The legendary Jarlael Rathais, known poet, actor, left hand to Khelben Blackstaff, hero of the High Forest, keeper of secrets, teller of tales and lady’s man loved by one and all sat in Belvyn’s House of Good Cheer of Bargewright Inn, not quite knowing how long he should wait for his companions to arrive or if they would at all. But as he mused and sipped his ale, the first of his friends, the large armor clad knight of the harvest, strode into the beer hall. Good, the message was received.
Over the next few days the rest of his old group slowly trickled in, save for the dour dwarven monk, Magnir. Hopeful he would show before Jacob’s arrival the group began preparation.
That evening the guests of Good Cheer discussed the world events as they knew them and learned Khelben Blackstaff, public Lord of Waterdeep, had personally requested Jarlael’s assistance with the crisis. Realizing that even he could not do this alone, sent messages to his friends for their help. It was known that a shadow of sorts had fallen over the realms while portals in the sky were opening and leaving destruction in their wake. Yet the cause was still a mystery. The ever vigilant Jarlael had found a priest, Pastoral Jacob of Chauntea, who had witnessed first hand one of the occurrences. They were now waiting on his arrival in hopes of some clue as to the cause of these rifts.
The pastoral was late and even after Jarlael’s wise suggestion to give the good priest a few extra days for travel, Jacob failed to arrive. The party, suspicious that something was afoul, gathered their gear and set out to find this priest known to tend a sacred grove outside of Ashington Keep. But as fate would have it, while passing through the gates of Bargewright, the young man Varin harried by fear and exhaustion rode toward Aldon, the guard posted outside the gates, and presented the grave news.
Jacob was gone! Killed by a darkness that had fallen upon the village. Most of the militia had been wiped out and Sir Roland Ashington, the last of his line and protector of the people had been struck low by an unknown ailment. Varin told his tale and set to devouring the greedily accepted meal and ale set before him.
The ever knowing Jarlael, with constant demand of his presence throughout the realms, hurried to the West to provide his unique aid which was so desperately needed. The rest of the party, with a new sense of urgency, set out at first light to investigate for themselves the tragedy of Ashington village.
Tymora, her sense of humor unfathomable by mortal beings, thought to test the groups mettle during their travels one midnight with a visit from a dragon of the forest. However, her luck was with them as the party easily dispatched the beast, stripping it of its flesh and brutally mutilating the body for its treasure. Yet this encounter’s impact did take it’s toll. Half the horses had been slaughtered and much of the equipment had been ruined by the beasts acidic breath. Uluvin was to be their next stop for resupply and more horses.
During the quick stop in Uluvin, the party presented a young green dragon’s tooth, the treasure of a lifetime to a lowly stable owner, for supplies. Shocked and in awe from the offer, the stable master presented them with three mighty warhorses and enough feed for a tenday for their generosity, then set himself to the local tavern to spread the word of his great fortune. Now, fully stocked, the party was only a day’s travel from their destination and quickly reached the villagers of Ashington.
Borin, the village’s blacksmith and current leader of the militia greeted, welcomed and informed the party of the current state of affairs. The group gave over their horses to the young boys of the village for tending and set to taking in the situation. Roland was wasting away from some disease and only holding on to life by the works of the village elder and alchemist Baerlatha. The village had been kept safe for years by the Ashington line, the local militia and Baerlatha’s support, was now forced to set camp about a mile outside of town after the local tribe of goblins had overrun the area.
Roland lay in the largest tent and had been unconscious for days. Channeling the will of Chauntea, Gareth was able to rouse the Count but only for a few questions at a time. Shortly after, Angrim was able to deduce, with the help of the tiefling Leah, that the disease was Baator fever and required Marthammor Duin’s grace but was beyond the dwarf to conjure. However, a lesser form of the cure was able to awaken Roland for a full recount of what happened, also allowing him time to give his last will and receive final rights before passing. With the elders of the village as witness, Roland had declared if his shield was retrieved, left in worthy hands and the village saved, that the keep would go to the adventurers to rule and protect.
Fueled by ambition and a need to set things right, the party sent Lipton, the sneak, to scout the keep and village in order to form an attack plan. Within hours the entire party had circled to the rear of the keep, entered and secured the area then stood upon the battlements taking stock of their equipment and readying themselves for what was surely to be a long, tough fight.
The true recounting of the early Time of the Veil, Chapter 1 (3rd printing)
- Lord Jarlael Rathais