Fate Comes to Call

A Story

So you want to hear a story right? Well, I will tell you a story of a person I knew. She was a young woman who lived in a small village. She was a paladin of Sarenrae and was the most beautiful person I ever laid my eyes upon. She was cute and the nicest person in that town. She had a strong sense of justice. She had so much charisma, she brought a smile to that While in that town, a series of unfortunate events happened. Her closest comrades in her order died. But that wasn’t the worst part. They were resurrected from the dead and were causing trouble in the town. She saw what happened to her former companions and went into despair. She buried them and gave them a proper rest. She insisted she find the man who had done this to her friends and her village. “The Lord of the Lands” is what they called him. None utter his name without consequence. She stormed up to the castle, not listening to reason. What was once resolve became revenge. She rode up to the front gates with rage unbound. The paladin used her holy powers to slaughter through the undead horde waiting for her inside. She fought courageously until she found her mark. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t know the dark powers that were pulsating within this monster. She was dispatched in an instant. Perhaps barely alive even. But that is what makes it all the worse when he stuffed her in that oven. He cooked her alive. She was probably screaming for someone to help her. I wished I could’ve arrived in time. I wished I could’ve helped her in her quest for justice. I wished she could’ve seen our group slay “The Lord of the Lands” and avenge her. I wish for a lot of things. Her and I didn’t really know each other and exchanged a few words but I wished I got to know her better. That’s my resolve. One day, I shall bring her back from the afterlife so that I can see her once again to know her better. She has made me a better person overall. Her name was Ashlynn.

Jolias slumps back and goes into a pensive mood. A mood he rarely shows. He contemplates what he could’ve done to change the outcome of such a wonderful person.

You will be missed, Ashlynn. Someday I will bring you back. But in the end, would you want to be brought back without your friends? Would it be tragic to come forth from the darkness? I won’t know now but I will know the answer soon….

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The Life and Times of Axe
The story refined

I am not sure if you’re gonna be interested in all this, but… well, we have time to kill. I was born in the Old World, in a place called the Timberlands. I lived on a farm, with my family and Elm. Elm’s a Dryad, and— well, that’s not actually her real name, it’s (Axe says a long word in fey that translates generally to strong-roots-speaks-to-humans), but for the sake of keeping it simple she goes by Elm. My grandfather met her when he moved into the area, and agreed not to chop down the nearby trees in exchange for her protection. All of us in the family were friendly with her, but I spent a lot more time with her, working on my scrimshaw and just sharing the same space.
Everything changed for me when we had the drought happen. I’m pretty sure it was actually vengeance from the local fey, since it all started when some loggers came to town and clear-cut some of the forest, trying to provide siege weapons for some war or another. We were fine, because of Elm’s protection, but everyone else in town was having a rough time. There was this one guy named Roland, a bit of a drunk, who decided that he would take out his frustrations on us. He came to our farm in the evening one night with an axe. I was sitting up with Elm, like I often did, when Roland arrived. I tried to stop him and got knocked out for my troubles. My third eldest brother— David, the worst hunter of the lot, but a clever speaker— came running at her screams. Roland was chopping at Elm— she couldn’t do anything to stop him, not really, the drought had exhausted her pretty much entirely. He tried to stop him, but got knocked down, and then Roland took the axe to his leg. He’s never walked well since, really. That was what stirred me. I saw red. I’m not really sure to this day how I managed to knock him over, but once I did I grabbed his axe and drove it into his skull.
There was trouble from that, but with David’s testimony I was declared innocent by the local lord. I even got to keep the axe, mostly because Roland’s family didn’t want it. I made a decision there— I would use it, change it from a tool of murder to a tool of protection. (He gestures to his own axe, at his waist.) ‘Course, by this point I’ve replaced the haft… 3 times? And the head twice. But it’s still the same axe, just like I’m still the same person who used it that first night. Improved, but still the same thing.
After that, I knew if I wanted to change the axe I’d need to go out into the world. My older sister, Sylvia, left when I was about 10 and on the occasions we’d seen her since it looked like it did her a world of good. I decided to follow in her footsteps— I trained, and became a mercenary. My first job was in the Oaken Wolves, a company run by Roger Keenblade. That’s where I got my name— Roger had a habit of refusing to learn new people’s names until they survived for a while, and eventually pretty much everyone grew to appreciate the nicknames he gave them. He called me Axe, because… well, it’s kinda obvious. I grew strong in the Wolves, learned from them, bloodied myself a dozen times over. But it was only a few years before Roger finally passed— old age, of all things.
The company split after that. I moved on to another— the Silver Swords, a group that served the interests of nobles. I wasn’t really well liked there, but it was really good money. I just didn’t fit the polished presentation of the group— to individualistic, even then. I had friends though, and it was good for a while.
Then the Eastlake incident happened. Usually, our jobs consisted of dealing with bandits that were giving nobles trouble, or more often working as bodyguards. However, this time one of our repeat clients had a special job for us. There was a revolt in his territories, in a town called Eastlake, and we were to put it down. I was uneasy about it, and most of my friends were too, but we were under an ironclad contract. I’m not proud of that week. It was hard, and bloody, and I killed a lot of people that didn’t deserve it. All they wanted was for the bastard noble who hired us to not bleed them dry with taxes. They fought hard for that, and they lost. I left the Swords after that, and so did most of my friends. I went home, did some soul searching, and decided to set off for Siendart.
I got over to the continent by signing up with the Crimson Crows. Honestly, not the group I would usually run with, but I managed to get a short contract with them and I could handle a bit of violence as long as it wasn’t anything like Eastlake. Plus, if I wanted to leave, I could have kicked the asses of pretty much everyone in the company save the captain, and with him it was about an even fight. I was saved that in the worst way possible— a hurricane hit as we were making the passage. I don’t know if anyone else survived, but I managed to make it, clinging to a chunk of the ship and floating my way to the land near Gonost. From there, I hunted to survive until I made it to the port, and stayed there for about a month, hunting and carving trinkets to make a living. Then these lunatics showed up and I signed on mostly to escape the boredom, and I’ve been living the mad life ever since.

