Decem Reliquias

To Cross a River

With full bellies and full saddlebags, it was now time for the adventurers to find a way to cross the river Réveiller. Since swimming the half-mile wide river would ruin their newfound collection of books, this option was ruled out. Traveling west along the river bank yields no bridges. Finally, Réveiller empties into a large lake. On the shores of Lac Corbeauthe lies the small, odd town of Blaye.

Ferrying in Blaye is a lucrative business, as many travelers wish to go to or from Labric, the town across the lake. Corryn sizes up the four ferries at the dock, and decides the one captained by the young, attractive woman seems the most structurally sound. Armon thinks he can get a better deal though; five silver per passenger is terribly expensive. The first ferry captain, an old grumpy man, shuns him for fraternizing with the “enemy”. The second is not leaving for five more days, and the third requests thirty silver per passenger. Jenna, the ferry captain, smirks knowingly when he comes back to put his name on the list, and informs them they will be leaving at nightfall. This seems very odd to everyone not from Blaye. Jenna sends them back to the old man to find out why. She does not have time to educate the foreigners on local customs and legends.

For a silver, the old man tells his tale:

No one has sailed on Lac Corbeauthe during the day for as long as I can remember. It’s been that way since my grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather was a boy. Man eating crows hunt during the day, and will kill anyone who wonders too close to their island. Legend says that a beautiful witch used to live here. Many suitors sought her hand, and many were refused. Finally she chose one, and they were married and lived on a tiny island not far off shore. Unfortunately it did not last long. It’s said that she murdered her husband and cursed the island. Ever since, no one who has visited the island has come back alive. Any who venture too close are food for the bloody crows. The crows sleep at night, so that is when we sail.

Everyone remains thoroughly unconvinced that the island is cursed or that the crows pose a real threat. However the ferry captains are adamant and none of them will leave until dusk. To Tyree, the unidentifiable black specks hovering above the water in the distance are no deterrent. Always seeking to prove himself, he scans the shore for a boat to take him to the cursed island. After considering his options, he decides that stealing a boat would not be polite. No one else is keen to test the local myths, so they hunker down in the local tavern to wait for sundown.

A runner arrives at the tavern and informs Corryn that Captain Jenna is ready to depart. As the passengers file onto the ferry, Broga recognizes two of the other passengers. They are the two well armed dwarves Marius refused back at the Hanged Man in Val Royeaux, only now accompanied by three more dwarves, one of which has the distinct marking of a fellow Duster. They exchange wary glances, but do not engage in either combat or conversation. Much to everyone’s surprise, the trip across the lake goes without incident. Finally, they reach Labric and check in to the Toothless Ogre to settle in for a nice relaxing evening…

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A Slight Detour

On the way out of Val Royeaux, the two mages, Marius and Corryn, the dwarf Broga, the Avar Tyree and the Nevarran Armon encounter a large caravan making preparations to leave. Armon is nominated to speak with the leader of the caravan to see if they would like some additional guards. He approaches the most decorated looking soldier with his offer. Upon questioning Armon about his credentials, the soldier decides twenty-five elite Chevaliers are enough to guard the Empress, and they do not need any additional help, especially from unqualified, inexperienced adventurers. The party decides to strike out on their own; Corryn on a horse on the Circle’s silver, the rest, begrudgingly, on foot. They decide to take a shortcut through the Heartlands, thus avoiding the Imperial Highway and the caravan.

The adventurers soon discover that the journey will be much longer than anticipated, and that they are woefully under-supplied. After assessing that their hunting and gathering abilities will not suffice to sustain them without resorting to petty thievery, they decide to stop at the first village they come across to stock up. In a farming village too small to have a name, they enter a general store with a surly looking shop keep that has the rations they need. Unfortunately their wallets are nearly as empty as their stomachs. Derin, the shopkeeper, recognizes the look of concentration on Armon’s face as one who is trying to calculate how to buy something he can’t afford. He also notices their arms and armor and decides to offer them a deal. He claims an apostate has poisoned the river nearby and made his livestock ill. If the adventurers can dispose of him, he will gladly give them the rations they need. Corryn checks the animals and determines they have indeed been poisoned, and that they have are no visible injuries. He also determines the poison is animal based rather than plant based. Derin describes to them the last known location of the apostate, who was seen by an old gnarly tree near the riverbank a few days prior.

