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Chapter One: The Iron Sphere of Sthombo

Mar 24, 2015 5:45 am
To Frekki Mornraven and Leth Everwood, he was Uncle Ed, the wandering hunter and adventurer who saved them both from a vicious pair of wilding hill giant youths one fall evening on the road from Dule, with nothing more than a smoke bomb and one well-thrown javelin. He brought them back to his camp that night, cooked them squirrel, and drew out story after story of Frekki's time in the army of Dule and Leth's particular knowledge and insights of the woodlands of Bload's north coast.

To Carillion Tintinnabulum and Felor of the Mountain, he was Mayor Kells, who welcomed them into his tiny village when it seemed everyone else they encountered was telling them to go back to Jerma. He learned conversational Dwarvish from Carillion and spoke it with perfect grammar and a comically bad accent, he spent long wine-soaked nights talking to Felor about his dreams of Fjorgyn and what they might portend.

To Tzipporah Vulgaris and Vad Fekete, he was Edvers Kells, a concerned citizen who vouched for the fact that their dubious enterprise in the back room of the Alehouse of the Intertwined Sea-Worms in Sthombo could, perhaps, be described as a confidence game, but it certainly didn't involve magic, how ridiculous, he had seen the whole thing and there hadn't been any sorcery or witchcraft involved, the so-called "victims" were merely bitter about having been so credulous. He paid the fines their sentences had been reduced to on the condition that they come back to his village and show his daughter Zora a cantrip or two.

So it was on this gray and rainy morning in late summer that these six individuals stood to witness his execution and bear his body away afterward. Of his family, the residents of the tiny village he founded, and his adventuring companions, none dared be seen supporting him in this hour. And it did not go unremarked that only outlanders, outcasts, and suspected criminals would still stand by him now.

For the ancient treasure of Sthombo was missing, the Iron Sphere cast down by nameless gods of the heavens in primeval times, and there were witnesses who had seen Edvers Kells skulking about the shrine where it was kept, and others who had seen him leaving Sthombo by oxcart in the dead of night shortly before the theft of the Iron Sphere and the murder of those who guarded it was discovered, and though his village and his townhouse and his hunting cabins had been torn to the very foundations and nothing had been found, the justiciars hired by the Tetrarchs of Sthombo to investigate the crime found him guilty of sacreligious theft and murder.

Despite the weather, a crowd of about two hundred has gathered in the Old Temple Square to watch the execution. The six who would still count themselves among Edvers Kells' friends stand on a platform off to one side, with a disinterested and inattentive pair of guards posted nearby to keep the crowd from turning on them.

He is unable to walk unassisted to his appointed place; he has been tortured extensively in the hopes he might reveal where he hid the Iron Sphere. One justiciar guides him to a kneeling position while another reads out the list of charges he has been convicted of. High profile as it is, only one Tetrarch has bothered to make an appearance at this execution: apparently Lord Vaun drew the short straw. He stands on the temple steps with his retinue, bouncing on his heels restively.

The third justiciar slices the air a few times with his massive ritual knife, exercising his arm. A few voices in the crowd angrily cry out for Edvers to reveal the location of Sthombo's lost treasure while he still has breath, but most of them just seem to be here for the show.

(You have time for one action, or some observations, before the execution takes place. Please note, for the heroically minded, there is no way to stop this without being set upon by numerous guards and an angry mob, and even if he were saved, it's unlikely Edvers will survive much longer anyway)
Mar 24, 2015 8:21 am
The rain rattles through Felor's armour as he contemplates the grim reality of the scene in front of him. Kells didn't do this, that's for sure, but as fraudulent as this conviction is, the cogs of justice are turning and there's no way to stop them now.
As the wind changes and the rain starts to strike the other side of his face, Felor closes his eyes and mutters a prayer - a prayer for salvation, justice, and truth. Maybe if the sphere can be found and the true criminal unmasked, Kells' name can be cleared...

Can I do a History check to see if I can recall any reason the sphere would be stolen (special powers etc) aside from its presumable intrinsic worth as a relic?
Last edited March 24, 2015 9:26 am, a total of 1 time

Rolls

History skill check - (1d20+3)

( 1 ) + 3 = 4

Mar 24, 2015 9:59 am
Carillion bows his head sadly. "a trial this shoddy would never have been allowed back home. We value Justice rather than vengeance. but i suppose a quick solution for a wrong is required by ones who live less than a hundred years."

"be strong my friend, face your end bravely"

the dwarf shakes his head sadly, and the bells braided into his beard tinkle. Kells feels a strong, comforting hand on his shoulder.

