Arem

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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Chapter 1

The group meets at Baron Pont’s modest estate in Domith, where they find out he has worked with all of them in some fashion. He is a man who has truly lived life, rising up from a lowly orphan thief to the position of Baron. He speaks to the group about their purpose, as well as their first mission:

“I would like to welcome all of you to my home. As you all know, the relations between the Five Great Cities of Arem has never been poorer. Embargos and tariffs on trade are being placed everywhere, and even war is being spoken of. There is no trust, and without trust only terrible events can occur. Thus, I have presented an unprecedented idea to council, and they have graciously allowed my request. You have all been selected from various backgrounds and lands of Arem to foster a better understanding of each of its people and promote a sense of togetherness between the cities. You will work together to solve problems all over the realm, regardless of who rules there. While it is a small step, I am hoping this is the first step in the way to a peaceful, and long lasting, alliance between the cities. Your first mission takes you to a small village called Junn, just a short distance from our very own Dominion Wall. Reports of missing children from that town have been reported, but no one has paid any attention since, to be brutally honest, the town is rather insignificant. Of course, this makes it a perfect job for our little rag tag group, since the higher ups won’t do anything about it. Go to the village and investigate what is going on, and report back here when done. What you are doing right now is special. This will be a tale to tell your grandchildren, about the things you’ll see, the deeds you’ll do, the glory you will all win. Go, and protect the realm.”

The group headed out on their mounts to Junn, but encountered some bandits on the road. Belisarius the Beast intimidated the outlaws, causing them to run for their lives. The rest of the trip to Junn was uneventful.

Once in Junn, the group split apart, with half the group going to the tavern and the other half going to talk to John, the village leader. In the tavern, Jaque got some valuable information from a thief about some gold in the tavern. He also learned about a bounty put out on a wolf that was eating a sheep herder’s flock. Jaque successful stole the gold, with the help of the Bastard of Lurvel.

The other group talked to the village leader about what was happening to the children:

“They finally heard my plea! Thank the Gods! I didn’t ever think it would happen, with us being so small and all, but my prayers have finally been answered! Those poor children…but maybe there is still hope for them. Over the past six months or so, children have been going missing. At first, though sad, there was not a lot of concern. One boy runs off, with dreams of war and glory in front of him. We’ve all heard the tale. But it continued to happen, to girls as well as boys. After we lost our 3rd and 4th child, I sent some of our men into the woods in the north to search for them. None of them returned. I couldn’t send more, since as you can see our numbers are already dwindling in the town. While I hold little hope for many of the children, we lost one just recently. If you hurry, maybe you can save her! She is a girl of five (Nimra), daughter of Tom and Versa. Please save her!”

They rested that night at the inn, and embarked out into the forest the next day. Jaque put the 30% finder’s fee for the thief into a marked tree as they entered the forest.

As the group walked along, they noticed that the forest seemed to be sick. Plants were dying, and there were relatively few animals to be found. At this point, the group was caught off guard by a rope trap, which hauled both Kong Fuzi and the Bastard up into a tree. Luckily, Vern was able to cut them down into the waiting arms of Arathorn. After traveling a bit further, the group decided to rest for the night. Unfortunately, Arathorn did a poor job of preparing the sleeping quarters, causing the group to be cold and wet the whole night. This led to little sleep, and the entire party was exhausted the next day.

Starting on the journey the next day, they came upon a child hanging from a tree branch. Part of the group was greatly affected by this emotionally. The child was given a proper burial before moving on.

Finally, the party came upon a cabin in the middle of the woods. After getting into position, an old man came out of the cabin with a girl (Nimra) as a hostage. He said the following:

“Don’t you feel it? There is nothing any of you can do to stop it. The cities are preparing for war, the unity of man is being broken. Its coming don’t you see? The fall of all of us. You may wonder what happened to these children. I freed them don’t you see? I freed them from the horrors that will be coming. And I just have one more to set free….”

Arathorn sent his bird to attack the old man, which caused him to release the girl. After a lengthy battle the party was victorious and had saved the girl. The old man did have one last thing to say before he died:

“The black wind will consume us all….”

The party returned Nimra to her parents, and her dad, a traveling bard, said he would create a song in honor of Arathorn, who saved his daughter.

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Scheduling and Quiz Question 2/15

The calender feature is only available if we pay for the upgraded site (which we are not going to do), so instead just comment on this post about when you are available next week (date and time). I’ll try to figure out a time we can all meet, otherwise we’ll just postpone it to a later date.

Alright, our first Quiz Question, which is worth 1 silver, we go to the frozen north. Reply with your response in the comment section. First person to respond correctly gets the reward. Only one response per person. Here we go!

Question: How many men and horses can the Black Keep hold?

Great job everyone last night, and looking forward to the next adventure!

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Chapter 2

The group is once again a Baron Pont’s estate, roughly a week after successfully figuring out what was happening to the children of Junn. This is the first time the party has seen Baron Pont since the mission, due to him being gone.

Baron Pont: “Hello all. My maester told me about your success, but I would like to hear exactly what happened from your own lips. Please inform me.”

Baron Pont: “Well that is an excellent job out of all of you. Some of my men who patrol this section of the city have reported back to me that common folk are talking about your deeds. This is a great first step, but much needs to be done. I have a new mission for all of you, and will be of particular interest to you, Vern. The party will be heading to the great north. The first portion of your mission is of the upmost importance, and if you fail, could undo all of my work. As you all know, the north is made of warriors. Between the harsh weather, harsh jobs, and minerals to create war weapons, the north prides itself on its strength, toughness, and warrior ways. This, unfortunately, can lead internal conflict, especially in times of relative peace. One specific conflict has all of Arem worried. That is between Lord Snow, supreme leader of Nester and the North, and Count Kelvin, leader and commander of the North’s second greatest city/fortress, Arrodia. There has always been an uneasy peace between the two, but recently that has escalated with the tariffs Lord Snow has been placing on trade. Arrodia mines the Arrod Mountains, and almost single handedly makes its living off of the sale of carnen, the most common alloy for making steel, along with iron. The Arrod Mountain range is the only location in Arem that provides the specific carnen needed to create the best steel. Because of the mounting tensions between the 5 Great Cities, Lord Snow has put a massive tariff on carnen, causing trade to screech basically to a halt. This has caused Kelvin a great deal of anger. I fear for what he might do if we do not resolve this problem…”

Baron Pont: “Luckily, I think I have a solution. Count Kelvin had sent his only daughter, Miranda, to Domith as a young girl to prepare her for the trials of nobility. She was taught history, politics, and general court manners. A lovely lady I must say, one that would make a perfect wife. Lord Snow has many sons, but his eldest is Prince Robert Snow, heir to the throne. I have arranged, through months of negotiations and maneuvers, to unite these two in marriage. Once the Snow and Kelvin Houses are connected, there tension between them will greatly decrease, and it should unite the north like never before. Your mission is to escort Miranda, along with her personal with her Maester Ludwig, to Nester to meet up with her husband. I imagine there will be a courtship period, but regardless, the mere act of bringing them together should reduce the tension of the north. I repeat: it is imperative that she gets to the north unharmed. If anything would happen to her I would hate to see the consequences…”

Baron Pont: “Excellent. Once you are done escorting her up to Nester, you will proceed with the second part of your mission. Lord Tor, leader of the Black Keep and the Wall, has been sending us many ravens over the past few years, begging all the Cities to provide more men. Since peace and prosperity has come over the realm, people see little need to join the Men of the Black. On top of that, what are the men really protecting us from? Most of creatures and monsters from beyond the wall are mere fairy tales told to make children behave. And the Wandering Folk haven’t staged an attack on the Wall in years. Regardless, the Wall does hold a special place in the hearts of all Arem men and women, so I would like you to go there and see the state of affairs. Report back on the conditions, and if you sense any need for more support up there.”

Baron Pont: “Good luck sirs, and may the fates watch after you.”

As the group leaves Domith, a raven appears with a note for the nobles: “We command the presence of all nobility. A small castle has defected from Domith, and we are currently in the planning stage in how to take it back. As a step forward to unite the cities, each of your lieges has given their permission for you to participate in this mission. You will meet up with the garrison located outside the castle and talk battle strategy. You will then lead the men into battle and take back the castle. May the fates watch after all of you.” The entire group decides to go help.

