Tales from the Road Less Traveled

The Chance of New Beginnings

Prologue

So it came to pass that in the concluding months of the Year of the Starfall, the year Thirteen Hundred, as reckoned according to the Calendar of Harptos, that great tome kept in Candlekeep, which records the years of the rising of humanity since the Great Shattering of the Elven Realms, that a certain Lord Baalthazar, the only Dragonborn noble enrolled within the Great Peerage of the Kingdom of Cormyr retired to his barony to govern in relative peace. More specifically, this dragon-blooded baron, master of the most northerly town within the kingdom, had returned from a daring adventure conducted during the month of Marpenoth and Uktar. This most noble baron boldly took the initiative and resounding dealt with the Raumatharrii giants who had claimed a fjord-top fortress known as Skullcrag Keep. This keep was situated nearly 30 leagues northwest of the western terminus of the small human realm of Telemark and it sat about a hundred feet directly overlooking a deep inlet of the Sea of Storms. It had been the main marshaling point for the giants of the distant and foul kingdom of Raumatharr to affect raids into the northern and eastern counties of Cormyr for decades. The dragon-blooded noble, whose origin, based on myriad rumors, was said to lie south of the near mythical Great Raurin Desert, which is said to exist below the strange and fabled realms collectively known as the lands of Al-Qadim, of the great sunburnt lands of Al-Zakhara, had led a band of his daring comrades across the Sea of Storms where they, against all odds, actually took the fortress in a brazen direct assault. In the end, Lord Baalthazar and his stalwart allies reigned triumphant and returned back to his barony of White Beard’s Landing with much loot and renown. Hence, upon the twentieth day of Uktar, Lord Baalthazar retired to his keep and disavowed campaigning for the foreseeable future. His decision was, of course, prudent as he could now fully initiate his plan to revitalize his most northerly barony of Cormyr without fear of any outside threat. This, then, forced his remaining companions to start contemplating their respective futures without his noble presence, within the context of continuing a life of adventure, where the possibility of great rewards were intertwined with the chance of a quick, abrupt and grisly death.


Uktar gave way to Nightal and the deep winter of northern Cormyr grabbed hold of the town of White Beard’s Landing by its throat and held fast. Indeed, citizens across the whole span of the County of North March hunkered down within their cottages, thatched dwellings or whatever they called their homes in order to pass the winter months in safety near their hearths with cheery fires. Yet, the warmth of the hearth did not comfort all who sat within earshot of it’s crackling song and sight of it’s dancing light. The goliath barbarian, Pavukan, during this time, continued to dwell in and around White Beard’s Landing, using it his main connection to Cormyrian society when he was not spending time in the highlands to the northwest. He could stand the hearth only for so long and then the cold snowy darkness of the lands outside seemed to beckon him incessantly. Meanwhile both Teodoro and Guillermo, “Ted and William”, in their adopted tongue of the Cormyrians, loved the hearths of others with its merriment and and opportunity. Yet, they felt empty and longed for more excitement so they both continued to use the barony of Lord Baalthazar much in the same way as Pavukan. They used it as a central location as they travelled, braving the elements, all across the County of North March, both restless and looking for adventure and they would return every-so-often and then depart south or west again, ever seeking and never quite finding anything to sate their wanderlust. The stoic and stalwart, Falin, however, spent the winter recruiting and training his growing Company of the Eldritch Griffins, while the pale and strange gnome wizard, indelibly known as Argpoodle devoured historical tome after historical tome in study as he endeavored to suss out any greater arcane knowledge that could be found within northern Cormyr. Furthermore, he would brave the cruel Sea of Storms during the season of Ice and Death upon the waves. Only the demented would attempt travel across the Sea of Storms during the winter months. Yet, he did so as he had, on occasion, found a crazy pirate or desperate merchant ship captain who would take him from White Beard’s Landing to the ice-rimmed fortress atop Skull Crag cliff that he now called his second home and back again as needed. Argpoodle’s fortress was being rebuilt and enhanced by its former inhabitants, those who were defeated but not killed by Argpoodle and his companions. Amongst their number was the frost giant who was the former master of Skull Crag, Prince Arghastan the Vile, the youngest son of the King of Raumatharr. Prince Arghastan had become recently disavowed due to his failure and loss of the fortress and his father refused his son’s ransom. Therefore, the pale gnome arcanist, chose to offer the fallen prince a deal. The prince accepted and Argpoodle of Skull Crag was fast becoming a name in both northern Cormyr and the North Lands as well.

In spite of all their fervor and personal drive as they each pursued their respective goals, both Falin and Argpoodle continued to associate with their half-elven friend, a bard by the name of Raehn “Ydae” Rhydaen. They had met her during Lord Baalthazar’s final quest rid his barony of the Raumatharrii giant threat and she had proven potential in the field. Raehn had stated that she hailed from the barony of Shadowdale, from within the County of Northdales, of the Cormyrian Duchy of Westvold. Raehn had received bardic training from when she lived in the duchy’s capital of Westvold and then proceeded to travel north looking for adventure and inspiration of verse. Raehn had found both via her association with Lord Baalthazar, Pavukan, Falin, Argpoodle and the tieflings who hailed from far away Allara. Raehn, Argpoodle and Falin, were able to form and nurture a type of friendship which allowed them the opportunity to meet at a tavern or two where they were able to exchange ideas about campaigning together for fame and fortune once the spring thaw commenced.

As the Year of the Starfall ended and the Year of the Trumpet began, the three companions had no idea what their gods or the fates had in store for them. But each one of them knew for certain that the stories of their individual and collective lives were not yet complete. Falin, Raehn and the strange little creature known as Argpoodle were more than ready to roll the metaphoric dice of chance and see what where the winds will take them.

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