“Your eyelid flickers as the first rain falls. What began with just a single isolated droplet of icy cold water soon turns into a more persistent precipitate. You hear the tink, tink, tink of each individual, perfectly formed droplet falling on your armour. You feel an uncomfortable cold on your back – a penetrating chill which, as you begin to stir, gives way to muscular pain between your shoulders. Your eyes blink; blurred with the torrent of rain now falling from above. You raise a single hand to wipe the moisture from your face and sweep your drenched hair from off of your forehead. It’s still light, but dusk is descending. You can barely lift your arm. Bruises grate against your mail and open wounds chafe on your sackcloth undergarments. You try to think about where you are and what has happened to you but that only serves to warn you that your head is pounding. You raise your single hand beyond your brow to touch the back of your soaked head. Your fingers poke into what you assume was recently an open gash. Pulling them in front of your eyes, you try to focus on them, glancing intently between the throbs of pain echoing around your head. Your fingers are covered in now diluted blood and hardened dirt is caked under your fingernails. You try to sit up but your stomach will not let you. You fold your arm over your waist and roll a little onto your side. Gradually, you haul yourself into a seated position. You try to keep your head upright, fighting the urge to fall right back down again and lapse into unconsciousness. Around you lay five other bodies – contorted in various positions. You ask yourself ‘Are they dead or are they alive?’ What has happened here? Why can’t you remember? Who are they? Who are you? Why can’t you remember? You lean forward, stifling a cry of pain and instead sighing with exasperation through gritted teeth. You grab onto a tuft of long grass and pull yourself forward. Finding the ground with one knee, you force yourself to stand up. Pain shoots throughout your body… You try to shake it off but suddenly realise something far more important. You stop shaking your hand and stand perfectly still but for a moment.
Your name… you remember your name."
Each of the characters woke up in due time. Spending a while in contemplation and having shaken off the initial shock and confusion, each of the characters remembered brief flickers from the past four years. They remembered their past and they remembered the last war – a conflict raging between the five great nations of the continent the party now finds itself in – Khorvaire. Its purpose was to reunite the nations into the great Kingdom of Galifar after the succession conflict that occurred upon the death of its King, Jarot. The conflict lasted over a century. All of the characters remembered just how monumental it was which saddened them a little. It saddened them because each remembered the names and faces of friends and even family who were embroiled in the conflict but also, it saddened them because they had somehow forgotten. The characters gradually realised that it is impossible to understate the significance of this war and the impact that it had on the lives of every inhabitant of Khorvaire and on its now scarred landscape. From thick forests and vast plains, fortresses still rise up towards the sky, their parapets bristling with weapons. In the middle of wastelands blasted by magic and quenched in blood, the ruins of castles, camps and entire cities protrude from the earth. In the halls of power, every promise masks deception, every treaty disguises an ulterior motive and every shadow hides a potential assassin. The characters remembered Breland – a nation which played home to a few of them for quite some time. They remembered that most of Breland weathered the storm of the last war amazingly well. The size of the nation, the strength and determination of its people and its abundance of resources gave it the ability to carry on where others fell back. The central and southern regions of the nation saw little, if any direct conflict over the century of battle, but no one in Breland made it through without losing a friend or loved one to the war effort. While the central farming lands in the nation never suffered the indignation of invasion, it was the sons and daughters of the farmers who went off to fight for Brelish honour and glory. Then, the characters remembered in particular the events of Providence and the unnatural light which flashed through the eastern sky – an event which became known as the Day of Mourning. The Day of Mourning, marked more than the beginning of the end of the Last War, it was the end of a nation. On that day the nation of Cyre was destroyed in a holocaust of fire and magic. You recalled that in what is now known as the Fields of Ruin in southwestern Cyre, the combined forces of the Brelish military and Thrane armies, joined by pact, were attacking a much smaller Cyran force. The Cyrans had just been reinforced but were still outnumbered 3-1. To make the situation worse for the Cyrans, Karrn attackers were moving through Cyre to the north. However, bad things might have looked for the Cyrans, no one could have imagined the devastation in store. The invading armies were not spared either. The skies are said to have burned so brightly that soldiers in Border outposts in Breland and Thrane were blinded. In the end virtually everyone within the borders perished. The devastated and almost uninhabitable landscape of Cyre is now referred to as the Mournland. Like a festering wound, the Mournland divides the continent of Khorvaire in half. Dead-grey mist defines its borders and within those borders, the wounds of the last war do not heal. The thousands of soldiers bearing the heraldry of various nations lie as if they had died mere moments ago on what were once the battlefields of battered Cyre. The dead, or their spirits, sometimes rise to continue fighting the war. Rampant arcane energy has mutated the monsters that live and hunt here. Those same arcane forces shape unnatural weather and deadly terrain and sometimes take on a semblance of life itself.