The following was reported by Tiberious Thrawn, concerning the rebellion:

When the Castle Vania seceeded from Domith our rag-tag group of heros were dispatched to deal with the troubling insurection of its owner, Earl Aquilius of Domith. Earl Aquilius was disgruntled over Domith’s recent changes in trade and tax policy, most notably the pricy tariffs on imported goods. With these new policies, the Earl felt it cutting into his pocket book and decided to start manipulating the records in order to skim off profits for himself. In midst of the current economic and political climate surrounding Arem the ruling council and Lord of Domith found this most distressing. A courier was dispatched immediately to inform Earl Aquilius that he had been found out and was ordered to stop. The Earl however, chose to break ties with Domith, believing that his small town, estate and castle were insignificant to the powers that be in Domith. His calculation was wrong. A small taskforce from Domith was dispatched with one mission, bring in the Earl, dead or alive. He was to be an example of what happens to those that cross mighty Domith.

The Earl however was a shrewd tactician and new that cowering in his castle would mean certain defeat. So instead he launched a surprise attack at dawn on the force camped outside his castle preparing for the assault. His attack almost succeeded if not for the actions of a few brave men leading the siege. The unlikely, and even more unseemly, team of our heroes managed to spoil the surprise attack with a few well placed and well timed shots with the catapults. Jaque McFlern, a peasant thief, landed the first blow, taking out soldiers in the lead ranks. However, it would be Count Tiberious Thrawn that would land the decisive blow and end Earl Aquilius’s revolt against Domith.

Count Thrawn was directing a group of archers and catapults on the right flank when he noticed Earl Aquilius actually out of the castle leading the surprise attack from a small hill. Count Thrawn instructed the nearest catapult crew to aim for the rogue Earl. Unfortunately the lead operator was struck by an arrow before the shot could be fired. Count Thrawn stepped forward and made the last quick final adjustment to send the boulder hurling towards Earl Aquilius. The shot hit its mark. With their leader dead the rest of the soldiers were routed and Castle Vania was taken easier than expected.

The group then traveled to Nester with Miranda and her maester, disguising her as a common peasant while Ben dressed up as here. The party fought off a group of bandits before safely making it to the Bluewood Pass. There, Miranda and Vern talked, with Miranda showing Vern respect and care, something he experiences little in the north.

Miranda: “Hello sir. I have been awful lonely during this journey, and wished to have someone to talk to. What is your story?”

Miranda: “This is the first time I have been to Nester since I left so many years ago for Domith. I’m going to miss my friends back there, but this is what I was born to do. I will help lead Nester into a better age, and hopefully stop this discontent between the cities. Do you think my future husband will love me?”

Miranda: “Thank you for your time sir. Maester Ludwig is not the best for conversation! I will see you on the morrow.”

The group arrived in Nester. They are met by guards in front of the castle and introduced themselves. They were then escorted directly to Lord Snow in Shard Keep via open carriage. The guards eye Vern suspiciously, though some would argue it was more a combination of nervousness and hatred.

As they walk through the city it looks much different than Domith. It is much more rugged, with most buildings made of brick due to the mining that is done in this region. Everything is covered in ice, but it does create a unique beauty. The people they see seem merry and warm, regardless of the temperatures. Almost everyone is wearing fur of some kind, with a large amount wearing wolf.

As the party enter the gate to Shard Keep, they see a bunch of kids play fighting in the yard. Their technique is poor, but the sharper members of the group notice that many have a lot of potential if they keep up their training. Further on they see the knights of Nester training. This particular group is composed of huge, mountainous men, wielding massive broad swords. The battles they wage in these courtyards are full of rage and terrible blows, more than many of the members have ever seen. Regardless, after one knight got knocked down, the other removed his helm and helped him up with a smile upon his face.

The group is finally escorted into Ice Hall, the great hall of Nester. In front of them, sitting on his throne, is Lord Tybalt Snow. He is a larger man, though not overwhelming, around the age of 40. The group can tell that he is in amazing shape for his age; he has not stopped training at the art of war even as the Lord of the North. To the right of him is a Prince Robert Snow, a spitting image of his father. He is taller, lankier then his dad (which might change with age), though not hard on the eyes as the group can tell by the blushing of Miranda. To Lord Snow’s left is his Commanding Officer Ronald the Terror. He has truly earned his name: the man strikes fear into everyone he looks at, and rumor has it that he has never cracked a smile outside of combat. Regardless, his reputation precedes him: he is often considered the best commander in all of Arem. There are other knights and nobles in the room as well to welcome Miranda, many of which are eying Vern with a look of disgust.

Lord Snow commands that everyone rise. He walks slowly down the stairs and stands directly in front of Miranda (who is at the front of the group). The hall is dead silent. He then gives a huge hug to Miranda.

Lord Snow: “Welcome Miranda! It has been ages since I last saw you. Welcome back to Nester. How have you been? ”

Miranda: “Good my Lord. It is an honor to be in your presence.”

Lord Snow: “The honor is all mine. How was your trip?”

Miranda replied about the trip.

Lord Snow: “Well I would like to personally thank all of you for escorting her up here safely. You are men of great honor, and may the fates look over you kindly. That does not go for you Vern. Do not think I have forgotten your actions. Since you brought Miranda to me safely, I will be courteous. But do not believe for one moment you have affected my opinion of you. I can only hope that you grow to become the man your father way, and not maintain the path you are currently on.”

Lord Snow: My Maester will see to it that you get a warm bed for the night and a good meal (calls the Maester over). Now Miranda, I believe there is someone who would like to meet you…”

(Miranda and Lord Snow walk together up to Robert, and the group clearly sees he is blushing. After a quick introduction, other nobles approach all to say hello to the future Lady of Nester.)

The Maester approaches the group and escorts them from the hall up to the guest quarters.

Maester Freeze: “How long will you gentlemen be needed to stay with us? Excellent, all your items and possessions will be safe here. There are maids who can get you food or drink, just ring the bell inside your residence. Thank you again for what you did today. Lord Snow looks favorably upon you. I apologize though, I must get going. So much to do with Miranda around!”

The group then explores Nester for the night. Tiberius and Vern mingle with the nobles, with Tiberius talking to Ronald the Terror about his father, as well as asking for advice. Disliking the mood amongst the nobles, Vern steps aside for some fresh air when he is suddenly attacked by an assassin who whispered “For the North”. Vern kills him away while Tiberius viewed the carnage.

Belisarius had a busy night, performing a series of quests for the local town folk. The most impressive feat was defeating Chancellor Jenkins in a duel, restoring the honor of Sarah and earning him her favor (a Red Sash). Notably, Vern turned down 15 gold to duel for Chancellor Jenkins, possibly a start to him turning over a new leaf.

The rest of the members had their own ideas of what a night out on Nester meant. The citizens of Nester discovered that the Bastard was a HELL of a dancer, whooing many women with his skills. Not everyone was successful in the group, with Jaque trying to manipulate a gambling game to get into the thieves guild, but blotched it and was kicked out of the establishment as well as refused membership to the guild.

The next day the group set out for the Wall, but unfortunately were attacked by a pack of wolves, which they quickly defeated. The party then stopped at Raven’s Keep, home of Vern. The group is amazed by how worn down it is. The people looked very poor, and the place was in shambles. The few citizens that were there all looked at Vern with a reserved hatred. The party quickly continued their journey, choosing not to stop.

The group finally arrives at the Black Keep, but it pales in comparison to the Wall. The party stands in awe as they look up and see the top of the Wall over ½ mile up into the sky. Not only are they amazed by its height, but also its length. No one can see where the wall ends in either direction. The Wall is a grayish black color where you can see it, but much of it gives off a blue aura from the ice frozen on it. The group also notices it has gotten considerable colder since they came within sight of the wall.

As they admire the magnificence of the Wall, a group rides up to them dress all in black.

Lord Tor: “Welcome travelers. We don’t see many of you up here. What is your purpose for coming to the wall?”

Lord Tor: “Someone finally heard my plea. About the only good news I’ve had today. Allow me to introduce myself: I am Lord Tor, Commander of the Men of the Black. Please, follow me to the Keep. We will provide you shelter and food, and then we must talk at length of the plight of the Men in Black.”

The group is escorted to the Black Keep. There are no walls or defense structures to the south; the Wall’s only goal is to keep the evils of north out of Arem. As they approach the Keep they notice men training in the yard, but everyone is keenly aware of the numbers. There is hardly anyone here.

The Black Keep is pure black, so dark it even overpowers the ice that clings to its side. It is severely run down, though it seems sturdy enough. As almost reading your mind, Lord Tor says “I know she isn’t much to look at, but she’ll hold. I have all my builders working to keep the Wall, at least this section, in good condition. The Keep matter not if the Wall falls.”

While traveling, Lord Tor calls Vern to ride beside him.

