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5E [IC] THE CURSE OF AMBERSTAR

THE CURSEOF AMBERSTAR - PROLOGUE - YEARNING HEARTS

An inconspicuous arrival. That was the request of the Duke for the heroes. Not an easy task, granted, since their exploits would be known around Wellington’s capital,Wallis, at least among travelers by now. And travelers were not such a rare sight these days…


After the disaster that befell the land, many sought shelter around the walls of the fortified city. No one knows why it was spared the disaster of the ascendant star. Perhaps the gods took pity on it, perhaps they wanted to protect the Wellington bloodline for unknown purposes, or perhaps they wanted mortals to have a chance for redemption. No one knows for sure.

This is why it is said that the Duke made a choice. A choice to believe in redemption. A choice to believe in second chances. Vying to lift the curse that brought his domain to the brink of destruction, he called out for heroes capable of climbing the perilous steps of the Teraphim Sanctum, seeking out the answers he could only guess. He called out to the four corners of the known world… He called out… for you.

The day’s at an end as you reach the inner walls of the strange tower city of Wallis. Within, you’re taken to Galean’s Keep, one of the three vertical fortresses built by the Teraphim at the heart of Vallis. It’s strange walls, a mix ofstone and metal, hold ancient runes of unknown meaning, glowing lines thatgrant a mystical atmosphere to the place. As soon as you arrive, you are taken to the Hall of Records, a vast room placed several stores above the city, within Galean’s Keep. There, amidst books and scrolls of ancient lore, Lord Conrad, Duke of Wellington and High-Overseer of Caer Vallen, last of his line, receives his guests.

Sat in athrone, glancing at texts upon texts that cover a large table, the Duke, a manof his forties, rests sunken, silent eyes upon the gathered party. His seneschal is the one who speaks first.

“The Duke welcomes you, heroes, and thanks you for the generosity of landing strength tohis cause! We shall accommodate you soon. But first His Grace asks for a formal introduction.” – the seneschal falls silent as he observes the recent arrivals, not even out of their traveling clothes. The Duke falls into his chair, a restless, pale figure sunken in furs as his vigor slowly gives way to exhaustion. Before him lay the knowledge of many schools of theurgy, religion and magic. Nature meets necromancy, Teraphim and gods share space with demonic names and physiology tomes, all summed up in the blackness of the Duke’s tired gaze.

[Welcome! Please, introduce yourselves! :D]

@industrygothica @hafrogman @Charwoman Gene @Greenmtn @Shayuri

 
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Greenmtn

Explorer
Harfik Human Monk

Stepping forward swiftly, as if hesitation would be punished, placing his right hand over the chest of his shirt, the left side of his chest bare except the strap of his pack over his shoulder, he bows sharply looking at the ground and speaking loud and clear.

"Harfik, thrice bound of Count Fredrik, champion of his fighting pit, by his command and at your service my LORD."

After his brief introduction he bows further before he backs away without looking up, head down until he is back to the others that have reported. Then raises his gaze to the level the seneschal is on before dropping his hand back to his side.
 

hafrogman

Villager
Yttrian, elf fighter

Yttrian eyes the city of Wallis warily as he walks his streets, distinctive arms and armor hidden beneath a drab traveling cloak. This monument to Wellington's arrogance still stood while the people that they oppressed still suffered. It had been decades, nobody was going to suddenly call him out as an escaped slave and clap him in irons again, but his wrists itched even at the thought entered his mind. Scowling to himself he picks up the pace, eager to be done with this whole charade that much the sooner. Once this meeting is over, he can move on to his real goals.

He follows his guard quietly to the keep, and the Duke's chamber within. Finding himself eye to eye with the man for the first time, Yttrian pauses. The Duke is old enough, by human standards, but he would have been a child when Yttrian was a slave, perhaps not even born yet. It was hard to tell. He listens to the seneschal's greeting with one ear, keeping his eyes on the Duke. He resists rolling his eyes at the phrasing. *'Lending my strength', indeed! I'm just using you to get back into the Sanctum* But he keeps his thoughts to himself and when introductions are asked for he glances around at the others for an instant as they shuffle quietly, waiting for someone to step forward. Luckily, the monk quickly steps into silence, making his introduction. Hoping to maintain a low profile by being neither first nor last, Yttrian speaks up next.

