So, just to keep my creative juices flowing, I am going to chronicle the campaign out as we go, switching between the player characters perspectives as I do so. Here’s part one. Feel free to follow my blog for the rest.
Sidebar: I did not want to kick this off in an Inn. That is SO cliché I just had to avoid it for the adventure hook.
Kick back and enjoy this first tid-bit.
Sir Arius The Seeker…
Our story did not begin in a tavern or inn as so many other great stories and legends do. It began with the sound of WhiteRock’s temple bell tolling. It usually only tolled for services or for celebrations. This…this was a bell of warning – rapid, shattering the calm. Something was wrong.
Being the best and the brightest in the village, we knew we had to answer the call. The locals had already overblown the “Great” Owlbear incident at the mine, weaving it into some sort of epic battle. For a bunch of a farmers it must have seemed that way. We certainly didn’t stop the growth of the story over time – it was always good for another round of mead. If the locals want to think of us as heroes – so be it. As a holy warrior, I do not claim victories that are not mine – and it was my blade that finished the beast. If the retelling by others makes out the beast to be twice the size as it was, it is not my place to humiliate the liars. The One God will do that.
We arrived at the village square to see a magnificent steed of white…a horse of a Gray Rider! Dark maroon blood splatters showed on its ivory main. The burgomaster saw us and cut through the gathering crowed. The pudgy man was clearly shaken. “I’m glad you’re here. A Gray Rider has come. Follow me!”
Gray Riders came every now and then, usually passing through. There was an urgency in the burgomaster’s voice that told us that something was wrong. The crowed parted as he led us to the Temple of the One . I crossed myself as we entered – it was the way of my Order – a member of the Invisible Ones, for me, almost a reflex. I saw Theren and Althalus cringe a little bit as they entered. Althalus liked to joke, “I haven’t been hit by lightning yet when I enter the Temple.” It wasn’t as funny as one might think. He had made a pact with the Old Ones and for that I could not forgive him. He rarely spoke of it, but we all knew that at one point it would consume him if I was not forced to kill the warlock first. Theren had his own reasons for not wanting to go in…Druids and the Church had been at war for decades.
The air in the altar stung of incense and a whiff of rotting flesh. The Gray Rider was laid out on the altar. His right arm was severed mid-forearm and corruption had set in. You could smell the rotting flesh in the air. Whatever had taken the arm had not done so cleanly. Black and gray skin was seared and peeled back under the swelling. The rider was wet with sweat and dust from the road, his breathing ragged. The priest shook his head. “I have tried to heal him but it will not take. Whatever burns in his blood is beyond me.” I have seen death before, and it was stalking this rider.
Who would dare attack a Gray Rider though? That was an act that was akin to high treason. Either it was a fool or someone with a darker purpose.
Theren stepped forward to help but the priest stepped between him and the injured rider. “I’ll have none of your heathen ways in this temple. Save your herbs and weeds and wild magic for someone else.” Theren glared at him but stepped back. Today was not the day or the place to setting the disputes between the Druids and the Church.
The rider’s breath was strained. “I was ambushed in the Gellesian Fields…” he said as more of a sigh than anything else. “They got my pouch – and most of my arm with it.” There was a cough and a hint of crimson on his lips
“Who got you?” Bor probed.
“A woman – a bandit,” he managed. For a moment he seemed to slip to unconsciousness – only to fight his way back to the land of the living. “A message…for Lord Sklaver….important he get it.”
His eyelids fluttered as he fought to form the words. “You must recover it. Complete my ride-” then he exhaled, and a death rattle came with his last breath. All that filled the air around him was the smell of rot from his horrific arm wound. For a moment, there was silence, shattered with the wail of his ride in the court yard. Legends speak of the bond of Gray Riders and their mounts. Clearly the magnificent mount knew that his bonded partner had died.
Paladins of my blood take such requests, from the death bed, as seriously as holy quests. I looked to the others and saw that feeling of dread they shared. Althalus looked at me dead in the eyes and muttered, “We’re screwed.”
I wanted to strike him for speaking with such disrespect in the temple but the wily warlock had only spoken what we all were thinking.