Sunday, November 26, 2017

It Begins

Amon’Kel, servant of Amon’Zhakar

Amon’Kel.  The name rings odd in my ears, for it is not my hatch-name.  Yet, for all its strangeness, it is the name by which this new world will know me.  It is the will of Amon’Zhakar, He Who Burns, that I take this name and by this name his enemies will know their doom.

My brood-mates chittered nervously as we entered the sacred chamber.  The ancient blade had been placed upon the sacred stone alter for the ceremony, it’s black blade gleamed like a sliver of the night sky in the flickering torchlight.  We fell to our knees in a ring around the dais, our hoods pulled low over our brows.  The Brood-Master intoned the words of the ceremony, just as it had been done for generations and we waited, as every Brood had waited, for nothing.  Nothing had happened in these ceremonies for a very long time, since the death of Amon’Tzarka, last of the Chosen.

The Brood-Master’s chanting stopped and those around me started to rise.  I could not.  My limbs felt heavy, a red haze dimmed my vision.  I heard a gasp, it might have been the Brood-Master, I cannot tell, and my skin started to burn.  My brood-mates scrambled away from me with cries of surprise and fear.  I rose shakily to my feet and observed reddish-purple flames dancing along my arms, over my chest, and down my legs.  A voice, like a hoarse whisper, filled my ears.   It spoke a twisted, tortured language that I, somehow, understood.  I knew it was the voice of the long-dead Dragon, Amon’Zhakar, bound to the black blade and I knew that I was his Chosen.

Though I cannot bear the blade, no living being could, its power is still mine.  As long as I serve the will of Amon’Zhakar, I will have access to that power.  Now, the first of my people in many hatchings, I go forth into the world of men and elves to reclaim that which we lost.  My people will return to prominence and reclaim our power in this world as we had eons ago, when the skies were ruled by our progenitors.
The people of the flame shall rise again….

Male Dragonborn Warlock 1
Medium humanoid, lawful evil
Armor Class 18 (scale mail, shield)
Hit Points 12 (1d8+4)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 13 (+1), DEX 14 (+2), CON 18 (+4), INT 8 (-1), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 16 (+3)
Saving Throws Wis +4, Cha +5
Skills Insight +4, Intimidation +5, Investigation +1, Perception +4
Damage Resistances fire
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages Common, Draconic, Goblin


Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 1d8+3 slashing damage or 1d10+3 slashing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.

Unarmed Strike. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
Hit: 2 bludgeoning damage.

Equipment Longsword, scale mail, shield, backpack, component pouch, crowbar, hammer, piton (10), rations (10), rope, hempen (50 feet), tinderbox, torch (10), waterskin

The Party

Theolaerynn Liwanu, High Elf Rogue

The first five years of Theolaeryn's young life went as would be expected for any High Elf child born of prominent figures in a larger Elvish city.  While his mother was a healer, his father was a Wizard and expected Theolaerynn to follow in his footsteps.

On his 5th birthday Theo learned his first cantrip, Ray of Frost, and was incredibly proud of himself.  His mother's smile was a ray of light, but his father seemed only slightly less aloof than he ever was, making the moment bittersweet.

Such things are short lived in the eyes of a five year old, however, and it wasn't long before most of the hurt was forgotten and he once again found joy in each and every moment.

Later that year his mother was called upon to assess a previously unknown illness that was found not to be contagious, but did seem to have an arcane element to it.  It was thought that if she and her husband looked at it together that they might make more sense out of it.  Because the illness only seemed to inflict a very rural village, and because she didn't know how long this would take, she chose to bring Theo as well.  It would be good to expose him to rural life, to expose him to a way of life he as yet had no concept of.

Soon Theo found himself in the family carriage, laying in a pool of sunlight, gently rocked to sleep by the sway and dip of the carriage as it traveled over the rural roads, and by the gentle sound of his mothers voice as she talked with his father.

His memory of the days that followed has always eluded his grasp, tantalizing and teasing like the morning mist on a lake as the wind chases it first one way and then another.  What he does recall he wishes that he wouldn't.  The sightless eyes of his mother, the arrow protruding from her throat, and later the feelings of thirst, hunger and fear.  The last of the frugal memories from that time is the sound of a soothing voice, a shocked laugh, and darkness.

When he awoke from that darkness he was in an unfamiliar cottage, in an unfamiliar bed, wrapped in unfamiliar smells and sounds.  An early-middle-aged man sat at a well worn but rustic table, pouring over a sheaf of documents.  Human eyes looked up and Theo could feel himself being carefully measured and weighed.