Carillion will cast unseen servant, which will stay on the opposite side of wherever the justiciar is. mainly to lend emotional support, but also to mercy kill the prisoner if this gets out of hand"
Mar 24, 2015 11:10 am
"Stupid Kells. I always told him his meddling would get him killed." Tzipporah cleared her throat and coughed to hide the crack in her voice. It was entirely possible Kells had stolen the trinket. But if he did it was no doubt for good reason. It was just the kind of well intention scheme he would get up to. Tzipporah clenched her fist and then relaxed it. She wanted to save him, she wanted to use her gifts to reduce this entire place to a mass of charred corpses. But her instincts for self preservation stayed her hand. If she was up there Kells would do something. Tzipporah felt a wave of shame for her inaction. She leaned into Vad slightly.
"We are gonna find who is responsible for this. And I'm gonna peel their skin from their bones with my bare teeth." The declaration didn't make her feel any better.
Mar 24, 2015 11:23 am
I would also like to make an Arcana roll on the iron sphere to remember anything I might have heard about it.

Rolls

Arcana Skill Check - (1d20+3)

( 14 ) + 3 = 17

Mar 24, 2015 4:09 pm
Felor recalls that the Iron Sphere is old and round and probably made of iron.

Tzipporah, however, knows that the Iron Sphere has been around since before Sthombo was called Sthombo, that it is about two and a half feet in diameter, and that it has gone through many changes since it was first found. Said to originally have been a solid lump of iron, over the centuries it has smoothed, etched with symbols, cut in half, hollowed, possibly melted and reforged entirely, and kept hostage in Hazard for thirty years. It has been rumored to contain treasures or demons, or to be the egg of a race that dwells beyond the stars, or to contain a perfect replica of the cosmos sealed within it. None of these esoteric theories have much credibility, and the Tetrarchs of Sthombo seem to be treating its loss as a grievous insult and wound to their civic pride, but not an existential crisis.
Mar 24, 2015 4:25 pm
"What would anyone want with an old iron ball anyway? Why put Kells to death just for the loss of a lump of metal?"
Mar 24, 2015 5:41 pm
"If the stories are true about the Iron Sphere of Sthombo it could be an object of great power. But more then likely our friend is dying over pride and ego, Felor. I'd like to find that sphere and use it to bash in the heads of the Tetrarch."
Mar 24, 2015 6:57 pm
At a glance, Leth appeared to be quite stoic; not moving, eyes fixed on Uncle Ed, without a trace of emotion on his face. The hood of his cloak was drawn up around his head, shielding his face from the rain. But the more observant onlooker would see the tell tale signs of anger: a slight twitch in the corner of his mouth, occasionally flared nostrils, clenched fists. He did not move, but his mind was racing, trying to come up with some sort of scheme or plan that would save the man whose corpse they had come to bear away. For every scenario he could come up with, there was no ending in which he was successful. There were too many incited people here. Too many trained guards. Too few of Ed's friends. No, the only thing they could do now was resign to the fact that it was too late.

Leth had never been particularly religious, but muttered a silent prayer now, followed by a personal oath:

"There is no justice here today. If any justice is to be found, it will have to be by our own hands."




OoC: ...I very nearly said "If we can't protect him, you can be damned well sure we'll avenge him" but I thought it might be a little too soon for the movie quotes hahaha
Last edited March 31, 2015 5:23 am, a total of 1 time
Mar 24, 2015 8:41 pm
Vad winces as he watches the executioner swinging his blade. "After all Edvers has done for me how can I stand here doing nothing?"

His eyes fix on the executioner's blade as his mind races. "I could easily stop him, but there's no way I'd be able to... Maybe if we took that guy out and then... Damn! It's hopeless." He lowers his head as Tzipporah leans in and says, "We are gonna find who is responsible for this. And I'm gonna peel their skin from their bones with my bare teeth."

Nodding in agreement he adds, "I'll hold them down while you do it."

Not willing to watch his friend meet his fate, Vad peers out into the crowd with disgust. "I wonder if anyone out there knows something."

Vad will watch the crowd for reactions, trying to pick up on someone acting a little out of place or perhaps a bit too excited or relieved that Edvers is being executed.
Last edited March 24, 2015 8:47 pm, a total of 1 time

Rolls

Perception (watching the crowd) - (1d20)

( 5 ) = 5

Mar 24, 2015 9:14 pm
Frekki shifted her weight nervously from side to side. Her brow was furrowed and she frowned severely as she look on the crowd in growing disgust. She wanted to act, to do anything at all, but for once in her life she felt helpless. Locked in, and forced to watch one of the few people she admired be cut down unjustly. She balled her hands into fists to keep them from shaking, hiding in her over-sized cloak, rain rolling off the leather. To Frekki, the rain showed that her gods were present at the execution, though whether or not it pleased them was beyond her ken.

For Frekki, it is all she can do to do nothing. "Damn this all, this whole rotten mess." She spits out, though to no one in particular.

"I'd love to be the one doing the bashing," Frekki smiles morbidly at Tzipporah.
Mar 24, 2015 9:29 pm
Vad scans the crowd, but nothing unusual catches his eye.

Two priests carry an idol of Mit-Ratu out of the Old Temple on a litter. This god of justice will watch over the execution and see that the departing soul is conducted to its proper place in the afterlife. As is customary, Edvers will be denied formal communion with his own gods in the moments before his death.

