The Ghost Tower

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 I: The Ghost Tower

Chapter One: The Stage is Set

Marik: Late Autumn of 636
Marik has been studying at the greatest school of magick in the Seven Kingdoms: The College of Arcane Lore in Melderyn. He has been here only three short years, but already he has surpassed many who have been here longer. Indeed, it is only because of his innate ability that he was accepted. His father has little political influence and wealth. His father's friend Grimgroth, a wizard of the College of Upper Airs in Furundy, pulled the few strings he was able to, and earned Marik an interview. Marik's father has had to dig deep into his secret stash of treasure left over from his adventuring days with Grimgroth to pay for the school, practically spending it all, but feels the cost is worth it as his son isn't particularly strong or fast, nor skilled in arms. He dreams that Marik might someday continue his legacy as an Adventurer, if not as a warrior, than as a wizard.

Marik is working on his final thesis, a spell formula, to submit for graduation as a Sorcerer. Sorcerer is a journeyman level wizard, and is a title not without prestige. Once a student attains journyman he is expected to continue his education elsewhere to attain Socerer Adept, or mid-journeyman level. This is to foster versatility and the exchange of information. Once a practicioner attains master journeyman level, called Master Sorcerer or sometimes Wizard, it is almost certain that he can submit his master work to his original college to be accepted as a Master Wizard of that college. Beyond Master Wizard is the title of Archmage, far beyond the dreams of most practitioners of the Art. As his thesis, Marik is working on a spell he has entitled, "Marik's Marvelous Meteor". Contrary to his father's desires, Marik has spent the majority of his time in college attending frat parties and chasing women. Marik, pressed for time and desiring to be accepted as a journeyman so he can get a decent position in another college, buckles down the last few weeks of school and manages to create a halfway decent, if quirky, spell.

During a luncheon held for visiting wizards from other schools so they can meet prospective students, Marik meets Shiatan, a fire wizard from the Kandain War College of Magick. Shiatan tells Marik that he would make a fine addition to the teaching staff at the college and that there is a place for him there. After turning down a few offers of employment with some lesser nobles and one small town, Marik decides to accept Shiatan's offer and continue his education in Kanday.

Marik boards a ship and travels home to visit his family. He then meets with Shiatan and heads for Kanday.

Early Winter of 636 through late Summer of 637
Marik settles in at the War College. He meets headmistress Shalindra, two other Sorceresses named Aniki and Vonda, the cook Grimjack Ladlewielder, and the various other personages of the small college. He takes to his duties and studies, but is disappointed that there is so little to do here. He chaffs under the small size of the college and begins to rethink his decision.

Ander: Early Summer of 637
Love blossoms for Ander as he meets Britta, an apprentice to the local wise woman. They meet as she is picking flowers and herbs in a lower valley meadow of yellow flowers and tall grass. Ander is out hunting, getting away from the repression of the local rune priest and his dog who have been acting strangely in Ander's eyes. Ander's grandmother, the clan head of his tribe, also disapproves of the new priest, but Ander's older sister has fallen under his spell.

After a few days of meeting in the meadows and making love, Ander discovers he is being followed by the priest's dog, a strange and fell creature. Today it has already killed Britta's mistress in the upper valley under orders from the priest, and has orders to slay her as well. It attacks Britta in the clearing and Ander kills it with his knife in a daring struggle. The dog is a supernatural beast, an undead. It is the rune priest's familiar. Fearing the priest's revenge, he and Britta slip away to a nearby holy place, an ancient burial ground.

Ander heads to his village, a small settlement on the shores of the fjord, to warn his grandmother of the priest's treachery. On the way he is assaulted by the priest who has tracked him here in a rage over the death of his familiar. The priest exposes himself as a wormskull Horror, the Black Priest, and chases Ander away in fear. Ander returns to the burial site to retrieve Britta, but the Black Priest is there. The Horror casts a curse on Ander thinking to transform Ander into a wolf to make him its new bodyguard/familiar, but Britta interferes with the spell and is transformed herself. However, unknown to Ander, some of the spell backlashes onto him and unlocks his latent werewolf powers. Ander fires his grandmother's bow, an elven heartbow gained by his grandmother from her adventures with the Faerie, at Black Priest and slays it with a single shot. When he looks at the body he finds that it is just a mass of wriggling, slimy gray grubs which burrow away into the forest floor.

He takes Britta to her mistress, the old wise woman in the upper valley, so she can remove the curse, only to find that she is dead. On his way back to his village he sees smoke rising from a large fire. Fearing the worst he runs home, only to find it a smoldering wreck, burned and pillaged by neighboring Vikings, lead here by the machinations of the horror. The village has been caught unawares due to the influence of Black Priest, and has been slaughtered. His younger sister, a child, lies dead at the gates. Already grief stricken, Ander comes upon two maddened warriors, driven into a killing lust from the influence of the Horror, who are raping his dying older sister.

Finding that he too is capable of rage, he flies into a berserk killing frenzy and slays the two more experienced warriors.

Gathering his gear and taking Britta with him, he decides to head south to Anuire to seek a cure for her. Anuire is known to him as the Shattered Kingdoms, one of which is Melderyn, the wizard city. It is there he thinks he will find magical aid to Britta's curse.

