There are many things afoot in Berwickshire, twisting with the turning of time and spreading thin tendrils of dread throughout the land. The White Star Orcs are weakened with the loss of one of their leaders and the scattering of his tribes, the Black Princes have fallen eerily silent and in the dead of night adventurers are being sent dreams by the Lord of Death expressing that his patience is slowly coming to an end.
And so, on a warm summer morning the adventurers of Berwickshire and travellers from the Valley set out to try and set things to right in the county before it is too late …
Player Mission: Journey to the centre of Knight’s Folly
The adventurers were hired by Thane Luyton’s advisor, the Baronet Auklish, with the request of finding a path through to the centre of the Marsh ahead of the final push against the forces of the Black Prince and the journey to the Barrow that lies at the heart of his power. With this in mind, the adventurers set out from Auklish and headed towards some higher ground to survey what they could of the Marsh, many of whom have experienced the beguiling nature of the unnatural marsh that goes by the name of “Knight’s Folly”. Rumoured to be the last stand of the Black Prince of Berwickshire, the site of a great battle and the quelling of a Tisa Valley invasion, many strange things have gone on in this marsh …
Those who ventured out to investigate further were:
- Wulfric Nolastname, senior scout of the Berwickshire Medium;
- Wren of the Blacksmiths Guild;
- Doctor Leofrick Kyle of the Physicians Guild;
- Lee Thorn and Daniel of the Mages Guild;
- Mother Madeline Blanchfleur, Holy Mother Rose; Esquire Maximillian Von … of the Feudal Order;
- High Father Andre of Rolbor;
Heading through the outer rims of the marshland towards a raised hump of ground the adventurers fought off some of the local wandering undead – zombies, animates, a wraith – which naturally rise from the battlefield through the power woven through the land at the time of the Black Prince’s demise. However as they crested the hill they came upon a fae-circle of mushrooms with a skull in the middle. Wren and Wulfric recalled the line on the cloth they had recovered which spoke of a skull marking the way. This was the way in, the way to find the dagger that was used to slay the Black Prince and might be able to do so again!
So against their better judgement Wren and Wulfric urged the others to pass through the gateway – which asked them each a riddle. All stepped through save the Holy Mother Rose who fended off the undead whilst trying to answer the riddle literally rather than listening to the clues in the riddle. However she eventually spoke the password and fell with the others into fae.
They landed in the midst of a rout of undead, a tall man in black with the blue Piercer Lion on his chest summoning his men to the front, urging them on. Confused, some of the party rushed to his aid and slew the foulspawn, at which he ordered his men after them to the nearby camp to teach the orcs a lesson. No mercy would be shown, no female or child spared, to put the beasts back in their place and remind them of the might of Berwickshire. Then he vanished, and the misty forgetfulness around them closed in as the path before them brightened and the path behind them dimmed. They pressed on to witness the Black Prince facing off against a horde of Lirronese men before a fight broke out and the adventurers rushed to defend their own. The Black Prince praised his men for their bravery, but urged them not to hold back, to press on across the border and kill those of age to bear arms against Berwickshire to teach them not to cross the border lightly. Mother Madeline tried to reason with him, to impress upon him the reason they had come but he seemed blind to her identity, deaf to her words and called for a healer to tend to this man’s wound for surely he had received a blow to the head. Then, as he turned away he vanished.
Once more the world around them turned hazy and the adventurers pressed on for fear of what would happen, and found themselves again before the Prince who summoned his squire to him and his scribe, seeing their faces amongst the adventurers. He bid his squire to kneel, whom he claimed to be Maximillian Von Wettlesbach, and bid him recite the oath he made. But as Maximillian misspoke the oath the Prince frowned, shook his head and muttered “This isn’t what happened”. The scene about them reset and played out again and again, Maximillian eventually swearing a partial oath as carefully as he could. Satisfied the Black Prince vanished and the adventurers came to the slow conclusion that they walked in the memories of the Black Prince, taking parts in the story.
They came upon another scene where a servant approached Mother Madeline with some urgency, addressing her as Gwendolyn and bemoaning the fact she was dusty from the road and had not yet donned her wedding cloak. Concerned and confused the Holy Mother Rose was pushed before the Black Prince and his assembled company as a priest of Paluen began to intone the Wedding Rite. She carefully swore a version of the vows and was lauded as Edger Piercer’s Lady fair to the joy of the gathered company. Then the scene dissolved and Madeline let rip with a series of curses at the trick that had been played upon her. But the adventurers, learning the way to pass through each memory urged her not to worry and continued on.
They came upon the Black Prince in discussion with his father the King, requesting more men in defence of the borders of Berwickshire, but his father refused, saying he had a dragon to fight, the Deepspawn to defend against, and noting that the Prince had been recruiting already and he would have to make do. He would not give his son men so that he could turn on his own Father and take control for himself. The Black Prince left in an angry storm and the scene melted away, but this great “hero” was painting himself in a darker light than the tales spoke of, and the adventurers began to wonder as to what actually occurred when he was alive.
