Initiates of the Guardians
Brax, Giba, Myrannin, Markus, and Farmer fresh blood to the Guardians, are summoned to the main hall of the Guardian complex in Meridian. Gathered around a large table their guildmaster Terra Sunreaver a fiery haired woman and former noble to the ruling family stands over their gathering. She lays before these initiates the terms of their acceptance to the guild. Terra tells of Pictoral Point a small fishing town settled on the precipice of Lake Harvest and recent activity of Beastfolk raiding outlying homes and fears their may be a larger incursion on the town. She tasks these raw recruits with finding the source of these raids and putting a stop to it with most haste. Upon there triumphant return this handful of adventurers will be upheld as full fledged members to the Guardians.
The Road West
Making strong stride on the West Road toward Pictoral Point the band of adventurers came upon a meager scene amongst the rolling farmlands. A lone man standing in the middle of the road seemingly distressed over an untimely breakdown of his wagon. The initiates thinking not much of the scene pressed forward aiming to walk carelessly by this man. Brax a broad shouldered and bold warrior moved to step past the lone man in the middle of the road when suddenly he found himself ensnared in a crude device. A trap dug in the road with many jagged spikes digging into his leg pinning him in place. Immediate confusion set into the initiates at the sudden happening, a moments breath later men rush forth from various hiding places poorly armed to assault the team.
In the instant a fierce and sudden battle ensued leaving all but one adversary lying dead on the beaten West Road. The last man, captured by the initiates was laid amongst their camp to recover after the suffering of battle. In midst of the night, a lone worg and its goblin rider ambushed the camp, waking the adventures to an abrupt melee. Surely the initiates laid steel and fire to the enemies hide and continued their rest. During the heat of chaos between the adventurers and their aggressor the man taken prisoner made flight, with no sign to the direction of his escape. In the morning the team set out with a burdensome thought hovering in their minds as to the reality and danger of the quest that lay ahead.
Following the road laid before the them the initiates continued somewhat battered yet sure. They came upon a farmer sitting on his porch, coming forth to greet this strange band. He submits that he is in a triflesome situation as his field is held barren, a mage of some sort offered to assist him with fending off scavengers that would inflict upon his fields. Unfortunately though the garish nature of the scarecrow the mage left behind was so fearsome it could even drive off the farmhands by it’s mere presence. The initiates took the opportunity to further prove themselves and perhaps provide wealth for themselves accepted the challenge of removing the husk of clothing and straw. Drawing closer the crudely constructed form seemed more terrifying with everystep. Amongst the group Giba was frozen in place as if the winter of a hundred years bit into his nerves holding him in place. The woodsman Markus born of the Ancients and Mankind tested this construct by landing an arrow in the mass of it’s form. Hardly seconds passed when the scarecrow hopped down from its perch lunging forward to bring terror and harm to those it’s path.
Barely a man stood after this hateful creation engaged the initiates in battle. The dark magic endowed its being could keep even the heartiest from making a move against it. Before long the farmer ran forth from his home bearing his black powder gun rushed to assist the adventurers. Before he could take up arms in their defense a fellow to the intiates coincidentally nicknamed Farmer a catfolk of the plains hailed the man saying his friends could handle the situation and have long fought through many foe. Convinced briefly the farmer held strong in the ditch. Meanwhile each of the adventures gave and took fearsome blows until almost none stood. Finally the farmer sprung from the ditch soddening the words of Farmer and loosing a fiery spray of lead onto the shambling construct before him, laying it to the dirt and dust it beckoned from the haunting pressence it itself bore.
Many of the initiates woke in a warm and grundgy odor lying amongst the stalls belonging to animals. The farmer humbly spoke to the team identifying himself as Jonathan and apologizing for the circumstance they now which reside. He offered his home and what little he could spare as recompense for the ruin of the machination in his field. Jonathan further explained he had no indication of the true nature of the being that stood solemnly in his field. After the deed being completed he gave the initiates a sum that half of his only defense. Gathering themselves the adventurers treked onward towards Pictoral Point somewhat disheartened by the time spent mustering their health.
