A VILLAGE CLOSE TO EVERMOORE
The Village Elder gathered the children around him and began to speak in a low whisper that made the children tremble with fright.
“October is when the veil between the living and the dead . . . the past and the present . . . is at its thinnest. It is a time of haunting . . . and a time of horror. . . . Only the brave come to Evermoore near the end of October. Evermoore, children, is the haunted heart of this world . . .”
“Why?” asked the Children, even though many of them knew the reason, for their village elder told these stories every year.
“The Crystal City of Evermoore was sacked by the Orcs, Klactons, and Pythians during the bloody month of October,” whispered the old man. “The world remembers the Fall of Evermoore as a festering wound of evil that has never healed. We live in the Valley of Rainbows . . . close to the Inn at Evermoore. More blood has soaked into that ground than any other place within this realm.”
“Tell us the stories,” cried the Children.
The old man’s voice was low. “There was a Warder who blasphemed the teaching of Natallis by joining his soul with the primal essence of a wolf.” The children shrunk away in terror as he continued. “It was during the dark days following the Fall of Evermoore that the Warder, grieving for the destruction of the Five and the end of the Dream of Peace, began his own war against the Orcs, Klactons and Pythians.”
“In a bloody rite so foul and evil, this wayward warder merged himself with a wolf and became a demon of vengeance. He would rage through the countryside surrounded by packs of snarling wolves and kill all who did not worship the Five. He was eventually hunted down and killed, but as he died he swore to return on the anniversary of the Fall of Evermoore to kill all those not following the Way of the Five.”
“And every fall, when the leaves turn golden-red and the chill winds begin to blow, his spirit reforms into the cursed demonic essence that terrorizes the lands around Evemoore until it is killed by Guildsmen.”
“Some say you can survive the encounter by holding up the symbol of the five and speaking their names in reverence and faith. Others tell that the Wolf-Warder can see into your heart and knows if you truly follow the Way of the Five. The Wolf-Warder knows if you follow the tenants of balance, harmony, freedom, law, and love.”
“What happened if you don’t live that way?”
“Then,” said the old man with a bit of melodrama, “Then, the Wolf-Warder eats you alive.”
The children cried in mock terror and then demanded, “Tell us another story.”
“Do you want to hear the story about why the goblins hang pumpkins in the trees? Or the story about why so many scarecrows come to life around Evermoore?”
“Both!” cried the children. “Please, please. Tell us both stories.”
PLAYER PROLOGUE Roulette, Played by Nick Gish, Melissa Buccine, Gabriella Kenny, Matthew Miller, Kathleen Burns, James Thompson
Ridge Creek Village, SOMEWHERE IN THE WESTERN FORLORN MOUNTAINS
Dawn broke over a Ridge Creek village, a small farming town in the mountainside. As the sun continued to rise the voices of the villagers could be heard as people began getting ready to work for the day. It was a quiet morning and far from the hustle and bustle of big towns like Evermoore. Tradesmen were a rare sight in this tiny community. But they had been graced with a special guest during last evening.
Slowly the glowing form of an Avatar roused themselves as the morning sun shone uncomfortably in their eyes. Begrudgingly, the figure grabbed the sheets to slip out of the comfortable bed and began to dress for the day, strapping on their weapons as quietly as they could. They left behind the sleepy commoner who was content to rest a while longer after an exciting night or perhaps someone who had been kind enough to grant them shelter for the night. The Avatar decided to let the commoner rest a while longer.
As the morning continued the Avatar walked through the village, weapons strapped to their back, ignoring the looks of fear and admiration gracing the faces of those they met. Whispers filled the air of comedy pawns being in the area.
“Please, please, sir Roulette.” Cried a small Beard’on woman with reddish brown hair running up to their glowing, white robed form. “There are some Comedy pawns along the edge of town and they have taken my son!”
A somber nod was given, “Nothing to worry about. Guildhall’s justice will be swift and merciless.”
Once Roulette gathered as much information about where the child was last seen from the mother, they left the village proper to head into the woods. They investigated around and found several tracks of a larger being and a smaller being dragged behind them. Now that they had a direction, quickly they went deeper into the woods, practically sprinting towards the sound of jingling and giggling.
“Now, now, don’t be a spoiled sport,” said the high pitched voice of a jingly hatted man in a blue sequined domino mask. He was dragging a sobbing Beard’on behind him by this beard. “You’re going to serve a higher purpose. You should be honored.”
“What do you think you are doing?” growled Roulette, their hand gripping the sword and rage increasing the fire in their eyes.
The pawn straightened up, but the grin never left his face. “Doing a gods’ work, I swear.” He said, saluting the glowing form with one hand while holding on to the child with his off hand.
“Let him go and we’ll give you a merciful death.” The Avatar advanced forward slowly, steadily.
“Now, now don’t do anything stupid.” The pawn said, pulling the child forward. He met Roulette’s eyes as he grabbed the dagger on his belt. He yanked the child up against him to hold a knife to his throat.
The child’s eyes were wide and terrified as the blade pressed against the delicate skin of their neck. When the avatar continued to step forward with their measured pace, the pawn pulled the child closer to them and a thin line of blood appeared as the knife pressed a little firmer against it.
Roulette stopped moving and stood a few feet away from the pawn. Their glowing presence lit up the trees around them, but the glow in their eyes when they focused on the pawn seemed to brighten.
“I won’t,” said the god.
Roulette reached behind them to a hidden knife and flung it with deadly force. In a less skilled hand the knife would have fallen flat, but this was no mere mortal man throwing the knife- the blade found its home between the pawn’s eyes.
The pawn slumped down dead behind the child, the domino mask split apart where the knife hit.
Roulette stood still as the frightened child backed away from the form of the living god. A look of kindness and pity entered into their eyes.
