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The Reconquista: Part I (Shadows over Istivin)




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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.
 
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Thanee

First Post
Latalya

“Six years since we have fought here, and almost died. Even to me it seems like a long time, many memories have found their way into my Reverie since then. It's good to see you all again!”

Latalya had arrived on the back of a black horse with smoke-colored, insubstantial hooves, which the villagers looked upon in awe, while the dogs and other animals wouldn't dare to come close; Noctra flying around erratically. Not wanting to irritate them more than necessary, the elf dismissed her spell soon after arrival. With joy in her eyes she looked upon the rebuilt village, memories of burned-out shacks slowly fading from her mind.

When they met Grintur, son of Grinnur, Latalya told him that “Your father's legend will stay alive through you, and through Reivik's poetry. Well met, friend.”

During the celebration, Latalya had almost forgotten, that the war isn't over still. All the cheerful townsfolk, the hope in their happy eyes, the perils of the past years almost washed away.

Two days later the small group had arrived in the High Paymaster's boat at Istivin's Crossing, near the capital of Sterich, Istivin, their destination.

“At last we are in Istivin once more. I wonder what awaits us here.”
 

Hypersmurf

Moderatarrrrh...
Thanee said:
When they met Grintur, son of Grinnur, Latalya told him that “Your father's legend will stay alive through you, and through Reivik's poetry. Well met, friend.”

"And be sure of treating that hammer well," Reivik adds, the haft of his own great sledge resting easily in its groove on his shoulder. "Grinnur carved his way into history with it; perhaps you'll follow him, eh? His name will inspire many to greatness in years to come, I think."

"What do you think, One-Shot?" he asks the ranger. "Will they have named an inn in honour of the duel?" He winks. "'The Paladin's Rest', perhaps?"
 


What else brings you to Istivin? What do you know about Istivin and its inhabitants?

JAMES HEARD:
[SBLOCK]Through the grapevine you have heard that Marchioness Emondav has set a deadline of the end of the year 591 CY, for all land-holding nobles of Sterich to make a claim for their land at court in Istivin. Many of the nation's barons died defending their lands and fell into financial ruin when they abandoned their estates. As such, the reclamation has brought with it great confusion over who is and isn't a noble of Sterich, with unknown heirs and cousins of cousins coming forth to claim title and lands left behind by their departed or missing kin. Adding to this confusion is an influx of many minor Keoish nobles (mainly second sons and scions of bankrupt houses) who contributed troops and treasure to the liberation of Sterich and who now seek repayment through grant and title to improve their own fortunes. Istivin has become a gathering point for opportunistic nobles both genuine and fraudulent.
Into this confusion has come an influx of adventurers and profiteers seeking title and lands. Some of these profit-seekers are little more than common thieves, and more than one "baron" has been found knifed in an alley by the morning patrols.
OOC: What exactly you do with this information, and what the status of your ancestral land is, is up to you.[/SBLOCK]

THANEE:
[SBLOCK]Karri Velthundle, Marshall of the Sterish Cavalry has extended an open invitation to you to join her as an instructor for her forces. You met Marshall Velthundle, a sylvan elf originally from the Oytwood, during the war and were very impressed by her. She has been Marshall of Sterich for over 200 years, and has been offered the role of general commander by a succession of Sterich's rulers, but she has always refused, preferring to concentrate on her passion and combat specialty: light cavalry. Velthundle's tactics combine horsemanship and magic, and the ranks of her renowned mounted order swell with multiclass fighter/wizards and fighter/sorcerers. They reside in West Citadel, near the Trade Gate.[/SBLOCK]

SEETEN:
[SBLOCK]You have heard from other clerics and acolytes of Mayaheine that the church of the Maiden's Shield in Istivin is very worried that something is seriously wrong in the capital. None of them can exactly put their fingers on it, however, and just confess to a general uneasiness. The head of the Maiden's Shield is a recent high-profile convert to the faith from the temple of Pelor in Keoland, and has been in Istivin for less than a year.[/SBLOCK]

