Blane and Drak sat quietly at a table in Perilous Beaver, enjoying their supper in terse silence.
That is until a massive black scaled Dragon Born, and its Githzerai companion, menacingly barged into the inn and headed directly to their table.
Black scale rudely, yet with sinister intensity, asked the duo if Lord Targus could be trusted. To which Drak replied that if Targus betrayed them, he would soon be in the company of The Raven Queen. Black scale smiled viciously.
The joy and excitement that Blane felt about traveling with two death worshipping Dragon Born, and Githzerai that acted like a Githyanki couldn’t be measured. It really couldn’t. Sometimes it just wasn’t good to be a bard.
Never the less Blane did his duty and asked the newcomers the ages old questions of what’s your name / what’s your class. Black scale said his name was Cataan, “Locksmith for Hire.” With a drunken belch the Githzerai said something that sounded like Frank, but turned out to be Ren / Psion.
The next day Lord Targus’s Personal Honor Guard began their noble and dutiful quest to the Castle Of The Ages. All for the low low cost of 5 Gold a day each, plus expenses. Heroes for hire, are heroes none the less.
Shortly into their journey Cataan brought the Honor Guard to a halt. He had spotted two travelers surrounded by three rabid Dire Wolves. Cataan asked Lord Targus what he wanted the Honor Guard to do. Before he could answer one of the travelers turned into a small wolf, and began to counter attack the three Dire Wolves. Lord Targus sighed and told Cataan to save the travelers. Then inform them that they were in his debt, and therefore in his service.
The battle was quick and bloody. Drak cleaved the first dire wolf in two with his great sword. Another sacrifice paid reverently to The Raven Queen. Ren push the second one into a tree with the power of his drug addled mind. Leaving it in a crumbled heap upon the forest floor. The final dire wolf suffered the greatest though, as Cataan ruthlessly and repeatedly stabbed it with his tiny, tiny dagger.
With the dire wolves slain, the small wolf then transformed back into an elf; and introduced himself as the Druid Braig Belegorn. His companion, a Half Elf, identified himself as the Ranger Erogoren. Blane then proceed to properly greet his kinsmen, when he was cowardly (yet ineptly) stabbed in the back by Cataan. Who in turn stated that it was Lord Targus’s job to do the talking. Lord Targus, with visible annoyance, told them to stop acting like spoiled children and get back on the road.
And so the journey continued, until the Honor Guards path was blocked by a decrepit old woman and her pointy stick (which may or may not have been a quarter staff). The woman claimed this was her toll road, and that all who traveled it must pay her 100 gold. Targus leaned his head out of his coach and demanded to know what the delay was this time. He was outraged by the woman’s presumption. He was the lord of this land, and above such things. He ordered his Honor Guard to “kill the bitch.”
Taking pity on the helpless old woman, Blane tried to reason with her, and most generously offered her 1 gold per person. From inside the woods a terrified girls voice called out to them to just pay the old woman, less they share her terrible fate.
The crone glared and a fierce burst of flames erupted from her gnarled hand and hurtled towards the Honor Guard, hungrily engulfing them. Targus’s champions though, are not so easily bested. The wizard woman had drawn first blood, but the Honor Guard would draw last.
Drak eager for a challenge worthy of his skill struck valiantly, but futilely, with his mighty blade. Ren attacked the crone with the raw physical power of his mind, only to fail as well. Cataan struck her true though with his tiny, tiny dagger.
The crone responded in kind by launching a mystic cloud of daggers viciously at Cataan, who cried out more in rage than pain. Braig transformed once more into a wolf, but the crone merely danced around the strikes of his claws. Erogoren raised his mighty bow, and successfully unleashed a stream of arrows upon the crone. Who staggered back in agony, only to find Draks great sword eagerly waiting for her. Ren saw his chance and victoriously lashed out at her with the raw telekinetic power of his mind. Enraged the crone unleashed the most devastating of all wizard spells upon him, the dreaded Magic Missile. Blane saw his chance and ended the wicked wizards life with his Guiding Strike power, his sword cleanly taking off her head. Sometimes it was good to be a bard.
With the evil wizard now the slain, the Honor Guard turned its attention to her captive. The girl mumbled her name every time it was asked. The best anyone could make out was Gregoria or Greggor. That couldn’t be right, could it? Lord Targus couldn’t have cared less, and informed her that she too now worked for him.
The rest of journey to the port city of Serentalis was quit uneventful. Lord Targus informed his Honor Guard that Rothgar would procure them rooms at the inn he normally used when in this city. The stay at the inn was quit relaxing and refreshing for the Honor Guard; well for some, more than others. Cataan tried a local brew that allowed him to hear the thoughts of those around him. The experience turned out to be more annoying, and less profitable than he hoped it would be. Having to listen to humanoid voices was bad enough, but listening to their alien thoughts was far worse than he had ever imagined. The drunkard Ren tried the same local brew, and promptly fell to the filthy bar floor quite unconscious. When he awoke the next day and took his first swig of the cheapest swill available, he discovered to his horror that the taste was so repugnant to him that he had know choice but to expel it. He then tried the entire cornucopia of ales and spirits the inn possessed, only to suffer the same fate each time. The curse of sobriety had finally found Ren, and he found it wanting.
After breakfast Rothgar informed the Honor Guard they would be leaving on a pirate ship that Lord Targus had booked passage on. In Lord Targus’s mind it saved time to pay the pirates up front, rather than waste time dealing with their futile attempts on his person and fortune.