Despite piecing together all of this sad knowledge, the party had to move on to try and find somewhere to rest and tend their wounds. They followed a lightning rail track to a near-by trading hub called Hatheril. Therein they met a friendly vender named Gant, a veteran of the last war who gave them a map of the town and offered to take them to a near-by inn called Sweet Liberty. At the inn, the characters were surprised to find out that the inn-keeper knew each of them by name. He informed the group that their room was paid up to the end of the month and that he had kept it for them despite the fact that they had left three weeks ago and failed to return. After searching the room, the group found that they had hidden a key therein – a key to a safety deposit box in the Dwarven House Kundarack banking guild building. After a night’s sleep, the group made their way to the bank where their box was held. Inside the safety deposit box they found a bundle of papers and a little pebble.
The bundle of papers appear to be something akin to a shipping manifest. The first page details what is being shipped and the transit information for the shipped item. It seems to be fairly large – probably a crate about 10’ x 10’. The crate seems to be being shipped from a place called Atur in Karrnath to a corporation named as Caldera in place called Wroat in Breland. The crate also seems to be being transferred between Lightening Rail and Trade Wagons. This transfer is detailed on the docket and the point of exchange seems to include a couple of weeks storage in a warehouse in Hatheril. There is also a portion of text scribbled at the bottom of the document in different hand-writing which seems to indicate that the delivery, whatever it is, is late. The second page, marked with the seal of the Gnomish scribes of House Sivis, contains what appears to be some kind of Arcane sigil as well as a phrase written in a foreign language.
The polished stone was revealed to be magical under a Detect Magic Arcana check. After a little bit of time spent examining the item, it was revealed that a person need just think about activating the stone while holding it in their hand reveal some kind of information stored within it.
The group took both the stone and the two pages back to their room at Sweet Liberty where they activated the stone and discovered that it contained the image of an odd dragonmark. Instead of glimmering blue and green, like a normal dragonmark, this one flickered with black and red. Some of the characters recognised what it was and became somewhat concerned.
“A flicker of recognition, immediately replaced by concern shoots through your mind. This is far more than simply an abnormal dragonmark; this is an aberrant dragonmark. The dragonmarks are passed through bloodlines and when two members of different dragonmarked families reproduce it often results in aberrant dragonmarks. The aberrant marks do not manifest identically each time therefore it is possible for two individuals with completely different looking marks to produce the same magical effect using the mark. Indeed each aberrant dragonmark is completely unique to its bearer. Originally aberrant marked were seen as outcasts and outsiders. To those versed in the lore and legends of the Five Nations, aberrant dragonmarks conjure up images of monsters in human form—terrifying creatures driven mad by their own powers, who can kill with a touch or control the forces of fire and fear. Even the most reasoned people whisper that aberrant dragonmarks are signs of Khyber, the underworld, the Dragon Below who created the demons of the world, and that those who bear these symbols are cursed souls who spread misfortune wherever they go.”
The group decided that it might be worthwhile trying to find out which warehouse the shipping manifest was linked to and what was contained therein. On leaving the inn, however, the party was waylaid by a few disgruntled mercenaries. Orryn, the bard, tried to placate them but couldn’t reach through their ire and a fight ensued. Interrogating the last remaining mercenary, the group found that they were actually disgruntled warehouse guards who the party had knocked out a few back in order to gain entrance into a warehouse. The owners of the storage facility didn’t look kindly on their hired help being overpower and so fired the guards. A few of the guards had observed the characters in Sweet Liberty and decided it was time to get their own back. Sweet Liberty’s owner, Jarred, however, was not too pleased by the violence on his doorstep and despite the group pleading self-defence, he asked them to leave his establishment lest they cause more trouble. The group decided it best to lay-low for a while so headed to the Hatheril slums where they located a little temporary shack within which they could squat for a little while.
That evening, the group headed to investigate the warehouse they had breached a few weeks back (information from the guards interrogation giving them adequate directions). Durzo climbed onto the roof of the complex and observed that there were at least two, if not more, guards therein but that there was a roof entrance which some of the parties better climbers could possibly reach. The group retreated back to their hovel to plan their assault.