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[/nobr][div class=stoneBackground][div class=stoneText][div class=stoneHeader]Chapter 1: Into the Mists[/div]The lot of you are no strangers. Having banded together on more than one occasion to protect the town of Daggerford. So it isn’t much of a surprise that when the Duchess Morwen is having guests over for dinner, you all are invited. You consider her quite the friend considering how much you have served her duchy over the course of your stay, and the benefits from such a friendship are quite nice indeed.


The night is brisk, the full moon ominously bright as you maneuver your way through the nearly vacant cobblestone streets. Even though the city isn’t the largest, it is normally much more lively, but their superstitions must be getting the better of them. Tugging on your collar you push the thoughts to the back of your mind, making haste. Best not make Ms. Morwen wait any longer than need be.

As you arrive and are lead into the dining hall, the scents of various dishes begin to overwhelm your senses. Eagerly you find an empty seat, watching others file in after you. The Duchess is seated at the head of the table, looking much more distressed than usual. But of course you all exchange pleasantries as she attempts to hide her unease.

You all eat and discuss recent happenings in the town, everything seeming to be alright until the Duchess clears her throat and begins to speak in a gave tone.

“I… don’t mean to interrupt this fine night we have been having.” She begins hesitantly. “But we do have some important business to discuss. The reason I invited you all here tonight was because I have some concerns about a group of wayward travelers that are camped outside of Daggerford’s walls. I first assumed they were harmless, but then I had begun receiving reports about how they were harassing residences of my town as well as visitors for money and wine. Threatening to curse anyone who doesn’t pay what they ask.”

Taking a moment to reach for a glass of wine before her, she would take a generous sip before setting the drink back down and continuing. “I had sent some guards yesterday to try and scare them away, but it appears as if they couldn't’t get the job done. They returned speaking only good things about these travelers, clearly charmed or hexed. I would like to keep this as peaceful as possible… but… they seem not to take to a kind request. This is where the lot of you come in. I have a message I want delivered and I want you to deliver it on my behalf as soon as we finish dining here.”

“If they are not gone by dawn.” Duchess Morwen mutters. “Their wagons burn."[/div][/div]
 
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Garros

New Member
Braid had stopped paying attention to Morwen as soon as his eyes glimpsed the food and drink on the table. He grabbed whatever his long arms could reach. His mouth and stomach could barely keep up. Then Braid gulped down the first tankard of ale. Then the second. Which he followed up with a goblet of wine of which the vintage barely registered on the half-orc’s tongue.

Morwen in the meanwhile had begun to speak. Oh, this seemed important. Braid wiped his mouth with the tablecloth and looked up. She was talking about some annoying folk or something ? The only thing he heard clearly was « “If they are not gone by dawn their wagons burn ». Braid especially liked that part. He raised his half empty goblet.

« And burn they shall ! »

The outlander then downed his cup before walking confidently as only a drunk man can to the door.

«Y’guys coming ? » Braid motioned to his companions, «Let’s go and set something on fire ! »
 

Soltra

New Member
"Now hold on just a minute Braid." Renvir says calmly, slowly pushing himself upwards. He turns to Morwen, putting on a face of concern, "Duchess, I understand that you want these people gone but let us not be hasty. Surely someone with bountiful resources and excellent connections such as yourself, must know more then the fact that these men are not simply travellers."

Renvir takes a moment to dab his face clean with the napkin, before setting it down gentle. "We," gesturing to the party, "are clearly born for your honourable service, so to make sure we do not fail, I think it be fair we require some requisition, in order to ensure the success of such endeavour. Nothing much of course, but a little gold can go far in times like these." During such speech, Renvir approaches Morwen, taking the knee by her side during his request. He looks up her, holding a face with a slight, sly smile.
 

Scylaxu

New Member
Willan's nerves were all a tingle as he walked with his companions to dine with the Duchess. He talked less than usual but, being Willan, still talked his fair share. He hadn't bumped elbows with anyone this high of station for quite some time. He had to remind himself of the years and miles he had passed since his trouble with nobility.

