Shattered Star

The Adventure So Far
Or, A Brief Introduction to Kassen (11th Neth, 4710)

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In an area hemmed in by the orcs of Belkzen, the undead of Ustalav, and the primal dangers of the Fangwood itself, a place was needed for those with money to cross the river safely. Ekat Kassen, after his service in the Lastwall military searched for fortune and adventure. And adventure and fortune did he find in abundance. Using his wealth, he tamed a region upon the banks of the Taroundel River, providing a natural stopover for traverelers upon land and water. And thus, Kassen’s Hold prospered.

All that changed when an old “friend” returned a decade later. Kassen’s one-time traveling companion, Asar Vergas, came to town with a mercenary band, convinced the founder had cheated him out of some fortune. He raided the town for months, before his camp was located within an ancient crypt. Kassen and a few followers marched out to meet the menace… Only two returned, one of whom was Kassen, carried by the other. His bearer described the battle as ferocious and bloody, with Kassen personally slaying Asar and single-handedly scattering his mercenary band… At the cost of a mortal wound. The hero died two days later, on the 11th day of Neth, 4535. Kassen was interred in a place of honor within the crypt he cleansed, with the mercenaries, the townsfolk and Asar himself placed in simple sarcophagi within. And so they’ve all rested, with the eternal flame above Kassen’s tomb illuminating the crypt for eternity…

175 years have passed, and The Crypt of the Everflame has become an important part of Kassen’s history. Now a memorial to the villagers who gave their lives to ensure peace for further generations, a tradition has formed. Every autumn, a group makes a pilgrimage to the Everflame, taking some of Kassen’s flame within a sacred lantern which will stay lit the entire winter; a symbol of the town’s resilience. Most years it is the mayor and dignitaries that perform the task, though on occasion the mayor decides that a younger group of “heroes” shall be given the sacred duty, as a coming of age ritual for the youth.

The town of Kassen is little more than a hamlet, a collection of small homes and camps that dot the perimeter of the Fangwood. However, the town embodies the Nirmathan ideas of standing up for one’s neighbor and one’s ground as well. It’s not a metropolis by any means, but Kassen does host a two-story inn and tavern known as Seven Silvers, if you’re seeking conversation and good brew, though the owner has been of a somber disposition of late due to the passing of his wife and infant son. If a new sword is needed, or an axe needs sharpening, Renet’s Steel can’t be beat for price and time, but the dwarf Braggar is a true artist, his works being of a quality above anything put out by Renet.

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Hometown Heroes I
The Beginning of Something New!

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On the third of Neth, each member of the party is approached by their mentor in private. Zakkariak tells his hot-headed student Bart that it’s time to prove himself a true Thundershot; rakis Jove informs Asphodel that he’s cutting her free; caring Iolanthe informs Lisianthus that she’s put her dearest friend’s daughter up for an important ceremony; and the ominous White Annis tells Solenzara that if she were to participate, she’d find something “most interesting” within the tomb.

So our curious heroes find themselves arriving in the town square of Kassen as the church bell tolls a mournful call. Villagers, dressed for mourning, slowly fill the square as the mayor laments of the chill of winter and its encroaching upon the town. “Who will be the heroes that stood as Kassen did, so many years ago?!” he called. As if summoned by the divine call, Bart strides forward, flicking the brim of his cap with a confident smirk. Asphodel and Sia are steps behind, and the fourth arrives soon after, cloaked in grey with a hawk upon her shoulder. The mayor offers forth the sacred lantern and points to the south, telling the heroes that they are to return with Ekat Kassen’s eternal flame, kept within the crypt within the Serpent’s Gorge. The four make their way south, leaving as villagers offer mournful goodbyes.

The journey is quiet for a few hours, until three savage orcs appear, their tusks jutting from their jaw and foul oaths harshly falling from their mouths. Bart wings one with his crossbow, but it’s Zara who sees through the illusion, realizing that the orcs before them are nothing more than a trick of the mind. As the images fade, the scent of licorice and tobacco suffuse the air, before being carried away on the breeze. Recognizing the scent as that of White Annis, Zara smirks before the party continues southward

That first evening is a harrowing one. Cold winds blow through the thicketed camp, and the branches overhead dance in a manic way. As the party cooks their evening meal, a wolf’s howl can be heard in the distance. Soon after, a wolf can be seen on the perimeter of camp. Luckily, Sia works her druidic magic, allowing her to converse with the beast. The emaciated creature explains that hunting has been rough the past few months, as they had been driven from their hunting grounds. In a compassionate gesture, the party shares their evening meal with the wolf and his two brothers. After eating, the trio wanders into the woods once more, allowing the party a well-deserved rest.

The following morning is grey and rainy, the drizzle oppressive as the party continues their journey. Coming upon the Grey Lake, the group comes across a human body upon the shore. His clothing suggests he hails from somewhere outside of Kassen, as none recognize him. Clearly, he had run afoul of the lake serpent, as the bites surely attest. Lightening the dead man’s purse and liberating his sword, the quartet makes their way to the Serpent’s Gorge.

Slowly and carefully sliding down the steep wall of the gorge, the party found themselves at the entrance to the Crypt of the Everflame. Curiously enough, the double doors to the Crypt were already left ajar… and five slaughtered animals lay outside, tethered to stakes driven into the ground. Beneath one of the horses was a set of ancient bones, but the kills were fresh, within the past week at most. Just what could have done that? What of the man found on the edge of the lake? And just what lies within the caverns of the Crypt of the Everflame? Find out next time!

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