The dark figure plays a devilish tune, manifesting a world before its inevitable destruction, stirring images of a time long since forgotten.
The story begins in Nil Crag, a walled city at the beginning of a mountain pass into the mountains of the Zherno Rift. The magistrate of this city, Magister Balshone, has been hiring adventuring types to serve as his militia in the wake of the increasing kobold scourge.
Our protagonists, Sir Raynor, Nuktuk, Beautelby, and Boson find themselves as a part of this militia, along with an unknown brigand and straggler known as Thorstein.
On an early Deepwood morning, one of the native guardsmen awakens the crew, alerting them to kobold approaching the city from the north. The party moves in haste to the area outside the doors of the north gate, awaiting the arrival of the enemy. Minutes turn to many, and almost an hour passes with no sight of these creatures. So discontent with their situation, the patience of the militia degrades, and a fistfight between Thorstein and Beautelby breaks out. While Sir Raynor intends to intervene, Boson attempts to do his best to allow this fight to play out in favor of his comrade. Once the fight is broken up, an oncoming figure draws the partys attention to the road.
At first, it is hard to distinguish, but the entity approaching them appears to be an elderly man on a horse-drawn wagon. An uneasiness in the air around the man prompts the party to stop him, and they approach to investigate. The frightened man is silent, refusing to speak, and the horse is stirring in the anxiety of an unknown menace. The warlock, Boson, uses the powers granted by his dark god to hail the man in telepathic conversation, only to be met with a single response.
“They’re in the wagon!”
The kobolds, once biding their time to strike, have now grown impatient. The man, bound by a hidden rope around his neck, is pulled into the spear of one of the kobolds, sticking through his back and out of the mans chest in a sudden, and bloody display.
The tarp of the wagon is removed, and kobolds jump from their hiding, engaging the party in battle. During the first moments of battle, Beautelby attempts to save the man by pulling him from nearly falling into the wagon, and struggles to remove the spear. Sir Raynor and Nuktuk engage the oncoming of the kobolds from the left side of the wagon. Sir Raynor, and Nuktuk, the barbarian from the north, proceed to chop down their opponents in the frenzy of battle. The Boson begins to assault these creatures from afar with his warlock magics, until a group of these kobolds approach from the right end of the wagon to put an end to his casting. This act prompts Nuktuk to rage, and leap over the wagon to approach behind the lead of Beautelby, but they arrive a moment too late to see Boson fall unconscious from the spear-thrusts of their enemy. Beautelby fights to save him from the killing blows, and in a moment of chance, Beautelby stabilizes Boson, preventing him from falling to death, as each of the still standing party members persists to fend off the rest of the kobolds.
Noticing the approach of ‘kobold dragonshields’ from the path, a re-enforcement party arriving late, Sir Raynor rushes to meet them head on, with Nuktuk and Beautelby finishing off the rest of the initial kobolds. Upon the vanquishing of the final foes, there seemed to be just a moment of calm, when an explosion is heard across the mountains.
Sir Raynor, having by chance noticed the silhouette of two very distinguishable objects, sees something in the far away that the rest of the party can only hear; the decimation of a small airship by the cannons of a large Ironclad War Zeppelin.
It is not apparent to the rest of the party what the cause of the noise is, or to the diligent, yet mute Sir Raynor why this act of sabatoge had occured, but something very strange was afoot in the Grimore Pass.
In the midst of this, Boson, with the assistance of Beautelby, decides that the old man was not worth saving as much as his life was worth taking, and descended a psychic image of tentacles coming out of the eyes of Boson towards the man to stifle him into the mans brain, sapping the remaining life from his body. Their loot seemed merely to the a few small trinkets of religious significance.
When all was said and done, the party was summoned to the Magisters Quarters to discuss the events of that morning. No one of the hired party had yet to meet Magister Balshone, but they were now granted the opportunity to do just that!
During their stay in the waiting room, a figure stepped out of the office door, fully clad in an intimidating, age-old set of armor. By the deduction of the party, it was apparent that this was the armor of the Verbauren Empire a millenia ago. This figure had nothing to say, and no purpose to react; simply to stand at attention in front of the door.
A moment of withdrawl into the office, and return, the figure declares to the party that the magister was available to see them.
The hardened, and aged magister proceeds to await the party. As he judges his hireling, he proceeds to tell them that Thorstein has been released for his cowardice, and indulges the party on his grand intent of hiring such individuals. He hopes to utilize the party not simply as a defense for his city, but as a buffer against the political advances and overstepping of the Ironclad Order. The extent of this cold alliance was uncertain, but one thing certainly was:
This crag belonged to Magister Balshone, and only he is allowed to choose who steps into his crag, and who is not!