Ashfar

Session 1-1

The Gathering Storm

Rose 11, 2721

Dear friends, Let me tell you a marvelous story. It is the story of heaven come to earth, the epic struggle between the light above and the darkness below. It is the story of of heroes, unwitting, and even unwilling, fighting and struggling to save everything we know.

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The beginning is foggy, even in the memories of the heroes themselves. They arrived at a circle of stone’s shrouded in mist. None of them had any memory of how they got there, but they knew they felt at peace in this place. They looked around at each other, not knowing each other…yet.

Spread around the circle they stood:
-Dernham, a Templar of the goddess Mysila
-The Lady Valadria, Marquess of Farpoint in Caldraza, and Druid of the Forest of Meere
-Tibbers, the Brown Bear companion of the Lady Valadria
-Meldiriel, the Elven Crusader of the goddess Alterran
-Funakoshi, Kenjon of the secretive Eagle Order
-Traben, a gnome skilled in the art of “Asset Relocation”

As they stood around recovering from shock of not knowing how they arrived, they heard a female voice call to them from the mists.

The time of The Equinox is come. My children… I am sorry. I have done what must be done. You deserve answers. I am far… too far from you. You must learn who you are. The land is yours. The people are yours.

This place is sacred to you. Sacred to the stars that you are. There are other places like this. From the time when people remembered. Heed me now. If any of you should fall, then bear him to the stones, and the soul will be able to enter the flesh… once again. But make haste, for flesh that is spoiled can never be made whole.

Know this. There is a force against you. Already it gathers, already it senses your return. Seek The Sword of Starkweather John… it lies near, waiting to be claimed… when that is found, you may begin to understand, to remember.

With those ominous words, our heroes were left alone and confused in the light of a brand new day.

Rose 11, 2721 – 7:00 am

As the mists cleared, they saw they were on a small island very close to a mainland. A sandbar allowed passage to the mainland, and they could see a settlement in the distance. Deciding it was the best place to begin the search for the Sword of Starkweather John, they headed for this settlement.

However, shortly after crossing the sandbar, a black mist arose around them. The mist formed itself into dark humanoid shapes. The shapes turned into fully formed goblins! The goblins shrieked and moved to attack.

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Moments later, it was apparent the dark goblins were no match for the heroes. After a quick burst of healing from Meldiriel, the heroes traveled to the settlement, which they discovered was called Bronce. When they asked a passerby where they were, he told them, Bronce, on the island of Chillhame. Valadria Remembered that Chillhame was an island to the west of Caldraza, and considered to be a “frontier country”.

The group decided to take a short rest at the local inn, the Golden Nugget and try to learn what they could. Traben and Funakoshi were able to gather some general info:

• The headman of the town is Murphy Goodchild. He lives in a large stone house at the west end of the village.
• The local priest is Father Bronson and he uses his own house for religious services, since the church collapsed and the village cannot afford to build a new one. The town worships the gods of the Pantheon. Alteran is the patron god of the region.
• The island where the stone circle stands is called the Tump.
• Other towns around this area have been attacked from time to time by monstrous humanoids such as goblins and orcs. Bronce has always been left alone.
Starkweather John was a hero of old time, who came to the village near the end of his life, to fight some dark enemy about which little is known. He was victorious but the poison in his wounds eventually overcame him. He died in the village and was buried nearby, up in the hills. Nobody ever goes up there these days, as the hills to the west are dangerous – there are savage humanoids up there, which make trouble for the villages round about. Knowing the ways of monsters, the tomb is probably desecrated by now.
• The town was prosperous until the mines ran out of gold; then it was left to rot.
• The mines are not safe. They were dug too quickly, without proper planning. A hundred years or so ago, there was a rainstorm that went on for weeks and the lower levels were completely flooded.
• The ghosts of dead miners now haunt the old mines. Nobody ever goes up there.
• Nobody here has ever heard of shadowy goblins appearing out of the earth and attacking people. They are quite willing to believe in them, however.

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After some discussion of what they learned, Valadria, Dernham, and Meldiriel decided to go check out the tomb of Starkweather John, while Funakoshi and Traben decided to hang around town to try to learn more.

Rose 11, 2721 – 10:00 am

A short hike into the nearby woods was all it took to locate the tomb. The tomb was very basic, Consisting of only 4 slabs of stone. Meldiriel noticed an inscription on the tomb, covered in moss. Valadria was able to magically generate some acid to clean the moss off of the inscription. The inscription, in common, read:

_Stranger, trouble not the bones,
Resting here beneath these stones.
Here lies one of mortal part,
Who held a star within his heart.