John Cobbler.  The name still brought mixed emotions.  The joy of a life well-lead, and the sorrow of the brief lives of mortal men.  Theo was forty five when John joined his ancestors at 70, in the comfort of his own bed in that same cottage.

In that 40 years John had taught Theo all of the important things fathers taught their sons, like honor and duty and the worth of family.  He also gave Theo his surname, Liwanu, which means Growl of the Bear.  He gave Theo that name, he said, because when he found him in the wreckage of the carriage and its escorts, standing over the days-old corpse of his mother, he used the last of his remaining strength to scream savage defiance as John approached.  And then he passed out and did not awake again until he was back at Johns cottage.

John was an Investigator, sharp and observant, and was often called on to look into some of the harder to solve crimes in the rural area where they lived.  Not the high crimes of the city, but crimes none the less.  He taught Theo everything he knew, starting that very day that Theo first woke in his cottage, setting out to find out what happened to his parents.  A task that would take several years, even though it ended up to be one of the simplest and oldest of motives:  Greed.  One of his fathers rivals had him assassinated, something made easier by that fact that this wasn't something that was typically done in the High Elf city.  They were above that sort of thing, or so they thought.

The High Elf that had sanctioned Theolaerynn's father had a lot of power and was thus not sentenced to the death he deserved, but was rather 'retired' to the country, where he would live for a while in luxurious boredom until people forgot about the incident.

Theo was enraged!  It took John a long time to convince him that anger was a useless emotion, and that all it did was make people do stupid things like seek vengeance.  Vengeance, he said, was for the weak and undisciplined, and it did as much if not more harm to the person seeking it than it did to the person it was delivered upon.

That was Johns first real lesson for Theo, and it was a very difficult one to understand.  But with time he did understand, and was able to let the anger go.

When he finally found the peace that comes from letting vengeance go, John taught him his second profound lesson by throwing a head at his feet.  Looking down at the face of his fathers murderer he came to understand Justice.

John's passing was very painful for Theo and he began to wander the world, paying his way as an investigator, staying for a few years here, and a few years there.  Brief moments in the life of an Elf.  Time spent in search of himself.

But now that he is an adult, older and wiser, he feels the need to do something more.  What that is he is not yet sure of, but he knows he will recognize it when he finds it.

Alston Nim, Rock Gnome Wizard 

Alston Nim was always a bright and curious child who loved to explore.  This got him into trouble on more than one occasion, usually resulting in a lecture from him mother and a stern look from his father.  He couldn't help himself, there was just so much to see and so little time.  He also never felt like he got into too much trouble, that was until the falling out.  He was rummaging around his neighbor's garden, playing and eating some vegetables (she always shared with his family, so why did it matter if he took some now).  The next thing he knows, his mother is there pulling him out and participating in a yelling match with the neighbor lady.  He remembers others looking on, his father showing up, and a few days later they were leaving the clan.  Alston felt ashamed of this for a very long time, not realizing until years later that this was the final straw in a brewing feud that went back years.  His parents never spoke of the true reason for the feud, just that it wasn't really Alton's fault.  At the time all he knew was that it was his fault, and he would never see his friends again.

The Nim family found themselves a new home many weeks travel from where they had previously lived, settling in a small cave complex that was large enough for their family, with room to spare.  He remembers his parents stating that this was a fresh start in a place where they could grow their family beyond just Alston.  This excited Alston, the thought of a sibling, and he decided it was up to him to prepare for what must be the imminent arrival of a little brother.  He was allowed to roam the surrounding area after what seemed like an eternity of being stuck in the cave, looking at the same old rocks.  He felt like he could live again, with so much area to explore it was an exciting time.  It was imperitive that he find areas to explore with his new brother, though curiosity always drove him to fully explore these new areas alone.

One day he was following the rock face of his home, and he ventured a bit further than his mother allowed.  The whole area was overtaken with vines and bushy plants, but behind this he discovered a tiny opening about his size.  Crawling inside, he discovered bones that belonged to some bipedal creature, a long stick, a book, and some rock with symbols carved on them.  The bones initially made him recoil in fear, but his curiosity again took over and he got closer.  One hand was grasping the stick, and both hands were extended toward the opening.  The pages were almost completely disentigrated, but he could make out what seemed like words in a language he had never seen before.  He had learned to read a few years before, so this new language intrigued him.  The same letters or symbols appeared on the stone, but he wasn't sure what it was.  The dark didn't help, so he thought a fire would help.  He had watched his mom do this for many years, and during the recent excursions he got bold enough to borrow the thing used for lighting fires and wanted to experiment with it.  After lighting a fire he found that he still couldn't read the letters on the stone, even holding it up close to the light.  That's when he realized how close he actually was, but the fire didn't hurt.  That is, it didn't hurt until he dropped the stone, then the pain was immediate.  He tried to grab the stone and back away at the same time, but the moment he touched the stone he realized that he no longer felt the heat, only the pain from the burn remained and that was even minimized.

