RPN Start RPN Characters RPN Mechanics RPN Lore The Awakening It's been two hundred years since the kingdoms last saw peace between those with magic and those without. With the following death of the land's peacekeepers, known in legend as Dragon Wardens, humans allied with orcs and drove those with magic from their lands in fear of the power they could possess against them. As time passed, animosity grew between the two societies. Not but three years ago rumors passed through the lands of a Dark Army rising, a society of Shadow forming within the Twisted Woods once again. The rumor grew to reality as they slowly crept out from the woods, kidnapping innocents for nefarious purposes and slaughtering those who resist. Magical beings began to feel a threat upon their magic as it grows weaker. And then, as the Dark Army grew in number, the threat became too grand to ignore. Humans, orcs, and all manner of magical beings must now set aside their differences to combat the Shadow before it consumes the Four Kingdoms. Hal MidiganThere was no time to waste as fire and ash rained down from the sky. The embrace barely registered before he departed from Wynleth and Charlie, his mind focused on the driving point that led him to the very decision to rush down the slope of the mountain. His family was just beyond the treeline. Hal ran like he never had before, his lungs catching fire with each breath that seemed to become more and more labored. It had to be the ash fall that coated the land in a grey film. He felt it rush past his cheeks and tasted it on his tongue. And just as he exited into the clearing he called out in rasps. “Amah!” Hal yelled as he ran towards the cottage. His home was still in tact, and as if to answer his call his mother walked out onto the porch with an expression of shock. “Hal?” she called back to him in bewilderment. He didn't slow his pace and nearly crashed right into her on his way in. “Where is everyone?” he asked as he rushed inside. There, his two sisters hurriedly stuffed heirlooms into satchels, their eyes glancing towards Hal only to double take and rush towards him in an embrace. “We don't have much-“ Hal’s voice cut off in a coughing fit. “Damn idiot,” his mother mumbled as she approached him calmly and held out a handkerchief. Kathan was always a prepared and knowledgeable woman, and Hal took the large embroidered cloth without question. “You can't be breathing in the ash, boy.” "Do you know what's happening?” he asked. “Where's Bael and Lathen? Is father home?” “One at a time,” Kathan said as she rolled up a loaf of bread. “I know little of what's going on through an old story my grandfather told me. Sometimes mountains explode in fire, but not all mountains can. And when it does, it coats the land in liquid fire that will cool into black rock. But before that time, the air will be toxic. Help me with the meats, Hal.” He did as he was told obediently, his hands reaching up to rush through packing them into the bag. “And the boys? Dad?” "Your father went looking for them last night,” she responded in a terse tone. “Another freedom raid, I'm sure.” She reached up and pulled his head to kiss Hal’s forehead gently. “Let's get going. We set the animals loose already. Everyone, cover your faces!” She slung the bag over her shoulder and pushed her scarf over her nose before heading out. The girls followed suit with Hal rushing to take point. “We are headed for Keep Brandau,” he explained. Adal had one of their goats in tow, her little fingers grasping the rope tightly as it followed behind her diligently. “The ash doesn't flow there, see?” He pointed up to the thick cloud that plumed from the Mouth of the Mountain to note it's direction. The sun was blotted out so much that it looked to nearly be dusk. The earth continued to rumble, the occasional ball of molten rock spewing out of the mountain to crash in the surrounding valley. His sisters flinched anytime they heard a distant boom, and his mother assured them it would be alright. Hal wanted to move at a faster pace often finding himself paces ahead of his family as they followed behind him. His mother walked with a slight limp. “Amah,” he said, “are you hurt?” "No, no," she responded in dismissal. “Nothing to concern yourself with anyway.” He was going to insist and pry into what happened, but before he could even utter a syllable his sister’s screaming pierced through the air. Just above them falling right into their vicinity was a giant ball of flame. Keep BrandauIt was an old keep built hundreds of years ago as a means to protect Baladuri borders. It sat mid way on the mountain face in a grey stone façade that jutted out in towers built for beacons and archers. The main portion of the keep was carved into the mountain that would have supported a small army. After peace was declared between Baladur and Thallas, the keep eventually lost its need to be active. And so its halls had been left abandoned by the kingdom and empty for the small band of villagers. They were on the other side of the