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Story Hour: The Companions of the Vale 
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Skobbit

Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2008 8:00 am
Posts: 6
Post Story Hour: The Companions of the Vale
The following story hour details the adventures of the group formerly known as the Heroes of Hommlet, and now called the Companions of the Vale. We are currently running Red Hand of Doom, adapted for C&C and set in a strange amalgamation of FR, DL, and Greyhawk.

Chapter 1: Hommlet

Arriving that night, Mathias visited the home of his childhood friend and adventuring companion, Tarquin. Once a poor soldier's son, Tarquin now lived in one of the largest, and perhaps gaudiest mansion in any village of the Vale. Built primarily of stone, with several slender towers and leaded glass windows, le Chateau de Tarquin attested to the vast stolen treasures that had once been secreted away in the Temple of Elemental Evil. Certainly, fame and fortune had not gone to the young warrior's head. No, he was one with the people, the bread of the land, salt of the earth, so to speak.

Mathias rang the bell outside the wrought iron gate and waited. Across the road he saw a stout stone building, dimly illuminated by the near-full moon. To most, it was the local church of St. Cuthbert, but to him it had been home for nearly twenty years. Within those stone walls he had learned to talk, to read and write, of ancient lore and of men long dead. But his most valuable lesson was the teachings of St. Cuthbert, to see with eyes unclouded and open the heart and mind to receive Him and do his work upon the mortal plane. Those were the lessons that carried him through the darkest moments in the Temple, when it seemed the pure evil of that unholy fane would consume him and burn his soul to ash.

The front door opened and a man emerged, enveloped in a thick wool cloak to ward off the chill wind. At first, Mathias thought it was Tarquin, but the man walked as the elderly do, and was clearly not his old friend. The man stopped five paces shy of the gate and eyed Mathias warily.

"Who are you? The master does not meet at this hour. Come back in the morning." the old man croaked.

The master? Ha! Mathias had never heard anyone refer to Tarquin with any greater title than "boy". To think that he had duped a poor old man into calling him "master"!

"I am Mathias of St. Cuthbert, and an old friend, good sir. Wake him if you must, but my news cannot wait till morning."

The old man scowled, appeared ready to refuse, but then turned and ambled back inside the home. Mathias waited, hoping the old man would not make him wait too much longer in the cold. He had ridden all night, his muscles hurt, and his bones ached. It's gonna be a cold winter, he thought drearily. Seemed as if every winter was a little bit colder than the last. Probably because every winter he was a little older than the last, he thought.

The door opened again and a cloaked man strode towards the gate with none of the unsteadiness evident in the old man's step. His cloak was finer, of rich white fur. It draped over shoulders broad and strong, unable to conceal the muscled frame underneath. Tarquin picked up his pace, jogging the last few steps to the iron gate, swung it open, and grasped Mathias in a bear hug. Never was able to restrain himself, in friendship or anger, that one.

Greetings aside, the two old friends hurried back into the manor, to a sitting room with dark wood paneled walls, plush couches, and a roaring fire. Mathias immediately shed his cloak and sat by the fire.

Tarquin poured mead into a couple of crystal glasses, handed one to Mathias. "Everburning. Should be great for the winter, but don't know what I'll do with it come summertime!", Tarquin laughed. Mathias stared into the enchanted flames. They were not as hot as a real fire, probably designed that way so that the rich fop who purchased one would not burn his house down. He sipped his mead slowly, savoring the delicate taste of honey. Hommlet was well-known for its mead, and this bottle was no exception to its quality reputation. Probably a bottle of Joren's Gold, the finest in the Vale.

He watched as Tarquin drained his glass and plopped down on one of the poofy velvet chairs, one leg draped over the armrest. He had to admit, that while he still thought of his friend as a boy, in the eyes of many others he was a warrior of skill and courage. Of course, many others thought him reckless and a bit of a fool. That was their mistake; yes he could be reckless, but he was no fool.

