Bloodlines of Fate

Winter in Fairmar: Part 1

On the fifth day of the new moon following the first snow of winter, three adventures found themselves in the city of Fairmar. Anna Darksbane an Eladrin Wizard, Peidmondar a Wilden Battlemind and Eolian a Half-Elf Bard. Each for their own reasons, but all seeking honest work. A flier in the town square peeked each of their interest and brought them together at the Boar’s Tusk Inn after sun down.

Malcolm Ash, the friendly owner of Asher Exports, seeking an end to his bandits problems, relayed his tale of woe. The Hand of Black had recently started attacking caravans headed south of the city. He offered to pay the adventures 200 gold to find the bandits base of operation. If they accepted he would pay for their stay in the inn and expect them to meet his driver in the morning at South’s Stable. Upon Malcolm’s departure the group decided to stay at the bar and drink a bit. Where they soon heard a rumor:

“Weapons are hard to come by because of the war, but some how Count Lonerail keeps his men well supplied.”

The next morning they met Ash’s driver at the stables and started the process of packing up a fake cart. While packing they were approached by Barra Seppo, he had heard the group was heading out to face off against the Hand of Black and offered to pay them 800g for the safe return of his adopted daughter Sora Seppo.

The cart ride south was relatively uneventful, save a song to ease the journey by Eolian. Two hours out of the city however, they were attacked by the Hand of Black. Bandits ambushed the cart and were caught off guard by the three adventurers who where prepared for them. A skirmish ensued that saw the party pushed close to their limit, but not broken. The tide was turned though when a cloaked elf, Varis, joined the group.

Upon dispatching five of the six bandits, the last one alive attempted to escape. The party gave chase and soon caught up to and interrogated him. Before his death they learned that the Hand of Black operated out of the Tanner Mausoleum and that Barra’s daughter was being held there as well.

Returning to Fairmar with information for Malcolm, the group was paid their reward and sent to Tomes and Such to speak with Reed. Reed was a able to locate the mausoleum for the group and pass along a map of the Fayhollow. Back at Asher Exports, Malcolm offered the group 400 gold to finish off the Hand of Black. The group took the offer and then the opportunity to rest up at the Boar’s Tusk, before heading out.

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An Afternoon at the Boar's Tusk

Narrator: The trip from Asher Exports back to the Boar’s Tusk is a short one. Two blocks in total through the snow dusted city. Upon approach you can tell why the inn sees the amount of business it does. Despite the cold outside it looks as warm and inviting as a spring day. It’s thatched roof is home to a large stone chimney that billows wisp of slate smoke. Her windows sag just a bit, as though lazing about in their fading years and the door is heavy rich mahogany that looks like it could melt the ice form the poles.

Once inside you all notice that the crowd is thinner than the evening prior. The mid afternoon lull has left the innkeeper with time to rest his feet on a stool while nodding off. Two older gentleman play cards by the hearth and a group of nobles are getting an early start to their drinking for the night.

As you all make your way to the bar the innkeeper perks up at the sight of your group, stands and begins to fuss with something behind the counter. He produces an envelop kept closed with a wax seal and presents it with an outstretched arm…

Reed had his apprentice drop this off for you all not five minutes ago”

Peidmondar: “Ah, we believe it must be of some importance. A voucher for more food and drink, perhaps?”

Eolian: “Sealed envelopes are always full of news. What do you think, ‘Mondy? Thick letter, good news? Thin letter, we’re in trouble? Heavy, clinking, metal contents, clearly intended for me?”

Anna Darksbane: “Any time you want to open the envelope boys.”

Peidmondar: “We will give you the honor.” Peidmondar graciously waves his leafy hand and gestures to Eolian his approval to open the envelope.

Eolian: Eolian’s pupils widen as he takes the envelope into his hands. After a second’s pause, he deftly removes a small dagger from a hidden sheath and slices the envelope open. Removing a single sheet of paper, he scans the message quickly, then takes a deep breath to read aloud to the group. The message reads…

Narrator: “Dearest Guest of Fairmar,

As soon as you left my humble shop today, I set about researching the Tanner Mausoleum further. How such a historical landmark eluded me for so long I haven’t the slightest. In any case, I discovered part of a charcoal rubbing in my records. It appears to be the Tanner family crest. While a blood crest would normal not hold my interest, a pictorial history of an event in Fairmar is also a part of the emblem.

