PREVIOUSLY: Having narrowly escaped an altercation with the priests of Razmir, the heroes commence an investigation of their own into the Razmirans and the Rangers Lament. Eventually, the heroes discover that someone else is also watching the tavern, and the heroes rush to capture the would be spy. Unfortunately, the heroes lose the fleeing man, the result of which poses more questions than answers. Eventually, the heroes return to their inn for the night, and upon rising, they learn that the council has made a decision regarding Kassen’s plea for help. After a trip through Tamran, the heroes arrive at The Forest Bounty, a feast hall at the edge of town as per the instructions from the Tamran Council. Upon arrival, the heroes are greetings by a tall, sturdy man named Reginar who directs them to Aromina whom has come personally to deliver the news. Unfortunately, the news Aromina delivers is devastating – the Mayor of Kassen’s requests for assistance has been denied. However, Aromina suggests another course of action which may lead the council to change their minds. Aromina sheds light on the happenings of the Church of Razmir and her concerns in regards to their activities. She implores them to help her with an investigation into the church’s doings by infiltrating the church. Kal bluntly refuses, whilst the others agree. Aromina says that she may be able to find another recruit to assist which may require some more delicate negotiations…
EVENTS: Armomina provides the group with directions back to the Gar’s Last Meal as the location of the person she believes could take Kal’s place during their infiltration of the Razmir Church. Armomina asks that if they are able, to return to her within the week to report their findings, and if not, she will assume the worst.
As they arrive at the inn, the same inn that they had stayed at since arriving in Tamran, they are shocked to learn that the person Aromina suggested was none other than the elf that Evarl had clashed with only two days earlier.
The meeting went as expected, with Evarl and the elven woman, now known to be Delshandra Laetanlhûn, or “Shandy” (as both Evarl and Nell had nick-named her), trading verbal blows. Delshandra accepted the letter from Armonia which explained what was required. Delshandra accepted considering that the invitation was from her half sister. She further suggested that they utilise the assistance of a young man who had only arrived in Tamran that afternoon from Kassen, and had been asking questions about the group. Delshandra then went and fetched Zevan, who had travelled cross country after delivering the Wizard Aroth Mentinjek to Holgast in Kassen.
The heroes greet their long missed friend with open arms and quickly shared their experiences since they parted at Morrie’s Farm. As the afternoon began to turn towards night, Kal and Delshandra bid the others farewell, allowing Evarl, Nell, Sam and Zevan to make their way back to the Ranger’s Lament. The plan was that Kal and Delshandra would watch and await their signal.
Upon arrival, the group notice that the Ranger’s Lament was empty, save for Rolen Oggersmith who appeared to be cleaning the bar in preparation for some event, the smell of fine food hanging in the air. The group are greeted by the burly bartender, and are advised to take a seat and the ceremony will take place soon. Nell asks after Rolen’s offer of employment from the previous day, to which he replies in the affirmative, stating that she could start the following Moonday if she so desired.
As the late afternoon turned to dusk, several other people attended the Ranger’s Lament, including several villagers, a guardsman and a young disheveled man. Sam approached this young man, and casually asked him a number of questions. The man was rude, and clearly mentally disturbed. Sam left him to his own devices, and casually watched him from across the room.
Eve had planted herself in a corner of the room to get a better vantage point as had Zevan but in the opposing corner, to keep a watchful eye on the door coming in and out of the back of the Ranger’s Lament. Nell remained with Sam, keeping note of the people who were arriving.
As night fell, Rolen closed the front door, latched it from the inside and begun setting the stage for the ceremony. Drapes were pulled, and several of the torches were snuffed out. A short time later, Evarl heard a knock on a door from somewhere in the back room, and Rolen quickly moved to the back to attend to whichever visitor had arrived. Whispering of voices could be heard from the rear, and Evarl caught a glimpse of some robed individuals standing around the kitchen area through the gap in the door as Rolen exited to continue his preparations.
As night-time engulfed Tamran, the group heard the chiming sounds of ceremonial cymbals. With that, the door to the rear room opened and several white robed acolytes entered the room spraying what appeared to be holy water and incense around the room in an attempt, Nell presumed, to ward of evil spirits and cleanse the room.
The Acolytes were shortly after followed by 2 grey robed priests who chanted a prayer in an ancient tongue unrecognisable to the others. Finally, a black robed priest entered the room in complete silence, and moved towards the podium at the front of the inn. The acolytes helped the priest to the stage. The group noted that the acolytes and priests appeared to have all of the exits covered, and that it would be difficult to escape. Suddenly, there was an overwhelming silence.
After stepping up onto the stage, the figure in the black robes turns to the audience, his face hidden behind an iron mask. With a strong voice, he calls out, “You have come here to seek the power and glory of Razmir, and I am here to tell you that he has found you worthy!”
At that, all of the other priests chant in one voice, “All praise the Living God!”
“He is proud of you,” the black-robed figure continues, “for taking this, the first of 31 steps to enlightenment, the path of righteousness, the stairs to power and glory. Razmir is the one true god. What other god so richly rewards those who follow him? What other god lives among his people, guiding them with his wisdom and his might? What other god can lead you to true salvation? None of them! Only Razmir can offer you the power, the fortune, and the glory that you desire. Will you join him?”
The black robed priest then folded his arms and waited for an answer. Many in the room yelled praises or affirmed their willingness to give themselves to Razmir. Nell, Sam and Zevan all pledged themselves, whilst Evarl was more reluctant. The lead priest then publicly questioned the young elf further until she at least agreed to hear what the priest had to say.
The priest then continued a sermon, preaching to the people in attendance, and finally offering food and drink to solidify Razmir’s offering of charity to the people of Tamran. With that, Rolen and another of the priests appeared from the rear room. Eve however noted that by her count, there was one larger priest who had not yet appeared. This made her more wary.
Eventually all patrons were served food, and all of the heroes bar Evarl and Nell appeared to take part. Evarl refused to eat completely, whilst Nell pretended to consume, moving much of the food that was on her plate to Sam’s who she believed would be less affected if the food was poisoned.
It was not long before the effects of the food took hold. Several of the villagers were the first to collapse, followed soon after by the young disturbed man, then Sam and Zevan. Nell faked her collapse, hoping that she would be able to remain conscious and see what they would do with them. Evarl defied the request for the priest to eat. Evarl noted all the people asleep and then confronted the lead priest. Evarl thought trickery would be the best employ, and so stated that he was interested in the “tricks” that the “church” was employing, and wanted to join for that reason, not a sense of honour to Razmir. It was clear that the priest would be unable to convince the elf, so instead he threatened the life of his friend Nell, in an attempt to force him to eat. The elf refused, telling the priest to kill the red haired woman as she meant nothing to him. Evarl was clearly hoping that the bluff would work against the clearly more experienced priest. Nell felt the blade at the base of her skull, but remained still. Evarl could not bear to be responsible for his friend’s death – it was going to be a battle of wills – and battle that Evarl was sure to lose. Evarl raised his hands, allowing the priest this victory. Evarl then saw some of the priests moving the unconscious bodies into the back room. No wishing to be knocked unconscious, Evarl convinced the priest to hoodwink him instead. With that, the large burly priest exited from the back of the inn, and placed a sack over Evarl’s head.
