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Spike

The Eldest Son

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But first..... The Legal Bits

 

Books and other resources used in this adventure:

Dark Heaven Apocalypse Rulebook - ©1996 Reaper Miniatures

The Eldest Son - © 2001 Reaper Miniatures Inc

Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook ver 3.0 - © Wizards of the Coast Inc.

Open Game License d20 System Reference Document - © Wizards of the Coast Inc.

Dungeons and Dragons eTools ver.1.666 - © 2003 2005 Code Monkey Publishing LLC, © 2002 2005 Wizards of the Coast Inc.

 

Special thanks to the artists who contributed to the Eldest Son module. I will footnote any images I post or link to in this game, as those artists deserve recognition and much praise for their talents.

 

Also thank you to Reaper Minis and to Kit for making this gaming forum available.

 

Lastly, thanks to the players, without whom I would just be roleplaying with myself.

 

So... to quote Bob Fosse, "IT'S SHOWTIME!"

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

The suns shine warmly upon the rolling hills and venerable evergreen forests of Nebensee. Today is the last day of Lenore and winter is at an end. Even though winter might choose to linger for a fortnight beyond its welcome, the town of Darkwald seems to be almost fully economically recovered from the past three months of ice storms and often impassable highroads. In fair weather, Darkwald benefits greatly from the lucrative timber trade upon which Nebensee's shipbuilding industry depends.

 

The road from Darkwald to the Einen Estate has been cleared of fallen trees, but vestiges of the last storm can still be seen in parts of the forest that are not as well managed. Other patches of forest are completely free of undergrowth in preparation for hunting, which is the favoured sport of the noblilty. Occasionally, the forests give way to vast open fields, horse pastures and even a few orchards. The road passes by half a dozen large estates surrounded by low stone walls. In the midst of each estate stands a proud mansion with its rows upon rows of imported glass windows and high-pitched gabled rooftops. It seems that the business of forestry has made some families quite wealthy, even though very few of those who enjoy such opulence have ever cut down a tree with their own two hands.

 

The Einen Estate, like the others, is surrounded by a low wall of dark brown stone. A pair of ornate gateposts mark the beginning of a long cobblestone drive-way which winds its way right past the main house's front entrance and then curves around to a long coach-house to the rear of the sprawling three-story mansion.

 

It does not take a keen observer to notice that the Einen estate has seen better years. The topiaries appear not to have been trimmed back for several seasons, almost all of the estate's outbuildings look totally abandoned, and many of the windows in the upper floors of the main residence have no draperies at all, indicating that those rooms are not only unused, but unlikely to be used any time soon. The western wing of the mansion looks as though the roof may have collapsed. Daylight can be seen shining through the uppermost windows. In spite of the obvious lack of maintenance, the grounds are still kept free of garbage and unwelcomed squatters.

 

On this particular afternoon, Fornias Einen is expecting two guests to arrive. At his request, Felix had sent letters to two friends who both he and Felix believed could be depended upon and trusted to help the family with what the letter called 'an urgent matter concerning the Einen legacy, and which needs to be resolved with expediency and discretion'. The letter asked that they both arrive at the hour of four after-noon on Endsday, the 30th of Lenore, and that they come prepared for travel.

 

Felix

 

Felix knows that Jonas is missing. He was there two weeks ago when a letter arrived from the University in which one of the professors inquired of Jonas' whereabouts and asking if he has returned home. Felix believes that his father is dying, and fears that if the rightful heir to the family fortune is unaccounted for at the time of his father's impending passing, the family's estate will become the property of the Crown. He, like his father, believes Jonas to not be irresponsible enough to just run off without telling somebody where he was going, and that something bad may have happened to him.

 

HIs father is having one of his better days, though he is still too weak to leave his bed. When it nears time for his guests to arrive, Felix leaves his father's bedside to await their arrival in the sitting room. Dore'nel and Ralphus choose to remain in Fornias' bedchamber. A servant will be sent when he is ready to recieve his visitors.

 

Aramil

 

Felix has confided in Aramil his fears that Jonas might be in trouble or danger, and the very day the letter arrived from the University asking of Jonas' whereabouts, Aramil promised he would help Felix find Jonas no matter the risk. He anxiously awaits meeting Felix's guests, finding himself already intrigued by what few stories Felix has told him of them.

 

As he and Felix wait for the others to arrive, one of the housemaids who Felix knows only as Elsa, makes one last circuit of the room with her feather duster, tending to the numerous pieces of gold-plated bric-a-brac as though her life as well as her employment depended upon it.

