The cities of Kerse and Almas, while dwelling in different provinces, they are in a similar region and any diplomatic relations through trade or otherwise need to be handled by traveling a long path that leads directly through the Five Kings Mountains. The trek is long and sometimes dangerous so the people usually try to travel in large caravans to avoid being attacked. That is where our heroes are found, in this vast caravan headed for Almas.
The trek was calm and steady moving with little excitement then they reached the Five Kings Mountains where the paths become narrow and it is more likely to get lost, separated, or cornered. After a while of traveling through the canyons and ridges the caravan passed by a lone city built out of the side of the rock's edge. As it passed music and chatter could be heard coming from inside the walls. They were the sounds of a festival of great celebration. The singing and laughter reached the very hearts of our heroes as well as a few other travelers beckoning them to come join. The caravan could not stop however. They needed to reach the valley by nightfall for the safety of the people but the leader did agree to allow these select few to join the party and meet up with the rest of the caravan in the morning.
Our heroes rushed in to embrace the activities and their hearts were filled with excitement and need to engulf themselves deep in every part of the festivities. They partied late into the night until they were too exhausted to do anymore. A few rooms were rented at the local inn and they drifted to sleep fully satisfied with the fun they had.
The following morning our heroes were hit with great surprise to find the entire city abandoned and in shambles. Walls were crushed and entire buildings reduced to nothing but rubble with erosion to imply that the city has had to have been in this state for hundreds of years. Thick layers of dust covered every surface and every item showed its age. The other travelers, after seeing this destruction without explanation, ran for their lives out of the city walls. Our heroes however desired to get to the bottom of their curiosity. The names of these valiant heroes were the following: Beatrix Bubkins, an unsettling elven witch, Gareth Blackwood, a couragious human fighter, Scar Moonwalker, a rough halfling hunter, Doogie Bubbletrousers, a holy dwarven cleric, and finally Lupür a mysterious drow inquisitor.
While there was a thick feeling of unease in the air and many of this party thought it best, dispite their curiosity, to leave and meet up with t he caravan, Lupür immediately blocked the way and insisted they all stick together to uncover the mystery of the city. The rest agreed and they began to search the town. They quickly noticed that throughout the city there were transparent bodies going about their daily lives as if nothing was wrong. It was clear that while our heroes could see them, they were utterly oblivious of the living beings staring at them. The party made its way into the center of the city searching every building for some clues to what had happened to these people. In one of the small shops that could only be believed to be the book shop they found a journal on the counter with only a few entries but these entries revealed that a mysterious yet some-what dark happening had occurred. (for full transcript check the media library)
In exiting the shop and gathering in the center of the courtyard our heroes discussed their next point of action. After a small discussion it was decided to head to the castle at the highest point of the city to see if the steward who was long since dead, had left any hints towards the strange happenings. Just as they began to leave the courtyard a small pack of three wolves jumped in their path, snarling and looking toward their next meal. As vicious as these wolves might have been, our heroes made quick work of them and continued on their way.
They reached the castle and cautiously entered. As they reached the center of the large room noticed that hung upon each wall was an enormous tapestry. This tapestry depicted a dwarf standing upon a hill holding a small object above his head that emitted great light and at his feet was a gathering of what could only be interpreted as humans looking up at him. While they stood examining this tapestry, to their surprise, a giant black widow spider dropped from the ceiling and began to engage them. With great tactical prowess our heroes surrounded the spider and killed it within seconds but little did they know, its baby had dropped as well in an attempt to save its mother. Without fear the party killed it as well and both threats were equally neutralized.
Seeing as there was no other dangers the party ascended the stairs to the throne room. The room was empty and quiet with no manner of evidence to be seen that could answer their questions. Gareth in his disappointment sat himself in the throne to think and without warning came a voice billowing from the silence. "Get off my throne!" Another translucent being appeared before him. In the shock of seeing this sudden apparition both Scar and Lupür were startled and they ran for cover. The others however were unmoved, Gareth least of all. He looked at the being and simply asked, "What happened here?"
