note Cafe as a den of thieves.

Tristin rides to the village to investigate a bit further into the Drew thing. The beadle makes him suspicious and he determines to find out what is going on. He heads back to the city.

Ander and Elricson wander the city where they stumble on the newly opened shop of the peddler. They find the man as distrubing as Queron did and don't buy anything from him, though his items are beautiful and tempting.

Marik finds the local Wizard's Guild but is unable to enter as he cannot disern the magicks the tower is made of, not being an Earth mage.

Later that night, the party heads to the Blue Note Cafe to attempt to find out about the ransom for the Lady Fairchilde. They have a brush with the Horror Fla Tra Lys as the performer for the night, TronLa, is Horror Marked. A strange dissanance comes from the instrument of the musican and terror fills the bar. Tristin tries to get streetwise, and get information from the patrons and employees. He receives a sapping for his trouble as these thieves think to ransom him back to his father for a fortune. Things go from bad to worse as a brawl erupts. The city guards bust in and arrest everyone at this point.

In the city jail, Tristin is released and pays the bail of his compatriots. The musician TronLa mysteriously vanishes from his cell, leaving only a set of pipes behind. The party is mightily tempted to blow them, but refrain, leaving them with the local Wizard's Guild to deal with. The party finds out that the local crime boss is called the Optimist, and that some brigands have been operating in the area, but the guards haven't found either.

March 12
The party rides out to the village. The party talks to the beadle trying to intimidate him. He seems unperturbed and the party leaves but they are suspicious. Ander and Elricson head back to the village. It turns out the beadle was intimidated and he has skulked off to warn the bandits about the party. Ander and Elricson try to follow the beadle out into the woods but get lost. They continue searching and find the beadle talking with some brigands. Ander and Elricson track the brigands to their hidden camp in some castle ruins nearby.
Tristin meets Sir Celenod on the road to the village while returning to Vale. Sir Celenod is a young knight of an ancient order of Valón Knights. Sir Celenod agrees to help Tristin in his investigation.

Ander and Elricson return to the city but cannot find Tristin, they have missed him on the road to the village. They tell Queron of their discovery of the ruins. Preparations to assault the brigands in their camp are begun. Ander rides out to tell Tristin. Ander meets Celenod and Tristin coming back from the village and tells them of their expedition. Sir Celenod is outraged at the beadle's behavior and illicit activities and insists on punishing him. He and Tristin return to the village where Celenod deals out High Justice on the unfortunate after hearing his confession. Ander rides back to Vale to tell the war party where to meet.

The two groups meet in the woods near the cutoff to the castle. They head into the woods and approach the castle after a half-hour of travel. The assault on the brigand camp goes well and the party suffers minor casualties, losing only one of the Fairewind crew. The brigands have a bit of treasure as well as the spell books of their deceased warlock. The party finds out from one of the brigands about a secret passage in the castle dungeons that leads into a long tunnel which connects to the Optimist's base of operations.

March 13
It is after midnight when the party arrives under the castle of Baron Montose, the Optimist. They are attacked by undead hidden in the walls. Celenod uses his fanatic belief in the Light to drive the undead back, but not before Scurvy Dan and another crew member are drawn into the walls and killed. Scurvy Dan screams his vengeance on the party for leaving him to die as he is pulled into the moist earth.
Pushing on they find the real Baron Montrose a prisoner in the dungeon as well as the Lady Fairchilde. The Lady is weak and haggard from her ordeal. The real Baron has been presumed dead by the outside world. The Optimist used him to be declared heir apparent to the old man's lands and titles, then staged the old man's death. He is still alive because he hasn't yet told the Optimist the secret location of his treasure vaults and the Optimist also wants to glean as much information about being a Baron as he can from the unfortunate.

The party is outraged at this and decides to head upstairs and open a can-o-whoopass on the unsuspecting Optimist and his cronies. This does not go well as the Optimist is expecting them, has several heavily armed and armored cronies, is a master swordsman the equal of Gurney, has recently began studying magic, and is an Undead Horror. Things go from bad to worse as the Optimist up-ends the party's can-o-whoopass onto them. The party is helped in their fight by the plucky Erronemous Foxx, a young independent thief who has broken into the manor to help himself to some precious objects. The party fights a retreating battle back into the dungeons using fire magick from Marik to cover their escape. This fire burns out of control and the Optimist is seen to go down under a roof collapse.

The party frees the Lady Fairchilde but cannot rescue the real Baron Montrose from his cell. The party flees down the tunnel back to the ruined castle.

The party returns to the city and their villa to recover.

March 14
Fearing reprisals from the Guild, the party enlists the aid of the city guards to attempt to break the rest of the Guild. The Blue Note Cafe is surrounded by guards and a raid ensues. The guards find enough evidence to link Montrose with the Optimist and the party is successful.

On to Act III: The Price of Business

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