Late Summer of 637
Ander has found his way south through the treacherous passes of the mountains bordering Ivania and Anuire, and enters Furyundy, its northernmost kingdom. During his travels he meets a kindly wizard named Grimgroth who offers to check his and Britta's situation out. Ander accedes and rides in Grimgroth's carriage south into the kingdom of Aquataine, grandest of the Seven Kingdoms. Grimgroth lives on the southern coast in a small village near the city of Opal. There he has an old, crumbling, derelict tower into which he has invested much time and power, where he hopes to affect a cure for the unfortunate lad and his pet.

Marik is distraught that he is to be left behind when some other students and masters head into the pass in the Barrier Peaks to repulse the incursions of the denizens of the Sea of Ash. This is the last straw as far as Marik is concerned and he decides an extended vacation home is in order. Shiatan sees an opportunity and asks Marik to oversee his ward, Aniki, as he does not want her joining the party heading into the passes just yet. Marik acquiesces to his request and heads for home, a small village near the city of Opal in the kingdom of Aquataine.

Chapter Two: The Ghost Tower

Early Autumn of 637
Ander and Grimgroth arrive in the small village after a quiet trip, as do Aniki and Marik. Marik considers staying on with Grimgroth as an apprentice journeyman so he can be closer to home. Marik strikes up a friendship with the younger, but bigger, Ivanian lad and his wolf companion, and invites him to meet his parents and siblings. Ander is discovered to have quite the hand at cooking, and begins to prepare lavish feasts.

Everyone in the village feels sorry for the boy after hearing his sad tall of woe and do what they can to make him comfortable. Marik shows Aniki and Ander the surrounding countryside, as well as his considerable magick powers.

The three companions ride about and explore. They visit Opal, the largest city Ander has ever seen. There they hear tales from some sailors that there is a ruin from before the Scourge nearby along the coast. Marik and the others decide to search it out. There they find a region of dense, impassable brush and rocks. Pushing through this bracken, they find an inhospitable stretch of beach and a rocky promontory on which are the remains of the foundation of an ancient tower. Finding that it is too late to head back through the woods, they decide to camp out.

Under the light of the full moon, the Ghost Tower enters this world.

The party sees an eight-sided tower take form, as new as the day it was built. Moonlight glimmers off the strange black rock, and highlights the arcane symbols carved into it. Suddenly they are visited by the spirit of the tower's owner, the Archmage Azar'rak'kar'uss. He tells them that the tower enters this realm only under the light of the full moon, and that soon it will fade back into dream. Before then, he desires the party to enter the tower and release his spirit from its bondage.

The party is moved by his plight and enters the tower. There, they find the tower's inhabitants have been cursed with eternal unlife by the Horror imprisioned here. They have become Undead. The zombies and minions attempt to block the party's passage to the Archmage's lab at the top of the tower. Fighting their way up a secret staircase, they arrive in the wizard's chambers to find that an ancient and powerful Horror has been cleverly trapped by Azar'rak'kar'uss, but that he too has been trapped, unable to complete the spell to finish the Horror.. Quickly improvising a spell to comprehend written languages, Marik reads a passage from the Archmage's grimore and finishes the spell of Banishment long held in abeyance. The Horror is destroyed and the mage's spirit is freed. Azar'rak'kar'uss tells the party to search in the foundations for the entrance to the lower catacombs of his tower where they will find recompense for their great and heroic deed. He than whisks them back to the shore where they awaken thinking the whole ordeal but a dream until they share their experiences the next day.

Searching the ruins turns up a door whose magickal seals they cannot penetrate. They decide to return to the village to get Grimgroth and his stone golem. A few days later they return and are able to enter the warded door. They find an extensive library and a small treasury, which they divvy up. Grimgroth is excited about finding the Archmage's diary and some other books, as well as maps of Arcallis from before the Breaking of the World. It is on one of these maps that Grimgroth discovers the location of the Caern that Azar'rak'kar'uss's daughter, a powerful wizardess in her own right, was last seen in. Reading the diary of the Archmage, Grimgroth has found out that she was bringing several powerful magickal items, treasure, and numerous written works to "the Necromancer". She had left just before the Horror's attack on her father's tower, and he held the Horror from following her, at the cost of himself and all his followers.

Desirous of locating this treasure trove of ancient history and wealth, Grimgroth decides to attempt an adventure into the Sea of Ash to locate the lost Fort of Jaewith. Thus begins the saga of The Once and Reborn King.

Interlude

Late Winter of 637
During their preparations to leave for the College, a border dispute erupts between Furyundy and Aquataine delaying their departure. Shiatan gives Aniki and Marik permission to remain where they are and receive tutalege under the auspices of Grimgroth. Marik begins using a powerful enchantment on himself that makes him persausive and irresistible. Aniki begins to fall in love with him, mostly due to the enchantment, but lacking confidence and self-worth of her own, feels inadequate and unworthy. Marik is not kind and she leaves. Marik and Ander give chase. They find her beset by brigands on the road. Marik and Ander rescue her. Marik has a change of heart and begins to cultivate Aniki's affection.

On to Act II: Fates Entwined

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