When the Honor Guard boarded the vessel Blane was struck by soul shattering beauty of the Pirate King’s daughter. He had met many beautiful women in his travels, but never before had he seen her equal. He wondered if she could truly be human, for how could a mere mortal posses such splendor and grace? And then her eyes met his and the world faded away.
Only to come crashing back in as the Pirate King entered his daughter’s cabin, to find Blane and his daughter physically and spiritually consummating their epic and true love. The Pirate King called for his men to slaughter Blane and the rest of the Honor Guard. Cataan and Drak hungrily prepared themselves for the coming slaughter of the pirates before them; while Braig surrounded a random pirate in a circle of fire. Yes, the druid lit the ship in the middle of the ocean on fire. To be fair though, he had never been on a ship before; let alone one in the middle of the ocean.
Using his bardic Words of Friendship power, and aided by his fellow half-elf Erogoren, Blane was able to resolve the pending conflict by making the Pirate King see that he was merely aiding the King’s daughter in her desire to provide her father with a worthy male heir to his vast and mighty fleet. Now knowing their noble goal the Pirate King ordered his men to stand down; and for Blane and his daughter to immediately continue most vigorously in their endeavors to provide him with a male heir for the rest of voyage. Indeed, sometimes it was very good to be a bard.
Cataan went back to his quarters disappointed, he had so been looking forward to sending a few worthless stinking humans on their way to the Raven Queen; as well as relieving them of the gold they no longer would have a need for. Meanwhile, Braig and the pirates struggled, successfully, to put out the fire he had started.
The pirate vessel, its mission to transport Lord Targus now completed, docked at the port city Mastrom. A city known for two things: 1) selling candles in every shop, and 2) being solely populated by a rare peaceful sect of the Clerics of Vecna. A fact Cataan and Erogoren were unaware of.
Cataan stealthily followed Erogoren into one of the shops. During their terse conversation they noticed the symbol of Vecna that the shop owner wore, and began to question him in a manner he found most threatening. The Cleric unleashed a mystic fox to warn the others of his order. Cataan attacked the shop owner, but the shop owner was able to escape his fury and ran for his life. Erogoren gave chase and fired two arrows at the fox, only to watch them pass harmlessly through it. Soon enough the church at the heart of the city bells sounded, and all the clerics of Vecna within Mastrom sought sanctuary within its walls.
The Honor Guard then gathered together in the town square. Seemingly out of no where a dwarf Warlord named Arlin walked up to Erogoren and said he know he would find his old friend here. How that was is unknown, as only days before Erogoren had been on another continent. Suddenly the churched bells silenced, and its doors opened; from them emerged a tall gaunt, yet visibly powerful, middle aged human male. He strode forth towards them boldly with grim determination, and demanded to know the meaning of this assault upon his city. Cataan, ever loyal follower of the Raven Queen, futility attempted to end the cleric’s life with his tiny, tiny dagger. The cleric responded in kind by engulfing Cataan within a gout of heavenly fire. Blane reasoned with the cleric, letting him know that his friends had wrongly believed that these clerics had belonged to that other sect of Vecna; the chaotic evil one, not the lawful evil one. The cleric gave them one hour to leave the city. At which point Lord Targus’s noticed the dwarf, and said to him with disgust “Welcome to the Tribe.”
Lord Targus’s Honor Guard continued on their journey until arriving at the city of Clumor, only to find the once thriving metropolis a burning ruin. It was then the sweet yet sickening smell reached them, and Cataan smiled; for he recognized it as the scent of burning human flesh. Upon reaching the town square the Honor Guard discovered a circle of 9 pikes fitted with severed human heads. A sign, with the royal symbol of the Prince, declared death to all traitors.
There was debate among the Honor Guard as to who really might have done this deed. It could have very well been at the orders of the Prince. Or one of his generals may have done this without the Prince’s knowledge. There was even the possibility that the Prince was being set up. Then again the people Clumor may have indeed tried to betray the Prince in some fashion, and paid for it with their very lives. When the Honor Guard reached the Castle of the Ages, perhaps they would find the answers they sought, only time would tell. For posterities sake let us clarify in no uncertain terms that no members of the Honor Guard did loot a city that had already been sacked and pillaged, that just would have been silly.
“The Tribe” continued on their journey until Erogoren and Arlin were flung through the air by a concealed catapult into a giant lake of blue ooze. At which point a gnome, by the name of Farlhagen, stepped out of the trees and declared that it worked; and that there was no hidden gnome city nearby. Let’s just say that some gnome punting may or may not have occured at that point. More importantly Gregoria/Greggor went up to the gnome and whispered something in its ear. Farlhagen promptly shouted out your a man! Gregoria/Greggor explained he was under a curse, and had asked the Farlhagen to help restore his manhood. Farlhagen took Gregoria/Greggor back to his shop; and after a great deal of clanging, hammering, and other noises he produced a metal steam powered organ for Gregoria/Greggor. That being said it wasn’t quite what she/he had hoped for.
One would have though this enough reason to get as far away from the gnome, let alone an entire city of gnomes, as soon and far as possible. Cataan had other plans though, and forced Farlhagen to take him to the hidden gnome city. Against Blane’s advice the Tribe grabbed on to ropes hanging from a mine shaft cart attached to tracks on the walls, and rocketed forward through the air towards the hidden gnome city far below them. On the bright side there was a giant red splotched sponge beneath them…