Shadows of Greyrock

Prologue

Inn.jpg

The trio made for an interesting sight, seated around one of the few un-damaged tables at the Whispering Dragon Inn. One was a tall and well-muscled man, nude from the waist up, his cuirass and hauberk piled neatly beside him. A heavy bandage stained with brackish, grey fluid was bound around his chest, and he nursed a chalice of deep, red wine. His other hand never strayed from the hilt of a sword hanging from a well-used scabbard on the his hip.

The other was a stranger to these lands - an Orc clad in a savage's leather and furs, which did little to conceal the swathes of deep, purple bruises marring his sinewy, green flesh. He hunched over a bowl of stewed boar's meat, fat and gravy dripping from his split and swollen lips, one eye sealed almost shut like that of a prize-pugilist's.

The last was a giant encumbered in legionnaire's plate, his features concealed by a cracked, porcelain mask of some forgotten king from an earlier age. The legionnaire was silent, impassive, his attention focused solely on a square of velum inscribed with flowery scrip clutched in his gauntleted hands.

"Ya'all seem as though ye have a story ta tell" offered a wizened man approaching the trio. "Care ta share it with an old scholar?".

Both the giant and the orc did little to recognise the speaker, engaged as they were. The knight appraised him with narrowed eyes before sliding over a mostly-intact stool with his foot, and summoning the tavern wench with a snap of his fingers.

"Have a seat, scholar. 'Tis not a long story, but 'tis a curious one. In fact it began right here in this very establishment…"


Of Druids and Diabolists

"That's quite a tale - surely you are to be congratulated for your bravery. As it is I require the aid of brave men such as yourselves. But where are my manners? I am known as Alebert - no last name required. Should it interest you, I have work which requires your attention. Meet me at the Speckeled Mare in Greyrock - I'll have more information for you there. It's just three days north-east of here. No Mr. Azarak, I don't expect you to work for free. Here's a down-payment for your services. You'll receive the rest in Greenhearth…"

Greenhearth.jpg

Setting off for the town of Greenhearth, the Orc and Knight bid farewell to their silent companion, the curious Legionnaire parting eastward with his typical taciturn air. The road north is fairly well-traveled, and as the word of Alebert the Scholar promised the two soon arrived in Greenhearth, taking residence at the Crooked Wheelbarrow Inn. Far from being the only strangers in town, the arrival of a lithe, pale man accompanied by a raven black as night raises many eyebrows among the simple farmers and craftsmen of Greenhearth. Weary from travel or hard labour, all soon retire to their beds as night falls…

The night-time peace was rent by a terrified scream, Agron the Orc the first to leap from his bedroll and dash into the night, giving chase to a cloaked suspect found perched over a bloodied body. The Knight and the pale-newcomer followed, pausing to render aid to the victim as Agron disappeared into tall stalks of wheat, returning shortly after without his quarry. The newcomer, introducing himself as Mazek Asymptus, declared loudly and without prompt that the victim was dead, and by the hand of a diabolist given the ritualistic marks upon her flesh.

With the people roused, a town-meeting is quickly called by the alderman to discern the nature of the attack. At the behest of the common-peoples, Sir Felstrom vowed to bring the culprit to justice, the alderman suggesting that a visit to the town wise-woman may shed some light on the matter. In a ramshackle hut at the edge of the forest the wise-woman, a dabbler of the small-arts, reveals the presence of an ancient evil which has existed within the dark-green glades for generations. If a diabolist was to be found, it was to be there.

As the sun reached it's zenith the trio were deep in the forest, the thick canopy above blocking out the noon-day light. The Orc, leading from the front, was the first to spy the sudden ambush, leaping out of the way as a heavy ironwood tree came crashing down. Amidst a cloud of dirt and leaves a hideous beast, it's body a messy conglomeration of a dozen disparate forest animals, clambered onto the felled trunk. With a challenging roar it lunged for the party, twisted horns held low for a goring charge against Sir Felstrom whom stood steadfast with shield raised. The beast's charge is brought up short by a arcane word from Mazek, rays of frost spraying from his outstretched staff to freeze it's cloven hooves to the dirt. Stuck-fast, the biting dagger of Agron and the hewing blade of Sir Felstrom made short work of the immobile abomination.

Undaunted, the party plunged deeper into the forest, coming across a thick copse of trees of unnatural vitality. Despite their best efforts, the trio are unable to make it past the bizarre barrier, thwarted at every attempt by unknown magicks. In frustration the Orc jammed his knife to the hilt into one of the trunks, the sinewy timber beneath bleeding bright orange energy from the wound. Springing from the canopy came a clutch of thin-limb creatures of bark and branch, their lashing talons cutting the offending Agron down in a flurry of blows. Leaping to his aid, Sir Felstrom set about the fiends with great cleaving blows from his longsword, while Mazek summoned prismatic bursts of colour which flayed them into kindling. As the last fiend fell, the wounded tree revealed a trio of symbols of an arcane language upon its bole. After careful scrutiny, Mazek declared the meaning of the curious sigils…

"Druidic - certainly. Tainted somewhat - perhaps a coalition of power with the diabolic? The meaning is clear, however. A blood sacrifice is required to trespass any further; blood of the hawk, blood of the bear, and the blood of man. Who knows where we could find a bear..?"

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