"Yttrian Lysandyr" he gives the fanciful family name he had used to sign up for this expedition, "... your Grace. Warrior, hunter, etc. Eager to get going to the Sanctum."
 

Charwoman Gene

Adventurer
Kethra Lawbringer, Aasimar Paladin

The tall woman throws back her cloak, revealing her visage, resplendent with unearthly beauty. "I am Kethra Lawbringer, chosen of Erathis, protector of the good folk of the city of Trenda. I am here to aid in this mission, my blade is at your service for the time being."
 
Lyllie, Gnome druid/necromancer

The small one steps forward, lowering her hood to reveal her scarred face and colorless eyes, partially hidden by her straight black hair. "I am Lyllie, the last gnome of Glitterdale. The last anything of Glitterdale."
 

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
A deep, strong voice sounds.

"This one is Sethmek Aanzu, Prince of Sethmandu, Twenty-First Spirit of Blue Dragon, Oathbreaker, Eater of Hearts, Seeker of Honor."

The big muscular dragonborn does not bow or step forward. Indeed, he does not move at all except to speak.

Wearing a fine blue-and-gold tunic with a huge ornate sword with a slightly curved edge, the dragonborn is obviously proud of his foreign origins. Blue and brown scales cover his head and uncovered arms and clawed feet. A shock of white hair frames his face, which is completely expressionless. Golden eyes are fixed on the Duke.

"Aanzu is the name of this one," he tries to clarify.
 

Shayuri

Villager
Another figure moves forward, making a sort of whirring noise in between the clanks of his armored feet on the flagstones. At first it seemed he might simply be a human in full plate armor...but a second glance revealed oddities. He was a bit too tall, a bit too narrow; his arms and legs too thin to be proportional. The shape of the armor was wrong...curving in here, sweeping out there, in ways that would be profoundly uncomfortable for any human encased within. Moreover, as he moved, there were inevitably gaps between the metal plates. What showed inside was...more metal, laced with dimly glowing crystal.

"I have elected to be called Icosa," said the strange warrior (if warrior he was; there was no weapon at his side) in a precisely measured and cadenced voice that seemed oddly androgynous...it was very hard to imagine what face would go with that voice. "I am...pleased to anticipate the equitable exchange of goods and services with you."
 
Both Duke and seneschal remain silent as the heroes introduce themselves. As they finish, the seneschal signals more salutations, but the Duke interjects, his palm rising slowly and politely. The seneschal lowers his head, watching the Duke closely.

“I am pleased to see such strength before my eyes.” – he smiles faintly, as if overtaken by weariness. “And such a distinct roster of champions, you are! Maybe this is the beginning of a new story… One happier than those that came before…”

“Wellington has much to regret. My ancestors, I’m ashamed to say, were neither kind nor fair. Fortune has laid up my shoulders a difficult task, one that, as you may see…” – he gestures towards the many written volumes that serve him now – “… takes all my attention nowadays.”

“In such spirit, please, let me say how sorry I am for all the pain that Wellington’s past choices have caused.” – Conrad is widely known for his refined rhetoric. Still, something in his voice exudes honesty as he elaborates on his feelings and concerns.
He then turns to the gnomish druid.

“Lyllie Lightgrave of Glitterdale, I cannot bring back what was lost so many years ago, but I can help you build a new home, perhaps even where Glitterdale once stood, should the curse be lifted. And, if it pleases you, I vow to do so in return for your aid.” – he bends his head, much to the seneschal’s disappointment and surprise.
Soon enough, he addresses Aanzu, bowing his head even further towards the warrior.

