THE EBONFORGE HERALD
Uncompromising Truth for the Adventurous Spirit!
Ebonforge’s New Golden Boy
As our more astute followers from the now-defunct Visionary may know, we at the Herald like to take some time every few weeks to make ourselves familiar with some of the finest, bravest, and handsomest adventurers we can find. Some of you will, no doubt, recall the stories told by the great Aigrad T. Enigma, the self-styled Baron of Mystery, who charmed us all with silver tongue and golden heart. All of you will definitely be pleased to hear that we at the Herald have now found a brave, beautiful scoundrel whose heroic mien and honorable spirit would put even the great baron to shame. That he insists on being treated as nothing more than a humble, friendly merchant is all the more testimony to his future greatness.
Presented below is but one account of Gerard Maitani’s many and marvellous adventures, as given to us by the man himself!
“I was a new arrival in this town when this began, you understand, having made quite a long trip from a certain, near-as-lovely city to the south when I felt it time to move on. Rumors that I departed because a great number of powerful, well-connected patricians placed a price on my head for such crimes as forgery, libel, slander, thievery, and one or two other wholly imaginary misdemeanors are, I assure you, completely false. I had just settled down at a local tavern to speak with a few young adventurers with more gold than sense, hoping to take them under my wing and offer my guidance at a fair discount before one of the more unscrupulous con-men or dishonest merchants then waiting just outside to bleed them dry could do so. Just as we began talking, however, the door of the tavern slammed open, and in walked the orc. He was a ragged, ratty creature, and smelled more like sewage than anything else, but his eyes betrayed a certain nobility of spirit that seemed like a weaker form of my own.
Naturally, I became curious, inviting the man over to my table to speak with me and tell the story of how he had been driven to this sorry state. I won’t bore you with the details of our conversation, but apparently the orc was the former chieftan of the Onubub tribe, defeated by magical trickery and cruel scheming by the beast now calling himself the current chieftan. Farth—that was this orc’s name, you see—was forced into exile, leaving his wife, life, and tribe behind him, with little more than a few coins and the rusty sword at his side. I was moved by his sorrowful tale, and I offered my services to uncover the deception with the aid of the young adventurers I cajoled into assisting me. Having heard of my abilities before, he offered to pay what little he could in advance with greater rewards promised on our success, gave us directions to his tribe’s encampment, and allowed my party to rent our horses and ride off to resolve the issue.
Unfortunately, foul powers—likely those which assisted the false new chieftan in winning his position—dogged our path from the beginning. A pack of wolves, each beast as large or larger than our brave steeds, lept out at us from the shadows to tear one of the finest warriors in our little band—Zigil, a swordsdwarf—from his saddle. Brave though our horses may have been, they were sent into a panic by the sudden assault, rearing and leaving the others sprawled in the dust as they tried to collect themselves and respond to the attack. Fortunately, I was far quicker, leaping from my saddle and rushing to my companion’s aid, fending off three of the fell, slavering creatures with my rapier as I wove a few simple incantations to close the dwarf’s wounds and return him to wakefulness.
That done, I managed to rally the others in a counterattack, and between my own skills and the abilities of my companions we managed to defeat the beasts. I congratulated everyone on a job well done as the ranger Himo skinned the wolves on my request—a good merchant never passes up an opportunity to earn money, after all!–and the frankly terrifying Dr. Charles dealt with the remaining wounds sustained by Zigil and another companion by the name of Edward (a man I found a bit stuffy, myself, and with a woeful temper, though I suppose he was an honorable sort). That done, we moved onward and arrived at the encampment around midday.
Naturally, the locals were quickly charmed by me, and were quite happy to answer my questions. The shaman in particular—the former chief’s wife, as it happened—was quite eager to assist, informing me that the tribe was becoming suspicious of the current chief’s nightly trips into the depths of the dark forest. She gave me a potent wand (which I would later bequeath to one of my more needy companions out of simple good will, and certainly not because they threatened to carve me open if I attempted to sneak away with it) as a gift, and I graciously offered her the furs we had collected in return in return for allowing us to rest at a quaint, unused hovel, to which we would retire that afternoon.
There, while resting and recuperating from our long journey, I planned out our next move. While some of the others wished to risk a trial by arms, I opted instead to follow the chief into the forest. True, theirs was an intriguing idea, but I feared that none of them save myself had even the slightest chance in single combat against the orc and that, even should I triumph, it would not completely resolve the initial issue.
In any event, we moved at dusk, following the orc chieftain as he skulked through the woods with a suspicious bundle held under one arm. It would be nearly two hours, weaving and ducking through branches and brambles near footpaths where few even amongst the orcs dare tread before I would discover what that bundle was.
We came to an old stone circle in the midst of the forest, surrounded on all sides by trees which seemed to whisper with malice. The orc walked to the center where a dusty red altar stone lay, traced with runes dedicated to the praise of a foul, bloodthirsty god. I crept closer with my companions behind me, bile rising in my throat as the orc placed the bundle upon the altar and unwrapped it, horror filling me as I realized what the orc intended.
I leapt as he raised the knife to carve out the babe’s heart, striking the blade from his brutish hands. The chieftain began to turn on me, snarling, only to cower back in fear as I raised my own sword to his throat and bid him be silent lest I inflict upon him the same fate he would have inflicted upon the child. I declared that he would end his cruel sacrifices, that we would escort him back to the tribe to stand trial for his crimes. I watched him hang his head in defeat and follow two of my companions meekly back along the path when they appeared.
