Còigeamh 3-4, 6639 (about 4 months before the current events)
Around town, a number of people began to awaken...
A young woman awoke, pain washing over her. She had fallen through the roof of a barn, and though her helmet saved her life, it hadn't saved her life. Drifting in and out of consciousness, she managed to remove the chunk of wood from her face and stop the bleeding, but her eye was long gone. Once she rested, she was able to find her sword, and make a dress from some cloth. Hearing footsteps outside, she quickly left, hoping to find healing at the medical clinic up the street.
Scared, hiding in the dark, a young mortician - Jesper Sharpe - listened to two men as they argued with his boss, then murdered him. Gathering a set of armor, and the coins from a dead man's eyes, Jesper fled to the safety of his friend's shop - George Weapon, a dwarf. The dwarf suited up in armor and grabbed a massive hammer, but by the time they returned, the murderers were gone... as was the corpse!
Who, only minutes before, had sat up with a groan. Again, with no memory, he grabbed what he could, and tried to run to the church for help. The church was locked; turning, he found the front entrance of Mr. Lloyd's Mortuary and Clinic. Inside was the body of the proprietor, and naught but a tangle of medical tools on the ground, scattered through his blood. A single footprint marked the killer's passage. Through the door, he ran into an angry dwarf and a shaking mortician; and, in the middle of arguing with the two, a young woman entered the shop, still in some pain, and seeking medical attention...
A thief gingerly sat up, trying not to jostle his aching head; his "friends" from the thieves' guild had tried to murder him, but did a rather bad job of it. Not that he knew that, the blow from behind had ended his memory. Finding a knife and a note, he stumbled to his feet and wandered down the hill, to check out the barn. Inside, he searched around, seeing a few footprints, and high above... a helmet, impaled on a beam, with a shred of cloth fluttering in the breeze. Looks like someone took a tumble through the roof. He searched the hay, and found a sword - and as nice as it looked, it wasn't, because it zapped him, badly! Leaving it, he wandered into the pub across the street.
Meanwhile, a cleric of a dark god came to, and fell off his chair with a crash. He spent a few minutes trying to remember where and who he was; the potion he had imbibed was meant to kill him, but he managed to survive, losing only his memory. Shrugging, and gathering a broken chair leg to use as a weapon, he decided to head to the pub. Why not?
The third actor in this play is undoubtedly the saddest. Awakening in immense pain, the once-guardsman drank his last health potion, stabilizing himself, though at the cost of his memories. The stroke he had left permanent damage that would never be healed. His memory gone, he could only struggle into his old armor, and go in search of answers. He reached the Mangy Cow the same time a handsome young man, clothed in plate, arrived. The barkeep, recognizing the old man, greeted him by name. "Hey, Burl! You don't look so good..."
He poured some ale, and handed it to the fellow, refusing payment. "You can always drink here for free, good man. You've earned it."
Behind them, a smelly fellow wearing a hyena-skin jacket wandered in. The barkeep frowned. "You, however, pay double."
The thief saw a young woman, who introduced herself as "Sin" - short for Cynthi, the name on his note, perhaps? "What? Cynthia? That witch!?! No! It's short for Sinda'alellechna, my great-grandmother's name!"
The well-armored man set off for the inn; the old man followed, and the thief brought up the rear. They arrived just as another unlikely three were heading upstairs to their rooms - a thin, pale man, a frightened mortician, and an injured woman, missing an eye, but still carrying a sword.
The group retired for the night. In the morning, the thief went for a stroll, looking for some nicer clothes with all the money he had. Walking past the thieves' guild, he was recognized by the two members, who attempted to kill him again. They failed, and lost their lives for the trouble... but he gained a few more knives, a bow, and a handful of arrows, so there's that, right?
Back at the inn, they met with the others. Confessing they had lost their memories, they began working together to find out what was going on. The only clue they had was the thief's note, which lead them to a woman named Cynthia. Still wondering what the sword did, the thief suggested the well-armored fellow try it out. The armored man, reaching to pick it up, felt a jolt of energy, twice as powerful as the one the thief had felt; he nearly fainted, then and there! Dropping the sword, he suggested no one ever do that again.
The group moved to the church, to speak with the vicar; the cleric felt a case of the willies upon entering, and the vicar demanded the ex-corpse leave immediately. He kept his eye on the thief, but reacted with surprise and happiness upon meeting the swordswoman. They seemed to share a connection of some kind. That symbol of the church - a rising sun or starburst - seemed familiar...
Recognizing the design from the sword, the thief suggested the woman try it out. As she lifted it, a flood of warmth and happiness suffused her. Not only was this sword her own, but she could wield two swords at once!
The six descended on Cynthia's. Distracting some guards, they allowed the thief to slip around behind, where he found Cynthia! He threw a knife at her, and she returned in kind a magic missile, and the battle was begon in earnest. The two guards at the front went through the building; the party ran around the sides, charging in. The ex-corpse, having cast a spell into his weapon, swung at the first guard. His blade cut deep, tearing the mail, then blasting the female warlock, her imp familiar, and the other guard with burning fire! The first guard crumpled to the ground, dead, as the others - ineffectually - swung and missed. Cynthia fired another magic missile, striking the thief again, but then the greataxe of the Ruinguard - for that is what he truly was - sliced again, the blade passing through her familiar, the other guard, and finally embedding in Cynthia's spine.
Cynthia dealt with, the party moved into the shed, where they found a great cauldron, guarded by a young girl. The girl took the arm of the Ruinguard, and began to lead him out, but the mortician - really an Ectomancer - began casting a spell, and she changed form. No longer a little girl, but a desert ghoul! All but the ruinguard were paralyzed in shock; she clawed at him, but her touch was not paralyzing, oddly. The others shook themselves from their shock and attacked, the old guard finally stabbing a hole cleanly through the ghoul.
Outside, two more foes were waiting: a bulky barbarian fellow, and a pale-skinned man in a cloak. Between them was Lt. Mangrave, of the city guard - and Cynthia's lover. The fight began as the barbarian began to shift into a werewolf...
Mangrave managed but a single strike before he was brought down. The blade-dancer, two swords flashing, struck down the werewolf, and together, they brought down the cloaked man - a vampire! The cleric struck last, jamming his broken chair leg into the heart of the foul creature, and in a moment, the campire was naught but ash on the wind.
They turned to the casualty - the old guardsman, fired for doing what was right, now struck down by the vampire. A good death, after a long life, full of hardships...
The ruinguard's memory came back slowly. He remembered a conversation; the men who had kidnapped him had said they were going to control him, then swap him for someone he looked like - a lord's son. However, he was that man! The son of a lord of Zahar, sent to earn his battle-scars.
The thief was part of it from the beginning; he had kidnapped the young lordling, and his "friends" turned on him, hoping to be paid more for it. The cleric, too, had assisted with the ritual in bringing the dead man to life again, though none had counted on the man having a bloodline from ancient Zahar, and becoming not only more powerful, but retaining his independance.
The guard, old and tired, had overheard the plot, and tried to stop it, and was fired for his troubles. His suffered a stroke because of it.
The young Ectomancer, Jesper, learned his true calling from his master; his master had put in a call for help from the church...
...Who sent the blade-dancer to investigated. Pursued by corrupt guards, she hid on top of Mr. Bodb's barn, only to fall through the roof. The injury damaged her brain; while she eventually remembered most of her life, there were always parts that would escape her.
Finally, the cleric never really got his memory back. While a simple Neutralize Poison would have sufficed, he never really got around to figuring that out.
That leaves only the black cauldron, the tool of the enemy, to account for. But, I think, its story may not quite be told...
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