Lord Tor: “I want you to know this: I don’t agree with what you do, but your father was a great man and a strong supporter of the Wall. Because of that, I will allow you to come to the Keep. Heed my words though Vern: someday you will have to come out from your father’s shadow. Is this how you want the Blackburn name to be remembered? That they kneeled to other nobility, did their awful deeds, all for some coin?”

The party enters the Black Keep and notice that the interior isn’t much better than the exterior. No lavish banners, no fancy furniture, nothing. Just tables and benches. There are men eating here, but again, not a lot. Lord Tor remains quiet as he walks through the hall, up a flight of stairs, and brings the group into his personal quarter.

Lord Tor: “Guards, close the door, and make sure we are not disturbed by anyone. If I some much as hear a knock you will have wall duty for the next month.”

The guards nod and promptly leave.

Lord Tor: “I’m sure you all noticed that lack of men I have. In total we have 300 men. 300! Many of them are stewards, others are builders, and finally get down to our final total of 150 fighters. 150! Most men can’t hold a damn castle with 150 men, how am I supposed to man the Wall, which protects the realm!”

Lord Tor cools for a bit, then starts again.

Lord Tor: “I apologize. It is not your fault I am in this predicament. And I am glad you came. We get so few visitors up here. Lords no longer feel the need to visit us, and the only people who come to look at the wall are those who are forced. For those of you who don’t know about the wall: 250 of the men here are not here by choice. They were forced to come here or be killed for crimes they committed. There are good men in the group, but not enough. They are not born soldiers, so we do the best we can, but it’s just not enough.”

Lord Tor: “I am not so prideful though that I won’t say the following: I’ll take the worse Arem has to offer if it means I can defend these walls. I plead with you, return to the cities have tell all of the plight of the Men of the Black. I know most people do not believe the evils that are north of here, and I’ll admit, sometimes I have my doubt. But there is one thing I know: the Wandering Folks have been increasing their movement lately, and I think something might be coming up, something big. And when that times comes, in our current state, we will not be able to stop it.”

Lord Tor: “I wish I had more men to send out on rangings, but we just don’t have the numbers. But the few I have sent out have told me that the Folks are constantly moving, and there groups are getting bigger. I fear that soon they will unite, which would an unprecedented feat, could prove to be the undoing of Arem.”

Lord Tor: “While I have you here, may I ask one favor of you? There are rumors going around that some of my men are planning an uprising. Many men can’t handle the lifestyle we live: no wifes, no children, no family. The only thing we have is the wall. This can be an especially hard on those who did not freely choose it, but instead was forced to go this route due to their deeds. I can’t confirm it myself if a revolt is going to happen, but now that you are all up here I was hoping you would look into it. It would be devastating to the Men of the Black if that happened. Go talk to my Maester Dob further up in the tower, he has more information about it. Now if you excuse me, I must return to my duties. Thank you for your assistance.”

Group goes up to the Maester’s quarters, finding him looking over some reports.

Maester Dob: “Well hello travelers. Please sit. Would you like anything to drink or eat?”

Maester Dob: “Lord Tor told me of his plan earlier, and I have the information prepared for you. We believe that there is going to be a revolt here soon, but we can’t pinpoint who is planning it. We have it narrowed down to three men: Cal Rarn, Poxy Domingus, and the man that goes by Unbux. I have marked on this paper where you can find each of them. Again, we are not sure who is going to do it, but we believe one of these men will be responsible. Discover who it is and then try to capture them (capture means getting them below 0 HP but not below -10 HP). You have our thanks.”

After the talk, Jaque approaches Lord Tor to question him about his father. He replies as follows:

Lord Tor: “You are the son of Pierre McFlern? Pierre was a great man, and an excellent ranger. To be honest, I never believed for a second that he stole from that magistrate, but I could never get your father to talk about it. Too hurtful I imagine. Regardless, he was a man who was always in good spirits, and especially when the letters came. He loved you Jaque, more then you’ll ever know. One of the saddest days as Commander of the Wall was when he didn’t return from his ranging. I’ve sent others out to look for him, but nothing has ever come of it. I’m sorry my boy…”

Lord Tor: “The first day I made him a ranger, he gave me something. He said to me ‘If anything ever happens to me, I want my son to have this’. He never gave me a name or where you were at though, which always confused me. Maybe he knew something I didn’t, but in the end I believe this is yours. Cherish it son, just as he cherished you….”

Ben receives a chain with a medallion (Dad’s Gift) on it. On the medallion are numerous weird markings that don’t seem to make anything.

Thrawn also approaches Lord Tor, asking about his brothers who are up here. Lord Tor says responds that he had just received a letter from a raven telling him that Commander Thrawn had requested both his sons be returned to Domith. Lord Tor tells Thrawn he can find Davadus and Patriclus in the training yard.

The group decides to split when trying to discover who the rebels are. Belisarius, Arathorn, and the Bastard decide to go to the armory, while Thrawn, Jaque, Vern, and Kong go to the yard. The armory group quickly discovered that the people there were planning the rebellion, and got in their good graces. Unfortunately, some misspoken words by Belisarius led Carl, their leader, to question their motives. He held the Bastard as a hostage, and told Belisarius and Arathorn to go kill the guard outside.

Meanwhile, they yard group was talking to Poxy Domingus, the trainer for the Men of the Black. They discovered that, though he hated Lord Tor for not letting him go search for Pierre McFlern (Jaque’s Dad), he still respected the man’s decisions. The group told him about the possible rebellion, and Poxy joined their cause. Thrawn then found his brothers in the yard, and spoke to them at length, agreeing to take them home to Domith with the group. He also recruited them to help fight the rebellion, making a rather sizable fighting force.

The yard group then noticed that the guard had been killed (or so they thought) by Belisarius while screaming “Down with Lord Tor!”, and Poxy charged in a fit of rage to kill the rebel scum. Though multiple people tried to stop him, he still attacked Belisarius in his fury. Eventually, the true rebels revealed themselves and took Poxy into the armory to whole up. After a fiercely fought battle that involved the floor being set on fire, the group apprehended most of the rebels (the ones that were not decapitated or thrown in a fire to make a bridge) and took them to Lord Tor. Belisarius took the rebellion and deaths hard, being visible shaken after the battle.

Lord Tor invites the group to watch the public execution, which occurs on top of the Wall. The rebels heads were cut off on the edge of the Wall by Lord Tor’s great sword, Night. The bodies were after which thrown over, so that their final resting place would not be in Arem. Lord Tor then spoke:

Lord Tor: “All of you have seen what happens when you break our sacred oath. If we fail, all fails. Now, recite the Oath with me once more, so we all can remember why we were chosen for this path in life (all members of the Men of the Black recite this):

“We are the Wall that shields the Realm. As the Winds rise, and nature falls, we hold. As fear rages and honor weakens, we hold. We can’t fail, or all fails. The Wall holds the hope of Arem, and we the will.”

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Quiz Question 3/15

Roughly what percentage of Qarnill’s land is actually man made material that is floating on the water? Winner gets one silver. Good luck and get ready for Chapter 3 tonight!

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Chapter 3

The group returns from the North with Davadus and Patriclus with them. Tiberious takes his brothers to see their father. They go to Augustus’ largest estate, The Pantheon, which is located south of Domith, on the east side of the Lake of Elysses. It is a massive building, with huge pillars located at the entrance. Surrounding it is a wall 15 feet in height, with a walkway on it for defense (if need be). The group is welcomed by all guards there, who look upon them highly. They are escorted through the massive yard, into the Pantheon, and taken directly to see Count Augustus Thrawn.

The three sons walk into the room, and Count Augustus stands and greets both Davadus and Patriclus with hugs, but returns to his seat before greeting Tiberious.

Count Augustus: “Welcome back Davadus and Patriclus. How was your time on the vaunted Wall?”

Sons give a quick recap of what they did, with Patriclus talking super-fast and explaining a lot more than his younger brother.

Count Augustus: “Very good. Hopefully you learned much up there, both about war as well as conducting yourself with honor (he says as he eyes Tiberious). Now please, you two leave us, as well as the guards. I must talk to Tiberious alone.”

Sons and guards leave.

Count Augustus: “I see you have maintained your path of indignity. First you take a title which you did not earn, and then become servant to a lesser lord. When you asked me for my leave to join the group, I thought maybe this was just a phase, and that you would come to your senses soon enough. If you wanted to go help some insignificant villagers? Fine. How you waste your time is of no concern to me. But now I hear you are running a princess from the bloody north around Arem, even though we are for all intents and purposes at war with them. The Baron says fetch, and you obey, just like a common dog. Do you wash him after he relieves himself as well?”