 

Christina and Thain

 

Being two very dependable individuals each of whom have their reasons for coming to Felix's aid, Christina and Thain arrive at the Einen estate at almost the exact same time. Before they even reach the front door, they are greeted by an older man who introduces himself as Karl and who will offer to deliver their mounts (if any) to the stables. A few moments later, the front door opens and an older woman in a somewhat worn maids' uniform opens the door. You see she is carrying a feather duster, which she quickly tries to hide behind her back.

 

"Good afternoon.", she says with a courtsey. "Master Felix wil be pleased to see you."

 

She leads both of you through the large marble-floored foyer into the lavishly furnished sitting room, where Felix and a young elf are waiting.

 

The maid then speaks to Felix quietly before returning to the kitchen. "I'll just leave you and your friends to reacquainting yourselves with one another.", she says with a slight grin, discreetly nodding her head in the direction of Christina. "Your father will send for you shortly."

 

Before she leaves the room, she asks everybody, "May I offer any of you something to drink?"

 

___________

 

{ OOC }

Roleplay amongst yourselves a bit. ... but please, let's not start torturing the NPCs yet.. :lol:

{ /OOC }

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Almost jumping from his chair when he sees his friends enter. He knew they were coming, but it had still been a while, and the anxiety of the situation had already left Felix a bit jumpy lately anyway. For a moment, Felix forgets his place and ignores Elsa in favor of greeting his friends.. But he quickly recovers enough to turn back to her with a hopefully polite "Thank you, Elsa." before again turning his attention to the dwarf and Christina.

 

"Boy it is good to see you two again!" Again momentarily allowing himself to forget the reason that he has called them here, but rather just trying to... at least for a brief minute... just reflect on the friendships garnered with these individuals.

 

"I hope your journey was quick and uneventful... Wait a second... Thain... Thain... Have you actually gotten shorter?"

 

"Ha HA! Just kidding. It must be your feet are bigger."

 

Normally, Felix would quickly find himself in a war of quips and mutual verbal challenges with the stocky height challenged friend. But, it just didnt seem appropriate right now and even his half hearted attempt to be "humorous" seemed feeble even to himself and it was apparent that he wasnt going to be able to fake his way thru this situation. So, he quickly tries to change the focus on his other arrival, Christina....

 

Giving her an embrace filled with the emotions of having not seen his friend in quite some time, "It is good to see you... I am jealous. I am the one that likes to go site seeing, yet it is you that has been able to be out enjoying the country... I hope Anarion has provided plenty of relief for you in your travel"

 

"But, here... Listen to me babble... Come in, sit, rest your legs. Let me get Elsa back in here to bring drink or refreshment..."

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Christina lovingly (but in a friend/platonic way) returns Felix's embrace saying, "I came as soon as I could. I could tell you so much about everything that has been happening on my journeys, but first, tell me why you called us. The road was long and I'm grateful to be here." She sits down, and braces herself for the news she is about to hear. Anxious of what the news may be, she is concerned about her friend and his problems and wants to help in any way she can.

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"& the forest stretched on & on...." "Oh?" finally taking his face out of the book that he was reading, Aramil looks up to acknowledge the 2 friends of Felix's. Putting the book down & walking over to the two, I extend a hand in friendship "Greetings. I am a Aramil, I'm please to make your acquaintance. Felix has told me a little about the two of you, you must be Christina, thou Felix's description of you pales in comparison to you & you must be Thain (saying this in dwarven--"Greetings, from Felix's tales about you & him, I hope that we can find a mutual friendship together".

 

"I just wish we all could have met under better circumstances, but I'll let Felix explain the current situation."

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"Yes," Thain responds to the maid. "Something to get rid of the dust from my throat. Whatever you have that's cold and wet."

 

Thain tries to ignore Felix's poorly formed jest, chalking it up to stress from whatever the urgent matter is. The Felix he remembered from that day would never have been so rude in greeting. Fortunately, the elf pulls his nose out of a book before Thain says something truly rude in response.

 

Thain acknowledges the elf's greeting with a nod and returns the favor, speaking in fluent High Elven "If Felix counts you as a friend, I have no doubt you are a just man as well. I owe Felix a debt of honor. I can only presume there is some trouble based on letter he sent."

