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Artman77
2012-11-17, 05:59 PM
Bright orange leaves blow in the cool west-winds of autumn. All is quiet in Shikesan, a small town on the eastern border of the Qin'Yon province, near Kikoro.

You are 14 years old now and quickly becoming a man. Stalking prey comes as easily to you as it does to any tiger of the realm. Map-making however, is an endeavor which requires more tutelage.
Timat, a kind old hermit that lives down the road is showing you the ropes. He says the best way is to draw them from above, by flight via spell, mount, or wingcloak. He teaches you as best he can from his rooftop, and from the big hill south of town.

The bears that live in the woods around here are now lethargic from gorging themselves all summer in preparation of winter; they will sleep for most of the day. As long as you stay away from Red Valley and the cliff tigers that hunt there, you can now go hunting in solitude.

Zebulen Qinoka, an inquisitor from the Black Circle of Qin, has been here for several weeks asking the locals about all sorts of things. Questions about spellcasting in the area, who, how, and when, questions about the lay of the land, about any strange occurrences in the weather, or the behavior of animals.
He is a strange man, and seems to have a genuine dislike of people. He wears the black robes of the order, wrapped many times with and tied by a long red sash. His head is shaved and he wears a heavily decorated necklace made of silver and wears several silver rings on each hand, some adorned with rubies and some with onyx. He carries a gnarled staff covered in arcane markings with him at all times...

Snowbluff
2012-11-17, 11:16 PM
I am keeping an eye on Inquisitor Qinoka. This sort of thing attracts my interest. I have little talent for magic, but it always kept my interest. He probably was once an awesome adventurer, as well. He would slay dragons and outwit mindflayers to amass a great amount of treasure and fame. Yeah, that would be the life.

I should do something adventurous. Something that would get me famous. Who knows, maybe I'll become the youngest cartographer to map the Red Valley.

Artman77
2012-11-19, 12:15 PM
In ancient times when the empire was young, Baccob would choose the king, and the church would anoint him emperor by divine right. Then came the days of magic in the land, when serfs and peasants learned to cast spells of their own accord. Suddenly bloodlines were less important. Commoners became nobles by their own power, not by election.

In these days, the empire was often at war with the kingdoms of the north and east. There were uprisings in the Qinese provinces often, never wanting to be subjugated since their inclusion of the empire.

Your father's grandfather was alive in those days, and you remember your father talking about it. The need for wizards was great; they possessed the ability annihilate entire armies in a single stroke, and to suppress rebel uprisings without bloodshed. The emperor promoted anyone with magical ability, giving them status, gold, and lands in the empire. The more arcane power you wielded, the more important you became. The church of Baccob fell into obscurity.

Due to the mortality rate and the common injuries associated with spellcasting, a need was created for healers, and the church of Pelor became more prominent. Before you were born, two giant crystals fell from the sky. They shed light day and night, and healed anyone who touched them. Pelorians claimed that they were a gift from their god, and named them the 'Tears of Pelor', and built a temple around them, firmly establishing the Pelorianism as the empire's main religion.

Fredrich, the village wizard, has been very curious about the new visitor from the Black Circle, and is very tight-lipped about it. Within two weeks of Zebulen's arrival, there are a whole host of arcanists in the area, casting spells, examining the ground, dowsing, and taking samples of the earth and foliage.

Zebulen has made friends with Gabe, a poor local farmer. People say that he spends the night at Gabe's house and pays him, from what you've heard, a years wages for every single night that he stays there!

You followed him through town just yesterday, and he was talking to the men that work in the quarry not far from the cliffs about the stone supply there, and if the town had any local stonemasons. From his questions you assume some sort of construction will start soon.

Among some of the arcanists that have come from around the province are a group of Star Bound Magi and Mageblades; the emperor's wise men and enforcers, respectively. They have stayed in the center of town for the most part, talking to the constable and no one else...

Artman77
2012-11-28, 10:04 AM
(OOC: What would you say would be your daily routine at this point?)

Snowbluff
2012-11-28, 10:27 AM
(OOC: I would say I get up early to help my brother with trapping and hunting, and then Spending the midday and afternoons learning Cartography from Timat. The late afternoons and Evenings would be free for me.)

"Hmm... ." I think to myself. "What could they want to make in the first place?" I continue to follow Zebulen. Perhaps he is up to something.