Count Augustus: “I will ask you once, and only once: leave that ragged group of yours and try to keep what little honor you have left. Will you do this?”

Count Augustus: I had so much faith in you Tiberious. You were destined for so much, but how hard you have fallen in just the last few years. I say this with a heavy heart Tiberious, but it must be said if the honor of this family is to remain. The Thrawn’s do not serve, we lead. And you, my son, are no leader. Thus, as of this point, I revoke you as my heir and instead grant it to Davadus. Patriclus might be next in line, but he is just like you, a follower. Davadus is the man I wish you would have become, and he will be the one to lead us once I have passed on. You will remain in the family, for that is the father’s duty, but you shall not be the one to hold the title and powers that comes with the Thrawn name.”

Count Augustus: “Do you remember what our family’s words are, Tiberious?

Count Augustus: “Strength and Honor. You lack both, and I only hope that you bring no further shame to this family. Be gone, and run back to your new master.”

Theguards come in and escort Tiberious out as Augustus ignores him, and he returns to Baron Pont’s estate.

The group is once again at Baron Pont’s estate, after their adventures to the north.

Baron Pont: “Hello friends. Excellent job on the last mission! I have already received a raven from Maester Freeze that Miranda and Prince Robert are getting along charmingly. More importantly, tensions between Nester and Arrodia have dissipated significantly. We can now rest easy knowing that war will not erupt in the north.”

Baron Pont: “My Maester has been busy himself, tending to all these ravens coming in. The Wall has also sent us word of your endeavors up there. Excellent job I must say. It is a sad day indeed when the Men of the Wall falter, but thanks to all of your courageous efforts, we will remain safe from the Wandering Folk for another day. I must ask though, how were the conditions at the Wall?”

Baron Pont: “A sad state of affairs. I will speak with the representatives from each city and inform them of the plight, now that my men have seen it with their own eyes. Thank you again for your service. Unfortunately, I must request all of your help once again. We may have prevented war in the north, but now it springs up elsewhere. Abastho and Qarnill are at each others throats. Qarnill has cut off Abastho from the sea, and as you can imagine this does not please Abastho. To be frank with all of you, Abastho deserves it. They have completely cut off Qarnill from trade, and on top of that will not let them pass up the Alluvial River. Qarnill has tried to negotiate terms with them, but those fell on deaf ears. Thus, Tarentum has now been commanded to bar any Abastho ships from heading out to sea. I have come to a solution though, a costly one at that. As you know, Domith’s power comes from trade. Everything ends up in Domith one way or another, and thus, any trade is good trade. This recent impasse between Qarnill and Abastho has been devastating to us financially. Not as many goods are being moved up and down the river, which in turn isn’t finding its way to Domith, which is costing everyone money. I called a meeting of the great nobles and traders of Domith to try and find a solution, and we believe we have found one. We are going to pay a large sum of money to each city to end this blockade. I do not use the word ‘large’ lightly either friends. But in the end, we look at this like an investment: we pay early, and hope to gain dividends by the end. Any questions so far?”

Baron Pont: “Thus, your mission is to first take the gold to Abastho, then down to Qarnill. There has been an increase in raids on the main roads as of late, thus one option is to avoid the roads all together as you make your way to Abastho. If you wish to go this route, you will travel north, into the Sunfall Plains, and then make your way west. The other option is to stay on the road, which will reduce the time it takes you to get there, but also increases your chances of being attacked. Whatever path you choose, there is only one goal: protect the money at all costs. Once you reach Abastho, you will take the money to Lord Amalric personally. Once that is completed, you will travel down the Alluvial River via boat, so graciously given to you by the city of Abastho, at the cost of some gold of course. You will then stop in Tarentum to resupply, at which point the Qarnill navy will escort you to Qarnill. Here, you will drop off the gold with the Supreme Commander of the Qarnill Forces, Commander Justinian Phokas, father to our very own Belisarius. Commander Justinian had previously commanded several important divisions in the Clockwork Pass, but recently has been raised up to the rank of Supreme Commander, which had opened up due to the death of his predecessor Commander Mundus.”

Baron Pont: “You may ask why we are sending such a small group with such a large sum of money. Why not send an entire army? We do not want anyone else to know we are doing this. If Nester and Forlong find out we are paying gold to increase trade, they will instantly try to jump on that wagon. We do not have endless resources, and thus must be smart about this. This must be kept a secret, and that is why I, and my associates, have chosen all of you. Any questions concerning the mission?”

Baron Pont: “Very good. You all have done amazing so far, and we are already seeing results. May the fates watch over you.”

As the group is leaving Baron Pont’s estate, multiple ravens appear, each going to a nobe, with the following request: “You have been summoned to participate in the great Tournament of Apples, which takes place at Lake Appletop near Forlong. You will be participating in the jousting tournament in honor of your city and its people. Go, and show why our city is the best.”

The group arrives at Lake Appletop and the nobles immediately start jousting. Both Arathorn and Belisarius got eliminated in the first round, while Vern and Thrawn made it up to the final four. Unfortunately, both lost, and had to face each other for third place. Thrawn ended up winning, placing third overall in the tournament.

While the jousting tournament was going on, the commoners stayed busy with various activities. Jaque stole from numerous people, and got a certain “Thieves Swagger” to his step. Kong Fuzi discussed theories on how to further improve Healing Potion, helping cause a break through. Maester Simon, a leading researcher in the healing art, gives him an Exceptional Healing Point. Finally, The Bastard competed in the Drunktop Race, where he had to chug 5 special beers, jump across a pit of mud, walk across a balance beam, climb a wall, and then wrestle a big into a barrel full of apples. He ended up winning the competition, and earned the title “The Inebriator”, as well as 3 bottles of special Appletop Beer (not purchasable by anyone) and 1 gold.

After the tournament, the group decided to travel to Abastho via the nature route. Barring a heavy rain that gave everyone colds, the trip was uneventful. The group ended up traveling through the night, not stopping at “The Tired Trout”, to reach Abastho quicker.

The group finally makes it to their destination. They come to a stop at the great Dowser Path, a massive bridge that allows crossing over the Alluvial River. The port seems uncharacteristically slow, with few ships moving through. In front of them stands Abastho, the City of the West. The very front of the city actually goes into the water, with Abastho’s port being held within it, behind its massive walls. The group sees a giant portcullis raised from where the ships enter and exit the port, though few ships are going either way on this day. There are two entrances into the city, Dowser Path and Raventhorn Pass (no relation to Vern’s Dad), both of which are the biggest bridges in Arem. The group sees the Abastho flag (silver and green, with a boat on it) raised above a massive tower, Pilgrim’s Watch.

As a bit of backstory, Abastho is home to the largest church in all of Arem, Ona’s Shadow. The believers here follow Ona, who is believed to embody all that is good in the world. Legend has it that the world was covered in ice, with no living things anywhere. Ona came to the land as a tiny kernel of heat, which supposedly landed in the very spot of the Shadow and the reason so many pilgrims travel to Abastho. From that spot, she heated just a tiny, tiny spot of Arem. From there, her heat grew outwards, raging war against the cold, and nurturing life as it continued to grow. She continued to expand; covering all of Arem, until evil finally grasped its final foothold, which is supposedly just beyond where the Wall was built.

The group crosses the bridge and is met by Abastho forces, who escort them to Pilgrim’s Watch. As they go through Abastho, they notice that the town is obviously very connected to the river. Fish are sold everywhere, along with all the supplies that go with that (fishing poles, boats, bait, etc.). The weather is warmer here, so people are dressed in relatively light clothing. The group also notices many religious symbols about the town.

The group finally makes it to Pilgrim’s Watch, after being let in through its massive gates. They dismount, and soldiers carry the money into Watch. They are led upstairs to the Overlook, the main hall of Abastho. There, they see Lord Quantar Amalric, a man of average height and weight, though with little muscle on him. To his right is the Commanding Officer of Abastho, Gerard Lawrence, who is of leaner build that comes from working/traveling by ship. While he does not have the same notoriety of Ronald the Terror, he is considered to be the best ship commander in all of Arem, though not nearly as talented at land tactics as many of the other commanders.

To Lord Amalric’s left is the Grand Septon Baldric the Benevolent (note: all Grand Priests receive the last name “Benevolent”, keeping only their first name). A very short man who has clearly never seen combat, he does create a sense of calmness and kindness around himself.
Lord Amalric: “Welcome to Abastho fine warriors. How were your travels? I assume you have the payment that Domith worked out with us correct?”

Grand Septon Baldric: “Thank Ona for your safe passes. She truly has blessed us this day, with the darkness that walks the main roads…”

Lord Amalric: “Yes, Ona has looked down upon this group graciously. So, all of you are supposed to represent the cities of Arem correct, to try and bring peace between us?”