Intimidation and/or politeness coaxed Willan into an attentive stillness when Morwen began to speak. At first Willan felt a bit defensive of of the travelers. More than a few times the local lord has harassed me when I was just trying to pass through. However, harassing the locals is a big no-no. If her suspicions of... wait… is Braid? Yes, that's the tablecloth he's using to wipe his mouth. Willan sighs. He's fantastic to have in a scuffle but gods, he could use a lesson or twenty in etiquette.

Willan’s attention snapped back to what Morwen has just said as she took a long drink of wine. If what she says is true, these travelers have stepped over the line. On the other hand, condemning these folks based on hearsay might be a bit extreme.

Morwen continued, “I had sent some guards yesterday…”. Willan tried not to get distracted by the eating machine in his peripheral. Did she say hexed? Willan shoots a glance at Renvir. The wizard can find if there’s any truth to that. Willan looks dubiously at Morwen as she finishes, “...their wagons burn”.

Following on Renvir’s, “Now hold on a minute Braid.”, Willan waves Braid onward and mouths, “torches, get lots of torches”. That’ll keep him occupied for a bit. Now we need to talk to those guards. Encouraged by Renvir’s boldness, Willan stands up, “And please, dear duchess, allow us to examine your poor cursed guards. As you can clearly see,” gesturing to Renvir, “we are here to humbly serve not only you personally but all concerns within your duchy.”
 

MelvinGoober

New Member
As the party travels across the cobblestone path, Parundar sees the relative emptiness of the city streets and looks up to the full moon. It's just like the day you died, Terrance. He finds himself lagging behind the group and jogs to catch up.

In the dining hall, he sits a bit farther away from the Duchess, hoping to find a moment of distraction so he can sneak a bite of food into his pockets for later. Braid's boisterous toast, "And burn they shall," is the perfect opportunity for a moment of sleight of hand.

Noticing that the rest of the party seems to have begun taking some sort of action, Parundar shovels the rest of his plate into his mouth. After Willan's eloquent words of support, Parundar adds through a mouthful of food, "Yeah, thank you, we'll get to the bottom of this." Feeling as though he didn't do enough, he reaches a hand towards her. Unsure if he should pat her on the shoulder, back, or arm, his hesitation makes him settle for an awkward handshake.
 
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[div class=stoneBackground][div class=stoneText]"I assure you, those gaurds are being looked after, and your usual fee is ready for you upon your return," the Duchess looks down, timidly. It is clear that she is truly afraid of what will happen if this situation is not taken care of. She continues to eat, but only the occasional small bite. When dinner is wrapping up, she looks to you once again, "Please, make haste and convince these people to move on, I don't wish for anyone to be hurt."

After she says this, you all are ushered out of the keep, and you begin your walk down the cobblestone path from the city gate, the biting wind tears at your clothing and armor once more, it howling in the distance- or perhaps wolf was. Nevertheless you all continue onwards, there being no time for superstition.

After exiting the through the main gate and heading towards the hill these visitors are camped on, the darkened night seems to grow darker even with the light of a bloated moon. You see a dozen men and women gathered around a large bonfire. They are in high spirits, a couple of them sing and dance around the fire while others find joy in their seemingly bottomless wineskins and flasks. Three barrel-topped wagons are parked at strange angle with their horses, a half dozen of them, tied to a nearby tree doning bright coats with bangles and tassels.

While approaching the lively bunch, a male human from the group approaches with a wide smile in both his eyes and lips, a younger woman and man flaking him on either side. “Welcome, my friends.” He greets you warmly. “My name is Stanimir. How may we help you on this beautiful night?”[/div][/div]
 

Garros

New Member
The last thing Braid heard was to get more torches.

The very next thing was the very uncomfortable sound of the wind sounding more like a wolf than a phenomenon of nature.