With great remorse in his face, Lord Frederick Redbow (the spirit of the steward of Orrinshire), explains, "It was all my fault. Greed is a dangerous thing. It's a shame I had to learn that lesson too late. I took too many things for granted and it made me lose sight of what is most important. Orrinshire used to be a great and wealthy city and I was a key part in making this city so great. Long ago a small group of dreamers along with myself came from a far away land in search of wealth and riches. We had each grown tired of our lives in the lower class and dreamed of something much greater. Knowing that the Five Kings Mountains are primarily inhabited by dwarves we decided to risk it all because we also knew that the dwarves in this region were extremely successful in the building of their civilizations due to the plentiful nature of the ground under the mountains. We put two and two together and decided to move and ask the dwarves if we could attempt to start a new life in their lands.
To our surprise, the dwarves graciously invited us into their lands with open arms. They lead us right here. Along with their unexpected hospitality, the leader of the dwarves at the time named Eristor, handed me a stone of amber with a glowing red center about the size of my palm. He looked me straight in the eye and said, 'This is the key to our success and it will be the key to yours. Keep it safe and protect it with your life. May you forever grow and prosper.
The stone was called, The Stone of the City. At first I was skeptical of its power. I thought this stone was nothing more than just a token of some kind but nevertheless we got to work and started mining. As we dug deeper we all noticed that with each day that passed we would grow less and less tired. We would work later without fatigue. The hunger to find more grew as well and we found ourselves spending all of our free moments in the mines. No matter how long we dug the precious metals and valuables never depleted. It almost seemed as though the ores were replenishing. Sure enough our city grew and word spread about our success. The fact that a settlement of humans was prospering in the Five Kings was unheard of but extremely enticing to other humans and many came to join in. The city grew in size and we grew in numbers. It was like every person that came fell under the same spell and began to work tirelessly to build the city. It became clear that there was something to this little rock.
As the words of Eristor echoed in my head from that day I knew the stone deserved great respect and care. In an effort of thanking that great dwarf the citizens of Orrinshire set apart one day a year to celebrate the giving of the stone. We called it Eristor's Day. The whole city held a great debt to Eristor and for his extremely generous gift.
As time passed on our human nature began to take over and the greed of gaining more wealth began to cloud the judgment of each and every person living in the city limits. We became obsessed with gold and precious things and a certain level of contention surfaced as each person coveted the belongings of one another. Whatever we had was never enough and we always wanted more. This my friends is why I feel it is my fault for what happened.
I lost sight of what was most important and I took for granted the amazing gift I was blessed with and on one fateful Eristor's Day my guard was down as I engulfed myself in the festivities happening in the city center. While we were all distracted the stone was stolen from the chest it was locked in that rested in the storeroom. I carelessly assumed that hiding it in a common place would be enough. I was foolish and because of my foolishness we lost everything.
As soon as the stone was gone we began to notice the effects immediately. The city itself began to wither away and crumble. Entire buildings would begin to crack at the foundations and even sometimes fall. The gold began to turn to dust and the precious stones and gems lost their color and beauty. Even the people were aging fast and dying left and right. If they didn't die on the outside they died on the inside as their morale began to diminish. The people died but their spirits continued as though nothing had happened at all. As I am sure you saw, they wander forever in the in-between, stagnant in their mediocrity.
After many years of pondering, the only thing I can determine is that it seems as though the stone took back everything it had given along with the very souls of those who reaped the benefits it gave so plentifully. Every year on Eristor's Day the city is restored only for the day so that we must relive the day in which we lost the stone. I believe that I have been cursed to watch the subjects of my mistakes and neglect suffer for eternity without end. It is all my fault."
Gareth looked at him after listening to the dark tale and asked, "So would you say that if we were to find the stone and bring it back, would that put thing back to normal?"
"With the return of the stone our souls will be released to the afterlife." Lord Frederick replied. "The city would have to be rebuilt if anyone wanted to return it to its former glory but I am afraid that the time for my generation has passed. We have been trapped for so many years that all we need is to pass on to whatever comes next."
"Where would we start?" Gareth asked.
"There wasn't much evidence to tell us who stole the stone but it was commonly believed that whoever took it had to have come from the mines and only could have escaped through them as well. I just do not understand how because only those with access to the mines were those within these very walls and all of them died hundreds of years ago. However, if it were me I would start there. If needs be you may rest here and gather your strengths and enter in the morning. No one has entered those mines in centuries so there is not telling what may reside in there."
Therefore the party rested.