The patrons, including Evarl, Nell, Sam and Zevan were taken down into an underground tunnel and placed in a group of underground cells. Where they were, was anyone’s guess, but Nell, who was still successfully faking being unconscious, believed them to be directly under the Temple of Razmir…
PREVIOUSLY: The heroes came face to face with more of the Undead horde which had somehow risen to take over Kassen’s tomb. They quickly dealt with the menace, and although battered and bruised, pressed on further into the tomb now is search of Zeven’s sister, a minor Cleric of Erastil, and friend of Kal. As the heroes descended into the bowls of the crypt, they found old text which lead them to an ancient magic fountain, blessed by the gods with healing powers. After a short rest, the heroes pushed on into a room smelling of death. Here, the heroes were set upon by ravenous zombies which exploded upon their destruction. Having dealt with this further menace, it was further discovered that the crypt appeared to have been at least visited by mercenaries as well as the villagers. For what purpose was unknown and perhaps there was more going on, that initially first thought. For now though, it was time to rescue the kidnapped Cleric…
Having cleaned themselves as best they could after dealing with the risen mercenaries, the heroes opened another door which lead south. Inside the room was a elongated pool filled with what appeared to be fetid water. Eve was the first to enter the room along with Zevan. Bother Zevna dna Eve felt almost compelled to look in the water, and although Zevan resisted, Eve could not. As she looked into the pool, she was confronted with a haunting vision of her aging and all of her friends dying around her as she gradually turned against them. This realisation hit Eve to the core, and the elf fled the room screaming.
Kal followed after her in order to calm her down.Nell and Sam meanwhile entered the room to follow Zevan. Both Sam and Nell also felt compelled to look into the water, however apart from feeling uneasy, they were no worse for ware. At the end of the room, a heavy steel portcullis blocked their entry to the next room. Nell peered through, using her staff as a light source to get a better look. The next room appeared to be similar to that of the room to the north where they had encountered zombies. The room was also the nesting place for a colony of bats. The bats immediately flew into a rage and attacked the heroes by swooping in and out of the room.
Zevan and Sam took cover under their cloaks which appeared to protect they, whilst Nell was exposed to the bats fury which in turn caused severe scratches and distracted her ability to cast spells for a short time. Eventually, Nell was able to get into a position where she could cast her burning hands spell which quickly eliminated the threat.
With only minor injuries sustained, the heroes learned that the portcullis could not be lifted and so blocked their advance. The heroes then returned to to the riddle stone at the cross roads they encountered earlier, only to find a now calm Eve speaking with Kal. Upon examination, it was found to say:
To the south you might take your ease,
To rest and reflect on Kassen’s deeds.
To the east lies the wheel, to open the gate.
To the west is the Hero of Fangwood’s resting place.
Realising that the opposite direction lead to a wheel of sorts, the heroes moved down the water logged corridor and discovered a room filled with an azure coloured fungus. Zevan explained that the fungus had, as part of its properties, the ability to let off a static charge if disturbed. Hoping to avoid the fungus, the group made their way into another room with doors that were water-logged and closed shut.
Inside however, the group were attacked by a giant frog. Nell was the first at he door, and therefore the first on the frog’s menu. During the battle, Nell was swallowed whole. Sam quickly moved forward, and with a few deathly blows, the frog lay dead, and Nell was able to be rescued. As Sam quickly knelt down to check upon Nell’s welfare, two more frogs, appeared out of the undergrowth, hunger clearly in their eyes…
PREVIOUSLY: The heroes continued their journey of discovery as they moved deeper into the crypt, in search of the cause of the restless undead. During their journey, a mystery is presented in the form of an ancient mural depicting Kassen and the battle with the mercenary army. Meanwhile a new threat looms as the heroes come face to face with more minions who have risen from death…
The heroes enter the room having dealt with the spinning arrow trap. Sam is first into the room while the wiser Kal cautions the others to wait for a signal. Eve peered through the darkness and saw what Sam had come face to face with – skeletons covered in sickly, thick blood.
The skeletons soon after charged the young warrior, however he was ready. Positioning himself, Sam quickly commenced dispatching the foul beings. Nell sent forth several magic missiles to soften the creatures up, whilst Zevan and Eve fired arrows, both failing the see the blunted arrows surrounding them on the floor from the arrow trap. Zevan soon realised the folly of his bow, and charged in, his newly acquired magic sword at the ready. Sam collapsed from the wounds suffered, however Kal was about to provide a much needed spell to bring him back from the brink of death once more.
It was not long before all 5 of the creatures were vanquished, with only few party members suffering minor wounds. Kal identified the creatures as having a stronger connection with their undeath, explaining to the others that if they were not dealt with, they would soon rise to seek further revenge. Kal trusted in Erastil’s wisdom, and a burst of positive energy shot forth, turning the skeletons to dust. The heroes examined the room and found further carvings on the walls depicting a great battle, and further down, mourners who appear to be weeping for the loss of their Hero Kassen.
The party, slightly battered, and running low on spells, considered their options. Kal and Zevan pointed out that Zevan’s sister was still missing, and that they must press on. The party quietly moved down the set of stairs at the end of the room, its decent protected by a pair of statues standing solemn on either side. The stairs lead to a circular room with three passageways veering off in easterly, southerly, and westerly directions. From the east, the sound of running water could be heard along with a musty swell of mildew covered furnishing. From the south, a soft bubbling sound along with a softer light. To the west, there was no mistaking the foul smell of death and decay.
Also in the centre of the circular room stood a pedestal, surrounded on the floor by a verse covered in dust and blood. The heroes examined the carvings and found them to be in common. The inscriptions said, “To the south you might take your ease, to rest and reflect on Kassen’s deeds. To the east lies the wheel, to open the gate. To the west is the resting place of Kassen, hero of the Fangwood.”
It was decided to take heed of the wording presented and the heroes nervously made their way down the southern corridor. It was here that they located a fountain of sorts. Inscribed above it were the words, “Kassen’s legacy lives on with his people. Drink and be refreshed.” Sam was the first to try, and the wounds that he had suffered healed, and the debilitating loss of strength he suffered at the hands of the shadow, swept away. Each of the heroes took turn to cleanse from the fountain. Kal soon detected that the fountain was a holy sight. Eve confirmed that she had heard of this small temple dedicated to Kassen and of its healing powers. Kal further discovered that the magical energy was such that they could rest for a short period which would allow them a full night’s rest in only a short period.
