The adventure begins…
We open in the receiving hall of the Drake’s Dragoons guild-house in Meridian, capitol city of the kingdom of Corinthia. Guildmasters and sisters Fiona and Mira Creggan welcome our Heroes as they arrive in the appointed hour, remembering each man or woman as if there had been no time lost between our Heroes’ membership and participation in the Guild, and the present day.
There is the Halfling Wizard LESTER (played by E.G.) – master Conjurer who finds himself down on his luck and in need of gold and a sandwich, in no particular order.
ARXIUS COLE (played by M.H.) – a steely-eyed and capable Fighter.
In addition there was a Fighter so mysterious that he did not really have Feats picked out yet, let alone a name (played by T.D.) And an Acid-based Evocation Wizard (played by T.F.) who was also as-yet nameless, though without a doubt he will reveal his name as something awesome and punny. And we will assume that other Player-Characters were in attendance in ghost-(not-yet-written) form.
On arriving, Lester saw Imperial guards stationed outside the Guild house, and a solid Knowledge : Local check informed him that the Imperial standards displayed on the Guild entrance indicated to other Guilds that important members of the Corinthian government were either presently in attendance, or would soon be on site – and that inter-Guild warfare was forbidden against any Guild house showing the Royal colors for their duration.
As they waited with the Creggan sisters (and while Lester filled his pockets with foodstuffs from a banquet table, prompting a particularly witty NPC to remark, “Hey pal, the Kraken sent word, he’s running out of prawns”), Mira introduced our Heroes to each other. A woman wise to the ways of the world, she was respectful to speak only that of each Character as each Character may wish to have revealed of himself.
Word came – the honored guests were arrived. Noticeably anxious, Fiona and Mira led our Heroes to a private side chamber. Here, waiting, were Imperial guards, and two distinguished men.
The first, pacing and pondering and frequently looking over maps and charts and reports set on a side table by his attendant, was SIR VENDEC, Corinthia’s Lord of War.
The second, seated placidly to the side, was SIR ASHBURNE, Lord of Commerce for all matters of trade and finance for the Kingdom. In contrast to Vendec’s agitated, impatient mood, Ashburne was composed and relaxed, with all the time in the world.
Corinthia’s royal family rules the kingdom through its DECADE OF LORDS, a council of ten ministers who oversee facets of Corinthia’s internal and external operations. Vendec is the supreme commander of the land military (as it pleases the King), and Ashburne is responsible for all trade, commerce, finance, and economic policy (also as it pleases the King).
Vendec begins to speak.
MOONWATCH TOWER, a garrison fortress in the quiet and relatively peaceful northeastern backwater of the Kingdom, has fallen silent. No contact with Moonwatch has been made for almost two weeks. No messengers have come from or returned from Moonwatch, nor have scouts or reconnaissance parties come back with news. Those scouts who came only within sight of the Tower, reported that the four Everburning Torch signal lights at the tower’s peak, were dark.
As Moonwatch is situated in a very quiet part of the kingdom, far from hostile territory and battlefronts against Corinthia’s considerably numerous enemies; concern over this loss of communication is not great. Often used as a site for the rest and relaxation of Companies rotated out of combat zones, and for rear-guard training exercises, Moonwatch Tower’s general lack of strategic value place a correspondingly low urgency upon this situation at hand.
That said, Sir Vendec recognizes that Moonwatch Tower lies too close to the Dwarf Lands of Khör for the Lord of War’s comfort. Sir Vendec does not conceal his contempt for the Dwarfs; it is common knowledge through Corinthia that the Dwarfs of Khör keep their borders secure, thus providing Corinthia a safe eastern flank, yet do not commit themselves or their considerable domestic military to any of ally Corinthia’s campaigns on the western front. Sir Vendec mentions rumours that the Dwarfs have been associating with Fire Giants, possibly by mutual treaty.
At this Sir Ashburne interjects, politely, calmly, in a way that sets himself well at odds with the Lord of War and serves to antagonize Sir Vendec by passive-aggressive kindness. The Lord of Commerce states emphatically that the Dwarfs of Khör are, and remain, valued allies and friends of the Corinthian people, “…even despite that one issue we have between us at present.” Ashburne also dismisses the possibility of fraternization between evil Fire Giants and Khör. Sir Ashburne reminds his esteemed colleague that the Lord of Diplomacy has been in constant contact with the Dwarfs of Khör and reports no change in relations.
Sir Ashburne goes on to state that it is not uncommon for the “fog of war” and poor military efficiency in communication has likely contributed to the loss of contact with Moonwatch Tower. Further, he states, to the growing anger of impatient Sir Vendec, it is entirely possible that the garrison commander at Moonwatch has let his subordinates drink themselves to sleep and that this entire contract is a waste of the Kingdom’s money. Our Heroes will arrive to find everything in order, a lax command structure and a reek of liquor in Moonwatch’s subterranean halls.
