INTRODUCTION: OLD MEETINGS
Village of Fitela, 12th of Coldeven, 591 CY
It had been an emotional day for everyone involved in the rededication. After over six years of much sorrow, struggle and disappointment, the surviving common folk of this small village along the rushing Davish river were beginning again.
After the giants and their allies had begun retreating back into their mountain strongholds in 588 CY, the villagers had slowly begun to trickle back over the border from Keoland. On barge, wagon, horse, and even on foot they had returned from the refugee camps, spurred on by the reports that their homeland was once again on the path to freedom. The frost giants of the Jotens had held on longer than anyone could have imagined. Even now it was said they still controlled a number of the old Borderland forts built hard against the mountainsides. The people of Fitela had to wait patiently until just over a year ago before it was safe enough to make their way back here.
With the monetary support of the young, local Baron Veaublanche, and even a few lions from the court in Istivin, the people here had slowly rebuilt their village. Today was the celebration honoring the laying of the cornerstone of the newly built church of Allitur, and as local heroes, you had been brought here to be guests of honor.
Not having seen each other since the events of the previous fall at the Eagle’s Nest, you came in from all over. The winter had not been a particularly harsh one for this part of the Flanaess, and with the coming of spring the smell of hope seemed to hang in the air.
Upon arrival, each of you had been greeted not with the formal stiffness of visiting nobility, but with a warmth and genuine affection that surprised and touched many of you. Old mothers had fallen into your arms, weeping as seeing you reminded them of the brothers, sons and daughters they had lost at the Last Stand by the Davish. Mothers beamed with quiet pride as they introduced you to their young sons and daughters, who had been named after you in recognition of your deeds. Men of all ages came up to you, sadness and joy mixed in their eyes, telling you of the many struggles they had endured since you had parted ways here or at Godakin Keep.
You met a young dwarf barely in his beard, who carried a warhammer with great reverence, carved with runes holy to Moradin. He looked somewhat familiar and introduced himself as Grintur, son of Grinnur. He had been asked to travel here from his home in the South, and mark the occasion in his father’s stead. Grinnur, you soon learned, had been killed two years before in an attempt to retake a dwarven mine still held by the giants. Grintur spoke of his father in the present tense, telling you that even though his spirit had gone on to sit beside the Allfather, he still guided his decisions and gave him much courage.
The ceremony two days ago had thankfully been brief, as the newly appointed priest of Allitur gave a somewhat poorly-delivered speech on the importance of tradition and structure to the workings of society. Following this, the visiting High Paymaster of Zilchus and even a stonewoman of Ulaa had joined with the speaker in laying the cornerstone of the new church to the accompaniment of great applause. A large banquet in the recently rebuilt town hall followed and had gone on late into the night.
The following day you said your goodbyes and had accepted the invitation of the High Paymaster of Zilchus to accompany him on his boat back to Istivin Crossing.
Upon mention of Istivin you had noted that for whatever reason none of you had visited, or even thought about the capital in quite some time. It was as if the city had faded from your memory, which seemed odd considering that it was the meeting point of the three major highways crossing Sterich, in addition to the only city of any size for hundreds of miles. You assumed that this was simply the result of too much stress and excitement over the past few years; mostly spent fighting the invaders on the borders of Geoff and the March. In any case, it had been too long since your last visit: Istivin was calling!
Port of Istivin Crossing, 14th of Coldeven, 591 CY
Early this morning the High Paymaster’s boat has docked at Istivin Crossing, and as you disembark he bids you farewell. As was his wont, the high priest of Zilchus had combined the ceremonial visit with a supply trip to Godakin Keep, and the local dockworkers are busy unloading numerous heavy boxes with the royal stamp of the Kingdom of Keoland on them.
It is still chilly this early in the season, and a freezing wind blows hard across the river from the south. In that direction, far in the distance the high, snow-covered peaks of the northern Jotens are catching the first rays of the sun, sharply silhouetted against the lightening sky. A few miles to the north-west you can see the tall, triple towers of the Javan Gate, and the dark-grey curtain walls of Istivin. The imposing Krelont Keep sits atop the Promontory behind them, still shrouded in the night’s last shadows.