In the Beginning...
The Early Days
Our party began adventuring in the year 1004AC in Threshold, a town at the foot of hills leading into the Black Mountains, in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos, part of the greater realm of Mystara. First and foremost a mining and logging community, Threshold held the reputation of having nurtured countless adventuring parties through their early careers. At some point all such individuals left to pursue adventures on a grander scale, often across the length and breadth of the Known World.
The party came together through a desire to explore the wilderness beyond the safety of Threshold's walls. The ageing wizard Valtanivark informed his apprentice Lana of a ruined tower miles to the north, at the base of the mountains. A dungeon lay beneath the ruins, Valtanivark knew, in which lurked mysterious creatures, guardians and hoarders of treasure and knowledge. A fervent longing grew within the young girl to set out and explore the ruins in the hope of gaining valuable experience. For too long she had been immersed in arduous study, without opportunity to gain an insight into the practical application of magic, let alone life outside her master's tower. Real power, she knew, would come from learning the ways of the wider world.
Magic-user and dwarf
Lana went first to the home of Drewen Goldenhammer, a dwarf who by his people's standards was young but was in any event over 90 years of age. Despite being a newcomer in town, local folk had come to know Drewen as a kind soul, trustworthy and strong of heart. Upon her first visit to Drewen's cottage Lana had eyed the hammer hanging above his fireplace. No doubt the weapon longed to be put to use. The adventure to the ruined tower would lead below the earth's surface, where Drewen's dwarven senses would prove invaluable. To Lana's delight the jovial dwarf declared himself willing to accompany his friend on their first quest together. In Drewen's words, "somebody needed to look after the young ones".
Next to lend his skills to the party was Threy, a novice priest from a small (seemingly anarchical) church which had recently settled in town. Perceiving this new faith as a cult, local folk were suspicious of Threy and his fellow clergy, whose motives remained guarded. One evening in the Misty Beard Inn, Lana and Drewen lent a sympathetic ear as the young acolyte explained how his church's sacred idol, a statue, had been stolen by rival clerics. Threy had been sent by his elders to trace the statue's whereabouts, and in so doing perhaps acquire treasure for himself and the Church. Lana and Drewen considered themselves reasonable individuals, never quick to judge, but found this man self-centered, cynical and untrustworthy. He was evidently motivated first and foremost by personal gain. However, his abilities against the creatures of the undead would make Threy a useful addition to the party. So the party gained its cleric.
It was clear the party needed extra fighting prowess. Lana bore only a knife, Threy could wield a mace but with no great talent - thus all the party had for defense was Drewen's warhammer. Uneasy being the principal fighter, the dwarf thought hard then recalled an eager young fighter named Canerzon who acquaintance he had made in a tavern several weeks before. Canerzon was a member of Threshold's Town Guard, and was known to wield a sword capably having received weapons training as part of his induction into service. Can was introduced to Lana and Threy and seemed courageous and likeable. Thus the party was complete.
Lana recounted her master's story - how a rival wizard had builta dozen miles to the north, with a dungeon which harboured monsters and treasure. Concerned for the wellbeing of Threshold's inhabitants, Valtanivark had travelled to the tower and discovered that its master was using dark magic to summon creatures from beyond the grave. Rezgale (as was the wizard's name) clearly posed a threat therefore Valtanivark confronted his rival in a magical duel. The lengthy battle culminated in the devastation of the tower. Rezgale fled during the final stages of the battle, and his fate remained a mystery.
Townsfolk spread rumours of their own - tales of walking skeletons, goblins and over-sized types of everyday animals. This rendered the would-be adventurers wary, but the prospect of treasure filled them with anticipation. Lana in particular imagined uncovering Rezgale's library, if it had survived, discovering books and scrolls filled with knowledge beyond what she could dream.
The Quest to the Tower
With great excitement, the foursome purchased adventuring equipment - rations, lantern oil, rope, and other useful items. Even a few vials of costly holy water, blessed by a local priest, were purchased as protection against Rezgale's undead minions. No doubt many had survived their master's demise.
It took a day of trekking to reach the ruined tower. For miles around was wasteland and desolation. They located a wide hole amid the debris and lowered themselves into the darkness of tunnels beneath. There they would encounter goblins and hobgoblins, walking skeletons, a zombie, giant rats and bats and shrews, even a deadly tarantella spider, ten feet long. Drewen was savagely bitten in the fight with the spider but the hardy dwarf fought off the monster's venom and survived. Canerzon proved his worth time and time again, valiantly drawing Lana behind his shield when she was most vulnerable. Lana tried to aid her companions in combat, but being physically weak and armed only with a dagger, could contribute little of any substance. Threy used his mace but was forever poised to flee if he foresaw personal danger. The party learned that Threy was not to be relied upon.
Emerging from the ruins at the end of the adventure, Canerzon possessed a magical ring which could render him invisible, while Lana had unearthed two scrolls, each bearing a magical spell. These excited her greatly, since she would be able to scribe the incantations into her spellbook thus increasing her repertoire.
A tidy amount of gold had been acquired along with gems, thus it was agreed that the foursome made a good team. And so further adventures were sought.
