Fri Dec 07, 2012 12:29 am  
Rel Astra Campaign Preamble.


You see a shadowy haze of a figure approaching on what seems to be a similarly hazy mount...
As the figure draws within ten paces of you it stops and turns its mount about so as to block your path. The shadow slowly starts to solidify to reveal a beautiful black haired woman with ice blue eyes. Intertwined in her locks are feathers of a raven, you can't be sure, but they seem to actually be part of her hair. She is wearing a black robe with violet trimmings, raven's feathers adorn the shoulders, and her black boots do not appear to have ever seen dirt. Surely she is dressed in wealth.
Her mount is black as the void with solid black eyes and the saddle appears to be of even higher quality than garments of its rider. It digs at the road with a fore hoof as you survey them.
She takes but a moment gazing at each of you then extends her left hand out towards Rel Astra , palm side up. A shadowy ball appears above her hand and in an instant it forms the shape of a shadowy raven as it takes flight for the city.
The woman motions for you to follow as she tugs her reigns to the south and gives her mount a little kick...
(Ambush, then Travel to Rel Astra and into the city to Drax's castle)

As you approach the giant, arched double doors of the obsidian castle you are amazed at it's immense size. It towers over you to heights lost in the clouds and the sun's reach is all but eclipsed by it. Much larger than most in the kingdom, and the amount of obsidian used in its construction could only have been done by an intrinsic weaving of both labor and mighty magic. Ahead, the four guards outside take one look at the woman guiding you and quickly scurry off to the sides, out of your way. She dismounts and gestures to you all to do the same as she strokes the head of her mount...
Two guards rush over to take your mounts by the reigns, the first assures you they'll be well looked after in the royal stables.
Just a couple of breaths later the large doors swing open with the eerie creak of iron on iron. A giant being stands in the archway, easily as tall as two men, one on top of the other, and as wide as the archway itself. It's two heads, one like that of a dire wolf, and the other of a giant snake look down upon you. His crimson armor glitters in the sunlight and his heavy, scaled black cloak floats up ever so slightly with the breeze floating in through the castle door. You know this demon. You've heard of Drax's right hand. You've been warned to fear this beast. It is the molydeus Fiend-Sage of Rel Astra.
Just as you are standing in awe, wondering which set of eyes of his to attend to, the wolf head speaks in a snarling tone. "Welcome to Solnar Castle. I trust Raven was quite conversational on your journey. Please, come in. The Lord Drax has been expecting you for some time now. His excitement to meet with you seeds a great impatience. Come, Raven, the master desires your company as well."
The halls behind him echo loudly with each armored step he takes as he turns and walks down the hall leading you to his master.
As, you usher in behind the Fiend-Sage, the guards quickly close the archway doors and after some time following the hulking demon through a number of dimly lit corridors you come to a wide flight of stone steps leading up to an open triple archway. Once up the steps and through the archway there is a large court room with an obsidian table and matching chairs occupying the center. At the head of the room you see him seated, up higher than the rest of the room's elevation, upon an obsidian throne large enough that you'd think it was built for the demon. His posture is rigid as the mountains themselves, unmatching of his disheveled face and hands. His mid length black hair is well kept and beady black eyes instill a sense of intimidation in you. His garb is quite royal, black and silver silks, and more gemmed medallions and rings than you can count. His two, right forefingers jitter back and forth off the end of his giant, stone armrest creating the faintest echoing thumps in the court room... thump, thump, thump. He looks at the each of you inquisitively, but with a show of calm disregard.
To his left stands a tall plate armored figure with the girth to match, also wearing a black cloak. You're not sure with the dim torch light, but it appears there are two red glowing eyes peering at you from the depths of his great helm. Surely, this is Andromansis, the Death Knight. Drax's former war campaigner turned personal guard.
As you continue walking into the court room the Fiend-Sage's snake head leans slightly towards the table and lets out a drawn out hiss. Five chairs pull out awaiting an occupant as the Fiend-Sage motions the lot of you to take up a seat, before himself, taking a stand to the Lord Drax's right...

