By Jamey Martin
Them Damn Westies
As these events began to unfold, Corwin and Tyros came to rest in the city-state of Teziir, a young, but sprawling port city situated on the southeastern shores of the Dragonmere. Once there, they ran into a mixed band of young adventurers, mostly from the lands around Iriaebor. Their names were Lacander the Bard (homely, but glib, the rustic son of an ex-Harper who settled in a small hamlet about a half-day north of Iriaebor), Melvarin (a towering and heavily muscled warrior from a hamlet just outside of Iriaebor), Ellisha (a fair wizardress from Iriaebor), Herodyn of Hluthvar (a rather impious paladin of Torm), Izuldrayn of Tantras (a Harper, an older and powerful wizard), and his aid Yasil of Tantras (Yasillynn, bard).
According to Lacander, he, Melvarin, and Herodyn were veterans of the "Second Orc Wars" that had been plaguing the Sunset Vale for the past 3 years. While that war had seemed to at last relent, it next came to pass that a horde of undead poured into the Vale from the north, while earlier this spring ('72) Iriaebor suffered a raid from a handful of dragons and a horde of winged devils. He went on to explain how they themselves would be working with the Dawn Alliance to clear the Vale and protect lands around Iriaebor and Berdusk, but it had come to pass that Herodyn was chosen, by his god, to seek out and destroy a number of evil beings ... each of which they had since found to be somehow connected to Sammaster and the CotD.
Thus had the band journeyed, first, to the Moonshae Isles where they uncovered an axe of great magical might that would aid them greatly in their task, and then to Teziir, where they had since tracked and killed a former servant of Sammaster once known as Skaverdast. With his death, they were preparing to set out, first for Tantras, and then onto Zhentil Keep "in search of our next victim" as Herodyn put it.
Noting the opportunity, the need for both coin and strong, trustworthy company, Corwin spoke (perhaps out of turn) of his and Tyros' familiarity with the Keep, and remarked that they might be of some assistance thereabouts. And despite some friction between Melvarin and Tyros, who taught the young Iriaebian the difference between "strong" and "able", both he and Corwin joined up with the band.
Arriving in Tantras, Izuldrayn began to conduct his business there, while Corwin and Tyros spent some time visiting with Barlow. During that time, Melvarin, one of the few who could touch the mystical axe without suffering harm, found himself tempted by Herodyn to take it up. And once the powerful young warrior did, he found a darkness falling over him, accompanied by a great hatred for wizards ... which grew from the powerful barbarian chief whose spirit had been used to fashion the axe long ago. Thus did Herodyn lead Melvarin out into the night, to lay in wait for Izuldrayn as he returned from some kind of "secret" meeting with the local disciples of Torm. Apparently, Herodyn had been acting with increasing impiety, brutality, and engaging in all manner of "deviant" sexual practices, including a night he spent with Melvarin ("the Orc-Chic-buggerer"), since Torm had laid the quest upon him. Izuldrayn had thus resolved to consult the High Disciples of Torm on the matter. And so, when Melvarin and the mature wizard at last ran into each other, the warrior lured him to an alley, and there, with Herodyn standing as witness, he murdered him with the axe.
So it was that Melvarin and Herodyn, who had since stashed the axe out of hand, awakened the rest of the band, minus Yasil, early that morning. They said that Izuldrayn had uncovered some dire news that he and Yasil needed to tend to, and that it would be best if the band departed Tantras with all due haste. And so they set out on a ship full of rather shady looking characters, eventually putting into port at Scardale town.
Now, Scardale town was no longer what it once was, formerly or subsequently. Less than 5 years ago a hideous plague had broken out in the area, and in it's face the various forces occupying the dale withdrew. In due time the plague subsided, but lawlessness had already taken root. And so it was that Scardale town became a haven for bandits and pirates, falling evermore under the control of the self-styled Bandit-Lord Dirk the Hatchet.
Nevertheless, the band kept a low profile, and would have safely made it out of town if Yasil had not sailed into the harbour hot upon their heels and with a ship full of fighting men to back her up. Confronting them in the saloon and accusing Herodyn of murder most foul, Yasil demanded that the Hluthvaran accompany her back to Tantras to face charges for his crime. With that, a free-for-all melee broke out between Yasil and hers, the various rogues of Scardale, and the band. As it raged, Melvarin took out the axe and with it felled a local spellcaster, and another that backed Yasil, before turning on Ellisha, and slaying her, amongst a number of others still. He was soon disarmed by Tyros, but had little time to mourn his unintended action as the melee continued to rage. And as it continued Herodyn was himself struck as grievous blow that made his skin twist, contort, and then melt away. Standing in his stead was a naked woman of voluptuous build, with birdlike wings, chalk white skin, fangs, blood red lips, and glaring hatred for eyes. For a moment, silence reigned. And then, with a shriek of anger, the erinyes flew out of the saloon, abandoning both the town and all in it.
Soon after, the bandit forces of Dirk the Hachette stormed the saloon. With the aid of reinforcements, Yasil and her warriors, were able to retreat to their vessel and flee, but Tyros, Corwin and Melvarin found themselves surrounded, and thus surrendered. They were consequently stripped of a good deal of their belongings, the axe included, and told to get out of town ... Corwin with an icy glare from Tyros. That night however, after Corwin told Melvarin of Hap and Lathander's Blood, the Iriaebian warrior snuck back into the vicinity of the town in search of his friends corpses. He returned with Lacander's body, but Ellisha's was no where to be found.
And so it was that the trio made their way through the Scar to Featherfalls, before turning NW along the trail running past Hap and on into Battledale. As the trio made their way ever closer to the small hamlet, they came upon Fengle's Freehold, a "keep on the borderlands" between Featherdale, Harrowdale and Battledale. It was hastily erected by the forces of Lashan during his short reign, but was abandoned soon after his fall due to a lack of interest and frequent troubles with orcii. Then, in the year 1368 DR the son of a merchant from Feather Falls decided he wanted to clear the old trail from the Falls to Hap, and reopen the keep as a rest stop for travellers and merchants. Initially, orcii proved to be a problem around the Freehold, but a band of young adventurers from Hap and Featherfalls managed to root out their lair and break their power in the year 1369 DR. Rumour had it that the caves that the orcii had holed up in were connected to another cavern complex, but when the younglings from Featherfalls returned to investigate, they never returned.
In any event, while spending the night in the safety of the keep, Melvarin had a dream in which he saw a black, squat and twisted castle surrounded by a great maze. It was situated in the middle of a great wasteland and stood beneath a sickly green sky. His spirit seemed to soar toward the castle, making its way through the maze with amazing haste, until finally coming to rest in the dungeon of the castle. He seemed to be standing before a cell door, and within he could see a beautiful young woman with brown hair and eyes in a tattered old robe. Apparently noting his prescience, the young maid moved to the door and whispered to Melvarin, begging for him to help her, saying that she did not belong in this place. Before the warrior could act or reply, the creak and slam of a door echoed from down the long shadowy corridor. Soon after, the shadow of some chittering insectoid fiend appeared on the wall near a bend in the corridor, and Melvarin noted a look of panic and fear wash over the girl's face. At that point, Melvarin awoke.
This dream continued to plague the Iriaebian each night as he and his companions continued on their journey to Hap, but he did not know what to make of it. Thus, he said little to nothing of it.
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