Wars of the Black Alliance

Prologue
Mysteries of Moriban, the year of 1401

Tw3wh burning village

..Every quest has a beginning. Even the really stupid ones.

Summer.

The cheerful sounds of distant festivities could be heard above the gentle flapping of the black banners.

Grak’auk of the Ark’rrask pack was growing impatient. His fellow gnolls had finished urinating all over the place to mark the pack’s territory, and now they were getting bored. Grak’auk knew his lord and master loathed the peeing practice, which made it all the more hilarious – he had made sure to personally mark territory in the vicinity of his lord’s personal battle flag. And on it.

However his master was too preoccupied with planning the forthcoming assault to notice; something about finesse and how Grak’auk and his kind wouldn’t ever understand tactics and deception. It was fine, though. Grak’auk really didn’t care about finesse, he was paid by the day, so a siege would suit him just fine. Plenty of time to hunt rabbits and bury bones then.

He eventually figured that he would have enough time for a nap, so he turned around himself three times and curled up in a ball. He had barely closed his eyes when the war horn sounded across the plains, and his master’s voice boomed across the assembled army – “The gates are ours – it is time for the slaughter to begin! Go now, and destroy!”

As Grak’auk leapt into action along his pack, the cheerful sounds ahead of him turned into screams of horror. It was music to his ears. In fact, he made a promise to himself to kill a bard this time. He really hated bards.

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1. The Amulet of Undying
Mysteries of Moriban, the year of 1402

Lake town

Sigurd Ironhammer shivered in the cold night. He didn’t like it here. Boatman’s Ferry was a godforsaken town in a godforsaken province, and if anything, the dirty alley behind Felldragon Inn, in which Sigurd Ironhammer currently found himself, was even more godforsaken. Every second he could be mugged by bandits, or worse, get the contents of a shitpot tossed at him from one of the upper floor windows.

He tugged at his coat. Baldur was late. Typical of a dwarf.

It took half an hour of Sigurd worrying about raining feces, before a horseman came trotting slowly down the alley. The rider was slumped in the saddle. An ominous sign.

Sigurd rested a hand on his sword and approached the rider. It was Baldur alright. Sigurd grimaced; The dwarf had three crossbow bolts sticking out of his chainmail shirt.
Oh well.. Sigurd thought to himself, …Guess I’ll have to find ano-“YAAATARH!” his thoughts turned into an exclamation, as the dead dwarf suddenly grabbed hold of his coat. Baldur held his gaze and spoke, his voice a feeble rasp; “Shadows in the mist. Death from the darkne- cough cough all dead, they’re all dead…”

“All of them, eh?” Sigurd asked, disappointed, “I thought you were the best?”

Baldur spluttered “…The pass at Strongfall, our elf ranger died there, brave though she were, gutted by the blades of the Black Orcs… The savage monsters of Coldmarsh claimed our noble barbarian… The cursed Fenbeast of Black Pines took our wise wizard… Our thief cough cough our thief was lost in the deadly traps of Ravenflight…”

Sigurd poked his ear in irritation “I don’t really know any of those places, old friend, but did you at least find the… you know, the amulet?”

“No, and damn your amulet. " Baldur gurgled and slumped back over the saddle.
Unfazed, Sigurd tried again “Perhaps, when, or if, you recover, I could talk you into leading another quest to recover the amulet?”

Baldur feebly raised himself “Damn your suicidal quest, Imperial. If I survive, I’m going back to gold mining in Tavastia.”

Sigurd sighed and conceded defeat to the quarrelsome dwarf “Oh well, thanks for your time. Sorry for the mortal wounds and all.”

“Actually, I think I’ll make it.” Baldur said and instantly died.

Sigurd was annoyed, his entire band of merry adventures had met unfortunate ends… again. This was, like, the fourth time that had happened. Baron Theodemir was getting impatient. Oh, and doom was approaching.

“Yes, we’re doomed alright.” Sigurd said to himself.
Shaking his head, he left the dwarf and his horse in the alley and entered Feldragon Inn. He would need a big mug of strong ale after this recent setback. Heck, he’d never find another group of hardy and reckless adventurers in time. The last four groups had been good, but Boatman’s Ferry was rapidly running out of adventurous strangers – oh wait, nevermind, there was a new bunch of adventurous strangers, right there in front of him!