The two friends exchanged the usual pleasantries, but talk soon turned to the matter-at-hand.

"I am on a quest", Mathias stated bluntly. "I must speak with the high priest of Dennovar".

A puzzled look crossed Tarquin's face. "A quest? What are you speaking of?"

"Earlier this night, I was visited by a sending from the high priest of Dennovar. She bade me come see her to discuss an urgent threat".

"Hmm. So when do we leave?"

Mathias smiled at the word "we". Good, he had hoped Tarquin would be willing to join him. "We must leave soon"

"Tomorrow morning then. I will have fresh horses readied and gear packed ..." Tarquin stood, began pacing as he always did when making plans.

"No. Now. I...we...should go now." It was difficult for Mathias to say it. His muscles pleaded for respite, to rest in a warm bed of soft down. He realized he hadn't ridden a horse in a long time, several months at the least.

Tarquin smiled. "Alright. Now it is. Just give me a few moments".

As Tarquin stepped out of the sitting room, Mathias stared into the fire. What am I doing? he wondered. He didn't have any idea what this quest was, of if there truly was a threat. I must trust in my God, he reminded himself. He will show me the path when the time comes.


Sun Jan 06, 2008 7:45 pm
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Skobbit

Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2008 8:00 am
Posts: 6
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Chapter 2: Dennovar

Tarquin noticed his friend's glum look as Mathias emerged from the church. Mathias' conversation with the high priestess had lasted only a few minutes, and left him with more questions than he had before he arrived.

Tarquin tore a chunk of bread and handed it to Mathias. "So, what'd the tea leaves say?". Tarquin never liked divinations - he preferred to think that a person could choose their own destiny.

Mathias sighed. How would he explain it without sounding like a fool or a loon? She spoke to me of a vision...the red hand. That I should go westward, and if I find it, put an end to it"

Tarquin frowned, not knowing what to make of his friend's cryptic riddles. He wondered if Mathias himself knew what he spoke of. "Okay. So what is the red hand and how will we stop it?"

"You've got me. I only know what I told you. But I would not have received this quest had it not been of importance. She advised me to 'gather my allies', that this quest may be too difficult to accomplish alone".

The two walked in silence, although all around them were the noises of a city waking up. Finally, Tarquin spoke.

"You know, Melvinari lives here. Might be useful having a wizard."

Mathias thought on it. "Yeah, it would. Do you know where he is?"

"Some inn called the Oak & Barrel, last I heard".

The Oak & Barrel was not difficult to find, and as expected, Melvinari was there. A former apprentice of the locally famous mage, Burne, the young wizard had spent the last several months in the city of Dennovar continuing his studies of the magical arts. Rarely did a wizard remain in the same town as his master, under whose shadow the wizard would always remain. A city the size of Dennovar, however, had room enough for many wizards.

Convincing him to join them was not easy, as few wizards enjoy long travels, and Melvinari was no exception. After much pleading on Tarquin's part, the young wizard finally relented and agreed to join them on their quest. The three agreed to set forth for Hommlet the following morning. As he expected, the following morning saw Melvinari quickly backtrack on his earlier promise.

"Too late, buddy. The innkeeper has already rented the room out" Tarquin said, gathering various wizardly trinkets and stuffing them into a sack.

Melvinari grabbed the sack from Tarquin's hand. "Careful with those!" "How dare he rent out my room! I paid through the month!" Melvinari glowered, evidently conjuring in his mind a foul curse to lay upon the innkeepers head.

Tarquin smiled as he tossed him a sack of coin. "There's the balance of your payment." "The room has been rented, let's go."

Being a very intelligent man, Melvinari quickly realized that Tarquin must have spoken with the innkeeper and made sure that someone rented the room for the following night. So, I'm that predictable, Melvinari thought.

"Fine." "But don't touch my belongings".

Tarquin began to question if all wizards were so grouchy, but he already knew the answer.


Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:30 am
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