Late Summer, 4785, Evening
The Tarsin Port City of Cartha
At the end of a long summer, many would-be adventurers, heroes, and scoundrels have flocked to Cartha over the rumored discovery of one of the ancient fabled Artifacts. To the finder goes entrance into Jestril society as an Adventurer, and with it the rights to wield steel and spell inside Tarsin borders.
Imagine their dismay as one Bann Forrester, known would-be-brigand and all-around low-life, claims the prize with his discovery of what appears to be an ancient Sphere of dark stone. He and his crew take their sealed scrolls from the Curator of the Cartha Museum and ride towards Jestril before dusk.
Among those watching dejectedly are five whose tale begins this very evening. In the forest surrounding the Temple of Avandra, the eladrin rogue Firrian contemplates what appears to be a lost crossing into the Feywild. The Elders traveling to meet the humans in Jestril would be interested in this discovery, most certainly. Nearby, the elven avenger Laeryth practices clumsily with a sword that appears too large for his frame. Pity any creatures that seeks to claim Elven artifacts for their own in his presence. Lenk, the half-orc warden, ventures into the park as well, seeking commune with nature amongst the cold stone of the city.
Finding no love for the Raven Queen among the humans, the dwarf Khalsig seeks answers among the dwarves working as merchants, and the answers remain sparse. Furtive glances to the east, perhaps along the coast of the Lake of Moons, are the best he can glean from his attempts to locate fellow worshipers.
And last but not least, tales have been heard by many in Cartha of a filthy hermit from the wilds, calling himself Jonn, making quite a nuisance of himself at the Hogshead Tavern.
It is well after dark fall that the bells of the Museum tower ring in alarm. All who remain awake in Cartha look to the center of the city to see the stained glass windows that surround the building burst outward.
With no time to think, creatures begin to appear from the very shadows, vaguely Kobold-like in appearance but with purple flesh and swollen faces. Quick to action, Lenk charges the nearest creature, easily piercing it with his long sword. Before death the creatures face contorts into a rictus grin, and Lenk barely manages to hurl the creature aside before it bursts into a shadowy mist. The mist seems to smoke when it hits stone and grass.
Jonn stumbles from a tavern a mere step ahead from an angry serving wench, just in time to set fire to a shadow creature in the alley ahead. Behind him, the sound of a struggle, as Khalsig battles one of the creatures.
Lenk looks to the Museum just in time to notice a new creature, like the smallish ones but with crooked appendages. It crawls along the walls of the building west of the Museum, seemingly feeling from something. Lenk charges across the square in pursuit, followed closely by Laeryth and Firrian.
The battle continues in an alleyway, as Lenk catches the creature only to have a one-armed thief emerge from a house and grab something from the prone monster. More creature pour out of the house, and during the battle the one-armed man stays in the house. Only when the end is near the thief attempt to make his attempt, but Laeryth is at the window and runs him through.
The thief has nothing on his body but a bag of clearsense powder and 34 gold pieces. While looking for whatever it was he absconded with, Laeryth notices a dark circle on the thief’s back, a wound perhaps, that appears to have seared through his clothes and into his flesh. In the house, no sign of anything stolen can be found; however, a strange dark hole is found under some floorboards, a hole and no bottom and seemingly dug from the ground up.
A guard named Smith, seen battling the shadow creatures at the Museum, approaches the five. The thief, Delman, was one of Bann’s crew, and according to Bann had died while retrieving the artifact; his body lost in a fissure in the cave to the northwest of Cartha. Smith directs the five to the Curator, an elderly man in fine robes who stands at the top the stairs at the museum entrance. Beckoning the newcomers to follow him, he takes them inside. In the center of the main display room stands a darkened pillar. The sphere Artifact, found today by Bann and his men, had been placed on the pillar. By the looks of things, the sphere must have detonated, sending shards of basalt into the walls of the room and shattering the thick glass used to house the other artifacts on display.
Only one artifact was taken. A foot-long cylindrical rod, an inch thick, made of the same basalt stone and polished smooth, is missing. Could this have been the piece the one-armed thief made away with?
A messenger is sent to Jestril on Bann’s heels – the Council must be alerted to the circumstances in which Bann has earned the Grey.
Laeryth wishes to pursue Bann immediately; however The Curator pleads with the five to investigate the Kobold cave to the Northwest where Bann allegedly found the Sphere, and only after securing mounts do they relent. Before leaving town, the high priest of Avandra approaches the group, and asks them to keep an eye out for any sign of Clement, a young priest of the church who has been getting ideas of becoming an adventurer, and who disappeared days before.
Charging into the forest, it is not long before they come upon a small group of kobolds, desperately fleeing from something terrifying. Jonn raises a hand to ignite the poor creatures, but is interrupted as Laeryth steps forward and offers food instead.
The cave nearby is a new one; the kobolds had hoped to create a new home for themselves, but a fortnight ago, something happened that changed everything. Perhaps a dozen kobolds remained in the cave, but these three had managed to flee. “Darkness. Darkness and shadow has taken them. All destroyed. RUN!”