Lord Amalric: “I see. I find it interesting that the group promotes the kingdoms working together, yet I do not see a single Abastho citizen within your ranks. And no less than two of you from both Qarnill and Domith.…”

Lord Amalric: “No worries you brave men. Abastho is used to being ignored. The City of the West, the one that is always forgotten, that might as well be our motto. This especially goes for Domith, who clearly supports Qarnill over us. It is fine though. Ona taught us that being humble is a virtue, and we try to live by that. Thank you once again for bringing us the payments safely. Please talk to my Maester concerning the boat that was purchased for you. Now if you excuse me, I must get back to work. Good day.”

Lord Amalric and Commander Gerard Lawrence leave the room while the Maester escorts the group down to the port, where they are shown their boat.

Maester Eustace: “This is your boat, the Enterpirse. She’s a great vessel, made by the finest ship builders in all of Arem. We have supplied the ship with food and drink, along with all other basic necessities. You may leave at first light tomorrow, when I will have the paperwork done on the vessel. You will find living quarters within the ship are tight, but manageable. I apologize, but I must be going no. I need to finish up some important business. I will meet you here tomorrow morning with all the necessary contracts, as well as the gold that is being sent to Qarnill. Best to keep it safe in the Keep rather than out here on the port. Good night.”

Maester Eustace hustles away, and the group clearly sees that he is going to have a busy night tonight.

The entrance to the city is protected by a large contingency of guards. The group approaches them, and the guards spoke the following:

Guards: “Qarnill and Abastho are currently untrusting of each other, and since you have two Qarnillians in your group, you may NOT enter the city. All of you may be working with Qarnill. We apologize for the inconvenience, but we are under orders by Commander Lawrence.”

The group decides to not push their luck, and retire for the night. The next day Maester Eustace, along with some guards, comes to the boat and gives the group the necessary papers, as well as the rest of the money which is going to Qarnill. They all wish the group safe travels.

The boat leaves the port just as the sun starts to rise, and the group travels down the gorgeous Alluvial River, where they see new bird species all around them, as well as fish jumping out of the water. There are many small fishing villages along the river, with much smaller boats out on the water. As they make it further down the river and out of sight of Abastho, they notice a boat has been following them.

Pirates attack the Enterprise, but thanks to the valiant efforts of the group, they repel them. During the battle, the group discovers that the enemy ship has started taking in water, causing the group to rush to try and save the treasure in the boat, as well as their very lives. After negotiating terms, they take two hostages from the pirates in exchange for information on where they are keeping their hidden treasure. Notable things that occurred during the battle: Jaque got knocked off the boat and had a lot of trouble swimming to the shore, The Bastard got knocked unconscious, and the group found some gold.

After the ship battle, the rest of the journey is uneventful. They group makes it to Tarenturm unharmed. They travel beneath the grand statue of Zardon the Sail that overlooks the river and port. On the interior, they see a busy port, much busier than Abastho’s was. The group surmises that it’s due to the traffic coming from Qarnill. There are many different boats going to and fro, and there are guards posted nearly everywhere.

The boat docks in the port, and immediately is surrounded by Tarentum soldiers (30 of them, at least, by count). Their leader walks forward, wearing plated armor, a large man in his late 20s who is clearly ready for war. He demands that Belisarius drop his weapon and come off the boat and face his punishment. The group looks nervously around, and Belisarius comes off with his head down. The leader comes up right next to him, taller than Belisarius, and stares him right in the face. Belisarius looks up, and both men finally crack up as they shake hands.

Captain Narses: “We had him going didn’t we Bel? Thought your group was about to shit themselves! HAR HAR HAR! Didn’t know you northerners were so easily spooked! Won’t make it one day in Tarentum without us, will they Bel? Okay guys, shows over. Restock their ship for them. We are heading out tomorrow morning for Qarnill with the loot. Bel, you and your group will follow me. I’m sure you’ll want to check in on how the city, and her defenses, are doing.”

The group is escorted through Tarentum, which in a way, is a great representation of what happens when nobility and the wealthy mix with the common and poor. There is no “better parts of town” in Tarentum. The group crosses a beautiful home, which Narses says is owned by a rich merchant, which is located right next to a whore house that has seen better days. The group can clearly tell that it is a reciprocal relationship: the poor do the nobles dirty work, and the nobles take care of the poor. While that doesn’t seem so different from most of Arem, the group gets a sense that the superiority complex isn’t here in Tarentum. The nobles don’t see themselves as being better, just richer, and the poor don’t resent the nobles because there is a mutual respect. Thus everyone seems to get along swimmingly, which is clear from the mood in the streets, which could only be described as jovial, with every other person being drunk, many tall tales being told (I fucked 3 of the 5 Ladies of Arem, and it would have been 4 if not for Lord Snow coming at me with an axe!), and wheeling and dealing occurring everywhere.

The group finally reaches Tarentum’s military base, Dredge Fort. It is a spectacular fort, with large walls surrounding it and towers throughout, which Belisarius explains comes from the friendly “donations” the richer members of society have given them. This is to help protect the town (they say), and more importantly, the rich peoples’ investments, from bandits in the lands adjacent to Tarentum.

Narses: “I’m sure you’ll hate to hear this, but bandit attacks have been on the raise, continuing the trends you saw before you left. We of course have held them off, but the frequency and viciousness of the attacks has been alarming. Granted, the ones above could have just sent me out with my men and we could have cleaned all those ass holes up in a fortnight, but they don’t like unleashing the beast do they Bel? Probably too concerned that I would put them all out of jobs! HAR HAR HAR!”

Narses takes you into Belisarius office and the two discuss the recent events of Tarentum. After the meeting, Narses puts you up in the quarters and suggests that you guys have a causal night out on the town, to welcome Belisarius back to his home town. Belisarius warns everyone that there is NEVER a causal night out with Narses. Everyone decides to go out by Thrawn.

During their night out, the group got into a bar fight, did some gambling, and finally ended up on the top of the statue of Zardon the Sail, where Belisarius and Narses talked about old times.

Narses: “Well I hope I showed you old boys a good time. Tarentum can be a mean bitch, but she treats you well too. For all the shit we get about being the asshole of Qarnill, we have a good town here. Don’t you agree, Bel?”

Narses: “Another great adventure tomorrow eh Bel? Just another one for the books! Like that time our search party got surrounded by those bandits? Remember what you said to them Bel? Tell the group!”

Narses: “HAR HAR HAR! They shit their pants didn’t they!”

The group reflects on previous experiences in life, as well as that very night, and as the sun continues to rise, and readies themselves for their next adventure.

The next morning, the group wakes up, with those who went out with quite the hangover. They meet Narses in the dining area, and he looks like a million dollars, while everyone else looks like shit.

Narses: “This your first time drinking boys? Here, eat this. Grease always clears up a hangover, as well as some hair of the dog! HAR HAR HAR!”

Group eats, and after some vomiting, is ready to go. The group goes to the port, where the Tarentum navy is already ready. They have 4 ships escorting the group today, giving a grand total of 5. Narses is leading this mission from one of the other boats. The ships set sail, and leave the port of Tarentum with (mostly, those that they can remember) fond memories.

The group travels the ocean with no trouble. They see some suspicious ships along the way, but none of them approach due to the Tarentum’s Navy being there. Narses curses each ship as he passes them, calling them cowards and flipping them the bird.

The group sees islands along the way, many of them populated with small groups of people. Belisarius explains how many of Qarnill’s islands have people on them, due to ancient law: if you have your own island, you are considered nobility. Thus, many tiny, tiny islands that otherwise would be useless have small families on them so that they may have a noble title. This title has little meaning minus the actual title, but people give great strength to titles, and thus why people often search far and wide for islands to populate.

After traveling a significant distance, the group sees a massive wall up ahead, rising from the ocean. There are troops above walking along it, with towers placed sporadically throughout. Belisarius tells the group of the Wave Breaker, Qarnill’s ocean wall. It forms a physical barrier against any unwanted ships getting in, making Qarnill basically un-assailable by sea. It is a special alloy that is nearly impossible to rust, which came from the great minds of Qarnill.

One of the great gates on the Wave Breaker opens up and allows the ships to pass through. Once inside, the group sees the magnificence of Qarnill. It seems overall more “modern” (for ancient times) look to it, with taller buildings and brighter colors. Boats are everywhere, whether small or big. The group lands at the port, where they are greeted by Qarnill soldiers. Narses jumps off the boat and gives shit to one of the Captains, an old friend of his. The crew disembarks the ship.