And when They come that came before,
The Stars shall fall to earth once more,
To stand against Her might again,
Who rises from Her sleep profane.

And when conspirators assail,
The throne, then these may yet avail,
To cast from his exalted place,
The foe that bears a dead king’s face._

As the group decided to open the tomb, Traben and Funakoshi discovered some more rumors back in Bronce:

• Father Bronson has several illegitimate children in the village. They say he is not really a priest at all but an impostor playing the part of one.
Starkweather John’s tomb has a curse upon it. The last person who tried to break into it was turned into a ghoul. He still haunts that spot to this day.

Opening the tomb, the group discovered that robbers had already struck the tomb. Only a jawbone, femur, and hand remained. However, near the tomb, Tibbers drew their attention to a scene of violence: blood and gore covered the grass, javelins stuck into trees from opposite directions, and 2 sets of tracks leading away from the scene. One of the trails led out into the wilderness, the other seemed to lead in the general direction of the mines of Bronce. The group decided to go back to Bronce to share what they learned and see what the others had discovered.

Rose 11, 2721 – 1:30 pm

Traben and Funakoshi decided they should go to the church and talk to the priest, as they had learned some suspicious things about him. Upon arriving, they saw the the villagers had not exaggerated the damage to the church. Though the walls were sound, the roof was mostly laying on the floor of the church. a few moments after they arrived, Father Bronson arrived and greeted them. Funakoshi, who had been planning to “shake down” the priest, now hesitated because of his initial friendliness.

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After a few moments of awkward conversation, Father Bronson invited them to his home to speak further. However, as they neared his home, the others arrived from the forest. Meldiriel, feeling drawn by a sense of longing, veered away from the others to visit the church. Valadria followed, and Durnham as well. Seeing this, Father Bronson apologized and headed to the Church, saying he needed to greet the faithful.

Meldiriel, arriving first, was overcome by a sense of belonging. She knew this wasn’t just religious conviction (being no stranger to it as a crusader), but this was as if something that belonged to her lay very close. When Valadria and Dernham arrived, she was already moving away the rubble in the center of the ruined church, clearing out an area. Father Bronson arrived, not quite understanding all the strange behavior of the new arrivals.

Meanwhile, Traben and Funakoshi had decided to check out some of the dwellings in town to see if anyone was hiding anything, be it secrets or valuables. The priest’s house showed no signs of hiding places, or even security. The mayor’s house, though having more basic security, also seemed to be plain and empty of secrets. They decided to join the others at the church.

It was a strange scene indeed. Meldiriel looked like she was trying to stab the Flagstone floors with her dagger, having cleaned the central area of the church around her. Father Bronson was protesting to having his church violated, though not too loudly as Valadria and Dernham ran interference. Meldiriel, a crusader herself, kept assuring him that no desecration was taking place, but she still quietly prayed for mercy.

Finally, her dagger caught the latch under the secret flagstone. A hush fell over the group as Meldirial removed the false flagstone, and gasped. She reached in, pulling out a very mundane looking, but very well-cared for sword. Father Bronson looked on with awe. Meldiriel asked, “Did you know this was here? Do you know what it is?”

Father Bronson said he did not know it was hidden here, but he knew what it was. However, they needed to speak with the mayor before he said more. After they agreed, they went and found Murphy Goodchild at the Golden Nugget. Father Bronson whispered an explanation to him. His face went serious and he came up to Meldiriel.

“What do you plan to do with the sword?” Murphy said. Meldiriel explained that she believes it belongs to her and that she planned to keep it. Murphy pleaded with her not to take it, saying the sword was their only protection. He reminded them about the bands of goblinoids that attacked all the surrounding settlements. He said they were only safe because of the sword, and if the sword left, they would be vulnerable again.

As townspeople overheard, they began to watch the exchange, until a small crowd of people had formed. Most seemed to know what the sword was and many seemed to agree with Murphy’s explanation of the protection of the town. Meldiriel asked again, “What is this sword?”. Father Bronson said that it was indeed the Sword of Starkweather John.

As the crowd was murmuring and our heroes tried to decide what to do, a woman came into town frantically asking people something in a hushed whisper. After everyone she asked shook their heads, she noticed all the people standing around. She said, “What’s happened? Have you heard something about my children?” Murphy asked her what she meant and she explained that her sons, Jed and Callum, went foraging early in the morning. They were supposed to have returned by lunch, but now its almost dinner-time and she has seen no signs of them.

The townsfolk were murmuring loudly. The newcomers had spent a great deal outside of the settlement at the same time the children turned up missing. Now, they strolled into town wanting to remove a priceless artifact after digging up the church. Our heroes began wondering how to get themselves out of this mess…

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