They were perfect, totally perfect. A rough loincloth-clad and well-muscled barbarian with a terrible-looking broadsword seemed to be the leader of the group. A black-bearded dwarf, wearing a chainmail shirt, with a mug of ale in one hand and a mighty warhammer in the other, was quietly talking to him. Add to that a scantily clad elven female of seductive beauty, with a bow and arrow, and a mysterious looking thief, clad in black and with a glimpse of a sharp dagger tugged into his sleeve, not to mention the wise-looking pointy-hatted wizard with a look in his eyes as if he had seen beyond eternity and understood the secrets of the universe. Perfect indeed.

Sigurd made a little dance and approached the group.

“Salutations” Sigurd began, “…brothers and sisters of the Empire. I come to you in dire need. The Empire is threatened by Doom… Doom from the east! Do-” The seated barbarian calmly interrupted the speech with a raised hand. “I’m sorry, sheriff, but we’re not interested in what you’re selling.”

Sigurd blinked in surprise “But, what?… but I come to you with adventure! With dangers! With gold to be looted! A battle against evil to be won! Wi-”
“Really, sir..” the barbarian said “…we’re not interested. We’re pacifists, actually.”
Sigurd blinked in disbelief.
The scantily clad elven female interjected: “and we’re absolutely, positively, not interested in your quest, we all know what happened to the other fellowships who tried.”
Sigurd was amazed. But he didn’t know what to say, so he just blinked again.
“And the weapons we carry…” the dwarf continued “…we are carrying to the Temple of Shara’s Mercy, where they will be smelted into chalices, never again to be used to strike death into living flesh.”
“Shame on you…” the wizard said “…for assuming that you could lure us into mortal danger for mere gold. We are not mercenaries to be bought.”
“Yes…” the thief added “…why do you people always assume that we just sit here, all day long in the tavern, just waiting for some pompous fool to drop by with a silly quest? We have jobs you know.”

Doomed indeed. Sigurd’s brain was trying to jump out of his skull through his eyes, hence some rapid blinking. This was impossible. He would have to return to Baron Theodemir. With a sigh, Sigurd backed away from the crazy people at the table and walked out. He might as well give up.

He spent the next few hours walking around the streets, cursing his piss-poor luck, cursing barons, amulets, and approaching doom, and sighing some more. It was early dawn when he found himself at the dock and the ferry arrived. A band of adventurous-looking characters stepped ashore. Hope? They definitely looked like adventurers… Actually they looked a bit shabby.

Well, it wouldn’t do much to be picky at this point. Sigurd sauntered towards the new arrivals, readying his recruiting speech for the umpteenth time…

Player objectives:

  • Speak to Sigurd Ironhammer
  • Become heroes
  • Collect loot
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2. An Expected Journey
Mysteries of Moriban, the year of 1402

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“Ahh, the ancient Iron Crown of Oaths. My master will be pleased.”

Selvin Silvertongue pours some sweet honeyed wine into his flagon and sits back to study the Crown, smiling that annoying smile of his. It is late in the evening in the Hercking Carver, the best tavern in Greywater Edge.

Recently returned from the depths of the Halls of the Ancient Dead, you speculate that the sweet taste of honeyed wine could banish the memory of the hideously disgusting and foul smelling carrion crawler, the ugly one that bit you in that special place you don’t talk of in public. But Selvin doesn’t seem to be offering any.

“Yes, he will be most pleased.” Selvin continues. “Wouldn’t you say, Gelimir?”

Gelimir the Black, standing in the dark behind Selvin, with his hands resting on his sword-hilt, merely grunts his approval.

You can feel him eying you suspiciously as you stand there, in your torn stinky clothes, cradling your dinged up helmet, feeling pain in your groin.

“And of course, I am also pleased that my fine friends have survived their foray into the Haunted Hills. Yes, very pleased.” Selvin says, in a way that leaves you without a doubt that he is not pleased at all. Gelimir grunts another approval in much the same way.

“So now I will honor my end of the bargain.” Selvin continues, as he hands the Iron Crown back to Gelimir, and produces a piece of paper. Gelimir quickly hides the Crown under his vest.
“This one is called Tilda the Fairhaired.” Selvin proclaims, showing you the paper. “ She is currently wanted by agents of the cursed Black Alliance.”

Upon the mentioning of the Black Alliance, everyone in the inn within earshot spits on the floor. Gelimir’s spit lands perilously close to your left boot. You discretely shift your foot and look closer at the sketch of the woman on the paper. She is young and innocent looking. Underneath her picture, bold writing proclaims her WANTED by the Black Alliance, and mentions something about her being a runaway slave, and a reward for bringing her in.