Any information you could bring me on the symbols or if by some miracle you could bring me the actual crest, I would be happy to reward you all handsomely.

Regards, Reed, Master Archivist”

Eolian: Eolian gestures to a table in a secluded corner of the tavern, one that affords a bit of privacy but with a line of sight to the door.

“Since we have no idea what awaits us in the Mausoleun, we should think about a plan of attack.”

Anna Darksbane: “Let’s discuss our plan over a light dinner. We need to make sure we have all of our strength. Oh and something to consider is that it will be nightfall by the time we get to the Mausoleum. That could work to our advantage, since they won’t be expecting us.”

Eolian: The Tavern owner collected their orders and disappeared in the back to prepare their food. A light meal for the heavy work ahead.

Eolian took the longest, and at last pushed his plate away. “So… introductions? How about you, my fine firred friend? What brings you to not-so-Fairmar?”

Anna Darksbane: “Things in my life haven’t really worked out liked I had planned, and I am not ready to go home yet and disappoint my family. So I just need some work and some time until I figure everything out.”

She leaned back in her chair and quietly sipped on her drink.

“What about you?”

Peidmondar: Peidmondar pulls his cloak around his face more to hide further in shadow, trying to retreat from the conversation that has just begun.

Eolian: Assuming Anna’s question as directed at him (because it’s it always about him?) Eolian sighs.

“Not much to tell, really. By trade and talent I am A Father’s Disappointment. O, I can see by your face that that can’t possibly be an avocation, but it’s true. I am the last son of the last son of a line charged with the protection of the East Barony of It-Doesn’t-Matter, just beyond the hills of No-One-Cares. The men in my family made up a line of arcane swordsmen who protected their people from the Dark Forces of Whatever. But that line appears to have died with my father. So here I am, with you, trying to do something the matters, before I am not merely written off from the family books, but irrevocably erased.”

Eolian then glares pointedly at the plantlike creature sitting at his left.’

Anna Darksbane: Anna rotates her chair slightly and tilts her head in Peidmondar’s direction waiting his introduction.

Narrator: Between dinner and light conversation, three hours have passed of the four you all set aside to rest. The tables in the Boar’s Tusk have started to fill with patrons. The way folks keep entering and shaking off their coats and hats you all can tell that the snow has come back and quicker than the night before.

With much attention paid to a new leafy compatriot and very quiet ranger still not forgotten, you all miss the young man two tables over who continues to return his gaze to your troupe. He is smartly dressed in fine blue fabrics, trimmed in amber and seems content to wait for your conversation to end before he makes his introduction.

Eolian: Eolian mutters quietly to no one in particular, “That’s enough flirting, I think,” and pushes his chair back as he stands from the table. In full stride, Eolian walks with outstretched hand to the young man sitting alone.

“Greetings, my azure-clad friend. Eolian Palaver, pleased to meet you. I couldn’t help but notice you noticing us. It’s a shame to drink alone when you can join strangers for awkward conversation, don’t you think? Please. I insist you join us and buy us drinks.” Eolian winks broadly at the young man to let him know the last part was a joke. Probably.

Narrator: “I…um…sorry about that” The young man stands to meet Eolian’s outstretched hand with his own. The hand shake is warm, firm and confident. “Ern Lonerail, son of Count Theodore Lonerail and if you don’t mind I will buy you all that round of drinks”.

As Ern and Eolian walk back to the rest of you, Ern signals to the innkeeper to bring the drinks. “Well then, as I was just telling your half-elf friend here, I am Ern Lonerail. Word about you folks is spreading fast around our city. Taking on bandits and the like. My father, Count Lonerail, could use the help of adventures like yourselves.”

Before Ern can continue his introduction, the innkeeper arrives with five drinks and pass them out amongst you. When he finally steps away, Ern continues. “Now, before I get ahead of myself, I will tell you all that I was simply being courteous. I was planning a more formal introduction, but did not want to interrupt your conversation. I have a bit of a sharp ear too I’m afraid, a skill that comes in handy more often than not. But, I believe these two gentleman were about to introduces themselves to your all first.”

Ern turns an open palm to the seats occupied by Peidmondar and Varis.