The Magi catch my eye as well. "This is rather strange. What could be causing these people to gather here?" I will try and catch what they say to the constable sometime. It could help me figure out what is going on here.

Tomorrow, if I don't have any luck, I will ask the constable directly what the Emperor's servants are doing here.

Artman77
2012-11-28, 11:00 AM
The moon follows the sun through the morning sky as if to chase it straight through autumn and into winter. A cold wind blows through the streets.

You smile to yourself as you walk down the main road after a successful day of hunting. There was no way your brother could take the credit for the kill today! Chuckling as your replay the events of the hunt over in your mind, your daydreaming is interrupted by a colossal stone structure that has been erected in the center of town!

A large circle of twelve massive stone pillars reach skywards, each one bearing a large arcane symbol at the top, facing inwards. How did this happen? They weren't here yesterday! There are no stonemasons in sight, only Hal, master of the stonemasons guild and a pair of wizards wearing the blue robes of the Star Bound.

You realize your mouth is hanging open and shut it as you continue to walk by.
This is quite curious, but the hunt took longer than expected, and Timat is kind but stern. You might have time for a quick question or two, but then you'll have to sprint to make it to his hut by noon.

Artman77
2012-12-04, 02:33 AM
(OOC: if you decide not to ask them any questions, I guess I will continue the story...:smallsmile: also, your brother needs a name :smallwink:)

You continue on your way to Timat's house, looking over your shoulder for any sign of your brother. Those tall stone pillars strike an impressive image against the clear sky. Your brother has been flaking out on his lessons lately, always in favor of something more adventurous. The town is really behind you now. Looking over your shoulder again you see inquisitor Zebulen in an argument with the emperor's men. 'Of course,' you think to yourself, 'he would show up after I leave...'

A few minutes later you are walking up the hill to Timat's house. You know he will be asking where your brother is and why he is late. You look around one more time for him, dragging your feet as you near Timat's door. No sign of him. You knock.

The door creaks open to reveal a very unhappy Timat. "You are late young sir! Even your brother has arrived on time!" Your eyes widen with surprise as they look past the old man's scowling face to the great big smile spreading across your brother's.
"Hey there Darian!" He hollers cheerfully. "You'll never guess what I'll be doing today!" Judging by the wand he holds in his hand, and the presence of Fredrich, you have an idea.
"I'm going to fly!" He exclaims, eyes lighting up with excitement.

The lessons don't go as well as they usually do; Timat insists on the usual schedule of things, informing your brother that if he wishes to fly it will be after the lesson. Your brother is not happy, taking every opportunity to interrupt Timat with a question about flight or another rendition of how he acquired the wand.
"No I didn't steal money from father!" He insists. "I played dice with some of the wizards that came in from out of town, offering pelts and information about the lay of the land if I lost. They agreed. I won some silver, and then more silver, and then gold! GOLD!!" He exclaims. "They sure wanted that gold back so then they started putting their rings down and wands and things I didn't recognize."
"Well then I lost the lot, and they became very angry and demanded more money from me saying that the gold on the table was not enough to cover the cost of the items that they claimed were magical. Well this man behind us, very odd looking, clothed all in black offers to pay for my losses, plus one more cast of the dice, to which they agree."
His eyes widen, and his eyebrows climb with excitement as his voice gets higher.
"He says if he loses, we both lose, but if he wins, he gets to keep all my winnings except for one hundred gold pieces, or one of the items in the pile. Can you believe it?? This wand could be worth one hundred gold pieces!!"
"More, actually." Interjects Fredrich.
"Anyway, I agree, and he throws down his purse, full of gold, and one of his rings that has a big old ruby on it. I toss the dice..." He pauses for dramatic effect even though you know the outcome of the story.
"And I win!!!! Ha! Of all the luck! The man collects my winnings and I ask him for the wand, and he hands it to me. The wizards get really angry that he took all their money on one roll and want him to keep playing, but he refuses.
I get out of there as fast as I can because it looks like there is about to be a fight, and they all got their wands and staffs out and pointed them at each other, but the place didn't blow up after I left, so maybe nothing happened..."
You can ask your brother, Fredrich, and Timat any number of questions, but you cannot convince them to let you go flying, unfortunately. There are only two charges, one for him and one for Fredrich.
Timat insists on showing you something in town while your brother flies. You thought he hated going into town, and think that he should be overseeing the map-making-flight, but he says no.

