Chapter 0: The Journey Begins
Our heroes meet up in a caravan on the Kheldell path, heading eastward to Red Larch, a major settlement in the Dessarin Valley. Paid by the merchants Conryn and Zylshor Leosandoral to be sturdy members of the traveling group, they are also traveling with paid gaurds: Shuzug, Loggolim, Joann, and Smooth-as-wind. Our team starts with four members to which destiny favors: Bevyn the shrouded mage, who was quiet for most of the travels. Asch the shadow sword, known for his good singing and curiosity of the world around him. Arwen the forest-trekking archer, skilled in playing the lyre and teaching about nature. And Malachi, man of light, he's firm of tongue, sturdy, and resourceful.
Your feet have taken you here, and your past has sculpted you. Your life started then, but your destiny starts now, and the fate of the world starts here, on the Kheldell Path. The road to Red Larch, the major settlement in the area, has been uneventful beyond your own conversations and the unusual weather. Today, a crisp snow falls, the day before the oven-hot sun was beating you into begging for sunset. Conryn Leosandoral and his mate Zylshor say it’s another 3 days trip to town. Both are half-elf merchants, and have hired guards for their caravan trip to Red Larch. For your troubles, even if you’re just a traveler who looks sturdy, you’ve been paid 15g for your passage.
Around the campfire, you’ve heard the two men talk about their successful merchanting business, hoping to raise a good family somewhere safe, and teach their children art, music, and have a good life. Shuzug, a half-orc in your group, greatly appreciates the songs the Leosandoral’s speak of, and has provided many excellently vocals himself. Muscular, but intelligent, he has an unusually refined mind for someone of his appearance.
With Shuzug, is Loggolim, a dwarf, who calls herself female much to your surprise. A great-axe adorns her back, and her red braided beard covers her gut. She speaks of the grand fights Shuzug and her have had on past jobs of being guards.
Also amongst your group, is Joann Zander, a blonde-haired female woman who is the roughest around the edges. She speaks hedonistically of spending her wealth with little regard and great regret with each tale. She dreams of the easy life. On your travels, you discover, that like another traveler, she hates the rain, a product, she says, of almost drowning many times.
Smooth-As-Wind however, a green-scaled lizardfolk, speaks longingly of the rain. The lizard and the boy stood outside on the first day’s rain, much to the disgust of Joann. Smooth-as-Wind knows how to use her bow, and dreams of fighting the good fight, particularly against undead. Good-hearted, she comes across naively, but knows a thing or two about herbalism, and talks hopefully about joining the wizardry school at Red Larch.
The others in your group have a fate more tightly woven to your own.
In the carriage, riding along in shelter, you’ll find a young half-elf male, pale of skin and dark of hair. He seems to speak infrequently, quietly hiding under his black cloak adorn with crimson runes. While the brash Joann heartlessly criticized his bandage covered facial wounds, none of the others did. At the campfires, he sat further away, but occasionally joined in the conversation. You’ve heard his name as “Bevyn.” But the rest you’ll have to discover.
While Loggolim jests that Bevyn is some sort of shadowy figure, there is one among your group that accepts that title. The youngest of you, perhaps not even an adult, a boy walks outside in the snow, seemingly fascinated by the frost-clad trees. He calls himself “Asch,” a misnomer for his pale complexion, white hair, and white eyes. Even the long narrow sword on his back is clad in brilliant white, a stark contrast to his plain Victorian-style black clothing. At first you could think he was blind by the appearance of his eyes, but it wasn’t so. While speaking little of his past at the campfires, he has an unusual taste for the night. For reasons he has yet to divulge, he spoke favorably of the power of shadow. Asch, like the half-orc Shuzug, sings on demand. While beautifully sung, almost masterfully, the words feel hollow and chilling, despite you not knowing their meaning.
Walking along and appreciating the sudden winter is another part of your destiny. A wood elf of song herself, a woman of deep brown hair and royal blue strands, she speaks highly of nature. She’s quick to teach to those that would listen, such as Asch and Smooth-as-Wind, about the trees, and the critters that dart through the brush. She can move through the forest with ease, collecting examples of her lessons, or herbs the lizardfolk can teach about to her. Arwen Moonsong, plays her lyre with skill and grace, even to a song she’s never heard. Her smooth elegant bow hugs her back, and her arrows shine with a silver light. There is surely a tale to them.
An appreciator of this unusually-musical trip; destiny has placed another person on your path. A human man of the light. His eyes a solid white, but seeing, his long white hair gracing his shoulders. Malachi of the Morning Lord speaks firmly of staying on the sunlit paths of life. Speaking to him often disturbs him from a deep thought as he stares out the carriage windows. While the trip has been peaceful, he wears scale armor emblazoned with the luminous symbol of the glorious sun across the front. In the night, there was talk about the thin cracks of light on his face. Making even Loggolim listen to what Malachi had to say about the lucent powers in the world.
And so, you find yourself on this path, and it will not end at Red Larch. It will take you across this land, and off to other worlds. The Dessarin Valley is a land that forges heroes, and fills graves. You’ll find betrayal, and unlikely allies. There will be sacrifices, and loss. Difficult decisions will force counsel with dangerous beings. Whatever you seek, whatever moves your feet forward, you shall find it here, amidst a chaotic clash of planes. The world is full of singers, priests, fighters, herbalists. You’ll need to be agile, and fortuitous, and strong. Those make a soldier. But you have to be heroes. You have to be silver-tongued, quick-witted, and cunning. Tread carefully young heroes.