In the months that followed the party were reluctant to stray far from Threshold; nevertheless, adventuring opportunities proved plentiful.
The companions investigated catacombs beneath a toppled temple in Threshold's town centre, suspected to have been a cult of the dark Immortal Thanatos. The competing faiths in Threshold had united to cause an earthquake which destroyed the death-priests' upper complex, exposing a dungeon-like area beneath. Drewen, Lana, Threy and Canerzon found this to contain goblins and other creatures such as oozes and carrion crawlers, even a band of werewolves. A mysterious chasm was found in a lower level, its depths filled with swirling lights of every colour imaginable. Here Lana befriended a starve-maddened giant ferret, one of several which had been kept in squalor by the clerics to rid the tunnels of rats and other lowlife. This ferret has been adopted and domesticated, now named Whiskers. Lana also chanced upon a scroll within a hidden closet; thinking the writing to contain a spell she read the scroll in haste but too late discovered that she had succumbed to a magical curse. She would be compelled in all future battles not to withdraw from combat until she or her opponent were dead. This powerful curse was one of "Bloodlust" and could only be removed by a high-level cleric, for whom Lana would be required to perform a favour or quest.
Also in this quest the party was set upon by a creature composed of shadow, whose chilling touch drained the heroes of their physical fortitude. It became clear only magical weapons could defend the party against such a foe. A dying cleric named Ceredict took pity on the adventurers, bidding Threy with his dying breath to take up his mace, which it transpired was magical. And so the party managed to escape.
The four also ventured further into the nearby Black Peak mountains, running into a hostile tribe of orcs named the BoneBreaker Tribe, this name coming from an ogre who lived alongside the humanoids. By this stage Canerzon was increasingly less able to accompany the group - as a Town Guard, he was kept busy by werewolves preying on the farms around Threshold. The remaining party-members therefore hired a retainer to escort them on this quest - the man who responded to their advertisement was a surly fighter named Scaramon, who fought well but died defending his employers against the attacks of the ogre BoneBreaker. Fighter and ogre exchanged killing blows, both their bodies falling into a freezing undergound river to be carried away into darkness. During this quest, Drewen confronted the chieftain of the orc tribe and defeated him, bearing his beaten body to the church in Threshold. Lana subsequently acquired a bronze ring of protection, given to her by the Elder of the Church.
Other exploits included:-
- a Mirror of Life Trapping was found in the lower levels of a derelict mine. Drewen and Lana were drawn into the mirror, requiring Threy to destroy it to free his companions. Trapped within the mirror had also been a medusa who, once her true nature was revealed, attempted to turn the companions to stone. This highly magical creature possessed a silver ring of telekinesis, which at a later stage in the adventure Lana and Drewen put to use obtaining a massive ruby which otherwise would have been beyond their reach;
- in Threshold an elderly widow named Lynneth complained about noises coming from her attic, which her neighbours attributed to nothing more than the onset of old age. Drewen sympathised with the woman's plight and offered to investigate, finding her loft infested by deadly stirges. The needle-beaked creatures left the companions nursing heavy wounds but were cleared out nevertheless;
- as payment for identifying the party's magical items, Valtanivark asked Lana to obtain a research component - magical honey from a giant bee hive. Such a hive was located not far from the shores of Lake Windrush. Smoke was used to disorientate the bees while the companions crept inside the hive to fill a flask to brimming with honey from the hive's core. Upon exiting the party was confronted not only by the angry bees but also by ferocious robber flies. Whereas the bees could only sting once before dying, the robber flies who preyed upon them were capable of stinging repeatedly which made them even more dangerous opponents; and
- a young boy went missing from Threshold and his family grew distraught when he could not be located. Search parties were formed and Drewen's team discovered the child's shoe in marshland along the Foamfire River. It transpired that the child had been drawn into a nearby cave complex, where monsters such as giant leeches, serpents and lizardmen abounded. The child was rescued and returned to his family.
Further adventures followed. In one such quest the party met their first magic-using adversary - the wizard Maximus. This man reminded Lana of her master's rival Rezgale, since both held unwholesome fixations with the undead. Maximus' lair was replete with images of skulls and carvings of bone - indeed his foremost creation was a four-armed golem, made from human bones. The dungeon exhausted the party on their first visit, so the three plus their new retainer (a Traladaran thief named Otto, from Threshold) were forced to retreat back to town but later returned - defeating the golem and gaining access to Maximus' bedchamber. Although the necromancer escaped by use of his magic, Lana accquired two new treasures, both of considerable power. One was a wand of paralysation; the other a magical dagger. The dagger's hilt was marked with the effigy of a skull and, it transpired, bore a curse. The dagger took hold of Lana's free will - binding her to use only that weapon and no other, while at the same time sapping her of what little fortitude she possessed. Once again Lana had been cursed. A second quest for the Church of Karameikos was necessary - this time not simply to remove the curse but to reverse it, so that the dagger might be used to positive effect. It took Lana months to complete her quest for the Church Elders, but having done so the dagger was hers, the marking upon its hilt now a rose with a small amber at its centre.
And the party's adventures continued...
Read the later stages of the party's adventures HERE
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