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Backstory

Dakras takes out his Viola and begins to play small background tunes to complement the stories of the rest of his group. Once it is his turn to tell his tale he takes a moment to retune the instrument to his specifications.

“Well, I may as well make this good since it’s the first time any of you have heard it.” He begins to present his background starting at his childhood. “I doubt any of you have heard of it, but I grew up in the tiny village of Sleetborn on the edge of Tescanath, bordering Espil…. At this point I doubt even the ashes of it remain… But anyway, due to our locations and, I suppose you could call it squalor, we were widely ignored by everybody, nobles, taxers, everybody. That is except for border marauders every few years. Generally, the raiders were either turned away by the hardened residents wielding farming implements; or if the marauders were particularly skilled or numerous they would kill a few people, take what little luxuries we had and depart.” He looks down and lets out a small chuckle “Now that I think about it, I probably have more value on me at this moment than there ever was in the towns entire history.”

“One day however things went a little different… I must have been, oh maybe 7 or so? I don’t know if it was a foreign noble looking to add some extra land to his holding, a warrior wanting to add extra glory to his name by conquering some backward village nobody had heard of, or any other numerous possibilities. The end result was a larger, more skilled, and better-equipped group of invaders than ever before. They didn’t accept our surrender and continued to cut down anybody they came across. My family took refuge in our meager home, praying we would be overlooked.”

“We had no such luck, our door was kicked in just like everybody else in the area. My father put up a valiant fight, but in the end, he was a farmer, not a soldier. He bought enough time for my mother to attempt to hide me and the rest of my siblings. Some of us were under beds, others in the single wardrobe, just anywhere that could fit a body. Surely not all of us would have survived but if we remained silent perhaps at least one or two of us could have lived.”

“But one of my elder brothers could not restrain himself, the intruders turned their attention to our mother and he burst from his hiding place brandishing a woodcarving knife. He was able to take one by surprise and killed him, but then the remaining soldiers grew furious and brutal at the loss of one for own. Eventually, we were all tore from our hiding places and killed, but they found me last.”

“I will not attempt to embellish the story by claiming I somehow fought them off or went quietly to my fate. No, I cried and screamed for help from anybody, even though I knew there was nobody else alive to hear me. However it appears the dead could, the first to rise was my father, ever vigilant to danger to his family. As he fell upon the closest foe, his own murderer, the rest of them began to rise as well. Some of them with deep cuts into important body parts, some with caved in heads, it did not matter they all stood and fought.”

