Art above created by Michael Clarke.
In the kingdom of Talingarde, many crimes may send you to Branderscar Prison, but the sentence has but one meaning. You are wicked and irredeemable. Each of you received the same greeting when you arrived. You were held down by rough hands and branded upon the arm with a runic F. The mark signifies ‘forsaken’ and the painful scar is indelible proof that each of you has betrayed the great and eternal love of Mitra and his chosen mortal vassals.
Condemned, you face at best a life of shackles and servitude in the nearby salt mines. Others might await the “gentle” ministrations of the inquisitors so that co-conspirators may be revealed and confessions extracted. Perhaps, some of you will be spared this ordeal. Perhaps instead you have come to Branderscar to face the final judgment. In three days, the executioner arrives and the axe falls or the pyre will be lit. Through fire or steel, your crimes will be answered.
You have all been chained together in the same communal cell dressed in nothing but filthy, tattered rags. Manhandled and mistreated, any finery you once possessed is either ruined or long lost. No special treatment has been given any prisoner – male or female, commoner or noble – all of the forsaken are bound and imprisoned together. Your feet are secured by iron cuffs tethered by one long chain. Your arms are secured to the wall above by manacles. A guard is posted right outside the cell day and night. Little thought is given to long term accommodations. At Branderscar, justice comes swift and sure.
Escape seems hopeless. You have all been well searched and every attempt to conceal anything on your person has failed. And if you could somehow slip your bonds and fly out of this prison, where would you go? Who from your former life would want anything to do with the forsaken? Despised, alone and shackled – all that you can do now is await your doom.
For each of you, your old life is over. For each of you, hope is a fading memory. For each of you, justice will be fairly meted. And who can blame fair Talingarde after what each of you has done?
Adventure #1 05.27.2013
With the addition of Cervantes the Pirate the party began to discuss what had brought each to Branderscar Prison. During their discussion Sergeant Blackerly arrived with two guards commanding Zeitram to stand expressing surprise that a fine lady would wish to visit him. Escorted down Zeitram beheld a woman of unearthly beauty dressed in black, face covered by a thin gossamer silk veil. Tears streaking down her face she asked the sergeant to leave them alone together, blank faced the sergeant left them at which point her mournful face changed to a devilishly sly grin.
She stated that her name was Tiadora and that she represented a friend who wished to speak with him and his fellow cell mates. Giving him her silken veil she told him that they had three days to effect an escape of Branderscar Prison and make their way to a manor house on the Old Moor Road at which time they would meet with their mutual “friend.” Message given she rose as the sergeant returned where she thanked him for allowing her to visit with her “beloved” one last time and assured him that searching her beloved would not be necessary.
Upon being returned to his cell, Zeitram informed his fellow prisoners of his strange encounter as well as her request. Revealing the silken veil he removed a patch that contained a set of masterwork thieves tools, with which he used to unlock their manacles. They then noticed that they were being watched by an ogre in an adjacent cell. He promised to assist them if they would set him free. They quickly opened their cell door and freed Grumblejack the ogre.
Moving into the guard chamber they quickly dispatched the two guards and moved down the stairs. Upon opening the door they saw two guards in the great hall. Grumblejack strode forth and struck the closet guard killing him instantly. The other guard blew the signal horn and was quickly engaged and killed by Cervantes and Zeitram, where they observed archers on the top of the gate house across the courtyard. Quickly retreating back into the main building they barred the door.
They set about exploring the castle discovering the mess hall and then the barracks. Where three guards were making themselves ready for battle. Raphael who had donned one of the guard’s uniform informed the guards that the signal horn was a drill and to pay it no mind. The guards satisfied went back to their bunks at which time Raphael closed the door and moved to the kitchen while Cervantes and Kharon barricaded the door with tables from the mess hall. The guards became suspicious as they heard the moving of the furniture and opened the door to find themselves trapped by the mess hall tables. Catching sight of the other prisoners they attempted to push past the tables at which time Grumblejack moved the tables and proceeded to kill the guards.
In the Kitchen they found Sam and Myrtle (two servants for the castle) huddled in the corner of the room. Kharon asked them if they served the Great Asmodeus which they said no that they served Mitra at which point Kharon slew Sam followed by Cervantes slaying Myrtle.
Moving back to the great hall Zeitram unlocked the door to Sergeant Blackerly’s Office and Cervantes broke into the armory. While Cervantes emptied the armory Zeitram and Raphael searched finding a map of the prison and records implicating Sergeant Blackerly in stealing supplies from the prison and selling them for personal profit. They opened the supply room and found that it was quite bare of the supplies needed for optimal operation. Zeitram opened another door leading to the sergeant’s room where they found the sergeant in the process of removing his strongbox.
