A young woman from Telchos suddenly finds herself surrounded by attackers. She is knocked out and when she awakes finds herself on a ship, bound for a life of slavery in a distant realm...
A dwarven gunner from the mountain kingdom of Bor bids farewell to his family and sets out into the world looking for mercenary work. He has his morals though, and won't just sell his services to the highest bidder...
A magician from the Brotherhood of the Crystal Star is sent by his superiors to investigate a merchant in Casiorn. Ruomour has it that he is a renegade Brother...
Two Kai Lords, best of friends, are summoned by a Kai Master. They are not the most gifted of students, and are told that the best way to further their skills is by venturing out into the world. The very nex morning they leave on their journey...
Fate behaves in strange and fabulous ways. Five people, from vastly different backgrounds, who are destined to meet and play a big part in the future of Magnamund. And meet they all did, on the road from Casiorn to Quarlen on a cold Autumn day.
After leaving the Monastery, the two Kai Lords – Silver Star and Green Flame – journeyed south to Ruanon, a mining province in southern Sommerlund. There they met with Laren, the Brother of the Crystal Star, who was heading to Casiorn on his mission. Having nowhere better to go, the two Kai agreed to accompany him.
Meanwhile Alleyn, they young Telchos woman, had escaped her captors and found her way to Casiorn. There she managed to find someone who could speak her language: a fat, short merchant named Yasif, who incidently was the same man the three young Sommlending were on their way to investigate. Yasif agreed to hire Alleyn on as a caravan guard until she could raise enough money for passage home. A day later the three Sommlending were hired on as well, which allowed them plenty of time to study the man.
And so we find ourselves on the road between Casiorn and Quarlen. Yasif was transporting foodstuffs to Quarlen and so far the journey had been quiet. That night things would change.
From out of the forest that bordered the main road to the north came a bandit raiding party. They attacked quickly and silently, killing two of the other guards before the alarm was raised. Green Flame felled one with his deadly warhammer, using his mindforce – a special ability taught to some of the Kai – to aid in this matter. Silver Star battled two of the men, who were slowly getting the better of him. Laren defended himself the best he could; he was armed with a spear, but had been trained in magic, not weapons. Even so he managed to erect a shield of force which gave him some protection, until Alleyn was able to come to his aid, her shiel-fa cutting down enemies.
A second wave of raiders suddenly burst from the trees and rushed at the caravan. For a moment Yasif thought the battle was lost. But then, unexpectedly, a thunderous boom! echoed along the road. Everyone stopped, stunned, and saw a dwarf on the road ahead re-loading his musket, ready for another shot. Obviously the raiders knew all to well the danger the dwarf and his rifle presented, for they turned and fled back the way the had come, leaving their dead for the vultures.
The dwarf approached, his hand extended in friendship. “I am Rimlon, and I see my arrival was timely.”
Shaking his hand, Green Flame responded. “Indeed, master dwarf, your assistance was welcome.”
After introducing himself to the others, and after Silver Star had tended the wounds of the guards, Yasif offered Rimlon a place as a guard until they reached Quarlen. The offer was accepted, and ths our band of heroes was formed.
“It is the Age of the Golden Sun, centuries since the defeat of the Darklord Vashna at the battle of Maakengorge by King Ulnar and his allies from the land of Durenor. For generations, Sommerlund and the surrounding kingdoms have had peace, safe in the knowledge that evil was banished from the land beneath the gleaming edge of the legendary Sommerswerd. Though the forces of the Darklords swore vengeance as they retreated from the pass of Moytura, long years of silence have proven those words empty and the powers of good rest confident in their victory.
“But not everyone is so certain that peace will last. In the forested heart of Sommerlund, the Kai Monastery stands ever vigilant in their sacred task of protecting the world from the horrors of Vashna and his dark spawn. The Mage Guild of Toran continues to practice their battle magic, knowing that someday their mystical powers will be needed once more on the battlefield. And across the gulf of Durenor, legions of Durenese warriors train in the arts of war.