“As you can see, it is a fairly substantial reward” Selvin says, as he absentmindedly fingers the iron piece fastened on his broken nose. “I have her tracked down to a stinky little settlement called Marshtown, a few days upriver from here. She is hiding there in the inn”

You notice that he occasionally grimaces in pain from his broken nose. The thought makes you smile.

“Actually, I was very tempted to claim the reward for myself.” he says. “But I digress. I know I owe you a way to Black Harbor, and I am a man of my word. She is it.”

“Okay…” you say, doubtfully, as the others in your group look to you. “But how exactly are we going to be able to use her to get us to Black Harbor? If she is on the run, I very much doubt that she’ll want to go ba…”

“Use your brain, hero.” Selvin says with his annoying smile. “She got out. She’ll know the way in. All you need to do is persuade her to tell you how.”

“Use your imagination.” Gelimir says. “But don’t do anything foolish.”

Images of the bar fight in Felldragon Inn flashes through your mind. As do the fight with the city guard, the escape over the rooftops, the dead guards, the prison stay, the life-long ban on ever visiting Boatman’s Ferry again, upon pain of death.

“Of course.” You say. “We won’t do anything foolish at all.”

“Right.” Selvin says, clearly not convinced. “A word of warning, fine friends. The people of Marshtown take their faith very seriously. They have been known to burn visitors who disagrees on their interpretation on religious doctrine, so I’d try not to offend their sensibilities, if I were you.

“I am sure nothing of the sort will happen” you say, nervously eying the rest of your group.

“Anyway.” Says Selvin. “My good friend Gelimir here, have arranged for a discrete river barge that’ll take you lot towards Marshtown. Expect the journey to take a week or so. Now, if you have no other matters to discuss, I think it would be best for all of us if you went on your way.”

As you are led out of the tavern, you pass by the noble Sir Sigurd Ironhammer, Thane to the Earl of Blackreach, and the one who talked you into this Quest™. He enthusiastically gives you a thumbs up as you pass.

“Good luck, noble adventurers.” He says in a booming voice. “The safety of the Empire rests on your heroic shoulders.”

Gelimir unsuccessfully attempts to stifle a laugh, much to your chagrin. But Sigurd seems unfazed.

“We shall await your return with great anticipation!”

Gelimir is still laughing to himself as you are led down the backstreets and alleyways, down to the small harbor of Greywater Edge. Across the river, you can see the lights from Boatmans Ferry. The harbor is almost deserted, except for…

“No way!” Suddenly you stop in your tracks. The only sizeable ship is an ugly looking river barge, and it doesn’t look very seaworthy. You find yourself really hoping it isn’t that one. But it is. The boat captain waves to Gelimir, who in turn waves you toward to boat with an unkind gesture.

“What a piece of junk!” You exclaim.

“She’ll make it to Marshtown in five days.” Says the boat’s captain, busily herding pigs onboard. “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself.”

“Oink” says one of the pigs.

As you climb onboard, and stuff your gear in among the smelly pigs, you briefly wonder what Gelimir the Black intends to do with the Iron Crown you found. But whatever it is, you’re sure it will never come back to haunt you.

Anyway, the journey awaits. That damsel in Marshtown knows the way to Black Harbor, and to the best of your knowledge, you owe a few of those Black Alliance crooks a good beating. For justice.

You look around you, seeing your friends, the pigs, and all your gear. “Onwards to adventure!” you cry. “ Onwards to glory!”. “For the noble dead of Fair Oaks!” your friends cry.

“Oink!” says the pig.

The smelly river boat begins to tug mindboggling slowly up the river.

Player objectives:

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2. An Expected Journey - Part 2
Mysteries of Moriban, the year of 1402

What do we want?!! Hate crimes!!! When do we want it?!! When we catch the interlopers!!!
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The following is from the diary of Joél Greenspring (aka Joe the sniffer)

… No amount of fair weather, nor bard inspiration can mask the stench and misery that is this river voyage. The monotony of it all only adding fuel to the proverbial slow cooking of boredom and discomfort, making it a welcome distraction when you spot a lone traveller cornered by four orcs on the river bank. Dispatching two barbarians to traverse the perilous river to do battle, the bard and the priest assisted with some well-aimed long distance support. The traveller proves capable with a blade as he slay two of the brutish orcs, leaving far too few orcs for the barbarians liking. There is much rejoicing back on the boat (and the bard didith playeth a tone).

The traveller is introduced as Joe, a fellow adventurer commissioned to get the Amulet of the Undying away from the Black Alliance (what are the odds). A new alliance is formed by the time the boat reached Marshtown, now all that was left for you to do was find the girl and gain entry to the dreaded Black Harbour.

