SESSION 001 - THE VILLAGE OF KLEINMERE
Tomorrow brings the start to my LEGACY the Path of Heroes Campaign, set in the World of Greyhawk. Below you will find the introduction that I sent out to my players, setting the scene for the session to come.
STARDAY, 01 NEEDFEST (MID WINTER) 579CYThe week of Needfest marked the coming of the New Year and was celebrated with a week of festivities throughout the Flanaess. It was a celebration of life in the most frigid and miserable of seasons, a time of merrymaking and overindulgence.The village of Kleinmere, like many other villages across the Oerth, was a hum of activity, as the villagers prepared for the week’s activities. The highlight of the festival in this particular village was the Winter Solstice, which was celebrated on the fourth day of Needfest. The Winter Solstice was also known as the Midwinter Night or Dark Time, as some of the older patrons of the Old Faith referred to it. It was also the longest night of the year on Oerth. The Solstice occurred when Luna was completely dark and only Celene was visible in the night sky. In celebration of this night the villagers decorated the village and their homes with yellow candles placed on their windowsills and evergreen branches covered the pathways leading to their front doors.
The marketplace was also in the process of being prepared for the festivities, with candles and magical lights covering the many stalls. The area that made up the market space was also covered with the same evergreen branches. In the centre of the market place tables were in the process of been stacked with assortment of different foods, prepared by the villagers in celebration of the holidays. The food would be shared amongst the villages during the festivities of the coming week. The foods include freshly baked breads, pies, pastries, dried meats, cheeses, nuts and fruits. In honour of the Feast of Fools, Mayor Roderic had sent his head huntsmen Bren into the forest to trap a deer for the occasion. The deer would be spitted and roasted on an open fire in the market place. The juices from the roasting meat would drizzle down on to a tray of roasting vegetables. It was customary for thanks to be given to Beory the Oerth Mother, in form of small offering by the villagers of Kleinmere on this occasion.
The Wayward Inn sported a number of fine locally produced meads and wines for its patrons to consume over the festive period. Fenwick, proprietor of the Wayward Inn, was especially proud of his, “Spiced Cinnamon Mead.” It was of his own creation, but truth be told, and only after a couple of tankards of his own mead would he admit, that his recipe might have been influenced by some mead he had sampled in the town of Verbobonc, some winters back. The pungent spiced cinnamon and honeyed flavoured drink was best served warmed, with a fresh stick of cinnamon and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg to individual taste. In celebration of the Winter Solstice and the Feast of Fools, Fenwick had prepared a special batch of his mead, two large barrels in fact. The usual spiced cinnamon and honeyed flavoured one and a new surprise recipe. Fenwick had been very secretive about the new recipe and his patrons would have to wait for the last day of the festival to sample the new recipe.
The last day of the Needfest festivities was concluded with the “Feast of Fools.” It was on this night that the “Fool” was granted the privilege to run the village for exactly seven hours, from sunset to midnight. How the fool was chosen, differed from village to village, but how it was done in the village of Kleinmere was a simple process. Whoever received the most votes was appointed the title of, “The Fool of Kleinmere.” Even Mayor Roderic had to be content with the fool during the time of the festival, and this was too many a villagers’ delight.
Mayor Roderic stood on his front porch and looked out at the villagers as they hustled about getting the village ready for the upcoming festivities … he wasn’t pleased! He took his frustration out by kicking one of the large yellow candles from his porch. The candle landed nearby with sizzle in a puddle of melting snow. Watching the melting snow extinguish the candles flame brought a small bit of satisfaction to the mayor’s face. Roderic pulled his fur-lined yellow suede cloak tighter around his portly frame before heading inside, running his fingers through his receding hairline.
These damned festivities always put a drain on his finances. The poor trade and bad harvest of the past year, and now these wretches expected him to pay for the festivities. The thought of this fuelled his anger even more. How could he not pay! Lord Connor of Penwick would be not pleased, if he heard word back that his vassals were unhappy. He didn’t ask for this, he didn’t ask to be sent to this place. He was a man of title, he had paid his dues. He should be sitting dinning in the high quarter of Verbobonc, enjoying the festivities. For now he would comply and smile, but soon he would have his day.
Darius looked out across the marsh through the window of his cottage; the winter snow lay thick across the ground. The old man felt a shiver run down his back as the cold wintery wind blew the cottage door open. He had meant to get the latch fixed. Had it been a year already? Pulling the door closed, Darius braced the wooden chair he had been sitting on against the door. Walking over to crude stone hearth, the old man stoked the coals with the metal rod that lay close by. With the fire stocked the he leaned down to place some more wood into the fire. The fire crackled and flared to life as the dry wood landed into the burning coals. Darius found himself momentarily lost in time, as he watched the wood burning. The burning wood stirred old, dark memories, memories of a different time of his life. He had been a different man then, a younger man, a foolish man and he had paid the price.
Darius had fled his former life in Verbobonc and ended up in the small upstart village of Kleinmere, but the village wasn’t for him. He couldn’t find the solace head needed in the village, so he left after a few months with some supplies and set out into the marshlands known as the Fens of Tor. It was here that Darius found the solace that he sought, the solace that had eluded him for all this time. He had finally found a place he could call home. Sudden anger flared up in the old man as he pounded his fist into the cottage wall, “I will find a cure, my beloved,” whispered Darius, as he looked at the figure laying in the cot at the far end of the room. She had been his saviour, now he would be hers. He would set out at first light and head for the village of Kleinmere; he would find answers he needed to save his beloved Irriana. But, before he could leave, Darius first needed to tend to Irriana. He would need to find a woodland friend to watch over her while he was away, in case her condition got worse.
