This tale begins like many tales – With four people meeting in a chance encounter, in a tavern. They would not know it then, but they were bound for far greater things than to live an ordinary, mundane existence, and were destined to rise up above the masses, banish the darkness, and restore order to a chaotic world. A noble Dragonborn warrior, pure and just, who lived only for his companions, and would never, ever falter in his quest. An Eladrin assassin, though mysterious and crafty in his ways, had a pure soul, and had the warmest heart anyone could wish to encounter. A Tiefling warlock, though he was bound to a pact that could eventually damn his soul, sought only to restore the world, not matter what the personal cost. And the Eladrin priestess, who traveled the lands in her humble guise, bringing the blessings of her god to all those who needed them. These people were to become true legends, the heroes of a dying civilization that restored light to its full power, and fought off the darkness that would have otherwise consumed all existence.
Sadly, those people ran into a trap and were killed relatively early on. Instead, we follow four completely different people, much later on, in that same civilization. We begin this tale in earnest, with the meeting of four people, in a small tavern in the surviving sector of Arkhosia. By some strange quirk of fate, they came together, and it is these people who were are to actually follow. How they met is unknown. Some claim it was through an accident, whilst others say the Gods themselves orchestrated their meeting. Whatever the circumstances, so it was that the drunkard Vozerlet, the emotionless killer Fir’nae, the hell-bound pyromaniac Roger, and the anything-but-humble cleric known only as Lil’ Frankie came to meet. Down on their collective luck, the four decided to look into a recent contract that had been posted – For the head of the so-called “Goblin King of Arkhosia” to be delivered, ending the menace he had caused upon the realm for many a year. Preparing their weaponry of choice, the four left the relative safety of the walls of Arkhosia, and entered the ruins that lay beyond, eager for the considerable reward that was promised.
As they left the remnants of civilization, the four found themselves wandering the empty shell of what was most likely the merchant’s district. Looted shops, broken walls, doors, and windows, overgrown vegetation and the stench of decay were all that remained of the once brilliant city. Within a few minutes of wandering the ruins, the four found themselves in combat with a scout party of stunted, foul-smelling (and even worse-looking), marauding humanoids – Goblins. The four dispatched the handful of poorly armed humanoids with ease, and moved on, now fully aware that they were not the only search party within these ruins. Before long, they arrived near a street corner, where the four met for the first time their quarry – The Goblin King himself. Sitting casually upon a bench, he should have been an easy target, and the first adventure of the four should have ended far sooner than was expected.
As the four descended upon their foe, a sudden rumbling sound caught their attention. They paused, long enough to see a monstrous beast, with jaws enough to carry a grown man away with ease, and claws as sharp as a blade, erupt from the ground – Unwittingly, they had stumbled into the hunting grounds of an Anhkeg family. As the four turned their focus on the monster that had burst from the ground before them, the Goblin King made his escape (Although not before Vozerlet slammed the monster backward and into the bench the Goblin King was sitting on, crushing him). More of the Ahnkeg offspring burst from the ground, in defence of their parent, and were swiftly put down by the four heroes – Though they had obtained valuable materials from the foul beast, their quarry had managed to elude them.
Continuing their hunt, the heroes battled many more Goblins, until they stood before an enormous manor house, which seemed strangely intact for the setting it stood in. Though its windows were boarded up, and its door locked tightly, signs of activity could be made out within the building. The four broke into the manor (some more stealthily than others), and began investigating. Strangely, there was little dust to suggest that the manor had not been used recently, and in a dining room, there was even food set out (As poorly cooked and partially rotted as it was). The question was, for whom? Advancing up the stairs to the second floor of the manor, the four encountered two spirits, floating miserably around a bare room. They claimed to be the undying ghosts of the manor’s previous owners, bound to an eternal torturous existence through the works of a shaman – Not bound to the will of the shaman, but bound nonetheless to forever wander the halls of the manor until their curse was broken, and the shaman line destroyed. In exchange for the heroes’ word that they would do whatever they could to break the curse, the two ghosts would aid the heroes in whatever way they could. Providing both Fir’nae and Lil’ Frankie with knowledge of the manor’s layout, the four began to plan their assault on the top floor – If their ghostly knowledge was to be believed, where the Goblin King himself was holding a feast that very moment.