“I quickly scurried back into my hiding spot, and the screams rose once again. This time though the screams were from the soldiers, unsure what was happening. For once having such a large family was to my benefit” He cracks a solemn smile “Instead of fighting for food or clothes like in the past they now were working together for one purpose. They moved faster and were stronger than they were in life, and blows seemed to have no effect on them.” He has a hint of pride when speaking of their greater physical capacity, replacing the hollow sadness from before.

“Once the soldiers in our home were slain everything was still for a time. A few more groups came to try finishing the job but after a few more soldiers fell they eventually stopped, opting to just avoid the house and the horrific inhabitants. I do not know how I managed to perform this feat, or even if it was truly me.” His eyes turn to his holy symbol

“I remained in hiding for a number of days, I do not know how many, fearing that if I emerged that my defenders would turn into my assailants. Luckily the man that came to be my master came across the village investigating the smoke and carnage, just before I likely would have died from hunger and thirst.”

“From there I was taught the ways of the world and how to handle my apparent magical ability. Ironically even after leaving my small village, I remained secluded to the world as a whole due to the taboo nature of my abilities in the old world. From there my life was mostly boring in comparison, moving from town to town to city. I learned some mundane skills such as cooking and instruments to make myself useful and bring in some spare coppers. The only exciting events being the occasionally ransacking of a cemetery or old battlefield, and escaping from a hideout before a raid due to my master receiving a timely tip-off. From there It was time to try my own hand at surviving in the outside world. There was certainly more I could have learned from my master but in his view, life has more meaning by going at and having one’s own experiences rather than spending all of it as a student under another.”

“From there my master got word of a group heading to the new world and fabricated some references to get my passage secured. The rest of it is known to all of you”

After a couple of moments of silence, he speaks a small follow up to the tale “At some point in the future, if possible, I would like to revisit my old home and retrieve the remains of my family. I don’t know what I would do with them at the moment but I feel as if I should at least do something.”


When telling the story Dakras expands upon some of the close calls such as when a gravekeeper emerged in a graveyard after a dog began barking and his master simply turned invisible and allowed Dakras to find his own way out of the situation. To prevent everybody from having to read even more of my typing however I will end it here.

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Just a little tale
Probably not canon?

We’re from the Old World born and raised
In the orphanage then the mercs, we spent most of our days
Traiming, praying, slaying all cool
And adventuring with some Hogthurp tool
When me and my bro caught word of a world new and good
We thought we could preach in this new hood
We packed all our things, got prepared
And decided we’re sailing with a party to Bel Air (erm… I mean Siendart)

Well the boat landed and when I stepped out
I didn’t know what the hells this place was about
We sat down had food and a beer
Then come to find out a ring disappeared!
Found the ring, killed a wendigo, then vampyrs
Trying to find a book the church feared
If nothing else, Ravenloft wasn’t the best
But it was squat compared to hopscotch of death!

Now that we’re here I fear it’s too late
The book may be gone, gone to the haters
But meeting you is a blessing great behir
Thank you for welcoming us to your lovely lair

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Tales told by the fireside
Tell me a story...

Dommus Carcer!

If it pleases you great one, I shall tell you the tale of how we arrived at your lair. It is a tale of betrayal and savage wickedness, an ode to the abuse of a trust once freely given.

You see venator, our party used to include one more member. A man whose callous manner held an even blacker heart. A villain whose lust for power drove him mad while seeking it. The man was originally a competent and skilled hunter when he had a mind for it, but his lust for ever greater talents led him to betray us all in the seeking of it. He swore pacts with demonic forces and tried to end us all, but we are not easy prey and as you have seen we too can be competent hunters when we have a mind to it. Graceless and unskilled perhaps compared
to your talents and abilities, but some small skill does manifest on occasion.

Our former comrade has now caught up to us in the ruins above us and stalks us still. He forced us to come down here with the aid of his allies of unknown strength. I know that the wisest choice, the hunters choice would have been immediate and glorious combat to the death. But we as you desire to know more about our enemies before we strike. We need to know WHY he sent us down here Find out WHAT it is he is looking for.

