The Brinewall Legacy
The Legacy's Lure
Ameiko's frustration was intense. Despite endlessly reading the letter, penned some 24 years ago by her grandfather, in the elegant and still comprehensible Tien script, the meaning of it totally eluded her. What did it mean?
Consumed with curiosity, Ameiko brought together her friends to plan a bold venture, to this Brinewall Keep in the cold Varisian North, to uncover what truths her grandfather had concealed there.
Ameiko sought out Tsumi, arranging with her dear friend to leave their tavern, The Rusty Dragon, in the safe hands of Bethana Corwin, so the two of them could travel North with their friends, uncovering the hidden histories hinted at within Rokuro's cryptic letter. They shared the warmth of an evening, together within The Rusty Dragon, before asking Morvius for his aid in Ameiko's venture, seeking his mighty magics to defend them on the journey but too his keen mind and knowledge of arcane lore to penetrate the mysteries they may unearth at Brinewall Keep.
The scouting and keen intuition of Kankai was sought, both for her skill with blades in battle, but also her understanding of locks and traps and perils that may be needed to delve the depths of Brinewall Keep, safely. Ameiko would not travel without inviting Avarizia to her company, seeking her potent magics, powerful healing and mighty skeletal companions to keep her, and those she cared for, safe from harm.
She also called to her friends Koya, Shalelu and the master of his caravan, Sandru, to aid her in this.
They charted a course to the far North of Varisia, plotting a more discreet route avoiding the city of Riddleport, entertaining a journey of some 500 miles or so, to reach Brinewall Keep. Sandru told of how Brinewall used to be a great port but is now lost and said to be cursed, or haunted, or both. A little ill at ease, but still enthusiastic and curious, the 8 friends set out from Sandpoint along the Lost Coast Road , through the villages of Galduria, the Wolf's Ear within the Churlwood, to the town of Roderic's Cove, passing between Riddleport and the Stony Mountains to head on through the Velashu Uplands, in to the Nolands and, eventually, to Brinewall.
The journey started well. Clear roads, clear skies, the caravan made good time. Avarizia and Sandru would ride at the front, chattering and laughing together, Sandru sharing fine drink with the appreciative Cleric. Shalelu and Kankai would scout ahead of the caravan, combining roles of both keeping the caravan on the best route and avoiding quagmires and uneven grounds when the road was lost, but too they sought out perils and kept the caravan aware and alert for dangers. Tsumi and Ameiko also took turns as guards and scouts, Tsumi's skills and patience as a tracker rivalling even the elven Ranger, Shalelu, but more often than not Ameiko and Tsumi were together cooking and entertaining within the caravan, sharing time and laughter and even exchanging gifts found and traded on their journey. Morvius and Koya worked as fortune-teller and spellcaster within Sandru's caravan, spending time together discussing matters of magic, free will, chaos and destiny.
Many hours and many miles passed favourably for the heroes, a time of good will and good cheer. The roads from Sandpoint were clear and busy enough to share gossip, banter and a meal around campfires with traders, with no real risk or challenge. From the villages of Galduria and Wolf's Ear they traded, finding gifts for friends to share whilst snuggled together on long watches through the chill evenings, with Sandru re-provisioning supplies for the caravan and sourcing some remarkably find Korvosian brandy to share with Avarizia, "Just to keep the cold away, my dear!"
From the village of Wolf's Ear things became harsher. The landscape shifted from plains to woodland, with wild roots and twisting branches snagging the caravan, forest gloom dampening the caravan's cheer and cold rain echoing this misery. Worse, visibility through the woods and rain was poor, the noise of the horses being wrenched this way and that, around roots and mud that would throw or sink a wheel, when Kankai noted the charge of foes.
From the dappled light filtering through the trees above, hidden by the bouncing rain 'til almost 'pon the caravan, were 4 mighty ogres, charging straight at Sandru's caravan! Avarizia commanded her skeletal companion to advance, which it did, only to be smashed apart in one blow of a massive tree trunk. The ogre, using this tree trunk as a weapon, then turned to Morvius and Avarizia, grinning broadly. Raising the massive trunk to swing at them, Morvius took sight and blasted bolts of magic into the ogre, sending it reeling backwards. Moments later Avarizia called down the powers of her dark mistress, petitioning Urgathoa for aid, her chill magics draining life from the ogres ahead of her.
