The Party: The Hammers of the Dawn
Here are short descriptions of the original members of this scuderia. Each PC started at 2nd level. At the time we’re still using D&D 3.5 (and the Pathfinder Open Playtest documents), but the campaign progressed totally to Pathfinder a few months later. I gave to each PC a unique or personal boon, to better distinguish them (for example, Heian’s gift of assuming his familiar’s shape)
- Hilguen of the Ark [Aasimar Paladin of the Seven Virtues]: a mysterious champion, apparently human, who claims to have fallen on the Seventh Moon in a shooting star. Its mission and purpose are unknown, but his deeds and courage clearly mark him as leader of the Hammers. Hilguen is seen sometimes talking in a strange language with his exotic magic lamp, which stores a crippled celestial spirit.
- Garet [Halfling Rogue]: this unusually lively and curious halfling* is always accompanied by his faithful companion, a huge riding dog called Higgi. Garet is the official scout of the Hammers of the Dawn, although he sees himself as a “brave warrior”. Many accuse him of having gnome blood.
- Nogard, the Blind [Human (Hian) Monk/Sorcerer (Elemental)]: this mysterious monk from the distant icy realm of Huan-Ti is a devotee of the dead dragon-god Devantar, the Keeper of the Gate of Bones. Nogard is known for his uncanny ability to manipulate the element of air and for being blind – though this last trait doesn’t hinder in any way his fighting prowess (Nogard possess an almost supernatural hearing that compensates his blindness from birth).
- Drícia, Maiden-Priestess of Mitra’el [Human (Derenthi) Cleric]: this cleric of the dead god of the Yellow Sun, Mitra’el, is the spiritual heart of the group. Although very young, Drícia was entrusted with a legendary relic, the Solar Armature, whose powers are said to be proportional to the purity of its wearer.
- Heian [Elf (Onires) Rogue/Wizard]: this young fey has began his Daishin** just a few years ago, but he thinks it will take yet decades to satisfy his curiosity for the mortal lands of the Seventh Moon. He claims to be an accomplished swordsman, a cunning sage and a master scout (but his allies know better than to trust an elf). Heian is accompanied by his familiar of faltering loyalty and moody disposition – the crow Valquir (who seems to be the smartest of the pair). Heian’s most precious secret is that the elf is actually amnesic.
Proper introductions made, let’s start. A apologizes beforehand for the text’s length and poor structure, but this is the better translation I can make from the original (in portuguese). I hope you enjoy it and that it gives you some ideas.
Day 25 of the Festival Month, Year 757 since the Fall of the Gods
Our tale begins in media res, close to the western borders of the Shinning Principalities, northeast of the vast Emerald Valleys and east of the eternal twilight gloom of the Mountains of Eternal Fire.
The Hammers of the Dawn had just returned at dusk to the village of Silvery Palms, to deliver the head of an ogre that was sacking the region during several weeks. The beast – a refugee of the barbarian tribes from the Mountains of Eternal Fire – was devouring the local flocks and had nearly caught some of the younglings that guard them. The group was received by the village’s Seneschal in the Wine Spring Inn, where they awaited the small payment for yet another service completed.
The town of Silvery Palms was so named because of the mysterious trees with silver bark that grow only in the surrounding region – the famous White Woods. Many magicians and alchemists had tried to understand the phenomenon, but found no clear answers. The village women told that the dead deity of joy and weal – Defer, Lady of the Morning Dew – had blessed the valley before perishing in the Fall of the Gods. The women said that fey spirits inhabited the woods to this day, honoring her.
While the group counted their gains and thanked the village’s hospitality, a large earthquake shook the region, along with a huge explosion. Upon leaving the inn, the group saw the White Forest aflame and several fiery meteorites falling from the sky. The Seneschal of the town instantly panicked, because the village women were in the forest.
The group promptly went to the White Woods. Several women had already left, but screamed in panic telling that the others were still trapped. Drícia, the priestess of Mitra’el, and Garet the halfling, riding their mounts, were the first to enter.
Following feminine screams, the group found women surrounded by a blazing inferno and being attacked by what seemed to be the demon-aspected fire elementals. After rescuing the villagers, the party was divided by a falling flaming tree and encircled by yet more elementals. During the combat, the paladin Hilguen of the Ark became suspicious when a defeated fire elemental was absorbed by his sword of Himaerian steel***. He swiftly consulted his mentor – a crippled celestial spirit nestled in an old magic lamp called Selaron. The portable sage argued that either Hilguen’s weapon just gained a new magic propriety or that the evil elemental was now somehow attached to the item.
Garet rescued two more women trapped in a tree by fire elementals. Meanwhile, Drícia, who was returning from the edges of the forest where she had left the rescued peasants, was suddenly attacked by a huge fire spirit and nearly perished. Completely enclosed by the flames, the Hammers witnessed the power of the Divine Spark contained within Hilguen. The paladin of the Seven Virtues pulled with his bare hands an enormous tree from the ground and used it as giant shovel to open his way through the fire. Like other rare mortals after the Fall of the Gods, Hilguen was burn a Luminar, a divine inheritor with a small fraction of the power of the old pantheon. He could summon this Divine Spark only briefly, otherwise his mortal body would succumb to the raw astral potency.
Advancing, the Hammers of the Dawn noted that the demonic taint over the area was spreading. Now there were not just flame spirits, but also possessed beasts that attacking the party. During a deadly match against animated bear carcasses, which nearly cost the life of Hilguen and Nogard, the group unexpected received help from the technomage Laira, daughter of the Seneschal of Silver Palms.
The intrepid young woman said that her arcane calibrator was detecting a strong eldritch power surge emanating from the forest’s heart, which also seemed to be the point of impact of the mysterious aetherical body. This sinister coincidence was reinforced by another fact: a sudden rain, coming out of nowhere, indicating that the local forest spirits were clearly struggling against the hellish fires, albeit the forest’s core remained untouched by the fey magic.
After leaving Laira charged with protecting a child rescued from the woods, the Hammers moved on. The technomage provided the party with two grenades and a small healing potion before wishing good luck and promising to return to help them.
Finally, the heroes stepped into a large crater, partially covered by huge felled white oaks. Inside of it, a deep fissure. All around the crater, a choir of little fire elementals chanted in unholy union: “Rashmot urak Farnux bur ... Rashmot urak bur Farnux”.
What is the meaning of the fissure? What fell from the sky over the White Woods? Don’t miss the new chapters!
*Halflings of Isaldar are a gloomy and reserved people, called ‘The Silent Folk’ by other races and renowned as deadly assassins.
**Also known as ‘The Rite of Seasons’, it is a rite of passage in which young fey spirits dress themselves with mortal flesh and wander through ‘The Wheeled Realms’ (an allusion to the Endless Wheel of Time, under which all material races are bound, a.k.a. the Material Plane).
***Holy steel, mined theoretically from the Orb (Planet) of Himaeris, home of the Celestials.