After they are up and away into the afternoon sky, Timat takes you back down the hill and two the small graveyard on the edge of town. He stops you when you reach two small rocks near the middle.
"This is where my parent's rest," he says softly. "We came here to get away from this wretched sorcery, but it followed us here." You can see it pains him to talk about it, but wait patiently for him to say what he brought you here to say.
"Apparently the magic of the world has a strong connection to the earth here, a discovery that was made by a would-be sorcerer. While attempting to teleport, he teleported himself and his entire lab into our tiny house. I was playing in the field. They died instantly. There was blood everywhere." He slowly turns to look at you, his beginning to well with tears.
"Arcanists bring as much pain and trouble as they do help!" he declares firmly. "If they do not kill, injure, or destroy on purpose, they do so by accident, but the victims are often overlooked by those who fear spellcasters, or who want their power and are willing to look the other way. The 'lesser' people are seen as collateral damage." He looks back to the graves. He blinks several times and clears his throat.
"It was an accident. He meant no ill. He was looking to improve life."[/B] he says quietly. "That is the temptation. Arcanists want to make things better, easier. Everything they do can be achieved, just not as quickly. They are all looking for a shortcut." He looks at you. "Magic is often the easy way, but not the best way. Please, don't take shortcuts."
you can ask another question or RP something here if you would like...

He gives you a few copper pieces and tells you to buy yourself a drink before turning away to head back home.
"Oh, by the way," He says calling back over his shoulder, "I forgave the man eventually, and he ended up killing himself in an explosion a year later, mixing potions..."

"Ahem." comes an intentional cough from behind you as you watch Timat leave. You turn around and your blood runs cold: There stands Zebulen Qinoka, an expectant and slightly displeased look on his face. "You have been following me, boy. Why?"

Snowbluff
2012-12-04, 11:36 AM
I laugh at the story about dice-rolling. "Wow, that is amazing," I say, wide eyed. I chuckle a little "You are lucky nothing bad happened."

I stay quiet during Timat's story. It's best to let the wiseman speak.

____

I stare up at the man. "Of course not, sir! I am just around the town a lot". I give up once I see my transparent lie.
"Yessir. I just wanted what you were up to." I look down at the ground dejectedly.

Artman77
2012-12-05, 01:10 AM
He glares down at you, his mouth tightened into a thin line. He contemplates your explanation for a moment, but it feels like eternity.
"You wish to know what the great Zebulen Qinoka has been up do do you?" A devilish grin plays across his face. He reaches with his free hand into one of the small pouches tied to his sash and pulls out a small glass vial full of green bubbling liquid. He holds it out to you.
"Here. Drink this."

Artman77
2012-12-06, 11:24 AM
The sky starts to darken, slowly changing from bright blue to a sickly orange. He looks around as if he expects someone to be following him.
"Quickly boy. Do you wish to bear witness to the power of the black circle, or are you afraid?"

Snowbluff
2012-12-06, 11:28 AM
I reluctantly take the drink, frightened. "Black circle? What is the Black Circle?"

Artman77
2012-12-07, 01:07 AM
"We are the future," he exclaims, "a fact which the empire is about to learn..."
You can roll a knowledge local if you wish to know more about the black circle wizards...
The potion smells like a dead animal and tastes like stagnant saltwater. It burns slightly as it goes down. You feel extremely full, like you've just swallowed a brick. Zebulen carefully studies your expression.
"Follow me."

He leads you around the edge of town as the sky continues to get darker. It is very odd. It's early autumn and not much past noon, the sun is still high in the sky.
"Do not look up." He warns.
You pass by a few small farmhouses, and Zebulen whistles sharply. A dark blur shoots out from the side of one of the farmhouses and zigzags across the field towards you at a blinding speed. The blur slows as it nears you and a young man dressed all in black comes into focus. He carries a naginata and wears a scarf over face, but you can see dragons tattooed around each eye.
The three of you continue towards the center of town, and the circle of stones.

The sky continues to darken. The buildings and trees cast no shadow, nor do you or the men beside you. Zebulen and his strange companion start chanting quietly as they near the back side of the blacksmith shop. The younger man's weapon bursts into flame, and your skin and clothes as well as Zebulen's, begin to shimmer. Strangely you can no longer feel the breeze that you see is still blowing. All is quiet.