Almost immediately after that the pain set in. The half-orc’s head felt like someone had put a pile of rocks in it. With spikes. Very pointy spikes.

Braid closed his eyes against the light of the bonfire. It’s like those rowdy folk knew exactly how to set him off even further. When the outlander heard someone say « … help you on this beautiful night?”, Braid tried to recompose himself. He leaned against one of the wagons, trying to look as intimidating as possible. Instead he could feel himself losing his balance almost immediately.

When Braid finally got back on his two feet, he crossed his arms again. He wasn’t quite sure if the scowl he tried to put on looked that of a monster or of someone who was trying really hard not to throw up. Honestly he did feel more like the latter.
 

Soltra

New Member
Renvir grips the half-orcs shoulder with one hand, giving it a slight shake while still looking towards the Stanimir. "Excuse my dear friend here, we've had a bit to drink. We saw the fire from further in town and decided to see what was going on."

Renvir takes a somewhat exaggerated glance, looking past the group before them and directly to the wagons. He puts on a fake smile, exclaiming "Dear god I'd want to be friend with whoever owns that amount of wine. Now all I need to hear is that you've got some to spare?"
 

Scylaxu

New Member
Willan puts his scepticism aside. The Duchess is clearly distressed about these people. Her final remarks, “I don’t with for anyone to be hurt.” eased Willan’s worries a bit. He certainly didn’t want to be a part of hurting or killing anyone on behalf of a bloodthirsty noble.

On the walk, Willan talked over the situation with his companions. “Braid, thanks for getting some extra torches but I still hope we won’t need them.” Looking to the rest of the party, “My hope is that this is a big misunderstanding, but I don’t want to be caught off guard if something more sinister awaits us.”

Scanning the drunken visitors, Willan tried to find some sign or indication that these people were the sort to go around putting hexes on people. He wasn’t sure what he expected to find: a big sign that said: Wizards be ye here! There was nothing of the sort.

Turning his attention to Stanimir, "Thanks for the friendly greeting. As my friend here says, we heard there was drink here but to be honest, I was little reluctant to make the trip." Giving an edge to his demeanor, "A few of our neighbors in town are saying they had a decidedly unpleasant experience with your lot. What could have given them that impression? You have the look of honest traveling folk. If I can, I'd like to help you avoid the wrong kind of attention from the Duchess. So, please, tell us what's been going on here."
 
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MelvinGoober

New Member
Hearing Willan say, “My hope is that this is a big misunderstanding, but I don’t want to be caught off guard if something more sinister awaits us," Parundar decides to pull out his drum. On the surface, he wants to appear like a man trying to get the party started. Internally, Parundar is ready in case he needs to support his teammates.

"I hear singing, I see dancing, but no party is complete without..." Parundar pats the drum a few times for emphasis, "some sweet sweet rhythm!" He smiles to the welcoming party.
 
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[div class=stoneBackground][div class=stoneText] Smile unwavering Stanimir nods with a laugh. He claps his hands and two of his companions offer you some wine. “Don’t worry, friends, we have no wish to make enemies of Lady Morwen, as we know that is why you are here. I have a story to tell all of you. First you listen, then we go.”

Important Info.
If you would like to do the optional adventure to advance to level three, decline hearing the story. Accept if you would like to skip it. Remember this adventure is extremely deadly and must be fully completed to earn all the levels offered.[/div][/div]
 

Scylaxu

New Member
Seeing Stanimir is friendly and apparently no fool, Willan breaks into a broad smile, “Ahhh, I see you're well informed and not the pack of drunken simpletons I feared. That's a relief. I was afraid we would have to explain your predicament in very small words.”

Turning to admire the lively atmosphere, “The lot of you certainly know how to enjoy life.” Turning the wine away with a wince, “I appreciate the offer. If I weren't on the job I’d surely love to join in a drink and a song. Merriment in the duchy can be a bit… dull at times. A roaring fire, good wine and a good story sounds like an evening I would dearly love to partake in. It’s a pity this needs to come to an end now that you’ve drawn the attention of our illustrious lady.”

