Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lust for Life at the Crossroads

Death lurked in the hot summer nights.  Emerging from the forest, the Verdant Company encountered a camp of refugees from the hamlet of Glorn's Crossing.  Being generous travelers, and well endowed by the Elf Maiden, the Company plied the poor with songs of sustenance and courage and bid them make themselves secure at the edge of the forest.  To go farther would invite the Lady's wrath, and surely their home would be made available to them soon enough, for the red comet was on the horizon and the Once King Returned, putting bugbear heads on his pike as he went.

Crossing into his ancestral lands, Wolverhampton knew that he would not rest again until his throne had been regained.  He was quietly glad of his companions, salacious and devious as the pretty bard and dark dragonman might be, they had great potential for salvation, and the Warlord Alec was just the sort of man needed in these times, and educated as well!  This would bode well, if only they could be restrained from following the darkest paths of war!

The approach to Glorn's Crossing was clear, but they had been told a road block had been erected to glean more from traveling merchants and naive travelers.  An elaborate ruse was concocted.  Wolverhampton did not understand it all.  For a time he believed that Jetberry was going to tale the tale of the sickened Xorn, who distributed precious crystals from its bowls on midsummer nights (he was convinced), but nay, it was a more practical matter of dressing up as wounded penitents and leading a band into the woods to beat their heads and tie them to a tree.  The Red Knight reborn donned his tabard and sermonized over the defeated bandits, urging them to look to their better selves and see their plight as one and the same in this village as theirs, in opposition to the corruption that sat upon the seat of Fircrest.  It may take eliminating bad apples (the dragon was so good at that), but on the whole, these men were ripe for conversion.

It took a greater act of charity to forgive the Captain Devlin, but after tender ministrations, he allowed his blade to be bought for a handful of gold and a promise of more.  All he need do was to take arms against his former master, the Necromancer Phil the Philanderer.  And so he did.

The Company waited for the search party to leave and then surged in through the kitchen, catching the Philanderer among his pots and trollops.  Said strumpets soon harkened to the Bard's words and attacked their men as the whole place erupted into madness.  The bandit lord was more than a robber of living men, but a robber of graves as well, and his waves of dark necromancy made the warriors lose their footing and fall about the floor, skeletal minions rushing to the finish the job.

Though given pause by the savage defense of the necrophiliac sorcerer, the Company soon found footing and asserted their superior force of arms so that the lecher made to flee, only his insurmountable ego held him back to hurl final insults at the shadow dragon, Kage, who pursued him with furious intent.  When the final blow fell, the remaining bandits were eager to tender their surrender.

Sitting back with a hard earned ale, the refugees sent for, and prisoners disarmed and held in the stable, Wolverhampton pondered their dilemma.  What to do with these two dozen men, criminals all?  They owed penance, that much was clear, and yet it was only the Holy promise of mercy and redemption, as exemplified by Captain Devlin, that kept them corralled in expectation rather than scattering to the woods and further disinterested banditry.  The Blackburn Vale did could not stand a lawless band roaming unchecked, and the Red Knight needed an army to send against Hector, but was this too soon?  Was it moving too fast?  Such a rootless band required action or it would dissolve quickly enough into depredations once again.  It was necessary to learn more about the situation.  What dark arts were being practiced at Fircrest?  Would Gattock Tieg add his arms to a rebellion's spark?  What of the Witch?

Wolverhampton's head hurt.  Perhaps the others could provide advice.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Legend of the Ghost Knight, According to the Hermit Old Gro

"Know, oh king that you are not truly king while the blood of the Wolverhamptons still beats in a heart living or dead! The Red Knight may not ride, but lo! The Ghost Knight comes knocking upon these gates!"

So said Old Gro the Ageless Jester on the day of his banishment from the Castle Fircrest, once Blackburn Keep, in the Northern Lands of Cor.

Old Gro is said to live the life of the hermit somewhere under the Forest Eaves, though all are sure his mind has quite left him. In fact, Gro was the last living remnant of Blackburn Keep's rightful owners, for he was once the tutor of the young Wolverhampton lads in the times before the passing of the Light, in the times before the endless Sorrows.

And though Hector wished mightily that it were not true, the Prophecy of Gro came to pass and the Ghost Knight began his annual hauntings of the Castle Fircrest, an armored spectre of the last Lord of Blackburn, knocking upon the door, astride his hellish steed, demanding the honorable contest he was denied upon the fields of the Bloody Battle of the Peacock. The Ghost Knight has made it his habit to appear only on long nights of the winter's dark when the moon is at its lowest ebb. Few have seen fit to challenge the Knight and all have been slaughtered. The Knight has not seen fit to enter the castle gate.

---"Annals of the Young Lords of the North" as told by, Doraleus the Inker, Appointed Scrivener to the House of Fircrest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Northward to the Stolen Lands

As told to the refugees of Glorn's Crossing after the requisite recital of lineage: 

After vanquishing the burning wyrm, my companions and I returned to the Verdant Glade to speak with the Lady Monalessa, who bestowed badges and titles upon us to show her deep appreciation for her service.  Thus, we speak as diplomats of that leafy land. 

For a time we availed ourselves of the pleasures of the fairy kingdom, eating fresh fruits and studying the lore of these lands of Cor, of a brighter time before the coming of the Empire, and it was good and restful.  But our destiny awaits to the north, for our stonefaced companion, Sasha, scion on a Lost Family of uncertain morality bids us quest for the circumstances of his long ago doom, and indeed I am not unhappy to visit once again the lands of my ancestors, the fields that service the Keep that once the Red Knight called his own.  Once and Future! 