 

Thain turns his attention to address Felix. "I came as quickly as I could when I received your missive. You know I swore to return the favor some day, but that is no excuse for being so rude boy. You've been raised to be a better man than that. What's this problem? The letter said it was urgent."

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A little taken aback, Felix tries to hide his shock a bit. Thinking to himself, that he had thought that he and the dwarf were on better terms than that. He knew it had been a feebly bad joke, but was still not expecting the quite as sharp negative response. But, then..... shaking it off, as at least Thain was here, which meant that he was honorable to his word and Felix still felt he could be trusted with the upcoming veture.

 

Felix motions for the group to take a seat, and oes the same himself across from them, so that he can address them as a group. "Ok, well first off, thank you all again for coming. I feel that its best for my father to explain the bulk of the details in the situation, which we should be able to see him soon. But, please do allow me to give introductions around the room and share why i have asked each of you here."

 

"Christina, I have known you as long as I can remember. I think to believe that you know more secrets about me and my family than most anyone else I know. You are quite familiar with my family's history and some of the changes that have happened, including my father's re-marriage a few years ago. Between that, and with your calling to serve under the Temple of Anarion, I felt as though you might have some invaluable insights to help us solve our plight."

 

Turning a little in his chair, "Thain... I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time to prevent a mishap of sorts from happening for you. But, in reality it was not lucky for you, but lucky for me. As that encounter allowed me to gain a friend. I might have overstepped bounds a little earlier as it has been a long while since we last exchanged jests, but it does not detract from my memory on your stern character. I know you to be of quick whit and sound tactician, both of which I feel will come into play one way or another in our near future."

 

"Lastly, as he has introduced himself already, this is Aramil. Again, unfortunate circumstances led to our meeting together. But only fortune has followed. We met while venturing on the high road not too long ago. And although I have known you the least amount of time, it has felt almost as if I know you the best of this group, as I feel as tho we reflect one another in many ways regarding our affinity for travel, excitement, and adventure. I may not have your talents in the arts of magic, but I do share your enjoyment of being able to explore and discover, again which based on my expectations, I feel will be put to the test in the coming days."

 

Giving a moment for each person to recgnize each other for the traits he described, and to become comfortable with the one another as much as is possible in such short time.

 

"Ok, as I said, I think it appropriate to allow my father to explain in MORE detail the stuation at hand. But, I can share with you the main reason for my beckoning you here today."

 

"My oldest brother, Jonas has disapeared recently from the Univerity. And I would like your assistance to help me find him." A short pause "As if that is not an important enough issue in and by itself because he is my brother, there is also another pressing reason to find him quickly, and hopefully of good health. That reason is that I believe my father's health to be failing him and don't thin he will be among us for too much longer. I am torn between being here, by hisside, until that time comes, and the need to find my brother who I believe also needs me. When my father told me that me that he prefer me to track down my brother, I knew that I would need assistance for this. I think myself to be of able intelligence and skill, but when looking for the needle in the haystack, having more keen eyes and sharp minds to help look is of immeasurable more value."

 

"I hope you can spare some time and sweat with me to solve this in as fast as the heaven's allow. I will be in debt to each of you for sure."

 

Again, giving a moment to let what he said sink in a little.. and looking over his shoulder a time or two to see if Elsa is returning with news from his father yet..

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Christina, with a look of extreme concern on her face says, "Of course I will help you find your brother. I pray that he is well and that we can find him swiftly and return him to your home. I am very sorry to hear about your father's illness and I will gladly do whatever is necessary to insure he has both of his sons with him in his final hours. Your family is like my own and I will be here for you in any way I can in your hour of need."

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(Everybody)

 

Only a few minutes pass before the housemaid Elsa returns from the kitchen empty-handed.

 

"Master Felix, your father is prepared to receive his visitors now.", she addresses Felix before turning to the others. "Would you all please follow me?"

 

Else leads Felix's guests out of the sitting room, through the foyer and down a long hall toward the eastern wing of the mansion. The hallway is nicely appointed with oil paintings, ornate wall sconces and various imported vases and statuettes, though not quite so lavishly as the sitting room. She knocks quietly at one of the doors and a woman's voice invites her and her guests to enter.

