As the Curtain Opens
For generations, Damara was a prosperous northern realm, wealthy in precious ores nestled in the mountain walls. Protected by imposing natural boundaries, with the noble houses united under the rule of a single well-accepted king, there was little cause for unrest. The king maintained an army only to protect the caravans, and to defend the outlying rural communities from bands of raiding goblins or other wretched creatures. Certainly, the scattered tribes of Vaasa could never unite or pose more than a marginal threat. Peace was the norm, and the expectation of future prosperity seemed obvious.
As Damara’s eyes were turned inwards by the deep of winter, they were blind to the rise of the one calling himself the Witch-King and gathering the scattered tribes in the wastes of Vaasa into an army that drove through Bloodstone Pass into Damara with the spring, leaving a trail of massacre and carnage in its wake. For 10 years, the folk of Damara fought back, until the young King Virdin and his armies were betrayed at the Ford of Goliad and the river was choked with the bodies of the fallen.
The great war with the Kingdom of Vaasa has finally ended - the border lands are in the hands of the enemy, the king is dead, the southern lords have been granted a veneer of desperate independence at the cost of a hefty tribute, and a steady stream of refugees has been moving south to find an elusive safety.
You, too, are refugees. Like so many others, the wars have swept you from your homes and families. With autumn drawing in, you and maybe two dozen others of all walks from the peasant family to the mud-spattered merchant, to the deserter, are camped for the night in a burned-out shrine along the King’s Road. In your pocket is the carved shard of bloodjade pressed into your hand scant days ago that has drawn you here.
Note: Each PC was guided to this shrine by a message whispered to you by the carved shard of Bloodjade in your pocket -- a deep green jade with tongues of crimson running through it. In all cases, you were given the jade by a close friend or relative who'd been told to give it to you before they left. Unless declared otherwise, none of you know each other or have said anything about the jade, some of you may have been here for a couple days, others arrived earlier in the day. Any of you who are visibly armed & armored receive wide berth and deference from everyone else but are watched suspiciously.
Season: Late Spring
Location: Along the King’s Road in The Duchy of Arcata
Wherein the heroes meet the mysterious source of the Bloodjade message-stones, journey west to the foothills of the Galenas, and are asked for aid from an unexpected source.
(J) Malcolm, Human Scout whose knowledge of the Galenas has spelled doom for more than one Vaasan patrol and has sworn vengeance for the death of his brother.
(D) Haladwe, Elven Sage and Idhalavar, his great golden eagle companion, travelers from afar looking for the secret to the Witch King's undoing.
(R) Finn, Human minor noble of one of the northern houses (his family's lands are occupied by Vaasan Scum)
(C) Adarius, Dwarven Soldier and smith, who escaped the Barony of Bloodstone after the tide of the Vaasan invasion swept through.
Session 1 Recap
As the story begins, our protagonists find themselves meeting at a burned-out shrine to Waukeen, Goddess of Travelers, Trade, and Merchants -- all called by the mysterious, whispering Bloodjades
They met Kane, a wisened man of indeterminate age dressed in the simple robes of a wandering monk of the Yellow Rose, who they'd never seen before but who called them each by name and claimed to have given them each the Bloodjades (in the guise of trusted friends or family members).
Kane asked the holders of the Bloodjades to investigate the ruined keep of Black Spur to the north, atop a mountain known in the Goblin tongue as Dur Basta in hope of finding clues to the Witch King of Vaasa's goals and the source of his power.
Warning of a danger following him, Kane gave the party supplies for the journey and rode off into the night on a great charger that belied his simple attire.
Adarius used rubble from the half-collapsed roof to reinforce the door of the shrine and prepare a crude early warning alarm should a foe attack during the night.
The protagonists kept watch over the refugees for the night -- the next morning, Malcom found fresh but indecipherable tracks along the road, as if something had paused to consider the shrine or follow along the road in the direction Kane rode.
The party is to leave Kane a message in the form of a glowing shard of Bloodjade at the Inn of the Wayward Pick in Valls.
Valls, the small town and seat of the Duchy of Arcata, is the bustling trailhead to the King’s Road
Haladwe, flying on the back of Idhalavar, scouted Valls from a distance and found it seemingly undamaged by the years of war to the north.
Finn convinced the handful of huddled refugees to leave with the morning, giving them half the supplies left by Kane.
Malcom recalled songs and fireside stories of Basta, a goblin trickster hero.
Camped for the night along the King's Road, the party was attacked by a lone Wyvern out of the darkness and received unexpected aid from a handful of goblin hunters.
Trinkesti, the leader of the goblin hunters, parlayed with Malcom, surprised to find a human that spoke their tongue.
The goblins have an injured human at their camp and have been sent to find a human healer to help or at least take him away. Trinkesti claims the human was attacked by Wyverns, not goblins.
The party warily agreed to come with the goblins back to their camp, with the goblins taking more than a little concern at the presence of the giant eagle.
Journeying through the night, the party arrives at the goblin camp in the foothills of the mountains in the gray light of pre-dawn to find not a simple hunting camp but a distinctly military encampment preparing for violence. The smell of refuse, animals, and cooking fires is thick in the air.