chaos, yet they could still feel the trembling earth. Families cried for their lost and murmured to each other assurances they would have a home to return to. Some had brought a few animals from their farms that congregated by a troff in the open courtyard of the modest keep. Chickens scattered about with each newcomer that walked through the open gates. The Midigans marched up the slope of the road, weary from the trek as they removed their coverings. Ash fell from their clothes onto the unscathed landscape greening with Spring life. Their cheeks were stained with tears, the youngest sister still attempting to calm her crying as she gently pat the goat by her side. The other sister had Hal’s coat draped over her shoulders. They eyed Wynleth and Charlie as they passed, their expressions contorted in curiosity and confusion at the sight of their pointed ears. “Go on inside,” Kathan said to the girls. “Find Martha and tell her I'm on my way.” As the daughters obeyed, the mother walked over to the two and knelt down to eye level with the Sur. “You two must be Charlie and Wynleth. And by the looks of it, you're favoring that wrist of yours. Is it broken?” Not long after her, Hal emerged from around the bend of the road. He looked almost lost, his eyes staring out in a state of shock as he approached with lethargic footsteps. Kathan’s gaze glanced over to her son, her eyes brimming with tears before looking back to Wynleth. She held out her hand in a quiet request to observe the elf’s injury. Hal took in a labored breath and coughed into the tattered sleeve of his shirt, and then gave Charlie a pat on the shoulder. “Did everyone make it?” he asked looking between the three. Kathan looked from Wynleth to Charlie in hopes of good news. “Are you both alright?” The Bitter LandsThe man followed Azzara’s pointing, his eyes casting down the path of what he could see of the valley. Mountains jutted up into the partly cloudy skies so high they reach past the white wisps with snowy caps. There was no sign of the volcanic eruption this far out, but word of it piqued the interest of one of the chained, his dirtied face jolting over to look at the trio as the lines trudged past. “An eruption?” the man called out. “Up the valley? Was it near the Mouth of the Mountain?” “Shut him up, Godae!” the man shouted to his cohort. Godae nodded to his leader as he nudged the flanks of his horse to ride up next to the man in chains. His choice of weapon to beat the man was just a simple thick stick the length of his forearm. In two quick successions, Godae brought the stick down on the man, once to his shoulder and another blow to the back of the head. It wasn't enough to knock him out, but enough to cut through the skin. “Shut your mouth or I'll beat you ‘til the wolves come to feed,” he threatened. “Keep moving!” The leader watched the ragtag travelers as his orders were exacted behind him, curious as to their reaction. He waited until it was all settled and quiet before speaking again. “Not much out here,” he said. “Just mines and mountains until Thallas.” His eyes trailed over each member, a sneer flickering at the sight of the Orc. Azzara carried a rather large bag that merited his gaze to linger far longer than it should have. “Best be on your way if you want to get to shelter,” he continued. “I think…eh… Lauderdine is your best bet. Gonna be a while though. May have to fight off some unsavories tonight. Best of luck to you.” LauderdineLauderdine was a town laid out fairly simply. All wider roads led to the Town Center, where atop the central open spaced building was a stalwart bell. Guardsmen were stationed outside the building staring out at the line of businesses before them. During the day, there didn't seem to be too much action within the walls to the point where laughter could even be heard by distant meanderers. In the corner of the town’s center nestled next to a tavern was a red vardo. It was closed and locked tight, the window upon the door small and veiled by a thick cloth. A letter rested upon the nail embedded within the door that read, “I am in the tavern if you need me.” The tavern had a rowdy bunch of patrons that could be heard out in the square. A long window displayed its interior clearly to outsiders to show a full business bustling with people drinking the day away. With their curfew in place, those within Lauderdine could only really partake in such social endeavors during the day. No one seemed to really mind, though it did mean several children were left unattended to roam the streets while their parents were away. There was a woman among the patrons that drew most of the crowd. She could be seen clearly through the window as she danced upon the tops of tables to the beat of the bard’s lively tune. Her dance involved tricks both in step and of the eye, and everyone enjoyed it all immensely. Her raven hair flowed about her flame to mimic her movements her garments glittering with metallic adornments and jewelry. Perhaps this was the woman known as Theresia Ashenbury.