A group of adventurers gather in a haberdashery, discussing prices with the shopkeep. One of them in particular, quite articulate, heads most of the dealings. Antonius Robbins. The name comes quickly to mind. It is a motley group. A pious priest, clad in brightly colored, golden robes. A mysterious, cloaked man standing in the shadows. Another, trained in the arcane bearing the symbols of a dark raven. And the last, flamboyantly whipping his tail about, bearing more than slightly demonic features. They arrived at the small shop trailing a street urchin. Looking for nothing in particular yet bent on a singular purpose. They are preparing to travel.
They come away with assorted goods, but the day is nearing its end and they must be on their way. They were sent to find safe passage through a mountain. A new trade route, they say. With pack mule in tow, they set off.
Somewhere in the forests surrounding the base of the mountain, they travel off the beaten path. Soon they happen upon a cave. A direct route through the mountain? They can’t be too sure. They do not have time to think upon it for much longer. They are beset by kobolds.
The battle is fierce and the kobolds are vicious. But the group is fiercer. They fight together, complementing one another. The kobolds do not stand a chance.
As the last reptilian corpse is thrown onto the pile, a scroll is stuck fast onto the trunk of the nearby tree. A warning and advertisement, at the same time. The one clad in raven markings sets them ablaze using nothing but his mind. They make camp and settle in for the night.
As the new day dawns, the group readies for the journey into the mountain. A heavily armored man accompanies them, although it is not clear when he joined them. No matter. They set off into the cave nonetheless. With lights ablaze, they march inside, brazenly. A few steps into the cave, the floor drops from beneath them and they fall. Most are able to hold fast and grab onto the edge. The garrulous bard is not so lucky. He falls to the bottom, struck unconscious. The others recover from the trap and bear down for the oncoming attack.
These kobolds fare no better than their brothers outside. Ropes are lowered into the trap cage below to retrieve their companion. The priest and the heavily armored man climb down. Upon descending they find a small alcove carved into the cave wall. From it emerges a small girl, frightened and pale, covered in filth. She does not look well. The priest speaks kind words to her and promises her safety. As the armored man climbs up, the priest sends her up to follow.
As they reach the top, the cloaked man and the others return to the pit after having dealt with the bodies of their assailants. The armored man reaches the top first and begins to turn to help the small girl climb out. As she reaches the top, the cloaked man finally catches a glimpse of her. His eyes widen almost imperceptibly and his already pale face grows paler. In a fluid motion, a glint of silver flashes from his cloak as he glides towards her. Just then, the armored man begins to realize and moves to draw his own weapon. But it is too late. In the span of half a second, the cloaked man drives the point of his dagger into the little girl. Slowly, she slumps down, her frail body barely making a noise against the cavern floor, as her breath leaves her.
The others can only look in shock…
In the darkness of his small bedroom, a man jolts awake from the sound of thunder. Rain pours down outside the small abbey. Beyond it, he can hear the distant crash of waves upon the shore. His dreams have been dark of late. A bad omen. He hopes it is not a sign of things to come. He settles back down onto his small cot and thinks on the coming day. Come the morning, he will travel into the city to answer the council’s call. For what, he does not know, but perhaps it will benefit him. His family. And this city. But for now he must try to get some rest. He will need his strength.