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Rise of Tiamat - Intro


Ashur, you're patrolling your current woodland home somewhere in the western Dalelands, far easy of the Misty Forest where your friend and mentor Brand died in a horrible festering mass of poisonous vapor, exhaled by a monstrous specimen of Draco venenatis viridis before he could strike a single blow in defense of the local elves. You escaped alive, barely, but the loss of your partner was a sobering setback, and the pain of this tragedy still haunts you even after several tendays. You revisit the question of whether it's worth going back to the Hunt on a daily basis; the answer frequently changes several times within a single hour.

Your brooding is interrupted by the realization that a body is winging its way directly in your direction. From a distance, it looks like a raven, its wings shining in the sunlight as it soars just above the canopy upslope, its path clearly taking it toward the lowland clearing where you're currently located.


Annaliese, you're on a road running alongside the forest, currently between tasks, when a flash of silver crosses your field of vision. You see what looks like a raven flying low across the field ahead of you. However, when it reaches the treeline, it suddenly turns a 90-degree angle and zooms straight up into the sky, not leveling off again until it's just above the highest branches. Your hawk has been watching from its perch, and after observing the creature's strange motion, it gives you a single meaningful glance and takes off after the corvid.

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Ashur was replaying the events of his friend and mentors death, over and over in his head. Searching for some clue as to what else he may have done to save him. Guilt drove bile to the back of his throat and he spat it out, the sting drawing moisture to his eyes.

As he wiped his eyes clear, his attention was drawn by the odd behaviour of the bird flying towards the clearing. He slowed and stopped, instinctively moving to the the shadows of the trees, his eyes scanning the clearing for signs of what may have drawn the ravens attention.



The bird begins to wing its way down toward you, and you realize that it's flying pattern isn't the only odd thing about it. Ravens are normally black-feathered, and you assumed that this one was simply shining in the sunlight because its feathers were glossy with health, but as it comes close enough for you to get a good look at it, you see that the "bird" is actually some sort of facsimile of an actual animal, made out of a glimmering metallic substance. Once it dips into shadow, it assumes a color that could be called "black", but it only resembles an actual living raven to the same extent that a statue carved out of mica would have resembled it. The silvery surface of the creature's wings makes it clear that what you took for a creature is actually some sort of magical construct, an inorganic creation cunningly crafted right down to every individual feather, so that it exactly mimics the flight function of the corvid, but clearly stands out as an artificial creation.


Intrigued by this metal bird Ashur breaks from cover. Whatever this construct was he wasn't going to learn anything more by hiding. Indeed with the proximity of the bird to his location, he wasn't at all confident that he was indeed 'hiding'.

He had heard of constructs like this being used to ferry messages to other people, but was at a loss as to who this may have belonged to.

With purpose, he strides to the metal construct his glaive held casually.

"Do you have a message for me?" he asks.

"How did that bird fly lik-- Hey, where are you going, Roo?" Ana says as the bird flies off. She looks around suspiciously. Anyone around who might own the raven, she wonders. She tries get a good look at the bird.

OOC: She is trying to look carefully at the raven. Perception: 1D20+5 = [10]+5 = 15
Remember she has this ability: You can see clearly up to a mile away seeing details as if they were only 100 ft away.


OOC: This is roughly equivalent to distinguishing the difference between a real person (who happens to be standing completely still) and a well-made mannequin, which would be a bit challenging even at only 100 feet. But I have no desire to delay the partying-up, and by 5E standards a roll of 15 is decent, so I'll say your character is able to gain the same information that Ashur got in my second post up above - the raven is clearly artificial, with a silver sheen on its feathers which no real bird could have.

Does your familiar speak verbally, communicate telepathically, or only send and receive emotions?

The raven does not directly answer your question, but the truth becomes apparent enough when it speaks, not in the kind of croaking voice with which a well-trained raven can manage to imitate human words (while, ordinarily, having no more idea what the words mean than the raven's trainer has of its cawing), but in an obvious magical duplication of a person's voice - probably an elf, to guess by the extremely aristocratic accent and the high masculine pitch. "Brand's Apprentice! Misty Forest's King Melandrach invites you: attend him in Waterdeep, regarding possible assignment." These are fifteen of the message's twenty-five total words; the remaining ten words detail a window of dates, covering when you could arrive in the "City of Splendors" in order to meet him.

Clearly the message was compacted artificially in order to suit the restrictions of a spell; perhaps if you spoke Celestial, a tongue which is supposed to be so vast in vocabulary and precise in disambiguation that it can fit entire sentences of Common meaning into a single precisely-drawn glyph, this Melandrach could have spoken in that language instead. Then perhaps you would have a bit more detail about exactly what this "possible assignment" entails. The fact that he refers to your deceased friend/mentor/whatever, and calls you an "apprentice" (certainly not a word that Brand ever used) may well simply be one of these verbal economies; you doubt it can be meant as some sort of slight against you. It's certainly not as flattering as if he had asked for you by your own name, but who knows; elves are weird, and this isn't really enough information to be sure what's going on. Still, whatever else is true about him, a king is a source of wealth, influence, and all manner of other forms of power; if he wants some kind of service out of you, it's likely to be a well-paid one. Particularly given the arcane and probably expensive method he chose to use in making contact....

The raven sits patiently, as if waiting for you to reply. It's likely that the 25-word limit which Melandrach was clearly working around, with substantial inconvenience, would apply to whatever response you might choose to send back to him.

(Feel free to expound upon your character's backstory, and volunteer any appropriate rolls you'd like to explore for more detail; I'm being intentionally vague so as to give you a lot of potential directions to take this. As long as the direction you choose isn't "directly away from the entire plot", I can work with pretty much anything else.)


@Annaliese: Your hawk states with considerable confidence that this raven isn't really alive, but its curiosity is still aroused, and it continues pursuing the bird across the treetops, soon getting far enough away that you can no longer maintain contact with it.

@Ashur: While you're still thinking about the raven's message, a hawk descends from the sky to perch in a branch not far from you, and keeps a close eye on the ersatz corvid. While not as obviously unnatural as the metal-feathered construct, the hawk's behavior does seem out of the ordinary; most raptors would either have tried to attack something that looked like a prey animal, or lost interest immediately upon discovering that it wasn't really edible. Instead, this one is just...staring at the thing. Kind of like you're doing, actually.

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