“Go on. Get yourself back to your mother. She’s worried sick about you.”
The child looked at the bloody corpse of the pawn once more before running with all speed back home.
“Now everybody!” The Avatar said to the spirits that danced around their head, “We have more Comedy to hunt. They will not terrorize anyone else if the god of justice has anything to do with it!”
LOCATION: A chapel in the guildhall compound
Brothers and sisters of Guildhall that had turned their back on their oath gathered in a small chapel in the compound. They had found a quicker method to mastery. They worshiped a different being. A described “Dark God” that siphoned power from other religions with deception, secrecy, treachery. The leader projected its thoughts and plans into their heads via remote rituals. The shadowed form never dropped its rituals of disguise and mask. The war against Shivakas was going well. The war against Guildhall was going well. D’khar would be most pleased once it was roused from its slumber. Soon D’khar’s writing form would plague the world. Soon the Cult would have enough power to make its move. Soon Evermoore would belong to its true owner.
The hidden cultists moved back to their families, guilds, and jobs. They waited for the signal to strike.
LOCATION: A Village in the Forlorne Mountains
Hallow was a small village that had been recently established. The town was established in the dangerous and ever-shifting Forlorne Mountains. The village found its economy in trapping. Every day was a new environment and new hunt. Every day gave rare pelts and different plants: rhino hides, seal pelts, crocodile hides, mammoth pelts, fresh ice, clay, drake scales, and beetle shells. Though commoners often had difficulty with taking down dangerous arcane animals and plants, snares and traps made quick work of the dangerous beasts. Traders, wagoners, and trappers would move into the village to buy and sell goods then move on.
At night, the village would shift into a new life. Gaseous domains of sleep would fill the innkeeper’s rooms. Guests in the village were kept unaware of its true nature. The villagers would move outside and don their cultist attire: purple hoods and religious symbols marked with the pattern of a cobra’s hood. The Cult of Shivakas would then conduct their espionage and warfare on Guildhall. Those that had infiltrated the compound would have their contacts relay information to the village. New information was sent to the infiltrators to further usurp Guildhall’s hold on the Evermoore area.
At the smallest house in the village, where the supposed “village idiot” lived, the leader of the cult had laid out his plans and belongings. Phage walked to the village square every evening followed by a massive snake, and held a sermon for his deity. Shivakas was a winged massive monstrosity that searched for entry into the Realm of the Five. Occasionally, the cultists would capture a Guildsman to cut their heart out and devour it to gain power.
Normally, Phage was calm, collected, and emotionless. As of late Phage was distraught and full of rage. Another cult had infiltrated Guildhall as well. What should have been an easy victory became a complicated three way battle between the Cult of D’Khar, Guildhall, and the Cult of Shivakas.
THE EAST COAST OF SHORIA
Alone with his thoughts, Philosopher Po sat on a bench in the meditation garden, feeling every year of his long life. The fall flowers bloomed red, their color almost matching the slippers he wore on his feet. A gentle breeze blew the leaves that were just starting to turn brown. The air was crisp and cool, and the sun was warm on his aging skin. Off in the distance he could hear the faint rolling of the ocean surf and the squawk of sea birds. Life was so peaceful here in Shoria away from the hustle and bustle of the Isle of Lore.
“Venerable One,” spoke a young lad wearing the livery of a messenger of the Temple of the Mournful Sparrow. “A letter has come to you from Guildhall.”
Po sighed, reaching his thin fingered hand out to take the letter. He carefully broke the wax seal and began reading, while the lad stood fidgeting.
Po lowered the letter. “Do you need something?”
“I was wondering if the rumors were true?”
“What rumors are those?” Po asked, kindly.
“Were you really a Wizard Loremaster of Guildhall and did you truly sit on the Council of Lore?” The boy’s eyes were wide with wonder.
“Yes,” replied Po, “To both of your questions, but that was a long time ago. More than twenty years. In fact, the last vote I ever made as a member of that esteemed Council of Lore was the vote to reopen the Inn at Evermoore.”
“That was 997 of the Age of Order,” gasped the boy.
“You know your history well,” Po said.
“I have to know history, because history is an endlessly repeating cycle,” spoke the boy, obviously remembering his many lectures by the priests of the temple. “Each generation will make the same hurtful actions as the previous generation, over and over, shattering lives, breaking friendships, and eventually tearing the world apart in war and strife. The only way we can avoid repeating the actions is to learn from our past and break the cycle. With wisdom and understanding, we can forge a new history of growth and prosperity.”
“Well said, young man,” spoke Po. Then his voice drifted off, as old men often do. “Al’tar Shariz of the Cleric’s Guild used the exact same argument to convince the Loremasters to reopen the Inn at Evermoore. He insisted that we must embrace our past to better our future. I can still remember him standing before the Council eloquently arguing his points. He was dressed in his black desert garb. Those rags he always wore, flowing robes, a cloth wrapping on his head, and a tattered cape. He was so unlike anyone else in that room, but I knew he would be a man to impact the world.”
The boy was quiet for a long time. He did not fidget, but he did not leave. Finally Po asked, “Is there something else?”
“What did the letter say?”
“You are an inquisitive child?”
“Sorry,” apologized the boy, still looking expectantly at Po.
“The letter from Guildhall,” explained Po, “Asked me to go to the Inn at Evermoore and conduct an investigation of the energy there. You see last spring the Guildsmen of Evermoore released Chaos energy into the world to avoid a cataclysmic explosion. There have been widespread subtle effects changing the world as we know it. I have sensed the changes here in Shoria. They are surely more pronounced in Evermoore. The Loremasters want me to confirm the findings of the secret study that was conducted over the summer by Kendrick Kane and other scholars before the results are publically announced.”