The Great Power

Annacks Asks for Assistance

Welcome to the Temple of Pelor, though I wish it could have been easy for you. I am Annacks, patriarch of our order and head of the Royal Council of Atlas. Of course you have met my noble assistant, Devlin…

Words alone cannot express my joy and relief at your coming. I have summoned you here because this land faces its worst crisis since the time before the High Kings. In fact, as a realm we stand on the brink of destruction. The forces of chaos assail us from without and within, and there is but one solution to our woes: the return of the High King with the lost Sorona Crown upon his head.

As I understand it you have been out of touch with events and information does not travel as it did in better times so let me explain our situation. Atlas is a kingdom without a king and this is the root of our trouble. Over twenty years ago the last High King, Maramet, disappeared while leading a war band against the Orc hordes on our northern frontier. Even though the King’s men were successful in driving them back, I have no doubt the king perished in this sortie, although his body has never been found. Alas, the great Sorona Crown was also lost at the time, for Maramet always wore the mystical circlet of sovereignty.

Recently, the king’s son and heir, Thendel was killed during the ill-fated counterattack against the Orc laying siege to the castle. With most of our castle guard killed, the Orcs marched in and took most of the city from us. Some sections have remained and we continue to fight but most live under the heel of the Orcs now. That was almost a year ago. Oh how the fates have conspired against us! In a single generation we have lost the king, the crown, the heir and our capital.

Since that time we on the royal council have tried to govern as best we could in the monarch’s stead. I am loath to admit that we have failed, for the country is falling into anarchy. The individual nobles have no one stand behind and are only concerned with self-preservation. A kingdom must have a king! Only with a king can all of the people of Atlas be reunited in fighting off these invaders.

And now I will confide in you something that no man knows, save myself. A rightful heir to throne yet lives. His name is, or was, Tenitar, and he is Thendel’s twin brother. And here lies a tale of folly and woe, for which I take a good measure of responsibility.

Some 25 years ago Maramet’s Queen gave birth to twin boys. For many folk this would be a joyous occasion but for the royal house of Atlas it was a bane. The dilemma was obvious to the King and me. Which of these princes would rule when the time came? We both saw civil war in our country’s future, for how could one prince defer to the other in the matter of succession? True, there was separation within the kingdom anyway but there was no war because of it but that is another matter and not one we could have foreseen. When the Queen died tragically died soon after the birth we knew what had to be done.

As the youngest by a matter of minutes, Tenitar was given into the care of a midwife who spirited him away in the night. Neither the king nor I had any idea where the child was taken and we thought it wisely done in this fashion. If ever Tenitar was to be sought out, we trusted to the magics of the Sorona Crown to locate him. Thus it was that we depriced the babe of his birthright. Now this injustice was exacted its toll.

I believe that Tenitar is still alive, most likely somewhere in Atlas. But we must recover the Sorona if we are to find him, for the Crown of the Sun has the power to locate the lawful heir to the realm. Furthermore, this future king and the crown are inexorably linked. We must have the king and the king must have the crown if he is to be recognized as the lawful monarch.

The quest for the Sorona will take you north, quite possibly beyond the borders of Atlas itself. Maramet was last seen riding north and west into the Heidann Freeholds in hot pursuit of Orc raiders. This northern sojourn will take you by way of the Stones of Sky, a mystical place of standing stones and a shrine for pilgrims. Our lore holds that the first High King received the Sorona here as a gift from the gods. And the first Patriach of Pelor, the noble Haymin, placed the crown upon his head here at the Cathedral before all the assembled nobility of the land. The Sorona shone like the sun upon the head of King Gendar.

I deem that you should begin your quest at the stones. You may receive some insight here concerning the lost crown and the lost king. I can see that your spirit are noble and you may succeed where others have failed, for to date many have sought in vain for the Sorona.

I warn you though, our northern reaches have become wild and unruly of late, and what reports we still receive show of constant Orc patrols. Without the High King to unite us, I fear we will perish from without even if we do not collapse from within.

With this commission I have appealed to your honor, but we are also prepared to reward you in the material. If you are successful, we will reward you with a barony in our realm, and such honors, lands and incomes thereof. There will belong to you and your heirs in perpetuity. Do you accept this responsibility?

Excellent. It has been years since I have traveled along the northern trade routes so there not much I can tell you that would be current but what I know is this. The best way of travel would be along the main road to Darien. The Stones of the Sky are just a few days ride north from there through the Heidom Freeholds. Beware, for the Count of Darien, Lars Longfellow is a scoundrel. He has shown utter contempt for the High King’s law and their obligations of fealty since the monarch disappeared long ago. He was only kept in check by the King’s Army but when it left for the eastern sea he has grown increasing bold. We have not the resources to deal with him currently and things would be worse if it were not for the continued support and aid of the former High King’s cousin, Baron Vana Cullen of the western wastelands. He has shouldered a good deal of the responsibility for the western and northern regions of the kingdom. The state of our kingdom would be in poor standing if he were not such a generous man in his aid. I have even heard mention of some that think he should be crowned High King because of his strength and blood but they do not know of the remaining heir. If you have no further questions, would you care to join me and my fellow brethren for dinner?

How does the crown work?

I am afraid that I do not know the answer to that question. In truth, the magical circlet has never been in the possession of anyone other than the lawful king. On the other hand, I am positive that the crown will help such lawful people as yourselves in your search for the heir. Trust to the powers of the great circlet – its purpose is the same as your own.