Witch! Burn her!!” Marshtown is in uproar (or celebrating, it is hard to tell the difference), and it appears that Tilda the Fairhaired is at the center of the commotion, having being tried and judged a witch. You find yourself in a bind; the town distrust you, the girl is set to burn at dawn, and the baptism into the faith of Turius that Slak has just undergone usually ends with an offering to said God.

Time is short and the options few. As night falls and the town celebrates the pending burning, you have to come up with a plan, a good plan (preferable one that does not include burning pigs as a diversion) to get the girl, or at least what she knows and get out of town without dying. Good luck…

Player objectives:

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3. The Lair of Darkness
Mysteries of Moriban, the year of 1402

Shit’s about to get real!
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Almawt Alwashik entered the room, the air was thick with the smoke from water pipes, he inhaled the air in a deep breath and went straight for the bar. “A large mug of your sweetest wine!” he asked the bar wench as he sat down at a small table on the edge of the room.
“You shouldn’t travel alone! There be vile beasties out there.” a voice nearby said, Almawt turned his head and saw some of the local sailors talking. Almawt had heard the rumors of broken shapes attacking people in the night, but he didn’t believe them. People with multiple arms and claws and hooves… Bah, just the ramblings of drugged madmen. Many times had Almawt helped the smugglers importing Starpowder filled stonedust mushrooms, knowing full well that they could render an otherwise sane man into a raving lunatic seeing lights and shadows and the most wondrous of sights. Only a fool would believe the ramblings of such a madman as actual evidence for a crime.
“Harbourmaster Alwashik?” a man approached him. “Aye” he replied. A man carrying two tall glasses of wine sat down opposite him. Alwahik looked up at him, he didn’t know him, but he had the distinct look of a foreign sailor about him, “Yes?” he asked. “I hear that you’re the man to talk to if I want to get something into the city without questions being asked.” “That might be, what excactly are we talking about?” “I am Gilbert de Pontenac, captain of the Windstrider, which is currently moored in the bay outside the city, I come bearing precious cargo.” Alwashik raised an eyebrow and gestured for the man to sit down. “Precisely what and how much are we talking about?”. The captain sat down opposite Alwashik, “Amongst my cargo of fine clothes and hides I have fifty cases of Green Arbour wine, but as you know very well, the port authorities will never let that wine enter the city, which is why I need you.” Alwashik knew about Green Arbour wine all too well, considered by many to be the finest wine in the world, but presently very much illegal to bring into al-Hammâm due to political tensions between Green Arbour and al-Hammâm. “That might be possible, but it will cost you” he said with a sly tone. “… Which is why I brought this…” the captain said placing a pouch on the table before him, Alwashik looked in the pouch, “This is not nearly enough, my services don’t come cheap, there are arrangements to be made and bribes to be placed if you want to get that wine into the city safely. Or you could just take your chances in the dead of night if you feel the price is too high.” Alwashik knew that the captain would never be able to move his contraband without his help, and therefore knew that he could demand a steep price.
They talked for a few minutes and in the end the captain settled for Alwashiks price, not that he had any choice in the matter. “A pleasure doing business with you” Alwashik said with a smug smile grabbing the pouch before him “I will take this as your initial downpayment, make sure to have the rest of my fee ready when we unload the ship.” He emptied his mug and stood up and left the tavern.
Business had been good this night, Alwashik thought, he had gotten almost twice his usual price from the captain, more than enough to cover all his own costs in the matter and still leave him with a hefty profit. He pocketed the pouch and pulled the hood of his cloak up over his head, the weather was fickle this night, cold and foggy, not at all pleasant.
A few hundred feet from the tavern he heard a soft clicking sound, he turned around and saw a dark figure behind him. He picked up his pace and went down an alleyway holding a hand on the dagger at his side. He turned his head and saw that the figure were following him and had gotten closer. The clicking sound had gotten higher and closer. He ducked around another corner and prepared to face the figure head on. No common thug would get the better of him.
He could hear the clicking sound getting closer and closer, he drew his dagger and stepped out in front of the figure. “What do you want, don’t you know who I…” his voice disappeared as he saw his pursuer clearly, it was no man, at least not entirely. The face was a mosaic of different faces, some of it human, but not all of it, the right side of the face was furry with a red eye, the lower jaw had green skin and long tusks and above the maw were small pincers one would expect to see on an insect. Surprised he took a few steps back before he found his courage again. He raised his dagger to strike, but as he did a big crablike pincer caught his arm around the wrist sending searing pain down the length of his arm. His grip around the dagger loosened and a soft clank sounded as his dagger hit the cobbled street. Alwashik looked at his assailant with a mixture of panic and utter amazement. “Wh-… wh-… what are you?” he stuttered trying to squeeze away to no avail. The pincer pulled him closer and the mouth of the impossible face opened impossibly wide before sinking it’s teeth into his should opposite his trapped hand. Alwashik screamed in pain and sheer terror, all thoughts of fighting back gone from his mind. The creatures raised it’s other arm, which ended in a long stinger dripping with a vile green liquid. The stinger plunged into Alwashik’s left thigh with a jab of sharp pain. within seconds all feeling in his leg had vanished, and he could feel the sensation spreading throughout his body and he started to get dizzy. He struggled to remain conscious, but knew it was a battle he could never win.
“The Magus needs more subjects” Alwashik heard a raspy voice from the creature say before he passed out.