A dozen shadowy creatures, flickering malevolently in the light of the moon, surrounded the clearing and seized all of my party save myself and an old-yet-capable warlock with the name of Aleister who had opted to follow quickly after me when I first leapt from hiding. Two of the shadows slithered forward, tittering and chattering in an eldritch tongue, only switching to common when they were satisfied we were caught, grinning at us with eyeless faces, declaring that we would amuse them in a little game and, if we failed, then we and our companions would die.
I stepped forward quickly, accepting their challenge to a game of dragonchess, slowly picking up answers as to what they were as I won round after round. Their true natures frighten even me too much to put to paper, but suffice it to say, they were the beings to which the shrine was dedicated, demanding the worship and subservience of the orc chieftain in return for their favor. They were also fickle, and easily angered, as I found when I defeated them once too often and found myself cast back before they turned to Aleister and challenged him to one more game, this time with all our lives at stake.
It was a close match. Several times I watched in horror as he left exploitable openings which might well have spelled our deaths, but several times I watched him recover and push back, until he managed to corner the shadow in triumph. Unfortunately, it seemed, they were not eager to hold to their end of the bargain on their defeat, flying into a rage and attempting to rend my companions asunder. Fortunately, during the tension of the match, Himo had freed himself from the shadows and launched an assault, buying us enough time to strike back at the shadows and drive them off, then drag the trembling orc back to the encampment.
From there, it was a simple matter to force an announcement, leading to the current chieftain being driven from the tribe and the old chieftain being invited to return in honor while we celebrated our triumph and had a feast thrown in our honor. Upon his return, we were thanked profusely and given our promised reward—I actually had to speak the chieftain down from giving us the entirety of his treasure as too much, even for such a difficult task—and departed from the tribe in friendship before making the long journey back to Ebonforge.
Truly, it was an amazing first outing in the area for Ebonforge’s newest up-and-coming hero. We look forward to seeing more of what Gerard Maitani has in store! If you see him around town, be sure to give him a pat on the back. Slip him a few coins! Buy a few drinks for him and a few small trinkets from him! After that, keep your eye on the paper for his more intriguing tales!
“Angels Might Actually Be Demons,” Says Monk. “No One Is Safe.”
A local monk who wished to remain anonymous claims he spotted an evil solar a day’s ride from Ebonforge, wandering around a destroyed town housing a now-derelict and desecrated temple used by a local evil cult. This solar, he warns, is perfectly capable of killing and/or eating any individual that crosses its path. The monk failed to provide comment when asked why he believed the solar would wish to do such a thing, and attempts to get him to clarify the comment about it being a demon resulted only in him waving his hands and making loud exclamations about “Doom!” and “Evil!” The Herald will follow this story as it develops, if it develops.
Love and Nightmares – A Magical Afterparty
The recent party thrown by local mage Vail was a roaring success, despite a few minor incidents as the night went on, and the remaining confectionaries are still selling well in the days after (seriously, people, buy some if you didn’t get a chance to try one! You won’t regret it!). But what happened after most of the guests went home? According to one member of new adventuring group CASTE+1, it was a bit more than tidying up a few tables and wrapping up the leftovers.
“The request itself was fairly simple,” said Cernan Fars, beneficiary of local beauty and talented adventuress Radelia Sandaen, whose name comes first in the band’s acronym and is therefore probably the leader. “Find an unwanted guest who was stealing from a local man’s wine cellar, and remove him from the premises.”
Unfortunately for CASTE, it would prove a bit more difficult than that. After a few mishaps “involving a newt, a weasel, a… …trick performed by myself and a marching band,” none of which Cernan was willing to explain in more detail, they discovered that the culprit was, in fact, “a Satyr. One of the Fey, for your less travelled readers… The poor creature had been drowning his sorrows due to a spat with a significant other.”
CASTE+1 decided to assist the satyr, “being the protectors of love and beauty in all its forms,” in order to convince it to stop stealing liquor and return home. So they followed the satyr deeper into the maze, learning that the lover was another form of Fey; she was a dryad, to be specific. “…After what can only be described as a “heated” negotiation,” Cernan said, with an eyebrow waggle, briefly mentioning the efforts of his party fellow Tolon in particular, “we managed to reconcile the couple.”
Unfortunately, it seemed that their work was not done yet, as the dryad had been forced out of her home by some bizarre monster as well, and the adventuring group made off to resolve the issue for good at the dryad’s old grove, arriving there prepared to fight. They “battled a creature that can only be described as a nightmare… It spewed blinding oil and chattered endlessly… the sound alone could drive a man insane.” Fortunately, the band managed to triumph over this hideous creature, restore Fey to their old home, and resolve “our clients’ issue… with minimal bloodshed.”
No news is yet available on whether or when Vail will throw his next party, but as we’re sure CASTE agrees, a few lovers’ quarrels and battles against hideous nightmare beasts will be more than worth it.
Ebonforge’s own Lady Radelia Sandaen has officially become the patron of up and coming entertainer and adventurer, Cernan Fars.
Evil cult officially mourning priest. Wake held on weekend.
Prices for bullete parts crash as market flooded with monster blood, viscera.
Ebonforge Herald seeks investors. All interested parties contact Gerard at the Scale and Staff.
Tolon Lankas, Gnome, 240. Eaten by a bulette.
Zigil Bali, Dwarf, 75. Eaten by a bulette.
Hrafn Ulfhedinson, Human, 28?. Eaten by a bulette.
Himo, Elf, ???. Eaten and vomited out by a bulette.
Dewen, Human, ???. Beaten by a monk.
Tolon Lankas, Gnome, 240. Resurrected by local dragonborn dreamboat, Semir.
Zigil Bali, Dwarf, 75. Semir again.
Hrafn Ulfhedinson, Human, 28?. Guess who?
Himo, Elf, ???. Olivia, actually.