“There are others who feel the stirrings of darkness in the land. In the shadowy places of Magnamund, minions of the foul Darklords travel in secret and make their way into the most protected of places. No city is safe from their traffic; they move like a fetid wind and slip their way unseen where no creature should be able to go. They hide in abandoned buildings, in dying trees, and in the deepest places of the world. The dark forces of evil have once again returned to their ancient lairs, readying themselves for the tide of death that is sure to come.
“But Magnamund is a vast world and though the Darklords are a grave threat to all life, the many kingdoms and nations of the land have their own shadows to contend with. Sharnazim warriors keep their bitikali scimitars keen, ready at all times to drive back the advances of the united Nael-Aluvian nations. Though the unity of the alliance between Durenor and Sommerlund still holds from the last Crusade, many smaller nations in both kingdoms still battle each other in ceaseless border skirmishes over land and ancient disputes with no end in sight.
“The lands of men make war with each other while the eternal Darklords laugh in their blackened hall. Their lord and master Vashna may be gone and his power broken in centuries past, but the greatest part of their strength has returned with time. The world is nearly ready for their conquest, but for now they play with the hearts of those who dwell in brighter lands. A false word in the ear of one petty king drives his nation to war while a simple assassination drives another to close its borders permanently.
“These machinations go undetected because men believe the darkness is gone. The many nations of Magnamund are so eager to trust in their own power that they cannot see the dangers that lie beneath the surface of their supposed ‘peace’. The world shudders beneath the weight of the Darklord’s manipulations, and none can see this evil for what it truly is.
“Through puppets, spies, and quiet killers, the might of Helgedad reaches out to crush all the lands of light in its vile grasp. Magador’s king is a killer and a pretender, but he rules through the assurance of dark masters he is foolish enough to believe he can control. In Drodarin, the dwarven Gunners of Bor have developed terrible weapons of steel and flame but, at the whispered insistence of the Helghasts haunting their Tower Lords, they have these deadly guns pointed at their neighbors out of fear and paranoia. ‘All too easy,’ say the Masters of Helgedad. ‘All too easy.’
“In this year, 5000 years after the creation of the Moonstone, we need heroes, my friends. Heroes who can drive back the darkness and save us all from damnation.”
The patrons of the Barrel Bridge Tavern booed the storyteller. They had wanted an uplifting story, not a doom-and-gloom story.
Our heroes were enjoying a warm meal with Yasif. “That 'bard' could not tell a story if his life depended on it,” spat the merchant. He ordered another mug of jala. “Love the stuff,” he explained.
“Anyway, let me tell you a story. There is castle just west of here, called Castle Taunor. It was built around 600 years ago by a Prince named Lyden. But just a few years later it came under attack from a rival baron. The Prince broke the siege, but ten years later he was killed at the Battle of Tido. His body was buried in the chapel of the castle and, a year later, a fountain sprang up in the courtyard of the castle. What was remarkable was that the water was able to heal wounds and cure illness. Many battles have since been fought to gain control of the waters, but the water stopped flowing about 400 years ago. Since then the castle has fallen into ruin and is largely forgotten.
“But, my friends, I have heard a rumour about Castle Taunor. It seems that the healing property of the water is influenced by the presence of one of the Lorestones of Nyxator. Of course, this is only rumour, but it is intriguing isn’t it?”
Yasif drained the last of the jala from his mug and then stood up. “Well, I must be of to bed. I leave for Varetta in the morning. In fact, if you are not doing anything, meet me there in nine days. I will have more work for you.”
Our heroes looked at each other, everyone one of them thinking the same thing; tomorrow they were heading out to Castle Taunor!
The sun shone over a pleasant but cool morning as the group left Quarlen. Immediately outside the city walls a carnival was taking place. Sideshow freaks, jugglers, fire-breathers and midgets could be seen entertaining passers-by. Rimlon bought a couple of hunks of roasted lamb for breakfast while the others watched an acrobat perform, before all five headed off to the west.