“Your Highness, I have no words to describe the honor of having you on our side. May this be the sign of a true alliance between us, between our nations. Once this is over, I assure you, I shall make every resource available to you, so you may resume your travels and, if you so decide, return home to reclaim your rightful place.” – his words are vague. Perhaps he does not know of Aanzu’s hunt for Ravenblade, or perhaps he simply wishes to leave the painful details of the prince’s past untouched. Either way, he is quite emphatic, almost as if he wanted to reassure his pledge beyond any doubts.

Next, he turns to Harfik.

“Brave Harfik, news of your exploits reached the capital since long ago. You have impressive talents, and I am glad to have the strong arm of good Fredrik among us. I understand, though, that you serve Fredrik, still. Therefore, a proposition, within the limits of my powers and under lawful procedures: fight for me, and I’ll buy you your freedom from Fredrik. Surely his loyalty and friendship to me would allow for such a pact to be made. I give you my word as your Duke that I will do everything in my power to see you free, granting the righteous compensations for Lord Fredrik, as dictates the law.” – Harfik knows that Conrad would have to buy him from Fredrik, and even then Harfik’s master would still have to agree. Either this is a subtle way to declare war against Fredrik, or the Duke truly wants to see the monk free – to the point he’d risk a conflict to do so. Unless these are all empty promises…

He then rests his eyes upon Yttrian.

“Hunter, you have become known for your skills, as well as for your talent to obtain results. Any price you ask, anything you wish, shall be yours, should you succeed. You’ll never be out of my favor. And should you desire or need anything, as long as it is within the power of the Duke of Wellington, you shall have it. You have my word.” – as far as Yttrian knows, this Duke of Wellington has made a name for himself as a noble and honest man. He’d never go back on his word, or so people thought, but he’d never give it lavishly. Still, a lord is a lord…

His gaze faces Icosa’s.

“Mighty Icosa, I heard legends of your people, and then again, only as nomads, lost to distant lands, wondering, perhaps, in loneliness. Let there be no such sentiment for as long as you are my guest, for as long as we are allies. If you so choose, I will share all the discoveries of the lords of Wellington about your people and, when our struggles are over, we shall search for your kinsmen… together.”

Lastly, he addresses Kethra.

“Trenda is famous by the beauty of its people, and you do them justice, fair Lawbringer. Welcome to my halls. My gratitude goes to Trenda and you, as well, for lending your sword to our cause. By my word, should you succeed, Trenda will see abundant resources, so that no villainy ever happens within its walls again. Erathis shall receive praise as well, when we erect a temple within Wallis.” – as High-Overseer of Car Vallen, the Duke adheres to a distinct set of faiths. Every Duke of Welllington is trained as a druid, amassing other talents as necessary. Conrad is said to be both druid and warrior, but has been known for his acceptance of the many cults that flourish throughout the kingdoms.

“Now…” – he addresses the group once more. “Is there anything you wish of me? Ask, and I’ll see what I can do for you. Downstairs, your chambers are ready, and the table is set. You shall spend the night here and, when morning comes, my men will guide you towards Caer Vallen, and the Sanctum above it. If you have any questions or requests, this is the time to do so, my friends.” – he falls silent, waiting for the heroes’ answers.


[Ok, you guys can engage in conversation between yourselves and with the NPC’s, explore the place, leave, etc… When you are done, you can go towards the banquet hall. If you want to go astray – into the tower or the city – you have to trick the guards with stealth, diplomacy or other similar skills, depending on what you’ll do to achieve your goals. Basically, you are free to do as you wish. The travelling party leaves at first light – careful not to miss out on it!]


[MENTION=23298]industrygothica[/MENTION] [MENTION=8858]hafrogman[/MENTION] [MENTION=5044]Charwoman Gene[/MENTION] [MENTION=6855102]Greenmtn[/MENTION] [MENTION=4936]Shayuri[/MENTION] [MENTION=6776182]JustinCase[/MENTION]
 

hafrogman

Villager
Yttrian stands silently through the Duke's speech. It was a lot easier to harbor hate for a nameless, faceless entity than this man who stood before him and apologized for his forebears' actions. Still, old wounds are not easily healed, and although the Duke makes a good show of it, Yttrian reserves judgement for now. Focus on 'rewards' later, and keep to the task at hand for now. He looks between the seneschal, Duke and table for a moment, not sure which to address.