They came to the final battle against the invading barons of Tisa Valley, where the Prince urged his men to hold the hill. The adventurers did their best, but they were overcome and fell to grevious wounds, yet the Prince walked amongst them and healed their hurts with a touch and a reminder of their oath – to rise and rise again in the defence of Berwickshire. Eventually, when they had turned the tide, they were swept on to a scene familiar to Wulfric and Wren – a tent overlooking the battlefield. Here the Prince bid his men take from the spoils of war, congratulating them on their conduct and bravery. But, as he turned his back on the tent wall, a figure cut its way through and stabbed him. Wren had been expecting it, but it seemed the elven assassin was really there, aware and alive and mad with the repetitions of this section of the story. They tried to reason with him, to help free him from his torment, but the doctor healed the Black Prince’s wounds and the scene reset. Again the assassin struck and again was thawted from ending his torment through another stabbing him, or the Prince being healed. Finally Wren and Wulfric were able to talk him into giving up his duty, to hand the knife that he had poured all his hatred into having received a vision of Berwickshire burning at the Black Prince’s hand – a point Andre wanted to know more of, to learn why the elf had done such a terrible thing in vengeance – and Wulfric turned the blade on its previous owner and cut him down.
The scene melted and the Black Prince with mask and tabard strode forward with his guard and a cobbler bound in chains, demanding to know who the adventurers were. Wren gave him a mixed and vague answer which he did not question, though he warned the adventurers against striking him. The cobbler pleaded with his Lord to be allowed to show Andre the way they could get home, and the Fae Prince permitted it, wanting the adventurers gone so they could inform the world that he was coming, coming to invade Berwickshire and rule as he should have long ago. Here was the vision of blood and fire and Wren’s heart hardened on her decision to kill this creature regardless of the cost.
Andre was able to help fashion a way home and urged the adventurers to focus on where they wished to go before stepping through. Most thought of home or places in Newcroft, but Wren and Lee Thorn thought of the centre of the Marsh and were brought there by the fae magic. They saw the inside of a dark tomb with a figure of bone and rotting flesh with blue fire for eyes staring at them. It spoke, demanding to know who they were and why they had come as it drew its sword, but they were then dragged out of the room by powerful magic and deposited in the marsh. They brushed themselves off and were startled to see that they were standing on a marsh road, clear of undead or trouble leading out of Auklish directly towards the heart of the Marsh. Their eyes, now unclouded from the spell obscuring their sight, allowed them to see the way they would have to go and they returned to tell the others of their news, congratulating themselves on finding the centre of the Marsh.
They returned to speak with the Baronet and Wren was horrified to learn that the others had lied, saying they had found the centre of the Marsh and she raged quietly against the injustice, but her temper was cooled by Wulfric congratulating them both on finding what it was they had sought and slipped her some extra pay for achieving the mission’s goal. But it didn’t stop her muttering in anger at the humans around her, feeling further trapped in the cage made of stone and mortar that the humans choose to dwell behind.
Monster Mission: Tribes of the Golden Goblin
The adventurers had previously “dealt” with the Golden Goblin, and with his absence the tribes had split apart under the power vacuum left behind. Three tribes had formed out of the wreckage of the foulspawn loyal to the Golden Goblin and were causing havoc for the White Star Orcs. One prided itself on strength, one had declared revenge on those who had killed the Golden Goblin and another had returned to their practise of sorcery.
The Golden Goblin had also had a hand in several raids on merchant wagons and trade throughout the region and the Merchants Guild were keen to retrieve particular items during this period when the tribes would not be prepared for a strike against them. At the request of the Merchants Guild members of the adventuring community headed out into the wilds to seek these items. These were:
- Rocco, Geezer Smough, Tillian Smough and Thurwulf of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Supplicant priest of Sidhe;
- Sir Stewart DePiercy, Head of the Knightly Griffin Order and Sir Peter Sabloir-Flessan; Errant Talon of the Knightly Templar Order; Sir Sergei of the Feudal Order;
They met with their hirer, a representative of the Merchants Guild who passed along the information of the missing items and the amount of money each Merchant was willing to pay. He then directed the group to his scouts, after they put some foulspawn to rout, and were directed along three paths to their objectives. If they achieved two of the three it would be considered a good days work – and after hearing more about the tribes the adventurers went after the ones priding strength and the ones who had reverted to the dark ways of vengeance and pain.
They fought their way to the leader of the white clad orcs, catching sentries unawares and witnessing a power struggle between members of the tribe, before going toe to toe with the leader wielding the stolen great sword. With this (and other trophies in their possession) they hurried back to where the scouts were waiting and were directed along a path heading deeper into the woodland. Here they faced creatures of Bequifis and her servants amongst the foulspawn, and nearly killed a Kharachian Elf as he lay the souls of the dead at his feet to rest. He introduced himself as Father Ten and carefully asked they aid in the recovery of “Balrat of Balrat”, a troll some of the adventurers were aware of. This creature had foolishly gotten himself captured and was likely to form part of a dark ritual to bring forth greater creatures and terrors of Bequifis. He offered his aid to the adventurers to see that this be stopped and the adventurers pressed on.
They fought off the worshippers of the Goddess of Pain and Rocco set about conducting emergency foulspawn surgery in the field upon Balrat before patching him up and turning to leave the area. The last fight against the intoxicated foulspawn led to the creatures fleeing before them and the adventurers returning to report to the Merchants in Carlech, returning the great sword and the silver chalice to their owners. All that’s left is a group of skydancers to attend to and to retrieve the notes they had stolen, but this would have to wait for another day …