With that, the heroes rested quietly contemplating what they had learned since arriving at the crypt.
A couple of hours later, the heroes, now refreshed continued their search. They made their way towards what they felt was the way to the main burial place of Kassen. The room they entered was not what they expected – a vast room of winding catacombs, each crypt space filled with the remains of what was once a noble warrior in the service of Kassen. However something else lurked in the shadows.
As the heroes entered the room, and begun making their way through, horrific undead humans, with bloated and diseased flesh stumbled from the darkness. The heroes barely managed to escape however Kal, with the assistance of Sam and Eve, battled through, and eliminated the zombie threat. Unfortunately it was too late to realise what sort of threat was being seen. As the zombies were dispatched, each exploded covering those around it in diseased filth and flesh. Sam managed to be covered in the goop, but was otherwise unaffected. Kal however was not so lucky, and started feeling the effects of the disease.
With the room cleared, the heroes were able to more closely examine the area. Each of the zombies were found to be wearing similar clothes to those worn by the body found days before near the lake, and each was also possession of small bags with the same embroidered masked face. Eve and Zevan pocketed the pouches which contained a handful of silver coins each. Nell however located the remains of a human torso, still carrying a backpack. Upon examination, Nell discovered it contained rotten rations, a map detailing the area surrounding Kassen’s Crypt as well as pointing out the entrance to the crypt, a potion labeled cure moderate wounds, a pouch with 13 gold pieces, and a small handbill of a type typically found posted in taverns. Although faded, the handbill clearly reads as a notice of employment, telling all those interested to meet at “The Ranger’s Lament”, a name which seemed unfamiliar to everyone. The heroes also discovered a closed door seemingly leading further into the crypt, and perhaps Kassen’s final resting place…
PREVIOUSLY: The heroes moved further into the crypt and discovered a survivor, Roldare Rodnal, a cobbler from Kassen. In a maddened state, he explained how the others were murdered by evil creatures who walked in the bones of ancient men, and who were lead by a creature who looked like a skeleton, with blue glowing eyes and a raspy voice. The heroes locked Roldare into the storeroom and moved further into the crypt, but not before Roldare explained that Zevan’s sister had been taken by an undead warrior. The heroes continued only to discover a dead end in one corridor, and a large collapsed stairwell in another. The stairwell had become a home of a large fire beetle, which was quickly dispatched, and another doorway lead further in. As the door was opened, the heroes discovered a room filled with not only smoke, but that of a shadowy ghost-like creature which was found to be the tortured spirit. After dealing with the creature, the heroes found the remains of a number of humans, a scorched and tarnished key lying by a fire-pit, and a sword which was clearly not from Kassen. Who else had come to the crypt, and why had the undead risen with such ferocity?
The heroes return to the room in which they first entered. Evarl tried the key that he had obtained earlier in the maze room, which surprisingly unlocked the previously secure western door. The heroes entered and found a room which had a still, but quite clear pool and two doors exiting the room to the south. Kal peered into the pool and observed a large number of keys resting at the bottom. Written in dwarven above the pool were the words: “Magic is the key."
Nell took this to mean that the something in the pool was magical, and immediately cast a detection spell. Unfortunately, the water blocked the nature of her detection. Meanwhile, Evarl tried the second key that he had found in the fire pit which unlocked the south-eastern door.
After checking the room thoroughly for further clues, the heroes entered the south-eastern door and found a room with a small stone bench at its centre. On the far wall, a faded mural depicting the hero Kassen himself was displayed showing him defeating the mercenaries at the entrance to the crypt, with his blade piercing the chest of the mercenary leader. These figures stand alone in the center of a scene of carnage, with dead villagers and mercenaries all around them. Sam was the first to sit at the seat and observe the mural which to him appears to move. Sam’s attention was drawn to a gold medallion of sorts hanging around the necks of both Kassan and the other leader. Sam points this out to the others, and it is Evarl who recognises them as being similar to that of a painting she had seen in the town hall recently. The painting, he claimed, depicted three people namely Kassen and two of his former companions, a man and an elven woman. Evarl went further stating that he also recognised the elf, but could recall where from.
The corridor continued south and after a bend, ended in a solid wooden door. The heroes carefully enter the room beyond and found a circular chamber, with a pit in the centre and two other doors on the western and southern walls. In the centre of the room was a pillar with multiple holes across its surface. A small bridge could also be seen leading from the south to to the pole.
As Evarl took the first step in, he failed to notice a pressure plate which activated a trap in the form of a round pole in the centre of the room. Suddenly, the pole starts firing arrows in every which direction around the room. Evarl took the brunt of the bolts, and dove to the floor in an attempt to avoid the arrows. In his eagerness to escape the missiles, Evarl mis-timed the jump, and was promptly hit by several arrows. Zevan leaped inside hoping to deactivate the pole. After a few harrowing moments, and much courage from the young elf, Evarl managed to deactivate the spinning pole, kicking it off its mounting, but not before falling victim to another arrow.
Bleeding from his own wounds, Zevan ran across the room to Evarl in order to stop the bleeding. The others soon after joined them and Kal used divine magic to cure Evarl’s wounds. After resting for a short time, the heroes examined the door to the south which they found to be unlocked. Sam stated that he would be the first through the door this time, and so proceeded within. As Sam took his first steps within the much larger room, he heard the familiar sound that he and his companions had heard earlier when they first arrived at the crypt – SKELETONS!
PREVIOUSLY: The heroes discovered a maze, filled with perilous traps, and an uncanny puzzle. It was discovered that the traps had been set for them as part of the initiation, however things had clearly not yet been finished. Their solving of the puzzle led them to a further corridor, and discovery of the waling moan they had heard earlier. Their curiosity lead them to find three doors at the end of each of three passages, the moaning coming from the most southern. The heroes soon learned that something lay in hiding as they attempted to enter the southern door, as the sound of a firing crossbow echoed through the halls…
The heroes moved further into the crypt and discovered a survivor, Roldare Rodnal, a cobbler from Kassen. In a maddened state, he explained how the “others” were murdered by evil creatures who walked in the bones of ancient men, and who were lead by a creature who looked like a skeleton, with blue glowing eyes and a raspy voice. The heroes locked Roldare into the storeroom and moved further in, but not before Roldare was able to explain that Zevan’s sister had been taken – alive!