Narses: “Guys, I’d like you to meet my friend, Captain Vigilius, and trust me, the name fits the bill. He might be a bit of an uptight guy, but he is damn good at what he does. As much as I know you guys wish I could stay, I must be heading back to Tarentum. I’ll be surprised if it hasn’t been burnt down already without me there!”

Narses and Bel shake hands, and Narses says goodbye to his new friends. The group watches as the ships sail off.

Vigilius: “I will escort all of you to see Lord Justin Marcellus, who wishes to look upon the gold himself.”

The group is escorted through the city, with a large group of soldiers protecting the gold. Everywhere they look it seems the people of Qarnill are studying, or tinkering with something. Machines of different kinds are used for much of the manual labor (machines in terms of levers, pulleys, etc. simple machines), though some people still help out. Almost everything is made of smooth stone, compliments of the advanced technology in the region. After walking a considerable distance, a sign appears that says “Land”. One of the members asks the guard about that, and he says that they just now step foot on real land. The rest of their trip they have been on the manufactured land built to deal with Qarnill’s rapid expansion.

Up ahead, they see Sea Guard, the main fortress of Qarnill. The fortress itself has almost no corners, an advancement made by Qarnill’s architectures to help against siege weaponry (harder to get direct hits on it). Gold and purple banners hang from its walls, with the flag flying high above with the symbol of Qarnill on it, the whale. A mechanized system opens the gates as the group approaches the castle, allowing them inside its walls. They are escorted to the Pergamum, the great hall of Sea Guard. In comparison to the other halls the group has seen, this is by far the most magnificent. A planetarium is above them, showing all the know constellations. There are no windows in this room, with the main light being provided by a sun structure that is located above them; it is bright enough to light the room very well.

Before them they see Lord Justin Marcellus. He stands just under 6 feet tall and is very skinny. He does not look like he would be suited for war, unless that war involved pen and paper. He appears to be in his late 30’s early 40’s. Next to him is Commander Justinian Phokas, Belisarius’s father. The group instantly recognizes him from their similar appearance: Belisarius definitely takes after his dad. There are also guards stationed around.

Lord Marcellus: “Welcome Belisarius and friends! I see you have brought the negotiated terms with you as well. Guards, please take it back to the royal coffers. Thank you. So Belisarius, been keeping up with your studies?”

Lord Marcellus: “Very well. I apologize for my briefness; I must get back to my research. I am very close to making a break-through in my new hydraulic machine. I thank you all again for your help.”

The Lord leaves, when Commander Phokas approaches his son and gives him a big hug.

Commander Phokas: “It is so good to see you again son. How is Tarentum doing?”

Commander Phokas: “That is good to hear. And how are your adventures with this group? I can’t speak highly enough about what all of you are doing. I know you have had a mixed past, but you are making amends for that with your actions in the present. I was told of your accomplishments up north, and now easing tensions between Abastho and Qarnill? I do not know where Arem would be without all of you!”

Commander Phokas: “Son, I have a request for you and these honorable men. We are getting word from some of our more isolated island settlements that raider attacks have been on the rise. These are very insignificant settlements, but we must protect our own no matter what. Will you sail against these foes, in the name of Qarnill?”

Commander Phokas: “Excellent. Here is the map to the location, and here is a signed letter letting the people of that region know you are there to help in the name of Qarnill. Time is of the essence, as I’m not sure how much longer those settlements can hold up. God speed good men, and may the winds bless your sails.”

The group takes their boat out of port and pass through the Wave Breaker unhindered. Once out at sea, they travel for a while when they see a storm is gathering. They prepare the best they can, but soon it hits them, and the boat is being rocked back and forth. Luckily, the group worked together to ready the boat for the storm, and made it safely through.

The group comes upon the island, only to see that the raiders had already gotten there. Many of the buildings are on fire, and there are raiders in the streets. Acting quickly, they saved 6 of the 7 citizens who were in danger, earning them the eternal thanks of this small town. For their troubles, they were given one gold each from Qarnill and offered one gold each by the citizens of the island. Thrawn, Belisarius, and Arathorn give their money back to help the people, while everyone else took the money. They return to Qarnill to report what happened, and then head back to Domith to conclude their adventure.

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Chapter 4

The group returns from Qarnill, having successfully opened trade between the two great cities. They once again meet at Baron Pont’s estate.

Baron Pont: “Congratulations men! The gold is already coming in from the open trade routes, and the merchants of Domith are pleased. I can’t tell you how happy I am with your group. Once again, you take a situation that could very well end in war, and instead turn it into a benefit for all groups involved. Thank you again! But alas, there is never rest for people like us. Every city in Domith has been active lately, don’t you all agree? The North had conflict within until we set it right. Qarnill and Abastho were at each other’s throats. Domith is playing mediator. What city have none of us heard news from lately?”

Baron Pont: “Correct, Forlong. Even with all of the action going around Arem, we have not heard a word from Forlong. The great Tournament of Apples, which I heard Tiberius did very well in, occurred just recently, yet no news from Forlong was heard during the entire event either. And that was held within their borders! This lack of information is concerning, especially with all the cities already being on edge as of late. Thus, I must make another request of your group. I need all of you to go over to Forlong and determine what they are up too.”

“You will be broken up into two groups: Nobles and Commoners. Now I know what all of you are thinking: why split us up like that? Isn’t one point of the group to break those boundaries? Yes, it is. But unfortunately, Forlong doesn’t agree with that. They look at nobility over there VERY highly. The rulers there will not talk with lowly commoners, thus I need you four to go and communicate with them. As a cover, so as to not seem overly suspicious, you will act as traders who wish to barter goods and services between Domith and Forlong. Remembering: setting up a trade route isn’t what’s important; it is getting the info. Fooling the Forlongians into allowing all of you into their kingdom will not be easy; all of my previous envoys have been rejected. Thus, you will need to prove your power and titles are worthy of them. I will leave that up to you four."

“Commoners, you are in a much tougher, though possibly more important, position. Now this is going to be a hard pill to swallow, but you three must act as servants to the nobility. That is the only way we will be able to sneak you guys into the castle so that you can see what is going on. As many of you know: commoners in Forlong are treated like dirt; not much more than animals who haul out the precious gold and jewels from the mountains. You will be ridiculed, and possibly attacked, just for being people of a non-noble birth. But! You will also have more freedom to move about where prying eyes aren’t supposed to be, and that is vital to this mission. The nobility isn’t going to show their hand that easily, but with the commoners moving around in the background, we hope to draw a complete picture of what Forlong has been up too. Any questions?”

Baron Pont: “I wish I could tell you more about this mission, but like I said, we have been getting basically zero information out of Forlong for the last year or so. We must know what they are planning; it could be something big. I need not remind you of the wealth of Forlong. With that type of money, they could be buying a massive army and we wouldn’t know. Money is arguably more powerful than any other force in Arem, or so it has been told. Please, find out what they are doing!"

The group is barely out the door of Baron Pont’s place when a group of men approach them, and draw their swords.

Count Tarfain: “Ah, the dogs of Baron Pont have been released from their kennel have they? How cute.”

Count Tarfain Bhrawn is a noble from Domith, specifically Balantine Hill. His family use to be very prominent, but a series of unfortunate events (theft of a piece of armor from a past relative) cause the house to lose all of its influence. They are very jealous of the Thrawn family as well. Tarfain clearly looks like someone who has something to prove, being very muscular (like he trains all day), in hopes of gaining power for his family once again.

Baron Nigel: “I think you make be giving some of the group too much credit Tarfain. I think dogs would be insulted if you compared them to these commoners. You don’t want to offender your hunting dogs back home!”

Baron Nigel is a noble from Abastho, and clearly thinks he is better than everyone else. His family was very well to do, and spoiled him relentlessly. This type of upbringing made him believe that everything was his by right, not by work, and it clearly shows. Regardless, that money also bought training in the arts of war, education, and combat, and it shows: Nigel, while not as physically strong as his brethren, is still in good shape; more importantly he is extremely knowledgeable about Arem, its people, and the current going ons.

A group of commoners and nobles laugh at that comment, and more begin to gather to see what is going on.

Stone: “Rumors are abound that they do more than just missions for Baron Pont. Many say they serve ALL his needs, if you get my drift….”

The one known simple as STONE is a mountain of a man: at least seven and a half feet tall, he stands as one of the tallest men in Arem. Tall is one thing, but he is just as big. Weighing in at just around 500 pounds, he is not a wiry man by any means. While intimidating just to look upon, the most frightening think about STONE is that he is known to go into a blood rage, where he is basically uncontrollable. In combat, this makes him extremely efficient. STONE originally was a poor commoner, but became a noble after his lord mysteriously died, and had left a will saying that STONE inherited his lands and titles. He is now a noble of Domith.

