In one ancient world, there was a region where strange majicks and demihuman races thrived. The “Vanished Lands” were blessed by the gods and cursed by prophecy. Travelers became adventurers, and adventurers strove to be heroes in the face of many perils and wonders.
Various groups of mercenaries and diplomats have fought humanoids in the northwestern borderlands, encountered pirates on the Sea of Nagendwa, and wandered the hostile Halmed Desert and the wide Plains of Sathendo….
- “Giacomo ‘the Mysterious’ Du Vane” [Beruk A.]-male Hifalendorin human Mage (Gypsy Wizard) and stage seer, embittered by experiences in Hesolin’s Magisterium; NGc, Lvl. 3
- “Hamfast Hammerfist” [Brian W.]-male Zeda human Fighter, mountaineer, “barbarian” strongman, and laborer; TNg, Lvl. 3
- “Scully Strongbow” [Sara F.]-female albino Gnoll (Flind) Ranger, archer, knife thrower, and scout, with owl “Owlicious”; NGl, Lvl. 3
- “Corwin Windsong” [Bruce K.]-male Half-Elf Bard, runaway aristocrat, ladies’ man, and ringmaster with a mandolin; CNg, Lvl. 3
- “Elsa Fairbottom” [Rich C.G.]-female Hill Dwarf Druid outcast, cook/brewer, and animal handler with owlbear cub “Oswald”; NGc, Lvl. 3
- “Tempestade” [Josh C./absent ]-male Barbari human Monk (Battledancer/capoeirista from outside the “Vanished Lands”), roustabout; CGl, Lvl. 2
- “Radius” [Jason E.R./absent ]-male Modron Paladin of Primus, lord of Nirvana; exiled to the Prime Material plane; LGn, Lvl. 1
“1 to 2 March 1228 B.C.E.:” The performers continued their exploration of Thadenis, capital of the (proto-Celtic) human kingdom of Saganim. They planned to investigate corruption within the realm but spent their first night carousing.
Nursing a hangover, Hamfast Hammerfist joins Elsa Fairbottom at Nersago’s Forge. The chants to the lord of the mountains (also known as Gobnihr, Vulkan, or Moradin) don’t help Hamfast feel better at first. Elsa accepts Mountain Dwarf priest Anatoly Yusoprov’s invitation to take a turn at the ringing anvils.
Rather than heading straight to the Harandrim Academy, the local Magisterium (magic school/library), Giacomo du Vane gathers rumors at the Temple Tor. He shows shopkeepers and sages items such as needle and thread taken from the Necromancer near Tensar, as well as a sketch of an arcane symbol. They also refer him to Eudar, a puppeteer.
Scully Strongbow goes to the Field of Grulla, the huntsman, where she buys arrows from a gruff Grugach (Wild Elf) scout. Badgertail sees the Gnoll’s owl companion and offers to take them hunting at night.
Meanwhile, Corwin Windsong goes to Thadenis’ Bardic College, where he chats up Maeve Gallagher, a priestess of Brigitt, goddess of fire and poetry. He learns that Prince Daven, the third son of King Edmund II, is going to be given a hippogriff as a sign of his status as heir apparent.
The adventurers regroup at the Royal Society for Cartography for lunch. “Ulrich Vandermoor” [Ted A.H./Non-Player Character] says that he has requested a royal audience on their behalf. Corwin and Elsa join the society, which charges an annual fee and pays for maps from any exploratory missions. Proud Ulrich gives each of them medallions of membership.
Elsa also persuses a book of regional ales, as Ulrich and Corwin explain the importance of Prince Daven’s ascension and the relationships between House Sable, which they suspect of necromancy, and the throne.
Apparently, Lord Stefans of House Sable is a longtime counselor of King Edmund. His son Sean is a friend of Garamond, Daven’s older brother. Ulrich is interrupted as a herald arrives with a summons to the Hall of Thanes.