After the group leaves the general store, Corryn lets them know that common folk often blame mages for any of their woes and not to jump to any conclusions. After searching the area near the old gnarly tree the shopkeeper described, they discover no problems with the river. Armon is skeptical that the river could have been poisoned, since the water is moving. Corryn, still unsure that an apostate is to blame, bravely tastes the water. The water tastes pure and clean, and the mage suffers no ill effects. Everyone notices that the riverbank is silent, but no one suspects that that might be unusual. Meanwhile, Tyree discovers some human tracks leading away from the river into the forest.

After a few minutes of following the tracks in the pleasant shade of the forest, Tyree leads them to a small stagnant pond. Armon declares that this must be where the animals were poisoned, not the river. However, no one is brave enough to taste the pond’s foul smelling water. Broga and Tyree notice some movement in the trees to the north of their position. Corryn declares it’s probably the apostate, and greets it in a stern but non-threatening manner. A spider the size of four men saunters out of the trees. It does not seem calmed by Corryn’s words of peace.

After a short and sticky battle, the spider proves no match for the combined might of the party. Once defeated, it transforms into a short, disheveled looking, naked man. Taking the corpse as proof of their victory, they decide to follow the spider’s tracks leading deeper into the forest. The spider tracks change to human tracks after a time, and the human tracks lead to a small cave entrance. They proceed single file into the narrow crevice. Only the dwarf Broga is short enough to not have to crouch due to the low ceiling. The crevice unexpectedly leads to a locked, solid wooden door. Broga checks for traps and attempts to pick the lock, but has no success. Everyone shuffles against the sides of the hallway to give Tyree a chance to “pick the lock.”

With the door clean off it’s hinges and flat on the floor, everyone enters the small well furnished room. It appears to have been decorated after the fashions of the Orlesian nobility. A very shiny, gaudy shield hangs on the wall, the floor is covered with several small Orlesian rugs, and various books are strewn about the room. A handful of moderately valuable jewelry, a few books, and five vials of colored liquid are taken from the premises. The rest is left undisturbed.

Although the shop keeper is happy to see the apostate has been disposed of, he is still upset that his animals have not gotten better. Corryn tries to heal one of the cattle through magic, as he is wont to do, but there is no change in it’s disposition. He assures Derin that his animals will be fine in a few weeks (except for that one mule). Derin reluctantly parts with the rations he promised and sends the mage and his friends on their way.

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The Journey Begins

The Tevinter mage Marius is not content with his palace and numerous elven slaves. He desires more power in order to move up in society. That is the only way in Tevinter. He has learned, through meticulous research, of a mage long ago who may have unlocked exactly what he’s looking for, Johanus Dumat Laskaron. He left Tevinter so he could do his research in secret in the untamed far south of the Imperium. Now Marius intends to follow in his footsteps to recover what has been lost. Leaving Minrathous, he knows that he will need help on his journey if he is to survive in the uncouth barbarian lands now known as Ferelden.

Armon, the daring and dashing, was seeking adventure and fame in his homeland of Nevarra. Upon finding neither, since the dragons had long since been driven to extinction by similar adventure seekers, he has decided to seek it elsewhere. Upon meeting Marius on his journey towards Fereldan in the city of Nevarra, Nevarra, he agrees to be his guide and translator in exchange for the opportunity to travel with him. Anyone can see that Marius is bound to get into trouble, which is exactly how Armon likes it.

The pair continue their journey southwest on the Imperial Highway around the Waking Sea. Marius decides to stop in the Orlesian capital city of Val Royeaux, much to the chagrin of Armon. There he is greeted with welcome by his fellow mages at the Circle of Val Royeaux, and allowed lodging and the use of the grand library of the White Spire. While Marius is embroiled in research at the White Tower, Armon seeks the sites and sounds of the extravagant city. He meets a beautiful red haired bard who tells him tales deep into the night. Finding his purse lighter and his heart heavier, he seeks refuge in an irreputable establishment near the elven alienage called The Hanged Man.