“I understand how easy it is to get on the wrong side of a lady with such… high ideals. Trust me. It's taken careful and deliberate effort to land ourselves in her favor. We’re here to see that her lady’s opinion of you fine folk doesn’t dip any further towards unpleasantness.”

“In a month or so she’ll have forgotten about the whole thing. So do let us know when you return. We’ll help you avoid further entanglements with the duchess and we can enjoy that story over some good wine.”
 

Garros

New Member
Braid nodded gratefully towards Renvir after his intervention. The half-orc took a couple of deep breaths. The throbbing feeling in head subsided a bit. While Willan tried to be diplomatic and Parundar tried to get on the strangers’ good side, Braid looked in his bag for the torches. There were ten of the flame sticks, wrapped with a piece of twine.
Wait, only ten?
Oh Nar Thos, Braid knew he had forgotten something.

Braid looked up to the scene before him. Willan still tried being nice to these witchy wanderers, not mentioning the « burning » part of the duchess’ message.
Maybe the annoying strangers needed to have things explained in a way Braid would understand. The half-orc grabbed a torch and slung his greataxe over his shoulder with his other hand.

« What he means is : No, no stories. You folk leave tonight or there’s going to be a whole lot more people carrying this, » Braid gestured with the unlit torch, « Except on fire. Oh, and with pitchforks pointing at your wine filled bellies.»
 

MelvinGoober

New Member
Parundar, hearing the threat from Braid, begins to play his drum in an effort to lighten the mood and mask the tension of this conversation from the rest of the people around the fire.
 

Soltra

New Member
Renvir after realising his companions wish to take a more direct route, too slightly changes his demeanour. "Now we don't want to cause too much distress, especially to such beautiful young ladies," Renvir says, gesturing to the women at Stanimir's side, giving them a wink. "But to my distaste, it is our job to 'clean up,' you might say, this party of yours. We hope that we won't have to go to great lengths to do so."

"I understand you're a reasonable fellow, let us not make a mess of things, shall we?" Renvir crosses his arms as his tone hints between almost playful and serious.
 
Stanimir nods, his feature taking on a more downcast expression. "I am disappointed, but you must remain in the favor of your lady." He claps his hands above his head, and everyone in his troupe begins gathering up things, putting out fires, and packing up their caravan. "We will be off of the lady's land within the hour." He bows to Stanamir, Parundar, and Renvir respectfully, but avoids Braids gaze entirely. The companions closest to him look at eachother and reluctantly begin helping with the cleanup.

With nothing left for your group to do, you begin walking back to the keep.
Although it seems as if this strange night is not yet through. The night is eerily silent as you near the keep, the scent of blood and gore tainting the moon-scented wind. This makes you pick up the pace along the cobblestone streets, weapons sliding into hand as you round the corner with the keep coming into view. It doesn’t look like where you had dined nearly an hour ago.

The large wood and steel doors appear to be torn open by something rather large, four mangled corpses of guards remained out front. Their armor seeming as if a bull had charged and dented their breastplates. Blood stained the cobblestones out front and the braziers had been extinguished on the inside of the entryway, not shedding any light on the inside of the situation.
 

Soltra

New Member
Renvir struggling to see through the carnage, mostly due to him being human, draws a torch from his backpack before lighting it with a quick bit of magic. As he is grabbing the torch, he exclaims "We might not be lucky enough to get paid for our service it seems. Let us hope that these guards at least wounded the thing, or I fear we may be in over our heads."
 

Garros

New Member
Braid poked the nearest corpse with his greataxe. It certainly didn’t look prettier under the light of Renvir’s magically lit torch.

«Only gone for five minutes… » Braid muttered under his breath.

The half-orc brought the weapon back on his shoulder and turned his head towards the human wizard and his other companions. Braid’s grin was filled with both anticipation and bloodlust.