"Don't be afraid to use that bow of yours..." He whispers, trying his best to look reassuring.

As the three of you round the corner of the shop, the brick in your stomach turns to butterflies: Twenty men, all of whom wear the emperors colors and bear staffs and wands stand around the circle facing outwards, apparently guarding it.

"The traitor is here!" Yells the first one to see Zebulen. The others run around to form a line between you and the stone circle.
"You are accused of stealing scrolls from the royal library and of constructing a powerful wondrous item in violation of the crown's holy law! Stand down!"
The men begin to chant.

Zebulen ignores them, turning towards the crowd of men and women peering out from windows and from behind corners and trees to see the spectacle unfold.
"Dear people! For too long the people of the Qin dynasty have been oppressed! I say no longer!" shouts Zebulen boldly, walking towards the stone circle and the angry men guarding it, his arms outstretched.
"The Holy Souelian Empire is not holy in the slightest! Pelor is displeased with the empire! Today is the day he turns his back on them, and the day we unite! Pelor hides his face even now!"

Just as he finishes his statement the sky darkens even more, to a dark amber, and a shiver runs up your spine. The people that aren't looking up already do so now, and begin to scream in terror.

The lightning and force spells that crackled around the emperor's men disappear, and with a low grunt and outstretched arms, the dark wizard sends a giant fireball from the sky down into their midst, killing a few instantly, and lighting the rest on fire!!
His companion sprints forward in a blur, cutting the outermost wizard cleanly in two! With a few arcane words black lightning jumps from Zebulen's staff and jumps from man to man, killing them as they scream in agony.
The wizards try desperately to cast spells in retaliation, but to no avail!
Red fire explodes from the tip of the younger man's naginata as he continues to cut them down like grass. Three are left. One breaks into a run. Zebulen hisses a few words the man's feet liquify, causing him to tumble and fall. His body explodes into a yellow pile of smoking goo as it hits the ground.

Two are left. The two dark wizards chant together and one man's eyes shrivel and disappear as he screams and chokes, dust shooting from his mouth in clouds. His clothes turn to ash in the wind, and his body collapses in a pile of dust and bones.

The last one throws down his staff and slowly backs up, palms out.
"Please..." he begs.
"You wish your god to save your pathetic life!? Then ASK HIM!!" bellows Zebulen, pointing skyward. Tears begin to well in the man's eyes. "What, have you no faith?" he demands.

The man looks up.
"Please--please Pelor, have mercy!"
He continues looking towards the sun, waiting, as if expecting to die. He slowly lowers his gaze.
But he doesn't see you.
He looks right past you, and past the darkly robed men. He shows no sign of having any sight at all, yet runs away hands outstretched, tripping and stumbling as he goes.

Only now do you look around. It seems some other people appear to be blinded, or partially blinded as well. People everywhere are crying and wailing. Some are shocked, some ran away as soon as the fight began.
Some, however, do not look surprised in the slightest. The wizards and sorcerers, travelers, traders, and merchants that have all come to town recently. Did they know this was coming?

Zebulen turns around and walks back to you.
"Tell the men that come to investigate exactly what you have witnessed here today, leaving nothing out, and adding nothing! Do you understand?" he asks quietly, his voice thick with foreboding. He waits for you to acknowledge his demand. "If you remain silent, I shall know. If you speak a half-truth or a lie, I shall know." he adds, holding up a large green crystal on a black chain, not unlike the green color of the potion you drank not a quarter of an hour ago. He then turns away and joins the younger man, who wipes the blood from his blade while he waits.

The dark duo walk slowly towards the stone circle, and are joined by members of the crowd. Eight more men and two walk up with them, some dressed in fine clothes, others dressed in the garb of beggars and simpletons.
Each person carries a staff or spear of some sort, and each one takes a position in front of one of the pillars, on the inside of the circle, and wait. In a few moments the sky begins to lighten, regaining its blue hue.

As the light of the early evening sun returns to the land, the wizards begin to chant. The symbols carved into the stone face of each obelisk begin to glow, and a bright violet light appears in the middle of the circle. It spins and widens, the center growing dark. The light stretches between the twenty or so feet between the stones, and the wizards turn and step to the side, exiting the circle.

Darkly dressed men appear from the darkness in the middle of the ring, light crackling around them as they exit.

A portal. A really big one...