HYPERSMURF:
[SBLOCK]The dwarven Council of Princes (located in Istivin)has sent a decree that much land is available for "homesteading" in the Crystalmists and Jotens. Many of the sites are still overrun by giants or other monsters, of course, but that shouldn't stop a dedicated dwarf, should it?
The Council in conjunction with the Union has also spread the information that the entity known as the "Red King" still controls the glacier that is the headwater of the Devish river. This glacier is also the location of a number of dwarven holds and mines. Any information about who or what this Red King is would be greatly appreciated.
A rumor has existed for years that the original adventurers who defeated the machinations of the drow and their giant stooges stole a powerful weapon known as the Axe of the Keeper from a giant's den. This axe later disappeared and no one has been able to find it. A few of the original party are rumored to still live in Istivin.[/SBLOCK]

SCOTLEY:
[SBLOCK]On a previous adventure you heard the tale of a magical bow of some power, which was found in the Demonweb Pits and then lost by the group of adventurers who defeated the minions of Lolth 14 years ago. You've heard that there are members of this group still living in Istivin, one of whom is now the Captain General of the Istivin Watch.[/SBLOCK]

RANGER RICK:
[SBLOCK]A former member of your spy network has passed you a message that he has recently relocated to Istivin and has become involved with a group calling itself the Society of the Vigil. He invites you to come join him and once again make common cause against those that threaten the security of the Sterish state.[/SBLOCK]
 
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Ranger Rick

First Post
As the people came by George politely accepted all of their acceptance. Many remembered his organization of the relief boats. When asked for his name he decided to give these people his birth name, “Thonthonudainhim.” Many nodded blankly and George slipped away.

George came across Grintur, and talked not about the past, but how Grintur shall be a modern leader and how the Gods had prepared the past so that the entire world can be ready for him. George discussed only the future and how he was glad to be with the new leader in a new world order.

OOC Isn't Istavin between the keep and Fetila?

Having not remembered Istavin for long was very disconcerting. When the boat picked up it’s cargo, George tried to find out what it was. Hearing the talk of generic supplies did not satisfy his curiosity. George felt that something was not correct. He should have thought about Istavin. After all, it played a large part of his adolescence. To sail past the town and than back track was also concerning him. George’s curiosity was becoming unhealthy. When the time was correct, George went to open the crates to see what was in them.
 

Scotley

Adventurer
Morley arrived on his old sturdy warhorse the every present dog loping at his heels. He had taken the time to have a shave and haircut as well as a new overtunic for the occation. A far cry from his more raggedy appearance in times past.

Hypersmurf said:
"What do you think, One-Shot?" he asks the ranger. "Will they have named an inn in honour of the duel?" He winks. "'The Paladin's Rest', perhaps?"

"A fitting honor if every I heard one." Morley smiles broadly and grasps the other man's hand. "I see the passing of time has not dulled your wit my friend. It has been too long since we've shared a joke or a pot of ale. Did you here the one about the farmer's daughter who returned home to find a Hill Giant in her bed..." .
 

Scotley

Adventurer
Morley Human Ranger

To Grintur Morley says, "I had heard of your father's passing with much sorrow. I was honored to fight by his side, his name will long be remembered. You come from a fine line and I am sure we will be hearing great things of you as well."
 

Scotley

Adventurer
Morley Human Ranger

Morley sticks close to his old companions during the ceremonies in the village being a little uncomfortable with all the praise.

Now as they ready their mounts at Istivin Crossing he looks at the city. Strange that this place where so much happened as been little remarked in my thoughts. He gives voice to his thoughts, "I have not thought of Istivin in recent times, but I guess as trade returns it will once again be the center of this land. It seems odd that it has been of little importance to me during the years of stuggle."
 

Seeten

First Post
Anastasia Winterheart, Paladin of Mayaheine

Anastasia returns, her warhorse gleaming and barded, her armor beautiful and filigreed, her weapons magical and beautiful, to the site of her first great...adventure as it were...a totally changed woman. When last she was here, her armor was leather, and dirty, her sword was practically rusty, and she was barely out of boot camp. As she pulls her helmet from her head, and hooks it on the saddle, a tear falls from the corner of her eye, for the hardships suffered by the people of Fitela.

As she begins to lead Faith over to the Inn, and hears:

Reivik said:
"What do you think, One-Shot?" he asks the ranger. "Will they have named an inn in honour of the duel?" He winks. "'The Paladin's Rest', perhaps?"

She comments, "Fat lot of rest I got, I couldnt sleep for a week, Stumpy. More like, Ana's Folly, I should say." She smiles at Reivik, and Morley, and sweeps her view over the town.

Anastasia tells Grintur, "I am very sorry for his loss, and I will add a prayer of my own for him. He was an honor to fight beside."

