Every tale has a beginning…
A dark shadow begins to creep along the land. Slowly at first, it begins to the north in the white mountains at the top of the world.
Down it comes. Through Sharidar, home of the proud Northmen, always vigilant against the foul creatures they share their land with.
You see the shadow overtake Gontal, and the Free Isles. Still further it creeps. Crossing Aridan, land of the High King.
To the east it engulfs Glenfaddich, land of the Elves.
Down., farther through proud Calaran
Still further it stretches ou. t through decadent Themul, covering her great legions.
Into the Great Waste it goes, swiftly engulfing the vast desert where no man has gone and returned alive.
Without warning, your perspective changes. You are above the whole world. You can see this dark shadow spreading across the lands. For the first time you can make out the shadow. It is a hand, grasping the all o fDoman . With deliberate ease, the hand begins to clench… destroying all before you.
From somewhere you hear a deep, mocking laughter.
You open your eyes and find yourself lying on a cold, stone floor. As your eyes adjust to the dim light you realize that you are in a circular stone room. You hear stirring nearby and realize that you are not the only one lying on the floor here. Your head aches and your nerves are raw, the hair on your arms and the back of your neck seem to be standing on end. You can’t help but ask yourself,
“How did I get here?”
The party awakes with no memory of how they got in this room. In the center of the room is a pedestal and in each of their hands is a small crystal. Argent also has a gaudy, diamond-shaped earing in his other hand. The symbol on it is oddly familar.
Once outside they realize that they are in the Hermit’s Hatch, a ruin that no one has ever been able to enter. The earing Argent has appears to be a key to the Hatch. He has no idea how he got it. By checking the tracks leading up to the hatch they realize that the four of them were the only people to enter. Not knowing what else to do, they head back to the village and the Summer Festival.
They encounter Logan and the Dexors twins, Youk and Pap by the east bridge. The twins block their passage over the bridge and upset Winter enough that she punches Youk. Before the fight can escalate, Logan inexplicably ends the fight and lets the party cross the bridge.
They encounter Lavant, Argent’s father in the village… he has a very high voice. Lavant tells them that the Halflings just left the village. Kirin comes up and makes an ass of himself. Winter notices Logan watching the exchange. The party goes to their homes and prepares for the Summer Festival.
At the Festival, Levant allows Winter, Argent and Arturus to have a beer, the boys partake. Zeph watches from the outskirts in animal form. Argent gets a little drunk and dances on the statue of Penrod Telden. He does an impressive flip off the statue and sticks it perfectly earning him much praise from the revelers. Finally they are made adults and given their new professions: Logan = Drover. Arturus = Trapper. Argent = Lumber Miller. Winter = Weaver. Friar Edgar reads a letter that Zeph has written and scolds the village for treating Zeph so poorly. The Council make Zeph and adult and Edgar asks him to become his acolyte. Kirin makes an ass of himself again and Zeph changes into a bear and literally scares the piss out of the obnoxious river drover. As the Festival resumes, Logan asks Winter to gather the party and meet him by the East Bridge.
At the bridge, Logan apologizes for being too much like his father and he promises to try and be a better person. He tells Winter that he plans to marry her some day. He is suddenly, and perhaps heavy handedly, killed by a band of Red Goblins who storm out of the forest and attack the party. Before they can close, the party feel severe pain in their chests and they experience a… vision… memory… hallucination? When they come too, they realize that they now have special abilities. They use these abilities to easily defeat the Red Goblins. They gather up the body of Logan and one of the Goblins and hurry back to the Festival.
Once there, they explain what happened to the people of Pinewood. Apparently one of the Goblins wasn’t quite dead yet because it appears and tries to attack the Festival. It is engulfed in a fireball sent by, what a surprise, a Magi. She tells everyone to go to their homes and then orders both the Council and the party to come to the Slug and Lettuce.
At the Slug, Melaine Ameron tells the party that they must come with her to the Academy of Arlen, which is all the way in Themul. She’s not very nice, but she does allow them five minutes to say goodbye to their family… at least the ones who are on the council.
As they prepare to leave, Kirin Stone comes up and threatens the party. For some odd reason he blames them for the death of his son. Melaine threatens to turn him into a toad. He leaves but, quite stereotypically, vows to get revenge on the party. After a brief conversation with the party Melaine discovers that the Goblins probably came from the Hermit’s Hatch. She apparently decides that this is a bad thing and insists the party take her to the Hatch.
Once there, she has the party search the circular room. Argent touches a particular symbol on the wall and it gives way to what Melaine mysteriously calls the Builder’s Workshop. It is a veritable armory with every type of weapon and armor imaginable. Also in the workshop are copies of the Grimoire and Codex. Melaine is dissapointed to discover that they are normal copies of the books and explains to the party how certain Rituals have stopped working. She tells the party to “gear up” and scouts on ahead. After the party has chosen their weapons, Argent notices a slot in the strange, bowless crossbow he has picked up. He inserts the crystal he found into the slot and the weapon bonds itself to him. The rest of the party does the same with their chosen weapons just in time for Melaine gets thrown into the room by a group of Bugbears who do not look happy…