Sir Vendec’s restraint is considerable.
Sir Ashburne explains the details of the contract. For accepting the mission, Drake’s Dragoons is paid an immediate sum of 10,000 gold. This is welcome to the cash-strapped Guild but will keep their doors open for perhaps only two more months. The Heroes receive nothing in advance; if they walk away from the contract and Drake’s Dragoons defaults on the assignment, the advanced payment stays but the Dragoons will be blacklisted from Imperial service contracts and thus their Guild is ended.
If it is the very likely case that our Heroes arrive at Moonwatch to find everything in order and communication lost through lax discipline, our Heroes need only report back either the Garrison Commander’s daily Code Word for that day; or if he is unavailable, then the unique identification numbers carved on the inside of each of Moonwatch Tower’s three main gates. Either will suffice as guarantee that the Heroes did indeed verify the state of the Tower. In this case, Drake’s Dragoons will be paid a further 40,000 gold and a pool of 25,000 gold will be made available for the Heroes to divide as payment for their inconvenience.
If, as Sir Vendec suspects, a hostile force has somehow taken Moonwatch Tower, our Heroes are directed to re-take the fortress from the enemy occupants. If our Heroes try and fail – which is to say, half the Heroes are slain in the attempt or only three-quarters of the enemies are slain or the base re-taken before further incursion is impossible – then the Heroes are to report back their attempt. The Guild will then be paid 65,000 gold on top of the down payment, and the surviving Heroes will share in 75,000 gold.
In the final case, where incursion has occurred and the Heroes re-take the fortress, re-light the signal torches in the highest room of the tower, and report back complete success, then Drake’s Dragoons will see payment topping up their take to a half-million gold; and the surviving Heroes may divide 275,000 gold amongst themselves as they see fit.
Time is a factor; Sir Vendec warns that if word has not been received from our Heroes by the end of the 10th day of their mission (Day One starting tomorrow), it will be assumed that Moonwatch Tower has fallen to hostile enemy forces that are currently occupying the fortress and entrenching their position for further invasion of Corinthia. And Vendec will direct a force of his military to siege and destroy Moonwatch rather than let it be a staging ground for an eastern invasion force. Scouts will watch for the signal beacons to be re-lit before midnight on the 10th Day, and our Heroes will be provided with a single-use Silver Raven messenger token, which will send their report back before that deadline.
In addition to the Silver Raven token, Sir Ashburne provides a contingency kit for the Heroes to take with them. This contains two scrolls of True Resurrection; five scrolls of Everburning Torch; four Potions of Cure Serious Wounds; six Potions of Cure Moderate Wounds; and eight Potions of Cure Light Wounds. All these items are marked with a blue-ink Imperial Seal, making their resale illegal in Corinthia. Ashburne advises to use the items sparingly, as the value of consumed items will be deducted from the Heroes’ payout.
The briefing concludes; some questions are answered, and Sir Vendec leaves the instant he is no longer required. Sir Ashburne follows after, when he has concluded minor matters with the Creggan sisters.
When they are gone, and before our Heroes leave to relax for the evening and get underway in the morning, Mira relays some further information. As alluded to by Sir Ashburne in passing, there has been an ongoing issue of contention between Corinthia and Khör.
As perpetual war exists along Corinthia’s western borders, demand for war metals like Iron and Adamantine has seen great demand for these minerals. 80-85% of Corinthia’s metals are imported by trade from Khör, with the balance coming from domestic production and overseas sources. Corinthia’s needs account for over half of Khör’s annual mining production, but in the last six months, the Gnome confederacies east of Khör have increased their demands for minerals and specifically for gems.
This led to the mining-states in Khör to shift prospecting and development away from Corinthia’s needs to a more lucrative trade for magic items and devices from the wealthy Gnomes. Imports have fallen off in Corinthia from Khör, and even as prices rise from demand, the Dwarfs continue to shift their export economy to the valuable commerce of the Gnomes. Corinthia’s new military expenses as a result of this are not known. Mira suggests that the civilian market for those minerals which the military does not immediately buy up, has seen prices rise dramatically. There is concern for the economy, even if no public mention is made for the military campaigns in effect.
Our Heroes consider this as they prepare to depart the next day. Fiona provides them with more supplies, the best and last of the Dragoon’s supply. One scroll of True Resurrection; four Potions of Cure Moderate Wounds; a Potion of Enlarge Person; and a Potion of Reduce Person.