Markus du Monte had been sent by his father to live with his uncle Roderic in the village of Kleinmere, a matter he would not discuss. It wasn’t long after his arrival that his uncle had got fed up with his rebellious attitude and had sent him to live with his head huntsman Bren. He sat on his bed oiling the blade of his axe, remembering Bren’s instruction as he ran his whetstone along the weapons edge; the whetstone had to be rubbed with the grain of the metal, in one direction only or the blade would be dulled. The old ranger had taught him this and many things within a few months of his arrival in Kleinmere. Bren had left at dawn to go on the hunt for Mayor Roderic. The mayor wanted a deer for the Winter Solstice and Bren would only return once he had caught one. Markus knew he would be given the duty of cleaning the deer, when the old huntsman returned with his quarry.
Placing his great axe back on its rack, Markus carefully packed away his cleaning kit that he used to maintain his weapon. It would be a few more hours before Bren returned, that is if Bren returned this evening and he didn’t feel like staying in and waiting for the ranger. With a quick wash of his hands, a fresh shirt, his winter cloak and Markus was on his way to the inn. He had a few coins in his pouch which was good, as Fen would surely have some spicy roasted potatoes cooking in his oven. Nothing like Fen’s spicy potatoes and a tankard of ale or two too lift your spirits on cold winters afternoon. With that thought in mind Markus soon found his mind thinking of Sasha as he walked towards the inn. The last time he had seen her was at the Wayward Inn, when he had clumsily split his tankard of mead over her dress. He might just be in luck and bump into her again.
Erehwon carried the large barrel of spirits over his shoulder that Fenwick had ordered from his foster family’s farm. He had been in the village now for just over two years and still had no memory of his past, other than the single childhood memory of a town called Narwell. A town he later learned from a passing merchant was located on the Wild Coast. Absentmindedly, Erehwon ran his finger along the scar on his brow, as the sweat trickled down the side of his face. It was cold out, but somehow he always managed to build up a sweat.
Whenever he touched the scar, he found his thoughts drifting back to the last memory that he had of his past. Whoever had done this to him, had wanted him dead. How he had made it to the Sheppard’s farm was beyond him. The last thing he remembered was a sharp pain to the head, warm blood running down the side of his face and him falling to the snow covered ground …. And then everything had gone black. His assailants had left him for dead. Still he wanted answers, but for now he preferred to be alive. He wasn’t in any hurry to awaken old demons from his past.
It was Needfest, a start to a new year and a time for celebration and knowing Fenwick, he would have brewed a large batch of his cinnamon and honey mead for the festivities. The half-orc planned to spend the holidays in the village and enjoy the celebrations; after all it wasn’t often that he got to spend time in Kleinmere. He had some coin in his pocket and the Sheppards only needed their provisions by the end of the week. All was good. Maybe he would see his friend Duerin at the Wayward Inn. Come to think of it, Duerin was the closest person that he could call a friend. There were the Sheppards and Fenwick, but they were different.
Duerin sat with his back against the wall in the Wayward Inn’s common room, the inn was hive of activity. The smell of roasting meats drifted from Fenwick’s kitchen to fill common room with a rich, pungent aroma of herbs and spices. This had left the young dwarf quite hungry. It was late afternoon and the inn was starting to fill up with locals. He had been rather excited earlier that afternoon, when Brother John had told him that he would be going to Hommlet on church business. Now he was not so sure if he was ready. He hadn’t travelled this far from the village before. He took another swig of the warm spiced cinnamon and honeyed mead from the tankard that Fenwick had brought him earlier. Somehow the mead always seemed to help him clear his mind.
Duerin found his thoughts drifting back to the day Brother John had pulled him from the rubble of the cave in. The first thing he remembered seeing was the light reflecting of off the old priest’s holy symbol. It was a starburst of rubies, the holy symbol of St. Cuthbert. In the coming days the young dwarf found himself more and more in the company of the aging human priest, listening to the teachings of St. Cuthbert. By the second day he knew he had found his calling.
“Stoney,” shouted the half-orc as he spotted the dwarf sitting in his usual spot. The young dwarf was pulled from his thoughts, hearing his name being called. A name that Erehwon knew irritated the young dwarf more than an empty tankard of mead itself. “Stoney!” He heard the half-orc shout across the room again. It made him grit his teeth.
After the half-orc had delivered the barrel of spirits to Fenwick he grabbed a tankard of mead from one of the serving girls. The half-orc took a silver noble from his money pouch in payment for the mead and made his way over to the table where his friend Duerin sat, or as the half-orc liked to call him, “Stoney!”
Malek watched from his vantage point as the villagers went about their business in the small village. “How easy it would be to kill the lot of them …” he thought? He continued to scan the village, looking down the shaft of his crossbow. A portly man stood on his porch wearing a rather fine looking yellow suede fur-lined cloak, “What an easy mark, you make my friend.” Chuckled Malek, but that was not his purpose for now. He had bent sent to recover the dagger for Vanaur.
Malek still could not believe that the dagger would be here. It had to be a mistake! “The dagger could not be here,” he said to himself. But, if it indeed was here, in this backwater of a village, then it wouldn’t be long before the dagger revealed itself. The dagger always did. Malek smiled with that thought in mind and continued to watch the village as first signs of the afternoon snow started to fall.