"For now, the only thing I need is information. Maps, documents, anything there is on our destination. I know there is not much, the Sanctum was long sealed, but anything that is you have may be useful."
 

Charwoman Gene

Adventurer
Kethra adresses the table, "Such a diversity of powerful warriors has rarely been seen, and now we are brought together. It is time to get our wits together and learn to be as one unit. The lone blade is nothing without its brothers."

To her host she intones, "I accept your hospitality and will take my fill of your food and drink as we may die tomorrow."
 

Greenmtn

Explorer
Harfik Human Monk

Harfiks hand unconsciously brushes against the braided chain and fabric around his body before he brings his hands together in front of him for another deep bow.

Because of his success he had earned the right to wear it around his body. The Counts less valuable slaves wore theirs around their necks. Most of the time he was treated well, even on occasion seeing "free born" peasants beaten worse than he could remember being beaten. His mentor, the one that trained him to fight, and to seek stillness of mind in order to perfect his movements, had told him that Freedom had it's own risks. That as a slave you can become expensive to replace while peasants were free to come and go as they pleased, they needed to support themselves, and were cheaper to replace. He was well fed and rarely punished but even with his improved station he was still a slave without any of the choices, hard as they may be, that a free man had. Questions and possibilities raced through his mind. He remained silent for some time...


"Kethra is it? You and I know this. My place in this life is to fight. Other than the knowing that I have from my mentor. Fighting is what I know and other things, less helpful with this."
 

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
Aanzu remains silent. All the Duke had given him were words, and although they were kind, it was nothing to help him hunt down the Ravenblade woman or to regain his family's honor and trust.

So the dragonborn stands silently, unmoving, waiting until he can move to the table and sample the food.
 

Shayuri

Villager
Icosa inclines its head slightly and replies, "I do not require food or drink. I am here for information, and I expect to find it within the Sanctum. Thank you for the offer."

It pauses, then adds, "If you would be willing to allow me to consult some of your library though, while the others see to their needs?"
 
Lyllie skips the conversation and heads towards the banquet hall. Unlike her gnome brethren, her words are scarce.


OOC: Back from camping and ready to get this show on the road!






Code:
[B]AC:[/B] 16; [B]HP:[/B] [COLOR=#FF000]52[/COLOR]/52
[B]Initiative:[/B] +3
[B]Saves:[/B] INT +7, WIS +5
[B]Passive Perception:[/B] 15
[B]Languages:[/B] Common, Gnomish, Sylvan, Druidic
[B]Skills:[/B] Arcana +7, Investigation +7, Nature +7, Perception +5
[B]Stats:[/B] Str 8 (-1), Dex 14 (+2) , Con 14 (+2), Int 18 (+4), Wis 14 (+2), Cha 11 (+0)

-[B]Inspiration[/B]? [ ] Yes, [[COLOR=#FF0000]X[/COLOR]] No

[B]Spell Save DC:[/B] 13/15
[B]Spell Slots:[/B] 4, 4, 3, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0
[B]Slots Used:[/B] 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0
[B]Spells Prepared:[/B] (4/8) 
[list]
[*]1st Level: 1st Level: Healing Word (D), Entangle (D), Faerie Fire (D), Speak with Animals (D), Ray of Sickness, Color Spray, 
Mage Armor, Witch Bolt, False Life
[*]2nd Level: Blindness/Deafness, Ray of Enfeeblement, Misty Step
[/list](D) Druid Spells modified with Wisdom. All others are Wizard spells modified with Intelligence.

[B]Rituals[/B]
Tenser's Floating Disk, Find Familiar, Identify, Gentle Repose
 
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EVERYONE

"For now, the only thing I need is information. Maps, documents, anything there is on our destination. I know there is not much, the Sanctum was long sealed, but anything that is you have may be useful."
"If you would be willing to allow me to consult some of your library though, while the others see to their needs?"
The Duke rises, motioning towards the stairs. Before he leaves, though, he addresses his guests.