Late in the afternoon traveling down the west road the wind riding the lake nipped briskly at the faces of the initiates. Soon thereafter the smell of smoke and ash asailed the sense looking at a corona of ruin hovering over the town of Pictoral Point. The realization of time connected upon some in this adventuring band and that they may now have spent too much time in their travels to reach the destination.
Stepping into town the band of adventurers find it laying in near ruin nearly all building laying in ruins, whispering in ash, or jumping in flames. Alone stands a makeshift wall and atop it meager defenders a remnant to the heart of this town standing to defend what is left.
The adventures parley with the defenders and meet brother Paxton a monk of the Humble Order yet surprising nimble and strong. Through him they gather a bounty of information at the wall about the attacks. Most of the fisherman and commonfolk have fled, been slain, or captured by Beastfolk. Brother Paxton provides them with shelter and prays they stay and provide against any further assaults to stave of the demise of the men and women that still stand.
With that the team took to investigating the town and meeting with the local mayor. Their run in with Mayor Duadlon and his advisor Lady Kyrin ended in a violent and less than diplomatic finish. Although sullied by the encounter the team finds out a tribe, the “Snake Eater Clan” has been accused of raiding the town. Mayor Duadlon insists that they will see no more trouble from their aggressors. He then orders the adventurers away from the town and not to bother him or his manor again.
Returning to the wall with supplies and a stipend of information the team goes to work improving the makeshift fortifications and laying traps for their foes to come. The night passes with no transgression, a much needed relief the adventures use to their benefit. Brax gleaning through the tavern of the “Smuggler’s Den Inn” finds a seer of some sort who imparts visions of the future and his fate. Coming to after his mystical meeting Brax comes across a merchant from Meridian that had been cornered in this small town during the raids. After some negotiation most of the members of the initiates walk away with some new weapons and gear after offloading a sizeable amount of gold to the merchant.
With enough time this day the adventurers make another foray into the ruined town bringing back potions and supplies. Most of which found in the rubble of the Humble Monastery. Meanwhile Markus trains the defenders in the use of their newly acquired crossbows and drills them on making hasty reloads. In the distance drums of goblinoids thrum and smoke rises on the horizon setting an err of discord to the hearts of those that remain. These signs foretell of the battle to come, with that the adventurers make final preparations.
As the sun sets the booming drums drive deeper toward the town and the baying of beasts can be heard at the edges of town. The initiates take to the town square to receive the incoming horde head on, a bold move. Before them goblins atop worgs ride wielding slings laden with fire to burn down the wall. Quickly engaging them the team trade blows with the worgs and their riders, felling most as goblinoid reinforcements approach. Seeing their circumstance the team withdraws behind the wall as even more vicious foes reveal themselves. Among them Merrow aquatic giants that scale the cliffside behind the makeshift battlement and a massive Minotaur from beyond beckons his troops forward. The battle proceeded into a harrowing and fearsome bout, between the defenders and their goblinoid foes.
Daylight did infact come for the Initiates and the survivors of Pictoral Point. Though most of the team was grieviously wounded they had managed to survive and save the lives of many.
Looking into town the scene was less than favorable. A lone celestial hound that had been watching over the adventurers lay sundered by a dark winged figure. And beyond the hound lay a guard of the now destroyed manor crawls about the road in his death throes with a spear jutting from his back. The team took to the town to lay aid to the hound and gather information from the dying man. Discovering the hound is infact an Archon sent to dissolve the nature of an unholy corruption to the leadership of Pictoral Point. Before more can be divulged the celestial Archon’s form faded to dust. The dying words of the lone guard reports that the manor turned to chaos as his comrades had turned upon each other amid the invasion.
Looking closer the team investigates the ruined manor and find the now dead guard’s words to be true. Only thing that remains unanswered is the fate of Mayor Duadlon and Lady Kyrin. A secret passage at the back side of the manor suggests they may have made it out alive, but to where?