By mid-afternoon the party were following the road that winded its way through lightly forested hills. The sun was warm, although Winter was fast approaching; they could expect the first snows of the year within weeks. Three travelers were coming towards them, their hands on their weapons. At first Alleyn was suspicious of them, but they passed by peacefully. Suddenly, the hiss of steel being drawn from scabbards could be heard as the three men drew their short-bladed swords. One of the men grabbed Laren around the throat, the point of his blade pressed into the magician's back. “Hand over those nice fat money pouches ya have there,” said the bandit in a rough voice. Unfortunatley for him he didn't know who he was dealing with.
Green Flame attacked the bandit holding Laren with his mindblast, causing the man to reel back in shock. Rimlon's axe had loped the head off one of the other bandits before he could react. The first bandit recovered, and both men backed away cautiously. If they had of retreated they would still be alive, but these were not the smartest bandits in the world. Instead they attacked, five on to two. A quick thrust of Silver Star's short sword and a lethal, whipping attack from the shiel-fa of Alleyn and the fight was over.
“We must bury them, even though they probably deserve to rot,” Silver Star stated. Rimlon was all in favour of leaving them, but when the others looked at him strangely he agreed that, ok, maybe they should bury them – though he made sure to strip them of their Gold Crowns before he did so. Alleyn also took a suvenior; the bandit leaders sword, which had been held to Laren's back, was of fine craftsmanship and was engraved with beautiful runes. Thinking a second weapon should be useful, the Telchos warrior-woman tucked it into her belt and, when the burial was completed, headed off with the others.
Castle Taunor was situated in a secluded valley north of the Varetian Highway. Its crumbling walls were covered in moss and vines, its gate having long ago been smashed into splinters. The small group entered the courtyard of this once great keep and saw more ruin. Buildings were now nothing but rubble; even the main tower of the castle had long ago fallen into ruin. Amazingly, in the middle of all this, stood a fountain. Untouched by the ravages of destruction around it, the fountain depicted a roaring dragon. Clear water fell fom its open mouth into a basin below.
“This must be the healing water that Yasif spoke of,” muttered Silver Star. The group crept slowly towards it. “Anyone here wish to take a drink?”
Laren closed his eyes and concentrated for a second. “I can't detect anything magical about it,” he said. “Silver Star, you have learnt the healing arts, have you not?”
“My abilities don't stretch that far,” he replied.
“Only one way to find out laddies!” boomed Rimlon. He bent over and scooped up a mouthful of water. “Ah! Doesn't beat a good brew, but it's quite refreshing!”
At that moment Alleyn heard something behind them. In one motion she spun and drew here newly aquired short sword; just in time, as a feral looking humanoid charged at her. It had the head and body of a wild boar, but the eyes and hands of a human. It carried a primitive wooden spear, which was directed straight at the Telchos woman.
Alleyn shouted a warning as the creature approached. It stabbed at her, but she managed to dance to one side. She had to get inside the reach of it, so she stepped forward, sword slashing upwards. The creature was quick however, and it slashed with its weapon, raking the point of the spear painfully across Alleyn's right shoulder. She gave an involuntary yelp of pain.
Green Flame was the first of the others to act. He launched a mental assault at the beast, while at the same time moving towards it, his warhammer held at the ready. Silver Star headed towards Alleyn, while Laren readied his spear just in case. Rimlon drew his axe, gave a Drodarin battle cry and charged into the fray.
Alleyn gasped as pain shot through her shoulder. The creature was now outnumbered and at a distinct disadvantage, but still it came on. Once again it aimed at the injured Telchos and she barely managed to deflect the attack. However, this move had left it open to a counter attack, and Green Flame took advantage, bringing his warhammer down upon its head. The creature collapsed in a heap as its skull was crushed.
Silver Star caught the Telchos warrior as she fell to her knees. With the help of Laren, they lifted her over to the fountain. “Here, drink,” said the Kai Lord. She did as she was told. It took a moment, but the pain started to fade. Slowly at first, but then quicker. Amazed, they watched as the bleeding stopped; then, even more amazingly, the would began to knit itself together. After half a minute or so, the wound was gone, only a faint line showing that it had ever been there.
“Well,” said Green Flame. “It's definitely the healing water.” He ran is hand through his hair and returned the warhammer to his belt. “We should rest a moment, then look around for where the Lorestone might be.” The others agreed.