I hope you can help us with that.

It pains us, pains ME to know that for every moment we tarry down here this man and his demonic allies plot their own way into this labyrinth to lay bare the secrets here. With your help Verdeus, we might be able to take this hunt to them.

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A fowl plan
DUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!!!!!!

So it turns out that saving the village of Greenway is a common occurrence here. Evidently being attacked by creatures stumbling out of the woods happens with such regularity that no one so much as blinked an eye when the creatures were defeated. Nor did they go out of their way to thank us. They could of at least gave us some gold or hides or something.

We did however learn of the location of a local attraction called oddly enough “hopscotch falls” and that a member of the Royal Exploration Society had come through to investigate it. At first I was interested in this development as there are several field agents working here in the new world that I would love to get in touch with. However, it turns out that the member leading the hunt was a man that I wholeheartedly disagree with.

Well actually I would love to disagree with him if he were here. This expedition has unfortunately been infiltrated by our old nemeses The Duck and a new friend who treated him as an equal appearing in the guise of the Royal Exploration Society leader. Standing in between two powerful enemies and one of unknown strength I did the only thing I could think of at the time.

I let my god decide my fate.

His wisdom (or random cruelty one can never be sure with him) led me to lead my companions deep underground where we will attempt to enter the demesne of an Arch Mage. I fear that one or more of us will perish in this attempt.

May the gods go with us in this foolishness.

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The long Descent

During the hours-long trip down the chasm, Dakras has plenty of time to think.

“By the gods my arms are tired, how much deeper must this go? Leave it to a dwarf to make his home over a thousand feet below the ground… Although… should I ever make my own base of operation something like this would make a great deterrent.”

After ropes begin to fray he examines the ledge that did it “Hmm, perhaps tiny blades could be made, small enough or positioned in a way to escape notice and unlikely to injure the climber but perfect to cut the rope.”

During the puzzle, he has more time to ponder. “How anticlimactic it must be to have your life ended by a childrens card game. Even more strange is that apparently every nation and culture except for the village I grew up in. Other human nations, elves and apparently even dwarves somehow play the same game as children. As expected there are apparently regional differences in rules, or at least some members of our group has poor memories of how to properly play the game… Hopefully this is not a sign of what is to come.”

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A Side Note

Julianah sat down next to Jolias, concerned from the news she received as well as Jolias’ constant staring into the fire. Not only did she have rather pressing news, but if he kept staring like that he might damage his eyes or something. To be honest, he is always doing things like this, but that is something for her to worry about later. She considered how she would communicate her message, and decided this was the best course of action. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too subtle… or too obvious to her enemies…

She took out her journal and began her ritual of writing important notes from today, although this entry would have more than a few inaccuracies. She would make a note.

“Hey Jolias, do you mind reading through his really quick? I just want to make sure I have everything correct”

“Sister, WHY”

“… Just do it Jolias, it matters.”

Report 20th of Ready’Reat

arrived to the town under siege from goblins and bugbears, one of which we took as a prisoner for information. took care of bugbear prisoner after. regrettably could not let him go with the safety of the town at risk, yet i did not want him to die in a stone prison either. these actions may have consequences Unseen, but that’s a worry for another day.

traveling was uneventful. came across an owlbear that we carefully avoided. we could not afford to fight that Enemy, not starting so soon in our exploration of this area. heard hopscotch falls was an interesting place to explore, so we decided to stop here to camp before continuing our mission to explore the unknown and came across members from antonio’s guild. he was meeting with their leader earlier, and hopefully negotiations haven’t gone Afowl.

it would not hurt to be on guard tonight, just in case.

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Child's Play

Only a madman could think up of something like this. That is another label I put on the dwarven archmage we were tasked to find. We did. However, we were subjected to the most trying task yet… a game of hopscotch. Now, you guys think “It’s just Hopscotch Jolias. It’s hard for you because you’re a drunkard.”