The justiciars position themselves; the one who has taken on the role of executioner lines up his swing. The one in charge of the proceedings gives the signal.

A tough old bastard to the last, it takes three solid blows to behead Edvers Kells. The lead justiciar places his head on a wooden pylon and announces that justice has been delivered. Lord Vaun and his attendants quickly depart. Mit-Ratu is returned to the temple. A few of the spectators come up for a closer look, but most of the crowd starts to hurry back to their homes and jobs. Blood and rainwater mixes and spreads over the square. Two of the justiciars discuss the final settling of their payment with a city official while the third wipes his ritual knife clean.

You are required to let the head and body remain here on display for an hour before you're allowed to take it away for burial.
Mar 24, 2015 9:57 pm
Felor approaches the body, lays his spear on the ground in front of him, and kneels.
"Edvers, my friend. This was no way for you to go."
Making the sign of Fjorgyn in the air, he closes his eyes and begins a traditional prayer for the dead:
"Cattle die,
kinsmen die
you yourself die;
I know one thing
which never dies:
the judgement of a dead man's life.
"
His eyes open again.
"Edvers, gods willing, we will find the true justice here."
Mar 24, 2015 11:37 pm
The executioner clicks his tongue. "Would that I had such steadfast friends to look after me were I in the same predicament." He gives you a rueful half-smile as he wraps up his huge knife. "He was a good egg, this old fellow. Cracked jokes with us even as we were making ready to put him to questions under pain. Never held it personal against us. I liked him."
Mar 25, 2015 10:04 am
Carillion dismisses the invisible entity with a stamp of his hammer and leans over toward Tzipporah, whispering to her. " do you suppose a reincarnation may be in order? Would his spirit even be willing to pursue that as an option? It's beyond my ability, but perhaps in Banwod has the knowledge and aptitude? If we removed say, a finger and left right now would we make it there in ten days to bring back our friend?"

"Surely we could find the means to do it"
Mar 25, 2015 4:13 pm
They're a little late, but eventually the gravediggers you hired show up with a handcart to transport the body and a shroud to cover it with. The plan is to head toward what's left of Edvers' village, about an hour's walk north of the city, and find a discreet place nearby to bury it.

Lightning flashes behind the Old Temple; a few seconds later the sound of thunder rolls in. The storm is getting worse.

If somebody wants to take one of Edvers' fingers, they'll need to make a Sleight of Hand roll.
Mar 25, 2015 4:28 pm
"The gods are not happy."
Felor pulls his cloak tighter against this renewed assault by the rain.
"We best make a start on the journey."
Mar 25, 2015 11:57 pm
"Agreed, Felor. Once we're done at Edvers' village I'd like to try and locate Zora. Maybe she can shed some light on this whole fiasco."

Vad smiles as he recalls his and Tzipporah's 'payment' for having Edvers help them out of a jam. "Edvers knew all too well what we were up to, but still went easy on us in exchange for teaching Zora a few tricks", he says to no one in particular. "Quick learner, that one. Of course I was lucky that Tzipporah was with me, I don't even know how I can do this stuff, let alone teach someone else."

He holds out his right hand, palm up, and produces three small colored balls of light that rotate around a common center. "First one she learned..."
Last edited March 25, 2015 11:58 pm, a total of 2 times
Mar 26, 2015 12:23 am
Tzipporah frowned at the executioner. "Your words do not bring comfort. You best take your cursed blade and be gone." She knelt down at Kells body and began to sob dramatically. The tears were not real however and simply stood to mask her attempt to take one of Kells index fingers.

Rolls

Sleight of Hand - (1d20+4)

( 6 ) + 4 = 10

Mar 26, 2015 1:34 am
Cockroach says:
Tzipporah frowned at the executioner. "Your words do not bring comfort. You best take your cursed blade and be gone." She knelt down at Kells body and began to sob dramatically. The tears were not real however and simply stood to mask her attempt to take one of Kells index fingers.
You are seen, but nobody tries to stop you. "Taking a souvenir?" one of the guards jeers.
szemely says:
He holds out his right hand, palm up, and produces three small colored balls of light that rotate around a common center. "First one she learned..."
The gravediggers' eyes widen, and one of them grimaces fearfully. "Witchcraft," he whispers. The other elbows him and mutters, "Come on, let's get this done quick as we can."

Your little funerary procession takes the street to the north gate out of the city. The four towers of the Palace of the Tetrarchy loom overhead as you pass market stalls closed and tarped because of the weather and cross the bridge over the flooded canal. The gravediggers keep casting queasy glances back at Vad. A few women, certainly unaware of the identity of the body under the shroud, emerge from their dwellings to follow behind you, tearing at their clothes and hair and wailing profusely, hoping to make a few coins as hired mourners.

A horse and a dolphin are carved into the cyclopean posts of the city gate: symbols of Nethuns, the chief deity of Sthombo. The guards at the gate inspect your cart and wave you through.
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