« Well there's one way to find out friend. Let’s see if we aren’t too late for the afterparty ».

With that, Braid started to make his way inside.
 

MelvinGoober

New Member
"Mmm, after party you say?" Parundar smiles and begans playing his drum with fervor, using his music to provide the point man Braid with Bardic Inspiration. "Just in case, eh?"
 

Scylaxu

New Member
Seeing Stanimir's reaction and the troupe's sudden bustle of activity, Willan felt a bit surprised at how effective he and his companions were at their task for the Lady. Perhaps there wasn't anything sinister here as lady Morwen feared. Seeing Stanimir's disappointment, Willan felt almost sad for the cheerful fellow. If nothing else, Willan and his companions have earned a bit more favor with lady Morwen by persuading the troupe to leave. He was relieved it was resolved peacefully and with what seemed like barely any effort.

Willan was cheerful and relaxed on the journey back to the keep. All that worry for nothing! However, the foreboding silence leading up to the keep quieted his usual chatty self. The hair stood up on the back of his neck as Willan and his companions all sensed something was wrong and sprang into action.

The sights and smells pushed Willan's mind into high alert. Following the lead of Braid and Renvir, Willan fumbles through his own pack to pull out another torch. Parundar's encouraging drum beat helps to calm Willan's apprehension as he lights the torch and follows his companions into the darkness.
 
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The place is in utter disarray. Banner’s hanging from the walls torn and fallen onto the blood soaked rugs. There have only corpses so far, a few common folk among the guardsmen, strange they would be visiting the keep at such an hour. Regardless of this you keep peering into different rooms and down corridors, each in the same awful state. It was almost a if an battle had taken place within these very---


A pain-laced scream echos down the halls, followed by the crash of glass being shattered and a hushed whimpering before silence and the light tapping of a drum fell upon you once more.


The doors of the throne room are thrown open, as if beckoning you inside.
 

Soltra

New Member
Renvir upon hearing the scream, starts to lose his composure, ever so slightly; he hunches his shoulders, his overall appearance seeming more timid and serious than his usual playful self. He stops and faces the throne room, illuminating what he could from his position down the hall. He stands there for a moment before being able to rationalise what he just heard.

"We can't be sure if the thing is still here, let us not rush and end up like the rest of the keep." He says methodically, keeping his eyes focused down the narrow hallway, pushing away the sickening smell out of his mind.
 

Garros

New Member
For a moment, all the carnage made even Braid a little silent. The half-orc swallowed, steeling his nerves. Then he heard Renvir recommending caution. Braid could feel his face flush for a moment.

Braid turned towards Renvir, ready to object to his warning.

However, he saw too late the magically lit torch being put a bit too close to his face.

For a moment Braid only saw specks. The half-orc nodded towards Renvir.

"Uh yes, of course. Let us proceed. Cautiously." Braid clenched with his one hand while wiping his eyes with the other. He proceeded to go in front of the rest of the party.
 

MelvinGoober

New Member
Parundar agrees with his party members' sentiments about caution. He puts his drum in his sack, takes out his crossbow and loads his crossbow with a bolt before following Braid..
 

Scylaxu

New Member
Willan's dread grows as he and his companions make their way through the keep. We were here only a few hours ago. Who could have possibly done this? Willan whispers to his companions, "The guards weren't able to take down a single foe? Who were they fighting?" A horrific scream hit his ears and he instantly knew it belonged to the duchess.

Willan and his companions quickly pursue the source of the screams towards the throne room. The doors are unexpectedly thrown open as they approach and the group freezes. Willan frantically scans the contents of the room as Renvir cautions against a hasty approach and Braid agrees.

Just then Willan sees a figure behind the throne that could only be the duchess. "The duchess! She lives!" Gesturing frantically to his companions, "This is no time for caution!"

Willan throws his torch into the room, draws a dagger and darts in.
 
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