The heroes continued back to where they initially came in through the stone doorway in order to go in the other direction. There, after several turns, they discovered a dead end, blocked by another stone door. The heroes then back tracked and followed the next unexplored passageway and came to an unlocked door.
Beyond the door was a larger room with two exits, the first of which appeared to be a large collapsed stairwell, whilst the other was a doorway the area of which smelt of smoke. As the heroes explored the room, they were set upon by a large fire beetle which had made the collapsed passageway its home. Zevan and Sam were the first of its targets, but the creature was quickly dispatched.
After finishing exploring the room, including establishing the fact that the collapsed passageway appeared to be a stairway of sorts which was impossible to navigate, the heroes opened the door to discovered a room filled with not only smoke. As they entered, they found a large fire-pit with the smell of charred bodies and leather goods heavy in the air. At this point, a shadowy ghost-like creature which was found to be the tortured spirit of one of the fallen Kassen townsfolk, attacked.
Unable to deal promptly with the incorporeal creature, it was Eve who caught site of a weapon in the fire. Eve moved around the pit, and grabbed the short sword with a cloth. As she attacked the creature with the weapon, she found that the sword somehow affected the creature. Zevan followed Evarl to get to a better position and discovered a burned key on the edge of the pit. As he grabbed the key, the creature turned its attention to him. Shortly after, with the assistance of Kal’s divine magic, the unholy creature was laid low.
After airing the room, the heroes found the remains of a number of humans. The key Evarl found was scorched and tarnished but clearly of the same design as the other key that they had found in one of the maze pits. The sword pulled from the fire by Zevan was identified by Kal as not being from Kassen and that its properties were magical. The heroes returned to Roldare, and then moved to the main room where they had first entered the crypt in order to contemplate their next move…
PREVIOUSLY: Having continued their journey through the Fangwood, the party happened upon the remains of a dead human, bitten by a serpent in a mysterious lake. The only clue to his identity was a pouch of Tamran coins, and a strange emblem sewn onto the pouch similar to that of the living god, Razmir. With yet another mystery to solve, the heroes continued further towards the crypt, where they were faced with the arduous task of scaling the cliffs of Serpent’s Gorge, only to then be forced to cross the river bearing the gorge’s name, in order to reach their destination – Kassen’s crypt. The heroes soon learned that something had gone wrong when the bodies of several horses were found dead outside of the crypt, and two villagers slain inside. As the heroes investigated, they were set upon by a gang of skeletons, with 4 of the 5 heroes falling in battle. As the last of the heroes was about to fall, a spirit, who appeared as a likeness of Kassen himself, and sent forth a wave of holy energy which destroyed the remaining undead. As the heroes recovered and rested for the night, a distant howl could be heard coming from deeper within the crypt…
After resting for the night, the heroes heal up thanks to Kal’s knowledge of divine magic and natural healing remedies. The heroes found 2 doors, one being to the west which was secured with a lock even too difficult for Evarl to pick, and another door to the east which was found to be unlocked. The door, once the bodies were removed, opened into a corridor of sorts with several passageways going off in different directions. Evarl was the first to enter to corridor, followed closely by Zevan. Just inside the entrance, the heroes found several brooms and a pile of empty saddlebags which appeared to have been left there by the townsfolk. Zevan recognised the leather-working of the local tanner on one of the bags, which confirmed this fact. Still in the distance, the heroes could hear a disembodied moaning.
Evarl decided to take the left passageway, whilst Zevan took the right in order to cover more ground. Evarl found a similar corridor leading to the east, with more corridors off of either side. Zevan discovered the same. Upon examination, Zevan discovered clawed and bloody tracks which appears to be coming backwards and forwards across the floor. Possibly distracted by the markings, Zevan failed to notice the trap door which activated as soon as he placed his boot firmly against the pressure plate. With quick reflexes, Zevan was able to grab a hold of the edge of the pit before plummeting to his death. Evarl quickly made her way to his position and as she reached out to grab his hand to help him up, she smirked. Due to the darkness Zevan could not see, but Evarl, with his elven vision was able to see that at the bottom of the pit, a series of pillows laid out at the bottom that would have broken his fall. Zevan, somewhat embarrassed by his panic, refused to be helped up, and instead made his own way back up to the dungeon floor. Evarl meanwhile advised the others of the trap, just as Kal located a lever on the wall of a side passageway. The activation of such, he decided, was best left with more “skilled” hands than his own.
After a careful examination of the area, with the use of Nell’s light spell, it was discovered that that the area was that of a maze, and that some of the floors were possibly trapped. This was later confirmed by Sam who was not quick enough and fell into a bed of pillows even after using the broom handled that the heroes found at the front door. At the bottom however, he found a small coin pouch with a single platinum piece, a key and a note. The note claimed:
Three to open, but be quick, for the door will only open for those who work together.
h6. The heroes deduce that the area must have a puzzle of sorts associated with it, and was part of the initiation. Evarl carefully activated the lever only to hear a distant clicking sound as though part of a mechanism has been triggered.
The heroes decided that the best course of action would be to identify the traps, as where there was two, there would be others. Whilst looking for traps, the heroes discover several traps and a total of three levers. Nell discovered a solid stone door in a southern alcove without any type of lock or handle. The group deduce that the levers may activate the door and so set about to plan a way through the traps to allow each person to be able to make their way to the door before it shut.
The plan was executed, and Sam used one of the broom handles to wedge open the door just as it was about to close, leaving a small gap for anyone to fit through. After running through the door however, the heroes were confronted with a further choice – a T-junction. Checking for the tracks, Zevan noticed that the clawed tracks continued in both direction, the most recent towards the East. This was also the direction of the moaning which abruptly stopped when the heroes began making their way down the corridor. Soon after, the moaning was replaced by whispering.
Another corridor led off to the west, whilst the corridor the heroes were on continued down to a closed door – a room where the whispering appeared to be emanating from. Whilst the other heroes prepared for what was in the room from a distance, Evarl stealthily made his way to the door. Closer examination showed signs of dried blood and claw marks. The door was solid, and appeared to be bulging as though something was behind it, forcing it closed.
Evarl tried the handle and found the door was not locked, and its mechanism recently damaged. As he prepared to open the door however, Evarl, and the other heroes, were surprised as the sound of a firing crossbow echoed through the halls…
PREVIOUSLY: Having discovered a further mystery involving the poisoning of honey samples, the heroes have now been chosen to retrieve the Everflame from Kassen’s Crypt, located deep in the forest. A chance encounter with a group of savage, yet illusory, Orcs confirmed the heroes’ beliefs that this trip was to be a test. It was not until an encounter in the middle of the night with a party of diseased wolves that the heroes soon learned that not everything they shall encounter will be as imaginary as the orcs…
Having rested for the night, the heroes set off in order to continue their journey towards Kassen’s Crypt. Storm clouds appeared on the horizon as they arrived in a large clearing while Zevan identified it as the Grey Lake. Several of the group noticed large ripples coming from the centre of the lake. The lake centre however was shrouded in a strange fog preventing them seeing what was on the other side. On the shore, Evarl, Nell and Zevan noticed a dark shape near the water’s edge. Thinking that perhaps it was a trap of some kind, they looked for a volunteer to snag whatever it was and drag it to them.