Kankai and Tsumi had charged another ogre, dancing to each side of it, evading the massive trunk it also wielded, seeking to club them into pulp. As Tsumi wielded her twin flashing blades, gaining the ogre's attention, Kankai deftly stabbed and slashed with her twin wakizashi with deadly precision. In moments the brute fell to the Rogue and the Ranger, they kicked it once to make sure then charged on to aid their friends.
Little aid was needed. With the magics of Morvius and Avarizia the ogre battling them was staggering and fell just as Kankai and Tsumi arrived to offer aid. Spinning around they all sought out the other ogres to see Ameiko, Koya, Shalelu and Sandru and the caravan guards, bringing them last two down, too. They fell with huge crashes, their massive forms splattering the mud and rain as they smashed to the forest floor. Koya checked the guards and friends, praying softly and healing those who needed her aid, whilst Avarizia strode over to an ogre and looked at the body with peculiar interest. She asked Sandru if she could take them, he didn't have the room or the will to haul ogre corpses around but Avarizia persuaded him to take but one for her. After a few days prayer it was clear why, for the ogre rose as a mighty skeleton, serving her to protect the caravan.
Avarizia's friends knew of her use of skeletal aids, with Ameiko speaking of how her grandparents' homelands spoke of the land being alive, of spirits and the departed living with us, unseen, where service beyond death was not uncommon. Still, Avarizia knew how folk in Varisia saw Clerics raising the dead, how fear and evil dread consumed folk, so oft times she hid them in robes and covers. This far North, in the deserted wilderness, there was no need for such subterfuge, Sandru felt it served well to scare off those who may otherwise threaten the caravan, so their journey continued through the Churlwood forest without incident.
Further North, upon the rolling plains of the Velashu Uplands, the weather turned even more chill with a frost in the morning and mist clinging through 'til noon. Leaving lush verdant lands behind them, the lands grew harsher, with Sandru driving the caravan from grasslands through hardy gorse scrub and wild heathers. On these plains a group of bandits sought the wealth of the caravan, seeking to frighten and raid the party, but the magics of Morvius and Avarizia, with the intimidating effectiveness of Kankai and Tsumi again paired up in melee, swiftly disuaded the bandits who fled after moments.
The watches through the nights, around the camp's flickering fires, were long and cold. Watching in pairs, couples huddled together through the night, sharing in equal measure the company of their friends and the dutiful vigilance over their sleeping charges. Ameiko and Tsumi snuggled up by the fires under a blanket together, listening and whispering through the hours, sometimes waking other with their giggles and laughter. Kankai and Shalelu would huddle briefly but then would scout the border together, shadows in the night, owning the darkness together. Koya and Morvius would huddle, "Keep an old woman warm, dear!" whilst talking of magics and mysteries through the long hours together. Sandru favoured fine sherry or brandy, served in sparkling crystal, with Avarizia. Although she may p'raps have drunk it all, he always was mindful of his duty to keep watch, sharing enough to feel cheery but not enough to fall drunk. Still, on finding the two of them embraced under blankets, drink upon them, did invite the question of just how effectively they really were keeping vigil!
16 days later, Sandru's caravan arrived within the silent community of Brinewall. Excitement was high, answers were now close at hand, from days of travel it was now time to turn thoughts to action. Or so everyone had felt, 'til Ameiko's enthusiasm turned to listless restlessness, then to confusion and agitation, then sleep. Unrousable, her friends tried every skill and spell to aid her, uncovering that a magical force was causing this unnatural slumber. Shalelu, Koya and Sandru pledged to watch over her, keep her safe, seeking for Avarizia, Kankai, Morvius and Tsumi to aid Ameiko through rushing to confront who or what had invoked this magical sleep 'pon her.
Excitement lost to anxiety and dismay, the friends set out from so many days of hard travel to now explore a forgotten, ancient keep, a 24 year old letter tempting Ameiko here to now find her grasped by magics . . .