Well, it wasn’t hard because of me, it was because of the very nature of the game. Each square represented some sort of event. The first board (that’s right, there’s more) was tame enough. The illusion of a small dwarven sang a little ditty

“1 and your done
2 and you’re doomed
3 is a breeze
4 Hit the floor!
5 You’ll jive
6 for kicks
7 is a haven
8 You’re late
9 is a sign
10 is a hen”

Each of those did something. My sister “volunteered” to partake in the game. I was sacred, frustrated, and coughing blood. 10 was the most annoying for it summoned a hen that ate the operating device of this game. But it was more annoying for reasons later. My sister had to catch it and hop all the way back so that we can go forward.

Then , there was the second board, with even more space between the hopscotch spots. The illusion started again with another ditty.

“11 Face you’re Brethren
12 You’ll dwelve
13 is a dream
14 Kiss the beam
15 Jump and you’re safe
16 Don’t touch the Wraith
17 You’re not so keen
18 Slay the King
19 Face the Brain
20 Start Again.”

My sister jumped from square to square and landed on 15. This task was made harder since the operating the device was now the size of a huge rock (before it was the size of the pebble). She had to jump again otherwise she would get crushed by the floor itself. She eventually she landed on space 20 and had to RESTART THE WHOLE GAME AGAIN. Axe volunteered since Julianna had to start all over. However, Axe couldn’t get farther because of the hen. He couldn’t catch it because it was too fast or it got out of his hands. He had to reset three times before Julianna had to take over again. She made it to the second set again without much delay (except for a Irresistable Dance session). Antonio with his “knowledge” suggests that she lands on 12 to move forward and proceeds to validate his argument with the meaning of the word. The results suggested otherwise as a huge tunneling worm would take a bite at my sister. (Thanks Antonio). Julianna proceeded to land on 19, where a horrific translucent abomination leaped through my sister’s head and took something from her. I don’t know what it is yet but we’ll see. However, she finally makes it to the end. Finally, an exit has been shown and my sister pulls through again! This Dwoemyerstone is certainly a childish one at first sight but there were deadly intentions in there. I anticipate the next trap.

“What would be next?!” I thought on this for a while and the worst thing I could’ve have imagined came up in my mind.

“Hopefully, we don’t have a Pattycake session with a necromancer or a Lich with life draining spells with each touch…” I shudder as I try to forget that image. I start to sweat as we go through the doors to hopefully not encounter a Lich wanting to play Pattycake with us.

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Christmas at the Keep

Setting: The night before the winter solstice, Ravenforge keep

Jolias has been depressed recently and been deep in his cup after the party has been defeated in a pitched battle.

“What am I doing, I’m useless” He thought to himself, “The rest of them would probably be better off with somebody else”. He slowly carried himself to his room, and onto his bed. He slammed his mug onto his nightstand and immediately fell asleep.

He awoke with a jump, a spectral figure standing at the edge of his bed. “Jolias, I am the ghost of Winterveil” the figure shouted in a hushed voice “I am here to show you the error in your thoughts and worries”.

Suddenly the area around them shifted, the walls becoming translucent. The figure grabbed Jolias by the wrist and pulled him around, weightless. “Wait, just how much did I drink?” Jolias muttered to himself. “Wait what are you doing, let me go” He tried to wiggle free but to no avail.

Slowly the figure pulled him through the rooms of the other member of the group. Some of them missing limbs, other horribly injured, and others… just not there. “Here is the result of your group trying to go on without you”. “Without somebody to mend their wounds, and keep them on their feet they are unable to push deep into their adventures. Other times they run into something they cannot handle and somebody makes a heroic last stand to buy time.” the images voice begins to vibrate from the walls themselves.

Jolias snaps awake, light filtering in through the small window in his room. Jolias slowly walks towards meeting room for the group, where they arranged to exchange gifts in the morning. “Hey guys, uh, did any of you get a weird dream… or visions… or something last night?”. The rest of the group paused their existing conversations “noooo…..?”. “Right, me either. Just uh… checking”

A minute later a vague “shit, shit” is heard and not long after the door opens and Dakras steps through. After another long pause, he quickly asks “Hey, did any of you happen to see a ghost at some point recently?”. “Yes! did you see it too? it visited me last night and showed me some other world or something” Jolias shouts.

“Not exactly” Dakras awkwardly mutters, "I was asking because it was an experiment of mine that escaped. “So that wasn’t a messenger of my gods sent to raise my spirits?”.

“no…..”

………….

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