Sam was the most likely candidate given his skill in the use of the grappling hook. Sam approached and could see that it was in fact a humanoid body. He threw the grappling hook after attaching it to rope and connected with the shape on the first throw. Sam dragged the body closer, and as the others prepared for the worst, in that whatever was using the body as bait might come hurtling out of the water in order to kill them. Their concern however was in vein, as nothing appeared to attack them.
The body was identified by Kal as being human, but not a person from these parts. A search of the body’s belongings showed that it was in possession of a few coins containing in a well crafted pouch with a strange mask-like symbol. Evarl recognised the symbol, but could not place where she had see it previously. Kal however claimed that it was a stylised version of Razmir’s holy symbol. The coins were found to be Nirmathas minted gold, numbering 89 in total. Kal also identified that the body had large bite marks across its back. Zevan however was unable to identify the type of creature other than a serpent of some kind. Kal also identified that the body had been there for near 2 months, but the body for some reason was not as decayed as perhaps it should have been.
Kal determined that the individual should be laid to rest, and so rested the party to seek rocks in order to create a small burial mound. Evarl ventured closer to the edge and found a finely crafted short-sword near to where the body initially lay. Zevan however happened across what was left of a camp. Zevan deduced that the camp was for approximately 10 individuals and that they were all human due to the type of food and what remained of their tracks.
Kal conducted a small burial ceremony, after which, the group continued on with their journey.
A few hours later, it became clear that they had lost some time earlier after leaving Kassen, and by mid afternoon they had arrived at Serpent Gorge. Rain began to fall heavily as the light storm broke. The entrance to the Crypt was close-by, however the party was required to navigate the treacherous gorge to the river below. The party made their way down the gorge, after tying themselves together to prefer falling. Unfortunate, Kal lost his grip twice, and on each occasion caught he leg. On the initial fall, Kal became seriously injured, however was able to heal himself through the powers blessed to him by Erastil. The second time required only a minor spell to heal a torn ligament. After a few harrowing hours, the party made it to the bottom of the gorge, and soon after made their way carefully across the river. After a short rest, the party continued their journey up shore to the crypt, arriving in the early afternoon.
As the party approached the crypt, a number of large unmoving shapes could be seen near the front of the entrance. As they neared, Evarl and Zevan saw that the shapes were in actual fact 2 horses and 3 ponies. Upon inspection, each was found to be branded with the Mayor’s symbol indicating that the animals were indeed from Kassen. The bodies of the horses were still tied to their positions on posts which many years ago had been placed there to allow travellers to tie their horses up whilst they gave homage to the fallen hero Kassen. Kal found that each horse suffered horrendous injuries from either very old jagged swords, or perhaps claw marks of some sort. Under one of the horses, Zevan found a skeletal arm. Kal deduced that decomposition could not have caused this, and suspected that perhaps Undead were responsible. The party drew their weapons and discussed tactics.
The doors to the crypt were slightly ajar, although not enough for any of the party to slip through. It was therefore decided that Sam would pull open the doors with the help of Nell. The doors creaked open, and Evarl, who was the more stealthy of the party, slipped through the opening to peer inside.
Evarl could smell the reek of dust, mold and blood. The room was elongated with stairs leading up on either side to platforms which ran the length of the room. At the end, a large mural depicted a regal man who Evarl recognised as the pictures of Kassen he had seen hanging in the inn. Evarl stealthily made his way into the room noting the various piles of skeletal remains similar to those they found under the horse outside. Evarl also observed two bodies piled in the centre of the room. Further examination showed that the two men were wearing what appeared to be tool belts of some sort. Evarl also caught the distant sound of a haunted howl coming from what appeared to be the south-western door. This provided an eerie presence, placing the elf on guard.
Evarl was shortly followed by Kal who also noted the skeletal piles. Kal also identified the two men namely the carpenter and his apprentice that they he had only been looking for days earlier in Kassen. Kal approached and noted that their injuries were similar to those of the horses. Zevan was next in the room, and made his way to the eastern side of the room. Nell and Sam were last, and only had the chance to step into the room before seven of the skeletal piles animated revealing them to be undead. Each skeleton rose from its slumber, their emotionless features still portraying a sense of dread and fear, as they hurriedly made their way towards the party.
The battle was furious, and the skeletons soon overwhelmed the inexperienced youngsters. First, Evarl fell to the skeleton’s claws, then Kal, then Sam and finally Nell. The skeletons numbered only 2 by this stage, and all that stood in the way of the complete destruction of the youngsters was Zevan, who held his position in the north-eastern corner. Zevan knew that without a weapon that could damage the skeletons, such as a club or mace, that he was all but another victim to the skeleton’s wrath. Zevan braced himself for his life to fade away when a glow came from the far end of the room. A spiritual being which appeared similar to that of Kassen, the might hero that their home town had revered for so long, rose from the floor. Suddenly, the apparition spoke:
“With my last ounce of strength, I banish these evil creatures to the afterlife to be no more!”
With that, a burst of blue energy shot across the room, shattering the remaining skeletons, their bones instantly turning to ash. Zevan, bleeding from claw marks shielded his eyes from the dust which coated the room in a fine ash-like powder. When Zevan looked up, the spirit was gone, and the skeletons were no more.
Zevan, without concern for himself, made his way to Evarl who was the first to fall. He quickly stabilised her wounds. Zevan obtained the healing potion Evarl had been given prior to leaving for their journey here to the crypt, and made his way to Kal, who was also seriously injured. Zevan poured the potion into the half-orc’s mouth, and with a sputter, he regained consciousness. Zevan watched the cleric’s wounds heal, just before Kal gave a prayer to Erastil, and a similar energy burst forth from the young half-orc. The energy felt good, and Zevan realised that his friends had been healed. As the party regained consciousness, they decided to rest in the room overnight. Each party member helped move two of the bodies of the ponies and placed them against the two doors which lead from the chamber.