After a day of rest, she looks at her comrades, and states, "The Church of the Maiden's Shield is concerned with the fate of Istivin, and so am I. We must find out what is going on there, and free it from whatever has it in its grip."
 
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Ranger Rick said:
OOC Isn't Istavin between the keep and Fetila?
OOC: You can take a look at the map of Sterich at the bottom of the first OOC post, but I believe the answer to your question, is that the High Paymaster of Zilchus had already visited Godakin Keep before performing his ceremonial duties in Fitela, the party never went by the Keep.
 
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Ranger Rick

First Post
Thanee said:
“In its grip? What is that supposed to mean?” Latalya asks her battle companion curiously.

Hearing Latalya, George shakes his head for a second. Anastasia, I agree with Latalya, what grip are you talking about?
 

Seeten

First Post
Anastasia turns to her companions, "I have heard no news of any sort about Istivin in so long I cant remember the last. It is bound to be something dark and sinister. Isnt it always?"

"Perhaps you have not all had similar feelings, but something is out of place with our capital. I feel it. Mayaheine's clergy feels it. Something is rotten in Istivin, and I plan to find out what." She looks at the gathering, "Who is with me?"
 

Thanee

First Post
Latalya

“What a question...” Latalya replies, grinning.

“I just thought you might know something more tangible about it; you did sound like it for sure. But whatever it is, we are going to find out!”
 

James Heard

Explorer
Mavic's hollow eyes haunted him in the mirror as he scraped off the scraggly beard that he had hidden behind for so many...years? Was it years now? More time than in Niole Dra. More time than delving dungeons with Erold and Gregos. Almost more time than anything really. Meria, father, Gander, Felth, Buren - all gone now. Even little Serolia, all grown up and vanished, fled the manor in Keoland that he'd placed her in and run off with some hedge-knight from the Uleks. It would seem that Mavic's entire family was lost, each of them a better soul than his own, and Mavic still remaining. He frowned. His face was so old now, he looked like father. Father right after mother died maybe, or when the horse kicked him, or when Mavic saw him last. His dark eyes were fixed, unmoving, dark pits of certainty staring wide-eyed with wonder at the sky framed by the blood upon the snow.

"I like it," interrupted from behind him. "It makes you look younger, more noble."

"Shanna," he said, washing away the lather," are the boys all behaving themselves?"

"Aye, I had to box Thom Younger a bit for making eyes at one of the serving lads though."

"Good. The people respect us here now, because we're heroes. Heroes fade from lack of danger. They'll turn on us soon enough if we give them reason."

"Yes, but you let me worry on that. Not everyone can look the part." Her hand, he knew, would draw up unbidden to her ruined face at that bald statement. There was nothing he could do. The giants were nothing if not thorough. Sometimes the magic isn't enough to heal the wounds. Sometimes living is the only cure.

***​
The ceremonies were brief, his lads looking every bit the warriors that they were in their new red uniforms. Mavic had traded days worth of magic for those uniforms, but from the look in his boy's eyes it was well worth it. For some of them it might have been their first new pair of clothes ever, even the grizzled Merres probably hadn't travelled two miles from his farm until he'd joined up with the Reddogs. The mercenaries and opportunists were all dead and gone now, no more 'dogs from the Sea Barons for Sterich! They had all paid their dues in blood and misfortune, it did him proud to see the Larigne colors so. He'd even put on the ridiculous face paint that Shanna insisted upon, "So the people will recognize you." It was amazing to what sorts of foolish things people would latch upon as symbols, what unplanned choices would do to stear your life.

***​
Mavic's eyes burnt with hatred as he reread the letter and he crumbled the offensive parchment in a ball across the room.

"Problem, Mav?" Eshanna said.

"They're still trying to take it away. All away, for nothing!" he said tightly.

"Who?" she inquired.

"Emondav, she's taking claimants upon the manor." Mine! his soul screamed. "She's declared a deadline. We must present ourselves to the court in Istivin."

"Istivin?"

"The capital, surely you -" Mavic paused. "How could we forget about Istivin?"

"My aunt was in Istivin when the war started," Eshanna said quietly, thinking.

"And I spent every spring since I was old enough to part with teats going to court with my father there."

"Something is wrong, isn't it." Eshanna whispered bleakly.

"Very wrong." Mavic replied. "Still."