Out of curiosity of a crypt beneath the manor, the four decided to quickly investigate for anything they could use to their advantage, and then swiftly return to the task at hand. Roger and Vozerlet, as the most liable to do something eccentric and get themselves trapped down a 40-foot shaft, remained at the top of the manor, standing guard. The two Eladrin descended the passageway, and entered the crypt, unaware of the threat that crawled in the dark. In the midst of their investigations, they heard a faint noise – The sound of nails on stone. Advancing cautiously, the pair found the source of this noise clinging to the walls, hiding from the light as best as it could. A ghoul, clad in rags and splattered with blood, stared at the pair, its razor sharp teeth glinting in the light. Recalling her priestly training, Lil’ Frankie clutched her Holy Symbol, and channelled the wrath of her god to destroy the undead abomination that stood before them. The ghoul slammed into the ground, still once more, but the sounds they had heard continued in the darkness. The bold Eladrin fought for their lives, fending off the flesh-hungry ghouls, no matter what angle they arrived from. Even as the ghouls sought to escape the way the Eladrin had entered, Vozerlet intercepted them with a barrage of crockery, sending them plummeting back down the shaft. All was quiet once more, although their curiosity had almost ended two of the heroes’ lives prematurely, but a valuable lesson was learnt – The roof can hold threats just as horrific, if not more so than those that present themselves plainly.
Done with the ghoul-ridden crypt, the four planned out their attack on the Goblin King himself. It was a relatively simple plan, detonating a large explosion in the room, followed by a two-pronged assault to pincer the Goblin’s, and force them into a chokepoint from which there was no escape. Fir’nae and Lil’ Frankie ascended in a Dumb Waiter, whilst Vozerlet and Roger stood at the bottom of a metal spiral staircase, and rattled the stairs, attracting the guards above. The two door guards began walking down the steps, which were promptly electrocuted by Vozzerlet’s lightning breath, stunning the two guards, who tumbled down the stairs and broke their necks. Not wasting a second, Roger and Vozerlet gutted the two corpses, and (much to Vozzerlet’s despair) stuffed them with bottle after bottle of alcohol they had looted along the way. They sew them back up, attached a fuse, and with a handy scroll Fir’nae had stolen from a goblin, Roger brought the two guards back as mindless zombies under his command. Meanwhile, the Eladrin had dealt with a pair of undead chefs chopping aimlessly away at a pile of foul-looking food, and prepared for their cue to attack the room – Precisely five seconds after they heard a loud explosion, and lots of screaming goblins.
The plan worked perfectly, the two walking explosives clearing out much of the room, leaving only the hardiest or most fortunate alive (and intact – Most of those attending the feast had their upper bodies exploded), and the four heroes burst in, and set about clearing out those remaining. Roger and a goblin Shaman engaged in a magical duel, Vozerlet took the fight to an undead servitor, Lil’ Frankie dealt with both a Hobgoblin bodyguard and a zombie, and Fir’nae’s instinctive assassin’s mindset kicked in, as he advanced upon their final foe – The Goblin King of Arkhosia. In a brief duel, even as the Goblin King attempted to flee Fir’nae’s blade, the menace who’s reign had brought death and misery to the inhabitants of Arkhosia met his end – But not before he tried his last trick up his battered sleeves. He drew out a vial of Alchemist’s fire, a potent explosive, and limply threw it forward, in one last vain attempt to bring his assassins down with him. As Vozerlet finished off the goblin shaman (launching him out of the third storey window of the house), Fir’nae hurled himself forward, making a desperate dive to catch the vial before it burnt down the entire manor. At the last possible moment, he barely caught the bottle, denying the Goblin King his last laugh.
And thus ends the first of the adventures of the four heroes, with them returning victorious with the head of the hated foe of Arkhosia, drunk with the success they had found (Some more literally than others). Little did they know, that such a simple act would set in motion events that would rock an entire nation to its very core, with them located at the epicentre of those events…