“Please, feel free to use the archives as you will. The banquet is prepared in the superior quarters, for those who wish to rest. My soldiers will guide you. If you need anything, feel free to ask. I beg your pardon, but I shall not join you tonight. There are pressing matters around the northern wall that call for my attention. Nonetheless, I bid you welcome and wish you success in our shared endeavor.” – he turns, still wearing a smile upon his face and leaves, followed by his seneschal. Guards stand at the doors, and a servant awaits to escort the heroes to the banquet room.

[For those that remain at the archives]

For any expert, the Keep’s library is nothing short of amazing. Legends tell of secrets hidden amidst its tall shelves, brought forth by the hands of the Teraphim themselves. As you browse through the tomes and scrolls, you realize the amount of effort put into cataloguing and organizing all this information. Scribes from all known countries were once summoned in order to lay on parchment all minute details of their homelands. Everything, from the lands of Sethmandu to the Kantar narrows, is celebrated through copious documents and numerous representations. The history of all known peoples is retold in many ways by the skilled quills of many different sages.

Such care is also dedicated to the arcane arts as well. Everything, from alchemy to arcane engineering, and from spellcasting to artifact crafting, has been dissected and put into words within these halls.

[under the gaze of the guards, you may research any topic. All knowledge-related rolls receive a +4 bonus for newcomers. There are sages wondering the corridors as well. They might be inclined to help you even further…]

[For those that follow to the banquet]

You are taken upstairs towards a sector of the upper floor. Apparently, this hole wing is reserved to eminent guests. Beyond a set of double doors in the back of a waiting room lies the banquet hall, the central piece to an elevated palace within the Keep. The room has been arranged with servants to tend to all the guests’ needs. All comforts known to men have been made available. Divans and sofas share space with smoking pipes, which fumes mixed up with the many perfumes harmonized around the room. The main table holds all sorts of foods and spices, holding special places to dishes familiar to each people represented by the guests. Spices of all sorts cover the table in impressive amounts. A rich decoration shares place with flora gathered from many parts of the world, probably brought from the artificial gardens of Wallis. At the back, a pool of hot water awaits those willing to refresh themselves from the trip. Stairs lead to the bedroom section, at least as far as you can see.

“Welcome, champions! The Duke wishes to share the wealth of Wellington with you! May all profit from the fruits of this land, today and in the days to come! I am Posca. I am here to serve you.” – the elfic servant bows as he receives the heroes.

[Enjoy! All social interactions have a +4 bonus within these halls.]




@industrygothica @hafrogman @Charwoman Gene @Greenmtn @Shayuri @JustinCase
 
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hafrogman

Villager
Yttrian briefly peruses the shelves of the library, trailing a finger along a shelf and glancing at the spines. However, casting an eye around the room, he quickly realizes that he is out of his depth. He flags down one of the wandering sages.

"I have a need for maps of the area around the Teraphim sanctuary, or any reports of expeditions to the same. Do you know where I might start looking?"
 
Lyllie begins to head out for the banquet hall, but the offer of using the library is too enticing. She attempts to make quick work of the organization, and then starts looking for anything related to the arcane arts, nature magic, and the Raven Queen. Hearing the strange elf's request, she'll also pull out anything she might run across that matches his criteria.
 

Greenmtn

Explorer
Harfik Human Monk

Entering the banquet hall Harfik stops and pauses for a moment at the sight before his eyes. This truly is an impressive show of wealth and generosity.

To the Elf servant. "Are all guests received so lavishly or is this a special occasion?"

He accepts a meal and water, finding a place to sit and eat he waits to see who joins him in the banquet hall.
 

Shayuri

Villager
Icosa's head inclines in what might be gratitude, then ticks slightly to and fro, watching the hustle and bustle of people leaving, or scattering to the shelves for their own agendas.

The armored machine-warrior moves to the collection on the Teraphim, and with quick, precise movement begins sorting through them, searching for mentions of its own kind.

(History [roll0] on the 'warforged' race and its origins. This includes the +4 bonus; but Icosa is not trained in History. :))
 

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