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A Shadowy Threat

A pair of glowing red eyes gleams from a dark corner of the room. A soft hissing voice oozes from the darkness:

“You’ve been making quite a name for yourself around here. Let me introduce myself. I am Lord Leotek, eldest of the five rulers of old and first-born to the Great One himself. Before you waste your time and mine with your blabbering I know that you have come here to stop me and that you very well may be able to do so. I am wise enough to know that I may not be able to kill you, face-to-face. I know my limits. However, I do know that I can escape from you now and you won’t be able to find me. And after that, I can kill more people. But this time, it will be people you know: barony staff, family, friends, maybe even children. But there is a way for you to prevent this from happening. Leave me to my task here and go your own way. It is the only way to save the people you love. Besides, I’ve arranged a present for you at home. Better hurry if you’re going to make it in time to save them.”

You lunge forward with a murderous intent but the voice has already faded into the blackness.

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An Unexpected Stop

The entire party was dropped unceremoniously onto the ground in the middle of a large field filled with the smell of ozone and burning hair. It takes only a moment for you to realize that this is not your intended destination. Crackling bolts of lightning mark the sky in the form of a large star. This is no ordinary lightening.

The electrical field emanates from five large metal poles arranged in a wide circle across the field. What looks to be water wheels are attached to the poles by some sort of crude wooden structure. But instead of water turning the wheels, the loud clanking mechanisms are moved by goblins running along the inside of the wheel, driven by the meanest of the bunch armed with whips. And speaking of goblins, there are lots and lots of them all over the field. By the looks (and smell) of their camp you can guess that they have been here a while. Luckily, the noise of all these creatures combined with the clattering of machinery has masked your fall so that none of them have noticed your unexpected entrance yet. However, there is someone here that has noticed your arrival. In fact, it appears he was expecting you.

A man of at least twice your height stands patiently before you, a wicked looking broadsword strapped to his back. His skin is the color of stone and blends in with the plates of armor that cover his body. Blood red eyes gleam out from the slits in his helmet. This was no accident, but a trap purposefully arrange by none other than The Warrior, eldest of the Great Power’s children.

“I’ve been waiting for you.”

His words roll out with like a boulder crashing down a hill. The background noise of goblins pauses for a moment, as all of them notice you for the first time. Even the lightening seems to hang in the air, waiting for someone to make the first move.

The pause is broken when a particularly ugly goblin begins jumping up and down, screaming what you can only guess are curses in your direction. The entire throng of goblins spring to life in a rush of sound as armor is donned and weapons are drawn. Even the task masters driving the wheels increase their beat. Prepared or not, the horde is coming for you.

As they horde charges towards you, a spell is attempted. But as you gather the familiar power around you to be shaped into your spell, the hair on the back of your neck rises. A crackling bolt of lightning splits from the grid above you and strikes the magic itself. The blow knocks you off your feet and the power is lost to the void.

You have just enough time to dust yourself off before the first goblins reach you. You kill the goblins in the first wave, giving you enough time to try another spell. Bracing for a bolt, you once again gather the power around you but this time no lightning bolt. Instead the magic wraps you in a protective shield, just as expected. So it doesn’t catch all the spells, you realize; typical goblins craftsmanship. It won’t be easy, but between a wizard and the sorcerer there should be just enough time to knock out those wheels before the situation turns ugly.

A familiar fireball forms at your fingertips and you quickly fling it towards the nearest wheel before the lighting can find you. The fireball strikes the wheel dead on in a fiery explosion that tosses wood and goblin parts everywhere. Your companion is not so lucky and she shrieks as bolt strikes her down. Only four more to go you think. Only four more to go, what could possibly go wrong?

About this time, a few select goblins hurl glass vials filled with acid, flammable liquids, hardening slime, slippery oil and even urine, creating a chaos affecting friend and foe alike. The battle turns into a whirlwind of exploding vials, dying goblins, lightning bolts and explosive spells. Finally the goblins back off, leaving you smoking, out of breath and covered in things you‘d rather not think about amidst the rubble of the five wheels. With the dissipation of the lightening field, the situation is finally looking to turn in your favor. At least it would have except for The Warrior. How had you forgotten him? He had not moved the entire time you had fought the goblins. If he hadn’t spoken when you first arrived you might have mistaken him for a statue.

“My turn.”

With a flick of his wrist, the massive sword was out of its sheath and arcing towards you with a speed that catches you off guard; you didn’t even see him move. Cariejust manages to catch the mighty blow in mid-swing. The force of the blow almost knocks her off her feet. She has just barely enough time to bring the sword to bear on his follow-up attack. The two swords meet with a sickening crack and a spider web of fractures radiates across Carie’s blade. This time she is knocked to the ground, the sword held in a guard position only by instinct. Again the giant hammers Cariewith a tremendous blow. Pieces of the sword scatter everywhere as the blade shatter and Carieis left holding only a broken hilt. A mighty backhand sends her flying and in the same movement sweeps his blade across your midsection.

You slip back into consciousness, the pain of your healed wounds still a dull ache despite the magic that kept you alive. The last thing you remember was his sword, huge and dangerously fast, coming toward you. The power hadn’t gathered fast enough and the blade sliced through flesh, bone, and enchantments alike. Through sheer force of will you had managed to hold onto your spell before slipping into the darkness. Judging by the pile of dust next to the sword (and the fact that you’re still alive), you’d guess the spell was successful.

Goblins flee the area in droves as the small fires started by the battle spread across the field, fueled by the burning pyres of goblin technology. Smoke clogs the once clean air and darkens the sky. If you don’t leave soon, you’ll soon be cooked alive.

As you gather quickly gather up fallen equipment and supplies, you notice that all the goblins’ equipment bears the seal of the Iron Ring. You can feel the heat of the flames as the blaze continues to spread. There isn’t any more time; you have to leave now. Your companions quickly gather inside your sphere of influence. Drawing your power into familiar patterns you initiate the teleport home. Hopefully, you’ll actually end up there this time.

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