Spending the day to recuperate and take inventory the adventurers prepare for the journey ahead as many questions still lie in their path. Meanwhile brother Paxton and his fellow monks make ceremony of those who passed the prior night, giving prayer to the safe passage into the ether. Taking what they know from Brother Paxton and what Mayor Duadlon has told them, the team follows their lead to the Sidewinder Stream. Along this stream a camp of goblinoids the “Snake-Eaters” are pointed out as the culprits to these raids. And perhaps the soldiers the Mayor sent out to “deal” with the problem may yet still live. Little is clear.
Into the Wild
Back tracking the initiates follow the West Road east to the now abandoned war camp of their adversaries. Scrounging for clues or perhaps some gear hastily left behind the team finds a goblin they weren’t looking for. Zabub a miscreant true to some of his goblin kind reveals himself at an uneasy standoff with the initiates. Taking time to speak with this lone goblin gives the team a helpful lead on how to find the Snake-Eater camp with less strife as they would on their own. With this new ally at their side the initiates take to the stream and find the goblinoid camp sure enough, though it may not be what they were expecting.
Resting on the fringe of the Snake-Eater domain the initiates take to plotting their approach on the camp and an expected coming battle. Amid their rest Zabub finds himself and excuse to separate from the group and make his way into the camp ahead of the team, for less than peaceful intentions. Evading several sentries set about the camp, the devious goblin finds the prisoners milling about in their cage.
Finding their newly acquainted member gone the team decides to make the approach to the goblinoid camp ahead of schedule. Boldly stepping forth the team pushes through the tall grass until a lone sentry cries out and calls for a patrol to the come the grass ahead. Having seen something moving in the distance. The initiates are met by goblin warriors in war dress riding strong and well bred dogs. Not quite they expected from the telling of those in Pictoral Point. Having a brief and heated exchange the adventurers agree to back off the Snake-Eater camp as the goblins want nothing to do with them. A prior incursion by humans have left them with an awful taste in trust for mankind and their like.
Having returned to camp and written Zabub off for a traitor the team aims to rest again and re-assess their strategy thus far. Their minds not exactly one effort Farmer takes the initiative to make his back into the camp. On his way it is not long before a sentry cries out and patrol is at his side leading him back to the Snake-Eater camp as a prisoner. Farmer now unsure of his fate is thrown into the clan leader’s pavilion. Before him sits a surprising muscular warrior goblin in a meditative posture in a pool of glass-like water. Before a question can be brought to pass Farmer finds a sudden blackness having been knocked unconscious. Meanwhile seeing the commotion in the camp, Zabub takes the opportunity to slip into the soldier’s cage and slaughter them where they stand.
It doesn’t take long to set in for the rest of the initiates that Farmer has gone off on his own and is now captured by the goblinoids. Throwing strategy and diplomacy to the win they move swiftly into the camp to recover their capture ally and finish this Snake-Eater clan off for good. The battle is not long as the tide quickly turns against the adventurers as they find themselves overwhelmed by these surprisingly agile and cunning foes. Using their mobility and skill will bow the goblins of the Snake-Eater tribe drive off the initiates to lick their wounds and hope for the best, for Farmer’s sake.
Waking astride a goblin wardog Farmer finds himself being led by the fearsome goblin warrior heading toward his old camp and friends. It is not long before Farmer and the goblin come across his party camping a further distance away from the original site. The team hears the approach of others and readies themselves for another encounter with the goblins. Markus holding shot ready looses and arrow into the grass to strike a goblin rider and suddenly comes to the realization he has infact struck Farmer squarely in the chest. The goblin collecting farmer from the ground cuts him free of his bonds and throws the catfolk to his allies. This goblin warrior now reveals himself as Rage the clan leader of the Snake-Eaters protests the atrocities that these outlanders have imposed on his people. Telling them that his people only wanted peace with mankind and its emissaries and those his camp held captive were the result of a falsehood. The Snake-Eaters had only been defending themselves against the soldiers from Pictoral Point. But now, those soldiers lay dead in their cage by the hand of an exile and his people lay under threat. Rage commands them to a battle for honor being the only solution to resolve the dispute and have any potential of redeeming the initiates.