After taking your seats, the lord speaks in a haughty tone, "Ha! I was beginning to doubt the molydeus' word that you did indeed receive my gifts. Welcome to my Rel Astra, and welcome to my court. Excuse the lack of refreshments at the table, Andromansis and I, do not require such nourishment and the Fiend-Sage, well... well he consumes a variety I find disgusting to have about in my court room. Normally, in this situation I would greet you with a feast, a city-wide festival, and the most remarkable parade. Jesters, exotic animals, shows of skill, shows of daring, a hanging, a beheading, all manners of execution, dancing, wine, women, fire eaters, bon fires, canon fire, fireworks! A, but! I instead have the most urgent business for you to attend to, what say you!?...
It is no secret our beloved King Ivid is dying, and I for one can not wait til his time comes to pass. However, the secret I know is one of great consequence. When Ivid leaves this world for whichever ungodly establishment Hextor or Baalzy have planned for him, the rest of the Animii will follow. It is the curse of the transformation, a curse I bear. I, and I'm sure the rest of us, do not desire to follow Ivid into the beyond. Being reduced to bend at his every whim like a puppet! No, I feel that I much rather enjoy it here, in this world. There is a.... trinket of sorts that can enable this to be so. It has the power to cast off my curse and may even have the power to revive us, or rather myself and others I select that are willing to pay the price. I am commanding you as your fostering liege-lord to obtain this trinket and return it to me.
I would do this task myself, but I must remain here in Rel Astra. When word that Ivid is reaching his final days reaches the enemies of our Great Kingdom, war will surely be at hand. I must concentrate my efforts here to defend the country and do what I am able, to keep King Ivid alive until you return. If the Animii die, the country will fall. It is up to you to save us, to save our Great Kingdom, what say you!?
He replies in a serious and bold manner, "The Orb of Sol, Andromansis!" He then slouches back a bit into his giant obsidian throne as if the conversation is tiring him.

The death knight's glowing eyes light up into a bright red hue, illuminating the court room. He speaks in a booming voice that echoes in the courtroom, you feel if it were any louder, you'd have to cover your ears.
"It is believed the orb was last in the hands of St. Benedor and has since found its way to the care of the Prelate, but the Fiend-Sage has divined otherwise. It was a ploy to instill hesitation and fear in the darker lands of the kingdom."
"The Orb of Sol has certainly been lost for centuries, we believe it to have last been in the possession of Lum the Mad and he used the orb to infuse life into his mechanical creations."
"We believe this very same power can be used on the undead to spark life back into the soul. Lum's journal, inscribed into the Book of Hours, states that Lum travelled east to study the Doomgrinder's mysteries. A large, millennium old, mechanical windmill that supposedly will once again begin to twirl, signaling the end of days."
"The master wishes you to travel to the Free City of Greyhawk, and seek the Sage, Oro Penvein. He is a member of the city's Sages Guild. (F3) He is a specialist in Oeridean artifacts and personages, including Lum, himself. You must find him and ascertain the information he knows about the Orb of Sol."
Lord Drax resumes his erect posture, "Ahem, I am granting you a front stipend." He waves a forefinger back and forth from the Fiend-Sage to the table and back a few times and the Fiend-Sage grabs up a large bag from behind the obsidian throne, tossing it on the table in front of you. It lands with a hefty jingle, clearly a large sum of coinage (6,000gp.) "There will be piles of that awaiting your successful return."
"And, I am also granting you a ship. Freshly built by my city's best wrights and furnished with the finest luxuries and beddings befit of your status as my cohorts. Use the stipend as you see fit to stock supplies, outfit the ship's artillery, and hire a crew. It is all I can spare with a possible war on our hands."
Er, and there is one more subject to address, "Fiend-Sage, quest Raven to them, her silent presence..... disturbs me....hmmm mutes."
The Fiend-Sage's snake head dances about for a moment hypnotically gazing at Raven. A light dusting of what looks like shooting stars falls about her head. "It is done, master," the Fiend-Sage hisses.
Lord Drax nods his head contently. "Very well, she is now yours to command, she will follow and obey you like the marriage of the hen to the cock, 'til death do you part. She will show you around the city in the morning when you will begin your journey.
Now, If there are no further questions, the Fiend-Sage will show you to your quarters where you will rest well. You must be as exhausted from your journey as I am of Ivid. I have business to attend to." He then stands up and walks out of the court room through a side hall covered by silken drapery. Andromansis stays behind, presumably to answer any further questions you have, while the Fiend-Sage waits to show you to your quarters for the night.
Kneel before me, or you shall be KNELT!