Engaging the sergeant they were able to subdue him and took him into the supply room where they had found branding irons that had been used on them. The sergeant offered information if Raphael wouldn’t brand him. Raphael agreed provided that the information was useful. Sergeant Blackerly told them that since the signal horn had been sounded that the warden would come down from his tower to lead the remaining guards and so would not obey any command of his to lay down arms. Agreeing that his information was indeed helpful he fulfilled his promise to not brand Sergeant Blackerly and instead had Cervantes do it. After severely beating sergeant Blackerly they tied him up and put him in a cell with the paperwork implicating him on the floor in front of the door leading into the cells, thus sealing his fate.
Moving out the kitchen door they secretly made their way to the wardens tower where they found the first floor empty save for plaques telling the story of Branderscar’s History. The second floor they found to be a library in which they found three valuable books. On the final floor they found the warden’s map of the surrounding area giving them directions to the Old Moor Road.
In finding the tower empty they deduced that the Warden and what remained of the guards were at the gatehouse attempting to keep them contained. Raphael, Zeitram and Grumblejack rushed the gatehouse at which point they were fired upon by two bowman on the top of the gatehouse. One guard released two guard dogs on Zeitram and Grumblejack as Raphael used the window patch from the veil to make a window in the main gate. They dispatched the bowman, the guard and the dogs. Seeing the gate led into an entryway with a second set of doors and arrow slits he told Grumblejack to break down the door leading into the gatehouse itself. Breaking down the door Grumblejack was struck by a magic missile causing him to stagger and fall. Ashe moved to the doorway and spotted a single guard with a longbow and a wizard. Ashe shot the wizard as he casted a spell sending a flaming sphere into her. Cerventes dived over the flaming sphere entering the room and killed the guard with a longsword as Ashe retreated from the doorway shooting the wizard again.
The wizard stated “I will see you all back in your chains” cast a spell and disappeared.
Zietram also dived over the flaming sphere which had now caught the wooden door on fire and moved up the ladder onto the next level where he found the opening mechanisms for the gates and the portcullis. He started to open the gate and was told to stop by Raphael knowing that the wizard had cast an invisibility spell and was still there. Suddenly the flaming sphere moved and struck Cervantes revealing the wizard still in the room. Cervantes attacked and killed him with his longsword.
The party moved out of the castle across the bridge where they found the guardhouse on the landward side empty the guards having fled knowing that they only way the prisoners could have escaped after the signal horn was to have killed everyone else. Using the map they found in the Wardens room they journeyed to the Old Moor Road and found the manor house.
Upon knocking on the door they were met by Tiadora who instructed slaves to take them to their rooms to get them cleaned up, fed and healed so they could be presented to the master.
The party was led by Tiadora to a beautifully appointed office richly decorated with dark wood and sumptuous brocade tapestry. Sitting in a leather high-backed chair was a devilishly handsome fellow who smiles as you enter. “I believe you to be the first to ever escape from Branderscar Prison. Well done! Of course, you had help from the outside,” he said with a wicked smile.
"But enough with pleasantries. You must be curious why I’ve helped you. Rest assured this is no random act of altruism. I have brought you here for a reason. My name is Cardinal Adrastus Thorn. I am the last high priest of Asmodeus left on the island of Talingarde. Once the Prince of Nessus was rightly revered alongside the other great powers. Now, the king of Talingarde has become a puppet to Mitran fanatics who wish to destroy any religion that does not bow to their insipid sun god.
For their blasphemy, I will see the same people who imprisoned and condemned you to suffer. I understand what you went through for I have faced it myself." With that he pulled down his sleeve of his robe revealing his own runic ‘F’ brand. “I am going to burn Talingarde to the ground and from the ashes I will build a new nation that knows its rightful master. I can not do this alone. I seek servants worthy of our Infernal Father’s majesty. Have I found them in you?”
He rose, eyes flashing with hellfire and divine purpose.“Join me!” "Serve me well in this holy endeavor and I will raise you up in the eyes of gods and men. I will make you princes of the new Talingarde. Today, swear fealty to me and to Asmodeus.
“Put aside forgiveness and I shall give you vengeance. Put aside mercy and be made powerful. Put aside peace and become my harbingers of war. What say you? Will you swear your allegiance or will you burn with rest of the blind fools.”
The party agreed
“Excellent. Let us make this official. Signing in blood is traditional.”
He brought out a quill, a silver ritual knife and two copies of a contract written on some unidentifiable leather and written in dark red ink
After reading the contract each of the party signs The Pact of Thorns
Giving the party one of the contracts the other he keeps.
Well done. Your first command: prepare yourselves. Stay within the manor. You are now hunted by the Talirean soldiery. In three days you will begin your training."