With no further words spoken Rage takes to a fury like none there had ever witnessed. Many powerful sweeps of his axe nearly took the life from those in its path and caused his foes to deftly maneuver to stay just shy of death. When the din of battle finally fell silent the only sound heard was that of the crackling lighting biting into Rage’s flesh from where buried his hand fully into his chest. Collapsing under the heavy weight of his body Rage laid into the grass of the plains to which he was born and in his dying breath gave his word of redemption to the initiates. Before the light passed entirely from his eyes he tells the party those responsible for the raids take residence where the river ends and blood water’s run. Markus versed in the realm figures it to mean the Crimson Falls a waterfall on the fringe of the badlands. A barren and hateful land unforgiving to those who travel their.
After Rage fell to utter silence the initiates took to honoring the warrior by building a litter and proceeded to the camp of his people. Again the team hears the cry of a sentry and soon thereafter goblin warriors astride their wardogs ride out to meet them. However this time they don’t loose arrows or clutch blades, but rather fall in at their flanks and join the procession to the center of the camp. The tribe shaman directs them to center of the camp and has the adventurers place Rage upon a pyre. That day a celebration of the clan leader’s life and honorable death took place. As the flames licked his flesh the goblins danced and sung while Rage’s mortal form was released to the form of ash and carried off on the winds of the plains.
Once the ceremony came to an end the Snake-Eater camp went about to packing up their belongings and loved ones for a journey far from here. The fear of further retribution from men is too much a risk for them to stay beside their beloved stream. The adventurers take the time to collect themselves and discern the true nature of some gear. They also manage to derive some more information about the journey ahead as the shaman speaks of the land to the the west. She tells them off riftspawn and an unsortly manner of beasts that live in the lands toward the Rift. Knowing the peril ahead the party makes the preparations they can and head west.
Into The Badlands
The initiates, far from home now following a beaten trail laid by goblinoids toward the badlands. The earth itself peels back the grassy flesh and reveals more barren stone, while the sun starts to beat town on the wary travelers. After several days travel the sound of beasts baying in the night haunts the adventurers and bestows a the feeling of prey upon them.
Taking the night to rest the adventurers find a rocky out cropping off the beaten trail to rest. The sound of fell beasts instill little comfort or hope of rest. As darkness engulfs the land a deathly chill rolls across the ground accompomanied by the wild cackling of demons on the wind. Striding across the sky as sure a man might walk, demon hounds swept down from the blackness. Their assault was intense, their visage terrifying, and the unholy sounds they bellowed forth bite at the soul.
The company of friends wake in a sudden fury and scramble to defend their lives. Many terrible wounds were suffered amongst the initiates and yet an equal ferocity was returned. Once the again the night fell silent and their foes lay slain. Yet one of their kind did not survive the encounter. Markus the voice of direction and camaraderie would never call his allies forward again.
The team felt a terrible burden and sorrow lay upon them at the loss of Markus. Looking to give him a proper funeral Myrannin, perhaps the most torn at his death tends to his body. Meanwhile Giba the more callous of their ilk sees the opportunity to gather provisions and equipment from his fallen ally. His needs reasonable in nature however hasty, led to a trust shattering debacle.
After the heated argument, the remaining initiates laid Markus upon a pyre atop a lone rock in the middle of the wastes. With the remainder of his belongings his body was set to flame and ash to be carried on the winds to his final resting place.
Lifting packs over their backs, the initiates stride westward with the heat of the sun beating down on their shoulders. A sign this unforgiving land would never relent.
The Crimson Fall
The initiates continue their journey until they come upon a cliff dropping into sun beaten ground spotted with plateaus and mesas. Though the vast expanse beyond is only a sigh in comparison to the vast breath one must take looking upon the falls. The waters running from Onyx Lake to the north leap from the face of the world to create a tower of water pouring into a stony mouth swallowing the falls whole. Beneath the stony shroud engulfing the waterfall a cavern spits forth a crimson flow the heart of the stone. The water continues south only echoing the image of the brutal landscape.
Aside the sanguine flow a massive camp of goblinoids lays beside the cavern’s mouth. A short distance away, an archway made of the same red stone that riddles the land bridges the river. The gobinoids show great interest in protecting this lone bridge, as many patrols walk its length.