***​
As the dewfog cleared, Mavic went to each of his men and saw to it that they were tending their mounts as they boarded the riverboat. Shanna was huddled in her customary place deep in the holds where she could "see if anything horrible happened to the boat, first." She was a worse sailor than she was a horseman, he thought wryly.

Others arrived, with surprising familiarity. Anastasia, the paladin, and the lads George and Morely. His heart panged with regret when he recognized Latalya. He would have to tell her about Buren eventually. Even the fat dwarf Reivik waddled up onto the boat. Again. Still.

Like moths to an open flame, he thought. He fingered the long red scarf that Serolia made for him. Is it ever over?

Binding the red trail of color by tossing it over his shoulder, he threw off his hat to meet his companions and help them tend their gear.
 

Scotley

Adventurer
Morley Human Ranger

Morley hides a grin. Anastasia is almost certainly tilting at windmills, but it is good to be back with old comrades... "I'll join you in this Anastasia, perhaps it will lead to something. I've nothing better to do just now."
 

Ranger Rick

First Post
Seeten said:
Anastasia turns to her companions, "I have heard no news of any sort about Istivin in so long I cant remember the last. It is bound to be something dark and sinister. Isnt it always?"

"Perhaps you have not all had similar feelings, but something is out of place with our capital. I feel it. Mayaheine's clergy feels it. Something is rotten in Istivin, and I plan to find out what." She looks at the gathering, "Who is with me?"


George laughs out loud. Anstasia, you sound like an old parinoid fool. Morley is correct you are tilting at windmills. But than I do agree with you. I can not put a finger on it, something in my bones tells me all is not as it should be. As in the past, I will be by your side opening the doors for your mighty charge. Wink. However, before you go galloping off to champion the poor of Istalvin, let us try to find out if we have any reason to feel this unknown evil in our bones. After several years, we may be nothing but war weary. Anastasia, why don't you find out from the good boat captain, what cargo is on the manifest.

OOC I still would like to open a few of these cargo boxes and determine what is being shipped from the keep, via us, to the city. If for no other reason to see if the manifest is different from reality.
 

Ranger Rick said:
OOC I still would like to open a few of these cargo boxes and determine what is being shipped from the keep, via us, to the city. If for no other reason to see if the manifest is different from reality.
OOC: Some of the cargo boxes are open, so it doesn't take much subterfuge to figure out what's inside: weapons and armor (medium and light). From the look of them [Appraise and Knowlege (local) checks] they look to be of fairly inexpensive Keolandish manufacture. In addition, there are some barrels of lamp oil.
 

Especially this early in the morning, the small village of Istivin Crossing is not much to look at. Set on the north banks of the Davish River the center of the village made up only of a few warehouses and a large blockhouse at the banks of the ford. A small, wooden shrine to Obd-Hai and Fharlanghn sits next to the river, made entirely of river stones, and decorated with cuttings from many flowering trees. A common sight in many parts of Sterich, locals stop here before travelling on the river, asking the gods' blessings on their journey. Despite recent rebuilding after the war, many of the structures here are sagging with age, and everything has a very "worn-in" look about it. Moss or ivy covers many walls, and pavement stones have been worn smooth by the passing of countless feet. A large inn known as the "Laughing Trout" sits on the central green, catering mainly to the river trade. Although the inn's recent whitewashing makes it look fairly presentable, there are the tell-tale signs of old damage from the war. Next to the inn is an attached, large stable, and many wagons are parked outside, waiting to carry goods to and from the capital less than 10 miles away. Outside the center of the town are a few private houses where the dockworkers live with their families.

Hypersmurf, James Heard:[SBLOCK]OOC: A bardic knowledge/knowledge (history, local) check tells you that Istivin Crossing is actually the oldest settlement in Sterich, and was the capital before it was decided that Istivin proper would be more defensible. It also has a bad reputation of being haunted, stemming from a bloody incident which occured nearly 200 years ago. A group of miners from the headwaters went on strike against their heavy-handed foreman, an old orc-fighter (as opposed to an old orc fighter) named Brellis Krelont. To minimize the disruption in ore shipments, Krelont agreed to a meeting with the miners at Istivin Crossing. When the miners arrived, Krelont's thugs murdered them and buried their bodies in a mass grave. Krelont reported that he sent the miners packing and that the threat of strike had been quelled by his get-tough policies. He was later awarded with the Wardenship of the Marchlands by the king of Keoland for his efficiency in handling the strike and defending against raids.[/SBLOCK]
 

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