 

Inside the bedchamber, the window curtains are drawn shut so that the room is lit only by the two large bedside lamps. At one end of the room, a small fireplace provides warmth enough to counter the chill that is inevitable in drafty old mansions. At the other end of the room is a large oaken four-post bed in which Fornias Einen awaits, sitting propped more or less upright against a small mountain of pillows. He seems only a shadow of the somewhat robust man that Christina might recall from her childhood, and even Aramil can detect that he has gotten sicker since last seen. Dore'nel is standing by the bedside holding her husband's left hand. Ralphus is clearing away a tray upon which sits a half-finished bowl of thin soup and a half-eaten heel of bread.

 

"I apologize for not being able to stand and greet you properly.", Fornias addresses his visitors. "I fear my better days are all behind me now,", he adds with a jovial laugh followed by coughs. Dore'nel gives him a clean handkerchief and a few sips of water before he can continue.

 

"I am certain Felix has told you all of Jonas' disappearance and that I wish to see him home, and that..."

 

Fornias' words are cut short by another fit of coughs. Dore'nel speaks a few soothing words into his ear and provides him with another sip from his drinking glass.

 

"I shall make my words brief. Two weeks ago I received a letter from Professor August Merriweather at the University asking why Jonas had not attended any of his classes this term and if he had returned home." Fornias pauses to clear his throat. "I know Jonas to be responsible and that he would never simply go wandering without first telling somebody where he was going, and I fear he may have come to harm."

 

While his father speaks, Ralphus hands the tray with what remains of Fornias' food to Elsa and sends her away to the kitchen, scarcely acknowledging the presence of his younger brother or his guests.

 

"But there is more I must tell you.", Fornias continues. "My days are numbered, and Jonas is my heir. Were I to die this very day with his whereabouts or even his very existence uncertain, all that I would have passed to him would then belong to the crown. I could not chance that to happen and so I took the only other course of action I could to ensure that our family can maintain our legacy. Two days ago, I signed the paper declaring Jonas legally dead."

 

Though his eyes well up with tears, he does his best to maintain his dignity and finish what he has to say. Dore'nel places her hand soothingly on his shoulder. Ralphus returns to his father's bedside. He seems about ready to say something before his father resumes speaking.

 

"I know in my heart he still lives, but until he can be found and brought home to claim his rightful inheritance, the crown will recognize Ralphus as my legitimate heir. Under the law, Jonas still has six months to return and prove his name, but I feel Jonas may be in some sort of trouble or danger, else he would have written or returned home on his own by now."

 

Again Fornias is overcome by a fit of coughing. This time when he returnes the handkerchief to Dore'nel, there is some blood on it.

 

"At my request, Felix has called you together to help him find my Jonas. I am prepared to reward you all well if you succeed in bringing him back safely. I have gold to fund your search and can give you loan of some horses from my stable if you are in need of either. I believe you should begin looking where he was seen last--at the University in Astoria. Being that the journey will take you almost two days, I wish to invite you all to stay the night here and set out in the morning."

 

Dore'nel pulls the rope by the bedside that rings the servant-bell. When Elsa comes to the door, Dore'nel informs her that there may be need to prepare for overnight houseguests. Dore'nel then speaks to Christina, Thain and Aramil.

 

"If you wish, I could have Elsa prepare a few of the upper rooms for you and ask the cooks to provide you with a good evening meal. It is the very least I can do for those to whom I shall forever feel endebted. Will you be our guests tonight?" Dore'nel's congenial smile seems almost out of place in the darkened room of her dying husband as she awaits her guests' response.

 

 

_____

 

[OOC]

I"ll proofread this post again tomorrow afternoon when I am less unawake. I'll have some pics of NPCs scanned tomorrow night hopefully. Next posting will likely be Monday evening.

[/OOC]

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"Milady, your son, Felix, saved my life one night, if not for that I wouldn't be standing before any of you, so I will accept this challenge & will accompany Felix to the University, when ever he is ready to travel, so I'd be honored to stay here for the evening."

 

"Hopefully, Jonas will be found & unhurt."

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"Of course I will stay tonight. I thank you for your hospitality in such a troubling time. If Jonas can be found, and I truly believe that he can, we will surely find him!"

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Thain follows the group into the bedchamber and listens to Fornias' request silently.

 

Thain bows his head solemnly, the full weight of the emergency becoming clear. "The succession and safety of a clan holding is always of extreme importance. As your family once came to the aid of mine in a time of need, it is only fair that I return the favor. It is a debt of gratitude I owe your family."

 

"I do not wish to tax your strength further sir. We can discuss the remaining details with your family. Rest easy. I will do my best to uncover what happened to your son, and bring him home, and if he was harmed, make sure those that did so face justice."

