By Adam Cieszlak, Austin Butcher, and Mark Hope.
BLOOD & MAGIC
Avallal is the daughter of Vellius, the headman of a nomadic tribe of raiders. She has proven to be much too soft, however, for a life of raiding. Furthermore, Avallal is a burgeoning wizard. If either Vellius or his men were to find out, she’s not at all certain she’d be allowed to survive. To make matters worse, she has defiled too close to a nearby oasis, poisoning the water and angering the druid that guards the area. Avallal desperately seeks a new lifestyle. If someone were to help her to leave and find a place to belong, perhaps even teaching her to preserve instead of defile, it would go a long way toward turning her life around for the better.
The dwarven warrior, Hergin Bristlespike has a problem. His Focus is to find a stash of ancient dwarven weapons told of in stories passed down in his family’s oral traditions. He recently joined Urur’s Ravagers, a group of bandits active in the Ringing Mountains, in hopes of gaining access to an area he believed could hold the dwarven treasure. Now he’s found it. Despite laying eyes on the coveted treasure, however, the natural features of the cave where it lies still deny him the means to complete his Focus. To complicate matters, several rival bandits found his trail and have followed it to the stash. So far, neither party has found a way past the natural obstacles, though it’s just a matter of time. Hergin is desperate for aid in its recovery, but also completely unaware of the fact that one of his clan’s ancient ancestors has been cursed to forever guard the weapons as an undead dwarven banshee.
THE WAY HOME
Naciri, a villichi priestess, was recently attacked by an unknown assailant. Worse, she’s been driven mad by the incident and is causing trouble for a nearby village. The villagers are fearful of a villichi reprisal and so refuse to cause Naciri harm. Their patience wears thin, however, and they would eagerly accept the aid of those brave enough to lead her away – although Naciri’s attacker may take issue with the matter
Nyapher, a defiler bandit leader, had been scavenging an ancient ruin southwest of Kalidnay. Since returning, his followers have taken notice that he’s been growing more powerful and erratic. Nyapher has, in fact, been possessed and taken over by Tisvil, a lingering psionic spirit that the defiler encountered in the ruins.
Tisvil seeks to make war on those he holds responsible for destroying his homeland. The spirit’s mind no longer recalls who that was, however, and so the target of his vengeance shifts like drifting sand.
Despite this, Tisvil never wavers on his chosen form of revenge. While his mind was trapped in the ancient ruins, he could sense the mind of a behemoth creature filled with a hatred for all things living. To fulfill his desire, he searches for a way to awaken the nightmarish entity from its magical stasis and unleash it upon his enemies.
As Tisvil solidifies his control over Nyapher, his influence on the other bandits also grows, to the point that he has swayed some of them to join him in his insane cause.
The noblewoman, Nisid Cutho of Nibenay, is preparing to throw a magnificent party. However, there are some items of importance that she simply must have. She is prepared to offer a large sum of coin to anyone able to acquire them and has no qualms on how the tasks are accomplished. The items she requires are:
- A particular vintage of wine, the Alcistares of Guthay’s Slumber. It is made from the El’chub berries, picked by the halflings of the Forest Ridge, and is known for its nutty flavor. It is difficult to find, but occasionally House Shom traders can obtain a bottle, for a price.
- An extravagant new outfit, produced by the thri-kreen tailor Pak’cha, in Gulg.
- A “performance” by the group of “actors” making the rounds near the Great Ivory Plain.
Overlooking an ancient caravan route through some rocky badlands, this tumbled edifice is all that remains of an outpost of a fallen kingdom. Travelers use it as a campsite and bandits occasionally lair there when hiding from pursuers or prey. In fact, the last visitors to the watchtower were caught unaware by one such band of marauders, and in their battle to escape, damaged an interior wall of the tower. This damage exposed part of a previously hidden entrance to the watchtower’s basement.
Perceptive travelers may discover the hidden entrance and the basement. Silver ingots still lie there, stamped with the crest of the fallen realm, alongside ancient weapons and armor, caked in the dust of ages. A stone golem still watches over the hoard, awaiting a call to arms from masters who will never return – or the appearance of intruders unwise enough to disturb its unthinking vigil.