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3. The Lair of Darkness - Part 2
Mysteries of Moriban, the year of 1402

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The Dark Tower

He was not like the other of the master’s monsters. He had a heart. In fact the master had once told him, that his heart was too big, since it was from a pig. As long as he could remember, he had served the Mad Magus, as butler and lab assistant. Once in a while the master was good to him, but not so often.
As most nights he had opened the main gate to let the master’s creations out. As most nights his master was in a foul mood. This night however, the creations should have been back with their prey hours ago, but they weren’t.

“Rigor!!!!!!!” The Master’s voice rang out. “Yes Master!” he answered. “What is that damn noise. I am trying to concentrate on my work. Find my ingredients and bring them here as fast as you can!!!”
Rigor looked up. He noticed he was laying face first, unto the floor at the bottom of the stairs. All around him lay shattered jars and glass containers. All over the floor was spread various magical ingredients. He stood up as fast as he could. He couldn’t feel pain but his head was still spinning from the flight down the stairs, but in particular from the abrubt landing. He checked himself to make sure nothing was broken. He could feel something liquid dripping from his lips, he wiped it off with the sleeve of his tunic to see if it was blood. It was not, it was probably just drool again.
“Sorry Master, I fell down the stairs again Master. But I landed on my head, so nothing important is broken!” “I don’t care if you’re hurt. Just get me those ingredients, you moron!”
“Yes Master!”
He found the broom and gathered as many of the ingridients as he could. Then hurried up the stairs to where his master would be. “Here you go Master. All that you asked for!”
His master looked at him impatiently. “Have the creatures returned yet?” “No Master, not yet.” He knew his master wouldn’t be pleased of those news, but then again, he rarely were in the first place. “They shouldn’t be late! What’s keeping them?”
Rigor had no idea what was keeping the creatures from coming home. “Maybe the city guard has caught them Master. Maybe they have been arrested.”
“Bah, I have an arrangement with the city guard, they will look the other way. It must be something else! Hand me those ram horns over there” Rigor went over to the shelve to get the horns and handed them back to his master.
RAM HORNS! Not Elk horns!” His master hit him across the face, it didn’t hurt, but Rigot knew that the master would get even more furious if he didn’t pretend it hurt. “You good for nothing idiot! I should have given you a bigger brain when I made you! Even Fisto is smarter than you!” Rigor didn’t like it when the master compared him to Fisto who was a completely mindless construct.“Come on, get to work! Stitch up those three bodies over there or I’ll punish you again!”
“Yes Master!!!!”

Efter at være blevet solgt som slaver af den sleske pirat Captain Ghudraan til Sheikh Harun Qadib er vores helte blevet lovet deres frihed hvis de stopper den ondskab der hærger al-Hammam.
I kloakkerne under byen har vores helte fulgt et spor der har ledt dem gennem horder af broken ones, udøde og andre vederstyggeligheder.
De kommer ud af kloakkerne langt uden for byen. Natten er faldet på, en intens regn vælter ned fra himlen og det er tordenvejr. Som skyerne forsvinder kan de se et Tårn hvor lyn slår ned. Tårnet stikker op af udkanten af en ækel og gigantisk mose der strækker sig så langt som øjet rækker.
Når de kommer tættere på tårnet kan de se flere broken ones stavre omkring i en indhegning med porten åben.
Der står et skilt udenfor med teksten “The Mad Magus. Beware: Monsters live here.” skrevet med store ubehjælpelige børnebogstaver.
Vil vores helte nogensinde besejre The Mad Magus? Vil de blive frigivet fra deres trældom? Vil de finde Loot?

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