Peidmondar: Peidmondar stands with a fluid grace of a growing vine and stretches out his hand directing it at himself then to the ranger, “We are known as Peidmondar and this new found compatriot is named Varis. If you seek to employ I am sure our fine friends here would lend an eager ear and thoughtfully consider any offer you have to make”

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Winter in Fairmar: Part 2

Our party was four now, with the addition of the elf Ranger. Varis, Anna, Eolian and Mondy took rest in the Boar’s Tusk following their first encounter with the Hand of Black. After much food and drink though, they rose to continue the task laid before them. The elimination of Fairmar’s bandit problem at it’s heart. The Tanner Mausoleum, was their destination and as they left the Inn they were met by a chilling winter storm.

It was slow going to the forgotten tomb while in town and near impossible once they exited the city limits. None among them could remember a storm so harsh and early in the winter season. To go from dusting to downfall in the matter of hours almost seemed, unnatural. Morale was high though, fresh from victory they trudged onward until they reached the doorstop of the Tanners. Before entry however, Eolian bid his friends pause and revealed his true nature. He was Phlox, Changeling Bravelord and he had a plan.

The mausoleum was a one story stone structure that was pitch black inside. With a snap of her fingers Anna lit the torches that revealed a stone antechamber to the group. No other door or panel was visible to them and save three stone disk inset in the wall opposite the entrance. Varis was quick to solve the riddle and unearth a hidden stairwell below the floor though. Phlox now set his plan into motion. Strutting brashly down the stairs ahead of his friends he took the visage of a bandit they had killed that morning.

When he was met by a guard on duty at the first intersection, he presented his newly tattooed arm for identification and then convinced the man to go on break. As the guard patrolled off, the changeling ushered his companions into the tomb proper. His luck was short lived however, when the guard returned with a friend and met the group in battle. Unbeknown to them, other events were unraveling not fifty meters done the hall.

A man dressed in black, shackled and badly beaten was being dragged to an unknown location further in the tomb. Shaitan was already working on his escape though, when fate smiled upon him. The two guards escorting him thought their prisoner as helpless, when they left him in a heap to assist their compatriots. He was quickly free of his bindings and joined the fray.

Seeing a third party take up their cause was all the adventures needed to at least trust this new man in battle. When the last of the Hand of Black had fallen introductions were made and Shaitan decided to join the group. From there they searched the sleeping chambers of the bandits and found a room where they had been storing the spoils of their assaults. Making a note to inform the local authorities the group returned to a jade disk they had seen at the tombs entrance.

Inset into the wall was a jade disk about two inches thick and twelves inches in diameter. Mondy adeptly slid his tendrils behind the object and easily pried from it’s resting place. Being the most knowledgeable about the nature of magics earned Anna the task of carrying the family seal. Upon searching the first grave however Anna heard the voice of a ghost in her mind. “Hello little thief, do you make a habit of robbing the the dead?”. Further defiling of the dead found Anna with a bloodied nose after being thrown into a wall by the spirit.

Deciding the best course of action would be to continue further into the tomb, the group now climbed a set of stairs toward heavy stone doors. At the landing before the doors the group was nearly dragged down by shadowy tentacles that rose from the ground. With the option to fiddle with the doors directly eliminated, Shaitan took on a shadowed form and passed through the trap and the doors. On the other side he discovered more bandits and quietly opened the doors for his friends.

Catching the bandits by surprise the party appeared to have the upper hand. Such was the case until both Anna and Varis were struck from behind by the daggers of two Half-Orcs rogues. Quick thinking by the party and even quicker heals from Phlox found them successful. Having dispatched the last of Hand of Black’s lackeys one set of doors now stood before them and their task.

Quietly opening the doors the adventurers discovered a large chamber of graves where a a robed man hunched over a basin of black ichor. The man appeared to be in mid conversation with an unseen voice…

Robed Man: “Master, preparations are complete, but my men are growing tired of simple highwayman’s work”

Mysterious Voice: “Patients child, our time approaches and very few obstacles yet stand in our…”

Mysterious Voice: “It seems you have visitors”

When the robed man realized he was not alone he quickly stood and faced his visitors, introducing himself as Blontug, lieutenant of the Hand of Black. He then threw back his robe to reveal that his entire right arm was missing. As he did so the ichor in the basin took on a life of it’s own. Snaking up the legs of Blontug to form a grotesque pulsing arm of ichor where his limb once was.