Your brother and parents both live in this town, and although you live in the Qin'Yon province and your family is loyal to their lord, you doubt they would take Qinese nationalism to this level. (i.e. they could swing either way) As far as background info goes, you could stay here, see what happens, meet your wife and raise your son here, or you could flee and meet your wife and have your son somewhere else. It kinda depends on if you want your parents to die or not. (i'm thinking cataclysmic event where your wife and child are. If your parents are there too, 90% chance they also die...)

Artman77
2012-12-12, 01:00 AM
OOC: I think we can consider this flashback part 1, of 2. I was thinking you could briefly explain what Darian would do next, and why he might do over the next couple of years. Next I thought we could flesh out the whole wife/son/necromancer attack thing and give Darian's back story some real meat.

Some things to consider:
1. Do you stay here and see what happens, or flee?
2. When/how do your parents die (or don't they, and do they stay or flee?)
3. When/how do you meet your future wife?
4. How old would you like to be when you meet, and how old would you be when they die?
5. Any additional interesting tidbits?

Snowbluff
2012-12-12, 01:19 AM
Darian only stays as long as he has to. He reports to the people who follow, and his parents are dead. A stray lightning bolt must've killed them. Darian was not magician or forensic investigator, though. He couldn't tell for sure who killed them.

He travels west, into the Empire(?), in order to make a new life with the savings of his family and his skills as a cartographer.

Around he was 19, he met his future wife. He was 30 when his wife and his son (~age 7) died.

(I'll think of some other stuff later.)

Artman77
2012-12-12, 04:55 AM
Northeast would be into the empire. Sorry, still working on that map... The Qin'Yon province is in the southwestern part of the empire, making it's northern and eastern border closest to the center.

The black circle wizards and their ilk spread across the town like a plauge. Some run in fear, some greet them with open arms. Those that openly oppose them are swiftly dealt an agonizing death.

Your world beings to crumble as you realize with horror your parents are dead. A mixture of bubbling blood and ash covers the front of their bodies; your father's sword lays bloodied next to his right hand. You run to Timat's hut, hoping you are not too late.

Timat tries to calm you down, but the sadness in his eyes betray him; your brother is dead. During the eclipse, he says, something happened. Fredrich and your brother both were still high in they sky when the wind briefly changed directions and they fell to their death.

You run north along the shores of Lake Kuta to Kikoro, a trade city located on a major tributary between Kuta and Gold River.


-------------

Once in Kikoro, you befriend and stay with Ewakan Rominoka, a man harboring runaways from Shikesan. He tells you their city was also covered in darkness, and although there was no attack by Qinese rebels, the people of Kikoro are in a state of uncertainty and the followers of Pelor are troubled.
Within a few days a squadron of mageblades teleports into town assuring the townsfolk everything is under control. They take your statement and tell you that you have nothing to fear, the Black Circle has ceased it's attacks and has entered into negotiations with the imperial council.

Ewakan is a kind and generous man, making a living by trading and selling goods that come through town and taking care of the merchants' needs when they arrive.
Upon learning that you are more suited to hunting than you are to bartering, he suggests that you offer your services to some local merchants that travel up and down the Webo River to Gold River, since they often come into contact with wild animals, goblins, and the like.
You stay with him for a year or more because (insert reason here) until finally you leave because (insert reason here) .


-------------

For the next couple of years you successfully act as a guide to the Webo River merchants, and move on to more exciting ventures as a guide on the famous Gold River. The Gold River lies at the heart of the empire, serving as the major trade route between the Iron Mountains in the south and the Twin Seas to the north. Before long you hear of a lucrative opportunity in which a powerful family needs a guide to explore caves on their land that are rich in mineral deposits.

The city happens to be Romin, Ewakan's hometown. The town is located on Gold River and although the river serves as a border between the Qinese and the Opesan(imperial epicenter) provinces, Romin has remained surprisingly neutral.
The Aroso family bears a gold dragon rampant on a blue field as their coat of arms, and many members of their family are well versed in spellcasting.
They think you do an outstanding job at not only exploring the caverns, but later guiding their miners as well.

Upon learning that you have tried your hand at map-making, and seeing as how the caves can't be seen from the air, they ask you to make maps for them, so that you can retire from the hazardous caves and focus more on guarding the mineral carts with your bow as they travel through the woods.

Aaaaaaaaaannnd insert story of how you met your wife here...