18 September 2016

Averaigne campaign - Year 2: Prologue

[The story so far]

Gaming Year 2: Prologue

It was three days after the Spring Festival in Corcelle. The festival itself had been a triumph, starting with a solemn ceremony for the dawn to praise Alathea that swiftly segued into a joyous, almost riotous, carnival of music and dancing and feasting and drinking. Revellers thronged the streets, spring flower petals were thrown in great bucketloads from upper windows to cascade down upon the crowds below. Everywhere there was joy. Now the headaches had faded, the pilgrims were packing up to return to their homes, and the city was returning to normal.

As if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

As if the city hadn't been de facto take over by an unholy alliance of power-crazed men and rabid gnolls.

As if smouldering corpses hadn't littered the streets after vicious fighting.

As if the very fabric of reality hadn't nearly been sundered in the dark of night.

As if the mad spider-god Aractheon hadn't shuffled closer to escaping his bonds and wrapping the mortal world in geometric insanity.

No-one remembered. No-one except our heroes, and maybe the others who had fought that night. The bar tab at the Wounded Gryphon had been wiped clean, and "Black" Jacques would nod at them meaningfully if they caught his eye, but said nothing. Any city watch patrols near the King's Gate would clear a path for the party, but nothing was said.

Then came the summons to the Temple, to see Berignon himself (Alaric, the previous high priest had been left a dribbling idiot by the spells of control that had allowed the false Vespertines to establish themselves) in his private garden. They all went. All of them except the cleric Dumnorix who had spent all his time at the temple since the night of the fighting.

When they were shown in to the small cloistered garden, with its delicate fountain, they were warmly greeted by Berignon, his previous quiet reserve replaced by a obvious authority. "Thank you for coming, my friends, and for the services you have done Alathea, this city, and perhaps the world. I fear our work is not over yet, but a significant battle has been won. I cannot reward you as I would like, and as you deserve, for our defences must be strengthened and our poor cared for so they are not easily recruited by tyrants. I believe I can offer you something aside from these small pouches of coin. 

"You'll have noticed that none of the city folk recall the events before you banished that creature of Aractheon. I believe you may know how that was brought about?" Here the cleric looked keenly at the halfling thief who had the decency to look guilty as he clutched the little pouch of thief's-ease powder he had 'liberated' from the carts that had crisscrossed the city that fateful night.

"It is vital," Berignon continued "that they do not remember - collective terror would only act as a beacon to Aractheon, guiding his return. So they must forget, and you must not remind them, so you must leave for a while. The innkeeper and the watchmen have been spoken with and sworn to silence; their absence would raise more thoughts than their presence. You however....

"So, there is a river boat that heads North tomorrow that you are invited to take. It will sail you to a place that will perhaps give you a chance to carry on the fight against Aractheon, defend Corcelle, and enrich yourself in the process. We have received word that on the same night as you saved the city, lightning destroyed a temple dedicated to Ferrus, a godling who some call on to guide the spirits of the dead to the next world. The messenger who brought us this news said the local villagers believed it was vengeance for the monks straying from their vocation. I fear that, if they had turned to evil, it will not help our cause. Temples and altars to Alathea, her saints, and any gods or godlings that bring light must be kept whole and consecrated to keep back Aractheon and his ilk. Any wealth they have accumulated by their scheming, if such it should prove to be, is yours to keep, saving only an equal share for the temple here.

"Dumnorix will be going with you. His... overenthusiasm during your fighting led him to depart from his vows and he finds himself under a geas from Alathea to restore altars to their proper use. Also, let me introduce Nausicaa Toll and Gwendoline Smoll." He gestured first to the elf and then the dwarf who were sitting in the corner of the garden. "These two ladies seem to have a better memory than others in Corcelle and came to us for answers about why they remembered what most have forgotten. They, too, must leave the city until the last threads of memory are severed and it will be safe for you to return." With that, he stood and bade them farewell "Until the morning, my friends - dawn, at the North docks." 

While the elf and dwarf said their hellos, Oiseau hurried after Berignon and secured his agreement to raise a shrine to Nikitas within the temple complex in Corcelle - as long as Oiseau paid for it.

"Here we go again," said Montagne. "Now, who wants to come with me and spend this coin on some armour? I have a feeling we might need it..."


So, yes, we have two new players to give a party of eight. Eight! One elf fighter-mage, one dwarf fighter, two human fighters, a human wizard, two human clerics, and a halfling thief - just how it turned out, but that gives an almost artificially balanced group in terms of covering each possible class!

Next week they should arrive by boat at the Temple of Ferrus, the Iron God...

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