Over the next few months he would take more excursions to the cave to study his finding even more.  It was always frustrating as he didn't have enough info to learn this new language.  It was on one of these excursions that it finally happened: his father found him.  Alston was studying the rock and the book when suddenly the little light that came from the cave entrance was blotted out and a shape approached.  The space inside was so small he had no place to run to, so he was stuck, and then he heard the familiar voice of his father: "So what have you been up to son?".  Alston braced for the worst, but instead his father used a calm tone, and seemed genuinely interested.  Over the next few minutes his father explained who he really is: a wizard who had been searching for a fellow wizard that had never returned from a quest.  Alston had so many questions, he had only heard of wizards in bedtime stories, he didn't think they were real or that his father was one.  His mind reeling, he barely registered what his father was asking of him, to repeat a phrase.  The words made no sense, but he said them, and suddenly a light appeared, momentarily blinding him.  He heard a satisfied "Hmph" from his father, then the words that would change the trajectory of his life: "Son, I think you have an affinity for magic, would you like to follow in your father's footsteps?"

What followed was confirmation of his magical ability by other wizards, basic studying, and some trials.  His mother was not happy, she didn't want to part ways with him so early in life, but her father assured her it was for the best.  He heard things like "lots of power" and "to protect both you and him".  Alston couldn't understand this, he would never hurt his mother.  Did his father think he was a bad child?  But before he knew it, his father was there again, in front of him and with his mother weeping and saying it would be okay.  He wouldn't be away forever, just for a little while.  Looking back, he's not sure if she was lying to him or to herself.

A little while turned into months, then into years.  Sure, he got to see his mother occasionally and return to his home (now with a little brother and sister), but each visit got shorter, and the time between visits grew longer.  He was kept busy with reading in the vast library and practices in the yard.  In the beginning were basic spells like light and protection, but before he'd be allowed on a quest he had to learn offensive spells as well.  To be allowed this level of power, he had to gain maturity, which meant more study time, and more time with defensive spells.  Maturity was slow to arrive, slower than his patience.  He tried to find a way into the part of the library where the damage tomes were stored, but each time he was kicked out and reprimanded.  Just like his time as a child when he was out exploring, he finally got his wish and found a way to one of the tomes that had Magic Missile.  He memorized the words, returned the book, and made his way outside.  He quickly checked to be sure he was alone, then he said the words he read in the book.  He could feel the power course through him as he stared at the practice dummy, but instead of firing bolts of energy, they blew up directly in front of him.  He was knocked back and a circle of bare earth appeared where he had been standing, dirt and grass flying.

He awoke some time later in the infirmary, his father at his side.  Upon waking, his father gave him the same stern look that he hated as a kid, got up, and walked out.  Alston's ego and feelings were as hurt as his body.  Through accelerated healing he was physically ready to return to studies, but mentally he wasn't and his teachers refused to let him near the library or the practice yard for a month.  Over time he was able to make ammends with his teachers, but he knew that they would never forget what he did.  He may have been a child, but they had expected more.

Several years of study and practice went by, including the study of offensive spells, and it was time to go on a quest.  He was paired with two older instructors and several his approximate age; he outshone the other children through his ability to solve puzzles and to take down enemies that the other children couldn't.  After performing just as well in several more quests, he was put on the fast track to gaining the title of Wizard.  After a dozen such quests, he no longer went out with other children but instead went as an apprentice, being the only child in a group of adult Wizards.

Upon reaching the age of 18, he was allowed to leave the school with the title of Wizard.  His father had long ago returned home to be with his wife, and to protect that region from the forces of evil, but he returned for the graduation ceremony.  Alston never did return home, his thirst for knowledge and adventure providing too much pull.  The day will come when he returns home, it's just that today is not that day.  He knows that there are countless caves out there just like the one he discovered as a child, each potentially harboring some new creature to document or tome to read.  He spent his adolescence reading the accumulated knowledge of many authors, some day his own knowledge will reside among the others.