 

"Lady Dore'nal your hospitality is welcome. Thank you."

 

To the others, Felix, Christina and Aramil:

"If we are leaving in the morning, perhaps we should make plans over dinner?"

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"Sounds like a plan to me. I'd hate to walk blindly into this."

 

After the group leaves the bedchamber, I ask

 

"Should we discuss our plans here over dinner or more privately, say in our rooms or off the estate? It's not that I don't trust anyone here, just the mood that Dore'nel was in, epically her smile at the end. If my lifemate was gravely ill, I surely wouldn't be like that."

 

Pausing a bit, I then say

 

"As I said, I'm not saying she is suspicious, just that struck me as odd & a bit out of place, that's all."

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"I have a few things to say, but dont think its appropriate to discuss this here, for sure." Felix whispers as he looks over his shoulder to make sure that only his friends are within hearing distance.

 

Knowing that even whispers can bounce off the rock walls and be heard down hallways, he quickly puts his finger to his lips and then motions the others back down the corridor leading to the kitchen. Trying to walk calmly to seem as though nothing is wrong, knowing that his mother or 2nd brother would be not far behind, Felix leads his friends thru the kitchen and out the back door.

 

Once outside, "This way to the stable... For now I think that is probably the best place to talk." I used to have a small hide away spot in there. Not sure if we can all fit in but its worth a try."

 

And with that he heads towards the stables, quickening his pace a bit, as to be out of site before anyone catches wind where they have gone.

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In the kitchen, there seems to be a small arguement brewing between Elsa and two other women concerning what would be the most appropriate evening meal for the two newest esteemed guests. The stoves have been stoked and one of the cooks appears to be working a pastry dough.

 

The door Felix leads the others through does not lead directly outside, but through the rather well-provisioned Einen larder. Until his most recent years, Fornias Einen had been an epicurean of discriminating taste and kept his shelves and cellars stocked with the best cheeses, spices, grains, jams, jellies, teas and wines that the continent had to offer. Though most of the kitchen staff had been let go over the past two years, there is still plenty of good food on hand.

 

At the other end of the larder, a small door opens out into a tiny cobblestoned courtyard which serves to connect the kitchen area of the main house to the smaller outbuilding where the stove wood and heating fuel are stored. A narrow cobbled walkway somewhat grown over with weeds leads beyond the courtyard to the coach-house and stables.

 

The stables is a long whitewashed wooden building with a high-pitched roof and a pair of double-doors at either end. At one time there had been no less than thirty horses stabled here, but now that Lord Einen's fox-hunting days are behind him, most of the horses have been sold to neighboring estates in order to save the family the expense of their upkeep. At one end of the stables there is a hayloft and tack room. At the other end of the stables is the small apartment of the stable-keeper, Gordon Bren.

 

When Felix and his guests reach the stables, Gordon is leisurely unloading a small wheelbarrow full of sacks of grain. He greets Felix and Aramil with an informal wave of the sort that one might expect from a person one sees several times a day, but when Gordon sees Thain and Christina are accompanying Felix, he stops his work, removes his hat, takes a slight bow and gives a more proper salutation.. "Good afternoon, milady and master dwarf.", he says, though from a short distance away. Though his clothes are not as dirty as one might expect a stable-hands' clothes to be, he appears to have been hard at work. His aging face is flushed and he glistenes with perspiration. "Are you in need of your horses now?", he asks Felix.

 

Aside from Gordon, seven horses, and one pony, the stables are empty.

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"Thank you, Gordon. Maybe later. I do believe we will be riding soon, but, for now I was just giving my friends a tour."

 

Continuing to move and lead the group into the stable so as to make sure that as they talked to Gordon, they would do so out of site from the house...

 

Addressing the group:

"This is Gordon, he manages our steeds and livestock. And on a personal note, also is a great teacher for learning to ride them as well" Felix says with a smile to try and help put Gordon at ease.

 

Felix allows for a moment of small talk or greetings to transpire, but does not doddle long in waiting before continuing on...

 

"Gordon, thank you for your time, I think I will continue the tour. Friends, one of my favorite horses is down at the other end of the stables.... " And Felix starts to lead the group down towards the other end of the stable, where more of the horses are kept, but also where the ladder to the loft is located. A place where they would be able to talk without being easdropped, and also with the ability to see anyone approach well before they would enter listening distance.

 

After taking a few moments to point out and introduce a few of the horses, Felix leads the group up the ladder.

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