The onlookers burst into laughter again, making the situation even more volatile

Ranger Halbarad: "Look, they even included a rumored Ranger of the South. That’s pretty surprising, because I’ve heard that they are protecting a “relic” that has insurmountable power. Must not be important enough that they have to keep their members around to protect it. My guess is that the rangers are better off with him here and not there!"

Ranger Halbarad calls the bitter North his home. He lives near the Bluewood Pass, and learned to range there. No one would argue his skills; his arrows fly truer than a raven, and his tracking skills are unmatchable. Unfortunately, he was born with no sense of remorse. He kills with no thoughts of what the consequences are, or how it affects those around him. Halbarad keeps those secrets very close though; no one can find proof of it, but the rumors are abound. Lord Snow has investigated, but found no clear evidence. Combine that with the fact that Halbarad commands one of the greatest archer units in Arem, and you can see why he is hard to pin down for these crimes.

Crowd oohhhhhhhhhhs.

Count Tarfain: “Well I would agree with you there, but the Ranger still might be the best warrior here. Though to be honest, I’d probably put my money on the healer being the strongest member of the group!”

Baron Nigel: “What do you expect? They can hardly be considered noble. Tib here can’t even hold on to his god given right of the first son, Vern is the joke of the North, and Belisaurus can’t even take back a simple city; Butcher of Malaki, isn’t that what they call you?”

Count Tarfain: “Enough of this chatting. We are sick of you simpletons believing you are the change that Arem needs, and we are going to show why we are the future of this land. We challenge all of you to a group duel! Do you submit to our requests, or are you as cowardly as we were led to believe?”

The group is defeated in the duel, but lose nothing but their pride: Baron Pont pays for their ransoms.

As the group leaves Domith, they come across a group of commoners who are talking about the current events of Arem. They speak of a castle in Forlong that has rebelled, a group of thieves who steal from Forlong’s trade carts, and a high ranking noble who wishes to be entertained. The group asks them about locations and information concerning the previously mentioned things.

The first thing the group investigates is some thieves that have been stealing from Forlong merchants as they move about their trade routes. The group talks to the merchants who are getting raided, but they know little of what is really going on as they are higher ups and are only posing as to seem to know anything. The group does convince them to allow a few of the members to hide in the carts and ambush the thieves though.

Meanwhile, Jaque was talking to some local ruffians, but didn’t get far. Eventually, after talking to come commoners, he discovered where the attacks were occurring and set off by himself (without telling the group) to talk to the groups leaders. Earlier, he had learned that no one was being killed in these raids; only goods and supplies were being taken. This made him instantly realize that theses thieves were most likely apart of a local Thieves Guild. After reaching the spot where the raids were occurring, Jaque met Talu, the Thief Captain. He warned her about the ambush the group was planning and to avoid this area for a while. Talu thanked him and went on her way, just as other members of the group arrived. They confronted Jaque, and discovered what he did. A little while later, the rest of the group (who were hiding in the carts) arrived as well, and Jaque was forced to reveal what he had done. A rift was created in the group, splitting the commoners and nobles, with each party being wary of the other.

Following this adventure, the group next approached a group of knights who had revolted against Forlong for how stingy they have been in supporting (weapons, money, etc.) the cities outside of Dianides Range. The group calls upon Sir Leighim, leader of the castle. Sir Leighim was a respected knight of Forlong, having won many duels, squashed many rebellions, and championed many jousting matches. He is still in good shape, but the group can clearly see he is getting older, with pure gray hair covering his head. Even with his age, he still carries himself well, and seems like an honorable man.

Sir Leighim brings up many of his troubles with the Forlongians: lack of food for his people, lack of gold for his daughter, and lack of trading occurring because of Forlong’s recent lock down. While the group was talking to him, Belisarius glimpses his daughter, Anna Leighim, watching down from the castle walls. While not a classic beauty, she had a certain demeanor about her that intrigued Belisarius. He asked to meet, and was instantly infatuated. Anna is an extremely intelligent and kind woman, and has never met someone who didn’t instantly like her. Caught in the grasps of love, Belisarius proposed to Anna, who accepted, and planning for the wedding immediately started.

The wedding occurred rapidly, with many of the Belisarius’s (as well as the groups) friends and family coming. Commander Phokas was there, along with Narses (his best man), who brought way too much alcohol and loose women. The wedding went well, and the reception was a wild time. Many members’ of the group had words to say to the newlyweds:

Thrawn: “May the wind always be at your back, your future on your horizon, and your love for one another in your hearts.”

The Bastard: “Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink. But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love. If you must steal, steal away from bad company. If you must cheat, cheat death. And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away. Love always from your friend The Bastard.”

Kong Fuzi: “I’ve never believed in first love at first sight. But you two are truly meant for each other. I wish nothing but the best for you two. Let your years be many, and your nights be long. Also: I left a zestful present in your corridors.” (Kong Fuzi winks)

At the end of the night, as is tradition in Arem, attendees of the opposite sex “escorted” each newlywed up to their room, all while telling dirty jokes and unclothing that person in preparation for what comes next. Narses, of course, led the way with Anna (who told many dirty jokes during the time at Narses expense), while a large group of women did the same with Belisarius. The marriage rites took place, and all was well. On top of this, Belisarius acquired a new trade route for Samos, which also benefited Sir Leighim due to the supplies and trade going through the area.

Having obtained enough noble notoriety in the Forlong region, the group makes it to the Blackrock Pass, the first of many fortifications protecting Forlong, with this one being located at the bottom of the mountain. As they approach, they see that the gate is shut, and there is absolutely no traffic going in or out via this route. Guards are stationed everywhere.

Forlongian Soldier: “Halt. No one is allowed entry into Forlong by orders of Lord Karanos. Please turn around and return from where you came.”

Forlongian Solider: “Excellent. I will send a raven ahead to let the nobles learn of your arrival. Welcome to Forlong.”

The group slowly marches up the empty trail to Forlong. The trek is hard, as it is a very steep road to the city. The group does not run into any other travelers along their way; it is completely barren. After what seems like forever, the group finally sees the second fortification of Forlong: the Dawning. As a bit of history: the Dawning received its name many ages ago during a tremendous war between Forlong and Nester. Nester’s forces were stationed right outside of Forlong, blockading it from both supplies and allies. The previous Lord, knowing that all was lost if they sat there (seeing as how his scouts told them of Nester reinforcements coming south) devised a strategy that would either win or lose them the war. At dawn the following day, just as the sun came up over the Dawning, the Forlongians led an all-out assault on the encamped Nester troops. With the sun at their backs, making it difficult for the Nesterians to see, the Forlong army crushed their opponents, and thus the Dawning received its name.

The Dawning’s gates were also closed, but opened as the group approached. Out came three nobles, as well as a plethora of guards and servants.

Noble Singard: “Welcome, esteemed nobles, to Forlong. I am Singard, head of Forlong’s trade division. I received the guards raven, and he says you are interested in opening up trade with Forlong. During recent times, these requests would have fallen on deaf ears, but word of your accomplishments has reached me and my colleagues, and thus we made an exception.”

Noble Ferdinand: “I am Ferdinand, and I am in charge of our mining operations. I am most pleased to meet such fine nobles as you. Please, would anyone like food or drink before we start on our journey?” (If they say yes, he sends his servants/commoners out to get food)

Noble Pictor: “Finally, I am Pictor, and I work in our division on Foreign Affairs. Arem is in tumultuous times right now, as I’m sure you all know, thus I must attend these meetings to make sure everything fits into Forlong’s long term strategies. We will talk about that later though. Let us first get to a much more fitting estate for nobles of your reputation.”

The group, escorted by soldiers and servants, start moving through the city via covered wagon, with the commoners walking. The nobles discuss numerous topics during the trip, including trade. As they travel, the group notices how poor the conditions are for the commoners: the buildings look shabby at best, the people are covered in mud and filth, the roads are basically non-existent, and very few seem to be happy. As they continue to get closer to the castle, they reach the third fortification of Forlong: Gemstone. It is a large wall that separates the commoners from the nobles. It received its name from the gemstones that inline it; this is, of course, only on the noble side. On the commoner side there is nothing. Many intellectually works have been focused on this wall and how it represents the social division between the commoners and nobles not only in Forlong, but in all of Arem, but that discussion is for a different time. Once inside, the group is amazed by the extravagance of it all. Gorgeous homes with amazing architecture, beautiful roads, guards protecting the each house, and gems and gold everywhere. This, without a doubt, is the richest single area in Arem.