Blontug was fast, but the party was faster, they got the jump on him early and thought the battle might be over sooner than expected. The bandit leader had tricks of his own though, filling the large chamber with ichor and disappearing into the liquid. In his absence slime beast were summoned forth to attack his enemies. He then reappeared a final time before his was killed.

Searching the graves sent Anna flying backward into a wall again, this time giving her a mild concussion. Mondy then searched the dead bandit leader and when he first touched the ichor on the body he heard a voice deep in his soul…

Give in to your fear, for hope is an illusion…I come for this world

Taken a back by the voice, the Battlemind steeled himself and searched the body again where he found a copper pendant with a sickle inscribed on it’s face. It was clearly a powerful object, but was bound to the dead leader by dark magics. Further searching of the room finally revealed Sora Seppo, the smith’s kidnapped daughter, behind a hidden panel in the main chamber. The elf collapsed, badly beaten and told a tale of a corrupt father who she ran away from. Given the late hour the group decided to discuss the topic further in the morning.

Finding places to sleep in an old tomb was not easy, but once everyone was down they slept deep. All, but Anna, who took up watch in the hallways of the tomb in meditation. After many hours of silence she was startled by the sounds of flesh and bone being torn apart. She quickly woke Phlox and Monday and went to investigate. When they rounded the corner closest to the sound they were presented with a gruesome scene. A dark ent sat hunched over the body of a dead bandit eating the remains, covered in blood and sinew.

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A Night in the Tanner Tomb

Narrator: The tomb of Tanner has settled once more. The smell of musty air begins to return and dust long dormant has found new places to rest. Inside its main chamber Sora Seppo, young, beautiful and badly beaten collapses against a sarcophagus to drink from a water skin. Between gulps she looks over her motley band of rescuers and addresses them.

“Who sent you?”

When the group responds that it was her father, Barra, the smith of Fairmar, her elation quickly sours. Her face goes from pleasant exhaustion to tempered anger.

“Oh, so you work for that wretch, I’ll have you know I won’t go back to him.”

She glares, looking for hints of your true intentions not only in your response, but in the physical manner in which you give it.

Anna: Anna crouches to be at eye level with Sora. “I can’t begin to imagine what you have been through, but your father seemed to be very concerned about you. Do you mind if I ask why you are so angry with him?” Anna searches through her bag and offers Sora something to eat hoping that would help build her strength back.

Narrator: “The man is a beast!”

Between bites Sora recounts the last ten years of life with her father.

“A decade ago he sought political office through the backing of the merchants unions and failed. Convinced that it was the nobles of the city that had held him back, not his short comings, he sought power through other means. At first it was fairly benign, but eventually he fell in with the cities underworld. Most recently, upon learning that a nobleman’s son had fallen for me, he attempted to broker a marriage between us. Not for my betterment, but in the hopes that he could find a wealthy patron for his aspirations.”

“So I left the city with my boyfriend, someone I now know was a member of the Hand of Black. It was out of the frying pan and into the fire as you can see.”

She takes a moment to collect herself, the tale apparently bring back emotions not yet dealt with. When she continues she moves her gaze past each of you, taking a moment to let her story settle in.

“How much is he paying you all?”

Varis: Varis looks over at her and says, “He offered us eight hundred gold to bring you back to him.” Confused, Varis then asks, “Where do you plan to go from here if you refuse to go back?”

Narrator: The barmaid takes a moment to chew over the large reward offered by her father and responds.

“Eight hundred is far more than I could ever hope to offer you sadly, but if you have any interest in the greater good I would hope that you might let me go.”

A smile full of hope and begging for pity spreads across her face.

“I do have a potential opportunity you might pursue, if gold is your only motivation though. It involves another one of my fathers schemes. The man has many irons in the fire, all of them quite foul I’m afraid.

As to where I would go, Lochden always has work and is big enough to escape any efforts my father might make to bring me back.”

Shaitan: “Or better yet, where do you want to go when we take you back to him. No reason to not collect the reward, and in turn we can remove you away again, with some extra coin to help you on your way to Lochden.”

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