Aeon had finished copying down the tome from memory, and began to recount to the party a tale of four adventurers who had met by happenstance in the town of Ebikon, 400 some odd years ago, in the Kingdom of Alterone, before the Dark Occupation. X’arxilaax, a dragonborn sorcerer from the kingdom of Eruna, was in Alterone on a diplomatic mission to negotiate peace with the humans, now that there were humans visiting his home continent on a much more frequent basis. His trip through Alterone was mostly uneventful, except for the fact people had never seen a dragonborn before and freaked out at the sight of him. He sat down at a local outdoor eatery and tried to order some soup and a glass of water, but the restaurant owner, Grunhilda, tried shooing him away with a broom. Helena, a young high elf girl, noticed the dragonborn from across the eatery. She was with her “boyfriend” at the time, who bankrolled her way into the kingdom after some unfortunate events in Kalen. X’arxilaax produced a pile of gold, the universal language, to get Grunhilda to calm down, which she promptly did. With gold coins in her eyes, Helena left her boyfriend at the table and tried to ingratiate herself to X’arxilaax. Lanalus, a hunter in search of rumors of “dark folk” in the east, thought that this entire situation was quite amusing and tried to figure X’arxilaax out. Was he a dragon that needed destroying? Milo, bard extraordinaire, also saw the confusion and thought it might be good inspiration for a song.
The party chatted for awhile, and Grunhilda seemed to be much more at ease. Wolfgang, her husband, asked the party if they could deliver a package for him to the next town over, Pal’El. His brother, Bernhard, was opening up a new restaurant, and he and his brother had hoped to start a chain. The party happily agreed, after all, Pal’El was on the way to the city of Alterone where the “Bequethal” ceremony was going to be held in a few days. The Bequethal was a quadricentennial ceremony, where the elves bestowed a gift upon the humans. Usually the gift was a blessing for the new harvest, or something ceremonial, but this year, the gift was supposed to be something really special. Milo wanted to be the lead performer for the Bequethal ceremony, and the rest of the party had their own reasons for wanting to go to Alterone.
Milo did some checking around, and with his golden tongue, was able to procure some information before the party left. King Ordren Eluhil was rumored to be quite ill, which was odd, because the man was very robust and healthy. He would go swimming and hunting almost daily, and act as a role model for other citizens. Another rumor that had been swirling about was that the citizens of Pal’El were cultists, worshippers of the god of Rogues, Bel the Lord Thief. This was probably just a horrible rumor, and Milo didn’t pay much attention to it. The party set off to deliver their package.
Upon arriving at Pal’El, Helena noticed that the town was eerily silent. She saw a man, dead, crushed underneath a wagon. The smell of fresh blood was in the air. Lanalus used his ranger powers to sense if there were humanoids in the distance. Despite Pal’El being a city of over 1,000 people, he only was able to sense five beings. One was definitely human, the other four, were unclear as to what they were. The party walked into the city. It was a massacre. Men, women, children were all cut down, their dead bodies left to rot in the streets. Helena saw people hacked in half or lying crushed under a wagon. The party made haste to where Lanalus had sensed people. Lanalus and Helena stealthily made their way to what appeared to be an open air forge. The building had two floors, the bottom being where all the metal work was, and the top probably where the blacksmith himself lived. There were 4 men near the forge, clad in white and silver full plate, carrying long swords and shields. Milo quickly recognized the insignia on the shields as none other than the “Knights of Kantor.” The party was shocked. The Knights of Kantor were the army of Alterone, knights who had consecrated themselves to destroying evil and protecting good in the world. The party engaged in combat and Lanalus was able to do quite a lot of damage with his twin blades. The party unmasked the culprits, and found to their astonishment, all four warriors were human. Milo cast detect magic, and found out some magic was afoot, but when he tried to dispel magic, the bodies dessicated almost immediately, leaving behind only the sword, shield ,etc. The party went upstairs and found Anna, a young girl hiding in a pile of her father’s smithy work. Her father had given her a shield to defend herself with. The shield was a lion’s head, but splattered with blood. The party rescued Anna and asked her what had happened.
“The men on horses came in this morning. People gathered to greet them, and everyone seemed so happy. Then, the men said something about…hermetics? Heremetics? I don’t remember the word. Then, I heard lots of screaming. My father gave me this shield and told me to run and hide. There was so much screaming…” Anna was distraught, and the party tried to console her as best they could. The party opened the package they had been tasked to deliver, and found it was filled with war memorabilia. It seemed Wolfgang and Bernhard were both veterans, and that once they got out of the army, they planned to open a chain of restaurants across Alterone. Wolfgang had given his brother some recipes, as well as old knick knacks and favors from their days as soldiers. It seems that their dream would never be fully realized. The party left the scene of the massacre and headed to Alterone.
Alterone was decked out in anticipation of the Bequethal. There were white banners everywhere, emblazoned with the symbol of Neltak, the god of law and order. There were also standards for the Elven royal family, the Everstars. The city was abuzz with people, some who just wanted to party, and others who dressed up as elves themselves to welcome their new guests. Lanalus immediately found Anna’s aunt, and gave her over to family members. Lanalus also went to see the captain of the guard, and reported what the party witnessed at Pal’El, handing over a longsword, emblazoned with the symbol of the Knights of Kantor. The guardsman believed Lanalus’ story, and told him to keep the story on the down low for the moment while he consulted with his superiors. Lanalus nodded and went to follow his comrades.