As they continue on, they finally see Highwind Keep, castle of Forlong, just as night is about to fall. It is surrounded by open air and long falls on three sides. They also see a pulley/elevator system for moving things up and down the mountainous region faster. It seems to be consistently busy as the group approaches the keep. High above on a pole, which could possibly be the highest man made structure in Arem, flies the flag of Forlong: grey and brown, with an eagle on it.

The group enters through the large, massive doors, and enters Morian, the great hall of Forlong. It is even more extravagant than the nobles’ home outside: artwork crafted by Arem’s best hangs on the wall, jewel encrusted cups and plates are set up neatly for the nobles, and the throne, which is made of pure diamond. It is the single most expensive item in all of Arem, and legend has it that in the ancient past, when Forlong was first being settled, a miner struck a hard rock not knowing what it was. The blow ended up breaking apart the stone, and all that was left was this throne, which than became the seat of the Lord of this land. While the group is admittedly apprehensive about believing this story, they do notice that the diamond is not a “fine cut”: it lacks symmetry, and looks rough, as if unworked on by man. (Just for general information: diamond cutting at this time is still a work in progress; it has not been perfected)
Once inside, they see a gathering of nobles discussing numerous things, with one man sitting prominently on the diamond throne. Pictor walks up to him and kneels, motioning for all of you to do the same.

Pictor: “I would like to introduce you all to Duke Tassillo, current controller of Forlong while are dear Lord Karanos is incapacitated.”

Duke Tassillo: “Welcome traders. You are a very lucky bunch to be allowed into Forlong; are great Lord Karanos has declared than no one should enter during these troubling times. But, we are always looking for new ways to diversify are trading options, and especially with nobles of your reputation. Tomorrow, we will start the talks. For now, please join us for drinks and food. (Tells a servant to go fetch everyone food and drink). You may tell your servants to leave; we have no need of them here. We will escort them down to the servant’s quarters.”

The commoners are escorted roughly down to the servant’s quarters while the nobles schmooze up stairs. The servant’s quarters are disgusting, more apt for animals than humans. The beds are all very old, using only straw as beading. The commoners relieve themselves in the corners with buckets, and there is no access to water other than what the guards bring down. Everyone is filthy, until it is their shift, at which point they are promptly washed and fitted with their outfit. As the three walk down, an older gentleman walks up to them.

Old Man: “Hello there youngsters. People around here call me Old Man. Why old man? Well I started off as Young Boy, than Teenager, than Man, and now I’m finally Old Man! HAHAHAHA! I unfortunately can’t remember what my name was, it has been so long since anyone has called me by it. Plus, us commoners don’t deserve names do we, at least according to the nobles….”

Old Man: “So you must all be new here. Well let me give you some advice: keep your head down, don’t talk back to anybody, and do your work. If you do that, you’ll be just fine; don’t, and you’ll be in a world of hurt! But wait….(he eyes the group)”

Old Man: “You aren’t servants are you? I’ve been one long enough to realize that. What are you guys actually doing here?”

Old Man: “Understood (winks). I don’t know why I’m doing this, but maybe because you three remind me of a son I lost long ago. The nobles torn him away from me; to this day I still do not know why. Probably one of their games they always play with us, like were there toys…anyways, we have clean up duty here on our next rotation. Would you boys care to join us? It is dirty work, but least you get to see all of this beautiful castle!”

The commoners are now free to explore the castle and obtain evidence concerning what Forlong is up to. They first go to the strategy room, where they memorize defensive locations as well as steal important military correspondences (which they unfortunately can’t read because it is in code). Next, they headed to the armory, where Kong Fuzi healed an injured man, who then informed them about military plans, as well as obtained information from others in the area. Finally, they went to the training yard, where they met a solider by the name of Felix. While walking along, he had accidentally knocked over one of the commoners. He walks over to the commoner, who thinks he is about to get yelled at or beat, but instead the man puts out his hand and helps him up.

Felix: “I am sorry friend. I was overly clumsy; I’m just exhausted from all this training. But I will not stop! I must be ready to defend Arem’s walls!”

Felix: “I know Forlong has a reputation of hating commoners, but that’s not all of us. I myself was a commoner at one point, so I know how it is. Regardless of the prejudices, I love this land, and will defend it.”

They obtained the final piece of information from this man, and having collected enough evidence, returned to the commoner’s quarters.

Meanwhile, the nobles were discussing topics, including trade, with Singard, Pictor, and Ferdinand. They start in the Morian, but then move about the castle, though nowhere that reveals anything. They are showed the beautiful views of the castle, which are amazing. The group talks with the nobles about many different topics, eventually prying information from them, including: setting up defenses in Forlong, the health of the king, who implemented the policies, and why Forlong is being so secretive.

After the discussion, the group retires for the night. They wake the next day to a lavish breakfast, fit for a king. They also wake up to summons from Jaque, who was caught trying to steal from the Gemstone. He might have made it, but bumped into a metal pole which alerted the gaurds. It should be noted that he was slightly drunk during this time, having just drank one of the Bastard’s Appletop Beers. The group pays four gold to bail him out. After that ordeal, the nobles return to Morian and see all the Forlongian nobles, including Duke Tassillo, Pictor, Singard, and Ferdinand, enter the room, seeming to have just come from a meeting.

Pictor: “After discussion with the Duke, and careful consideration, we are sad to inform you that we cannot allow a trade policy to be implemented between us. The policies in place by our King are non-negotiable, we are sad to admit. Duke Tassillo sends his regrets. Sadly, also along with those policies, we must ask you to go. No outside people are allowed into Forlong. Again, many apologizes fine nobles, but the King’s word stands.”

The commoners are now allowed to enter the room, and go up to the Nobles. The group talks for a bit with Pictor, Singard, and Ferdinand, before leaving. They are not escorted out, due to respect for their nobility.

Right before they leave, one of the servants comes up and says a raven has arrive carrying a letter for Vern. Vern opens it to see that it is from Miranda. It is a cordial invitation to her wedding to Prince Robert Snow. She wishes him, and his friends, to attend the event. Also, she wants Vern to act as one of the Ushers at the wedding. Miranda knows that Vern is a good man underneath that hard exterior, and wishes to help him out. Having Vern be an usher to the future Lady of the North will surely boost his acceptance in the north, and it is the least she can do for a good friend.

The group leaves, but before completely leaving Forlong, they decide to stop by Hop Inn to have a few drinks and see some old friends. The Bastard promises that everyone there is friendly, and they won’t get in trouble for going there since, and I quote: “No noble would be seen within miles of that place!”

After a bit of a trek, they reach Hop Inn. Inside, it is rather quiet, with just a few patrons drinking. The Bastard responds that this is due to the limited funds that the commoners have; what little they do have goes to support friends or family. He goes on to say that while many people believe the riches of Forlong come from the gold and gems, the true riches come from the friendship between the commoners. Everyone looks out for each other, because they have too; if they didn’t stick together, they would have even less than they do now.

The Bastard takes a seat at the bar with the others joining him. A busty woman comes up and gives him a kiss on the forehead; her name is Martha, and she is the bar keep/manager of this Inn. She is a very, very kind lady unless you anger her (as often happens when people get TOO DRUNK). The first drinks are on the house. The group sees lovely women walking around the Inn, but again, not a ton of customers. Martha mentions that business is up and she is having a hard time obtaining supplies, in large part due to the nobles hoarding it all for themselves.

Just as they are starting to enjoy themselves, a flaming molotov comes burst in through the window and starts the place on fire. The Bastard yells for Martha and all the patrons to head out the back entrance while everyone in the group unsheathes their swords. With firing ranging around them, a group of men walk in, covered from head to toe in black garb.

Mysterious Man: “Are you the Bastard of Lurvel?”

Mysterious Man: “We are here to finish the job,” he says this very calmly as the enemy party all unsheathes their weapons.

The battle between the groups were epic, as the Hop Inn burned around them. The Mysterious Man was a little to gunho, believing himself to be invincible. Unfortunately for him, Kong Fuzi laid a devastating blow onto him. Severely weakened, he tried to flee, but instead fell into the fire and burned to death. With their leader gone, the rest of the assassins fled, with three making it to the boat before having to cut anchor and ride down the Lurvel. Two assassins were left behind, but promptly killed themselves when they realized the situation was hopeless.
During the battle, The Bastard approached the dying Mysterious Man and asked him who sent the assassins.

Mysterious Man: “D…D….”

Mysterious Man: “Duke…Tassillo…sends his…..regards…”

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