Ulrich accompanies the group to the Isle of Valor, where they pass armored guards and knights. They hear of a dispute over territory that could result in an execution but stay focused on the task at hand.
Corwin and Giacomo are uncharacteristically quiet, leaving Elsa to conduct introductions to King Edmund II and Queen Margaret. As their cover story, the visitors request access to a quarry on behalf of Angus of Baln. They then ask for a private conversation and are escorted to the royal chambers.
Scully presents the Sable signet ring taken from the Necromancer, as well as a sigil from a flesh golem. The king takes the charges seriously and seems to recognize Corwin. He then leaves the room so that Queen Margaret can discuss more details with plausible deniability.
She grants permission for the wanderers to watch House Sable, but orders them to report directly and solely to her. To help, she also requests that Vistel’s Circus perform for the nobility after Daven’s investiture as crown prince.
Back at the “Happy Brownie” inn, Elsa asks Corwin what happened between him and the king. The disguised Bard admits to his aristocratic lineage, which he had hidden even from his companions until now.
“My story begins almost 30 years ago, when Athelward the Just was chief of the Saganim clans, and the sun shone down on a land yet untroubled by monsters and wars. Prince Edmund and his cousin Cormac ap Morgan traveled across the ‘Vanished Lands’ in search of adventure.”
“Edmund the Strong fell in love with an Elf named Lyrilian Moonshadow, and they had a son, Berek. The rare Half-Elf learned to fight from his father and about art from his mother. Unfortunately, Lyrilian died in childbirth, leaving Berek with a younger sister, Karenna.”
“When Edmund became king, he remarried, and Queen Margaret is loved by the people. Her son Garamond got along well with his older siblings, despite the difference in age. Edmond also fathered another son, Daven, by consort Galera. Our people are more flexible about kin than our neighbors in Hifalendor. Garamond and Daven were more like their father than Berek ever was.”
“Berek fell in love with his tutor Katarina. However, that Bard was already married to Dalek, a Tiefling Mage and advisor to the king. Their affair was discovered, and Katarina disappeared. Blood was found in her chambers, and the prince fled to the stormy Sea of Nagendwa. Many regarded this as an admission of guilt. I am Berek, son of Edmund, but I have renounced my claim on the crown of Saganim.”
After a moment of stunned silence, Hamfast likens Corwin’s tale to that of Alfonse Dourface and his sons Hanso the cowherd and Zeppo the wheat farmer. Elsa wonders about where Garamond might be and suggests that Corwin reclaim his rightful place as Prince Berek, but he is not interested.
Ulrich points out that Prince Daven is known to be ambitious and that they now have to worry about both Lord Stefans and the Mage Dalek. Giacomo conducts research into House Sable’s holdings, and Hamfast lets Orlando Vistel know that a show has been added to the public one in the main Agora (market square).
Sometime later, Corwin prepares a lineup of acts for the next few days and slips back into the palace to check on his sister. A cloaked courtier walks from her room, and Karenna is angry at Berek for leaving and summons guards to throw him out.
Scully hikes out of town with Owlicious and fellow Ranger Badgertail. They cross fields and pastures before finding wilderness where their animal companions can roam free.
As crowds gather for Prince Daven’s elevation, the members of Vistel’s Circus take up their own positions. Wary Giacomo looks for various notables such as Dalek and Lord Stefans. Tall Hamfast mingles with the Saganim townsfolk and yeomen and looks for nonhumans.
Cloaked Scully watches river traffic on the East Rush, while Corwin covertly approaches his half-brother Daven. Pious Elsa maneuvers to the Cathedral of Edillon. Horns and drums announce the beginning of the ceremony….
I hope that everyone had a happy Passover or Easter. It was great to see the whole gang after various scheduling interruptions this past winter! I look forward to rejoining Jason E.R.’s “Barsoomian Adventures: the Tenth Ray of Mars” planetary romance tomorrow night, and the " Vortex: Terra’s Pride" telecom space opera will resume next Sunday. Be seeing you, -Gene