Milo wanted to be the main star of the Bequethal, and found the master of ceremonies, a rather portly man with long black hair and a vein popping out of his forehead. The master of ceremonies was yelling at his assistant to move the banner to the left. Lanalus remarked that perhaps they shouldn’t have waited until right before the Bequethal to get everything ready. The master of ceremonies kept screaming at his assistant to adjust the banner correctly. X’aarxilax said he had a solution to the problem, and breathed a cone of cold to freeze both the assistant, and the banner, in place. After a few more snarky interchanges, the master of ceremonies had the guards remove everyone except Milo. Milo convinced the master of ceremonies to let him be the opening act. After all, he knew elven music and elven customs, and would make for a great opening show. The master of ceremonies agreed, and the party waited for the Bequethal. Before the Bequethal, the party successfully got an audience with Erathor, the royal advisor. The pretext was that X’aarxilax was a representative from the Dragonborn, and wished to establish diplomatic relations with the humans now that the two species had made contact. Lanalus presented Erathor with evidence of the massacre at Pal’El, but expressed his misgivings that the Knights of Kantor were truly responsible. During the battle, the Knights were grunting at each other in a language Erathor was not familiar with, and that the bodies had disintegrated when they were investigated. Erathor said any talk would have to wait after the Bequethal, but that he would investigate this matter with the utmost seriousness.
The Bequethal ceremony had begun with a gong. About two dozen elves appeared at the gates of the city, marching solemnly in procession. At the front of the group were two elves, Princess Aya, and her brother, Prince Feldor, wearing silver laurel circlets and wearing pure silver robes. At the same time, the princes of Alterone had made an appearance. King Ordren was conspicuously missing, however his two sons, Aelfar and Mordecai, came out of the palace. Aelfar was the crown prince, the immediate successor to the crown, but he was a sickly young man who needed his handmaidens help to walk. He had platinum blonde hair and clear eyes. His brother, Mordecai, was far more robust, tall, and clearly athletic. The gong went off to start the ceremony. This was Milo’s cue.
Milo used feather fall to float down from a nearby tower, and once he landed, began playing a lively elven ballad. He then was able to recount 20 generations of the genealogy of the Alteronian royal family, from memory, and then delivered a stirring speech, announcing the gift the elves were to bestow upon the humans. The performance was so convincing, several of the elves in the procession had thought they missed their cue. The elves unveiled their gift: the Light Forge. The Light Forge itself was a translucent forge. Princess Aya had stated that the Light Forge was built with “Dwarven Metal and Elven Magic, and would find its potential in Human hands.” Milo ended his song and then used Dimension Door as a final exit, amidst the applause and cheers of the audience.
The Bequethal was going well, until a woman went amongst the crowds and started raving. Lanalus recognized the woman as Anna’s aunt, and the woman had Anna in tow. She was screaming about the Knights of Kantor and how they had murdered her brother. The crowd as aghast at the woman’s accusation. Lanalus sighed; he had tried his best to keep it under wraps. Prince Feldor turned to Princess Aya and remarked “If we give the humans the light forge, they may end up just killing each other off.” Aya scoffed. The Bequeathal ended suddenly. Erathor, the royal advisor and confidant to the crown princes, invited the players into the palace in his personal study. Erathor had brought both prince Aelfar and prince Mordecai into his study to talk. The heroes retold the story of what they say at Pal’El, including what Anna had saw. Aelfar looked horrified, but Mordecai seemed angry. Mordecai expressed his frustration, saying that the story sounded made up and that he didn’t have to sit there and listen to nonsense. Mordecai left in a huff, sneering at his older brother, while Aelfar left with the help of his handmaiden.
Erathor made all the servants leave and checked that the doors and windows were secured. Erathor told the party that in fact King Ordren was dying, from a sudden ailment, and that the two princes, Aelfar and Mordecai, were at each other’s throats. Aelfar was sick since he was a boy, of poor constitution, but since he was the older brother, he was the next in line for succession. Mordecai is none too pleased about it, and doesn’t believe his brother would make for a strong ruler. This recent development would definitely make the Knights of Kantor look bad, and would disgrace prince Aelfar, because the crown prince is the de facto Grand Marshall Priest of the Knights of Kantor should a war break out. Erathor fears that someone inside the palace has some connection to this, and since the heroes are all outsiders, he thought they’d have the best luck in investigating. Erathor gave the party access to most of the palace, and instructed his servants to be as helpful as possible.
Helena decided to check Mordecai’s bedroom. They confirmed with a servant that Mordecai was outside doing sword practice; something he often did when frustrated or angry. Helena expertly snuck into Mordecai’s bed chamber, and found a diary locked in a drawer. The diary was mostly bland: Mordecai was worried about whether or not his brother could truly succeed the throne, and worried for the future of Alterone. The notable entries were about his new paramour, Mizzandrin, the court’s royal alchemist. They had started to hit it off about a month ago and were clearly lovers. Helena made sure to put back the diary and leave everything as she left it. Meanwhile, X’irxilaax was talking with the contingent of elves who had come to teach the humans new magic spells. The elves were especially interested in Dragonborn magic, and requested that X’irxilaax give them a demonstration of his power. X’irxilaax used his acid splash spell, melting a target dummy. The elves were mostly unimpressed, especially with a cantrip, remarking that “Dragonborn magic must be low level.” X’irxilaax bristled at the description, and used a Lightning bolt to show off his prowess. The elves were impressed, and even more impressed because they noticed that Dragonborn do not draw their powers from a God, the way elves, dwarves, and humans do. Instead, the Dragonborn seem to be able to call energy from the Maelstrom directly.
The mystery of the massacre weighed heavily on everyone’s mind. Erathor had given the party several people to talk to: Crown Prince Aelfar, Prince Mordecai, Mizzandrin the Court Alchemist, Ulius the Archivist, Princess Aya, Prince Feldor, and Priest Avonius of the Church of Neltak. Hopefully the party can uncover the mystery.