Zevan agreed to stay on watch for most of the evening, allowing the spell casters to rest. However as the party commenced their rest, they soon realised that it would be a difficult rest as the distant haunted howling still came from the door to the south-west…
PREVIOUSLY: A group of youngsters have discovered that a town logging operation is somehow connected to a curse which has befallen the surrounding forest. Hoping to prove themselves so they may be chosen in a forthcoming coming-of-age ceremony, the youngsters begin their investigation only to discover more questions than answers…
Having completed their daily chores and training, the group again meet up at a local watering hole on the banks of the Tourondel River. The group contemplate their next move and decided to go and investigate the logging camp. Whilst heading out of town towards the logging camp, just outside the gates, the group walked past what appeared to be a makeshift stall of sorts. Two men in formal clothes were examining bottles of a brown substance, their owners standing on the other side of the tables. The four individuals were made up of an elf that Zevan recognised as Elyin Ursage, a local bee-keeper; a man, an older woman and a halfling, all of whom were from out of town. Behind them stood a series of apiaries, and it soon became evident that the townsfolk were taking part in the initial stages of a honey judging ceremony.
The group overheard one judge mention to the other that the last sample they tasted was not as good as the last batch of honey produced by Tenzekil Braybittle. Eve recognised the name as that of a gnome beekeeper that had disappeared 2 years ago after losing the competition to Ursage. Some say that the gnome had a breakdown and fled into the forest, while others said he died of the ‘whitening’. The group stopped to ask what was going on, however they were soon asked to move on as this was serious business and not a place for youngsters.
The group continued on their way, and soon after moved into the forest to avoid detection as they approached the camp. As they began sneaking in, Sam, who was clearly new to the idea of remaining quiet, gave their position away. The group then saw Colbin, his major domo Grimscar, and a couple of other loggers, heading in their direction. Knowing their position was compromised, the group moved out of the forest and onto the roadway in order to confront the men. Eve was the most vocal, claiming that Colbin and his operation were destroying the village and we’re bringing forth a curse upon Kassen. Colbin laughed off the accusation, stating that the only proof they had was from a bunch of “brownies”, and a cluster of dying trees which was too far away from their logging operation to be their concern. Colbin, with the assistance of Grimscar, threatened the group and ordered them off his land. Colbin and his men brushed past the group as they headed into town.
The group discussed their options, and although Eve was clearly interested in sabotaging the logging operations, it was Kal who suggested a better course of action was to investigate further and gather more evidence. With that, the group headed back into town.
After entering through Kassen’s western gate, the group happened upon Mayor Uptal who was in deep conversation with Arnama. The group stopped and spoke with both of the village councillors, informing them of their encounter with the brownies and that the logging operation was, according to the brownies, the cause. The Mayor assured the group that he was doing all he could, and given the delicate nature of the situation, he requested that the elders handle the matter. With that, Arnama took Zevan aside and asked him to come with her. The group went back to their respective houses but not before planning to take matters into their own hands. Eve and Nell suggested getting all of the loggers drunk so that they couldn’t work in the morning. It was a short term solution, and Sam, and Kal dismissed the idea, claiming that their actions were likely to get them in trouble. By late afternoon, Sam made his way to the town gate tower for his shift, and Kal returned to the chapel for afternoon prayers. Eve and Nell however still thought that their plan had merit, and discussed their best option.
Their first, and final idea, was to steal some of the honey they saw earlier, and to use the most potent of it in a large barrel of mead. Their plan was to get the barrel back to the inn, hand it to the loggers as a peace offering, and then sitting back to watch the result.
With the plan hatched, Nell went off to buy the ale, whilst Eve spoke with Asina about what they wanted to do. As night fell, both Eve and Nell stealthily left the town through the front gate where Kir and Sam were stationed, gradually making their way to the bee apiaries they had seen earlier.
Upon arrival, Eve and Nell found that the tables and honey jars were covered. Upon inspection, Nell noticed that one of the jars was magical, and that it was jar belonging to Elyin Ursage. Nell grabbed the jar, broke the seal to taste it. It was highly bitter, and almost caused her stomach to turn. Nell instructed Eve to get an empty bottle, open one of the aviaries, and fill the jar with honey. That way they could swap the magical jar with the new one. Eve, clearly only knowing a little about the nature of bees, reached into the aviary to scoop the honey into the jar. Unfortunately her actions disturbed the bees, and she was swarmed by them. Eve ran from the scene screaming, and headed towards the river. Eventually, whilst being stung, she quickly jumped headfirst into the river, its cool water temporarily soothing the burning stings across her body. Sam and Kir heard the commotion, and yelled out if all was well. Nell responded that it was just her and Eve, and to go back to their duties. Nell quickly finished the job with the honey, replaced the lids, and ran back towards the town in possession of the honey.
Later, Eve arrived at the doorstep of the chapel, soaked from diving into the river, and with bee stings covering her arms and face. Kal answered the door, shook his head, and administered some divine healing to the injured elf.
Meanwhile Nell returned home with the bottle and asked her father to take a look. He said he would do so overnight and told her to quickly finish her chores and be off to bed. As she was preparing for bed, Moltus Vargidan, her adopted father, entered the room with the jar. Her father described in detail that the jar of honey was laced with a powerful magic poison, and explained that one dose would have been enough to kill several men.
During the night, each of the five friends received letters of invitation from the Kassen Council to be the one of the chosen to recover the Everflame from the Crypt of Kassen as part of the Coming of Winter Celebrations.
The group completed their daily chores, and at midday made their way, as instructed on the invitation, to the town square. All of the elder townsfolk were assembled upon their arrival, all dressed in ceremonial black garbs, as were many of the villagers who by this stage had filled the square. The Mayor introduced the five and handed each of them a backpack full of supplies, along with a series of additional equipment including the sacred lamp that would be used to bring a spark of the Everflame back to Kassen. After the ritual was read by the Mayor, the group was sent off, and soon after exited the southern gate towards the Crypt.
Around mid-afternoon, the group stopped to examine their belongings and their backpacks. In each backpack was a series of supplies including a map showing the direction to the Crypt of the Everflame. The group assembled the map, and plotted their course.
The journey was coming close to nightfall, when they came across a fallen log across a path. As they prepared to go over the log, they observed five orcs jump up from behind the log, and start charging towards the group. Sam was the first to fall, however it was not long before Eve realised that the orcs were illusions. It was difficult to convince the rest, but eventually everyone came to realise the folly of their ways. Eve heard a laugh in the distance, and noticed that it quickly moved away from their position. Kal also heard it and identified it as Holgast, the local Sage and Wizard. Clearly all of these would be tests of their mettle.
The group set up camp on a ridge, and organised watch for the night. During the evening, hungry and diseased wolves stalked the group from the safety of the shadows. Around midnight, they struck. The wolves however were quickly dispatched. Zevan identified that the wolves appeared malnourished and slighted affected by what appeared to be the same disease that was affecting the brownies. Eventually, everyone returned to sleep.