Looking a further along the cliff wall the adventurers can see a stony ridge that walks the side of the cliff to where the water meets the stony mouth. Here five large pillars dot the circumference of the opening and beckon the curiosity of onlookers.
Taking in the scene the team looks for a proper path toward the objective, in hope of finding the truth behind the chaos that ransacked Pictoral Point nearly a week ago. Here the initiates find their path split and cannot agree upon a single course. Allowing fate to guide them Brax, Myrannin, and Zabub walk the cliff wall. At the same time Farmer and Giba proceed into the valley bellow.
Farmer and Giba approach the goblinoid’s bridge unsure of the encounter to come. Giba far less trusting of these beastmen in this desolate land stands back to observe Farmer’s diplomatic initiative. Farmer seeking to peaceful resolve any differences comes closer to the goblinoids and soon finds himself an alien in a very terrible place. The flesh of these beings is horribly scarred and accompanied by wicked grins of malice. Still keeping a light heart Farmer opens a dialogue that results solidifying the true wickedness of these savages. Before Farmer can even come to terms with his situation, he finds himself in an ogres vices of death. Squeezing every ounce of air from his lungs and shattering his bones. In the distance Giba can only look on in terror as his ally is crushed the blood run from his body into the maw of a monster. With all haste Giba runs to the cliffside path with only the sound of rushing crimson water behind him.
Myrannin, Brax, and Zabub taking to hugging the cliff wall closely in effort to keep a fair distance from the plummet that awaits careless traveler. Nearing the strange pillars at the breadth of the waterfall reveals large winged figures sitting atop them. Taking careful measure Zabub takes the opportunity to get a closer look for the rest of the team. To his observation nothing is more peculiar to these stony figures than the figures themselves. Seeing no apparent danger the three take a closer look. Over the rush of water a heavy unholy chant rides up the water, with the thrum of drums in tow. Unsettling as the scene is now, suddenly even more so as the nearest stone figure peers down upon them and speaks. Here five gargoyles roost in a pondering fashion, each asking a trifling riddle for even the most studious of scholars.
Circling to each gargoyle the few initiates answer the questions the best they can having to combine what little brain power available. Their answers given two of the five gargoyles are satisfied in the answers given, melding into the stone they once roost. The remaining three gargoyles leaped from their perch assaulting the team with fearsome claws and wicked sharp horns. Giba now arriving to the side of his remaining companions sees them locked in a ferocious battle. Closing the distance Giba draws his wand of magic missiles to soften up the foes in the distance, meanwhile his team turns about in melee.
The battle raged in a flash of fury. Giba unfortunately draws the attention of a single gargoyle, taking flight and soaring headlong toward him. Before long Giba found himself pressed and his allies a fair distance away. With strife and desperation he fought until his body would no long support him. Blackness took him.
Two of the three members finished off the gargoyles in close proximity and rushed over to dispatch the last. Laying the gargoyle low to the stone, Zabub and Brax quickly tend to their fallen team mate while Myrannin looks away without mercy. The death of Markus left a stain on their respect for the other, leaving each with no support from the other. Meanwhile Zabub and Brax managed to patch up Giba in a surprisingly efficient manner.
Giba, hardly able to come to terms with the bone shattering pain riddling his body looked for any option available to quell his pain. Brax and Zabub can only offer him a mysterious potion the nature to which is unrevealed. Taking his chances, Giba quaffs down the vile tasting draught. Unfortunate to his already compromised state the potion turned out to in fact be an oil intended to imbue rope. Its effects to describe in the least caused him to continue bleeding internally. Outside the grasp of the two at his side, they could only look on hopelessly as Giba passed into the next realm.
Taking up his body Brax looked to test the magical seal that briefly revealed itself when an unfortunate gargoyle landed in a dark field of energy. Leaping and gnawing at its form until it became no more than dust. This in mind and with little objection from the remainder of the party Brax tosses Giba into the waterfall, hoping to reveal if this terrible ward remained. As sure as gravity, Giba’s lifeless form plummeted into the waterfall uncontested by any dark field of energy.