During his research at the White Spire, Marius discovers a more precise location where Johanus lived in Ferelden, and more detail about his activities there. He brought numerous elven slaves and five powerful Magisters with him, who never returned to Tevinter. The First Enchanter of the White Spire, Rhys, notices Marius’ intense research, and assigns the recently Harrowed Corryn to find out what he’s researching. When Corryn reports back to Rhys what he’s discovered, Rhys becomes concerned. Johanus was a powerful blood-mage and any return to the world of his lost blood magic rituals cannot be allowed. Corryn is assigned to follow Marius and recover the book. However, Corryn may have his own ideas on what to do with Johanus’ research. In addition to being a powerful Maleficarum, Johanus was also known to practice the ancient Elven art of Arcane Warfare, which Corryn has been trying recover. Marius reads more about the uncivilized land of Ferelden and decides that he’s going to need more help. Therefore, when Corryn volunteers to help, Marius does not refuse. He leaves the White Spire and returns to the city proper to seek additional help, and his guide Ramon. Or was it Armon?

A large, burly looking fellow greets Marius and Corryn at the entrance to The Hanged Man. The room holds many capable looking possible adventurers. Corryn pays the bouncer a silver piece to get the patrons’ attention. He does so with incredible force, stunning the entire room into immediate silence. He announces that this small fellow is seeking an ancient Tevinter keep in eastern Ferelden near the Brecilian forest and he needs capable adventurers to accompany him. In exchange, he offers a portion of the profits, if any. Armon hears this and is eager to abandon his pompous Tevinter employer, so volunteers. Two well-armed and armored dwarves, and one less armored dwarf with a facial tattoo volunteer, in addition to three skinny, dark-haired, dark-skinned boys. After Tyree, the bouncer, gives the patrons permission to speak again, he also volunteers. Looking at this motley crew, Corynn decides to turn away the three boys and the two well-armored dwarves. The boys look sad and defeated, and return to their table in the corner. The dwarves are mystified as to why the most capable warriors were turned away, and leave the tavern in a huff. The less armored dwarf introduces himself as Broga.

Tyree feels sorry for the boys, whom he’s seen in the tavern for the past five days looking for just this opportunity. He talks to them and finds out they don’t really want to go on an adventure, but just need an escort out of the city to escape their enemy. The leader of the group will not say any more, and the other two are silent. Tyree accepts this and tries to convince the group to allow the boys to travel with them, just to the outskirts of the city. Armon is eager to leave and hastily agrees to whatever will get them out of the city the quickest. He exits The Hanged Man, and the three boys quickly follow. Marius and Corryn are suspicious of the boys, and follow to question them.

Marius confronts the boys in the street, wanting to know why they need an escort and from whom they are running. Have they broken any laws? Do they have powerful enemies? The boys become extremely nervous and refuse to answer. Finally Marius provokes the lead boy, demanding that he answers. This causes one of the silent boys to yell out, “You shouldn’t have done that!” They both fall to the ground and begin to cower in fear. The lead boy’s skins turns gray and he grows nearly three feet. His glaze over and change to glowing red, his face becomes distorted and dog-like, his teeth elongate into fangs and his fingers stretch into grotesque claws.

Armon is the first to act, inflicting heavy wounds, but not felling the creature. Broga and Tyree take it in turns to strike, confusing and frustrating the creature. The battle in the street causes the citizens to run in fear, some trampling each other to get out of the way. Armon calms the crowd with his bravado and ensures that everything will be fine. Corryn identifies the creature as a rage abomination, and informs his party to strike to kill. When the abomination sees that he is hopelessly outmatched, he turns his ire towards his former companions. With one swipe, he decapitates one of the boys that is cowering on the ground. However, he is defeated before he can finish the other boy. Armon holds the remaining boy on the ground at sword point, who is whimpering, crying, and begging to be killed. Armon knocks him out just to shut him up. Corryn decides it’s too risky to keep him alive takes it upon himself to strike.

Some Templars arrive, too late as usual, and reluctantly agree to clean up and file the appropriate reports so that Corryn may continue with his very important First Enchanter given mission. Armon is dismayed to discover he’s still stuck with Marius, but decides to continue anyway. The group leaves the gruesome scene and heads towards the city gates.

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