The rest of the night passed without incident, and although they started late, by mid-morning, the group returned to their journey toward the crypt…
PREVIOUSLY: Something is afoot in the Kassen logging camp. The heroes arrive to find a number of logs had broken free and toppled down onto the unexpected workers below. The heroes begin an investigation whilst helping the injured workers…
EVENTS: Kal and Sam made their way to the collapsed cabin and found that three workers were trapped underneath. Sam and Kal attempted to move a number of the logs, initially without success. As the workers screamed out for help, Sam managed to find the right position to lift two of the logs, whilst Kal recovered the men and set them aside after stabilizing their wounds.
Meanwhile Zevan and Nell made their way to where the logs had broken free from. There, Zevan began looking for tracks whilst Nell checked for any sign of magical tampering. Both found no signs of what they were looking for, with Zevan and Nell both discovering that the chains had broken through chemical means, although the chains themselves were weathered and clearly in need of repair.
From the tree tops, Content Not Found: evelyn-lanthaldar_ checked the surrounding area with her keen elven senses. It was then that she observed movement coming from the underbrush, as though something was moving through the trees away from the logged clearing. Content Not Found: evelyn-lanthaldar_ yelled out to Zevan, however Zevan could not see anything from his vantage point. Content Not Found: evelyn-lanthaldar_ also noticed that a fire was brewing at the bottom of the hill near where a pack of chemicals had been smashed open. Content Not Found: evelyn-lanthaldar_ quickly jumped down to alert the others, but fell clumsily upon her decent. Not something a rogue would have been proud of doing. Content Not Found: evelyn-lanthaldar_ limped towards Kal and Sam to advise them of what she had seen.
Kal and Sam in the meantime had pulled all of the three of the workers out of the collapsed cabin. As _Content Not Found: evelyn-lanthaldar approached, Kal noticed the young elf’s limp. Content Not Found: evelyn-lanthaldar brushed it off as nothing more than a sprained ankle, but Kal knew better. Kal channeled his divine energy and healed the injured elf along with the men they had just rescued.
Meanwhile, Nell and Zevan went into the undergrowth in search of what Content Not Found: evelyn-lanthaldar had seen. Their search however was fruitless, and whatever had fled the camp was well and truly gone. Nell also detected residual magic nearby, but could not identify its source. With little else to look for, Nell and Zevan made their way to the encampment where the remaining workers were hurriedly making repairs, and the Logging Guild leader, Colbin Vetnar, was barking orders.
Nell and Zevan were the first at the fire. Nell tried ordering the men to help put out the fire, but it was clear they fears Colbin more than they did her. Zevan instinctively grabbed a bucket and scooped water from a nearby trough. Zevan attempted to extinguish the flame alone, but without success. Nell tried again but was shouted down by Colbin, who ordered her off site.
Once the men were comfortable, Eve, Kal and Sam also made their way to the tent encampment where the fire was starting to spread. Sam assisted Zevan with the bucketing, whilst Eve, Nell and Kal attempted to reason with the Logging Guild Leader. It was clear that Colbin was not interested in what they had to say. Nell then created a flame in her hand and threatened some of the workers. This was enough to sway a couple of the men to assist. Colbin in the meantime appeared more worried about the loss of income, more than he was with the well-being of his men.
It was not long before the fire was put out. Meanwhile the Mayor and Zevan’s mentor Arnama Lastrid, a ranger of some renown, arrived at the scene along with a number of the town’s guard including the Captain of the Guard, Gregor Wisslo.
Zevan approached Arnama and explained what had occurred, and showed Arnama the broken chains. Arnama was quick to identify tracks, but could not readily identify what they were. She was able to determine that the tracks went south, further into the forest, although disappeared after about 50 feet. Arnama asked Zevan to head in that direction, and report back anything that they found.
Nell, Eve and Zevan then disappeared into the undergrowth. Kal, who explained the situation to the mayor, observed the three disappear and called for Sam to accompany him into the forest and allow the councilmen to conduct their investigation.
The group followed the direction of the tracks for a good half mile before they entered a clearing. The clearing was filled will felled trees, which did not appear to have been logged, but that the trees had withered and died. The heroes entered the clearing, and as they did so, Eve and Zevan spotted movement from behind bushes. What was moving was unknown, and the group readied their weapons. Eve called out, stating that they meant no harm, claiming they only wanted to talk. With that, a single brownie staggered from behind a stump. Its skin was pale green, with veins cascading across its skin. The Brownie explained that it was suffering a curse, caused by the logging of the trees. A curse brought down on the forest by the Dark Queen. The Brownie gave the group a week to stop the logging, or that there would be consequences for their town. The group agreed, and the brownies disappeared.
The group made their way back to town. They had many questions, but night was fast approaching. Who was the Dark Queen? Why did she curse the brownies and the forest? What did the loggers do to cause this in the first place? Nell decided to converse with her father as he had been in Kassen for many years. Zevan made his way back to Arnama to question what she might know, and Sam was called for duty at the gate tower. Eve and Kal however decided to conduct their own investigations with the town sage, Holgast.
Zevan questioned Arnama into the night, but Arnama was just as puzzled about what Zevan had seen and heard.
Nell went to question her father and after being told he knew nothing, told the girl to do her chores. Wanting to join her friends she declined. Her father however cast a spell, and Nell later woke fulfilled as she had done her father’s bidding.
Meanwhile, as businesses were packing up for the evening, Eve and Kal went about the town asking questions, only to find that a number of key members in the town were missing or unavailable, including the Mayor. They did however speak with one of the baker’s apprentices who they convinced to explain what was going on. The apprentice said that it was part of the ritual. He could not elaborate other than a number of the towns folk were involved and had headed out the day before. Kal realised that his fellow acolyte Dimira Nashare had also not been seen for a day or so. The two realised that the Cobbler, a carpenter and his apprentice, along with 5 other townsfolk were missing. Kal and Eve soon went to Holgast’s tower and found him unavailable. His apprentice, a young man named Moto advised that he was away for a few days, and would return later.
Eve, Kal, Nell and Zevan then went off to the inn to discuss their findings. Whilst at the inn, Kal started making small talk with Asina Silvers, the inn keeper’s daughter. Asina was pleasant; however her mind appeared to be elsewhere. Nell and Zevan watched from a corner booth and found that a fight was brewing between some of the townsfolk and the loggers, in particular the wife of one of the loggers who was injured. A fight broke out, and the town guard was called.