And so, upon steeds spun of the very stuff of shadow and night time -for my companions do flirt with darkness- we traveled to the edges of the sward, looking to meet with the people here, in particular the Wise Woman of Westfall, and Lord Tieg of the Foothills.  Rest assured my people, though you have been neglected by the one who calls himself Lord of Fircrest, whose mother called him Hector, now there is another who looks upon you with a paternal gaze.  Never again will you walk alone!  Eat and drink from this Bardic Feast! and take these wards so that your children will not know sickness or poverty! 

And now to sleep upon these cold stones...

So it was that very night the boastful new heroes of Cor were called upon to defend their flock from the depredations of a band of Bugbears who came skulking to wrap their cords around the throats of children, as they are wont to do... but they were slain.  All but one, who was taken deep within the woods so that his screams would not be heard as the Dragonman ate him slowly.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Saga of the the Wanderers

What twisted skeins the looms of Fate have lain
Across my path! They haul me hinterland
Far from bloody duty, but never doth
Hammer rest. Here bathed in ghostly froth
I stand, last breath of ancient squire
Abjures me now to serve an eldritch ire.
Forgotten enmity 'twixt green and red,
Does gird my limbs to pass through flames inspired.

What twisted skeins have brought me here,
In flight from port-town's existential fear,
I've fallen in with travelers passing strange,
Deliverance of living statue's grange.
We walked the shadowed forest path,
Soon to find crime's bloody aftermath.
A reaving horde burdened with plundered fare,
We gave chase at a glimpse of golden hair.
A sprint! then heady row, a hammer's blow,
A reaver shorn of plunder's glorious share.

By twisted trails, the forest's byways,
Sent the lady's vengeance swamp-ways.
The poisonous doom that bloomed in kitchen pot
Gave silent sigh at blood filled belly's clot.
Now the incarcerated wights were free,
To wreak their carnage through the Banyan tree;
Two savage champions crushed by knightly arms
Red Wanderer turned to face the fiery lea.

Emboldened knights, like gods of ancient song
came charging forth to face the monster's throng
With lassos loop of eldritch rope twas bound
Arrested flight, and pulled the beast to ground.
My Lady's saviors hurled themselves upon
The burning wing -the lizard's fear foregone-
Through dirty birds hurling clods of filth and fire,
These Red-cloaked Knights did show their merciless ire.

Oh, what twisted runes are carved upon the tree of life
That takes this wayward king from strife to strife!

(This poem is the retelling of the last four sessions in a campaign in which I am playing a Paladin called Wolverhampton the Wanderer)

Wolverhampton the VII Wanderer

Laird of the Keep on Blackburn Hill, a fort held by Hedge Lord Fircrest. He is the embodiment of the Red Knight of Blackburn, the legendary hero who founded the Keep and the last to defy the Old Empire. Wolverhampton wanders in search of companions with whom to regain his throne.
Wolverhampton, the 7th Wanderer, son of Blackpool, son of Ham, son of Ipswitch, son of Wigan, son of Bolton, son of Hotspur, son of Bromwich... called the Beggar King by the people of Blackburn Fief because he comes lurking a couple times a year, usually bearing gifts of supplies in the winter and avenging crimes against the peasantry during the summer. The peasantry may not take his claim as seriously as he does, but it is a rightful claim and he considers them his subjects and his responsibility. He is steadfast and pure in his intentions to regain his humble throne.
Wolverhampton was not raised in privilege. He isn’t a good reader or memorizer of facts, excepting his prodigious memory of the oral tradition of his clan. However, he is slow to anger and merciful. He would make a good king, but not a good administrator. He carries the Blessings of the Red Knight upon his shoulders and he considers it his duty to contribute his deeds to the roles of history and legend. Thus he often composes crudely rhymed epic poetry that he will attempt to get the Bard to record for him. He is not interested in her salacious tendencies as he will only fornicate in order to produce an heir and he has a scheme in his head to affect some sort of politically beneficial union at some point. Perhaps the daughter of some other landless lord. Perhaps Mathias is another such Rightful Lord of the Land. Perhaps Alec the Halberdier is as well.
The Red Knight was a hero who’s legend has become synonymous with the rebellion against the empire and the discontent of the peoples of Core. He happens to be the ancestor of Wolverhampton. Perhaps he communicates in dreams or waking visions. Symbols of the Red Knight are like the jesus fish in ancient Rome. An unlikely avatar, perhaps, but Wolverhamption the VII has great potential... and a fierce mustache.

Friends of Blackburn

Angus Og is a half-orc innkeeper known to Woverhampton. He is a former mercenary who built his country boardinghouse on the edge of the forest where he serves farmers, lumberjacks, foresters, bandits, rebels, elves, orcs, dwarves and even halflings, and any other as long as they are Sir Hector's men. The Elf Haven Inn is a favorite waystation for the landless knight when he visits his ancestral lands. The mead is intense and the wine is surprisingly good. It is sometimes said Angus Og was raised by elves before he took to the reaver's ways.

Mevrain the Herbalist has not been poorly treated by Sir Hector, which makes her mildly amused when Wolverhampton blunders into her cottage every winter carrying a freshly slain stag and a sack full of winter mugroot, but it is a nice meal, and the neighbors do appreciate it. Perhaps she forgets that she was once the niece of the long lost Earl of Pembroke, who's line has been official rent from the Roles of Nobility. Or perhaps she does not forget that, ever.

Old Gro lives in the forest, wizened and half-cracked.

The Campaign

"What Ho?"
This page is for recording the story of our heroes adventures in the Lands of Cor, as brought to us by fevered dreams of RobtheDungeonmaster. All participants are welcome to contribute. There will be some sort of campaign log and an archive of handouts and maps.

Our heroes:
Kage: Dragonborn Assassin
Jet Berry: Elf Bard
Amulfey: Tiefling Hexblade
Alec, Knight of the Verdant Glade: Warlord
Wolverhampton the VII Wanderer: Paladin