The Treasure Hunting Campain
Tresk of clan Keldothen, guard of the Orb gate of the great dwarven city of Beldodrobaen no longer exists. He was a man sworn to his king’s service and his duty though with perhaps more humor than was good for him. He was husband to Reshka father to Thekla and Todor, twins a thing unheard of in dwarven society. Life wasn’t perfect but he was content with his lot in it. Then the drow came.
They came from the city of Chultan’dir attacking Beldodrobaen in a great siege that lasted many cycles halted by the Orb gate; a massive structure which damned the entirety of breadth of the caverns entrance. Dark skinned magicians dueled for dominance of the stone with bearded sages and the bedrock of the cavern roiled. Pale yellow gases were funneled in by vile alchemists and vented out by burly miners just as quickly. Red eyed poisoners brackened the underground springs and bald priests prayed for new waters to sustain their peoples. All the while the people suffered and starved and their defenders dwindled in the raids of riders mounted on wall climbing lizards. Yet despite it all the wall held. Then the dragon came.
Pha’lelle’Ellistrothe, the Great Stone Dragon had been imprisoned in the cavern when the ancestors founded the city, he had been a plague on the Underdark countless years ago; imprisoned in the bed rock of the city by great magic seals to the people who lived there now he was nothing more than a statue in the palace courtyard. They were wrong, the dragon would not sleep forever. There came a sound. Distant at first, it grew into a castrophany so immense it could be heard far away in space. There were no screams. There was no time. The Great Stone Dragon had awoken. Tresk of clan Keldothen, man of the king and of jests, husband, father, and friend to many charged up the stairs to defend all he held dear in this world. There was only fire; and then, nothing.
Darkness. Utter black. Nothing but the weight of the void pressing down oppressive, smothering. Pressure, heat, pain, and darkness. Such are the elements stone are made of and as a child of stone he had returned to them. Those were his first memories of that time, of what happened. He was buried, entombed by the dead the bodies of his fellow men at arms his people. He pushed, writhed, and tore himself free; free of their blackened roasted corpses and slagged armor smelling of rot and corruption and ash. He doesn’t remember much of that time, of his flight from the ruined city but he remembered the bodies.
Their charcoaled skin, the weeping red flesh, their armor melted and slagged into one piece and fused with their flesh; it ran in hardened rivulets over their bodies. He looked down and felt his body and realized he was the same; he was one of the dead. Great ruin had been wrought here and yet among the dead only he stirred. He does not remember how he fled the city; undetected no less, only that he must have. He only remembered coming out onto the God’s Walk.
The God’s Walk was the grand entrance to Beldodrobaen where the ancestors had erected great statues to their gods to look upon all who would enter the city and judge them by the worth of their hearts. It lied just outside the Orb gate where the drow host had been encamped and had not escaped unscathed. Many were damaged or broken, magnificent stone reduced to rubble and all had been defaced. It is here the full weight of what had transpired. The loss of everything he had known, everyone he cared for, everything he had been; gone. At the broken feet of his broken gods he lost himself to his greif.
It was here that his shame overtook him. He couldn’t leave. He would forever be known as a survivor. To dwarfs there is no greater shame; he would be hunted and hated wherever he went, viewed with suspicion. He would be seen for a turncoat or a craven; for who else would still live while their clan had fallen? He would return. The least he could do was take what remained of his broken body to his home so that he may rest alongside his family where he belonged. As he rose to seek his final rest he noticed something he hadn’t before, a low glow of light from hidden gap in the wall near the back of the walk. It called to him, beckoned.
What he found was a shrine to a god that was convenient to forget it lay hidden. Whether the drow had not seen it or simply avoided it he could not say. The Lord of Death was not afforded a place of honor amongst the cities watchers as people do not like to concern themselves with death when they are solely focused on their own glory. Yet neither could they pay him the insult of forgetting to include him, for he would not forget them. So his shrine lay secluded and was avoided.
All came before him in death, from the mightiest of hero’s to the rankest of traitors all faced death equally in the end their lives laid bare before the All Judge and all were sentenced. It was here the nameless dwarf saw his lord for the first time and knew what he was, why he alone stirred amongst the dead. The Lord of Last Waters stood astride a small underground spring disappearing into a hidden fall behind him signifying his role as warden of the river Styx. He was dressed not in the finery of the other deities but in simple robes; around his neck in place of jewels lay the sands of time. In his left hand in place of a shield or lordly scepter rested his infinite book of names ever growing ever shrinking. Prophecy said that each birth placed a new name in the book and only that beings death could remove that name, and when the end of days comes only one name will remain and he will be forced to take himself across the pale waters. In his right hand lay an axe, not the great war axe of his people but the long hafted axe of an executioner; Final Judgment. Last he looked upon his face and it was that of death and beardless for glory was for the living. It was above him that a shaft opened up allowing in the thinnest trickle of light limning the statue in an other worldly aura.
Here the shell that was Tresk found understanding. He had died but had been spared judgment and was unable to pass over the final waters. It was here he looked into his eyes, upon the face of death and his stone lord spoke to him. Only those who die can truly comprehend the incomprehensible, can truly know death. In death all are equal and all is laid bare for judgement. Either to pass over the final waters to their true ends or spend eternally drowning beneath the rapids. I have made you so that you will know my mind and purpose for you are to enact my will upon the world. It is you who shall herald my coming, you will be the priest of death, you will carry out my judgement, you shall be my black knight.
There was no need to ask if he accepted for it was already known. He bent his knee and swore himself such as he was to his new lord. My child born in darkness you must face the light and be unafraid. He knew what he must do, he began to strip what remained of his armor, the last remnants of what he was, but the plates had been through dragon’s fire. His flesh sloughed off in great bloody hunks torn away from his body until he was clothed in nothing but the crimson robe of death. He entered the pool the cold waters lapping at his scarred body, eddy’s licking the blood from him filling the pool with swirls of taint until the waters grew black from corruption.
He reached the feet of his stone lord fingers ripping themselves apart on the rough granite slipping in their own blood seeking purchase. Naked dripping ash, blood, and water he arose. He cannot say for how long he climbed or the unspeakable agony he suffered only that it did not matter. Pain bothers not the dead, time but the whisper of shadows over the world. He emerged naked yet clad in the black robe of death. He was forged anew. The icy winds of the mountain side tore at him with only his dried blood to shield him from the cold. Blood, duty, and purpose; it was with these he descended the mountain; and with knowledge. The Keeper of Names had given his champion a boon. While it was the dark elves who had sacked the city it was dwarves who had broken the runes and awoken the sleeping wyrm, traitors who would slay their own kin and they still lived. He would have his vengeance.
Now he wears the black armor as befits his station with a helm likened to the skull face of death. He rides a horse as black as midnight his cloak of raven feathers billowing out behind his as he rides, for ravens are the heralds of death. His justice is a great headsman’s axe that is never far from his hand his voice greets you with a rough smoky rasp as though it were the dead who spoke. Fire and death had stolen his capacity for flowery speech. SHould he shed his hemlet the molten wreck that was once a face seems to run in rivulets, gaping black hole in the center where a proper nose should be. Yet it is his eyes that people cannot forget, that they are forced to remember. blue flames that glow with ephemeral light in the sunken pits of his skull helm transfixing all who are pierced by his gaze, never blinking always watchful; eyes that have lost the ability to close out injustice. In life he had no time to mourn his losses and in death he is forever weeping. He rides to this day, deaths judgment on this world seeking his vengeance.