Sam and his friend and fellow guardsman Golfond Kir were first at the scene, having heard the shouts for help from the gate tower. Sam and Kir quickly dealt with the revelers. Meanwhile, Eve, who had been eavesdropping on the conversation between Asina and Kal, learned that Asina’s father was under the weather. She offered to help behind the bar and during the fight slipped upstairs to Asina’s and her father’s quarters. There Eve found Trelvar Silvers sobbing with what appeared to be a drawing of him and his wife in one hand, and a bottle of rum in another. Eve attempted to counsel the man, however he was clearly upset, and at one stage suggested that Eve reminded him of his wife. Eve, somewhat, taken aback by his advances, withdrew and returned to the inn below.
Having dealt with the revelers, Sam and Kir imposed themselves on Asina for free ale. Asina, agreed, and as the two took their first swig, the Captain of the Guard, Gregor Wisslo arrived. The two were openly chastised and ordered back to the gate. The Captain suggested that the inn finish up for the night and the various groups dispersed. Eve returned upstairs and spoke at length with Jimes “Short Change” Iggins, her friends and mentor. Jimes had nothing to offer, other than a few more suggestions for fleecing drunken woodcutters of their coins.
The others returned to their homes, vowing to continue their investigations in the morning…
Whilst the heroes of our story rest on the banks of the Tourondel River, training and sharing tall stories of their exploits, an alarm sounds not far from where they were resting. The heroes rush through the forest in order to lend aid. They soon find themselves in a large clearing where the Kassen Woodcutters Guild had gouged out a part of the forest as part of their lumber operations.
In the clearing they find that the encampment is built on a slight slope, with piles of logs at the top of the rise ready to be transported to the river. Normally held down with large chains, the heroes are confronted by a scene of devastation where a number of the larger logs had broken free, and tumbled down the hill. The logs took no mercy, and crushed everything in their path including the operations cabin situated in the centre of the camp, a number of tents belonging to the workers, and a supply of reagents used in breaking down lumber. The later of which had started to smoulder and was in danger of catching fire.
The heroes immediately split up. Kal and Sam ran to the crushed cabin and found a number of injured workers trapped under the debris. Nell and Zevan moved to the remaining logs to ensure they were secure and to see if there was any evidence of tampering. Meanwhile Evarl climbed a nearby tree in order to better assess the situation.
What happened to cause this incident? And why was Guild Master Colbin Vetnar more concerned with getting the area cleared up, and the men back to work than saving the lives of his injured workers?
PREVIOUSLY: In a small village in northern Nirmathas, strange happenings are afoot. Who of its citizens will step forward to help, and who will be propelled towards riches beyond their wildest dreams…
EVENTS: Ekat Kassen was a crusader and fortune seeker who came to serve Lastwall in the year 4515 AR. While he fought with distinction, he soon realized that he wanted more from life and left the Lastwall military to find his fortune elsewhere. His travels took him all over the region around Lake Encarthan, and he decided to settle down in 4522 AR after a very profitable adventure.
Using a sizable portion of his fortune, he set out to tame a small area of the Fangwood on the banks of the Tourondel River, making it a natural stop-over for those traveling up and down the river to Skelt. For the next 10 years, the town, which was then known as Kassen’s Hold, grew and prospered.
All that changed when Asar Vergas came to Kassen’s Hold with a host of mercenaries under his command. Asar was an old companion of Ekat, and the two had traveled together for some time before splitting up after their last adventure. Over the years, Asar became sure that Ekat had cheated him after that adventure. Promising great wealth to his mercenaries, Asar raided the town relentlessly for 2 months. Finally, the townsfolk managed to locate Asar’s camp in an ancient crypt deep in the forest, and Ekat himself went out to deal with his old companion.
The battle was terribly bloody, with only a few townsfolk coming back to tell the tale. In the end, Asar was slain and his mercenaries scattered, but Ekat suffered a mortal wound. He died 2 days later, on the 11th day of Neth, 4535.
In honor of their beloved founder, the townsfolk buried Kassen in the ancient crypt, interring his bones in a place of honor, above the simple sarcophagi used to inter Asar, his mercenaries, and the townsfolk that lost their lives in the bitter struggle. They placed an eternal flame above Kassen’s final resting place, so that all who visited might find warmth in the wilderness.
After the defeat of Asar Vergas and the death of Ekat Kassen, the surviving townsfolk drew closer together in mourning – and in pride at what they had come together to accomplish. Old feuds were forgotten for a time, and the traditional Nirmathi independence of spirit bent to an appreciation of what the community as a whole could do. As the generation that had fought alongside the paladin aged, however, they were unhappy to see their children and grandchildren falling back into old habits, holding grudges that drew lines of division in the town, now simply called Kassen, and disregarding the hard lessons of community that their forebears had paid for in blood. The town elders came together to devise a way to convince the youngsters of the benefits of working together, and so the Quest for the Everflame was born.
Once in each generation, generally every five to seven years, the young adults of the town participate in a coming-of-age ritual that recreates the quest of Ekat Kassen and his followers into the wilderness. On the late autumn day that marks the anniversary of the day Kassen set out on his last march, the chosen young townsfolk gather in the square and are solemnly sent off with a lantern from the Greathall, to light it at the eternal flame in the crypt of the fallen paladin and bring it back to town to be preserved through the cold winter, a symbol of the town’s history and resilience. What happens while the fledgling adventurers are away is a secret closely guarded from the younger residents, but when they return a few days later, the town holds a great celebration in their honor, using the fruits of the year’s final harvest. Those who return with the lantern are hailed as the heroes of Kassen and are henceforth viewed as fully-grown citizens, marking the end of any apprenticeships. The Quest of the Everflame celebration, therefore, is often the background for engagements and weddings, as well as land and business transactions as the heroes prepare to enter adult life.
Although most of the inhabitants of Kassen have gone through the Quest for the Everflame, all seem to have taken an oath not to tell anyone uninitiated what exactly is involved in the ritual. Most adults only smile secretively when asked by a child. If approached during the Quest of the Everflame celebration, returning heroes are equally non-forthcoming; some will rumple the children’s hair and tell them not to worry about it, while those more fond of the limelight will spin wild tales about wrestling trolls or defeating squadrons of orcs from Belkzen. Every child in Kassen seems to know of a vague and distant relation some generations ago who died during the quest, but as their own time approaches, the adolescents grow more dismissive of the dangers, rolling their eyes and declaring it’s only some lame trick of their parents that couldn’t possibly be all that interesting. After that, most young people are too busy in apprenticeships and jobs and courtships to give much thought to the ritual.
The year is now 4709 AR, 174 years after the death of the town’s namesake, and the town’s Mayor has decreed that a group of youngsters will again make the pilgrimage this year. There are still a few days until a decision is made of who will be bestowed this great honour.
Our story begins on the banks of the Tourondel River a mile or so out of town, where a group of young friends enjoy some down time, each one pondering their chances of earning their place in Kassen’s history…